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Tulips, Holland & Belgium Discovery & The Classic Rhine

27 days with Crystal River Cruises  Rating: Deluxe

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River Cruise Itinerary
Days 1 & 2 Amsterdam, Netherlands (Overnight)
Everyone has an image of Amsterdam. For some, it’s small boats gliding on the canals and locals two-wheeling on bikes to and from work and, as frequently, to meet friends for drinks. For others, it’s gabled buildings leaning, seemingly precariously, over cobbled streets and cozy taverns illuminated by candles. Still others imagine tulips in bloom and the colors, both muted and vibrant, of the paintings Vermeer, Van Gogh and Rembrandt. All images are true and even more beguiling when experienced in person. Sit a spell in a convivial cafe, explore world-class museums and feel the significance of a unique history—one of a city reclaimed from the sea, rising in prestige and influence as merchants built trade and wealth, and forever known for its attics and attitudes that offered refuge from war. Narrow streets and great manses tell the story not only in images but with the aroma of appeltaart, a taste of the avant garde in newly constructed buildings and a feeling of warmth from the amiable locals.
 
Day 3 Amsterdam, Netherlands - Hoorn, Netherlands
The harbor-side town of Hoorn encompasses what makes the Netherlands so special: water, trade and architecture. Located near the open sea on the largest lake in Western Europe, the Ijsselmeer, this Golden Age city shines, still glinting with the prosperity brought by the great sailing ships of the Dutch East India Company, which delivered exotic spices and sprinkled the town with more than a dash of elegance. Hoorn’s power and influence reached as far as the shores of South America where, on reaching the continent’s most southerly waters in 1616, native son and explorer Willem Schouten dubbed the windswept outpost Cape Horn after his hometown. On your own expedition here in hospitable Hoorn, you will want to explore the cobbled streets to discover interesting museums, fine monuments, the graceful town square and the timeless harbor.
 
Venture to the quaint village of Edam (pronounced Ay-dam), known for its eponymous cheese and picture-postcard scenery. Gabled buildings, canals spanned by drawbridges and yes, storefronts displaying racks of Edam cheese are a feast for the eye. Your Crystal experience also takes you to the town of Alkmaar to see row upon row of cheese laid out in the cobbled center of Waagplein square for a weigh-and-trade spectacle that is the largest of its kind in the world.
 
Days 4 & 5 Rotterdam, Netherlands
If other cities in the Netherlands can be characterized as quaint and charming, Rotterdam is best described as trendy and sophisticated. Much of its edgy personality is a result of a wiping out of its history, at least the tangible history as represented by its old buildings. The Rotterdam Blitz of World War II destroyed central Rotterdam, leaving it to be rebuilt with an innovative and contemporary approach to design. Modern buildings feature eye-catching curves, cubist references and materials of concrete, glass and steel. Old slices of the city still remain in Delfshaven, or Delft Harbor, and Oude Haven, or Old Harbor. Rotterdam’s energetic mix of old and new, along with a collection of outstanding museums, hotels and restaurants, helped make Rotterdam the Academy of Urbanism’s 2015 European City of the Year and consistently earn it top rankings for best places to visit.
 
We’re dishing up a very special visit to the Royal Delft Experience, located in the town of Delft, known for its iconic blue-and-white Delft ceramics. Entering the only remaining factory of the 32 that were established in Delft in the 17thcentury, you will witness the production of the beloved earthenware, fashioned after Chinese porcelain and still crafted and hand painted according to centuries-old tradition. See a master painter at work, view presentations about Delftware’s history, and admire a complete collection of Royal Delft in the showroom.
 
