DAY 1: LIEGE
Passengers are welcome to board our ship in Liege starting at 6:00 p.m. After you’ve comfortably settled in your cabin, we’ll introduce our crew during our welcome cocktail party. We’ll have dinner together on board, accompanied by the tasting of several beers with some explanatory notes by our guest speaker.
DAY 2: LIEGE - HASSELT
After breakfast, join us for a visit to the Val-Dieu Abbey. This abbey is the only Belgian abbey that survived the French Revolution. Today, it is occupied by the Christian Community of Val-Dieu, and is linked to the Cistercian Order, and in particular to the abbey of Lérins. Historically, the Cistercian orders were known to be talented brewers, so next we’ll visit the Val-Dieu Brewery where you will be able to learn how the various products are made. The three flagship beers of the Val-Dieu Brewery - the blond, brown and triple - are all brewed with the greatest care and attention.
For centuries, the monks studied yeasts and fermentation. They turned brewing into a science, creating special recipes which were more and more sophisticated. Today, beers brewed in Val-Dieu are inspired from the monks’ original recipes, loyal to the tradition of beer refermentation in the bottle.We will return to the boat for lunch around 1:00 p.m., and our ship will begin its cruise to Hasselt. We will cruise along the Albert Canal, a canal some 80.5 miles long that connects Liège to Antwerp. Tonight’s evening meal will be beer based. After dinner, enjoy the entertainment and music on board.
DAY 3: HASSELT - ANTWERP
After our buffet breakfast, set off by coach on a visit to one of the top Belgian breweries: the Wilderen Brewery. Nowhere else in Europe will you find a 19th century distillery/brewery in such well-preserved condition. The Wilderen Brewery has a history dating as far back as 1642. Wilderen was an economic production unit that was self-sufficient, meeting its own needs. With the timber from the trees, the barn was constructed; clay was used for the walls of the farmhouse; and sheep and cattle provided milk, wool and leather.
The very place where today we see the modern brewery is where the cowsheds were once located. During its restoration, the ancient facades of the building were shored up and completely renovated. This contemporary architectural project provides a delightful transition between the monument of the former distillery and the modern building of the brewery.
Next, we’ll have a visit to Ter Dolen Castle: a magnificent estate with a 16th century castle, an ultra-modern brewery, and a cozy pub with a wonderful heated terrace.
After the abbots of Sint-Truiden and then ex-Prime Minister Duvieusart left Ter Dolen castle, it reopened to the public for visits—and so the worldwide success story of this abbey’s beer began. The most recent beer, the Ter Dolen Kriek, is not only unique thanks to its impeccable and irresistible taste, but it is also unique in the world as a cherry abbey beer.
We will return to the boat for lunch around 1:30 p.m. We’ll begin to cruise to Antwerp and arrive in the evening. After dinner, enjoy a free evening in Antwerp.
DAY 4: ANTWERP - GHENT
After breakfast, there will be a walking tour of the center of Antwerp. We’ll first visit Het Steen (previously known as Antwerpen Burcht), overlooking the Scheldt, and built in the 13th century. It is the oldest building in Antwerp. We’ll continue on a discovery tour of the old town, where you will see the Butchers’ Hall, or Vleeshuis, the Grand’ Place with its magnificent City Hall mixing Renaissance and Gothic styles and also admire the famous statue of Silvius Brabo, who according to legend, liberated the town from the clutches of the giant Druon Antigoon. Then you will arrive in front of the impressive gothic Cathedral of Our Lady that took almost 200 years to complete. You’ll now have some free time to stroll around the streets of Antwerp.
We’ll return on board around 2.00 p.m. for lunch and a tasting of some regional beers. We’ll then begin cruising to Ghent, arriving in the evening. After dinner, enjoy the entertainment and music on board.
DAY 5: GHENT - BRUSSELS
After breakfast, we’ll set off on a “medieval” visit in a glass-covered boat along the canals of Ghent. At the end of the tour, we will walk down the Grote Huidevettershoek to visit the famous “Gruut” Brewery. The Gruut Brewery is situated in the heart of Ghent and combines modern technology with ancient brewing traditions dating from the Middle Ages. Gruut beer is thought to be particularly healthy, as it uses a mix of spices—known as gruut— instead of traditional hops. Right now, Gruut exports to the USA, but as people look more and more to their health, this kind of beer could become very wide spread throughout the world. After our morning visit, we'll return on board for lunch.
In the afternoon, we’ll set off by coach and head for the town center. Ghent is the historic capital of Flanders and also the birthplace of Charles V. It prospered both financially and culturally during the 14th and 15th centuries. Ghent has managed to retain some significant architectural heritage from that era.
You will also have the opportunity to visit Saint Bavo Cathedral, where you can admire the famous “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” altarpiece. In the square near the Cathedral, you will also find the famous Belfry of Ghent with the adjoining Cloth Hall. Next, you will walk along the Graslei and Korenlei to the Castle of the Count (Gravensteen), dating from 1180, and which has had many different military, administrative and legal functions through the years.
After the visit, take advantage of some free time before rejoining the coach and heading back to the ship. We’ll begin to cruise during the evening (around 6:30 p.m.).
DAY 6: BRUSSELS
Our ship will arrive in Brussels around 7:00 a.m. After breakfast, we’ll set off by coach to the city center. The city of Brussels was founded in 979 and has a rich and eventful history, as it was under the control of the Spanish, Dutch, Austrians and French before the Belgian people declared independence and chose Brussels for their capital in 1830. We will stop on the Grand’ Place with its majestic gothic-style Town Hall dating from the 14th century and visit the Brewers Museum.