Holland America Line
Holland America Line attracts scores of devoted fans who love the grown-up-focused experience on board. Entertainment centers on what a mainstream, slightly older crowd would enjoy: The line has hosted “Dancing With the Stars” celebrities and musicians straight from B.B. King’s nightclub in Memphis, Tennessee, and a partnership with Manhattan’s Lincoln Center brings classical musicians on board the line’s newest ship, Koningsdam. Passengers appreciate the little extras, too, from complimentary hot appetizers during the very much observed predinner cocktail hour — at bars all over the ship — to free tote bags for all passengers.
What We Love
Celebrity Chefs in the House: Holland America has gathered a who’s who of celebrity chefs to guide its onboard dining experience — including David Burke and Elizabeth Falkner. The onboard Culinary Arts Center teaches lessons in a full demonstration kitchen, often by guest chefs, and on Koningsdam the dedicated space also grows its own sprouts. In addition, once per sailing, several ships offer pop-up restaurants celebrating world-renowned land-based restaurants with homage dinners.
Pacific Northwest Touches: The Seattle-based line has partnered with Washington’s Chateau Ste. Michelle winery on a blending experience on Koningsdam, and guests can combine reds in whatever percentages they like to create their own custom bottle. In addition, you’ll find Alaskan king salmon and Dungeness crab cakes on the Pinnacle Grill steakhouse menus.
Best Known For
Alaska Expertise: Holland America Line has half a dozen ships in Alaska in the summertime, offering a variety of sailings of different lengths out of different embarkation ports as well as in-depth land-and-sea packages with train trips that offer time in Denali National Park and the Yukon at park-based lodges.
Elegant Ships: Home to comfortable furnishings, elaborate flower arrangements, and Old World art, these vessels take you around the world in traditional yet polished style.
The Best Private Island: For powdery white sand and clear turquoise water, you can’t beat the beaches on Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas.
Dutch Heritage: These ships have a tendency to acknowledge the line’s history, with on-deck celebrations of King’s Day (the national festivity for the king of the Netherlands’ birthday). On Koningsdam, there’s also the blue-and-white, Delft-inspired Grand Dutch Café, which serves everything from apple pancakes at breakfast to bitterballen at lunch and dinner, with no extra charge. (You can also buy salted black licorice here, for a fee.)
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Who It's Best For
Adult Couples: The sophisticated ambience and quiet elegance on these ships appeals to an older crowd, and the median age goes up as the sailings get longer or more far-flung.
Solo Travelers: Holland America’s Single Partners Program hosts get-togethers early in the cruise, brings aboard social hosts as dance partners, and will even match you up with a roommate to avoid the dreaded single supplements.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Whether or Not There Are Kids Depends on the Sailing: Club HAL provides an array of children’s activities year-round, including cooking classes, a junior ranger program in Alaska, and scavenger hunts. However, in the summertime, the number of small passengers swells on these ships, whereas at other times of the year the atmosphere is decidedly quiet and adult.
Get to Shows Early: The popular B.B. King’s Blues Club performances, for example, are packed, so don’t dawdle if you want a good seat.
Theresa Norton Masek is a Chicago-based contributor to ShermansCruise and a longtime cruise writer.
Sherri Eisenberg is the New York City-based editorial director of ShermansCruise.com.