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Tag Archives: advisor post

Advisor Trip: Holland America’s new Koningsdam Ship

Janet Morton is amongst our most experienced travel advisors. This Spring, she was invited aboard the newest addition to the Holland America fleet, Koningsdam. Below, she shares her impressions of the new ship, as well as highlights and suggestions for each city along the way. 

SHIP HIGHLIGHTS

The Koningsdam is certainly the new King of the Holland America fleet, aptly named as “Koning” means “king” in Dutch. The new ship was impressive. Modern technology upgrades make the trip comfortable; the restaurant options are expanded; the spa is the most deluxe I have seen on a cruise ship, and the music-themed ship certainly delivers on both entertainment and décor.

The onboard entertainment is good, appealing to both solo travelers and families. Favorite entertainment options of mine included a Jazz lounge, classical music area, big evening shows, a new glass roofed Lido Deck where evening movies are screened, diverse dining options, and a huge theatre. On days we were at sea, we spent our time by the pool.

Pool area aboard the

Pool area aboard the Koningsdam

 

LAND HIGHLIGHTS

Naples is always a favorite cruise stop of mine, as there is a lot to do quite easily. You can go to the ancient city of Pompeii, the charming coastal town of Sorrento, tour the Amalfi Coast, or take a boat to Capri, each in a day’s visit. I visited Pompeii, an incredible archeological site that captures this Roman city exactly as it was before Mt. Vesuvius erupted.

Elaborate Sign in Pompeii that Translates to "Beware of Dog"

Elaborate Sign in Pompeii that Translates to “Beware of Dog”

In Granada, I joined the offered shore excursion to visit The Alhambra, a castle with Moorish architecture. I typically go off on my own, given my travel experience, but I chose the offered Shore Excursion to The Alhambra. Unless you rent a car, it is quite difficult to get there yourself, and we were happy to join the group for the day. Our tour guide was knowledgeable and friendly, the weather was great, and lunch was included. It was busy, but still enjoyable.

The Courtyard of the Alhambra, the regional  "Taj Majal"

The Courtyard of the Alhambra, the regional “Taj Majal”

The itinerary was well planned, allowing for two days in the city of Barcelona. While there are plenty of shore excursions (up to 20 to 30 at each port), I chose to walk Barcelona. With the quirky art and architecture of the city, maze-like streets, fantastic restaurants, it is a city meant to be experienced up close. Already I am planning a trip with more time in this city, a passion sparked by our introduction on this cruise.

The Port of Gibraltar was an incredible day with a visit to the most interesting airport in the world and the Rock of Gibraltar. If you go anywhere, you’ll have no choice but to drive through the airport, literally. The main road goes right through the runway, and when a plane comes in, stoplights stop traffic on either side, a crew cleans the runway, and a plane lands right in front of you.

The Rock of Gibraltar (left) and Gibraltar Airport stop light (right)

The Rock of Gibraltar (left) and Gibraltar Airport stop light (right)

The Rock of Gibraltar peaks at 1398 feet, and is formed from Early Jurassic limestone and dolomites. There is a tram that takes you up, and the view over the ocean is unbelievable. The Barbary Macaques, or “monos,” are the resident monkeys and quite a scene!

Each port city is such a treat, and it can be difficult to choose from the many wonderful options. It is good to remember that cruises are an opportunity to explore many places without checking in, checking out, and navigating to each city. In fact, this trip has already inspired another to Spain!

To talk about Holland America, Spain or Italy, reach out to Janet Morton by email at jmorton@sbtravel.com

Christmas Markets along the Danube

“It’s a really special time to experience Europe,” said travel advisor Cathy Kroll after taking AMA Waterways Christmas Time Cruise, “and visiting the ‘Christkindl’ markets along the ancient cities of the Danube is a unique way to experience the Christmas season.”

xmas

“The hand blown ornaments, the little ‘smokers’ or hand incense burners; the men and women cooking sausages and sauerkraut over enormous pans; market-goers in their hats and mittens standing around barrels drinking their gluwein – these are all images from my Christmas market cruise that I’ll never forget.”

vienna

Who should go on these cruises?  “You know,” says Cathy, ‘although anyone would enjoy these, I think they’d be particularly fun for groups: your book club, your church group, all your girlfriends, or a family reunion.. it’s just so much fun to experience this with a lot of people!’

xmas2

And what about the weather? “There’s no way I would let the winter weather stop me.  Just be prepared for the cold… like your mom always tells you, ‘dress in layers!’.  My own tip?  Wear shoes that are waterproof.  Besides, you can always drink gluwein to keep warm!  And you know, when you get chilly at the markets, it’s so wonderful to come back to the ship that is all decorated to the nines for the holidays, and be welcomed with mulled wine and hot cider.”

AMAWaterways Christmas market departures are specially decorated for the holidays

AMAWaterways Christmas market departures are specially decorated for the holidays

“I travel because I’m so interested to see how others live, and the history of countries that are so much older than our own.  I love seeing life through others’ eyes.  I also love taking what I’ve experienced and, frankly, the travel mistakes that I’ve made myself, and helping my clients have their own, perfect vacation.”

If you have any questions about the AMA Waterways Christmas-Time Cruise, or you’d like some help crafting your own perfect vacation, contact Cathy at ckroll@sbtravel.com.