Voyages To Remember

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Vacations are meant for making memories and sometimes there are those that we start with no idea how they will make their mark in our memories. I can recall a few such experiences, as you probably can as well. Today, I will outline a few travels that could become especially memorable.

Only a few months ago it was my pleasure to enjoy a month in the Mediterranean area. This year, Holland America Lines is offering a 22-day voyage departing Sept. 23, 2012 from Barcelona, Spain.

After flying to Spain, you proceed to the dock area and board the Ryndam. In fact, I would get to Barcelona a couple days before the ship sails in order to do some sightseeing in and around this most interesting city. It’s clean, safe and visually interesting and beautiful.

Then on Sept. 23 you board the lovely ship and off you go first to Palma de Mallorca, which lies southwest of Barcelona in the Mediterranean and is a major vacation spot for northern Europeans in winter months. This is a beautiful island and rather large. You can book a tour that will take you into the countryside to see how beautiful the island is. There are many vineyards as well as fairly high mountains. Palma is the main city. Most of the waterfront is lined with modern hotels.

Next, you sail to Cagliari, Sardinia for a full day, followed by a day in Trapani, Sicily, Italy. Then it is onto North Africa for a day of sightseeing in Tunis and Carthage, Tunisia. It should be warm and sunny here because you are right on the edge of the Sahara Desert.

Next, the ship goes to Valletta, Malta where you can digest the history of the island followed by a stop in Rome for a day. There is interesting scenery from the Rome port of Civitavecchia inland to the city, which takes an hour and a half. Rome city sightseeing would be a must if you have not visited here for a few years. You tend to forget how great the history is in this part of the world and one day of sightseeing here is well worth the time and expense.

After Rome, you sail on to one of my favorite cities in the world, Florence. Even the drive from the port of Livorno to Florence is interesting. There is so much history and beauty here it boggles the mind. Use your day wisely with an all encompassing tour, which will include the major points of Florence as well as a stop at Pisa for some photos of the leaning tower.

Now, a most interesting stop will be Monte Carlo, Monaco to see how the upper crust of Europe lives and vacation. A full day is spent here then, back for a full day in Barcelona, Spain before moving on to Palermo and Catania, Sicily, Italy.

From here, you sail southeast to Katakolon, Greece with time to take a shore excursion to the original site of the Olympics. Then sail on to Corfu, Greece as well as one of the more interesting cities in the general area, Dubrovnik, Croatia where you will have a full day to explore. Next is a most fascinating town, Kotor in Montenegro. You can walk the cobblestone streets to see the shops and perhaps purchase some gifts to take back home.

Naples, Italy is the last port of call before arriving back in Barcelona.

This 22-day itinerary will provide you with a wide variety of sights and sounds and plenty of opportunities to photograph history of yesteryear. Call Holland America Line for more information and request a brochure. Phone 1-877-SAIL-HAL or www.hollandamericablog.com.

If you hate long flights, look at Holland America Lines unusual itinerary sailing in the Maasdam departing Boston July 14, 2012 and heading to Amsterdam for a two-day stay then returning to Boston. The total itinerary takes 35 days. Here are the highlights: Corner Brook, Newfoundland; Red Bay, Labrador; Nanortalik, Greenland; Reykjavik, Iceland; Geiranger, Norway as well as cruising the famous Norwegian Fjords, and stops at Alsund and Bergen, Norway and stopping in Amsterdam for two full days.

You may stay on the ship during this time if you prefer. Then, the Maasdam sails to Southampton and Plymouth, England before docking in Dublin, Ireland for two days. Then, on to Toirshavn, Faroe Islands, Seydisfordur and Akureyri, Iceland and after a day at sea docking in Qjaqortog, Greenland then one day at sea before visiting St. Anthony and St. John’s, Newfoundland, before reaching Bar Harbor, Maine for a full day, and then back to your starting point. If you can get away for 35 days you will be sure to experience most interesting sailing and sightseeing. Some of the locations on the itinerary are not frequently visited by Americans. Holland America Line is offering this unique cruise at a bargain mark down price, so look into it if you think you have the time and money to take the cruise.

Here is another itinerary you would enjoy, which we did about four years ago. This particular voyage is also a Holland America Line cruise, but other cruise lines offer about the same this year. Consult a travel agent and they will offer you up-to-date brochures and advice.

The next cruise I am going to mention with HAL requires you to fly to Sydney, Australia where you can spend three or four days exploring in and around this major city, which is loaded with fascinating sights and then boarding the Zaandam Nov. 25, 2012 and sail to New Zealand for a very comprehensive sightseeing program stopping in Milford Sound, which is often seen in publication photographs, as well as Stewart Island, Port Chalmers for Duniden, Lyttelton for Christchurch, Napier, Tauranga, Auckland, and the Bay of Islands before returning to Sydney. This is 14 days of exciting cruising and sightseeing. You’ll never forget the high mountains of the South Island and green of the North Island. The people are most friendly and this late spring cruise should present a wonderful vacation.

Tauck Tours is chartering the French cruise ship, L’Austral, which was commissioned only last year and carries less than 500 guests and offers up-scale dining, beautiful interiors and service. This vacation is titled Poets, Authors, Painters & You. You fly into Venice, Italy and check into a hotel. After some extensive sightseeing and local cruising the area you board the L’Austral and sail the Adriatic Sea to visit and explore Sibenik, Split, Hvar, Karcula, Dubrovnik and Kotor in both Croatia and Montenegro. These towns and cities are quite ancient and worth every minute you have for sightseeing.

A voyage to Antarctica featuring the Falkland Islands and South Georgia is one of those cruises that few Americans take, but those that do seem to fully enjoy the experience. Personally, I am not that interested in frozen terrain and icebergs, but if that interests you, several cruise lines are doing it this year. The most popular time is during our winter (their summer) and the ships fill up. The ships offer landings ashore in special boats so you may walk among the creatures that live there, mostly penguins. I would rather cruise the Caribbean at this time of year. I’ll take warm over cold! Again, consult a travel agent for their advice and counseling.

I continue to recommend a Baltic cruise and its most fascinating itinerary. Several cruise lines offer this and they almost all would include some time in Stockholm, perhaps Helsinki, Finland, at least three days in St. Petersburg, Russia, which is loaded with castles of the czars and assorted Russian Royal Family, as well as scenic canals, some of the best museums in the world for art and then there is music and ballet.

You might also cruise to Tallinn, Estonia, Riga, Latvia, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Warnemude, Germany for a chance to go inland to Berlin, then cruise the Kiel Canal and perhaps a stop in Belgium before reaching your final stop at Dover for London. Each cruise line varies this itinerary, but at least it should include Stockholm, Copenhagen and St. Petersburg. July and August are the best times for a Baltic cruise.

A thrilling river cruise for 24 remarkable days begins in Amsterdam and visits Koln, Koblenz, Aschaffenburg, Rothenburg, Bamberg, the main Danube Canal, Regensburg, Passau, Melk, Durnstein, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Kalocsa, Vukobar, Belgrade Veliko, Cernaboda on the Black Sea Coast and ends in Bucharest. I would like to do this cruise within the next two years. It so well encompasses Western and Middle Europe and you do not have to change planes, coaches or boats. One riverboat does it all. Several major river cruise companies do this itinerary.

As we have said before, a round-the-world cruise is the ultimate voyage.

Maybe someday.

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