Tag Archives: Shore Excursions

Cruise to the Mediterranean on Holland America Line's new flagship ms Koningsdam this April.
Cruise to the Mediterranean on Holland America Line's new flagship ms Koningsdam this April.

When Koningsdam sets sail in April, guests onboard will be part of one of the most important moments in recent Holland America Line history. The flagship of the Holland America Line fleet will carry forward all of the line’s tradition, nautical heritage and signature service and style, all while ushering in a new era of Pinnacle-class cruising. Koningsdam represents a new class of ship for Holland America Line and it will be the line’s most innovative vessel yet.

The new flagship will spend the month of April sailing in the Mediterranean before it makes its way toward Amsterdam to be christened. Guests who sail on one of the ship’s first itineraries will enjoy an incredible experience that blends the new (new ship, new class and new era) with the old as the ship makes its maiden calls at the Mediterranean’s most intriguing and historically important ports.

Koningsdam’s seven-day Premiere Voyage departs roundtrip Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, on April 8, and will feature calls at Dubrovnik, Crotia; Corfu and Katakolon, Greece; Sarande, Albania; and Naples, Italy.

Step back in time when visiting Olympia and Pompeii.

Step back in time when visiting Olympia and Pompeii.

At Katakolon, guests can journey 2,000 years back in time on a visit to Olympia, where the first Olympic Games were held and the impressive pillars of the Temple of Zeus still stand today. At Naples, guests can visit Pompeii, perfectly preserved since Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79.

On April 15, Koningsdam will depart on a exciting 24-day Treasures of the Mediterranean Collectors’ Voyage cruise, also roundtrip Civitavecchia, and highlighted by an overnight call at Barcelona.

Barcelona, Spain, has something for everyone to enjoy. With an overnight call guests can wander the city that — if you believe the legends — was founded by Hercules well before Rome. Barcelona is a global capital of commerce, fashion and culture, and you can experience all of it with a walk down world-famous Las Ramblas — a tree-shaded street at the heart of the city. For Gaudi lovers, visits to La Sagrada Familia, the Park Guell and Casa Mila are a must.

Explore Barcelona by night during an overnight call.

Explore Barcelona by night during an overnight call.

To truly immerse yourself in Barcelona’s lively nighttime atmosphere, enjoy a mixed seafood paella dinner at an Andalusian restaurant and an exciting performance of Flamenco. Among the gypsies of Andalusia, the popular dance was once used as an expression of poverty, oppression and grief, but today Flamenco has become a means of expressing happiness. Flamenco features three elements: the song (el cante), the dance (el baile) and the guitar (el toque), and you’ll love how they all come together.

Throughout the cruise Koningsdam also will call at Katakolon, Piraeus (Athens), Rhodes and Iraklion (Crete); Kusadasi (Ephesus), and Istanbul, Turkey; Naples; Palermo, Sicily; Cagliari, Sardinia; Gibraltar; and Cadiz, Malaga, and Cartagena, Spain.

For guests who want to cruise in April, different combinations of the seven-day premiere voyage and 24-day Collectors’ Voyage are available, all roundtrip Civitavecchia, including:

19-day Premiere Voyage & Mediterranean Treasures Collectors’ Voyage that combines Koningsdam’s first cruise and the first portion of the Treasures of the Mediterranean cruise.

12-day Greek & Turkish Treasures cruise featuring the first portion of the 24-day itinerary.

12-day Mediterranean Mosaic cruise departing April 27, including the second portion of the 24-day itinerary.

After a summer spent primarily in the Baltic, Koningsdam will return to the Mediterranean in September, first cruising a 12-day Greek and Turkish Treasures itinerary departing Sept. 30, from Civitavecchia.

With visits to impressive eastern Mediterranean ports in Greece and Turkey, guests will enjoy days full of surprises and discoveries. Calls along the way include Athens, Greece, home to the Parthenon, Acropolis and numerous other ancient Greek sites, as well as and Ephesus, via Kusadasi, Turkey, featuring one of the largest collections of ruins in the eastern Mediterranean. Additional calls make for a perfect 12 days: including Katakolon, Rhodes, Iraklion, Istanbul and Naples.

It's not all about delicious wines and tapas in Spain, cities like Cadiz feature incredible architecture.

It’s not all about delicious wines and tapas in Spain. Cities like Cadiz feature incredible architecture.

