Cruiseline: Holland America Line | CruiseBe - Your ultimate cruise itinerary aggregator
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MS Amsterdam


MS Eurodam


MS Maasdam


MS Koningsdam


Holland America Line

Holland America Line is an American/British owned cruise line; a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation & plc. Originating in the Netherlands, the company is now based in Seattle, United States.

From 1873 to 1989, it was a Dutch shipping line, a passenger line, a cargo line and a cruise line operating primarily between the Netherlands and North America. As part of this rich legacy, it was instrumental in the transport of many hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the Netherlands to North America.

History as a Dutch shipping and passenger line (1873–1989)

Holland America Line was founded in 1873 as the Nederlandsche-Amerikaansche Stoomvaart Maatschappij (Dutch-American Steamship Company), a shipping and passenger line. It was headquartered in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and provided service to the Americas. The company was formed as a result of the reorganization of an earlier company, Plate, Reuchlin & Co. The company's first ship was the original Rotterdam, which sailed its 15-day maiden voyage from the Netherlands to New York City on October 15, 1872. Other services were started to other new world ports, including Hoboken, Baltimore and South America. Cargo service to New York started in 1899.

During the first 25 years the company carried 400,000 people from Europe to the Americas. Other North American ports were added during the early 20th century.

Though transportation and shipping were the primary sources of revenue, in 1895 HAL offered its first vacation cruise. Its second vacation cruise, from New York to Palestine, was first offered in 1910.

One notable ship was the elegant 36,000 gross ton SS Nieuw Amsterdam of 1937, it and the RMS Queen Mary being the only two liners built in the 1930s to make a profit.

At the start of the Second World War, HAL had 25 ships; nine remained at war's end. At the beginning of the war, the Westernland acquired from the Red Star Line in 1939, berthed at Falmouth, England, became the seat of the Dutch government. The Nieuw Amsterdam sailed half a million miles transporting 400,000 military personnel. After the war, the cruise line was instrumental in transporting a massive wave of immigrants from the Netherlands to Canada and elsewhere.

Another notable ship during the post-war period was the SS Rotterdam of 1959, one of the first North Atlantic ships equipped for two-class transatlantic crossing and one-class luxury cruising.

By the late 1960s, the golden era of transatlantic passenger ships had been ended by the introduction of air travel. HAL ended transatlantic service during the early 1970s, leaving the North Atlantic passenger trade for Cunard's RMS Queen Elizabeth 2.

In 1973 it sold its cargo shipping division.

It ceased operating as a Dutch line in 1989, when it was purchased by Carnival for 1.2 billion guilders (530 million euros). The proceeds were put into an investment company (HAL Investments), the majority of which is owned by the van der Vorm family.

Former fleet (Before 1989)

This is the category of Holland America Line Ships that left service or sank before 1989. The ones that had left service after 1989 are at the bottom of the page at the other category.

