Blue Water Holidays
Blue Water Holidays - ABTA - ATOL - CLIA
Experts in River and Small Ship Cruising Holidays since 2002
01756 706500 +44 1756 706500
Blue Water Holidays - ABTA - ATOL - CLIA
01756 706500
+44 1756 706500
Holland River Cruises

Holland and Belgium in the Spring

Holland in springtime is a riot of colour with bright tulip fields set amongst windmills and canals.

Discover the spring tulips of Holland and visit fascinating Dutch cities, famous for cheese and pottery. Itineraries to Belgium also explore medieval Bruges and Antwerp, the diamond capital of the world.

Cruise Collection 2019 / 2020

About Holland & Belgium Cruises

The work of Rembrandt and other Dutch masters can be seen at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, whilst the Van Gogh museum has some of the artist's best-known paintings. A trip along the famous canals and to the red light district is a unique experience. An excursion to the Keukenhof Gardens, 70 acres with seven million flowers, may be included.

Longer itineraries may go north from Amsterdam to the Ijselmeer, the inland sea extending from Amsterdam to a dam built across the North Sea. Visit the seafaring towns of Volendam and Hoorn, and perhaps Edam with its famous round red cheeses. Going south from Amsterdam take the waterways of central Holland to Gouda and on to Rotterdam, perhaps with an excursion to Delft, home of the well-known blue pottery.

Kinderdijk, HollandKinderdijk, Holland

Some routes may include the Belgian port of Antwerp, the diamond capital of the world, and birthplace of the painter Rubens. A highlight is a canal boat trip around Bruges, one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe and a World Heritage site.

Holland & Belgium Highlights

Amsterdam

The cruise terminal in Amsterdam is a short distance from the city centre and its tall merchant houses and tree-lined canals. Chief sights are the prestigious Rijksmuseum and its large collection of important paintings, the Van Gogh Museum and Ann Frank's House. The attractive narrow streets are full of bars, coffee houses, quaint bridges and interesting shops.

Amsterdam (Netherlands)

Antwerp

Antwerp port is adjacent to the Steen and connected by metro to the city, which is an important centre of the diamond trade. Cobbled lanes criss-cross the city leading to art galleries, antique and chocolate shops, and the magnificent cathedral of Notre Dame, which holds paintings by Rubens, the tall Flemish buildings of the Grote Markt and the City Hall. Antwerp is also a fashion capital, and the forthcoming Port Authority HQ was designed by groundbreaking architect, Zaha Hadid.

Antwerp (Belgium)

Arnhem (Netherlands)

Leafy Arnhem was the site of Operation Market Garden, the World War II battle dramatized in A Bridge Too Far. City tours usually include visits to the bridge and the Airborne Museum, and beyond Arnhem is the natural paradise of De Hoge Veluwe National Park and the magnificent Palais Het Loo and its colourful, tiered gardens.

Arnhem

Bruges (Belgium)

Bruges is one of the oldest towns in Flanders, and one of the prettiest. Tranquil canals wind through the city, and the Church of Our Lady houses the sculpture by Michelangelo of the Madonna and Child. In the busy square overlooked by the Town Hall belfry perhaps try local 'moules et frites', buy fine chocolate, take coffee or sample one of the many Belgian beers.

Bruges

Enkhuizen (Holland)

The Drommedaris Tower in Enkhuizen is a reminder of the towns role as a trading centre for the Dutch East India Company, and the Zuiderzee Museum traces its history. The traditional wooden boats of the brown fleet pass through Enkhuizens busy lock and can be seen sailing on the Ijselmeer.

Enkhuizen

Ghent (Belgium)

Charming Ghent escaped World War II bombing, and has over 900 listed buildings commissioned by wealthy merchants in medieval times. Along the canals, there are many small shops selling unusual items, and the Design Museum shows Art Nouveau items and Philippe Starck designs.

Ghent

Gouda (Netherlands)

The city of Gouda is famous for its cheese, which is sold at a weekly cheese market in the square. Here there is often a puppet show celebrating the citys freedom in 1272, performed beneath the handsome Town Hall with its chiming clock. Gouda is also renowned for its silversmiths, smoking pipes and delicious syrup waffles.

