Sailing the World – Holland America Style
The ms. Westerdam is one of the new Vista Class ships. It carries 1,880 passengers, yet never feels crowded. From the moment I arrived to board the ship at Civitavecchia, right outside of Rome, I knew this trip was going to be a great one. The embarkation process was a breeze, and before I knew it, I was standing on deck with a complementary glass of champagne in my hand, watching the blue Mediterranean drift by.
What I really like about cruising is that one gets to travel to many different locales in a short period of time without the hassle of jumping on and off airplanes. I experienced such varied history and culture on this trip, from the fishing villages of Sicily, to Monaco on the day of The Grand Prix, to walking through the ancient streets of Dubrovnik — this city has come back from a terrible war to being vibrant once again. Holland America has created fun and educational half-day and full-day shore excursions. The prices are reasonable, and a guided tour is a great way to see a new city or country with travel mates. But of course, if you prefer to explore a city on your own, you wake up in a different country almost every morning, so simply take a stroll down the gangplank.
Cruising is truly a special way to see the world. My wife, Susan, and I visited so many amazing places on this trip, it’s hard to pick a favorite. But one that stands out for us is the picturesque town of Palma de Mallorca, the capital of the Balearic Islands, off the coast of Spain. From its grand fountains, soaring cathedral and 14th century Bellver Castle, to its hip, sidewalk cafes (perfect for people watching) and quaint outdoor markets, we felt we had arrived in possibly the most perfect little town anywhere — and a year later we still talk about it. If you want to experience Europe in true style – sail the Mediterranean with Holland America – you won’t be disappointed.