When you arrive in Bucharest, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your perfectly situated hotel, including a one-night stay in Bucharest.
Welcome to the “Paris of the East”. The centre of Bucharest perfectly encapsulates a distinctive Parisian atmosphere, with wide avenues adorned by famous landmarks and quaint leafy boulevards that cross the city.
After enjoying the plush surrounds of your hotel this morning, you will get the opportunity to learn about some of Bucharest’s most iconic highlights during your guided drive around the city, including a visit to the Spring Palace, before enjoying some time to explore the leafy boulevards at leisure.
After your insightful tour, you will be transferred from Bucharest to Giurgiu, on the banks of the Danube, where a warm welcome awaits you from your captain and crew on board your Emerald Cruises Star-Ship.
A guided drive through Bucharest
Today, you will have the opportunity to learn about Bulgarian history as you explore the former capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire with your local guide, an ancient city that was strategically positioned overlooking the surrounding area. On your included tour, you will have the opportunity to traverse its cobbled streets and witness its medieval fortifications.
Afterwards, you will be taken to neighbouring Arbanasi, situated overlooking the Yantra River, a tributary of the Danube that is known for its many scenic gorges. Your local guide will enable you to explore the past, as your tour touches on a number of traditional houses and ancient churches.
If you would prefer to do something more active, then you could instead choose to embark on a guided hike to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo, known for their famous 14th-century frescoes.
Tonight, your crew will welcome you back on board for a welcome reception and dinner.
A choir concert in Arbanasi
Hike to the Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo
A tour of Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanasi
Viticulture forms the heart of life in the most western town in Bulgaria, where sun-kissed vineyards pepper the banks of the Danube and the region has prospered from winemaking for generations. Your included tour of Vidin will introduce you to a peaceful side of life that revolves around wine, as you weave through a local vineyard and learn about their produce, before enjoying a tasting. Afterwards, your local guide will take you to Baba Vida, a fortress that was originally constructed at the turn of the 10th century; known for being one of only a handful of beautifully preserved castles in the country.
If you are feeling more active, then you may instead choose to embark on a guided hike to Belogradchik Fortress, located on the northern slopes of the Balkan Mountains. It’s easy to imagine how this stronghold would have offered the Romans a perfect lookout point.
Hike to Belogradchik Fortress
Visit a local vineyard for a tasting
This morning, relax on board and admire your surroundings as we sail along the mighty Danube to Donji Milanovac, where a visit to the Lepenski Vir archaeological site, one of Europe’s best-hidden gems, awaits. Located right on the riverbanks, the Palaeolithic site is one of the most important of its kind on the continent, effortlessly capturing more than 8 millennia of history. Archaeologists from around the world have used this site to learn about a number of different Stone Age settlements and the way that prehistoric cultures moved across Europe.
A visit to Lepenski Vir archaeological site and museum
Serbia’s vibrant capital is yours to explore today, as your local guide takes you on a coach tour through the heart of the city, highlighting its many landmarks and the iconic Belgrade Fortress. Your coach will pass through the centre, where you will be able to catch glimpses of Serbia’s turbulent recent past, set amongst now quiet and peaceful streets. Witness the ornate beauty of the Church of Saint Sava, one of the largest religious buildings in Europe, before stopping for a tour of the Museum of Yugoslavia. If you are feeling more active, then you may instead choose to learn about Belgrade’s history during a guided bike tour.
This evening, you will be invited to the Horizon Lounge to watch a traditional Serbian folklore show.
A Serbian folklore evening show
A guided bike tour
A guided tour of Belgrade
A tour of the National Opera Theatre (extra expense)
Today, you will have the opportunity to explore one of Croatia’s postcard-worthy historic university towns, full of delightful waterfront promenades and quaint cobbled streets. As you walk around the city, you will notice that damage from the Homeland War is still visible, but it’s difficult to imagine turbulent times in this peaceful area.
Embark on a guided walk around Osijek Fortress, a true icon in the romantic old town. This traditional star fort houses a number of different buildings, including a military hospital and armouries, making it perfect for times of conflict. Your EmeraldPLUS experiences today are certain to be a highlight of your trip, as you dine on traditional cuisine with a local Croatian family and meet some students from a local village.
Enjoy an evening of sailing further up the Danube towards Hungary, before joining your fellow passengers for a farewell dinner.
A home-hosted lunch with a Croatian family
Meet the local village students
A guided tour of Osijek Fortress
In the morning, we will sail away from Osijek and on to Kalocsa, a place known for its paprika production and colourful festivals. Discovering Hungary’s culture is an easy task in Kalocsa, where traditional folk art can be found around every corner and old traditions pave the way for daily life.
Later, you will venture to the Puszta, or Great Hungarian Plain, to visit a traditional Puszta horse farm. Your guide will teach you about the traditional performances of the Magyar cowboys, and you will have the opportunity to witness some of their exceptional equestrian skills first hand, as they perform for you during their horse parade and showcase some of their memorable exercise drills.
Visit a Puszta horse farm
After breakfast, leave the lush surrounds of your suite or stateroom and be transferred to your centrally-located accommodation in Budapest, where a two-night stay in the city is certain to delight. When you arrive, enjoy a guided tour of the city, touching on its two distinctive faces and the ornamented Buda Castle district.
A guided coach tour of Budapest
Today, the storied capital of Budapest is yours to explore at leisure, perhaps crossing the Chain Bridge to see how the city differs in Buda and Pest, or stopping to try some delightful Hungarian treats.
