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The City of Angels always hovers between dream and reality. Once a near-forgotten colonial outpost, the pueblo metamorphosed into an agrarian paradise before reinventing itself as a movie colony. Perhaps no other city owes so much to the technological innovations of the 20th century, from the automobile to the airplane. Little wonder that LA is oft described as the “dream machine.” In LA, reinvention is a way of life. Yet this talent for change has created a city with a rich ethnic diversity and a sizzling culture. LA is the source for trends that migrate across the country and then the world. Where else can you enjoy a Thai taco or munch on a kosher burrito? Or travel from downtown’s high rises to the beaches of Malibu, shopping in Beverly Hills along the way?
Los Angeles is a port of embarkation and disembarkation for some cruises.
Home to nearly half a million people, Honolulu is Hawaii’s state capital and only major city. The city of Honolulu and the island of Oahu offer a wealth of historic, cultural and scenic attractions. Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head are two of the city’s enduring symbols. Pearl Harbor, site of the USS Arizona Memorial and the “Punchbowl,” are haunting reminders of the tragic events of December 7, 1941, when the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor forced America into World War II. Honolulu is also home to the historic Iolani Palace, the official residence of Hawaii’s last royals. Beyond the city lie tropical rain forests, the Pali Lookout and the North Shore known for its surfing beaches.
The fourth largest island in the Hawaiian group, Kauai is known as the “Garden Island.” The terrain ranges from the volcanic slopes of Mt. Waialeale and the desert-like beauty of Waimea Canyon to the Wailua River’s lush Fern Grotto. Ironically this once isolated island was the site of the first meeting between Europeans and Hawaiians. On January 19, 1778, Captain James Cook anchored his ships off the mouth of the Waimea River, becoming the first in a long line of enthusiastic visitors.
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.
Majestic mountains sculpted by ancient volcanoes, a shimmering lagoon and a barrier reef dotted with tiny motu, or islets – welcome to Bora Bora, perhaps the most stunning island in the South Pacific. Only 4,600 people live a seemingly idyllic lifestyle in the main villages of Vaitape, Anau and Faanui. No wonder those generations of travelers – including novelist James Michener – regarded Bora Bora as an earthly paradise.
Connected to its sister islands by water and by air – the landing strip sits atop Motu Mute, one of the reef’s islets – Bora Bora remains relatively unspoiled by the modern world.
Pago Pago Bay is one of the most dramatic harbors in the South Pacific, a region known for dramatic landscapes. Eons ago, the massive seaward wall of a volcano collapsed and the sea poured in. Today, dramatic mountain peaks encircle the deep harbor.
The capital of American Samoa, Pago Pago is more village than city. The town is dominated by looming Mt. Pioa, whose summit draws moisture-bearing clouds, earning it the nickname of “The Rainmaker.” Indeed, Pago Pago draws more than its fair share of rain – the island of Tutuila is a vision of deep, verdant green.
Pronounced “Pango Pango,” this island paradise awaits exploration.
The International Date Line is an imaginary line extending from the North Pole to the South Pole through the Pacific Ocean. It serves as the 180th meridian of longitude, and is used to designate the beginning of each calendar day.
As you know, each adjacent time zone on the map has an hour time difference. However, at the International Date Line, +12 hours and -12 hours meet, bringing about a 24-hour time change. So while a person standing just to the west of the line may be celebrating Christmas Eve at 6 pm, someone just to the east will already be sitting down to Christmas dinner on December 25th.
Therefore, when your ship crosses this line heading west, a day is added, and while crossing in an easterly direction, a day is subtracted.
Crossing the International Date Line has long been a rite of passage for sailors, who often must participate in a line-crossing ceremony to become part of the sacred “Order of the Golden Dragon”, an honorary naval fraternity.
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.
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.
New Zealand’s natural bounty is always on display at the Bay of Plenty. It was Captain James Cook who in 1769 aptly named this bay after he was able to replenish his ship’s provisions, thanks to the prosperous Maori villages of the region. Tauranga, the chief city, is a bustling port, an agricultural and timber center and a popular seaside resort. Tauranga is also the gateway to Rotorua – a geothermal wonderland that is the heart of Maori culture. A 90-minute drive from Tauranga, Rotorua is New Zealand’s primary tourist attraction.
Your ship docks near the foot of Mt. Maunganui, which rises 761 feet above the bay. Across the harbor, Tauranga offers scenic tidal beaches at Omokoroa and Pahoia. The region boasts fine beaches, big-game fishing, thermal springs and seaside resorts.
