At a glance:
Amsterdam to Maastricht
The Netherlands’ road to liberation from the German occupation (1940 – 1945) is a story about hope, courage and the triumph of the human spirit in the face of near impossible odds.
This 8-day WWII tour takes you through some of the most historically significant sites where you’ll learn about the period leading up to the war, the dark years of the occupation, and the long-lasting consequences of World War II. A fully guided tour where you’ll meet many local experts who will share harrowing stories about this significant chapter of human history.
Price (USD) $2,890/pp based on double occupancy
Included Accommodation on board of premium barges in twin cabin (upper-deck suite, single and triple available on request); 7 breakfasts; 6 lunches; 6 x 3-course dinner; Wine with dinner; Coffee and tea on board free of charge; Welcome drink; Use of bed linen and towels; Daily cleaning of the cabin; Daily briefings and lectures by professionals; Fully guided tours; Some short fully guided cycling tours on request; All fees for museums, transportation during tours; Unlimited wifi on board
Not included Flights to/from Amsterdam; 1 dinner; 1 lunch; Drinks; Personal insurances; Gratuities (at your discretion).
Tour Dates 2020 June 10 – June 17; June 17 – June 23; August 19 – August 26; August 26 – September 2; October 30 – November 6; November 6 – November 13
Day 1: Amsterdam
We begin in Amsterdam where you’ll learn how Amsterdammers lived during the Nazi occupation from May 1940 to May 1945. Black-out rules, soldiers marching the streets, press censorships, “Hunger Winter” – the occupation changed people’s lives forever. At Anne Frank house, you’ll visit the secret annex where Anne and her family went into hiding in 1942. They were captured and sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in 1944, just few months before the end of the war, after the German Security Service received an anonymous tip. Of the eight family members, only Anne’s father survived the war.
Day 2: Amsterdam – Wijk bij Duurstede
In the morning, the tour guide will take you to the Dutch Resistance Museum to step back in time and learn heartbreaking stories about the persecution and resistance in Amsterdam. We’ll then visit the Hollandsche Schouwburg (the National Holocaust Memorial) a former deportation centre. During the Nazi occupation the Netherlands suffered the largest proportion of Jewish victims, approximately 104,000 never returned home. After lunch, we will sail to Wijk bij Duurstede, a charming little town on the Rhine River
Day 3: Wijk bij Duurstede – Wageningen – Arnhem
In the morning we will sail to Wageningen to visit the Hotel “de Wereld” (Hotel the World) where Canadian General Charles Foulkes and German Commander-in-Chief Johannes Blaskowitz signed the capitulation of German forces in the Netherlands on May 5th, 1945. You will spend the rest of the day learning about the Operation Market Garden, the largest airborne operation in history up to that time, whose tactical objectives were to secure a series of nine bridges and to provide the Allies an invasion route into Germany. It was hoped that the war would end before Christmas of 1944 but, after the successful Battle of Nijmegen, the Allies did not manage to take the last bridge in Arnhem. Why did this operation fail? The book and popular movie “A Bridge Too Far” tells the tragic story of this operation. You will visit historic sites such as “Ginkelse Heide” where the 17th battalion of The King’s Own Scottish Borderers landed on September 17th 1944, the underground airborne experience at the Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek and the British War Cemetery where 1,754 Allied Troops are buried. You’ll re-join the ship in the city of Arnhem where a local guide will take you on a walking tour of the historic John Frost bridge, named after the heroic British Major-General who defended the bridge during the Battle of Arnhem. You will come away with a newfound respect for those who gave their lives to end the war.
