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The Old Masters: Art Treasures of Holland by River

Program Number: 19504RJ
Start and End Dates:
5/1/2014 - 5/10/2014; 9/24/2015 - 10/3/2015; 10/8/2015 - 10/17/2015; 3/31/2016 - 4/9/2016; 5/5/2016 - 5/14/2016; 6/9/2016 - 6/18/2016; 8/18/2016 - 8/27/2016; 10/6/2016 - 10/15/2016;
Duration: 9 nights
Location: Netherlands
Price starting at: $2,870.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Holidays, Festivals & Events Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 21; 8 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 8 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    


Built in 1908 as a cargo ship, the Allure was converted into a passenger boat in 1998 and underwent a total renovation in 2012. Chartered exclusively for Road Scholar participants, the Allure is a comfort class barge, with a salon where meals are served, a sitting area with a TV, a reading-corner, sun deck and a small bar. There are 10 double occupancy cabins with twin lower beds, plus a private bath.


When Antwerp fell to Catholic Spain in 1585, wealthy Calvinists fled north to the United Provinces, which kept up the Dutch Revolt until victory 63 years later. This influx of the wealthy and educated spurred the Dutch Golden Age and turned tiny Amsterdam -- the “new Antwerp” -- into the world’s most important port. Today, the Netherlands sports an international outlook as a member of the EU and home to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Amsterdam: Three-star hotel. Double-occupancy barge cabins, each with twin-lower beds, basin, toilet, shower and central heating. Ship features day room, small bar, outdoor seating on upper deck.
Meals and Lodgings
   Conscious Hotel Museum Square
  Amsterdam, Netherlands 1 night
  Amsterdam, Netherlands
Haarlem, Netherlands
Leiden, Netherlands
Delft, Netherlands
Gouda, Netherlands
Vianen, Netherlands
Amsterdam, Netherlands
7 nights
 Conscious Hotel Museum Square
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Within walking distance to museums
  Contact info: De Lairessestraat 7
Amsterdam,  1071 Netherlands
phone: +31 20 6719596
  Room amenities: En-suite bathroom, flatscreen TV, WiFi, safe deposit box, minibar, air-conditioning, luggage storage
  Facility amenities: Hotel garden cafe
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Contact IBT for rates. Please refer to the OPTIONAL EXTENSIONS section of your preparatory materials for rates.
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

Type: Barge
  Ship Information: The Allure was built in 1908 as a cargo ship and converted into a passenger boat in 1998. A total renovation was completed in 2012. The barge is 138' x 22' wide.
  Contact info: No street address available as
the barge continually moves,   Netherlands
phone: +31 6 51 55 22 68
  Room amenities: Private bath with shower, toilet, and sink. There is a porthole in the bathroom and cabin which opens.
  Facility amenities: Chartered exclusively for Road Scholar participants, the Allure is a comfort class barge, with a salon where meals are served, a sitting area, a reading-corner, sun deck, and a small bar. There are (10) double occupancy cabins with twin lower beds.
  Smoking allowed: No

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
10:30 AM - group meets at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. You will be staying at Conscious Hotel Museum Square that night.
  End of Program:
Early morning group transfer to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. You will be staying at Allure the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. International Barging Tours, the entity that will provide the barging trip during this program, is required by its insurance carrier to obtain signed liability release waivers from all customers. Participants will be required to sign IBT's liability release waiver to participate in the program's barging activity. That waiver will be included in the preparatory material participants will receive after enrolling in the program and must be returned prior to the program's commencement.
  Parking availability:
No parking available.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Taxi, bus & train available. Refer to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport's website for specifics and to review schedules & fares:
To Start of Program
  Location:  Amsterdam
  Nearest airport:  Amsterdam Schiphol
  Transportation to site: If you cannot make the 10:30 AM meeting time, take a taxi from the airport to the Conscious Hotel Museum Square. Travel time is about 25 minutes and taxi will cost approximately €50. Conscious Hotel Museum Square de Lairessestraat 7 Tel: +31 020 6719596 If you are departing the U.S. prior to the group departure and plan to connect with the group at the airport on the day the program commences, be sure to be at the meeting point at the time indicated. If you plan to meet the group at the Conscious Hotel Museum Square, please notify our office prior to your departure: (860) 767-7005 or
  From End of Program
  Location: Amsterdam
  Transportation from site: Take a taxi from the barge in Amsterdam to Schiphol Airport; approximate travel time is 25 minutes. Taxi will cost about €50. You may also take a train from Centraal Station to Schiphol Airport. Centraal Station is a 15-minute walk from the barge. Travel time by train is 15 minutes. Review schedules and fares online:
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: International Flight
(Thursday, May 1)
 Afternoon: Board an overnight flight.

