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Spring Cruising Guide to the Dutch Waterways

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  • What to expect on a Dutch waterways river cruise – from first-class dining to luxury cabins – plus what to pack and wear
  • Discover the highlights of a Dutch bulbfields cruise, including the gardens of Keukenhof, and traditional windmills of Kinderdijk
  • Explore beautiful, historic cities – what to see and do in Amsterdam, Hoorn, Bruges, Enkhuizen, and Rotterdam

Spring is a delightful season. It’s the time of year when the days start to get longer, brighter and warmer, and we begin venturing outdoors again, noticing the beautiful changes in nature. Spring is when many of our favourite flowers are in full bloom, and there’s no better place to see tulips, daffodils, and crocuses in all their glory than on a Dutch bulbfields river cruise.

Explore the magnificent tulip blooms and traditional windmills of the Dutch Waterways on a river cruise in The Netherlands, including the 8-day Bruges, Medieval Flanders, Amsterdam and the Dutch bulbfields river cruise or the 5-day Amsterdam, Kinderdijk & the Dutch Bulbfields river cruise for solo travellers.
What to expect on a Dutch waterways river cruise

A spring holiday in Europe, cruising along the Dutch waterways, is an experience like no other.

Embarking a cruise ship such as MS Emily Brontë or MS Oscar Wilde in Amsterdam – an easy flight or train journey from the UK – you unpack only once in a comfortable luxury cabin with a river view. River cruises are relaxing, and provide the peace of mind that you’re going to be well looked after. Expect to join cultural tours and excursions during the day on a Dutch waterways cruise, and enjoy first-class dining every evening and the opportunity to chat with fellow like-minded passengers in the onboard bar. Our river cruises are informal and relaxing, so you can focus on having a great time.

Various itineraries are available. One option is our five-day Dutch bulbfields river cruise, or you may prefer an extended eight-day holiday, such as a Bruges and Amsterdam cruise. Whichever you choose, an excursion to the magnificent Keukenhof Gardens is included, with the chance to see colourful tulips covering the riverbanks and, while on excursions, vast fields of vibrant flowers.

amsterdam river cruise tulips windmill

See fields of colourful tulips

Highlights of a Dutch bulbfields river cruise

There’s one main reason why people choose an Amsterdam river cruise in spring – to tick off the amazing Dutch bulbfields on their bucket list. And no one is disappointed. The bulbfields are an awe-inspiring sight, and as you tour through the scenic countryside, you’ll gaze out at mile after mile of the Netherlands’ world-famous tulips.

You’ll also visit Keukenhof – the world’s most extensive flower garden. Its 32 hectares are home to a staggering seven million blooms, with 800 varieties of tulips. Nothing quite prepares you for the dazzling carpet of colours that greet you on a visit. There are flower exhibitions, inspirational gardens with pavilions and water features, and unique art too. Open only for seven weeks each year, from 21 March to 10 May 2020; the gardens are an incredibly popular attraction.

What else is synonymous with the Netherlands? Of course, the windmill, and on an Amsterdam river cruise, a highlight is a trip to Kinderdijk. Here, an iconic scene awaits – lining the canal banks is a series of 19 traditional windmills. Be sure to pop into the museum to learn more about how the UNESCO-listed windmills, built around 1740, keep the low-lying land dry.

Cities on a tulip river cruise
Amsterdam

A Dutch bulbfields river cruise is also an excellent opportunity to explore some of Europe’s most captivating cities. Amsterdam, affectionately nicknamed the ‘Venice of the North’, is known for its elaborate canal system – the city has 165 canals and an astonishing 1,281 bridges – as well as its elegant narrow merchants’ houses and artistic heritage. Amsterdam was once the home of Rembrandt and briefly that of Van Gogh too, so don’t miss the chance to see their masterpieces in the city’s two great art galleries, the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum. Amsterdam was also where a young Anne Frank compiled her famous diary – if you want to see her house and secret annexe during your free time in the city, you’ll need to buy tickets online in advance.

amsterdam river cruise amsterdam

Amsterdam

Hoorn

Our Bruges, Medieval Flanders, Amsterdam & the Dutch Bulbfields River Cruise includes a stop at Hoorn which, along with Enkhuizen, formed two of the most influential cities in The Netherlands in the 17th century. The city teems with churches and monuments to explore throughout its cobbled streets, with the 15th-century Hoofdtoren (literally, ‘Head Tower’) by the harbour a memorable photo opportunity.

Bruges

Our river cruise from Amsterdam to Bruges allows you to spend a spring day in the charming Belgian city too, and it’s an ideal time to visit as you’ll see yet more flowers near the Bruges béguinage. During March and April, daffodils fill the tranquil convent garden – it’s a must-see. A boat trip along the picturesque canals, cruising under romantic bridges and overhanging willow trees in the historic UNESCO-listed centre is not to be missed either. Leave time to buy some of the city’s much-loved chocolate as a souvenir – at this time of year, you’re sure to find original Easter gifts.

what to do in bruges in one day bruges canals

Bruges canals

Enkhuizen

The delightfully picturesque port of Enkhuizen is a spellbinding voyage into history, with its 16th-century fortress walls wrapping around what was once one of the most prosperous cities in the Netherlands. Churches, chapels, villas, and harbour buildings all compete for attention and hark back to the time when Enkhuizen, along with Hoorn, was a powerful member of the Dutch East India Company. A visit to the Zuiderzee Museum is worthwhile, and it is home to artefacts that celebrate the maritime history of the Zuiderzee region.

Rotterdam

Rotterdam is another port of call on our Amsterdam, Kinderdijk & the Dutch Bulbfields river cruise and the city is filled with fantastic architecture. On a guided tour, you’ll visit the old harbour, the striking Erasmus Bridge which is Western Europe’s largest swing bridge, and pass by the Witte Huis, an art nouveau skyscraper. The quirky yellow Kubuswoningen, or Cube Houses, are worth seeing too – they’re located near the eye-catching Market Hall which sells fruit and veg, flowers, and other specialities seven days a week.

amsterdam river cruise rotterdam

Rotterdam

What to pack for a Dutch waterways river cruise

A camera is an essential piece of kit for this and any European river cruise. Travelling during spring is a one-off chance to capture astonishing floral displays – tulips only take over the Dutch countryside at this time of year. However, visiting in March, April, and May also means packing wisely for the weather. Daytime March temperatures in Amsterdam are seldom higher than 10°C. In May, the mercury may reach only 17°C; and at night, it will feel much cooler. Bring layers, warm clothes such as a cosy cardigan or jumper, and a jacket or coat.

In the spring, the Dutch waterways can have several rainy days. April showers are to be expected, helping transform the fields of flowers into a vibrant, colourful landscape. While showers shouldn’t last long, it’s best to pack a raincoat and walking shoes or trainers that you don’t mind getting wet.

As with any river cruise or escorted tour, comfort dressing is key for excursions, therefore keep your holiday wardrobe simple. Loose-fitting clothing is ideal for daytime wear, and there’s also a relaxed, informal dress code in the evening. Some river cruise passengers may choose to be a little smarter at dinner; however, that will only be a collared shirt or a sparkly top with a pair of trousers – there’s no need to pack a suit or a long dress.

Plan your own Dutch waterways river cruise

If you’ve always wanted to see the Dutch bulbfields, then why wait any longer? A spring river cruise on the Dutch Waterways is a wonderful way to see the floral spectacle, as well as the Netherlands’ iconic windmills. With itineraries that also include visiting Amsterdam and Bruges, you’ll enjoy mini city breaks too. Go on, put a Dutch Waterways holiday in your diary – it’ll put a spring in your step!


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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