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  • Enjoy twelve days River Cruise vacation
  • Insightful and informative port tour
  • Land tours and shipboard programs

Bookended by stays in Berlin, Germany’s capital and the second-largest urban area in Europe, and Prague, the capital of Czech Republic, our Essence of the Elbe River Cruise tour is punctuated by memorable stays in Western Europe’s riverside gems. Spend two nights in Berlin, with time to explore this historic city on your own and on an included tour. Along the Elbe, you'll enjoy a day in Torgau, where a local resident discusses the significance of U.S. and Soviet troops meeting during the German invasion (an exclusive Discovery Series event) and witness one of the largest treasure collections in Europe at the Royal Palace's Historic Green Vault in Dresden. You'll also visit the Wittenberg church where Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses … witness Dresden’s stunning renewal—still in progress since the end of World War II … sail through the dramatic sandstone mountains to Swiss Saxony … and round out your trip with two nights in Prague, featuring an included city tour. You can also enhance your European River Cruise exploration with our optional extensions to Hamburg, Germany; Warsaw & Krakow, Poland; and Munich, Germany.

Flights & Transport
  • Only ground transport
Rivers & Seas
  • Elbe River
Ship Name
  • M/S River Allegro

Grand Circle Cruise Line Travel Reviews & Ratings
31% Recommend

2.4 out of 5
Excellent 5 Great 0 Average 0 Disappointing 3 Terrible 8
2.4 Guide
2.4 Activities
2.4 Lodging
2.4 Transportation
2.4 Meals
Stride Take

Grand Circle, which caters to passengers age 50 and up, offers this Elbe cruise for as low as just $167 per person, per day. The German cities of Wittenberg, Meissen and Dresden are among ten port stops, with tours included. Grand Circle touts its low-cost single supplements, too, as well as airfare discounts for early bookers (late May of each year for the following year).

Essence of the Elbe: Berlin to Prague

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The most amazing river trip in Europe January 2017

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Traveling from Belgium through 6 countries to Switzerland is one of the most amazing travel experiences in Europe, especially if traveling with Grand Circle Travel. The ship's crew and staff are the most professional and personable folks that I've ever had the fortune to travel with. Not only have I traveled European rivers with these folks once, but have done so several times. For a single traveler, traveling with Grand Circle is a great bargain, as there is very seldom an extra charge for traveling solo and if their is, the price is very modest. You can't go wrong with these folks.
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Operator Grand Circle Cruise Line


Does Not Recommend

Grand Circle had made a mistake in purchasing our Adria Airlines tickets January 2017

  • Value 2.0
  • Guide 2.0
  • Activities 2.0
  • Lodging 2.0
  • Transportation 2.0
  • Meals 2.0
I just returned from a small ships cruise of Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina yesterday. We also took a post trip to Slovenia. My husband and I actually enjoyed the cruise and appreciated our program director Danijela. The post trip was a bit of a disappointment for several reasons although we discovered Slovenia is a beautiful country. Our greatest issue is with the air reservations which we purchased through Grand Circle. When we arrived at the Slovenian airport to begin our international flights to return home, we discovered Grand Circle had made a mistake in purchasing our Adria Airlines tickets connecting to Amsterdam and KLM to San Francisco.
They purchased Adria tickets which did not include the cost of baggage! Zero checked bags. Even though they tell you that one bag is included in the cost of the trip per person; even though the bags had been brought on the trip and included in the flights to Croatia; and even though all of the other 12 fellow travelers from the tour had their baggage included in the cost of the air tickets purchased through Grand Circle. We almost missed our flight dealing with the rude Adria Airlines personnel and had to pay for our bags before we were allowed to board the plane. This morning, Grand Circle said it isn't their problem that they purchased our tickets with zero checked baggage allowance and refused to refund the cost of the baggage fee. So, beware!! This could happen to you. Especially at a small airport with no Grand Circle representative present and Grand Circle transportation to the airport getting you there just one hour prior to departure. And, importantly, you may just suffer the same rude response I got when attempting to rectify the situation. Grand Circle customer service is a myth and not only do they not stand behind their performance, they are deceitful in their descriptions of what is included in their pricing. Imagine buying an air ticket with zero baggage included for participants in a cruise. Come on, Grand Circle. Admit your mistake and reimburse.
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Operator Grand Circle Cruise Line



