Arrive Brussels / Embark Riverboat
Tour begins at 5:30 PM in Brussels. A transfer is included from Brussels Airport directly to your riverboat, where embarkation begins at 4:00 PM. Settle in aboard ship and then meet your fellow river cruisers this evening at a welcome cocktail reception followed by dinner.
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, cruise to Antwerp this evening.
Discover Antwerp's specialties
Antwerp is Belgium's second largest city, the capital of the province of Flanders, also known as the Low Countries, where Dutch is the official language. Go on an orientation tour of the city and take a guided walk through the historic center. As you stroll along the cobbled streets, hearing stories and insights from your local guide, discover Grote Markt, the old market square... the lavishly decorated Flemish Renaissance City Hall... 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; the 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 here at the Red Star Line headquarters in Antwerp. After lunch onboard, enjoy a brewery tour and some free time in Antwerp; sail on to Ghent.
Flemish treasures in Ghent & Bruges
Cruising through Flanders overnight, your ship arrives this morning in the historic city of Ghent, arguably Belgium's most beautiful city, for an old town walking tour; 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; have lunch in town. On your walking tour in cobblestoned, fairy tale-like Bruges, 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. Return to the riverboat for the chef's Signature Dinner tonight, as the ship charts a course for Dordrecht in the Netherlands.
Dordrecht, Kinderdijk's windmills & The Hague
Today you'll dock in 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. Have lunch aboard the riverboat; then you're off to the nearby 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. Return to the ship and sail to Rotterdam, where you'll disembark and drive 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.
Magical Keukenhof Gardens & Haarlem
After breakfast aboard the riverboat in Utrecht, go ashore 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 at Keukenhof, you'll catch up with your riverboat in Haarlem, the capital of the province of North Holland, where you can explore the city center and its historic architecture representing the 14th through 20th centuries. Enjoy dinner onboard tonight.
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 before returning to your riverboat for your final evening afloat, which includes a performance by a shanty choir (and some Dutch treats) and a farewell reception and toast, followed by dinner and more onboard musical entertainment.
Tour ends: Amsterdam. After disembarking and bidding captain and crew adieu this morning, a transfer is included from the riverboat to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport or Centraal Train Station; all guests must disembark the ship by 9:00 AM. Fly home anytime; allow 3 hours for departure flight check-in at the airport.