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Holland America Line Review

U.S. News Travel
  • Overall Rating: 4.0stars 4.0 4.0
  • Expert Rating:4.0stars 4.0
  • Traveler Rating:4.0stars 3.8
    • Couples: 3.9
    • Families w/ young children: 3.7
    • Families w/ older children: 3.8
    • Singles/Friends: 3.8
    • Groups: 3.7
  • Health Rating:
    4.5
    4.5

Holland America Line Overview

How it Ranks: Holland America has been ranked based on an expert evaluation of the line's level of luxury, as well as an assessment of user reviews and health ratings. Holland America Line appears on the following ranking lists:

In 2014, Holland America Line's 15-ship fleet plans to set sail for destinations all around the world, including the South Pacific, the Mediterranean, Australia, Alaska and the Caribbean. Holland America caters to affluent adults with its mid-size ships that carry between 835 and 2,106 guests and boast a 2-to-1 passenger-to-crew ratio that ensures high-quality service. On a Holland America cruise — which can last anywhere from seven to 113 days — you can pass the time with enrichment programs, like photography, cooking and mixology classes, or soak up some culture with a walk through the onboard art gallery. And should you have some energy to burn, you can work up a sweat in yoga or Pilates classes before unwinding at the spa. Though they vary by itinerary options, Holland America's shore excursion options are also primarily adult-oriented, with activities ranging from sightseeing tours to bike tours to "voluntourism" opportunities. (Those traveling with children will benefit from Holland America's "Signature Collection" excursions, which allow more freedom to choose activities that suit your specific needs.) Meanwhile, Holland America's "As You Wish"-style dining allows flexibility when it comes to mealtimes: Mingle with fellow passengers over a five-course dinner in the main dining room (where you can choose between group or private seating), sample fresh seafood in The Pinnacle Grill or hunker down with some 24-hour room service.

Pros & Cons

  • Mid-size ships with small guest capacities make for a roomy cruise
  • One crew member per every two passengers
  • Kids and teens programs available
  • More expensive than competing cruise lines like Carnival
  • Wi-Fi is available, but requires an additional fee
  • Corkage fees apply to wine brought on board

On Board

Holland America cruises' refined atmosphere mainly attracts well-off 50-plus travelers. However, the company has made strides in attracting families, offering Club HAL programs for guests ages 3 to 17. You're more likely to find cruising clans aboard ships headed for Alaska and the Caribbean.

More about the onboard experience»

On Shore

Holland America's shore excursions are categorized into five distinct collections: the Medallion Collection, the Encore Collection, the World Wonders Collection, the Signature Collection and the Cruise with Purpose Collection. The Medallion Collection offers cultural activities for small groups, such as an evening at the Sydney Opera House or a ...

More about the on shore experience»

Before You Book

  • You do not need to make an up-front payment in order to make a reservation, but you will be required to put down a deposit one to five days after you claim your spot. The amount will be determined on a per-person basis and the total cost of your cruise. (Note: A second deposit is required for all Grand Voyages — multi-week trips that cover entire regions.) Your cruise must be fully paid for 75 days prior to departure.
  • You will be charged for any taxes, fees or surcharges imposed by government or semi-governmental authorities. These extra expenses are factored into advertised cruise prices.
  • Expect to pay an additional $11 to $12 per person per day for gratuity.
  • If the amount of taxes and fees exceeds the amount estimated by Holland America, you may be charged extra after having completed your booking. There is no right of cancellation guaranteed under these circumstances.
  • Cancellation fees apply to all aspects of your cruise, including airfare add-ons, ground transfers, hotel reservations and tours. To avoid paying a cancellation fee, you must cancel your cruise between 57 and 120 nights before your trip, depending on the itinerary you choose. If you miss this deadline, you will forfeit a percentage of your deposit; the amount you lose will depend on how close the cancellation date is to the date of departure.
  • If you purchase the CPP Platinum Protection Plan, you will be guaranteed a refund of 90 percent of your deposit should you need to cancel, no matter how soon your ship is scheduled to depart. Certain plans can also include lost baggage and medical coverage. For more information, consult Holland America's CPP Platinum Protection Plan page.

Before You Board

  • You must fill out an immigration questionnaire at least 72 hours before your scheduled departure date using Holland America's Online Check-In tool. With the Online Check-In tool, you can retrieve your boarding pass and schedule, as well as any applicable dining and entertainment vouchers.
  • If you are unable to use the Online Check-In service, you may still print your boarding pass, itinerary and vouchers at home and you can fill out required paperwork at the pier prior to boarding — though you risk being denied boarding should you not have the correct documentation.
  • You must arrive at your ship at least 90 minutes before it is scheduled to sail. If you did not use Online Check-In, you should plan to arrive at least three hours early.
  • You will need a passport that is valid for at least six months after you return from your cruise. If you are on a closed-loop cruise (one that starts and ends in the United States), you will be allowed to board as long as you have a government ID, such as a passport card or an enhanced driver's license.
  • You may be required to obtain a tourist visa and/or vaccinations prior to your cruise. Visit the U.S. State Department website to determine the entry and exit requirements for each country on your itinerary.
  • You should notify Holland America of any special needs — such as accessibility equipment or dietary restrictions — at least 90 days prior to your planned departure date.
  • You must make sure that each piece of checked luggage is properly tagged with your name, stateroom number and sailing date. You may print your own luggage tags when you complete Online Check-In, or obtain a luggage tag at the pier prior to departure.
  • You may book shore excursions online up to three days prior to your sailing date. You may also cancel your shore excursion up to three days before you depart; any cancellations made after that will be subject to a fee equal to 10 percent of the excursion price. However, Alaska CruiseTours excursions canceled within three days of your departure date will not be refunded; this applies to Signature Collection tours as well.

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Disclaimers about ship ratings: A ship's Health Rating is based on vessel inspection scores published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If a ship did not receive a CDC score within 24 months prior to the calculation of its Overall Rating, its Health Rating appears as N/A; in such a case, the ship's Overall Rating is calculated using the average Health Rating of all CDC-rated ships within the cruise line. All ship Traveler Ratings are based on ratings provided under license by Cruiseline.com.