Berlin to Prague

Elbe River Cycling Cruise

Berlin to Prague 2017

Jan and I have developed an amazing NEW ITINERARY!

Fairy Tale Castles

Charming European Villages

An Itinerary thought to be Impossible

A romantic new cruise ship, smaller than all the rest

A week of phenomenal cycling connecting two Bucket List Cities

Photos & Information

Jan and I would like you and your sweetheart to indulge in a taste of this exciting itinerary.

The Elbe is one of Europe’s fabled rivers. Easily navigated and 677 miles long, the Elbe was a major medieval trading route that became lined with castles, cathedrals, and walled villages. Virtually unknown to Americans, the Elbe is a magnet for European families and CYCLISTS due to its unspoiled beauty and absence of crowds and traffic.

Why don’t Americans know about the Elbe? For nearly 50 years the Elbe was hidden behind the Iron Curtain. In the pre-internet era of tour info subsidized by governments and airlines—no one sponsored a travelogue about the Elbe. Even now, this area doesn’t have the big hotels that fuel today’s travel reviews. To put it in American terms, the Elbe is as quiet and quaint as Vermont.

The region is dotted with small villages and friendly locals who haven’t been overwhelmed by tourists. The landscape is a patchwork of fields and forests sewn together by paved lanes and small country roads. Hills enough for those who want them and smooth terrain for those who don’t. Each day’s easiest options will be a scenic cruise or a leisurely spin along the well marked bike paths tracing the Elbe.

Although the entire route is picture perfect, European travel magazines have dedicated entire feature articles to the following…

The Elbe River, a enchanting region with fairytale castles and charming villages that was locked behind the Iron Curtain for nearly 50 years. Rediscovered by European vacationers, especially cyclists, the Elbe awaits discovery by the major bike tour operators. Major cruise companies, however, have reacted quicker, and have relocated some of their older and smaller river ships from the Rhine. Please take a moment to view a short Elbe-Cruise video. In addition to scenery and attractions, this 59-second video reveals the pair of bucket list cities at each end of Santana’s newest itinerary.

When you watch the video carefully, you’ll spot the problem with other Elbe River Cruises. Although the Elbe passes through the historic centers of Dresden, Meissen and Magdeburg, their ships won’t reach the gateway cities of Berlin and Prague. Why do other cruise companies use long bus rides when Berlin and Prague are both located on major Elbe tributaries? The problem is that their recycled Rhine River cruisers are too large to navigate the Havel River into the center of Berlin, or the Vltava into the center of Prague.

Berlin to Prague… without the busses – One of Santana’s strategic partners is Croisi; Europe’s largest operator of river and coastal cruise ships. Croisi is an agile family-owned company that looks for opportunities and isn’t afraid of adapting new technologies. After spotting the need for a cruise ship that could slip in and out of Croatia’s small harbors, in 2007 they designed and launched La Belle de L’Adriatique, the world’s first ocean liner with rudderless Z-drive propulsion. Santana loves the capabilities of this ship and has chartered it for seven coastal cruises in the Mediterranean.

La Belle de L’Adriatique is Croisi’s unique solution to coastal cruising

A few years later, after surveying France’s Loire River, Croisi surprised everyone with their development of the first modern river cruiser with paddlewheel propulsion. The photo below, taken just over a year ago, shows the inaugural voyage of Croisi’s Loire Princess. With two decks instead of a modern river ship’s three, and side wheels instead of propellers, the Loire Princess draws half as much water, and became the Loire River’s first luxury cruise ship.

The Loire Princess is Croisi’s unique solution to the shallow Loire River

The holy grail of river cruising, however, has always been a challenging voyage that links the classic capitals of Berlin and Prague. Back in the ’80s Communist East Germany designed a special pair of smaller ships to cruise between the centers of these two European capitals. Although East Germany disappeared from maps 25 years ago, their rustic pair of bunk-bedded river cruisers soldier on.

When Croisi studied the Elbe, and saw that everyone else was using obsolete ships that were either too large for the Elbe’s tributaries or too small to be comfortable, Crosi designed the ship you see below. The Elbe Princesse, currently under construction, is Europe’s first genuine sternwheel river boat. That’s right, although sternwheelers have plied the Mississippi River for two hundred years, Europe’s paddleboat designers never advanced beyond the earlier side-wheel format.

