Immerse yourself in a feast for the senses as you travel through the Netherlands and Belgium. Taste rich Belgian chocolates and listen to the distinctive clanks and charms of mechanical instruments at Utrecht’s Museum Speelklok. Admire the beautiful architecture and artistry of castles that include Utrecht’s de Haar, Brussels’ Gaasbeek and Ghent’s Caste of the Counts of Flanders. Inhale the aroma of freshly pressed Belgian waffles and Dutch street fries. And feel the gentle breeze dance along your cheeks as you cruise through the Amsterdam canals as well as during your boat ride to Kinderdijk from Alblasserdam. As a diverse array of knowledgeable and gracious local guides share each destination’s unique history with you, you’ll return from this cruise having experienced the best of Holland and Belgium!
ARRIVE IN AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS – EMBARKATION. Board the ship in Amsterdam for your Best of Holland & Belgium cruise.
AMSTERDAM – UTRECHT. There are 165 canals in Amsterdam, and you’ll get enjoy some of them on your canal cruise. Later in the day, enjoy a scenic cruise through the IJsselmeer to Utrecht, the religious center of the Netherlands since the 8th century and a far-reaching city boasting a medieval old town, canals and a beautiful Gothic cathedral, some of which you may see on your walking tour, which includes a visit to the whimsical collection of automatically playing musical instruments at Museum Speelklok. Alternatively, marvel at the largest castle in Holland, De Haar. Straight out of your fairytale dreams, this castle inspires awe with its turrets, moats and suspension bridges as well as its luxurious interior.
VEERE, THE NETHERLANDS. Enjoy a scenic morning cruise through the delta before arriving in Veere, the Netherlands’ medieval harbor town. This former fishing village turned yachting town is known for its town square, where some houses boast gorgeous gardens – although the highlight is the town hall, with its 48-bell carillon! Enjoy learning more about it on your walking tour, or journey instead to the Flood Museum, where you’ll learn about the devastating floods of 1953, followed by a visit to a landmark recognizing the Roosevelt family’s relationship with the Dutch royal family. For those who prefer an active adventure, pedal from Veere, with its cobblestone streets and charming harbor, to the historic town of Middelberg and back
GHENT, BELGIUM. There are several choices of excursions in Ghent, depending on your interests. Stroll through the Capital of East Flanders, learning about its unique history on your walking tour, or pedal through the spellbinding town on a guided bike tour. Alternatively, visit Bruges, one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe, on a full-day excursion that includes the renowned Church of Our Lady, home to the beautiful Carrara marble Madonna and Child sculpture by Michelangelo. If you prefer a shorter excursion in Bruges, visit the town later in the day or spend your afternoon at Ghent’s moated Castle of the Counts, which boasts an eye-catching design as well as a ghoulishly interesting collection of medieval torture devices.
BRUSSELS. Explore Belgium’s captivating capital on your guided walking tour or pedal through Brussels on a guided bike ride. If you are a history enthusiast, spend your day traveling back in time to sites related to World War II’s historic Battle of the Bulge, which was the last major German offensive on the Western Front and toast fallen soldiers with a tasting of Trappist beer brewed by monks. For those not joining this full-day tour, choose from afternoon excursions that include a visit to Gaasbeek Castle, the most romantic castle of Flanders, which today serves as a national museum, or delight your palate with a Belgian chocolate tasting.
ANTWERP. Explore Belgium’s trendy “City of Diamonds” on a walking tour where you’ll see Antwerp’s Steen Castle, Grote Market and Brabo Fountain, along with the UNESCO-designated Cathedral of Our Lady. Active travelers may prefer instead to bike through Antwerp. Later in the day, beer enthusiasts will appreciate a tasting of the local brew while foodies may prefer our excursion to sample some of Belgium’s famous chocolates and waffles. An afternoon bike tour is also available for those who prefer to get their heart beating later in the day, and it includes an opportunity to visit the Red Star Line Museum, highlighting the historic shipping line responsible for transporting three million immigrants to America.
DORDRECHT – KINDERDIJK. Established in 1220, Holland’s oldest city was virtually destroyed by a devastating flood in the 15th century that essentially created the city’s wetlands. Learn more about Dordrecht’s fascinating history on your walking tour, or visit Rotterdam, the “Gateway to Europe,” as well as Delfshaven, where, on August 1, 1620, the Pilgrim fathers departed on their epic journey aboard the Speedwell. Stopping in Southampton, many then boarded the Mayflower and concluded their journey at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. If you prefer to venture off the beaten path, head to the smaller town of Gorinchem with its picturesque Old Town or go on an architectural bike tour through Rotterdam. Later, board a boat in the town of Alblasserdam and let the wind tousle your hair as you sail to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kinderdijk, a lovely village renowned for having the country’s greatest concentration of windmills, all dating from the 18th century. You may also pedal past the windmills from the seat of a bike.
DISEMBARKATION – DEPART AMSTERDAM. Disembark your ship and bid farewell to Amsterdam as you prepare for your return flight home.