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Danube Christmas Markets River Cruise
tripDetail_slider_img1 MOBILE

8 days

from $3,720 AUD

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Travelers can choose light or moderate activities throughout the trip. They should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, and easy hikes, with options each day for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, or biking.

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Premium expeditions are led by a National Geographic expert, an expedition team, or top guides, and tap into National Geographic's worldwide resources to allow for in-depth exploration and special access to sites and experts in the field. Itineraries are fully planned, with some free time. Accommodations are high-end or best available. Ground transportation and most meals and activities are included in the trip price.

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Expedition Overview

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EXPEDITION OVERVIEW
  • Stroll Europe’s enchanting Christmas markets—from Regensburg to Vienna—and learn the art of taking nighttime pictures from a National Geographic photographer.
  • Enjoy insight on the historical importance of the Danube from a National Geographic Expert as you experience the river’s tapestry of medieval, Renaissance, and Roman influences.
  • Visit Vienna’s Museum of Natural History and meet National Geographic grantee Ludovic Ferrière for an inside look at the meteorite exhibit he co-curated.
  • Pay a visit to Artstetten Castle, the home of Archduke Franz Ferdinand—whose assassination in 1914 triggered World War I—and meet with his direct descendants.
EXPERTS ON THIS TRIP

A National Geographic expert will accompany each departure to share insights and a rare behind-the-scenes perspective. Listed below are some of the experts and the departure date(s) they will be joining.

Itinerary

As winter approaches, Europe warms with an irresistible holiday spirit, brightened by the beloved Christkindlesmarkts—or Christmas markets—that pop up in small towns and large cities alike. Cruise the Danube to visit magical merchant villages from Budapest to Nuremberg, and witness the customs that are unique to each festival. Soak in choral music and spice-scented air while browsing stalls filled with everything from glittering ornaments to colorful toy soldiers. Explore your medieval surroundings in charming towns like Regensburg and Melk, and see grand castles decked with tinsel and garland during this enchanting season. As we sail these storied waterways, enjoy the freedom and flexibility to tailor the itinerary to your interests, choosing from a variety of available excursions at each port of call—and benefit from the insights provided by the National Geographic Expert and the National Geographic photographer who accompany us on the journey.

Day 1: Budapest, Hungary

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Arrive in Budapest in the early afternoon and embark the Scenic Amber. Enjoy a welcome dinner on board this evening.

Day 2: Budapest

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Discover two distinct sides of the Hungarian capital—the cobbled hills of Buda and the grand boulevards of Pest, linked by eight stately bridges that span the Danube. Take the historic funicular up Castle Hill to see the Royal Palace and visit Matthias Church, the stunning setting for the coronations and weddings of the Habsburg royalty. Alternatively, explore Budapest on a city tour, and opt to delve into bustling Great Market Hall, Budapest’s largest indoor market.

Day 3: Vienna, Austria

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Enjoy views of rolling hills and quaint riverside towns as we cruise north along the Danube to Austria's enchanting capital, Vienna. This evening, take in the luxury of Palais Liechtenstein while enjoying a glass of fine Austrian Sekt, and enjoy an enchanting private evening concert in this sumptuous venue featuring the timeless music of Strauss and Mozart.

Day 4: Vienna

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This morning, visit Vienna's Schönbrunn Palace, host to an intimate, upscale Christmas market during the holiday season. You may instead opt to take a specially arranged tour of the Museum of Natural History for an inside look at its meteorite exhibit, co-curated by National Geographic grantee Ludovic Ferrière. Or peruse the galleries of the Belvedere Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of Gustav Klimt paintings, and stroll the beautiful stalls of the Belvedere Christmas market.

Later, step into a magical winter wonderland at the city’s Christkindlmarkt, framed by twinkle-lit trees and the soaring neo-Gothic city hall, its lights all aglow. Wander past merchants selling roasted chestnuts and Weihnachtspunsch, a spicy spiked punch—the perfect accompaniments as you browse stalls brimming with beeswax candles and hand-blown glass ornaments.

Day 5: Dürnstein/Melk

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In Austria’s Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site, hike to the hilltop ruins of Dürnstein’s medieval castle or embark on an enjoyable bike ride along the river from Dürnstein to Melk. Alternatively, visit Artstetten Castle, the final resting place of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and meet with direct descendants of the family who still live in the castle. You may also opt to enjoy a guided tour of Melk’s 18th-century Benedictine abbey, one of the world’s most magnificent baroque buildings. This evening, sip a cocktail as we cruise past churches and castles festooned with holiday décor.

