Holland America Line Strengthens Commitment to the Best Live Music at Sea

Performer wearing glasses and holding guitar sings in microphone with blue lighting in background.

Holland America is making exciting enhancements to its entertainment lineup across the fleet as the premium cruise line continues to build on its reputation for featuring the best live music at sea.

“A decade ago we committed to offering the premier collection of live music venues at sea, and the changes we are making over the next several months are a chance for us to strengthen that experience for our guests,” said Michael Smith, senior vice president, guest experience and product development. “Whether on a seven-day Alaska cruise or a 70-plus day Grand Voyage, our guests expect variety and quality in their live music. We are enthusiastic about the initial response we’ve received to the changes we’ve started to preview.”

Lincoln Center Heads to World Stage
Holland America Line is elevating its partnership with Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and taking those shows to the main stage. The program will evolve from a quartet on several ships to a traveling ensemble that will perform on a rotating basis in World Stages on all ships. World Stage is Holland America Line’s main theater; on Pinnacle Class ships the venue seats more than 700 guests and features a two-story, panoramic LED screen.

Holland America Line is excited to be working with Shanta Thake, Lincoln Center’s chief artistic officer, on the new vision for this program, which is still under development and will roll out this summer. The musicians who will be a part of this new program remain the highest caliber of talent and will be exhilarating to watch in the larger venue.

Live Music in Ocean Bar
Between February and early summer, Holland America Line will be adding a band in Ocean Bar on Zuiderdam, Westerdam, Oosterdam, Noordam, Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam. The band is a contemporary trio playing innovative pop arrangements from the 60’s to today for ambience and dancing.

Rolling Stone Lounge
Holland America Line is making a noteworthy change on Vista Class ships Noordam, Westerdam, Oosterdam and Zuiderdam. These ships now feature the Rolling Stone Lounge, a new club powered by Rolling Stone’s highly regarded “best of” lists, replacing the former B.B. King’s Blues Club.

Vista Class ships typically cruise Holland America Line’s longest voyages, and the expanded repertoire of the Rolling Stone Lounge allows for more variety of music including R&B, rock and pop. The band at Rolling Stone Lounge plays live six nights a week and shows vary nightly.

Additional Music Venues
• The popular B.B. King’s Blues Club continues onboard the five Signature and Pinnacle Class ships (Eurodam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Koningsdam, Nieuw Statendam and Rotterdam), along with a variety of other music venues.
• All ships in the fleet except Volendam and Zaandam offer Billboard Onboard, a unique piano bar experience featuring chart-topping hits.
Rolling Stone Rock Room highlights the best of classic rock on Koningsdam, Nieuw Statendam and Rotterdam.

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27 Comments

  1. Andrew Marr May 20, 2024 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    Extremely disappointed that BB Kings is now only on 3 of 11 HAL ships (this article is out of date already). One cannot expect a bar band playing classic rock and ask them to play R&B, Blues, Pop and Disco to the same level as the BB Kings did with brass instruments, saxophones and BB King-caliber vocalists.
    It’s understandable that HAL wants to reduce its costs, but to be honest, we would only consider future cruises on HAL if it is on a ship that includes BB Kings.

    • Julie May 21, 2024 at 10:09 am - Reply

      Hi Andrew, the Rolling Stone Lounge band does play a diverse selection of genres, and some of the musicians come from the B.B. King’s bands, so we hope you’ll give them a try.

  2. Christopher G May 16, 2024 at 12:11 am - Reply

    The recent cruise experience was not the same at all as it was in 2017, it sadly fell much lower solely to Lincoln Center being emptied out. The quintet was the wonderful heart of the cruise as they played beautifully every night with class, beauty, and grace. I really missed that this time. If it comes back I will commit to do another cruise with Holland America within the next three years.

  3. Doreen Reid April 25, 2024 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    So sorry to see the removal of BB Kings from the Vista class ships. This group has been a favorite of ours since the removal of the piano bars. While the Rolling Stones Lounge band is certainly entertaining, I would not say that they offer more variety in their musical performances. Personally they do not hold the same appeal as the BB Kings All Star group who are all talented individuals that combine to provide an outstanding entertainment package. While we enjoy all the ships, this will push us towards itineraries only offered on the pinnacle class ships which is a shame since there are many locations we had yet to see which are only offered on the Vista class itineraries. Please reconsider this change.

