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Danube River Cruises

The Danube River is highly regarded as a river cruiser’s rite of passage. As Europe’s second longest waterway, it passes through 10 countries, navigating a south-easterly route from its source in the Black Forest to its mouth in the Black Sea.

Cruising the Daunbe River promises rugged undeveloped beauty. Experience the wonders of the Main-Danube canal, the passage of Saint George, and the magnificent Danube Delta, taking in the spectacular scenery of Austria, Vienna and Budapest.

Witness some of the most spectacular scenery that the Danube River has to offer when you cruise through the Iron Gates gorge. This amazing landmark nestles between Romania and Serbia dividing the Carpathian and Balkan Mountains.

The Danube River may not be the longest river in Europe—that distinction goes to the Volga River, which flows through central Russia—but it is without question, one of the continent’s most popular.

The 1,785-mile-long waterway begins at the convergence of two streams in the Black Forest region of southwest Germany, and it flows east through 10 countries (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, and the Ukraine) before emptying into the Black Sea. The river also flows through a handful of Central and Eastern Europe’s most influential cities, including Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, and Bratislava, providing Scenic river cruise guests with endless opportunities for exploration and immersion.   

While it is clear to see the significance of the Danube in modern Europe, the river has played a major role in the advancement of civilization for more than 2,000 years. The ancient Greeks sailed up the Danube River from the Black Sea, getting as far north as a large gorge known today as the Iron Gate and serves as a natural border between Romania and Serbia. Under the rule of Julius Caesar, the Roman Empire strengthened and expanded its empire by establishing military settlements and strongholds up the Danube. Over time, those ancient Roman outposts grew into vibrant cities — Aquincum became Budapest, Singidunum became Belgrade, and Vindobona is the cultural center that Danube river cruise guests now know as Vienna.

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DANUBE RIVER CRUISE HIGHLIGHTS

One could argue that of those cities, Vienna is culturally the richest. After all, Vienna was the epicenter of classical music during the 18th and 19th centuries. On a Scenic Danube river cruise, guided walking tours dedicated to the city’s connection to great composers bring visitors to landmarks associated with artists such as Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Joseph Haydn, Franz Liszt, Gustav Mahler, and Franz Schubert. In fact, it was the Danube River, itself, that inspired Johann Strauss II’s famous waltz “On the Beautiful Blue Danube.” 

Yet, for as many great composers who lived and drafted their seminal works in Vienna, no one draws more interest and more visitors every year than Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The musical prodigy settled in Vienna as a teenager, and many protected buildings throughout the city immortalize key events in his life. A visit to the archives at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, for example, will reveal documents that mark Mozart’s marriage, the christening of two of his six children, and—ultimately—his premature death in 1791. Those wishing to visit No. 5 Domgasse, an apartment that was once home to Mozart (and the only one of Mozart’s many apartments known to still exist), will learn much more about the composer, as the building now operates as Mozarthaus, a museum dedicated to the artist. It was there at No. 5 Domgasse that Mozart composed many of his greatest works, including the Marriage of Figaro. And while thousands of people visit Mozart’s gravestone in St. Marx Cemetery, fans of the composer should also make a pilgrimage to St. Michael’s Church, which is where, during Mozart’s funeral service, portions of the composer’s Requiem were performed for the first time.

VIENNA

While in Vienna, passengers can disembark the ship and visit Palais Liechtenstein, a property made up of two distinct venues: a city palace, owned by the Liechtenstein family and is believed to have been the first High Baroque-styled building constructed in Vienna; and a garden palace, which houses Prince von und zu Liechtenstein’s private art collection—one of the world’s most extensive collections.

Guests will enjoy a private evening concert of Strauss and Mozart compositions. Alternatively, passengers can take in the grandeur of Schönbrunn Palace, an expansive Baroque estate that for centuries was the property of the Habsburg family. Today, the 1,441-room palace is owned by the Austrian Government and exists as a grand museum of the country’s former monarchy.

Read more about Vienna

BUDAPEST

In Budapest, Scenic travelers can partake in guided walking tours that bring them to Heroes’ Square, an expansive monument that was built in 1896 to celebrate Hungary’s 1,000-year anniversary. They can also visit Matthias Church, a Roman Catholic cathedral that was built during the second half of the 14th century and hosted the coronation of the last Habsburg King, Charles IV, in 1916. Other activities and excursions in Budapest include trips to one of the city’s many naturally heated thermal baths and spas, as well as tours of Hospital in the Rock, a medical facility that was built under Buda Castle during the 1930s and was later transformed into a nuclear bunker during the Cold War.

Read more about Budapest

HISTORY AND CULTURE ALONG THE DANUBE RIVER

Danube river cruises first operated in the mid-19th century, thanks to the invention of the steam engine in 1830. They have remained popular largely due to almost a dozen World Heritage Sites that are located throughout the Danube River Region and can be visited and explored by river travelers. However, a Scenic River Cruise experience on the Danube is enhanced by far more than those protected historical sites.

About 50 miles east of Vienna, Scenic guests can visit a Benedictine abbey set above the town of Melk. The monastic site was founded in the 11th century and features Baroque structures that were built during the first part of the 18th century. The abbey has served as an educational center for almost 1,000 years, and its library, which is home to a large collection of medieval manuscripts from the 12th to the 15th centuries, provides the proof. For passengers seeking a different monastic experience, a ferry ride through the Danube Gorge further east in the Germanic town of Regensburg leads to the Weltenburg Abbey, one of the world’s oldest monastic breweries. It is there, along the shores of the Danube, that passengers can sample more than a dozen styles of beer, including the abbey’s award-winning Barock Dunkel, a full-bodied, malty dark lager that is characterized by subtle caramel and toffee notes.  

These are just a few of the many experiences afforded to travelers while cruising the Danube river with Scenic. To learn more about what Scenic guests can expect on a European river cruise, see more info below.

PALAIS LIECHTENSTEIN

Renowned for its musical legacy, Vienna is known as the ‘City of Music’ and its famous Palais Liechtenstein provides the perfect backdrop for another enriching event. Here you will attend an exclusive, private Viennese concert featuring the captivating music of Strauss and Mozart. Otherwise known as the Liechtenstein Garden Palace, your venue for the evening’s concert is home to one of the world’s largest private art collections, providing insight into aristocratic life of bygone days.

SOUND OF MUSIC

The sound of a concerto in a grand ballroom is a reminder of the sophistication of yesteryear. Germany and Austria were the epicenter of many of the most magnificent pieces of music to ever be composed. To hear them come to life against a backdrop of vaulted ceilings adorned with ancient frescoes provides a glimpse into the luxury of life at court in the 18th century. Vienna, the ‘City of Music’ is the world’s music capital. More famous composers have lived there than in any other city.

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