Tonight the world will be captivated watching the Opening Ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. The first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896 in Athens, Greece, and have since traveled around the globe to cities near and far.
Holland America Line cruises visit several of the host cities, and many offer the opportunity to explore the stadiums, see the torch that was once ablaze with the Olympic flame and step into a part of history that unites cultures … much like cruising.
If you’re looking to experience the Olympic spirit in person, take a cruise that call at these iconic cities:
Greece, along with its storied history of the ancient Olympiad, also hosted the first modern Olympiad in 1896 and again hosted the games most recently in 2004, both in its capital of Athens. Known as the “Birthplace of the Olympics,” Athens is a must-visit for any Holland America Line cruiser who is looking to bask in Olympic history and glory. We offer two incredibly insightful EXC Tours: the “Panoramic Athens & the Benaki Museum” tour and the “Athens Sightseeing & Lycabettus Views” tour, which will both take you to the first-ever Olympic stadium and the only stadium built entirely of marble, the Panathenaic Stadium. Along with visiting the stadium, both tours provide ample opportunities to see modern and ancient Athens. Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes; you may be able to run a lap around the famous stadium!
While it was selected to host the 1940 Summer Olympic Games, Helsinki became an official Olympic city in 1952 — the 1940 games were canceled due to WWII. Helsinki’s Olympic past holds a unique title since its average temperature of 46.2°F make it the coldest city to host a Summer Games. For cruisers interested in learning more about Helsinki’s 1952 Olympics, HAL’s “Designs of Helsinki: Architectural Highlights” EXC Tour is a medal-worthy choice. The tour visits the Olympic Stadium while also providing a comprehensive look at the capital’s many sites before visiting the iconic Temppeliaukio Rock Church, the Helsinki Lutheran Cathedral and Hvitträsk, the birthplace and former home of the famous Finnish architect Eero Saarinen.
“Share the spirit” was the motto aptly given to the 2000 Summer Olympics, and its host city, Sydney, is a destination that certainly evokes an adventurous spirit! Home to iconic beaches, incredible wildlife sanctuaries and two UNESCO World Heritage sites, it’s easy to find action and adventure around every corner of this fascinating metropolis. In fact, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites served as the location for the Olympic triathlon — Sydney’s famed Opera House. On our EXC Tour, “Sydney Sights & the Opera House,” you‘ll enjoy a guided tour of this impressive structure and learn about its history, design and current role. The tour also includes a stop at Bondi Beach where the Olympic volleyball tournaments took place. If you’re looking for a more active experience, the “Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb” is an absolute must! On this heart-pumping adventure you’ll need to channel your inner daredevil as you scale one of the city’s most celebrated icons! From the summit you’ll enjoy breathtaking views from atop the very structure that launched the fireworks for Sydney’s epic closing ceremony.
Like, Helsinki, Oslo, Norway, had to wait a couple of years before it became an official Olympics host. While Oslo had been discussed as a host for the Winter Olympics as far back as 1935, Olso had to wait until 1952 to have the honors of hosting. Over the years, Oslo has become a favorite destination in the Nordic countries for travelers, but many travelers may overlook viewing Oslo’s Olympic past. Headed to Oslo on a HAL cruise? Join the “Panoramic Oslo” EXC Tour, which combines the main highlights of Norway’s capital with a taste of the Olympics. During this pleasant sightseeing drive, guests will visit the Akershus Fortress, the Parliament Buildings, the Royal Palace, the National Theatre, Oslo’s university and the Nobel Institute, as well as the recently refurbished Holmenkollen Ski Jump, which has been a ski-jumping venue for over a century. Now that’s a perfect 10!
The host of the 1992 Summer Olympics was the Mediterranean city of Barcelona, Spain. In the years leading up to the Olympics, Barcelona gradually transformed into the city that we recognize today. In addition to making investments in infrastructure and greenery, much of the city’s beachfront was created in anticipation of the games. Beyond the aesthetic changes, the Olympics left Barcelona with a lasting sports legacy. Today, there are many ways for tourists and locals alike to indulge their love of sports in Barcelona, such as watching skaters perform tricks outside the Museum of Contemporary Art, catching a soccer game at Camp Nou, or visiting the Olympic Park. El Paseo Olímpico holds the Olympic Stadium, the Olympic and Sports Museums and the Palau Sant Jordi sports arena. You can see these sites and many others during the “Barcelona by Bicycle” EXC Tour. Re-experience the magic of the 1992 Olympics and visit the Olympic Park on your next cruise to Barcelona.
In February 2010, Vancouver had the great privilege of being the host city for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, and on a cruise with Holland America Line you can relive the glory! Vancouver is a bustling seaport known for its ethnically diverse atmosphere and beautiful scenery. Fringed by mountains and sea, this hub for outdoor enthusiasts is one of the few places where you can ski in the morning and sail in the afternoon. Aside from visiting Olympic venues and getting a glimpse of the inspiring Olympic Cauldron, our carefully crafted EXC Port Planners are the perfect guide to activities that will get you in the Olympic spirit. Vancouver’s most famous urban space is the thousand-acre Stanley Park that epitomizes everything locals love about the outdoors. Test your endurance on a hiking trail or rent a bike and peddle your way along the scenic seawall. If you prefer getting active near the sea and sand, Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach and English Bay Beach are both popular hangouts that offer active experiences like paddleboarding, kayaking and volleyball!
Last but certainly not least, who could forget the amazing 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing? Characterized by such monuments as the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square, the Chinese capital is known as both a modern metropolis as well as a home for ancient wonders. As such, there was no doubt about Beijing’s ability to be the perfect host. You can visit some of Beijing’s most famous monuments on the “Beijing and the Forbidden City” EXC Tour. On this daylong adventure, you will be guided through the walls of the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and the aforementioned Tiananmen Square. While at Beijing, you can also visit the site of the 2008 Summer Olympics at the Olympic Green Village. There, you can see the famed Beijing National Stadium as well as the other official Olympic facilities. For those looking forward to future Olympic games, mark your calendars! Beijing will play host once again to the 2022 Winter Olympics!
This is just a small sample of Olympic host cities visited on Holland America Line cruises. Book a cruise that includes one of these ports and you also can experience Olympic history: Amsterdam, Holland; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Sochi, Russia; Tokyo, Japan; Stockholm, Sweden; Antwerp, Belgium; Rome, Italy; and Melbourne, Australia.