A uniquely modern European city, Rotterdam is constantly moving forward; whether it’s in the city’s urban art scene, its futuristic skyline of high-rises or its energetic nightlife. A victim of devastating wartime bomb damage, this is a city which has rebuilt itself to great success and whose long and lucrative shipping industry lives on still.
It’s fitting then, that with hundreds of ships in port at any time, Rotterdam has also become a popular cruise destination, for visitors seeking astounding contemporary design, first class museums and a distinctive buzz you won’t find anywhere else on the continent. If travelling from the UK, you can cruise from Southampton to Rotterdam.
Orientation in Rotterdam
A cruise in Rotterdam will most likely see you dock at the main terminal of Wilheminakade, from where you can make your way to the centre in about half an hour, via the Erasmus Bridge. There is also a smaller dock downtown, at Boompjies, around 20 minutes walk to the main city.
Rotterdam’s major attractions are close enough together that they can be easily navigated on foot, but a taxi and water taxi service operates between the port and the city, as well as around the centre. The Metro system is a quick way to get around the city and there is a station at Wilheminaplein. Public transport is in abundance here, with shuttle buses, trams and trains running throughout. For this reason, hiring a car probably won’t be necessary but try two wheels instead; Rotterdam provides plenty of lanes for cyclists.
Sight-seeing in Rotterdam
Rotterdam owns plenty of sights and things to do, whether you’re stopping for an excursion or for a few days. Although most of its visual heritage was wiped away during the Second World War, there is an astonishing amount of cultural artefacts to be viewed and experienced here. The city’s museums cover everything from the Dutch Masters at the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum to the magnificent sperm whale skeleton at the Natural History Museum and the country’s ever-changing architectural landscape at the Netherlands Architecture Institute.
Visitors looking for surviving history will not be disappointed, however. One of the few buildings to survive the bombs is the Medieval Sint Laurenskerk, which houses one of the biggest church organs in Europe. Elsewhere, the district of Delfshaven in the south-west of the city can be reached by a short tram ride but will transport you back in time by way of the old Pilgrim’s Church, the reconstructed 18th century windmill and the series of canalside cafes and stores which effectively recreate Rotterdam’s pre-war atmosphere.
Of course, there are many options for the cruising holiday-maker here; depending on how much time you have, you could do a whirlwind tour of the city sights by bus, sample anything from classic seafood to locally-brewed beer or take a trip out of the city to the nearby old towns of Gouda or Delft. One thing is for certain, a stop-off in the surprising and innovative Rotterdam will be worlds away from traditional cruise excursions and well worth a closer look.
Western Australia has some of the most diverse beaches in the country, from pristine stretches of white sand to dramatic granite boulders and beaches comprised entirely of tiny white shells. With so many unique destinations, it can be hard to know where to start. To help you get the most out of your next trip, here are 5 of the best beaches in Western Australia.
This picturesque beach is famous for its unique dolphin experience. Every day, groups of these beautiful and inquisitive animals visit the beach and provide travellers with the experience of a lifetime. With its trademark stunning white sand and sparkling turquoise water, the beach at Monkey Mia is truly one of the best in the state.
While many places may claim a similar name, Shell Beach in Western Australia is one of the few in the whole world which actually lives up to its title. Over 100kms of stunning coastline is framed by this unique beach in which there is no sand. The entire stretch is made up of tiny white shells, and is a truly beautiful sight to behold. A visit to Shell Beach is a must for travellers looking to explore Western Australia’s best beaches.
Since its humble beginnings during the 1960s as a consortium of Norwegian ship owners, Royal Caribbean Cruises has steadily grown and today the cruise line is the second biggest operating in the world.
With 21 ships in its fleet, the company has a wide array of itineraries to choose from. Royal Caribbean currently has three ships sailing from Southampton and Harwich to exciting destinations such as Barcelona and Rome.
From the Greek Islands to the Rock of Gibraltar and from Turkish bazaars to Barcelona’s fabulous architecture, the cruise line’s Mediterranean cruises cover every major tourist destination in Europe.
Royal Caribbean also offers cruises to Northern Europe, the Caribbean, Alaska and Canada, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Bermuda, the Bahamas and South America. The transatlantic and transpacific cruises are also very popular with cruise lovers.
With six ship classes to choose from every cruise lover is virtually assured to find a ship that suits his or her style. Select from among the Oasis class, Freedom class, Quantum class, Voyager class, Radiance class, Vision class and Sovereign Class.
The Oasis class vessels are the cruise line’s biggest ships. This honour used to belong to the Freedom class, but in 2009 Oasis of the Seas became the world’s biggest cruise ship. It has a passenger capacity of 5,400 (plus crew members), it weights a massive 225,282 tons and the total construction cost amounted to $1.4 billion.
With a gross tonnage of 69,130 each, Legends of the Seas and Splendour of the Seas are the company’s smallest two ships. They are perfect for people who prefer a more intimate ambiance than that offered by the mega cruise liners.
Accommodations vary from standard internal cabins to ocean view cabins, balcony cabins and a wide selection of suites. Suites range from ‘mini’ to the large Royal Suites equipped with a grand piano and private bar. On the majority of ships passengers from suites have access to their own private concierge service.
Amenities and entertainment
As of middle May 2013 the following amenities are available on all cruise ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet: telephones, televisions, a main theatre where headliner shows and Broadway-style shows are performed, a basketball court, a rock climbing wall, superb dining facilities, an indoor fitness centre, 24-hour room service, a swimming pool, a Windjammer buffet, the Adventure Ocean children’s programme and a selection of lounges – including the very popular Viking Crown Lounge.
