Holland America Line is making plans to resume cruising – company President Gus Antorcha hopes it will be in the U.S. by July but if not, from an offshore homeport. Maybe both.
“We’re taking CDC at their word. We’re really hoping that there’s a clear path to return in July. If that’s the case, you’ll see Holland America Line sailing in Alaska,” Antorcha said in an interview with TravelPulse. “But we’re also in parallel, very advanced discussions with some other countries about homeporting there in the summer. Those are pretty far along. We still need to jump through a few more hurdles, but hopefully very soon you’ll be hearing about Holland America returning.”
“Ideally, and hopefully it’s in the United States, but if it’s not, we still want to get our ships back operating,” he added. “And there’s demand, and there are countries that are supporting it, so we’re working that in parallel. “
Gustavo Antorcha, president of Holland America Line. (Photo courtesy of Holland America Line)
Even if the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention approves cruising in the U.S., Holland America Line would continue operating from its offshore homeport as well, he said.
“We’re going! We’re getting started. I get those Mariner (loyal past guests) calls, they’re like ‘can you hurry up and get going? Because I want to cruise,’” he shared. “So, we’re going, whether it’s in the U.S. or outside the U.S., we’re going.”
Antorcha said Holland America would resume cruising in Alaska if the CDC allowed it, but that also depends on Canada’s ban on all large-ship cruising through February 2022.
“One step at a time,” he said. “Once the CDC gives us a path, I think we can engage in more detailed, substantive discussions with Canada.”
Discussions with Canada have been ongoing for more than a year. “It’s a bit of a moot point to engage in more detailed discussions with Canada when the CDC doesn’t allow us to sail,” Antorcha said. “It’s sort of the cart before the horse. We have to really get an agreement with the CDC and then re-engage in more detailed discussions with Canada.”
Antorcha also discussed Holland America’s new “Have It All” inclusive program, which includes shore excursions, beverages, specialty dining and Wi-Fi in one premium cruise fare. It was developed after discussions with travel advisors and the line’s loyal Mariner guests.
“We have historically had components of these in different promotions we’ve run, but the desire was to see us have something consistent and always available,” he said. “It makes it easier to understand for our guests and makes it easier to sell for our partners, and it makes the branding and communication easier when we’re consistent.”
Meanwhile, Holland America is getting close to taking delivery of its third Pinnacle-Class ship, the 99,500-gross-ton, 2,668-guest Rotterdam VII.
The ship is on schedule for an Aug. 1 inaugural voyage and a season sailing roundtrips from Amsterdam to Northern Europe through Oct. 10.
It has been out on the waters already and is set to begin official sea trials on May 4.
“It’s progressing very, very well. We anticipate on time delivery and hopefully we’ll be cruising Northern Europe for the summer,” he said.
There’s still some uncertainty about what will be open in Northern Europe, but he’s hopeful with the news yesterday that the European Union may welcome vaccinated American tourists this summer.
Originally Appeared On: https://www.travelpulse.com/news/cruise/holland-america-line-nearing-offshore-cruise-operations.html