Sustainability 2010-2012

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Our mission is to create once-in-a-lifetime experiences by achieving excellence across our operations, and we view our commitment to doing business responsibly as critical to our success. Shaped by our values, this commitment guides both our actions and our long-term vision, enabling us to deliver the highest level of quality and service today while ensuring our company and our industry can continue to thrive tomorrow.

We’ve chosen to focus our corporate responsibility initiatives on four priority areas where we have the greatest potential to make a positive impact:

Safety, Security & Health

security drill in progress - Holland America Line

The safety, security, and health of our guests



waves breaking - Holland America Line

The sustainability of our global environment



guests walking as part of On Deck for a Cure - Holland America Line

The vibrancy of the communities where we operate



employee - Holland America Line

The well-being of our workforce


2012 Company Snapshot
Meet our management team
Our Ships and Destinations
Our History - Holland America Line
Our Mission and Values
Corporate Structure
Guest Satisfaction Survey
Our Company Profile

Leadership Memo

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photo of Stein Kruse, President and Chief Executive Officer

Memo from the Executive Office

At Holland America Line, one of our core company values is an “Uncompromising Commitment to Safety and Sustainability.” Nothing is more important to us than the responsibility we have to safeguard the well-being of our guests and crew, as well as the oceans we sail upon. We firmly believe that ongoing training and adherence to rigorous standards are vital to preserving and protecting each other and the environment. On any given day, our ships visit ports all over the world, connecting our guests to new cultures and ways of life. As world citizens we must take steps to minimize our environmental footprint. The men and women of Holland America Line take this commitment very seriously.

This area of our website reflects our determined drive to sustainability with a baseline report that covers activities from 2010-2012. I invite you to take a moment, browse the sections and learn more about our people and programs.

We recognize that sustainability is a journey – one that requires ongoing hard work and investment of resources. On behalf of the 16,000 men and women of Holland America Line, we remain dedicated to this mission.

Stein Kruse,


Chief Executive Officer, Holland America Group

About Holland America Line

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selected destinations

Our history dates back to 1873, when Holland America Line — originally known as the Netherlands-American Steamship Company — was founded as a cargo and passenger carrier. Nearly a century and a half later, we’ve evolved into a global leader in the vacation cruise industry, providing guests with unique access to the natural beauty and cultural richness of our world.

While corporate responsibility has long been embedded in our culture, in recent years we’ve elevated our efforts in collaboration with our parent company, Carnival Corporation & plc, by investing resources in extensive performance tracking. In 2010 we released our first corporate responsibility report, which allowed us to identify our most significant opportunities, establish baseline metrics, and begin an important conversation with stakeholders across our value chain.

Since that time we’ve been working to strengthen our management systems in alignment with a multi-year corporate restructuring designed to increase operational efficiency. In 2009 we sold Gray Line of Seattle and transferred our Alaska/Yukon operations to the Princess Tours management team, which led to the formation of Holland America Princess Alaska Tours. In 2010 we transferred our WorldWide Shore Services operations to Holland America Line N.V., closed our reservation center in Williston, N.D., and initiated the transfer of our Westmark hotel properties to Holland America Princess Alaska Tours. And in 2011 we assumed management responsibility for the luxury cruise line Seabourn.

During this period we faced a number of external challenges, including a fluctuating global economy, rising fuel prices, political volatility in some of the regions where we operate, and regulatory changes across our industry. Each of these challenges posed significant difficulties; however, they also drove us to be more innovative in advancing our corporate responsibility initiatives.

Over the past three years we succeeded in maintaining our excellent track record for safety. We also improved fuel efficiency across our fleet, reduced associated greenhouse gas emissions, and increased recycling. In addition, we increased the impact of our community giving and volunteerism efforts and strengthened our employee training and development programs.

As proud as we are of the progress we’ve made, we know there’s much more to accomplish. We’re continuously working to improve our performance in a number of areas. For example, we won’t be satisfied until our safety, security, and health incidents are reduced to zero. We also remain focused on conserving energy and water, reducing emissions and waste, and protecting biodiversity. And we’re exploring new ways we can create positive change by supporting community causes and empowering our employees.

We plan to leverage insights from this, our second corporate responsibility report, to set new goals for the future.

