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Ultimate European Journey (2021) tour
Amsterdam Bamberg Ultimate European Journey (2021) Trip

Ultimate European Journey (2021)

Uniworld
4.9 . Excellent
96%
Travel Style: A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
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*)
25 days
From: $ 10,999 $ 440 / day
Checking price

Overview

Short Description

Prepare for the cruise of a lifetime as you travel the length of Europe through eight nations, exploring wonders of the Old World and the New, the East and the West.

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
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
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 Bucharest

Itinerary

2019 version

Amsterdam to Bucharest


Day 1 - Amsterdam (Embark)

Port - Amsterdam

Arrive at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.


Day 2 - Amsterdam

Port - Amsterdam

Enjoy the luxury of a full day in the “Venice of the North,” starting with a delightful tour of the Van Gogh Museum. Afterwards, explore the city with a canal ride or on foot with a local expert.

Excursion(s) - Amsterdam Canal and famous Rijksmuseum
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Van Gogh Museum visit
Excursion Price - $70

The doors open early to give you a crowd-free viewing of an extraordinary collection. A curator will provide an expert introduction, then you can view the collection at your leisure. You’ll also have a chance to explore the new all-encompassing 3-D “Meet Vincent van Gogh Experience,” which uses innovative and interactive techniques to tell the artist’s life story like never before. Wander with Vincent from the rural Netherlands to the streets of Paris. Pull up a seat at The Potato Eaters’ table or at Café Le Tambourin in Montmartre. Investigate the details of Van Gogh’s paintings using a microscope and step into the life-sized Yellow House and engage with a dramatic shadow play. It’s a wonderful way to savor Vincent’s legacy and contemplate his role as an enduring source of inspiration.

Excursion(s) - Amsterdam Canal cruise
Excursion Price - $70

It’s called the “Venice of the North” for a reason: Canals crisscross the heart of the old city, and bridges link some 90 islands. As the principal city in a newly independent Holland, Amsterdam was a boom town in the early 17th century, rapidly outgrowing its medieval walls. The city’s fathers responded by demolishing most of the old city and building an entirely new one, creating Europe’s first planned city. That “new” district is now 400 years old, and as you glide along the main canals, you’ll pass stately merchants’ houses built centuries ago (some of them are now house museums you can visit on your own). But the canals are not merely scenic; they are essential thoroughfares—people take water buses to work and live in houseboats along the banks—so a canal cruise also gives you a look at the busy modern city. 


Day 3 - Cologne

Port - Cologne

Enjoy a delightful tour of Cologne’s Old Town, where three medieval gates remain standing, as does the old city hall with its stunning Renaissance façade. Wander through the historical center and take in its charming atmosphere and narrow alleyways flanked by old houses. No matter how you choose to explore Old Town, you’ll also have ample free time to explore the city on your own.

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

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

Follow your guide around some of the most popular sites of Cologne, the largest city on the Rhine. You’ll pass the old fish market, City Hall with its Renaissance façade and the old Jewish mikvah (a bath used for ritual cleansing).

Meander through the narrow, cobbled lanes of Old Town, lined with traditional houses in every color and a plethora of restaurants and pubs. One of the city’s 12 Romanesque churches provides a castle-like backdrop to this quaint, riverside quarter of Cologne.

Your local expert will take you all the way to the Domplatte, the square where you’ll find the Cologne Cathedral. Should you wish, you can head inside this Gothic building on your own to see the Shrine of the Magi and the beautiful stained-glass windows. Otherwise, try asking your guide for tips on what to explore. Whatever your interests, our local expert knows all the best spots in town!


Day 4 - Rüdesheim

Port - Rüdesheim

Experience the most spectacular scenery on the Rhine this morning as you cruise past the famous Middle Rhine Valley. Later, experience Germany’s fabled Rheingau in one of two ways today. Take in spectacular views of the region’s famous vineyards from the perspective of an aerial cable car, or venture within an atmospheric medieval monastery and taste the Rieslings made on site. Like many cities along the Rhine, Rüdesheim has a lengthy history that stretches back to Roman times. These days, the town is best known for its narrow avenue of shops and wine bars called the Drosselgasse and its impressive Niederwald Monument.

Excursion(s) - Rüdesheim wine village and panoramas of Niederwald Monument
Excursion Price - $70

The huge statue of Germania atop the hill above Rüdesheim is visible for miles. Erected by Wilhelm I to commemorate the unification of Germany following the Franco-Prussian War in 1877, the monument may perfectly embody 19th-century imperial grandiosity—but the ride to and from it is the real point of your expedition. Hop aboard an aerial cable car and begin your ascent to Niederwald Heights. You'll get a great view of the town and the entire Rheingau wine-growing region as you climb high into the air, with the precipitous vineyards falling away below you and spectacular views of the Rhine valley spreading into the distance. Don't worry if you find there are far too many glorious things to see as you ascend; anything you miss while going up, you'll have a chance to catch coming back down. Explore the historic Niederwald Monument, then head back down into Rüdesheim, where you can enjoy some free time.

Excursion(s) - Abbey Eberbach medieval monastery tour with Riesling tasting
Excursion Price - $70

Kloster Eberbach is a former Cistercian monastery built in the Romanesque and early Gothic style, and is considered one of the most significant architectural sites in the region. In fact, some of the interior scenes of the 1986 movie The Name of the Rose—based on the best-selling novel by Umberto Eco—were filmed here. You’ll have a guided tour of the monastery followed by a tasting of locally grown Rieslings.


Day 5 - Frankfurt (Heidelberg)

Port - Frankfurt

Vibrant Frankfurt, often referred to as the “Mainhattan” of Europe, boasts world-class museums, soaring skyscrapers, cozy wine taverns and lovely parks. Choose a brief tour that gives you an overview of this major European financial and trade center. Alternatively, visit romantic Heidelberg and its Renaissance castle.

