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Holland America Line cruises to destinations across the globe to bring cruisers the most authentic, enriching and memorable travel experiences possible. One of these destinations is Europe, and while most people’s minds instantly jump to the Mediterranean, there’s another region of this enticing continent that is not to be overlooked.

Northern Europe features diverse and enchanting landscapes filled with natural beauty, historic legends, astounding architecture, enriching culture and so much more. From the colorful Northern Lights that dance in the sky and its breathtaking system of fjords, to the world-famous Guinness beer factory and the mysterious Lake Loch Ness, these are our picks for the most memorable experiences to be had on a cruise to northern Europe.

1. Cruise Through a System of Awe-Inspiring Fjords

The Scandinavian countries of northern Europe feature bountiful fjords so vast and expansive they’ll take your breath away. Some of our favorites include Aurlandsfjord, Sognefjord and Geirangerfjord, and many itineraries will take you right into the heart of them. Cruisers can take a seat on their verandahs or out on deck for a dramatic show of cascading waterfalls, refreshing mountain air and lush green vegetation as they sail through the calm waters once dominated by the Vikings.

Geirangerfjord

If you long to experience these fjords up close, one of our favorite itineraries is the 14-Day North Cape featuring scenic cruising through Sognefjord, Trondheimsfjord and Geirangerfjord.

2. Get a Front-Row Seat for the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights are a truly spectacular performance put on by Mother Nature that few people get the chance to see. There’s no better way to witness these vibrant colors dance across the sky than from the deck of a Holland America Line ship!

Northern Lights

This awe-inspiring natural occurrence happens when charged particles from the sun penetrate the earth’s magnetic shield causing electrons in the atoms to move to a higher state of energy. When the electrons drop back down to a lower state of energy, they release what’s called a photon, which are the lights we witness in the sky.

If you dream of experiencing the Northern Lights, we offer many itineraries that head into the Arctic Circle of northern Europe like the 21-Day Viking Sagas & North Cape cruise.

3. Climb the Rooftops of Stockholm for Panoramic Views

The Sensational Rooftop Walk & Stockholm’s Old Town is such a uniquely epic shore excursion, it’s classified as one of few in our Encore Collection.

Stockholm Rooftop

Enter the Old Parliament Building and take the elevator up to the top floor and, via the attic, step out into the open. Buckle up with a safety harness and take your first steps along the narrow rooftop path offering fantastic views and fascinating stories that your guide will share en route.

This rooftop tour is conducted according to rigorous safety standards. Even though the height (up to 130 feet) may be a challenge to some, this is the perfect starting point to learn of the history of Stockholm and take in some breathtaking views.

4. Enjoy a Cold Brew at the Guinness Factory

World-renowned Guinness Beer has a factory in Dublin, Ireland. And if you’re traveling on a Holland America Line cruise, we offer a shore excursion that will give you the ultimate Guinness experience.

A Taste of Dublin: The Guinness Experience tells a dramatic story that begins more than 250 years ago. This adventure starts the moment you walk through the door. As you make your way through the Storehouse Museum, you’ll discover the secret recipe, the process and the passion that it takes to make Guinness beer. The tour ends at Gravity, the sky bar where you will be treated to a pint of Guinness.

5. Discover the Secrets of Lake Loch Ness

I’m sure you’ve heard legend of Lake Loch Ness and its mysterious resident, the Loch Ness Monster. Explore the area on the Loch Ness, Water Monsters & Highland Castles tour to see for yourself if the legend is fact or fiction!

Loch Ness

Also on this tour, you’ll have the chance to visit the 14th-century Urquhart Castle on the edge of the loch that boasts of being one of the most picturesque areas in Scotland. Then head to Cawdor Castle; a truly beautiful medieval castle with exceptionally lovely gardens.

6. Witness The Cascading Seven Sisters Waterfall

Located along Geirangerfjord is an awe-inspiring natural beauty. The Seven Sisters Waterfall in Norway features seven different streams of clear, cascading water, free falling roughly 820 feet from a rocky cliff.

Seven Sisters

The Seven Sisters is a truly spectacular sight, perfect for a photo opportunity and some fresh air!

7. Appreciate the Arts at St. Petersburg, Russia

St. Petersburg features two truly unbeatable displays of the arts: The Hermitage Museum and the Evening Ballet at the Mariinsky Theater.

The Mariinsky Theater opened in 1860 and became the pre-eminent music theater of late 19th century Russia. It is renowned for its opera and ballet companies; home to the Mariinsky Ballet, Mariinsky Opera and Mariinsky Orchestra. Its nightly performances are simply spectacular.

Mariinsky

We offer a special opportunity for our guests to enjoy the Hermitage Museum. When cruises call at St. Petersburg, the museum opens at night for an evening viewing exclusively Holland America Line guests. Ranking among the world’s finest museums, the Hermitage consists of almost three million exhibits featuring masterpieces by Raphael, Titian, Giorgione, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.

Hermitage

8. The Little Mermaid Welcomes You to Copenhagen

Just off Copenhagen’s sparkling shores is a statue of a beloved storybook character — the Little Mermaid! This beautiful bronze sculpture rests on a rock by the waterside based on the fairytale by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.

Little Mermaid

You can catch this work of art and snap a picture with her on the Glimpse of Copenhagen & Tivoli Gardens shore excursion.

9. Discover Maritime Archeology at Stockholm’s Vasa Museum

Visit the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, on the Stockholm Sights & the Vasa Museum tour. Get a close look at this amazing 17-century warship and the pride of ancient Sweden’s mighty navy. The Vasa sank in Stockholm’s inner harbor on her maiden voyage in 1628 and was not discovered again until 1956. It was salvaged in 1961 and then painstakingly restored to much of its original magnificence.

Vasa

10. Kiss The Blarney Stone at Cork, Ireland

The Kiss the Blarney Stone in County Cork tour offers a chance to travel to Blarney Castle to see its legendary limestone wall. According to the legend, those who kiss the stone are gifted with the skill of eloquence and flattery “sweetened by humor and flavored by wit.”

This tour also includes a visit to the 18th-century “rock close” garden that is believed to be the remains of a Druid site, a visit to the Blarney Woolen Mill to browse Irish clothing and crafts, and finish it off by enjoying a traditional Irish coffee.

11. Visit the Book Of Kells At Dublin

The Dublin Highlights shore excursion transports you to Trinity College where you’ll visit the library that holds the famous Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is a hand-illuminated manuscript of the gospels. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a magnificent piece of history in real life. This shore excursion finishes with a tour of the city including the Dublin Castle and many beautifully detailed cathedrals.

Book of Kells

Northern Europe is a unique destination laced with beautiful landscapes, historic sites, art, culture and so much more. It’s a one-of-a-kind region not to be missed! Browse our many different itineraries ranging from seven to 34 days.

If you’re interested in cruising to this fascinating destination, there’s never been a better time to book. Our Anniversary Sale is on from now until June 1, 2016, offering savings up to $1,000 and reduced deposits. In addition, guests who book with our Anniversary Sale will receive “3 Free” per stateroom: a free $100 beverage card, free gratuities, and free or reduced fares for third and fourth guests. Guests who book a suite will receive 200 internet minutes and up to $500 in onboard spending money in conjunction with base offers.

