Tag Archives: ms Oosterdam

A group from Fanning Island's Latta Moreaai Kindergarten School pose with HR Manager Christopher Houghton and HR Clerk Hempry Hartono.
A group from Fanning Island's Latta Moreaai Kindergarten School pose with HR Manager Christopher Houghton and HR Clerk Hempry Hartono.

Holland America Line ships sail to all seven continents and explore the world’s oceans. During our global adventures we visit hundreds of ports and our guests are warmly welcomed into those communities. So it is with great pride that whenever necessary we help those communities when in need.

Holland America Line recently participated in some great acts of giving around the world, providing supplies and monetary relief to communities in need.

Aid Delivered to the Island of Vanuatu

In April during a scheduled call at Port Villa, Vanuatu, in the South Pacific, Oosterdam delivered much-needed supplies to the island, which was ravaged by Cyclone Pam in March.

Not only did Oosterdam collect donations and supplies from guests and crew, it also carried essential goods on behalf of Save the Pacific Foundation. The organization had supplies to be delivered and needed a way to get them to Vanuatu from Sydney, so they coordinated the relief effort with Carnival Australia and Holland America Line. Oosterdam was making a scheduled call — the only ship calling at Vanuatu departing from Sydney in the next two months — and agreed to carry the supplies to the island.

Oosterdam delivered several palates to aid the people of Vanuatu.

Oosterdam delivered several palates to aid the people of Vanuatu.

Included in the eight pallets from Save the Pacific Foundation were medical supplies, clothing, bed linens, shelter tarps and tents, gumboots, work tools for rebuilding and food such as whole milk powder, rice and cans of basic items.

The ship also collected monetary donations and goods from guests and crew who wanted to help, and delivered additional pallets that included canned goods, insect repellent and personal hygiene items.

Earthquake Relief Efforts in Nepal

Last month Carnival Corporation teamed with several of its global cruise brands to pledge $200,000 to relief efforts in Nepal in the wake of April’s devastating earthquake. Carnival Corporation worked through Mercy Corps, the Disaster Emergency Committee and Save the Children to support on the ground teams distributing emergency supplies and aiding rebuilding efforts targeting the most affected families in Kathmandu and surrounding areas.

Carnival Corporation’s support will help the three organizations provide access to shelter supplies, food, water and hygiene supplies, support the operations of the Nepal Red Cross and ultimately assist families in rebuilding their lives after initial life-saving needs are met.

P & O Cruises UK and Cunard Line provided a significant portion of the donation out of the companies’ offices in the United Kingdom. Likewise, Carnival Cruise Line, Seabourn and Holland America Line combined to donate the majority of the funds in North America in coordination with Carnival Foundation, the company’s philanthropic organization.

Amsterdam Raises Money for Children in Myanmar

During Amsterdam’s 2015 Grand World Voyage, guests participated in a silent auction to raise money for the Smile Education and Development Foundation (SEDF) in Myanmar. SEDF benefits many organizations to help children at risk.

Organized by Culinary Arts Center Host Samantha Seyfert, the silent auction featured donated items from all departments, including a Grand World Voyage navigational map hand-signed by Captain Jonathan Mercer and the ship’s officers. The auction also featured dozens of hand-knit items donated by guests participating in the Sit & Knit gatherings, watercolor paintings donated by guests in the watercolor class, and items from the arts and crafts class.

Myanmar604

Children at the Rattana Metta Foundation performed during one of SEDF’s workshops while ms Amsterdam was in port March 11.

March 10 Amsterdam called at Yangon (formerly Rangoon) for two nights and SEDF representatives came on board for lunch and a tour of the ship. Samantha presented SEDF Director Virginia Henderson with $7,000 raised from the auction. Children at the Rattana Metta Foundation performed during one of SEDF’s workshops while ms Amsterdam was still alongside March 11.

Statendam Makes a Big Donation to the Kids of Fanning Island

On April 25, ms Statendam called at remote Fanning Island in the South Pacific Republic of Kiribati. Crew members delivered 45 boxes of school supplies, clothes and sporting equipment to the Fanning Island school committee. Over the past 18 months, Statendam has visited the island several times to bring a total of 200 boxes of much-needed supplies donated by guests and crew.