Behold Croisi’s Elbe Princesse, the world’s newest and sleekest river cruiser. While any old river ship can cruise the Elbe, the Princesse is petite enough to reach the German capital on the relatively narrow Havel River. Her sternwheel propulsion also allows her to cross the border and reach the Czech Capital via the relatively shallow Vltava River. Unless you want to start or end your romantic Elbe cruise with long bus rides, Croisi’s intimately-scaled Princesse is the unique solution.

Although the artist’s renderings make the Elbe Princesse look narrow, she’s nearly as wide as a Rhine or Danube cruise ship. She is, however one story lower and nearly forty feet shorter. Whereas the vessels Santana previously chartered for European Rivers have 73-80 staterooms, this more-exclusive ship will have just 40 — all with king-width bedding (that can be separated into a pair of full-width twins) and identically large floor plans.

A charter of Croisi’s Elbe Princesse? Impossible! Why should Croisi provide a charter rate for a ship that will soon have a 5-year waiting list. With only 40 rooms per cruise and 40 cruises per year, the annual capacity of the stunningly sleek Elbe Princesse is less than the weekly capacity the average new ocean liner.

 

Santana’s gambit? As soon as we heard about their new vessel, we challenged Croisi to prove the value of our partnership. When they resisted, we reminded Croisi that we became their cycling-charter partner (10 charters to date) to provide unique experiences for Santana’s adventurous clients.

I was astounded when Croisi coughed up a first-year charter of the Elbe Princesse. Better yet, the charter rate for Europe’s newest and most exclusive river cruiser was incredibly low. How low? Low enough that Santana can provide an 8-night cycling cruise on the intimately-scaled Elbe Princesse for less than what Backroads or Trek Travel gets for a 7-night Rhine cruise on ships that are twice as large.

Berlin embark will occur on September 25, 2017. We’ll reach Prague 9 days later. If you care to spend extra days in either city, we will arrange discounted hotel stays and airport shuttles. If you don’t care to fly with your tandem or single bikes, rentals are available.

Stateroom Reservations

Berlin to Prague

Cycling Cruise on the Elbe River

September 25 – October 3, 2017

Stateroom Deposits & Booking

Full Cancellation policy appears below. Your deposit signifies an acceptance of those terms.

Stateroom Category Description Fares Status
Top Deck Spacious room with french balcony $6695* Available
Main Deck Spacious room with fixed window $5895* Available
Main Deck – Aft Same spacious room for a few bucks less $5695* Available
* Fares are set at time of booking, and are otherwise subject to change based on availability.
* Please note that the number of rooms in each category is limited and unchangeable.

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Please Note:
Stateroom Prices are per person, double occupancy
Deposits listed below are per stateroom, up to two participants
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Our comprehensive “cruise extras” fee of $350 per person covers all port fees, a long list of off-ship activities, admissions, and guides.
Your initial deposit is refundable for 14 days. Unless you cancel in writing within that 14 day period, the following Scary Cancellation Policy applies to Santana’s chartered cruise events:
Because cruise ship charters are binding, non-cancelable contracts, Jan and I will only enter into this charter based on your confirmed-with-a-deposit commitment. In effect, we undertake a huge risk by guaranteeing full payment on your behalf. After entering into this obligation, we cannot afford for you to back out, for any reason. This is the same policy that existed on all but 1 of Santana’s 21 previous cruises. While preparing for our 2009 Danube event, I neglected to include the following provision (shown below). That’s the year a group of friends, after verbally agreeing to pay in full and then stringing Jan along for many months, decided to cancel their plans. Lesson learned!
Santana’s acceptance of your registration and non-refundable deposit for this event is subsequent to your agreement to pay the remaining balance in full. While Santana allows limited refunds on Rallies and Tours, Santana’s Cruises are non-cancelable, non-transferable, and non-refundable. When the possibility of paying yet not attending is unacceptable, Jan and I recommend Travel Guard Trip Insurance. For the past 20 years hundreds of our clients have relied on Travel Guard coverage without a single complaint. An informative application is available upon request; and further information is available online.