Catching Up With Holland America Line

A new feature we are working on here at ChrisCruises gives readers the ability to find information easier, specific to what they are interested in.  Hover over “Oceans” above and a menu of cruise lines we have written about appears, letting you select any of more than a dozen lines.  It’s a work in progress as we sort through over 3,000 posts going back ten years but one glaring error that came to our attention: we have not talked about Holland America Line since January.  Correcting that mistake, we take a stab at updating information on Holland America Line today.

To our credit I suppose, Holland America Line does maintain a pretty low profile. Staying under the radar and going about their business of providing an excellent cruise travel experience without flashy top-deck features, or an abundance of branded venues, Holland America Line does a good job and has a rabidly loyal past guest following.

Last sailing with HAL for their Dancing With The Stars At Sea Champion’s Cruise in January (more on that below), we tagged the line as unique for a variety of reasons ranging from having available a daily Catholic mass to  a rich selection of shore excursions. But let’s back it up a bit to when and where Holland America Line started.

Stars Perform - 09

An Interesting History
When we think of transatlantic sailings, history and the new world, Cunard Line gets a lot of attention and still sails regularly scheduled itineraries back and forth, across the Atlantic.  But Cunard Line did not have a corner on that market.  Founded in 1873 as the Nederlandsch-Amerikaansche Stoomvaart Maatschappij (the Netherlands-America Steamship Company), Holland America Line began as a shipping and passenger line,  headquartered Holland-Amerika_Lijn_1898in the Netherlands, providing service to the Americas. The company’s first ship sailed its 15-day maiden voyage from the Netherlands to New York City on October 15, 1872 and was appropriately named Rotterdam. During the first 25 years the company carried 400,000 people from Europe to the Americas.

Holland America Line’s history has some interesting highlights

  • The original 36-ton SS Nieuw Amsterdam of 1937, (not to be confused with the Nieuw Amsterdam we sailed this year) and the RMS Queen Mary were the only two liners built in the 1930s to make a profit.
  • During World War II, the Holland America Line fleet numbered 25 ships with nine remained at war’s end.  The Nieuw Amsterdam sailed half a million miles transporting 400,000 military personnel.
  • After the war, Holland America Line helped transport a wave of immigrants from the Netherlands to Canada and elsewhere.

Fast forward to 1989 and Holland America Line becomes part of Carnival Corporation, eventually leading to their Signature of Excellence enhancement program, spending over $500 million fleetwide to refocus the line’s onboard programming for today’s cruise traveler.  Notable elements added to the Holland America Line experience include

  • The Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine, a state-of-the-art onboard show kitchen providing cooking demonstrations and classes
  • Explorations Café powered by The New York Times,
  • Digital Workshop powered by Windows
  • Upgrades to hardware including the addition of teens-only activity areas and new stateroom amenities highlighted by flat-panel TVs and plush Euro-top Mariner’s Dream Beds.

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Looking To The Future- A New Ship
Holland America Line recently celebrated the keel laying of its new 2,650-guest Pinnacle Class ship at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard in Italy. The yet-named 99,500-gross-ton ship is scheduled for delivery in February 2016.  Staying true to its heritage, the ship will showcase decors by leading hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany, based in New York City, and designer and architect Bjorn Storbraaten, based in Oslo, Norway.

“The keel laying of our new Pinnacle Class vessel heightens the anticipation for delivery because very soon we’ll see the ship begin to take shape,” said Stein Kruse, president and CEO of Holland America Line at the time. “As the largest ship ever built for Holland America Line, the vessel features many innovations and new features, and we’re excited to see it all come together over the next year and a half.”

Holland America Line

Looking To The Future- Back to Bermuda in 2015
Holland America Line is returning to the pink sands and pastel-colored skyline of Bermuda on seven-day cruises aboard ms Veendam. Sailing roundtrip from Boston, Mass., six departures will sail in May, June and July, and feature three days and nights at Hamilton, the country’s capital known for its gorgeous beaches and abundance of golf courses.

Carrying just 1,350 guests, Veendam offers an ideal mid-size ship experience in Bermuda that enables the vessel to dock at Hamilton in the center of town. The seven-day voyages spend a day at sea after departing Boston and arrive at Hamilton mid-day with enough time for guests to go ashore and enjoy the town. The ship then spends three nights alongside, where guests can experience local nightlife and dine ashore, if desired. Veendam departs Bermuda in the afternoon of the final day in Hamilton, with a day at sea before arriving back at Boston.

“We know our guests will be excited to see us cruise again to Bermuda in 2015,” said Richard Meadows, Holland America Line’s executive vice president of sales, marketing and guest relations. “By extending the call to three nights, guests can have extensive time to experience the island while still enjoying the award-wining service and amenities that Holland America Line is known for.”

Nieuw Amsterdam - 01

Looking To The Future- 2015 World Voyage
When ms Amsterdam departs Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Jan. 5, 2015, the cruise will span 114 days and call at 45 ports in 25 countries on six continents. Offering a refined and elegant “home away from home,” Amsterdamguests will enjoy gracious service, superior amenities and many special Grand Voyage experiences.

For guests who have less time on their hands, eight segments ranging in length from 22 to 57 days are available from departure ports along the route. Highlights of the roundtrip Fort Lauderdale journey include 11 overnight calls in some of the world’s most exciting cities, transits of the Panama and Suez canals, crossing the equator and International Date Line, visits to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, evening theme balls, local entertainment and a host of other activities.

“A Grand World Voyage with Holland America Line is an experience of a lifetime with a unique way of showcasing each region both onboard and ashore,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs for Holland America Line. “For any destination collector, a journey around the world is the pinnacle in travel, and this cruise truly is the grandest of the Grand Voyages.”


Holland America Line Today:
Holland America Line offers more than 500 cruises, stopping at over 400 ports on one- to 110-day itineraries that visit all seven continents and highlights include Antarctica, South America, Australia/New Zealand and Asia voyages; four annual Grand World Voyage; and popular sailings to ports in the Caribbean, Alaska, Mexico, Canada/New England, Europe and Panama Canal. Find Holland America Line on TwitterFacebook and the Holland America Blog. Access all social media outlets via the Online Communitiesquick link on the home page at

What do Holland America ships have to offer today’s cruise traveler?  This CruiseCurrents video gives us an idea:

Oh, and about that Dancing With The Stars:At Sea element?  

The sailing we were on featured 15 winning guests, one from each ship in the Holland America fleet, as well as a number of celebrities from the entertainment world. The winners were selected from among the winning guests who had competed in the shipboard dancing competitions throughout the year.  Here is a list of our coverage from that event:

Preview Information-

Live Posts During The Event-

Post-Event Associated Posts-

Facebook Photo Albums-

Pinterest Dance Cruise Boards-

Flickr Photo Sets-