Enchanting Christmas and New Years Cruise

An 11-Day Uniworld River Cruises tour starting from $5,099

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Starting Price: $5,099 Printer Friendly Page
Tour Length: 11 Days
Countries Visited: Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia
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More Information About This Tour:
Tour Type:
 River Cruises
Tour Category:
Tour Operator: Uniworld River Cruises
Tour Code: UNI-10-2018
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Cities Visited:
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Experience the enchantment of the holidays on the Danube and ring in the New Year in grand style.

Celebrate the holiday season in truly extraordinary fashion with a special Uniworld itinerary that gives you the best of four different countries at their most magical time of year. Cruise the mighty Danube, visiting classical capitals like Budapest and Vienna. Hear the largest organ in Europe on Christmas Eve in Passau, and then ring in the New Year in elegant style with a gala dinner and ballroom dance in Budapest. Festive celebrations are plentiful during this cruise—what better way to create perfect holiday memories?

Commemorate a splendid musical heritage as you lift your voice and sing “Silent Night” in Oberndorf, where the beloved Christmas carol was composed, and delight in the music of Strauss and Mozart in Vienna, where the composers lived. Sip a cocktail with a princess in the seven-towered Artstetten Castle, and waltz in a Viennese palace. Spend Christmas Day in Salzburg and enjoy a holiday lunch within the walls of St. Peter’s Abbey. Discover the seasonal delicacies of Slovakia in Bratislava’s picturesque downtown, and enjoy the merriment of traditional hospitality in an Austrian wine village. Sample the finest of the Wachau Valley’s famous white wines in an exquisite baroque village. Ring out the old year and ring in the new with art, wine, and song, as you cruise through four nations during this most magical season.

Who will enjoy this cruise
Those who wish to celebrate a European Christmas and New Year in festive elegance. All lovers of art, music, and merriment.

 
 

YOUR CRUISE PACKAGE INCLUDES:

TRAVEL
10-night cruise in a riverview stateroom on the stately NEW S.S. Maria Theresa
All transfers on arrival and departure days

TASTE
All meals onboard, prepared using the finest and freshest ingredients
10 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 10 dinners
Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Receptions
Welcome and Farewell Gala Dinners
Unlimited beverages onboard, including fine wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks, specialty coffee and tea, and mineral water

EXPLORE
4 countries
9 days of excursions, including “Choice Is Yours” options, all fully hosted by English-speaking local experts
Guided “Taste of Christmas” and “Gentle Walking” programs
4 UNESCO World Heritage sites
Services of an experienced Uniworld Cruise Manager
State-of-the-art Quietvox portable audio- headset system on all shore excursions
Use of Nordic walking sticks

EXPERIENCE
Captivating onboard local entertainment
Cultural enrichment, including a Signature
Lecture: “The Sound of Christmas Music, from ‘Silent Night’ to Christmas Oratorio”

 
 

Day 1 - Munich
Day 1: Munich
Arrive at Munich 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 docked in Passau.

Day 2 - Passau
Day 2: 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 acquainted with the town’s baroque and rococo architecture, then visit the lively Christmas market in front of St. Stephan’s cathedral, home to Europe’s largest pipe organ.   Old-town Passau is built on a spit of land that looks almost like a ship with its narrow prow jutting into the water, a fitting shape for a city that has been an important center of river trade since it was founded by the ancient Romans. Today a local expert shows you the highlights of this delightful and accessible town located at the confluence of three rivers—the Danube, Inn and Ilz.
Featured Excursions:

Passau walking discovery tour
Join your local expert for a walk through picturesque lanes in the heart of Passau, stopping at the Town Hall to see its magnificent atrium, which boasts several massive works by the famous German painter Ferdinand Wagner, and pausing to admire the beautiful rococo stairway of the bishop’s New Residence. After much of the town burned to the ground in 1662 and again in 1680, the reconstruction involved many Italian artists, who gave Passau the baroque and rococo touches you see everywhere. Monumental St. Stephan’s Cathedral, built in glorious baroque style, forms the backdrop for the Passau Christmas Market.

