Tag Archives: ms Rotterdam

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.

Montreal is the cultural capital of Canada and a highlight on the 10-day cruises.
Montreal is the cultural capital of Canada and a highlight on the 10-day cruises.

Holland America Line is stepping up the 2016 Canada and New England program and adding five incredible 10-day cruise options. These cruises allow for the perfect amount of time to see the region’s best destinations. From the chic French culture of Montreal and Quebec City to storybook lighthouses dotted throughout Halifax and Charlottetown, guests can take in stunning scenery, charming cobblestone streets and plenty of European charm.

These 10-day cruises on ms Rotterdam and ms Zuiderdam are highlighted by a combination of the 13 ports listed below. Here’s what makes each unique and worth a visit. We’re sure by the end of the list you’ll be ready to plan your 2016 Canada/New England cruise vacation.

Quebec City, Quebec
The singular image of the city is a hotel surrounded by cannons. Built to evoke a mountain castle, Chateau Frontenac sits atop a cape above the St. Lawrence River. The hotel is part of the city’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and with all the stone buildings and winding streets, you’ll love its European charm and can take the funicular or the steps down to the Lower Town.

All 10-day cruises feature calls in two quintessential Canadian ports: Montreal and Quebec City, Quebec.

All 10-day cruises feature calls at two quintessential ports: Quebec City and Montreal, Quebec.

Montreal, Quebec
The cultural capital of Canada, Montreal always seems to show up on “most livable city” lists and has been named a UNESCO City of Design. You can enjoy a stroll along the historical streets of Old Montreal, Parc Jean-Drapeau and the cubist residential welter of Habitat 67. French is the first language of most residents, but the shopping and dining are international.

Saguenay, Quebec

Saguenay's breathtaking scenery leaves a lasting impression.

Saguenay’s breathtaking scenery leaves a lasting impression.

Gorgeous, green and Gallic, Saguenay is a charming village that is the gateway to some of North America’s most stunning scenery. Majestic fjords, dramatic rocky capes and picturesque hamlets all await. Here you can enjoy seeing the work of the village’s many artisans — from glassblowers to angora goat farmers — or take in its beautiful nature with hiking and kayaking tours.

Gaspe, Quebec

Gaspe is another beautiful Canadian destination.

Gaspe is another beautiful Canadian destination.

Nestled in a rugged coastline dotted with tiny fishing villages and lighthouses, Gaspé lies in the shadow of the Chic-Choc Mountains. With more than 800 square miles of preserved parks, its natural beauty and abundant wildlife is astounding. Herds of caribou and elk roam freely; eagles and puffins share quiet coves. You can visit Percé Rock, take in Forillon National Park or walk through the city.

St. John’s, New Brunswick
St. John’s historic area, made up of old churches and buildings with ornate carvings and exquisite stained-glass windows, features nearly 400 years of history. And, this is one of the friendliest cities you will ever visit. Enjoy the beauty of the Bay of Fundy and its reversing rapids from Fort Howe and take in the Victorian architecture of the city.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Charlottetown is the largest city in Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island, as well as its capital. Its Victorian architecture, abundance of parks and harborside location make it one of the most popular ports in the region. Walk the cobblestones of Victoria Row, see the house that inspired “Anne of Green Gables” or explore the wild shore of Prince Edward Island National Park.

The picturesque coasts of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and Halifax are not to be missed.

The picturesque coasts of Charlottetown and Halifax are not to be missed.

Halifax, Nova Scotia
Halifax, Nova Scotia, is big enough to be the economic and cultural capital of eastern Canada, but small enough to be easygoing and hospitable. It is located on one of the planet’s great natural harbors and adorned with landmarks like the Citadel fortress, Pier 21 and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Outside the city, you can see craggy coastlines, the bouldered topography of Peggy’s Cove and the German village of Lunenburg.

