Welcome to Budapest, one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Eastern Europe. Here, you'll be met at the airport and transferred to your luxurious Emerald Cruises Star-Ship, where your friendly captain and crew will be waiting to greet you.
This evening, relax on board as you enjoy an authentic Hungarian folklore show.
Traditional Hungarian folklore show
Budapest is a place of striking contrasts, with Buda on one side housing a generous scattering of the city’s elegant landmarks, and Pest on the other encapsulating its fascinating past. Separated by the mighty Danube, you can explore them both by crossing the Chain Bridge, one of the most symbolic structures in the capital.
Today, you will have the opportunity to discover the city’s history during a guided tour, including the Castle District, where sights of Buda Castle perched on top of a rocky outcrop overlooking the city are certain to delight. If you are feeling active, then you may instead choose to hike to Buda Hill, following a maze of cobblestone streets to the massive Baroque masterpiece towering overhead.
Hike to Buda Hill
Guided coach tour of Budapest
Bordering Austria and Hungary, the Slovakian capital is yours to discover today. Wander down cobblestone streets and witness the sheer majesty of ornate Baroque palaces as you explore with a local guide, passing the Renaissance courtyard of the Old Town Hall and the picturesque gardens of the Episcopal Summer Palace. Afterwards, enjoy free time to explore at leisure, perhaps perusing some of the quaint boutiques that line the streets.
This afternoon, you will be welcomed into the home of a local family to learn about their culture over traditional sweet treats and coffee.
Home-hosted coffee and cake with a Slovakian family
Guided hike to Bratislava Castle
Walking tour of Bratislava
Skoda tour of post-Communist Bratislava (extra expense)
A wave of culture paves the way for life in the Austrian capital, where some of history’s most prestigious composers once walked the streets and found their inspiration. Today, by coach and on foot, you will have the opportunity to pass the iconic imperial palaces and noteworthy buildings adorning the Ringstrasse, including the Vienna State Opera.
Alternatively, embark on a guided cycling tour past idyllic riverbanks, monuments and lush parks before passing by Prater.
Guided bike tour
Guided tour of Vienna
Visit to Schönbrunn Palace (extra expense)
Viennese evening concert (extra expense)
This morning, you will have the opportunity to hike to Dürnstein Castle, perhaps stopping to imagine how it would have looked when Richard the Lionheart was held captive following the Third Crusade.
Alternatively, enjoy a guided bike ride from Dürnstein to Melk, passing noteworthy vineyards and settling down for lunch on the riverbanks.
After visiting Dürnstein Castle, relax on the Sun Deck as you sail through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Wachau Valley and on to Melk, nestled in the heart of the Wachau wine region. Your local guide will take you on a tour of the spectacular 900-year-old Benedictine abbey, including its ancient monastic library and medieval manuscripts saved from fires by the monks in the 13th century.
Guided hike to Dürnstein Castle
Guided bike tour along the Danube
Tour of Melk Abbey
Vineyards hike and tasting in Weissenkirchen (extra expense)
Sat on the confluence of the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers, Passau is a postcard-worthy destination that has been shaped by the surrounding waterways. Maze-like romantic lanes weave through the city, opening up into large squares and magical promenades adorned with classical boutiques.
This afternoon, join your local guide for a tour of Passau and discover a peppering of delightful Baroque buildings, some of which date back to the 17th century. Stop to admire the silhouette of the hilltop Oberhaus Fortress and witness St. Stephen’s Cathedral, home of the largest church organ in Europe.
Later, return for an afternoon spent peacefully cruising through the heart of Europe.
Guided tour of Passau
Excursion to Salzburg (extra expense)
Excursion to Ceský Krumlov (extra expense)
After breakfast, set out on an exploration of one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Germany, where more than two millennia of history is yours to discover. Your local guide will lead you through the heart of Regensburg’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town, once home to the seat of parliament. Delightful historic patrician houses line the streets, a visible testament to the area’s importance as a trading centre hundreds of years ago.
Later, return to your Star-Ship to sail through the picturesque surrounds of the Main-Danube Canal, passing Kelheim as you make your way to Nuremberg.
Bavarian band performance on board
Guided tour of Regensburg
Visit to a local brewery (extra expense)
Today, the historic city of Nuremberg is yours to explore during an included sightseeing tour, touching on the architectural wonders that have acted as an inspiration for famous artists from around the world for generations.
After your guided tour, enjoy time to explore the city at leisure, passing idyllic houses that were lovingly reconstructed following the destruction of the war years.
Guided tour of Nuremberg
World War II tour (extra expense)
This morning, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed town of Bamberg awaits. Thousands of listed buildings can be found in the medieval town centre, an area bursting with character, charm and one of the best-preserved old quarters in Europe.
Admire hundreds of ornamental façades as you explore the town with your local guide, passing the New Residence, a building that truly captures the opulence that was enjoyed by the prince bishops. Relax in the Rose Garden before witnessing the opulence of medieval Altenburg Castle overlooking the town.