Day 3 - Linz (Salzburg and Oberndorf)
Day 3: Linz (Salzburg and Oberndorf)
Mozart’s birthplace, Salzburg, is nestled in a glorious alpine setting that sparkles like a winter wonderland. 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 a wonderful Christmas market. You’ll also visit the nearby town of Oberndorf, where the world’s most beloved Christmas carol was composed and performed for the first time.   Your ship docks in Linz today. From there, you’ll travel to the alpine cities of Salzburg and Oberndorf for a delightful full-day excursion.
Featured Excursions:

Full-day Salzburg and Oberndorf
Spend Christmas Day in two Austrian towns famous for music. Salzburg is not only the birthplace of Mozart, Austria’s most famous composer, it is also where favorite scenes from The Sound of Music were filmed. Walk with your guide through the Mirabell Garden, the beautiful formal gardens where Maria sang “Do-Re-Mi” with her young charges, and through the heart of the UNESCO-designated Old Town, with its magnificent 17th-century cathedral. The archbishop’s splendid palace faces the square now named for Mozart, which has a statue of the great composer in the center; the house where Mozart was born is nearby. Enjoy lunch at the charming and historic Stiftskeller St. Peter before you head off to the little town of Oberndorf, where the most beloved Christmas carol of all time was performed for the first time. Joseph Mohr, Oberndorf’s priest, and Franz Xaver Gruber, the choir master in nearby Arnsdorf, composed “Silent Night” for a Christmas Eve service in 1818. Visit the chapel and see the little museum dedicated to the history of the carol.

Day 4 - Grein
Day 4: Grein
Your diary entry for today will say “Cocktails with the princess at the castle.” Raise a glass with a bona fide member of Austrian royalty at her 13th-century home, Artstetten Castle, and hear some intriguing tales about her Habsburg ancestors. Also on the agenda—a walk through charming Grein and a peek inside Austria’s oldest theater.   Grein, a picturesque little town dominated by a vast white Renaissance castle, is just one of your destinations today. You’ll also join a princess for cocktails in her historic castle.
Featured Excursions:

Grein walking tour and oldest Austrian theater
Ramble through charming Grein, which has long been associated with river shipping: The handsome 16th-, 17th- and 18th-century houses you’ll pass belonged to the prosperous river pilots who guided boats through the hazardous Danube waters here. Step inside the oldest theater in Austria to retain its original form—and function, since troupes of actors still perform in it. Local artisans transformed part of the city granary into a theater in 1791; you enter through the old City Hall (now a museum) and immediately enter the past. It’s not every theater that boasts both a box for Napoleon and sight lines for prisoners, but that’s exactly what Grein’s State Theater has. (Prisoners in the city jail, which was attached to the City Hall, could watch plays on stage from their cells.) Nor are those the only unusual features—the first three rows have seats found nowhere else: They can be folded up and locked, so the subscribers could make sure no one else used them.

Exclusive cocktail reception at Artstetten Castle with Princess Anita von Hohenberg
Meet a princess and a fascinating slice of history at the same time today. You’re invited to an exclusive cocktail reception at Artstetten Castle with Princess Anita von Hohenberg. The princess, a member of the Habsburg family, is a direct descendent of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, whose assassination in Sarajevo triggered WWI. The seven-towered castle, parts of which date back to the 13th-century, remains the private property of the Hohenberg family. It is the final resting place of the archduke and his wife, who are entombed in the family crypt, which you may explore. A museum within the castle walls is dedicated to Franz Ferdinand; you might be surprised to discover that the archduke, a stern military man if one judges him by his portrait, renounced his descendants’ claim to the Habsburg throne in order to marry for love.

Day 5 - Melk, Cruising the Wachau Valley, Dürnstein
Day 5: Melk, Cruising the Wachau Valley, Dürnstein
Melk Abbey has an unexpectedly opulent library filled not only with rare and precious books but also secret doors and optical illusions. After your visit, cruise the Wachau Valley to the tiny village of Dürnstein, where you can browse the shops selling apricot schnapps, hike up to the ruins of a castle, taste various mulled wines and attend an organ concert at a local church.   Your river adventure today takes you through one of the most beautiful regions in Austria, bookended by two picturesque and historic towns, Melk and Dürnstein.
Featured Excursions:

Melk Abbey with library visit
Melk Abbey was one of Europe’s most important centers of learning in the Middle Ages (Umberto Eco paid tribute to Melk’s significance to medieval scholarship in his novel The Name of the Rose, calling his narrator Adso of Melk), with a library that was famous throughout the continent. The medieval fortified abbey suffered damage during the 1683 Ottoman invasion, and so the Benedictines began an ambitious renovation project early in the 18th-century, turning the abbey into a magnificent example of baroque architecture and design. Local experts will take you through the Marble Hall, with its ornate painted ceiling featuring an allegorical scene paying tribute to Emperor Charles VI; the Emperors’ Gallery; and the awe-inspiring Abbey Church. After your tour of the abbey, you’ll have time to explore Melk on your own.  You’ll want to find a comfortable seat in the lounge 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 river banks, 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 that ripen on the dry-stone terraces above the river, where grapes have been grown for 2,000 years.

