It’s hard to believe, but 2020 is right around the corner — and we’re cruising into the new decade with a resolution to explore even more of this amazing planet. That’s why we’re so excited about our collection of 2020 Maiden Ports.
In 2020, we’ll be charmed by one of the most colorful cities of the Emerald Isle and catch a glimpse of underwater behemoths in the whale-watching capital of Iceland. We’ll explore more than 2,400 years of history along the Adriatic and stroll the cosmopolitan streets of the Asian Capital of South Africa. Best of all, we’re taking you along for the journey — and handling every detail.
Here are a few of the highlights from our 2020 Maiden Ports from around the world.
NORTHERN & WESTERN EUROPE
From the rolling hills of Ireland to the fjords of Iceland, Northern & Western Europe is a region of the world with an unparalleled rugged natural beauty. Outdoor lovers will find a lot to fall in love with this region, while history buffs can immerse themselves in centuries of intrigue.
Let’s take a closer look at two of the ports we can’t wait to share with you.
Galway is a bohemian beauty situated along Ireland’s western shores. Designated a European Capital of Culture for 2020, Galway’s vibrant city streets are teeming with performers, pubs, and colorfully painted buildings that offer a genuinely enchanting feel. Known as Gaillimh — a word that means “Outsiders” — in Irish Gaelic, Galway’s name is well earned. After all, the city is often abuzz with an influx of students who make their home here, giving it a distinctly modern, progressive feel.
Of course, this is also a city that is steeped in nearly 900 years of history. It’s the home of the iconic Claddagh rings, as well as the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas — the largest medieval church in Ireland. Founded in 1320, this church continues to hold regular services to this day, and rumor has it that Christopher Columbus once worshipped here.
Being a port city, it should come as no surprise that seafood is a speciality here — especially their world-famous Galway Bay oysters. Take a stroll to the city’s West End to explore a burgeoning culinary scene that combines traditional Irish staples with flavors from around the world. And speaking of the West End, beyond the River Corrib is where the city comes to life. “Back The Wesht”, as the locals say, you’ll find family-owned pubs and Michelin starred restaurants, independent boutiques and galleries, as well as legendary Róisín Dubh — the perfect spot to catch a show. It’s the soul of Galway, and definitely a neighborhood not to be missed.
Don’t let the song fool you, spend enough time here and you won’t lose your heart to a Galway girl — you’ll lose it to the entire city.
Colorful and quaint, Husavik has earned its reputation as a favorite amongst travelers from around the world. Nestled along Skjálfandi Bay, Husavik is a whale-watcher’s paradise. In fact, it’s known as the whale watching capital of the world. A reputation that is well earned, as more than 20 unique species of whale have been seen in nearby waters over the years.
Husavik is the perfect spot to catch a glimpse of a blue whale. Actually, it’s hard to miss them when they make their way into Skjálfandi Bay. After all, they are the largest animal on Earth. Just how large are they? Well, on average, they weigh about as much as 20 African bush elephants and are as long as two large school buses. A blue whale’s heart alone can weigh over 400 pounds! Hungry for more whale facts? Visit the Husavík Whale Museum, where you can spend hours pouring over everything there is to know about these magnificent creatures.
And speaking of hungry, being a harbor town makes Husavik the perfect place to try fresh local seafood, as well as some of Iceland’s more unique culinary delights. If you consider yourself a foodie, definitely make sure you try hákarl. This distinctly Icelandic treat is made from fermented shark. A tip for first-timers, pinch your nose while taking your first bite.
As mysterious as it is magnificent, Africa’s rugged coastline, sprawling savannahs, and fantastic beasts make it a must-visit destination for those with an explorer’s heart and adventurer’s will. Here are two of the ports we’re most looking forward to visiting when we sail to Africa in 2020.
Durban, South Africa
Charming and multicultural, Durban serves as a gateway into the wild heart of Africa. If you’ve dreamed of seeing Africa’s famed big five (lions, leopards, black and white rhinos, elephants, and buffalo), Durban is where your adventure begins. We’ll whisk you away from South Africa’s third-largest city to Kruger National Park on an unforgettable four-day, three-night safari. Here, you’ll learn all about the African bush from skilled rangers while driving headlong into the wilds on three early-morning and evening safaris. And when it’s time to relax, you can unwind back in your private suite at Tinga Game Lodge.
If it’s a more cosmopolitan experience you’re after, Durbs (as the locals call it), has plenty to offer. You can tour bustling marketplaces in search of new treasures and flavors, browse the city’s many art galleries, or take a lesson in microbrewing at the Ballito Brewing Company before settling in for lunch. You can even experience the city from above on a thrilling helicopter tour that culminates with a picnic lunch high atop a mountain summit. The weather in Durban is almost always lovely and warm, meaning it’s also the perfect port to simply enjoy a stroll.
Durban is the home of the Zulu people, South Africa’s largest ethnic group. It is also where you’ll find a great deal of Indian and Asian influence. This is particularly noticeable in the city’s lively assortment of eateries and cafes. If you’re looking for a can’t-miss snack while you’re visiting, we recommend trying bunny chow — a hollowed-out half loaf of bread filled with beans or curry stew. Flavorful and filling, it’s a perfect snack to fuel your fun.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is the kind of city travelers dream about. Cosmopolitan and cultured, the eclectic mix of people, food, and activities you’ll find here is second to none. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the surrounding landscape is absolutely beautiful. Looming large beyond the city, you’ll see Table Mountain, the crown jewel of Table Mountain National Park. The level plateau of Table Mountain has made it an iconic landmark. And it's one that you can explore on a hike, or via the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway — which comes with the added bonus of spectacular views all the way up.
