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Passion Play 2020, Danube Cruise & Mediterranean

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399
29 Days
30 April - 28 May 2020
Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne (other cities available)

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Tour Details

Oberammergau is a small German town tucked away in the Bavarian Alps, world-famous for its Passion Play. The play was first performed in 1634 as the result of a vow made by the townspeople that if God spared them from the Black Plague they would in exchange produce a play every ten years. The play is a dramatic recreation of Jesus’ passion, covering the final days of his life from his visit to Jerusalem to his crucifixion and resurrection. The Passion Play is now performed from May through October, in an open-air stage and involves over 2,000 people including actors, singers, musicians and technical support, all required to be residents of Oberammagau.

Cruise along the peaceful Danube River through Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, and Germany—stopping at some of Central Europe’s most splendid capitals and charming towns.  As you set sail on the Danube, pass the impressive Parliament Buildings of Budapest and head for the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava. Journey through Vienna and the Wachau Valley.   Visit the impressive Benedictine Abbey of Melk and in Linz, walk around the Hauptplatz, Austria’s largest medieval square. Take guided walks around the German cities of Passau and Regensburg. End your Danube River cruise with an added stop in Oberammergau for the Passion Play before travelling onto Munich.

Departure & Return Location

Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne

(contact us for departures from other cities in AUS & NZ)

Price Includes

  • Return flights from your nearest capital city
  • Fully escorted tour
  • Category 1 Passion Play seating
  • 28 Breakfasts, 21 Lunches & 22 Dinners
  • Accommodation
  • Shore excursions as per the itinerary
  • Cruise porterage
  • Tours and entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Tipping

Price Excludes

  • Visas (if required)
  • Any Private Expenses

Complementaries

  • Luggage Tag
Map
Itinerary
Details subject to change

Day 1: Thursday, 30 April 2020Depart Australia

Travel to your nearest capital city airport for your flight to Europe.

Overnight: Plane
Meals: Dinner (on plane)

Day 2: Friday, 1 May 2020Athens

Arrive in Athens, Greece and transfer to your hotel. Enjoy free time to rest and relax before joining the rest of the group for a welcome dinner. After sunset you will see the Acropolis beautifully illuminated.

Overnight: Athens Hotel
Meals: Breakfast and lunch (on plane), Dinner

Day 3: Saturday, 2 May 2020Athens

This morning visit a local Adventist church for worship service or enjoy free time in downtown Athens.
In the afternoon, we will travel to the Port of Piraeus, the largest port in the Mediterranean and the departure point for our cruise on the Celestyal Crystal. Enjoy your comfortable stateroom, the elegant restaurants, spa and fitness rooms, as well as promenade decks, where you can revel in the splendour of a starlit ocean sky as we cruise the Mediterranean Sea over the next week.

Overnight: M/V Celestyal Crystal
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Sunday, 3 May 2020Istanbul

Today, we will cruise through the Dardanelles and Sea of Marmara to reach Istanbul where we stay overnight. This is a city split between two continents, Europe and Asia. It boasts lavish Byzantine architecture and imperial mosques with sky-high minarets that make up the city’s skyline.

Overnight: M/V Celestyal Crystal
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Monday, 4 May 2020Istanbul

Our included tour starts with a truly unique cruise on the Bosphorus Strait dividing two continents. Set sail by private tender boat over the jet blue waters to take in the city and its iconic skyline from both angles. As you weave your way between traditional fishing boats and ferries, you’ll soon see the Orient and Occident emerging. Keep a lookout for the glamorous 19th century Dolmabahçe Palace and the former Ottoman palace of Çırağan. And on the Asian side, the summer residence of the sultans, Beylerbeyi Palace, as well as the Anatolian Castle medieval fortress and magnificent Kanlica Villa all come into view. Back on dry land, you can stretch your legs with a stroll around the Grand Bazaar. Try haggling for souvenirs, or simply browse the myriad of goods on offer.

In free time, you may choose to visit the Sultanahmet district, the old district of Istanbul where you can find many attractions including the Blue Mosque, Underground Cistern, Tokapi Palace and Hagia Sophia.

Overnight: M/V Celestyal Crystal
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Tuesday, 5 May 2020Canakkale Troy and Gallipoli, Turkey

Cruising back through the Dardanelles Strait, we arrive at Canakkale which sits at the narrowest part. From the ship, you can spot the wooden Trojan horse on the waterfront promenade.

