Your holiday summary

Holiday type River cruises
Travel type Fly
Price range From £1299
Travel partner Riviera Travel
Duration 7 nights
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0330 333 6751

The Blue Danube - Serenade 2

Unwind on this river cruise and with an escorted tour to Budapest, the pearl of the Danube.

Prices are per person, based on two people sharing a twin cabin with a limited number of single cabins available on all decks, at the relevant supplement. The price includes full board from dinner on your day of arrival until breakfast on your final day; if you choose to travel with us on any of the full day excursions by coach, a packed lunch will be provided. Anyone choosing to stay on the ship may of course have lunch in the restaurant; morning/afternoon tea and coffee; all visits and excursions as mentioned in the brochure, airport transfers, coach travel as mentioned, travel to and from port of embarkation and the services of a Riviera Travel tour manager.

  • Return flight from London Heathrow, Manchester, London Gatwick or London Luton
  • Guided tour of Vienna
  • Visit to Bratislava
  • Cruise through the Wachau, Austria’s premier wine region
  • Visit to Melk abbey
  • Visit to medieval Dürnstein
  • Tour of Salzburg
  • Explore the basilica at Esztergom
  • Tour of Budapest
  • Price includes full-board from dinner on your day of arrival until breakfast on your final day
  • The services of our experienced tour manager
Day one

Take your flight to Budapest where you will be met and taken to your ship. The dedicated crew will welcome you on board, ensuring you settle into your cabin and familiarise yourself with the ship, your first-class floating hotel.

Day two

Overnight we have slipped upstream to Esztergom, Hungary’s capital during medieval times and today the seat of the country’s Archbishop. The town is famed for its Renaissance basilica, Hungary’s largest church, standing sentinel over the Danube and boasting one of the world’s largest altars plus a wealth of gold artefacts. You can explore the castle too, seat of the government until the 16th century Ottoman invasion. Nestling below, there are a myriad of baroque churches. As you have your first lunch on board, we leave Esztergom in our wake, passing towns and villages of Hungary and Slovakia on either bank.

Day three

This morning we explore Slovakia’s fast emerging capital city, Bratislava. Until recently swathed in the drab uniformity of communism, the city has shrugged off its greyness, evident in its restored baroque old town. The 17th century fortress commands expansive views across the Danube. This afternoon we cruise into Lower Austria, home to some of the country’s best wines.

Day four

Dürnstein is famous for principally two things. Firstly the ice-blue baroque tower dominating the river and secondly, having been shipwrecked on his return from the crusades, Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned here. After lunch, we visit the monastery at Melk, an enormous abbey standing above the surrounding countryside. Originally a palace it was gifted to the Benedictine Order in the 11th century and although reconstructed in baroque style it has remained a monastic school and monastery ever since. It is famed for its 200m long Emperor’s Gallery lined with portraits of Austrian emperors, plus many fine rooms and a large library containing a unique medieval collection of manuscripts. Rejoining the ship, dinner is served during the last upstream cruise, through the Nibelungengau, now immortalised in the music of Wagner.

Day five

Reaching Linz, we take the short drive to Salzburg, once an independent state, who’s Archbishops turned it into one of the most sophisticated cities north of the Alps. The old town has architecture dating from the medieval to 18th century, whilst one of Europe’s largest stone fortresses, the Hohensalzburg, dominates the skyline. Then there is the Hellbrunn Palace with its trick fountains and the Mirabell gardens. Salzburg’s most famous citizen was Mozart, one of the greatest musical geniuses to have ever lived. He played the piano at three; could compose rudimentary music at five and wrote his first opera at fourteen. This morning, we have a guided tour seeing all the principal places of interest then you are free to enjoy the afternoon exploring the city as you wish, before returning to the ship for dinner.

Day six

For two hundred years until the first world war Vienna was the cultural centre of Europe and the huge array of showpiece buildings, galleries, aristocratic palaces and baroque churches you see today were built. Dominated by St Stephen’s cathedral, you have the Hofburg, the former royal court now a collection of museums, home to the Vienna Boys’ Choir, the Spanish Riding School, the crown jewels and the world’s fourth largest art collection. Then there are the Emperor’s apartments and medieval craftsmanship in the relics of the Holy Roman Empire including allegedly, the crown of Charlemagne himself. This morning our sightseeing tour offers an insight into why this can be described as one of Europe’s great capitals, seat of the Hapsburg Emperors and home to some of the world’s finest classical composers at the peak of their influence, including Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart and a whole family of Strausses. During the afternoon you are free to explore as you wish. Take a stroll in the Stadtpark, with its huge Ferris wheel and the backdrop to many a ‘cold war’ spy thriller, or for something quite different, visit the Schoenbrunn former royal palace and now a range of museums and galleries. This evening we have arranged a live musical experience, so after dinner there is a recital on board.

Day seven

Dawn breaks and a glance along the shore as it slips gently past reveals Hungary’s pastoral landscape, as we cruise to Budapest. After lunch, we have a sightseeing tour of the city. The twin cities of Buda, built around the hilltop fortress and Pest, were fought over through the centuries until the 17th century ousting of the Ottomans. A lasting legacy of Turkish rule is the plethora of thermal baths utilising the hot springs giving rise to the sobriquet “City of the Spas”. Subsequently becoming an imperial city of the Hapsburg Empire, it attracted great cultural and commercial wealth. Explore Castle hill, the city in microcosm: three churches, five museums and a theatre amongst streets and squares and a view over the river, its banks dominated by the neo-gothic Parliament building. This evening we have a farewell gala dinner.

Day eight

Today at the appropriate time we transfer to the airport for your return flight.
MV Serenade 2

Launched in 2007, this ship is at the cutting edge of design, with the most comfortable surroundings for its 134 passengers. Extensive use of wood and glass creates a 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, it 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 wide staircases with the sun deck being reached by stairs or a stair lift. This makes the entire ship as accessible as possible for those with limited mobility. At the centre of the ship on the Mozart Deck is a spacious lobby, just like a luxury four star hotel, plus a small boutique stocking items you might have forgotten, alongside a range of goods and souvenirs. The chic Mendelssohn restaurant is more than capable of seating the full ship’s complement. 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 a table tennis room.

Ascending the staircase from the lobby, the Chopin Deck features the Vivaldi lounge bar, furnished with deep carpets, armchairs and settees. Here the staff will 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 as you relax with a drink. A real highlight of the Serenade 2 is the designed forward observation lounge where you relax in your armchair, indoors or out.

The Sun Deck, one of the largest on this type of vessel, incorporates covered shaded areas, and affords space to relax in the sun in a deck chair 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 play 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 the ship.
5 results
Departure date Departing point Departure UK Arrive at Destination Nights Price  
13-Aug-2014 Gatwick Airport 13:55 17:20 7 1329.00 please call
13-Aug-2014 Manchester 15:00 18:50 7 1329.00 please call
13-Aug-2014 Luton Airport 17:50 21:15 7 1299.00 please call
13-Aug-2014 Heathrow Airport 14:35 18:00 7 1388.00 please call
20-Aug-2014 Luton Airport 17:50 21:15 7 1299.00 please call
5 results