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Explore 45 Ports in 114 Days on the 2015 Grand World Voyage

When ms Amsterdam departs Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Jan. 5, 2015, the cruise will span 114 days and call at 45 ports in 25 countries on six continents.

Offering a refined and elegant “home away from home,” the Grand World Voyage is the pinnacle in travel and the grandest of all cruises.

Imagine nothing but expanding horizons laid out ahead as you embark on the adventure of a lifetime! The journey begins as the ship pulls away from Fort Lauderdale and veers South. You’ll stop at Santa Maria, Colombia, and San Blas Islands, Panama, before transiting the Panama Canal, one of the seven wonders of the modern world. This feat of engineering is celebrating its centennial this year.

Upon exiting the Panama Canal the ship continues northwest, crosses the equator and calls at Manta, Ecuador, before heading to the South Pacific. Enjoy leisurely days at sea as the ship makes its way from one region to the next. Whether you like to rise with the sun and take laps around the deck or sleep in and ordering room service, sea days are a fabulous time to do whatever pleases you most.

Bora Bora is known for beautiful beaches like Motu Islet Lagoon.

Bora Bora is known for beautiful beaches like Motu Islet Lagoon.

Next on the horizon is French Polynesia. Calls include Nuku Hiva, an overnight at Papeete (the port of Tahiti) and iconic Bora Bora. You’ll be amazed by the dramatic volcanic mountains, rich, bright flora and sparkling blue waters of paradise – in fact, when you think of paradise it’s most likely French Polynesia that comes to mind. One lovely excursion in the region is the Motu Islet Lagoon Cruise & Beach Break that takes you by boat to the less-traveled eastern side of Bora Bora for snorkeling and sunbathing on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.

Phil, a Holland America Line guest from Ottawa, Canada, took the excursion and said:

“The highlight is a stop at a breathtaking motu (small island), with soft beaches and coconut trees, surrounded by warm, turquoise water. Water shoes are definitely recommended because of the surrounding coral. The motu also offers excellent views of the mountains of Bora Bora, so don’t forget your camera. After a swim, the tour operators spread a table with delicious fresh tropical fruit, bottled water, etc…”

Next you’ll call at Rarotonga, Cook Islands, with miles of white sand beaches, glittering lagoons and volcanic peaks covered in lush vegetation; Alofi, Niue, believed to be the world’s largest upraised coral atoll; and Nuku’Alofa, the only country in the South Pacific that has never been colonized.

Then it’s off to Australia and New Zealand for the month of February. An overnight at Auckland, New Zealand, one of the loveliest cities in the world, allows ample time to explore the “City of Sails.” Do you want to enjoy a truly remarkable experience? Try heading out on an America’s Cup yacht!

Captain Mercer has been in command of Amsterdam on the past several Grand World Voyages, and his blog posts have offered delightful insight into the way the world as seen through an eyes of an expert seaman. On the 2013 Grand World Voyage, he took some time to go ashore at Auckland and brought his camera with him.

I chose to go to the island of Waiheke, 20 minutes away and, according to my New Zealand officer, a must-do. He wasn’t wrong, breathtaking scenery, beautiful beaches and, several vineyards for the island is home to some of New Zealand’s best wineries.

Captain Mercer's photos of Amsterdam at New Zealand and the Mudbrick Winery on Waiheke Island.

Captain Mercer’s photos of Amsterdam at New Zealand and the Mudbrick Winery on Waiheke Island.

Continue to explore the land down under with overnights at Sydney — recently named the number one “Bucketlist” destination by Holland America Line Facebook fans — and Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. Adelaide is a cosmopolitan city, beautifully laid out with fascinating museums and architecture. It is also home to Cleland Wildlife Park, 172 acres of picturesque bushland where people and animals meet. There you can observe the kangaroos, wallabies and emus running free and get up close with koalas.

Go kangaroo watching at Cleland Wildlife Park!

Go kangaroo watching at Cleland Wildlife Park!

After making your way around Australia you’ll head toward Southeast Asia by way of Indonesia. An overnight at Bali provides a unique view into an intimate fishing village with a striking coastline. Breeze through Jakarta and cross the equator to Singapore on your way to Malaysia and Thailand. Then it’s on to the ancient temples and pagodas of Myanmar.

From there ms Amsterdam, your well-acquainted home away from home, veers north towards the subcontinent of India. Mumbai, another overnight Port of call, presents itself in two distinct ways. First is the ancient religious India you see at Elephanta Island. Lying about 6 miles south of Mumbai, the hilly island contains a network of caves that Hindu and Buddhist artisans have sculpted over the last 1,500 years into monuments to their faiths. Second is the British colonial India manifest in the Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus. The railway station is the busiest in India and its architecture a mixture of high Victorian gothic and Indian palace. Both the caves and the railway are UNESCO World Heritage Sites; the city itself is merely the pulsing economic and cultural dynamo of the world’s most populous country.

Another exceptional opportunity from Mumbai is an overland tour to the Taj Mahal. On the 2014 Grand World Voyage, freelance writer Georgina Cruz and her husband Humberto took part in this adventure.

