Join John Simpson, Martin Bell and Alastair Bunkall on this incredible journey through the Balkans.
We start by exploring the stunning sights of Kalocsa, Pecs and Belgrade with its magnificent Kalemegdan Fortress. Then it’s off to Pleven passing through the Iron Gates Gorge and the Djerdap locks before visiting Bucharest. Known as ‘little Paris’ this gem of a capital city will capture your heart with its romantic buildings and tree-lined boulevards. Then we explore the very best of The Danube Delta and enjoy a cruise through Europe’s largest area of wetlands and marshlands – a UNESCO-listed site.
From here we see Constanta where you can explore it’s charming Old Town and museums, Veliko Tarnovo and the village of Arbanassi. After taking a scenic drive to the spectacular rock formations at Belogradchik we visit Lepenski Vir – one of the most important Mesolithic archaeological sites in Serbia before travelling to Novi Sad, Osijek and Vukovar. Finally, we discover the imperial city of two halves – Budapest.
As the BBC’s world affairs editor John Simpson CBE has had a distinguished career. During the Iranian revolution he flew to Tehran with Ayatollah Khomeini, he dodged bullets in the Tiananmen Square massacre, danced on top of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and was on hand for the revolutions in Czechoslovakia and Romania. His many books include We Chose To Speak Of War And Strife: the World Of the Foreign Correspondent as well as novels including his latest thriller, Moscow, Midnight.
Former soldier, war correspondent and author Martin Bell is a former BBC correspondent, MP and Unicef Ambassador who has reported from Vietnam, the Middle East and Northern Ireland as part of a wide-ranging career as a journalist. As well as his distinguished reporting, he is the author of The End of Empire: Cyprus – A Soldier’s Story, a poignant memoir recounting his national service in the 1950s during the EOKA rebellion in Cyprus.
Alistair is defence and security correspondent for Sky News, covering global security issues from conflict to counter-terrorism. He regularly files from the frontlines in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, North Korea and NATO’s eastern border with Russia – as well as the UK. He has been given unprecedented access to some of the UK’s most secretive establishments: GCHQ, the Trident nuclear deterrent, the country’s highly secure air command bunker and the UK’s covert drone base in the Middle East.
One of the greatest journalists of his generation, John Simpson is the BBC’s most senior news broadcaster. He joined the BBC in 1966 and has since reported from 140 countries including 42 war zones. John has interviewed at least 200 world leaders and been awarded three Baftas, an Emmy and a CBE along the way. You’ll hear him speak in an intimate setting on board as he waxes lyrical about his career and signs copies of his book. You’ll also have the chance to pose him your own questions during a private Q&A session.
With an equally impressive resumé, Martin Bell joined the BBC as a 24-year-old reporter in Norwich in 1962. During his 30 years at the corporation, he covered 11 conflicts all over the world, among them Vietnam, the Middle East, Nigeria, Angola and Northern Ireland. He served as diplomatic correspondent, Washington correspondent and Berlin correspondent. Voted Royal Television Society’s Reporter of the Year in 1977 and 1993, he was awarded an OBE in 1992. He is also the author of The End of Empire: Cyprus – A Soldier’s Story. Martin will join you for a tour of Vukovar and deliver an exclusive talk.
Alistair Bunkall will give an exclusive talk, followed by a private question and answer session. His reporting career has taken him to Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and South Sudan among other places. He is known for his access to some of the UK’s most secretive establishments.
The ‘true’ Iron Gates is a single narrow gorge, but the name covers an entire 83-mile stretch of valleys where towering limestone cliffs plunge into the depths below. As you pass through the Great Kazan, where the river narrows to just 500 feet, you’ll see the huge sculpture of the Romanian hero Decebalus carved into the rock. At over 130 feet high it is the largest rock relief in Europe – it even dwarfs the US presidents at Mount Rushmore.
Despite its past, Belgrade is a forward-looking city and a delightful and varied place to explore. You’ll enjoy a guided tour, seeing all the main sights such as the cathedral, Republic Square and Prince Michael Street with its wealth of 19th-century buildings.
