Cruise the Heart of Europe - Five-star MS Charles Dickens
This fourteen-day tour takes you on an amazing journey from Cologne in the heart of the Rhine valley to Vienna and finally Budapest on the banks of the Danube. Your floating accommodation will be one of the most luxurious vessels cruising the inland waterways of Europe. You will be suitably impressed with the high quality, sumptuous accommodation and simply delicious cuisine in such stylish and relaxing surroundings. Our journey south takes in so 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 Rudesheim, one of the most famous wine towns on the Rhine. Next, we cruise to Mainz and then along the river Main to Miltenberg, one of Germany’s best-preserved medieval villages. The cruise continues towards Wurzburg situated at the head of Germany’s ‘Romantic Road’ where we have a walking tour and time to visit the amazing baroque palace. Next day it’s onto Bamberg, quite simply one of the most beautiful small towns in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Having seen so much we are still only at our halfway point on our cruise. Next we berth in Nuremberg for a guided tour of this historic city, probably most remembered as the location of the trials at the end of WWII. From here we pass through the Main-Danube canal to the picturesque river Danube, one of the most romantic and beautiful rivers in the world, and our first stop, Regensburg. Over the next five days we take in so much that Bavaria, Austria and Hungary can offer. We stop in Passau and then onto Melk and culminate our time in Austria in classical Vienna, home of Strauss and many great composers. This city offers up so much wonderful architecture as well as a host of other things to see including the Spanish riding school. Cruising into Hungary, we soon arrive in imperial Budapest, straddling 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.
- 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 - Including visit of the site of the infamous Nuremberg Trials and Nazi rally grounds
- 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
- Live classical quartet recital on board
- Day in Budapest with guided tour - absorb the unique atmosphere
- Price includes full-board from dinner on your day of arrival until breakfast on your final day
- Prices are per person, based on two people sharing a twin cabin with a limited number of single cabins available on all decks, at the relevant supplement. The price includes full board from dinner on your day of arrival until breakfast on your final day; if you choose to travel with us on any of the full day excursions by coach, a packed lunch will be provided. Anyone choosing to stay on the ship may of course have lunch in the restaurant; morning/afternoon tea and coffee; all visits and excursions as mentioned in the brochure, airport transfers, coach travel as mentioned, travel to and from port of embarkation and the services of a Riviera Travel Tour Manager.
You fly to Düsseldorf from where a coach will take you to the ship. Or you can take a late morning Eurostar from London St. Pancras International arriving in Brussels approximately two hours later, where a coach will take you over the German border to your ship. Moored in Cologne’s picturesque historic centre, the dedicated crew will welcome you aboard your first-class floating hotel, ensuring you settle into your comfortable and extremely well equipped cabin and familiarise yourself with the ship.
The first morning on a river cruise is always a thrill. Awakening to the gentle lapping of the water and the colourful valley sides slipping effortlessly past your cabin window, there really is no other holiday experience quite like it. We call at historical Koblenz, dominated by its immense fortress overlooking the confluence of the Rhine and the Moselle. This morning we take a guided walk around the old town exploring its twisting streets and picturesque squares. During a delightful 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.
Today, you experience one of the real highlights of your cruise, 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 of the tortuous river 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, as you wander the typical backstreets.
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.
This morning, we cruise between dense forests to the beautiful small town of Miltenberg. Developing through the Middle Ages under the powerful protection of the nearby castle, surrounded by walls, it is one of Germanys’ best preserved medieval villages. 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.
Breakfast is taken whilst cruising towards Würzburg, situated at the head of Germany’s ’Romantic Road’ and we have a walking tour of this lovely city. A former seat of the Prince Bishops, their truly magnificent Residenz is one of Europe’s finest Baroque palaces, constructed to compete with the greatest courts of the day such as Vienna and Versailles, which in artistic terms they more than succeeded in doing.
Today we visit Bamberg, quite simply one of the most beautiful small towns in Europe, easily on a par with Prague. The masterpiece you 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. Not only is it historic, it is stunning too with a network of canals like Venice and the fascinating tangle of lanes, lined with merchant’s houses.
We call at Nuremberg which, sadly will always be associated with the Nazi period, where the Third Reich held court against a grandiose background of marching grounds and later with the international war crimes tribunal which brought down the final curtain on that notorious regime. What is less well-known is that Nuremberg is 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, we include a guided tour taking 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.
This morning, we cruise along the Main- Danube canal to Kelheim and the Danube, one of the most famous and beautiful rivers in the world. We visit Regensburg, originally a Roman garrison guarding the most northwesterly 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 where many of the great events in Germany’s history were solemnised. Regensburg calls itself Germany’s best preserved medieval city, and it is hard to argue as you wander amongst the glorious winding streets and alleyways of the old town.
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.
Life on board
We are proud to unveil the latest addition to our fleet – the brand new, state-of-the-art, five-star MS Charles Dickens. Specially commissioned and designed to our exacting specifications, she is, without doubt, one of the world’s finest river cruise ships.