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What Cruise Activities are Most Popular? Fans Speak!

A cruise is more about visiting beautiful and interesting places. Today, the ships are the destinations as well, with so much to do, see and learn while onboard. Whether it’s a sea day with hours of free time to spend indulging in all of the shipboard activities, or a port day when the ship is quieter, everyone has their favorite cruising activity. Holland America Line Facebook fans chimed in with their favorites, which ranged from eating (of course!) to relaxing on a cabin verandah. What are your favorite cruise activities? Do you agree with the favorites below?


Lobster and Gravlax and Baked Alaska, Oh My!
Around every corner on a Holland America Line cruise there’s the opportunity to eat. From the casual Lido buffet to the elegant Main Dining Room to the alternative Pinnacle Grill, eating ranks number-one in popular cruise activities. Perhaps it’s because guests can venture out of their comfort zone and try something new and exotic, or it’s because of all of the tempting tasty treats on every menu. Not to mention the opportunity to sample culinary creations from celebrity chefs Sirio Maccioni at An Evening at Le Cirque and Culinary Council Chef Jonnie Boer at Taste of De Librije. And for guests who don’t want to leave the comfort of their stateroom, there’s always room service.

Facebook fan Mary H. agrees dining is tops. She wrote: “I’d like to eat at the Pinnacle Grill and have the creme brulee to end the meal.”

Pampering at the spa ranks high among our guests' favorites.

Pampering at the spa ranks high among our guests’ favorites.

Pure Pampering at the Greenhouse Spa an Salon
There’s no better way to unwind and rejuvenate on a cruise than at the spa, which is why it’s ranked so popular among our Facebook fans. Holland America Line’s therapists can work their magic during a massage … the hardest decision will be Swedish or hot stone? The full menu of treatment options ranges from facials and manicures to hair stylings and the hydrotherapy pool bubbling with therapeutic sea water. For those who want to stay fit while on vacation, the gym is fully equipped with all of the latest machines, and fitness instructors offer classes like yoga, pilates and indoor cycling.

Facebook fan Jan R. said her favorite activity is: “Getting massages. I got four of them, each one different. I was relaxed that cruise.”


Exercise the Mind
On each Holland America Line cruise, the opportunity to exercise the mind presents itself in many ways. Guest lecturers and “On Location” experts impart their local knowledge, while lighthearted classes such as towel folding, party planning and crafts make time onboard enriching. Guests with a culinary bug can learn to cook like a chef during the Culinary Arts Center guest chef demonstrations and classes, while the Digital Workshop powered by Windows classes teach the finer points of computers. Facebook fans also love to play Bingo! B2 … one little duck! Anyone?

Facebook fan Lynnette M. enjoys the towel folding demonstrations, while Terry Z. is ready to do trivia and bingo.


Time to Unplug
Going on a cruise means extra time to relax and leave the stresses of normal, everyday life behind. Guests can do as much or as little as they want, and many guests choose to do nothing extra onboard. Time slows down on a cruise, and there’s nothing more important to do than decide where to eat and what to wear. What are the best activities for doing “nothing?” Try curling up in a lounge chair in the Explorations Cafe reading the book you’ve been putting off or simply resting in a steamer chair on deck watching the world sail by. There are a lot of exceptional “nothing” activities to enjoy.

Facebook fan Wendy W.said her favorite activity is “relaxing and enjoying the moment of just being on the ship.”

A memorable Dancing with the Stars at Sea performance.

A memorable Dancing with the Stars at Sea performance with Olympian Shawn Johnson, center.

Let Us Entertain You
Holland America Line ships offer the best in entertainment options, which is why Facebook fans rave about the variety of performances. The Dancing with the Stars: at Sea program is a guest favorite, with classes on every sailing and theme cruises throughout the year leading up to the Champions Cruise in January 2014. Guests who like to get up and move to the music will love B.B. King’s Blues Club on ms Eurodam, ms Westerdam, ms Zuiderdam, ms Noordam and ms Nieuw Amsterdam. The Queen’s Lounge is transformed into a vibrant blues musical experience, and guests can enjoy the eight-piece band featuring two vocalists backed by a drummer, bassist, guitarist, sax player, trumpet player and Hammond B-3 organ player. Each ship also features traditional Vegas-style shows on the main stage, a variety of bands in the lounges and bars around the ship so there are different genres to fit everyone’s dancing style.

