CHRISTMAS MARKETS ON THE DANUBE

BUDAPEST TO MUNICH ON EMERALD STAR

Fully Hosted by Rob & Heather Blowes

November 22 to December 1, 2025

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Summary

A classic journey on the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers promises spectacular landscapes, rich culture, and fascinating history, where world-class cities are complemented by romantic towns.
This special festive twist of the classic itinerary down the Danube lets you explore the majestic architecture and markets of Budapest, before joining a local Slovakian family in Bratislava for home-hosted coffee and cake. Marvel at the classical surrounds of Vienna then wander the Christmas markets of Regensburg, highly regarded as 'one of the loveliest'.
Christmas markets Danube

Itinerary

Christmas Markets Itinerary Map

Nov 22 - Toronto to Budapest

Depart Toronto on an overnight flight to Budapest.

Nov 23 - Budapest

Arrive Budapest, transfer to the Matild Palace hotel with afternoon and evening free to enjoy Budapest.

Nov 24 - Budapest

Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to ship early afternoon. After boarding, you’ll have time to enjoy Budapest at your leisure. This evening, enjoy a performance of Hungarian folk music and dance on board.

EmeraldPLUS

Traditional Hungarian folklore show on board

Nov 25 - Budapest

Join a local guide for a tour of the Hungarian capital today, covering some of the highlights of Budapest and learn more about its stunning landscape and architecture. The history of the Hungarian capital shows a unique blend of cultures, cuisine and vibrant lifestyle. There is so much to take in while you pass through the bustling city, which is an attractive destination for visitors from all over the world. Following your guided tour, enjoy free time to explore the stalls of Budapest’s main Christmas market, where handcrafted ornaments are plentiful and colorful strings of lights line the streets.

Included Excursion

Guided coach tour of Budapest

Budapest Parliament Buildings

Nov 26 - Bratislava

Across Europe, different cultures intertwine at Christmastime, sharing their traditions, treats, and unique customs. The Slovakian capital is a truly charming city whose roots can be traced across the continent. Enjoy a sightseeing tour of Bratislava, including its enchanting historic district and some of its many bustling Christmas markets.

Included Excursion

Walking tour of Bratislava

EmeraldPLUS

Home-hosted coffee and cake with a Slovakian family

DiscoverMORE

Carpathian wine route (extra expense)

Nov 27 - Vienna

Sweeping boulevards and world-famous art exhibitions welcome you to Vienna, a city perfectly encapsulating the extravagance of the Habsburg Monarchy and their love of ornate Baroque palaces. For art lovers, there is no other place like the Austrian capital, not just because the city is packed with museums and artwork, but because of its variety. Your tour will include a visit to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the largest art museum in the country and one of the most important museums worldwide.

Included Excursion

Vienna art tour with a visit to the Kunsthistorisches Museum

DiscoverMORE

Viennese evening concert (extra expense)

Nov 28 - Krems - Dürnstein

Enjoy a guided tour of Göttweig Abbey, a true treasure overlooking the Wachau Valley from a hill covered by vineyards and forests. Constructed in 1083, it’s one of Austria's most important Benedictine abbeys, attracting visitors from across the globe. Run by a community of about 45 monks, it’s visible from a great distance and provides epic panoramas from the grounds.

Included Excursion

Guided tour of Göttweig Abbey

EmeraldPLUS

Christmas traditions in Europe (on board presentation)

Bridge

Nov 29 - Passau

A blanket of powdered snow graces the European countryside at Christmastime, creating a magical setting as we cruise into Passau. On this afternoon’s included walking tour of the town, enjoy visiting the annual Christkindlmarkt, set in front of St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Almost a hundred gingerbread-like stalls selling festive souvenirs and handmade gifts are found here, each connected to the next by strings of twinkling fairy lights.

Included Excursion

Guided tour of Passau

DiscoverMORE

Visit to Schuetz Museum Engelhartszell (extra expense)

Nov 30 - Regensburg

Today, you will have the opportunity to visit one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Germany, Regensburg. Our guided walking tour will explain the history behind this UNESCO World Heritage-listed city, as you stroll across one of the oldest bridges on the Danube and witness its ancient fortifications. Stop to visit one of the loveliest Christmas markets in the region at Thurn and Taxis Palace, with its many quaint wooden stalls, twinkling lights, and festive goods adorning hidden passageways and narrow cobblestone streets.

EmeraldPLUS

Visit to the Christmas Market at Thurn and Taxis Palace Grounds

EmeraldPLUS

Traditional Bavarian band on board

EmeraldPLUS

Walking tour of Regensburg with Bavarian sausage tasting

Dec 01 - Regensburg Disembarkation - Munich

After breakfast, it’s time to say farewell to your fellow guests. Disembark your Star-Ship for your transfer to the airport and take memories of handcrafted ornaments and gingerbread stalls with you.