And remember, all of your tours can be pre-booked so you don’t miss out on your dream shore excursion. Click HERE to book now!

Have you ever visited northern Europe? What was your favorite highlight? Tell us in the comments below!

The Great Wall of China is a site not to be missed on voyages that feature the opportunity to visit.
The Great Wall of China is a site not to be missed on voyages that feature the opportunity to visit.

A cruise to the Far East is an incredible awakening of the senses. Spices linger in the air, markets bustle with an eclectic array of sounds, and the eyes dance looking at the abundance of golden Buddhas and colorful temples. Holland America Line knows that the Orient is on the bucket list of many travelers, and increased sailings in 2016 will allow even more guests to experience this magical and mysterious part of the world while exploring in pampering comfort and style.

Both Rotterdam and Volendam will spend significant time in Asia this year, with Rotterdam currently sailing an epic 89-Day Passage to the Far East voyage roundtrip from Southampton, England, and Volendam sailing a series of fall cruises. So if you’re looking for a memorable adventure that will introduce you to one of the most culturally rich and fascinating parts of the world, join us in the Far East this year.

Rotterdam’s 89-Day Passage to the Far East Voyage

Although Rotterdam’s 89-Day Passage to the Far East voyage is departing today, there’s still plenty of time to book a segment on this amazing adventure. Sailing roundtrip from Southampton, the journey will take guests to 34 ports in 18 countries. Highlighting the cruise are two transits of the Suez Canal, several late-night departures and an astounding eight overnight calls at some of Asia’s most iconic cities, allowing for more time ashore to take overland and visit the region’s extensive collection of historical and notable landmarks.

In addition to port favorites like Malaga, Spain; Piraeus (Athens), Greece; Dubai, U.A.E.; Cochin, India; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; guests also will visit lesser-known jewels like Mangalore, India; Hambantota, Sri Lanka; Komodo Island, Indonesia, home of the infamous Komodo Dragon; and Ajaccio, Corsica, France.

The Bagan Temples are best seen via a majestic hot air balloon ride.

The Bagan Temples are best seen via a majestic hot air balloon ride.

Overnight calls include Thilawa (Rangoon), Myanmar, offering enough time for a visit to the Bagan Temples; Bali, Indonesia; Surabaya, Indonesia; Colombo, Sri Lanka, with its amazing Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage; Mumbai (Bobay), India; and Aquaba, Jordan, where a visit to Petra is an unforgettable experience.

Guests on the full voyage will have the pleasure of two overnight calls at Singapore. The famous Raffles Hotel with its Singapore Sling and the Night Safari are just two adventures guests can experience with the extended time in port.

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

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

It’s not too late to join the adventure! Travelers looking to join a segment of the cruise can embark Jan. 31 at Dubai for a 17-day voyage to the first overnight call at Singapore; Feb. 17 at Singapore for a 49-Day cruise back to Southampton; Feb. 17 for a shorter 16-day segment roundtrip Singapore; March 4 at Singapore for a 33-day segment back to Southampton; or March 4 at Singapore for a 34-day cruise back to Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Volendam Spends the Fall Season in Asia
Travelers looking for further Far East explorations can embark Volendam on one (or more!) of the ship’s cruises next fall. Starting in October 2016, guests can take shorter cruises or combine two back-to-back 12- or 14-day sailings to form a longer Collectors’ Voyage for a more in-depth exploration.

Volemdam’s shorter cruises include:

12-Day Indonesian Discovery roundtrip from Singapore to Jakarta, Semarang, Surabaya, Komodo Island, Lembar, Bali and Probolinggo, all in Indonesia. A highlight of this cruise is the call at Semarang and the opportunity to visit Borobudur, world’s largest Buddhist temple.

The impressive Komodo dragons await on Komodo Island.

The impressive Komodo dragons await on Komodo Island.

14-Day Far East Discovery between Hong Kong and Singapore, with calls at Koh Samui and Laem Chabang (overnight), Thailand; Sihanoukville, Cambodia; and Phu My, Nha Trang, Da Nang and Halong Bay, Vietnam.

14-day China and Japan voyage from Yokohama (Tokyo), Japan, to Hong Kong, China, with calls at Kagoshima and Nagasaki, Japan; Jeju City, South Korea; and overnight calls at Xingang (Beijing) and Shanghai, China.

Asia Collage

The above voyages can be combined to for several longer Collectors’ Voyages, including a 28-Day China & Japan and Far East Discovery Collectors’ Voyage; 28-Day Far East and Indonesian Discovery Collectors’ Voyage; and a 26-Day Far East & Indonesian Discovery Collectors’ Voyage.

On a Collectors' Voyage that calls at Semarang, be sure to visit Borobudur.

On a Collectors’ Voyage that calls at Semarang, be sure to visit Borobudur.

Make 2016 the year that you set sail across the world and explore the wonders of the Far East on Rotterdam or Volendam. With the View & Verandah promotion going on now, there’s no better time to book. We’re offering stateroom upgrades, up to 10 percent off shore excursions and up to 25 percent off Collectors’ Voyages on 2016-2017 sailings when booked by Feb. 29, 2016!

All photos in this blog post were taken by Jeff Farschman, President’s Club member and “World Adventure” blogger.

Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford and our fans agree Alaska's beauty and culture make it the top wish-list destination.
Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford and our fans agree Alaska's beauty and culture make it the top wish-list destination.

The holiday season is in full swing, and it’s time to get creative with gift giving. Wouldn’t it be great to surprise your favorite traveler with the gift of a cruise?! We asked Holland America Line’s Facebook fans what their dream cruise would be to receive this year. The answers are as varied as our itineraries! Is your top wish-list cruise destination the same as our fans?

Our biggest fan is, of course, Holland America Line’s President Orlando Ashford. He got into the spirit of the season by revealing the cruise he’d love to receive this holiday.

Orlando“This holiday season, I’m wishing for a special Holland America Line adventure – the Alaska Land+Sea Journey! It would have to be the Triple Denali trip with three incredible days at Denali National Park, plus a journey through the Yukon where pioneers once trekked, often in peril, to find their fortune in the Gold Rush. In my first year with Holland America Line I’ve learned that we were the first cruise line to really explore Alaska — and no one offers a cruise and overland experience quite like HAL. I’d love to see all the Great Land has to offer from the comfort of our ships, including the massive glaciers that meet the sea, then take a ride in a domed train car to Denali Base Camp, where my family and I could enjoy a great salmon dinner and have fun around the campfire. That would be a trip to remember.” — Orlando Ashford

ALASKA IS THE #1 WISH-LIST CRUISE!

Holland America Line fans agree with Orlando that Alaska is the place to visit in 2016. Not only is it one of the most gorgeous areas on earth, it offers so much more than scenic beauty – although that is the major draw. Alaska and the Yukon have an interesting past that is artfully told through local adventures, and nature is at its finest in the Great Land with tours often featuring the opportunity to see wildlife in their natural habitat. Will you be cruising with us to Alaska in 2016?

I have wanted to go on an Alaskan cruise and take my grandson with me. We get pamphlets from Holland America quite often and go through them wishing we could take one of the Alaskan trips. — Donna Swinehart

I would repeat the Alaskan cruise ~ Magnificent! Terrific! Awesome! — Liz Galley

It would have to be Alaska. We have been there 3 times and going again in 2016 … can’t wait. — Kathi Galloway

I would go back to Alaska in a minute! — Connie Martin

Holland America Line fans, including Lynne Legal-Lowe, bottom, and Connie Martin, agree Alaska is number-one on their cruise wish-list.