Kindergarten School Teacher Owati Kettrii oversees the children while Human Resources Manager Christopher Houghton gives them each a Statendam blow-up toy.

Kindergarten School Teacher Owati Kettrii oversees the children while Human Resources Manager Christopher Houghton gives them each a Statendam blow-up toy.

As the needs arise, Holland America Line will continue to help our global friends whenever possible.

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!

OODM

Holland America Line topped the list in 2014 for the World’s Leading Weather Observing Cruise Ship Companies who submitted weather information to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Holland America Line fleet of 15 ships sent in a combined total of 22,281 observations during the year, landing them at number one. Holland America Line also was at the top of the list in 2008 and 2006, and individual ships excelled in past years — as featured on the blog.

Among individual cruise ships that sent in information, ms Oosterdam lead the Holland America Line fleet with 2,858 observations. Amsterdam, ms Volendam, ms Zaandam and ms Zuiderdam also were listed among the top 10 of all individual cruise ship observations.

Clockwise from top left: Zaandam, Volendam, Zuiderdam and Amsterdam also were listed among the top 10 weather observing ships.

Clockwise from top left: Zaandam, Volendam, Zuiderdam and Amsterdam also were listed among the top 10 weather observing ships.

“Our ships travel oceans all over the world through all types of weather, and it’s an honor to help support a process that affects hundreds of millions of people globally,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “With our ships face to face with the weather patterns and conditions that can help meteorologists predict global forecasts, we feel that it’s our duty to report our findings.”

Despite the presence of weather satellites and many ground stations, regular weather reports from ships are still of great value to meteorological and hydrological services around the world preparing daily weather predictions. These weather reports also provide important climatological data to the World Weather Information Service of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Congrats to everyone onboard who contributed to this honor.

A cruise to Antarctica is full of memorable moments.
A cruise to Antarctica is full of memorable moments.

It’s Black Friday in the United States, the day after Thanksgiving when consumers go out en masse to ramp up their holiday shopping. To celebrate this unofficial holiday, here is a list of the Top 8 cruises you should go out and book today — dream itineraries around the world that would make the ultimate gift this holiday season.

1. Two Maiden Calls in the Mediterranean

Canakkale, left, and Igoumenitsa are two maiden calls in 2015. Photos courtesy of goturkey.com and igoumenitsa.gr.

Canakkale, left, and Igoumenitsa are two maiden calls in 2015. Photos courtesy of goturkey.com and igoumenitsa.gr.

The 28-day Mediterranean & Black Sea Explorer cruise on ms Prinsendam has not one, but two maiden calls for 2015. New to Holland America Line are the ports of Igoumenitsa, Greece, and Canakkale, Turkey, both found on this extended journey. Departing Sept. 28, 2015, the cruise explores the Mediterranean at an ideal time of year, when the climate cools and crowds diminish. The ship departs Barcelona, Spain, and in addition to the two maiden ports it makes 20 calls at ports in France, Corsica, Sardinia, Italy, Albania, Georgia, Russia, the Ukraine and Romania. However, Greece and Turkey take center stage on this voyage with six calls in Greece and five in Turkey, including an overnight at Istanbul and two calls at Kusadasi. The ship also cruises The Dardanelles and features scenic cruising in the Bosporus.

2. Sun, Sand and Surf in the Caribbean

The golden beaches of the Caribbean await.

The golden beaches of the Caribbean await.

On a seven-day western Caribbean cruise aboard ms Nieuw Amsterdam, guests get the best of both worlds: two relaxing days at sea to unwind and enjoy the shipboard amenities, and four glorious ports that showcase the best of the Caribbean. Enjoy Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line’s provate Bahamian retreats; Georgetown, Grand Cayman, with incredible crystalline water; Cozumel, Mexico, steeped in history; and Key West, Fla., the tip of the U.S. boasting an eclectic culture, diverse water sports and an incredible atmosphere. Onboard, take advantage of the time to indulge in a treatment at the Greenhouse Spa, take in a demo at the Culinary Arts Center, learn how to share vacation photos at a Digital Workshop powered by Windows, learn to cha cha at a “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” dance class, catch up on a good book while lounging in a deck chair and so much more.

