What could make the charm of a classic Alpine village even more magical than mountainous scenery punctuated by woodcarvings and Lüftlmalerei wall paintings? It’s the once-every-decade Passion Play, staged by villagers in Bavaria, re-enacting the life and times of Christ. A fascinating pageant and cultural tradition that can’t be replicated anywhere else is available to you on deluxe small-group tours with Vantage Travel on select 2022 departures only — we offer you the best seats and accommodations among American cruise lines today.
No matter which departure you choose, Majestic Rivers of Europe: Castles, Cathedrals & Fairytales offers you storybook castles and vineyard-covered hillsides. Savor the flavors of the Rhine Valley at a barbecue with live music in a German village. Hear waltz music in Vienna, where we are one of the only European river cruise company that takes you there for two full days and take in the view across the Danube from Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest.
Thirteen included features, including nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as well as entertaining and informative shipboard lectures and Cultural Connections, transform a deluxe riverboat cruise into a delightful immersion in the sights, sounds, flavors, and most of all, the beauty, along Europe’s great waterways.
Journey to the heart of Bavaria to experience a fairy-tale town that hosts a very special celebration once every decade. On this once-in-a-lifetime extension, be enchanted by a breathtaking village frozen in time, home to famous Lüftlmalerei wall paintings and wood carvings that depict traditional mythical stories. And, every ten years, the town puts on a Passion Play about the life of Jesus, fabled to have kept a plague at bay more than four centuries ago.
This year is even more unprecedented, as the current global state of affairs delayed the event from 2020 now to 2022. You'll have the opportunity to take part in this tradition that remains alive and well and has been an international allurement for the faithful and historians alike since 1634.
Not only will you have a seat on one of the most dramatic and unforgettable performances, you'll also be able to explore modern and storied Munich, and discover what makes this city so wonderful. Enjoy some of the best seats in the house on the Oberammergau Passion Play and more of the most enriching features on this spectacular extension in Germany.
Make the most of your included airfare by adding two more European countries to your passport — three nights in magnificent Prague, an elegant, Old World capital boasting many grand castles, and two nights in Bratislava, the delightful capital of Slovakia.
In Prague, you'll enjoy a walking tour of the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Jewish Quarter. En route to Bratislava, you'll stop in Brno, Czech Republic for a stroll with your city host.
Then, in Bratislava, a baroque city along the Danube River cruise portion of your journey, you'll be captivated by the many historic treasures on a walking tour. To conclude your journey, you'll stop in the village of Dunaalmas, Hungary for a community hosted lunch, where you can help prepare the meal with guidance from your friendly hosts.
Fly overnight to Frankfurt, Germany
Fly overnight to Frankfurt, Germany, from your convenient U.S. gateway city.
Enjoy the Mainz attraction
Today, you’ll land in Frankfurt. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a Vantage representative will meet you and arrange transfer to the pier in Mainz, where you will board your Deluxe river ship and officially begin your European river cruise. If you were already in Germany for our exciting pre-trip Oberammergau extension, transfer to Mainz to meet the other travelers on your base tour.
Sip Kölsch while exploring the historic cultural center of Cologne
This morning, take a walking tour of this historic German cultural center. This evening, we'll enjoy a Welcome Reception and Dinner as well as some on board entertainment.
Culinary Feature: Enjoy a tasting of Kölsch beer, a signature brew that is only made here in Cologne.
Biking Opportunity: Enjoy a scenic path along the iconic Rhine River, with terrific views of the Cologne Cathedral and Hohenzollern Bridge, during this easy 5-mile route. Click here for details.
Rhine Valley views; Rüdesheim personalized for you
After some scenic sailing in the morning — during which we'll marvel at the scenery and hear about local lore — you'll arrive in Rüdesheim, where you'll have your choice of three tours. The first is a cable car ride to the historic Niederwald Monument, which overlooks the Rhine Valley and commemorates the unification of Germany in the late 19th century. Or, embark on a mini-train ride to Siegfried's Musikkabinett, an amusing museum dedicated to self-playing music and its instruments. Your third choice of tours is a newly added vigorous hiking tour, where you’ll sample three different regional vintages. Afterwards, you'll return to the ship for dinner, which will be followed by on board entertainment.
Day-tripping through romantic Heidelberg
Today, set off from Frankfurt for a full-day excursion to Heidelberg, a UNESCO site that is home to Germany’s oldest college, Heidelberg University. Unforgettable Moment: In Heidelberg, you’ll tour 15th-century Heidelberg Castle, one of the most famous of European castles, an imposing Gothic-Renaissance ruin of red stone that illustrates the history of Germany. Ride the funicular from the castle to the town center, where you’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and then have free time to explore.
