Long recognised as a leader in the premium cruise segment, and noted for the variety and creativity of its itineraries and shore excursions, Holland America Line vows to continue that tradition with new ports of call and enhanced shoreside activities. The one area where this dedication becomes evident is when planning for the 58 European cruises the premium line operates every year.

DIVERSE ITINERARIES

“Each port of call is selected to meet the expectations of loyal guests who return year after year.”

For 2004 and beyond, the itineraries for cruise ships Westerdam, Noordam, Rotterdam and Prinsendam are as varied as Europe. Holland America, which has been cruising Europe for over 130 years, will visit more than 100 ports on 58 cruises ranging from nine to 17 days.

For the 2004–05 season, the line has added Gallipoli in Italy; Melilla in Spain; Mitilini in Greece; Sevastopol in Ukraine; Milford Haven in Wales; Liverpool in UK; and Skagen in Denmark, to its European itineraries.

With the addition in the past year of two new ships to the fleet – the Oosterdam and Westerdam – Holland America Line will offer a total of nearly 500 sailings on 13 ships from 23 home ports, including new departures from historic maritime centres such as Athens, Greece; Barcelona, Spain; Norfolk, Virginia and Baltimore, USA.

Holland America Line prides itself on providing distinctive itineraries that vary each year according to passenger preference. Each port of call is selected to meet the expectations of Holland America Line’s loyal guests who return year after year.

TOP TEN PORTS Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

When forming new itineraries for each season, Holland America Line looks to its guests for guidance. It surveys passengers to find out their likes and dislikes when journeying to destinations throughout the seven continents. Passenger ratings determine which ports are added and dropped from the cruise itineraries, and guests return to Holland America Line because each time they cruise they discover new ports of call.

In a recent survey of the top ten ports in Europe, Holland America Line guests rated Mahon, on the Spanish island of Minorca, their favourite port. Olive-wood gates and miles of stonewalls lure Minorca’s visitors into the countryside, and sandy beaches and clean water bring them to the coast. In the town of Mahon, pearls, pottery and shoes make the boutiques irresistible to those meandering along the cobblestone streets. Guests can view architecture dating from the British occupation, which left its mark on the customs of the people.

The port of Cadiz, Spain was rated number two. From Cadiz, visitors can taste the sherries of Jerez and visit an Andalusian equestrian school, or drive through cork plantations to see the city of Seville. Cadiz boasts a thirteenth-century cathedral and ancient castle walls and it takes only an hour to walk around the bluff where visitors can explore the old town and admire views of the sea.

Alghero, the third highest rated port, is located in the northwest corner of Sardinia, Italy. Alghero’s character reflects the remnants of its Catalan history in its language, architecture and culture. From Alghero, guests can visit the twelfth-century fortress town of Castelsardo with its cliff top views.

“Visitors are free to cruise the sparkling waterways and navigate narrow, medieval streets.”

Stockholm, Sweden’s capital, is the number-four on the top-ten list. Spread across 18 islands, Stockholm is often called the ‘Venice of the North’. Visitors are free to cruise the sparkling waterways and navigate narrow, medieval streets.

Kos, Greece was rated number five and is one of the most luminous islands in the Aegean Sea. It is rich in history and has great weather nearly all year round. The island’s beautiful beaches and sparkling clear waters please everyone who visits.

Rated sixth was Kusadasi, Turkey, near Ephesus and home to the one remaining pillar from the Temple of Artemis – an ancient wonder of the world. Marble streets lead past magnificent ruins of temples, baths and the Celsus Library.

At number seven is Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark and one of Europe’s oldest and most magnificent capitals. Its friendly atmosphere makes it easy for visitors to feel at home. Visitors are invited to stroll the fairytale world of the Tivoli Gardens to take in the bright lights and castles of this light-hearted city.

Santorini, Greece, ranked eighth, offers one of the most impressive settings in the world. Santorini was destroyed by a volcano in 1500BC and was uncovered by archaeologists in 1967. Many believe it is the lost city of Atlantis, and visitors can admire preserved frescoes painted 3600 years ago.

In Amsterdam, Netherlands, the ninth choice, visitors can decide whether the real masterpieces are the old houses that flank graceful canals or the Van Goghs, Rembrandts and Vermeers in the city’s grand museums and galleries. Impressive Gothic structures are situated next to baroque buildings, and the city’s almost 7000 intact historic buildings make Amsterdam a historical work of art.

The tenth most popular port on the list is the world’s northernmost capital city of Reykjavik, Iceland. Visitors can wander down the city’s main shopping avenue, Laugavegur, and stroll the street for high fashion items. Glaciers, fjords, hot springs and geysers await visitors beyond Reykjavik’s city limits.

SIGNATURE OF EXCELLENCE

As part of its effort to strengthen its position as the leading premium cruise line, Holland America Line has undertaken the Signature of Excellence initiative. Among its most exciting enhancements is the addition of unparalleled port itineraries and shore excursions.

Holland America Line will improve its shore excursion programme by adding more ‘Medallion Shore Excursions’. Designed for experienced travellers, the Medallion excursions provide an exclusive perspective on the culture, history and heritage of the area visited. These unique experiences are offered in several ports and range from viewing the molten lava flows of Kilauea in Hawaii to private helicopter tours over Hong Kong.

As part of the initiative, guests are offered a new way to discover many of the line’s 280 enchanting ports of call with the added Signature Collection touring option. Holland America Line’s seasoned travellers are offered the flexibility to customise their time ashore. Guests can travel in the comfort of a private luxury vehicle with the personal attention of their own driver and an English-speaking guide. The service is provided in 46 European ports of call and will be added to other destinations worldwide.

The goal at Holland America Line is to provide the best variety of shore excursions in the industry and make sure that our guests enjoy the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in every port of call. The Signature Collection is designed specifically for guests who desire the flexibility and freedom of designing their own itinerary while in port. It allows them to take advantage of their time ashore and visit destinations that spark their interest.

SEARCH FOR DIVERSITY

“The goal is to provide the best variety of shore excursions and to make sure guests enjoy the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in every port of call.”

When it comes to ports, Holland America Line looks first and foremost for a destination that guests will enjoy. There is a constant search for diverse offerings for the typical Holland America Line guest, who tend to be well-travelled, with an above-average incomes, aged 45 years and older, and who want a cruise experience that is classic but also comes with fantastic service.

The logistics of each port is important in destination choice. Can the ship dock or must guests be tendered to shore? Can supplies be obtained? What type of supplies might be needed in a port of call, based on how far into the cruise the specific port might be? How expensive is the port of call? How far is the main area of town from the pier?

Every step is made to ensure that Holland America guests get the most out of each trip. A company representative visits each new port to take the tours, study the logistics, catch a cab from the pier, walk the shopping district, eat a meal near the pier, and virtually anything else guests may want to do. This ensures that the cruise line is making wise choices and providing the best possible experience for guests.

Through the addition of destinations, ports of call and development of the Signature of Excellence initiative, Holland America Line offers guests a cruise experience like no other. Providing new experiences translates into continued bookings. And that, in turn, means those ports will see more happy visitors.