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There is an abundance of things to see and do in the Ft. Lauderdale area: visit the newly redesigned Ft. Lauderdale Beach and cafes, stroll the historic Riverwalk, shop the luxurious stores on Las Olas Boulevard or adventure to the Everglades for an intriguing air boat excursion.
Named for the fez-like scarlet blossoms of the cactus that grows here, Grand Turk is a pristine place of simple pleasures. Float dreamily over vibrant coral reefs, dine on conch fritters, set your watch to “island time.”
Located off the coasts of Venezuela and Colombia, the windswept Dutch island of Aruba feels like another world. When you take a cruise to Aruba, you can relax in the shade of a swaying Divi Divi tree on a pristine beach or explore untamed coastal cliffs in an exotic landscape filled with cacti. Just one day on an Aruba cruise can lead to a lifetime full of stories.
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.)
One of the stops along the Panama Canal Zone route, Puerto Caldera on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast isn’t your ordinary port of call, positioned as it is within easy day-trip distance of the country’s multiple national parks. The town itself is small, but makes for an ideal base from which travelers can venture out to explore the variety of this Central American country’s outdoor attractions and activities. These include snapping photos of gushing waterfalls (and swimming at the base of one, if you bring your swimsuit!), sightseeing near active volcanoes, bird-watching in nature reserves and sanctuaries and horseback riding on Pacific beaches . . . and that’s just for starters. Visitors to Puerto Caldera and the surrounding region also enjoy shopping for handicrafts that local artists sell at their cooperatives, as well as sampling traditional Tico cuisine, especially gallo pinto—a combination of rice and beans eaten at any time of the day or night. Puerto Caldera is the perfect reminder that adventure often awaits just around the bend.
As a travel destination, Nicaragua still remains below the radar for many Americans, despite a recent surge of media interest in this Central American country. One of the region’s most politically and socially stable nations, Nicaragua has been billed as the next great spot for eco-, cultural and culinary tourism. Adventurous guests keen to experience its charms are rewarded richly for their efforts. The country’s most visited cities are Managua (the capital), Granada and León; the latter sits near the Pacific Coast. Corinto is the nearest port town, just northwest of León and along the route to the Panama Canal Zone. It offers many of the charms of the larger cities, including their colonial-era architecture, as well as a number of cultural and ecological attractions in surrounding areas. Given the port’s proximity to León, it’s easy for cruise passengers to take a day trip to this beautiful city established by Spanish conquistadores in 1524. While there, be sure to sample the traditional dish called vigorón, a hearty plate heaped with pork, boiled yuca and cabbage salad. Though residents of Granada claim to have invented it, vigorón is popular around the entire country and is a true taste of Nicaragua.
Unique compared to Acapulco, Cancún, Zihuatanejo and several other coastal resort towns in Mexico—many of which were created by the government as planned communities—Puerto Vallarta (“PV” to locals), on the Pacific Ocean, retains quite a bit of its colonial-era charm. Its town square, Plaza de Armas, and the gorgeous parish church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, topped with an ornate crown and overlooking the port, serve as the loveliest representations of bygone ages. While on your Puerto Vallarta cruise, we take you alongside these echoes of the past are more modern attractions, including an ambitious public art project along the seaside walkway (the malecón) and trendy restaurants such as La Leche, serving contemporary Mexican cuisine. Round these out with plenty of fun-in-the-sun outdoor activities on and along Banderas Bay (whale-watching! snorkeling! jet-skiing!), excursions that reveal the best of Puerto Vallarta’s flora and fauna, and a side trip to one of Mexico’s pueblos mágicos (magical towns, a designation conferred by the government to recognize smaller towns that possess historical and cultural value), and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more pleasant place to spend part of your cruise to Puerto Vallarta.
