OPTIONAL PRE-CRUISE TOUR – 3 NIGHTS ISTANBUL
THURSDAY, MAY 4 – SUNDAY, MAY 7, 2023
DAY 1: THURSDAY, MAY 4
ARRIVE IN ISTANBUL, TURKEY
You will be met upon arrival and transferred to the hotel.
OVERNIGHT: FOUR SEASNONS HOTEL AT SULTANAHMET (3 nights)
DAY 2: FRIDAY, MAY 5
ISTANBUL SIGHTS / ROOFTOP DINNER
Admire the grandeur of the spectacular Ottoman Sultans’ Grand Palace of Topkapi, home to every Sultan from the 15th-19th centuries. During your tour, marvel at the private chambers of the Sultans, the Harem (women’s quarters) and the Imperial Treasury’s vast collection, including the jewel-encrusted Topkapi Dagger and the stunning 86-carat Spoonmaker’s Diamond. Tonight Behrens Group members enjoy dinner at a rooftop restaurant with spectacular views of the Hagia Sofia and Bosporus. (B,D)
DAY 3: SATURDAY, MAY 6
HISTORIC ISTANBUL – HAGIA SOFIA & BLUE MOSQUE
Depart your hotel for an enriching guided walking tour, during which you will explore the Hagia Sophia, formerly a church before becoming a mosque and finally a museum. A beautiful example of Old-World architecture, this museum showcases lovely Christian murals and Islamic symbols throughout. After the Hagia Sophia, visit Istanbul’s similarly beautiful Blue Mosque, named for the Blue İznik tiles that cover its interior. For those who are interested, be guided to the lively Grand Bazaar and venture through the market before returning to your hotel. (B)
TIP: The granddaddy of all Turkish baths — the indisputable world’s best, most historic and opulent Turkish bath experience is found near the Hagia Sofia at AyaSofya Hurram Sultan Hammami, built in 1556. There are separate men’s and women’s entrances. This is an experience that must be done to be believed. Ask your tour manager to arrange a session. You only live once. Do not skimp on price when it comes to the menu of choices.
DAY 4: SUNDAY, MAY 7
ISTANBUL – BUCHAREST/GIURGIU – EMBARKATION
Check out of your Istanbul hotel and fly to Bucharest (transfer and flight included). From Bucharest Airport travel by coach to Giurgiu on the Danube River. Approximately 4pm, board AmaMagna to embark on your Gems of Southeast Europe cruise. (B)
7 NIGHT LOWER DANUBE CRUISE, GIURGIU TO BUDAPEST
SUNDAY, MAY 7 – SUNDAY, MAY 14, 2023
DAY 1: SUNDAY, MAY 7
Planning Your Travel: The beautiful port city of Giurgiu, located along the Danube River in Romania bordering Bulgaria and is approximately 1.5 hour driving time from Bucharest.
If booking your own flights: Bucharest (OTP) is the nearest airport, and two options are available for travel to Giurgiu.
- Coach Transportation: For those arriving into Bucharest on the same day as embarkation AmaWaterways offers one transfer to the ship -Passengers requesting this service need to arrive in Bucharest “before” 4:00 PM. Cost is $99.00 per person and must be booked with Expanding Horizons at time of final payment.
- Private Car Transportation: This service is offered by various companies – for example BlackLane Global Chauffeur Services.
- Services subject to change without notice.
Meet your fellow passengers this evening (D)
DAY 2: MONDAY, MAY 8
GIURGIU – ROUSSE, BULGARIA
Experience more of Bucharest or visit Bulgaria’s ancient capital, Veliko Tarnovo, with its medieval fortress and multiple orthodox temples. You can opt instead to explore Rousse, known for its 19th- and 20th-century Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo architecture, and then afterwards visit the UNESCO-designated Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo with frescos revealing exceptional artistry of 14th-century paintings. (B,L,D)
DAY 3: TUESDAY, MAY 9
Explore Vidin, one of Bulgaria’s oldest cities, and surrounding areas with a choice of excursions. Discover Baba Vida Fortress, the largest preserved medieval castle in Bulgaria, or visit a local home for a demonstration of traditional Bulgarian yogurt and Banitsa, a pastry you will also get to make. You also have the option to take an exhilarating bike tour through Vidin. Continue on to Belogradchik, one of Bulgaria’s natural wonders, where you can hike around its most spectacular rock formations. Alternatively, you can bike through Vidin or enjoy a wine tasting. (B,L,D)
DAY 4: WEDNESDAY, MAY 10
SCENIC CRUISING THROUGH THE IRON GATES
The Iron Gates are some of Europe’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders. The Danube narrows as it winds through a series of magnificent gorges between the Carpathian and Balkan mountains, forming a natural border between Serbia and Romania. The ancient King Decebalus, the last king of Dacia, is proudly carved into the mountainside and always captivates travelers. After your scenic cruise, you will arrive at Golubac Fortress – one of the best preserved medieval fortresses in Europe – for a tour. (B,L,D)
DAY 5: THURSDAY, MAY 11
