Trip Type : River Cruise
Rhine, Main & Danube Discovery (2021) tour
Amsterdam Bavaria Rhine, Main & Danube Discovery (2021) Trip

Rhine, Main & Danube Discovery (2021)

Uniworld
4.9 . Excellent
96%
Travel Style: N/A
Physical Level: Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level: 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Comfort (4*)
15 days
From: $ 6,199 $ 413 / day
Checking price

Overview

Short Description

Authentic experiences and local encounters are in store on your cruise along the most scenic parts of the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers.

These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Trip Type River Cruise
Array
Itinerary Focus N/A
3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Lodging Level Comfort (4*)
Flight & Transport Inclusions N/A
Start City Amsterdam
End City Vienna

Destinations

Austria Netherlands

Attractions & Cities Visited

Amsterdam Bavaria Nuremberg Passau Vienna

Activities & Interests

Culture Historic sightseeing River cruise

N/A
See more

Itinerary

2019 version

Amsterdam to Vienna


Day 1 - Amsterdam (Embark)

Port - Amsterdam

Arrive at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. If your cruise 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 - Cologne

Port - Cologne

Today you’ll experience the many treasures of Cologne on a stroll that will take you to the Old Town, an area rich in history and architecture, featuring 12 Romanesque churches and stunning remnants of the town’s medieval past.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Excursion(s) - Cologne walking tour with Old Town visit
Excursion Price - $70

As you walk through the narrow lanes of the Old Town, you’ll find it hard to believe that more than 70 percent of the city was destroyed by bombs during WWII. Three medieval gates remain standing, as does the old city hall with its Renaissance façade. The famous 12 Romanesque churches were reconstructed from the rubble, and the cathedral, Cologne’s iconic landmark, rises magnificently in the city center. Though it was badly damaged in WWII, the great UNESCO-designated cathedral retains many of its original treasures—the relics of the Magi and other sacred figures, which inspired its building in the 12th century, the 14th-century stained-glass windows that were stored safely throughout the war and the beautifully painted choir stalls—though other treasures are displayed separately. Enter the awe-inspiring nave and explore on your own as you learn about the history of the cathedral and its art collections, especially the pieces surrounding the Shrine of the Magi.

NOTE: On Sundays and Catholic holidays, tours inside the cathedral are not allowed, but individual visits are still welcomed.


Day 3 - Rüdesheim

Port - Rüdesheim

Your floating hotel arrives in Rüdesheim, one of the most charming ports of call in the Rhine Valley. This city has a long history going back to Roman times and is famous for the Drosselgasse, a narrow, bustling lane of shops and wine bars, as well as its impressive Niederwald Monument.

Excursion(s) - Rüdesheim walk with local treats
Excursion Price - $70

The winemaking town of Rüdesheim boasts countless delights, especially along the enchanting Drosselgasse alley that runs through the city’s Old Town. Follow your guide through this quaint neighborhood and learn how the famous Rüdesheimer Coffee, a coffee infused with Asbach Uralt (a magnificent German brandy) and topped with whipped cream, is prepared. You’ll also visit a small chocolatier’s shop for a sample of their delicious sweets.

Excursion(s) - Rheinweinwelten visit - The best Rhine Rieslings
Excursion Price - $70

Enjoy a wine tasting at your leisure with a visit to Rheinweinwelten in Rüdesheim. This local treasure trove of wines is sure to impress, with 14 different wine caves to explore. This experience can be enjoyed at your own pace and is not guided. There is, however, ample literature and information in each room about every one of the 160 distinct wines. You’ll receive 10 tokens at the start, with which you can choose to sample whichever vintages appeal to you most. Prost!

Excursion(s) - "Let's Go" hike from Rüdesheim to Assmanshausen
Excursion Price - $70

This fun excursion combines several of the area’s attractions. Start by hopping into an aerial cable car and soaring above the vineyards to the Niederwald Monument, which looks out over the entire Rheingau wine region. From the heights above the river, you and your local expert will hike down through vineyards to the picturesque riverfront village of Assmanshausen (which is lauded for its red wine), where a bus will bring you back to the ship in Rüdesheim.

Note: The gondola to Niederwald Heights is covered but not heated. Cars are open on the sides, and it is recommended that you dress warmly.


Day 4 - Miltenberg

Port - Miltenberg

The perfect German town calls for a day full of quintessential German experiences. Resting on the left bank of the Main, Miltenberg is classically quaint with its charming squares, farmland, biking and pedestrian paths, impressive castles and one of Germany’s oldest inns.

Excursion(s) - Miltenberg walking tour with Brotzeit
Excursion Price - $70

Nestled between the Rhine and the mountains along its banks, this town has changed little since the 17th century. Explore its iconic half-timbered architecture as you roam Miltenberg with your local guide, taking some free time to shop. Along the way, we’ll stop at the Rathaus—or Town Hall—for a traditional Brotzeit snack and welcome drink.

When our time in Miltenberg ends, we’ll move on to Bürgstadt, a winegrowing community about an hour’s walk away. You’ll have the opportunity to either hop on a bus or join a nature walk to reach this town.


Day 5 - Würzburg

Port - Würzburg

The opulent Würzburg Residence, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a true sense of the region’s history through the European Renaissance. It even contains the world’s largest ceiling fresco by Tiepolo. Visit the Residence and its carefully restored gardens or get outdoors and enjoy a scenic hike around Festung Marienberg, a prominent landmark that was previously home to a long line of prince-bishops.

Excursion(s) - “Let’s Go” hike to Festung Marienberg
Excursion Price - $70

Perched on a hilltop high above the city of Würzburg, Festung Marienberg is visible from seemingly every direction. Lace up your sneakers and wind your way up to this beloved landmark. As you make your way to the top, you’ll enjoy the scenery of the Main’s left bank and views of enchanting Würzburg below. It was here that the first church north of the Alps was built in 704 AD, followed by 13th-century fortifications and several additional structures. The fortress was expanded and renovated numerous times during the Renaissance and baroque periods, giving it its own unique flair.

Excursion(s) - Würzburg Residence visit with Court Gardens
Excursion Price - $70

This incredibly lavish 18th-century palace was created under the auspices of two Schönborn prince-bishops, Lothar Franz and Friedrich Carl, who brought enormous knowledge and passion, as well as a budget for the best, to the project. Over the course of 60 years, they fostered the creation of a 300-room palace that contains jaw-dropping baroque art. The magnificent grand staircase boasts the world’s largest ceiling fresco, painted by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Portions of the building were damaged by Allied bombing in 1945, but, fortunately, most of the historic furnishings had been stored off-site and key rooms were unharmed, so you can see the original—and matchless—artwork, gilding and statuary. Check out both the spectacular Hall of Mirrors and the imposing Imperial Hall, which boasts a large oval dome and 20 half-columns. Even the gardens have been restored, right down to the topiary fruit trees in the kitchen garden, which are re-creations of the trees grown there in the 18th century.

Note: Visitors may not take photos or videos or carry backpacks inside the Würzburg Residence.


Day 6 - Volkach

Port - Volkach

Your day brings you to Volkach and the heart of the Franconian wine country. It’s a region full of overwhelming natural beauty, rooted communities, marvelous flavors and villages that have been making wine for countless generations. Explore the town and its surrounding countryside.