Holland America Line fans, including Connie Martin, top, and Lynne Legal-Lowe agree Alaska is number-one on their cruise wish-list.

While there a few places I’d love to cruise, I’d have to say an Alaskan cruise. I would love to see that breathtakingly beautiful state. I have also always wanted to see the Northern Lights. — Christine Walker

I’d love to do Alaska again but this time for 14 days. I LOVED all of it, the ship, the scenery, the sights… — Catherine Sutherland

Alaska inside passage cruise. Been on my bucket list for eva! — Debbie Gordine

I would ask to go on your Alaskan Cruise!! Why? So “many good” reasons. Our Alaska cruise we took with you in 2013 was a dream come true. You treated us so wonderful like we really mattered!!! Everything we did on the ship and off was prefect!!! Thank you once again for all you did for us and giving us a vacation of a lifetime!!! — Loma McEwen Gunderson

We were on the Alaskan Cruise in late August. Holland America was amazing. Best staff ever… — Lynne Legal-Lowe

The cruise to Anchorage. Alaska is so beautiful and it really seems like a childhood Christmas with the snow!! Holland America has the best cruise ships in the world. Excellent service and the food is outstanding. — Jan Smith

moose

Alaska was the best vacation with Holland America that we have ever had. We have been there 4 times. Salmon fishing, fine dining, ice climbing on The Mendenhal Glacier, Glacier Bay, kayaking, everything that makes your dreams come true. — Cary J. Himes Woody

I would retake the Alaska cruise! I am a 4 Star Mariner, 90 years young and have stopped cruising, but really enjoyed all of my cruises when I was still able to travel. Miss it now too!! — Bettie Fleming

I would go back to Alaska. We had such an amazing time there. Holland America is a great cruise line. Everyone was so friendly and helpful. Would highly recommend it. — Dori Vinet

SUNSHINE OF THE CARIBBEAN HIGH ON CRUISERS WISH-LIST:

Not far behind Alaska is the Caribbean. And it’s no surprise why! From azure skies to crystalline waters, the Caribbean is a sun-kissed paradise on earth. Half Moon Cay, our own private island in the Bahamas, makes a cruise to this region even more memorable.

I’d ask HAL to stay at Half Moon Cay for a week! Just open up the bars I’ll take a tender back to the ship for food! — Katie Kenner-Bohl

The Caribbean…because Montana gets cold in the winter! — Kevin Hudson

It would be the Caribbean. Had such a great time with the best bartenders. — Dick Hogue

Southern Caribbean for sure. The waters are warm, tranquil, and the ports of call are amazing! Cruising over the Holidays + Southern Caribbean + HAL = 2 VERY relaxed and happy people!! — Heather Hall

Sun-kissed skies and powdery beaches make the Caribbean a hot spot for cruising.

Sun-kissed skies and powdery beaches make the Caribbean a hot spot for cruising.

Any place in the Caribbean with warm, blue water and a white sand beach (we’re from NW Ohio) and our kids and grandkids with us! — Diane Herman

Back to the Caribbean on an Olivia HAL chartered cruise. It remains to this day our dream favorite!! We had a dreamy time. It was our first HAL cruise. We have had four more since and we have loved them all but that was our first HAL experience and is the reason we ONLY cruise with HAL and Olivia. It was perfect. — Rowan Smith

Just got back from 10 day Caribbean cruise 5 islands A B C would luv to continue to see more! Was wonderful! — Linda Vargas

Just got back from eastern and southern Caribbean… Want to go West now… — Jon Heimsness

CULTURE AND HISTORY OF EUROPE & THE MEDITERRANEAN MAKE IT TOPS

With dozens of diverse cultures, amazing cuisine, a storied history, impressive architecture and gorgeous landscapes, a cruise to Europe or the Mediterranean also came in a close second with the Caribbean.

Norway. Best trip ever. — Dana Lee Jaggers Walker

Dana is ready to go back to Norway!

Dana is ready to go back to Norway!

Voyage of the Vikings! It goes to a lot of the places I’d like to visit. — Jim Parshall

Someday, the Mediterranean, and North Sea. Why? Because they are on the opposite side of the world from where I live; and……why not? — Melva Warren Evans

Just returned from a 7 day Caribbean cruise on the elegant Westerdam. Would love to cruise the Greek isles on the new upcoming Koningsdam. — Michael Erlick

I have been on Holland America twice and both cruises were great. I would love to do an Eastern Mediterranean cruise with them in the summer time. — Barbara Jean Williams

My checkmark on bucket list for a cruise to Europe would be awesome. — Stacy Clements

I would choose your April, 2017 round trip from Civitavecchia to Istanbul that includes a port stop on Crete where we hope to see the Linear B tablets that were the subject of the book “The Laberinth,” a tribute to the triumph of intellect of the woman who translated them. — Alan Nestlinger

Europe and the Med are high on the list of our cruise fans.

Europe and the Med are high on the list of our cruise fans.

I would love the Baltic Jewels because I’ve never been to Northern Europe. — Chris Rechner

FROM THE BALMY AMAZON TO REMOTE ICEBERGS, GUESTS WANT TO VISIT SOUTH AMERICA & ANTARCTICA

South America and Antarctica are on the bucket list of many of our cruisers. South America’s vibrant cultures make it a fan favorite, and Antarctica’s remote locale and breathtaking beauty make it a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

If someone else is giving it to me as a Christmas present, there is a 21-Day South America and Antarctica Holiday that would be the cat’s meow. — John Fleming

The Amazon, Rio's Corcovado and the Panama Canal (with guest Cris Senseman) are a few highlights on some South America cruises.

The Amazon, Rio’s Corcovado and the Panama Canal (with guest Cris Senseman) are a few highlights on some South America cruises.

Cruise to South America to celebrate my fourth year cancer free!! — Kay Allman McGhee

Would love to go to Manaus, to see where the macaws really come from. — AnneMai Berchtold

To go back to Antarctica, we were blessed with fine weather, so it made it even more wonderful. The blue of the sky and the ice showing every blue between black and white… — Bob Holder

Bob Holder is ready to cruise to Antarctica.

Bob Holder is ready to cruise to Antarctica.

14-day South America! Next on our wish list! — Linda Domeier

CRUISING DOWN UNDER IS A FAVORITE OF OUR FANS

Our cruise fans long to hear “G’day” from the locals on a cruise to Australia and New Zealand. Koalas and kangaroos await Down Under, where emerald landscapes and lush gardens abound. Sydney’s famed Opera House and Harbour Bridge are just two of the iconic sites in the continent’s favorite city. But the entire region is teaming with adventure, including the must-see Great Barrier Reef.

