Visit Bay of Islands, Sydney, Australia, Melbourne, Fremantle, Colombo, Sri Lanka, Dubai, Aqaba, Santorini, Rijeka, Venice, Ljubljana, Slovenia (Koper), Malta (La Valletta), Rome (Civitavecchia), Genoa, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Cadiz, Lisbon, Cobh, Le Havre, Dover, Gravdal,Lofoten Isles, Tromso, Honningsvaag, Akureyri, Reykjavik, Halifax, New York, Charleston, Key West, Cartagena, Colombia, Manta, Callao, Peru, San Martin, Easter Island, Pitcairn Islands, Papeete, Bora Bora and Auckland.
Straddling a narrow isthmus created by 60 different volcanoes, New Zealand's former capital boasts scenic beauty, historical interest and a cosmopolitan collection of shops, restaurants, museums, galleries and gardens. Rangitoto, Auckland's largest and youngest volcano, sits in majestic splendor just offshore. Mt. Eden and One Tree Hill, once home to Maori earthworks, overlook the city. One of New Zealand's fine wine districts lies to the north of Auckland. Auckland served as New Zealand's capital from 1841 until 1865, when the seat of government moved to Wellington.
Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands offers more than broad vistas of sea and sky, more than beaches, boating, and fabulous water sports. The Bay is the birthplace of modern New Zealand. Here the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, establishing British rule and granting the native inhabitants equal status. Rich in legend and mystery, the Bay of Islands has age-old ties to the Maori and to whalers, missionaries and New Zealand's early settlers. The Bay of Islands has lured explorers for countless centuries. The Maori say that Kupe, the great Polynesian adventurer, came here in the 10th century. Captain Cook anchored offshore in 1769, followed by assorted brigands, traders, colonists and missionaries.
As your ship passes Harbour Heads, you are presented with the shimmering skyline of Sydney - hailed by many seafarers as "the most beautiful harbor in the world." Two prominent landmarks, Harbour Bridge and the sail-like curves of the Sydney Opera House, grace the backdrop of this picturesque harbor. There is a wealth of adventure waiting in Sydney - from its cosmopolitan city center to miles of beautiful beaches and the Blue Mountains. Australia's oldest and largest city was born in 1788 with the arrival of the "First Fleet" transporting 760 British convicts. Today, Sydney is the largest port in the South Pacific and is often voted the most popular destination in the South Pacific.
Victoria may be Australia's smallest continental state, but Melbourne, its capital, is big on everything. With a population of 2.7 million people living in 59 separately named communities within 715 square miles, Melbourne is a sprawling city offering culture, art, fashion and friendly, sports-minded Australians. It is also an easy city to explore. At the heart of the city is the Golden Mile, the city's governmental and commercial center, home to hotels, shops, restaurants and theaters. Originally part of New South Wales, Victoria became a colony in its own right in 1851. The discovery of gold propelled Melbourne's growth to prominence and prosperity.
Lying at the mouth of the Swan River, historic Fremantle - founded in 1829 - is your gateway to Perth, the capital of Western Australia. Situated on the banks of the Swan River some 15 miles upriver from Fremantle, Perth is a bustling city where soaring high-rises co-exist with elegant sandstone buildings from the colonial era. Life here moves at a slower pace, so during your visit, relax and savor the bounties of Western Australia, from the wonders of the bush to the wineries of the Swan Valley, from excellent shopping to a leisurely cruise on the Swan River.
Sri Lanka conjures up the exotic and the mysterious. Once known as Ceylon, the island boasts a fantastic landscape that ranges from primeval rain forest to the bustling modern streets of Colombo, the capital. A visitor to Sri Lanka has a wealth of options. Relax on some of the world's finest beaches. Explore the temples, halls and palaces of the last Sinhalese kingdom at Kandy. Or take a guided tour of an elephant orphanage. Colombo also offers an array of charms, from the Royal Botanic Gardens, once a royal pleasure garden, to the Pettah Bazaar, where vendors hawk everything under the sun. Colombo and Sri Lanka were shaped by Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and European influences. Colombo also serves as a gateway for Overland Adventures to India.
Dubai has always served as a bridge between East and West. In the past, Dubai's trade links stretched from Western Europe to Southeast Asia and China. The result was the creation of one of the most protean societies in the world. Nestled in the very heart of Islam, Dubai remains unique in its embrace of the West. Bedouin may still roam the desert, but Dubai also plays hosts to international tennis and golf tournaments. Tourists flock to its shores while the pace of development continues at a frenetic pace, from massive artificial islands to the astounding Burj Al Arab Hotel. Dubai is actually two cities in one: the Khor Dubai, an inlet of the Persian Gulf, separates Deira, the old city, from Bur Dubai.