Excursion(s) - Heart of Franconian Wine Country “Village Day”
Excursion Price - $70

This picture-perfect region is cradled in the curve of the Main’s breathtaking horseshoe bend, wrapping itself around sprawling vineyards, rare wildflowers, countless fruit trees, verdant landscapes and quaint villages. There is a plethora of wonderful ways to explore here, and you’ll have the option to choose your favorite.

Perhaps you’d like to get acquainted with the village of Volkach, meeting local vintners and sampling their house wines along the way. Or maybe you’d rather take in panoramic views of the wine country before participating in a chocolate-paired wine tasting at the “Art of Chocolate” factory.

And if active exploration sounds more enticing, you can choose to bike past the many vineyards of Volkach on your trip to “Wine Island”, stopping for some refreshments before ending your tour with a nostalgic ferry ride. Alternatively, embark on a canoe ride through the Mainschleife nature reserve to experience the landscapes of wine country from a new angle.


Day 7 - Bamberg

Port - Bamberg

Bamberg in its entirety is not only described as beautiful but has often been regarded as one of Germany’s most attractive settlements, with its ravishing architecture, intersecting canals and rivers, and charming stores and restaurants, all framed by rolling hills.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Excursion(s) - Bamberg walking tour with beer tasting
Excursion Price - $70

Now a pleasant city with a lively student population and a world-famous symphony orchestra, Bamberg was the center of economic and political life for a huge swath of Central Europe in the Middle Ages. Spared WWII bombing, the entire heart of historic Bamberg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The medieval layout of the city remains intact, along with 2,000 historic buildings; it is yours to explore today.

In the splendid late-Romanesque Imperial Cathedral you will find the only papal tomb in Germany, that of Pope Clement II (who was the bishop of Bamberg before he became pope), as well as the tomb of Emperor Henry II (who established the bishopric). Cross the cobblestone footbridge to the Old Town Hall, which is adorned with colorful frescoes, and ramble along the narrow lanes lined with picturesque half-timbered houses.

After the walking tour, we’ll treat you to a beer at a local restaurant to relax before setting off on your own to enjoy some free time in town before it’s time to return to the ship.

Excursion(s) - “Let’s Go” treetop hike
Excursion Price - $70

Venture into the Steigerwald Nature Park to experience the forest from a completely different perspective—high up in the treetops. A wooden pathway winds around the trees, then spirals upwards to culminate in a 41-meter tower.

Along the way you’ll pass a deer park, live camera feeds into birds’ nests, learning stations and a petting zoo. When you reach the top of the walkway, you’ll find yourself high above the forest, enjoying spectacular views of the countryside.


Day 8 - Nuremberg

Port - Nuremberg

Enjoy a day of leisure exploring beautiful and historic Nuremberg.


Day 9 - Nuremberg

Port - Nuremberg

The archetypal medieval German city, Nuremberg was once the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire, housing many German kings in the Kaiserburg castle complex. Later, this city became the epicenter of the Nazi party. When the end of WWII left Nuremberg almost completely leveled, it was chosen to be the site of the war crimes tribunal—the Nuremberg Trials. Now, most of the city has been restored, including the old castle.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Excursion(s) - Nuremberg climbing forest
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Nuremberg panoramic city tour
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Nuremberg city tour with WWII Rally Grounds and Documentation Center visits
Excursion Price - $70

Hitler considered Nuremberg the perfect expression of German culture (partly because of its significance in the Holy Roman Empire, which he called the First Reich), and so beginning in 1927, he chose to hold his massive rallies in the city. By 1933, his favorite architect, Albert Speer, had designed the vast Nazi Party Rally Grounds, where thousands upon thousands of Nazi troops saluted Hitler. (Leni Riefenstahl captured these events in her famous propaganda film Triumph of the Will.) Not all of Speer’s plans were executed, and some of his grandiose structures were bombed out of existence, but the remainder stand as vivid testimony to Hitler’s megalomania. A four-square-mile (10-square-kilometer) complex known as Zeppelin Fields contains parade grounds and a huge grandstand, the excavation site where a stadium for 400,000 people was begun—the hole is now filled with water—and the half-finished Congress Hall.

NOTE: The permanent exhibition at the Documentation Center will be closed until the fall of 2023. In its place, a special temporary exhibition may be available.


Day 10 - Regensburg

Port - Regensburg

The nearly 2,000-year-old history of Regensburg begins with a Roman fort in 90 AD, from which Regensburg grew into the large and prosperous trade center that it became in the last few centuries of the Medieval period. This long history has been excellently preserved through Regensburg’s iconic architecture—particularly its many Gothic and Romanesque churches and Patrician houses.

Excursion(s) - Regensburg walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

People have been describing Regensburg as “old and new” for a thousand years. A single structure perfectly illustrates this: Porta Praetoria, the gate built by the Romans during Marcus Aurelius’ reign. The gate and adjacent watchtower have been incorporated into a much newer building, but the plaster has been removed to reveal the ancient stones laid so long ago.

As you walk through the cobbled lanes of the UNESCO-designated Old Town, the city’s 2,000-year history is similarly revealed: the Stone Bridge that made Regensburg a 12th-century trading powerhouse, the Gothic town hall where the Imperial Diet met for three centuries, the 13th-century fortified patrician houses and the spectacular Cathedral of St. Peter, whose magnificent 14th-century stained-glass windows alone are worth your walk.

You’ll have free time to explore on your own. It’s very hard to get lost in Regensburg because the spires of the cathedral are visible all over town, so don’t hesitate to roam. The historic quarter not only boasts almost a thousand beautiful old buildings, but also many cozy pubs and some great shopping. The ship is docked conveniently close, so it’s easy to drop your treasures off and go back for more.

Excursion(s) - “From Hops Field to Beer Stein” farm visit
Excursion Price - $70

Hops vines grow up their strings in a field tower almost twice a person’s height. They’re grown for their flowers, which add a distinctive flavor to beer—but the fields they grow in add a distinctive flavor to the hops. You could call it terroir for beer, and you can delve into hops cultivation and hops brewing today. Travel through Bavaria’s Holledau region, the largest hops growing district in the world, and meet an enthusiastic ambassador of hops growing and beer making. She will give you a quick and lively history of hops in Germany—including Bavaria’s law governing the making of beer, which has specified since 1560 that the only ingredients permitted in beer are water, barley and hops—and lead you on a tour through the growing fields her family owns, followed by a craft beer tasting in the cozy barn turned beer hall. It’s a delicious way to get to know a fascinating aspect of the international farm-to-table movement.

Excursion(s) - Revved engines
Excursion Price - $70

Tour BMW’s state-of-the-art facility with an expert guide and see how their cars are produced from start to finish. Put on your safety goggles and factory coats and watch how massive conveyors lift the 3-series BMW up to be welded by computer-controlled robots. This tour offers a captivating look at the production of “the ultimate driving machine.”


