Wine, enjoyed in moderation, is a healthy food which enriches life.

 

Danube Wine Tour

Wine, Cuisine, History and Culture

Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary

11 Days - May 29 to June 8, 2020 Early Booking Discount (See Below)

All-Inclusive accompanied tour to Prague, Regensburg, Passau, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest.

FAQ | Register | Price | Itinerary | Trip Extension

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Imagine cruising on the Danube, the river that since the earliest days has been a vital conduit linking the civilizations that developed along its banks. The splendour of Vienna, Budapest and Prague with their magnificent architecture. The natural beauty of the Wachau Valley with vineyards clinging to the slopes that rise majestically above the river will inspire you. This region is truly a feast for the senses. Join wine personality Steve Thurlow, as he leads a 11 day excursion of discovery and enjoyment.

Visit wineries and breweries, see some of the world's best preserved Classical architecture. Learn how to cook Czech style, dine in splendid traditional settings at wineries with their winemakers, relax in the warm autumnal sunshine and enjoy all the facilities of a modern river cruise boat.

 

Life onboard modern river cruise vessels offers every luxury as we glide with the current along the Danube. Gourmet cuisine with wine and beer, a panoramic forward observation lounge.

Deluxe cruise accommodation is in a 172 sq. ft. outside cabin with stylishly furnished interiors that include flat-screen TV, mini-bar, and designer bathroom accessories - matching the most modern hotel standards.

 

The elegance extends into the public areas, especially to the restaurant and the Panorama Bar. Fitness inclined passengers can take some exercise in the indoor pool, in the fitness studio or on the putting green, while those seeking health and beauty treatments will be made welcome in the Vital Club or the beauty salon.

A spell on the enormous sun deck offers people the chance to relax in the open air. Alternatively the AMADEUS Club provides a quiet place to settle with a good book. WiFi is available throughout the ship for a modest additional charge if you wish to report back to family and friends.

In late May each year there is plenty of warm sunshine in Budapest; daily highs of 17-21°C and lows of 13-15°C.

Wine for Life in co-operation with Lüftner Cruises presents an accompanied wine, food and cultural visit to Central Europe, from Prague to Budapest on the Danube.

We will explore the leading vineyards, wineries and breweries and be introduced to Czech cuisine under the attention of one of Prague's master chefs during a half day cooking school.

Click here to see the photo and video highlights of previous trips to the Danube.

 

 

Guided tours are included in Prague, Regensburg, Passau, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. There will also be time for individual sightseeing in these locations.

Also included are two virtual tours of the wines of Germany and Austria led on board by Steve Thurlow and visits to two breweries in the Czech Republic.

Three half day wine tasting excursions are also included.

One to the Wachau region, a second to the Burgenland region south of Vienna and the third to the Melnik wine region in the Czech Republic.

 

 

 

If all this sounds like too hectic a pace, don't worry. There will be time for relaxing in the warm sunshine and wandering around some of the beautiful towns and villages that lie along our route.

Additional optional tours are also offered by Lüftner Cruises at additional cost. Details can be supplied on request.


Hungary Extension

For those who can spare another few days we suggest staying on a while longer to spend more time in historic Budapest and to visit the Hungarian wine region of Tokaj. Every year so far most of those joining the tour have opted for the extension.

The main tour includes one day in Budapest.

The extension adds an additional time in this magical city.

The Chain Bridge at night is just one sight you will relish, plus two days visiting the wine region of Tokaj.

See below for details on the two night accompanied extension in Hungary to the 11 day tour of the Danube.


Register for Tour

If you wish to join this tour in May 2020....

Email: Steve Thurlow steve@stevethurlow.com

and he will send you a registration form.

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Price

The price for the 11 day trip is C$7290. An early booking discount of 10% ($729) will be applied to the first six guests reserving on the trip.

A non-refundable deposit of C$800 per guest is required to secure a place on the trip. Final payment for the trip is required 120 days prior to departure.

Guests are advised to take trip cancellation insurance which we are happy to provide. Please request a quotation when registering for the trip.

The trip price assumes double occupancy in the hotel in Prague and on board MS Amadeus Queen in a 172 sq. ft. cabin with a panoramic window on Haydn Deck Category C-1 and includes the hotel, river boat cruise Passau to Budapest, and luxury coach transportation elsewhere. Also included are buffet breakfasts every day, winery visits and tastings, and 19 meals, most with wines, all led by Steve Thurlow.

