Tag Archives: Shore Excursions

For some hikers, the thrill is the journey. For others it's the view at the end, like this view at Ushuaia, Argentina.
For some hikers, the thrill is the journey. For others it's the view at the end, like this view at Ushuaia, Argentina.

At Holland America Line, we’re not sure why telling someone to “take a hike” is a bad thing. In fact, we respond with “we’d love to” – especially on Take a Hike Day! And we bet you would too if you were taking any one of our incredible hiking shore excursions around the world.

Active tours like hiking, biking, kayaking and walking are a great way to stay in shape while cruising. For guests who want to focus on their health while on vacation, these tours are excellent options ashore. Onboard, Holland America Line has state-of-the-art fitness centers with a variety of classes, and menus always offer healthy options. The Lido has an incredible selection of fresh fruit, salads and lighter fare, as well. And after your hike, you can feel guilt-free while indulging on that chocolate cake or baked Alaska!

To celebrate Take a Hike Day, we compiled some of our best hiking tours that take guests around the world – from Alaska to Hawaii to New Zealand, then on to Norway, Canada, South America and back up to Puerto Rico … no matter where you are you can see some of the most spectacular scenery on foot.

So if trekking or stepping sounds like your thing, make sure to check out one of these tours on your next cruise.

Skagway, Alaska

Alaska is best enjoyed outdoors! You can take in some of its stunning scenery with a hike at Skagway.

Alaska is best enjoyed outdoors! You can take in some of its stunning scenery with a hike at Skagway.

The Denver Valley Hike & White Pass Rail tour at Skagway, Alaska, combines an impressive 27-mile rail journey on the “Scenic Railway of the World” and a five-mile wilderness hike. The adventure begins with a drive up the Klondike Highway to Fraser, BC. From here you’ll board the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, complete with waterfalls, rushing rivers, trestles and tunnels to see along the way to your trailhead. Your hike is lead by a knowledgeable guide who will take you through the glacially carved valley full of dense, temperate, rain forest. The trail traces the raging East Fork of the Skagway River.

Of course, this is Alaska, so there will be plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife along the way. This valley is home to bears, moose and mountain goats. You’ll also hike through the pristine Tongass National Forest, which will leave you in awe of the thousand-year-old trees!

Honolulu, Hawaii

The view is the prize at the end of the tunnel at Diamond Head Crater!

The view is the prize at the end of the tunnel at Diamond Head Crater!

You can visit the world-famous Diamond Head Crater during a call at Honolulu, Hawaii. You’ll set out with a guide on a walk to the 763-foot summit of Diamond Head, stopping at several points along the way for breathtaking photo opportunities. You’ll enter a dark 200-foot tunnel and climb a spiral staircase, imparting a sense of adventure! Upon reaching the summit you will have an incredible view of famous Waikiki Beach, emerald green mountains and the sparkling aquamarine water of the Pacific Ocean.

ShuShu from Massachusetts gave the tour five stars on the Holland America website and left with a sense of accomplishment!

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

Port Chalmers, Dunedin, New Zealand


Patricia Stone, owner and founder of Global Adventures, sailed Australia and New Zealand on Volendam and sent these photos of her hike to Mount Cargill.

Outdoorsy types will love the hike on Mount Cargill — Dunedin, New Zealand’s, most prominent peak. This adventure offers a look at the natural wonders of southern New Zealand, the amazing Organ Pipes. Your hike starts at the Mount Cargill Walkway. You’ll climb through a forest and get views of Otago Harbour, Mihiwaka, Mount Kettle, Blueskin Bay and Silver Peaks. Nature lovers will enjoy seeing Mount Cargill’s native bush including broadleaf, pepperwood, mountain cedar and many lush ferns. You’ll make your way to the Organ Pipes, 10-million-year-old basalt formations created during the volcanic activity that also formed Otago Harbour.

Afterward you’ll continue on until you emerge at Buttars Peak, at an elevation of more than 2,000 feet above sea level, where you will be awed by the panoramic views around you.

Stavanger, Norway

Left: view of Pulpit Rock from above. Right: Cruise Director John Mann at the summit in 2012.

Left: view of Pulpit Rock from above. Right: Cruise Director John Mann at the summit in 2012.

If you’re headed to Stavanger, Norway, don’t miss hiking the world-famous Pulpit Rock! You’ll set out from the pier to the local ferry landing for a scenic crossing to Tau. Then it’s a half-hour ride through picturesque scenery toward Preikestolhytta where your hike will begin. You’ll hike for two hours to reach Pulpit Rock through a variety of landscapes including mountains, forests and marshland, passing lovely ponds along the way. The journey ends with a bang as the last 600 yards are the most spectacular, walking along narrow paths with steep cliffs on one side and Lysefjord far below on the other. Your arrival at Pulpit Rock is nothing short of amazing.

Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

If you’re taking a Canada and New England cruise, be sure to opt for the Hike to Uisage Ban Falls tour at Sydney, Nova Scotia. This tour begins with a drive along the Trans-Canada Highway to discover the picturesque resort village of Baddeck, situated on the shores of the stunning Bras d’Or Lakes. The route is incredible beautiful with views of Boulanderie Island, the Seal Island Bridge, the Great Bras d’Or Channel, Kelly’s Mountain and St. Ann’s Bay.

From Baddeck, you’ll head to the Uisage Ban (White Waters) Falls Trail. The hike to the falls is about three miles long and will take you through some of the oldest forests in the province — with 200-year-old birch and maple trees as your side. You’ll be impressed by the 50-foot falls the second you reach them!

Left: Uisage Ban Falls. Photo credit: NovaScotia.com. Right: guests hiking at Ushuaia.

Left: Uisage Ban Falls. Photo credit: NovaScotia.com. Right: guests hiking at Ushuaia.

Ushuaia, Argentina

If you’re looking for adventure during a call at Ushuaia, Argentina, the Trekking in Ushuaia tour is a must! From the pier you will head to the Tierra Mayor Valley to Nunatak to begin your trek. The drive alone is wonderful, as you pass stunning mountain scenery along the way. Your hike will feature a splendid view of the thick forest of Lengas — the typical tree of the region where a great variety of birds make their homes — as you make your way toward the Alvear Mountains. You’ll see the Five Cascades waterfalls, learn about how beavers work at building their dams and get to walk along a peat bog.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

You can hike a rainforest and swim in a waterfall at El Yunque.

You can hike a rain forest and swim in a waterfall at El Yunque.

