July 26, 2012
Today we docked in Kusadasi, Turkey. Our first stop on the Asian continent on this cruise. Most guests left the ship early to see the excavations at Ephesus. So did we, last year on ms Noordam. This year we stayed in Kusadasi.
HAL guest George Labecki and his family sailed aboard Nieuw Amsterdam’s Mediterranean Tapestry cruise throughout Europe this past July and documented his experience in a journal. Below is the first entry from his visit to Pisa and Florence. Enjoy!
Beginning the Weave: Pisa and Florence, Italy
The face of Tuscany has a thousand eyes, and all the irises are sunflowers. Driving along Tuscany, you see acre after acre of sunflowers winking at you and calling you with their siren song to come and visit, come and stay. Tuscany was where we spent the day today. We rose at 5:45 for a shower and a quick breakfast on the Lido deck before we made our way to the lounge to be assigned a bus for the day. Blue 24 was the sticker we wore. The only thing more blue was the sky today as we made our way first to Pisa and then to Florence.
We were told by many that Pisa was a tourist trap and that we had to go there because it’s one of the things that you “have to do.” Maybe it’s because we were there on a Sunday; maybe it was some factor that we didn’t understand, but fortunately for us, on this day Pisa was a quiet and remarkable place. Sure, we were greeted by dozens of people trying to sell us a real Rolex for the remarkable price of 5 Euros, but those guys are everywhere, and as long as you didn’t make eye contact, they left you alone. We spent the morning taking amazing photographs made amazing if only for the fact that we were standing in the place we had all read about in our schoolbooks. But when the lesson ceases to be a lesson and becomes real, that’s when you have the “Aha” moment. That was us today.
Thinking about cruising with us next summer? Well, lucky seven is our magic number in summer 2013 when we deploy seven ships to Europe and feature seven maiden ports of call. The seven ships sailing on more than 53 unique European itineraries — Eurodam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, Prinsendam, Rotterdam, Ryndam and Veendam — will cruise throughout the region on 107 departures that span from the northern tip of Norway to the Black Sea and across the Mediterranean.
Ranging from seven to 64 days, these cruises give our guests the opportunity to explore a variety of destinations, from iconic ports of call as well as smaller, less-traveled and equally fascinating port cities.
The 2013 Europe cruise season reflects our focus on destination diversity, timeless appeal and quality. Maiden port calls include Alanya, Turkey; Alcudia (Mallorca), Spain; Galway and Killybegs, Ireland; Hydra and Igoumenitsa, Greece; and Sassnitz, Germany. A total of 20 overnight stays at some of Europe’s popular ports provide guests with more time to explore several of the world’s most interesting destinations. Overnight calls include Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Barcelona, Spain; Bordeaux, France; Copenhagen, Denmark; Dublin, Ireland; Venice, Italy; Hamburg, Germany; St. Petersburg, Russia; Istanbul, Turkey, and more.
Special thanks to Nieuw Amsterdam’s Florist Yusdi Widodo for sharing these beautiful photos from port calls throughout the Mediterranean.
Special thanks to HAL guest James Ogden for sharing this touching story with our blog.
My great grandparents were the first generation of my family to sail with Holland America Line, in the 1950′s. They sailed with HAL four times between 1954 and 1960, on transatlantic voyages, between various cities in Europe and New York. My great grandfather was an engineer and had annual conferences and meetings to attend in Europe, and he and my great grandmother sailed both ways across the ocean as often as possible, even after jet aircraft started to become more popular. My great grandfather was born before airplanes and cars had been invented and was not particularly comfortable with flying. He always said he did not like it because if something broke, you could not simply stop and fix it! Sailing across the ocean gave him and my great grandmother several days to relax and enjoy the ocean too.
The first voyage my great grandparents took on Holland America Line was on the Noordam, from Rotterdam to New York. They departed Rotterdam on October 23, 1954, at 3:00pm, and arrived in Hoboken, NJ, on November 1, 1954, at 9:00pm. This is their most documented voyage on HAL. We have several photographs from that voyage, as well as some early videos. The videos do not have sound, but are quite interesting all the same. We also have a telegram sent by them, from the ship, to my grandparents, who would be picking them up upon arrival in New York, advising them of a change in the arrival time, due to rough seas. There are also several journal entries about the voyage, and some postcards and playing cards they got while on the ship. These are the actual pages out of the photo albums they made after the trip, including the handwritten captions.
Travel blogger Geoff Edwards recently sailed aboard Nieuw Amsterdam from Fort Lauderdale to the Eastern Caribbean. To read more about Geoff’s experience on Nieuw Amsterdam, click HERE.
A Day At Sea:
Most of the day we sailed along the south side of Cuba. “The Culinary Arts Center program, presented by Food & Wine magazine, is a groundbreaking program that integrates guests’ love for fine food and wine with an unique and entertaining experience.” Michael checked out “Three Chefs Demo” and also attended Caribbean Heat. The Culinary Arts Center Program takes place in a large (200 plus seating) room with a stage, state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen, plus multiple large screens providing close ups of the food preparation.