Auckland, Bay of Islands, Sydney, Brisbane, Komodo Island, Singapore, Sri Lanka
(Colombo), Muscat (Mina Qaboos), Dubai (overnight), Aqaba (for Petra), Transit the
Suez Canal, Santorini, Sibenik, Venice (overnight), Malta (Valletta), Rome
(Civitavecchia), Cannes (for Monte Carlo), Barcelona, Gibraltar, Cork (Cobh - for Blarney
Castle), Cornwall (Falmouth), Portland (for Stonehenge), London (Dover), Bergen,
Olden/Nordfjord, Lofoten Islands (Gravdal), Tromso, Honningsvag (for North Cape),
Akureyri, Isafjordur, Reykjavik, Halifax, New York (overnight), Miami, Cartagena, Panama
Canal Full Transit Historic Locks (including the Miraflores, Pedro Miguel and Gatun
Locks), Manta, Lima (Callao) (overnight), Pisco (General San Martin), Easter Island,
Pitcairn Island (Scenic Cruising), Tahiti (Papeete), Moorea, Cross International Date
Auckland, New Zealand
Straddling a narrow isthmus created by 60 different volcanoes, New Zealand's former capital boasts scenic beauty, historical interest and a cosmopolitan collection of shops, restaurants, museums, galleries and gardens. Rangitoto, Auckland's largest and youngest volcano, sits in majestic splendor just offshore. Mt. Eden and One Tree Hill, once home to Maori earthworks, overlook the city. One of New Zealand's fine wine districts lies to the north of Auckland.
Auckland served as New Zealand's capital from 1841 until 1865, when the seat of government moved to Wellington.
Bay of Islands, New Zealand
The Bay of Islands offers more than broad vistas of sea and sky, more than beaches, boating, and fabulous water sports. The Bay is the birthplace of modern New Zealand. Here the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, establishing British rule and granting the native inhabitants equal status. Rich in legend and mystery, the Bay of Islands has age-old ties to the Maori and to whalers, missionaries and New Zealand's early settlers.
The Bay of Islands has lured explorers for countless centuries. The Maori say that Kupe, the great Polynesian adventurer, came here in the 10th century. Captain Cook anchored offshore in 1769, followed by assorted brigands, traders, colonists and missionaries.
Note: Bay of Islands is an anchorage port. Passengers transfer to shore via ship's tender.
As your ship passes Harbour Heads, you are presented with the shimmering skyline of Sydney - hailed by many seafarers as the most beautiful harbor in the world. Two prominent landmarks, Harbour Bridge and the sail-like curves of the Sydney Opera House, grace the backdrop of this picturesque harbor. There is a wealth of adventure waiting in Sydney - from its cosmopolitan city center to miles of beautiful beaches and the Blue Mountains.
Australia's oldest and largest city was born in 1788 with the arrival of the First Fleet transporting 760 British convicts. Today, Sydney is the largest port in the South Pacific and is often voted the most popular destination in the South Pacific.
Once considered the country cousin among Australian cities, Brisbane is today the nation's third-largest metropolis - and one of the most desirable places to live in the country. Lying on the banks of the meandering Brisbane River, this cosmopolitan city boasts elegant 19th-century sandstone buildings, a lively cultural scene and superb parklands. Brisbane is also your gateway to uniquely Australian adventures, be it the theme parks of the Gold Coast or Queensland's dazzling beaches.
The beaches south of Brisbane form Queensland's Gold Coast. Travel tip: Brisbane is pronounced Bris-bin.
Komodo Island, Indonesia
Komodo lizards quietly thrived in the harsh climate of Indonesia's Lesser Sunda Islands for millions of years until their existence was discovered about 100 years agowhen Dutch sailors encountered the creatures for the first time, they returned with reports of fire-breathing dragons. Reaching 10 feet in length and weighing over 300 pounds, Komodo dragons are the world's largest and heaviest lizards. The best place to view these magnificent and endangered creatures is on Komodo Island, the largest island in Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Man and Biosphere Reserve.
