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Avalon River Cruise - Grand Black Sea Cruise from Bucharest

2014 Season

From $5,569

        



Length:  18 days from Bucharest to Prague

Overview

Discover some of the continent’s best-kept secrets on this river cruise through Eastern and Central Europe, from Bucharest to Prague. Guided sightseeing in each city shows you the highlights, with inside visits of the National Art Museum in Bucharest, Patriarch’s Church in Veliko Târnovo, Kalemegdan Fortress in Belgrade, and Melk’s awe-inspiring Benedictine Abbey. Also enjoy an organ concert in Pécs, cruise through the dramatic Iron Gates gorge and Main Danube Canal, and visit the Lepinski Vir archaeological site on the banks of the Danube in Serbia and the diverse rock formations of Belogradchik. Enjoy three overnights in Prague, with guided sightseeing of the city’s main sights, plenty of free time, and the conclusion of your incredible cruise vacation.

Duration:  18 Days



Ships Serving this Tour:   Illumination    Luminary      

Start Date End Date
23 May, 2014 09 June, 2014
01 August, 2014 18 August, 2014
19 September, 2014 06 October, 2014




Day 1   Bucharest, Romania. Welcome to Bucharest, Romania’s lively capital city! The remainder of the day is free to start exploring.

Day 2   Bucharest–Oltenita (Embarkation). Much recent history has taken place in this fascinating city. Its wide, tree-lined boulevards and Arc de Triomphe—built in 1922 to honor the bravery of Romanian soldiers who fought in WWI—have gained it the name “Paris of the East.” During your INCLUDED TOUR this morning, see the impressive Parliament Building, the second-largest building in the world after the Pentagon, and the Royal Palace Square, the scene of riots in 1989, which led to the collapse of the communist dictatorship. The former Royal Palace now houses the NATIONAL ART MUSEUM. A motorcoach ride takes you to Oltenita, where your river cruise vessel is docked. Before dinner, meet your crew at a welcome reception. (B,D)

Day 3   Rousse, Bulgaria. Excursion to Veliko Târnovo & Arbanassi–Svistov. Wake up this morning in Rousse and choose how you want to spend your day: join a Certified Local Guide for an included tour of the city, rejoining your ship in time for lunch and a pleasant afternoon of cruising to Svistov, or take a comfortable ride to the ancient Bulgarian capital of Veliko Târnovo. Situated on three hills surrounding the Yantra River, the city was a natural fortress with ancient stone houses clinging to the steep slopes. The oldest part is Tsarevets Hill, home of the Royal Fortress, palaces, and the PATRIARCH’S CHURCH. Then, journey to Arbanassi. Founded in the 15th century, the historic village of Arbanassi is best known for its examples of Bulgarian Revival architecture and its ETHNOGRAPHICAL MUSEUM, a 400-year-old house preserved as a museum. Visit the CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY, one of the oldest churches in Arbanassi, and see its outstanding collection of frescoes. Rejoin your ship in Svistov. (B,L,D)

Day 4   Vidin. Excursion to Belogradchik. After breakfast today, your Local Guide shows you Vidin, an important Danube port in northwestern Bulgaria. Its medieval FORTRESS, known as “Baba Vidin,” is the town’s primary landmark. It served as Vidin’s main defensive installation during the course of the Middle Ages and is the only entirely preserved medieval fortress in the country. It is now a fortress museum and has been restored to its former appearance. In the afternoon, drive to nearby Belogradchik to view the eclectic group of ROCK FORMATIONS on the western slopes of the Balkan Mountains. Sculpted by natural elements for more than 200 million years and with a variety of sizes and shapes, the Belogradchik Rocks are spectacular! (B,L,D)

Day 5   Iron Gates. Excursion to Lepinski Vir. The TRAJAN TABLE marking the Roman conquest of Dacia and the Serbian fortresses of Golubac and Smederevo are impressive sights on the left bank of the Danube. The most spectacular scenery must surely be the dramatic gorge of the IRON GATES, a narrow and formerly very dangerous passage dividing Europe’s Alps in the northwest from the Carpathians in the southeast and forming a natural border between Serbia and Romania. In the afternoon, dock at Donji Milanovac, from where a short drive takes you to the impressive LEPINSKI VIR EXHIBITION CENTER, which houses area archaeological artifacts and from where you have unique views of the Danube Gorge. (B,L,D)

