Holland America Rolls Out Immersive Excursions in Europe

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Holland America Line has forged a partnership with a prestigious exploration group that will bring new, immersive experiences to guests sailing aboard its ships in the Mediterranean in the summer of 2023. The program is offered on two ships, Oosterdam and Nieuw Statendam.

Line Announces National Geographic Partnership

This summer, immersive experiences on two Holland America Line ships will reach new heights thanks to a collaboration between the cruise line and National Geographic.

A series of new shore excursions led by National Geographic-trained specialist guides will allow Mediterranean cruise guests to connect more deeply with local people and landmarks.

The program, called National Geographic Day Tours, is available onboard the 1,964-guest Oosterdam and the 2,106-guest Nieuw Statendam.

Four excursions are offered on 7- to 14-day itineraries departing from Trieste, Italy; Athens, Greece, and Barcelona, Spain, with port calls in Rhodes and Santorini, Greece, Kusadas, Turkey, and Naples, Italy.

Holland America in the Mediterranean
Holland America in the Mediterranean (Photo Courtesy: Holland America Line)

We are continually looking for enriching and transformative experiences for our guests and the new National Geographic Day Tours are not only immersive, but provide exclusive access and hands-on experiences,said Carole Biencourt, vice president of shore tour experience for Holland America Line.

“We are pleased to offer them to guests across our Mediterranean itineraries that visit these ports and will look to expand the program in the near future,” she added.

Immersive Experiences Are Key to Programs

The National Geographic tours are: “A Day in the Life of a Marine Biologist,” in Naples, “Meet the Locals in Santorini,” “Influential Women in Turkey: From Past to Present,” in Kusadasi, and “The Fascinating World of Bees,” in Rhodes.

During the Santorini excursion, for example, guests will spend a day at the homes of two Santorini families, learning about their lives on the island and enjoying regional wine and cuisine. Guests also will visit the island’s famous blue-domed church, Panagia Kalamiotissa, and tour a winery.

Holland America Oosterdam
Photo Credit: Haland / Shutterstock

On another day tour, in Kusadasi, cruise guests will learn about the women who have influenced Turkish society from ancient to modern times. Touring features the Temple Artemis and the House of the Virgin Mary, in Ephesus.

Also, on this excursion, a local chef will lead a tour of the Yedi Bilgeler winery, which still cultivates vines said to be 2,000 years old. A wine-pairing menu is included in the winery tour.

In the Mediterranean this summer, Oosterdam and Nieuw Statendam offer a wide variety of itineraries. On Oosterdam’s 12-day Adriatic Dream, sailing from Rome to Trieste on July 26, port calls include Naples, Santorini, Iraklion, in Crete, Athens, Kusadasi, and Kotor, in Montenegro, among other destinations.

A Record of Expanding Guest Experiences

Holland America Line, celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2023, in recent years, has grown its roster of immersive experiences.

The line’s Alaska Up Close program was expanded this summer to include new activities such as workshops, lectures, and Exploration Central Talks that feature local Alaskans, plus local culinary events like an Alaskan-inspired brunch. Tours also highlight the Huna Tlingit native peoples.

Also, earlier this year, the Carnival Corporation brand unveiled a new category of longer, destination-immersive sailings called Legendary Voyages, featuring a series of itineraries ranging from 25 to 59 days.

Nieuw Statendam Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: StudioPortoSabbia / Shutterstock

The voyages are offered in Australia and New Zealand, the Amazon and South America, South Pacific and Hawaii, Greenland and Iceland, Asia, Alaska, and the Arctic Circle.

Highlights include in-depth explorations while in port, along with immersive shipboard programs that delve into the culture and history of destinations the ships are visiting.

Other special excursions, offered on Holland America Line ships across the globe, zero in on culinary events offered in partnership with Food & Wine Magazine. These outings offer experiences such as learning how to make authentic pizza in Naples, and shopping with a chef in Barcelona and then cooking with the chef.

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