Tag Archives: Shore Excursions

What would you do if you could spend three perfect days in paradise?
What would you do if you could spend three perfect days in paradise?

Complete with pink sand, blue waters and cobblestone streets lined with brightly-colored colonial buildings, some might say that Bermuda is the perfect cruise destination. In fact, Conde Nast Traveler readers have voted Bermuda “Best Island in the Caribbean/Atlantic” 18 times in the past 20 years! ms Veendam cruises to this island paradise roundtrip from Boston in spring and summer 2015 with leisurely three-night visits. Just picture it, three perfect days in Bermuda!

DAY 1:

After one sea day full of techsperts, culinary delights and fabulous shows, the ship arrives at Hamilton, Bermuda. Upon disembarking you can hit the beach! Leave your worries behind as you join the coastal sightseeing cruise Devil’s Isle Coastal Cruise & Beach Break. Get to know a bit about the land you’ll be exploring over the next few days and then have some fun in the sun — you’re on vacation, after all! Swim in the crystal waters, rent a kayak, snorkel and then head to Dark n’ Stormy Bar for a refreshing cocktail.

A perfect ending to a perfect first day is the Catamaran Champagne Sunset Cruise. Hop aboard the catamaran and sail along the shores of Hamilton Harbour, checking out the impressive homes along the coast known as Millionaire’s Row and Fairylands. Experience the warm Bermudian hospitality, a gorgeous glass of bubbly and the breathtaking colors of the sky as the sun dips down into the calm waters of the Great Sound. After the cruise, head back to the ship and enjoy some of the onboard nightlife or hit the sheets to wake up refreshed for another perfect day.

A sunset sailing is the perfect end to a perfect first day in Bermuda.

A sunset sailing is the perfect end to a perfect first day in Bermuda.

DAY 2:

Day two in Bermuda is all about exploration! Chances are you’ve heard of the Bermuda Triangle, so learn more on the Bermuda Triangle Shipwreck Snorkel tour. Bermuda boasts more than 200 square miles of the Atlantic’s northernmost fringe reef, and while the reef is beautiful, it’s infamous as a wrecksite. Gear up and head out to explore two of Bermuda’s most famous shipwrecks: the Constellation and the Montana. En route the captain will tell you all about the history of the notorious Bermuda triangle. You’ll have a nice amount of time to snorkel both reefs and head home with a refreshment in hand.

Head back to the ship to relax for a bit, then return to the action with a new perspective on the Bermuda Triangle Night-time Glass-Bottom Boat Cruise! This unique experience allows you to see the reefs in a new light — literally! Beams of light extend from the bottom of the boat illuminating the marine life below for an incredible view of the underwater party. The cheeky tour operator says, “This trip has so far enjoyed a 100% return rate, however, a money-back guarantee is offered in the event you disappear into the Bermuda Triangle.”

Explore the shipwrecks of the notorious Bermuda triangle!

Explore the shipwrecks of the notorious Bermuda triangle!

DAY 3:

By day three you might consider moving to Bermuda, so you should probably get to know the ins and outs of the island. See the island like a local with Bermuda: Off the Beaten Track. The tour takes you across the island into Bermuda’s one and only Tom Moore’s Jungle, filled with cave exploration, swimming adventures and lush land brimming with tropical trees and exotic birds. After a stop at David’s Lighthouse the tour heads to Cooper’s Island Nature Reserve, one of the island’s premier snorkeling locations, where you will have an opportunity to soak up the sun and sea.

After that, head back to town and the Hamilton Trolley & Ocean Discovery Center, where you’ll get to know the city of Hamilton and visit the Ocean Discovery Center. Relax and check out the colorful capital of your — surely soon-to-be — island home. Watch for the Botanic Gardens and Camden House — the official residence of the Premier. Step inside the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute’s Ocean Discovery Center to see one of the finest shell collections in the world, unravel the intrigues of the Bermuda Triangle and marvel at artifacts on display collected by world-famous Bermudian shipwreck-hunter Teddy Tucker.

Explore the colorful architecture and charm of Hamilton, Bermuda.

Explore the colorful architecture and charm of Hamilton, Bermuda.

TIME TO SET SAIL:

On the fourth day of Bermuda you’ll still have a few hours ashore to stroll the beach, shop for souvenirs or take a morning tour. At 1 p.m. Veendam departs and begins the trek back to Boston, and you’ll have another day at sea to enjoy the ship and reflect on your three perfect days in Bermuda.

Want to make three perfect days even better? Join Holland America Line’s next Dancing With the Stars at Sea 7-day cruise to Bermuda, June 6, 2015! And remember, you can pre-book your shore excursions online to save time onboard and ensure that you don’t miss your tour of choice!

What do you think three perfect days in Bermuda look like? Let us know in the comments!

Shore excursions explore the history and culture of Canada.
Shore excursions explore the history and culture of Canada.

Each summer travelers cruise to Canada and New England to take in the picturesque lighthouses and rugged shorelines. In the fall guests visit to get a peek at the stunning scenery as the leaves change color and the mountains light up with red, orange and magenta hues. Beyond the beautiful backdrops, however, Canada boasts a rich history and combination of cultures that are a joy to discover.

GATEWAY TO A NEW WORLD: THE ST. LAWRENCE RIVER

The name “Canada” originated from the Huron-Iroquoian word “Kanata,” meaning village. The Iroquois inhabited the region for about 10,000 years. Like the rest of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Huron Nation relied on an oral tradition to pass down their culture and history, and lived in familial villages in longhouses. The first Europeans to touch down in the area were Vikings in about 1000 A.D., who set up short-lived settlements before they were on their way. In the 16th and 17th centuries, as interest in “the new world” soared, Europeans began to settle along the North Atlantic shore, and to explore deeper. The explorer Jacques Cartier claimed Canada for France, called the region “The Country of Canadas” and began to make his way through the St. Lawrence River — which he also named — as he searched for a passage to Asia.

In the early days of North American exploration the St. Lawrence River became a gateway to Canada.

In the early days of North American exploration the St. Lawrence River became a gateway to Canada.

The St. Lawrence River became a highway for explorers, missionaries and fur traders. At the time fur was high fashion, and beavers were depleted in France and England. As a result, North American fur became all the rage in France and England. The fur trade boomed and for years this business provided a common goal for the French and natives that lasted for years before going sour as a result of land disputes. The Saguenay & the Heritage Route tour allows you to visit the first established fur trading post and learn about the historical importance of the Saguenay Fjord and St. Lawrence River. Today Holland America Line cruises the very same route visiting cities that were established along the way.

A MIX OF CULTURES: QUEBEC CITY

In 1608 Samuel D. Champlain arrived at the north shore of what the natives called “Kébec” and officially founded what is now called Quebec City. Years later Quebec was the site of the historic battle where the French surrendered to the British in 1759, and you can now tour National Battlefields Park — also known as the Plains of Abraham — a beautiful 250-acre park with hills, gardens, monuments and artillery artifacts, along with other UNESCO Historic Sites. From Cap Diamant there are spectacular views of the St. Lawrence River, Lower Town and surrounding countryside.

Shortly after the battle there at the end of the Seven-Years War, France ceded Canada to England in 1763. A fabulous way to see the city is to take the Historic Walk & Horse Carriage Ride. There you’ll have a chance to explore the cobblestone streets, ride the Quebec Funicular and check out Notre-Dame des Victoires, the oldest standing Catholic church in North America.

