Holland America Line cruises make their way around the world 365 days a year visiting all seven continents. Whether guests are onboard or on land, they have the opportunity to view some of the most spectacular natural phenomena on Earth.
Interacting with local people is eye opening, visiting historical sights is fascinating and tasting traditional cuisine is exciting. But there’s nothing quite like a vibrant, orange sunset or an outstretched rainbow above a waterfall to remind us what a beautiful world we live in. So we’ve gathered up a list of 10 awe-inspiring natural occurrences that can be experienced both on board and off a Holland America Line ship. These experiences definitely deserve a spot on your bucket list!
1. The Perfect View Of A Rare Solar Eclipse on Volendam in 2016
A few times a year, the sun and moon align ever-so-perfectly to create a solar eclipse. At least twice a year the moon will line up between Earth and the sun, blocking the sunlight from directly shining on Earth. A total solar eclipse looks like a dark circle in the sky, which is actually the moon, surrounded by a ring of beaming white light coming from the sun. However, most times only a partial solar eclipse is seen.
In 2016, Volendam will sail a 16-day Indonesian Explorer and Solar Eclipse cruise, perfectly positioned in the Makassar Strait to witness the spectacular beauty of the March 9 total solar eclipse in the western Pacific. Guests will experience the eclipse as former “Sky & Telescope” editors, an astronomer and a geologist offer talks and tips on how to view and photograph the eclipse. Weather permitting, the ship will be positioned right on the eclipse centerline. It’s not too late to book this exciting roundtrip Singapore voyage and be on-hand for this incredible opportunity.
Below are some snapshots from the rare total solar eclipse seen on Oosterdam in 2012 while sailing the Coral Sea in northern Australia.
Holland America ships are the perfect viewing platform for an eclipse. With no tall buildings or mountains to hinder a view of the sky, the endless ocean sets an ideal stage with our guests in the front row!
2. See Sultry Sunsets at Sea
Whether you’re lounging on the deck of your favorite ship, sitting on a white Caribbean shore or gazing out over an Alaskan mountain range, the sunsets caught on our cruises always bid the perfect farewell to an adventurous day. Gazing at the sunset is a favorite pastime of our guests. The bright orange-and-blue sky stages a perfect backdrop to the sun as it slowly falls beneath the dark horizon. Our ships offer the best views as this fantastic show unfolds each evening over the infinite ocean.
[This was taken on] a two week cruise on the Statendam. We had the most wonderful vacation! Thank you, staff … you know how to make us feel welcome. On the second night (cruising Vancouver Island) we had the most glorious sunset. It was after I took the picture, that I saw the Dragon in the Sky … stunning. Thank you again, for a marvelous trip! — Guest Neva Franks
3. Start Your Day With A Sunrise
Early risers are in for a special treat! Similar to the sunset in appearance, there’s something a little different about the sunrise.
Orange and red slowly blends into a dark blue sky like watercolors on a canvas. The air is calm and quiet in the middle of the ocean without a building in sight. Guests sit peacefully on deck, watching the light enter the sky to welcome a fresh, new day. It’s truly a beautiful natural occurrence that’s not to be missed.
4. Keep Your Eyes Peeled For The Green Flash
Speaking of sunrises and sunsets, have you heard about the green flash? Most commonly seen as the sun sets over the ocean, cruisers who carefully watch the last sliver fall beneath the horizon can sometimes catch a glimpse of a green flash.
This spectacular optical phenomenon can only happen when the conditions are just right, which typically means clear air and stable seas. The flash is caused from rays of light scattering and separating into different colors. So if you find yourself admiring the sunset on deck, keep your eyes peeled for the flash as it only lasts a second or two!
5. Find Simple Pleasure In A Colorful Rainbow
Rainbows are among life’s most eye-catching natural effects. When sunlight and moisture in the air combine in just the right way, the light from the sun separates into many different colors creating a beautiful arch.
