World Schooling

Classroom at Sea

EXC In-Depth Voyages aboard Holland America Line – M.S. Maasdam

As I have already written about in a previous blog I admit to being a little peeved at receiving an email from Holland America Line just 9 days before we set sail informing me that the kids club would not be running this cruise. Onboard experience with a passenger following the children around the ship has now also proved that unless they make certain cruises for adults only that they should at least provide a safe area for children to play, even if it’s under parental supervision.

HOWEVER…with all of that said, this has probably been the best cruise that I have ever been on and we are only 10 days into our 24 night crossing.

I chose this particular crossing really for the best route, destinations and price, I admit that having done numerous cruises in the past I found the majority of ships much of a muchness and therefore as I booked the cruise online with cruise118 I admit I hadn’t looked in too much depth to discover the specialist nature of this particular cruise.

This cruise is what Holland America Line call an EXC In-Depth Voyage and instead of simply having the usual destinations guides onboard who give an brief overview of each port and where to head for the best diamonds etc….this is a fully immersive experience which really is like a grown up classroom at sea. There are a range of specialists brought onboard who have given talks on science and nature, art, history, photography, cultural cookery to name a few. Numerous BBC documentaries are also shown onboard each day which again are directly related to the destinations biology, oceanography, geology etc of the areas we are visiting.

Above: Just a few examples of the topic groups and destination related movies which are included within the EXC programmes.

In addition to this, the team of cultural ambassadors who have been with us from Auckland to Papeete in Tahiti have been sharing with us ukulele lessons, singalongs, polynesian talks, tahitian dance lessons and storytelling evenings. They have been absolutely amazing and completely engaging. I like to think that they have enjoyed the experience as much as we have because I know that they too have ‘day jobs’ to return to.

I am really sorry to see these guys leave the ship today, but hopefully they will be replaced by another great team to sail with us for the next part of the voyage.

Today we also said goodbye to one of the greatest entertainment acts I have seen at sea ‘The Leading Men’ an absolutely outstanding male vocal quartet produced by Lovegrove Entertainment. There standard of singing & overall performance stood head and shoulders above any other musical act I have ever seen on a cruise ship (and trust me I have seen a lot). They provided me with the biggest smiles and reduced me to tears all in one evening!

Tonight as we will not be leaving Papeete until the early hours of the morning we have an amazing Tahitian group ‘Tahiti Ora’ come aboard just for the evening to provide us with colourful & vibrant cultural production of polynesian folklore, told through music and dance.

We are now at Port 6 of 10 destinations in the South Pacific and then our final 7 days sailing will all be at sea. So far we have visited:

Nuku’alofa – Tonga

Vavau– Tonga

Unfortunately our 3 port Alofi, Niue was cancelled due to a cargo ship arriving early to unload vital supplies to the island and therefore understandably took priority over a cruise ship.

Rarotonga – Cook Islands

Bora Bora – French Polynesia

Papeete – Tahiti

Each Island has been unique and beautiful, the love and welcome from the people has been nothing like I have ever experienced. It’s impossible to put into to words not only the beauty but the feeling that these exceptional islands and their people bring to your soul because it has to be experienced to be believed.

The great thing about having the EXC cruise experience is that with such an immersive educational and cultural programme onboard, we get to fully embrace each destination. It becomes more like going on a school field trip with all your new friends!!

I have learnt so much just within the last few days and I know Cameron has too, even though the programme is aimed at adults.

However what I would say is that Holland America alone are missing a trick because it would so easy for them to add on an EXC junior programme too for their younger travellers so that they could be fully immersed with the educational programme which is suited more towards their age groups.

I read just recently that there are now 60,000 children in the U.K. alone who are home schooled, I have no idea of what the figures are worldwide.

I belong to a Worldschooling forum on Facebook which has over 49,000 members – all parents who are travelling the world whilst educating their kids.

Growing numbers of families are educating their children whilst travelling the globe.

There is a MASSIVE gap in the marketplace for this kind of onboard learning experience for the younger generation. So come on Holland America Line, please, please extend you EXC cruise experience for the next generation of young explorers.

To discover a world of EXC In-depth voyages with Holland America Line, please visit their website: www.hollandamerica.com

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