By Sheila Salmon, Cruise Director, Hebridean River Cruises 

Keukenhof Gardens
Sorry for any confusion but it is a reasonable question which is frequently asked.  To be honest, both are correct in a way – nowadays North and South Holland form two counties or provinces of The Netherlands, but from the 10th century to the 16th century, Holland proper was a unified political region, a county ruled by the Counts of Holland.   The Kingdom of the Netherlands first appeared in 1579 and since that time this has been the official name for the country which now boasts 12 provinces.  However, even the tourist board seems confused!

What else is there to learn about this near neighbour – well frankly there is nowhere else like The Netherlands.  A small country which delivers an historic and cultural experience far outweighing its size! 

In 2019 Hebridean River Cruises are offering two contrasting cruises around this fascinating nation and it’s low-lying neighbour, Belgium – and in a country where one fifth of the total area is water, and one third lies below sea level – a river cruise seems the logical way to travel.

Our first cruise in early April, Tulip Time in the Low Lands, will uncover delightful scenery as we explore the intricate network of inland waterways of The Netherlands and Belgium which flow through historic cities and charming countryside. Discover the contrasting highlights of these two enchanting countries, including a visit the spectacular Keukenhof Gardens, the largest flower garden in the world. Magnificent Amsterdam with its myriad of canals and unique townhouses, the bustling port of Rotterdam, the famous windmills of Kinderdijk, the silver city of Schoonhoven, and the medieval cities of Ghent and Bruges; this cruise will capture the essence of real Holland and Belgium with a perfect mix of cities, riverscapes and spring colour.

The second cruise, Flavours of the Low Countries, sails through a vast network of canals and rivers, stopping in key cities to soak up local culture and sample the produce for which this area is renowned.  Savour local beer in Europe’s diamond capital of Antwerp, enjoy the world-famous Belgian chocolate in historic Brussels, sip award-winning Dutch wines in Limburg and taste one of Holland’s biggest exports, cheese, as we explore the picturesque city of Gouda.   Combined with a visit to the spectacular Keukenhof Gardens, this voyage is a true feast for the senses.

Both cruises will also give you an impression of The Netherlands’ age-old fight against the sea as we cruise through some of the amazing network of waterways which epitomise the country – both natural and man-made.  There is of course the phrase which encapsulates this, “God created the world but the Dutch made Holland” and here again we are back where we started!

1st to 8th April 2020.
7 nights Amsterdam to Antwerp
Prices from £3,210 per person based on 2 people sharing an outside deluxe twin cabin.

8th to 15th April 2020.
7 nights Antwerp to Amsterdam
Prices from £3,210 per person based on 2 people sharing an outside deluxe twin cabin.