Tag Archives: Caribbean

With Get Up & Go savings, you can choose a cruise that features sea days, ports days or both!
With Get Up & Go savings, you can choose a cruise that features sea days, ports days or both!

Cruising is all about choice, and that’s one of the many reasons people choose cruising as their favorite type of vacation. Are quaint destinations on your bucket list or do you prefer visiting the popular, must-do cities? Outside stateroom or suite? Longer voyages or a weeklong getaway? Do you want an itinerary that is port-intensive or one that has an abundance of relaxing days at sea?

With Holland America Line’s weeklong “Get Up & Go!” promotion that runs Oct. 7 through Oct. 14, we’re giving you more choices to plan that last-minute cruise vacation in 2015. Details are down below, so after you read the perks of choosing an itinerary with more sea days, ports days or a perfect combination of both, choose your cruise and set sail this November or December to a variety of destinations!

We asked our Facebook fans to tell us which they enjoy more: sea days or port days. And it came as no surprise that the overwhelming choice is … both! Guests love the leisurely days at sea where they can unwind and take advantage of the ships’ amenities, while port days reveal exciting new adventures and bring foreign cultures to life.


Days at sea open the door for a variety of possibilities and provide a little extra time to do everything and anything. Do you want to sit back, relax and let the world sail by? Find a cozy chair on deck, curl up with a good book and breathe in the incredible sea air. For a bit of pampering, indulge in a treatment at the Greenhouse Spa. If it’s knowledge you seek, visit the Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine for a cooking demonstration by a world-renowned chef, learn how to share your cruise photos at a Digital Workshop powered by Windows, attend a lecture or get ready for your next port of call by participating in an On Location event. The day is yours to embrace, so you can fill it with as many or as few activities that you wish.

Here’s why some of our fans prefer the sea days:

I love sea days the best!!! While enjoying ports is great, nothing is better than the “cruise” experience itself. 28-day cruise and only 7 ports was one of my favorite cruises. In other words, I don’t care where it’s going, just get me on the ship!!!! — Paula C.

I love sea days because they are so relaxing and that’s why I take a cruise-to simply relax. — Mike Pam W.

Days at sea because there is never a dull moment with Holland America. — Mary H.

I love the days at sea! You get to enjoy all the fun things to do on the ship and you don’t feel like you have to miss anything to do it! — Alicia S.

Whatever you choose to do on sea days, there are plenty of activities to fill your time.

Whatever you choose to do on sea days, there are plenty of activities to fill your time.

At sea, so relaxing, peaceful, stress free and serine. — Rebecca M.

We prefer sea days. All I need is a good book, an adult beverage and a comfy chair and I’m a happy sailor! — Suzanne M.

I enjoy the enriching days at sea. I am usually sailing to rest up, read some books that I enjoy, hit the gym & get a little sun. I enjoy the meals in the main dining area & meeting folks I am sailing with. I go up to the observation deck, grab a tazo tea & doze off if the mood hits me. I go ashore for some of the excursions if there is something I would enjoy seeing or doing. The sunset sail off Aruba was beautiful & the crew were great. Looking forward to my next cruise in 2017 on the Koningdam. — Donna R M.

I love doing transatlantic cruises … just being able to relax on board the ship is my idea of a great vacation. — Pam H.


Cruising is the easiest, most economical way to see the world. You travel from port to port, country to country, and only unpack one time. Dining, entertainment, enrichment activities are all included. All you have to do is bring your passport!

Holland America Line explores the world. From the tip of the Arctic to the depths of Argentina, from Australia to the Caribbean, there truly is a cruise for everyone. If you want a more laid-back experience, a Caribbean cruise is a great choice. If it’s culture and knowledge you seek, a trip to Europe is a must. Enjoy the exotic? Perhaps Asia is for you. Great food, wine, gorgeous landscapes and cuddly creatures on your checklist? Then book a cruise that heads Down Under to Australia. And scenic beauty is found all over the world, but it’s especially abundant in Antarctica, New Zealand and the Chilean fjords.

Here’s why our fans prefer days in port:

I love seeing new things on shore! Such a great way to travel and not have to unpack each day and travel by bus to another locale. — Melinda R.

I love port days. I want to see as much of different countries as I can. I love to travel. — Sue P.

Port days because you get to see a taste of the country and city to see if this would be a land trip in the future. — Susan C.

Port days bring new cultures to life and allow time for taking a shore excursion.

Port days bring new cultures to life and allow time for taking a shore excursion.

Port days! Hands-down. Heading back out to sea before sunset is definitely a perk, but I love spending my days checking out other corners of the world. — Kimberly L.

Guest Terry W. love port days for a different reason than most: “Almost everyone gets off and we stay onboard and have the ship mostly to ourselves.”

Port days! I love seeing new places & meeting new people- new cultures. Sea days are for recovery & watching the water go by. — Ann T.

I like exciting adventures ashore. I like seeing and sampling the culture of other places. — Julia M.

I really enjoy going ashore any doing whatever even sightseeing is nice, but we always pick at least one adventure also. — Larry C.

Love to visit new places and learn about new cultures, then come back to the ship to look at the pictures and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere. — Jacquelyn O.


Many of our cruises provide the prefect balance of sea days and port days. A lot of travelers love to have time onboard to experience the ships because they are destinations unto themselves. And sea days also are the ideal time to recharge from busy days ashore. Then there’s time in port exploring the different cultures. The Sip, Savor, Sail cruises are a great choice if you want the best of both worlds. Each voyage features a local celebrity guest chef onboard and guests can attend cooking demos that showcase regional dishes. Then it’s time to go ashore and explore their cultures to see where they draw their inspirations from.

From cuisine to the history, beaches to glaciers, monuments and museums, seeing new places and meeting new people are the reason we travel.

Here’s why our fans love a balance of sea and port days:

Port days are like food for thought! Sea days are like balsam for soul! Just my La Opinion. — Thomas F.

I cruise because I can have both in one vacation — days to explore new places and days to relax and recharge! — Beverly Druga L.

Oh … what would one be without the other … a land trip!!! — Fran A.

Every day is a perfect day because on the ship you can sunbathe, relax, party, whatever you wish to do then when on port you can go for a walk around wherever you arrive at or go off on a trip so you see a cruise is the perfect holiday blend for every one. — Alan R.

From Europe to Asia, Holland America Line covers all corners of the globe.

From Europe to Asia, Holland America Line covers all corners of the globe.

We love both actually. The relaxation of the ship and the finding of the adventures of the shore excursions. What a life… — Patricia D.

I like mostly port days, with a few sea days to catch my breath. On our recent Baltic cruise we had sea days on days 3 & 10 of a 12-day cruise. It was perfect. — Journeys & Jaunts

Nice to have time to enjoy some on board activities. There’s been times I’ve had to miss out on something on board to do a shore excursion! Too many choices! — Betty A.

Holland America Line does a wonderful mix of both so you don’t have to choose one or the other. — Addie O.

We love both for different reasons! Port days are fun and exciting, but then we need the sea days to relax and enjoy the ship! — Diana H.