Day 11 - Straubing, Deggendorf, Vilshofen

Port - Straubing

Nestled between Regensburg and Passau sits a town surrounded by the foothills of the Bavarian Forest, Deggendorf. Journey deep into the alluring Bavarian Forest National Park, Germany’s first national park, and discover outdoor leisure at its best.

Excursion(s) - Bavarian Forest Adventure
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Into the woods
Excursion Price - $70

Day 12 - Vilshofen, Passau

Port - Passau

A new day brings new experiences in the “City of Three Rivers,” Passau, where the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers join together, at one time bringing an influx of wealth and culture into the region.

Excursion(s) - “Let’s Go” scenic Bavarian river biking
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Passau walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

The skyline of Passau is dominated by two buildings that owe their existence to the prince-bishops who ruled the city until 1803: the great fortress looming on a hill above the three rivers, home to the bishops until the 17th century, and the green onion domes of St. Stephen’s Cathedral. As you walk through the cobblestone streets toward those green onion domes, you’ll realize that Passau retains the layout of the medieval town. However, many of the wooden medieval buildings burned to the ground in the 17th century, and the prince-bishops imported Italian artists to build a new cathedral and a grand new residence for the bishops themselves. As a result, these splendid structures aunt Italian baroque and rococo style and ornamentation, complete with opulent gilding and wonderful frescoes. Your guide will introduce you to some of the architectural highlights—the rococo stairways of the New Residence; the cathedral; and the Town Hall, which boasts a magnificent atrium adorned by large paintings by Ferdinand Wagner—and make sure you get a close-up view of the point where the three rivers meet: The waters of each one are a different color. Because it’s built on a peninsula between the Danube and the Inn, the city has flooded often over the centuries; you can see high-water marks on many buildings (2013 saw the worst flooding in 500 years). 

Excursion(s) - "Let's Go" hiking around Passau
Excursion Price - $70

Set off on a nice but strenuous hike up St. Georgsberg mountain to the highest spot of Passau, where the fortress Veste Oberhaus is located. Designed to be a symbol of military strength and aristocracy, the imposing building sits high on the hill facing the rest of Passau across the Danube River. Now it is home to the Oberhausmuseum, a youth hostel, a restaurant and an open-air theater.

We’ll have time to walk around to see the Oberhaus up close and, more importantly, enjoy the most picturesque views to be found anywhere in Passau, before hiking back down the hill. At the bottom, we’ll find the historic Old Town, where St. Stephen’s Cathedral is located. After a total of 2 hours hiking, we end our tour in front of the Cathedral, whose baroque white façade and aquamarine domes are an iconic fixture of Passau architecture.

Excursion(s) - Ilz River splash
Excursion Price - $70

Enjoy an afternoon on the water with the chance to try out rowing, canoeing or paddle-boarding on the Ilz River, nicknamed the “Black Pearl,” due to the moors and bogs at its river basin that give the water a mesmerizing black color. The Ilz is a paradise for kayakers and paddle boarders alike and allows people of all experience levels to have fun here.

Excursion(s) - Treasure hunt trek
Excursion Price - $70

Join a local geocaching guide on a unique discovery of Passau’s historical and hidden spots. Pay close attention to clues and hints as you make your way from one station to the next, uncovering important historical information about your current location. Each station also includes a special activity for kids.

Excursion(s) - Pedal Passau
Excursion Price - $70

Head out on a cycling excursion on the famous Danube Bike Trail, venturing through Passau, Engelhartszell and other fascinating locales. This flat pathway hugs the river and offers spectacular views of Germany’s lush scenery. The Danube Bike Trail is one of Europe's largest, following stretches of the Danube in Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.


Day 13 - Weissenkirchen, Melk

Port - Weissenkirchen

Start your day in the heart of the Danube’s Wachau Valley, strolling through Weissenkirchen’s idyllic wine village while sampling mouth watering apricot treats. Named for its white church that dominates the landscape, the city is flanked by vineyard-lined hills, historic houses and beautiful courtyards. The Melk Abbey is a baroque monastery and sits atop a rocky formation overlooking the Danube.

Excursion(s) - Weissenkirchen village walk with wine tasting
Excursion Price - $70

You’ve seen the apricot orchards along the river banks; now taste the fruit. Begin with an easy walk to Weissenkirchen, which may be the prettiest village in the Wachau—and that’s saying quite a bit. Named for its famous white church, Weissenkirchen is simply picture perfect. Its centuries-old wine estates, houses with colorful flower boxes, lovely gardens and apricot orchards make for a wonderfully idyllic setting between the river and the mountains. Stroll through the town with your guide, stopping at a farm store where local growers display their products, such as wild boar salami, cheeses, jams and traditional poppy-seed sweets. Apricots contribute their essence to many products: jams and brandy, of course, but also chocolates, honey, mustard and chutney, so your stop should be full of fun flavors. Stay in the village and explore a bit on your own or, if you’re up for a hike, join a group on a hike up through the vineyards. A stairway at the church will take you past the ancient cemetery and up to the hiking trail that leads through vineyards planted with Riesling and Grüner Veltliner grapes. You’ll enjoy expansive views over the river valley as you approach your resting point, where you can sample some Wachau wines as your guide explains the qualities that make these vintages unique. Your next treat is an easy walk back to the ship; instead of a reverse hike, you can comfortably stroll back into the village via a different route, passing many small vintners along the way.

Excursion(s) - Melk Abbey with library visit
Excursion Price - $70

The Babenbergs, a great medieval ducal family that controlled a wide swath of Austria before yielding to the Habsburgs, were the first to erect a castle on the hill above Melk, which they subsequently gave to Benedictine monks. These monks, some 900 years ago, turned it into a fortified abbey—and the greatest center of learning in Central Europe. Their library was celebrated far and wide (and still is; Umberto Eco paid tribute to it in his best-selling novel The Name of the Rose). Medieval monks there created more than 1,200 manuscripts, sometimes spending an entire lifetime hand-lettering a single volume. Today the library contains some 100,000 volumes, among them more than 80,000 works printed before 1800. This beautiful complex, completely redone in the early 18th century, is a wonderful example of baroque art and architecture, and the views from its terrace are spectacular. As you walk through the abbey’s Marble Hall with your guide, look up at the ceiling fresco painted by Paul Troger: Those classical gods and goddesses represent Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, allegorically bringing his people from dark to light and demonstrating the link he claimed to the original Roman Empire.

After your tour of the abbey, you’ll have time to explore Melk on your own, or you can take the motorcoach back to the ship.

Excursion(s) - “Let’s Go” vineyard hike
Excursion Price - $70

If you're up for a hike, join a group on a hike up through the vineyards. A stairway at the church will take you past the ancient cemetery and up to the hiking trail that leads through the vineyards planted with Riesling and Grüner Veltliner grapes. You'll enjoy expansive views over the river valley as you approach your resting point. An easy walk back to the ship; instead of a reverse hike, you can comfortably stroll back into the village via a different route, passing many small vintners along the way.


