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AMERICAN RIVER HOLIDAYS

AMERICAN RIVER HOLIDAYS

Our friends at American Queen Steamboat Company recently compiled a list of the best holidays to enjoy on a Mississippi River cruise and we thought we’d share their thoughts with you as we think they’re spot on. Because whether you hope to start a new family tradition, or simply enjoy a carefree, easygoing holiday, a river cruise on an elegant paddlewheeler is an experience to cherish. So, when to go and why?

THANKSGIVING

Traverse the mighty Mississippi, gather with family and friends to feast and take time to appreciate the many things we have to be thankful for. On an American Queen Steamboat Company riverboat, the staff has formed a family – they live and thrive together – and they welcome each guest as their kin. The smell of the harvest waltzes through the air – turkey, dressing, cranberries and more. Indulge in a feast fit for a queen without the stress of preparation and cleaning, ensuring a worry-free holiday. Viewings of the parade and football games invite travelers to dwell in the blessings of sweet nostalgia, and masterfully prepared tales of the adventures of Mark Twain transport the audience to a period much closer to the holiday’s origin.

AN AMERICAN MUSIC HOLIDAY

Memories are made of music, especially aboard the American Duchess. Wend your way through time and space with the songs of the ages as your guide. The spirits of Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan live on in the soul-stirring spectacle of special guest and Memphis legend Joyce Cobb, joined by her band. Almost no genre goes untouched by Cobb, from country, disco and R&B to her beloved jazz. Sounds of the season join modern favorites in a show guaranteed to warm hearts and inspire joy. Along the journey, merry activities enrich each day, from ornament decorating to singalongs of treasured tunes we all know and love.

PLANTATION HOLIDAY MARKETS

Amid the glittering elegance of an American Queen Steamboat Company holiday cruise is a seasonal spirit larger than life. Experience the best of the South during a magical time of year aboard the company flagship, the American Queen. Delight in all your favorite holiday treats while becoming acquainted with the classic traditions of the Cajun and Creole cultures. At the center of each holiday cruise is an enchanting gala at Nottoway Plantation, complete with live music. Watch each skillfully rehearsed footstep of costumed dancers, indulge in scrumptious hors d’oeuvres or decadent desserts and witness the ceremonial lighting of the bonfires on the levee.

NEW YEAR’S

New Year’s Eve is a time for reflection and celebration with family and friends. Honor the year’s end on board the American Queen or American Duchess for exclusive experiences. All week, the evening entertainment sets the scene for revelry with shows that reveal the gaiety of the season. On the big day, an onboard gala is planned to provide hours of music and dancing – complete with champagne toast. Just after midnight, fireworks launch from the levee over Nottoway Plantation.

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.

SEEING EUROPE BY RIVER

SEEING EUROPE BY RIVER

If you want to see the true soul and personality of a country, head into its heart. Our River Collection meanders into the center of fascinating cultures, grand palaces, acclaimed museums, historic sites, and quaint cafes and boutiques. Nurse a refreshing Vinho Verde on the Douro, a bold glass of Cabernet along the Gironde, a dry Chardonnay on the Seine, or a sweet Riesling on the Danube. Pedal a bike through Ghent and tour Avignon’s Papal Palace. Attend a pasta-making workshop in Bologna, discover the roots of Protestantism in Wittenberg and spoon caviar onto your blini pancakes along the Volga. Which river cruise will you choose?

DANUBE RIVER

One of the great rivers of Europe, the Danube is the second longest on the continent and flows through 9 countries. Walk in the footsteps of history in the medieval Bavarian streets of Nuremburg, buy a local trinket at the market in the center of Vilshofen, and admire the Gothic and Italian Baroque wonders of Passau. Explore the contrast between modern glass and steel buildings and the traditional architecture of Linz, visit the amazingly preserved medieval Czech town of Cesky Krumlov and sing in joy at the sounds of Salzburg’s musical legacy, birthplace of Mozart.

Explore the winding mountain roads of the Austrian Lake District, visit the glorious Benedictine Abbey at Melk, buy some apricot liqueur, and stroll the cobbled streets of Dürnstein. Enjoy an after-dinner wine tasting in Weissenkirchen, hike up to Bratislava Castle, and learn how to prepare stuffed potato ravioli from a local chef. In Vienna, bike through Donaupark and ride to Klosterneuburg Monastery, or discover the elegance of Vienna at its storied Opera House, the former Imperial Palace of the Habsburg Emperors, Parliament, Town Hall, Vienna University, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Graben, and the renowned Spanish Riding School.

