Canadian Travel Press
Issue Date: Oct 19, 2020

Christmas is coming …

HAL looks ahead to December restart


A trimmer Holland America Line is looking at restarting operation in mid-December, although company president Gus Antorcha says a currently fluid situation for the cruise industry brought on by the coronavirus pandemic means nothing is written in stone right now when it comes to itineraries.


Speaking from the Seatrade Cruise virtual global conference at the beginning of October, Antorcha said his company recognizes adjustments to current plans for a resumption of business may be necessary as the Dec. 15 startup date approaches.

“Over the next couple of weeks … we’re likely going to have to tweak some of those plans. At the moment things are a little bit in flux,” Antorcha said during a virtual presentation.

“We have to see how things evolve over the next few months.”

Many regions that figure prominently in cruise circles are now struggling with a resurgent coronavirus.

Return of the Rotterdam

Antorcha said Holland America has been speaking regularly with the likes of CLIA as it plans its restart.

The coronavirus pandemic prompted HAL to downsize its fleet by four ships and furlough many of its employees. But HAL officials note that next July will see the company take delivery of a 13-deck, 2,668-passenger vessel that will bear the “iconic” Rotterdam name. The Rotterdam will first sail in the Mediterranean, then reposition north for Norway and Baltic cruises, and then cross the Atlantic in the fall for Caribbean sailings.

Antorcha said there might initially be “some pullback” by Holland America from long-term sailings and cruises to “exotic” ports, which Antorcha said have been “core” products for the company.

A force in Alaska

There have been numerous suggestions from cruise industry observers that cruise companies will relaunch with shorter sailings near major markets as they try to rebuild their business.

Antorcha said his company will be a “force” in the Alaska market in 2021, with six ships to be part of a “complete and robust” program that will include shore visitations, with safety protocols in place on ships also in place on shore.

He also said Holland America will continue to offer a “significant number” of onboard lectures and access to some ports that its competitors don’t have.

Holland America’s president also said the cruise company is committed to sound safety and environmental practices when it restarts.

Meanwhile, Antorcha said he believes the pandemic has left people “desperate” to travel, adding he believes people may have taken travel “for granted” before the pandemic’s onset.