Days 6 & 7 Ghent, Belgium
Buildings with stair-stepped gables, the meeting of the rivers Scheldt and Leie, intact and well-preserved medieval architecture, a brooding castle, the famed Ghent Altarpiece. Ghent has much to admire, including a grounded personality that doesn’t prove too protective of its treasures. Rather, the place is welcoming and hard working—and hard playing—a center of industry that trades goods and a lively cultural scene that exchanges ideas. Walk along Ghent’s pretty canals, wander into its stunning churches, stop to appreciate the flowers that adorn its squares and alleyways and become enchanted by a city that was once one of Europe’s richest north of the Alps and continues to enrich the experience of travelers.
 
See the world-renowned Ghent Altarpiece, the 12-panel painting by Jan van Eyck, at St. Baaf’s Cathedral, a work of art in its own right. Also discover Gravensteen Castle, an imposing bastion dating from the Middle Ages with a moat, turrets and a museum with suits of armor and implements of torture. It’s hardly torture but indeed an absolute pleasure to explore Bruges, a charming medieval town with cobbled lanes, photogenic canals graced by swans and a moated center so precious and lovely that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 
Days 8 & 9 Antwerp, Belgium
What Milan is to Italy, Antwerp is to Belgium, a historic city that is on-trend with a finger on the pulse of fashion, art and entertainment. A dynamic energy fills Antwerp’s old squares, gorgeous with cobbled centers and edged, like a cake with decorative icing, by ornate buildings. High-reaching church towers and fountains with cherubic sculptures add to the feeling of antiquity, while the port—the largest in Belgium and one of the largest in the world—brings a sense of purpose and prosperity. Surely, you associate Antwerp with diamonds. More than 70 percent of all diamonds are traded through this sparkling city, one that also shines under the light of celebrated painter Peter Paul Rubens, who lived and worked in an Italianate city manse, now a museum.
 
Visit the palatial home-museum of Peter Paul Rubens, where you will admire the restored 17th-century estate with exquisite gardens and see a selection of the artist’s works. Head to Brussels to experience this fascinating capital of Belgium and the European Union, home to one of Europe’s most beautiful squares, the Grand Place. You won’t soon forget your look at the immense Delta Works, a vast complex of dams, locks, dykes and levees built to protect the lowlands from floods.
 
Day 10 Dordrecht, Netherlands
Like many cities in the Netherlands, Dordrecht is surrounded by water and indeed infiltrated by it, beautifully so with canals that crisscross and connect cobbled neighborhoods and old squares. The best way to discover the town is by foot and, of course, by boat. Look up to see tilting buildings with classic, Dutch-style facades and simply look around to encounter Dordrecht’s plentiful monuments (they number more than a thousand) and relish a rich history. With a charter dating to 1220, Dordrecht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands and became one of the most prosperous, gaining prestige and influence thanks to—again, water—as its harbor welcomed goods and boosted the wine trade. Certainly, you won’t want to trade any of your time spent in here this delightful Dutch destination.
 
A true Dutch treat—not only will you explore Dordrecht’s beautiful Old Town, discover its lovely canals and experience the lively marketplace but you will also venture to Kinderdijk to see the 19 authentic windmills, iconic symbols of the Netherlands and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 
Days 11- 14 Amsterdam, Netherlands (Overnight)
Experience what the Netherlands is best known for: art, flowers, canals and Anne Frank. Visit the famed Rijksmuseum, home to Golden Age masterpieces, most notably Rembrandt’s The Night Watch and Vermeer’s The Milkmaid. At the Anne Frank House, the third most visited museum in the Netherlands, see the reconstructed bookcase and empty rooms that concealed Anne, her family and four others for more than two years. Her original diary is also on display. Pay a call to the Rembrandt House, where the artist lived and worked in the 1650s, to discover original sketches and paintings and interiors furnished as they were during his time. Marvel at masterpieces of nature at the Aalsmeer Flower Auction, the largest flower auction in the world, and glorious Keukenhof, a 79-acre park known as the “Garden of Europe.” The sights are as numerous as the flowers as you enjoy even more, including a scenic morning canal cruise and an exploration of the Zaanse Schans Open-Air Museum, a re-recreated 17th-century village complete with windmills and artisan workshops.
 
