The Netherlands’ road to liberation, from German occupation in 1940 to the total surrender of German forces in 1945, is a story of hope, courage and the triumph of the human spirit in the face of near impossible odds. Follow the footsteps of the allied forces on the Netherlands’ road to liberation
Luxury cruise, fully guided
Our 8-day cruise aboard the beautiful Magnifique IV takes you through some of The Netherlands’ most historically significant sites where you’ll learn about the period leading up to the war and occupation, the battles, the dark years of the occupation, the liberation and the long-lasting consequences of World War II. One of our tour leaders will accompany you for the duration of the trip, and you’ll meet many local experts along the way who will share both the harrowing, and heart-warming, stories of the people whose lives were forever changed by this significant chapter of human history.
Resistance and Liberation
We begin in Amsterdam where you’ll learn how the inhabitants of the city lived through the war and coped under Nazi occupation. At the Anne Frank house, you’ll see first-hand how this now-famous 13 year-old girl lived with her older sister, parents and four other Jews for just over two years up until their capture in 1944.
In Arnhem a local expert will share the story of Operation Market Garden, a brave attempt by allied forces to land thousands of paratroopers inside enemy lines and end the war by taking control of a series of bridges. You’ll visit the National Liberation Museum in Groesbeek, the site where the paratroopers landed on 17th September 1944 and you’ll stop by Overloon’s National War and Resistance Museum where you’ll learn how over 50 million people lost their lives in just five years.
Culture, leisure and local cuisine
However, this cruise is not just about the history of World War II. You will also have an opportunity to unwind and enjoy a little culture, leisure and local cuisine. In Arce you’ll visit the enchanting castle gardens and in Roermond, you’ll wander around the charming city centre. The tour ends in Maastricht, the capital province of Limburg, where you’ll experience the warmth, vibrant energy and hospitality of its lively city centre.
Do you want more information about this cruise? Send us an email with the subject Battlefields Cruise WWII 2020. We will answer your email within five workdays.
Day to day program: Amsterdam – Maastricht
The cruise is carried out in 2 directions depending on the date. Amsterdam – Maastricht/ Maastricht – Amsterdam.
After you set sail on the Magnifique IV, you’ll receive the official welcome by the crew and your tour leader, after which you’ll unpack, settle in and get a short overview of the days to come. Your tour leader will then guide on a walking tour through Amsterdam to visit the Anne Frank house, where you will come to understand exactly why the Soviet writer Ilya Ehrenburg wrote of Anne Frank: “one voice speaks for six million – the voice not of a sage or a poet but of an ordinary little girl.” This will be followed by dinner onboard, the perfect opportunity to share the day’s experiences and get to know your fellow passengers.
Your morning begins with a guided tour of Amsterdam, partly on foot and partly in canal boat, over the course of which your tour guide will take you to the Dutch Resistance Museum to step back in time to the 1940s and learn the stories of the Dutch people who lived during that time. Then you’ll visit the Hollandsche Schouwburg which was originally a theatre that was converted during World War II to a deportation centre and is now a commemoration centre. Lastly, after lunch the Magnifique IV will bring you to Wijk bij Duurstede, a picturesque little town on the Rhine River.
Day three begins with a leisurely breakfast as The Magnifique IV sails toward Wageningen to visit the Hotel “de Wereld” where Canadian General Charles Foulkes and German Commander-in-Chief Johannes Blaskowitz reached an agreement on the capitulation of German forces in the Netherlands on 5th May 1945. The rest of the day will be dedicated to learning the details of Operation Market Garden, one of the largest airborne operations of World War II in which the Allied Forces tried to encircle the heart of Germany’s industry in a bold effort to end the war by Christmas 1944. The book and popular movie “A Bridge Too Far” tells the tragic story of this courageous military manoeuvre. From visiting historic sites such as “Ginkelse Heide” where the 17th battalion of The King’s Own Scottish Borderers landed on 17th September, to touring the underground airborne experience at the Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek and the British War Cemetary, where 1,754 Allied Troops are buried, you will come away from this day with a newfound respect for those who gave their lives to end the war. You’ll re-join the ship in the city of Arnhem where a local guide will take you on a walking tour of the historic John Frost bridge, named after the heroic British Major-General who defended the bridge during the Battle of Arnhem.