On Oct. 12, Koningsdam will depart Civitavecchia on a 12-day Mediterranean Mosaic itinerary, featuring calls in the western Mediterranean. Guests will visit Naples, Palermo, Cagliari and Gibraltar, before enjoying Spain with five calls along the coast of the country: Cadiz, Malaga, Cartagena, Valencia and Barcelona.

A 24-day Mediterranean Treasures cruise is available for guests who don’t want to choose between the east and the west, combining both of these itineraries.

Countdown to Koningsdam Video Series
You can get a preview of the ship with our “Countdown to Koningsdam” short video series that, in addition to construction updates, gives guests a sneak peek at the flagship’s interior spaces and entertainment offerings. In the second video of the series Linda Springmann, Holland America Line vice president deployment & itinerary planning, details Koningsdam’s inaugural itineraries.

For an even further look into the new flagship, enjoy the third video in the series, which was just released. Holland America Line Entertainment Director Bill Prince details Koningsdam’s World Stage.

With the View & Verandah promotion going on now, there’s no better time to book your Mediterranean cruise on Koningsdam. We’re offering stateroom upgrades, up to 10 percent off shore excursions and up to 25 percent off Collectors’ Voyages on 2016-2017 sailings when booked by Feb. 29, 2016!

Will you be cruising on Koningsdam when the ship debuts in April? Which ports are you looking forward to most while visiting on the new flagship?

The Great Wall of China is a site not to be missed on voyages that feature the opportunity to visit.
The Great Wall of China is a site not to be missed on voyages that feature the opportunity to visit.

A cruise to the Far East is an incredible awakening of the senses. Spices linger in the air, markets bustle with an eclectic array of sounds, and the eyes dance looking at the abundance of golden Buddhas and colorful temples. Holland America Line knows that the Orient is on the bucket list of many travelers, and increased sailings in 2016 will allow even more guests to experience this magical and mysterious part of the world while exploring in pampering comfort and style.

Both Rotterdam and Volendam will spend significant time in Asia this year, with Rotterdam currently sailing an epic 89-Day Passage to the Far East voyage roundtrip from Southampton, England, and Volendam sailing a series of fall cruises. So if you’re looking for a memorable adventure that will introduce you to one of the most culturally rich and fascinating parts of the world, join us in the Far East this year.

Rotterdam’s 89-Day Passage to the Far East Voyage

Although Rotterdam’s 89-Day Passage to the Far East voyage is departing today, there’s still plenty of time to book a segment on this amazing adventure. Sailing roundtrip from Southampton, the journey will take guests to 34 ports in 18 countries. Highlighting the cruise are two transits of the Suez Canal, several late-night departures and an astounding eight overnight calls at some of Asia’s most iconic cities, allowing for more time ashore to take overland and visit the region’s extensive collection of historical and notable landmarks.

In addition to port favorites like Malaga, Spain; Piraeus (Athens), Greece; Dubai, U.A.E.; Cochin, India; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; guests also will visit lesser-known jewels like Mangalore, India; Hambantota, Sri Lanka; Komodo Island, Indonesia, home of the infamous Komodo Dragon; and Ajaccio, Corsica, France.

The Bagan Temples are best seen via a majestic hot air balloon ride.

The Bagan Temples are best seen via a majestic hot air balloon ride.

Overnight calls include Thilawa (Rangoon), Myanmar, offering enough time for a visit to the Bagan Temples; Bali, Indonesia; Surabaya, Indonesia; Colombo, Sri Lanka, with its amazing Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage; Mumbai (Bobay), India; and Aquaba, Jordan, where a visit to Petra is an unforgettable experience.

Guests on the full voyage will have the pleasure of two overnight calls at Singapore. The famous Raffles Hotel with its Singapore Sling and the Night Safari are just two adventures guests can experience with the extended time in port.

Singapore from the top of the ferris wheel and the gorgeous gardens.

Singapore from the top of the ferris wheel and the gorgeous gardens.

It’s not too late to join the adventure! Travelers looking to join a segment of the cruise can embark Jan. 31 at Dubai for a 17-day voyage to the first overnight call at Singapore; Feb. 17 at Singapore for a 49-Day cruise back to Southampton; Feb. 17 for a shorter 16-day segment roundtrip Singapore; March 4 at Singapore for a 33-day segment back to Southampton; or March 4 at Singapore for a 34-day cruise back to Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Volendam Spends the Fall Season in Asia
Travelers looking for further Far East explorations can embark Volendam on one (or more!) of the ship’s cruises next fall. Starting in October 2016, guests can take shorter cruises or combine two back-to-back 12- or 14-day sailings to form a longer Collectors’ Voyage for a more in-depth exploration.

