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The Classic Danube

Overview

Travel by Coach Days
  • See the classical city of Vienna
  • Visit picturesque Bratislava, Europe’s smallest capital
  • Discover stunning Budapest
  • Journey through the beautiful wine producing area of the Wachau Valley

Enjoy a classic cruise along the famous Danube River, as it snakes its way through central Europe. We’ll be sure to witness stunning scenery as we cruise along the beautiful valleys of the river and discover historic cities and villages as well as architectural wonders - a truly unforgettable experience awaits you.

Must See: Melk Abbey

Melk Abbey is a baroque masterpiece perched on a rocky outcrop above the town of Melk overlooking the River Danube.

Part palace, part monastery and part opera set, it has a history that extends back to 1089 and is among the world’s most famous monastic sites. The monastic community of Melk is over 900 years old and the black-robed Benedictine monks are still in residence and can be seen strolling amid the marble sculptures and frescoed walls.

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This Holiday is Great For

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Itinerary

Day One: UK to Belgium
Across to Calais and our overnight hotel.

19 June departures only
In order to improve the outbound journey to your river cruise ship the overnight hotel on night 1 will now be in Aachen, Germany instead of Liege, Belgium.

22 May and 14 August departures only
In order to improve the outbound journey to your river cruise ship, the overnight hotel on night one will now be in the Cologne area on a bed and breakfast basis. There will be an en route dinner at a local restaurant in the Ghent area.

Day Two: Belgium to Linz
Depart after breakfast and travel through Europe to join the MV Esmeralda in Linz and settle in to your cabin and enjoy dinner this evening. (B,D)

Day Three: Linz: Melk: Krems
A leisurely morning cruise as we sail to Melk, nestled in the Wachau Valley, with its baroque Benedictine monastery and renaissance Schallaburg Castle. We continue later today to Krems arriving in time for dinner. Enjoy free time or join the optional wine tasting excursion. We moor overnight. (B,L,D)

Day Four: Krems to Vienna
We arrive at the elegant city of Vienna after lunch. Discover the architectural wonder of St Stephen’s Cathedral and the famous Ringstrasse on our included city tour. Why not try one of the renowned delicious cakes and pastries in the numerous cafes and bars? Join us this evening on one of our optional tours, Vienna by night. (B,L,D)

Day Five: Vienna to Bratislava
A morning at leisure or take advantage of the optional visit to magnificent Schonbrunn Palace before our afternoon sailing to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia and the only national capital that borders two countries. (B,L,D)

Day Six: Bratislava to Esztergom
Take the opportunity to explore this fascinating city this morning. During lunch we set sail for the town of Esztergom. Join us this evening for our optional Traditional Slovak Evening excursion. (B,L,D)

Day Seven: Esztergom to Budapest
A morning cruise takes us past the famous Danube bend passing by some of the oldest settlements in Hungary. Lunchtime arrival in Budapest, the queen of the Danube and one of the most beautiful capitals in Europe. Here, where the river separates the old and new towns, Buda and Pest. This afternoon we enjoy an included city tour of this lively city seeing the magnificent Parliament building and spectacular Chain Bridge. Be sure to witness the city from one of the many vantage points to enjoy the beauty of the cityscape. (B,L,D)

Day Eight: Budapest to Nuremberg
We disembark the MV Esmeralda in Budapest and travel from Budapest to the city of Nuremberg in Germany for our overnight stay arriving in time for dinner. (B,D)

Day Nine: Nuremberg to Belgium
After breakfast we continue our journey through Germany to our overnight hotel in Belgium in time for dinner. (B,D)

Day Ten: Belgium to UK
We travel on to Calais for our return crossing 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!
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Cabins


Ship Gallery

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The Local Area

Included Excursions

Budapest City Tour

One of the most magnificent cities in the world, Budapest is filled with incredible sights and sounds. Join us as we take a city tour to learn more about this wonderful capital of Hungary, with its stunning architecture, historical attractions and marvellous culture.