We love all days because we rarely leave the ship, we love to just cruise, read, meet for games, sit on our balcony, see nature that has as little of a human footprint as possible, and if we do leave the ship it’s for a very special tour, private fishing in a remote river, or golf in Ushuaia, wine tasting … thanks HAL for great trips. Oh and on shore days when everyone leaves the ship it’s spa time at discounted rates and we have a private ship to ourselves… — Ellen W.

Holland America provide the best of both worlds! Loved the activities and classes available as well as taking advantage of exploring off the ship. — Sandy Ken S.

I used to love cruises with a lot of ports. Now getting older I enjoy seadays more than ever. Quiet, peaceful and relaxing. — Miezers G.

Love the port days in the Med. Really enjoy the sea days on a transatlantic cruise attending great lectures and meeting people. — Patty R.

I love both, especially when the “at sea” days fall in-between the port days. — Judy K.

Both do have their merits. We try to do a combination of them. (One cruise we booked an excursion every port – wasn’t a good idea for us.) It’s lovely to have the ship be quiet while every one’s in port. Almost like having it to yourself. At sea days, amazing – especially in Alaska. From our veranda we could see the most amazing scenery I’ve ever witnessed. Absolutely breathtaking! — Barbara T.

Starting tomorrow through Oct. 14, Holland America Line is featuring a weeklong Get Up & Go! sale on select cruises in October, November and December 2015, including Holiday sailings. Starting at just $399 per person, you can enjoy an incredible vacation in Europe or the Caribbean. Cruises to Mexico, South America, Australia and Asia also are included in the promotion, so you can choose the ideal destination for your holiday. And, if you book an interior cabin, you can upgrade to an ocean-view for just $100. Select sailings also feature onboard credits up to $400 per stateroom. And a 20 percent discount on airfare helps make the journey all the more affordable.

Upgrade to an outside cabin for $100! And all staterooms and suites receive onboard credits.

Upgrade to an outside cabin for $100! And all staterooms and suites receive onboard credits.

Which do you prefer – port days or sea days? And will you Get Up & Go this October, November or December? Tell us below!

A Panama Canal cruise is an incredible journey.
A Panama Canal cruise is an incredible journey.

The Panama Canal is an incredible man-made marvel that can be uniquely experienced on a Holland America Line cruise. If it’s not on your bucket list, it should be! There’s an incredible wave of awe that comes over every cruiser transiting the lakes and locks of this spectacle that made the list of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. And the region is beautifully lush, making it a picture-perfect vacation.

The only way to fully experience the Panama Canal is on a cruise. In fact, it’s the best way to experience any destination! No other vacation is as convenient, pampering and exciting … all at the same time. On a cruise you unpack one time, yet you get to visit many ports and countries. And with dining, entertainment, enrichment and so much more included, there’s no better value!

Holland America Line features diverse and extensive cruises to the Panama Canal, from full transits that reposition a ship from one destination to another, to the roundtrip Fort Lauderdale, Florida, series of cruises that enter part of the canal but don’t fully transit.

Here’s a list of the seven pros of a Panama Canal cruise:

The days of having to go around Cape Horn at the tip of South America to get from Atlantic to Pacific — or vice versa — are long gone. Now ships can easily move from ocean to ocean, cutting 8,000 miles off the journey. And with the expansion well under way, larger vessels will soon be able to make the 48-mile journey. Ships often make the full transit on repositioning cruises in the fall and spring that take them from one cruising destination to another. Unlike many repositioning cruises, a Panama Canal transit includes a lot of scenic cruising and many ports of call, making it the ideal way to get from one season to the next.


If You Want To Go:
If you want to get away for the winter holidays and transit the entire Panama Canal, Amsterdam’s 18-Day Holiday Cruise from San Diego, California, to Fort Lauderdale is an incredible way to celebrate Christmas and ring in the New Year! Departing Dec. 18, 2015, the voyage calls at ports in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Aruba, Curaçao and Half Moon Cay.

It’s called one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World for a reason. The Panama Canal is a series of locks that raise and lower a ship to different sea levels. It took 33 years to complete the project, which was started by France 1881. The United States took over the project in 1904, and the Panama Canal was officially opened Aug. 15, 1914.

Graphic from panamaliving.com.

Graphic from panamaliving.com.

Onboard, guests will learn facts like this and more about the history of the canal and the art, culture and wildlife of the region through our Exploration Speaker Series that brings on Panama Canal experts.

Our “On Location” Guide Lisa presented a fantastic slide show of what we would see on our transit. Her talk was so comprehensive that we discovered a few things to see that we hadn’t spotted on our previous crossings. And we looked for them on this transit. — Sharon J.

If You Want To Go:
Are you looking for a special way to celebrate the New Year? Join Veendam on a 14-day Panama Canal cruise and see the wonder for yourself. Departing Jan. 3, 2016, the voyage from San Diego to Tampa, Florida, gives guests an up-close view of the inner-workings of the canal.

The Panama Canal is a lush gateway lined with emerald-hued flora and an abundance of colorful fauna. Standing on deck as you traverse the canal is sensory overload, with beautiful sites around every corner. Be sure to have your camera on hand.


Absolutely loved our trip from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego through the Panama Canal years ago. Amazing scenery… — Guest Fiona B.

If You Want To Go:
If you think one cruise isn’t enough, Maasdam is sailing back-to-back transits departing March 1, 2016, from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego, and back to Fort Lauderdale departing March 15. The two cruises have non-repeating ports in Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Colombia and the Caribbean, making it the perfect Collectors’ Voyage for guests who want an immersive Panama Canal experience.

The Panama Canal is made up of three locks: Gatun, Pedro Miguel and Miraflores. On average, it takes a ship eight to 10 hours to pass through the canal. While moving through it, the system of locks raises each ship 85 feet above sea level.

Moving through the Panama Canal locks. Photo by Captain Mercer.

Moving through the Panama Canal locks. Photo by Captain Mercer.

Bright Hub Engineering did a great job explaining how ships move through the locks:

• The ship approaches the lock gates at a reduced speed.
• The “pilot” boards the ship and he instructs the ships speed and direction.
• The ship enters the lock gates, which is narrow when compared to the size of the ship.
• The lock gates are then closed, enclosing the ship inside. To lift up the ship, water has to be pumped into the lock chambers.
• When water is pumped, the level of water increases inside the lock chamber lifting the ship up. The lifted height equals the height required for the ship to proceed to the next lock chamber. Thus the ship gets lifted up above the sea-level from the pacific ocean.
• It reaches Gatun Lake after getting lifted up through Miraflores and Pedro Miguel locks. The ship has to be lowered down to get to the level of the Atlantic Ocean through the Gatun locks.
• The ship enters the Gatun lock chamber, where the gates again get closed, enclosing the ship in the lock chamber. The water gets pumped out of the lock gates, decreasing the water level in the lock chamber.
• When the water level equals the level of the Atlantic Ocean side, the outward lock gates open up, leading the ship to the sea passage.