Another relaxed breakfast aboard the ship as you sail through a lush river landscape to the city of Nijmegen where a local guide will take you on a tour around the Waal bridge and share some fascinating stories about the battles that took place here. A few steps from the bridge, a brand new information centre about World War II has been built, well worth a visit. From there, a bus will bring you to the National Liberation Museum in Groesbeek where you’ll learn about the economic and political circumstances that lead to the second World War. It also shows the different roles ordinary people were forced to play in order to survive German occupation and goes on to detail the landing of allied forces in Operation Market Garden, the final push into Germany and, ultimately, liberation. Interestingly, the museum also tells the story of the time directly after the war, how the land was revitalised and rebuilt and how a more united Europe was created. You’ll also visit the Canadian War Cemetary near Groesbeek, one of the largest Commonwealth War Cemeteries where many young men who fell in the Rhineland battles in the final months of the war are buried.
After a hearty breakfast, you’ll hop on a bus to visit the largest war museum in the Netherlands, the National War and Resistance Museum in Overloon. Here you will learn not only how more than 50 million people lost their lives in just five years, but also how the resourceful Dutch population managed to survive the restrictions and shortages of oppression. Attention is paid to not only resistance and the nature of the persecution during in the time of occupation, but also how the liberation came to be, with special attention being paid to the Battle at Overloon. You’ll also visit the German War Cemetary Ysselsteyn, which was created in swamp land half an hour from the German border because Dutch towns refused to bury the German dead. The rows of grey crosses here stretch a kilometre deep, it’s one of the world’s largest German war cemeteries and though 32,000 people are buried here, sadly, it doesn’t even represent 0.05% of all the deaths in the Second World War. After that sobering visit, we’ll lighten the mood considerably for the evening with a stroll around the magnificent castle gardens of Arcen.
Yet another relaxed breakfast on board as you enjoy a river cruise over the beautiful river Maas en route to Roermond. A local guide will take you around Roermond and share the story of how this town was caught in the crossfire during the last months of the war when, in August 1944, Hitler strengthened the German line of defence at the western border of Germany. This line ran right through Roermond, and the inhabitants of this town suffered badly as a result. However, nowadays Roermond is a cosy provincial city famed for its rich cultural heritage and known throughout the world as the home of Pierre Cuypers who, having designed both the Rijksmuseum and the Central Station in Amsterdam, is regarded as one of the most important Dutch architects of the 19th century.
The first part of our program on day seven takes place entirely underground! The marl cave in Valkenburg served as a shelter for six days and six nights to roughly 400 people in September 1944, when heavy fighting took place during the liberation Valkenburg. After liberation, the Velvet Cave served as a field hospital for American soldiers, some of whose signatures can still be found on the walls. Your next stop is Margraten, the American Cemetary and Memorial commemorating the 8,301 US soldiers who died when the US 30th infantry division liberated this site on 13th September 1944. In the early afternoon, your bus will bring you to Maastricht. This beautifully preserved city with Roman roots is the perfect place to visit a museum, do some shopping or enjoy the abundance of hotels, restaurants, bars and historical sites at the town’s main square, known as the “Vrijthof”. A farewell dinner will be served onboard the ship.
Fond farewells to the captain, crew, tour guide and new friends you will have made on this epic journey back in time. A final breakfast will be served and disembarkation will take place until 9:30am.
Your floating Hotel
Your floating hotel will be the brand new Magnifique IV. The Magnifique will take a maximum of 38 passengers 10 lovely suites and 8 spacious twin cabins. The ship will be lovingly crafted to delight our guests and the wonderful crew will do their utmost to ensure every expectation is exceeded during the trip. Fresh, local produce is delivered daily to our ships and prepared with great pride by our chefs in the professional restaurant kitchens aboard.
Prices & information
Cabin type for:
Good to know
Transfer between Amsterdam and Maastricht:
There is a good train connection between these two cities. Please visit the following websites for timetables, tickets or more information www.goeuro.co.uk or www.trainline.eu.
Additional options & information
If you want you can participate in some short bike rides. Bicycles will be available.
Click the text for the brochure
This contact form will be forwarded to Cultural Cruises Europe. The touroperator will send you the payment options.