I want an Australian/New Zealand cruise, I want to see that part of the world. — Holly Blanco

Australia would be my wish. Have a daughter and family would love to visit and take a cruise with them. — Edie Hedderick

AusCollage

I loved my Baltic cruise, but I think my next cruise will be to New Zealand. As long as it’s HAL. — Corrine Kenway

I have done a NZ cruise and Sydney to Singapore both on Volendam and would love the circumnavigation of Australia cruise with HAL anytime! – hopefully one day. — Corrine Kenway

GO FROM ATLANTIC TO PACIFIC TRANSITING THE PANAMA CANAL

It’s one of the world’s modern marvels, and Holland America Line fans are ready to transit the Panama Canal in 2016.

Panama Canal for the second time. Loved it! Best cruise ever! — Debbie Nalley Farrell

PC

Panama Canal. I would like to go after the new locks are open. — Nancy Wills-Wilson

I’d love to cruise down the east coast of USA and through the Panama Canal…one day perhaps. — Robyn Tataurangi

Would love a wonderful Caribbean cruise to the Panama Canal for my wife and my parents. We’ve done a couple of HAL cruises with you and look forward to our next one with you. We really enjoyed the more intimate setting of the smaller ship, Ryndam and look for that size back in the Caribbean routes! — Paul Erickson

ANYWHERE & EVERYWHERE ELSE!

With cruises around the world, our fans have choose their dream cruise from itineraries that span the globe. They include our Grand World Voyage, Asia, Hawaii, Canada/New England and more! Here are some more of our fans’ wish-list cruises!

I want a repositioning cruise trans-Panama Canal crossing east to west and up to Alaska. Why? Because it would be long, luxurious, and so darn interesting with the mix in locales and cultures. Bring it on, #HAL. I need it in my stocking for Christmas. — Jeff M Omaha

I want the 53-day South Pacific return from San Diego, please Santa. I’ve been a really good girl! — Kathe Deheer

Would like to cruise across the Pacific to Hawaii, or cruise Alaska, or more of the Med. Not fussy. Happy cruising with HAL anywhere they like to take me! — Janet Evans

From Hawaii to Singapore, and transocean, too ... many fans are just happy to cruise anywhere!

From Hawaii to Singapore, and transocean, too … many fans are just happy to cruise anywhere!

I’m not picky, I’d take ANY cruise! However, this is definitely one of my very favorite places….Grand Turk was beautiful. — Kim Sonnenberg-Englehart

The trip around the world. If I had the money I would live aboard! — DebbieandMike Praught

Would love to cruise from Singapore to Japan again, so much to see, I just couldn’t take it all in. — Maggie Morris

Around the world. If I have to choose just one, shouldn’t it encompass almost all the others? My second choice would be B2B Norwegian fjords and Baltic. Because it’s not in the around the world… — Deborah Sampson

My sister and I did the Panama Canal over Thanksgiving for 14 days and absolutely loved your beautiful ship, food, servers, shows…..My sister would love to go to Tahiti. And I would love to go to Italy. We would just love to travel this amazing world. She also has a cruise around the world. Luckily my big sister and i travel well together! Thank you Holland America Line. — Maggie Meme Long

Beautiful New England because in South Texas where I live we don’t have tall trees let alone trees that change colors in the fall. Seeing a New England fall has been on my bucket list for years! — Laurie Ramos Castillo

Around the world…..or just anywhere. LoveHAL. — Carole McNamee

If it’s not HAL it’s not a holiday, loved what we did and it doesn’t matter what cruise we pick it would be great. — Oswald Zonneveld

Oswald is ready to go anywhere on a Holland America Line cruise!

Oswald is ready to go anywhere on a Holland America Line cruise!

Transatlantic — just 17 days of pure relaxation. — Linda Wright

A world cruise. The longer on a ship, the better. — Annemarie Dragt

I just want to be on the rear deck watching the dock disappear. With cola in my 72-year-old hand. — David Roper

Oh to be able to do nothing but cruise would be a dream come true!! At 81 I am tired of housework and cooking. One is made to feel so regal on a cruise!! Hope to do Alaska in 2016. — Patricia Childs

Scandanavia for 21 days in 2014 was a highlight of my cruising life so far. Canada and New England this year was like a comfy pair of slippers. Next year? Yet to be decided….. — Patricia Odgers

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If you really want to surprise someone this holiday season — or if you want to treat yourself — check out our 2016 cruises. It’s not too late to pick your dream cruise and put a bow on it! With our new View & Verandah promotion, now is the perfect time to book. We’re offering stateroom upgrades, up to 10 percent off shore excursions and up to 25 percent off Collectors’ Voyages on 2016-2017 sailings when booked by Feb. 29, 2016!

Holland America offers dozens of Med cruises with a variety of lengths.
Holland America offers dozens of Med cruises with a variety of lengths.

With its sparkling coastal shores, abundance of significant historical sights, authentic fresh flavors and inspiring architecture, a Holland America Line cruise in the Mediterranean is a memorable experience.

Stretching from Spain to Turkey with incredible attractions and stunning ports in between, the most difficult part of planning a cruise to the Med is picking which destinations to visit and how long to cruise. That’s why Holland America Line offers a variety of itineraries to fit your preference of length and location. Whether you want to spend one week, two weeks, one month or more exploring the Mediterranean, here are some popular cruise options. All that’s left for you to do is choose!

Seven Days, Six Cities & One Incredible Country

One way to enjoy a short and sweet weeklong voyage in the Mediterranean is to stick to one country and see as many of its ports as possible. This cruise is perfect for guests wishing to extensively explore a single country’s culture and experience its diverse regions.

Explore Malaga (Grenada) and Cadiz (Seville) on a Gems of Spain cruise.

Explore Malaga (Grenada) and Cadiz (Seville) on a Gems of Spain cruise.

The 7-Day Gems of Spain cruise on Eurodam departs Barcelona Apr. 17 and Oct. 21, 2016, and stops at five additional ports in Spain including Valencia, Cartagena, Malaga (Grenada), Gibraltar and Cadiz (Seville). This itinerary promises plenty of adventurous shore time, an unbeatable seaside climate, delectable local dishes, plus exposure to Spain’s fascinating history and culture. From large, vibrant cities to charming coastal towns, this sailing thoroughly immerses guests into the Spanish lifestyle for a truly outstanding and rewarding cruise experience.

12 Days, 10 Ports, One Fascinating Eastern Med Exploration

Med Dream Collage

Pictured from top left to bottom right: Saint Peter’s Basilica, Acropolis & the Parthenon, the Colosseum, Pompeii, the Vatican, Olympia and Ephesus.

Two-week cruises to the region allow enough time to explore more than one country. Oosterdam’s 12-Day Mediterranean Dream itinerary departing in April, June, August and September 2016 is the perfect getaway to the eastern Mediterranean. Starting at Venice and ending at Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, this exciting itinerary calls at 10 ports across Italy, Greece and Turkey.

The eastern region of the Mediterranean showcases picturesque deep-blue oceans. It is also the birthplace of fresh culinary favorites like pizza and gyros. This sailing is laced with historic sites including the Acropolis, Parthenon, ancient Olympia, Ephesus, the Virgin Mary’s home, Pompeii, Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican, Colosseum, Pantheon and the Sistine Chapel … just to name a few!

The Mediterranean Dream itinerary hits a new port nearly every day so guests can get the most out of their 12-day vacation. Rich in sun, sand, history, food and culture, this cruise is perfect for foodies, history fanatics, nature enthusiasts, seasoned travelers and newbies alike!

