Holland America’s Rotterdam and Amsterdam feature Middle East cruises from Dubai in 2016

Holland America Line will be returning two of its sister ships, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, to Dubai in 2016, the cruise line has confirmed, with Amsterdam sailing west from Dubai as part of her World Cruise and Rotterdam heading east to Singapore.

Rotterdam will cruise from Dubai on January 31st, on a 17-night ‘Passage to the Far East’. The 17-night cruise is longer than the traditional two weeks offered by most other cruise lines offering this cruise itinerary out of Dubai, because Holland America have opted for a more unique selection of destinations.

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Rotterdam will depart Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on January 31st, eschewing the overnight port stays that have become increasingly common for Dubai Cruise Terminal. She’ll spend three days at sea, arriving in Mangalore, India on February 4th in the early morning.

Holland America’s Rotterdam and Amsterdam feature Middle East cruises from Dubai in 2016

La Fountaine dining room, MS Rotterdam

She’ll cruise overnight to Cochin, India arriving on February 5th and will spend the following day at sea en-route to Hambantota, Sri Lanka, where she’ll arrive in the early morning of February 7th. This is where Holland America’s cruise itinerary becomes interesting.

Most cruise lines call at the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, not Hambantota in the south, which is undergoing a major redevelopment and restoration project by the government to turn it into the country’s second urban centre. This is fitting, because Hambantota was the seat of of a flourishing civilization in 200 BC and many ancient temples and ruins will provide cruise tourists on this Dubai sailing with a glimpse into Sri Lanka’s past, and the nursery of its strong Buddhist culture.

Holland America’s Rotterdam and Amsterdam feature Middle East cruises from Dubai in 2016

Rotterdam’s pool has a sliding roof for conversion from outdoor to indoor depending on weather

Holland America’s Rotterdam will then strike out across the Bay of Bengal bound for Yangoon, the former capital of erstwhile reclusive Myanmar. Yangon boasts more colonial buildings than any other city in the region, largely because it was destroyed by a fire in 1841 and captured by the British in 1852, who led a major redevelopment program to turn the city into the heart of British Burma.

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Poverty and modernity and the iron fist and velvet glove live side by side in this city of contrasts and contradictions as Myanmar attempts to emerge from decades of brutal authoritarian rule, while still keeping the dictatorial ‘old guard’ in power.

Holland America’s Rotterdam and Amsterdam feature Middle East cruises from Dubai in 2016

Rotterdam features one of the most ornate atrium’s at sea

There is so much of this city and her history, that Holland America have made it the only overnight port call on the entire cruise. In fact, Rotterdam will stay overnight in port in Yangon for two nights before departing for Phuket, Thailand, where she’ll arrive on February 15th. Rotterdam will end her 17-night voyage in Singapore the following day.

Holland America’s Rotterdam and Amsterdam feature Middle East cruises from Dubai in 2016

Balcony cabin aboard Rotterdam

Amsterdam will cruise from Dubai later in the year on March 28th, 2016 as part of her 2016 World Cruise. This Middle East to Europe leg of her annual world cruise can be booked as three different cruise itineraries, with an 18-night Dubai-Rome cruise, 21-night Dubai-Barcelona cruise and 33-night Dubai-Fort Lauderdale cruise all on offer.

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