Sydney, Nova Scotia
At the northeast end of Nova Scotia, Latin for “New Scotland,” sits Cape Breton Island, whose wild and lovely topography includes Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Bras d’Or Lake and miles of rugged coastline. There are highland villages for you to see, the scenic Cabot Trail to explore, golden inland seas to sail and the Fortress of Louisbourg to inspect.

Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is one of America’s oldest cities and retains more original colonial-period buildings than any other. You can stroll through the heart of the town and hear the story about how this neighborhood became a model for historic preservation. The Vanderbilts, Astors and Morgans had their summer homes here. They called them “cottages,” but a stroll along Cliff Walk reveals some of the grandest mansions in America.

Guests love to admire Newport's "cottages."

Guests love to admire Newport’s “cottages.”

Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine, is historic and quixotic, featuring restaurants with some of the most luscious Maine lobster you can find. Take in the beautiful Old Port with old red brick buildings that have been transformed into charming restaurants, pubs, boutiques and galleries. Kennebunkport, summer home of President George H.W. Bush, is a charming coastal village located just 45 minutes south.

Bar Harbor, Maine
For much of the year, sunlight touches the United States first at Cadillac Mountain on the Maine Coast. From the granite-slabbed summit, light tiptoes down across the rest of Mount Desert Isle, Acadia National Park, the town of Bar Harbor and then the rest of the country. At Bar Harbor, you can walk the streets of town, relax on the Village Green or climb Cadillac Mountain.

Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine, are a photographer's dream.

Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine, are a photographer’s dream.

Boston, Massachusetts
There is no better way to get a sense of the Revolutionary struggle that changed our nation’s destiny than with a stroll along Boston’s Freedom Trail. Along the way: Paul Revere House, Old North Church, the Old State House and Faneuil Hall, gathering place of the early revolutionaries. Farther afield: Lexington Green, where the minutemen and redcoats first skirmished and bewitching Salem.

Gloucester, Massachusetts
Since 1623, Gloucester, Massachusetts’ rugged coastline and sandy coves have enticed visitors to its shores. Nature lovers will revel in its whale-watching and hiking trail opportunities.

All 10-day cruises include a call at Boston or Gloucester, Massachusetts.

All 10-day cruises include a call at Boston or Gloucester, Massachusetts.

New York, New York
If you closed your eyes, you would still know you were in New York. You can visit a museum — like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, the Guggenheim or the American Museum of Natural History — or take a walk through Times Square or Central Park. And don’t forget about shopping along 5th Avenue, going to the top of the Empire State Building or sailing over to the iconic Statue of Liberty. No matter how many times you visit, there will always be something new to do!

There is always something new to see in New York.

There is always something new to see in New York.

Rotterdam’s and Zuiderdam’s 10-Day Canada and New England Itineraries
Rotterdam’s 10-day Canada and New England Discovery cruise departs Aug. 24 and includes calls at Boston, Portland, St. John, Halifax, Sydney, Charlottetown, Gaspe, Saguenay, scenic cruising in Saguenay Fjord, Quebec City and Montreal.

Zuiderdam’s 10-day Colors of Canada and New England cruises depart Sept. 7 and 27 and call at New York, Gloucester, Bar Harbor, Halifax, Sydney, Charlottetown, scenic cruising in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Saguenay, scenic cruising in Saguenay Fjord and Quebec City (overnight).

Guests also can take this cruise from Quebec City to New York, departing Sept. 17. This itinerary includes the same ports of call minus Saguenay and scenic cruising Saguenay Fjord, but adds a call at Newport.

Rotterdam’s 10-day Canada and New England Discovery departs on Oct. 15 and visits Montreal, scenic cruising the Saint Lawrence River, Quebec City, scenic cruising the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Charlottetown, Sydney, Halifax, Bar Harbor, Boston, Newport and New York

If you booked one of these 10-day cruises, which of these cities would you look forward to seeing the most? Tell us in the comments below.

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. Canada & New England cruises are included! Check out the offer to see if your date is available and book now!

