Tag Archives: Nieuw Amsterdam

One-year-old Isabelle waves goodbye to her Uncle Vincent who is staff captain on Prinsendam.
One-year-old Isabelle waves goodbye to her Uncle Vincent who is staff captain on Prinsendam.

Taking a cruise vacation is a social event full of memory-making moments both onboard and ashore. From mingling with guests around the ship to taking a fabulous shore excursion and visiting all of the fantastic destinations around the world, there are plenty of opportunities to capture the special moments and share them with friends, family and fellow fans of Holland America Line.

If you want to be social before you cruise, check out “Roll Call” on Facebook, Holland America Line’s way of connecting fellow cruisers before departure. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and the Holland America Blog are other outlets that provide a great way for guests to get cruise tips from fellow guests or share vacation stories and photos.

If you want to be part of the sharing, submit your fun photos and stories through social media channels, by clicking “Share Your Story” on the blog or emailing info@hollandamericablog.com. And if you’re out there cruising and tweeting while you sail, hashtag us at #HALcruises or #HollandAmerica, or tag us at @HALcruises. You can even hashtag your ship, like #Eurodam!

The photos and notes in this blog post are just some wonderful examples that show the dedication, fondness and love that our guests and crew have for Holland America Line.

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Well Wishes from Shore to Ship

The beautiful photo above came through email with this sweet note:

My uncle Vincent works as a staff captain on the ms Prinsendam. Every time when the beautiful ms Prinsendam visits the Netherlands (Amsterdam or IJmuiden), I go by bike, together with my mom and dad to the beach/pier to wave my Uncle Vincent goodbye. We always wish him and all of the crew and passengers a safe and secure journey. My mom took a picture of us the last time. — Isabelle Engel (1 year)

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Noordam Carries Historic Tote Bag on Transatlantic Crossing

From left: Captain Jeroen van Donselaar, Nancy and Francis Stiles, and Hotel Director Simon Tanner display the historic tote bag.

From left: Captain Jeroen van Donselaar, Nancy and Francis Stiles, and Hotel Director Simon Tanner display the historic tote bag.

Guests Francis and Nancy Stiles of Pennsylvania brought an unusual piece of history on board a Noordam transatlantic cruise: a tote bag that has been in the Stiles family since 1890 and carried on many sailings. The tote bag traveled on Holland America Line ships including the Rijndam and Statendam in 1929 and made its first transatlantic crossing in 1930 aboard White Star Line’s R.M.S. Homeric.

On this transatlantic cruise 84 years later, Captain Jeroen van Donselaar and Hotel Director Simon Tanner held a commemoration ceremony on the bridge, inscribing the ship’s itinerary on the bag.

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Getting Creative with Tiles

While some guests create tables and kitchen backsplashes with their Holland America Line Delft tiles, guest Ton Rijppaert has found another way to get creative with these favorite give-aways. A former HAL cabin steward from 1964 to 1972, Ton now cruises regularly so he’s amassed quite a collection of tiles and pins.

Ton Rijppaert from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, displays his tiles and pins in a photobook.

Ton Rijppaert from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, displays his tiles and pins in a photobook.

I collect HAL tiles (not plates) and pins. In so far as now know HAL has released about 250 tiles … At this moment my collection consists of 230 tiles and 80 pins. I have them processed in a photobook. It is a loose-leaf album, so I can effortlessly handle additions. The tiles are shown at actual size. I always take the album with me on our cruises. That is the way I am “creative” with my tiles. — Ton Rijppaert

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Friends for Life

Crew members who work onboard become like family. Cruising is a 24/7 operation, and there’s a lot of time spent together. Special bonds are formed and lifelong friendships develop. Former Cruise Director Lizabeth Knight can attest to this in her story:

Teresa, left, and Liz onboard Nieuw Amsterdam.

Teresa, left, and Liz onboard Nieuw Amsterdam.

I’m a former HAL Cruise Director and Teresa Papp is a former HAL Event Manager. We were partnered together on the Statendam from 2009 through 2010. It was a tremendous partnership, and we were fortunate to work with a fabulous “family” on the Statendam. Even though we’ve both been officially gone from the company since 2010 we’ve remained close friends, and decided to take a “Family Reunion” cruise this year.

Since the Statendam does voyages that are longer than we can manage in our current lives, we chose a Caribbean cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam. We were thrilled to find many of our Statendam family members onboard, making it truly a family reunion to remember! Thank you, Holland America Line, for the magical memories – from both the Statendam and the Nieuw Amsterdam! — Lizabeth Knight

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Warm Feelings in Cold Weather

The Shore Excursion department on Zaandam recently received new uniforms for their South America explorations. They were very appreciative of the cold-weather wear.

Judy from Zaandam's Shore Excursion team shows off the new uniforms.

Judy from Zaandam’s Shore Excursion team shows off the new uniforms.

Just a little appreciation for our new uniform! — Judy

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Is that an Original Holland America Line Design?

Chuck and Deborah Humbert.

Chuck and Deborah Humbert.

Chuck Humbert and his wife Deborah were wondering what to do with all of the vintage, complimentary tote bags that Holland America Line gives out. They got creative, and we think the result is fabulous!

Because of the superb quality of the design and fabric, they were recycled by my wife Deborah and her mother into a jacket and vest to be worn at the Mariners Luncheons. Needless to say they do attract attention. Careful attention was paid to the patterns when piecing together the final project lending to a memorable taste of our past cruises.