25 Days, 2 Unique Itineraries, 1 All-New Ship

For those who love the Med and the thrill of “collecting” new places, Holland America Line’s Collectors’ Voyages offer in-depth explorations on artfully crafted, port-intensive itineraries. Collectors’ Voyages offer an excellent value with two combined cruises priced at one reduced rate. They feature more sea days to indulge in onboard luxuries and activities, and select itineraries even include overnight stays in popular ports of call.

The 25-day Mediterranean and Christening cruise on Koningsdam departs April 27, 2016, and offers not only the opportunity to collect new places but also collect a new ship! This cruise on the new flagship begins at Civitavecchia (Rome) and features three additional calls in the country: Naples, Palermo and Cagliari. After a call at Gibraltar, guests will enjoy an in-depth exploration of Spain with calls at Cadiz, Malaga, Cartagena and an overnight at Barcelona, the first of three overnight calls on the itinerary. The ship returns to Civitavecchia before beginning the second leg of the Collectors’ Voyage.

Guests can get an in-depth look into Spain during the Mediterranean & Christening Cruise. (Top: Cadiz, Malaga and Seville. Bottom: Barcelona and Vigo.)

Guests can get an in-depth look into Spain during the Mediterranean & Christening Cruise. (Top: Cadiz, Malaga and Seville. Bottom: Barcelona and Vigo.)

Guests will return to Gibraltar and Cartagena before two more calls in Spain: Huelva (Seville) and Vigo. The ship also calls at Lisbon, Portugal; and Cherbourg (Normandy) and Le Havre (Paris), France. The incredible trip ends with back-to-back overnight calls at Rotterdam and Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

55 Days, 12 Countries, One Grand Cruise

Cruise roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on the journey of a lifetime with the 55-day Grand Mediterranean Voyage that is perfect for guests with time to spare! The elegant explorer Prinsendam departs Fort Lauderdale March 11, 2016, on a cruise that features calls in all of the great Mediterranean countries: Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Malta, Greece, Croatia, Albania, Montenegro, Monaco and Turkey!

This itinerary is highlighted by overnight calls at two magnificent cities, giving guests the opportunity to enjoy them at night. An overnight stay at Venice, Italy, is the perfect chance to admire this magical port from the water, through a ride in its enchanting canals made even more special with a nighttime gondola serenade. During the overnight call at Istanbul guests can indulge in a delicious dinner at the Maiden’s Tower Restaurant, dating back 2,500 years.

Discover the Mediterranean at night with two overnight calls and various late departures.

Discover the Mediterranean at night with two overnight calls and various late departures.

But Venice and Istanbul aren’t the only cities guests can discover by dark. With late departures from Barcelona; Valleta, Malta; Kusadasi, Turkey; and Lisbon, Portugal, guests can experience the nightlife of a variety of cultures. And for guests that love transatlantic crossings, they’ll do so twice on this epic voyage.

Which Med locales are at the top of your must-see list? Tell us in the comments below.

December 2015 UPDATE: Take Advantage of View & Verandah
We want to make your dream cruise even dreamier with our new View & Verandah promotion. We’re offering stateroom upgrades, up to 10 percent off shore excursions and up to 25 percent off Collectors’ Voyages on 2016-2017 sailings when booked by Feb. 29, 2016. Check out the offer to see if you dream cruise is included and book now!

Eurodam will call at beautiful ports like Monte Carlo on the newly announced 2016 itineraries.
Eurodam will call at beautiful ports like Monte Carlo on the newly announced 2016 itineraries.

One of the many wonderful things about cruising is that changes to itineraries can be made fairly easily when needed or desired. Whether it’s a last-minute switch due to the weather or a now-open berth at a highly desirable locale on a cruise a year away, the mobility of cruise ships allows the addition of exciting ports of call that enhance the itineraries. In 2016, Holland America Line just revised several Mediterranean cruises on ms Eurodam and ms Oosterdam in April and October – and the new itineraries are available to book today!

Eurodam Adds New Seven-Day Cruises and Collectors’ Voyages

Eurodam will now sail a set of two back-to-back seven-day voyages in April and October, visiting marquis ports along the coasts of Spain, France and Italy. Additionally, these two voyages can be combined to form new 14- and 19-day Collectors’ Voyages.

The seven-day Gems of Spain cruise sails roundtrip Barcelona, Spain, and calls at Gibraltar, U.K., and the Spanish ports of Cadiz, Malaga, Cartagena and Valencia. An April 17 departure was added, while the Oct. 21 remains unchanged.

Two new seven-day Mediterranean Glamour voyages also sail roundtrip from Barcelona and call at Cagliari, Sardinia; Palermo, Sicily; Civitavecchia (Rome) and Livorno, Italy; and Monte Carlo, Monaco. This itinerary sets sail April 10 and Oct. 28.

The Gems of Spain, top right, and Mediterranean Glamour itineraries are great additions to Eurodam's roster.

The Gems of Spain, top right, and Mediterranean Glamour itineraries are great additions to Eurodam’s roster.

The April 10 and 17 cruises, as well as the Oct. 21 and 28 departures, can be combined to form a longer 14-Day Mediterranean Glamour & Gems of Spain Collectors’ Voyage with nonrepeating ports.

Beautiful ports like Monte Carlo await on this Collectors' Voyage.

Beautiful ports like Monte Carlo await on this 14-day Collectors’ Voyage.

Guests wanting an even longer cruise can embark the new April 17 Gems of Spain cruise and combine it with the existing 12-day Mediterranean Tapestry voyage that sails from Barcelona to Venice, Italy, with calls in Croatia, Italy, Monaco and France. The new Collectors’ Voyage is an unforgettable 19-day adventure!

Oosterdam Features New 12-Day Itineraries

New for 2016, Oosterdam will be sailing four 12-day Mediterranean Explorer voyages throughout the eastern and western Mediterranean. The cruise will depart from Civitavecchia, and call at Monte Carlo; Livorno; Ajaccio, Corsica; Almeria and Ceuta, Spain; and St. Tropez, Marseille and Sete, France. Guests will enjoy an overnight at Barcelona at the end of the voyage. The new departures are May 12, June 29, August 16 and Oct. 10.

Gorgeous Almeria is one of Oosterdam's calls on its new itinerary.

Gorgeous Almeria is one of Oosterdam’s calls on its new itinerary.

Which new itinerary interests you? Tell us below!

December 2015 UPDATE: Take Advantage of View & Verandah
We want to make your dream cruise even dreamier with our new View & Verandah promotion. We’re offering stateroom upgrades, up to 10 percent off shore excursions and up to 25 percent off Collectors’ Voyages on 2016-2017 sailings when booked by Feb. 29, 2016. Check out the offer to see if you dream cruise is included and book now!

Repositioning cruises offer extended relaxation at sea, unique itineraries and extraordinary value.
Repositioning cruises offer extended relaxation at sea, unique itineraries and extraordinary value.

Summer is coming! That means the Med is heating up and Alaska is entering prime-time for cruising. Across the fleet Holland America Line ships are preparing to reposition from their winter homes in the Caribbean and other tropical regions to temperate climates that have shorter-but-sweet cruise seasons.

As the ships move from one region to the next a number of unique itineraries become available — giving guests the chance to cross oceans and see some incredible ports of call. Some prefer these longer and less common voyages. We asked guests to weigh in — read on to learn the why, when and where of repositioning cruises!

