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Holland & Belgium at Tulip Time (2022) tour

Holland & Belgium at Tulip Time (2022)

Uniworld
4.9 . Excellent
96%
Travel Style: Array Relaxed
Physical Level: Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment. Easy
Lodging Level: 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Comfort (4*)
8 days
From: $ 3,899 $ 487 / day
Checking price

Overview

Short Description

This itinerary adds a contemporary flair to the classic tulip time experience, where you’ll find an ideal mix of old and new, historic and modern, in some of Europe’s liveliest cities.

Style River cruise
Array
Itinerary Focus N/A
3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Lodging Level Comfort (4*)
Flight & Transport Inclusions N/A
Start City Brussels
End City Amsterdam

Destinations

Belgium Netherlands

Attractions & Cities Visited

Amsterdam Antwerp Brussels

Activities & Interests

Culture Historic sightseeing River cruise

N/A
See more

Itinerary

2019 version

Brussels to Amsterdam


Day 1 - Brussels (Embark)

Port - Brussels

Arrive at Brussels Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.


Day 2 - Brussels

Port - Brussels

Brussels, the capital of Belgium, offers a treasure trove of historic architecture, along with a rich culinary tradition—chocolate!—and a vibrant culinary capital. Food lovers will be lured by the divine aromas drifting from delightful cafés and chocolate shops. After a panoramic tour of Belgium’s historical and contemporary capital city, get an up-close view of the city center with a guided tour on foot. Then, treat yourself to some delicious chocolate.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Excursion(s) - Brussels city tour with chocolate tasting
Excursion Price - $70

On our way into the city center, we'll take you on a panoramic tour of the major sightseeing spots in Brussels, such as the Royal Residence, Chinese Pavilion and Japanese Pagoda. From there, we'll set out on foot to see the city up close—and taste some iconic Belgian chocolates along the way! At one of the chocolatiers, Neuhaus Chocolate, you’ll learn about the benefits of sustainable chocolate practices. Neuhaus uses beans harvested from their own cacao farm, which means they can ensure their chocolate is of both of a superior quality and produced by fair labor.

This MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience supports Global Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production; and Global Goal 15: Life on Land.


Day 3 - Antwerp

Port - Antwerp

It may be the diamond capital of the world, but Antwerp is also known for a number of other sought-after cultural gems, including Golden Age art, Belgian beer, waffles, pralines and fries, chocolate and more. Your walking tour of Antwerp, complete with Belgian treats, features the City Hall, Market Square and the UNESCO-designated Cathedral of Our Lady, which houses four extraordinary works by one of the city’s most beloved sons—Peter Paul Rubens.

Excursion(s) - Antwerp walking tour with Belgian treats
Excursion Price - $70

It may be the diamond capital of the world, but Antwerp is also known for a number of other gems—maybe just not of the rock variety. Step onto the streets of Antwerp and take in the Golden Age art, sip Belgian beer and taste waffles, pralines, fries and chocolates that make Antwerp, Antwerp. This walking discovery tour takes you through the sights, sounds, smells, and yes, even tastes of City Hall, the Market Square and the UNESCO-designated Cathedral of Our Lady, which houses four extraordinary works by one of the city’s most beloved sons—Peter Paul Rubens. Continue on and enjoy tastings of other sorts—a Brussels waffle, local spirit or even the catch of the day as you journey past the Steen Castle, City Hall and the Brabo Fountain, and take an inside visit of the Cathedral all as you walk through the Groenplaats square with its sublime views of the Art Deco Boerentoren.


Day 4 - Maastricht

Port - Maastricht

Your first stop in The Netherlands—Maastricht—is a city with more than 1,670 national heritage sites, some of which can be seen on your Old Town walking tour. And not only that, but it’s known as one of the most beautiful and romantic cities of Holland and loved for its convivial lifestyle and historic center, which has long played a strategic role in European politics. Or you can choose to make a pilgrimage to the 65-acre Netherlands American Cemetery and memorial, the final resting place of 8,301 U.S. soldiers who perished during the Second World War. The cemetery is the only American military center in The Netherlands and sits near the famous Cologne-Boulogne highway that was constructed by the Romans for Caesar to use for his conquests. Choose to explore the beguiling banks of the Meuse River, the second oldest river in the world.

