4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
Holland America Line's history dates back to 1873, but today the line is as modern as the rest of the industry and it's "dam" ships explore all corners of the world, with an emphasis on longer itineraries and a traditional onboard experience. It is particularly well-known for its presence in Alaska, where it has been operating for more than 50 years.
Holland America cruisers usually run 55 or older and are evenly split between being retired and employed -- the longer the cruise, the older the demographic and the more retired passengers there are. HAL passengers prioritize travel, and most are experienced cruisers. They tend to be foodies and music-lovers (two things for which HAL prides itself), and most are from the U.S. and Canada, though about a fifth of the passengers are international, with the U.K. and Australia at the top of the list.
During the summer and holiday periods, the average age onboard does come down as families, particularly multigenerational groups that include the grandparents and grandkids, take to the ships.
Not during the day, but most Holland America evenings are designated as smart-casual, so swimsuits, flip-flops, shorts and tank tops are not permitted in any of the restaurants. The line does have more formal evenings (how many depends on how long a sailing you're on) called Gala Nights calling for gala attire. Men usually show up in suits and ties (or jackets and no ties, especially in the Caribbean); women usually opt for cocktail dresses or gowns.
Passengers onboard Holland America ships love the line's dedication to traditional cruise activities, including afternoon tea and ballroom dancing, but they also flock to the line's newer options. In particular, the line's live music offerings, including BB King's Blues Club, Billboard Onboard, Rolling Stone Rock Room and Lincoln Center Stage, draw a crowd most nights, while the line's America's Test Kitchen demonstrations are usually standing room only. Culinary classes (including some specifically for kids), wine tastings and blendings (on select ships only), and computer classes fill up quickly.
Just as popular for many Holland America passengers is relaxing in the line's top-deck Crow's Nest. You'll often find people up there reading a book, putting together a jigsaw puzzle or playing cards or board games.
No. Your cruise fare includes meals in the Main Dining Room, Lido buffet restaurant, the outdoor Terrace Grill and 24-hour room service; the extensive youth program, Club HAL, is complimentary until 10 p.m. every day. Additionally, access to the fitness center, and most culinary lessons and enrichment lectures, movies, Vegas-style production shows and live music are complimentary.
What will cost you extra is all drinks beyond water, tea, basic coffee and some juices; all specialty restaurants; most fitness classes; spa and salon services; shore excursions; gratuities; laundry and purchases from any of the onboard shops.
Passengers cruising in suites get a host of extra privileges and may find that some of the extra-fee options are provided complimentarily.