Cruise Diary: A Grand Voyage On A Grand Ship – ‘En Route to Africa & African Ports’

Georgina Cruz, a seasoned traveler and frequent Holland America Line guest, recently cruised on the Grand Mediterranean and Africa Voyage aboard Prinsendam. Wondering if our Grand Voyages are your dream getaway? Read below for a peek into her exotic vacation!

This spring my husband Humberto and I wanted to visit areas of the Mediterranean and Africa but without international flights. We heard that Holland America had a 54-day itinerary to those fabled regions of the world from Fort Lauderdale, near our home. It was a Grand Voyage, with all the extra luxuries of those sailings including a hand-picked staff, pillow gifts and special entertainment. And it was on the Prinsendam, the line’s “elegant explorer,” so in a word: perfect! We booked it and started packing.

The itinerary was very tempting and intriguing. The first portion of it focused primarily on Africa. The Canary Islands, although politically part of Spain, sit in the Atlantic off the northwest coast of Africa and were among the top highlights of the voyage with stops at Lanzarote, Santa Cruz de la Palma and an overnight in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The Canaries are sometimes associated with the myths of the Lost Continent of Atlantis – they are, after all, in the Atlantic for which Atlantis presumably was named, and where the ancient Greek philosopher Plato said Atlantis was, beyond the Rock of Gibraltar in Europe and Mount Acho in Africa (the Pillars of Hercules). A theory holds that when Atlantis sank, its highest points remained as the Canaries we know today, and that their original inhabitants, the Guanches, were the descendants of the surviving Atlanteans.

But Atlantis or not, the sapphire waters of the magnificent harbor in Santa Cruz, the capital of Tenerife on the island’s eastern tip, were like a siren call, welcoming us to a vibrant city filled with interesting architecture and excellent shopping – Spain’s famous El Corte Ingles department store has a branch here and the colorful Our Lady of Africa market beckons with exotic fruits and blossoms. And the island also has many wonderful restaurants serving up the delightful cuisine of the Canaries which is Spanish, with African and Latin American influences – Tenerife was and is a popular stop for ships going to and from Europe to Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, with Columbus himself stopping here for a few days in 1492.

We went for strolls in town – the town center is within walking distance of the cruise pier – and visited several sites including the Parliament buildings of the Canary Islands, the lovely squares including the Plaza de España and the Square of Candelaria, and the daring Auditorium of Tenerife designed by Santiago Calatrava, reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House in Australia but in the shape of a Conquistador’s helmet.

The stunning Auditorium Opera House in Tenerife.

The stunning Auditorium Opera House in Tenerife.

On the other day in Tenerife we took an organized tour to La Laguna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the island’s former capital, and participated in a walking tour to the Church of the Convent of Santa Catalina, the market in the Plaza del Adelantado, the cathedral, the episcopal palace, the History Museum in the Lercaro Palace, and the quaint Calle de San Agustin, where we passed old convents and rows of beautiful carved wooden balconies, many adorned with flowers and banners.

Our next stop was Tacoronte, the most important wine-growing area of the island. Here at the Bodega Alvaro we enjoyed a wine tasting – we learned that the first vines planted in the Canary Islands came from the Eastern Mediterranean, including the vines that produce the famous Malmsey wines that were immortalized in the works of Shakespeare. We sipped the wines and they were delicious! Then, from the Casa del Vino Winery, we drank in big gulps the scenery over the north coast of Tenerife – with panoramic views of El Teide, majestic at 12,198-feet – breathtaking!

Tenerife with Mount Teide in the background.

Tenerife with Mount Teide in the background.

The other ports of the Canary Islands we visited included Arrecife, Lanzarote’s capital, from where we headed to Timanfaya National Park with its Montaña de Fuego (Fire Mountain) and lunar-like landscape. Here, at Islote de Hilario (Hilario’s Big Island), wonders include volcanic cinders from just below the surface that are hot enough to kindle wood and to produce steam.

