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Holland America Line

CRUISE LINE PROFILE: Holland America Line

Photo of the Noordam goes here.Holland America:

Storied History,

Pampering Style

By Georgina Cruz


Holland America Line has an illustrious history spanning 130 years. The line's vessels are sometimes referred to as those "dam ships" because all their names end with "dam," reflecting the Dutch heritage. In total, Holland America operates 13 ships sailing to all seven continents.

More than 500 cruises visiting more than 320 ports from two-day getaways to a 108-day circumnavigations of the planet. Many cruises depart from southern U.S. ports to the Caribbean and Central America.

Owned by Carnival Corp., the line is expecting a 14th vessel, the 86,000-ton Eurodam, which is under construction, and scheduled for delivery in summer of 2008. She will be the first of the line's Signature-Class series.

All of Holland America's ships have classy interiors graced with fresh flowers and extensive collections of art and artifacts.

Logo goes here.Not content to rest on its laurels as a premium line, Holland America recently completed a $225 million fleetwide "Signature of Excellence" enhancement program.

That included the addition of such new features as Culinary Arts Centers to its vessels. These centers are state-of-the-art onboard show kitchens where celebrated guest chefs and culinary experts provide cooking demonstrations and classes for guests.

Other Signature of Excellence enhancements include the Explorations Café powered by The New York Times; new teen-only activity areas; and new stateroom amenities highlighted by flat-panel TVs and plush euro-top Mariner's Dream Beds.

Ambience/Style of Cruising

Photo of couple in wine bar goes here.Holland America is a premium line with classic ambience. It's traditional and, at the same time, modern. It features attentive service, high-quality food and extensive menus. 

In past years, Holland America was known for serving predominantly an older clientele. That's changed. Yes, seniors still enjoy the ships and are welcomed warmly onboard. But today, the line's guests span multiple generations.

Photo of kids in a Holland America onboard pool goes here.


Today, you're just as likely to see guests in their 30s, 40s and 50s (and sometimes even younger guests) onboard as those in their 60s, 70s and 80s.

The line is also gaining in popularity with multi-generational family groups as it's beefed up its Club HAL supervised children's activity program and facilities. 

Above, kids on a Caribbean cruise enjoy a cool dip in one of the ship's pools above. *


Photo of stateroom goes here.Holland America Line’s says its staterooms are 25 percent larger than the industry standard. We've found they offer ample closet and drawer space.

As far as amenities go,  each stateroom (following installation of the Signature of Excellence upgrades) now features those dreamy beds (see photo at left*)with premium Euro-top mattresses; high quality, 200-thread count cotton bed linens; large fluffy towels; and deluxe bathrobes for guest use.

Also included in staterooms are lighted magnifying make-up mirrors; stylish new hair dryers; complimentary fresh fruit basket; stainless-steel ice bucket and serving tray; and flat-screen TVs.

Those new flat-screen televisions feature, subject to satellite availability: TNT or TCM, Boomerang, Cartoon Network and CNN, as well as shore excursions information, safety information, ship programming and feature movies

Photo of Holland America bed linens and pillows goes here.Non-allergenic pillows (as shown at right*) are standard. Feather pillows available upon request

In addition, enhancements to all suites under the Signature of Excellence program include comfortable duvets on bedsfully-stocked mini-barsVCRs or DVD players with access to well-stocked video/DVD library; personalized stationery; and use of the exclusive concierge Neptune Lounge.


In a recent enhancement, the line has added As You Wish dining, an innovative program that allows guests to choose from either traditional pre-set seating and dining times, or a completely flexible dining schedule. 

One level of the two-tiered restaurant will offer a flexible open dining service from 5:15 to 9 p.m. daily. The other will host two seatings, an early and main seating. The new As You Wish concept is now operational on Noordam; it will roll out on other vessels in a phased process.

All vessels should have the As You Wish dining by mid-2008. For a schedule, check out our Cruise Shorts on the main Holland America page.

Photo of fine dining on Holland America goes here.Dining is an elegant pleasure on Holland America ships with tables set with fine china, linens and crystal. The Indonesian and Filipino staff provide attentive, impeccable service.

Five-course menus are extensive. For example, you might find seared sea scallops or filet mignon among the day's entrees, highlighted by international culinary delights. Guests watching their waistline will also find light selections

Guests above are shown enjoying a fine red wine prior to dinner on a Holland America ship.*

Photo of Pinnacle Grill food goes here.Among our favorites are the Dutch pea soup and the double Dutch chocolate cake (the latter could only be described as positively irresistible!).  