Excursion(s) - Frankfurt walking tour with local treats
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Heidelberg Castle visit
Excursion Price - $70

Walk up a cobblestone incline to Heidelberg Castle, where you’ll have a guided tour of the courtyard and the Heidelberg Tun—the world’s largest wine barrel. The views from the hilltop castle ruins, which greatly inspired writers and artists of the Romantic era, are simply spectacular. Later, enjoy a leisurely lunch and explore the culinary treasures and charming shops in town before boarding the coach back to your ship.

Note: lunch is not included with this excursion.


Day 6 - Wertheim

Port - Wertheim

After today, you may never eat a pretzel again without thinking of the town of Wertheim. You’ll meet one of Germany’s best pretzel makers, as well as the owner of a historic wine estate. If you’re more in the mood for a scenic bike ride, you are welcome to do that instead.

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

This region of Bavaria is known for its amber-colored beer, spicy bratwurst, traditional soft pretzels and unique wine bottles with short necks and round bodies—and you’ll encounter several of these local specialties today. First, though, you get to see a little of Wertheim itself. Despite centuries of flooding, a great deal of the Old Town remains. The Pointed Tower, used as a jail for drunkards and shrews in the 13th century, leans toward its neighbors, not from age but because flood waters have undermined it. It’s not the only architectural wonder you’ll see on your tour. You may choose to spend some leisure time in the village or head straight to nearby Kreuzwertheim, a wine-growing area, for a hike through the vineyards—your efforts will be rewarded with a glass of sparkling wine and a wonderful view of the Main River valley. Whichever option you select, your next stop is a historic winery that produces Franconian wines. Its charming sandstone architecture, vaulted cellars and covered courtyard make for a delightful afternoon. You’ve probably tasted some yummy soft pretzels on your trip already, but these are special: Watch a fifth-generation baker make some for you and discover for yourself why he supplies some of Berlin’s top hotels. Then meet the winery’s winemaker, who will present a special wine tasting.

Excursion(s) - “Let's Go” Wertheim bicycle tour
Excursion Price - $70

Get out and about on one of the finest and most popular cycling routes in Germany, the bike path along the Main. Starting in Wertheim, a fairytale town with half-timbered homes and quirky cobblestone lanes, nestled amidst beautiful mountain scenery. You can pedal your way along flat stretches of the riverside path, passing red sandstone quarries, farms, verdant fields and meadows, and charming villages. Then you'll bike back to Wertheim, where you can explore this enchanting medieval town with its historic castle and town center, or you can visit a nearby wine estate for some well-deserved wine tasting.


Day 7 - Würzburg

Port - Würzburg

Your ship will dock in the charming Franconian town of Würzburg, where you can visit the extraordinary Würzburg Residence, one of the most opulent baroque palaces in Europe.

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 8 - Cruising the Main River, Kitzingen (Rothenburg)

Port - Kitzingen

Step into a fairytale version of the Middle Ages in Rothenburg and visit a medieval castle that’s been described as a miniature Versailles. Spend a relaxing day onboard as your ship wends its way along the Main River between Würzburg and Bamberg. It’s something of a truism to say that this route takes you from wine to beer, and you’ll see the transition as you sail past the vineyard-covered slopes around Würzburg toward Bavaria’s famous beer-brewing center, Bamberg. Along the way, you’ll pass delightful little villages and romantic castle ruins, drift under lovely old bridges, and have plenty of time to observe the fascinating variety of vessels plying the river, from heavily loaded barges to jaunty little pleasure craft.

Excursion(s) - Fairytale Rothenburg
Excursion Price - $70

Step into a fairytale version of the Middle Ages in Rothenburg with its great stone walls surrounding the medieval core, linking towers, bastions, and parapets. Narrow cobblestone lanes will lead you past the charming old monastery, Germany’s oldest half-timbered houses, and splendid fountains before winding your way to the town’s perfectly Medieval Market Square, a hotspot for locals and guests alike. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see magnificent Town Hall (which seamlessly blends together Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture), spirited dance performances and on special occasions—knights pulling horses through the city in a wonderful spectacle. Savor a taste of the beloved Bratwurst, a type of German sausage made from veal, beef, or pork. Take some time to explore the town and have lunch on your own after your tour. This afternoon, you’ll have a chance to explore or shop on your own.


Day 9 - Bamberg

Port - Bamberg

Your floating boutique hotel takes you to Bamberg today, a well-preserved town that offers a fascinating glimpse of medieval times. Explore the city on foot or opt to head deeper into the Franconian countryside to experience an authentic slice of rural life—including a tractor ride. Like Rome, the city is built on seven hills—but in Bamberg, a church tops each one.

You’ll spend the rest of the day on the peaceful Main River, cruising past quiet Franconian hamlets and picturesque countryside. It’s the perfect time to indulge in the many comforts of your luxury ship while watching some of Europe’s loveliest scenery glide by.

Excursion(s) - Bamberg walking tour
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). Near it is the magnificent Old Palace, the late-Gothic imperial residence (if you saw the 2011 3-D version of The Three Musketeers, you’ll recognize it immediately), which sits across from the New Residence, where the 17th-century prince-bishops lived, separated by a lovely rose garden. 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.

Excursion(s) - Franconian “Village Day”
Excursion Price - $70

If you’re interested in getting to know more about the landscape and local farming techniques in the beautiful Steigerwald region, this visit to a Franconian village is perfect for you. Meet a local farmer who is determined to make sure that his way of life continues for future generations; he’s dedicated to restoring the natural environment around him and making sure that school kids know more about where their food comes from. Join him as he introduces his village to you: the typical farmhouses and the crops, the hardships of the life as well as the pleasures of living among the vineyards and forests. Take a tractor ride over the rolling hills to a small-scale vintner’s where you can sample the wine they make strictly for home consumption.


