Tag Archives: ms Amsterdam

A group from Fanning Island's Latta Moreaai Kindergarten School pose with HR Manager Christopher Houghton and HR Clerk Hempry Hartono.
A group from Fanning Island's Latta Moreaai Kindergarten School pose with HR Manager Christopher Houghton and HR Clerk Hempry Hartono.

Holland America Line ships sail to all seven continents and explore the world’s oceans. During our global adventures we visit hundreds of ports and our guests are warmly welcomed into those communities. So it is with great pride that whenever necessary we help those communities when in need.

Holland America Line recently participated in some great acts of giving around the world, providing supplies and monetary relief to communities in need.

Aid Delivered to the Island of Vanuatu

In April during a scheduled call at Port Villa, Vanuatu, in the South Pacific, Oosterdam delivered much-needed supplies to the island, which was ravaged by Cyclone Pam in March.

Not only did Oosterdam collect donations and supplies from guests and crew, it also carried essential goods on behalf of Save the Pacific Foundation. The organization had supplies to be delivered and needed a way to get them to Vanuatu from Sydney, so they coordinated the relief effort with Carnival Australia and Holland America Line. Oosterdam was making a scheduled call — the only ship calling at Vanuatu departing from Sydney in the next two months — and agreed to carry the supplies to the island.

Oosterdam delivered several palates to aid the people of Vanuatu.

Oosterdam delivered several palates to aid the people of Vanuatu.

Included in the eight pallets from Save the Pacific Foundation were medical supplies, clothing, bed linens, shelter tarps and tents, gumboots, work tools for rebuilding and food such as whole milk powder, rice and cans of basic items.

The ship also collected monetary donations and goods from guests and crew who wanted to help, and delivered additional pallets that included canned goods, insect repellent and personal hygiene items.

Earthquake Relief Efforts in Nepal

Last month Carnival Corporation teamed with several of its global cruise brands to pledge $200,000 to relief efforts in Nepal in the wake of April’s devastating earthquake. Carnival Corporation worked through Mercy Corps, the Disaster Emergency Committee and Save the Children to support on the ground teams distributing emergency supplies and aiding rebuilding efforts targeting the most affected families in Kathmandu and surrounding areas.

Carnival Corporation’s support will help the three organizations provide access to shelter supplies, food, water and hygiene supplies, support the operations of the Nepal Red Cross and ultimately assist families in rebuilding their lives after initial life-saving needs are met.

P & O Cruises UK and Cunard Line provided a significant portion of the donation out of the companies’ offices in the United Kingdom. Likewise, Carnival Cruise Line, Seabourn and Holland America Line combined to donate the majority of the funds in North America in coordination with Carnival Foundation, the company’s philanthropic organization.

Amsterdam Raises Money for Children in Myanmar

During Amsterdam’s 2015 Grand World Voyage, guests participated in a silent auction to raise money for the Smile Education and Development Foundation (SEDF) in Myanmar. SEDF benefits many organizations to help children at risk.

Organized by Culinary Arts Center Host Samantha Seyfert, the silent auction featured donated items from all departments, including a Grand World Voyage navigational map hand-signed by Captain Jonathan Mercer and the ship’s officers. The auction also featured dozens of hand-knit items donated by guests participating in the Sit & Knit gatherings, watercolor paintings donated by guests in the watercolor class, and items from the arts and crafts class.

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Children at the Rattana Metta Foundation performed during one of SEDF’s workshops while ms Amsterdam was in port March 11.

March 10 Amsterdam called at Yangon (formerly Rangoon) for two nights and SEDF representatives came on board for lunch and a tour of the ship. Samantha presented SEDF Director Virginia Henderson with $7,000 raised from the auction. Children at the Rattana Metta Foundation performed during one of SEDF’s workshops while ms Amsterdam was still alongside March 11.

Statendam Makes a Big Donation to the Kids of Fanning Island

On April 25, ms Statendam called at remote Fanning Island in the South Pacific Republic of Kiribati. Crew members delivered 45 boxes of school supplies, clothes and sporting equipment to the Fanning Island school committee. Over the past 18 months, Statendam has visited the island several times to bring a total of 200 boxes of much-needed supplies donated by guests and crew.

Kindergarten School Teacher Owati Kettrii oversees the children while Human Resources Manager Christopher Houghton gives them each a Statendam blow-up toy.

Kindergarten School Teacher Owati Kettrii oversees the children while Human Resources Manager Christopher Houghton gives them each a Statendam blow-up toy.

As the needs arise, Holland America Line will continue to help our global friends whenever possible.

Ephesus was a beautiful setting for the Grand World Voyage dinner. Photo by Jeff.
Ephesus was a beautiful setting for the Grand World Voyage dinner. Photo by Jeff.

On Thursday, April 30, the 2015 Grand World Voyage came to end at Fort Lauderdale, Fla. After spending 114 days onboard, traveling the globe and making life-long friends, it will be hard for guests to go back to making their own beds and cooking dinner!

Along the journey, we followed the adventures of Jeff Farschman, President’s Club member and “World Adventure” blogger; Mariners Gary and Jeanne Frink, Mariners Jan and Dick Yetke, Cruise Critic members John and Diane, and the ship’s Captain Mercer.

In this last look at the 2015 Grand World Voyage, we travel through the Suez Canal and Europe before crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy some highlights of the final leg of the journey, and perhaps we’ll see you onboard for the 2016 Grand World Voyage.

TRANSITING THE SUEZ CANAL

Photo by Captain Mercer.

Photo by Captain Mercer.

Our original scheduled date for the transit of the Canal was the 4th April, the day on which I now write. The Canal Authority are involved in a vast dredging and widening project; digging new channels and widening existing ones. The aim is to be able to take larger vessels and also to avoid the one-way system presently in use.

Prior to the project, northbound and southbound convoys, (usually of 30 ships or so), would pass each other in the Bitter Lakes. Now however, the Bitter lakes themselves are being dredged and having new channels cut. The result? South and north bound convoys can no longer pass each other and either convoy has to complete its entire transit before the next one can commence. This has led to delays, one is never quite sure when one can transit and the convoy times vary from day-to-day.

This was the dilemma I found myself in and, after numerous emails with our agents in Suez and endless calculations, I decided that waiting for the 4th was not an option I cared for, there being no guarantee I would transit and the result would be too appalling to contemplate, missing ports in the Mediterranean. Read the rest of the entry by clicking HERE. — Captain Mercer

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Photos by Jeff.

Photos by Jeff.

ASHDOD, ISRAEL:

First we headed to the Mount of Olives for a great view of Jereusalem and then went down to the Garden of Gethsemane. Then we headed to the old city where we visited the various quarters: Armenian, Christian, Jewish and Arab. We visited the church of the Holy Sepulcher which was near impossible on Easter Sunday. We paid a nice visit to the Western Wall before heading off to the Dead Sea. — Jeff

Photos by Jeff.

Photos by Jeff.

