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The Old Masters: Art Treasures of Holland by River

Program Number: 19504RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/16/2014 - 10/25/2014; 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; Barge 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
Oude Wetering, 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 Fiep, formerly known as the Anna Cornelia, was built in 1912 as a cargo ship. She was converted into a passenger vessel in 2001 and underwent a total renovation in 2013. There are two sundecks with awnings, tables and chairs, as well as a sitting lounge and dining area. The ten twin-bedded and two single cabins are all located on the lower deck of the barge.
  Contact info: No street address available as
the barge continually moves,   Netherlands
phone: +31 06 51552268
  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 Fiep 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, October 16)
 Depart From: Overnight flight from U.S.

Day 2: Arrive in Amsterdam / Transfer to Zaanse Schans / Transfer to Conscious Hotel Museum Square / Welcome Dinner
(Friday, October 17)
 Arrive To: Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.
 Morning: Transfer to the picturesque village of Zaanse Schans just outside Amsterdam. Led by a local historian, we will visit a "klompenmaker" and observe the art of wooden shoe production.
 Lunch: Enjoy an authentic taste of the Netherlands at a village restaurant located in an 18th-century grain barn. The restaurant specializes in Dutch-style pancakes, savory or sweet treats can measure almost a foot in diameter, often eaten as a main course.
 Afternoon: We proceed to Amsterdam by motorcoach and check into our hotel.

Orientation: The Group Leader will greet you with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date daily program schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have.

Please be aware that indicated times are approximate and that program activities and schedules could change due to local circumstances such as weather, traffic conditions, etc. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

During free time, the Group Leader will often be available to guide informal excursions, activities, or meals not included in the program. You are welcome to join if you wish, with associated costs (if any) on your own, or explore independently.
 Dinner: For our welcome dinner at a restaurant in Amsterdam, enjoy an authentic rijsttafel (rice table), a bountiful assortment of tasty dishes served with rice. The rijsttafel came out of the colonial era in the Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia), based on the traditional Nasi Padang feast. Your meal includes ice-water; other beverages available for purchase.
 Evening: At leisure. The evening is free to continue becoming acquainted with your fellow participants or set out exploring on your own. Get a good night's sleep for the full day tomorrow.
Accommodations: Conscious Hotel Museum Square
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Transfer to Kröller-Müller Museum / Transfer to Barge in Amsterdam
(Saturday, October 18)

Note: Please note that the barge does not move at night and only motors during the day.

 Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, choose from a buffet with meats, cheeses, pancakes, eggs, yogurts, cereals, breads, juices, and hot beverages.
 Morning: After hotel check-out, everyone brings their luggage to the lobby and staff will load the motorcoach. We then embark on a field trip to the remarkable Kröller-Müller Museum. This magnificent art museum is home to the world’s second-largest collection of van Gogh paintings as well as works by other artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. Situated in a national park with woodlands, heath, and plains, the museum is a testament to one of Europe’s most significant art patrons, Helene Kröller-Müller (1869-1939), who collected more than 11,000 art objects that formed the core of the institution bearing her name. The museum has continued to grow and today has one of the largest sculpture gardens in Europe.
 Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the food of your choice. The museum’s cafeteria offers sandwiches, salads, soups, hot and cold beverages.
 Afternoon: We return to Amsterdam and board the barge that will be our home for the next seven nights. You will have some time to settle in to your cabin before meeting the crew during the captain's safety orientation.
 Dinner: This evening, and for other dinners aboard the barge, we will have plated three-course meals featuring tasty local cuisine: appetizer, entrée, and dessert plus water; other beverages available for purchase (that can be charged to your tab and settled prior to departure with cash payment in Euros on the last night aboard).
 Evening: At leisure. Your evenings are free to spend time with new Road Scholar friends, relax, or go exploring on your own.
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: Barge to Haarlem / Frans Hals Museum / Coster Statue
(Sunday, October 19)
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge, the breakfast buffet will offer a changing hot item each day as well as meats, cheeses, eggs, yogurts, cereals, breads, juices, and hot beverages.
 Morning: While barging to Haarlem, you will see locks, bridges and lots of traffic on rivers and canals. The Dutch are passionate about the water and all kinds of crafts will pass us from sailboats to yachts. Heavy cargoes such as stone and steel are still transported by barge. When arriving in Haarlem, look to your left for a large building with a glass dome. It’s a prison! The panoptic design was originally conceived by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham in 1785, allowing one prison guard to observe any of the inmates without them knowing.
 Lunch: Aboard the barge, light lunches will typically be soup and salad or sandwich.
 Afternoon: Haarlem dates back to before the medieval era and was granted city status in 1245. One of its cultural jewels is the Frans Hals Museum, in an impressive building that was once an Oude Mannenhuis (old men's house). Frans Hals (1581-1666) was the most famous painter of the 17th century “Golden Age” when Haarlem was a prosperous and powerful center of culture and the arts. He specialized in portraits -- individuals and groups -- depicting people from all walks of life.

