Join HAL’s Book Club on Longer Voyages

Join HAL’s Book Club on Longer Voyages


Holland America Line recently asked guests what they considered essential when cruising, and it comes as no surprise that a good book was on the list for many. Whether sipping a cocktail at Half Moon Cay or a latte at Explorations Cafe, a book makes an excellent travel companion.

For that reason, HAL hosts a book club on all sailings more than 15 days, as well as on select shorter sailings that have several days at sea. On all sailings, the shipboard librarian is happy to share a list of short stories that feature locale tales for guests who wish to read on their own.

The book club is a great way to connect with fellow cruisers, and to relate to your new surroundings — like HAL’s “On Location” program, the featured book is typically unique to each itinerary and selected based on the region.

The Book Club meets on sea days so that guests can further immerse themselves in the region between ports without missing out on any exciting excursions. Featured books can be picked up in the library or at the Explorations Cafe powered by the New York Times, and the club follows a schedule to keep everyone on the same page.

To get an idea of the type of literature that is featured, here’s a sample of books from upcoming Australia, New Zealand, and South Pacific cruises. They should make for some great discussions. Have you read any of these novels? Would you like to? Tell us what you think in the comments below!

Molokai, by Alan Brennert
This richly imagined novel, set in Hawai’i more than a century ago, is an extraordinary epic of a little-known time and place — and a deeply moving testament to the resiliency of the human spirit. Rachel Kalama, a spirited seven-year-old Hawaiian girl, dreams of visiting far-off lands like her father, a merchant seaman. Then one day a rose-colored mark appears on her skin, and those dreams are stolen from her. Taken from her home and family, Rachel is sent to Kalaupapa, the quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka’i. Here her life is supposed to end — but instead she discovers it is only just beginning. With a vibrant cast of vividly realized characters, Moloka’i is the true-to-life chronicle of a people who embraced life in the face of death. Such is the warmth, humor, and compassion of this novel that “few readers will remain unchanged by Rachel’s story”

The Secret River, by Kate Grenville
Kate Grenville is one of Australia’s best-known authors. Her books have been awarded many prizes in Australia, as well as the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and Britain’s Orange Prize. The Secret River is an historical novel that recalls Grenville’s family as British “pioneers” in Australia in the early 1800s. William Thornhill, a Thames bargeman, is deported to the New South Wales colony in what would become Australia. Thornhill tries to pull his family into a position of power and comfort and becomes determined to make the place his own. But, as uninhabited as the island appears, Australia is full of native people, and they do not take kindly to Thornhill’s theft of their home.

Tales of the South Pacific, by James A. Michener
Tales of the South Pacific is a Pulitzer-Prize winning collection of short stories about World War II, told from the point of view of U.S. Navy-men. The setting is the environs of the Coral Sea and the Solomon Islands, and the stories are interconnected by recurring characters and several loose plot lines. The entire book was based on observations and anecdotes Michener collected while stationed as a lieutenant commander in the US Navy on the island of Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides Islands (now known as Vanuatu), and as narrator he gives a first-person voice to several of the stories as an unnamed “Commander,” performing duties similar to those he performed himself.

The Touch, by Colleen McCullough
Not since The Thorn Birds has Colleen McCullough written a novel of such broad appeal about a family and the Australian experience as The Touch. At its center is Alexander Kinross, remembered as a young man in his native Scotland only as a shiftless boilermaker’s apprentice and a godless rebel. But when, years later, he writes from Australia to summon his bride, his Scottish relatives quickly realize that he has made a fortune in the gold fields and is now a man to be reckoned with. Sixteen-year-old Elizabeth arrives in Australia and finds she is frightened and repelled by her husband, and struggles to connect with the strange land.


Join the Discussion


  1. Denise Wilson October 1, 2013 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    I like all of the books you have lists and am going to Hawaii.
    I also like good movies but on my last cruise–Zwiderdam They never had the movies I picked from the list. Hope books work better and movies are improved

  2. Kay October 1, 2013 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    I read Molokai in March on a cruise to Hawaii on the Zandaam. Fantastic read, and I finished it in three days. It made me understand Hawaii and the Hawaiian history so much more than I thought I knew.

  3. Robina October 2, 2013 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    I’m on the October Inca discovery cruise for 30 days….what is a suggestion, how do I join the book club??

  4. Lyn Griffiths October 3, 2013 at 1:32 am - Reply

    On my last HAL cruise – which was aboard the Eurodam (almost exactly one year ago now) sailing from Quebec, through the Canadian Maritimes, then South – I was reading “1867: How the Fathers Made a Deal,” by Christopher Moore. This excellent book tells of the process by which the confederation of Canada came into being. It made my day in Charlottetown, for instance, so much more vivid and memorable. I never finished this book, however, because the Eurodam sailed straight into Hurricane Sandy – and that changed everything about this cruise. Still, for those who like history and are taking a Canada-New England cruise, this would be a good read.

  5. jessie October 5, 2013 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    we are travelling to Hawai and Tahiti in Dec & Jan, do they choose the books for the club before the trip or while on board and will they have several copies if more than one of us chooses to read it??
    This sounds like something I will really enjoy and with so many “sea” days I should have time to read.

  6. jessie October 9, 2013 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    thanks, I am sure we will have fun and with so many days at sea I am sure to have time to read at least a couple of books,

  7. Joyce October 24, 2013 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    We were on the Westerdam 30 day cruise this spring to Hawaii/Tahiti and read Honolulu by Alan Brennert and Kon-Tiki. We had great discussions and there were plenty of copies of the books to go around. It was a lovely way to pass the time at sea. The only problem being I read faster that the assignments and didn’t want to stop reading. I love that HAL does the reading and Needlecraft groups. We are going on the 26 day cruise to the Amazon leaving on 11/26/13 and look forward to the activities on board.

  8. Martha May 18, 2015 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    We are sailing on Veendam , Voyage of Viking, leaving Boston, 2015. Would like to purchase one of the books chosen before leaving home. Any way to get a preview of the book?

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