Day 1 Australia - Vienna, Austria.
Depart from Australia to Vienna, overnight flight with Emirates.
Day 2 Vienna, AUSTRIA Embarkation after 3 pm Meal: D
Welcome to Austria! Upon arrival to Vienna airport meet our guides outside of the customs area. Board your buses for a short spin through the city before arriving to the ship for check-in. Prior to dinner, meet your fellow passengers and Cruise Staff for a cocktail, crew introduction followed by an information meeting. Then enjoy your first dinner on board, followed by a well-deserved rest.
Day 3 Vienna, AUSTRIA Meal: B/L/D
Your morning city sightseeing tour will introduce you to the most attractive sights of this “Imperial” capital. Starting with Hundertwasserhaus, you will continue on to Belvedere Palace for a tour of the grounds and gardens. Then it’s on to the city center via the Vienna Ringstrasse to view famous architectural gems such as the State Opera, the Parliament, the Burgtheatre, the Votiv Church and others.
The next stop will be in the old center of Vienna to view St. Stephan’s Cathedral and take a walk through the pedestrian zone from Graben and Kohlmarkt to Michaela Square ending at the entrance of the Hofburg (Imperial Palace). From this point, continue past the Spanish Riding School to Albertina Square, where you will see the State Opera and the famous Hotel Sacher.
Then it’s back on board the bus for a drive past the famous "Prater" with its Giant Ferris Wheel. Return to the ship in time for lunch. The remainder of the day is at leisure. You may choose to explore Vienna on your own or purchase an optional tour. Set sail for Bratislava, Slovakia before midnight.
Day 4 Bratislava, SLOVAKIA (From 04:00 to 24.00) Meal: B/L/D
Welcome to Slovakia! Enjoy a morning walking/mini train tour of this lovely city with its famous St. Martin's Cathedral and the Primate's Palace. The sightseeing will end with a walk through the Old Town – Michael's Gate, Michael's Tower, Main Square, Old Town Hall and Slovak National Theatre. Enjoy free time for shopping and a stroll and return to the ship for lunch.
Dinner on board and an evening free to waltz the night away!
Day 5 Budapest, HUNGARY (From 13:00 - Overnight) Meal: B/L/D
Welcome to Hungary! Morning set sail. In the afternoon, your morning motor coach tour of this lovely city will include the most popular sights: The Parliament Building, St. Stefan Cathedral, the Opera, the Square of Heroes, (the Millennium monument) and the town park with the Vajdahunyad Castle. There will be stops at the Square of Heroes, the Fisherman’s Bastion and Gellert Hill. Return to the ship for dinner.
In the evening we recommend the optional Hungarian Folk Show.
Day 6 Budapest, HUNGARY (From 00:00 to 21:00) Meal: B/L/D
Full free day to explore and enjoy pedestrian friendly Budapest on your own, or partake in one of our optional excursions as outlined below! Evening surprise! Prior to dinner enjoy a 45 minute concert performed by a local Gypsy duo in the lounge.
Day 7 Osijek, CROATIA (From 15:00 to 20:00) Meal: B/L/D
Welcome to Croatia! View the passing vista’s from the sun deck, as you sail into the Drava River toward Osijek, Croatia’s 4th largest city. This afternoon enjoy a bus and walking tour of the Old Town including the Tvrdja (Citadel), the best-preserved and largest ensemble of baroque buildings in Croatia. At the end of the tour, enjoy a refreshment drink with snacks accompanied by live entertainment featuring Croatian folk music and “tamburica”, the Croatian version of a banjo. Then enjoy some free time in town before returning to your ship for dinner. Sail on!
Day 8 Novi Sad, SERBIA (From 04:00 – 23:30) Meal: B/L/D
Welcome to Serbia! Your first stop in this “newly” minted Balkan country will be in Novi Sad, Serbia’s third largest city after Belgrade and Nis. You will be delighted with this pedestrian friendly town as you join your local guide for a walking tour through the town center followed by a tour of the imposing
Petrovaradin Fortress, referred to as the “Gibraltar on the Danube”. Built in the 18th century over 116 hectares, the fortress has 4 levels, more than 16 km of underground tunnels. After the tour you will have free time to explore the many nooks and crannies of the town or enjoy a cappuccino and some people watching from the terrace of one of the many open air cafés. Or partake in the optional Serbian Country tour. Dinner is on board as you set sail for “White City” – Serbia’s capital of Belgrade!
Day 9 Belgrade, SERBIA (From 05:00am to 03:30am) Meal: B/L/D
A big day is ahead as your morning motor coach tour of this lively and vibrant city will include all of the major attractions: Kalemegdan Fortress, looming over the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers; St. Sava’s Orthodox Cathedral; perched on a hill which can be seen from every part of the city; the Parliament Building; Princess Ljubica's Manor; Mark's Church; and others. The tour will end with a stroll through Knez Mihajlova Street, the main pedestrian zone full of boutiques, open air cafés and galleries. The afternoon is free to explore Belgrade on your own or partake in the highly recommended optional tour to a local Serbian village where you will meet an authentic Serbian multi-generation family and enjoy a wonderful taste of Serbian home made food, live music and hospitality! See details below!
