Tag Archives: Shore Excursions

The Schoelcher Library is a beautiful historical site on the Martinique tour.
The Schoelcher Library is a beautiful historical site on the Martinique tour.

Holland America Line carries thousands of cruisers to the Caribbean each year who are drawn to the region because of its tropical climate and relaxing lifestyle, but there’s more to the islands than meet the eye.

When planning a cruise to the Caribbean, you’ll likely think of the typical snorkeling, sailing and other beach-related excursions that the area is famous for. But with a past packed with imperialism, immigration waves and ancient civilizations, historical tours in the Caribbean make stories fly off the pages of your grade-school textbooks.

Rich with cathedrals, plantations and traditional colonial architecture, the Caribbean has preserved so much of its history for visitors to enjoy today. Almost every destination offers a historical tour, so no matter where your ship may visit, be sure to check out the historical excursions available. These tours offer a chance to get off the beaten path, take a break from the beach and plunge into all of the history the islands have to offer!

Here are six of the fascinating historically themed tours offered by Holland America Line:

1. HISTORY & LEGENDS IN KEY WEST

Visit Ernest Hemingway's famous home in Key West.

Visit Ernest Hemingway’s famous home in Key West.

If you get the chance to stop at Key West, Florida, the “History and Legends” tour is a self-guided experience offering over 100 points of interest to pick and choose from, spending as much or as little time as you want at each destination. Enter the home of the famous author Ernest Hemingway, learn about Key West’s unique role in the Civil War, explore the vacation home of former President Truman and play with the Hemingway polydactyl cats. The visible influence from Spanish explorers and railroad development in the 1800s are nestled within this uniquely historical and tropical location.

2. HISTORICAL ISLAND EXTRAVAGANZA ON ST. LUCIA

Visit the Balenbouche Estate on the historical tour in St. Lucia.

Visit the Balenbouche Estate on the historical tour in St. Lucia.

The “Historical Island Extravaganza” tour at Castries, Saint Lucia, offers a full day of diverse locations and experiences showcasing the best of the island’s history and culture. You’ll travel to a valley packed with banana plantations and small villages, then see breathtaking views as you drive down the Atlantic Coast to the Balenbouche Estate. One of few surviving original plantation houses in St. Lucia, its colonial architecture dates back to the early 1800s. See the island’s history come to life as you explore rooms furnished with antiques, rock basins and petroglyphs on the banks of the nearby Balenbouche River, and a collection of ancient artifacts including stone axes, tools and crafted clay pottery. Cool down with some refreshments before heading to the gardens, and then find the perfect souvenir at the Choiseul Craft Market selling indigenous arts and crafts. Next on the itinerary is the Caribbean’s only drive-in volcano, Sulfur Springs. After a day filled with traveling and exploring the beautiful island, relax with a delicious lunch at the Morne Coubaril working plantation, then enjoy a ride to the jetty with magnificent views of the Pitons.

3. HISTORICAL TRUJILLO AT BANANA COAST
Trujillo

Take the “Historical Trujillo” tour at Banana Coast in Honduras and learn about Christopher Columbus’ landing there in 1502. Explore the Santa Barbara Fortress then revel in the 19th-century Spanish and French colonial architecture that make up the city.

4. LES SAINTES IN GUADELOUPE

Fort Napolean is a highlight of the Les Saintes tour in Guadeloupe.

Fort Napolean is a highlight of the Les Saintes tour in Guadeloupe.

The Les Saintes tour at Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe starts with a 30-minute boat ride to Terre de Haut where you’ll find Fort Napolean. Originally built for defense against British invasion, the fort was later used as a penitentiary. Enjoy panoramic views and vibrant flower gardens before retreating to enjoy a traditional Creole lunch and some beach time.

5. ST. CROIX’S WEST END HIGHLIGHTS

This tour in St. Croix visits the historical sites on the island.

This tour in St. Croix visits the historical sites on the island.

The West End Highlights tour includes a visit the Whim Plantation Museum at St. Croix in the Virgin Islands to admire the 18th-century ambiance. Hear stories of former residents of the Great House, take a walk through the 16-acre botanic gardens dating back as far as 100 A.D., then finish this tour with a trip to the island’s largest distillery where the famous Cruzan Rum has been produced for the last 300 years.

St. Louis Cathedral has an imposing presence in Martinique.

St. Louis Cathedral in Martinique.

6. MARTINIQUE’S HISTORIC STROLL

A Stroll Through Historic Fort-De-France” in Martinique explores the city’s narrow streets and features the island’s history, architecture and local flora. You’ll stop at Fort St. Louis, the War Memorial and La Savanna. Pass the Schoelcher Library, named after the island’s most famous abolitionist who labored to free Martinique’s slaves. Imagine yourself in the colonial era at Maison Bougenot, a traditional home from that time. Pause and energize with some fresh local juice or mineral water before your last stop touring the St. Louis Cathedral, then you’ll be set loose on the main street for some retail therapy!

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Veendam is calling at Key West and Banana Coast in early February on a Seven-Day Western Caribbean cruise. If it’s the southern islands that captivate your interest, Oosterdam will visit Basseterre, Fort-De-France and Castries in the fall on a 21-Day Southern Caribbean Wayfarer/Seafarer cruise, then Maasdam will visit Basseterre, Fort-De-France and St. Croix in the spring on an 11-Day Southern Caribbean cruise.

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’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!

Which of these historical tours interest you the most? Have you been on any already? Let us know in the comments below!

KODM_new

Guests who have been anticipating booking a Caribbean voyage on Holland America Line’s newest ship, ms Koningsdam, can now do so. Bookings opened for the cruises that feature Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line’s private Bahamian island, as well as a host of other tropical favorites.

The ship, launching in April 2016, will homeport at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and sail a series of Caribbean voyages from November 2016 through March 2017.

The seven-day cruises visit popular ports in the region, while the longer nine-, 10- and 11-day itineraries provide more time for exploring a diverse array of off-the-beaten-path islands.

“Since we began taking reservations for Koningsdam’s summer Europe season, guests have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to book a Caribbean voyage on our beautiful new ship,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “Demand for being among the first to experience our latest innovations on Koningsdam is high, so we encourage anyone interested in a Caribbean cruise to book early. It’s going to be a fantastic inaugural season.”

Starting in November 2016, the ship will offer two different seven-day Caribbean itineraries. The eastern Caribbean route calls at the Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Half Moon Cay. The western Mediterranean route visits Half Moon Cay, Grand Cayman, Mexico and Key West, Fla.

The ship’s longer nine-, 10- and 11-day cruises showcase more ports in the region and include unique and lesser-visited islands such as Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Jamaica, Martinique and St. Lucia, to name a few.

