A Grand World Voyage is like a bountiful Chinese wedding banquet where you are served copious appetizers, entrees, desserts – and then when you think you are done, they bring you soup, tea, sweets and more.
The 2014 Treasures of the World Grand World Voyage of the Amsterdam was our second circumnavigation – our first one in 2012, which took us to all seven continents, was so wonderful that we booked the same ship, the Amsterdam, and the same stateroom (#2590, an oceanview cabin which was our comfortable home at sea). The only difference was the route the Amsterdam took in 2014: mostly along the tropical belt of the planet (instead of venturing down to Antarctica, where we’d already been twice) and taking the Panama Canal instead of the Suez Canal (which we had already crossed twice). This was exactly what we wanted and gave us opportunities for first-time visits to such intriguing spots as Namibia and Fiji and idylls like the Seychelles, and for return visits to such exciting locales as Hong Kong, Sydney and Singapore. Here then are some delightful “tastes” of the veritable “banquet” we enjoyed during our second world cruise:
Well, though I’m calling these “appetizers,” they were as satisfying as full entrées. I’m listing them here because they, like appetizers, came at the beginning of our “meal” – our splendid voyage – and whetted our appetite for the adventures to follow.
We started off with a stop in Costa Rica, visiting the Veragua Rainforest Eco-Adventure (zip-lining, anyone?), about an hour away from the pier in Puerto Limon (we particularly enjoyed taking the aerial tram to spot monkeys and sloths and a visit to the Butterfly House with breathtaking blue morphos). Then we crossed the Panama Canal, a marvel celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The Canal allows lucky passengers to view the sunrise in the Caribbean and the sunset in the Pacific on the same day. Stops in Manta, Ecuador, and Callao for Lima, Peru, gave us opportunities to get a taste of South America in colonial cities and archeological sites. An Archeological Day In Lima, a shipboard-bought tour, took us to visit pyramids from the ancient Lima culture.
At Easter Island, an enigma awaited: the world-famous moai, Polynesian-style statues, sometimes called the “big heads” of this tiny island in the middle of the Pacific, that may have been erected as part of a cult to honor ancestors. The “big heads” are like icebergs with only the top of the statue showing and the rest merely buried underground by earthquakes and other ravages of time and the elements.
Three days in French Polynesia were simply heavenly. In cruise-passenger-friendly Tahiti, it was such a pleasure to go for strolls in Papeete with such points of interest near the cruise pier as the colorful market, Marche du Papeete; the red-steepled Church of the Immaculate Conception, and the seaside promenade that recalls those of French Riviera towns. In green-clad Moorea we booked an overwater thatched-roof bungalow at the Moorea Pearl Resort & Spa – descending steps on the deck of our bungalow we felt the warm embrace of the lagoon filled with coral and tropical fish. And in idyllic Bora Bora we did the same, heading for the Four Seasons Bora Bora on a “motu” (islet) in the breathtakingly beautiful Bora Bora lagoon.
Oh, wow, there were so many delights I have room to describe only a few. Arriving in two of the world’s most scenic ports, Sydney, Australia, and Hong Kong, China, with such icons as the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge in Sydney, and imposing skyscrapers juxtaposed to traditional “sampans” (picturesque typical boats) in Hong Kong was an incomparable treat.
With two days in both ports we were able to do plenty of sightseeing (we opted for the hop-on/hop-off Sydney Explorer bus in that vibrant Australian city to get to the Opera House and other points of interest including the world-famous surfing beach of Bondi) and taking the Big Bus hop-on/hop-off tourist service, the Star Ferry and the tram up to Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, and enjoying browsing and shopping in some of the island-city’s many, world-famous markets. The Amsterdam was docked right in the center of the action at the Ocean Terminal, with its hundreds of shops and optimal viewing points for the nightly spectacle of lights in Hong Kong Harbor.
We also had two days in Singapore and took advantage of them by taking in such icons as the Merlion, a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish; the eye-popping Marina Bay Sands Hotel, with its three towers crowned by a ship look-alike and the Singapore Flyer, an observation wheel that, at 541-feet high, is 90 feet higher than the London Eye.
In Sri Lanka, we signed up for a Holland America nine-hour shore excursion to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, about three hours from the capital of Colombo. The orphanage, also a breeding place for elephants, is situated on a coconut property by a river and visitors are able to see these amazing creatures being fed and taking long baths on the river.
A sojourn at the beach and a mountain drive in the lovely Seychelles were a preamble for safaris out of Durban and Cape Town in South Africa, including one to the Aquila Private Game Reserve, an 11,000-acre reserve in the Southern Karoo Highlands about two hours from Cape Town. We were rewarded with vistas of zebras, wildebeest, elephants, lions and white rhinos among other fauna.
The “soup” of our Grand World Voyage “Chinese banquet” was an excursion out of Walvis Bay, Namibia, to the Namibian Desert with its apricot-colored sands – the sands “roar” when they slide upon each other – and are home to various fauna including beetles and geckos.
The bottom line? One thing about the wonderful banquet of a Grand World Voyage, it has been so the two times we have been blessed to partake of it, it has left us wanting more!
To read more about Georgina’s cruise, visit the Cruise Diva website by clicking HERE.
Are you considering a Grand World Voyage? The 2015 itinerary features an exciting route and is open for booking. Imaging circling the globe for 114 days, calling at 45 ports in 25 countries on six continents.