Discover the historic UNESCO World Heritage canals of Amsterdam that offer views of centuries-old architecture, charming thatched-roof houses, monuments, and gardens. Stroll colorful gardens that dazzle with their variety and patterns in the fairytale villages of Giethoorn and Bruges. Visit Keukenhof, the world’s largest flower garden and “Floridian,” the World’s Fair of Horticulture held every ten years. As a grande finale, explore the magical city of Paris that has delighted travelers for centuries.
Day 1 - Depart for Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Arrive at the airport and check-in for your overnight flight to Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Day 2 - Arrive Amsterdam
Passengers can board our ship at 6 p.m. The friendly crew will welcome you onboard, helping you to settle into your spacious and beautifully appointed cabins. Afterward meet the entire crew with a festive welcome cocktail and a delicious dinner on board the vessel. Dining and cruising is a true pleasure as we tour Amsterdam’s famous canals—the most authentic way to see the city and take in its historic sites. The canals are especially beautiful at night when the city lights glimmer in the water reflecting this enchanting city. (D)
Day 3 - Amsterdam - Huizen
This morning’s tour will take us through Amsterdam on a tourist tramway to the Jordaan district. From its romantic canals to its world-renowned museums, Amsterdam never ceases to entertain. On our old-fashioned tram journey we will stop at Westerkerk—the biggest church in Amsterdam—regarded by many as the city symbol. From there we will stroll the upscale Jordaan district, brimming with galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and street cafés. The Anne Frank House Museum is located close by. She is the young girl whose diaries tell the poignant tale of life under the Nazis.
We’ll begin our cruise to Huizen this afternoon. Take part in our onboard lecture, Holland, Land of Water for a better understanding of Dutch culture and how it relates to water.
Arriving in the city of Huizen, you will have time to explore this hidden gem on your own. Located on a large lake, Huizen evolved into a posh town thanks to its mansions and the arrival of wealthy Amsterdanners after WWII. Don’t miss exploring its’ picturesque harbor with shops, restaurants, and bars. You can go sailing, rent a bike, or take scenic walk along the shoreline. Back on the vessel, enjoy dinner and an evening of entertainment. (B,L,D)
Day 4 - Huizen - The FLORIADE - Lemmer
Spend the day at the FLORIADE 2022 EXPO
Held once every ten years, the city of Almere is hosting Floriade, a six-month International Horticultural Exhibition beginning on April 14, 2022 whose theme is “Growing Green Cities.” It is known as “the World’s Fair of Horticulture” and is perfect for nature lovers and the sustainability inclined. Experience a dazzling Technicolor tapestry of 148 acres of land featuring 40 presentations by different countries, an amazing greenhouse complex, and even a real aerial cableway that will transport you across the park. If you want to see flowers, plants, vegetables, and fruits in park-like surroundings this expo should not be missed. The Arboretum has an alphabetically organized tree and plant encyclopedia that you can walk through in addition to a myriad number of symposiums, workshops, and cultural performances featuring live music, art, and dance. We’ll return on board the ship in Almere or Lelystad and begin our cruise to Lemmer. (B,L,D)
Day 5 - Lemmer - Urk or Kampen
This morning, join us for a tour of Giethoorn, the prettiest village in the Netherlands known as the Venice of the North. This idyllic, mostly car-free village is surrounded by a network of calm canals and bridges lined with weeping willow trees and quaint thatched houses with manicured gardens and bright green lawns. In the heart of the old village there are no cars, water is the pavement and is living proof of the importance of water in the daily lives of the people of the Netherlands. On our boat ride on these meandering canals, you will marvel at how the landscape is just as beautiful as in a fairy-tale.
On our afternoon excursion our first stop will be the former island of Schokland that has been occupied and abandoned over the centuries because of the encroaching sea in the struggle against nature This World Heritage Site has vestiges of human habitation dating to 4500 BC when it was still part of the mainland. Our visit to the Schokland Museum, built on a manmade mound unlocks the secrets and beautiful treasures of this unusual landscape.
Our next stop is the charming fishing village of Urk, which sits on the banks of the Ijsselmeer. Enjoy a stroll through the old lanes (‘ginkies’) of this quaint town to discover its monuments, museum, fish market, and lighthouse.
We’ll return on board in Urk or Kampen and cruise the Ijsselmeer to the Markermeer. The Ijsselmeer is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Holland. In 1932, the newly built Afsluitdijk closed off the saltwater Zuiderzee effectively causing the inlet to change over the years into the freshwater lake we see now. (B,L,D)
Day 6 - Amsterdam
This morning’s excursion is dedicated to Haarlem and the Dutch flower auction in Aalsmeer. We’ll leave very early in the morning for the largest flower auction in the world. More than 20 million flowers and plants are sold every day to buyers from all over the world. The flowers are not only from the Netherlands, though, as over 50 different countries also participate. Bidding is fast, and over 100,000 transactions are finalized per day. After our visit, we’ll head over to Haarlem. Haarlem is just as charming as Amsterdam, and just as jam-packed with history. The city’s medieval feel, narrow streets, and small shops give the city a great ambiance.
This afternoon, we drive through scenic countryside to Keukenhof Gardens, known as the world’s largest flower garden. Nothing prepares you for the glorious carpet of colors created by more than seven million flowers and 800 varieties of daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, and more arranged in rows, swirls, and in a breathtaking number of shapes. Our tour will immerse you in a magical landscape of beautiful gardens set amid lakes, trees, pavilions and water features sure to inspire nature lovers and gardeners.
If the park is not open during your cruise, join us for an optional visit to Volendam, famous for its traditional smoked eel, and Zaanse Schans, an open-air museum with over one hundred typical wooden houses, windmills, and traditional warehouses. Enjoy a free evening to explore Amsterdam on your own. (B,L,D)
Day 7 - Amsterdam - Bruges, Belgium
Enjoy breakfast on board this morning before disembarking at 9:00 a.m. Then, we make our way to the beautiful city of Bruges whose meandering canals are on the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Upon arrival, we check in to our hotel. After some downtime, we get together for dinner. (B,D)
Day 8 - Bruges
The fairytale city of Bruges touted, as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities almost seems untouched by the modern world. It is a picture perfect time capsule that will make you feel like you have entered the Middle Ages. The Old Town of Bruges is a cluster of serene canals, narrow cobblestone streets, colorful gabled houses with flower boxes, beautiful churches, and a wide variety of shops selling artisan goods including chocolate, that is legendary here. It is fun to sit in Market Square and watch the action after you climb the soaring Belfry whose 47 bells chime to create an idyllic ambience. There are two churches not to miss, the Basilica of the Holy Blood, home to a venerated relic – a phial of Jesus’s blood brought back from the Crusades, and the Church of Our Lady where you will see Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child in white Carrara marble. (B)
Day 9 - Bruges - Paris, France
Today, we say goodbye to Bruges and make our way to the capital of France – Paris – the City of Light that has something to offer everyone, no matter what you are looking for. After our orientation tour of Paris, you have free time to see the city on your own. This is the grand finale with a sightseeing list that is endless - Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, Champs Élysées, Sacré-Coeur, Eiffel Tower, Musée d’Orsay and much, much more. For shopper’s head to the Galleries Lafayette, the Rue de Rivoli, an upscale arcade, wander the Left Bank or head to Montmartre, the home of artists and street entertainers. Paris awaits, it is vibrant and offers inexhaustible opportunities for fun.
Tonight we get together for a farewell dinner with the chance to reflect on the fascinating places you have discovered on this trip and to share them with the new friends you have made. (B,D)
Day 10 - Depart Paris
Say au-revoir to Paris as we transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B)