Holland America Line New Years Cruise: Welcoming the New Year on HAL’s MS Westerdam

ABOARD MS WESTERDAM – Even as a teenager, New Year’s Eve has always been difficult for me to deal with. When I was with Pan Am I always made sure that I was flying that night so that I wouldn’t feel the transition from one year to the next. Since then, I’ve made it a point of hunkering down and staying home to avoid the “event.” So, this year when I had the opportunity to sail on …

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Holland America Line New Years Cruise: Touring Old San Juan

ABOARD MS WESTERDAM – Gliding into port in San Juan, Puerto Rico is like entering another world. On one hand, there’s the old fort – officially known as Castillo San Felipe del Morro – constructed in honor of Spain’s Phillip II to guard the entrance to San Juan Bay in the 16th century – and on the other, large modern buildings testifying to modern-day San Juan. I used to spend a lot of time here when I …

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Holland America Line New Years Cruise: Kicking Back in Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos

ABOARD MS WESTERDAM – There’s one sure way to stake a claim to beach umbrellas and securing a nice swath of soft sandy beach before some 2,000 passengers descend on the beach, and that’s to send a couple of scouts ahead. That’s exactly what we did when we woke up to our day in paradise in Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos. While a host of excursions were offered including snorkel trips, ATV adventures, kayaking tours and even …

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Holland America Line New Years Cruise: The Call of the Sea

ONBOARD MS WESTERDAM – There’s something about the sea that’s always called to me and has soothed whatever ails me throughout my life. As a child growing up in Rio, the ocean was part of our daily ritual and I guess it’s something I’ve carried with me always. Today is our first day at sea and I’m happy to leave the stress of December behind and indulge in some much needed TLC, courtesy of Holland America. I’m …

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Setting sail for the New Year on board Holland America’s Westerdam

ABOARD MS WESTERDAM – After a thankfully uneventful flight from Hartford to Ft. Lauderdale, my blended family of 10 enjoyed a painless embarkation onto Holland America’s MS Westerdam. As we joined some 2,000 other passengers in the Port of Ft. Lauderdale terminal to show our documents etc, there was a fellow passenger who somehow had left his passport – needed for embarkation – in his suitcase. It was painful to watch the horror on his face as …

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Kicking Off the New Year On Board Holland America’s Westerdam

It’s not often that you get to bid farewell to an old year, and kick off the new on board a luxurious ship in the balmy Caribbean. I’m lucky enough to be doing that this year with my family so with such an auspicious start, I’m programming a wonderful year ahead. I’m counting my blessings as I pack for my upcoming voyage on Holland America’s Westerdam. We’ll be boarding in Ft. Lauderdale on December 26 for a …

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Why Viking is an excellent choice for your river cruise

ABOARD VIKING GULLVEIG – Obviously there are many choices out there when you’re trying to decide on a river cruise and selecting the right company can be a dilemma – especially when you’ve never done one – as was the case with me. I can honestly and fairly report, that Viking River Cruise’s excellent service – even before I boarded – was stellar and I highly recommend them if you’re in the market for a magical adventure. …

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Final Day: Budapest

ABOARD THE VIKING GULLVEIG – What can you say about a city that takes your breath away? Budapest, our final stop is such a place. Despite grey clouds and crisp temperature, this city split in two on both sides of the Danube is a jewel. Historic Buda on the east and cosmopolitan Pest (pronounced “Pesht”) on the west are brimming with culture, history and fascinating attractions. The Hungarian capital is a treasure trove of Baroque, Neoclassical and …

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Day Six – Stepping Back in Time in Bratislava

ABOARD VIKING GULLVEIG – In contrast to the elegant city of Vienna we visited yesterday, we traveled in time – and to another world in Bratislava, Slovakia. Once part of the Hapsburg Empire and much later, under the domain of Russia, it’s a stark contrast to anything we’ve seen on this trip. In 1993 the Slovaks and the Czechs separated in what is referred to as the “Velvet Divorce” and Slovakia became an independent state, joining the …

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Day Five: Visions of Vienna

ABOARD VIKING GULLVEIG – This morning Viking planned a half-day tour of this elegant city, where we spent the day exploring the old and the new. Vestiges of the mighty Hapsburg Empire, which was established here in 1273, can be found throughout this beautiful capital. After boarding yet another First Class bus and donning our “quiet vox” equipment, we met our guide Anna Lise who gave us an overview of the city during our 20 minute drive, …

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