Grand Christmas & New Years

Grand Christmas and New Year's Cruise

13 DAYS FROM NUREMBERG TO BUDAPEST

Note: The itineraries presented are subject to modification due to water levels, closures because of public holidays or other uncontrollable factors. Every effort will be made to operate programs as planned, but changes may still be necessary throughout the cruise. This day-to-day schedule is subject to change. Your final day-to-day schedule will be provided onboard on the first day of your cruise.

Day 1: Nuremberg (Embark)

Arrive at Nuremberg 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.
Note: For Arrival, Departure and Transfer details, please visit Uniworld.com/transfers. For Port Location details, please visit Uniworld.com/ports.

Day 2: Nuremberg

You could not ask for a more perfect place to begin a celebration of the holiday season than Nuremberg. The historic Old Town is an archetypal German medieval city and is home to a world-renowned gingerbread called lebkuchen.

Nuremberg city tour with Christmas market

The people of Nuremberg hold their Christmas Market very close to their hearts. The iconic Christkind, with her white-and-gold dress, long blond curls and golden crown, opens the Christmas Market each year by declaring: “Welcome, young and old, to my little community of wood and cloth. While this market’s splendor is fleeting, the joy it brings is eternal.” Today is the very last day of the market, giving you just this one chance to catch that fleeting splendor. Beautiful at any time, Nuremberg’s Old Town is especially magical when dressed in all of its holiday finery. Unfortunately, the city’s history also has a dark side, as you will see on a panoramic tour that shows you places where Hitler celebrated the might of his Third Reich—the Rally Grounds and the never-finished coliseum, Congress Hall—before you reach Old Town, where you’ll find the archetypal medieval German city. Stroll through the castle gardens and enjoy breathtaking views of the city, then walk through a maze of cobblestone lanes down to the central Market Square. There, spread out before the Church of Our Lady, is the largest Christmas market in Germany. Two hundred stalls filled with holiday wares—ornaments, nutcrackers, seasonal treats and hand-carved toys—await you, and the irresistible aromas of roasting nuts, cinnamon and grilled sausages waft through the air. Adding to the fun is an area set aside especially for children, complete with a two-tiered carousel featuring carved reindeer and Santa’s sleigh. As you wander through the market, you will certainly want to indulge in some of the city’s famous gingerbread; after all, Nuremberg is known as the “Gingerbread Capital of the World.”

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

Day 3: Cruising the Main-Danube Canal, Regensburg

Spend a leisurely day onboard as you cruise along a marvel of modern engineering, the 106-mile-long Main-Danube Canal. Tonight, celebrate Christmas Eve in the enchanting town of Regensburg, known for its stunningly preserved medieval quarter.

Day 4: Regensburg

The Old Town of Regensburg sparkles with holiday lights and decorations this time of year, adding to its already considerable charms and captivating architectural style. Check out the best and brightest cultural sights and plunge into the town’s ancient past.

“2,000 Years in One Hour” Regensburg walking tour

People have described Regensburg as “old and new” for a thousand years. A single structure perfectly illustrates this: Porta Praetoria, the gate built by the Romans during Marcus Aurelius’s reign. The gate and adjacent watchtower have been incorporated in a much newer building, but the plaster has been removed to reveal the ancient stones laid so long ago. As you walk through the cobbled lanes of the UNESCO-designated Old Town, the city’s 2,000-year history is similarly revealed: the 12th-century Stone Bridge, the Gothic town hall where the Imperial Diet met for three centuries, the stately 13th-century patrician houses, and the spectacular Cathedral of St. Peter, whose magnificent 14th-century stained-glass windows alone are worth the walk. And at this time of year, old-town Regensburg sparkles with holiday lights and decorations, adding to its enormous charm.

