Your holiday summary

Holiday type River cruises
Country Germany
Hungary
Travel type Train
Price range From £2199
Travel partner Riviera Travel
Duration 13 nights
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0330 333 6751

River cruise the heart of Europe - MV Serenade 2

This fourteen-day tour takes you on an amazing journey from Cologne in the heart of the Rhine valley to Vienna and finally Budapest on the banks of the Danube. Your floating accommodation is the MV Serenade 2, one of the most luxurious vessels cruising the inland waterways of Europe. You will be suitably impressed with the high quality, sumptuous accommodation and simply delicious cuisine in such stylish and relaxing surroundings.

Our journey south takes in so many incredible visits and sites starting in Koblenz and then onto the picturesque town of Boppard, continuing through the stunning Rhine Gorge and onto beautiful Rudesheim, one of the most famous wine towns on the Rhine. Next, we cruise to Mainz and then along the river Main to Miltenberg, one of Germany’s best-preserved medieval villages.

The cruise continues towards Wurzburg situated at the head of Germany’s ‘Romantic Road’ where we have a walking tour and time to visit the amazing baroque palace. Next day it’s onto Bamberg, quite simply one of the most beautiful small towns in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Having seen so much we are still only at our halfway point on our cruise. Next we berth in Nuremberg for a guided tour of this historic city, probably most remembered as the location of the trials at the end of WWII. From here we pass through the Main-Danube canal to the picturesque river Danube, one of the most romantic and beautiful rivers in the world, and our first stop, Regensburg.

Over the next five days we take in so much that Bavaria, Austria and Hungary can offer. We stop in Passau and then onto Melk and culminate our time in Austria in classical Vienna, home of Strauss and many great composers. This city offers up so much wonderful architecture as well as a host of other things to see including the Spanish riding school.

Cruising into Hungary, we soon arrive in imperial Budapest, straddling the picturesque Danube. After a guided tour of this palatial city we spend the evening on board, where the Captain hosts another spectacular dinner, an excellent finale to this most comprehensive and yet relaxing cruise.

Included

    Prices are per person, based on two people sharing a twin cabin with a limited number of single cabins subject to availability on the Beethoven (lower) deck at a supplement of £1,799 per person. The price includes full board from dinner on your day of arrival until breakfast on your final day; morning/afternoon tea and coffee; all visits, excursions, airport/station transfers, coach travel as mentioned, travel to and from port of embarkation and services of an experienced tour manager. Please note flights are at a supplement.

  • Standard class reserved seat on Eurostar from London St. Pancras or flight from Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham or Edinburgh (at a supplement)
  • Admire the stunning scenery of the Rhine Gorge, Main and Danube
  • Guided tour of 2000 year old Koblenz
  • Stop in picturesque Boppard
  • Rudesheim - a true Rhineland wine town
  • Visit to Mainz - once home to Gutenberg - father of modern printing
  • See Miltenberg - one of Germany’s best preserved medieval towns
  • Guided tour of baroque Wurzburg
  • Walking tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bamberg
  • Tour of Nuremberg - steeped in ancient and modern history
  • Including visit of the site of the infamous Nuremberg Trials and Nazi rally grounds
  • Visit to the amazingly preserved medieval city of Regensburg
  • Stop in Passau - the confluence of the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers
  • Visit Melk Abbey - the majestic Benedictine monastery
  • Guided tour of Vienna - city of the Hapsburgs
  • Day in Budapest with guided tour - absorb the unique atmosphere
  • Price includes full-board from dinner on your first day of arrival until breakfast on your final da
  • The services of our experienced tour manager
Day 1
You take the Eurostar from London St. Pancras International or Ebbsfleet International, arriving in Brussels approximately 2 hours later, where a coach will take you over the German border to the MV Serenade 2, moored in Cologne’s picturesque historic centre. Or you can fly to Dusseldorf from where a coach will take you to the ship. The dedicated crew will welcome you aboard, ensuring you settle into your comfortable and extremely well-appointed cabin, and familiarise yourself with the ship: your first class floating hotel.

Day 2
The first morning on a river cruise is always a thrill. Awakening to the gentle lapping of the water and the colourful valley sides slipping effortlessly past your cabin window, there really is no other holiday experience quite like it. We moor and visit the historical centre of Koblenz, dominated by its immense fortress overlooking the confluence of the Rhine and the Moselle.