For casual dining, the line's Lido buffet is one of the most extensive at sea with dozens of selections including rotisserie chicken.

You'll even find things you might not expect, such as yogurt for not just breakfast but lunch too. At night, the Lido offers made-to-order dinner entrees and tableside waiter service. 

Not to be missed is the gourmet fare of The Pinnacle Grill alternative restaurant. Its specialties include aged Sterling beef and fresh seafood. The fee is $30 per person for dinner. 

One nicely presented appetizer from the Pinnacle Grill is shown above right.*

Don't miss the hand-made chocolates served in the Explorer's Lounge in the evenings. And, of course, there's 24 hour room service!

Activities and Entertainment

You can do nothing and relax on deck all day. Or, you can join in one of dozens of organized activities scheduled. Among the fun pastimes are an art and antiques tour of each ship's onboard collection, dance lessons, art auctions, bingo, casino gaming, deck games for prizes and more.

Photo of chef in Culinary Arts Center goes here.Enrichment opportunities include demonstrations and seminars conducted by top chefs, wine experts and cookbook authors on select sailings in The Culinary Arts Center

At right, a skilled chef works his magic in the Culinary Arts Center onboard one of the line's ships.*

Ten-day or longer cruises feature a guest speaker who lectures about the culture or geography of the region visited and a bridge director who leads games and provides instruction.

The Explorations Café features a comfortable, living room-style space where guests can sip a cup of coffee, browse through a selection of more than 2,000 books, spend time enjoying a wide selection of music or surf the Internet.      

Nighttime entertainment includes Broadway-style revues and variety shows. Movies are screened in the Queen's Lounge or Wajang Theater, depending on the ship; the line serves free popcorn.  

Throughout the ship, musical entertainment is featured in bars and lounges. A DJ entertains in the nightclub. The crew show presented once during each cruise is a highlight for most guests.

In addition to a full range of tours for cruise guests on port calls, the line has also expanded its shore trips to include private touring options.

Spa and Fitness

Looking for pampering? The Greenhouse Spa, operated by Steiner Leisure, offers a variety of European-style treatments including a menu of massage services, hair and nail care.

Ships with the newest upgrades have a couples' massage room; dry float suite with massage option; thermal suites with hydro-therapy pool, steam and aromatic room;  heated ceramic lounges; a new relaxation area; and a new manicure and pedicure area. 

Photo of Basketball Court goes here.Fitness centers aboard each ship include treadmills, stationary bikes, stair steppers, rowing machines, free weights, and weight machines.

Sports courts may include tennis, volleyball or basketball, depending on the vessel. The fleet's broad teak decks are perfect for walkers and joggers. After exercise, you'll find pools and hot tubs for the perfect respite.

Personal trainers are available for those wanting to set up a fitness program or check progress. Fitness classes include yoga, spinning, Pilates and more; some classes have nominal fees.

Active travelers and families with children enjoy the Holland America sports courts, as shown above left.*

Organized Kids' Programs

Yes. See our story on the Family Fun topic page about cruise lines' Children's Programs.


Tipping Policy:  A tip of $10 per person, per day is posted to your stateroom or suite bill. A 15 gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs.

Photo of Noordam goes here.Fleet

Total Ships in Worldwide Fleet:  13 (including the Noordam shown at right.*)

Another new ship, the Eurodam, will launch in 2008.

Total Ships Embarking from southern U.S. Ports: seven in 2007.


Embarkation Port: Port Everglades
Year Launched: 2000

Passenger Count: 1,380

  • Ten-day roundtrip cruise from Port Everglades, visiting Half Moon Cay (private island); St. Thomas, U.S.V.I; Point-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe; St. George’s, Grenada; Bridgetown, Barbados; and Castries, St. Lucia. Departure is Dec. 11.

