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The Leader in Small Ship and River Cruising Worldwide
Worldwide Discovery at Extraordinary Value Since 1958

2017 Eastern Europe to the Black Sea

13 Days from only $3195 including international airfare

ABOARD OUR PRIVATELY OWNED 140- TO 164-PASSENGER SHIPS DESIGNED FOR AMERICAN TRAVELERS

Hungary: Budapest • Croatia: Batina, Osijek, Vukovar • Serbia: Novi Sad, Belgrade • Bulgaria: Vidin, Ruse • Romania: Constanta, Bucharest

Courtesy Small World Productions
Prague and Budapest

Join travel expert Rudy Maxa to discover the Old World splendor on display in Prague and Budapest.

Trip Experience

Get to know Ruse, Bulgaria, by meeting a few people that call this town set on the banks of the Danube home.

Trip Itinerary

Learn more about your itinerary, like optional tours, exclusive Discovery Series events, and more.

Program Director

Program Director Monica Alionte reveals what life is like for young families in Eastern Europe.

Program Director

Hear what it was like for Tatjana Bojovic to grow up during the Yugoslav Wars.

Trip Extension: Transylvania

Experience the towering castles, iconic Alpine landscapes, and ghoulish folklore of Transylvania on our optional trip extension.

Trip Extension: Prague

Watch travelers sample local beer and visit ninth-century Prague Castle on their optional extension.

Trip Extension: Vienna

Visit the famed Spanish Riding School and sample local flavors on this optional extension.

Courtesy Titus-Armand Napirlica
The Egg Painter

See the artistry behind the art in this special look into Romanian egg painting.

Courtesy Titus-Armand Napirlica
Portrait of a Train Driver

See how—and why—a Romanian man has fulfilled his childhood dream of driving trains.

Courtesy BBC.com Travel
A Stranger in Brasov

In this animated short film, a woman recaps her incredible introduction to warm Romanian hospitality.

Courtesy BBC.com Travel
The Heart of Prague Pumps Lager

Raise a glass to pilsner and learn about the famous pale lager that has satisfied Czech beer fans since 1842.

Courtesy Kirsten Horne
The Missing Lynx

Travel through the wilderness of the Carpathian Mountains in search of wolves, bears, and the elusive lynx.

Courtesy CNN
The Best Puppet Show in Prague

Local artists show off their favorite spots in Prague—from a marionette workshop to a pub.

Courtesy Anika Pilnei and Ian Cross
Great Railway Journeys of Europe: Budapest to Warsaw

Follow historian Julian Davison on a railroad journey that unveils this region’s complex history.

Courtesy Emeric Visuals
Wandering in Vienna

Meander through Vienna, observing the ebb and flow of modern-day life in a timeless city, on our optional trip extension.

Courtesy David Conover and Compass Light productions
The Starogradska Music of Serbia

Sing along to Starogradska music—the traditional songs of love and longing that warm the hearts of Belgrade’s tavern patrons.

New Year, New Stories

Take a look at the films that inspire filmmaker David Conover—and preview the stories that await this year.

Climate Change & Travel

Travel with David Conover to see how people—from street protesters to Heads of State—respond to a changing climate and ocean.

Produced for CuriosityStream
Big Picture Earth Trailer

David Conover's newest television series takes us from Stonehenge to Petra, from Iceland to the Oracle at Delphi ... and beyond.

Sharing Travel Moments

Hear why visual storytelling helps to build a conversation about the world from filmmaker David Conover.

Solo Traveler Experience

Hear about one solo traveler’s experiences in Turkey and Greece.

The Grand Circle Cruise Line Experience

Travel aboard Grand Circle Cruise Line’s selection of river and small ships—from the Adriatic Sea to the Danube River.

Travel Protection Plan

Learn about the benefits of Grand Circle's plan—and how you can protect your entire trip investment.

