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Tour Director
Practical Information

  • A host of Tour Directors shines a spectrum of light on the history of this commanding waterway, its artistic and musical heritage

  • Journey from Passau to Budapest, taking in the treasures of Melk, Vienna, Bratislava and Esztergom

  • Relax on board as we cruise alongside some of the most picturesque scenery the river has to offer

"It was a great privilege to be taught by such skilled and experienced practitioners who were passionate about their subjects. The content was highly appropriate as preparation for the
visits and excursions and really enhanced our experience"

- ACE Customer on the 2019 Seine River Cruise

Following ACE’s voyages along the Seine and Rhône, we are delighted to partner with luxury cruise company CroisiEurope for a new cultural adventure.

Bubbling up in the Black Forest town of Donaueschingen where the Brigach meets the Breg, the mighty River Danube strides across a vast stretch of Europe. For centuries it has formed the borders of nations and empires, turning the tides of history and inspiring a myriad of writers, artists and musicians.

Europe’s second longest river, the Danube flows through or borders a multitude of modern nations before reaching the Black Sea; and its banks have borne witness to an equally diverse array of languages, religions, ethnicities and ruling powers. Often a symbol of division, the river’s glittering waters have also come to represent a kind of unity through difference, a common thread in the evolution of European culture and identity.

Our ten-day journey will illuminate this diverse, yet shared cultural heritage. We will journey from the breath-taking abbey at Melk to the magnificence of Budapest’s Castle District, stopping at Vienna, Esztergom and Bratislava. Visits to some of the river’s most beautiful and important sites – from Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum to the soaring interiors of Budapest’s Great Synagogue – will combine to shed light on the Danube’s story.

To mirror this variety, several ACE Tour Directors will join us at different stages of our journey, supported by a variety of excellent local guides. Musicians including John Bryden, Judy Brown, Nicholas Wearne and Emilie Capulet will perform on board our chartered vessel, the aptly named MS Symphonie, giving life to the celebrated opus of works inspired by the river. Meanwhile art historians Andrew Spira, Sarah Burles and Tom Abbott will prepare us for our daytime visits with a series of on-board lectures, while also guiding at several sites. We also hope to take in a performance on one of Vienna’s famous stages, subject to forthcoming programme announcements.

Visits will be taken at a leisurely pace, with several opportunities to explore locations independently, and to appreciate the river’s magical surroundings during relaxed stretches of cruising.


This tour will feature a variety of guest Tour Directors who will join us at different stages of our journey.


John Bryden, MA, ARCM, ARCO, is a member of the Dartington Piano Duo. He has given concerts across venues from California to Kathmandu via Wigmore Hall. For many years John coached at the Dartington International Summer School, where he performed in master-classes given by Jacqueline du Pré.


Ashley Solomon, FRCM, FRAM, is a Fellow of the Royal College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music, Chair and Head of Historical Performance at the Royal College of Music and Director of Florilegium. Many of Florilegium’s recordings have garnered international awards, and to date they have performed over 1300 concerts worldwide.


Andrew Spira, MA, has worked as a specialist in Byzantine and Russian icons at the Temple Gallery, a curator at the V&A Museum, and Programme Director at Christie’s Education. He has been leading tours to cultural sites all across Europe for over 20 years, and his recent publications include The Invention of the Self: Personal Identity in the Age of Art (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020).


Emilie Capulet, MA, MMus, PhD, is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Senior Lecturer and Head of Classical Performance at the London College of Music, University of West London. Emilie studied piano at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and regularly performs at international music festivals and concert halls. 


Sarah Burles, MA, studied History of Art at Cambridge before going on to a career in museum and gallery education. This included 12 years at the Fitzwilliam Museum as well as work in other Cambridge museums. Sarah has a passion and enthusiasm for making museums and their collections accessible.


Tom Abbott, MA, is an independent art and architectural historian with extensive experience directing cultural and art tours in Europe. He has a particular interest in the Baroque and Rococo, the Romantic Movement, garden history and the musical heritage of Germany, as well as all aspects of European modern and contemporary art, architecture and history.


Mezzo-soprano Judy Brown trained at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and is a much sought-after recitalist, opera and consort singer. She works with the Monteverdi Choir under Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the Dunedin Consort, the Academy of Ancient Music and Scottish Opera. Judy has performed on stages across the world, including the Wigmore Hall and Vienna’s Musikverein, and her interpretation of Schubert lieder has been praised for its “dynamism and delicacy”.


Nicholas Wearne, MPhil, is a tutor and Junior Fellow at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. His career as a solo organist has taken him all over the world and he was winner of the Poul Ruders Prize at the 2011 Odense International Organ Competition. Nicholas has held a number of prestigious positions as organist, most recently at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square.

Tour Code

Due to the complexity of available cabins please contact the office to make a booking on 01223 841055.

Included: Return travel, accommodation based on sharing a twin cabin (main deck), breakfast, seven lunches, nine dinners with unlimited wine, beer, soft drinks, tea & coffee, shore excursions & admissions, musical performance in Vienna (subject to confirmation), gratuities.

Not Included: Travel insurance, upper deck twin cabin supplement of £250 per person, twin cabin for single use supplement of £600 for a main deck cabin or £1000 for an upper deck cabin. Further supplements available on request.

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