Day 10 - Nuremberg, Cruising the Main-Danube Canal

Port - Nuremberg

Head up to the top deck or find a seat with a good view—you won’t want to miss seeing the ship navigate its way through a marvel of modern engineering, the Main-Danube Canal. A formidable set of locks, 16 in all, lifts your ship to the crest of the European “continental divide.” Arrive in the archetypal medieval German city of Nuremberg. Nuremberg is justifiably famous for its gingerbread and pocket watches, and it was also the site of some key moments in 20th-century history. You’ll choose between two memorable ways of exploring this exceptional city. You can join a panoramic tour of the city, or you can accompany a local expert to the city’s most important WWII sites, including the enormous Nazi Party Rally Grounds—the actual site of the Nazi Party rallies.

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.

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 11 - Regensburg

Port - Regensburg

Today in Regensburg, you can travel through time or get a crash course in making craft beer, then watch high-tech robots assemble the Ultimate Driving Machine. Regensburg is a friendly town with quaint cobblestone streets, historic Roman ruins and a medieval city center. The remnants of Regensburg’s golden age are still on display, but don’t let its illustrious history fool you into thinking the town’s best days are all in the past.

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) - BMW factory visit
Excursion Price - $70

Here is your opportunity to see German engineering, famous the world over, in operation as you tour the state-of-the-art BMW factory on the outskirts of Regensburg. About a thousand cars a day roll off the assembly line here, many of them in the BMW 3 series. You’ll see various stages of the process, from rolls of sheet metal being stamped out into body parts to watching elements of the car being robotically assembled. Follow an already assembled car into the finishing department to see it painted, polished and have the final touch applied—the BMW roundel.

Note: For safety reasons, BMW does not allow those with pacemakers or insulin pumps to participate in factory tours. The plant is closed on Sundays and holidays, so no visit is possible if the tour lands on those days.

NOTE: If the tour lands on a day when the BMW factory is closed, we will visit the Museum of Historical Maybach Vehicles instead.


Day 12 - Passau

Port - Passau

Located at the confluence of three rivers—the Danube, Inn and Ilz— Passau is well known for its ornate baroque cathedral. Today, the city is unusually well preserved, having been spared the brunt of Allied bombing during WWII, as you’ll see on your walking tour.

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. Stephan’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 flaunt 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” bicycle ride along the Inn River
Excursion Price - $70

The Inn River rises in the Alps, near Innsbruck (hence the name of the famous Swiss ski resort) and flows through three nations (Switzerland, Austria and Germany) on its way to Passau, where it joins the Danube. While the Danube bike path may be Europe’s best-known route for bicyclists, the Inn River bike path, which follows the river from Innsbruck to Passau, has plenty of fans. The route through the Inn River valley outside Passau is an especially attractive stretch, with great views of the lovely countryside, picturesque villages and the sparkling clear river itself. Your guide will make sure you know the local traffic and safety rules before you and your group set out along the partly flat and paved path. You’ll be traveling on both sides of the river, crossing between Germany and Austria as you cross the Inn, and your journey will include a comfort stop before returning to the ship. All in all, it’s an idyllic way to enjoy the scenery and get some exercise at the same time.


Day 13 - Weissenkirchen (Melk)

Port - Weissenkirchen

Named for its white church, Weissenkirchen may very well be the prettiest village in the Wachau Valley. A local expert will show you around and introduce you to some regional delicacies, including a wine tasting. Prefer to go for baroque? Visit the 900-year-old Melk Abbey and its extraordinarily opulent library. Later, you can stretch your legs with a vineyard hike.

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. Later, sample some Wachau wines at a local winery where your guide will share various details about why these extraordinary wines are so unique.

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). 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 darkness to light and demonstrating the link he claimed to the original Roman Empire.

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

Vienna is a cultural treasure trove revered for its art and music (and sinfully rich pastries). Experience the City of Waltzes with your choice of excursions. Begin your day with an itinerary highlight—our “Morning with the Masters” at the Vienna Art History Museum. Then, you can choose between two different guided tours: an Imperial city highlights tour or an Imperial Crypt of the Habsburgs walking tour.

A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Excursion(s) - “Morning with the Masters” at the Vienna Art History Museum
Excursion Price - $70

The Habsburgs assembled an astonishing collection of artistic treasures over the centuries, which formed the basis for the works now on display at the Vienna Art History Museum (Kunsthistorisches). The doors open early especially for you as you join an art historian for a tour of some of the masterpieces gathered here: View a unique group of works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Vermeer’s Allegory of Painting, Raphael’s Madonna in the Meadow, and portraits by Rembrandt, Velazquez, Rubens, Titian, Tintoretto and Van Eyck, among others, in the Picture Gallery. Then move onto the Kunstkammer galleries, where you can see Benvenuto Cellini’s legendary salt cellar (the only gold sculpture he created that has survived to the present day) and hear its remarkable story. Your tour ends in the magnificent Cupola Hall, perhaps the architectural highlight of the splendid building.

Excursion(s) - Vienna - Imperial city highlights
Excursion Price - $70

Ring Street, the great horseshoe-shaped boulevard lined with many of the city’s major landmarks—Parliament, City Hall, the Vienna State Opera, glorious palaces and museums—is a mere 150 years old, practically an infant for a city of Vienna’s age. It replaced the walls and fortifications that had protected the city for centuries. Its construction was a testament to confidence, forward-thinking and grand urban planning, and it resulted in a 50-year building spree. You’ll pass most of these opulent landmarks on your way to the older section of the city, the area the walls once enclosed.