Guests are required to make their own travel arrangements to the hotel in Prague and home from Budapest. There are many connecting flights from North America each day on several major airlines.

We are pleased to assist with air travel if required.

MS Amadeus Queen

The Amadeus Queen is the 14th and latest addition to the Luftner fleet. She was built in 2018 and accommodates 162 passengers in luxury on 4 decks.

The vessel is 15cm less in height than most other cruise ships on the Danube. So when other ships have to curtail voyages because they cannot sail beneath bridges due to high water levels, itineraries on the Amadeus Queen will likely be unaffected.


 

The modern fleet of Lüftner has set a new standard in European river cruising and offers many features unmatched by other river cruise lines.

Amadeus Queen carries around 30 less passengers than vessels of a similar size, so the concept of spaciousness is evident in the generous public areas.

The cabins are also generous. 12 large suites impress with an outdoor balcony and a cozy reading corner whilst the 69 standard cabins mainly have panoramic window fronts which can be automatically lowered and luxurious bathrooms with spacious powerful showers.

All cabins have a walk-in closet and air conditioning that is individually controlled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An on-board highlight is the indoor pool, the roof of which can be opened in fine weather.

In the evenings, this area may also be used for informative talks, functions and cinema showings.

 

 

 

Every room has a hair dryer, safe, minibar and telephone. There is a modern large screen tv system.

 

The ship’s exclusive “River Terrace” is an open-air lounge in the bow of the ship. Its specially designed glazing provides an incomparable view of the passing riverside scenery while simultaneously providing protection against wind and rain.

Go here to see a 360° Virtual Tour of MS Amadeus Queen.

 

The all-inclusive price assumes double occupancy in a 172 sq. ft. cabin with a window on Haydn Deck. Category C-1

To upgrade to a higher category add the following amount per person:

Cabins
B-1 - Strauss Deck $940
A-1 - Mozart Deck $1390

All cabins on B-Strauss Deck and A-Mozart Deck are 188 sq.ft with a drop-down panoramic window.


Amadeus Suite prices on request as are Single Supplement prices.

 

 

 

 

C-1 Cabin (16 m▓ / 172 sq.ft.) with panoramic window

Spacious bathroom, small panoramic window (cannot be opened), spacious wardrobe, choice of bed configuration (double or twin bed), flat-screen television, individual climate control, en-suite bathroom with shower/WC, hair dryer, direct dial telephone and in-room safe.





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Itinerary Outline

 

(Included meals: B= Breakfast L= Lunch D= Dinner)

Day 1: Prague - Friday May 29, 2020

We gather in Prague at the the 5 Star Art Deco Imperial Hotel

The day is free to start exploring this beautiful city.

Located in the historic centre of Prague, the Imperial Hotel originally opened in 1914 in the final days of the Austro-Hungarian empire with its geometric Art Deco exterior with cubism components and an interior embellished by precious late-Art Nouveau mosaic.

The hotel is close to the Castle District, the Charles Bridge, Old Town Square and the modern shopping centre.

 

From 2005-2007 extensive reconstruction work was undertaken to restore this precious and internationally-recognised unique gem of early 20th century architecture to its former glory, re-establishing the Prague Imperial´s reputation as the most outstanding and spectacular luxury hotel in the city.


 

 

After a chance to rest after the flight at the hotel, and to explore a little of the city, there will be a welcome gathering in the evening followed by a relaxing dinner in a restaurant close to the hotel.

A selection of wines and beers will be served with a menu designed to show off the diversity and richness of Czech cuisine. (D)

Day 2: Cooking School, Prague

After breakfast, the morning will be filled with a cooking class. Assist with the preparation of your own lunch under the expert guidance of one of Prague's best known chefs.

 

Learn about the range of fresh produce, herbs, fish, meat, vegetables and fruits that are available.

The hands-on session will include the preparation of both traditional and modern Czech cuisine and the matching of these dishes to wines and local beers.

 

 

After lunch some will choose to take a nap while others will explore a little more of the city.

Late afternoon there will be a guided sightseeing tour that will reveal why Prague is considered one of Europe's most attractive cities.