The Caribbean cruises follow Koningsdam’s inaugural season sailing roundtrip from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to Norway, the Baltic, British Isles and Iceland.

Half Moon Cay: Holland America Line’s #1-Rated Caribbean Port

The island's crescent shape is how Half Moon Cay got its name.

The island’s crescent shape is how Half Moon Cay got its name.

Featured on all itineraries, Holland America Line’s private island paradise of Half Moon Cay is consistently rated the number-one Caribbean destination by guests. Perhaps it’s the port’s pristine beaches and crystalline waters in varying shades of blue. Or maybe it’s the variety of activities offered, from swimming with stingrays to horseback riding through the surf. Or the option to simply sit back with a cool drink in hand and soak up the sun.

Cruise Critic’s Erica Silverstein recently wrote an article about Half Moon Cay and had this to say:

“Half Moon Cay — the private island in the Bahamas that Carnival and Holland America share — looks like a movie set of a beach. The sand is pristinely white, with nary a scratchy shell or untoward piece of seaweed. The sea is warm, but not too warm, and turquoise, just like all the postcards you see of Caribbean beaches that you always assumed were fake. The cabanas are painted in bright, happy colors, and the bars have quaint thatched roofs and inviting Adirondack chairs — or are set inside a faux pirate ship. You have to try to have a bad time there.”

To read Erica’s full article on how to enjoy Half Moon Cay, click HERE.

Sun, Sand and Surf … Activities Galore!

Visitors looking to get out and explore Half Moon Cay have more than a dozen shore excursions to choose from that include options in every level of activity intensity. These include horseback riding by land and sea, personal watercraft adventures on the interior lagoon and a stingray adventure, as well as catch-and-release deep-sea fishing trips, eco-tours by glass-bottom boat, parasailing, guided kayak trips and guided bike rides around the island.

HMC_horse

One of the most popular tours is horseback riding by land and sea. Guest Sammiefitz had this to say:

“We have been to Half Moon Cay several times and love the beach day, but this time we rode the horses. Not only did we see parts of the island we have never seen before, but we went to the highest point of Half Moon Cay for a beautiful view of the ocean and our ship. We saw the gardens and animals that the locals who live on the island take care of, and the BEST, I mean BEST part, was taking the horses out into the water, and having them swim with us on their backs. They split us into small groups for this swim, and I would suggest that and someone in your party splits up, like, my husband and did, so they can take photos of you in the water. Second suggestion, it’s a lovely walk back to the beach, instead of taking the truck back. Try it…”

Fun For All Ages

Many guests rate the call so high for its abundance of children’s activities. The Half Moon Lagoon aqua park offers large water toys in the shapes of whales, octopi, sharks and dolphins for kids to climb on and a pirate ship water slide that sprays water from its cannons. A pirate-themed playground is available with two slides and two kid-sized wooden pirate ships.

Half Moon Cay has a variety of fun activities for kids of all ages.

Half Moon Cay has a variety of fun activities for kids of all ages.

Private Beach Cabanas and Villas

Guests looking for a bit of luxury ashore take advantage of the private beach-side cabanas and two-story villas. The cabanas feature a refrigerator, ceiling fan, air conditioner, table and chairs inside, deck chairs and a misting shower on the private terrace, while the luxury villas feature all that plus an exclusive hot tub on the second floor, floating mats and snorkel gear for use throughout the day.

“Loved the beach villa!!!! I have been known to frequent the cabans, but no more. I will choose the beach villas from now on. My family had the best time. If you have more than three people…this is the way to go.” — Guest Racergirl24

The villas, left, and cabanas are popular a feature on Half Moon Cay.

The villas, left, and cabanas are popular a feature on Half Moon Cay.

Why do guests love Half Moon Cay so much? Matt Samms, Holland America Line’s vice president Caribbean relations, summed it up nicely:

“It is what guests have pictured in their mind the Caribbean should look like. The experience ashore matches their high expectations as well. And, we have the best staff in the industry.”

There’s so much to do and see on Half Moon Cay that guests keep coming back time and again.

About Koningsdam
Currently under construction, Koningsdam represents a new Pinnacle Class of ship for Holland America Line. When it sets sail on its Premier Voyage April 8, 2016, the vessel will debut several innovative concepts while still featuring popular amenities guests associate with Holland America Line.

In a first for Holland America Line, the ship will feature purpose-built staterooms for families as well as single staterooms among its 1,331 guest accommodations.

Entertainment is taken to a new level with the energetic Music Walk area featuring all genres of music showcased in venues including Lincoln Center Stage with artists performing chamber music nightly; Billboard Onboard, where live musicians rock the crowd with chart-topping hits; and the popular B.B. King’s Blues Club in the Queen’s Lounge, bringing the best of Memphis music to sea.

Read more about Koningsdam’s exciting features in a previous blog post.

Will you be booking a trip to Half Moon Cay on one of Koningsdam’s Caribbean cruises?

Europe is known for its incredible museums, like the Lourve in Paris.
Europe is known for its incredible museums, like the Lourve in Paris.

Holland America Line’s cruises to Europe feature some of the most interesting and exciting cities in the world. Europe and its many regions are famous for many reasons, particularly the vast amount of art and culture found in nearly every port.

Almost anywhere you call at during a Europe cruise will feature a museum and an opportunity for you to quench your thirst for knowledge about the area. Culture vultures know that museums are much more than art. They teach history, about the great talents of the locals and we get to step back in time and imagine how those that came before us lived. Here are some of Europe’s highest-regarded museums, all reachable during a Holland America Line cruise to the city that holds them.

The Vatican Museums, Vatican City, Italy

The Vatican Museums are seemingly endless with each room bringing more and more impressive pieces.

The Vatican Museums are seemingly endless with each room bringing more and more impressive pieces.

No visit to Rome is complete without a visit to the sovereign state of Vatican City. Within its boundaries you will find the Vatican Museums, displaying an incredible, seemingly endless collection of paintings, tapestries, maps and more assembled by popes throughout the centuries. During the Vatican Museums & St. Peter’s Basilica tour you’ll enjoy a visit to the Sistine Chapel, perhaps the most famous church in the world, with its priceless collection of masterpieces by Botticeli, Signorelli, Perugino and of course Michelangelo’s famous The Last Judgment. Afterwards, you’ll head to St Peter’s Square, which can hold more than 300,000 people during papal appearances. There will still be plenty more to see with a visit to Christianity’s largest church, St. Peter’s Basilica.

Many of our cruises visit Civitavecchia, the port for Rome. If you’re looking for a last-minute getaway, check out Nieuw Amsterdam’s 12-Day Mediterranean Romance departing July 27. In 2016, Eurodam will be sailing a 12-Day Mediterranean Romance cruise departing June 23.

