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Tuesday, March 29, 2011-Leave Washington Dulles at 6:25 P.M. on British Airways Flight 216 (Business Class: Boeing 747) to London Heathrow.

Wednesday, March 30-Arrive London Heathrow at 6:25 A.M. (3,670 miles). Leave London Heathrow at 12:35 P.M. on British Airways Flight 394 (Business Class: Airbus 319) to Brussels. Arrive Brussels 2:45 P.M. (217 miles). Brussels Le Meridien Hotel PHOTOS

March 31-Brussels. Leave Brussels at 11:30 A.M. on Brussels Airlines Flight 3619 (Economy Class: Airbus A319-Vicky). Arrive Nice, France at 1:20 PM (516 miles).Brussels Le Meridien Hotel PHOTOS

Friday, April 1-Brussels. Visit Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial near Neupré to view uncle’s grave (Jim). Brussels Le Meridien Hotel PHOTOS

Saturday, April 2-Brussels. Leave Nice at 3:55 P.M. on Brussels Airlines Flight 3622 (Economy Class: Airbus A319-Vicky). Arrive Brussels at 5:35 PM (516 miles) Brussels Le Meridien Hotel PHOTOS

Sunday, April 3-Transfer by train to Antwerp to River Queen Cruise Ship. PHOTOS

Monday, April 4-Antwerp. Tour the diamond capital of the world. Take walking tour to the Cathedral of Our Lady (Gothic church built from 1352 to 1521), which houses masterpieces by Peter Paul Rubens, who was born in Antwerp. Visit Market Square (Grote Markt), surrounded by 16th-century facades topped by gilded figures.  See the House of Crossbowmen, the tallest guild house, topped by figures of St. George and the Dragon. View Coopers’ House and its statue of St. Matthew.  In the middle of Grote Markt, see Brabo Fountain; legend says that Brabo was involved in the naming of Antwerp.  A fight between Brabo and the giant, Antigonus, won by Brabo resulted in Brabo throwing the hands of the giant into the Scheldt River, a punishment the giant had extracted many times from sailors who refused to pay a toll to him. Antwerp literally means “hand throw.”  After the morning tour, the rest of the day is at leisure or a visit can be made to Diamondland, a large diamond showroom. Captain’s Welcome Gala in evening. PHOTOS

Tuesday, April 5-Bruges. Visit Bruges, one of the best preserved Medieval cities of Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bruges began as a fort built by the first Count of Flanders to defend against Viking invaders.  Eventually, Bruges became the center of the 14th century cloth trade. As it prospered, it spawned a wealth of beautiful churches and mansions. Traders came from around the world for its Flemish cloth.  The city became a service center as well, offering banking, money-changing and maritime insurance. Bruges will be explored initially on foot while walking past the Begijnhof and the Church of Our Lady.  Afterwards cruise boats will sail through Bruges’ picturesque canals to view the “Venice of the North.” Later, proceed again on foot to the Markt (Market Square) of Bruges.  Overlooking Market Square is Belfort (Belfry Tower), the top of which offers an incredible view of the city.  The remainder of the day is free to enjoy the shops and restaurants of Bruges before motoring back to the ship. PHOTOS

Wednesday, April 6-Veere. Cruise the picturesque Zeeland area and visit charming Veere. Tour Veere’s Delta Works, an engineering marvel constructed as part of the Netherlands’ 2,000 year history of fighting the sea.  See how technology has evolved by witnessing the striking modern methods of today. View a film about the Delta Expo and its history before returning to the ship for lunch.  Afterward, the remainder of the day is free to explore Veere and its harbor.  See the central marketplace including centuries-old burghers’ houses.  These late-Gothic houses were built around 1539.  See the bell tower at the 15th-century Town Hall.  Near the harbor, view Campveer Tower, a tower gate built around 1358.  500 years ago, the tower gate became a popular inn and restaurant and it still retains its handsome high-pitched gable today. PHOTOS

Thursday, April 7-Kinderdijk, Rotterdam. Arrive in Rotterdam where the initial entry is through Rotterdam harbor, the second largest in the world. Then tour Kinderdijk to discover 19 well-preserved windmills.  Windmills harness the wind for a variety of purposes and are an iconic emblem of the Netherlands.  At one point, there were 10,000 windmills in the country. Before the construction of levees, windmills helped drain water from the land, lowering the water table and making the land habitable. Visit a windmill and climb to the upper level to view the historic structure.  Lunch on the ship. Explore the modern city of Rotterdam by viewing its unique architectural styles, visiting one of its many museums or by visiting its shopping area.  Alternatively, an optional excursion to Delft is available. PHOTOS

