Holland in Springtime

  • 10-day journey aboard the canal barge M.S. Magnifique
  • Explore Amsterdam, Haarlem, The Hague, and the blooming Dutch countryside

Expedition Details


Take to the waterways of the Netherlands aboard the newly renovated canal barge the M.S. Magnifique, and discover medieval towns and landscapes ablaze with spring's bright blossoms. Stroll through a patchwork of flowers at the Keukenhof gardens, or ride a bike past the windmills of Kinderdijk. Explore The Hague, Haarlem, and the picturesque canals and markets of Amsterdam. Trace the footsteps of Anne Frank and view the artworks of the Dutch masters, from Rembrandt and Vermeer to Vincent van Gogh.

Trip Highlights

    • Take to the waterways of the Netherlands on the canal barge M.S. Magnifique and discover Keukenhof, Kinderdijk, Amsterdam, and the “green heart” of Holland.
    • Drive past striped fields of tulips on the Flower Route, one of National Geographic’s Drives of a Lifetime.
    • Immerse yourself in the excitement of the world’s largest flower auction in Aalsmeer.
    • Visit the cheese-weighing house in Gouda and the oldest working ceramics factory of the Netherlands in Delft.

Itinerary - 10 Days

Days 1 & 2 — U.S./Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Depart on an overnight flight to Amsterdam and, upon arrival, transfer to our hotel, located in a quiet neighborhood of the city. After time on your own to relax or explore the city, meet for a welcome reception and dinner.
Bilderberg Garden Hotel (D)

Day 3 — Amsterdam

Spend the morning at the newly renovated Rijksmuseum, filled with Dutch masterworks, including Rembrandt’s Night Watch. Have lunch on your own before setting out on a private canal boat tour of the waterways that have made the city famous. Visit the Noordermarkt (northern market), a lively farmers market where protesters held their first public meetings against the Nazi deportation of Jews in 1941. Later, visit the Anne Frank Museum for a vivid, firsthand experience of her life in hiding in the Secret Annex. Embark the Magnifique in the late afternoon and enjoy dinner on board.
M.S. Magnifique (B, D)

Day 4 — Haarlem

Relax on deck this morning as we make our way west along scenic waterways and into the harbor of Haarlem. This charming medieval market town gave its name to American Harlem in the 17th century, when New York was still a Dutch colony. See the Town Hall, site of this free-spirited city’s government since about 1100, and the Grote Kerk, an impressive 15th-century church that houses Holland’s largest pipe organ. After free time to explore and lunch on your own, meet up for a walking tour. Visit the Frans Hals Museum, located in a 17th-century almshouse, and see many of the artist’s best-known works.
M.S. Magnifique (B, D)

Day 5 — Lisse/Leiden

Immerse yourself in a riot of colors and fragrances at the breathtaking Keukenhof gardens, where more than seven million vibrant tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and other flowers display their bright hues. Stroll acre after acre of the world’s largest flower garden, taking in a beauty that lasts just a short time each spring. In the afternoon, travel the famous Flower Route, featured in National Geographic Traveler’s book Drives of a Lifetime. Stop in Leiden, home of the oldest university and botanical garden in the Netherlands.
M.S. Magnifique (B, D)

Day 6 — The Hague/Delft

Explore Den Haag (The Hague) this morning, home to the royal family and the Parliament. Our visit will include viewing masterpieces from the collections of the Mauritshuis Museum, including works by Vermeer and van Dyck, as well as Rembrandt’s self portrait. Then continue to Delft, a town known for its distinctive blue-and-white porcelain. Pay a visit to De Porceleyne Fles, also known as Royal Delft, a ceramics factory founded in 1653, and watch the intricate handiwork that goes into crafting the famous pottery. Return to our barge in time for dinner.
M.S. Magnifique (B, D)

Day 7 — Rotterdam/Kinderdijk/Gouda

Sail through the busy port of Rotterdam on our way to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Kinderdijk-Elshout, where 19 windmills built around 1740 to drain the marshes still stand. If you choose, ride a bike along the canals past these picturesque windmills and soak in the beauty of this historic area. Our barge glides into Gouda this afternoon. Venture into the Gothic Stadhuis (City Hall), completed in 1450, and see the world-famous stained glass windows of St. John’s Church. Enjoy dinner on your own in one of Gouda’s many restaurants.
M.S. Magnifique (B, L)

Day 8 — Gouda/Groene Hart/Oude Wetering

Pay a visit to the local market and the cheeseweighing house this morning. Learn about the history and production of Gouda cheese and sample several varieties. This afternoon, head out on a bike ride through the Groene Hart (Green Heart) of the Dutch countryside, a lovely rural landscape of lakes, fields, and small villages. Or you may choose to stay on board for a lively cooking class. Enjoy a local beer tasting and dinner as we settle near the village of Oude Wetering this evening.
M.S. Magnifique (B, L, D)

Day 9 — Aalsmeer/Amsterdam

Rise early for an excursion to the world’s largest flower auction in Aalsmeer, where more than five billion flowers are sold every year. Witness the haggling and deal-making among flower vendors, and get a taste of life behind the scenes of the tulip trade. Return to the ship for brunch, and then cruise back to Amsterdam. Explore Amsterdam on your own before gathering for a unique voyage through the city’s labyrinthine canals. Celebrate your journey with a farewell dinner aboard our barge.
M.S. Magnifique (B, D)

Day 10 — Amsterdam/U.S.

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home.

National Geographic Expert

Paula Swart

Paula SwartArt historian Paula Swart has been a museum curator for more than 20 years. Born in The Hague in the Netherlands, Paula studied at the University of Leiden and Amsterdam. Paula holds degrees in Sinology, art history, history, and archaeology. While studying in Amsterdam, she participated in the Witte Leeuw (White Lion) project studying the Chinese ceramics found in an early 17th century Dutch East India Company shipwreck. She speaks five languages, including Dutch and Mandarin, and has published several books and numerous articles on art and architecture. Paula has researched and lectured on Dutch trade and exploration, and has a special interest in 17th century Dutch still life paintings.

Paula will join the following departures:

Apr 14 - 23, 2016
Apr 28 - May 07, 2016


  • Apr 14 - 23, 2016
  • Apr 28 - May 07, 2016

Expedition Cost

Standard Double Cabin $6,295
Junior Suite $7,295

Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single cabin, add $2,300.

International airfare to/from Amsterdam is not included in the expedition cost.

View Ship/Deck Plan