Good luck to Facebook fan Doreen P.: “I just won Dancing with the Stars: at Sea on the Rotterdam. I hope I am fortunate to make it to the final cruise.”


Take a Dip
After sampling all the fabulous restaurants and culinary opportunities Holland America Line has to offer, guests love to take a swim in the Lido pool or relax in the whirlpools. Days at sea can be a great time to unwind poolside with a favorite book – or a favorite cocktail. While the warm Caribbean can be optimal for sunning by the pool, guests on cooler-climate cruises need not despair — many ships are equipped with retractable domes to maintain a comfortable temperature for swimming in any locale.

Facebook fan Bernadette said she loves nothing more than jumping in the pool after returning from the islands.

The Martini Bar in Mix.

The Martini Bar in Mix.

Eat, Drink and be Merry
Any time of the day is the perfect time to socialize with new friends or catch up with old ones. Guests love to mingle and sing around the Piano Bar, get together in the Silk Den lounge and check out Happy Hour in the Crow’s Nest. Mix is the ideal spot for a group with a variety of tastes with three specialty venues in one bar: Mix Champagne is great for mid-day mimosas or anytime celebrations with a bit of bubbly. Mix Martinis specializes in Grey Goose vodka cocktails and serves martini flights for those who want to taste a bit of everything. And Mix Spirit & Ales is the place to go for a good microbrew, single malt scotch, or to sit back and catch up on sports.

Guest Sharon put it succinctly when she said her favorite thing to do onboard was: “Eat, drink & be merry”


A Room With a View
Private balconies allow a bit of the scenery to make its way into your stateroom. Perhaps this is why guests rank their private balconies among the top cruise activities. A private balcony is especially valuable on scenic cruises. Imagine sitting back and watching glaciers calve, observing the jewel-toned hues of the fall foliage, taking in the massive Geriangerfjord or passing through the Panama Canal with nothing more than your camera in-hand and the view … all from the comfort of your stateroom. For the ultimate comfort and privacy, guests enjoy reserving a penthouse suite and cruising in ultimate luxury.

Facebook fan Marzi R. agrees. Her favorite activity is “Just sitting on a balcony reading or journaling! Love to cruise!”


Walking the Promenade
Breathing in the fresh sea air, or feeling the cool New England breeze while taking in the sights can be extraordinary. Guests love to stroll and power-walk around the promenade and enjoy the views of land and sea all the while walking off the fabulous crème brulee. The promenade can be a great place to grab a seat and see the sunrise and sunset, or watch the world pass by.

Facebook fan Mona said it’s great for “…sitting back and watching the water go by. So relaxing.”

Other popular activities include going to the casino, watching a movie, shopping in the gift shop and playing tennis. And yes, there are several Facebook fans who simply enjoy doing “everything” on a cruise!

  • Scott Lara

    I say all the above!

  • Ty Miller

    Taking in all the fantastic artwork on the ship. Every time I left my room I ended up coming across another amazing piece of art that captured my attention. Thank you for letting me download the self guided tour on my own iPad, because I think I must have played it a few dozen times just to allow myself to believe I was really seeing such amazing art not copies.

  • Delores Short

    All of the above–soooo blue to be there!!!!!!

  • Elaine Miller

    I thought I only wanted the port days. I have chosen a cruise based on the fewest at sea days. I still want great port days, but found that I needed an occasional at sea day to deal with laundry, sleep in a little, read and enjoy the sea.

    Much to my surprise, I found myself pouring over the daily itenerary on at sea days– What to do– movie?, cooking show?, trivia contest?, travel lecture?, gem show?, pool time? (not to mention all of the food-related activities– High Tea, formal nights, theme parties on the pool decks, Mariner receptions and special luncheons) Add in the body pampering and workouts and there is simply no way to do it all!!