The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain

Bilbao's Guggenheim is as beautiful inside as it is out.

Bilbao’s Guggenheim is as beautiful inside as it is out.

The famous Guggenheim Museum is located in Bilbao’s Abandoibarra area. When it opened in 1997, it was widely regarded as the most important structure of its time, and when you spot it you’ll quickly know it was designed by Frank Gehry. The exterior of the museum is art in itself, made with titanium, glass and limestone. Inside, there is a vast amount of art to be seen by Spanish and international artists. You can explore this architectural masterpiece during the Bilbao Highlights & the Guggenheim Museum tour. The exhibitions here change often, so even if you have been before, it’s worth a second visit.

Holland America Line’s elegant explorer Prinsendam is the ship you have to be on to visit Bilbao. Come aboard in 2016 on a 14-Day Bourgundian Explorer cruise departing Sept. 6.

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Van Gogh is known for his colorful style. Photo courtesy nl.wikipedia.org.

Van Gogh is known for his colorful style. Photo courtesy nl.wikipedia.org.

Located in Amsterdam’s Museum Square, the famous Van Gogh Museum features a unique collection by the 19th-century master of the same name. Opened in 1973 this museum attracts visitors who enjoy seeing Vincent Van Gogh’s amazing, colorful, post-impressionist renditions of sunflowers and potato-eaters and of course his tortured self-portraits. You’ll experience his life as you browse among his paintings and drawings, the largest collection of Van Gogh’s work in the world. The Amsterdam Highlights & Van Gogh Museum tour also includes a drive by the Dam Square, Amsterdam’s cultural center, and the Mint Tower.

One of our three Dutch homeports, Amsterdam hosts several Holland America Line ships. But if you want to be among the first to sail on Koningsdam and visit Amsterdam, join the 13-Day Christening Cruise departing May 9, 2016.

The Louvre, Le Havre (Paris), France

The Louvre with its unique pyramid is one of the most recognizable museums.

The Louvre with its unique pyramid is one of the most recognizable museums.

The Louvre, is one of the world’s largest museums and its most visited. This historic monument, originally built as a fortress by King Phillip II and having served as a royal palace, today is one of Paris’ most famous landmarks. On exhibit guests will find more than 35,000 pieces but the Louvre holds over a million pieces in its collection, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus of Milo. You can visit the Louvre during a call at Le Havre, France. With a transfer to Paris you’ll have enough time to explore the city on your own and this incredible museum should be at the top of your list of things to do.

Bon Jour! Koningsdam’s 13-Day Christening Cruise departing May 9, 2016, also calls at the French port of La Harve, the gateway to Paris.

The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

A Medallion Collection tour is the best way to enjoy the Hermitage.

A Medallion Collection tour is the best way to enjoy the Hermitage.

St. Peterburg’s Hermitage Museum, created by Czarina Catherine the Great in 1764, is one of northern Europe’s best attractions and one of the world’s finest museums. Catherine’s original purchase of 225 canvasses by Dutch and Flemish masters are still the nucleus of today’s collection, which consists of almost three million pieces. The museum’s 353 rooms are filled with masterpieces by Raphael, Titian, Giorgione, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and many others. The buildings’ spectacular staircases, marble structures, malachite columns and highly-decorated floors and ceilings will also impress you. Have the Hermitage all to yourself with the Exclusive Evening at the Hermitage tour. This Medallion Collection tour features an evening viewing exclusively for Holland America Line guests.

St. Petersburg is a popular port, and five Holland America Line ships call at the Russian favorite. Eurodam’s 12-Day Baltic Adventure is a good option for a last-minute getaway this summer, while next summer Zuiderdam takes on the route.

Vasa Museum, Stockholm, Sweden

The Vasa was salvaged and restored and is today the centerpiece of Stockholm's Vasa Museum.

The Vasa was salvaged and restored, and is today the centerpiece of Stockholm’s Vasa Museum.

Stockholm’s Vasa Museum is an authentic piece of living history. In the early 17th century, the Swedish battleship Vasa was the pride of Sweden’s mighty navy. The ship capsized while preparing to set out on its maiden voyage in 1628, sinking into Stockholm’s inner harbor. 333 years later, in 1961, a Swedish team salvaged the ship which was very well preserved. It was then restored and today is the centerpiece of the museum. You can visit the museum and its incredible ship during the Historic Stockholm, Sigtuna & the Vasa Museum tour. You’ll also enjoy the island of Gamla Sta, an enchanting medieval old town, and you’ll visit Sigtuna with the smallest Town Hall in Scandinavia.

Prinsendam and Zuiderdam visit the port of Stockholm. For an epic adventure embark Zuiderdam’s 29-Day Azores, Normandy and Baltic Adventure cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Copenhagen that calls at Stockholm and St. Petersburg.

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

Which of these museums do you want to visit the most? Have you been to any of these already?

Many South America cities, like Buenos Aires, come alive at night.
Many South America cities, like Buenos Aires, come alive at night.

A cruise to South America is full of culture, history and exotic flavors. It’s the ideal adventure for travelers who like new experiences, beautiful scenery, varying climates, bustling cities and quaint villages.

On longer cruises such as the upcoming 2016 67-day Grand South America & Antarctica Voyage, guests have even more opportunities to experience the ports with five overnight calls in Lima, Peru; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Panama City, Panama; Rio de Janeiro and Manaus, Brazil. By day, these cities are interesting and vibrant, but at night the energy rises to a whole new level and the streets come alive with music, dance and excitement.

If you’re looking to make the most of your evenings ashore, take a look at these five tours and head out for a night on the town.

FountainLima by Night & Magic Fountains
Lima is the capital of Peru, and it’s not only one of the country’s largest cities but also one of the largest cities in South America. Its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features grand old buildings, attesting to its longtime role as one of the queen cities of the Spanish empire. This popular place is also one of the gastronomic capitals of the Americas, thanks to Spanish, Andean and Asian influences.

With the Lima by Night & Magic Fountains tour you can get a different view of this vibrant city. You’ll drive through downtown Lima, featuring the Main Square and Plaza San Martin. Then, you’ll take in the Magic Water Circuit of Lima — one of the city’s most visited attractions. The circuit consists of 13 impressive fountains that combine movement, light, sound and images. Here, you’ll be treated to a stand-up show.

NatalieInAK gave the tour five stars on the Holland America Line website and said Lima is worth an evening visit!

“This was a fun excursion for all ages. The fountain park was big and beautiful and it felt very safe. It was great to see so many Lima families there enjoying the fountains. There were plenty of fountain-light shows and interactive fountains that you could run through if you didn’t mind getting a little wet. It was also lovely getting a chance to see Lima and its beautiful architecture all lit up at night. Overall, it was a fun and safe nighttime excursion well worth the money.”