Day 6: Salzburg, Austria or Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

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Today, choose between a visit to Salzburg or the Czech town of Český Krumlov—both designated World Heritage sites. Stroll the storybook streets of Salzburg's Old Town, host to one of the continent’s oldest Christmas markets, set in a picturesque square in front of the Salzburg Cathedral and beneath the city’s iconic medieval castle. Or tour Český Krumlov’s historic center, a labyrinth of cobblestoned streets lined with medieval, baroque, and Renaissance houses.

Day 7: Regensburg, Germany

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Situated at the confluence of the Danube, Naab, and Regen rivers, Regensburg once served as a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire. Set out on a guided walk through Regensburg’s medieval center to see its splendid Gothic cathedral, 12th-century stone bridge, and the ancient Roman gateway to the city. Alternatively, choose between browsing stalls aglow with candles and twinkling lights at a market or touring the St. Emmeram Palace.

Day 8: Nuremberg

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After breakfast, disembark in Nuremberg and depart for the airport or your next destination.

EXTENSIONS

Day 1: Prague, Czech Republic

Arrive in Prague and settle into our centrally located hotel.

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Day 2: Prague

Trace centuries of history on a guided tour through this “city of a hundred spires.” Get acquainted with spacious plazas and magnificent cathedrals as you wind your way along the cobbled streets of the Old Town. Visit the lively Old Town Square, a focal point of the 15th-century conflict between the reformist Hussites and the ruling Roman Catholics, and see the statue commemorating Jan Hus, the religious reform leader and Czech national hero who was burned at the stake for heresy. Gaze up at the impressive Astronomical Clock, and catch its festive hourly performance. Later, choose to explore through the lens of its communist history, or step into the 12th-century Strahov Monastery, known for its extensive art and library collection. Gather this evening for a traditional Czech feast.

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Day 3: Prague

Set out to explore Prague at your leisure. Consider a visit to the historic Jewish Quarter, where the synagogues, museums, and cemetery tell an unforgettable story of struggle and perseverance. Cross the iconic Charles Bridge to see St. Vitus Cathedral and the courtyards and palaces that make up Prague Castle, the largest ancient castle in the world. Or delve into Prague’s modern history in Wenceslas Square, where citizens gathered during the Velvet Revolution to first demand, and then celebrate, the end of communism.

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Day 4: Prague

After breakfast, transfer to the airport or continue on to your next destination.

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What to Expect

Enjoy an all-inclusive experience aboard a world-class river ship featuring fine dining and butler service. Choose from a variety of excursions suited to a range of activity levels, from short walking tours to options for extended hiking and biking.

ACCOMMODATIONS
1 /3

Constructed between 2015 and 2016, the state-of-the-art Scenic Amber and her sister ship Scenic Opal were custom built to navigate the inland waterways of Europe. The vessels each feature four decks and a variety of casual and upscale dining options; and a one-to-three staff-to-guest ratio ensures the highest level of service. A National Geographic expert and photographer accompany each departure.

Capacity: 169 guests in 85 outward-facing suites

Overall Length: 445 feet

Public Areas: Each vessel is outfitted with four decks, including a spacious all-weather sun deck with comfortable lounge furniture for relaxation and al fresco dining. The ship holds three elegant dining areas as well as indoor bar and lounge areas, all equipped with expansive panoramic windows.

Meals: Fare served on board is inspired by regional cuisine from the destinations visited along your journey. The main dining area offers buffet and à la cart options three times daily, and exquisite multi-course meals with wine pairings are served upon invitation in two intimate dining rooms. The more casual café offers light meals and snacks, and a bar and lounge has a robust menu of wine, beer, and spirits.

Suites: Each ship holds 72 suites and 13 staterooms with a range of in-room amenities. All rooms face outwards and are equipped with en suite bathrooms, and most have private balconies that can be converted into all-weather sun lounges. Select suites offer spacious lounge areas and larger bathrooms and balconies. Each accommodation is equipped with a high-definition television and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Special Features: Plunge pool, wellness center, fitness center and rooftop walking track, and gift shop. A National Geographic expert and photographer accompany each voyage.

2 /3

Constructed between 2015 and 2016, the state-of-the-art Scenic Amber and her sister ship Scenic Opal were custom built to navigate the inland waterways of Europe. The vessels each feature four decks and a variety of casual and upscale dining options; and a one-to-three staff-to-guest ratio ensures the highest level of service. A National Geographic expert and photographer accompany each departure.

Capacity: 169 guests in 85 outward-facing suites

Overall Length: 445 feet

Public Areas: Each vessel is outfitted with four decks, including a spacious all-weather sun deck with comfortable lounge furniture for relaxation and al fresco dining. The ship holds three elegant dining areas as well as indoor bar and lounge areas, all equipped with expansive panoramic windows.

