There are various different types of excursion that you can undertake when you’re on a luxury cruise, and it depends on your interests. You might be the sporty type who wants to go hiking, or diving to see wildlife on tropical reefs. It could be that you’re a foody, looking to enjoy the culinary delights of the countries you visit. Or it may be that you’re fascinated by history.
Some who travel have more of an interest in ancient wonders and ruins, but a lot of excursions are tailored around the two World Wars, as they are intriguing and poignant times in (relatively) recent history. Take a look at five of the top places to visit on a cruise if you want to learn more about the Second World War:
In 1945, it was looking bleak for the Axis Alliance as the Allied Forces continued to force back troops. Italy had surrendered in 1943 and in 1945, following the Russian forces entering Berlin, Hitler committed suicide and Germany officially surrendered. However Japan held out, refusing to accede to the conditions required. It was this which led to the dropping of the first atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima, killing an estimated 70,000 people directly and around 140,000 in total, when further deaths related to the radiation and injury are counted. A number of memorials are now located in the city detailing the events and the dead.
Ships visiting Cherbourg can offer excursions to Normandy, the site of the 1944 beach landings that signalled a reversal in momentum for the Allied Forces. Again a number of memorials pay tribute to those who lost their lives during the landings, with the famous American Cemetery consisting of thousands of plain white-cross graves, a truly poignant sight. Travellers can also visit the beaches themselves where the landings occurred including Omaha, Juno and Gold.
Cruises to Hawaii and the port of Honolulu allow guests to get to Pearl Harbor. This was the site where the major US Pacific fleet was stationed, before a surprise attack by Japanese forces in 1941 led to the previously-neutral USA to declare war, first on the Japanese and then on Italy and Germany, after they announced they would support Japan by declaring war on the US. Now you can see the harbour where the attack took place, along with museums and landmarks dedicated to the memory of the lives lost.
National World War 2 Museum in New Orleans
Taking a break from actual destinations related to major events in the war, the National World War II Museum in New Orleans offers the chance to learn a lot about many different events, although a lot of focus is on the Normandy landings and the Atomic bombs. The main atrium of the museum has a Spitfire, Messerschmitt, a Dauntless and a C-47 Skytrain suspended from the ceiling, while other vehicles include a Sherman tank, a Higgins landing boat, and more bomber planes.
Unless you know your history, you might be surprised to find Malta on this list, but it was a pivotal stronghold for Mediterranean operations, due to being close to the supply lines for the Axis forces. The entire island was awarded the George Cross for bravery shown during the siege of the island nation, and a number of strongholds still remain, making for an interesting visit.
By Ian Lewis