The port of Aqaba has been an important strategic and commercial center for over three millennia. Originally called Elath, the home of the Edomites became in Roman times a trading center where goods from as far away as China found entry to Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. Today Aqaba is Jordan's only seaport, and the city serves as an intriguing gateway for travelers. In the surrounding desert lies the lost city of Petra - a city that may date to 6,000 B.C. - and Wadi Rum, where an English soldier mystic named T.E. Lawrence found his destiny as "Lawrence of Arabia." Perched at the apex of the Gulf of Aqaba, Aqaba offers internationally renowned diving opportunities and the richest marine life in the entire Red Sea. The old fortress on the waterfront dates to the 14th-century. Passengers should drink only bottled water while ashore. Please respect local customs and dress accordingly, avoiding exposed shoulders and knees.
Transiting through the Suez Canal is sure to be one of the lifelong memories of your cruise. The thought of a canal linking the Mediterranean and Red Sea extends back in history as far as 2100 B.C. Napoleon Bonaparte, pursuing his dreams of conquest, entertained the notion in 1798. But it was French engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps who finally proved that a canal across the Suez was practicable. Work on the canal began in 1858. Eleven years later the opening of the Suez Canal was an international event. The world had acquired a quicker route to Asia-as well as a Verdi opera called Aida. Of course the Suez Canal was a source of immediate controversy. The British wrested control of the canal from Egypt in 1882. Egypt regained control during its revolution of 1952. In 1956, the British, allied with the French and Israelis, nearly took the canal back. The Arab-Israeli Six Day War of 1967 closed the canal until 1973, when another war and intense international negotiations led to its return to Egyptian control.
Did the catastrophic volcanic eruption that ravaged Santorini circa 1600 B.C. destroy Crete's ancient Minoan civilization - and give birth to the myth of Atlantis? In 1967, archaeologists on Santorini unearthed the remains of a Bronze Age city that may have been home to as many as 30,000 people. Whether the Lost Continent of Atlantis is rooted in myth or reality, an undisputed fact remains. The eruption created a caldera - and one of the most dramatic land and seascapes in the entire Mediterranean. On Santorini, whitewashed buildings cling to vertiginous cliffs that plunge to a turquoise sea. Part of the Cyclades Archipelago, the three-island group of Santorini, Thirasia and uninhabited Aspronisi present the traveler with unforgettable vistas. The island has had a number of names throughout history - from Strongyle or "Round" to Thera in honor of an ancient hero. Santorini is more recent and stems from the island church dedicated to St. Irene - Santa Rini to foreign sailors.
Rising from the waters of the Laguna Veneta, Venice has long - and rightly - been regarded as one of the world's most beautiful cities. Napoleon, who had an eye for acquisitions, once described St. Mark's Square as the finest drawing room in Europe. Certainly, no other site can quite match its superb campanile, Doge's Palace and recumbent lions. Just over two miles in length, the Grand Canal is lined with stunning buildings that reflect the city's unique heritage. Cruise through its winding canals on a gondola or watch the bronze Moors on the clock tower strike the passing hours as they have for 500 years - Venice is an unparalleled experience. The city began life as a refuge from barbarian invasions. By the Crusades, Venice's dominion extended throughout the Adriatic and Mediterranean. The winged lion - symbol of St. Mark - flew over palaces and fortresses from Gibraltar to the Black Sea.
Malta is the largest in a group of seven islands that occupy a strategic position between Europe and Africa. The island's history is long and turbulent. Everyone from the Normans to the Nazis have vied for control of this small, honey-colored rock. For centuries the island was the possession of the knightly Order of St. John - the Knights Hospitaller. Valletta, Malta's current capital, was planned by the Order's Grandmaster Jean de la Valette to secure the island's eastern coast from Turk incursions. Founded in 1566, Valletta's bustling streets are lined with superb Baroque buildings and churches. Malta has a long history: the megalithic stone temples at Gozo may be the oldest freestanding structures on Earth. Malta has two official languages, Maltese (constitutionally the national language) and English. Malta was admitted to the European Union in 2004 and in 2008 became part of the eurozone.
