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We interview Wendy Lahmich, Holland America Line's UK Sales Director

27th March 2017

Updated June 2019

We collated some of our most frequently asked questions about Holland America Line (HAL) and pitched them to Wendy Lahmich, the cruise line's Sales Director for the UK & Ireland. She shared with us some great information for anyone new to the brand, plus some personal memories based on her own experiences with this fantastic cruise line...

What has been your most memorable cruise?

I had always wanted to go to Alaska, and I finally embarked on a Holland America Line Inside Passage cruise 14 years ago. My favourite memories include seeing orca whales in the wake of our ship and viewing the incredible scenery in Glacier Bay.

 

 

Do you have any favourite ports and why?

Other than Alaska my favourite ports would have to be Kotor, in Montenegro and Dubrovnik, in Croatia. I just love the Dalmatian Coast for its stunning architecture, scenery and lovely people. Of course, you can see all of these destinations on a Holland America Line cruise, departing from Venice – one of the most iconic cities you can ever sail from!

What are HAL's stand out features?

Holland America Line is known for our “carefully curated” itineraries which really do give our guests authentic destination immersion both before their cruise via our online destination guides and onboard with our experts, along with long days and overnight stays in iconic cities like Sydney, Shanghai and Singapore.

We launched a beautiful new ship in 2016, ms Koningsdam, and with it a whole host of new partnerships (we called it our “Bold New Story”), most of which are now being rolled out fleetwide. Our partnership with BBC Earth brings incredible Frozen Planet concerts to the main show lounge; we now have Music Walk featuring the BB Kings blues, dueling pianos at Billboard Onboard and great classical music from Lincoln Centre Stage. Plus, our already excellent culinary reputation has been enhanced by new restaurants – very French Sel de Mer, “Dine at the Culinary Arts Centre” on Koningsdam and a partnership with America’s Test Kitchen, offering guests regional cookery demonstrations and more. 

 


My personal favourite? Our unique wine blending facility on ms Koningsdam where a small group of guests learn to blend and create their own red wines, with help from the experts of Chateau St Michelle. Before this experience I knew very little about red wine….and I learnt so much!

Are there any age ranges best suited to HAL?

Holland America Line appeals to discerning travellers of all ages. Obviously longer itineraries will appeal to a slightly older demographic, but our excellent CLUB HAL amenities for children aged 3 upwards also attract many families during school holidays – including my own!

Which hobbies/interests do HAL best cater to?

Enrichment is an important feature of Holland America Line. When on holiday our guests like to learn, so we have a huge choice of activities from cookery and digital workshops to painting and drawing skills at ‘Rijksmuseum at Sea’. One of our popular partnerships is with O, the Oprah Magazine, which helps provide wellness activities, classes, seminars and so much more! Our Explorations Central experts also provide lots of information about the culture, customs, sights and history of the destinations visited during the cruise. And of course there are many places just to relax and watch the world go by such as the Greenhouse Spa & Salon, our extensive deck areas which feature two pools – and our wrap-around Promenade deck.

 

 

My absolute favourite place for relaxation onboard ships which have the area is the Retreat, where I always book a Private Cabana for the whole duration of the cruise! It is a must for me as it does exactly what it says on the tin but in total luxury!

What should our customers know before booking a cruise with HAL?

Holland America Line is an international company which means you’ll have the opportunity to interact with amazing people from many different countries. English is the official language onboard, however we are very proud of our Dutch officers and our academy trained Indonesian and Filipino crew who provide intuitive, yet friendly service and are really adept at getting to know guests’ names and preferences very early in the cruise.

How does HAL cater for singles?

We welcome single travellers onboard (me being one of them!) and we arrange get-togethers, socials and dining according to their preferences. While we do feature some new single staterooms on ms Koningsdam, many guests choose to “share” accommodation with another single guest of the same sex (in designated stateroom categories), for instant companionship - and to avoid single supplements.

What is the dress code?

Daytime is always casual and most evenings are informal. We still offer guests the opportunity to dress up on two evenings per week and enjoy a more celebratory evening meal in the restaurant however, those who prefer to stay casual may dine in one of our alternative restaurants at the Lido or even order a freshly-baked pizza in the comfort of their stateroom.

 

 

What are the most popular itineraries?

Alaska has always sold really well for us, and Holland America Line celebrated 70 years in Alaska in 2017 – with more ships, glaciers and gala dinners than ever before! As well as cruises from Vancouver, Seattle and Seward, we offer a range of incredible Land + Sea Journeys which, as well as a cruise, include up to 3 nights at our McKinley Chalet hotel in Denali National Park, for nature at its very wildest! Another very popular destination is South America, especially the 14 -16 night “Passage” cruises that sail from Buenos Aires or Santiago, combining cities like Montevideo and Ushuaia with the breathtaking Chilean Fjords and Glacier Alley – plus, a day at Port Stanley in the Falklands, a chance to see penguins visit a real British pub!