One place in particular is especially good for viewing rainbows … Iguazu Falls! From the port in Buenos Aires, Argentina, guests have the opportunity to board a flight to the northern tip of the country. This massive cascading chain of 250 waterfalls is considered a Wonder of the World for a good reason. Twice the height of Niagara Falls, the Iguazu Falls crash 260 feet down in a thunderous roar. If the waterfalls aren’t enough to take your breath away, the beautiful rainbows laced in the hovering mist surely will!
6. Glaciers Are The Coolest!
Massive, all-surrounding and vibrantly blue, glaciers never cease to leave our guests wide-eyed. In places like Alaska and Antarctica where it snows year-round, snow accumulates as it falls into compressed layers, and then eventually crystallizes and transforms into ice causing a glacier’s formation.
For the best glacier viewing, we recommend a cruise to Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska during the summer months. This breathtaking journey sails through a passage of ice-blue glaciers that surround your ship on all sides. Watch as chunks of ice split off and thunder into the seas, shooting water hundreds of feet into the air. And it shouldn’t take long to see it happen – Glacier Bay has more actively calving tidewater glaciers than anyplace else in the world!
7. Stromboli Glows Red-Hot
In almost constant eruption for the past 2,000 years, Stromboli lies off the coast of northern Sicily in all its natural glory. Nicknamed the Lighthouse of the Mediterranean, Stromboli is an active volcano with many minor eruptions year round, and our cruises in the region often pass by for scenic cruising.
These eruptions are best seen from the island’s surrounding seas. While still breathtaking in daylight, those who catch a glimpse at night see an even more brilliant show. Its red-hot lava is most clearly seen gracefully bubbling out the volcano’s upper rim against a black night sky.
8. Leaves Change Their Vibrant Color
One of nature’s most beloved magic tricks happens each year when summer comes to a close and cooler temperatures creep into the air. We say “goodbye” to hues of green and “hello” to orange, red and yellow.
The fall color change is due to a breakdown in leaves’ chlorophyll when the weather gets cold. Chlorophyll is the natural chemical that gives leaves their green color, so as it breaks down, a leaf’s natural yellows, oranges and reds can be seen.
Guests who cruise to Canada and New England with us experience the best of this annual show of color. Engulf yourself in vivid fall hues at Acadia National Park or explore the lush, rolling hills of Saguenay. With dozens of options on Veendam, Zuiderdam and Rotterdam in 2016, the gorgeous colors await.
9. Hear Thunder Hole’s Booming Roar
Also in Canada lies the appropriately named Thunder Hole. Located in Acadia National Park, Thunder Hole is where the waves come crashing against Canada’s rocky coast as the tides rise.
As the water comes in, the waves lose their smooth, gentle roll and become frothy white monsters, majestically crashing into the rock in a thunderous roar. It’s a loud, regal and beautiful site for all who get the chance to see it!
Many of our cruises to Canada and New England stop at Bar Harbor where guests have an opportunity to visit Acadia National Park and experience the breathtaking scene that is Thunder Hole.
10. The Northern Lights Wash The Sky In Color
A dazzling dance of color in the sky can be witnessed at the North Pole, and it’s known as the Northern Lights. Lighted shades of green, pink and blue mix and meld to create this spectacular show, and the best place to view it is from the deck of a Holland America Line ship.
This awe-inspiring natural occurrence happens when charged particles from the sun penetrate the earth’s magnetic shield causing electrons in the atoms to move to a higher state of energy. When the electrons drop back down to a lower state of energy, they release what’s called a photon, which are the lights we witness in the sky.
If you dream of experiencing the Northern Lights, we offer many itineraries that head into the Arctic Circle of northern Europe like the 21-Day Viking Sagas & North Cape cruise.
The world is a vast and beautiful place with so much adventure in store. There’s nothing quite like experiencing these natural phenomena to awe, inspire and remind us what a beautiful planet it is that we call our home.
If you’re ready to come on board and seek out the green flash or Northern Lights, check out our 2016 cruises. With our new View & Verandah promotion, now is the perfect time to book. We’re offering stateroom upgrades, up to 10 percent off shore excursions and up to 25 percent off Collectors’ Voyages on 2016-2017 sailings when booked by Feb. 29, 2016!
Have you seen any of the natural occurrences we mentioned? Tell us which ones in the comments below!