Quebec City maintains a colonial charm.

Quebec City maintains a colonial charm.

MONTREAL: CITY OF A HUNDRED STEEPLES

Also along the St. Lawrence, Montreal is both a city and an island. First named Ville Marie, the city was officially established by the French in 1642 and named for its mountain peak, “Mount Royal.” French missionaries moved into Montreal with hopes of converting the nearby Iroquois to Catholicism. You can see the strong religious influence in the surrounding architecture. Mark Twain once noted this on a visit to Montreal, famously remarking,

“This is the first time I was ever in a city where you couldn’t throw a brick without breaking a church window. Yet I was told you are going to build one more … ”

The French colonized the city for 117 years before the British took over in 1759. The French worked for the British Empire, who were later joined by colonists from Scotland, England and Ireland. In the 19th century English-speaking merchants arrived in Montreal and soon the main business language was English. The colonists intermarried and today most Montreal dwellers have British or French names. Old & New Montreal is a tour that offers a view of historic Montreal, along with a glimpse of the city’s bright future.

Montreal is famous for its churches and is nicknamed "The City of a Hundred Steeples."

Montreal is famous for its churches and is nicknamed “The City of a Hundred Steeples.”

HALIFAX: A MARINER’S STORY

Halifax, a laid-back yet cosmopolitan call on Canada and New England cruises, is known for its strong military tradition. Halifax was established as a naval base for the British to hold their claim in the new world. Over the years Halifax has served an important strategic position for Canada, even as powers changed hands. Halifax Citadel National Historic Site is the most-visited historic place in Canada. Experience Halifax, both historic and new, through its fascinating 250-year history with The Heart of Halifax tour. You’ll travel with a kilted guide on a deluxe motor coach tour and take a 250-year journey through the streets of Halifax past old buildings and National Historic Sites. Halifax was a progressive city, as the head of the first public library and the first newspaper in Canada.

Halifax also boasts a strong maritime tradition as a navy base and commercial center. Visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic for a glimpse at Halifax’s historic past, or check out Peggy’s Cove & Titanic Combination, where you’ll visit Fairview Lawn Cemetary and hear the tale of the great ship Titanic and its ill-fated maided voyage. Discover the true identities of the unknown child and J. Dawson, both recovered from the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Their stories are part of a legacy that continues to fascinate visitors more than a century later.

Halifax has a strong military tradition.

Halifax has a strong military tradition.

Whether you’re visiting Canada as a guest or traveling within the country as a citizen, these tours offer an interesting and in-depth look at the histories briefly outlined above. Looking to explore the beauty of your own backyard? From Wednesday, Feb. 18 – Sunday, April 5, 2015, Canada residents can take advantage of the Canada Super Sale featuring savings of up to $2,699 on select summer 2015 cruises, including itineraries that explore Canada & New England, Transatlantic, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Alaska, Hawaii, and more.

Remember, you can pre-book your shore excursions online to save time onboard and ensure that you don’t miss your tour of choice!

Do you like to research the history of a region before you travel? Let us know what fascinates you most in the comments!

The new Prince Edward Island, Canada, Coast & Cellar tour highlights many of the island's beautiful lighthouses.
The new Prince Edward Island, Canada, Coast & Cellar tour highlights many of the island's beautiful lighthouses.

Holland America Line’s cruises to Canada and New England feature some of the most beautiful scenery, diverse cultures and interesting history in North America. From stunning national parks to picturesque coastlines and plenty of colorful and interesting towns in between, there is plenty to see in this diverse region … and plenty of ways to see it!

In addition to the already-robust menu of available shore excursions, Holland America Line recently introduced 10 new tours that showcase the best of the area in a variety of ways. From hikes to earth’s mantle to a tasting tour that would delight any foodie, be sure to check out one of these new tours on your next Canada & New England cruise.

Explore Acadia National Park at Bar Harbor, Maine

1. The Intimate Look at Acadia National Park tour is the ultimate small-group excursion in Acadia National Park. Along with 13 other guests, you’ll get to observe the wonders of this majestic park. Drive along the ocean’s edge before stopping at Thunder Hole. Here, under ocean swells converge with a thunderous roar against the granite coastline. You’ll pause high above the 107 Otter Cliffs, then wind through lush pine and forests. Next you’ll continue up Cadillac Mountain, the Atlantic coast’s highest peak, passing scenic glacial lakes along the way. From the summit, enjoy a breathtaking, 360-degree view of the Cranberry Islands and Frenchman Bay, where the Holland America Line ship is anchored.

Acadia National Park features beautiful natural scenery.

Acadia National Park features beautiful natural scenery.

Learn About the History of Cap-aux-Meules, Îles de la Madeleine

2. Îles de la Madeleine is a stunning archipelago located in the heart of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and Cap-aux-Meules is its second-largest island. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to take the new Islands Shipwreck & History tour. You’ll start at Étang du Nord, home of the second-largest wooden church in North America, La Vernière. Then you’ll visit the beach where the Corfu Island cargo ship was shipwrecked in 1963, with your guide painting a vivid picture of what took place. Next, a stop at the Havre Aubert Islands will include the Historic Site at La Grave. You’ll also visit the Musée de la Mer, or the maritime museum, that features ship models, photographs, maritime objects and collections of minerals, shells and rocks from the archipelago.

Hike the Earth’s Mantle at Corner Brook, New Foundland

3. You can find adventure in New Foundland with the Gros Morne Park Tablelands Discovery Center & Hike tour. You’ll start with a short drive to Gros Morne Discover Center that overlooks Bonne Bay. Here you can get acquainted with the landscape through exhibits and a viewing deck. Next you’ll head to the starting point for your hike to the top of the bottom of the earth! You’ll discover orange rocks from earth’s middle layer, pushed into place as the continents collided almost half a billion years ago. After your hike you’ll enjoy a tasty lunch in the community of Bonne Bay.

The top of the bottom of the earth is a highlight on the Gros Morne Park Tablelands Hike tour.

The top of the bottom of the earth is a highlight on the Gros Morne Park Tablelands Hike tour.

History, Nature and Puzzles at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

4. The PEI Coast & Cellar tour is the perfect pick for someone looking to take a step back in time. You’ll travel along the island’s stunning coast and stop at a couple of lighthouses, including the Point Prim Lighthouse — the island’s oldest. You’ll also head to the Rossignol Estate Winery for an unlimited wine tasting paired with Prince Edward Island cheeses … the perfect combination! The winery has a 45,000 bottle capacity and produces a variety of premium fruit and table wines made with local produce.

Visit Prince Edward Island's famous sites on the PEI Coast & Cellar tour, including Point Prim Lighthouse.

Visit Prince Edward Island’s famous sites on the PEI Coast & Cellar tour, including Point Prim Lighthouse.

5. The relatively new and incredibly unique Fun with Falcons tour offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — a chance to watch a Saker falcon in full flight, soaring, diving and catching air currents! These beautiful birds fly at speeds up to 200 mph! And with a handler’s glove, you’ll get to admire them up close as they sit on your hand. Saker falcons are endangered, but their population is growing again thanks to conservation breeding programs.

