Cruise

Cruises 101

by Sherri Eisenberg

Holland America Line

Number of ships: 13
Ship capacity: 790 to 1,900 passengers
Price range: Moderate

The audience: The line offers a broad range of itineraries, and it likewise attracts a broad range of passengers. As with Princess and Celebrity, where you're headed often determines who you're traveling with. Northern Europe voyages actually draw some of the oldest crowds, despite visits to hip cities like Copenhagen.

Strengths: Where Norwegian has updated cruising for the modern traveler, HAL appeals to traditionalists. The line has preserved assigned seatings, as well as formal afternoon tea and a "gentleman host" program for older, single women who prefer having an escort for dinner and dancing. The ocean-liner decor reflects this old-world bent. Still, you'll find nice modern touches such as Internet cafés, 24-hour complimentary room service, and cooking programs with such noted chefs as chocolatier Jacques Torres. The line just announced a flexible seating program that’ll allow passengers to dine between 5:15 pm and 9 pm, rather than only at an assigned time. It's a step in a more modern direction.

Weaknesses: If you aren't a traditionalist, you may find it to be utterly stodgy (the line has been around since 1873, after all). Ships have far fewer restaurants than competitors, so cuisine choices are somewhat limited. And the live Broadway-esque shows are dodgy—think bad high school productions, complete with sequin-trimmed costumes.

Insider tip: Passengers can now check-in online and print out a boarding pass—skipping the main (and slow) line to get onboard.

Itineraries: The Caribbean and Alaska are specialties, but Holland America also sails around the entire coast of Africa, around South America, and in Europe. Its 17-day Panama Canal cruise goes from Los Angeles to New York via the Mexican coast, Costa Rica, Aruba, and the Bahamas (from $2,400 per person).

Holland America Line
Tel: 877 724 5425

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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