Disembark for a full day tour encompassing the ancient city of Troy and the Gallipoli Peninsula Historical National Park. After a drive to the UNESCO-listed city of Troy, wander around the ruins where the legends from Homer’s “Iliad” come to life before your eyes. The Trojan War and the tale of Helen are just one layer of the many stories this ancient city guards.

Continue to the Gallipoli battlefields, starting at Anzac Cove where the Australian and New Zealand soldiers first landed. Move on to the many gravesites and memorials, including Lone Pine Cemetery with its moving views over the landscape. Visit Plugge’s Plateau, where you can still see the trench lines by the path, then Beach Cemetery, Hell Spit, Shrapnel Valley, Brighton Beach and Quinn’s Post. There’s also a stop at the memorial grounds of 57 Regiment Cemetery for a moment’s pause, until the tour comes to a poignant close at Chunuk Bair Memorial.

Overnight: M/V Celestyal Crystal
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Wednesday, 6 May 2020Volos, Greece

Tucked in below Mt Pelion – land of the mythical centaurs – Volos embraces the Pagasetic Gulf to the one side and the dramatic, mountainous Pelion Peninsula to the other. Step off the cruise ship and you are greeted by a thriving university city whose energetic pace will whisk you up into its whirlwind of activity, both at the port and in the tsipouradika – traditional tavernas – and set you on a course to uncover some real architectural gems, both ancient and neoclassical. Spend the day at leisure or join one of the optional tours.

Optional tours: Volos and Mt Pelion, The Rocks and Hanging Monasteries of Meteora
Overnight: M/V Celestyal Crystal
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Thursday, 7 May 2020Crete (Heraklion), Greece

Sailing into Heraklion port, the intimidating walls of the Koules Fortress emerge from the sea to guard the ancient treasures found within the city. Capital of Crete, Heraklion is brimming with landmarks, world-class museums and golden beaches.

As we venture into the incredible open-air museum of the Palace of Knossos, our included bus tour will take you along the proud Venetian heritage of Heraklion – the Koules Fortress (the stronghold overlooking the Heraklion harbour), the Venetian Loggia (the 17th century administrative and social centre), the harmonious Morozini fountain and the 10th century Church of St. Titus. Explore the Palace of Knossos, considered Europe’s oldest city, and experience the incredible world of the legendary Minoan civilization.

In the afternoon, enjoy free time to savour the beauty and uniqueness of Crete’s largest city (and the fourth largest in Greece). The city is brimming with an assortment of museums that satisfy every taste- entre, full of busy cafes and elegant shops or retrace the steps of its Venetian rulers at the impressive fortified port, the vast arches and the arsenals.

Overnight: M/V Celestyal Crystal
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Friday, 8 May 2020Santorini - Mykonos, Greece

Cruising towards Santorini is like being swept away on a current to somewhere truly magical with its striking cliffs, promising adventure and legendary tales. The almost vertical towns of whitewashed houses and blue-domed churches will rise above the blue Aegean like an oasis of beauty and calm.

Our included tour to Santorini’s jewel, the village of Oia, is a trip into the picture-perfect world of an island where romance and beauty reign supreme. A panoramic drive by Santorini’s caldera which offers breathtaking views. In Oia we will walk through the gleaming white streets of the village through a beautiful labyrinth of shops, cafes, art galleries and hotels, harmoniously built in the unmistakable Cycladic style.

Late afternoon, we will sail to Mykonos with its rugged rocky landscape blending seamlessly with smooth sandy beaches. In the distance undulating hills host the island’s iconic windmills turning in symphony with the seasonal winds that have branded Mykonos ‘island of the winds’.

Overnight: M/V Celestyal Crystal
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Saturday, 9 May 2020Athens

This morning, we leave the cruise and travel along the shores of the Saronic Gulf to Corinth, an important archaeological site, which has revealed many great finds. Once one of the most powerful cities of the Classical world, it came under Roman rule in 146 BC. It is here that the apostle Paul preached to the people of Corinth in AD 51-52, and his experience later inspired him to write the New Testament books of the First Corinthians and Second Corinthians. While spending time in Corinth, we take time out for a worship service reflecting on the Paul’s writings.

Stroll around the relics of Corinth before your return to Athens where the group will enjoy a traditional Greek dinner while being entertained with Greek music and dance performances.

Overnight: Athens Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Sunday, 10 May 2020 Athens

Travel back in time to the thriving empire of ancient Greece on a full-day tour of Athens. Visit the Royal Palace, the Temple of Zeus, Hadrian’s Arch, the Agora and the colossal Panathinaiko Stadium, venue of the first ever Olympic games. Stroll through the Acropolis and view the grand ruins of the incredible Parthenon looking down over Athens below. After exploring the sprawling citadel, continue to the New Acropolis Museum and learn more about the excavations in the magnificent galleries.

