Holland America Line: The Complete Cruise Guide

Holland America offers a subdued cruising experience that largely appeals to more relaxed or mature cruisers.
Profile photo of Sally French
Written by Sally French
Lead Writer/Spokesperson
Profile photo of Giselle M. Cancio
Assistant Assigning Editor
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Holland America Line’s current fleet includes 11 ships, which are mostly midsize. They visit all seven continents, with stops in the Caribbean, Tahiti, the Mediterranean, Antarctica and more. Its Alaska presence is especially strong, and Holland America claims it has visited Glacier Bay National Park more than any other cruise operator.

Holland America’s parent company is Carnival Cruise Line, which acquired Holland America in 1989. But while Carnival touts offerings like the “first roller coaster at sea” on its flagship brand, Holland America is for folks with — let’s call it — more refined tastes.

Here’s your guide to Holland America, including amenities, costs and how you might save money on your next sailing.

Is a Holland America cruise right for you?

Many ships feature a library. (Photo by Sally French)

Here are some types of people best suited for Holland America:

Travelers ready for relaxation rather than partying

Though open to travelers of any age (infants must be at least six months old to embark on most cruises), Holland America caters to the mature set.

Unlike Disney Cruises or Royal Caribbean ships, which are laden with waterslides, flashy designs and high-energy shows, Holland America is more subdued. Its most lively entertainment includes a casino, trivia nights and live music. Children or adult travelers seeking maximum stimulation might be less enthused.

But relaxed cruisers seeking peace might find it here.

Cruisers who prefer a ship that’s not too big yet not too small

The salon. (Photo by Sally French)

Every Holland America ship has a gym, portrait studio, sports courts, a spa, salon and multiple pools. On a short three-night cruise, you could eat three meals a day at a different restaurant and never hit them all. The largest ship has 10 restaurants, not including snack spots like the café and gelato shop.

Still, Holland America ships are relatively small. While Royal Caribbean’s behemoth Icon of the Seas ship has more than two dozen restaurants and a capacity for 5,610 guests, Holland America’s largest ship, Rotterdam, accommodates 2,668 guests.

Holland America destinations

Holland America covers almost 100 countries or territories and more than 470 ports, including stops in the Amazon and Antarctica.

For its 2025-26 cruise season, Holland America will operate in 11 countries in Asia alone. The primary focus is Japan, where it will dock in 24 ports around the country.

Mexico and Panama Canal cruises are also big. The 2025-26 cruise season adds a new stop at the port of Acajutla, El Salvador, on most Panama sailings. Meanwhile, two ships will offer Mexico itineraries with stops including Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta.

(Photo courtesy of Holland America)

The 2025-26 season brings an iconic Pacific Northwest itinerary that hasn’t been offered in decades. Dubbed the “Great Bear Rainforest,” the seven-day itinerary departs from Seattle and includes stops in Ketchikan, Alaska. Expect to see whales, eagles and potentially bears.

Explore all the current Holland America destinations.

Holland America ships

Here’s a breakdown of all 11 Holland America ships, sorted by largest to smallest guest capacity:


Suites feature whirlpool bathtubs. (Photo by Sally French)

The smallest, two-guest rooms are about 143 square feet, though suites are easily double that. The smallest suite, the Vista Suite, ranges from 260-356 square feet. For maximum space (and service), book the Pinnacle Suite, which fills roughly 1,290 square feet. High-end suites include frills like whirlpool bathtubs, vanities, dressing rooms, decks and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Holland America also caters to solo travelers by offering single-person staterooms that are as small as 127 square feet.

Whether you choose a lavish suite or an inside stateroom, expect fairly upscale accommodations.

Holland America food

Larger ships have a dozen or more eateries. Some restaurants operate on every ship, such as Canaletto (a casual Italian restaurant) and Lido Market (which serves meals in an all-you-can-eat, cafeteria-style setting).

All you can eat

Meals at The Dining Room are included with your cruise fare — a rare exception for fine dining restaurants on Holland America. (Photo by Sally French)

Most casual restaurants are complimentary and all-you-can-eat, included in your cruise fare.

While most restaurants cost extra, the exception is The Dining Room. Its multicourse dinners feature rotating, elevated menu items (such as lamb loin). As part of a partnership with Masaharu Morimoto, The Dining Room serves dishes similar to those in Morimoto’s restaurants.

No matter your cabin class, 24-hour room service is complimentary, delivering items such as salads and sandwiches.

With beverages, the free stuff is generally limited to the basics like water, tea and coffee. Sodas, specialty coffees, mocktails and alcohol cost extra.

What food costs extra?

Aside from The Dining Room, waiter-service restaurants cost extra. Some operate an à la carte model, such as Nami Sushi. There, entrees cost about $15, while sushi rolls run about $5 each.

