There is nowhere more beautiful place in Spring than Amsterdam, Netherlands. Catch Tulipmania by visiting gardens with thousands of the brightest most beautiful tulips blooming in every shade of the rainbow.
In 2015 I took Grand Circle Cruise Line trip, named 2017 Holland & Belgium in Springtime, and loved it. It seems that everyone else did also since the reviews give it an 87% traveler excellence rating – amongst the highest in the industry. Visit these cities and countries in this great European river cruise – Belgium: Antwerp, Ghent • The Netherlands: Veere, Kinderdijk, Rotterdam, Arnhem, Enkhuizen, Amsterdam. Travel on the nicely appointed private fleet, of small ships, of up to 140 passengers specifically designed for American Travelers. Yes, it makes a difference. An Americans idea of comfort includes big towels, air conditioning and lots of ice – not so for European travelers. They do not expect air conditioning at all. Americans would melt without it – at least this one would.
Beautiful natural scenery, charming historic villages and lots of friendly people make this a very enjoyable trip. Enjoy rural landscapes of lush beauty, sparkling waterways and Dutch canals and marvel at the awakening Springtime in the full-color garden at Keukenhof Flower Park. Also, visit a tulip farm and learn how Dutch flower farmers grow and supply the world with sweet flowers. Cruise down an old canal to view the most famous windmills in the world Kinderdijk and new this year and bonus the city of Arnhem. This town was depicted in the blockbuster film A Bridge Too Far about Allied World War II efforts. Relaxation and rewarding experiences await you on this excellent river cruise package.
Traveler Reviews – Experts and Quotes
89% of reviewers would recommend this trip to their friends and family.
“Riverboat cruising the way to go. It is so nice to walk off the ship and walk into small towns. The line is not fancy, although they do have a couple of new ships, the boat is spotless! The crew are constantly cleaning and maintaining the ship. Every crew member was friendly, and we often got greeted by the Captain when getting on or off the ship. Staff knew our names within a couple of days and the Program Directors were very good, Jorn, Steven, and Rebecca. They were, funny, knowledgeable, entertaining and also nice to hear about their personal life in Netherlands, growing up or moving there, they made our trip. Housekeeping staff was very good, and rooms were often made up by the time we returned from breakfast.
We were a little worried about the accommodations in the room as it is two twin beds. It was fine, the beds were comfortable, and in fact, you can raise the head of the mattress up so when watching tv it was quite comfortable. We even managed one evening to enjoy an impromptu pre-dinner party in our room, there were 7 of us, and it was fine.
So typical day is up and breakfast between 7 am – 9 am. Omelet and egg station every morning, buffet breakfast hot and cold and continental plus a made to order special breakfast every morning. Then out and into town. We would have a 1 to 1.5-hour walking tour of the town, which was great because most things don’t open until 10 am or 11 am, so it wasn’t busy and easy to see and hear. Also, we noticed other cruise lines didn’t start their walking tours until later so it became very crowded on the days that other lines were in the area. GCT had a very good audio system (new this year), and if you take your headset instead of the little ear pieces they have it is very good (plus if you have a headset it helps keep your ears warm in cooler weather!
Then you had the rest of the time to wander around the town on your own. Lunch in town or back on the ship. Lunch was a buffet with fresh salad, cheese, cold cuts, sandwiches, pasta station and also a planned menu. Lots to choose from and always fresh and so well plated.
Typically in the afternoon, there was another impromptu walking tour with the guides. One day Rebecca took people into Rotterdam and went into a shopping center to go to grocery stores etc. Which although I was on another tour that afternoon I am sure would have been very interesting. Then in Antwerp, one of the other passengers grew up there during the war, and during the afternoon tour of Jewish section, etc., he showed people were he lived and told his story….Mum said it was great (Steve and I were off on our own exploring the city). You get lots of time to wander, explore on your own or with other people and in some cases we were in port overnight so you could go out in the evening if you wanted.
Then next day port tour talk is around 6:30 in the lounge while everyone was chatting about the day and enjoying a glass or two of wine before dinner. Dinner at 7:00 pm. For lunch and Dinner, you always had a protein, fish and vegetarian hot dish to choose from. The meals on Celebrity are very good, these, for the most part, were better. You need all the walking around town you can get!
If you have any allergies or special food requirements, David our Restaurant Manager was right on it. I am allergic to nuts and shellfish. Not a problem he would let me know which items were not available to me and also if there was an item that could be modified if I wanted it.
Hoorn Tipo – a great 20th-century museum near where ship docked. It shows family life through the decades. It is quite funny to see items that you grew up with now in a museum. Great for a wander around for about 1 hour, and I think the cost was 7 Euros.
There were optional tours available, which were well run and not expensive, typically $65 each, which is a far cry from the typical $150+ on big cruise lines. And because you are so close to town the longest bus ride we had was about 30 minutes, so it wasn’t two hours in a bus, two hours at the site and then two hours bus ride back. Also, you had free time, but you weren’t parked in a tourist trap with no where to go as we have experienced on other lines. You were left to wander the town and meet locals etc. The big issue I had and I think truly needs to be addressed is that they need to enforce use of hand sanitizer. Yes there is sanitizer at doorway on/off ship and in/out dinning room, but we often saw people just walk on by. Our cruise had a pretty severe chest infection going around and also stomach virus. They actually did get a doctor to come on board for a number of passengers. We slathered ourselves with sanitizer, on and off buses, in and our of public areas, didn’t use the hand rails on stairs when boat stationary etc. We were lucky and managed not to get sick. In such a confined area any type of virus spreads like wildfire. It doesn’t take much to help stop spread, tour director squirting hands on and off bus, on and off ship when going on tours and dinning staff during meal times. It does take time, and staff, but better results. The internet was for the most part very good. It was a bit of a pain to have to keep getting passwords etc. It would be better if you were given a password etc., that would last for the whole trip.”
“From the moment we stepped on the ship we knew we were in great hands. From the first hello to the last good-bye everyone on the ship was so friendly. All three program directors went out of their way to make sure everyone was informed on scheduled activities to what to do in our own time on each stop. Thank goodness we had walking tours or all the wonderful meals would still be on our hips. Our director, Marloes, was so personable and really wanted each of us to know her country. We were able to see the tulips at their peek, and getting to pick our own was beyond wonderful. We extended in Bruges and despite the cold weather had a marvelous time. Old buildings, canals, and fantastic chocolate! A trip to Flanders Field is a must for anyone extending. This was our 7th trip, and it certainly will not be our last. If you want to see beautiful flowers and wonderful cities and small towns this trip is for you.”
My Favorite Moment of the Trip – Visiting 16th-century Windmill at Kinderdijk
You travel by glass top boat down a quiet canal with the 19 windmills flanking the coast. UNESCO protects These exceptionally well-maintained structures since 1997. Perhaps you remember the fable about a child (the kinder) a cradle and a cat that all lived to tell the tale when the flood waters washed them away from their home. Windmills were used to drain the water from the often flooded land. These ingenious feats of engineering used the wind, sometimes with a sail attached, to power the pumps to fix water levels.