Day 1 Nuremberg, Germany (Embarkation)
Embark in Nuremberg, where your river cruise vessel is docked. Before dinner, meet your crew for a welcome reception.
Day 2 Nuremberg
Although 90% of Nuremberg’s Old Town suffered extensive damage during WWII, much of it has been restored to its former glory as the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Choose a GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR and marvel at this thousand-year-old city’s medieval fortifications, gothic churches, and the Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle), or join a NUREMBERG RALLY GROUNDS tour. The Old Town is illuminated with festive lights and decorations, and the Christmas market is one of the most famous in the world. The market has dozens of stalls offering traditional wares, including Lebkuchen (spiced gingerbread), baked goods, and typical Christmas decorations and ornaments. After your free time at Christmas Market, a shuttle bus service will be at your disposal to take you back to the ship. During your sail to Regensburg, enjoy an ONBOARD LECTURE about Christmas Traditions.
Day 3 Regensburg
Dating back to the time of the Celts around 500 BC, Regensburg is one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities. Established during the Holy Roman Empire and the only German city not bombed during WWII, Regensburg has at least 1,300 listed buildings of “historic interest.” Highlights included on your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR are the 13th-century Old Town Hall, and Porta Pretoria, gates to an ancient Roman fort built in 179 AD. Wander through the city’s alleys to discover the many mansions with high towers, built by wealthy families in the Middle Ages to emphasize their status. Walk across the 12th-century Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge), the oldest of its kind in Germany. Grab a beer and enjoy a SNACK at the Historische Wurstküche (Old Sausage Kitchen), one of Germany’s oldest restaurants. This afternoon is free to explore on your own or to visit the Regensburg Christmas market, including the ones hosted by Thurn und Taxis Palace. The tempting aromas of mulled wine, sweet roasted almonds, sausages, and gingerbread create an unforgettable atmosphere. Before dinner we’ll introduce you to some of Germany’s FAMOUS BEERS.
Day 4 Passau
Uniquely located where the Inn, Ilz, and Danube Rivers converge, Passau is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets lined with beautiful patrician houses. The Christkindlmarkt, Passau’s charming Christmas market, is set against the stunning backdrop of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a masterpiece of Italian baroque architecture. Take in the highlights of the “City of Three Rivers” on an included GUIDED WALK. Afterward, set sail for Linz, where you arrive in the evening. Alternatively, you might like to join a full-day optional excursion to Salzburg to see some of the sites from The Sound of Music, find out how mice caused the composition of the famous Silent Night Christmas carol, and learn how the Austrians celebrate Christmas.
Day 5 Melk, Austria–Vienna
This morning, enjoy a GUIDED VISIT of Melk’s 11th-century BENEDICTINE ABBEY, one of Europe’s largest monasteries. The abbey houses an ornate library with over 80,000 printed books and 2,000 manuscripts. Words cannot describe the splendor of the frescoed ceilings, stunning high altar, marble statues, and 210-foot-high cupola. During lunchtime, cruise through the picturesque Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pass the magnificent baroque Stiftskirche with its blue façade, the landmark of Dürnstein, before arriving in Vienna this evening. As you sail through the Wachau Valley, enjoy a special onboard Austrian cookies BAKING DEMONSTRATION AND TASTING. Vienna, “City of Music” inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. An optional concert is available tonight.
Day 6 Vienna
Once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, Austria’s magical capital is a showcase of gilded architecture. This is home to the lavish Hofburg Imperial Palace complex with its Vienna Boy’s Choir and dazzling Lipizzaner stallions; the neo-renaissance Vienna Opera House; awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral—and countless other sights you’ll see on your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR. We will offer you a special CULINARY TOUR at the Viennese Christmas markets where you can taste all the best flavors that Austria has to offer during Christmas time. Be sure to enjoy a piece of decadent Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel in one of the classic Viennese coffee houses, historic institutions that helped shape Viennese culture!
Day 7 Vienna (Disembarkation)
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.