HAIFA, ISRAEL:

We began with a panoramic tour of the beautiful Baha’i Gardens in Haifa and then headed to Nazarath to see the Church of the Annunciation which was magnificent! Then we went off to the River Jordan Baptismal site, taking in the sights along the way. We then headed off to the Sea of Galilee where we had lunch at the Ein-gev Kibbutz. After lunch we visited Capernaum, the house of Peter and then on to the Mount of Beatitudes. — Jeff

Photos by Jeff.

Photos by Jeff.

GRAND WORLD VOYAGE DINNER: AN EVENING AT EPHESUS

Tonight we had a very special invitation to an evening at Ephesus … They had a cocktail party at the Library in Ephesus which was spectacular … The evening culminated by a special performance by the Aegean Chamber Orchestra. What a fabulous evening!!!! — Jeff

Photos by Jeff.

Photos by Jeff.

Unique, peerless, unmatchable, unimaginable, pick your adjective. For Jeanne and Gary Frink, the Holland America “thank you” evening at Ephesus was a dream­like, once-­in­-a-­lifetime party. — Gary Frink

Holland America Line's President Orlando Ashford spent time mingling with Amsterdam's officers at the dinner. Photo by Jeff.

Holland America Line’s President Orlando Ashford spent time mingling with Amsterdam’s officers at the dinner. Photo by Jeff.

PIRAEUS, GREECE:

I had a special treat, Samantha, Anthony, Olly and Emily joined us for a week, Gramps is a happy man! They are with us for a week and leave in Cartagena, Spain. — Captain Mercer

MercerfamilyCollage

CIVITAVECCHIA (ROME), ITALY:

Photo by Jeff.

Photo by Jeff.

Photo by Jeff.

Photo by Jeff.

Photos by Jeff.

Photos by Jeff.

Sam and Antony and Karen, have all been to Rome before; I have never done so, it’s too far away for my ‘within 2-hours of the ship’ rule and besides, the audit was ongoing, I stayed on board while the family strolled the town … Karen took the photographs for this jaunt ashore. — Captain Mercer

Photos by Karen.

Photos by Karen.

CARTAGENA, SPAIN:

The reason we couldn’t see the Museo del Theatre from the entry was that the museum follows a subterranean path under even more buildings, until one finally exits three blocks later, about midway up the side of an enormous amphitheatre. It must have held thousands of spectators, as it extended at least fifty rows up the hill and spread over several acres. We hiked up to the top row (probably the “cheap seats”) and then down to the orchestra area as well as the stage. It is amazing that this beautiful structure could have lain underground and undiscovered for almost 1500 years. — John and Diane

Photo by Jeff.

Photo by Jeff.

MALAGA, SPAIN

My love affair with Nerja, the Mediterranean village 40 miles east of Malaga up the coastal road (or by freeway), began on Easter weekend 1973. It has held me in its grip to this day. On this Malaga port Saturday, Jeanne and I would not be denied. We arrived at the top of Nerja, as it begins to slope through the town streets, ending in the Mediterranean. We walked on very narrow sidewalks heading down to the center of Town. Our first objective was 32 Calle Carabeo, a street that springs out from the town plaza and the Catholic Church that dominates it. In November and December 1983 we lived in a late friend’s restored home, high over the sea, while she was resident in Washington D.C.

Our next objective was Meson Antonio, a tapas bar on the street passing to the right of the church. I hoped Antonio was still alive and running his joint, for he was the last person in Nerja I would know … When he entered Antonio recognized me immediately, though at least 20 years have passed since I last sat at his bar. — Gary Frink

The Frinks visiting their favorite places in Nerja.

The Frinks visiting their favorite places in Nerja.

PONTA DELGADA, PORTUGAL:

Photo by Jeff.

Photo by Jeff.

As we left the city, we realized how very green this island is. We could have been in Ireland with the colorful hills and valleys. Olivia, our guide, told us that the Azores are subtropical, and that the weather is mixed almost every day. If it’s sunny, you’d better take advantage of it, because it might be raining in 30 minutes. Even though today is cold and windy, there’s plenty of both rain and sun because of the gulf stream, resulting in such crops as bananas, pineapples, tomatoes, and many others that you wouldn’t expect on a rocky outcropping in the Atlantic. — John and Diane

Photos by Jeff.

Photos by Jeff.

Photo by Jeff.

Photo by Jeff.

SO LONG, FAREWELL:

Today is our final day, certainly a day filled with sorrow for leaving such great friends and “family” but also a day filled with joy as we remember all the great adventures we have had on this Grand World Voyage … We have seen magnificent places, met wonderful people along the way of so many cultures and enjoyed the company of our fellow guests and beloved crew. It has been an awesome adventure.— Jeff

Farewell from Jeff and his friends.

Farewell from Jeff and his friends.

Last evening all of our new and old friends gathered in the Crow’s Nest for a last hurrah, and we had a wonderful time. Our friend Ginny had painted the ship in perfect form, sitting in a blue sea, and then made copies of it, so we all now have a “signed and numbered Ginny lithograph.” It really is beautiful. Those of us who hadn’t exchanged cards did so, and we’re hoping to get together with some of our friends between cruises … So, it’s been a wonderful 4-1/2 months since the Caribbean pre-cruise and continuing on to our amazing world cruise. We’ve loved every moment of it and hope that all of you get this experience at least once. — John and Diane

One-year-old Isabelle waves goodbye to her Uncle Vincent who is staff captain on Prinsendam.
One-year-old Isabelle waves goodbye to her Uncle Vincent who is staff captain on Prinsendam.

Taking a cruise vacation is a social event full of memory-making moments both onboard and ashore. From mingling with guests around the ship to taking a fabulous shore excursion and visiting all of the fantastic destinations around the world, there are plenty of opportunities to capture the special moments and share them with friends, family and fellow fans of Holland America Line.

If you want to be social before you cruise, check out “Roll Call” on Facebook, Holland America Line’s way of connecting fellow cruisers before departure. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and the Holland America Blog are other outlets that provide a great way for guests to get cruise tips from fellow guests or share vacation stories and photos.

If you want to be part of the sharing, submit your fun photos and stories through social media channels, by clicking “Share Your Story” on the blog or emailing info@hollandamericablog.com. And if you’re out there cruising and tweeting while you sail, hashtag us at #HALcruises or #HollandAmerica, or tag us at @HALcruises. You can even hashtag your ship, like #Eurodam!

The photos and notes in this blog post are just some wonderful examples that show the dedication, fondness and love that our guests and crew have for Holland America Line.

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Well Wishes from Shore to Ship

The beautiful photo above came through email with this sweet note:

My uncle Vincent works as a staff captain on the ms Prinsendam. Every time when the beautiful ms Prinsendam visits the Netherlands (Amsterdam or IJmuiden), I go by bike, together with my mom and dad to the beach/pier to wave my Uncle Vincent goodbye. We always wish him and all of the crew and passengers a safe and secure journey. My mom took a picture of us the last time. — Isabelle Engel (1 year)

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Noordam Carries Historic Tote Bag on Transatlantic Crossing

From left: Captain Jeroen van Donselaar, Nancy and Francis Stiles, and Hotel Director Simon Tanner display the historic tote bag.