Tango: A Night of Passion & Desire
Buenos Aires, Argentina, is one of South America’s cultural and commercial capitals. You’ll quickly fall in love with this romantic city that magically becomes even more lively at night.

Watch professional dancers take the stage for a captivating Tango performance.

Watch professional dancers take the stage for a captivating Tango performance.

The Tango: A Night of Passion & Desire tour features a marvelously entertaining tango show arranged exclusively for Holland America Line guests. You’ll head to one of the most iconic tango theaters in Buenos Aires for a spectacular presentation of the popular dance. The professional performers will leave you breathless with their skills, timing, passion and stamina. You can also combine this tour with dinner: a three-course meal in opulent surroundings while the dancers get ready for the show.

Diane gave the tour five stars on the Holland America Line website.

“This was one of the most memorable tours of the entire trip. The Tango show was very well done and included a history of Tango told through out the dances. There was drama, comedy, passion and fantastic music.”

Night Out In Rio: Samba Show

Rio de Janeiro is one of South America’s most colorful cities in more ways than one.

Rio de Janeiro is one of South America’s most colorful cities in more ways than one.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is a stunning city with beautiful people who have a contagious lust for life, and there’s no question why it’s nicknamed the “cidade maravilhosa,” or “marvelous city.” By day you can enjoy the breathtaking city views from the top of Corcovado Mountain or Sugar Loaf, and by night you can get a whole different feel for the culture.

The Night Out In Rio: Samba Show shore excursion is a Medallion Collection tour offering a firsthand glimpse of Rio’s fabulous nightlife. You’ll visit a local show house and enjoy a 90-minute live presentation featuring dazzling color, costumes, song and dance of Afro-Brazilian culture. You’ll quickly fall in love with the samba beat and enjoy the most important dance of the world-famous Carnival festival.

An Evening Exploration in the Amazon
Manaus, Brazil, one of the world’s greatest boomtowns, rose to glory as the rubber trade exploded in the late 19th century. Today, the boom-time landmarks still stand. At night, you can enjoy a visit to the world-famous pink-and-white Teatro Amazonas Opera House, a copy of the Grand Opera de Paris.

Guest UKTourist wrote:

This turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. Listening to talented young people perform in such a magnificent venue is something I will always remember. The choice of music was “inspired.”

Enjoy the stunning theater or watch your guide dive into the water to catch alligators at Manaus.

Enjoy the stunning theater or watch your guide dive into the water to catch alligators at Manaus.

But if it’s adventure you seek, the Alligators by Night tour is just what you’re looking for. Cross the Rio Negro by riverboat into Lake January to board a covered canoe with an outboard motor. You’ll cruise through the dark and exciting jungle as you closely watch the shadows and listen to mysterious sounds. Your guide will watch for caimans and when he spots one he’ll jump into the water to catch it! You’ll get an incredible up-close look before it is released back into the water.

Fast trip across the lake to caiman areas, with spotter shining light to find caiman. Ours about 3 years old, but still had sharp teeth. Second canoe with naturalist came along side, good descriptions of how caimans lived. Naturalist spoke excellent English, main guide more difficult to understand. Good trip, different experience at night crossing large rivers. Lights of Manaus beautiful at night. — Guest “ecmcd”

Miraflores Locks by Night
Fuerte Amador, or Fort Amador, in Panama was one of the U.S. installations, along with Fort Grant, that guarded the southern end of the Panama Canal. Today, it is a suburb of Panama City and a travel destination.

The lock of the Panama Canal are an interesting sight at night.

The lock of the Panama Canal are an interesting sight at night.

The Miraflores Locks by Night tour is an exciting opportunity to watch the huge ships that make their way through the Miraflores Locks’ chambers and see the locks up close. You’ll also enjoy the Miraflores Visitor Center, with four different halls depicting the background of the Canal and how it operates. Afterwards, you’ll pass through the former Panama Canal Zone, very much intact and resembling a still life image of the days of the American Administration. You’ll head back to the ship with a whole new appreciation of your recent transit.

GrayGrammy wrote on the Holland America Line website:

This tour, taken the evening before our Eastbound transit, made our adventure through the Panama Canal – especially through the Miraflores Locks – even more interesting and fun. Although we had done a good deal of research before taking our cruise, we learned much more at the Miraflores Visitors Center…

The Miraflores Visitor Center features four halls depicting the history of the Canal and how it operates.

The Miraflores Visitor Center features four halls depicting the history of the Canal and how it operates.

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The full 67-day Grand South America & Antarctica Voyage departs Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Jan. 4, 2016. The cruise also can be split into two segments: 36 days from Fort Lauderdale to Buenos Aires, or 31-days from Buenos Aires to Fort Lauderdale, departing Feb. 9.

Remember, you can pre-book your shore excursions online to save time onboard and ensure that you don’t miss your tour of choice! If you want to read or write a review of the tours, click HERE and then click “review.”

Have you spent the night in any of these cities before? What did you enjoy most? Tell us in the comments below.

Holland America Line's new tablet app brings Alaska to your fingertips.
Holland America Line's new tablet app brings Alaska to your fingertips.

Now it’s easier and more convenient for travelers to tap and swipe their way through Holland America Line’s Alaska cruises and Land+Sea Journeys with the launch of a new application for tablets. Those using an Apple, Android or Windows tablet can search key words such as “Holland America Alaska” in their respective app store and download the application for free.

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“Today’s consumer wants to have a thorough understanding of the travel experience before they book, and technology is essential in helping vacationers choose the right fit,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “Our new app makes it easy for anyone to get an inside look into Holland America Line’s Alaska options anytime, anywhere.”

The app is optimized for tablets and offers the best of Holland America Line’s Alaska brochure, web site and other collateral in an easy-to-navigate mobile tool. Users can explore both cruises and Land+Sea Journeys with a new level of detail, including an interactive map with destination details and excursion options, as well as a sampling of the line’s Glacier Bay podcasts.

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Users can post, share or print information. For those without a tablet, there is also a “desktop viewer” that offers the same rich content with mouse-click navigation.

Through the app, Holland America Line Alaska cruises and Land+Sea Journeys itineraries are available “on the go.” The app can be used to electronically view different itinerary options and route maps and to personalize travel plans. Once a day-by-day itinerary is finalized, a pdf flyer to email can be created with the swipe of a finger.

Anniversary Sale Features Alaska Adventures
If you’re looking to cruise Alaska this summer, now is the time to plan using the new app. Cruisers who book an Alaska cruise or Land+Sea Journey by June 1, 2015, will gain a valuable shore excursion credit, complimentary stateroom upgrades, dining package and more.