Dürnstein village stroll with exclusive spiced wine tasting and organ concert in a monastery church
Considering its diminutive size, the village of Dürnstein offers much to explore. The famous blue baroque tower of the abbey church is doubtless its best-known landmark, but the ruined castle above the town provides its most romantic tale. There Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned until he was found by his faithful bard, Blondel, and ransom could be raised—or so the legend goes. Walk with the Cruise Manager through the Kremser Gate, which dates to the 15th-century, and past 16th-, 17th- and 18th-century houses; it’s an up-close look at over 300 years of regional architecture. The inhabitants of this region have grown apricots and grapes for many centuries, and they have happily turned both into delectable beverages through the years. See what they do with the local wine in winter as you warm up with a mulled wine tasting after your walk.

Day 6 - Vienna
Day 6: 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, followed by an evening concert of Mozart and Strauss, performed at a 12th-century monastery.   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.
Featured Excursions:

Exclusive “Vienna, City of Arts” tour
The sheer number of artistic gems on view in Vienna is overwhelming. Let an art historian provide you with knowledgeable guidance as you visit two extraordinary— and quite different—collections. The objects assembled at the Kunstkammer Vienna almost defy description. For centuries the Habsburgs collected curiosities that caught their fancies: an automaton of the goddess Diana riding a centaur, a priceless salt cellar made by Benvenuto Cellini, Renaissance tapestries, exquisite gold communion cups, sculptures and ivories—the range is staggering. The museum was closed for more than a decade and only reopened in 2013; now these precious, idiosyncratic and magical pieces are once again on public view. The collections at the Belvedere, by contrast, concentrate on paintings and sculpture. The Belvedere palace complex, a triumph of baroque architecture, was built for Prince Eugene of Savoy, the Habsburg Empire’s leading general in the early 18th-century. The Upper Belvedere houses the world’s largest group of works by Gustav Klimt, including his exquisite The Kiss.

Exclusive “Taste of Christmas” Vienna walking tour
Vienna is a delicious experience for visitors (and for locals too, of course) at any time of the year, but it’s especially inviting during the winter holidays. Join an exclusive excursion that combines delectable treats of the season with a look at some of the highlights in the Innere Stadt—the historic city core. A drive along Prater and Ring streets provides a glimpse of the magnificent buildings that showcase the Habsburgs’ grandeur, followed by a closer look. This district offers a stunning array of Vienna’s gems in just a few blocks. Drop by the 14th-century Minorite Church to see the animated Nativity scene, then stroll with your guide down elegant shopping streets, including the Graben and Kohlmarkt (don’t miss the dazzling display of holiday confectionary art in the windows of Café Demel, which once supplied Empress Sissi with candied violets), step into a newly restored 15th-century courtyard house, see where Mozart once lived (though he moved often as his finances changed), peek into some of the Hofburg’s courtyards and churches, and discover as you go along the luscious flavors of Vienna’s favorite holiday sweets and savories. You’ll sample delicate vanilla crescents, the fruit- filled pastry called kletzenbrot, poppy-seed cake, fluffy apple krapfen (a type of doughnut) and air-dried Tyrolean ham and rye bread. The Christmas Market ended on December 24, but Vienna also cherishes its New Year’s traditions, so you’ll find market stalls offering the good-luck charms Viennese people exchange on New Year’s Eve: You may spot marzipan pigs, chocolate chimney sweeps, plush mushrooms, tiny metal ladybugs, even lucky pennies— they all symbolize prosperity and good fortune for the coming year. Pick up some good luck and a mug of mulled wine and roam on your own through this short-lived market before returning to the ship.

Exclusive Mozart and Strauss concert at Klosterneuburg
Vienna is linked inextricably with music, as so many great composers lived and worked here: Beethoven, Mozart, Strauss, Schubert, Mahler, Brahms—the list is as long as it is glorious. Enjoy an evening of chamber music at a historic and intimate venue, a concert hall tucked inside the 12th-century Klosterneuburg Monastery. The musicians will be drawn from Vienna’s world-class professionals and will play beloved works by Mozart and Strauss.

