11 Night Cruise sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale aboard Eurodam.
Holland America Line’s first Signature-class ship, Eurodam has recently received many exciting updates. Guests on this graceful ship can enjoy the full Music Walk™ experience, including Lincoln Center Stage, B.B. King’s Blues Club and Billboard Onboard. Explore onboard at a cooking class or hands-on workshop with America’s Test Kitchen, BBC Earth Experiences and a Digital Workshop Powered by Windows®. Dine in your choice of specialty restaurants.
Highlights of this cruise:
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US
Shimmering blue waters, swaying palm trees and soft ocean breezes greet you in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where you'll find yourself somewhere between laid-back island time and the fast pace of a thriving city. In this sun-filled, year-round beach town, pristine beaches are the main attraction, shorts and flip-flops are the daily uniform, and yachts are often the preferred form of transportation. It's a place where you can do as much, or as little, as you desire.
Because of its many canals and waterways, Ft. Lauderdale is sometimes called the Venice of America. It's home to the annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, one of the largest in-water boat shows in the world. Visitors can easily get a taste of the area's nautical lifestyle by cruising the Intracoastal Waterway on an old-fashioned paddle wheeler. Other options include hopping aboard one of the popular water taxis or Venetian gondolas that glide down the historic New River, which flows right through town.
While Ft. Lauderdale is often overshadowed by its flashy neighbor, Miami, the port city is expanding rapidly as major developers and high-end resorts build up the beachfront and surrounding neighborhoods. Visitors will find world-class shopping on famous Las Olas Boulevard, celebrated restaurants and a cultural explosion in the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District. It's clear that Ft. Lauderdale is solidifying its place as a sophisticated destination.
Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
If you've ever dreamed of the castaway experience or having a private island of your own—and who hasn’t, at least once?—Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas offers the opportunity to fulfill that fantasy. Also known as Little San Salvador Island, Half Moon Cay is located 16 kilometers (10 miles) southeast of Nassau. In 1996, Holland America Line purchased the island and decided to set aside most of it as a protected wildlife sanctuary—only two percent of the island has been developed. This is especially appreciated by photographers and bird-watching enthusiasts as they explore the preserve and its variety of species.
At 10 square kilometers (four square miles), the island is small enough that you can see it all in a day, yet large enough to offer a range of activities: horseback riding, snorkeling with stingrays, a range of water sports and, of course, simply lounging on the beach while taking occasional dips in the clear sea to cool off. At the island’s Straw Market, you can shop for crafts made in the Bahamas, while the waterfront bars and Tropics Restaurant are ready to serve you a meal or drink when you've finished surveying your private paradise.
Located off the coast of Venezuela, the windswept Dutch island of Aruba is otherworldly. Here, the beaches are spectacularly pristine, the waters are romantically restless, the island interior is lunar-like and filled with cacti, and the trees are—quite famously—bent in the wind. The island's consistent trade winds are part of the destination's allure: They keep the humidity, rain and hurricanes common in much of the Caribbean during its off-season at bay.
The main port and capital city, Oranjestad, is a maze of Dutch-colonial architecture painted in a palette of Caribbean pastels. There are some historic sites of note and myriad shops, from boutiques to megastores, selling all sorts of keepsakes, with jewelry and gold being popular items—in fact, gold was mined here in the 19th century. In Oranjestad and along the beaches you'll also find a treasure trove of excellent seafood restaurants, while farther afield are lighthouses, gold mine ruins and natural wonders that reflect the rugged appeal of Aruba.
The capital of Curaçao, Willemstad, is almost as old as a more famous Dutch settlement—it was founded in 1634, just 10 years after New Amsterdam, later called New York. But while the Dutch control of New Amsterdam was relatively brief, Curaçao remains a part of the Netherlands to this day. Its historic center is a unique mixture of Dutch architecture and Caribbean pastels, its gabled row houses overlooking Sint Anna Bay, a waterway dividing the city in two and connecting the Caribbean to the protected Schottegat Bay. The entire historic center of Willemstad has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While Willemstad's legendary days of yore can be explored at institutions like the Kura Hulanda and Curaçao Maritime Museum, this is a vibrant, living city too. Highlights of this multicultural melting pot might include a stop at its floating market and a visit to a curaçao distillery to taste the famous local liqueur. Natural wonders await as well: Some of the Caribbean’s most stunning diving and snorkeling spots are here. Finally, a meal in Willemstad will let you experience the diversity of the island through the surprising flavors of its cuisine, which reflects European, Caribbean and Latin American influences.
Its official name is Cartagena de Indias—or "Cartagena of the Indies"—but call it Cartagena for short. The formal name hints at this Colombian city's colonial relationship with Spain; it was founded in 1533 and named after the mother country's Cartagena. Colombia declared independence in 1810, but there's plenty about its fifth-largest city that evokes old Spain, including the impressive fort of Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, and the wall that encloses the old town, one of the few intact structures of its kind in the Americas. Both were considered important enough to inscribe on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1984. They may be historical artifacts, but the fortress and wall aren't merely tourist attractions; they are central to daily life here. Take a stroll and you'll see couples sitting atop the wall, locked in passionate embraces; parents watching their children walk it like a balance beam; and friends chatting while enjoying the Caribbean breeze. Along with history, there's cultural and culinary intrigue here, too. This colorful city was a muse of the late Nobel Prize–winning writer Gabriel García Márquez, and is increasingly being recognized outside Colombia for its cuisine, which takes many cues from Caribbean ingredients. (Don't leave without trying the coconut rice.)
