Holland America vs. Celebrity Cruises

HAL v Celebrity

Both Celebrity Cruises and Holland America Line offer cruisers a sophisticated at-sea experience, but they differ wildly when it comes to the onboard vibe. While Holland America attracts an older demographic who prefer a night in the lounge listening to live music to late-night parties, Celebrity appeals to a younger, more urbane set who are more likely to be on top of the latest food, wine and cocktail trends. To help you pick the cruise line that is right for you, Cruise Critic pits Holland America vs. Celebrity in a head-to-head comparison. There is no winner -- except you, who will have a better idea of which cruise line suits your needs.

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Compare by: Fleet | Pricing | Demographics | Itineraries | Cabins | Dining | Pool Deck Fun | Sports Deck Fun | Indoor Fun | Nightlife | Family Focus | Tradition vs Innovation

Holland America's Eurodam

Fleet size, ship sizes and ages

Holland America

  • 13 ships (14 by mid-2016), four built before 2000
  • Largest: Koningsdam (2,650 passengers, launching April 2016), Nieuw Amsterdam (2,106 passengers), Eurodam (2,104 passengers)
  • Smallest: Prinsendam (835 passengers)
  • Oldest: Maasdam (1993)

Celebrity Cruises

  • 10 ships, all built in 2000 or later
  • Largest: Celebrity Reflection (3,030 passengers)
  • Smallest: Celebrity Xpedition (92 passengers), Celebrity Constellation (2,038 passengers)
  • Oldest: Celebrity Millennium (2000)
  • All ships, except Celebrity Xpedition, fit into one of two classes: Millennium or Solstice Class
online shopper with a credit card

Pricing

Holland AmericaView Holland America Deals

  • Pricing is very dependent on the ship, destination and length of cruise; when compared to Celebrity cruise prices, Holland America prices tend to be lower, except in Alaska where they are fairly comparable
  • Pricing, in general, is higher than for lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, except on those lines' newest ships
  • Prices include meals in the main dining room and a handful of casual venues, but all alternative restaurants cost extra
  • All nightly entertainment is included

Celebrity CruisesView Celebrity Cruise Deals

  • Tiered pricing model for all cabins (except inside rooms) gives cruisers a choice of up to four inclusions (free Internet , beverage package, included gratuities or onboard credit)
  • When compared with Holland America, prices are generally higher, except in Alaska
  • Pricing, in general, is a tad higher than for lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, and does not vary greatly across the fleet
  • Prices include dining in several main dining room venues, but specialty restaurants incur an extra fee
  • All nightly entertainment is included, with the exception of the occasional reservation-only theme party
Couples on a cruise ship

Demographics

Holland AmericaView Holland America Roll Calls

  • Typical passenger age: mid-50s to mid-70s
  • All ships draw couples, solo cruisers and groups of friends ages 40 to 80s
  • Alaska cruises draw families, particularly multigenerational groups; few families on other sailings

Celebrity CruisesView Celebrity Roll Calls

  • Average passenger age: mid 40s to early 50s
  • All ships draw couples and groups of friends ages 35 to 70s
  • Passenger mix includes families during holidays and peak travel times
Noordam passengers on an Alaska cruise

Itineraries/Destinations/Homeports

Holland AmericaView Holland America Itineraries

  • Sails from nine North American mainland ports, varying by season, with no ships stationed at any port year-round
  • Offers seasonal sailings to Bermuda, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Canada and New England, Europe and Mexico, as well as through the Panama Canal and along the Pacific Coast
  • One of the strongest Alaska programs in the industry with a wide range of cruise itineraries and cruise tours
  • Exotic itineraries include Asia, Australia, the South Pacific, South America, Antarctica and world cruises

Celebrity CruisesView Celebrity Itineraries

  • Sails from seven North American mainland ports, varying by season, with no ships stationed at a single port year-round
  • Offers seasonal cruises to the Caribbean, Bermuda, Bahamas, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada and New England, and Europe
  • Exotic itineraries visit Australia, Asia, South America, South Pacific and the Middle East
  • Offers soft adventure sailings to the Galapagos Islands on Celebrity Xpedition
Reflection Suite

