DAY 1: Budapest
Arrive at the Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer, or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.
DAY 2: Budapest
Located on opposite sides of the Danube, Buda and Pest each has a distinctive character and allure all its own. You’ll get a taste of this dynamic capital city with your choice of tours, and visit Budapest’s celebrated Christmas market—one of the largest in Europe. Christmas has been celebrated in Budapest for a thousand years, since the time of St. Stephen, the king who founded the nation of Hungary and encouraged the spread of Christianity throughout his realm, but the city began as a Roman encampment almost a millennium before that. Over the centuries it’s been controlled by Germans, Austrians, Ottomans and Communists, all of whom have left traces. Today you’ll have a chance to experience some of the holiday traditions of this beautiful city.
Choice of Budapest city tour with Christmas Market or Exclusive “Do as the Locals Do” walking tour with Christmas Market
DAY 3: Cruising the Danube River, Bratislava
Once hidden from the world behind the “Iron Curtain,” Slovakia retains an air of mystery and intrigue, and its small capital city has an unexpectedly colorful history. You’ll learn more about Bratislava’s past from a local expert and also visit the local Christmas market—a relatively new (and thoroughly delightful) tradition for Slovakians. How do you say “Merry Christmas” in Slovakian? “Veselé Vanoce!” Today you’ll arrive in the capital city of Slovakia, Bratislava. The heart and soul of Slovakia, Bratislava is full of surprises. The city straddles the mighty Danube and has played a leading role in the politics and culture of the region for many centuries. Following Ottoman incursions into Hungary in the 16th-century, Bratislava, then known as Pressburg, became the capital of Hungary in 1536 and retained that status under the Habsburgs well into the 19th-century. As a result of its longtime imperial prominence, the city is a melting pot of cultures and architectural styles, including Gothic, baroque and art deco. Unlike cities with venerable Christmas markets, Bratislava just established its first holiday market in 1993. But the Slovakians have quickly embraced the seasonal traditions of their Austrian and Hungarian neighbors— and you’ll get to embrace them as well.
Bratislava walking discovery tour with Christmas Market
DAY 4: Vienna
Renowned for its art and architecture, its classical music, its decadent pastries and its lengthy list of famous former residents, the refined city of Vienna is a cultural treasure trove. Experience the city with your choice of tours, as well as something extra special—VIP access to an extraordinary collection of art. To see such masterpieces in complete privacy is an experience reserved solely for Uniworld guests. Tonight, enjoy a concert of Mozart and Strauss at a Viennese palace. The grand dame of the Danube, Vienna was the heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and remains, to this day, the political and cultural center of Austria. Klimt painted here; Beethoven and Mozart composed here; Freud developed his theories here. It’s a treasure trove of splendid architecture, astonishing art collections and inviting cafés—and it’s yours to enjoy.
“Morning with the Masters” at the Vienna Art History Museum
Choice of Vienna city tour with Christmas Market or Exclusive “Taste of Christmas” Vienna walking tour
DAY 5: Krems, Cruising the Wachau Valley
One of the most beautiful abbeys in Austria is still an active Benedictine monastery, but a monastery the likes of which you’ve never seen—Napoleon himself once laid his head here in the lavish imperial quarters. With its 14th-century stained glass windows, the abbey’s jewel box of a church is the perfect setting for a soul-stirring concert of organ music. Back onboard, enjoy a scenic cruise through the UNESCO-protected Wachau Valley. The fairytale town of Krems, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) west of Vienna, is your first port of call in the astonishingly beautiful Wachau Valley. Both the millennium-old town and the valley itself have been designated UNESCO World Heritage sites; today you’ll have a chance to see why.
Göttweig Abbey with private organ recital
DAY 6: Linz (Salzburg)
Mozart’s birthplace of Salzburg is nestled in a glorious alpine setting that sparkles like a winter wonderland this time of year. Fans of The Sound of Music may recognize locations from the Oscar-winning film in the city’s Old Town, the site of a grand cathedral and an absolutely enchanting Christmas market. Your ship docks in Linz today. From there, you’ll travel to the elegant alpine city of Salzburg for an enchanting full-day excursion.
Full-day Salzburg walking discovery tour with Christmas Market
DAY 7: Passau
Passau is a crossroads in more ways than one—three rivers meet here and three nations nearly do, making for a fascinating cultural mosaic. Get to know the town with a guided stroll, then visit the local Christmas market on the square in front of the cathedral. Later, enjoy a traditional Bavarian dinner served in a festively decorated barn.
Passau walking discovery tour with Christmas Market
Bavarian Christmas celebration with dinner in a country barn
DAY 8: Passau (Disembark)
Disembark the ship in Passau. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer, or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Munich Airport for your flight home.
Celebrate the season in the birthplace of many beloved holiday traditions
Budapest has celebrated Christmas for a thousand years, since the reign of St. Stephen, the king who founded Hungary and encouraged the spread of Christianity throughout his realm. As you ramble through the Christmas Market on Vörösmarty Square, admiring the handmade porcelain, stop to watch as kürtos kalács (a pastry) is baked on rods over an open fire and then coated with sugar before it’s handed to you.
In Bratislava, where a lively young art scene is revitalizing the compact city core, stalls abound with traditional Slovakian Christmas items such as medovníky (spiced ginger cookies) and šúpolie (figurines made from corn husks). Experience Uniworld’s exclusive “Taste of Christmas” program in the heart of Vienna during the day. Follow the lights down the Landstrasse in Linz to the Volksgarten, where you’ll find a fairytale Christmas display—large animated renditions of scenes from fairytales that will entrance the child in you. Or mail a letter from Christkindl, where children from all over the world send their Christmas wish lists.
Glorious baroque architecture, delightful concerts and ravishing scenery will make this Christmas season unforgettable as you sail through the holidays on the Danube.
Who will enjoy this cruise:
Music lovers will find many special holiday treats on this cruise, from onboard caroling and a classical concert in Vienna to an exclusive organ recital. Shoppers will delight in the chance to pick out a variety of unique gifts at enchanting Christmas markets.
All meals onboard, prepared using the finest and freshest ingredients
7 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 7 dinners
Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Receptions
Welcome and Farewell Gala Dinners
Unlimited beverages onboard, including fine wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks, specialty coffee and tea, and mineral water
6 days of excursions, including “Choice Is Yours” options, all fully hosted by English-speaking local experts
Guided “Taste of Christmas” and “Gentle Walking” programs
State-of-the-art Quietvox portable audio-headset system on all excursions
Use of Nordic walking sticks
7-night cruise in a riverview stateroom on the stately S.S. Maria Theresa
Lavishly appointed riverview staterooms and suites have handcrafted Savoir® of England beds, high-thread count 100% Egyptian cotton sheets and European duvets, and a menu of pillow options
Free Internet and Wi-Fi access
4 countries: Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia
4 UNESCO World Heritage sites
Services of an experienced Uniworld Cruise Manager
All transfers on arrival and departure days
Captivating onboard local entertainment
Cultural enrichment, including a Signature Lecture: "The Sound of Christmas Music, from 'Silent Night' to Christmas Oratorio"
The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines. Sorry, we are unable to offer air from countries other than the U.S. However, for those international customers who are able to arrange their own transportation to the trip origination city, we are able to offer the land/cruise portion of the package at the price quoted.