FROM
$3195
13 DAYS
$246/DAY
including international airfare
12 DAYS FROM $2195 River Cruise Only
Extend Your Trip
 

NEW 2017 discoveries
Added Veliko Tarnovo tour and reduced prices

 

ATTENTION
This trip features long flights and/or multiple connections

 

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Itinerary Overview

Experience an unmatched confluence of cultural traditions and explore five Eastern European nations—Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania—on an enhanced Danube to the Black Sea cruise that showcases Old World villages and legendary capital cities. For many Americans, life beyond the former Iron Curtain was long shrouded in mystery. But today, young democratic nations, embracing life after communism, have opened their arms to Western visitors. Revel in regal Budapest, “Queen of the Danube” … sample local Croatian flavors during a Home-Hosted Lunch … and witness the lower Danube’s stunning gorges and mighty Iron Gates as you cruise continuously to the Black Sea. We’ve also added our popular optional tour to  Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria’s "City of Tsars,” and the ancient village of Arbanasi, as a NEWLY included feature—at no additional cost.- In fact, we’ve reduced prices $100-$300 per person on most 2017 departures.

Day-to-Day Itinerary

  • 4 nights from only $795

    Discover the “City of 100 Spires,” the name given to Prague for its many hilltop neighborhoods, where rows of steeples stand out against the city’s skyline. An ancient city and new cultural capital for Eastern Europe, Prague exudes Old World character and a modern, vibrant spirit. Wander about the city’s twisting cobblestone streets and old neighborhoods, where ancient houses crowd each other along narrow lanes. Experience the museums and cathedrals that make Prague stand out as one of Europe’s finest cities.

    View Extension Itinerary
  • 3 nights from only $595

    Explore Vienna, Austria—a magnificent, culture-rich hub that retains the grace and charm that has helped it stand out among great European cities for centuries, and walk the streets where Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, and Freud strolled. Once the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Vienna came to symbolize the splendor of an age, one recaptured by wandering among the city’s Baroque palaces and other stunning architecture.

    View Extension Itinerary
Budapest Bucharest Reverse Direction Expand All
  • Depart the U.S. on your flight to Budapest, Hungary.

  • Prague and Budapest

    Join travel expert Rudy Maxa to discover the Old World splendor on display in Prague and Budapest.

    Arrive today in Budapest, where you'll be met at the airport and assisted to your private Grand Circle river ship, which will be your home throughout your Black Sea cruise. If you began your European discoveries early with our optional pre-trip extensions in Prague, Czech Republic or Vienna, Austria, you will join the main group today.

    Tonight, meet your fellow travelers over dinner, followed a scenic cruise through the center of Budapest.

  • See St Stephen Basilica while touring Budapest

    After breakfast, join us for a briefing by your Program Director. Then set out to explore Budapest on an included city tour. Budapest is situated on both sides of the Danube River, with Buda (the right bank) to the west and Pest (the left bank) to the east.

    In Pest, you'll see Heroes' Square, with its Millennial Column set off by equestrian statues of the ninth-century Magyar leaders who conquered this region in the ninth century. The adjoining colonnade displays more statues of kings, dukes of Transylvania, and liberty fighters who influenced the history of Hungary.

    As your tour takes you over the Danube bridges into Buda, you can see how the imposing Parliament Building dominates on the opposite side of the river. Then, turn your attention to beautiful and historic Buda. Here, you'll visit Castle Hill, where a massive castle complex, including its protective ramparts, has been designated a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Mostly destroyed during World War II, the Royal Palace has been lovingly restored, approximating its former splendor, and now includes the Hungarian National Gallery.

    In your free time, you can also visit the Church of Our Lady, formerly used for the coronations of Hungarian kings. Its popular name of Matthias is in recognition of the Renaissance king who ruled in the 15th century and whose heraldic sign—a raven—is displayed on one of the towers of the church. Dating to the 13th century, the structure is an interesting mix of architectural styles used during reconstruction of the building at different times in its history. Note that during the 150-year Turkish occupation of Hungary, the church served as Eski Djami (Old Mosque) for the Turks. Inside the church, you can view art of Bertalan Szekely and Karoly Lotz, 19th-century Hungarian painters.