Discover the Far East on these incredible cruises.
Discover the Far East on these incredible cruises.

More and more travelers have their eye on a trip to Asia for its unique culture, welcoming people, exotic cuisine and coastal beauty, but planning a trip to a region so vast can be difficult to do alone. That’s where Holland America comes in! Here are five reasons why your trip to Asia should be on a Holland America Line cruise, and five itineraries that will make the trip one you’ll remember forever.

1. Travel in Comfort
Traveling on a Holland America Line cruise is traveling in premium luxury and comfort. The real beauty of a cruise is that we do all of the work for you so you can sit back, relax and immerse yourself in the adventure. Our staterooms are elegantly appointed, assuring that you’ll have a restful sleep. And Holland America Line’s fleet of 15 ships has anything and everything you could ask for. Looking for some pampering? Head to the Greenhouse Spa for a massage or facial. Want to learn more about the local culture? On Location activities bring traditions and customs onboard. Eager to cook like a pro? Head to the Culinary Arts Center for a demonstration. All of your dining and entertainment is at your fingertips, so your hardest decision of the day will be steak or lobster.

Top left: Ayutthaya, bottom left: Angkor Wat, right: local market offerings

Ayutthaya (top left), Angkor Wat (bottom left), local market offerings (right)

Embark ms Volendam’s 14-day Far East Passage, roundtrip Singapore, departing Dec. 8, 2015. With two days at Bangkok, you will have time to see the juxtaposition of bustling streets and markets that stand side by side with serene golden temples and glitzy nightclubs. The cruise also affords the opportunity to see the unforgettable beauty of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the ancient capital of Thailand; Angkor Wat at Cambodia, the largest temple in the world; and Ho Chi Minh City’s City Museum with its notable collection of artifacts. Additional ports of call include Nathon (Koh Samui), Thailand; Sihanoukville, Cambodia; Phy My and Nha Trang, Vietnam; Sabahlaem, Malaysia; and Muara, Brunei Darussalam.

2. Organized Shore Excursions
It’s no surprise why people love traveling to Asia. It’s a region full of mystery and adventure. Glistening temples seem to appear around every corner, there’s an abundance of exciting wildlife, the cuisine is dynamic, the culture places emphasis on spiritual enlightenment and self reflection, the climate is tropical, the landscapes are breathtaking and you just can’t beat that exchange rate.

When traveling to a place you’ve never been before, it can be difficult to plan out various activities. When making plans on your own, you risk missing out on the best the city has to offer! Holland America Line’s shore excursions are carefully crafted to offer all of the best experiences at each port, and they include knowledgeable guides who will further enrich the adventure! All you have to do is show up and enjoy!

Bali is about as exotic as a destination can get with stunning vistas, beautiful fauna and interesting culture.

Bali is about as exotic as a destination can get with stunning vistas, beautiful fauna and interesting culture.

The 14-day Indonesian Discovery on ms Volendam, roundtrip from Singapore, departs Jan. 5, 2016, and features great shore excursion opportunities. You will get to explore Indonesia from all angles with seven different ports of call. An overnight at Benoa (Denpasar), Bali, located between Java and Lombok, features a location as mysterious and beautiful as a South Sea island pearl. You can trek up a hill to the Tanah Lot Temple, immerse yourself in Balinese dance or discover intricate teak and ebony masks and hand-carved treasures in the artist colony Ubud. The Sangeh Monkey Forest is a must-see for travelers who enjoy exotic plants and animals. Additional calls include Tanjung Priok, Jakarta; Semarang and Probolinggo, Java; Lembar, Lombok; Komodo Island; and Surabaya. The cruise ends on a high note with an overnight at Singapore.

3. We’ll do the Cooking and Cleaning!
When you’re vacationing in Asia there’s no time to spare for daily chores like cooking and cleaning! We do the hard work so you have more time to spend enjoying your cruise. Forfeit the tiresome responsibilities to Holland America’s award-winning service staff.