Crossing the Atlantic
Transatlantic itineraries are the most popular ocean crossing options. From Europe to the Caribbean or vice-versa, guests set out to open sea with unique itineraries. The 29-day Baltic & Viking Passage is a wonderful opportunity to follow the paths of explorers past to the northern regions of the Atlantic. Cruise from one pristine nordic city to the next and through fjords. HAL guest Bruce Hirte praised the cruise saying,

“We have been on more than 20 cruises – several have been in the 30 day range. One of the most memorial was on the Eurodam doing the Baltic and the transatlantic into New York. We had the good fortune of cruising thru the fjord in Greenland on a clear and calm day. A GIFT!” – Bruce Hirte

Cruising through the fjords of Norway on a clear calm day is magical.

Cruising through the fjords of Norway on a clear calm day is magical.

Southern transatlantic itineraries forgo the fjords for more tropical temperatures.

“The Caribbean to Europe is my favorite cruise!” exclaimed Christine Lewis, a veteran HAL cruiser.

Bob Hale added that he loves that a transatlantic cruise offers plenty of time to enjoy all of Holland America Line’s fabulous culinary offerings and to rest. After all, the ocean is vast, which means more days at sea. Guests who are fans of sea days, like Ester Cooke, treat the ship like a destination in itself, taking time to engage in onboard activities at the Culinary Arts Center, Digital Workshops powered by Windows and more. Another great perk? When you cruise across the ocean you can slowly adjust to changing timezones — which means no jet lag!

“We loved sailing from Rome to Ft. Lauderdale stopping at Malaga, Spain, Alicante, Cadiz and the Azores. We were so pleasantly surprised with how gorgeous the Azores are. The sailing across the ocean was wonderful and we loved gaining an hour each day.” – Sharon Beecro

“Looking forward to the day I can do the trans from Lauderdale to Barcelona. That’s tops on my bucket list … for now.” – Chuck Botts

Cruise into Venice totally relaxed on a transatlantic journey.

Cruise into Venice totally relaxed on a transatlantic journey.

Another fabulous benefit of repositioning cruises is that they offer totally different perspectives on the same cruise. Imagine visiting Asia and Alaska in the same vacation! Revel in the cherry blossoms and medieval castles of Japan, see the sights in Shanghai and then — just a short while later — walk on the surface of a glacier in Alaska. These cruises are are Grand Voyages in themselves.

“Japan to Vancouver across the North Pacific via Alaska on Volendam was our April/May 2014 cruise. Loved the experience of far northern ports of Japan & then 1st cruise ship for season into Glacier Bay – magic.” – Clive George

The sakura (cherry blossom) is in full bloom in Japan in the spring.

The sakura (cherry blossom) is in full bloom in Japan in the spring.

Traversing the Pacific Ocean

Like transatlantic cruises, transpacific itineraries typically have northern and southern routes. The South Pacific is renowned for its extraordinary beauty. The editors of Portsie.com sailed across the Pacific in 2014 on ms Oosterdam and likened the experience to something out of a classic travel novel. Typical calls between Sydney and the States include the volcanic islands of New Caledonia, Fiji and Hawaii.

Moreover, these journeys are typically available at incredible rates as Wendy McDonald pointed out, saying, “Repositioning cruises; great value for the money spent!”

“Love any crossing … but lately we’d prefer west coast (which is why we signed up for the grand pacific!)” – Richard E Menken

“USA to Australia — great cruise.” – Nancy Abel Weigand

Visit the volcanic islands of Hawaii, Fiji and more when you cross the Pacific Ocean.

Visit the volcanic islands of Hawaii, Fiji and more when you cross the Pacific Ocean.

Exploring Other Oceans Around the World

Repositioning cruises aren’t always grand ocean crossing voyages, however. Ships move from region to region all over the world. Sometimes that means a journey from the Med through the Suez Canal and onward to Australia and Asia through the Indian Ocean. Another popular option is transiting the Panama Canal between the Caribbean and Alaska. Facebook fans Eileen Herr Ludermilch let us know that she is currently on a repositioning cruise through the Panama Canal, and Marsha Ellis is looking forward to a cruise in May that transits the canal en route to San Diego.

The extended length of such cruises is a great opportunity to get to know fellow passengers and Holland America Line’s fabulous employees. Bob Deffenbaugh and his wife were delighted to get to know some special HAL crew members throughout the course of their repositioning cruise.

Bob said, “Julius is our favorite crew member working at HAL, We met him for the second time aboard the Zuiderdam on our repositioning cruise!”

Sail from sea to shining sea on a Panama Canal itinerary.

Sail from sea to shining sea on a Panama Canal itinerary.

Whether going from Atlantic to Pacific or from the Caribbean to the Med, all of the repositioning cruises offer a unique adventure for those who like to combine relaxing days at sea with exciting ports. Which repositioning cruise most appeals to you? Let us know in the comments below!

December 2015 UPDATE: Take Advantage of View & Verandah
We want to make your dream cruise even dreamier with our new View & Verandah promotion. We’re offering stateroom upgrades, up to 10 percent off shore excursions and up to 25 percent off Collectors’ Voyages on 2016-2017 sailings when booked by Feb. 29, 2016. Check out the offer to see if you dream cruise is included and book now!

The Edinburgh Tattoo is an exciting way to experience Scottish culture.
The Edinburgh Tattoo is an exciting way to experience Scottish culture.

When you cruise, what type of shore excursions attract you the most? Relaxing city tours, historically rich explorations or exhilarating adventures that get your adrenaline pumping? If you’re looking for once-in-a-lifetime experiences that combine a little bit of everything, Holland America Line has an incredible collection of shore excursions in Europe that feature some of the most exclusive events and exciting opportunities that allow you to explore the ports in a variety of ways.

Are you a golf fan, Formula One junkie or do you like to see the world from a different view? Read on and see why these six tours top the list of European shore excursions not to miss.

British Open Championship at St. Andrews
Rosyth, Scotland

Visit St. Andrews and witness the British open on a tour.

Visit St. Andrews and witness the British open on a tour.

For those who appreciate the game of golf’s rich history, the British Open Championship at St. Andrews tour is the ultimate tournament experience. Be there as the 144th British Open is played out on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Follow the best players in the world as they navigate the pot bunkers and gusty winds that are the hallmarks of this Scottish legend. This is the rare opportunity to witness golf’s oldest Major Championship return to the game’s most cherished links.

Prinsendam’s July 15, 2015, Irish & Scottish Explorer departure calls at Rosyth during the British Open.

Grand Prix Trials
Monte Carlo, Monaco

Amazingly the call at Monte Carlo on Nieuw Amsterdam’s April 22 departure coincides with the trials for the world-famous Formula One Grand Prix. Guests can attend the first day of the F1 trials, held on one of the most fascinating and talked-about racetracks in the world. From the port of Fontvieille a local escort will lead you on a 30-minute walk (approximately) toward the grandstand section, located in a central position. Local Grand Prix personnel will direct you toward the section where you are to be seated. It is then up to you to decide which trials you wish to attend as your ticket gives you grandstand access for the whole day with in-out privileges. Come and go as you please. Your escort will give you a map of Monaco for orientation and then you’re on your own for a most enjoyable day.

