Tuesday Deal Day: Netherlands & Belgium Tulip Cruise

Antwerp Belgium

Travelers interested in experiencing the exquisite beauty of the Netherlands and Belgium ablaze with millions of vibrant tulips will love Emerald Waterways’ brand new Highlights of the Netherlands & the Beauty of Belgium cruise. Running round-trip from Amsterdam through northern Belgium, this picturesque eight-day voyage is ideal for gardeners, flower lovers and photographers alike, as well as anyone interested in taking in the splendor of field after field abloom with tulips, daffodils and hyacinth as they float down the Rhine River and along the scenic canals of Holland and Belgium.

The voyage includes seven nights aboard one of Emerald’s “Star-Ships” and departs from charming Amsterdam, where guests will enjoy a canal cruise and walking tour along the city’s historic, cobbled streets. An excursion to Keukenhof Gardens, regarded as the most beautiful spring garden in the world and Europe’s largest, introduces fans to an incredible displays of flowers and plants, including more than seven million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths filling close to 80 acres with color and fragrance.

In Antwerp, Belgium’s second largest city and home to baroque artist Pieter Paul Rubens (as well as the famed diamond district), a walking tour reveals a modern and organized city that retains an intriguing medieval heart. Bruges, once home to the world’s first stock exchange in the 13th century, looks like something out of a fairy-tale, with dreamy canals, historic churches and whitewashed almshouses…not to mention the delicious chocolate for which the region is famous.

The sights in Arnhem, Holland include beautiful Dutch waterways and iconic windmills as well as historic sites dedicated to the World War II Battle of Anhem. A walking tour of Edam, a town known all over theworld for its cheese, allows guests to browse the city’s many cheese shops, authentic 17th-century architecture, monuments and quiet canals, and discover the Great Church, one of the largest churches in the Netherlands. A highlight of the guided tour of the fishing village of Volendam is the old center, where some residents still wear traditional Dutch costume.

Emerald Waterway’s ships – Emerald Star and Emerald Sky – each carry 182 guests in 72 suites and 20 staterooms, including two built for solo occupancy. Unique items include an onboard heated swimming pool with a retractable roof, which transforms into a movie theater in the evening; two restaurants – Reflections, the main dining room, and The Terrace for breakfast and lunch; and a new type of cabin design that replaces the run-of-the-mill French balcony, common to most ships, with an indoor balcony complete with decked area and an ingenious open-air system. The system allows guests to push a button and the upper half of the floor-to-ceiling panoramic window drops down to allow an open-air opportunity; top suites separate the balcony from the cabin with sliding doors. Ships also feature an onboard hairdresser, massage therapy room and fitness area.

Emerald Waterway’s inclusive pricing plan means guests don’t have to worry about daily budget or mounting costs. The Highlights of the Netherlands & the Beauty of Belgium sailing includes seven shore excursions either by foot or first-class coach, including visits to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites; two EmeraldPLUS experiences, including a visit to Keukenhof Gardens; 20 meals, including seven breakfasts, six lunches, four dinners and three highlight dinners; wine and beer with lunch and dinner; complimentary tea and coffee available onboard at all times; complimentary bottled water in suites and staterooms, restocked daily; a variety of onboard evening entertainment; first-class service from an English-speaking crew and knowledgeable local guides; complimentary WiFi onboard; all port charges and airport transfers within Europe; and Emerald takes care of all gratuities.

Rates: Guests with some flexibility in their schedules can take advantage of the excellent pricing on this voyage, which departs from Amsterdam on April 6, 2015, the shoulder of the river cruising peak season. Booking by December 31 saves $1,170 per couple; discounted prices range from $1,995 to $4,290 per person, double.

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Mary Jo Manzanares is a traveler, travel blogger, and podcaster. In addition to her blog, Traveling with MJ, she hosts the Where Else to Go podcast, and is the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine. Her travel ethos is value luxury - luxury for real people - and her goal is to help travelers know when to splurge and when to save. Mary Jo has been a speaker at various industry events around the world. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Her most recent travels were to Stockholm, a Baltic cruise, and Universal Orlando Resort.

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