Save your energy for Budapest with its spectacular views from Matthias Church, Buda Castle, and Fisherman’s Bastion. Visit intriguing Belgrade, and enjoy a Yugoslav Civil War tour of Vukovar followed by a trip to Vidin Castle in Bulgaria. A Danube cruise is a classic journey into the heart of Europe.

RHINE RIVER

Flowing 766 miles north through Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France, and Holland, the Rhine is perhaps the most famous of Europe’s rivers. Treasure a twilight cruise through colorful Amsterdam’s narrow homes lining the canals and a stroll through the Middle Ages among the buildings of Begijnhof. From Cathedral Square, admire Cologne’s splendid Gothic cathedral and in Koblenz, head ashore for a stein of beer made exactly as it has for centuries.

Cruise through the overwhelming natural beauty of the Rhine Gorge with its castles and fortresses perched high above the placid river. In Rüdesheim, taste the fruits of a vintner’s labor, soar above the streets on a gondola to Niederwalddenkmal Statue or go for a leisurely bike ride alongside the river. Spend a fascinating evening among the shops and taverns of Rüdesheim’s Drosselgasse, see a 49,000-gallon wine cask in Heidelberg, and explore one of Germany’s oldest cities in Speyer 

In Strasbourg, the capital of France’s Alsace region, amble through the enchanting La Petite France neighborhood, and in Breisach, sample a sweet Riesling and bike through the Rheinau woods. Explore the medieval old town center of Basel around Marktplatz, visit the 16th-century, red-sandstone Town Hall and take in the view from the 12th-century Gothic cathedral which shelters the grave of the 16th-century Dutch scholar Erasmus.

DORDOGNE, GARONNE, GIRONDE, MOSELLE, RHÔNE, SAÔNE AND SEINE RIVERS

The many winding rivers of France reveal a country more fascinating, refined, and welcoming than you ever imagined. Gaze down upon Paris from the resplendent Eiffel Tower and relish an impromptu lunch of baguettes, brie and chardonnay on the steps of Sacré-Cœur. Sip the sensational white wines of Cadillac, the rich Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignon of Pauillac, and enjoy a Grand Cru Classé wine tasting in Liborne.

Go for a bike tour of Bordeaux, the wine capital of the world, and visit the beguiling home and gardens of Impressionist master Claude Monet in Giverny. Stand in gratitude upon Omaha Beach in Normandy and in awe at the spot where Joan of Arc was martyred. Explore the hilltop ruins of Richard the Lionheart’s Château Gaillard, climb historic Fourvière Hill in Lyon, attend a wine tasting paired with chocolates at Le Château de Tournon, and tour Avignon’s Papal Palace.

ELBE AND MAIN RIVERS

Many cruises on the Elbe begin in magnificent Berlin and end in beguiling Prague. Along the way, tour a palace built by Prussian king Frederick the Great, discover the roots of Protestantism in Wittenberg at Martin Luther’s House and St. Marien’s Church, and learn how porcelain has been made by hand in Meissen since the early 1700s. Comb through Frauenkirche in Dresden, rebuilt after the bombings in World War II, and in the Green Vault view a stunning array of precious gemstones. Cruise among the other-worldly rock formations of the Saxon Switzerland region, visit Hradčany Castle in Prague and admire the glass dome atop the rebuilt Reichstag in Berlin. Though often incorporated as part of a Rhine or Danube cruise, the Main River has its own glittering cultural pearls, such as the famed 13th century Leaning Tower in Kitzingen and the Residenz Palace and gardens in Würzburg.

DOURO RIVER

Explore the cobblestone medieval streets of Porto and then leap ahead several centuries at the Museum of Modern Art in the Boavista area. Savor a wine and cheese tasting at Quinta de Avelada and discover the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Guimarães. Tour the majestic Mateus Palace in Régua, make a pilgrimage to the Nossa Senhora dos Remédios in charismatic Lamego, and enjoy the impressive gorges cradling the Douro river valley. Navigate the labyrinthine street of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, a 16th century town perched on a hilltop, and pop into a local market in Spain’s Vega Terrón.

