Researching Holland America Line last week and becoming one of their Platinum certified experts was a pleasure, especially since I'm embarking soon on my first trip with them! I'm taking Dad on a 7-day Alaska cruise, sailing round-trip Seattle, and we'll be exploring Seattle, Juneau, Mendenhall and Hubbard Glaciers, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Butchart Gardens in Victoria (on my list to see for years). I've curated shore excursions for us that focus on the arts, history and local culture in each town so Dad and I can have a relaxing, educational journey as we enjoy each other's company; no outdoorsy adventures for us like kayaking, snorkeling or glacier hiking - all of which are available, if that's your thing!
Holland America is an excellent cruise line for intellectually curious travelers who want to explore not only popular destinations but also many off-the-beaten track ports where other cruise lines don't sail; plus they include a huge number of overnight stays in towns where you'll want to experience the nightlife. Holland America revises their itineraries each year, and they design them so that you could take back-to-back sailings and have an even more epic journey - all on the same ship. I added so many destinations to my bucket list after learning more about Holland America! A month-long circumnavigation of Australia, cruising along both coasts of South America and seeing Antarctica, and maybe returning to Alaska to add on their land extensions through Denali National Park and the Yukon! When you factor in the costs for hotel and transportation for your average land-based vacation, particularly in Europe, you can't beat the value of a cruise. Plus Holland America has exceptional partnerships for on board entertainment and shore excursions like America's Test Kitchen, BBC Earth, Lincoln Center Stage, Billboard, BB King's, and magazines like Oprah's O, Food & Wine, and Afar.
Because Seattle is such a great destination in its own right, Dad and I added a night before and after our cruise to get to know this dynamic city. Below are some of the diverse ways you can make the most of your next trip that includes Seattle - maybe combined with a Holland America cruise!
Article below originally appeared in Virtuoso Best of the Best: 2014 Guide to the World's Best Hotel Experiences.
From the Olympics to the Farm
Take a guided trek along the Olympic Peninsula, home to quintessential Pacific Northwest landscapes and experiences. Learn about the area’s geology and discover its indigenous flora and fauna. Follow up with a visit to Finn River Farm and Cidery, a working farm known for its fine hard ciders and fruit wines. You can sample these beverages while owner Crystie Kisler prepares your farm-to-fork dinner.
Live like a real Seattleite—combine fun outdoor adventures with fine wine. A kayaking trip around Lake Union will be followed by an exclusive tour of boutique wineries in Woodinville, a sunset bonfire and a clambake on the beach. Hike through Twin Falls State Park and enjoy a winemaker dinner with the owner of JM Cellars.
San Juan Island by Kayak and Seaplane
Search for Orca whales while kayaking Haro Strait. Your naturalist guide will lead you past wildlife refuges and rugged coastline, stopping for a gourmet picnic and a glass of wine. As evening approaches, you’ll visit an island winery or lavender farm before boarding a seaplane for your private scenic flight back to Seattle.
Holiday Brews and Lights
If you’re visiting during December, don’t miss this fun, festive tour showcasing Seattle’s true holiday spirit. Start with behind-the-scenes tours at three distinctive breweries, tasting special seasonal brews along with traditional lagers and ales. Then climb into your Mercedes Sprinter—with designated driver-guide, of course—to explore the city’s best Christmas light displays.
Contact me when you're ready to see - or sail from - Seattle!