Tag Archives: Eurodam

History and Old World charm come to life on intimate ports in Europe, like Kotor, Montenegro.
History and Old World charm come to life on intimate ports in Europe, like Kotor, Montenegro.

When Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam explore Europe this summer and fall, both Signature-Class ships will set sail on longer journeys that visit some of the most charming, quaint and lesser-known ports in the region. These itineraries were recently added to the ships’ line-up to add more comprehensive options and to extend the season into the fall when the temperature falls slightly and the crowds diminish … making it an ideal time to visit.

Guests who want to also visit marquee destinations such as Stockholm, Sweden; St. Petersburg, Russia; Venice, Italy; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Barcelona, Spain, need not worry. Those popular jewels are still on the routes. But what makes these itineraries so alluring is that they feature the perfect combination of famous capitals and off-the-beathen-path ports that are on the verge of discovery but still retain their old-world style and ambiance.

From northern Europe to the Mediterranean, join us and explore our picks for the most exciting lesser-known ports on these incredible itineraries.

DRAMATIC LANDSCAPES AWAIT IN NORTHERN EUROPE

Invergordon (Inverness), Scotland
While you might not have heard of Inverness, you probably know about this charming port’s most famous resident … the Loch Ness Monster. Those who are interested can go in search of the monster at splendid Loch Ness — Britain’s deepest freshwater lake — whose murky depths inspire lurid tales of fantastical creatures. The Loch Ness, Water Monsters & Highland Castles tour features Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, Culloden Battlefield and Cawdor Castle — a truly beautiful, traditional medieval castle with exceptionally lovely gardens.

Lock Ness is 23 miles long and only a mile wide. Its deepest point in 754 feet and it contains more fresh water than England and Wales combined.

Lock Ness is 23 miles long and only a mile wide. Its deepest point in 754 feet and it contains more fresh water than England and Wales combined.

Yet, it’s not all about Nessie. Those who are looking to explore Scottish culture can learn about whiskey on a visit to the distillery that produces Glenmorangie, one of Scotland’s favorite malt whiskies. And photographers will relish in the opportunity to capture the Scottish Highlands — indisputably one of the most picturesque and photogenic areas in the U.K. — with the aid of a professional photographer on the Photographic Expedition in the Scottish Highlands tour.

Stavanger, Norway
While Olso and Geiranger are better known Norwegian destinations, Stavanger is a port that’s one of the most beautiful and memorable. Guests might have seen images of Pulpit Rock but not known where to find this iconic location. The answer is Lysefjord, which is accessible from Stavanger. This natural wonder juts out more than 1,500 feet above the sea, and on the Lysefjord: Pulpit Rock Cruise tour guests are able to cruise under it!

Pulpit Rock is one of the most scenic natural wonders in Norway.

Pulpit Rock is one of the most scenic natural wonders in Norway.

Guest Grams said:

The best fjord viewing of the cruise. Although the Ryndam does cruise near to Pulpit Rock, there were other “up close” moments that made this tour worth the money.

Guests who want to climb the rock can do so on the Pulpit Rock Hike Tour. To reach the Pulpit Rock involves a two-hour hike through a variety of different landscapes includeing mountain, forest and marsh with some lovely ponds along the way. The last 600 yards are quite spectacular as you walk along a narrow path with steep cliffs on one side and the Lysefjord far below on the other. Finally, upon arrival at the Pulpit Rock, guests can enjoy fantastic scenery and view the Lysefjord some 1,500 feet below.

Portree (Isle of Skye), Scotland
The mountainous Isle of Skye provides breathtaking vistas from nearly every destination. The largest town on Skye, this port’s harbor is fringed by steep cliffs, and the town’s Gaelic heritage is evident in the local attractions. Harry Potter fans will recognize that the town is home to the fictional Pride of Portree. Everything is a short stroll away within Portree, and nearby Glasgow provides further opportunities for exploration. Visit Dunvegan Castle, stronghold of the Chiefs of MacLeod for nearly 800 years, or Iconic Eilean Donan Castle and the West Highlands. Guest Jeanne had this to say:

There’s plenty of time to visit the castle and roam around the grounds on your own. The guide was very knowledgeable about his land. The scenic drive was awesome.

For the rest of the itinerary details, click HERE.

THE BALTIC BECKONS

In addition to Norway and the British Isles, Eurodam heads to the Baltic next summer. These lovely ports enhance the itineraries, showing the culture and traditions of this stunningly beautiful part of the world.

Tallinn is among the most charming ports in the Baltic.

Tallinn is among the most charming ports in the Baltic.

Tallinn, Estonia
Toompea, the old town, is a thicket of turrets, spires, and onion domes that overlooks the rest of Tallinn and the Gulf of Finland. From the brilliantly preserved All-linn (the lower town) to Pirita — site of the 1980 Olympic Games — there’s so much to see and do at Tallinn. Guests can explore the 16th-century ruins of St. Bridget’s Convent, see the walls and towers that surround the Old Town area, and admire the architecture of St. Kaarli’s Church and the Estonian Opera & Ballet Theater.

For the active adventurer, the Countryside Cycling & A Stroll Through the Old Town tour goes through a forest park on the coast and the picturesque area of Kakumae.

Kiel, Germany
While you might have heard of the Kiel Canal that links the North Sea at Brunsbüttel to the Baltic Sea at Kiel-Holtenau, did you know that Kiel also is a city in Germany? In fact, it’s Germany’s largest passenger port. Offering the perfect blend of urban charm, culture and history, Kiel also serves as the gateway for Hamburg, a beautiful port city on the Elbe River. From Kiel, guests can visit A UNESCO World Heritage Site: Medieval Lubeck & its Famous Marzipan.

