Veendam, British Isles & Baltic Explorer ex Amsterdam Return
28 Night cruise departing roundtrip from Amsterdam onboard Veendam.
|11/07/20||Amsterdam, The Netherlands||06:00PM|
|13/07/20||St Peter Port, Guernsey||08:00AM||06:00PM|
|14/07/20||St Mary's Port, Scilly Isles||08:00AM||05:00PM|
|18/07/20||Belfast, Northern Ireland||08:00AM||11:00PM|
|20/07/20||Stornoway, Isle of Lewis - Scotland||08:00AM||05:00PM|
|23/07/20||South Queensferry, Scotland||08:00AM||11:00PM|
|25/07/20||Amsterdam, The Netherlands||07:00AM||06:00PM|
|01/08/20||St Petersburg, Russia||07:00AM||overnight|
|02/08/20||St Petersburg, Russia||06:00PM|
|08/08/20||Amsterdam, The Netherlands||07:00AM|
28 Night cruise departing roundtrip from Amsterdam onboard Veendam.
Grandly proportioned and recently enhanced, Veendam combines 21st-century amenities and elegant spaces graced by a multi-million-dollar art and antiques collection. While on board, guests can learn video-editing tips at a Digital Workshop powered by Windows®. Hone their culinary skills at an America’s Test Kitchen cooking show or hands-on workshop. Work out in our state-of-the-art Fitness Center. Or explore fine dining at our specialty restaurants.
Highlights of this cruise:
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
A stop in Amsterdam offers the chance to explore the sights of one of Europe’s most colorful, dynamic and historic cities—one with a well-earned reputation as a laid-back and inviting place for people of all stripes. Visitors are naturally drawn to the historic city center where you’ll find some of the world’s top art museums, including the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. And at Dam Square, the Amsterdam’s largest public square, you can tour the Royal Palace before continuing to the tourist attractions on the Canal Belt. The iconic network of waterways that surrounds the downtown area offers a picturesque backdrop for sightseeing by bike or canal boat. Be sure to visit the floating Bloemenmarkt to peruse famed Dutch tulips, and take time to wander and window-shop among the narrow lanes of de Jordaan. And you won’t have to look far in Amsterdam to find delicious Dutch treats along the way. Just duck into a cozy brown café to sample a plate of bitterballen with mustard and a beer, and grab a gooey sweet stroopwafel from a street vendor as you stroll.
St Peter Port, Guernsy
The second largest of the Channel Islands, Guernsey is the most densely populated, with some 60,000 inhabitants spread over 65 square kilometers (25 square miles) of towns, cliff-top pastures, farms and market gardens. The history of Guernsey stretches back to the Neolithic period, when its inhabitants erected the standing stones that dot the landscape; there was a trading post here in Roman times. But the island's capital, St. Peter Port, came into its own during the Napoleonic wars, when people from all over Europe came here to dodge the fighting, many of them Britons escaping the high taxes imposed to finance the wars. Privateers and smugglers added significantly to the town's prosperity in the 19th century, and wealthy merchants built themselves stylish Regency houses. And Victor Hugo lived in exile here at Hauteville House from 1856 to 1870.
Seen from the sea, St. Peter Port is a cluster of white buildings rising from a harbor crisscrossed by ferries traveling to England, France and the other islands. There are two watchwords for those newly off a cruise ship: steep and narrow. Alleyways in the Old Quarter are so tight that from an upper window you could whisper secrets to someone in the opposite building. The steep steps that link these winding streets make exploring a delight. Be aware that lots of shops close on Sundays.
St Marys, Isles of Scilly
If you fly to St. Mary’s from the British mainland (a 15-minute journey in a plane so small you can touch the pilot’s shoulder), the Isles of Scilly below look like a glittering Caribbean archipelago of cobalt-blue sea and empty white-sand beaches. Once you’re on the biggest Isle, it actually feels like you’ve journeyed back in time. Its isolation and bijou scale give it a unique and welcoming charm and a sense of community so strong that a recent job ad for a police constable on “possibly the most enviable policing post in the U.K. or even the world” went viral.
Even the wildlife feels retro here. Birds whose populations are dwindling on mainland Britain—starlings, sparrows, swallows, blackbirds and song thrushes—don’t just flit all around St. Mary's, they are so tame that they'll eat out of your hand. If the weather's good, hit the beach. There are so many gorgeous stretches of soft white sand that you’ll rarely be more than a 10-minute walk away from one of the finest beaches in the U.K.—and there’s a good chance you’ll have it all to yourself. (Pelistry Bay and Porth Mellon are the locals' favorites.) The rhythm of the Isles of Scilly is dictated by the timetables of the small ferries that zip between them; wherever you are on one of the islands, you can usually see the others, a sensation that adds to the intimacy of the place.
