IST Cultural Tours Sails the Waterways, Cycles Countryside

Reed Travel Features

NEW YORK -- IST Cultural Tours invites travelers to see Belgium from a slightly different perspective, its waterways.

A new nine-night program features a six-night barge cruise aboard the Rembrandt.

The itinerary begins and ends in Brussels, where participants spend a few days exploring the city before embarking on the cruise.

Aboard the 17-passenger Rembrandt, guests will find a dining room, salon bar and sun deck.

Each cabin offers all the necessities and has a private bath and shower.

A captain's reception and lunch kick off the cruise, and the first stop is the medieval town of Bruges.

Here, passengers will take a walking tour of the city and visit some of its attractions.

The following day, the Rembrandt calls at Oudenarde, which is known for its tapestries, and visit the Gothic city hall there.

Passengers then can cycle along the tow paths into the countryside.

From Oudenarde, the barge passes through three locks on its way to Tournai, once the seat of the empire of the Franks.

The cathedral of Notre- Dame, with its five towers, dominates the city. The building was started in 1110 and completed 60 years later.

The following day, the vessel cruises along the Canal Nimy Balton Peronnes and docks in a valley below the city of Mons.

From there, the trip takes passengers to the Strepy ship elevator, which was built in the late 1800s and lifts craft 240 feet up and over the hills.

The final day of the journey is spent in Waterloo, where participants are taken to the battlefield where Napoleon was defeated by the British and Prussian armies on June 18, 1815.

In the evening, travelers take part in a gala farewell dinner on board.

Departure dates are scheduled through November.

The land-only cost starts at $1,450 per person, double, and includes transfers, accommodations, the cruise, sightseeing and a guide, all meals and drinks aboard the Rembrandt, shore excursions and the use of bicycles.

The firm also offers a nine-night plan combining Holland and Belgium and features a six-night barge cruise aboard the Vincent van Gogh.

The trip starts in Amsterdam and ports of call include Delft, Rotterdam and Westerschelde in the Netherlands and Ghent and Bruges in Belgium.

The tour is priced from $1,895 per person, double, land only.

For more information or to book, contact IST Cultural Tours at (800) 833-2111; fax (212) 594-6953.

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