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River and Canal Cruises in Holland and Belgium

River and Canal Cruises in Holland and Belgium

River and canal cruises in Holland and Belgium offer peaceful, quiet, picturesque scenes. During the spring tulip-blooming season, many of the major cruise companies run river cruises throughout Holland, with the additional attraction of heading upriver down the Rhine to Switzerland.

Holland is littered with canals, and two of the most startling sights I’ve seen there, is a cruise ship seemingly passing majestically through a cow pasture – and a cruise ship crossing a major highway overhead. (Scenes from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind?)

As well as large river cruise ships, many of the canals can be enjoyed on self hire boats, such as those from Boating Holidays and Leboat. Your cruiser can be moored in the marina just across from the main train station in Amsterdam and it’s possible to take the little Vecht River from Amsterdam to Utrecht. However, it’s not recommended for beginners in self-hire boats to compete with the traffic and huge tugs on the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal. Stick with the small stuff.

Individuals boating on the canals is a way of life in Holland and one can enjoy many canal-side bars and cafes. The locks are left open in the summer. Northern Netherlands has hundreds of interconnected small lakes, also just made for cruising – or fishing.

There’s almost too much to see and too many places to visit. For a tulip time cruise, for instance, one can take a ferry from England and thence transfer to a CroisiEurope riverboat for a visit to Keukenhof Gardens. There some 6 million tulips, daffodils and other flowers are on display. This particular cruise, Tulip Time in Holland ventures into Belgium and ends up in Antwerp.

Holland and Belgium River Cruises offers a tulip tour, as well as cruising all the way to Brussels.

Many of these tours co-mingle the waterways of Holland and Belgium, so it’s relatively simple to take a river cruise from Amsterdam to Rotterdam or Antwerp via river and canal.

While you’re in the south of Holland, a visit to Maastricht is certainly in order. On the river Maas (or Meuse) it’s in the hilly area. (Yes, there are hills there, but not too many) It’s a neat, walkable, city that has best climate in Holland. It also has the perfect location at the junction of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. If they had asked me, that’s where I would have put the “capital” of Europe, not in Brussels.

More cruises can be found at: Affordable Tours offers a 9 day round-trip Amsterdam to Amsterdam on one of the most luxurious river boats in Europe, the River Cloud.

River Cruises in Holland and Belgium takes you on a barge voyage from Amsterdam as the base, to “such enchanting, cobble-stoned towns as Delft, Haarlem, Gouda and Alkmaar.”

Holland River Tours and Feenstra Rijn Lijn are two Dutch companies that offer river cruises on about a dozen ships.

Amadeus cruise line also offers Holland/Belgium tours.

However, in Holland, Amsterdam is still the main attraction. Rhine voyages begin there, cruise down the busiest canal in Europe, the Amsterdam-Rhine canal, past Utrecht and onto the River Waal near Tiel. The Waal merges with the Rhine which leaves Holland near Emmerich.

Of course, the reverse is true when river cruising from Basel to Amsterdam. I found this comment on a river cruise company’s website to be rather amusing: “We will cross the border in Emmerich and navigate towards Utrecht – Amsterdam. After dinner, you will visit the red light district with our hostess. Full meals on board. Put in for the night.”

Talk about a full-service cruise…

I don’t know if they meant what they said, but I rather doubt it. Anyway, there are many other things to see in Amsterdam, including its museums, unique architecture, and a slow cruise through its miles and miles of canals. This is the way Amsterdam was meant to be seen.

While not as spectacular as some river cruises through hill, dale, and mountain scenery, a river cruise through Holland and Belgium can certainly be enjoyed for its own version of quiet beauty.