3. Glaciers Galore from the Sea and Sky

Guests looking for adventure can take the Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier by Helicopter tour in Juneau.

Guests looking for adventure can take the Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier by Helicopter tour in Juneau.

On an Alaska cruise, adventure awaits around every turn. From the stunning scenery viewed during cruising in the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay to incredible shore excursions that allow guests to fly over miles of glaciers or take a dogsled ride across the icy tundra, this gorgeous part of the world is waiting to be explored. On ms Oosterdam’s seven-day Glacier Bay Discovery Southbound itinerary, guests are able to visit both Glacier Bay and the Inside Passage, along with Juneau, Ketchikan and Haines, Alaska.

Guests on the Glacier Point Wilderness Safari tour in Haines take an expedition boat looking for wildlife, as well as a 31-foot voyager canoe to the face of the glacier. From Juneau, the Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier by Helicopter tour combines the thrill of a glacier helicopter tour with the oldest operating dog sled tour company.

Guest Gamma said this of the dog sledding tour:

Most awesome adventure of my life. Incredible weather, fantastic staff and thrilling to be riding a dog sled on a GLACIER!!

4. Ancient Gardens, Quiet Shrines and Neon Cities in the Far East

UNESCO World Heritage Site Ayutthaya can be visited from Laem Chabang.

UNESCO World Heritage Site Ayutthaya can be visited from Laem Chabang.

The Far East is a juxtaposition of sights, sounds and flavors. From bustling cities like Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai with vibrant skylines dominated by neon to quite sanctuaries like Koh Samui and Nha Trang with beautiful beaches and quiet charm, this part of the world is full of exotic discoveries that leave a lasting impression. Sailing from Hong Kong to Singapore, the 14-day Far East Discovery cruise on ms Volendam features both major cities and smaller villages with calls in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, including an overnight at Laem Chabang, the port for Bangkok. With extra time, guests can take an overnight tour that shows off the sights and sounds of the region.

5. Antarctica – Journey to the End of the World

A cruise to Antarctica is full of memorable moments.

A cruise to Antarctica is full of memorable moments.

The most remote continent in the world, a cruise to Antarctica is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure filled with more “ohhs” and “ahhhhhs” than you could ever imagine. From penguins gliding across the ice to imposing glaciers that can be seen above and below water, Antarctica is a must-do on every avid traveler’s bucket list. But going to the bottom of the world is just part of the adventure that makes a cruise around Cape Horn special. Prinsendam sails a Grand Voyage circumnavigation of South America in 2015 and 2016. The segment that includes Antarctica sails from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., through the Panama Canal, down the west coast to Peru, Chile and Argentina, then back up the east coast to the Falkland Islands and Uruguay before ending at Buenos Aires.

6. Experience the Fall Foliage in Canada & New England

Fall is a pretty time of year to visit Canada/New England. Photo by Hotel Director Marco van Belleghem.

Fall is a pretty time of year to visit Canada/New England. Photo by Hotel Director Marco van Belleghem.

Imaging sailing along the coast of New England and Canada, seeing the shoreline dotted with grand estates, picturesque lighthouses and of course, the vibrant jewel-toned hues of fall. For anyone who wants to experience gorgeous scenic cruising, delicious local cuisine and the charm and history of a region steeped in tradition, a Canada and New England cruise is the picture-perfect way to see all that this area has to offer. The seven-day Canada & New England Discovery cruise on Maasdam begins at Montreal, Canada, and sails down to Boston, Mass. Guests will enjoy scenic cruising in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with tree-lined shores, as well as calls at Quebec, Syndey and Halifax in Canada, and Bar Harbor, Maine, where the famous lobster roll awaits.