Later, you’ll walk along Kärntner Street, the celebrated pedestrian boulevard that links the State Opera with St. Stephen’s Cathedral, past the elegant shops on the Graben and the Kohlmarkt. The neighborhood offers a lively combination of historic architecture, street performances, shoppers’ delights and true Viennese atmosphere. 

Excursion(s) - Imperial Crypt of the Habsburgs walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

Day 15 - Budapest

Port - Budapest

Called the “Queen of the Danube,” in part because of the way the city hugs the banks of the river, Budapest is an enchanting city that vibrantly mixes East and West, medieval and modern. Made up of two parts— Buda (the hills) and Pest (the flatlands)—and divided by the Danube, Hungary’s capital presents an array of architectural styles that reveal its long and varied history. You’ll have two enticing ways to experience the city—a panoramic guided tour aboard a motorcoach with a visit to the Parliament, or discover the Budapest that locals love on a special walking tour of the city’s most important landmarks.

Excursion(s) - Budapest panoramic highlights with Parliament visit
Excursion Price - $70

This panoramic tour is a wonderful way to get an overview of the city if you have never been here before. It will carry you from Heroes’ Square, created in 1896 to honor the thousand-year anniversary of Hungary’s founding and its greatest historical figures, past some of the city’s most striking architectural sights—Dohány Street Synagogue, the Hungarian National Museum, the state opera house and St. Stephen’s Basilica—and on to your next destination: the truly stunning Parliament Building, which you can explore inside and out. Today's excursion also takes you to the top of the 771 ft. high Gellért Hill, which is capped by the spectacular Citadella, where you can enjoy gorgeous views of Budapest and the Danube below.

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

One of the best ways to get to know Budapest is through its cuisine, in no small part because many of its unique culinary treats can be found inside famous architectural sites and other must-see hotspots.

Today we’ll start off at the Jewish District where we’ll visit the Klauzál Square Market Hall, a food bazaar that has been running on the grounds of a burned-down theater since 1897. Here you’ll try specialty meats before heading to a ruin pub. We’ll grab a beer and some langos, a Hungarian fried bread snack, and take in the eclectic atmosphere. Our last stop is the Great Market Hall, the largest in the city, where you’ll enjoy some delicious strudel for a sweet end to your tour.


Day 16 - Budapest

Port - Budapest

Other passengers are heading home today, but you are only halfway through your marvelous holiday. Today you are invited to enjoy a full-day visit to Hungary's Eger wine region for some lunch and, of course, wine tasting.

Excursion(s) - Full-day Eger wine country with lunch and wine tasting
Excursion Price - $70

Day 17 - Budapest

Port - Budapest

Located on opposite sides of the Danube, Buda and Pest each have their own distinctive character and allure. Explore this dynamic and multifaceted city with your choice of excursions—you can see it from a local’s perspective on our walking tour, cover more ground with a panoramic tour or “Let’s Go” with a guided bike ride. Vibrant Budapest, Hungary’s capital, offers an enchanting combination of East and West.

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

Excursion(s) - Budapest Communist Tour
Excursion Price - $70

Following World War II, Hungary spent 40 years as the Soviet-backed Hungarian People’s Republic, a fascist regime that was massively unpopular for its oppressive politics, brutal secret police force (the ÁVH) and declining economic conditions. An uprising in 1956 failed to eradicate the Soviet-backed government, but did eventually result in more liberal policies. The Hungarian People’s Republic finally ended with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989.

Step into the past for a tour of this fraught history, beginning at the House of Terror. Housed in the former headquarters of the dreaded ÁVH secret police, this museum focuses on the atrocities of Soviet-era Hungary in a permanent exhibition called Double Occupation. You’ll learn about the events leading up to the 1956 uprising and develop a deep understanding of the country’s complex political background.

Back on the coach, you’ll see Heroes’ Square, designed in 1896 to commemorate the millennium anniversary of the ancestral conquest of the Carpathian Basin, which would later become modern-day Hungary. Your last stop of the tour will be Gellért Hill for spectacular views over Budapest, where you’ll see Hungary’s own Statue of Liberty. Originally erected as a monument to the Soviet “liberation” of Hungary from Nazi occupation, the statue’s inscription was later altered to celebrate Hungarian independence, freedom and prosperity without mention of Soviet intervention.

Excursion(s) - Budapest panoramic highlights with synagogue visit
Excursion Price - $70

Start your tour with a drive down the picture-worthy Andrássy Avenue. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a masterpiece of Neo-Renaissance architecture and city planning. In addition to the many beautiful museums, palaces, and other public buildings lining its sidewalks, this street is also among the most popular in Budapest for shopping and dining. Marvel at such sites as Heroes’ Square, Franz Liszt Memorial House, House of Terror, the Széchenyi Baths, City Park and, of course, the Castle District.

Your coach will head into Budapest’s former Jewish quarter. Despite being one of the smallest districts in Budapest, it is still one of the liveliest, with a dense population and a plethora of bars, coffee shops and street food stands. You’ll see the area’s unique streets and hidden courtyards before exiting the coach at Dohány Street Synagogue.

Dohány Street Synagogue, also known as Central Synagogue or the Great Synagogue, is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second-largest in the world. It’s gilded onion domes and red-striped facade make it one of the most interesting buildings in Budapest. The interior is even more ornate, with intricately designed ceilings and a combined floor and gallery space that can accommodate thousands of worshippers.


Day 18 - Mohács, Batina (Osijek), Vukovar

Port - Batina

Welcome to Croatia! This ancient country, which has made a remarkable recovery from a brutal civil war, is noted for its beautiful countryside and thriving folk traditions, as well as simple, delicious local rustic food.