The Canary Islands and the oceanside lava cliffs.

The Canary Islands and the oceanside lava cliffs.

In Santa Cruz de La Palma, we walked on cobblestone streets to see lovely Spanish colonial houses with flower-draped balconies in the Avenida Marítima (Maritime Avenue) and took a guided tour to San Antonio Volcano National Park, where a trail reaches right to the edge of the volcano’s crater. It was Good Friday when we visited Santa Cruz de La Palma and we were able to take in one of the Holy Week Processions – with marching bands, floats and penitents: very impressive!

Cloud Forest at La Palma Canary Island.

Cloud Forest at La Palma Canary Island.

La Palma church in Sabra Cruz.

La Palma church in Sabra Cruz.

Georgina and Humberto in La Palma at the San Antonio Volcano Crater.

Georgina and Humberto in La Palma at the San Antonio Volcano Crater.

More local color was ours to enjoy during a special onboard performance by the flamenco group Fuego (Fire) and a wonderful Spanish Evening in the dining room – specially decorated and with Spanish specialties like “paella” (the world-famous rice and seafood dish).

Local Flamenco dancers came onboard to entertain the guests.

Local Flamenco dancers came onboard to entertain the guests.

But though the Canary Islands were big highlights, there were many others – the voyage called on a whopping 28 ports including five overnights. On the way to Africa and Europe, we made stops in Caribbean isles with the opportunity to walk the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan and visit El Morro Fortress in Puerto Rico, and bask in warm aquamarine waters in St. John, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Stops in the Cape Verde Islands offered more chances to enjoy beautiful, uncrowded beaches, and calls in Africa included Agadir, Morocco, for tours to the 16th century Oufella Fort and opportunities for a camel ride and to take the ultimate selfie: with a camel, which we took, of course; Casablanca, Morocco, for a chance to visit the city’s souk and Rick’s Café, in a courtyard-style mansion built against the Old Medina walls of the city and inspired in the classic film with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman; Banjul, The Gambia, and Dakar, Senegal, one of West Africa’s largest cities.

In Morocco at Ouella Fort with their guide Hassan.

In Morocco at Oufella Fort with their guide Hassan.

Moroccan spices.

Moroccan spices.

In Dakar, an option was a tour that took to Independence Square with colonial-style buildings, and the Presidential Palace, where the Spahi in their red and blue uniforms stand guard. Other points of interest included the African Renaissance Monument, a 160-foot-tall statue; the Lighthouse of Mamelles; the Medina (Old Town) and the Kermel Market, the Town Hall, the cathedral, the Great Mosque and the Deity Mosque.

Independence Square in Dakar.

Independence Square in Dakar.

The African ports of the itinerary had given us a taste of exotica and prepared us for the next phase: the fabled Mediterranean!

If a Grand Voyage is the cruise of your dreams, check out Holland America Line’s upcoming Grand Asia and Pacific Voyage departing in September 2018!

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Ketchikan
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Carnival Cruise Line Announces Slate of Senior Officers for New Carnival Panorama

 

With its spectacular new West Coast ship already open for sale and taking reservations, Carnival Cruise Line has named its senior leadership team for the Carnival Panorama, scheduled to enter service in 2019. Currently under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, Italy, Carnival Panorama will be based in Long Beach, Calif. – the line’s first new ship homeported on the West Coast in 20 years.

Carnival Panorama’s senior officers include some of the most talented and experienced mariners in the cruise industry:

Captain Carlo Queirolo:  A 33-year Carnival veteran, the Rapallo, Italy, native joined the company as a deck cadet aboard the TSS Festivale in 1985 and, after moving up the ranks, was named captain in 1996. During his three-plus decades at sea, he has commanded just about every ship in the Carnival Cruise Line fleet and been part of the inaugural teams for Carnival Elation, Carnival Paradise, Carnival Glory and Carnival Dream.