WHY TAKE AN ALASKA CRUISE?

As the experts in Alaska cruising and overland travel, here are some reasons why we think an Alaska cruise should be at the top of your list.

Bucket-list Shore Excursions

A cruise to Alaska is an adventure in itself, and certain tours make it even more memorable. The Dog Sled Adventure by Helicopter tour is a truly Alaskan adventure offering the rare opportunity to mush your own dog sled team across a snow-covered glacier, while the Whale Watching & Wildlife Quest tour is a memorable option to maximize time viewing Alaska’s marine wildlife.

Enjoy Alaska's locals surrounded by beautiful landscapes.

Enjoy Alaska’s locals surrounded by beautiful landscapes.

The Denali Glacier Landing by Helicopter tour is another once-in-a-lifetime experience. Explore the beautiful Yanert Glacier at the base of Mt. Deborah and head to the breathtaking Ice Falls in Yanert Valley. This video describes your soaring adventure better than we ever could!

Land + Sea Journeys let you explore Alaska from all angles!

Holland America Line’s Land + Sea Journeys combine an interior exploration with an Alaskan cruise, giving guests truly the best of both worlds. The Yukon Double Denali Land + Sea Journey option is the perfect way to experience all that Alaska has to offer with time in some of Alaska’s most exciting cities and two nights at Denali.

Take in the beautiful scenery at Denali National Park.

Take in the beautiful scenery at Denali National Park.

Serene scenic cruising lets you reach otherwise unreachable places.

Scenic cruising is one of the best facets of visiting Alaska on a cruise, because it is the only way to access these beautiful locations. Enjoy a scenic cruise along Glacier Bay, the Inside Passage and Tracy Arm, where the ship will be surrounded by Alaska’s natural beauty and you’ll be in awe as you take it all in.

Cruise along stunning natural beauty at Glacier Bay.

Cruise along stunning natural beauty at Glacier Bay.

Unique Cultures

There is plenty of culture to discover in Alaska and you’ll be delighted by the state’s many interesting traditions. At Ketchikan the Saxman Native Village and Lumberjack Show provides exclusive access to the Beaver Clan House — a working native carving center — and a chance to watch traditional dancers perform. At Haines, you can also learn of the Tlingit culture with a visit to Klukwan, the mother village of the Tlingit nation.

Watch a lumberjack show and visit a totem park.

Watch a lumberjack show and visit a totem park.

Are you convinced? From May through September 2015 seven ships in the Holland America Line fleet will sail a total of 124 Alaska voyages that stretch from the Inside Passage to Glacier Bay and beyond. See you in the Last Frontier!

The Edinburgh Tattoo is an exciting way to experience Scottish culture.
The Edinburgh Tattoo is an exciting way to experience Scottish culture.

When you cruise, what type of shore excursions attract you the most? Relaxing city tours, historically rich explorations or exhilarating adventures that get your adrenaline pumping? If you’re looking for once-in-a-lifetime experiences that combine a little bit of everything, Holland America Line has an incredible collection of shore excursions in Europe that feature some of the most exclusive events and exciting opportunities that allow you to explore the ports in a variety of ways.

Are you a golf fan, Formula One junkie or do you like to see the world from a different view? Read on and see why these six tours top the list of European shore excursions not to miss.

British Open Championship at St. Andrews
Rosyth, Scotland

Visit St. Andrews and witness the British open on a tour.

Visit St. Andrews and witness the British open on a tour.

For those who appreciate the game of golf’s rich history, the British Open Championship at St. Andrews tour is the ultimate tournament experience. Be there as the 144th British Open is played out on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Follow the best players in the world as they navigate the pot bunkers and gusty winds that are the hallmarks of this Scottish legend. This is the rare opportunity to witness golf’s oldest Major Championship return to the game’s most cherished links.

Prinsendam’s July 15, 2015, Irish & Scottish Explorer departure calls at Rosyth during the British Open.

Grand Prix Trials
Monte Carlo, Monaco

Amazingly the call at Monte Carlo on Nieuw Amsterdam’s April 22 departure coincides with the trials for the world-famous Formula One Grand Prix. Guests can attend the first day of the F1 trials, held on one of the most fascinating and talked-about racetracks in the world. From the port of Fontvieille a local escort will lead you on a 30-minute walk (approximately) toward the grandstand section, located in a central position. Local Grand Prix personnel will direct you toward the section where you are to be seated. It is then up to you to decide which trials you wish to attend as your ticket gives you grandstand access for the whole day with in-out privileges. Come and go as you please. Your escort will give you a map of Monaco for orientation and then you’re on your own for a most enjoyable day.

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Rosyth, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle is the beautiful backdrop for the annual Tattoo.

Edinburgh Castle is the beautiful backdrop for the annual Tattoo.

Traditionally, the ‘tattoo’ was the signal given by drumbeat that warned British soldiers to return to their quarters for the night. Innkeepers promptly turned off their liquor taps and the drums continued to beat for a half hour — the period of grace during which the soldiers were allowed to return home before being AWOL. The custom eventually developed into a ceremonial performance of military music by massed bands, held a few hours after sunset.

At the Edinburgh Military Tattoo that takes place every August against the majestic backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, the world-renowned Massed Pipes & Drums together with the impressive Massed Military Bands and the Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland are among those who will gather for Scotland’s sensational Edinburgh Tattoo. The Tattoo concludes with that most moving of all Scotland’s performances — the lone piper, floodlit on the battlements, haunting tones reaching out across the darkened arena to echo in your heart long after the music stops. (This excursion is only available on select sailings in August and is not available on Sundays.)

Exclusive Mt. Vesuvius
Naples, Italy

Take an exclusive tour of Mt. Vesuvius on a 4x4 bus.

Take an exclusive tour of Mt. Vesuvius on a 4×4 bus.

Travel by coach along the Bay of Naples on the Exclusive Mt. Vesuvius tour, stopping en route at a local cameo factory before reaching the foot of awesome Mount Vesuvius — the only volcano on the mainland continent of Europe. From the village of Boscotrecase, you will board a special ecological 4×4 bus for a 25-minute drive through Mount Vesuvius National Park, through pine forests and broom to an elevation of 3,400 feet. Leave the bus and walk to the upper part of the crater, where you will enjoy a walking tour around the crater under the expert supervision of an alpine guide.

Mount Vesuvius creates a beautiful landscape with the bay and Naples tucked below. Vesuvius is best known for its eruption in AD 79, destroying the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and killing up to 25,000 people. It has erupted many times since and is today regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of the population of three million people living nearby. The mountain has a tendency for explosive (Plinian) eruptions.