Cabins

Holland America

  • Between 23 cabin categories on the smallest ship to 38 on the largest; all divided among six basic categories
  • Higher-level suite perks (Neptune and Pinnacle Suites only) include priority tendering, free laundry and pressing services, access to the Neptune Lounge, canapes served nightly, free mimosas with ensuite breakfast, free bottled water on embarkation and more
  • Spa cabins (on select ships only) do not come with priority access to the spa or thermal suite; spa cabin amenities include a loofah mitt and bath salts, yoga mat, two pedometers and a countertop water feature for a relaxed ambiance
  • Unique cabin design includes Lanai rooms, which are technically ocean-view cabins but have sliding glass doors that open directly onto the public Lower Promenade Deck with deck chairs just outside the door
  • Newest ship (Koningsdam, which launches April 2016) will have cabins specifically designed and priced for solo travelers, as well as a selection of family-specific cabins (the only ones in the fleet)

Celebrity Cruises

  • Between 23 cabin categories on Millennium-class ships and 24 to 27 on Solstice-class vessels, all divided between 10 basic categories; Celebrity Xpedition has seven room category choices
  • Suite benefits include priority boarding and disembarking, access to a suites-only dining room, reserved theater seating on formal nights and access to Michael's Club Lounge; cruisers in the highest suite categories also receive free Internet, unlimited dining in all specialty restaurants for lunch and dinner, a free premium beverage package for everyone in the suite and complimentary mini-bar stocked with water, soda and beer
  • Spa-inspired AquaClass cabins (on all ships except Xpedition) come with priority check-in and disembarkation, limitless access to the Relaxation Room (Solstice Class only) and Persian Garden thermal suite, as well as exclusive access to Blu, a health-centric eatery; other amenities include a pillow menu and upgraded bath toiletries
  • Limited family room options including connecting cabins and family-sized ocean-view cabins with two bedrooms
Top Chef display table

Dining

Holland America

  • Main dining room options include traditional (same time and tablemates every night) and the flexible As You Wish program (choose when you want to eat and sit at different tables each time)
  • No more than four alternative restaurants on any ship (all for a fee), except on Koningsdam, which has more
  • At least once per voyage in the for-fee Pinnacle Grill, passengers can dine on menu items taken directly from famed restaurant, Le Cirque -- for a price much less than what they'd pay on land
  • One formal Gala Night per seven-night cruise (two on cruises up to 13 nights and three on sailings up to 20 nights), requiring passengers to swap out casual wear for formal attire

Celebrity Cruises

  • Main dining room options include fixed (same time, same tablemates every night) and the flexible Celebrity Select program (choose when you want to dine, at different tables each night)
  • Up to six alternative restaurants are available on each ship (varies by vessel), with only a handful included in the cruise price
  • Through an agreement with Bravo and the TV show "Top Chef," onboard culinary activities include Quickfire Challenges and Top Chef Nights in the main dining room, as well as select Top Chef Signature Sailings on which prior contestants provide cooking demonstrations and mingle with passengers
  • Two Evening Chic (not formal) nights per weeklong sailing asking passengers to dress up a bit more than on another nights (think button-down shirts for men and cocktail dresses for women)
The lido deck hot tubs and pool on Eurodam

Pool Deck Fun

Holland America

  • Most ships have one main pool; 10 also have an aft pool, five have a for-fee indoor therapeutic pool and five have a top-deck, teen-only pool
  • Most ships have at least five whirlpools
  • Minimal pool games on warm-weather sailings

Celebrity Cruises

  • Two to three pools on all ships, with two on the main pool deck and a third typically in the adults-only Solarium; at least six whirlpools, with two always in the Solarium
  • Select Solstice-class ships have a Wet Zone splash area for kids
  • Minimal poolside games, with the pool deck used mostly for lounging
The Lawn ClubThe Hot Glass Show on Celebrity Eclipse

Sports Deck Fun

Holland America

  • Most ships have a jogging track and basketball court and either a volleyball or tennis court

Celebrity Cruises

  • All Solstice-class ships have The Lawn Club, a massive Central Park-style area with real grass, featuring lawn bowling and bocce
  • All ships have a half-ship jogging track and basketball courts
  • Three Solstice-class ships also offer daily Corning Museum of Glass hot glass demonstrations
Rembrandt Wine Tasting on Eurodam