Although Komodo National Park is famous for its most recognized inhabitant it's also noted for its diverse marine habitat. 1,000 species of fish, 260 species of reef-building coral, manta rays, sharks, dolphins, whales and sea turtles live in the park's coral reefs, mangroves, sea grass beds and semi-enclosed bays.
Note: Komodo Island is a tender port. Due to National Park restrictions, passengers will only be allowed onto Komodo Island if they are part of an organized tour. Please make sure you take bottled water, hat, sun screen and wear comfortable walking shoes.
Singapore - the very name summons visions of the mysterious East. The commercial center of Southeast Asia, this island city-state of five million people is a metropolis of modern high-rise buildings, Chinese shop-houses with red-tiled roofs, sturdy Victorian buildings, Buddhist temples and Arab bazaars. Founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles of the fabled East India Company, the city is a melting pot of people and cultures. Malay, Chinese, English and Tamil are official languages. Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Hinduism and Christianity are the major faiths. Singapore is an ever-fascinating island boasting colorful traditions, luxurious hotels and some of the finest duty-free shopping in the world.
Lying just 85 miles north of the Equator at the tip of the Malay Peninsula, the island was a haven for Malay pirates and Chinese and Arab traders.
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka conjures up the exotic and the mysterious. Once known as Ceylon, the island boasts a fantastic landscape that ranges from primeval rain forest to the bustling modern streets of Colombo, the capital. A visitor to Sri Lanka has a wealth of options. Relax on some of the world's finest beaches. Explore the temples, halls and palaces of the last Sinhalese kingdom at Kandy. Or take a guided tour of an elephant orphanage. Colombo also offers an array of charms, from the Royal Botanic Gardens, once a royal pleasure garden, to the Pettah Bazaar, where vendors hawk everything under the sun.
Colombo and Sri Lanka were shaped by Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and European influences. Colombo also serves as a gateway for Overland Adventures to India.
Muscat (Mina Qaboos), Oman
Oman's capital was once a major trading centre controlled and influenced by the Portuguese. Those intrepid explores and traders are long gone. Today, visitors flock to Oman thanks to its azure air, towering desert mountains, and crystalline waters. Muscat itself is an Arabian fable sprung to life. Old 16th century forts guard the bay and the palace, while the vibrant souqs offer daggers, superb silver jewellery, and traditional crafts and costumes.
Muscat's Al Alam palace is the official residence of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai has always served as a bridge between East and West. In the past, Dubai's trade links stretched from Western Europe to Southeast Asia and China. The result was the creation of one of the most protean societies in the world. Nestled in the very heart of Islam, Dubai remains unique in its embrace of the West. Bedouin may still roam the desert, but Dubai also plays hosts to international tennis and golf tournaments. Tourists flock to its shores while the pace of development continues at a frenetic pace, from massive artificial islands to the astounding Burj Al Arab Hotel.
Dubai is actually two cities in one: the Khor Dubai, an inlet of the Persian Gulf, separates Deira, the old city, from Bur Dubai.
Aqaba (Petra), Jordan
The port of Aqaba has been an important strategic and commercial center for over three millennia. Originally called Elath, the home of the Edomites became in Roman times a trading center where goods from as far away as China found entry to Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. Today Aqaba is Jordan's only seaport, and the city serves as an intriguing gateway for travelers. In the surrounding desert lies the lost city of Petra - a city that may date to 6,000 B.C. - and Wadi Rum, where an English soldier mystic named T.E. Lawrence found his destiny as Lawrence of Arabia.
Perched at the apex of the Gulf of Aqaba, Aqaba offers internationally renowned diving opportunities and the richest marine life in the entire Red Sea. The old fortress on the waterfront dates to the 14th-century. Passengers should drink only bottled water while ashore. Please respect local customs and dress accordingly, avoiding exposed shoulders and knees.
Transit the Suez Canal, Egypt
Transiting through the Suez Canal is sure to be one of the lifelong memories of your cruise. The thought of a canal linking the Mediterranean and Red Sea extends back in history as far as 2100 B.C. Napoleon Bonaparte, pursuing his dreams of conquest, entertained the notion in 1798. But it was French engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps who finally proved that a canal across the Suez was practicable. Work on the canal began in 1858. Eleven years later the opening of the Suez Canal was an international event. The world had acquired a quicker route to Asia-as well as a Verdi opera called Aida.