The U.S. National Forest system has only one tropical rain forest and you can hike it during a call at San Juan, Puerto Rico. El Yunque Rain Forest is one of the smallest in size yet also one of the most biologically diverse offering plenty of opportunities to discover different animals and plant species. You’ll walk with a guide through the wilderness of the rain forest for about two hours, enjoying the views of this tropical woodland. You’ll even get to cool off with a swim at the base of one of the forest’s most beautiful waterfalls, so don’t forget a swimsuit!

Warren from North Carolina gave the tour five stars on the Holland America website and called it a delightful experience.

“For those wanting to see the outskirts of San Juan and its beautiful mountainous terrain, this is the excursion for you … I strongly recommend this trip for those seeking a unique excursion experience. El Yunque is the only rain forest in U.S. territory so it is a must see.”

Remember, tours can be pre-booked before you cruise so you get your top choices.

And if you’re thinking about booking a cruise that features a hiking tour – or any cruise for that matter – now is the time to book with the 30 Days of Savings sale going on through the end of the month. Guests can save up to 50 percent off select flights, plus receive up to US$300 onboard credit per stateroom on select sailings.

Do you enjoy hiking? Are there any other hiking tours you think should be on this list? Tell us in the comments below.

Quebec's cobblestone streets set the ambiance for the spooky Ghosts of Old Quebec tour.
Quebec's cobblestone streets set the ambiance for the spooky Ghosts of Old Quebec tour.

Halloween is the spookiest day of the year when ghosts and goblins of all ages come out to celebrate by dressing up in their favorite costumes, going trick-or-treating and visiting haunted houses. But Halloween doesn’t have to be the only day to get spooked. Many guests like haunting experiences that leave them shivering in their boots, and on several Holland America Line shore excursions guests can explore old ghost towns, mysterious catacombs and eerie graveyards that put a chill in the air.

If you like to see the unusual side of a destination, these terrifying tours are ideal for you!

Ghosts & Gravestones
Key West, Florida

Robert the Doll is a big attraction in Key West.

Robert the Doll is a big attraction in Key West.

Board the Trolley of the Doomed … if you dare! Key West’s frightful past comes alive with tales of murder, superstitions, betrayals, a mischievous doll named Robert, and a bizarre love story with a grave-robbing twist. As your Ghost Host guides you through the narrow streets aboard the Trolley of the Doomed, you will hear the tales that have been all but forgotten. Travel the narrow streets of Old Town, which is filled with 19th-century wooden houses that hold on to the secrets of their former inhabitants. Enter one of the island’s haunted Civil War forts which was once the quarantine barracks for suffering soldiers and is now home to Robert the Doll, who claims the title of the World’s Most Haunted Child’s Plaything. Your Ghost Host will add a pinch of humor to Key West’s dark side with tales of deathly love, tragic endings, scores to settle, wrongs to right, and ghastly folk, and you will see why the Travel Channel has identified Key West as one of America’s most haunted locations. Due to subject matter, this tour is not recommended for young children or the faint of heart.

Mysteries of Palermo
Palermo, Sicily

Visit the catacombs of the Capuchin Friars at Palermo.

Visit the catacombs of the Capuchin Friars at Palermo.

This excursion will start with a panoramic drive through of Palermo giving you the chance to admire its most beautiful monuments: Teatro Politeama, Teatro Massimo, the Quattro Canti, the Royal Palace and Piazza Pretoria. You’ll then visit the impressive catacombs of the Capuchin Friars where more than 8,000 mummified bodies of monks, noblemen and citizens are dressed in their original 15th-century clothes. The most disconcerting sight is the nearly perfectly preserved body of Rosalia Lombardo, who died in 1920 at the tender age of two. Your tour continues to the Oratory of Santa Cita, famous for the magnificent stucco work which adorns the interior. The stuccoes, executed by Giacomo Serpotta between 1688 and 1718, depict allegories, cherubs and the Mysteries of the Rosary. A short walk takes you to the Oratory of the Rosario di San Domenico. The interiors of this small oratory are regarded as a masterpiece on account of the beautiful stucco decoration executed by Giacomo Serpotta. On the walls are paintings by Pietro Novelli, Giacomo Lo Verde, Matthias Stomer and Luca Giordano depicting the Mysteries of the Rosary.

One guest from Rochester, NY gave full approval of this tour, saying:

Corpse after corpse after corpse. Morbid? Of course. They’re dead! And many are in a rather crumbly condition. We supposed we would be, too, if we had hung on the wall for several hundred years. But rather than be repulsed, the scene left us spellbound, if not a bit amused.

The Ghosts of Old Quebec
Quebec, Canada

Quebec's ancient buildings set the scene with a storied history.

Quebec’s ancient buildings set the scene with their storied history.

As the skies begin to darken, your costumed tour guide strikes a match and lights his lantern. Anxious participants wait in anticipation, for they know they will be walking through the dark side of Old Québec, stepping into a gory and gloomy past. As you walk you’ll hear tales of more than 300 years of murders, executions, mysterious ghostly sightings, tragedies and hauntings. The cobblestone streets and ancient buildings set the stage for your fascinating visit to the dark side of this ancient spectral city.

Vieux Quebec is so old and with so much history, it absolutely must have ghost running about. It was an honor to be introduced to a few. — Guest Tacitus

Ghosts & Goodtime Girls Walking Tour
Skagway, Alaska


Step back in time with one of the funny and informative madams of the Red Onion Saloon. Lavishly costumed and highly entertaining, she will greet you at your ship with a souvenir garter and guide you on a walking tour through the back alleys and former red light districts of Skagway, where women of the evening brushed shoulders with notorious characters such as Soapy Smith and Frank Reid. Stories of Klondike Kate, Cad Wilson and Diamond Lil depict the lusty, adventurous and sometimes tragic stories of the women who stampeded north. You will pass historic and haunted Gold Rush buildings as you learn of Skagway’s rich history. Your experience culminates with a stop at the world famous Red Onion Saloon’s restored Brothel Museum. Here, join in a champagne toast and explore the hallways and bedrooms of this celebrated brothel, observing original relics and images of the ladies who worked there. You may even catch a glimpse of the resident ghost, Lydia.

The history was the best, hearing and seeing what the girls had to contend with and how the system worked. — Guest Oden

Convicts of Fremantle & the Maritime Museum
Fremantle (Perth), Australia

Fremantle Prision dates back to 1855 and was home to many famous inmates.

