Goldring Travel is hosting a fantastic fifteen (15) day River Cruise from Vienna, Austria to Istanbul, Turkey on AmaWaterways’ newest ship, the AmaCerto, on May 2, 2014. This is a wonderful combination of land and river cruise travel on what I believe is the best river cruise company around. Yes, it is over a year away, but river cruising is hot-hot-hot and this cruise will sell out quickly…very quickly.
First, some preliminary things to think about independent of this unique and very interesting itinerary since most people have never taken a river cruise. And, yes, I have experienced AmaWaterways just this past August-September 2012 traveling through Vietnam and Cambodia. It was honestly one of my best travel experiences and the onboard service and cuisine truly exceeded my expectations:
1. When I speak to people the first thing I hear is they don’t want to be on a ship filled with old people visiting lots of churches. This tour and cruise has little to do with either. This can be quite an active trip if you desire and focuses more on the history (and wines!) of this fascinating area…and, besides, AmaWaterways offers three styles of tours, “Gentle Walkers”, “Active Walkers” and “Late Starters”. Bicycling tours and private use are offered in a number of cities, as well as “Culinary Delights – Bites & Sights” excursions.
2. I also hear that river cruise ship cabins are cramped and have rigid dining. Again, on this ship that is anything but the case. The AmaCerto has very comfortable cabins with “Twin Balconies” at 235 and 210 sq. ft. and French Balcony Staterooms at 170 sq. ft. and offers an array of dining options besides the main dining room: The Chef’s Table restaurant with its own private chef, two “Wine Bar” venues, plus a casual al fresco bistro. On select days, guests can enjoy a lunch outdoors on the Sun Deck.
|Category BB Cabin with Twin Balconies
3. There are no fears of being charged for all sorts of extras. On AmaWaterways there is complimentary internet throughout the ship, a state-of-the-art Infotainment system, free-flowing regional wines with open-seating dinner (beer and soft drinks too) and complimentary specialty coffees, teas and bottled water 24 hours a day. Breakfasts and lunches are truly diverse and plentiful buffets with made-to-order specials every day. Also, most tours are complimentary, as are bicycles.
4. No worries about not understanding your guides! All AmaWaterway’s guides are truly fluent in in English and know the information you want to make each day an enriching experience.
5. There is plenty to do onboard. In addition to the complimentary internet and Infotainment system, special highlights on this cruise including lectures, cooking demonstration, onboard music performances and piano music
So let’s get to the details! (And you are able to do this as a “cruise only” itinerary if you wish)
Day 1 DEPART FOR VIENNA, AUSTRIA
Day 2 ARRIVE IN VIENNA – Arrive in Vienna and check-in to the InterContinental Hotel (or similar). The remainder of the day is at your leisure.
Day 3 VIENNA- This morning, your city tour takes you around the Burgring, the circular road around Vienna’s historic center. You will also take a walking tour through Vienna’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Highlights of your tour will include the Vienna Opera House, the Ringstrasse, and the awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The afternoon is free to explore on your own or join an optional tour to the Imperial Schonbrunn Palace. Tonight, explore the vibrant Austrian capital on your own or attend an optional Mozart and Strauss concert. (B)
Day 4 VIENNA – BUDAPEST – EMBARKATION – Bid farewell to Vienna as you check out of the hotel and transfer to Budapest, where you will have free time for lunch followed by a sightseeing tour of Buda and Pest. From historic Buda Castle, enjoy a splendid view of the twin cities spread over both banks of the River. Your tour also features a visit to the Fisherman’s Bastion. Afterwards, board your ship which is docked in the city center. This evening, meet your fellow passengers at the Welcome Dinner. (B,D)
Day 5 MOHACS – PECS – VILANY – Arrive in Mohacs during breakfast and then depart for your excursion to Pecs, the 2010 European Union Cultural Capital. Founded more than 2,000 years ago by the Romans, Pecs became an important early Christian diocese and Turkish cultural base during the many centuries of Ottoman rule. Upon arrival, visit the Mosque Church, the largest structure surviving from the Ottoman period, as well as the underground burial chambers that date back to the 4th century. You will also see St. Peter’s Basilica, the city’s main Catholic cathedral, as well as the restored Synagogue, before returning to the ship in Mohacs. After lunch, enjoy a wine-tasting excursion to sample aromatic, spicy wines from the vineyards of Vilany. As an alternative, take a guided bicycle tour to Mohacs in the afternoon (capacity controlled). (B,L,D)