If You Want To Go:
If you want to transit the Panama Canal sooner rather than later, there’s still time to cruise this fall! If you like last-minute adventures, Westerdam and Oosterdam leave Sept. 26 and 27, respectively, to reposition from Alaska to the Caribbean. Westerdam is departing Seattle on an 18-day cruise, while Oosterdam is sailing from Vancouver on a 19-day transit. In October, Veendam cruises from Atlantic to Pacific on a 19-day transit departing Oct. 17 from Boston to San Diego. Those who want to leave from Fort Lauderdale can depart on Veendam Oct. 21.

The Panama Canal has two lakes: Gatun Lake and Miraflores Lake. Did you know that Gatun Lake is an artificial lake? It was created between 1907 and 1913, and at that time it was the largest man-made lake in the world.

Captain Mercer snapped this photo of Gatun Lake during his transit.

Captain Mercer snapped this photo of Gatun Lake during his transit.

If You Want To Go:
When it’s time for the Alaska season, Maasdam repositions from Fort Lauderdale to Seattle, Washington, on a 20-day adventure that includes a transit of the Panama Canal. Guests looking for a shorter journey can disembark at San Diego, making it a 15-day cruise, or Vancouver, British Columbia, for a 19-day voyage.

If you want a convenient roundtrip Fort Lauderdale cruise, Zuiderdam offers Sunfarer voyages starting at 10 days that include a Caribbean exploration and a partial Panama Canal transit. The ship spends a morning cruising Gatun Lake where guests can disembark and take one of several shore excursions, including the Gatun Locks & Kayak in the Canal to Colon tour.

Guests on Sunfarer itineraries can go ashore at Gatun and take a variety of tours.

Guests on Sunfarer itineraries can go ashore at Gatun and take a variety of tours.

In 2007, work began on a $5.25 billion expansion project that will enable the canal to handle post-Panamax ships — those exceeding the dimensions of Panamax vessels built to fit through the canal. The expanded canal will be able to handle cargo vessels carrying 14,000 20-foot containers, nearly three times the amount currently accommodated! The expansion project, expected to be completed in 2016, includes the creation of a new, larger set of locks and the widening and deepening of existing navigational channels. As of Aug. 31, 2015, the project is 93 percent complete.

We will be doing our fourth transit next April with HAL. What a great trip. We learn new things every time. Looking forward to it – again. — Sue C.

If You Want To Go:
If you’re looking to transit the canal but also visit the exotic ABC Islands in the Caribbean, Westerdam’s March 12, 2016, cruise is the perfect choice for you. The 21-day cruise from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego makes 13 calls along the way, including Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. Mexico also takes center stage, with five calls throughout the country.

Book Now for Savings:
If you book by October 2015, the 2016 Panama Canal Sunfarer voyages are included in the Explore 4 promotion. That means they will include a complimentary signature beverage package and dinner at the Pinnacle Grill, plus reduced fares for third and fourth guests, and a 50 percent reduced deposit.

The Panama Canal is a “must-do” cruise for every avid traveler. Are you planning on transiting the canal soon?

Half Moon Cay's Private Oasis is your personal sanctuary in paradise.
Half Moon Cay's Private Oasis is your personal sanctuary in paradise.

Half Moon Cay is Holland America Line’s number-one-rated port on Caribbean cruises. This idyllic destination features everything you would expect in paradise: crystalline waters, powdery beaches and an endless array of activities. From snorkeling and kayaking to horse-back riding for those who want to get moving and beach chairs for those who want to relax, Half Moon Cay has it all.

But if you’re looking for the ultimate getaway within this amazing getaway, be sure to book the Private Oasis for your family and spend the day in your own, personal sanctuary. This tropical haven is perched on a point partially over the island’s warm waters. They make the perfect spot for a private day with friends and family … a luxurious setting at one of the most stunning beaches the Caribbean has to offer.

Start the morning with an onboard greeting from the butler who takes you to the tender for the journey ashore. Once on land, stroll along a private walkway to your slice of paradise — and a large slice at that with 1,620 square feet of space to enjoy. You can spend time in the large covered pavilion or out in the sun. The facility features a slide that lands right in the ocean, an eight-person hot tub perfect for a relaxing soak, private bathrooms, indoor and outdoor showers with warm water, 100-foot walkway with misting stations and changing rooms.

There's plenty of room for friends and family.

There’s plenty of room for friends and family.

The Private Oasis includes a full wet bar and refrigerator so you can get into the Bahamian spirit with the island cocktail of your choice. With options like Mojitos, Beach Cruisers and Rum Runners or frozen tropical classics like Piña Coladas, Strawberry Daiquiris and Margaritas, you’ll catch the island vibes in no time. Soft drinks, bottled water, juices, beers, wines and mocktails are also included and your own personal bartender and bar waiter are there to whip up whatever you’re in the mood for.

We booked this excursion to celebrate my husband’s retirement and share the experience with 22 of our closest friends and also purchased the Palm Package upgrade. It was worth every penny!! The service by the Pinnacle Grill staff was exemplary and the food and beverages were beyond our expectations. HIGHLY recommend this excursion!!! Guest QuilterPat

You won’t go hungry here either — fresh fruit, danish, chips and salsa are served in the early morning and a barbecue lunch buffet will satisfy your hunger in the afternoon. Enjoy assorted salads, grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, fresh Teriyaki-glazed Mahi Mahi, barbecued pork spare ribs and barbecued chicken, brownies and cookies, all at the indoor teak dining table with seating for six or the outdoor teak lounges and bar stools that accommodate 12. All the cooking is done by your own personal chef — who’s not the only staff that comes with the place — you will also have a butler and lifeguard!

From fresh fruit to grilled shrimp, this oasis has something for all tastes.

From fresh fruit to grilled shrimp, this oasis serves up something for all tastes.

Guest Mom2Huskies gave the Private Oasis five stars on the Holland America Line website and said it was the highlight of her trip:

“This is the most amazing thing to do on HMC you feel like a VIP and so worth every penny plus you get cruise day credits.”

All the above amenities are included in the Private Oasis Palm Package. The packages below offer even more indulgences!

The Private Oasis Royal Palm Package

This upgrade features even more delicious Caribbean fare with seafood, pasta, potato and chop salads; grilled shrimp, Caribbean-style barbecue steaks, blackened grilled fish, tropical spears and banana coconut cake added to your barbecue. You’ll also be able to truly relax in paradise with a Greenhouse Spa masseuse available.

A postcard-perfect day at the Private Oasis.

A postcard-perfect day at the Private Oasis.

Jmack81598 also gave the Private Oasis five stars and said it’s the perfect setting for a celebration:

“We did this to celebrate a birthday during our cruise. We were a party of 10 ages 5-71 and it was perfect for everyone. The food and service were fantastic. The oasis is beautiful and only steps to the main beach. Lifeguard, bartender, waiter and host included. Couldn’t ask for more. Stunning beach! Well worth it – if you are going to treat yourself, this is the way to go!”

