When taking a Holland America Line cruise, you can expect incredible shore excursions, tailor-made to offer the best experience at every port. Holland America Line has grouped many of the tours into five distinct collections, so you’ll know exactly what to look for when booking your tours in advance or onboard.
Each collection is centered on a different type of experience and you can find them at nearly every destination around the world. From late-night museum tours only available to Holland America Line guests to helicopter tours and cuddling with koalas — here’s an explanation of all five collections, and some of the best tours you’ll find in each group.
The Medallion Collection is a series of exclusive experiences designed for the most discerning Holland America Line guest. You’ll enjoy first-class style and smaller groups. Perhaps one of the most popular Medallion Collection excursions is Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier by Helicopter at Juneau, Alaska. This unforgettable tour combines the thrill of a glacier helicopter tour, flying over lush rain forest and glacier-carved peaks, and a dogsledding adventure that will be like nothing you have ever experienced before.
You’ll head to the oldest operating dog sled tour company in Alaska by helicopter and either help the professional mushers drive the team or relax in the sled as you take in stunning scenery around you. Of course … you’ll also get plenty of time to play with the dogs!
Another exciting Medallion Collection shore excursion is the Pearl Harbor VIP Military Base Experience — the only tour of World War II Battlefields, including exclusive access to military bases and the Arizona Memorial. You’ll also stop at the largest Army Base outside the Continental U.S. and visit the Pineapple Pentagon — headquarters of the U.S. Army Pacific Command.
The Medallion Collection also features incredible overnight adventures, like the Milford Sound to Dunedin Overnight Tour. Highlights of the tour include passing through the magnificent Fiordland National Park, stopping for photos at the Chasm and Mirror Lakes, and heading to Queenstown for a gondola ride up to Bob’s Peak. The following day you’ll also enjoy a sightseeing tour at Dunedin, to see why some call it “the Edinburgh of the South.”
And in addition to first-class tours and unforgettable experiences, tours offer in-depth perspectives with access to events and sights not normally readily available, like the Exclusive Evening at the Hermitage tour at St. Petersburg, Russia. On this tour, the Hermitage Museum opens at night for an evening viewing exclusively for Holland America Line guests. The museum, a work of art in itself, ranks among the world’s best.
The Encore Collection is perfect for cruisers visiting destinations they have been to before. These tours let you discover what lies beyond the well-known attractions of a place. The Landscapes & Sheep Dogs: A Scottish Experience tour at Greenock (Glasgow), Scotland, lets you take a deeper look into one of this country’s most important workers. You’ll first drive across the valley of the Lowland region and head to the small market town of Aberfoyle to the Scottish Wool Center. You’ll meet some adorable border collies, one of the smartest dog breeds, and members of the Scottish Sheepdog School — a center for excellence for the breeding and training of young sheepdogs. You’ll observe class while the dogs display their agility and ability. Then after lunch you’ll head to the ‘Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond’ — a stunning mountainous region and embark on a boat cruise on Loch Lomond.
The America’s Cup tour is also Encore Collection, letting you enjoy the thrill of sailing on the waters of Auckland, New Zealand — the legendary City of Sails. In the past, sailing an America’s Cup yacht was only available to the racing crews themselves. With this tour you’ll be part of the crew, encouraged to participate in sailing the powerful yachts. But if you’re just looking to sit back and relax, you can do that too, taking in the beautiful Waitemata Harbour.
Other once-in-a-lifetime experiences on Encore Collection tours are getting a taste of castle life and high tea at Quebec, Canada’s, famous Château Frontenac; a flight and hike to the famous Mayan ruins of Tikal from Santo Thomas de Castilla, Guadeloupe, and a tour of one of the four Imperial Cities and the capital of Morocco, Rabat, during a call at Casablanca.
World Wonders Collection
The World Wonders Collection features natural treasures, architectural marvels and technical wonders. See the Seven Wonders of the World and some carefully selected additions including the ancient city of Pompeii at Naples, Italy, and one of southeast Asia’s most incredible sights, the temple of Borobudur, during a call at Semarang, Java, Indonesia.
What the World Wonders Collection tours have in common is the ability to awe guests. The Giza Pyramids, Sphinx & the Egyptian Museum of Antiguities tour at Alexandria (Cairo), Egypt, will do just that. You’ll head to Cairo, the capital of Egypt, and first visit the great pyramids of Giza. The largest of these, Cheops, is the only remaining one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. You’ll also see the Sphinx and then head to the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities for a wander through time. Here, the world’s most important collection of Egyptian antiquities is housed, with thousands of statues, jewels and artifacts, including the amazing treasures of Tutankhamon.
The Lake Myvatn tour at Akureyri, Iceland, features stops at Godafoss — one of Iceland’s most spectacular waterfalls and, of course, the Lake Myvatn area. The Great Barrier Reef Cruise & Snorkel tour at Hamilton Island in Queensland, Australia, features one of the world’s best underwater wonders, and the Grand Canyon of the Pacific tour features one of Kauai, Hawaii’s, most popular attractions — Waimea Canyon.
Cruise With Purpose Collection
The Cruise With Purpose Collection was carefully crafted for the thoughtful cruiser who wants to give back or pay it forward. These these activities are all about enriching your soul and improving the planet, one voyage at a time. The Iceland Tomorrow: Planting for the Future & the Ancient Ring of Fire is a predominantly green-focused tour that circles the active, 2,635-foot Hengill Volcano, at Reykjavik, Iceland. At the time of Iceland’s settlement, in the 9th century, an estimated one fourth of the country was covered by birch woodlands, but today just a little over 1% of Iceland is forest. So aside from scenic drives and visits to the Hellisheidi Geothermal Plant Visitor Center, the town of Hveragerdi, and the UNESCO World Heritage Suite of Thingvellir, you’ll get to plant a tree in your name!
The Koala Sanctuary & Tree Planting tour at Brisbane, Australia, lets guests leave their mark while getting up close to some of Australia’s most adorable animals. You’ll visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary, and plant a gum tree in its eucalyptus garden. These trees provide a habitat for local wildlife and reduce carbon emissions, and most importantly, feed the koala’s, whose food resources have grown increasingly scarce due to wild fires and deforestations. Afterwards, you’ll get to hug an adorable koala, hand-feed a kangaroo, see the rare platypus and enjoy many other Australian natives.
Other Cruise With Purpose Collection tours let you interact with Nicaraguan children at Corinto, Nicaragua, produce a silk thread in the age-old, traditional manner at Dubrovnik, Croatia, and draw plankton samples, identify whale species and record their behaviors in Juneau, Alaska.
The Signature Collection is an exclusive touring option for independent-minded travelers. You can completely customize your time ashore by reserving private transportation (whether by car, van, boat, floatplane or limousine) and a guide, and head to the sights you most want to see at the pace of your choosing. Signature Collection tours are offered all over the world at Holland America Line destinations from Punta Arenas, Chile; and Fortaleza, Brazil; to Katakolon (Olympia), Greece; Hakodate, Japan; and Seoul, South Korea.
If you’re taking a cruise that visits these ports, the shore excursions can be pre-booked so you get the tour of your choice.
Have you taken any of these unique tours before? Which collection “label” do you look for first when you book shore excursions? Tell us in the comments below.