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Rosyth, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle is the beautiful backdrop for the annual Tattoo.

Edinburgh Castle is the beautiful backdrop for the annual Tattoo.

Traditionally, the ‘tattoo’ was the signal given by drumbeat that warned British soldiers to return to their quarters for the night. Innkeepers promptly turned off their liquor taps and the drums continued to beat for a half hour — the period of grace during which the soldiers were allowed to return home before being AWOL. The custom eventually developed into a ceremonial performance of military music by massed bands, held a few hours after sunset.

At the Edinburgh Military Tattoo that takes place every August against the majestic backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, the world-renowned Massed Pipes & Drums together with the impressive Massed Military Bands and the Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland are among those who will gather for Scotland’s sensational Edinburgh Tattoo. The Tattoo concludes with that most moving of all Scotland’s performances — the lone piper, floodlit on the battlements, haunting tones reaching out across the darkened arena to echo in your heart long after the music stops. (This excursion is only available on select sailings in August and is not available on Sundays.)

Exclusive Mt. Vesuvius
Naples, Italy

Take an exclusive tour of Mt. Vesuvius on a 4x4 bus.

Take an exclusive tour of Mt. Vesuvius on a 4×4 bus.

Travel by coach along the Bay of Naples on the Exclusive Mt. Vesuvius tour, stopping en route at a local cameo factory before reaching the foot of awesome Mount Vesuvius — the only volcano on the mainland continent of Europe. From the village of Boscotrecase, you will board a special ecological 4×4 bus for a 25-minute drive through Mount Vesuvius National Park, through pine forests and broom to an elevation of 3,400 feet. Leave the bus and walk to the upper part of the crater, where you will enjoy a walking tour around the crater under the expert supervision of an alpine guide.

Mount Vesuvius creates a beautiful landscape with the bay and Naples tucked below. Vesuvius is best known for its eruption in AD 79, destroying the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and killing up to 25,000 people. It has erupted many times since and is today regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of the population of three million people living nearby. The mountain has a tendency for explosive (Plinian) eruptions.

We had a wonderful sunny day, and you want good weather. The drive in the 4 wheel vehicle part way up Mt. Vesuvius was great. There is quite a climb but rails to hand on to when needed. You get right to the mouth of the volcano which is amazing. This trip was my husband’s choice and I am so glad we took it. — Guest Chrisdo

Kickin’ Corfu! A 4-Wheel-Drive Adventure
Kérkira (Corfu), Greece

Drive your own Jeep around Corfu and kick back like a local.

Drive your own Jeep around Corfu and kick back like a local.

Get behind the wheel of a four-wheel-drive vehicle on the Kickin’ Corfu tour and drive yourself and your fellow guests along the main coastal route, and up a country road, through olive groves and the village of Ano Korakiana. The road up Pantokrator Mountain features 27 zigzag turns and leads to the old village of Sokraki. Stretch your legs on a walk through the narrow winding streets of the village and enjoy a meze (traditional light snack) with a glass of local wine. Set off again along a country (dirt) lane to admire the beautiful panoramic view of the island as well as the magnificent view of the old town of Corfu. Returning to the narrow asphalt road, pass through Troubeta, Arkadades, Makrades and Lakones.

Without doubt this tour was the best tour of the whole cruise.My wife drove the little four wheel drive ,without any problems,while I ran the Gopro. The best views. The stop at Sokraki was more of a full lunch than a light snack, with local produce and meats, wine and ouzo.The narrow roads through picturesque towns were a treat. And one breathtaking view after another. I would highly suggest this tour. — Guests Steve and Linda

Sensational Rooftop Walk & Stockholm’s Old Town
Stockholm, Sweden

Get a bird's-eye view of Stockholm on the rooftop tour.

Get a bird’s-eye view of Stockholm on the rooftop tour.

It’s been featured on the blog in the past, but it’s too special to leave off this list. Try something sensational and unique — a guided walk conducted along a historic rooftop in Stockholm. Drive to Riddarholmen, the small island in the Old Town of Sweden’s capital. During the 13th century, Franciscan monks built a monastery here, parts of which still remains in the cellar vaults of the many impressive buildings that stand here today. Riddarholmen Church is the final resting place of most Swedish Kings. Next to the church is the Old Parliament Building which you’ll enter and take the elevator up to the top floor and, via the attic, step out into the open. Buckle up with your safety harness and take your first steps along the narrow rooftop path offering fantastic views and fascinating stories that your guide will share en route.

Even though the height (up to 130 feet) may be a challenge to some, this is the perfect starting point to learn of the history of Stockholm and take in some breathtaking views. With your feet back on the ground, continue to the Old Town for a ground-level walking tour through Gamla Stan — a living historical monument of international renown. On the way back to the ship, relax for a panoramic sightseeing drive through Stockholm, passing the Parliament Building, the Royal Opera, the city center with Sergels Torg and the Concert Hall.

My husband and I had a great time – what a unique opportunity to walk on the rooftop of a centuries old buildling in the middle of Stockholm. We had a view of the city from every angle, and learned a lot about the history of Stockholm. It was the perfect mix of sightseeing and adrenaline! — Guest TravelGal

Which one of these tours would you like to take? Many of the exclusive shore excursions fill up quickly, so remember to pre-book the shore excursion of your choice to save time onboard and ensure you have a seat!

HAL's shore excursion Collections feature world wonders and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities like Borobudur.
HAL's shore excursion Collections feature world wonders and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities like Borobudur.

When taking a Holland America Line cruise, you can expect incredible shore excursions, tailor-made to offer the best experience at every port. Holland America Line has grouped many of the tours into five distinct collections, so you’ll know exactly what to look for when booking your tours in advance or onboard.

Each collection is centered on a different type of experience and you can find them at nearly every destination around the world. From late-night museum tours only available to Holland America Line guests to helicopter tours and cuddling with koalas — here’s an explanation of all five collections, and some of the best tours you’ll find in each group.

Medallion Collection
The Medallion Collection is a series of exclusive experiences designed for the most discerning Holland America Line guest. You’ll enjoy first-class style and smaller groups. Perhaps one of the most popular Medallion Collection excursions is Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier by Helicopter at Juneau, Alaska. This unforgettable tour combines the thrill of a glacier helicopter tour, flying over lush rain forest and glacier-carved peaks, and a dogsledding adventure that will be like nothing you have ever experienced before.

You’ll head to the oldest operating dog sled tour company in Alaska by helicopter and either help the professional mushers drive the team or relax in the sled as you take in stunning scenery around you. Of course … you’ll also get plenty of time to play with the dogs!

A helicopter tour and dog-sledding adventure is about as exhilarating as it gets!

A helicopter tour and dog-sledding adventure is about as exhilarating as it gets!

Another exciting Medallion Collection shore excursion is the Pearl Harbor VIP Military Base Experience — the only tour of World War II Battlefields, including exclusive access to military bases and the Arizona Memorial. You’ll also stop at the largest Army Base outside the Continental U.S. and visit the Pineapple Pentagon — headquarters of the U.S. Army Pacific Command.

