Unwind on our magical river cruise and enjoy an escorted tour to Budapest, the Pearl of the Danube.
Take your flight to Budapest where you will be met and taken to your ship. The dedicated crew will welcome you on board, ensuring you settle into your comfortable and extremely well-equipped cabin and familiarise yourself with the ship, your first-class floating hotel. There’s always a sense of expectancy and excitement on the eve of a cruise and after an excellent dinner in the stylish restaurant, conversation is sure to revolve around the delights ahead of you.
Experience one of the great delights of cruising as you awake in a completely different location! Overnight we have slipped upstream to Esztergom, Hungary’s capital during medieval times and today the seat of the country’s Archbishop. The town is internationally famed for its great Renaissance basilica, Hungary’s largest church, standing sentinel over the Danube and boasting one of the world’s largest altars plus a wealth of gold artefacts. You can explore the castle too, seat of the government until the 16th century Ottoman invasion. Nestling below, there are a myriad of exquisite baroque masterpieces of churches from which resonate the enchanting sound of talented choirs, adding to the unmistakable central-European atmosphere. This is the best of provincial Hungary and little changed since Hapsburg times. As you enjoy your first lunch on board, we gently leave Esztergom in our wake, affording a fascinating opportunity to compare the landscape, towns and villages of Hungary and Slovakia on either bank.
This morning we explore Slovakia’s fast emerging capital city, Bratislava. Until recently swathed in the drab uniformity of communism, the city has shrugged off its greyness, rekindling the splendour of its imperial past, so evident in its beautifully restored baroque old town. Equally impressive is the great 17th century fortress commanding expansive views across the Danube. This afternoon we cruise into Lower Austria, a peaceful, bucolic region and home to some of the country’s best wines. By now, the stresses of everyday life seem very distant as you absorb life on the river: children playing on the banks, young couples strolling arm-in-arm like generations before them, vignerons carefully pruning their vines, cobbled quaysides lined by half-timbered buildings teem with life – with no one giving you a second glance. You’ll marvel as the captain skilfully navigates the ship with such easy confidence along the serene river and into the fascinating locks as we cruise towards Dürnstein whilst enjoying another superb dinner.
Delightfully picturesque Dürnstein is famous for principally two things. Firstly for the amazing ice-blue baroque tower dominating the river and secondly, having been shipwrecked on his return from the crusades, Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned here, before being reluctantly ransomed for a huge sum by his brother, King John. After lunch, we visit the remarkable monastery at Melk. Nothing quite prepares you for your first sight of this extraordinary, honey-coloured building, an enormous abbey standing resplendent above the surrounding countryside. Originally a palace it was gifted to the Benedictine Order in the 11th century and although reconstructed in baroque style it has remained a monastic school and monastery ever since. It is famed for its 200m long Emperor’s Gallery lined with portraits of Austrian emperors, plus many fine rooms and a large library containing a unique medieval collection of manuscripts. Rejoining the ship, dinner is served during the last upstream cruise, through the pretty Nibelungengau, now immortalized in the music of Wagner.
Reaching Linz, we take the short drive to Salzburg, once an independent state who’s Archbishops turned it into one of the most sophisticated cities north of the Alps. The old town is delightful, displaying wonderful architecture dating from the medieval to 18th century, whilst one of Europe’s largest stone fortresses, the Hohensalzburg, dominates the skyline. Spread below is a maze of tiny streets lined with the exquisite shops that make window-shopping so satisfying. Then there is the wonderful Hellbrunn Palace with its famous trick fountains and the natural beauty of the Mirabell Gardens is a must for the fan of things horticultural. With its genteel atmosphere of bygone times, surrounded by a magnificent Alpine backdrop, Salzburg is a superb spot to relax and explore at your leisure. Salzburg’s most famous citizen was Mozart, one of the greatest musical geniuses to have ever lived. He played the piano at three; could compose rudimentary music at five and wrote his first opera at fourteen! This morning, we have a guided tour seeing all the principal places of interest then you are free to enjoy the afternoon exploring the city as you wish, before returning to the ship for dinner. By now you will have completely immersed yourself in life aboard ship: the gentility of it all, the peacefulness, the observation of the wildlife constantly surrounding you, the ever-changing shoreline of the variety of countries through which we pass and the stimulating conversation of your like-minded travelling companions – home will seem a very long way away!
