Cruise the Heart of Europe

Resort:Cruise the Heart of Europe
Operator: Riviera Travel
Destination: Austria
Price From: £3554.00


Experience an incredible variety of medieval towns and imperial cities, from quintessential Bamberg to classical Vienna, with their wealth of cultural treasures plus the world-famous scenery of the dramatic Rhine Gorge. This fifteen-day river cruisetakes you on an amazing journey from Cologne in the heart of the Rhine valley to Vienna and finally Budapest on the banks of the Danube. Your floating accommodation will be one of the most luxurious vessels cruising the inland waterways of Europe. You will be suitably impressed with the high quality, sumptuous accommodation and simply delicious cuisine in such stylish and relaxing surroundings.

Price Includes

Prices are per person, based on two people sharing a twin cabin with a limited number of sole occupancy cabins available on all decks, at the relevant supplement. The price includes:

  • – Full board from dinner on your day of arrival until breakfast on your final day; if you choose to travel with us on any of the full day excursions by coach, a packed lunch will be provided. Anyone choosing to stay on the ship may of course have lunch in the restaurant

  • – Morning/afternoon tea and coffee

  • – All visits and excursions as mentioned

  • – Airport transfers

  • – Coach travel as mentioned

  • – Travel to and from port of embarkation

  • – The services of a Riviera Travel cruise director and concierge

Cruise the Heart of Europe route map

Day 1 – Arrive in Cologne

Arrive for your flight to Dsseldorf or Cologne, or take the Eurostar from London St Pancras International to Brussels. On arrival, transfer by coach to your cruise ship moored in Colognes picturesque centre.

The dedicated English-speaking crew will welcome you aboard your first-class floating hotel, ensuring you settle in to your luxurious and well-equipped cabin and familiarise yourself with the ship.


Day 2 – Koblenz & Boppard

The first morning on a river cruise is always a thrill as you awake to the gentle lapping of the water and the colourful valley sides slipping effortlessly past your cabin window. We call at historic Koblenz, situated at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers and dominated by the immense Ehrenbreitstein Fortress.

This morning we take a guided walk around the old town, exploring its twisting streets and charming squares. During a relaxed lunch we cruise to Boppard, known as the Pearl of the Rhine for a guided tour. Wonderfully situated on a sweeping meander, it is one of the Rhinelands most attractive villages.

Its stone quayside is lined with boats of all descriptions set against a backdrop of archetypal half-timbered buildings and cobbled streets.

There are also some superb Roman walls, reputed to be the finest in Germany. Uncover its fascinating Roman past on our guided walk, seeing the 4th-century fortress, reputedly the finest and best-preserved in the country. Youll also see the striking St Severin Church, with its lovely stained glass and the picturesque marketplace, encircled by colourful facades.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 3 – Rhine Gorge & Rdesheim

Today you experience one of the real highlights of your cruise the passage through the Rhine Gorge. Here the river narrows, the current is swifter and the towering valley sides soar 600 feet, while the ruins of castles, which once held sway over passing mariners, crown every tortuous turn. We pass rocky outcrops and cruise around endless twisting bends to the famous Lorelei or murmuring rock, where according to legend, enchanting maidens lured unsuspecting sailors to watery graves.

Next we call at Rdesheim, a true Rhine wine town surrounded by vineyards whose fruits you can sample in the many wine taverns youll find in its cobbled streets.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 4 – Mainz

This morning we take the short cruise to the town of Mainz, situated at the confluence of the Rhine and Main Rivers. An important Roman city for over 450 years with the largest amphitheatre north of the Alps, Mainz is also home to the magnificent Romanesque Saint Martins Cathedral and the fine Saint Stephens Church, whose interior is filled with beautiful blue light flooding through stained-glass windows featuring intricate biblical figures a masterpiece by the great artist Marc Chagall.

Mainzs most famous son is Johannes Gutenberg, father of modern printing, and theres an excellent museum housing a reconstruction of his workshop and two original 1455 Gutenberg Bibles, among the earliest books ever printed.

This afternoon our ship cruises up the Main River. Due to locks and low bridges the main part of the sun deck will be closed between Mainz and Passau. The other outside areas in front of the lounge, the lido bar and the lower section of the sun deck are still accessible.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 5 – Miltenberg & Wertheim

The views this morning are of dense emerald-green forests as we cruise to Miltenberg, one of Germanys best-preserved medieval villages. It became prosperous during the Middle Ages under the protection of its castle and today its colourful half-timbered houses and market square with its octagonal Renaissance fountain are an atmospheric reminder of times past.

During lunch we cruise around the first of the many meandering bends that characterise the Main River, pausing at Wertheim, one of those towns thats a joy to stumble across because its completely unknown on the mainstream tourist trail. A russet-walled 12th-century castle overlooks the Old Town, with views of the church spires, turrets and patchwork of multicoloured buildings below.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 6 – Wrzburg

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast this morning as we glide towards Wrzburg, situated at the head of Germanys Romantic Road, so called because of its spellbinding procession of captivating scenery, medieval towns, lofty castles and grand palaces. Wrzburg is best explored on foot and we have a walking tour through neat streets dotted with fine pastel-coloured Baroque and Rococo buildings.