Others charge fixed prices. For example, dinner at Pinnacle Grill, a steakhouse, costs an additional $46 per person. Certain items also have an additional charge (caviar costs an extra $50).

Though the additional charges might be annoying, they can be considered a deal relative to dining at a steakhouse on land.

In addition to fancy restaurants, some casual dining options (including the cafés and gelato shop) incur an extra fee.

🤓Nerdy Tip

For free ice cream, head to Lido Market, where you can DIY dessert at the ice cream station.

Holland America drink packages

On Holland America, you'll need to purchase a drink package to sip from these soda machines. (Photo by Sally French)

For beverages beyond the basics, buy them individually or through a drink package.

The soda-only package entails unlimited fountain drinks for $8 per person, per day.

The Quench package costs $17.95 per person, per day and includes sodas, premium coffee (like lattes), juice, mocktails and bottled water. It’s technically not unlimited, but there's plenty to go around with a 15-drink daily limit.

For packages with alcohol, you’ll owe at least $55 per person, per day (premium spirits cost more). Again, there’s a 15-drink daily cap.

Is the food any good?

Food quality varies. Lido Market is your run-of-the-mill buffet but other restaurants are generally excellent (just note the surcharge).

For example, dinner at Canaletto costs $25 extra per person and includes pasta and gelato — both made fresh on board.

Holland America also has some food options from famous chefs. The first Morimoto By Sea opened aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam, bringing the award-winning restaurant chain to sea.

A spread of items served at a Morimoto pop-up restaurant on the Koningsdam. (Photo by Sally French)

Holland America activities

The art gallery on the Koningsdam. (Photo by Sally French)

Holland America activities are pretty tame, such as live music and wine tasting.

A music venue. (Photo by Sally French)

Every ship features World Stage, a theater hosting entertainment like expert lecturer talks and dance performances. Ships also have at least one lounge or club, such as Rolling Stone Rock Room or B.B. King’s Blues Club.

A shuffleboard court on the Koningsdam. (Photo by Sally French)

Every ship has a casino, spa, fitness center and outdoor sport courts, including pickleball courts. After all, Holland America is the exclusive cruise line partner of the Professional Pickleball Association.

Holland America Kids Club

Most cruises offer a kids club with crafts, video games and scavenger hunts.

Kid-friendly offerings are extremely limited (especially compared with competitors like Royal Caribbean and Disney Cruise Line) so don’t expect many kids onboard. Many cruisers consider the lack of kids one of Holland America’s best features.

Which Holland America ship is best?

Because amenities are so similar on every ship, it’s hard to pick one best ship. But here are some factors to consider:

  • If you want the most options: Rotterdam is the largest (and has the most restaurants).

  • If you want the newest ship: The Rotterdam is also the newest ship, which first set sail in 2021. Newer ships often (though not always) mean better layouts and up-to-date fixtures.

  • If you prioritize smaller ships: Volendam and Zaandam are the smallest.

  • If you want to live on a ship: Two ships, Volendam and Zuiderdam, carry out the Grand Voyages and World Cruises, which sail around the world for months. Zuiderdam is slightly larger than Volendam — offering more guest rooms and entertainment venues.

The Crow's Nest offers a lounge for relaxing and panoramic views. (Photo by Sally French)

Holland America: How much does it cost?

According to a NerdWallet analysis of more than 100 Holland America cruise itineraries through 2024, the average seven-night, inside stateroom starts at $646 per person. That figure assumes double occupancy (so a couple sharing a room would owe about $1,300), but doesn’t account for extra fees, including taxes and gratuities, or optional add-ons like beverages or Wi-Fi.

Suites can easily cost double that (or far more). For example, the average Vista Suite (the lowest class of suites), averaged $1,322 per person for a seven-night trip. The fanciest of the suites, the Neptune Suite, averaged $2,766 per person.

An inside stateroom on the Koningsdam. (Photo by Sally French)

Prices can also vary widely by region. Here were the average prices per person for seven-night journeys (assuming inside staterooms with double occupancy), broken down by major regions:

  • California coast: $349.

  • Alaska: $413.

  • Caribbean: $609.

  • Mediterranean: $909.

  • Northern Europe: $972.

Other costs

The dessert spread at the Morimoto pop-up restaurant on the Koningsdam. (Photo by Sally French)

That’s the base fare, but anticipate other expenses, including:

  • Taxes, fees and port expenses: Holland America passes on fees and taxes imposed by governments or port operators. Expect a few hundred dollars added to your base rate. 

  • Gratuity/tip: An automatic $17 ‘Crew Appreciation’ charge is added per stateroom guest, per day. For guests in suites, it’s $19. Though automatically added, you can adjust the figure upon settling your bill at checkout.