Fremantle Prision dates back to 1855 and was home to many famous inmates.

Go directly to jail and do not pass go! You’re headed to Fremantle Prison — a fascinating and memorable UNESCO World Heritage Site. This incredible sandstone prison complex dates back to 1855, and was built using convict labor in Australia’s early days as a penal colony. Almost 10,000 male convicts were assigned to Western Australia between 1850 and 1868. Amazingly, this house of horrors remained in use until 1991. Today you’ll tour the main cellblock and the prison yard as the guide explains its history and relates tales of its famous inmates.

Then you’ll head to the Western Australia Maritime Museum. Western Australia boasts a long and colorful maritime history and the museum’s internationally acclaimed exhibits feature relics and artifacts salvaged from the coast’s many shipwrecks. Among these was the Batavia, which went down in 1929 with a cargo of silver coins. The last stop will be at the Fremantle Arts Centre. Convict labor was also used in the building of this neo-Gothic structure. The Centre’s exhibits and displays trace the history of Western Australia from colonization to whaling.

Photo from Bonorong Wildlife Park.

Photo from Bonorong Wildlife Park.

Nocturnal Nights
Hobart, Tasmania

As the sun is about to set make your way to Bonorong Wildlife Park, where as the sun goes down the animals come to life! Most of the park’s animals are nocturnal or crepuscular, meaning that they are most active at dusk and dawn. The park will be closed to the general public and you will enjoy an extremely personal experience as you tour the park and have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the animals. You will have many photo and feeding opportunities that simply are not available during the day. The tour will include in-depth information from your park guide about the park animals including the Tasmania devil, quolls; wombats, koala’s and friendly free roaming kangaroos and wallabies. Return to your ship at the end of your tour.

Remember, tours can be pre-booked before you cruise so you get your top choices.

Do you like to get goose bumps and feel a chill up your spine? Or do you prefer the ghost-free tours that are more relaxing and scenic? Which one of these spooky shore excursions would you like to experience?

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!

Canada and New England come alive in the fall with the bright colors of Autumn's foliage.
Canada and New England come alive in the fall with the bright colors of Autumn's foliage.

Tomorrow is the first day of autumn and that can only mean one thing — it is time for Holland America Line’s famous Fall Foliage cruises!

Speaking as one of Canada’s most popular figures, L.M. Montgomery wrote, “I’m so glad to live in a world where there are Octobers,” and a Fall Foliage cruise is the best way to discover what the Anne of Green Gables writer meant. The leaves have begun to turn in the northeast, their vibrant red, orange, brown and yellow hues contrast beautifully with the blue waters of the coast. And a dip in temperatures makes exploring the region even more pleasant.

Holland America Line groups many of their shore excursions into Collections to help guide guests to the perfect personal choice. One of the most popular collections is the Medallion Collection, featuring a series of exclusive experiences designed for the most discerning guests. Guests on a Fall Foliage cruise looking for a particularly immersive and small-group experience will be delighted by these Medallion Collection tour options.

Historic Lunenburg: A UNESCO World Heritage Site
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, claims to be the prettiest town in Canada, and after seeing it on the Historic Lunenburg: A UNESCO World Heritage Site tour, you just might agree! An hour drive from Halifax first takes you to Mahone Bay, famous for its picturesque scene of three waterfront churches and coastal charm. From there it’s only a 15 minute drive to Lunenburg, a town whose distinctive architecture and extraordinary scenic beauty is a colorful reminder of Canada’s maritime heritage. Settled in the mid-1750s by Germans and Swiss, this town was once the busiest shipbuilding town in the world. You’ll enjoy free time to explore the boardwalk, visit shops and dine where you please.


Sailing on the Bras D’Or Lakes
You can get a breathtaking look of Cape Breton Island during a call at Sydney, Nova Scotia, with the Sailing on the Bras D’Or Lakes experience. Alexander Graham Bell said:

“I have travelled around the globe. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes and the Alps, and the highlands of Scotland. But for simple beauty Cape Breton outrivals them all.”

You’ll understand what he meant during a panoramic drive to Baddeck, a quaint but vibrant town at the center of Cape Breton. Here you will board the Schooner Amoeba for a sailing adventure along the shore and among the islands of the Bras D’Or Lakes. You’ll enjoy the stunning scenery that Alexander Graham Bell loved so much and you may even spot some wildlife.

Island’s Finest: Anne, Lobster & Scenic Drive
See the best of Canada’s smallest province during a call at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, with the Island’s Finest: Anne, Lobster & Scenic Drive tour. On this tour you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see foliage with rolling farmlands surrounding your bus along the way. You’ll visit New Glasgow, the red cliffs of P.E.I.’s North Shore during a stop at Cavendish Beach and also the Anne of Green Gables Heritage museum to learn about one of Canada’s most popular fictional characters. Enjoy a delicious lobster lunch before heading back to the ship.


Fun with Falcons
The Fun with Falcons tour at Charlottetown is a once-in-a-lifetime experience where guests get to watch a falcon and hawk soar at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. The scenic drive to the site of your tour lets you take in farmlands and beautiful country scenery. When you arrive you’ll meet the handler and learn about the animals. The falcon, a mix between a gyrfalcon and a peregrine falcon, will have you in awe with its beautiful white feathers. The handler will set it loose to fly around as he waves a lure made of Seagull feathers in the air. The falcon will dive for the lure with incredible precision. If you blink you’ll miss it.

The handler teaches guests about the gyrfalcon before letting him loose for a spectacular flight.

The handler teaches guests about the gyrfalcon before letting him loose for a spectacular flight.

On this tour you’ll also have the opportunity to don a handler’s glove and have a hawk fly onto your arm. The well-trained Bella will even pause on your wrist for a short moment and pose for pictures. This is the only tour with falconry offered in the Holland America Line portfolio, so if your ship is calling at P.E.I., make sure not to miss it!


La Fabuleuse Cultural Show
During a call at Saguenay, Quebec, you can re-live the important events that have marked the history of the region, starting with its “discovery” by Jacques Cartier, with La Fabuleuse Cultural Show. You’ll witness the colonization, the Great Fire of 1870, the flood of 1996 and a myriad of other history-making events. The exhilarating, live stage show begins in 1603 and features over 200 actors, a host of animals and grand audiovisual techniques.

Saguenay's history is as interesting as its scenery is beautiful.

Saguenay’s history is as interesting as its scenery is beautiful.