Ultimate Oasis Package

The Ultimate Oasis Package is perfect for guests who truly want to enjoy the good life, Caribbean-style! Once you arrive via your escorted transfer from the ship you can begin to pop as many tops as you want with unlimited Dom Perignon Champagne! Snack on Russian Caviar with iced vodka, Iced King Crab Legs and Jumbo Chilled Shrimp, conch and pasta salads and Ceviche of Tuna. You better save room for the main course with Grilled Sea Scallops, Grilled Lobster and Beef Tenderloin on the menu! One Pinnacle Grill Manager, a Chef de Partie and an assistant cook will make sure all the food is to your liking, and two waiters and an assistant waiter will make sure you don’t have to lift a finger! The Private Pasis is also staffed with a bartender, assistant bartender, housekeeper and masseuse.

Here’s what two more cruisers had to say about this getaway-within-a-getaway:

This was a special trip for our family and we treated ourselves to this. We loved it and wished we could have stayed longer! The day starts with a ‘butler’ coming to your stateroom to take you to the oasis. It was so nice not having to wait in line for the tender. We arrived to a great spread of fruit, veggies, dips and chips and guacamole … Lunch was wonderful! Just when you thought that was all the food, surprise there was more! This is a must for a family reunion or if you are traveling with a group of friends. It is well worth the money and you well love it!- Trevor

Guests of all ages enjoy a day in a Private Oasis.

Guests of all ages enjoy a day in a Private Oasis.

If your cruise is calling at Half Moon Cay, remember that the Private Oasis can be pre-booked. There’s only one on the island so book early to make sure it’s available.

If you’re thinking about a cruise to the Caribbean, now is the time to book. Be sure to take advantage of savings up to $1,000 per stateroom with the Fall Finale promotion that highlights 2015 itineraries. At least 60 different sailings, including many Caribbean cruises, are eligible for this deal if booked by Sept. 10, 2015, with a $60 deposit.

If you want to cruise next year or beyond, the Explore 4 special also is in full swing. Benefits for guests booking any category stateroom include a free Signature Beverage Package valued at up to $1,400, a free Pinnacle Grill dinner for two, reduced cruise fares for third and fourth guests in the same stateroom and 50 percent reduced deposits. Bookings must be made by Oct. 31, 2015. There’s never been a better time to book one of the many Caribbean cruises included in this promo!

Have you spent the day in a Private Oasis? What would you celebrate in this idyllic setting? Tell us in the comments below.

The final "Dancing with the Stars: At Sea" cruises will feature from left: Kym Johnson, Florence Henderson, Carson Kressley and Tony Dovolani (not pictured).
The final "Dancing with the Stars: At Sea" cruises will feature from left: Kym Johnson, Florence Henderson, Carson Kressley and Tony Dovolani (not pictured).

Why should you cruise on the final two “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” theme cruises? In addition to the dazzling performances, fantastic costumes, up-close encounters with the show’s stars and the hilariously antics of Carson Kressley, there’s a new addition to the featured talent: Dance Professional Tony Dovolani!

Dance Pro Tony Dovolani.

Dance Pro Tony Dovolani.

In addition to Tony and Carson, the theme cruises also will showcase pro dancer and Mirrorball Trophy winner Kym Johnson, along with America’s favorite TV mom Florence Henderson. The Champions Cruise departs Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Jan. 10, 2016, and the Jan. 3, 2016, theme cruise sets sail the week prior. These voyages mark the final chances to experience “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” programming before the partnership concludes.

When ms Nieuw Amsterdam heads to the Caribbean on the two seven-day voyages, guests will be able to watch these four fan favorites take the stage to perform routines from the hit ABC television show as well as exciting new choreographed dances. Additional events on these cruises include dance lessons with the ship’s professional dancers; a special fashion show featuring glamorous show costumes from the TV show; and a chance to meet the stars, ask questions and take photos with them.

“We are thrilled to have the talents of Tony, Kym, Carson and Florence, entertaining and mingling with our guests on these last two special theme cruises,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “And the Champions Cruise on the Jan. 10 sailing features the exciting grand finale dance-off following a year of guest competitions, and we look forward to crowning a new Mirrorball Trophy winner with the help of these fabulous stars.”

It’s been a wonderful partnership between Holland America Line and Dancing with the Stars over the last few years,” added Ashford. “The program added an engaging element to our cruises that many guests embraced with passion and dedication. We are thankful to Dancing with the Stars and BBC Worldwide for an amazing run.”

If you’re thinking about joining us for these voyages, read about guest Diana’s adventures on a recent “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” cruise to Canada and New England. She shared her experience with the blog and got some assistance from fellow guest Shigeo Morita who contributed many of the great pictures. We think you’ll be convinced to put on your dancing shoes!

by Guest Diana

Kym and Carson share a laugh on stage.

Kym and Carson share a laugh on stage.

When Holland America Line’s Veedam sailed from Boston a sunny, cool Saturday a couple weeks ago, there was a special vibe in the air from everyone onboard excited to jive, samba and waltz their way through Canada and New England with “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea.”

It didn’t take long for the dancing to begin with the first class of the cruise scheduled right after sailaway. I put on my dancing shoes and headed to Veendam’s Showroom at Sea. The waltz class began with a few words from the host of DWTS: at Sea, Jason Venner, and a video lesson by one of the TV show’s dancing pros, Sharna Burgess. After learning a full Waltz routine, a couple participants were selected for a dance-off. They were scored by a panel and a winner was selected to participate in the guest competition on the final night of the cruise! What a perfect start to the voyage.

On the second day of the cruise, a jive lesson had guests kicking and flicking in no time. Later that night we lined up for a photo opportunity with the four stars on this sailing: professional dancers Kym Johnson and Tristan MacManus, Florence Henderson of “The Brady Bunch” fame and Carson Kressley from “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”. Incredibly gracious, they had a quick chat with each guest. My mom, whom I was traveling with, told Kym she loved watching her with Robert Herjavec in the past season and much to my surprise was able to hold back mentioning she felt Riker Lynch had been robbed of the Mirrorball. An opinion she holds strongly!


Later in the cruise, guests would be able to get these photos autographed by the stars in a special autograph session.

The real glitz and glamour came midway through the cruise when the full “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” cast put on a stellar show in the Showroom at Sea. Carson Kressley was a fantastic MC, but he also participated in a couple of routines.

Kym and Tristan danced a magnificent latin-style routine, and Tristan and Florence delighted guests with a classy waltz. The “DWTS: at Sea” dance troupe also wowed guests, particularly with a two-person rumba routine that packed in more lifts and tricks than any routine I had ever seen on the show. On this night in particular, guests who already knew of Carson were delighted to see him at his best, and those who had not heard of him before quickly became fans. His witty remarks, hilarious commentary and perfectly-timed jokes had guests laughing in between every performance. It felt like he put the star in “Dancing with the Stars.”

Have you ever been to a show you enjoyed so much that you stuck around for the second showing? This show was such a hit that the room barely cleared out after the first showing, with many guests staying in the showroom and waiting around for an hour or so for the next one to begin! I was one of them and I can tell you, it was just as fun to watch the second time around. Here are some more moments from the show:


The following day, a Samba class was on the schedule. Samba is a fun dance to learn. The music is quick and up-beat, and it felt like a party while dancing to it, or “pah-ty” as Kym described it with her Australian accent.

