River cruising is the fastest-growing segment of the cruise industry. In 2013 alone, well over a dozen brand-new vessels will begin plying the waters of Europe, transporting more eager passengers than ever before to some of the greatest sights and cities on the continent. Which begs the question: are you river cruising next year?

AmaWaterways’ AmaDante makes her way through the Wachau Valley in early October. Have you river cruised yet? Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

If you’re not – and heck, even if you are – AmaWaterwayspopular Tulip Time voyages are an excellent place to start. Immensely popular, these springtime voyages provide a convenient introduction to the exciting world of river cruising. At just one week in length, and operating roundtrip out of Amsterdam, Netherlands – just a short taxi ride from nearby Schiphol Airport – making the trip to Europe can be easier than flying transcontinental in North America.

Next year, AmaWaterways is deploying five of their most popular ships on this amazing run: AmaDante, AmaLyra, AmaVerde, and the brand-new AmaCerto and AmaPrima.

AmaWaterways’ Tulip Time voyages begin and end in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

A staple of the river cruise industry, these Tulip Time voyages sell out every year – usually well in advance. For the first-time river cruiser, they present a wide array of Dutch and Belgian ports, each with their own defining characteristics.

The full itinerary:

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In the embarkation port of Amsterdam, no visit is complete without a tour of this historic city. Amsterdam is known as much for its tolerant attitudes as it is for its history, museums, and vibrant Tulips.

No visit here is complete without a stroll through the Red Light District, which isn’t the seedy den of debauchery most North Americans would assume. Instead, it is arguably the epicentre of nightlife for people of all ages.

The Netherland’s vibrant Tulips are the main draw on these exciting springtime river cruises. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Likewise, you can’t visit Amsterdam without a stroll along its storied Canals. Lunch in a café here is a must, as are visits to the breathtaking Rijksmuseum and the sombre house that was the wartime home of Holocaust victim Anne Frank.

But experienced river cruisers will also find plenty to enjoy about the itineraries AmaWaterways has crafted, which include bicycling tours in Edam and Willemstad (Netherlands, not Curacao!). To truly set out afar, take one of the optional tours in Ghent to nearby Brugges, Belgium.

The Main Lounge aboard the AmaLyra offers numerous couches, chairs and tables – perfect for drinks or socializing. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

We sailed aboard the AmaLyra last December, on a spectacular weeklong Christmas Markets voyage that took us from Nuremberg, Germany to Budapest, Hungary. Like all AmaWaterways ships, the AmaLyra was comfortable and modern, with a crew that were second to none. With only 161 guests onboard, the atmosphere is relaxed, and there is no shortage of places to pull up a chair and watch the world go by.

AmaWaterway’s ships all offer French balconies, and some even offer full step-out verandas. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

This is particularly important in the Netherlands, because the scenery on these Tulip Time voyages is truly remarkable. Windmills – both modern and old – pass lazily by, surrounded by vibrant green grass and trees and dotted with the most colourful flowers you’ve ever seen.

River cruises also represent a spectacular value-for-money. Aboard the ships of AmaWaterways, wine and beer are complimentary with both lunch and dinner, as are soda and bottled water. Wi-Fi internet access is free. Nearly all onshore excursions are free. Bicycle rentals are free.

But Vancouver-based Cruise Experts Travel is offering passengers booking select Tulip Time dates in 2013 up to a $400 per cabin onboard spending credit, which can be used for the purchase of spirits, optional shore excursions, onboard merchandise, and even Spa services! And that helps to make nearly any onboard amenity totally free!

Amsterdam’s old-world charm comes through. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

But it pays to get in early on these Tulip Time voyages. At one week in length, they’re the perfect duration for those looking to dip their toes in the waterways of Europe, and a great itinerary option for travellers who have already been and discovered for themselves the intoxicating magic of European river cruising!

More information on AmaWaterways’ exciting Tulip Time voyages for 2013 can be found by visiting our friends over at Cruise Experts Travel!


2 Responses to Unique Itinerary: Tulip Time with AmaWaterways

  1. Toni Hanner says:

    Do you know anything about Lüftner River Cruises — I believe they are based in Austria. They have a lovely website (who doesn’t?) but I can find no reviews or other info about them on the internet. We’re thinking of taking a river cruise in the fall of 2013 from Budapest to Amsterdam.

    • Aaron Saunders says:

      Hi Toni – I have to be honest and admit I’ve never heard of them. Let me do some digging and get back to you.

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