We appreciate your interest in our efforts. If you have any questions or ideas you’d like to share with us, please contact us at


Report Parameters

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Waterford globe in Oosterdam atrium

Reporting Scope

Information shared in this report is representative of our global operations as illustrated in the 2012 snapshot.

In 2010, we made a commitment to expand our transparency by publicly disclosing the environmental, social and governance performance of our Company, using the internationally recognized Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Framework.

We work closely with all other operating lines under Carnival Corporation & plc. Together with key stakeholders we address sustainability issues in the cruise industry, in the broader maritime industry and with companies in other industries.

This Sustainability Report covers and prioritizes information on the basis of materiality, sustainability context and stakeholder inclusiveness. It includes entities that meet the criteria of being subject to Holland America Line’s operational control. The information in this Sustainability Report includes significant actions or events in the reporting period, and it does not intentionally exclude relevant information that would influence or inform stakeholder assessments or decisions, or that would reflect significant economic, environmental or social impacts.

As greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions represent one of our main operational impacts, we include purchases of shipboard and shoreside energy (fuel and electricity).

There are no changes from last year’s reporting period in the scope, boundary or measurement methods applied in the Sustainability Report for the economic and social indicators. Even though we have increased the size of our fleet, we have normalized the majority of our indicators to take into account this growth, as well as changes in itineraries and guest capacity.

This report addresses Holland America’s commitment to the safety, security and health of our passengers; the sustainability of our natural environment; the vibrancy of the communities where we do business; and the well-being of our workforce. It specifically focuses on fiscal years 2010–2012 (December 1, 2009–November 30, 2012) unless otherwise noted.

All references to currency are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted.

We used the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) G3.1 Guidelines as a framework for this report. We’ve shared performance information related to 74 indicators that we selected in collaboration with our parent company, Carnival Corporation & plc. View our GRI index.

Reporting History & Cadence

Our first corporate responsibility report, which focused on fiscal years 2007 to 2009 (December 1, 2006–November 30, 2009), was released in 2010.

Beginning with 2013 our goal is to report on our corporate responsibility performance on an annual basis.

Information Integrity

Information provided in this report was compiled in management systems, extracted from databases and verified by Holland America Line management for accuracy. We believe this information fairly represents our corporate responsibility activities and performance results for the reporting period. Data in this report has not been independently verified.

Throughout the report we’ve included links to helpful information that is available on Holland America Line and Carnival Corporation & plc websites, as well as third-party websites.


In this report we attempted to avoid the use of industry jargon and provide definitions for terms that aren’t commonly used outside of our industry. Select definitions can be found in the glossary.

GRI Index

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G3.1 Performance Disclosures & Indicators

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half circle Half Circle: Partially Reported
empty circle Empty Circle: No Information Available

Standard Disclosures Part I: Profile Disclosures

Information Reported (2012)


Strategy and Analysis (1)


Statement from the senior decision-maker of the organization

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Leadership Memo


Description of key impacts, risks and opportunities

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About Holland America Line

Organizational Profile (2)


Name of the organization

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About Holland America Line


Primary brands, products, and/or services

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About Holland America Line


Operational structure of the organization, including main divisions, operating companies, subsidiaries, and joint ventures

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About Holland America Line


Location of organization's headquarters

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Our Company Profile


Number of countries where the organization operates, and names of countries with either major operations or that are specifically relevant to the sustainability issues covered in the report

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Company Snapshot


Nature of ownership and legal form

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Carnival Corporation & plc Investor Relations


Markets served

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Leadership Memo


Scale of the reporting organization

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Employees: Workforce Snapshot


Significant changes during the reporting period regarding size, structure, or ownership

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About Holland America Line


Awards received in the reporting period

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Awards page

Report Parameters (3)


Reporting period

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Report Parameters


Date of most recent previous report

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Report Parameters


Reporting cycle

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Report Parameters


Contact point for questions regarding the report or its contents

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About Holland America Line


Process for defining report content

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Report Parameters


Boundary of the report

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Report Parameters


State any specific limitations on the scope or boundary of the report

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Report Parameters


Basis for reporting on joint ventures, subsidiaries, leased facilities, outsourced operations, and other entities that can significantly affect comparability from period to period and/or between organizations