Visit the 1,000-year-old Hradcany Castle courtyard, see St. Vitus and then walk over the Charles Bridge to the Old Market Square.

 

 

The evening is free to mingle with the locals at Wenceslas Square, shop for souvenirs or enjoy one of the many charming cafes or restaurants in Prague.

 

Prague Castle at night is quite magical. (B,L)

 
Day 3: Prague, Melnik and Wineries        
 

After breakfast we leave to visit the town of Melnik and the surrounding wine region that lies about 30km north of the city. We will visit Chateau Melnik which has been owned by Prince George Lobkowicz's family since the C10th.

 

 

After the tour of the state rooms, a wine tasting and lunch at the Chateau we return to Prague with the afternoon free to continue exploration.

 

 

 
In the evening there will be a visit to a brewery in the city to see how they make beer and then to have dinner in the brewery. (B,L,D)  
 

Day 4: Pilsen and Nuremberg, Germany

We checkout of the hotel and depart from Prague after breakfast.

We will drive through the countryside to the west of the city for about 60 km to the famous brewing town of Pilsen, that has given its name to a style of beer found all over the world.

 

 

We visit the Pilsner Urquell brewery where we take lunch. The guided tour of this historic brewery is very informative and is regarded by many as one of the highlights of the tour.

 

After lunch, we leave the Czech Republic and drive through the pastoral countryside to Passau, Germany where we board MS Amadeus Queen.

After settling in to our cabins, we gather for a welcome cocktail to meet the other passengers. This is followed by a Welcome Dinner.

The ship leaves that evening and we cruise overnight to Regensberg. (B,L,D)

 

Day 5: – Regensburg

We arrive at 9:30 in magnificent Regensburg, one of Germany's best preserved medieval cities.

The morning will be filled with an included guided tour that will show you the city's architectural highlights, including the Old Town Hall and the Porta Praetoria - gates to an ancient Roman fort which was built in 179 AD.

 

Marvel at beautiful churches and one of the oldest bridges crossing the Danube.

After the guided tour we return to the ship for lunch. After that, there will be time for individual exploration of the city before dinner on-board.

In the evening enjoy the Bavarian Evening onboard. The ship leaves at 20:00 as we cruise overnight back to Passau. (B,L,D)

 

Day 6: – Passau - Bavaria

We arrive back in picturesque Passau at 8:00. Three rivers meet here since the Inn and Ilz Rivers join the Danube in the middle of the city.

Your included city tour takes you on an exploration of this fairy tale city founded more than 2,000 years ago.

Back on board for 10:00 when the cruise continues along the Danube from Passau into Austria.

Before lunch on board, Steve Thurlow will conduct a wine class and tasting of the wines of Germany.

There will be time for relaxation after lunch before we arrive in Linz at 16:30.

The included city tour will take you on a short walking tour before dinner on board.

The ship sails at 22:00. (B,L,D)

 

 

 

Day 7: – Wachau Valley - Vienna

 

 

 

This section of the cruise is one of the most picturesque with each bend in the river offering yet another vista or medieval town.

Vineyards can also be seen on the slopes that lie below the hills.

We arrive in Weissenkirchen at 10:30.

We will leave the ship here to visit Domaine Wachau one of Austria's top producers of wines in the Wachau region. It is a short drive from the ship to the property.

 

     

We cruise through the narrow Strudengau and reach the Wachau Valley early this morning. We arrive at 8:00 at Emmersdorf.

After breakfast there is an optional tour (organized by Luftner at additional cost) to Melk Abbey.

Those not wishing to join the tour stay on board since the ship leaves Emmersdorf at 9:00 to sail through the beautiful Wachau Gorge.

   

 

   

 

At Domaine Wachau, we will see the wine terraces, visit the ancient cellars and taste the wines before taking lunch at the winery.

   
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After lunch we return to the ship which sails at 16:00 for Vienna.

Before dinner Steve Thurlow will lead a tasting of the wines of Austria.

Late evening at 21:30 the ship docks in Nussdorf, a suburb of Vienna.

Vienna is the only city on the tour where we are unable to dock in the centre of the city.

Until late in the C19th the Danube flowed into the centre of Vienna, but after many devastating floods it was diverted, and banks and levees were constructed to protect the city. (B,L,D)

 

Day 8: – Vienna

After breakfast we leave by bus for the city centre with our guide. We will see the Imperial Hofburg Palace, the Vienna Opera House, Ringstrasse, and awe-inspiring St. Stephen's Cathedral on the guided city tour.