Gouda

Hoorn (Holland)

The delightful small town of Hoorn has lovely gabled buildings, constructed during its time as a trading port for the Dutch East India Company. It is well-known for its quaint shops, selling curiosities, antiques and art, and for its famous son who rounded the Southern Cape in 1618 and named it Cape Horn after his birthplace.

Hoorn

Nijmegen (Netherlands)

The oldest city in the Netherlands is enclosed by woods, hills and winding dykes. Nijmegen is a bustling and hospitable city with a pleasant waterfront, historic Grote Markt, pavement cafés and quirky boutiques. There may be visits from Nijmegen to the Liberation Museum at nearby Groesbeek, which commemorates the occupation and liberation of the Netherlands.

Nijmegen

Rotterdam (Netherlands)

Rotterdam is one of the largest ports in the world, and provides excellent transport links to the city 24 miles away. Having suffered heavy bombing in World War II, Rotterdam is an energetic city with an impressive array of modern buildings. Explore on foot to see the remarkable Cube Houses, the Euromast and the Erasmus Bridge. With a large student population there's a lively caf' culture and good galleries, including the Kunsthal.

Rotterdam

Utrecht

The lively city of Utrecht in the heart of Holland was built around the Dom Tower which can be seen from anywhere in the city. Like Amsterdam, it is lined with a picturesque network of canals. The city was built on Roman foundations.

Volendam

The quaint lakeside town of Volendam is a maze of fishermen's houses, small gabled buildings and wooden shops, and was a popular subject for 19th-century artists. Some of its inhabitants still wear traditional Dutch dress, and there is a museum dedicated to Dutch costume and its history. Volendam is close to the historic cheese-producing town of Edam.

Volendam (Netherlands)

Customer Reviews

Day One A direct flight from Leeds/Bradford to Amsterdam took 50 minutes. Once I collected my luggage I was met at the meeting point in the airport (very clear to find). I was shown to the transfer bus where I was taken to the Movenpick hotel at Amsterdam Cruise Terminal. The afternoon was either at leisure (the hotel is very close to walk into Amsterdam) or an optional excursion (extra 34) to visit the tradition Dutch village of Zaanse Schans which was a short coach transfer from Amsterdam - I chose this option. In this charming village I visited a functioning windmill, watched a cheese demonstration and a wooden shoe demonstration.

Around 5pm we arrive at the Avalon Visionary. Wow - what a fantastic looking ship - very clean and crisp with a beautiful modern/contemporary feel about it. My P grade cabin offered spacious accommodation with a wonderful French balcony. I particularly liked the fact the beds faced the balcony so whilst lying in bed you could watch the scenery go by. There is plenty of room in the cabin to invite friends around for a pre-dinner drinks in the cabin.

A welcome meeting and cocktails were held in the early part of the evening. At 7:15pm the Visionary set sail for Volendam whilst I enjoy my 5 course meal including salad, soup, Seabream, dessert and coffee.

Day Two This morning we woke up in Volendam, a picturesque fishing town with a unique open harbour and a small timbered church dating back to 1658. The guided excursion took me to Edam. Its cheese of the same name has become famous throughout the world and cheese markets are still held in the summer months. The Old Town centre, especially the Kwakelsteeg, still has lovely characteristic Waterland houses. On the way back to the ship we visited a windmill near Volendam. The guided tour was held in small groups of approximately 30 people and headsets were provided which is great. I could wander around looking at various things (mainly shops) whilst the tour guided talked about the history of the town. This was a very relaxing but informative way of learning about the towns. Just be careful for the locals on their bikes however as they dont like to stop for anyone!

During lunch we sailed on the Markermeer to Enkhuizen, situated at the most easterly point of North Holland. Enkhuizen owes its prosperity to the Zuider Zee (now known as the Ijsselmeer). This afternoon we visited the Zuiderzee Museum, dedicated to the culture and history of this area. The museum focuses on the past and present of the Ijsselmeer, and features living history, heritage, and crafts. Alternatively if you didnt wish to take part in the museum trip you could take part in the Dutch Experience - Home hosted coffee tea with the locals of Enkhuizen. Groups of 6 people are invited to spend the afternoon at a Dutch home, which the locals are proud to have you as their guest.

