Holland America is a former shipping company that switched to a full-time cruise company in 1989. Since then it has offered a sort of premium-mainstream brand of cruising – not quite luxury cruising, but a step up from some of the mainstream cruise lines that are pitched more at families.
The Holland America fleet currently stands at 11 ships, and has just as many former ships in its ranks, selling them to various other cruise lines. The current fleet is split between four classes, and this seems to be the planned fleet for the foreseeable future – unlike most other cruise lines, Holland America doesn’t currently have a new ship on order.
So which ships are the biggest, the smallest, the newest and the oldest in the current fleet? Which ship should you be looking to book a cruise on if you want the most modern features? Let’s take a look.
Holland America Ships By Age
Here’s a rundown of the current Holland America fleet, including the last time they were refurbished, from the newest ship to the oldest.
|MS Nieuw Statendam||2018||–||Pinnacle|
|MS Nieuw Amsterdam||2010||2017||Signature|
Holland America’s Newest Ships
The newest ship in the Holland America fleet is MS Rotterdam. She launched in 2021 and was the third ship in the Pinnacle Class.
Originally planned to be named the Ryndam, she was renamed during construction to honour the cruise line’s history – becoming the sixth ship named Rotterdam to sail for HAL.
The fleet doesn’t have any new ships on order currently, so for now the MS Rotterdam will remain the flagship in the fleet alongside the MS Nieuw Statendam and the MS Koningsdam, sister ships of the MS Rotterdam.
These three are the most recent additions to the fleet, with MS Koningsdam launching in 2016 and MS Nieuw Statendam launching in 2018. The MS Nieuw Statendam even received a refurbishment just two years after she launched, ensuring that she remains a true flagship alongside her sisters.
The newest ships have a capacity that’s around 25% more than the previous largest ships in the fleet, but they’re still a lot smaller than many other cruise line’s ships.
Holland America’s Oldest Ships
The MS Volendam and the MS Zaandam are the oldest ships in the Holland America fleet, with the Volendam being slightly older as she launched in 2009, with Zaandam following a year later. These ships are part of the Rotterdam Class, more commonly referred to as the R-Class.
There were two other ships in the R-Class for Holland America – the MS Rotterdam and the MS Amsterdam. The MS Rotterdam was the oldest ship in the fleet as she launched in 1997. But in 2020 the two ships were sold to Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, sailing now as the Borealis and Bolette respectively.
While some of the ships in the Holland America fleet are a little older now, none of them are ancient. Holland America has a policy of selling off its older ships on a relatively regular basis, maintaining a fleet that is modern and lives up to its premium standards.
And older ships also go through multiple refurbishments, so that no ship ever feels tired or boring. From adding new features to simply ensuring staterooms and public areas are properly maintained, Holland America is always looking to keep even its oldest ships looking their best.
Holland America Ships By Size
The table below lists the Holland America Line cruise ships by size, from largest to smallest. It also shows how many guests each ship can accommodate as well as the class of ship.
|Ship||Gross Tonnage||Guest Capacity||Class|
|MS Nieuw Statendam||99,863||2,650||Pinnacle|
|MS Nieuw Amsterdam||86,700||2,106||Signature|
As you can see, most of the ships are very similar in size, while the oldest two ships are a little smaller.
Holland America’s Biggest Ships
The biggest ships in the Holland America Line fleet are the Pinnacle Class ships – the MS Rotterdam, the MS Nieuw Statendam, and the MS Koningsdam. They’re all the same size, and can accommodate 2,650 guests at double occupancy.
These ships all have 13 decks – numbered from 1 to 14, skipping the unlucky number 13, and they are all just over 980 feet in length.
Holland America’s biggest ships are nowhere near the same size as the biggest ships for other cruise lines. Compared to the biggest cruise ships in the world – the Oasis Class ships for Royal Caribbean – they can only hold around 46% of the maximum guests at double occupancy.
In terms of length, the difference is quite surprising – there’s only 200 feet difference between the Holland America Pinnacle Class ships and the Royal Caribbean Oasis Class ships. But the width of the beam is notable. For the Pinnacle Class ships, it’s 114 feet, and for the Oasis Class ships, it’s 210 feet, making them almost twice as wide.