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About Holland America Line


Data measurement techniques and the bases of calculations, including assumptions and techniques underlying estimations applied to the compilation of the Indicators and other information in the report. Explain any decisions not to apply, or to substantially diverge from, the GRI Indicator Protocols

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Report Parameters


Explanation of the effect of any re-statements of information provided in earlier reports, and the reasons for such re-statement

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Significant changes from previous reporting periods in the scope, boundary, or measurement methods applied in the report

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Table identifying the location of the Standard Disclosures in the report

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GRI Index


Policy and current practice with regard to seeking external assurance for the report

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Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (pages 59 – 60)

Governance, Commitments, and Engagement (4)


Governance structure of the organization, including committees under the highest governance body responsible for specific tasks, such as setting strategy or organizational oversight

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Carnival Corporation & plc Corporate Governance


Indicate whether the chair of the highest governance body is also an executive officer

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Executive TeamCarnival Corporation & plc Corporate Governance


For organizations that have a unitary board structure, state the number of members of the highest governance body that are independent and/or non-executive members

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Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (page 10)


Mechanisms for shareholders and employees to provide recommendations or direction to the highest governance body

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Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (page 10)


Linkage between compensation for members of the highest governance body, senior managers, and executives and the organization's performance

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Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (page 10)


Processes in place for the highest governance body to ensure conflicts of interest are avoided

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Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (page 10)


Process for determining the qualifications and expertise of the members of the highest governance body for guiding the organization's strategy on economic, environmental, and social topics

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Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (page 10)


Internally developed statements of mission or values, codes of conduct, and principles relevant to economic, environmental, and social performance and the status of their implementation

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Introduction; Mission & Values; Code of Conduct



Procedures of the highest governance body for overseeing the organization's identification and management of economic, environmental, and social performance, including relevant risks and opportunities, and adherence or compliance with internationally agreed standards, codes of conduct, and principles

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Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (page 10)



Processes for evaluating the highest governance body's own performance, particularly with respect to economic, environmental, and social performance

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Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (page 10)


Explanation of whether and how the precautionary approach or principle is addressed by the organization

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Report Parameters; Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (page 18)


Externally developed economic, environmental, and social charters, principles, or other initiatives to which the organization subscribes or endorses

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Regulatory Landscape; Safety, Security, & Health; Environment; Employees; Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (pages 11-16)


Memberships in associations and/or national/international advocacy organizations in which the organization: Has positions in governance bodies; Participates in projects or committees; Provides substantive funding beyond routine membership dues; or Views membership as strategic

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Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (pages 10-11)




List of stakeholder groups engaged by the organization

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Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (pages 8 & 10-11)


Basis for identification and selection of stakeholders with whom to engage

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Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (pages 8 & 10-11)


Approaches to stakeholder engagement, including frequency of engagement by type and by stakeholder group

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Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (pages 8 & 10-11)


Key topics and concerns that have been raised through stakeholder engagement, and how the organization has responded to those key topics and concerns, including through its reporting

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Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (pages 8 & 10-11)

Standard Disclosures Part III: Performance Indicators

Economic Performance


Direct economic value generated and distributed, including revenues, operating costs, employee compensation, donations and other community investments, retained earnings, and payments to capital providers and governments

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Community: Our Communities; Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (page 30)


Environmental Performance


Direct energy consumption by primary energy source

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Environment: Energy & Emissions


Indirect energy consumption by primary source

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Environment: Energy & Emissions


Initiatives to provide energy-efficient or renewable energy based products and services, and reductions in energy requirements as a result of these initiatives

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Environment: Energy & Emissions


Total water withdrawal by source

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Environment: Water


Habitats protected or restored

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Environment: Biodiversity


Total direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions by weight

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Environment: Energy & Emissions


Initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reductions achieved

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Environment: Energy & Emissions


Emissions of ozone-depleting substances by weight

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Environment: Energy & Emissions


NOx, SOx, and other significant air emissions by type and weight

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Environment: Energy & Emissions


Total water discharge by quality and destination

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Environment: Water


Total weight of waste by type and disposal method

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Environment: Solid Waste


Total number and volume of significant spills

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Environment: Water


Initiatives to mitigate environmental impacts of products and services, and extent of impact mitigation

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Environment: Biodiversity



Monetary value of significant fines and total number of non-monetary sanctions for non-compliance with environmental laws, and regulations