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A Presidential Dinner

President’s Club Mariners Mark Goldberg and Christopher Smith have made the ms Zaandam their winter home sailing around South America for nearly 100 days.

To honor them and their loyalty to Holland America Line Hotel Director Simon Tanner orchestrated a remarkable dinner in the Neptune Lounge just a few steps from their suite. This was most definitely a memorable evening for these VIP guests!

Left to Right: Christopher Smith, presidents club member; Clarissa Zwart, guest relations manager;  Marc Spijkerboer, culinary operations manager; Mark Goldberg, presidents club member; Anita Szilagyi, shore excursions; Simon Tanner, hotel director, pose with HAL crew members.

Clockwise around the table from bottom left: guest Christopher Smith; Clarissa Zwart, guest relations manager; Marc Spijkerboer, culinary operations manager; guest Mark Goldberg; Anita Szilagyi, shore excursions; and Simon Tanner, hotel director, pose with HAL crew members.

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A Golden Anniversary

Even regular blog contributors and current Grand World Voyage cruisers Jan and Dick Yetke got in on the fun.

We celebrated our 50th Anniversary onboard. Started out with a wake up call in the morning from Guest Relations Manager Christel and her whole front office staff, including Neptune staff, singing a Happy Anniversary song to us!!!! What a wonderful surprise and great way to start the day!!!

A little while later we were out of the cabin attending the Good Morning Amsterdam show and when we returned our door had been decorated with 3 gold balloons and a sign saying Happy 50th Anniversary, Jan and Dick!! It was from the Neptune staff and our cabin stewards. Wow, that was really nice!

Cards arrived all day long from friends on board!!! We received our first large flower bouquet from Captain Jonathan Mercer; Henk and Christel Mensink, hotel manager and guest relations manager; ship officers, staff, and crew!! So beautiful and so much appreciated by us! We felt very special.

Celebrations continued throughout the day with flower deliveries, a cocktail party, fabulous dinner and dessert.

When it was time for dessert, all the dining room staff gathered around the table and they brought the cake and they all sang their Indonesian song which means Happy Life to us!! Another, Wow, for us – so many singers.

The Yetke's 50th Anniversary celebration included balloons, cake and Captain Mercer.

The Yetke’s 50th Anniversary celebration included balloons, cake and Captain Mercer.

Content is king and social media is the new water cooler. We want to hear what you’re doing! If you have fun photos or a great story that you’d like to share with Holland America Line’s social media team, send to info@hollandamericablog.com or hit the icon on the home page that says “Share Your Story.”

Happy cruising — we hope to hear from you soon!

The small plate experience at Canaletto contributed to the line's win for Best Dining.
The small plate experience at Canaletto contributed to the line's win for Best Dining.

It was just announced that Holland America Line won top honors in four categories in the 2015 Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Awards. The line took first place in Best Dining (large-ship category) for ms Nieuw Amsterdam, Best Value-for-Money (mid-sized category) for ms Zuiderdam, and Best Caribbean Cruises and Best Cruises from Florida for Nieuw Amsterdam in the general categories not based on ship size.

“The readers of Cruise Critic are savvy travelers who candidly share their cruise experiences, and to receive these awards based on their reviews is an honor,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “Our mission is to provide exceptional cruise vacations, and when Cruise Critic members rank us among the best we’re know we’re succeeding in creating memorable experiences for our guests.”

The Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Awards name the best cruise ships of the year and are based entirely on consumer reviews of cruises taken in 2014 that were posted to the Cruise Critic website. The awards are broken into three ship classes based on passenger capacity (large with 2,000-plus passengers, mid-size with 1,200 to 1,999 passengers, and small with 1,199 or fewer passengers) and they are calculated using the ratings submitted in each Cruise Critic member review.

“Being named to this list of winners is one of the highest forms of praise cruise lines can receive,” said Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic. “The awards represent the compilation of thousands of reviews Cruise Critic received over the past year, so it’s truly representative of the experiences of those who have sailed on the ships firsthand.”

Best Dining (large-ship category) for ms Nieuw Amsterdam

All of the fine dining options on Nieuw Amsterdam contributed to the win for Best Dining, including (clockwise from top) Canaletto, Le Cirque in the Pinnacle grill and the main dining room.

All of the fine dining options on Nieuw Amsterdam contributed to the win for Best Dining, including (clockwise from top) Canaletto, Le Cirque in the Pinnacle Grill and the main dining room.

Dining options are innovative and diverse aboard Holland America Line’s fleet, with each venue highlighted by elegant décor for a one-of-a-kind culinary event. Guests aboard Nieuw Amsterdam can enjoy the sophistication of the main dining room or casual dining at the Lido Restaurant, Dive-In at the Terrace Grill and Slice pizzeria. Alternative restaurants include the award-winning Pinnacle Grill serving favorites from the Pacific Northwest, Canaletto with Italian fare and a recently introduced “small plate” sharing concept and the Asian-inspired Tamarind. All menus are developed by Holland America Line’s award-winning Master Chef Rudi Sodamin, working closely with the line’s team of highly regarded international chefs.

Best Value-for-Money (mid-sized category) for ms Zuiderdam

Zuiderdam was named Best Value for Money.

Zuiderdam was named Best Value for Money.

Carrying 1,916 guests, Zuiderdam is consistently ranked among Holland America Line’s most popular ships. Offering a timeless and refined setting with a cruise experience that is modern, fresh and full of adventure, the ship highlights the line’s signature style of service and exciting itineraries. And from B.B. King’s Blues Club to Dancing with the Stars: At Sea, all of the latest entertainment offerings are showcased onboard.

