Cruises

Cruise & Rail: Grand Alpine & the Enchanting Danube (2025)

9e244852e6daa660d691738f75e208c0.jpg
Passau to Venice | 9 Days

Date Range: Apr 2025 - Apr 2025

Ships : S.S. Maria Theresa

Countries: Central Europe

Embark on a river cruise down the shimmering waters of the fabled Danube River, where our locally-based destination experts will take you well beyond the “must-sees” of each region. Then begin your ascent into the idyllic wonderland of the Alps via a luxury overnight train, where your days will be filled with unbelievable mountain scenery, picturesque lakes, and unforgettable experiences.

Embark on a river cruise down the shimmering waters of the fabled Danube River, where our locally-based destination experts will take you well beyond the “must-sees” of each region. Then begin your ascent into the idyllic wonderland of the Alps via a luxury overnight train, where your days will be filled with unbelievable mountain scenery, picturesque lakes, and unforgettable experiences.

Embark on a river cruise down the shimmering waters of the fabled Danube River, where our locally-based destination experts will take you well beyond the “must-sees” of each region, offering fresh takes on classic sites, insider knowledge of delightful under-the-radar locales, and VIP access to places only a privileged few will ever experience.


Then begin your ascent into the idyllic wonderland of the Alps via a luxury overnight train, where your days will be filled with unbelievable mountain scenery, picturesque lakes, and unforgettable experiences. Enjoy lunch on Lake Como, sample Swiss fondue in Zürich, head into Slovenia’s Postojna caves on a private visit, and more.

Passau to Venice | 9 Days
Note: The itineraries presented are subject to modification due to water levels, closures because of public holidays or other uncontrollable factors. Every effort will be made to operate programs as planned, but changes may still be necessary throughout the cruise. This day-to-day schedule is subject to change. Your final day-to-day schedule will be provided onboard on the first day of your cruise.

DAY 1 Passau (Embark)
Arrive at Munich Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.
DAY 2 Passau
Passau is a crossroads in more ways than one, as three rivers meet here and three nations nearly do, making for a fascinating cultural mosaic. Get to know the town and its main claim to fame—Europe’s largest pipe organ—or “Let’s Go” with an invigorating riverside hike.

Other Excursions:

Passau is built upon the meeting point of three rivers: the Danube, the Inn, and the Ilz. Sprawling across the riverbanks, the city has a particularly charming setting, which you’ll get to appreciate on a walking tour of its top sites.

After walking around Passau, we’ll drive to a beautiful natural habitat on the Ilz, where you can take a short walk and relax in the scenic environment before reboarding the coach for a trip up to the Kloster Mariahilf to see the three rivers from above.

Passau Three Rivers
or

Put on your hiking boots, grab a windbreaker and a bottle of water, and head out with a local hiking guide and nature expert to explore the banks of the Ilz River. This small but rushing tributary of the Danube originates deep in the Bavarian Forest, near the Czech border, and is just 40 miles (65 kilometers) long. Its upper stretch is a premier whitewater rafting location, but you’ll be hiking along the lower, serene end of the river. Your starting point is Hals-Hochstein, where you’ll pick up a nature trail that follows a curve of the river and then climbs a steep hill, where you have a great view of the river and woodlands. You will cross the river repeatedly, once by way of a dam and again toward the end of your four-mile (6.5-kilometer) hike, as you loop back to the Hals. 

Let's Go: Hike along the Ilz River

In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.
DAY 3 Linz (Salzburg)
Mozart’s birthplace of Salzburg is nestled in a glorious alpine setting that sparkles like a winter wonderland. Linz may be best known for its famous Linzer torte, but it’s also a hotbed for the arts. See the sights with a local expert and visit a family at their farm in the countryside. Austria’s third-largest city, Linz boasts a long history of trading and textile manufacturing, but these days it is perhaps best known for its electronic arts and annual festival.

MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences Excursion:
  • Get to know Linz on foot with a local expert who will take you by all the major sites in town, from Mozart’s apartment to the old Jesuit Cathedral. You’ll stop for a bite at Konditorei Jindrak, home of the Original Linzer Torte. Enjoy a cup of coffee alongside this thin, buttery pastry made with ground nuts, filled with fruit preserves and topped with a lattice crust.