Day 15 Antwerp, Belgium
What Milan is to Italy, Antwerp is to Belgium, a historic city that is on-trend with a finger on the pulse of fashion, art and entertainment. A dynamic energy fills Antwerp’s old squares, gorgeous with cobbled centers and edged, like a cake with decorative icing, by ornate buildings. High-reaching church towers and fountains with cherubic sculptures add to the feeling of antiquity, while the port—the largest in Belgium and one of the largest in the world—brings a sense of purpose and prosperity. Surely, you associate Antwerp with diamonds. More than 70 percent of all diamonds are traded through this sparkling city, one that also shines under the light of celebrated painter Peter Paul Rubens, who lived and worked in an Italianate city manse, now a museum.
 
Day 16 Cruising along the Rhine River - Nijmegen, Netherlands
Situated alongside the Waal River near the German border, Nijmegen marries classic waterside scenery with a unique regional history, touched by war. The city’s history is more than a little impressive, as Nijmegen is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, founded more than 2,000 years ago. A smattering of Roman ruins can be seen in town, including a remnant of the old city wall and foundations of the amphitheater. Major parts of the city itself were reduced to ruins during World War II: Allied bombing in 1944 and subsequent German shelling destroyed many of Nijmegen’s old buildings. Reconstruction brought a chance to introduce new architectural styles, making today’s Nijmegen an interesting amalgam of traditional and modern.
 
Day 17 Cologne, Germany
A scan of Cologne’s skyline offers a short-hand of a long essay of architecture, varying from the space-needle-type Rhine Tower to the avant-garde buildings along the river to the spectacular spires of the cathedral. One look at the magnificent church and you can’t help but draw a breath of amazement—the structure is enormous and intricately glorious, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Germany’s most visited landmark. Peel your eyes away from the famed Kölner Dom, as it is locally called, to discover other architectural notables, including remains of the Roman wall, a modern museum complex, the contemporary philharmonic hall, cozy beerhalls and the span of the Hohenzollern Bridge, reconstructed after the war.
 
Take flight to witness views of Cologne from the air, offering breathtaking perspectives on its architectural monuments, including the cathedral, and the river that winds through Germany’s oldest and fourth-largest city. Get a closer appreciation of Cologne Cathedral with a visit that brings to fore its staggering size: The church is Germany’s largest cathedral, the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and has the largest façade of any church in the world.
 
Day 18 Cochem, Germany
If a storybook village is to be found on the Mosel River, Cochem certainly is it, with its half-timbered buildings, steep terraced slopes, lush vineyards and a picturesque castle overlooking it all. A riverside promenade allows a chance to savor the atmosphere of the fairytale come to life. Walking along, you’ll take in the beauty of the surrounding hills, sometimes laced with mist, and see bridges spanning the lazy waters of the river. Perhaps you will feel somewhat lazy yourself, reluctant to move too quickly through a town seemingly stopped in time.
 
Make your way to the hilltop castle of Cochem, a romantic structure originally dating to the 12th century and rebuilt in 1868 by a wealthy German businessman, who fashioned the castle into today’s neo-Gothic masterpiece. Descend into the valley for an exploration of the Mosel wine region, renowned for superb Rieslings and captivating vistas.
 
Day 19 Koblenz, Germany - Cruising the Rhine River - Rüdesheim, Germany (overnight)
Located where the Rhine and Moselle rivers and three low mountain ranges meet, Koblenz has a leg up in the scenery department. Add to that the city’s 2,000-year-old history, hilltop fortress and squares lined by classic Germanic architecture and you have a place ready made for photographs. You might start by aiming your lens at the Deutsches Eck, or German Corner, where the rivers merge around a corner of land marked by a monument to Emperor William I. Ambling along the river promenade and exploring the town’s narrow lanes, you might encounter medieval churches, flower-filled parks, sidewalk cafes and perhaps a weinstube, or wine tavern, an ideal venue for sipping dry Riesling and drinking in the atmosphere.
 