7. Beautiful Bermuda is Back

Bermuda is famous for its pink sand and pastel-colored homes.

Bermuda is famous for its pink sand and pastel-colored homes.

In 2015, ms Veendam will return to the pink sands and pastel-colored skyline of Bermuda with several seven-day roundtrip Boston voyages. With three overnights that include two full days and two half-days, guests will have multiple opportunities to experience Hamilton’s British charm, cultural heritage sites and world-renowned beaches on a variety of shore excursions. From the ship, guests can take a short walk to Front Street and explore its array of colorful shops and restaurants. Hamilton also is home to a massive 19th-century, neo-Gothic cathedral and the Georgian-style Sessions House, built in 1815.

8. G’Day Mate! Take a Cruise Down Under

There's a lot to see and do in Australia, including a visit to the famed Sydney Opera House.

There’s a lot to see and do in Australia, including a visit to the famed Sydney Opera House.

A trip Down Under is an incredible adventure, and there’s no better way to see the entire continent than on a 33-day Circumnavigation aboard Volendam in 2015. Sailing roundtrip from Sydney, the counter-clockwise journey not only explores the Great Barrier Reef, it also makes a quick escape up to Komodo Island and Bali before continuing on around the west coast and back to the starting point. Guests will enjoy an overnight at Perth and unique opportunities along the route to see some of the world’s most iconic sites like the Sydney Opera House and Ayers Rock.

These cruises are just a small selection among the hundreds offered by Holland America Line each year. Whether you seek an an adventure or relaxing vacation, whether you like culture and history or fun and sun, with destinations around the globe in a variety of lengths, there’s something for everyone.

If you could book any cruise on Black Friday, what itinerary would you choose?

Guest Michael McNerney was grateful for Rizi and Ari, who made his cruise to Alaska extra special.
Guest Michael McNerney was grateful for Rizi and Ari, who made his cruise to Alaska extra special.

Cruises offer guests the opportunity to travel to some of the most beautiful places in the world while being treated to caring service and making memories with loved ones. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States, and across the country guests are counting their blessings. In honor of the holiday Holland America Line asked Facebook fans if there was a special crew member, fabulous destination or other Holland America Line experience for which they are grateful.

The question was met with a resounding ‘yes!’ Guests were most thankful for the people that made their experiences so meaningful. Warm memories of exceptional Holland America Line crew members and family gatherings along with anecdotes and images, poured forth. Also noted were the beauty of Venice, heavenly Half Moon Cay, St. Kitts, Hawaii and astounding Alaska.

Photos shared by Mallemolen Poots, Lucy Goei and Greg Krysia Moyle.

Photos shared by Mallemolen Poots, Lucy Goei and Greg Krysia Moyle.

Several guests mentioned Hunky Dorey, the server with a great talent for remembering names, and Jean-Pierre, the unforgettable dining room host on Volendam. Margadana and Yanuar Dwi — among the best dining room managers at sea — Lawrence the charming singing wine steward and Eric Bob the fabulous dining room supervisor were all praised. Some recalled inside jokes and bonding moments with their buddies onboard. Like Mallemolen Poots who wrote,

“Cheers Bouzie Bouzie from ms Rotterdam! He brought me cold beer and always made me laugh! For bouzie: woensdag gehaktdag.”

Lucy Goei mentioned Paulus from housekeeping who is hilarious. Others were thankful for cabin stewards Wisnu, Jay and Putu that dazzled on Nieuw Amsterdam, along with pairs like Mus and Ali who were ‘the greatest’ on the Alaskan Cruise on Statendam, Ari and Kolich from Oosterdam or DJ and Lu from Ryndam who helped to make Darla Isbell’s 50th anniversary cruise more memorable.

Holland America Line and its guests are grateful for the fabulous crew. Ozgur Turnuklu shared this photo of members of the Rotterdam team.

Holland America Line and its guests are grateful for the fabulous crew. Ozgur Turnuklu shared this photo of members of the Rotterdam team.