    Next, the group will split in two, each half heading out to a countryside cider farm. There, you’ll be treated to a lunch of local specialties and house-made cider—an excellent way to immerse yourself in rural Austrian life and scenery, while also supporting local farmers. Both farms are entirely organic and give special care to the quality of the ingredients they produce, from the careful cultivation of their bountiful orchards to the livestock they keep in large grazing pastures. This type of farming produces less waste and—as you’ll see during your lunch there—better food.

    This MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience supports Global Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.

    Linz town and Country: Linzertorte and Cider Farm Visit
  • This excursion is only available on sailings that belong to the MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences program.

Other Excursions:

Not only is Salzburg famously the shooting location for the 1965 film, The Sound of Music, but it is also the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Today, we’ll dive into the city’s deep musical heritage with a walking tour through its picturesque squares and baroque architecture. Visit Maria’s church in the nearby town of Mondsee, as well as the Viennese gardens around which she and the children sang “Do Re Mi.” See the house where Mozart was born and take a lift up the Mönschberg mountain for an excellent view of the city.

Full-Day in Salzburg with Sound of Music
DAY 4 Melk, Dürnstein
This morning, visit the 900-year-old Melk Abbey and its extraordinary baroque-style library. Later, you will head to Dürnstein, one of our favorite towns along the Danube, a lovely place to wander cobblestone lanes, browse quaint shops, and maybe hike up to a ruined castle (with an intriguing tale all its own). You can also opt for a tasting or learn all about the world’s costliest spice from the Wachau Valley’s only saffron grower. You have two ports of call in the incredibly scenic valley, Dürnstein and Melk, and an assortment of delightful ways to explore this lovely region.

MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences Excursions:
  • There’s no better way to conclude your visit to the Wachau Valley than with a special tasting of organic wines at Nikolaihof, perhaps the oldest winery in Austria. The location itself is fascinating: One may encounter remnants of the first buildings on the site—an ancient Roman fort—and taste wines in a deconsecrated 15th-century chapel. Owned by the Saahs family, Nikolaihof is both oldest winery in Austria and the country’s oldest inhabited house, producing some of the world’s best Riesling and Vetliner varietals; in fact, the 1995 Riesling Vinothek, bottled in 2012, actually scored 100 points in The Wine Advocate, the first Austrian wine ever to rank that highly. It is also one of the first wineries in the world to produce biodynamically certified wines. No herbicides, fertilizers, pesticides, or synthetic sprays are used in the vineyards. The grapes are harvested by hand, fermented without artificial yeast, and stored in Austrian oak casks for up to 20 years. Furthering their environmentally-friendly mission, Nikolaihof even produces a cosmetics line out of the waste product from the wine production. The antioxidant-rich skincare products are the world’s first biodynamically certified grape cosmetics.

    After your visit, discover Dürnstein on a stroll through town before returning to the ship. Considering its diminutive size, the village of Dürnstein offers much to explore. The famous blue baroque tower of the abbey church is doubtless its best-known landmark, but the ruined castle above the town provides its most romantic tale. There Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned until he was found by his faithful bard, Blondel, and ransom could be raised—or so the legend goes. Walk along the town’s narrow streets, past 16th-, 17th-, and 18th-century houses; it’s an up-close look at over 300 years of architecture.

    This MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience supports Global Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.

    Dürnstein Wine Estate Visit with Tasting
  • Educate your taste buds with flavorful delicacies as you taste red-wine-and-saffron chocolate and saffron-seasoned jams, vinegars, and honey. Crusaders planted the first saffron crocuses in the Wachau Valley at the end of the 12th century, making saffron a valued crop for 700 years—but it disappeared from the terraced hillsides early in the 20th century. It wasn’t until 2007 that an ecologist found mention of it in an 18th-century document at Melk Abbey’s celebrated library. Bernard Kaar, who spent years researching the history of saffron and still more years cultivating the world’s only biodynamically certified saffron, is one of the Wachau’s most important producers. Meet Bernard and his wife, Alexandra, for a fascinating introduction to saffron—the plant, the spice, its cultural significance, and their farm’s uniquely sustainable methods of producing it.