Founded by the Romans, this morning we take a guided walk around the old town exploring its twisting streets and picturesque squares. Admire the beautifully restored historic house facades and gorgeous covered passageways, lined by attractive boutiques in such historic surroundings whilst resisting the aroma of fresh coffee drifting from the many street cafés!

During a delightful lunch we cruise to Boppard, ‘Pearl of the Rhine’, wonderfully situated on a sweeping meander, it really is one of the most attractive villages in the Rhineland. Its delightful stone quayside is lined by boats of all descriptions against a backdrop of archetypical half-timbered buildings and cobbled streets, all surrounded by Germany’s finest Roman walls. Early evening what could be better than taking a gentle stroll along the waterfront before enjoying another excellent dinner with your like-minded fellow travellers.

Day 3
As we round another bend in the river, Boppard disappears behind us, the sun rises over the surrounding hilltops, clearing the light morning mist, as you experience one of the real highlights of your cruise, the passage through the Rhine Gorge. Here the valley narrows, the current is swifter and the towering valley sides soar to over 1,000 feet, crowned at every turn of the tortuous river by the precarious ruins of castles that once held sway over passing mariners. Birds of prey glide on the rising thermals, whilst herons and kingfishers display their legendary fishing skills in a wonderful display. We pass rocky outcrops and around endless twisting bends to the famous Loreley Rock, where legend has it, enchanting maidens lured unsuspecting sailors to watery graves.

Next we call at Rudesheim, a true Rhine wine town with many famous wines available to sample, as you wander the typical backstreets. Especially worth exploring is the excellent mechanical music museum, a superb collection of 350 intricate antique musical instruments and musical boxes from all over the world, many still in working order. This evening, the atmospheric surroundings of the ship’s restaurant promise another memorable meal.

Day 4
This morning we take the short cruise to the confluence of the rivers Rhine and Main at the fascinating town of Mainz. An important Roman city for 500 years, with the largest amphitheatre north of the Alps, it is home to the fine St Stephen’s church where light flickers through beautiful blue stained glass windows with their intricate biblical figures - a masterpiece by the great artist Marc Chagall. Mainz’s most famous son though is Gutenberg, father of modern printing, and there is an excellent museum where you can see a reconstruction of his earliest press, as well as two original Gutenberg Bibles, the earliest books ever printed in Europe. During dinner our ship cruises up the River Main.

Day 5
This morning we cruise between dense forests to the beautiful small town of Miltenberg. Developing through the Middle Ages under the powerful protection of the nearby castle, surrounded by walls, it is one of Germany’s best preserved medieval villages. Disembark and take a look at this remarkable spot, reflecting on the typical painted gables and walls, the triangular main ‘square’ and one of Germany’s oldest inns.

During lunch we cruise around the first of the many meandering bends which so characterise the River Main, pausing at Wertheim, one of those towns which is a joy to stumble across - completely unknown on the mainstream tourist trail. What a lovely surprise to find such a fascinating collection of buildings including the pointed tower and the fine castle, rambling across the high spur which overlooks the confluence of the rivers Main and Tauber. Please note: when cruising from Mainz to Passau the Sun Deck is closed due to low bridges.

Day 6
Breakfast is taken whilst cruising towards Wurzburg, situated at the head of Germany’s ’Romantic Road’ and we have a walking tour of this lovely city. A former seat of the Prince Bishops, their truly magnificent Residenz is one of Europe’s finest Baroque palaces, constructed to compete with the greatest courts of the day such as Vienna and Versailles, which in artistic terms they more than succeeded in doing.

On the opposite bank the huge Marienberg fortress towers menacingly above the river and both buildings feature fine royal gardens where you can take in the splendid views and ponder the thoughts of the historic rulers that have strolled here before you. Returning to the ship, your cruise continues along the scenic upper reaches of the Main.

Day 7
Today we visit Bamberg, quite simply one of the most beautiful small towns in Europe, easily on a par with Prague! Noted for its beer, some of the finest in Germany, it is first and foremost a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The masterpiece you see today began its artistic journey during the 11th century when the Emperor Heinrich II planned a capital as grand as Rome and selected Bamberg as the location for this. Although it never became as large as Rome, for its size it has a wealth of fine buildings. Pride of place goes to its outstanding gothic cathedral though this is but one example of the city’s quite exceptional beauty and wealth of architecture, from Romanesque to Baroque. Not only is it historic, it is stunning too with a network of canals like Venice and the fascinating tangle of lanes, lined with merchant’s houses which culminate in its picturesque square which still holds a traditional daily market. Bamberg really is a gem and we have a walking tour of this superb baroque little town.