 

After the city tour we head off to Burgenland, the Austrian wine region that lies to the south of Vienna. The tour will include lunch at a bio-dynamic winery and a visit to vineyards and the picturesque small wine town of Pamhagen.

We will return to the ship in Nussdorf late afternoon.

That evening there will be an opportunity to spend more time in Vienna, maybe attending a concert. The boat leaves at 3:00 the following morning to allow plenty of time for those that wish to indulge in the pleasures of the city. (B,L,D)

 

 

Day 9: –Bratislava, Slovak Republic

The ship arrives in Bratislava at 08:00. Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and is also the country's largest city.

 

 

The city of almost 500,000 straddles the Danube and has many beautiful historical buildings.

In the morning there will be an included city tour to see the important sites and to orientate you for later unaccompanied exploration.

St. Martins Cathedral built in the 13thľ16th centuries, served as the coronation church of the Kingdom of Hungary between 1563 and 1830.

 

Bratislava Castle is a faithful reconstruction made during the 1950s of the ancient castle that stood on the site since the 10th century. The original building was destroyed by fire in 1811.

The ship remains in port all day until 22:00 to allow ample time for exploration or maybe to take one of the optional excursions offered by Lüftner Cruises.

On board in the evening there will be the Captains Gala dinner and a crew show. (B,L,D)

 

 

     

 

Day 10: - Budapest, Hungary

This morning we stop briefly at Esztergom from 7:00 to 8:30 to allow those that wish to take an optional side tour.

Enjoy the cruise as we glide through some beautiful stretches of the river on our way to Budapest where we arrive at 13:00. Soon after docking we leave the ship for a guided city tour.

This included city tour includes Buda and Pest. From historic Buda Castle you will enjoy a splendid view of the twin cities spread over both banks of the river.

Your tour also features the distinctive Fisherman's Bastion, the marvelous Royal Palace, St. Stephen's Basilica, and much more.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

That evening our cruise will come to a spectacular climax with a moonlight evening cruise to see Budapest in its after dark splendour from the Danube. The evening will conclude with a folklore program on board of singing and dancing. (B,L,D)

 

 

 

Day 11: Budapest to Toronto Monday June 8, 2020


Your fascinating tour comes to an end as you transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (B)

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Hungary Extension

The main itinerary stops for only one day in the magnificent city of Budapest to give a glimpse of what there is to see. Some travelers will return at a later date but some may wish to extend the tour by staying two additional nights and delaying their return flight.

Day 11: – Tokaj Wineries and Mad Monday June 8, 2020

Those returning to Canada will leave for the airport, while those taking the extension will leave Budapest by coach after breakfast to visit the historic wine region of Tokaj.

About 2.5 hours after leaving the city we will be at the Disznoko winery in Tokaj.

After a brief tour there will be a tasting during which the complex traditional process for the creation of Tokaj's wine will be explained.

We then drive for 5 minutes to our hotel in the idyllic village of Mad to check in to our hotel where lunch will be served on arrival.

 


 

 

Madi Kuria Hotel, a recent conversion of an historic bank, is situated at the centre of the village of Mad, pronounced Mard in case you were wondering.

While the exterior facade has been returned to its original 19th century look, the interior has been elegantly converted using 21st century technology creating a brand new hotel with 24 rooms each wired for the internet.


With sky high ceilings and modern bathrooms the hotel offers comfort with an aura of a previous era. Everyone is sure to enjoy the short stay in this small wine village, escaping from the modern world for a brief period and sharing the quiet life of its inhabitants.

The simple charm of this place is sure to be loved, with the quiet only broken, from time to time, by the ringing of church bells. Farmers still drive donkey carts with flowers affixed to them to get around and offer a friendly wave to visitors.

Tokaj is world famous for its sweet wines, which have a reputation for great aging potential. These days the proportion of wines made that are very sweet is declining, in fact wineries are producing many completely dry wines from furmint and harslevelu. The slightly sweet szamorodni (late harvest) style is also increasingly popular.

After lunch there will be time to settle into the hotel and maybe wander a little around the village.