Excursion(s) - “Let’s Go” Maas River biking
Excursion Price - $70

Maastricht is the oldest city in The Netherlands and has earned the nicknames “Culinary capital of The Netherlands” and “Europe’s smallest metropolis,” meaning life in Maastricht is full of simple luxuries and what the French would call “joie de vivre.” Part of what makes Maastricht unique is its rich history and change in control. In its existence, Maastricht has been influenced by the Romans, the Spanish, the French and finally the Dutch. Maastricht is just what you’d imagine an old city to be: narrow cobblestone streets, ancient fortifications and town houses from the 17th century. On the other side, in the Wyck-Céramique area, you’ll find all that plus an urban planner’s dream—a mix of contemporary apartment buildings and modern offices. Hop on a bicycle and see the city’s varied past and where other cultures’ influence has remained to this day.

Excursion(s) - Maastricht walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

Meander through the historic city center of Maastricht with your local guide and take in all of the city’s prettiest sites. During your walk, you’ll discover the picturesque streets of the Stokstraat Quarter and various charming promenades across the old and new city centers. You’ll take a peek into City Hall too see the wall tapestries, stucco, ceiling paintings and mantelpieces inside. As you go, you’ll hear the fascinating stories and amusing anecdotes of Maastricht history, its progression from Roman settlement to early industrial powerhouse and the Mestreechter Geis (or “the Spirit of Maastricht”, which is what they call their local way of life).

Excursion(s) - Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial visit
Excursion Price - $70

More than 8,000 American soldiers lie under white crosses and Stars of David among the rolling hills of Limburg. They died fighting in this area following the Normandy invasion, earning, as the commemorative inscription says, "praise that will never die." A memorial is inscribed with the names of another 1,723 whose remains were never found or identified. It's the only American battlefield cemetery in the Netherlands; infantrymen and pilots, mechanics and bombardiers are interred in this serene and surprisingly uplifting place. Not only Americans visit this memorial. Thousands of families from the Netherlands and surrounding nations come to honor those who fell liberating their countries from the Nazi occupation.


Day 5 - Cuijk (Nuenen), Heusden

Port - Cuijk

Follow in Van Gogh’s footsteps today as you stroll through Nuenen, where the artist once lived and painted “The Potato Eaters.” After a delicious lunch, you may choose to walk or cycle through Heusden, or choose from a panoply of other ways in which you can experience this charming region.

Excursion(s) - Heusden “Village Day”
Excursion Price - $70

The pretty squares and harbors where pleasure craft bob give little hint of Heusden's exciting past. A water fortress was first erected here in the 12th century, and many a medieval battle was fought in this region. The characteristic star shape of the fortress dates much sooner though, to when the town was founded in 1649 at the end of the Eighty Years’ War that won Holland its independence from Spain.

You may opt for one of four different ways to explore this historic village: bike through the town and the along the harbor with a guide, make sausage-filled rolls (a.k.a. worstenbroodje) with a local baker, taste cheese at a nearby dairy farm or tour the unusual 17th-century fortress.

Excursion(s) - Van Gogh “Village Day” in Nuenen with a country lunch
Excursion Price - $70

Vincent van Gogh produced 195 paintings and numerous watercolors and sketches in the two years he lived in Nuenen, where his father was vicar; among the work he did here is The Vicarage at Nuenen. His studio was the converted laundry room in that vicarage, which his father did not think was suitable, though he assured Theo van Gogh that they had installed a wood stove, if not a large window (Vincent didn't want one). Here Van Gogh created the character studies that became The Potato Eaters. He wrote to his brother: "It's true that I can't make anything financially from my work here—but I'm making really good friends here—and I believe they'll become even better." Begin at the Vincentre, with its interactive displays about the people the artist knew and the work he produced here, and then walk through the village, taking the routes the painter took and seeing sights he would have seen. He painted three scenic windmills that still stand; perhaps as you enjoy a relaxed country lunch, you'll get a sense of the countryside as the artist experienced it.

Excursion(s) - Cooking Class Dutch Cuisine
$117

Day 6 - Schoonhoven (Kinderdijk)

Port - Schoonhoven

Bike around the silversmithing town of Schoonhoven, best known for its abundant silversmiths, clock makers and quaint shop-lined avenues. Or venture forth to captivating Kinderdijk to see its 19 well-preserved, UNESCO-designated windmills.