Kuala Lumpur (left), Shwedagon Pagoda (top right), Phuket (bottom right)

Kuala Lumpur (left), Shwedagon Pagoda (top right), Phuket (bottom right)

Enjoy local flavors onboard during the 14-day Asian Adventure on Volendam, roundtrip from Singapore departing Feb. 16, 2016. This itinerary is highlighted by three days at Thilawa, Myanmar. Thilawa lies at the mouth of the Yangon River about an hour drive from the hustle and bustle of Yangon (Rangoon, Burma). This destination features a wealth of cultural must-see sites, natural attractions and excellent shopping. When in Yangon, travelers enjoy visits to the Shwedagon Pagoda, counted by Burmese devotees as the most sacred Buddhist temple. Guests also take time to see Myanmar’s street markets. In addition to Thilawa, this itinerary includes calls at Phuket, Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Malacca, Malaysia; and ends with an overnight at Singapore.

4. Effortlessly Travel to Many Cities and Countries
You want to visit as many cities and countries as possible, but if we’re being honest, no one really enjoys the painstaking process of traveling from hotel to hotel in each new city. Logistics can be tricky and time-consuming, not to mention costly. You can rid yourself of those headaches with a Holland America Line cruise. You’ll go to bed at night in your elegant and relaxing stateroom, then wake up the next morning just steps from your next adventure in an entirely new city. No repacking and unpacking. And your cruise fare includes meals, accommodations, entertainment and so much more, making it an incredible value. Traveling doesn’t get any easier than this!

Two days at Bombay offer guests the opportunity to explore all it has to offer.

Two days in Bombay offer guests the opportunity to explore all it has to offer.

The 50-day Passage to the Far East cruise on ms Rotterdam departs Singapore Feb. 17 and features an extraordinary itinerary that not only lets you explore many cities, but also many countries. The cruise is highlighted by overnight calls at Singapore; Surabaya, Indonesia; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Mumbai (Bombay), India; Aqaba, Jordan; and a transit of the Suez Canal. At Surabaya, guests can visit the Grand Mosque of Surabaya or Al-Akbar Mosque, the largest in east Java. At Mumbai, guests can spend one day exploring the ancient, religious India at Elephanta Island, with its network of caves sculpted by Hindu and Buddhist artisans, and the second day discovering the British colonial side at Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Both sides feature UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

5. Communicate with Ease
While many of the locals speak English, there’s nothing more comforting than always being able to communicate with ease. We’ll assist you in English (and many other languages of our international guests) throughout your trip, both onboard and off, so you can have an exciting and stress-free holiday.

Vacation is all about being able to relax and enjoy the limited time you have away from life’s daily grind. A Holland America Line cruise ensures safety and comfort, without forfeiting adventure.

China is filled with interesting history.

China is filled with interesting history.

Access to English-speaking guides and destination experts will come in handy on the 30-day Far East Discovery, China & Japan Collectors’ Voyage that visits multiple locales speaking different languages! Volendam departs Singapore March 17, 2016, with the trip ending at Yokohama, Japan. Aside from exciting calls at Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, including an overnight at Bangkok, this itinerary features some of China’s and Japan’s most interesting ports. In China, the ship calls at Hong Kong and Dalian, and overnights at Shanghai and Xingang (Beijing). Guests then head to Incheon (Seoul), South Korea, before calls at Nagasaki and Kobe, Japan.

Volendam's cruises from Singapore offer an in depth exploration of Asia.

Volendam and Rotterdam’s cruises from Singapore offer an in depth exploration of Asia.

Book your Asia cruise with Holland America Line’s exclusive Explore 4 promotion on select January 2016 through April 2017 sailings that provides four added-value extras: a free Signature Beverage Package valued at up to US$1,400, free Pinnacle Grill dinner for two, reduced cruise fares for third and fourth guests in the same stateroom and 50 percent reduced deposits. Suite bookings also receive a $300 onboard spending credit per stateroom ($150 per person) and a free Canaletto dinner in addition to the other offers.