  • MS Prinsendam, 1973–80 — Sank off of the coast of Alaska.
  • SS Veendam (III), 1972–74, 1975–76, 1978–84 — Last in service for Commodore Cruise Line as Enchanted Isle
  • SS Volendam(I), 1922–1952 — 1940-45 Escaped to Britain in WW2, served as troop transport, returned to Rotterdam in 1945
  • SS Volendam (II), 1972–76, 1978–84 — Sister to SS Veendam (III); Last known as Universe Explorer of World Explorer Lines
  • SS Statendam (I), 1898-1911 — Sold to the Allan Line
  • SS Statendam (II) — Taken over before completion as the White Star Line's SS Justicia
  • SS Statendam (III), 1929-1940 — Scrapped after being set on fire to avoid capture at Rotterdam
  • SS Statendam (IV), 1956–1982 — Last in service for Regent Star as Regency. Inactive after Regent Star went bankrupt.
  • SS Maasdam (1921) (III) Torpedoed and sunk in convoy HX-133 on 27 Jun, 1941 by U-564 south of Iceland
  • SS Maasdam (IV), 1952–1968 — 1968–1990 in service for Polish Ocean Lines as Stefan Batory, the last regularly scheduled transatlantic liner, scrapped Turkey 2000
  • SS Ryndam (II), 1951–1973 — Sank 2003 on way to breakers
  • SS Waterman, 1951–1963 — Launched January 16, 1945 Decommissioned 1970.
  • SS Zuiderkruis, 1951–1963 — Launched May 5, 1944 Decommissioned 1969.
  • SS Groote Beer, 1951–1963 — Launched June 17, 1944 Decommissioned 1971.
  • SS Westerdam, 1945–1965 — Combination first class passenger/cargo vessel; scrapped Spain 1965
  • MV Zaandam, 1939–1942 — With passengers and 9200 tons of cargo was torpedoed and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean 300 nautical miles (560 km) north of Cape Sao Roque, Brazil, with the loss of 134 of the 299 people on board.
  • SS Nieuw Amsterdam, 1937 — In WW2 escaped to US neutral port, served as a British War Transport carrying over 350,000, returned to Holland in 1946. Breakers yard in 1974.
  • SS Rotterdam, 1908 — Scrapped 1940.
  • SS Noordam, 1902 — Scrapped 1927, alerted RMS Titanic to ice early into its ill-fated maiden voyage.
  • SS Potsdam, 1900 — Scrapped 1947. It was the largest ship HAL owned at the time it was in service.
  • SS Rotterdam, 1886 — Fate unknown.
  • Rotterdam, 1872 — Wrecked September 26, 1883.
  • SS Veendam (II) — Sister ship of SS Volendam (I). In 1940, bombed in Rotterdam, repaired and requestioned by Hamburg-America Line. Used for German submarine crews stationed in Hamburg. Returned to service from Rotterdam 1947, scrapped Baltimore 1953.
  • MS Sommelsdijk (III) — 1939 Pacific service, wartime service as U.S. troopship until Atlantic service in 1947, renamed Sommelsdyk1954 and scrapped 1965.

History as a US-based cruise line (1989–today)

In 1989, the Holland America Line was purchased by Carnival Corp, thus becoming an American owned cruise line headquartered in Seattle in the United States.

In 2003, Holland America announced its "Signature of Excellence" program. The ongoing program has focused on upgrading existing ships. The first phase included adding the Pinnacle Grill specialty restaurant, the Neptune Lounge (for suite guests), the Culinary Arts Center with demonstration kitchen, expanded children’s and teens’ facilities, enhanced stateroom amenities, and improved dining and enrichment offerings. The second phase of improvements (announced in 2008) added a new bar lounge area called Mix, the Showroom at Sea show lounge/nightclub, the Retreat resort pool area with pizzeria and LED screen and the Canaletto Italian specialty restaurant among other enhancements.

In the summer of 2011, the MS Rotterdam did two transatlantic crossings, the first traditional transatlantic runs made by the line in more than 40 years.

Since September 2012, the Rotterdam has been based year-round out of Rotterdam, sailing to Europe, the Caribbean, as well as Asia.

MS Prinsendam and MS Amsterdam make annual "Grand Voyages" lasting more than 60 days, exploring more exotic destinations in South America and Africa; the MS Amsterdam also make annual World Voyages, sailing around the world, usually ranging from January to March/April/May.

The line currently operates five different classes of ship: the smaller and older S class vessels; the mid range R class; the Vista class; the newest and largest Signature class and the small 793-passenger Prinsendam (originally the Royal Viking Sun, then Seabourn Sun until HAL's purchase in 2002).

All HAL ships have a dark blue hull with white superstructure, with the company's logo featured prominently on the functional smoke stacks.

Holland America also owns the following:

  • the Westmark hotel chain operating in Alaska and the Yukon
  • Worldwide Shore Services, providing warehouse and logistical support; and
  • Half Moon Cay, a private Caribbean island (known officially as Little San Salvador Island) with most Caribbean cruises spending a day there.

On October 26, 2012, it was announced that a memorandum of agreement had been signed with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri for the construction of a 2,660-passenger ship for Holland America Line scheduled for delivery in spring 2016. The MS Koningsdam, which will be a new class of vessel for the line (The Pinnacle Class), will enter service five years after the last Holland America ship, the MS Nieuw Amsterdam, delivered in 2010. Also noted was that the addition of new ships would maintain passenger capacity if some of the older Carnival Corporation ships are sold.

Current fleet

Statendam class (S class): MS Maasdam, MS Veendam

The two S class ships Statendam and Maasdam began life as virtually identical vessels except for décor. They were the first new HAL cruise ships to incorporate features like the atrium, the two-deck main dining room and show lounge, and the Lido pool with retractable roof. These vessels are currently undergoing a series of major refits.

All S class ships received the first phase of Signature of Excellence upgrades (detailed above) between 2004 and 2006.

