Cruise Specialists hosts Wendy and Steve Bodenheimer recap their most recent Holland America world cruise. These stories share what you can expect on a Holland America Grand Voyage.
On the Amsterdam
Where do we begin talking about the Amsterdam? We have spent hundreds of days cruising the world on this ship, so we can’t help but consider it to be our second home. The ship is the perfect size for these grand voyages, and the faithful crew continues to keep it in pristine condition.
Many members of the staff and crew return to the Amsterdam year after year, which enhances the welcoming atmosphere. After all, it’s such a pleasure to be greeted by familiar faces with each Holland America world cruise! In fact, Captain Jonathan Mercer—who has 51 years of experience—has confirmed he’ll be at the helm next year, as well! His wonderful communication style puts the passengers at ease and helps facilitate an atmosphere of trust throughout our travels. Furthermore, the Hotel Director, Guest Relations Manager, members of the beverage team and dining room management were all approachable and happy to assist as needed.
Holland America is known for showering passengers with an abundance of gifts, which serve as pleasant souvenirs. Some also double as helpful tools, too. Here is a comprehensive list of our “pillow gifts” from this cruise:
- Travel umbrellas.
- A set of HAL dessert plates.
- Puzzles and games.
- Fleece blankets.
- A set of hats, gloves and scarves for colder climates.
- Wheeled, carry-on-sized suitcases (ideal for packing these souvenirs!).
- Journals to record our experiences throughout the journey.
- Black canvas messenger bags.
- TSA-approved luggage lock and tags.
- The annual commemorative plate detailing the voyage.
- And a small, pewter jewelry box, lined with velvet and engraved with an image of the Rijksmuseum, to remember our special evening in Amsterdam aboard the Amsterdam.
Of course, guests with Cruise Specialists received gifts as well, including fleece jackets, canvas tote bags and voyage planners. These thoughtful tokens of appreciation show how much the Cruise Specialists team cares about their guests.
The entertainment on the Amsterdam upheld its superb reputation. Our favorite band performed nightly—providing ample opportunity to enjoy a dance at the end of an action-packed day. The Amsterdam’s service and cuisine were outstanding, too.
We spent our mornings hosting a special Chat Time for Cruise Specialists passengers. This normally lasted between two to two and a half hours. We had the pleasure of speaking with a few regulars who would be waiting for us to arrive each day, ready to socialize. We also had an early and late shift for these dedicated chats, held typically before and after the day’s featured lectures. It was a fun place to hang out and catch up with our guests, who occasionally stopped by for cookies, a cup of tea or to ask a quick question.
So many passengers described to us the amazing time they had—especially those passengers who were on their first World Voyage. We were delighted to be part of their excellent experience and we hope they join us again in the future!
There have been so many highlights of this Holland America world cruise! Here are our favorites from this year’s itinerary:
- Machu Picchu is a marvel hidden in the clouds of Peru. While the trek to Machu Picchu isn’t easy, it’s well worth the experience.
- Easter Island was fascinating and gave us a glimpse into the mysterious history of these massive statues.
- From Auckland’s upscale Devonport to the rugged Mt. Manganui in Tauranga to charming Picton, New Zealand was full of lovely places to explore.
- The spectacular Blue Mountains and Katoomba—not far from Sydney—were a dazzling sight to behold.
- The Scenic Railway and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway in Kuranda were unique ways to view the scenery and reach the fascinating mountain town.
- Sunrise and sunset were magnificent to behold at Uluru, a sacred site to indigenous Australians in the country’s Red Centre.
- The opportunity to see Komodo dragons in their natural habitat on Komodo Island.
- Stopping at Gardens by the Bay, our favorite spot in Singapore.
- Sunrise at the Taj Mahal, the best time to see this beautiful building before the crowds and overwhelming heat that midday brings.
- Awesome Petra and Wadi Rum Protected Area in the picturesque Jordanian countryside.
- The coastal walk in Leixões, Portugal.
- The moving experience of visiting the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial and Omaha Beach on the coast of Normandy, France.
- Seeing art in the Vigeland Sculpture Park, the premier attraction in Oslo, Norway.
- The stunning fjord town of Flåm, Norway.
It is quite an impressive list of places to have visited in a single world cruise, but that’s the beauty of Holland America Grand Voyages. We got the opportunity to see an amazing variety of places, as well as inspiration for our next adventure.
As a result of our initial informative talk about our geocaching hobby, we now have a few new recruits who want to try geocaching at home. We had fun on outings with our mentors Arnie and Elly, and we’ve managed to find a total of 342 geocaches. Our biggest day was in Wellington, New Zealand, where we were able to find 33 geocaches. And we’ve added five new countries to our achievement list to bring our total of geocaching countries to 89!
All in all, this Grand Voyage was another treasured experience for us, and we look forward to our next cruise with Holland America.