Holland America operates special sailings scheduled as BBC theme cruises, which include talks and masterclasses on wildlife filming and feature BBC’s Natural History Unit creative director, an ecologist, writer and natural history presenter. Next are MS Volendam (departs October 27 on a 14-day sailing from Shanghai to Hong Kong via ports in Taiwan and Japan); MS Koningsdam (departs June 3, 2018, on a sevenday Norse Legends round-trip from Amsterdam to four ports in Norway) and MS Eurodam (departs August 4, 2018, on a seven-day round-trip from Seattle to Alaska). More: 1300 987 322; hollandamerica.com. large-screen production on MS Westerdam’s Main Stage. The breathtaking colours and shapes of towering icebergs and ice-wreathed polar regions captured in BBC Earth’s memorable film move across a giant screen flanked by the ship’s orchestra performing music composed by George Fenton and arranged to accompany the film.
Holland America’s BBC Earth partnership offers programs on all its ships except MS Prinsendam. Apart from Frozen Planet Live and Alaska in Concert (a performance of live music and footage from BBC Earth’s Wild Alaska television series), both created for Holland America line, there are special children’s and family activities on sea creatures, dinosaurs and other animals, Inside Earth documentaries, team quizzes, game shows and BBC Trivia.
Both the BBC Earth and Rijksmuseum partnerships highlight a priceless gift of sea travel, linking as it does with the most memorable of the world’s cultural and natural landscapes. On my journey from Barcelona to Civitavecchia, the port for Rome, we moor at the Spanish ports of Cadiz, Malaga, Alicante and Palma de Mallorca; the British territory of Gibraltar; Toulon in France and Corsica; Monte Carlo with access to the French Riviera and, finally, Livorno in Italy, gateway to Siena, San Gimignano or Florence.
Way more than brief ports of call, each offers memorable land tour options, many half or full-day trips. And on our sea days, opportunities for a different kind of vision. The best cruises have space for reflection.
Judith Elen was a guest of Holland America Line.