From left: Captain Jeroen van Donselaar, Nancy and Francis Stiles, and Hotel Director Simon Tanner display the historic tote bag.

Guests Francis and Nancy Stiles of Pennsylvania brought an unusual piece of history on board a Noordam transatlantic cruise: a tote bag that has been in the Stiles family since 1890 and carried on many sailings. The tote bag traveled on Holland America Line ships including the Rijndam and Statendam in 1929 and made its first transatlantic crossing in 1930 aboard White Star Line’s R.M.S. Homeric.

On this transatlantic cruise 84 years later, Captain Jeroen van Donselaar and Hotel Director Simon Tanner held a commemoration ceremony on the bridge, inscribing the ship’s itinerary on the bag.

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Getting Creative with Tiles

While some guests create tables and kitchen backsplashes with their Holland America Line Delft tiles, guest Ton Rijppaert has found another way to get creative with these favorite give-aways. A former HAL cabin steward from 1964 to 1972, Ton now cruises regularly so he’s amassed quite a collection of tiles and pins.

Ton Rijppaert from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, displays his tiles and pins in a photobook.

Ton Rijppaert from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, displays his tiles and pins in a photobook.

I collect HAL tiles (not plates) and pins … At this moment my collection consists of 290 tiles and 80 pins. I have them processed in a photobook. It is a loose-leaf album, so I can effortlessly handle additions. The tiles are shown at actual size. I always take the album with me on our cruises. That is the way I am “creative” with my tiles. During our voyage with the ms Rotterdam from our hometown Rotterdam to Singapore last January I had the opportunity to exhibit my tiles on board the ship (2 times). — Ton Rijppaert

Ton at home with his collection and the wonderful display onboard.

Ton at home with his collection, a new tile and the wonderful display onboard.

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Friends for Life

Crew members who work onboard become like family. Cruising is a 24/7 operation, and there’s a lot of time spent together. Special bonds are formed and lifelong friendships develop. Former Cruise Director Lizabeth Knight can attest to this in her story:

Teresa, left, and Liz onboard Nieuw Amsterdam.

Teresa, left, and Liz onboard Nieuw Amsterdam.

I’m a former HAL Cruise Director and Teresa Papp is a former HAL Event Manager. We were partnered together on the Statendam from 2009 through 2010. It was a tremendous partnership, and we were fortunate to work with a fabulous “family” on the Statendam. Even though we’ve both been officially gone from the company since 2010 we’ve remained close friends, and decided to take a “Family Reunion” cruise this year.

Since the Statendam does voyages that are longer than we can manage in our current lives, we chose a Caribbean cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam. We were thrilled to find many of our Statendam family members onboard, making it truly a family reunion to remember! Thank you, Holland America Line, for the magical memories – from both the Statendam and the Nieuw Amsterdam! — Lizabeth Knight

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Warm Feelings in Cold Weather

The Shore Excursion department on Zaandam recently received new uniforms for their South America explorations. They were very appreciative of the cold-weather wear.

Judy from Zaandam's Shore Excursion team shows off the new uniforms.

Judy from Zaandam’s Shore Excursion team shows off the new uniforms.

Just a little appreciation for our new uniform! — Judy

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Is that an Original Holland America Line Design?

Chuck and Deborah Humbert.

Chuck and Deborah Humbert.

Chuck Humbert and his wife Deborah were wondering what to do with all of the vintage, complimentary tote bags that Holland America Line gives out. They got creative, and we think the result is fabulous!

Because of the superb quality of the design and fabric, they were recycled by my wife Deborah and her mother into a jacket and vest to be worn at the Mariners Luncheons. Needless to say they do attract attention. Careful attention was paid to the patterns when piecing together the final project lending to a memorable taste of our past cruises.

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A Presidential Dinner

President’s Club Mariners Mark Goldberg and Christopher Smith have made the ms Zaandam their winter home sailing around South America for nearly 100 days.

To honor them and their loyalty to Holland America Line Hotel Director Simon Tanner orchestrated a remarkable dinner in the Neptune Lounge just a few steps from their suite. This was most definitely a memorable evening for these VIP guests!

Left to Right: Christopher Smith, presidents club member; Clarissa Zwart, guest relations manager;  Marc Spijkerboer, culinary operations manager; Mark Goldberg, presidents club member; Anita Szilagyi, shore excursions; Simon Tanner, hotel director, pose with HAL crew members.

Clockwise around the table from bottom left: guest Christopher Smith; Clarissa Zwart, guest relations manager; Marc Spijkerboer, culinary operations manager; guest Mark Goldberg; Anita Szilagyi, shore excursions; and Simon Tanner, hotel director, pose with HAL crew members.

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A Golden Anniversary

Even regular blog contributors and current Grand World Voyage cruisers Jan and Dick Yetke got in on the fun.

We celebrated our 50th Anniversary onboard. Started out with a wake up call in the morning from Guest Relations Manager Christel and her whole front office staff, including Neptune staff, singing a Happy Anniversary song to us!!!! What a wonderful surprise and great way to start the day!!!

A little while later we were out of the cabin attending the Good Morning Amsterdam show and when we returned our door had been decorated with 3 gold balloons and a sign saying Happy 50th Anniversary, Jan and Dick!! It was from the Neptune staff and our cabin stewards. Wow, that was really nice!

Cards arrived all day long from friends on board!!! We received our first large flower bouquet from Captain Jonathan Mercer; Henk and Christel Mensink, hotel manager and guest relations manager; ship officers, staff, and crew!! So beautiful and so much appreciated by us! We felt very special.

Celebrations continued throughout the day with flower deliveries, a cocktail party, fabulous dinner and dessert.

When it was time for dessert, all the dining room staff gathered around the table and they brought the cake and they all sang their Indonesian song which means Happy Life to us!! Another, Wow, for us – so many singers.

The Yetke's 50th Anniversary celebration included balloons, cake and Captain Mercer.

The Yetke’s 50th Anniversary celebration included balloons, cake and Captain Mercer.

Content is king and social media is the new water cooler. We want to hear what you’re doing! If you have fun photos or a great story that you’d like to share with Holland America Line’s social media team, send to info@hollandamericablog.com or hit the icon on the home page that says “Share Your Story.”

Happy cruising — we hope to hear from you soon!

A hot air balloon ride over the temples of Bagan was a highlight of the visit to Myanmar for Jeff, John and Diane.
A hot air balloon ride over the temples of Bagan was a highlight of the visit to Myanmar for Jeff, John and Diane.

On the 2015 Grand World Voyage, Amsterdam is taking a northerly route up to the Far East following an Australia exploration. Full of mysteries, wonders, ancient traditions and grand beauty, the ports in this part of the world offer an exceptional amount of magical experiences for our guests. From visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites to seeing some of the most impressive architecture, Asia certainly is a feast for the eyes.

As previously showcased on the Holland America Blog, two of our regular guest contributors are on the Grand World Voyage traveling around the globe and sending in updates: Jeff Farschman, President’s Club member and “World Adventure” blogger, and Mariners Gary and Jeanne Frink. Cruise Critic members John and Diane are along for the cruise, and the ship’s Captain Mercer also is taking us on the journey through his own blog.