Sea days are made all the more pleasant thanks to Holland America Line’s professional entertainers. Jazzy Jeff Davis, the DJ that makes cruising fun; Lucky Lee the awesome entertainer from Noordam’s piano bar and David Anthony, the piano bar singer on Prinsendam who Margaret Chute credited with countless hours of good times.

Many echoed the sentiment that the crew on Holland America Line goes above and beyond to make sure their guests are enjoying their vacations.

Emmy Banning said she is grateful for Henry, the waiter on Oosterdam last September who was thoughtful and insightful. Henry went out of his way to accommodate dietary needs and gave special attention to Emmy’s guest that was recovering from a stroke.

“Full marks for Henry!” she said.

Scott and Marty Lara pose with Stan Kuppens, hotel manager, ms Eurodam.

Scott and Marty Lara pose with Stan Kuppens, hotel manager, ms Eurodam.

The hope is that all goes well in travel, but in case of conflict Holland America Line professionals have been known to rise to the occasion. Scott Lara, an avid mariner, mentioned that he was grateful for Stan Kuppens, the hotel director on ms Eurodam. A friend they were traveling with had to cut her trip short due to a medical issue and Mr. Kuppens went the extra mile to help return her to the states. She recovered quickly and Lara maintains a friendship with Mr. Kuppens to this day.

“Last year on the Eurodam on a Canada to Ft Lauderdale repositioning cruise we had to disembark in Bar Harbor due to a family emergency. Our Cabin Steward Putu helped us get off the ship by assisting with our luggage, some pieces were bigger than he was.” – Michael Lewis

Guests were also grateful for the memories made while cruising and the time spent with loved ones on Holland America Line. Touching stories emerged of togetherness, like Rex Parker who said, “As the holiday season comes upon us I keep thinking of my last trip to Alaska in September 2012 on HAL with my parents. We lost my step-dad earlier this year and as I wrap myself in memories the week we spent cruising Alaska on the Westerdam keeps coming to mind as it was such a fun and special trip for all of us enhanced by the wonderful Westerdam staff and crew.”

Precious memories with Holland America Line shared by David Mellichamp and Linda Hansell.

Precious memories with Holland America Line shared by David Mellichamp and Linda Hansell.

Linda Hansell shared a story of special times onboard with her mother:

“Years ago we had a waiter in training while cruising with my Mom. He was trying so very hard to please. During one of the meals we hid the silver after he had so carefully arranged each piece. You should have seen his face when everything was missing.

“We later cruised on the same ship hoping to find Mom’s friend, and took a picture my Mom treasured of them together, just on the chance he would be there. Luckily, he was.

“I no longer have my Mom, but will always carry fond memories of a very special young man.”

Other guests were thankful for having spent anniversaries, birthdays and vow renewals with Holland America Line. David Mellichamp wrote on behalf of his family. He said that his vow renewal at Half Moon Cay was a day to remember forever thanks to the staff of Westerdam, especially Buzz, Nickie, Diane, Dr. Nancy and Phil.

Family bonding is certainly on the minds of many during this season. Carla Vleugels mentioned her daughter Lynn who is working onboard Volendam as a cadet, and Will Dean Pham who offered props to his parents.

“One of my blessings is my parents who have taken me on Holland America Line three times!!!! And I’m only 14. I also thank the crew, service and food on your line. You guys are just amazing.” – Will Dean Pham

Photos shared by Jackie Buonocore Ferriso, Dianne Dundon Betzel, Joanne Spirito Stigerts and Stephen Fowler.

Photos shared by Jackie Buonocore Ferriso, Dianne Dundon Betzel, Joanne Spirito Stigerts and Stephen Fowler.

All in all folks are grateful for intangibles in their Holland America Line experience. Like Marjorie Shenkir who got something back from cruising.

“I am thankful for Scotty, my personal trainer aboard my Panama cruise Spring 2014. He got me started on the Rennaisance of my life! I’ve never been fitter, happier or healthier!” she said.

Jo Ann Cheek Baker said the fun time she had with Holland America Line left her glowing.