Volemdam’s shorter cruises include:

12-Day Indonesian Discovery roundtrip from Singapore to Jakarta, Semarang, Surabaya, Komodo Island, Lembar, Bali and Probolinggo, all in Indonesia. A highlight of this cruise is the call at Semarang and the opportunity to visit Borobudur, world’s largest Buddhist temple.

The impressive Komodo dragons await on Komodo Island.

The impressive Komodo dragons await on Komodo Island.

14-Day Far East Discovery between Hong Kong and Singapore, with calls at Koh Samui and Laem Chabang (overnight), Thailand; Sihanoukville, Cambodia; and Phu My, Nha Trang, Da Nang and Halong Bay, Vietnam.

14-day China and Japan voyage from Yokohama (Tokyo), Japan, to Hong Kong, China, with calls at Kagoshima and Nagasaki, Japan; Jeju City, South Korea; and overnight calls at Xingang (Beijing) and Shanghai, China.

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The above voyages can be combined to for several longer Collectors’ Voyages, including a 28-Day China & Japan and Far East Discovery Collectors’ Voyage; 28-Day Far East and Indonesian Discovery Collectors’ Voyage; and a 26-Day Far East & Indonesian Discovery Collectors’ Voyage.

On a Collectors' Voyage that calls at Semarang, be sure to visit Borobudur.

On a Collectors’ Voyage that calls at Semarang, be sure to visit Borobudur.

Make 2016 the year that you set sail across the world and explore the wonders of the Far East on Rotterdam or Volendam. With the View & Verandah promotion going on now, there’s no better time to book. We’re offering stateroom upgrades, up to 10 percent off shore excursions and up to 25 percent off Collectors’ Voyages on 2016-2017 sailings when booked by Feb. 29, 2016!

All photos in this blog post were taken by Jeff Farschman, President’s Club member and “World Adventure” blogger.

Hannah from Getting Stamped thought her Caribbean cruise was a reason to jump for joy!
Hannah from Getting Stamped thought her Caribbean cruise was a reason to jump for joy!

Five of the world’s leading travel social influencers recently cruised the Caribbean on Eurodam and had a fantastic time. Their itinerary called at Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and Half Moon Cay, our private oasis in the Bahamas.

We invited Dave’s Travel Corner, Getting Stamped, Healthy Voyager, Never Stop Traveling and True Nomads to see why cruising the Caribbean with Holland America Line is an incredible way to spend the week exploring this tropical and sun-kissed part of the world.

Join them on their journey and see why the next Holland America Line cruise you book should be to meet up with the golden sands, turquoise waters and swaying palms of the Caribbean.

DAVE’S TRAVEL CORNER

Dave from Dave’s Travel Corner loved Half Moon Cay and he can’t wait to return.

There is a private island where the wind blows in the beach pines and the gentle surf laps on the silky white sand. A place that is much loved for moments that can be counted as too short and then left to it’s natural state just as quickly. This place is Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, a private island.

During his time ashore, he participated in the Horseback Riding by Land and Sea Journeys Ashore shore excursion. Take a look:

Read his entire blog post about Half Moon Cay by clicking HERE.

GETTING STAMPED

Hannah and Adam of Getting Stamped counted down the Top Eight Reasons To Take A Caribbean Cruise on their blog after experiencing Eurodam.

The list includes no shoveling, no winter jackets, no cleaning, no dishes, no cooking, no alarm clock, no responsibilities and no traffic jams!

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THE HEALTHY VOYAGER

Carolyn of The Healthy Voyager is a holistic nutritionist, vegan chef, cookbook author, speaker, show host, consultant and healthy travel expert who took her very first cruise on Eurodam. And now we think it’s safe to say she’s hooked!

From the moment I stepped onto the ship, I was in heaven. A veritable floating city, the Eurodam has 5 restaurants, several bars, a coffee shop, night club, casino, movie theatre, stores, 2 pools, state of the art gym, spa, salon, basketball court and a 2 story live show auditorium. You want for nothing on the ship and 7 days isn’t enough to experience it all!

No matter your age or interests, the Eurodam had something for you. For families, you can request the family staterooms that sleep 4-6 and send the kids off to “camp”! So many fun activities on board for little ones while the adults have plenty to do as well. From Dancing with the Stars contests and cooking classes for those hands-on experiences to relaxation for those who need a break, I can tell you, you can find it aboard a Holland America Line ship!

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Read her most recent article about her Caribbean cruise HERE.