And remember that the shore excursions can be pre-booked so you’re sure to get the tour of your choice.

Have you ever wanted to visit Asia? Tell us why in the comments below!

There's a lot of gorgeous scenery on the Voyage of the Vikings cruise, including Prince Christian Sound. Photo by Jan Yetke.
There's a lot of gorgeous scenery on the Voyage of the Vikings cruise, including Prince Christian Sound. Photo by Jan Yetke.

Holland America Line Mariners and frequent cruisers Jan and Dick Yetke set sail July 25 on Veendam’s “Voyage of the Vikings” Collectors’ Voyage that cruises from Boston, Massachusetts, to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and back. Collectors’ Voyages combine back-to-back itineraries into one, longer cruise, and this is one of our most popular.

Come along with Jan and Dick on their grand sojourn as they visit Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, and more! See the beautiful scenery and memorable sights, like this cute seal at Prince Christian Sound.

SealCollage

CORNER BROOK, NEWFOUNDLAND:
After two wonderful days at sea (calm), we docked in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada. Weather was lovely – comfortable temperature and partly cloudy! We took the shuttle into town, not knowing exactly what we were going to do, and low and behold we discovered a bike rental shop! So, of course, we rented a couple bikes (and they were electric assist) and off we went. We had a lovely ride along the trail out along the waterfront and back. It was a great treat that we did not expect to find.

Biking around Corner Brook.

Biking around Corner Brook.

RED BAY, LABRADOR:
The next day we anchored off Red Bay, Labrador, Canada, at about 8:00 am. This is a very small community now of only about 300 people. Had a very nice walk down the road and then up the hill to the church. Next door was a historical museum which was very interesting. As we were getting ready to go back down the hill and back to the ship, the fog was rolling in and the ship was “sinking” down into the fog! We enjoyed the stop here.

Veendam in the fog.

Veendam in the fog.

churchCollage

QAQORTOQ, GREENLAND:
This was a beautiful day visiting a small village here on the southwest corner of Greenland – very remote! At just over 3,000 inhabitants Qaqortoq is the largest town in Southern Greenland. We walked past the museum, saw the fountain which was built in 1927 and is the oldest fountain in Greenland, and up the hill to the Church of Our Savior, a beautiful wooden church built in 1832. We really enjoyed all the beautiful Norwegian-influenced colorful homes which dotted the hillsides.

QaqortoqCollage

PRINCE CHRISTIAN SOUND:
What an absolutely glorious, beautiful day we had cruising the Prince Christian Sound and other passages thru lower southeastern Greenland! The weather could not have been more perfect for doing this – sunny, blue skies, just a few clouds, no wind, very calm waters, brisk chill! We just stood outside on a high forward deck (outside the gym) for a couple hours enjoying the beauty and marveling at what a great job they were going making our way thru all the ice!

PrinceChristianCollage

At dinner we celebrated our anniversary with a delicious chocolate cake they made and had a huge group of waiters gather around to sing for us! Great fun!

AnniversaryCollage

REYKJAVIK, ICELAND:
We had two glorious days in Reykjavik, Iceland, situated on the western shores of Iceland. We purchased a ticket for the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus and went by the Perlan (where they have five large storage tanks for the hot water that comes up from the ground and is used for heat), the Hallgrimskirkja (main church), National Museum, Whales of Iceland Museum, Harpa (large, glass concert hall and convention center), and several other places. The little white house in the photo is where Pres. Regan and Gorbechev from Russia met for a meeting but nothing was decided. The second day we took the bus back into town and walked up the main street to the Cathedral. It is beautiful inside! This is a Lutheran Parish church and is the largest church in Iceland. Outside is a statue of Leif Erikson, who they say discovered America before Columbus.

icelandCollage

GEIRANGERFJORD, NORWAY:
On the tender, Dick and I got to sit up in the lookout seats by the driver. One of the most famous and beautiful sights are the Seven Sisters Waterfalls, so I got a wonderful photo of them. Upon arrival at the town we took the City Sightseeing Bus, which in most towns is the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus, but here your ticket just allowed you one trip around the circuit, 1 hour and 20 minutes, with two stops at fabulous viewpoints high up on the mountains – Flydalsjuvet (overlooked the city and harbour) and Eagle Road (which overlooked the Seven Sisters Waterfalls and all surrounding mountains).

