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One of our favorite European river cruises is a 7-night roundtrip jaunt from Amsterdam with Crystal River Cruises. While you may think you need two weeks to do Europe justice, this compact cruises packs a lot of punch in just one week. You’ll cruise the inland waters of the Netherlands and Belgium to discover the land of windmills, tulips and wooden shoes; marvel at the spectacular modern architecture of Rotterdam, the medieval charm of Ghent and the artistic masterpieces of Antwerp. With Crystal’s luxury reputation and all shore excursions included, it’s an enlightening and enriching look at the best of Holland and a taste of Belgium with visits to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Ghent, Antwerp and Middleburg. Best of all, you’ll spend two full nights in Amsterdam, allowing plenty of time to explore this treasured city without the need for a hotel. Yes, you really can do a fulfilling European river cruise in just a week!

Everyone has an image of Amsterdam. For some, it’s small boats gliding on the canals and locals two-wheeling on bikes to work and, as frequently, to meet friends for drinks. For others, it’s gabled buildings leaning, seemingly precariously, over cobbled streets and cozy taverns illuminated by candles. Still others imagine tulips in bloom and the paintings Vermeer, Van Gogh and Rembrandt. Each vision is even more beguiling when experienced in person.

Much of Rotterdam’s edgy, sophisticated personality is a result of the destruction of much of the city by the WWII blitz, which left it to be rebuilt with a contemporary approach to design. Modern, eye-catching buildings of concrete, glass and steel stand in stark contrast to the few remaining “old city” areas of Delfshaven, or Delft Harbor, and Oude Haven, or Old Harbor, and outstanding museums, hotels and restaurants consistently earn Rotterdam top rankings for best places to visit.

See buildings with stair-stepped gables, the meeting of the rivers Scheldt and Leie, intact and well-preserved medieval architecture, a brooding castle, and the famed Ghent Altarpiece. Ghent is a welcoming center of industry with a lively cultural scene. Walk along pretty canals, wander into stunning churches and appreciate the flowers adorning squares and alleyways as you explore what was once one of Europe’s richest cities and one that continues to enrich travelers.

What Milan is to Italy, Antwerp is to Belgium, a historic city that is on-trend with a finger on the pulse of fashion, art and entertainment. A dynamic energy fills Antwerp’s old squares, gorgeous with cobbled centers and edged, like a cake with decorative icing, by ornate buildings. High-reaching church towers and fountains with cherubic sculptures add to the feeling of antiquity, while the port – the largest in Belgium and one of the largest in the world – brings a sense of purpose and prosperity. Surely, you associate Antwerp with diamonds. More than 70 percent of all diamonds are traded through this sparkling city, one that also shines under the light of celebrated painter Peter Paul Rubens, who lived and worked in an Italianate city manse, now a museum.

A key player in the Golden Age of Dutch science and technology, Middelburg scientists are credited for the invention of the microscope and telescope. Famed explorer Jacob Roggeveen, who discovered Easter Island, was also a resident. Today, the city continues to thrive with its rich cultural and scientific history with gothic buildings, centuries-old canals and the Delft Market Square, where old and new worlds come together.

Select Waterways are your river and small ship cruise insiders, specializing in European river cruises, including Danube River cruises, Rhine River cruises, wine cruises, Seine River cruises, as well as China river cruises with Yangtze river cruises, Vietnam river cruises with Mekong River cruises, Russia river cruises with Volga river cruises, Nile river cruises, Africa river cruises and Amazon river cruises. Naturally, we have American river cruises with Mississippi River cruises, Ohio River Cruises, Columbia River cruises, Illinois River cruises and Tennessee River cruises. We also offer expedition cruises and small ship cruises throughout the world, with polar cruises such as Arctic cruises and Antarctica cruises among the most popular. Whether it’s luxury river cruising, premium river cruising, expedition cruising or small ship cruising, we’ve got you covered. Visit our website at www.selectwaterways.com or give us a call at 1.844.SWCRUISE (1.844.792.7847). Be sure to join our Insider Club by clicking here and Like our Facebook page by clicking here.

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