Here is a look into their Asian adventures. Perhaps they will entice you to book the 2016 Grand World Voyage or a Far East itinerary on one of our ships!

BENOA, BALI
The first call following Australia was Benoa, Bali, in Indonesia, and it was an overnight visit. Known as a lush, beautiful island, and many call it paradise on Earth. Jeff, who has been to Bali before, said:

“It simply was the best single day I have spent in Bali…”

Through his photos, you can see why is was so spectacular. Jeff toured the island and visited Gitgit Falls, the Monkey Forest, Jitiluwih (where the largest rice terraces in Bali are located), and several temples including Pura Ulun Danu on Beratan Lake, Pura Taman Ayun temple complex, Pura Batuan and Pura Dalem Agung.

Sights of Bali from Jeff Farschman.

Sights of Bali from Jeff Farschman.

Captain Mercer also enjoyed time ashore, spending a quiet beach day in Sanur, a town a few miles south of Benoa.

Captain Mercer and his wife Karen enjoyed a beautiful day at the beach.

Captain Mercer and his wife Karen enjoyed a beautiful day at the beach.

It has lovely beaches, shopping and hotels. It was the Puri Santrian hotel that we stayed at for the day. — Captain Mercer

SEMARANG, JAVA:

From Semarang, the most popular activity for guests is to make the trek to UNESCO World Heritage Site Borobudur. The world’s largest Buddhist temple, Borobudur consists of six square platforms topped by three circular platforms and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. Built in the 9th century, it remains a mystery to this day as to how it was created without modern technology. Jeff explored Borobudur and captured it beautifully in his photos.

Borobudur stands tall and majestic among the trees. Photo by Jeff.

Borobudur stands tall and majestic among the trees. Photo by Jeff.

Scenes around Borobudur by Jeff.

Scenes around Borobudur by Jeff.

Guests John and Diane also are onboard, and posted this about Borobudur on Cruise Critic:

Since we’re fans of UNESCO World Heritage, this was our chance to add another to our list that we’ve wanted to see for some time. … The view from the top kept us up there for quite some time, as it is surrounded by several volcanoes and lush green agricultural fields. Our other activity at the top, in addition to gawking at the beautiful natural surroundings, was walking around the Great Stupa three times, silently, and then at the end making a wish. Of course I can’t tell you what I wished, or it wouldn’t come true.

SINGAPORE:

Singapore is such a robust city that an overnight call is a must. From the famous Raffles hotel to the impressive and unique night safari, there’s so much to see and do. Everyone got out and about on different adventures, from visiting the famed gardens to China Town. Enjoy two days in Singapore with our guest bloggers!

We decided to take the MRT to the Singapore Flyer, the world’s tallest Ferris Wheel, and take it for an early morning spin. The views were fabulous! Next we went off and did some shopping before heading off to our next stop, the Gardens by the Bay, next to the Marina Bay Sands. We walked through the Gardens by the Bay and decided to go to the Cloud Forest first, leaving the Flower Dome for later in the day. — Jeff

Singapore from the top of the ferris wheel and the gorgeous gardens.

Singapore from the top of the ferris wheel and the gorgeous gardens. All by Jeff.

Captain Mercer captured the famed laser light show that happens twice a night.

Here is the famous Singapore ‘Merlion’ and the surrounding area of the Bay is a mass of colour. — Captain Mercer

Captain Mercer captured the light show in the harbor.

Captain Mercer captured the light show in the harbor.

SINGAPORE DAY 2:

Jeff and his group visited China Town on the second day of Singapore.

Singapore boasts a wealth of colorful attractions. Photos by Jeff.

Singapore boasts a wealth of colorful attractions. Photos by Jeff.

The Frinks toured around Singapore on a hop-on, hop-off bus, also visiting China Town.

The iconic Raffles Hotel (Sir Stamford Raffles founded Singapore) was the only the only landmark I recognized from my solo foray into a much simpler Singapore in the 1990s; now the city is a booming, growing Asian financial center, squeezing out funky old neighborhoods. Jeanne and I disembarked from the top of the double-decker HOHO in Chinatown; there, drinks awaited in Chinatown Food Street.

The Frinks passed by Raffles and stopped at Chinatown.

The Frinks passed by Raffles and stopped at Chinatown.

Cruise Critic posters John and Diane visited Sentosa Island:

This morning we decided to do something different: travel to Sentosa Island, just across the bay from our ship. The entire island is a huge amusement park, but like the rest of Singapore, there isn’t a bit of trash – not a gum wrapper (gum is illegal in Singapore), not a bit of anything – I’m amazed that the trees have the nerve to drop leaves on the ground! Sentosa Island contains all kinds of attractions: the only Universal Studios in Asia, a large casino, three pristine beaches, a couple of hotels, all kinds of eateries, from McDonalds to Guy Savoy and Joel Robuchon (each with two Michelin stars), a massive aquarium, a maritime museum, and tropical landscaping that is out of this world. We loved our visit.

PORT KLANG (KUALA LUMPUR), MALAYSIA:

Kuala Lumpur is Malaysia’s capital and the main attraction from the port of Port Klang. Despite it’s locale about 1/5 hours from the port, most guests make their way in to explore its many attractions. It’s a city of juxtaposition, with mosques and temples living harmoniously alongside the steel-clad skyscrapers. The most famous of these are the Petronas Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world at 1,483 feet and 88 stories.

Beneath the Petronas Towers by Jeff.

Beneath the Petronas Towers by Jeff.

The Batu Caves were an amazing place, aside from the 272 steps that you have to climb to get into the caves. There are giant statues of Hindu deities. Just amazing! We spent a lot of time there checking out all the temples, the ceremonies and yes, even the monkeys. It was simply magnificent! This was the highlight of the day for me. — Jeff

The impressive Batu Caves by Jeff.

The impressive Batu Caves by Jeff.

Jeff also went to the Royal Palace, and it is a most impressive structure.

The Royal Palace, photographed by Jeff.

The Royal Palace, photographed by Jeff.

RANGOON, MYANMAR:

Following calls at Penang, Malaysia, and Phuket, Thailand, the ship called at Rangoon, Myanmar, for two nights. Jeff, John and Diane, went overland to explore Myanmar and India. Here is a glimpse into their time in Myanmar.

It was time for the highlight of the day, the Shwedagon Pagoda, the #1 attraction in Yangon and a 2,600-year-old series of structures that just take your breath away. The enormous stupa in the middle is covered with gold leaf and is crowned by a 76-carat diamond at the top. It’s surrounded by dozens and dozens of intricately decorated buildings, smaller pagodas, and statues. The shrine covers over 35 acres, and it was crowded with people from all over the world as well as many people from Myanmar. There were also dozens of Buddhist monks and nuns, some as young as 5, since every good Buddhist is supposed to serve at least a short period in this service. Moe, our guide, spent 2-1/2 months as a monk in his early 20’s, and his 7-year-old son has already done a three-day stint – which he loved. The Pagoda area itself was just amazing – it was almost like a Buddhist Disneyland, with all kinds of buildings, lots of gold, people-worshipping and/or sightseeing, and it just blew me away. I think it’s on my top 10 list of places I’ve ever visited. — John and Dianne

The Shwedagon Pagoda was like a Buddhist Disneyland, said John and Diane. Photos by Jeff.

