Monthly Archives: October 2014
Holland’s floral splendor only happens in the springtime. Come see the rainbow of colors, and visit some of Belgium’s most beautifully preserved medieval cities for the ultimate 10-day spring vacation in the Low Countries. Explore Amsterdam’s cosmopolitan atmosphere and world-famous museums. Experience Belgium’s Golden Age in historic Antwerp and the lovely patrician cities of Ghent and Bruges. Learn more about Holland’s age-old battle against the sea with tours of ingenious windmills and the massive Delta Works project. Plus, enjoy savory Dutch cheeses, delectable Belgian chocolates and Belgium’s exquisite, intricate lace on this delightful sojourn. We will be visiting during the height of the Tulip season.
DAY 1 | AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS
Arrive in Amsterdam, then transfer to your ship.* After boarding, the afternoon is yours to relax or explore the city on your own. If your arrival schedule permits, you may wish to visit the Anne Frank House. (D)
DAY 2 | AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS
After breakfast, embark on a canal tour by glass-topped boat to see architecture from the city’s Golden Age. Return aboard for lunch, then take free time to visit the Anne Frank House, see the Van Gogh Museum or just explore the city’s charming neighborhoods. As always, your Viking Concierge can help you plan your afternoon. Dine aboard your ship; we depart this evening. (B, L, D)
DAY 3 | HOORN, NETHERLANDS
Early this morning, sail across the IJsselmeer (once known as the Zuiderzee) to the ancient shipping village of Hoorn. After breakfast, enjoy a guided walk through Hoorn’s cobbled streets; see age-old cheese warehouses on the town’s main square, which dates back to Holland’s Golden Age. Lunch is served aboard; you have a free afternoon to explore Hoorn, visit a local bakery and shop for souvenirs. Or, take an optional excursion showcasing the small towns and bucolic landscapes of the northern Holland area. Depart during dinner and cruise through the night. (B, L, D)
DAY 4 | ARNHEM, NETHERLANDS
After early arrival in Arnhem, visit the 17th-century Paleis Het Loo,† the Dutch royal family’s summer residence for the past 300 years. Take a guided tour through its sumptuously furnished rooms and beautifully landscaped gardens. After an onboard lunch, enjoy free time, or join the optional battlefield tour that also visits the Airborne Museum. Dine aboard as we set sail for Kinderdijk this evening. (B, L, D)
DAY 5 | KINDERDIJK, NETHERLANDS & ANTWERP, BELGIUM
Arrive this morning in Kinderdijk and disembark for a tour of this ingenious 18th-century community. Learn why the windmills were built and see how they work to help control flooding, then tour a working windmill to see its pumping mechanism and living quarters at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy an onboard lunch as we sail toward Antwerp. After dining aboard, relax on your ship or spend some time exploring the cafés and brew pubs of this extraordinary Flemish capital. (B, L, D)
DAY 6 | ANTWERP, BELGIUM
This morning, enjoy a half-day tour of Antwerp featuring the Cathedral of Our Lady with its three monumental altarpieces painted by Peter Paul Rubens; the Grote Markt (Grand Square) surrounded by the Golden Age Town Hall and guild halls; and Het Steen (Steen Castle), Antwerp’s oldest building. You have afternoon free time before dining aboard your ship tonight as we sail for Ghent. (B, L, D)
DAY 7 | GHENT & BRUGES, BELGIUM
From Ghent, travel to Bruges, one of the oldest towns in Flanders. Your city walk visits the Church of Our Lady, with its famous Madonna and Child, sculpted by Michelangelo. Also see the Beguinage, a hidden courtyard inhabited by nuns, and the town’s scenic network of canals. Stay in Bruges for lunch on your own, or return to Ghent for lunch aboard and an afternoon exploring this exceptionally charming, canal-filled capital of East Flanders. Enjoy a beautifully lit evening departure from Ghent as we cruise through the night. (B, L, D)
DAY 8 | DELTA WORKS & ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS
After breakfast travel to the region of Walcheren, formerly an island of the southwest Netherlands. Stop in Veere and enjoy a walking tour of this engaging, time-honored town. From here, travel to the Delta Works, the ingenious system of enormous doors that can be lowered during spring tides to protect the area from floods while allowing the tides to ebb and flow. Rejoin your ship, which has sailed on to Bruinisse, for lunch and afternoon sailing. Arrive this evening in Rotterdam, the world’s second largest port. After an onboard dinner, you have free time to explore the city. It has been significantly rebuilt after much World War II destruction, and some of its architecture is quite innovative. (B, L, D)
DAY 9 | KEUKENHOF GARDENS & AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS
After breakfast, visit the picturesque Keukenhof Gardens, the world’s largest floral park. Admire the stunning beauty at both indoor and outdoor exhibits of millions of vibrant blooms including tulips, hyacinths, croci and daffodils. Return aboard for lunch.