Meals: Fare served on board is inspired by regional cuisine from the destinations visited along your journey. The main dining area offers buffet and à la cart options three times daily, and exquisite multi-course meals with wine pairings are served upon invitation in two intimate dining rooms. The more casual café offers light meals and snacks, and a bar and lounge has a robust menu of wine, beer, and spirits.

Suites: Each ship holds 72 suites and 13 staterooms with a range of in-room amenities. All rooms face outwards and are equipped with en suite bathrooms, and most have private balconies that can be converted into all-weather sun lounges. Select suites offer spacious lounge areas and larger bathrooms and balconies. Each accommodation is equipped with a high-definition television and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Special Features: Plunge pool, wellness center, fitness center and rooftop walking track, and gift shop. A National Geographic expert and photographer accompany each voyage.

3 /3

Constructed between 2015 and 2016, the state-of-the-art Scenic Amber and her sister ship Scenic Opal were custom built to navigate the inland waterways of Europe. The vessels each feature four decks and a variety of casual and upscale dining options; and a one-to-three staff-to-guest ratio ensures the highest level of service. A National Geographic expert and photographer accompany each departure.

Capacity: 169 guests in 85 outward-facing suites

Overall Length: 445 feet

Public Areas: Each vessel is outfitted with four decks, including a spacious all-weather sun deck with comfortable lounge furniture for relaxation and al fresco dining. The ship holds three elegant dining areas as well as indoor bar and lounge areas, all equipped with expansive panoramic windows.

Meals: Fare served on board is inspired by regional cuisine from the destinations visited along your journey. The main dining area offers buffet and à la cart options three times daily, and exquisite multi-course meals with wine pairings are served upon invitation in two intimate dining rooms. The more casual café offers light meals and snacks, and a bar and lounge has a robust menu of wine, beer, and spirits.

Suites: Each ship holds 72 suites and 13 staterooms with a range of in-room amenities. All rooms face outwards and are equipped with en suite bathrooms, and most have private balconies that can be converted into all-weather sun lounges. Select suites offer spacious lounge areas and larger bathrooms and balconies. Each accommodation is equipped with a high-definition television and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Special Features: Plunge pool, wellness center, fitness center and rooftop walking track, and gift shop. A National Geographic expert and photographer accompany each voyage.

PRICES & DATES

  • date Dec 03-10 Dec
  • Prices From Per Person
  • Ship Scenic Amber
  • extensions yes

Trip PricesPer Person

Accommodations
Double Occupancy
Single Occupancy
Standard Suite (E)
Double Occupancy
$3,720 AUD
Single Occupancy
$6,990 AUD
Standard Suite (D)
Double Occupancy
$3,915 AUD
Single Occupancy
$7,380 AUD
Balcony Suite (C)
Double Occupancy
$4,865 AUD
Single Occupancy
$9,280 AUD
Balcony Suite (BA)
Double Occupancy
$5,145 AUD
Single Occupancy
$9,840 AUD
Balcony Suite (BB)
Double Occupancy
$5,195 AUD
Single Occupancy
$9,940 AUD
Balcony Suite (A)
Double Occupancy
$5,215 AUD
Single Occupancy
$9,980 AUD
Balcony Suite (PA)
Double Occupancy
$5,265 AUD
Single Occupancy
$10,080 AUD
Deluxe Balcony Suite (BD)
Double Occupancy
$5,295 AUD
Single Occupancy
$10,140 AUD
Balcony Suite (PP)
Double Occupancy
$5,295 AUD
Single Occupancy
$10,140 AUD
Junior Balcony Suite (B1J)
Double Occupancy
$5,315 AUD
Single Occupancy
$10,180 AUD
Junior Balcony Suite (BJ)
Double Occupancy
$5,445 AUD
Single Occupancy
$10,440 AUD
Deluxe Balcony Suite (PD)
Double Occupancy
$5,615 AUD
Single Occupancy
$10,780 AUD
Junior Balcony Suite (RJ)
Double Occupancy
$5,815 AUD
Single Occupancy
$11,180 AUD
Royal Balcony Suite (RR)
Double Occupancy
$7,115 AUD
Single Occupancy
$13,780 AUD
Royal Panorama Suite (RP)
Double Occupancy
$7,815 AUD
Single Occupancy
$15,180 AUD
Royal Owners Suite (RO)
Double Occupancy
$8,315 AUD
Single Occupancy
$16,180 AUD
Single Balcony Suite (BS)
Double Occupancy
Sold Out
Single Occupancy
$6,220 AUD

Deck Plans

Jewel Deck
Sapphire Deck
Diamond Deck

  • date Dec 09-16 Dec
  • Prices From Per Person
  • Ship Scenic Amber
  • extensions yes

