Barging in Holland: Dutch Tulip Cruise
Between Rotterdam and Gouda
Enjoy a river barge cruise through Holland aboard the luxury Dutch Hotel Barge Aurora as she takes you to lovely towns and flourishing cities. From the quaint town of Schiedam (outside Rotterdam) to scholastic Leiden; from delicate hand-painted porcelain in Delft to the Keukenhof Gardens with the largest display of flowers in the world; from an exciting cruise through Amsterdam to the windmills of Zaanse Schans – there is never a dull moment. Experience the best the Netherlands has to offer with a barge charter aboard Aurora. Great tours, awesome cruising, and delicious cuisine make this a week to remember.
Sunday, Day 1 - Schiedam (Rotterdam)
You are met by your chauffeur at either your hotel or the airport and transferred to Aurora, moored in the quaint and fascinating town of Schiedam, 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, its historic boat harbor, plus Schiedam is also famous for its Jenever (Dutch gin) distilleries; the most famous being the Nolet distillery (we are moored right under their mill). Take time for a leisurely walk around the old town and visit the gin museum and tasting room, or perhaps the Euromast observation tower for panoramic views of Rotterdam.
Monday, Day 2 - Rotterdam / Delft / Leiden
While enjoying your first gourmet breakfast, Aurora begins your cruise. While admiring the skyline of Rotterdam, we take a turn right under Euromast – the highest viewpoint of Holland. Aurora passes through the “Parksluis” lock and arrives on the quiet, small river Schie, leading us to the 16th-century town of Delft with its world famous Delft Blue.
We visit a Delft tableware factory, just a few minutes' walk from our mooring, to learn firsthand 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 – Visit The Hague – tour the Mauritshuis (with works by Rembrandt and Vermeer), Binnenhof (the Parliament and government buildings), or the Peace palace.
– OR – visit Madurodam – a miniature depiction of Holland with replicas of historically significant buildings.
Aurora continues cruising towards 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 town centre with many churches, historic city gates and courts, almshouses, mills, and many museums.
Tuesday, Day 3 - Haarlem
Leaving the university town of Leiden, we cruise past beautiful lakes and colourful flower fields towards the historical, cosmopolitan, and truly picturesque city of Haarlem, which dates 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 magnificent buildings such as late Gothic masterpiece St. Bavo’s Cathedral on the main square, where both Handel and Mozart played the magnificent Muller organ there.
Dream back in time and 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).
– OR – experience the atmosphere of the many historic courts. You will have some free time to visit 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 – another option is 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, with the largest display of flowers in the world, having over 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 immersed in the heady scents during this unforgettable excursion.
– OR – an excursion to the Frans Hals portrait Gallery. Frans Hals the Elder was a Dutch Golden Age painter, mainly of portraits, who lived and worked in Haarlem.
Wednesday, Day 4 - Zaandam / Zaanse Schans
This morning we cruise past many fields of tulips 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 comprises authentic houses and windmills, a historic shipyard, a pewter factory, a cheese and dairy farm, and a grocery store dating back to the 1900‘s. In Zaanse Schans you can visit 6 working windmills, a clog maker, a cheese maker, and a mustard mill – find everything that the Dutch are famous for 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 attractions.
Thursday, Day 5 - 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 many canal houseboats where the small canals and architecture transport 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:
– Amsterdam: a quick tour pointing out some of the city highlights plus a visit of one of the many museums (Rijksmuseum, van Gogh museum, Diamond museum, or Anne Frank house).
– Volendam and/or Marken: visit the traditional fishing villages where one can admire the original atmosphere in 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, make for a true blast from the past.
Friday, Day 6 - Aalsmeer/ Gouda
For the early risers is an optional morning tour to the colourful Aalsmeer Flower auction, where 17 million cut flowers from all over the world are traded each day. Upon return to Aurora, we set off on a breakfast cruise to the nearby quaint medieval town of Gouda known as 'the Mecca of Cheese', and famous for their smoking pipes.
In Gouda we see the 123-meter tall, Gothic Sint Janskerk Church, known for its magnificent stained glass windows, that is on the UNESCO list of Dutch monuments. There will be time to explore Gouda’s beauty, the picture-perfect town hall and square, plus the Waag which has been weighing the famous Gouda cheese since 1668.
Saturday, Day 7 - Gouda & Return to Schiedam
After breakfast and a short 2-hour cruise through the center of Rotterdam, guests are transferred by private chauffeured minibus to Amsterdam.
NOTE: This is a sample itinerary. Excursions are tailor-made to suit your interests.