    After lunch onboard, you'll have the balance of the afternoon to relax on the ship or explore Budapest on your own.

    Budapest offers some particularly fine museums and galleries. The Hungarian National Gallery contains excellent examples of Hungarian art from the Middle Ages on. The collection is comprehensive and somewhat massive, so give yourself plenty of time to enjoy it. The Museum of Contemporary Art and the Budapest History Museum are also worth a visit.

    When you return to your ship, your Program Director will describe tomorrow's discoveries during your first Port Talk. These nightly events, held throughout your cruise, will give you the opportunity to prepare for the next day.

    Tonight, gather with your fellow travelers for a Welcome Drink, followed by the Welcome Dinner with your captain.

  • Discover Fisherman's Bastion and other landmarks in Budapest

    Spend the day enjoying the wonders of Budapest on your own. Or, join an optional tour exploring Hungarian Jewish Heritage. You'll visit the Great Synagogue, the largest in Europe, designed in a Moorish style but with Byzantine, Romantic, and Gothic elements. Then you'll see the Kazinczy Street Orthodox Synagogue, the center of traditional orthodox Jewish life here; the Emanuel Memorial Tree, a memorial to Hungarian victims of the Holocaust; and the Jewish Museum.

    After lunch onboard, the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure to make further discoveries on your own in Budapest.

    This evening, begin cruising along the Danube from Hungary to Croatia—and learn about a few of the cherished customs of Central Europe, passed down through the generations, during an exclusive Discovery Series discussion.

  • See an organ concert at a cathedral in Kalocsa

    After passing through customs this morning and docking in Batina, you'll set out to explore Osijek, the administrative and economic center of eastern Croatia.

    Situated on the Drava River, about 15 miles from the mouth of the Danube, this area was populated even in prehistoric times, and the first urban settlement was erected by the Romans. But its advantageous geographical location made it prey to assault throughout the centuries. It was destroyed by the Huns, rebuilt in the Middle Ages, destroyed by the Turks, and rebuilt again in the 18th century. As a result, Osijek boasts an eclectic architectural heritage, which you'll see on your included city tour.

    Among the more notable sites are the Tvrdja, a unique urban and military complex that lies in the center of the city and was built between 1712 and 1721 by the new Austrian authorities; the neo-Gothic Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, with a 290-foot spire; and the striking, 690-foot modern pedestrian bridge that rises over the Drava. Reliving its own cruel history in our era, Osijek was heavily damaged during the Croatian-Serbian war. Now peaceful, the city is experiencing a rebirth of civic pride and cultural and economic achievement.

    Following your walking tour, partake in two exclusive Discovery Series events. First, visit with students at a local school (when in session) supported, in part, by Grand Circle Foundation. Then, enhance your appreciation for everyday Croatian life as you join a local family for a Home-Hosted Lunch.

    Later this afternoon, transfer by motorcoach to Vukovar, where you'll meet your ship. Enjoy a short walk through the town and see some of its scars—Vukovar suffered the worst artillery shelling during the Croatian-Serbian war that waged from 1991 to 1995—as well as witness its revival.

    This evening, after dinner onboard, enjoy a musical performance.

  • The Starogradska Music of Serbia

    Sing along to Starogradska music—the traditional songs of love and longing that warm the hearts of Belgrade’s tavern patrons.

    After breakfast this morning, enjoy an included tour of Novi Sad, Serbia's cultural hub and second-largest city. The beauty of the city is in its name—novi sad in English translates to "new garden." Nestled along a bend in the Danube River, Novi Sad is peppered with myriad historical and cultural monuments, verdant parks, bustling squares, a thriving pedestrian zone, and a history-rich fortress standing tall on the right bank of the river.