6. Prince Edward Island is Canada’s smallest province, and small enough to explore by foot. The Charlottetown – On Your Own tour is a self-guided walking tour that combines the technology of a hand-held GPS unit with the adventure of a scavenger hunt as you search for solutions to a customized crossword puzzle. Each location on the walk reveals interesting facts about Charlottetown and the island, showcasing some of the city’s most beautiful architecture and the stories behind its buildings. This outing is the perfect tour for history buffs and curious kids alike, and of course those who can’t resist a good puzzle!

Food and Fundy at Halifax, Nova Scotia

7. Set out to enjoy the best of Halifax’s food, beer and wine scene with the Taste of Halifax tour. You will travel around the city, visiting five local culinary hotspots and trying everything from traditional local seafood and fusion fish dishes to Annapolis Valley pulled pork and craft pizza! This tour is perfect for any foodie with a mix of gourmet food trucks, trendy restaurants and breweries. You’ll enjoy craft beers and Nova Scotia wine — the fastest growing wine district in North America. You’ll also get to take in some history with stops at Citadel Hill and the historic Hydrostone neighborhood.

If you like to sample local cuisine, take the Taste of Halifax tour.

If you like to sample local cuisine, take the Taste of Halifax tour.

8. If you’re looking for more of an adventure at Halifax, the Blomidon Hike & Grand Pre small group tour might be just what you wished for. Enjoy an unforgettable journey through the Annapolis Valley, located between two parallel mountain ranges along the shore of the Bay of Fundy. This bay is well known for its beautiful landscapes and of course for having the highest tidal swing in the world. You’ll take a scenic drive through the western part of the Nova Scotia peninsula and take in the view from the Blomidon Viewpoint atop the North Mountain. Then you will head to Blomidon Park and set out on a challenging hike — the Borden Brook Trail. Along the way you will observe the changing tides of the Minas Basin, appreciate high cliffs and learn of the abundant wildlife in the area. On your way back to the ship, you’ll take in the beauty of the Landscape of Grand Pre, Canada’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Gorgeous scenery awaits on the Blomidon Hike & Grand Pre tour.

Gorgeous scenery awaits on the Blomidon Hike & Grand Pre tour.

Scenery and Culture at Sydney, Nova Scotia

9. The Otherside of the Cabot Trail tour features some of the most beautiful scenery that Cape Breton has to offer. Sit back and enjoy it all as you drive through the historic North End and follow the Trans-Canada Highway to Boularderie Island. Then you will continue across the Seal Island Bridge to view the Bras d’Or Lakes before making your way to the Cabot Trail. You will pass Beaver Pond, Middle River and Lake O’Law. This tour is perfect for nature lovers, as you get to take in the stunning coastline and beautiful foliage.

10. The Cape Breton: A Cultural Exploration tour starts with a visit to Eskasoni, a vibrant region that features history and natural beauty. You’ll get a unique look at this multicultural area that reflects two different and distinct cultures: that of the Scots, who settled the land, and the Mi’kmaq people who were there before. You’ll take a walking tour at the largest Mi’kmaq reserve in the world, tasting traditional foods, dancing and playing traditional games. Next, you’ll hop aboard a boat for a ride on the Bras d’Or Lake, where you will learn of its fisheries and eco-system. Then you’ll head to the Highland Village that offers a mix of breathtaking scenery and Gaelic culture. You’ll even get to participate in a “milling frolic” — a hands-on filling of the cloth, singing Gaelic work songs while you drink tea and eat oatcakes!

How to get there:

In 2015, 39 Holland America Line cruises will sail throughout Canada and New England. Maasdam will head to the region first with a 15-day cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Montreal departing May 1 and will sail seven-day cruises between Montreal and Boston until October.

From May 16 through October, ms Veendam will cruise seven-day itineraries between Quebec City and Boston. Back-to-back sailings on both Veendam and Maasdam can be combined for an extended 14-day roundtrip Collectors’ Voyage. Both ships’ itineraries include calls at Bar Harbor, Halifax, Sydney and Prince Edward Island.

In September and October, Eurodam will sail 10-day cruises between New York and Quebec City at the height of the stunning fall foliage season.

If you have any questions or would like assistance booking your shore excursions please contact our Shore Excursions Call Center at 1-888-425-9376 or 206-626-7320, Monday – Friday, 6:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., and Saturday & Sunday 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Remember, you can pre-book the tour of your choice to save time on your vacation!

Which new tour would you take on a Canada/New England Cruise? Do you like the history or go seeking the beautiful scenery? Tell us in the comments below!

HILO_HELICOPTER

When it comes to Hawaii, the question is never really whether you’ve dreamed about visiting, rather how often you dream about visiting. Being the only state made up entirely of islands — there’s no easier way to see it than on a cruise, and Holland America Line has put together itineraries and shore excursions that highlight all that it has to offer. Its diverse natural scenery features fiery volcanoes, rushing waterfalls and idyllic beaches all in a sunny, warm tropical climate. Adventure is awaiting at Hawaii, here are some ways you can find it.

ADVinfo

Bike & Hike at Hilo

Hop on a 21-speed mountain bike for an eight-mile ride around the crater rim of active volcanoes with the Kilauea Volcano Bicycle Adventure tour at Hilo. At Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Hilo you’ll make your way through an incredible rain forest, with stops along the way to take in the scenery. You’ll also have the chance to enjoy some time hiking, including a hike that leads you directly through an amazing lava tube. You’ll see the heart of the volcano at Halema’uma’u Crater and enjoy fresh island fruit, macadamia nuts and other snacks. After your ride, you’ll stop at the Jaggar Museum to check out real-time seismographs, eruption footage and beautiful displays of lava and Hawaiian geology.

This tour combines biking, hiking, and a trip through a lava tube.

This tour combines biking, hiking, and a trip through a lava tube.

Tube the Ditch at Nawiliwili

At Nawiliwili (Kauai), a short drive will take you to the Hanamaulu Ditch system where you can enjoy a unique tubing adventure taking you back in time to the sugar plantation era. Grab a tube, don a headlamp and jump in for a different kind of cruise! You’ll float down the tropical waterway consisting of open ditches, tunnels and flumes, all of which were engineered and hand-dug in the early 1900s — one of Kauai’s most spectacular engineering feats. At the end of your ride you’ll enjoy a snack and a pristine swimming hole, the perfect spot for a swim and a picnic.

AdventurePerson gave the tour five stars on the Holland America website. Here is what they had to say:

“Terrific adventure for all ages. You sit on top of large (truck size) very comfortable inner tubes (made from the same material as they make zodiacs) and float down these irrigation ditches, that are actually beautiful, fern covered, spectacular water plumes… You go through tunnels carved through the lava 150 years ago, turning on your headlamps as directed by the guides. It was thrilling and relaxing at the same time. I wanted to start all over and do it again at the bottom.”

Tube the Ditch at Nawiliwili.

Tube the Ditch at Nawiliwili.

A Volcano Adventure Awaits at Honolulu

If tubing is a little too leisurely for you, head to Diamond Head Crater in Honolulu for the hike of a lifetime. You’ll learn all about this world-famous volcano, including its Hawaiian history, European discovery and the origin of its name. You’ll set out on a 45-minute hike to the 763-foot summit of Diamond Head, stopping at several points to snap stunning photos along the way. You’ll enter a dark 200-foot tunnel and climb a spiral staircase. Upon reaching the summit, you will encounter an incredible panoramic view of Waikiki Beach, with its emerald green mountains and the sparkling aquamarine water of the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy the scenery before making your way back down.

