Holland America Line chefs, led by Master Chef Rudi Sodamin, utilize more than 500 different food items on a typical weeklong cruise to create the modern Continental cuisine and traditional favorites served to their passengers.
Vegetarian options as well as health-conscious cuisine are available, and special dietary requests can be handled with advance notice. The food quality, taste, and selection have greatly improved in recent years. A case in point is the reservations-required Pinnacle Grill alternative restaurants, where fresh seafood and premium cuts of sustainably raised beef from Washington State’s Double R Ranch are used to prepare creative specialty dishes. The $35 per person charge for dinner would be worth it for the Dungeness crab cakes starter and dessert alone. Other delicious traditions are afternoon tea, a Dutch Chocolate Extravaganza, and Holland America Line’s signature bread pudding.
Flexible scheduling allows for early or late seatings in the two-deck, formal restaurants. An open seating option from 5:15 to 9 has been introduced fleetwide.
Entertainment tends to be more Broadway-stylish than Las Vegas–brash.
Colorful revues are presented in main show lounges by the ships’ companies of singers and dancers. Other performances might include a range of cabaret acts: comedians, magicians, jugglers, and acrobats. Live bands play a wide range of musical styles for dancing and listening in smaller lounges and piano bars. Movies are shown daily in cinemas that double as the Culinary Arts Centers.
Holland America Line may never be considered cutting-edge, but their innovative Signature of Excellence concept sets it apart from other premium cruise lines. An interactive Culinary Arts Center offers cooking demonstrations and wine-tasting sessions; Explorations Café (powered by the New York Times) is a coffeehouse, library, and Internet center; the Explorations Guest Speakers Series is supported by in-cabin televised programming on flat-screen TVs in all cabins; the traditional Crow’s Nest observation lounge has a nightclub-disco layout, video wall, and sound-and-light systems; and facilities for children and teens have been greatly expanded.
Fitness & Recreation
Well-equipped and fully staffed fitness facilities contain state-of-the-art exercise equipment; basic fitness classes are available at no charge.
There’s a fee for personal training, body composition analysis, and specialized classes such as yoga and Pilates.
Treatments in the Greenhouse Spa include a variety of massages, body wraps, and facials. Hair styling and nail services are offered in the salons. All ships have a jogging track, multiple swimming pools, and sports courts; some have hydrotherapy pools and soothing thermal suites.