Holland America Line carefully crafts each itinerary, and every season it’s exciting to add new ports of call to enrich cruises in destinations around the world.
For the summer 2014 season in Europe, the line’s ships are proud to make six maiden call in Europe, giving guests new places to explore that offer a rich history, interesting culture and memorable shore excursions.
The first maiden call is at the beginning of the season, when Prinsendam visits Montoir-de-Bretagne (Nantes), France, for the first time May 20 as part of the 14-day Iberian & Gallic Explorer cruise and the 28-day Iberian, Kiel Canal & Baltic Explorer Collectors’ Voyage departing Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, May 10.
Visit a masterpiece of a cathedral or enjoy a scenic river cruise and wine tasting … either way you will delight at Holland America Line’s new French call. On the Cruise on the River Erdre shore excursion, visit the place that was considered ‘the must beautiful river in France’ by King François I, though he probably said ‘la plus belle rivière!‘ You will learn of its natural and architectural heritage from the view of your riverboat as you cruise the waters of the Erdre Valley. If you’re looking to learn more about the city’s history, the Nantes Highlights tour includes visits to Cathédrale Saint Pierre et Saint Paul de Nantes and the castle of the Dukes of Brittany, as well as a drive to the top of >Mont-Sainte-Anne, offering a panoramic view of the town and harbor.ANTALYA, TURKEY:
Step off ms Ryndam and back into the time of the Roman-Ottoman Empire at Antalya, Turkey, a city originally founded in 150 B.C. by Attalos II, King of Pergamon. Antalya quickly became a major harbor for the region and today is the largest Turkish city along the Mediterranean coast.
There is plenty to see at Antalya, whose rich history is highlighted throughout the city. Hadrian’s Gate, built by the Roman emperor Hadrianus as the entrance to the city, and the Archaeological Museum, which houses an impressive collection of pottery, mosaics and artifacts, are two of the town’s most popular attractions. The Hidirlik Kalesi tower on the edge of the town walls affords scenic views of the marina and harbor, and the Antalya Bazaar offers a wide variety of hand-crafted products, Turkish foods and jewelry. These sights, Yivli Minare (a distinctive flute minaret erected in the early 13th century) and a walk through the narrow streets of the Old Town can be seen on the Archaeological Museum & Antalya tour.
Antalya also serves as a gateway to other nearby ancient cities, featured on the Aqueducts & Colonnades: the Romain Ruins of Aspendos & Perge excursion. Guests head to Aspendos, founded on a hilltop near the Eurymedon River, to see its famous amphitheater.
The city’s marvelous aqueduct system, also incredibly well-preserved, provides an insight into these ancient times. At the ancient city of Side, you can shop at the marketplace, and see the Nymphaeum and temples dedicated to Dionysus, Apollo and Artemis. Enjoy lunch then head to Perge. With ruins dating back to 1000 B.C. including a theater, the Basilica of Perge, the Roman Gate and the Hellenistic Gate, Perge is a sight not to be missed!
LE PALAIS, BELLE-ILE-EN-MER, FRANCE
The ‘beautiful island’ of Belle-Ile-en-Mer is a small paradise off the coast of Brittany. A tourist favorite, its small population, around 5,000, increases every summer to more than 30,000 and it’s capital, Le Palais, features a pastel-colored harbor and gorgeous citadel. The picturesque roads take you through hills and pastures seemingly out of a movie toward Sauzon, a charming port painted by Claude Monet in the late 1800s. A true artist favorite, scenes from around the island have also been painted by Octave Penguilly L’Haridon and John Peter Russell, a friend and teacher to Vincent van Gogh and Henri Matisse.
The Musee Citadelle Vauban captures the islands history and provides a beautiful view. You can stroll through the beautiful garden after touring the fortress and hearing of prior battles.
Itea serves as the gateway to Delphi, one of the world’s most important ancient religious centers. The Mythical Delphi shore excursion features the Delphi ruins, which lie exposed on a rocky slope and the Sanctuary of Apollo, considered the Greek world’s most important sacred sight. The tour includes visits to incredibly well-preserved ruins like the Sacred Way amphitheater, the best preserved stadium in Greece, and the bronze Charioteer, one of the finest pieces of art surviving from the 5th century B.C.
