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Christmas on the Danube

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Christmas on the Blue Danube

From £1,989 pp

Soak up all that Europe’s most cultured river has to offer, with its wealth of grand baroque architecture, medieval cities, picture perfect towns and the sights that inspired Strauss and Mozart. Stepping aboard you will appreciate the superb surroundings of your floating luxury hotel for the next seven nights with spacious and well-appointed cabins or suites, private bathrooms and meticulously prepared fine cuisine.

What’s Included:

  • Seven visits and tours including guided tours in Vienna, Salzburg or Linz, Budapest and Bratislava; and visits to Esztergom, Dürnstein and Melk Abbey
  • Live classical quartet recital on board
  • Cruise through the scenic Wachau, Austria’s premier wine region
  • Price includes full-board from dinner on your day of arrival until breakfast on your final day
  • Complimentary on-board tea and coffee
  • Complimentary on-board Wi-Fi (connection speeds may vary)
  • Return scheduled flights from 13 regional airports (a supplement may apply)
  • Five-star service from an English-speaking crew and knowledgeable local guides
  • Services of a Riviera Travel cruise director and concierge
  • All port charges, airport taxes and overseas transfers
  • No surcharges guaranteed
  • ABTA, ATOL and IATA protection
  • The services of a cruise director and tour manager
Danube - Budapest-panorama-city-skyline,-Budapest,-HungaryLowRes
Day 1 - Budapest

Arrive at the airport for your flight to Budapest from where you will be taken to your cruise ship, now glimmering in festive glory. The dedicated crew are there to welcome you on board, ensuring you settle in and familiarise yourself with this first-class floating hotel.

Your eyes will be wide with wonder as you take in the fabulous décor, with garlands adorning the staircases, lights as far as the eye can see and of course the majestic Christmas tree taking centre stage.

There’s always a sense of expectancy and excitement on the eve of a cruise, especially at Christmas time and, after an excellent dinner in the stylish restaurant, conversation is sure to revolve around the seasonal delights ahead.

Dinner

Day 2 - Esztergom

Overnight we have cruised upstream to Esztergom, one of Hungary’s oldest towns, a royal capital during medieval times and today the seat of the country’s archbishop.

We have a guided tour of the famous neoclassical basilica, standing sentinel over the Danube on the border with Slovakia, and boasting one of the world’s largest altarpieces and a wealth of priceless religious artefacts.

The castle is also worth exploring; it was the seat of government until the Ottomans invaded in the 16th century.

Nestling below are myriad atmospheric churches resonating with the sounds of choir, particularly enchanting at this special time of the year; this is the best of provincial Hungary and is little changed since Habsburg times.

There will also be time to browse the stalls at the Esztergom Christmas market, where Széchenyi Square has now been transformed into a winter spectacular, and for years has featured an ice rink and live music. Seek out those last minute gifts from the rustic wooden stalls, enjoy the friendly festive atmosphere and perhaps indulge in a slice of traditional chimney cake.

As you enjoy your first lunch on board we gently leave Esztergom in our wake, affording a fascinating opportunity to compare the different landscapes, towns and villages of Hungary on one river bank and of Slovakia on the other.

Wrap up in your winter best and take to the deck to enjoy the wonderful kaleidoscope of Christmas card scenery drifting by in the frosty air, then return to the warmth of the ship’s inviting lounge.

Day 2 - Esztergom

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 3 (Christmas Eve) - Bratislava

After a delicious breakfast, this morning we explore Slovakia’s fast-emerging capital city, Bratislava, on a guided tour. Until recently swathed in the drab uniformity of Communism, the city has rekindled the splendour of its imperial past in its beautifully restored old town.

Equally impressive is the imposing 17th-century castle commanding expansive views across the Danube. Christmas in Bratislava is an enchanting experience, with Hviezdoslav Square now dressed up for the special season, complete with a lit-up tram with cosy interior and joyous carols.

You’ll also have plenty of free time to explore the cobble-stoned streets of this captivating city – so what’s it to be? Why not head to the regal Primatial Palace? Built in the late 1700s in a classical style, the once home to the archbishop of Esztergom now holds a rare collection of tapestry works from the 17th-century.

Take the opportunity to view the traditional Christmas cribs in some of the churches or maybe wander the maze of streets, admiring the Christmas decorations, until you reach the main square. For a seasonal treat try the medovníky, these delicious honey and ginger biscuits are traditionally eaten at Christmas time in Slovakia.

This afternoon we cruise into Lower Austria, a peaceful, bucolic region and home to some of the country’s best wines. Head to the convivial atmosphere of the ship’s well stocked bar for your favourite aperitif before another excellent dinner is served.

Day 3 (Christmas Eve) - Bratislava

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 4 Christmas Day) - Melk

We awake on Christmas Day amidst the enchanting surroundings of the Wachau Valley where the landscape is blanketed with vineyards and dotted with ornamental villages. After breakfast you visit the remarkable Melk Abbey. Nothing quite prepares you for your first sight of this enormous honey-coloured building, standing resplendent above the surrounding countryside and perhaps even more atmospheric at Christmas time.

