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Setting sail from Rome (Civitavecchia)
One of the world's great cities, Rome continues to dazzle and delight visitors with a potent mix of architectural marvels, continent-defining history and buzzing nightlife. As the saying goes, the city wasn't built in a day, and if you want to make the most of Rome you'll need to spend at least a couple of nights here. The Colosseum, the Vatican and the Forum are among the big ticket items, with the crowds to match, though in truth you will find history around almost every corner.
The Via Appia - this ancient Roman road is now part of a national park, and closed to car traffic on Sundays. Take a picnic, stroll, and visit the extraordinary catacombs.
From the warren-like medieval streets of the Barri Gòtic to the fantastical modernist architecture of Antoni Gaudí, from the dizzy heights of Mount Tibidabo to the golden sands of Barceloneta, there’s never a dull moment in Barcelona.
Spain’s third city is a dazzling destination that combines historic architecture, cutting edge design and an inviting stretch of beach. Don’t miss the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, designed by local architect Santiago Calatrava, or the old riverbed, now a delightful park.
Cartagena was founded by the Carthaginians around 227 BC, who named it after their home city in North Africa. These days the city is best known for its well-preserved Roman theatre, which was remarkably only discovered in 1987, in spite of its location in the centre of town.
Sovereignty of ‘The Rock’ has been a thorny issue ever since Gibraltar was ceded to Britain in 1713, though on the ground it’s clear where most locals’ sympathies lie. Gibraltar is often described as ‘more British than Britain’, a curious enclave of red postboxes, double decker buses and chip shops.
The crumbling, sun-baked seafront city of Cádiz is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the western world, founded by the Phoenicians around 1100 BC. Although the city lacks any obvious landmarks, it’s rich in atmosphere, and plays host to one of Spain’s most colourful carnivals.
Spread across steep hillsides that overlook the Rio Tejo, Lisbon’s colourful cityscape includes Gothic cathedrals, majestic monasteries and quaint museums. But for many the best times will be had wandering the narrow lanes of Lisbon’s lovely backstreets, with their great local food, wine and music.
Belgium: Zeebrugge (Bruges)
Zeebrugge’s main attraction is its proximity to Bruges. This beautifully preserved old town is a magical maze of winding cobbled lanes, narrow canals and gorgeous gabled houses, and it’s no wonder so many visitors throng the streets in summer.
Amsterdam is one of our very favourite cities to visit, as well as also being a perfect base to explore the nearby landscape of windmills and dikes. There is a wealth of famous museums and galleries to choose from, such as the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Anne Frank House.
Dramatically located at the head of the Aurlandsfjord, the picturesque little village of Flåm is a popular base for excursions into Norway’s great outdoors. Strike out into the surrounding countryside and you’ll find steep mountains, cascading waterfalls and bucolic farms, with some spectacular walking and cycling trails.
Stavanger originally grew rich from its fishing industry, though these days it’s Norway’s oil boom that is powering the city’s economic growth. In spite of this modern gold rush the historic centre of Stavanger retains its charm, and the spectacular Lysefjord is within easy reach of the city.
You might not expect to find a beach resort in Norway, but the sunny city of Kristiansand is where Norwegians go for a spot of fun by the seaside. There are plenty of family-friendly attractions, including a zoo, and it’s also a good base for exploring the pretty fishing villages of the south coast.
The intriguing city of Oslo, Norway’s capital, has so much to offer, from the open air Norwegian Folk Museum to the amazing Vigeland sculpture park, and from the Holmenkollen Ski Museum to the Munch Museum’s collection of memorable paintings. History, art and culture are what defines this lovely city.
Arriving in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is one of our very favourite cities to visit, as well as also being a perfect base to explore the nearby landscape of windmills and dikes. The Amsterdam canal belt is now officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and from them there are so many neighbourhoods to explore, such as the Jordaan with its higgledy-piggledy streets and its famed garden courtyards (hofjes). There are also a wealth of famous museums and galleries to choose from, such as the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Anne Frank House, not to mention some more, shall we say, quirky options.
The quaint cobbled streets that straddle Amsterdam’s grandest canals, known as De Negen Straatjes, are awash with history and contain some of the most unique shops in the city.
Your home from home
Holland America Line's newest and largest ship to date, the magnificent 2,650 guest MS Koningsdam, is the first of the Pinnacle Class ships in the fleet, to be followed by MS Nieuw Statendam in 2018. The new ships combine Holland America’s heritage with the ultimate in 21st century elegance.
What we love
It is great to see a classic line reinvent itself, and Holland America have done just that with Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam - the tradition and nautical heritage are there, along with stylish service, a friendly welcome, cutting edge technology and contemporary design.
|Crew||1,036 International Staff|
Fluid curves and graceful lines, light-filled spaces and breath-taking architecture create an engaging environment on Koningsdam, which rethinks the Holland America style for the contemporary cruiser.
|Year built||2016 (MS Koningsdam) / 2018 (MS Nieuw Statendam)|
Tailor-make your trip
Extend your stay in Rome
There are so many great hotels but we particularly love the Campo de’ Fiori, for its great location in the centre of everything.
Beat the queues
Get a private guide to help you jump the queues into the Vatican who can whizz you through the galleries to see the essentials and ensure your best view of the Sistine Chapel.
Two nights in Amsterdam
There is a fantastic range of canal front hotels to choose from, but we love the new Waldorf Astoria.
Visit windmills in Zaanse Schans, the flowers at Keukenhof, or the cheese market in Alkmaar.