GeirangerCollage

After calls at Alesund and Bergen, Norway, the ship ended the first half of the voyage at Amsterdam.

AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS:
We got off the ship and picked up our rental car. Then headed north and east for two-and-a-half-hours to a town called Papenburg, Germany. When Dick saw the announcement a month or so ago by Carnival Corp. about their new mega-ship they were ordering, he saw that it would be built at the Meyer Werft Shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. He went to the shipyard website and found out that they offered tours. We signed up for a 2 p.m. tour that day. The tour was about 2 hours in length and was extremely interesting!

They had two wet/dry dock buildings, but as the ships have gotten bigger, they had to turn one into a totally dry dock where they make parts and pieces of the ship, and the other one where they assemble the parts and pieces. They are bound by a width of 42 metres and they are bound by a height depending on where the ship is going – i.e. bridges it has to get under, and the building it is built in.

ShipCollage

DUBLIN, IRELAND:
Dublin is a great city. We got on the City Sightseeing Hop-On-Hop-Off bus, red route. The River Liffey runs thru the city and there is a Canal circling the perimeter of the city. The bus went out to the zoo, past many beautiful parks, churches, shops, and many different neighborhoods. After riding the whole circuit (about 1 hour 20 minutes), we picked a stop to get off at which was next to St. Stephens Green – another beautiful park. However, this was also an area of restaurants and shops! We walked down Dawson Street and found a nice little restaurant – 37 Dawson.

Dublin Collage

SEYDISFJORDUR, ICELAND:
What a beautiful, peaceful little village this was! This town was way up a fjord so we had some scenic cruising getting in and out. We got off the ship and headed up and to the left to hike up the path along the waterfall. As you see in a photo, I stopped where the path got muddy. Dick kept going. So, how does one communicate with each other when in this situation? Text to each other on your cell phone, of course! I said “Where are you?” He said “Turn around and look up and to the right of the waterfall.” Well, as you can see, I eventually found him looking thru some bushes.

Iceland2Collage

AKUREYRI, ICELAND:
This was another very nice small town where we just got off the ship and walked into and thru the town main street, up the hill next to the church, continued on up the hill to see the Community Center with pools and work out rooms. In front of the Community Center was a geese refuge since they were contained in this area of two ponds. It was a beautiful day and we had a great walk around town!

Iceland3Collage

The ship also made two more calls in Iceland and Greenland, as well as explored Prince Christian Sound again. The voyage ends this Saturday following calls at Canada and Maine.

If your not as adventurous as Jan and Dick or simply prefer to take a Holland America Line shore excursion to many of these sights, the shore excursions in these ports can be pre-booked so you to get the tour of your choice.

If these photos make you want to embark on the 2016 Voyage of the Vikings Collectors’ Voyage, now’s the time to book with Explore 4 savings.

If you’re interested in other itineraries that include these incredible ports, check out the 32-Day Fjords, Highlands & Vikings Collectors’ Voyage aboard Rotterdam departing June 18, 2016; the shorter 14-day Fjords & Highlands segment also departing June 18; Zuiderdam’s 12-Day Northern Isles departing July 16; and Prinsendam’s 34-day North Cape & Celtic Explorer Collectors’ Voyage departing Aug. 3.

