Danube River Cruise
June 24-July 5, 2017 • 12 Days • $4600
Romania • Bulgaria • Serbia • Croatia • Hungary • Slovakia • Austria
Join us for a unique Adventure that combines walking, river cruising, and Old World history and culture! This 7-country Danube River Cruise takes us through Eastern Europe, starting in Bucharest, and continuing on through Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, and Austria.
June 21-24, 2017 • 4 Days • $1100
Though travelers on the main Danube River Cruise itinerary see Romania during one port of call and a day in Bucharest, traveling over the Carpathian Mountains into Transylvania on the optional pre-tour program takes us into a completely different, and more culturally and scenically vivid region of Romania. Since you are already traveling all the way to Romania, we highly recommend that you join us for the optional Transylvania Pre-tour! When reading the daily itinerary, be advised that Day 4 of the Transylvania Pre-tour overlaps with Day 1 of the main tour.
WATCH A BRIEF VIDEO
WAI Guide Scott Isom presents an overview of the Danube River Cruise 2017 at one of our Tour Presentations.
To enlarge, click symbol in right corner.
Our tour through Eastern Europe takes place aboard a small ship, the M/S River Navigator, and we will enjoy a program of walks and sightseeing that includes memorable moments such as:
- Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest, three beautiful Old World capitals built on the banks of the Danube
- Two stops in fascinating Serbia, including surprising Belgrade, and the chance to enjoy the pastoral scenes of the countryside on a delightful excursion to the village of Jarak
- Walks in Bucharest, Romania; Belogradchik Rocks, Bulgaria; Belgrade and Novi Sad, Serbia; Osijek, Croatia; Budapest, Hungary; and Bratislava, Slovakia
We will be sailing up the Danube River on the M/S River Navigator. Built in 2002 and completely renovated from hull up in 2013, the River Navigator is the epitome of style and elegance! Her public areas consist of an elegant restaurant, a 1950’s-themed Rat Pack bar, a wonderful panorama lounge, a cozy library, and an oversized covered sun deck offering fabulous views of the passing countryside. All standard twin cabins are 165 sq ft in size and are spread over 4 decks. With a maximum load of 134 passengers serviced by a crew of 36 the River Navigator is sure to please even the most discriminating travelers!
Check out the deckplan for the M/S River Navigator.
- All land travel as outlined
- Arrival group transfers on first day*
- Superior tourist-class (3 star) or better hotel accommodations
- 5 meals: All breakfasts and 2 dinners**
- 2 walks as listed
- Fees for walking credit (IVV sanctions requested)
- Two WAI tour leaders throughout
- Cultural and historical expertise of local guide throughout
- Tips for guides, coach drivers and group meals
- A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $150
- Peleș Castle – Sinaia
- Braşov City walking tour – Braşov
- Dracula Castle – Bran
- Special dinner: Carpati Stag Folklore – Braşov
Danube River Cruise
- All land travel as outlined
- Arrival and departure group transfers on first and last day*
- Port fees and cruise fuel surcharges (subject to change)
- Accommodations for 1 night in Bucharest in a superior tourist-class (3 star) or better hotel
- Accommodations for 10 nights in cabins aboard our ship, the M/S River Navigator
- 30 meals: All breakfasts, 8 lunches and 11 dinners**
- 7 walks as listed, with commentary by local guides
- Fees for walking credit (IVV sanctions requested)
- Onboard lectures and folklore performances/music concerts
- Live musicians each evening
- Two WAI tour leaders throughout
- Local guide service at ports of call
- Cultural and historical expertise and on-board lectures by our cruise directors
- Tips to local guides/coach drivers (tips for on-ship personnel not included)
The Adventure price includes cabins in CATEGORY C on the Explorer Deck. Travelers can choose less expensive accommodations by reserving space in CATEGORY D. Upgrades are available in CATEGORIES B or A. Space in all categories is limited. See pricing options below:
- CATEGORY A: $345 per person upgrade
- CATEGORY B: $115 per person upgrade
- CATEGORY C: Included in tour price
- CATEGORY D: $288 per person credit
Check out the deckplan for the M/S River Navigator.
- Belogradchik Fortress and Belogradchik Rocks Natural Landmark – Bulgaria
- Baba Vida Fortress – Bulgaria
- Lunch at a local home in Jarak – Serbia
- Serbian folkdance performance – Serbia
- Petrovaradin Fortress – Serbia
- Guided city tours by coach of Budapest and Vienna
- More fun and educational activities than we can list!
