Our Cruise & Explore itineraries are sold on a "Cruise Only" basis, providing you with the choice to make travel arrangements that are best suited to you.
You're free to arrive early, or stay a day or two later to make the most of your destination, and book your preferred choice of departure airports and flights at a time to suit you.
Immerse yourself in the sights, smells and sounds of the cities that border the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, as your floating boutique hotel cruises to new destinations each day. From historic Cologne and undiscovered Nijmegen, to the water cities of Rotterdam and Amsterdam, from lively flower markets to café culture and quirky architecture, to towering twin-spired cathedrals. Soak up the culture of three different countries in ways that suit you, whether you prefer to see new cities with a local expert, hire a bicycle like the locals, taste the cuisine on a foodie tour or simply see where your feet take you.
Your ship is moored in Cologne, with embarkation from the afternoon, so fly into Cologne or Düsseldorf and transfer to your ship. You may choose to arrive a day or two early to explore more of the local area, such as Düsseldorf itself, famous for pioneering art and music, over 100 art galleries, a vibrant Rhine Embankment Promenade and Himmel und Erde, a regional dish translating as ‘heaven and earth’ made from black pudding sausages, potatoes and apples.
As you familiarise yourself with your contemporary cabin on the five-star MS Oscar Wilde, take in the riverside sights before dinner on board this evening. After dinner, why not take a short stroll into the town for a glass of Kolsch or two in one of the iconic bier halls?
Enjoy your morning coffee as the sun rises over magnificent Cologne, ready and waiting for you to explore. A cultural hub, Cologne boasts – amongst many things – a vibrant old town, stylish Belgian quarter, fascinating Roman Museum and a twin-spired cathedral, the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe. The cathedral has a distinctively dark exterior, created by the sandstone reacting to the sulphuric acid found in rain, which stands iconically on the Cologne skyline. It took six centuries to complete, and among its many treasures are the magnificent stained-glass windows and gilded sarcophagus said to contain the remains of the three kings from the Nativity story. It miraculously survived a Second World War bombing and is now a well-deserved UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After lunch on board, perhaps head to the bustling old town for a refreshing glass of local Kölsch, traditionally brewed in the area and recognisable by its bright yellow hue. Beer lovers can even book on a tasting and tour, with plenty of time before our sailing around 6pm. But if that’s not for you – there are a whole host of walking and culinary tours. Or perhaps book a fragrance tour - because where better than to learn more about fragrance than the home of Eau de Cologne?
Wherever your feet take you, as night falls, a sumptuous Signature dinner provides the perfect start to this memorable cruise.
Depart Cologne 18:00. Breakfast & dinner included.
Wake up this morning to find that we've crossed the border into the Netherlands and have moored in lesser-known Nijmegen, found nestled by the rivers Waal, Rhine and Meuse. It’s the oldest city in the country, having been recognised by the Romans over 2000 years ago. The beauty of exploring Europe by river may not already be familiar with – plus there’s lots of time to soak up the culture of this historic port and make dinner plans for later.
Why not arrange to see the city in the morning with a local expert, only to head back to your favourite parts after lunch? The Grote Markt is a must for people-watching and getting a feel for this wonderful area, where you’ll find some of the oldest buildings and pick up some local snacks and souvenirs on market days.
You could also stroll around the leafy Kronenburgerpark, spotting remains of the medieval walls, or wander the oldest shopping street in the Netherlands, Lange Hezelstraat, a pedestrianised walk dotted with shops, restaurants and beautiful architecture. Tonight is yours to enjoy dinner on shore at whichever restaurant catches your eye!
Arrive Nijmegen 05:00. Depart 22:30. Breakfast & lunch included.
With a leisurely morning as we sail towards Antwerp, it’s the perfect time to make the most of the of the on-board spa or fitness centre, before another delicious lunch. Somehow we’re only on day 4 and yet in our third country of the cruise – Belgium. Small but perfectly formed, the port city Antwerp grew wealthy during its 16th-century Golden Age, when it was Europe’s largest port north of the Alps, with profits invested in the city’s Flemish art and architectural heritage, and later it became the world’s diamond trading centre. At its heart is the main square – the Grote Markt – dominated by ornately gabled guildhouses, the Renaissance town hall and iconic Brabo Fountain.
This afternoon is free to explore as you wish, perhaps visiting Rubens’ extravagant former home and studio, the Gothic cathedral or even the painstakingly restored train station, often dubbed the ‘Railway Cathedral’. Dinner plans are up to you too – so why not arrange a culinary tour, book ahead for a Michelin star experience, head to the quirky restaurants of Het Eilandje or simply find a cosy restaurant and enjoy Belgian frites washed down with a local Trappist beer.
Arrive Antwerp 15:00. Depart 23:00. Breakfast & lunch included.
