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Setting sail from Brisbane
As Queensland's largest city, Brisbane is often used as a gateway to the excellent (although very popular) beaches of Australia's Gold Coast, which lie south of the city, or the more upmarket Sunshine Coast to the north. The modern city, on the banks of the Brisbane River, has plenty of shopping malls and, with great weather, a fantastic café culture. Amongst the steel and glass skyscrapers are some interesting historic buildings, and with plenty surrounding the city there's enough on offer to make for an interesting short stay.
Stroll through the South Bank Parklands. An inviting stretch along the river with barbecue areas, pockets of rainforest, cafés and bars, and even man-made beaches and tropical swimming pools.
New Caledonia: Nouméa
Nouméa is the capital of New Caledonia, a French overseas territory in the South Pacific.The city is cosmopolitan and sophisticated, home to lovely little bistros and chic boutiques, providing quite a contrast to the rugged landscapes of the surrounding countryside.
New Caledonia: Mare
Vanuatu: Port Vila
Situated on a magnificent natural harbour, Port Vila is the sleepy and seductive capital of Vanuatu. This friendly town is the perfect introduction to this intriguing Pacific island nation, with colourful markets, a unique Melanesian culture and some jaw-dropping nearby beaches.
Vanuatu: Mystery Island
Lautoka is Fiji’s second largest city, known as the ‘Sugar City’ due to its important role in the local sugarcane industry. The waterfront area is pleasant enough, but we’d recommend using Lautoka as a jumping off point to visit some of the smaller surrounding islands, or the forests and waterfalls of the interior.
Fiji: Vanua Levu
Fiji’s second largest island is a world away from the bustle of neighbouring Viti Levu, a sleepy, rural place where tourism is still relatively low key. The beautiful bay at Savusavu, on the south coast, is a popular spot with the sailing crowd, while a journey through the interior will take you past sugarcane fields, thick jungle and picturesque little villages.
New Zealand: Bay of Islands
The beautiful Bay of Islands is scattered with some 150 undeveloped islands, an idyllic landscape of bright skies, secluded beaches and clear blue waters. The bay was also the site of the first permanent British settlement in New Zealand, and it was here that the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the British Crown and the Maori chiefs.
New Zealand: Tauranga
Tauranga is the largest city on the Bay of Plenty, and is said to be one of the sunniest spots in the whole of New Zealand. There’s a real boom town feel here, with new restaurants, bars and hotels opening all the time, and neighbouring Mount Maunganui is a popular beach destination.
New Zealand: Auckland
Auckland offers a buzzing waterfront and a vibrant arts scene, and provides a fascinating introduction to New Zealand’s proud cultural heritage. The centre is home to excellent shopping and a number of fantastic restaurants, and to the west is the city's oldest wine region.
Nuku’Alofa, the ‘Abode of Love’, is the capital of Tonga, the last surviving Polynesian monarchy. The city's main attraction is the Royal Palace, an attractive wooden building dating back to 1867, while the island of Tongatapu offers wild beaches, cute villages and intriguing archaeological sites.
The Vava’u group of islands is part of the Kingdom of Tonga, the last surviving Polynesian monarchy and the only South Pacific nation never to have been colonised by Europeans. Vava’u is idyllic but also authentic, and is one of the best places in the region to see humpback whales during their annual migration between May and October.
The tiny Pacific island of Niue is the world’s smallest independent country, and sits in the centre of the triangle formed by Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands. Niue is surrounded by an almost unbroken coral reef, so it’s a great spot for snorkelling and diving, and it’s also a whale and dolphin watching hotspot.
Cook Islands: Rarotonga
Surrounded by kaleidoscopic reefs, white sand beaches and beautifully blue waters, Rarotonga is exactly what most of us picture when we think of the South Pacific. The lagoon is ideally suited to snorkelling and scuba diving, while the island itself is home to ancient sacred sites and pretty coral churches.
French Polynesia: Bora Bora
Bora Bora is the very definition of idyllic, a diminutive Polynesian island dominated by rainforest-clad volcanic peaks, overlooking an electric blue lagoon ringed by coral reefs. The beaches and over-water bungalows are particularly popular with honeymooners, and the clear waters of the lagoon are perfect for snorkelling.
French Polynesia: Mo'orea
Mo’orea is one of the real highlights of the South Pacific, a picture perfect landscape of jagged green mountains and dazzling cobalt bays. The warm waters of the lagoon are perfect for a host of watersports, while the lush island interior can be easily explored by scooter or bicycle.
French Polynesia: Papeete
Papeete is the capital of French Polynesia, situated on the northwest coast of Tahiti. The port is not the most magical spot, so we advise venturing forth to luxuriate in the turquoise lagoons, relax on the white sand beaches fringed with palm trees, and explore the rugged mountain peaks.
French Polynesia: Rangiroa
The Rangiroa atoll is one of the biggest in the world, a ring of over 400 motu (islets) surrounding a vast lagoon. This stunning area is a popular destination for divers and snorkellers, and the waters are home to marine life including sea turtles, bottlenose dolphins, hammerhead sharks and manta rays.
French Polynesia: Fakarava (Tuamotu Islands)
The Fakarava atoll surrounds a deep lagoon in the west of the Tuamotu island group, scarcely populated and home to a host of rare wildlife. The entire atoll has been declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve, and the shallow coastal waters make for excellent snorkelling.
French Polynesia: Tahuata
French Polynesia: Nuku Hiva
Nuku Hiva is the largest of the Marquesas, an island of towering basalt peaks, cliffs and canyons, carpeted with verdant jungle. From the pretty little capital, Taiohae, you can strike out into the unspoilt countryside in search of the island’s many archaeological sites.
30 April - 6 May
Arriving in San Francisco
Renowned for its food, its misty mornings and its vertiginous streets, cosmopolitan San Francisco is quite unlike any other American city. The birthplace of the hippie movement and the centre of the dot-com bubble, it's an open-minded and forward-looking place with an undeniably European feel. Highlights include the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the delightful waterfront and the bohemian quarter of Haight Ashbury, while a boat trip across to the notorious prison island of Alcatraz makes for a fascinating half-day excursion.
Obviously you can’t miss the cable cars, but even if it feels touristy, make sure you ride them.
Your home from home
The classic Maasdam is an inviting size – spacious, but carrying just over 1,200 guests. Her stylish take on the Holland America traditions make her an excellent choice for those who enjoy a distinctive and cosy ambience.
What we love
Every Holland America ship boasts a wealth of artworks and artefacts, and on Maasdam the theme is the Dutch East and West India companies of the 17th to 19th Centuries - a great trading era. This is an excellent backdrop to the high levels of service and attention on board.
|Crew||580 International Staff|
|Style||The Holland America style is warm and welcoming, with a charming crew and attentive smiling service. A stimulating onboard programme keeps guests busy at sea, and they enjoy the sociable contrast to their time exploring ashore.|
|Cruising Speed||22 knots|
Tailor-make your trip
Where to stay in Brisbane
Although not super luxury, we like the Spicers Balfour.
Moreton Bay is home to a great diversity of marine life, with stunning beaches and excellent wreck diving, and offers exciting 4x4 adventures.
Where to stay in San Francisco
It depends where you want to be, but we love the hip Argonaut at Fishermans Wharf.
See more around San Francisco
Get out of the city – Napa Valley, Yosemite, Carmel…