On your guided tour of the Romanian capital you’ll see the astonishing Palace of the Parliament, a colossal concrete extravagance commissioned by the communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu. Started in 1984 and still unfinished, it is the second-largest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon. Furnished with all the gaudiness expected from a heartless despot at the head of a bankrupt state, to some it’s a marvel, to others a monument to vanity.
You fly to Budapest, where a coach transfers you to your five-star cruise ship, moored in this beautiful city. The friendly crew will welcome you on board and help you settle into your spacious, luxuriously appointed suite. As dusk descends on the Hungarian capital, you’ll enjoy an evening of drinks with John Simpson and dinner.
Day 2 - Kalocsa & Pecs
Explore Kalocsa and its Baroque cathedral, Archbishop’s Palace and Ceremonial Hall before enjoying a scenic drive into the Puszta, Hungary’s Great Plain. After lunch, tour the rambling streets of Pécs and discover the 4th-century Christian mausoleum.
In the afternoon, John Simpson will sign copies of his book before giving an exclusive talk and Q&A in the evening.
Day 3 - Belgrade
This morning John will join you as you arrive in historic Belgrade, the only European capital built at the confluence of two rivers. Overlooking both rivers is Kalemegdan Park, which includes in its grounds the city’s iconic fortress, a stronghold built by the Celts, expanded by the Romans and besieged over a hundred times – all detailed in its military museum.
Day 4 - Iron Gates Gorge
Today you begin your passage through the magnificent Iron Gates Gorge. One of the most memorable stretches of the Danube, this is where the river cuts between the Carpathian and Balkan mountain ranges, forming part of the boundary between Serbia and Romania. In the evening, you’ll enjoy a talk and Q&A from Alastair Bunkall.
Day 5 - Pleven
Awake in Nikopol, a town dating back to Roman times, and after breakfast you drive across the Danubian Plain to Pleven. Surrounded by several thousand acres of parks and forest, the town is famed as the scene of a major siege in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877.
Day 6 - Bucharest
Today you visit Bucharest, with its tree-lined boulevards and elegant belle-époque villas – echoes of the hedonistic 1900s when it earned the nickname ‘Little Paris’.
Day 7 - Danube Delta
The Danube Delta is the best preserved and second largest river delta in Europe, consisting of 2,200 square miles of rivers, marshes, tree-fringed lakes and reed islands, where nearly 3,500 animal and fish species, and 1,700 types of plant, make their home. After lunch, take a guided excursion on smaller boats into the heart of this inspirational and tranquil place.
Day 8 - Constanta
Today you depart for the ancient city of Constanta with a history dating back over 2,500 years. Originally known as Tomis, it is said that Jason landed here with the Argonauts after finding the Golden Fleece.
Day 9 - Veliko Tarnovo, Arbanassi & Ivanovo
Today, you’ll visit Bulgaria’s most beautiful city – Veliko Tarnovo, the ‘City of the Tsars’ and former capital, located in a rugged landscape entangled by the meanderings of the Yantra River. Later head to the village of Arbanassi, set high on a plateau. End the day with a visit to the Churches of Ivanovo, hewn into the solid rock during the 12th century.
Day 10 - Belogradchik
After lunch you moor in Vidin, home to the Baba Vidin, the only entirely preserved medieval fortress in the country. From there, you drive into the Belogradchik Rocks – unique and dramatic, they cover an area of 35 square miles, some reaching as high as 600 feet.
Day 11 - Iron Gates & Lepenski Vir
This morning’s cruising brings us once again to the dramatic splendour of the Iron Gates Gorge, at the heart of Serbia’s Djerdap National Park. This afternoon you moor in Donji Milanovac and take the short drive to Lepenski Vir, one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe, dating back to 9,500 BC.
Day 12 - Novi Sad
The numerous fortresses along the Danube are reminders that the area has been fought over for centuries and this morning you pass one of the most impressive – the medieval Smederevo Fortress. After a lazy day moor for a guided tour of Novi Sad, Serbia’s second-largest city, in the shadow of the Fruska Gora mountain.