NEVER STOP TRAVELING

Marcia from Never Stop Traveling is a travel expert, and this trip on Holland America Line wasn’t her first cruise. In fact, cruising on Eurodam is a familiar experience for Marcia.

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Marcia wrote on Never Stop Traveling:

You know the feeling when you are about to meet an old friend after a long period of time, with excitement and expectations on high alert? That’s a bit how I felt when I recently boarded Holland America Line’s Eurodam on its first Caribbean sailing of the season. It had arrived early that morning after crossing the pond from Europe.

Today’s Eurodam is not your father’s Holland America ship. The staff continues to be made up primarily of men and women from the Philippines and Indonesia. They provide a traditionally high level of service that HAL has honed into a fine art. And the 21st century is alive and well on this venerable line and continues to pleasantly surprise returning guests.

TRUE NOMADS

True Nomads specializes in diving around the world, and the Caribbean is known to have some of the best diving spots. From Grand Turk’s famous wall to the crystalline waters of Half Moon Cay, this itinerary is a diver’s dream. True Nomads’ Monira and Christopher also took time to explore the ports from above the water as well!

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JOIN US IN THE CARIBBEAN WITH VIEW & VERANDAH

Now is the ideal time to book a Caribbean cruise. Not only is our View & Verandah promotion in full swing, Eurodam — one of the premier ships in the region — just emerged from dry dock with some fantastic new upgrades and amenities. Check out the ship’s refurbished suites, which are available to book under View & Verandah’s free upgrade. Additionally, the Vista-class Oosterdam will soon feature similar suite upgrades and both ships will sail Europe this summer season with numerous sailings also featured during the View & Verandah event.

A refreshed Neptune Suite.

A refreshed Neptune Suite.

The fabulous Neptune Suite bathroom.

The fabulous Neptune Suite bathroom.

A Signature Suite is the ideal "home" to cruise the world.

A Signature Suite is the ideal “home” to cruise the world.

The offer includes stateroom upgrades, up to 10 percent off shore excursions and up to 25 percent off Collectors’ Voyages on 2016-2017 sailings when booked by Feb. 29, 2016!

Are you ready to cruise the Caribbean this year? Which ship will you choose?

The world is full of brilliant natural occurrences, and many can be seen on a cruise.
The world is full of brilliant natural occurrences, and many can be seen on a cruise.

Holland America Line cruises make their way around the world 365 days a year visiting all seven continents. Whether guests are onboard or on land, they have the opportunity to view some of the most spectacular natural phenomena on Earth.

Interacting with local people is eye opening, visiting historical sights is fascinating and tasting traditional cuisine is exciting. But there’s nothing quite like a vibrant, orange sunset or an outstretched rainbow above a waterfall to remind us what a beautiful world we live in. So we’ve gathered up a list of 10 awe-inspiring natural occurrences that can be experienced both on board and off a Holland America Line ship. These experiences definitely deserve a spot on your bucket list!

1. The Perfect View Of A Rare Solar Eclipse on Volendam in 2016

A few times a year, the sun and moon align ever-so-perfectly to create a solar eclipse. At least twice a year the moon will line up between Earth and the sun, blocking the sunlight from directly shining on Earth. A total solar eclipse looks like a dark circle in the sky, which is actually the moon, surrounded by a ring of beaming white light coming from the sun. However, most times only a partial solar eclipse is seen.

In 2016, Volendam will sail a 16-day Indonesian Explorer and Solar Eclipse cruise, perfectly positioned in the Makassar Strait to witness the spectacular beauty of the March 9 total solar eclipse in the western Pacific. Guests will experience the eclipse as former “Sky & Telescope” editors, an astronomer and a geologist offer talks and tips on how to view and photograph the eclipse. Weather permitting, the ship will be positioned right on the eclipse centerline. It’s not too late to book this exciting roundtrip Singapore voyage and be on-hand for this incredible opportunity.

Below are some snapshots from the rare total solar eclipse seen on Oosterdam in 2012 while sailing the Coral Sea in northern Australia.

Photos by Joe Reina and Csaba Desvari, taken on Oosterdam in 2012.

Photos by Joe Reina and Csaba Desvari, taken on Oosterdam in 2012.

Holland America ships are the perfect viewing platform for an eclipse. With no tall buildings or mountains to hinder a view of the sky, the endless ocean sets an ideal stage with our guests in the front row!

