Celebrate the holidays with Vantage on a leisurely and festive cruise. Discover the joys of traveling in Europe during the low season, including fewer crowds, all while taking in the pleasures of European wintertime. Setting sail from charming Budapest, you’ll visit festive Bavarian towns such as Passau, explore UNESCO-listed Vienna over two days, and hear an organ concert at a Franciscan church in Bratislava that will put you in the holiday mood.
You’ll sail the Danube on the 5-star m/s River Splendor, which we’ve reoutfitted with even more supplement-free single cabins with French balconies and adjoining cabin options that are perfect for traveling with the family or a group of friends! Learn how to make gingerbread . . . Hear about Austrian Christmas traditions . . . Follow The Sound of Music to Salzburg . . . Discover Regensburg, the gem of Bavaria, and its famous sausages . . . And enjoy special dinners and deck the halls of your ship for a spirited journey.
Add pre- and post-trip extensions to Prague and Budapest for more holiday magic in two of Europe's grandest cities. Don’t miss this delightful holiday journey that’s perfect for friends, family, and solo travelers!
Next stop: Budapest!
Your cruise begins with an overnight flight to Budapest, Hungary. You can also begin your festive journey earlier — and spend more time in Budapest — with an optional pre-trip extension.
Enjoy a Welcome Drink in Budapest and board your Deluxe ship
Prepare to experience the joys of a Deluxe river cruise when you arrive to grand Budapest at the peak of seasonal splendor. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a Vantage representative will meet you upon arrival and arrange transfer to the m/s River Splendor. This evening, you’ll gather with the Captain and your fellow travelers for a Welcome Drink and Briefing before your first dinner on board.
Vantage Onboard Enrichment:
Explore Budapest on a city tour
Wake up in Budapest, which you’ll see this morning on a city tour.
Almost the entirety of Budapest’s historic center has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you’ll see the best of it as you visit City Park; Heroes' Square with its statues of Magyar chieftains; elegant Andrassy Avenue; the iconic Parliament building; and Castle Hill, where you’ll have free time and entry to Fisherman's Bastion.
Your afternoon is free for you to explore. Perhaps you’ll head to visit a famous confectioner like Gerbeaud. Perhaps you’ll explore the more than 100 stalls comprising the Budapest Christmas Market, or ask your Concierge to help arrange a visit to one of Budapest’s famous thermal baths, such as Széchenyi or Gellért.
Apple strudel and treasure hunting in Bratislava; plus, the Captain’s Gala Dinner and evening entertainment
Warm apple strudel . . . it’s a holiday staple in Europe, and you’ll learn how to make it today during a cooking demonstration.
Afterwards, get to know Bratislava on a walking tour of the city’s historical sites including the Main Square, National Theater, and an inside visit to the Bishop’s Palace before attending a classical organ recital at a local Franciscan church.
This afternoon, enjoy free time to explore the streets of Bratislava. Tonight, enjoy the Captain’s Gala Dinner, followed by evening entertainment.
Explore the Liechtenstein Palace in Vienna
Start your day with an entertaining onboard lecture about Vienna's Christmas traditions, then venture to Vienna today and enjoy a panoramic city drive along the UNESCO-listed Ringstrasse that will give you a better view of this imperial and artsy capital.
Later, feel the grandeur of Palais Liechtenstein on a special tour of this dazzling estate. After lunch back onboard, spend some time exploring Vienna on your own via a convenient shuttle to and from the ship. In the afternoon, you'll enjoy a cocktail of the day presentation, followed by a wine pairing dinner on board. Following dinner, you'll be delighted by live musical entertainment on board.
The best of Vienna: Lipizzaner horses and a private Kursalon concert
A lecture on the Habsburg monarchy kicks off your second day of discoveries in Vienna. Afterward, attend a rehearsal of the famed Lipizzaner horses at the Spanish Riding School. After lunch on the ship, catch the Vantage shuttle back to the heart of Vienna, where you’ll have time to revel in the beauty of the city’s decorated Christmas markets and peruse the wares there.
