In the Netherlands, flowers are a way of life... You’ll see flower boxes abloom with tulips and an array of colorful potted plants in villages and towns all over Holland. Gardens grace the landscapes everywhere you look, paying homage to an economy which is largely horticultural based...
Everywhere you look, a kaleidoscope of colorful images... on walking tours and bicycle rides... in the seasonal pageantry of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths abloom in Keukenhof Gardens... in Kinderdijk windmills and coastal villages steeped in cultural treasures... at a Tauck Exclusive dinner in a palace museum rich with Old Dutch art masterpieces... in gabled houses dressed in maritime lore along Amsterdam’s tree-lined canals... on walking tours of cobblestoned Ghent and the fairy tale streets of Bruges... during discoveries about immigrant voyages and local brew in Antwerp and sculpted monuments and chocolate in Belgium...
Arrive Brussels / Embark Riverboat
Tour begins: 5:30 PM, 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. Later, you'll have a choice between a visit to the Red Star Line Museum – whose 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 in Antwerp. Or join us for a tour and tasting at a local brewery. After lunch aboard ship, you'll have some free time to explore more of Antwerp before the riverboat sets off for Ghent this evening.
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 showcasing Dutch Golden Age paintings at the Mauritshuis, a renowned art museum housed in a historic 17th-century building.
Magical Keukenhof Gardens
Wake up in Utrecht this morning for a flower-filled visit to Keukenhof Gardens in nearby Lisse, where you will discover “the most beautiful spring garden in the world.” A rolling carpet of color, Keukenhof is one of Europe’s most iconic – and fragrant – places to witness springtime in all its glory. For eight springtime weeks every year, more than seven million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths blanket the 80-acre landscape with color and fragrance unequaled anywhere. Spend the morning here and have lunch. Cruise on to Amsterdam later this evening.
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 canal 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.