Enter Panama Canal Balboa
The town of Balboa stands at the Pacific end of one of the world's great engineering wonders, the Panama Canal. Long the administrative center of the Canal Zone, it was U.S. territory until the last day of the last century, when it was returned to Panama on December 31, 1999. The 77-kilometer (48-mile) route that begins here and ends at the Caribbean unfolds like an epic tale.
Over the span of a decade, tens of thousands of workers drilled dynamite holes, drove belching steam shovels and labored with pickaxes, all the while fighting off malaria. While the French builders of the Suez Canal ultimately gave up in Panama, American crews persevered as they hauled away mountains and created a route across the continent. As David McCullough recounts in The Path Between the Seas, it was a combination of sheer human might and what was at the time the latest engineering prowess that made this feat possible. It has since saved many sailors from the almost 13,000-kilometer (8,000-mile) journey around the tip of South America. In 2016 an expansion more than doubled the Panama Canal's capacity, ensuring that it will continue to be central to the world's maritime traffic.
Cruising Panama Canal And Gatun Lake
In recent years, a Panama City building boom has invited the inevitable comparison to Dubai. Miami might be more accurate in terms of the skyline, but either way a mighty impressive transformation has taken place in a city that was once known primarily for one thing, the canal. And the forward trend continues with the 2014 opening of a metro line and major new green spaces. With English widely spoken and a U.S. dollar-based economy, Panama is an easy place to visit, which helps account for the enormous number of American citizens now living there.
Dating to 1519, Panama City holds the distinction of being the Spanish Crown’s first city on the Pacific. Gold, silver and treasures plundered from all the Americas were transported across the isthmus and sent back to the Old World. Panama City prospered big time for centuries, so today’s boom is really a sequel. The great news for preservation-minded travelers is that, despite the rapid urban change, the city is actively improving the Casco Viejo, its historic colonial heart. After the pirate Henry Morgan plundered the original settlement, this walled seafront area grew to be filled with mansions and churches of great distinction. It’s all still there.
Gatun Lake, Panama
At the center of one of the world’s greatest engineering projects is a place where nature has been given a space to flourish—the vast Gatún Lake. The lake includes some 33 kilometers (20 miles) of the 77-kilometer (48-mile) route that ships follow through the Panama Canal. While a passenger gazing at its forested shores may assume they are looking at a landscape that predates the canal, the lake is as much a manmade creation as the various locks. It was formed in 1912, with the damming of the Chagres River, and the islands that dot the lake were once the peaks of hills.
The surface of the lake sits at an elevation of between 25 and 27 meters (82 and 87 feet) above sea level. At its Caribbean end, the Gatún Locks raise ships traveling towards the Pacific to the level of the lake; at its other end, the Pedro Miguel and then the Miraflores Locks lower them back to sea level. In addition to opportunities to see the infrastructure of the canal, created at the expense of millions of dollars and thousands of lives, Gatún Lake is fascinating for its remarkable biodiversity. More than 100 species each of mammals and reptiles, as well as some 500 different birds, thrive in the nature reserves in and near the lake.
Exit Panama Canal Cristobal
Think of the Panama Canal, and the image that may come to mind is of the world’s huge tankers and cruise ships passing through a series of locks. That, however, reflects only one aspect of this part of the world. As ships travel from the Pacific to the Atlantic, they also pass colonial towns, historic fortresses and manmade lakes that are today home to sanctuaries for hundreds of different animal and plant species. At the canal’s Pacific entrance, Panama City's glittering skyline of office towers and condominiums reflects the country’s dynamic present and future. Some 77 kilometers (48 miles) to the north, at the Caribbean entrance to the Panama Canal, Colón evokes the old Panama of yesteryear, with its historic buildings gradually being restored. Traveling between these two cities, an epic tale unfolds before you—an old-school feat of engineering, ambition and courage. As David McCullough recounts in his sweeping history The Path Between the Seas, it was a combination of sheer human might and engineering prowess that today allows ships to cross the Panama isthmus, saving sailors from making the dangerous, almost 13,000-kilometer (8,000-mile) journey around the tip of South America.
Puerto Limon (San Jose), Costa Rica
Puerto Limón probably isn't the most bustling port you've ever visited, but don't be put off by its facade; like most coastal towns in Costa Rica, it is a perfect base from which to explore an attraction- and activity-rich region that can fulfill a variety of interests. You're never far from a rain forest or outdoor adventure in Costa Rica, and there are lots of day trips from Puerto Limón that allow you to pack in an adrenaline rush or a few more ticks on your birding list within just a few hours. There are treetops for zip lining and rushing rivers for whitewater rafting if you’re a more active traveler, and animal lovers can take sanctuary tours in and around Puerto Limón. Of course, when it comes time to eat, there's plenty of the national favorite, gallo pinto (rice and beans), and as with many port towns, there is lots of fresh seafood and even an upscale Italian restaurant. As for shopping, you can find arts and crafts that were made locally as well as edible treats like handmade chocolate.
L - Interior Stateroom
K - Interior Stateroom
J - Interior Stateroom
I - Interior Stateroom
VF - Verandah
SY - Signature Suite
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