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TAUCK RIVER CRUISES
10 Days | Holland and Belgium in the Spring
Southbound


AMSTERDAM TO BRUSSELS

Day 1 | Amsterdam, Holland. Embark. This most memorable of Belgium and Holland cruises begins at 4:00 PM in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Upon arrival, a transfer is included from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport or Central Train Station to the riverboat. After settling into your cabin, attend a discovery briefing followed by dinner this evening aboard the riverboat. (D)

Day 2 | Amsterdam. Wake up aboard your riverboat in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam, a vibrant blend of the historic and the contemporary, from its medieval core to the bustling shops, cafés and rich cosmopolitan life of a 21st-century European metropolis. Enjoy coffee and cake during a private canal cruise through Amsterdam’s network of centuries-old waterways dating back to the Renaissance era, then admire masterpieces by Rembrandt (including The Night Watch) and works by more of the Old Dutch Masters, along with a wealth of silver, Delftware and other treasures at the world-renowned Rijksmuseum. After lunch on the riverboat, depart the city this afternoon for a journey to Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, where millions of blooming tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, lillies, crocuses and bluebells create colorful carpets of flowers every spring. Your riverboat sets out for Hoorn this evening; attend the Captain's welcome reception and dinner tonight. (B,L,D)

Day 3 | Hoorn or cheese and windmills in Alkmaar. Enkhuizen. Start your day in the 650-year-old port city of Hoorn in the Netherlands’ farming region – birthplace of explorer Willem Schouten, who named South America’s southern tip Cape Horn in honor of his hometown. Choose from a guided walking tour of Hoorn and its many intact 16th- and 17th-century house facades, or a journey to Alkmaar in the Schermer polder. In Alkmaar, visit the Schermer Museum Molen – a historic windmill dating from 1634 – for a look at how windmills created the polder, and the family-owned Zeilzicht cheese farm for a tasty cheese-making demonstration and tour. Continue your most memorable of Holland cruises to lovely Enkhuizen for a walking tour and a visit to the open-air Zuiderzee Museum, recreating life in a Zuiderzee (south sea) fishing village between the 1880s and the 1930s. Set off for Arnhem this evening. (B,L,D)

Day 4 | Arnhem. Disembark this morning for a choice of sightseeing in Arnhem. You can explore De Hoge Veluwe National Park – the country’s largest nature reserve and home to scenic forests, drifting sand dunes and grassy plains – then have a chance to peruse works by Vincent van Gogh (there are over 275 of them) and others at the Kröller-Müller Museum (subject to weekly closures) set right within the park. Or take a walking tour of battle sites associated with the World War II airborne assault on Arnhem, including the "John Frost Bridge," and visit the Airborne Museum, located in a former Allied divisional headquarters in Oosterbeek. Rejoin your riverboat this afternoon. Back aboard ship, enjoy a performance of classical music this evening; this most delightful of Holland cruises continues overnight to Rotterdam. (B,L,D)

Day 5 | Rotterdam. Cuising in Zeeland. Veere. Your riverboat arrives this morning in Rotterdam, the Netherlands' second-largest city and one of the biggest and busiest ports in the world. Rising from the ashes after most of its historic center was destroyed by Luftwaffe bombing in WWII, Rotterdam was gradually rebuilt into what is now a thriving 21st-century commercial center and transportation hub known for its innovative architecture and rich cultural life, often referred to as the "Gateway to Europe." Get to know the city with visits to some of its renowned museums or to the famed Delta Works – a remarkable series of dams, dikes, levees and other barriers designed to protect the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta from North Sea storm surges like one that devastated the area in the 1950s. You might also join us for an optional excursion to the historic city of Delft, with its canals and medieval center, before returning to the riverboat for a cruise among the islands of the province of Zeeland, arriving tonight in Veere. (B,L,D)

