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Windmills,Vineyards And Paris
Windmills,Vineyards And Paris
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Avalon River Cruise - North Sea to Black Sea Cruise

2014 Season

From $5,869

        



Length:  24 days from Amsterdam to Bucharest

Overview

The North Sea, the Black Sea, and the rivers in between are the focus of this memorable cruise along the magnificent Rhine, Main, and Danube Rivers. Relax and enjoy as you cruise past quaint villages, taking in the scenery and learning about the history. Cruise through Amsterdam’s lovely canals, past castles on the romantic Rhine and along the Main Danube Canal. Sail through the dramatic Iron Gates gorge, and take small boats to explore the Danube Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy included guided sightseeing in each city—Cologne, Würzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Vukovar, Belgrade, Constanta, and Bucharest. Spend time in the charming wine village of Rüdesheim, enjoy a tasting of local specialties in Wertheim, and explore Bucharest, Romania’s lively capital. Other highlights include beer tasting in Bamberg, a visit to Belgrade’s Kalemegdan Fortress, wine tasting in Villány, Patriarch’s Church in Veliko Târnovo, and a visit to the Delta Museum in Tulcea. This is a vacation of a lifetime!

Duration:  24 Days



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Day 1   Arrive in Amsterdam, Holland (Embarkation). Welcome to Amsterdam! Holland’s capital is sophisticated and modern, with a rich and fascinating history. This delightful 700-year-old city with its elegant and classic architecture, cafés and restaurants, and lively marketplace has a distinct ambiance. The streets, squares, and canals—not to mention the bike paths throughout the city—make for a vibrant atmosphere, and with over 60 museums, Amsterdam has the highest museum density in the world. Most notably, the works of famous Dutch masters can be seen in world-renowned museums such as the Rijksmuseum or the Van Gogh. This afternoon, board your river cruise vessel and meet your crew at an evening welcome reception. (D)

NOTE:
Guests must be on board ship by 5 pm.

Day 2   Amsterdam. There is no better way to see Amsterdam than by CANAL BOAT, cruising through the elegant grachten lined with stately homes dating back to Amsterdam’s “Golden Age.” There’s free time this afternoon to enjoy the city or maybe to join an optional biking excursion (weather permitting). Afterward, bid tot ziens (farewell) to Holland and set sail for Germany. (B,L,D)

Day 3   Cologne, Germany. Today, enjoy a peaceful morning of cruising before reaching Cologne after lunch. One of Germany’s largest cities and capital of the Rhineland, Cologne straddles both sides of the Rhine and is known for its soaring, twin-steepled gothic cathedral. Choose between a GUIDED CITY WALK or “JEWISH COLOGNE.” Later, during free time, perhaps check out the Romano-Germanic Museum, home to a large collection of artifacts from the Roman settlement on which modern Cologne is built—a must for history buffs! Be sure to try a Kölsch pale lager, locally brewed in Cologne for over a hundred years! (B,L,D)

Day 4   Rhine Gorge–Rüdesheim. The dramatic RHINE GORGE is the most beautiful stretch of river. Here, ancient castles stand sentry on lofty cliffs rising 400 feet above the waters. Cruise past the legendary rock of the Lorelei, where echoes of enchanted siren song lured unwitting sailors to their doom, before arriving in Rüdesheim, the quintessential Rhine Valley wine town. Visit SIEGFRIED’S MECHANICAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM, where you’ll see and hear a large collection of self-playing calliopes and music boxes from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. Enjoy a SPECIAL TREAT, then there’s free time to pick up some souvenirs on the narrow, cobblestoned Drosselgasse, where colorful flowers, open-air wine gardens, and live music add to the festive atmosphere. (B,L,D)

Day 5   Wertheim. Today, relax on board until your afternoon arrival in Wertheim. The town is situated at the confluence of the Tauber and Main Rivers, and a GUIDED WALK shows you its medieval center. Enjoy an included TASTING of local specialties and some free time before departing for Würzburg. (B,L,D)

Day 6   Würzburg. Surrounded by verdant hillside vineyards, Würzburg, the “Pearl of the Romantic Road,” makes an immediate impression with imposing Fortress Marienberg perched above town and the 15th-century Alte Mainbrucke (Old Main Bridge). On your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR, visit the magnificent baroque BISHOP’S RESIDENZ, home to the largest ceiling fresco ever painted. This afternoon you are free to explore on your own, or consider joining an optional excursion to medieval Rothenburg. (B,L,D)