Excursion(s) - Kinderdijk windmills
Excursion Price - $70

At one time 10,000 windmills operated in the Netherlands, pumping water away from low-lying lands (much of the country is below sea level) and creating what are known as polders—arable land reclaimed from the water. Though the mighty windmill has been replaced by newer technology, you can see how effective the system was in Kinderdijk, where a group of 19 windmills erected in the 18th century still function. Most are ground-sail windmills (meaning their sails nearly touch the ground as they whirl) and each one was carefully situated to make sure one did not block another’s wind. Each windmill moves the water a little farther, pumping it from field to canal, from canal to river. Climb the steep stairs of a mill and look out over the quiet fields that would be underwater were it not for the ingenuity of the Dutch. (Of course, you can simply admire it from the outside. But if you do that, you won’t see how the mill keeper’s family lived.) These mills are kept in working order partly as a backup in case modern technology fails, and they were used as recently as WWII, when there was no fuel to keep newer pumping stations working.

Excursion(s) - Schoonhoven walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

The charming little town is well known for its tradition of silverwork, which thrives to this day. There have been silversmiths in Schoonhoven since the Middle Ages, and their influence can be found reflected in the current streets and the ancient monumental silversmithing sites. The town is home to several silversmith houses and more than 30 galleries, jewelers and workshops. In Schoonhoven you can also find a Dutch Silver Museum and a craft center where you can admire an impressive collection of old silverware from Schoonhoven. There’s more than just silver, too. Visitors love the picturesque center full of characteristic shops, the beautiful city gate and charming terraces along the Lek river.

Excursion(s) - “Let’s Go” biking the dams and windmills
Excursion Price - $70

Set out on an invigorating bike ride through quintessential Dutch scenery. Beginning and ending in Schoonhoven, you’ll ferry across the Lek river, pedal through the quaint countryside and pass the unique windmills of Groot-Ammers.


Day 7 - Amsterdam

Port - Amsterdam

The Netherlands’ largest city, Amsterdam has been an international port and financial center for 400 years, endowing it with a lively cosmopolitan feeling to match its historic architecture. The famous Keukenhof Gardens is a 70-acre park planted with millions of tulips and other flowers—an extraordinary sight in the spring.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Excursion(s) - Half-day at Keukenhof Gardens
Excursion Price - $70

Rivers of blue hyacinths curve through the trees, and great drifts of brilliantly hued tulips and daffodils carpet Keukenhof’s 70-plus acres (32 hectares). It’s probably the most spectacular flower garden in the world, and it’s only open for a few weeks each spring. Gardeners plant some seven million bulbs on these grounds, making it a showcase for the Netherlands’ legendary flower industry. There’s more to see than just flowers, of course: There are intriguing exhibits in pavilions scattered throughout the estate, as well as concerts and activities for kids. After you’ve seen all of the vibrant blossoms and perhaps even bought some bulbs to grow at home, you’ll meet up with your guide and continue by motorcoach to the ship.

Note: If you’re thinking about buying bulbs from Keukenhof or perhaps having items shipped home, make sure the vendor provides the documentation necessary for the import of bulbs or plants into your home country. Rules for importing flower bulbs and plants vary from country to country.

Excursion(s) - Amsterdam canal cruise
Excursion Price - $70

It’s called the “Venice of the North” for a reason: Canals crisscross the heart of the old city, and bridges link some 90 islands. As the principal city in a newly independent Holland, Amsterdam was a boom town in the early 17th century, rapidly outgrowing its medieval walls. The city’s fathers responded by demolishing most of the old city and building an entirely new one, creating Europe’s first planned city. That “new” district is now 400 years old, and as you glide along the main canals, you’ll pass stately merchants’ houses built centuries ago (some of them are now house museums you can visit on your own). But the canals are not merely scenic; they are essential thoroughfares—people take water buses to work and live in houseboats along the banks—so a canal cruise also gives you a look at the busy modern city.


Day 8 - Amsterdam (Disembark)

Port - Amsterdam

Disembark the ship and transfer to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for your flight home.

Amsterdam to Brussels


Day 1 - Amsterdam (Embark)

Port - Amsterdam

Arrive at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.


Day 2 - Amsterdam

Port - Amsterdam

The Netherlands’ largest city, Amsterdam has been an international port and financial center for 400 years, endowing it with a lively cosmopolitan feeling to match its historic architecture. The famous Keukenhof Gardens is a 70-acre park planted with millions of tulips and other flowers—an extraordinary sight in the spring.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Excursion(s) - Half-day at Keukenhof Gardens
Excursion Price - $70

Rivers of blue hyacinths curve through the trees, and great drifts of brilliantly hued tulips and daffodils carpet Keukenhof’s 70-plus acres (32 hectares). It’s probably the most spectacular flower garden in the world, and it’s only open for a few weeks each spring. Gardeners plant some seven million bulbs on these grounds, making it a showcase for the Netherlands’ legendary flower industry. There’s more to see than just flowers, of course: There are intriguing exhibits in pavilions scattered throughout the estate, as well as concerts and activities for kids. After you’ve seen all of the vibrant blossoms and perhaps even bought some bulbs to grow at home, you’ll meet up with your guide and continue by motorcoach to the ship.

