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All Things CARTAGENA – 7th July

Cartagena de Indias (to give it is full name) is walled by an stunning 16th Century Spanish fort and contains an abundance of monasteries, churches, plazas and palaces that are scattered throughout the city, creating a wonderful place to explore part of Colombia’s colonial past.  The multicoloured colonial buildings of the old town are perfect for an afternoon stroll, and don’t get us started on the Coffee!  After a day exploring the history and culture of this magnificent city, the beaches and warm Caribbean waters are not far from Cartagena and will provide you with crystal clear waters and magnificent reefs, perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving alike.

This weeks Cruise Deal gives you a wonderful opportunity to combine this mesmorising city with a chance to tick off a couple of bucket list destinations in one go…

Downtown Santiago, Chile

You begin with a flight to another colonial city, Santiago in Chile on the 14th March 2019.  You’ll be met and transferred to your downtown hotel for a 2 night stay, complete with breakfast.  You’ll also enjoy a complimentary evening tour of Santiago with dinner.  A transfer through the Chilean countryside takes you to the coastal city of San Antonio and up the gangway of the Norwegian Sun ready for a very unique voyage up the coast of South America.

Your first port of call is Coquimbo, the port and gateway to La Serena.  If you’re looking to steal a few tranquil moments, what better place than La Serena, The Serene One. Its nearby pristine beaches come with powdery white sand and warm water. And Chile’s second-oldest city also offers quite a collection of cultural delights. Be sure to take in the stunning colonial architecture around the Plaza de Armas, go stargazing at the Mamalluca Observatory, and sample the region’s mouth-watering seafood.

Norwegian Sun

You’ll enjoy your first relaxing day at sea to enjoy the Norwegian Sun‘s facilities and you won’t have to worry about what to do or where to go, as there are 14 dining options, 10 bars and lounges, the relaxing Body Waves Spa and the always-exciting Sun Club Casino.

In the midst of the World’s driest desert, the Atacama, is a seaside oasis called Arica, Chile. Just outside of town in the Azapa Valley you’ll find giant figures of animals and geometric forms left behind by ancient civilizations. In Arica, visit the Pacific Museum and San Marco Cathedral for sights well worth seeing.

The Atacama Desert

After another day at sea you arrive in Peru, and the port of Callao, which is located on the fringe of Peru’s fascinating capital, Lima. The city features many fine landmarks, not least of which is the Plaza de Armas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll appreciate its mix of colonial mansions, Moorish balconies, palaces and churches. Don’t miss a visit to the Gold Museum, brimming with resplendent Inca exhibits.  Norwegian Cruise Lines also offer an opportunity to leave the ship for a few days and enjoy an overland tour to the famous Inca ruins of Machu Picchu.

Chan Chan

For those staying with the ship you will continue up the coast to Salaverry. This is our gateway to the city of Trujillo and the treasures of northern Peru. Named after the Spanish city where conquistador Francisco Pizarro was born, Trujillo’s stately mansions and decorated balconies date back as far as 1534. This is the Moche Valley, home to the extraordinary adobe citadels built a thousand years earlier by the Chimus and Mochicas. Most remarkable of all is Chan-Chan – Capital of the Kingdom of the Great Chimu and the largest city in South America to be built of mud, it once covered an area of over 12 square miles.

Welcome to Ecuador, and the city of Manta.  A commercial centre – the second largest port after Guayaquil – and a thriving holiday centre, Manta and its people are drawn to the shore and its curving Malecón, the promenade that lines the bay. All of life is here – restaurants, bars and their music spill out, with revellers splitting their time between these and favourite beaches like El Murciélago. Don’t miss the chance to learn about the many talents of the locals and their ancestors – not least of which is the Panama hat that originated in nearby Montecristi.

Panama Hats…..NOT from Panama!
Gold Macaw, Costa Rica

You have now left South America and arrive in Central America – welcome to Costa Rica.  The port town of Puntarenas was once one of the most important Costa Rican ports and is an important docking location for cruise ships and their passengers.  The open air cafes that line the beach front serve excellent fresh seafood, outstanding fruit smoothies and ice cream. The side walks are also lined with street venders selling their treasures which make for excellent souvenirs.  Costa Rica’s topography is one of the world’s most diverse, so don’t miss out on a chance to drive through the nearby rolling hills, high mountains, plains, valleys, and riverbeds is just part of the gorgeous landscape that will make you think of paradise.  Look out for scarlet macaws, blue and gold macaws and cockatoos and a host of other spectacular birdlife, many unique to the area.

After another day at sea comes a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a full transit of the famous Panama Canal.  On paper its a canal that runs for 81km through the Panamanian countryside and the Continental Divide, connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, but dig deeper into its history and you’ll discover what an amazing history this canal has.  From the initial idea back in 1534 when Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain first proposed the idea, to the first attempt at constructing the canal by the French in 1881 and the eventual success by the United States in the 20th Century, albeit with a great loss of life.  The Panama Canal remains one of the great engineering triumphs.  You’ll spend the day traversing the Canal, sailing through the Culebra Cut and the Gatun Lake and enjoy the experience of your 78,000 tonne cruise ship being lifted purely by the power of water as you squeeze through the 3 sets of locks with just inches spare on either side.

The locks of the Panama Canal
Cartagena, Colombia

Today’s highlighted destination is up next – Cartagena, Columbia.  Wander the narrow cobblestone streets and squares inside the walled city. Stop at Plaza de Bolivar which features a statue of its namesake. Across the street is the Inquisition Palace, the Inquisition was established in Cartagena in the year 1610 to punish any crimes against the Catholic faith.  You could visit the Gold Museum where you’ll see beautiful displays of valuable pre-Colombian gold artifacts and some of the old ceramics in the Americas.  Before returning to your ship, take home some souvenirs from the Pierino Gallo shopping center or enjoy panoramic sightseeing through Bocagrande, the modern part of the city.

2 final days at sea to relax and reminisce about the amazing experiences you have enjoyed over the last 2 weeks as your prepare for your disembarkation in Miami, Florida.  But dont go to the airport yet, as you have 2 nights in Miami Beach to soak up the Art Deco style and maybe a cocktail or two.

Art Deco and Modern Architecture in Miami

A truly wonderful 20 day fly, cruise and stay in a fascinating part of the world.  All flights from Australia, 2 nights in Santiago (with daily breakfast and an evening tour with dinner), 16 night cruise onboard Norwegian Sun (gratuities included), 2 nights in Miami Beach (with American Breakfast) plus all transfers between the airports, hotels and ship including in one package.  Ocean view cabins start from as low as $7,279 per person. 

And there are bonuses thrown in also.  The Ultimate Beverage Package includes a variety of spirits, cocktails, wines, beers, soft drinks and juices, and is valued at $89USD ($120AUD)…..and that is thrown in to your cruise for FREE.  And there is more – $50USD towards your shore excursions IN EVERY PORT (and there are 7 of them).  This represents a total value of over $4800 per couple in bonus inclusions!!

Call Travel Masters or The Travel Studio on 1800 672 988 to GRAB THAT CABIN!