April 25th 2015 marks the 100 year anniversary of the treacherous day our Australian and New Zealand soldiers arrived in Gallipoli, Turkey to fight for our nations. Along with my father, his partner and my brother, we will embark on a 36 day cruise to commemorate the event. Leaving Perth, Australia, it follows the path our ANZACs took 100 years before us. Although I guarantee we will be doing it in a much more luxurious fashion.
Passing through four continents on our journey, we leave Australia to pass through the Cocos Islands then to Sri Lanka, Eqypt, Turkey, Greece and finishing in Italy, this is sure to be an incredible journey that I will gladly share with you all along the way.
Here’s a general map of the cruise we will be on, although a new island was added to the itinerary; the Greek island of Mykonos.
My father has always had a passion for history and especially war history, so when he visited the battlefields of Gallipoli in 1997, he vouched he would do all he could to return for the 100th anniversary. And that he is, and luckily he decided to take us along with him!
Why a cruise?
I’m glad you asked. You might be wondering why we couldn’t just go to Gallipoli on the day? Well.. Thousands of people flock to Anzac Cove every year to commemorate the event and with the 100 year anniversary sure to bring more than ever, they needed a way to control the huge crowds. A lottery/ballot system had to be put in place for a chance to attend the service. So putting our slim chances of that aside, we decided to try and get as close as possible. Our ship will dock out in the harbor of Anzac Cove on April 25 and we will have the same viewpoint the soldiers had coming into the shore at dawn 100 years ago. We will also have the dawn service broadcasted on a big screen on-board and will see the lights of the dawn service from the ship. How magical!
What is ANZAC Day?
For us Australians and New Zealanders, ANZAC Day and the memory of our ANZAC soldiers is highly respected. For those of you from any other country, you probably have no idea what this means. ANZAC stands for the Australian New Zealand Army Corps and the ANZAC soldiers were involved in the first major military action by our countries during the First World War. They were a part of the allied expedition that fought at the Battle of Gallipoli, a battle that lasted eight months. The ANZACs were met with strong Turkish forces and as a result lost over 8,000 soldiers.
That faithful day quickly became a day to commemorate the sacrifice of those who died. After the Second World War, ANZAC Day also became a day to remember the Australian lives lost in those battles as well as all other soldiers fallen during military operations.
As you can see above, we stop at many exciting places along the way. Our home for 36 days will be the MSC Orchestra cruise ship which I’m sure won’t disappoint.
We leave Perth’s maritime center is where we will depart. With great markets, dining and a convict built History Museum, our first day before departure will be a relaxed one.
Next stop is just a little down the western coast with a day tour to explore some important Australian ANZAC history. Albany was the last Australian port our soldiers left from. We get set for a week at sea before our next port of call.
After a cruise past the Cocos Islands, our next port is the capital of Sri Lanka. A colorful and cultural city, it will be a remarkable first stop and a chance to stop our sea legs for a day before another week straight at sea.
Luxor, Egypt (13 April)
Next, we cruise into the African continent and the country with some of the most ancient and exciting history. Luxor is the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes with monuments such as the Karnak Temple Complex, the Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens and the Luxor Temple.
Onto the Egyptian capital, which is where our soldiers trained and set up camp right near the famous pyramids over 100 years ago. Exciting sights to include will be the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, Mosque of Muhammad Ali and much more.
We arrive to Gallipoli a week before ANZAC day to explore the historical WWI sites including Anzac Cove, North Beach, Lone Pine, Quinn’s Post, The Neck and many other locations. We also have the option of making our way into the city of Cannakale and visit the ancient city of Troy.
A vibrant city known as the crossroads between Europe and Asia, we have the opportunity to see beautiful mosques, churches, columns, structures and ancient city walls.
Now onto the next Turkish city of Kusadasi. This city is known for its beauty and history with sites such as Ephesus, Temple of Artemis, Goddess Artemis, House of Virgin Mary, Seven Sleepers and many more.
Santorini, Greece (22 April)
This Greek Island is one of the most popular destinations across all of Europe for holiday-goers. Santorini is a beautiful island covered in white-buildings atop steep, staggering cliffs that face out to a submerged volcano. This will be a day to relax and explore the streets for some stunning ‘Kodak moments’.
Another beautiful Greek Island is next on the itinerary, known for its beautiful beaches, great nightlife and their beautiful Chora windmills. I think the view in this photo says enough.
We head back to the place where our soldiers would have started their journey 100 years ago. On Anzac Day we will sit out in the bay whilst the dawn service can be seen on the shores from the boat and it will be played live on our big screen.
After experiencing a monumental time for all Australians and New Zealanders, we head to Athens for some incredible Greek history. Sites such as the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Acropolis and many others will keep us busy.
Onto our sixth country for the trip, we sail to the capital of Sicily, often seen as the ‘ball’ that the boot of Italy is kicking. It is known for its exotic mixes of cultures from its dominance of many difference parties over the centuries.
Next port of call lands in the large city full of Greek and Roman history. With Mt Vesuvius close by, ruins such as the famous Pompeii and Herculaneum will be on our list to visit, which were destroyed by Vesuvius when it erupted almost 2,000 years ago.
We end our tour in the capital of Italy and one of the most visited ancient cities in the world, Rome. With the religious world center of The Vatican City, the famous Colosseum, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and more, it’s a great spot to end our tour and spend as much time as needed.
The cruise is going to be a remarkable time for all, and there are still a small amount of cabins left. Check Gallipoli Cruise 2015’s website for more information.
Following the cruise:
Along with the family, we will hire a camper-van (RV) to get the most out of our extra two weeks in Europe. Our plans so far are to head to Venice via Florence from Rome, then onto Salzburg, Austria – Innsbruck, Austria – Zurich & Lucerne, Switzerland – Colmar, France – Paris – London, England then trek up to Edinburgh, Scotland, through the Scottish Highlands and back down to London via towns such as York and the Stonehenge.
It will be a crazy two weeks, but no doubt one of the greatest times of my life and I can not wait to blog about it all!
My plans following my families departure
Whilst my family head back to get back into the routine of everyday life, I will continue on to experience Europe in all its glory during Summer. I was last there traveling on a Contiki tour during January of 2013. Whilst the areas covered in snow were beautiful as it was winter, I am very much a sun worshiper and look forward to seeing countries in a much more favored heat.
I plan to visit:
– Bosnia & Hergovsia
– Czech Republic
– The Netherlands
In just two and a half months, I will be a very busy girl!
Would love to hear any recommendations for these places or any hot tips or experiences with long cruises or traveling via camper-van around Europe.
As always, Happy Travels!