Overnight: Athens Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 12: Monday, 11 May 2020Athens - Venice

This morning, we will fly from Athens to Venice. Sit back, relax and enjoy an unforgettable boat ride as you speed past the spectacular scenery of the Venetian Lagoon and canals – an amazing first look at Venice as you arrive at your hotel in style.

Overnight: Venice Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 13: Tuesday, 12 May 2020Venice

You’ll begin on a morning walking tour of Venice’s signature sights, including the Doge’s Palace and St Mark’s Basilica. Take a boat trip to the islands of Murano and Burano in the lagoon. Watch Murano’s glassblowers and Burano’s lace-makers at work, and enjoy the opportunity to buy typical Venetian handiwork.

Overnight: Venice Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 14: Wednesday, 13 May 2020Venice – Zermatt

Leaving Venice behind, we take bus across northern Italy crossing into Switzerland before arriving into Visp. We will then transfer to a train for a journey to Zermatt, home to the world’s most photographed mountain, the Matterhorn.

Overnight: Walliserhof Zermatt 1896
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 15: Thursday, 14 May 2020Zermatt

Today, we will board the cog rail to the summit of the Gornergrat to enjoy sweeping views of the Alpine scenery during the 35-minute ride. Arriving at the top (3,135 metres above sea level), take in direct views of the summit of the Matterhorn as well as 28 other giant mountains as well as the third-longest glacier of the Alps. You can might like to enjoy a snack or drink (not included) at one of the two restaurants on the site before returning to Zermatt by train.

You will have some time in the afternoon to explore the car free village of Zermatt at leisure before dining at a local restaurant.

Overnight: Walliserhof Zermatt 1896
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 16: Friday, 15 May 2020The Glacier Express - Zurich

Today, we will take ‘the slowest express train in the world,” the Glacier Express, on a panoramic journey through the Swiss Alps. Travel through the Rhine Gorge, Switzerland’s own Grand Canyon. This feast for the eyes is followed by a feast for the palate freshly prepared in the on-board kitchen and served directly at your first-class seat.

Spend the late afternoon and evening at leisure in our Zurich hotel or explore the inner-city area nearby.

Overnight: Hotel Montana
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 17: Saturday, 16 May 2020Zurich

Visit a local Adventist church for a worship service in the morning or spend time at leisure.

In the afternoon, we will visit the Old Town and gain some insights into the city’s history and culture. Learn how the Reformation came about in Zurich as you stroll past the majestic facades of the most important churches in downtown Zurich, visit commemorative monuments and learn about the work of the reformer Ulrich Zwingli.

Overnight: Hotel Montana
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 18: Sunday, 17 May 2020Mt Rigi and Lucerne

Depart by train from Zurich and travel to Lucerne with its charming Old Town. Get acquainted with the city’s rich history on a short sightseeing tour and visit monuments like Chapel Bridge and the Lion Monument.

While savouring a traditional lunch at the Stadtkeller enjoy traditional Swiss folklore performances which will include national costumes, flag throwing and yodelling.

Enjoy a scenic boat ride on Lake Lucerne before reaching Vitznau where we will take the cog train to the top of Mount Rigi. Known as the “Queen of the Mountains,” Mount Rigi, offers stunning 360-degree panoramic views of the Swiss Plateau with the Bernese Alps, Vosges mountains, Black Forest and Glarus Alps beyond. Spend some leisurely time exploring at your own pace. Descend on a cable car before returning to Zurich where you can enjoy a free evening at leisure.

Overnight: Hotel Montana
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 19: Monday, 18 May 2020Neuschwanstein Castle and Oberammergau, Germany

Travel across the scenic countryside from Switzerland to Germany to see the castle that inspired Disney movies. This extraordinary structure was the vision of Bavaria’s Ludwig II, known as the Swan King. Explore the fairytale-like Neuschwanstein castle before heading to the charming village of Oberammergau. See the frescoes that decorate many homes with scenes from Bavarian folktales.

Overnight: Parkhotel am Soier See
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 20: Tuesday, 19 May 2020World-Renowned Passion Play

Enjoy a morning of leisure to explore the village of Oberammergau. This afternoon attend a moving performance of the world-famous Passion Play that is held every 10 years and performed by the inhabitants of Oberammergau. Take your premium seats to witness the covenant that the villagers made with God in the 17th century to spare them from the plague. During the break, join your travel companions for dinner before witnessing the stirring second half of the Passion Play performance.