“Three older women, me included, took the eleven day land and sea cruise two years ago. It was the best vacation any of us ever had,” she shared. “Especially the cruise. Just can’t say enough about it only if we had a chance we would do it again. Thank you for making us feel young again. And special.”

Debbie Gulnick summed it up nicely when she said,

“Whenever I am on a Holland America Line ship I always feel at home and there is always someone I know. They are a part of my extended family, and its like going home every time I am on a HAL ship.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!”

Do you have a Holland America Line experience for which you’re grateful? Share below!

Follow Holland America Line on Facebook to join future conversations!

Guest Lin Yeazel snapped this beautiful photo of the Pitons on her Caribbean cruise, which is eligible for Explore4 savings.
Guest Lin Yeazel snapped this beautiful photo of the Pitons on her Caribbean cruise, which is eligible for Explore4 savings.

If you’re thinking about booking a 2015 or 2016 cruise and want to take advantage of the Explore4 savings, time is ticking and you have until Oct. 31, 2014, to make your reservation.

Select sailings are eligible for the “Explore4” benefits that include 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 on select sailings 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. Guests can receive all of the offers when booking a qualified itinerary.

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/Antarctica.

Exp4

Suite Travelers Receive an Added Perk
Guests who book a cruise in a suite category stateroom will receive all of the above offers, plus an additional $300 onboard spending credit per stateroom ($150 per person) and a free Canaletto dinner. Canaletto is the line’s alternative dining venue that showcases cuisine from regions throughout Italy and a new “small plate” menu designed around contemporary new serving styles with flavorful dishes designed for sharing.

Good Things Come in Fours for Holland America Line Cruisers
Guests who book an ocean-view or higher category stateroom receive a free Signature Beverage Package valued at $100 per stateroom ($50 per person) per day and includes wine, beer, spirits, cocktails, sodas and coffee. The beverage offer is only applicable on the cruise portion of Alaska Land+Sea Journeys.

“Explore4” offers also include a complimentary dinner at the award-winning Pinnacle Grill for guests who book an ocean-view or higher stateroom. The Pinnacle Grill features a tantalizing menu highlighting steak and seafood dishes like filet mignon and broiled Alaska king salmon, yet also includes favorites like roasted pumpkin risotto and grilled lamb chops.

With free or reduced cruise fare for third and fourth guests on select sailings, a family of four can take a vacation to Europe, a tropical sailing to the Caribbean or longer journey to an exotic destination. In the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexico, fares for seven-day cruises start from $799 for the first and second guests in an ocean-view stateroom, and the third and fourth guests sail free. A seven-day European cruise starts at $1,199 for an ocean-view stateroom for the first and second guests, and the third and fourth guests sail free.

By taking advantage of the 50 percent reduced deposit offer, guests will have more flexibility and time to pay the final deposit on their cruise.

Explore4 Cruise Itineraries
If your looking to take advantage of Explore4 savings but aren’t sure which cruise to book, here are a few options of eligible itineraries.

ALASKA:
While several Alaska itineraries are available for Explore4 savings, here is one cruise that is filled with scenic beauty, adventurous shore excursions and an opportunity to learn about the state’s culture and history.

7-DAY GLACIER DISCOVERY NORTHBOUND
Set sail on ms Oosterdam from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Seward, Alaska, for a seven-day journey that calls at Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. The cruise also features spectacular scenic cruising through the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay.

Guest Dale Wood combined his Alaska cruise with an overland tour and took a Double Denali Land+Sea Journey, which is eligible for Explore4 offers.

My wife and I booked a 14-day Double Denali tour, which we did in Sept 2014. We flew into Fairbanks and the adventure began. The next morning it was 37 degrees, which was pretty cold for us since we are from Las Vegas, Nevada. During the land portion we saw moose, caribou, grizzly bears, dall sheep, golden eagles. We even had one of the rare days where Mt. McKinley was in full view! In Anchorage along the Seward Highway we even saw beluga whales! The Alyeska Resort was marvelous and first rate. At the wildlife conservatory we even saw the end of the rainbow! Sorry folks, but when we left the pot was empty… — Dale Woods

CARIBBEAN:
Several Caribbean itineraries are eligible for the Explore4 savings. Here’s one exciting and tropical option for you to consider.

