Splendours of the Danube

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2 Included Excursions
  • Visit wonderful Schonbrunn Palace
  • Admire spectacular Vienna
  • Explore beautiful Budapest
  • Discover Bratislava’s Old Town
  • Stroll around beautiful Durnstein
  • Spend time in Linz

Let us take you on a wonderful cruise through the valleys, vineyards and scenery that make the Danube so special. Immerse yourself in the history and culture of classical Vienna, with its many sights from the glorious Hapsburg era to Budapest, ‘The Pearl of the Danube’ and the sheer grandeur of Bratislava.

This Holiday is Great For

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  • 46x44-icon-culture
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  • 46x44-icon-history
  • 46x44-icon-nature
  • 46x44-icon-scenery
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Day One - UK to Rotterdam
We travel to Hull, where we board our overnight ferry crossing to Rotterdam, enjoying an evening meal on-board. (D)
Day Two - Rotterdam to the Rhineland Area
We continue our journey from Rotterdam to our overnight hotel in the Rhineland Area. (B,D)

Day Three - Rhineland Area to Linz, cruise to Melk
Embarkation in Linz and welcome on board the MV Esmeralda.  Late this evening we commence our cruise by sailing to Melk. (B,D)
Day Four - Melk to Vienna 
Early this morning we arrive in Melk, located at the point where the River Danube enters the Wachau Valley. This small riverside town is home to a baroque Benedictine monastery set on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube. Later this afternoon we continue our cruise to the reach the elegant city of Vienna by evening. (B,L,D)

Day Five - Vienna to Budapest
Today we enjoy an included excursion discovering the splendour of Vienna, the home of the waltz, the architectural wonder of St Stephen’s Cathedral. The Viennese are proud of their musical heritage and has welcomed composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Strauss as residents. We also visit Schonbrunn Palace and Gardens, the former summer residence of the imperial family, convey the changing tastes and styles throughout Austria’s history. Whilst in Vienna it is a must to sample the renowned cakes and pastries at one of the many traditional coffee houses, During late afternoon we leave Vienna and sail towards Budapest. (B,L,D)

Day Six - Budapest to Bratislava
Arrival at the Hungarian capital, Budapest, by lunchtime. Budapest is often referred to as a city with two personalities – with the hilly Buda area and flatter Pest area occupying opposite river banks. It is a city of full of surprises with a lively centre, splendid architecture, elegant promenade, hidden courtyards, pretty parks and lavish spa baths. Early this evening our sailing commences to Bratislava. (B,L,D)

Day Seven - Bratislava to Durnstein
Our cruise brings us to Bratislava after lunch. Dubbed ‘The Little Big City’, the Slovakian capital boasts a vibrant atmosphere and a unique history. Bratislava Castle is perched at the top of a hill and overlooks the cobblestones, winding lanes and historic buildings of the old town. This evening we depart Bratislava and continue our cruise to Durnstein. (B,L,D)

Day Eight - Durnstein to Linz       
Arriving after breakfast we spend a morning in Durnstein, a small town in the Wachau Valley, surrounded by vineyards. The town’s most famous landmark is the medieval ruins of Kuenringerburg Castle, sat high above the town, where Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned from 1192 to 1193. At lunchtime we depart Durnstein and enjoy an afternoon sailing to Linz. (B,L,D)

Day Nine - Linz 
We wake up in Linz. Spend a day at leisure in this lovely city, characterised by a mix of enchanting, medieval architecture and ultra modern, eye-catching buildings. For a panoramic view of the city one of Europe's steepest traction railway makes its way from the centre up the Postlingberg hill. Relax in one of the town’s coffee houses and try a slice of the famous Linzer Torte. (B,L,D)

Day Ten - Linz to the Rhineland Area
We bid farewell to the MV Esmeralda and travel to our overnight hotel in the Rhineland Area. (B,D)
Day Eleven - Rhineland Area to Rotterdam
In the morning, we transfer to Rotterdam to embark our overnight ferry back to the UK with dinner included. (B,D)

Day Twelve - Hull to Home
After breakfast, we disembark the ferry in Hull and continue home. (B)

MV Esmeralda

The hugely popular MV Esmeralda is our largest River Cruise ship, and this exclusively-chartered vessel is perfect for Europe River Cruises exploring some of the most beautiful scenery. Discover wonderful landscapes during our relaxing Danube River Cruises, and relax on-board, making the most of the Esmeralda’s excellent facilities. 

With her comfortable lounge areas and attractive decor, the MV Esmeralda is sure to be the perfect home from home just our scenic River Cruises. You’ll be able to travel in style and comfort as we make our way along one of the world’s most enchanting rivers, discovering mesmerising attractions, towns and cities. And, this year, we have even more departures to choose from! 

Enjoy delicious meals on-board the MV Esmeralda, including buffet breakfasts, three-course lunches and four-course evening meals, as well as exciting gala dinners! When the weather’s nice, you should absolutely spend some time on the sun deck, where you’ll find sun loungers and a shaded area from which you can admire the ever-changing scenery. You can also make your way to the lounge, with its comfortable leather couches and plush chairs. 

You’re sure to make lots of new friends during our relaxing River Cruises on-board the MV Esmeralda, and in the evening you’ll be able to chat with your new companions over a drink or two at the bar. Or, for those feeling more energetic, you could always dance the night away along to our talented on-board keyboardist! 