PO RIVER

Ride a gondola along the canals of Venice and steal a kiss under the Bridge of Sighs, shop for glass treasures on Murano, and enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner at a café overlooking the city’s lagoon as the moon glimmers like a promise kept. Bicycle along Chioggia’s beaches, attend a pasta-making workshop in Bologna, and sip a glass of local Chianti as the Po River winds through northern Italy’s stunning countryside. Be sure to add in a trip to the designer boutiques of Milan and the ancient ruins of Rome before or after your voyage.

NEVA, SVIR, AND VOLGA RIVERS

Walk across the vast expanse of Red Square, gaze at the crenellated walls of the Kremlin, and ride subways with stations so ornate they appear to be museums. Onion-domed cathedrals abound in Russia’s capital but the best views of Uglich, founded in 1148, are from your ship on the Volga River. Learn the legend of Prince Yaroslavl the Wise of Kiev, who established his namesake town more than a thousand years ago. Tour Kuzino’s fabled Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery and stride among the buildings of Ishi’s Open Air Museum of Architecture. Spoon caviar on to your blini pancakes and discover the legacy of Communism with a visit to a Soviet-era kommunalka.

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.

MORE EUROPE FOR WINDSTAR IN 2020

MORE EUROPE FOR WINDSTAR IN 2020

You can do a European cruise or you can really see Europe. With our partner Windstar Cruises, you can do both. And we’re happy to say that in 2020 they’re upping their game.

The small ship cruise line just announced its an in-depth exploration of Europe in 2020, featuring a variety of itineraries sailing through the Baltic, Norwegian, North, Tyrrhenian, and Mediterranean seas visiting hidden harbors and small ports of call not accessible by larger cruise ships. There are new and returning ports in Greece, Turkey (plus overnights in Istanbul), Israel, and Egypt – along with new ports of call in Cyprus, France, and Iceland – 2020 promises to be a chance to discover Europe like never before. Windstar’s 312-passenger Star Legend will debut in Europe in July of 2020 and sail in the region through November after an extensive renovation as part of the line’s comprehensive $250 Million Star Plus Initiative, featuring the addition of 50 new suites, two restaurants, an enhanced spa and fitness center, an elevated pool, and several other upgrades on board each of the line’s three Star Class ships. 

Despite the diverse array of new European ports, Windstar’s Director of Itinerary Planning Jess Peterson is most excited for the Sail Amsterdam Celebration in 2020. “Windstar’s Wind Surf, the largest sailing cruise ship in the world, will be anchored in the company of legendary sailing ships over three days at Sail Amsterdam, a global event that only occurs every five years,” Peterson explained, adding that Windstar is the only commercial cruise line to offer this one-of-a-kind experience. “The ship will be in Amsterdam proper, which allows guests to view the event from on land and on board and will be the ultimate viewing location for the parade of dozens of unique sailing vessels, with fireworks displays overhead.”

Also of note in 2020, is not one but two epic European voyages. These 60+ day itineraries are port-intensive journeys with few days spent at sea. One itinerary aboard Wind Surf will include the Sail Amsterdam experience outlined above. It begins in Sweden and ends in Italy, visiting 48 total ports in 20 countries over 62 days in Northern Europe and the western and central Mediterranean. Another itinerary will sail from Iceland to Greece over 66 days aboard the newly reimagined Star Legend, visiting 53 ports in Iceland, Faroe Islands, Scotland, Norway, Northern Ireland, Wales, England, France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Italy, Malta, Greece, and Turkey.

Other new itinerary highlights for Windstar’s Europe 2020 Season include:

Rome & Grand Prix of Monaco returns onboard Wind Surf. Because the ship is the largest commercial sailing ship in the world, she’ll make a scene-stealing arrival in glamorous Monte Carlo. The itinerary will explore unique small ports like Portofino, Bastia, and Saint Raphael. For the first time in 2020, this themed cruise will also be a portion of a longer sailing, meaning guests can pair the experience with another cruise.