Friday, April 8-Nijmegen. Cruise to Nijmegen, considered the oldest city in the Netherlands. From there, head to the Liberation Museum, situated in nearby Groesbeek.  At the museum, experience a firsthand account of WWII by experiencing the occupation, celebrating the liberation, and witnessing the rebuilding of the Netherlands and Europe after the war. Museum highlights include an example of a secret closet for hiding and playing Radio Orange, a diorama of the Waal Crossing and an Honorary Dome with a Roll of Honor containing the names of all Allied soldiers who died between D-Day and May 8, 1945. PHOTOS

Saturday, April 9-Hoorn, Enkhuizen. Arrive in Hoorn after breakfast and start a walking tour of the city.  Hoorn has a rich history from its days as a leading seaport in the 1600s to its present status as a welcoming town known for Hoorn cheese and vibrant horticulture.  It was a very prosperous trade center and home base for the Dutch East India Company.  The Hoorn fleet sailed world-wide and returned with many precious commodities.  Dutch explorer, Willem Schouten named the southern tip of South America, Cape Horn, after his hometown in 1616.  Today the town retains it 17th-century gabled houses which have markings indicating the trade of the family that once occupied them.  This was important to a largely illiterate population at the time. Enjoy free time to see the yachts in the old and new harbors or visit Rode Steen Square.  After returning to the ship, cruise to Enkhuizen.  Stroll through the picturesque Old Town, visit the shops of Westerstraat or visit the Zuider Zee Open Air Museum which present exhibits on 19th-century recreation.  Alternatively, join an optional excursion to learn about the historical and modern intricacies of Holland’s flower industry.  Learn about the speculation in the 17th-century when amateur speculators bet land and farms on the hottest new commodity: tulips.  First imported from Turkey in the mid-1600s, the prized bloom became a status symbol and luxury item during the Dutch Golden Age. Motor coaches will ride along seemingly endless fields of flowers between Hoorn and Enkhuizen.  Enjoy access to the fields and hear explanations of flower bulb cultivation from a local grower.  See the warehouses and preparation department of one of the major bulb trading companies in the area. Hear an in-depth explanation of flower-bulb growing and trading.  Learn the difference between a pre-cooled and non-cooled tulip, what “forced” bulbs are, and about the destinations of native blooms sent around the world. PHOTOS

Sunday, April 10-Volendam, Amsterdam. Cruise to the small fishing village of Volendam, to experience  early Dutch life. Visit the Doolhof, a labyrinth of intimate streets that wind through a cluster of cottages nestled along the water or visit Dijk along the harbor for shopping. Next visit Keukenhof Gardens, near Amsterdam, one of the most impressive public gardens in the world with more than seven million bulbs planted on an 80-acre site.  Open for only a few weeks per year, there are literally millions of beautiful, colorful blooms--narcissi, hyacinths and tulips, among others, to smell.  90% of the world’s flower supply comes from this area. Local guides will be on hand to explain the park and free time will be available to explore the park which also includes the Netherlands largest sculpture garden. PHOTOS

Monday, April 11-Amsterdam. Spend the day in the Netherlands’ largest city which boasts history, art, architecture, bridges, canals, cobblestone streets, museums, bicycles and narrow alleys.  Board a canal boat and sail down Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht, two of the city’s three main canals, which were dug in the 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age. The canals are lined with stately historic houses and over 1,500 monumental buildings.  Visit one the world’s most prestigious museums--the Rijksmuseum--offering the world’s largest collections of Dutch and Flemish art and artifacts.  On display is one of Rembrandt’s most famous paintings, “The Night Watch,” as well as Vermeer’s “The Kitchen Maid” and “Woman Reading a Letter.”  Return by motor coach to the ship for lunch.  En route see Dam Square, the historical center of Amsterdam and the site of Madame Tussaud’s wax museum; New Church, a 15th-century church used for royal inaugurations and weddings; a former Jewish quarter with its Sephardic and Ashkenazi synagogues; the soaring white Dutch National Monument and the Royal Palace.  Also view the Mint Tower, originally a gate in the Medieval city’s wall and once the city’s mint.  Free time is available in the afternoon. A Captain’s Farewell Dinner is scheduled for the evening. PHOTOS

Tuesday, April 12-Amsterdam. Disembark from the River Queen. Tour the Van Gogh Museum and the Ann Frank House. Park Plaza Victoria Hotel PHOTOS

Wednesday, April 13-Amsterdam, London. Leave Amsterdam at 11:45 A.M. on British Airways Flight 431 (Business Class: Airbus 319) to London Heathrow. Arrive London Heathrow at 12:00 P.M. (230 miles). Take the Tube to central London and see Jersey Boys. Heathrow Sofitel Hotel. PHOTOS

Thursday, April 14-Visit Covent Garden. Leave London Heathrow at 5:05 P.M. on British Airways Flight 293 (Business Class: Boeing 777) to Washington Dulles.  Arrive Washington Dulles at 8:05 P.M. (3,670 miles) PHOTOS

Itinerary  (Spring, 2011)         

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Belgium Holland 2011