Enjoy the medieval ambiance of the Altstadt (Old Town) with its well-known Holsten Gate — a landmark of the city and one of the few relics of the original fortress. Pass the Gothic Rathaus (City Hall), among the oldest in Germany, and one of the first old age homes in Germany — the Heiligen Geist Hospital. See Buddenbrooks House, home of the famous writers Heinrich and Thomas Mann, and admire some of the city’s 82 quaint alleyways.

Guest Dobo highly recommends the tour:

The trip to Lubeck was so interesting. It is not a strenuous trip, as there is plenty of opportunity to rest with walking distances quite short. Our local guide, Yan, was absolutely fantastic! He was knowledgeable, interesting, enthusiastic, and eager to answer individual questions. As he had chosen Lubeck as his home, he had learned a great deal of its history and could tell us stories about the buildings. This was one of our best tours on the trip. We would recommend others to take advantage of this tour and learn about the history of this area, the Hanseatic League, construction methods, and enjoy the local marzipan. Three cheers for Yan!

Visit these ports and more on the Baltic Adventure cruise.

VISIT THE MEDITERRANEAN IN THE FALL

The Europe season has been extended for Nieuw Amsterdam to give guests more options into the fall. It’s the perfect time of year to visit the region, with less tourists and cooler temperatures. Many of the itineraries explore several countries, making it easy for guests to unpack only once while seeing multiple destinations. Imagine waking up in a new country each day, easily traveling from port to port by cruise ship. These smaller ports make the voyage all the more memorable.

Kotor, Montenegro
Kotor is located along one of Montenegro’s most beautiful bays. First settled during the days of ancient Rome, the city today has a well preserved urban center with a vibrant community. Medieval architecture and numerous monuments of cultural heritage have made Kotor a UNESCO listed “World Natural and Historical Heritage Site.” To learn about the city, the Traditional Montenegro tour is an immersive experience.

Kotor is a must-see port on the Mediterranean cruises.

Kotor is a must-see port on the Mediterranean cruises.

In the old village of Lastva, enjoy a brief walking tour to visit a local house and the St. Maria Church. Learn about olive oil production and enjoy a snack of homemade bread, smoked ham, cheese and wine. On display is an exhibition of traditional arts and crafts, and watch a folklore performance by a local group. On returning to Kotor, stop to explore the city that is known as the jewel of Montenegro. The guide will take you on a walking tour that will include a visit to St Triphon’s Cathedral. Guest JerseyGirl praised the tour:

This tour should not be missed. The only difference is that they now have a little hall where they serve the refreshments and do the folklore performance. You will leave this tour feeling that you have seen something that will be a treasured memory. I have never meet such friendly people. Bring your camera and movie camera too!

Salerno, Italy
An attractive Italian city location in the region of Campania, Salerno is a popular destination and a gateway to the beautiful Amalfi Coast. In addition to beautiful beaches for guests who simply want to soak up the sun, visitors can journey to Positano, Capri, Amalfi and the lost city of Pompeii.

Roman emperors such as Caesar Augustus and Tiberius vacationed on the island of Capri, and the magnificent remains of their Roman villas remain today. Capri is a popular destination for artists and jet-setting travelers, although it’s known for its quaint charm and beautiful landscapes.

Gorgeous Capri is known for its chic vibe and stunning scenery.

Gorgeous Capri is known for its chic vibe and stunning scenery.

Pompeii is probably the most well-known of the attractions. Perfectly preserved since the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79, guests learn what the residents were doing at the time of the eruption and gain an insight into the lives of the ancient Romans as you discover baths, theatres, temples, markets and the huge forum.

Alicante, Spain
A dynamic Spanish city with an abundance of attractions, Alicante is a juxtaposition of old-world charm and a busy, buzzy vibe. Modernity runs alongside tradition, and visitors can still find very traditional villages tucked away in the mountains. It’s also known to have some of the best cuisine in Spain. The unbeatable rice dishes are the most typical dish from Alicante.

Alicante features beautiful scenery and amazing cuisine.

Alicante features beautiful scenery and amazing cuisine.

If you want to learn about the area, set out to visit The Castle of Santa Barbara, a 12th century fortress that sits on Mount Benacantil in the center of Alicante. There’s also Iglesia de Santa Maria, a cathedral in a gothic style that was built in the 14th and 16th century over the remains of an old Moorish Mosque. And the co-cathedral of St. Nicholas is the main church in Alicante and exhibits a striking combination of baroque and renaissance features. The Gravina Palace is located in the Old Town of Alicante and is home to the Gravina Museum of Fine Arts. Built between 1748 and 1808, it houses a rich collection of Spanish artworks.

These ports are featured on the 19-day Gems of the Mediterranean cruise that explores seven countries on one itinerary and includes an overnight at Barcelona.

EIGHT SHIPS EXPLORE THE MEDITERRANEAN IN 2015
In addition to these new voyages, Holland America Line will have eight ships in the region for Summer 2015. The Europe cruises continue to focus on destination diversity, timeless appeal and high-quality experiences. The ships explore the entire region on itineraries that include northern Europe and the Norwegian fjords, Iceland and the Baltic; the British Isles; Canary Islands; Italian and French rivieras; Iberian Peninsula; Black Sea; the eastern and western Mediterranean; and transatlantics.

