Embark on a delightful, seven-night cruise along the intimate waterways of the Netherlands and Belgium brimming with centuries of history and Old-World charm! See Amsterdam’s iconic canals, stroll amid the brilliant tulips at Keukenhof Gardens and relish an extraordinary and rare exhibition of Vermeer’s paintings gathered from around the world at the Rijksmuseum! You’ll also take in Bruges’ wonderfully preserved Gothic gems and Antwerp’s impressive medieval old town. Other ports of call introduce you to the inviting Dutch city of Kampen, rich in Hanseatic history, and the laid-back seaside harbor town of Veere. Enjoy enrichment from expert guides and lecturers, plus a choice of included excursions. Explore The Hague and the famed Mauritshuis, watch artisans at the Royal Delft porcelain factory or sample delectable cheeses in Gouda. In Bruges, visit a chocolaterie, discover the beer culture or admire fine Belgian art. Aboard your exclusively chartered, first-class ship, savor generous meals with wine and beer at lunch and dinner. No single supplement!
AHI FlexAir passengers depart for Amsterdam, Netherlands. Please check your luggage from your gateway city to your arrival city. Your claim checks should have the following airport code: AMS.
Arrive at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Proceed through immigration to the baggage claim area and retrieve your luggage. After completing customs, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for the group arrival transfer and Cruise Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer should exit the baggage claim area and proceed to the Arrivals Hall, where an AHI Travel representative will meet you.
Transfer to the pier and embark the MS Amadeus Silver II. Please note, if you arrive before check-in time, your cabin may not be immediately available.
Enrichment: The Dutch Masters. In the 17th century, artists such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals and Jans Steen endeavored for detailed realism in their portraits, landscapes and still lifes. A local expert examines the lasting impact of their celebrated masterpieces.
Discovery: Canals of Amsterdam. Board a cruiser for a delightful perspective of this romantic city, known the world over for its more than 60 miles of tree-lined canals and waterways. Amsterdam’s 17th-century canal ring area has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. During your guided cruise, take in the charming, gabled canal houses, locals of all ages pedaling by, and the architectural gems of the bustling city harbor. (Mild)
Return to the ship for your first delicious dinner on board.
The ship remains docked overnight in Amsterdam.
Discovery: Keukenhof Gardens. Journey to this 80-acre paradise of brightly colored tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and other gorgeous blooms. More than nine miles of footpaths crisscross the grounds, allowing you to immerse yourself in this enchanting setting. Explore this magnificent garden with your expert guide and learn more about its origins. (Moderate)
Savor a refreshing lunch on board the ship.
Discovery: Rijksmuseum with Special Vermeer Exhibition. View fabulous art and artifacts representing 800 years of Dutch history at this acclaimed museum, including an extraordinary exhibition of Johannes Vermeer’s masterpieces. One of history’s greatest artists, Vermeer was renowned for his command of color, composition and light. About 35 of his paintings have survived. In this exceptional retrospective, the Rijksmuseum has gathered the largest collection of these works on loan from around the world, an event unlikely to be repeated due to the fragility of the artwork. (Moderate)
PLEASE NOTE: Vermeer’s “Girl With a Pearl Earring” is housed at the Mauritshuis and will not be a part of this special Rijksmuseum exhibition. If you would like to see it, select the Day 5 Personalize Your Journey excursion, The Hague and the Mauritshuis.
While the ship cruises to Kampen this evening, gather for a Welcome Reception and Dinner.
The ship arrives in Kampen this morning.
Enrichment: The Hanseatic League. This powerful medieval mercantile federation, made up of German towns and their northern European trading centers, promoted and protected commercial interests abroad, reaching its peak from the 13th to 15th centuries. Learn about the League’s influence and historical significance from a local expert.
Discovery: Historic Kampen Walking Tour. Set on the banks of the Ijssel, Kampen is filled with impressive architecture that reflects its heyday as an important member of the Hanseatic League. With your guide, see stately medieval merchants’ houses, the Church of St. Nicholas, the 15th-century Gothic House, the grand old town gates and more. (Moderate)
Relax afterward over lunch on the ship. Then enjoy some time at leisure to explore more of lovely Kampen on your own.
Enrichment: Contemporary Netherlands. Delve into current affairs in the Netherlands, a constitutional monarchy and one of the original six countries that founded what is now the 27-member European Union.
The ship departs Kampen this evening.
The Hague | Delft | Gouda
The ship docks in Utrecht this morning.
Personalize Your Journey | Choose one of the following excursions.
