If you’re looking for a vacation that combines some well-known sights with those off the beaten track, this itinerary is for you! Arrive in Amsterdam and transfer to your river cruise vessel in Haarlem. From the fishing village of Volendam, visit the town of Edam. Discover the region of “North Holland,” where tulip fields abound, then sail across the Ijsselmeer, formerly known as the Zuider Zee, to the region known as “Friesland,” famous for its black-and-white cows. Visit the Zuider Zee Museum in Enkhuizen or get a chance to meet some of the locals. Take a walking tour of the small town of Hoorn, which gave its name to South America’s Cape Horn, visit the Batavia shipyard in Lelystad, and choose between visits of the Kröller-Müller Museum or Museum Hartenstein near Arnhem. From Rotterdam, you may choose to visit Keukenhof Gardens. Your vacation concludes with a cruise along Amsterdam’s canals.
Arrive In Amsterdam, Holland. Transfer To Haarlem (Embarkation)–Volendam
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 sails from Haarlem and heads for Volendam.
Volendam – Excursion To Edam–Enkhuizen
This morning, wake up in the picturesque fishing village of Volendam with its unique open harbor and timbered church dating back to 1658. Well known for its old fishing boats, distinctive small houses, drawbridges, and canals, Volendam offers a romantic and friendly atmosphere. An excursion takes you to Edam, whose cheese of the same name has become famous throughout the world and where cheese markets are still held in the summer months. The Old Town center, especially the Kwakelsteeg, still has lovely characteristic Waterland houses. During lunch, sail on the Markermeer to Enkhuizen, situated at the most easterly point of North Holland. Enkhuizen is a quintessential fishing town with cobblestone streets, a quaint town center, 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,” and this afternoon you have the choice to 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. Alternatively, you may wish to join a “Dutch Experience” to meet some of the locals.
After breakfast you may join the included excursion of your choice: a trip along the tulip fields or a guided walk of Alkmaar. Tulip fields abound in this part of the country. Take pictures and learn more about these flowers and how they were introduced into Holland from the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) in the 17th century. Alternatively, join your Local Guide for a walk to show you the most beautiful spots of Alkmaar with its many historic buildings, picturesque drawbridges spanning canals, serene courtyards, and narrow shopping streets. Rejoin your ship and 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.
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. Before lunch, we’ll introduce you to local cheese and genever, traditionally drunk neat from a shot glass. 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. Later this afternoon, sail to Kampen, where you dock overnight.
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. After lunch, the choice is yours: perhaps visit the Airborne Museum Hartenstein, dedicated to the Battle of Arnhem, one of the major tragedies of WWII, or visit the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo with its world-renowned collection of mainly 19th- and 20th-century visual art. In the late afternoon, rejoin your ship in Arnhem.
This morning, sail through the Harbor of Rotterdam, said to be the world’s busiest port. Leveled by German bombs in WWII, Rotterdam now has a modern, high-tech look. After an early lunch you may opt to join a local guide for a visit of this port city as well as of nearby Utrecht. Called Holland’s cultural treasure trove, Utrecht is an old university town with a small medieval city center, many structures and buildings from the early Middle Ages, picturesque canals, and many outdoor cafés. See the Dom Tower, which was built between 1321 and 1382 and is the highest and oldest church tower in the Netherlands. Alternatively, you may opt for a visit to 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 colors not only from the tulips, but also from hyacinths, daffodils, orchids, roses, and more. Rejoin your ship in Utrecht.
Arrive in Hoorn in the early morning hours. Later, join a Local Guide for a guided walk around this charming town that gave its name to Cape Horn, the southernmost point of South America. Combining old and new, the town center has largely remained intact, and historical buildings have been retained in their old forms. The monumental façades tell of Hoorn’s one-time importance as a Dutch East India Company town. Enjoy some free time before returning to your ship for lunch, then sail to 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.”
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.