Holland America Line Debuts New Full-Transit Cruises and Itineraries for 2008 Panama Canal Sailings

Holland America Line offers 30 canal sailings in 2008 including new full-transit cruises though the Panama Canal, exotic new 13- to 26-day Inca Discovery sailings, and new spring and fall departures from Tampa to highlight its 2008 canal itineraries. The premium cruise line features 13 trans-canal voyages on seven ships in 2008, plus 17 “Sunfarer” sailings — including four for the first time on the Vista-class ms Zuiderdam — that combine Panama Canal cruising with Caribbean exploration.

These 30 cruises offer extraordinary variety with itineraries ranging from 10 to 36 days and ports of call encompassing four exciting regions: the Mexican Riviera, Central America, South America and Caribbean. Itineraries are designed to provide opportunity to experience a broad mix of history, culture, wildlife, adventure and relaxing beaches.

“The 40-mile Panama Canal is one of the most remarkable engineering feats in the world, and Holland America Line has designed these cruises to maximize the full-transit experience,” said Richard D. Meadows, CTC, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs. “As part of our Explorations Speaker Series, a Panama Canal historian provides guests with fascinating insights on the canal’s history, development and operation as their ship rises, then lowers, 85 feet through six giant locks. This is truly an experience of a lifetime.”

New 13- and 26-day Inca Discovery Cruises

The Statendam offers new Inca Discovery cruises sailing roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale and featuring a three-day extended stay in Callao (Lima), Peru, to visit the famed archaeological site of Machu Picchu. Guests can also opt for a 13-day Ft. Lauderdale to Callao or Callao to Ft. Lauderdale itinerary with the option of pre- or post-cruise tours to Machu Picchu.

The 26-day itinerary offers two full transits of the Panama Canal — one in each direction — and a variety of ports as well as the excursion to Machu Picchu. These include such ports as Half Moon Cay, Bahamas; Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos; Santa Marta and San Andres, Colombia; San Blas Islands and Amador, Panama; Manta and Guayaquil, Ecuador; Salaverry and Callao (Lima), Peru; Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; and Key West, Florida.

Seven Ships Offer Full-Transit Panama Canal Cruises

Seven ships — ms Maasdam, ms Statendam, ms Veendam, ms Volendam, ms Westerdam, ms Prinsendam and ms Amsterdam — sail full-transit cruises though the Panama Canal in 2008. Departures are from Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, San Diego, Los Angeles, Seattle, Vancouver, Canada, and Callao (Lima), Peru.

The Maasdam offers two full-transit sailings in the winter — Jan. 25 and Feb. 9 — while the Statendam features a new fall sailing Oct. 25.

The Maasdam sails a 15-day itinerary from Ft. Lauderdale to San Diego departing Jan. 25 and a return 15-day voyage on Feb. 9. Both itineraries feature intriguing Cartagena, Colombia and a full transit of the Panama Canal. Depending on sailing direction, guests may visit Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Puerto Chiapas, Santa Cruz Huatulco, Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua; and Nassau, Bahamas.

Holland America Line will offer a new, spring, trans-canal departure from Tampa on Apr. 13 aboard the Veendam. The 19-day cruise takes guests to Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Cartagena, Colombia; the Panama Canal; San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua; Puerto Chiapas, Santa Cruz Huatulco, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; San Diego; and Victoria and Vancouver, Canada.

In the fall, the Statendam offers a 16-day cruise departing Oct. 25 from San Diego to Ft. Lauderdale, which calls at most of the same ports.

32- to 36-Day Panama Canal & Amazon Explorer

The Veendam will be featuring a 32- to 36-day Panama Canal & Amazon Explorer in the fall, with the choice of departing from Vancouver Sept. 26 or from San Diego Sept. 30. This Panama Canal & Amazon Explorer itinerary explores four amazing regions – the Mexican Riviera, Central America, Caribbean and Amazon. The latter is highlighted with seven full days on the mighty Amazon River and an overnight stay in Manaus, Brazil — the furthest navigable point for ocean-going vessels in the heart of the Amazon.

Grand World Voyages Include Full Transits of the Panama Canal

The 114-day Grand World Voyage aboard the Amsterdam and the 68-day Grand South America & Antarctica Voyage aboard the Prinsendam also include a full transit of the Panama Canal. Departing from Fort Lauderdale on January 4, the Amsterdam sails through the canal and then east to traverse the globe by way of the South Pacific, Australia, Southeast Asia, India, the Suez Canal, Mediterranean and across the Atlantic. The Prinsendam departs on Jan. 3 to circumnavigate South America with a full transit of the Panama Canal on Jan. 8.

10- and 14-day “Sunfarer” Cruises of Panama Canal and Caribbean

Holland America continues to offer its extremely popular, 10-day “Sunfarer” voyages, which combine Panama Canal cruising with exotic Caribbean destinations. The Volendam sails a total of 10 “Sunfarer” cruises roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale in early 2008, offering departures Jan. 2 to Apr. 1. In the fall, with the introduction of a Vista-class ship, the 1,848-guest Zuiderdam picks up the itinerary with departures Nov 9, 19 and 29, and Dec. 9, 19 and 29, the latter two a holiday and New Year’s sailing.

Guests cruise to Half Moon Cay, Bahamas; Dutch-influenced Willemstad, Curacao and Oranjestad, Aruba; the Panama Canal to Gatun Lake; Limon Bay and Manzanillo Bay, Panama; and Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, world-renowned for its abundant wildlife and colorful flora.

The Amsterdam also sails a 14-day Caribbean and Sunfarer cruise on Dec. 23 to the above ports and adds Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Roatan, Honduras; and Costa Maya, Mexico.

Panama Canal Historians and Medallion Shore Excursions

A Panama Canal historian travels on every sailing, providing insight and answering questions about one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th century. Ashore, guests can opt to learn more on one of Holland America Line’s intriguing shore excursions. Its Medallion Collection offers exclusive opportunities such as touring the UNESCO World Heritage Site, La Antigua, in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; exploring the rain forest in Roseau, Dominica, including a hike to newly discovered Twin Waterfalls and a cultural performance by the Carib Indians; and sailing aboard a catamaran to swim, snorkel and sip champagne at beautiful St. John, Virgin Islands.

Panama Canal cruise fares start from US$1,199 per person, double occupancy, depending on the itinerary length. For more information, consult a travel agent.

Holland America Line’s fleet of 13 ships offers nearly 500 cruises to more than 320 ports. Two- to 108-day itineraries visit all seven continents, including Antarctica, South America, Australia/New Zealand and Asia voyages; a Grand World Voyage; and popular sailings to ports in the Caribbean, Alaska, Mexico, Canada/New England, Europe and Panama Canal.

In the 2006 Portrait of Affluent Travelers survey by Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown and Russell, Holland America Line topped the list of cruise lines sought after by affluent leisure travelers. Its recently completed $225 million fleetwide Signature of Excellence enhancements added features such as the Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine — a state-of-the-art onboard show kitchen where more than 60 celebrated guest chefs and culinary experts provide cooking demonstrations and classes — Explorations Cafe powered by The New York Times, teens-only activity areas and all new stateroom amenities highlighted by flat-panel TVs and plush Euro-top Mariner’s Dream Beds.