Holland America Line has lots of news to share—from the cruise line’s new Have it All premium package, to its just announced summer sailings from Greece as well as what they’re working on for the future.
Have it All
The line’s new Have it All premium package, has been a long time in the making, Beth Bodensteiner, sr. v.p., Chief Commercial Officerchief commercial officer, Holland America, told Recommend during a recent Zoom conversation. She mentioned that “lots of cruise lines are moving to a more inclusive option, and we also had our version of that for years.” Holland America cumulatively heard feedback from trade partners and guests that they wanted a more inclusive package, something that was consistent so it would be easier for agents to keep track of. “From there, we took advantage of the pause to do a lot of guest research. We researched our own guests, non-cruisers that look like our guests, cruisers on other lines. We really tried to get the most sense of what the most important items on board were for our guests,” she pointed out.
Have it All features the top four things that came back as the most important to the Holland America guests: “The Beverage Package is a favorite, we knew that would be included in the top things. But, the one that surprised us a little bit, but we loved is the Shore Excursion Credit,” Bodensteiner said. “The other two features: the WiFi and the Specialty Dining—the WiFi is so important to today’s guests; they need to rely on being connected at sea. And the Specialty Dining, we have such fantastic restaurants and we love that way of being sure that more guests get to try those venues.”
“We are so grateful for [travel advisors]. They are carrying a very heavy load right now in trying to educate their clients on what is open, what is the right promotion to book,” noted Bodensteiner. “One thing with Have it All, that is so important for our travel agent partners is that an all-inclusive fare is a higher fare, which means they make a lot more commission and that’s something we were excited about. [To] have something for them to sell that will pay them more, especially right now that we’re relying on them so much to educate the guest on protocols and where we’re going to sail, and what’s out there.”
Summer Sailings in Greece
The cruise line has been working with the government of Greece and has received approval to restart cruising from Piraeus (Athens) in August with four departures aboard Eurodam. Bookings for these cruises will open tomorrow, Thursday, May 6.
Departing Aug. 15 and 29, the Idyllic Greek Isles itinerary features Kotor, Montenegro, plus the Greek isles of Kekira (Corfu), Thira (Santorini) and Mykonos. Ancient Wonders departs Aug. 22 to explore Haifa, Israel, as well as Nafplion, Mykonos and Rhodes in Greece. Both options can be combined to form a longer, back-to-back 14-day Collectors’ Voyage.
A 7-day Adriatic Allure itinerary departing Sept. 5 will sail from Piraeus to Venice, Italy, with calls at Mykonos, Katakolon (Olympia) and Crete (Chania), Greece, and Sarande, Albania. Additional Mediterranean cruises aboard Eurodam through the fall will be announced in the coming weeks and include ports in Italy and Greece. Eurodam returns to the United States to begin sailing its published Caribbean cruises in mid-November.
“Everyone at Holland America Line has been preparing for our return to service, and we are grateful to the government of Greece for allowing us to show that we can safely operate our cruises,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line, during a press conference this week. “The beautiful islands of Greece have been a highlight of our Mediterranean itineraries for decades, and we are honored to be able to restart out of Athens and give our guests a memorable vacation after all this time without cruise travel.”
“The Greek Islands have been welcoming Holland America Line ships for many years, and we are proud to work together to welcome the cruise line back this summer,” said Harry Theoharis, Minister of Tourism of Greece, in press materials. “We are sure that all visitors to Greece will once again have unique experiences to our beautiful destinations and fully enjoy the rich history, culture and gastronomy of our nation.”
On board, Holland America Line will continue to offer the amenities that guests have come to expect. Dining will be available in all restaurants and specialty venues, as well as room service. Entertainment will be in full swing in the main show lounge, and live music will be featured in Lincoln Center Stage, B.B. King’s Blues Club, Billboard Onboard and Rolling Stone Rock Room. Port-to-Table culinary demonstrations, EXC Talks and more will bring Greece and its culture on board through engaging activities. To accommodate physical distancing, additional performances may be added to the schedule.
To accommodate the new Greece sailings, guests sailing on Eurodam’s published Seattle roundtrip Alaska cruises will be moved to similar accommodations on sister ship Nieuw Amsterdam, which is scheduled to sail on the same departure dates. In addition, European cruises departing from July 1 through July 25 on Volendam and July 1 through Aug. 31 on Westerdam will be cancelled. Guests who were booked on impacted cruises and their travel advisors are being notified.
Fares for Eurodam‘s 7-day Greece cruises begin at a Have it All premium package fare of $1,999 pp that includes one shore excursion, a beverage package, specialty dining and WiFi. Cruise-only fares start at $1,649 pp dbl. Taxes, fee and port expenses are additional.
Holland America Line cruises from Greece are available for guests who have received their final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the beginning of the cruise and have proof of vaccination.
Holland America Line guests will be required to comply with all health and safety protocols in place at the time of departure for travel to and from the ship, as well as all onboard protocols and procedures for visiting ports. You can find information about Greece traveler health requirements on the Visit Greece website.
Additional preventive health measures under Holland America Line’s Travel Well program will be in place, including health screenings, face mask requirements, physical distancing and capacity controls. The ships now feature enhanced environmental sanitation and air ﬁltration with upgraded HVAC systems and ultraviolet technology. HEPA ﬁlters will be used in key areas as a further safeguard. In addition, medical centers will be equipped with COVID-19 testing and treatment capabilities.
Holland America Line’s protocols are subject to change as work continues in collaboration with medical experts and government bodies to ensure the practices evolve in line with the latest advice.
“Holland America sails to all seven continents. We pride ourselves on really delivering the destination to our guests and helping them immerse themselves in the different ports that we go to,” noted Bodensteiner during our conversation.
“We are working very hard to return to service,” she added. “Whether that’s working with the CDC to return safely from U.S. ports, or exploring returning to service outside of the U.S. We are actively engaged in both of those options.”
In response to the European Union announcement a couple of weeks ago that vaccinated travelers will be able to visit in the summer and how that will impact Holland America, Bodensteiner said, “We very much hope to be cruising in Europe this summer and that announcement was very helpful in aligning our thinking.
“At first we will likely require vaccination. That is not something that we want to require forever. So we are working with the health authorities in the various destinations that we plan to sail from to figure out what are the right safety protocols in regards to vaccinations.”
Itineraries & Excursion 4-1-1
Full details, including cruise fares and information on shore excursions, are being finalized and will be shared in the coming weeks at hollandamerica.com. Airfares from several domestic and international gateways will be available through Holland America Line’s FlightEase program. Flexible cancellation terms, including the line’s COVID-19 Protections, are offered through Book with Confidence when booked by June 30, 2021, for sailings through Dec. 31, 2021. The cruise line’s Cancellation Protection Plan also allows cancellation up to 24 hours in advance.
For more information, visit hollandamerica.com.