DAY 1: Budapest (Embark)
Arrive at the Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer, or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.
DAY 2: Budapest
Located on opposite sides of the Danube, Buda and Pest each has a distinctive character and allure all its own. You’ll get a taste of this dynamic capital city with your choice of tours, and visit Budapest’s celebrated Christmas market—one of the largest in Europe. Christmas has been celebrated in Budapest for a thousand years, since the time of St. Stephen, the king who founded the nation of Hungary and encouraged the spread of Christianity throughout his realm, but the city began as a Roman encampment almost a millennium before that. Over the centuries it’s been controlled by Germans, Austrians, Ottomans and Communists, all of whom have left traces. Today you’ll have a chance to experience some of the holiday traditions of this beautiful city.
Choice of Budapest city tour with Christmas Market or “Do as the Locals Do” Budapest walking tour with Christmas Market
A special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.
DAY 3: Cruising the Danube River, Bratislava
Once hidden from the world behind the “Iron Curtain,” Slovakia retains an air of mystery and intrigue, and its small capital city has an unexpectedly colorful history. You’ll learn more about Bratislava’s past from a local expert and also visit the local Christmas market—a relatively new (and thoroughly delightful) tradition for Slovakians. How do you say “Merry Christmas” in Slovakian? “Veselé Vanoce!” Today you’ll arrive in the capital city of Slovakia, Bratislava. The heart and soul of Slovakia, Bratislava is full of surprises. The city straddles the mighty Danube and has played a leading role in the politics and culture of the region for many centuries. Following Ottoman incursions into Hungary in the 16th-century, Bratislava, then known as Pressburg, became the capital of Hungary in 1536 and retained that status under the Habsburgs well into the 19th-century. As a result of its longtime imperial prominence, the city is a melting pot of cultures and architectural styles, including Gothic, baroque and art deco. Unlike cities with venerable Christmas markets, Bratislava just established its first holiday market in 1993. But the Slovakians have quickly embraced the seasonal traditions of their Austrian and Hungarian neighbors— and you’ll get to embrace them as well.
Bratislava walking discovery tour with Christmas Market
DAY 4: Vienna
Renowned for its art and architecture, its classical music, its decadent pastries and its lengthy list of famous former residents, the refined city of Vienna is a cultural treasure trove. Experience the city with your choice of tours, as well as something extra special—VIP access to an extraordinary collection of art. To see such masterpieces in complete privacy is an experience reserved solely for Uniworld guests. Tonight, enjoy a concert of Mozart and Strauss at a Viennese palace. The grand dame of the Danube, Vienna was the heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and remains, to this day, the political and cultural center of Austria. Klimt painted here; Beethoven and Mozart composed here; Freud developed his theories here. It’s a treasure trove of splendid architecture, astonishing art collections and inviting cafés—and it’s yours to enjoy.
Exclusive “Morning with the Masters” at the Vienna Art History Museum
Choice of “Taste of Christmas” Vienna walking tour or Vienna city tour with Christmas Market
DAY 5: Krems, Cruising the Wachau Valley
One of the most beautiful abbeys in Austria is still an active Benedictine monastery, but a monastery the likes of which you’ve never seen—Napoleon himself once laid his head here in the lavish imperial quarters. With its 14th-century stained glass windows, the abbey’s jewel box of a church is the perfect setting for a soul-stirring concert of organ music. Back onboard, enjoy a scenic cruise through the UNESCO-protected Wachau Valley. The fairytale town of Krems, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) west of Vienna, is your first port of call in the astonishingly beautiful Wachau Valley. Both the millennium-old town and the valley itself have been designated UNESCO World Heritage sites; today you’ll have a chance to see why.
Choice of Benedictine Monastery Göttweig Abbey with organ concert or Krems town visit
You’ll want to find a comfortable seat in the lounge or on the Sun Deck today as your ship cruises through the Wachau Valley. Over the eons, the Danube cut a gorge through the foothills of the Bohemian Mountains, resulting in a 19-mile (30-kilometer) stretch of riverine scenery so beautiful; UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Landscape. Castle ruins dominate hilltops; baroque church towers appear on the riverbanks, marking historic villages and splendid abbeys; and vineyards and apricot orchards cling to the rocky slopes. Some of Austria’s finest white wines are produced from grapes grown on the dry-stone terraces above the river, where grapes were first planted 2,000 years ago.
DAY 6: Linz (Salzburg)
Mozart’s birthplace of Salzburg is nestled in a glorious alpine setting that sparkles like a winter wonderland this time of year. Fans of The Sound of Music may recognize locations from the Oscar-winning film in the city’s Old Town, the site of a grand cathedral and an absolutely enchanting Christmas market. Your ship docks in Linz today. From there, you’ll travel to the elegant alpine city of Salzburg for an enchanting full-day excursion.
Choice of Full-day Salzburg walking discovery tour with Christmas Market or Linz town and country: cider farm visit with Christmas Market
DAY 7: Passau
Passau is a crossroads in more ways than one—three rivers meet here and three nations nearly do, making for a fascinating cultural mosaic. Get to know the town with a guided stroll, then visit the local Christmas market on the square in front of the cathedral. Later, enjoy a traditional holiday celebration in a festively decorated barn.
Choice of Passau walking discovery tour with Christmas Market or Bavarian Christmas celebration in a country barn
A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.
DAY 8: Passau (Disembark)
Disembark the ship in Passau. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer, or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Munich Airport for your flight home.