Featured Cruise Line: Holland America Line
If you’re researching cruise lines for you next cruise, we’d like to suggest you take a look at Holland America Line. They truly are one of our favorites due to the amenities and onboard options they offer.
To give you an idea of what this fantastic cruise line offers, here’s an overview…
This line is best for:
Adults and families and multigenerational groups who want a classic cruise vacation with modern amenities on mid-size ships. For those who want a deluxe experience, the high-end HAL suites provide concierge service and other luxuries associated with more expensive cruise lines. HAL has a broad appeal and offers programs and activities for all ages, from high-tech computer sessions to conventional Vegas-style entertainment.
Atmosphere and experience onboard:
- Amsterdam (1,380 passengers)
- Eurodam (2,104 passengers)
- Maasdam (1,258 passengers)
- Nieuw Amsterdam (2,106 passengers)
- Noordam (1,924 passengers)
- Oosterdam (1,916 passengers)
- Prinsendam (835 passengers)
- Rotterdam (1,404 passengers)
- Ryndam (1,260 passengers)
- Statendam (1,260 passengers)
- Veendam (1,350 passengers)
- Volendam (1,432 passengers)
- Westerdam (1,916 passengers)
- Zaandam (1,432 passengers)
- Zuiderdam (1,916 passengers)
For more than 20 years, HAL has been named "Best Overall Cruise Value" by the World Ocean & Cruise Line. The award recognizes the line's ongoing Signature of Excellence upgrades, a program that has so far cost $566 million. Five ships – the ms Maasdam, ms Statendam, ms Ryndam, ms Veendam and ms Rotterdam – have new staterooms, new dining venues and upgraded decor.
The fleet's Signature Class vessels have cabins on the upper decks, spa staterooms with special amenities and healthy room-service menus and adults-only sundeck areas called The Retreat, which feature tented (for rent) cabanas equipped with fruit trays, bottled water, iPods and other goodies.
Though some ships – notably the ms Rotterdam and the ms Amsterdam – are "fancier" than others, with high-end artwork and ornate decor, all ships now feature the Mariner Dream Bed and high-end linens, flat screen TVs and bathroom enhancements. The new bar concept, Mix, encompasses three specialty lounges serving champagne, martinis, spirits and ales. The new Showroom at Sea features Broadway entertainers and the new resort pool, the Retreat, has an upscale pizzeria and a giant LED screen for evening movies.
An increasingly popular feature on all HAL ships is the Culinary Arts Center, presented by Food & Wine Magazine
, which has been described as a "world class show kitchen at sea." In 2014, the center's enrichment program included a roster of celebrity chefs, epicures and authors, including The New York Times’
columnist Mark Bittman and Food Network "Next Iron Chef" competitor Jehangir Mehta.
The atmosphere on a HAL cruise is livelier and somewhat more relaxed than in the past. Though still wedded to fixed meal times, lunch hours have been extended when the ships are in port and alternative dining venues now offer more choices.
HAL's newest and largest new build, a 2,660-passenger Pinnacle Class ship, will debut in February 2016.
- Asia and Pacific
- Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific
- Canada/New England
- Pacific Northwest and Pacific Coast
- Panama Canal
- South America
- Grand Voyages
This premium line has traditionally been known for having an older clientele but has made a shift in recent years to appeal to a younger crowd by adding such features as alternative restaurants, concierge service for the higher-end accommodations, Internet cafes with Wi-Fi, spa cabins, indoor-outdoor pools and specialty bars and lounges. With its upgraded children's programs, HAL is attracting multi-generational family groups, especially during its summer sailings to Alaska and its one-week Caribbean itineraries during school vacations.
Policies regarding children onboard:
Reservations will not be accepted for infants 6 months or younger for non-Transocean sailings or 12 months or younger for Transocean sailings at time of cruise. There are no programs for children under 3. HAL programs cover three age groups: 3 to 7, 8 to 12 and 13 to 17. Expanded children's facilities include teen lounges, gaming stations and parent-free zones with computers. There are babysitting services available on board.
Learn more about Holland America Line
Policies regarding children onboard:
Read a cruise travel diary:
Amenities offered (some cruise lines are all-inclusive):
Alcohol beverage policies:
About Weddings at Sea or Vow Renewals at Sea:
Fascinating Voyages to Sacred Sites Throughout the World
One of the many reasons people travel the world is to visit locations that have significant meaning in their lives – ones they feel will provide spiritual enlightenment or a life-changing experience. These “sacred sites” reflect a common thread throughout the great religions and are viewed as places where the faithful can go for healing, guidance or divine inspiration.