We had a wonderful sunny day, and you want good weather. The drive in the 4 wheel vehicle part way up Mt. Vesuvius was great. There is quite a climb but rails to hand on to when needed. You get right to the mouth of the volcano which is amazing. This trip was my husband’s choice and I am so glad we took it. — Guest Chrisdo

Kickin’ Corfu! A 4-Wheel-Drive Adventure
Kérkira (Corfu), Greece

Drive your own Jeep around Corfu and kick back like a local.

Drive your own Jeep around Corfu and kick back like a local.

Get behind the wheel of a four-wheel-drive vehicle on the Kickin’ Corfu tour and drive yourself and your fellow guests along the main coastal route, and up a country road, through olive groves and the village of Ano Korakiana. The road up Pantokrator Mountain features 27 zigzag turns and leads to the old village of Sokraki. Stretch your legs on a walk through the narrow winding streets of the village and enjoy a meze (traditional light snack) with a glass of local wine. Set off again along a country (dirt) lane to admire the beautiful panoramic view of the island as well as the magnificent view of the old town of Corfu. Returning to the narrow asphalt road, pass through Troubeta, Arkadades, Makrades and Lakones.

Without doubt this tour was the best tour of the whole cruise.My wife drove the little four wheel drive ,without any problems,while I ran the Gopro. The best views. The stop at Sokraki was more of a full lunch than a light snack, with local produce and meats, wine and ouzo.The narrow roads through picturesque towns were a treat. And one breathtaking view after another. I would highly suggest this tour. — Guests Steve and Linda

Sensational Rooftop Walk & Stockholm’s Old Town
Stockholm, Sweden

Get a bird's-eye view of Stockholm on the rooftop tour.

Get a bird’s-eye view of Stockholm on the rooftop tour.

It’s been featured on the blog in the past, but it’s too special to leave off this list. Try something sensational and unique — a guided walk conducted along a historic rooftop in Stockholm. Drive to Riddarholmen, the small island in the Old Town of Sweden’s capital. During the 13th century, Franciscan monks built a monastery here, parts of which still remains in the cellar vaults of the many impressive buildings that stand here today. Riddarholmen Church is the final resting place of most Swedish Kings. Next to the church is the Old Parliament Building which you’ll enter and take the elevator up to the top floor and, via the attic, step out into the open. Buckle up with your safety harness and take your first steps along the narrow rooftop path offering fantastic views and fascinating stories that your guide will share en route.

Even though the height (up to 130 feet) may be a challenge to some, this is the perfect starting point to learn of the history of Stockholm and take in some breathtaking views. With your feet back on the ground, continue to the Old Town for a ground-level walking tour through Gamla Stan — a living historical monument of international renown. On the way back to the ship, relax for a panoramic sightseeing drive through Stockholm, passing the Parliament Building, the Royal Opera, the city center with Sergels Torg and the Concert Hall.

My husband and I had a great time – what a unique opportunity to walk on the rooftop of a centuries old buildling in the middle of Stockholm. We had a view of the city from every angle, and learned a lot about the history of Stockholm. It was the perfect mix of sightseeing and adrenaline! — Guest TravelGal

Which one of these tours would you like to take? Many of the exclusive shore excursions fill up quickly, so remember to pre-book the shore excursion of your choice to save time onboard and ensure you have a seat!

One-year-old Isabelle waves goodbye to her Uncle Vincent who is staff captain on Prinsendam.
One-year-old Isabelle waves goodbye to her Uncle Vincent who is staff captain on Prinsendam.

Taking a cruise vacation is a social event full of memory-making moments both onboard and ashore. From mingling with guests around the ship to taking a fabulous shore excursion and visiting all of the fantastic destinations around the world, there are plenty of opportunities to capture the special moments and share them with friends, family and fellow fans of Holland America Line.

If you want to be social before you cruise, check out “Roll Call” on Facebook, Holland America Line’s way of connecting fellow cruisers before departure. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and the Holland America Blog are other outlets that provide a great way for guests to get cruise tips from fellow guests or share vacation stories and photos.

If you want to be part of the sharing, submit your fun photos and stories through social media channels, by clicking “Share Your Story” on the blog or emailing info@hollandamericablog.com. And if you’re out there cruising and tweeting while you sail, hashtag us at #HALcruises or #HollandAmerica, or tag us at @HALcruises. You can even hashtag your ship, like #Eurodam!

The photos and notes in this blog post are just some wonderful examples that show the dedication, fondness and love that our guests and crew have for Holland America Line.

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Well Wishes from Shore to Ship

The beautiful photo above came through email with this sweet note:

My uncle Vincent works as a staff captain on the ms Prinsendam. Every time when the beautiful ms Prinsendam visits the Netherlands (Amsterdam or IJmuiden), I go by bike, together with my mom and dad to the beach/pier to wave my Uncle Vincent goodbye. We always wish him and all of the crew and passengers a safe and secure journey. My mom took a picture of us the last time. — Isabelle Engel (1 year)

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Noordam Carries Historic Tote Bag on Transatlantic Crossing

From left: Captain Jeroen van Donselaar, Nancy and Francis Stiles, and Hotel Director Simon Tanner display the historic tote bag.

From left: Captain Jeroen van Donselaar, Nancy and Francis Stiles, and Hotel Director Simon Tanner display the historic tote bag.

Guests Francis and Nancy Stiles of Pennsylvania brought an unusual piece of history on board a Noordam transatlantic cruise: a tote bag that has been in the Stiles family since 1890 and carried on many sailings. The tote bag traveled on Holland America Line ships including the Rijndam and Statendam in 1929 and made its first transatlantic crossing in 1930 aboard White Star Line’s R.M.S. Homeric.

On this transatlantic cruise 84 years later, Captain Jeroen van Donselaar and Hotel Director Simon Tanner held a commemoration ceremony on the bridge, inscribing the ship’s itinerary on the bag.

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Getting Creative with Tiles

While some guests create tables and kitchen backsplashes with their Holland America Line Delft tiles, guest Ton Rijppaert has found another way to get creative with these favorite give-aways. A former HAL cabin steward from 1964 to 1972, Ton now cruises regularly so he’s amassed quite a collection of tiles and pins.

Ton Rijppaert from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, displays his tiles and pins in a photobook.

Ton Rijppaert from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, displays his tiles and pins in a photobook.

I collect HAL tiles (not plates) and pins … At this moment my collection consists of 290 tiles and 80 pins. I have them processed in a photobook. It is a loose-leaf album, so I can effortlessly handle additions. The tiles are shown at actual size. I always take the album with me on our cruises. That is the way I am “creative” with my tiles. During our voyage with the ms Rotterdam from our hometown Rotterdam to Singapore last January I had the opportunity to exhibit my tiles on board the ship (2 times). — Ton Rijppaert

Ton at home with his collection and the wonderful display onboard.

