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Cruise the Heart of Europe - Five-star MS Thomas Hardy

  • Cruise the Heart of Europe - Five-star MS Thomas Hardy

This fifteen-day tour takes us on an amazing journey from Cologne on the Rhine, to Vienna and finally Budapest on the banks of the Danube. Our journey south takes in many incredible visits and sites, starting in Koblenz and then onto the picturesque town of Boppard, continuing through the stunning Rhine Gorge and onto beautiful Rüdesheim. Next, we cruise to Mainz and then along the River Main to Miltenberg, one of Germany’s best-preserved medieval villages. We continue towards Würzburg situated at the head of Germany’s ‘Romantic Road’. Next day it’s onto Bamberg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We stop in Nuremberg for a guided tour of this historic city. From here we pass through the Main-Danube canal to the picturesque river Danube, and Regensburg. We visit Passau and then onto Melk and culminate our time in Austria in classical Vienna, home of Strauss and many great composers, offering up so much wonderful architecture. Cruising into Hungary, we soon arrive in imperial Budapest, on the picturesque Danube. After a guided tour of this palatial city we spend the evening on board, where the Captain hosts another spectacular dinner, an excellent finale to this most comprehensive and yet relaxing cruise. Riviera Travel » code: RCEH » id: 31621

15 Days from £2,799 per passenger

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Double Occupancy
(price per person)
Definite Departure
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Travelling to...


  • Hungary
  • Austria
  • Germany
  • Europe
  • Eastern Europe
  • Central Europe
  • Western Europe

Day 1


Depart on your flight to Düsseldorf from where a coach will take us to the ship. Or take a late morning Eurostar from London St. Pancras International arriving in Brussels approximately two hours later, where a coach will take us over the German border to our ship. Moored in Cologne, the dedicated crew will welcome us aboard ensuring you settle into your comfortable and extremely well equipped cabin and familiarise yourself with the ship before dinner.


Day 2


This morning we call at historical Koblenz, dominated by its immense fortress overlooking the confluence of the Rhine and the Moselle and take a guided walk around the old town exploring its twisting streets and picturesque squares. During lunch we cruise to Boppard, ‘Pearl of the Rhine’, wonderfully situated on a sweeping meander, it really is one of the most attractive villages in the Rhineland. Its delightful stone quayside is lined by boats of all descriptions against a backdrop of archetypical half-timbered buildings and cobbled streets, all surrounded by Germany’s finest Roman walls.


Day 3


Today, we experience the passage through the Rhine Gorge. Here the valley narrows, the current is swifter and the towering valley sides soar to more than 1,000 feet, crowned at every turn by the precarious ruins of castles that once held sway over passing mariners. We pass rocky outcrops and around endless twisting bends to the famous Loreley Rock, where legend has it, enchanting maidens lured unsuspecting sailors to watery graves. Next we call at Rüdesheim, a true Rhine wine town with many famous wines available to sample, take a quiet stroll through the vineyards or maybe a cable car ride to the great statue of Germania.


Day 4


This morning, we take the short cruise to the confluence of the rivers Rhine and Main at the fascinating town of Mainz. An important Roman city for 500 years, with the largest amphitheatre north of the Alps, it is home to the fine St Stephen’s church where light flickers through beautiful blue stained glass windows with their intricate biblical figures – a masterpiece by the great artist Marc Chagall. Mainz’s most famous son though is Gutenberg, father of modern printing, and there is an excellent museum where you can see two original Gutenberg Bibles, the earliest books ever printed in Europe. During dinner our ship cruises up the River Main.


Day 5


This morning, we cruise between dense forests to the beautiful small town of Miltenberg. You can explore one of Germany’s best preserved medieval villages as you wish. During lunch we cruise around the first of the many meandering bends which so characterise the River Main, pausing at Wertheim, one of those towns which is a joy to stumble across, completely unknown on the mainstream tourist trail. Please note: when cruising from Mainz to Passau the sun deck is closed due to low bridges.


Day 6


This morning, we cruise between dense forests to the beautiful small town of Miltenberg. You can explore one of Germany’s best preserved medieval villages as you wish. During lunch we cruise around the first of the many meandering bends which so characterise the River Main, pausing at Wertheim, one of those towns which is a joy to stumble across, completely unknown on the mainstream tourist trail. Please note: when cruising from Mainz to Passau the sun deck is closed due to low bridges.


Day 7


Today we visit Bamberg, quite simply one of the most beautiful small towns in Europe, easily on a par with Prague. The masterpiece we see today began its artistic journey during the 11th century, when the Emperor Heinrich II planned a capital as grand as Rome and selected Bamberg as the location for this. Although it never became as large as Rome, for its size it has a wealth of fine buildings and is stunning with its network of canals like Venice and the fascinating tangle of lanes, lined with merchant’s houses.


