Holland America Line (HAL) has been sailing in style for 150 years. Credit: HAL

Get on board with Holland America Line – the cruise line celebrating its 150th anniversary

Author: Kaye Holland

Published on:

Updated on:

Founded in Rotterdam in 1873, Holland America Line is currently celebrating 150 years of seafaring heritage as only they know how

The line was originally known as The Netherlands-America Steamship Company before changing its name to Holland America Line (HAL), in recognition of the fact that it carried significant numbers of immigrants from the Netherlands to the United States.

Fast forward a century and a half and HAL now sails to all seven continents. And, if you have never stepped foot onboard a HAL ship, make 2023 the year you do – as exciting celebrations are taking place onboard the line’s entire fleet.

Last month marked HAL’s 13-day 150th-anniversary transatlantic voyage onboard Rotterdam, HAL’s newest ship. The flagship departed from New York on April 6, 2023, and ended in its namesake, Rotterdam, on April 18 – the exact date of HAL’s 150th birthday.

On arrival in Rotterdam, Gus Antorcha (president of HAL) was joined by Her Royal Highness, Princess Margriet of the Netherlands; Ahmed Aboutaleb, mayor of Rotterdam; and descendants of Holland America Line’s original founders for a celebration at Hotel New York – home to Holland America Line’s original headquarters from 1901 to 1977.

Princess Margriet of the Netherlands poured champagne over a commemorative 150th anniversary bell as part of the celebrations. Credit: HAL

And the festivities show no sign of abating. With celebrations for its 150th Anniversary year underway, Holland America Line is introducing Heritage Cruises that authentically focus on ports rich in the brand’s history and feature unique onboard and shoreside experiences.

From a marquee city such as Rotterdam, which shares an intwined connection to the company’s beginnings to meaningful ports like Skagway and Juneau that introduced the world to Alaska cruising, guests will become fully immersed in Holland America Line’s Dutch seafaring heritage.

And there’s more to come: over the next year, HAL will be rolling out 48 ‘Heritage Cruises’ with special itineraries in Alaska, the Caribbean, Northern Europe, Mediterranean, Australia/New Zealand, Hawaii, South America and Mexico. Guests who want to explore dedicated Heritage Cruises can click a link on Holland America Line’s homepage that will display the departures.

Holland America Line has been exploring Alaska since 1947. Credit: HAL

And wherever you set sail with HAL, you can be sure of an exhilarating atmosphere onboard.

In honour of HAL’s milestone 150-year anniversary, the captain’s dinner – always a highlight on a HAL voyage – has been given a historical twist: expect to dine on classic dishes from previous onboard menus.

Elsewhere the new and exclusive HAL gin, De Linj, features in three special anniversary cocktails while there’s also a limited-edition anniversary Pilsner.

Meanwhile, you can get the backstory on the storied cruise line via the Origin Story. A staple on every HAL cruise, the Origin story is a visual telling of the former steamship company’s history from its inception through to the present day.

The presentation takes place in the World Stage where 270-degree wraparound LED screens envelop the audience in an emotional journey that includes incredible, historical images.

Find your ideal cruise

Search for the best cruises with Holland America Line

However if you're after a holiday on the high seas and not a history lesson, then you’ll want to check out HAL’s incredible entertainment and excellent cuisine.

Make no mistake: there’s little chance of getting bored or struggling for things to do on a HAL ship. Across the cruise line’s fleet of 11 vessels, there’s everything from live music to elegant bars and gourmet restaurants.

Standouts include B.B. King's Blues Club – where you can dance the night away to blues classics courtesy of a professional band straight out of Memphis – and the Rolling Stone Rock Room. Found onboard Rotterdam, the uber-talented band will take you through the greats of the classic rock era.

On the food front, we can recommend Rudi’s Sel de Mer for reimagined French fare: get stuck into steak frites and sole meunière.

Elsewhere carnivores won’t want to pass up the chance to dine at the Pinnacle Grill, where prime steaks are paired with award-winning wines.

Or for something a tad more casual, head for the poolside Dive-In to tuck into hearty burgers, sandwiches et al.

All told, wherever you choose to set sail and on whatever ship, HAL guarantees you a truly memorable trip.

And this year, as the line celebrates its special 150th anniversary, there’s arguably never been a better time to experience a cruise with HAL. Are you ready to join the party?

Live music on cruises doesn't get much more soulful than B.B. King's Blues Club. Credit: HAL
Most recent articles

About Kaye Holland

Kaye is a London-based wordsmith who has written for a range of publications including The Times, The Independent, The I, Culture Trip, The Sun, and ABTA among others. In June 2022, Kaye joined the Real Response Media where she looks – together with Lucy Abbott – after the World of Cruising website. Want to get in touch? Kaye can be reached at: [email protected]