Excursion(s) - Vucedol Culture Museum and lunch at a family winery
Excursion Price - $70

From Batina you’ll head to Osijek, where you’ll visit Tvrda, a military and civil complex begun in 1687 by the Habsburgs after they took the region back from the Ottomans. You’ll also learn something of Osijek’s long history—which dates back to Roman times—and stop by the Church of the Holy Cross, built by the Franciscans after the Ottomans left.

Later, you’ll visit the Vucedol Museum. The basic idea behind the concept of this unique museum was integration into the terrain—the entire structure is designed to be mostly buried in the ground and only the façade is open to the landscape. Its shape, as serpentine, follows terrain, and on whose green roof you can reach the archaeological sites over the museum. Along the path, you’ll encounter the various Vučedol culture archaeological findings that have been discovered to date, which showcase the daily life and customs during a turbulent time of the immigration of the first Indo-Europeans and their relationship with the natives, the blending of material cultures and religions. Following your time at the museum, enjoy lunch at the Goldschmidt winery.

Next, you're off to Vukovar, whose bullet-riddled water tower stands as a reminder of the bitter Croatian War of Independence, fought between 1991 and 1995, when Croatia sought to break away from Yugoslavia. Thousands died during the siege of Vukovar, which was heavily damaged. As you take a short walk through Vukovar, you will see lasting signs of the conflict, but you will also see a revitalized community, determined to rebuild.

Excursion(s) - Home-hosted lunch with Karanac Craft Museum visit
Excursion Price - $70

Visit the idyllic, countryside town of Karanac, known as an “Ethno Village” for how authentically it preserves Serbian tradition through its architecture, customs and cuisine. Karanac is located in the heart of the Baranja region, over 12 miles from the nearest city, Osijek. In 2016, it was awarded as the best rural destination in Croatia.

Today we’ll join a local family for lunch. They’ll invite you to see their home and garden before its time to re-board our bus and meet the ship in Vukovar.


Day 19 - Belgrade

Port - Belgrade

Belgrade, the modern-day capital of Serbia, is one of Europe’s oldest cities, dating back some 7,000 years. Signs of its tumultuous history are visible everywhere, juxtaposed with the city’s vibrant modern-day present.

Excursion(s) - Belgrade city tour with visit to the Royal Grounds of Karadjordjevic Dynasty Palace
Excursion Price - $70

As a motorcoach carries you through the city, you’ll see a mix of architectural styles that reveal the city’s past, ranging from Gothic, Ottoman, baroque and art nouveau to utilitarian Communist apartment blocks and modern high-rises. While Belgrade has been no stranger to political upheaval, the 19th-century Residence of Princess Ljubica and serene old residential streets speak of calmer days, as do the bustling present-day café-lined boulevards. You’ll pass the tomb and memorial museum of Josip Broz Tito, which is located at the site of Tito’s former residence in Belgrade’s affluent Dedinje neighborhood, and visit Kalemegdan Fortress, high on a hill above the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers.

Ancient Romans built the first fortress here, and successive conquerors and defenders—Slavs, Byzantines, Ottomans, Habsburgs—continued to build and destroy fortifications on this site for another 1,500 years. Walk along the old stone walls, passing monuments and memorials (some will surprise you—poets and composers are honored here as well as military actions), for a sense of Serbia’s distant and more recent history. It’s not the only intriguing historical sight you’ll see today, however. You will also visit the Karadjordjevic Dynasty Palace and sip a glass of sparkling Serbian wine as you tour a compound of palaces built in the 1920s and 1930s. Serbia’s royal family, which is related to most of Europe’s royalty, has a strictly honorary position in modern-day democratic Serbia, but Crown Prince Alexander (who did not feel that taking the title of king was appropriate when his father died in exile in the United States in 1972) and his family still live in these palaces. A local expert will show you the public rooms of the Royal Palace, the White Palace, the adjacent chapel and the spacious grounds.

Excursion(s) - "Let's Go" "I Bike Belgrade" tour
Excursion Price - $70

Mount a bike and spend a leisurely half-day getting an up-close look at Belgrade, complete with lively commentary from your guide, who will tell you not just about the tumultuous recent past but also what it’s like to live here. Ride past Branko’s Bridge, Staro Sajmište (a former concentration camp), the Palace of Serbia and Hotel Jugoslavija; after a refreshing stop at a traditional fisherman’s bar, you’ll be ready to pedal to Kalemegdan Fortress and see a bit of Serbia’s more distant past.


Day 20 - Golubac, Cruising the Iron Gates

Port - Golubac

Head ashore to explore a Paleolithic site and an extraordinarily well-preserved medieval fortress. All along the way, history lines the banks of the river. Keep an eye out for Trajan’s Plaque, which the ancient Romans erected to commemorate the road they anchored in the steep cliffs above the water, and Golubac Castle, built in the 14th century and attacked successively by the Serbs, Magyars and Turks.

Unwind onboard as you cruise the breathtaking Iron Gates, an 83-mile-long (134-kilometer-long) stretch of scenic gorges that were cut through the Carpathian and Balkan mountains over eons by the Danube River. These gorges, which act as a natural border between Serbia and Romania, are among the most dramatic and beautiful sights in all of Europe. This was one of the swiftest and most dangerous stretches of the river before two dams were built: Iron Gate I and Iron Gate II. Construction on the dams began in 1964 and took 20 years to complete; they have dramatically altered the area’s landscape, raising the water level by 114 feet (35 meters) and drowning several islands and villages.

Excursion(s) - Lepenski Vir archaeological park and Golubac Castle
Excursion Price - $70

Your first stop is Golubac Castle, one of the best-preserved medieval fortresses in Europe, a powerhouse that has loomed over the Danube for centuries.

