Day 1: ARRIVE IN AMSTERDAM, HOLLAND. TRANSFER TO HAARLEM (EMBARKATION).
Welcome to Holland! This afternoon, drive to Haarlem, where your river cruise vessel is docked. Before dinner, meet your crew at an evening welcome reception as your ship sets sail. (NOTE: Flights into Amsterdam must arrive by 2 pm. Guests must be on board ship by 5 pm.) (D)
Day 2: HOORN-ENKHUIZEN.
Enjoy a free morning to explore Hoorn at your own pace. Rejoin your ship for lunch and sail to Enkhuizen, situated at the most easterly point of North Holland. Enkhuizen is a quintessential fishing town with cobblestone streets, a quaint town centre, and one of the largest marinas in the Netherlands. It owes its prosperity to the Zuider Zee (now known as the IJsselmeer) during the "Golden Age." This afternoon, visit the ZUIDERZEE MUSEUM, dedicated to the culture and history of this area. The museum focuses on the past and present of the IJsselmeer, and features living history, heritage, and crafts combining works from the past with works from the present. TULIP FIELDS abound in this part of the country, so alternatively, you may prefer to join an excursion which takes you along the growing areas that look from afar like carpets of colour. Take pictures and learn more about these flowers and how they were introduced into Holland from the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) in the 17th century. (B,L,D)
Day 3: ENKHUIZEN-SNEEK, FRIESLAND.
This morning you have a choice between an included GUIDED WALK of Enkhuizen or you may wish to join a "DUTCH EXPERIENCE" to meet some locals. Then, cruise across the IJsselmeer to southwest Friesland, a province rich in history and legends. As you sail, enjoy the scenic rural landscape along the river. Dock in Lemmer, from where our Friesland excursion departs. Primarily an agricultural region with a long history, Friesland is best known internationally for its famous black-and-white Friesian cattle and black Friesian horses. Visit the 18th-century ROYAL EISE EISINGA PLANETARIUM, which has been nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rejoin your ship in Sneek, where you dock overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 4: LELYSTAD-KAMPEN.
Today, enjoy a peaceful morning of cruising through this delightful area of Friesland. Spring is in the air, and the lush green landscape is coming alive. After docking in Lelystad, visit the BATAVIA SHIPYARD, where ships that were important to the Netherlands' maritime industry during the "Golden Age" are faithfully reconstructed by hand. Then, board the BATAVIA itself. Originally built in 1628 to sail to and from the East Indies, the Batavia wrecked on its maiden voyage on June 4, 1629 off the coast of Western Australia. It took 10 years-from 1985 to 1995-for a crew to reconstruct the ship using traditional construction materials. Back on board, we'll introduce you to LOCAL CHEESE and GENEVER, traditionally drunk neat from a shot glass, as you sail to Kampen, where you dock overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 5: GELDERSE IJSSEL-ARNHEM.
Another relaxing morning on board as you sail along the IJssel River, also known as the Gelderse IJssel, which is a branch of the Rhine River. Learn more about Holland at an ONBOARD LECTURE and taste a sweet LOCAL SPECIALTY. After lunch, visit the AIRBORNE MUSEUM HARTENSTEIN, dedicated to the Battle of Arnhem, one of the major tragedies of WWII. Alternatively, you may prefer to visit the KROLLER-MULLER MUSEUM. Later, rejoin your ship in Arnhem. (B,L,D)
Day 6: ROTTERDAM.
This morning, sail through the HARBOUR OF ROTTERDAM, said to be the world's busiest port. Levelled by German bombs in WWII, Rotterdam now has a modern, high-tech look. After an early lunch, you may opt to join a guided excursion to GOUDA, famous for its gouda cheese, syrup waffles, clay pipes, and elaborate city hall. It is a typical Dutch city with many old buildings and pretty canals. Alternatively, you may wish to visit the gardens of KEUKENHOF near Lisse, which encompass over 70 acres of parkland with lakes, sculpture gardens, greenhouses, and a windmill to explore. Every year, 7 million flower bulbs are planted, and you have the opportunity to see the spectacular display of colours not only from the tulips, but also from hyacinths, daffodils, and more. If you're a garden enthusiast, you may opt for an extended visit to Keukenhof, with lunch on your own in the gardens. (B,L,D)
Day 7: AMSTERDAM.
After breakfast, arrive in Amsterdam, where GUIDED SIGHTSEEING is provided by CANAL BOAT. Cruise through the elegant grachten, lined with stately homes dating back to Amsterdam's "Golden Age." This afternoon is free or you may choose from a selection of optional excursions to make the most of your last day in Holland. (B,L,D)
Day 8: AMSTERDAM (DISEMBARKATION).
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning. (B)