Today will probably bring one of the highlights of the cruise – Vienna, whose very name provokes images of elegance, fine music, sumptuous baroque palaces, grand boulevards, noble architecture and a rich tapestry of peoples from all corners of Europe drawn to the city’s magnificent cultural heart. For two hundred years until the First World War, Vienna was the cultural centre of Europe and the huge array of showpiece buildings, galleries, aristocratic palaces and baroque churches you see today were built. Dominated by the striking multi-coloured roofed St Stephen’s cathedral, you have the Hofburg, the former royal court now a collection of museums, home to the Vienna Boys’ Choir, the Spanish Riding School, the crown jewels and the world’s fourth largest art collection. Then there are the Emperor’s apartments and outstanding medieval craftsmanship in the relics of the Holy Roman Empire including allegedly, the crown of Charlemagne himself! This morning our sightseeing tour offers an insight into why this can truly be described as one of Europe’s great capitals, seat of the Hapsburg Emperors and home to some of the world’s finest classical composers at the peak of their influence, including Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart and of course a whole family of Strausses! During the afternoon you are free to explore as you wish. Take a stroll in the Stadtpark, with its huge Ferris wheel and the backdrop to many a ‘cold war’ spy thriller! Or for something quite different, visit the Schoenbrunn former royal palace and now a world-class range of outstanding museums and galleries. Perhaps though, just take a stroll through the fascinating side streets, enjoy a coffee and a slice of delicious sachertorte in one of the renowned pavement cafes, or admire the skill of the street entertainers and even the occasional opera singer. This evening, we have arranged truly the ‘icing on the cake’: no visit to Vienna is truly complete without a live musical experience so after dinner, we have arranged for a recital on board. To hear this exquisite music whilst in the city of its creation makes a wonderful finale to the day.
Dawn breaks and a glance along the shore as it slips gently past reveals Hungary’s peaceful pastoral landscape, as we majestically cruise to Budapest. After lunch, we enjoy a sightseeing tour of the city. The twin cities of Buda, built around the hilltop fortress and Pest, were fought over through the centuries until the 17th century ousting of the Ottomans. A lasting legacy of Turkish rule is the plethora of thermal baths utilising the hot springs giving rise to the sobriquet “City of the Spas”. Subsequently becoming an imperial city of the Hapsburg Empire, it attracted great cultural and commercial wealth. Explore Castle Hill, the city in microcosm: three churches, five museums and a theatre amongst streets and squares with their own special atmosphere and a dramatic view over the river, its banks dominated by the impressive neo-gothic Parliament building. Endless galleries, museums, outstanding art nouveau architecture and excellent shopping offer a fittingly elegant end to your Danube cruise. At this evening’s gala dinner you sadly bid farewell to your travelling companions and reflect on all the inspirational places, sights and sounds you have experienced on a truly ‘imperial’ cruise.
Today at the appropriate time we transfer to the airport for your return flight.
Selected departures in September & October 2014 (Aboard 5* MS Lord Byron)
|28 Sep 2014||£1429||MS Lord Byron||Dublin|
|28 Sep 2014||£1429||MS Lord Byron||Edinburgh|
|28 Sep 2014||£1429||MS Lord Byron||Leeds/Bradford|
|28 Sep 2014||£1468||MS Lord Byron||London Heathrow|
|28 Sep 2014||£1399||MS Lord Byron||London Luton|
|28 Sep 2014||£1429||MS Lord Byron||Manchester|
|05 Oct 2014||£1329||MS Lord Byron||Dublin|
|05 Oct 2014||£1329||MS Lord Byron||Edinburgh|
|05 Oct 2014||£1329||MS Lord Byron||Leeds/Bradford|
|05 Oct 2014||£1329||MS Lord Byron||London Gatwick|
|05 Oct 2014||£1368||MS Lord Byron||London Heathrow|
|05 Oct 2014||£1299||MS Lord Byron||London Luton|
|05 Oct 2014||£1329||MS Lord Byron||Manchester|
|12 Oct 2014||£1229||MS Lord Byron||Dublin|
|12 Oct 2014||£1229||MS Lord Byron||Edinburgh|
|12 Oct 2014||£1229||MS Lord Byron||Leeds/Bradford|
|11 Oct 2014||£1199||MS Lord Byron||London Gatwick|
|12 Oct 2014||£1268||MS Lord Byron||London Heathrow|
|12 Oct 2014||£1199||MS Lord Byron||London Luton|
|12 Oct 2014||£1229||MS Lord Byron||Manchester|
Prices are per person, based on two people sharing a twin cabin with a limited number of single cabins available on all decks, at the relevant supplement. The price includes full board from dinner on your day of arrival until breakfast on your final day; if you choose to travel with us on any of the full day excursions by coach, a packed lunch will be provided. Anyone choosing to stay on the ship may of course have lunch in the restaurant; morning/afternoon tea and coffee; all visits and excursions as mentioned in the brochure, airport transfers, coach travel as mentioned, travel to and from port of embarkation and the services of a Professional Travel Tour Manager.