The rest of the day is yours to discover Amsterdam’s hidden treasures. You may choose to explore Museum Square, take a bike ride or shop for colorful clogs and tulip bulbs. Enjoy dinner aboard your ship, followed by free time to enjoy Amsterdam’s nightlife. Your ship remains docked overnight. (B, L, D)
DAY 10 | AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS
After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the airport for your return flight.* (B)
During this 8-day journey, encounter the grand cities and quaint villages along the celebrated Danube River. Explore both sides of Hungary’s capital, traditional “Buda” and more cosmopolitan “Pest”, and from Fishermen’s Bastion see how the river divides this fascinating city. Experience Vienna’s imperial architecture and gracious culture, and tour riverside towns in Austria’s Wachau Valley. And in Germany, explore a baroque cathedral and stroll cobbled streets lined with half-timbered houses. Savor the tastes of authentic dishes, learn about local legends, and understand why Strauss immortalized the “Blue Danube” in his famous melody.
The Magic of European Christmas: Our cruise will include Christmas markets. Here, the spirit and romance of the holidays come alive with the scent of gingerbread and the tunes of traditional carols around every corner. Whichever Christmas markets you visit, you’ll enjoy a wonderful feast of tasty treats, as well as dozens of stalls brimming with unique and inspiring handcrafted gifts.
DAY 1 | BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
Welcome to Budapest, capital of Hungary. Transfer to your ship from the airport.* After boarding, the afternoon is yours to relax or do a bit of exploring; if your arrival schedule permits, join an organized walk to Budapest’s famous covered market in the three-story Great Market Hall established in 1897. Return to your ship for a traditional Hungarian dinner. (D)
DAY 2 | BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
Your morning begins with a panoramic tour of the Pest side of the city. Journey along Andrássy Avenue and see the 19th- and 20th-century mansions, National Opera House, Parliament Building and Chain Bridge. Stop in Heroes’ Square to learn more about Hungarian history, then cross the Danube to Buda’s Castle District. Walk up the hill to Fishermen’s Bastion and Matthias Church; enjoy brilliant views. Rejoin your ship in Visegrád for lunch as we cruise along the scenic Danube River. Enjoy a midafternoon Viennese coffee workshop, complete with apple strudel. (B, L, D)
DAY 3 | VIENNA, AUSTRIA
Today we tour the Austrian capital of Vienna. Ride along the Ringstrasse, which replaced the city walls in the mid-19th century. See some of the city’s baroque architecture, including the world-famous Opera House, St. Stephan’s Cathedral and Hofburg Palace. Return to your ship for lunch. The rest of the day is yours to further explore. As always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time. Or you may take an optional tour to Schönbrunn Palace, the Versailles of Vienna, graced by a number of formal gardens, Grecian statuary, the world’s oldest zoo and the “Roman ruin” erected in 1778. After dinner, relax or enjoy an optional classical concert. (B, L, D)
DAY 4 | MELK, AUSTRIA
After breakfast, sail through the captivating Wachau Valley to the Benedictine abbey at Melk, and join a guided tour of the ornate interior of this baroque architectural jewel. See its elaborate frescoes and admire the library’s extensive collection of medieval manuscripts; then enjoy the garden courtyard and the terrace’s Wachau Valley views. Rejoin your ship for dinner and leisurely cruising along the Danube. Taste some local Austrian specialties as you spot attractive riverside towns and castle ruins along the way. (B, L, D)
DAY 5 | PASSAU, GERMANY
Arrive this morning in Passau, at the confluence of the Inn, Ilz and Danube Rivers. Your guided walk along the town’s narrow streets takes you through the Old Town and past traditional patrician houses. You’ll see the New Bishop’s Residence and visit the impressive baroque St. Stephen’s Cathedral with its ornate interior. Inside, you are treated to a special concert played on the 17,000-pipe organ, considered Europe’s largest church organ.† Enjoy lunch aboard your ship, and return to the city for further exploration on your own before departing. We cruise through the night. (B, L, D)
†Passau organ concert is only available May 1-October 31 and is closed on Sunday.