If Rüdesheim’s scenic location on the Rhine Gorge doesn’t sweep you off your feet, then the town’s medieval Old Town with its half-timbered buildings and narrow lanes, especially the Drosselgasse overflowing with charming shops and taverns, surely will. Still more that promises to enchant and delight is the region’s renowned Rieslings, produced here for centuries from vineyards dating to Roman times. A glass of white wine or the other local specialty, Asbach brandy, sipped amid historic surroundings can make the heart flutter, not necessarily from the effects of the spirits but from the simple beauty of one of Germany’s, if not the world’s, most romantic locales. Enjoy and evening of libation, enjoying local wines and spirits as you lift your glass at the Drosselgasse, Rüdesheim’s impossibly cute medieval lane where locals and guests come to revel in good company and relish fine wines.
 
Day 20 Rüdesheim, Germany- Cruising the Rhine River - Mainz, Germany
If Rüdesheim’s scenic location on the Rhine Gorge doesn’t sweep you off your feet, then the town’s medieval Old Town with its half-timbered buildings and narrow lanes, especially the Drosselgasse overflowing with charming shops and taverns, surely will. Still more that promises to enchant and delight is the region’s renowned Rieslings, produced here for centuries from vineyards dating to Roman times. A glass of white wine or the other local specialty, Asbach brandy, sipped amid historic surroundings can make the heart flutter, not necessarily from the effects of the spirits but from the simple beauty of one of Germany’s, if not the world’s, most romantic locales.
 
Savor exceptional views as you board the cog railway for the ride to the summit of Niederwald Park overlooking the Rhine valley. At the Asbach Distillery, learn about the region’s famed Asbach brandy, produced here since 1892.
 
With roots as a Roman outpost that helped stand guard over the empire’s far-north territory, Mainz has a rich history. Unfortunately, much of it was obliterated during the bombing of Mainz during World War II, which destroyed most of the city center. What followed, as in much of Germany after the war, was a rebuilding, here relatively slow to allow for considered city planning and the involvement of renowned architects with a vision for urban livability. Today, Mainz is livable indeed, with a pretty location at the confluence of the Rhine and Main rivers and pedestrianized areas that invite leisurely strolls and stops to sample local wines. Architectural highlights include the Romanesque cathedral and the city’s remaining half-timbered buildings. Of course, most visitors associate Mainz with its cultural treasure, an original Gutenberg Bible—one of only a few dozen remaining copies—housed at the Gutenberg Museum.
 
A walk in Old Town lets you appreciate classic German lanes and buildings, spared from the bombings of World War II. No visit to Mainz is complete without a visit to the Gutenberg Museum to inspect a rare remaining copy of the Gutenberg Bible, famous for the first use of moveable type, along with other tomes dating from the 15th century.
 
Day 21 Speyer, Germany
Spared the destruction that befell much of Germany during World War II, Speyer is a preserved window on time, looking onto a history that reaches not only to the Roman age but farther back, to the time of settlement by the Celts. Cobbled streets wind through the centuries, passing half-timbered buildings, the remains of a medieval synagogue, fine museums and festive taverns, culminating at the town’s Romanesque cathedral, called Kaiserdom. Enormous both in scale and significance, the UNESCO-listed church dates to 1030 and houses the tombs of eight Holy Roman emperors and German kings. Look at it from any perspective—on the approach to its red sandstone walls, inside its vast interior spaces or within the context of time—and the basilica is a marvel, considered a hallmark of 11th- and 12th-century architecture.
 
Head to Heidelberg, home to Germany’s oldest university, to explore the charming baroque streets of Old Town and feel the intellectual energy of a city that inspired works of American author Mark Twain and British painter William Turner. In Speyer, take some physical energy to climb the 304 steps of the southwest tower of the magnificent cathedral, Kaiserdom, to admire astonishing views, or simply stand within its grandly vaulted nave to appreciate the sheer size of the largest Romanesque church in the world.
 