ShuShu felt it was quite an achievement — and rated the tour five stars.

“What an experience, wonderful views of Waikiki Beach and we’re thrilled that we accomplished the hike!!!!”

Experience Hawaii from New Heights

Take your need for speed to new heights on a thrilling Zip Line through Paradise adventure through Paradise at Nawiliwili. Covering nearly two miles of gorgeous tropical river gorges, the 8-line zip course will give you a beautiful view of multiple waterfalls as you soar over 160 feet above them. The staff will guide you over one of the longest lines in Hawaii, at more than 2,400 feet in length!

zip Collage

You’ll have a great time zipping on eight different lines above Hawaii’s stunning scenery.

Come Explore the Sea

You wouldn’t be doing Hawaii right if you didn’t take some time to enjoy its beauty under water. With the Captain Zodiac Rafting & Snorkel Adventure tour at Kona, you’ll explore this picturesque island’s scenic coast with a 12-mile ride as you seek out pods of dolphins, sea turtles, whales in the early months of the year and other marine life. You’ll also admire the view of the lava formations and sea caves. The highlight of the tour is snorkeling in the Kealakekua Bay Marine Preserve. Kealakekua Bay is the site of the Captain Cook Monument, accessible only by boat and an important area in Hawaiian lore! The Preserve is home to hundreds of varieties of tropical fish and coral formations, and its calm and pristine waters make it the perfect spot for snorkeling.

Islandgirl gave the tour five stars and said it got off to a pretty incredible start!

“What a great experience! Captain Karl piloted our 24′ zodiac away from the dock and before we could get underway ….dolphins appeared! We had to stop and watch these graceful marine mammals as they swam at the side of our little boat! … The company equipment was excellent, so the snorkeling experience was excellent. Although the day was partly cloudy, the fish appeared and the colors were brillant. The zodiac slowly floated on the edge of the snorkeling until it was time to climb aboard again. Somehow they managed an easy access ladder, a warm fresh water hose down, and then a refreshing snack. This was what we came for, but…then there was so much more. On the way back to Kona, Captain Karl took us close to the shore to ride surf right up to the edge of sea caves, to view different plants, birds or land forms. He told great stories about the Big Island and the people and history.”

The Atlantis Submarine Dive at Lahaina, is another way to see Hawaii from underwater — but this one lets you stay dry! First you’ll head out on a boat ride along the breathtaking Maui coastline. Once you arrive at the site you will transfer to the world’s most technologically advanced passenger submarine. You’ll descend to depths of 125 feet, witnessing this watery world through two-foot viewports and admiring the variety of exotic tropical fish, coral gardens, moray eel and other fascinating marine life. You’ll also learn about Maui’s rich culture and history.

lahaina_submarine

The Atlantis is the world’s most technologically-advanced passenger submarine.

Helicopter Tours Let You Soar

If seeing Hawaii from below is not for you, how about seeing it from above? Helicopter tours provide phenomenal views of the islands. The ‘Circle of Fire’ Volcano Helicopter Experience at Hilo features stunning views of the most geologically active environment on earth — the famous Kilauea Volcano. This volcano has been in eruption continually since 1983 and the tour emphasizes the most current areas of volcanic activity! You’ll fly over lava flows, black sand beaches, tropical rain forests and small cascading waterfalls as you learn about the history and culture of Hawaii.

Jacqueline from the Netherlands said it was one of the best helicopter flights she’s taken.

“I have taken quite a few helicopter flights during my trips but this was one of the best ever. The volcano was sending lots of steam up in the air, of course it would have been great if it had really spewed things but you cannot have it all. We saw trees and bushes catch fire beneath us. The lava almost looked like a brownish mud slide but then the pilot found a crack in the field and was able to show us the glowing orange red molted lava beneath it. It was interesting and breathtaking. Our pilot made sure we all got the best possible views. He did take us over the rain forrest in the end and even flew us back over the bay so we could have a good look at our ship…”

lahainacollage

Maui is breathtaking from above.

You can also get a view of Crater Rainbow by helicopter at Maui. This thrilling 45-minute flight includes views of the Seven Sacred Pools (Oheo Gulch), Haleakala Crater, Hana Town, the Hana rain forest and the shoreline of Maui — some of the island’s most popular points of interest.

If you’ve dreamed of visiting Hawaii, there are a couple different Holland America Line ships cruising to Hawaii this year. Here are some options:

Statendam departs from San Diego, Calif., to Papeete on a 17-day Circle Hawaii, Tahiti & Marquesas cruise April 14, featuring calls at Hilo, Lahaina and Honolulu, as well as an overnight at a guest favorite – Bora Bora, French Polynesia. The 29-day circle Hawaii, Tahiti & Marquesas cruise lets guests cruise an additional 12 days before returning to San Diego.

You can visit all the stunning Hawaiian ports mentioned in this post with Statendam’s 17-day Circle Hawaii itinerary that cruises from Vancouver, Canada, to San Diego, departing Sept. 20, or Veendam’s similar itinerary that cruises roundtrip San Diego departing Nov. 26.

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

Have you been to Hawaii? What sites did you enjoy most? Tell us in the comments section below.

A cruise to Australia & New Zealand should be on every traveler's bucket list!
A cruise to Australia & New Zealand should be on every traveler's bucket list!

In August 2014, the Holland America Blog asked fans to choose their top “Bucket List” ports around the world. Number one on the list? Sydney, Australia! Travelers around the globe are attracted to Australia and New Zealand for the region’s unique beauty, interesting culture and vast array of things to see and do.

From cosmopolitan cities like Auckland and Sydney to the bottomless fiords of Milford Sound, a cruise down under is ideal for all ages and interests. There are so many reasons to add an Australia and New Zealand cruise to your travel bucket list. If you have not yet done so, read on for a few reasons why you should!

YOU DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE WHEN YOU CRUISE!

You don't have to choose between cosmopolitan Sydney and the rugged outback when you cruise to Australia.

You don’t have to choose between cosmopolitan Sydney and the rugged outback when you cruise to Australia.

On a visit to Australia everyone wants to seek the sights at Sydney, but the outback is equally spectacular! A cruise is the best way to explore the different features of Australia, while traveling in total comfort. Holland America Line’s 33-day Australia Circumnavigation cruises roundtrip from Sydney, giving guests the full spectrum of the land Down Under! From the iconic Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, to the beautiful natural scenery of western Australia and on to Tasmania, affectionately called “Tiny Tassie” by the locals, you can see it all. One thing to consider, however, is that cruising is increasing in popularity among Australian holiday-seekers, and guests are encouraged to book early as the Australia Circumnavigation is a great option for locals and foreign travelers alike.

TWO WORDS: MILFORD SOUND.

Milford Sound. New Zealand is a stunning sight.

Milford Sound. New Zealand is a stunning sight.

Located in the southwest of New Zealand’s South Island, Fiordland National Park is an incredible natural treasure of New Zealand, and of the world. Milford Sound — the best known of all the fjords in the park — remains quiet and still, bounded by steep cliffs and dense rainforest. Two waterfalls are constant, and abundant rainfall produces many more. The Maori are believed to have discovered the majesty of Milford Sound more than 1,000 years ago, and the beauty of the area is rife with legend.

Many of Holland America Line’s cruises to New Zealand spend time exploring Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park, including Noordam’s 39-day South Pacific/New Zealand Collectors’ Voyage.