Unfortunately, many of the world’s most sacred sites have been inaccessible to all but the hardiest of travelers – those who were able to make arduous overland journeys. Now, however, travelers will find that today’s cruise itineraries make many of these locations surprisingly easy to visit. Take a look at all the options, they truly are fascinating.
1. Site of the Virgin Mary’s reported apparitions, a pilgrimage site for over 150 years…Bordeaux, France: Lourdes
2. A monastery that was built only at night to avoid alerting the Ottomans – its guest rooms that have hosted the Prince of Wales…Bucharest, Romania: Hurezi Monastery
3. Aachen is Europe’s oldest cathedral and 32 holy Roman emperors were crowned here. It is also home to Charlemagne’s throne…Cologne, Germany: Aachen Cathedral. Cologne also houses the Shrine of the Three Kings, where the sarcophagus is rumored to hold the remains of Mechoir, Balthazar and Caspar, the three wise men who traveled to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus.
See more Europe Voyages here.
In the Mediterranean:
1. Where Moses is reputed to have received the 10 Commandments…Cairo, Sinai Peninsula: Mt Sinai/St. Catherine’s Monastery
2.. The site where Jesus chose his apostles and performed miracles…Haifa, Nazareth / Galilee (Haifa), Israel: Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberius)
3. A mosque built in 1609 with more than 20,000 tiles and 260 stained glass windows…Istanbul, Turkey: Blue Mosque
See more Mediterranean Voyages here.
In Asia/Far East:
1. A gravity-defying monastery built into the side of a sheer cliff… Beijing, China: Hanging Monastery
2. Geothermal region with reputed medicinal powers… Beppu, Japan: Beppu Onsen
3. World peace monument, dedicated to a young girl who died of radiation poisoning from the bombing of Hiroshima… Hiroshima, Japan: Peace Memorial Park
See more Asia/Far East Voyages here.
In the Caribbean/North America/South America:
1. National Hindu street festival (the Festival of Light) that takes place annually in October or November. Bridgetown, Trinidad and Tobago: Diwali.
1. Resting place for 300,000 American servicemen and servicewomen. Baltimore, Virginia: Arlington National Cemetery
2. This is Mexico’s three-day “death” festival – a celebration of life. Huatulco, Mexico: Day of the Dead
3. Memorial museum on the ruins of the World Trade Center. New York, New York: Ground Zero
1. Isla Del Sol and Isla Del La Luna are ancient holy sites of the Inca; and home to the “Fountain of Youth.” Copacabana, South America: Islands of the Sun and Moon.
2. Famed rock carvings in various stages of completion. Easter Island, South Pacific: Easter Island.
3. Sacred Incan city and valley in the Andes. Lima, Peru: Machu Picchu/ Sacred Valley of the Inca.
Cruise Line Deals
Upscale Contemporary Cruise Line Deals
Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line is offering up to $300 onboard credit for booking a suite or the Haven at least 9 months in advance. Offer ends 12/31/15. For details click here.
Premium Cruise Line Deals:
Celebrity Cruises: During CLIA's National Cruise Vacation Week, Celebrity Cruises is offering a great selection of savings. This offer valid from October 6, 2014 to November 5, 2014. For details click here.
Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity Cruises' 123go! promotion lets you choose from 3 great offers: Free Classic Beverage package for 2, free gratuities for 2 or onboard credit up to $300 per stateroom. Plus each additional guest beyond the first two in your stateroom receives a free classic non-alcoholic beverage package and a 40 minute internet package. Offer ends 11/4/14. For details click here.
Cunard Line: Cunard Line is pleased to announce its “Mediterranean 3 For You” Sale offering Free Upgrades plus up to $300 On Board Credit per stateroom and $150 Reduced Deposit. This offer is going on through Tuesday, 16 December 2014. For details click here.
Cunard Line: Guests who book their 2016 World and Exotic Cruise adventures before 28 February 2015 will receive a reduced deposit of 15 percent and on board credit up to $3,000 per stateroom on Full World Cruises and Segments between 25 and 90 days, as well as free gratuities of up to $3,267 per stateroom (based on the 121-day Queen Elizabeth World Cruise) for voyages of 91 or more days. For more information click here.
