Visit Bay of Islands, Sydney, Australia, Brisbane, Komodo Island, Singapore Marina Bay, Colombo, Sri Lanka, Mina Qabos, UAE, Dubai, Aqaba, Argostoli, Corfu, Kotor, Dubrovnik, Venice, Italy (Ancona), Messina, Salerno, Barcelona, Lisbon, Southampton, Cork, Ireland, Reykjavik, Nanortalik, Qaqortoq, Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Saguenay, Quebec, Charlottetown, New York, Charleston, Miami, Key West, Limon, Manta, Lima. Peru, Easter Island, Pitcairn Islands, Papeete, Raiatea 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.
Once considered the "country cousin" among Australian cities, Brisbane is today the nation's third-largest metropolis - and one of the most desirable places to live in the country. Lying on the banks of the meandering Brisbane River, this cosmopolitan city boasts elegant 19th-century sandstone buildings, a lively cultural scene and superb parklands. Brisbane is also your gateway to uniquely Australian adventures, be it the theme parks of the Gold Coast or Queensland's dazzling beaches.
Komodo lizards quietly thrived in the harsh climate of Indonesia's Lesser Sunda Islands for millions of years until their existence was discovered about 100 years ago?when Dutch sailors encountered the creatures for the first time, they returned with reports of fire-breathing dragons. Reaching 10 feet in length and weighing over 300 pounds, Komodo dragons are the world's largest and heaviest lizards. The best place to view these magnificent and endangered creatures is on Komodo Island, the largest island in Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Man and Biosphere Reserve. Although Komodo National Park is famous for its most recognized inhabitant it's also noted for its diverse marine habitat. 1,000 species of fish, 260 species of reef-building coral, manta rays, sharks, dolphins, whales and sea turtles live in the park's coral reefs, mangroves, sea grass beds and semi-enclosed bays.
Singapore - the very name summons visions of the mysterious East. The commercial center of Southeast Asia, this island city-state of four million people is a metropolis of modern high-rise buildings, Chinese shop-houses with red-tiled roofs, sturdy Victorian buildings, Buddhist temples and Arab bazaars. Founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles of the fabled East India Company, the city is a melting pot of people and cultures. Malay, Chinese, English and Tamil are official languages. Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Hinduism and Christianity are the major faiths. Singapore is an ever-fascinating island boasting colorful traditions, luxurious hotels and some of the finest duty-free shopping in the world. Lying just 85 miles north of the Equator at the tip of the Malay Peninsula, the island was a haven for Malay pirates and Chinese and Arab traders.
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.
Oman's capital was once a major trading centre controlled and influenced by the Portuguese. Those intrepid explores and traders are long gone. Today, visitors flock to Oman thanks to its azure air, towering desert mountains, and crystalline waters. Muscat itself is an Arabian fable sprung to life. Old 16th century forts guard the bay and the palace, while the vibrant souqs offer daggers, superb silver jewellery, and traditional crafts and costumes.
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.
The largest of the Ionian Islands, Cephalonia possesses a classic landscape with an arid mountain interior and a rocky seacoast punctuated by bays and beaches. Mount Ainos, the island's major peak, towers a mile above sea level, while the busy seaport of Argostoli is Cephalonia's largest town. The Jet Set and the international yachting community have frequented the old fishing ports of Fiskardo and Sami since the late 1950s. But the island's population soared in the 1980s and '90s, as increasing numbers of general travelers discovered Cephalonia's superb beaches, dramatic caves, and picturesque villages.
The lush and verdant island of Corfu lies in the Ionian Sea, midway between Greece and Italy. The island has a long and colorful history. First colonized by the city-state of Corinth, Corfu has been ruled by the Romans, the Venetians, the French and the English. Corfu Town boasts fortresses bearing the insignia of the Venetian Republic, an esplanade lavishly planted by the French during the Napoleonic Wars, and an English cricket pitch. The island also offers some of the finest coastal scenery in the entire Mediterranean.