    After lunch onboard, the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure to further discover Novi Sad on your own. Perhaps you'll choose to explore the Petrovaradin Fortress, built between 1692 and 1780 by the Austrians as a defense against invading Turks. Declared a historical monument 200 years later, this partially restored fortress is now a museum. Delve deep into its strange past, including a twelve-mile network of underground tunnels, a mysterious well with supposed links to black magic, and an iconic clock tower on which the size of the minute and hour hands are reversed.

    Or, join us on an optional excursion to Sremski Karlovci, a culture-rich town just ten miles southeast of Novi Sad. Spend the afternoon exploring the town, including visits to a beekeeping museum and a 300-year-old wine cellar.

    Tonight, dinner is onboard.

  • Explore Kalemegdan Castle while touring Belgrade

    Take in the view along the banks of the Danube this morning as we cruise toward Belgrade, the capital of Serbia (and former capital of Yugoslavia), one of Europe's oldest cities, and the center of political and cultural life in the country. Belgrade and the rest of Serbia are just now emerging from many years of repressive rule, with a welcoming spirit for visitors.

    Enjoy a full morning in Belgrade, beginning with an included tour around this grand old city, which was built centuries ago along important east-west trade routes and used as a gateway to Western Europe from the Balkans. You'll see the Town Hall, St. Sava Orthodox Cathedral—the largest Orthodox cathedral in the world—and the Kalemegdan fortress. You also explore the Tito Memorial, erected to honor Josip Broz Tito, who held Yugoslavia together as an independent country in the turmoil that followed World War II and the subsequent Cold War. After your tour, enjoy lunch onboard. Please note: The Tito Memorial is closed on Mondays.

    After lunch, explore the city on your own—you'll have a shuttle bus to and from the city available for your use. Your Program Director will have suggestions for various local sights and activities for learning and discovery.

    This evening, join a local resident for an exclusive Discovery Series discussion about their lives in this dynamic country. Enjoy dinner onboard.

  • Today you'll cruise along one of the Danube's most breathtaking scenic stretches—where once the river pounded and raged through deep gorges. In the 1960s, Yugoslavia and Romania cooperated on a joint venture that raised the level of the Danube with a series of hydroelectric dams called the Iron Gates. The Danube is now placid between the Iron Gates, the craggy two-mile long gorge now underwater. This afternoon, you'll pass through Iron Gate I; you'll continue through Iron Gate II in the early evening.

    Though this stretch of the Danube is now tamer, the views are exceptional, with fields, vineyards, and monasteries sculpted into the riverbank.

    Before lunch, join us for an exclusive Discovery Series discussion about Life Under Communism with your Program Director. You can then linger over lunch as you navigate the Danube. In mid-afternoon, join the chef in the galley (the ship's kitchen) for a special tour.

  • Encounter friendly staff on the private river ship

    Early this morning, your ship passes through customs at Vidin, Bulgaria's main port on the Danube. Then travel to Baba Vida, a medieval fortress of two walls and four towers. Baba Vida was the city's main defense in the Middle Ages, and also the most important fortress of northwestern Bulgaria.

    After lunch onboard, we'll set sail for Ruse.

  • Explore historic Ruse on the Eastern Europe cruise

    Early this morning, arrive in Ruse, which is situated where the Danube forms a natural border between Romania and Bulgaria.

    Disembark after breakfast for an excursion to discover two key Bulgarian historic sites: Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanassi. First, travel by motorcoach to Veliko Tarnovo, the capital of Bulgaria from 1186 until 1394. This cultural center rewards visitors with views of the fortification wall atop Zarevez Hill, the cobblestoned old city, ancient ruins, and a steep ravine plunging down from two towering promontories.

    Continue on to Arbanassi, a historical village of Bulgarian heritage. Its 80 houses, five churches, and two monasteries reflect a unique, fortress-like architectural style of the 17th and 18th centuries, when the village flourished. Enjoy free time to make your own discoveries, and savor typical Bulgarian fare at a local restaurant.