Exploring village life in Marktheidenfeld, with a BBQ lunch and traditional live music
We'll arrive in Wertheim this morning and will set out to explore the town after breakfast. Unforgettable Moment: The highlight of our day will be a delightful half-day tour during which learn about local industry. While there, we’ll savor a BBQ lunch and take in some traditional live music. Later, join your Cruise Director in the lounge for a lively German lesson — pick up a few key words and phrases to use when interacting with locals.
Tour and wine tasting inside the Würzburg Residenz
Arriving in Würzburg, set out on a half-day tour of the Würzburg Residenz, a baroque European castle and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your tour includes a visit to the wine cellar for a tasting and lecture.
Biking Opportunity: Explore the scenic banks of the Main River during this moderate 17-mile route. Click here for details.
Altmühl Valley sailing and walking tour of Bamberg
While we cruise this morning, a glassblowing demonstration introduces us to the artistry of this age-old craft followed by a lecture on the Rhine-Main-Danube canal. Later, we’ll pass through the locks of the canal and enjoy a day sailing through the lovely Altmühl valley. Arriving in Bamberg, we'll embark on a fascinating walking tour of the historic center of town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Learn how to make Swabian meat pockets during an on board demonstration this evening, a regional treat customary in southwestern Germany.
Wine Feature: Tonight’s delicious dinner on board includes a pairing of four wines with insights on their local production.
Nuremberg, customized for you — tour the town’s highlights or explore its WWII history
This morning you'll have your choice of two city tours of Nuremberg. Choose “Nuremberg and World War II” to explore the city’s World War II history and visit the Documentation Center, or take the “Highlights of Medieval Nuremberg” tour that includes a visit to the Castle grounds and walking tour from Hauptmarkt to St. Sebald Church. During afternoon free time, feel free to visit the Toy Museum, as Vantage will cover the entrance fee, and attend a lecture about Bavarian beer. This evening, chat with your fellow travelers during cocktail hour in the lounge and enjoy a delectable dinner on board.
Regensburg: Roman architecture and Bavarian charms
Cultural Connection: This morning, attend a lecture on “Germany in the 21st Century: Changes & Challenges.” Later, explore UNESCO-listed Regensburg today. This city has a history stretching back to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, and you’ll get to know its heritage during a walking tour. Admire the impressive cathedral, as well as the famous stone bridge which was built in the 12th century. Later, back on the ship, enjoy the "Magic of Rhythm Show," where international tap stars showcase a variety of styles, from ferociously fast Paddle-and-Roll rhythms to languid, elegant Soft Shoe to fiery a-cappella counterpoint. From the first taps to last, these artists will captivate you with thrilling, humorous and unforgettable performances.
Music in picturesque Passau
Today, join a walking tour of baroque Passau, known as the "town of three rivers" because it's located where two tributaries join the Danube river. On your tour, enjoy an organ concert inside St. Stephan’s Cathedral. Take part in another cooking demonstration today, during which you'll learn about Tiroler Grostl.
Biking Opportunity: Follow the beautiful Ilz River along a scenic 10-mile route (moderate level). Click here for details.
Painting Lesson: Join a local artist to learn how to capture the scenery with a brush.
Music and dancing in Vienna
Scenic Sailing: Relax as your ship cruises the Danube River through the scenic Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Landscape.
This morning, an apple strudel making demonstration awaits in your Captain's Club while you sail, followed by an on board lunch. Be prepared for what awaits you later this afternoon with an insightful on board lecture about Musical Vienna. Once in Austria's capital, you’ll be treated to a delightful evening filled with tunes and revelry at an exclusive Kursalon music hall concert, with a dinner and wine pairing later on. Later on board, keep the party going with dancing on board; local dancers will show you their fancy footwork and teach you a few steps.
Vienna and the Austrian National Library
This morning you’ll be treated to a city tour of Vienna, whose historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the many highlights are the Austrian National Library and St. Stephen’s Cathedral, followed by lunch on board the ship. There will be a cooking demonstration to highlight traditional dishes as well.
Please note: The Austrian National Library will be undergoing renovation from July 2022 until the end of the year. During this period, you will visit the Imperial Treasury Vienna instead.
Vienna as you like it, then Budapest-bound
You'll have your choice of two tours this morning: either the city's excellent Museum of Art History or the grand Schönbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This afternoon, sail leisurely towards another great European capital: Budapest. You’ll gather with your fellow travelers tonight for the Captain’s Farewell Party.
Going for baroque on a city tour of Budapest
Your European river cruise comes to a conclusion in grand style, as you arrive in Budapest. During your tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, enjoy the stunning panoramic views across the Danube River from the hilltop terraces of Fisherman’s Bastion.
Biking Opportunity : Enjoy the most magnificent sites of Budapest, including Freedom Bridge, Chain Bridge, and the Hungarian Parliament Building during an easy 5-mile route. Click here for details.
Disembark ship and return home (or begin your extension to Bratislava and Prague!)
Transfer to the airport for your return flight home, or begin your optional post-trip extension to Bratislava & Prague.
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 may affect itinerary.