Day 14 - Vienna

Port - Vienna

On this day, explore the “City of Waltzes” and dive into its vast artistic legacy with your choice of tours. The city is known for its imperial palaces, famous residents and expansive art collections. See the Musikverein, a beautiful concert hall that is home to the Vienna Philharmonic. Or delve into the hidden secrets of Vienna in some of its most historical sites.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Excursion(s) - Viennese highlights with Musikverein
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - The secrets of Vienna
Excursion Price - $70

The city of Vienna is famous for its charm and beauty, but it’s also full of mystery under the surface. Uncover the many secrets of Vienna with your guide as you head all over town, diving deep into the city’s past at such historical sites as the allegedly haunted Imperial Palace.

The star of our tour is Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, whose gothic spire and extravagantly tiled roofs are an iconic element of Vienna’s cityscape. Also known as the Stephansdom, this nearly millennium-old building has seen many architectural changes over the centuries and features various secret signs and symbols, added to send covert messages to those who could decipher them. Luckily, your guide can help you do just that.

Excursion(s) - Magical history tour
Excursion Price - $70

Watch as history comes alive on this exploration of the city at the interactive multimedia venue Time Travel Vienna. Discover Vienna’s eventful history in a unique way; Time Travel Vienna features a 5D cinema, animatronic wax figures, rides and multimedia shows equipped with extraordinary sound and light effects. After, you’ll embark on a humorous and expertly-led walk around the city that will bring you to the historic St. Stephen's Cathedral.

Excursion(s) - Schönbrunn royal experience
Excursion Price - $70

Learn more about the everyday life of the imperial family at the “Schloss Schönbrunn Experience” Children’s Museum. Dress up as a prince or princess, learn the secret language of fans, play with imperial toys or set the table for an imperial dinner. Schönbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the Habsburg rulers, is a stunning 1,441 room Baroque palace that’s revered as one of the most important architectural and historical monuments in the country. Marvel at its over 300 years of history that reflect the changing tastes of former monarchs and wander through its vast gardens.


Day 15 - Vienna (Disembark)

Port - Vienna

Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Vienna International Airport for your flight home.

Vienna to Amsterdam


Day 1 - Vienna (Embark)

Port - Vienna

Transfer from Vienna International Airport to your ship. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.


Day 2 - Vienna

Port - Vienna

On this day, explore the “City of Waltzes” and dive into its vast artistic legacy with your choice of tours. The city is known for its imperial palaces, famous residents and expansive art collections. See the Musikverein, a beautiful concert hall that is home to the Vienna Philharmonic. Or delve into the hidden secrets of Vienna in some of its most historical sites.

Excursion(s) - Viennese highlights with Musikverein
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - The secrets of Vienna
Excursion Price - $70

The city of Vienna is famous for its charm and beauty, but it’s also full of mystery under the surface. Uncover the many secrets of Vienna with your guide as you head all over town, diving deep into the city’s past at such historical sites as the allegedly haunted Imperial Palace.

The star of our tour is Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, whose gothic spire and extravagantly tiled roofs are an iconic element of Vienna’s cityscape. Also known as the Stephansdom, this nearly millennium-old building has seen many architectural changes over the centuries and features various secret signs and symbols, added to send covert messages to those who could decipher them. Luckily, your guide can help you do just that.

Excursion(s) - Magical history tour
Excursion Price - $70

Watch as history comes alive on this exploration of the city at the interactive multimedia venue Time Travel Vienna. Discover Vienna’s eventful history in a unique way; Time Travel Vienna features a 5D cinema, animatronic wax figures, rides and multimedia shows equipped with extraordinary sound and light effects. After, you’ll embark on a humorous and expertly-led walk around the city that will bring you to the historic St. Stephen's Cathedral.

Excursion(s) - Schönbrunn royal experience
Excursion Price - $70

Learn more about the everyday life of the imperial family at the “Schloss Schönbrunn Experience” Children’s Museum. Dress up as a prince or princess, learn the secret language of fans, play with imperial toys or set the table for an imperial dinner. Schönbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the Habsburg rulers, is a stunning 1,441 room Baroque palace that’s revered as one of the most important architectural and historical monuments in the country. Marvel at its over 300 years of history that reflect the changing tastes of former monarchs and wander through its vast gardens.


Day 3 - Weissenkirchen, Melk

Port - Weissenkirchen

Start your day in the heart of the Danube’s Wachau Valley, strolling through Weissenkirchen’s idyllic wine village while sampling mouth watering apricot treats. Named for its white church that dominates the landscape, the city is flanked by vineyard-lined hills, historic houses and beautiful courtyards. The Melk Abbey is a baroque monastery and sits atop a rocky formation overlooking the Danube.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Excursion(s) - Melk Abbey with library visit
Excursion Price - $70

The Babenbergs, a great medieval ducal family that controlled a wide swath of Austria before yielding to the Habsburgs, were the first to erect a castle on the hill above Melk, which they subsequently gave to Benedictine monks. These monks, some 900 years ago, turned it into a fortified abbey—and the greatest center of learning in Central Europe. Their library was celebrated far and wide (and still is; Umberto Eco paid tribute to it in his best-selling novel The Name of the Rose). Medieval monks there created more than 1,200 manuscripts, sometimes spending an entire lifetime hand-lettering a single volume. Today the library contains some 100,000 volumes, among them more than 80,000 works printed before 1800. This beautiful complex, completely redone in the early 18th century, is a wonderful example of baroque art and architecture, and the views from its terrace are spectacular. As you walk through the abbey’s Marble Hall with your guide, look up at the ceiling fresco painted by Paul Troger: Those classical gods and goddesses represent Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, allegorically bringing his people from dark to light and demonstrating the link he claimed to the original Roman Empire.

After your tour of the abbey, you’ll have time to explore Melk on your own, or you can take the motorcoach back to the ship.

Excursion(s) - Weissenkirchen village walk with wine tasting
Excursion Price - $70

You’ve seen the apricot orchards along the river banks; now taste the fruit. Begin with an easy walk to Weissenkirchen, which may be the prettiest village in the Wachau—and that’s saying quite a bit. Named for its famous white church, Weissenkirchen is simply picture perfect. Its centuries-old wine estates, houses with colorful flower boxes, lovely gardens and apricot orchards make for a wonderfully idyllic setting between the river and the mountains. Stroll through the town with your guide, stopping at a farm store where local growers display their products, such as wild boar salami, cheeses, jams and traditional poppy-seed sweets. Apricots contribute their essence to many products: jams and brandy, of course, but also chocolates, honey, mustard and chutney, so your stop should be full of fun flavors. Stay in the village and explore a bit on your own or, if you’re up for a hike, join a group on a hike up through the vineyards. A stairway at the church will take you past the ancient cemetery and up to the hiking trail that leads through vineyards planted with Riesling and Grüner Veltliner grapes. You’ll enjoy expansive views over the river valley as you approach your resting point, where you can sample some Wachau wines as your guide explains the qualities that make these vintages unique. Your next treat is an easy walk back to the ship; instead of a reverse hike, you can comfortably stroll back into the village via a different route, passing many small vintners along the way.

Excursion(s) - “Let’s Go” vineyard hike
Excursion Price - $70

If you're up for a hike, join a group on a hike up through the vineyards. A stairway at the church will take you past the ancient cemetery and up to the hiking trail that leads through the vineyards planted with Riesling and Grüner Veltliner grapes. You'll enjoy expansive views over the river valley as you approach your resting point. An easy walk back to the ship; instead of a reverse hike, you can comfortably stroll back into the village via a different route, passing many small vintners along the way.