Ultimate Innu Experience
Enjoy an exclusive encounter with the Innu in their natural milieu while at Sept-Îles, Quebec. You’ll discover their rich culture and way of life with the Ultimate Innu Experience. The Innu are one of the most populous First Nations in Quebec. The Innu way of life is a seasonal cycle of activities based on harvesting resources as they become available — wild berries in the fall, caribou in the winter, and salmon and geese in the spring. Upon your arrival at the Innu Camp on the banks of the Moisie River, you’ll be immersed in the many aspects of traditional and contemporary Innu culture, history, beliefs and traditions.

Photo courtesy of Avid Cruiser's Ralph Grizzle.

Photo courtesy of Avid Cruiser’s Ralph Grizzle.

Avid Cruiser’s Ralph Grizzle did this tour while at Sept-Îles:

It was an absolutely fascinating experience, where I got to hear Innu stories, see a drum demonstration and sample some of the food, such as smoked salmon (from the world-renowned Moise River) and bannick bread, baked in an earth oven.

You can read about the rest of Ralph’s experience here.

Stroll through Quebec City & Tea at Château Frontenac
Quebec City, Quebec, is filled with history at every turn, and Château Frontenac, perched in the upper town and overlooking the entire city, might be its most beautiful historic site. Countless personalities have been to Château Frontenac since the luxury hotel opened its doors in 1893, from Charles de Gaulle to Charles Lindberg. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Ministers William Lyon Mackenzie King and Winston Churchill representing the U.S., Canada and U.K discussed important issues here during the Quebec Conferences of World War II. You’ll see much of the city during the Stroll through Quebec City & Tea at Château Frontenac tour. Then you’ll visit Château Frontenac to enjoy tea and sweet treats, but you don’t have to discuss such serious matters like F.D.R. and Churchill! You can just reflect on the lovely day you’ve had.


You can visit all of these ports and more during ms Maasdam’s 13-day Atlantic Coast cruise from Montreal, Canada, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The itinerary also includes scenic cruising along the St. Lawrence River, Saguenay Fjord and Gaspe Bay and calls at Bar Harbor, Maine, and New York, New York.

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

Have you been on a Holland America Line Fall Foliage cruise? Tell us which tours you enjoyed most in the comments below.

A Panama Canal cruise is an incredible journey.
A Panama Canal cruise is an incredible journey.

The Panama Canal is an incredible man-made marvel that can be uniquely experienced on a Holland America Line cruise. If it’s not on your bucket list, it should be! There’s an incredible wave of awe that comes over every cruiser transiting the lakes and locks of this spectacle that made the list of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. And the region is beautifully lush, making it a picture-perfect vacation.

The only way to fully experience the Panama Canal is on a cruise. In fact, it’s the best way to experience any destination! No other vacation is as convenient, pampering and exciting … all at the same time. On a cruise you unpack one time, yet you get to visit many ports and countries. And with dining, entertainment, enrichment and so much more included, there’s no better value!

Holland America Line features diverse and extensive cruises to the Panama Canal, from full transits that reposition a ship from one destination to another, to the roundtrip Fort Lauderdale, Florida, series of cruises that enter part of the canal but don’t fully transit.

Here’s a list of the seven pros of a Panama Canal cruise:

The days of having to go around Cape Horn at the tip of South America to get from Atlantic to Pacific — or vice versa — are long gone. Now ships can easily move from ocean to ocean, cutting 8,000 miles off the journey. And with the expansion well under way, larger vessels will soon be able to make the 48-mile journey. Ships often make the full transit on repositioning cruises in the fall and spring that take them from one cruising destination to another. Unlike many repositioning cruises, a Panama Canal transit includes a lot of scenic cruising and many ports of call, making it the ideal way to get from one season to the next.


If You Want To Go:
If you want to get away for the winter holidays and transit the entire Panama Canal, Amsterdam’s 18-Day Holiday Cruise from San Diego, California, to Fort Lauderdale is an incredible way to celebrate Christmas and ring in the New Year! Departing Dec. 18, 2015, the voyage calls at ports in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Aruba, Curaçao and Half Moon Cay.

It’s called one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World for a reason. The Panama Canal is a series of locks that raise and lower a ship to different sea levels. It took 33 years to complete the project, which was started by France 1881. The United States took over the project in 1904, and the Panama Canal was officially opened Aug. 15, 1914.

Graphic from panamaliving.com.

Graphic from panamaliving.com.

Onboard, guests will learn facts like this and more about the history of the canal and the art, culture and wildlife of the region through our Exploration Speaker Series that brings on Panama Canal experts.

Our “On Location” Guide Lisa presented a fantastic slide show of what we would see on our transit. Her talk was so comprehensive that we discovered a few things to see that we hadn’t spotted on our previous crossings. And we looked for them on this transit. — Sharon J.

If You Want To Go:
Are you looking for a special way to celebrate the New Year? Join Veendam on a 14-day Panama Canal cruise and see the wonder for yourself. Departing Jan. 3, 2016, the voyage from San Diego to Tampa, Florida, gives guests an up-close view of the inner-workings of the canal.

The Panama Canal is a lush gateway lined with emerald-hued flora and an abundance of colorful fauna. Standing on deck as you traverse the canal is sensory overload, with beautiful sites around every corner. Be sure to have your camera on hand.


Absolutely loved our trip from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego through the Panama Canal years ago. Amazing scenery… — Guest Fiona B.

If You Want To Go:
If you think one cruise isn’t enough, Maasdam is sailing back-to-back transits departing March 1, 2016, from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego, and back to Fort Lauderdale departing March 15. The two cruises have non-repeating ports in Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Colombia and the Caribbean, making it the perfect Collectors’ Voyage for guests who want an immersive Panama Canal experience.

The Panama Canal is made up of three locks: Gatun, Pedro Miguel and Miraflores. On average, it takes a ship eight to 10 hours to pass through the canal. While moving through it, the system of locks raises each ship 85 feet above sea level.

Moving through the Panama Canal locks. Photo by Captain Mercer.

Moving through the Panama Canal locks. Photo by Captain Mercer.