Note: If you’re thinking about buying bulbs from Keukenhof or perhaps having items shipped home, make sure the vendor provides the documentation necessary for the import of bulbs or plants into your home country. Rules for importing flower bulbs and plants vary from country to country.

Excursion(s) - Amsterdam canal cruise
Excursion Price - $70

It’s called the “Venice of the North” for a reason: Canals crisscross the heart of the old city, and bridges link some 90 islands. As the principal city in a newly independent Holland, Amsterdam was a boom town in the early 17th century, rapidly outgrowing its medieval walls. The city’s fathers responded by demolishing most of the old city and building an entirely new one, creating Europe’s first planned city. That “new” district is now 400 years old, and as you glide along the main canals, you’ll pass stately merchants’ houses built centuries ago (some of them are now house museums you can visit on your own). But the canals are not merely scenic; they are essential thoroughfares—people take water buses to work and live in houseboats along the banks—so a canal cruise also gives you a look at the busy modern city.


Day 3 - Schoonhoven (Kinderdijk)

Port - Schoonhoven

Bike around the silversmithing town of Schoonhoven, best known for its abundant silversmiths, clock makers and quaint shop-lined avenues. Or venture forth to captivating Kinderdijk to see its 19 well-preserved, UNESCO-designated windmills.

Excursion(s) - Kinderdijk windmills
Excursion Price - $70

At one time 10,000 windmills operated in the Netherlands, pumping water away from low-lying lands (much of the country is below sea level) and creating what are known as polders—arable land reclaimed from the water. Though the mighty windmill has been replaced by newer technology, you can see how effective the system was in Kinderdijk, where a group of 19 windmills erected in the 18th century still function. Most are ground-sail windmills (meaning their sails nearly touch the ground as they whirl) and each one was carefully situated to make sure one did not block another’s wind. Each windmill moves the water a little farther, pumping it from field to canal, from canal to river. Climb the steep stairs of a mill and look out over the quiet fields that would be underwater were it not for the ingenuity of the Dutch. (Of course, you can simply admire it from the outside. But if you do that, you won’t see how the mill keeper’s family lived.) These mills are kept in working order partly as a backup in case modern technology fails, and they were used as recently as WWII, when there was no fuel to keep newer pumping stations working.

Excursion(s) - “Let’s Go” biking the dams and windmills
Excursion Price - $70

Set out on an invigorating bike ride through quintessential Dutch scenery. Beginning and ending in Schoonhoven, you’ll ferry across the Lek river, pedal through the quaint countryside and pass the unique windmills of Groot-Ammers.

Excursion(s) - Schoonhoven walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

The charming little town is well known for its tradition of silverwork, which thrives to this day. There have been silversmiths in Schoonhoven since the Middle Ages, and their influence can be found reflected in the current streets and the ancient monumental silversmithing sites. The town is home to several silversmith houses and more than 30 galleries, jewelers and workshops. In Schoonhoven you can also find a Dutch Silver Museum and a craft center where you can admire an impressive collection of old silverware from Schoonhoven. There’s more than just silver, too. Visitors love the picturesque center full of characteristic shops, the beautiful city gate and charming terraces along the Lek river.


Day 4 - Heusden

Port - Heusden

Follow in Van Gogh’s footsteps today as you stroll through Nuenen, where the artist once lived and painted “The Potato Eaters.” After a delicious lunch, you may choose to walk or cycle through Heusden, or choose from a panoply of other ways in which you can experience this charming region.

Excursion(s) - Heusden “Village Day”
Excursion Price - $70

The pretty squares and harbors where pleasure craft bob give little hint of Heusden's exciting past. A water fortress was first erected here in the 12th century, and many a medieval battle was fought in this region. The characteristic star shape of the fortress dates much sooner though, to when the town was founded in 1649 at the end of the Eighty Years’ War that won Holland its independence from Spain.

You may opt for one of four different ways to explore this historic village: bike through the town and the along the harbor with a guide, make sausage-filled rolls (a.k.a. worstenbroodje) with a local baker, taste cheese at a nearby dairy farm or tour the unusual 17th-century fortress.

