Detailed Itinerary Gems of Southeast Europe (Christmas)

CRUISE YEAR

7- Night Cruise


Day 1

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY – EMBARKATION
Board the ship for your Gems of Southeast Europe Christmas cruise. (D)

Day 2

MOHÁCS – PÉCS
Enjoy a scenic morning cruise to Mohács. You’ll then visit Pécs, founded more than 2,000 years ago by the Romans. Visit the UNESCO-designated Christian Necropolis; St. Peter’s Basilica, the city’s main Catholic cathedral along with its catacombs; and Széchenyi Square, the heart of Old Town Pécs. You will also see the Mosque of Pasha Qasim the Victorious, one of the symbols of the city.You’ll also have the opportunity to visit the delightful Pécs Christmas market with its sparkling Christmas tree in front of Town Hall. Or for wine connoisseurs, you’ll want to go to the Szekszárd wine region, one of the oldest red-wine-growing areas in Hungary, established more than 2,000 years ago. You may also take an exhilarating guided bike tour around Mohács. (B,L,D)

Budapest

Day 3

VUKOVAR, CROATIA – NOVI SAD, SERBIA
Vukovar is a Croatian symbol of resistance, which you’ll better understand on your city tour showcasing the Ovčara Memorial and Eltz Manor House. While there, experience the festive, warm atmosphere of the holidays when visiting a traditional Croatian Christmas Market. Embrace the holiday cheer and rich culture as you listen to Christmas melodies, taste sweet and savory delights and shop for traditional handcrafted goods. Alternatively, choose a wine tasting in Ilok, a center of wine production since Roman times, where you’ll sample its famous Grasevina, Traminac and Frankovka wines. Back on board, cruise to Novi Sad, sometimes called the “Serbian Athens.” Discover Novi Sad on a walking tour to Dunavski Park and through Stari Grad, the Old Town center. Serbia celebrates the holidays with festive Winter Markets as they have an extended Christmas period, following the Orthodox calendar where Christmas falls on the 7th of January and the New Year on the 14th. Experience firsthand unique Orthodox traditions at Serbia’s first and oldest Winter Market where you’ll see the grand Singing Christmas Tree where choirs from all over the region gather to perform every day. During the evening, visit Petrovaradin Fortress, a mighty stronghold no enemy has ever breached. (B,L,D)

Vukovar

Day 4

BELGRADE
Explore Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, on a city tour, which includes the Nikola Tesla Museum, encompassing the world-renowned inventor’s life and inventions, as well as the Kalemegdan Fortress and the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava, the largest such church in the world. You’ll have time to explore Belgrade’s Winter Fest where the main square brims with holiday delights with colorful Christmas Market stalls, an ice-skating rink, concerts and more. Alternatively, you can hike to Belgrade Fortress. Later in the day, enjoy a taste of the region by sampling Serbian brandy, Šlivovitz, and delicious local delights at the Quburich Distillery. For those wishing a more active adventure, join a guided bike tour. (B,L,D)

Belgrade

Day 5

SCENIC CRUISING THROUGH THE IRON GATES
Visit Golubac Fortress – a medieval fortified town on the south side of the Danube River – before cruising through the Iron Gates. The Iron Gates is one of Europe’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders. The Danube narrows as it winds through a series of magnificent gorges between the Carpathian and Balkan mountains, forming a natural border between Serbia and Romania. The ancient King Decebalus, the last king of Dacia, is proudly carved into the mountainside and always captivates travelers. (B,L,D)

Iron Gates

Day 6

VIDIN, BULGARIA
Explore Vidin, one of Bulgaria’s oldest cities, and surrounding areas with a choice of excursions. Discover Baba Vida Fortress, the largest preserved medieval castle in Bulgaria. Alternatively, visit a local home for a demonstration of traditional Bulgarian yogurt and Banitsa, a pastry you will also get to make. You also have the choice to bike through Vidin and to the castle. (B,L,D)

Vidin

Day 7

ROUSSE – GIURGIU, ROMANIA
Visit Bulgaria’s ancient capital, Veliko Tarnovo, with its medieval fortress and multiple orthodox temples. Enjoy the magic of the holidays when learning about the Bulgarian traditions and folklore during Christmastime. You can opt instead to go to Rousse, known for its 19th- and 20th-century Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo architecture, and then afterwards visit the UNESCO-designated Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo with frescos revealing exceptional artistry of 14th-century paintings. Or travel through the Romanian countryside to the capital of Bucharest, known as the “Little Paris of the East.” Enjoy a panoramic tour of the historic city center and its elegant architecture. You’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the Bucharest Christmas market, shining bright in festive holiday lights, in front of the Palace of the Parliament. (B,L,D)

Rousse

Day 8

GIURIU – DISEMBARKATION
Bid farewell to Giurgiu as you prepare for your flight home. (B)

Day 1

EMBARKATION – GIURGIU, ROMANIA
Embark the ship in Giurgiu for your Gems of Southeast Europe Christmas Markets cruise.

