Day 1 Amsterdam
You will be met and transferred fron the airport to your luxurious Emerald Waterways Star- Ship and, after boarding, will enjoy some time to explore the narrow cobbled streets and gabled houses of Amsterdam at leisure.
This evening, join your fellow guests for a welcome dinner on board. (Dinner)
Day 2 Amsterdam Cruising
This morning, you can decide to explore the Dutch Golden Age as you board a glass top canal boat cruise to explore the UNESCO World Heritage-listed canal system or enjoy a guided bike tour to Waterland.
Both excellent ways to experience the city in all its authenticity, take to its charming waterways, passing iconic buildings and elegant merchant’s residences that reflect a time when Amsterdam was one of the most lucrative ports in the world. If you are feeling more active, then explore on two wheels, cycling alongside a backdrop of historical villages and traditional windmills.
Upon returning to your ship, your first day of sailing will take you through the Dutch countryside to the Rhine River. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldACTIVE: A guided bike tour to Waterland
EmeraldEXCURSION: A canal cruise
Day 3 Cologne
Founded by the Romans in 50 AD, the cathedral city of Cologne is one of the oldest cities in Germany and the largest on the Rhine. The historic capital of the Rhineland, this illustrious city has been generously peppered with ancient architecture, from Roman ruins to medieval structures, despite much of the inner city being completely destroyed during WWII.
Join your local guide and explore the city, including the Old Town with its beautiful squares, historic monuments and contemporary architecture. Your tour will conclude at the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cologne Cathedral, whose filigree twin towers form an iconic part of the skyline. During your free time, shop for trinkets or explore further before returning to your ship. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldEXCURSION: A guided tour of Cologne’s Old Town
Day 4 Rüdesheim
Today’s cruising will be a highlight of your trip, as we meander through the fairytale-like surrounds of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Rhine Gorge. Hilltop castles and fortresses will be yours to admire as we sail.
We will pass the infamous Lorelai Rock, where sailors are said to have been lured onto treacherous rocks by an enchanting siren, and the impressive Pfalzgrafenstein Castle, a former stronghold.
This afternoon, arrive in Rüdesheim, a town with a vibrant wine-growing heritage. You will have a choice of either riding on the Winzerexpress and visiting Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet Museum or, if you feel active, take a guided hike to a local vineyard to explore this section of the Rheingau wine region. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldACTIVE: An active walk through the vineyards
EmeraldEXCURSION: Visit Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet Museum
Day 5 Miltenberg – Wertheim
Welcome to Miltenberg, a picturesque village on the Main River, which creates an inimitable feeling of Bavarian life in medieval times due to the 15th-century half-timbered buildings.
On your included walking tour, stroll down cobblestone streets that are lined with these colourful houses and view the Gothic Merchant Hall, an impressive symbol of past affluence created by trade from river traffic.
Alternatively, enjoy a guided hike through the forest to Mildenburg Castle. This iconic landmark was once lost to time and now houses a wonderful collection of contemporary art and old masters. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldACTIVE: A guided active hike to Mildenburg Castle
EmeraldEXCURSION: A guided tour of Miltenberg
Day 6 Würzburg
Known as the “Pearl of the Romantic Road”, Würzburg, is a centre for grape-growing, the product of the sloping vineyard-laden hills which surround the former capital of Franconia.
The architects behind the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Würzburg Residence drew inspiration from a spectrum of different styles, including Viennese Baroque and secular features from Italy, but it was heavily damaged during WWII. Enjoy learning about how this impressive building was restored to its former glory with a guided tour. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldEXCURSION: A tour of the Würzburg Residence and Würzburg
DiscoverMORE: A tour to Rothenburg (extra expense)
Day 7 Bamberg
This morning, relax on the Sun Deck with a drink in hand or witness the beauty of Europe’s waterways from the plush surrounds of your cabin as we cruise to Bamberg. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed town boasts one of the largest medieval centres in Europe, with around 2,400 listed buildings gracing its streets.