Excursion(s) - Van Gogh “Village Day” in Nuenen with a country lunch
Excursion Price - $70

Vincent van Gogh produced 195 paintings and numerous watercolors and sketches in the two years he lived in Nuenen, where his father was vicar; among the work he did here is The Vicarage at Nuenen. His studio was the converted laundry room in that vicarage, which his father did not think was suitable, though he assured Theo van Gogh that they had installed a wood stove, if not a large window (Vincent didn't want one). Here Van Gogh created the character studies that became The Potato Eaters. He wrote to his brother: "It's true that I can't make anything financially from my work here—but I'm making really good friends here—and I believe they'll become even better." Begin at the Vincentre, with its interactive displays about the people the artist knew and the work he produced here, and then walk through the village, taking the routes the painter took and seeing sights he would have seen. He painted three scenic windmills that still stand; perhaps as you enjoy a relaxed country lunch, you'll get a sense of the countryside as the artist experienced it.


Day 5 - Maastricht

Port - Maastricht

Your next stop in The Netherlands—Maastricht—is a city with more than 1,670 national heritage sites, some of which can be seen on your Old Town walking tour. And not only that, but it’s known as one of the most beautiful and romantic cities of Holland and loved for its convivial lifestyle and historic center, which has long played a strategic role in European politics. Or you can choose to make a pilgrimage to the 65-acre Netherlands American Cemetery and memorial, the final resting place of 8,301 U.S. soldiers who perished during the Second World War. The cemetery is the only American military center in The Netherlands and sits near the famous Cologne-Boulogne highway that was constructed by the Romans for Caesar to use for his conquests. Choose to explore the beguiling banks of the Meuse River, the second oldest river in the world.

Excursion(s) - “Let’s Go” Maas River biking
Excursion Price - $70

Maastricht is the oldest city in The Netherlands and has earned the nicknames “Culinary capital of The Netherlands” and “Europe’s smallest metropolis,” meaning life in Maastricht is full of simple luxuries and what the French would call “joie de vivre.” Part of what makes Maastricht unique is its rich history and change in control. In its existence, Maastricht has been influenced by the Romans, the Spanish, the French and finally the Dutch. Maastricht is just what you’d imagine an old city to be: narrow cobblestone streets, ancient fortifications and town houses from the 17th century. On the other side, in the Wyck-Céramique area, you’ll find all that plus an urban planner’s dream—a mix of contemporary apartment buildings and modern offices. Hop on a bicycle and see the city’s varied past and where other cultures’ influence has remained to this day.

Excursion(s) - Maastricht walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

Meander through the historic city center of Maastricht with your local guide and take in all of the city’s prettiest sites. During your walk, you’ll discover the picturesque streets of the Stokstraat Quarter and various charming promenades across the old and new city centers. You’ll take a peek into City Hall too see the wall tapestries, stucco, ceiling paintings and mantelpieces inside. As you go, you’ll hear the fascinating stories and amusing anecdotes of Maastricht history, its progression from Roman settlement to early industrial powerhouse and the Mestreechter Geis (or “the Spirit of Maastricht”, which is what they call their local way of life).

Excursion(s) - Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial visit
Excursion Price - $70

More than 8,000 American soldiers lie under white crosses and Stars of David among the rolling hills of Limburg. They died fighting in this area following the Normandy invasion, earning, as the commemorative inscription says, "praise that will never die." A memorial is inscribed with the names of another 1,723 whose remains were never found or identified. It's the only American battlefield cemetery in the Netherlands; infantrymen and pilots, mechanics and bombardiers are interred in this serene and surprisingly uplifting place. Not only Americans visit this memorial. Thousands of families from the Netherlands and surrounding nations come to honor those who fell liberating their countries from the Nazi occupation.


Day 6 - Antwerp

Port - Antwerp

It may be the diamond capital of the world, but Antwerp is also known for a number of other sought-after cultural gems, including Golden Age art, Belgian beer, waffles, pralines and fries, chocolate and more. Your walking tour of Antwerp, complete with Belgian treats, features the City Hall, Market Square and the UNESCO-designated Cathedral of Our Lady, which houses four extraordinary works by one of the city’s most beloved sons—Peter Paul Rubens.