Upon returning back to the ship after the excursion I headed for the Port Talk with the cruise director followed by the pre-dinner entertainment of trying Dutch Genever cheese. Welcome Gala Dinner this evening (7 courses) was followed by the pianist playing quietly in the lounge for after dinner drinks.

Day Three After breakfast you could choose your excursion: a trip along the Tulip Road or visit the town of Alkmaar. I choose to visit Alkmaar. On reaching this charming town we learnt it was the Friday cheese market. I joined a Certified Local Guide (Adam) who took us on a short walking tour (with headsets) to some of the most beautiful spots of the city. We then had a little free time to look around the cheese market and purchase products if we wished.

We rejoined the ship and sailed during lunch across the Ijsselmeer to southwest Friesland. Mid afternoon we docked in Lemmer from where the Friesland excursion departs. Friesland is primarily an agricultural region with a long history, doubtlessly best known internationally for its famous black and white Friesian cattle, and the well-known black Friesian horse. This province is also rich in history and legends, such as the tale of The Lady of Stavoren. This afternoon excursion takes approximately 5 hours but shows you some amazing scenery on-route and mainly completed by coach.

We rejoined our ship in Sneek late afternoon and I looked forward to the Panorama Bistrot Tapas Dinner, which I had signed up for the night before. This is a NEW concept for 2013 and allows 20 guests to participate in a wonderful Tapas evening. After the Tapas had finished we enjoy an evening of Traditional Frisian Folk Dancers.

Day Four Today I enjoyed a peaceful morning of cruising through this delightful area of Friesland. After docking in Lelystad we visit the unique shipyard, home of the Batavia. This is where they are building the 17th Century tall ships. The visit started with a movie and then a guide will take you in small groups through the wharf. After the tour we made our way back to the coach to transfer us from Lelystad to Kampen to rejoin the ship.

This evening we had a guest chef onboard preparing dinner for us. After dinner The Avalon Visionary Crew Show was held for our evening entertainment. This was great light-hearted entertainment and a great way to get to know the crew better.

Day 1 - 24th April

Following our short hop over to Amsterdam by direct flight from Leeds Bradford with KLM, we were greeted by an Avalon representative and shown to our coach which would take us to the Movenpick Hotel. Here we had use of the hospitality room including free tea, coffee and soft drinks and also met our cruise director, a lovely lady named Nynke, who would accompany us for the duration of the cruise.

With time to spare in Amsterdam we took the optional excursion to the charming village of Zaanse Schans, a quaint village showcasing Dutch traditions such as a visit to a working windmill, cheese making demonstration followed by a wooden shoe demonstration; complete with shopping in the fabulous wooden shoe shop offering every size and colour imaginable, great souvenir opportunity!

Back to the coach for a short transfer to Haarlem to meet Avalon Visionary, cant wait to step aboard!....and I was not disappointed; our accommodation was a spacious category P stateroom offering fantastic views from the wall to wall panoramic sliding glass doors with comfortable seating area. Our twin beds even faced the sliding doors, perfect for watching the world go by! A very nice bathroom with shower and premium products - ideal for two ladies sharing a cabin and flat screen TV with entertainment system.

Once the mandatory safety exercise was over we had a welcome meeting with cocktail including an introduction of the staff and crew, hosted by Nynke. We then set sail for Volendam whilst enjoying our first dinner onboard. The modern dining room offers open seating allowing you to talk amongst your fellow travellers with tables of various sizes. The 5 course A La Carte menu offers a tempting choice! Bon Apetit!

After dinner we enjoy a cocktail or two in the lounge which offers panoramic views all around and outside seating area, whilst Stefan the onboard musician plays live music for us.

Day 2 - 25th April

We awake today in the port of Volendam after a wonderful nights sleep in the very comfortable beds and head down for buffet breakfast which offers a wide choice of continental options and cooked breakfast including omelette station prepared there and then by the chef.

