Day 1 - UK - Amsterdam - Hoorn
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home for your journey to Dover, where we take a break before boarding our coaches, for the Channel crossing to Calais and onward journey to Amsterdam. Upon arrival, embark MS Serenade 1 (4T), where light refreshments are available.
Day 2 - Hoorn - Enkhuizen
Tulips cannot fail to lift your spirit with their wonderful colours. They are a symbol of the arrival of spring, and forever associated with the Netherlands, where great festivals celebrate them in April and May. After their introduction here in the 16th century, their popularity grew to the point that in the 1630s a single rare bulb was reputedly worth more than ten times a craftsman’s annual salary. This morning we have a lecture on board MS Serenade 1 to learn more about tulips, before exploring Hoorn independently, or on an optional excursion. This beautiful little city gained popularity for its natural advantage as a trade port, most notably during the time of the Dutch East India Company. Its history can be seen in the old city centre and the harbour; and the West Frisian Museum focuses on the town’s ‘Golden Age’, taking you on a walk through Hoorn in 1650. We return to the ship to enjoy lunch as we sail to Enkhuizen, where you have time to walk through the old city, where 16th century fortifications and state mansions show the historical power, or visit Zuiderzeemuseum to see the past brought to life.
Day 3 - Enkhuizen (Keukenhof) - Lelystad
Today we visit the most famous of the Netherlands’ gardens, and a must-see for anyone with a love for spring flowers. Keukenhof is filled with the glorious colours of crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths and tulips, planted across 32 hectares of gentle landscape. The inspirational gardens hold seven million bulbs, including 800 varieties of tulip, with the Historical Garden focusing on 400 years of tulip cultivation in the Netherlands. And if this is not enough, a long list of flower shows display yet more colourful blooms through the season. We rejoin MS Serenade 1 in Lelystad, in time for dinner this evening.
Day 4 - Zaandam
Zaandam developed as an important industrial town in the Golden Age, powered by a forest of windmills. The thousands of iconic towers milled wood for paper and shipbuilding industries, flour and oil. Take an optional excursion to Zaanse Schans to experience 18th and 19th century life in a unique village of windmills. Smell fresh bread in the bakery, taste cheese at the factory and visit a clog factory or cheese shop, as you make your way around the various windmills. Alternatively, spend your day relaxing in Zaandam, and maybe visit the beautiful, humble 17th century dwelling of Czaar Peterhuisje, which housed Peter the Great when he first visited the Netherlands.
Day 5 - Rotterdam
Spend the whole day in Rotterdam, with an included tour of the Royal Delft Factory. This earthenware factory is the last of its kind from the 17th century, and still uses centuries-old hand-painting traditions. On our tour, you can see the craftsmen producing the iconic blue and white porcelain and ceramic tiles, and wander through the museum filled with jars, plates, unusual tulip vases, items made for the Dutch royal family and a reproduction of Rembrandt’s Night Watchmen, in their own unique style. The rest of the day is at leisure in this modern city, with a maritime tradition and plenty more excellent museums to find.
Day 6 - Kinderdijk - Amsterdam
After breakfast, we visit the Kinderdijk Windmills. Like much of the Netherlands, Kinderdijk lies below sea level, four metres below the River Rhine. This UNESCO-protected site contains the country’s largest collection of windmills, which have pumped water from the area since around 1740. Two of the 19 beautiful windmills that stand here contain museums that explain how they prevent floods, and show how families lived here centuries ago. We return to our ship for lunch and enjoy the views as we cruise back to Amsterdam.
Day 7 - Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a favourite amongst Europe’s cities - filled with the tilting gabled buildings that mark the great Golden Age, holding fascinating insights into the lives of world-renowned artists, craft breweries, quaint pancake parlours and an incredibly diverse selection of museums. We take a tour this morning, including a cruise along the famous canals, to discover the city’s inspiring past. Then spend the afternoon at leisure, maybe learning about the Frank family, whose lives were documented so candidly by Anne Frank as they lived in hiding on Prinsengracht; or in awe of masterpieces at the glorious Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum or Hermitage.
Day 8 Amsterdam - UK
After breakfast we board our waiting coaches for the return journey to Calais and Channel crossing. Upon arrival in Dover, your Titan vehicle will be waiting for the journey home.