Holland America Line is tapping into the expertise of one of the world’s most acclaimed wine critics, James Suckling, to curate an extensive new wine list that will be featured on all ships in the premium fleet. As Holland America Line’s official Wine Curator, Suckling will lead the design and development of the premium line’s wine offerings and provide wine selection tips on the menus and wine lists of all shipboard dining venues and bars.
Holland America Line currently features more than 300 labels from more than 30 countries, and Suckling is working with the cruise line to review and craft a new vision for the wine program. When the list is complete, a large majority of the selection will have an impressive rating of 90 points or higher — based on Suckling’s own 100-point scale. Holland America Line expects to have the new list in place fleetwide by the end of 2018, in time for the launch of Nieuw Statendam.
“Wine is a big part of the cruise experience for many of our guests, and having the best wine list at sea, or anywhere, allows us to guide novices to find their new favorite label or indulge an aficionado who appreciates our deep selection from global wineries that can be hard to find,” said Orlando Ashford, president, Holland America Line. “It is an honor to welcome James Suckling as our wine curator, and we know he’s going to create an unrivaled list and further develop our wine-pairing program so our guests can have the perfect wine with every meal.”
“What better way to enjoy and learn about wine than on a cruise with Holland America Line,” said Suckling, who last year rated more than 17,000 wines with his team around the world. “Wine is an experiential product that brings family and friends together and enhances life, just as the special travel experiences delivered by Holland America Line.”
About James Suckling
Suckling began his wine critic career in 1981 as an assistant editor for Wine Spectator magazine. Four years later he moved to Paris, France, to establish Wine Spectator’s European bureau. This put him at the center of European wine production and cemented his relationships with thousands of vintners, as well as contributed to his expanding knowledge of wines throughout the continent. In total, Suckling spent nearly 30 years as senior editor and European bureau chief of Wine Spectator and as European editor of Cigar Aficionado.
In 2010 Suckling launched JamesSuckling.com, a site that evolved from seeing a need for wine information to be communicated in a more modern way. Suckling and his team of critics rate about 17,000 wines a year, and Suckling estimates that he’s tasted close to 200,000 wines in his career.
Suckling also promotes and creates pieces for Lalique, the famous French crystal manufacturer. He also makes documentary movies. In 2017 Suckling received a knighthood from the Italian government — Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia — for his decades-long coverage of Italian wines. He also recently received an honorary citizenship from the town of Montalcino for his almost 40 years of writing about and rating Brunello di Montalcino.
Suckling is the father of Jack and Isabel. Jack is the tasting editor for and has tasted 5,000 wines for JamesSuckling.com. Suckling’s wife, Marie Kim-Suckling, a former wine merchant originally from Seoul, South Korea, is vice president of the international media wine company. He still lives near Florence, Italy, part of the year, as well as in Hong Kong, China, and in Napa Valley in California.