Best Caribbean Cruises and Best Cruises from Florida for Nieuw Amsterdam

Half Moon Cay is one of the many beautiful calls on Nieuw Amsterdam's Caribbean cruises.

Half Moon Cay is one of the many beautiful calls on Nieuw Amsterdam’s Caribbean cruises.

Sailing seven-day eastern and western Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Nieuw Amsterdam took top honors in both categories for its unique itineraries that sail conveniently from South Florida. Ports of call include various combinations of Key West, Fla.; Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico; Grand Cayman; Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas; and Half Moon Cay, the line’s award-winning private island in the Bahamas. Back-to-back seven-day itineraries can be combined to form an extensive 14-day Caribbean Collectors’ Voyage.

Cruise Critic is the world’s leading cruise review website and online cruise community, with more than 100,000 cruise reviews covering approximately 500 cruise ships.

What award would you give to Holland America Line if you could give one? Tell us in the comments!

History and Old World charm come to life on intimate ports in Europe, like Kotor, Montenegro.
History and Old World charm come to life on intimate ports in Europe, like Kotor, Montenegro.

When Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam explore Europe this summer and fall, both Signature-Class ships will set sail on longer journeys that visit some of the most charming, quaint and lesser-known ports in the region. These itineraries were recently added to the ships’ line-up to add more comprehensive options and to extend the season into the fall when the temperature falls slightly and the crowds diminish … making it an ideal time to visit.

Guests who want to also visit marquee destinations such as Stockholm, Sweden; St. Petersburg, Russia; Venice, Italy; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Barcelona, Spain, need not worry. Those popular jewels are still on the routes. But what makes these itineraries so alluring is that they feature the perfect combination of famous capitals and off-the-beathen-path ports that are on the verge of discovery but still retain their old-world style and ambiance.

From northern Europe to the Mediterranean, join us and explore our picks for the most exciting lesser-known ports on these incredible itineraries.

DRAMATIC LANDSCAPES AWAIT IN NORTHERN EUROPE

Invergordon (Inverness), Scotland
While you might not have heard of Inverness, you probably know about this charming port’s most famous resident … the Loch Ness Monster. Those who are interested can go in search of the monster at splendid Loch Ness — Britain’s deepest freshwater lake — whose murky depths inspire lurid tales of fantastical creatures. The Loch Ness, Water Monsters & Highland Castles tour features Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, Culloden Battlefield and Cawdor Castle — a truly beautiful, traditional medieval castle with exceptionally lovely gardens.

Lock Ness is 23 miles long and only a mile wide. Its deepest point in 754 feet and it contains more fresh water than England and Wales combined.

Lock Ness is 23 miles long and only a mile wide. Its deepest point in 754 feet and it contains more fresh water than England and Wales combined.

Yet, it’s not all about Nessie. Those who are looking to explore Scottish culture can learn about whiskey on a visit to the distillery that produces Glenmorangie, one of Scotland’s favorite malt whiskies. And photographers will relish in the opportunity to capture the Scottish Highlands — indisputably one of the most picturesque and photogenic areas in the U.K. — with the aid of a professional photographer on the Photographic Expedition in the Scottish Highlands tour.

Stavanger, Norway
While Olso and Geiranger are better known Norwegian destinations, Stavanger is a port that’s one of the most beautiful and memorable. Guests might have seen images of Pulpit Rock but not known where to find this iconic location. The answer is Lysefjord, which is accessible from Stavanger. This natural wonder juts out more than 1,500 feet above the sea, and on the Lysefjord: Pulpit Rock Cruise tour guests are able to cruise under it!

Pulpit Rock is one of the most scenic natural wonders in Norway.

Pulpit Rock is one of the most scenic natural wonders in Norway.

Guest Grams said:

The best fjord viewing of the cruise. Although the Ryndam does cruise near to Pulpit Rock, there were other “up close” moments that made this tour worth the money.

Guests who want to climb the rock can do so on the Pulpit Rock Hike Tour. To reach the Pulpit Rock involves a two-hour hike through a variety of different landscapes includeing mountain, forest and marsh with some lovely ponds along the way. The last 600 yards are quite spectacular as you walk along a narrow path with steep cliffs on one side and the Lysefjord far below on the other. Finally, upon arrival at the Pulpit Rock, guests can enjoy fantastic scenery and view the Lysefjord some 1,500 feet below.

Portree (Isle of Skye), Scotland
The mountainous Isle of Skye provides breathtaking vistas from nearly every destination. The largest town on Skye, this port’s harbor is fringed by steep cliffs, and the town’s Gaelic heritage is evident in the local attractions. Harry Potter fans will recognize that the town is home to the fictional Pride of Portree. Everything is a short stroll away within Portree, and nearby Glasgow provides further opportunities for exploration. Visit Dunvegan Castle, stronghold of the Chiefs of MacLeod for nearly 800 years, or Iconic Eilean Donan Castle and the West Highlands. Guest Jeanne had this to say:

There’s plenty of time to visit the castle and roam around the grounds on your own. The guide was very knowledgeable about his land. The scenic drive was awesome.

For the rest of the itinerary details, click HERE.

THE BALTIC BECKONS

In addition to Norway and the British Isles, Eurodam heads to the Baltic next summer. These lovely ports enhance the itineraries, showing the culture and traditions of this stunningly beautiful part of the world.

Tallinn is among the most charming ports in the Baltic.

Tallinn is among the most charming ports in the Baltic.

