Cruise Specialists hosts Steve and Wendy Bodenheimer are taking us along on another amazing journey. We hope 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 and Thailand.
Reunion Island – Indian Ocean
Reunion is a good example of a place where you cannot judge the island by the port area. We were berthed in the middle of the container port, at La Possession and if it weren’t for the beautiful mountain peaks and cliffs visible from the ship, it wouldn’t be very appealing. It was a 25-minute bus ride from the ship north to Saint-Denis, the island’s main city.
Although it is an international destination, very little English is spoken here.
It’s all French – French cafes, French Colonial buildings, and chic French shops. We enjoyed an easy walk around the town; down the main boulevard with historical markers and plaques; past sculptures, parks and manicured public buildings; stately old hotels; and up to the big Cathedral with bright colors showing its African and Creole influences.
- Bridal Veil Waterfall, the famous Sailor’s Cemetery
- ancient crater called the Circle of Mafate
- lava rocks at Grand Brûlé
- seaside resort of St Gilles les Bains
We also heard from some independent travelers that there were good biking and hiking trails not far away. So much to do, so little time.
President’s Week Onboard
Returning to the ship, guests were already gathering out on the Lido deck for the first of the President week events – a complimentary sail away.
It’s called President’s Week because Holland America’s President, Orlando Ashford and his family are on board and hosting a number of special events.
The following day, we were invited to a luncheon for the highest level Mariners – those with over 900 sailing days on Holland America. It was a group of about 75 at tables hosted by Senior Staff.
The following day was a long presentation and Q & A by Orlando to a standing room only audience. The questions were mostly relevant and reasonable and he answered them candidly.
He also announced the itinerary for the 2020 World Voyage. It is quite a departure and was very well received. For the first time in many years, the World Voyage will cover much of South America, including Antarctica and will return to Africa as well.
He said these two places were by far the most requested and so they were combined in one longer than usual (126 days) trip. It will likely be very popular and probably will sell out.
Our next port was Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. It was there that 160 people left the ship for a variety of Overland Tours and Safaris.
Our fellow host Tom Mullen took a group of 32 to Kruger National Park for three days of game drives and animal viewing. Each morning they boarded an open-air vehicle for the perfect ride to explore a private game reserve. The afternoon brought a second game drive deep into the bush, where you may encounter South Africa’s top predators: cheetahs, hyenas, and lions.
Wendy took 14 Guests for a 5-day adventure in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana (more on this to come!).
Steve stayed on the ship to watch over the rest of our Guests. He had a chance to venture out into Maputo for a look around, it’s a pretty raw looking place as you might expect from a third world country.
The ship was berthed near the famous Central Railway station with the bronze dome built in 1910. Much of the city was destroyed during the 30 years of war which ended in 1992. Reconstruction has been slow and it is hard not to notice the piles of garbage everywhere. City tours offered visits to Independence Square, the Central Market, the railway station, Maputo Fort, City Hall, and the Natural History Museum. Overall, it was an interesting but not very exciting port.
Stay tuned for the next stop and Wendy’s incredible overland tour!
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