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Environment: Water


Social: Labor Practices and Decent Work


Total workforce by employment type, employment contract, and region

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Employees: Workforce Snapshot


Total number and rate of employee turnover by age group, gender, and region

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Employees: Retention


Percentage of employees covered by collective bargaining agreements

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Employees: Labor Relations & Fair Employment


Percentage of total workforce represented in formal joint management-worker health and safety committees that help monitor, and advise on occupational health and safety programs

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Safety, Security, & Health: Safety (Employee Training)




Rates of injury, occupational diseases, lost days, and absenteeism, and number of work-related fatalities by region

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Safety, Security, & Health: Safety (Employee Training)



Average hours of training per year per employee by employee category

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Employees: Training & Development


Percentage of employees receiving regular performance and career development reviews

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Employees: Recruitment & Retention

Social: Human Rights


Incidents of discrimination

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Employees: Labor Relations & Fair Employment; Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (page 50)



Operations identified in which the right to exercise freedom of association and collective bargaining may be at significant risk, and actions taken to support these rights

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Employees: Labor Relations & Fair Employment; Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (page 51)



Operations and significant suppliers identified as having significant risk for incidents of child labor

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Employees: Labor Relations & Fair Employment; Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (page 52)


Operations identified as having significant risk for incidents of forced or compulsory labor, and measures to contribute to the elimination of forced or compulsory labor

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Employees: Labor Relations & Fair Employment; Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (page 51)


Social: Society


Nature, scope, and effectiveness of any programs and practices that assess and manage the impacts of operations on communities, including entering, operating, and exiting

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Community: Our Communities


Percentage of employees trained in organization's anti-corruption policies and procedures

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Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (page 27)


Public policy positions and participation in public policy development and lobbying

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Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (page 34)


Monetary value of significant fines and total number of non-monetary sanctions for non-compliance with laws, and regulations

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Employees: Labor Relations & Fair Employment

Social: Product Responsibility


Life cycle stages in which health and safety impacts of products and services are assessed for improvement, and percentage of significant products and services categories subject to such procedures

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Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (page 22)


Total number of incidents of non-compliance with regulations and voluntary codes concerning health and safety impacts of products and services during their life cycle, by type of outcomes

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Safety, Security, & Health: Health


Practices related to customer satisfaction, including results of surveys measuring customer satisfaction

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Sustainability 2010-2012: Snapshots


Total number of substantiated complaints regarding breaches of customer privacy and losses of customer data

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Safety, Security, & Health: Security; Carnival Corporation & plc 2012 Sustainability Report (page 52)

Regulatory Landscape

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We adhere to all international, national and state regulations applicable to our vessel operations. At the highest level, our safety, security, health and environmental practices are based in international convention as established through the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).


IMO’s Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) specifies minimum standards for the construction, equipment and operation of ships. Under SOLAS, the International Safety Management (ISM) Code requires that all ships implement a safety management system (SMS), and the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code prescribes measures to enhance the security of ships and port facilities.

IMO also introduced the Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, more commonly known as MARPOL, to protect the maritime environment from pollution that is either accidental or the result of routine operations. IMO amended MARPOL in 2010, designating the North American Emission Control Area (ECA) to reduce emissions from ships. In compliance with ECA guidelines, we’ve invested in new initiatives that will help minimize our air quality impacts.

Other core international guidelines include IMO’s Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), which establishes consistent minimum requirements across borders, and ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006), which aims to protect seafarers’ rights and to secure economic interests through fair competition.

As a long-standing member of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), we adhere to a corresponding set of stringent standards that are designed to keep our guests and employees safe, secure and healthy while protecting the environment and providing an industry-leading workplace.

Our ships are registered in the Netherlands, giving the country ultimate authority and responsibility to enforce laws and regulations pertaining to our fleet operations. Additionally, governments in all of the port locations we visit have authority to inspect our ships, including the U.S. Coast Guard when our ships call on U.S. ports.

All ships that call on U.S. ports are also subject to the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA), which was passed into law in 2010. We undertook significant efforts to meet CVSSA requirements.

In collaboration with our parent company, Carnival Corporation & plc, we continue to develop and implement policies and procedures that exceed regulatory requirements. Further information about the maritime regulatory landscape can be found in the 2012 Carnival Corporation & plc sustainability report (table 4.1 on pages 11–16).