Later you'll visit Lepenski Vir which is one of the largest and most significant prehistoric archeological sites from the Stone Age, located on the Danube. It was once the epicenter of one of the most highly developed prehistoric cultures, with complex social relations and even rudimentary urban planning. The discovery of this prehistoric settlement has changed the image experts once had about the early Stone Age, expanding scientists’ knowledge about human communities that walked the earth millennia ago.


Day 21 - Vidin

Port - Vidin

Vidin is a port town on the Danube that once played an important role in medieval Bulgarian politics, as the great fortress Baba Vida attests. It’s your base for an unusual excursion today—a visit to the fascinating Belogradchik rock formations. Or you can head to a local’s home to bake a traditional Bulgarian dish called banitza.

Excursion(s) - Belogradchik red rock valley
Excursion Price - $70

Drive through the scenic Bulgarian countryside to Belogradchik, a small town in the foothills of the Balkan Mountains, not far from the Serbian border. After some light refreshment at a local hotel, you’ll be ready to explore the astonishing rock formations nearby, which are over 200 million years old—and have inspired nearly as many legends! Many of the strange wind- and weather-hewn shapes have names, such as Adam and Eve, the Bear and the Castle. The outcroppings formed a natural defense for the town that was enhanced with man-made fortifications over the centuries. Whether you choose to hike with a local expert to the top of the path or not, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views. Your return will take you past some sights that highlight Vidin’s mixed heritage: the Orthodox cathedral, the Turkish mosque, the Konak (the 18th-century headquarters of the Turkish police) and the cruciform barracks (which date to the 1790s). The final stop will be Baba Vida, whose stern 10th-century stone walls were built on the site of a Roman watchtower.

Excursion(s) - Banitza home baking experience
Excursion Price - $70

Today, a local baker will welcome you into their home for a demonstration and workshop on how to make a traditional Bulgarian treat, banitza. Typically made with filo dough, yoghurt and cheese, banitza can always be found at Bulgarian celebrations. First, your hostess will show you how the bread is made, then you will try your own hand at preparing this delicious treat while her banitza is in the oven.

You’ll also learn how yoghurt, a Bulgarian staple, can be made at home. When the hostess’ banitza is ready, you’ll sample it alongside the homemade yoghurt. In the meantime, your own banitza will be baking and will be ready to take back to the ship with you when the tasting is finished.

Before returning to the ship, you’ll stop at a local kindergarten to join the afternoon’s lesson. Enjoy some light refreshments while chatting with the kids, lending a hand in their craft session and watching their English poetry and song performance.


Day 22 - Rousse

Port - Rousse

Bulgaria’s foremost Danube port, Rousse is sometimes called “Little Vienna” for its elegant 19th-century mansions and public buildings.

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

Excursion(s) - Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanassi with authentic Bulgarian lunch
Excursion Price - $70

Twice the capital of Bulgaria—before and after the Ottomans conquered the nation—Veliko Tarnovo climbs steep hills above the Yantra River, topped by the ruins of Tsarevets, the stronghold where Bulgaria’s kings ruled between 1185 and 1393. The remains of the great stone walls and towers that you see formed the historic heart of the Second Bulgarian Empire. History lives in this town, as a quick look at the wares for sale in Samovod Marketplace will show you: Handicrafts are all made by local artisans using ancient, medieval or Renaissance technologies. You’ll have time to peruse the exceptional local pottery and textiles there before heading to Arbanassi, home to six amazing 17th-century stone churches, each one decorated with colorful and intricate frescoes. Learn something of the multicultural history of this fascinating town at the Ethnographic Museum and visit the UNESCO-designated Nativity Church, where murals of the Nativity, the Last Judgment and the zodiac brilliantly blend religious and humanist iconography. At another of the churches, Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel, you’ll hear the otherworldly singing of an Orthodox choir in a short concert. Your day’s adventure includes a traditional three-course Bulgarian lunch, complete with live folk music.

Excursion(s) - Rousse walking tour with Ivanovo and Basarbovo Monasteries
Excursion Price - $70

Walk through the woods of Rusenski Lom, a protected region that is home to a wide variety of rare birds, among other wildlife, to Ivanovo Rock Monastery—once an enclave of more than 40 churches and chapels that the devout built inside caves above the Lom River Valley. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is famous for its beautiful and well-preserved 14th-century murals.

Your next destination, the Basarbovo Rock Monastery, is the only rock monastery where monks still live and worship today. Climb the narrow rock stairway to the 15th-century cloister, which is cut into the limestone cliffs high above the Lom River, and take a look at the arresting frescoes. You’ll also spend some time in Rousse, a city with an easygoing, gracious feeling. Freedom Square, a huge open plaza, takes its name from the Freedom Monument, which soars from the center of the square; the stately Belle Epoque buildings surrounding the square attest to the city’s prosperity in the 1890s. Stroll along wide, tree-lined Alexandrovska, the main pedestrian street that links the city’s many attractive squares, encountering such landmark sights as Rousse’s grand theater, the city museum and the first movie theater (it opened in 1896).


Day 23 - Giurgiu (Disembark), Transfer to Bucharest

Port - Giurgiu

This morning, you’ll disembark the ship in Giurgiu and drive through the countryside to Bucharest, where you’ll enjoy a panoramic city tour or walking tour in the old Lipscani district. Tonight, you’ll relax in the comfort of a luxury hotel located in the heart of the city, Romania’s capital and its cultural and economic center.