We promise to take good care of you during our MV Esmeralda River Cruises - we can’t wait to welcome you on board!



Ship Gallery

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The Local Area

Included Excursions

Discover Vienna and Schonbrunn Palace

The majestic city of Vienna has a rich history and an abundance of historical buildings and museums. Our panoramic tour gives us a wonderful overview of the city, as we drive along the famous Ringstrasse, which encompasses the city centre. Along the way we see a host of sights, including the State Opera House, the Johann Strauss House, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Natural History Museum, the Parliament, and much more.
We then continue on to the magnificent Schonbrunn Palace, former summer residence of the Hapsburgs. The Palace is a World Cultural Heritage site and Austria's most-visited sight. We take a guided tour of the state rooms, with highlights including the Great Gallery, the Round and Oval Chinese Rooms, the Millions Room, so named because Maria Teresa allegedly paid over a million silver florins to have it decorated. We also have time to see the beautiful formal gardens.


Imperial Budapest

Join us on our guided tour of this historical city, which is actually two cities astride the Danube. Our excursion takes us by coach on a visit to both.

On the Pest side, we see St Stephen’s Basilica, Vajdahunyad Castle and Heroes’ Square, which is dominated by the impressive Millenary Monument, home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

We then cross to Buda and the Castle District, where we find the seven-hundred year-old Matthias Church, one of the jewels of Budapest. We also see the famous Fisherman’s Bastion, which offers great views over the city.

The city is home to the largest medicinal bath in Europe (Szechenyi Medicinal Bath) and the third-largest Parliament building in the world, once the largest in the world. The city also contains the third-largest church in Europe (Esztergom Basilica) and the second largest Baroque castle in the world (Godollo).



Optional Excursions

Cultural Linz

The city of Linz has stood either side of the Danube since Roman times and was one of the major cities of the Habsburg Empire. We will take a guided walking tour of the historic city, with the many of the buildings we’ll walk between in the Old Town dating from its 15th century heyday. The city mixes the old and new with the beautiful Brucknerhaus concert hall and Lentos art museum on the banks of the Danube reflecting its growing international reputation as a modern cultural centre. Close to Linz castle is constructed from the debris of Roman buildings.


Durnstein Transfer

This charming town on the Danube River in Austria is a wonderful example of the traditional Austrian way of life. With its beautiful surrounding scenery and slow pace, we’ll enjoy excellent time at leisure to discover the sights here. The major attraction is the castle, perched high above the town it was the place in 1192 that Richard the Lionheart was captured by the Duke of Austria during the Third Crusade.


Evening Mozart and Strauss Concert

Vienna is undoubtedly Europe’s musical capital, and this excursion will give us the opportunity to enjoy the music of two of Austria’s favourite sons. Sit back and relax as we listen to the music of Johann Strauss, the Waltz King, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the infant prodigy. 

We make the short journey by coach to the concert hall for an evening full of Viennese charm, with the lilting sound of waltzes, polkas, arias and duets, as well as operetta and piano concerto melodies. Accompanied by excellent opera vocalists and our enchanting ballet soloists, Vienna's classical music reveals itself as a living firework display for all the senses taking us back to the days of old Vienna for a truly unforgettable evening.


Horse Drawn Fiaker Carriage Ride

We’ll enjoy an enchanting ride in a traditional Viennese Fiaker - a horse-drawn carriage. This will allow us to see the sights of this amazing city in a way we’re sure to remember forever - admire the beautiful architecture, soak up the wonderful atmosphere and make the most of this charming experience.


Majestic Melk Abbey

Stift Melk (Melk Abbey) is a Baroque-era masterpiece, located above the town of Melk on a rocky outcrop overlooking the river Danube. Part palace, part monastery and part opera set, Melk is a magnificent vision thanks greatly to its upward-reaching twin towers. Capped with baroque helmets and cradling a 208-foot-high dome, this abbey is a true Baroque masterpiece.

Our tour of the abbey includes the Imperial rooms, Marble Hall, and the balcony, which offers fine views of the river. It’s likely that Napoleon probably used this room as a lookout when his headquarters were based in Melk for his campaign against Austria.

We also see the magnificent library, with more than 100,000 books, nearly 2,000 manuscripts, and a superb ceiling fresco by the master Paul Troger; the Marmorsaal, whose windows on both sides enhance the ceiling frescoes; and the glorious Stiftskirche (abbey church) of Saints Peter and Paul, an exquisite example of the Baroque style.

Following the tour you can enjoy some free time to wander around the abbey’s park with its impressive Baroque garden, the recently restored northern bastion. Or you may just wish to sit and relax in the abbey’s restaurant with a coffee and admire the beautiful views.



Panoramic Bratislava

Bratislava is a beautiful city, with a number of fantastic views to be seen across the city. On this tour we will visit some of these and see great sights while learning something of the history of this great Danube city. We’ll travel to the Slavin war memorial, at the top of a hill, from where you can see much of the city and beyond as well as seeing this solemn and impressive memorial to the Slovakian and Russian war dead. We’ll also head closer to the centre of the city for close up views of the old town, castle, pretty St Martins Church and the iconic UFO Bridge, the symbol of the city.