Diamonds, Chocolates & Canals - Save Up To €790pp

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Embark on a rewarding nine-night European escape packed with culture, cuisine and captivating history. Calls into charming Ghent, home to some of the very best Belgian chocolate shops; Antwerp, with its world-famous diamond district; stylish Rotterdam; and Amsterdam – the attraction-packed Dutch capital – are made all the more rewarding by memorable scenic cruising of beautiful waterways including the Western Scheldt River and the Nordzeekanaal. 

Special Offer! Save Up To €790pp!

Experience scenic cruising of picturesque waterways as Balmoral sails beyond coastal ports and straight into engrossing destinations in the heart of Belgium and the Netherlands. Featuring four of Europe’s finest cities, this nine-night adventure is packed with culture, cuisine and fascinating history.

Three days in Belgium begins this rewarding cruise in style, calling first into Ghent following an early morning glide along the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal. A collection of Belgium’s very best museums and most iconic landmarks – including the gothic style St Bavo’s Cathedral and the Castle of Counts – await your discovery here, offering a glimpse into the city’s remarkable medieval past. The UNESCO-listed, 91 metre-high Belfry is a ‘must-see’ on a walking tour of the city; while no time spent in Ghent is complete without tasting authentic Belgian chocolate and enjoying a relaxing canal boat tour. You’ll have the chance to encounter Antwerp’s abundance of attractions, with an overnight stay affording you time to see the sights at your own pace. Take your time to uncover gems such as the magnificent Cathedral of Our Lady and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, tucked away within the pretty cobbled streets; and visit the renowned diamond district. Or perhaps you would prefer to take a tour to the historic Battlefields of Waterloo, marvelling at the unspoilt countryside en route. Whatever you choose to do, you’re sure to enjoy the relaxing journey along the Western Scheldt River after departing Antwerp.

Next Balmoral will head north to the Netherlands and into Rotterdam via the Nieuwe Mass. If you’re up early enough you’ll have the opportunity to view the iconic Erasmusbrug Bridge and the city’s soaring skyline from your ship as you sail into port. Once docked you have a full day to explore the Netherlands’ stylish second city, which is home to a plethora of fantastic museums and unique architectural wonders. From the innovative 1970’s Cube Houses to the modern Markthal, there’s something to please all tastes. Finally it’s on to Amsterdam to experience the unique diversity of the vibrant Dutch capital after an early morning scenic cruise of the Nordzeekanaal. There’s much to discover during your overnight stay, including the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum; the world-famous Anne Frank House; the grand architecture of the UNESCO-listed Canal Ring; and of course, the legendary Red Light District. You could also use your time to enjoy a typically Dutch experience on a venture to the quaint windmill village of Zaanse Schans, followed by a tour to Edam to learn about how the local cheese is made.

Inclusions

  • Return flights Dublin to Newcastle
  • Return Transfers from airport to port
  • 9 nights accommodation aboard the Balmoral based on 2 sharing
  • Fine dining on a full board basis
  • All onboard entertainment
  • One check-in bag of 15kgs and one 10kgs carry-on per person
  • Taxes and charges of €130

Itinerary

Day 1 Newcastle, UK

Following a flight from Dublin to Newcastle, you will be transferred to the port to board the 4* Fred. Olsen Balmoral where you will begin your journey.

Day 2 At Sea

Cruising.

Day 3 Ghent, Belgium

Belgium’s cosy but vibrant hidden gem, Ghent, is often described as Europe’s best kept secret. Located at the confluence of the Leie and Scheldt rivers, this beautifully-cultured city is easy to explore either on foot or tram. Adored by its locals, Ghent offers visitors the Castle of the Counts, the superb St. Bavo’s Cathedral, the Gothic-style St Nicholas’ Church – Ghent’s oldest and most iconic landmarks – and the UNESCO-listed 91-metre-high Belfry, the tallest in Belgium. The various fascinating galleries and museums to visit include the Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of History of Sciences and the Ghent City Museum. Nestled within the fabulous canal side architecture are many welcoming bars and restaurants, and a swathe of amazing shops. Ghent is also just a 30-minute train ride from Brussels, perfect for those who wish to visit the Belgian capital. Despite its popularity with visitors, tourists remain surprisingly thin on the ground, which, for many, puts it ahead of other Belgian destinations such as Bruges and Antwerp.