What does the future hold for Holland America Line?

We have not long celebrated the launch of ms Nieuw Statendam in Autumn 2018, and we have another “Dam” ship due for delivery in 2021 - showing there is a huge demand for Holland America Line’s mid-size, premium product and incredible destination experience. We constantly continue to enhance the existing fleet for example, ms Westerdam now features upgraded suites, the Music Walk, our Explorations Central concept and “Rijksmuseum at Sea” art instalment.

 

If you're feeling inspired to cruise with this ever-popular cruise line, take a look at our current Holland America Line cruise offers.




10 Sports You Can Play On A Cruise

8th July 2014

We live in a country surrounded by sport. If we are not playing it, we are in front of the television watching it. From football, cricket and hockey to golf, swimming and croquet, sport is a key part of our lives.

So what happens when we go on holiday...how do we get our daily sport fix? Watching is not a problem as most resorts, hotels and cruise ships boast large screens and licensing to broadcast the latest games.

When it comes to playing your favourite sports, a cruise has you more than covered. With full sized basketball courts, mini golf courses and even ice rinks, there will be no complaining about missing out on your much-loved activities. 

Basketball

Although basketball is typically known as an American sport, it has become increasingly trendy for our younger generation to play. This high-energy game is a team sport that has strict rules.

Most cruise lines boast a full sized basketball court that will be the place for games, tournaments and competitions. Hosted by the sports or activity staff there will be organised games that offer hours of fun. Some cruise lines will even pair fun teams such as dads against sons or girls against boys!

Cruise lines with a basketball court: Carnival Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Princess Cruises

Golf

Golf at sea? Yes that’s right. A selection of modern day cruise ships are home to 9-hole mini golf courses as well as golf simulators.

It was Royal Caribbean who introduced this innovation but other lines have also brought this to their ships including Disney Cruise Lines and Princess Cruises.

Playing golf surrounded by the ocean is a once in a lifetime experience and fun for the whole family. Whether you are competitive, teaching the little ones or just having some fun, it is definitely an activity worth doing.

Cruise lines with mini golf: Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Disney Cruise Line 

Volleyball

Water volleyball is a sport guaranteed to put everyone in a holiday mood. Best played in the sun with a group of friends, it is the perfect combination of competitive and fun.

With cruise ships showcasing multiple swimming pools, there is likely to be one dedicated to water sports with volleyball often being the most popular game. Even if you do not understand the rules, there will be staff to show you and commentate the game.

If you do not want to get involved, just watching from the pool side is as much fun.

Cruise lines with volleyball: P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Carnival Cruises, Princess Cruises

Football

England’s iconic game, we are known around the world for our strong passion for football. I read recently that 65% of British males will not go on holiday anywhere that doesn’t show their team's football games. Good news is that most cruise ships have permission to broadcast popular games and even better news that you can play onboard too.

Normally the basketball court will be used as a football pitch and the markings set up accordingly. There will be dedicated staff to arrange matches, tournaments and fun competitions so be sure to pack your training shoes!

Cruise lines that have a football pitch: Royal Caribbean Cruises, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line

Ping Pong

Are you that one person on holiday who shows everyone up at ping pong? There is always a Ping-Pong champion somewhere!

A fun game that has become very competitive, ping pong will test both your skills and patience.

Normally found on the sports deck or the activities centre, most cruise lines have a selection of ping pong tables for you to enjoy as well as paticipate in mini tornaments.

Cruise lines with ping-pong tables: Royal Caribbean Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line

Boxing

Another industry revolution, Royal Caribbean are the only cruise line to offer boxing rinks at sea. Introduced on Freedom of the Seas, they are full sized boxing rinks that come fully equipped with punch bags, railings and boxing gloves.

Guests using the gym can use the rink as part of their exercise routine as well as enter fun boxing competitions orgainsed by the crew.

Cruise lines with a boxing ring: Royal Caribbean Cruises 

Swimming

When on holiday, some people like to use the pool to swim lengths as part of their exercise regime and others use it as a place to have fun or play games.

Swimming is a sport everyone can take part in and whether you want to practice lengths by yourself or compete in mini swimming galas, you will be able to swim to your hearts content on a cruise.

Cruise lines with a swimming pool: All cruise lines

Croquet

The traditionally English sport of croquet is a historic game that dates back to the 1850’s. Normally played in village playing fields, it has now come to the high seas by Celebrity Cruises.

The Lawn Club on their Solstice class ships offer the ultimate setting for a joyous game of croquet. With real grass, the sun shining and the ocean swaying around you, everyone is welcome to join in this game, whether you know the rules or not.

Equipment will be provided onboard and staff on hand to help.

Cruise lines with croquet: Celebrity Cruises 

Pool

The first thing that comes to mind when having a pool table onboard is how does it work with the movement of the ship? Rest assure the pool tables found at sea are self-leveling and stabilized, just like the ships themselves.