2. See Sultry Sunsets at Sea

Whether you’re lounging on the deck of your favorite ship, sitting on a white Caribbean shore or gazing out over an Alaskan mountain range, the sunsets caught on our cruises always bid the perfect farewell to an adventurous day. Gazing at the sunset is a favorite pastime of our guests. The bright orange-and-blue sky stages a perfect backdrop to the sun as it slowly falls beneath the dark horizon. Our ships offer the best views as this fantastic show unfolds each evening over the infinite ocean.

[This was taken on] a two week cruise on the Statendam. We had the most wonderful vacation! Thank you, staff … you know how to make us feel welcome. On the second night (cruising Vancouver Island) we had the most glorious sunset. It was after I took the picture, that I saw the Dragon in the Sky … stunning. Thank you again, for a marvelous trip! — Guest Neva Franks

Gorgeous sunsets at sea taken by guests Neva Franks, top, and Mitzi Ellis.

Gorgeous sunsets at sea taken by guests Neva Franks, top, and Mitzi Ellis.

3. Start Your Day With A Sunrise

Early risers are in for a special treat! Similar to the sunset in appearance, there’s something a little different about the sunrise.

Catch the sunrise on the promenade deck of your Holland America ship to kickstart the perfect day.

Catch the sunrise on the promenade deck of your Holland America ship to kickstart the perfect day.

Orange and red slowly blends into a dark blue sky like watercolors on a canvas. The air is calm and quiet in the middle of the ocean without a building in sight. Guests sit peacefully on deck, watching the light enter the sky to welcome a fresh, new day. It’s truly a beautiful natural occurrence that’s not to be missed.

4. Keep Your Eyes Peeled For The Green Flash

Speaking of sunrises and sunsets, have you heard about the green flash? Most commonly seen as the sun sets over the ocean, cruisers who carefully watch the last sliver fall beneath the horizon can sometimes catch a glimpse of a green flash.

Photo credit to www.skyandtelescope.com

Photo credit to Chris Desselles of www.skyandtelescope.com.

This spectacular optical phenomenon can only happen when the conditions are just right, which typically means clear air and stable seas. The flash is caused from rays of light scattering and separating into different colors. So if you find yourself admiring the sunset on deck, keep your eyes peeled for the flash as it only lasts a second or two!

5. Find Simple Pleasure In A Colorful Rainbow

Rainbows are among life’s most eye-catching natural effects. When sunlight and moisture in the air combine in just the right way, the light from the sun separates into many different colors creating a beautiful arch.

The mist at Iguazu Falls forms many colorful rainbows to be admired.

The mist at Iguazu Falls forms many colorful rainbows to be admired.

One place in particular is especially good for viewing rainbows … Iguazu Falls! From the port in Buenos Aires, Argentina, guests have the opportunity to board a flight to the northern tip of the country. This massive cascading chain of 250 waterfalls is considered a Wonder of the World for a good reason. Twice the height of Niagara Falls, the Iguazu Falls crash 260 feet down in a thunderous roar. If the waterfalls aren’t enough to take your breath away, the beautiful rainbows laced in the hovering mist surely will!

6. Glaciers Are The Coolest!

Massive, all-surrounding and vibrantly blue, glaciers never cease to leave our guests wide-eyed. In places like Alaska and Antarctica where it snows year-round, snow accumulates as it falls into compressed layers, and then eventually crystallizes and transforms into ice causing a glacier’s formation.

A cruise to Alaska's Glacier Bay offers stunning glacier views.

A cruise to Alaska’s Glacier Bay offers stunning glacier views.

For the best glacier viewing, we recommend a cruise to Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska during the summer months. This breathtaking journey sails through a passage of ice-blue glaciers that surround your ship on all sides. Watch as chunks of ice split off and thunder into the seas, shooting water hundreds of feet into the air. And it shouldn’t take long to see it happen – Glacier Bay has more actively calving tidewater glaciers than anyplace else in the world!

7. Stromboli Glows Red-Hot

In almost constant eruption for the past 2,000 years, Stromboli lies off the coast of northern Sicily in all its natural glory. Nicknamed the Lighthouse of the Mediterranean, Stromboli is an active volcano with many minor eruptions year round, and our cruises in the region often pass by for scenic cruising.

Stromboli rises up from the water off Italy's coast. Photo credit to 3-Star Mariners Lorne and Ruth Wilson.

Stromboli rises up from the water off Italy’s coast. Photo credit to 3-Star Mariners Lorne and Ruth Wilson.

These eruptions are best seen from the island’s surrounding seas. While still breathtaking in daylight, those who catch a glimpse at night see an even more brilliant show. Its red-hot lava is most clearly seen gracefully bubbling out the volcano’s upper rim against a black night sky.