Today we awake in effortlessly cool Ghent, once Western Europe’s second largest city after Paris. Fortunate to escape the ravages of the 20th century and often overlooked by tourists, Ghent is a medieval gem with a relaxed pace and modern feel. Highlights include a gorgeously unspoilt waterfront, the 13th-century skyline punctured by soaring belfries, the 12th-century Gravenstein fortress towering above the river, and one of the world’s foremost art treasures – the van Eyck brothers’ Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, the altarpiece adorning Saint Bavo’s Cathedral.
We’re here from morning until night so do make the most of this stop, getting under the skin in whichever way appeals more. Whether you’re a chocoholic or love to explore new places by boat, arrange a local excursion ahead of your cruise or on board. If you want to explore further afield, frequent trains take you to Bruges in less than half an hour. After lunch on board, head back out to explore Ghent further, maybe taking a horse-drawn carriage ride or finding a cosy spot in a quintessential Flemish café.
Arrive Ghent 07:30. Depart 20:00. Breakfast & dinner included.
At breakfast, take in the riverside views as we moor again in the Netherlands for a morning in Dordrecht, also known as Dordt. This historic city is one of the oldest in Holland, with its maritime past still at its heart, particularly as you wander the old harbours and spot the catch of the day. From museums to monuments, there’s lots to see here, whether you’d prefer to explore at your own pace or arrange a guided tour. Highlights include the Grote Kerk, the astounding interior of the old mayor’s house ‘Huis van Gijn’ and the Augustine monastery ‘Het Hof’, founded in the 13th century.
Jump back on board for lunch though, as we’ll soon be at our next stop – Rotterdam, the Netherlands’ second largest metropolis, situated where the Rhine flows into the North Sea. Known as the ‘Gateway to Europe’, it is the largest European cargo port and has been a conduit for trade since the 14th century. We’re moored in this captivating metropolis overnight, so you’re free to take in the highlights at your leisure: from the old harbour to the modern architecture, passing by the Witte Huis, Europe’s first sky scraper, built in the Art Nouveau style.
Other highlights of Rotterdam include Europe’s largest swing bridge, the Erasmus Bridge, Cube Houses and arched Markthal – where the colourful ceiling is just asking for a selfie. There are also excellent museums, such as the vast Boijmans Van Beuningen, which houses a world-class collection of works by old and modern masters, from Rembrandt to Van Gogh to Dalí, and some rare and beautiful glassware. Like many Dutch cities, water is at the heart of entertainment – and so there are plenty of boat taxis to enjoy Rotterdam by, as well as “hot tugs” - which mixes a boat trip with a bubbling wood-fired hot tub.
This evening sample the local cuisine on shore at Witte de Withstraat, a popular spot for vibrant bars, restaurants and terraces. Don’t forget to round off with a Stroopwafel or Dutch Appeltaart topped with a dollop of whipped cream.
Arrive Dordrecht 08:30. Depart 12:30. Arrive Rotterdam 14:00. Depart 23:59. Breakfast & lunch included.
Today we awake in Amsterdam, where we spend the rest of the holiday. Amsterdam is the ideal walking city and we remain moored dockside so you can explore its characterful streets at your leisure. A network of 165 canals built in rings during the 17th century defines life in its centre, and our ‘water’s-eye view’ is the best way to absorb Amsterdam’s history. Relax and watch this unique cityscape unfold as you walk the many intriguing aspects of life here. Your camera will soon be filled with snaps of moored houseboats, quirky bridges, cobbled streets lined with tall, narrow merchants’ houses, gabled civic buildings and homes of famous former residents.
Exceptional art is always close by, from small galleries to the world-class Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum, both holding huge collections. You might choose to discover the interior of Anne Frank’s house, rummage through the Waterlooplein flea market or relax at a café sipping a rich Dutch coffee and watching the locals trundle over cobbles along the canals on their high-handlebar bicycles. Or if you’re feeling energetic, perhaps join the cyclists and see the city on wheels.
Whether you’ve made reservations or you’re just following where your nose takes you, enjoy dining ashore as evening falls and the lights of this unforgettable metropolis sparkle in the night. Amsterdam is a cultural melting pot and this exudes from its restaurant scene too, so whether you’re looking for Dutch inspired dishes or something different, head to the likes of De Pijp, Jordaan or Westerpark for lots of culinary choice.
Arrive Amsterdam 08:00. Breakfast & lunch included.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport at the appropriate time for your return flight. Or if you're not ready to leave The Netherlands just yet, you might choose to extend your stay in Amsterdam or the surrounding area.
Experience Amsterdam by bike, arrange a fragrance tour of Cologne or book on one of the many food or beer tours with a local expert. There are hundreds of excursions to choose from – whether you book ahead or choose whilst you cruise.
You can browse and book experiences in advance via our partner site.
MS Oscar Wilde
Built in 2017, the striking MS Oscar Wilde can carry 167 passengers and 44 crew, ready and waiting to make your luxury ship experience the best it can be.
Cologne to Amsterdam
Sailing times are estimated