Each spring, vast fields of tulips transform the Dutch countryside into a blazing patchwork of color. Glide along the tranquil waterways of the Netherlands and Belgium aboard a Deluxe Vantage river cruise ship, with ample stops to enjoy the flower-filled culture and enhanced culinary features — as well as lessons on how to make delectable Dutch specialties.
On this journey, you’ll also visit the famous Keukenhof Gardens and go inside the working farm of a bulb grower, and you’ll witness the inner workings of the famous Dutch windmills of Kinderdijk and the mammoth Delta Works. Enjoy a boat tour of the canals that lend medieval Bruges and charming Amsterdam their unique characters. Explore the gems of Antwerp and Rotterdam on a walking tour — and by bicycle if you wish.
Back on board your indulgent river cruise ship, lectures illuminate your understanding of modern Holland, the Dutch royal family, and the nation’s windmills and waterways; a chocolate-making demonstration gives you a sweet taste of a culinary favorite; a painting lesson helps you channel your inner Vermeer; and evening entertainment lends a lively cultural soundtrack to your journey. During the afternoon, participate in a tasting of local culinary specialties and meet with locals onboard.
In all, 28 included features and Cultural Connections, with admission to many historical museums, add up to the most inclusive river cruise of its kind. Plus, small groups of no more than 20 travelers per excursion guarantee the utmost immersion in Holland and Belgium.
Board your flight to Amsterdam
Board an overnight flight to Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Or begin your trip early with a pre-trip extension in Brussels, Belgium’s sophisticated capital.
Arrive in Amsterdam
If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a representative will meet you at the airport and assist with the transfer to your ship. This afternoon, attend a Welcome Briefing.
After a Welcome Drink with the captain, you’ll enjoy dinner on board. Join us in the lounge tonight and relax to the sounds of a piano trio as your ship cruises peacefully towards Enkhuizen.
Visit a local tulip farm; enjoy an aperitif in a Dutch home
This morning, learn about life in modern Holland during an insightful onboard lecture. Then, discover the trade secrets of tulip harvesting as you visit with some local bulb growers.* In the 17th century, “Tulipmania” took hold of Holland as bulbs were traded at exorbitant prices. The bulb market crash in 1637 ended all that, but the popularity of the Dutch tulip endures, as you’ll see during this enriching tour. This afternoon, you'll be invited into a local home where you will sample a typical Dutch aperitif. This is a rare opportunity to connect with locals where they live and to exchange stories of tradition and customs with your welcoming hosts.
*If tulips are not in season, we will visit a greenhouse to see the blooms grow up close.
Your choice of illuminating museums in Arnhem
Disembark in Arnhem — the site of an Allied Forces paratrooper landing and ensuing battle, part of the famed Operation Market Garden of World War II. Choose from two museum visits here. Visit Groesbeek and the Freedom Museum 1944-1945, an interactive experience that re-creates conditions from the prewar days through the rebuilding of the Netherlands and Europe. Or explore the Kröeller-Müller Museum (closed on Mondays and holidays), which boasts an impressive collection of Van Gogh's work as well as a vast sculpture garden.
Return to the ship for lunch, then choose how you’ll spend your afternoon. Join your Concierge for a guided bike ride to lovely Zypendaal Park, or embark on a guided walking tour of Arnhem to take in the sights and World War II history, forever immortalized to celluloid in the film A Bridge Too Far. During your walk, enjoy a stop for a scrumptious cookie tasting. Later, you'll get a true feel for the local culture as you practice pronunciation during a Dutch language lesson.
Explore the architecture and culinary treats of Antwerp
Discover Antwerp, Belgium’s second-largest city and one of Europe’s “undiscovered” gems, boasting beautiful Gothic and Baroque architecture and lively cafés. On a morning walking tour, admire the impressive Antwerp Cathedral, which houses four incredible paintings by master Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) and offers services every Sunday. For an inside visit, return this afternoon during your leisure time.
Lunch is on board, followed by an afternoon at leisure to explore on your own. Back on board this evening, you're in for a real treat — a delicious Belgian chocolate-making demonstration by a local confectioner.