Day 13 - Osijek & Vukovar
Today you cross into Croatia and you will be joined by Martin Bell for a guided tour of Vukovar, the country’s largest river port, located at the confluence of the Danube and Vuka Rivers. You then then drive to the historic city of Osijek, much of which has been restored, but some buildings still bear the scars of the civil war. This evening, Martin will deliver a talk and Q&A session.
Day 14 - Budapest
Enjoy a guided tour, including the iconic Parliament Building, the National Gallery with its huge collection of Hungarian masterpieces, and the Matthias Church with its intricate rose windows, before Martin Bell will sign copies of his book for you.
Day 15 - Return Home
Today at the appropriate time you return to the airport for your return flight.
Robert Burns is one of Riviera Travel’s new ‘all suite’ ships. Launched in 2018 she offers excellent standards of accommodation consistent with Scylla’s (the ship operator) other 5 star ships. Standard Suites are large at 183 ft² with floor to ceiling windows opening to a rail on the middle and upper decks. Suites on the lower deck are slightly smaller at 172 ft² and feature high level windows. 6 Superior Suites and 4 Deluxe Balcony Suites are available on each ship at 247 ft² and 269 ft² respectively. Deluxe Balcony Suites, located on the upper deck, also feature a small private balcony.
This superb vessel carries 44 in-house trained crew members serving just 176 guests (similar size vessels may carry well over 190 passengers) giving the ratio which our experience proves is concurrent with our first class service levels.
An outstanding ship it would be very easy to just say ‘luxurious’ but it’s much more than that, a unique yet exquisite blend of understated taste, style and elegance at the highest level. A spacious new vessel as you enter a gleaming, richly coloured marble-floored lobby flooded with natural light from a stunning atrium above. The ship is beautifully illuminated throughout, including the exterior and imaginatively furnished with harmonious colour schemes, all designed to create the serene atmosphere reflective of the golden age of cruising.
* Payable locally.
88 spacious, elegantly appointed staterooms and suites range in size from 172 – 269 ft² or indulge even more in one of the 6 Superior suites or 4 Deluxe Balcony Suites. Most accommodations featuring floor to ceiling glass sliding doors opening to a French Balcony, so you can enjoy the ever-changing scenery however you wish.
|May 11||William Wordsworth||Budapest||Cabin Upgrades|
|Lower Deck||Cabin||172 ft², Fixed Windows||£3249|
|Middle Deck||Suite||183 ft², French Balcony||£3749|
|Middle Deck||Superior Suite||247 ft², French Balcony||£4099|
|Upper Deck||Suite||183 ft², French Balcony||£3899|
|Upper Deck||Superior Stern Suite||247 ft², French Balcony||Sold Out|
|Upper Deck||Superior Suite||247 ft², French Balcony||£4649|
|Upper Deck||Deluxe Balcony Suite||269 ft², Outside Balcony||Sold Out|
Please Note: Not all airports are available for every departure. For availability from your preferred departure point, and flight times please call for the latest information.
Solo Occupancy On the lower deck there are a limited number of standard cabins available for single occupancy without a supplement. For other cabins the sole occupancy price is twice the per person rate less £500.
Enquire now about this cruise & speak to one of our friendly river cruising team on 0800 471 4754.
Riviera Travel’s river cruises have caused a bit of a revolution in the UK market, selling more river cruises in the UK than any other river cruise line. A range of brand-new classically-styled ships have impressed with their high standards for the price. Riviera’s 30 years of land-touring experience have carried into their river cruise excursions, providing good value off-ship experiences. Whilst some may require higher levels of inclusions and finer dining, Riviera’s river cruises deliver consistently high standards for their loyal UK customers.
Journey through unspoilt lands, where lush landscapes are punctuated periodically by towns and cities that still look as they might have over a hundred years ago, to Romania's capital Bucharest.
Welcome to Eastern Europe, a region of untold natural splendour, where historic capital cities like Belgrade and Bucharest contrast wonderfully against landscapes of evocative beauty.
On this incredible journey through the Balkans, we start by exploring the stunning sights of Kalocsa, Pecs and Belgrade with its magnificent Kalemegdan Fortress.
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