The stunning bulbfields really are an amazing sight. In Keukenhof Park there are a staggering 7 million blooms covering 80 acres in a riot of colour whilst imaginative landscaping shows off mother-nature at her outstanding best with shimmering lakes, water-gardens and flowering shrubs of every hue.
You will also explore the Ijsselmeer, the inland lagoon created by the damming of the Zyder Zee in the 1930’s and discover the series of beautiful villages along its shore which have made their living from the sea for centuries. It was from here during the 16th century Golden Age, that the Dutch roamed the world in search of the spices, silks and luxury goods which Europe’s aristocracy craved and today they are little changed since this time. Blend this with Amsterdam, one of Europe’s most vibrant and fascinating cities and a wonderful few days are in store.
- Flights direct from Edinburgh or Glasgow, transfers and airport taxes
- Full board from dinner on your day of arrival until breakfast on your final day
- Packed lunch when travelling on any of the full day excursions by coach
- Morning/afternoon tea and coffee
- All visits and excursions as mentioned in the brochure
- Airport transfers
- Travel to and from port of embarkation
- Services of a Travel Tour Manager
ARRIVAL IN AMSTERDAM
You can fly to Amsterdam from a variety of airports or take a late morning Eurostar from London St Pancras International changing trains in Brussels (you will be accompanied by our Tour Manager), to Amsterdam. Here you will be taken to the ship where the dedicated crew welcome you on board, ensuring you settle into your comfortable and extremely well-equipped cabin and familiarise yourself with the ship, your first-class floating hotel.
KEUKENHOF & HOORN
After your first breakfast on board, this morning we drive through the heart of the astonishing bulbfields themselves to the world-famous Keukenhof Gardens and one of the real highlights of the tour. Nothing quite prepares you for the dazzling array of colours stretched out before you, as the flat fertile coastal plain is illuminated by a natural display unrivalled anywhere else on the planet. At Keukenhof, the art of the flower garden reaches breathtaking heights as you marvel at the dramatic pageant of hues in the seven million blooms set amongst a delightful landscape of shimmering lakes, ancient trees, flowering shrubs and beautiful water gardens covering a staggering 80 acres. The wonderful variety in design, colour and scent gives each individual garden a unique character and a wealth of inspiration for your own little patch back home!
We then return to the Lord Byron in time for a late lunch, as the luxurious Lord Byron gently cruises along the Markermeer, the southwestern part of the great IJsselmeer lagoon, created when the Zuiderzee dam was constructed, separating it from the North Sea. This mammoth engineering achievement reclaimed huge tracts of land using the unique Dutch talent for such projects, honed over hundreds of years of battling the mighty sea.
This afternoon we dock in the small town of Hoorn. Reminiscent of another age, it is a delightful mixture of 15th to 19th century leaning houses, imposing brick-built mercantile warehouses, cobbled squares and twisting alleys. Once its ships traded all over the known world, with one such intrepid sailor even naming the southernmost tip of South America after his home town – Cape Horn! We spend the night here so why not take a stroll after dinner.
VOLENDAM & ENKHUIZEN
Today we take the short drive to the traditional fishing village of Volendam. This delightful village really is a picture of Holland as it used to be centuries ago. It retains much of its old-world charm and it is not hard to imagine the hardworking fishermen returning with the morning’s catch and the women sat repairing their nets in front of the rows of quaint wooden cottages lining the picturesque waterfront. The villagers are renowned for still wearing traditional Dutch dress, including the ladies’ white pinafores and curved bonnets, and you may catch a glimpse of them arm in arm, during an enjoyable stroll around the Doolhoof – the maze of tiny, narrow alleys and confusing jumble of houses nestling safely behind the waterfront dyke.
Returning to the ship for lunch, we watch the picturesque shoreline slide by as we cruise to Enkhuizen, nestling at the edge of the old Zuiderzee. During the 17th Century Golden Age the Netherlands dominated world maritime trade, becoming fabulously prosperous and Enkhuizen, as one of the country’s principal ports was no exception. Merchants keen to spend their newly acquired wealth created the quaint town you see today and in celebration of this illustrious past, one of the county’s best museums has been created, the Zuiderzee Museum. Here in a large park is a superb recreation of 19th century local life, with actors in period costumes demonstrating essential skills of the time in a truly authentic setting. There is a sail maker’s, fish smokehouse, blacksmith’s, clog maker’s, a variety of shops, dressmaker’s and a host of other fascinating things to experience should you wish. Of course if you prefer to stay aboard, catch up on some reading or enjoy a coffee in the comfortable ambience of the lounge, the choice is yours.
We are berthed here this evening too, so after dinner you can take an atmospheric walk along the quayside.
Expectation mounts as during breakfast we gently cruise into Amsterdam, one of the world’s most fascinating, unique and beautiful cities. The classic glass-topped canal cruisers meet us, taking us on a sightseeing tour by this most appropriate of means – following the canals! The tour brings a real insight into Amsterdam’s history, art and peoples which has been at the heart of European culture and commerce for many centuries and often a fierce rival to British ambitions!
You will see a fascinating variety of sights: gabled-roofed buildings along the picturesque canal-side waterfronts, outstanding museums, bridges immortalised by the great artists and the homes of Old Masters like Rembrandt and of the heroine Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl whose diaries tell such a poignant and extraordinarily moving tale of life under the Nazis.
After lunch on board, this afternoon is free to perhaps discover the interior of Anne’s house, or just wander where your feet take you, ambling along the picturesque canals, dodging Amsterdammers astride their bicycles, the most popular means of transport here which adds to the wonderfully relaxed ambience pervading the city. For the more culturally minded, spend time in one of the world’s great art galleries: the Rijksmuseum has an astonishing collection of 5,000 remarkable works by Vermeer, Rembrandt and a host of others, or perhaps, appropriately for Amsterdam, visit the nearby Van Gogh Museum with the world’s largest collection of masterpieces by this disturbed, yet genius of an artist. There is much of his early work here, together with such masterpieces as: Bedroom in Arles, The Wheatfield and of course, the iconic Sunflowers.
Alternatively you may prefer to simply relax in one of the unique pavement cafés absorbing Amsterdam’s special atmosphere over a rich Dutch coffee, before returning to the ship for the Captain’s very special dinner and a chance to chat with like-minded people, reflecting on the many and varied faces of Holland which has always reserved such a warm welcome for its British visitors.
This morning at the appropriate time, we transfer to the train station or airport for our return journey.