Your choice of tours: Explore enchanting Bruges or Ghent by foot and canal cruise
Today, choose between two unforgettable experiences in two of Belgium’s most endearing cities.
Set off for Bruges on a full-day excursion to one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval cities and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A walking tour takes you to Begijnhof area and the historic center, where you’ll see highlights such as the Church of Our Lady and Grote Markt. Next, embark on a scenic canal cruise, gliding beneath graceful bridges for different views of the city while deepening your knowledge of Bruges thanks to expert commentary. Enjoy leisure time as well as provided lunch money in the local currency to use at any of the local cafés.
Calling all beer lovers! Our next option whisks you to lively Ghent for a guided walking tour and free time to explore before embarking on a canal ride to the popular Gruut Brewery, where herbs are used instead of hops. Note the difference during a tasting and tour. Back on the ship tonight, we welcome you to attend the Captain's Gala Dinner. We also invite you to unwind in the lounge after for some more exciting onboard entertainment.
Visit the Delta Works, followed by a tour of historic Veere
Gain fascinating insight into the innovative minds of the Dutch as you visit Delta Works. One of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, this engineering marvel was designed to protect low-lying Holland from flooding. Journey next to the historic village of Veere, where you take a short walk and pause for photos along the colorful waterfront before returning to the ship for lunch. During a fascinating onboard lecture, learn about transatlantic connections forged by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. After dinner, attend an informative lecture onboard about the windmills and waterways of Holland.
Discover the UNESCO-listed Kinderdijk windmills and explore Rotterdam
This morning, marvel at Holland’s iconic Kinderdijk windmills, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. All 19 are in full working order still today. A short canal cruise provides a dramatic perspective of these graceful beauties and you’ll step inside one of them to see how it works! Alternatively, head off on a bike tour of Kinderdijk, including a delicious cheese tasting at a popular local farm shop.
We’ll return to the ship for lunch. Despite its size, it is a surprisingly intimate city, as you will discover during a walking tour. One of the city’s most dynamic structures is the bustling Market Hall, and we’ll stop here to savor a sampling of local specialties. Back on board, enjoy a Henri Willig cheese demonstration and tasting. If you prefer, you can take one of our bikes out to explore Rotterdam’s vibrant city center. You’ll find this to be one of the most bike-friendly cities in Europe. After, harness the inspiration of the serene Dutch landscapes and tap into your inner Rembrandt during a painting lesson as the ship sails to Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port.
Join us for a pub crawl this evening to sample some of Holland’s famous pale lagers, perhaps Heineken or Grolsch. Dance the evening away during tonight’s “Netherlands Night Fever” music show!
Marvel at the world-famous Keukenhof Gardens
You'll be amazed by the grandest of Dutch gardens today as you travel to Keukenhof Gardens — the world’s largest flower fields and the heart of Dutch flower production. Once the kitchen garden of a medieval castle, this stunning showcase features more than seven million tulips and a variety of other flowers in both indoor and outdoor exhibits. You’ll have leisure time to explore the gardens on your own and receive a stipend for lunch. Back on the ship this evening, share a Farewell Drink with your fellow passengers before dinner.
Amsterdam: Culture Capital
This morning, discover historic homes and Amsterdam’s timeless, fairy-tale beauty as you embark on a scenic canal cruise along the city’s 17th-century canal ring, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. After, work up an appetite with an exclusive cooking workshop at De Kookfabriek. Here, you’ll learn how to whip up your own lunch before an afternoon at leisure to explore on your own. Before dinner tonight, enjoy a lecture on the Dutch Royals in the lounge.
Disembark and transfer to the airport or begin your optional extension
Enjoy a final breakfast on the ship before disembarking and transferring to the Amsterdam airport for your return flight home. Or, head off to Paris for a 3-night extension.
Important Notice:The above day-by-day itinerary is preliminary and subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert. In addition, should there be an extreme change in water levels, Vantage will do everything possible to provide either the included excursion or an alternate excursion at Vantage’s discretion.
Please Note: Port Times & Itineraries are subject to change. Fluctuating water levels may affect itinerary.