The day is not over yet! After dinner, enjoy a private folklore show on board performed by members of Belgrade’s re-known “Talia” ensemble. In between the dances, a special fashion show will introduce you to the wonderful handmade sweaters of “Sirogojno” – made with special wool and local motifs. These sweaters are sold in some of the most fashionable boutiques worldwide for hundreds of dollars as each one is an individual work of art. If you live in cold climates, one of these sweaters would be a wonderful gift for a family member – or yourself! Late night, set sail for Romania & Bulgaria.
Day 10 Full day sailing & passage through “The Iron Gate” Gorge Meal: B/L/D
(Arrive Vidin midnight and overnight)
Enjoy a wonderful and relaxing day at sail as you marvel at the passing vista’s, participate in interesting talks on Balkan History presented by your Cruise Director and other activities. The highlight of the day will be the passage through the "The Iron Gates", a great natural attraction, and the highest gorge on the Danube. Over 100 km long, this canyon, was a gigantic obstacle to navigation because of its pointed rocks, cliffs, and changing water levels, surrounded with very wild, yet attractive nature. This danger was finally overcome in 1972, with the building of the “Djerdap” Hydroelectric and Navigation System, the largest of its kind in Europe. The Romanian and Yugoslav builders carried out this gigantic construction project by building a huge concrete dam which raised the level of the water from 30 to 90 meters. On both sides of the dam, two locks and two hydroelectric stations were built which today produce an average annual output of 10 billion kWh and enable safe passage for passenger and cargo ships all the way to the Black Sea. Arrive Vidin, Bulgaria in the evening where you will overnight.
Day 11 Vidin – BULGARIA (From 00:00 – 18:00) Meal: B/L/D
Welcome to Bulgaria! After breakfast, embark on a walking tour of this delightful Bulgarian river port highlighted by a visit to the 13th century fortress named “Baba Vida” (“Grandma Vida”) the best preserved medieval fortress in the country. Then enjoy some free time for a stroll and shopping or take the optional Belogradchik Rock excursion. Tonight prepare for your Captain’s Farewell Dinner!
Day 12 Turnu Magurele - Bucharest – ROMANIA Meal: B
(Arrive 03:00 From 08:30 – Disembarkation) END CRUISE
As all good things must come to an end – so does your wonderful cruise adventure! Disembark after breakfast. Dock at the Romanian port of Turnu Magurele and transfer to the “Paris of the East” – Bucharest, Romania’s lovely capital! (2hrs). Upon reaching the city, a panorama tour will highlight the major attractions including; Revolution Square, Arch de Triumph, the National Theatre, the Romanian Athenaeum and others. Stop for photographs at President Ceausescu’s humongous "People's House" (today’s Parliament) the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon. Then it’s on to your first class hotel, where after check-in you will have free time to explore this lovely city at your leisure and enjoy dinner at one of the local restaurants on your own.
(Start – the land tour of Romania & Bulgaria)
Day 13 Bucharest Begin the Romania tour Meal: B/L
The city tour will give you the opportunity to admire some of the landmarks of Bucharest, such as the Arch of Triumph, the Atheneum (Romania’s most famous concert hall), Revolution Square (where the 1989 anti – Communist revolt went nationwide), the Romanian Patriarch’s Church, and the Palace of Parliament, also a visit to the former residence of Ceausescu. Overnight at the centrally located 4* Hotel Golden Tulip or similar
Day 14 Bucharest – Curtea de Arges – Poenari – Sibiu Meal: B/L/D
The great medieval city of Sibiu in Transylvania is your destination today, but you will also discover some important sights in Wallachia along the way. First, you will stop at Curtea de Arges, where you will visit the monastery, then, head north for a short drive towards the Carpathians and visit the Poienari fortress, the actual castle of Vlad the Impaler. It takes a climb of some 1500 steps to make it up to the ruins. Upon arrival in Sibiu this afternoon you check in at your hotel.
Day 15 Sibiu – Sighisoara Meal: B/L/D
Your guided stroll will include sights such as the Large Square, Small Square, the Catholic Church, Liars’ Bridge and the magnificent Evangelical Church. Then, head east for the town of Sighisoara, one of the best preserved medieval cities in Eastern Europe. Along the way, discover one more of Transylvania’s architecture gems, by visiting the Biertan fortified church (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Lunch is served at a local restaurant in Biertan or Sighisoara.
This evening you will join a family of Transylvanian Gypsies for a home hosted dinner. This is a rare opportunity to discover more about the culture, traditions and lifestyle of this controversial ethnic group. Overnight in Sighisoara, 3* Hotel Cavaler or similar, located in the heart of the old town citadel.