Day 4 - Engelhartszell, Passau, Vilshofen

Port - Vilshofen

A new day brings new experiences in the forest-lined district of Engelhartszell. Experience Germany’s great outdoors by biking along the Danube River. Arrive in the afternoon at the “City of Three Rivers,” Passau, where the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers join together, at one time bringing an influx of wealth and culture into the region.

Excursion(s) - “Let’s Go” scenic Bavarian river biking
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Passau walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

The skyline of Passau is dominated by two buildings that owe their existence to the prince-bishops who ruled the city until 1803: the great fortress looming on a hill above the three rivers, home to the bishops until the 17th century, and the green onion domes of St. Stephen’s Cathedral. As you walk through the cobblestone streets toward those green onion domes, you’ll realize that Passau retains the layout of the medieval town. However, many of the wooden medieval buildings burned to the ground in the 17th century, and the prince-bishops imported Italian artists to build a new cathedral and a grand new residence for the bishops themselves. As a result, these splendid structures aunt Italian baroque and rococo style and ornamentation, complete with opulent gilding and wonderful frescoes. Your guide will introduce you to some of the architectural highlights—the rococo stairways of the New Residence; the cathedral; and the Town Hall, which boasts a magnificent atrium adorned by large paintings by Ferdinand Wagner—and make sure you get a close-up view of the point where the three rivers meet: The waters of each one are a different color. Because it’s built on a peninsula between the Danube and the Inn, the city has flooded often over the centuries; you can see high-water marks on many buildings (2013 saw the worst flooding in 500 years). 

Excursion(s) - "Let's Go" hiking around Passau
Excursion Price - $70

Set off on a nice but strenuous hike up St. Georgsberg mountain to the highest spot of Passau, where the fortress Veste Oberhaus is located. Designed to be a symbol of military strength and aristocracy, the imposing building sits high on the hill facing the rest of Passau across the Danube River. Now it is home to the Oberhausmuseum, a youth hostel, a restaurant and an open-air theater.

We’ll have time to walk around to see the Oberhaus up close and, more importantly, enjoy the most picturesque views to be found anywhere in Passau, before hiking back down the hill. At the bottom, we’ll find the historic Old Town, where St. Stephen’s Cathedral is located. After a total of 2 hours hiking, we end our tour in front of the Cathedral, whose baroque white façade and aquamarine domes are an iconic fixture of Passau architecture.

Excursion(s) - Pedal Passau
Excursion Price - $70

Head out on a cycling excursion on the famous Danube Bike Trail, venturing through Passau, Engelhartszell and other fascinating locales. This flat pathway hugs the river and offers spectacular views of Germany’s lush scenery. The Danube Bike Trail is one of Europe's largest, following stretches of the Danube in Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.

Excursion(s) - Ilz River splash
Excursion Price - $70

Enjoy an afternoon on the water with the chance to try out rowing, canoeing or paddle-boarding on the Ilz River, nicknamed the “Black Pearl,” due to the moors and bogs at its river basin that give the water a mesmerizing black color. The Ilz is a paradise for kayakers and paddle boarders alike and allows people of all experience levels to have fun here.

Excursion(s) - Treasure hunt trek
Excursion Price - $70

Join a local geocaching guide on a unique discovery of Passau’s historical and hidden spots. Pay close attention to clues and hints as you make your way from one station to the next, uncovering important historical information about your current location. Each station also includes a special activity for kids.


Day 5 - Deggendorf, Straubing

Port - Straubing

Nestled between Regensburg and Passau sits a town surrounded by the foothills of the Bavarian Forest, Deggendorf. Journey deep into the alluring Bavarian Forest National Park, Germany’s first national park, and discover outdoor leisure at its best.

Excursion(s) - Bavarian Forest Adventure
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Into the woods
Excursion Price - $70

Day 6 - Regensburg

Port - Regensburg

The nearly 2,000-year-old history of Regensburg begins with a Roman fort in 90 AD, from which Regensburg grew into the large and prosperous trade center that it became in the last few centuries of the Medieval period. This long history has been excellently preserved through Regensburg’s iconic architecture—particularly its many Gothic and Romanesque churches and Patrician houses.

Excursion(s) - Regensburg walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

People have been describing Regensburg as “old and new” for a thousand years. A single structure perfectly illustrates this: Porta Praetoria, the gate built by the Romans during Marcus Aurelius’ reign. The gate and adjacent watchtower have been incorporated into a much newer building, but the plaster has been removed to reveal the ancient stones laid so long ago.

As you walk through the cobbled lanes of the UNESCO-designated Old Town, the city’s 2,000-year history is similarly revealed: the Stone Bridge that made Regensburg a 12th-century trading powerhouse, the Gothic town hall where the Imperial Diet met for three centuries, the 13th-century fortified patrician houses and the spectacular Cathedral of St. Peter, whose magnificent 14th-century stained-glass windows alone are worth your walk.

You’ll have free time to explore on your own. It’s very hard to get lost in Regensburg because the spires of the cathedral are visible all over town, so don’t hesitate to roam. The historic quarter not only boasts almost a thousand beautiful old buildings, but also many cozy pubs and some great shopping. The ship is docked conveniently close, so it’s easy to drop your treasures off and go back for more.

Excursion(s) - “From Hops Field to Beer Stein” farm visit
Excursion Price - $70

Hops vines grow up their strings in a field tower almost twice a person’s height. They’re grown for their flowers, which add a distinctive flavor to beer—but the fields they grow in add a distinctive flavor to the hops. You could call it terroir for beer, and you can delve into hops cultivation and hops brewing today. Travel through Bavaria’s Holledau region, the largest hops growing district in the world, and meet an enthusiastic ambassador of hops growing and beer making. She will give you a quick and lively history of hops in Germany—including Bavaria’s law governing the making of beer, which has specified since 1560 that the only ingredients permitted in beer are water, barley and hops—and lead you on a tour through the growing fields her family owns, followed by a craft beer tasting in the cozy barn turned beer hall. It’s a delicious way to get to know a fascinating aspect of the international farm-to-table movement.

Excursion(s) - Revved engines
Excursion Price - $70

Tour BMW’s state-of-the-art facility with an expert guide and see how their cars are produced from start to finish. Put on your safety goggles and factory coats and watch how massive conveyors lift the 3-series BMW up to be welded by computer-controlled robots. This tour offers a captivating look at the production of “the ultimate driving machine.”