Day 7   Bamberg. Enjoy a leisurely morning on board as you cruise gently along the Main River. Before lunch, attend a fascinating ONBOARD LECTURE to learn more about the European Union. This afternoon, arrive in medieval Bamberg, former residence of one of Germany’s most powerful imperial dynasties and today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your GUIDED WALKING TOUR takes in its historic center, including the great 13th-century Romanesque cathedral and the fascinating Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), built on an island in the middle of the Regnitz River when the bishop refused to give the townspeople land for a town hall! Wander the town’s serpentine streets with their charming houses and 18th-century mansions. Before dinner we’ll introduce you to some of Germany’s FAMOUS BEERS! (B,L,D)

Day 8   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. This morning, choose 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 try some tasty Lebkuchen and 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. This afternoon, relax on board and attend an interesting LECTURE about the engineering marvel that is the Main-Danube Canal. (B,L,D)

Day 9   Regensburg. Dating back to the time of the Celts around 500 BC, Regensburg is one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities. Architectural highlights of your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING this morning 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. In the Middle Ages, many mansions were built with high towers to emphasize the status and wealth of their owners, and many still remain today. Grab a beer and sit at the open-air 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. Leave Regensburg at lunchtime and sail toward Austria. Before dinner we’ll introduce you to some of Germany’s FAMOUS BEERS! (B,L,D)

Day 10   Linz, Austria–Grein. After breakfast this morning your Local Guide will introduce you to Linz, Austria’s third-largest city and an important river port. See the 13th-century Hauptplatz, Austria’s largest medieval square, and the Trinity Column, built in 1723 as thanks for the city escaping the ravages of the plague, war, and fire. Maybe wander around the old castle grounds and take in the beautiful views of the river, or visit the neo-gothic New Cathedral, the largest church in Austria, with capacity for 20,000 visitors. In the late afternoon, arrive in the attractive country resort of Grein, nestled at the foot of a bluff in the shadow of its castle. Join a Local Guide for a GUIDED WALK and take pictures of the turreted houses on the main square. Its castle is the oldest residential castle in Austria, and its theater—built in 1791—is Austria’s oldest theater. Alternatively, you might like to join an optional full-day excursion to Salzburg or to ?eský Krumlov in the Czech Republic, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rejoin your ship in the late afternoon in Grein. (B,L,D)

Day 11   Dürnstein–Vienna. This morning, cruise through the picturesque Wachau Valley before arriving in Dürnstein. Standing on the banks of the Danube, the magnificent baroque Stiftskirche with its blue façade is without a doubt the landmark of this small town in the heart of the Wachau wine region. A Local Guide will take you on a 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. This evening, arrive in Vienna, where an optional concert is available tonight. (B,L,D)

Day 12   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 you’ll see on your included GUIDED 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 13   Vienna–Bratislava, Slovakia. This morning you can relax and take it easy. Either stay on board and enjoy a leisurely cruise to Bratislava or spend more time in Vienna on your own, joining a motorcoach transfer to Bratislava in the early afternoon. The capital of Slovakia, Bratislava is situated at the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. Arrive here in mid-afternoon and join your Local Guide for a tour of the city, including a GUIDED WALK of its fascinating Old Town, where winding cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways twist and turn to reveal the Town Hall, one of the oldest stone buildings in the city. Also visit gothic ST. MARTIN’S CATHEDRAL, coronation church for the Kingdom of Hungary from the 16th to 19th centuries. (B,D)

Day 14   Budapest, Hungary. 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 an INCLUDED TOUR with your Local Guide, see the massive hilltop castle complex with its remarkable Fishermen’s Bastion—with spectacular views of the city—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. You may even want to walk across Chain Bridge, a symbol of Budapest built in 1849. (B,L,D)

Day 15   Mohács. Excursion to Pécs & Villány Wine District. This morning, enjoy some tranquil cruising past the peaceful riverscapes of southern Hungary before arriving in Mohács, where there’s free time to explore on your own. After lunch, an excursion takes you to Pécs. Established by the Romans in the 2nd century, this was a flourishing and important town for Christianity by the 4th century. These early Christians left behind many underground burial chambers with memorial chapels above ground. With a Local Guide, visit the UNDERGROUND TOMBS—now part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site—many of which have splendidly decorated murals with Christian themes. Pécs is also a rich showcase of Turkish architecture and home to Turkish mosques, striking churches, and an enjoyable atmosphere around its restaurants and cafés. Next, on to the Villány district, where some of Hungary’s best red wines are produced. As you enjoy a WINE TASTING, learn about which varietals are grown and why the climate and soil conditions here are ideal for the production of excellent wines. (B,L,D)