That night we watched the “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” Fashion Show in a packed house, standing-room only. Members of the “Dancing with the Stars” dance troupe were joined by Veendam’s dancers modeling some of the impressive costumes used on the TV show. True DWTS fans could quickly recall who had worn what, like the fire-y gown donned by Willow Shields in her contemporary dance with Mark Ballas this past season. Carson and Kym MC’d and it was interesting to hear Kym’s commentary on the amount of fabric used for each piece, general inspiration behind them and the totals of Swarovski crystals!

Veendam's dancers and Florence Henderson modeled some of the gowns worn on the show.

Veendam’s dancers and Florence Henderson modeled some of the gowns worn on the show.

I got an early start the following morning with a 10 a.m. fitness class in the Showroom at Sea led by Kym. In the warm-up she told the large crowd of exercisers we would “start with a cha-cha and end with a jive,” a dance-pro way of noting that though things would start slow they would quickly pick up. She wasn’t lying! The catchy music she selected had everyone shimmying up a sweat in no time. Each song involved a different genre of dance and we quickly learned its basic steps. As the tempo picked up the routines got quicker. I was impressed with the routine, a true workout that had everyone out of breath by the end.

Kym Johnson found herself in the spotlight again with a work out class on an early morning.

Kym Johnson found herself in the spotlight again with a work-out class on an early morning.

That afternoon, Kym, Tristan, Carson and Florence took the stage with Jason for a Q&A session. Guests asked the stars questions varying from what a typical week during the show is like to what a certain pro-dancer and her past-partner’s current relationship status is. As they say, what happens on Veendam stays on Veendam, so I can’t give you the answer! Florence spoke about her childhood and her early days on Broadway. Carson spoke about his experience on the dancing show and his passion for horses and Kym talked of her busy schedule. The female guests in the audience weren’t concerned with what Tristan was saying, rather just wanted him to just keep speaking with his charming Irish accent.

An exciting week of “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” ended with a bang when six guests took the stage, partnered with Veendam’s full-time dancers, for an incredibly entertaining guest competition. The winning routine was an impressive jive and the guest was awarded with a gold star. Her routine will put her in the running to represent Veendam in a competition with the highest scoring guest from every ship. If she’s selected she’ll have to clear her schedule in early January for the “DWTS: At Sea” Champions Cruise where Holland America will crown its final Mirrorball Trophy winner. As for myself and many other cruisers who had just spent the past week with some of a hit TV competition show’s best stars, we’ll be clearing our schedules, too, to sail as regular passengers.

Guests were paired with Veendam's dancers and performed a routine for the panel, which included Kym and Carson. One outstanding jiver won a gold star!

Guests were paired with Veendam’s dancers and performed a routine for the panel, which included Kym and Carson. One outstanding jiver won a gold star!

Will you be joining us for one of the two final “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” cruises? Tell us which one below!

The Schoelcher Library is a beautiful historical site on the Martinique tour.
The Schoelcher Library is a beautiful historical site on the Martinique tour.

Holland America Line carries thousands of cruisers to the Caribbean each year who are drawn to the region because of its tropical climate and relaxing lifestyle, but there’s more to the islands than meet the eye.

When planning a cruise to the Caribbean, you’ll likely think of the typical snorkeling, sailing and other beach-related excursions that the area is famous for. But with a past packed with imperialism, immigration waves and ancient civilizations, historical tours in the Caribbean make stories fly off the pages of your grade-school textbooks.

Rich with cathedrals, plantations and traditional colonial architecture, the Caribbean has preserved so much of its history for visitors to enjoy today. Almost every destination offers a historical tour, so no matter where your ship may visit, be sure to check out the historical excursions available. These tours offer a chance to get off the beaten path, take a break from the beach and plunge into all of the history the islands have to offer!

Here are six of the fascinating historically themed tours offered by Holland America Line:


Visit Ernest Hemingway's famous home in Key West.

Visit Ernest Hemingway’s famous home in Key West.

If you get the chance to stop at Key West, Florida, the “History and Legends” tour is a self-guided experience offering over 100 points of interest to pick and choose from, spending as much or as little time as you want at each destination. Enter the home of the famous author Ernest Hemingway, learn about Key West’s unique role in the Civil War, explore the vacation home of former President Truman and play with the Hemingway polydactyl cats. The visible influence from Spanish explorers and railroad development in the 1800s are nestled within this uniquely historical and tropical location.


Visit the Balenbouche Estate on the historical tour in St. Lucia.

Visit the Balenbouche Estate on the historical tour in St. Lucia.

The “Historical Island Extravaganza” tour at Castries, Saint Lucia, offers a full day of diverse locations and experiences showcasing the best of the island’s history and culture. You’ll travel to a valley packed with banana plantations and small villages, then see breathtaking views as you drive down the Atlantic Coast to the Balenbouche Estate. One of few surviving original plantation houses in St. Lucia, its colonial architecture dates back to the early 1800s. See the island’s history come to life as you explore rooms furnished with antiques, rock basins and petroglyphs on the banks of the nearby Balenbouche River, and a collection of ancient artifacts including stone axes, tools and crafted clay pottery. Cool down with some refreshments before heading to the gardens, and then find the perfect souvenir at the Choiseul Craft Market selling indigenous arts and crafts. Next on the itinerary is the Caribbean’s only drive-in volcano, Sulfur Springs. After a day filled with traveling and exploring the beautiful island, relax with a delicious lunch at the Morne Coubaril working plantation, then enjoy a ride to the jetty with magnificent views of the Pitons.


Take the “Historical Trujillo” tour at Banana Coast in Honduras and learn about Christopher Columbus’ landing there in 1502. Explore the Santa Barbara Fortress then revel in the 19th-century Spanish and French colonial architecture that make up the city.


Fort Napolean is a highlight of the Les Saintes tour in Guadeloupe.

Fort Napolean is a highlight of the Les Saintes tour in Guadeloupe.

The Les Saintes tour at Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe starts with a 30-minute boat ride to Terre de Haut where you’ll find Fort Napolean. Originally built for defense against British invasion, the fort was later used as a penitentiary. Enjoy panoramic views and vibrant flower gardens before retreating to enjoy a traditional Creole lunch and some beach time.


This tour in St. Croix visits the historical sites on the island.

This tour in St. Croix visits the historical sites on the island.

The West End Highlights tour includes a visit the Whim Plantation Museum at St. Croix in the Virgin Islands to admire the 18th-century ambiance. Hear stories of former residents of the Great House, take a walk through the 16-acre botanic gardens dating back as far as 100 A.D., then finish this tour with a trip to the island’s largest distillery where the famous Cruzan Rum has been produced for the last 300 years.

St. Louis Cathedral has an imposing presence in Martinique.

St. Louis Cathedral in Martinique.