Day 7 - Nuremberg

Port - Nuremberg

The archetypal medieval German city, Nuremberg was once the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire, housing many German kings in the Kaiserburg castle complex. Later, this city became the epicenter of the Nazi party. When the end of WWII left Nuremberg almost completely leveled, it was chosen to be the site of the war crimes tribunal—the Nuremberg Trials. Now, most of the city has been restored, including the old castle.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Excursion(s) - Nuremberg panoramic city tour
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Nuremberg city tour with WWII Rally Grounds and Documentation Center visits
Excursion Price - $70

Hitler considered Nuremberg the perfect expression of German culture (partly because of its significance in the Holy Roman Empire, which he called the First Reich), and so beginning in 1927, he chose to hold his massive rallies in the city. By 1933, his favorite architect, Albert Speer, had designed the vast Nazi Party Rally Grounds, where thousands upon thousands of Nazi troops saluted Hitler. (Leni Riefenstahl captured these events in her famous propaganda film Triumph of the Will.) Not all of Speer’s plans were executed, and some of his grandiose structures were bombed out of existence, but the remainder stand as vivid testimony to Hitler’s megalomania. A four-square-mile (10-square-kilometer) complex known as Zeppelin Fields contains parade grounds and a huge grandstand, the excavation site where a stadium for 400,000 people was begun—the hole is now filled with water—and the half-finished Congress Hall.

NOTE: The permanent exhibition at the Documentation Center will be closed until the fall of 2023. In its place, a special temporary exhibition may be available.

Excursion(s) - Nuremberg climbing forest
Excursion Price - $70

Day 8 - Nuremberg

Port - Nuremberg

Enjoy a day of leisure exploring beautiful and historic Nuremberg.


Day 9 - Bamberg

Port - Bamberg

Bamberg in its entirety is not only described as beautiful but has often been regarded as one of Germany’s most attractive settlements, with its ravishing architecture, intersecting canals and rivers, and charming stores and restaurants, all framed by rolling hills.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Excursion(s) - Bamberg walking tour with beer tasting
Excursion Price - $70

Now a pleasant city with a lively student population and a world-famous symphony orchestra, Bamberg was the center of economic and political life for a huge swath of Central Europe in the Middle Ages. Spared WWII bombing, the entire heart of historic Bamberg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The medieval layout of the city remains intact, along with 2,000 historic buildings; it is yours to explore today.

In the splendid late-Romanesque Imperial Cathedral you will find the only papal tomb in Germany, that of Pope Clement II (who was the bishop of Bamberg before he became pope), as well as the tomb of Emperor Henry II (who established the bishopric). Cross the cobblestone footbridge to the Old Town Hall, which is adorned with colorful frescoes, and ramble along the narrow lanes lined with picturesque half-timbered houses.

After the walking tour, we’ll treat you to a beer at a local restaurant to relax before setting off on your own to enjoy some free time in town before it’s time to return to the ship.

Excursion(s) - “Let’s Go” treetop hike
Excursion Price - $70

Venture into the Steigerwald Nature Park to experience the forest from a completely different perspective—high up in the treetops. A wooden pathway winds around the trees, then spirals upwards to culminate in a 41-meter tower.

Along the way you’ll pass a deer park, live camera feeds into birds’ nests, learning stations and a petting zoo. When you reach the top of the walkway, you’ll find yourself high above the forest, enjoying spectacular views of the countryside.


Day 10 - Volkach

Port - Volkach

Your day brings you to Volkach and the heart of the Franconian wine country. It’s a region full of overwhelming natural beauty, rooted communities, marvelous flavors and villages that have been making wine for countless generations. Explore the town and its surrounding countryside.

Excursion(s) - Heart of Franconian Wine Country “Village Day”
Excursion Price - $70

This picture-perfect region is cradled in the curve of the Main’s breathtaking horseshoe bend, wrapping itself around sprawling vineyards, rare wildflowers, countless fruit trees, verdant landscapes and quaint villages. There is a plethora of wonderful ways to explore here, and you’ll have the option to choose your favorite.

Perhaps you’d like to get acquainted with the village of Volkach, meeting local vintners and sampling their house wines along the way. Or maybe you’d rather take in panoramic views of the wine country before participating in a chocolate-paired wine tasting at the “Art of Chocolate” factory.

And if active exploration sounds more enticing, you can choose to bike past the many vineyards of Volkach on your trip to “Wine Island”, stopping for some refreshments before ending your tour with a nostalgic ferry ride. Alternatively, embark on a canoe ride through the Mainschleife nature reserve to experience the landscapes of wine country from a new angle.


Day 11 - Würzburg

Port - Würzburg

The opulent Würzburg Residence, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a true sense of the region’s history through the European Renaissance. It even contains the world’s largest ceiling fresco by Tiepolo. Visit the Residence and its carefully restored gardens or get outdoors and enjoy a scenic hike around Festung Marienberg, a prominent landmark that was previously home to a long line of prince-bishops.

Excursion(s) - “Let’s Go” hike to Festung Marienberg
Excursion Price - $70

Perched on a hilltop high above the city of Würzburg, Festung Marienberg is visible from seemingly every direction. Lace up your sneakers and wind your way up to this beloved landmark. As you make your way to the top, you’ll enjoy the scenery of the Main’s left bank and views of enchanting Würzburg below. It was here that the first church north of the Alps was built in 704 AD, followed by 13th-century fortifications and several additional structures. The fortress was expanded and renovated numerous times during the Renaissance and baroque periods, giving it its own unique flair.

Excursion(s) - Würzburg Residence visit with Court Gardens
Excursion Price - $70

This incredibly lavish 18th-century palace was created under the auspices of two Schönborn prince-bishops, Lothar Franz and Friedrich Carl, who brought enormous knowledge and passion, as well as a budget for the best, to the project. Over the course of 60 years, they fostered the creation of a 300-room palace that contains jaw-dropping baroque art. The magnificent grand staircase boasts the world’s largest ceiling fresco, painted by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Portions of the building were damaged by Allied bombing in 1945, but, fortunately, most of the historic furnishings had been stored off-site and key rooms were unharmed, so you can see the original—and matchless—artwork, gilding and statuary. Check out both the spectacular Hall of Mirrors and the imposing Imperial Hall, which boasts a large oval dome and 20 half-columns. Even the gardens have been restored, right down to the topiary fruit trees in the kitchen garden, which are re-creations of the trees grown there in the 18th century.

Note: Visitors may not take photos or videos or carry backpacks inside the Würzburg Residence.


Day 12 - Miltenberg

Port - Miltenberg

The perfect German town calls for a day full of quintessential German experiences. Resting on the left bank of the Main, Miltenberg is classically quaint with its charming squares, farmland, biking and pedestrian paths, impressive castles and one of Germany’s oldest inns.

Excursion(s) - Miltenberg walking tour with Brotzeit
Excursion Price - $70

Nestled between the Rhine and the mountains along its banks, this town has changed little since the 17th century. Explore its iconic half-timbered architecture as you roam Miltenberg with your local guide, taking some free time to shop. Along the way, we’ll stop at the Rathaus—or Town Hall—for a traditional Brotzeit snack and welcome drink.

When our time in Miltenberg ends, we’ll move on to Bürgstadt, a winegrowing community about an hour’s walk away. You’ll have the opportunity to either hop on a bus or join a nature walk to reach this town.


Day 13 - Rüdesheim

Port - Rüdesheim

Your floating hotel arrives in Rüdesheim, one of the most charming ports of call in the Rhine Valley. This city has a long history going back to Roman times and is famous for the Drosselgasse, a narrow, bustling lane of shops and wine bars, as well as its impressive Niederwald Monument.

