Tag Archives: Grand Voyages

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

Photos courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

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

Photos courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

Photos courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bora Bora

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

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

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

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

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

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

The vibrant underworld, photographed by Jeff Farschman.

The vibrant underworld, photographed by Jeff Farschman.

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

Gary notes:

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

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

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

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

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

Photos courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

Photos courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

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

Courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

Courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

Courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

Courtesy of Jeff Farschman.

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

Visit gorgeous Papeete, Tahiti, with the Seas the Day promotion.
Visit gorgeous Papeete, Tahiti, with the Seas the Day promotion.

Are you looking to cruise to one of Holland America Line’s exotic locales like Australia, Hawaii, the South Pacific, South America or Asia? With the recently launched “Seas the Day” promotion, taking a cruise to one of these destinations is more affordable than ever before.

In North America, the promotion features special savings up to 50 percent, reduced fares for third/fourth guests in a stateroom and onboard credits on several of the line’s exotic voyages. For international markets, Seas the Day offers reduced cruise fares and the onboard credit. For more details, contact your local travel professional or visit your regional hollandamerica.com site.

Eligible itineraries include select 2015-16 Australia and New Zealand voyages, South America, Asia, Hawaii/Tahiti, Panama Canal, Grand Voyage segments and the Passage to the Far East cruise.

Sydney, Hawaii and the Panama Canal await, so take advantage of the Seas the Day promotion!

Sydney, Hawaii and the Panama Canal await, so take advantage of the Seas the Day promotion!

With Seas the Day offers in North America, guests who book an itinerary up to 19 days receive an onboard credit up to $200 per cabin ($100 per person), while guests on cruises 20 days or more receive an onboard credit up to $400 per cabin ($200 per person). The onboard credit is valid for the first and second guests in the cabin, while third and fourth guests are eligible for special reduced fares. In addition, the exotic voyages feature up to 50 percent savings off the cruise fare.

Featured Seas the Day Itineraries are Some of the Most Stunning and Spectacular

Holland America Line’s exotic voyages are the ideal way to become immersed in destinations around the world. Each itinerary is carefully crafted to showcase the most intimate, exciting and interesting ports along each route.

Capture the spirit of Aloha on a cruise to Hawaii.

Capture the spirit of Aloha on a cruise to Hawaii.

Itineraries available in the Seas the Day promotion include ms Zaandam’s 17-day Circle Hawaii cruise departing Sept. 20, 2015, that visits the beautiful Hawaiian ports of Honolulu (overnight), Nawiliwili, Kona, Lahaina and Hilo.

If you’re looking to transit one of the world’s most impressive man-made marvels, embark ms Oosterdam’s 19-day Panama Canal cruise departing Sept. 27, 2015. Sailing from Vancouver to Fort Lauderdale, the ships calls at ports in Oregon, California, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia and Half Moon Cay, the line’s private Bahamian paradise.

Fiji is just one of the many beautiful islands awaiting guests on the South Pacific voyage.

Fiji is just one of the many beautiful islands awaiting guests on the South Pacific voyage.

Looking for a longer adventure to tropical lands? Set sail on ms Amsterdam’s 50-day Tales of the South Pacific voyage departing Sept. 27, 2015. Spend nearly two months exploring California, five ports in Hawaii and the South Pacific islands of Fanning Island, American Samoa, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Niue, Bora Bora, Raiatea, Tahiti, Moorea, Rangiroa and Nuku Hiva.

Book a segment of a Grand Voyage and travel to several countries on one cruise.

Book a segment of a Grand Voyage and travel to several countries on one cruise.

Many other itineraries are included, such as a 14-day Australia and New Zealand cruise aboard ms Noordam in 2016; ms Volendam’s 30-day Solar Eclipse and Far East Discovery Collectors’ Voyage departing March 1, 2016; and several segments of the 2016 Grand World Voyage, 2016 Grand South America and Antarctica Voyage and 2016 Grand Mediterranean Voyage.

The promotion runs through Tuesday, March 31, 2015. For more information about eligible itineraries, click HERE.

Are you already thinking about taking a cruise in 2016? Tell us where you want to go!