Feel the magic of the past as you explore the city with your local guide, marvelling at the opulence of the New Residence, once resided in by the prince bishops and now home to a plethora of old German and Baroque paintings from the Bavarian State collection. Enjoy a tranquil stroll around the Rose Garden before continuing on to the medieval Altenburg Castle. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldEXCURSION: A guided tour of Bamberg
Day 8 Nuremberg
Enjoy a sightseeing coach tour of the historic city of Nuremberg. Your coach will pass by some of the historical parts of Nuremberg, such as St. John’s cemetery, Maxbrücke, before a guided walking tour and beer tasting. Enjoy time at leisure to explore Nuremberg before returning to the ship. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldEXCURSION: A guided tour of Nuremberg
DiscoverMORE: A World War II tour with Documentation Centre visit (extra expense)
Day 9 Kelheim – Regensburg
This morning, you’ll sail the final stretch of the fascinating Main-Danube Canal to Regensburg. As you continue sailing down the Danube, one of Germany’s best-preserved medieval cities welcomes you with two millennia of history.
For almost 150 years, the Old Town Hall was the seat of parliament and, dating back to the 13th century, it consists of the Town Hall Tower, the Imperial Chamber building and the Town Hall. Wander the streets with your guide as the romantic narrow alleys of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town enable you to live through the city’s history, in the present.
The main highlight of your tour will be the 12th-century Stone Bridge, a medieval structure crossing the Danube. Enjoy time to explore Regensburg at leisure after your guided tour or return to your Star-Ship. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldPLUS: A Bavarian band performance
EmeraldEXCURSION: A guided tour of Regensburg
DiscoverMORE: Excursion to Kuchlbauer brewery (extra expense)
Day 10 Passau
Passau is a picturesque city that has been shaped by the surrounding rivers over the years, sitting right on the confluence of the Danube, Inn and Ilz. This memorable destination is dominated by large squares, magical promenades and romantic lanes.
Cobblestone streets and graceful arcades welcome you in the beautiful city of Passau. On this morning’s walking tour, stroll through streets lined by Baroque buildings dating back to the 17th century and look at the Gothic Town Hall, Bishop’s Residence and St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a wonderful example of Baroque architecture and home to the largest church organ in Europe.
Return for lunch on board and an afternoon peacefully cruising along the Danube. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldEXCURSION: A guided tour of Passau
DiscoverMORE: A tour to Salzburg (extra expense)
DiscoverMORE: A tour to Ceský Krumlov (extra expense)
Day 11 Melk – Dürnstein
Situated within Austria’s wine-growing region, Melk is home to a 900-year-old Benedictine abbey, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site, which is yours to explore today during an included tour. Your guide will take you through a series of opulent rooms, each adorned with the finest Italian Baroque architecture and ornate gold leaf walls, including the ancient monastic library, renowned for its extensive collection of medieval manuscripts.
Later, the Star-Ship sails through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Wachau Valley and on to Dürnstein, one of the most enchanting villages in the Wachau wine region, where you can choose to hike to Dürnstein Castle, the site where Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned after returning from the Crusades.
Alternatively, enjoy an EmeraldACTIVE guided bike ride along the Danube from Melk to Dürnstein, passing famous vineyards and quaint towns before settling down for lunch on the riverbanks. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldACTIVE: A guided bike tour along the Danube
EmeraldACTIVE: A guided hike to Dürnstein Castle
EmeraldEXCURSION: A tour of Melk Abbey
Day 12 Vienna
Austria’s breath-taking capital is recognised for its cultural legacy. As the former residence of Mozart and Beethoven, a multitude of imperial palaces represent a rich history, and the museum district boasts contemporary buildings, housing the work of some of the world’s most prolific artists.
