Holland America Line Cruise Tips, Activities, and Overview
Who goes on Holland America Line cruise ships?
Holland America Line cruisers usually run 50 or older and are evenly split between being retired and employed -- the longer the cruise, the older the demographic and the more retired passengers there are. HAL passengers prioritize travel, and most are experienced cruisers. They tend to be foodies and music-lovers (two things for which HAL prides itself), and most are from the U.S. and Canada, though about 20 percent of the passengers are international, with the U.K. and Australia at the top of the list.
During the summer and holiday periods, the average age onboard comes down as families, particularly multigenerational groups that include the grandparents and grandkids, take to the ships. This is particularly true of the line's Alaska and Canada/New England itineraries.
Do I have to dress up on a Holland America Line cruise?
Not during the day, but most Holland America Line evenings are designated as smart-casual, so swimsuits, flip-flops, shorts and tank tops are not permitted in any of the restaurants. The line does have more formal evenings (how many depends on how long a sailing you're on) called Gala Nights calling for gala attire. Men usually show up in suits and ties (or jackets and no ties, especially in the Caribbean); women usually opt for cocktail dresses or gowns, or dress slacks with fancy blouses.
Is everything free on Holland America Line cruises?
No. Your cruise fare includes meals in the main dining room, Lido buffet restaurant, the outdoor Terrace Grill and 24-hour room service (except for some for-charge items); the extensive youth program, Club HAL, is complimentary until 10 p.m. every day. Additionally, access to the fitness center, and most culinary lessons and enrichment lectures, movies, performances and live music are complimentary.
What will cost you extra is all drinks beyond water, tea, basic coffee and some juices; all specialty restaurants; most fitness classes; spa and salon services; shore excursions; gratuities; laundry and purchases from any of the onboard shops.
Passengers cruising in suites get a host of extra privileges and might find that some of the extra-fee options are provided complimentarily.
What are Holland America Line’s most popular activities?
Passengers onboard Holland America Line's ships love the line's dedication to traditional cruise activities, including afternoon tea and ballroom dancing, but they also flock to the line's newer options. In particular, the line's live music offerings, including BB King's Blues Club, Billboard Onboard, Rolling Stone Rock Room and Lincoln Center Stage, draw a crowd most nights, while the line's culinary demonstrations are usually standing room only. Culinary classes (including some specifically for kids), wine tastings and blendings (on select ships only), and complimentary computer classes fill quickly.
Just as popular for many Holland America Line passengers is relaxing in the line's top-deck Crow's Nest. You'll often find people up there reading a book, putting together a jigsaw puzzle or playing cards or board games.
Why go with Holland America Line?
- Traditional cruising experience with modern touches
- Impressive, immersive itinerary options, particularly in Alaska
- Extensive dining options and enrichment programs
Best for: Laid-back but curious travelers who explore by day and relish culinary experiences and live music by night
Not for: Thrill-seekers who crave a variety of onboard attractions and endless nightlife