Holland America's ships afford a traditional cruising experience with modern touches that don't feel overbearing. The refined fleet holds onto numerous traditions, such as afternoon tea and extensive art collections, but keeps the onboard ambience fresh with innovative dining and entertainment options. All of the ships bear a similar look and feel with vintage-style navy blue hulls, understated decor with pops of color and artsy fixtures, classy dining venues, bold theaters and simplified pool areas (no waterslides or party stages).
The line offers a wide array of daily activities, which include enrichment programs like cooking classes, wine tastings, mixology classes, art events, themed trivia games, fitness classes, Digital Workshop seminars, movies and other special interest events during the day. Nightlife is fairly understated with predinner cocktails generally being the liveliest time. However, numerous entertainment options run the gamut from production shows and live band performances to dancing, piano bar sing-alongs and occasional late nights in the nightclub.
Holland America has introduced some innovative options, including partnerships with BBC Earth, Lincoln Center, Billboard Magazine and Rolling Stone Magazine.
The B.B. King's Blues Club experience, which debuted on Eurodam in March 2013 and has since been added to a handful of ships, is a HAL favorite. In each ship's Queen's Lounge, passengers can enjoy music and entertainment straight from Beale Street in Memphis. HAL also has recently teamed up with Billboard Onboard to add a new musical experience under the same time that consists of a sing-along piano/guitar spot focusing on hits from a number of eras and genres like pop, rock and country.
Holland America has always paid attention to the culinary arts in its dining and enrichment offerings. It offers both traditional set-time, same-tablemates dining, as well as "As You Wish" dining, which allows passengers more flexibility in choosing when and with whom they eat.
Holland America has long had a reputation for catering to a well-heeled but somewhat traditionally minded crowd. Perhaps that's due to the line's insistence on maintaining its traditions with elegant afternoon tea, ballroom dancing, tennis courts and timeless decor throughout the fleet. An emphasis on worldwide, often lengthy, itineraries also attracts an older crowd with the time and money for these extended voyages. But standard modern features like Internet cafes and alternative restaurants, coupled with superb kids facilities (Club HAL) and a growing entertainment lineup do entice younger passengers and families alike. Many are onboard as part of multigenerational groups. Don't expect to see lots of children until the summer season, unless you're sailing on a shorter itinerary or during a holiday.
Fourteen ships (as of July 2019) comprise Holland America's fleet, which is divided into several classes. Classes vary by ship size and what's offered onboard (ships within each class typically share a similar design, layout and features).
Koningsdam and Niuew Statendam make up the newest Pinnacle class of ships, and are the largest and most innovative in the fleet with a passenger capacity of 2,650. The ships includes a handful of firsts for the line, including a two-tiered Lido Pool with an outdoor movie screen, a main theater with an 270-degree LED screen and new restaurants (for example: Sel de Mer, which serves up seafood and French fare in a traditional brasserie setting).
Nieuw Amsterdam and Eurodam, which make up the line's Signature Class, are the second-largest in the fleet -- and the newest before Koningsdam. Both roughly 2,100-passenger ships lean more toward the trendy side of traditional, with features like Tamarind, the line's specialty Asian restaurant, and basketball courts instead of tennis courts.
The line's Vista Class includes four ships: Noordam, Oosterdam, Westerdam and Zuiderdam. All cater to slightly more than 1,900 passengers. These ships introduced to the fleet more cabins with ocean views, expanded public areas and contemporary touches like glass-walled elevators.
The Rotterdam Class, which was spearheaded by 61,849-ton Rotterdam in 1997, was designed to show off traditional Holland America at its best. Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Volendam and Zaandam are perhaps the most opulent ships in the fleet, with gleaming dark woods, ornate dining facilities, grand atriums and original artwork throughout.
Maasdam, Ryndam, Statendam and Veendam make up the Statendam Class, the smallest of Holland America's mid-sized ships. Launched between 1993 and 1996, these four vessels epitomize the line's vintage charm as the oldest in the fleet. The ships were ordered not long after Carnival Corporation bought Holland America. Since Carnival didn't want the Holland America ships to compete as heavily with its own Carnival Cruise Lines, the Statendam ships were kept to a more modest size, ranging from 1,258 to 1,350 passengers. It's a nice configuration that feels more spacious than other mid-sized ships.