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Aerial view of the Scheldt river, Belgium

Scenic Cruising Scheldt River

The Scheldt—or Schelde—River begins in the north of France and flows for 350 kilometers (220 miles) through western Belgium and the southwestern Netherlands before pouring into the North Sea at Vlissingen.  An integral part of the Dutch and Belgian network of waterways, its myriad branch canals and tributaries connect with the basins of the Rhine, Meuse and Seine rivers, and serve industrial areas around Brussels, Liège, Lille and Dunkirk. The river’s busiest section lies between the charming Belgian cities of Vlissingen and Antwerp, the latter of which hosts one of the largest ports in Europe. But the section of the river that flows north of Antwerp is one of its most unique, passing through a scenic array of mudflats and protected nature reserves like the Drowned Land of Saeftinghe (Verdronken Land van Saeftinghe), which over the centuries have attracted abundant birdlife and unique plant life. As the river winds its way to the North Sea, ship passengers can also witness historical sites like the medieval Fort Lillo and the historic city of Vlissingen, known to many in the English language as Flushing.