Late afternoon we leave to visit the St. Tamas vineyard on a hill above the village in the company of Istvan Szepsy. We then go with him to his winery for a tasting.

The gourmet dinner that evening will be with our hosts from the village wineries. It will feature regional specialties created to match the different Tokaj wine styles. (B,L,D)

 

Day 12: Mad and Tokaj

 

After breakfast we will visit the village on foot visiting the wonderfully restored C18th synagogue if possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We will soon be on our way back to Budapest where we will arrive in time for a late lunch.

 

 

 

 

We will stay at the Astoria Hotel in the centre of the old town of Pest, that was united with Buda on the other side of the Danube to create Budapest in 1873.

   

 

 
 

The hotel is probably the most charming old-style accommodation in the city, and has been a leading hotel since 1914.

It is newly renovated and combines timeless elegance with modern amenities.

 
 

 

There will be time to visit individually some of the city's sites as yet unexplored, as well as finding a quiet cafe for a coffee. The famous Synagogue, the second largest in the world, or the Houses of Parliament are both a short walk from our hotel. The modern shopping centre is also a few blocks away for those wishing to make some final purchases before heading home.

The Astoria Hotel restaurant "The Mirror Cafe" first became celebrated at the start of the last century. These elegant surroundings and the fine cuisine will be the venue for our final dinner together as a group.

We will relive the highlights of the tour while we sample some more of the delightful wines from Hungary. (B,D)

 
   

Day 13: Budapest to Toronto Wednesday June 10, 2020

Your trip extension comes to an end after breakfast as the group disperses. (B)

 

Extension Price

The extension price assumes double occupancy in the hotels in Budapest and Mad and includes coach transportation and local guides. Also included are buffet breakfasts every day, winery visits and tastings, and meals with wines as described in the itinerary. The price for the 3-day extension is estimated being from C$700 to C$850 per person depending on numbers booked with a minimum of 8 participants. Single Supplement prices are available on request.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the age range of the group?

These tours appeal to a wide range of ages, since we can love wine, food and travel at all stages of life. Typically the range is from 30 to 65 though we have had some older and younger than this join in the past.

Do you need to be a wine/beer connoisseur to participate?

Absolutely not. These are tours of discovery and enjoyment, of the beer, wine, food, culture and history of the region. You will certainly return home with a greater appreciation of wine. I have been told it is impossible to spend 11 days traveling with me without learning more about how wine is made and enjoyed with food.

Is the trip price really all-inclusive?

Almost all costs other than souvenirs, an occasional cup of coffee and maybe a slice or two of pizza are included. I frequently hear that there is too much wine and too much food such that, during free periods, people don’t wish to eat or drink anything else.

These trips seem to be very reasonably priced, what is the catch?

I only run on average two or three trips per year to places to which I would be going anyway; so why not take a few others along with me? These trips are not a fundamental part of what I do in life and so I price them reasonably so all can afford to join. Additionally I receive sponsorship subsidies from wine regions and wineries who are keen to show off to my guests their splendid products and services in the hope that they will spread the word.

We have never traveled with a group before; will there be enough free time?

I used to dislike traveling on buses with groups and also found I needed time away from the group. Consequently we have frequent stops to do stuff when we are traveling by bus plus the schedule has lots of free time built in. Moreover nothing is compulsory, people sometimes take a day off to enjoy life away from the group.

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Conditions

The above itineraries are as planned. However we reserve the right to make adjustments depending upon weather, river conditions and other constraints, to substitute visits to alternative wineries and to arrange accommodation at hotels of similar standard in the towns mentioned. Prices are for double occupancy in twin/double rooms and cabins (single supplement on request). Hotels and Cruise subject to availability. The price for the main tour covers all transportation from the hotel in Prague to Budapest. Transportation is on the river boat cruise Passau to Budapest, and luxury coach transportation elsewhere. Also included are buffet breakfasts every day, winery visits and tastings, and 19 meals most with wines. Guests are required to make their own travel arrangements to the hotel in Prague and from the ship/hotel in Budapest.

In accordance with the Ontario Industry Travel Act, below is the registered name, address and registration number of the provider of the travel services:

UNIGLOBE Enterprise Travel Ltd.
34 Britain Street, Suite 200
Toronto, Ontario
M5A 1R6

Agent: Steve Thurlow

TICO Registration Number: 1810380

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