It was announced on May 19, 2014 that both the Statendam & Ryndam will transfer to P&O Cruises Australia fleet; with more details to come.

Rotterdam class (R class):
MS Rotterdam, MS Volendam, MS Zaandam, MS Amsterdam

Unlike the vessels of the S class, Holland America Line's R class ships did not all start out identical. Rotterdam, the first of the four, was similar to the S class, but slightly longer and wider, with a third set of passenger stairs/elevators, twin funnels, and some new facilities. The twins Volendam and Zaandam followed, similar to Rotterdam, but with a different (single) funnel and larger because the aft pool was moved up one deck to the Lido level, creating more space for passenger accommodations below. The final R class ship, Amsterdam, like a hybrid of Rotterdam and Volendam/Zaandam, incorporates Rotterdam's twin funnels as well as the Lido deck aft pool. Together, Rotterdam and Amsterdam are considered HAL's flagships.

All R class ships received the first phase of Signature of Excellence upgrades (detailed above) between 2005 and 2009.

Vista class (V class):
MS Zuiderdam, MS Oosterdam, MS Westerdam, MS Noordam

HAL's four Vista class ships are named for the points of the compass in Dutch. Noord for north, Zuid for south, Oost for east and West for West. These ships were designed mainly for shorter (less than two weeks) cruises in the Caribbean, Alaska and Europe. These ships are notable because of the exceptionally great number of oceanview and verandah staterooms - more than 85% and 67% respectively. The first three Vista class vessels were built as identical triplets. Noordam incorporated a few design changes, including a more vertical aft profile, which makes her larger, with a slightly greater passenger capacity. The success of Noordam's revised design caused HAL to modify the other three Vista class ships with aft expansions to mimic Noordam.

In 2006, the Vista class cruise ships were awarded the 2006 Green Planet Award for outstanding environmental standards by Kuoni Switzerland.

Zuiderdam, Oosterdam and Westerdam received the first phase of Signature of Excellence upgrades (detailed above) between 2005 and 2006, while Noordam was built to SOE1 standards.

Signature class: MS Eurodam, MS Nieuw Amsterdam

The Signature class ships are essentially an enhanced Vista class design. The main difference is the addition of a deck between the Lido and Observation decks. This allows for more cabins (mostly spa accommodations) and some additional facilities including the specialty restaurant Tamarind and the Silk Den lounge.

Both Signature class ships were built to Signature of Excellence (first phase) standards (detailed above).

Pinnacle class: MS Koningsdam

Constructed at the Fincantieri shipyards, Koningsdam is the largest ship to be built for Holland-America, and is the size of the ex-Ryndam and ex-Statendam joined together. The new vessel has a beam of 35 metres, complying with the New Panamax dimensions and allowing it to cruise through the new wider locks currently under construction at the Panama Canal. It was launched on February 15, 2016.

The "Elegant Explorer": MS Prinsendam

Currently the smallest and oldest HAL ship, Prinsendam is in a class by herself. The only Holland America Line ship currently not built for the line, Prinsendam enjoyed a career with Royal Viking Line, Cunard Line and Seabourn Cruise Line before joining the HAL fleet after an extensive refit in 2002. Prinsendam does not have a two-deck main dining room or main lounge, an indoor/outdoor pool, or dedicated children's facilities like other HAL vessels.

Prinsendam received the first phase of Signature of Excellence upgrades (detailed above) in 2005.

Future fleet

Pinnacle class MS Nieuw Statendam (Nov 2018)

Former Fleet (After 1989)

Holland America's parent company Carnival currently owns 3 ships operated by Thomson Cruises, all of which are ex Holland America Ships. Both the Thomson Celebration and Thomson Spirit sailed for Holland America as the Noordam (1984) and Nieuw Amsterdam (1983) before being transferred to the Thomson fleet in 2005 and 2003. Thomson Spirit is operated by Louis Cruises under sub charter to Thomson but the Thomson Celebration remains under the operation of Carnival. The Thomson Dream was built as Homeric in 1986 before moving to Holland America as Westerdam in 1988. After Carnival took over Costa Cruises in 2000 this ship was then transferred to the Costa fleet as Costa Europa in 2002. It has been chartered to Thomson since 2010. It was announced on May 19, 2014 that both the Statendam & Ryndam will transfer to P&O Cruises Australia fleet; with more details to come.


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