Celebrate the holidays with Vantage on this festive river cruise. Discover the joys of traveling in Europe during the low season, including fewer crowds and more time to explore the pleasures of Europe in wintertime. Setting sail from charming Budapest, you’ll visit traditional Christmas markets, charming Bavarian villages, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You’ll also enjoy festive, Vantage-exclusive activities, including a private concert at Vienna’s famed Kursalon Music Hall and a gingerbread-making demonstration sure to put you in the holiday mood.
Journey down the scenic Danube aboard the 5-star m/s River Splendor, an elegant river cruise ship outfitted with every luxurious amenity you can dream of. Along with delicious 5-star dining and unparalleled personalized service, she is outfitted with even more French balconies, custom-built solo cabins, and adjoining cabin options. In all, you’ll enjoy 19 included features and Cultural Connections throughout your Christmas-themed river cruise.
Enjoy even more holiday magic when you add an optional pre- or post-trip extension in Prague or Budapest, two of Europe's grandest cities. Don’t miss this delightful holiday journey that’s perfect for friends, family, and solo travelers!
First stop: Budapest!
Your luxury river cruise begins with an overnight flight to Budapest, Hungary. Or, spend more time exploring 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
Today you’ll set out on a city tour of Budapest, of which almost the entirety of its historic center has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll see many of the city’s most notable landmarks, including City Park, Heroes' Square, Andrassy Avenue, the iconic Parliament building, Castle Hill, and Fisherman's Bastion. Following your tour, the remainder of the afternoon is free for you to explore at your leisure. Perhaps you’ll head to the Budapest Christmas market and visit over 100 stalls offering locally produced wares.
Strudel-making and treasure hunting in Bratislava
Warm apple strudel is a European holiday staple, and you’ll learn how to make it during an onboard cooking demonstration this morning. Afterwards, get to know Bratislava on a walking tour of the city’s historical sites, including the Main Square, National Theater, and the Bishop’s Palace. Later, attend a classical organ recital at a local Franciscan church. You’ll have free time following your tour to discover more of Bratislava on your own, including the enchanting Christmas market. This evening, join your fellow travelers for an elegant Captain’s Gala Dinner on board, followed by festive entertainment.
Discover the historic heart of Vienna
Begin your day with breakfast on board and an engaging lecture about Vienna’s long-held Christmas traditions, before heading out on panoramic tour of this charming city. You’ll be introduced to the historic center of Vienna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, including the city’s famed Ringstrasse and the Innere Stadt. Here you’ll see the Hofburg Palace, the Stephansdom Cathedral, the fashionable Graben area, and the adjoining Kohlmarkt. Following lunch back on board, you’ll have the remainder of the day at your leisure, with convenient shuttle service from the ship to the local Christmas market.
Destination Enhancement: Customize your journey when you add an optional excursion. Visit Vienna’s famed Opera House and pop into the city’s coffeehouses. Learn more
Vienna’s State Opera House (Wiener Staatsoper) is one of the world’s leading opera houses. Commissioned in 1861 as part of the city’s expansion efforts, this 1,700-seat Renaissance Revival venue was the first major structure built on the Vienna Ringstrasse. While its past is steeped in tradition, today the opera house hosts many richly varied performances and events. Each season’s schedule may include as many as 350 performances of over 60 different operas and ballets. This optional tour affords you an opportunity to visit this elegant theater, followed by a taste of Viennese coffee culture when you pop into one of the many cozy coffeehouses found here.
Due to high call volume, we recommend you visit MyPortfolio to book this Destination Enhancement. Don’t wait — these optional experiences are limited to a select number of guests and are selling out fast!
Visit Vienna’s renowned riding school and enjoy a private concert
Today you’ll have a unique opportunity to visit Vienna’s Spanish Riding School and attend a rehearsal of the world-famous Lipizzaner stallions. Return to the ship for lunch, then catch a complimentary shuttle back to the heart of Vienna, where you’ll have time to peruse the wares at the city’s delightful Christmas market. Later, you’ll partake in a true Vantage-exclusive event: a private classical music concert at the Kursalon music. Back on board, enjoy a cocktail of the day presentation, 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.
Explore the cultural capital of Linz
Today, you’ll explore lovely Linz, a cutting-edge city at the forefront of the arts and technology that UNESCO dubbed a City of Media Arts, with an active walking and hiking tour to Ars Electronica. You’ll have time to continue your exploration of the local Christmas markets before returning to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at leisure on board. After dinner, enjoy local entertainment in the ship’s lounge.
Destination Enhancement: Customize your journey when you add an optional excursion. Set out on a full-day tour of lovely Salzburg. Learn more
Christmas-themed Passau tour, plus the Captain’s Farewell 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.