Highlights of the Netherlands
& The Beauty of Belgium - 2016
8-days from Amsterdam to Amsterdam
A river cruise to the Netherlands and Belgium promises a picturesque journey to lands filled with history and traditions that are still alive today. You’ll experience Amsterdam’s eternal spring as you explore the acres of dancing tulips supported by a chorus of colourful flowers in the enchanting Keukenhof Gardens and cruise the intricate maze of the city’s canals. Time rewinds in quaint Dutch towns where authentic architecture still resides and traditional dress is still adorned. And your taste buds are in for a treat as you venture to the homeland of Belgian chocolates and Edam cheese, where you can taste the very original recipes at their finest.
Day 1 Arrive Amsterdam
Welcome to Amsterdam, a fascinating 700 year old city lined with picturesque canals and filled with world-class museums, theaters and cafés. On arrival, you’ll be met at the airport by an Emerald Waterways representative and transferred to your deluxe river cruise ship where a warm welcome awaits from your Captain and crew. On-board one of Europe’s newest river cruise ships, you’ll get to experience all its fantastic features, like the heated swimming pool and the evening cinema.
Tonight you’re invited to join your fellow travelers for a fabulous Welcome Dinner. Your Cruise Director will also hold a port talk to tell you all about the exciting activities you have to look forward to in the days ahead as you sail along the Rhine River. After dinner, you’re invited to take a tour of the Red Light District. Included meals: Welcome Dinner.
Day 2 Amsterdam - Keukenhof
After breakfast on-board your ship, you’ll board your coach for a short journey to Keukenhof Gardens - the most beautiful spring garden in the world and Europe’s largest. Situated in the heart of the tulip farm area of Holland, it boasts incredible displays of different flowers and plants, with more than seven million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths filling over 79 acres with color and fragrance. Entrance is included, and your local guide will explain the workings of the event and give more information on the displays which includes 30 alternating flower and plant shows; numerous works of art; and the chance to discover the latest trends in gardening from its seven inspirational gardens.
Afterwards, you’ll return to the ship for a late lunch. Once you’ve refueled, get ready for an included canal cruise around Amsterdam. You’ll then enjoy a guided walking tour passing quaint coffee shops, 16th century merchant houses and bicycles along the cobbled streets. To celebrate your first evening of sailing, you’re invited to a special Gala Dinner for you to enjoy in the comany of your fellow guests. EmeraldPlus: a visit to Keukenhof Gardens. Included excursions: a canal cruise on a glass-top boat around Amsterdam. Included meals: breakfast, lunch and Captain’s Gala Dinner.
Day 3 Antwerp
This morning we arrive In Antwerp - Belgium’s biggest port, positioned on the River Sheltz with a large harbor linking to the sea. As Belgium’s second largest city, it has been pivotal in the country’s history of occupations and conquests. Home to the famous baroque artist Pieter Paul Rubens, it attracts art lovers and diamond dealers from all over the world. Having been decimated during WWII, today the city is very modern and organized, yet still retains an intriguing medieval heart. Here, you’ll enjoy a guided walking tour of the city center through its café-filled cobbled lanes, admiring the Renaissance Town Hall and the unique Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady, the symbol of Antwerp.
You’ll also pass through the charming 16th century inner yard, the ‘Vlaeykensgang’, as well as a number of guild halls. To continue your insight into life in Antwerp, tonight you’ll enjoy a special Belgian dinner to taste the specialties of the region.
EmeraldPlus: a special Belgian dinner. Included excursions: a guided tour of Antwerp.
Included meals: breakfast, lunch and Highlight Dinner.
Day 4 Bruges
After breakfast this morning, you’ll board your coach for your included excursion to the medieval town of Bruges. The town was once home to the world’s first stock exchange in the 13th century, being a central point between the Scandinavian, British and Spanish trade ships.
Today, it’s more like something out of a fairy-tale. Your local guide will bring to life the cobbled streets of the old town as you walk along the dreamy canals and through the center’s squares with their soaring towers - including the famous 13th century Belfry, historic churches and whitewashed almshouses.
Following your guided tour, you’ll enjoy free time to shop for the delicious chocolates the region is famous for, before returning to the ship for a late lunch. This afternoon your ship will depart for Zeeland. You can relax on-board out on the Sun Deck for exceptional views of the passing scenery; in the spacious lounge; in the heated swimming pool; or in the privacy of you cabin.
Included excursions: a guided tour of Bruges.
Included meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Day 5 VEERE
Today you’ll arrive in Veere where you’ll enjoy a guided tour. In 1953, Zeeland was heavily flooded during a storm which led the Dutch government to commission the Delta Works to protect the province from the open sea by a series of dikes, sea walls and locks all the way up to Rotterdam in South Holland. And this afternoon you’ll take a tour of the outer wall of the Delta Works project, known as the Storm Surge Barrier, before watching an educational and interesting film on its construction and the floods that preceded it. Afterwards, you’ll return to the ship for lunch and enjoy an afternoon of sailing as you journey towards Arnhem.
Included excursions: a guided tour of Zeeland’s Delta Works.
Included meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Day 6 Arnhem
After a relaxing morning spent sailing through
the Dutch waterways, passing its wonderful windmills and quaint traditional villages, you’ll arrive in Arnhem.
Most famous for its great battle during World War II, its iconic bridge - the sight where the British forces were captured - has been replaced by a third almost identical bridge. The Dutch Army destroyed the first bridge when the Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940, and the second bridge was destroyed by the US Army Air Forces shortly after the 1944 battle.
Your tour with a local guide includes the main sights of the city such as the town hall, as well as the Airborne Museum Hartenstein which is dedicated to the Battle of Arnhem In 1944. The main building was the headquarters of the British command during the battle, and now houses exhibits of military uniforms and weapons.
Back on-board your ship you’ll enjoy a Farewell Dinner as you depart for Volendam.
Included excursions: a guided tour of Arnhem.
Included meals: breakfast, lunch and Farewell Dinner.
Day 7 Volendam - Hoorn
This morning you’ll join your local guide for a walking tour of Edam - a town known all over the world for its cheese. As well as cheese, Edam was made famous for its ship building, where it was once home to a total of 33 shipyards. On your walking tour, you’ll get to browse the city’s many cheese shops, authentic 17th century architecture, monuments and quiet canals - and discover the Great Church, one of the largest churches in the Netherlands. Afterwards, you’ll be taken on a guided tour of the fishing village of Volendam, where you’ll also enjoy free time exploring the small fishing port and the old center where some residents still wear traditional Dutch costume. You’ll then return to your ship for lunch as you sail towards Hoorn. In the Golden Age, Hoorn was a base for the Dutch East India Company, making it a prosperous and powerful trading town.
Today, this 13th century town is home to many listed buildings and the former Oostereiland prison. Modern architecture is carefully blended into the historical townscape, which you’ll notice on your guided walking tour.
You’ll then have free time to browse the city’s small and intimate boutiques, stylish home and interior shops, unusual gift shops, markets, unique art and plenty of lovely shops selling antiques. Included excursions: a guided walking tour of Edam, Volendam and Hoorn. Included meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Day 8 Amsterdam
Today you’ll wake up back in Amsterdam. After breakfast you’ll say your goodbyes and disembark your ship for your included transfer to the airport.