On the island of Samoa, Jeff explored the gorgeous landscapes.
On the island of Samoa, Jeff explored the gorgeous landscapes.

These past three months the blog has been following Jeff, President’s Club member, “World Adventure” blogger and Holland America Blog contributor, as he cruises around the Far East on Amsterdam’s 2014 Grand Pacific and Far East Voyage. That voyage concluded Dec. 8 at San Diego, but the journey is not over for Jeff! Following a 14-day Panama Canal cruise and a 14-day southern Caribbean cruise, he begins a journey around the world on the ship’s 114-day Grand World Adventure.

Since we last read about Jeff’s epic adventures, he’s been all over the South Pacific and around Hawaii. Come along as Jeff concludes the 2014 Grand Pacific and Far East Voyage.

THE SOUTH PACIFIC

First the ship called at the gorgeous islands of New Caledonia, Iles des Pins, Fiji and Samoa in the South Pacific. Known for their lush landscapes and vivid scenery, Jeff captured the personality of each island through his photos.

Noumea, New Caledonia
At Noumea, New Caledonia, Jeff headed to the local markets, walked through the town and made way to Parc Forestier, a botanical garden containing both flora and fauna. Jeff noted that he had never seen so many peacocks in his life and called it a “magnificent day!”

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Iles des Pins
Next was a call at Iles des Pins, which Jeff called:

“One of the most beautiful islands in the South Pacific.”

JF_iles

IlesCollage

Latouka, Fiji
Although Jeff has been to Latouka, Fiji, several times, this visit was the first time he really spent time exploring the city of Lautoka.

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Suva, Fiji
The ship also called at Suva, Fiji. Jeff said:

Once again, the Fijian people proved themselves to be extraordinarily friendly.

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Apia, Samoa
At Apia, Samoa, Jeff toured the island and made several stops, including Falefa Falls, Fuipisa Falls, Sopo’aga Falls, the Togitogiga Waterfall, the Sinalei resort, Lupesina Treesort where rooms are built up in trees, the Papapapai-tai Water Falls, Robert Louis Stevenson’s house at Vailima and more!

Samoa

SamoaCollage

THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS

On the final leg of the 2014 Grand Pacific and Far East Voyage Amsterdam made its way around the Hawaiian Islands with calls at Maui, Hilo and Honolulu.

Hilo
At Hilo, despite the gloomy weather Jeff took a helicopter ride and captured some beautiful photos. He then went to Akaka Falls, taking in the scenic views along the way on the four-mile Pepe’ekeo Scenic drive, and he hiked down the Donkey Trail.

Hlei

HiloCollage

Honolulu
At Honolulu, Jeff set out in a rental car and headed to Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head State Park and much more!

HonoluluCollage

Kauai
The ship had an overnight call at Honolulu, so on the second day Jeff flew to Kauai for the day to explore the island.

Kauai

KauaiCollage

Lahaina, Maui
The final call in Hawaii was at Lahaina, Maui. Jeff and friends got a rental car and headed north toward Nakalele Point and the blowholes. They then drove through the Kahakuloa Village and went to Ioa Needle State Park before heading back north to Lahaina.

The day was filled with natural wonders and beauty. It was an amazing four days that we experienced in the Hawaiian Islands … So Beautiful! — Jeff

MauiCollage

After five days at sea, the ship concluded the voyage at San Diego.

The morning was kind of sad, seeing my friends off and coming to the realization that our wonderful Grand Pacific & Far East Voyage was indeed over. I decided to go out for the day and get a bit of exercise and take a bunch of photos. The perfect place was the San Diego Zoo! I took a taxi there and was one of the first people through the gates. It was a beautiful day and the San Diego Zoo never disappoints.

It was fun hiking around the zoo seeing all the animals and taking a photo here and there. When I was done, I walked back to the ship through Balboa Park down Prado to the water. Once aboard the ship everything was different, new friends and crew onboard and it seemed almost like I was on a new ship. It is nice to see old friends again but I do miss those that went home but … Some will be back in 28 days! At sailaway there was a beautiful sunset. Nice way to start a new voyage. — Jeff

A gorgeous sunset was the perfect way to begin a new voyage, said Jeff.

