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Art & Music in the Low Countries

Antwerp, Ghent, Amsterdam, The Hague 7 nights Prices on request

Combine the finest art galleries and museums of Belgium & the Netherlands with a programme of sublime concerts given by the acclaimed Aquinas Trio. During the day Kirker clients can either explore independently or choose to join one of our optional shore excursions in the historic art cities of Amsterdam, Antwerp and Ghent, as well as Rotterdam from where we visit Delft and The Hague. Each evening we will gather in the on-board theatre for a series of exclusive concerts as well as interviews with the musicians and private talks given by art historian Ger van den Munckhof.

The Itinerary - A seven night music cruise

Southampton – North Sea Canal – Amsterdam – Rotterdam (for The Hague and Delft) – Ghent – Antwerp – Southampton

Sailing through the Channel we will pass along the North Sea Canal to Amsterdam where Black Watch will moor overnight and remain for a whole day, allowing time to explore the city’s great museums and galleries. The following evening we sail overnight to Rotterdam where we will have time for optional visits to Delft, made famous by its porcelain and Vermeer’s painting ‘View of Delft’, or The Hague to see the art collection at the Mauritshuis, one of the finest collections of Dutch Masters in the world. Next comes Ghent, which will be celebrating the near-complete restoration of ‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ by the Van Eyck brothers in St Bavo’s Cathedral. Our last port of call will be Antwerp, home of Rubens and one of his finest works, the altarpiece at Antwerp cathedral.






17 March   PM Southampton
18 March Early AM Late PM Cruising North Sea Canal
18 March 17.30   Amsterdam
19 March   18.30 Amsterdam
20 March 07.30 17.00 Rotterdam (for Delft and The Hague)
21 March 08.00 18.00 Ghent
22 March 08.00  18.00  Antwerp
23 March 09.00 16.00 Cruising the Western Scheldt River
24 March Early AM   Southampton


Music & Talks

The Aquinas Piano Trio will give five concerts on board, together with viola player Simon Rowland-Jones. Piano trios by Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Rachmaninov, Saint-Saens and Rowland-Jones will be performed alongside sonatas for violin, cello and piano. See the music programme for full details. Barry Cheeseman will be in conversation with the musicians about their lives in music, and Ger van den Munckhof will give two illustrated talks on Dutch and Flemish art.

Low Countries Cruise Map


Optional Shore Excursions

We have arranged four optional shore excursions, one in each major port of call – and all of which will be accompanied by art expert Ger van den Munckhof. In addition to the private Kirker excursions, Fred. Olsen will also be arranging public tours at every port of call, which are available to all passengers on board, and should be booked with Fred. Olsen directly. We shall send you details of all excursions together with the costs approximately 10 weeks before the departure of the cruise. N.B. If you would like to pre-register for one or more of the Kirker shore excursions please let us know at the time of booking.


One of the world’s greatest art cities, Amsterdam is home to a number of world-class museums and we will visit perhaps the most important two: The Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. At the Van Gogh there are over 200 paintings including ‘Sunflowers’, ‘Almond Blossom’, ‘The Potato Eaters’ and nine self-portraits, as well as a unique collection of drawings and letters. In the afternoon we continue to the magnificent Rijksmuseum, home to the greatest of all 17th century Dutch masterpieces, including ‘The Night Watch’ by Rembrandt as well as works by Vermeer, Jan Steen, Franz Hals and a wonderful sculpture garden dating from 1901.

The Hague & Delft (from Rotterdam)

Just 25 minutes from Rotterdam is The Hague, a charming and attractive city which is little-visited in comparison with Amsterdam but is home to the Dutch Royal Collection of art at the elegant Mauritshuis Museum: here we will see three works by Vermeer including ‘The View of Delft’ from 1660, ‘The Bull’ by Paulus Potter and the portrait by Holbein the Younger of Henry VIII’s falconer, Robert Cheseman. We will then continue to nearby Delft, one of the most delightful cities in The Netherlands, where we will visit the Prinsenhof and the location which inspired Vermeer’s famous landscape in the Mauritshuis.


Our visit to Ghent will begin at St. Bavo’s Cathedral where the Van Eyck brothers’ famous altarpiece ‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ has been impressing visitors since 1432. The lengthy and meticulous restoration of the altarpiece is finally reaching its completion and we will see the various parts of the altarpiece – one part in the Cathedral itself, and the finished rear panels in the Museum of Fine Arts. The latter form part of a major new exhibition dedicated to Jan van Eyck, which also includes a number of important loans from collections around the world.


Antwerp is closely associated with Rubens (1577-1640), who lived in the city and whose artistic legacy is to be found everywhere. We will see his altarpieces at Antwerp Cathedral including the mesmerising and moving ‘Assumption of the Virgin Mary’, and the ornate interiors at the Church of St Carolus Borromeus. We will also visit the Church of St James where he was married in 1630 and buried a decade later, as well as the house where the artist lived between 1610 and his death. Our day in Antwerp ends with a visit to the Mayer van den Bergh Museum.

What's included

...when you travel with Kirker

  • Seven nights' accommodation on board the Black Watch
  • All meals on board
  • Private drinks parties
  • All concerts and talks as described
  • Services of the Kirker Tour Leader

Departure Dates and Prices

Prices range from £1,495 per person for Ocean view cabin to £3,145 per person for a Premier Suite. All meals on board are included, as well as private drinks parties, all concerts, plus exclusive talks and interviews. For full prices and cabin descriptions please call 020 7593 2284 to speak to an expert or view our online brochure here.

