The Holland America Line was founded in 1873 as the Dutch-America Steamship
Company, a shipping and passenger line. Because it was headquartered in
Rotterdam and provided service to the Americas, it became known as Holland
America Line (HAL).
Within 25 years, HAL owned a fleet of six cargo and passenger ships, and
operated between the Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies via the newly
constructed Suez Canal. The line was a principal carrier of immigrants from
Europe to the United States until well after the turn of the century,
carrying 850,000 to new lives in the New World.
Though transportation and shipping were the primary sources of revenue, in
1895 the company offered its first vacation cruise. Its second leisure
cruise, from New York to the Holy Land, was first offered in 1910. In 1971,
HAL suspended its transatlantic passenger trade and, in 1973, the company
sold its cargo shipping division.
In 1989, HAL became a wholly owned subsidiary of Carnival Corp., the largest
cruise line in the world. Today, the premium cruise leader operates 14 ships
to seven continents and carries nearly 700,000 cruise passengers a year.
Holland America Line produced some noted ships from the 36,000 gross ton
Nieuw Amsterdam of 1938, probably the only large passenger liner at the time
that was not completed with any expectation of serving for the military, and
the beautiful Rotterdam of 1959, one of the first ships on the North
Atlantic to be equipped for two class transatlantic crossing and one class
luxury cruising. By the late sixties, the golden era of profitable
trans-Atlantic ships was over, and the remaining routes were siphoned off by
the airlines. The early seventies saw the end of the trans-Atlantic service,
leaving the North Atlantic for Cunard's Queen Elizabeth 2.
In 1971, Holland America abandoned its passenger transportation service and
switched to running cruise ships full time. Since then, the company has
become known for wide variety of destinations it sails to. After obtaining
government approval to visit Antarctica in the 1980s, the line now visits
all seven continents. Its ms Prinsendam makes annual "Grand Voyages" that
usually last more than 60 days. These explore and circle more exotic
destinations such as South America and Africa. Due to the increasing
popularity of the exotic and rarely-visited ports of call featured on Grand
World Voyages, the ms Amsterdam will offer the Grand World Voyage in
addition to the Prinsendam's Grand Voyages in 2007 and 2008. 2008 is also
the 50th anniversary of Holland America Line's Grand World Voyage and will
feature a true circumnavigation of the globe. In 2009, the sister-ship to
the ms Amsterdam, ms Rotterdam will complete the Grand World Voyage.
As of July 2008, the line operates fourteen ships, ranging from the smaller
and older S-Class vessels; the mid-range R-Class; the Vista class; the
newest and largest Signature class and the small 793-passenger Prinsendam
(originally the Royal Viking Sun, then Seabourn Sun until HAL's purchase of
the vessel in 2002). All HAL ships have a dark blue hull with white
superstructure, with the line's logo featured prominently on the functional
In addition to its fleet of cruise ships, Holland America also owns the
Westmark hotel chain which operates in Alaska and the Yukon, the bus
companies Gray Line of Seattle and Gray Line of Alaska, and Worldwide Shore
Services, which provides warehouse and logistical support for the company.
HAL shares its headquarters in Seattle's Uptown Queen Anne, Seattle,
Washington district with the above mentioned subsidiaries. Finally, HAL owns
"Half Moon Cay" (its own private island in the Caribbean, officially known
as Little San Salvador Island); nearly all of the line's cruises through the
region spend at least a day there.
On April 3, 2008 Micky Arison, the chairman of Carnival Corporation & plc,
stated that due to the low value of the US dollar, inflation and high
shipbuilding costs, the company would not be ordering any new ships for
their US-based brands (Holland America, Carnival Cruise Lines and Princess
Cruises) before the economic situation improves.
Statendam class (S-class)
* ms Statendam - 1993 - Signature of Excellence (SOE) upgrades occurred in
* ms Maasdam - 1993 - SOE Upgrades occurred in April 2006
* ms Ryndam - 1994 - SOE Upgrades occurred in October 2004
* ms Veendam - 1996 - SOE Upgrades occurred in January 2006
Rotterdam class (R-class)
* ms Rotterdam - 1997 - SOE Upgrades occurred in April 2005
* ms Volendam - 1999 - SOE Upgrades occurred in December 2005
* ms Zaandam - 2000 - SOE Upgrades occurred in January 2005
* ms Amsterdam - 2000 - SOE Upgrades occurred in October 2005
* ms Zuiderdam - 2002 - SOE Upgrades occurred in December 2005 - Aft
expansion took place in April 2008.
* ms Oosterdam - 2003 - SOE Upgrades occurred in October 2006 - Aft
expansion will take place in 2009.
* ms Westerdam - 2004 - SOE Upgrades occurred in April 2005 - Aft expansion
took place in May 2007.
* ms Noordam - 2006 - Built with SOE standards already in place - Aft
expansion on other Vista class ships is designed to mimic the Noordam.
In 2006, the Vista class cruise ships were awarded the 2006 Green Planet
Award for outstanding environmental standards by Kuoni Switzerland.
* ms Eurodam - Entered service on July 5, 2008
* ms Nieuw Amsterdam - A second Signature class ship was announced on June
11, 2007. Slated for a 2010 delivery this ship is being built by Fincantieri
yard number 6181.
"The Elegant Explorer"
* ms Prinsendam - 1988 - Obtained by Holland America Line in 2002 - SOE
Upgrades occurred in January 2005.