7 reasons Holland America is one of my favorite cruise lines
It’s so interesting to see how your tastes change over time. My first time on a Holland America cruise was when my husband and I got married for the first time and while we enjoyed the cruise back then we were like ‘wow! It’s really an older crowd. Most recently, we took a Holland America cruise to Alaska, and now that we’re in our 50s, we felt great. I enjoyed Carnival in my 20s and a Disney cruise was fine when our kids were younger. Now that I’m older, many of the bells and whistles, like water slides, on many cruise lines are just not what I’m looking for. Here are the reasons I love Holland America.
1. Vessel size
Holland America offers spacious mid-size vessels that carry no more than 2,700 guests. This creates a more intimate cruising experience. They are neither too big nor too small. At less than 1000 feet, ships have more options for ports than larger ships. It is easier to find your way around the ship. I never felt like I had to wait for anything on the ship and midsize ships rarely have lines. I also like that they look more like a historic liner than a big box. The classic lines of the ships only add to the timeless elegance of traditional ocean voyages.
2. Incumbent operators at Glacier Bay
I will never forget the Glacier Bay cruise with the ship stopping at a glacier and then turning 360 degrees so everyone can see this huge glacier. It was a highlight of my trip to Alaska. I spent 9 hours cruising the crystal clear waters and listening to the National Park Service (NPS) ranger who boarded the ship early in the day. I saw whales breaching, otters and seals floating beside the ship, and felt the sound of the glaciers calving. It was an incredible experience. There is a total of 153 days of use to navigate Glacier Bay with only two ships per day. Holland America is one of two cruise lines that are incumbent operators under the Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act and generally the NPS awards cruise lines 71 days of use. . He can also compete for the remaining days of use. This means more options for you to visit Glacier Bay on your Alaska cruise.
3. Luxury at affordable prices
If you can’t afford a luxury cruise like Seabourn, Viking, or Regent, Holland America is a good option at a more reasonable price. You will find many of the amenities that are found on high end cruise lines at a much lower cost. Indulgent touches include luxurious beds and linens, Egyptian cotton towels, and comfy bathrobes found in upscale hotels. Impeccable service is due to nearly one crew member for every two guests. Free room service is available even for the lowest cabin category. Food and wine aboard Holland America ships can rival the biggest luxury cruise lines. (See more in food and wine).
4. Food and wine
Dining on a Holland America Cruise is fabulous thanks to Holland America Line’s Culinary Advice. It includes an elite team of seven world-renowned chefs who bring global influence and expertise to cruise line menu planning. Each has diverse culinary interests that inspire the signature dishes. On board is a talented executive chef who is a member of the prestigious Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, an international food and wine company. On board, you’ll find everything from casual poolside dining to stylish specialty restaurants. Much of the cuisine is regionally inspired.
Specialty restaurants on board come at an additional cost which is well worth it. I still remember having dinner at Pinnacle Grill, a steakhouse. It ranked among the best steakhouses I have eaten on shore. The service was impeccable and the 28 day USDA Prime steaks were almost fork tender. David Burke, an award-winning James Beard chef, as well as a member of Holland America’s Culinary Council, has created innovative recipes that improve the quality of the ingredients. Imagine a fillet of beef nicely served with lobster balls and celeriac purée with a lobster bearnaise and a Bordeaux horseradish sauce. The Pinnacle Grill is a more intimate setting and, combined with beautifully prepared and exquisitely prepared food, made this a very memorable meal and one that I will repeat on my next cruise.
Wine lovers can enhance their education and enrich their trip with an extensive wine list carefully curated by world-renowned wine critic James Suckling, Curator of Wine for Holland America. He has over 30 years of experience and has created James Suckling’s guide to great wines, which is available across the fleet. He hand-selects only wines that have scored 90 points or more and a few perfect wines with 100 points. You can choose from a wide range of champagnes, rosés, reds and whites.
I like that there are plenty of opportunities on board for cooking demonstrations and tastings. Plus, on every voyage Holland America takes a guest chef on board to help you learn about the culinary traditions of the ports you’ll sail to. Attend a food and wine tasting or gastronomic event (for a fee) to learn about local cuisine. Guest chefs will also lead culinary tours through local markets. Imagine shopping for French pastries in Tahiti or heading out into the Thai countryside in search of the best Pad Thai.
5. Multi-million dollar art collection on each ship
I love art and beautiful interior design that is more elegant than the Las Vegas style on many cruise lines. Holland America delivers with stunning and sophisticated interiors adorned with an art collection curated on every ship. Rotterdam, the newest ship in the fleet, has an art collection valued at over $ 4.1 million. It is organized by YSA Design, based in Oslo, and ArtLink, based in London, in partnership with hotel design studio Tihany Design. With 2,645 works valued between $ 500 and $ 620,000, it is practically a museum at sea. I like the diversity of the collection which represents 37 nationalities among the artists.
6. Catholic Mass
For practicing Catholics, having a priest on board for church services is a plus. Unlike many Christian denominations, we are required to attend Mass on Sunday. This often comes into my decision-making process for planning a vacation. Holland America is the only cruise line (other cruise lines have a priest for vacations or special cruises) to have a Catholic priest on board each ship for daily and Sunday services. This is a plus for Catholic crew members who are away from home for months.
7. COVID-19 protocols
Although I haven’t sailed since the start of the pandemic, Holland America has put in place various procedures that will make me feel safe again. First, all guests must be fully immunized and provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours of departure. If a test is needed to get home, Holland America will provide one free of charge. Public spaces and cabins are cleaned and disinfected frequently with a medical grade disinfectant proven to kill coronaviruses. Staff are always masked, and guests are required to wear masks in certain interior areas of the ship. Frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer are encouraged and stations are available around the ship.
Air handling systems on board all ships now feature improved air filtration that combines an improved system with increased circulation of fresh air. Award-winning medical centers on board are fully staffed with doctors and nurses trained to deal with COVID-19. They are also equipped with testing and processing capabilities if needed. The company continuously reviews all local health and safety guidelines for any ports the ship may visit. Depending on the country, you may need to take a shore excursion provided by Holland America to get ashore.
If you are thinking of booking a Holland America cruise, the line serves 14 unique destinations and over 473 ports. You can travel from as little as a day to a 128-day Great World Voyage that takes you around the world. The company’s most recent vessel, the Rotterdam, Expected to sail the Caribbean this winter, a Panama Canal cruise in March 2022 from Fort Lauderdale and across Europe from spring 2022 from Amsterdam. There are also repositioning cruises.
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