2013 Holland riverboat cruise tour

Tulip time in Holland

Few things are more breathtaking than experiencing fields of vibrant tulips set against a background of historic windmills, quite - coastal villages and historic monuments. This is Holland in the spring.
In May 2013, Flying Wheels Travel hosted our inaugural fully accessible riverboat cruise on the MS Alegria. This is the only accessible riverboat in Europe, featuring ten accessible cabins with roll-in showers, accessible public restrooms, elevator service to all decks on the boat and ramps directly from the boat to the piers.

The boat, which is really a floating boutique hotel, is a relaxing and easy way to see many villages and cities along the European waterways. The staff of the boat makes you feel comfortable and provide a home feeling. The boat can accommodate a maximum of 100 passengers and provides a wonderful intimate feeling with the opportunity for guests to mingle and make friends without feeling crowed.

Our guests on the cruise had the opportunity to make new friends from various parts of the world. They really appreciated the chance to meet and visit with many people and the crew.

Our riverboat tour departed from Rotterdam, which is a short ride by accessible motor coach from the Amsterdam airport. From Rotterdam we cruised pass many windmills and charming homes to the village of Shoonhaven. The village was once an important silver smith community and still today, you may find unique silver jewelry and objects at the local shops.

Our group had a wonderful stroll through the old city wall gates and around the lovely town canal that also serves as the village’s main pedestrian shopping area.

The wonderful thing about this cruise is that we were always docked overnight, so that after a nice dinner on the boat, we were able to have lovely evening strolls. The boat always departed in the morning for the next stop, which gave us a wonderful opportunity to view the beautiful scenery along the way. This was much better versus some ships sailing at night thus missing the sights along the way.

Late April and early May is one of the best times to visit Holland and The Netherlands because of the many fields of tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and other bulb flowers. In some places the landscape is painted in many rows of color as if a Dutch painter himself was set free.

Nowhere can you see so many tulips and other bulbs as the Keukenhof Gardens outside of Amsterdam, which was our second stop. These gardens feature more than seven million bulbs in bloom. There are so many flowers, so many colors, patterns, and so much inspiration in these gardens one is almost overwhelmed by the beauty and fragrance.

After visiting the gardens, we had plenty of time to stroll about Amsterdam to view the canals, fascinating architecture and culture that makes Amsterdam a world famous tourist destination. We had the opportunity to enjoy the 17th century historical atmosphere and relaxed environment. The small scale of the buildings and the intimacy of the streets, canals and squares create an atmosphere that visitors find unique.

Our third stop of the cruise was Enkhuizen. In the 17th century, Enkhuizen was one of the wealthiest cities of Holland. Its rich history is still noticeable today as you stroll through the old inner city with its numerous state mansions, canals, churches, city walls and harbors.

While in Enkhuizen, our group visited the open-air museum, which retells the stories of the people who once lived on the shore of the Zuiderzee (Zuider Lake). The museum features inhabitants who live as if they did during the old times. Visitors are able to experience the real lives of people such as the housemaid scrub the stoop, the town crier spread the news, people smoking herring and eel and local merchants of the time.

Our group especially enjoyed learning how to make their own jumping rope and seeing life on the polder (reclaimed land from the sea).

Our next stop was the island of Texel. Texel is the largest Dutch Wadden Island that is a part of an archipelago stretching from The Netherlands to Denmark. Texel is famously known because of its enormous amount sheep and birds. The most famous bird is the Spoon Bill which stops on Texel during it yearly migration from Africa to the north.

Our group enjoyed a scenic tour of Texel and learned about the influence of the North Sea on the island and how through centuries, man has learned to tame its effects. We also visited the wildlife sanctuary famous for the Gray Seal.

Our fifth stop on the cruise was Hoorn. The glorious days of Hoorn lead back to the 17th century when it was one of the important towns of Holland. Just like Amsterdam and Enkhuizen, the city of Hoorn became a very wealthy town. Nowadays, several dozen monuments and churches help make you feel the historical atmosphere.

Our last stop on the cruise was Volendam a small fishing village. This small village is filled with unique shops and cafes. Our group enjoyed watching the cheese making demonstrations at the cheese factory and sampling the local fare of cakes and smoked fish.

This riverboat cruise has provided our guests with a wonderful experience and a great opportunity to visit a sampling of all The Netherlands has to offer.

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