Of course the Suez Canal was a source of immediate controversy. The British wrested control of the canal from Egypt in 1882. Egypt regained control during its revolution of 1952. In 1956, the British, allied with the French and Israelis, nearly took the canal back. The Arab-Israeli Six Day War of 1967 closed the canal until 1973, when another war and intense international negotiations led to its return to Egyptian control.
Turbulent history aside, what greater cruising memory can one have than serenely sailing along the sands of the desert aboard a Princess ship
Did the catastrophic volcanic eruption that ravaged Santorini circa 1600 B.C. destroy Crete's ancient Minoan civilization - and give birth to the myth of Atlantis In 1967, archaeologists on Santorini unearthed the remains of a Bronze Age city that may have been home to as many as 30,000 people. Whether the Lost Continent of Atlantis is rooted in myth or reality, an undisputed fact remains. The eruption created a caldera - and one of the most dramatic land and seascapes in the entire Mediterranean. On Santorini, whitewashed buildings cling to vertiginous cliffs that plunge to a turquoise sea. Part of the Cyclades Archipelago, the three-island group of Santorini, Thirasia and uninhabited Aspronisi present the traveler with unforgettable vistas.
The island has had a number of names throughout history - from Strongyle or Round to Thera in honor of an ancient hero. Santorini is more recent and stems from the island church dedicated to St. Irene - Santa Rini to foreign sailors.
Note: Santorini is an anchorage port: passengers transfer to shore via shore tender.
Lying at the mouth of the Krka River, picturesque Sibenik was originally built on a small island surrounded by walls and towers. First mentioned in 1066, Sibenik is the oldest native Croatian city on the Adriatic and is replete with cultural and historical monuments, monasteries and churches. The lovely city is home to the majestic Cathedral of St. James, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the Palace of Diocletian, which dates back to the 4th century. The delightful medieval monastery garden of St. Lawrence is a step back into the past: the gardens, designed by noted landscape architect Dragutin Ki, are a re-creation of the foliage of what medieval monks would have harvested and feature a lovely caf amidst the tranquil paths. The quaint Old Town area offers a remarkable selection of sightseeing and shopping opportunities, and the deep, protected harbor is a beautiful place to wander and take pictures of the limestone cliffs and green offshore islands. Sibenik is the gateway to historic Trogir, built upon a small island and home to the remarkable 13th-century Cathedral of St. Lawrence, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nearby lies the magnificent Krka National Park, where a wide variety of animals, birds and plants welcome you to its splendor and the cool spray from the spectacular Skradinski Buk waterfall system refreshes all lucky enough to gaze upon its beauty.
Rising from the waters of the Laguna Veneta, Venice has long - and rightly - been regarded as one of the world's most beautiful cities. Napoleon, who had an eye for acquisitions, once described St. Mark's Square as the finest drawing room in Europe. Certainly, no other site can quite match its superb campanile, Doge's Palace and recumbent lions. Just over two miles in length, the Grand Canal is lined with stunning buildings that reflect the city's unique heritage. Cruise through its winding canals on a gondola or watch the bronze Moors on the clock tower strike the passing hours as they have for 500 years - Venice is an unparalleled experience.
The city began life as a refuge from barbarian invasions. By the Crusades, Venice's dominion extended throughout the Adriatic and Mediterranean. The winged lion - symbol of St. Mark - flew over palaces and fortresses from Gibraltar to the Black Sea.
Malta is the largest in a group of seven islands that occupy a strategic position between Europe and Africa. The island's history is long and turbulent. Everyone from the Normans to the Nazis have vied for control of this small, honey-colored rock. For centuries the island was the possession of the knightly Order of St. John - the Knights Hospitaller. Valletta, Malta's current capital, was planned by the Order's Grandmaster Jean de la Valette to secure the island's eastern coast from Turk incursions. Founded in 1566, Valletta's bustling streets are lined with superb Baroque buildings and churches.