    Return to the ship for dinner onboard, followed by a special Crew show in the lounge.

  • View the Black Sea while strolling Constanta's boardwalk

    Early this morning, sail into the Danube-Black Sea Canal, a 40-mile engineering marvel begun in 1949, but not fully completed until 1987. You'll pass through the canal's lock system and cruise by the inland port towns of Murfatlar and Medgidia.

    Following lunch, enjoy a guided tour of Constanta, a Romanian Black Sea port that is the country's oldest continually inhabited city. Dating back more than 2,500 years, Constanta boasts a wealth of fascinating architecture and history. Myth holds that Jason and the Argonauts stopped here after recovering the legendary Golden Fleece. On your included tour, you'll explore the beguiling city center, the Cathedral of Saints Peter & Paul, the mosaic-paved Roman Edifice of Tomis, and other highlights of this beloved city.

    Tonight, celebrate your Danube River and Black Sea cruise at the Captain's Farewell Dinner.

  • See the Romanian Athenaeum while touring Bucharest

    After breakfast, disembark your ship and begin your transfer via motorcoach to Bucharest, Romania.

    Upon arrival, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and then explore the city by motorcoach. This is an old city that has served as the capital of Wallachia, and later Romania, since 1659. Today, it is noted for its broad, tree-lined boulevards, well-kept parks, and mix of architectural styles that combine Neoclassical 19th-century structures with monumental 20th-century edifices (the latter built for the most part to satisfy the late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu). You'll view the Arc de Triomphe commemorating the exploits of World War I soldiers and drive along Victory Avenue to Revolution Square, where recent events in history are inscribed. You have some time in the late afternoon to relax.

    Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.

    Please note: If you have chosen the optional post-trip extension to Transylvania, Romania, you'll break off from the main group in Bucharest after lunch and continue by motorcoach to the Transylvanian mountain resort of Sinaia—about a 3.5-hour trip. Then, after your three-night extension in Sinaia, you will enjoy the last day of your main itinerary in Bucharest.

    • Meals included:

    Transfer to the airport for your flight home, or begin your optional post-trip extension to Transylvania, Romania.

  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Transylvania, Romania

    3 nights from only $595

    Experience the Transylvania region of Romania—a castle-dotted landscape whose well-preserved, Old-World character evokes an era of bygone, macabre figures both mythical (Count Dracula) and actual (Vlad the Impaler) from the historic resort town of Sinaia, known for centuries as the "Pearl of the Carpathians."

    View Extension Itinerary
  • 3 nights from only $595

    Experience the Transylvania region of Romania—a castle-dotted landscape whose well-preserved, Old-World character evokes an era of bygone, macabre figures both mythical (Count Dracula) and actual (Vlad the Impaler) from the historic resort town of Sinaia, known for centuries as the "Pearl of the Carpathians."

    View Extension Itinerary
Bucharest Budapest Reverse Direction Expand All
  • Fly from the U.S. to Bucharest, Romania. 

  • See the Palace of Parliament while touring Bucharest

    Arrive today in Bucharest. You are met at the airport by a Grand Circle representative and transferred to your hotel. Depending on your arrival time and hotel check-in policy, you may not be able to check into your hotel room immediately upon arrival at your hotel. Your Program Director will advise you of your check-in status and activity schedule for the day when you arrive.

    You have the balance of the day to relax after your overseas flight.

    Celebrate your arrival in Romania with a Welcome Drink, and get acquainted with your traveling companions and your Program Director. This evening, enjoy dinner at your hotel.

  • See the Romanian Athenaeum while touring Bucharest

    This morning, get acquainted with Bucharest on a panoramic tour. This is an old city that has served as the capital of Wallachia and later Romania since 1659. Today, it is noted for its broad, tree-lined boulevards, well-kept parks, and mix of architectural styles that combine Neo-Classical 19th-century structures with monumental 20th-century edifices (the latter built for the most part to satisfy the late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu). You'll view the Arc de Triomphe (commemorating the achievements of World War I soldiers) and drive along Victory Avenue to Revolution Square, where recent events in history are inscribed.