The Shwedagon Pagoda was like a Buddhist Disneyland, said John and Diane. Photos by Jeff.

Captain Mercer also had time ashore to enjoy the sites.

First, off to the Sule Pagoda and then a walk around the Bogyoke Market and surrounding streets, then, after lunch, to Karaweik, a beautiful lake area with tended plants and shrubs and then finally, to the Shwedagon Pagoda, the grandest of them all. — Captain Mercer

Photos at the Shwegadon Pagoda by Captain Mercer.

Photos at the Shwedagon Pagoda by Captain Mercer.

After Yangon, Jeff and his group traveled to Bagan where they planned a hot air balloon ride over the temples on day two of their visit. However, day one came with some surprises.

Bagan has 1000’s of temples and I did my darndest to photograph them all. Our first formal visit was to Shwezigan Temple, considered the prototype for all later Myanmar temples. We climbed to the top and my trip was complete right then. The panoramic view of temples across the landscape was unbelievable. If we never got to take our balloon flight on the second day, I still would have been fulfilled on my visit to Bagan. — Jeff

The incredible view of the temples, by Jeff.

The incredible view of the temples, by Jeff.

The next day, they set off on their hot air balloon ride. The breathtaking photos speak for themselves.

Photos by Jeff.

Photos by Jeff.

Photos by Jeff.

Photos by Jeff.

The ship heads to India and then through the Suez Canal before traveling around the Mediterranean. Before too long, the Grand World Voyage will come to an end. But until then, stay tuned to the blog for an update on the adventures of our world cruisers.

OODM

Holland America Line topped the list in 2014 for the World’s Leading Weather Observing Cruise Ship Companies who submitted weather information to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Holland America Line fleet of 15 ships sent in a combined total of 22,281 observations during the year, landing them at number one. Holland America Line also was at the top of the list in 2008 and 2006, and individual ships excelled in past years — as featured on the blog.

Among individual cruise ships that sent in information, ms Oosterdam lead the Holland America Line fleet with 2,858 observations. Amsterdam, ms Volendam, ms Zaandam and ms Zuiderdam also were listed among the top 10 of all individual cruise ship observations.

Clockwise from top left: Zaandam, Volendam, Zuiderdam and Amsterdam also were listed among the top 10 weather observing ships.

Clockwise from top left: Zaandam, Volendam, Zuiderdam and Amsterdam also were listed among the top 10 weather observing ships.

“Our ships travel oceans all over the world through all types of weather, and it’s an honor to help support a process that affects hundreds of millions of people globally,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “With our ships face to face with the weather patterns and conditions that can help meteorologists predict global forecasts, we feel that it’s our duty to report our findings.”

Despite the presence of weather satellites and many ground stations, regular weather reports from ships are still of great value to meteorological and hydrological services around the world preparing daily weather predictions. These weather reports also provide important climatological data to the World Weather Information Service of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Congrats to everyone onboard who contributed to this honor.

Amsterdam anchored in the gorgeous harbor of Nuku Hiva. Photo courtesy of Jeff Farschman.
Amsterdam anchored in the gorgeous harbor of Nuku Hiva. Photo courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

The South Pacific is paradise on earth. Images of lush landscapes, crystalline waters and beautiful skies come to mind when thinking of the island jewels that make up this part of the world. For many, it’s the dream of a lifetime to journey to the South Pacific on a Holland America Line ship. Some travelers take a cruise that is solely bound for the South Pacific, while others take it as part of a longer itinerary such as the Grand World Voyage.

Currently, three of our regular Holland America Blog guest contributors on are the Grand World Voyage traveling westbound around the globe on Amsterdam: Jeff Farschman, President’s Club member and “World Adventure” blogger; Mariners Jan and Dick Yetke; and Mariners Gary and Jeanne Frink. In fact, Jan, Dick, Gary and Jeanne are dinner companions!

The ship recently spent 10 days island-hopping to some of the most beautiful ports around the South Pacific. All of the bloggers chose to explore in their own way, and there’s a unique way to get to know each destination for every type of traveler.

Come along and see why a trip to the South Pacific is a dream come true for so many.

Taoihae, Nuku Hiva
The first call was at Nuku Hiva, the second-largest island in French Polynesia. Jeff found the sail into anchorage to be so beautiful, he shared more photos of this sail-in than any other port!

Photos courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

Photos courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

Nuka Hive is lush, green and magnificent … just beautiful. We spent 5 or 6 hours ashore before heading back to the ship, We covered, I believe, all the highlights of the city including all the carved stone structures which originated a long time ago in Easter Island. So today, I offer up a lot of photos of one very beautiful island. — Jeff

Photos courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

Photos courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

Papeete, Tahiti
The next port to explore in the South Pacific was Papeete, Tahiti, and this was an overnight call. Despite the gloomy weather, our bloggers got out and about, and Jeff even said “It was best day I have ever had on Tahiti and I have been here many times.”

For the Yetkes, today was a day for exploring on two wheels. Jan’s bike even has some extra assistance for those tough hills!

Rode along the waterfront thru the park as far as we could and then you go out onto the main road, but there is a designated bike lane which is nice … I have to report that my bike was awesome! I did use it normally for the huge majority of the trip since it has about 10 different gear levels. But when getting to a hill, I could push the button for the battery and get a boost while pedaling. Really did not need much so then turned it off again. Amazing how nice it was! — Jan

Jan and Dick getting ready to go out and about on their bikes.

Jan and Dick getting ready to go out and about on their bikes.

As for Jeff, he and his friends went on tour to get the most out of their day.

Brad, Cathy, Ann & I had no real plans, just were going to walk around but did a major course correction and decided to take a Tahiti Paradise Tour for a half day into the Papeno’o Valley. Before leaving on our tour we did a quick tour of the Marche, you know how I love markets. Once back we were off and running. What a perfect day it turned out to be, all the rain and thunderstorms forecast held off so we could see some really dramatic, beautiful scenery. Our guide, Fara, described it as her own Jurassic Park and I can see why. The mountains, valleys and countless waterfalls certainly had a Jurassic Park feel to it. — Gary

PapeeteCollage

Bora Bora

Often called the most romantic island in the world, Bora Bora is also known as one of the most beautiful. From the emerald and sapphire hues of the sparkling water to the lush tropical slopes and valleys that blossom with hibiscus, Bora Bora is a shutterbug’s dream.

The Frinks decided to take the local shuttle to explore the island, and even saw the Yetkes along the way!