Ton at home with his collection, a new tile and the wonderful display onboard.

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Friends for Life

Crew members who work onboard become like family. Cruising is a 24/7 operation, and there’s a lot of time spent together. Special bonds are formed and lifelong friendships develop. Former Cruise Director Lizabeth Knight can attest to this in her story:

Teresa, left, and Liz onboard Nieuw Amsterdam.

Teresa, left, and Liz onboard Nieuw Amsterdam.

I’m a former HAL Cruise Director and Teresa Papp is a former HAL Event Manager. We were partnered together on the Statendam from 2009 through 2010. It was a tremendous partnership, and we were fortunate to work with a fabulous “family” on the Statendam. Even though we’ve both been officially gone from the company since 2010 we’ve remained close friends, and decided to take a “Family Reunion” cruise this year.

Since the Statendam does voyages that are longer than we can manage in our current lives, we chose a Caribbean cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam. We were thrilled to find many of our Statendam family members onboard, making it truly a family reunion to remember! Thank you, Holland America Line, for the magical memories – from both the Statendam and the Nieuw Amsterdam! — Lizabeth Knight

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Warm Feelings in Cold Weather

The Shore Excursion department on Zaandam recently received new uniforms for their South America explorations. They were very appreciative of the cold-weather wear.

Judy from Zaandam's Shore Excursion team shows off the new uniforms.

Judy from Zaandam’s Shore Excursion team shows off the new uniforms.

Just a little appreciation for our new uniform! — Judy

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Is that an Original Holland America Line Design?

Chuck and Deborah Humbert.

Chuck and Deborah Humbert.

Chuck Humbert and his wife Deborah were wondering what to do with all of the vintage, complimentary tote bags that Holland America Line gives out. They got creative, and we think the result is fabulous!

Because of the superb quality of the design and fabric, they were recycled by my wife Deborah and her mother into a jacket and vest to be worn at the Mariners Luncheons. Needless to say they do attract attention. Careful attention was paid to the patterns when piecing together the final project lending to a memorable taste of our past cruises.

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A Presidential Dinner

President’s Club Mariners Mark Goldberg and Christopher Smith have made the ms Zaandam their winter home sailing around South America for nearly 100 days.

To honor them and their loyalty to Holland America Line Hotel Director Simon Tanner orchestrated a remarkable dinner in the Neptune Lounge just a few steps from their suite. This was most definitely a memorable evening for these VIP guests!

Left to Right: Christopher Smith, presidents club member; Clarissa Zwart, guest relations manager;  Marc Spijkerboer, culinary operations manager; Mark Goldberg, presidents club member; Anita Szilagyi, shore excursions; Simon Tanner, hotel director, pose with HAL crew members.

Clockwise around the table from bottom left: guest Christopher Smith; Clarissa Zwart, guest relations manager; Marc Spijkerboer, culinary operations manager; guest Mark Goldberg; Anita Szilagyi, shore excursions; and Simon Tanner, hotel director, pose with HAL crew members.

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A Golden Anniversary

Even regular blog contributors and current Grand World Voyage cruisers Jan and Dick Yetke got in on the fun.

We celebrated our 50th Anniversary onboard. Started out with a wake up call in the morning from Guest Relations Manager Christel and her whole front office staff, including Neptune staff, singing a Happy Anniversary song to us!!!! What a wonderful surprise and great way to start the day!!!

A little while later we were out of the cabin attending the Good Morning Amsterdam show and when we returned our door had been decorated with 3 gold balloons and a sign saying Happy 50th Anniversary, Jan and Dick!! It was from the Neptune staff and our cabin stewards. Wow, that was really nice!

Cards arrived all day long from friends on board!!! We received our first large flower bouquet from Captain Jonathan Mercer; Henk and Christel Mensink, hotel manager and guest relations manager; ship officers, staff, and crew!! So beautiful and so much appreciated by us! We felt very special.

Celebrations continued throughout the day with flower deliveries, a cocktail party, fabulous dinner and dessert.

When it was time for dessert, all the dining room staff gathered around the table and they brought the cake and they all sang their Indonesian song which means Happy Life to us!! Another, Wow, for us – so many singers.

The Yetke's 50th Anniversary celebration included balloons, cake and Captain Mercer.

The Yetke’s 50th Anniversary celebration included balloons, cake and Captain Mercer.

Content is king and social media is the new water cooler. We want to hear what you’re doing! If you have fun photos or a great story that you’d like to share with Holland America Line’s social media team, send to info@hollandamericablog.com or hit the icon on the home page that says “Share Your Story.”

Happy cruising — we hope to hear from you soon!

The beautiful Tayutic Hacienda is located in the misty hills of Turrialba.
The beautiful Tayutic Hacienda is located in the misty hills of Turrialba.

Spring has sprung and it’s an inspiring time! Today is the first official day of spring – and that means that flowers will begin to bloom in colder regions that have been covered in a blanket of snow and ice for many months.

As people across the northern hemisphere are looking forward to the return of the sun, Holland America Line’s signature tulip is beginning to bloom in the world-famous Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands, one of the most beautiful gardens in the world. In celebration of spring flowers, here are more gorgeous gardens — in no particular order — that you can visit on a Holland America Line shore excursion. Take a tour and take home some inspiration for your own backyard masterpiece!

Holland America Line's white Signature Tulip with its delicate fringe is a stand-out in the tulip fields.

Holland America Line’s white Signature Tulip with its delicate fringe is a stand-out in the tulip fields.

The Tayutic Hacienda
Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

Costa Rica is known for its lush setting and extraordinary biodiversity. At Puerto Limon head to the hills for a picturesque experience at Tayutic Hacienda. The gardens surrounding there were built by the wealthy Ortuño family, who made their money in the sugar cane business. Learn about ancient methods of sugar cane cultivation and walk the impressive gardens, buzzing with hummingbirds and butterflies, then dine in a covered hall surrounded by the exotic flora with beautiful mountain views.

One family visited all the way from the Jersey Shore and said,

“This was one of our favorite excursions. The bus ride though the countryside of Costa Rica was just beautiful — but wait — the best is yet to come! High on a hill the Tayutic Hacienda has the most magnificent views in the valley … We loved this excursion which was well organized and allowed us to feel “living the life” on the estate.”

The Jardim Botânico
Funchal, Portugal

Funchal, Portugal, is known for more than just great wine. The “Jardim Botânico” (Botanical Gardens) of Madeira are world-renowned for their beauty. Developed in 1960 on the coastline, the garden displays over 2,000 exotic plants both endemic and from all over the world such as orchids, magnolias, azaleas, palms, ferns and cacti.