This itinerary is a guide only and may be amended for operational reasons such as high and low water. As such, the cruise may operate altered from that stated above. Please refer to our terms and conditions for further information.

*Transportation to and from Toronto Airport to your home can be arranged at an additional cost. Please inquire for pricing.

*Should you wish to add optional post nights in Munich, please inquire for pricing.

Munich

Inclusions

TRANSPORTATION

  • Airfare from Toronto – Budapest / Munich to Toronto *up to a maximum of $1850.00 per person ** deviations and air upgrades will be available.
  • Transfer from Airport to Hotel in Budapest
  • Transfer Hotel to Ship in Budapest
  • Transfer from Ship to Airport in Munich
  • Pre Night in Budapest Hotel with Breakfast

YOUR CRUISE INCLUDES

  • 7 nights on board an Emerald Cruises Star-Ship
  • The services of an Emerald Cruises Cruise Director
  • Port taxes and charges
  • All tipping and gratuities
  • PLUS Onboard Credit € 25 per person

DINING HIGHLIGHTS

  • 20 delectable meals including 7 Breakfasts (B), 6 Lunches (L), 7 Dinners (D)
  • Including a Welcome and Farewell Reception and Dinner
  • Complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks served with lunch and dinner on board

INCLUDED EXCURSIONS

  • Traditional Hungarian folklore show on board
  • Walking tour of Bratislava
  • Home-hosted coffee and cake with a Slovakian family
  • Guided coach tour of Budapest
  • Vienna art tour with visit of Kunsthistorisches Museum
  • Traditional Bavarian band on board
  • Guided tour of Göttweig Abbey
  • Visit to the Christmas Market at Thurn and Taxis Palace Grounds
  • Guided tour of Passau
  • Walking tour of Regensburg with Bavarian sausage tasting
  • Christmas traditions in Europe (on board presentation)

Christmas Markets

Pricing

Price per person is in Canadian dollars and is based on double occupancy

*Single occupancy pricing available upon request.

Category Twin per person Taxes Total Total AFTER June 1

A $5,899.85 652.65 + 6.50 HST $6,559.00 $6,969.00

B $5,839.85 652.65 + 6.50 HST $6,499.00 $6,859.00

C $5,539.85 652.65 + 6.50 HST $6,199.00 $6,589.00

  • Non refundable deposit of $1000.00 per person due at time of booking, plus applicable insurance
  • Final payment due January 20, 2025 Non Refundable
  • Cancellation and medical insurance is required
  • Pricing is subject to change due to circumstances beyond our control
  • Itineraries are subject to change

The Drink Package Options for Purchase… must be booked at time of booking.

Premium package - Cost is $159.00 per person

Enjoy a range of soft drinks and bottled juices, as well as mocktails and non-alcoholic bottled beers. You’ll also have a choice of draft beers by the glass, as well as our red and white house wines by the glass.

Platinum package - Cost is $312.00 per person

For an alcohol-free beverage, take your choice of soft drinks, bottled juices, mocktails, and non-alcoholic bottled beers. For beer lovers, enjoy a range of international draft beers by the glass and a selection of bottled beers - and for wine connoisseurs, sample our white and red house wines or sparkling wine and Prosecco by the glass, or a selection of bottled wines. You’ll also have a choice ofhouse-brand spirits, cocktails, and mixed drinks to enjoy.

DiscoverMORE Optional Tours - Extra Expense

Bratislava: Carpathian Wine Route Tour $113.00 per person

Vienna: Viennese Evening Concert $124.00 per person

Passau: Visit to Schütz Art Museum Engelhartszell $54.00 per person

Deck Plans

Emerald Star

The Horizon Bar & Lounge is the social heartbeat of the Emerald Star, with a comprehensively-stocked bar and skilled bartenders who will make every day one of complete relaxation. Reflections Restaurant is a place where you can enjoy delectable meals that have been specially prepared by their chefs, who take inspiration from the countries that you pass through and make the most of the regional ingredients that surround us.

At the back of the Horizon Deck you can enjoy the peaceful surrounds of the on-board heated pool, where you will have ample opportunity to go for a dip during the day. On selected evenings, this space seamlessly transforms into a cinema where you will enjoy the latest blockbusters and timeless classics.

Emerald Star has ninety-two generously-proportioned suites and staterooms, from which you can admire the views that we sail past in complete comfort, with luscious toiletries, a queen-size or twin hotel-style bed and a TV and infotainment system. Four Owner’s One-Bedroom Suites are also available, each of which contains a complimentary minibar, walk-in wardrobe and an invitation to dine at the Captain’s Table.