A gorgeous sunset was the perfect way to begin a new voyage, said Jeff.

Now it’s on to the holiday sailings and then the Grand World Voyage. Stay tuned to the Holland America Blog as we continue to follow Jeff on his adventures around the world in 2015.

And if you’re looking to explore the Far East on a spectacular voyage, the 91-day Passage to the Far East cruise on ms Rotterdam departing Jan. 7, 2016, is the ideal way to see the whole region!

A cruise to Antarctica is full of memorable moments.
A cruise to Antarctica is full of memorable moments.

It’s Black Friday in the United States, the day after Thanksgiving when consumers go out en masse to ramp up their holiday shopping. To celebrate this unofficial holiday, here is a list of the Top 8 cruises you should go out and book today — dream itineraries around the world that would make the ultimate gift this holiday season.

1. Two Maiden Calls in the Mediterranean

Canakkale, left, and Igoumenitsa are two maiden calls in 2015. Photos courtesy of goturkey.com and igoumenitsa.gr.

Canakkale, left, and Igoumenitsa are two maiden calls in 2015. Photos courtesy of goturkey.com and igoumenitsa.gr.

The 28-day Mediterranean & Black Sea Explorer cruise on ms Prinsendam has not one, but two maiden calls for 2015. New to Holland America Line are the ports of Igoumenitsa, Greece, and Canakkale, Turkey, both found on this extended journey. Departing Sept. 28, 2015, the cruise explores the Mediterranean at an ideal time of year, when the climate cools and crowds diminish. The ship departs Barcelona, Spain, and in addition to the two maiden ports it makes 20 calls at ports in France, Corsica, Sardinia, Italy, Albania, Georgia, Russia, the Ukraine and Romania. However, Greece and Turkey take center stage on this voyage with six calls in Greece and five in Turkey, including an overnight at Istanbul and two calls at Kusadasi. The ship also cruises The Dardanelles and features scenic cruising in the Bosporus.

2. Sun, Sand and Surf in the Caribbean

The golden beaches of the Caribbean await.

The golden beaches of the Caribbean await.

On a seven-day western Caribbean cruise aboard ms Nieuw Amsterdam, guests get the best of both worlds: two relaxing days at sea to unwind and enjoy the shipboard amenities, and four glorious ports that showcase the best of the Caribbean. Enjoy Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line’s provate Bahamian retreats; Georgetown, Grand Cayman, with incredible crystalline water; Cozumel, Mexico, steeped in history; and Key West, Fla., the tip of the U.S. boasting an eclectic culture, diverse water sports and an incredible atmosphere. Onboard, take advantage of the time to indulge in a treatment at the Greenhouse Spa, take in a demo at the Culinary Arts Center, learn how to share vacation photos at a Digital Workshop powered by Windows, learn to cha cha at a “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” dance class, catch up on a good book while lounging in a deck chair and so much more.

3. Glaciers Galore from the Sea and Sky

Guests looking for adventure can take the Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier by Helicopter tour in Juneau.

Guests looking for adventure can take the Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier by Helicopter tour in Juneau.

On an Alaska cruise, adventure awaits around every turn. From the stunning scenery viewed during cruising in the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay to incredible shore excursions that allow guests to fly over miles of glaciers or take a dogsled ride across the icy tundra, this gorgeous part of the world is waiting to be explored. On ms Oosterdam’s seven-day Glacier Bay Discovery Southbound itinerary, guests are able to visit both Glacier Bay and the Inside Passage, along with Juneau, Ketchikan and Haines, Alaska.

Guests on the Glacier Point Wilderness Safari tour in Haines take an expedition boat looking for wildlife, as well as a 31-foot voyager canoe to the face of the glacier. From Juneau, the Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier by Helicopter tour combines the thrill of a glacier helicopter tour with the oldest operating dog sled tour company.

Guest Gamma said this of the dog sledding tour:

Most awesome adventure of my life. Incredible weather, fantastic staff and thrilling to be riding a dog sled on a GLACIER!!