KOALAS AND KANGAROOS

Get to know the locals! Koalas and kangaroos are exclusive to Australia.

Get to know the locals! Koalas and kangaroos are exclusive to Australia.

Koalas and Kangaroos are both indigenous to Australia, and neither animal exists in the wild anywhere else in the world! In fact, more than 80 percent of Australia’s plants, mammals, reptiles and frogs are unique to the continent. In addition to koalas and kangaroos, the echidna, dingo, platypus, wallaby and wombat are native Aussies. If it’s wildlife you’re after there are plenty of great options to check it out as you make your way around Australia. At Melbourne In the Wild! Kangaroos & Koalas comes highly recommended by a former HAL cruiser Jeff, who said:

“This shore excursion was outstanding! Seeing these wonderful animals in the wild was one of the most memorable events on our cruise. Although the koalas are not very active, it was amazing to see them high in the trees of their choosing and to learn how selective they are about what they eat. The kangaroos, on the other hand, kept moving just ahead of us for about half an hour after we found them.”

ULURU — THE GREAT GLOWING ROCK

Ayers Rock is one of the most iconic destinations in Australia.

Ayers Rock is one of the most iconic destinations in Australia.

Rising out of what seems like nowhere in the red center of Australia is Ayers Rock, also known as Uluru, its Aboriginal name. The dome shaped red rock is one of the most impressive and iconic sights in Australia and is known especially for the remarkable way that it glows and shifts colors as the sun rises and sets in the center of the plain. It’s hard to describe the true magnitude of the rock. To put it in perspective, at 348 meters the mass is taller than the Eiffel Tower, and many times wider. It takes about 3 1/2 hours to walk around Ayers Rock. A 5-night pre- or post-cruise tour package gives guests ample time to explore the area.

THE GREAT BARRIER REEF

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest reef system.

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest reef system.

You might have heard that The Great Barrier Reef is the only living thing that can be seen from space, but did you know that it is greater in size than the United Kingdom, Holland and Switzerland combined? The reef is an ancient, enormous host of living things, composed of living coral growing on dead coral dating back as much as 20 million years. Cairns is the gateway to this incredible feature, and guests can visit on a shore excursion from this port, or enjoy the sights of the UNESCO World Heritage Site from the comfort of a balcony or deck as the ship sails by.

YOU CAN VISIT THE SHIRE

Calling all movie buffs and adventure-seekers! Visit the shire on a cruise to New Zealand.

Calling all movie buffs and adventure-seekers! Visit the shire on a cruise to New Zealand.

If you think the spectacular scenery of Australia and New Zealand seems like something out of a fantasy, you’re not alone. The incredible topography was the ideal setting for the Lord of the Rings films. Fans of literature and film flock to the otherworldly setting of “the Shire” at Akaroa (Christchurch), New Zealand, on cruises to the region. Guest Kelley visited and said:

“If you are a LOTR fan, just sign up for this. This was the most beautiful and magical place we have ever been. Also we had Michael Ellsworthe who appeared in the film in a couple of minor roles join us on the bus to read from the book. The valley location was just fabulous with snow covered mountains in the distance. The trip was very well orchestrated with the appropriate number of stops. We loved this day and would recommend it to anyone given the spectacular scenery.”

You don’t have to be a fan of the movies to enjoy this tour — the setting is magical, whether Middle Earth is on your bucket list or not!

WINE AND DINE

Dudley Winery is a family-owned winery on Kangaroo Island.

Dudley Winery is a family-owned winery on Kangaroo Island.

Australia and New Zealand are known for some of the most outstanding wines in the world. From full-bodied juicy Shirazes to oceanic Sauvignon Blancs, wines from the region are known the world over. Wine is produced all over Australia and New Zealand, and the region is the fourth largest wine exporting nation behind Italy, France and Spain. When cruising there you can visit a variety of vineyards — from the family-owned Dudley Winery at Kangaroo Island to the award-winning Rochford Winery outside Melbourne, the site for Wine and Wildlife.

BOOK NOW WITH SEAS THE DAY PROMOTION

The above reasons aren’t the only ones to visit Down Under. Beyond these iconic sights and experiences, Australia and New Zealand feature more gorgeous cities like Auckland, Brisbane and Perth; Blue Mountains National Park, a mesmerizing UNESCO World Heritage Site just miles from Sydney; Kakadu National Park, a huge pristine sweep of aboriginal land teeming with crocodiles, water buffalo and cave paintings that date back 20,000 years; and so much more! There’s an abundance to see and do in this incredible region, and a cruise is the best and easiest way to ensure a diverse and complete experience.

And with Holland America Line’s Seas the Day promotion that currently is on offer, now is the ideal time to book a dream vacation to Australia and New Zealand. Guests who book with Seas the Day can go for as low at $1,399 per person, double occupancy, on a 12-day Pacific Treasures voyage while also getting an onboard credit (voyages 19 days or less receive up to $100 per person and voyages 20 days or more receive up to $200 per person) and reduced cruise fares for 3rd/4th guests so the whole family can go.

Remember, you can pre-book shore excursions to save time onboard and guarantee you get your desired tour!

Is a cruise to Australia and New Zealand on your Travel Bucket List? Let us know in the comments!

Get the full South America experience on a trip 'round the horn.
Get the full South America experience on a trip 'round the horn.
Photo of Cape Horn by RalieTravels, https://ralietravels.wordpress.com.

There are a few destinations so iconic — even fabled — that they draw adventure-seekers from around the world. Cape Horn, the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile, fits the bill. The rocky terrain extends into Drake Passage, rising to a height of 1,391 feet. 150 years ago the trip ’round the horn’ was an arduous trip — especially during the gold-mining push of the late 1800s when passengers crammed into whaling ships to make their way from the east coast to California. It was such a feat that it inspired nations to work together to build the Panama Canal. Today travelers can cruise there in comfort, safety and style with Holland America Line, and it is an incredible sight to add to your bucket list.

Holland America Line features seven South America itineraries that visit Cape Horn in 2015, with more to follow in 2016. Cruises range from 14- to 32-day adventures, visiting some lesser-known ports along the way.

The 32-Day Inca Discovery & South America itinerary on Zaandam, the longest of the South America voyages, begins in San Diego and calls at several ports in Mexico, Peru, and Guatemala. Here’s a snapshot of the voyage by the numbers!

HALIncaDiscovery

On this itinerary, guests can discover South America’s coffee, chocolate, ancient civilizations and lush green landscapes. Imagine a day in the life of the ancient Mayans with Tikal, Maya City of Voices. Visit the Pyramid of the Great Jaguar, the Central Plaza, the Palace of the Masks and Pyramid IV. Marvel at the size of the Central Acropolis and the North Acropolis, as well as the temples that tower above the tree line. Holland America Line guests Virginian said,

“Tikal was breathtaking. There is a fantastic history of the Mayans at San Diego’s Museum of Man. We were there on November 1, All Saint’s Day. Tikal is a National Park, and there were many locals visiting and enjoying family gatherings. It was a festive day and, in spite of an armed presence at the gate, we felt safe and welcome.”

Take a trip to breathtaking Tikal.

Take a trip to breathtaking Tikal.

