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I was fortunate enough to escort a small group of travelers on this beautiful river cruise with AmaWaterways on the lovely AmaCerto in April of 2024.

I was not new to river cruising but I was new to this region of the world where the "rivers" are a network of complex "waterways". Learning how the Netherlands has managed their lower-than-sea-level country and continuously worked to divert water, reclaim land, and even expand their country was pretty astounding. Once a shallow bay of the North Sea, we also sailed across the IJsselmeer, which was closed off by a man-made dyke transforming it into the biggest freshwater lake in Holland. The water was a bit rough in the lake one night due to rainstorms and wind but I was gratified to find that there was no ship movement to speak of, which was comforting!

We opted for the pre-cruise two-night stay in Amsterdam which I would definitely recommend as we were able to spend free time in the city exploring and enjoying an included walking tour.


While we were treated with a great variety of included excursions and saw beautiful and fascinating sites in Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, and Rotterdam, a few experiences stood out to me.

1 - Working Tulip Farm

In the province of Zeeland, we visited a family-operated tulip farm which was quite an educational and fascinating experience. We learned that the fields of tulips are not used for actual harvesting and that it's all about the bulbs. From harvesting them in the field to drying, peeling, and then re-cultivating them in water until they are blooming again, the life cycle is a year-round process with over 8000 varieties and colors available through this one farm.

When the bulbs start to bloom, they are then auctioned and flown all over the world to be sold in stores.

2 - Keukenhof Gardens

One of the most impressive public gardens in the world, Keukenhof, presents a spectacular 

display of millions of flowering tulips and other spring flowers spread out over 70 acres. This eye-popping exhibition is only open from mid-March to early May each year. While I expected to be "wowed", I wasn't totally prepared for the beauty of this place, made more spectacular as it is largely set among large trees, with small lakes and streams scattered throughout. It was quite crowded and that made for a challenge during the latter part of our visit but certainly no one left unimpressed!

3 - Kinderdijk, Netherlands

Granted, I thought the Windmills of Kinderdijk, a UNESCO-protected village of historic windmills, may be a bit touristy but I was pleasantly surprised at this beautiful park and wetlands area.  It was truly a page out of a storybook when we visited on a lovely spring afternoon, and while there were tourists, it wasn't overly crowded or commercialized with well-kept walking paths. I enjoyed a guided bike ride around the area with a stop at a windmill being used as a museum. Some of our group opted for a boat ride or walking tour.

4- Local Guides

For this trip probably more than any other river cruise so far, I noticed how fantastic the local guides are and how hard AmaWaterways works to make sure we are in small groups and have the best tour guides possible, gathering specific feedback from every guest. These guides were often natives of the towns and villages they helped us explore, took a huge interest in what they were doing, and enjoyed pointing out interesting tidbits of their family life, and favorite places to grab the local food specialties, like chocolate, fries, beef stew and cheese!

Want to visit this unique area or put together your own river cruise group? Message me to get started on a plan!


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