4. Ancient Gardens, Quiet Shrines and Neon Cities in the Far East

UNESCO World Heritage Site Ayutthaya can be visited from Laem Chabang.

UNESCO World Heritage Site Ayutthaya can be visited from Laem Chabang.

The Far East is a juxtaposition of sights, sounds and flavors. From bustling cities like Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai with vibrant skylines dominated by neon to quite sanctuaries like Koh Samui and Nha Trang with beautiful beaches and quiet charm, this part of the world is full of exotic discoveries that leave a lasting impression. Sailing from Hong Kong to Singapore, the 14-day Far East Discovery cruise on ms Volendam features both major cities and smaller villages with calls in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, including an overnight at Laem Chabang, the port for Bangkok. With extra time, guests can take an overnight tour that shows off the sights and sounds of the region.

5. Antarctica – Journey to the End of the World

A cruise to Antarctica is full of memorable moments.

A cruise to Antarctica is full of memorable moments.

The most remote continent in the world, a cruise to Antarctica is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure filled with more “ohhs” and “ahhhhhs” than you could ever imagine. From penguins gliding across the ice to imposing glaciers that can be seen above and below water, Antarctica is a must-do on every avid traveler’s bucket list. But going to the bottom of the world is just part of the adventure that makes a cruise around Cape Horn special. Prinsendam sails a Grand Voyage circumnavigation of South America in 2015 and 2016. The segment that includes Antarctica sails from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., through the Panama Canal, down the west coast to Peru, Chile and Argentina, then back up the east coast to the Falkland Islands and Uruguay before ending at Buenos Aires.

6. Experience the Fall Foliage in Canada & New England

Fall is a pretty time of year to visit Canada/New England. Photo by Hotel Director Marco van Belleghem.

Fall is a pretty time of year to visit Canada/New England. Photo by Hotel Director Marco van Belleghem.

Imaging sailing along the coast of New England and Canada, seeing the shoreline dotted with grand estates, picturesque lighthouses and of course, the vibrant jewel-toned hues of fall. For anyone who wants to experience gorgeous scenic cruising, delicious local cuisine and the charm and history of a region steeped in tradition, a Canada and New England cruise is the picture-perfect way to see all that this area has to offer. The seven-day Canada & New England Discovery cruise on Maasdam begins at Montreal, Canada, and sails down to Boston, Mass. Guests will enjoy scenic cruising in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with tree-lined shores, as well as calls at Quebec, Syndey and Halifax in Canada, and Bar Harbor, Maine, where the famous lobster roll awaits.

7. Beautiful Bermuda is Back

Bermuda is famous for its pink sand and pastel-colored homes.

Bermuda is famous for its pink sand and pastel-colored homes.

In 2015, ms Veendam will return to the pink sands and pastel-colored skyline of Bermuda with several seven-day roundtrip Boston voyages. With three overnights that include two full days and two half-days, guests will have multiple opportunities to experience Hamilton’s British charm, cultural heritage sites and world-renowned beaches on a variety of shore excursions. From the ship, guests can take a short walk to Front Street and explore its array of colorful shops and restaurants. Hamilton also is home to a massive 19th-century, neo-Gothic cathedral and the Georgian-style Sessions House, built in 1815.

8. G’Day Mate! Take a Cruise Down Under

There's a lot to see and do in Australia, including a visit to the famed Sydney Opera House.

There’s a lot to see and do in Australia, including a visit to the famed Sydney Opera House.

A trip Down Under is an incredible adventure, and there’s no better way to see the entire continent than on a 33-day Circumnavigation aboard Volendam in 2015. Sailing roundtrip from Sydney, the counter-clockwise journey not only explores the Great Barrier Reef, it also makes a quick escape up to Komodo Island and Bali before continuing on around the west coast and back to the starting point. Guests will enjoy an overnight at Perth and unique opportunities along the route to see some of the world’s most iconic sites like the Sydney Opera House and Ayers Rock.

These cruises are just a small selection among the hundreds offered by Holland America Line each year. Whether you seek an an adventure or relaxing vacation, whether you like culture and history or fun and sun, with destinations around the globe in a variety of lengths, there’s something for everyone.