    Later walk along the town’s narrow streets, past 16th-, 17th-, and 18th-century houses; it’s an up-close look at over 300 years of architecture. Considering its diminutive size, the village of Dürnstein offers much to explore. The famous blue baroque tower of the abbey church is doubtless its best-known landmark, but the ruined castle above the town provides its most romantic tale. There Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned until he was found by his faithful bard, Blondel, and ransom could be raised—or so the legend goes.

    This MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience supports Global Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.

    Dürnstein Village and Saffron Workshop
  • These excursions are only available on sailings that belong to the MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences program.

Other Excursions:

The Babenbergs, a great medieval ducal family that controlled a wide swath of Austria before yielding to the Habsburgs, were the first to erect a castle on the hill above Melk, which they subsequently gave to Benedictine monks. These monks, some 900 years ago, turned it into a fortified abbey—and the greatest center of learning in Central Europe. Their library was celebrated far and wide (and still is; Umberto Eco paid tribute to it in his best-selling novel The Name of the Rose). Medieval monks there created more than 1,200 manuscripts, sometimes spending an entire lifetime hand-lettering a single volume. Today the library contains some 100,000 volumes, among them more than 80,000 works printed before 1800. This beautiful complex, completely redone in the early 18th century, is a wonderful example of baroque art and architecture, and the views from its terrace are spectacular. As you walk through the abbey’s Marble Hall with your guide, look up at the ceiling fresco painted by Paul Troger: Those classical gods and goddesses represent Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, allegorically bringing his people from dark to light and demonstrating the link he claimed to the original Roman Empire.

After your tour of the abbey, you’ll have time to explore Melk on your own, or you can take the motorcoach back to the ship.

Melk Abbey with Library Visit
or

You've likely seen bicyclists pedaling beside the river during your cruise. The Danube bike path is Europe's most popular bike route; it follows the river between Regensburg and Passau. Take to the path today and wheel along a particularly scenic 20-mile stretch between Dürnstein to Melk that affords some of the most impressive views of the famed Wachau Valley. The flat riverbanks make for easy biking, freeing you to fully enjoy the beauty of the surrounding vineyards, wooded mountains, and charming villages.

Let's Go: Biking the Wachau
DAY 5 Vienna
Vienna is a cultural treasure trove revered for its art and music (and sinfully rich pastries). Experience the “City of Waltzes” with a highlight tour of the city, as well as an expertly led tour of an extraordinary collection of art at the renowned Vienna Art History Museum.

You have leisure time after your tour to explore Vienna on your own. You might wish to visit the Albertina Museum, which houses one million old-master prints and an impressive collection of works by 19th- and 20th-century painters, ranging from Renoir to Rothko.If you’d like to get a little exercise and see a completely different side of Vienna, borrow a bike from the ship and explore Danube Island and Prater Park. (For a wonderful view of the region, ride the Ferris wheel in Prater Park.)
DAY 6 Vienna, Bratislava
Your ship sets sail from Vienna and heads for Bratislava today. You may relax onboard all day, perhaps enjoying a drink on the Sun Deck and taking in the scenery as the ship wends its way along the Austrian Danube toward Bratislava. Although it’s not a large city, Bratislava has played a leading role in the politics and culture of the region for many centuries, and it is well worth a visit. If you opt for the walking tour today, you may choose to leave the ship by bus in Vienna and start your excursion early. This would give you time for lunch on your own in town, as well as some additional free time to enjoy Bratislava after your tour ends.

Other Excursions:

Walk through the loveliest part of Bratislava with your local guide. Starting on the Danube promenade, you’ll cross the former Coronation Square, pass the Slovak National Theater and St. Martin’s Cathedral. This Gothic church was built into the medieval city’s fortifications, and 19 Habsburg rulers were crowned inside it, including Empress Maria Theresa. That’s because Bratislava, then known as Pressburg, became the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary after the Ottomans conquered Budapest in 1536, a status it retained until the middle of the 19th-century.