11-DAY SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN WAYFARER
Noordam sets sail for turquoise waters and balmy breezes on this 11-day voyage roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. Along the way the ship calls at Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Castries and Soufriere, St. Lucia; Bridgetown, Barbados; Fort-de-France, Martinique; St. Johns, Antigua; St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.; and Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line’s private island in the Bahamas.

Always dragged our feet about taking a Caribbean cruise. But the 11-day Southern Caribbean Wayfarer turned out to be terrific. Amazed at how different each island is, how good the shore excursions were and how relaxing the ambiance was. Caught this photo of the Noordam in “full frontal” view coming from Anse La Raye, St. Lucia. And lucky we saw the rainbow over the Pitons. These islands are stunningly beautiful. — Guest Lin Yeazel

Lin got a great photo of SHIP during her cruise in the Caribbean.

Lin got a great photo of Noordam during her cruise in the Caribbean.

EUROPE & THE MEDITERRANEAN
From the North Cape to the Mediterranean, Explore4 offers dozens of cruises in Europe. Whether you want to cruise the fjords of Norway or bask on the beaches in Greece, there’s an itineraries for everyone. Here’s one example of an eligible Explore4 European voyage.

10-DAY MEDITERRANEAN ADVENTURE
Ryndam departs Rotterdam, the Netherlands, for Barcelona, Spain, on this 10-day adventure around Iberia. Guests will visit the memorable cities of Leixoes (Porto) and Lisbon, Portugal; Cadiz, Spain; Gibraltar, British Territory; Almeria and Cartagena, Spain; and Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands.

Guests Evelyn and David Stahl took a similar cruise on Ryndam from Dover to Barcelona and had a great time!

Loved the itinerary on Ryndam’s trip from Dover to Barcelona. The accommodations, service, staff and cuisine were outstanding. — Evelyn and David Stahl

Evelyn and David had a great time on their cruise and enjoyed beautiful weather and scenery.

Evelyn and David had a great time on their cruise and enjoyed beautiful weather and scenery.

HAWAII

The Hawaiian Islands are some of the most beautiful locales in the world. A cruise to Hawaii on Holland America Line combines these stunning ports with plenty of relaxing days at sea where guests can take advantage of the shipboard programming and amenities such as the Greenhouse Spa, Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine, Digital Workshops presented by Windows, fitness center, “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” programming, lectures and so much more!

17-DAY CIRCLE HAWAII

Photo by Inez.

Photo by Inez.

Zaandam visits the gorgeous Hawaiian Islands on a 17-day trip from Vancouver to San Diego, Calif. The ship enjoys several days at sea before reaching Hawaii where guests will have an overnight at Honolulu and then sail on to Nawiliwili, Lahaina, Kona and Hilo. More sea days are on the return route to San Diego where guests can relax and rejuvenate their mind, body and spirit. Guest Inez Siegers had a great time on this itinerary.

It was my first time ever to travel to the Hawaiian Islands by ship, on board the beautiful ms Zaandam. I wanted plenty of sea days, which I got. My experiences on board, while sailing and on shore exceeded my expectations. What was a step back in time for me was going for anchor at Lahaina! That too was a first for me. I couldn’t help but think how in the past all the sail ships arriving at the Hawaiian Islands had to go for anchor. I tried to catch this photo from the Front Street in Lahaina, how it might have looked some centuries ago – granted the ship would have to have been made of wood … — Inez Siegers

There are plenty of other destinations eligible for Explore4, like South America and Antarctica, Mexico, Bermuda and Canada/New England, making it the prefect time to book your next Holland America Line cruise. But don’t delay or you’ll miss the Oct. 31 deadline.

Have you already made your Explore4 booking? Tell us where you are going in the comments below!

Scenic cruising in the Great Barrier Reef is a highlight of many Australia itineraries.
Scenic cruising in the Great Barrier Reef is a highlight of many Australia itineraries.