Excursion(s) - Rüdesheim walk with local treats
Excursion Price - $70

The winemaking town of Rüdesheim boasts countless delights, especially along the enchanting Drosselgasse alley that runs through the city’s Old Town. Follow your guide through this quaint neighborhood and learn how the famous Rüdesheimer Coffee, a coffee infused with Asbach Uralt (a magnificent German brandy) and topped with whipped cream, is prepared. You’ll also visit a small chocolatier’s shop for a sample of their delicious sweets.

Excursion(s) - Rheinweinwelten visit - The best Rhine Rieslings
Excursion Price - $70

Enjoy a wine tasting at your leisure with a visit to Rheinweinwelten in Rüdesheim. This local treasure trove of wines is sure to impress, with 14 different wine caves to explore. This experience can be enjoyed at your own pace and is not guided. There is, however, ample literature and information in each room about every one of the 160 distinct wines. You’ll receive 10 tokens at the start, with which you can choose to sample whichever vintages appeal to you most. Prost!

Excursion(s) - "Let's Go" hike from Rüdesheim to Assmanshausen
Excursion Price - $70

This fun excursion combines several of the area’s attractions. Start by hopping into an aerial cable car and soaring above the vineyards to the Niederwald Monument, which looks out over the entire Rheingau wine region. From the heights above the river, you and your local expert will hike down through vineyards to the picturesque riverfront village of Assmanshausen (which is lauded for its red wine), where a bus will bring you back to the ship in Rüdesheim.

Note: The gondola to Niederwald Heights is covered but not heated. Cars are open on the sides, and it is recommended that you dress warmly.


Day 14 - Cologne

Port - Cologne

Today you’ll experience the many treasures of Cologne on a stroll that will take you to the Old Town, an area rich in history and architecture, featuring 12 Romanesque churches and stunning remnants of the town’s medieval past.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Excursion(s) - Cologne walking tour with Old Town visit
Excursion Price - $70

As you walk through the narrow lanes of the Old Town, you’ll find it hard to believe that more than 70 percent of the city was destroyed by bombs during WWII. Three medieval gates remain standing, as does the old city hall with its Renaissance façade. The famous 12 Romanesque churches were reconstructed from the rubble, and the cathedral, Cologne’s iconic landmark, rises magnificently in the city center. Though it was badly damaged in WWII, the great UNESCO-designated cathedral retains many of its original treasures—the relics of the Magi and other sacred figures, which inspired its building in the 12th century, the 14th-century stained-glass windows that were stored safely throughout the war and the beautifully painted choir stalls—though other treasures are displayed separately. Enter the awe-inspiring nave and explore on your own as you learn about the history of the cathedral and its art collections, especially the pieces surrounding the Shrine of the Magi.

NOTE: On Sundays and Catholic holidays, tours inside the cathedral are not allowed, but individual visits are still welcomed.


Day 15 - Amsterdam (Disembark)

Port - Amsterdam

Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for your flight home.

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26 Uniworld Travel Reviews & Ratings

96%
4.9 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 24
Great 2
Average 0
Disappointing 0
Terrible 0
Value
4.8
Guide
4.8
Activities
4.8
Lodging
4.9
Transportation
4.8
Meals
4.9

Rhine, Main & Danube Discovery (2021)

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Company Reviews

better the second time around?

5.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide4.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals5.0
This was our 6th Uniworld and 2nd time down part of the Danube.

local guides very good; better than last time. food remains excellent; lunch food choices in particular are better than before. service, in particular Dining room, remains excellent. servers really attempt to learn food and drink preferences. front desk service is excellent. small improvements in room (chocolate jar; audio box chargers in closet; closet hanger rods more like home than ship) appreciated.

the ship is starting to need updating; our shower stall needed to be re-grouted; deck might need to be refinished in areas. elevator never worked during cruise; 24 hr. coffee machine malfunctioned for 3 days. the itinerary itself isn't full of "must-sees" but has has sights and experiences that might be hard for you to do on your own with just a guidebook.

While cruise wasn't perfect, we would travel with Uniworld again; possibly even down the Danube a 3rd time, but on a newer ship.
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Pros, cons and tips

4.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide3.0
Activities3.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation3.0
Meals4.0
This is a review of the Uniworld China + Tibet + Yangtze tour in June, 2019, taken by my wife (80) and me (77). Since knowledge of a reviewer helps readers to judge the applicability to themselves: we are both former academics, normally spry and immersed in cultural, political, and healthful life activities, but we sometimes found the trip daunting, as discussed below. We resist aging, but not always with full success.

The tour had pluses and minuses.

The biggest minuses:
• My wife’s breathing difficulty in our 3-night stay in Lhasa, Tibet (she spent the whole time breathing oxygen and couldn't go on any outings)
• The (inevitable) problem of touring a totalitarian country where citizens are intimidated from talking honestly about the full scope of their lives

The biggest pluses:
• Our guide, Kevin, who was outstandingly attentive, helpful, supportive and patient. He went out of his way to help in difficult situations (like my wife’s breathing problems in Lhasa).
• We were also quite appreciative of Tiger’s brief stint with us.
• With a few exceptions, our baggage was always handled by others. And the exceptions weren’t overwhelming. Apparently for a group, the weight of any individual bag just gets averaged in with all the other group bags being checked. (Some travelers handled their own carry-ons.)

Most of the other people on the tour were quite amiable and unassuming—not always the case when you travel with people whose financial position has to be pretty good to afford this kind of trip (that financial position too often drives unwarranted expectations of privilege and reverence [if that’s not redundant…]).

The accommodations and included breakfasts (and many other meals) were luxurious, though we ourselves didn’t need them to be THAT nice (in this we’re probably exceptions from other travelers—and in this case, a number of our co-tourists had taken multiple Uniworld tours, so they knew and liked what they'd be getting); indeed, we had to learn to stop tanking up at breakfast just because so many goodies were offered, buffet-style. Had we realized those luxuries were part of what we were paying for (and in retrospect we SHOULD have realized), we might have taken a different, cheaper tour. Ironically, what most drew us to the Uniworld trip were the chance to visit Tibet and the expectation that at such a high cost we’d always be getting outstanding, highly informed guides (which wasn’t always the case; as retired academics, we’re unusually demanding in the critical analysis of what we want to hear).

GENERAL NOTES:

We spent several days on our own before the tour (in Beijing) and at its end (in Shanghai). These were quite valuable to us. Perhaps because of time, the Uniworld tour took us to few museums. We are museum junkies, and visited several during our non-tour times. Among other things, Beijing has a terrific national museum, an interesting (partly because of its political subtext) museum about women and children, and an extensive arts district. Shanghai has its own major museum and a tour of the city’s past relationship with Judaism that gives you a more general sense of the troubling antithesis of glitzy life highlighted elsewhere.

I’ve traveled to many parts of the world, and I’ve always been able to learn at least local alphabets and some minimal language skills. China is the first place I’ve gone where I could do none of the first and only a few words (probably wrongly intoned) of the latter. This was extremely frustrating, especially when we toured on our own. Few people outside the major international emporia (I never quite got used to how many upscale stores were in all places we visited) speak English (why should they?). The one ameliorating factor was that many people (especially store employees) had phone apps that did good to excellent translations between spoken English and spoken Chinese. You should have one for your own use.

