Tauck’s beautiful new ms Inspire was bathed in the amber glow of sunlight filtered through a thin layer of wispy fog as dawn broke on the day that was to be Saturday, April 12, 2014. It was one of those bizarrely perfect sunrises; the ones where everything seems to have mysteriously aligned to produce a dazzling, postcard-perfect sight.
That I should begin my morning by viewing this amazing landscape from a ship called the Inspire is decidedly appropriate.
The official program for today:
- 6:00am – 10:00am Light breakfast in Arthur’s, Deck 3 aft.
- 7:00am – 8:00am Full breakfast in the Compass Rose Dining Room.
- 8:30am – depart the ship for a tour to Neeltje Jans where we will learn about the massive Delta Works project. Bring your “Voxes.”
- 12:30pm – Lunch in Arthur’s, Deck 3, aft. Today’s feature: nasi goreng
- 12:30pm – Buffet lunch in the Compass Rose Dining Room
- 12:45pm – All aboard! Inspire departs for Middelburg
- 2:00pm – Inspire arrives in Middelburg
- 2:45pm – We invite you to the Main Lounge to meet some traditionally-dressed locals and sample a “bolus”, a local treat.
- 3:00pm – Depart the ship for a guided walking tour of the beautiful town of Middelburg. As always, you may skip the tour and visit Middelburg at your leisure.
- 5:30pm – 6:30pm Cocktail Hour in the Panorama Lounge
- 5:45pm – Discovery Briefing in the Panorama Lounge
- 6:00pm – 8:00pm Enjoy dinner in the Compass Rose Dining Room. Open seating.
- 6:30pm – Steakhouse Dinner in Arthur’s. See Reception for the menu and reservations. Please make your booking before 2:00pm.
- After Dinner: join us in the Panorama Lounge for dessert, drinks and dancing.
- 7:45pm – All aboard! M.S. Inspire departs Middelburg.
- 05:00am – M.S. Inspire arrives in Antwerp, Belgium
Initially, I wasn’t going to tour the Neeltje Jans – or Delta Works – project. But our Dutch Tauck Director Joeri convinced me to take part in it. I had planned on going for a stroll through the small town of Veere in which the Inspire was docked, but as we each helped ourselves to the ship’s stunning breakfast buffet, he said it would be well worth my time.
To put this in perspective: it’s five after eight in the morning. The coaches for the tour leave at eight thirty, giving me twenty-five minutes to tap down breakfast. But Joeri is from the Netherlands and he, like the other Tauck Directors, really knows how to connect with the guests. And I appreciated his advice: “Veere is pretty,” he said. “But the Netherlands is full of pretty towns.” In other words: there’s only one Delta Works Project. And it is quite the sight to behold.
In 1953, the Netherlands experienced flooding on a scale never before seen. The Hurricane Katrina of the Zeeland province, damage to property and livelihoods was severe. Existing defences broke down, allowing the water unprecedented access to the countryside. The devastating effect of the floodwater was particularly personal for the Dutch, who immediately began preparations to ensure that a flood of that magnitude could never happened again.