Its crowning jewel is the truly magnificent Residenz, the former seat of the prince-bishops and one of Europes finest Baroque palaces, constructed to compete with the greatest courts of the day such as Vienna and Versailles.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 7 – Bamberg

Today we visit Bamberg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site thats quite simply one of the most outstandingly preserved and beautiful small towns in Europe, easily on a par with Prague.

The masterpiece you see today began its artistic journey during the 11th century when Emperor Heinrich II chose Bamberg as the location for a capital city he planned to be as grand as Rome.

Although it never became as large as Italys capital, Bamberg nevertheless has a wealth of fine buildings including a stupendous cathedral, a town hall built in the middle of the Regnitz River, a network of canals and former fishermens houses called Little Venice and hundreds of medieval buildings in the tangled lanes of its Old Town.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 8 – Nuremberg

Today we call at Nuremberg, the Bavarian city which will always be associated with the Nazi period Hitlers pre-war rallies and the international war crimes trials that brought down the final curtain on that notorious regime. What is less well known is that Nuremberg is regarded as the unofficial capital of Germanys First Reich, better known as the Holy Roman Empire, which was founded with the coronation of Charlemagne in 800 AD and lasted for over a thousand years.

This morning we have a fascinating guided tour taking in the citys great ramparts and many fine historic buildings, including the enormous Kaiserburg castle, Craftsmens Court, the Church of Saint Lawrence and the Market Square, with its exquisite fountain that resembles a Gothic church tower.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 9 – Regensburg

This morning we cruise along the MainDanube Canal to Kelheim, where we join the enchanting Danube River. Our next port of call is Regensburg, formerly an important garrison guarding the most northwesterly point of the Roman Empire whose camp gate, the Porta Praetoria, can still be seen.

Regensburg was spared war damage and today its historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site thats a delight to explore.

This afternoon take a stroll along the iconic stone bridge; see the Altes Rathaus the seat of the Diet, or parliament, of the Holy Roman Empire from 1663 to 1806 and gaze in wonder at the Gothic cathedral, the most exceptional in Bavaria. Regensburg calls itself Germanys medieval miracle, and its hard to argue as you wander along the glorious winding streets and elegant squares of the Old Town.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 10 – Passau

Another day dawns as our journey brings us to Passau, the last town we stop at in Germany, nestling where the Inn and Ilz Rivers join the Danube. After a leisurely breakfast take the opportunity to explore the Three Rivers City, overlooked by the Veste Oberhaus, a 13th-century hilltop fortress. The Old Town below is known for its Baroque architecture including Saint Stephens Cathedral, where the worlds largest cathedral organ sounds.

Back on board this afternoon, make sure to keep an eye on the superb riverside views slipping silently by as we cross into Austria. Its a country synonymous with superb scenery, but this beautiful section of the Danube Valley is something of a secret.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 11 – Melk

On a striking rocky bluff above the town of Melk is the enormous Benedictine Abbey, which we visit this morning. This extraordinary building was originally a castle that was subsequently bequeathed to the Benedictine order during the 11th century and has been a monastery ever since. Reconstructed in full Baroque style during the 18th century, the Abbey has many fine rooms and a stupendous library with 100,000 priceless volumes, including some intricate illuminated manuscripts.

As lunch is served we cruise downstream through the delightfully picturesque Wachau Valley before approaching our next destination: Vienna, the city of Strauss. To celebrate Viennas wonderful legacy we have arranged a recital on board by a quartet of talented classical musicians. Listening to this exquisite music while in the city of its creation makes a wonderful finale to the day.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 12 – Vienna

Imagine Vienna and you think of an elegant imperial city thats one of the gems of Central Europe, and perhaps the worlds most musical city.

Its name conjures up an image of culture, ornate architecture, resplendent cafs, aristocratic palaces and imposing cathedrals, with the romantic music of the great composers filling the air. In fact, the reality is little different and theres an absolute wealth of things to see in this former capital of the Habsburg Empire, which held sway over much of Central and Eastern Europe for centuries until its demise at the end of the First World War.

For such a grand city Vienna is quite compact and this morning we enjoy an enlightening guided tour.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 13 – Bratislava

This morning we explore Slovakias capital, Bratislava, which has shrugged off the greyness of the communist era and rekindled the splendour of its imperial past in its painstakingly restored Baroque Old Town.

Wander the winding streets to the main square where youll find the former Old Town Hall, now housing a museum dedicated to the history of the city and where you may climb the tower for some lovely views. Equally impressive is the great 9th-century castle that dominates the city, with its expansive views across the Danube. Or head to the neoclassical Primatial Palace with its fabulous Hall of Mirrors and rare collection of 17th-century English tapestries.

For something more relaxing, perhaps enjoy a refreshing homemade lemonade a speciality of the city in one of the many cafs.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 14 – Budapest

You rise refreshed in this breathtakingly beautiful imperial capital that straddles the great Danube River, and we have a whole day to enjoy it. Dominated by its castle, Budapest has been called Little Paris of Middle Europe and, with its truly magnificent skyline of soaring spires and grand domes, its not hard to see why.

Its renowned for the bewitching blend of monuments reflecting Hungarys national culture and those of the foreign powers that have dominated most of the citys history.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 15 – Return Home

After breakfast, transfer to the airport at the appropriate time for your return flight.


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