- Serbian Winery – Serbia (Day 6)
- Hungarian State Folk Ensemble – Hungary (Day 8)
- Schönbrunn Palace – Austria (Day 11)
- Classical Vienna Concert – Austria (Day 11)
*Details of transfers provided are listed in Adventure Advice memo sent upon receipt of tour registration
** (BLD) indicates included meals: breakfast, lunch, or dinner
“SHIP—staff, services, food, cleanliness was all top Flight…Walking Adventures patrons are delightful & interesting people…Tim & Jeannette—thank you. Your hard work is evident in all you do!”
-Ann-Michele G; Owings Mills, MD
“The ship was fantastic. All the staff was so friendly…Guides in all walks were amazing! The walks seemed to hit most of the highlights & the guides were incredibly informative…Enjoy being able to walk while sightseeing…The guides were wonderful! I loved seeing the dances from each country, especially the Hungarian Folklore Performance. The night cruise through Budapest was a perfect ending to our stay there.”
-Christy P; The Woodlands, TX
“The local guides were all excellent in my opinion…I plan (definitely) to travel again with WAI…Tim & Jeannette did a marvelous job ‘herding us cats’ and taking care of numerous details—much appreciated!!! You guys are really professional and fun.”
-Bob N; Medford, OR
“I really loved the Transylvanian Alp walk. Good guides with English skills and an open and honest attitude…We like where you go, the balance of organized time & free time, and the casual, informal attitude.”
-Margie H; Bellingham, WA
“After 28 tours with you—that should tell you something! Great trip, great tour, Tim & Jeannette! You were great and we thank you for your life-saving assistance. Many beautiful sights and memories to take home with us.”
-Shari S; Cheney, WA
“Ship exceptionally good value, outstanding staff, very clean, good food!…Debbi Custer was very helpful in arranging airport transfer & extra hotel days…Tim & Jeannette extremely thoughtful, thorough, detail oriented & concerned with providing a good experience…Impressed with amount of planning & coordination done by Tim & Jeannette. Special events a nice surprise—wine tasting/dinner/dancing in Braşov and lunch at farm in Serbia especially nice.”
-Eric G; Owings Mills, MD
“I really appreciated the location of the Bucharest hotel. From there, we spent several extra days watching a concert at the Athenian, taking a tour through the Houses of Parliament, and several walking tours…The ship’s crew was extremely attentive and friendly…I love the guided walks with local guides that live and breathe the history, culture, and traditions of the areas you’re visiting.”
-Martin M; The Woodlands, TX
“Very informative guides. Great talks. I was impressed at the knowledge the guides had and how they were able to teach us about their countries…Most important to me is the information that we receive from the talks about the countries that we are in. The tour highlights the important aspects that you would miss doing the trip on your own.”
-Barb G; ON, Canada
“Always classy trips with WAI.”
-Maureen P; Long Branch, NJ
“Quality of locations, walks, guides and fellow travelers – blend of group activities and flexibility for individuals are characteristics that prompt me to come back…Scott did an awesome job!! Great personality and planning skills, plus able to juggle multiple challenges at the same time.”
-Steve B; Springfield, VA
“Interesting places to walk & WAI staff is great!..Magical cruise on the Danube in Budapest at night!! I shall never forget the sight. My serendipity was the visit to the school house & the witty curator, school master.”
-Thelma Y; Spokane, WA
“Great guides, interesting itineraries, nice combo of walks and sightseeing and compatible people to travel with, is what prompts us to return…Val Gardena is absolutely beautiful! Great walks in Bratislava & Budapest—both are beautiful cities. Being on the Danube was very enjoyable. We learned a lot about Eastern Europe which has always been a mysterious place to me. Peles Castle was marvelous!”
-John & Jane M; Matthews, NC
“I felt the organization and coordination of everything was very well done…Many Highlights: Scenery in the Dolomites, Otsi—the Iceman—many more.”
-Karen D; NS, CANADA
“I feel Scott is a person I would have guide me anywhere—he’s a natural. Great job!..
Thank you for giving us the experience of each of these towns, history and special geographical differences. I would not change any of them!”