Malta has a long history: the megalithic stone temples at Gozo may be the oldest freestanding structures on Earth. Malta has two official languages, Maltese (constitutionally the national language) and English. Malta was admitted to the European Union in 2004 and in 2008 became part of the eurozone.
Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy
Your gateway to the Eternal City, Civitavecchia has served as Rome's seaport since the 13th century. The port has a long and venerable history. The emperor Trajan built a pleasure villa near the modern city, while Bernini and Michelangelo designed the harbor fortifications.
Yet the Eternal City eternally beckons. The ancient capital of the Western World and the center of Christianity for nearly 2,000 years, Rome provides an inexhaustible feast. Visit the ruins of the Forum, view the splendors of the Sistine Chapel, or climb the Spanish Steps, once the heart of Rome's Bohemian Quarter.
Rome has been a magnet luring the world's greatest artists, architects, and philosophers since the days of the Caesars.
Cannes (for Monte Carlo), France
Movie stars, motor yachts, the crush of paparazzi on the Croisette - such are the images of Cannes and its legendary film festival. But this gracious city with its palm-lined boulevard dividing divine beaches from chic cafs and nightclubs is also your gateway to Monaco and Monte Carlo, Nice and St. Tropez. For centuries this former Roman camp - the Castrum de Canios - was nothing more than a sleepy port. Then in 1834, the British Lord Brougham interrupted his travels to Italy to take shelter from a cholera outbreak. He fell in love with the stunning coast, built a villa and voila Two centuries later, the town remains synonymous with glamour, luxury and a sybaritic lifestyle.
Note: Cannes is an anchorage port, passengers transfer to shore via ship's tender.
The 1992 Summer Olympics revealed to the world what Europeans and seasoned travelers already knew - Barcelona is one of the world's greatest treasures. Vibrant and earthy, commercial and cultural, this city of two million residents is the capital of Spain's autonomous region of Catalonia. Stroll along the wide, tree-lined promenades of Las Ramblas and marvel at the spires of Gaudi's Basilica La Sagrada Familia. Or visit the former Olympic Ring on the hill of Montjuic - also home to world-class parks, fountains and museums. Barcelona, which nurtured such artistic giants as Picasso, Dali, Miro and Casals, is definitely a traveler's paradise.
The Rock crouches over the sea like an ancient stone beast, looking Sphinx-like to Africa. Beneath the white cliffs of this natural fortress grows a profusion of palm, pine, and cypress. No fewer than 600 varieties of flowers thrive here, some not found anywhere else on Earth. Gibraltar's stunning setting is matched by its history - five countries have battled for 13 centuries to control the passage between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. The result made for a cultural melting pot. Veiled Moroccan women in caftans and vacationing Englishmen and Spaniards stroll along the narrow, steep lanes. The locals revert to a liquid Spanish when talking among themselves. And visitors to a 15th-century cathedral pass through a blue-tiled courtyard, once part of a 13th-century mosque.
Helmeted bobbies, pillar-boxes and pubs make for a bit of Britain in the Mediterranean. Gibraltar is a fascinating place, from its caves and batteries to the Barbary apes gamboling on the slopes of the Rock.
Cork, Ireland (Cobh - For Blarney Castle)
Founded in the 7th century by St. Fin Barre, Cork is your gateway to romantic Ireland. Stroll down narrow country lanes or see the Lakes of Killarney. The intrepid visitor may scale the narrow passages of Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone. The region around Cork is also home to one of the densest concentration of prehistoric monuments in Western Europe. And, in a land where fable and fact blend to become folklore, it was near Cork that the great Tuatha De Danaan, a race with magical powers, was driven underground by the conquering Celts.
Cobh was the single most important port of emigration from Ireland.
Note: Your ship will dock in Cobh which is about 15 miles from Cork.