If you could book any cruise on Black Friday, what itinerary would you choose?

The Great Wall of China is on the bucket list of many travelers. Jeff visited there from Beijing.
The Great Wall of China is on the bucket list of many travelers. Jeff visited there from Beijing.

Each year, Holland America Line carefully crafts Grand Voyages that offer extended journeys to some of the most incredible places in the world. The longer itineraries allow for in-depth explorations and immersive experiences that very few cruise lines offer.

Holland America Line has been sailing Grand Voyages for years, and no other cruise line offers as many or as exceptional options. In 2015, guests can choose from several Grand Voyages, including the 114-day Grand World Voyage, 68-day Grand South America and Antarctica Voyage and the 55-day Grand Mediterranean Voyage, not to mention other extended cruises like the 90-day Passage to the Far East sailing and the 45-day Far East and North Pacific Crossing.

Gerald Bernhoft, our director Mariner Society, recently joined ms Amsterdam October 23 in Hong Kong during the ship’s 78-day South Pacific and Far East Voyage to host several special Mariner events. While onboard, he met up with Jeff Farschman, President’s Club member, “World Adventure” blogger and Holland America Blog contributor. A Grand Voyage can be the best cruise you ever take, and Jeff confirmed this with his thoughts:

“Gerald, this is one of the best Grand Voyages I have ever been on. Every tiny little detail has not gone unnoticed. We are all having a great time.” — Jeff Farschman

Coming from Jeff, who has sailed on 13 Holland America Line Grand Voyages, that is saying a lot! To see what makes a Grand Voyage so special, read on to see more photos from Jeff that capture his journey through beautiful images. Since we last heard from him, he’s visited South Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Jakarta, Bali, Komodo Island and now he’s exploring Australia. It’s true that images often speak louder than words. Enjoy!

In South Korea, the ship called at Jeju where Jeff went to Hallim Park and captured all of the flora and fauna.

Hallim Park at Jeju, South Korea.

Enjoying Hallim Park at Jeju, South Korea.

The ship then called at Incheon, the port for Seoul. On the first day Jeff went to the Naryangjin Fish Market and Jogye Temple before heading off to see other sites like the Insa-dong Street market, Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Blue House, South Korea’s version of the White House in the U.S. On day two he visited a Korean Folk Village in Suwon.

The next location was a biggie! We went to Gyeongbokgung Palace for the changing of the guard and a tour of the Palace. What a magnificent place! I just loved it… The changing of the guard was fantastic, full of tradition. It was a fabulous part of the day! — Jeff

The sites and sounds of Seoul, South Korea.

The sites and sounds of Seoul, South Korea.

China is one of the most popular countries to visit. From bustling cities to quaint villages, it’s the dream destination of a lifetime for many travelers. On Jeff’s journey, he visited Beijing, Quindgao, Shanghai and Hong Kong. This is just a very small selection of his more-than 100 photos, so be sure to visit his blog to see them all.

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With four ports in China, three of them overnight calls, Jeff had a lot to see and do.

With four ports in China, three of them overnight calls, Jeff had a lot to see and do.

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Jeff had this to say about Hong Kong:

We had a wonderful sail into one of the world’s greatest ports this morning. It was … off to Lantau Island to visit the Tai O fishing village and the Po Lin Monastery and the big Buddha. We had a major highlight at the monastery when a huge number of Monks seem to gather while our backs were turned, just magnificent! After that we headed back to Kowloon, did some internet updates and went to the Temple Street Night Market. The evening was capped off with the Hong Kong laser light show. Great day!

Vietnam was a juxtaposition of images, from bustling Ho Chi Minh City to rural Phu My.

Vietnam.

Vietnam.

In Singapore, Jeff snapped 900 photos, Yes, 900! According to Jeff, he was the “first one off the ship and didn’t stop until 12-and-a-half hours later!”

Singapore.

Singapore.

When visiting Komodo Island, most guests go in search of the rare Komodo dragon. Jeff joined in on the adventure.

