Not sure about you, but after such a long, brutal winter in New York, spring couldn’t come fast enough. I’ve been patiently waiting for milder temperatures to make the snow and ice fade away and give way to blooming buds and plush greenery everywhere (although I can do without the allergies).
Immediately linking that blooming spring thought to travel, I thought about all the various scenic places in the world where it would be amazing to watch spring come to life. I quickly visualized endless fields of beautiful flowers with rolling green hills in the background, and before I knew it, and as The Sound of Music starts to play in my mind, I had transported myself to a river cruise through The Netherlands.
River cruise you say? Yes! River Cruise! – I’m not talking about your 1500 passenger Goliath sea-faring machines sailing the oceans blue, but picture a long, sleek ship giving you the feel of a boutique hotel, where every room not only has a “giant” view, but fares tall-friendly queen or king-sized beds. Also, you have only the best gourmet meals and drinks, tons of included activities and the utmost personalized service. Before transporting you to the “Low Countries,” let me give you a recap to some of the perks river cruising:
1 – Unpack once and get comfortable – A river cruise offers you the opportunity to visit different cities and enjoy the amenities of a first-class hotel from which you’ll never feel uprooted because your hotel travels with you!
2 – Dock right in the heart of historic cities – Enjoy the excitement of waking up in a new town, docked just steps from markets, museums and landmarks. The ship rests close to the town center so you can easily sample local culture and favorite past times. Simply walk off the ship and into the heart of the city. Discover local delights on shore then return to your large, stylish stateroom and watch the scenery slip by from your balcony as you leisurely sail to your next destination.
3 – Discover the world’s most scenic waterways – Cruise some of the original highways of the world, connecting some of the world’s oldest cities. When river cruising through Europe, you’ll find yourself surrounded by rolling vineyards, giant hilltop castles and historically known cities. Vibrant locales not accessible by sea or that can take hours to reach by motor coach are up close and personal on a river cruise.
4 - Intimate environment and inclusive value – With river vessels accommodating roughly 150 passengers, you will never wait in a long line to board or disembark and the inclusive tours are always small and intimate. You get incredible value from the champagne breakfast and free-flowing hand-selected European wines with lunch and dinner to a fleet of bicycles, free Internet access and live cultural entertainment onboard. On a river cruise, your vacation’s price tag doesn’t keep adding up….and the only time this giant likes to keep small is the amount of money he’s taking out of his pocket!
5 - A smooth, relaxing way to cruise – Some of us can’t even think of a cruise without taking a Dramamine. Unlike ocean cruising, soft-flowing river waters are always peaceful and smooth, so leave any fears of motion sickness behind.
Now back to some of the most picturesque destinations to experience spring in bloom!
Although it’s something not to be missed, Amsterdam is so much more than the Red Light district. One should definitely explore its unique and elegant architecture, lively cafés and markets, and vibrant nightlife. When you river cruise through Amsterdam you get to really take in this modern city’s rich and fascinating 700-year old history. Imagine waking up and looking out of your stateroom balcony to a scenic morning cruise through the historic harbor and canals of Amsterdam. Visit the beautiful homes that line the water, and the fabled Skinny Bridge, and the famous house where Anne Frank spent years in hiding during World War II. When it comes to the beauty of the seasons Amsterdam boasts one of the most spectacular of springtime blooms in the world!
If in Amsterdam in the spring you must admire the spectacular display of millions of flowering tulips at the world famous 70-acre Keukenhof Gardens (pictured). It’s so large that any giant can not only lose themselves but actually belnd in amongst the enormous trees and the world’s largest flower garden, known as the Garden of Europe. It’s a place that is a blend of a Crayola explosion, a Van Gogh inspired masterpiece, where a yellow brick road would seem fitting going through it and where Alice probably ended up after falling through the rabbit hole.
From there you can then cruise towards Volendam, and while in Volendam Harbor, go see the fishing fleet and fish auction building. Then you can continue to Edam, a picturesque town with a rich historic past and visit the Old Quarter’s beautiful houses, canals, bridges and churches, including one of the largest in Holland, the Grote Kerk (Great Church). From there your cruise can take you on to Arnhem, where you can enjoy a tour of the most stunning royal residence in Holland, Het Loo Palace (pictured), with lavishly furnished rooms and meticulously sculpted gardens. Your next stop must be the charming 400-year old town of Willemstad where you must visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kinderdijk (pictured), a lovely village renowned for having the country’s greatest concentration of windmills, all dating from the 1500s.
And finally, in a land where the average Dutch man is 6’1” and woman 5’9”, Holland, along with other northern European countries, are a perfect destination to make us giants feel like we blend.
**Please note that although we highlighted northern Europe as a premier river cruise destination, you can also river cruise all over the world in places like China, Russia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Egypt, Italy, Portugal, South Africa and even the good ol’ Mississippi.
For information on river cruising of best places to enjoy the Spring bloom and additional tips on the locations mentioned above, including current promotions and rates, contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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