DAY 6 | REGENSBURG, GERMANY
After breakfast, meet your guide dockside for a walking tour through the scenic town of Regensburg, considered one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval cities. See one of the largest groupings of 13th- and 14th-century church spires, towers and patrician houses north of the Alps. You also encounter the 12th-century Old Stone Bridge, St. Peter’s Cathedral and a number of idyllic courtyards. Take time to stroll the streets, shop or visit Germany’s oldest restaurant, the Alte Wurstküche.Lunch is served aboard your ship.
This afternoon, enjoy scenic cruising along the Danube River, or take an optional Danube Narrows excursion. Travel by road to Kelheim and board a ferryboat to explore the 400-foot chalk cliffs and dramatic scenery of the Danube Narrows. Visit Weltenburg Abbey, renowned for the dark ale brewed here by monks since 1050, then rejoin your ship in Kelheim in time for dinner. (B, L, D)
DAY 7 | MAIN-DANUBE CANAL & NUREMBERG, GERMANY
Very early this morning, we sail through the locks that comprise the Main-Danube Canal, an engineering marvel that stretches 106 miles from Bamberg on the Main River to Kelheim on the Danube. It began as Charlemagne’s dream in 793 and was completed in 1992 with 16 locks that raise the water level 1,332 feet. Today, it enables river travel from the North Sea to the Black Sea.
Arrive in Nuremberg, Bavaria’s second largest city. Your tour features Zeppelin Fields, the former Nazi parade grounds, and the Palace of Justice, the venerable vestige of the Nuremberg Trials; or, you can join an optional World War II tour of the illuminating Documentation Center. You have a brief stop at the courthouse before returning to Old Town, enclosed within ancient city walls.
Your adventure comes to a close with a walk from the imperial castle grounds, past the Albrecht Dürer House and on to the Main Market Square with its elaborate Gothic fountain. Lunch is served aboard; afterward you have the rest of the day to explore. Your ship remains docked overnight. (B, L, D)
DAY 8 | NUREMBERG, GERMANY
After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the airport for your return flight.* Or, extend your journey to spend 2 additional nights in Nuremberg or experience another country with 3 nights in Prague, Czech Republic, including a tour of Old Town and Prague Castle. (B)
CHÂTEAUX, RIVERS & WINE
Caressed by Atlantic breezes, the vineyards that cover the rolling hills along the rivers of Aquitaine have for centuries produced France’s most remarkable wines: Saint-Émilion, Pomerol, Sauternes, Médoc and Margaux are but a handful of the appellations that make Bordeaux wines world-famous. At the region’s heart, the city of Bordeaux stretches along the river bank, inviting visitors to savor its grand architecture, tempting cafés and superb museums. Celebrate joie de vivre in this land of wine and oysters, truffles and cognac, as you enjoy an in-depth view of this region and cruise the Dordogne, Garonne and Gironde Rivers.
