Discover the magnificent floral displays of the Keukenhof Gardens and enjoy a talk onboard ship from television personality Charlie Dimmock on this wonderfully diverse cruise on the enchanting Belgian and Dutch waterways.
On this tour we uncover the beautiful historic cities of Amsterdam, Ghent and Antwerp as well as the Battlefields of Ypres, the spectacular Keukenhof tulips and the Hoorn-Medemblik steam train. We also enjoy a talk from army veteran and battlefields expert Colonel Piers Storie-Pugh OBE on this memorable river cruise.
Fly from your closest airport to Schipol Airport in Amsterdam, where you'll be met by a Great Rail Journeys representative who will escort you to the ship. On arrival you board your vessel and settle into your cabin and your new surroundings. Later, enjoy a welcome drink in the lounge before a sumptuous 5-course first dinner in the restaurant.
After waking up to your first morning and breakfast on board, you are given a choice between two fascinating excursions. Your first option is a guided sightseeing tour of Amsterdam, taking in all the sights which make this enigmatic port city one of the most loved in Europe. Discover the Royal Palace, Dam Square and the pretty canals for which Amsterdam is famous. Your second option is a visit to the town of Hoorn where you embark on a nostalgic steam train trip on the wonderful Medemblik Steam Railway.
Our vessel arrives into Ghent today, in Flemish Belgium. This morning. Colonel Piers Storie-Pugh comes aboard to deliver a fascinating talk about the battlefields in the region, using his impressive expertise in the field to take us back in time. In the afternoon, our excursion takes us to the infamous Ypres Battlefields, a key battlefront in the First World War. We are accompanied by experts who take us through the old trenches as well as up to the poignant site of Hill 60, one of the worst areas of fighting that Europe has ever seen. You also see the Tyne Cot cemetery where many of the combatants were buried. Return to the ship later for dinner.
Discover the attractive town of Ghent this morning as you venture into the narrow streets and pretty boulevards for a guided tour. Built in an instantly identifiable style, the architecture lends an elegant grandeur to the buildings here, and we discover some of the finest examples on our tour which includes the ever impressive St Bavo's Cathedral and the Belfrey. After lunch, we pay a visit to the fairytale city of Bruges. An exceptional example of a medieval town which maintains its historicity, Bruges is truly an enchanting city with winding streets opening up to large squares which are often filled with locals enjoying the local cafés serving Belgian delicacies. Here we discover the canals, churches and noble old townhouses which are famous across Europe.
Later, after our day in the towns of Belgium, we enjoy another delicious dinner on board our vessel. The ship sails overnight to Antwerp.
This morning, our cruise arrives into the diamond town of Antwerp in the far north of Belgium, near the Netherlands. A superb city of magnificent colour and style, Antwerp is famous for its role as the world's leading diamond authority. It is estimated that around 70% of the world's diamonds are sold and bought here. We visit the diamond district and more on a guided tour of the city's medieval streets.
Later in the afternoon, we depart Antwerp sailing along the Rhine and the Scheldt-Rhine Canal. This man-made stretch of water was created to serve trade routes along the Rhine. We discover more about the history of the canal from our Cruise Director.
We arrive into Arnhem this morning. After free time, you have another choice of two excursions. Your first option is to visit the excellent Hartenstein Airbourne Museum in nearby Oosterbeek for a guided tour. This institution is based on the fierce Battle of Arnhem in WWII, the setting of the war film 'A Bridge too Far'. The museum features a collection which includes various artefacts from the battle itself. Alternatively, you may wish to join the excursion which visits the Netherlands Open Air Museum, recanting the storied history of flight in this proud European country. Tonight we sit down to an elegant Gala dinner with our captain and crew.
This morning we arrive back in Amsterdam, and are joined on board by the wonderful Charlie Dimmock, star of the BBC's Ground Force. We enjoy a presentation as well as a question and answer session with her, learning about her time at the BBC and her tips on horticulture and garden care.
Later, we experience a true highlight of the tour, visiting the magnificent kaleidoscope of colour that is Keukenhof Gardens. Lined and filled with all manner of glorious tulips displays of all sizes and variety, this is one of the best floral displays in Europe and indeed the rest of the world. In the evening, we are serenaded back on board by a Dutch sea shanty choir.
After a buffet breakfast, your cruise comes to an end and you are transferred to the airport for your flight home.
This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.