Quintessential Croatia will be a James Beard Foundation Culinary Cruise Collection sailing, with eight days aboard Wind Surf from Venice to Venice while Autumn on the Atlantic Coast will boast the cultural ports of Bilbao, Spain; Bordeaux, France; and Honfleur, France – a maiden port for Windstar that has been heralded as “the prettiest harbor in all of France.” This cruise will also be a James Beard Foundation Culinary Cruise Collection offering.

Greece, Israel & Egypt: Footsteps of Faith in the Holy Lands will include Windstar’s return to Cypress; Haifa and Ashdod in Israel; and Alexandria and Port Said in Egypt after a several-year absence from each. Late nights/overnights mean that guests can arrange overland tours to Petra, Jerusalem, and even Cairo and the Egyptian Pyramids.

Greece via the Corinth Canal & Turkey: The Marvels of Ancient Rivals will witness the first-ever Windstar visit to Lemnos, Greece, the return of Windstar to Istanbul after a several-year absence (and an overnight), as well as the lovely “old Venetian harbor” of Chania on Crete. Also notable is the transit of the Corinth Canal – a legendary passage only small ships like Windstar’s Star Legend can negotiate.

Ancient Epicenters in Autumn via the Corinth Canal will be an interesting journey from Athens to Rome with stops in Delphi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; Valletta, Malta; and transit of the famed Corinth Canal.

Eire with Fire & Ice: Ireland and Iceland’s Overlooked Treasures will access natural destinations inaccessible to larger ships as well as make a first-ever stop in Djupivogur, Iceland (the gateway to the Jokulsarion Glacier Lagoon, one of Iceland’s most popular attractions).

Fado Folksongs, Tapas & Crystal: Portugal, Spain, Britain & Ireland promises unique stops in Isles of Scilly, England (known for the best and most unspoiled beaches in Cornwall), along with Fishguard, Whales and Waterford, Ireland.

Booking is now open for Europe 2020 on more than 80 itineraries on 116 cruise dates throughout the season, with rates starting at $2,399 per person, double occupancy. The majority of cruise departures in Europe are aboard Wind Surf, Wind Star, and Star Legend, with a limited number of sailings available as early as February 20 and as late as November 20, 2020 on board the Star-Plus renovated Star Breeze and Star Pride.

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.

ALASKA BY SMALL SHIP

ALASKA BY SMALL SHIP

It used to be that there were only two ways to see Alaska. You either had to go by a megaship carrying as many as 4,000 people or on a tiny ship with fewer than 100 but with few amenities. Fortunately, we’ve found the perfect balance with Windstar Cruises and their Alaska cruises by luxury small-ship. Here’s a sample of what you can share with only 200 like-minded travelers on a 12-night roundtrip Alaska cruise from Vancouver.

VANCOUVER

Vancouver’s location at the mouth of the Fraser River and on the waterways of the Strait of Georgia, Howe Sound, Burrard Inlet and all their tributaries makes this busy seaport an easy place for meeting. It is one of Canada’s most populated, most ethnically diverse cities and a popular filming location. Visit the interesting neighborhoods of Gastown, Granville Island and Chinatown. Walk across the Capilano Suspension Bridge and stroll through Stanley Park. Roam the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Museum of Anthropology. There is an amazing variety of things to see and do here.

SCENIC CRUISING CANADIAN INSIDE PASSAGE

Cruise the fjords of Canada’s Inside Passage, which boast centuries-old coastal rainforests, beaches, waterfalls and mountains. Over 25,000 miles of rugged coastline lie in Canada’s Inside Passage, joining Alaska’s 15,000 miles of inside waters and providing a safe and sheltered West Coast waterway transit.  In this isolated wilderness look for coastal First Nations longhouses fronted with proud totems and a variety of marine life, from orcas and porpoises to some of the largest populations of bald eagles in the world.

METLAKATLA, ALASKA

Located on Annette Island, 15 miles southwest of Ketchikan and midway in the Inside Passage 600 miles from Seattle, Washington and 600 miles from Skagway, Alaska, Metlakatla is the only settlement of the indigenous Tsimshian people in the U.S.  Membership in this community is by Tsimshian lineage but may also include other Alaska Native tribes who wish to join. Visitors to the community can take in dance and song shows in the longhouse performed by local dancers dressed in full Tsimshian regalia.

