The 2016 Grand World Voyage was an epic 115-day cruise to far-off lands and gorgeous locales. It’s hard to believe that two weeks ago it came to an end, and those who called Amsterdam home for four months returned to their regular lives. During the journey, Amsterdam hosted some of our regular cruisers who documented their time in both photos and words.
Jeff Farschman, President’s Club member and World Adventure blogger, came back for his 10th Grand World Voyage, and he was joined by familiar names like Jan and Dick Yetke, Gary and Jeanne Frink, and Gerogina and Humberto Cruz. Captain Mercer also charted his way around the world on his own blog!
Enjoy some of the most beautiful ports from the Grand World Voyage. See where the ship visited since the last blog post and enjoy the grand adventures that our guests had ashore.
We went over to the southwest coast to visit Tanah Lot temple, a magnificent house of worship perched precariously on a huge rock resting just off of the coastline. There was another temple at the same area that we visited also. The rice fields are beautiful. We had a wonderful day on Bali, even though we cut it short due to the torrential rains. — Jan and Dick
At Semarang, the ship was greeted with some fanfare! Captain Mercer’s wife Karen snapped photos of the festivities.
The Honour Guard of Merchant Navy cadets and Officers who I had the pleasure of inspecting; they carried swords and raised them in salute as I and the Port captain walked between them. — Captain Mercer
After the festivities, the captain was off on a brief adventure ashore to the Sam Po Kong Chinese temple, built in honor of a Chinese emissary who landed in Semarang in 1401.
HONG KONG, CHINA:
In this, one of the world’s top three scenic ports, we were up early to watch our entrance. We had a big bonus on our Grand World Voyage: an extended visit of three days in this spectacular city! We explored via the convenient hop-on/hop-off Big Bus, for this was our fourth visit and had toured extensively before. And yet, we always find something we have not seen: this time was the new Hong Kong Observation Wheel that debuted in December of 2014 offering breathtaking views of the city’s skyscrapers, Victoria Harbour and Victoria Peak. Other highlights of our visit included a visit to Sky100, an indoor observation deck on the 100th floor of the International Commerce Centre; a traditional sampan ride, and a visit to Stanley Market, one of Hong Kong’s legendary markets. — Georgina
In addition to the nightly Symphony of Lights spectacle that we could watch right from the Amsterdam, the ship’s wonderful pianist, Debby Bacon, gave a concert under the stars one evening and we were treated to a Chinese cultural show onboard featuring traditional musicians, the Dragon Dance and a master “face changing” artist. — Georgina
Jeff also went exploring during the three-day call. He went to the Shatin Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery and then onto the Chi Lin Nunnery.
First of all, there are way more than 10,000 Buddhas at the Shatin Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, and secondly what a climb…. it’s a testy one for sure … We certainly enjoyed the sights here, so many Buddhas…all donated. It is a pretty unique place to visit in Hong Kong but be prepared for a fair amount of exercise. Great visit! — Jeff
Jeff and his group enjoyed Myanmar so much last year that they flew there again from the ship this year, deviating from the World Cruise itinerary.
An early morning pickup by the Balloons of Bagan shuttle bus for our long anticipated hot air balloon ride. We watched as the crew prepared the balloon for the thrilling launch. The weather conditions were perfect as we flew over Bagan for one and a half hours enjoying spectacular views of the hundreds of ancient temples. What a wonderful start to our Bagan experience and topped off by a celebratory toast by Javier our Spanish pilot for Ann’s birthday. — Jeff
HAMBANTOTA, SRI LANKA
This maiden call afforded all of the guests the opportunity for some new experiences. Jan and Dick went on the Yala National Park Nature Reserve ship tour.
While Jeff and his group explored outside of Mucat at Nakhl Fort and Oasis, Captain Mercer, his wife and friends went ashore to spend a couple of hours making their way through the maze of the souk. Gary and Jeanne took a ship tour and walked on the sands of the Arabian desert. Each captured their time ashore, showing what a vibrant and beautiful place this is.
AQUABA (PETRA), JORDAN:
Today was an exciting day for me … My friend Vlad, whom I met on the 50 Day Tales of the South Pacific Voyage last fall, picked me up early this morning in Aqaba. We had a big day planned for Petra, the Rose City built by the Nabataean Society in the 4th century B.C. We travelled northeast to Petra, admiring the amazing scenery along the way as we passed the Wadi Rum desert. Our main goal was to climb the cliffs of this UNESCO World Heritage site. We made the trek through the winding sandstone canyon known as the Siq to the first most famous site, the Treasury. Every time I visit Petra I am amazed by this impressive jaw-dropping grandeur. — Jeff
ASHDOD (JERUSALEM), ISRAEL:
For our second visit to Jerusalem we choose an 8-1/2 hour program called Jerusalem Old & New … The highlight was a two-and-a-half-hour walking tour of the Old City where the air itself seems thick with prayers. We took in such sights as the Mount of Olives with panoramic views of the Old City with the golden Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount; walked along part of the Via Dolorosa, believed to be the way Jesus took to the crucifixion; and visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Christianity’s most sacred shrine, and the Western Wall, the remnants of the Holy Temple and holiest site in the Jewish world. We had a lovely lunch and visit at the Israel Museum, home of the Dead Sea — Georgina
I lived here in the mid 70s and it’s always nice to return even though Greece is hardly recognizable as a country from the old days. Our first stop was the impressive architectural feat … the Acropolis. We climbed the 230 feet above the city for an awesome view below. We passed Constitution Square, the original Olympic Stadium and the National Gardens. Our next stop was the Temple of Olympian Zeus and a quick walk to the Hadrian’s Arch. Before stopping for lunch we visited the Tower of the Winds, the Roman marketplace and Hadrian’s library. A great day, with wonderful sites and food!!! — Jeff
From Athens, Jan and Dick decided to head out and explore on their own, taking a car from Athens to the next port of Katakolon, meeting the ship the next day. To get to Katakolon, they crossed over the Corinth Canal.
MONTE CARLO, MONACO:
We have visited this super-chic Riviera enclave a half-dozen times, but never tire of its fairy-tale-like ambiance and glamour. We took the hop-on/hop-off bus to get around easily, making stops on this trip at the Prince’s Palace for the daily Changing of the Guard ceremony at 11:55 a.m.; the Cathedral where Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly were married and are buried, and the Oceanographic Museum, where Jacques Cousteau was once a director. As always, after spending a day in this tiny and gorgeous Principality, we left hungering for more. — Georgina and Humberto
Our final port on the 2016 World Cruise is a wonderful place to finish up. Funchal is the vibrant capital of Madeira, a sub-tropical island in the Atlantic Ocean about 600 miles southwest of Lisbon. Madeira’s abundance of colorful and exotic flora is apparent in the areas many parks and gardens. Ann and I wandered the Old Town before taking a cable car for a stunning overview of the city and the botanical gardens. It is hard to believe this is our final port of call and the past seven months on the Amsterdam has nearly come to an end. Until we meet again, I would like to bid farewell to all my friends on the high seas … thank you for making my 10th World Cruise a memorable one!!! — Jeff
Amsterdam departed Funchal and crossed the Atlantic Ocean, ending the Grand World Voyage at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. If these images make you want to take a world cruise yourself, the 2017 Grand World Voyage is open for booking! We hope to see you onboard.