SEATTLE, Jan. 11 — Some of the most picturesque scenery in the world is reachable only via cruise ship, and Holland America Line continues to offer the most diverse itineraries afloat with spectacular scenic cruising, from the fjords of Norway to the fall foliage of New England, from the active Kilauea volcano to the mystical glaciers of Antarctica. And though some destinations are reachable from land, there’s no more breathtaking or unique perspective than from the sea. Touching nearly every corner of the globe, Holland America’s fleet of 13 ships explores virtually every type of pictorial geographic display imaginable, making the line a pioneer in offering cruises to all seven continents. With a variety of scenic backdrops comes even more varied wildlife, and guests on nearly every cruise can observe animals on land and in the sea, including polar bears, penguins, dolphins and orcas.
“Holland America’s ships offer the widest array of cruises with the most impressive landscapes nature has to offer,” said Richard D. Meadows, CTC, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs for Holland America Line. “For those who are collectors of sights and sounds, there’s nothing more rewarding than a cruise packed with scenery that creates an unforgettable memory.”
With hundreds of cruises each year offering ultimate scenic experiences, selecting the right cruise can be overwhelming. To help the novice traveler or the connoisseur looking for something new, Holland America Line has compiled its list of the “Top Seven Scenic Cruises of a Lifetime.”
- Alaskan Glaciers: Alaska cruises continue to be as popular as ever, not only for their breathtaking views and natural wonders, but also because The Last Frontier state remains a region best viewed from the sea. Holland America Line sails eight ships in the region on varying itineraries to accommodate the high demand. In addition to the calving glaciers of colossal heights that leave spectators in awe, guests are treated to an abundance of wildlife, including soaring eagles, breaching whales, brown bears and roaming caribou. With more than 100 cruises visiting Glacier Bay National Park annually — more than any other cruise line — Holland America Line fills each Alaskan cruise with plenty of visuals for the photo album. The stunning Hubbard Glacier of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park highlights numerous cruises. College Fjord, Tracy Arm and Mendenhall Glacier are featured on the different itineraries, along with calls at popular Alaskan favorites such as Juneau, Skagway, Sitka and Ketchikan.
- Antarctica & the Chilean Fjords: A journey that few in the world are fortunate enough to make, guests travel to the ends of civilization in luxury while witnessing the sights and sounds of Antarctica that promise imposing views and once-in-a-lifetime encounters. On select South America itineraries the mysteries and marvels of Antarctica are explored for three days of cruising, including the Neumayer and Lemaire channels, known as “Kodak Gap” for its dramatic scenery. Penguins gliding down icecaps into the sea and island-sized glaciers are ethereal sights that leave visitors in admiration of the secluded continent. Voyages to the ice-capped fjords of South America treat guests to some of the most impressive scenery in all of travel. Sailing two different itineraries ranging from 16 to 20 days, Holland America Line ships make their way to South America and showcase a dazzling assortment of nature’s finest. As albatross soar over the water, guests marvel at the unearthly beauty of the Chilean fjords via the Darwin Channel and Strait of Magellan. Another ‘once- in-a-lifetime’ adventure awaits those on the Chilean Fjords sailings — scenic cruising past historic Cape Horn. Passable at only certain times of the year due to fierce weather conditions, journeying to the Cape remains a milestone in sailing cultures.
- Fall Foliage: On fall voyages to New England and eastern Canada, guests will be greeted by the world’s ultimate palette of colors with panoramic views of leaves changing from emerald green to hues of ruby, amber and gold. As summer turns to autumn, seven- to 15-day itineraries sail along the East Coast of North America for the unparalled annual display of fall foliage. Each itinerary ensures there is plenty of time to sample some Maine lobster, hunt for antiques and capture the vibrant leaves on film. Scenic cruising along the St. Lawrence River and Saguenay Fjord, some of the most stunning and marine- rich environments in the world, highlight the sailings.
- New Zealand Fiords & Australia: For fiords of a different color, sail throughout New Zealand to the Fiordland National Park via the Dusky, Doubtful and Milford sounds, and explore the verdant hills and snow-sprinkled mountaintops of the region. Sailing on 14- to 18-day itineraries during the summer months of October through February south of the equator, the lush sounds of New Zealand are a photographer’s paradise boasting tree-covered peaks and a picturesque backdrop to the warm-weather cruises. Also on these cruises, passengers will experience an amazing view of White Island Volcano – New Zealand’s most active volcano — and its frequent explosive eruptions. The island is home to a large colony of Australian Gannets, and marine life can be seen in the area including whales and dolphins. Additionally, guests on these cruises will be treated to the cosmopolitan sights of Australia. Often called the most spectacular harbor in the world to enter via a cruise ship, Sydney’s famed Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge await guests on deck and evoke the spirit of “G’Day!” Whether a sunrise or sunset approach, the breathtaking view is sure to be a favorite vacation memory.
- Kilauea Volcano & Hawaii: Always guaranteed to produce a buzz from passengers, there’s no greater natural demonstration than a volcano spewing lava into the night sky. Holland America has three itineraries in Hawaii with evening cruising to show off Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. Most eruptions are relatively gentle, with red sparks popping and lava flowing from fountains ranging from a few to a few hundred feet. The view from the deck of a Holland America ship allows a closer observation of the fiery eruptions than from land. The Hawaiian Islands themselves attract visitors from around the globe for their supreme beauty. Obtaining a glimpse of the tropical paradise from the sea allows guests to capture panoramic views and appreciate the flora and fauna on a larger scale. Scenic cruising past the Na Pali coast off Kauai treats onlookers to the vision of unusual rugged cliffs and valleys that end abruptly at the sea. Numerous sea caves, small beaches and high waterfalls add to the beauty and uniqueness of the landscape.
- Norwegian Fjords: Plying the popular Norwegian fjords route, Holland America Line offers two different itineraries to the Land of the Midnight Sun in Europe’s summer months. Cobalt blue glaciers along uninhabited inlets and the imposing beauty of jagged walls of glacier ice surround the ship as it weaves among the vistas and steep cliffs that adorn the coast of Norway. And with 24 hours of sunlight during the summer, guests are treated to late-night scenic cruising around the North Cape, a region known as the “top of the world,” with visibility as if it were the afternoon.
- Panama Canal: Slicing through the heart of Central America, the Panama Canal opened in 1914, shaving some 9,000 miles from the trip around Cape Horn. Today, the man-made marvel continues to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, providing a sight that still leaves those who traverse it in wonder. The path of the canal is lined in a lush jungle canopy, juxtaposed with the machinery of the locks that raises and lowers the ships making the transit possible. With numerous departures during the traditional spring and fall repositioning seasons, as well as both full and partial transits, this special passage continues to be an awe-inspiring favorite.
Both the 2007 and 2008 Holland America sailing schedules offer a variety of cruises to these top seven adventures. The line also offers an assortment of other scenic cruise experiences throughout the world, including the South Pacific, Les Calanques in the South of France, the Cliffs of Dover, Italy’s Strait of Messina and Stromboli Volcano, Suez Canal, Cape of Good Hope, the Amazon River, Sierra de la Giganta in the Baja Peninsula and Kuril Islands in Asia. Holland America Line features something for everyone. And with on-board programming complementing the itineraries with local naturalists and experts, destination-specific lecturers and live commentary on deck, each unique journey is sure to leave an imprint as the ultimate scenic cruise. For cruise brochures or for more information, consult a professional travel agent, call 877-SAIL-HAL (877-724-5425) or visit