Day 8
This morning we call at Nuremberg which sadly will always be associated with the Nazi period, where the Third Reich held court against a grandiose background of marching grounds and later with the international war crimes tribunal which brought down the final curtain on that notorious regime. What is less well known is that Nuremberg is regarded as the capital of Germany’s First Reich, the era that lasted a thousand years, and was central to the trade routes and power of the Holy Roman Empire. The city also played an important role in the Reformation and the spread of technology across Europe.

We include a guided tour taking in the great ramparts and many fine historic buildings from Nuremberg’s Imperial Age including the Kaiserburg Castle, Craftsmen’s Court, the Church of St Lawrence and the Market Square with its beautiful fountain. After lunch there’s a host of options to draw your interest, some may wish to visit the Nazi rally grounds and the site of the trials where Goebbels and Hess once stood accused. Others will find fascination in Germany’s National Railway Museum.

Day 9
This morning, we cruise along the Main-Danube canal to Kelheim and the Danube, one of the most famous and beautiful rivers in the world. We arrive at Regensburg, originally a Roman garrison guarding the most north-westerly point of their empire, dominated by its cathedral, the finest in Bavaria. This afternoon take a stroll into the historic city centre and visit the Alt Rathaus, the town hall with its great Gothic hall where many of the great events in Germany’s history were solemnised.

Regensburg calls itself Germany’s best preserved medieval city and its hard to argue as you wander amongst the glorious winding streets and alleyways of the old town enjoying the warm colours of the stone bridge that has carried travellers across the river since the 11th century.

Day 10
The Danube weaves and twists its way round craggy points, protruding from the steep, forest-covered sides, past attractive riverside villages and their busy waterfronts with couples hand-in-hand enjoying romantic riverside walks - this truly is a lovely setting! Passau is our last town in Germany, about which Napoleon lamented, ‘In all of Germany I have never seen a town more beautiful’, nestling as it does where the Danube gorge widens. You must visit St Stephen’s Cathedral and hopefully hear the remarkable organ, with its 17,974 pipes, the largest in the world.

Our fascinating journey continues into Austria and as if by a miracle, the landscape almost immediately takes on a different feel. Austria is synonymous of course, with superb scenery but this beautiful section of the valley is something of a secret and its peaceful wooded slopes and the awesome 270 degree bend of the Schlögener Schlinge are a real delight. Relax aboard the Serenade 2 today, as we cruise through the narrowing valley. As the lights of the pretty riverside villages twinkle outside, we enter the land of the traveller rather than the tourist.

Day 11
On a striking and resplendent rocky bluff above the town of Melk is an enormous Benedictine Abbey which we visit this morning. This extraordinary building was originally a Hapsburg palace, and subsequently bequeathed to the Benedictine order during the 11th century it has been a monastery ever since. Reconstructed in full Baroque style during the 18th century, the Abbey has many fine rooms and a stupendous library with over 80,000 priceless volumes including many intricate medieval manuscripts.

The Kaisergang is a stunning 200 metre long gallery with some amazing frescoes lined by portraits of former Austrian Royalty. Admire the magnificent view of the river and the surrounding countryside, much as Napoleon must have done when Melk was his headquarters during the Austrian campaign. As lunch is served we cruise downstream, through the delightfully picturesque Wachau valley, through steep terraced vineyards known locally as the ‘stairways to heaven’, before approaching our destination, the city of Strauss - Vienna!

Day 12
Vienna, a truly elegant city, is one of the real gems of Central Europe, conjuring up an image in the mind of culture, ornate architecture, elegant cafés, aristocratic palaces, imposing cathedrals and everywhere the romantic music of the great composers: Beethoven, Mahler and, of course Strauss. To be fair the reality is little different and as capital of the Hapsburg Empire, which held sway over much of Central and Eastern Europe for centuries, there is an absolute wealth of things to see. In its heart we have the lovely St Stephen’s cathedral and the centre of Viennese life. Then the Hofburg, formerly the Court Palace, now home to the crown jewels and relics of the Holy Roman Empire, the Vienna Boys’ Choir and the famous Spanish Riding School.