    Needless to say, my eyes have been opened. I now understand those guests I met who rarely go ashore–they are having too much fun on board!!

  • Catherine

    During our 18-day Zuiderdam canal transit, our favorite was listening to Michael Simons’ guitar virtuosity and vocals in the Crow’s Nest or Queen’s Lounge every evening – we planned our activities around his scheduled sets as best we could. DWTS at Sea was also great fun as I competed as a finalist in Samba and my husband placed 2nd in Cha Cha competition. The caliber of resident dancers and singers was exceptional! Food and on board activities also excellent. Loving the longer cruise experience!

  • Barb Schimming

    The Piano Bar with Jimmy Maddox!

  • Pauline Cole

    Sitting in the Crows Nest with my favourite cocktail watching the world sail by.

  • Geri Urquhart

    I enjoy all of the above, however, I have the following suggestion to offer. I belong to a group of Retirees who have formed a Glee Club. We gather together on a regular basis to sing and play. Music is a big part of our lives and on the longer cruises I really miss my guitar. I would be the first to sign up for a cruise that included an informal gathering of people of all ages who would enjoy joining a Holland America Glee Club. In fact, I would be happy to help with the organizing.

  • Theresa Bournique

    Spending evenings with Jimmy Maddox! Cruising, eating, ports of call, bingo, happy hour, trivia, everything else I’ve left out and Jimmy, too! Been to heaven and back. Can hardly wait til our next cruise!

  • Dan Pereira

    I just recently disembarked in Hong Kong from the 2013 Grand Pacific & Far East Voyage (which continued on and will eventualy be returning to the USA when it ends) Along with eall the activities we enjoyed on this cruise was finding some people on board that were playing “pickleball” on the paddleball court… They shared their equipment (paddles and pickleballs) and allowed other passengers to learn and play this new game…
    Our cruise director and activity staff were very encouraging of this new sport and said they would look to provide the equipment on future cruises… Meanwhile, if you play pickleball take your paddles and balls onboard and enjoy playing and teaching the game to others who come by to play…

  • cynthia atherson

    Just completed our Hawaiian vacation with family on the Veendam. Great service and friendly staff. Although we faced some challenges with itinarary and weather, we totally enjoyed our time onboard. There was a Hawaiian theme the whole trip to Hawaii. We have sailed with other cruise lines and they offer nothing towards the theme or destination. We learned how to hula dance with some of the native hawaiian dancers onboard, and learned about the precious history and culture of the hawaiian people by the cultural advisor onboard. He was a kind and friendly representative of Hawaii and its people, he and his dancers, and the fabulous hawaiian ukulele player onboard made our trip. Nice work holland, we look forward to another sail with you. Maybe we will try Australia next?

  • Julie

    Cynthia, We’re delighted you had a great time and enjoyed the On Location program. If you join us in Australia you won’t be disappointed. You can learn how to play the digeridoo, do boomerang painting, indulge in an Aussie barbecue on deck and more! Hope to welcome you onboard.

  • Laura Sklar

    Swimming and just relaxing, watching the sea as we sail leaving the port. I miss you Holland♡.

  • Sue

    Let’s play pickleball. We did on holland America cruise. My husband brought 4 paddles. We had 20 people one day

  • sheryl

    Pickleball players from New Mexico are hoping
    one of the ships has a pickleball court for a group planned cruise.
    Carribean seems to be the destination.
    Any thing or suggestions out there?

  • sheila

    jimmy Maddox has a large following and he deserves it they come from all over usa we just left him on sat 12 19 after 15 of us surprised him for his birthday he had no idea we were all there he is a fabulous entertainer we all love him dearly Hollands food is greatest esp
    pinnacle grill and caneleto service is fab thanks for a great t ime jimmy we all love u
    always meet nice people who we stay in contact with for a long time

  • Gary

    We are running a Pickleball Cruise on the Nieu Statendam, in Feb and March of 2020. Hope some of you can join us. If not this time maybe some other day.

    Pickleball Clinics, Trivia, Group Dinning, Cocktail Party’s and more!

    Please join Pickleball Vacation Connection on Facebook

    E-mail us at ((((( ))))) more details.

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