This afternoon, get even more into the holiday spirit when you attend an exclusive private classical music concert at the Kursalon music hall — a frequent haunt of Vienna’s own Johann Strauss. This evening, you'll enjoy a cocktail of the day presentation with your fellow travelers on board your ship, followed by a celebratory Christmas dinner.
Please note: On dates when the morning rehearsal is not available at the Spanish Riding School, a guided tour will be provided of the Winter Riding School and Stables.
Follow The Sound of Music to Salzburg, or explore the cultural capital of Linz
You'll have a choice of tours in Austria today. Set off today for storybook Salzburg, nestled in the Austrian Alps. This city — Mozart’s hometown, in fact — also boasts a few locales featured in the beloved classic, The Sound of Music. Or, choose to explore lovely Linz, a cutting-edge city at the forefront of the arts and technology that UNESCO dubbed a City of Media Arts. If you prefer a more active tour option, your Cruise Director can arrange a walking tour of Linz and a hike to Ars Electronica Museum of Technology, then to Poestlingberg. No matter what tour you choose, you’ll have time to soak up the charm — and continue your exploration of the local Christmas markets. After dinner, enjoy more local entertainment in the ship’s lounge.
Christmas-themed Passau tour, painting and gingerbread making, plus the Captain’s Gala Dinner
More baroque splendor awaits you in picturesque Passau, located at the confluence of the Inn, Ilz, and Danube rivers. On a Christmas-themed walking tour, we’ll admire the UNESCO-listed Old Town and spend some time at the Christmas market, located just outside St. Stephan's Cathedral. For a more active option, you can participate in a 3.5-hour hiking tour of Passau that includes entrance to Veste Oberhaus. Don't forget to try the gingerbread here in Passau — it’s spiced, warm, delectable, and you’ll even learn how to make it later this afternoon.
Later, a local painter comes on board for a colorful painting lesson. Then, learn the secrets of making Germany’s treasured lebkuchen — also known as gingerbread — in the ship’s lounge. Afterward, deck the halls of your ship in a fun Christmas tree decorating workshop. This fun, family activity culminates with a competition, and the winner will be announced afterward at the festive Captain’s Farewell Reception followed by a German-themed Farewell Dinner.
Wander Regensburg’s historic streets by foot or bike
Delve into Bavarian custom and culture with a day in medieval Regensburg. Largely spared from World War II bombing, Regensburg is remarkably well-preserved, with an Old Town doubling as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander the city on a walking tour of its medieval highlights.
You’ll also meet Martin, Regensburg’s city guard, who will regale you with a special presentation. If you’re more active, you’ll have the opportunity to join the same walking tour but at a faster clip. Alternatively, feel free to explore on one of the complimentary bicycles aboard your ship.
Later, you'll have leisure time to explore on your own, including a chance to dine at the Regensburg Sausage Kitchen, a historic restaurant on the Danube that’s also the oldest continuously open restaurant in the world. Don’t miss the finger-sized sausage, sauerkraut, and sweet mustard — a delicacy! You can also visit an antique clock and handmade gift shop, or join the Cruise Director for a warm, mulled cup of Glühwein at the local Christmas Market.
Fly home from Munich, or head to Prague on an extension
Disembark your river cruise ship in Regensburg and transfer to the Munich airport to return home, or head to Prague for a post-trip extension.
On this three-day extension, explore one of Europe’s — nay, the globe’s! — most impressive capitals. Delve deeper into the urban heart of Hungary as you enjoy plenty of time on your own to shop for festive holiday treats, take in a thermal bath, and discover what makes this “Pearl of the Danube” so luminous. This is an outstanding opportunity to experience the best of the Hungarian capital filled with holiday spirit, holiday treats, and charming Christmas markets.
Important Notice:The above day-by-day itinerary is preliminary and subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert. In addition, should there be an extreme change in water levels, Vantage will do everything possible to provide either the included excursion or an alternate excursion at Vantage’s discretion.
Please Note: Port times & itineraries are subject to change. Fluctuating water levels and winter weather may affect itinerary. All Christmas markets are subject to local traditions and opening dates and times are dependent on the local authorities.