All ships also feature paid amenities such as ship-to-shore telephone calls, wireless internet, cell phone access, bingo, a casino, a selection of shops and bars and a full-service spa.
Daytime activities include, mini-golf, rock climbing, swimming and ice-skating (on Voyager and Freedom class ships).
Entertainment on the cruise line’s ships varies from passenger-participation shows such as ‘Newlywed and Not-so-Newlywed’ games to posh Vegas-style productions. There’s also a good selection of musical entertainment on offer in the various public rooms.
Why cruise with Royal Caribbean?
The sheer diversity of itineraries, the selection of ships and the wide range of amenities and entertainment make Royal Caribbean a great choice for any cruise lover.
As one of the most significant centers of history and culture on the north-eastern coast of the United States, the city of Boston draws numerous visitors every year. This city has a diverse range of attractions and entertainment available so everyone who arrives in Boston on a pleasure trip is bound to find something of interest.
A brief introduction to Boston
The area around the city of Boston was among the first to be settled by colonists from Europe, including seventeenth century arrivals from England. At this time, the religious minded nature of the English colonists meant that Boston was founded in the spirit of the puritanical way of life to which the people aspired. The location in the bay, with ready access to fresh water, helped the settlers to survive the first harsh years of struggle that it took to establish a community.
Later, towards the end of the eighteenth century, Boston would become closely connected with the struggle for American independence from the British. A wave of actions against English rule included the now famous incident of dumping a cargo of taxable tea into Boston harbor. Boston also became pivotal to the independence movement in military terms.
Boston’s theaters and music
With such a key position in the spirit and history of the United States, it is perhaps unsurprising that the cultural and educational profile of the city has remained prominent over the years. The theater, music, and dance scenes in Boston are lively whatever the season. Venues such as the Symphony Hall for classical music, the Citi Arts Center for modern dance, the Boston University Theater for drama, and specialist spots for various music forms, from jazz to ballet, have built solid national and international reputations.
Many Boston hotels are located close to the areas where the theater and music scene is at its liveliest, so access for visitors is easy, and it is possible to choose accommodations according to any special interests concerning entertainment.
Boston and the visual arts
It is not only performance arts that are well represented in Boston, as there is also a strong cultural presence from different movements in the visual arts. The Museum of Fine Arts, for example, puts on a varied combination of exhibits all year round, while the Institute of Contemporary Art and the MIT Museum also attract large numbers of visitors with programs of exhibitions and events. Many people come to the city just to find the Cheers bar from the television comedy of that name. Moreover, as might be expected, there is also a wide range of historic sites, museums, and cultural centers for visitors to explore.
Events and festivals
Boston is a busy city throughout the calendar, but it is worth checking the latest cultural program for specific details. Regular festivals and arts series frequently bring music and drama out of the custom-built venues and onto the streets and into the waterfront park. Summer in the park and in the arcade near the city hall can be particularly busy in this respect.
* Image (cc) mooogmonster via Wikipedia
** Image (cc) Alex Feldstein via Wikipedia
The popular summer destination of Marbella can be found on the Costa del Sol in the south of Spain and is famous for its beautiful beaches, rich culture and vibrant nightlife scene. Unfortunately, this destination has the reputation for being rather pricey, which may make people who are on a tight budget look for other places to spend their two weeks in the sun.
However, people who are on a tight budget will still be able to enjoy Marbella to the full provided that they are willing to do a little research in advance. People who book their accommodation at the last minute will be able to save a considerable amount of money in the hotel of their choice by taking unoccupied rooms.
Flights are another element of travel that can bump up the price of your holiday and make your budget stretch to the limit. However, great deals on cheap flights to Marbella are available at momondo.co.uk, a flight comparison site where visitors can search for the latest bargains from the comfort of their own home.
Travelling by taxi or public transportation can soon eat a sizable whole in your budget, especially if you plan to explore some of the enchanting attractions located just outside of Marbella. The best way to save money while exploring independently is to opt for car hire and there are some great deals available to those who take the time to search online. Visitors will be able to pick up their choice of car hire at the airport as soon as they arrive, which also means that they save themselves the hassle of arranging transportation after their flight.
A number of stunning beaches can be found just to the east of Marbella and the beauty of spending the day at the beach is that it is completely free as well as the perfect opportunity to unwind a little and work on a gorgeous golden tan. Visitors can save money by shopping for food and drinks at a local supermarket before they head to the beach so that they can avoid paying through the nose for refreshments at the cafes and restaurants that line the beach.
Exploring the city of Marbella on foot is an enchanting experience that should not be missed. The old quarter is packed of historic buildings and monuments to explore such as the Alcazaba wall and Orange Square, while the town hall dates back to the 16th century and is famed as being one of the finest buildings in the whole city. Strolling along Avenue del Mar is an uplifting experience, while the Paseo Maritimo waterfront is another great place to spend a little time.
When it comes to dining, avoid the restaurants and cafes in tourist areas and head to local markets. Most markets offer a good selection of hot and cold snacks as well as cheap and tasty meals that can be enjoyed at any time of the day or night.
David Bell is a freelance writer and blogs about interior design, food, travel, art and culture. Follow him on Twitter @DavidBellWriter
Image (cc) Natt Muangsiri/Flickr
- Tips, advice and things you need to know when going on a cruise to Rotterdam
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- Exploring Cultural Boston
- Affordable Marbella
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