Kotor lies at the head of Boka Bay. Bordered by towering limestone cliffs, the winding bay is actually Southern Europe's longest and most dramatic fjord. The port itself is a medieval gem: its narrow, asymmetrical streets are lined with ancient stone houses, old palaces, and churches dating from the 12th century. Kotor is also your gateway to the cultural and scenic wonders of Montenegro, from the old royal capital at Cetinje to the marshes and wildlife of Lake Skadar National Park. Kotor is renowned for its nightlife: the streets of the old port are lined with pubs, taverns and cafés. The city is also host to a renowned summer carnival.
Dubrovnik is a beautiful stone jewel hugging the Adriatic Sea. This picture-perfect medieval walled city offers ancient stone buildings, narrow cobbled streets and fortified ramparts rising above red-tiled rooftops. Stradun is the city's focal point and main artery while Dubrovnik's streets are blessedly free of vehicular traffic. Despite the heavy damage inflicted by shelling in the early '90s, Dubrovnik has been restored to its pre-war beauty. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the old city remains the pride of the Republic of Croatia. For six centuries Dubrovnik was an independent republic - an oligarchy ruled by patrician families. The Republic was overthrown by Napoleon in 1808.
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.
Messina has played a major role in European history since its founding as a Greek colony in the 8th century B.C. During the Roman Empire, the city was a major port and commercial center, during the Middle Ages, Messina was the major port of departure for Crusaders. History has also left its scars: a massive earthquake leveled much of the city in 1908 and the World War II campaign for Sicily devastated Messina. Yet Messina emerged from that devastation with some of its historic treasures intact, including the 12th-century Annunziata dei Catalani Church. Messina is also your gateway to the rugged beauty of southeast Sicily, from the seaside resort of Taormina to Mt. Etna. Between the fall of Rome and the 1861 unification of Italy, the Arabs, the Normans, the Germans, the Spanish and the French ruled Sicily.
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.
The south of England boasts a dramatic coastline that encloses some of the most beautiful countryside in Britain. The landscape of hills and heaths, downs and forests, valleys and dales, is without rival. Southampton serves as your gateway to the countryside - and to a wide variety of historic sites, national landmarks and charming. And of course, London is a two-hour drive by modern highway. The United Kingdom's premier passenger ship port, Southampton was home for many years to the great transatlantic liners of yesteryear.
Founded in the 7th century by St. Fin Barre, Cork is your gateway to romantic Ireland. Stroll down narrow country lanes or see the Lakes of Killarney. The intrepid visitor may scale the narrow passages of Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone. The region around Cork is also home to one of the densest concentration of prehistoric monuments in Western Europe. And, in a land where fable and fact blend to become folklore, it was near Cork that the great Tuatha De Danaan, a race with magical powers, was driven underground by the conquering Celts. Cobh was the single most important port of emigration from Ireland.
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.
Greenland's southernmost town of Nanortalik or place of bears -- is to experience wilderness up close. With white-tailed eagles soaring above, giant polar bears floating on massive ice floes, and manatees and whales frolicking at sea, it's a slice of unspoiled frontier. And in Greenland, it goes without saying that nature comes first.
Greenland is located east of northern Canada and is the largest Island in the world. With over half of the Island north of the Arctic Circle, Greenland naturally offers a scenic landscape of icy glaciers and wildlife. Politically, the Island is a part of Europe, but geographically it sits closer to North America. Greenland is inhabited by a civilization that is both ancient and resilient. Although small in number, the Intuit people who inhabit Greenland live in closely knit villages and towns.
