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Why we love this cruise line
Holland America Line is widely renowned as one of the best cruise lines because of its constant determination to give guests experiences of the highest quality. One word that can sum up this line is ‘excellence’. The ships themselves are spacious and extremely comfortable, with classy charm and a broad appeal. You can dine in five-star restaurants, experience award-winning service and make use of the ship’s generous amount of activities. People of all ages will find something to keep them entertained: younger ones can join the kids’ or teens’ clubs while older ones can visit the many bars and lounges, relax in the spa or hope to win big in the casino. This cruise line cares about its facilities just as much as the overall cruising experience and has started an ongoing Signature of Excellence® programme, an investment of over half a billion dollars to improve every aspect of every ship, with new facilities, services and amenities being added and pre-existing ones being upgraded.
We love Holland America Line because it prides itself on its achievements and constantly strives to maintain the high quality of every aspect of its cruises. It can proudly boast one of the highest numbers of repeat guests in the cruising industry. Numerous awards have been bestowed upon the cruise line, most notably the Five Star Diamond Award from The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences. It has been delighting passengers for well over 100 years with its traditional and stylish approach. Cruising is affordable and accessible to all, with over 500 cruises a year visiting every continent on the planet. It has built up a reputation as being a traditional cruise line with stylish touches and a focus on excellence; we love Holland America Line because it always strives to better its already excellent reputation.
Every Holland America Line ship features many exciting and engaging activities for you to try out throughout your cruise. You have the choice to try as much or as little as you please. One of the line’s more unique offerings is the Digital Workshop, where guests can learn how to use various computer programs to enable them to share their onboard experience with those at home by teaching them how to take better photos, how to upload photos to a computer and send them to loved ones and how to use computers to create virtual photo albums, scrapbooks and slideshows showcasing photos taken from your cruise. There are also more general computer workshops, teaching basic aspects such as webcams, instant messaging, social networking and computer maintenance and safety.
The Culinary Arts programme is a popular series of cooking demonstrations that are held in a specially built theater, wine tasting sessions, food pairing classes and more. If you fancy learning more about the ship’s art collection, you can go on self-guided walking tours that can be downloaded onto MP3 players so you can acquire a better understanding of the ship’s art. There are also auctions so you can take a piece home if it catches your attention. If you fancy spending your money elsewhere, you can go to one of the shops and boutiques on board and treat yourself or a loved one to fine jewelry, watches, liquor, perfumes and Holland America Line apparel. The casino allows you to try to win some more money if luck is on your side and offers a range of classic casino games for to play, whether you’re an experienced player or a novice
As for outdoor activities, you can soak up the sun by the pool or enjoy the scenic views of the sea at the observation deck. If you want to be more active, you can have a game of tennis or basketball with games available for players of all levels. While not every activity is available on every ship, each ship does contain plenty of activities to keep everyone busy.
Bars & Clubs
Nightlife is lively on all Holland America Line ships, as each has a range of lounges, bars and clubs where guests can enjoy a great evening out with drinks and good company. If a night full of music and dancing in order, guests can head to the Crow’s Nest, which offers stunning 270° views, or Northern Lights nightclub and dance the night away. To spice up the night, guests can try drinks from all around the world at three different bars at Mix, with one bar serving beer, one serving champagne and one serving Martinis. If live music is what guests want, they need only head to the piano bar to revel in the joyful atmosphere or the Ocean Bar, whose live band plays the Great America Songbook. Bartenders will make the effort to remember guests’ preferred beverages and will recommend new drinks to try. When guests want to relax with drinks in style, they can head to the Explorer’s Lounge and listen to the classical music play the Adagio Strings group. Guests can choose how they spend their evenings and all ships in the HAL fleet allow them to do so in style.
Guests dining onboard Holland America Line ships all have a wonderful and memorable dining experience. Each ship really caters for guests’ needs, whether they wish to dine casually or enjoy a more formal dining experience. The As You Wish programme allows guests to enjoy more flexibility when it comes to dining: they can choose whether to go casual or formal and they can choose whether to dine at pre-set times in the main dining room or make use of more flexible dining time.
