Holland (Netherlands) and Belgium - European River Cruise Routes
Here is a typical itinerary for a river cruise on the rivers Ijssel, Schelde and Waal in Holland (The Netherlands) and Belgium, in this case on the Rembrandt with INTRAV. Most of these cruises last from 7 - 10 days, often with a couple of days spent in Amsterdam at the start. INTRAV uses the Rembrandt and the Amadeus Princess. Trafalgar uses the River Queen, River Duchess and River Princess, and Uniworld the River Countess and the River Duchess. Avalon uses the Symphony and the Artistry on similar trips. Viking uses the Viking Sky, Viking Pride, Viking Europe or Viking Neptune.
When you check out the different tour aggregators' or agents' websites, you'll notice that many of them use the same copy, this is usually because they're taking it direct from the riverboat operator's brochure. In fact, I've noticed that even the different operators have very much the same information, so to some extent it's a case of read one, read 'em all (the links go to photos in our Destinations Gallery):
|Day 1 — Amsterdam, Netherlands (Embark)
Arrive in Amsterdam and transfer to our exclusively chartered riverboat, the 78-passenger Rembrandt. The ship will overnight in this quintessential Dutch city, so you’ll have time to relax and settle into your cabin.
|Day 2 — Amsterdam
Discover Amsterdam on a full-day tour, with lunch, that begins at the heart of old city. View the distinctive gables and cornices of this stately capital’s 17th- and 18th-century buildings. Also see Dam Square and the Portuguese Synagogue.
Then continue to the Rijksmuseum, which boasts artworks by Vermeer, van Gogh, and Rembrandt. Tonight, enjoy a welcome reception/dinner before a canal cruise amid Amsterdam’s distinctive neighborhoods.
|Day 3 — Amsterdam (for Keukenhof Gardens)/Volendam (for Edam)/Hoorn, Netherlands
While Holland is famous for many cultural contributions, among its biggest claims to fame are its floral attractions which you will see at famous Keukenhof Gardens. Explore the marvelous displays before returning to the Rembrandt for an afternoon cruise to the fishing village of Volendam and a tour of nearby Edam. This quaint market town, renowned for its flavorful cheese, is a delightful stop en route to Hoorn. A Dutch folkloric show is featured on board tonight.
|Day 4 — Hoorn/Utrecht, Netherlands
A Zuider Zee village that rose to prominence during the golden age of Dutch history, attractive Hoorn is rich in maritime lore; it was from this harbour that early Dutch explorers sailed the world. Your walking tour meanders past stately mansions, admiralty buildings, and warehouses. Lunch is featured on board as the Rembrandt crosses the vast Markermeer en route to Utrecht.
|Day 5 — Utrecht (for Kröller-Müller Museum)/ Schoonhoven (for Kinderdijk Windmills), Netherlands
Visit famous Kröller-Müller Museum set in de Hoge Veluwe National Park. With no fewer than 278 van Gogh masterworks, the museum also boasts an outstanding collection by many of his contemporaries. Take time to stroll the exhibits, landscaped gardens, and sculpture park before sailing along the Amsterdam-Rijncanal to Schoon-hoven, the Netherlands’ silversmithing hub.
Enjoy an afternoon walking tour of this quaint 13th-century river port before continuing to the Kinderdijk Windmills (on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1997) -- home to 19 water-pumping mills. Named for an event during the Elisabethsflood of 1421, these windmills are integral to Holland’s battle against the ever-encroaching sea.
|Day 6 — Gouda, Netherlands
In Gouda, synonymous worldwide with gourmet Dutch cheese, see the monumental de Waag (weighing house) and the striking Stadhuis, reputed to be Holland’s oldest town hall; with stepped gables and red shutters, part of its Gothic facade dates from 1449. A real highlight is the 15th-century St. Janskerk, home to 70 of Europe’s most beautiful stained-glass windows.
|Day 7 — Gouda (for Delft and The Hague)/ Willemstad, Netherlands
Today’s full-day excursion begins in handsome Delft, home of the famous blue-and-white porcelain. Places of interest include beautiful market square and Nieuwe Kerk (new church). Also visit a pottery market, where you’ll have time to browse, before enjoying lunch at a local restaurant.
Then journey a bit farther to The Hague -- seat of Dutch government and home of the royal family. Here, you’ll see the city’s noble houses, mansions, Parliament, International Court of Justice, and Palace Noordeinde. And don’t miss the Mauritshuis Museum, with its collection by golden-age Dutch masters. Rejoin the Rembrandt in Willemstad for the night.
|Day 8 — Veere (for Delta Works and Middelburg)/ Vlissingen, Netherlands
From the tiny harbour of Veere, disembark to visit the Delta Works -- a plan undertaken by Dutch engineers to avoid catastrophic floods in the southwestern Netherlands. One of the largest hydraulic engineering projects carried out anywhere in the world, it took 30 years to complete. See the world’s largest flood barrier and learn how engineers created giant dams to protect Zeeland’s coastline from the high tides of the North Sea.
Your tour concludes in the typically Dutch town of Middelburg, capital of the Zeeland province. In the Middle Ages, this city was the center of English trade in cloth and wool. A brief walking tour showcases the ornamented town hall and historic abbey.
|Day 9 — Vlissingen (for Bruges, Belgium), Netherlands/Antwerp, Belgium
Spend a full day in ancient Bruges, a virtual open-air museum with places of worship, mansions, cosy alleyways, small bridges, and romantic canals. Behind the historic ramparts and moats, the Old Town has maintained its rich architecture and medieval traditions. Exploration begins with a canal cruise, then continues on foot past the intimate Beguinage, the Town Hall on Markt (market square), and the belfry’s world-famous 47-bell carillon. Return to the ship, now docked in Antwerp along the flowing Schelde.
|Day 10 — Antwerp
Besides its reputation as a prominent port, Antwerp also has wide squares and monuments dating from its wealthy medieval and Renaissance periods. Visit the Royal Museum of Fine Arts -- one of Belgium’s oldest and most important museums. Housed in a handsome neoclassical building, the comprehensive Flemish collection -- second to none in the world -- is enhanced by masterworks from abroad. A short walking tour introduces the city before your afternoon at leisure.
Tonight, gather with fellow travellers for a festive farewell dinner back on board the Rembrandt.
|Day 12 — Antwerp (Disembark)
As you can see, the descriptions are a bit florid, but they give a pretty fair idea of the kind of experiences you can expect.
OUR ADVICE: concentrate on the ship you want to travel on and the route you want to travel, rather than the tour aggregator (of course, there's also price!). Be sure to check out our "Things to watch for" page too!
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