Cruise Specialists hosts Steve and Wendy Bodenheimer are taking us along on another amazing journey. This post outlines two Cruise Specialist tours hosted by Wendy and Steve for a small group of our clients.
WALVIS BAY, NAMIBIA
What a surprising port! The town is very flat, has a large deep-water harbor, and is the gateway to salt flats, sand dunes and wetlands with an amazing array of birds. We found the town to be extraordinarily clean and the people friendly. The houses here were quite modern, many with sweeping views of the ocean. The tours offered included AWD adventures, boat trips to Pelican Point to see dolphins and seals, visits to Sandwich Harbor where the dunes meet the sea, and even a visit with locals in Mondessa Township.
We hosted a tour to the charming town of Swakopmund, a nearby 19th-century village founded by the Germans, where we visited the local museum, a craft gallery and a weaver’s shop. Namibia is known for the gemstones mined here, so a visit to the Krystall Gallerie was a group favorite. We stopped at
Dune 7, a 400-foot-plus high sand dune that is a popular spot for climbing and sandboarding. Lots of young people were having fun struggling to get up the steep hill. At our final stop at the Walvis Bay Lagoon, we watched thousands of pink flamingoes feeding in the water. They are such majestic creatures.
After two days at sea, we arrived at the rarely visited port of Luanda, Angola, which we were surprised to learn is the most expensive city in the world. Don’t believe us? A half-gallon of ice cream cost $31USD, while a hamburger, fries and a soda cost $71USD. We were the only ship to arrive here in over a year, and they were clearly not used to Western visitors.
A Portuguese colony until 1975, this city of five million people was packed with gorgeous colonial-era buildings. But it’s a city in transition, as beautiful modern skyscrapers and five-star hotels are rising next to tenements.
The sights we loved most were the San Miguel Fort, the Iron Palace designed by Gustave Eiffel, the Agostinho Neto Mausoleum, and The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazaré, a national monument.
THE PASSING POINT
Back aboard the ship, we headed toward The Gambia in Western Africa. On our way, we had the most unusual experience of passing through the point that registers zero latitude and zero longitude—where the Equator meets the Prime Meridian. The Captain altered course slightly so we could reach the exact spot. A “pajama party” was organized by the ship’s staff to witness the event, but some of us wanted a quieter experience. So those who were interested positioned themselves outside on Deck 8 a little after 11:00 pm, and similar to anticipating the ball to drop on New Year’s Eve, we waited for the coordinates to get to zero (S 00 00.000 and W 00 00.000).
Why did we get so excited? As our friend Mark expressed it, for a fleeting moment, we would all cross from the Eastern Hemisphere to the Western Hemisphere, from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere and from autumn to spring. It was truly an unforgettable moment.
This series shows you what you can expect on a Holland America Grand Voyage. Here are previous peeks: Grand voyage send-off, what to expect at sea, Polynesia,New Zealand, Western Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Mozambique and Victoria Falls.