    • Julie April 26, 2024 at 7:25 am - Reply

      Hi Doreen, thank you for your feedback. Please note that some of the B.B. King’s musicians have transitioned to the Rolling Stone Lounge band (it’s different from Rolling Stone Rock Room) and they do play all genres. But yes, the Pinnacle Class ships will still offer B.B. King’s Blues Club. We’re glad you enjoy them so much.

  4. Kenneth Dick June 1, 2023 at 6:01 pm - Reply

    Lots of changes (good or bad) taking place on most HAL ships. But, I don’t see anything about what’s planned (if anything) for Volendam and Zaandam. And, since it seems HAL is planning to use them (and Zuiderdam) for longer cruises, they perhaps need more for all the Sea days. So, what’s planned?

    • Kenneth Dick June 26, 2023 at 8:05 am - Reply

      Still looking for an answer/update.

  5. Susan Nowacki June 1, 2023 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    What time is the entertainment?

  6. Diana B Harris May 23, 2023 at 3:14 pm - Reply

    It is still unclear what is happening with the Lincoln Center music. What ships will still have classical performances by either quarters or trios? Will the “travelling ensembles” plan classical music?

    These are important questions to us as we only cruise HA for the classical music.

    • Julie May 26, 2023 at 10:48 am - Reply

      All ships will have an Ocean Bar trio. We are still working through the logistics of which ships will have the large Lincoln Center performances. Stay tuned.

  7. Jim May 20, 2023 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    One of the key benefits of Lincoln Center Stage is its intimate setting and acoustic quality, which allows guests to experience classical music in a traditional concert hall-like atmosphere. Moving the performances to the main stage would mean losing this unique and special experience.

  8. Mike Goetz May 9, 2023 at 8:31 am - Reply

    Very disappointed to hear about these changes. Our favourite venues have been BB King’s and Lincoln Center Stage, and it’s particularly disappointing to see that classical music is being downgraded. Moving classical musicians to play on the main stage (with backing tracks, I assume), takes away from what has made that experience so good at LCS: excellent musicianship in an intimate environment. I appreciate HAL’s commitment to live music at sea, but keep the unique touches that make your line stand out. Lots of cruise lines have four-piece bands, but not many have string quartets and a full blues band with a horn section

  9. Albert Girard May 1, 2023 at 8:02 am - Reply

    I believe it is a mistake to move the Lincoln Center venue to the main stage. One of the pleasures of listening to the Lincoln Center musicians is the intimacy of the smaller space.

    I don’t believe this decision is in the best interest of the guests and I feel that it was likely made without any (or possibly very little) guest input. I am a 4-star cruiser and I was certainly never asked.

  10. Hugh Crawford March 24, 2023 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    Previously, just before Covid,, my wife and I had been extremely fortunate with the music aboard the Westerdam. We had watched Tempest Barnes and her fantastic band perform on the Westerdam for over two weeks. Therefore, we were very excited when we rebooked our Asian trip on the Westerdam in February, 2023. We could not wait to visit the B.B. King Blues Bar aboard the ship.

    However, to our dismay, the club had been replaced by the Rolling Stones Club. Our first night quickly changed our opinion about the Rolling Stone’s Club! Very similar, high quality music as the B.B. King bands. With less Motown being played.

    A suggestion for HAL.
    It would be great to know ahead of time, who was playing at their ship’s clubs. My wife and I really enjoy Holland’ America’s Music The music is almost as important as the ports promised during the cruise. So how about it HAL? Include who is playing. I am sure your passengers already have favourite singers and bands. Knowing who is playing might even increase sales. .

  11. Gary Piercy March 21, 2023 at 9:16 am - Reply

    HAL is making a mistake in cancelling the classical music in the Lincoln Center Stage and introducing a larger group on the Main Stage. The LCS quartets are unique in the industry and attracts Neptune type clientele. The small LCS area is perfect for classical music and the Main Stage is not. Please keep LCS or at least go back to a trio in the Explorers Lounge.

  12. Joanne Crull March 17, 2023 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    Glad to hear you’re bringing music back to the ocean bar. Please don’t change the Lincoln Center. Although some ships could use more room for their music, the World Stage is too large. I’m concerned about promoting Rolling Stones over BB King. I prefer less electric guitars and more brass and woodwind instruments.