Aquinas Piano Trio

The Aquinas Piano Trio


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Simon Roland-Jones

Simon Rowland-Jones

Viola, Composer & Kirker Music Director

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Barry Cheeseman

Barry Cheeseman

Cultural Tours Senior Executive


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Ger van den Munckhof

Ger van den Munckhof

Tour Leader

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Ship Details

Fred. Olsen’s Black Watch has a relaxed, stylish atmosphere that harks back to cruising in a bygone age. She is a comfortable world-class cruise ship where you will feel a warm sense of hospitality from the very first moment you step aboard, with broad teak decks, generous promenades, elegant décor and bright, spacious public areas.

With just 435 cabins, Black Watch has been designed with a generous amount of space for each passenger. The cabins are a good size and most have a sea view (speak to a Kirker expert to discuss your personal requirements). It is always easy to find a quiet corner - and you certainly won’t find yourself having to compete for space with hordes of other passengers. There are a number of dining options and guests may choose from a selection of contrasting bars including the nautically themed Lido Lounge and popular Scottish Piper’s Bar, or you may elect to retreat to the Braemar Lounge or the Observatory. Other on board facilities include two swimming pools, a fitness centre, a health and beauty salon, deck sports, library, indoor games, internet access, casino, cabarets and shows.

Black Watch spent the last month of 2016 undergoing a multi-million pound refurbishment of both public areas and cabins. The ship now has a brighter look to it, notably in the main restaurant, the Glentanar. There’s also a new intimate dining room called the Black Watch Room, which seats just 46 guests. All the cabins and bathrooms have been improved and furniture, curtains and carpets have been replaced. The Marina Theatre, which is central to our music cruises with all the concerts taking place here, remains unchanged.

Music Programme

The music programmes have been carefully created and arranged by violist and composer Simon Rowland-Jones in close association with the musicians and will be hosted by Barry Cheeseman of Kirker Holidays. After many years of experience we have learnt that on a music cruise our clients wish to discover new works as well as enjoy some familiar favourites and we are confident that everyone will find something of interest in each of our concerts.

Although Black Watch carries approximately 700 passengers, Kirker concerts are private and restricted to Kirker guests (we anticipate between 60-90 participants) and will be held in the Marina Theatre, ideal for listening to chamber music. Concerts will take place on most days of the cruise and will be complemented by a number of informative talks and interviews with the musicians, as well as our programme of shore excursions.

17 March: 19.00 - Marina Theatre
Barry Cheeseman and Simon Rowland-Jones will introduce The Aquinas Piano Trio who will play a couple of short pieces after which we will adjourn to the Library on Deck 7 for the welcome drinks party.

18 March: 10.30 - Marina Theatre
The Aquinas Piano Trio
Haydn: Piano Trio in E flat HOBXV:29
Beethoven: Piano Trio in E flat, Op.1 No.1
Mendelssohn: Piano Trio in D minor, Op.49

16.00 - Marina Theatre
Ger van den Munckhof will give this first of two talks. Today’s subject will be ‘The Golden Age: Dutch Art in the 17th century.’

18.30 - Marina Theatre
The musicians will be in conversation with Barry Cheeseman talking about their lives in music.

19 March: 18.30 - Marina Theatre
The Aquinas Piano Trio
Simon Rowland-Jones, viola
Mozart: Piano Quartet in E flat, K493
Rachmaninov: Trio elegiaque No. 1 in G minor
Saint-Saens: Trio No.2 in E minor, Op.92

20 March: 17.00 - Marina Theatre
Ger van den Munckhof will give a talk on Flemish Art to prepare us for our day in Ghent.

There will be a short interval between Ger’s talk and this evening’s concert.

18.30 - Marina Theatre
The Aquinas Piano Trio
Simon Rowland-Jones, viola
Shostakovich: Sonata for cello and piano in D minor, Op.40
Brahms: Sonata for viola and piano in F minor, Op.120 No.1
Franck: Sonata for violin and piano in A major

21 March: 18.30 - Marina Theatre
The Aquinas Piano Trio
Beethoven: String Trio in C minor, Op.9 No.3
Rachmaninov: Chopin Variations Op.22
Prokofiev: Piano Sonata No.7 in B flat, Op.83

22 March: 11.00 - Marina Theatre
The musicians will be sharing some of their favourites music with the audience in our Kirker CD Choice and tell us what the piece they have selected means to them.

18.15 - Marina Theatre
The Aquinas Piano Trio
Simon Rowland-Jones, viola
Schumann: Piano Trio No.3 in G minor Op.110
Rowland-Jones: Piano Trio No. 1 ‘Holkham Beach’
Brahms: Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op.25

19.45 - Library, Deck 7
After the final concert of the Kirker Music Festival at Sea everyone is invited to join the farewell Kirker drinks party.

To make an enquiry please speak to one of our experts on 020 7593 1899, or enquire online

Our expert reservations team regularly travel to a wide range of destinations to explore new cities, visit hotels and to research museums, galleries and restaurants so that we can offer the most up-to-date advice and recommendations.