Wander through the ancient town center built around St. Cybi's Church, which is built inside one of Europe's only three-walled Roman forts (the fourth wall being the sea, which used to come up to the fort). Explore the Ucheldre Arts Centre, then relax with a pint or cup of tea at one of Holyhead's charming pubs.
Few destinations wear their souls as outwardly as Liverpool, an alluringly energetic city of humor, individuality, grit and history, whose inhabitants are known as much for their fierce sporting loyalties as for their warmth and wit. At its heart is its industrial past; what were once grimy warehouses have been reimagined as chic flats and a huge array of hip bars, restaurants and hotels for every taste and budget.Of course, it is also a city of music, not just of the Beatles but of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, a litany of teen pop bands and, for more refined tastes, the UK’s oldest professional symphony orchestra, the Liverpool Philharmonic. In the handily compact center you’ll find independent book, fashion and interiors stores, especially around the RopeWalks area. There are places of musical legend and cultural merit as well, such as The Tate Liverpool, just one of the many galleries, museums and creative spaces worth exploring around the docks. This is also where old and new collide—the fascinating, historical Museum of Liverpool and the bold architectural center RIBA North are both examples of this ever-changing city’s adaptable and admirable existence.
Dublin works its magic on you slowly. Founded by the Vikings on the banks of the River Liffey in the 9th century, the city occupies one of the loveliest natural settings of any European capital. Its architecture is a jumble of different periods, including the medieval cobblestone streets of Temple Bar, the elegant terraces and leafy squares of the Georgian period and the modern architecture of the revitalized Docklands district.
Dublin’s compact heart is divided by the languorous flow of the Liffey before it enters the wide expanse of Dublin Bay. Both gritty and gracious, the city streets inspired some of the most celebrated writers of the 19th and 20th centuries, acknowledged by its status as a UNESCO World City of Literature.
But while its heritage is undeniably a major draw for visitors, these days Dublin is vibrant with thriving technology firms and a young population eager to make their mark. It might arrive via an impromptu chat with a local or a quiet pint of Guinness in a historic pub, but by the time you leave, Dublin will have charmed you.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Belfast has emerged from decades of conflict to become one of Ireland’s most intriguing cities. In the 19th century, its location on the banks of the River Lagan made it an industrial center for ropemaking, shipbuilding, tobacco and textiles. And this legacy shaped much of its architecture: Grand Edwardian and Victorian municipal buildings and warehouses are found throughout the city alongside telltale scars of its more recent past.
While the legacy of Belfast’s complex conflict known as The Troubles still looms, there are many other sides of Northern Ireland's capital to explore, from the quaint streets of the Cathedral Quarter to the newly regenerated Titanic Quarter, where the ill-fated RMS Titanic was constructed.
Belfast is also gathering momentum as an up-and-coming gourmet destination, with a new generation of chefs producing food to get excited about. Beyond the city limits, County Down and neighboring County Antrim have a wealth of things to see and do. Any lingering negative preconceptions will evaporate after a short time in this fascinating and welcoming city.
Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland
Inhabited for more than 6,000 years, the Isle of Lewis has a rich history and rugged beauty. Explore the islands varied scenery from fjord-like lochs and dramatic sea-cliffs to barren peat moors and romantic heather covered uplands; marvel at the mysterious Standing Stones at Callanish, the most remarkable piece of antiquity in the Western Isles; and shop for famous Harris Tweed, hand-woven and uniquely dyed using indigenous plants.
With its rugged sandstone cliffs, windswept moors and churning ocean, Scotland’s Northern Highlands is one of the most wildly beautiful landscapes in Europe. The gateway to this remote destination is Scrabster, a fishing port where the late Queen Mother and the royal family would disembark to visit their summer residence, the Castle of Mey, which is now open to the public. A deepwater port since the time of the Vikings, the harbor was constructed in the 19th century as the departure point to the Shetland and Orkney islands, as well as the Faroe Islands. It's still one of the main ferry routes to the Orkneys. In 2013, the Old Fish Market pier was renovated and turned into the Jubilee Quay. A Viking stronghold for several centuries, the area came under Scottish rule in the Middle Ages, and there are several medieval sites still in existence. Explore the rugged coastline by hiking along the cliffside paths, where you can soak up views of the dramatic waves—some as high as 30 meters (100 feet)—and impressive birdlife. Fans of history can visit the area’s ancient castles.
While the southernmost isles of Orkney closely straddle the northeast corner of the Scottish mainland, historically the archipelago (around 70 islands in all) and its people have had as much in common with Scandinavia as they have had with Scotland. In fact, until the 15th century, the Orkney Islands were politically part of Norway.
