Cruise Guide: New Seven Wonders top Holland America’s agenda

By Michael Coleman

Holland America Line has unveiled a series of ambitious itineraries to the world’s greatest landmarks, including the new Seven Wonders of the World, as chosen by global voters in a recent Internet poll.

The line will also visit what pollsters deemed the honorary wonder of the world – the Pyramids of Giza: the only remaining wonder of ancient times.

The new wonders, announced last month in Lisbon, Portugal, include: the Great Wall of China; Petra, Jordan; The Statue of Christ Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Machu Picchu, Peru; the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itzá in Mexico; the Colosseum in Rome, Italy; and the Taj Mahal in Agra, India.

Guests aboard Holland America ships will be able to explore the wonders as part of various shore excursion opportunities offered on specific sailings.

For travelers visiting the Great Wall of China, cruise options include a 64-day Asia, Australia and Polynesian explorer cruise on the Amsterdam in September 2007 or 14-day cruises on the Statendam in March and April 2008 that call at Xingang (Beijing).

Next year, on the line’s 68-day Grand South America and Antarctic voyage, guests may explore Machu Picchu on visits by Prinsendam to the ports of Salaverry and Callao, Peru. Departing in November, the Statendam visits both ports on its 26-day Inca Discovery cruise, while the 22-day Americas Discovery voyage on Amsterdam only calls at Callao.

At South America’s other new wonder, guests may visit the Statue of Christ Redeemer on the 68-day Grand voyage when calling at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, or on two fall 2007 and seven 2008 cruises between Rio de Janeiro and Valparaiso, Chile.

The Mayan ruins of Chichen Itzá can be observed via shore excursions in the Caribbean port of Cozumel, included on three seven-day western Caribbean departures aboard Westerdam in early 2009.

Aqaba, coastal gateway to the 6th-century ruins of the Nabataeans in Petra, Jordan, appears regularly as a Grand World voyage port of call for Holland America. Also, in Mumbai, India, guests can travel to the Taj Mahal on an overland adventure during the 114-day around-the-world journey aboard Amsterdam in 2008.

Among the easiest wonders to reach by cruise ship, Rome’s Colosseum shouldn’t be missed if opting for one of more than 11 fall 2007 or 35 summer and fall 2008 Europe or trans-Atlantic sailings that make stops in Civitavecchia, the cruise gateway to Rome.

Meanwhile, Alexandria serves as the portal to the lone remaining ancient wonder, the Pyramids of Giza. This year, Alexandria appears on four European and Mediterranean cruises and next year on six. It also is a port of call for the line’s 73-day Grand Africa voyage sailing aboard Prinsendam in March.

What will life be like onboard when sailing to the wonders? Look for the Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine – a state-of-the-art onboard show kitchen, where celebrated guest chefs and culinary experts provide cooking demonstrations and classes – Explorations Internet Cafe, powered by The New York Times, teens-only activity areas and all-new stateroom amenities highlighted by flat-panel TVs and plush Euro-top beds.