Tallinn, Estonia
Toompea, the old town, is a thicket of turrets, spires, and onion domes that overlooks the rest of Tallinn and the Gulf of Finland. From the brilliantly preserved All-linn (the lower town) to Pirita — site of the 1980 Olympic Games — there’s so much to see and do at Tallinn. Guests can explore the 16th-century ruins of St. Bridget’s Convent, see the walls and towers that surround the Old Town area, and admire the architecture of St. Kaarli’s Church and the Estonian Opera & Ballet Theater.

For the active adventurer, the Countryside Cycling & A Stroll Through the Old Town tour goes through a forest park on the coast and the picturesque area of Kakumae.

Kiel, Germany
While you might have heard of the Kiel Canal that links the North Sea at Brunsbüttel to the Baltic Sea at Kiel-Holtenau, did you know that Kiel also is a city in Germany? In fact, it’s Germany’s largest passenger port. Offering the perfect blend of urban charm, culture and history, Kiel also serves as the gateway for Hamburg, a beautiful port city on the Elbe River. From Kiel, guests can visit A UNESCO World Heritage Site: Medieval Lubeck & its Famous Marzipan.

Enjoy the medieval ambiance of the Altstadt (Old Town) with its well-known Holsten Gate — a landmark of the city and one of the few relics of the original fortress. Pass the Gothic Rathaus (City Hall), among the oldest in Germany, and one of the first old age homes in Germany — the Heiligen Geist Hospital. See Buddenbrooks House, home of the famous writers Heinrich and Thomas Mann, and admire some of the city’s 82 quaint alleyways.

Guest Dobo highly recommends the tour:

The trip to Lubeck was so interesting. It is not a strenuous trip, as there is plenty of opportunity to rest with walking distances quite short. Our local guide, Yan, was absolutely fantastic! He was knowledgeable, interesting, enthusiastic, and eager to answer individual questions. As he had chosen Lubeck as his home, he had learned a great deal of its history and could tell us stories about the buildings. This was one of our best tours on the trip. We would recommend others to take advantage of this tour and learn about the history of this area, the Hanseatic League, construction methods, and enjoy the local marzipan. Three cheers for Yan!

Visit these ports and more on the Baltic Adventure cruise.

VISIT THE MEDITERRANEAN IN THE FALL

The Europe season has been extended for Nieuw Amsterdam to give guests more options into the fall. It’s the perfect time of year to visit the region, with less tourists and cooler temperatures. Many of the itineraries explore several countries, making it easy for guests to unpack only once while seeing multiple destinations. Imagine waking up in a new country each day, easily traveling from port to port by cruise ship. These smaller ports make the voyage all the more memorable.

Kotor, Montenegro
Kotor is located along one of Montenegro’s most beautiful bays. First settled during the days of ancient Rome, the city today has a well preserved urban center with a vibrant community. Medieval architecture and numerous monuments of cultural heritage have made Kotor a UNESCO listed “World Natural and Historical Heritage Site.” To learn about the city, the Traditional Montenegro tour is an immersive experience.

Kotor is a must-see port on the Mediterranean cruises.

Kotor is a must-see port on the Mediterranean cruises.

In the old village of Lastva, enjoy a brief walking tour to visit a local house and the St. Maria Church. Learn about olive oil production and enjoy a snack of homemade bread, smoked ham, cheese and wine. On display is an exhibition of traditional arts and crafts, and watch a folklore performance by a local group. On returning to Kotor, stop to explore the city that is known as the jewel of Montenegro. The guide will take you on a walking tour that will include a visit to St Triphon’s Cathedral. Guest JerseyGirl praised the tour:

This tour should not be missed. The only difference is that they now have a little hall where they serve the refreshments and do the folklore performance. You will leave this tour feeling that you have seen something that will be a treasured memory. I have never meet such friendly people. Bring your camera and movie camera too!

Salerno, Italy
An attractive Italian city location in the region of Campania, Salerno is a popular destination and a gateway to the beautiful Amalfi Coast. In addition to beautiful beaches for guests who simply want to soak up the sun, visitors can journey to Positano, Capri, Amalfi and the lost city of Pompeii.

Roman emperors such as Caesar Augustus and Tiberius vacationed on the island of Capri, and the magnificent remains of their Roman villas remain today. Capri is a popular destination for artists and jet-setting travelers, although it’s known for its quaint charm and beautiful landscapes.

Gorgeous Capri is known for its chic vibe and stunning scenery.

Gorgeous Capri is known for its chic vibe and stunning scenery.

Pompeii is probably the most well-known of the attractions. Perfectly preserved since the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79, guests learn what the residents were doing at the time of the eruption and gain an insight into the lives of the ancient Romans as you discover baths, theatres, temples, markets and the huge forum.

Alicante, Spain
A dynamic Spanish city with an abundance of attractions, Alicante is a juxtaposition of old-world charm and a busy, buzzy vibe. Modernity runs alongside tradition, and visitors can still find very traditional villages tucked away in the mountains. It’s also known to have some of the best cuisine in Spain. The unbeatable rice dishes are the most typical dish from Alicante.

Alicante features beautiful scenery and amazing cuisine.

Alicante features beautiful scenery and amazing cuisine.

If you want to learn about the area, set out to visit The Castle of Santa Barbara, a 12th century fortress that sits on Mount Benacantil in the center of Alicante. There’s also Iglesia de Santa Maria, a cathedral in a gothic style that was built in the 14th and 16th century over the remains of an old Moorish Mosque. And the co-cathedral of St. Nicholas is the main church in Alicante and exhibits a striking combination of baroque and renaissance features. The Gravina Palace is located in the Old Town of Alicante and is home to the Gravina Museum of Fine Arts. Built between 1748 and 1808, it houses a rich collection of Spanish artworks.