Day 7 - Vienna
Day 7: Vienna
An extremely rare treat awaits you today—early morning, VIP access to an extraordinary collection of art at one of the top fine arts museums on the planet. These artistic treasures were collected by the Habsburgs over many centuries, and to see them in complete privacy is a perk reserved solely for Uniworld guests.   Vienna’s art treasures are astonishing, and today you have a rare, pre-opening hours highlights tour of the Vienna Art History Museum’s collection of acclaimed masterworks.
Featured Excursions:

Exclusive “Morning with the Masters” at the Vienna Art History Museum with Vienna city tour
The Habsburgs assembled an astonishing collection of artistic treasures over the centuries, which formed the basis for the works now on display at Vienna’s preeminentmuseum, the Vienna Art History Museum (Kunsthistorisches). The doors open early especially for you as you join an art historian for a tour of some of the masterpieces gathered here: View a unique group of works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Vermeer’s Allegory of Painting, Raphael’s Madonna in the Meadow, and portraits by Rembrandt, Velazquez, Rubens, Titian, Tintoretto and Van Eyck, among others, in the Picture Gallery. Then move on to the Kuntskammer galleries, where you can see Benvenuto Cellini’s legendary salt cellar (the only gold sculpture he created that has survived to the present day) and hear its remarkable story. Your exclusive tour ends with a reception in the magnificent Cupola Hall, perhaps the architectural highlight of the splendid building.

Day 8 - Bratislava
Day 8: 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, then have free time to check out the whimsical street art and sample delicious delicacies found only in Slovakia.   Spend the morning relaxing onboard as your ship cruises along the Danube to Bratislava. The capital of Slovakia combines a historic downtown with a lively and bohemian art scene.
Featured Excursions:

Bratislava walking discovery tour
St. Martin’s Cathedral gives you a hint of the surprising history of this city. The Gothic church was built into the medieval city’s fortifications, and 19 Habsburg rulers were crowned inside it, including Empress Maria Theresa. That’s because Bratislava, then known as Pressburg, became the capital of Hungary after the Ottomans conquered Budapest in 1536, a status it retained until the middle of the 19th-century. Close to the cathedral you’ll find St. Michael’s Gate, the last remaining portal of the medieval wall—and your entryway into Bratislava’s Old Town, which blends Gothic, baroque and art deco structures with some less graceful reminders of the Communist era. The stately 18th-century Primatial Palace, in the center of Old Town, was the site where the Pressburg peace treaty was signed in 1805, in which Austria ceded a great deal of territory to Napoleon. Another 18th-century palace, Grassalkovich, is now the president of Slovakia’s official residence. Take some time after the tour to browse through the attractive shops in the lovely art deco buildings that line the squares; you can find a wide selection of traditional folk items at the ULUV (Slovak Folk Culture) shop. And you’ll definitely want to sample some of the local delicacies.  You can either return to the ship with your guide, passing the Slovak State Opera on a leisurely walk, or stay in town to continue exploring.

Day 9 - Budapest
Day 9: Budapest
Located on opposite sides of the Danube, Buda and Pest each has a distinctive character and allure all its own. Get a taste of this dynamic capital city with your choice of tours, then visit Budapest’s celebrated Christmas market—one of the largest in Europe. The highlight of the day comes after darkness falls, with a glorious New Year’s Eve gala dinner with dancing at a historic ballroom.   Budapest, formerly two towns, Buda and Pest, on opposite sides of the river, began as a Roman encampment in the second century, was overrun by Magyar horsemen in the 9th-century, and has been controlled by Ottomans, Austrians, Germans and Communists over the centuries, all of whom have left their mark. You may choose to get an overview of the city or delve into a single exceptional cultural institution.
Featured Excursions:

Budapest city tour
This panoramic tour is a wonderful way to get an overview of the city if you have never been here before. It will carry you from Heroes’ Square, created in 1896 to honor the thousand-year anniversary of Hungary’s founding and its greatest historical figures, past some of the city’s most striking architectural sights—Dohány Street Synagogue, the Hungarian National Museum, the State Opera House, St. Stephen’s Basilica and the truly stunning Parliament Building—to Castle Hill, which has been called the heart of the nation. The city of Buda began here when King Béla built a strong keep in 1243 as a defense against Mongol invaders; a castle replaced the simple fortress; and over the centuries other castles replaced that one. The current castle is primarily 18th-century; a museum dedicated to Budapest’s archaeological finds is housed there, and the Castle Hill district has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll go inside the magnificent 700-year-old Matthias Church, named for one of Hungary’s greatest kings, and then wend your way on foot to the picturesque Fisherman’s Bastion, whose seven fairytale-like towers represent the seven tribes that originally settled the region. It offers a glorious view of the city and the Danube below. Note: Visits to the interior of Matthias Church may not be possible on some weekends and Catholic holidays.