-Chris Z & Holly P; San Jose, CA
Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5
Tim & Jeannette Friesen. Tim serves as a high school music teacher in Molalla, Oregon, while Jeannette works part time in the WAI office helping travelers over the phone and generally keeping the rest of us organized. Tim and Jeannette currently lead summertime walking adventures, primarily in Europe, and are looking forward to the time they can leave their day jobs behind and hit the trail on a year-round basis.
Day 1-Jun 21: Arrive Bucharest, Romania
You arrive today in the capital of Romania and will be met by a representative of Walking Adventures as you exit customs at the Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport. Because flights tend to arrive late in the day, no group activities are scheduled for this evening and dinner is on your own. Your guide team will meet you as you arrive with orientation tips and dinner suggestions.
Day 2-Jun 22: Bucharest – Brașov, Romania (BD)
Brașov, Romania Walk – 5 km, rated 1B
Following breakfast at our hotel, we leave Bucharest by coach for the Carpathian Mountain resort town of Sinaia, and a tour of Peleș Castle, residence of the last Romanian monarch. Our final destination is medieval Braşov, where a walk through this old Germanic town takes us into the nostalgic First Romanian School, past the Black Cathedral, and down winding cobblestone lanes back to our hotel.
Day 3-Jun 23: Activities from Brașov (BD)
Transylvanian Alps Walk – 6 km, rated 3B
Today’s walk offers eye-popping panoramas of the Transylvanian Alps and traditional Romanian farms with picturesque haystacks plopped on sloping hillsides like giant mushrooms. After lunch in the village of Bran, we visit the “Dracula Castle”, a 14th century link to the story of Count Vlad, “the Impaler.” Count Vlad was the inspiration for the fictional Count Dracula. Later tonight back in Braşov, we enjoy a memorable dinner accompanied by folk music and dance.
Day 4-Jun 24: Brașov – Bucharest (B)
A morning drive takes us back across the Carpathian Mountains to Bucharest. After hotel check-in, the afternoon is free to explore Bucharest from our hotel. This evening, we rendezvous with travelers arriving for the cruise-only part of the tour for a Welcome Orientation to the Danube River Cruise, followed by a fun dinner together at a traditional Romanian beer hall.
Danube River Cruise
Day 1-Jun 24: Arrive Bucharest, Romania (D)
You arrive today in the capital of Romania and will be met by a representative of Walking Adventures as you exit customs at the Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport. Our first group activity is a Welcome Orientation this evening at our hotel in the heart of Bucharest, followed by a fun cultural dinner in a venerable old Romanian beer hall!
Day 2-Jun 25: Embark at Turnu Măgurele, Romania (BD)
Bucharest, Romania Walk – 8 km, rated 1A
This morning’s walk connects many of the highlights of Bucharest, including the Senate, where hated dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu made his famous last speech, the lovely 19th century Romanian Athenaeum music hall, the National Opera, and the massive Ceauşescu inspiration known as the Palace of the Parliament. Following the walk, and free time for lunch, we depart by coach through bucolic Romanian landscapes to Turnu Măgurele. Here we embark on the M/S River Navigator, our home for the next 10 nights on our voyage up the Danube River.
Day 3-Jun 26: Port of call: Vidin, Bulgaria (BLD)
Belogradchik Rocks/Vidin, Bulgaria Walk – 5 km, rated 2C
Join the cruise director, during the morning’s sailing, for a lecture about the Danube region. Late morning, we meet the captain and his crew, sharing a toast for a memorable voyage that sets the stage for lunch. From Vidin, we drive by coach to Belogradchik Rocks, a group of bizarre formations hailed as one of Bulgaria’s natural wonders. Following our afternoon walk here, we return to Vidin to explore 13th century Baba Vida fortress before taking dinner back aboard the M/S River Navigator.
Day 4-Jun 27: Sailing – Iron Gates (BLD)
Today’s cruise transits the highest natural gorge on the Danube. Over 100 km long, “The Iron Gates” posed a major navigational obstacle until the Djerdap Hydroelectric and Navigation System was completed in 1972. With no ports of call today, there is plenty of time to relax, or participate in a free-style history/cultural discussion with our cruise directors as we cruise through a moving postcard.
