We have wanted to visit more of Australia since our first visit over 10 years ago, so when two back-to-back sailings were offered, because of the cost, we had to think long and hard for this undertaking.
Normally we use Cruise Specialists or TravewithAlan.com for our travel arrangements, but when it was not working out with CS and Alan wasn’t offering, we turned to our “old” friend and travel agent; SR. Cruise Expert Debra Dickerson, who now is associated with “Cruise & Travel Experts” based in Spring Lake, MI. Debra still “tele-commutes” from her home near Seattle. Her title with the company fits her perfectly, as she adds that extra something to her job – it’s called ***** service.
Debra held our hands through booking our 64 day Grand Asia/Australia/South Pacific adventure back in September of 2007.
The following has been copied and pasted from Hal’s Website which contains pretty pictures and a short video.
Introducing EXC In-Depth™ Voyages
We’ve created an innovative and customized approach to cruising for seasoned travelers who are curious, thoughtful and eager to find new ways to experience the world. EXC In-Depth Voyages will enable you to explore the most fascinating corners of the globe through the prism of your own personal interests and passions.
The Perfect Ship
A favorite of Holland America Line guests, Maasdam is the ideal ship for our EXC In-Depth Voyages. Visit multiple ports in each region on these itineraries, giving guests opportunities to explore all aspects of local culture.
Guests aboard Maasdam EXC In-Depth Voyages can expect the same classic style, gracious intuitive service, attention to detail, award-winning dining and most everything else they’ve come to love and expect from Holland America Line. And because EXC In-Depth Voyages are designed with more emphasis on the destination, we’re adding many new, optional activities under themes like Photography, Food, Wine & Spirits, Active Exploration, Nature and Science, History and Perspective, and Arts and Culture. In this spirit, there will be a few trade-offs. For example, instead of mainstage production shows, evening entertainment will more often and more intimately reflect the local culture. Instead of America’s Test Kitchen, EXC In-Depth Voyages will bring local chefs, locally sourced ingredients and local culinary traditions onboard to enhance the culinary offerings loved and expected by Holland America Line guests.
Each voyage is enhanced by a variety of themes for in-depth exploration, on board and ashore, including Photography; Nature and Science; Food, Wine & Spirits; History and Perspective; Arts and Culture; and Active Exploration.
In select destinations, new Zodiac tours are your gateway to immersion in lands and cultures that few are lucky enough to encounter. From Australia and New Zealand and on to Asia, the world’s most intriguing places are yours to explore in depth.
Explore With Experts
Led by expedition guide Dr. Peter Carey, our team of experts creates one-of-a-kind experiences on board and ashore. Join scientists, historians, award-winning chefs and photographers as they share insight and passion for the activities you love.
So there you have HAL’s description of this new program, which some folks feel has not been that widely promoted.
This program speaks volumes to “teacher/researcher” Barbara; to me it sounds like a semester at sea, similar to what colleges used to offer as a summer program. I will be content with regular old sea lazy sea days. After all is that what cruising was originally meant to be?
Now a word from a member of our Cruise Critic group currently on board the Maasdam as it sails from New Zealand to Sydney – Ron stated in an email to Barbara that;
“Definitely hearing very mixed opinions. About 90% of the ship is local people from Australia and New Zealand. There are just over 900 passengers on this segment or so they say which is a 100 person gain from our Papeete to Auckland segment. And what I find most interesting is that the majority of these newcomers did not understand or no a thing about the EXC InDepth Voyages program when they made their booking, and they are asking where is the In Depth component????
According to the people that are still aboard from Ft. Lauderdale say that they definitely had the best on the first segment as far as speakers, topics, and it was a fight to find a seat in the Showroom for any of those lectures. The number of lectures has decreased for sure, but they are still occurring but at somewhat weird times, like 5:15pm this evening there is an interesting topic.
The shows vary in quality, but they always have. Lot of the most recent cruisers to join the ship came with the intent of seeing the production numbers which are non-existent. I got a frustrating email from a couple joining us soon either in Auckland or Sydney, and they are now wishing they hadn’t scheduled the cruise, and this will be their first cruise on Holland,
And I can think of others that love every component of this cruise, and feel rather than a shore excursion some of the new opportunities is better described as an ‘expedition’ and I would agree with that description.”
The above photo was taken today Dec 3rd looking out our over a tanker anchored in our harbor – a foretaste of the many foreign harbors we will visit.
Next: Two nights at “The Russell” in the “Rocks” area of Sydney.