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Lonely Planet has named Transylvania one of the top regions to visit in 2016, and several river cruise lines are ready to bring guests to the destination, offering excursions to the city of Brasov and nearby 14th century Bran Castle.
Located in central Romania, Transylvania is known for its moody, dramatic mountains and castles and, of course, for author Bram Stoker’s fictional Count Dracula, inspired by the 15th century Romanian prince Vlad the Impaler. Vlad III, known as Draculea, had a figurative thirst for blood — he was known for impaling his enemies and for excessive brutality. His exploits were publicized far beyond his region, thanks to the then-newly-invented printing press.
Vampires are popular in modern literature and movies, and the Gothic Bran Castle — more commonly known as “Dracula’s Castle” — feeds this interest. Although there are other sites linked to Vlad III, Bran Castle, situated on the border between Transylvania and Romanian territory Wallachia, piques visitors’ interest the most. The castle, often shrouded in mist, is equipped with secret passages, picture-perfect turrets and an impressive setting.
If your clients want to add a bit of vampire lore to their European river cruise in 2016, there are several lines offering itineraries that include Transylvania.
Avalon WaterwaysAvalon Waterways’ 12-day Balkan Discovery itinerary includes three overnights in Bucharest, Romania. During their time there, passengers will enjoy an excursion to Transylvania to visit Bran Castle and the Sinaia monastery in the Carpathian Mountains, which are separated from the Alps by the Danube River. Other sites guests will visit include Kalemegdan Fortress in Belgrade, Serbia; the eclectic rock formations of Belogradchik in Bulgaria; Arbanasi, Bulgaria’s Ethnographical Museum and Church of the Nativity; Pecs, Hungary, for an organ concert; and the dramatic Iron Gates gorge on the Danube.
TauckIn its 12-day Budapest to Black Sea sailings scheduled for May through August 2016, Tauck has included an optional visit to Transylvania. During an included two-night hotel stay in Bucharest, passengers have the choice of excursions to Transylvania (and Dracula associations) at the beginning or end of the trip.
Value World ToursFrom April through October 2016, Fountain Valley, Calif.-based Value World Tours is offering a 13-night itinerary that includes a 10-night cruise from Vienna to Bucharest. The tour will visit seven countries onboard the 90-passenger Kleine Prinz, with a three-day extension option to Brasov and Bran Castle from Bucharest. All accommodations are 172-square-foot outside cabins, and there are wine tastings and 12 tours included.
Viking River CruisesOn Viking River Cruises’ 11-day Passage to Eastern Europe cruises between Budapest, Hungary, and Bucharest, guests can opt to add a three-day extension that includes two nights at Radisson Blu Hotel Bucharest and one night at Ramada Brasov (or similar hotels in the area). Passengers tour Bucharest and Transylvania — including the impressive Peles Castle, with its spires among the brooding mountains — as well as Bran Castle.