If you’re taking a cruise that visits these ports, you can pre-booked shore excursions so you get the tour of your choice.

Will you head to Europe in 2015? Tell us which off-the-beaten-path port you’re looking forward to visiting in the comments below.

The Santa Barbara Fortress is a highlight of the trolley tour at Banana Coast.
The Santa Barbara Fortress is a highlight of the trolley tour at Banana Coast.

Holland America Line is always working to spice up its cruise itineraries and bring guests new ports. Though the Caribbean has been a longtime cruise destination, there are still new places to discover. Here is one ports new to cruisers, one port new to Holland America Line and once port that’s still not fully on the radar of travelers but should be.

Banana Coast, Honduras

Banana Coast recently opened as mainland Honduras’ first cruise port, and Holland America Line is one of the first cruise lines to call there. Located in the deepwater bay of Trujillo, Honduras, surrounded by mountains, rainforest, and pristine beaches, the port offers a new window into the historic city of Trujillo, Campo del Mar Park, and the outlying region.

Once the Banana export capital of the world — shipping more than 8 million stems annually – Banana Coast and Trujillo have a rich history. Christopher Columbus landed at Trujillo in 1502 and it was established as a Spanish colony in 1524. Through the course of its history the city has been inhabited by the Honduran Garifuna tribe, Dutch, French – and pirates.

The Bay of Trujillo

The Bay of Trujillo

If when you arrive at Banana Coast you feel like adventure is calling, the Jungle ATV tour is the answer. Head to Camp del Mar to begin an off-road trip through the jungle of Honduras. You’ll ride your own 4-wheel all-terrain ATV along winding, narrow jungle paths and through tropical vegetation. You’ll take in the sights and sounds of the jungle as your guide accompanies you through rivers and swamplands.

If a trolley tour is more your style, you’ll love the Historical Trujillo tour. Here you’ll learn about Christopher Columbus’ landing and see the Santa Barbara Fort. You’ll also visit the town square that features the Cathedral of St. John the Baptists, a central plaza and buildings of early Spanish and French colonial origin.

The Santa Barbara Fortress is a highlight attraction at Trujillo.

The Santa Barbara Fortress is a highlight attraction at Trujillo.

The Starfish Bay Snorkel & Beach Break is one of the most popular tours at Banana Coast. It is designed to give everyone a fun and relaxed experience, even if they have never snorkeled before. From the pier you will board a boat and enjoy the spectacular views as you head out to Starfish Bay. After a short snorkel lesson you’ll hop into the water to look at the starfish and other underwater creatures. Afterwards, you’ll head to Casa Kiwi for a beach break and have the chance to enjoy some typical Honduran food.

The Campo del Mar Nature Park and Beach Break tour features 22 acres filled with flora, fauna, and resident wildlife. You can hop on or off the trolley that runs through the park during the day and explore the park’s Botanic Gardens and Orchard areas. Afterward, you can enjoy a beach break at Campo del Mar’s pristine, private beach. MidwestCruiser gave the tour five stars on the Holland America website.

“The Nature Park is beautiful and clean. On the beach, the music was great and the service staff was very friendly. We had a wonderful time. The food was also good. The ideal thing was with HAL being the only ship in port there were no lines and you had plenty of space and had a good opportunity to relax in a beautiful setting on this private beach. The bus ride to the park gives you insight into the true culture of the area. Highly recommend!”

There is also a Behind the Scenes tour offered at Camp del Mar Nature Park where you can enjoy a tour with your guide through the fruit orchard, vegetable garden, and learn about how it all grows. A biologist will give you a behind-the-scenes look at the Animal Rescue Center where you will have an opportunity to meet some of the the animals up close. You’ll also enjoy a delicious lunch under the mango tree canopy and marvel at the artisan displays.

Falmouth, Jamaica

Falmouth is not a new Caribbean destination per say, but it is definitely new to Holland America Line. It is the capital of Trelawny, Jamaica, and located not far from popular Montego Bay. It was one of Jamaica’s busiest ports in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries with a booming export business. Today, Falmouth is home to plenty of great sights including St. Peter’s Anglican Church and the Greenwood Great House. Whether you like to experience a new place by getting an authentic meal or having a thrilling adventure … there’s something for everyone here.

If you are looking for a delicious Jamaican meal, opt for the Taste of Jamaica tour that takes you to the Good Hope Great House. With a menu put together by Al Pacino’s personal chef of old, this experience includes a tasty buffet lunch. Enjoy crisp salad, herb rice and true Jamaican dishes that feature distinctive spices like curried chicken with mango chutney, escovietch fish made with a fresh local catch, and fried plantains — a true Jamaican favorite. For dessert, enjoy the sweet tastes of coconut drops and muffins made with fruits from around the Good Hope Estate. You’ll also have a chance to tour the Great House, built in the 1700s and restored to its original grandeur, and take in some of the 2,000 acres that once featured a working plantation.

TOJandZip

From delicious food to ziplines, Falmouth has something for everyone.

Experience three exciting activities on one excursion with the Tranopy tour. First, on the Sky Explorer chairlift, you’ll enjoy a fun ride up 700 feet through the tropical forest canopy. Next, you’ll enjoy a thrilling time on Bobsled Jamaica — the signature ride that features a gravity-driven plunge through 3,280 feet of twists and turns on a specially designed sled, evoking the glory of the infamous 1988 and 1992 Jamaican Bobsled team. Lastly, you’ll receive a harness for your zip line flight. You’ll take off through the canopy on a series of cables and pulleys interconnected on tree- and land-based platforms. Afterwards you can admire the panoramic views, swim in the infinity pool or enjoy lunch at the restaurant.