After breakfast, it is time to bid farewell to your fellow passengers as you leave your accommodation for your transfer to the airport, taking memories of a home-hosted Croatian experience and the ornamented Buda Castle district with you.
This itinerary is a guide only and may be amended for operational reasons such as high and low water. As such, the cruise may operate altered from that stated above.
The world may have changed, however, our commitment to our guests and crew, the guest experience and their health, safety and wellbeing remains our key priority. We are working closely with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), local and international Government Health agencies, to ensure our protocols exceed the latest regulatory requirements. Our Health & Safety Steering Committee oversees all health and safety policies and training with Emerald Cruises, ensuring you can travel with complete confidence that your wellbeing and safety are taken care of to the highest standard. In addition, we are implementing the most recent insights and technologies, with our Emerald Cruises team dedicated to exceeding the levels of cleanliness required in today’s travel climate.
We are continuously updating our protocols to safeguard both the health, safety and the experience of our valued guests. You will be informed about these important procedures, well in advance of your journey departure, which may include the following information and guidelines:
Medical Evaluation & Test
To ensure all of our guests are safe and well before your journey with us begins, we will require you to complete a pre-departure medical health evaluation. During the phased embarkation process you, and your fellow passengers, will be tested for COVID-19 by a medical specialist. This will allow you to relax with complete peace-of-mind when you board our Star-Ships, in the company of other like-minded travelers.
Our Dedicated Team
Our Captains, Hotel Managers and Cruise Directors, alongside their exceptional teams, will deliver a first-class level of service during your time traveling with us. You can enjoy the same exciting program of on board and on shore experiences, tailored to smaller groups to allow for safe social distancing. The team are readily available to ensure every detail of your journey with us is memorable, for all the right reasons. They will ensure health and safety protocols are followed on a daily basis.
Having the best crew to look after you is at the heart of our core values at Emerald Cruises, and we will go the extra mile to ensure our crew is healthy in doing so. All crew will be regularly tested for COVID-19 and will have daily temperature and health checks. They will also be trained and regularly briefed on all aspects in preventing COVID-19 amongst themselves as well as our guests. They will go beyond the ordinary to make your cruise a truly exceptional experience.
Contact-Free Check In & Check Out
We have adjusted the various touchpoints of your journey, allowing you to check in and check out in a completely contact-free way. Through a phased embarkation you will be able to arrive and depart from your Star-Ship smoothly and with safe social proximity in mind. And, of course, every time you return to your Star-Ship, our crew will be there to greet you with a warm smile.
Briefings & Screenings
Our medical expert will host mandatory briefings and screenings. These events are designed to ensure every member of our guests and crew are healthy, and also offer an opportunity to allay any concerns or ask any questions you may have about our safety protocols.
Enhanced Cleaning Commitment
Our on board crew will be increasing and enhancing our already frequent and high standard cleaning protocols in public areas and suites, leaving surfaces and spaces spotless. Additional care and attention will be paid to high contact zones, such as communal restrooms and dining facilities.
Socially Aware Dining
You can expect the same delightful dining experiences when you travel with us, savoring a choice of dishes inspired by regional cuisine and local produce. We are adapting and redesigning our on board food and beverage service to ensure extra care is taken in order to minimize social contact. We will serve our delicious food a la carte or via served buffets.
The spacious surrounds of our ships in combination with the guest numbers provide ample room for you to relax, allowing for an abundance of personal space. We are introducing contact-free movement across our Star-Ships to further reduce risks. Contact-free hand sanitizer dispensers will be readily available in all public spaces and guest corridors on board, whilst automated doors and contact-free guest servicing will minimize the number of touchpoints.
Our Star-Ships are equipped with air circulation systems. These systems ensure there is no re-circulation of inside air on board the ship. When you are relaxing in your suite you will be breathing air from outside the ship that is channeled directly to your suite. The air will also be released from your suite directly to the outside.
Smaller Groups & Social Proximity
Discovering the local culture of your destination is the highlight of every river cruise. Create memories to cherish during our choice of on shore excursions. You will travel in smaller groups, allowing for a more intimate travel experience, whilst respecting social proximity and destination specific regulations. To enhance your sightseeing, you can utilize our digital headsets, which will act as your personal tour guide and travel map.
Carefully Selected Local Partners
As well as enhancing our health and safety protocols on board and with our crew, we’re working closely with our local partners. We have forged long-standing relationships with our local partners, all of whom have been carefully selected for their expertise and high levels of service, and are committed to ensuring your safety. They will receive extensive training to adhere with our enhanced protocols. We will also introduce strict control and screening procedures for anyone boarding our Star-Ships.
Wellness Throughout Your Journey
Your wellbeing is our number one priority, both during your time on board and on shore. Journey to and from your destination with complete peace-of-mind. All transport vehicles will be equipped with hand sanitizer and will undergo deep cleaning after every journey, surpassing the high industry standards required. You can also rest assured that we will monitor social proximity, allowing you to travel safely, with plenty of personal space.
We are committed to continually reviewing and updating our protocols and guidelines as new information becomes available, to ensure that our guests can travel safely in the many destinations we operate in.
Great river cruise, the operator Emerald Waterways did not disappoint. On board service was exceptional and the tours were very good. Only thought would be that having a little more free time during site visits would have made the excursions good to great.
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