Day 22 Kehl, Germany
When you glimpse the steep-peaked, half-timbered buildings, the placid waters of narrow canals, flowers blooming on balconies and bridges, and old towers standing sentry over the scene, you know you have stepped into Strasbourg—either that, or the very pretty pages of a fairytale. Located just across the Rhine from Strasbourg, Kehl is your access point to the capital of the Alsace region, the seat of the European Parliament and, simply, one of the most photogenic old towns in existence. Strasbourg boasts a breathtakingly gorgeous Gothic cathedral (with the tallest cathedral tower in France), twisting alleyways, a sweet collection of the aforementioned half-timbered buildings and a charm that oozes from virtually every cozy corner of Grande Île, or “Large Island,” the first city center to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 
Day 23 Breisach, Germany
Situated along the Rhine about halfway between the supremely scenic towns of Freiburg and Colmar, Breisach is the perfect place from which to launch explorations into the surrounding Black Forest. Yet there is much to keep travelers within the embrace of this lively city, including its Romanesque church with late-Gothic altar and cobbled streets lined by pastel-hued buildings. Just a few miles west of Breisach is the remarkable star-shaped fortress town of Neuf-Brisach, or New Breisach, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 
Days 24 & 25 Basel, Switzerland (overnight) 
On the three-border intersection of Switzerland, Germany and France and unfolding in two sections from the banks of the Rhine, Basel has an international flair, a cultural vibrancy and is picturesque besides. A medieval town center invites exploration by foot, while an abundance of museums and galleries suggest an indoor stroll amid works of art and relics of history. The Museum of Fine Arts is home to the world’s oldest art collection accessible to the public. The city itself hosts Switzerland’s oldest university, dating to 1460. Antiquity may be Basel’s strong suit, as it is in much of Europe, but this corner of Switzerland also reveals a more modern countenance: Architects Herzog & de Meuron, best known for the design of the Tate Modern in London and the Bird’s Nest in Beijing, and Frank Gehry of Bilbao Guggenheim Museum fame have contributed their considerable talents to buildings here. 
 
Day 26 Cruising along the Rhine River
 
Day 27 Frankfurt, Germany 
A high-powered international business hub with a bohemian spirit, Frankfurt is a city of contrasts. Although it’s home to futuristic skyscrapers and one of the world’s largest stock exchanges, it also hosts simpler and more traditional charms, like the famed medieval buildings in the Altstadt, or the old town; lush parks, forest areas, riverside pathways and botanical gardens that encompass more than half the city; a renowned collection of museums and galleries; and vibrant cider pubs where revelers from all over the world gather to raise a glass. In fact, Frankfurt is known for its multicultural diversity, with more than 180 nationalities represented among its residents.

All This Included
  • Butler service
  • All meals included, most featuring the culinary excellence of celebrated chefs, with a local flair
  • Unlimited onboard refreshments, including fine wines, champagne, premium spirits and all non-alcoholic beverages such as bottled water, soft drinks and specialty coffees
  • Choice of guidedCrystal Adventures® shore excursion in every port
  • Gratuities for housekeeping, dining and bar staff
  • Interactive TV system with in-suite movies on demand, an extensive
  • music library and Internet access
  • Authentic regional, local and seasonal wine and beer offerings, where available
  • Complimentary airport transfers on days of embarkation and disembarkation
  • 24-hour room service
  • Onboard enrichment programs and entertainment
Accommodations on this Tour
cabin on Crystal Bach
Notes
  • Cabin upgrades are available.
  • Port charges of $640 per person are not included in the prices shown above.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines. Sorry, we are unable to offer air from countries other than the U.S. However, for those international customers who are able to arrange their own transportation to the trip origination city, we are able to offer the land/cruise portion of the package at the price quoted.



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