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Advanced Waste Water Purification Systems (AWWPS)
Onboard system for treating black water and gray water that uses filtration, biological digestion, ultrafiltration and ultraviolet light to remove constituents of concern from the wastewater prior to overboard discharge. These systems typically achieve a higher standard of treatment than municipal wastewater systems.

Available Lower Berth (ALB)
Total number of passenger beds available on a cruise ship, assuming two people occupy each stateroom.

Ballast Water
Seawater that is taken on board a ship to optimize propeller immersion, steering and vessel trim and draft.

Bilge Water
Water that collects in the lowest part of the ship from equipment washing and minor equipment leaks.

The variation, interdependence and health of life forms in a particular ecosystem.

Black Water
Wastewater containing fecal matter and urine, also known as sewage. Black water on cruise ships is collected from toilets, urinals and medical sinks.

Bunkered Water
Potable water that is purchased from a municipal system at a port and stored on board in tanks.

Career Roadmap
Holland America's performance appraisal and management system which illustrates key education and skill sets required for each position.

Carnival Corporation & plc
The world's largest cruise operator, comprising 10 cruise brands including Holland America Line. Carnival has headquarters in Carnival Place in Doral, Fla., and in Southampton, England.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
A volatile organic compound that contains carbon, chlorine and fluorine and is typically used in refrigerants. Such compounds are being phased out because they contribute to ozone depletion.

A measure describing the relative global warming potential of various greenhouse gases (GHGs). It is used to create a total GHG footprint and compare emissions from different sources.

Water that is collected from the condensation on our air conditioning units. Condensate is used as "technical water," primarily for cleaning purposes.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)
A trade association that advocates industry positions to key domestic and international regulatory organizations, policymakers and other industry partners; actively monitors international shipping policy; and develops recommendations to its membership on a wide variety of issues. Holland America Line is a CLIA member.

Environmental Aspect
Anything from an operation that interacts with the environment.

Environmental Impact
Refers to how an environmental aspect may affect the environment.

Environmental Management System (EMS)
Our ISO 14001 certified system that provides our ships with global policies and procedures that apply on the high seas and in all of the ports upon which we call, ensuring a set of standards that meets the most stringent international regulations and ensures that we efficiently manage our environmental aspects.

The amount of environmental impact related to a specific resource.

Kitchens and other areas for food preparation on a ship.

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
The world's most widely used standard for sustainability reporting. The GRI seeks to make sustainability reporting by all organizations as routine as, and comparable to, financial reporting.

Gray Water
Wastewater that is generated from activities such as laundry, dishwashing and bathing.

Guest Satisfaction Survey (GSS)
A survey we ask our guests to submit one day prior to the end of each voyage. Guests rank their experience based on a range of factors including services, facilities, food and beverages, entertainment and excursions.

Heating, Ventilation and Cooling (HVAC) System
The technology of indoor environmental climate control.

Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO)
Blended oil used in our engines and made from the residues of various refinery distillation and cracking processes.

Function of our marine hotel department that cleans and refreshes staterooms and public spaces on our ships.

The watertight external shell of a ship.

Incinerator Ash
What remains after we burn select solid waste in our onboard incinerators.

A metric used to identify impacts from specific aspects of operations.

International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO)
An association whose primary goal is to promote safe and environmentally responsible travel in Antarctica.

International Labor Organization (ILO)
The United Nations' specialized agency that seeks the promotion of social justice and internationally recognized human and labor rights.

International Maritime Organization (IMO)
The United Nations' specialized agency responsible for improving maritime safety and preventing pollution from ships.

International Safety Management Code (ISM)
An international standard for the safe management and operation of ships and the prevention of pollution.

International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code
A part of SOLAS that prescribes responsibilities of governments, shipping companies, shipboard personnel and port/facility personnel to "detect security threats and take preventative measures against security incidents affecting ships or port facilities used in international trade."

ISO 14001
Global standards for environmental management systems developed by the International Organization for Standardization.

Learning Management System (LMS)
Our computer-based-training delivery system that delivers identical training across our fleet and enables real-time recordkeeping.

