Explore Holland’s glorious gardens and waterways. There’s no better time to visit the gardens of Appeltern, Utrecht and Keukenhof than in spring, when tulips and daffodils are in full bloom. Look forward to exploring these beautiful parks independently and at your own pace on included excursions. You’ll also get to admire the fantastic floral displays of Holland’s annual Flower Parade that arrives in Haarlem during your visit.
Travel by air, or by coach from Folkestone to Amsterdam via Eurotunnel or ferry and embark Rex Rheni. Enjoy a welcome reception and dinner as you cruise towards Zaandam, arriving later tonight.
Day 2 - Zaandam
Look forward to an included full-day excursion to the famous Keukenhof gardens, also known as the ‘garden of Europe’. More than seven million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths fill the park with vibrant colour and fragrance. The park is on land originally attached to a castle (which is opposite the current gardens) and used for hunting and growing herbs for the castle kitchen – hence the name which translates as ‘kitchen garden’. The first open-air exhibition, to promote the region’s bulb growers and flower exporters, was held here in 1949. Now the exhibition is an annual event lasting eight weeks and featuring various events and themed displays. During your visit you can admire dazzling displays of millions of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths and visit flower and plant shows in the pavilions. Perhaps pick up ideas for your own garden…. Of course, the tulip displays are weather dependent, but they’re normally in bloom from mid-March to mid-May.
Day 3 - Haarlem
Today you may like to venture into the city centre to take a closer look at the colourful floral displays. The attractive market square, Grote Markt, is home to an impressive 14th-century Town Hall and St Bavo’s church.
Day 4 - Maasbommel
Arrive in Maasbommel early this morning from where an included half-day excursion visits Appeltern Gardens. Highlights here include gardens installed by Wild Wealth who encourage natural gardening and offer ideas that you can apply to your own garden. There’s also a Living Garden made up of five themed areas where you’ll find space dedicated to edible plants and another to attract insects, birds and small animals. You’re sure to leave the park feeling inspired! Your ship remains moored in Masbommel overnight.
Day 5 - Masbommel to Utrecht
Enjoy a relaxing morning on board your ship, arriving in Utrecht around midday for an included half-day trip to Utrecht Botanical Gardens. Originally called Hortus medicus, the gardens were first laid out in 1639 and are one of the oldest university gardens in the Netherlands. They were installed for students of medicine and played an important role in the development of systematic botany in the Netherlands. The gardens incorporate six different areas, including a Rock Garden said to be one of Europe’s finest, Tropical Greenhouses and an Outer Fort where marsh marigold and huge skunk cabbage flourish in the spring. Remain moored in Utrecht overnight.
Day 6 - Utrecht to Amsterdam
Set sail from Utrecht this morning and return to Amsterdam for an overnight mooring. An optional excursion visits Amsterdam’s botanical gardens, one of the oldest in the world. A peaceful retreat from the hubbub of the city, the attractive grounds incorporate three impressive greenhouses: the Palm House where some of the world’s oldest plants are kept, the three-climate greenhouse with its subtropical plants, and the butterfly house. Alternatively, you can join an excursion to Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s largest park, or just do your own thing – exploring the tree-shaded canals, colourful cafes and historic buildings of this lively city.
Day 7 - Amsterdam to UK
Disembark after breakfast and return to the UK.