Day 1 Brussels ( Embarkation )
Welcome to Belgium, seat of the European Union. This afternoon, board your river cruise vessel and meet your crew at an evening welcome reception. (D)
Day 2 Antwerp.
Included today: Guided sightseeing.
Antwerp is Belgium’s second largest city and was once one of the world’s most important seaports. Included sightseeing with a Local Guide introduces you to its superb architecture, the Grote Markt with its beautiful city hall completed in 1566, and the Church of Our Lady, started in 1352 and home to artworks by Rubens. An optional excursion to nearby Brussels, Belgium’s capital and home of the European Union, is available. (B, L, D)
Day 3 Ghent.
Included today: Guided sightseeing, visit St Baaf’s Cathedral.
The ‘diamond’ of Flanders, Ghent has beautifully preserved its medieval charm whilst also keeping up with the times. A Local Guide will show you the city centre, a showcase of medieval Flemish wealth and commercial success and take you into St Baaf’s Cathedral. From here, an optional excursion to Bruges, with its criss-crossed canals and charming old patrician houses, is available. (B, L, D)
Day 4 Middelburg – Veere.
Included today: Guided walk in Middelburg; excursion to the Delta Works.
This morning, a walking tour of Middelburg with a Local Expert will acquaint you with this Dutch East India Company trading city. Originally built as a stronghold to protect the population of Zeeland from the water and enemies, Middelburg became a prosperous merchant city that spent great wealth on the construction of important buildings such as its impressive Town Hall. Later, cruise to Veere and visit one of Europe’s most complex engineering projects, the Delta Works. After the flood of 1953, in which more than 1,800 people drowned in one night, the Delta Plan was developed to prevent another disaster of that magnitude. The final defence in the battle against the water is the storm flood barrier, almost six miles long and considered a technical masterpiece. (B, L, D)
Day 5 Willemstad – Kinderdijk.
Included today: Visit a windmill in Kinderdijk.
This morning, dock in Willemstad and explore this small historical town with well-preserved fortifications at your own pace. One of the oldest buildings in town is the old gatehouse at the entrance of Willemstad, and as you walk around you will notice a wide variety of building styles. The town even has its own windmill towering high above the marina and in the very centre of the seven pointed, star-shaped town, stands the Koepelkerk (Rounded Church). This afternoon, visit Kinderdijk, whose 19 windmills were built in 1740 as part of the water management system to help prevent floods. Visit a WINDMILL and learn how they played a vital role in the development of the country, becoming a symbol of Holland. (B, L, D)
Day 6 Excursion to Keukenhof Gardens (open until mid May, 2017), or guided visit to Delft (after mid May, 2017).
Enjoy a leisurely morning on board before an included excursion takes you to the gardens of KEUKENHOF near Lisseover 70 acres of parkland with lakes, sculpture gardens, greenhouses, and a windmill to explore. Every year, 7 million flower bulbs are planted, and you have the chance to see the spectacular display of colours from the tulips, daffodils, crocuses, and more. If you’re a garden enthusiast, you may opt for an extended stay in Keukenhof, going in the morning, and lunching in the gardens on your own before rejoining the ship with the rest of the guests in the later afternoon. After mid May when the Keukenhof Gardens are no longer open, a guided excursion takes you to the city of Delft. Most famous for its distinctive Delft Blue pottery, the city with its historic town centre and canals was also home to the painter Johannes Vermeer. Join your local expert for a GUIDED WALK to see the City Hall, the Old Church, and hear the story of the “Delft Explosion.” (B, L, D)
Day 7 Amsterdam.
Included today: Canal cruise.
Hollands sophisticated, modern capital has a rich and fascinating history. This delightful 700-year-old city with its elegant and classic architecture, cafs, and restaurants has a distinct ambiance. The streets, squares, and canals, not to mention the bike paths throughout the city, make for a vibrant atmosphere, and with over 60 museums, Amsterdam has the highest museum density in the world. There is no better way to see Amsterdam than by canal boat, cruising along the elegant grachten lined with stately homes dating back to Amsterdam’s ‘Golden Age’. (B, L, D)
Day 8 Amsterdam.
Disembark and transfer to the airport for your flight to the UK. (B)