Welcome to Budapest, where you will be met at the airport and transferred to your Emerald Cruises Star-Ship to be greeted by your friendly captain and crew.
This afternoon, enjoy free time to explore Eastern Europe’s liveliest city at leisure. The ‘Pearl on the Danube’ is a truly breathtaking sight, where dozens of lights adorn the stone bridges that cross the mighty Danube, separating both sides of the city.
This evening, join your fellow guests for dinner on board.
Please book your flight to arrive into Budapest prior to 05:00 PM.
This morning, we’ll reach Kalocsa, best known for its vibrant paprika festivals. You’ll venture to the Puszta, or Great Hungarian Plain, for a traditional performance showcasing the exceptional equestrian skills of the Magyar cowboys. Relax as you watch their spectacular horse parade and witness their exercise drills.
Tonight, your crew will welcome you for a welcome dinner & reception.
Puszta horse show
This morning, we will drive to Osijek, a historic university town full of leafy boulevards and promenades. Today, you will meet students from a local village who will then perform for you during your EmeraldPLUS excursion, before you embark on a walk around Osijek Fortress, nestled in the centre of the romantic old town.
Later, sail further down the Danube and into Serbia, where remnants of recent conflicts can be seen on the riverbanks.
Home-hosted lunch with a Croatian family
Meet the local students
Trek to Adica
Guided walking tour of Osijek Fortress
Vucedol Culture Museum (extra expense)
The capital of Serbia awaits you today, as a city tour introduces you to the highlights of one of Europe’s oldest cities, including Belgrade Fortress. Relax as your coach takes you through the centre of this peaceful city and witness the symmetrical façade of the Church of Saint Sava, one of the world’s largest church buildings. Stop for a tour of the Museum of Yugoslavia or learn about the history of Belgrade during a guided bike tour of the city.
This evening, relax in the Horizon Lounge and watch a traditional Serbian folklore show.
Serbian folklore evening show on board
Guided bike tour in Belgrade
Guided tour of Belgrade
National Opera Theatre tour (extra expense)
Routes of Nikola Tesla (extra expense)
In eastern Serbia, within the Majdanpek municipality, the town of Donji Milanovac sits on the right bank of the Danube. Today, you will have the opportunity to visit the Palaeolithic site of Lepenski Vir on an included excursion. Enjoy learning about the importance of this archaeological site and its illustrious history, spanning more than 8 millennia.
The day ends as we sail through the Iron Gates, a picturesque narrow gorge that meanders between the Carpathian Mountains and the European Alps.
Visit to Lepenski Vir archaeological site and museum
Visit to Lepenski Vir archaeological site and museum Donji Milanovac by bike
This morning, we’ll arrive in Vidin, a beautiful town in north-west Bulgaria, renowned for its wine production. Your included tour will introduce you to the best of Vidin’s viticulture, as you stroll through a local vineyard and enjoy a tasting of their produce.
Later, venture to Baba Vida, a medieval fortress whose name can be translated to mean “Granny Vida”. Alternatively, hike to Belogradchik Fortress, a well-preserved stronghold that sits against a series of impressive rock formations.
Hike to Belogradchik Fortress
Visit to a local vineyard with wine tasting & a visit to Baba Vida Fortress
Traditional Bulgarian pastry making
Today, your Star-Ship will cruise into Rousse, where you will have the opportunity to visit Veliko Tarnovo. The former capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, this medieval city was built atop three hills and its fortifications and cobbled streets are certain to delight history lovers.
Nearby, Arbanasi sits on a high plateau overlooking the Yantra River. Each street in the area is lined with traditional houses, and old churches offer centuries of exploration during your guided tour.
Alternatively, embark on a guided hike to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo, a complex of churches, chapels and monasteries.
Tonight, your crew will welcome you on board for a farewell dinner.
Choir concert in Arbanasi
Guided hike to Ivanovo Church
Tour of Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanasi
Paint & Wine (extra expense)
This morning, relax and enjoy the passing scenery as we drive towards Bucharest, including the Romanian city of Giurgiu, set amongst the mud flats and marshes of the Danube.
Visit the Spring Palace and the private residence of Nicolae Ceausescu, before enjoying free time to explore the city at leisure. Learn about Bucharest’s vibrant history on a guided coach tour, passing by the Palace of Parliament.
This evening, settle into the comfortable surrounds of your hotel and perhaps go for a stroll down one of the wide avenues or leafy boulevards that give Bucharest a distinctly French feel.
Guided drive through Bucharest with a visit to the Spring Palace
Today, your Transylvanian adventure will begin. You will board coaches to the town of Brasov, a harmonious mixture of traditional medieval charm and modern city life, located in the centre of Transylvania. On your way you will visit the world-famous Bran Castle, otherwise known as Dracula's Castle - the perfect setting for a vampire lord. Although there is no clear evidence that links Vlad the Impaler (Dracula) to Bran Castle, much of the myth surrounding Prince Vlad is true. Dracula ruled this extraordinarily beautiful place for a couple of decades in the 15th century.
Visit of Bran Castle en route to Brasov
Join us today in a panoramic city tour of Brasov, including a visit of the First Romanian School Museum and the St. Nicholas Church, leading learning centers of the Romanian community for centuries. The museum has been a centre for Romanian teaching and book printing for centuries. The oldest Romanian bible (printed on goats’ skin) is one of the many fascinating discoveries included in your visit. You will continue with a guided walk in Brasov's historical medieval downtown learning about its German heritage. The largest Gothic church east of Vienna, Black Church, is part of this immersive experience as well.
City tour of Brasov
The UNESCO fortified Church Prejmer (extra expense)
While being in the heart of Transylvania, you may want to explore on own some downtime in Brasov, visiting the Old Town Square, wander through the narrow colourful streets, or hike up Mount Tampa.
Sibiu & Clay Castle Valea Zanelor OR Sighisoara & Viscri Village (extra expense)
After breakfast, check out at the hotel and board coaches for a scenic drive back to Bucharest crossing south the Carpathian Mountains to reach Sinaia. Known as “Pearl of the Carpathians”, it is also the home of one of Romania’s most beautiful palaces - Peles Castle. This stunning building was built by the first King of Romania, Carol I of Hohenzollern – Sigmaringen, and used as summer residence. Inaugurated in 1883 the castle has 160 rooms with opulent decor and invaluable collections of art and furniture.
Peles Castle visit with lunch
After breakfast, it is time to say farewell to your fellow guests and transfer to the airport, taking memories of the Great Hungarian Plain and medieval fortresses 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.
Was great, food was good, cabin small but nice, excursions were good.
Emerald provided a very memorable experience. Everything went according to plan. There were many activity options to pick from. The food and drink and staff were excellent. I liked the pool and bikes which gave us additional activities to enjoy, which Viking Cruises did not offer when I went on a previous river boat cruise with them 3 years ago.
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The staff and crew of the ship was fantastic. Christmas Markets are not to be missed.