A cruise to Europe with Holland America Line is a dream vacation for many travelers. It’s the ideal way to see many countries and visit several places without having to unpack more than once. The ships conveniently go from city to city without the need for a plane, train or automobile ride.
All Holland America Line cruises start and end in exciting cities unto themselves, and unless passengers come a few days early or stay a few days after the cruise, they might miss out on seeing some spectacular sights. Guests who want to extend their time before or after their cruise can enjoy a Holland America Line pre- or post-cruise vacation package or hotel stay.
Two of the most popular embarkation and disembarkation ports are Copenhagen, Denmark, and Barcelona, Spain. Rich in history, architecture, culture, art and culinary excellence, these two cities are not to be missed.
In Copenhagen, guests who want to explore northern Europe can take the four-night Majestic Norway vacation package. Here is a breakdown of the pre-cruise itinerary so you can see all of the exciting activities. The post-cruise package operates in reverse.
Day 1, Arrive Bergen, Norway: Transfer to your hotel, then explore Bergen on your own. This evening you will join your fellow travelers for an included welcome dinner. Overnight in Bergen.
Day 2, Bergen: Enjoy breakfast, then travel to Troldhaugen where you will tour the former home of famed composer Edvard Grieg and his wife Nina. Troldhaugen consists of the composer’s 19th century home, a small composer’s hut overlooking Nordås Lake, the concert hall of Troldsalen and a museum dedicated to Grieg and his music. After your tour, return to your hotel. The afternoon and evening is free for you to explore Bergen’s many attractions: the Fish Market, the Hanseatic wharf of Bryggen, the Fløbanen Funicular that travels to the top of Fløien Mountain, or one of the city’s many museums. Overnight in Bergen.
Day 3, Bergen/Norway in a Nutshell/Oslo: Enjoy breakfast, then travel by motor coach to Gudvangen for the beginning of your “Norway in a Nutshell” experience. You will travel by ferry to Flåm through Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord, considered to be among the most scenic fjord areas on the planet. Nærøyfjord has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005. Then, take the Flåm Railway, the steepest standard gauge railway in Europe, from Flåm to Myrdal, and then another train on to Oslo. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Oslo.
Day 4, Oslo and Ferry to Copenhagen: Enjoy breakfast, then take a city tour, including entrance to the Viking Ship Museum. Afterward, transfer to the pier to board your overnight ferry to Copenhagen. You will stay in an outside cabin while on board. Overnight on the ferry.
Day 5, Copenhagen/Bon Voyage: Indulge in breakfast on board the ferry, then depart on a city tour, including entrance to Rosenborg Castle. Afterward, transfer to your ship for embarkation.
Guests who simply want to explore Copenhagen a few days before or after their cruise with no additional touring can book a hotel stay with Holland America Line. Visit for up to three days and stay at the Palace Hotel Copenhagen. Step off your flight or cruise ship directly onto a waiting motorcoach for a seamless travel experience. All of your luggage will be handled by Holland America Line.
Palace Hotel Copenhagen is a central hotel 15 minutes from the airport conveniently located in historic Town Hall square in the heart of Copenhagen. Newly renovated, the Palace Hotel Copenhagen features a sophisticated, contemporary design with classic charm. Visit nearby Tivoli Gardens and Copenhagen’s popular shopping street, Strøget, and enjoy fine dining at the hotel or at a nearby restaurant.
One of the other great cities in Europe is Barcelona, Spain. With a Catalan flavor, today it is a global capital of commerce, fashion, culture, and sunshine (the city gets about 300 days of it a year). With so much to do and see, this is a city that is more than deserving of a few extra days spent sightseeing and exploring.
Here is an outline of the three-night pre- and post-cruise Barcelona & Catalan Countryside vacation.
Day 1, Barcelona: Arrive at Barcelona and transfer to your hotel, enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. For ideas on what to do, read back on a post by Mary Schimmelman, Holland America Line’s senior manager of social media, who visited Barcelona on a cruise aboard Eurodam. She had a great time visiting Rambla de Mar and l ’Aquarium de Barcelona, the city’s impressive aquarium.
Day 2, Barcelona: A half-day guided tour of the city begins with a walk through the old Gothic Quarter. Continuing along the Paseo de Gracia, lined with the city’s most fashionable shops, arrive at the crown jewel of Barcelona architecture – Antoni Gaudi’s glorious half-finished La Sagrada Familia. Finally, panoramic city and harbor views await at Montjuic, with the Olympic Rings and Olympic Stadium along the way.
These are the doors at one of the facades of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. My daughter, Madeleine, who was 13 at the time, took the photo. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do! — Tonya Monnot
Day 3, Catalan Countryside: Today’s all-day tour takes you to the heart of wine country and a visit to famed Torres vintners, capped off with a tasting of five typical Torres wines. Next, in Montserrat visit the monastery where the Black Madonna of Montserrat is found. After a taste of the area’s typical liquor, “ratafia,” board the motor coach for the return to Barcelona.
Day 4, Barcelona: Transfer to the pier where your ship awaits or to the airport if this is a post-cruise package.
Guests looking to visit Barcelona on their own can chose a hotel stay up to three days pre- or post-cruise. The beautiful Melia Barcelona Sarrià is the featured Holland America Line hotel.
The completely renovated Meliá Barcelona Sarrià, in the cultural and commercial heart of the city, is a few minutes from Avenida Diagonal and the Paseo de Gracia. Enjoy a quiet stroll through the historic streets of Gaudí’s City, while discovering the best restaurants and shopping areas, including the famous Illa de Barcelona and Las Ramblas.
What city is more your style? The charming northern Europe capital of Copenhagen or the colorful playground of Barcelona? Tell us in the comments below.