DAY 1 | BORDEAUX, FRANCE
Fly to Bordeaux. We meet you at the airport and take you to your ship*. The rest of the day is yours to relax or explore Bordeaux on your own. Second only to Paris in French historic monuments, Bordeaux’s thoughtfully preserved 18th-century urban areas make it a desirable film location, and its graceful port on the Garonne River is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We remain docked overnight. (D)
DAY 2 | PAUILLAC (MARGAUX), FRANCE
This morning you’ll sail along the Gironde River, docking at Pauillac in the Médoc region before lunch. This afternoon, enjoy a wine country tour featuring several wine-tasting opportunities, including the area’s famous full-flavored Margaux. Travel through the rolling vineyard-laced hills to dinner at a château, accompanied by the château’s own wines. Relax aboard your ship this evening, or explore Pauillac’s marina and the Plaza Lafayette, where the Marquis de Lafayette set sail to the New World. Pauillac, the undisputed capital of the Médoc wine region, is home to Châteaux Lafite Rothschild, Latour and Mouton Rothschild, among others. Before returning to your ship, catch a glimpse of the Île de Patiras lighthouse in the middle of the Gironde. (B, L, D)
DAY 3 | BLAYE (COGNAC), FRANCE
Early this morning we sail to Blaye and arrive during breakfast. Blaye boasts an extraordinary 17th-century citadel, dramatically set on a rock beside the river, incorporating the ruins of an ancient Gothic château that contains the tomb of Charibert II, king of Aquitaine. Legend has it that the Frankish hero Roland, who served Charlemagne, is also buried there. The citadel of Blaye, its city walls and two other forts are collectively listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take a guided tour of the citadel, then enjoy some free time in Blaye. Or, you may choose to take an optional excursion to the charming medieval town of Cognac, birthplace of one of the world’s best-known types of brandy. Here, you will tour the family business of Camus, one of the most tradition-steeped Cognac houses in the area, and try your hand at blending. We lift anchor late this afternoon and dine while sailing toward Libourne, where the Isle and Dordogne Rivers meet. (B, L, D)
DAY 4 | LIBOURNE (SAINT-ÉMILION), FRANCE
Begin your day with a leisurely stroll to Libourne’s picturesque city square, lined with buildings dating as far back as the 16th century, or take part in one of two optional excursions: an exploration of the Bergerac area in the Dordogne to learn more about truffles, a great French delicacy; or a wine tasting at a nearby château, of some local vintages from the Saint-Émilion and the Pomerol appellations. Later, take a tour to Saint-Émilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you see the town’s superb medieval lanes and delightful views of the surrounding vineyards from the upper town. Spend a pleasant afternoon exploring the town’s streets and shops. (B, L, D)
DAY 5 | CADILLAC (SAUTERNES), FRANCE
Enjoy scenic morning cruising along the idyllic Garonne River, stopping after lunch at Cadillac. Disembark for your excursion to Sauternes. Learn how the area’s sweet dessert wines are made and taste some examples during your tour. Return aboard for dinner. (B, L, D)
DAY 6 | CADILLAC & BORDEAUX, FRANCE
We sail along the Garonne toward Bordeaux, enjoying a quiet morning. Tour the city center upon arrival and see some of Bordeaux’s highlights, including the Place des Quinconces, one of the largest squares in Europe; the neoclassical Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux; and several spectacular churches. We remain docked overnight so you can explore the city’s restaurants, bars and nightlife. (B, L, D)
DAY 7 | BORDEAUX, FRANCE
You have a full day at leisure, giving you more time to appreciate the well-preserved architecture of Jacques Ange Gabriel and son, and to taste the city’s cuisine and wine appellations. Perhaps pick up a few bottles to take home with you. You won’t want to miss the Place de la Bourse, with its mirror-like reflecting pool, impressive by day but absolutely stunning at night. You also have the option of taking a full-day excursion to Arcachon, a commune on the Atlantic coast, to see the Victorian-era villas, walk on the boardwalk and taste the oysters, a local delicacy. Or, you have the option of participating in a market visit with the Viking Chef to see where the local chefs of Bordeaux find their fruit, vegetables, meats and fish. (B, L, D)
DAY 8 | BORDEAUX, FRANCE
After a final onboard breakfast, disembark and we take you to the airport for your flight home.* Or, extend your journey with 3 nights in Paris. (B) Paris is always a good idea!
**November 7, 2015 sailing – 2 for 1 cruise and 2 for 1 airfare. Limited time offer. Call today.
French Balcony room – $3651 per person includes river cruise, airfare, round trip transfers, all meals, excursion in each port, entertainment and lots of wine tastings. For the wine connoisseur, this is the cruise for you.
**Added bonus-As a thank you for joining me, receive a complimentary bottle of wine from one of the Bordeaux premium wineries.