Experience a World of EmeraldVALUE

All on-board meals included

Savour exceptional food for breakfast, lunch and dinner when you travel the rivers of Europe on-board our fleet of European Star-Ships. All meals are included in the price, so you can dine on delicious dishes without paying a penny extra.

EmeraldPLUS and EmeraldACTIVE excursions

From walking tours with local experts to special food and wine tastings, no two days on an Emerald Waterways river cruise are ever the same thanks to our collection of inclusive excursions. This includes our extra-special EmeraldPLUS and EmeraldACTIVE experiences, such as evening cruises through Budapest and bicycle rides through picturesque towns and villages.

No need to tip

The last thing you want at the end of an amazing holiday is to be presented with additional and unexpected charges. When you travel with Emerald Cruises, you don’t have to worry about any unwanted surprises because we include all tipping for on board and onshore staff.

Award-winning service

Since launching on the rivers of Europe in 2014, we’ve won several awards and accolades for our exemplary service, and this extends across our entire Star-Ship fleet. So, whenever and wherever you’re sailing, you’re guaranteed a warm welcome with Emerald Waterways.

Trip Notes

 

Weather

A winter cruise of the Danube showcases the famous Christmas Markets and bring the Old Town plazas to fascinating life in colourful traditional displays that showcase the customs and traditions that have survived for centuries. As long as you are prepared for cooler temperatures, your Christmas Market cruise of the Danube will be an unforgettable adventure!

Daytime highs tend to be near 10-12 C (50-54 F) early in the month, falling to around 6-8 C (43-46 F) near the end of the month. A few of the warmer afternoons, especially early in the month, can reach up near 16 C (61 F).

 

What to pack

We are Canadians. These temperatures to us are comfortable! That said - weather can be unpredictable this time of year. You will want to pack for rain and the possiblity of snow. Lots of layers so you can take some off on warmer days, and add some on during colder days. Evenings can be cooler. Don't forget your toque and mitts.

Terms & Conditions

BST Escorted Group Terms & Conditions

(These Terms & Conditions do not apply to Charters. Separate T & C apply.)

Please carefully review the Terms & Conditions outlined below. Any reservation made with BST constitutes a binding agreement signifying your acceptance of, and your agreement to follow, these Terms & Conditions, and to be bound by them.

To process your reservation, we will need your personal information including your name, address, telephone number, email address, passport number, date of birth, citizenship, and information you have disclosed regarding health, medical, dietary, mobility and other special requirements. BST will require a copy of your valid passport at time of deposit.

Deposit and Final Payment

Deposit is due at time of booking to secure your reservation. The deposit amount due is $500.00 CAD per person.

The final payment deadline is due in our office on or before the date included on your invoice.

All payments once received are non-refundable. Please refer to insurance sections below.

Please make cheques payable to Blowes and Stewart Travel. We also accept in-office cash / debit payments, or Visa, Mastercard and American Express credit cards.

Completion of the electronic credit card authorization form or the PDF credit card authorization form commits you to your reservation and the charges on your credit card.

The Company reserves the right to cancel a reservation if payment has not been received by the specified due date.

Final Travel details will be issued 2 weeks prior to departure.

Not Included in the Trip Cost

All quoted trip costs do not include items of a personal nature such as but not limited to; medical insurance, cancellation/interruption insurance, alcoholic beverages, gratuities, phone calls, airline baggage fees where applicable and meals that are not included or listed in the itinerary.

Escorted Group Cancellation Policy

All escorted groups require a minimum number of passengers to travel. Should minimum numbers not been reached, the Company has the right to cancel the tour with a full refund to the passengers booked. Refund will be processed in manner received. Tours unable to operate due to Travel Advisory, acts of God, Terrorism or any other event and no fault of BST, will be subject to cancellation charges as listed above.

BST highly recommends the purchase of cancellation/interruption insurance for all trips. BST will not be held responsible for loss of monies due to cancellation/changes.

Medical insurance is mandatory for all trips outside of the Province of Ontario. If client has out of province medical insurance with a separate insurance provider, BST must be advised of insurance company name, policy number & company contact information prior to trip commencement.

Persons leaving the tour during operation will not receive a refund of unused services and all costs of returning to the point of embarkation will be borne by the client. For additional information on packages/plans offered, please visit https://www.igoinsured.com/Direct/ManulifeGlobal.aspx?ag=STEWPET&lang=E

Global Pandemic

Customer acknowledges the risks related to the spread of infectious or contagious diseases. It remains the customer's responsibility to take the necessary precautions applicable to any health hazards, including but not limited to a Global Pandemic. To ensure the safety of all guests and employees, suppliers may have mandatory safety protocols in place, and the availability of their services and facilities may be impacted.

Customer agrees to follow all current and future regulations/protocols set forth for safety in compliance with government policies at your own expense.