How can one adequately sum up the brand new for 2013, wonderfully elegant five-star MS Lord Byron? How can we describe this extraordinary vessel that’s truly one of the finest ships of its type afloat anywhere in the world? Quite simply, every single aspect and element is designed to the highest possible specification and our own exacting standards to bring you the very best and most enjoyable river cruising experience, in the most luxurious comfort.
We have worked tirelessly with our Swiss partner Scylla AG, one of the world’s most experienced luxury rivership builders with a pedigree stretching back over nearly 40 years, to design the perfect vessel, with virtually no expense spared.
You’ll feel the unmistakable understated opulence of this extraordinary vessel as you board through the spacious, marble-floored lobby. Stylish furnishings using environmentally friendly materials are beautifully combined with the most advanced safety systems … and the work of a wonderful designer’s eye conjuring up the classic lines and sophistication of a luxurious ocean liner. As always, the finesse is in the detail – beautifully crafted tropical hardwoods, wrought iron, highly polished copper and brass, all beautifully illuminated then added to soft leather furnishings and imaginative colour schemes, promotes a subtle, chic ambience of exceptional taste.
Intuitive, unobtrusive service is graceful, efficient yet friendly as you might expect from a Swissoperated ship with 35 staff serving just 140 guests. This outstanding ratio of 4:1 allows a personal touch which makes such a difference to your cruise. Plus unlike other vessels typically carrying up to 200 passengers, you’ll enjoy simply far more space – as well as a smaller, more intimate dining experience.
In addition to the spacious Sun Deck, there are three superb air-conditioned decks on the Lord Byron – the Diamond (top), Ruby (middle) and Emerald (lower). A stylish glass lift and a wide, elegant wrought-iron railed staircase connect the Diamond and Ruby decks, whilst the Sun and Emerald Decks are accessed by staircase.
On the Diamond Deck is the magnificent panoramic observation lounge, the heart of the ship with wonderful views through floor to ceiling windows of the ever-changing landscape as you move along the river. This is where the ships superb design really is so evident. You’ll love the quality feel, the genteel ambience, the rich carpeting, the marble-tiled bar and the choice of sumptuous leather armchairs and soft modern settees. What could be better than to lose yourself in conversation with like-minded new friends, sip a coffee, perhaps play chess or bridge, or just relax whilst admiring the incredible scenery?And after a delicious dinner, appreciate our pianist, a gentle dance on the purpose-designed dance floor, or just enjoy a quiet read in the peaceful Lido Bar at the rear of the ship, ideal to while away an hour on a comfortable terrace absorbing the sights and sounds of Europe’s great rivers.
On the Ruby Deck is the main restaurant – with cuisine of the absolute highest order, attentive service with just four or six people at most tables, and yet again the elegant surroundings of glass, marble, deep wool carpets and crafted hard-wood panelling evident throughout the ship
The Sun Deck – and especially the forward viewing area – is perfect for watching the historic riverside villages, steep vine-clad valley sides and other scenic wonders glide serenely by. It’s well equipped with plenty of comfortable outdoor chairs and sunloungers, deck games including shuffleboard and giant chess, a small splash pool where you can cool off, and a full bar service. Sometimes we hold barbecues here too, weather dependent of course – a great way to meet new people over a glass of wine.
Another very special feature of the Lord Byron is its purpose-designed and extensive spa. You can reserve the spa for your private use to take a sauna or use the steam room, or perhaps visit the onboard hairdresser (small additional fee).
At 15 square metres (161 square feet), your luxuriously appointed cabin is amongst the largest, most comfortable and best appointed on any European river cruise vessel – with all the high quality facilities you would expect from a top hotel, and more.
Open the fine wooden door and the chic elegance is immediately evident – an exquisite contemporary design using skilfully hand-crafted fine tropical hardwoods, and premium fittings.
A good night’s sleep is assured in a full hotel-style bed, plus the finest crisp cotton bed linen and of course an evening turn-down service is provided. There’s a generous seating area too, with two chairs and wardrobes, with an extremely clever design ensuring ample storage space. You have individually controllable air-conditioning, hairdryer, safe, minibar, telephone plus that essential – tea and coffee making facilities! The finest pastel-coloured Italian fabrics, deep pile carpets and subtle lighting all combine to make your chic cabin a stylish home from home, beautifully appointed with every comfort you could possibly wish for. The gleaming bathroom is tastefully styled making generous use of marble with WC, a fully glazed shower, complementary toiletries, thick fluffy towels.
