Holland America: Celebrating 70 Years Cruising the 49th State

Inspiration Travel



Alaska has only been part of the United States since 1959, which makes the state 58 years old. But our travel partner, Holland America Line (HAL), has been introducing cruise passengers to the unforgettable fjords, glaciers and vistas of Alaska over a 70-year history! That’s longer than any other modern cruise line traveling to Alaska.

Because of this, HAL is widely viewed as the cruise line for the 49th state, even though HAL offers awarded itineraries all over the world. Its commitment to Alaska is so strong that, for 2017, HAL has dedicated yet another ship to the region, adding the ms Oosterdam to its existing roster of the ms Amsterdam, ms Eurodam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Noordam, ms Volendam and ms Zaandam.

That gives HAL 126 seven-day Alaska departures in 2017 alone—more than any other cruise line in the world! And, an astounding 13 of these are Inspiration sailings. Our Alaska cruises this year feature ministry partners like Amy Grant, Charles Stanley, Chuck Swindoll, David Jeremiah, for King & Country and Gaither Homecoming.

We’re not the only travel experts who think Holland America Line cruises are the best way to see Alaska. In 2016, HAL won awards for::

  • Best Alaska Itineraries (Porthole Cruise Magazine 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards)
  • Best Cruise Line: Alaska (2016 Travvy Awards)
  • Best Mid-Sized Cruise Line (2016 Travvy Awards)
  • Best Shore Excursions (Porthole Cruise Magazine 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards)

Alaska Cruising: Then & Now

The idea of visiting Alaska by ocean liner isn’t new. Before World War II and the rise of commercial airliners, a ship was the only way to visit Alaska. The earliest service to Alaska was aboard steamships in the 19th century, when passengers often shared the ship with cargo and supplies (and occasionally, cattle). Eventually, companies like Pacific Coast Steamship began advertising more comfortable staterooms for tourists, who would pay $30 for trips from San Francisco to the Inside Passage and other destinations in southeast Alaska.

Thanks to the Gold Rush, cargo shipping to Alaska flourished in the late 19th century. At the same time, the small numbers of passengers slowly grew as word of Alaska’s beauty spread. When freight traffic slowed, enterprises like the Alaska Steamship Company began repurposing their vessels for tourism only, serving passengers who had become enthralled with the state’s snowy mountains, vast wildlife and tales of adventure by Jack London.

But these were smaller ships. The enormous cruise liners were mostly focused on transatlantic crossings. When those began to decline due to commercial jet travel, Holland America began looking at up-and-coming cruise destinations. Alaska—a land of glaciers, whales and unbelievable scenery—was at the top of the list. HAL established an international cruising presence in Alaska’s deep blue waters and never looked back.

The Best Way to Experience Alaska’s Beauty

Since then, cruising to Alaska has become one of the most popular ways for travelers to experience this fascinating, picturesque destination. After all, a flight to Alaska doesn’t offer up-close-and-personal views of Glacier Bay or Hubbard Glacier. Land itineraries make travel to multiple cities or villages difficult. Some cities, like Juneau, aren’t even accessible by car! HAL realized very early what many travel-lovers know today: The best way to see the broadest, most diverse parts of Alaska isn’t by land or air, but by sea.

CEO Arnold Donald had this to say about HAL’s operations in Alaska: “We know that cruising and Alaska are an absolutely perfect match. What better way to see the vast fjords...than by cruise ship?”

We agree. That’s why Alaska remains one of our favorite destinations. And why Holland America Line—the worldwide leader in Alaskan cruise itineraries—remains one of our most faithful travel partners.