Day 6 | Veere. Middelburg. Wake up today in the small Dutch city of Veere, on what had once been the island of Walcheren in Zeeland. After its founding as a 13th-century ferry site ("Veere" translates to "ferry"), the city was a key trading port, serving as the "staple port" for goods from Scotland from the 16th to 18th centuries. Tour Veere and the surrounding countryside, dotted with idyllic windmills. Returning to the riverboat for lunch, set off this afternoon to Middelburg; with roots dating back to the 8th century, the city became one of the most important trading centers for the Dutch East India Company during the country's 17th-century "Golden Age." Although about a third of the city's original Old Town was destroyed during WWII, much of it has been rebuilt and restored, and many historic buildings remain for you to discover on your city tour – including a visit to the Middelburg Abbey complex, whose main structure dates to 1125 and is surrounded by church buildings added over the centuries; its tower is known to locals as Lange Jan ("Long John"). Spend time exploring on your own before continuing your cruise to Antwerp tonight. (B,L,D)

Day 7 | Antwerp, Belgium. Arise aboard ship in Antwerp for a taste of daily life in this key Belgian port city and the capital of Flanders, yours to discover in various ways today. Take an orientation tour and walk through Antwerp's historic center, including Grote Markt (the old market square), the Cathedral of Our Lady, and numerous restored merchants' houses. Taste fine Belgian chocolate on a delicious visit to a local chocolatier and sample locally produced “bier” at a specialty beer pub known for its beer expertise. Your day also includes a visit to the newly opened Red Star Line Museum (closed Mondays), whose interactive exhibits in the historic warehouses of the Red Star Line shipping company tell the story of immigrants from all over Europe who began their journey to a new life here. After lunch, travel early this evening to the city of Ieper (Ypres) in Flanders for a Tauck Exclusive in observation of the 2014 centennial of the start of World War I: dinner and a private visit to the In Flanders Fields Museum, set within the reconstructed Cloth Hall, commemorating the battles fought here between 1914 and 1918. Return to the ship in Antwerp to continue this most remarkable of Belgium and Holland cruises. (B,L,D)

Day 8 | Margraten. Maastricht. Drive to Margraten to pay your respects at the Netherlands American Cemetery, final resting place of thousands of U.S. soldiers who fell in battle here during World War II. As a Tauck Exclusive, lunch today is a memorable culinary experience at Château Neercanne, a castle whose terraced gardens are protected by UNESCO; you'll don a chef's hat, visit the kitchen where your meal is being prepared, and dig into an extraordinary lunch served in a Roman grotto within the castle. This afternoon, catch up with the riverboat in Maastricht, another of the Netherlands' oldest cities, boasting more than 1,000 historic buildings and monuments. Join our local guide for a visit to the intriguing Museum aan het Vrijthof (closed Mondays), housed in the 16th-century Spanish Government House, then spend some free time exploring on your own. Maastricht's Old Town includes sites such as Helpoort, a steep-roofed entry through the medieval town wall built in 1229, and the central Vrijthof Square. Enjoy Belgian specialties at dinner aboard the riverboat, docked in Maastricht for the evening. (B,L,D)

Day 9 | Maastricht. Disembark. Brussels. Disembark your riverboat this morning in Maastricht, then drive to Brussels for a full day's sightseeing in Belgium's capital city, a key center of European trade and culture since the 13th century. Discoveries include the Atomium, a 338-foot-tall structure representing atoms in an iron crystal, built for the 1958 World's Fair, and the adjacent Mini-Europe park featuring miniatures of renowned European buildings. A walking tour of the city's historic center takes in the Grande-Place, one of Europe's most beautiful city squares and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its Gothic town hall surrounded by Renaissance-era guildhalls; and the venerable 17th-century bronze fountain sculpture and symbol of the city, the famous Manneken Pis, whose wardrobe traditionally changes several times a week. The afternoon is yours to explore as you please. Overnight at the stylishly elegant Hotel Amigo in the heart of the city; savor a taste of regional cuisine at tonight's farewell dinner, a fitting finale to one of Tauck's most popular Belgium and Holland cruises. (B,L,D)

Day 10 | Brussels. Your most memorable of Belgium and Holland cruises ends in Brussels, Belgium. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from the Hotel Amigo to Brussels Airport, Centraal Station or Brussels Midi Station. Allow 3 hours for flight check-in. (B)

NOTE: Itinerary is subject to change without notice. For the most up-to-date information, please refer to the itinerary schedule you receive with your final documents.)

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SOUTHBOUND ITINERARY
10 DAYS | AMSTERDAM TO BRUSSELS
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