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Setting sail from Tampa
The Tampa Bay area of Florida is home to some of the finest beaches in the USA, as well as a host of cultural attractions. The city of Tampa itself may not be the main draw, but it still has some interesting sights, including historic Ybor City, Tampa's atmospheric Latin Quarter. The neighbouring city of St. Petersburg is home to the excellent waterfront Salvador Dalí Museum, and Sarasota's Ringling Museum of Art also hosts some interesting exhibitions. Other attractions in the area include Busch Gardens, a world class zoo and adventure park that provides great family entertainment.
Henry B. Plant was the father of Tampa. His 1891 built Tampa Bay Hotel now houses the Henry B. Plant museum, with the original furnishings, architecture and artifacts still adorning the walls.
United States: Key West
Colourful and eccentric, the island city of Key West stands apart from the rest of Florida. A strong Caribbean influence reflects the city’s proximity to Cuba and the Bahamas, and it has long been known as a bohemian hangout, a welcoming and open-minded place that Ernest Hemingway once called home.
Puerto Rico: San Juan
Founded by the Spanish in 1521, Puerto Rico’s capital is the second oldest European settlement in the Americas. Modern San Juan is a bustling city, home to over a third of the island’s population, but the cobbled streets of the Old Town remain the biggest tourist draw.
U.S. Virgin Islands: St Thomas
The busiest and most developed of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas is nevertheless blessed with typically Caribbean good looks. The main town, Charlotte Amalie, is situated on a perfect natural harbour, and in its colonial heyday its warehouses were filled with indigo, tobacco and cotton.
Antigua and Barbuda: St John's
Antigua is famously home to 365 beaches - one for every day of the year - and there is an undeniable allure to the many white sand coves dotted along the coast. The capital, St John’s, is worth a look, but if you’ve got time to visit the south coast you’ll find historic Nelson’s Dockyard a lot more interesting.
Saint Lucia: Castries
Castries, Saint Lucia’s diminutive capital, is home to some interesting markets and colonial buildings. The island’s highlights are situated elsewhere, however, and we’d recommend either heading south towards Soufrière, where the iconic Piton mountains guard a beautiful bay, or north to the bars, restaurants and beaches of Rodney Bay.
The tiny Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba, located just off the coast of Venezuela, lies outside of the hurricane belt, meaning it enjoys a largely dry climate, and boasts some of the best beaches in the region, if not the world.
The gabled houses of Willemstad lend an undeniably Dutch feel to the capital of little Curaçao, with a splash of Caribbean colour thrown in. The island itself is not your typical lush tropical paradise - the landscape is characterised instead by thorny shrubs and cacti - but there are some fantastic beaches and quaint little villages.
Cayman Islands: Grand Cayman
Far more than just an offshore tax haven, Grand Cayman boasts the staggeringly beautiful white sands of Seven Mile Beach and some fantastic snorkelling in crystal clear waters. The capital, George Town, is a compact and friendly place, home to some interesting architecture and a suspiciously large number of registered companies.
Arriving in Tampa
This is a great destination for families, but otherwise the Mundy advice is to give it a miss – Sarasota is perhaps a better option.
Your home from home
With just over 1,400 guests, this inviting mid-size ship is the perfect combination: small enough to maintain a friendly atmosphere and high levels of service, and large enough to offer plenty of choice and variety in dining and activity.
What we love
A Holland America ship is very distinctive, with an outstanding collection of art and sculpture on board that takes you back to the heritage of the company's maritime roots, and forward to its contemporary and innovative style.
|Crew||600 International Staff|
A relaxed, warm and welcoming atmosphere makes Rotterdam an excellent choice for stylish travellers enjoying space and elegance as they explore.
|Cruising Speed||25 knots|
Tailor-make your trip
Tampa Bay accommodation
Stay in St Petersburg rather than Tampa itself – try the Pink Palace, as the Don CeSar is known.
See more of Florida
Go out to the state parks for wildlife exploration, but watch out for the alligators.