There’s something unbelievably special about cruising around Africa. For many it is a once in a lifetime event.
From the diverse nature of Namibia to the history and culture of South Africa, HAL’s 85-Day Africa Explorer itinerary circles the continent and showcases Africa and the Indian Ocean in such a way that could take years to see by land alone.
Departing Sept. 27, 2014, ms Rotterdam will leave its namesake port, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, to sail clockwise around the continent of Africa, stopping along the way to explore the various points of interest. The entire journey returns as a closed loop to Rotterdam. Those who would like to join the cruise but would like a shorter segment can book portions of the itinerary ranging from 20-83 days.
The 85-day journey begins with a number of European calls. Guests have time to explore cities including Lisbon, Portugal; Malaga, Spain; the rock of Gibraltar; and Athens, Greece, before cruising through Egypt, transiting the Suez canal and officially beginning the African exploration.
The first few weeks of the cruise are eastbound with stops at Muscat, Oman; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where guests can explore the incredible landscape and architecture of the region.
Those looking for paradise will find it when the ship calls at Victoria, Seychelles. The Seychelles is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean of 158 islands located northeast of Madagascar, and Victoria is the capital, located on Mahe Island. Lush vegetation, from the Victoria Botanical Gardens to the market brimming with ripe fruits and vegetables, is the hallmark of Victoria. Explore the narrow streets of the old town or the wide promenades of the modern city center. Or take a short boat ride to Praslin Island, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, to spend a day at the beach. Anse Lazio and Anse Georgette, two beaches on the island, are frequently named among the best beaches in the world!
The leisurely length of the Africa Explorer cruise allows for some extended exploration and multiple overnight calls. There is much to see and do in South Africa, and guests will have a week to explore with overnight calls at Durban and Cape Town, and a day at Port Elizabeth. While in South Africa you can take off on safari at one of the many game reserves, visit Table Mountain for spectacular views and high tea, and take a tour of Robben Island at Cape Town. The Cape Town, Apartheid & Robben Island shore excursion provides historical insight to the social injustices of Cape Town’s past. Tour the city and sample traditional African sorghum beer at a local tavern before heading to Robben Island by ferry. There you’ll visit the cell that housed Nelson Mandela and hear detailed and moving commentary from former political prisoners. Afterwards, reflect on the experience over a glass of wine from one of South Africa’s burgeoning vineyards.
Upon leaving South Africa the journey continues on the western coast of the continent. An overnight call at Walvis Bay, Namibia, enables guests to take tours that showcase the diverse landscape. From Walvis Bay you can go off-roading in the Namib Desert or visit Sandwich Harbour, one of Southern Africa’s richest and unique wetlands, a center for migratory shorebirds, waders and flamingos. Another popular attraction the Dolphin and Seal Safari, a boat ride to the lagoon to see the seals and dolphins splashing in the calm waters.
One guest, EmjayC from Honolulu, Hawaii, took the tour in 2013 and will return to Namibia with HAL in 2014. Said EmjayC of the Dolphin and Seal Safari:
“The raw oysters alone are worth it, but the seal riding on the back of the boat, the flamingos flying overhead, learning about how they farm their famous oysters… it was just wonderful!”
After Namibia you’ll cross the equator — for the second time in a matter of weeks — and call at Tema (Accra), Ghana; Dakar, Senegal; and Ilha de Sanitago and Midelo, both in the Cape Verde Islands, before cruising back towards the Mediterranean.
In the southern Mediterranean you’ll visit the last African country of the voyage, Morocco! Colorful tilework, camels, markets and minarets characterize this colorful northern African nation. At Agadir the Fantasia Show and Camel Ride tour offers true Moroccan hospitality. Singers welcome the guests who then relax over tea in traditional Berber tents where belly dancers sway in rhythm to Andalusian music.
“My husband and I both really enjoyed this excursion, which included a panoramic driving tour, a stop at the hilltop ruins of a fort (Kasbah), and the wonderful Fantasia Horse Show. We were greeted with mint tea and a cookie, then were entertained by a dancers and musicians, including a talented belly dancer, a snake charmer, acrobats, and men on horseback.” — Guest Casinger46:
Just across the narrow strait of Gibraltar, in Southern Spain, Rotterdam then calls at Cadíz where you’ll notice the moorish influences of Northern Africa and then the ship veers back to call at Portugal to end the last week of the journey in the western Mediterranean.
Imagine disembarking in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, after a nearly three-month-long voyage on ms Rotterdam, your home at sea. The expedition must end, eventually, but the stories and memories made will be carried on long after you set foot on shore. These are just some highlights of calls along the way. To see the full 85-day African Explorer itinerary with almost 40 unique ports click here.
What do you most want to see in Africa? Let us know in the comments below!