Trip PricesPer Person

Accommodations
Double Occupancy
Single Occupancy
Standard Suite (E)
Double Occupancy
$4,780 AUD
Single Occupancy
$9,110 AUD
Standard Suite (D)
Double Occupancy
$4,975 AUD
Single Occupancy
$9,500 AUD
Balcony Suite (C)
Double Occupancy
$5,925 AUD
Single Occupancy
$11,400 AUD
Balcony Suite (BA)
Double Occupancy
$6,205 AUD
Single Occupancy
$11,960 AUD
Balcony Suite (BB)
Double Occupancy
$6,255 AUD
Single Occupancy
$12,060 AUD
Balcony Suite (A)
Double Occupancy
$6,275 AUD
Single Occupancy
$12,100 AUD
Balcony Suite (PA)
Double Occupancy
$6,325 AUD
Single Occupancy
$12,200 AUD
Balcony Suite (PP)
Double Occupancy
$6,355 AUD
Single Occupancy
$12,260 AUD
Deluxe Balcony Suite (BD)
Double Occupancy
$6,355 AUD
Single Occupancy
$12,260 AUD
Junior Balcony Suite (B1J)
Double Occupancy
$6,375 AUD
Single Occupancy
$12,300 AUD
Junior Balcony Suite (BJ)
Double Occupancy
$6,505 AUD
Single Occupancy
$12,560 AUD
Deluxe Balcony Suite (PD)
Double Occupancy
$6,675 AUD
Single Occupancy
$12,900 AUD
Junior Balcony Suite (RJ)
Double Occupancy
$6,875 AUD
Single Occupancy
$13,300 AUD
Royal Balcony Suite (RR)
Double Occupancy
$8,175 AUD
Single Occupancy
$15,900 AUD
Royal Panorama Suite (RP)
Double Occupancy
$8,875 AUD
Single Occupancy
$17,300 AUD
Royal Owners Suite (RO)
Double Occupancy
$9,375 AUD
Single Occupancy
$18,300 AUD
Single Balcony Suite (BS)
Double Occupancy
Sold Out
Single Occupancy
$7,510 AUD

Deck Plans

Jewel Deck
Sapphire Deck
Diamond Deck

All trip prices are per person based on double occupancy, are subject to change without notice and do not include airfare.

  • Transfers upon arrival and departure
  • Accommodation aboard a world-class ship operated by Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours
  • All meals, from dinner on the first night to breakfast on the final morning
  • Daily activities and excursions as indicated in the itinerary
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • All gratuities

What's Not Included

  • Airfare to and from destination
  • Trip cancellation insurance or any other travel insurance
  • Visas
Teresa Fisher
Author
"

Teresa Fisher is a National Geographic author and freelance travel writer based in Portsmouth, UK. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Exeter University, she initially worked in London for Sotheby’s auction house; then in Europe as a cross-cultural communications trainer, living in Germany, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland and Taiwan. While residing in Bavaria, she commenced a career in travel writing, focusing initially on Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy – destinations which still hold a special place in her heart. Teresa has since penned more than 30 guidebooks and children’s educational books on a wide variety of destinations from Europe to Japan, for publishers such as Lonely Planet, Frommer’s and Fodor’s, and including National Geographic Traveler Switzerland. She specializes in European cities, adventure travel to far-flung destinations and all things Alpine, dividing her time between her family-oriented website, familyskinews.com, and photojournalism. Her stories have taken her round the globe, documenting wildlife and culture in some of the world’s more remote places. Highlights include tracking jaguars by dugout canoe in Guyana, tracking orangutan in eastern Sabah, backpacking round Japan, and being part of the first team of husky mushers to cross from Finland into Russia. When she’s not travelling or skiing, Teresa spends summer months aboard her houseboat in the world’s largest natural harbour, Poole Harbour. Teresa speaks French, German and some Italian, plays the violin and piano, and is a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and The Arts Society. She has been leading expeditions for National Geographic in Europe for more than half a dozen years.

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  • Dec 3-10, 2020 - Scenic Amber
Krista Rossow
Photographer Photo Editor
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For more than a decade, Krista Rossow has worked as a photographer, photo editor, and educator for National Geographic. She began her career as a photo editor at National Geographic Traveler magazine, where she shaped compelling stories from world-class imagery. In her freelance career, she has shot feature stories as a contributing photographer for Traveler in South Africa, Morocco, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Japan, and various U.S. cities. She regularly judges Instagram contests for @NatGeoTravel and photo edits for National Geographic Books. Krista travels with National Geographic Expeditions teaching photography around the world–from the Galápagos Islands, Patagonia, and Peru to Alaska, Antarctica, and the Arctic. She sees the camera as a tool for understanding new cultures, meeting the locals, and exploring the natural world. Her images are represented by National Geographic Creative.

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  • Dec 3-10, 2020 - Scenic Amber