Even more exciting is that some of Koningsdam’s maiden season itineraries include several of these ports, so you can visit them on our newest ship! Come aboard the 21-Day Norse Legends & Northern Isles Collectors’ Voyage departing Aug. 7, 2016, or the 12-Day Norse Legends cruise departing Aug. 14.

All of these voyages also are eligible for Explore 4 savings, so don’t wait to book so you get the cabin and date of your choice.

HRH Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, center, was on-hand to celebrate ms Rotterdam's 100th call at the Port of Rotterdam.
HRH Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, center, was on-hand to celebrate ms Rotterdam's 100th call at the Port of Rotterdam.

Holland America Line’s ms Rotterdam sailed into the Port of Rotterdam for its milestone 100th call Saturday, July 4, 2015.

Rotterdam arriving at the Port of Rotterdam for its 100th call.

Rotterdam arriving at the Port of Rotterdam for its 100th call.

Rotterdam’s godmother, Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, attended the shipboard festivities that included a welcoming concert in the terminal by a local choir, special luncheon and performance by Dutch singer and winner of “The Voice of Holland” Iris Kroes. Holland America Group Chief Executive Officer Stein Kruse and Executive Director of Cruise Port Rotterdam Mai Elmer also attended.

Rotterdam Express, a local children’s choir, sang “Hello Rotterdam” for Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands.

Rotterdam Express, a local children’s choir, sang “Hello Rotterdam” for Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands.

Margot Bartelink presented HRH Princess Margriet with flowers to honor the occasion.

Margot Bartelink presented HRH Princess Margriet with flowers to honor the occasion.

“A 100th port call is a big milestone for any ship, but when the ship is named after the city and the company has deep roots there, it’s all the more worthy of a celebration,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “We thank everyone who came out to pay tribute to Rotterdam on this special day.”

Dutch performer Iris Kroes put on a show for invited guests.

Dutch performer Iris Kroes put on a show for invited guests.

In addition to remarks from Kruse, Elmer and the ship’s master Captain Marco Carsjens during the event, the Port of Rotterdam presented plaques to Princess Margriet and Holland America Line.

As Kruse, left, and Captain Carsjens look on, Elmer presents HRH Princess Margriet with a plaque.

As Kruse, left, and Captain Carsjens look on, Elmer presents HRH Princess Margriet with a plaque.

In 2012 the ship began sailing year-round cruises roundtrip from the Port of Rotterdam, and will continue that schedule through October. In 2015 alone, ms Rotterdam will make a total of 21 calls at the Port of Rotterdam.

Rotterdam was christened by HRH Princess Margriet Dec. 9, 1997, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and made its first call at the Port of Rotterdam June 10, 1998.

Princess Margriet is Rotterdam's godmother. Here she is at the christening in 1997.

Princess Margriet, Rotterdam’s godmother, at the christening in 1997 with the ship’s captain Cees Buckens.

The ship's christening in 1997.

The ship’s christening in 1997.

The current ms Rotterdam is the sixth ship to bear that name in Holland America Line’s history, with Rotterdam I making its maiden voyage from the Port of Rotterdam in 1872.

All of the photos in this post were taken by Mirjam Lems.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Full marks for Henry!” she said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Debbie Gulnick summed it up nicely when she said,

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

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!”

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

Follow Holland America Line on Facebook to join future conversations!

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!

CLIA_Blog_hero

Holland America Line is planning special promotions for CLIA Cruise Week which starts today, Oct. 6, and runs through Monday, Oct. 13. Organized by Cruise Lines International Association, the weeklong event features promotions and online opportunities to give consumers a perfect opportunity to book a cruise vacation while taking advantage of special savings.

Throughout the week, Holland America Line will be featuring the exclusive Explore4 promotion on select 2015 and 2016 sailings that provides four added-value extras — a free Signature Beverage Package and free Pinnacle Grill dinner for guests booking an ocean-view and higher category stateroom, free or reduced cruise fares for third and fourth guests in the same stateroom and 50 percent reduced deposits. Suite bookings also receive a $300 onboard spending credit per stateroom ($150 per person) and a free Canaletto dinner in addition to the other four offers.

