Day 1 Budapest, Hungary (overnight)
Cast your eye over the Budapest skyline, and you’ll see all the makings of a world-class city and striking photograph: domes and spires, bridges and lampposts, splendid architecture in the foreground, rolling hills in the back, and the Danube River placidly curving through it, providing a reflective surface for sunsets and city lights. Look closer, and the treasures of Budapest—Hungary’s capital and the largest metropolis—really come to light. Castle Hill is at the top of most visitors’ lists, a UNESCO-listed district hosting Buda Castle, Trinity Square, Matthias Church and Fishermen’s Bastion. The area is also residential, with 18th-century houses, cobblestone streets and few cars, thanks to a strict vehicular ordinance, giving you a real sense of what the city must have been like ages ago. Budapest is full of history, originally a Roman settlement, formed as a unified city when Buda and Pest joined in 1873, overtaken by various invading forces over the centuries, and today an interesting goulash of local culture and foreign influences. Take a seat in a Turkish-era bath or savor rich Esterházy torte in a gentile coffee house to experience the many sides of a city that charms from both sides of the Danube.
Day 2 Budapest, Hungary - Scenic cruising from Budapest
Day 3 Bratislava, Slovakia
Slovakia’s capital city may be the country’s buzzing political and economic center, but it is also a historic gem that stirs the imagination. A maze of narrow, cobblestone streets wind around colorful 18th-century buildings, and shade-covered sidewalk cafes beckon weary—or simply hungry—travelers to linger over a meal and enjoy people watching. Museums, cathedrals and palaces are edifying locales to spend some time, while photography buffs will want to snap images of the medieval castle that looms over the city with a majestic grace. For those looking for more contemporary sights, Bratislava boasts a pulsating modern art scene, as well as some outstanding examples of Communist-era architecture.
Days 4 & 5 Vienna, Austria (overnight)
Layered and elegant, with elements of cozy and grand, musical and visual might be the best way to characterize Vienna—or one of many ways, as this imperial city surely can inspire endless lines of poetic descriptions. Once the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and forever known for its distinguished roster of composers who either were born or lived and worked here—including Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, both Strausses, Liszt and Brahms—Vienna finds itself at the very center of European culture, even as it sits near the border of the Czech republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Turn to a blank page to memorialize your own impressions of this grand city, remarking on its manicured gardens, ornate architecture—especially that of the famed Ringstrasse—intimate bistro pubs called beisln and a certain flourish that can only be called Vienna.
Day 6 Entry into scenic Wachau Valley - Dürnstein, Austria - Crossing the scenic Wachau Valley - Melk, Austria
Durnstein - Wine Tasting.
Best known for its fortified baroque Benedictine monastery, Melk Abbey, the town of Melk boasts an assortment of smaller gems. Among them, the city’s riverside location, serene and regal with a ribbon of wooded groves giving way to the lovely village. Cobbled lanes and a petite size make for a pleasant stroll with a chance to discover its 16th-century Town Hall, or Rathaus, in the center of town, and Haus am Stein, or House at the Rock. Built in the 15th century, the vine-covered abode is Melk’s oldest building.
Day 7 Danube Scenic Cruising - Passau, Germany (overnight)
At the confluence of the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers, Passau is also situated at a meeting of cultures. The town began as a Roman settlement, enjoying the rising tide of influence as the largest bishopric in the Holy Roman Empire and enduringly vibrant as a hub for various trade and manufacturing pursuits, including salt, swords and ideas. Experience Passau’s charm as you the wander the cobbled streets of Old Town, gaze upon arched bridges and Italianate manses and encounter magnificent St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the New Bishop’s Residence.
Day 8 Passau, Germany - Deggendorf, Germany
Just southwest of Passau is Munich, one of the most beguiling cites anywhere. This capital of Bavaria embraces both its history and a live-for-today mantra, as witnessed in its fine examples of baroque and rococo architecture and shared in its trendy taverns, where German brew is hoisted in celebration of a quiet (and sometimes rollicking) Oktoberfest that can happen any day of the year.
The city of Deggendorf, located on the Danube about halfway between Regensburg and Passau, is also situated about an hour and a half from Munich, making it an ideal launching point for visits to Bavaria’s capital and largest city. Yet travelers are invited to linger a spell here at the gateway of the Bavarian Forest, enjoying a chance to experience Deggendorf’s cultural, architectural and culinary treasures. Of the first, there are spring festivals and regular presentations of classical, operatic, folk, cabaret and pop music performances. Of the second, there is the city’s classic medieval layout, highlighted by the 14th-century Town Hall and baroque parish church. Of the last, there are the traditional Bavarian foodie favorites of pretzels and sweet mustard served with—of course—Bavarian brew. Beer is so a part of the local gastronomic scene that it is considered a staple. On average, Bavarians consume 40 gallons of beer per year. With some 40 types and 4,000 brands to choose from, there is slim, if any, chance of getting your fill of Bavaria’s “liquid gold.”
Day 9 Regensburg, Germany - Cruising the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal
Situated at the northernmost bend of the Danube and boasting a well-preserved medieval center, Regensburg finds itself not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site but also a traveler’s favorite destination. This charming town came through World War II unscathed, with its 1,400 or so ancient buildings standing as regal testament to days gone by. In fact, Regensburg can trace its history to the Celtic age. Other pages of its interesting story include chapters as a major trading hub in Roman times and, in the centuries following, a flourishing city that displayed its prosperity and confidence with embellished churches, stately homes and sturdy towers to protect it all. Today, nothing can shield Regensburg from the admiration of visitors who develop an enduring fondness for this riverside treasure, complete with elaborate cathedral, quintessential clock tower, multi-arched bridge and multi-faceted personality.
Day 10 Nuremberg, Germany - Disembark
Inspired by the dreams of Charlemagne, embark on a truly mesmerizing journey—through the heart of Europe, aboard a luxury vessel that surrounds you with the best the world has to offer: Crystal Mahler.
Feast your eyes on the iconic windmills of Holland and the fairy-tale villages of Germany, the castle-laden scenery of Austria’s Wachau Valley, plus the feudal fortresses and palaces of Slovakia. Explore the enchanting lanes and historic churches of Bratislava and stunning medieval architecture of Regensburg.
Enjoy unforgettable overnight stays in grand European cities, and experience the unique wonders each has to offer: Amsterdam’s 17th-century canals and legendary museums; Budapest’s hills of Buda and boulevards of Pest; Passau’s Oberhaus Museum; along with Vienna’s imperial palaces and musical history.
All meals included, most featuring the culinary excellence of celebrated chefs, with a local flair
Unlimited onboard refreshments, including fine wines, champagne, premium spirits and all non-alcoholic beverages such as bottled water, soft drinks and specialty coffees
Choice of guidedCrystal Adventures® shore excursion in every port
Gratuities for housekeeping, dining and bar staff
Interactive TV system with in-suite movies on demand, an extensive
music library and Internet access
Authentic regional, local and seasonal wine and beer offerings, where available
Complimentary airport transfers on days of embarkation and disembarkation
24-hour room service
Onboard enrichment programs and entertainment
The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines. Sorry, we are unable to offer air from countries other than the U.S. However, for those international customers who are able to arrange their own transportation to the trip origination city, we are able to offer the land/cruise portion of the package at the price quoted.