The two most outstanding dining venues are undoubtedly the main dining room and Pinnacle Grill. The main dining room is really the heart and soul of every HAL ship and is an embodiment of everything HAL is about: it is luxurious throughout and has fine art adorning the walls, elegant Rosenthal china and its five-course menus offer an enticing range of delectable food, from local specialities to classic dishes. The Pinnacle Grill takes things a step further, with an even more ostentatious display of class, with Bvlgari china, Frette linens and a wine last rated ‘Excellent’ by the renowned Wine Spectator. Furthermore, for at least one night per cruise, Pinnacle Grill undergoes a radical transformation to become a Le Cirque restaurant at sea, featuring all the classic Le Cirque dishes. Once per cruise on the ms Rotterdam only, Pinnacle Grill also transforms into a Taste of Librije restaurant offering guests an experience like no other. During the afternoon guests can also partake of Daily Afternoon Tea, during which they can enjoy a range of fine teas and accompanying snacks.
There are plenty of other dining experiences that are less formal but offer food of the same high quality. Guests can grab a coffee and light refreshments in the Explorations Café, dine al fresco at the Terrace Grill, enjoy casual dining at the Lido restaurant or simply enjoy a complimentary round of room service. The choice always belongs to the guest and HAL ships cater for the needs of every guest, ensuring that no matter where a guest wishes to dine, the food there is always of the highest quality.
All ships in the Holland America Line fleet have an impressive line-up of entertainment offerings designed to dazzle and astound everyone. The main show lounge onboard every ship is the place to go to watch high-energy musicals featuring Broadway veterans, interactive magic shows and hilarious comedy shows. Some of the ships in the fleet feature the Showroom At Sea, a merging of nightclub design and cutting-edge theatre technology to create an innovative venue where guests can watch live musical performances and concerts. Throughout 2013 and 2014, six select cruises will feature a Dancing with the Stars overall theme and entertainment programme, where guests will get to take dance lessons with professional instructors, meet some of the show’s stars and watch a high-energy show featuring stars and dances from the show itself. As well as this, all HAL ships will feature Dancing with the Stars dance classes, and some guests can take part in an exciting dance-off on stage with the help of professional dancers involved in the show.
Health & Fitness
Holland America Line recognises the importance of having plenty of health and fitness facilities onboard each and every one of their ships so guests can keep fit and unwind whenever they should choose to do so. Onboard each ship guests will find a fully equipped fitness center for those 16 and over, a sports court, a jogging and walking track and a range of classes for beginners and more advanced learners in such areas as yoga, Pilates, aquarobics, circuit training and more. All classes are led by experienced instructors. If you don’t want to work out in a big group, you could work with a qualified personal trainer.
When it comes to relaxing after a bout of strenuous exercise, the Greenhouse Spa and Salon is the place to go. Because of its popularity, it is recommended that you book treatments in advance or while onboard. You can completely unwind and enjoy hot stone treatments while looking out at the sea, or you and your partner can enjoy a massage together. You can also have skin and body treatments as well as manicures and pedicures or have a massage inspired by Chinese and Hawaiian traditions for something different.
Those who stay in Spa staterooms or suites can enjoy exclusive spa treatments and amenities throughout their cruise.
Club HAL offers programmes for youths ages 3-17 on all ships except ms Prinsendam, on which Club HAL caters for those aged 5-17. Children and teens are split into three age groups: kids (3-7 years old), tweens (8-12 years old) and teens (13-17 years old). Everyone who joins a youth club will get a free Club HAL T-shirt. A list of activities will be posted to your stateroom every day.
Kids aged 3-7 can take part in treasure hunts, arts and crafts, storytelling, pizza making, pajama parties and ice cream parties. Those aged 8-12 can play on the Xbox and the Wii, take part in scavenger hunts, relay races and karaoke disco parties. Teens can hang out in their own special areas, The Loft and The Oasis, an outdoor area, and can take part in sporting competitions, hip-hop classes, cooking demos and teen-only nightclub events. The Loft and The Oasis are not available on ms Prinsendam. The Oasis is offered on most ships.
The only alcoholic beverages guests may bring onboard are wine and champagne. Should this wine or champagne be brought to a restaurant or bar for consumption, a corkage fee of $18.00 will apply. It cannot be consumed in any other public place. Should a guest be found to be drinking a beverage they brought on board in any public place other than a restaurant or bar, they will be asked to return to their stateroom.
Alcoholic drinks bought in onboard shops will be retained and safely stored on the ship until the final day of the cruise, at which point they will be delivered to your stateroom. A 15% service charge will apply to all purchases of alcoholic drinks. Beverage packages can be purchased at a reduced rate using room service. These are to be consumed in your staterooms and also come with a 15% service charge.