Cunard Line: For a limited time Cunard Line is offering their 3 For You Mediterranean Sale. Book a select voyage by December 16, 2014 and receive free upgrades, up to $300 onboard credit per stateroom, and $150 reduced deposit. For details click here.
Cunard Line: Book a Grills Suite with Cunard Line by November 15, 2014 on select sailings aboard the Queen Victoria and receive free gratuities, specialty dining for two, and a $400 onboard credit per stateroom. For details and sailings click here.
Princess Cruises: Princess Cruises has three free offers for guests booking Alaska, Europe or Japan cruises and cruisetours sailing in 2015. The “3 For Free” sales event not only includes free stateroom location upgrades, a free shore excursion credit and free onboard spending credit, but also features a refundable deposit of only $100 per person. Runs through November 20. For details click here.
Princess Cruises: Princess Cruises is celebrating the upcoming stateside arrival of the line’s newest cruise ship - Regal Princess - with a special “Sale-A-Bration” sale that runs through November 6, offering guests savings up to $1,200 per stateroom on more than 150 cruise vacations. For more information click here.
Ultra Premium Cruise Line Deals:
Azamara Club Cruises: Book by December 14, 2014 to receive double stateroom upgrades from Club interior stateroom to Club Veranda stateroom on select voyages. For details click here.
Oceania Cruises: For a limited time Oceania Cruises is offering 2 for 1 cruise fares plus free airfare on select Fall 2014 sailings. Fares expire 12/31/14. For details click here.
Oceania Cruises: Oceania Cruises has added new dates and savings to their "Your World on Sale" promotion. Savings include 2 for 1 fares plus free airfare, free pre-paid gratuities, free unlimited internet, and shipboard credit. Fares expire 12/31/14. For details click here.
Oceania Cruises: For a limited time Oceania Cruises is offering 2 for 1 cruise fares plus free airfares on select Alaska cruises, plus early booking savings. Fares expire 12/31/2014. For sailings click here.
Expedition Cruise Line Deals:
Lindblad Expeditions: Lindblad Expeditions is offering a $550 air credit on select departures of Wild Island and Treasures of Baja California Holiday Adventures. Book by December 31, 2014. For sailings dates and details, click here.
Un-Cruise Adventures: Beginning October 1, Un-Cruise Adventures unrolls a new adventure savings of up to $500 per couple on new cruise reservations made by December 30, 2014. For details click here.
Sailing Vessel/Yacht Cruise Line Deals:
Star Clippers: For a limited time Star Clippers is offering $500 onboard credit on select holiday sailings. Book by November 30, 2014. For details and sailings click here.
Star Clippers: For a limited time Star Clippers is waiving the single supplement on select holiday sailings. Book by November 30, 2014 to take advantage of this offer. For details and sailings click here.
Want to know what each of these lines includes? Take a look at our All Inclusive Chart.
Need a better understanding of what categories the cruise lines fall into, and why? Visit the Cruise Line Types page on AllThingsCruise.
The Most Popular Ultra-Luxury Ships, As Voted by The AllThingsCruise Readers
Thanks to the reviews provided by our AllThingsCruise readers, we can announce the Luxury Cruise ships that have proven the most popular in 2014. The ships are scored on a 5-star rating system, with 5 being the highest, and here are the results!
|SeaDream Yacht Club
|Regent Seven Seas Cruises
||Seven Seas Voyager
||MS Paul Gauguin
|Regent Seven Seas Cruises
||Seven Seas Mariner
|Regent Seven Seas Cruises
||Seven Seas Navigator
|SeaDream Yacht Club
Read full ship and port reviews here.
Featured Travel Writers
Cindy Boal Janssens sails on the new Scenic Jade river ship on the Danube from Nuremburg to Budapest. Read her reports.
Jackie Finch makes her first trip to Greece on the Louis Cristal. Read her impressions here.
Welcome Len Kaufman as ATC's featured cruise videographer. View his exciting videos here.
New ATC blogger David G. Houser sails on the small ship Independence with American Cruise Lines.
Robert W. Bone is sailing from Quebec City to Boston on HAL's Veendam. Read his travel diary.
Julie Hatfield embarks on an Adriatic Odyssey aboard the Panorama. Follow her here.
Marcia Levin travels on European Waterways’ L'Impressioniste barge in Southern Burgundy. Read her reports here.
Gerry Barker goes on a concert cruise with Carnival. See if he likes it!