Excursion(s) - Bucharest Communist tour with People's Palace
Excursion Price - $70

Bucharest began as a fortress in the 15th century, a warlike origin that set the tone for its turbulent history. It saw glory days as the summer residence of the Wallachian princes and was burned to the ground by the Ottoman Turks; then Austria-Hungary and imperial Russia fought over it for a century. After Wallachia and Moldavia united to form Romania in the mid-19th century, Bucharest enjoyed a prosperity that was reflected in its extravagant architecture, some of which miraculously survived WWII bombing and Communist building programs.

You’ll see Bucharest’s very own Triumphal Arch, which is modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and Victoria Boulevard, lined with chic shops and handsomely restored pre-war buildings—and sites where protests brought down Ceaușescu’s regime in 1989. These days Bucharest enjoys a lively and eclectic cultural scene, hosting international arts festivals and concerts, and a measure of prosperity apparent in its busy cafés and thriving street life.

For the most dazzling stop of the day, you’ll visit the colossal People’s Palace, the second largest office building in the world. It’s certainly one of the grandest as well, filled with crystal chandeliers, mosaics, marble, gold leaf and stained-glass windows. A remnant of the city’s communist history, the building’s original design took a team of approximately 700 architects and was inspired by Socialist Realism, Modernism and Neoclassical architecture. Though the People’s Palace was ordered by Nicolae Ceaușescu, the last communist leader of Romania, it was not completed until 8 years after his death. The Palace now houses the Romanian Parliament and three museums, including a contemporary art museum and the Museum of Communist Totalitarianism.


Day 24 - Bucharest

Port - Bucharest

Get to know the bustling heart of Romania's capital city with a full day to explore Bucharest on your own.


Day 25 - Bucharest

Port - Bucharest

Check out of your hotel this morning. If your cruise/tour package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport for your flight home.

Bucharest to Amsterdam


Day 1 - Bucharest

Port - Bucharest

Arrive at Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport. If your cruise/tour package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the hotel.


Day 2 - Bucharest

Port - Bucharest

Get to know the bustling heart of Romania's capital city with a full day to explore Bucharest on your own.


Day 3 - Bucharest, Transfer to Giurgiu (Embark)

Port - Giurgiu

Bucharest is a fascinating combination of Communist grandiosity, elegant French-influenced 19th-century buildings and surprising survivors dating from the 1500s. Today in Bucharest you’ll enjoy a panoramic city tour or a walking tour in the old Lipscani district. Later, you'll travel via motorcoach to Giurgiu, where your ship awaits.

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

Excursion(s) - Bucharest Communist tour with People's Palace
Excursion Price - $70

Bucharest began as a fortress in the 15th century, a warlike origin that set the tone for its turbulent history. It saw glory days as the summer residence of the Wallachian princes and was burned to the ground by the Ottoman Turks; then Austria-Hungary and imperial Russia fought over it for a century. After Wallachia and Moldavia united to form Romania in the mid-19th century, Bucharest enjoyed a prosperity that was reflected in its extravagant architecture, some of which miraculously survived WWII bombing and Communist building programs.

You’ll see Bucharest’s very own Triumphal Arch, which is modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and Victoria Boulevard, lined with chic shops and handsomely restored pre-war buildings—and sites where protests brought down Ceaușescu’s regime in 1989. These days Bucharest enjoys a lively and eclectic cultural scene, hosting international arts festivals and concerts, and a measure of prosperity apparent in its busy cafés and thriving street life.

For the most dazzling stop of the day, you’ll visit the colossal People’s Palace, the second largest office building in the world. It’s certainly one of the grandest as well, filled with crystal chandeliers, mosaics, marble, gold leaf and stained-glass windows. A remnant of the city’s communist history, the building’s original design took a team of approximately 700 architects and was inspired by Socialist Realism, Modernism and Neoclassical architecture. Though the People’s Palace was ordered by Nicolae Ceaușescu, the last communist leader of Romania, it was not completed until 8 years after his death. The Palace now houses the Romanian Parliament and three museums, including a contemporary art museum and the Museum of Communist Totalitarianism.


Day 4 - Rousse

Port - Rousse

Bulgaria’s foremost Danube port, Rousse is sometimes called “Little Vienna” for its elegant 19th-century mansions and public buildings.

Excursion(s) - Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanassi with authentic Bulgarian lunch
Excursion Price - $70

Twice the capital of Bulgaria—before and after the Ottomans conquered the nation—Veliko Tarnovo climbs steep hills above the Yantra River, topped by the ruins of Tsarevets, the stronghold where Bulgaria’s kings ruled between 1185 and 1393. The remains of the great stone walls and towers that you see formed the historic heart of the Second Bulgarian Empire. History lives in this town, as a quick look at the wares for sale in Samovod Marketplace will show you: Handicrafts are all made by local artisans using ancient, medieval or Renaissance technologies. You’ll have time to peruse the exceptional local pottery and textiles there before heading to Arbanassi, home to six amazing 17th-century stone churches, each one decorated with colorful and intricate frescoes. Learn something of the multicultural history of this fascinating town at the Ethnographic Museum and visit the UNESCO-designated Nativity Church, where murals of the Nativity, the Last Judgment and the zodiac brilliantly blend religious and humanist iconography. At another of the churches, Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel, you’ll hear the otherworldly singing of an Orthodox choir in a short concert. Your day’s adventure includes a traditional three-course Bulgarian lunch, complete with live folk music.

Excursion(s) - Rousse walking tour with Ivanovo and Basarbovo Monasteries
Excursion Price - $70

Walk through the woods of Rusenski Lom, a protected region that is home to a wide variety of rare birds, among other wildlife, to Ivanovo Rock Monastery—once an enclave of more than 40 churches and chapels that the devout built inside caves above the Lom River Valley. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is famous for its beautiful and well-preserved 14th-century murals.