Embarkation Port: Fort Lauderdale
Year Launched: 1988 (launched as the Seabourn Sun; became a Holland America ship in 2002)
Passenger Count: 793

  • Twenty-six day "Amazon Explorer" voyage visiting Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos Islands; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Gustavia, St. Barts; Castries, St. Lucia; Kingstown, St. Vincent; Devil's Island, French Guiana; Amazon River; Santarem, Brazil; Boca de Valeria, Brazil; Manaus,Brazil; Parintins, Brazil; Bridgetown, Barbados; St.George's, Grenada; Roseau, Dominica; Philipsburg, St.Maarten; Road Town, Tortola, B.V.I.; Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (private island). Departure is on Nov. 24, 2007

Embarkation Port: Tampa
Year Launched: 1996
Passenger Count: 1,258

  • Seven-day western Caribbean cruises visiting Key West, FL; Belize City, Belize; Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala; Cozumel, Mexico. Departures on Oct. 21 and 28; Nov. 18; and Dec. 9 and 16.
  • Fourteen-day southern Caribbean cruises to San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.; Roseau, Dominica; Bridgetown, Barbados; St. George's, Grenada; El Guamache, Isla de Margarita, Venezuela; Kralendijk, Bonaire; Oranjestad, Aruba; George Town, Grand Cayman. Departures are slated for Nov. 4 and 25.

Embarkation Port: Fort Lauderdale
Year Launched: 1999
Passenger Count: 1,432

  • Photo of diners in the Pinnacle Grill goes here.Ten-Day “Panama Canal Sunfarer” voyage to Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (private island); Oranjestad, Aruba; Willemstad, Curacao; Panama Canal; and Puerto Limon (San Jose), Costa Rica. Departures on Oct. 24; Nov. 3, 13, 23; Dec. 3, 13, 2007.
  • Seven-day eastern Caribbean voyage to Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (private island); San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.; Nassau, Bahamas. Departure is on Oct. 17, 2007.

Diners on a Holland America cruise are shown enjoying the Pinnacle Grill, above right.*

Embarkation Port: Fort Lauderdale
Year Launched: 2004
Passenger Count: 1,848
2007 Itineraries:

  • Four-day Bahamas cruise visiting Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos Islands; Half Moon Cay, Bahamas. Departures: Dec. 9 and 16.
  • Seven-day eastern Caribbean cruises to Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos Islands; Road Town, Tortola, B.V.I.; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (private island). Departures on Oct. 21; Nov. 4 and 18; and Dec. 2.
  • Seven-day western Caribbean cruises to Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (private island); Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos Islands; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico. Departures on March 11 and 18; and Oct. 28 and Nov. 25.
  • Three-day Bahamas cruise to Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (private island); Nassau, Bahamas. Departure on Dec. 20.
  • Seven-day southern Caribbean voyages to Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (private island); Oranjestad, Aruba; Willemstad, Curacao. Departures on March 25 and Nov. 11, 2007.
    Three-day Bahamas cruise to Nassau, Bahamas; Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (private island). Departure on Dec. 13, 2007.

Photo of Zuiderdam goes here.Zuiderdam (shown in the photo at right*)
Embarkation Port: Fort Lauderdale
Year Launched: 2002
Passenger Count: 1,848

  • Seven-day eastern Caribbean voyages to Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos Islands; Road Town, Tortola, B.V.I.; St. Thomas, U.S.V.; Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (private island). Departures on Oct. 20 and 27; Nov. 3, 10, 17 and 24; and Dec. 1, 8 and 15.

Embarkation Port: Fort Lauderdale
Launch Date: 1993
Passenger Count: 1,258

  • Ten-day “Southern Caribbean Seafarer” cruises to Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (private island); St.Thomas,U.S. Virgin Islands; Roseau, Dominica; Willemstad, Curacao; Oranjestad, Aruba. Departures on Oct. 20 and Nov. 9 and 29.
  • Ten-day “Southern Caribbean Wayfarer” voyages to Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Castries, St. Lucia; Bridgetown, Barbados; Fort-de-France, Martinique; Road Town, Tortola, B.V.I.; Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (private island). Departures on Oct. 30, Nov. 19 and Dec. 9, 2007.

For More Information 

Photo of Bvlgari China goes here.Holland America Line

300 Elliott Avenue West, Seattle WA, 98119.

Main Office Phone: 877-724-5425

Reservations Phone: 877-724-5425

Web: www.hollandamerica.com

Guests sailing on Holland America's ships will dine on fine Bvlgari China as shown above right.*

Georgina Cruz writes, along with her husband, Humberto Cruz, a weekly nationally-syndicated column, Retire Smart, often dealing with touring and cruising topics. Her travel articles have appeared in more than four dozen regional, national and international publications and she is the author of a guidebook on cruises.

*Photos are owned, copyrighted and used courtesy of Holland America Line. All rights reserved. Do not link to nor copy these photos. Thank you.


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