 Chief Engineer Nunzio Priolo:  A native of Catania, Sicily, Priolo joined Carnival Cruise Line in 1980 as a third officer after serving in the Italian Navy and working aboard a number of cargo vessels. After moving up the ranks, he was named chief engineer in 2004 and was part of the start-up team for Carnival Miracle in 2004. Over his 28-year Carnival career, he has served on nearly every ship in the fleet.

 Hotel Director Damir Mrsic:  Mrsic joined Carnival in 1993 as a member of the beverage operations team and was named hotel director in 2009. During his Carnival career, he has worked as bar manager and food and beverage manager, while serving on the start-up teams for Carnival Legend, Carnival Freedom and Carnival Splendor. A native of Zadar, Croatia, Mrsic graduated from the Maritime Academy in Salzburg, Austria. He worked in several hotels along the Adriatic Sea before joining Carnival.

With almost 100 years of combined experience at Carnival, these seasoned professionals will lead a team of nearly 1,400 crew members who will travel to Marghera to prepare the 133,500-ton vessel for its inaugural voyage from Long Beach – a three-day cruise to Ensenada operating Dec. 11-14, 2019.

Following its inaugural voyage, Carnival Panorama will launch year-round seven-day cruises Dec. 14, 2019, departing Long Beach every Saturday to stunning destinations along the Mexican Riviera, including Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta. Carnival began accepting reservations for Panorama’s west coast cruises in March.

Voyages will depart from the newly refurbished Long Beach Cruise Terminal, housed in a massive 146,000-square-foot geodesic dome that once served as home to Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose airplane.  The expanded and renovated facility offers streamlined embarkation and debarkation processes along with stunning design elements that pay homage to the Golden State.

Like its name implies, Carnival Panorama will feature venues offering both indoor and al fresco experiences, including the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, Bonsai Sushi, Bonsai Teppanyaki and Guy Fieri’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse|Brewhouse, among others. The ship will also feature groundbreaking attractions like bike-ride-in-the-sky attraction SkyRide, a massive WaterWorks aqua park, and the SportSquare recreation area, along with vibrant Havana section with tropics-inspired staterooms and its own Cuban-themed bar and pool, Family Harbor featuring extra-roomy accommodations, the Family Harbor Lounge and the luxurious Cloud 9 Spa. It will be the third ship in Carnival’s Vista Class, following Carnival Vista and Carnival Horizon.

To learn more about Carnival Cruise Line or to make a reservation, visit Carnival.com, call 1-800-CARNIVAL, or contact any travel agent.  Follow us on: FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

Journalists also can visit Carnival’s media site, carnival-news.com or follow the line’s PR department on Twitter at twitter.com/CarnivalPR.

Carnival Cruise Line News

Rear Deck – Carnival Cruise Ship Paradise
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Holland America Group Chief Executive Officer Stein Kruse Receives Netherland-America Foundation Ambassadors’ Award

Holland America Group Chief Executive Officer Stein Kruse was honored with the Ambassador C. Howard Wilkins, Jr. Award from the Netherland-America Foundation at a dinner at the Willard InterContinental hotel in Washington, D.C., Thursday, April 12, 2018. His Excellency Henne Schuwer, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United States, was honorary chair of the event.

Named for the U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands from 1989 to 1992 who endowed it in 1998, the C. Howard Wilkins, Jr. Award recognizes outstanding professional accomplishments in fields of business, banking, corporate leadership, politics, government and diplomacy, arts and sciences, entertainment and sports.

“Holland America Line has a rich Dutch legacy and heritage that I have been a part of for nearly 20 years, and I am honored to be recognized by the Netherland-America Foundation with this distinction,” said Kruse. “I share this award with all of my colleagues who foster our on-going relationship with the Netherlands, our economic impact in the region, and the connection between our cultures that we proudly highlight on board Holland America Line ships.”