  13. Karen Rowsell March 13, 2023 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    I am on the Eurodam, listening to the best music I have ever heard on a cruise ship, or anywhere else for that matter. They call them ‘THIRD Street WEST’. Three gorgeous tall dark and very handsome young men, just oozing with musical talent! Sadly tomorrow we must leave the ship! We have enjoyed their talented creations every night of our cruise, and will truly
    miss seeing them. Hope to be on a Holland America Cruise with them again very soon! ♥️

  14. Annie Dunn February 11, 2023 at 8:03 am - Reply

    Just returned from a fantastic Antarctic cruise on Oosterdam. I was so delighted to see the Rolling Stone club! Rock and Roll is the music of the demographic that generally travels on HAL. While I have been on ships with BB Kings, the venue isn’t nearly as popular or as danceable as Rolling Stone. Billboard is amazing—and Meghan and Gabe are first class musicians. The venue was generally so crowded, especially after MainStage shows ended, that there was often standing room only and many chairs were taken from the casino. By far, these two individuals were the best I’ve ever heard. Keep bringing this quality to the ships. Also, really enjoyed the dance troupe and the addition of the Billboard and Ocean Bar musicians into the MainStage acts, along with the fantastic Lincoln Artists accompanying the Earth video. These artists deserve a larger stage!

    • Joella D Hultgren April 5, 2024 at 2:36 pm - Reply

      Can’t stand the Rolling Stone noise and racquet. Tried to listen on several ships, and we were driven away by the noise and teeny boppers. Love the Lincoln Center groups, and the Ocean Bars trios, and the Billboard piano singers.

  15. Jeannett February 11, 2023 at 6:58 am - Reply

    One of the main reasons we cruise with Holland America is because of their classical music offerings. We have seen the group shrink and then grow again. On our recent cruise on the Eurodam, the quartet was amazing! The seating was full for most performances, and you had to arrive early to get a good seat. A larger venue would allow for larger audiences, but it would also take away from the intimate atmosphere of the current setup. Please don’t take that away! Also, it sounds like the plan is to only have classical music once or twice per cruise, and that would be very disappointing! Without the regular classical performances, there would be less interest in Holland America for us.

  16. Carol February 10, 2023 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    We just went on the Nieuw Amsterdam ship from Fort Lauderdale in Jan 2023. Quite disappointed that there was minimal entertainment as we have enjoyed some fantastic shows on our other 16 cruises. The two shows with the dancers were extremely well done, we loved those! However, other nights the comedian was so-so, and the “films” were not the entertainment we expect on cruises. Perhaps this is a cost-cutdown due to Covid, but I hope the great shows make a return!
    The duo piano players were fantastic, but there was not enough seating for everyone who wished to listen and watch them. They could have been in the main theatre.

  17. Mary Rose Carroll January 31, 2023 at 5:26 am - Reply

    It is very unclear from the blog here what IS goi g to be featured on the Volendam. Could you please clarify.

    • Julie February 6, 2023 at 12:36 pm - Reply

      Different ships will have different live offerings. On Volendam, we have music in the Ocean Bar, Piano Bar and a String Duo that will swap with a guitarist in the summer.

  18. Kenneth Dick January 26, 2023 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    The Westerdam is currently in drydock (back out on/about 3 February). We’ll be back onboard the Westerdam on 13 March. How many of the Vista Class venue changes will be completed/active for our mid-March cruise?

  19. ROSEMARY S OWEN January 25, 2023 at 6:23 am - Reply

    We usually travel on Nieuw Statendam and Rotterdam. How about some more entertainment during the sea days? The trivia you do is ok, but it gets old. The last time on Nieuw Statendam (December 2022) the staff doing some of the trivia are very immature and not entertaining. How about doing some Karaoke in the lounge across from Rudi’s? We will keeping traveling on HAL, but please for now and see if anything changes.

    Thanks.

  20. Jean January 16, 2023 at 1:16 am - Reply

    We have always enjoyed trios and quartets in Lincoln Stage./Explorations Lounge. However it has been a long time since we have heard more than one or two musicians. one or two are good, but three or four are better.
    If you want to bring them to the main stage, fine, but don’t remove the opportunity to hear them in the small venue. It is what we do before or after dinner and would be greatly missed.

  21. Sandra January 14, 2023 at 12:26 am - Reply

    Hi,
    I have just come off the Noordam which I thoroughly enjoyed. Trivia and the piano playing at Billboard on board are so popular that you have to arrive 45 mins early to get seats for 5 people, which often means missing another activity or leaving early. This was the same with the great band in the Rolling Stone lounge. For future designs perhaps these areas could be reconfigured to accomodate more attendees. Just a thought.
    Thanks
    Sandra Bryson

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