Those who are 20 years of age and under have to be accompanied by a parent, guardian or by a chaperone, who should be at least 21 years of age. There should be one chaperone for every five people under 21, so if there are six people under 21, two chaperones would be required. If someone is acting as a chaperone for an organised youth or student group, they must be at least 25 years of age.
Some foreign countries require that guests under the age of 18 must be travelling with both parents or, if one or both parents are not travelling, a letter of approval signed by any parent not travelling with the minor will be required. An authenticated letter is required if one parent is deceased or if the minor has only one legal parent. All those under the age of 18 must also have the necessary identification requirements. Minors who are US citizens need an authenticated copy of their birth certificate or another official form of identification. Those over 16 also need an official form of photo ID. Passports are required for everyone travelling outside the Western Hemisphere. Official documentation is normally required at entry and exit points in different countries to confirm permission for the child to travel and the relationship of the guardians and parents to the child. Having this documentation can expedite entering and exiting countries. Regulations vary from country to country. A summary of different countries’ regulations can be found at the following website: http://www.travel.state.gov/
Those under 18 must be accompanied by parents or legal guardians on all tours and cannot be left unsupervised in any part of the ship. If those under 16 wish to go ashore without adult supervision, permission from their parents or legal guardians is required and can be confirmed by notifying the ship’s Security Officer. Minors are generally prohibited from leaving the ship without adult supervision, so notifying the Security Officer is essential.
Whilst on board there are usually two formal evenings per week. For these it is recommended that men wear a jacket and tie, tuxedo or a dark suit, whilst women should wear a cocktail dress, a suit, a blouse or top with slacks or a gown. The rest of the evenings are ‘Smart Casual’ evenings and require men to wear collared shirts and slacks, whilst women should wear dresses, general informal evening wear and slacks. The following are prohibited during the evening in restaurants and other public areas: shorts, tank tops, T-shirts and swimsuits.
All guests should wear shoes and a cover-up when walking through the ship in swimwear. Certain places visited during shore excursions may have additional clothing requirements, such as no tank tops. This depends on the place you visit so check beforehand.
Those who don’t have formal attire can pre-order it and find it in their stateroom on the day of embarkation by calling Cruiseline Formalwear at 800-551-5091 or by finding their website online.
Children must be at least 6 months old at the time of sailing. However, they must be at least 12 months old if sailing on any transoceanic voyage. HAL’s Medical Department may feel it necessary to impose the minimum age of 12 months on any voyage they think could present a significant risk.
Pregnant women are not permitted to sail if they are due to enter their 24th week of pregnancy at any point during the cruise or have already entered it. If you are under 24 weeks pregnant then before boarding you must have sent a doctor’s letter stating that they are in good health, are fit to travel and that the pregnancy is not high-risk. It should also state the expected delivery date. The letter should include your name, sailing date, the name of your ship and your booking number and can be faxed to HAL’s Access & Compliance Department at 800-577-1731. Alternately the letter can be sent to:
Holland America Line
Attention: Access & Compliance Department 2nd floor
300 Elliott Avenue West
Seattle, WA 98119
Smoking is only allowed in designated areas, which are usually as follows:
- Stateroom verandahs
- Seaview bar
- The casino (players only)
- Sports deck
- Observation deck (only on ms Eurodam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Noordam, ms Oosterdam, ms Prinsendam, ms Westerdam and ms Zuiderdam.
Guests may only smoke pipes and cigars on stateroom verandahs and in outdoor areas where cigarette smoking is also allowed. Electronic cigarettes are permitted only in staterooms and in outdoor designate smoking areas. Anyone found to have smoked in their stateroom will face a fine of $250.00.
To reflect the service given by various members of staff, a daily gratuity charge of $11.50 will be added to your shipboard account per guest, though for those staying in suites, the amount rises to $12.00. This amount can be adjusted in accordance with the level of service you feel you’ve received. For bar and dining room purchases, a 15% surcharge is added to your bill.
Each ship offers 24 hr Wi-fi in many of its public rooms, which you can easily connect to with your laptop or handheld device with wireless connectivity. Pricing, which is subject to change without notice, is currently as follows:
$55.00 – 100 minutes
$100.00 – 250 minutes
There is also a one-off activation fee of $3.95. Alternately, you can pay as you go at a rate of $ 0.75 per minute. The pricing is the same for Internet accessed through the ship’s own computers.
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