I was planning an Alaskan cruise for sometime this summer when I came across a Condé Nast article about traveling to Alaska this summer. In about the third paragraph of the article was a sentence or two mentioning an Oprah cruise to Alaska. After thoroughly doing my research, and triple checking, I learned that Oprah and her magazine “O” had formed a partnership with the Holland America cruise line and planned an Oprah themed cruise(and yes, Oprah was on the ship!). So I checked off a lot of firsts in one trip, including my first trip on Holland America.
Things To Know About Holland America Cruise Line:
- Holland America has 15 ships and sales to all seven continents. The Eurodam ship has been traveling for almost nine years and holds over 2,000 guests. Rooms range from interior rooms, to ocean view rooms with just windows, to verandah rooms(with a balcony) and of course suites. The rooms at the end of the boat tend to be pricier.
- Holland America travels to Alaska through the summer months from the end of May until September. This is definitely not a cruise where you will spend your days at sea laying out on the deck in the sun even though you will be traveling during the summer. I learned on this trip that Oprah and her team tried to pick out the best week for her to travel and settled on this one to make sure there was good weather and the sights from the boat could be seen clearly. So based on Oprah Winfrey’s recommendation the best week is near the end of July.
- Similar to most cruise ships, Holland America’s Eurodam has a formal dining room and a buffet style dining area. When signing up for your trip, you can decide between open seating and an assigned time for formal dining, I would suggest open seating just in case your plans change during the day.
- Besides those two eating areas, Holland America also has extra options. Near the pool in the middle of the boat there is the Dive In, which has awesome burgers, fries, and a delicious chicken sandwich. There are also four additional formal dining restaurants on board, which helps keep dinner interesting. You do have to pay extra for eating at these restaurants but I did not regret my reservations at either Pinnacle Grill or Canaletto on board. Overall the food was always fresh tasting and there was always a variety of options.
- Holland America offers drink packages, where you can pay upfront for your drink preferences. However, after paying for my drinks online, I realized on the ship that I would have been fine with the options included in the trip. Within the dining room water is included, and the buffet style dining area always has a variety of juices for breakfast, plus coffee, lemonade, iced tea, hot tea packets, milk, and hot chocolate packets all day long. The additional drink packages are worth the price if you plan on regularly drinking alcohol or soda during your trip.
- While the O magazine sponsored the cruise, and added additional entertainment, all Holland America cruises also provide on board entertainment. For a cruise to Alaska, due to the chillier and rainier weather, you can easily get cabin fever so finding good entertainment is important. Eurodam has a movie theater, musical performances, a few shops, a library with board games, cooking demonstrations, a casino, bingo, and a retractable skyline so the outdoor pool turned into an indoor pool.
- When purchasing your trip the first upfront fee covers your room, most on board activities, and most food and drink. Activities off the boat, excursions besides just exploring the ports, can be added at additional fees. I would suggest signing up as early as possible for excursions. There are usually some excursions available a day or two before you make it to the port, and you can purchase them on board the ship. However the most popular excursions tend to fill up fast and most of them have limited availability due to time and space constraints(one of my Alaskan excursions could only take six people at a time due to space).
- The staff was really great on the ship, and your bill will reflect this with an extra added in service fee per person, per day. This fee covers the cleaning staff(both room and overall ship), dining room staff, event staff, and security staff.
- When traveling on a cruise, the airport and the docking location tend to not be within walking distance from each other. Holland America has an airport transfer option for an additional fee where they pick up your luggage, which is returned in your room later, and they transport you in a shuttle to the boat. At the end of the cruise they even checked us in for our flight, printed out our luggage tags, and checked in our bags. We dropped off our bags the night before and they arrived at our destination without having to carry them all day.
- The only other cruise line I have traveled with thus far is Carnival, and when comparing the two it seems the rooms, and bathroom, on Holland is more spacious. The other comparison I made is that Carnival seems much more family oriented(meaning it has more activities for children), although this might be due to the type of cruise, as a trip to Alaska means less activities by the pool.
*Extra Oprah Partnership Details:
- The O magazine’s theme for this year is choose your own adventure, and there overall motto is live your best life, so that became the theme of this cruise which they partnered together to create. Overall, Holland America will be integrating activities inspired by O magazine throughout many of their cruises for at least the next two years.
- Living your best life was also the theme of the “Conversation With Oprah”, which was the title of the presentation Oprah gave while on the cruise. Oprah discussed the best advice she could give others based on her life experiences. A few of my favorite quotes are, “ Do everything with intent”, “If it is meant for you, it will happen to you”, “Surround yourself with people rooting for you a 100%”, and “Everything you put into the world will come back to you”. While the O magazine is sponsoring a handful of cruises this year and in 2018, there has not been official confirmation that Oprah will be speaking at all of them. You can check this website periodically to see if that changes.
- Besides Oprah Winfrey herself, she also brought the team behind O magazine on the cruise including her bff and the Editor at Large Gayle King, the Editor in Chief of the magazine Luck Kaylin, the magazine’s publisher Jayne Jamison, the Books editor(who helps run Oprah famous book club) Leigh Haber, and the Creative Director in charge of fashion and magazine shoots Adam Glassman. Gayle was so friendly and participated in a lot of activities on the ship including trivia game night, workouts, joined guests for meals, and gave an inside look as to how the O magazine is put together each month.
- There were additional activities on the ship that was influenced by the columns and contributors in O magazine and on Oprah’s current show, Supersoul Sunday. Additional guests joined the cruise and gave inspirational talks, performances, fitness and food sessions, book signings, and audience Q&A. The guests included Angela Davis, Glennon Doyle, India Arie, Elizabeth Strout, Elettre Wiedemann, and Sara Ivanhoe.
- Lastly an Oprah influenced cruise would not be complete without giving items out as gifts. Each night passengers would receive some Oprah swag, such as water bottles, gloves, shirts, etc., and an Oprah quote. Additionally there was an Oprah’s favorite things shop on board the ship.