These ports are featured on the 19-day Gems of the Mediterranean cruise that explores seven countries on one itinerary and includes an overnight at Barcelona.

EIGHT SHIPS EXPLORE THE MEDITERRANEAN IN 2015
In addition to these new voyages, Holland America Line will have eight ships in the region for Summer 2015. The Europe cruises continue to focus on destination diversity, timeless appeal and high-quality experiences. The ships explore the entire region on itineraries that include northern Europe and the Norwegian fjords, Iceland and the Baltic; the British Isles; Canary Islands; Italian and French rivieras; Iberian Peninsula; Black Sea; the eastern and western Mediterranean; and transatlantics.

If you’re taking a cruise that visits these ports, you can pre-booked shore excursions so you get the tour of your choice.

Will you head to Europe in 2015? Tell us which off-the-beaten-path port you’re looking forward to visiting in the comments below.

To-date, the line's "On Deck" programs have raised $4 million for cancer support.
To-date, the line's "On Deck" programs have raised $4 million for cancer support.

In honor of #GivingTuesday today, Holland America Line is announcing that its “On Deck for a Cause” shipboard giving program has raised $600,000 since its inception in 2013. The funds benefit six international cancer organizations located in the United States, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Germany and United Kingdom.

To date, Holland America Line has raised a total of $4 million through the combined efforts of On Deck for a Cause and the previous On Deck for a Cure shipboard giving program that raised funds for Susan G. Komen for the Cure from April 2006 through February 2013.

On Deck for a Cause invites guests to participate in a noncompetitive 5k fundraising walk on every sailing aboard each of the line’s 15 ships, with proceeds distributed among the American Cancer Society, Canadian Cancer Society, Cancer Council Australia, Cancer Research UK, Deutsche Krebshilfe (German Cancer Aid) and KWF Kankerbestrijding (Dutch Cancer Society).

Guests of all ages are invited to donate $20 to the Holland America Line Foundation, with a minimum of 80 percent ($16) distributed to the organizations. The remaining 20 percent covers program and administrative expenses. On a day at sea, participants join in a 5k walk around the ship’s decks. Guests may walk less or not at all, as they prefer. Participants also receive an On Deck for a Cause T-shirt, wristband and a reception following the walk. Depending on the ship, the distance to reach 5k ranges from nine to 12 laps.

By the end of 2014, nearly 500 On Deck for a Cause events will have been held across the Holland America Line fleet, with walks taking place on cruises globally on cruises to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, South Pacific, Alaska’s Inside Passage, Mexico, Asia, the Baltic, Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and South America.

In addition to On Deck for a Cause, Holland America Line shoreside staff and shipboard officers, staff and crew participate in giving events throughout the year.

Fundraising for Cancer Information and Support Centre in Jakarta
By Hotel Director Henk Mensink

CancerCollage

While ms Amsterdam called at Tanjung Priok (Jakarta) this Grand Voyage, we collaborated with Wielly Wahyudin to welcome him and CISC onboard.

Wielly Wahyudin is one of the members of CISC, as well as our former Amsterdam shipboard colleague and our previous Crew Officer, who was forced to retire due to a sudden onset of cancer. Wielly now is a proud survivor and brought with him several other survivors to display and sell hand-made batik merchandise, also made by fellow cancer survivors. The proceeds of all sales totaled $1,500 and will benefit a CISC halfway house for cancer patients.

Westerdam Crew Helps Repair School Hit by Hurricane Odile
By Hotel Director Mark Pells

WEDMCollage

In September, Hurricane Odile devastated the Mexican port city of Cabo San Lucas – a popular call on Holland America Line’s Mexican Riviera cruises. True to their resilient nature, residents in the area started rebuilding right away to be able to welcome back tourists and cruise ship guests.

Cruise lines were asked to donate what they could. However, officers and crew aboard ms Westerdam decided to take things one step further and use their manpower and resources to make a difference right away. They contacted the local tour operators from Tropical Tours and, together with the port agent, made plans to identify and help out those in need when Westerdam called at Cabo in October.

It was decided that the Amelia Wilkes Primary School, which also caters to special needs students, was the best fit. In a true example of “Team Together, Team Apart,” the Deck Department provided painting supplies and a private tender, the Technical Department collected money to replace lost courtyard awnings and the Hotel Department organized more than 60 volunteers to handle all of the labor. Onboard, support teams packed up sandwiches and refreshments to feed those who would be working in the 100-degree-plus weather.

Buses were arranged for the trip to the school, where the group found that several classrooms had been at least partially exposed to the elements. Everything, even the courtyard, was given a fresh coat of paint – with a few special touches from the Westerdam crew in the form of painted handprints: a creative way to show how honored crew were to lend a hand to the boys and girls from Cabo San Lucas.

Nieuw Amsterdam Crew Members Aid Refugees in Greece
By Hotel Director Marco van Belleghem

Hotel Director Marco van Belleghem, far left, and Assistant Housekeeper Savio DSilva, third from right, with a rescue worker and refugees in Mytilene.

Hotel Director Marco van Belleghem, far left, and Assistant Housekeeper Savio DSilva, third from right, with a rescue worker and refugees in Mytilene.