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Enjoy a horseback ride through the Caribbean’s beautiful waters.

At Falmouth, you’ll also have the opportunity to saddle up for a Horseback Riding Adventure. After a drive along the scenic coastline you will head to where your riding adventure begins. During your ride, experienced guides will educate you on Jamaica’s rich history, culture, flora and fauna. You’ll love the feel of the refreshing breeze of the Caribbean sea as your companion takes you along the charming coastline overlooking the ocean to Chukka Beach. Robertti gave the tour five stars. Here’s how he described his “unbelievable experience.”

Once we arrived to the ranch, the horses were quickly prepared and we saddled up. We rode for 30-45 minutes through what I (as a first-time rider) thought was exciting terrain. The views of the mountains and jungle were beautiful. The ride took us to a second staging area where the saddles were taken off the horses and we changed into swimwear to remount. We rode the horses into a beautiful cove of the ocean and rode while they ran and swam underwater. It was truly exhilarating! After the swim, the saddles were put back on the horses and we rode 20-30 minutes back to the main ranch. All of the men on the farm were friendly and helpful. One even carried our camera for the first 10 minutes and snapped action shots along the way.

Dunn’s River Falls is one of Jamaica’s most popular attractions, believed to be the site of the famous Battle of Las Chorreras in 1657 between the Spaniards and English for possession of this beautiful island. Today, Dunns River Falls is the perfect place to experience the thrill of climbing a waterfall and enjoying lush tropical foliage of ferns, bamboos, ginger lilies, orchids, a variety of palms and breadfruit trees. You can also take advantage of the soothing effects of the water as it cascades over the rocks and down to the sea to the ‘massage parlor!’

DunnsRiverFalls

Dunn’s River Falls is beautiful from every angle.

You can relax at Falmouth with the Chukka Beach Break, or see more of the island, including one of the Caribbean’s finest antique museums with the Best of Falmouth & Greenwood Great House tour.

Grand Turk, Turks Islands

Grand Turk is the capital island of the famous Turks & Caicos and features the perfect mix of excitement on land and by sea. While it’s not new to Holland America Line, it’s relatively new to the cruise industry and among the most beautiful of all the Caribbean ports. Cockburn Town is the islands’ center piece and features plenty of Colonial-style historical buildings. Here, you can visit the Turks and Caicos National Museum or enjoy shopping. You can also visit nearby Gibb’s Cay, an uninhabited island that is the perfect spot for a day of sun, sand and relaxation. But for one of Grand Turks’ greatest attractions, you’ll have to be ready to get wet!

If you love to SCUBA, you probably already know what you will be doing during a call at Grand Turk: the Certified SCUBA tour. About a quarter mile from the western beaches at Grand Turk, the sea floor drops 7,000 feet. Just at the edge, divers will find the Grand Turk Wall, a world-famous reef that is teeming with incredible saline. Turks & Caicos boasts the third-largest barrier reef in the world, and SCUBA divers can take at least some of it in with the Certified Scuba tour. Guests are outfitted at a dive shop near the port and receive a safety briefing before departing by boat to the dive site. Guests will have the opportunity to dive two different sites on the tour and take advantage of great visibility in the Caribbean’s clear waters. JMWDVM posted a review of the tour on the Holland America website and described it as a “totally terrific two tank dive.”

After a short walk down the beach from the pier, we board a powered catamaran and headed to the first dive site, Fin Bar Reef. The dive was a follow-the-divemaster with two groups of six buddied up. Down to 75 ft for 40 minutes on the wall we saw nurse sharks, plenty of reef fish and even a turtle. The second dive was to 55 ft for about 45 minutes with appropriate surface interval. Coral Gardens has beautiful open coral heads, fish and another turtle who followed us up to the surface.

GTunderwater

However you see it, there’s plenty of beautiful wildlife in Grand Turk’s clear waters.

If you don’t dive but still want to experience what divers from all over the world go to Grand Turk to see, take advantage of the Semi-Sub Exploration tour. You will cruise up the west coast of Grand Turk along the famous wall in the Oasis Yellow Semi-Submarine. Large windows provide full views of marine life along the way and the crew will point out different species of marine life. You will see a variety of stingrays, grouper, sharks, and schools of Caribbean fish, all while staying dry aboard your semi-sub.

If you want to see what Grand Turk has to offer shoreside, the Historic Grand Turk by Trolley Train tour is a great experience. The trolley departs the pier toward the historic town where your guide provides geographical and historical information about Turks & Caicos. You’ll pass the John Glen memorial and salt salinas as you learn about the island’s arid climate and the plant and wildlife it supports. Your tour continues along historic Duke Street to Front Street where you will have free time to snap photos or browse the local gift shops.

GTTrolley

Take in plenty of Grand Turk with a tour on the trolley, including the Grand Turk lighthouse.

In February, March and April of this year, ms Ryndam will call at Banana Coast on a seven-day Western Caribbean cruise, roundtrip Tampa, Fla. The ship also calls at Key West, Fla.; Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala; and Costa Maya, Mexico.

ms Westerdam will sail a seven-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary roundtrip Fort Lauderdale in October and November that features a call at Grand Turk, as well as Half Moon Key — another Holland America fan favorite; San Juan, Puerto, Rico; and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

With a 14-day Eastern/Western Collector cruise on ms Eurodam in October or November you can enjoy Falmouth; Grand Turk; and other excellent Caribbean ports including Georgetown, Cayman Islands; and Philipsburg, St. Maarten, among others.