Amazing time! January 2017

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
My entire family just wrapped up a 12 day trip, "Christmas Markets on the Rhine", and we had an amazing time! My grandparents are Inner Circle members, but this was the first time for the other 7 of us. The ship - MS River Rhapsody - was clean and very comfortable to stay on, the crew was absolutely phenomenal, and the program directors were very friendly and knowledgeable about the places we were visiting. The morning walking tours were something I really enjoyed, since they gave us a personal introduction to each city. I have zero complaints and will look into taking another trip with Grand Circle in the future :)
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Operator Grand Circle Cruise Line


Does Not Recommend

I may look Elsewhere going forward. November 2016

  • Value 1.0
  • Guide 1.0
  • Activities 1.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
I get the brochures and e mail deals. Last two times I call immediately. The can't fine the deal. Thy send out the low price offers then Grand Circle deal arrived yesterday Thanksgiving to my e-mail. Called last night and today and throughout the day. Got an answer after 3 pm. Couldn't get the advertised rate to Paris /Normandy for 13 days. Second time now I tried. Last was English /Scotland and Ireland. We found a deal elsewhere . Anyone else feel they bait and switch at Garand Circle? It was $1000 more than the deal in the E mail and I had no date limitations . I may look Elsewhere going forward.
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Operator Grand Circle Cruise Line



Have friends who use this cruise line annually and can't sing their praises enough. November 2016

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Have friends who use this cruise line annually and can't sing their praises enough.
They gifted me a $100 Credit towards mine. Anyone who travels with Grand Circle will receive the same credit as I am now a member.
So if you plan to travel, Please let me know and I'll be glad to share with you.
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Operator Grand Circle Cruise Line


Day 1: Arrive Berlin, Germany

Meals: Dinner

Accommodations: Maritim Hotel Berlin or similar

View the Brandenburg Gate while touring Berlin

Depending on your departure city, you will arrive either this morning or afternoon. A Grand Circle representative will meet you at the airport and assist you to the hotel, where you'll enjoy an introduction to the lively surrounding neighborhood during a vicinity walk with your Program Director.

Meet your fellow Grand Circle travelers—including those joining us after their pre-trip extensions to Hamburg, Germany—for dinner in a local restaurant this evening.

Day 2: Berlin

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodations: Maritim Hotel Berlin or similar

See Checkpoint Charlie while exploring Berlin

This morning, after an included breakfast at your hotel, it's time to set out on your first full day of discovery with an included city tour of Berlin.

The second-largest urban area in Europe, Berlin is an enormous city, but most of its most iconic sites are relatively close together. Divided at the end of World War II, blockaded by the Soviets during the Cold War, riven by a cruel grey wall, and finally delivered by the sledgehammers of freedom fighters, Berlin is once again a united city. The city's lakes and forests provide bucolic retreats in an urban setting, while the city's divided history has led to a truly unique collection of architectural styles. If you find yourself in the old Soviet sector of the city, keep your eyes open for extant Ampelmannchen, the “little traffic light man” who adorned East German traffic lights. The Reichstag, site of the final defense of the Third Reich, was rebuilt after World War II and now features an enormous glass dome, emphasizing the transparency and openness of the new Germany. Like so much of Berlin, the future and past are inextricably mixed.

After lunch on your own, use your new-found knowledge of Berlin to explore the city during an afternoon at leisure.

Tonight, enjoy dinner on your own.

Day 3: Berlin

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodations: Maritim Hotel Berlin or similar

After breakfast this morning, you'll be presented with an included city pass for public transportation around Berlin. With an entire day of independent exploration ahead of you, Germany's iconic capital is yours to discover. Perhaps you will visit historic sites such as Checkpoint Charlie, which was once the main gateway for Allies, non-Germans, and diplomats between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. Or you could stroll through Gendarmenmarkt, the city's most elegant square, which is graced by a pair of domed 18th-century German and French cathedrals.