Originally built as a castle, it was gifted to the Benedictine Order in the 11th-century and, although reconstructed in Baroque style, it has remained a monastic school and monastery ever since. The Abbey is renowned for its 214-yard-long Emperor’s Gallery lined with portraits, many fine rooms and an ornate library. Later we re-join the ship for lunch and the final part of our cruise upstream through the pretty Nibelugengau, an inspiration to poets and also immortalised in the music of Wagner.

This evening enjoy tonight’s superb Gala Christmas Day dinner, expertly served by your attentive crew before further celebrations with newly made friends in the convivial bar

Day 4 Christmas Day) - Melk

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 5 - Salzburg or Linz

Reaching Linz, you will have the choice of two included excursions. You can stay in the city and take a guided walking tour, exploring the charming, decorated streets of the Baroque old town. At its heart you’ll see one of the finest squares in Austria, lined by grand pastel-coloured facades with an impressive central Trinity Column of white marble, crowned by a gilded sunburst.  There’s also the fortress-like castle, built high above the city by Emperor Friedrich III, now a museum housing a fine collection of nineteenth and twentieth-century artworks. Now embellished in seasonal splendour, take in the festive ambience with the glow of lights and the magnificent Christmas tree in the Hauptplatz.

Alternatively, join our included tour to Salzburg. Dominating the skyline of Salzburg is one of Europe’s largest stone fortresses, the Hohensalzburg, while beneath its walls, church domes and spires rise from the delightful Altstadt. Then there’s the wonderful Hellbrunn Palace and the splendid formal gardens of the Mirabell Palace.

This morning discover some of the city’s main sights in the company of an expert local guide, then you’re free to explore as you wish. Everywhere there are sights associated with the city’s most famous resident, Mozart, who wrote his first opera when he was 11!  Celebrate the day by the magnificent Christmas tree in Cathedral Square and perhaps reflect on the hauntingly beautiful lyrics of Silent Night. This carol was written by Joseph Mohr who was also born in Salzburg.  Please note lunch is not included on this full day excursion to Salzburg; however, the ship will offer a packed lunch.

After tonight’s excellent dinner on board, perhaps reture to the lounge for a nightcap, whilst we begin our cruise towards magnificent Vienna.

Day 5 - Salzburg or Linz

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 6 Vienna

During the early hours, our ship has stealthily crept into port and you awake to find yourself in twinkling Vienna. There are few places that can so delightfully evoke the spirit of Christmas than here – where the elegant imperial facades, their decorations glittering in the glow from a thousand Christmas lights, the sound of classical carols floating on the crisp air and the irresistible smell of candyfloss and roasted chestnuts is truly reminiscent of Christmas from a bygone age. There has been a Christmas market here since the Middle Ages and today the markets held over the festive period sell a huge range of seasonal gifts and mouth-watering treats.

After breakfast you enjoy a guided tour seeing the main sights such as St Stephen’s Cathedral and the impressive Hofburg complex, former royal court, now home to a collection of museums, the Vienna Boys’ Choir and the world famous Spanish Riding School.  There will also be time to explore the Christmas markets, or if you prefer you can retreat to the refined, yet cosy elegance of a traditional Viennese café for an indulgent Sachertorte.

After lunch on board we visit the magnificent Schönbrunn Palace. Once the summer residence of the Habsburgs, this former royal residence now houses a range of world-class museums and galleries. The palace also hosts a superb Christmas market, specialising in traditional handicrafts and nostalgic toys. After tonight’s excellent dinner on board, retire to the lounge for a nightcap and enjoy a classical Christmas recital – a fitting musical finale to our day as the ship glides away from this captivating city.

Day 6 Vienna

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 7 - Budapest

We have sailed overnight and on waking, draw back the curtains to see the early morning mist rising over this gentle pastoral landscape, draped in a blanket of glistening frost. After breakfast, seek out a good vantage spot in the lounge, sink into a comfy chair and watch this lovely slideshow of winter wonderland scenery effortlessly gliding by – what could be more relaxing! For the more energetic, perhaps a visit to the ship’s fitness centre to work off some of those delicious meals or head up to the sun deck to enjoy the bracing river breeze as the Captain skilfully navigates our return course to the Hungarian capital. Our final lunch is served during which Budapest’s majestic skyline comes into view.

Budapest is always an atmospheric and fascinating city, but at this time of the year, the muted colours of its magnificent archaic spires and grand domes are especially captivating on the wintry skyline. The historic and palatial buildings, the superb Roman ruins and exquisite Art Nouveau architecture provide a truly impressive backdrop for the city’s acclaimed Christmas markets.

This afternoon we enjoy a guided tour seeing the main sights such as the iconic Parliament Building and the ancient Castle District with its winding streets and panoramic views. There’s free time to explore under your own steam and wander the markets. Soak up the traditional atmosphere as classical music fills the air along with the delicious smells of spicy gingerbread and peppery goulash – and don’t forget the mulled wine to stave off the winter chill!

This evening the magnificent Captain’s Dinner closes with a Hungarian Christmas folklore show, giving you time to bid farewell to your travelling companions and reflect on all the inspirational places, sights and sounds you have experienced on this very magical festive cruise.