Excursion(s) - Antwerp walking tour with Belgian treats
Excursion Price - $70

It may be the diamond capital of the world, but Antwerp is also known for a number of other gems—maybe just not of the rock variety. Step onto the streets of Antwerp and take in the Golden Age art, sip Belgian beer and taste waffles, pralines, fries and chocolates that make Antwerp, Antwerp. This walking discovery tour takes you through the sights, sounds, smells, and yes, even tastes of City Hall, the Market Square and the UNESCO-designated Cathedral of Our Lady, which houses four extraordinary works by one of the city’s most beloved sons—Peter Paul Rubens. Continue on and enjoy tastings of other sorts—a Brussels waffle, local spirit or even the catch of the day as you journey past the Steen Castle, City Hall and the Brabo Fountain, and take an inside visit of the Cathedral all as you walk through the Groenplaats square with its sublime views of the Art Deco Boerentoren.


Day 7 - Brussels

Port - Brussels

Brussels, the capital of Belgium, offers a treasure trove of historic architecture, along with a rich culinary tradition—chocolate!—and a vibrant culinary capital. Food lovers will be lured by the divine aromas drifting from delightful cafés and chocolate shops. After a panoramic tour of Belgium’s historical and contemporary capital city, get an up-close view of the city center with a guided tour on foot. Then, treat yourself to some delicious chocolate.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Excursion(s) - Brussels city tour with chocolate tasting
Excursion Price - $70

On our way into the city center, we'll take you on a panoramic tour of the major sightseeing spots in Brussels, such as the Royal Residence, Chinese Pavilion and Japanese Pagoda. From there, we'll set out on foot to see the city up close—and taste some iconic Belgian chocolates along the way! At one of the chocolatiers, Neuhaus Chocolate, you’ll learn about the benefits of sustainable chocolate practices. Neuhaus uses beans harvested from their own cacao farm, which means they can ensure their chocolate is of both of a superior quality and produced by fair labor.

This MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience supports Global Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production; and Global Goal 15: Life on Land.


Day 8 - Brussels (Disembark)

Port - Brussels

Disembark the ship in Brussels. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Brussels International Airport for your flight home.

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Price From $ 3,899
Price Per Day: $ 487 per day
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26 Uniworld Travel Reviews & Ratings

96%
4.9 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 24
Great 2
Average 0
Disappointing 0
Terrible 0
Value
4.8
Guide
4.8
Activities
4.8
Lodging
4.9
Transportation
4.8
Meals
4.9

Holland & Belgium at Tulip Time (2022)

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Company Reviews

better the second time around?

5.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide4.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals5.0
This was our 6th Uniworld and 2nd time down part of the Danube.

local guides very good; better than last time. food remains excellent; lunch food choices in particular are better than before. service, in particular Dining room, remains excellent. servers really attempt to learn food and drink preferences. front desk service is excellent. small improvements in room (chocolate jar; audio box chargers in closet; closet hanger rods more like home than ship) appreciated.

the ship is starting to need updating; our shower stall needed to be re-grouted; deck might need to be refinished in areas. elevator never worked during cruise; 24 hr. coffee machine malfunctioned for 3 days. the itinerary itself isn't full of "must-sees" but has has sights and experiences that might be hard for you to do on your own with just a guidebook.

While cruise wasn't perfect, we would travel with Uniworld again; possibly even down the Danube a 3rd time, but on a newer ship.
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Pros, cons and tips

4.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide3.0
Activities3.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation3.0
Meals4.0
This is a review of the Uniworld China + Tibet + Yangtze tour in June, 2019, taken by my wife (80) and me (77). Since knowledge of a reviewer helps readers to judge the applicability to themselves: we are both former academics, normally spry and immersed in cultural, political, and healthful life activities, but we sometimes found the trip daunting, as discussed below. We resist aging, but not always with full success.

The tour had pluses and minuses.

The biggest minuses:
• My wife’s breathing difficulty in our 3-night stay in Lhasa, Tibet (she spent the whole time breathing oxygen and couldn't go on any outings)
• The (inevitable) problem of touring a totalitarian country where citizens are intimidated from talking honestly about the full scope of their lives

The biggest pluses:
• Our guide, Kevin, who was outstandingly attentive, helpful, supportive and patient. He went out of his way to help in difficult situations (like my wife’s breathing problems in Lhasa).
• We were also quite appreciative of Tiger’s brief stint with us.
• With a few exceptions, our baggage was always handled by others. And the exceptions weren’t overwhelming. Apparently for a group, the weight of any individual bag just gets averaged in with all the other group bags being checked. (Some travelers handled their own carry-ons.)

Most of the other people on the tour were quite amiable and unassuming—not always the case when you travel with people whose financial position has to be pretty good to afford this kind of trip (that financial position too often drives unwarranted expectations of privilege and reverence [if that’s not redundant…]).