Admire sights such as the Hungarian Parliament building and Liberty Square, with its mixture of art nouveau and historicist architecture. There’s also the House of Terror Museum, the beautiful St Stephen's Basilica and the neo-Gothic Fisherman's Bastion.

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Half Day: Vienna City Tour

Vienna is a city many have been enthralled with in the past, as it has a fascinating history and is known for being a cultural hub for musicians, writers and artists alike. With amazing architecture, many attractions and a fantastic atmosphere, this city is a must-visit when in Austria. 

We’ll enjoy an optional tour of the city in the afternoon, in order to explore Vienna’s many sights. This will take us to the prime locations, so we can really make the most of our time in this excellent destination.

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Optional Excursions

Evening Krems wine tasting

A chance to join us for an evening of wine tasting. This optional excursion includes a tour of the cellars, followed by wine tasting of five different Danube wines with local breads. So come and experience, and compare the different quality levels, colours, grape varieties, characteristics and learn how the different wines of this region are produced.

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Hidden Bratislava

Join us as we discover one of the smallest and most picturesque capitals of Central Europe. Our tour commences by local tourist train, we pass the Slovak Philharmonic Hall, the Slovak National Theatre around the Old Historical Town to the Archbishops Summer Residence. We also see Blumental Church, the bustling commercial street of Obchodna with its many shops, the buildings of the Technical University, Slovak Radio, and the Slovak National Bank.

We then head to Bratislava’s imposing Castle and through the garden suburb and onto Vienna Gate and Castle Hill, where we enjoy majestic views of the city before heading to the Old Town. Our tour continues on foot where we see Archbishop Place, St. Martin Cathedral – the previous Coronation Church of the Hungarian Kings – Academia Istropolitana – the oldest University dated from the 15th century, Main Square with its Old Town Hall and the Opera House and the famous manhole - Ganymedes.   

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Illuminated Budapest

Budapest is a beautiful city, even more so at night. Marvel at the beautiful illuminated buildings and bridges as we drive past Parliament and Heroes' Square on the Pest side of the city to a local chapel, here we enjoy a short organ concert along with a glass of champagne. We then head across Chain Bridge up to Castle Hill on the Buda side of the city, here you will enjoy spectacular views of Budapest and beyond, before heading back to the ship.  

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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.

 

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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.

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Schonbrunn Palace

Join us as we visit magnificent Schonbrunn Palace, former summer residence of the Hapsburgs. 

We take a guided tour of the state rooms. Highlights include the long 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.

 

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Slovakian Evening

Join us for this unique evening as we travel to the nearby famous wine region of Senkvice on the outskirts of Bratislava. Our expert guide gives us a full insight into the local customs and traditions of this region of Slovakia. Almost every household in the Senkvice region produces their own wine.

This evening we are given a traditional Slovakian welcome by our friendly host Ivan into his home to sample some of his locally produced wines. We learn about the different quality levels, colours, grape varieties, characteristics and the production of his wine. Ivan’s wife Frantiska is known locally for her baking, we get to sample some of her delicious cakes. There will also we the opportunity to walk to the vineyards (optional).

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Vienna by night

Join us as we get to know Vienna by night with our short city tour taking in the Ringstrasse where you will be dazzled by the majestic buildings and bright lights. We see the giant Ferris Wheel, House of Johann Strauss where he composed the Blue Danube Waltz. We then cross the Danube to the city centre seeing the Ringstrasse with monuments of Radetzky, Maria Theresia and Mozart. We also see the State Opera, Parliament, Karlsplatz and the Imperial Palace before passing by the birthplace of the composer Franz Schubert and on to our wine tavern in a nearby village.

Here we sample the wonderful atmosphere of this busting city as a local Schrammel musician plays the accordion or violin whilst we enjoy a glass of wine and sparkling water, a truly Viennese experience to remember.

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