South of Cape Town, you’ll find the Cape of Good Hope, which you can visit with us on shore excursion. This beautiful natural wonder is where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans converge — below South Africa’s highest sea cliffs. On this shore excursion, we’ll also visit Boulders Beach, the home of a large population of African penguins. This is an amazing opportunity to view these wonderful birds up close. And if you’d rather see the two oceans from high above, you can join us on an extraordinary helicopter tour.
Wine lovers will be pleased to know that Cape Town is the gateway to South Africa’s Winelands, and we’re excited to take you on a tasting tour through Stellenbosch. When you join us on shore excursion, you’ll visit a beautiful local wine estate for an introduction to South African wines, followed by a sampling of various vintages paired with local snacks. Of course, you’ll also have time to explore the curiosities of this unique town, as well as take in its Cape Dutch-style architecture.
If you’ve traveled with us before, you know what a special place the Mediterranean holds in our hearts. We love exploring the region, and are always excited to call on new and interesting ports — and we think you’re going to love what we have lined up for 2020.
On the shores of the sunny Adriatic, Ancona awaits our Mediterranean travelers. The capital of Ancona Provincia, this city was founded in about 390 BC by Syracusan colonists — making it a fascinating city for history lovers. This is the home of the Arco di Traiano — a marble arch that towers high above the harbor. Unveiled in 115 AD as a tribute to Emperor Trajan, the arch stands at nearly 19-meters high (making it “can’t-miss” both literally and figuratively).
Take a stroll up Guasco Hill, in Ancona’s historical center, and you’ll more than a beautiful view. This is also where Ancona Cathedral, seat of the Archbishop of Ancona, is located. Built in a Romanesque-Byzantine style on the site of an ancient temple dedicated to Venus, this cathedral is protected by two lions carved out of red marble who sit at the front entrance. What are they protecting? Possibly the Madonna del Duomo — an iconic painting encased in a marble shrine.
Feeling adventurous? Southwest of Ancona you can explore the Grotte Di Frasassi — a cave system known as one of the most extensive in all of Europe. Discovered in 1971, these caves are known for their extensive stalactites and stalagmites, as well as their sheer size. One of the chambers, known as Abisso Ancona (Ancona Abyss), is nearly 200 meters tall, and 180 x 120 meters wide. Just how large is that? Well, you could fit the Milan Cathedral in here and still have room to spare.
Rethymno, Crete, Greece
One of the best-preserved medieval cities in Greece, Rethymno (on the island of Crete) can feel like it’s moving at a slower pace than other Mediterranean cities. And that’s one of its greatest traits. You could spend hours strolling its cobbled streets — Rethymno is easily explored on foot — stumbling upon 16th-century Venetian fortifications, charming markets, ancient churches and mosques, and even a beach located right in the city. You’ll also love walking the harbor walls to catch a glimpse of the Venetian lighthouse, which was built in the 19-century by the Egyptians.
Don’t let the relaxed vibes distract you, however. Rethymno is bolstered by a large student population, which means the nightlife, cultural, and culinary scenes are thriving here. It’s also an excellent spot for a little retail therapy. Make your way to Souliou Street, where you’ll find everything from cosmetics and jewellery to books, pottery, and quaint souvenirs to remind you of your journey.
While you’re here, be sure to visit the Paleontological Museum, where you’ll find a collection of dwarf-elephant fossils. What makes these fossils so interesting? It’s believed that they are responsible for the myth of the cyclops. Dwarf-elephant skulls are quite large, about twice the size of a regular human head, and feature a sizable central hole which we now know is a nasal cavity for the trunk. But when the ancient Greeks stumbled upon these fossils, it’s believed they mistook the nasal cavity for a giant eye socket. Just like that, an iconic myth (and creature) is born.
Diverse and distinct, there’s an undeniable rugged charm that shines throughout Australia. Here, you’re never too far from an awe-inspiring view or a friendly local eager to share some of what makes this part of the world special with you. Here are two ports we’re so excited to be visiting for the first time in 2020.
Margaret River (Busselton), Australia
Over the years, Busselton has affectionately become known as Western Australia’s coastal playground. It’s biggest — or perhaps we should say longest — claim to fame is the Busselton Jetty, which, at 1841 meters, is the longest in the southern hemisphere. It’s also where we come ashore, so you can’t miss it! At the far end of the jetty, you’ll find the Underwater Observatory, where you can climb down to a depth of eight meters to view more than 300 unique marine species in their natural habitat.
Want a different perspective on local wildlife? Join us for a cruise down the Collie River. Here, while enjoying morning tea, you’ll have a chance to see playful bottlenose dolphins, pelicans, and other exotic birds going about their daily routines. You’ll also learn about the regional ecosystem from a local guide as you cruise past family farms that dot the riverbanks.
Busselton is more than just a friendly port — it’s also the gateway to the Margaret River wine region. Wine aficionados are sure to love their time here, whether it’s spent sampling local wine and chocolate or joining us at the Leeuwin Winery for a tour and degustation experience. You can also venture into the heart of the Margaret River Wine Region to tour two acclaimed vineyards and sample their exceptional vintages.
Do You Have a 2020 Travel Vision
Let foresight be 2020 this year. Start thinking about all the fascinating, vibrant, new cities you’d like to visit with us today. For some inspiration, check out the rest of our 2020 maiden ports. We can’t wait to continue exploring the world with you in the new year.
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