If you’re taking a cruise that visits these ports, don’t forget that the shore excursions can be pre-booked so you get the tour of your choice.

Have you visited any of these ports? Tell us what you did in the comments below.

Guest Michael McNerney was grateful for Rizi and Ari, who made his cruise to Alaska extra special.
Guest Michael McNerney was grateful for Rizi and Ari, who made his cruise to Alaska extra special.

Cruises offer guests the opportunity to travel to some of the most beautiful places in the world while being treated to caring service and making memories with loved ones. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States, and across the country guests are counting their blessings. In honor of the holiday Holland America Line asked Facebook fans if there was a special crew member, fabulous destination or other Holland America Line experience for which they are grateful.

The question was met with a resounding ‘yes!’ Guests were most thankful for the people that made their experiences so meaningful. Warm memories of exceptional Holland America Line crew members and family gatherings along with anecdotes and images, poured forth. Also noted were the beauty of Venice, heavenly Half Moon Cay, St. Kitts, Hawaii and astounding Alaska.

Photos shared by Mallemolen Poots, Lucy Goei and Greg Krysia Moyle.

Photos shared by Mallemolen Poots, Lucy Goei and Greg Krysia Moyle.

Several guests mentioned Hunky Dorey, the server with a great talent for remembering names, and Jean-Pierre, the unforgettable dining room host on Volendam. Margadana and Yanuar Dwi — among the best dining room managers at sea — Lawrence the charming singing wine steward and Eric Bob the fabulous dining room supervisor were all praised. Some recalled inside jokes and bonding moments with their buddies onboard. Like Mallemolen Poots who wrote,

“Cheers Bouzie Bouzie from ms Rotterdam! He brought me cold beer and always made me laugh! For bouzie: woensdag gehaktdag.”

Lucy Goei mentioned Paulus from housekeeping who is hilarious. Others were thankful for cabin stewards Wisnu, Jay and Putu that dazzled on Nieuw Amsterdam, along with pairs like Mus and Ali who were ‘the greatest’ on the Alaskan Cruise on Statendam, Ari and Kolich from Oosterdam or DJ and Lu from Ryndam who helped to make Darla Isbell’s 50th anniversary cruise more memorable.

Holland America Line and its guests are grateful for the fabulous crew. Ozgur Turnuklu shared this photo of members of the Rotterdam team.

Holland America Line and its guests are grateful for the fabulous crew. Ozgur Turnuklu shared this photo of members of the Rotterdam team.

Sea days are made all the more pleasant thanks to Holland America Line’s professional entertainers. Jazzy Jeff Davis, the DJ that makes cruising fun; Lucky Lee the awesome entertainer from Noordam’s piano bar and David Anthony, the piano bar singer on Prinsendam who Margaret Chute credited with countless hours of good times.

Many echoed the sentiment that the crew on Holland America Line goes above and beyond to make sure their guests are enjoying their vacations.

Emmy Banning said she is grateful for Henry, the waiter on Oosterdam last September who was thoughtful and insightful. Henry went out of his way to accommodate dietary needs and gave special attention to Emmy’s guest that was recovering from a stroke.

“Full marks for Henry!” she said.

Scott and Marty Lara pose with Stan Kuppens, hotel manager, ms Eurodam.

Scott and Marty Lara pose with Stan Kuppens, hotel manager, ms Eurodam.

The hope is that all goes well in travel, but in case of conflict Holland America Line professionals have been known to rise to the occasion. Scott Lara, an avid mariner, mentioned that he was grateful for Stan Kuppens, the hotel director on ms Eurodam. A friend they were traveling with had to cut her trip short due to a medical issue and Mr. Kuppens went the extra mile to help return her to the states. She recovered quickly and Lara maintains a friendship with Mr. Kuppens to this day.

“Last year on the Eurodam on a Canada to Ft Lauderdale repositioning cruise we had to disembark in Bar Harbor due to a family emergency. Our Cabin Steward Putu helped us get off the ship by assisting with our luggage, some pieces were bigger than he was.” – Michael Lewis

Guests were also grateful for the memories made while cruising and the time spent with loved ones on Holland America Line. Touching stories emerged of togetherness, like Rex Parker who said, “As the holiday season comes upon us I keep thinking of my last trip to Alaska in September 2012 on HAL with my parents. We lost my step-dad earlier this year and as I wrap myself in memories the week we spent cruising Alaska on the Westerdam keeps coming to mind as it was such a fun and special trip for all of us enhanced by the wonderful Westerdam staff and crew.”

Precious memories with Holland America Line shared by David Mellichamp and Linda Hansell.

Precious memories with Holland America Line shared by David Mellichamp and Linda Hansell.

Linda Hansell shared a story of special times onboard with her mother:

“Years ago we had a waiter in training while cruising with my Mom. He was trying so very hard to please. During one of the meals we hid the silver after he had so carefully arranged each piece. You should have seen his face when everything was missing.

“We later cruised on the same ship hoping to find Mom’s friend, and took a picture my Mom treasured of them together, just on the chance he would be there. Luckily, he was.

“I no longer have my Mom, but will always carry fond memories of a very special young man.”

Other guests were thankful for having spent anniversaries, birthdays and vow renewals with Holland America Line. David Mellichamp wrote on behalf of his family. He said that his vow renewal at Half Moon Cay was a day to remember forever thanks to the staff of Westerdam, especially Buzz, Nickie, Diane, Dr. Nancy and Phil.

