Four months after pulling away from the docks in Fort Lauderdale, our Cruise Specialists guests and hosts have arrived home filled with wild tales, new friends and plenty of wine, so we hear.
Cruise Specialists hosts Tom Mullen, along with Henk and Lucia Barnhoorn, helped ensure that this was another perfect Holland America Grand World Voyage for our 200 Cruise Specialists guests who enjoyed the entire world cruise and an additional 60 guests who joined the fun in various segments.
Any journey this long can’t be summed up in one post!
In fact, we’ve broken down many different ports and excursions from Holland America cruises throughout the last few years here on the blog. Checkout the Taj Mahal overland tour, adventures in Jordan, or exploring Vietnam.
But today, we’d like to give you a little glimpse of why over 260 cruisers chose to work with Cruise Specialists for this grand adventure. It wasn’t just about finding the right price, though we’re great at that, it was about ensuring the entire experience was perfect.
Beyond the planned excursions, exciting ports of call and attentive crew, our experienced hosts are always looking for ways to enhance the onboard experience. This year was no exception with many special planned events just for our Cruise Specialists guests.
This year, hosts broke the group up in to 7 smaller groups over four months to enjoy dinner in the Canaletto. Named for a famous 18th-century Venetian artist, the Canaletto is perfect for an intimate Italian dinner. The smaller groups made it easier for people to bond, for those joining a new segment to make friends and for everyone to enjoy just a little more wine. The evening began with the chef’s selection of antipasti with a taste of the delicious fare and personal, polished service to follow. Three courses – il primo, il secondo, and il dolci – are offered, carefully selected to focus on fresh, authentic regional Italian cuisine.
Additionally, they hosted 4 cocktail parities filled with a bit more of that wine, dancing and fun. When host Tom Mullen started cruising over 30 years ago everything was black tie, while now just 17 events of the entire world cruise were formal. The upside to that is a bit more fun with theme parties like St Patrick’s Day or feeling at ease to go casual during the hottest times in the South Pacific. Another day Henk and his extraordinary team transformed the mid-ship Lido pool area into a “Shanghai Sunset Fusion” party. Staff donned traditional Chinese costumes, there were lavish Asian food stations throughout the Lido area, we created special cocktails and offered wine paired with the food.
A band elevated the excitement of the evening, as did gorgeous decorations — from upside down hanging umbrella’s to Chinese junk sails in the pool flooded in red lights. Two Chinese dragons also swirled around the guests during the party. There were also a couple of Officers Balls again this year, which everyone seems to adore. It’s a wonderful chance for many of the singles on board to enjoy a dance with an officer in their formal finery. It’s also fun to see the Captain start the first dance with his wife.
Cruise Specialists hosts Henk and Lucia guided 4 overland tours for our group, which took full advantage of the overnight port stays on this world cruise. More details of their adventures coming soon, but here’s a peak at some of the favorite and unique spots.
Holland America Line offers a change in route each year, and in 2017 Amsterdam set course for an extensive Far East exploration. We’ve talked many times about the amazement of cruising the Panama Canal, but this cruise enjoyed a chance to transit the Suez Canal which connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. This 101 mile long canal took over 15 years to plan and build and it’s a fascinating view from the the deck to watch the area as the ship passes through. In Nagasaki, Japan, everyone was treated to a group playing Japanese drums, called taiko, as they pulled away from the port. The decks were packed with smiles as everyone wanted fully enjoy this truly unique experience. Another memorable port for host Tom Mullen was Malta. In all his years cruising, it was his first stop here and just in time to celebrate his 62nd birthday! Since Tom believes in buying one wonderful souvenir during every trip to remember the people and places, he found wonderful Maltese glass vase and spent the rest of the day enjoying an exploration of a new place.
There’s a beautiful perimeter drive around the walled city of Valletta, Malta’s capital to see the fortifications and then a trip to the Upper Barracca Gardens, the highest point in Valletta to truly take in the harbor. Finally there is the last stop before the final days at sea in Madeira, Portugal. It’s a special time to slow down with an more intimate Cruise Specialists group lunch at the famous Reid’s Palace Hotel. This pink palace surrounded by tropical gardens has over 125 years of history, including visits from the equally famous like Winston Churchill, and is well known for it’s dignified high tea.
Again this is just a snippet of the fun, adventures and friendships created on a world cruise. It would take days to fill you in on the rest, which might be why so many choose to come back for another voyage, time to fully share those stories and a chance to see animals like this in India!
Learn more about our hosted 2018 & 2019 Grand World Voyages >>