Day 16 Sighisoara – Bran Castle – Brasov Meal: B/L/D
After breakfast, you will depart Sighisoara, headed for Brasov. Along the way, you will visit one of the most famous sights in Romania, Bran Castle (also known as Dracula’s Castle). Lunch is served at a local restaurant in Bran. Then drive to the city of Brasov. You will enjoy a guided walk in the Old Town, and admire sights such as the Black Church (the largest Gothic cathedral in south-eastern Europe), the Old Town Square, the old city walls and St. Nicholas Church. Overnight at 4* Hotel Kronwell or similar, located right in the Old Town Square.
Day 17 Brasov – Peles – Snagov – Bucharest Meal: B/L
This morning, you depart from Brasov and head for the mountains of Transylvania. After a 1 hour drive, you arrive in Sinaia, a little town which has always been linked to the Romanian Royal family. Here we visit Peles Castle, an astounding Royal residence, built by Carol I, Romania’s first king, at the end of the 19th century. Next, you’ll have an encounter with the Romanian Orthodox faith and Romanian church architecture, by visiting the Sinaia Monastery. Lunch is served at a local restaurant in Sinaia.
This afternoon, you head for Bucharest, and along the way, take a detour to make a quick stop at the Snagov Monastery. Overnight at the centrally located 4* Hotel Golden Tulip or similar.
Day 18 Bucharest – Giurgiu- Arbanassi – Veliko Tarnovo Meal: B/L/D
Today you continue for the border with Bulgaria, where we change the bus and the guide and then onto Veliko Tarnovo. Then you drive to the village of Arbanassi, a small architectural gem with houses and churches from the 17th and 18th centuries. This afternoon, you get to explore Veliko Tarnovo or “the town of noblemen” as it is called in Bulgaria. You stroll along the historical Samovodene Street in the Old Town. Then you will discover the symbol of the city – the Tsarevets fortification. Overnight at 4* Hotel Bolyarski or similar in Veliko Tarnovo
Day 19 Veliko Tarnovo – Madara Horseman – Varna – Nessebar Meal: B/L
Today you drive to the sea capital of Bulgaria – the town of Varna. Along the way you take a short detour to the village of Madara and see another monument from UNESCO’s world heritage list – the Madara Horseman. This afternoon, you start by discovering Varna. Then you continue to the town of Nessebar. The Old Town (UNESCO World Heritage Site) is more than 9000 years old and is situated on a tiny peninsula, and a narrow strip of land connects this small jewel to the mainland. Overnight at The Mill Hotel or similar in Nessebar.
Day 20 Nessebar – Kazanlak - Plovdiv Meal: B/L
Today you drive to Plovdiv- European Capital of Culture for 2019. On the way, we stop at Kazanlak – the town located in the Valley of the Roses and the Thracian kings. Here, you visit the Thracian tomb (UNESCO World Heritage Site). During our guided walk in the afternoon, we will admire some of the highlights of Plovdiv. As we discover the Old Town we will see the Antique theatre (entrance included). Overnight in Plovdiv at 4* Ramada Trimontium or similar.
Day 21 Plovdiv – Hissarya- Starosel- Plovdiv Meal: B
Today, we visit the town of Hissarya, famous for its well preserved Roman ruins. Then visit the impressive Thracian shrine of Chetinyova Mogila, located in the village of Starosel. In spite of its age (2400 years), it’s in remarkably good condition. Today you can relax in the hot mineral pool and wine tasting at Starosel Complex.
Day 22 Plovdiv to Bansko via the narrow gauge scenic railway Meal: B /D
From Plovdiv you travel by bus to Septemvri, from where we take a 5 hour train tour (covers 50km!) The trip will take us from the Pirin Mountains on a gradual ascent to the Mesta River Valley scenically situated between the Rila Mountains and the western Rodopes. From here the train ascends to Velingrad following a river valley. Our coach will be waiting for us at the train station in Bansko - Ski resort in the Pirin Mountains. Overnight in Bansko at the 4* Spa Hotel Gardenia or similar.
Day 23 Bansko – Rila Monastery –Sofia Meal: B/L/D
This morning, we depart from Bansko and head for the western part of Bulgaria where you will discover the Rila Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site). After our visit to the monastery we continue on to the capital of Bulgaria- Sofia. Overnight in Sofia at the 4* Central Park Hotel or similar.
Day 24 Sofia, city tour Meal: B/D
On your guided walk along the central area of the town you will discover traces from the Roman and Thracian times as well as beautiful examples of the 19th and early 20th century European architecture – usually the work of German, Austrian or Italian architects. They coexist with some monstrous concrete buildings inherited from the communist past of the country. One of the highlights of the city is the Boyana church (UNESCO World Heritage Site), set in one of the green suburbs of the city.
Day 25 Sofia – Australia Meal: B
After breakfast you are transferred to the airport for your departure flight home bound.
Day 26 Arrival Australia
Arrive into Australia.