Day 4-5 Antwerp, Belgium

Belgium’s charming, medieval city of Antwerp is the country’s biggest port and often recognised as its capital of cool. It has proved an alluring city for centuries, attracting lovers of art, fashion and, of course, diamonds – over 80% of the world’s rough diamonds pass through the city’s famous diamond district at some point or other. Renowned for its charm and sparkle, Antwerp was one of Europe’s principle cities in the mid-16th century and has maintained the essence of its medieval past, despite severe bombing during World War II. A riverside fortress and numerous intriguing cobbled streets are overshadowed by the 123m high tower of the imposing Cathedral of Our Lady, the biggest church in Benelux. Its construction started in 1352 on the site of a 10th century chapel, but like many medieval religious buildings, it took several centuries to complete. The cathedral interior has four altarpieces by Peter Paul Rubens – a true legend of baroque painting. The Royal Museum of Fine Arts is dedicated to Rubens and houses many of his finest works, along with those of other Flemish masters. There are more than 20 other museums in the city, and other attractions to this cultural gem of a city include a vibrant fashion and entertainment scene, a robust café culture, excellent shops and delightful parks and gardens. Fine dining is also on the menu, and one of Antwerp’s most dramatic restaurant, The Jane, brings it all together with a slice of rock and roll.

Day 6 Rotterdam, Netherlands

Innovative and inspiring nicely sums up Rotterdam, the major port city in the Dutch province of South Holland. The Netherlands’ second largest city has a diverse community, a captivating maritime history, and an abundance of excellent museums. The city is like an exhibition of futuristic architecture, an achievement made even more remarkable given Rotterdam was literally razed to the ground during World War II. The north side of the city is easy to discover on foot. The Maritime Museum has vintage ships and exhibits that trace the city’s seafaring history, while the Pilgrim Fathers Church is the site where pilgrims worshipped before embarking for America. The rapid expansion of Rotterdam’s art scene, and the surge of quality dining and drinking venues make the port one of Europe’s most exciting cities. The 17th century Delfshaven neighbourhood is home to canal side boutiques and shopping, and is one area of Rotterdam that still offers an impression of what the city looked like before the bombings. Split by the imposing Nieuwe Maas shipping channel, the city is crossed by a collection of tunnels and bridges, notably the dramatic Erasmusbrug – nick-named “the swan”. The innovative Cube Houses, tilted at 45 degrees, are a quirky discovery, as is the Schouwburgplein square. The renowned Blijdorp Zoological Garden, is also worth a visit.

Day 7-8 Amsterdam, Netherlands

Golden Age canals lined with elegant merchant homes is the familiar backdrop for the Netherlands’s historic capital, Amsterdam. Established in the 17th century with the construction of the River Amstel dam, this celebrated port offers everything from treasure-packed museums and antiquarian bookshops to chic boutiques and convivial cafés. Equally, art is never far away in this hub of uber-creative design. One noticeable thing about the city is that, some 150 years after its industrial heyday, Amsterdam is once again awash with producers. Amsterdam has some 40 museums, and the Museum Quarter boasts three of the most famous: the Rijksmuseum has paintings from Rembrandt, Vermeer and Frans Hals; the Van Gogh Museum; and the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, displays work from Manet to Picasso. The Anne Frankhuis where Anne Frank and her family hid from German troops during the World War II, is an experience many visitors seek. Whether on boat or bike – there are more bikes than permanent residents – exploration of the city is relatively straightforward, and a tour of the Canal Ring district, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is not to be missed. Seemingly stuck in the 17th century, the district has been recognised for its unique cultural and historical values, and is home to many exclusive gabled facades and their celebrity owners.

Day 9 At Sea

Cruising.

Day 10 Newcastle, UK

Once you have disembarked the Balmoral and finished your incredible adventure we will have you transferred to the airport to get your flight back to Dublin.

Accommodation

Balmoral

Balmoral is the largest and newest cruise ship, named after the Scottish home of the Royal Family. Still smaller than most cruise ships today, there are 710 cabins and suites and generous public space for the 1,300 guests on board.

The main restaurant is Ballindalloch (named after the Speyside village and castle), while the two other formal restaurants – Avon and Spey – are also in keeping with the Scottish theme and are named after two of Scotland’s most beautiful salmon rivers.

There’s a comfy pub with occasional live music or comedy, cabaret and shows in the Neptune Lounge, or drift away with a cool drink and spectacular seascapes in the Observatory Lounge.

Extra Information

Booking remarks

  • Inclusive of taxes and service charges as indicated
  • Full Payment at time of booking
  • Optional Insurance available (call for details)
  • Drinks packages available to prebook – only €18 per person per night
  • Gratuities from €5 per person per night payable at the end of your cruise onboard M.S. Balmoral
  • These prices are guidelines only and are subject to change and availability. Pricing will be confirmed at time of booking.

  Cost per person: €1,079pp
  Number of nights: 9

16 September 2018 Was €1,759 Now €1,079 Inside
16 September 2018 Was €1,879 Now €1,259 Oceanview
16 September 2018 Was €2,179 Now €1,389 Superior Oceanview

Special Offer! Save up to €790pp!

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  Call:  (01) 294 1000