Highlights of Holland
Routing: Schiedam to Amsterdam
Canal and river cruising in Europe is a relaxing experience that is inherently flexible in nature. The following itinerary is a SAMPLE of the places that you can expect to see and visit during your cruise.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included on board daily, beginning with dinner on Sunday and ending with breakfast on Saturday. Open bar, all excursions, and transfers, Internet access Wi Fi 24 /7 subject to availability
Water levels, waterway traffic, and maintenance of canals and locks have an effect on canal and river cruising itineraries. Some waterways are subject to occasional closures because of drought, storms, floods, canal/lock repairs, or other unforeseen circumstances. In the event of such occurrences, the appropriate itinerary changes will need to be made.
Day #1 Sunday
We will bring from either your hotel or the airport to our first night’s mooring spot – in the quaint and fascinating town of Schiedam, situated on the outskirts of Rotterdam. This little town has some amazing sights including six of the world’s largest working traditional windmills, a glass museum, a chocolate art factory, historic boat harbor plus it is also famous for it’s Jenever (Dutch gin) distilleries – the most famous being the Nolet distillery (we are moored right under their mill).
So for the connoiseurs a visit to the gin museum and tasting room combined with a leisurely walk around the old town is a must! OR visit the Euromast
Day #2 Monday
Rotterdam/ Delft/ Leiden
While enjoying your first gourmet breakfast aboard Aurora,we begin our cruise while admiring the skyline of Rotterdam and take a turn right under Euromast – the highest viewpoint of Holland .We pass through the “Parksluis” lock and arrive on the quiet small river Schie, which leads us to 16th century town of Delft with its world famous Delft Blue.
We visit a Delft tableware factory, just minutes walk from our hotel barge mooring to learn first-hand from the artisans how this world-famous porcelain is made. You will also have free time during the afternoon to explore Delft further – so you can individually visit the Nieuwe Kerk (with the tomb of William of Orange and other royals as they rest in peace), Oude Kerk, Vermeer centre (for the admirers of the famous painter), the Town hall and the eastern Gate.
OR optional visit, trip to the Hague – visit the Mauritshuis (with works by Rembrandt or Vermeer), Binnenhof (the Parliament and government buildings) or the Peace palace
OR visit Madurodam – a miniature Holland depiction with replikas of historically significant buildings
The barge continues cruising onto our tonight’s mooring destination in the town of Leiden – home to one of the oldest universities in the country and the birthplace of the famous Rembrandt Van Rijn. Leiden is an ancient and impressive historical city (city rights since 1266) full of charm and character. Perfect for those who like to cycle, or simply stroll the banks of the pretty tree lined canals. In the evening you can take a stroll through the historic centre with many churches, historic city gates and courts, almshouses and mills and many museums (Stedelijk-municipal, Boerhaave-science and medicine, Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde- ethnological, Naturalis-national natural).
Day #3 Tuesday
Upon leaving the university town of Leiden we cruise on past some beautiful lakes and colourful flower fields towards the historical cosmopolitan and truly picturesque city of Haarlem, dating back to the 13th Century. Haarlem is home to the Frans Hals Museum founded in 1862 with its vast collection of Old Masters. Other highlights include many great buildings such as late Gothic masterpiece St. Bavo’s Cathedral on the main square, graced by the fact that both Handel and Mozart played the magnificent Muller organ there.
Come face to face with the 13th century town hall, the magnificent Butchers’ hall (Vleeshal) built by Lieven de Key and the Fish auction hall (Vishal) and dream back in time. Or experience the atmosphere of the many historic courts. You will have some free time visiting a fine selection of boutique shops. Complete this day with an evening walk along the quiet canals to the market square with its café terraces or take a canal boat tour through picturesque arched bridges.
OR option to visit Keukenhof. This afternoon marks a cruise highlight if flowers are your passion, with a walk through the world famous Keukenhof Gardens. Known as the garden of Europe, this largest display of flowers in the world, with more than 100 acres filled with over 7 million flowering bulbs,varieties of tulips and hyacinths. We stroll through 32 hectares of gloriously breathtaking waves of colour and immerse in the heady scents during this unforgettable excursion.
Or: visit Frans Hals portrait Gallery.
Day #4 Wednesday
Zaandam/ Zaanse Schans
Our morning cruise is taken up viewing the fields of tulips drifting by as we head north up the Spaarne to the region of Zaandam with its traditional Dutch green ‘dollhouse’ architecture. In the afternoon we tour Zaanse Schans, an open air conservation area and museum, giving you a vivid impression of the Dutch way of life in the 17th and 18th centuries.
This historical area consists of authentic houses and windmills, an historic shipyard, pewter factory, a cheese and dairy farm and an age-old grocery store dating back to the 1900‘s. In Zaanse Schans you can visit 6 working windmills, a clog maker and a cheese maker and mustard mill – everything that the Dutch are famous for can be encountered here in this tiny village. A real treat and an ‘absoluut’ must for anyone traveling to Holland. Zaanse Schans is one of Holland’s top tourist.
Day #5 Thursday
Amsterdam/ Alphen aan den Rijn
From Zaandam we will cruise onto Amsterdam, through the heart and the very centre of the city; we pass 10 lifting bridges and numerous canal houseboats where the small canals and architecture will take you back to a previous century. We then head along through the beautiful lake area to our mooring for the night in the Alphen aan den Rijn.
Options for today:
a) Amsterdam: a quick tour with pointing out some of the city highlights plus a visit of one of the numerous musuems (Rijksmuseum, van Gogh museum, Diamond museum or Anne frank house)
b) Volendam and/or Marken: visit of the traditional fishing villages, where one can admire the original atmosphere retaining its wooden houses. In Marken there is a cheese factory and a clog-making workshop. In Volendam, the old world-famous village, one can admire and soak up the past traditional folk costumes casually worn by the locals in the maze of narrow streets, wooden houses and little canals. A blast from the past!
Day #6 Friday
Optional very early rise and morning tour is to the colourful Aalsmeer Flower auction, where some 17 million cut flowers from all over the world are traded here each day. Upon return to the hotel barge we set off for a breakfast cruise to the nearby quaint medieval town of Gouda or the Mecca of cheese and the smoking pipes.
The large 123m tall fascinating Gothic church of Sint Janskerk in Gouda is known especially for its magnificent stained glass windows, for which it has been placed on the UNESCO list of Dutch monuments – so don’t forget to admire it! There will be time to explore Gouda’s beauty, the picture-perfect town hall and square plus the Waag where the famous Gouda cheese has been weighed since 1668. Take a peek inside one of the cheese shops!
Day #7 Saturday
Back to Schiedam
Today we will be sadly saying our farewell and after your last wonderful breakfast on board you will then be driven to the designated drop off point (airport or the hotel of your choice).
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Contact: Cruise Ship Aurora: 7-day cruise through Holland or France!