Today I'd Go ... on a European River Cruise

Amy Bertrand, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 22, 2011

Every Thursday I write about a trip I'd like to go on, if only I had the time or the money. This week, an email from Scenic Cruises caught my eye.

Scenic Cruises is offering a holiday cruise along three rivers, into four countries and three capital cities, departing Dec. 21. Prices start at $5,385 per person, double.

From the email:

The all-inclusive, air-inclusive sailing combines the romantic Rhine, the majestic Danube and the man-made Main-Danube Canal, offering guests a wide range of sights and experiences with port stops in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Hungary, and three capital cities. Scenic Cruises is the only major river cruise line to do so on an all-inclusive basis. Guests aboard the company's very modern "Space-Ship" vessels enjoy larger staterooms and suites, more than 80 percent with full-size balconies, all included and optional excursions, private butler service in Junior and Royal Suites, tour leaders, entertainment, meals in a choice of three restaurants, escorted airport transfers -- even gratuities, while taking in the many highlights of a European cruise: Christmas markets, majestic cathedrals, center of town ports, exclusive tours and performances, and more. Prices range from $5,385 to $7,600 per person, double.

Beginning in the canal city of Amsterdam, guests must choose between a canal cruise, bicycle tour, visits to the windmills at Zaanse Schans or a self-guided audio tour. These tour decisions take place throughout the sailing as Scenic Cruises includes multiple options at many of its stops. In Cologne there is a tour of the Old Town, free time to take in one of Germany's most spectacular Christmas Markets and an evening of Christmas carols, while in the charming Baroque town of Würzburg the choices include a walking tour that visits the Prince Bishop's magnificent Residenz Palace or a Romantic Road excursion to the 500-year old city of Rothenberg. In Bamberg guests meet with the cellar master of Zehnthasus -- a private brewery established in 1533. Nuremberg is a must see for any history buff as a guided tour of the old town includes the Nuremberg Rallies site, the well-designed WWII Documentation Centre and the recently opened Memorium Nuremberg Trials Museum.

New Year's Eve is celebrated with a gala dinner on board while New Year's Day is heralded with an exclusive organ recital performed in the Benedictine Abbey in Melk. Highlights in the celebrated wine town of Dürnstein are a leisurely exploration of the quaint city or a guided bicycle ride through the local vineyard. Two days are spent in Austria's city of Beethoven, Freud, Klimt and Mahler -- Vienna -- where guests raise a glass of Austrian 'Sekt' at the Palais Lichentstein, where the private collection of Prince Hans-Adam II is displayed, followed by a private evening concert featuring the music of Strauss and Mozart. Ending the 16-day adventure is two days in Budapest, a city whose history dates back to 1AD and is cited as one of Europe's most beautiful cities with no less than five UNESCO World Heritage sites. Tours take n Heroes' Square, Matthias Church, Fisherman's Bastion and the medieval town on Castle Hill.

The free airfare offered for this sailing is good from most US gateways and must be booked through Scenic Cruises. Deadline is based on space available. Air taxes are additional and start at $471 per person.

More info: scenictours.com or 1-866-689-8611

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