Lunch and dinner today will be on your own.

Day 4: Berlin • Potsdam • Cecilienhof Palace tour • Magdeburg • Embark ship

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

After breakfast this morning, you'll transfer to Potsdam, where you'll enjoy a guided tour of Cecilienhof Palace—which is part of the Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin UNESCO World Heritage Site. Originally the last palace built by the Hohenzollern dynasty, and constructed between 1914 and 1917 for Crown Prince Wilhelm and his wife Cecilie von Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Cecilienhof is now a museum, as well as a hotel. It was here that Winston Churchill, Josif Stalin, and Harry Truman hammered out the details of the German surrender in World War II.

After lunch, you'll transfer to Magdeburg, where you'll board your private ship to begin your river cruise.

This evening, gather for a Captain's Welcome Drink and crew introduction, followed by a Captain's Welcome Dinner.

Day 5: Wittenberg • Woerlitz • Woerlitz Park

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

While you sail this morning, enjoy an exclusive Discovery Series event—a German language lesson. The words and phrases you'll learn will help you to better connect with the local people you'll encounter.

After lunch, you will disembark in Wittenberg and transfer overland to the charming town of Woerlitz. With a history dating back approximately 1,000 years, Woerlitz made its mark in the second half of the eighteenth century when it became home to Woerlitz Park, one of the first and largest English-style gardens in continental Europe. Also known as the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Woerlitz, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has always been open to the public—and you’ll experience it today on an included tour.

You'll return to the ship this evening for dinner and settle in as you sail to your next destination.

Day 6: Wittenberg • Home-Hosted Kaffeeklatsch

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Discover the twelfth century city of Wittenberg

This morning, enjoy an included tour of the twelfth-century city of Wittenberg. Officially known as Lutherstadt Wittenberg, the cradle of the Protestant Reformation is best known as the town where Martin Luther lived, preached, and began his philosophical dispute with the Catholic Church. You'll see Wittenberg's oldest surviving structure—the twin-towered Stadtkirche (“Town Church”) and visit the most important landmarks in the history of Protestantism, including the Augustinian Monastery where Martin Luther first became a Catholic priest and later lived with his family following his excommunication.

Your tour will also take you to the All Saints' Schlosskirche (“Castle Church”) where the theologian first posted his 95 Theses criticizing the Catholic Church's practice of selling “indulgences” (Pope-sanctioned absolution for any sin). As an academic who taught theology at the University of Wittenberg, Luther challenged local church authorities to a theological debate—but the Bishop never responded. By the time Luther's 95 Theses reached Rome, the document had been seen all over Europe. Due to his continuing theological criticism of the papacy, Luther was officially declared a heretic and effectively sentenced to death. He escaped arrest and returned to Wittenberg in secret, where he developed the tenets of Lutheranism. The Church never got its vengeance—30 years after writing 95 Theses, Luther died of natural causes. He had successfully started a new denomination of Christianity and inspired others around Europe to do the same.

You'll have the remainder of the morning to follow your own agenda before returning to the ship for lunch.

Early this afternoon, you'll join a local family in their home for a special Home-Hosted Kaffeeklatsch—featuring an enjoyable taste of German hospitality and culture over coffee and cake.

Afterwards, you'll re-embark your river ship and enjoy dinner onboard.

Day 7: Wittenberg • Torgau

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Explore the town center of Torgaue

After a morning of sailing and lunch aboard your ship, you'll disembark in Torgau, where you'll discover this port on an included tour. You'll visit the town center—restored since the German reunification—and see the town hall built in Renaissance style. You'll also witness the monument along the Elbe that was built in honor of the meeting between U.S. and Soviet soldiers during the invasion on April 25, 1945—coined "Elbe Day," in honor of the monumental event. The meeting of soldiers signified an important action towards the end of World War II, with the allied powers avowing to complete the dissolution of the Third Reich.