Bright Hub Engineering did a great job explaining how ships move through the locks:

• The ship approaches the lock gates at a reduced speed.
• The “pilot” boards the ship and he instructs the ships speed and direction.
• The ship enters the lock gates, which is narrow when compared to the size of the ship.
• The lock gates are then closed, enclosing the ship inside. To lift up the ship, water has to be pumped into the lock chambers.
• When water is pumped, the level of water increases inside the lock chamber lifting the ship up. The lifted height equals the height required for the ship to proceed to the next lock chamber. Thus the ship gets lifted up above the sea-level from the pacific ocean.
• It reaches Gatun Lake after getting lifted up through Miraflores and Pedro Miguel locks. The ship has to be lowered down to get to the level of the Atlantic Ocean through the Gatun locks.
• The ship enters the Gatun lock chamber, where the gates again get closed, enclosing the ship in the lock chamber. The water gets pumped out of the lock gates, decreasing the water level in the lock chamber.
• When the water level equals the level of the Atlantic Ocean side, the outward lock gates open up, leading the ship to the sea passage.

If You Want To Go:
If you want to transit the Panama Canal sooner rather than later, there’s still time to cruise this fall! If you like last-minute adventures, Westerdam and Oosterdam leave Sept. 26 and 27, respectively, to reposition from Alaska to the Caribbean. Westerdam is departing Seattle on an 18-day cruise, while Oosterdam is sailing from Vancouver on a 19-day transit. In October, Veendam cruises from Atlantic to Pacific on a 19-day transit departing Oct. 17 from Boston to San Diego. Those who want to leave from Fort Lauderdale can depart on Veendam Oct. 21.

The Panama Canal has two lakes: Gatun Lake and Miraflores Lake. Did you know that Gatun Lake is an artificial lake? It was created between 1907 and 1913, and at that time it was the largest man-made lake in the world.

Captain Mercer snapped this photo of Gatun Lake during his transit.

Captain Mercer snapped this photo of Gatun Lake during his transit.

If You Want To Go:
When it’s time for the Alaska season, Maasdam repositions from Fort Lauderdale to Seattle, Washington, on a 20-day adventure that includes a transit of the Panama Canal. Guests looking for a shorter journey can disembark at San Diego, making it a 15-day cruise, or Vancouver, British Columbia, for a 19-day voyage.

If you want a convenient roundtrip Fort Lauderdale cruise, Zuiderdam offers Sunfarer voyages starting at 10 days that include a Caribbean exploration and a partial Panama Canal transit. The ship spends a morning cruising Gatun Lake where guests can disembark and take one of several shore excursions, including the Gatun Locks & Kayak in the Canal to Colon tour.

Guests on Sunfarer itineraries can go ashore at Gatun and take a variety of tours.

Guests on Sunfarer itineraries can go ashore at Gatun and take a variety of tours.

In 2007, work began on a $5.25 billion expansion project that will enable the canal to handle post-Panamax ships — those exceeding the dimensions of Panamax vessels built to fit through the canal. The expanded canal will be able to handle cargo vessels carrying 14,000 20-foot containers, nearly three times the amount currently accommodated! The expansion project, expected to be completed in 2016, includes the creation of a new, larger set of locks and the widening and deepening of existing navigational channels. As of Aug. 31, 2015, the project is 93 percent complete.

We will be doing our fourth transit next April with HAL. What a great trip. We learn new things every time. Looking forward to it – again. — Sue C.

If You Want To Go:
If you’re looking to transit the canal but also visit the exotic ABC Islands in the Caribbean, Westerdam’s March 12, 2016, cruise is the perfect choice for you. The 21-day cruise from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego makes 13 calls along the way, including Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. Mexico also takes center stage, with five calls throughout the country.

Book Now for Savings:
If you book by October 2015, the 2016 Panama Canal Sunfarer voyages are included in the Explore 4 promotion. That means they will include a complimentary signature beverage package and dinner at the Pinnacle Grill, plus reduced fares for third and fourth guests, and a 50 percent reduced deposit.

The Panama Canal is a “must-do” cruise for every avid traveler. Are you planning on transiting the canal soon?

Denali is a highlight of any Land+Sea Journey.
Denali is a highlight of any Land+Sea Journey.

It’s one of the most majestic places on earth with a juxtaposition of sights and sounds — from glistening glaciers to blooming sunflowers, from orcas and seals to caribou and black bears. Alaska might be called the Last Frontier, but for many travelers it’s first on their bucket list.

Combine an Alaska cruise that gives you access to places only visited by ship with an overland journey into the heart of the region and you have a perfectly crafted, unforgettable Holland America Line Land+Sea Journey.

And with the recent name change of Mt. McKinley to Denali, there’s going to be a spotlight on this incredible site. There’s no better or easier way to see Denali than on a Land+Sea Journey with the leader in Great Land travel.

Guest and photojournalist Andy Newman recently joined a Land+Sea Journey that started at Anchorage with the overland adventure and ended with four days of cruising aboard Volendam. Enjoy the beautiful photos he snapped along the way.


It is an absolutely gorgeous day in Alaska and the view from Holland America’s McKinley Explorer of the tallest mountain (Denali) in North America is stunning. — Andy



Had the chance Monday evening to jump up in the air to take a look at “The Mountain” from 12,000 feet and … — Andy




In July we posted about the new Base Camp complex at our resort in the heart of Denali National Park. Base Camp will be centrally located between the main part of the property, containing the reception hall, dining facilities and guest rooms, and the riverfront guest rooms that provide stunning views of the Nenana River. Andy was able to capture the progress during his stay at the resort. Come next summer, it will be ready to welcome guests on dozens of Land+Sea Journeys for our 69th season in Alaska!



Here’s what the area will look like when it’s complete:

A rendering of Base Camp shows the facilities at the complex, including a restaurant, bar, shops and entertainment area.

A rendering of Base Camp shows the facilities at the complex, including a restaurant, bar, shops and entertainment area.


Beauty of the Portage Glacier, a land-locked glacier about an hour outside of Anchorage.

Beauty of the Portage Glacier, a land-locked glacier about an hour outside of Anchorage.

After arriving at Skagway, I jumped in a Temsco helicopter to take a ride and land on Meade Glacier. I did the helo trip about eight years ago in the Juneau glacier field and came away with the thought that it will be the closest I ever get to walking on the moon. — Andy


Then on to Glacier Bay …




With more than 120 cruises to Alaska in 2016, Holland America Line is the leader in Great Land travel.

With more than 120 cruises to Alaska in 2016, Holland America Line is the leader in Great Land travel.