A Stroll Through Historic Fort-De-France” in Martinique explores the city’s narrow streets and features the island’s history, architecture and local flora. You’ll stop at Fort St. Louis, the War Memorial and La Savanna. Pass the Schoelcher Library, named after the island’s most famous abolitionist who labored to free Martinique’s slaves. Imagine yourself in the colonial era at Maison Bougenot, a traditional home from that time. Pause and energize with some fresh local juice or mineral water before your last stop touring the St. Louis Cathedral, then you’ll be set loose on the main street for some retail therapy!


Veendam is calling at Key West and Banana Coast in early February on a Seven-Day Western Caribbean cruise. If it’s the southern islands that captivate your interest, Oosterdam will visit Basseterre, Fort-De-France and Castries in the fall on a 21-Day Southern Caribbean Wayfarer/Seafarer cruise, then Maasdam will visit Basseterre, Fort-De-France and St. Croix in the spring on an 11-Day Southern Caribbean cruise.

If you’re interested in visiting these locations, remember that the shore excursions can be pre-booked so you’re sure to get the tour of your choice.

If you’re thinking about a cruise to the Caribbean, now is the time to book. Be sure to take advantage of savings up to $1,000 per stateroom with the Fall Finale promotion that highlights 2015 itineraries. At least 60 different sailings, including many Caribbean cruises, are eligible for this deal if booked by Sept. 10, 2015, with a $60 deposit.

If you want to cruise next year or beyond, the Explore 4 special also is in full swing. Benefits for guests booking any category stateroom include a free Signature Beverage Package valued at up to $1,400, a free Pinnacle Grill dinner for two, reduced cruise fares for third and fourth guests in the same stateroom and 50 percent reduced deposits. Bookings must be made by Oct. 31, 2015. There’s never been a better time to book one of the many Caribbean cruises included in this promo!

Which of these historical tours interest you the most? Have you been on any already? Let us know in the comments below!


Guests who have been anticipating booking a Caribbean voyage on Holland America Line’s newest ship, ms Koningsdam, can now do so. Bookings opened for the cruises that feature Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line’s private Bahamian island, as well as a host of other tropical favorites.

The ship, launching in April 2016, will homeport at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and sail a series of Caribbean voyages from November 2016 through March 2017.

The seven-day cruises visit popular ports in the region, while the longer nine-, 10- and 11-day itineraries provide more time for exploring a diverse array of off-the-beaten-path islands.

“Since we began taking reservations for Koningsdam’s summer Europe season, guests have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to book a Caribbean voyage on our beautiful new ship,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “Demand for being among the first to experience our latest innovations on Koningsdam is high, so we encourage anyone interested in a Caribbean cruise to book early. It’s going to be a fantastic inaugural season.”

Starting in November 2016, the ship will offer two different seven-day Caribbean itineraries. The eastern Caribbean route calls at the Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Half Moon Cay. The western Mediterranean route visits Half Moon Cay, Grand Cayman, Mexico and Key West, Fla.

The ship’s longer nine-, 10- and 11-day cruises showcase more ports in the region and include unique and lesser-visited islands such as Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Jamaica, Martinique and St. Lucia, to name a few.

The Caribbean cruises follow Koningsdam’s inaugural season sailing roundtrip from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to Norway, the Baltic, British Isles and Iceland.

Half Moon Cay: Holland America Line’s #1-Rated Caribbean Port

The island's crescent shape is how Half Moon Cay got its name.

The island’s crescent shape is how Half Moon Cay got its name.

Featured on all itineraries, Holland America Line’s private island paradise of Half Moon Cay is consistently rated the number-one Caribbean destination by guests. Perhaps it’s the port’s pristine beaches and crystalline waters in varying shades of blue. Or maybe it’s the variety of activities offered, from swimming with stingrays to horseback riding through the surf. Or the option to simply sit back with a cool drink in hand and soak up the sun.

Cruise Critic’s Erica Silverstein recently wrote an article about Half Moon Cay and had this to say:

“Half Moon Cay — the private island in the Bahamas that Carnival and Holland America share — looks like a movie set of a beach. The sand is pristinely white, with nary a scratchy shell or untoward piece of seaweed. The sea is warm, but not too warm, and turquoise, just like all the postcards you see of Caribbean beaches that you always assumed were fake. The cabanas are painted in bright, happy colors, and the bars have quaint thatched roofs and inviting Adirondack chairs — or are set inside a faux pirate ship. You have to try to have a bad time there.”

To read Erica’s full article on how to enjoy Half Moon Cay, click HERE.

Sun, Sand and Surf … Activities Galore!

Visitors looking to get out and explore Half Moon Cay have more than a dozen shore excursions to choose from that include options in every level of activity intensity. These include horseback riding by land and sea, personal watercraft adventures on the interior lagoon and a stingray adventure, as well as catch-and-release deep-sea fishing trips, eco-tours by glass-bottom boat, parasailing, guided kayak trips and guided bike rides around the island.


One of the most popular tours is horseback riding by land and sea. Guest Sammiefitz had this to say:

“We have been to Half Moon Cay several times and love the beach day, but this time we rode the horses. Not only did we see parts of the island we have never seen before, but we went to the highest point of Half Moon Cay for a beautiful view of the ocean and our ship. We saw the gardens and animals that the locals who live on the island take care of, and the BEST, I mean BEST part, was taking the horses out into the water, and having them swim with us on their backs. They split us into small groups for this swim, and I would suggest that and someone in your party splits up, like, my husband and did, so they can take photos of you in the water. Second suggestion, it’s a lovely walk back to the beach, instead of taking the truck back. Try it…”

Fun For All Ages

Many guests rate the call so high for its abundance of children’s activities. The Half Moon Lagoon aqua park offers large water toys in the shapes of whales, octopi, sharks and dolphins for kids to climb on and a pirate ship water slide that sprays water from its cannons. A pirate-themed playground is available with two slides and two kid-sized wooden pirate ships.

Half Moon Cay has a variety of fun activities for kids of all ages.

Half Moon Cay has a variety of fun activities for kids of all ages.

Private Beach Cabanas and Villas

Guests looking for a bit of luxury ashore take advantage of the private beach-side cabanas and two-story villas. The cabanas feature a refrigerator, ceiling fan, air conditioner, table and chairs inside, deck chairs and a misting shower on the private terrace, while the luxury villas feature all that plus an exclusive hot tub on the second floor, floating mats and snorkel gear for use throughout the day.

“Loved the beach villa!!!! I have been known to frequent the cabans, but no more. I will choose the beach villas from now on. My family had the best time. If you have more than three people…this is the way to go.” — Guest Racergirl24

The villas, left, and cabanas are popular a feature on Half Moon Cay.

The villas, left, and cabanas are popular a feature on Half Moon Cay.

Why do guests love Half Moon Cay so much? Matt Samms, Holland America Line’s vice president Caribbean relations, summed it up nicely:

“It is what guests have pictured in their mind the Caribbean should look like. The experience ashore matches their high expectations as well. And, we have the best staff in the industry.”

There’s so much to do and see on Half Moon Cay that guests keep coming back time and again.