Day 6 VUKOVAR, CROATIA – NOVI SAD, SERBIA – This morning, choose either a “Yugoslav Civil War” tour of Vukovar or wine tasting in the town of Ilok. Your city tour of Vukovar includes the Ovcara Memorial, the monumental cross that is a memorial to those who lost their lives during Croatia’s struggle for independence. As an alternative, travel to the town of Ilok, which is famous for its wines. Here, you will visit a local winery and sample their vintages before your walking tour of the town. Enjoy lunch on board as you cruise to Novi Sad, Serbia. Enjoy a walking tour of Novi Sad in the afternoon, beginning at Danube Park, then stroll through the Old Town district. (B,L,D)
Day 7 BELGRADE – Wake up in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, and enjoy a panoramic tour of some of the city’s 5,500 streets, 16 plazas and 32 squares. You will also see the Kalemegdan Fortress and the Serbian Orthodox Temple of St. Sava as part of your tour. As an alternative, take the “Tito’s Memorial” tour, which includes a visit to the House of Flowers, where the tomb of Josip Tito is located. You will also see some of the many gifts Tito received during his presidency. You will have free time in the city center after your tour to stroll along Prince Michael Street, the city’s main pedestrian and shopping area. A guided bicycle tour is available in the afternoon (capacity controlled). (B,L,D)
Day 8 CRUISING THROUGH THE IRON GATES – VIDIN, BULGARIA – Today, enjoy a full day of cruising through one of Europe’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders, the Iron Gates. Here the Danube narrows as it winds through a range of magnificent gorges between the southern Carpathian Mountains and the northwestern Balkan Mountains. This natural border between Serbia and Romania will be an unforgettable highlight of your Black Sea adventure. Late this evening, the ship cruises to Vidin. (B,L,D)
Day 9 VIDIN – The Baba Vida Fortress, the only entirely preserved medieval castle in the country, stands guard over the Danube at the Bulgarian frontier town of Vidin. The 14th- century castle has massive walls and four imposing towers, a stark contrast to the bucolic park that surrounds the castle. From here, take an excursion to Belogradchik, a beautifully restored 6th- century castle, located in a stunning landscape of unusual rock formations. (B,L,D)
Day 10 GIURGIU – BUCHAREST, ROMANIA – ROUSSE, BULGARIA – Enjoy a full day excursion to Bucharest, the “Paris of the East.” Visit the Open Air Museum, which was dedicated to the traditional architecture of rural Romania. After lunch you will have two options: a visit to the Palace of the Parliament, second only to the Pentagon as the largest building in the world; or a tour of the newly renovated Lipscani district, the historical city center of Bucharest. (B,L,D)
Day 11 ROUSSE – DISEMBARKATION – VELIKO TARNOVO – PLOVDIV, BULGARIA – Disembark the ship in Rousse and continue your tour by motor coach.* Your first stop is the ancient capital of Bulgaria, Veliko Tarnovo, where you will visit Samovodska Charshia, a traditional market. Afterwards, enjoy lunch at a hotel in Veliko Tarnovo, where you will sample a traditional Bulgarian lunch before continuing on to Plovdiv. This evening, see the main highlights of Plovdiv Old Town on a walking tour before dinner at a local restaurant. You will stay at the Dedeman Hotel (or similar). (B,L,D) *If you prefer to fly from Bucharest to Istanbul, it is a US$399 option.
Day 12 PLOVDIV – ISTANBUL, TURKEY – After breakfast, continue on to exotic Istanbul for the grand three-night conclusion of your Black Sea Voyage. You will stop for lunch in Erdine, and then continue on to Istanbul where you will check into the Ritz-Carlton Hotel (or similar). The rest of the evening is free to explore on your own. (B,L)
Day 13 ISTANBUL- A comprehensive city tour will take you through its Old City, with its numerous Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman monuments. Admire the mighty defensive walls, the Roman aqueduct and the hippodrome. See the Galata Tower and visit the beautiful and historic Blue Mosque, so named for the blue tiles adorning its interior. This afternoon is free to explore the town on your own or join the optional “Turkish Delight” tour, an in-depth look at some of Istanbul’s most unique sights. (B)
Day 14 ISTANBUL- Today, your guided sightseeing tour will take you to the spectacular Ottoman Sultans’ Grand Palace of Topkapi, home to every Sultan from the 15th-19th century. During your tour, admire the private chambers of the Sultans, the Harem (women’s quarters) and the Imperial Treasury’s vast collection, including the jewel-encrusted Topkapi Dagger and the stunning 86 carat Spoonmaker’s Diamond. This afternoon, enjoy an optional Bosporus cruise to Istanbul’s chic, trendy neighborhood of Ortaköy, or use the remainder of the day to shop for souvenirs or relax at a tea house or café. (B)
Day 15 DEPART ISTANBUL – Prepare for your homeward flight. (B)
Goldring Travel’s Special Pricing starts at US$3,200.00 per person (cruise only) and US$4,700 per person (with both pre- and post- cruise extensions) including all taxes.
All you need do is pay a fully refundable** US$400 per person deposit to secure your space on this fantastic trip of a lifetime. **Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please ask for details.
Please call Goldring Travel with any questions or to book this extraordinary travel experience at (877)2GO-LUXURY in the United States, 020 8133 3450 in the United Kingdom, (07) 3102 4685 in Australia and +1 732 578 8585 Everywhere else.