Day 6   Belgrade, Serbia. The capital of Serbia is situated at the confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers. A Local Guide will be proud to show you its main sights, which include St. Sava, the world’s largest Orthodox Church; and Marshal Tito’s tomb and monument. Also visit the city’s principal landmark, KALEMEGDAN FORTRESS, which showcases the history of Belgrade. Built in stages between the 1st and 18th centuries, the fortress witnessed many battles and observed the courage of those trying to defend the city from conquerors. The surrounding park is the most beautiful and largest park in Belgrade. In your free time, be sure to check out the city’s lively pedestrian area and charming outdoor cafés. Depart Belgrade during lunchtime, then this afternoon, attend a fascinating ONBOARD LECTURE about the Balkans as you head for Hungary. (B,L,D)

Day 7   Mohács, Hungary. Excursion to Pécs. This morning, an included GUIDED EXCURSION takes you to Pécs, Hungary’s fifth-largest city. Established by the Romans in the 2nd century, this was a flourishing and important town for Christianity by the 4th century. Pécs is also rich in terms of Turkish architecture and offers Turkish mosques, attractive churches, and an enjoyable atmosphere around its restaurants and cafés. Enjoy an ORGAN CONCERT before returning to your ship for lunch and heading to Budapest. (B,L,D)

Day 8   Budapest. Spanning the banks of the Danube, Budapest is one of Eastern Europe’s liveliest cities. Whether you’re seeing the sights, shopping for handcrafted embroidery or Herend porcelain, or basking in the coffee house culture over a rich cream cake in the renowned Gerbeaud Café, Budapest’s unique energy is positively palatable. On your included GUIDED TOUR of the city, the massive hilltop castle complex is a major sight with its remarkable Fishermen’s Bastion and 11th-century Matthias Church, the coronation spot of several Hungarian monarchs. Be sure to take note of the city’s eight bridges—many famous sights in and of themselves—which connect ancient Buda on the right bank with Pest on the left. The afternoon is free—maybe stroll along Vací Utca, the main shopping street, or visit the Great Market Hall and purchase paprika or embroidery at one of its 180 vendor stalls. This evening, sail out of Budapest heading for Vienna. (B,L,D)

Day 9   Budapest–Vienna, Austria. Enjoy a day of relaxation on board and marvel at the beautiful scenery on both banks of the Danube. Hungary is on your left as you cruise upriver and Slovakia is on your right. The two countries share the Danube for a 58-mile stretch, with the border in the middle of the river. This evening, arrive in Vienna, Austria’s capital. Known as the “City of Music,” it inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. An optional concert is available during your stay. (B,L,D)

Day 10   Vienna. Once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, Austria’s magical capital on the blue Danube 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; and awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral—plus, countless other sights shown to you by your Local Guide during your included CITY TOUR. Shop in the delightful pedestrian Kärntnerstrasse, and be sure to take a break and enjoy a piece of decadent Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel in one of the classic Viennese coffee houses, historic institutions that helped shape Viennese culture! (B,L,D)

Day 11   Dürnstein–Melk. Dürnstein, known for the magnificent baroque, blue Stiftskirche built in the 1700s, is situated right in the heart of the Wachau wine region. The main street of this small town—with a population of less than 1,000 people—is lined with 16th-century residences and charming cobblestone streets. After breakfast, a Local Guide will take you on an included WALKING TOUR and tell you the tale of England’s King Richard the Lionheart, who was imprisoned in the castle whose ruins still stand above the town. During lunchtime, sail through the picturesque Wachau Valley and arrive in Melk in the early afternoon. Here, enjoy a GUIDED VISIT of the magnificent 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 church with its frescoed ceilings, stunning high altar, marble statues, and 210-foot-high cupola. The view from the terrace of the abbey over the Danube and surrounding countryside is breathtaking! This evening you’ll be able to sample some of the Wachau Valley’s FAMOUS WINES. (B,L,D)