And this is important because Holland America Line has designed the Pinnacle Class ships to a very specific blueprint – they meet the New Panamax specification.
What this means is that they are designed to be able to sail through the newest set of locks in the Panama Canal, the ones that were opened in 2016. This opens up more cruising options for the ships as they can easily sail the Panama Canal if needed, allowing them to transition between the east and west of the Americas much faster.
Plus, sailings through the Panama Canal are fascinating – well worth a look if you want to see how a giant cruise ship can traverse man-made canals.
Holland America’s Smallest Ships
The two oldest ships in the Holland America fleet are also the smallest – the MS Zaandam and the MS Volendam. Both of these ships have a maximum guest capacity of 1,432, with the MS Volendam having a slightly lower gross tonnage (61,214 compared to MS Zaandam’s 61,396).
They aren’t really ‘small ships’ that you would consider as luxury ones limited to fewer than 1,000 passengers, but they’re definitely on the smaller side of the mid-sized ship range. All of Holland America’s ships are what you’d consider mid-sized compared to other cruise lines, but these two, in particular, are great if you want a quieter cruise.
It’s worth noting that MS Volendam was chartered in May 2022 by the actual city of Rotterdam, to be used as a refugee shelter for people who had escaped from Ukraine following the invasion by Russia.
While the charter was originally scheduled for three months, it was then extended by a month to run until September. The ship was still manned by Holland America crew during this period.
Holland America Ship Classes
There are currently four classes of ship in the Holland America fleet. The newest ships are the Pinnacle Class ships. Before that there was the slightly smaller Signature Class. Ships built in the early 2000s belong to the Vista Class and those pre-millennium are Rotterdam Class ships.
The Pinnacle Class ships are:
- MS Rotterdam
- MS Nieuw Statendam
- MS Koningsdam
Size: 99,862 GT
The Signature Class ships are:
- MS Nieuw Amsterdam
- MS Eurodam
Size: 86,273 to 86,700 GT
The Vista Class ships are:
- Ms Noordam
- MS Westerdam
- Ms Oosterdam
- MS Zuiderdam
Size: 82,305 to 82,318 GT
The Rotterdam Class ships are:
- MS Zaandam
- MS Volendam
Size: 61,214 to 61,396 GT
What Are The Best Holland America Ships?
While Holland America has gone to great lengths to update its older ships, the best ships are definitely the newest Pinnacle Class ships. But thanks to those careful renovations, it’s not a huge gulf in difference.
With capacities ranging from around 1,500 to 2,600 guests, none of the ships in the Holland America fleet are massive, and they’re definitely aimed more at people who prefer a quieter cruise rather than one with 4,000+ people onboard.
That being said, the ships aren’t exactly sparse, and there is plenty to see and do on board. The newest ships do have some of the better features, including the widest selection of dining venues, ranging from the exclusive feel of the Pinnacle Grill and Rudi’s Sel de Mer restaurants, to more casual venues like Dive-In, the poolside grill, and the poolside pizzeria.
If you’re looking to enjoy the newest ships with the most choice of bars and places to eat then I would definitely lean towards a Pinnacle-Class ship, but if you’re not as worried about that and one of the smaller ships has a better itinerary then that would be the way to go.
The onboard experience won’t be radically different, unlike with some cruise lines where their biggest and smallest ships are a world apart.
Holland America Ships FAQs
Holland America Line is owned by the Carnival Corporation, and has been since 1989. The cruise line has existed since 1873 as a shipping/passenger line, before it sold off its cargo line in 1973 and was then taken over by Carnival in a deal worth £450 million ($530 million).
Holland America is considered to be a premium cruise line. It is not on the same level as six-star cruise lines such as Silversea or Regent, but it offers a very different experience to Royal Caribbean and Carnival. The cruise line it is most similar to is probably Celebrity Cruises.
Holland America has sold multiple ships in the past, keeping only the newer ships in the fleet. The most recent ship sales were in 2000 – MS Amsterdam and MS Rotterdam were sold to Fred Olsen, while MS Veendam and MS Maasdam (of the old Statendam Class) were sold to Seajets.
Holland America’s cruise ships are considered mid-sized, and have a maximum guest occupancy of 1,432 to 2,650 depending on the ship.The ships are kept smaller to allow them to sail to more ports, including traversing the Panama Canal.
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