Located at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound, Picton is your gateway to the South Island’s famed Marlborough District. Once known primarily for its lush farm lands and many sheep stations, Marlborough came to international attention thanks to a new agricultural product – wine. The release of the 1985 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc put New Zealand on the map and changed the world’s focus on winemaking in the Southern Hemisphere. Today, the Marlborough region boasts dramatic sea and landscapes, fascinating wine country, excellent restaurants and a number of the nation’s finest gardens.
Military names abound in this corner of New Zealand – the region is named for the first Duke of Marlborough, while the largest town, Blenheim, is named after his most famous battle. Picton is named for Sir Thomas Picton, a favorite of another general, the first duke of Wellington.
Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, sits near the North Island’s southernmost point on the Cook Strait. A compact city, it encompasses a waterfront promenade, sandy beaches, a working harbour and colourful timber houses on surrounding hills. From Lambton Quay, the iconic red Wellington Cable Car heads to the Wellington Botanic Gardens.
New Plymouth is a city on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island. It’s known for its coastal walkway stretching from Bell Block to Port Taranaki. Te Rewa Rewa Bridge has views of towering Mount Taranaki. The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery shows contemporary exhibitions. Close by, Pukekura Park has botanical gardens and birdlife. Subalpine forests and waterfalls characterise Egmont National Park to the south.
Sydney, capital of New South Wales and one of Australia’s largest cities, is best known for its harbourfront Sydney Opera House, with a distinctive sail-like design. Massive Darling Harbour and the smaller Circular Quay port are hubs of waterside life, with the arched Harbour Bridge and esteemed Royal Botanic Garden nearby.
Moreton Island is just off the coast of southeastern Queensland, Australia. The protected sand island is known for its beaches and steep dunes, like Mount Tempest. On the west coast, a dive site features coral and tropical fish around a group of sunken boats called the Tangalooma Wrecks.
Airlie Beach is your gateway to the Whitsunday Archipelago. These 74 islands feature pristine fringing reefs, calm, lagoon-like waters, and superb beaches. The archipelago is one of Australia’s premier playgrounds.
The Whitsundays were once mountains. Rising seas at the end of the Ice Age formed the Whitsunday Passage between the islands and the mainland.
Cairns is one of Australia’s hottest vacation destinations. Cairns boasts three of Australia’s great natural wonders. Just offshore, immense bastions of living coral form the Great Barrier Reef. Sixteen miles of superb beaches stretch to the north of the city – the famed Marlin Coast. And inland lays the immense Daintree National Park. Cairns itself basks in tropical sunshine, balmy breezes waft in from Trinity Bay. The city’s graceful, tree-lined esplanade was once the gateway to the gold fields of North Queensland.
Cairns graceful, tree-lined esplanade was once the gateway to the gold fields of North Queensland. A travel tip – Cairns is pronounced “cans.”
Closer to Indonesia than to any other Australian city, Darwin is the capital of the “Top End” – the remote, vast Northern Territory. Home to more than half of the territory’s population, the city reflects the rugged endurance and individualism required to survive the Outback. Darwin also boasts a colorful history to add to that heritage. During World War II the Japanese bombed the city and threatened invasion. In 1974, Cyclone Tracy cut a destructive swath through the region. In addition, man-eating crocodiles, tropical monsoons, searing heat and bush fires that burn for weeks are all part of everyday life.
Locals in the Top End consume over 60 gallons of beer a year. All those empties don’t go to waste: Each year Darwin residents compete in the Beer Can Regatta, a race with boats, rafts and other vessels manufactured out of beer cans.
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 ago?when 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.
Singapore – the very name summons visions of the mysterious East. The commercial center of Southeast Asia, this island city-state of four 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.
Langkawi comprises a group of 99 tropical islands lying off the northwestern coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The main island is known as Pulau Langkawi. The islands are shrouded with an intriguing heritage of myths and legends that feature ogres and gigantic birds, warriors and fairy princesses, battles and romance. Langkawi has been accorded the Geopark status by UNESCO, for its beautiful geological heritage of stunning landscapes, karsts, caves, sea-arches, stacks, glacial dropstones and fossils. With a geological history dating back 500 million years, the islands contain unique rock formations that stir the imagination and baffle the mind.
Hailed as the “Pearl of the Andaman Sea,” this island off Thailand’s long southern coast boasts a colorful history. A crossroads for trade, Phuket has been a melting pot of Thai, Malay, Chinese and Western influences. Its importance over the past 500 years stemmed from the island’s natural resources, which include tin, hardwoods and rubber. In the past half-century, Phuket has enjoyed wide popularity as one of the premier travel destinations in Southeast Asia. Travelers are drawn to the island’s beaches, crystalline waters, and dramatic, forested hills.
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.
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.