When you arrive in Prague, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your centrally located hotel for a three-night stay.
Today, you will have the opportunity to explore Prague as it is effortlessly enveloped by the wonder of the seasonal period. Your local guide will take you through the old town square, a cobblestoned area that perfectly captures the city’s architectural heritage.
A guided tour of Prague
Coffee & Cake at Lobkowicz Palace
Your tour director will be available to help you plan your day of independent exploration today. We would recommend going to one of Prague’s memorable Christmas markets, where colourful stalls owned by local craftsmen are full of handcrafted ornaments and freshly baked Czech Christmas treats.
Tastes of Czechia (extra expense)
After breakfast, you will be transferred from your hotel to Budapest, to board your Emerald Cruises Star-Ship.
Budapest is a relatively new capital when compared to other European capitals, and yet it has quickly made a name for itself as a city steeped in history and culture, where the ancient and modern exist together seamlessly. Your guided tour of the capital will touch on the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Buda Castle district, as well as the Fisherman’s Bastion. This evening, a traditional Hungarian folklore show and farewell dinner are certain to delight the senses.
A guided coach tour of Budapest
Gothic architecture and tales of a communist past welcome you to Bratislava, a capital that has seen much in the way of turbulence over the past century. Today, you will discover that that turbulence is nowhere to be seen, as you stroll down peaceful streets and soak in the neo-Renaissance glory of ancient theatres and the sheer opulence of the Episcopal Summer Palace. The Christmas season adds an extra layer to the city, where a blend of distinctive cultures come together and showcase their handcrafted ornaments and delicious treats.
Home-hosted coffee and cake with a local Slovakian family
A walking tour of Bratislava
Welcome to the “City of Dreams”, Vienna. This ornate cityscape was home to famous musicians, composers and the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. Today, you can explore the capital with a drive around the magnificent Ringstrasse, where opulent buildings can be seen peppering the area. After your guided tour, enjoy some time to explore at leisure, perhaps sampling some delicious hot chocolate and baked goods in one of Vienna’s many Christmas markets.
A guided tour of Vienna
An exclusive Viennese concert with music from Mozart and Strauss (extra expense)
A tour of Schönbrunn Palace (extra expense)
Today, you will sail through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Wachau Valley, a landscape steeped in fairy tales where the winter months only add an ethereal layer to your surroundings. History is yours to discover and enjoy during a river cruise through Europe, but the quaint village of Melk offers a wonderful introduction of some of the historic architecture that can be found on the continent. Your included EmeraldEXCURSION today is a tour of the Benedictine Melk Abbey, an ancient Baroque monastery that is known for its monumental beauty and the treasures that are kept inside of its historic library.
A tour of Melk Abbey
Welcome to Passau, a town where three of Europe’s main rivers converge underneath the castle. On this afternoon’s walking tour, stroll down old narrow alleys and look up to see the hilltop Oberhaus Fortress as it overlooks the town. Your tour will conclude at the green-domed façade of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, where Passau’s annual Christkindlmarkt can be found. During your free time, perhaps sample some delicious warm Glühwein and freshly baked goods.
A guided tour of Passau
A tour of Salzburg (extra expense)
A tour of Ceský Krumlov (extra expense)
This morning, cruise along the final stretch of the Main-Danube Canal, admiring the view as you pass over a number of aqueducts. Regensburg’s delightful past is yours to discover today, as your local guide introduces you to the treasures of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed old town. After your tour, your EmeraldEXCURSION will take you right into the heart of the Thurn und Taxis Palace Christmas market, one of the loveliest in the country where traditional stalls are illuminated by twinkling lights.
A traditional Bavarian band on board
A visit to the Christmas market in the Thurn und Taxis Palace grounds
A guided tour of Regensburg
Visit to a local brewery (extra expense)
Your included excursion today is a sightseeing tour of the historic city of Nuremberg, touching on the architectural wonders that have inspired famous artists for centuries and exploring the effects that the war years had. You will also have time to explore the wonderful Christmas Market In the city center.
A guided tour of Nuremberg
Gingerbread Cooking Demonstration (extra expense)
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed town of Bamberg is home to not just one, but four delightful Christmas markets, each acting as sparkling gems set amongst half-timbered surrounds in this quaint little town. Here, you will be able to find some of the loveliest Baroque nativity scenes that Germany has to offer. After you enjoy a guided tour of all of Bamberg’s main highlights, perhaps during your leisure time try a glass of Bamberg’s famous beer. Nine breweries call the town their home, and several of their world-famous products are still made using traditional Franconian brewing methods.