Explore4

“Each year CLIA Cruise Week highlights cruising as a vacation choice, and we are celebrating by offering special promotions to entice travelers to book their dream vacation,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs for Holland America Line. “By combining the Explore4 offer and an onboard spending credit, guests can get an exceptional rate this week on a Holland America Line cruise.”

Guests looking to take advantage of the Explore4 program can choose select itineraries to nearly all of Holland America Line’s global destinations, including Alaska and Alaska/Yukon Land+Sea Journeys, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Bermuda, Canada/New England, Caribbean, Europe, Mexico/Hawaii, Panama Canal and South America.

Travelers making a booking on select 2014 through 2016 cruises during the week also receive a special CLIA Cruise Week onboard spending credit, depending on the length of the cruise and type of cabin booked. Guests can receive up to a $400 per stateroom ($200 per person) onboard spending credit in addition to all four Explore4 offers, when applicable. For example, guests who book a suite on 10- to 14-day cruises receive a $300 per stateroom ($150 per person) onboard spending credit.

With the onboard credit, guests can use it toward a variety of options. From a pampering massage in the spa to an exciting shore excursion ashore, from dinner in the Pinnacle Grill to a souvenir at the gift shop, the credit can be put toward several of the amenities found onboard.

The Explore4 Onboard Credit can be used toward a variety of options like the spa, gift shop, tours and drinks.

The Explore4 Onboard Credit can be used toward a variety of options like the spa, gift shop, tours and drinks.

Eligible Explore4 Cruises
If you’re looking to explore Alaska, perhaps the seven-day roundtrip Vancouver, British Canada, cruise in 2015 is the one for you. Along the way, enjoy scenic cruising in the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay, as well as calls at Tracy Arm, Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan.

If Australia and New Zealand are on your bucket list, the 28-day Pacific Treasures and New Zealand Collectors’ Voyage that sails roundtrip Sydney, Australia, would be the perfect cruise to see the whole region. Departing in January 2016, Noordam heads to the South Pacific islands of New Caledonia, , and Fiji before making eight calls in New Zealand. Guests will enjoy an overnight at Auckland and scenic cruising through Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park.

Explore Sydney, Fiji and Auckland on the 28-day Pacific Treasures Collectors' Voyage.

Explore Sydney, Fiji and Auckland on the 28-day Pacific Treasures Collectors’ Voyage.

Tropical breezes and golden beaches await on a seven-day eastern Caribbean cruise aboard Nieuw Amsterdam. Sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the ship calls at Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.; and Half Moon Cay, the line’s private island in the Bahamas.

The Baltic beckons on the seven-day Vikings Saga Explore4 sailing aboard Rotterdam. Sailing roundtrip from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, the ship explores the majestic fjord and magical landscapes in Norway, and makes calls at Flam, Ulvik, Stavanger, Kristiansand, with scenic cruising in Sognjefjord.

For the ultimate South America exploration, the 38-day South America & Inca Discovery voyage begins at Buenos Aires, Argentina, and makes way up to Vancouver. Zaandam calls at ports in Uruguay, the Falkland Islands, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Mexico and California before ending in Canada. Guest enjoy scenic cruising in the Beagle Channel, Exploring Glacier Alley, rounding Cape Horn, and overnights at Buenos Aires; Callao, Peru; and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

The South America adventure explores several ports, including Buenos Aires and Callo, the gateway to Machu Picchu.

The South America adventure explores several ports, including Buenos Aires and Callo, the gateway to Machu Picchu.

Other destinations are included in the Explore4 promotion, so be sure to check out the itineraries to Mexico and Hawaii, the Panama Canal, Mediterranean, Bermuda, South America and Canada and New England.

Will you be booking your next Holland America Line cruise during National Cruise Vacation Week? Tell us which itineraries you’re choosing below!

Posts navigation

Previous Posts