An expert lecture will introduce this great Dutch artist. After the presentation, you will have free time to continue exploring this fine museum on your own.

On our way back to the barge, we will stop at the statue of Laurens Janszoon Coster, who, who is said to have discovered printing with movable type before Gutenberg.
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Transfer to Aalsmeer Flower Auction House / Cruquius Museum / Transfer to Leiden
(Monday, October 20)
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: We board the motorcoach for a field trip to Aalsmeer and the largest flower auction in the Netherlands. Watch European traders bid against the clock for more than 20 million of the best blooms. After the auction concludes, flowers are transported by truck to the nearby airport for worldwide distribution. Some of the flowers you see today will be on sale at florists in your hometown tomorrow.

Our journey continues to the Cruquius Museum, where a docent will present the history of this former steam-powered pumping station, operational from 1850-1933. Learn about the technology used to drain the area around Amsterdam that was threatened with flooding in the past.
 Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the food of your choice. Theehuis Cruquius offers sandwiches, salads, soups, hot and cold beverages.
 Afternoon: Back aboard the motorcoach, we travel to Leiden, Rembrandt's birthplace. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions, give directions and will also lead an informal excursion or activity you are welcome to join at your cost (if any).
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
 Evening: Enjoy a leisurely walk around Leiden.
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Barge to Delft / Delft Porcelain Works / Transfer to Mauritshuis / Transfer to Delft
(Tuesday, October 21)
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: We barge to Delft, where we will disembark and visit the Porceleyne Fles, the oldest surviving porcelain factory in the Netherlands, producing Delftware since 1653. After an expert lecture, we will explore the factory before returning to our floating home for lunch.
 Lunch: Aboard the barge.
 Afternoon: We disembark after lunch and take a motorcoach to The Hague, seat of Dutch government and the International Court of Justice. Here we will explore the Mauritshuis. Accompanied by a docent, marvel at works by Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Steen, Paulus Potter, Frans Hals, Hans Holbein the Younger and more. After our visit, we return to the barge in Delft by motorcoach.
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
 Evening: Join the Group Leader for a walk downtown to admire the magnificent Renaissance architecture of the Delft City Hall.
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Barge to Rotterdam / Rotterdam Pilgrim's Church / Dutch Painting Lecture / Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum / Transfer to Gouda
(Wednesday, October 22)
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: We barge this morning to Rotterdam, where we disembark and walk to the Pilgrim Fathers’ Church. It was here in 1620 that the Pilgrims said their last prayers before sailing for England, where they boarded the “Mayflower” to the New World. During a presentation, learn little known facts about these events that led to our celebration of Thanksgiving before walking back to the barge.

To set the stage for our afternoon field trip, an art historian will present a lecture on board to familiarize you with the various schools of Dutch painting from early Renaissance to Baroque, including the Old Masters.
 Lunch: Aboard the barge.
 Afternoon: Boarding the motorcoach after lunch, we embark on our field trip to the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum that houses a diverse collection of art ranging from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. A knowledgeable docent will discuss the museum’s masterpieces by Dutch and European artists.