The Medallion Collection also features incredible overnight adventures, like the Milford Sound to Dunedin Overnight Tour. Highlights of the tour include passing through the magnificent Fiordland National Park, stopping for photos at the Chasm and Mirror Lakes, and heading to Queenstown for a gondola ride up to Bob’s Peak. The following day you’ll also enjoy a sightseeing tour at Dunedin, to see why some call it “the Edinburgh of the South.”

You'll be surrounded by natural beauty at Milford Sound.

You’ll be surrounded by natural beauty at Milford Sound.

And in addition to first-class tours and unforgettable experiences, tours offer in-depth perspectives with access to events and sights not normally readily available, like the Exclusive Evening at the Hermitage tour at St. Petersburg, Russia. On this tour, the Hermitage Museum opens at night for an evening viewing exclusively for Holland America Line guests. The museum, a work of art in itself, ranks among the world’s best.

The Medallion Collection features VIP experiences at the Hermitage and Pearl Harbor.

The Medallion Collection features VIP experiences at the Hermitage and Pearl Harbor.

Encore Collection
The Encore Collection is perfect for cruisers visiting destinations they have been to before. These tours let you discover what lies beyond the well-known attractions of a place. The Landscapes & Sheep Dogs: A Scottish Experience tour at Greenock (Glasgow), Scotland, lets you take a deeper look into one of this country’s most important workers. You’ll first drive across the valley of the Lowland region and head to the small market town of Aberfoyle to the Scottish Wool Center. You’ll meet some adorable border collies, one of the smartest dog breeds, and members of the Scottish Sheepdog School — a center for excellence for the breeding and training of young sheepdogs. You’ll observe class while the dogs display their agility and ability. Then after lunch you’ll head to the ‘Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond’ — a stunning mountainous region and embark on a boat cruise on Loch Lomond.

One of Scotland's adorable border collies shows off his talents at Greenock.

One of Scotland’s adorable border collies shows off for guests, rounding up ducks!

The America’s Cup tour is also Encore Collection, letting you enjoy the thrill of sailing on the waters of Auckland, New Zealand — the legendary City of Sails. In the past, sailing an America’s Cup yacht was only available to the racing crews themselves. With this tour you’ll be part of the crew, encouraged to participate in sailing the powerful yachts. But if you’re just looking to sit back and relax, you can do that too, taking in the beautiful Waitemata Harbour.

You can sail with Pride of Auckland on the Waitemata Harbour.

You can sail Pride of Auckland on the Waitemata Harbour.

Other once-in-a-lifetime experiences on Encore Collection tours are getting a taste of castle life and high tea at Quebec, Canada’s, famous Château Frontenac; a flight and hike to the famous Mayan ruins of Tikal from Santo Thomas de Castilla, Guadeloupe, and a tour of one of the four Imperial Cities and the capital of Morocco, Rabat, during a call at Casablanca.

Find Encore Collection excursions during calls at Quebec City, Santo Thomas de Castilla and Casablanca.

Find Encore Collection excursions during calls at Quebec City, Santo Thomas de Castilla and Casablanca.

World Wonders Collection
The World Wonders Collection features natural treasures, architectural marvels and technical wonders. See the Seven Wonders of the World and some carefully selected additions including the ancient city of Pompeii at Naples, Italy, and one of southeast Asia’s most incredible sights, the temple of Borobudur, during a call at Semarang, Java, Indonesia.

What the World Wonders Collection tours have in common is the ability to awe guests. The Giza Pyramids, Sphinx & the Egyptian Museum of Antiguities tour at Alexandria (Cairo), Egypt, will do just that. You’ll head to Cairo, the capital of Egypt, and first visit the great pyramids of Giza. The largest of these, Cheops, is the only remaining one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. You’ll also see the Sphinx and then head to the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities for a wander through time. Here, the world’s most important collection of Egyptian antiquities is housed, with thousands of statues, jewels and artifacts, including the amazing treasures of Tutankhamon.

The Sphinx is one of Egypt's most iconic sights.

The Sphinx is one of Egypt’s most iconic sights.

The Lake Myvatn tour at Akureyri, Iceland, features stops at Godafoss — one of Iceland’s most spectacular waterfalls and, of course, the Lake Myvatn area. The Great Barrier Reef Cruise & Snorkel tour at Hamilton Island in Queensland, Australia, features one of the world’s best underwater wonders, and the Grand Canyon of the Pacific tour features one of Kauai, Hawaii’s, most popular attractions — Waimea Canyon.

From the Great Barrier Reef to Lake Myvatn and Waimea Canyon -- the World Wonders Collection is all about bringing awe to Holland America Line guests.

From the Great Barrier Reef to Lake Myvatn and Waimea Canyon — the World Wonders Collection is all about bringing awe to Holland America Line guests.

Cruise With Purpose Collection
The Cruise With Purpose Collection was carefully crafted for the thoughtful cruiser who wants to give back or pay it forward. These these activities are all about enriching your soul and improving the planet, one voyage at a time. The Iceland Tomorrow: Planting for the Future & the Ancient Ring of Fire is a predominantly green-focused tour that circles the active, 2,635-foot Hengill Volcano, at Reykjavik, Iceland. At the time of Iceland’s settlement, in the 9th century, an estimated one fourth of the country was covered by birch woodlands, but today just a little over 1% of Iceland is forest. So aside from scenic drives and visits to the Hellisheidi Geothermal Plant Visitor Center, the town of Hveragerdi, and the UNESCO World Heritage Suite of Thingvellir, you’ll get to plant a tree in your name!

Two Cruise with Purpose Collections are centered around planting trees in countries with much deforestation: Iceland and Australia.

Two Cruise with Purpose Collections are centered around planting trees in countries with much deforestation: Iceland and Australia.

The Koala Sanctuary & Tree Planting tour at Brisbane, Australia, lets guests leave their mark while getting up close to some of Australia’s most adorable animals. You’ll visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary, and plant a gum tree in its eucalyptus garden. These trees provide a habitat for local wildlife and reduce carbon emissions, and most importantly, feed the koala’s, whose food resources have grown increasingly scarce due to wild fires and deforestations. Afterwards, you’ll get to hug an adorable koala, hand-feed a kangaroo, see the rare platypus and enjoy many other Australian natives.

Other Cruise With Purpose Collection tours let you interact with Nicaraguan children at Corinto, Nicaragua, produce a silk thread in the age-old, traditional manner at Dubrovnik, Croatia, and draw plankton samples, identify whale species and record their behaviors in Juneau, Alaska.

Cruise With Purpose Collection tours involve a variety of different activities including interacting with kids in Nicaragua, making a thread of silk in Dubrovnik and documenting whale behaviors in Juneau.

Cruise With Purpose Collection tours involve a variety of different activities including interacting with kids, making a silk thread and documenting whale behaviors.

Signature Collection
The Signature Collection is an exclusive touring option for independent-minded travelers. You can completely customize your time ashore by reserving private transportation (whether by car, van, boat, floatplane or limousine) and a guide, and head to the sights you most want to see at the pace of your choosing. Signature Collection tours are offered all over the world at Holland America Line destinations from Punta Arenas, Chile; and Fortaleza, Brazil; to Katakolon (Olympia), Greece; Hakodate, Japan; and Seoul, South Korea.

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

Have you taken any of these unique tours before? Which collection “label” do you look for first when you book shore excursions? Tell us in the comments below.

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