Enjoy some time on your own to further explore Torgau before returning to your ship.

Day 8: Meissen • Porcelain factory • Optional Royal Vineyard tour • Dresden

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

View the famous porcelain produced in Meissen

Today, you'll step ashore at Meissen for a walking tour—encompassing its historic market square, Renaissance architecture, and Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche)—of this ancient town straddling both banks of the river.

While it's often called the “cradle of Saxony,” Meissen is internationally known for the high-end porcelain of the same name, which has been produced there for more than 300 years. During your tour, you'll pay a visit to the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory—Europe's first and oldest continuously running porcelain maker—to learn about its five-stage production process.

Johann Friedrich Bottger, a purported alchemist who had been unable to create gold for Augustus II, may have saved his own life when he presented the porcelain recipe in 1709. Though it's unlikely that Bottger devised the recipe himself, it was regarded as “white gold” by the monarch, who opened the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory. Prior to this, all porcelain in Europe was imported from China. They began with simple tableware and quickly expanded into a range of exquisitely hand-painted products, ranging from figures to clocks.

Spend the rest of the day exploring Meissen at your own pace, or join us for an optional tour of the Royal Vineyard at Proschwitz Castle, an 800-year-old vineyard and winery still in production today. Visit the picturesque vineyard, then enjoy a tasting in the castle's historic wine cellar.

Day 9: Dresden • Walking tour

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Discover the remarkable city of Dresden

Today, immerse yourself in the remarkable city of Dresden. A flourishing artistic center until the rise of the Nazis, it was completely destroyed during World War II. Writer Kurt Vonnegut, himself a survivor of the controversial air raids that leveled the Baroque city, chronicled the events in Slaughterhouse-Five. Dresden has since risen from the ashes and been rebuilt from the ground up—reclaiming its place as one of Germany's intellectual and cultural hubs. You'll begin with an included tour past the city's historic sights, including the Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche), Dresden Castle (Residenzschloss), the spectacular 18th-century Baroque Zwinger Palace, and the Semper Opera House—set in a large, public square along the banks of the Elbe. After taking in Dresden's spectacular architectural treasures, you'll hear a firsthand account from a local who survived the air raids—and witnessed the city's incredible renewal.

After lunch onboard, you'll enjoy free time to relax or explore more of Dresden at your own pace. Perhaps you'll delve further into some of the sites from the morning's tour, taking in the impressive 17th-century art collection at Zwinger Palace; or touring the Semper Opera House, which was first destroyed by a fire in 1869 and then again during Allied bombing in 1945, and has been meticulously restored for the second time.

Day 10: Bad Schandau • Bastei • Swiss Saxony • Dresden

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Discover the scenic view from atop the Bastei sandstone bridge

This morning, you'll disembark in the spa town of Bad Schandau and transfer by motorcoach to the highlight of this region: the Bastei. Millions of years ago, these rocks were at the bottom of the sea and the evident water erosion still evokes the memory of an undersea wonderland. The Elbe Sandstone Mountains attract rock climbers from far and wide with their enticing 1,100 free-standing peaks. The Bastei sandstone bridge high above the green valley connects the series of rock promontories and overlooks the Elbe—an incredible vista from this perspective. The impossibly smooth cliffs and castle-like detailing of the bridge are straight out of a medieval fairy tale.

You'll then return to your ship to set off to enjoy scenic sailing through one of the Elbe River's most beautiful regions—Swiss Saxony—accompanied by enlightening commentary from your Program Director. For panoramic views of the dramatic Elbe Sandstone Mountains, find a seat on the ship's Sun Deck.

After enjoying an included lunch, you'll return to Dresden, where you'll enjoy free time to bid auf Wiedersehen to your favorite sites.

This evening, your final night onboard, join your fellow travelers in the ship's lounge for the Captain's Farewell Drink, followed by a Captain's Farewell Dinner.

