Day 1: Bruges – Aalterbrug – Ghent (13 miles/21 km)
When you arrive on board the ship you can put your luggage away in your cabin and then enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. It is also a good moment to become acquainted with the guide, skipper and crew, and of course your fellow passengers. At 2:00pm, you will start off the city walls of Bruges for a trip to Ghent. The barge will mostly be following the canal between Bruges and Ghent to Aalterbrug, which offers a beautiful, peaceful cycle route with an unexpected variety of experiences.
After dinner, you will have some time to discover the old and characteristic city center. Ghent is a big city with some 250,000 inhabitants. The name is said to have originated from the Celtic Ganda, meaning "mouth, confluence." Indeed, the rivers Leie and Schelde flow together in the centre of the town. In 630 the Holy Amandus founded St Baaf's Abbey. In the Middle Ages, Ghent became one of the most influential cities of Europe (approximately 56,000 inhabitants in 1350), due to the cloth industry. From the 14th to the 16th centuries, there were many conflicts with the lords of Flanders as well as within the city itself.
Economic decline set in, in 1584 when the town was captured by the Spaniards during the rebellion of the Netherlands against King Philips II and lasted for several centuries. The revival only came in the 19th century, when Ghent developed into an industrial town -and became a socialist stronghold at the same time. The city has many well-preserved guild's and patricians' houses as well as old warehouses, Gravensteen (a mediaeval castle), St Nicholas Church (with 13th century foundations), St Baaf's Cathedral (14thcentury, with the famous painting "De Aanbidding van het Lam," "The Mystic Lamb" by the Van Eijck brothers) and the "Belfort" (Belfry; 14th century).
The city of Ghent is proud of its rich past but is much more than just a museum town. This lively city with its numerous squares and cozy pubs is an excellent mixture of medieval edifices, stylish shopping streets, splendid mansions, working-class quarters from the beginning of the 20th century which now often house students and busy little squares where people eat out till the wee hours on a sultry summer night.
Overnight in Ghent
Day 2: Ghent – Dendermonde, cruising to St. Amands (29 miles/47 km)
Early Sunday morning you will cycle through the old center of Ghent. After coffee, you will leave for a nice day along the Scheldt, one of the most beautiful rivers of Europe.
After approximately 20 km you'll reach Wetteren, a nice flemish city which is well known for its rose nurseries. But also a good place to learn what the Belgium word "staminee" means. Berlare is the last place before Dendermonde so it's a perfect place to taste some Belgian beer before you board the ship again. Your boarding place for today is Dendermonde, a city which is known for the legend of the Beiaart. From Dendermonde you'll cruise to the quiet village of St. Amand where you will spend the night.
Overnight in St. Amands
Day 3: St. Amands – Antwerp (25 miles/40 km)
From St. Amands the cycle route leads you along the river and past nature reserves like the mudflats of Durme and Schausselbroek. Especially the mudflats of Durme is worth mentioning because it's one of the last freshwater marshes along this tidal part of the river and therefore has a unique flora and fauna.
You continue your tour through Bazel, one of the most beautiful villages of Belgium. For an escalator, the wooden moving stairs in the St. Anna tunnel under the Scheldt is a unique experience before entering the city center of Antwerp. The historical center of Antwerp is worth a visit, here you'll find: the OnzeLieveVrouwenkerk and the Rubenshuis. In the Willemsdok, near the Museum of Modern Art (Museum Aan de Stroom) you will find the barge.
Overnight in Antwerp
Day 4: Antwerp – Willemstad (35-40 miles/56-65 km)
This morning you'll cruise through the big harbor of Antwerp, a big difference with the nature reserves and quiet villages of yesterday. But due to the big sea-going vessels and large harbor cranes, it's a fascinating journey which brings you to Holland where you start your bike tour at the Kreekrak locks.
By bike, you will make a beautiful tour over the "Brabantse wal" a sand wall dating back to the times when Mammoths roam the area. Today you won't find any big elephants but the area seemed to be perfect for strawberry and asparagus fields. So harvest time is a great time to visit (depending on the weather: around June).
From the woodlands around Bergen op Zoom, you continue through a polder landscape to the old fortified town of Willemstad, near the Volkeraksluizen (locks) at the Haringvliet, the busiest locks of Europe.
Overnight in Willemstad
Day 5: Willemstad – Gorinchem (28 miles/45 km)
From Willemstad, you'll cruise to Werkendam where you go ashore to continue your tour by bike through the land of Heusden and Altena. Along the Bergse Maas, the south border of the land of Heusden and Altena, you continue your tour through the fortified town of Heusden. From here another river, the Afgedamde Maas leads you back to the river Waal where you started your tour this morning. Here you'll find another beautiful fortified town, Woudrichem. A ferry brings you to the other side of the river where you'll board the ship.
From here, the Afgedamde Maas leads you back to the river Waal where you started your tour this morning. Here you'll find Woudrichem, another beautiful fortified town. A ferry brings you to the other side of the river where you'll board the ship.
Overnight in Gorinchem
Day 6: Gorinchem – Vianen – Utrecht (31 miles/50 km)
From Gorinchem, you will follow the meandering river Linge through the Betuwe. This area is known for a large number of orchards and will be covered with blossoms in the months of April and May. Along the city of Leerdam, famous for its glass, you continue your tour north towards Utrecht. On your way toward Utrecht, you'll pass the so-called "Wiel van Bassa" the biggest dike burst hole in the Netherlands and another relic of the everlasting battle against the water. From Vianen, you'll cruise to Utrecht. After dinner, you can take a public bus to the old center of Utrecht.
Overnight in Utrecht
Day 7: Utrecht – Amsterdam (25 miles/40 km)
During breakfast, you will cruise to Breukelen and cycle to Amsterdam along the Vecht and the Amstel rivers, the two most beautiful rivers in Holland. Along the route, you will find the magnificent country houses and mansions from the 18th century with their splendid, well-kept gardens. After dinner, you have the option to take a canal cruise through the canals of Amsterdam.
Overnight in Amsterdam
Day 8: Amsterdam
End of the tour and disembarkation after breakfast.
This itinerary is subject to change with no notice.