With fall and winter approaching, there’s no need to put away the swimsuits and shorts. On a cruise to Australia and New Zealand, the summer season is gearing up to be in full swing by the time snow blankets the northern hemisphere.

For the most comprehensive exploration of the continent, Volendam’s 34-day Australia Circumnavigation sails round-trip from Sydney Oct. 19 2014, and features 18 ports as well as scenic cruising in the remote Ribbon Reef and Far North Regions. Calls during the counterclockwise trip around the continent include Brisbane, Hamilton Island, Cairns, Darwin, Exmouth, Freemantle (Perth overnight), Albany, Esperance, Adelaide (overnight), Kangaroo Island, Melbourne (overnight) and Burnie, Australia; Hobart and Port Arthur, Tasmania; Komodo Island and Bali, Indonesia, and a beautiful sunrise call at Lizard Island and sunset call at Booby Island off the coast of Australia. The ship also visits the Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven wonders of the natural world. Don’t worry, if you can’t get away this year but want to take this cruise, it’s being offered again departing Oct. 19, 2015, on a 33-day circumnavigation.

The Australia circumnavigation offers an in-depth look at the continent and beyond, with calls at (clockwise from top left) Sydney, Cairns, Hobart, Komodo Island and Bali.

The Australia circumnavigation offers an in-depth look at the continent and beyond, with calls at (clockwise from top left) Sydney, Cairns, Hobart, Komodo Island and Bali.

Departing Nov. 21, 2014, Oosterdam sails a 14-day New Zealand Discovery cruise roundtrip from Sydney that features nine ports throughout the country and scenic cruising in Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park. Guests will have the opportunity to explore the beautiful landscapes of Dunedin, Christchurch, Picton, Wellington, Napier, Tauranga, Auckland and Waitangi (Bay of Islands), all in New Zealand. This itinerary also runs in December 2014 and January 2015.

New Zealand is a country of many colors that are showcased in ports like (from left) Auckland, Bay of Islands and Wellington.

New Zealand is a country of many colors that are showcased in ports like (from left) Auckland, Bay of Islands and Wellington.

Another monthlong adventure takes Oosterdam from the shores of New Zealand to South Pacific island jewels. The 28-day Pacific Treasures and New Zealand cruise sails roundtrip from Sydney and combines a 14-day Pacific Treasures cruise with the 14-day New Zealand Discovery route. Departing in January and March, the ship calls at ports throughout New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji before exploring New Zealand.

Fiji, Fiordland National Park and Akaroa highlight itineraries to New Zealand and the South Pacific.

Fiji, Fiordland National Park and Akaroa highlight itineraries to New Zealand and the South Pacific.

The 14-day Australia and New Zealand itinerary on Oosterdam showcases the best of both areas. Sailing from Sydney to Auckland in October 2014 and March 2015, guests will visit Melbourne and Hobart before making way to New Zealand and calling at Port Chalmers, Christchurch, Picton, Wellington, Napier and Tauranga. The ship sails the reverse itinerary in November 2014 and April 2015.

Enhanace your vacation with a pre- or post-cruise tour to magical Ayers Rock.

Enhanace your vacation with a pre- or post-cruise tour to magical Ayers Rock.

Extend Your Cruise with an Pre- or Post-Cruise Tour
Cruisers looking to make the most out of their time in Australia and New Zealand can add a three- or five-night pre- or post-cruise land tour to the Great Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock/Uluru National Park or The Blue Mountains National Park, home to the famous “Three Sisters” rock formation.

With so many options, it’s time to pack your bags and beat the winter blues with a “summer” escape Down Under.

Do you want to cruise to Australia and New Zealand? Which itinerary would you choose? Tell us below!

Repositioning cruises allow for plenty of time to relax and enjoy the view.
Repositioning cruises allow for plenty of time to relax and enjoy the view.

For those not familiar with a “repositioning cruise,” it’s moving a ship from one sailing region to another, like moving from a season in Alaska to a season in Australia. The cruise that takes the ship from Alaska to Australia is a repositioning.
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