The accommodations and included breakfasts (and many other meals) were luxurious, though we ourselves didn’t need them to be THAT nice (in this we’re probably exceptions from other travelers—and in this case, a number of our co-tourists had taken multiple Uniworld tours, so they knew and liked what they'd be getting); indeed, we had to learn to stop tanking up at breakfast just because so many goodies were offered, buffet-style. Had we realized those luxuries were part of what we were paying for (and in retrospect we SHOULD have realized), we might have taken a different, cheaper tour. Ironically, what most drew us to the Uniworld trip were the chance to visit Tibet and the expectation that at such a high cost we’d always be getting outstanding, highly informed guides (which wasn’t always the case; as retired academics, we’re unusually demanding in the critical analysis of what we want to hear).

GENERAL NOTES:

We spent several days on our own before the tour (in Beijing) and at its end (in Shanghai). These were quite valuable to us. Perhaps because of time, the Uniworld tour took us to few museums. We are museum junkies, and visited several during our non-tour times. Among other things, Beijing has a terrific national museum, an interesting (partly because of its political subtext) museum about women and children, and an extensive arts district. Shanghai has its own major museum and a tour of the city’s past relationship with Judaism that gives you a more general sense of the troubling antithesis of glitzy life highlighted elsewhere.

I’ve traveled to many parts of the world, and I’ve always been able to learn at least local alphabets and some minimal language skills. China is the first place I’ve gone where I could do none of the first and only a few words (probably wrongly intoned) of the latter. This was extremely frustrating, especially when we toured on our own. Few people outside the major international emporia (I never quite got used to how many upscale stores were in all places we visited) speak English (why should they?). The one ameliorating factor was that many people (especially store employees) had phone apps that did good to excellent translations between spoken English and spoken Chinese. You should have one for your own use.

In major cities, signs quite often include English, so that you can at least know where to shop and what you're looking at. Prices (which you can often negotiate) are typically typed into a calculator.

Perhaps even more than in the West, people are glued to smart phones. Pretty much everyone, it seems, uses an app that includes texts, phone use, and a payment facility, so that people seem to may carry little or no cash or credit cards. No one seems to care—or maybe everyone is just resigned to—that the government can monitor this app and know a ton of stuff about you. As a foreigner, however, you are unlikely to be able to use this app because you need to have a compatible bank account (probably meaning from a Chinese bank).

No matter how you travel in China, you'll see the amazing efforts to accommodate the expansion cities, so that a “town” of which you've never heard might have a million or more people. On the tour, you'll see almost only architectural and shop glitz that the government and cities bask in. You might get very brief glimpses of poverty.

While on the one hand the Chinese government talks a good game and takes some important steps vis-à-vis the climate crisis, on the other hand they still use an enormous amount of fossil fuel for electricity generation. I was also struck—dismayed—by the fact that from all appearances, people only drink bottled water (Westerners are warned against tap water, but I don’t know if local people build up an immuinity to its problems). Especially in warm weather, I can only guess at the billions of single-use plastic bottles that are used every day by the population of 1.4 billion (plus large numbers of visitors). On rare occasions, like at an airport, you might see a place to refill a water bottle (I assume that water is safe).

Please note that in criticisms like the previous paragraph, I do not intend a holier-than-thou American attitude. I am even more critical of what our government does—or more importantly, doesn’t—do vis-à-vis the climate crisis.

THE PEOPLE

Almost everyone was pleasant and upbeat. We mostly moved among middle- (and presumably upper-)class people; we encountered many others, but they were kind of in the background (just as in capitalist countries), and while we made it a point to notice their existence, we had no meaningful interactions with them.

The westernization of outward behavior was almost palpable. My wife had visited 10 years ago and regularly commented on the difference. My impression is that the young (teen-agers, young adults) are especially into western fashion and culture—and to what to me was a surprising extent, seemed to be able to afford indulging that taste.

For what it’s worth, my observation was that people are quite materialistic, focus their lives on that, and increasingly able to afford to indulge themselves. Outwardly, at least, they have little concern with the strictures of their government. Tiananmen Square seems to be in the distant past. Treatment of Moslems and Uighurs (not unlike our current treatment of immigrants and Moslems or our like history of racial and ethnic conflicts) was far away. So far as I could tell, people like Americans (though we’re also bizarre outsiders—there are occasional instances of Chinese people, especially ones who live far from the cities we visited, walking up to a foreigner and asking to take a photo together (this happened to me on the Great Wall, with some pretty young guys).