Guided tour of Bamberg
Set alongside the Main River, Würzburg offers a perfect introduction to the Romantic Road, one of Bavaria’s most popular tourism routes that links stunning medieval locations throughout the country. Your own charming journey of discovery will touch on the sloping vineyard-laden hills of one of the biggest wine-producing areas in Germany.
Today, you will have the opportunity to visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Würzburg Residence, perhaps stopping to admire the Viennese Baroque architecture and secular features from Italy. Your local guide will teach you about how the architects behind the Würzburg Residence drew inspiration from a spectrum of different popular styles. After the tour, enjoy a guided walking tour of Würzburg, including the Gothic Marienkapelle and Town Hall.
Walking tour of Würzburg and a visit to the Bishops Residence
Excursion to Rothenburg (extra expense)
This morning, as part of your EmeraldPLUS offering, you will have the opportunity to attend an exclusive glassblowing presentation at the Glass Art Museum. Then, travel by coach to the picturesque village of Miltenberg, a place that perfectly encapsulates traditional Bavarian life.
Enjoy a guided tour of the village, as your local guide leads you down an intricate network of cobblestone streets, each adorned with colourful houses. Centuries ago, this area benefited from trade that was brought by river traffic, and this past affluence can still be seen today.
Alternatively, embark on an active walk to Mildenburg Castle, where a wonderful collection of artwork can be found inside of the castle that was once little more than a set of ruins.
Exclusive visit to the Glass Art Museum in Wertheim with presentation
Active walk to Mildenburg Castle
Guided tour of Miltenberg
Vineyard visit & Franconian wine (extra expense)
Relax on your Star-Ship this morning until we reach Rüdesheim, a town with a rich history of viticulture. When you arrive, ride the Winzerexpress to Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet Museum to see spectacular rare music boxes that have stood the test of time, showcased in a postcard-worthy building with a half-timbered façade.
Alternatively, enjoy an active walk through vineyards to see what makes this wine region so popular.
After lunch, sail through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Rhine Gorge, perhaps standing on the Sun Deck and watching for the castles and fortresses that pepper the surrounding hilltops.
Hike to Niederwalddenkmal
Visit to Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet Museum
Cruise along the Rhine from Koblenz to Cologne this morning, where an illustrious 2,000-year-long history awaits.
One of the oldest cities in the country, the Romans founded Cologne in 50AD and you'll find a number of ancient ruins, monuments and medieval structures as reminders.
Enjoy a walking tour of the city today, as your local guide takes you through the Old Town, passing ancient bridges that survived the air raids of WWII, including the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cologne Cathedral and its filigree twin towers, an iconic part of the city’s skyline.
This evening, your crew will be delighted to welcome you to your farewell dinner.
Guided walking tour of Cologne’s Old Town
This morning, board a glass top canal boat for a cruise down the UNESCO World Heritage-listed canal system that weaves across Amsterdam, passing elegant merchant’s residences that reflect the prosperity of the Dutch Golden Age, a time when Amsterdam was an important trading centre. Afterwards, enjoy free time to explore at leisure.
Alternatively, explore on two wheels, cycling from the comfortable surrounds of your Star-Ship to Waterland, passing a number of quintessentially Dutch villages and traditional windmills along the way.
Guided bike tour to Waterland
Haarlem Discovery Visit (extra expense)
After breakfast, you will be transferred from your Star-Ship to the centre of Paris, the world-famous “City of Light”. There is something for everyone to enjoy in Paris, from its romantic ambience to its sought-after gastronomy. Your journey through the heart of Europe includes a three-night stay in centrally located accommodation.
Today, the wide and leafy boulevards of Paris are yours to discover with a local guide, as you witness the sheer majesty of the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Arc de Triomphe. After your walking tour, board a river cruise along the Seine to see the city from a different angle, finishing at the iconic Eiffel Tower.
A guided tour of Paris and a Seine River cruise
A retro side car tour of Paris (extra expense)
The beauty of Paris is yours to enjoy today, as a full day of independent exploration leaves the entire city at your fingertips. Perhaps visit a Parisian museum to learn about the art legacy that exists here or make your way around the local cafés to learn more about Parisian cuisine. Your tour director will be available to help you to plan your day.
Tastes of Paris (extra expense)
After breakfast, you will be transferred from your hotel to the airport, taking memories of ancient Roman architecture and Parisian cuisine with you.
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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We had an outstanding trip down the Danube on Emerald Waterways. The food was amazing, the service was absolutely top-notch, the places we stopped (Passau, Linz and Cesky Krumlov, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest) were all wonderful in their own way. The options provided by Emerald (active vs. included, and the add-on activities) were just right. Our Cruise Director and the Activity Manager were very knowledgeable and attentive throughout our trip. As alway, Affordable Tours helped us book, and provided great follow-up care when we needed it.