Throughout the garden, visitors will find plants that are identified by their scientific and common names, family and place of origin, for a delightful and educational experience. The garden’s location, high on the hillside overlooking the ocean, adds another element of natural beauty to an already gorgeous setting.

JR from Seattle visited on Holland America Line’s Botanical Beauty Shore Excursion and said,

“We boarded the coach to climb up the hills of Funchal to the most glorious botanical gardens! Magnificent views of the city and water from the gardens. Beautifully organized areas of different landscapes…stunningly gorgeous. Don’t forget to see the exotic birds at the bottom of the gardens.”

The “Jardim Botânico” is a fabulous sensory experience.

The “Jardim Botânico” is a fabulous sensory experience.

Butchart Gardens
Victoria, British Columbia

At beautiful Butchart Gardens, see how the Butchart family has transformed a barren rock quarry into what is now one of the world’s best-known horticultural attractions, covering more than 55 acres. The gardens are a lush paradise of flowers, rare trees and winding paths and were created more than 100 years ago. Enjoy the cascading fountains and footbridges connecting the many themed gardens, including the beautiful Sunken Garden, the Japanese Garden and the Rose Garden.

Katharine from Oregon visited on Holland America Line’s Butchart Gardens & Short Drive tour and called Butchart Gardens “the loveliest place on earth.”

“I’ve been a half dozen times and have never been disappointed.” – Katarine, Oregon

The Buchart Gardens offer more than 50 acres of beauty.

The Buchart Gardens offer more than 50 acres of beauty.

Inverary Castle
Glasgow, Scotland

Inverary Castle appears out of a fairytale. The castle is England’s earliest example of Gothic Revival — built in the 1700s — and could not be more beautiful if it were a painting. No matter the time of year the gardens are well worth a visit. In early spring daffodils bloom with various shades of yellow, replaced by the vibrant reds, pinks and whites of the rhododendrons and azaleas that the West Highlands are famous for. Other highlights are the heathers, roses and varied trees that are spectacular later in the summer and autumn. The garden covers 16 acres, of which, around two acres are formal lawns and flowerbeds, the remainder being park and woodland. Extending over 400 acres they from one of the most important designed landscapes in Scotland. You can check them out on cruises to Glasgow on Holland America Line’s Inverary Castle & Loch Lomond tour.

Inverary Castle and its grounds look like something out of a fairytale.

Inverary Castle and its grounds look like something out of a fairytale.

Romney Manor Gardens
Basseterre, St. Kitts

At St. Kitts hop in a jeep for the Safari Island Drive to take in the beauty of this most scenic of the smaller Caribbean islands. After driving through the town of Basseterre, you will proceed westward to the renowned Caribelle Batik Studio and Romney Manor Gardens — beautifully maintained gardens and a batik factory. Here you will have some time to enjoy this spectacular 12-acre location and see batik-making in progress. Then you will continue the scenic ride around the island as your entertaining and knowledgeable guide points out places of historical and cultural interest. Hear about Old Road Village, where the British first landed on Middle Island, and the world-famous Brimstone Hill Fortress as you drive by. Your next stop will be at Gibbon’s Hill, from where you can see the Atlantic Waters meeting with the Caribbean Sea in a splash of waves that never ceases to fascinate.

Get to know the gardens with a guide at St. Kitts

Get to know the gardens with a guide at St. Kitts

Adelaide Botanic Garden
Adelaide, Australia

Adelaide’s Garden & Museum takes you to the Bicentennial Conservatory at the Adelaide Botanic Garden. The conservatory is located in the tropical rain forest section of the garden and is awash with waterfalls and rock pools. It was built to celebrate Australia’s bicentenary (1988) and is the largest single-span conservatory in the Southern Hemisphere. The Bicentennial Conservatory houses a display of lowland tropical rain forest plants from Northern Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and the nearby Pacific Islands. Many of these plants are at risk or are endangered in their natural habitats. You will have the chance to visit the Palm House, established in 1875 — the pre-cursor to the Conservatory. It was fully restored in 1992 and is believed to be the only one still in existence today.

Take in the beauty at Adelaide, Australia's 125-acre Botanic Garden.

Take in the beauty at Adelaide, Australia’s 125-acre Botanic Garden.

The Humble Administrator’s Garden
Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China, is a city where old meets new. Scenic Suzhou, founded in the 5th century B.C., maintains tradition. A famous Chinese proverb says, “In heaven there is paradise; on earth Suzhou and Hangzhou.” At Suzhou, the Humble Administrator’s Garden is 10 acres of pure beauty, with a variety of lakes and gardens dotted throughout. The name, “Humble Administrator” comes from another Chinese proverb that says,

“To cultivate a garden for a living is really the politics of a humble man.” — Chinese Proverb

Dotted with lakes and ponds, the Humble Administrator's Garden is one of the most famous in all of China.

Dotted with lakes and ponds, the Humble Administrator’s Garden is one of the most famous in all of China.

Also at Shanghai, visit the Yuyuan Garden. The Pan family, wealthy Ming Dynasty officials, had the garden built for them. The endeavor took 18 years between A.D. 1559 and 1577. Small bridges of different shapes and sizes, beautiful rockeries, clear water ponds, elegant pavilions and zig-zagging, covered corridors are nicely designed and built in this small but very delicate and pretty garden.

Mendenhall Glacier Gardens
Juneau, Alaska

Mendenhall Glacier Gardens is unique — it’s where beautifully designed landscapes meet rustic forest and cascading waterfalls. The bright greens, purples and pinks of the garden contrast the region’s greatest attraction nearby, the Mendenhall Glacier. See them both on Holland America Line’s Mendenhall Glacier & Gardens tour. You will be amazed at the diversity of the rain forest as you wind along pathways carved into the mountainside, heading toward the upper regions of the forest. Visit a one-of-a-kind Alaska garden featuring towering ‘upside-down trees’ covered with planted flowers. From the viewing platform at the 580-foot level, capture images of the Gastineau Channel, Douglas Island and the Chilkat Mountains.

MMouse from Vancouver, B.C. visited and said,

“The gardens were beautiful, especially the upside down trees & the flowers in the gift shop. The views from above were spectacular. The glacier & falls were also very impressive. Saw a bear by the salmon spawning streams, very close up! Once in a lifetime!”

The contrast in colors between  Mendenall Gardens and nearby Glacier is astounding.

The contrast in colors between Mendenall Gardens and nearby Mendenhall Glacier is astounding.

From tropical rainforests to temperate hillsides these are just a few of the many beautiful gardens Holland America Line visits around the world. Do you have a favorite that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments!

Remember, you can pre-book the shore excursion of your choice to save time onboard!

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