Jewish Regensburg walking tour

A white marble installation called Place of Encounter stands on the spot where a synagogue was destroyed in 1519. The installation, by Dani Karavan, reflects the outlines of the synagogue, taken from a drawing made immediately before the interior was demolished. It’s just one of the mementos you’ll see on your tour of this historic Jewish district, which was home to a thriving Jewish community for 500 years; its celebrated school drew Talmudic scholars from all of Central Europe. Jews in Ratisbon, as the town was known in medieval documents, enjoyed imperial protection, but following the death of Maximilian I, the town council banished all Jews and razed their homes and synagogue. The community grew again over the centuries, though the sad history of death and destruction was repeated in the 1930s. The Jewish quarter was re-established in 1945 by Holocaust survivors. It has taken decades, but the synagogue and much of the surrounding area have now been restored, standing as a symbol of both destruction and hope. Regensburg is host to one other such symbol: the modest house where Oskar Schindler lived after WWII. You’ll pass it on your tour.

Invigorated by your stroll through Regensburg’s winter wonderland, you’ll return to the ship for a warm and festive Christmas celebration, complete with a sumptuous meal, superb wines and Christmas caroling. This will be a holiday memory you’ll cherish for years to come.

Day 5: Cruising the Danube River, Deggendorf (Theresienthal)

Take some time today to explore the beautifully expansive and heavily wooded Bavarian Forest. As the largest continuous forested region in Europe, there’s plenty to uncover—like unspoiled landscapes, abundant wildlife and idyllic atmosphere.

Bavarian Forest village with Theresienthal glass manufactory visit

Want to know what it feels like to live in a Christmas card illustration? Find out as you snuggle down in toasty blankets for a brisk ride in a horse-drawn wagon (or, if there’s snow, a horse-drawn sleigh) through the wonderland that is the Bavarian Forest in December. The largest nature preserve in Europe, the Bavarian Forest is home to lynxes and river otters, among other rare species, as well as miles of ski trails. It is also home to a long tradition of glassmaking; the famous ruby-red Bohemian lead-crystal glass is made here. See this tradition at work with a visit to the world-renowned glass manufacturer Theresienthal. The company fell on hard times and was forced to close for a short time in the late 20th-century, but it was rescued by its employees. Some of the craftspeople—wood turners, glassblowers, engravers and painters—you’ll see at work are fourth- or fifth-generation Theresienthal artisans. You can peruse the exquisite glassware in the adjacent shop—just in case someone on your Christmas list loves fine glassware—and visit the glass museum, where you’ll find a renowned collection of glassware representing some of the pieces Theresienthal made for the courts of Europe in the 19th-century.

Note: On rare occasions, Theresienthal must empty and refit its ovens. During such times, glass-blowing demonstrations are unavailable; passengers will still enjoy a visit to the workshop and an explanation of glassmaking and engraving techniques.

Day 6: Cruising the Danube River, Passau

Located at the confluence of three rivers, Passau is a lovely place to take a stroll with a local expert who will regale you with stories about the town’s colorful (and ancient) past.

Passau walking tour

Join your guide 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.

Day 7: Linz (Salzburg)

Mozart’s birthplace of Salzburg is nestled in a glorious alpine setting that sparkles like a winter wonderland. You definitely chose the perfect time of year to explore this refined and much-loved city. If you’re a fan of “The Sound of Music,” all the better—you will recognize locations from the Oscar-winning film in the city’s Old Town.

Full-day Salzburg tour

A 900-year-old fortress stands staunchly above Salzburg’s historic center, but the city is much better known for its musical heritage than it is for any military activities. Mozart was born here, performed in public for the first time (at the age of five) here, and composed his first pieces here. Salzburg celebrates its most famous son in many forms—with statues, with chocolates, with festivals—but there are other musical associations to discover too. Walk with your guide through the Mirabell Garden, the beautiful formal gardens where Maria sang “Do-Re-Mi” with her young charges in the movie The Sound of Music, and admire Mirabell Castle, built in 1606 by Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau for his mistress. The archbishop’s official residence, however, lies on the other side of the river, near the cathedral. You’ll ramble through the UNESCO-designated Old Town, where narrow lanes branch off your route, tempting you to explore the shops and cafés that line them, and cross the bridge for a look at the great 17th-century cathedral and the splendid episcopal residence. (Mozart worked for the archbishop of his day—whom he despised—before he moved to Vienna.) It’s part of a group of churches and priestly residences that are linked by arcades that you may wish to check out after your tour.

