From our embark at the center of Amsterdam
(300 yards from the city’s main rail station) our designed-for-cycling Holland & Belgium itinerary departs at sunset and cruises fifty miles while you sleep to reach our first day of incredible cycling.
The next morning you’ll wake up to cycle through delightful Dutch villages where the local markets are a great place to sample cheese or pastries.
During our levee-top ride past Kinderdijk’s 19 historic windmills, we’ll explore the region famous for exporting Tulips during their full bloom.
This colorful day ends in the medieval town of Gorinchem, where we’ll pedal past preserved fortifications to enter the bicycle-scaled village. After today’s ride and tonight’s dinner, tomorrow you’ll wake up at the Belgian border.
Our second day’s ride features Bruges, a UNESCO Heritage City with the finest collection of preserved medieval architecture in all of Europe.
Bruges is where medieval Flanders rocks to the modern beat of a youthful Flemish lifestyle. Dotted with gourmet restaurants, historical sites, breweries, and chocolatiers you’ll be delighted with something new every time you turn a corner.
Ghent is the ancient university town where the renaissance continues to this day. An “Open City” that escaped destruction during both World Wars, the architecturally magnificent capital of Flanders surrounds Belgium’s largest car-free walking district.
Ghent has the largest designated cyclist area in Europe, with nearly 250 miles of dedicated cycle paths. It also boasts Belgium’s first cycle street, where cars are considered “guests” and must stay behind the cyclists.
Sidewalk cafes? Of course!
No cycling tour of Europe would be complete without them
After cruising up the Scheldt, our ship ties up near the center of Antwerp. The undisputed hub of the world’s diamond trade, Antwerp has a multi-faceted array of Baroque architecture.
Is cycling better in Belgium? While this question eludes a simple answer, Belgian cyclists are bound to win all arguments about the quality of mid-ride snacking. Belgium is, after all, the genuine home of french fries.
My favorite mid-ride treat, however, is a hand-held waffle with coffee.
Others choose hand-dipped Belgian chocolates, which are found at nearly all of Belgium’s bakeries.
If you reach our afternoon port before the ship, why not have a Trappist Ale?
Our daily routes will wind through beautiful lush countryside with smooth paved roads and a nice flat landscape, a perfect way to start your cycling season.
From Antwerp our ship cruises overnight to the middle of the Albert Canal, a popular cycling route where our ship’s progress will be delayed by locks. We’ll start our morning ride along the canal to reach Genk where we’ll “Cycle Through Water.”
The bicycle path is actually submerged below the water level, and is a favorite photo-op of cyclists touring the region. Our afternoon route will ride into Maastricht, a delightful Dutch city at the southeast corner of the Netherlands.
Are there hills in Holland? Yes! After four days on the flatlands, today’s three-nation ride ascends 450 feet through hills bordering Belgium to reach the German town of Aachen.
Aachen is where Emperor Charlemagne’s still-standing Cathedral became the coronation site for five centuries of Germanic Kings.
Aachen, the walls are down, but the gates survive.
Our last day of cycling starts in Venlo, pauses for coffee at Arcen Castle (with ample time to take a stroll through the famous gardens), and traces the Meuse River back towards Amsterdam, where you’ll wake up on the final morning of this 8-day voyage.
If you care to arrive two or three days early, our bargain-priced pre-tour package will meet your flight at AMS airport and ease you through jetlag while visiting Amsterdam’s outlying attractions. After the conclusion of our 8-day cycling cruise, many will remain in Amsterdam for an extra day or two of self-guided visits to some of Europe’s most distinguished museums.
Holland & Belgium Cycling Cruise
Tulip Time 2023
Holland is the perfect place to replace a string of hotels with a luxurious river cruise ship.
Holland not only has sizable rivers and estuaries, these natural waterways are connected by canals three times wider than the barge canals found in other parts of Europe. Additionally, the ship-width canals in Holland and Belgium are designed to be navigated at night.
While an old-school hotel or barge tour allows cyclists to ride through a quarter of Holland (a country twice as large as Massachusetts), a ship that travels up to 100 miles while you sleep allows participants of Santana’s unprecedented Tulip Time Cycling Cruise to experience a superior selection of rides and sights in Holland, Belgium, and a prime corner of Germany.
On most days of our Holland & Belgium Cycling Cruise, our chartered ship will move through the night to find a perfect place to start a morning ride. After we are off, it will move ahead 30-40 miles to where it docks and waits to serve a late lunch. The day’s shortest route parallels the river or canal. Longer options loop inland. Our late afternoon tie-ups are always at the center of a town that merits your pre-dinner exploration. Once everyone is seated for dinner in the panoramic dining room, the ship unties and moves to our next day’s ride.