Our first excursion of the day is a visit to Edam, a beautiful village which strangely has the largest church in the whole of the Netherlands! Felt almost as though we had gone back in time with the beautiful small houses and quiet way of life, very much enjoyed meandering through the streets listening to our guide tell us many a fascinating tale about the history of Edam.

Then back to Volendam and some free time to visit the souvenir shops including a huge cheese shop and various kiosks offering local speciality fish.

Time for lunch onboard the ship whilst we sail onto Enkhuizen, a tasty array awaits us at the buffet including some amazing waffles - not sure my waistline can take much more!

We then depart for our afternoon excursion to the open air Zuiderzee museum which shows the traditional way of life in the 1800s and early 1900s. The staff dressed up and even played out a typical day in the fishing village and we looked around a typical family home which were very small box houses. A very interesting excursion!

An alternative excursion offered included The Dutch Experience which was home hosted coffee and tea with the locals in Enkhuizen. Small groups invited to spend the afternoon at a Dutch home. The locals are proud to have you as their guests.

Back to the ship and time to get ready for the welcome gala dinner - seven courses tonight!

Day 3 - 26th April

The ship stayed moored in Enkhuizen last night so following our buffet breakfast we enjoyed a short excursion to Alkmaar with cheese market and souvenir stalls.

Then back to the ship and all aboard for sailing to Lemmer in Friesland. Lunch onboard with a choice of A La Carte menu or light lunch in the lounge. I decided to try the light lunch today which offered a simple choice of sandwiches and soup.

This afternoon a longer Friesland excursion, mostly by coach to the planetarium and a working windmill; meanwhile the ship moves to Sneek where we re-join after our excursion ends.

Tonight dinner with a difference - optional Tapas night (as well as the usual A La Carte option in the main restaurant) I signed up for this and very pleased I did, a welcome change and delightful food!

This evenings onboard entertainment includes traditional Frisian folk dancers; much to my embarrassment I was picked out of the audience to try this!

Day 4 - 27th April

This morning the ship sails early for our next stop which is Lelystad. We enjoyed a later buffet breakfast whilst sailing and some time for relaxation in the Club Lounge enjoying a coffee and a good book. On arrival in Lelystad we briefly visited the unique Batavia Shipyard where they are building 17th century tall ships.

Then it is time for us to bid a fond farewell to Avalon Visionary and head back to the airport for our journey back to Leeds Bradford with KLM.

Short Break Cruise from Amsterdam on Modigliani with CroisiEurope

Other than my wife and I all the passenger were French. All were friendly and, with our school French, we were able pass the normal pleasantries.

As I was told beforehand, the ship had definite French style furnishings and decoration. It was attractive and a little different to other river cruise boats we have been on.

The Cruise Director and Purser, in fact the whole crew from deck staff to cabin staff and waiters could not have been kinder. All were cheerful and enthusiastic which cannot be easy as their work is very repetitive. The food presented was absolutely fabulous. We even found an English copy of the daily newssheet on our breakfast table every morning! The food was absolutely first rate and the free wine helped it go down. The evening entertainment was quite adequate with a couple of simple games and music for live dancing. The cabins were well serviced and maintained. Also the cashless system in the bar worked very well - a card was purchased for 30 with money being crossed off when buying drinks. Any outstanding credit was refunded at the end of the cruise.

It was the best river cruise boat we have experienced having holidayed with at least 3 other companies.

While booking the cruise we were advised that a problem with travelling to Amsterdam by road would be car parking. No trouble whatsoever! I unloaded our luggage at the ship then a 10 minute drive to the Zeeburg Park and Ride where I registered and received complimentary tram tickets to and from the city centre. The parking charge 56 (47.64). The tram stop is conveniently close to where the ship moors. Dependent on where youre travelling from I would thoroughly recommend the journey by private car. From Norfolk and return the cost was 112 cross channel ferry and 2 tanks of petrol. I can enlarge upon this information if anyone is interested.

Total Reviews: 9 Read More Reviews...