Today the Orcadians are a fairly tight-knit and cooperative group of Scots—a rich community of artists and crofters (small-holding farmers), fisherfolk and those in the trades. A key attraction for tourists is the wealth of prehistoric sites on Orkney, including standing stones, burial chambers and even Stone Age settlements, such as Skara Brae, inhabited sometime around 3000 B.C.E. More recently, because of its isolation, Orkney was chosen as the place to keep Italian prisoners of war during WWII; a chapel built by them is a popular site to visit.
The island capital is Kirkwall (originally Kirkjuvagr meaning Church Bay). Here you'll find the Cathedral of St. Magnus—one of only two pre–Reformation cathedrals still largely intact in Scotland (the other is Glasgow's St. Mungo). Nearby, the historic town district includes the Earl's Palace, built for the infamous Earl Patrick Stewart, whose father was a bastard son of King James V and who was executed in 1615 for treason.
South Queensferry (Edinburgh), Scotland
History was made in this port, just across the Firth of Forth from Rosyth, when the future Queen Margaret of Scotland arrived around 1071. Her devout religious attitude established "Queen's Ferry" as the place for pilgrims from abroad to alight on their way to St. Andrews—Scotland's ecclesiastical capital in the Middle Ages. Margaret's legacy continues less than a dozen miles away at Edinburgh Castle. A key attraction up on the castle's rock is St. Margaret's Chapel, believed to be the oldest section of the fortifications and the place where she worshipped.
There's more to Scotland's capital than the Castle, though. Edinburgh proudly displays multiple exhibits on national and international scientific achievement at the National Museum of Scotland, as well as some fantastic works of visual art at the National Galleries of Scotland. South Queensferry's moorings are also within easy striking distance of Scotland's largest metropolis: the city of Glasgow. Transformed in many ways since the post–WWII days when it had a reputation for grime and crime, the city is among the most vibrant in the U.K.: It is Scotland's de-facto capital of modern culture, with the hippest DJs and most accomplished conceptual artists.
Located on the eastern edge of Denmark's Jutland Peninsula, Fredericia is named after its founder, King Frederik III, who established the fortified town in 1650 as a military stronghold. The extensive ancient ramparts still remain intact, and you can walk along the walls that encircle the old town, viewing the centuries-old Prince’s Gate, Guard House, and Gunpowder Tower. There are a number of churches representing various denominations scattered throughout Fredericia, as religious freedom was guaranteed since its founding. Among the most notable are the Protestant Trinitatis Church, which dates from 1690, and the Reformed Church, established by the French Huguenots in the early 1700s. There was also a Jewish community at one time, and though the synagogue no longer exists, you can visit the 17th-century Jewish cemetery—one of the largest and oldest in Denmark—where approximately 550 people are buried.
Warnemunde (Berlin), Germany
Berlin can feel like the exception among Europe’s capitals. While Rome, London and Paris emerged as important cities under the Roman Empire, Berlin wasn’t established until the thirteenth century and only became a significant commercial center in the nineteenth. During the century and a half that it has been on the world stage, its history is almost unbelievable. This was a city that was synonymous with the glittering excesses of the Weimar Republic and then served as the capital of the Nazi regime. For 45 years, it was divided by an infamous wall, with half its citizens living in communist East Germany while West Berlin was an island of capitalist and western values located behind the Iron Curtain.
In 1990, Berlin resumed its role as the capital of a unified Germany. For the visitor today it’s an intriguing, vibrant city. While devastated by bombings in World War II, its museums are still filled with cultural treasures. Thoughtful memorials and museums acknowledged the darker moments of its history, though it is the city’s restaurants, bars, boutiques and galleries that tend to impress most visitors. Berlin enthusiastically embraces its artists and entrepreneurs, creating an exciting atmosphere of possibility.
Visby, Gotland, Sweden
Ask Stockholm residents about their favorite summer escape and many will tell you about the wide beaches of Gotland, a 176-kilometer-long (109-mile) Swedish island in the middle of the Baltic. And Visby, Gotland’s capital, is a historic city and site of a former Viking settlement that is today an impossibly pleasant town of 22,000 residents, with ancient forts, churches and pretty bricked streets lined with cafés and postcard-perfect cottages. Remnants of the city walls, which date to the 13th century, run for 3.4 kilometers (2.1 miles) and are punctuated by 36 towers. In fact, the entire city has been recognized by UNESCO as the best-preserved medieval commercial center in Northern Europe.Visby’s Gotland Museum puts a spotlight on the history of the Viking settlement, as well as the city’s medieval era, with a fascinating collection of artifacts that includes gravestones, skeletal remains and Viking silver. In the town’s lush park, Almedalen, you can picnic on the grassy lawns or spot birds along what was once Visby’s bustling Hanseatic-era harbor. After you’ve explored the sights, settle into one of the many cozy cafés for that most Swedish of traditions, fika, with a strong cup of coffee and a slice of something sweet to eat.