Kruse was honored alongside Marillyn Hewson, chairman, president and CEO, Lockheed Martin, who received The Ambassador J. William Middendorf II Award, and Glen Hauenstein, president, Delta Air Lines, who was honored with The Ambassador K. Terry Dornbush Award.

Stein Kruse at the Netherland-America Foundation Ambassadors’ Award dinner.

Stein Kruse at the Netherland-America Foundation Ambassadors’ Award dinner.

“The Netherland-America Foundation is about strengthening the economic, political and cultural ties between the United States and the Netherlands, and the Ambassadors’ Awards honor individuals who exemplify our mission,” said James Dykstra, NAF board member and chair of the organizing committee of the NAF Ambassadors’ Awards Dinner. “Through his work with Holland America Line, Stein Kruse has been a champion of promoting Dutch culture and heritage around the world, and it’s a privilege to present him with the C. Howard Wilkins, Jr. Award.”

About Stein Kruse

Stein Kruse is group Chief Executive Officer of Holland America Group and Carnival UK, divisions of Carnival Corporation & plc. Holland America Group includes Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Seabourn, as well as Holland America-Princess Alaska land operations. Kruse also is chairman of the board of MANCO, a U.K.-based entity that oversees the operations of Carnival Australia, including P&O Cruises Australia. Carnival UK encompasses the UK-based brands of Cunard Line and P&O Cruises. Holland America Group and Carnival UK operate 51 cruise ships, with more than 60,000 employees worldwide.

Kruse currently serves on the boards of the U.S. Coast Guard Foundation; World Trade Center Seattle; Saltchuk Resources, Inc.; and the University of Washington Foster School of Business Dean’s Advisory Board. A native of Oslo, Norway, he holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University and is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.

About the Netherland-America Foundation

Building on the enduring heritage and values shared between the peoples of the Netherlands and the United States, the Netherland-America Foundation (NAF) seeks to further strengthen the bonds between our two countries through exchanges in the arts, sciences, education, business and public affairs.

Founded in 1921, NAF offered an opportunity for the Dutch-American community to continue its efforts to promote Dutch culture in the United States. Edward Bok, celebrated publisher of Ladies’ Home Journal, served as its first president. Bok and his colleagues — including Franklin D. Roosevelt — were determined to build the NAF into an activist organization. Business, government and academic leaders served as presidents, among them: Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM; the Hon. William C. Redfield, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, and Dr. A.J. Barnouw, Queen Wilhelmina Professor at Columbia University.

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Our Destination Experts’ Insight: South America & Cuba in 2019-2020

On a journey with Oceania Cruises, you can indulge your sense of adventure with explorations featuring immersive journeys and tantalizing new destinations across the most breathtaking corners of the globe. From the invigorating rhythms of Brazil and Havana to the magical scenery and rugged beauty of Chile, some of the most sought-after destinations across South America and Cuba come alive in our new 2019-2020 Tropics & Exotics collection. Read on for a sampling of just a few of the great voyages in these regions, plus more about our unique wellness tours offered in South America.

 

Destination Specialists’ Featured Voyages

Amazon Interlude | November 23, 2019Miami to Miami aboard Insignia | 25 Days
This magnificent journey combines relaxing days on tranquil Caribbean islands with more than a week exploring the exotic wilderness of the Amazon River, where you’ll have the chance to spot pink dolphins, toucans, sloths, howler monkeys and many other unique species.

Picturesque Patagonia | December 19, 2019 – Holiday VoyageBuenos Aires to Santiago de Chile aboard Marina | 16 Days
With this voyage that transports you from the beautiful beaches of Uruguay to the beguiling Chilean Fjords, you’ll have unforgettable celebrations in some of the most stunningly beautiful locations in world – filled with dramatic deserts, towering granite mountains, glaciers, ethereally blue lakes, the Pampas and much more.

Cuba Impressions | February 1, 2020 & March 8, 2020Miami to Miami aboard Sirena | 10 Days
With three overnights in Cuba, you’ll have plenty of time to get to know the country, from visiting Ernest Hemingway’s former home in Havana to touring a traditional tobacco factory in UNESCO-protected Cienfuegos and soaking up the thriving trova music scene in lively Santiago de Cuba.