Would you believe I hopped on the back of a moose to get this photo, or that I mounted a GoPro? Of course, neither is true. At the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, about an hour outside of Anchorage, you can get close to a number of Alaska’s indigenous creatures in rehab. No matter how hard I pleaded to get this moose to turn around, he refused, so here’s a moose-eye’s view of the surroundings. — Andy


 Brown bear looks for food at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

Brown bear looks for food at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

Tuesday evening had plenty of moose as the land portion of our Holland America Alaska trip continued. As we ventured to our destination, we spotted a cow eating aquatic grasses in a small river and we stopped. But the best opportunity of the trip came at the resort when a wild bull and cow wandered on property. — Andy


Holland America Line took us to Ketichikan, Monday, for the final stop on our Alaskan-Canadian land-sea sojourn. Maria and I really wanted to see wild bears so we opted for the Alaskan Bear Adventure by Floatplane excursion, a 20-minute floatplane trip to Prince of Wales island, a short van ride and hike to a salmon-rich stream. We ended up viewing three black bears. — Andy




I waited for a black bear to catch a salmon at Prince of Wales, Alaska, stream. I waited and waited and waited. And just as the guide was telling us we had to leave, it almost happened. But the darn bear missed the fish. Lucky salmon. Not so lucky for me or for the bear. — Andy


Sailing back to Vancouver I saw humpback whales, killer whales and some Pacific white-sided dolphins hitched a ride in our bow wave. To have the opportunity to see these marine mammals in the wild was special. — Andy



Wedding photos off the Seward Highway. I would have loved to hopped off the bus here to take more photos. — Andy


This is what you come to Alaska for… — Andy


After you get through freezing your fanny at Chena Resort’s ice museum, you can take a dip in the hot springs. — Andy



Chena had some of the most magnificent sunflowers I have ever seen. — Andy


Thursday, our Holland-America Land+Sea Journey had us still in Dawson City, Yukon, and we decided since Maria hit it big at Gold Dredge #8 in Fairbanks that we would visit the Goldbottom mine about 45 minutes away. It was a real “placer” mine and we had a chance to see some of the equipment used today. At the end of the tour, each person received a pan of dirt and rocks and took it to a nearby stream to sift for gold. — Andy


Nope, an earthquake didn’t cause this. These 1901-circa buildings in Dawson City sank because of permafrost, or the ground underneath freezing and thawing creating moisture and then a muddy mess causing the foundations to sink. — Andy


Our transportation from Dawson City to Whitehorse was this comfortable Holland America motorcoach. — Andy


Five Finger Rapids — off the Klondike Highway — is not so rapid anymore, because many years ago gold rushers used dynamite to blow up many of the rocks that posed dangerous obstacles to the early stampeders. — Andy


We arrived in Ketchikan Monday, our final Alaskan stop before returning home later in the week. In Alaska small planes are abundant. Alaska has six times as many pilots per capita and 16 times as many aircraft per capita when compared to states in the rest of the U.S. — Andy



One more photo. Pretty Wednesday morning in Vancouver, B.C. Temperature at 6:52 a.m. is 65 degrees F. Sojourn is now officially over. — Andy


If you’re cruising to Alaska, remember that shore excursions are very popular. We recommend pre-booking your tours so you get all of your choices.

If you’re thinking about a cruise to Alaska, now is the time to book. Be sure to take advantage of savings up to $1,000 per stateroom with the Fall Finale promotion that highlights 2015 itineraries. At least 60 different sailings, including many Alaska cruises, are eligible for this deal if booked by Sept. 10, 2015, with a $60 deposit.

If you want to cruise next year or beyond, the Explore 4 special also is in full swing. Benefits for guests booking any category stateroom include a free Signature Beverage Package valued at up to $1,400, a free Pinnacle Grill dinner for two, reduced cruise fares for third and fourth guests in the same stateroom and 50 percent reduced deposits. Bookings must be made by Oct. 31, 2015. There’s never been a better time to book one of the many Alaska cruises included in this promo!

Penguins can be seen on tours in South America and Australia/New Zealand.
Penguins can be seen on tours in South America and Australia/New Zealand.

Holland America Line cruises travel all over the world, and some of the most unique and exciting shore excursions are the many wildlife tours highlighting native species unique to an area.

If you’re cruising to South America or Australia and New Zealand, keep your eyes peeled for an adorable little bird unique to the South Pole. With their tuxedo-like coloring, playful antics, wit and signature waddle, people travel from far and wide to see these birds up close.

That’s right, we’re talking about penguins! And lucky for Holland America Line cruisers, we offer a number of enriching shore excursions focused on penguin sightings.


Magdalena Island & Penguin Reserve by Covered Speedboat
Hop on a speedboat from Punta Arenas, Chile, and ride across the Strait of Magellan. You’ll drive past a 1,000-member colony of sea lions on Marta Island before going ashore at Magdalena Island. There, you’ll spend time walking among one of the largest colonies of more than 150,000 Magellan penguins.

Magdalena Island is home to Magellan penguins.

Magdalena Island is home to Magellan penguins.

Guest AnneElizabeth rated the tour five stars:

“This was our favorite shore excursion on our South American trip. There were lots of penguins and the guides were professional. We spent a little more than an hour on the island with the penguins and about 25 minutes offshore seeing the sea lions. There was plenty of opportunity to view the wildlife and get photos – great tour!”

Punta Tombo Penguin Adventure
Puerto Madryn is the stepping-off point for at least two of Argentina’s most exciting Natural Parks: the Valdes Peninsula and Punta Tombo. Punta Tombo Nature Reserve, which you will visit on this tour, is world renowned as perhaps the finest spot from which to view Magellan penguins, and indeed is home to the world’s largest colony of that species. It is estimated that more than a million penguins come here each year, and from November onwards it is possible to also see baby penguins leaving their nests. As you quietly stroll along the footpath through the colony, the lovable and endearing penguins will not be afraid of you. They are used to having visitors, and the visitors’ code of conduct, explained by your guide, ensures that disturbance to the birds is minimal. You will learn about how the Magellan penguins mate for life — the female lays two eggs each year, which the male and female then brood and raise together.

Get close to Magellan penguins at Punta Tombo Nature Reserve.

Get close to Magellan penguins at Punta Tombo Nature Reserve.

Patagonian Experience: Otway Sound & Penguin Reserve
Also from Punta Arenas, this tour takes in the beauty of Patagonia with a brief stop at a penguin colony. Head northeast by motor coach across huge sheep farms bordering Otway Bay. You will have magnificent views of the Pinto Range. Skirting Otway Bay, you will reach the caves where Magellan penguins live and nest. To reach the nests and beaches where the penguins live, you will leave the coach and walk approximately three quarters of a mile. Your guide will be with you to help answer questions. Bring your camera for some great close-up photos of these majestic birds.