BST is not responsible for any fees for, or associated with, mandatory government testing in destination or for returning to Canada, quarantine or expenses relating to any Global Pandemic or similar. If additional insurance protection is declined, it remains the customer's responsibility to verify if their travel insurance policy covers a Global Pandemic.

BST will not be held liable should customers be denied boarding due to insufficient proof of a negative Global Pandemic test prior to departure, or displaying symptoms of a Global Pandemic upon check in. No monies will be refunded to customers who have been denied boarding or refunded at port of entry.

Additional Notes

All prices listed are per person in Canadian Dollars unless otherwise noted. Pricing is based on supplier cost, currency exchange rates and conditions in effect at the time of brochure printing. Final payment may fluctuate based on changes to the currency exchange at that time. Should there be a pricing increase, a maximum of 7% of base cost, may be applied, or to the taxes and/or government-imposed fees, fuel surcharges or additional airline fees before final payment, these increased charges will be levied to the customer and applied to the final invoice. No additional surcharges may be applied after the trip is paid in full. All trips may be subject to change in situations beyond our control.

When travelling outside of Canada all Canadian passengers require a valid passport. If travelling with a foreign passport (not Canadian) BST must be advised at time of booking so we can advise accordingly. Most countries require passports to be valid for 6 months beyond the expected return date.

Some countries may also have visa requirements for entry. Any fees to obtain visas or additional travel documentation that may be required are the responsibility of the traveler. Entry into another country cannot be guaranteed and is at the sole discretion of the local authorities. BST takes no responsibility for a customer being denied entry into another country. Cancellation charges and any additional fees will be at the customer’s expense.

It is the passenger's responsibility to obtain information, and to have in their possession, all the required documentation to travel (such as passports, visa where applicable, etc.) required by the relevant governmental authorities, for themselves and passengers in their care. Note that the documents required for the outbound portion of your travel may differ from those required for the return.

BST is not responsible for any missing or inappropriate documents. Failure to have proper travel documents will result in denied boarding and automatic cancellation of your reservation without refund.

BST accepts any passengers that have a disability, intellectual or physical condition providing they are able to care for themselves during the trip which includes boarding the plane/bus on their own; participating in any included tours/sightseeing without assistance; the ability to understand meeting points/times and the ability to care for their own documents. BST will accept any passenger who’s intellectual or physical condition is such as to render him/her incapable of caring for him/herself without assistance, provided that he/she is accompanied by an attendant (at an additional cost) who is responsible for the passenger enroute and with the care of such attendant, he/she will not require attention or assistance beyond that which is usually provided by BST tour escort. Some destinations may not be suitable for physical mobility issues.

Baggage restrictions vary by airline and destination. Specific details will be provided with your final travel documents.

Please ensure that you have secured baggage tags to your luggage prior to arriving at the airport, train station or boarding the coach.

Please note that you are responsible for carrying your own luggage and are responsible for the safety and security of your luggage at all times. BST will not assume liability for loss, theft, or damage due to breakage, fire, water, or theft, during transport on the plane, coach, train or at hotel. Ask your agent for details of Baggage and Personal Effects Insurance coverage.

Airline seating requests are taken into consideration and sent to each airline if applicable. Additional charges apply for premium seating on aircraft. Specific seating on coaches or trains cannot be guaranteed. BST will try to accommodate all requests.

BST reserves the right to decline any person as a member of the trip at any time before or during the trip should such person’s presence be considered detrimental to the interest, comfort, and enjoyment of the other members. Persons leaving the trip after commencement will not receive a refund of unused services and all costs of returning to the point of embarkation will be borne by the client.

When travelling outside of Ontario, please note local customs may differ and conditions of travel may not be the same as home. Clients not travelling on full itinerary as outlined assume full responsibility for any cancellation penalties or fees incurred due to cancellation or alteration to itinerary in any way.

Our Role

In offering travel arrangements for sale, BST acts solely as the organizer of the tours and responsible for making all reservations as outlined. BST cannot be held responsible for supplier errors or omissions. We do not maintain any control over the personnel, equipment or operations of any supplier and we assume no responsibility for, and shall not be expected or required to pay for any financial loss, personal injury, other loss, accident, delay, inconvenience or irregularity which you may experience either by reason of (1) non-performance by any supplier for whatever reason (2) wrongful causes, negligent or unauthorized acts or omissions on the part of any supplier or its employees or on the part of any other party not under the control of BST (3) any defect, breakdown or other failure of any aircraft, train, bus, automobile, accommodation, ship or other equipment or instrumentality operated and owned or otherwise used by a supplier or (4) BST is not liable for any loss, damage, injury or death resulting from circumstances beyond its direct control such as unexpected weather conditions, civil unrest, acts of God, force Majeure or any other unforeseen circumstances.

Book early to secure your cabin! Reach out to your BST Vacations Travel Advisor for details.