Stepping Out in Eastern Europe: Go Escorted

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Traveling overland by deluxe motorcoach to Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia and Hungary, tour members will visit castles and palaces, fortresses and churches, and UNESCO World Heritage sites. The land cost of $3,550 pp dbl includes superior accommodations, breakfasts and many other meals, special visits and lectures, and the services of a tour director. The first departure is May 29.

tauck small ship cruising Also traveling to this corner of Eastern Europe is Tauck Small Ship Cruising, welcoming passengers to its 12-day Budapest to the Black Sea cruise aboard the 118-passenger ms Swiss Sapphire luxury riverboat on the lower Danube. The cruise starts with two hotel nights at Le Meridien Budapest, before sailing through Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania, ending with two nights in Bucharest at the JW Marriott. One cruise director and three tour directors are on board for this all-inclusive cruise, which highlights all escorted land excursions—and a choice of land excursions in single destinations. There are eastbound and westbound sailings in June, September and October, and prices start at $4,290.

vermont bike tours Clients who enjoy biking in Europe have new ground to cover on Vermont Bike Tours’ (VBT) Hungary & Slovakia: The Best of the Danube, accompanied by two VBT trip leaders who introduce two countries of great beauty that have opened their doors to reveal cultures long hidden. On this 10-day tour, bikers will cycle along shoreline paths of the Danube, crisscrossing by bridge and ferry, to explore quaint villages on both banks. They will explore the royal cities of Esztegom and Visegrad, learn to make perfect strudel, and enjoy a scenic train ride along the famous Danube Bend. Tour costs start at $2,795 pp dbl and include roundtrip international airfare, 8-night accommodations in a castle hotel and two of The Leading Small Hotels of the World inns, 15 meals, and use of VBT custom bikes and helmets. The tour offers easy terrain throughout the trip and is ideal for beginning cyclists.

classic journeys Classic Journeys invites travelers to Croatia on five departures scheduled between May 7 and Oct. 1 on its 7-day Dalmatian Coast Cultural Walking Adventure along the southern coast. Hikers spend three nights each in historic Dubrovnik and seaside Hvar, with daily outings to go walking along shepherd’s paths and trails on Kolocep Island, wine tasting in vineyards, lunching at a local farm, visiting a lacemaker and historic sites. Tours are escorted from start to finish by a Classic Journeys’ guide, and the $3,895-$3,995 pp dbl cost includes first-class accommodations, all breakfasts plus other meals, a support vehicle on hikes, admissions to tastings, historic sites and other events, and land transport (mini-coach, ferry, boat). A similar walking adventure—same length, same price—is available to Croatia’s Istrian Coast, starting with a night in Venice and spending three nights in Rovinj and two nights in Opatija. Additionally, the company offers two departures (both priced at $3,895 pp dbl, with special kids’ rates) of a 7-day Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast Family Vacation, spending two nights each in Dubrovnik and Hvar, complete with sea kayaking, sightseeing, biking, wine tasting, and special country meals.

religious heritage tours Among religious heritage escorted tours to Eastern Europe is IsramWorld’s Eastern European Discovery 2011, part of the company’s Travel with a Scholar program. The tour manager/guest scholar is Jacob Shoshan, who offers briefings en-route on Lithuanian, Polish and Czech Jewry during a trip that visits Vilna, Warsaw, Lubin, Krakow and Prague on a 14-night itinerary. Highlighted are visits to Auschwitz, Majdanek and Terezin, as well as a walking tour of Old Prague and a theater performance. The land-only cost is $4,595 pp dbl on the June 16 departure and $4,495 on the July 13 departure. Included are superior hotels, 22 meals including Shabbat, welcome and farewell dinners, local air (between Vilna and Warsaw) and motorcoach transport, and guided sightseeing.

Regina Tours offers a 7-day Peaceful Medjugorje pilgrimage-tour to the major pilgrimage site in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Clients fly either to Munich, Frankfurt or Vienna, and connect to flights to either Split or Dubrovnik, where a Regina Tours’ escort accompanies passengers to Medjugorje. Each day allows visitors to pray, meditate, attend English mass each morning, join in local spiritual exercises, visit various sacred places of the Medjugorje miracle and call on Father Jozo, who was the priest here when the apparitions began to appear in 1981. The pp dbl cost of the June 9 departure is $2,598; the Nov. 1 departure is $2,298. Included is roundtrip air from New York, superior class tourist hotels, all breakfasts and dinners, all sightseeing and activities. Four departures are scheduled for 2012.