Day 2: Arrive in Amsterdam/ Zaanse Schans/ Welcome Dinner
(Friday, May 2)
 Morning: Arrival at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Transfer to de Zaanse Schans, a village with windmills, a klompen maker (wooden shoes) and a fabulous pancake house.
 Lunch: Pancake house.
 Afternoon: After lunch we continue to Amsterdam and check into our hotel located in the heart of Amsterdam. The balance of the afternoon is yours to relax or explore the city.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner in a local restaurant.
 Evening: All evenings are free to explore on your own or relax.
Accommodations: Conscious Hotel Museum Square
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Kröller-Müller Museum
(Saturday, May 3)
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: Coach to the Kröller-Müller Museum, home to the largest private collection of Van Gogh paintings. Located in a dense forest, this one-level museum and sculpture garden will satisfy the most critical art connoisseur.
 Lunch: Enjoy lunch at the Kröller-Müller Museum cafeteria.
 Afternoon: Coach to Amsterdam and board the barge, our home for the next seven nights. Meet the crew and pay close attention to the captain's safety orientation.
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
Accommodations: Allure
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: Frans Hals Museum
(Sunday, May 4)
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: We start the day barging to Haarlem. You'll see locks, bridges and lots of traffic on the rivers and canals. Heavy cargo such as stones and steel is still transported by barge. In addition, the Dutch are passionate about water sports and all kinds of crafts will pass us from sailboats to yachts. When arriving in Haarlem, look to your left for a large building with a glass dome. You don't want to be inside; it is a prison.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard.
 Afternoon: After lunch we visit the Frans Hals Museum. A lecture will introduce this famous Dutch painter (1581-1666). Hals was commissioned to paint Amsterdam's civic guards with the understanding that he paint in Amsterdam. However, he became tired of traveling between Haarlem and Amsterdam and, when pressed to finish the painting, missed the deadline and didn't get paid. His contemporary, Pieter Codde, finished the painting, called Meagre Company, a reference to the short men in comparison to guards in other paintings. After a lecture you are set free to independently explore this fine museum. Returning to the barge, we stop at the statue of Koster, who, according to the Dutch, was the inventor of printing.
 Dinner: Dinner aboard the barge.
Accommodations: Allure
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Flower Auction House
(Monday, May 5)
 Breakfast: Breakfast aboard the barge.
 Morning: This morning we bus to Aalsmeer, to the largest flower auction in The Netherlands. Here we take a field trip through acres of flowers and plants. We will also watch the bidding as buyers from all over Europe compete with one another. Soon afterwards, the trucks leave for the distributors, and some flowers head for the airport on their way to the USA. The next day they may be for sale in your flower shop. Our journey continues to Cruquius, a former steam pumping station used to drain the area around Amsterdam which was threatened with flooding. After lunch we bus to Leiden, Rembrandt's birthplace and, appropriately, our home for the night.
 Lunch: Free to sample local cuisine.
 Afternoon: You are free for independent exploration of Leiden this afternoon.
 Dinner: Dinner aboard the barge.
Accommodations: Allure
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Gallery Prins Willem V/Delft Porcelain Works
(Tuesday, May 6)
 Breakfast: Breakfast aboard the barge.
 Morning: Our morning starts with a visit to the Gallery Prins Willem V. Accompanied by a docent, we marvel at the collection of Old Masters.
 Lunch: Lunch on barge.
 Afternoon: We barge to Delft and visit The Porceleyne Fles, the oldest surviving porcelain factory in The Netherlands. Here we enjoy a lecture and field trip before heading back to our floating hotel.
 Dinner: Dinner aboard the barge.
Accommodations: Allure
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Pilgrim Church/ Boijmans Museum
(Wednesday, May 7)
 Breakfast: Breakfast aboard the barge.
 Morning: We barge this morning to Rotterdam and walk to a church where the pilgrims said their last prayers before sailing for England where they boarded the Mayflower for the United States. A lecture on this important part of our history will surely captivate you.
 Lunch: Aboard the barge.
 Afternoon: After lunch we attend a lecture on the different schools of painting. Then we explore the Boijmans Museum with its fine collection of Old Masters (Van Eyck, Fabricius, J. Bosch) with a lecture and field trip. Afterwards we continue to Gouda, our home for the night.
 Dinner: Dinner aboard the barge.
Accommodations: Allure
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Catharina Gasthuis/ St. John's Church
(Thursday, May 8)
 Breakfast: Breakfast aboard the barge.
 Morning: In Gouda we visit the Catharina Gasthuis. The museum exhibits altar panels, painted in the Golden Age, by Dirck Barendsz, Antonie Blocklandt, Pieter Pourdus and Jan Steen. Across from the museum is the St. John's Church where we attend a lecture on the famous old windows with biblical scenes. You may want to consider buying some Gouda cheese, delicious and the real thing.
 Lunch: Lunch onboard.
 Afternoon: Relax on deck as we barge towards Amsterdam. Weather-permitting, you'll enjoy the ever-changing scenery from a deck chair. We will moor in Oude Wetering.
 Dinner: Dinner aboard the barge.
Accommodations: Allure
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Independent Exploration
(Friday, May 9)
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: An early departure brings our barge back to where it all started one week ago, Amsterdam, or Mokum as the Dutch call it. Your program leader will lead the group to the center of Amsterdam to Rembrandt Square, to the flower market and finally the beguinage.
 Lunch: Free to explore local restaurants.
 Afternoon: This afternoon you'll have time to visit a museum or see the Anne Frank House. Amsterdam has many terraces where you can watch the locals (and tourists) go about their business while you enjoy a Heineken or a cup of coffee.
 Dinner: Enjoy your farewell dinner on the barge.
Accommodations: Allure
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 10: Departure
(Saturday, May 10)
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: Transfer to the airport for departure. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please be in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network, where you can share memories, pictures, and comments. Best wishes for all your journeys!
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Author: Walter S. Gibson

