Holland America kicks off Alaska cruise season

Seattle-headquartered Holland America Lines kicked off the 2023 Alaska cruise season on Saturday, April 29, with a range of festivities marking the line’s 150th anniversary.

Throughout the season, the line will have two ships based in Seattle and four in Vancouver, British Columbia, providing travelers with a range of options for cruising to the 49th state. The Eurodam arrived at Seattle’s Pier 91 on Saturday and the Westerdam will begin its Alaska season cruising roundtrip from Seattle Sunday, May 7, 2023.

Sailings departing Vancouver begin Monday, May 1 with the Koningsdam, followed by the Noordam, the Nieuw Amsterdam and the Volendam.

The ms Eurodam at Seattle's Pier 91

Holland America offers a variety of cruises including 7-day round trip “Inside Passage” sailings, which visit Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. 7-day one-way “Glacier Discovery” itineraries, either north or southbound, travel between Whittier, Alaska and Vancouver. The 14-day “Great Alaska Explorer” itinerary offers a more in-depth experience with ports of call including Kodiak, Anchorage, Valdez, Sitka, Skagway and Ketchikan, and featuring Glacier Bay.

Creek Street, Ketchikan's former red-light district

All ships cruising in Alaska feature “Alaska Up Close,” a program through which guests can engage with an Alaska naturalist, attend special presentations that explore local topics such as Alaska’s bush pilots and the famous Iditarod race, and enjoy fine dining events that showcase the culinary traditions of the region.

The two Seattle-based ships will have 48 departures and carry more than 97,000 guests from the Emerald City while the four Vancouver-based vessels will make 75 departures carrying more than 158,000 guests. The Alaska cruise season runs through September.

Our take

We took an “inside passage” sailing in 2016, though with a different cruise line, and found the ports of call enchanting. Each had its own history and charm.

A couple of things to note before making your reservation. 

The advertised price of a cruise ticket is just the starting point. Read Counting the Cost of a Cruise here.

With multiple cruise lines on similar itineraries to and from Alaska, there will usually be three or more large cruise ships docked at each location. That means a lot of people arriving, going for lunch, and leaving at the same time. Pack plenty of patience.

Each cruise line has its own “personality,” so choose the one that works best for you. It isn’t necessary to have taken several cruises to figure this out; the various lines’ commercials and collateral material will tell you pretty much what you need to know.

Our Alaska cruise was on Princess Line’s Ruby Princess and you can read about our experience with that line here. In 2019, we took a Baltic cruise aboard Holland America’s Zuiderdam and found Holland America less glitzy and more refined than our previous experience, and much more to our taste. You can read about our Holland America experience here

Other lines that ply the waters between Seattle or Vancouver and Alaska include Disney Cruises, which suited our children and grandchildren very well when they took their trip in 2018, and Norwegian, to name but a few.

If you’ve been to Alaska, you know what amazing place it is. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

Photos by Carl Dombek
Click on photos to view larger sizes

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.