Explore the famous sights of the Ringstrasse and Vienna’s city centre by coach and on foot, or join a guided bike tour. Marvel at the Renaissance-style arches that adorn the façades of the Opera House, the Baroque Burgtheater and the Flemish Gothic Parliament before enjoying time to explore Vienna at leisure. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldACTIVE: A guided bike tour
EmeraldEXCURSION: A guided tour of the Ringstrasse and a walking tour of Vienna
DiscoverMORE: An exclusive Viennese concert with music from Mozart and Strauss (extra expense)
DiscoverMORE: A visit to Schönbrunn Palace (extra expense)
Day 13 Bratislava
Set at the crossroads of ancient trade routes in the heart of Europe, Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is a place where Baroque palaces, boutiques and cafés adorn cobblestone streets. In the morning, enjoy a sightseeing tour, including the enchanting Old City or hike to Bratislava Castle.
Your local guide will take you through the heart of the city. Pass by the botanical gardens of the Episcopal Summer Palace, the Old Town Hall and its delightful Renaissance courtyard and the Slovak National Theatre, where busts of famous composers adorn the façade. After your tour, enjoy free time to explore at leisure.
This afternoon, a local family will be happy to welcome you into their home for some great conversation over traditional sweet treats and coffee. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldPLUS: Coffee and cake with a local family
EmeraldACTIVE: A guided hike to Bratislava Castle
EmeraldEXCURSION: A walking tour of Bratislava
Day 14 Budapest
Budapest is Eastern Europe’s liveliest and most cosmopolitan city. Divided by the iconic Danube River, Buda and Pest on either side can be reached via the Chain Bridge, one of the city’s most symbolic structures.
Enjoy a guided tour of the city, including Matthias Church in the heart of the Castle District. Alternatively, embark on a guided hike to Buda Hill, traversing winding cobblestone streets underneath the massive Baroque masterpiece that is Buda Castle.
This evening, you will enjoy a Hungarian folklore show before a traditional farewell dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldPLUS: Traditional Hungarian folklore show
EmeraldACTIVE: A guided hike to Buda Hill
EmeraldEXCURSION: A guided coach tour of Budapest
DiscoverMORE: Tour to Szentendre (extra expense)
Day 15 Budapest
Today is a full day at leisure in Budapest. Your Cruise Director will be on hand to assist on you how best to spend your day. Perhaps a visit to the city market, enjoy relaxing at the local thermal baths. Tonight, enjoy dinner on board with views of the city lights. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 16 Kalocsa
In the morning, we’ll sail out of Budapest towards Kalocsa, best known for its vibrant paprika festivals. Traditional folk art and culture are yours to discover here, as you sail through one of the oldest towns in Hungary.
This afternoon, you’ll venture to the Puszta, or Great Hungarian Plain, for a traditional performance showcasing the exceptional equestrian skills of the Magyar cowboys. Relax as you watch their spectacular horse parade and witness their exercise drills, most of which were readily practiced for wartime.
Today, enjoy a gala dinner on board. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldPLUS: A traditional Hungarian horse show
Day 17 Osijek
Cruise into the border region of Croatia and into Osijek, a historic university town full of leafy boulevards and promenades. Damage from the Homeland War is still visible across the city, but it is easily forgotten when you immerse yourself in the peaceful surrounds that can be found here.
Today, you will be able to meet students from a local village who will be delighted to perform for you during your EmeraldPLUS excursion, before embarking on a walk around Osijek Fortress, nestled in the centre of the romantic old town. This ensemble of well-preserved Baroque buildings is laid out like a traditional star fort, with bastions, armouries, a guardhouse and a military hospital all protected within its walls.
Later, sail further down the Danube and into Serbia, where remnants of recent conflicts can be seen on the riverbanks. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldPLUS: Visit the home of a local Croatian family
EmeraldPLUS: Meet the local village students
EmeraldEXCURSION: A guided tour of Osijek Fortress
Day 18 Belgrade
The capital of Serbia awaits you today, as a city tour introduces you to the highlights of one of Europe’s oldest cities, including Belgrade Fortress. Relax as your coach takes you through the centre of the city, where remnants of a chaotic past look out of place among peaceful surrounds.