About Koningsdam
Currently under construction, Koningsdam represents a new Pinnacle Class of ship for Holland America Line. When it sets sail on its Premier Voyage April 8, 2016, the vessel will debut several innovative concepts while still featuring popular amenities guests associate with Holland America Line.

In a first for Holland America Line, the ship will feature purpose-built staterooms for families of five as well as single staterooms among its 1,331 guest accommodations.

Entertainment is taken to a new level with the energetic Music Walk area featuring all genres of music showcased in venues including Lincoln Center Stage with artists performing chamber music nightly; Billboard Onboard, where live musicians rock the crowd with chart-topping hits; and the popular B.B. King’s Blues Club in the Queen’s Lounge, bringing the best of Memphis music to sea.

Read more about Koningsdam’s exciting features in a previous blog post.

Will you be booking a trip to Half Moon Cay on one of Koningsdam’s Caribbean cruises?

An overnight at Bangkok on the 28-Day Indonesian Discovery & Far East Discovery Collectors’ Voyage shows the city in a different light.
An overnight at Bangkok on the 28-Day Indonesian Discovery & Far East Discovery Collectors’ Voyage shows the city in a different light.

Are you a port or destinations collector? Do you like longer journeys? What about relaxing days at sea? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, Holland America Line’s Collectors’ Voyages are the perfect cruise travel option. The Collectors’ Voyages are combined back-to-back itineraries that enable cruisers to visit more areas in a region than on a single, shorter voyage. And sometimes they combine two cruises in different regions, spanning continents and oceans. Cruise fares also can be more economical with Collectors’ Voyages, making them impossible to pass up.

If you’re thinking about booking a Collectors’ Voyage and wonder if it’s right for you, here are the top five reasons to take one of these exciting and unique itineraries.

1. More Exciting & Unusual Ports
The beauty of a Collectors’ Voyage is that it combines two back-to-back itineraries into one, extended cruise. Holland America Line often purposefully schedules ships on alternating routes in a region so guests who want to visit more ports in the area easily can combine two voyages into one seamless itinerary.

Just look at how this Caribbean Collectors' Voyage spans the region! From Aruba to Half Moon Cay, it's sun, sand and sea all the way.

Just look at how this Caribbean Collectors’ Voyage spans the region! From Aruba to Half Moon Cay, it’s sun, sand and sea all the way.

If you’re looking for the ultimate Caribbean adventure and want to see what the many unique islands have to offer, Oosterdam’s 21-day Southern Caribbean Wayfarer/Seafarer Collectors’ Voyage calls at 12 ports, including the chance to experience Half Moon Cay twice. Holland America Line’s private island paradise is consistently ranked number-one in the Caribbean by cruise guests. In addition to conveniently sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the ship visits popular favorites like Barbados, Martinique, St. Lucia and St. Maarten. But it also calls at several off-the-beaten-path ports like the ABC Islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, as well as Grand Turk and St. Kitts.

2. Longer Voyages
While some Collectors’ Voyages can be “shorter” such as the 14-day Easter/Western Caribbean Collectors’ Voyage, many are longer, epic journeys lasting a month, sometimes two. In addition to combining itineraries, many Collectors’ Voyages combine destinations that require more time to get from place to place, or the back-to-back itineraries are already longer individually and make up an even longer cruise when combined.

Guests get to experience the Great Barrier Reef twice on this Collectors' Voyage.

Guests get to experience the Great Barrier Reef twice on this Collectors’ Voyage.

In September 2015 Volendam sails from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Singapore on a sweeping 75-Day South Pacific Explorer and Great Barrier Reef Collectors’ Voyage. While crossing the Pacific Ocean, the ship spends the night at Honolulu, Hawaii, then island-hops among South Pacific jewels en route to Australia. Once there, the ship makes 18 calls around the continent and offers guests two opportunities to experience the Great Barrier Reef, as well as scenic cruising in the Ribbon Reef region. Undoubtedly, it’s a memorable journey.

3. Visit Many Countries on One Trip
Many of the Collectors’ Voyages concentrate on one region, such as the Caribbean Collectors’ Voyages, while others explore multiple countries and span thousands of nautical miles. In Europe and South America it’s easy to hit many countries on one voyage without going too far. But sometimes the Collectors’ Voyages reach countries that are oceans apart.

The 48-Day Mediterranean and Far East Explorer Collectors’ Voyage departs Sept. 13, 2015, on Ryndam and cruises from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, all the way to Singapore in the Far East. The ship calls at 28 ports in 14 countries, making it a fun adventure for the traveler who wants to add to their collection of destinations visited.

Cruise from Rotterdam to Singapore with XX ports calls in-between.

Cruise from Rotterdam to Singapore with 28 ports calls in-between.

In addition to countries like Portugal, Italy, Spain and Greece, guests will visit exotic locales in Jordan, Oman, India and Sri Lanka. A transit of the Suez Canal is a highlight of the voyage.

The convenience of unpacking just once, no hassles with car, train, bus or air transportation, and waking fresh in a new location makes a longer cruise adventure an unbeatable value.

4. Overnight Stays in Ports of Call
Overnight port calls are a highlight of some of the Collectors’ Voyages, allowing guests more time ashore to experience all that the area has to offer. Guests can take an evening tour to enjoy the nightlife side of the city, or perhaps dinner ashore at a well-known local restaurant is on the list of things to do. It also means time to take multiple tours in one port (which is a rare opportunity), go overland to an area farther from the ship than a day-call would allow, or even split time between taking a tour and exploring on your own. The cities that warrant an overnight call are often some of the most culturally rich in the world, leaving much to discover.

On the 28-Day Indonesian Discovery & Far East Discovery Collectors’ Voyage departing Jan. 5, 2016, from Singapore, Volendam guests will call at 16 ports in six countries and have overnight calls at Benoa (Bali), Indonesia; Singapore; and Laem Chabang (Bangkok), Thailand.

Thanks to an overnight call guests can go into Bangkok and see the Golden Reclining Buddha at Wat Po.

Thanks to an overnight call guests can visit Bangkok and see the Golden Reclining Buddha at Wat Po.

The overnight call at Laem Chabang allows guests to make the 2 1/2-hour journey into Bangkok and spend the night at a hotel in the bustling city. The Bangkok Overnight Tour includes visits to some of the country’s most impressive temples, the Grand Palace, Royal Barges and Wat Po with its golden reclining buddha, as well as the chance to enjoy an authentic Thai dinner at a local restaurant.

5. More Sea Days to Experience the Ship
While port days are exciting and full of adventure, it’s nice to have a few sea days to relax, recharge and take advantage of all of the ships’ wonderful amenities. Guests can be as active as they want or simply choose to unwind and do as little as possible. But if it’s activities you’re looking for, Holland America Line has something for everyone.

From culinary and computer classes to the spa, there are a variety of activities to enjoy on sea days.

From culinary and computer classes to the spa, there are a variety of activities to enjoy on sea days.

With guest chefs, cooking classes, wine tasting and mixology classes, the Culinary Arts Center makes it easy to embrace your culinary passion at sea. If you’re looking to get the most out of your gadgets and learn new ways to use them, the Digital Workshops powered by Windows are perfect … and complimentary!

