Waterways of Holland and Belgium


Cruise Holland and Belgium's canals and waterways as you take in their magnificent art collections, spellbinding gardens, and enchanting medieval villages.

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 Dutch landscape of tulip fields   Keukenhof Gardens.  Credit: Steve Greye  Tulips in the Keukenhof  Houses and canals of Amsterdam  A windmill in the Netherlands  Typical canal in medieval Bruges  Antwerp Cathedral, Belgium  Vermeer's <i>The Milkmaid</i> in Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum Credit: Frans Lemmens/Alamy
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Tour Details

WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

Our Smithsonian tour was amazing. It was educational, scenic and fun. All the guides were exceptional and truly gave us insight into our destination. 


Gail M.

The tour "Waterways of Holland and Belgium" was a truly wonderful, joyous experience - the places visited were interesting and often awe-inspiring; the ship was a lovely "base" and the leaders all were marvelous - and, I might add, we had a thoroughly delightful group of fellow travelers! 


Becky R.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

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SPECIAL OFFER

Save $1,000 when you book by September 10, 2015!


Join us in Holland and Belgium for nine days, cruising for seven nights aboard an exclusively chartered, deluxe M.S. Amadeus Elegant small river ship when Holland’s breathtaking tulip fields are in bloom! Meet local residents during the exclusive River Life Forum® for a personal perspective of the Low Countries’ modern life and cultural heritage. Expert-led excursions include private canal cruises in Amsterdam and Bruges, the prestigious Rijksmuseum, the world-class Kröller-Müller Museum, famous Keukenhof Gardens, Hoorn, Maastricht, and Antwerp. Brussels Pre-Cruise and Amsterdam Post-Cruise Options are offered. This comprehensive itinerary—an exceptional value—is continually praised as the ideal Holland and Belgium experience. 

Itinerary 

Day 1 — U.S.

Depart the U.S.

Day 2 — Brussels, Belgium, Ghent, Embark ship

Upon arrival in Brussels, transfer to Ghent and embark on the M.S. Amadeus Elegant. This evening, join your travel companions for the Captain’s Welcome Reception. (R, D)

Day 3 — Ghent for Bruges

Experience Ghent’s rich history and commercial heritage that are reflected in the splendid 12th- to 17th-century guildhalls lining the quay this morning. In St. Bavo’s Cathedral, see the Van Eyck brothers’ magnificent polyptych, the altarpiece of the Adoration of the Mystical Lamb.

This afternoon, visit enchanting Bruges, a UNESCO World Heritage site of treasured architecture, virtually untouched since the 15th century and one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe. It is built around a double ring of picturesque canals and connected by charming, arched footbridges. From the Market Square to the Chapel of the Holy Blood, see Bruges’ magnificent, deftly crafted stone guildhalls and opulent churches from the very best perspective—aboard your private canal cruise. (B, L, D)

Day 4 — Antwerp

Antwerp preserves its Flemish culture and charm in its Old Town. A labyrinth of small squares and narrow passages leads into the spectacular Grote Markt, where beautifully preserved guildhalls once bustled with Antwerp’s 16th-century merchants and tradesmen.

In the Cathedral of Our Lady, the pride of Belgium with a remarkable 49-bell carillon and soaring 404-foot, delicately ornamented spire, you will see the 17th-century Baroque masterpieces of the city’s native son, Peter Paul Rubens, including paintings of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, The Raising of the Cross, and The Descent from the Cross. (B, L, D)

Day 5 — Maastricht, the Netherlands

Founded by Augustus Caesar in 27 B.C., Maastricht suffered through more than 19 sieges, exchanged hands dozens of times, and was ruled by a myriad of European kingdoms and empires from the Romans to the Habsburgs before being permanently ceded to the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815. This tumultuous history is revealed in the city’s ancient streets, old city walls, medieval churches, and centuries-old fortifications, which span the full spectrum of European architectural styles. Explore this legacy during a guided walking tour highlighted by the 10th-century Church of St. Seraas; the city’s ramparts, which are still supported by the original Roman foundations; and Vrijthof Square, the historic city center. Visit the Bonnefantenmuseum on the banks of the Maas River, an incredibly distinct building designed by Italian architect Aldo Rossi and housing an impressive collection of Old Masters and contemporary art. Enjoy a guided tour of Fort St Pieter, the city’s imposing military fortification constructed in 1702. Just outside of Maastricht in Margarten, visit the Netherlands American Cemetery, one of the largest American military cemeteries in Europe, honoring allied operations in World War II. (B, L, D)

Day 6 — Nijmegen, Arnhem for Kröller-Müller Museum

This morning, visit the scenic city of Nijmegen, widely considered the oldest city in the Netherlands and settled in the first century B.C. The Valkhof Hill downtown features an impressive ninth-century Carolingian chapel overlooking the River Waal. Among the well-preserved historic buildings are the 15th-century town hall and Latin school, the 16th-century, Renaissance-style Waag (weighing hall), and a series of quaint 17th-century homes.

This afternoon, visit the Netherlands’ largest national park, the picturesque De Hoge Veluwe. The world-class Kröller-Müller Museum, located within the park, is lauded for its chronological collection of Van Gogh masterpieces, and also exhibits works by Picasso, Renoir, and Manet alongside captivating late 19th- to 21st-century sculptures by artists such as Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, and Jean Debuffet in its unique 60-acre garden. (B, L, D)

Day 7 — Kampen, Giethoorn, Hoorn

Located at the mouth of the River IJssel in the Dutch province of Overijssl, the city of Kampen was once one of the most powerful cities in the Hanseatic League. From Kampen, drive to Giethoorn, a charming 18th-century village known as the “Venice of the Netherlands” for its abundance of interlacing canals. Board a small boat for a canal tour through its serene and pastoral waterways, which is the main mode of transportation in this picturesque town. Then enjoy a walking tour through its streets filled with pleasant farmhouses, lovely windmills, and over a hundred small footbridges.

Visit Hoorn, once the Dutch East India Company’s home base. During the city tour, learn more about this major seaport, a prosperous center of trade during Holland’s Golden Age. Walk along the lively harbor and admire the Hoofdtoren, an early 16th-century tower and one of the last city defenses still standing. (B, L, D)

Day 8 — Amsterdam, Keukenhof Gardens

A brilliant and breathtaking tapestry of color and fragrance when in full bloom, the gardens of Keukenhof are deservedly known as the “Greatest Flower Show on Earth.” Our program has been planned during the height of Holland’s spectacular spring flower season, when more than seven million flowers are expected to be in bloom across this 79-acre wooded park in a dazzling display of vibrancy. “Keukenhof” translates to “kitchen courtyard” and was inspired by the early 15th-century Countess Jacoba of Bavaria, who resided in a nearby castle and tended an herb garden on this site. Today a showcase for Dutch bulb growers, Keukenhof Gardens features more than 1000 varieties of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, orchids, roses, carnations, irises, and lilies, and new strains of tulips are cultivated every year. This idyllic setting is meticulously planted and landscaped, complete with tranquil ponds, gently flowing streams, and winding, tree-shaded paths.

Engage local Dutch plaatselijke (residents) during the River Life Forum® as they share their candid perspectives on daily life in Holland. Attend the Captain’s Farwell Reception this evening. (B, L, R, D)

Day 9 — Amsterdam, U.S.

Disembark the ship and continue on the Amsterdam Post-Cruise Option or transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B)