It was an extraordinarily hot day to go out and track down Komodo Dragons but that is exactly what we did. I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t a little bit of excitement during our trek — last time four dragons came after me. They must have lost their taste for my tender flesh. Anyway, we saw dragons so it was a successful day. It is always special when you can find a juvenile up in a tree where they spent their first three years so the adults don’t eat them. Great day capped off with an Indonesian Dinner in the Pinnacle Grill.

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An evening in the Pinnacle Grill wrapped up the day at Komodo.

An evening in the Pinnacle Grill wrapped up the day at Komodo.

The ship then sailed along to Darwin and Port Douglas, Australia. Since Jeff has been to Darwin before, he chose to go to explore the Botanical Gardens this time.

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In the evening, the ship held an “On Location” event that brings local culture, entertainment and experiences onboard. Guests enjoyed an Australian barbecue on deck accompanied by a didgeridoo musician.

"On Location" events bring the local flavor onboard.

“On Location” events bring the local flavor onboard.

“Wonderful evening!!! Now we have three days at sea as we make our way to Port Douglas, Australia. Loving this voyage…” — Jeff

After Darwin, the ship called at Port Douglas where Jeff and his tablemates headed to Mossman Gorge. They hiked down to the Mossman River on elevated walkways and across the Rex Creek Suspension Bridge. After their walk they met a guide and went on an Aboriginal Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk where they learned about the Aboriginal culture and how they lived off the land.

Mossman Gorge at Port Douglas.

Mossman Gorge at Port Douglas.

Next they headed to the Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas where they saw a variety of native animals in a rainbow of colors.

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And now it’s on to Sydney for Amsterdam and Jeff. With an overnight call, he’s sure to take in all of the sights of the city. Stay tuned to the blog for an update on Jeff’s journey as he heads to the South Pacific after leaving Australia.

Which port on Jeff’s journey looks the most interesting to you? Tell us below!

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!

Jeff's photo shows how picturesque the gardens are at Kushiro, Japan.
Jeff's photo shows how picturesque the gardens are at Kushiro, Japan.

President’s Club member and “World Adventure” blogger Jeff set sail on the 2014 Grand Pacific and Far East Voyage in September aboard ms Amsterdam. Jeff has more than 1,600 cruise day with Holland America Line and calls the ship his home away from home. Directly following this grand adventure, Jeff will stay onboard for the 2015 Grand World Voyage.

Throughout his voyages, we’ll be featuring Jeff’s fabulous photos that tell the story of his time onboard. From Asia to Australia, Singapore to Spain – and everywhere in between – experience Jeff’s cruising adventure through his incredible photo diary.

Jeff will be onboard for a while, so enjoy this Q&A that lets you get to know Jeff better … since we’ll be spending a lot of time together with him on the blog! Keep reading to see Jeff’s first couple of weeks onboard in photos.

When did you get bitten by the travel bug?
Jeff: I really got the travel bug back in 1972 when I moved to Europe for work. I spent the next two years traveling all over western Europe.

How long have you cruised with Holland America Line?
Jeff: I had my first cruise on November 19, 1988, on the ms Noordam, cruising the eastern Caribbean.

How many Holland America Line cruises have you been on?
Jeff: I am currently on my 35th Holland America Line cruise with over 1,600 cruise days.

What keeps you coming back?
Jeff: I have a passion for exploring the world and the Holland America Line staff are like family.

What’s your favorite Holland America Line ship and why?
Jeff: My favorite Holland America ship is the ms Amsterdam since it has become my second home. I have done the vast majority of my Holland America Line cruising aboard the ms Amsterdam, including seven Grand World Voyages and five Grand Asia-Pacific voyages.

What’s your favorite part of the world?
Jeff: I find Asia fascinating. There is so much to see and learn about Asian ports, cultures and the amazing people.

What are your top three ports?
Jeff: That is a very difficult question to answer since I have been blessed to explore so many fascinating locations around the world. A few that come to mind would be Mumbai, Bora Bora and any port that I get to visit for the very first time.

What’s been your most memorable moment on a Holland America Line cruise?
Jeff: My two most treasured memories are experiencing my first world voyage in 2007 and being inducted into the President’s Club during the 2013 World Voyage.

What do you like to do onboard?
Jeff: I like to relax pool-side enjoying the sunshine, visiting with friends and reading.