Then it’s on to Peru! An overnight at Lima offers ample time to explore the colonial city. Peru particularly has an interesting culinary scene. The varied is due in part to the large Asian population. In the mid to late 19th century tens of thousands of Chinese immigrants arrived to work on the sugar plantations and mines in Peru. Some went on to open chifas, restaurants that serve typical Chinese food made with South American ingredients such as pineapple and aji amarillo. Today chifas are very popular throughout the country.

The next leg of the journey offers a panoramic view of Chile. Calls include Coquimbo (La Serena), Valparaiso (Santiago), Puerto Montt, Puerto Chacabuco and scenic cruising through the Chilean fjords. Valparaiso is a particularly interesting stop. Designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002, the city combines bohemian bars and Victorian architecture along a coastline of plunging cliffs. Stroll in the footsteps of Nobel Peace-winning poet Pablo Neruda or stop anywhere for fabulous local wines.

Take in the charm at Valparaiso, Chile.

Take in the charm at Valparaiso, Chile.

As the cruise sails closer to Cape Horn, head through the Beagle Channel to Ushuaia, Argentina, the world’s southernmost city! Called the “end of the world,” Ushuaia is perched dramatically between the snowcapped Martial mountains, the bay and the Beagle Channel. Full of beautiful scenery and marine life, the city is hopping as it is the gateway to Antarctica. It’s an outdoorsman’s dream — adventurers from all over the globe hope to cross Ushuaia off of their bucket list!

Ushuaia is the last call before the big event — “rounding the horn!” If Ushuaia is the “end of the world,” Cape Horn is otherworldly. Wrap up and head to the balcony or find a cozy spot on deck to watch the rugged coastline dotted with penguins pass by. As you travel around the spectacular landscape, take some time to consider that it used to be the only way to get around South America and remains the fastest route. Now a scenic byway, the horn was a dreaded event for sailors years ago. Today a monument stands in memory of sailors who did not make the journey. A gorgeous albatross silhouette stands against the sky inscribed with the following poem:

“I, the albatross that awaits at the end of the world…
I am the forgotten soul of the sailors lost,
rounding Cape Horn from all the seas of the world.
But die they did not in the fierce waves,
for today towards eternity, in my wings they soar,
in the last crevice of the Antarctic winds.”

Once you’ve rounded the horn you’ll visit the Falkland Islands where you’ll see a distinct British influence and plenty of penguins! At Montevideo, Uruguay, visit Colonia de Sacramento, the oldest city in the country, founded in 1680. And finally the cruise concludes with an overnight at Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Keep in mind, the 32-day cruise departing San Diego is just one option for seeing South America and rounding the horn. Cruises also depart Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.; Valparaiso, Chile; and Buenos Aires, Argentina; and are available in 14-, 21- and 32-day options.

Is rounding Cape Horn on your bucket list? Will you be joining us for this ultimate adventure? Tell us below!

New tours in Alaska highlight the region's spirit of adventure, natural beauty and culture.
New tours in Alaska highlight the region's spirit of adventure, natural beauty and culture.

A cruise to Alaska attracts all sorts of travelers. Some are avid explorers and just have to cross “The Last Frontier” off of their bucket lists. Some visitors are cruising for adventure, others are attracted to the unique culture and history of the region, and others still are in it for the abundance of wildlife and awe-inspiring scenery. Whatever your reasons for visiting, Alaska opens up and offers each guest an incredible experience.

Whether you’ve visited many times before or are planning a cruise to Alaska for the first time, you can discover it anew. Each year Holland America Line carefully curates tours to offer the best of Alaska, and for 2015 nearly two-dozen new shore excursions — in addition to hundreds of existing favorites — promise something for everyone. Here are the details about the new Alaska tours:

UNIQUE EXPERIENCES ON EXCLUSIVE HAL TOURS IN VICTORIA

Victoria, B.C., is the gateway to many Alaska cruises, and this year Holland America Line is featuring a number of exclusive tours designed specifically for guests of our cruise line. The city boasts fabulous architecture, cultural experiences, history and culinary delights. Combine several of those features with Corks & Canvas, an exclusive art and wine event at the Robert Bateman Center — a gallery devoted to one of Canada’s premier artists at the historic Steamship Terminal in Victoria’s Inner Harbor and head to the second floor gallery, housing a collection of 160 pieces of Robert Bateman’s work.

One of Canada’s best-known artists, Bateman’s iconic works encompass a range of subjects, from large, almost abstract paintings to small, intense landscapes showcasing the grand scope of his approach to the natural world. Use Bateman’s work as inspiration for creating your own masterpiece. All supplies are provided, and you will be guided by a professional artist whose goal is to help everyone relax, have fun, and paint! A glass of wine or two may help to unleash your inner artist! Head back to the ship with your painting — it’s yours to keep!

Victoria, B.C., is the gateway to Alaska.

Victoria, B.C., is the gateway to Alaska.

If museums are up your alley, head out on the Off the Beaten Path: Aviation Museum & Cider Tasting tour. The BC Aviation Museum offers a step back in time, with more than 20 vintage aircraft on display. Some of the aircraft you will see include the Supermaine Spitfire, Republic Seabee, Nieuport 17 and the Eastman Sea Rover. Then you’ll head over to the Sea Cider Farm & Cider House for a tasting of five organic ciders and a snack plate featuring local cheeses, meats and rustic breads.

Or you might want to check out Sights, Sounds & Tastes of British Columbia. This exclusive Holland America Line tour is an uplifting experience of British Columbia, designed to captivate your senses. Your destination is the Oak Bay Beach Hotel — a crown jewel and beloved landmark that has stood on a magnificent stretch of Pacific Ocean coastline for more than 80 years. Travel back to another era as you walk through the opulent hallways and arrive at the David Foster Foundation Theatre — named for the Victoria native and 16-time Grammy Award winning record producer. Relax and enjoy a sommelier-guided sampling of five award-winning B.C. wines paired with creative plates of Executive Chef Iain Rennie’s locally inspired bitess. As the evening progresses, the stage will come alive with a solo performance from Laura Jayne, who will take you through a collection of Canada’s best-known music. Laura Jayne starred as Roxie Hart in Broadway’s Chicago musical and was most recently the headliner on the world’s largest cruise ship. She will take you on a fun-filled musical journey with special guest performances including the Ballet Victoria.

FLIGHTSEEING, HIKING AND HOVERING ON ADVENTUROUS ALASKA TOURS

Adrenaline junkies rejoice! Holland America Line has an array of unforgettable new tours by land, sea, and sky available to get your heart pumping on Alaska cruises. If you’re looking to soar like an eagle check out The Crown Adventure by Helicopter at Anchorage! The flight takes you from Alaska’s largest city through the surrounding peaks, valleys and iceberg-studded lakes. Especially cool about this tour is that no two are the same. The pilot has the flexibility to explore whatever fits the mood.

ZU11-09118

At Juneau the Taku Glacier Hovercraft Adventure allows you to explore “no man’s land.” Pull on your rubber boots and hop into an amphibious hovercraft that can travel with ease over water, ice, sandbars and grassland. Your knowledgeable pilot will navigate a maze of sandbars to a landing site near the face of Taku Glacier — a place of constant change — as the glacier slowly inches its way across the valley. You will have time to explore this other-worldly environment on foot, while enjoying spectacular views in every direction.