Wildlife-Lovers’ Paradise
From Callao (Lima) Peru, board an uncovered boat for transportation to the Palomino Islands. En route, and at the islands themselves, you will observe rocky islands, dung birds, fishermen at work on their boats and a Humboldt penguin colony. A huge group of sea lions will likely meet your boat. They live in complete safety because there are no predators here, and they will play, swim, jump and dive around you! Heading back to the pier, your boat travels past shoals and rocks that are crowded with bird colonies, rounding out your marine nature experience.

Bluff Cove Penguin Rookery
Off the coast of Argentina lie the Falkland Islands, home to more penguin tours than any other port! One of these tours heads to the Bluff Cove Lagoon where you’ll travel through rugged beach terrain via a Land Rover 4-by-4. Stroll down the lagoon’s white, sandy beaches, home to thousands of king and Gentoo penguins, sea lions and a number of other bird species. Stop at the Sea Cabbage Café for warm drinks and pastries before taking time to browse the Bluff Cove Museum and gift shop.

The Blue Cove Penguin Rookery.

The Blue Cove Penguin Rookery.

Joe’s Gentoo Penguins
On this fun-filled adventure in the Falkland Islands, you will see a colony of approximately 200 breeding pairs of Gentoo penguins just 30 minutes from Stanley. Take an off-road 4×4 vehicle for the 20 mile off-road drive to Beach Point. At the Gentoo penguin rookery, you will enjoy time with the penguins, observing them going about their business with little regard for your presence. Other birds to watch for are southern giant petrels, skuas, rock cormorants, upland geese, turkey vultures, kelp gulls and, occasionally, flightless steamer ducks in their natural environment.

Great visit to Joe’s Gentoos. The van ride driver was full of many Falkland facts, which made the trip go quickly. Surprised how close we could get to the penguins, even saw a handful returning from the sea, no doubt with tasty morsels for their little ones. So I’ve got on video my own march of the penguins. Also have a pic of me digging peat … Joe is a character! — Guest Myacchico

Gentoo penguins can be found in the Falkland Islands.

Gentoo penguins can be found in the Falkland Islands.

Elusive & Exclusive: Rockhopper Penguins
The funniest members of the incredibly comedic penguin world are undoubtedly Rockhopper penguins in their natural environment. Due to new road construction, visitors to the Falklands now have the chance to view these funny little penguins, rarely found in other locations. You’ll travel by minibus and take in the main sights of Stanley, then change to 4×4 transportation at Murrell Farm. From here, an experienced overland driver/guide will navigate the terrain en route to the Rockhopper penguin colony where wardens will be on hand to offer information and assistance. This is a unique opportunity to take amazing, once-in-a-lifetime photographs and experience the joy these penguins naturally and effortlessly bring to any audience.


Antarctic Encounter & Auckland Sky Tower
After docking at Auckland, New Zealand, a scenic drive down a waterfront road will take you to Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium, home to an 80-member colony of king and Gentoo penguins. The aquarium is also home to many different species of fish, sharks and stingrays.

This tour doesn’t stop with the penguins! After your done at the aquarium you’ll be transported to the famous Sky Tower. A 1,072-foot elevator ride to the top promises awe-inspiring panoramic views of the city.

Nature’s Wonders: Wildlife Cruise & Penguins
Also in New Zealand lies the charming city of Dunedin. Board a 55-foot wooden launch for an hour and a half scenic cruise to Taiaroa Head. Sip on a warm beverage and enjoy cookies while keeping an eye out for fur seals and albatross. Then head to Nature’s Wonders where you’ll have the chance to jump in an all-terrain Argo vehicle for an exciting ride through the rolling farmlands. Discover a fur seal colony and a yellow-eyed penguin nesting area on the Otago Peninsula. Finish off this excursion with a brief orientation tour of Dunedin, renowned for its fine Edwardian-era stone buildings.

Otago Peninsula Yellow-Eyed Penguin Reserve
Penguin tours are in abundance in Dunedin. At Penguin Place — an award-winning penguin-conservation project — you will have the privilege of entering a protected yellow-eyed penguin nesting area. A carefully controlled and informative tour begins with a talk about the penguins and their conservation before a guide takes you to the beachside colony where well-camouflaged trenches and hides among the dunes allow excellent proximity to the penguins and great photographic opportunities. Proceeds from the tour are used to fund the conservation work and a unit that looks after injured penguins.

The yellow-eyed penguins at Penguin Place.

The yellow-eyed penguins at Penguin Place.

International Antarctic Centre & Canterbury Boutique Winery
Depart Akaroa, New Zealand, for a scenic drive over Banks Peninsula to the outskirts of Christchurch city. Since the 1950s, Christchurch has been the main staging center for Operation Deep Freeze — the US. Government’s Antarctic project. During the Southern Hemisphere’s summer months, numerous American Starlifter and Galaxy aircraft fly south to McMurdo Station in Antarctica. But Christchurch’s Antarctic links go back much further, to the time when Captain Scott sailed from Lyttelton on his final journey to the South Pole in the early 1900s.

Visit the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch to see the many informative displays depicting life and work on the frozen continent. You can even experience sub-zero wind-chill conditions in a specially designed blizzard room. A highlight includes the new 4-D Antarctica Experience and the Penguin Encounter enclosure where you can see the cute and entertaining little blue penguins swimming and roaming about in their specially re-created marine environment. After you leave the Antarctic Centre you will stop for lunch at a local winery before returning to Akaroa and the ship.


Whether it’s food, architecture, museums or wildlife, when traveling to a new part of the globe you’ll want to take in the aspects unique to the area. A trip to the South Pole just wouldn’t be complete without visiting the exclusive resident penguin, and we guarantee they’ll steal your heart at first waddle!


If you’re interested in visiting these locations, remember that the shore excursions can be pre-booked so you’re sure to get the tour of your choice.

If you book by October 2015 the 14-Day South America Passage aboard Zaandam stopping at the Falkland Islands and Punta Arenas is included in the Explore 4 promotion. That means it will include a complimentary signature beverage package and dinner at the Pinnacle Grill, plus reduced fares for third and fourth guests, and a 50 percent reduced deposit.

If it’s New Zealand you’d rather visit, Noordam’s 13-Day New Zealand Discovery stops at both Dunedin and Auckland, and it’s included in our Fall Finale special. If booked by September 10, cruisers can save up to $1,000 per stateroom!