8. Leaves Change Their Vibrant Color

One of nature’s most beloved magic tricks happens each year when summer comes to a close and cooler temperatures creep into the air. We say “goodbye” to hues of green and “hello” to orange, red and yellow.

Canada offers an ideal  climate to view the leaves change color during fall months.

Canada offers an ideal climate to view the leaves change color during fall months.

The fall color change is due to a breakdown in leaves’ chlorophyll when the weather gets cold. Chlorophyll is the natural chemical that gives leaves their green color, so as it breaks down, a leaf’s natural yellows, oranges and reds can be seen.

Guests who cruise to Canada and New England with us experience the best of this annual show of color. Engulf yourself in vivid fall hues at Acadia National Park or explore the lush, rolling hills of Saguenay. With dozens of options on Veendam, Zuiderdam and Rotterdam in 2016, the gorgeous colors await.

9. Hear Thunder Hole’s Booming Roar

Also in Canada lies the appropriately named Thunder Hole. Located in Acadia National Park, Thunder Hole is where the waves come crashing against Canada’s rocky coast as the tides rise.

Thunder Hole

Located at Canada’s Acadia National Park, Thunder Hole is a place where the waves crash up against the rocky shore in a thunderous roar.

As the water comes in, the waves lose their smooth, gentle roll and become frothy white monsters, majestically crashing into the rock in a thunderous roar. It’s a loud, regal and beautiful site for all who get the chance to see it!

Many of our cruises to Canada and New England stop at Bar Harbor where guests have an opportunity to visit Acadia National Park and experience the breathtaking scene that is Thunder Hole.

10. The Northern Lights Wash The Sky In Color

A dazzling dance of color in the sky can be witnessed at the North Pole, and it’s known as the Northern Lights. Lighted shades of green, pink and blue mix and meld to create this spectacular show, and the best place to view it is from the deck of a Holland America Line ship.

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This awe-inspiring natural occurrence happens when charged particles from the sun penetrate the earth’s magnetic shield causing electrons in the atoms to move to a higher state of energy. When the electrons drop back down to a lower state of energy, they release what’s called a photon, which are the lights we witness in the sky.

If you dream of experiencing the Northern Lights, we offer many itineraries that head into the Arctic Circle of northern Europe like the 21-Day Viking Sagas & North Cape cruise.

The world is a vast and beautiful place with so much adventure in store. There’s nothing quite like experiencing these natural phenomena to awe, inspire and remind us what a beautiful planet it is that we call our home.

If you’re ready to come on board and seek out the green flash or Northern Lights, check out our 2016 cruises. With our new View & Verandah promotion, now is the perfect time to book. We’re offering stateroom upgrades, up to 10 percent off shore excursions and up to 25 percent off Collectors’ Voyages on 2016-2017 sailings when booked by Feb. 29, 2016!

Have you seen any of the natural occurrences we mentioned? Tell us which ones in the comments below!

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Holland America Line has launched a “View and Verandah” sale to entice savvy travelers to plan ahead and book a 2016 or 2017 cruise. The special offers include free stateroom upgrades, up to 10 percent off select shore excursions and savings on Collectors’ Voyages if booked by Feb. 29, 2016.

“Cruisers tend to be planners, and with our View and Verandah promotion we’re adding extra incentives to encourage more travelers to book early,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “Cruising is already an exceptional value, and with stateroom upgrades and savings on tours and Collectors’ Voyages we’re making a dream vacation all the more affordable.”

As part of the promotion, depending on departure and ship, guests who book an inside stateroom will be upgraded to an outside stateroom and those booking an ocean-view stateroom will get upgraded to a verandah, representing a value of up to $300 per stateroom.

View & Verandah features fantastic upgrade offers. An ocean view awaits!

View & Verandah features fantastic upgrade offers. An ocean view awaits!

Select Collectors’ Voyages also are eligible for up to 25 percent off — a savings of up to $3,198 per stateroom — under the View and Verandah promotion. Collectors’ Voyages combine back-to-back cruises to form a non-repeating longer itinerary that provides a more in-depth exploration of a region. For example, a cruiser would receive an upgrade to a verandah category and save $1,299 by booking an ocean-view stateroom on next year’s 29-day Pacific Treasure and New Zealand Discovery Collectors’ Voyage sailing roundtrip Sydney, Australia. The cruise departs Nov. 22, 2016, aboard ms Noordam.

A shore excursion to the Shire and the gorgeous palms of Fiji await on Noordam's Collectors' Voyage.