Witness the symmetrical façade of the Church of Saint Sava, one of the world’s largest church buildings, and stop for a tour of the Museum of Yugoslavia. Enjoy learning about the life of the leader of the Partisans, Josip Broz Tito, and the way that they became one of the most effective resistance movements in occupied Europe. Alternatively, learn about the history of Belgrade during a guided bike tour of the city.
This evening, relax in the Horizon Lounge and watch a traditional Serbian folklore show. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldPLUS: A Serbian folklore evening show
EmeraldACTIVE: A guided bike tour
EmeraldEXCURSION: A guided tour of Belgrade
DiscoverMORE: A tour of the National Opera Theatre (extra expense)
Day 19 Golubac – Donji Milanovac
In eastern Serbia, within the Majdanpek municipality, the town of Donji Milanovac sits on the right bank of the Danube. Today, you will have the opportunity to visit the Palaeolithic site of Lepenski Vir on an included excursion. Enjoy learning about the importance of this archaeological site and its illustrious history, spanning more than 8 millennia. Archaeologists have used this site to track the development of prehistoric culture in Europe, and numerous Stone Age settlements have been found in the area.
The day ends as we sail through the Iron Gates, a scenic narrow gorge that meanders between the Carpathian Mountains and the European Alps. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldEXCURSION: A visit to Lepenski Vir archaeological site and museum
Day 20 Vidin
This morning, we’ll arrive in Vidin, a beautiful town in north-west Bulgaria. Situated on the right bank of the Danube, it is one of the oldest along the Bulgarian Danube bank, prospering from the surrounding countryside, renowned for producing wines. Your included tour will introduce you to the best of Vidin’s viticulture, as you stroll through a local vineyard and enjoy a tasting of their produce.
Later, venture to Baba Vida, a medieval fortress whose name can be translated to mean “Granny Vida”. Construction began on the fortress in the 10th century, and it has been steeped in legend ever since. Alternatively, hike to Belogradchik Fortress, a well-preserved stronghold that sits against a series of impressive rock formations. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldACTIVE: A hike to Belogradchik Fortress
EmeraldEXCURSION: Visit a local vineyard for a tasting
Day 21 Rousse – Veliko Tarnovo & Arbanasi
Today, your Star-Ship will cruise into Rousse. You will have the opportunity to visit Veliko Tarnovo, stopping to learn about its rich history as the former capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire. This medieval city was built atop three hills, and its fortifications and cobbled streets are certain to delight history lovers.
Nearby, Arbanasi sits on a high plateau overlooking the Yantra. Each street in the area is lined with traditional houses, and old churches offer centuries of exploration during your guided tour of Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanasi.
Alternatively, embark on a guided hike to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo, a complex of churches, chapels and monasteries. Witness the incredible nature of the 14th-century painted frescoes and learn about their composition and the emotional atmosphere that they convey, something that was far ahead of its time.
Tonight, we welcome you to the farewell reception. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldPLUS: A choir concert in Arbanasi
EmeraldACTIVE: Hike to the Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo
EmeraldEXCURSION: A tour of Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanasi
Day 22 Giurgiu – Bucharest
This morning, relax and enjoy the passing scenery as we drive towards Bucharest, including the Romanian city of Giurgiu, set amongst the mud flats and marshes of the Danube.
Visit the Spring Palace to see the elegant exterior of a well-kept secret and the plush interior of the private residence of Nicolae Ceausescu, before enjoying free time to explore the city at leisure. Learn about Bucharest’s vibrant history on a guided coach tour, including the Palace of Parliament.
This evening, settle into the comfortable surrounds of your hotel, perhaps going for a stroll down one of the wide avenues or leafy boulevards that give Bucharest a distinctly French feel. (Breakfast, Dinner)
EmeraldEXCURSION: A guided drive through Bucharest
Day 23 Bucharest
After breakfast, it is time to say farewell to your fellow guests and transfer to the airport, taking memories of the Great Hungarian Plain and medieval fortresses with you. (Breakfast)