On sea days, many guests love to head to the Greenhouse Spa to enjoy a relaxing experience. You might be feeling run down from all the exciting ports you’ve been visiting, making the spa the perfect place to get refreshed and rejuvenated.

Holland America Line’s “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” program is one of the most exciting activities available on a cruise ship. Guests have the opportunity to learn the art of a variety of dancing genres in classes onboard, and then compete for a chance to perform on the Champions Cruise.

Holland America Line’s “On Location” program is truly one of a kind. Become further immersed in your destinations with enriching activities featuring the local cultures and cuisine of the ports you have been visiting, all while onboard. From learning tai chi in Asia to lei making in Hawaii, you will love these hands-on classes. And if it’s knowledge you seek, Holland America Line has an impressive roster of experts in a variety of fields that come onboard and provide exciting and informative lectures.

The 44-Day Alaska Explorer and Transpacific Crossing Collectors’ Voyage on Statendam starts off with a port-intensive exploration of Alaska. In addition to calling at Juneau, Ketchikan, Homer, Sitka, Kodiak, Icy Straight Point and Anchorage, guests also are treated to the stunning scenery of Tracy Arm and Hubbard Glacier. But then it’s off across the Pacific to Singapore. Along the route guests will visit Hawaii, Micronesia, Guam, the Philippine, Malaysia and more, but it’s the 19 total sea days that are a real treat for those who are ready to have fun onboard.

Have you taken a Collectors’ Voyage or are you thinking about it? What appeals to you most about these longer cruises? Tell us below!

Repositioning cruises offer extended relaxation at sea, unique itineraries and extraordinary value.
Repositioning cruises offer extended relaxation at sea, unique itineraries and extraordinary value.

Summer is coming! That means the Med is heating up and Alaska is entering prime-time for cruising. Across the fleet Holland America Line ships are preparing to reposition from their winter homes in the Caribbean and other tropical regions to temperate climates that have shorter-but-sweet cruise seasons.

As the ships move from one region to the next a number of unique itineraries become available — giving guests the chance to cross oceans and see some incredible ports of call. Some prefer these longer and less common voyages. We asked guests to weigh in — read on to learn the why, when and where of repositioning cruises!

Crossing the Atlantic
Transatlantic itineraries are the most popular ocean crossing options. From Europe to the Caribbean or vice-versa, guests set out to open sea with unique itineraries. The 29-day Baltic & Viking Passage is a wonderful opportunity to follow the paths of explorers past to the northern regions of the Atlantic. Cruise from one pristine nordic city to the next and through fjords. HAL guest Bruce Hirte praised the cruise saying,

“We have been on more than 20 cruises – several have been in the 30 day range. One of the most memorial was on the Eurodam doing the Baltic and the transatlantic into New York. We had the good fortune of cruising thru the fjord in Greenland on a clear and calm day. A GIFT!” – Bruce Hirte

Cruising through the fjords of Norway on a clear calm day is magical.

Cruising through the fjords of Norway on a clear calm day is magical.

Southern transatlantic itineraries forgo the fjords for more tropical temperatures.

“The Caribbean to Europe is my favorite cruise!” exclaimed Christine Lewis, a veteran HAL cruiser.

Bob Hale added that he loves that a transatlantic cruise offers plenty of time to enjoy all of Holland America Line’s fabulous culinary offerings and to rest. After all, the ocean is vast, which means more days at sea. Guests who are fans of sea days, like Ester Cooke, treat the ship like a destination in itself, taking time to engage in onboard activities at the Culinary Arts Center, Digital Workshops powered by Windows and more. Another great perk? When you cruise across the ocean you can slowly adjust to changing timezones — which means no jet lag!

“We loved sailing from Rome to Ft. Lauderdale stopping at Malaga, Spain, Alicante, Cadiz and the Azores. We were so pleasantly surprised with how gorgeous the Azores are. The sailing across the ocean was wonderful and we loved gaining an hour each day.” – Sharon Beecro

“Looking forward to the day I can do the trans from Lauderdale to Barcelona. That’s tops on my bucket list … for now.” – Chuck Botts

Cruise into Venice totally relaxed on a transatlantic journey.

Cruise into Venice totally relaxed on a transatlantic journey.

Another fabulous benefit of repositioning cruises is that they offer totally different perspectives on the same cruise. Imagine visiting Asia and Alaska in the same vacation! Revel in the cherry blossoms and medieval castles of Japan, see the sights in Shanghai and then — just a short while later — walk on the surface of a glacier in Alaska. These cruises are are Grand Voyages in themselves.

“Japan to Vancouver across the North Pacific via Alaska on Volendam was our April/May 2014 cruise. Loved the experience of far northern ports of Japan & then 1st cruise ship for season into Glacier Bay – magic.” – Clive George

The sakura (cherry blossom) is in full bloom in Japan in the spring.

The sakura (cherry blossom) is in full bloom in Japan in the spring.

Traversing the Pacific Ocean

Like transatlantic cruises, transpacific itineraries typically have northern and southern routes. The South Pacific is renowned for its extraordinary beauty. The editors of Portsie.com sailed across the Pacific in 2014 on ms Oosterdam and likened the experience to something out of a classic travel novel. Typical calls between Sydney and the States include the volcanic islands of New Caledonia, Fiji and Hawaii.

Moreover, these journeys are typically available at incredible rates as Wendy McDonald pointed out, saying, “Repositioning cruises; great value for the money spent!”

“Love any crossing … but lately we’d prefer west coast (which is why we signed up for the grand pacific!)” – Richard E Menken

“USA to Australia — great cruise.” – Nancy Abel Weigand

Visit the volcanic islands of Hawaii, Fiji and more when you cross the Pacific Ocean.

Visit the volcanic islands of Hawaii, Fiji and more when you cross the Pacific Ocean.

Exploring Other Oceans Around the World

Repositioning cruises aren’t always grand ocean crossing voyages, however. Ships move from region to region all over the world. Sometimes that means a journey from the Med through the Suez Canal and onward to Australia and Asia through the Indian Ocean. Another popular option is transiting the Panama Canal between the Caribbean and Alaska. Facebook fans Eileen Herr Ludermilch let us know that she is currently on a repositioning cruise through the Panama Canal, and Marsha Ellis is looking forward to a cruise in May that transits the canal en route to San Diego.

The extended length of such cruises is a great opportunity to get to know fellow passengers and Holland America Line’s fabulous employees. Bob Deffenbaugh and his wife were delighted to get to know some special HAL crew members throughout the course of their repositioning cruise.

Bob said, “Julius is our favorite crew member working at HAL, We met him for the second time aboard the Zuiderdam on our repositioning cruise!”

Sail from sea to shining sea on a Panama Canal itinerary.

Sail from sea to shining sea on a Panama Canal itinerary.

Whether going from Atlantic to Pacific or from the Caribbean to the Med, all of the repositioning cruises offer a unique adventure for those who like to combine relaxing days at sea with exciting ports. Which repositioning cruise most appeals to you? Let us know in the comments below!

Posts navigation

Previous Posts