While sipping a late-morning beer and Diet Coke in a small, open air, faux-French cafe on the main drag of Bora Bora, dinner companions Jan and Dick rode by on their bicycles; I shouted out to Jan, peddling behind her husband … We settled on a shuttle “bus” (an old Mercedes Benz truck pulling what appeared to be a one-of-a-kind wooden carriage, with padded seats on the sides and a wooden bench in the middle.) The first stop was the “famous” Bloody Mary’s, a thatched-roof restaurant and saloon. One extravagance we could not resist was a $25 T-shirt proclaiming front and back: “Bloody Mary’s, Bora Bora.” As we rode the tender back to the Amsterdam, Jeanne said: “I’ll be the only girl in my neighborhood to have a Bloody Mary’s, Bora Bora T shirt.” — Gary

Jeanne making a local purchase, and the shuttle that took the Frinks around the island.

Jeanne making a local purchase, and the shuttle that took the Frinks around the island.

As for Jeff, he spent the day exploring the pristine waters or Bora Bora. The photos speak for themselves.

The vibrant underworld, photographed by Jeff Farschman.

The vibrant underworld, photographed by Jeff Farschman.

BOraBoraCollage

Nuku’alofa, Tonga
Amsterdam then made way to Tonga where it would spend two nights, arriving on Saturday evening and departing Monday afternoon. On Sundays, the island mostly shuts down for religious observance. Both the Frinks and Yetkes found themselves at a church where the king and queen of Tonga were worshiping.

Gary notes:

As we walked uphill, the simple, unadorned white Methodist Church caught our attention. When we reached the church portico, an usher met us: “Oh, you just missed the choir,” he said. (Tongan church choirs are renowned.) “But the King is here. Would like to see him?” “Yes, of course,” I answered. “Follow me,” and we proceeded at an athlete’s pace up concrete back stairs that ended in a very high balcony. The King and Queen of Tonga sat alone in a theater-like box to the left side of the alter. I took photos with my iphone which, because of the height and distance, produced poorly-focused and ephemeral images; nonetheless, I possess self-taken snapshots of the King and Queen of Tonga. Later, Jeanne and I watched as the Royal “limousine” (a small Toyota SUV) passed by, followed by a security detail in a nondescript, green military vehicle; a royal flag fluttered from each front fender.

When Jeanne and I returned to the church portico, I met Bill who, in answer to my question, explained the meaning of the Tongan Taovala, worn by men and women over normal garments. “I’m a surgeon,” he told me. It was clear that Bill was leaving church early. “I have a patient in the hospital. I have to look in on her,” he said as we walked toward his car. Jeanne and I enjoyed Tonga so much, I joked about moving there, “and I already have my doctor,” I added. — Gary

Inside the Methodist Church, Gary and Jeanne with Dr. Bill, and the King and Queen leaving church. Courtesy of Jan Yetke.

Inside the Methodist Church, Gary and Jeanne with Dr. Bill, and the King and Queen leaving church. Courtesy of Jan Yetke.

Jeff also happened by the church, and many locals on their way.

Photos courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

Photos courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

With two nights in port, there was plenty of time to go out and see the island and all that it has to offer.

Courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

Courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

Courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

Courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

Are you ready to travel to the South Pacific? Which island do you want to visit?

Holland America Line announces exciting new European itineraries for ms Koningsdam.
Holland America Line announces exciting new European itineraries for ms Koningsdam.

In summer 2016, Holland America Line’s newest ship, ms Koningsdam, will sail out of the port of Amsterdam, marking the first time the company will have three ships sailing out of three Dutch ports: Koningsdam out of Amsterdam, Rotterdam out of Rotterdam and Prinsendam out of Ijmuiden.

The ports of Amsterdam, top, and Rotterdam hosted press events today to announce Koningsdam's new itineraries. In the center photo are Mark Kammerer, vice president, international marketing and sales; Rene Kouwenberg, director of the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam; and Nico Bleichrodt, managing director, sales and marketing — North and Central Europe.

The ports of Amsterdam, top, and Rotterdam hosted press events today to announce Koningsdam’s new itineraries. Pictured are, from left, Mark Kammerer, vice president, international marketing and sales; Rene Kouwenberg, director of the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam; and Nico Bleichrodt, managing director, sales and marketing — North and Central Europe.

Koningsdam will debut a series of northern Europe and Baltic cruises as part of the premium line’s robust Europe season that features seven ships sailing throughout the region. Koningsdam’s summer itineraries — and all of Holland America Line’s 2016 summer Europe sailings — will be available for booking in early February.

Following a series of previously announced seven- and 12-day Premiere Sailings from Feb. 20 through April in the Mediterranean, the ship will reposition from Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, to its summer homeport of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Koningsdam will then go on to sail roundtrip Amsterdam itineraries to Norway, the Baltic and Iceland, where breathtaking vistas and grand fjords await. Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line said,

“For the first summer sailing season of our beautiful new ship ms Koningsdam, we’ve crafted some incredible itineraries to Europe’s most beautiful ports. We recommend booking early because response to Koningsdam’s Premiere Voyages was overwhelmingly positive.”

Koningsdam’s 13-day repositioning cruise from the Med departs May 9 and explores 10 ports in Spain, Gibraltar, Portugal, France, Belgium and the Netherlands before ending with an overnight at Amsterdam.

Kongingsdam Showcases Norway in Summer 2016

Once at Amsterdam, the ship will begin exciting seven- and 14-day cruises to Norway that showcase the country’s majestic scenery and quaint landscapes. A seven-day itinerary in May, July and August calls at Flam, Stavanger, Kristiansand and Oslo, with scenic cruising in Sognefjord and Oslofjord. Another seven-day itinerary in June and July calls at Eidfjord, Ålesund, Geiranger and Bergen, with scenic cruising in Hardangerfjord and Geirangerfjord. A seven-day voyage in August calls at Bergen, Hellesylt, Geiranger, Ålesund and Eidfjord, with Hardangerfjord and Geirangerfjord scenic cruising.

A highlight of the Norway cruises is the call at Geiranger at the heart of Geirangerfjord.

A highlight of the Norway cruises is the call at Geiranger at the heart of Geirangerfjord.

A longer 14-day Norwegian exploration departs May 29 and July 17, and crosses the Arctic Circle while calling at eight ports in Norway. Guests also will enjoy memorable scenic cruising in Hardangerfjord, Geirangerfjord, Trondheimsfjord, the North Cape and Sognefjord.

British Isles and Baltic Round Out Koningsdam Europe Highlights

Travelers looking to visit the British Isles and Iceland can embark Koningsdam Aug. 14 for a cruise to Newcastle upon Tyne, England; South Queensferry (Edinburgh) and Invergordon (Inverness), Scotland; Reykjavik (overnight), Isafjordur and Akuruyri, Iceland; and Ålesund and Bergen, Norway.

Edinburgh, Scotland, left, and Reykjavik, Iceland, are two of the calls on the Northern Isles cruise. Photos courtesy of Jaap Wisse, left, and Jan Yetke.

Edinburgh, Scotland, left, and Reykjavik, Iceland, are two of the calls on the Northern Isles cruise. Photos courtesy of Jaap Wisse, left, and Jan Yetke.

