Holland America Line plans longer roundtrip cruises from U.S. ports

Customer feedback and the price of airfares have led Holland America Line to shift its deployment strategy to offer longer roundtrip sailings out of domestic homeports, said Gus Antorcha, president of the line.

The pivot includes a new category of extended cruises and longer sailings in places like the Caribbean. The shift has led to a 41% increase in the line’s 12-day capacity. HAL has also doubled its capacity of sailings stretching at least 50 days, Antorcha said.

“A lot of this comes from understanding our guests very, very deeply,” Antorcha said to travel media during a luncheon on Sunday hosted by HAL on the Nieuw Amsterdam ahead of the Seatrade Cruise Global Conference in Fort Lauderdale. The shift is a response to customer research and focus groups, he said.

HAL will offer more cruises in the Caribbean ranging from nine- to 21 days. Those itineraries include calls to farther-away destinations where fewer ships sail, including the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao), the Panama Canal and Cartagena, Colombia. The line has also said it is planning longer itineraries on its European sailings.

Increased cost for air travel is also motivating HAL to sail a new category of 29- to 59-day, roundtrip sailings out of domestic homeports, Antorcha said.

“Air travel is tough. We’ve all experienced it. Increasingly tough and increasingly expensive,” he said.

‘Legendary voyages’

The line is creating a category called “Legendary Voyages,” with many sailings out of the U.S. or Canada. For example, the line is sailing a 53-day cruise from Seattle aboard the Westerdam that sails in Alaska before making 14 calls in Japan, then sailing to Hawaii before returning to Seattle.

HAL isn’t the only line that has leaned toward longer sailings. Norwegian Cruise Line plans to sail its first two Prima Class ships on seven- to 12-day voyages after concluding customers are willing to take longer trips.

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