Holland America Line Update

by Margaret Backenheimer and J.D. Brown

Mar 1, 2018
Cruising

HOLLAND AMERICA LINE IS, by many measures, a large cruise operator, with 14 ships calling on more than 400 ports and all seven continents. Yet its fleet consists solely of medium-sized vessels, each classically designed with sleek, navy-blue hulls evoking the golden age of ocean liners. Holland America resisted adding mega-ships to its line, favoring smaller, tradition-laden vessels while discretely incorporating modern perks and luxury appointments along the way. There are no climbing walls, water slides or amusement park rides on board, but Holland America passengers can expect exceptional afternoon teas and, in colder waters, hearty mugs of pea soup served on deck.

The pea soup is a playful nod to Holland America’s Dutch origins, dating back to 1873. Although Holland America Line is now owned by Carnival and headquartered in Seattle, many crew members are graduates of the line’s own training school in Indonesia (the former Dutch East Indies).

Although anchored to maritime traditions, Holland America sails with the times. This year America’s Test Kitchen goes fleet-wide, offering cooking shows and hands-on workshops run by its TV stars. Passengers can also now consult with experts before booking shore excursions in the shiny new topdeck coffeehouse/internet café known as Explorations Central, or EXC. And, after dark, Holland America’s Music Walk lights up with chamber music conducted on the Lincoln Center Stage, chart-topping bands rocking the night away at Billboard Onboard, and groups in the groove performing at B.B. King’s Blues Club.

Holland America Line’s newest and largest ship, the 2,650-passenger ms Koningsdam, takes an even bolder track into the future with facilities and programs designed to appeal to the rising tide of younger travelers and families. The ship’s theater is equipped with a 270-degree LED screen; the Lido Pool operates its own movie screen; and several innovative dining venues take the spotlight, including the up-to-date Culinary Arts Center’s farm-to-table show kitchen. Meanwhile, Holland America’s wide choice of spacious staterooms widens even further on the ms Koningsdam to include spa cabins, singles’ cabins and family staterooms (sleeping up to five, with extra closet space and two separate bathrooms).

By combining a classic maritime atmosphere with contemporary cruising trends, Holland America can treat its passengers to the quintessential premium cruise experience. This is especially evident in Alaska, where Holland America remains the industry leader, devoting fully half its fleet to more than 130 voyages each summer and, as owner of the Westmark Hotels chain in Alaska, offering passengers a seamless way to combine land and sea journeys that encompass America’s last frontier.

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