If you’ve always dreamed of exploring Alaska on foot check out Sitka’s Great Adventure. This multi-faceted tour combines wildlife-sighting with a hike through Tongass National Forest to the lake. Fly fishing or spin casting gear is provided for those who want to try their luck, along with bait and tackle. Inflatable canoes and a small dock for launching invite you to paddle along the shoreline. You can continue to hike around the lake, or relax by the camp fire — it’s your Alaskan getaway!

Historic Skagway is the perfect backdrop for more Alaskan adventure. The new tour Gold Panning, Sled Dogs & 40 Degrees Below Zero takes you past the wooden walkways of downtown Skagway to the Klondike Gold Fields. In one tour you can pan for gold, get to know a sled dog team and gear up to experience 40 degrees below zero in a “cold chamber.” Breathe in the outdoors, get to know these Alaskan icons and maybe leave a little richer if you find a golden nugget!

EMBRACE YOUR WILD SIDE AND GET UP CLOSE WITH ORCAS, EAGLES & SEALS

When you travel to Alaska you will no doubt be enveloped by natural beauty, but some tours zone in on the nature and wildlife specifically. Set against a background of hanging glaciers and waterfalls, Haines Whales & Lighthouse Tales gets you up close to nesting bald eagles, humpback whales, orcas and harbor seals. The tour continues to The Eldred Rock Lighthouse, a picturesque and historic octagonal lighthouse that was first lit in 1906. It is the oldest remaining lighthouse in Alaska and one of the most remote in North America. Seals and their pups bask on the rocks around the lighthouse and sea birds play in the surf, creating an idyllic image.

See magnificent orcas in the wild at Haines, Alaska.

See magnificent orcas in the wild at Haines, Alaska.

On cruises that call at Homer, the Best of the Bay features the beauty of scenic Kachemak Bay and Kachemak Bay State Park on a 2½-hour cruise to Gull Island. The island is a famous bird rookery with eight species of birds including puffins, cormorants and gulls. Watch for sea otters and other marine wildlife, then continue across the bay to Eldred Passage, Sadie Cove and Tutka Bay, returning to the harbor with time to spare.

Another fabulous new option is the Rainforest Canoe & Nature Trail. Board a 37-foot Native-style canoe that is fast, stable and easy to maneuver. Paddling under the direction of an experienced guide, scan the shore for wildlife and learn about the natural and Native history of the Ketchikan area. Step ashore at a remote base camp for an Alaskan-style snack, including smoked salmon, clam chowder, and rolls with wild berry jams and beverages. It is a rare opportunity to comfortably explore Southeast Alaska in the same way it was discovered by its original explorers and inhabitants.

DREAMING OF A CRUISE TO ALASKA? BOOK NOW WITH READY SET SAIL

If you are dreaming of a cruise to Alaska now’s a great time to book! Holland America Line’s ReadySetSail promotions combine some of the iconic and unforgettable Alaska experiences with fabulous perks like discounts on family friendly shore excursions — think whale watching and wildlife tours — reduced fares for third and fourth guests, and onboard spending credits. There are many different itineraries to choose from including 7-day Glacier Discovery and 14-day Alaska Roundtrip Collectors’ Voyage.

These are just some of the exciting new tours that have been added for the 2015 Alaska cruise season. There are 23 new tours in total — including those listed below — which enhance an already exciting roster of Alaska tours. Follow this link to search all of available shore excursions in Alaska and beyond.

BlogInfo

If you have any questions or would like assistance booking your shore excursions please contact our Shore Excursions Call Center at 1-888-425-9376 or 206-626-7320, Monday – Friday, 6:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., and Saturday & Sunday 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Remember, you can pre-book the tour of your choice to save time on your vacation!

What kind of cruiser are you? Do you seek adventure, nature, culture or all of the above? Let us know in the comments below!

The Santa Barbara Fortress is a highlight of the trolley tour at Banana Coast.
The Santa Barbara Fortress is a highlight of the trolley tour at Banana Coast.

Holland America Line is always working to spice up its cruise itineraries and bring guests new ports. Though the Caribbean has been a longtime cruise destination, there are still new places to discover. Here is one ports new to cruisers, one port new to Holland America Line and once port that’s still not fully on the radar of travelers but should be.

Banana Coast, Honduras

Banana Coast recently opened as mainland Honduras’ first cruise port, and Holland America Line is one of the first cruise lines to call there. Located in the deepwater bay of Trujillo, Honduras, surrounded by mountains, rainforest, and pristine beaches, the port offers a new window into the historic city of Trujillo, Campo del Mar Park, and the outlying region.

Once the Banana export capital of the world — shipping more than 8 million stems annually – Banana Coast and Trujillo have a rich history. Christopher Columbus landed at Trujillo in 1502 and it was established as a Spanish colony in 1524. Through the course of its history the city has been inhabited by the Honduran Garifuna tribe, Dutch, French – and pirates.

The Bay of Trujillo

The Bay of Trujillo

If when you arrive at Banana Coast you feel like adventure is calling, the Jungle ATV tour is the answer. Head to Camp del Mar to begin an off-road trip through the jungle of Honduras. You’ll ride your own 4-wheel all-terrain ATV along winding, narrow jungle paths and through tropical vegetation. You’ll take in the sights and sounds of the jungle as your guide accompanies you through rivers and swamplands.

If a trolley tour is more your style, you’ll love the Historical Trujillo tour. Here you’ll learn about Christopher Columbus’ landing and see the Santa Barbara Fort. You’ll also visit the town square that features the Cathedral of St. John the Baptists, a central plaza and buildings of early Spanish and French colonial origin.

The Santa Barbara Fortress is a highlight attraction at Trujillo.

The Santa Barbara Fortress is a highlight attraction at Trujillo.

The Starfish Bay Snorkel & Beach Break is one of the most popular tours at Banana Coast. It is designed to give everyone a fun and relaxed experience, even if they have never snorkeled before. From the pier you will board a boat and enjoy the spectacular views as you head out to Starfish Bay. After a short snorkel lesson you’ll hop into the water to look at the starfish and other underwater creatures. Afterwards, you’ll head to Casa Kiwi for a beach break and have the chance to enjoy some typical Honduran food.

The Campo del Mar Nature Park and Beach Break tour features 22 acres filled with flora, fauna, and resident wildlife. You can hop on or off the trolley that runs through the park during the day and explore the park’s Botanic Gardens and Orchard areas. Afterward, you can enjoy a beach break at Campo del Mar’s pristine, private beach. MidwestCruiser gave the tour five stars on the Holland America website.

“The Nature Park is beautiful and clean. On the beach, the music was great and the service staff was very friendly. We had a wonderful time. The food was also good. The ideal thing was with HAL being the only ship in port there were no lines and you had plenty of space and had a good opportunity to relax in a beautiful setting on this private beach. The bus ride to the park gives you insight into the true culture of the area. Highly recommend!”

There is also a Behind the Scenes tour offered at Camp del Mar Nature Park where you can enjoy a tour with your guide through the fruit orchard, vegetable garden, and learn about how it all grows. A biologist will give you a behind-the-scenes look at the Animal Rescue Center where you will have an opportunity to meet some of the the animals up close. You’ll also enjoy a delicious lunch under the mango tree canopy and marvel at the artisan displays.