Day 5-Jun 28: Port of call: Belgrade, Serbia (BLD)
Belgrade, Serbia Walk – 8 km, rated 2A
We start our day with an enlightening walk through the vibrant city of Belgrade, including sights such as Belgrade Fortress and Kalemegdan Park, the Parliament Building, and Princess Ljubica’s Manor. It’s difficult to believe this bustling, upbeat city was the target of NATO bombing raids a little more than 15 years ago. This afternoon, we drive through pastoral Serbian countryside to the village of Jarak, where a local family provides a delicious homemade lunch, accompanied by a small band of local musicians. After dinner, a professional dance troupe from Belgrade provides a high energy performance of Serbian folk music and dance.
Day 6-Jun 29: Port of call: Novi Sad, Serbia (BLD)
Novi Sad, Serbia Walk – 5 km, rated 1A
Pedestrian-friendly Novi Sad is the venue for our second walk in Serbia. The route passes the dramatic, 17th century Petrovaradin Fortress, strategic post during ongoing wars between Serbs, Austrians, and invading Turks. Later, the route winds between traditional Old World architecture and past inviting sidewalk cafes in the appealing historic district. An optional afternoon excursion into the bucolic Serbian countryside reveals the surprising story of a local legend – a beekeeper turned vintner. As we dine aboard ship this evening, we set sail again along the Danube towards Croatia.
Day 7-Jun 30: Port of call: Osijek, Croatia (BLD)
Osijek, Croatia Walk – 5 km, rating unknown
A new stop in Croatia takes us to the oldest and best-preserved ensemble of Baroque buildings in Croatia. The Tvrđa (Citadel) forms the core of the Old Town and houses the Church of the Holy Cross, Franciscan Monastery, Homeland War Monument, Jesuit Monastery, and several other architectural gems. We look forward to a concert in the Church of the Holy Cross as part of our visit, and perhaps a stroll on the promenade along the River Drava.
Day 8-Jul 1: Port of call: Budapest, Hungary (BLD)
Following lunch, we arrive into Budapest and enjoy a guided coach tour of this historic “Queen of the Danube” with highlights such as the Parliament Building, St. Stefan Church, the Opera, Heroes Square, and the Millennium Monument. The afternoon is free, and your WAI guide will share several ideas to see a different side of Budapest.
Optional evening excursion – Hungarian State Folk Ensemble: See some of Hungary’s best folklore dancers and musicians in an elegant Old World setting! The Ensemble consists of 30 dancers, 14 members of the Gypsy Orchestra, and 5 members of the Hungarian Folk Orchestra.
Day 9-Jul 2: Activities from Budapest, Hungary (BLD)
Budapest, Hungary Walk – 10 km, rated 1A
The Hungarian walking club meets us today for a guided walk featuring Budapest panoramas along both banks of the Danube and out to Margaret Island. After lunch back aboard ship, the afternoon is free to explore Budapest, arguably the most interesting and beautiful town along the Danube. Join us on the Sun Deck when the ship weighs anchor tonight and sails between the illuminated bridges and monuments of Budapest!
Day 10-Jul 3 Port of call: Bratislava, Slovakia (BLD)
Bratislava, Slovakia Walk – 5 km, rated 2A
We glide through picturesque Hungarian countryside this morning, enjoying a final lecture by our cruise directors. Charming Bratislava is one of the Danube’s best kept secrets. Following lunch, a guided walk takes us past highlights like St. Martin’s Cathedral, the Castle and Primate’s Palace, Michael’s Gate, Michael’s Tower, Main Square, Old Town Hall, and Slovak National Theatre. Back aboard ship, this evening’s highlight is the Captain’s gala dinner!
Day 11-Jul 4: Port of call: Vienna, Austria (BD)
Vienna is the historic capital of the Hapsburg Dynasty, the most powerful and enduring in European history. The morning coach/walking tour highlights renowned architectural gems such as the State Opera, the Parliament, the Burgtheater, and St. Stephan’s Cathedral, as well as the bustling pedestrian zone. Afternoon options include a visit to Schönbrunn Palace, or consider staying in Vienna for more time to explore this vibrant city! Following dinner back aboard ship, an optional evening classical concert is the preferred way to spend the night in Vienna.
Optional afternoon excursion – Schönbrunn Palace: A guided tour of the lovely gardens and rooms of the palace introduces us to the life and times of Queen Maria Theresa, beloved 18th century Hapsburg monarch and matriarch.