Indoor Fun

Holland America

  • A partnership with BBC Earth brings classes on wildlife or photography, interactive quiz shows, big-screen viewings of BBC Earth programs and films onboard
  • The Digital Workshop Powered by Windows program offers classes on blogging, social media, picture editing and digital scrapbooking
  • Cooking demonstrations and interactive classes offered through the Culinary Arts Center
  • Other daily activities might include trivia, arts and crafts, dance classes, sea day chamber music recitals, bingo and wine tastings at the onboard Wine Tasting Bar (on most ships, but not all)
  • Koningsdam takes the wine-tasting experience to a new level with BLEND by Chateau Ste. Michelle, where up to 10 wine-lovers learn about and taste wine prior to mixing up to five wines to create their own blend

Celebrity Cruises

  • Daily activities might include trivia, themed lectures, dance classes, bingo and wine tastings
  • The iLounge (on all ships) offers up to 18 Apple classes on blogging, Photoshop, website creation and other computer skills
  • The Art Studio on the Lawn Club (on two Solstice-class ships) offers art classes like jewelry-making, sketching and painting
B.B. King's Blues Club on Eurodam

Nightlife

Holland America

  • Seven ships (including the soon-to-launch Koningsdam) offer the B.B. King's Blues Club, a nightly show in the Queen's Lounge, highlighting the Memphis music scene
  • By April 2016, three ships (Koningsdam, Eurodam and Oosterdam) will feature Lincoln Center Stage, which brings live chamber music to the high seas
  • The same ships will also feature Billboard Onboard, a live music stage where two pianists, a guitarist and a DJ play chart-topping hits from the past 50 years
  • Main-stage theater shows including musical revues, illusionists, comedians and concerts
  • Various lounges offer nightly live music, from classical quartets to duos offering light tunes

Celebrity Cruises

  • Theater shows include revue-style song-and-dance productions, Cirque du Soleil-inspired acrobatic shows and one-off comedy and magic acts
  • Nightly live music in several lounges, as well as DJ'd dance parties
  • Solstice-class ships feature a once-per-cruise, evening jazz concert on the lawn
Fun Factory on Celebrity Solstice

Family Focus

Holland AmericaHolland America Family Cruise Reviews

  • Club HAL programming is divided by age group for 3- to 7-year-olds, 8- to 12-year-olds, and 13- to 17-year-olds
  • Five ships have a top-deck Oasis teen hangout spot with teen-only pool
  • Kids can take part in "Walking with Dinosaurs" activities through the line's partnership with BBC Earth, along with other BBC Earth-themed happenings
  • Club HAL After Hours babysitting is available from 10 p.m. until midnight for kids aged 3 to 12; at other times, and for children under 5, limited babysitting might be available on sea days
  • Family-specific cabins are only available on the soon-to-launch Koningsdam

Celebrity CruisesCelebrity Family Cruise Reviews

  • The Fun Factory kids' club offers three age-specific subgroups for kids aged 3 to 5, 6 to 8, and 9 to 11; teens have the X Club, a hangout spot featuring social activities, the newest gaming consoles, sports activities and teens-only late night dances
  • Offers extra fee, in-cabin babysitting for children ages 12 months and older (except on Celebrity Xpedition)
  • Very small selection of family-friendly cabin choices
The Lawn Club on Celebrity Eclipse

Tradition vs Innovation

Holland America

  • As traditional as one can find among North American-based cruise lines with an emphasis on main dining rooms, upscale alternative restaurants, live music and an overall dignified vibe
  • Koningsdam, which launches April 2016, will be the first ship in the Holland America fleet to break its traditional mold, experimenting with new spaces onboard, including the World Stage, which features a 270-degree LED screen, high-tech lighting/sound systems and the ability to easily switch gears to different stage configurations. It also will host five new production shows

Celebrity Cruises

  • Celebrity ships have fewer gimmicks than lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian (no sky diving or crazy water slides), but does experiment with the onboard experience through spaces like The Lawn Club (which features a half-acre of real grass) and the Qsine molecular restaurant

Holland America

Celebrity Cruises