For centuries, historians and archaeologists have been puzzled over the many mysteries of Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument that took Neolithic builders an estimated 1,500 years to erect. Stonehenge has been called the “world’s most famous prehistoric monument” and has become a key fixture on many traveler’s bucket lists.
One of the most special and popular times to visit Stonehenge is around June 20 for the northern summer solstice — or when the sun’s path stops moving northward in the sky, marking the day in which the days stop growing longer and will soon begin to shorten again. Celebrations at Stonehenge have marked this holiday for centuries, and Holland America Line makes it possible to combine a visit to Stonehenge during the summer solstice and a cruise with the Iconic Events 14-day Stonehenge Solstice cruise on Zuiderdam.
The cruise departs Copenhagen, Denmark, one of the easiest European capitals to fall in love with. While there, make sure to not miss the chance to snag a picture of “The Little Mermaid” statue. After a sea day, the cruise moves westward and arrives at Amsterdam, The Netherlands, for an overnight visit.
Over the years Amsterdam has developed a reputation as one of Europe’s most inviting and laid back cities. While exploring at a relaxed pace, guests should head to the historic city center where you’ll find some of the world’s top art museums, including the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. Since the cruise will be in town for the night, guests should also make their way to Dam Square to tour the Royal Palace before continuing to the tourist attractions on the Canal Belt. After Amsterdam, the cruise stops at Zeebrugge (Brussels), Belgium, and Le Havre (Paris) and Cherbourg (Normandy), France. The ship has an 11 p.m. departure from Le Havre so guests can enjoy the enchanting city of Paris, and a call at Cherbourg allows for a moving visit to the American Cemetery overlooking WWII’s Omaha Beach.
Zuiderdam then reaches Southampton (London), England, for an overnight call to experience the summer solstice at Stonehenge.
While at Southampton, Holland America Line makes it easy for guests to enjoy the Stonehenge summer solstice with two EXC Tour options: Solstice Sunset Stonehenge Transfer on June 20, or the Solstice Sunrise Stonehenge Transfer on June 21. Both shore excursions provide the unique opportunity for an up-close look at the Neolithic site while being surrounded by a positive and free-flowing celebration. The two excursions only differ in whether you prefer a sunrise or sunset experience at Stonehenge. While at Southampton guests also can choose to explore London’s multiple attractions.
From Southampton, the cruise moves northward at St. Peter Port, Guernsey, and after a sea day, arrives at South Queensferry (Edinburgh), Scotland. A key attraction that dominates the skyline in Edinburgh is Edinburgh Castle. While at the castle’s rock, a visit to St. Margaret’s Chapel should not be skipped. The site is believed to have been the place where Queen Margaret of Scotland worshipped. In addition to the castle and chapel, Edinburgh proudly displays multiple exhibits on national and international scientific achievements at the National Museum of Scotland, as well as some fantastic works of visual art at the National Galleries of Scotland.
From Edinburgh, the cruise heads northward to Invergordon (Inverness), Scotland, for an exploration of Loch Ness before returning to Copenhagen for the end of the sailing.
If you’re looking to extend the cruise, take a look at the 24-day Baltic Adventure & Stonehenge Solstice Collectors’ Voyage that combines the Summer Solstice cruise with a Baltic Adventure itinerary.
The Collectors’ Voyage begins on June 3, 2018, at Copenhagen, Denmark, and guests in-transit have the opportunity to indulge in one of Holland America Line’s new culinary-themed EXC Tours with Food & Wine. During the “Smørrebrød – The Art of Sandwich Making” EXC Tour, you’ll learn to make rye bread and a variety of seasonal and traditional toppings for the Danish delicacy of open-faced sandwiches. While dining on these culinary creations, the concept of hygge or the Danish mantra for “coziness” will be discussed.
After a sea day, the cruise visits charming Tallinn, Estonia, before reaching St. Petersburg, Russia, for two nights. Famed Russian poet and playwright Alexander Pushkin called St. Petersburg, Russia’s “window to Europe” and it’s easy to see why. Among the tourist attractions, the Hermitage is the city’s most famous — as it is one of the world’s greatest art museums and the largest museum in the world-with almost three million objects collected in five buildings. Performing arts also abound: Many of Russia’s greatest ballets, plays and operas have premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre. Nearby, the summer residences of the czars, including Peterhof, are dazzling gilded Baroque palaces perfect for sightseeing.
After two nights at St. Petersburg, the cruise moves westward and reaches Finland’s capital of Helsinki before calling at Stockholm, Sweden. Spread over more than a dozen islands linked by bridges, the Swedish capital of Stockholm is one of the most effortlessly enjoyable cities in Europe. After a sea day, the cruise reaches German shores at Warnëmunde (Berlin) and Kiel (Hamburg), Germany, before returnign to Copenhagen.
Along with the 24-day Baltic Adventure & Stonehenge Solstice departing on June 3, 2018, travelers can instead to choose to depart Copenhagen for the 24-day Baltic Adventure & Stonehenge Solstice sailing on June 13, 2018, that visits Stonehenge first, then the Baltic region.
Interested in partaking in the solstice celebrations at Stonehenge? Book today to not miss out on this iconic event by heading to Holland America Line website or by consulting your travel professional.