Your gateway to the Eternal City, Civitavecchia has served as Rome's seaport since the 13th century. The port has a long and venerable history. The emperor Trajan built a pleasure villa near the modern city, while Bernini and Michelangelo designed the harbor fortifications. Yet the Eternal City eternally beckons. The ancient capital of the Western World and the center of Christianity for nearly 2,000 years, Rome provides an inexhaustible feast. Visit the ruins of the Forum, view the splendors of the Sistine Chapel, or climb the Spanish Steps, once the heart of Rome's Bohemian Quarter. Rome has been a magnet luring the world's greatest artists, architects, and philosophers since the days of the Caesars.
Genoa is the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria. Many regard Genoa as having the largest historic city center in Europe as a result of having been, for centuries, a powerful commercial center seaport and city-state. It was the birthplace of Christopher Columbus and its maritime roots have fostered a dialect that has, absorbed elements of Neapolitan, Calabrese and Portuguese over the centuries. Genoa's harbor is a bustling swarm of activity, which makes it a great launching point for the sprawling metropolis of Milan.
Monte Carlo is the playground of the rich and famous. Sleek yachts grace the harbor. Boutiques offer the latest fashions from the most prestigious couturiers in Europe. Cafés, cabarets and the elegant Casino throb with nightlife. Monte Carlo is also the modern district of the principality of Monaco. This Xanadu sits on a promontory above the old port of Monaco and its dazzling harbor. Monte Carlo sprang to life with the opening of the Casino, designed by Charles Garnier, whose credits include the Paris Opera. Monte Carlo lies at the heart of the Riviera. Stunning scenery and charming seaside resorts are to be found in either direction along the Golden Corniche.
The 1992 Summer Olympics revealed to the world what Europeans and seasoned travelers already knew - Barcelona is one of the world's greatest treasures. Vibrant and earthy, commercial and cultural, this city of two million residents is the capital of Spain's autonomous region of Catalonia. Stroll along the wide, tree-lined promenades of Las Ramblas and marvel at the spires of Gaudi's Basilica La Sagrada Familia. Or visit the former Olympic Ring on the hill of Montjuic - also home to world-class parks, fountains and museums. Barcelona, which nurtured such artistic giants as Picasso, Dali, Miro and Casals, is definitely a traveler's paradise.
Draped across seven hills, Lisbon was once the center of a vast maritime empire that stretched from the west coast of Africa to the Spice Islands of the East Indies. Then, on November 1, 1755, a violent earthquake destroyed two-thirds of the city in the space of 10 minutes. Only the Alfama, the old Moorish quarter, survived. Today, Lisbon is a stately city of Neoclassical buildings and wide plazas. Eternally linked to the sea, Lisbon's magnificent harbor is spanned by the longest suspension bridge in Europe.
Despite its small town hospitality, Cork is Ireland's second largest city and your gateway to romantic Ireland. Rich farmlands and river valleys define the countryside. And although Cork's most famous attraction is the legendary Blarney Stone, there are over 100 heritage and cultural sites of significance covering over 600 miles of spectacular coastline.
Perhaps no other place in France holds more associations for English-speaking visitors than Normandy. The historic Allied landings on D-Day - 6 June, 1944 - live on in the memories of British and Americans alike. Nor has Le Havre forgotten the dark days of the war. The port was nearly completely destroyed during the Normandy campaign. Today, Le Havre is France's second largest port and the gateway to Paris, "City of Light," the Norman countryside, and the historic landing beaches. Travelers usually head for the historic landing sites or to Paris. Yet Le Havre was designated a World Heritage Site in 2005. The Musee des Beaux Arts Andre Malraux boasts one of the finest collections of Impressionist painting in the world.
Visible for miles from sea, the White Cliffs of Dover are an instantly recognizable symbol of England. Modern highways make Dover the doorstep to London - Britain's ever-fascinating capital. Visitors to this great city have a wealth of pleasures to choose from. Explore the notorious Tower of London and view the Crown Jewels. Visit Windsor Castle or see Westminster Abbey. The choices are fascinating and endless. Dover is also your gateway to Kent's green countryside, dotted with old medieval towns and castles. Dover has played a major role in world history since the days of the Norman invasion. Today 13th century Dover Castle dominates a harbour filled with cross-channel ferries and merchant and passenger shipping.