Close to the cathedral you’ll find Michael’s Gate, the last remaining portal of the medieval wall—and your entryway into Bratislava’s Old Town, which blends Gothic, baroque, and art deco structures with some less graceful reminders of the Communist era. The stately 18th-century Primatial Palace, in the center of Old Town, was the site where the Pressburg peace treaty was signed in 1805, in which Austria ceded a great deal of territory to Napoleon. Another 18th-century palace, Grassalkovich, is now the president of Slovakia’s official residence.

Take some time after the tour to browse through the attractive shops in the lovely art deco buildings that line the squares; you can find a wide selection of traditional folk items at the ÚĽUV (Slovak Folk Culture) shop. And you’ll definitely want to sample some of the local delicacies.

Bratislava - Small but Precious Walking Tour
or

This brilliantly white, enormous square building takes over the skyline of Bratislava, and from its grounds you’ll find incredible views of the city below.

After your hike to the castle, you’ll stroll through the most beautiful part of Bratislava with the local guide. You will be introduced to the Capital of Slovakia, seeing sites like the Presidential Palace and the unique bridge colloquially known as UFO Bridge (you’ll understand when you see it).

Passing through the historic Old Town, we’ll see the charming House of the Good Shepherd, the pastel tower of the Old Town Hall, and statues like Čumil, the sewage worker leaning out of a manhole in the street to smile at passersby.

Let's Go: Hike to Bratislava Castle
DAY 7 Budapest
Budapest is an enchanting city that presents a vibrant mix of medieval and modern.

Other Excursions:

Hungary has been home to a great number of accomplished musicians, including the famous Franz Liszt, who established a university for music in Budapest in 1875. To this day, the Franz Liszt Academy is still a world-famous conservatory, with degree programs in classical instruments, singing, conducting, and composing. Take a guided tour of the academy today, culminating in an orchestra performance by some of the current students. Next, we’ll embark on a panoramic drive through the city, with stops including Gellert Hill and the Philosopher’s Garden.

Budapest Panoramic Highlights with Franz Liszt Academy Visit
or

Today your guide will show you how to snack around Budapest like a local, starting with a tram ride to the House of Parliament. Hop off the tram and take a short walk to your first treat: a coffee break at the First Strudel House of Pest. Energized by your cup of coffee, you’ll continue your walk down to St. Stephen’s Basilica—a handsome Neo-Classical building that is one of Budapest’s most significant cultural sites.

From there, we’ll head to the Great Market Hall to sample some traditional Hungarian fare, such as salami, sausages, and cheese, while your local expert explains the intricacies of Hungarian cuisine.

