Discover Holland and Belgium at the height of spring—when fields of tulips blanket the low country and trees burst with blossoms. On an 8-day cruise, glide past scenic villages and historic cities. In Holland, stroll through a patchwork of flowers at the Keukenhof gardens, and meander past the windmills of Kinderdijk. Gain insight into Dutch traditions during a festive dinner with local residents, and meet engineers for an inside look at the Delta Works. Venture into stunning cathedrals and town halls, and trace the colorful histories of Veere and Arnhem in the Netherlands and Brugge, Belgium from the medieval era to World War II.
Immerse yourself in a sea of colorful blooms at Holland’s Keukenhof gardens, and discover the 18th-century windmills of Kinderdijk—a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Learn valuable tips and techniques from a National Geographic photographer as you capture the highlights of charming towns from Veere to Volendam.
Meander the cobblestoned streets of the World Heritage-listed historic center of Brugge, Belgium with a National Geographic expert.
Delve into local culinary traditions, from Dutch cheeses to Belgian beers.
Itinerary - 8 Days
Day 1 — Amsterdam, Netherlands
Arrive in Amsterdam and board our Scenic Opal. Toast the journey ahead at this evening’s welcome reception and dinner.
Day 2 — Rotterdam/Delft
Sail to the busy port of Rotterdam. Set out on a walk through the city, viewing the striking contemporary architecture which stands in contrast to older neighborhoods, including the historic harbor of Delfshaven. Or choose to explore beautiful Delft, where world-renowned blue-and-white pottery has been produced since the 17th century. Here, we’ll visit a pottery factory and a museum to learn more about the city’s celebrated ceramics. Alternatively, discover the World Heritage site of Kinderdijk-Elshout, where 19 windmills were built around 1740 to drain the polders—the Netherlands' marshy lowlands that were reclaimed through the use of dikes. Later, continue sailing toward Veere.
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Day 3 — Veere
This morning, cruise into Holland’s Zeeland province. Set out on a private tour of a portion of the “Delta Works,” dams and barriers built as part of an elaborate engineering project begun in the mid-20th century to prevent flooding in the region, or explore the charming village of Veere, once an important seaport. Stroll along the bustling harbor, and admire the elegant, gabled architecture dating back to the 15th century. Alternatively, embark on a guided cycling tour of Veere and its surroundings. This evening, unwind with a sundowner drink on the deck of our ship, taking in splendid views of the Dutch countryside.
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Day 4 — Antwerp, Belgium/Brugge
Dock at the medieval port city of Antwerp and continue to Brugge, known for its Gothic architecture and picturesque market squares linked by cobbled streets and serene canals. The entire historic center of Brugge has been declared a World Heritage site. Set out on a tour of the main squares, the Markt and Burg. See one of Europe’s largest surviving medieval town halls, and the 12th-century Basilica of the Holy Blood. Alternatively, stay in Antwerp and discover this stylish city, located on the banks of the Schelde River and known as the diamond capital of the world. Venture on your own into the Cathedral of Our Lady, a Gothic gem that harbors four masterpieces by artist Peter Paul Rubens. Also see the city hall, a fine example of Flemish architecture, and the Grote Markt, Antwerp’s lovely main square.
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Day 5 — Arnhem
Cruise through the countryside to Arnhem, once an important trading center in the Hanseatic League—and later the site of a historic Allied assault during World War II. Visit the Airborne Museum ‘Hartenstein,’ dedicated to the Battle of Arnhem, and view weapons, videos, and photos that bring this famed battle to life. Alternatively, visit the Netherlands Open Air Museum, which encompasses many beautiful acres of historic houses, farms, and windmills where travelers can witness authentic Dutch customs and traditions. Or go biking in nearby Hoge Veluwe National Park, one of the largest nature reserves in Holland, and hear about the local ecology from a park ranger.
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Day 6 — Hoorn/Volendam/Edam
Explore the fishing village of Volendam. Next, on a tour of Edam, visit a cheese warehouse and sample some of the round cheese for which the city is known. Alternatively, discover the charming town of Hoorn with a guide, and taste some of the local delicacies. If you wish, bike to a nearby tulip farm, where we’ll learn about the flower production process from bulb to auction market, Or visit a paprika farm. This evening, join local residents for a special dinner, enjoying traditional food, friendly conversation, and insights into life in the Netherlands.
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Day 7 — Amsterdam
With its gabled roofs, lively squares, and canal-lined streets, Amsterdam is bursting with character. Immerse yourself in a riot of colors and fragrances at the legendary Keukenhof Gardens, where more than seven million blossoms display their bright hues. National Geographic Travel has rated Keukenhof one of the world’s Top Ten Magnificent Gardens.
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Day 8 — Amsterdam
After breakfast, disembark our ship and transfer to the airport for your flight home.
This trip is offered in partnership with Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours.
Book any departure by June 30, 2018 and receive round-trip economy airfare between the U.S. and Europe for $495 per person. Offer is subject to availability and valid for new bookings only, and may not be combined with other promotions. Please call for details.
Dutch photographer Jasper Doest specializes in conservation issues, travel, and wildlife photography. As a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers, his photographs have received multiple awards and appeared in numerous publications, including National Geographic magazine, GEO, and Smithsonian magazine. He is also a regular contributor to the Dutch editions of National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler magazines, for which his latest assignment has been built around the restoration of natural river dynamics in the largest fresh water tidal region in Europe, the Dutch Biesbosch National Park. Through his photographic work, Jasper seeks to give a voice to environmental issues as well as those who can’t speak our language or are often misunderstood, emphasizing the beauty and fragility of our planet.
Travelers can choose between a light or moderate activity level. For a light level of activity, they should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives on bumpy roads, or easy hikes.
For a moderate level, travelers should be prepared for multiple hours of physical activity (e.g. hiking, kayaking, biking) each day.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.