This exciting new 9-day vacation introduces you to the people and places along the Danube from Budapest to Linz in the most active, engaged and fun ways imaginable. Start your vacation with one night in Hungary’s capital city before boarding your cruise ship and heading for Visegrad. The choice is always yours: you might like to learn a little Hungarian in Budapest; attend a medieval knights’ tournament in Visegrad; take a jogging tour around Vienna, or visit the city when it first awakes; meet with a local produce grower in the Wachau Valley, or paddle a canoe; be introduced to a count in his castle; bike to an ancient border defense near Mauthausen or visit World War II’s largest concentration camp; taste locally produced cheese and beer brewed by Trappist monks near Linz, or hike along an old smugglers’ route. And all the while enjoy the comfort of your cruise ship, with its delectable meals and warm, personal service. Certainly your home from home while you explore your new surroundings every day.
Arrive in Budapest, Hungary
Welcome to Budapest, the beautiful “Pearl of the Danube.” This evening, join your Cruise Director for a WELCOME COCKTAIL and brief chat about how you can enjoy the city to the fullest!
Budapest (Embarkation) – Scenic Cruising Around Danube Bend – Visegrád
One of Eastern Europe’s most dynamic cities, Hungary’s capital practically begs you to get out and explore! Awaken refreshed and dig in to a hearty breakfast before making the day your own. CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- take an enjoyable 2-hour WALKING TOUR with some “Fungarian” instruction of useful local words and phrases;
- join a GUIDED BIKE TOUR along the bike paths and car-free areas for a safe and enjoyable way to see the city’s most fantastic sights, or;
- see the best of Budapest on a CITY SIGHTSEEING TOUR featuring Heroes’ Square, Fishermen’s Bastion, Matthias Church, and an inside visit of the OPERA HOUSE.
Afterward, you have free time to shop for Hungarian paprika or handcrafted souvenirs, to savor a piece of cream cake in the world-famous Gerbeaud Café, or to join an optional tour of Budapest’s limestone cave system. This afternoon, transfer to the Avalon Luminary for embarkation. After a mandatory safety exercise, meet your friendly crew and fellow shipmates at a WELCOME RECEPTION. As your ship pulls away from the dock, be sure to have your camera ready for unforgettable views of the magnificent Parliament Building. At dinner, your ship’s chef will delight your tastebuds with Hungarian specialties. Later, as scenic panoramas of the Danube Bend drift by, consider toasting your adventure with a cocktail on the Sky Deck. Your ship docks for the night near Visegrad. (Breakfast, Dinner)
Another exciting day is on tap. After breakfast, CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- cheer your favorite champion at a MEDIEVAL KNIGHTS TOURNAMENT at Visegrád’s Lower Castle, featuring targeting and fighting demonstrations by members of the St. George Knightly Order. During free time here, be sure to explore Palotaház, where stonemasons, smiths, potters, and paper-makers produce their traditional items using age-old techniques, or;
- spend your day in the great outdoors on a GUIDED HIKE through Danube-Ipoly National Park, home to eagles, falcons, bats, terrapins, fire salamanders, and other wildlife.
This afternoon, your ship passes by the mighty Esztergom Basilica, coronation church of Hungary’s monarchs. Relax on board as we sail upstream towards Austria. After a delectable dinner of Viennese specialties, experience the first of 10 locks your ship will pass through on this cruise. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, this “City of Music” inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss—and will inspire you, as well! Waltz ashore and CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- enjoy a BIKE TOUR that takes in the sights along the famed Ringstrasse and areas of Vienna inaccessible to buses and cars;
- slip on your sneakers and join a JOGGING TOUR that shows you the highlights as you run between sites;
- take a unique INSIDERS TOUR that features something different every day. It could be anything, from a visit to a musical instrument maker to a crash course on etiquette and protocol at diplomatic gatherings. You will meet locals, have the chance to prepare some food at a cooking class, and will enjoy other surprises as well, or;
- get a proper introduction to Vienna during a CITY SIGHTSEEING TOUR that includes an inside visit of Belvedere Palace to see Klimt’s celebrated Kiss.