A guided tour of Bamberg
Today, enjoy a guided tour of Würzburg and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Würzburg Residence. Nestled in the heart of the old town, you will find an enchanting Christmas market. Steeped in 19th-century beginnings, more than 100 wooden stalls showcase seasonal decorations and delectable treats, all coated by the soft glow of Christmas lights. The Würzburg Residence is a true icon, built by the prince bishops’ centuries ago. The opulence that it displays is truly breath-taking. Enjoy a guided tour of what is quite possibly one of the most beautiful Baroque palaces in Europe, as its gardens are blanketed by fresh snow.
A guided tour of Würzburg and the Würzburg Residence
Tour to Rothenburg (extra expense)
Welcome to Miltenberg. This postcard-worthy town can be found set against a lush backdrop created by the Odenwald forest. Christmastime swathes the area with festive cheer, and decorations and colourful window displays as far as the eye can see are all illuminated at dusk by twinkling fairylights. Miltenberg is home to one of the oldest pubs in Germany, and its delightful boutique market features stalls full of local arts, crafts and delightful treats. Perhaps try an apple streusel kuchen during your time here, a type of apple crumb cake that the area is famous for.
A guided tour of Miltenberg
Today, set foot into the UNESCO World Heritage-listed historical landscape of the Rhine Gorge, where the beams of Rüdesheim’s half-timbered houses are covered in fairylights. Rüdesheim hosts the “Christmas Market of Nations”, where more than a hundred stalls effortlessly represent more than a dozen nations, each showcasing their own Christmas specialities, customs and celebrations. Whilst in Rüdesheim, enjoy an excursion to Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet, and perhaps indulge in some Rüdesheim coffee, a famous drink that is made with locally distilled Asbach Uralt brandy, served with whipped cream and sprinkled with vanilla sugar and chocolate flakes. This festive drink is certain to warm you on a frosty winter’s day. Later, return to the plush surrounds of your Star-Ship for a special on-board performance.
A visit to Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet Museum
Traditional Bavarian Band performance
The wafting aroma of freshly roasted chestnuts and mulled wine welcomes you in Cologne, where the largest Christmas tree in the Rhineland can be found during the holiday season. Today, enjoy a walking tour of Cologne and visit the colourful Christmas market that sits underneath the shadows of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cologne Cathedral, a Gothic masterpiece that effortlessly creates a striking backdrop to the nativity-like scene below. More than a hundred half-timbered stalls are swathed in light, streaming down from the twinkling canopy of bulbs that criss-crosses above. In Cologne’s many Christmas markets, you can find glittering ornaments, artisans creating handcrafted goods and freshly baked produce, including lebkuchen, a beloved round or heart-shaped type of gingerbread that usually includes honey, cardamom or candied fruit. Enjoy drinking mulled wine from a festive mug as you soak in the views of what is arguably one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
A guided city walking tour
Amsterdam is a wonderful destination year-round, but during the Christmas period the entire city sparkles with fairylights and Christmas cheer. Snow blankets the narrow-cobbled streets and the Dutch indulge on oliebollen and appelbeignets, deep fried sweets that can be purchased from stalls that look like traditional alpine huts in one of Amsterdam’s many Christmas markets. Today, you will have the opportunity to take to Amsterdam’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed canal system during a glass top canal boat cruise, passing areas that are covered in white powdered snow and people relaxing whilst drinking warm cups of traditional hot chocolademelk.
A canal cruise
Guided tour of Haarlem (extra expense)
After breakfast, it is time to say farewell to your fellow guests and disembark the ship for your transfer to the airport, taking memories of open squares adorned with Christmas stalls and crisp winter mornings 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.
This trip was wonderful, with only 160 passengers we were treated royally. Everyone on board the ship worked with only one thing in mind to please the customers.
Derek was very thorough and easy to work with. Our trip was what we expected.
We were fortunate the trip went as planned. A lock was damaged and the ship we were scheduled for was unavailable. Emerald provided a different ship and we completed our full itinerary. Great job Emerald. The trip wonderful. Great staff, tours and food. Our Affordable agent Allyson fulfilled all our needs efficiently providing excellent customer care.
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