    After an included lunch at a local restaurant, travel by motorcoach to Constanta, where we board our ship to begin the Black Sea cruise portion of your journey. You'll also be joined today by the travelers who took our optional Transylvania pre-trip extension.

    This evening, enjoy a Welcome Drink and meet your ship's crew. Then, your Program Director will describe tomorrow's discoveries during your first Port Talk. These nightly events, held throughout your cruise, will give you the opportunity to prepare for the next day.

    Tonight, we enjoy dinner onboard.

  • Encounter friendly and helpful staff aboard the private river ship

    This morning, enjoy a guided tour of Constanta, a Romanian Black Sea port that is the country's oldest continually inhabited city. Dating back more than 2,500 years, Constanta boasts a wealth of fascinating architecture and history. Myth holds that Jason and the Argonauts stopped here after recovering the legendary Golden Fleece. On your included tour, you'll explore the beguiling city center, the Cathedral of Saints Peter & Paul, the mosaic-paved Roman Edifice of Tomis, the Art Nouveau Constanta Casino, and other highlights of this beloved city.

    Following lunch, your Danube and Black Sea River Cruise begins by sailing into the Danube-Black Sea Canal, a 40-mile engineering marvel begun in 1949, but not fully completed until 1987. You'll pass through the canal's lock system and cruise by the inland port towns of Murfatlar and Medgidia.

    Tonight, celebrate the start of your Eastern European odyssey at the Captain's Welcome Dinner.

  • Explore historic Ruse on the Eastern Europe cruise

    Early this morning, arrive in Ruse, which is situated where the Danube forms a natural border between Romania and Bulgaria.

    Disembark after breakfast for an excursion to discover two key Bulgarian historic sites: Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanassi. First, travel by motorcoach to Veliko Tarnovo, the capital of Bulgaria from 1186 until 1394. This cultural center rewards visitors with views of the fortification wall atop Zarevez Hill, the cobblestoned old city, ancient ruins, and a steep ravine plunging down from two towering promontories.

    Continue on to Arbanassi, a historical village of Bulgarian heritage. Its 80 houses, five churches, and two monasteries reflect a unique, fortress-like architectural style of the 17th and 18th centuries, when the village flourished. Enjoy free time to make your own discoveries, and savor typical Bulgarian fare at a local restaurant.

  • Encounter friendly staff on the private river ship

    This morning, enjoy panoramic views of Bulgaria en route to Vidin.

    After lunch, you'll arrive in Vidin, Bulgaria's main port on the Danube. Here we'll enjoy an included walking tour and a visit to Baba Vida, a medieval fortress of two walls and four towers. Baba Vida was the city's main defense in the Middle Ages and also the most important fortress of northwestern Bulgaria.

  • You have a day of leisurely cruising, and a good opportunity to observe life along the banks of the Danube from your comfortable deck chair as your Program Director provides insights about the region. After breakfast, enjoy a bridge commentary about the Danube River. Later in the morning, join us in an exclusive Discovery Series discussion on Life Under Communism with your Program Director. Then, after lunch onboard, join the chef in the galley (the ship's kitchen) for a special tour.

    Throughout the day, you'll cruise along a stretch of the Danube that was once a raging river pounding through deep gorges. In the 1960s, Yugoslavia and Romania cooperated on a joint venture that raised the level of the Danube with a series of hydroelectric dams called the Iron Gates. The Danube is now placid between the Iron Gates, the craggy two-mile long gorge now underwater. In the morning, you'll pass through Iron Gate II; you'll continue through Iron Gate I in the early evening.