The Baltic awaits Koningsdam’s guests on two 14-day itineraries in June and September, also sailing roundtrip from Amsterdam. The ship calls at the most sought-after ports in the region, with visits to Copenhagen, Denmark; Warnemunde (Berlin) and Kiel (Hamburg), Germany; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg (overnight), Russia; Helsinki, Finland; and Stockholm and Gothenburg, Sweden.

Calls at St. Petersburg, Stockholm and Copenhagen are featured on the Baltic cruises. Guests can explore each port on tours like An Evening at Tivoli Gardens on Your Own and Edinburgh Highlights & Castle.

Calls at St. Petersburg, Stockholm and Copenhagen are featured on the Baltic cruises. Guests can explore each port on tours like An Evening at Tivoli Gardens on Your Own and Edinburgh Highlights & Castle.

At the end on the season, Koningsdam sails from Amsterdam to Civitavecchia on a 12-day journey that visits England, Gibraltar, Portugal and four ports in Spain. On Oct. 24 the ship repositions to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on a 14-day voyage that crosses the Atlantic following calls at Alicante, Malaga (Granada) and Huelva (Seville), Spain; and Funchal, Madeira.

Koningsdam’s Premiere Voyage and Sailings

As previously announced, Koningsdam’s seven-day Premier Voyage sails roundtrip from Civitavecchia departing Feb. 20 to Dubrovnik, Croatia; Kérkira (Corfu) and Katakolon (Olympia), Greece; and Naples, Italy. The 12-day Premiere Sailings that follow are two alternating itineraries roundtrip from Civitavecchia. The “Greek & Turkish Treasures” itinerary calls at Katakolon, Piraeus (Athens), Rhodes and Crete, Greece; Istanbul (overnight) and Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey; and Naples, Italy. This itinerary also will be offered Sept. 30, in addition to the Premiere spring departures.

The “Mediterranean Mosaic” itinerary spends 12 days visiting Naples, Italy; Palermo, Sicily; Cagliari, Sardinia; Gibraltar, British Territory; and Cádiz, Málaga, Cartagena and Barcelona (overnight), Spain, sailing roundtrip from Civitavecchia. In addition to the Premiere spring departures, this itinerary also will depart Oct 12.

About ms Koningsdam

Koningsdam represents a new Pinnacle Class of ship for Holland America Line. The vessel will debut several innovative concepts and new public spaces and venues, while still featuring popular amenities guests associate with Holland America Line.

To bring a fresh vision to ms Koningsdam, Holland America Line tapped Adam D. Tihany, one of the world’s pre-eminent hospitality designers. Tihany joins distinguished maritime designer and architect Bjørn Storbraaten who worked with Holland America Line on ms Eurodam and ms Nieuw Amsterdam. The two firms will create an interior that blends a fresh, contemporary styling in perfect harmony with the line’s renowned classic elegance.

The line recently unveiled the first series of interior renderings for ms Koningsdam on their website, and additional details will continue to be revealed over the coming months, including plans for the ship’s official christening.

Are you looking forward to ms Koningsdam’s summer 2016 itineraries? Let us know which cruise you want to book in the comments!

Guests have time to see more of ports around the world with overnight calls on the 114-Day Grand World Voyage.
Guests have time to see more of ports around the world with overnight calls on the 114-Day Grand World Voyage.

Today, Jan. 5, 2015, ms Amsterdam departs on the Grand World Voyage — the experience of a lifetime! The cruise goes around the world in 114 days, transiting the Panama Canal, making its way to the South Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, India, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan. From Jordan it’s a comfortable journey through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean. Guests then spend a full two weeks in the Mediterranean before a transatlantic crossing that ultimately disembarks where it all began, at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Along the way there are 11 overnight calls that offer guests extended time to explore some of the most exciting destinations in the world. Whether you’re already onboard, joining the cruise later, or an armchair traveler, take a look at these outstanding overnight ports — and get an idea of what to do ashore on the 2015 Grand World Voyage!

For those looking to take a last-minute adventure, there’s still space on segments of the 2015 Grand World Voyage like from Auckland, New Zealand, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, via the Far East. Guests can get a taste of some of these overnights on the remaining segments.

And if a Grand Voyage is on your bucket list for next year, the 2016 Grands — that also feature several overnights — are open for booking. Check out the 115-day Grand World Voyage, the 67-day Grand South America and Antarctica Voyage and the 55-day Grand Mediterranean Voyage.

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OVERNIGHT CALLS ON THE 2015 GRAND WORLD VOYAGE:

Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia

Relax and sail by catamaran at Tahiti.

Relax and sail by catamaran at Tahiti.

After a trip to and through South America then a Panama Canal transit, the ship heads to the South Pacific where guests can go out and about on an overnight call at Papeete, Tahiti, the capital of French Polynesia. The colors that Paul Gauguin brought to canvas could have been lifted from the markets, beaches and buildings of today’s Papeete. Shop for black pearls, visit tropical gardens or check out Tahiti Sail by Catamaran, then walk the park along the waterfront.

Meanwhile, the rest of the island is waiting. Stop by the romantic Vaipahi Garden and the fern-lined sea caves of the Mara’a Grotto, then do anything on, beside, or under the island’s elysian lagoon. With two days at port there’s time to stroll and enjoy! The overnight makes it possible to take the Dinner & Show, a Night Out at Papeete tour. In addition to a colorful and delicious buffet at the Intercontinental Hotel, guests enjoy an evening show that is a stunning dance show that highlights Tahiti and its way of life — La Soirée Merveilleuse in the colors of Gauguin.

Auckland, New Zealand

Take in the views at Auckland, New Zealand.

Take in the views at Auckland, New Zealand.

Auckland has been called one of the loveliest and most livable cities in the world. Just imagine: a short drive from the cosmopolitan city and you can find the mountains, the countryside or at an isolated beach. The diverse landscape is truly incredible. Two days means you could experience America’s Cup and take in the landscape that inspired Lord of the Rings. A Stroll through Tamaki Hikoi is a fabulous experience if you want to experience Maori culture. Guides from the Ngati Whatua tribe re-tell ancient stories on a tour through Auckland. Along the way guests learn about the history of Auckland and visit the summit of Mount Eden for panoramic views.

Sydney, Australia

From the iconic opera house to the Blue Mountains -- see it all at Sydney!

From the iconic opera house to the Blue Mountains — see it all at Sydney!

Sydney, Australia, was recently rated the number one “bucket list” port by Holland America Line Facebook fans. And there’s no wonder why! Culture, adventure, beach and beauty come together at this coveted city. Visit iconic sights like Bondi Beach, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. Or Discover the Blue Mountains — an UNESCO World Heritage site that features an awesome Grand Canyon-like rock formation among deep valleys and cascading waterfalls.

The overnight call allows guests to visit the iconic Sydney Opera House for an evening performance, an experience that can only happen with more time in port.

Adelaide, South Australia

Australia produces some of the world's finest wines, which can be enjoyed on tour.

Australia produces some of the world’s finest wines, which can be enjoyed on tour.

Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, is a cosmopolitan city of wide boulevards, fertile gardens and diverse architecture. Discover the Anglican Holy Trinity Church and the Parliament House. Explore the collection of Aboriginal, colonial, and Melanesian art at the South Australian Museum. Stroll the historic Adelaide Central Market, or simply relax beneath a fig tree canopy in the Botanic Gardens.