A shore excursion to the Shire and the gorgeous palms of Fiji await on Noordam’s Collectors’ Voyage.

In Europe, the ms Eurodam’s 24-day Magic of the Mediterranean Collectors’ Voyage departing May 30, 2016, begins at $2,499 per person for a verandah stateroom (upgraded from ocean-view), a savings of $850.

Santorini's unique skyline is a highlight of the Med Collectors' Voyage.

Santorini’s unique skyline is a highlight of the Med Collectors’ Voyage.

Guests who reserve select shore excursions prior to cruising can take advantage of up to 10 percent savings if booked by March 15, 2016. This date is extended beyond the View and Verandah offer deadline. More than 1,500 tours on all cruise itineraries will receive the savings.

Cruise destinations featured in the View & Verandah sale include Alaska cruises and Land+Sea Journeys, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Bermuda, Canada/New England, the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, Europe, Hawaii/Tahiti, Mexico and South America.

Tell us in the comment below which cruise you’re going to book with the View & Verandah promotion!

Spend a week cruising the Caribbean with the family during spring break.
Spend a week cruising the Caribbean with the family during spring break.

Ahhhh, the Caribbean … a perfectly picturesque destination to “get away from it all.” It’s beautiful weather and steel drums call out to cruisers everywhere, beckoning them to dip their toes into paradise on a Holland America Line cruise.

Spring temperatures are the ideal balance of the cooler winter weather that’s passed and warm summer sun that’s coming. And the best part about spring? Students get a break from school! Families can come together on sandy shores to reunite, unwind and enjoy some much-deserved playtime. Why is Holland America Line unique in the Caribbean for families? We offer a sophisticated experience that parents and grandparents appreciate, while Club HAL keeps the kids entertained with exciting activities. If you want to make sure you have as much fun on vacation as the kids, Holland America Line is the perfect cruise line.

Luckily, we have a variety of itineraries sailing to all of the best spots in the Caribbean, including our award-winning private island, Half Moon Cay. And starting Dec. 7 through Feb. 29, 2016, book your perfect week in paradise for spring break with the new View & Verandah promotion! The special offers include stateroom upgrades, shore excursion discounts and savings on select Collectors’ Voyages – so stay tuned for the View & Verandah launch next week!

Find Excitement in Western Waters

The Caribbean islands to the west are filled with sun, sand and adventure. While these islands lie farther apart than the islands to the east, cruises to the west typically offer more sea days, which means more time to explore the ship and rejuvenate for the exciting activities that lie ashore.

The Western Caribbean islands are packed with adventurous shore excursions for active cruisers.

The western Caribbean islands are packed with adventurous shore excursions for active cruisers.

Western islands are packed with shore excursions for guests looking to get active! A stop at Ocho Rios offers a chance to climb up its world-famous roaring waterfalls. Key West calls to cruisers ready to let loose on Duval Street or tantalize their taste buds on a food tour. Wildlife lovers have a blast at Grand Cayman swimming with sea turtles, dolphins and stingrays. A stop at Cozumel offers unique adventures like exploring Mayan ruins, tubing down a rushing river through glistening limestone caves, riding in a submarine through vibrant coral reefs or soaring in the skies via zip-line.

For those who enjoy an early spring break, the 7-Day Western Caribbean cruise on Eurodam departs from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Feb. 14, 2016 and visits Half Moon Cay; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; and Key West. Also on Eurodam, guests can depart March 13, 2016, for seven days with this itinerary stopping at Half Moon Cay, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Key West.

Nieuw Amsterdam offers a seven-day itinerary to the western Caribbean departing from Fort Lauderdale on March 6 and March 20, stopping at Half Moon Cay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Key West.

If the above itineraries don’t work for your spring break schedule, there are a number of other cruises available heading to the western Caribbean that showcase the region’s sun, fun and exciting adventures!

Rejuvenate and Relax at the Eastern Islands

Basque on a beach in the eastern Caribbean and feel like you’ve gone to paradise! There’s nothing like kicking back on a powdery beach with your eyes closed, listening to the waves gently wash up against the shore to help cruisers unwind and relax.

The islands of the eastern Caribbean are refined, relaxing and serene.

The islands of the eastern Caribbean are relaxing and serene.

Elegant and refined, eastern islands like Grand Turk and St. Maarten offer plenty of shopping opportunities, too! Since this region has many islands in close proximity to each other, cruise itineraries in the east stop at a different port of call almost every day.

