Final Commentary

    Originally, about three years ago, we were intrigued with taking this Ancient Treasures cruise because of its interesting itinerary.  Then trouble in the Balkans caused the cruise line, Holland America, to cancel the cruise due to the stop in Croatia and the nearby sailing in the Adriatic.  A couple of years later, Holland America again offered the same cruise itinerary and we decided to book it.  However, the itinerary we originally signed up for included two days in the Holy Land instead of the visits to Cyprus, Rhodes and Santorini.  Because of the violence in the Holy Land this year, Holland America eventually substituted the indicated ports for the Israel segments several months ago.  While it was disappointing not to have gone to the Holy Land, we note that we would have been there on September 11 if the original itinerary had held.  Probably it was desirable to have been elsewhere on that date.  The Holy Land will have to wait for another trip.

    Nevertheless, we did see a great deal on this cruise of 2,678 nautical miles (3,080 statute miles).  Leaving from our home continent of North America, we visited three other continents (Europe, Asia and Africa).  We saw the sites or the remains of four of the seven Wonders of the Ancient World (Giza Pyramid, Temple of Artemis site at Ephesus, Colossus of Rhodes site and site of the Lighthouse at Alexandria).  We saw some of the world's great churches and breathtaking mosques.  We took in sites where holy men and women had lived and preached.  We saw the vestiges of multiple civilizations and noted how one civilization had led to the next, frequently with great devastation and loss of life. We visited countries recently torn by war and those that still regard their neighbors with great distrust.  While we viewed all this, horrific terrorism took place in our home country.

    We remembered what the Dubrovnik guide had said about how it is hard to live as neighbors now with someone who was trying to kill you a few years earlier.  And yet, with hope, we recalled what the guides told us in Greece and Turkey about the conflict between those two peoples.  They related the story of the terrible earthquake in Turkey in 1999, which killed some 35,000 persons.  First to fly in food and medicine were the Greeks.  One Turk said, "Of course they should come. They are our neighbors. It should work both ways. If they are ever in trouble, we should go to them, too."  Sometime later, a smaller earthquake hit Athens and Turks were among the first to provide help.  The two countries still haven't resolved the dispute in Cyprus yet but they have made a start towards better relations.  We have hope--both for them and for the planet.

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