Day 2

ROUSSE, BULGARIA
Experience more of Bucharest where you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the Bucharest Christmas market, shining bright in festive holiday lights, in front of the Palace of the Parliament. Or visit Bulgaria’s ancient capital, Veliko Tarnovo, with its medieval fortress and multiple orthodox temples, and enjoy the magic of the holidays when learning about the Bulgarian traditions and folklore during Christmastime. You can opt instead to explore Rousse, known for its 19th- and 20th-century Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo architecture, and then afterwards visit the UNESCO-designated Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo with frescos revealing exceptional artistry of 14th-century paintings. (B,L,D)

Rousse

Day 3

VIDIN, BULGARIA
Explore Vidin, one of Bulgaria’s oldest cities, and surrounding areas with a choice of excursions. Discover Baba Vida Fortress, the largest preserved medieval castle in Bulgaria, or visit a local home for a demonstration of traditional Bulgarian yogurt and Banitsa, a pastry you will also get to make. You also have the option to take an exhilarating bike tour through Vidin. Alternatively, you can bike through Vidin or enjoy a wine tasting. (B,L,D)

Vidin

Day 4

SCENIC CRUISING THROUGH THE IRON GATES
The Iron Gates are some of Europe’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders. The Danube narrows as it winds through a series of magnificent gorges between the Carpathian and Balkan mountains, forming a natural border between Serbia and Romania. The ancient King Decebalus, the last king of Dacia, is proudly carved into the mountainside and always captivates travelers. After your scenic cruise, you will arrive at Golubac Fortress – one of the best preserved medieval fortresses in Europe – for a tour. (B,L,D)

Iron Gates

Day 5

BELGRADE, SERBIA
Explore Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, on a city tour, which includes the Nikola Tesla Museum, encompassing the world-renowned inventor’s life and inventions, as well as the Kalemegdan Fortress and the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava, the largest such church in the world. Serbia celebrates the holidays with festive Winter Markets as they have an extended Christmas period, following the Orthodox calendar where Christmas falls on the 7th of January and the New Year on the 14th. You’ll have time to explore Belgrade’s Winter Fest where the main square brims with holiday delights with colorful Christmas Market stalls, an ice-skating rink, concerts and more. Alternatively, you can hike to Belgrade Fortress. Later in the day, enjoy a taste of the region by sampling Serbian brandy, Šlivovitz, paired with delicious local appetizers, including Šlivovitz, which was added in 2022 to UNESCO’s list of “Intangible Cultural Heritage.” For those wishing a more active adventure, join a guided bike tour. (B,L,D)

Belgrade

Day 6

NOVI SAD, ILOK CROATIA
Discover Novi Sad, the “Serbian Athens,” on a walking tour to Dunavski Park and through Stari Grad, the Old Town center. Experience firsthand unique Orthodox traditions at Serbia’s first and oldest Winter Market where you’ll see the grand Singing Christmas Tree where choirs from all over the region gather to perform every day. If you prefer a more active exploration, join a guided biking tour or hike to Petrovaradin Fortress, a mighty stronghold no enemy has ever breached. Later in the day, cruise to Vukovar, a Croatian symbol of resistance, which you’ll better understand on your city tour showcasing the Ovčara Memorial and Eltz Manor House. While there, experience the festive, warm atmosphere of the holidays when visiting a traditional Croatian Christmas Market. Embrace the holiday cheer and rich culture as you listen to Christmas melodies, taste sweet and savory delights and shop for traditional handcrafted goods. Alternatively, choose a wine tasting in Ilok, a center of wine production since Roman times, where you’ll sample its famous Grasevina, Traminac and Frankovka wines. (B,L,D)

Novi Sad

Day 7

MOHÁCS - PÉCS, HUNGARY
Visit Pécs, founded more than 2,000 years ago by the Romans, and the UNESCO-designated Christian Necropolis; St. Peter’s Basilica, the city’s main Catholic cathedral along with its catacombs; and Széchenyi Square, the heart of Old Town Pécs. You will also see the Mosque of Pasha Qasim the Victorious, one of the symbols of the city. You’ll also have the opportunity to visit the delightful Pécs Christmas market with its sparkling Christmas tree in front of Town Hall. Or for wine connoisseurs, you’ll want to go to the Szekszárd wine region, one of the oldest red-wine-growing areas in Hungary, established more than 2,000 years ago. You may also take an exhilarating guided bike tour around Mohács. (B,L,D)

Mohacs

Day 8

BUDAPEST – DISEMBARKATION
Disembark the ship in Budapest and prepare for your flight home. (B)

Experience More Connections

Return to a land of kings and queens, knights and ladies, and fables and legends in the ancient medieval city of Veliko Tarnovo and its Tsarevets Castle.
Read more
Ever been jealous of the presidents carved into Mount Rushmore? After all, fame may be fleeting – but mountain sculptures tend to be rather permanent.
Read more
Novi Sad’s legendary Petrovaradin Fortress is the military command you only wish you dreamt up as a kid.
Read more