Inspiration Explore 8 Things You Didn't Know About Holland America Line Cruises 

8 Things You Didn't Know About Holland America Line Cruises 

Holland America ship sailing past the Opera House in Sydney, facts about Holland America Cruise lines - Luxury Escapes

With more than 150 years at sea, Holland America is a maritime titan – and its unique culinary programs, award-winning itineraries and Dutch heritage are just a drop in the ocean. 

As the world’s second oldest cruise line, there are plenty of stories behind the name Holland America. From its humble beginnings as a passenger vessel taking Europeans to the New World, to now boasting more than 500 annual vacation cruises, this storied fleet has made its voyage through history.  

1. It's the second oldest cruise line in the world  

The glamorous dining hall of the Noordam ship of the Holland America Line - Luxury Escapes
The elegant main dining room, Noordam, Holland America Line.

Founded in 1873, Holland America's long lineage is second only to Cunard. To put that into perspective, Holland America’s maiden voyage from the Netherlands to New York City took place almost 40 years before the construction of the RMS Titanic. Holland America ships were some of the first to set sail at the renaissance of vacation cruising, and five-star services of the gilded-era – such as a 1:2 staff-to-guest ratio and formal dinners – still exist today. These luxurious touches also snagged the cruise line a 2023 Cruise Critic Editor's Picks Best Service Award. 

2. Its cruise ships have sailed celebrities and starred in films 

Billboard onboard, Noordam ship, Holland America line - Luxury Escapes
Billboard onboard, Noordam, Holland America Line.

At a time when vacation cruising was still reserved for the wealthy few, many celebrities were known to cruise aboard the Holland America fleet. Katharine Hepburn, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill, to name a few, could be found wandering the deck and enjoying the glamourous facilities on board. The ships Nieuw Amsterdam (II) and the cargo ship Abbedyk can also be spotted in the background of Marlon Brando’s ‘On the Waterfront’. 

3. Every ship name ends in 'dam’ 

The Westerdam ship from the Holland America Line - Luxury Escapes
The Westerdam, Holland America Line.

In 1883, the tradition of adding the suffix ‘dam’ to every Holland America passenger ship began. This Holland America signature started as a way to identify between passenger and cargo vessels, the latter of which are identified with ‘DIJK/DYK’. Since their first voyage, Holland America has never sailed without a ship named Rotterdam. The cruise line has had seven ships named Rotterdam, including its very first ocean liner. 

4. They cruise to almost 100 countries  

The Oosterdam ship on its 7-day Malta & Aegean Jewels sail, Holland America Line - Luxury Escapes
Oosterdam ship, Holland America Line.

Starting as a way for 850,000 European immigrants to pass the English Channel into America, Holland America now hosts over 500 annual vacation cruises to more than 470 ports in over 100 countries. Their fleet of 11 ships sail to all seven continents, including Antarctica, and is the only cruise line to travel into the Yukon Territory on their bespoke ‘Cruisetour’. From Sydney to the South Pacific, to a round-trip around the Southern Caribbean, there’s an itinerary for every type of curious traveller.  

5. They have a global fresh fish program 

Salmon dish in the dining room of a Holland America Line ship - Luxury Escapes
Wild Alaskan salmon.

As part of their commitment to serving only the freshest, locally sourced food on board, Holland America’s new fresh fish program sources 80 types of fresh fish from a network of 60 ports. They’re also the first cruise line to be awarded a Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) certification for serving sustainable wild Alaskan seafood. Through these initiatives, each restaurant in their fleet serves fish from ‘port-to-plate' within 48 hours. 

6. Activities on board are world-renowned  

A band in a bar of a Holland America Line ship - Luxury Escapes
The Rolling Stone Rock Room.

Among the plethora of live music and culinary destinations on offer, each ship has a range of unique activities that you won’t find anywhere else. ‘On Deck for a Cause’ is a philanthropic walk that over half a million cruisers have participated in, raising money for various charity organisations. Plus, Holland America is the exclusive cruising partner of the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA), and each ship has a pickleball court and a dedicated sports director. Every cruise also hosts live entertainment for their famous Orange Party, which pays homage to the Dutch Royal Family – the House of Orange-Nassau – who have launched 12 Holland America ships since 1929.  

7. Holland America has an award-winning world cruise  

Milford Sound at sunset, a destination on Holland America Line's New Zealand cruise - Luxury Escapes
Milford Sound, a Holland America Line destination.

Holland America won the 2021 Travel Weekly Readers’ Choice Award for Best World Cruise Itinerary for its around-the-world voyage. This cruise circumnavigates the globe, starting from ports in the United States and travelling to the world's major cities, plus hidden gem destinations, allowing travellers to sink their teeth into each corner of the globe. Guests will see everything from the Blue Lagoons of Reykjavik to the sapphire waters of Tahiti.    

8. They’re well known for solo travel  

Single Ocean-View Stateroom, Koningsdam ship, Holland America Line - Luxury Escapes
Single Ocean-View Stateroom, Koningsdam ship, Holland America Line.

The Koningsdam has dedicated single staterooms for the intrepid traveller cruising alone. Koningsdam’s 12 single ocean-view cabins are available across multiple decks and range from 127 to 172 square feet. With plenty of social spaces including bars, swimming pools and theatres on board there are dozens of reasons to make your next trip a solo venture, or you can take the chance to escape to tranquility on the promenade deck and lounge spaces.  

Looking for more cruising inspiration? Read Caviar in the Surf & 4 Other Surprising Seabourn Cruise Experiences

About Sofia Calvert
Travel and lifestyle writer → born in Australia, raised in Asia and the South Pacific. Loves craft cocktails and long walks to the hotel pool.

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