Day 11: Dresden • Litomerice, Czech Republic • Prague

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodations: Park Inn Prague

You'll dismbark this morning in Dresden and then drive to Litomerice, set at the confluence of the Elbe and Ohre rivers in the Czech Republic. Here, you'll enjoy an informative stroll and an authentic included lunch.

This afternoon you'll transfer to Prague, and upon arriving at the hotel, you'll join your Program Director for a relaxing walk in the vicinity. This evening, enjoy dinner on your own.

Day 12: Prague • Optional Jewish Prague tour • Farewell Drink & Dinner

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodations: Park Inn Prague

View the Charles Bridge while exploring Prague

Prague's regal beauty spreads on both sides of the winding Vltava River, connected by 16 picturesque bridges. Like Rome and San Francisco, the city is built over a series of hills and its varied architecture spans many centuries. This morning, begin your exploration of Prague, “City of 100 Spires,” with a visit to the Charles Bridge, which has spanned the Vltava River since the 15th century.

Then continue to Prague's historic city center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the highlights of your guided walking tour is the Old Town Square, home to the city's famous, medieval Astronomical Clock—or Orloj—parts of which date back to the early 15th century. Every hour, crowds assemble below to watch Christ and the twelve apostles appear at two little windows above the clock face, followed by the skeleton of Death tolling the bell.

Following lunch on your own, join this afternoon's optional Jewish Prague tour of the city's storied Jewish district, including visits to several local synagogues and the Old Jewish Cemetery.

Or enjoy the remainder of the day relaxing or exploring independently. As you'll discover, Prague boasts many landmarks worth seeing. Perhaps you'll visit Stare Mesto, the Old Town, with its many wonderful Gothic and Baroque buildings. Or explore St. George's Basilica, with its tenth-century towers, or enjoy a stroll through the elegant Prague Castle Gardens—home to an impressive collection of marble monuments.

On this final night of your trip, join your fellow travelers—and new friends—for a Farewell Dinner.

Day 13: Return to U.S. or begin post-trip extension

Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast, you will be assisted to the airport for your flight home. Or, begin your post-trip extension to either Munich, Germany, or the Highlights of Poland: Warsaw & Krakow.

Dates & Pricing

Price From

$ 2,095

Price Per Day:

$ 161 per person
  • Deposit Price: $ 500
  • Single Supplement (Single Occupancy): $ 645
Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.
Ship Name

M/S River Allegro

Ship Description

M/S River Allegro

The M/S River Allegro was ranked #3 in Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 40 River Cruise Ships in the World” 2014 Readers’ Poll.

While aboard, you’ll enjoy leisure time in the bar and lounge, library, and Sun Deck. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available in select common areas. Wireless Internet access is not available in cabins and connectivity is limited in certain locations on River Cruise itineraries. Your cabin features a flat-screen TV, radio, direct-dial telephone, individual heating and air-conditioning controls, twin beds that convert to sofas, and private bath with shower and hair dryer.

Trip Includes
  •  29 meals, including Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Receptions and Dinners: 12 breakfasts, 8 lunches, and 9 dinners (and beverages—including beer, wine, and soft drinks—during all onboard lunches and dinners)
  • 9 exclusive, included tours with personal headsets: Berlin • Potsdam & Cecilienhof Palace • Woerlitz Park • Wittenberg • Torgau • Meissen • Dresden • Litomerice • Prague
  • Exclusive Discovery Series events: German lesson • Home-Hosted Kaffeeklatsch • Meissen Porcelain Factory visit • Bastei visit
  • Airport transfers upon arrival and departure with the purchase of Grand Circle's airfare
  • All port charges—a value of $125 per person
  • Gratuities for local guides and motorcoach drivers on your main trip
  • Baggage handling for 1 piece of luggage per person, including tips
  • 5% Frequent Traveler Credit toward your next Grand Circle trip—an average of $258
Trip Excludes
  • Airfare
Optional Activities


Pre-trip: Hamburg, Germany

3 nights from only $645

Post-trip: Highlights of Poland: Warsaw & Krakow

5 nights from only $995

Post-trip: Munich, Germany

3 nights from only $695

Optional Tours:

