3 Things To Consider When Booking A Tulip Time Cruise
We may still be in January but if you’re thinking of taking a springtime river cruise through the Netherlands, now is probably the best time to book. Not only will you be able to take advantage of the offers cruise lines usually run at the turn of the year, but you’ll also have plenty of time to plan exactly what you want to do on your holiday.
Spring is the best time of year to sail through the Belgian and Dutch Waterways, as this is when the banks of the rivers are covered in swathes of colour courtesy of the beautiful tulips. These vibrant views make cruises in this part of Europe very popular – yet another reason to book early. However, before you do, here are a few things to consider.
When To Travel?
It’s very difficult to predict exactly when the tulips will bloom and, therefore, coinciding your river cruise with the best landscapes is not as straightforward as you may think. It all depends on just how harsh the winter is. The colder the temperatures, the later the tulips are likely to bloom. We could see a situation like 2018 when the flowers suddenly burst from their buds at the same time following a late cold snap. Or, it could happen similar to 2014 when a warm winter meant that blooming occurred at the start of April.
In general, the tulips could make their appearance any time between late March and the end of May. This means that your best bet is to aim for the end of April/beginning of May for the optimal chance of arriving at the right time. So far, the winter in the UK hasn’t been too cruel, but parts of Europe have experienced much lower temperatures. One thing that’s for sure, when the tulips jump into life, this website will be one of the first to break the news.
Other dates to look out for include 1st April 2019, when Amsterdam will host its annual Tulip Festival, and 13th April 2019, when the Keukenhof Flower Parade will take place at Keukenhof Gardens (the world famous flower park that you will visit during your cruise). The Tulip Festival blankets the capital in red, orange, yellow and purple, as beautiful tulips are displayed in 85 different locations around the city.
If you’re not too concerned about prices going up or your preferred river cruise selling out, there’s always the option to wait it out until blooming has been confirmed. Just keep in mind that leaving it late could limit your choice.
How Long For?
As with any river cruise, there are options in terms of how long you would like to sail for. Seven, eight and 10-day itineraries are available, so it depends on how much you would like to see. Most (if not all) of the Tulip Time river cruises will take you to Amsterdam, Keukenhof Gardens, the Kinderdijk Windmills and historic towns such as Hoorn and Veere.
The extra days on the longer itineraries will be used to travel further afield, into Belgium, to ports such as Bruges and Ghent. If you would like to visit these fantastic destinations, it’s a good idea to choose a longer river cruise. These are also likely to offer a more in-depth exploration of the Netherlands, taking you to places not typically on the main route.
Which Cruise Line?
Because these springtime river cruises tend to be so similar in terms of itineraries, it’s more important than ever to find a cruise line that suits you. The main thing to take into account is what is (and what isn’t) included in the price. Companies like Uniworld and Tauck include drinks around the clock, whilst others such as AmaWaterways provide these only at mealtimes. The more inclusive option may sound the most appealing, but opting for mealtime drinks only could be a great way to save a bit of money if you’re not a big drinker.
Similarly, river cruise lines differ in the number of included shore excursions they offer. The GoRiverCruise team will be able to discuss which lines give you more choice in port and which match well with your interests and level of activity – you can call us on 0800 954 0064. One other thing that may sway your decision is whether there are any deals and offers in place when you book. To keep up to date with these, be sure to sign up to our mailing list.