From Itea, you can head to the Ossios Loucas, a historic monastery and another UNESCO World Heritage site. Dating back to the 10th century, the monastery is regarded as one of Greece’s most fascinating religious sites and features magnificent sculptures and mosaics from the Byzantine period. From here, you will head to Arachova, a picturesque village made up of quaint houses on the slopes of Mt. Parnassus to enjoy shopping for local trinkets.
Kavala, also know as the ancient city Philippi, is considered the most important archaeological site in Eastern Macedonia. The city was originally colonized by the people of Thasos who took advantage of the area’s precious metals, timber and agricultural products, establishing the city of Krinides in 360 BC. It was then conquered by King Philip II of Macedon who named the city after himself. Saint Paul founded the first Christian church on European soil at Philippi in AD 49. Today, Kavala is built around the ruins of Philippi, and its Byzantine and Ottoman Old Town makes for fascinating sightseeing on the Philippi & Kavala tour.
From Kavala you also can head to the Nestos River that flows from the Rila Mountains of Bulgaria. Xanthi, the ‘city of a thousand colors,’ is rich in history and culture, and a walking tour through the Old Town is the perfect way to take it all in. You will love stopping to enjoy local mezedes or snacks and wine at a traditional taverna before returning to the ship!
The Black Sea coast city of Burgàs is the fourth-largest city in Bulgaria and boasts the country’s largest port, the largest oil refinery in south-eastern Europe and is the center of the Bulgarian fishing industry. From Burgàs, guests can enjoy a scenic drive with a picturesque view of salt lakes, small towns and the seashore until they reach the Old Town of Nessebar, often called the ‘pearl of the Black Sea.’
Nessebar’s entire old quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Church of St. Stefan, built at the end of the 10th century, features exquisite and colorful murals. You can enjoy both churches and walk the cobbled streets where sidewalk vendors offer artwork, handcrafts and local tastes with the Nessebar Highlights shore excursion, add a wine-tasting at Pomorie Winery to the mix, or pick and choose the sights you want to see at your own pace with a motor coach transfer.
If you want to be on an itinerary visiting a maiden port, you have a variety of cruises to choose from!
Ryndam will call at Antalya Oct. 22, 2014. The call is part of several cruises and Collectors’ Voyages, like the 21-day Aegean & Mediterranean Enchantment and 36-day Aegean & Spanish Farewell itineraries departing Piraeus, Greece, Oct. 11; and 14-day Mediterranean Enchantment and 29-day Mediterranean & Spanish Farewell itineraries departing Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 18.
Guests who favor the intimate Prinsendam can explore Montoir-de-Bretagne when the ship calls there May 20 as part of the 14-day Iberian & Gallic Explorer or 28-day Iberian, Kiel Canal & Baltic Explorer itineraries, departing Civitavecchia, Italy, May 10.
Prinsendam also will make calls at the rest of the ports, with the exception of Antalya, in 2014. The ship will call at Le Palais Sept. 13, Itea Oct. 2, Kavala Oct. 8 and Burgàs Oct. 17.
The 14-day Bourgundian Explorer itinerary departing Ijmuiden, The Netherlands, Sept. 7, features the maiden call at Le Palais.
The 28-day Bourgundian & Aegean Explorer itinerary, also departing Sept. 7, includes the call at Le Palais and a maiden call at Itea. Itea also is featured on a Sept. 21 departure from Barcelona. This 30-day Mediterranean & Black Sea Explorer voyage will feature Kavala and Burgàs, as will the 16-day Black Sea Explorer and 30-day Black Sea & Holy Land Explorer itineraries departing Piraeus, Greece, Oct. 5, 2014.
Whether you want to step back in time to the Roman-Ottoman Empire at Antalya, enjoy one of the world’s most important ancient religious centers at Delphi or explore the the best archaeological site in Eastern Macedonia at Kavala, there are plenty of exciting new sights to explore. From wineries to castles, basilicas and amphitheaters, you will enjoy some of the world’s best-preserved ruins while immersing yourself in the history and culture of these incredible ancient cities.
Which maiden call excites you the most? Tell us in the comments below!