The Mozart & Strauss Deck staterooms have French Balconies. You’ll both be able to lean out to share beautiful views up and down the river. All double-staterooms are 161 square feet, plenty of room for a king-width bed. Suites are about 50% larger (237 square feet) and provide room to entertain your friends. The Haydn Deck Staterooms have a tall and wide fixed window. Featuring the same floor-plan and amenities as upper deck staterooms, with the curtains closed you can’t tell which deck you’re on.
Compared to an inn-to-inn tour, you’ll visit additional regions while gaining an hour a day by not having to repack and change hotels. The panoramic view staterooms on the Amadeus Brilliant are not only cleaner, fresher, and quieter than most hotel rooms, on this bicycle tour you’ll sleep better by not having to adjust to a new mattress, pillow, and thermostat each night.
On any day you don’t feel like riding, an inland cruise comes with fascinating scenery. While aboard you can nap, read, use the wifi, catch some rays on the sundeck, or enjoy a massage or spa treatment.
Another daily option is to hop aboard Sergio’s picture-window coach to reach and enjoy the mid-ride attractions without pedaling. Meals? The ship’s panoramic dining room accommodates all, and serves three gourmet-quality meals per day curated by our 5-star chef, each with enough choices to please everyone.
The forward Panorama Lounge/Bar has 270-degree views and seating for all our guests. The Amadeus Club is a more intimate venue at the rear of the ship. Both the Lounge & Club are great places to relax, catch up on emails, post a few photos on social media, or read a nice book.
Frequently Asked Questions
Holland & Belgium Cycling Cruise
Tulip Time 2023
Q: What are the exact dates?
A: May 10 to 17, 2023. 8-Days/7-Nights. This warmer-portion of the tulip season allows you to witness Amsterdam’s famous Keukenhof Tulip Festival before our Holland & Belgium Cycling Cruise.
Q: What’s the cost?
A: Due to the current strength of the dollar our per-person pricing for this 8-day cycling cruise starts at $3,999 per-person. Booking early is easy and RISK FREE. Our reservations page shows pricing of available staterooms.
Q: What’s “Early-In” Pricing?
A: To manage the risk of chartering entire cruise ships, couples who commit early are rewarded with discounts of up to $1,000 per stateroom. Booking early is easy and RISK FREE.
Q: What about tipping?
A: Jan and I don’t accept tips. A comprehensive “cruise extras” fee of $350 per person includes a long list of port fees, off-ship activities, admissions, interpretive guides, site fees, non-rider coach bus, and ride support (gps route files, morning shuttles to give casual riders a head start, and an SOS van driven by a pro mechanic). Note that this is less than the average cruise passenger pays for a week of “deluxe excursions.” Shipboard gratuities of $150 per person includes wash & fold laundry and valet bike handling.
Q: Are all the staterooms the same?
A: No. Lüftner Cruises designed the Amadeus Brilliant to be the most luxurious ship that can pass through the canals of Holland & Belgium. It is the perfect place to dine, sleep, and relax between rides. The Mozart & Strauss Deck staterooms have French Balconies. You’ll both be able to lean out to share beautiful views up and down the river.
All double staterooms are 161 square feet, and suites are about 50% larger (237 square feet) and provide room to entertain your friends. The Haydn Deck Staterooms have a tall and wide fixed window. With the same floor-plan and amenities as upper deck staterooms, you can’t tell which deck you’re on with the curtains closed.
Q: How are staterooms assigned?
A: In any sub-category all rooms are identical. Using the PayPal timestamp, those who reserve earliest get the conveniently located staterooms closest to the front of the ship. If friends desire a pair of adjacent staterooms the timestamp of the first reservation determines the location of both rooms. In short, out of fairness to all our guests, we will not take requests for specific room numbers. Those who book early obtain prime positioning.
Q: Are rental bikes available?
A: Yes. If you own a nice bike that fits, however, bringing it with you is relatively easy and inexpensive. More info on this in Bill’s Travel Tips. Single bike rental, about $450 per-person for the event, includes delivery at embark and retrieval at the end of the final ride.
Q: How do we get to and from the tour?
A: Detailed info by May ’21. Those who arrive and leave on the embark and debark days will receive FREE Airport transfers.
Q: How many miles each day?
In addition to our daily pair of zero-mile options (remaining on the ship or reaching prime attractions via Santana’s non-rider touring coach), every day has multiple cycling routes. Anyone who can ride 30 flat miles will be able to enjoy multiple days of cycling. Longer routes are available, and typically allow 60 or more miles. Our welcome aboard page has more info on mileage. At each morning’s breakfast you’ll get a map charting the day’s cycling routes and recommended stops. During a brief route talk you’ll hear about each route’s attractions. Santana’s vets have learned to love and rely on their handlebar-mounted GPS units. Available for less than $170, these touch-screen marvels prevent the age-old problem of getting lost or riding unplanned miles. Would you rather use your smartphone? Use the tips in our GPS Guide to make sure you’re ready to go. Santana supplies free electronic mapping and route files. Simply select the route and follow the highlighted map.