Family bonding is certainly on the minds of many during this season. Carla Vleugels mentioned her daughter Lynn who is working onboard Volendam as a cadet, and Will Dean Pham who offered props to his parents.

“One of my blessings is my parents who have taken me on Holland America Line three times!!!! And I’m only 14. I also thank the crew, service and food on your line. You guys are just amazing.” – Will Dean Pham

Photos shared by Jackie Buonocore Ferriso, Dianne Dundon Betzel, Joanne Spirito Stigerts and Stephen Fowler.

Photos shared by Jackie Buonocore Ferriso, Dianne Dundon Betzel, Joanne Spirito Stigerts and Stephen Fowler.

All in all folks are grateful for intangibles in their Holland America Line experience. Like Marjorie Shenkir who got something back from cruising.

“I am thankful for Scotty, my personal trainer aboard my Panama cruise Spring 2014. He got me started on the Rennaisance of my life! I’ve never been fitter, happier or healthier!” she said.

Jo Ann Cheek Baker said the fun time she had with Holland America Line left her glowing.

“Three older women, me included, took the eleven day land and sea cruise two years ago. It was the best vacation any of us ever had,” she shared. “Especially the cruise. Just can’t say enough about it only if we had a chance we would do it again. Thank you for making us feel young again. And special.”

Debbie Gulnick summed it up nicely when she said,

“Whenever I am on a Holland America Line ship I always feel at home and there is always someone I know. They are a part of my extended family, and its like going home every time I am on a HAL ship.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!”

Do you have a Holland America Line experience for which you’re grateful? Share below!

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Holland America Line's 2015 Europe season brings new itineraries, maiden calls, and plenty of exciting options.
Holland America Line's 2015 Europe season brings new itineraries, maiden calls, and plenty of exciting options.

Holland America Line’s 2015 Europe season is shaping up to be one of the best yet. With eight ships in the region, 62 unique itineraries, overnight visits to 21 of the most popular cities in the region and four maiden calls, the numbers add up to the perfect time to explore this incredible continent. Whether you want to take in some history, culture, famous sights or all of the above, travelers have more options than ever before.

The season will focus on diverse destinations, timeless appeal and incredible experiences. The itineraries — ranging from seven to 50 days — will include northern Europe and the Norwegian fjords, Iceland and the Baltic, the British Isles, Canary Islands, Italian and French Riviera’s, Iberian Peninsula, Black Sea, the eastern and western Mediterranean, and transatlantics.

Enjoy more of destinations with overnight calls at places like St. Petersburg, Russia, and Copenhagen, Denmark.

Enjoy more of destinations with overnight calls at places like St. Petersburg and Copenhagen.

The diverse fleet that will explore the region includes ms Eurodam and ms Nieuw Amsterdam — Holland America Line’s two Signature-Class ships — as well as ms Maasdam, ms Prinsendam, ms Rotterdam, ms Ryndam and ms Veendam. New to Europe in 2015 is the 1,916-guest ms Zuiderdam, which will sail in the Mediterranean.

“Having eight ships in Europe enables us to reach every corner of the region — from the top of Norway to the beaches of Turkey and everywhere in between,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs. “The beauty of Europe is that there truly is something for everyone, so it’s the ideal family cruise, romantic getaway or a vacation with friends.”

If you love “collecting” new destinations, these four maiden calls are ideal to visit in 2015: Alta, Norway, the northernmost town in the world; Paamiut (Frederikshåb), Greenland; Igoumenitsa, Greece; and Canakkale, Turkey.

Guests will have plenty of embarkation options with convenient roundtrip cruises from eight ports: Barcelona, Spain; Boston, Mass.; Civitavecchia (Rome) and Venice, Italy; Copenhagen, Denmark; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Harwich (London), England; and Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

For the ultimate European experience, many of the cruises can be extended into Collectors’ Voyages ranging from 14 to 35 days. These artfully crafted longer journeys combine back-to-back itineraries, enabling guests to visit more ports and spend extra time exploring centuries of art, history and culture.

Funchal, Portugal, is one of the Iberian Peninsula's most stunning destinations.

Funchal, Portugal, is one of the Iberian Peninsula’s most stunning destinations.

Notable New Itineraries:

18-Day Canary Islands Discovery
The popular itinerary returns in 2015 on Rotterdam departing April 21 on a roundtrip Rotterdam route. The ship visits the island of Funchal and explores ports in Spain, Portugal and northern Africa. Guests also enjoy an overnight call at Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the largest and most diverse city on all seven of the Canary Islands, and home to the largest volcano in the world — El Teide.

21-Day Mediterranean Adventure
If you’re looking to sail Ryndam in Europe before the ship departs the fleet, this cruise is your last chance. Ryndam sails from Harwich (London) to Venice Sept. 12, visiting ports in Spain and Portugal before venturing into the Mediterranean Sea. Once there, guests are treated to calls at exciting cities in Italy, Greece, Croatia and Montenegro. Guests with less time can embark on a segment of this three-week journey ranging from 10 to 20 days. Following this cruise, the ship sets sail for Singapore on its last voyage for Holland America Line, a 28-day Far East Explorer.

The 21-day Mediterranean Adventure let's you get up close with some of the region's most stunning landmarks, including San Marco's Basilica in Venice, the Colosseum in Rome, the Leaning Tower of Pisa from Livorna and Pompeii in Naples.

The 21-day Mediterranean Adventure let’s you get up close with some of the region’s most stunning landmarks, including San Marco’s Basilica in Venice, the Colosseum in Rome, the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy and Pompeii in Naples.