In major cities, signs quite often include English, so that you can at least know where to shop and what you're looking at. Prices (which you can often negotiate) are typically typed into a calculator.

Perhaps even more than in the West, people are glued to smart phones. Pretty much everyone, it seems, uses an app that includes texts, phone use, and a payment facility, so that people seem to may carry little or no cash or credit cards. No one seems to care—or maybe everyone is just resigned to—that the government can monitor this app and know a ton of stuff about you. As a foreigner, however, you are unlikely to be able to use this app because you need to have a compatible bank account (probably meaning from a Chinese bank).

No matter how you travel in China, you'll see the amazing efforts to accommodate the expansion cities, so that a “town” of which you've never heard might have a million or more people. On the tour, you'll see almost only architectural and shop glitz that the government and cities bask in. You might get very brief glimpses of poverty.

While on the one hand the Chinese government talks a good game and takes some important steps vis-à-vis the climate crisis, on the other hand they still use an enormous amount of fossil fuel for electricity generation. I was also struck—dismayed—by the fact that from all appearances, people only drink bottled water (Westerners are warned against tap water, but I don’t know if local people build up an immuinity to its problems). Especially in warm weather, I can only guess at the billions of single-use plastic bottles that are used every day by the population of 1.4 billion (plus large numbers of visitors). On rare occasions, like at an airport, you might see a place to refill a water bottle (I assume that water is safe).

Please note that in criticisms like the previous paragraph, I do not intend a holier-than-thou American attitude. I am even more critical of what our government does—or more importantly, doesn’t—do vis-à-vis the climate crisis.

THE PEOPLE

Almost everyone was pleasant and upbeat. We mostly moved among middle- (and presumably upper-)class people; we encountered many others, but they were kind of in the background (just as in capitalist countries), and while we made it a point to notice their existence, we had no meaningful interactions with them.

The westernization of outward behavior was almost palpable. My wife had visited 10 years ago and regularly commented on the difference. My impression is that the young (teen-agers, young adults) are especially into western fashion and culture—and to what to me was a surprising extent, seemed to be able to afford indulging that taste.

For what it’s worth, my observation was that people are quite materialistic, focus their lives on that, and increasingly able to afford to indulge themselves. Outwardly, at least, they have little concern with the strictures of their government. Tiananmen Square seems to be in the distant past. Treatment of Moslems and Uighurs (not unlike our current treatment of immigrants and Moslems or our like history of racial and ethnic conflicts) was far away. So far as I could tell, people like Americans (though we’re also bizarre outsiders—there are occasional instances of Chinese people, especially ones who live far from the cities we visited, walking up to a foreigner and asking to take a photo together (this happened to me on the Great Wall, with some pretty young guys).

SECURITY

This abounds. You need to carry your passport everywhere. You'll encounter frequent security checks where you have to put whatever you're carrying through a scanner and show official IDs. In Lhasa, these checks were even present as you wove your way through street markets.

At every airport check-in, you not only go through a security scanner, but you then step up on s short stool so that someone with a hand scanner can go over every inch of your body. (I have sometimes wondered whether proliferation of security folk, including regular police, in nations like this is a clever device for combining meaningful security with full employment.)

The government must have an incredible volume of disk space and incredibly fast computer programs to be able quickly to access information about any given citizen or visitor. Check-in at airports always includes a live photo of you. I’m sure if anyone in the security services had wanted to track me down at any time, it wouldn't have taken more than a few seconds. (For each accommodation where you stay, you have to register with the police. Hotels typically do that for you.)

IN-COUNTRY TRAVEL

We had 4 in-country flights (part of the reason for what Uniworld charges), and much as we wanted to visit the places to which we flew, the time and effort involved in getting from to shuttle bus (then sometimes a long walk) to hotel to airport to check-in to security to boarding to flying to disembarking to shuttle bus to the next hotel became overwhelming.

The tour included 3 nights in a luxury boat on the Yangtze River. This was quite pleasant and included a night’s visit to a show (I don’t remember exactly which one, but when on our own my wife and I went to a couple of shows in Beijing—well worth it even if they're not something to your normal taste). Here, we had some down time. At our ages, we needed more of that. I got sick while on the boat and got what seemed like pretty good medical care.

(By American standards, medicals for my wife in Lhasa and for me on the Yangtze boat were low but not miniscule.)

By American standards, taxis are cheap. They were pretty easy to find in Beijing. (The “universal” app includes signups with services like Uber.) But in Shanghai, they were extremely rare, and we had to get help from strangers to order one. As you would expect, this is especially hard when it’s raining and you're a very long walk from your hotel. Among maybe a dozen or two cab rides during our entire stay, we had two bad experiences with cabbies; I advise photographing the driver’s information and the meter area. I found that this significantly mitigated the problems.

We took the metro in Beijing. After brief adjustment, it was very easy to use. The main difficulty is that stations are far apart, so on (say) a rainy night, you will still need an umbrella and endurance. Shanghai seems to have an equivalent subway system, but we never used it there.

LHASA

Part of the altitude problem my wife (and a few of our fellow travellers) had appears to be the flight’s forcing a lack of transition from sea level to an altitude over 2 miles. (On the other hand, a slower, staged transfer probably would have added cost to an already expensive trip—and maybe loss of a day’s touring.) Especially for older folk, however, I think this is a relevant concern.

I don’t know why, but although I could feel very mild pressure in my breathing, I was fine for the entire Lhasa visit. I had a different disappointment (perhaps idiosyncratic to myself, an academic and non-religious person): if I remember correctly, our entire stay involved visiting Tibetan religious locations. I quite support SOME such visits—religious history is central to human existence—but I would have liked to see aspects of other Tibetan cultural history.

Because of Beijing political issues with Tibet, filing out your Chinese visa involves the charade of not mentioning you're going there (if you do mention it, your visa apparently will be denied).

And a warning re Lhasa (and at least the Great Wall): there can invite lots of climbing, and a number of us, especially some of the older people (even when altitude wasn’t an issue), chose to climb minimally (just enough to get a sense of where steps were going and what the resulting view would be). Kevin and other guides were totally understanding—indeed, we were offered climbing options.
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Highly recommend

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Me and Nena are in cruise business more than 38 years and booked so many river cruises in Europe and charter ships in Russia, India, Egypt and Ukraine. Uniworld offer excellent cruise and we highly recommend this great company.
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Fantastic

4.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide4.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
Fantastic cruising the Nile on MS River Tosca, spacious rooms, super crew, delicious meals, fantastic service, awesome waiters, knowledgeable tour guide Marwa! Would love to go back!
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Professioal, friendly and unforgetable experience for the cruise

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
The facility on ship was good. Staff servicing us were very professionally good. For the meals it was indeed very nice especially the kitchen was able to provide some Asian dishes that is fantastically great.
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Amazing time, Amazing ship

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I had never been on a river cruise before and did not know what to expect. After this cruise, I was ready to sail right back with Uniworld. Everything on the ship, from the food and amenities, to the excursions and especially the crew, made the week one of the best I've had.
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Details

Ship Name

River Princess

Deck & Cabin Plans

River Princess


Trip ID#:

Uniworld-262

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