In April this year, we were invited to the inaugural sailing of The A, the second U by Uniworld river cruise ship that was given a cool black coating. U by Uniworld launched last year and the inaugural sailing of The A was part of the 8-day Rolling on the Rhine itinerary where we cruised from Amsterdam to Frankfurt.
We headed off to Amsterdam after getting pampered at The Milestone Hotel in London for a few nights and chatting with Lily James and Glen Powell in Guernsey during the premiere of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
We embarked on The A and spent one night in Amsterdam before sailing off to Haarlem for the day where we went on our first U Time optional excursion – ‘Smell the Flowers’. Smell the Flowers (priced at €59) brought us to The Keukenhof, the garden of Europe in Lisse. It was just one of the many add-on excursions U by Uniworld offers to guests. In Amsterdam the other U Time excursions included Feel the Rush (€79), Red Light Special walking night excursion (€59), A Mixologist’s Dream (€45) and Amsterdam Six Senses walking food tour (€99). You can pick your U Time optional excursions but register early with the U Host at the Front Desk to secure your slot. Many of these tours are limited to a small group of people.
A coach picked us up from where The A had docked at noon and got us to The Keukenhof Holland, a popular destination amongst travellers visiting Holland.
We too were looking forward to visiting the Tulip gardens so that we could literally smell the flowers as well as to get video footage. There was a lot of time for us to slowly explore since we only needed to get back to the ship by 5 pm. Entry to the Keukenhof is ticketed at 18 Euros. This is included in the cruise’s add-on U Time excursion.
The Keukenhof is known mainly for its large collection of tulips. It showcases over seven million bulbs in spring with 800 varieties of tulips. The Keukenhof is also home to the world’s largest lily show during the last ten days of the opening season and a collection of other fauna and flora in the 32-hectare gardens. The Oranje Nassau Pavillion showcased different cut flower shows; the Beatrix Pavillion showcased Orchid and Anthuriums while the Willem-Alexander Pavillion showcased tulips, lilies as well as different flowers and plants.
The garden is opened during Spring from March to May every year. You won’t be able to visit the gardens for the rest of this year, but you can start planning for next year between 21 March and 19 May 2019 where the theme will be Flower Power, the strength of flowers.
This year was a successful season for The Keukenhof with 1.4 million visitors from 100 countries to the park. More young people have visited with the average age decreased from 48 to 46 due to the increasing number of families with children and groups of people in their 20s and 30s.
Many sit around on the grass to enjoy the fresh air and the sun. Perfect for a picnic or just to get a tan. Bring a small umbrella just in case it rains. Could be pretty romantic if you ignore the other visitors.
We also spotted a couple of Miffy figurines and a shop that sold Miffy souvenirs. Miffy is a small female rabbit drawn by Dutch artist Dick Bruna.
You could take photos with beautifully dressed staff or a heart-shaped backdrop covered with flowers at Cupid’s Garden.
The Delft Blue garden featured Holland, water, windmills and lots of Delft blue pottery. Check out the iconic Delft houses painted in shades of blue and white.
You can also check out the highlights of the U by Uniworld Rolling on the Rhine cruise. We were commissioned by Canon to introduce the Canon EOS M50 lightweight camera which we used to film parts of our journey.