  • The Starogradska Music of Serbia

    Sing along to Starogradska music—the traditional songs of love and longing that warm the hearts of Belgrade’s tavern patrons.

    Take in the view along the banks of the Danube this morning as we cruise toward Belgrade, the capital of Serbia (and former capital of Yugoslavia), one of Europe's oldest cities, and the center of political and cultural life in the country. Belgrade and the rest of Serbia are just now emerging from many years of repressive rule, with a welcoming spirit for visitors.

    Enjoy a full morning in Belgrade, beginning with an included tour around this grand old city, which was built centuries ago along important east-west trade routes and used as a gateway to Western Europe from the Balkans. You'll see the Town Hall, St. Sava Orthodox Cathedral—the largest Orthodox cathedral in the world—and the Kalemegdan fortress. You also explore the Tito Memorial, erected to honor Josip Broz Tito, who held Yugoslavia together as an independent country in the turmoil that followed World War II and the subsequent Cold War. After your tour, enjoy lunch onboard. Please note: The Tito Memorial is closed on Mondays.

    After lunch, explore the city on your own—you'll have a shuttle bus to and from the city available for your use. Your Program Director will have suggestions for various local sights and activities for learning and discovery.

    This evening, join a local resident for an exclusive Discovery Series discussion about their lives in this dynamic country. Enjoy tonight's dinner onboard.

  • Discover local culture at a Home Hosted Lunch in Osijek

    After breakfast this morning, enjoy an included tour of Novi Sad, Serbia's cultural hub and second-largest city. The beauty of the city is in its name—novi sad in English translates to "new garden." Nestled along a bend in the Danube River, Novi Sad is peppered with myriad historical and cultural monuments, verdant parks, bustling squares, a thriving pedestrian zone, and a history-rich fortress standing tall on the right bank of the river.

    After lunch onboard, the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure to further discover Novi Sad on your own. Perhaps you'll choose to explore the Petrovaradin Fortress, built between 1692 and 1780 by the Austrians as a defense against invading Turks. Declared a historical monument 200 years later, this partially restored fortress is now a museum. Delve deep into its strange past, including a twelve-mile network of underground tunnels, a mysterious well with supposed links to black magic, and an iconic clock tower on which the size of the minute and hour hands are reversed.

    Or, join us on an optional excursion to Sremski Karlovci, a culture-rich town just ten miles southeast of Novi Sad. Spend the afternoon exploring the town, including visits to a beekeeping museum and a 300-year-old wine cellar.

    This evening, after dinner onboard, enjoy a musical performance.

  • See an organ concert at a cathedral in Kalocsa

    After docking this morning and passing through customs in Vukovar—site of the worst artillery shelling of the Croatian-Serbian war—you'll take a short walk through the town and see some of its scars, as well as witness its revival. Then you'll set out to explore Osijek, the administrative and economic center of eastern Croatia.

    Situated on the Drava River, about 15 miles from the mouth of the Danube, the area the city occupies was populated even in prehistoric times, and the Romans erected the first urban settlement. But its advantageous geographical location made it prey to assault throughout the centuries. It was destroyed by the Huns, rebuilt in the Middle Ages, destroyed by the Turks, and rebuilt again in the 18th century. As a result, Osijek boasts an eclectic architectural heritage, which you'll see on your city tour.

    Among the more notable sites are the Tvrdja, a unique urban and military complex that lies in the center of the city and was built between 1712 and 1721 by the new Austrian authorities; a neo-Gothic Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, with a 290-foot spire; and a striking, 690-foot modern pedestrian bridge that rises over the Drava. Reliving its own cruel history in our era, Osijek was heavily damaged during the Croatian-Serbian war that waged from 1991 to 1995. Now peaceful, the city is experiencing a rebirth of civic pride and cultural and economic achievement.

    Following your walking tour, partake in two exclusive Discovery Series events. First, visit with students at a local school (when in session) supported, in part, by Grand Circle Foundation. Then, enhance your appreciation for everyday Croatian life as you join a local family for a Home-Hosted Lunch.