Overnight: Parkhotel am Soier See
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 21: Wednesday, 20 May 2020Regensburg

Depart from Oberammergau this morning. Benefit from a guided tour along the way, where you will learn about the history of the region. Embark on the ship in Regensburg. Time to relax on board. Tonight, a gala Welcome Dinner sets the mood for your delightful river cruise.

Overnight: Monarch Empress
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 22: Thursday, 21 May 2020Regensburg

This morning, explore Regensburg, one of Germany’s largest and best-preserved medieval cities, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The guided walking tour highlights the city’s stunning architecture as you view the Old Town Hall, Dom St. Peter and the Porta Praetoria, gateway to an ancient Roman fort built in 179 AD. Marvel at beautiful churches and one of the oldest stone bridges crossing the Danube. Return to the ship for lunch or, spend the afternoon at leisure discovering the delights of Regensburg on your own before setting sail for Passau.

Overnight: Monarch Empress
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 23: Friday, 22 May 2020Passau

Dock this morning in 2500-year-old Passau, known for its pastel patrician houses, cafes, cobblestone lanes and riverfront promenade. Passau is a Bavarian town with a mix of Roman, Italian Baroque and Gothic architecture. Explore Passau independently in the morning, or, join the optional full day tour to picturesque Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart and setting for the Sound of Music. The walking tour will include some of Salzburg’s most historic sites including the Mirabell Palace, the Abbey, Salzburg Cathedral, and St. Peter’s Cemetery. After lunch at a local restaurant, there will be time to discover Salzburg on your own before returning to the ship. If you choose to remain on the ship, continue sailing during lunch and relax on board this afternoon.

Optional: Full Day Tour of Salzburg
Overnight: Monarch Empress
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 24: Saturday, 23 May 2020Melk Abbey

Disembark in Melk this morning for a guided tour of the historic Benedictine Abbey, considered one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in Europe. Our group will travel together and have time set aside for Sabbath worship in one of the chapels in the Abbey.
Then, return to the ship and continue cruising through the scenic Wachau Valley on the way to Vienna, the Imperial city legendary for its opulence and elegance. Tonight, perhaps take the opportunity to attend an evening of Viennese culture in the “City of Music” at an optional concert performance of the classical masterpieces of Mozart and Strauss, two of Vienna’s most famous citizens

Optional: Classical Viennese Concert (PM)
Overnight: Monarch Empress
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 25: Sunday, 24 May 2020Vienna

This sparkling city on the Danube has captivated travellers for years with its elegant shops, world-class museums, and beautiful gardens. Drive along the famed Ringstrasse, Vienna’s main boulevard lined with magnificent Baroque palaces, parks and monuments. View the lavish Hofburg Palace, and the impressive Vienna Opera House. Continue to majestic St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Parliament building. Enjoy the afternoon at a café sampling the famous Viennese Sacher Torte, or, join the optional afternoon tour to the Imperial Schonbrunn Palace, once summer residence of the Hapsburgs. Visit the opulent baroque apartments and stroll through the world-famous manicured gardens

Optional: Schonbrunn Palace Tour
Overnight: Monarch Empress
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 26: Monday, 25 May 2020Bratislava

This morning enjoy the tranquil scenery as you sail along the scenic Danube. At noon, arrive in Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, a mix of modern and Baroque architecture. This capital city is among the youngest in Europe, yet retains a rich history dating back more than 2000 years. Walk along the cobblestone lanes of the historic town centre; view St. Martin’s Cathedral, coronation site of the kings of Hungary, the 13th century Old Town Hall and the Franciscan church. Time to explore this colourful city on your own before returning to the ship for dinner as you sail for stunning Budapest.

Overnight: Monarch Empress
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 27: Tuesday, 26 May 2020Budapest

Your morning tour begins on the Pest side of the city; view the Parliament, City Park and Heroes Square. Cross to Buda to see the Royal Palace, Matthias Church and the graceful medieval architecture along the cobbled streets. Explore the city’s wonderful shops and cafes this afternoon on your own. Tonight, enjoy a lavish Captain’s dinner on board.

Overnight: Monarch Empress
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 28: Wednesday, 27 May 2020Depart Hungary

This morning disembark and transfer to the airport for your departure flight.

Overnight: Plane
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner (on plane)

Day 29: Thursday, 28 May 2020Australia

Arrive back in Australia

Meals: Breakfast (on plane)

Photos