Los Cabos doesn’t exude the same kind of charm as many other areas of inland Mexico do, but its twin towns—San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas—don’t seem to mind, and neither do visitors who take a cruise to Cabo, who are more or less drawn here less for traditional Mexican culture than for the sun, the sand and the opportunity to just slow down and relax. Los Cabos—or the Capes—sits at the southernmost tip of the Baja California Peninsula, a narrow strip of land whose varied geography, both above and underwater, makes for plenty of interesting activities and some unusual ones, too. Did you ever think you’d ride a camel in Mexico? You can do that here, or enjoy more predictable pursuits including fishing, golfing and whale-watching. Want something still more laid-back? On your Cabo cruise you can visit picture-perfect El Arco, an arch that may look familiar thanks to its cameo on postcards and tourism advertisements. North of the capes, you can drop by the famed Hotel California. And if you’ve worked up an appetite on your Cabo cruise, you won’t be disappointed: Los Cabos offers plenty to enjoy at the table as well, with farm-fresh fruits and vegetables and, of course, seafood being the mainstays here. Regardless, Holland America Line makes sure that our Cabo cruises have plenty of new and traditional things for our guest to enjoy and experience.
Easygoing San Diego embodies the Southern California surfer town fantasy, with its more than 300 days of sun, mild year-round temperatures and accessible, sporty pastimes and tourist attractions. Cruise to San Diego and hike the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve to get a glimpse of whale migrations, go sailing in the bay and, of course, surf the famous swells of Del Mar, Oceanside and La Jolla (among many other superb spots). Cruise from San Diego and explore the sixth-largest city in the United States. Discover San Diego’s distinctive neighborhoods on a San Diego shore excursion. Visit Old Town, North Park, Point Loma and Coronado are all within a few miles of the port, while the bustling Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy are within walking distance.
And while there are lots of things to do for everyone on a San Diego Cruise—from visiting the country’s largest urban park to taking in the famous horse-racing season in Del Mar to riding the charming Old Town Trolley—definitely don’t pass up the chance to investigate San Diego’s quickly growing reputation as a culinary destination. Its inventive new restaurants and huge craft-brewing industry are something to be explored.
Of all the cities in Canada, Victoria may be the furthest from Great Britain, but it has the most British vibe. Between sipping afternoon tea, visiting flower gardens and castles and stopping in at pubs, one could easily forget about the Pacific Ocean lapping at the other side of Vancouver Island. The influence of the First Nations culture is also strong here in Victoria, with totem poles taking a front-and-center position on the Inner Harbour and in Beacon Hill Park. Extensive galleries are devoted to the history of the First People at the Royal British Columbia Museum, too, one of Victoria’s top tourist attractions. Other waves of immigration besides that of the English are evident in the streets of Canada’s oldest Chinatown here, as well as on the menus of the city’s many restaurants, pizzerias and tavernas.
Start your visit to Victoria’s sights and attractions at the Inner Harbour. Whale-watching cruises and sightseeing floatplanes take off and return from their excursions here and government buildings, museums, the Visitor Centre and the grand Fairmont Empress provide a dignified welcome. Just around the point, Fisherman’s Wharf offers a lively contrast with working fishing boats, barking harbor seals and busy seafood restaurants serving up the catch of the day. Take time for a jaunt to the famous Butchart Gardens, a truly stunning show garden developed on the site of a depleted quarry. Enjoy afternoon tea or a walk in the park or a shopping trip to Market Square or along Government Street. However you choose to spend your day here or decide where to go in Victoria, the city’s civilized delights will charm you.
Once a trading post and a rough-and-tumble sawmilling settlement, today modern Vancouver, Canada is many things. Cruise to Vancouver and visit this bustling seaport. This city is a hub for outdoor enthusiasts looking for active things to do in Vancouver an ethnically diverse metropolis, and Hollywood of the North. Hemmed in by mountains and sea, Vancouver seduces visitors with its combination of urban sophistication and laid-back attitude against a backdrop of glass towers and modern sights and plentiful green spaces.
Enjoy enjoy local attractions, fun filled outdoor activities, and an innovative culinary scene on a Vancouver cruise excursion. Vancouver’s culinary and cocktail scene is on the rise—and its excellent restaurants and hopping bars have a distinctively local stamp on them. If you are looking for where to go in Vancouver for music, theater and the arts, they are thriving in the city’s many museums, galleries and performance venues. Beyond the downtown attractions in Vancouver, days of exploration and sightseeing await among the colorful suburbs, unspoiled islands and the vast, rugged wilderness.
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