- Capital idea
- Utrecht Botanical Gardens
Flowers of Holland
Dutch and Belgian Waterways
- No fly
- VIP on selected river cruises
- Full board
Discover the floral highlights of the lowlands...
Step aboard Spirit of the Rhine for a seven-night river cruise timed to coincide with the most spectacular floral displays in Holland and Belgium. Join Garden Rescue star Charlie Dimmock on a holiday which features included visits to the 17th annual Floralia flower show in Brussels and the colourful gardens of Keukenhof and Utrecht at a time when they are at their most breathtaking, when millions of tulips and daffodils are in full bloom. Enjoy several talks from your expert host Charlie, and perhaps take the opportunity to visit Amsterdam’s Botanic Gardens or Vondelpark during optional excursion.
20 meals: 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 7 dinners
Free bar open 15 hours a day†
- Wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner
- Drinks reception and Captain’s dinner
- Complimentary Wi-Fi on board
- All gratuities on board
- Return coach travel via Eurotunnel or ferry
- Floralia Brussels
- Utrecht Botanical Gardens
- Keukenhof Gardens
- Amsterdam city tour OR Amsterdam culinary walking tour
- Tulip farm tour and scenic drive OR Frans Hals Museum
Interactive maps and audio headsets for independent exploration
†The free bar, open 9am to midnight, serves non-branded alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
Charlie Dimmock is one of Britain’s best known and best loved gardeners, specialising in water features. Having first come to the nation’s attention on BBC1’s popular Ground Force, Charlie has gone on to present programmes including Cheer for Charlie, Garden Invaders and the Chelsea Flower Show coverage, for the BBC, and can currently be seen on BBC 1’s Garden Rescue. Her books include Enjoy Your Garden and Container Gardening. Charlie has regularly performed in pantomime and is undertaking several gardening theatre talks around the country as well as attending many gardening shows.
Day 1 UK to Amsterdam
Travel by coach and Eurotunnel or ferry to Amsterdam (a journey from Calais of approximately four hours and 30 minutes) and embark Spirit of the Rhine.
Enjoy a welcome reception and dinner on board as you moor here overnight.
Day 2 Amsterdam to Zaandam 🎧
The day is yours to seek out the delights of the Dutch capital.
This morning you have a choice of included excursions: a city tour or a culinary themed walking tour. Later, why not accompany your expert gardens host on an optional excursion to Hortus Botanicus – 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 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 optional 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.
Sail to Zaandam this evening for an overnight mooring.
Day 3 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 bulbs 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 4 Zaandam to Beverwijk
Continue your cruise to the city of Beverwijk this morning, arriving at lunch time.
Explore at leisure this afternoon or join an optional walking tour of Alkmaar and visit to the Cheese Museum.
Your ship remains moored in Beverwijk overnight.
Day 5 Beverwijk
This morning you have a choice of included excursions: a trip tour of a tulip farm and scenic drive, or a visit to the Frans Hals Museum.
Your ship sets sail again at lunchtime for an overnight cruise to Antwerp.
Day 6 Antwerp
Arrive in Antwerp early this morning and look forward to an included half-day excursion to the annual Floralia Brussels flower show in the grounds and greenhouses of the castle of Groot-Bijgaarden. The 14 hectares incorporates more than one million bulbs with nearly 400 types of tulips on display. The rest of the day is at leisure in Belgium’s second city. Perhaps wander the cobbled lanes of the Medieval quarter or seek out a museum dedicated to local son and acclaimed painter Rubens. Your ship departs late tonight to begin the overnight journey to Utrecht.
Day 7 Utrecht to Amsterdam
Arrive in Utrecht after lunch 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.
At dinner sail on to moor in Amsterdam overnight.
Day 8 Amsterdam to UK
Disembark Spirit of the Rhine after breakfast ahead of your return journey to the UK.
Alkmaar and the Cheese Museum
The city of Alkmaar is best known for its popular Cheese Market, which is held every Friday between April and September. Enjoy a walking tour of the historic city centre before visiting the Cheese Museum to learn about the age-old method of creating, storing and selling cheese. Look forward to a tasting session at the end of your visit.
Walking Grade 3
Optional on 2022 departures itinerary
Post-holiday extension with breakfasts
After your cruise stay two nights at a locally rated 4-star Westcord Fashion Hotel (4Q) with breakfasts included. The hotel is located within walking distance of the Vondelpark and has great links to be able to explore the capital at your leisure - five minutes from the tram which arrives into Amsterdam Central 15 minutes later. Available only when you fly or travel by Eurostar.
🎧 Interactive maps and audio headset tours available for exploring independently in Amsterdam and Zaandam.
Some of the highlights may only be seen on optional excursions at an additional cost, or by exploring independently.
1 – Walking at your own discretion. For example, on panoramic coach tours when the only walking is at photo stops.
2 – Minimal walking. Up to approximately 1,640 feet (500 metres) on mainly flat terrain.
3 – Moderate walking. Between 1,640-4,920 feet (500-1500 metres) over mixed terrain with the possibility of some steps.
4 – Considerable walking. More than 4,920 feet (1500 metres) over uneven terrain with many steps.
5 – Strenuous walking. Long distances over rough terrain with climbing, steps and trekking.