On the shores of the Baltic Sea, Tallinn, Estonia’s largest city, is impossibly charming. Northern Europe’s oldest capital—it dates back to the 12th century—is also one of its best preserved, with much of its Old Town constructed when it was a bustling port in the Hanseatic League.
Explore the upper portion on Toompea Hill, where there is an impressive castle and the 19th-century Alexander Nevsky cathedral, a vestige from the Russian Empire, then head to the lower section for churches and merchants’ homes off twisting medieval streets.
Tallinn isn’t, however, simply a historic showpiece. Just a short walk from the UNESCO World Heritage-designated core is a dynamic, future-facing city of glass buildings and trendy restaurants and boutiques catering to the city’s young professionals—as well as visiting travelers.
St Petersburg, Russia
St. Petersburg, Russia, emerged from the vision of one man, Czar Peter the Great, at the beginning of the 18th century and was the country’s capital for 200 years, until the Russian Revolution. Pushkin called it Russia's "window to Europe," and like Venice and Amsterdam, two cities that inspired Peter, the city was built on a network of canals.
Among the city's tourist attractions, the Hermitage is its most famous. It is one of the world’s greatest art museums, and the largest museum in the world—with almost three million objects collected in five buildings. Performing arts, too, abound: Many of Russia’s greatest ballets, plays and operas have premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre. Nearby, the summer residences of the czars, including Peterhof, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are dazzling gilded Baroque palaces for sightseeing in St. Petersburg.
St. Petersburg is at its most beautiful during the famous White Nights, when summer days stretch late into evening hours. Residents make the most of the period with festivals and concerts and fun things to do, and the city’s many pastel-colored buildings and neoclassical palaces glow in the warm light of the long days.
Finland’s capital, Helsinki, is sometimes overshadowed by its larger Scandinavian counterparts, Copenhagen and Stockholm, but the city has its own singular style and appeal. A lively arts and music scene thrives amid splendid Art Nouveau buildings and classic cafés.
The city's modern architecture is especially exciting: Buildings by Alvar Aalto and Eero Saarinen should be at the top of your must-see list. Finland’s design output, too, goes far beyond familiar Marimekko prints. Wander into the shops in the city’s Design District or check out the exhibits at the Design Museum (Designmuseo). If the weather is good, you’ll want to hop a ferry to a nearby island or enjoy the catch of the day at a harbor-facing restaurant.
If you are lucky enough to be here in the summer, it's a magical time of the year, when the days last for up to 19 hours and the entire city sparkles from the sun reflecting off the water.
Spread over more than a dozen islands linked by bridges, the Swedish capital of Stockholm is one of the most effortlessly enjoyable cities in Europe. Go sightseeing in Stockholm's elegant Östermalm with its chic interior design stores; verdant Djurgården with its museums, cultural sights and acres of rolling parkland; ancient Gamla Stan with its cobbled streets that surround the Royal Palace; and trendy Södermalm with its cool neighborhoods and even cooler inhabitants. Stockholm is easy to navigate on foot or by public transport, and wherever you roam, you’re never far from water or parkland attractions in Stockholm.
Food and drink in Stockholm is of a high standard, and recent years have brought a marked improvement in the range of dining options—though it’s hard to resist traditional favorites such as meatballs or herring washed down with a cold beer. The friendly locals speak faultless English, and the only crime you’re likely to encounter has a dragon tattoo and can be found in the bestseller section of a bookshop. And in the unlikely event you ever get bored sightseeing in the stunning city of Stockholm, there are thousands more islands each with many things to do just an easy ferry ride away.
Copenhagen is one of the easiest European capitals to fall in love with. The sights of old buildings, cobbled streets and the tower- and turret-dotted skyline lend fairy-tale charm—this was, after all, the home of author Hans Christian Andersen. But make no mistake: This is a thoroughly modern city with international clout.
Restaurants around the world draw inspiration from the New Nordic cuisine pioneered by Noma and other Copenhagen restaurants, while Danish design from this century and the last is universally admired and coveted. Urban planners flock here to try to work out just how the city remains so livable and yet so functional, and despite its wealth of old buildings, Copenhagen’s not locked in the past; there are also thrilling examples of modern architecture.
Copenhagen is a city that’s easy to find things to do and explore on foot or by excellent public transport, where everyone speaks perfect English, the food is fresh and innovative, and there’s plenty of locally brewed beer—which, of course, is best enjoyed sitting by the water on a sunny day.
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