Welcome to travel as we love it in 2023. Returning to normal is wonderful, never boring. Expect full cruise ships and fewer special deals, as ports open and cruisers warm to travel. As you book cruises for 2023 and beyond consider four destinations, familiar ports, with enhanced access in port and on shore, not yet overrun by tourism, and so lovely.
Top of the list is Torshavn, Faroe Islands, long a stopover in the North Sea, now with enhanced access, due to the investment of Denmark in tunnels across the island. Enjoy shore excursions to remote little villages of stunning beauty.
While on the island, keep a lookout for Kelpies, ghost horses, which rise from the water and save children from drowning. Islanders know there are witches in the mountains. Legend has it that a witch had her silk dress snatched by a shepherd. She chased the shepherd as he ran toward a church. The little congregation boasts that their altar cloth was once part of that dress. The story of the witch is memorialized in a statue in the idyllic valley of the little church.
Cruises to Iceland are gaining popularity, as are itineraries that ring the island nation. Put aside thoughts of Leif Ericson and Eric the Red, neither of whom are Icelandic heroes. Icelanders revere Ingólfr Arnarson, who led the 1st armada of 400 settlers from western Norway to Iceland. He landed near present-day Reykjavik and settlers spread across the landscape, claiming land for farms.
Arnarson’s monument stands in front of the Icelandic parliament. Leif is relegated to a traffic circle, a remnant of a US military base. The US gifted the Calder statue to Iceland commemorating a millennium of a democratic government. Visit the site of the first Althing, the Viking parliament, at Thingavillar National Park, a World Heritage Site.
Walk the expanded business area of quaint shops in Reykjavík, then cruise around the island to Isafjordhur and Akureyri, where Santa keeps a house full of Christmas goodies.
Atlantic ports of Mexico, typically Cancun and Cozumel, are frequent cruise favorites. For a new experience visit the Pacific port of Manzanillo, gateway to Spanish colonial towns of Colima and Comala. Manzanillo gained fame as a sport fishing venue. On a shore excursion to colonial hill towns consider where the Aztecs went after Cortez burned their capital city. Answer: they went west to the hills, where Spanish conquistadores enslaved people in mines. Today few mines survive, although quaint, true Mexico towns endure.
The town square of Colima is dwarfed by an impressive cathedral with its double bell tower and a clock imported from Germany in the nineteenth century. The town park is dedicated to the parish priest, Father Hidalgo, a firebrand in the march to independence from Spain.
Smaller sister to Colima is Comala, where Aztec culture is evident in Nauhtl language and the popular beverage is ponche, a fermented brew, unlike any beer you may have tasted. Comala is typical of Spanish planned developments decreed by King Philip II of Spain. The town grid mirrors Colima, only with modest, single level buildings, lining narrow streets.
Finally, plan to sail the circumference of Australia, just for fun. Go beyond big, sophisticated Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, to Freemantle, Cairns, and Newcastle, walkable from the port. Cairns is a gateway to tours of the Great Barrier Reef. Newcastle, recovering from an earthquake, preserved its harborside park and welcomes swimmers to beaches in December. The ANZAC Memorial Walk is enjoyed by locals, enjoying a sea view.
In southwest Australia is the preserved territorial era town of Freemantle, including the 1831 Freemantle Prison at the top of the main street. Freemantle heroes include Moondyne Joe, a repeat prison escapee. He once hid from the law in a wine cellar, only to choose the location of a police retirement party. Today walk the wooden sidewalks where Joe walked and hear stories from locals in the pubs and coffee bars.
Wherever you cruise in the coming year, go armed with stories of locals, who left a legacy for visitors on the landscape. Build your store of memories and enjoy!
All 16 Cruise through History storybooks are available on Amazon, covering ports of the world. Cruise through History of the Law stories are priced the same in paper as kindle.