A cruise to Africa exposes travelers to ancient and recent history, exotic wildlife and incredible topography. It is a continent of life and wonder, and there is no time like now to check it off your travel list!
For a limited time guests can take advantage of Holland America Line’s Exotic Air Savings offer. Residents of the U.S. and Canada can receive up to $1,000 in savings per person on roundtrip air with the purchase of an ocean-view stateroom or above. The Africa Explorer cruise aboard ms Rotterdam visits 21 countries, calling at 38 ports with six overnight stays.
Karen Blixen, author of “Out of Africa” wrote:
“You know you are truly alive when you’re living among lions.”
If time spent living among lions is on your travel bucket list, consider ms Rotterdam’s September 2014 Africa Explorer itinerary. The cruise ranges from 20 to 85 days with departures from Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Southampton, England; and Dubai, U.A.E. Highlights of the cruise include ancient Egyptian sites, a safari in South Africa, the incredible architecture of Dubai, Indian Ocean islands and less-traveled ports of West Africa.
The journey begins at Rotterdam and cruises through the Mediterranean with calls at Gibraltar; Valleta, Malta; and Pireaus, Greece — the port of Athens.
The first African stop is an overnight at Port Said, Egypt, at the northern end of the Suez Canal. Steeped in history, politics and trade, the Suez Canal is a man-made waterway connecting the Mediterranean and Red seas. Opened in 1869, the canal allows water-borne access between Europe and Asia without navigating around the African continent. From Port Said guests can take a day trip to the Giza Pyramids, Sphinx & the Pyramid of Sakkara, or enjoy a day at the port’s Old Town. Ships on a north-south transit enter the Suez Canal at Port Said and travel approximately 119 miles to exit at Port Tawfik at the city of Suez.
Through the Suez Canal the journey continues at Safaga, Egypt — the mighty city on the Upper Nile dedicated to the god Amon-Ra. Rotterdam calls overnight at Safaga, giving guests an opportunity to take a day trip to what many consider the “best open-air museum in the world” — the Valley of Kings and the Valley of Queens and Luxor Temple.
Guests Mike and Pat took the Karnak, Valley of the Kings & Dahabeya Riverboat Lunch tour and said:
“There are not enough superlatives to truly do the sites justice. For those that love to walk the pathways of ancient man, this is awe-inspiring.”
After Safaga the ship takes an Asian detour to Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Dubai, the most populous city in the U.A.E. and the business and cultural center of the region, is an incredible sight. Futuristic architecture and man-made islands seem to bloom from the coast of the Persian gulf. Dubai is a city of contrasts, and you can enjoy the bustle and high-end shopping or quiet reflection at one of the city’s many gardens or mosques. Check out Dubai Highlights for an eclectic mix of historic sites and vibrant cosmopolitan life.
The next stop on the Africa Explorer is Victoria, Seychelles, an island in the Indian Ocean with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and the lowest population of any African nation. A call at Madagascar highlights the unique wildlife and natural beauty of that island and then it’s off to Maputo, Mozambique. Maputo is a a melting pot of several cultures, including Bantu, Portuguese, Arab, Indian and Chinese. Shop at Maputo’s lively Municipal Market, stroll among the botanical gardens and visit the National Art Museum and the elegant old train station designed by Gustave Eiffel, designer of the landmark tower in Paris.
The next leg of the African journey finds ms Rotterdam calling at Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. A three-day stop at Cape Town is a great opportunity to visit a game reserve and take in the beautiful wildlife. Another great option is a visit to the Winelands to sample world-renowned South African vintages, ideally influence by the region’s unique terroir — the combination of geology, geography and and cool coastal climate. Take a boat ride to Robben Island, the political prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated during the Apartheid era. And no visit to Cape Town is complete without a trip up Table Mountain, the city’s most celebrated landmark.
Upon leaving South Africa Rotterdam heads North up Africa’s west coast, calling at Luderitz and Walvis Bay, Namibia; Luanda, Angola; and Tema, Ghana; after crossing the equator for the second time in two months. At Walvis Bay check out Sandwich Harbor. Wedged between the sea and the Namib dunes lies a rich wetland full of wildlife with a high concentration of migratory shorebirds, waders and flamingos that combine to create a dreamlike landscape.
Dec. 1, 2014, the ship calls at Banjul, Gambia — a small city offering nature reserves and camel safaris — and the following day Dakar, Senegal. At Dakar, one of West Africa’s largest cities, you’ll find a surprising mix of modern and traditional, colonial and independent, African and Western. Dakar & The Pink Lake of Retba takes you on a journey to the salt lake famous for its pink tint and surrounded by thatch-roofed huts.
Then it’s off to the islands as Rotterdam cruises to Praia, Ilha de Santiago and Midelo, Cape Verde; Tenerife and Las Palmas, Spain; and Arrecife, Canary Islands. This leg of the voyage is about sun, sand and fun, but that doesn’t mean it’s short on culture! Look out for Flamenco dancers, La Laguna, an UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Bandama Crater & Canary Fortress at Las Palmas.
After the island detour gear up for the last African calls at Agadir and Casablanca, Morocco. There you’ll find fabulous food full of exotic spices, guided camel rides, intricate tilework and bustling markets. Hassan II Mosque & Casablanca Sights offers highlights of Casablanca including a visit to Hassan II, the largest Mosque in Morocco and Africa, and the 7th largest in the world.
The final part of the journey features calls at Spain and Portugal where you’ll notice the northern African influence. Then, just before Christmas, it’s on to Southampton, England, and thence to Rotterdam, where the epic voyage of a lifetime began.
If you’ve already booked your cruise, be sure to pre-book your shore excursions so you get the tour of your choice.
Is there another region in the world that you must see? The HAL Exotic Airfare offer applies to other itineraries, including select Grand World Voyages.