The Hague and the Mauritshuis. See The Hague’s landmark buildings, including the Binnenhof, home of the Dutch parliament, and the Peace Palace, seat of the United Nations’ International Court of Justice. Then visit the storied Mauritshuis, which houses works by Dutch and Flemish masters, most notably Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring.” (Moderate)
Old Delft and the Porcelain Factory. Explore historic Delft and its Market Square on a walking tour before visiting the Royal Delft porcelain factory, founded in 1653. In the early 1600s, Chinese porcelain became a favorite of the Dutch after it was introduced by tradesmen from the Dutch East India Company. Dutch potters responded by developing their own version, the iconic blue and white delftware so associated with the Netherlands. See the fascinating production process firsthand, watch a master artisan painting pieces by hand, and view Royal Delft’s splendid porcelain collection in their showroom. (Moderate)
Gouda — City of Cheese. Travel to Gouda, famous for its namesake cheese. See the bustling market square dominated by the splendid, 15th-century town hall. Visit Sint Janskerk, the country’s longest church. Inside, you’ll be awed by more than 70 of Europe’s finest, 16th-century painted-glass windows. Afterward, nibble on varieties of fresh Gouda cheese and learn how they are created. (Moderate)
Return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon of sailing toward Veere. The ship moors in Willemstad late this evening.
The ship arrives in Veere this morning.
Free Time: Join the half-day Elective Activity this morning or explore on your own for the day in Veere, a wonderful seaside town. Yachts have replaced the fishing boats and trading boats that once filled the harbor. From the 16th to 18th centuries, this tiny port town was the staple port for Scotland, meaning it was the entry port into Europe for Scottish wool and other items being brought to the European mainland. De Schotse aan de Kaai is a museum devoted to the town’s unique relationship with Scotland. Take a leisurely walk by the 15th-century town hall and browse through the quaint shops.
Elective Activity: The Zeeland Coast and the Dutch Battle Against the Sea. Travel along the Zeeland coast to the artificial island of Neeltje Jans and its Delta Expo. Learn about the Delta Works, a series of massive dams and storm surge barriers conceived after the devastating 1953 North Sea flood. Built over a period of 30 years, these 65 enormous gates can be slammed shut on the North Sea when powerful storms strike. They are an engineering masterpiece that now protects the third of the landmass of the Netherlands that sits below sea level. A moving panoramic 3-D exhibit allows you to experience how the North Sea waves wiped out part of the country in February 1953. (Moderate) Available at an additional cost.
The ship remains in Veere overnight.
Bruges, Belgium | Antwerp
This morning, cruise to Middelburg and then disembark for a scenic drive to Bruges, Belgium.
Medieval Bruges exudes a magical ambience that has earned it the nickname, “Venice of the North.” Tranquil canals, serving as the city’s arteries, are connected by winding, cobblestone lanes and sturdy stone bridges. The historic center with its splendidly preserved Gothic architecture has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Personalize Your Journey | Choose one of the following excursions.
All excursions include a guided walking tour of Bruges. Stroll through the grand Market Square and see the medieval guild hall buildings, the exquisite 12th-century Basilica of the Holy Blood and the stately Belfry Tower. After the walk, continue with your selected tour.
Cultural Bruges. Admire the outstanding artwork at the Groeninge Museum, known for its Flemish Primitive paintings and Flemish expressionist masterpieces. After your museum visit, spend time exploring Bruges on your own. (Active)
Bruges and Beer. Visit the De Halve Maan Brewery. With a strong tradition of brewing dating to the 12th century, Belgium embraces beer as its beloved national drink, and hundreds of varieties are produced annually. At the brewery, learn about this family business and the history of Belgian brewing. Take in the panoramic view of Bruges from the roof of the building, then enjoy a glass of freshly brewed beer. Three floors and many stairs (Active)
Bruges and Belgian Chocolate. Explorers returning from South America introduced cocoa beans to Belgium in the 17th century, and today Belgium is recognized worldwide for its creamy chocolates. Visit one of Belgium’s more than 2,000 chocolatiers and learn about the art and history of Belgian chocolate-making, talk with the chocolate experts, and enjoy a sample. (Active)
Enjoy time for lunch on your own in Bruges before returning by motor coach to the ship in Antwerp.
Enrichment: Contemporary Belgium. Belgium is a bilingual country with deep cultural, geographic and linguistic divisions between the Dutch speakers of Flanders and the French speakers of Wallonia. Gain interesting insights during a presentation by a local expert.
Discovery: Antwerp. Located on the Scheldt River and just 55 miles from the North Sea, Antwerp boasts a rich legacy as a prominent seaport and center of trade. On a guided walk, view its wealth of medieval architecture. Among its notable landmarks, see the Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady, which was under construction for 169 years and completed in 1521; the elegant 16th-century town hall festooned with colorful flags; and the Grote Markt, or Great Market Square, with its row of narrow guild halls. (Moderate)
Free Time: Spend the afternoon at leisure in Antwerp. Perhaps you’ll relish the local color from a café in the lively Groenplaats, or meander through beautiful Antwerp Zoo, a pleasant oasis in the heart of the city, founded in 1843.
Tonight, gather for a Farewell Reception and Dinner to commemorate your journey.
After breakfast, disembark the ship in Antwerp.
AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for a group transfer and Cruise Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer depart for Brussels Airport for your return flights home. Passengers departing independently to the airport must disembark the ship by 9 a.m. Your Travel Director will provide the details.
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