Tulips & Windmills
Discover river cruising with these spectacular voyages.
River cruises offer guests the chance to get up-close and personal with their surroundings. Land is never out of sight, and the beautiful passing countryside combined with the “unpack once” convenience of a cruise has made river cruising one of the most popular ways to explore Europe.
One itinerary in particular has proven to be exceptionally popular, especially for beginning river cruisers: the famous springtime Tulips and Windmills voyages.
Typically operated between late March and early May, these river cruises sail throughout the Netherlands and Belgium, and offer guests the chance to experience the rich history of these regions along with their natural springtime beauty and famous flowers. In fact, more than 70 percent of the world’s flower supply comes from this one region alone; impressive if you consider how many flowers there are.
So popular are these cruises that they’re offered by nearly every river cruise line, including AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways, Tauck World Discovery, Uniworld, and Viking River Cruises. If you’ve never been to this region of Northern Europe before, or have never taken a river cruise, these voyages are the perfect starting point.
Not into flowers or windmills? There’s still plenty to enjoy here. The Netherlands is famous for its cheese, and there’s nothing like “real” Belgian chocolate to stimulate the taste buds.
So what does a typical Tulips and Windmills itinerary look like? Have a look at this itinerary operated by AmaWaterways:
Day 1 – Embarkation in Amsterdam.
Day 2 – Amsterdam, Volendam and Edam – In the morning, cruise through the canals of Amsterdam, followed by a driving tour and free time to explore this cosmopolitan city before setting sail along the Ijsselmeer, bound for beautiful Volendam. Once there, guests can elect to explore Volendam or take a bicycle ride through the countryside to Edam, famous for the cheese that bears its name.
Day 3 – Arnhem and Njmegen – The site of the Battle of Arnhem bridge, Arnhem saw substantial action during World War II, and was the site of the battle depicted in the movie, A Bridge Too Far. Today, it is a major city center and features numerous attractions, like one of the largest Zoo’s in the Netherlands. Upon returning to the ship for lunch, you will set sail for Njmegen, where you’ll have free time to explore on your own. In the evening, your ship will sail out of the Netherlands and into Belgium.
Day 4- Antwerp, Belgium – The diamond-centric city of Antwerp offers an incredible number of sites and historic locations to take in, like the 1351-built Cathedral of Our Lady, the Old Market Square, and the city’s famous Diamond District. If you’ve already been, or are looking for something different, why not take in the optional excursion to nearby Brussels?
Day 5 – Ghent, Belgium – The fourth largest city in Belgium, Ghent offers up its substantial medieval charm in a modern setting. There’s even an actual medieval castle in the center of town, appropriately named “The Castle of the Counts.” As with Antwerp, an optional excursion is also available in Ghent to Brugges, Belgium. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Brugges remains one of the most impressive and untouched medieval cities in all of Europe. It’s also a great place to sample some of the local Belgian chocolate.
Day 6 – Willemstad, Kinderdijk, and Schoonhoven, Holland. In the morning, enjoy a walk through beautiful Willemstad. Arriving in the afternoon, Kinderdijk showcases nineteen amazingly well-preserved windmills, some dating back to the 1500s. It’s hard to imagine, but at one time more than 10,000 of these graced the Dutch countryside. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Kinderdijk windmills are sure to impress. An evening stop in Schoonhoven rounds out the day.
Day 7 – Utrecht, Keukenhof, Amsterdam. There’s time in the morning to explore Utrecht and Keukenhof, including the famous Keukenhof Gardens. After lunch, arrive in Amsterdam for another evening onboard your ship, and another chance to explore this fascinating city. Disembark the following morning.
Every river cruise line features slightly different Tulips & Windmills itineraries, and it is worth looking at each line’s offerings before making a decision. Some call on slightly different ports, or have a slightly different length, with the common feature being ports in both the Netherlands and Belgium.
Curious to know more? Why not check out our River Cruise Line profiles right here on River Cruise Advisor, and start planning your springtime river voyage? These cruises can be very popular, so it does pay to book in advance.