SECURITY

This abounds. You need to carry your passport everywhere. You'll encounter frequent security checks where you have to put whatever you're carrying through a scanner and show official IDs. In Lhasa, these checks were even present as you wove your way through street markets.

At every airport check-in, you not only go through a security scanner, but you then step up on s short stool so that someone with a hand scanner can go over every inch of your body. (I have sometimes wondered whether proliferation of security folk, including regular police, in nations like this is a clever device for combining meaningful security with full employment.)

The government must have an incredible volume of disk space and incredibly fast computer programs to be able quickly to access information about any given citizen or visitor. Check-in at airports always includes a live photo of you. I’m sure if anyone in the security services had wanted to track me down at any time, it wouldn't have taken more than a few seconds. (For each accommodation where you stay, you have to register with the police. Hotels typically do that for you.)

IN-COUNTRY TRAVEL

We had 4 in-country flights (part of the reason for what Uniworld charges), and much as we wanted to visit the places to which we flew, the time and effort involved in getting from to shuttle bus (then sometimes a long walk) to hotel to airport to check-in to security to boarding to flying to disembarking to shuttle bus to the next hotel became overwhelming.

The tour included 3 nights in a luxury boat on the Yangtze River. This was quite pleasant and included a night’s visit to a show (I don’t remember exactly which one, but when on our own my wife and I went to a couple of shows in Beijing—well worth it even if they're not something to your normal taste). Here, we had some down time. At our ages, we needed more of that. I got sick while on the boat and got what seemed like pretty good medical care.

(By American standards, medicals for my wife in Lhasa and for me on the Yangtze boat were low but not miniscule.)

By American standards, taxis are cheap. They were pretty easy to find in Beijing. (The “universal” app includes signups with services like Uber.) But in Shanghai, they were extremely rare, and we had to get help from strangers to order one. As you would expect, this is especially hard when it’s raining and you're a very long walk from your hotel. Among maybe a dozen or two cab rides during our entire stay, we had two bad experiences with cabbies; I advise photographing the driver’s information and the meter area. I found that this significantly mitigated the problems.

We took the metro in Beijing. After brief adjustment, it was very easy to use. The main difficulty is that stations are far apart, so on (say) a rainy night, you will still need an umbrella and endurance. Shanghai seems to have an equivalent subway system, but we never used it there.

LHASA

Part of the altitude problem my wife (and a few of our fellow travellers) had appears to be the flight’s forcing a lack of transition from sea level to an altitude over 2 miles. (On the other hand, a slower, staged transfer probably would have added cost to an already expensive trip—and maybe loss of a day’s touring.) Especially for older folk, however, I think this is a relevant concern.

I don’t know why, but although I could feel very mild pressure in my breathing, I was fine for the entire Lhasa visit. I had a different disappointment (perhaps idiosyncratic to myself, an academic and non-religious person): if I remember correctly, our entire stay involved visiting Tibetan religious locations. I quite support SOME such visits—religious history is central to human existence—but I would have liked to see aspects of other Tibetan cultural history.

Because of Beijing political issues with Tibet, filing out your Chinese visa involves the charade of not mentioning you're going there (if you do mention it, your visa apparently will be denied).

And a warning re Lhasa (and at least the Great Wall): there can invite lots of climbing, and a number of us, especially some of the older people (even when altitude wasn’t an issue), chose to climb minimally (just enough to get a sense of where steps were going and what the resulting view would be). Kevin and other guides were totally understanding—indeed, we were offered climbing options.
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Highly recommend

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Me and Nena are in cruise business more than 38 years and booked so many river cruises in Europe and charter ships in Russia, India, Egypt and Ukraine. Uniworld offer excellent cruise and we highly recommend this great company.
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Fantastic

4.0
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Value4.0
Guide4.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
Fantastic cruising the Nile on MS River Tosca, spacious rooms, super crew, delicious meals, fantastic service, awesome waiters, knowledgeable tour guide Marwa! Would love to go back!
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Professioal, friendly and unforgetable experience for the cruise

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
The facility on ship was good. Staff servicing us were very professionally good. For the meals it was indeed very nice especially the kitchen was able to provide some Asian dishes that is fantastically great.
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Amazing time, Amazing ship

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I had never been on a river cruise before and did not know what to expect. After this cruise, I was ready to sail right back with Uniworld. Everything on the ship, from the food and amenities, to the excursions and especially the crew, made the week one of the best I've had.
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Details

Ship Name

River Queen

Deck & Cabin Plans

River Queen


Trip ID#:

Uniworld-196

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