Cornwall (Falmouth), England
England's southwest corner is steeped in legend and history. Tintagel Castle in Cornwall is the traditional birthplace of King Arthur. Falmouth, which boasts a superb deep-water harbour - the third-largest in the world - shares the Cornish coast's colorful history of shipwrecks, smuggling, and privateering. Cornwall is scenic England at its best, with superb seascapes, picturesque harbours, and countryside of green fields and hedgerows, quaint villages and low-slung granite farmhouses.
Cornwall's natural beauty has long made it a draw for British vacationers.
Note: Your ship will anchor in Falmouth and use launches to transport all passengers ashore.
Situated along the southernmost part of the Dorset Coast site lies the fabled island of Portland. This natural harbor was used for over 500 years by the British Royal Navy, and when breakwater construction was performed between 1848 and 1905, it created one of the largest man-made harbors in the world. An important launch site during both World Wars, the harbor was used for naval exercises until 1995, after which the waters became popular for tourism and were used for the sailing events during the 2012 Olympic Games. The tiny limestone island is home to the Abbotsbury Swannery, the only place in the world where you can walk freely through colonies of nesting mute swans, and is a perfect jumping-off point to visit the stone ruins of Corfe Castle, built by William the Conqueror. Take in the nearby magnificent Salisbury Cathedral, and experience the ancient mystery of the somber plinths of Stonehenge. Just four miles long by a mile and a half wide, Portland is ruggedly beautiful, with endless vistas and wild, natural landscapes.
London (Dover), England
Visible for miles from sea, the White Cliffs of Dover are an instantly recognizable symbol of England. Modern highways make Dover the doorstep to London - Britain's ever-fascinating capital. Visitors to this great city have a wealth of pleasures to choose from. Explore the notorious Tower of London and view the Crown Jewels. Visit Windsor Castle or see Westminster Abbey. The choices are fascinating and endless. Dover is also your gateway to Kent's green countryside, dotted with old medieval towns and castles.
Dover has played a major role in world history since the days of the Norman invasion. Today 13th century Dover Castle dominates a harbour filled with cross-channel ferries and merchant and passenger shipping.
Bergen has played a crucial role in Norwegian history and culture since Olav the Good founded the city in 1070. Perched between the sea and seven hills, Bergen has witnessed Vikings setting sail on voyages of exploration, trade and war. In the Middle Ages, its old port was a major trading hub for the Hanseatic League, the band of Germanic merchants whose trading empire encircled the Baltic and North Seas. In the 19th century, Bergen was home to such cultural luminaries as the virtuoso violinist Ole Bull and the composer Edvard Grieg.
The city retains much of its 18th- and 19th-century charm. Visitors to Bergen will encounter a city that offers a heady blend of natural beauty, history and culture.
By the mid-19th century, European travelers were cruising the waters of the Nordfjord and visiting the village of Olden. The Romantic Movement inspired this new taste for dramatic landscape - and Norway had plenty of dramatic landscape. Then as now, travelers were impressed, moved, and not frequently overwhelmed by the stark contrast between peaceful rural farmsteads and a towering wilderness of mountain peaks and glaciers.
For many years Olden was home to American landscape artist William H. Singer (1868-1943). Scion of a Pittsburgh steel family, Singer provided Olden with a road and a regional hospital.
Lofoten Islands (Gravdal), Norway
Gravdal is one of the largest villages in Vestvgy and part of the Lofoten Archipelago in northern Norway. Gravdal serves as your gateway to the Lofoten Islands, the western remnants of great mountains that were worn away by glaciers. Lying entirely above the Arctic Circle, the islands' dramatic natural architecture of rocky peaks along with picturesque villages places this archipelago in a league of its own.
Lying north of the Arctic Circle, Troms has been a departure point for Arctic explorers and hunters since the 18th century. Today, this town of some 50,000 individuals is home to the northernmost university in the world, which gives Troms a lively cultural and street scene, highlighted by the annual Midnight Sun Marathon.
Ride the cable car to the summit of Mt. Storsteinen for dramatic views of Troms city and Troms Island. Enjoy refreshments at the panoramic restaurant.