Crew members from ms Nieuw Amsterdam encountered hundreds of international refugees in the island city of Mytilene, Lesbos, off the coast of Greece when the ship docked there Oct. 9. Naturally they wanted to help, and so they organized a delivery of food and personal items to the island. Crew aboard Nieuw Amsterdam quickly rallied to provide sandwiches, fruit, drinks, blankets and towels for as many people as they could.

“The rescue worker was so appreciative, and we were glad we could do something for these people, who literally have nothing,” said Hotel Director Marco van Belleghem. “We see the situation in these countries on TV every day. But to witness it in real life and see these people who have fled their countries out of fear for their lives hits you hard and makes you realize we have a very good life.”

Holland America Line is honored to be a part of so many giving efforts and to celebrate #GivingTuesday.

Holland America Line's 2015 Europe season brings new itineraries, maiden calls, and plenty of exciting options.
Holland America Line's 2015 Europe season brings new itineraries, maiden calls, and plenty of exciting options.

Holland America Line’s 2015 Europe season is shaping up to be one of the best yet. With eight ships in the region, 62 unique itineraries, overnight visits to 21 of the most popular cities in the region and four maiden calls, the numbers add up to the perfect time to explore this incredible continent. Whether you want to take in some history, culture, famous sights or all of the above, travelers have more options than ever before.

The season will focus on diverse destinations, timeless appeal and incredible experiences. The itineraries — ranging from seven to 50 days — will include northern Europe and the Norwegian fjords, Iceland and the Baltic, the British Isles, Canary Islands, Italian and French Riviera’s, Iberian Peninsula, Black Sea, the eastern and western Mediterranean, and transatlantics.

Enjoy more of destinations with overnight calls at places like St. Petersburg, Russia, and Copenhagen, Denmark.

Enjoy more of destinations with overnight calls at places like St. Petersburg and Copenhagen.

The diverse fleet that will explore the region includes ms Eurodam and ms Nieuw Amsterdam — Holland America Line’s two Signature-Class ships — as well as ms Maasdam, ms Prinsendam, ms Rotterdam, ms Ryndam and ms Veendam. New to Europe in 2015 is the 1,916-guest ms Zuiderdam, which will sail in the Mediterranean.

“Having eight ships in Europe enables us to reach every corner of the region — from the top of Norway to the beaches of Turkey and everywhere in between,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs. “The beauty of Europe is that there truly is something for everyone, so it’s the ideal family cruise, romantic getaway or a vacation with friends.”

If you love “collecting” new destinations, these four maiden calls are ideal to visit in 2015: Alta, Norway, the northernmost town in the world; Paamiut (Frederikshåb), Greenland; Igoumenitsa, Greece; and Canakkale, Turkey.

Guests will have plenty of embarkation options with convenient roundtrip cruises from eight ports: Barcelona, Spain; Boston, Mass.; Civitavecchia (Rome) and Venice, Italy; Copenhagen, Denmark; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Harwich (London), England; and Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

For the ultimate European experience, many of the cruises can be extended into Collectors’ Voyages ranging from 14 to 35 days. These artfully crafted longer journeys combine back-to-back itineraries, enabling guests to visit more ports and spend extra time exploring centuries of art, history and culture.

Funchal, Portugal, is one of the Iberian Peninsula's most stunning destinations.

Funchal, Portugal, is one of the Iberian Peninsula’s most stunning destinations.

Notable New Itineraries:

18-Day Canary Islands Discovery
The popular itinerary returns in 2015 on Rotterdam departing April 21 on a roundtrip Rotterdam route. The ship visits the island of Funchal and explores ports in Spain, Portugal and northern Africa. Guests also enjoy an overnight call at Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the largest and most diverse city on all seven of the Canary Islands, and home to the largest volcano in the world — El Teide.

21-Day Mediterranean Adventure
If you’re looking to sail Ryndam in Europe before the ship departs the fleet, this cruise is your last chance. Ryndam sails from Harwich (London) to Venice Sept. 12, visiting ports in Spain and Portugal before venturing into the Mediterranean Sea. Once there, guests are treated to calls at exciting cities in Italy, Greece, Croatia and Montenegro. Guests with less time can embark on a segment of this three-week journey ranging from 10 to 20 days. Following this cruise, the ship sets sail for Singapore on its last voyage for Holland America Line, a 28-day Far East Explorer.

The 21-day Mediterranean Adventure let's you get up close with some of the region's most stunning landmarks, including San Marco's Basilica in Venice, the Colosseum in Rome, the Leaning Tower of Pisa from Livorna and Pompeii in Naples.

The 21-day Mediterranean Adventure let’s you get up close with some of the region’s most stunning landmarks, including San Marco’s Basilica in Venice, the Colosseum in Rome, the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy and Pompeii in Naples.

14-Day Northern Isles
Ryndam departs June 20 and August 1 on a roundtrip Harwich (London) itinerary that showcases the best of Iceland with six calls throughout the country, as well as three calls in Norway. In addition to visits to key “bucket list” ports such as Iceland’s Reykjavik and Akureyri, and Norway’s Bergen, the ship spends three days of scenic cruising through some of the region’s most striking fjords and landscapes.

See why Reykjavik (top) and Akureyri are on almost everyone's bucket list.

See why Reykjavik (top) and Akureyri are on almost everyone’s bucket list.

Unique Experiences:

Holland America Line’s Europe itineraries enable guests to be among the few to cross the Arctic Circle and experience the midnight sun while visiting some of the northern-most cities in the world. Guests can take a dip in the famous “Blue Lagoon” during a call at Reykjavik, pay a visit to the Rock Carvings at Alta, go on a “seal watch” at Paamiut and look for the seals gathering in the Labrador Sea, or enjoy some local wine and cheese while taking in the stunning vistas from the port citadel at Calvi, Corsica. And on Rotterdam’s 14-day Northern Lights cruise departing September 12, guests will have the best opportunity to witness the Northern Lights.