After the field trip, we transfer via motorcoach to the barge that will be docked in Gouda for the night.
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
 Evening: Join the Group Leader for a walk to the 15th-century Market Square and view the Old City Hall, one of the oldest Gothic municipal buildings in the Netherlands.
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Sint Janskerk / Museum Gouda / Cheese Shop / Barge to Oude Wetering
(Thursday, October 23)
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: Our field trip this morning is to Sint Janskerk (St. John's Church), a treasure of the late Gothic, where a local expert will provide background on the famous Goudse Glazen -- Gouda stained glass – 71 panels depicting Biblical and historical scenes, some dating back to the 16th century.

Our exploration continues at the "Catharina Gasthuis" that once sheltered the sick and homeless, also serving as chapel and library. It is now the home of Museum Gouda. Among its exceptional holdings are altar pieces from the "Golden Age" painted by Dirck Barendsz, Antonie Blocklandt, Pieter Pourdus, and Jan Steen.

Having sated our quest for knowledge, we walk to a cheese shop to sample the renowned local cheese that takes its name from the city.
 Lunch: Aboard the barge.
 Afternoon: Relax as we barge towards the village of Vianen. Weather-permitting, enjoy ever-changing scenes from the deck. We will moor in Oude Wetering for the night.
 Dinner: Aboard the barge.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Barge to Amsterdam / Amsterdam Independent Exploration
(Friday, October 24)
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge.
 Morning: An early departure from the village brings our barge back to where it all started one week ago, Amsterdam, or as the Dutch call it, Mokum. Accompany your Group Leader to the center of Amsterdam to view Rembrandt Square, the Bloemenmarkt (flower market) and finally the Begijnhof (Béguinage).This tranquil courtyard dates back to the 14th century, when it was built for the Béguines, pious women who chose to live like nuns but without taking formal vows.

From there, embark on your own independent exploration. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.
 Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the food and cuisine of your choice. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You may also join the Group Leader at your own cost if you like.
 Afternoon: Free Afternoon. Take this opportunity for independent exploration in Amsterdam to do what interests you most. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. If you haven’t already been there, venture to the Anne Frank House or the Rijksmuseum. If you want to relax, seek out one of the local cafés to sip a Heineken or cup of coffee while watching the locals.
 Dinner: Recap your adventures and share your favorite memories with your fellow participants tonight at our farewell dinner aboard the barge. Get a good night's sleep and prepare for departure in the morning.
Accommodations: Fiep
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 10: Program Concludes / Departures
(Saturday, October 25)
 Breakfast: Aboard the barge. This concludes our program.
 Morning: Transfers to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport for onward travel.

We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you return on more 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

Amsterdam, A History of the World's Most Liberal City

Author: Russell Shorto

Description: Russell Shorto opens this delightful ode to an adopted city with his daily journey, by bike of course, through his neighborhood to drop off his toddler son. He spins a tale of a diverse city wrestled collectively from the sea, its coffee shops, canals, personalities and politics, with panache.


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

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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.

My Favorite Plant, Writers and Gardeners on the Plants They Love

Author: Jamaica Kincaid (Editor)

Description: An anthology of essays on plants and gardening from contemporary authors as well as luminaries of the past. This handsome, little book features selections by (among many others) D.H. Lawrence and William Carlos Williams.

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 Black Tulip

Author: Alexandre Dumas

Description: A gripping classic about love and adventure and tulips. In 17th-century Holland, Cornelius von Baerle is falsely accused and jailed. He fights for his freedom with the aid of his jailer's beautiful daughter.

The Coffee Trader, A Novel

Author: David Liss

Description: An entertaining, suspenseful work of historical fiction set in Amsterdam. It's 1659 and in the new, capricious world of stocks and investment, a desperate Portuguese-Jewish trader partners with a Dutchman. Their idea: import the first shipment of coffee to the country. What follows is a wild tale of ruthlessness, greed and fortune.

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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