Lying at the heart of Agra, the Taj Mahal is also its soul. Built in the 17th century by Emperor Shah Jahan, it is a white marble memorial to his beloved wife, Muntaz Mahal. It took 20,000 workers 22 years to complete and was designed and planned by Persian architect Ustad Isa .. Its luminosity reminded me of the mysterious, also luminous quality of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa’s smile, captivating and breathtaking. We just drank it all in, along with its gardens, reflecting pool and fountains and the incessant flow of humanity, clad in various garbs, that made its way to and from the monument…

In addition to the Taj Mahal, left, Georgina and Humbero visited the Agra Fort on their overland tour.

In addition to the Taj Mahal, left, Georgina and Humbero visited the Agra Fort on their overland tour.

From there it’s on to Dubai and Oman before transiting the Suez Canal — gateway to the Mediterranean. Calls along the way include Safaga and Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, and Agana (the port of Petra), Jordan. The last stop is historical port of Alexandria, Egypt from where you can head out for a day at the Giza Pyramids, Sphinx & the Pyramid of Sakkara!

Let your imagination run wild in Egypt.

Let your imagination run wild in Egypt.

The Great Pyramid of Cheops is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and is said to have 2.3 million stone blocks, each one weighing 2.5 tons. What makes these statistics truly astonishing is that the pyramids of Giza were built around 2500 BC. Continue to see the mysterious Sphinx. With the face of a man and the body of a lion, the Sphinx has puzzled travelers for centuries with its inscrutable expression. It looks to the sun rising in the east, is carved from natural rock and measures 190 feet long by 66 feet tall. This site is certainly something to check off your travel “bucketlist.”

The Suez Canal opens into the Mediterranean Sea. Whether the sights, sounds and flavors of the Med are new to you or a familiar sight, you’re sure to love calls at Kusadasi, Turkey, and overnights at Piraeus (the port of Athens) and Katakolon, Greece. On to the western Mediterranean where you can eat your heart out in Naples and Rome, Italy, and get your dancing shoes ready for Spain. The ship calls at Cartagena, Malaga and Cadiz, recently referred to as “Spain’s Happy Hearty Soul” by journalist Bridget Freer.

Three calls in Portugal remain before ms Amsterdam completes the circumnavigation with a transatlantic crossing to Fort Lauderdale. Several days at sea allow you the opportunity to enjoy the ship and reflect on the incredible journey. It’s a great time to enjoy the Culinary Arts Center or take a Digital Workshop Powered by Windows class that helps you to best document your experience – whether by blogging or editing your precious photos.

Bob and Kerrell Lincoln are Holland America Line five-star mariners who have completed some incredible cruises, including two Grand World Voyages. On each cruise they report on every port of call, sharing their experience with friends and family back home. At the end of their 2011 Grand World Voyage they shared these lovely sentiments:

We reminisce about the amazing places and people we have experienced all around the world both on the ship and ashore, and, are filled with a profound sense of gratitude for the blessings fate has bestowed upon us … Serene elegance characterized our life aboard ship. Super-friendly staff, great stage shows, and gourmet food prevailed throughout. Thanks also to the many ‘ship buddies’ who shared with us their time aboard ship, and, their adventures ashore – every moment enriching the pleasure of our experience.

Our ship’s Travel Guide, Barbara, asks us to list the seven most memorable ports-of-call – a daunting task.

We see a difference between ‘instructional’ versus ‘pleasurable’ ports. Blending those two criteria, here is our current list:

1. Petra, Jordon: Construction method; Architecture Style; Rock Colours
2. Athens, Greece: Acropolis – a world-changing culture
3. Naples, Italy: Amalfi Coast – fantastic coastal scenery
4. Kusadasi, Turkey: A changed paradigm of the lives of ‘ancients’
5. Funchal, Madeira: Fantastic high-mountain scenery
6. Dead Sea, Masada, Israel: A ‘high’ for us – i.e. the ‘lowest point on earth’.
7. Kochi, India: Royal Treatment on Alleppey Backwaters Houseboat

However … every one of our ports-of-call will remain as a treasured memory: perhaps because of the joy of sharing with family or friends; or, perhaps because of great natural or man-made beauty; or, perhaps because of a worldly lesson taught by the visit.

We LOVED this cruise and are sad it has come to its end! We console ourselves with anticipation of the next time we have the pleasure of seeing you. Further, we look forward to ‘the next grand cruising adventure’.

From fjords and glaciers to deserts and ruins Bob and Kerrell Lincoln have seen the world with Holland America Line.

From fjords and glaciers to deserts and ruins Bob and Kerrell Lincoln have seen the world with Holland America Line.

To read more about Bob and Kerrell’s adventures with Holland America Line visit their blog, Bob & Kerrell Lincoln Reports.

Like any Holland America Line Grand Voyage, the Grand World Voyage is available to take in its entirety or in segments. Whatever the case, it is an incredible opportunity to take in all seven continents and see firsthand the incredible diversity — in both landscape and culture — that makes this world such a beautiful place. Shore excursions are available to pre-book so you can plan ahead and enjoy the most out of your leisure time.

Have you experienced a Grand World Voyage before? We’d love to hear about your experience! Send your favorite stories and photos to info@hollandamericablog.com to be featured in social media.

1 Comment
  • travelblog

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    I really like all the points you have made.

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