Day 16   Osijek & Vukovar, Croatia. Today, learn more about the complex history of Croatia and the events that led to the Croatian War of Independence. Accompanied by Local Guides, explore Osijek, an important economic and cultural center, as well as Vukovar, Croatia’s largest river port, located at the confluence of the Danube and Vuka Rivers. Vukovar was scene to an 87-day siege in 1991, known as The Battle of Vukovar, and is today considered a symbol of Croatian resistance. The siege and other dramatic events in the recent past have shaped both the present and the future of this region. (B,L,D)

Day 17   Belgrade, Serbia. Early this morning, arrive in Belgrade. One of the oldest cities in Europe, 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, including St. Sava, the world’s largest orthodox church. 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. Perhaps visit one of the many art galleries or museums, relax in the park, or walk along the city streets and browse the local shops. (B,L,D)

Day 18   Excursion to Lepinski Vir–Iron Gates. After breakfast, dock at Donji Milanovac, 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. Return to your ship before lunch, then cruise what must surely be the most spectacular scenery of the dramatic IRON GATES gorge, 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. (B,L,D)

Day 19   Excursion to Veliko Târnovo, Bulgaria & Arbanassi–Rousse. The ancient Bulgarian capital of Veliko Târnovo is a comfortable ride from the Danube. Situated on three hills surrounding the Yantra River, the city was a natural fortress with ancient stone houses clinging to the steep slopes. One of the oldest towns in Bulgaria (dating back to 4300 BC), the oldest part is Tsarevets Hill, home of the Royal Fortress, palaces, and the PATRIARCH’S CHURCH. With your Local Guide, discover this town that played an important role in Bulgaria’s history. 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 Rousse, Bulgaria’s largest inland port. If you do not wish to participate in the full-day excursion, remain on board and relax, then join a GUIDED TOUR of Rousse in the afternoon. (B,L,D)

Day 20   Tulcea, Romania. Today, relax on board and enjoy a peaceful morning of cruising. Before lunch, learn about the Danube Delta at a fascinating ONBOARD LECTURE. This afternoon, dock in Tulcea, the “gateway” to the Delta. Explore the town with a Local Guide and visit the DELTA MUSEUM. There’s time to stroll around on your own before dinner. During the night, your ship sails for St. Gheorghe at the mouth of the Danube. (B,L,D)

Day 21   St. Gheorghe, Danube Delta. Arrive in St. Gheorghe this morning. After breakfast, an excursion in small boats takes you into the DELTA, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the best preserved of Europe’s deltas, hosting over 300 species of birds as well as 45 species of freshwater fish. From its source in the Black Forest to its delta at the Black Sea, the Danube measures 2,845 kilometers in length. The Km markings can be clearly seen on the river banks the length of the river. Enjoy a small celebration to mark Km “0”—the end of the Danube’s journey. This afternoon, relax on board as you sail to Cernavod?. (B,L,D)

Day 22   Cernavod?. Excursion to Constanta. This morning, dock in Cernavod?, a city situated at the western end of the 40-mile-long Black Sea Canal, the pride and joy of communist achievement. From here you may choose to take an included full-day or a half-day excursion to Constanta on the Black Sea, the most important commercial center in Romania. A Local Guide shows you the city highlights, with a visit of the NATURAL HISTORY & ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM. There is free time to enjoy this resort town on your own, returning to Cernavod? in the late afternoon in time to depart for Oltenita. Alternatively, you may want to relax on board in the morning and visit Constanta in the afternoon only. Sail overnight to Oltenita. (B,L,D)

Day 23   Oltenita (Disembarkation)–Bucharest. Bucharest, Romania’s lively capital, is only a short drive from Oltenita. 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.” Much recent history has taken place in the city. During the INCLUDED TOUR this afternoon, 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, which includes over 100,000 works of Romanian and European art from the 15th to the 20th centuries. In your free time, explore this interesting city even further. Stroll down Calea Victoriei (Victory Avenue), Bucharest’s most historic and alluring street. Initially built in 1692, today it is lined with shops, museums, churches, restaurants, cafés, and fine houses. (B)

Day 24   Bucharest. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)

Meals:  Buffet breakfast (B) in Bucharest; 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)
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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