Explore Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, on a city tour, which includes the Kalemegdan Fortress and the Serbian Orthodox Temple of St. Sava. Or visit the Royal Palace – the official residence of the Serbian Royal Family – and tour the House of Flowers, the mausoleum of Marshal Tito, who became the first President of Yugoslavia; or hike to Belgrade Fortress. In the afternoon, enjoy a taste of the region by sampling Serbian plum brandy, Šlivovitz, and delicious local delights at the Quburich Distillery. For those wishing a more active adventure, join a guided bike tour. (B,L,D)
DAY 6: FRIDAY, MAY 12
NOVI SAD, ILOK CROATIA
Discover Novi Sad, the “Serbian Athens,” on a walking tour to Dunavski Park and through Stari Grad, the Old Town center. If you prefer a more active exploration, join a guided biking tour or hike to Petrovaradin Fortress, a mighty stronghold no enemy has ever breached. Later in the day, cruise to Vukovar, a Croatian symbol of resistance, which you’ll better understand on your city tour showcasing the Ovčara Memorial and Eltz Castle. Alternatively, choose a wine tasting in Ilok, a center of wine production since Roman times, where you’ll sample its famous Grasevina, Traminac and Frankovka wines. (B,L,D)
DAY 7: SATURDAY, MAY 13
MOHÁCS – PÉCS, HUNGARY
Visit Pécs, founded more than 2,000 years ago by the Romans, and the UNESCO-designated Christian Necropolis; St. Peter’s Basilica, the city’s main Catholic cathedral along with its catacombs; and Széchenyi Square, the heart of Old Town Pécs. You will also see the Mosque of Pasha Qasim the Victorious, one of the symbols of the city. Or for wine connoisseurs, you’ll want to go to the Szekszárd wine region, one of the oldest red-wine-growing areas in Hungary, established more than 2,000 years ago. You may also take an exhilarating guided bike tour from Mohács through Danube-Drava National Park. (B,L,D)
POST-CRUISE – 2 NIGHT BUDAPEST TOUR
SUNDAY, MAY 14 – TUESDAY, MAY 16, 2023
DAY 1: SUNDAY, MAY 14
DISEMBARKATION / BUDAPEST ROYAL PALACE OF GODOLLO / LAZAR EQUESTRIAN ESTATE
Disembark the AmaMagna at 9am. We have a uniquely Hungarian sightseeing program today visiting two superb attractions outside the city. The Royal Palace of Godollo was the summer getaway for Emperor Franz Josef and his beloved queen Elizabeth, fondly called “Sisi” by Hungarians. After a tour of the palace visit the extraordinary Lazar Champions Estate. Here brothers Vilmos and Zoltan Lazar raise Hungary’s finest horses, including the beautiful white Lippinzan breed and the enormous Hungarian draft horses. Enjoy a phenomenal riding show by Hungarian hussars in traditional costume, followed by refreshments and an authentic and delicious country lunch. NOTE: Great photo opportunities here!This evening is at leisure. (B,L)
TIP: Tonight stroll down Kazinczy Street and explore the lively Jewish Quarter’s night life. This is Budapest’s version of Bourbon Street with the many “Ruins” bars and night clubs.
Overnight: Budapest Marriot Hotel or similar (2 nights)
DAY 2: MONDAY, MAY 15
BUDAPEST AT LEISURE / GYPSY DINNER
Today is at leisure to explore Budapest, arguably central Europe’s most substantive city. Budapest has been a crossroads between Europe and Asia since the time of Genghis Khan. Our tour desk in the hotel will offer optional tours to the Hungarian Parliament and Opera, the Szentendre Artist Village or an exploration of the city’s many Jewish sites and historical places. Tonight enjoy a Gypsy farewell dinner at the historic Karpatia Restaurant. (B, D)
DAY 3: TUESDAY, MAY 16
This morning check out of the hotel after breakfast. You will be transferred to Budapest International Airport for onward flights. (B)
A reasonable degree of mobility is required for all passengers on this program. Most of the guided tours provided on your cruise are walking tours. Many historic villages in Europe are located on hilltops, where it is necessary to walk up and down hilly, cobblestone streets that may have narrow passageways. Ships docked in port are often rafted side-by-side to another river ship. Passengers are then required to ascend and descend flights of 12 or more stairs to walk up to observation deck, down to gang planks to enter or exit the rafted ships. To participate in tours and get on and off the ship, travelers must be able to walk unaccompanied.
Disabilities and Wheelchairs
Persons with a walking disability or an injury, or who require a wheelchair/scooter or other mobility device, must have another dedicated person traveling with them to assist/push etc. The ship’s crew and other cruise guests are not available to assist persons with limited mobility. On customized pre or post cruise land programs, the Expanding Horizons tour manager is authorized to remove, or ask to leave from the tour, any traveler incapable of, unwilling to, or impeding the overall movement and progress of the tour group.