    Later this afternoon, transfer by motorcoach to Batina, where you'll meet your ship. Dinner is onboard this evening, followed by a special Crew Show in the lounge.

  • Prague and Budapest

    Join travel expert Rudy Maxa to discover the Old World splendor on display in Prague and Budapest.

    After breakfast, you'll set out to explore Budapest on an included city tour. Budapest is situated on both sides of the Danube River, with Buda (the right bank) to the west and Pest (the left bank) to the east.

    In Pest, you'll see Heroes' Square, with its Millennial Column set off by equestrian statues of the ninth-century Magyar leaders who conquered this region in the ninth century. The adjoining colonnade displays more statues of kings, dukes of Transylvania, and liberty fighters who influenced the history of Hungary.

    As your tour takes you over the Danube bridges into Buda, you can see how the imposing Parliament Building dominates Pest on the opposite side of the river. Then, turn your attention to beautiful and historic Buda. Here, you'll visit Castle Hill, where a massive castle, including its protective ramparts, has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mostly destroyed during World War II, the Royal Palace has been lovingly restored, approximating its former splendor, and now includes the Hungarian National Gallery.

    In your free time, you can also visit the Church of Our Lady, formerly used for the coronations of Hungarian kings. Its popular name of Matthias is in recognition of the Renaissance king who ruled in the 15th century and whose heraldic sign—a raven—is displayed on one of the towers of the church. Dating to the 13th century, the structure is an interesting mix of architectural styles used during reconstruction of the building at different times in its history. Note that during the 150-year Turkish occupation of Hungary, the church served as Eski Djami (Old Mosque) for the Turks. Inside the church you can view art of Bertalan Szekely and Karoly Lotz, 19th-century Hungarian painters.

    After lunch onboard, you'll enjoy free time to relax or explore Budapest on your own.

    Budapest offers some particularly fine museums and galleries. The Hungarian National Gallery contains excellent examples of Hungarian art from the Middle Ages on. The collection is comprehensive and somewhat massive, so give yourself plenty of time to enjoy it. Parliament, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Budapest History Museum are also worth a visit.

    This afternoon, continue your discoveries in Budapest on your own.

    Tonight, dinner is onboard.

  • Discover Budapest while cruising the Danube River

    Spend the day enjoying the wonders of Budapest on your own. Or, join an optional tour exploring Hungarian Jewish Heritage. You'll visit the Great Synagogue, the largest in Europe, designed in a Moorish style but with Byzantine, Romantic, and Gothic elements. Then you'll see the Kazinczy Street Orthodox Synagogue, the center of traditional orthodox Jewish life here; the Emanuel Memorial Tree, a memorial to Hungarian victims of the Holocaust; and the Jewish Museum.

    After lunch onboard, the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure to make further discoveries on your own in Budapest.

    This evening marks the last night of your Danube River and Black Sea cruise.

    • Meals included:

    After breakfast, disembark and transfer to the airport for your flight home.

  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Prague, Czech Republic

    4 nights from only $795

    Discover the “City of 100 Spires,” the name given to Prague for its many hilltop neighborhoods, where rows of steeples stand out against the city’s skyline. An ancient city and new cultural capital for Eastern Europe, Prague exudes Old World character and a modern, vibrant spirit. Wander about the city’s twisting cobblestone streets and old neighborhoods, where ancient houses crowd each other along narrow lanes. Experience the museums and cathedrals that make Prague stand out as one of Europe’s finest cities.

    View Extension Itinerary
  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Vienna, Austria

    3 nights from only $595

    Explore Vienna, Austria—a magnificent, culture-rich hub that retains the grace and charm that has helped it stand out among great European cities for centuries, and walk the streets where Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, and Freud strolled. Once the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Vienna came to symbolize the splendor of an age, one recaptured by wandering among the city’s Baroque palaces and other stunning architecture.

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