Culture Comes Aboard with “On Location” Programming

On each Europe cruise, Holland America Line’s “On Location” enrichment program brings local traditions, culinary tastes and cultural experiences to life onboard to deepen guests’ appreciation of the region. Guests might enjoy a Turkish Taraf with live belly dancers, Nordic Jazz and Food Festival, German Bierfest with a live “oompah” band, regional beer and wine tastings, cultural cooking demonstrations, special tapas sail-away parties and more.

If you plan to join Holland America Line in Europe in 2015, don’t forget that shore excursions can be pre-booked so you get the tour of your choice.

Which European ports of call are you most excited to see next year? Tell us in the comments section below!

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Holland America Line is planning special promotions for CLIA Cruise Week which starts today, Oct. 6, and runs through Monday, Oct. 13. Organized by Cruise Lines International Association, the weeklong event features promotions and online opportunities to give consumers a perfect opportunity to book a cruise vacation while taking advantage of special savings.

Throughout the week, Holland America Line will be featuring the exclusive Explore4 promotion on select 2015 and 2016 sailings that provides four added-value extras — a free Signature Beverage Package and free Pinnacle Grill dinner for guests booking an ocean-view and higher category stateroom, free or reduced cruise fares for third and fourth guests in the same stateroom and 50 percent reduced deposits. Suite bookings also receive a $300 onboard spending credit per stateroom ($150 per person) and a free Canaletto dinner in addition to the other four offers.

Explore4

“Each year CLIA Cruise Week highlights cruising as a vacation choice, and we are celebrating by offering special promotions to entice travelers to book their dream vacation,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs for Holland America Line. “By combining the Explore4 offer and an onboard spending credit, guests can get an exceptional rate this week on a Holland America Line cruise.”

Guests looking to take advantage of the Explore4 program can choose select itineraries to nearly all of Holland America Line’s global destinations, including Alaska and Alaska/Yukon Land+Sea Journeys, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Bermuda, Canada/New England, Caribbean, Europe, Mexico/Hawaii, Panama Canal and South America.

Travelers making a booking on select 2014 through 2016 cruises during the week also receive a special CLIA Cruise Week onboard spending credit, depending on the length of the cruise and type of cabin booked. Guests can receive up to a $400 per stateroom ($200 per person) onboard spending credit in addition to all four Explore4 offers, when applicable. For example, guests who book a suite on 10- to 14-day cruises receive a $300 per stateroom ($150 per person) onboard spending credit.

With the onboard credit, guests can use it toward a variety of options. From a pampering massage in the spa to an exciting shore excursion ashore, from dinner in the Pinnacle Grill to a souvenir at the gift shop, the credit can be put toward several of the amenities found onboard.

The Explore4 Onboard Credit can be used toward a variety of options like the spa, gift shop, tours and drinks.

The Explore4 Onboard Credit can be used toward a variety of options like the spa, gift shop, tours and drinks.

Eligible Explore4 Cruises
If you’re looking to explore Alaska, perhaps the seven-day roundtrip Vancouver, British Canada, cruise in 2015 is the one for you. Along the way, enjoy scenic cruising in the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay, as well as calls at Tracy Arm, Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan.

If Australia and New Zealand are on your bucket list, the 28-day Pacific Treasures and New Zealand Collectors’ Voyage that sails roundtrip Sydney, Australia, would be the perfect cruise to see the whole region. Departing in January 2016, Noordam heads to the South Pacific islands of New Caledonia, , and Fiji before making eight calls in New Zealand. Guests will enjoy an overnight at Auckland and scenic cruising through Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park.

Explore Sydney, Fiji and Auckland on the 28-day Pacific Treasures Collectors' Voyage.

Explore Sydney, Fiji and Auckland on the 28-day Pacific Treasures Collectors’ Voyage.

Tropical breezes and golden beaches await on a seven-day eastern Caribbean cruise aboard Nieuw Amsterdam. Sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the ship calls at Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.; and Half Moon Cay, the line’s private island in the Bahamas.

The Baltic beckons on the seven-day Vikings Saga Explore4 sailing aboard Rotterdam. Sailing roundtrip from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, the ship explores the majestic fjord and magical landscapes in Norway, and makes calls at Flam, Ulvik, Stavanger, Kristiansand, with scenic cruising in Sognjefjord.

For the ultimate South America exploration, the 38-day South America & Inca Discovery voyage begins at Buenos Aires, Argentina, and makes way up to Vancouver. Zaandam calls at ports in Uruguay, the Falkland Islands, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Mexico and California before ending in Canada. Guest enjoy scenic cruising in the Beagle Channel, Exploring Glacier Alley, rounding Cape Horn, and overnights at Buenos Aires; Callao, Peru; and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

The South America adventure explores several ports, including Buenos Aires and Callo, the gateway to Machu Picchu.

The South America adventure explores several ports, including Buenos Aires and Callo, the gateway to Machu Picchu.

Other destinations are included in the Explore4 promotion, so be sure to check out the itineraries to Mexico and Hawaii, the Panama Canal, Mediterranean, Bermuda, South America and Canada and New England.

Will you be booking your next Holland America Line cruise during National Cruise Vacation Week? Tell us which itineraries you’re choosing below!