Your flat-screen TV receives satellite channels and even a GPS system for plotting the ship’s exact position. And an aft camera lets you enjoy the view without even leaving your cabin. Best of all the Diamond deck (top) and Ruby deck (middle) cabins all benefit from ‘French Balconies’ – full floor to ceiling sliding glass doors – literally your huge window on the world for the best possible views. Standard Emerald deck (lower) cabins have smaller fixed windows and as a unique bonus are available for single occupancy with no extra cost. Single supplements apply for other cabins and decks, all subject to availability.
For even more extra space, you can upgrade to a suite available on all decks featuring the same facilities as standard cabins but being larger at 18.5 square metres (199 square feet). The extra space is purely devoted to the living area, so you really notice the difference. For the ultimate in space and river cruise luxury though, on the Diamond (top) deck there are four deluxe suites, at 22.5 square metres (242 square feet) a full 50% larger than a standard cabin, beautifully appointed and incredibly comfortable, plus for a final homely touch, soft cotton bathrobes and slippers. You will love them.
As you enter the restaurant the mouth-watering aroma of roasting Provençal Lamb drifts tantalisingly from the galley. Smartly uniformed, friendly and intuitive waiting staff professionally guide you to your classically set table with its crisp white linen, premium quality European china, polished fine glassware and gleaming cutlery whilst freshly baked bread is immediately placed before you with effortless style.
Welcome – you’re at home. Quality dining is an integral part of your river cruise experience – and our ships take this to the highest five-star levels with superb cuisine prepared by a dedicated and highly professional brigade of chefs. Take a stroll on the Sun Deck as the river gradually awakes, and enjoy Early Risers’ tea or coffee and freshly baked pastries. The full breakfast buffet is a sumptuous affair with innumerable hot and cold options, plus a popular omelette station prepares dishes to order.
Or if you prefer, why not enjoy continental breakfast in your cabin: breakfast in bed as enchanting scenery and riverside life drift gently by – priceless! Naturally complimentary tea and coffee are available throughout the day and a very comprehensive lunch buffet allows selection of as little or as much as you wish from an extensive and tempting selection. Don’t forget to leave some room for afternoon tea and the chef’s special patisserie – it’s just too tempting to ignore!
The day’s culinary highlight is the splendid four-course dinner: entrée, soup, main course and dessert – all within the ambience of a high quality restaurant. Our carefully designed menus include international classics together with dishes reflecting the regions we pass through, with careful selections from local markets. In addition, the ‘Welcome Dinner’ enjoys an extended menu and towards the end of your cruise, the Captain proudly hosts his excellent ‘Gala Dinner’ featuring specialities of the countries and regions through which you’ve travelled.
Our clients constantly tell us they love our informal free seating and smaller tables policy, quite unlike the inevitable regimentation of many cruise ships which is exactly the atmosphere we are trying to achieve. Then there’s the wine list. We take great pride in its excellent quality and style, including not only the classic choices but also an extensive range of local wines. Many of these are extremely well-priced, delightful hidden gems and rarely marketed outside their production area.
In addition to the main restaurant, we are proud to unveil the unique new ‘Chef’s Restaurant’, open for dinner only on the Lord Byron with huge panoramic windows and seating for just 24 diners. Here the chef presents his personal favourite signature dishes with a fixed menu using the finest of seasonal produce. This superb dining experience must be reserved on board.
Please indicate any special dietary requirements on booking.
Stepping aboard you will appreciate the superb surroundings of your floating luxury hotel for the next seven nights with spacious and well-appointed cabins or suites, private bathrooms and meticulously prepared fine cuisine.
From Budapest, we slip our moorings and head on our journey north to Esztergom spending the morning exploring its historic centre, which once was Hungary’s capital, before continuing westwards to the beautiful old town of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Navigating through Lower Austria we then reach the romantic town of Dürnstein, where Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned, having been shipwrecked on his return from the crusades. After we visit the remarkable monastery in Melk, with its 200m long Emperor’s Gallery, lined with portraits of Austrian emperors.
Soon we arrive in Linz from where we take the short drive to Salzburg. During the guided tour of the old town we will see the imposing fortress Hohensalzburg towering over the city and of course the birthplace and residence of Mozart, Salzburg’s most famous citizen. On our way back eastwards we will reach classical Vienna, home of Strauss and many great composers. This city offers up so much wonderful architecture as well as a host of other things to see including the Spanish riding school.
Finally, cruising into Hungary, we arrive back in imperial Budapest, straddling the picturesque Danube. After a guided tour of this palatial city we spend the evening on board, where the Captain hosts another spectacular dinner, an excellent finale to this most exceptional and relaxing cruise.