Beginning in the Romanian capital of Bucharest, we sail up river, through the Danube Delta, home to many unique species of birds, fish and other wildlife, visiting small towns along the way including Hirsova and Constanta. We cruise through the famous ‘Iron Gates’ before reaching Belgrade, the capital of Serbia for a visit, and then continue onto Budapest in Hungary. After exploring the sights of the city, we sail on until we reach the unspoiled city of Bratislava, one of the most important cities in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. We finally reach Vienna, the city of Habsburgs and heart of their Empire, where our journey ends.
It promises to be a delightful journey, complimented by an inspiring array of shore excursions and captivating lectures from Douglas Skeggs.
London / Bucharest / Fetesti
Morning departure from London Heathrow on a British Airways flight to Bucharest Airport arriving mid-afternoon. On arrival, transfer to the Danube port of Fetesti to board the luxury MS Amadeus Silver III and embark on a nine-night cruise on the Danube. Welcome cocktails and dinner on board.
Spend the morning cruising Sfantu Gheorghe (Saint George), one of the three main channels that make up the Danube Delta. At the meeting of the Black Sea and the Danube, this UNESCO site hosts 27 different ecosystems and is home to over 300 species of birds as well as 45 freshwater fish. From the fisherman’s village of Sfantu Gheorghe, observe daily life of the people who inhabit this fertile delta.
First mentioned in 1318, the fishing village of Sfantu Gheorghe is well-known for its traditional cooking, including the famous black caviar (icre negre). There is an optional Delta Safari boat excursion (only bookable on board and at a supplementary cost). Lunch and dinner on board.
During breakfast arrive in the small Romanian town of Hirsova. Explore the ancient Roman ruins of Carsium built in 1st Century AD, and the Lipovan Church, a unique structure which stands high above the city. In the distance you can see the Cliffs of the Danube, the Black Sea Coast, and on a clear day, even Constanta, the oldest continually inhabited city in Romania.
Visit Constanta, founded in 600 BC, an important cultural and economic centre, and home to the famous Genoese Lighthouse, the Archaeology Park, and the Great Mosque. Lunch and dinner on board.
Giurgiu / Rousse / Svistov
Spend the day cruising the Danube River through the Bulgarian countryside, dotted with delightful homes and villages. Visit Veliko Tarnovo, the oldest town in Bulgaria. This pretty town is located on the steep banks of the river Yantra at the foot of the Balkan Mountains. High on a peak is the remains of the medieval town of Tsarevets and its fortress, the former seat of the medieval tsars, which boasts the remains of more than 400 houses, 18 churches, the royal palace, and an execution rock. The vessel arrives in Svishtov, where we will re-join the boat for lunch. Lunch and dinner on board.
Cruise through the beautiful passage of the ‘Iron Gates’ which is named after its two hydroelectric dams that control the waterflow. Observe on deck as the vessel passes through the narrow gorge between the Carpathian and Balkan Mountains which forms a natural border between Serbia and Romania. Lunch and dinner on board.
After breakfast, arrive in Belgrade, one of the oldest European cities and the capital of Serbia. The city lies in the juncture of the Danube and the Sava Rivers. The ‘White City’ is one of the most historically rich and important places in all of Serbia. Visit the Kalemegdan-Belgrade fortress, which was once an important military fortification and now serves as the central park of Belgrade.
Visit the National Museum, the Parliament, Terazije Square as well as the Palace of Princess Ljubica. Another highlight is the St. Sava Temple, the largest Orthodox Church in Serbia. There will be some free time in the city to explore the shops and taste the local cuisine in Skadarlija (Skadars-ka Street) a pedestrian street filled with restaurants and cafes, emanating the spirit of Old Belgrade. Lunch and dinner on board.
Mohács / Kalocsa
This morning visit the tiny harbour town of Mohács where two important battles took place, which had a huge impact on European history. The Battle of Mohács in 1526 was fought between the forces of the Kingdom of Hungary, led by Louis II, and those of the Ottoman Empire, led by Suleiman the Magnificent. The Ottoman victory led to the partition of Hungary for several centuries between the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburg Monarchy, and the Principality of Transylvania.
Further more, the death of Louis II as he fled the battle marked the end of the Jagiellon dynasty in Hungary and Bohemia, whose dynastic claims passed to the House of Habsburg. The Second Battle of Mohács in 1687, also known as the Battle of Harsány Mountain, was fought between the forces of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed IV, commanded by the Grand-Vizier Sari Süleyman Paşa, and the forces of Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I, commanded by Charles of Lorraine.
The result was a crushing defeat for the Ottomans. Afternoon excursion to the Puszta to enjoy the scenery of the endless plain, where the sky stretches into the horizon, before arriving at the town of Kalocsa, one of the oldest towns in Hungary. Lunch and dinner on board.
Early this morning we dock in Budapest, the capital and largest city of Hungary. Most of this city is a World Heritage Site, including the banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle quarter, Heroes’ Square, and the Millennium Underground Railway. Enjoy a city tour of Budapest including the Parliament building where you can see the Crown Jewels and the legendary Crown of St. Stephen. Lunch and dinner on board.
Arrive in the Slovak capital of Bratislava this afternoon, where historic ties with the Habsburg court of Vienna, and a tradition of folk art have influenced and enriched its art and architecture. The city is home to the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, the summer residence of the archbishop and the current residence of the president of Slovakia. From Michael’s Gate, take a leisurely stroll through the historic city centre, where you can admire sights including the Primatial Palace and St. Martin’s Cathedral. Lunch on board. Captain’s Gala Dinner.
Disembark the MS Amadeus Silver III. Transfer to Vienna city centre and visit the Kunsthistorisches Museum which houses the paintings, sculpture, decorative arts and ancient antiquities collected by the Habsburgs. The resulting collection is considered one of the greatest and most extensive in the world. Highlights include masterpieces by artists such as Titian, Canaletto, Brueghel, Rubens and Van Dyck.
Optional visit to the Treasuries (Schatzkammer) where the twenty-one rooms contain magnificent Imperial gems, relics of the Holy Roman Empire, the Imperial crown, coronation regalia, valuable Habsburg jewellery, and splendid liturgical objects, relics and vestments from the Imperial court, as well as an outstanding collection of porcelain.
Lunch under own arrangements and free time for shopping. Afternoon transfer to Vienna airport for evening British Airways flight to London.
N.B. If you would like to extend your stay in Vienna for a few days please let us know and we can arrange this for you.