Gravdal is one of the largest villages in Vestvågøy and part of the Lofoten Archipelago in northern Norway. Gravdal serves as your gateway to the Lofoten Islands, the western remnants of great mountains that were worn away by glaciers. Lying entirely above the Arctic Circle, the islands' dramatic natural architecture of rocky peaks along with picturesque villages places this archipelago in a league of its own.
Lying north of the Arctic Circle, Tromsø has been a departure point for Arctic explorers and hunters since the 18th century. Today, this town of some 50,000 individuals is home to the northernmost university in the world, which gives Tromsø a lively cultural and street scene, highlighted by the annual Midnight Sun Marathon. Ride the cable car to the summit of Mt. Storsteinen for dramatic views of Tromsø city and Troms Island. Enjoy refreshments at the panoramic restaurant.
Honningsvag is your gateway to Norway's North Cape on Magerøya Island. This is the northernmost point in Europe, and the true land of the midnight sun. From mid-May to July, the full disc of the sun never dips below the horizon. In winter, the days barely lighten to a spectral gloom. To the north lies only the remote Svalbard Archipelago, Jan Mayan Island, and the polar ice cap. From the cliffs of North Cape, perched 1,000 feet above the Arctic Ocean, one stares into the arctic silence.
The town is your gateway to the famous "Land of Fire and Ice" - Iceland's dramatic landscape of volcanic craters, extinct lava lakes and majestic waterfalls. Visitors to Akureyri have a hard time grasping the fact that the town lies just below the Arctic Circle. The climate here is temperate: flower boxes fill the windows of houses, and trees line the neat, well-tended avenues. Thanks to that mild climate, Akureyri's Botanical Gardens provide a home for over 2,000 species of flora from around the world - all surviving without greenhouses. No wonder Icelanders refer to Akureyri as the most pleasant town on the entire island.
The patron saints of Reykjavik are fire and ice. Iceland is a land of volcanoes and glaciers, lava fields and green pastures, boiling thermal springs and ice-cold rivers teeming with salmon. This unspoiled demi-paradise is also home to a very old and sophisticated culture. The northernmost capital in the world, Reykjavik was founded in 874 when Ingolfur Arnarson threw wood pillars into the sea, vowing to settle where the pillars washed ashore. Today, Iceland is an international center of commerce and home to one of the most technologically sophisticated societies in the world. Reykjavik is the gateway to Iceland's natural wonders, which range from ice fields to thermal pools. The island is in a continual process of transformation much like its society, which blends Nordic tradition with sophisticated technology.
The capital of Nova Scotia and the largest city in Canada's Atlantic Provinces, Halifax was once Great Britain's major military bastion in North America. The beautifully restored waterfront buildings of Halifax's Historic Properties recall the city's centuries-old maritime heritage. Stroll the waterfront, and you may find Nova Scotia's floating ambassador, the schooner Bluenose II, tied up to Privateer's Wharf, just as old sailing ships have done for over 200 years. Halifax is also the gateway to Nova Scotia's stunning scenery, including famous Peggy's Cove, where surf-pounded granite cliffs and a solitary lighthouse create an unsurpassed scene of rugged natural beauty.
New York City
A leading global city, New York exerts a powerful influence over worldwide commerce, finance, culture and fashion, and entertainment. The city consists of five boroughs and an intricate patchwork of neighborhoods. Some of these include Lower Manhattan and the New York Stock Exchange, Battery Park and South Street Seaport, Chinatown, trendy SoHo and Greenwich Village, along with Little Italy, the flat Iron District and Gramercy Park. Famous Central Park covers 843 acres of paths, ponds, lakes and green space within the asphalt jungle. Many districts and landmarks have become well-known to outsiders. Nearly 170 languages are spoken in the city and over 35% of its population was born outside the United States.
Superb colonial and antebellum architecture, ornate old gardens, narrow cobbled streets, a rich turbulent history, and Southern charm define Charleston, one of America's premier destinations. Located on a peninsula between the confluence of the Cooper and Ashley Rivers, the city was the first English settlement in South Carolina. The surrounding Low Country has proved a rich and fertile land, producing rice, cotton, indigo and lumber. The great planter and merchant families that rose from this bounty made Charleston a glittering center of wealth, power and culture. The city has long prized and preserved its heritage. As you stroll the city's cobbled streets, history is on display. The College of Charleston was founded in 1770. The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, built 1771, was the sight of a Southern "Boston Tea Party" in 1773. St. Michael's Episcopal Church, built 1752, is the oldest church building in the city-both George Washington and Robert E. Lee attended services there, sitting in Pew 41. And it was in Charleston Harbor, of course, that the first rounds were fired in America's tragic Civil War.
