A Springtime River Cruise on Avalon Waterways

Spring is a beautiful time of the year in the Netherlands when the flowers are blooming. Avalon sails the Dutch & Belgian waterways from March through May offering you a chance to see the beautiful tulips in bloom and also many other sites unique to this region.

Tulip Fields in South Holland

Tulip Fields in South Holland

By Alessandro Vecchi (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Avalon Waterways offers an 8-day “Tulip Time Cruise” package, which travels through the Netherlands and Belgium. The company also has an 8-day “Tulips of North Holland” package, which travels through the Netherlands only. While Avalon offers two different itineraries during the tulip season, other river cruise suppliers feature only one.

New Ships for Avalon Waterways

You’ll find a couple of new vessels sailing along the Dutch & Belgian waterways. The Avalon Poetry – built in 2014 - is the smaller vessel measuring 361 feet in length. It has 12 staterooms and 52 suites and is the same size as the Avalon Artistry II. The latter ship was built in 2013, so it’s also a newer vessel.

The larger ships are the Avalon Impression (built 2014) and the Avalon Expression (built 2013. These ships are 443 feet long – as long as the Viking Longships – with 16 staterooms and 52 suites! 

On both vessel types, you’ll find three different stateroom categories to choose from:

Avalon Deluxe Stateroom (Category E) - 172 sq. ft.

Panorama Suites (Category A, B, and P) - 200 sq. ft.

Royal Suites - 300 sq. ft.

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Avalon Waterways "Tulip Time Cruise"

Your journey will begin in the vibrant city of Amsterdam. This is also where you will return at the end of your trip. Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and is located in the province of North Holland. Connected to the North Sea via the North Sea Canal, there are a few other canals in Amsterdam as well as the Amstel River.

Amstel river in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amstel river in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam Autor: Melanie via Wikimedia Commons

If you choose to take the “Tulip Time Cruise”, you will travel southward to the city of Schoonhoven after departing Amsterdam. It’s located in South Holland and is famous for its silver and clockmaking shop. A stop in Schoonhoven will be to visit a tulip garden and Kinderkijk, though. 

A trip to Keukenhof Gardens will be one of the highlights of your trip. Although, you won’t see the long tulip fields at Keukenhof, you will be able to see nearly 80 acres of flowers bulbs in a variety of colors, including red, pink, purple, orange and yellow. The Gardens are obviously very popular for tourists attracting about 7 million visitors per year!

Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands

Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands

By Tiago Fioreze (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

You will also be able to visit the city of Kinderdijk while your cruise ship is docked in Schoonhoven. It is located at the confluence of the Lek and Noord Rivers and is about 15 miles east of Rotterdam. 

Kinderdijk is famous for having the largest collections of windmills in the Netherlands. The 19 windmills have been a UNESCO World Heritge Site since 1997.

Windmills of Kinderdijk By Malis (My own photo taken by my own camera) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Windmills Near Kinderdijk, Netherlands

By Malis (My own photo taken by my own camera) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A few other cities you’ll visit on this river cruises include Veere and Middelburg. Both are both located in southwestern Netherlands. And the city of Veere sits on Walcheren Island.

Maastricht is south of Amsterdam and about 61 miles southeast of Antwerp. It’s located on the Meuse River and a few other waterways.

In Belgium you’ll visit Ghent, which lies at the confluence of the Sheldt and Lys Rivers. It is the capital and largest city in East Flanders.

Graslei Street in Ghent, Belgium

Graslei Street in Ghent, Belgium

By Alvesgaspar (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

You’ll also tour the city of Antwerp, Belgium. It’s located on the eastern bank of the Scheldt River and is indirectly connected to the North Sea via the Westerschelde estuary.

The Scheldt and Lys Rivers meet in Ghent and flow westward into the Netherlands.


Avalon Waterways "Tulips of North Holland"

If you choose to take the “Tulips of North Holland”, your trip will also begin and end in Amsterdam. However, instead of traveling southward toward Belgium, your river cruise will take place entirely within the Netherlands.

City of Haarlem on the Spaarne River in the Netherlands

City of Haarlem on the Spaarne River in the Netherlands

By Jane023 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

After arriving in Amsterdam, you’ll be transported to Haarlem. This is where you’ll board your ship. Haarlem is about 12 miles west of Amsterdam and is located on the Spaarne River. This city is also known as Bloemenstad or the “flower city”, because it is at the center of the flower-growing region.

Your journey will continue northward to as your ship heads to Volendam.  While docked at this port, you’ll have the option to visit the tulip fields in Enkuizen – just like you see in the pictures! 

The Noordhollandsch Kanaal, which flows through the city of Alkmaar, is one of the major waterways in this area. The canal stretches about 47 miles connecting several cities in North Holland. Floating bridges known as vlotbrgueen are a unique feature of the canal.

The province of Friesland is east of North Holland across the Ijsselmeer, which is the largest lake in western Europe. The Ijsselmeer is indirectly connected to the Rhine via the Ijssel River. 

You’ll spend the day in Friesland visiting the city of Sneek. The following day, your cruise ship will begin to travel in a southerly direction as you visit a few other cities.

The Ijssel River in Kampen

The Ijssel River in Kampen

By Hsf-toshiba at nl.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Some of the waterways in this area are tributaries of the Rhine River, including the Ijssel and Nederrijn Rivers. The city of Arnhem is located on both banks of the Nederrijn. 

When your ship departs Arnhem, you’ll travel westward to Rotterdam. This stop is where you’ll be able to visit the 70-acre Keukenhof Gardens before reboarding your ship in Utrecht. Another canal in the Netherlands - the Oudegracht or “old canal” flows through the city of Utrecht.

Your river cruise journey will end in Amsterdam

Whichever itinerary you choose from Avalon Waterways, your certain to experience the magic of the tulip blooms while you visit the Netherlands during the springtime.

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Lauri Wakefield is a travel writer who specializes in river cruises in Europe and the U.S. Connect with her on FacebookTwitter and Google+.

[This page may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.]

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