Visit five countries on this exclusive journey to the cultural centers that inspired classical music’s Great Masters. This unique combination of river and land travel includes three nights in Prague and a five-night cruise on the legendary Blue Danube from Passau, Germany, to Budapest, Hungary, aboard the deluxe M.S. AMADEUS BRILLIANT. The custom-designed itinerary has been carefully orchestrated to include private classical music performances and a comprehensive schedule of guided excursions.
Days 1 & 2
U.S./Prague, Czech Republic
Depart the U.S. for Prague, the “City of a Thousand Spires,” a UNESCO World Heritage site showcasing 600 years of virtually untouched architecture. Upon arrival, check into the deluxe INTERCONTINENTAL PRAHA HOTEL. Attend the private Welcome Reception Friday evening in the hotel. (R)
Days 3 & 4
On the guided walking tour, explore the diverse cultural legacy of Prague, celebrated for its splendid combination of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Walk along the narrow, picturesque lanes of the Staré Mˇesto (Old Town) to the Orloj, the ornate, 15th-century astronomical clock of the Old Town Hall. See the world-famous Charles Bridge, adorned with 17th- and 18th-century Baroque statues. Enjoy a brief private performance of Mozart’s music and a specially arranged private tour of the Estates Theatre, where the prodigy’s opera Don Giovanni premiered in 1787. In Josefov, the Jewish Quarter of Prague, visit Europe’s oldest extant Jewish house of worship—the Gothic-style Old-New Synagogue—and walk amongst the moss-covered, 15th-century headstones of the Old Jewish Cemetery.
On Sunday, tour the fascinating former residence of Bohemian royalty, the Hradˇcany complex of castles, churches and museums, whose spires dominate the city skyline. By special arrangement, view original Beethoven manuscripts and enjoy a private string quartet concert in the family-owned, 16th-century Lobkowicz Palace.
Visit the neo-Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral, the largest and most significant cathedral in Prague, and see the Royal Mausoleum and magnificent St. Wenceslas Chapel. Walk through the “Golden Lane,” a quaint byway lined with small, Mannerist-style houses and workshops once occupied by castle goldsmiths, alchemists, artisans and guards. Author Franz Kafka was said to have lived here between 1916 and 1917.
On the former site of the Bohemian Kingdom’s Royal Court, enjoy a private tour of the spectacular Municipal House, an early 20th-century Art Nouveau masterpiece. Visit the stunning Smetana Hall, where an independent Czechoslovakia was declared in 1918 and where the post-World War II communist government first met with political reformers led by future Czech Republic president Václav Havel in 1989. (2B)
Travel across rolling hills and through the bucolic wooded Czech and German countryside to Passau, where three legendary rivers—the Danube, Ilz and Inn—converge. Enjoy lunch in a historic, traditional German restaurant before the walking tour along the cobblestone streets of Altstadt, Passau’s Old Town. Visit the Baroque-style St. Stephan’s Cathedral, consecrated in the 12th century, where the largest pipe organ in Europe is housed.
Embark M.S. AMADEUS BRILLIANT, attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception and, following dinner, enjoy a short concert of classical music on board. (B,L,R,D)
In the riverside town of Melk, visit the magnificent Benedictine Abbey, a showcase of impressive Austrian Baroque architecture, priceless relics and stunning 18th-century ceiling frescoes by Paul Troger. In Melk Abbey’s beautiful kirche (church), admire the perfectly intact 16th-century altarpiece by “Danube School” master Jörg Breu the Elder. A prestigious center of scholarship throughout the Middle Ages, the abbey’s library is today a repository of 100,000 medieval manuscripts.
This afternoon, dock in the charming medieval village of Dürnstein, situated below the hilltop ruins of Castle Kuenringer, where Richard the Lionheart was held prisoner after the Third Crusade. Stroll through the quaint, picturesque village to visit the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Abbey Church and enjoy a short, private organ concert inside the cathedral.
Be on deck this evening as you cruise the Danube’s spectacular and fabled Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where terraced vineyards blanket hillsides dotted with the haunting ruins of medieval castles. (B,L,D)
Former seat of the Habsburg Empire, Vienna’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage open-air museum of splendid Baroque architecture. Tour this remarkable city, which owes its present appearance to Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Josef, who created the famous Ringstrasse that displays its finest landmarks—the impressive Vienna State Opera house and the lavish Hofburg Palace. Visit the iconic, Gothic-style Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral). Enjoy a private, specially arranged performance of Mozart and other composers’ music in the Sala Terrena, Vienna’s oldest concert hall and where Mozart resided, worked and performed. The afternoon and evening are at leisure to peruse the cultural treasures of Vienna on your own. (B,L,D)
Enjoy a free morning in Vienna or join the optional excursion to the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens, the spectacular summer estate of the imperial Habsburgs. It was here, in one of the grand salons decorated in a priceless collection of art and antiques, that a six-year-old Mozart first performed for Empress Maria Theresa and her daughter, the future Queen of France, Marie Antoinette.
This afternoon, en route to Bratislava, cruise through Austria’s scenic Donau-Auen National Park, which preserves the last remaining major wetlands in central Europe. The charming capital of Slovakia, Bratislava is nestled in the foothills of the impressive Carpathian Mountain range overlooking the banks of the Danube River. Beautifully restored since the end of the Cold War, the city showcases 21st-century life amidst its 1000-year-old history. Enjoy a walking tour of the Old Town; its medieval, Renaissance and 19th-century architecture is among the finest in central Europe. Visit the Romanesque, 14th-century Cathedral of St. Martin and the elaborate Primatial Palace and see St. Michael’s Gate, Bratislava’s oldest preserved medieval fortification, originally built in 1300.
This evening, enjoy a delightful performance of classical music on board the ship. (B,L,D)
Austrian-born, nevertheless the “most Hungarian Habsburg,” Archduke Joseph is credited with creating in Budapest an imperial capital that rivaled Vienna. Buda and Pest—the centuries-old twin cities that face each another across the Danube River—the embankments along this storied river and the Buda Castle Quarter together are designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Begin your tour in Pest to see the elegant, neo-Gothic limestone Parliament Building, built between 1884 and 1904 situated on the river’s banks. Pass through Heroes’ Square and admire the monuments honoring the Magyar chiefs who conquered Hungary in A.D. 896. The guided visit through the 19th-century, neo-Renaissance Hungarian State Opera House, one of the most beautiful performing arts venues in the world, highlights its interior, which is decorated with frescoes by eminent painters, including Mór Than and Károly Lotz. Here, enjoy a private, specially arranged aria performance.
The imposing Chain Bridge links river-level Pest to the hills of Buda on the other side of the Danube. On Castle Hill, visit the stately, late-19th-century, neo-Romanesque Fisherman’s Bastion, where seven turrets symbolize the seven Magyar tribes that settled in the Carpathian Basin, offering exceptional panoramic views of the city, and explore the Gothic-style St. Matthias Church, where Charles I, the last Habsburgian ruler, was coronated in 1916.
On board the ship this evening, attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner followed by a traditional Hungarian folklore performance. (B,L,R,D)
Continue on the Hungarian Traditions in Budapest Post-Program Option or transfer to the airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)
R = Reception, B = Breakfast Included, L = Lunch Included, D = Dinner Included