14-Day Northern Isles
Ryndam departs June 20 and August 1 on a roundtrip Harwich (London) itinerary that showcases the best of Iceland with six calls throughout the country, as well as three calls in Norway. In addition to visits to key “bucket list” ports such as Iceland’s Reykjavik and Akureyri, and Norway’s Bergen, the ship spends three days of scenic cruising through some of the region’s most striking fjords and landscapes.

See why Reykjavik (top) and Akureyri are on almost everyone's bucket list.

See why Reykjavik (top) and Akureyri are on almost everyone’s bucket list.

Unique Experiences:

Holland America Line’s Europe itineraries enable guests to be among the few to cross the Arctic Circle and experience the midnight sun while visiting some of the northern-most cities in the world. Guests can take a dip in the famous “Blue Lagoon” during a call at Reykjavik, pay a visit to the Rock Carvings at Alta, go on a “seal watch” at Paamiut and look for the seals gathering in the Labrador Sea, or enjoy some local wine and cheese while taking in the stunning vistas from the port citadel at Calvi, Corsica. And on Rotterdam’s 14-day Northern Lights cruise departing September 12, guests will have the best opportunity to witness the Northern Lights.

Culture Comes Aboard with “On Location” Programming

On each Europe cruise, Holland America Line’s “On Location” enrichment program brings local traditions, culinary tastes and cultural experiences to life onboard to deepen guests’ appreciation of the region. Guests might enjoy a Turkish Taraf with live belly dancers, Nordic Jazz and Food Festival, German Bierfest with a live “oompah” band, regional beer and wine tastings, cultural cooking demonstrations, special tapas sail-away parties and more.

If you plan to join Holland America Line in Europe in 2015, don’t forget that shore excursions can be pre-booked so you get the tour of your choice.

Which European ports of call are you most excited to see next year? Tell us in the comments section below!

Eurodam in St. Thomas

Holland America Line’s ms Eurodam Achieves Seventh Consecutive Perfect Score of 100 on United States Public Health Inspection

The Caribbean boasts some of the finest snorkeling opportunities in the world.
The Caribbean boasts some of the finest snorkeling opportunities in the world.

It’s all about sun, sand and surf as Holland America Line gets ready to sail into the 2014-15 Caribbean season this fall and winter. After spending time in Alaska and Europe, nine ships in the fleet are preparing to make their repositioning cruises to the turquoise waters of the tropical Caribbean where powdery beaches, balmy breezes and the award-winning private island of Half Moon Cay await.

From October 2014 through April 2015, ms Eurodam, ms Maasdam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Noordam, ms Ryndam, ms Westerdam and ms Zuiderdam sail regular Caribbean voyages, while ms Amsterdam and ms Prinsendam each sail one December holiday cruise in the region. The ships feature more than 10 different seven-, 10-, 11- and 14-day itineraries that can be combined into longer Collectors’ Voyages ranging from 14 to 25 days.

On all cruises sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, guests will get to visit Half Moon Cay, the line’s private Bahamian island. While Holland America Line is committed to keeping 96 percent of its pristine private island wild, Half Moon Cay offers everything you need for a day of play. Park yourself in an air-conditioned cabana along a two-mile crescent of gorgeous white beach. Visit Stingray Cove to feed and learn more about the gentle creatures. Ride a horse to a deserted beach and into the surf. Or, take the kids to Half Moon Lagoon, the island’s aqua park and children’s playground.

All roundtrip Fort Lauderdale itineraries include a call at Half Moon Cay (top), the line's private island. Other calls may include St. Thomas, bottom right, and Grand Cayman.

All roundtrip Fort Lauderdale itineraries include a call at Half Moon Cay (top), the line’s private island. Other calls may include St. Thomas, bottom right, and Grand Cayman.

Roundtrip Fort Lauderdale Itineraries
During the season, Eurodam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, Westerdam and Zuiderdam will sail a series of seven-day eastern and western Caribbean itineraries that can be combined to form a 14-day Collectors’ Voyage spanning both regions. Maasdam sails seven- and 10-day eastern routes, as well as longer 11- and 14-day southern itineraries. Noordam also features 10- and 11-day southern Caribbean cruises ideal for guests looking for a longer vacation.

Are you ready to sink your toes into the warm golden sand?

Are you ready to sink your toes into the warm golden sand?

In addition to the 14-day Collectors’ Voyages, the itineraries can be combined to form a diverse range of options, including an 18-day southern and western cruise on Noordam, a 21-day southern and eastern option on Maasdam and a 25-day nonrepeating double-southern route on Maasdam.

New for 2015, Noordam, Eurodam and Ryndam have added more dates to their already-robust schedules, giving guests expanded options to choose from.

Grand Turk is known to have some of the clearest waters in the world.

Grand Turk is known to have some of the clearest waters in the world.

Roundtrip Tampa Itineraries
Ryndam spends the Caribbean season cruising roundtrip from Tampa on seven-day western and 14-day southern itineraries. The two options can be combined to form a 21-day western/southern Caribbean Collectors’ Voyage. The ship makes a maiden call at Banana Coast, Honduras, and also visits Puerto Rico, Antigua, St. Lucia, Aruba, Curaçao, Guatemala, Mexico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Key West, Fla.

Tampa itineraries visit ports in (from left) Aruba, Guatemala and Curacao.

Tampa itineraries visit ports in (from left) Aruba, Guatemala and Curacao.