Day 4: Arnhem – Nijmegen – Cuijck
Breakfast aboard as we sail through a lush river landscape to the city of Nijmegen. Nijmegen played an important role in Operation Market Garden. With its two bridges across the Waal river (the main branch of the Rhine), control of the city was vital for the planned push towards Arnhem and Germany. Here a local guide will take you on a tour around the Waal bridge and share some fascinating stories about the battles that took place here. After that, a bus will bring you to the National Liberation Museum in Groesbeek where you’ll learn about the economic and political circumstances that led to the second World War, the different roles ordinary people were forced to play in order to survive the German occupation, the landing of allied forces in Operation Market Garden, the final push into Germany and, ultimately, the liberation. You’ll also visit the Canadian War Cemetery near Groesbeek, where many young men died in the Rhineland battles.
Day 5: Cuijk – Arcen
We start the day with a visit at the largest war museum in the Netherlands, the National War and Resistance Museum in Overloon. Here you will learn what happened during the battle of Overloon and see a historical C-47, one of the aircrafts that participated in the Operation Varsity. You’ll also visit the German War Cemetery Ysselsteyn, which was created in swamp land half an hour from the German border because Dutch towns refused to bury the Germans. The rows of grey crosses here stretch a kilometre deep, it’s one of the world’s largest German war cemeteries (32,000 people are buried here). In the evening, we visit the beautiful castle gardens of Arcen.
Day 6: Arcen – Roermond (B, L)
In the morning a river cruise over the beautiful river Maas en route to Roermond. A local guide will take you around Roermond to learn how this town was caught in the crossfire when Hitler strengthened the German line of defence at the western border of Germany. Almost all buildings were heavily damaged or destroyed and the inhabitants suffered badly. The town was liberated by the US troops on March 1 1945 during Operation Grenade which marked the beginning of the Allies invasion of Germany. After the war, restoration returned the old town centre to its full glory. Nowadays, Roermond is known for its rich cultural heritage, a wide range of shops and charming squares, and the home of Pierre Cuypers one of the most important Dutch architects of the 19th century (Rijksmuseum and Amsterdam Central Station). The town centre has been designated a conservation area and boasts a wealth of listed buildings such as churches and guild houses, the St. Christopher Cathedral, dating back to the 15th Century or the Munster Church, built in the 13th Century. Also well worth a look are the “Stadhuis“, the city hall from 1700, and the “Minderbroederskerk“ (The Franciscan Friars’ Church).
Day 7: Roermond – Maastricht
Today we will go underground to explore the Velvet cave in Valkenburg, a small Dutch town near the German border and almost unknown to tourists outside Europe. Since Roman times the caves have been essential to the town’s survival – beneath the old castle, there are more than 5km of secret passageways that during medieval times were used to help save the castle from the attackers. The cave served as a shelter to approximately 400 people during the heavy fighting that took place in September 1944. After liberation, the Velvet Cave was a field hospital for American soldiers, some of whose signatures can still be found on the walls. Our next stop is Margraten, the American Cemetery and Memorial commemorating the 8,301 US soldiers who died when the US 30th infantry division liberated this site on September 13th, 1944. In the early afternoon, the bus will bring you to Maastricht, a beautifully preserved city founded by the Romans. One of the oldest towns in the Netherlands, Maastricht is an architectural delight with impressive historical monuments, churches, and Roman bridges. Farewell dinner onboard.
Day 8: Maastricht
End of the tour
Barges You will sleep on board of some of the most beautiful passenger barges cruising the European waterways. The beautiful hotel barges accommodate a maximum of 36-40 guests, this ensures that the level of service is kept to the highest possible standard. Each barge has been lovingly crafted and the crew will do their utmost to ensure every expectation is exceeded during the trip.
Cabins All cabins have en-suite shower and toilet individually regulated air conditioning, flat screen TV (satellite), 220/230 Volt electric sockets, a small safe and hair dryer. The cabins on the lower deck have portholes (all portholes are fixed for safety reasons), upper deck suites have large panoramic windows or French balconies.
Meals on board are sustainable and healthy. Fresh, local produce is delivered daily and prepared with great pride by the chefs in the professional restaurant kitchens aboard.
The planned itinerary is subject to change due to nautical, technical or meteorological reasons and other unforeseen circumstances. The captain reserves the right to change the route for safety reasons.