Q: What’s the next step?
A: A near-immediate sell-out of this event is anticipated. Early-in pricing is limited to the first few rooms in each category. Pricing listed on the Stateroom Reservations section is the current pricing. Refresh your browser to see any changes that may have occurred if you delay booking after loading this page. To lock-in availability and the lowest pricing on a RISK-FREE basis, reserve your space through our PayPal portal. PayPal’s secure website is open 24 hours per day, accepts all major credit cards, and automatically adjusts for remaining stateroom availability. Reserving your spot is RISK-FREE. In each category the prime location staterooms will be assigned in the same order as the time stamp of your booking.
Q: What do you mean by RISK-FREE?
A: When you use your credit card and book through PayPal, we’ll give you 14 risk-free days to think it over and clear your schedule. If you change your mind, send an email to Cancellations@SantanaAdventures.com within two weeks to cancel the PayPal transaction and obtain a full refund. Please do not send your request to any other email addresses. Here is a full listing of Santana Adventures’ Terms & Conditions.
Q: What if we change our minds after 14 days?
A: Because full-boat charters are binding, non-cancelable contracts, Jan and I will only enter into this charter based on your confirmed-through-PayPal commitment. In effect, we undertake a huge risk by guaranteeing full payment on your behalf. After entering into this obligation, we cannot afford for you to back out—for any reason. This is no different than the clear written policy that existed for all except one of Santana’s prior chartered-ship cruises (this charter will be our 53rd!). While preparing for our 2009 Danube event I neglected to include the following proviso. That’s the year a group of friends, after verbally agreeing to pay in full and then stringing Jan along for many months, decided to cancel their plans. Lesson learned! Here it is (again) in writing:
Santana’s acceptance of your registration and non-refundable deposit for this event is subsequent to your agreement to pay the remaining balance in full. While Santana allows limited refunds on rallies and tours, Santana’s cruises are non-cancelable and non-transferable. When the possibility of paying yet not attending is unacceptable, Jan and I recommend Travel Guard trip insurance. For the past 25 years hundreds of our clients have relied on Travel Guard coverage without complaint. An informative application will be mailed with your invoice; and further information is available online. Here is a full listing of Santana Adventures’ Terms & Conditions.
Q: Have you ever relaxed your refund policy?
A: Jan and I have willingly resold a number of fully prepaid staterooms for a fee of $1,500 per stateroom—which is waived when vacating participants found someone to take their place. When there has been more than one pending resell request, those who paid-in-full earliest had their space resold next. Using this non-guaranteed method (which is grossly inferior to trip insurance) Jan and I have cheerfully refunded over $500,000 in otherwise non-refundable and non-transferable cruise fares. Here is a full listing of Santana Adventures’ Terms & Conditions.
Q: What’s the difference between a SAG-wagon and Santana’s SOS/treasure vans?
A: Most tour companies use SAG-wagons that haul luggage and “sweep” the route between overnight stops. The drivers refill water-bottles, fix flat tires, and retrieve riders who can’t manage the easiest route between the widely spaced hotels. The problem, of course, is that the roving vans tend to be annoying until you actually need help. At that point it’s common to wait for two or more hours until one shows up. Although SAG drivers can fix a flat, they don’t have the tools or know-how to handle serious mechanical problems. Instead, they drive you to a bike shop (which explains why SAG-wagons disappear for hours at a time). This tour’s SOS van is driven by a pro bike mechanic who brings tools and spares. When you phone him with the coordinates from your GPS, he’ll arrive in a flash to get you back in the saddle. Because Santana expects participants to fill their own bottles, fix their own flats, and choose a ride they can finish, our SOS drivers are underworked, and have time to retrieve your shopping treasures.
Q: Are beverages included?
A: Beer & Wine are included at dinner. Other alcohol is not included but can be charged to your room. Soft Drinks, Coffee, Espresso Drinks, and Juice are all complimentary at meal times.
Q: Which meals are included?
A: During Santana’s earlier charters of Lueftner cruises the culinary staff appreciated our appetites as much as we appreciated their multi-course gourmet meals. A 5-star chef will curate a new menu for each meal, and will always include a surprising selection of local fruits and produce, regional specialties, the freshest-possible seafood, vegetarian options, and grilled-to-order meats. A changing assortment of desserts and pastries are produced aboard each day. Breakfast and Lunch are served from a viewing queue, perfect for active cyclists. Dinner is a plated multi-course menu with plenty of gourmet options for all of our participants.
Q: Does the Amadeus Brilliant offer WiFi? Does the ship have an elevator?
Will there be menu selections for vegetarians, vegans and picky eaters?
A: Yes to all of the above.
Q: What if we have more questions?
A: The quickest and easiest way to get help is to use Santana’s Contact Form. One of our team members will follow up with you as soon as possible.