  • Service charge: Add-ons like beverages, speciality meals and spa services incur an 18% service charge.

  • Ability to choose your stateroom: For those who want to sleep closest to the best deck on a cruise ship, there’s an additional fee to select your specific stateroom, though prices vary by cruise.

  • Some activities: Certain activities incur extra costs, such as spa treatments. 

  • Shore excursions: Upon docking, you’re free to exit the ship and roam around on your own, but Holland America sells curated shore excursions, too, that easily cost more than $100 per person. Prices vary by excursion. In Maui, you can tour a pineapple plantation for $190, while a behind-the-scenes tour of the Maui Ocean Center costs $560. Although you can book excursions through third parties, beware. Benefits of booking through Holland America include early departure and a guaranteed return.

  • Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi starts at roughly $22 per day depending on cruise length. More robust Wi-Fi (such as streaming capabilities) costs more than $30 per day.

  • Specialty dining and drinks: Specialty restaurants — as well as most beverages beyond basics such as coffee, tea and water — cost extra.

Is the Have It All premium cruise package worth it?

For the latter three items — shore excursions, Wi-Fi, speciality dining and drinks — the Have It All premium cruise package may be worth it.

Packages vary depending on the cruise length. Here’s what’s included:

NerdWallet analyzed dozens of Holland America cruise fares. On average, here’s how much money you would save, depending on the cruise length:

In every data point in NerdWallet’s analysis, the Have It All package ended up cheaper than buying all of those things a la carte. But consider what you really need. If you only drink one alcoholic beverage per day, the $55 beverage package probably isn’t worth it.

How to save on a Holland America cruise

Cruise last-minute: The Last Minute Cruise Deals page lists discounted sailings within the next 60-90 days. However, don’t overlook other costs such as potentially-expensive, last-minute airfare.

Scout out promotions: Holland America’s general deals page is the spot for Black Friday cruise deals or other seasonal promotions.

Refer a friend: Holland America regularly runs a referral program where you might get a cruise credit if your friend enters your name in the referral form.

Become an AARP member: AARP members can earn up to $200 in stateroom credits. Actual amounts depend on room type and cruise length. Considering AARP membership costs $16 annually (and potentially less if you commit to more than one year), joining pays for itself based on the cruise credit alone.

Should you purchase travel insurance for a Holland America cruise?

Holland America sells a cancellation protection plan, which allows you to cancel your cruise for any reason. It’s called the Holland America Line Cancellation Protection Plan (CPP). Unlike traditional insurance plans that require proof (e.g., a doctor’s note confirming illness) or have tons of fine print around reasons the insurer doesn’t have to pay out, CPP is convenient because it lets you cancel for truly any reason.

Plans start at $79, but can run higher depending on coverage and trip length.

The cheapest plan, Standard, requires you cancel at least 24 hours before departure. The Platinum Plan lets you cancel any time up to departure. Neither gets you a full refund though. The Standard Plan refunds up to 80% of your total cost, and Platinum refunds up to 90%.

The Platinum Plan also covers potential costs such as emergency medical and dental care, coverage for lost or delayed bags and trip delay insurance.

Be sure to compare prices with third-party insurance providers, and don’t overlook credit card coverage. Some credit cards offer travel insurance benefits on cruises purchased with that card. While credit cards likely won’t offer Cancel For Any Reason coverage, some plans are still quite comprehensive.

Barclaycard Holland America Line Rewards Visa Card Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 

Is the Holland America credit card worth it?

The Holland America Line Rewards Visa® Card has a $0 annual fee, so it’s hard to knock it. It earns 2 points per $1 spent on Holland America purchases and 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else. There are also no foreign transaction fees.

Redemptions are somewhat complex and restricted to mostly Holland America purchases. That’s far more limiting than other credit cards which let you redeem points for cash back or for a wider range of travel.

Plus, most redemptions on the Holland America Line Rewards Visa® Card are worth just 1 cent per point. Considering some points on travel credit cards can be redeemed for more than 2 cents per dollar, you’re likely better off using another travel credit card.

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Is cruising with Holland America worth it?

The casino. (Photo by Sally French)

Holland America offers a traditional and elegant cruise experience. The emphasis on high-quality dining makes it good for foodies — just note that the best restaurants cost extra. Crowds are mature, which is a pro or a con depending on the level of entertainment, nightlife and energy you seek.

Families or people seeking high stimulation and constant entertainment should skip it. Additionally, budget travelers might find the additional charges aggravating (though additional charges are common across pretty much any cruise line).

In short, cruisers who value sophisticated service, delicious food, and exploration may love Holland America.

(Top photo courtesy of Holland America)

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