Day 8


We call at Nuremberg, regarded as the capital of Germany’s First Reich, the era that lasted 1,000 years, and was central to the trade routes and power of the Roman Empire. This morning’s guided tour takes in the great ramparts and many fine historic buildings from Nuremberg’s Imperial Age including the Kaiserburg Castle, Craftsmen’s Court, Church of St Lawrence and the Market Square with its beautiful fountain.


Day 9


This morning we cruise along the Main-Danube canal to Kelheim and the Danube. We visit Regensburg, originally a Roman garrison guarding the most north-westerly point of their empire, dominated by its cathedral, the finest in Bavaria. This afternoon, take a stroll into the historic city centre and visit the Altes Rathaus, the town hall with its great Gothic hall. Regensburg calls itself Germany’s best preserved medieval city, and it’s hard to argue as you wander amongst the glorious winding streets and alleyways of the old town.


Day 10


Passau is our last town in Germany, nestling as it does where the Danube gorge widens. Our fascinating journey continues into Austria, synonymous of course, with superb scenery but this beautiful section of the valley is something of a secret. Relax aboard the ship today, as we cruise through the narrowing valley.


Day 11


On a striking and resplendent rocky bluff above the town of Melk is an enormous Benedictine Abbey which we visit this morning. This extraordinary building was originally a Hapsburg palace and subsequently bequeathed to the Benedictine order during the 11th century. Reconstructed in full Baroque style during the 18th century, the Abbey has many fine rooms and a stupendous library with more than 80,000 priceless volumes including many intricate medieval manuscripts. As lunch is served we cruise further downstream, through the delightfully picturesque Wachau valley, before approaching our next destination, the city of Strauss: Vienna.


Day 12


Vienna, one of the real gems of Central Europe, with ornate architecture, elegant cafés, aristocratic palaces, imposing cathedrals and everywhere the romantic music of the great composers. As capital of the Hapsburg Empire, there is an absolute wealth of things to see. In its heart there is St Stephen’s Cathedral, then the Hofburg, now home to the crown jewels and relics of the Holy Roman Empire, the Vienna Boys’ Choir and the famous Spanish Riding School. This morning we will have a guided tour and the afternoon is free.


Day 13


This morning we explore Slovakia’s fast emerging capital city, Bratislava. Until recently swathed in the drab uniformity of communism, the city has shrugged off its greyness, rekindling the splendour of its imperial past, so evident in its beautifully restored baroque old town. Wander the winding streets to the Main Square where you will find the former old town hall now housing a museum dedicated to the history of the cityand where you may climb the tower for some lovely views. Equally impressive is the great 17th century fortress which dominates the city with its commanding expansive views across the Danube. Or head for the Primatial Palace with its fabulous Hall of Mirrors and rare collection of 17th century English tapestries or for something less strenuous perhaps enjoy a freshly ground coffee or homemade lemonade in one of the many bars of cafés. This afternoon our cruise reaches another highlight as we navigate the dramatic Danube Bend, one of the most spectacular stretches of this mighty river. Winding its way through a narrow twisting valley, flanked by high mountains and verdant hillsides, have your camera at the ready for some quite exceptional river views as we pass ancient ruins of castles and historic towns. Our journey’s end is reached as we cruise into Budapest, enjoying spectacular views of this breathtaking city on our stately final approach.


Day 14


We arrive in imperial Budapest, Dominated by the castle, Budapest is a collage of palatial buildings, baroque churches with archaic spires and a wonderful atmosphere enhanced by the unique sound of Hungary’s music and language. This afternoon we enjoy a guided tour and this evening the ’Captain’s Dinner’ will take place.


Day 15


Transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK.


Return flights from selected airports or outbound Eurostar from St Pancras and inbound flight from Budapest to selected airports 14 night's full-board accommodation


Admire the stunning scenery of the Rhine Gorge, Main and Danube Guided tour of 2,000 year-old Koblenz Stop in picturesque Boppard Rüdesheim, a true Rhineland wine town Visit to Mainz, once home to Gutenberg - father of modern printing See Miltenberg, one of Germany’s best preserved medieval towns Experience Wertheim, one of the most attractive medieval towns in Germany Guided tour of baroque Würzburg Walking tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bamberg Tour of Nuremberg, steeped in ancient and modern history  Visit to the amazingly preserved medieval city of Regensburg Stop in Passau, the confluence of the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers Visit Melk Abbey, the majestic Benedictine monastery Guided tour of Vienna, city of the Hapsburgs Day in Budapest with guided tour, absorb the unique atmosphere
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