Updated August 21, 2018
With its reputation for offering a classic cruise experience (and a clientele that skews slightly older -- average age is 55), you're unlikely to encounter beer pong games or hairy chest contests on Holland America sailings. But the line offers its own brand of signature features that its passengers love.
Here's a look at some experiences that make HAL special:
1. Themed Afternoon Teas
Yes, they're an excuse to squeeze yet another meal into the day, but Holland America's themed afternoon teas are also a mini cultural experience.
Particularly popular is the weekly Indonesian Tea (cue the gamelan music), featuring traditional treats like fried banana, coconut crepes and rice-coconut balls. Many people don't realize that modern Indonesia was once the Dutch East Indies, and Indonesian cuisine is extremely popular in the Netherlands, where HAL can trace its roots.
Expect Dutch sweets and savories like almond cookies and sausage rolls at the ship's Dutch Royal Tea. The Cupcake Tea -- very popular with those grandparents bringing their grandchildren -- offers up a festive array of iced treats in all flavors, including mini red velvet bites. For non-tea drinkers, creamy milkshakes are served.
2. B.B. King's Blues Club
By day, the Queen's Lounge on HAL's Vista-class and Signature-class ships hosts a live cooking show, religious services and occasional movies. On most nights, the space gets its groove on when the B.B. King's Blues Club All-Star Band commandeers the stage for three performances of high-energy funk, soul, rock 'n' roll and, of course, blues.
The blues clubs are on HAL's four Vista-class ships (Oosterdam, Westerdam, Zuiderdam and Noordam) plus Eurodam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Holland America's newest ship, Konigsdam. Nieuw Statendam will have the venue when it debuts in December 2018.
3. Free New York Times
News junkies don't have to go cold turkey even on sea days, thanks to the line's partnership with the New York Times. The publication's electronic edition is offered for free via computers in the ships' Explorations Cafe.
The space also has an extensive library, a cafe serving specialty coffees and teas and plenty of comfortable lounge chairs to read your Kindle or a book.
4. A Rotating Cast of Celebrity Chefs
On most nights, menus in the main dining rooms highlight recipes from one of six chefs comprising HAL's Culinary Council. On an Alaska sailing onboard Noordam, Elizabeth Falkner's shrimp andouille with polenta was a hit.
Also in the lineup of international contributors: Jacques Torres, Jonnie Boer, David Burke and HAL master chef, Rudi Sodamin.
5. Dutch Pea Soup
Pea soup served alfresco in cold-weather spots, is a long-time tradition on the Dutch-flagged line. Expect steamy mugs of pea soup served on deck while touring Glacier Bay, Alaska, the Norwegian Fjords or other cold and scenic spots.