Holland America doubles down even more on long and unusual cruises with new 'legendary' sailings
It's no secret that Holland America is in the midst of doubling down on long and unusual voyages — something for which the line has long been known. But starting over the next couple years, it's going to take the move even further.
The Seattle-based cruise brand Tuesday will announce a new collection of weekslong cruises to take place over the next three years. The sailings will range from 25 to 59 nights in length and have special programming.
The cruises, called Legendary Voyages, will include both previously offered routings and some all-new routes — the latter including an epic itinerary focused on Japan that will last more than 50 days.
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The new lineup of long trips is designed to augment Holland America's celebrated collection of even longer Grand Voyages — far-ranging, often world-circling sailings that typically are 70 nights or more.
Compared to the Grand Voyages, the new Legendary Voyages will not be quite as long and will be more focused on specific destinations such as Japan or Alaska.
"We want to dive much deeper into certain destinations and regions," Kacy Cole, Holland America's vice president of marketing and e-commerce, told TPG during an exclusive interview in advance of the announcement.
Cole said the goal of the new itinerary program was to "start creating these ... midlength-type itineraries that allow guests to be able to [visit] a destination in more depth."
Related: The 5 best places you can visit on a Holland America cruise
Cole said the long-but-not-too-long nature of the trips was something that customers wanted. The trips, notably, will top out in length at about two months, which is long compared to the longest sailings offered by some competitors but still considerably shorter than some of the line's longest Grand Voyages. The longest Grand Voyage currently on the Holland America schedule is a 128-night around-the-world sailing.
"Not everybody has six-plus months to go on these things," Cole noted.
The initial grouping of Legendary Voyages will include 17 specific departures between late this year and early 2025.
The trips will focus on a wide range of far-off destinations — including Australia and New Zealand, the Amazon and South America, the South Pacific and Hawaii, Greenland and Iceland, Asia, Alaska and the Arctic Circle — in detail.
But in a twist, most of the routings will begin and end in a North American port, meaning that North American passengers can reach distant places without ever getting on an international flight.
This sort of "see the world from your doorstep" itinerary, as Cole calls it, is something for which Holland America has long been known.
Itineraries included in the new Legendary Voyages lineup include a recently announced all-new Alaska routing that will be 28 nights in length — four times the length of the typical Alaska sailing.
Related: The 4 types of Holland America ships, explained
Kicking off on June 9, 2024, it features visits to more than a dozen ports, including an overnight stay in Anchorage, Alaska, and a passage through the Bering Strait to the Arctic Circle.
The new Japan sailing mentioned above, which is an all-new, 53-day routing for the line, will depart from Seattle on Sept. 1, 2024, and include several stops in Alaska before the ship — the 1,964-passenger Westerdam — crosses the Pacific for a multiweek exploration of Japan. A dozen calls in Japan will include the northerly port of Kushiro, Yokohama (for Tokyo), Kobe (for Osaka), Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the island of Iwo Jima.
On the way back to Seattle, the ship will sail past historic Midway Island, site of a tide-turning battle during World War II, and make an overnight stop at Honolulu in Hawaii.
In addition to Seattle, passengers can board Westerdam for the Japan sailing in Vancouver, British Columbia, a day after it departs Seattle.
Other itineraries that will be part of the new Legendary Voyages lineup, all of which Holland America has offered in the past, include:
- 56-day Tales of the South Pacific sailings depart from Vancouver on Sept. 27, 2023, and Sept. 25, 2024 (or passengers can board each trip five days later in San Diego). They visit more than a dozen islands across French Polynesia and the Hawaiian Islands.
- A 35-day Australia Circumnavigation voyage departs from Sydney on Nov. 17, 2024, offering stops at more than a dozen ports around Australia as well as Indonesia's Komodo Island — the latter famously home to Komodo dragons.
- 27-day Amazon Explorer sailings depart from Fort Lauderdale on Feb. 17, 2024, and Feb. 8, 2025, and feature multiple days of Amazon River exploration plus several stops in the Caribbean.
- 35-day Hawaii, Tahiti and Marquesas routings depart from San Diego on Feb. 17, 2024, and Feb. 15, 2025, and offer a wide range of stops in French Polynesia and Hawaii.
- A 35-day Voyage of the Vikings sailing departs from Boston on July 20, 2024, and follows a northerly route to Norway and back with stops in the Canadian Maritimes, Greenland, Iceland, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
Cole and another Holland America executive who sat in on the interview with TPG — Paul Grigsby, vice president for deployment and itinerary planning — hinted that more all-new Legendary Voyages routings are in the works, including something new for the Mediterranean region.
But even the itineraries that Holland America has offered in the past will take on a new feel thanks to new programming, Cole and Grigsby suggested.
New special Legendary Voyages programming
The new special programming planned for the Legendary Voyages will include the same types of theme parties that Holland America currently offers on its longer Grand Voyages, as well as new curated onboard lectures from destination experts.
"We're going to bring in local and cultural specialists that can really speak to the region and the destination," Cole said.
The sailings will also have a new "hyper-focused" menu of food and drinks inspired by the places the ships are sailing, Cole said.
Not all the details of the new program have been worked out, Cole noted, as some of the newly announced sailings are still a year or two away.
But Cole did indicate that the voyages would be included in Holland America's promotions (i.e., sales), which is not the case for the line's long Grand Voyages.
Related: Maximize onboard perks with the Holland America loyalty program
In keeping with the focus on in-depth exploration of a specific region, the itineraries will include lots of overnight stays in marquee ports such as Hobart, Australia; Moorea, French Polynesia; Reykjavik; and Yokohama (the port for Tokyo), Grigsby noted.
The itineraries allow the ships to take their time exploring specific regions, he added. Pointing to the 56-night Tales of the South Pacific sailings as an example, Grigsby noted that the vessels on the itineraries would slowly make their way between the Society Islands of French Polynesia to American Samoa and Fiji as they loop around the Pacific, with other stops including such little-visited places as Fanning Island — one of the most remote islands in the Pacific.
"It used to be the theory [of cross-ocean travel] was to get across as fast as you can," said Grigsby. "But now we're realizing lingering along the way is what guests want to do."
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