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Tag Archives: italy

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

Featured Itinerary: Monte Carlo to Venice with Silversea Cruises

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EXCLUSIVE VOYAGE WITH ACCADEMIA TEATRO ALLA SCALA –Departing aboard Silver Spirit from glamorous Monte Carlo, travel to five ports in Italy, Croatia’s Dubrovnik and Split, plus Valleta, Malta, before returning to Italy to finally disembark in romance-filled Venice. Adding a vibrato-filled layer of classicism to the mix, four accomplished singer soloists and one piano accompanist will serenade us in two concerts of operatic librettos. Representing Italy’s Accademia Teatro alla Scala, the performances promise to echo long after the voyage takes its final bow.

 

 Day 1: Monte Carlo, Italy

Aboard the Silver Spirit in Monte Carlo

Aboard the Silver Spirit in Monte Carlo

Board the ship and make it home! Your next 9 days will be spent aboard the Silver Spirit. The ship holds 540 guests, 376 crew members, and was built in 2009. Featuring the largest suites in the Silversea fleet, Silver Spirit offers a lively, convivial atmosphere for cosmopolitan travelers who enjoy a greater variety of shipboard diversions, yet crave the personalized service and authentic and “up-close” experiences for which Silversea is known.

Day 2: Livorno, Italy

pisa

Day Excursion to Pisa

Shore excursions are included with Silverseas Cruises, so enjoy the wonderful dilemma each day choosing which adventure bests fulfills your passions. From Livorno, day excursions can take you to explore Lucca, Florence, or Pisa, doing anything from truffle hunting or wine tasting, to a tour of the Uffizi Gallery Museum.

Day 3: Trapani, Sicily, Italy

A Close Look at the Silver Coast

A Close Look at the Silver Shore

Explore the Silver Shore, enjoy the scenic views and olive tasting of Trapani, explore Marsala and tour a local vineyard, explore the Greek ruins of Selinunte or let your excursion take you to Mozia Island–an important trade city with fascinating history.

Day 4: Porto Empedocle, Italy

Visit the Selinunte archeological site and & the city of Agrigento. On the south west coast of Sicily, not far from Mazara del Vallo, lies one of the largest and most impressive archaeological sites in the Mediterranean. Visit the Selinunte Archaeological site and step back in time before relaxing for lunch along the coast in Agrigento.

 Day 5: Valleta, Malta

Submerse yourself in the natural beauty and unique scenery of Malta. Enjoy stunning ocean vistas, explore Malta’s largest fishing village, see the famous Blue Grottos, or visit the Dingli Cliffs.

Italian Coastline and Cliffs

 

Day 6: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik-Viewpoint

Explore the enchanting seaside Cavtat, now home to summer music festivals, once the ancient Roman city of Epidaurus, or stay on the water and explore the Adriatic Sea by Kayak or sailboat!

Day 7: Split, Croatia

Shore Excursion to the Krka Waterfalls in Croatia

Shore Excursion to the Krka Waterfalls in Croatia

Step onto the shore of Croatia, and choose which shore excursion sparks your passion. The Krka National Park in Croatia is a spacious, largely unchanged region of exceptional and multifaceted natural value, and includes one or more preserved or insignificantly altered ecosystems. Eight hundred and sixty species and subspecies of plants have been identified within the territory of the Krka National Park, including several endemic species. Of course, other shore excusions include rafting the Cetina River, exploring the Silver Shore, a sea safari of Split, Trogir & Ciovo Islands, or a day to discover photography with Ivo Pervan. Which will you choose?

Day 8: Trieste, Italy

Explore the Grotto Gigante near Trieste

Explore the Borgo Grotto Gigante near Trieste

In Trieste, head underground to the Borgo Grotto Gigante, or visit the Castle of Miramare, St. Giusto Cathedral, and a walking tour of Trieste during your shore excursions.

Borgo Grotto Gigante: Explore one of the truly spectacular natural wonders of Italy during this sightseeing excursion to ‘Borgo Grotto Gigante’, a giant cave located along the Adriatic Coast (pictured above). The floor and the ceiling are covered in stalactites, stalagmites and other speleothems of all sizes. The Grotta Gigante is also an important underground and surface scientific research centre.

Castle of Miramare: Designed in the late 19th century by architect Carl Junker, the estate served as a former residence of the Archduke Maximilian of Habsburg and his wife Carlotta. The estate is the most famous locale on the coast of Trieste, and an integral part of the city’s landscape and history.

Day 9: Venice, Italy – Final Destination

Debark in Venice, Italy, & spend at least a few days exploring the beautiful city.

Debark in Venice, Italy, & spend at least a few days exploring the beautiful city.

While the voyage has ended, the journey has just begun! We recommend staying at least a few extra days here before traveling home or continuing on. Venice is a city unlike any other. No matter how often you’ve seen it in photos and films, the real thing is more dreamlike than you could imagine. With canals where streets should be, water shimmers everywhere. The fabulous palaces and churches reflect centuries of history in what was a wealthy trading center between Europe and the Orient. Getting lost in the narrow alleyways is a quintessential part of exploring Venice, but at some point you’ll almost surely end up in Piazza San Marco, where tourists and locals congregate for a coffee or an aperitif.

Enjoy Silversea’s all-inclusive lifestyle of butler service for every suite, complimentary champagne, wines and spirits served throughout the ship, Relais & Chateaux dining and onboard gratuities, plus featured itineraries (like this one) include FREE Shore Excursions, FREE WiFi, FREE 2 Nights at a Luxury Hotel and FREE Airfare with Transfers or Upgrade to Business Class for $199 each way.

 

New to Silversea?  Ask us about our GRAND INTRODUCTION OFFER on Silversea.

For more information or to book all-inclusive Silversea contact Santa Barbara Travel

Santa Barbara: 805-966-3116 or nherrmann@sbtravel.com

Montecito: 805-969-7746 or chart@sbtravel.com

Ventura: 805-650-6999 or chendricks@sbtravel.com