Holland America Line
With a 146-year seafaring history and a reputation for quality, Holland America Line (HAL) continues to innovate in order to stay relevant and compete with other cruise lines in its premium cruising niche (between contemporary and luxury). With a laser-like focus on three product pillars: destinations, cuisine and live music, HAL’s mid-sized ships attract curious guests eager to explore with all their senses.
As part of the line’s new EXC Explorations Central program, passengers will find a newly renovated space that highlights all facets of the destinations visited during a voyage. The area combines a shore excursion desk, a destination lecture area and multiple interactive kiosks displaying port information. Added to the staff mix here is the relatively-new Location Guide, an expert who provides invaluable and complimentary insider tips and information to guests wishing to explore ports independently.
In the realm of onboard dining, I’d wager that no cruise line has done more to upgrade and enhance its entire culinary program in recent years than HAL, especially with uber-talented Master Chef Rudi Sodamin leading the way. Sodamin, an award-winning, cruise industry chef and author, leads HAL’s Culinary Council, a group of six esteemed chefs who have revolutionized menus by creating modern, innovative dishes for all dining venues – formal and casual – aboard the line’s 14 ships. While chefs in the Special Diets Galley carefully handle the preparation of gluten-free dishes, an overwhelming percentage of menu items served aboard are already gluten free. Others can be easily customized with a day’s notice.
In a bold move to provide top-quality live musical entertainment, HAL partnered with prestigious institutions to supply talent for the line’s three Music Walk venues. The Memphis pros who lay down soulful R&B numbers at B.B. King’s Blues Club had me joining the standing-room-only crowd most nights, while the skilled classical quintet performing at Lincoln Center Stage resonated well with a sophisticated audience. And with two piano players/singers at Billboard Onboard encouraging rousing sing-alongs to top pop hits of the last four decades, we could enjoy all three musical styles in one evening, thanks to staggered performance times. Visit www.hollandamerica.com.