From South America to Europe to Australia, Holland America Line’s ships cruise to some of the most breathtaking places around the world. Among these sights, however, there are some that we consider better than the rest, iconic. Defined as “widely known and acknowledged especially for distinctive excellence,” you can experience their excellence firsthand on your next Holland America Line cruise.
Istanbul: Blue Mosque
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque, was built in the early 1600s during the rule of Ahmed I. The mosque is named for its richly adorned interior of magnificent Iznik tiles, though its exterior is equally as impressive. Its classical Turkish design features six minarets. The mosque is the first stop on the Ottoman Wonders tour and can also be seen on the Best of Istanbul tour, both which also feature the amazing Topkapi Palace.
Pisa: The Leaning Tower of Pisa
With a call at Livorno, Italy, you can head to one of the country’s most popular symbols, the Tower of Pisa. This freestanding bell tower is known worldwide for its sideways tilt. Don’t forget to take the typical Pisa picture of yourself holding up the tower — or at least enjoy watching the tourists that do! The Lucca & Pisa tour will also give you the chance to enjoy a walk through the ancient city of Lucca at the northwest corner of Tuscany.
Rome: The Colosseum
Rome is nicknamed the Eternal City, and rightly so for its array of icons including the Pantheon, Castel Sant’Angelo, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and one of the world’s most popular sites — the Colosseum. Also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, the Colosseum was the largest amphitheater of the Roman Empire and one of Roman architecture’s best works. Located east of the Roman Forum, its construction began under Vespasian in 70 AD and completed in 80 AD under Titus. The Panoramic Rome & St. Peter’s Basilica is the perfect way to see much of the Eternal City’s stunning architecture.
Rio de Janeiro: Christ the Reedemer Statue at Corcovado
No sight is more famous in Rio de Janeiro, and even Brazil, than the statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado Mountain. Over 300,000 visitors make the trip every year to see the statue and the stunning view from the peak’s platform of downtown Rio. With the Corcovado & Rio Highlights tour, you will enjoy a drive through the city to the Tijuca Forest National Park. Then you will board a 115-year-old cogwheel tram for a 20-minute ride through the forest to the top of the mountain. The tram ride features spectacular views of the city’s beaches, buildings and bridges. At the top, you can choose between an elevator or escalator to the summit — a 2,400-foot climb! The statue stands 125 feet tall and will always welcome you with open arms.
Lima: Macchu Picchu
A call at Callao (Lima), Peru, is the perfect opportunity to see the ruins at Machu Picchu. This stone city was built in the 15-century but abandoned just a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. It was rediscovered in 1911 by American historian Hiram Bingham. The Lost City of the Incas represents the cultural heritage of mankind and is located almost 8,000 feet above sea level. The Cuzco & Machu Picchu Overland Adventure is perfect for itineraries with overnight calls at Callao followed by a call at Lima, where you will fly to on the third day of the tour to meet the ship. You must book this tour prior to sailing.
Sydney: Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House in Australia might be the youngest sight on this list, but it is still incredibly impressive. Designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon, the opera house opened in October of 1973. The space hosts over 1,500 performances each year and the Evening at the Sydney Opera House shore excursion is the perfect way for you to take in one of them. Attending a performance here will be the experience of a lifetime and you will quickly understand why it’s considered a Holland America Line Medallion Collection tour!
St. Petersburg: Church on the Spilled Blood
St Petersburg, Russia’s, Church on the Spilled Blood is one of the most remarkable buildings in the world. Built in 1907 on the spot where the Russian Czar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881, the church features an embellished and exuberant style with ornate decorations and incredible attention to detail. A 23,000 square foot area inside is believed to be the largest indoor mosaic in the world, put together by the best mosaic stone carvers of the 19th and 20th century. You can visit this church and also enjoy a riverboat ride through the “Venice of the North” with the St. Petersburg Waterways & Church on the Spilled Blood excursion.
Agra: Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is a marble mausoleum found in Agra, India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife around 1632, though construction was not completed until 20 years later. Today, more than three million people visit every year. The Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. The agency called it “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.” You can admire Taj Mahal on the Taj Mahal Overland Adventure tour that begins in Mumbai with a flight to Delhi and visits the Taj Mahal at sunrise — widely regarded as the best time to see it — on the third day of the tour. You will also enjoy stop at Humayuns Tomb, Agra Fort, and plenty other impressive sights before flying to Dubai on the fourth day of the tour to meet the ship.
You can take in the Blue Mosque and Colosseum with ms Prinsendam’s 17-day Grand Voyage that starts with an overnight in Instanbul and ends at Civitavecchia departing on April 19, 2015, or with Nieuw Amsterdam’s 12-day Mediterranean Tapestry you can enjoy the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Colosseum with calls at Florence and Civitavecchia. Nieuw Amsterdam departs Barcelona, Spain, on April 22, May 28 and September 13, 2015. You can explore Machu Piccu with ms Statendam’s 15-day Incan Empires cruise departing San Diego, California, on March 15, 2015, or enjoy Corcovado at Rio de Janeiro and famous Carnaval on ms Maasdam’s 24-day Amazon and Carnaval Explorer itinerary that departs from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on January 14, 2016.
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 visited any of these icons? Tell us your favorite in the comments below.