Royal Vineyard - Day 9 $80 per person

Jewish Prague - Day 13 $80 per person

Meals Included:

12 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches and 9 Dinners

Flights & Transport
Only ground transport
Group Size:
Standard Group

Maritim Hotel Berlin

Berlin, Germany | Rating: Superior First Class

Built in 2005, the Superior First-Class Hotel Maritim Berlin is located just steps from the famed Tiergarten in the heart of the city. Hotel amenities include two restaurants and a bar, as well as a pool, sauna, spa, fitness center, and dry cleaning and laundry service. Your air-conditioned room features satellite T.V., wireless Internet, a minibar, safe, telephone, and private bath with hair dryer.

Park Inn Prague

Prague, Czech Republic | Rating: Superior First Class

Nestled between medieval buildings, the Superior First-Class Park Inn Prague is located just a short walk from the Vltava River and local, historic sites. The updated Art Deco hotel is also convenient to public transportation and features an on-site bar, restaurant, and gym. Your air-conditioned room includes a flat-screen TV with satellite cable, minibar, Internet access, safe, and private bath with hair dryer.

Ship:M/S River Allegro

Start City
End City
Cancellation Policy:

Cancellation charges will be calculated as of the date we receive your cancellation. Cancellation charges and refunds shall be calculated in accordance with the terms of this Passenger Agreement. If you are due a refund, you first must return your air tickets and, if applicable, cruise tickets to Operator. Any applicable refunds will be returned to you in the manner in which payment was made, and processed within 30 days of receipt of your cancellation.

b) Processing Fee: All cancellations made later than twenty-one days after booking are subject to a non-refundable fee of $300 and additional cancellation charges per the schedule below. Cancellations made within 21 days after booking will be subject to the same fee, unless the reason for canceling given at the time of cancellation is your rejection of these Terms and Conditions prior to acceptance. This $300 fee reflects only Operator's costs of administering a reservation.

c) Cancellation Charges Generally: Unless otherwise stated next to the program’s rate chart, you will receive a refund equal to your Trip Price less the following per-person charges. Charges shown include the $300 administrative fee.

i. Cancellation Charges for Land Tours:

If Prior to departure is 90 days or more, then charge is $300

If Prior to departure 89-60 days, then charge is 10% of selling price or $300—whichever is greater

If Prior to departure is 59-30 days, then charge is 65% of selling price

If Prior to departure is 29 days–departure, then charge is 100% of selling price

ii. Cancellation Charges for River Cruises and Small Ships:

If Prior to departure is  121 days or more, then charge is $300

If Prior to departure is 120-90 days, then charge is 10% of selling price or $300—whichever is greater

If Prior to departure is  89-60 days, then charge is 40% of selling price

If Prior to departure is  59-30 days, then charge is 65% of selling price

If Prior to departure is  29 days–departure, then charge is 100% of selling price

iii. Cancellation Charges for Last Minute Bookings: Last Minute Bookings are defined as any booking at or inside 45 days prior to departure. Space is limited and all arrangements—cabin selection, hotel rooms, air carriers and routing, etc.—are subject to availability. Flights are contingent on confirmation by the airline(s); additional fees from the airline(s) may apply. If flights can be confirmed without additional fees from the airline(s), you are subject to the standard cancellation charges for your trip. If flights incur additional fees from the airline(s), you will be offered the choice of either paying the additional fees or cancelling your reservation for a full refund of your Trip Price plus any cost you paid for the Travel Protection Plan. If flights cannot be confirmed, you will be offered an alternative departure date or trip. If we are not able to agree upon a suitable alternative, you will be entitled to cancel your reservation and receive a full refund of your Trip Price plus any cost you paid for the Travel Protection Plan.

d) If you are a no-show, if you cancel your trip after the departure date, or if you leave a trip already in progress, you will not receive any refund for any unused portion of your trip.

e) If you reserved a double room and are sharing with a friend or family member, and that person cancels prior to departure, you may be subject to additional single supplement and travel protection fees.

Trip ID#: EssElbGra


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