Emerald Waterways’ Danube Delights cruise covers one of the most popular stretches of the Danube, from Nuremberg, Germany to the Hungarian capital of Budapest. You’ll sail through four countries, whose citizens speak three different languages, and every day will bring you to a new city or town—each with its own particular atmosphere and highlights. The astounding variety of experiences on the Danube Delights itinerary embodies the best of European river cruises: Medieval Regensburg, Baroque Passau, and the 19th-century boulevards of Budapest are all waiting to be explored.
While many lines offer Danube cruises, Emerald Waterways’ various programs elevate their cruises to another level. EmeraldACTIVE excursions allow guests to explore ports on guided hikes or bike rides. DiscoverMORE activities are ideal for those who want to venture deeper into the local culture, whether it’s to discover Vienna’s classical music or Hungary’s folklore traditions. EmeraldPLUS experiences take you to meet residents, creating opportunities for connections that may prove more memorable than the most opulent palace.
Itinerary / 8 DAYSPLAN YOUR TRIP
DAY 1Arrive Nuremberg
Nuremberg’s most famous landmark is the Imperial Castle, which looms over the rest of the city. The sometime seat of the Holy Roman emperors, and later of the kings of Bavaria, this imposing castle has been the site of many key moments in German history. After you return to your ship, you’ll get a close look at a more recent landmark, and an engineering wonder—the Main-Danube Canal, which links the rivers of Germany to the Danube. Then head to dinner and meet some of your fellow guests.
On board the ship, you can enjoy a first taste of the EmeraldPLUS approach to cruising. Emerald Waterways aims to make every guest’s experience of a destination richer as it goes beyond the ordinary. Today, that includes a live performance of traditional Bavarian music—a perfect accompaniment on your first full day traveling down the Danube.
After your morning excursion, you’ll return to the ship for lunch and to continue your journey down the Danube.
Alternatively, you can opt for a visit to Salzburg. This Austrian city was the birthplace of Mozart, and music remains at the heart of its cultural life. (The composer also loaned his name to one of the city’s most delicious exports, Mozartkugel—a dark chocolate with a pistachio and marzipan center.) The excursion to Salzburg is offered as part of the DiscoverMORE program (at an extra charge), and you’ll have to choose between it and Passau. But whichever option you pick, you won’t be disappointed!
DAY 4Melk and Dürnstein
After visiting the abbey, you’ll travel by ship through the Wachau Valley, one of the most beautiful stretches of the Danube. You’ll pass riverside villages and vineyards that reach the water’s edge as you make your way to Dürnstein. The town is home to the ruins of Dürnstein Castle, where Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned on his way home following a crusade to the Holy Land.
To add some exercise, choose from two EmeraldACTIVE excursions: a guided bike ride from Melk to Dürnstein, or a hike up to Dürnstein Castle.
If you’d rather explore the city on two wheels (it’s relatively flat), there’s an EmeraldACTIVE guided bike tour. In the evening, you can embrace classical music in this city where Beethoven, Brahms, Haydn, and others lived and worked for at least periods of their lives. Or choose to experience an exclusive DiscoverMORE concert (at an extra charge), featuring works by Mozart and Strauss.
Today it’s one of Europe’s smaller capital cities, with just over 400,000 residents. But, sitting at the crossroads of the continent, it has embraced a remarkable diversity of influences. Austrians, Czech, Germans, Hungarians, Slovaks, and others have all shaped Bratislava. Your tour will start in the Old City, where highlights include the Town Hall (with a museum covering the history of the city), the rococo Mirbach Palace, and the gothic Cathedral of St. Martin. The Primate’s Palace, next to the Town Hall, has a dazzling Hall of Mirrors and a rare collection of 17th-century English tapestries.
Looming above the city is the Bratislava Castle. A fortress stood on this site as early as the 10th century, though it was remodeled, expanded, and rebuilt many times over the centuries. For a period, it was one of the favorite residences of the Hapsburg kings and queens. If you hike to it with the EmeraldACTIVE outing, you can enjoy a slice of strudel when you reach the top without feeling any guilt. You could also skip the exercise part and go straight to the sweets if you join the EmeraldPLUS excursion that takes you into the home of Bratislava residents for coffee and cake. Just don’t spoil your appetite: The Captain’s Gala Dinner is scheduled for this evening.
Over on the Pest side, a DiscoverMORE tour (with an extra charge, select sailings only) focuses on the city’s Jewish heritage. Among the more dazzling landmarks you’ll visit is the Dohány Street Synagogue, a glittering building from the 1850s that reflects the prosperity of Budapest’s Jewish community at the time. While thousands of Hungarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust, an estimated six percent of Hungary’s population is Jewish. The Jewish Quarter is not simply a monument to a lost past; it remains one of Budapest’s most vibrant neighborhoods to this day.
In the evening, you’ll enjoy one of the most enchanting perspectives on Budapest as you travel along the Danube admiring the Chain Bridge, Buda Castle, and the neo-Gothic Parliament illuminated at night. Your final farewell dinner of traditional Hungarian dishes will be accompanied by a performance of folk dances and songs.