Tour begins: 5:30 PM, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Upon arrival, a transfer is included from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport or Centraal Train Station directly to your Tauck riverboat. After settling into your cabin, attend a discovery briefing, then enjoy a welcome reception followed by dinner this evening aboard the riverboat.
Awaken on your riverboat today in Amsterdam - a vibrant blend of the historic and the contemporary, from its medieval core to the bustling shops, cafés and rich cosmopolitan life of a 21st-century European metropolis. After breakfast aboard ship, begin your exploration of this nearly car-free city of flower-rimmed canals, gracious gabled mansions, and people on bikes with a boat cruise through the network of 17th-century canals at the core of the old city, that offers a refreshing perspective of the Netherlands' capital city. As you'll discover, Amsterdam boasts more canals than Venice... and, as it happens, more museums per kilometer than any other European capital. One of the most famous is the matchless Rijksmuseum - filled with myriad works by the Dutch Masters, including Rembrandt's The Night Watch and Vermeer's The Milkmaid - which, after lunch aboard ship, you'll visit this afternoon with a local guide. Spend the rest of the afternoon as you please, then join us onboard this evening for a shanty choir performance, some Dutch treats and the chef's signature dinner, as the riverboat cruises to Haarlem. You'll have an opportunity to walk ashore in Haarlem with your Tauck Director tonight.
Magical Keukenhof Gardens & the Hague
Disembark the riverboat for an excursion to Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, the home of famous show gardens and millions of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, in various stages of bloom and particularly beautiful at this time of the year. A rolling carpet of color, Keukenhof is one of Europe's most iconic - and fragrant - places to witness springtime in all its glory. After lunch ashore, return to the riverboat for an afternoon of cruising. This evening, meet your local guides in Rotterdam and travel to The Hague (the royal city of Den Haag to the Dutch), for a sparkling Tauck Exclusive evening featuring dinner, live music and a tour featuring Dutch Golden Age paintings at the Mauritshuis, a renowned art museum housed in a historic 17th-century building.
Kinderdijk's windmills & Dordrecht
Arrive this morning in the Dutch village of Kinderdijk, where 19 original 18th-century windmills - preserved today as a UNESCO World Heritage Site - create an iconic polderscape that's better than any picture-postcard, which you'll enjoy on a boat cruise. There's no other place in the world besides Kinderdijk where can you see so many historic windmills together in an authentic setting. During your visit, discover how a windmill works both inside and out, and explore the quintessentially Dutch history of windmills. Alternatively, you can choose a bicycling excursion amidst the Kinderdijk windmills. Cruise on to nearby Dordrecht, a historic island city bordering no less than five rivers in the South Holland province of The Netherlands. Reflecting the definition of the Dutch word for harbor - "haven" - the city's charming harbor district preserves many historic warehouses, merchants' mansions and quays, and its role as a major port city from the 15th to 18th centuries. A walking tour reveals Dordrecht's notable architecture and monuments in its medieval inner city, as well as the surrounding ring of 19th-century buildings. Return to the ship for dinner and evening activities as you sail on to Belgium tonight.
Flemish treasures in Ghent & Bruges
This morning, your riverboat arrives in the historic port city of Ghent in Flanders, arguably Belgium's most beautiful city. Take a walking tour of Ghent's Old Town; the pedestrian-friendly cobblestoned town center feels like an outdoor museum of early Flemish architecture. Think about climbing to the top of the 14th-century belfry, crowned with a dragon, for the view - Ghent laid out before you is a visual feast of castles, churches, and historic merchants' houses. Be sure to try the local speciality, Ghent noses, a traditional raspberry candy sold at stands on the street - or a warm waffle with sugar or honey. Continue on to Bruges, known to many as "the Venice of the North," for its canals and tiny medieval streets. On your walking tour along Bruges' cobblestoned lanes, you'll feel like you've walked into a painting by Jan Van Eyck, who captured life in the city during its heyday in the 15th century. The hike up the stairs of the medieval belltower is well worth the effort; you'll be rewarded with wonderful panoramic views. Enjoy dinner onboard tonight as you sail on to Antwerp.
Antwerp & the Age of Exploration
Your riverboat arrives this morning in the major port city of Antwerp for a day in the capital of the Belgian province of Flanders. Take an orientation tour of the city and a guided walk through the city's historic center. As you stroll and hear stories and insights from your local guide, take in Grote Markt, the old market square; City Hall; the Cathedral of Our Lady; and numerous restored merchants' houses, harkening back to the days of the 16th-century Age of Exploration when Antwerp - at the time a powerful center of international commerce - was the richest city in Europe. You'll also visit the Red Star Line Museum, where interactive exhibits in the former warehouses of the Red Star Line shipping company tell the story of the more than two million immigrants from all over Europe whose long journey to a new life in North America began right here. After lunch on board, you can visit a local brewery for a tour and a tasting of authentic Belgian "bier." Return to the ship and enjoy dinner and a musical performance this evening as the riverboat cruises to Brussels.
Morning guided sightseeing today in Brussels, Belgium's capital and a key center of European trade and culture since the 13th century, begins with a city tour that takes in the Atomium, a 338-foot-tall structure resembling atoms, built for the 1958 World's Fair and winds up at Grand-Place, one of Europe's loveliest city squares, boasting a Gothic town hall surrounded by Renaissance-era guildhalls. Return to the riverboat for lunch; this afternoon, you might choose to participate in a demonstration by a local chocolatier. Then join us this evening for a farewell reception and dinner marking the end of this fabulous spring river cruise!
Disembark & Journey Home
Your river cruise ends in Brussels. Fly home anytime; all guests must disembark the riverboat by 9:00 AM. A transfer is included from the riverboat to Brussels Airport; allow 3 hours for flight check-in.