One of the more interesting cities on your itinerary steeped in history. This was the transit port for all the wealth Spain derived from South America. The famous "Old City" is comprised of 12 square blocks filled with attractions, boutiques and restaurants. Throughout Colombia, the Spanish Empire's influence in the New World is self-evident. Its fortress walls, quaint narrow streets, and balconied houses are all vivid reminders of Spain's hold on Cartagena and throughout the Caribbean and South America. This is the land of El Dorado and flamboyant adventurers in search of the ever-elusive gold. Cartagena's well-constructed fortifications defended its borders against seafaring pirates whose attacks lasted for more than 200 years. Today this modern and bustling city, seaport, and commercial center still boasts much of its original colonial architecture. Your journey here will provide you with a significant link to the region's grand past.
The narrow isthmus separating the Atlantic from the Pacific Ocean had a colorful and turbulent history long before Ferdinand de Lesseps first dreamed of building a transcontinental canal. Spanish conquistadors hauled Incan gold through the dense rainforest to ports on the Atlantic. English freebooters sought to ransack those ports and attack the treasure ships that sailed from Portobelo. And 49ers braved mosquitoes and yellow fever to get to the California gold fields. While the Panama Canal remains one of the great American engineering feats of the 20th century, visitors to Panama will discover a whole range of scenic wonders. Hike into the dense rainforest, home to over 1,000 species of animals. Or pay a visit to an Embera Indian village in the heart of Chagres National Park.
The monoliths of Easter Island have fascinated and puzzled Westerners since the Dutch seaman Roggeven made landfall there on Easter Sunday, 1722. The mystery of Easter Island's first settlers remains just that - a mystery. Today, most anthropologists believe the island was settled as part of the great wave of Polynesian emigration. (The oldest of the Moai, as the great monoliths are called, date to 700 A.D.) The society that produced the Moai flourished during the 16th and 17th centuries, but population growth, deforestation and food shortages led to its collapse. Today some 3,400 souls inhabit this 64-square-mile island, which lies some 2,200 miles equidistant from Tahiti and South America. The society of Rapa Nui possessed stone-working skills on a par with those found in the Inca Empire. Islanders also possessed a script called Rongorongo, the only written language in all of Oceania.
Lying below the tropic of Capricorn, halfway between New Zealand and the Americas, lonely Pitcairn Island is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world. It was here that Fletcher Christian and eight of the mutineers of the HMS Bounty, along with their Tahitian companions, came in search of a new life. Set aflame and sunk by the infamous mutineers, parts of the legendary HMS Bounty shipwreck are still visible in the waters of Bounty Bay. Today, one of the island's most famous residents is its sole surviving Galapagos Giant Tortoise, named Turpen, who was introduced to Pitcairn sometime between 1937 and 1951. Several species of seabirds also nest here, including the flightless Henderson Crake, Fairy Terns, the Common Noddy, the Red-tailed Tropic Bird and the Pitcairn Island Warbler.
Tahiti is not just an island - Tahiti has always been a state of mind. The bustling capital of Tahiti and her islands, Papeete is the chief port and trading center, as well as a provocative temptress luring people to her shores. Immortalized in the novel "Mutiny on the Bounty," who could blame the men of "HMS Bounty" for abandoning their ship in favor of basking in paradise? And what would Modern Art be without Tahiti's influence on Gauguin and Matisse? Today the island is a charming blend of Polynesian "joie de vivre" and Gallic sophistication. But venture out from Papeete and you find a landscape of rugged mountains, lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls and deserted beaches. Contrasting with other French Polynesian ports, Papeete's coastline initially greets you with a vista of commercial activity that graciously gives way to both black and white-sand beaches, villages, resorts and historic landmarks.
Majestic mountains sculpted by ancient volcanoes, a shimmering lagoon and a barrier reef dotted with tiny motu, or islets - welcome to Bora Bora, perhaps the most stunning island in the South Pacific. Only 4,600 people live a seemingly idyllic lifestyle in the main villages of Vaitape, Anau and Faanui. No wonder those generations of travelers - including novelist James Michener - regarded Bora Bora as an earthly paradise. Connected to its sister islands by water and by air - the landing strip sits atop Motu Mute, one of the reef's islets - Bora Bora remains relatively unspoiled by the modern world.