Celebrate the Season with a Festive Holiday Cruise
For travelers who like to get away from the hustle, stress and chill of December, the holiday season is a special time onboard. A total of 15 holiday sailings will ply the warm waters of the Caribbean on itineraries ranging from seven to 25 days. Several non-repeating itineraries can be combined to form a grand Holiday Collectors’ Voyage.

Guests looking to explore the Caribbean on Prinsendam and Amsterdam during the holidays can embark on their only Caribbean sailings of the season. Prinsendam leaves Dec. 18 on a roundtrip Fort Lauderdale cruise to the southern Caribbean. The 16-day itinerary includes 10 ports and stretches from Half Moon Cay to Tobago. Departing Dec. 22, Amsterdam sails a roundtrip Fort Lauderdale cruise on a 14-day southern Caribbean cruise.

During the holiday cruises, guests can take part in a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, enjoy traditional holiday meals with all of the trimmings and indulge in a special Royal Dutch High Tea with fanciful holiday cookies and pastries. The ships’ international crew chorus performs a magical holiday show, while caroling and sing-alongs take place around the ship. Kids will delight in a visit from Santa Clause and holiday-themed crafts.

holiday

The New Year’s Eve sailings are the ideal setting to ring in a new year, featuring a festive holiday ball with a champagne toast. Prior to the ball, book a special evening at the Pinnacle Grill to celebrate all of the good things to come over a meal of caviar and filet mignon. You can pre-book your Pinnacle Grill dinner by clicking HERE.

So whether you’re looking to get away for the holidays, or just get away, the laid-back vibe, warm weather and beautiful beaches of the Caribbean are the ideal escape this winter.

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Have you taken a Caribbean cruise? What did you like best about the destination? Tell us in the comments below!

The cloisters at Lisbon's Jeronimos Monastery are an impressive display of architecture.
The cloisters at Lisbon's Jeronimos Monastery are an impressive display of architecture.

If you’re looking to cruise to one of the oldest cities in the world and the oldest city in western Europe, there’s no shortage of history in Lisbon, Portugal! The city is rich in architecture and also is crossed by historical boulevards and monuments along the main thoroughfares. There is a unique beauty when strolling along the waterfront and riding one of the historic trams through the winding alleyways of the city.

Come along on an exploration of Lisbon that highlights some of the “must-sees” in this European cruise capital.

Rossio Square is a central point in Lisbon.

Rossio Square is a great meeting place in Lisbon.

A visit to Rossio Square is the perfect starting point for your exploration of Lisbon. The Rossio has been a meeting place for people of Lisbon for centuries. Some of the cafés and shops of the square date from the 18th century, like the Café Nicola, where poet Manuel Maria Barbosa du Bocage used to meet friends on a regular basis. Other traditional shops include the Pastelaria Suíça and the Ginjinha, where the typical Lisbon spirit (Ginjinha) can be tasted.

The Belém Tower is one of Lisbon's iconic sites.

The Belém Tower is one of Lisbon’s iconic sites.

One of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Lisbon, the Belém Tower is absolutely worth a visit. The tower was commissioned by King John II to be part of a defense system at the mouth of the Tagus River and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. The 16th century tower is considered one of the main works of the Portuguese late Gothic-Manueline style. This is especially apparent in its elaborate rib vaulting, crosses of the Order of Christ, armillary spheres and twisted rope, common with the nautical, organic nature of this style.

The Jeronimos Monastery is some of the most impressive architecture in all of Europe.

The Jeronimos Monastery is some of the most impressive architecture in all of Europe.

The Jeronimos Monastery, also known as the Hieronymites Monastery, is a 16th-century architectural masterpiece designed in Gothic-Manueline style and built to commemorate the discoveries of the Portuguese navigators. Originally the home for the Hieronymite religious order, it was built by the Infante Henry the Navigator around 1459 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 along with the Belem Tower.

The Discoveries Monument was erected to honor Henry the Navigator.

The Discoveries Monument was erected to honor Henry the Navigator.

The Discoveries Monument was built in Lisbon in honor of Henry the Navigator, who led Portugal’s discovery expeditions into the New World during he 15th century. It was designed in 1939 by the Portuguese architect Jose Angelo Cottinelli Telmo alongside sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida. Initially intended as a temporary structure to mark the opening of the Portuguese World Fair that took place in Lisbon in June 1940, the original structure was demolished after the exhibition, however it was decided by Royal Decree in 1958 that a permanent structure should be erected and an exact replica was created.

Praça do Comércio is a a highlight of Lisbon.

Praça do Comércio is a a highlight of Lisbon. Courtesy of wikipedia.

Welcoming seagoing traders for centuries, the impressive Praça do Comércio (or Commercial Square) was the former site of the Royal Ribeira Palace before it was destroyed in the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. The square is aptly named to indicate its new function in the economy of Lisbon. The symmetrical buildings of the square were filled with government bureaus that regulated customs and port activities. The main piece of the ensemble was the equestrian statue of King José I, inaugurated in 1775 in the center of the square. This bronze statue, the first monumental statue dedicated to a King in Lisbon, was designed by Joaquim Machado de Castro, Portugal’s foremost sculptor of the time.

Many of these sights are featured on cruise shore excursions, and descriptions, reviews and pre-booking can all be done online.

If you’re looking to take a cruise that calls at Lisbon, Holland America Line has 29 voyages on ms Eurodam, ms Prinsendam, ms Rotterdam and ms Ryndam between now and through 2015 to this exciting city. Will you be joining us?

Have you ever visited Lisbon? Tell us about your adventures below.