With extra time, a longer tour is possible. Australia is known to produce some of the finest wines in the world, and the Wine Tasting in the Barossa Valley tour shows just why they are so excellent. A scenic 90-minute drive through the rugged Adelaide Hills will bring guests to the Barossa Valley — Australia’s foremost wine-producing region. With more than 150 years of viticultural involvement, the Barossa Valley is home to around 50 wineries. Tours, tastings and an opportunity to purchase the wines you have enjoyed are the highlights of the day.

Fremantle (Perth), Australia

Kangaroos and Namburg Park too! Don't miss a beat at Perth!

Kangaroos and Namburg Park too! Don’t miss a beat at Perth!

Perth’s climate is Mediterranean and its beaches are abundant and uncrowded. History here starts 40,000 years ago when the first Aboriginal people arrived. Modern history starts 39,800 years after that with the arrival of the first Europeans. The natural history is timeless and enduring. Cruise visitors would do well to spend some time at Scarborough or Cottlesloe beaches. Take a trip out to the Swan Valley wine region, then catch the koalas and kangaroos at the Perth Zoo or at Caversham Wildlife Park & River Cruise.

With the overnight call, guests can enjoy the City of Lights Dinner Cruise and Perth’s city skyline after sunset. Guests admire the waterfront and city views from the dinner table while cruising along the Swan River under the stars.

Benoa, Bali, Indonesia

GWVBali

The small village of Benoa is located on the southeastern coast of Bali, and while the town has developed over the past 20 years into a popular cruise destination for visitors, it retains its charming identity as a local fishing village. The calm waters and the beautiful white-sand beaches have made Benoa one of Bali’s most appealing water-sport destinations. For a great all-in-one view check out the East Bali Heritage tour. Guest Vito enjoyed it immensely saying,

“… the sites the history and views were truly wonderful. It’s a beautiful country. The final stop was at Besakih, the Mother Temple of Bali, a sprawling complex of some 20+ individual temples. Worth the trip!”

Singapore

Catch the sunset at Singapore.

Catch the sunset at Singapore.

The sights and sounds of Singapore make it an incredible stop on the Grand World Voyage. Learn about Feng Shui, the ancient art of balance and harmony during the Mysteries of the Orient Tour, or visit the Exotic Jurong Bird Paradise. Set in 50 beautiful acres of landscaped ground, Jurong Bird Park has amassed more than 8,000 exotic birds and 600 species from all over the world. Even as you enter, talkative and brilliantly colored macaws chatter and fuss. There’s opportunity to take in the natural beauty, the cosmopolitan side and the ancient roots of Singapore on a two-day stay.

With the overnight, a trip to the the world-famous Night Safari is a must. It’s the world’s first wildlife park purpose-built to be viewed at night. Set in 98 acres of dense secondary forest, the Night Safari offers visitors the unique experience of observing wildlife in a tropical jungle at night. Through the use of subtle lighting techniques, guests are able to view the 1,000 nocturnal animals of 100 different species in vast natural habitats.

Thilawa, Rangoon, Myanmar

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After more several calls, including the lovely Phuket, Thailand, the ship goes on to spend three days at the port of Thilawa, the gateway to Yangon. There you’ll find stunning pagodas, sunset cruises, traditional Myanmar dances and countless other forms of entertainment and enrichment.

Guests can take take advantage of the extra time and take the Best of Bagan Temples Overnight Tour. After the flight to Bagan, guests visit the Shwezigon Pagoda, the amazing Ananda Temple and Gubyaukgyi Temple (Wetkyi-Inn). Bagan is not only famous for the profusion of pagodas but also for its artistic handicrafts, where the process of making each piece can be seen at a local lacquerware workshop.

Mumbai, India

The Taj Mahal is on many a bucket list!

The Taj Mahal is on many a bucket list!

Another city of contradictions, Mumbai presents itself in two parts. Discover a bustling modern commerce center and bask in the ancient religious iconography. The prolonged stay affords the opportunity to visit the astounding Taj Mahal on a Taj Mahal Overland Adventure that explores the region over four days. Don’t forget to check this one off your bucket list!

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai is unforgettable.

Dubai is unforgettable.

Dubai is an iconic modern marvel to explore. The architecture of the city is like no other. Explore the palm shaped islands, luxurious mansions and astounding skyscrapers and more of Dubai’s Architectural Marvels. Guests Mike and Pat from New Jersey visited and said,

“These folks know how to build a city. You hit all the biggies. The trip to the top of the tallest building is not to be missed. Truly architectural marvels. Some of the most beautiful buildings you will ever see. As cosmopolitan as it gets.”

With the overnight call, guests can take the Arabian Nights: An Evening Safari & Camel Ride tour. Cross the desert of Dubai with photo stops during an exciting dune drive en route to a camel farm. Continue across the desert, stopping to watch the beautiful sunset before reaching a desert campsite. Make the most of this opportunity to ride a camel and try sand boarding. Guests may also want to try out a henna design on their hands or feet. After working up an appetite, enjoy a delicious barbecue dinner and a sheesha (Arabian water pipe). Before returning to the port, watch a belly dancer performing around the campfire by starlight.

Piraeus (Athens), Greece

Athens is the last - certainly not the least - overnight call on the 2015 Grand World Voyage.

Athens is the last – certainly not the least – overnight call on the 2015 Grand World Voyage.

Last but certainly not least of the overnight calls on the Grand World Voyage is the port of Piraeus – gateway to Athens. Milton wrote that Athens was “the eye of Greece, mother of arts and eloquence.” Visit the Parthenon, walk the winding path towards the Acropolis, pass through the Propylaea, and see the Erechtheum temple and the Porch of the Caryatids in the distance. Reinforced by the hand of man, the natural fortress of the Acropolis stands 230 feet above the city. You cannot help but be in awe of the view below.

Venture away from Athens during the overnight on the Delphi & Greek Easter Overnight Tour. Visit the Shrine of Apollo at Delphi, located nearly 2,000 feet up the slopes of Mount Parnassus. Delphi was considered by the ancients to be the physical and spiritual center of the earth. In the Delphi Museum examine such treasures as the Omphalos, which marked the center of the world, and the magnificent bronze Charioteer—one of the finest pieces surviving from the fifth century B.C.

On Day 2, head to Antirio and the village of Ancient Olympia to join in the Greek Easter festivity at the Touris venue. See the preparation of the various roasts (lamb on spit, Kokoretsi & Kontosouvli) and participate in Greek dancing, celebrating the resurrection of Christ. Guests get to experience a traditional Greek Easter feast.

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Don’t forget that between these overnight calls the Grand World Voyage will visit plenty of other exciting destinations. This is a once in a lifetime experience. If you’re unable to join then follow along here on the blog where we’ll share updates from around the world!

Remember that once you book your cruise you can pre-book your shore excursions, dining reservations and make your spa appointments for the Greenhouse Spa & Salon. You can also call the shore excursion call center at 888-425-9376.

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