Description: A volume in the excellent "World of Art" series, Gibson's book dispels the myth of Bruegel the simpleton artist and replaces it with a portrait of a man who understood the needs of his patrons. With many black-and-white and color reproductions of the paintings.

Culture Smart! Belgium

Author: Mandy Macdonald

Description: A concise, well-illustrated and practical guide to local customs, etiquette and culture.

Eyewitness Guide Amsterdam

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: A wonderful guide to Amsterdam, filled with detailed drawings, photographs and thumbnail sketches.

Flemish Art and Architecture 1585-1700

Author: Hans Vlieghe

Description: A lavishly illustrated overview of the art of the southern Netherlands from 1585-1700.

Girl With a Pearl Earring

Author: Tracy Chevalier

Description: Chevalier's richly drawn novel imagines the story behind Vermeer's mysterious portrait of a turbaned girl with a pearl earring.

Girl in Hyacinth Blue

Author: Susan Vreeland

Description: This finely-crafted novel tells the story of the girl in an imagined, undiscovered portrait by Vermeer. Created in the 17th century, the painting passes through a number of people's hands, providing a series of tales that reflect the history and character of Holland and Europe through the years.

Master of Shadows, The Secret Diplomatic Career of the Painter Peter Paul Rubens

Author: Mark Lamster

Description: Ranging from his home in Antwerp to London, Madrid, Paris and Rome, Lamster uncovers the gripping tale behind one of the world’s most famous painters and his double life as a secret agent, diplomat and political operative in 17th century Europe.

Niccolo Rising

Author: Dorothy Dunnett

Description: From the reigning queen of historical fiction comes this fast-paced, thoroughly-researched novel of ambition and worldly goods in 15th-century Bruges. This is the first volume in her House of Niccolo series.

Painting and the Market in Early Modern Antwerp

Author: Elizabeth Honig

Description: An insightful, illustrated study of the transformation of Flemish society.

Rembrandt, Master of the Portrait

Author: Pascal Bonafoux

Description: With over 200 illustrations, this pocket-size encyclopedia traces the life and career of artist Rembrandt von Rijn. It offers insight into his influence on the art of the portrait -- an illuminating companion for any visit to Amsterdam and its museums.


Author: Anita Shreve

Description: Shreve adeptly explores the themes of love and loss in her WWII story of a married Belgian woman who falls in love with the British pilot she is sheltering as part of the underground resistance movement.


Author: Kristin Lohse Belkin

Description: Belkin chronicles the 17th century artist Peter Paul Rubens from his early family life to his influential interactions with the Italian Renaissance masters and finally to Antwerp, where he rose to fame as a renowned painter and diplomat to the royal courts of Europe.

The Undutchables

Author: Colin White

Description: A laugh-out-loud, irreverent guide to Dutch character and habits, including how to drink coffee and why you shouldn't even think about haggling over prices.

Tulip Fever

Author: Deborah Moggach

Description: In this surprise bestseller, set in 1630s Amsterdam, a man contracts the talented painter Jan Van Loos to paint a portrait of him and his beautiful wife, Sophia. A vivid drama unfolds as a mutual attraction develops between Van Loos and Sophia.


Author: Mike Dash

Description: The story of the world's most coveted flower and the extraordinary passion it aroused, this vivid history traces the story of the tulip from its origins on the Turkish steppes to status as an absurdly desired object in Europe and its key role in the financial follies of 17th-century Holland.

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