Your next destination, the Basarbovo Rock Monastery, is the only rock monastery where monks still live and worship today. Climb the narrow rock stairway to the 15th-century cloister, which is cut into the limestone cliffs high above the Lom River, and take a look at the arresting frescoes. You’ll also spend some time in Rousse, a city with an easygoing, gracious feeling. Freedom Square, a huge open plaza, takes its name from the Freedom Monument, which soars from the center of the square; the stately Belle Epoque buildings surrounding the square attest to the city’s prosperity in the 1890s. Stroll along wide, tree-lined Alexandrovska, the main pedestrian street that links the city’s many attractive squares, encountering such landmark sights as Rousse’s grand theater, the city museum and the first movie theater (it opened in 1896).


Day 5 - Vidin

Port - Vidin

Vidin is a port town on the Danube that once played an important role in medieval Bulgarian politics, as the great fortress Baba Vida attests. It’s your base for an unusual excursion today—a visit to the fascinating Belogradchik rock formations. Or you can head to a local’s home to bake a traditional Bulgarian dish called banitza.

Excursion(s) - Belogradchik red rock valley
Excursion Price - $70

Drive through the scenic Bulgarian countryside to Belogradchik, a small town in the foothills of the Balkan Mountains, not far from the Serbian border. After some light refreshment at a local hotel, you’ll be ready to explore the astonishing rock formations nearby, which are over 200 million years old—and have inspired nearly as many legends! Many of the strange wind- and weather-hewn shapes have names, such as Adam and Eve, the Bear and the Castle. The outcroppings formed a natural defense for the town that was enhanced with man-made fortifications over the centuries. Whether you choose to hike with a local expert to the top of the path or not, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views. Your return will take you past some sights that highlight Vidin’s mixed heritage: the Orthodox cathedral, the Turkish mosque, the Konak (the 18th-century headquarters of the Turkish police) and the cruciform barracks (which date to the 1790s). The final stop will be Baba Vida, whose stern 10th-century stone walls were built on the site of a Roman watchtower.

Excursion(s) - Banitza home baking experience
Excursion Price - $70

Today, a local baker will welcome you into their home for a demonstration and workshop on how to make a traditional Bulgarian treat, banitza. Typically made with filo dough, yoghurt and cheese, banitza can always be found at Bulgarian celebrations. First, your hostess will show you how the bread is made, then you will try your own hand at preparing this delicious treat while her banitza is in the oven.

You’ll also learn how yoghurt, a Bulgarian staple, can be made at home. When the hostess’ banitza is ready, you’ll sample it alongside the homemade yoghurt. In the meantime, your own banitza will be baking and will be ready to take back to the ship with you when the tasting is finished.

Before returning to the ship, you’ll stop at a local kindergarten to join the afternoon’s lesson. Enjoy some light refreshments while chatting with the kids, lending a hand in their craft session and watching their English poetry and song performance.


Day 6 - Cruising the Iron Gates, Donji Milanovac, Golubac

Port - Golubac

Today’s main attraction will be the spectacular scenery along the Danube, as you cruise a stretch of gorges known as the Iron Gates. Later, head ashore to explore a Paleolithic site and an extraordinarily well-preserved medieval fortress. All along the way, history lines the banks of the river. Keep an eye out for Trajan’s Plaque, which the ancient Romans erected to commemorate the road they anchored in the steep cliffs above the water, and Golubac Castle, built in the 14th century and attacked successively by the Serbs, Magyars and Turks.

Unwind onboard as you cruise the breathtaking Iron Gates, an 83-mile-long (134-kilometer-long) stretch of scenic gorges that were cut through the Carpathian and Balkan mountains over eons by the Danube River. These gorges, which act as a natural border between Serbia and Romania, are among the most dramatic and beautiful sights in all of Europe. This was one of the swiftest and most dangerous stretches of the river before two dams were built: Iron Gate I and Iron Gate II. Construction on the dams began in 1964 and took 20 years to complete; they have dramatically altered the area’s landscape, raising the water level by 114 feet (35 meters) and drowning several islands and villages.

Excursion(s) - Lepenski Vir archaeological park and Golubac Castle
Excursion Price - $70

Lepenski Vir is one of the largest and most significant prehistoric archeological sites from the Stone Age, located on the Danube. It was once the epicenter of one of the most highly developed prehistoric cultures, with complex social relations and even rudimentary urban planning. The discovery of this prehistoric settlement has changed the image experts once had about the early Stone Age, expanding scientists’ knowledge about human communities that walked the earth millennia ago.

Later, you’ll visit Golubac Castle, one of the best preserved medieval fortresses in Europe, a powerhouse that has loomed over the Danube for centuries.


Day 7 - Belgrade

Port - Belgrade

Belgrade, the modern-day capital of Serbia, is one of Europe’s oldest cities, dating back some 7,000 years. Signs of its tumultuous history are visible everywhere, juxtaposed with the city’s vibrant modern-day present.

Excursion(s) - Belgrade city tour with visit to the Royal Grounds of Karadjordjevic Dynasty Palace
Excursion Price - $70

As a motorcoach carries you through the city, you’ll see a mix of architectural styles that reveal the city’s past, ranging from Gothic, Ottoman, baroque and art nouveau to utilitarian Communist apartment blocks and modern high-rises. While Belgrade has been no stranger to political upheaval, the 19th-century Residence of Princess Ljubica and serene old residential streets speak of calmer days, as do the bustling present-day café-lined boulevards. You’ll pass the tomb and memorial museum of Josip Broz Tito, which is located at the site of Tito’s for

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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

Ultimate European Journey (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
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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
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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 Duchess

Deck & Cabin Plans

River Duchess


Trip ID#:

Uniworld-216

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