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The stunning bulbfields really are an amazing sight. In Keukenhof Park there are a staggering 7 million blooms covering 80 acres in a riot of colour whilst imaginative landscaping shows off mother-nature at her outstanding best with shimmering lakes, water-gardens and flowering shrubs of every hue.
You can fly to Amsterdam from a variety of airports or take a late morning Eurostar from London St Pancras International changing trains in Brussels (you will be accompanied by our Tour Manager), to Amsterdam. Here you will be taken to the ship in Amsterdam where the dedicated crew welcome you on board, ensuring you settle into your comfortable and extremely well-equipped cabin and familiarise yourself with the ship, your first-class floating hotel.
Day 2 – Hoorn & Enkhuizen
As we enjoy a leisurely breakfast, the luxurious Lord Byron gently cruises along the Markermeer, the southwestern part of the great IJsselmeer lagoon, created when the Zuiderzee dam was constructed, separating it from the North Sea. This mammoth engineering achievement reclaimed huge tracts of land using the unique Dutch talent for such projects, honed over hundreds of years of battling the mighty sea.
Just after breakfast we dock in the small town of Hoorn. Reminiscent of another age, it is a delightful mixture of 15th to 19th century leaning houses, imposing brick-built mercantile warehouses, cobbled squares and twisting alleys. Once its ships traded all over the known world, with one such intrepid sailor even naming the southernmost tip of South America after his home town – Cape Horn!
We spend the morning here so you may wander as you wish and during lunch we watch the picturesque shoreline slide by as we take the short cruise to Enkhuizen, nestling at the edge of the old Zuiderzee. During the 17th Century Golden Age the Netherlands dominated world maritime trade, becoming fabulously prosperous and Enkhuizen, as one of the country’s principal ports was no exception. Merchants keen to spend their newly acquired wealth created the quaint town you see today and in celebration of this illustrious past, one of the county’s best museums has been created, the Zuiderzee Museum. Here in a large park is a superb recreation of 19th century local life, with actors in period costumes demonstrating essential skills of the time in a truly authentic setting. There is a sail maker’s, fish smokehouse, blacksmith’s, clog maker’s, a variety of shops, dressmaker’s and a host of other fascinating things to experience should you wish.
Of course if you prefer stay aboard, catch up on some reading or enjoy a coffee in the comfortable ambience of the lounge, the choice is yours. We are berthed here this evening too, so after dinner you can take an atmospheric walk along the quayside.
Day 3 – Volendam
Just after breakfast, take a stroll on the Sun Deck and watch the Captain skillfully berthing the Lord Byron in the traditional fishing village of Volendam. It’s so easy to imagine the ship colliding with the solid quayside – but it never does!
This delightful village really is a picture of Holland as it used to be centuries ago. It retains much of its old-world charm and it is not hard to imagine the hard-working fishermen returning with the morning’s catch and the women sat repairing their nets in front of the rows of quaint wooden cottages lining the picturesque waterfront. The villagers are renowned for still wearing traditional Dutch dress, including the ladies’ white pinafores and curved bonnets, and you may catch a glimpse of them arm in arm, during an enjoyable stroll around the Doolhoof – the maze of tiny, narrow alleys and confusing jumble of houses nestling safely behind the waterfront dyke.
This morning we take the short drive through the heart of the astonishing bulbfields themselves to the world-famous Keukenhof Gardens and one of the real highlights of the tour. Nothing quite prepares you for the dazzling array of colours stretched out before you, as the flat fertile coastal plain is illuminated by a natural display unrivalled anywhere else on the planet. At Keukenhof, the art of the flower garden reaches breathtaking heights as you marvel at the dramatic pageant of hues in the seven million blooms set amongst a delightful landscape of shimmering lakes, ancient trees, flowering shrubs and beautiful water gardens covering a staggering 80 acres. The wonderful variety in design, colour and scent gives each individual garden a unique character and a wealth of inspiration for your own little patch back home!
We then return to the Lord Byron in time for a late lunch, before the afternoon is free for you to explore Volendam.
Day 4 – Amsterdam
Expectation mounts as during breakfast we gently cruise into Amsterdam, one of the world’s most fascinating, unique and beautiful cities. The classic glass-topped canal cruisers meet us, taking us on a sightseeing tour by this most appropriate of means – following the canals! The tour brings a real insight into Amsterdam’s history, art and peoples which has been at the heart of European culture and commerce for many centuries and often a fierce rival to British ambitions!
You will see a fascinating variety of sights: gabled-roofed buildings along the picturesque canalside waterfronts, outstanding museums, bridges immortalised by the great artists and the homes of Old Masters like Rembrandt and of the heroine Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl whose diaries tell such a poignant and extraordinarily moving tale of life under the Nazis.
After lunch on board, this afternoon is free to perhaps discover the interior of Anne’s house, or just wander where your feet take you, ambling along the picturesque canals, dodging Amsterdammers astride their bicycles, the most popular means of transport here which adds to the wonderfully relaxed ambience pervading the city. For the more culturally minded, spend time in one of the world’s great art galleries: the Rijksmuseum has an astonishing collection of 5,000 remarkable works by Vermeer, Rembrandt and a host of others, or perhaps, appropriately for Amsterdam, visit the nearby Van Gogh Museum with the world’s largest collection of masterpieces by this disturbed, yet genius of an artist.
There is much of his early work here, together with such masterpieces as: Bedroom in Arles, The Wheatfield and of course, the iconic Sunflowers.
Alternatively you may prefer to simply relax in one of the unique pavement cafés absorbing Amsterdam’s special atmosphere over a rich Dutch coffee, before returning to the ship for the Captain’s very special dinner and a chance to chat with like-minded people, reflecting on the many and varied faces of Holland which has always reserved such a warm welcome for its British visitors.
This morning at the appropriate time, we transfer to the train station or airport for our return journey.
Prices are based on twin share departing from London Gatwick airport. Other regional airports or Eurostar train are available – please call us for details.
|Date||Price (pp)||Ship||Depart UK||Arrive UK|
|01 Apr 2016||£649||MS Lord Byron||14:30info||15:55|
|05 Apr 2016||£679||MS Lord Byron||14:30info||15:05|
|09 Apr 2016||£709||MS Lord Byron||12:10info||15:55|
|13 Apr 2016||£739||MS Lord Byron||14:30info||14:30|
- Canal tour of Amsterdam – a city both vibrant and serene, with world-class art, picturesque canals and some of the world’s most beautiful diamonds
- Guided tour of Keukenhof Park, the stunning setting for the bulbfields and arguably the world’s finest floral display
- See six centuries of history in Volendam – Holland throughout the ages
- Visit to Enkhuizen, 17th century port of the Zuiderzee
- Price includes full-board from dinner on your day of arrival until breakfast on the day of departure
Prices are per person, based on two people sharing a twin cabin with a limited number of single cabins available on all decks, at the relevant supplement. The price includes full board from dinner on your day of arrival until breakfast on your final day; if you choose to travel with us on any of the full day excursions by coach, a packed lunch will be provided. Anyone choosing to stay on the ship may of course have lunch in the restaurant; morning/afternoon tea and coffee; all visits and excursions as mentioned in the brochure, airport/station transfers, coach travel as mentioned, travel to and from port of embarkation and the services of a Riviera Travel Tour Manager.