In the Kunsthistorisches you have the world’s fourth largest art collection, together with antiquities from throughout the ancient world. This morning we will have a guided city tour and the afternoon is free before enjoying another gastronomic experience at dinner, during which the ships slips its moorings en-route to Hungary.

Day 13
We arrive in imperial Budapest, Hungary’s capital and, until the late 19th century, the two rival cities of Buda and Pest, straddling the beautiful river. Dominated by the castle, the city, often called ‘Little Paris of Middle Europe’, is famous for the monuments that reflect both local culture and that of numerous foreign powers, which ruled here for most of its existence. There are ruins from Roman times and Turkish baths from the Ottoman Empire, but the greatest influence was from the union with Austria. Today Budapest is a collage of palatial buildings, baroque churches with archaic spires and a wonderful atmosphere enhanced by the unique sound of Hungary’s music and language. You must visit the castle area with its gothic arches, courtyards and tiny passages with eighteenth and nineteenth century baroque buildings, complete with beautiful wrought iron grills and balconies. This afternoon we enjoy a guided tour and this evening the ’Captain’s Dinner’ will take place on board, serving delicious specialities of the countries and regions we have visited during our cruise, hosted of course by the Captain himself. It will feel like you have been away from home for months, as you recall all the places you have visited, sights you have seen and people you have met, with your like-minded fellow travellers.

Day 14
After breakfast this morning its time to say goodbye to your hard working crew and transfer to the airport at the appropriate time for your flight to the UK, treasuring lasting memories of a cruise through the very heart of Europe.
MV Serenade 2
Launched in 2007, this ship really is at the cutting edge of design, guaranteeing the most comfortable possible surroundings for her 134 passengers. Extensive use of wood and glass creates a luxuriously modern and spacious atmosphere. Built to the highest standards and meeting the most recent and most stringent safety regulations introduced in January of that year, she comprises three main decks, the Chopin (upper), Mozart (middle) and Beethoven (lower), all air conditioned throughout, topped by a very spacious Sun Deck.

The three main decks, are connected by a standard lift (rarely found on river ships), plus splendid wide staircases with the enormous sun deck being reached by stairs or a stair lift. This makes the entire ship as accessible as possible for those with limited mobility. Public areas are superbly designed, and at the centre of the ship on the Mozart Deck is a spacious lobby (left), just like a luxury four-star hotel, plus a small boutique stocking those useful items you might have forgotten, alongside a range of tasteful goods and souvenirs. The chic Mendelssohn Restaurant is more than capable of comfortably seating the full ship’s complement, and is furnished in exceptional taste. Downstairs from the lobby on the Beethoven Deck is, most unusually for a river cruiser, the fitness suite complete with gym equipment, sauna and massage chairs, plus the table tennis room.

Ascending the staircase from the lobby, the Chopin Deck features the luxurious Vivaldi Lounge Bar, tastefully furnished with deep carpets, comfortable armchairs and settees. Here the attentive staff will be delighted to serve you a selection of hot and cold drinks from the fully licensed bar. The Captain’s Club, as the ship’s library is called is ideal for both, reading or perhaps a game of Bridge with your fellow passengers. Floor to ceiling panoramic tinted windows reveal the passing scenery in all its magnificence as you relax with a drink. A real highlight of the Serenade 2 is the superbly designed Forward Observation Lounge where you relax in your armchair, indoors or out and imagine that you, yourself are steering this great vessel skilfully along the river or into that impossibly narrow looking lock ahead of you!

The Sun Deck, one of the largest on this type of vessel, incorporates covered shaded areas, and affords ample space to relax in the sun in one of the plentiful deck chairs and enjoy the fresh breeze as the vine-clad slopes and historic towns slip by. If you’re really missing the fairways or even if you’ve never given it a go before, why not try your hand on the putting green, perhaps enjoy a game of chess on the giant chessboard or take a look at how the captain steers his mighty vessel along the winding rivers from the Bridge, towards the bow of this delightful ship.

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Departure date Departing point Departure UK Arrive at Destination Nights Price  
27-Aug-2014 Gatwick Airport 13:55 17:20 13 2259.00 please call
27-Aug-2014 Manchester 15:00 18:50 13 2259.00 please call
27-Aug-2014 13:55 17:20 13 2199.00 please call
27-Aug-2014 15:00 18:50 13 2199.00 please call
27-Aug-2014 17:50 21:15 13 2199.00 please call
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