Day 12   Linz–Passau, Germany. Linz, Austria’s third-largest city, lies on both banks of the Danube, and is an important industrial town and busy river port. From here this morning, an optional full-day excursion to Salzburg takes in the popular Sound of Music sights or you might opt for a full-day optional trip to ?eský Krumlov in the Czech Republic, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Alternatively, just stay on the ship and relax as you cruise to Passau, uniquely located where the Inn, Ilz, and Danube Rivers converge. Passau is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets lined with beautiful patrician houses. Napoleon once remarked, “In Germany, I have never seen a town more beautiful.” St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a masterpiece of Italian baroque architecture, houses one of the world’s largest church organs with 17,774 pipes. Take in the highlights on an included GUIDED WALK. (B,L,D)

Day 13   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.” Architectural highlights of your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING include the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), built in the 13th century, and Porta Pretoria, gates to an ancient Roman fort built in 179 AD. Wander through the city’s lanes and alleys to discover the many mansions with high towers. Wealthy families built these towers to emphasize their status and wealth during the Middle Ages, and many still remain today. 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 17th-century Historische Wurstküche (Old Sausage Kitchen), Germany’s oldest restaurant. Here—where the locals congregate—feel the vibrant atmosphere and take in the remarkable views along the river. After dinner, we’ll introduce you to some of Germany’s FAMOUS BEERS. (B,L,D)

Day 14   Nuremberg. Today, spend a relaxing morning of cruising, then, before lunch, attend a fascinating ONBOARD LECTURE about the engineering marvel that is the Main-Danube Canal. The afternoon is dedicated to Nuremberg. Although 90% of Nuremberg’s Old Town suffered extensive damage during WWII, much of it has been restored to the glory it once knew as the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Today, choose either a GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR and marvel at this thousand-year-old city’s medieval fortifications, extraordinary gothic churches, and the Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle), or join a more specialized “NUREMBERG TRIALS” tour. During free time, be sure to make a wish at the beautiful fountain in the Hauptmarkt (main square). Legend says your wish will come true if you turn its gold ring three times. (B,L,D)

Day 15   Nuremberg (Disembarkation)–Prague, Czech Republic. After breakfast, say goodbye to your crew and travel by motorcoach to Prague, the “Golden City.” (B)

Day 16   Prague. Prague is a 1,200-year-old city preserved in time, and, unlike other Central European capitals, it was not bombed during the 20th-century wars. A Local Guide shows you its best-known treasures such as the Old Town’s Astronomical Clock, built in 1410 and once the envy of all of Europe; HRADCANY CASTLE GROUNDS; St. Vitus Cathedral; and the Charles Bridge, the oldest bridge in Prague. Browse the shops for hand-cut crystal or art books. Mix with the locals in Wenceslaus Square, an important meeting point and where people demonstrated against the communist regime; or watch performers on Charles Bridge. (B)

Day 17   Prague. Enjoy a free day to explore the city at your own pace. Perhaps visit the Communist Museum or take an optional excursion around the Jewish Quarter. Sample the local plum dumplings and Pilsner; stroll along the Vltava River; or wander around Prague’s medieval Old Town, dating from the 10th century. Your Cruise Director will have other suggestions for things to do. (B)

Day 18   Prague. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)

Meals:  Buffet breakfast (B) in Bucharest and Prague; superb dining with meals on board featuring full breakfast (B) with complimentary sparkling wine, lunch (L) with complimentary soft drinks, and dinner (D) including complimentary wine, beer, or soft drinks; a welcome reception, Captain’s reception, and farewell dinner; one sitting with open seating arrangements

Hotel Information:  Hotels will be as shown, or similar. Final hotel names will be available in April 2013.

Bucharest Athénée Palace Hilton (SF), Prague InterContinental (D)
Terms and Conditions
Note: Flights are NOT included with the cruises and unless otherwise stated above transfers are also NOT included.
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