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KERSTIN RHEINLANDER, a Personal Travel Manager based in Sinnamon Park in Queensland, reviews her eight-day Dutch Waterways cruise with Tauck aboard the MS Inspire.

THIS WAS my first river cruise and from the moment I stepped aboard I became aware that Tauck really knew how to impress their guests.

They provide a selection of unique experiences and opportunities for exclusive access outside of normal visiting hours. These were some of my favourites:

Sunrise sail

A fantastic, hands-on experience that took me back to my time living on a yacht as a cook and a deckhand.

The day started with a perfect sunrise and only a little wind, which picked up as we headed into the open Ijsselmeer (Dutch watercourse).

There is no better way to start the day than by getting some exercise and fresh sea air while pulling on the ropes to set the sails. While other guests were enjoying their breakfast below deck, I was taking in the full experience.

The ship was a historic vessel, lovingly restored by the captain as his own passion project. Along with some of the traditions of the region, he now shares his love for this kind of ship with visiting guests like us.

Rotterdam walking tour

I am a foodie at heart, so the option to explore Rotterdam on foot and savour local dishes was an easy choice.

Walking through the streets of Rotterdam was a perfect way to not only learn about the city’s Second World War history but also taste typical Dutch delicacies.

First up were Poffertjes: freshly made little pancakes with coffee, followed by famous, melt-in-your-mouth Dutch cheese, and then pickled herring (an acquired taste!).

We rounded off the visit with a craft beer tasting from sustainable brewers, combined with beer fritters.

My favourite place by far was the food hall/apartment block – what a clever idea to combine living and dining under one roof. It looked like heaven to me and I would happily move in right away.

Tour of The Hague

Driving through the streets, past embassies and government buildings, the significance of this city became very real to me. It’s the seat of the International Court of Justice and also the heart of the Netherlands, where the Dutch parliament is situated and the royal family lives.

While the guided bus tour through the city was very entertaining and insightful, the highlight was the visit to Mauritshuis art museum: home to the famous Girl with the Pearl Earring portrait and The Goldfinch, considered the most expensive painting in the world by square inch.

The gallery was opened exclusively, after-hours, for our group: a very special treat for me as a former art major and dabbling artist. There were no crowds, and we had ample time to view the paintings: a truly priceless experience.

Early access to the Floriade

The Floriade exhibition only happens every 10 years and this one had been delayed a further two years due to COVID. It was well worth getting up early to explore without the usual crowds: a serene way to spend the morning.

Due to the time of year, the flowers were in their final bloom – more dahlias and no tulips – but it was still so inspiring to see so many creative ideas by the exhibitors from various countries to embrace sustainable living.

My all-time favourite part of the Floriade was the greenhouse and in particular the orchid display: simply wow!

The memories I created on this trip will last a lifetime – simply unforgettable and highly recommended.