Even for those who do not play pool, these revolutionary tables have to be seen to be believed. As the ship moves, so does the table and the balls stay perfectly in place.

The opportunity to play a game of pool with new found friends and a beer will bring a home comfort to your cruise.

Cruise lines with pool tables: Royal Caribbean Cruises

Ice-skating

Just when you thought there was no other sport to be played onboard, Royal Caribbean introduced ice-rinks. Ice-skating in the middle of the ocean, now that’s impressive!

When the rink is not being used by the cast to perform a show, you can don a pair of skates with protective wear and hit the ice.Whether you are an expert skater or never tried it before, the professional skaters will be there to guide you.

Ice hockey games are not yet arranged..but watch this space.

Cruise lines with ice rinks: Royal Caribbean Cruises

By Sally Grimes


Ventura's Onboard Activities

16th April 2014

Following on from my last blog post where I gave you a glimpse of my recent trip onboard P&O Cruises’ Ventura, I feel like there is still so much to tell you about this wonderful ship.

One of the main questions I have been asked about my trip is 'What did you do onboard?' This led me to think people, particularly first time cruisers have apprehensions about the type of activities available onboard.

P&O Cruises are home to a jam-packed schedule of intriguing activities. From learning something new, relaxed activities and thrilling adventures there is something for everyone. 

Aside from the obvious things like watching a show, taking part in a trivia or dining, I wanted to let you know about the more unusual activities that she has to offer.

With this in mind, here are my top 5 alternative activities on Ventura...

Fruit Carving

We all gasp with amazement when we walk into the buffet restaurant and see a face carved from watermelon or an animal made from bananas. I guarantee you either think to yourself or say to your travelling partner 'How do they do that?' P&O Cruises have made it possible for you to learn, so of course I had to try this during my trip.

After a short introduction from one of the professional fruit carvers (aka a chef!) he explained the techniques behind the carving before giving us our tools and talking us through our creation. Before I knew it, standing in front of me was a cute penguin made from fruit, amazing!

A really fun activity that I can share with friends and use to make table decorations for events and dinner parties.

Type of activity: Creative

Good for: Adults, Couples, Singles, Families

Cost: Complimentary

Wine Tasting

I am not a huge wine drinker, but maybe that is because I have never took an interest in learning about it. From working onboard I was always intrigued by how much there is to know about wine and its background, so Ventura was my opportunity to see if it is as fascinating as people make out.

Set in Olly Smith’s Glass House a group of us sat around a large table eagerly waiting for our wine tasting experience to begin. The wine master who conducted the event was fantastic, he was extremely patient, answered all of our questions and enlightened us on more than I even expected about wine. From how they are made, what pair them with, how to drink them and what to look for on a wine bottle – it truly inspired me about this exciting wine culture I knew nothing about.

I now know so many interesting wine facts that I may share the next time I have a dinner party or am trying to impress at a bar but more importantly I know exactly what to look for when I am choosing a wine and how to match it with food.

Type of activity: Informative

Good for: Adults, Groups, Couples, Singles

Cost: Complimentary

Dance Lesson

Have you always wanted to learn to dance but never had the time, funds or confidence? It's a yes from me. Every time I am on a ship I love to watch guests enjoying themselves on the dance floor, but it always fascinates me how they have such perfect coordination and know exactly how to move to each song.

A cruise is the perfect opportunity for a dance lesson, you are in holiday mood (we are always slightly more daring on holiday), no-body knows you, you do not have to sign up for a course of lessons, you are with other people that have never danced and you will be taught by a professional dancer chosen by P&O Cruises.

Type of activity: Learning something new

Good for: Singles, Couples

Cost: Complimentary

Adult-only Shuffle Board

Shuffle board is a popular American game that has slowly been introduced to the British crowd, especially cruisers. I have always watched guests play this game but not been able to understand the concept of the game. Apart from asking someone up front how to play, I felt like I was never going to learn…until I was on my recent cruise.

Ventura host friendly and competitive shuffleboard competitions and the opportunity to learn the game.

I was surprised with the patience of the crew member that showed me how to play and I certainly felt ready to enter myself into the competition.

Type of activity: Competitive

Good for: Adults, Couples, Singles, Groups

Cost: Complimentary

Behind the Scenes Tour

I do not believe anyone that goes on a cruise and doesn’t think about the behind the scenes operation at least once. From how the ship is maneuvered, where the crew live, the culinary operation or how the engines work, it is certainly an incredible operation.

As I used to work on cruise ships I am aware of the large operations behind a working ship but this would not stop me from signing up to a behind the scenes tour and every cruise line has different procedures that amaze me once again.

Hosted by a senior member of staff, they will take you around the galley, behind the theatre and around the engine room before ending on the bridge with champagne and small snacks.

Type of activity: Exclusive

Good for: Adults, Groups, Singles, Families

Cost: Approx £75 per person


By Sally Grimes


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