Founded in 1873 under the name Holland-Amerika Lijn, this enterprising company offered a transatlantic passenger service between Rotterdam and New York until 1971, when Holland America abandoned passenger transportation and switched to running cruise ships full time. In 1989 Holland America Line became a wholly owned subsidiary of Carnival Corporation.

Barbecue tofu skewers on a bed of baked chickpeas and topped with rocket

The company’s fleet of 15 ships symbolises both the centuries-old seafaring heritage of the Dutch and the long-standing friendship between Holland and America. With their trademark slogan and guiding principle, ‘A Tradition of Excellence’, Holland America Line ships tend to attract a more mature, affluent passenger with a thirst for comfortable exploration. All facets of the line’s history are reflected in the fleet’s multi million dollar shipboard collections of art and antiques. While primarily attracting American guests, there has recently been increasing interest from British passengers who appreciate traditional values such as afternoon tea and dinner announced with a chime.

Wildlife documentary on the TV in an Ocean View stateroom on a Holland America Line ship

Noted for focusing on passenger comfort, Holland America Line ships have, in the past, been criticised as boring, but in truth they are classic in design and style. This company that rolls with the times, and ships now feature fun piano and sports bars and demonstration kitchens for cooking classes, while roomy accommodation comes with the latest amenities. Overall, the décor of the line’s newer ships is bolder and more colourful than the older ones, and with an infusion of younger adults and families on-board, they remain refined without being stuffy. A trademark of each ship is its wraparound promenade deck for walking, jogging or stretching out in the shade on a padded steamer chair.

Another distinguishing factor is the cuisine served in the large main dining rooms. There is also the intimate Pinnacle Grill speciality restaurant and Italian Canaletto, as well as the Pan- Asian Tamarind on newer ships. Returning passengers feel as at home on the newest Holland America Line vessels as they do on the older ones, and one thing repeat guests really appreciate is the understated professionalism of the crew. For the hedonists, there is Half Moon Cay – Holland America’s private retreat for passengers on the line’s Caribbean and Panama Canal sailings.

Renowned for the wide variety of destinations it sails to, Holland America Line is unquestionably one of the world’s most celebrated cruise companies.

Gary Buchanan
Gary Buchanan has been an influential cruise writer for almost 30 years. Based in Scotland, he writes for Britain’s leading national newspapers and respected consumer magazines on a variety of cruise topics. Recipient of several awards for his creative writing, he has also written five books about cruising. His other skills include being an expert lecturer on maritime history aboard Cunard ships during transatlantic voyages. His favourite cruise destinations include the Greek Isles, Thailand and the Norwegian fjords. When it comes to river cruises he rates the Irrawaddy, Mekong and Seine as real gems.

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