Corner Brook is located on the west coast of Newfoundland nestled among the Long Range Mountains. The coastline is filled with magnificent fjords, thick forested areas and jagged headlands. For thousands of years, people have lived and worked along the shores of the Humber River Valley and the Bay of Islands. The Port of Corner Brook has been welcoming cruise ships for more than 30 years. Nestled in the sheltered Bay of Islands, the 35 kilometre (22 mile) sail into Corner Brook is a favorite among cruise passengers, especially in the fall when the Blomidon Mountains are ablaze with vibrant autumn leaves. James Cook was the first to survey and record the geography of the Bay of Islands. Most of the maps he created are displayed at the Captain James Cook Monument. This picturesque region has many groomed walking trails as well as many thriving communities. Mount Moriah, Benoit's Cove, John's Beach and Frenchman's Cove and Lark Harbour are some of the fishing and mountain communities on Captain Cook's Trail.
The Saguenay Fjord Route is an outstanding landscape of sea, mountains and rising cliffs protected by three National Parks. Its exceptional natural beauty can be discovered by land, sea or air. With a decidedly French atmosphere and a touch of the Old World, the banks of the Saguenay Fjord are lined with charming villages surrounded by beautiful landscapes.
To visit Québec is to experience France without crossing the Atlantic. The architecture, the ambience, and the animated conversation on the street confirm the impression that a bit of France has been permanently imbedded in North America. Stroll along the streets of the atmospheric Latin Quarter and explore the historic stone and brick houses of Old Québec, the only remaining walled city north of Mexico. Visit the Place Royale and Notre Dame des Victoires, the oldest stone church in North America, and marvel at the turreted Château de Frontenac.
While Prince Edward Island is Canada's smallest providence in terms of area and population, it more than makes up for this with the friendliness of its people, its natural beauty, and for being known as the birthplace of Canada. The island's landscape is dramatic and features rolling hills, pristine forests, reddish-white sand beaches, ocean coves and the famous red soil. The capital of Charlottetown offers a small town feel and a relaxed atmosphere with a cosmopolitan flair. The town has evolved into a dynamic city without sacrificing its historic charm. One certainly cannot think about Prince Edward without mentioning the author Lucy Maud Montgomery who once lived on PEI and drew inspiration from the land during the late Victorian Era for the setting of her classic novel "Anne of Green Gables." PEI also has another claim to fame with the Confederation Bridge built in 1997. The world's longest bridge over ice-covered waters provides a connection from PEI to the mainland Canada.
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.
Costa Rica's Limon Province boasts pristine beaches, sprawling banana plantations and dense rainforest. These Caribbean lowlands are still sparsely populated--nearly a third of the province's population lives around Puerto Limon--and conservation efforts have led to growing eco-tourism. Limon Province offers other charms as well. Afro-Caribbean influences abound, from the lilting speech and reggae rhythms brought by Jamaican settlers to the colorful bungalows lining small fishing villages. Limon is a zesty little slice of heaven.
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.
In 1535, Francisco Pizarro labeled the open plains where Lima now stands as inhospitable. Despite the verdict of the great conquistador, Lima became the center of imperial Spanish power, a "City of Kings" where 40 viceroys would rule as the direct representatives of the King of Spain. With independence in 1821, Lima became Peru's capital. Near Lima, one of the world's most desolate deserts is home to the famed drawings of Nazca. These drawings inspired Erik von Daniken's best-selling book "Chariots of the Gods." With mysteries seeming to be part of Peru's history, perhaps these "drawings" are in fact "the largest astronomy book in the world."
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.
Considered the second largest island in French Polynesia, Raiatea is situated approximately 120 miles northwest of Tahiti. For the Polynesian "Maohi," ancestor of today's Tahitian, Raiatea was known as "Sacred Havai'i" and was the center of royalty, religion, culture and history. The principal village is Uturoa, with a population of over 10,000. This bustling port town features a colorful market and arts and crafts shops along the waterfront. Raiatea is currently undergoing a renaissance, with special attention being given to preserve the island's rich culture and heritage. Raiatea's importance as both a religious and historical center for all of Polynesia is complemented by a wealth of archaelogical sites, tropical scenery and reef fringed lagoons.
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