Following your tour, you’ll have free time for shopping and lunch on your own in the charming city center. Your guide can suggest great restaurants in the area: Café Tomaselli has hosted musical notables, from Mozart to Max Reinhardt, since 1705. You’ll find roughly 800 shops tucked into the historic buildings along the Getreidegasse, so your options are many.

Day 8: Cruising the Wachau Valley, Dürnstein

After a scenic cruise through the Wachau Valley, we’ll reach the village of Dürnstein. Walk along the cobbled streets, browse the shops selling apricot schnapps and maybe take a quick jaunt up to a ruined castle (with an intriguing tale all its own).

Dürnstein village stroll with spiced wine tasting and organ concert in a monastery

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, then sit back and enjoy an organ concert inside a rococo Augustine monastery church.

Private Artstetten Castle reception with a member of Habsburg Royalty

You’re invited to a private cocktail reception at Artstetten Castle with a member of the Habsburg royal family—a direct descendent of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. As a pivotal part of world history, Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s 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 9: Vienna

Vienna is a city steeped in history, music and elegant architecture. Mozart, Austria’s most famous citizen, was at the height of his creative powers when he lived here, writing perhaps his best-known works, including “The Marriage of Figaro,” “Don Giovanni” and “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.”

“Morning with the Masters” at the Vienna Art History Museum

The Vienna Art History Museum (Kunsthistorisches Museum) is home to an astonishing collection of artistic treasures. Its 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 before moving on to the Kunstkammer 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.

Private Mozart and Strauss concert

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 performed by some of Vienna’s world-class professionals in a historic and intimate concert venue. The music, naturally, will be by Mozart and Strauss.

Vienna city tour with Christmas market

Ring Street, the great horseshoe-shaped boulevard lined with many of the city’s major landmarks—Parliament, City Hall, the Vienna State Opera, and numerous glorious palaces and museums—is a mere 150 years old, practically an infant for a city of Vienna’s age. It replaced the walls that had protected the city for centuries. See all of them on a panoramic tour, then set off on foot for a guided walking tour with a local expert, passing more top sites—such as Hofburg Palace, the Spanish Riding School and St. Stephan’s Cathedral—before stopping to visit the Winter Palace of Prince Eugene, one of the loveliest palace complexes in Vienna. Born in France in 1663, Prince Eugene served the Habsburg emperors for 60 years, commanding their armies and assuring the Habsburg’s dominance throughout Central Europe. Emperor Charles VI rewarded the Prince with honors and wealth. In 2013, his Winter Palace was opened to the public for the first time in centuries. You’ll also have time to explore on your own and to visit Vienna’s most famous Christmas market, situated in front of City Hall, where more than 140 wooden stalls entice you with every sort of delicacy. Be sure to try the rum balls and nutmeg-spiced macarons, which are local favorites, and roam through the adjacent park to admire the elaborately decorated trees.

“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 local 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. 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.

Day 10: Vienna

Begin the day with a visit to a palace that pays tribute to the taste and wealth of the Habsburg emperors, spend some time exploring Vienna on your own and then ring in the New Year in style.

Bergl Rooms with Puppet Theatre

Private New Year’s Eve gala dinner and dance at a Viennese palace

Vienna celebrates New Year’s Eve in grand style! The city’s holiday balls are famous the world over, and the festivities welcoming in the New Year are perhaps the grandest of them all—the whole of the city center turns into one huge party. Tonight you join the celebration as you take part in a glamorous ball in a historic palace. Dine amid the gilt and marble splendor of a baroque hall while musicians play during your festive supper, toast the New Year with champagne and waltz the night away to the music of the Waltz King, Johann Strauss.

Day 11: Vienna, Cruising the Danube River

After enjoying some extra free time to explore Vienna on your own, relax onboard as the ship cruises to Budapest. You have the morning at leisure. You could relax onboard or ramble through glorious Vienna.
A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Day 12: Budapest

Located on opposite sides of the Danube, Buda and Pest each have their own distinctive character and allure. You’ll get a taste of this dynamic capital with a city tour that will show you all the highlights.

Budapest panoramic highlights with Parliament visit

This panoramic tour is a wonderful way to get an overview of the city. 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.

Day 13: 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.

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