Honningsvag (for North Cape), Norway
Honningsvag is your gateway to Norway's North Cape on Magerya Island. This is the northernmost point in Europe, and the true land of the midnight sun. From mid-May to July, the full disc of the sun never dips below the horizon. In winter, the days barely lighten to a spectral gloom. To the north lies only the remote Svalbard Archipelago, Jan Mayan Island, and the polar ice cap. From the cliffs of North Cape, perched 1,000 feet above the Arctic Ocean, one stares into the arctic silence.
During the summer months, vast reindeer herds roam Magerya Island's treeless, central plateau.
The town is your gateway to the famous Land of Fire and Ice - Iceland's dramatic landscape of volcanic craters, extinct lava lakes and majestic waterfalls.
Visitors to Akureyri have a hard time grasping the fact that the town lies just below the Arctic Circle. The climate here is temperate: flower boxes fill the windows of houses, and trees line the neat, well-tended avenues. Thanks to that mild climate, Akureyri's Botanical Gardens provide a home for over 2,000 species of flora from around the world - all surviving without greenhouses. No wonder Icelanders refer to Akureyri as the most pleasant town on the entire island.
Travel Tip - Akureyri rhymes with Tipperary.
The town of safjrdur is the municipal centre of the West Fjords peninsula. The West Fjords are Iceland's least populated region, with 9,600 inhabitants in the area of 9,520 km. Isafjrdur (population 3,500) formerly one of Iceland's main trading posts, was granted municipal status in 1886. Some of Iceland's oldest and best-preserved buildings, dating from the 18th century, are located in safjrdur. The town is still predominantly a fishing centre. A vigorous and varied cultural and artistic scene flourishes in the town as well. Mountains surround safjrdur on the three sides and the sea on the other. The ancient settlement site of Eyri downtown is enclosed by the narrow Skutulsfjrdur fjord, which shelters the harbour in all weathers.
Iceland is a land of volcanoes and glaciers, lava fields and green pastures, boiling thermal springs and ice-cold rivers teeming with salmon. This unspoiled demi-paradise is also home to a very old and sophisticated culture. The northernmost capital in the world, Reykjavik was founded in 874 when Ingolfur Arnarson threw wood pillars into the sea, vowing to settle where the pillars washed ashore. Today, Iceland is an international center of commerce and home to one of the most technologically sophisticated societies in the world.
Reykjavik is the gateway to Iceland's natural wonders, which range from ice fields to thermal pools. The island is in a continual process of transformation much like its society, which blends Nordic tradition with sophisticated technology.
The capital of Nova Scotia and the largest city in Canada's Atlantic Provinces, Halifax was once Great Britain's major military bastion in North America. The beautifully restored waterfront buildings of Halifax's Historic Properties recall the city's centuries-old maritime heritage. Stroll the waterfront, and you may find Nova Scotia's floating ambassador, the schooner Bluenose II, tied up to Privateer's Wharf, just as old sailing ships have done for over 200 years. Halifax is also the gateway to Nova Scotia's stunning scenery, including famous Peggy's Cove, where surf-pounded granite cliffs and a solitary lighthouse create an unsurpassed scene of rugged natural beauty.
New York City (Manhattan or Brooklyn), New York
A leading global city, New York exerts a powerful influence over worldwide commerce, finance, culture and fashion, and entertainment. The city consists of five boroughs and an intricate patchwork of neighborhoods. Some of these include Lower Manhattan and the New York Stock Exchange, Battery Park and South Street Seaport, Chinatown, trendy SoHo and Greenwich Village, along with Little Italy, the flat Iron District and Gramercy Park. Famous Central Park covers 843 acres of paths, ponds, lakes and green space within the asphalt jungle. Many districts and landmarks have become well-known to outsiders. Nearly 170 languages are spoken in the city and over 35% of its population was born outside the United States.
Adjectives such as glitzy and glamorous and fun and funky only hint at the reason Miami's a world-renowned international destination. In the 500 years since Ponce de Len arrived in search of the elusive fountain of youth, people have flocked here to capture the city's energy, vitality and alluring charms. While the city's noted for its towering palm trees, glittering blue ocean vistas and pristine beaches, beautiful weather, beautiful places and beautiful people it's also home to an intriguing history, lively culture and postcard-perfect architecture. From the walking trees and 'gator spotting in the Everglades to celebrity spotting in South Beach, Miami's sure to impress.
