Holiday merrymaking …gingerbread, mulled wine, colorful lights, glorious decorations, handmade goodies galore… Get into the Spirit of the Season on our cruise on the Danube to Europe’s most famous Christmas Markets – explore the imperial city of Vienna, Budapest…the Paris of the East… the impeccably preserved Old Town of Bratislava…and Prague, the City of 100 Spires…join us for a Christmas (and shopping) extravaganza!
Day 1 - Depart for Vienna, Austria
Transfer to the airport from Calendar House and check-in for the overnight flight to Vienna.
Day 2 - Arrive Vienna
Arrive in Vienna, Austria’s imperial capital that offers a beautiful blend of baroque and modern architecture along with cozy coffee houses, wine taverns, fascinating museums, and opulent palaces. Vienna owes much of its fame to the composers that lived and worked here including Mozart, Beethoven, and Hayden. Passengers are welcome to board our ship at 6:00 p.m. After comfortably settling into your cabins, we’ll introduce our crew at a welcome cocktail reception. Tonight’s dinner will have an Austrian flair. (D)
Day 3 - Vienna - Budapest, Hungary
There are so few places in the world that evoke the Christmas spirit like Vienna with its beautiful decorations, imperial palaces, the sound of carols on the wind, and the glimmer of Christmas lights. Join us for an optional guided tour of Vienna, the city of music, art, culture, and fine food. See the Old City and Hofburg, the former Imperial Palace of the Habsburg dynasty, as well as the Sisi Museum, dedicated to the much beloved and tragic Empress Elizabeth. Step into the joy of Christmas at Vienna’s famous Christmas Market, that dates-back to the Middle Ages, when Albrecht I granted Vienna’s citizens the privilege of holding a December Market or “Krippenmarkt” in 1298. Amazing handcrafted gifts, hot roasted chestnuts, and spiced punch stands are just some of the highlights. This afternoon, we depart Vienna and cruise past splendid scenery towards Budapest. (B,L,D)
Day 4 - Budapest
Arrive in Budapest, known as the “Paris of the East” because of its superb Roman ruins, Baroque, Art Nouveau, and Post- Modern architecture, and a beguiling city center that is listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO. Join us on an optional guided tour of this tantalizing city that is gracefully spread out along the riverbank of the storied Danube. Budapest is separated by the river into two entities: Buda on one side with its hills and valleys, and Pest on the other with its flat expanse; each offers memorable views. Enjoy some free time this afternoon; you may want to take in one of the city’s fine museums or simply wander the markets. This evening we will depart Budapest and make our way through the Danube Bend, world renowned for its remarkable scenery on our way to the fairytale city of Bratislava. This evening, enjoy a lavish dinner and entertainment onboard as the boat wends its way past high snow-covered hills and valleys. (B,L,D)
Day 5 - Budapest - Bratislava, Slovakia
The morning will be spent cruising past some of the most beautiful scenery on the Danube it is Christmas picture perfect and sure to get you in the holiday spirit. This is a good time to relax in the warmth of the ships lounge, make new friends, and write those Christmas cards that you have been meaning to send. A gloriously preserved Baroque Old Town and the grand White Fortress greet us as we reach Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. This afternoon, you will get to know this interesting city on an optional guided tour that will show you the main historic sights and churches beautifully decorated for the season. There will be plenty of time for you to discover the magical Christmas Market that can be found all around the center of town. The Main Square and Hviezdoslavovo Square have the largest number of stalls. Don’t spoil your appetite by sampling too many delicious potato pancakes (“lokshe”) with various fillings because tonight is our gala dinner and evening. Late in the evening we begin our cruise back to Vienna. (B,L,D)
Day 6 - Vienna - Prague, Czech Republic
Our ship has silently made its way up the Danube and, early this morning we reach Vienna. Enjoy one last breakfast on board before disembarking at 9.00 a.m. and say goodbye to Vienna as we make our way to Prague, the bustling and exciting capital of the Czech Republic. Known as the “City of a Hundred Spires,” Prague is one of the most photogenic cities in Europe.
After we arrive and check in, you are free to explore this city on your own. One of the best ways to discover Prague is by taking a walk. You may want to wander along Mala Strana, home to Prague Castle, a must-see attraction, and the St Nicholas Church; or you may want to get off the beaten path with a visit the Vinohrady neighborhood boasting hip cafes and eateries. Another option is to explore Prague’s Old Town Square, which has been the heart of the city and its main market square since the 11th century.
Prague’s Market Square, one of the most enchanting in Europe, is the main setting for the Christmas Market. Old Town Square where almost every building is a work of art; includes several masterpieces like the majestic medieval Old Town Hall, the ancient Gothic Spires of the Church of Our Lady Before Tym, the Stone Bell House, the Kinsky Palace, and the famous 15th century Astronomical Clock and Tower. Nearby, you may want to stroll along the cobbled Charles Bridge to the Hradcany District dominated by Prague’s ancient castle. For a bird’s eye view of the city climb the Old Town Hall Tower. (B)
Day 7 - Prague
This morning, we have an exclusive optional tour of the city that includes all the highlights that you might not want to miss. Spend the rest of the day exploring this vibrant capital city and shopping at its’ festive Christmas Markets. Look for puppets, children’s toys, hand-woven clothes, garnet rings, and much more. Don’t forget to indulge in a tasty pernik cookie – a special Czech gingerbread with an irresistible aroma! Tonight, we get together with our fellow travelers for a farewell dinner and to share our warm winter memories with our newly made friends. (B,D)
Day 8 - Depart Prague
Our Christmas and cruising fun come to an end after breakfast. Disembark the M/S Vivaldi after 9am. Transfer to the airport for our flight home. Once in the USA, we transfer to Calendar House.