Have you ever had the chance to see penguins in person? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Half Moon Cay's Private Oasis is your personal sanctuary in paradise.
Half Moon Cay's Private Oasis is your personal sanctuary in paradise.

Half Moon Cay is Holland America Line’s number-one-rated port on Caribbean cruises. This idyllic destination features everything you would expect in paradise: crystalline waters, powdery beaches and an endless array of activities. From snorkeling and kayaking to horse-back riding for those who want to get moving and beach chairs for those who want to relax, Half Moon Cay has it all.

But if you’re looking for the ultimate getaway within this amazing getaway, be sure to book the Private Oasis for your family and spend the day in your own, personal sanctuary. This tropical haven is perched on a point partially over the island’s warm waters. They make the perfect spot for a private day with friends and family … a luxurious setting at one of the most stunning beaches the Caribbean has to offer.

Start the morning with an onboard greeting from the butler who takes you to the tender for the journey ashore. Once on land, stroll along a private walkway to your slice of paradise — and a large slice at that with 1,620 square feet of space to enjoy. You can spend time in the large covered pavilion or out in the sun. The facility features a slide that lands right in the ocean, an eight-person hot tub perfect for a relaxing soak, private bathrooms, indoor and outdoor showers with warm water, 100-foot walkway with misting stations and changing rooms.

There's plenty of room for friends and family.

There’s plenty of room for friends and family.

The Private Oasis includes a full wet bar and refrigerator so you can get into the Bahamian spirit with the island cocktail of your choice. With options like Mojitos, Beach Cruisers and Rum Runners or frozen tropical classics like Piña Coladas, Strawberry Daiquiris and Margaritas, you’ll catch the island vibes in no time. Soft drinks, bottled water, juices, beers, wines and mocktails are also included and your own personal bartender and bar waiter are there to whip up whatever you’re in the mood for.

We booked this excursion to celebrate my husband’s retirement and share the experience with 22 of our closest friends and also purchased the Palm Package upgrade. It was worth every penny!! The service by the Pinnacle Grill staff was exemplary and the food and beverages were beyond our expectations. HIGHLY recommend this excursion!!! Guest QuilterPat

You won’t go hungry here either — fresh fruit, danish, chips and salsa are served in the early morning and a barbecue lunch buffet will satisfy your hunger in the afternoon. Enjoy assorted salads, grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, fresh Teriyaki-glazed Mahi Mahi, barbecued pork spare ribs and barbecued chicken, brownies and cookies, all at the indoor teak dining table with seating for six or the outdoor teak lounges and bar stools that accommodate 12. All the cooking is done by your own personal chef — who’s not the only staff that comes with the place — you will also have a butler and lifeguard!

From fresh fruit to grilled shrimp, this oasis has something for all tastes.

From fresh fruit to grilled shrimp, this oasis serves up something for all tastes.

Guest Mom2Huskies gave the Private Oasis five stars on the Holland America Line website and said it was the highlight of her trip:

“This is the most amazing thing to do on HMC you feel like a VIP and so worth every penny plus you get cruise day credits.”

All the above amenities are included in the Private Oasis Palm Package. The packages below offer even more indulgences!

The Private Oasis Royal Palm Package

This upgrade features even more delicious Caribbean fare with seafood, pasta, potato and chop salads; grilled shrimp, Caribbean-style barbecue steaks, blackened grilled fish, tropical spears and banana coconut cake added to your barbecue. You’ll also be able to truly relax in paradise with a Greenhouse Spa masseuse available.

A postcard-perfect day at the Private Oasis.

A postcard-perfect day at the Private Oasis.

Jmack81598 also gave the Private Oasis five stars and said it’s the perfect setting for a celebration:

“We did this to celebrate a birthday during our cruise. We were a party of 10 ages 5-71 and it was perfect for everyone. The food and service were fantastic. The oasis is beautiful and only steps to the main beach. Lifeguard, bartender, waiter and host included. Couldn’t ask for more. Stunning beach! Well worth it – if you are going to treat yourself, this is the way to go!”

Ultimate Oasis Package

The Ultimate Oasis Package is perfect for guests who truly want to enjoy the good life, Caribbean-style! Once you arrive via your escorted transfer from the ship you can begin to pop as many tops as you want with unlimited Dom Perignon Champagne! Snack on Russian Caviar with iced vodka, Iced King Crab Legs and Jumbo Chilled Shrimp, conch and pasta salads and Ceviche of Tuna. You better save room for the main course with Grilled Sea Scallops, Grilled Lobster and Beef Tenderloin on the menu! One Pinnacle Grill Manager, a Chef de Partie and an assistant cook will make sure all the food is to your liking, and two waiters and an assistant waiter will make sure you don’t have to lift a finger! The Private Pasis is also staffed with a bartender, assistant bartender, housekeeper and masseuse.

Here’s what two more cruisers had to say about this getaway-within-a-getaway:

This was a special trip for our family and we treated ourselves to this. We loved it and wished we could have stayed longer! The day starts with a ‘butler’ coming to your stateroom to take you to the oasis. It was so nice not having to wait in line for the tender. We arrived to a great spread of fruit, veggies, dips and chips and guacamole … Lunch was wonderful! Just when you thought that was all the food, surprise there was more! This is a must for a family reunion or if you are traveling with a group of friends. It is well worth the money and you well love it!- Trevor

Guests of all ages enjoy a day in a Private Oasis.

Guests of all ages enjoy a day in a Private Oasis.

If your cruise is calling at Half Moon Cay, remember that the Private Oasis can be pre-booked. There’s only one on the island so book early to make sure it’s available.

If you’re thinking about a cruise to the Caribbean, now is the time to book. Be sure to take advantage of savings up to $1,000 per stateroom with the Fall Finale promotion that highlights 2015 itineraries. At least 60 different sailings, including many Caribbean cruises, are eligible for this deal if booked by Sept. 10, 2015, with a $60 deposit.

If you want to cruise next year or beyond, the Explore 4 special also is in full swing. Benefits for guests booking any category stateroom include a free Signature Beverage Package valued at up to $1,400, a free Pinnacle Grill dinner for two, reduced cruise fares for third and fourth guests in the same stateroom and 50 percent reduced deposits. Bookings must be made by Oct. 31, 2015. There’s never been a better time to book one of the many Caribbean cruises included in this promo!

Have you spent the day in a Private Oasis? What would you celebrate in this idyllic setting? Tell us in the comments below.

Posts navigation

Previous Posts