One of the more interesting cities on your itinerary steeped in history. This was the transit port for all the wealth Spain derived from South America. The famous Old City is comprised of 12 square blocks filled with attractions, boutiques and restaurants.
Throughout Colombia, the Spanish Empire's influence in the New World is self-evident. Its fortress walls, quaint narrow streets, and balconied houses are all vivid reminders of Spain's hold on Cartagena and throughout the Caribbean and South America. This is the land of El Dorado and flamboyant adventurers in search of the ever-elusive gold. Cartagena's well-constructed fortifications defended its borders against seafaring pirates whose attacks lasted for more than 200 years. Today this modern and bustling city, seaport, and commercial center still boasts much of its original colonial architecture. Your journey here will provide you with a significant link to the region's grand past.
**Please note that passengers may encounter numerous local vendors at various tourist locations and may find them to be persistent in their sales offers.
Panama Canal Full Transit Historic Locks
Cruising through the Panama Canal will be one of the unforgettable experiences of your voyage.
It takes approximately eight hours to navigate the 50-mile waterway linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, allowing you to experience firsthand one of the engineering marvels of the 20th century. Completed in 1914, the canal marks the culmination of a dream born in 1513, when Balboa became the first European to cross the Isthmus of Panama and sight the Pacific. In 1880 Ferdinand de Lesseps and the French Canal company, builders of the Suez Canal, began construction in Panama, only to be defeated by disease, staggering cost overruns, and massive engineering problems. The French sold their claim and properties to the United States for $40 million, a staggering loss of $247 million on their investment. The United States began construction in 1904, completing the project in 10 years at a cost of $387 million. Building the canal meant solving three problems: engineering, sanitation, and organization. The project, for example, required carving a channel through the Continental Divide and creating the then-largest man-made lake ever built, as well as defeating yellow fever and other tropical maladies. The United States oversaw the operation of the Panama Canal until December 31, 1999, when the Republic of Panama assumed responsibility for the canal's administration. The Panamanian government controls the canal through the Panama Canal Authority, an independent government agency created for the purpose of managing the canal.
The breezy, seaside city of Manta is the second largest port in Ecuador and possesses one of the world's most varied terrains. To the west of Manta lie the Galapagos Islands. To the east rises the great rampart of the Andes. The Mantas were known for their traditional balsa rafts in the coastal waters and their ceramics and pottery. A huge tuna statue greets you on its shores, a whimsical nod to the tuna capital of the world. Fresh seafood is always on the menu, and a stroll along the promenade lets you take in the beach scene. The bustling center of town, an easy walk from port, displays a lively marketplace selling Panama hats, silver jewelry and apparel. There is lush green parkland the nearby colonial town of Montecristi, the center of the Panama hat industry and the Pacoche Wildlife Refuge, home to indigenous flora and fauna and cheeky howler monkeys. Explore the rich culture, heritage and people of Manta during scenic adventures that take in the Archaeological Museum, which highlights a small, well-curated collection of ceramics of the Manteo-Huancavilca culture that flourished here between 800 and 1550 A.D. Whether you explore its past or its vibrant city of today, a day in Manta is a rich and colorful experience.
Note: Manta offers little in the way of tourist infrastructure. Transportation and tour guides are imported to the area. Despite the sometimes hot and humid conditions there is no guarantee of air-conditioned vehicles.
Lima (Callao), Peru
In 1535, Francisco Pizarro labeled the open plains where Lima now stands as inhospitable. Despite the verdict of the great conquistador, Lima became the center of imperial Spanish power, a City of Kings where 40 viceroys would rule as the direct representatives of the King of Spain. With independence in 1821, Lima became Peru's capital. Near Lima, one of the world's most desolate deserts is home to the famed drawings of Nazca. These drawings inspired Erik von Daniken's best-selling book Chariots of the Gods. With mysteries seeming to be part of Peru's history, perhaps these drawings are in fact the largest astronomy book in the world.