Budapest Walk with Local Treats

In the evening, a special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.
DAY 8 Budapest (Disembark), Transfer to Train (Embark), Vienna
Disembark the ship and transfer to the Golden Eagle Danube Express for a morning departure back to Vienna. Settle into your cabin, then enjoy lunch as the train makes its way to the capital of Austria, where you’ll have the opportunity to visit the lively Naschmarkt, home to over 100 food and antique stalls, or the famous Schönbrunn Palace. In the evening, we will enjoy a private concert featuring the Vienna Supreme Orchestra.
DAY 9 Lake Achen, Innsbruck
Today will be one of the real highlights of the journey as we depart from Vienna in the morning and travel across central Austria and into the Alps on an incredibly scenic route. Keep your cameras at the ready as we climb over the Semmering Pass with its 16 viaducts and 15 tunnels, through the famous skiing village of Kitzbuhel to Jenbach, where we’ll take a scenic drive to the picturesque Lake Achen for a cruise on the water. From here we travel by bus the short distance to Innsbruck, the capital of Austria’s western state of Tyrol and an Alpine city that has long been a destination for winter sports. Innsbruck is also known for its Imperial and modern architecture.
DAY 10 Vorarlberg, Zürich
Sit back, relax, and watch the scenery of the Vorarlberg unfold in front of your eyes this morning as we pass through St. Anton before crossing through Liechtenstein and then into Switzerland, where we run along the whole of the Lake of Zürich before arriving in the city. The city of Zürich, a global center for banking and finance, lies at the north end of Lake Zürich in northern Switzerland. The picturesque lanes of the central Altstadt (Old Town), on either side of the Limmat River, reflect its pre-medieval history. Waterfront promenades like the Limmatquai follow the river toward the 17th-century Rathaus (Town Hall). While we are in the city, we will enjoy a traditional Swiss fondue tasting.
DAY 11 Lake Como
Upon leaving Zürich, we’ll pass along the shorelines of Lakes Zug and Lucerne before starting the very scenic climb to the St. Gotthard Pass. Once through the old St. Gotthard tunnel, we’ll descend through Lugano towards Lake Como in Italy, where we stop for a beautiful lunch on the lake. After lunch, set sail on a boat cruise around Lake Como and visit the lakeside town of Bellagio.
DAY 12 Verona, Trieste
This morning, after running along the south shore of Lake Garda, we arrive in Verona, where you’ll set out on an informative walking tour of Verona’s famous sites. Enjoy lunch onboard as the train threads its way to Trieste. Our brief tour here includes a stop at the imposing Miramare Castle and also a visit to the vast Piazza Unità d’Italia, the main town square. Standing on a hill overlooking Trieste is the famous Church of San Giusto. We will go inside the church for a close-up view of its splendid Byzantine-style architecture, enriched with precious mosaics.
DAY 13 Lake Bled, Ljubljana
You may wish to wake up early this morning to catch the incredible scenery outside your window as our train climbs away from Trieste and heads over the border into Slovenia, continuing its ascent through the Julian Alps to Lake Bled. From here we travel onto Ljubljana as we have lunch on board and discover a delightful combination of ancient architecture and a youthful culture. Our afternoon tour includes visits to Preseren Square, the Three Bridges, and Dragon Bridge.
DAY 14 Postojna, Venice (Disembark)
This morning, you’ll be treated to a private visit to the Postojna Caves before re-boarding the train to head south towards Venice, where we’ll say farewell to our train crew and check into the Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal. True to its name, this centrally located hotel sits right on the Grand Canal, mere steps away from St. Mark’s Square.
DAY 15 Venice
If your cruise/tour package includes a group departure transfer or if you purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Venice Marco Polo International Airport for your flight home.
Cruise Departure Double Occupancy Pricing Ship
Sun, 27 Apr 2025
(Passau to Venice)
$0.00 S.S. Maria Theresa
Select this date
  • All fares are per guest in US Dollars based on double occupancy unless otherwise noted.
  • Fares are capacity controlled and are subject to change at any time without notice.
  • Availability of all stateroom categories cannot be guaranteed.
  • Single Supplement applies for single accommodation.
  • Itineraries, hotels, and vessels may change, and substitute visits to other sites may occur during your trip due to water level fluctuations and other uncontrollable factors.
  • The order of sightseeing and docking ports are subject to change according to port authority assignments.

Dining

  • All meals onboard cruise and train, prepared using the finest and freshest ingredients
  • 14 breakfasts, 12 lunches, 14 dinners
  • Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Receptions
  • Welcome and Farewell Gala Dinners
  • Unlimited beverages onboard, including fine wine, beer, spirits, specialty coffee and tea, soft drinks and mineral water

Dining

Excursions

  • 13 days of excursions, all fully hosted by English-speaking local experts
  • State-of-the-art Quietvox portable audio-headset system on all excursions
  • Use of bicycles and Nordic walking sticks

Excursions

Accommodations

  • 7-night cruise in a riverview stateroom onboard the majestic S.S. Maria Theresa
  • 6 nights in a luxury cabin onboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express private train
  • 1 night in Venice at the Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal (or similar)
  • Well-appointed en-suite sleeping cabins and suites on the train have remote-controlled air-conditioning and heating, individual bathrobes and slippers, wardrobes, large viewing windows, and day seating that converts into comfortable beds for the evening
  • Lavishly appointed riverview staterooms and suites on the cruise have handcrafted Savoir® Beds of England, high thread count 100% Egyptian cotton sheets and European duvets, and a menu of pillow options
  • Free Wi-Fi

Accommodations

Experiences

  • 7 countries: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Switzerland, Slovenia, Italy
  • 7 UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • Services of an experienced Uniworld Cruise Manager
  • Group Transfers are included on arrival and departure days (please see terms and conditions for transfer guidelines)
  • Gratuities for onboard personnel (ship staff, crew, Cruise/Tour Manager) are included during the cruise/tour
  • Captivating onboard local entertainment
  • Cultural enrichment

Experiences