Budapest Opera House tour
It’s a monument both to national pride and to survival. Budapest’s splendid State Opera House was finished in 1884, part of Hungary’s celebrations commemorating thousand years as a nation. Appropriately enough, the entrance to the huge neo-renaissance building is guarded by statues of Hungary’s two most beloved composers, Franz Lizst and Ferenc Erkel, who wrote the national anthem. Walk between the composers and into the grand entrance hall; marble columns lead the eye up to domed ceilings adorned with frescoes of the Muses, and the sweeping staircase takes visitors into the horseshoe-shaped auditorium. Inside, opulence is the watchword. Tiers of gilded boxes rise from the floor, and the incredibly beautiful frescoed ceiling by Karoly Lotz, depicting the gods on Mount Olympus, is gilded with more than 15 pounds (7.7 kilograms) of gold. The royal box—Emperor Franz Joseph put up half of the money for the theater’s construction—is still the best seat in the house. Your tour will give you a behind-the- scenes peek at this cultural monument, which miraculously escaped damage when the city was besieged during WWII.  You’ll have some time to explore on your own after the tour. Budapest’s mineral hot springs are legendary: The Gellért Baths are in a gorgeous art nouveau building that is well worth seeing in and of itself, but why not relax in the steaming hot water? Later in the afternoon, you could catch a Christmas tram along the Danube Promenade and see the city aglow for the holiday season. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll want to return to the ship early enough to get ready for the New Year’s Eve gala.

Exclusive New Year’s gala dinner and dance
Ring in the New Year in a gorgeous historic ballroom, with an exclusive, wonderfully festive dinner followed by dancing. After midnight, the stately S.S. Maria Theresa will cruise along the Danube so you can see the city’s landmarks all alight—the Chain Bridge, the spectacular riverfront Parliament building and Castle Hill will all be illuminated for the evening.

Day 10 - Budapest
Day 10: Budapest
Start off the New Year on a high note with an excursion to a village of talented artisans and craftspeople who live and create beautiful things together. The village is also home to two museums you’re welcome to visit—one devoted to lovely ceramics and the other to the art of…marzipan. (Yes, really.)
Featured Excursions:

Szentendre Artists’ village
Head to the charming little town of Szentendre with its well-preserved 17th-century houses and active community of artists and craftspeople. A guide will introduce you to the village’s main street, which is also its primary shopping boulevard. Here you’ll find all the traditional Hungarian arts and crafts you can imagine, including ceramics, hand-embroidered blouses and tablecloths, and wool sweaters, as well as fine Herend porcelain and Tokaji wines. You can then visit either the Margit Kovács Ceramics Museum or the unique Szabo Marzipan Museum, which features a display of a display of the Hungarian Parliament made entirely out of marzipan.

A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Day 11 - Budapest (Disembark)
Day 11: Budapest (Disembark)
Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer, or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to the Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport for your flight home.

 
         
Touring Date
Land Only
Land + Air
Single
(Land Only)
Single
(Land + Air)
12/23/2018 - 1/3/2019
$5,099
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Airfare Disclaimer
A NOTE ABOUT AIRFARE: We encourage you to buy your airfare from the tour operator, because if your tour cancels then your airlines tickets will be covered. Purchasing flights separately at a lesser rate and incorporating it with a Non-Guaranteed Departure Date can result in loss of total cost of your flight investment. Depending on the fare rules, flights may be Non-Refundable and/or Non-Transferable. Neither the tour operator and/or Atlas Cruises & Tours will be held responsible for loss if a tour is cancelled for Lack of Participation.

Documents
TRAVEL DOCUMENTS: Necessary Travel Documents such as Passports and Visas is the responsibility of the traveler. Passports must be valid six months from your return travel date.

 

YOUR CRUISE PACKAGE INCLUDES:

TRAVEL
10-night cruise in a riverview stateroom on the stately NEW S.S. Maria Theresa
All transfers on arrival and departure days

TASTE
All meals onboard, prepared using the finest and freshest ingredients
10 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 10 dinners
Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Receptions
Welcome and Farewell Gala Dinners
Unlimited beverages onboard, including fine wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks, specialty coffee and tea, and mineral water

EXPLORE
4 countries
9 days of excursions, including “Choice Is Yours” options, all fully hosted by English-speaking local experts
Guided “Taste of Christmas” and “Gentle Walking” programs
4 UNESCO World Heritage sites
Services of an experienced Uniworld Cruise Manager
State-of-the-art Quietvox portable audio- headset system on all shore excursions
Use of Nordic walking sticks

EXPERIENCE
Captivating onboard local entertainment
Cultural enrichment, including a Signature
Lecture: “The Sound of Christmas Music, from ‘Silent Night’ to Christmas Oratorio”

 

Port Charges: $0.00

Base category: Category 5

 
 

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