The Blue Danube
Welcome aboard the exclusively chartered MS Swiss Diamond designed solely for river cruising. Unpack just once in your comfortable river-view stateroom and journey with us on a relaxing seven-night cruise along the most romantic section of the Danube River. Cruise from medieval Passau, Germany, past centuries old villages and through idyllic rolling landscapes to the former imperial city of Vienna, Austria, where you can explore palaces and sample the delights of traditional coffee shops. Next Bratislava, Slovakia, followed by the twin cities of cosmopolitan Buda and Pest, all which have witnessed a fascinating and turbulent history of Middle Europe. See splendid Baroque churches, cathedrals and abbeys contrasting with their natural scenic surroundings. Stroll old quarters of winding lanes and alleys lined with medieval houses. All meals are included as well as complimentary wine during dinner. Mayflower Tours’ expert staff will be onboard to make your cruise experience even more enjoyable.
After arriving in Munich, Germany, transfer to Passau, one of Germany’s oldest cities situated at the confluence of the Inn, Ilz and Danube rivers. Passau is a beautiful and fascinating fairytale town with a history dating back more than 2,000 years. During an included city tour, admire graceful arcades, cobblestone streets and see the breathtaking Baroque cathedral of St. Stephan which contains the largest pipe organ in Europe with 17,000 pipes.
In the 2nd century, Roman soldiers built a fortified camp on the riverbank, and in the 15th century, Emperor Frederick III built a castle high above the river. Today the city’s history is told through its Baroque architecture which surrounds an ancient market square. From Linz, you may choose to join an optional full-day excursion to Mozart’s Salzburg where in the Old Town you can walk the famous Getreidegasse shopping lane, past Mozart’s birthplace.
Melk and Dürnstein, Austria
Arriving early in the morning in Melk, join an optional excursion to visit the glorious and magnificent 900-year-old Benedictine Abbey (UNESCO World Heritage Site). This 1,000-year-old golden abbey perched high above the Danube boasts a breathtakingly opulent Baroque interior. See the Marble Hall and Library with its thousands of identically bound books and also its terraced gardens, which command breathtaking views over the river. Later return to your cruise ship and sail to the pretty medieval town of Dürnstein, “The Pearl of the Wachau,” set in Austria’s spectacular vine-terraced Wachau valley. Dürnstein, with its cobblestone streets and old burgher houses, is dominated by the magnificent baroque Stiftskirche with its blue façade and the ruined hilltop Kuenringerburg Castle, which served as a prison to England’s Richard the Lionhearted in 1193.
For over 600 years, the magnificent baroque capital city of Vienna was the seat of the mighty Habsburg Emperors, a heritage that has bestowed it with many dazzling palaces and monuments: the lavish Hofburg Palace, the impressive Vienna Opera House, the majestic Ringstrasse. The capital is also known as the “City of Music” for having once been the home of composers such as Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart and Johann Strauss. On an optional excursion, see some of the famous sights of this impressive city and visit Shönbrunn Palace, with its magnificent interiors and landscaped gardens. We will stay overnight in Vienna so that the following morning you can explore more of the city on your own.
Enjoy the views as your river ship sails to Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital (formerly known as Pressburg and for more than three centuries during the Middle Ages, capital of Hungary.) On an included panoramic tour of the city see the imposing Bratislava Castle built more than 1,000 years ago, the National Slovakian Theatre and Blumental Church. After passing through the Vienna Gate, discover Bratislava’s charming old quarter on foot, admiring St. Martin’s Cathedral, the coronation site of 11 Hungarian monarchs, and quaint central square with its fairytale Town Hall.
The striking skyline of 1,000-year-old Esztergom is dominated by the massive dome of the Basilica. This magnificent cathedral is reminiscent of St. Peter’s in Rome.
Be on deck for a breathtaking morning cruise into Budapest, one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. The city straddles both banks of the Danube linked by seven bridges, including the famous Chain and Elizabeth Bridges. An included morning sightseeing tour presents you with a fantastic opportunity to become acquainted with Hungary’s beautiful capital. Enjoy a photo stop at Gellert Hill, see historic Buda Castle, 500-year-old Matthias Church, St. Stephen’s Basilica, the distinctive Fisherman’s Bastion and the marvelous Royal Palace.
Enjoy some time in the afternoon to explore on your own and shop for renowned peasant embroidery, Herend porcelain and paprika. In the afternoon join an optional excursion to visit the Parliament with its lace-worked stone façade, the Opera House and Heroes Square. In the evening enjoy a Farewell Dinner onboard followed by a Hungarian Folklore show.
Your wonderful cruise comes to an end in the Hungarian capital of Budapest.
Days Two through Eight
Aboard the MS Swiss Diamond
Dates and Rates
All staterooms are outside staterooms and have two twin beds with large picture window,
private bathroom with shower, hair dryer, radio, television, individually controlled heating and air conditioning, safe, telephone.
Please add $75 for port charges
Call for air rates and schedules from your city to Munich, Germany and from Budapest, Hungary