Brazilian Rhapsody | March 4, 2020Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro aboard Insignia
After visiting two ports in scenic Uruguay, it’s time to see some of the many shades of Brazil – the warm and inviting sands of Ilha Grande and Buzios, beautifully preserved Portuguese colonial architecture in Parati, the Coffee Museum in Santos, samba shows in Rio de Janeiro and more.

 

Wellness Tours Inspired By Canyon Ranch
On these voyages to South America, there’s no shortage of cultural diversions and natural wonders to inspire your sense of adventure. With our exclusive collection of wellness tours in South America – also offered Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand – there will also be plenty of options to unwind, reconnect and find balance in this part of the world. In Buenos Aires, you might cruise to an enchanted island and spend the day doing yoga and enjoying freshly prepared healthy cuisine at a serene hideaway created by art collector Claudio Stamato. In Santiago de Chile yoga and wine come together in a refreshing union at Viña Casa Marin. Practice yoga, pranayama breathing and mindful meditation at this picturesque boutique winery, and then cap the experience off by enjoying selections of their top dishes and wines. Perhaps learn the key to preparing healthy Peruvian dishes as you explore Callao’s markets with a local chef and then learn how to prepare several dishes yourself. Options across South America abound; visit our OceaniaCruises.com for more details.

Start dreaming – your perfect voyage to South America or Cuba is waiting.

The post Our Destination Experts’ Insight: South America & Cuba in 2019-2020 appeared first on Oceania Cruises Blog.

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Family Travel Bargains Are Just A Mouse Click Away

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Image by Justin Otto

Family Travel Bargains Are Just A Mouse Click Away

In addition to being difficult, planning the family vacation can be expensive. Fortunately for us we can use the internet to make planning a lot easier. Spending a few hours online can save you hundreds of dollars on your next trip as well as give you tips to make your trip even more fun.

Once thought of as a vacation for couples, cruises are fast becoming a family favorite. Today’s cruise lines know that if they can plan fun activities for the children mom and dad will have fun too. The first place to start your search should be to go directly to the cruise lines themselves.

A quick search on your favorite each engine, like Yahoo or Google will reveal all the top cruise lines in seconds. Many of the cruise lines offer special last minute specials that you may be the perfect family vacation and save you a bundle. While on these websites, check for package deals. Many cruise lines like to partner with the airlines to provide “one stop shopping” for their customers. These may not always be the best deals but in a few clicks of a mouse, your vacation can be booked.

One of my family’s favorite vacation spots is sunny Florida. The big theme parks like to put together package deals to make planning your trip easier. Most of these package deals will include everything from airfare, tickets to the park, rental cars and even free parking at the park. Because Florida is such a big hit with families, hotels often offer “kids eat for free” deals. This can be a huge savings for a family of four. The hotels that offer these discounts are generally the ones that are kid friendly and offer activities to keep the kids busy when not at the parks.

Getting there can be one of the biggest expenses of your trip so check to see if the airlines are offering any specials to your destination. You may find a buy one ticket get another for half price deal or some offer special rates for kids under a certain age. If you’re shopping for the best airfare at “the right time” you may even stumble onto a fantastic deal that an airline is offering to fill up seats on specific flights. These are generally deals that are offered for a very limited time, so have your credit card ready when you search.

Airlines and travel agencies will often feature promotional periods where they will take care of everything for your entire family for one price. These promotions are usually offered just once or twice a year to create a buzz for their business. If your timing is right you can take advantage of one of these deals. Ask around to see when and if your airline or travel agent offers these.

If you’re not sure where you want to go or how much you should budget for your family vacation, get online and start searching. There are deals online that can not be offered elsewhere, with a little luck and great timing, you can plan the perfect family vacation without breaking the bank!

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