WRANGELL, ALASKA

One of the oldest towns in Alaska, Wrangell is located near the mouth of the Stikine River. Much of its history can be seen in the impressive collection of totems scattered throughout the town. Highlights here are the amazing Petroglyph Beach State Historic Park, where you can find primitive rock carvings, and just 30 miles away the Anan Wildlife Observatory with the largest pink salmon runs in the Inside Passage as well as a platform from which you can look for eagles, harbor seals and black bears.

SCENIC CRUISING TRACY ARM / ENDICOTT ARM, ALASKA

Stunningly beautiful Tracy Arm is a fjord 45 miles south of Juneau that actually consists of two deep and narrow fjords – Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm. Both fjords are over 30 miles long. At the end of Tracy Arm are the impressive twin Sawyer Glaciers. Wildlife in the area includes black and brown bears, deer, wolves, harbor seals and a variety of birds. What you’ll be able to see today and how far we can travel up Tracy Arm is weather and ice dependent.

SCENIC CRUISING INIAN ISLANDS / ICY STRAIT POINT

Managed by the Forest Service, these scenic Inian Islands are located in Icy Strait near the entrance to Glacier Bay. Several small pieces of land make up these islands, with dense tree growth that provides a restful home to deer. This has become a popular area for sea kayaking.

ICY STRAIT POINT, (HOONAH) ALASKA

Privately owned Icy Strait Point is a tourist destination and the only privately owned cruise destination in Alaska. It is the property of 1,350 Alaskan natives with aboriginal ties to Hoonah and the Glacier Bay area. Visitors here enjoy an educational experience learning about Alaska’s native cultures, and the natural history of the region. There is much to do here including a brown bear search, tram excursion, flightseeing over Glacier Bay and the biggest zipline in the United States.

JUNEAU, ALASKA

Located on the Gastineau Channel in the Alaskan panhandle, Juneau sits at sea level below steep mountains between 3,500-4,000 feet high. Atop these mountains is the Juneau Icefield, a large ice mass from which about 30 glaciers flow, and two of them – Mendenhall Glacier and Lemon Creek Glacier – are visible from the local road. A unique feature of Juneau is that it is the only U.S. capital that has no roads connecting it to the rest of the state.

MISTY FJORDS, ALASKA

Misty Fjords, with its gorgeous views of natural formations, is a national monument and wilderness area with steep valleys formed by glaciers and lava flows. It is part of the Tongass National Forest and is about 40 miles east of Ketchikan along the Inside Passage. With its icy blue lakes, waterfalls, snowcapped peaks and glacial valleys literally everywhere you point your camera you will get a postcard picture, depending on the weather of course. For a more up-close opportunity in this beautiful scenic sanctuary, optional expeditions excursions will be available.

KETCHIKAN, ALASKA

Dubbed the Salmon Capital of the World, Ketchikan is the southeastern-most town in Alaska and is home to the world’s largest collection of standing totem poles, which are found throughout the city and at four major locations: Saxman Totem Park, Totem Bight State Park, Potlatch Park and the Totem Heritage Center. Other attractions of Ketchikan are Creek Street, a boardwalk road built on pilings over Ketchikan Creek, and the Waterfront Promenade, which skirts the bustling shoreline with inviting whale-tail benches to take in the view.

PRINCE RUPERT, BC, CANADA

Picturesque Prince Rupert, located on Kaien Island just north of the mouth of the Skeena River, is rich in culture and heritage. Prince Rupert was founded in 1910 on a site that has been inhabited by First Nations people for over 10,000 years. The area teems with wildlife like whales, eagles, salmon and grizzly bears.

SCENIC CRUISING CANADIAN INSIDE PASSAGE

Cruise the fjords of Canada’s Inside Passage, which boast centuries-old coastal rainforests, beaches, waterfalls and mountains. Over 25,000 miles of rugged coastline lie in Canada’s Inside Passage, joining Alaska’s 15,000 miles of inside waters and providing a safe and sheltered West Coast waterway transit.  In this isolated wilderness, look for coastal First Nations longhouses fronted with proud totems and a variety of marine life, from orcas and porpoises to some of the largest populations of bald eagles in the world.

VANCOUVER, BC, CANADA

Return to Vancouver and bring your Alaska adventure to a close. It’s time to call Select Waterways and book your next voyage with Windstar Cruises!

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.

GOING DUTCH

GOING DUTCH

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.