Pisco (General San Martin), Peru
San Martin is your gateway to the quiet colonial town of Pisco and its fertile coastal valley. For thousands of years, pre-Columbian societies thrived in river valleys such as this. Utilizing sophisticated systems of irrigation, they transformed the harsh coastal desert into productive farmland. The legacy of these ancient people, from their giant geometric etchings on the desert floor to their ancient burial grounds, continues to draw curious adventurers from around the world. San Martin is also your gateway to two other mysterious marvels: the Inca palace complex at Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Archipelago.
Easter Island, Chile
The monoliths of Easter Island have fascinated and puzzled Westerners since the Dutch seaman Roggeven made landfall there on Easter Sunday, 1722. The mystery of Easter Island's first settlers remains just that - a mystery. Today, most anthropologists believe the island was settled as part of the great wave of Polynesian emigration. (The oldest of the Moai, as the great monoliths are called, date to 700 A.D.) The society that produced the Moai flourished during the 16th and 17th centuries, but population growth, deforestation and food shortages led to its collapse. Today some 3,400 souls inhabit this 64-square-mile island, which lies some 2,200 miles equidistant from Tahiti and South America.
The society of Rapa Nui possessed stone-working skills on a par with those found in the Inca Empire. Islanders also possessed a script called Rongorongo, the only written language in all of Oceania.
Please note: The current fee for entry into the National Park is $80 per person, this fee is included in all organized shore tours. Independent passengers are required to pay this fee on arrival at the park.
Easter Island is an anchorage port. Transportation from the ship to shore will be via the ship's tender service.
Pitcairn Island (Scenic Cruising), Pitcairn Islands
Lying below the tropic of Capricorn, halfway between New Zealand and the Americas, lonely Pitcairn Island is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world. It was here that Fletcher Christian and eight of the mutineers of the HMS Bounty, along with their Tahitian companions, came in search of a new life. Set aflame and sunk by the infamous mutineers, parts of the legendary HMS Bounty shipwreck are still visible in the waters of Bounty Bay.
Today, one of the island's most famous residents is its sole surviving Galapagos Giant Tortoise, named Turpen, who was introduced to Pitcairn sometime between 1937 and 1951. Several species of seabirds also nest here, including the flightless Henderson Crake, Fairy Terns, the Common Noddy, the Red-tailed Tropic Bird and the Pitcairn Island Warbler.
Note: Pitcairn is a scenic cruising site. Ships will slowly travel past while a knowledgeable port lecturer points out significant sites you'll be able to see onboard.
Tahiti (Papeete), French Polynesia
Tahiti is not just an island - Tahiti has always been a state of mind. The bustling capital of Tahiti and her islands, Papeete is the chief port and trading center, as well as a provocative temptress luring people to her shores. Immortalized in the novel Mutiny on the Bounty, who could blame the men of HMS Bounty for abandoning their ship in favor of basking in paradise And what would Modern Art be without Tahiti's influence on Gauguin and Matisse Today the island is a charming blend of Polynesian joie de vivre and Gallic sophistication. But venture out from Papeete and you find a landscape of rugged mountains, lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls and deserted beaches.
Contrasting with other French Polynesian ports, Papeete's coastline initially greets you with a vista of commercial activity that graciously gives way to both black and white-sand beaches, villages, resorts and historic landmarks.
Moorea, French Polynesia
To discover the storied Polynesia of Melville, Gauguin and Michener, you have to travel to Tahiti's outer islands. Moorea, the former haunt of Tahitian royalty, is one such island where you still see fishermen paddling outrigger canoes, pareo-clad women strolling along the roads and children fishing from island bridges. Moorea is an island of vertiginous mountains - most of its 18,000 people live along the narrow coastal shelf. Behind tin-roofed wooden houses lie lush green mountains rushing up to fill the sky.
French Polynesia comprises some 130 islands, of which Tahiti is the best known. Just 12 miles across the lagoon from Tahiti lies Moorea.
Note: Moorea is a tender port. Transportation from ship to shore will be via the ship's tender service.