Afterward, you have free time to explore on your own. Maybe stroll through the pedestrian Kärntnerstrasse, take a break for a piece of decadent Sachertorte, or join an optional excursion. Tonight’s onboard dinner pays a delicious tribute to the former Austrian-Hungarian Empire. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
A second full day in Vienna presents even more opportunities to immerse yourself in the magic. CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY for an experience most meaningful to you:
- wrap yourself in the peace of the city at sunrise during an EARLY RISER WALKING TOUR that includes breakfast at a Viennese café and an exclusive viewing of the Habsburg family’s private art collections at the Museum of Fine Arts;
- for a more leisurely start to your morning, skip the walking tour and onshore breakfast and simply join us for the MUSEUM VISIT, which includes time in the ITALIAN & DUTCH MASTERS GALLERY, or;
- perfect for military history buffs, begin with the MUSEUM VISIT of the Habsburg collection, then explore the MILITARY MUSEUM, commemorating the heroic past of the Habsburg Empire.
In your free time later, consider joining an optional guided hike through the vineyards outside town, with a wine tasting and dinner at a Heurigen wine tavern. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Krems – Wachau Valley & Strudengau Scenic Cruising – Grein
Early this morning, arrive in Krems, the eastern gateway to the famed Wachau Valley. After breakfast, CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- PADDLE A CANOE on a guided tour down the Danube and along some of its tributaries, for a completely unique perspective of the river and riverbank villages;
- bask in the fresh air and incredible views on an easy guided BIKE TOUR from Krems to Spitz. Enjoy a break in Dürnstein to see the mesmerizing blue Stiftskirche, and sample local specialties;
- join an interactive WINE WORLD EXPERIENCE with wine tasting, or;
- get a hands-on LOCAL ENCOUNTER that showcases production of regional fruits, vegetables, wine, or other products, depending on the season. A snack and beverage are included.
Back on board, marvel at today’s SCENIC HIGHLIGHT as you sail through the picturesque Wachau Valley. Slowly cruise past the stately Benedictine Melk Abbey, and through the stunning Strudengau, popular among climbers and hikers for its enticing geological formations. Arrive in Grein, and visit GREINBURG or CLAM CASTLE, where you will meet the owner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Grein – Mauthausen – Linz
This morning, a GUIDED WALK through Grein features a visit of its unique historical THEATER, the oldest in Austria still holding regular performances. Back on board, relax, enjoy lunch, and bask in the breathtaking scenery. Disembark in Mauthausen, with evidence of human habitation dating back to the Neolithic Age. Here, we let you place your own personal stamp on your day as you CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- take a GUIDED BIKE TOUR along the Limes Cycle Route and follow part of the northern border line of the Roman Empire, which in the 2nd century AD ran from the Dutch border all the way to the Black sea;
- visit the 9th-century ST. FLORIAN MONASTERY, an architectural rival to Melk Abbey. While exploring, you may meet one of the monks (when available) or attend a short music recital, or;
- join a heart-wrenching tour of MAUTHAUSEN CONCENTRATION CAMP, one of World War II’s largest and most brutal Nazi work camps.
This evening in Linz, Austria’s third largest city, optional theater and music excursions are available—or you can mingle with the locals at a fun pub crawl! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Engelhartszell – Schlögen Oxbow Scenic Cruising – Linz
As you slept, your ship arrived in the pretty market town of Engelhartszell near the German border. Step ashore and CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- visit the stunning rococo ENGELSZELL ABBEY to tour its brewery, explore its SENSORY GARDEN—complete with stone labyrinth, herb garden, and vineyard—and attend a TASTING of locally produced cheeses and beer brewed by the Trappist monks, or;
- visit a Trout Circus, an experience that will create memories that will stay forever with you; on the way back join a short GUIDED HIKE and explore the area of Engelhartszell.
Back on your ship, an excellent lunch of Bavarian specialties will leave you energized and ready to join an exhilarating HIKE ALONG THE DANUBE. Fresh air and incredible vistas await as you watch the Avalon Luminary pass through the Schlögen Oxbow, a particularly beautiful horseshoe-shaped curve of the river. Join the ship in Aschach, and prepare for an exquisite GALA FAREWELL DINNER featuring foods specially paired with just the right area wines or beers. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning! (Breakfast)