Day 7 - Budapest

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 8 Budapest - Return Home

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

Breakfast

Riviera Travel - MS William Wordsworth

MS William Wordsworth is one of Riviera Travel’s new ‘all suite’ ships.  Launched in 2019 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.

Riviera Travel Emily Bronte Atrium

Onboard Features & Facilities

  • 88 comfortable outside suites, most with French balconies, some with private balcony
  • For and aft sundecks with sun-shades, deck chairs & loungers
  • ‘Whirlpool’ splash pool
  • Stylish restaurant with open seating with tables of 4 and 6
  • Main lounge with bar & piano
  • Bistro bar & restaurant
  • Complimentary coffee and tea throughout the day with speciality patisseries in the afternoon
  • Elevator to Diamond, Ruby and Emerald decks
  • Wellness area, massage, nail salon and hairdresser
  • Onboard souvenir shop*
  • Laundry service*

* Payable locally.

Accommodation & Amenities

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.      

Deluxe Balcony Suite

269 ft² – Diamond (Upper) Deck

  • Floor to ceiling glass doors opening to a private balcony with table and chairs and additional floor to ceiling windows
  • Enhanced sitting area
  • Larger private marble bathroom with WC, wash basin & glass shower enclosure with Crabtree and Evelyn bath products, Bathrobes and slippers
  • Hotel style beds, the best mattresses and fine cotton bed linen
  • A bed turn down service operates during dinner
  • Seating area with 2 chairs and a table
  • In room safe, mini-bar, hair dryer, full-length mirror, plenty of storage space & telephone
  • Tea & Coffee making facilities
  • Flat-screen televisions with satellite TV channels, GPS and for & aft camera views.
  • Individually controlled air-conditioning
Riviera Travel Thomas Hardy Deluxe Balcony Suite
Riviera Travel Emily Bronte Stern Suite

Superior & Superior Stern Suite

247 ft² – Diamond & Ruby (Upper & Middle) Deck

  • Floor to ceiling glass doors opening to French balcony
  • Enhanced sitting area
  • Marble bathroom with WC, wash basin & glass shower enclosure with Crabtree and Evelyn bath products
  • Hotel style beds, the best mattresses and fine cotton bed linen
  • A bed turn down service operates during dinner
  • Seating area with 2 chairs and a table
  • In room safe, mini-bar, hair dryer, full-length mirror, plenty of storage space & telephone
  • Tea & coffee making facilities
  • Flat-screen televisions with satellite TV channels, GPS and for & aft camera views.
  • Individually controlled air-conditioning

Diamond Deck & Ruby Deck Suite

183 ft² – Diamond & Ruby (Upper & Middle) Deck

  • Floor to ceiling glass doors opening to a French balcony
  • Private marble bathroom with WC, wash basin & glass shower enclosure with Crabtree and Evelyn bath products
  • Hotel style beds, the best mattresses and fine cotton bed linen
  • A bed turn down service operates during dinner
  • Seating area with 2 chairs and a table
  • In room safe, mini-bar, hair dryer, full-length mirror, plenty of storage space & telephone
  • Tea & Coffee making facilities
  • Flat-screen televisions with satellite TV channels, GPS and for & aft camera views.
  • Individually controlled air-conditioning

 

Riviera Travel Thomas Hardy Stern Suite
Riviera Thomas Hardy Lower Deck Cabin

Emerald Deck Suite

172 ft² –  Emerald (Lower) Deck

  • Smaller Fixed Window
  • Private marble bathroom with WC, wash basin & glass shower enclosure with Crabtree and Evelyn bath products
  • Hotel style beds, the best mattresses and fine cotton bed linen
  • A bed turn down service operates during dinner
  • Seating area with 2 chairs and a table
  • In room safe, mini-bar, hair dryer, full-length mirror, plenty of storage space & telephone
  • Tea & Coffee making facilities
  • Flat-screen televisions with satellite TV channels, GPS and for & aft camera views.
  • Individually controlled air-conditioning

 

Riviera Travel - Suite Ship Deck Plan
DepartShipEmbarkFrom  
21/12/201William WordsworthBudapest£1989Cabin Upgrades
Lower DeckCabin172 ft², Fixed Windows£1989  
Middle DeckSuite183 ft², French Balcony£2339  
Middle DeckSuperior Suite247 ft², French Balcony£2639  
Upper DeckSuite183 ft², French Balcony£2489  
Upper DeckSuperior Stern Suite247 ft², French Balcony£2639  
Upper DeckSuperior Suite247 ft², French Balcony£2739  
Upper DeckDeluxe Balcony Suite269 ft², Outside Balcony£3039  
DepartCarrierSupplement  
BirminghamJet2£30
DublinRyanairNil
East MidlandsJet2Nil
GatwickEasyjetNil
HeathrowBritish Airways£30
Leeds BradfordJet2£30
ManchesterJet2£50

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.

Why Choose This Cruise?

Riviera Travel’s river cruises have caused a bit of a revolution in the UK market and sell more river cruises in the UK than any other river cruise line.  A range of brand new ships, styled classically have impressed with their high standards for the price.  Riviera’s 30 years of land-touring experience are 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.