The Caribbean boasts some of the finest snorkeling opportunities in the world.
The Caribbean boasts some of the finest snorkeling opportunities in the world.

It’s all about sun, sand and surf as Holland America Line gets ready to sail into the 2014-15 Caribbean season this fall and winter. After spending time in Alaska and Europe, nine ships in the fleet are preparing to make their repositioning cruises to the turquoise waters of the tropical Caribbean where powdery beaches, balmy breezes and the award-winning private island of Half Moon Cay await.

From October 2014 through April 2015, ms Eurodam, ms Maasdam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Noordam, ms Ryndam, ms Westerdam and ms Zuiderdam sail regular Caribbean voyages, while ms Amsterdam and ms Prinsendam each sail one December holiday cruise in the region. The ships feature more than 10 different seven-, 10-, 11- and 14-day itineraries that can be combined into longer Collectors’ Voyages ranging from 14 to 25 days.

On all cruises sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, guests will get to visit Half Moon Cay, the line’s private Bahamian island. While Holland America Line is committed to keeping 96 percent of its pristine private island wild, Half Moon Cay offers everything you need for a day of play. Park yourself in an air-conditioned cabana along a two-mile crescent of gorgeous white beach. Visit Stingray Cove to feed and learn more about the gentle creatures. Ride a horse to a deserted beach and into the surf. Or, take the kids to Half Moon Lagoon, the island’s aqua park and children’s playground.

All roundtrip Fort Lauderdale itineraries include a call at Half Moon Cay (top), the line's private island. Other calls may include St. Thomas, bottom right, and Grand Cayman.

All roundtrip Fort Lauderdale itineraries include a call at Half Moon Cay (top), the line’s private island. Other calls may include St. Thomas, bottom right, and Grand Cayman.

Roundtrip Fort Lauderdale Itineraries
During the season, Eurodam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, Westerdam and Zuiderdam will sail a series of seven-day eastern and western Caribbean itineraries that can be combined to form a 14-day Collectors’ Voyage spanning both regions. Maasdam sails seven- and 10-day eastern routes, as well as longer 11- and 14-day southern itineraries. Noordam also features 10- and 11-day southern Caribbean cruises ideal for guests looking for a longer vacation.

Are you ready to sink your toes into the warm golden sand?

Are you ready to sink your toes into the warm golden sand?

In addition to the 14-day Collectors’ Voyages, the itineraries can be combined to form a diverse range of options, including an 18-day southern and western cruise on Noordam, a 21-day southern and eastern option on Maasdam and a 25-day nonrepeating double-southern route on Maasdam.

New for 2015, Noordam, Eurodam and Ryndam have added more dates to their already-robust schedules, giving guests expanded options to choose from.

Grand Turk is known to have some of the clearest waters in the world.

Grand Turk is known to have some of the clearest waters in the world.

Roundtrip Tampa Itineraries
Ryndam spends the Caribbean season cruising roundtrip from Tampa on seven-day western and 14-day southern itineraries. The two options can be combined to form a 21-day western/southern Caribbean Collectors’ Voyage. The ship makes a maiden call at Banana Coast, Honduras, and also visits Puerto Rico, Antigua, St. Lucia, Aruba, Curaçao, Guatemala, Mexico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Key West, Fla.

Tampa itineraries visit ports in (from left) Aruba, Guatemala and Curacao.

Tampa itineraries visit ports in (from left) Aruba, Guatemala and Curacao.

Celebrate the Season with a Festive Holiday Cruise
For travelers who like to get away from the hustle, stress and chill of December, the holiday season is a special time onboard. A total of 15 holiday sailings will ply the warm waters of the Caribbean on itineraries ranging from seven to 25 days. Several non-repeating itineraries can be combined to form a grand Holiday Collectors’ Voyage.

Guests looking to explore the Caribbean on Prinsendam and Amsterdam during the holidays can embark on their only Caribbean sailings of the season. Prinsendam leaves Dec. 18 on a roundtrip Fort Lauderdale cruise to the southern Caribbean. The 16-day itinerary includes 10 ports and stretches from Half Moon Cay to Tobago. Departing Dec. 22, Amsterdam sails a roundtrip Fort Lauderdale cruise on a 14-day southern Caribbean cruise.

During the holiday cruises, guests can take part in a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, enjoy traditional holiday meals with all of the trimmings and indulge in a special Royal Dutch High Tea with fanciful holiday cookies and pastries. The ships’ international crew chorus performs a magical holiday show, while caroling and sing-alongs take place around the ship. Kids will delight in a visit from Santa Clause and holiday-themed crafts.

holiday

The New Year’s Eve sailings are the ideal setting to ring in a new year, featuring a festive holiday ball with a champagne toast. Prior to the ball, book a special evening at the Pinnacle Grill to celebrate all of the good things to come over a meal of caviar and filet mignon. You can pre-book your Pinnacle Grill dinner by clicking HERE.

So whether you’re looking to get away for the holidays, or just get away, the laid-back vibe, warm weather and beautiful beaches of the Caribbean are the ideal escape this winter.

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Have you taken a Caribbean cruise? What did you like best about the destination? Tell us in the comments below!

A new Flamenco show at Tenerife highlights the "On Location" enrichment program.
A new Flamenco show at Tenerife highlights the "On Location" enrichment program.

Part of the “On Location” enrichment program is bringing local culture and entertainment onboard each cruise. In Hawaii that might mean hula dancers or a ukulele player and in the eastern Mediterranean guests might be entertained by bellydancers.
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