Optional evening excursion – Classical Vienna Concert: The “Viennese Residence Orchestra”, a Vienna chamber orchestra, shares a program consisting of compositions by Johann Strauss, the “King of Waltz”, and musical genius W.A. Mozart. The concert takes place within the Imperial Palace (Hofburg) of the Hapsburg dynasty.
Day 12-Jul 5: Depart Vienna, Austria (B)
Following breakfast, we say farewell to the crew of the M/S River Navigator and head for the airport, enriched forever by our connection with the history, culture, and scenery of the Danube River region.
How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?
We are now accepting registrations. Call us to save your spot with a $1000 registration. A maximum of 30 travelers will be accepted.
Already Early Birded?
If you are among the travelers who submitted a $50 Early Bird deposit, you have until August 24 to secure your spot with an additional $950 (total of $1000) registration.
Modified Payment Terms
Because of the ship’s payment terms, our standard payment and cancellations terms must be modified. A full deposit of $1000 is due at the time of registration to hold your spot. Of this amount, $500 is non-refundable at time of payment, and the second $500 is non-refundable as of January 31, 2017. Final payment is then due March 23, 2017, and is non-refundable at that time. As always, you will be reminded with an invoice a couple of weeks before final payment is due.
General Tour Conditions and Registration Form
First Time Traveler Savings
In appreciation for joining us for your first Walking Adventure, we offer new travelers a $400 credit on this Adventure!
Group Travel Credit
If you are part of a group, remember that your full deposit of $1000 is still required to hold your spot on this Adventure. Your group leader is responsible to submit your name in writing to us before you make your $1000 registration payment, qualifying you for the Group Travel Credit. A full registration payment is needed to officially reserve your place. Your Group Travel Credit will be reflected on your final statement.
IVV Stamps for walking in six countries
Stamps will be requested in 6 of the countries through which we sail. Due to the timing of the ship program, we have a walking tour of Vienna, Austria, but are not including a formal IVV sanctioned walk in Austria. Vienna is a world-class city and we decided not to crowd our schedule in Vienna by including another walk. Travelers who would like to participate in an IVV sanctioned walk in Austria after the cruise are welcome to contact us for information on how to connect with a club in one of the towns near Vienna. The travel agent with whom we work would be happy to help you book a hotel for an extra night in lovely Vienna!
How is airfare arranged?
The official starting point for the Danube River Cruise is Bucharest, Romania; the finish point is Vienna, Austria. We recommend that you contact the travel agent we work with to help book your flight arrangements. In this age of airfare complications and airport uncertainty, using a travel agent is a good investment! More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided in the Adventure Advice flyer, mailed to you after you register for the Adventure. Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving the Adventure Advice flyer!
WAI believes strongly in the importance of travel insurance for financial and medical protection from any number of unforeseen circumstances that can arise before departure or during your Adventure.
Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Debbi Custer of World Travel Inc., a travel agent who provides air travel services to many WAI travelers, can provide travel insurance options for your WAI tour as well as your airfare (call 888-276-0925 / 503-231-9507 -OR- email firstname.lastname@example.org). For those of you who purchase airfare through Debbi, purchasing your travel insurance from her as well may be the simplest option. As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using the Insuremytrip.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.
Here are some additional options for travel insurance:
- Travel Guard
- Travel Insured International
We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). In addition, be aware that some travel insurance policies contain time-sensitive provisions—i.e. some benefits are available only if the policy is purchased within a certain number of days of the purchase of the travel package.
What about the walks?
We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. Many walks on this trip are oriented towards history and culture, which slows the average pace to allow for guide commentary. Walks with less commentary generally continue at a steadier pace. In most cases, we are not “strolling.”; we are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. Walks on this Adventure are guided walks. The success of the walks is therefore predicated upon walkers having this minimum level of fitness. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please contact our office at 1.800.779.0353.
We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system that is similar to one used by the American Volkssport Association (AVA), which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented below.
1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.
A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.
What happens next?
Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome letter, initial invoice, and Adventure Advice flyer with important information about steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you receive the Adventure Advice flyer. The final payment for the program is due 90 days before departure, and you will receive a final billing about 2 weeks prior to that point, along with a factsheet of additional information about the Adventure to help you get prepared! Then, about 3 weeks before departure, you will receive a final packet with all the details of the program, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed daily schedule.
We look forward to enjoying this fascinating region of Europe with you as we set sail on the Danube River Cruise!