Day 1: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM-TRANSFER TO NAMUR (EMBARKATION).
Welcome to Belgium, seat of the European Union. This afternoon, transfer by motorcoach to Namur, where your river cruise ship is docked. Meet your crew at an evening welcome reception. (D)
NOTE: Flights into Brussels must arrive by 3 pm. Guests must be on board ship by 5 pm.
Day 2: NAMUR.
Namur is located on two rivers, the Meuse and the Sambre, and was an ideal location for the earliest Roman settlements. The streets of the town are where its charm and atmosphere lie and much of Namur has been dedicated to pedestrians, making it easy to get around. The symbol of the city is the snail, and visitors are encouraged to relax and enjoy the charming medieval squares and gracious streets lined with mansions, chic shops, and cafes. See the striking Namur Fortress, one of Europe's largest. Join a Local Guide for a GUIDED TOUR of this city. Alternatively you may prefer to take a full day excursion to the Ardennes region, including a visit to Bastogne. (B,L,D)
Day 3: MAASTRICHT, HOLLAND.
This morning, arrive in Maastricht, the bustling cosmopolitan capital of the province of Limburg. A LOCAL GUIDE will show you the sights of this vibrant university town: the lovely cathedrals, old houses and buildings, and the impressively cobblestoned town centre. Later, take advantage of free time to explore on your own. Maybe wander through the hidden alleys or relax with a drink at a cafe in Vrijthof, the town's main square. (B,L,D)
Day 4: ANTWERP, BELGIUM.
Antwerp is Belgium's second-largest city and one of the world's most important ancient seaports. It merges the new with the old and offers the attractions and atmosphere you'd expect from a European city-friendly people, fabulous architecture, chic shops, interesting museums, vibrant cafes, charming galleries, and historic monuments. INCLUDED SIGHTSEEING with a Local Guide shows you its superb architecture; the central GROTE MARKT, lined with 16th-century houses; the beautiful City Hall, completed in 1566; and the Church of Our Lady, started in 1352 and featuring paintings by Rubens. (B,L,D)
Day 5: EXCURSION TO YPRES & THE BATTLEFIELDS OF EASTERN FLANDERS.
A moving day today as you travel by motorcoach for a full day to view the WWI battlefields of Ypres and Eastern Flanders. The war on the Western Front was fought in three phases, and lasted from 1914 until 1918, leaving behind a scarred landscape in Belgian Flanders and northeastern France. Today, there are thousands of war graves and commemorative memorials for the fallen of many nations along the line of the battlefields that formed the Western Front. The city of Ypres was fought over for nearly all four years of the Great War and was practically destroyed. Through careful reconstruction, however, you would never guess the buildings date from less than a century ago. It is near here that John McCrae's famous pm, "In Flanders fields the poppies blow," is believed to have been written. In many countries, poppies are worn in remembrance of Armistice Day every November 11th. (B,L,D)
Day 6: GHENT.
In a unique way, Ghent, the "diamond" of Flanders, has managed to preserve its medieval charm and power while keeping up with the times. A LOCAL GUIDE will proudly point out that the city centre alone is a showcase of medieval Flemish wealth and commercial success. Visit ST. BAAF'S CATHEDRAL, which houses remarkable art treasures, including the most important work in Flemish art, The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, created by the Van Eyck brothers around 1432. On your own, explore the traffic-free streets in the city centre; see Gravensteen, the "castle of the counts," an imposing castle in the city that was built in 1110; or join an optional excursion to Bruges with its criss-crossed canals and charming patrician houses. (B,L,D)
Day 7: ROTTERDAM, HOLLAND. EXCURSION TO KINDERDIJK OR KEUKENHOF GARDENS (OR DELFT).
This morning cruise through Rotterdam's busy harbour and then the choice is yours: you may choose to visit Kinderdijk and its iconic windmills; or the gardens of Keukenhof (April 23 and May 7 departures). When Keukenhof Gardens are closed, (May 28 and October 5 departures) you may choose to take a guided excursion Delft. (B,L,D)
Day 8: AMSTERDAM (DISEMBARKATION).
After breakfast this morning, bid farewell to your crew and set off to discover the treasures of this city by CANAL BOAT, cruising through the elegant grachten lined with stately homes dating back to Amsterdam's "Golden Age." This afternoon is free for your own exploration. Your Cruise Director will have suggestions of things to do. (B)
Day 9: AMSTERDAM.
Your holiday ends after breakfast this morning. (B)