The Seven-Day Eastern Caribbean cruise on ms Eurodam departs from Fort Lauderdale Feb. 7 and March 20, 2016, calling at Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Maarten and Half Moon Cay.

Similar seven-day itineraries to the eastern Caribbean are offered on different ships and springtime dates, including Nieuw Amsterdam and Westerdam, so no matter when your spring break falls, a Holland America Line cruise to the eastern Caribbean is waiting for you!

Don’t Miss A Call At Half Moon Cay!

Half Moon Cay is our award-winning, two-mile slice of private paradise. Picturesque, white beaches rest against an ocean so clear, guests can see straight to the bottom! Cruisers enjoy virtually limitless entertainment like horseback riding, sailing, snorkeling, jet skiing, biking, deep-sea fishing, kayaking, hiking, beachside massages or lounging in a private air-conditioned cabana.

HMC Spring

Half Moon Cay offers beautiful scenery and exciting shore excursions to please every crowd.

Smack dab in the middle of the eastern and western Caribbean regions, Half Moon Cay is conveniently located so that almost every Caribbean cruise we offer calls there.

If You Can’t Pick Just One…

For those lucky enough to spare more than just one week of spring break, combine two cruises with a 14-day Eastern/Western Caribbean Collectors’ Voyage! These itineraries are the perfect blend of relaxation and excitement, all under sunny skies and swaying palms.

A number of itineraries are available in February and March on Eurodam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Oosterdam, Zuiderdam and Maasdam. The ships will depart from Fort Lauderdale and cruise to destinations all over the Caribbean. Can you feel the soft sand between your toes already? We can!

Move and Groove at Eurodam’s Music Walk

Guests who book a spring cruise on Eurodam are in for a special treat! Just in time for spring break, Eurodam’s Music Walk opens for operation featuring three live-music venues: Lincoln Center Stage, Billboard Onboard and B.B. King’s Blues Club.

Music Walk will appear on Eurodam for spring Caribbean cruises featuring Lincoln Center Stage, Billboard Onboard and B.B. King's Blues Club.

Music Walk will debut on Eurodam for spring Caribbean cruises featuring Lincoln Center Stage, Billboard Onboard and B.B. King’s Blues Club.

While days are filled with fun in the sun, onboard entertainment takes center stage at night. Music Walk will feature something for everyone in the family. Billboard Onboard’s dueling pianos playing chart-topping hits will grab the attention of the young and young-at-heart! Lincoln Center Stage’s breathtaking classical elegance will awe and inspire even the most critical music aficionados, and B.B. King’s Blues Club soothes the seas with funky rhythm and blues.

With such diversity and world-class musicians, this wonderful showcase of sound will be perfect for families on spring break to sing and dance the night away.

Can’t Wait for Koningsdam?

We can’t wait either! Our timeless new Pinnacle Class ship — Koningsdam — will make its debut in April, but won’t arrive in the Caribbean until Fall 2016. Be one of the first to experience this amazing new ship under sunny skies on one of many offered itineraries to the Caribbean.

The first ship in our Pinnacle class, Koningsdam, will make it's Caribbean debut in Fall 2016.

The first ship in our Pinnacle class, Koningsdam, will make its Caribbean debut in Fall 2016.

Are you booking your spring break cruise to the Caribbean? Tell us about it in the comments below!

December 2015 UPDATE: Take Advantage of View & Verandah
We want to make your dream cruise even dreamier with our new View & Verandah promotion. We’re offering stateroom upgrades, up to 10 percent off shore excursions and up to 25 percent off Collectors’ Voyages on 2016-2017 sailings when booked by Feb. 29, 2016. Check out the offer to see if your dream cruise is included and book now!

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.

DENVER VALLEY HIKE & WHITE PASS RAIL
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!

DIAMOND HEAD CRATER HIKE
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!!!!

GUIDED WALK TO MOUNT CARGILL & THE ORGAN PIPES
Port Chalmers, Dunedin, New Zealand

prcollage

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.

PULPIT ROCK HIKE
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.

HIKE TO UISAGE BAN FALLS
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.

TREKKING IN 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.

EL YUNQUE RAIN FOREST DAY HIKE
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.

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

December 2015 UPDATE: Take Advantage of View & Verandah
We want to make your dream cruise even dreamier with our new View & Verandah promotion. We’re offering stateroom upgrades, up to 10 percent off shore excursions and up to 25 percent off Collectors’ Voyages on 2016-2017 sailings when booked by Feb. 29, 2016. Check out the offer to see if you dream cruise is included and book now!

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

Alaska_tours

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?

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