If you could move anywhere you’ve been on a Holland America Line cruise, where would it be?
Jeff: The Caribbean.

What destination is still on your “bucket list” of places to visit?
Jeff: The Baltic.

Your photos are stunning. What’s your inspiration?
Jeff: I try to show and share an accurate picture of the places I visit and the people I encounter. There are people around the world that for a variety of reasons are unable to travel as extensively I have been fortunate enough to do. The blog enables them to travel vicariously and to create their own personal bucket list. It’s the feedback I continuously receive from these people that is the real inspiration for my photography.

JEFF’S PHOTO DIARY

Embarkation:

The long awaited day finally arrived and I was home once again, aboard the ms Amsterdam. I had a very nice welcome by Stein Kruse, CEO of Holland America Line, along with Captain Fred Eversen; Hotel Director Henk Mensink; Gerald Bernhoft, Director of the Mariner Program; and our Cruise Director Gene Young. It was great boarding the ship with my friends Allan, Sandra, Brad and Gloria. Once aboard, it was very exciting seeing so many friends, both crew members as well as fellow guests. This is always one of the best parts of a Grand Voyage, getting reacquainted with old friends. Of course, the more you do these the more old friends you end up running into.

It was a wonderful day, aside from the arduous task of unpacking. After boat drill, there was a fabulous sail away party. As we sailed out of the harbor it soon became time to get serious about unpacking again. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about packing again for 7 months. This will be a fantastic voyage … we have 3 days at sea now heading for Kodiak, Alaska. In Kodiak I will be heading out with my friends Harry, Margo and Brad on a float plane in search of Kodiak Bears … Pretty exciting stuff!

Jeff was welcomed onboard by top executives and officers, top right, and enjoyed seeing friends.

Jeff was welcomed onboard by top executives and officers, top right, and enjoyed seeing friends.

Alaska:
The grand voyage called at Alaska ports after departing Seattle. Jeff’s photos are from visits to Kodiak and Dutch Harbor.

Alaska

AlaskaCollage

Japan:
Next up on the voyage was the country of Japan. Jeff snapped some gorgeous shots at Kushiro, Kanazawa and Fukuoka.

My tablemates and I all went on a tour together exploring the Kushiro area. We first stopped at the Kishiro Shitsugen National Park. We found lovely scenery and lots of Red Crested Cranes along the way … We then headed to Lake Akan and the Ainu Kotan … We loved watching them perform their native dances … Our final stop was at a private Japanese garden which was beautiful … It was a wonderful day exploring with a great group of friends!

Kushiro, Japan.

Kushiro, Japan.

Loved our visit to Kanazawa! Our first stop was at the Omi-cho Market which has been in existence for 270 years. We spent a fair amount of time there and then headed out on the loop bus for the Hashiba-cho area to see the Geisha houses. We enjoyed walking the street and checking out the tea houses, and then headed for the Kenrokuen Gardens, one of the top 3 gardens in all of Japan … Next we walked to the Kanazawa Castle Park to check out the castle and its gardens, just magnificent! To finish up the day we went to the Nomachi area to look at some Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.

Kanazawa, Japan.

Kanazawa, Japan.

Kanazawa, Japan.

Kanazawa, Japan.

I was pretty excited since this was a first time visit [to Fukuoka]. We had a fabulous day! We walked over 10 miles, took a lot of subways and buses and covered Fukuoka pretty well. We first headed to the Nishi Park area checking out the park, shrines and temples. Next we went to the Fukuoka Tower for some magnificent views. Then we headed to the Ohori Park for some real scenic beauty along with the Fukuoka Castle ruins and a major highlight the Gokoku Shrine. Then it was off to the Gion area where we visited three places of worship which were highlighted by the Tochoji Temple and the Shofukuji Temple.

Scenes from Fukuoka, Japan.

Scenes from Fukuoka, Japan.

Next up on the Grand Pacific and Far East Voyage is another call in Japan, then on to South Korea and China. Stay tuned to the blog for more of Jeff’s photos. And if you want to read Jeff’s blog, click HERE.

All photos in this blog post were taken by Jeff.