Falmouth, Jamaica

Falmouth is not a new Caribbean destination per say, but it is definitely new to Holland America Line. It is the capital of Trelawny, Jamaica, and located not far from popular Montego Bay. It was one of Jamaica’s busiest ports in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries with a booming export business. Today, Falmouth is home to plenty of great sights including St. Peter’s Anglican Church and the Greenwood Great House. Whether you like to experience a new place by getting an authentic meal or having a thrilling adventure … there’s something for everyone here.

If you are looking for a delicious Jamaican meal, opt for the Taste of Jamaica tour that takes you to the Good Hope Great House. With a menu put together by Al Pacino’s personal chef of old, this experience includes a tasty buffet lunch. Enjoy crisp salad, herb rice and true Jamaican dishes that feature distinctive spices like curried chicken with mango chutney, escovietch fish made with a fresh local catch, and fried plantains — a true Jamaican favorite. For dessert, enjoy the sweet tastes of coconut drops and muffins made with fruits from around the Good Hope Estate. You’ll also have a chance to tour the Great House, built in the 1700s and restored to its original grandeur, and take in some of the 2,000 acres that once featured a working plantation.

TOJandZip

From delicious food to ziplines, Falmouth has something for everyone.

Experience three exciting activities on one excursion with the Tranopy tour. First, on the Sky Explorer chairlift, you’ll enjoy a fun ride up 700 feet through the tropical forest canopy. Next, you’ll enjoy a thrilling time on Bobsled Jamaica — the signature ride that features a gravity-driven plunge through 3,280 feet of twists and turns on a specially designed sled, evoking the glory of the infamous 1988 and 1992 Jamaican Bobsled team. Lastly, you’ll receive a harness for your zip line flight. You’ll take off through the canopy on a series of cables and pulleys interconnected on tree- and land-based platforms. Afterwards you can admire the panoramic views, swim in the infinity pool or enjoy lunch at the restaurant.

214491_12_92710

Enjoy a horseback ride through the Caribbean’s beautiful waters.

At Falmouth, you’ll also have the opportunity to saddle up for a Horseback Riding Adventure. After a drive along the scenic coastline you will head to where your riding adventure begins. During your ride, experienced guides will educate you on Jamaica’s rich history, culture, flora and fauna. You’ll love the feel of the refreshing breeze of the Caribbean sea as your companion takes you along the charming coastline overlooking the ocean to Chukka Beach. Robertti gave the tour five stars. Here’s how he described his “unbelievable experience.”

Once we arrived to the ranch, the horses were quickly prepared and we saddled up. We rode for 30-45 minutes through what I (as a first-time rider) thought was exciting terrain. The views of the mountains and jungle were beautiful. The ride took us to a second staging area where the saddles were taken off the horses and we changed into swimwear to remount. We rode the horses into a beautiful cove of the ocean and rode while they ran and swam underwater. It was truly exhilarating! After the swim, the saddles were put back on the horses and we rode 20-30 minutes back to the main ranch. All of the men on the farm were friendly and helpful. One even carried our camera for the first 10 minutes and snapped action shots along the way.

Dunn’s River Falls is one of Jamaica’s most popular attractions, believed to be the site of the famous Battle of Las Chorreras in 1657 between the Spaniards and English for possession of this beautiful island. Today, Dunns River Falls is the perfect place to experience the thrill of climbing a waterfall and enjoying lush tropical foliage of ferns, bamboos, ginger lilies, orchids, a variety of palms and breadfruit trees. You can also take advantage of the soothing effects of the water as it cascades over the rocks and down to the sea to the ‘massage parlor!’

DunnsRiverFalls

Dunn’s River Falls is beautiful from every angle.

You can relax at Falmouth with the Chukka Beach Break, or see more of the island, including one of the Caribbean’s finest antique museums with the Best of Falmouth & Greenwood Great House tour.

Grand Turk, Turks Islands

Grand Turk is the capital island of the famous Turks & Caicos and features the perfect mix of excitement on land and by sea. While it’s not new to Holland America Line, it’s relatively new to the cruise industry and among the most beautiful of all the Caribbean ports. Cockburn Town is the islands’ center piece and features plenty of Colonial-style historical buildings. Here, you can visit the Turks and Caicos National Museum or enjoy shopping. You can also visit nearby Gibb’s Cay, an uninhabited island that is the perfect spot for a day of sun, sand and relaxation. But for one of Grand Turks’ greatest attractions, you’ll have to be ready to get wet!

If you love to SCUBA, you probably already know what you will be doing during a call at Grand Turk: the Certified SCUBA tour. About a quarter mile from the western beaches at Grand Turk, the sea floor drops 7,000 feet. Just at the edge, divers will find the Grand Turk Wall, a world-famous reef that is teeming with incredible saline. Turks & Caicos boasts the third-largest barrier reef in the world, and SCUBA divers can take at least some of it in with the Certified Scuba tour. Guests are outfitted at a dive shop near the port and receive a safety briefing before departing by boat to the dive site. Guests will have the opportunity to dive two different sites on the tour and take advantage of great visibility in the Caribbean’s clear waters. JMWDVM posted a review of the tour on the Holland America website and described it as a “totally terrific two tank dive.”

After a short walk down the beach from the pier, we board a powered catamaran and headed to the first dive site, Fin Bar Reef. The dive was a follow-the-divemaster with two groups of six buddied up. Down to 75 ft for 40 minutes on the wall we saw nurse sharks, plenty of reef fish and even a turtle. The second dive was to 55 ft for about 45 minutes with appropriate surface interval. Coral Gardens has beautiful open coral heads, fish and another turtle who followed us up to the surface.

GTunderwater

However you see it, there’s plenty of beautiful wildlife in Grand Turk’s clear waters.

If you don’t dive but still want to experience what divers from all over the world go to Grand Turk to see, take advantage of the Semi-Sub Exploration tour. You will cruise up the west coast of Grand Turk along the famous wall in the Oasis Yellow Semi-Submarine. Large windows provide full views of marine life along the way and the crew will point out different species of marine life. You will see a variety of stingrays, grouper, sharks, and schools of Caribbean fish, all while staying dry aboard your semi-sub.

If you want to see what Grand Turk has to offer shoreside, the Historic Grand Turk by Trolley Train tour is a great experience. The trolley departs the pier toward the historic town where your guide provides geographical and historical information about Turks & Caicos. You’ll pass the John Glen memorial and salt salinas as you learn about the island’s arid climate and the plant and wildlife it supports. Your tour continues along historic Duke Street to Front Street where you will have free time to snap photos or browse the local gift shops.

GTTrolley

Take in plenty of Grand Turk with a tour on the trolley, including the Grand Turk lighthouse.

In February, March and April of this year, ms Ryndam will call at Banana Coast on a seven-day Western Caribbean cruise, roundtrip Tampa, Fla. The ship also calls at Key West, Fla.; Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala; and Costa Maya, Mexico.

ms Westerdam will sail a seven-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary roundtrip Fort Lauderdale in October and November that features a call at Grand Turk, as well as Half Moon Key — another Holland America fan favorite; San Juan, Puerto, Rico; and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

With a 14-day Eastern/Western Collector cruise on ms Eurodam in October or November you can enjoy Falmouth; Grand Turk; and other excellent Caribbean ports including Georgetown, Cayman Islands; and Philipsburg, St. Maarten, among others.

If you’re taking a cruise that visits these ports, don’t forget that the shore excursions can be pre-booked so you get the tour of your choice.

Have you visited any of these ports? Tell us what you did in the comments below.

Posts navigation

Previous Posts