Lloyd's Register (LR)
Our classification society. LR establishes and maintains rules for the construction and maintenance of our ships.

Marine Sanitation Devices (MSDs)
Traditionally, MSDs employ filtration, maceration and chlorination technologies to treat black water. Black water treated through a traditional MSD (as opposed to an AWWPS) is discharged from the ship when it is more than 12 nautical miles from land and travelling at a speed greater than six knots.

Short for "Marine Pollution" and also known as the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, MARPOL was designed to minimize pollution of the seas from solid waste, oil and exhaust. It is one of the most important international marine environmental conventions.

Indicates the importance or significance of an amount or discrepancy.

MLC, 2006
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has adopted the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006). A Maritime Labour Certificate (MLC) and a Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance (DMLC) are required to ensure compliance with the Convention for all ships above 500 tons in international trade.

No Discharge Zone
A marine sanctuary classified by a government agency where no waste or wastewater is released from the ship.

Oxides of nitrogen are a family of gases released from the combustion of fuel.

Ozone Depleting Potential (ODP)
The relative potential of various gases to deplete the ozone in our atmosphere.

Passenger Berth Day (PBD)
Each day that a passenger occupies a berth on our ship.

Personnel Excellence Program
A comprehensive approach to enriching every aspect of our shipboard employees' lives including health, personal development, finances, recreation, entertainment, spirituality, community support and commuting.

Produced Water
Water that is created from our onboard evaporation equipment.

Gases that are used in our air-conditioning and refrigeration systems on board.

Safety Management System (SMS)
Our ISM code-certified system that informs our employees how to perform their duties in accordance with all safety and environmental laws.

Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention
The most important international treaty protecting the safety of merchant ships.

Solid Waste
All used and discarded material produced on board by guests or ship operations. This includes solid waste disposed ashore, waste recycled ashore, materials that are incinerated on board, food waste and ground glass disposed at sea, and hazardous waste disposed and/or recycled ashore.

Oxides of sulfur are a family of gases released from the combustion of fuel that contains sulfur. The quantity of oxides of sulfur is proportional to the quantity of sulfur in the fuel.

A person, group, organization or system that affects or can be affected by our organization's actions.

The 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), which established qualification standards for masters, officers and watch personnel on seagoing merchant ships.

The degree to which a substance can cause damage to an exposed organism.

The rate at which an organization gains and loses staff.

Safety, Security & Health

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At Holland America Line we have a great responsibility to safeguard the well-being of our guests and crew members. Ongoing training and adherence to rigorous standards are vital components of our safety, security and health strategies. As is the case in all areas of our operations, we closely monitor our performance and continuously strive for improvement, aiming to exceed regulatory requirements. In collaboration with our parent company, Carnival Corporation & plc, we update our policies and procedures on an ongoing basis to leverage new insights and innovations. We also share best practices among our shipboard and shoreside employees, our peers and other stakeholders to strengthen the impact of our efforts.

Learn about our regulatory landscape.


officer searching the horizon


door handle and lock


couple walking on deck


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Holland America employees at work

We’re proud to maintain an excellent safety record. Our dedication to safety applies to all areas of our operations, from ship design and maintenance to employee training programs and emergency preparedness efforts.

Management System

The Holland America Line Safety Management System (SMS) is core to our company operations. It goes beyond the requirements of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code to address broader considerations such as workplace safety, resource conservation and our commitment to high quality and performance. It’s also subject to ongoing internal and external audits and inspections to ensure the effectiveness of our policies and procedures.

We’re currently in the process of adapting our SMS to align with a comprehensive management system formalized by Carnival Corporation & plc in 2012. This system, known internally as our Health, Environment, Safety and Security (HESS) management system, aims to ensure the consistent application of best practices across all corporate lines. As the HESS system evolves, the Holland America Line SMS will be updated accordingly.

Ship Design

construction of the ms Nieuw Amsterdam

Lloyd’s Register, our maritime classification society, establishes and maintains guidelines for the construction and maintenance of our ships. The organization also audits our ships on a periodic basis to verify that quality standards are met.

To ensure structural integrity, our ships have double tanks and a cofferdam and are constructed with a collision bulkhead near the bow. Subdivided into multiple watertight compartments, our ships can sustain flooding in up to two adjacent compartments and still remain afloat.

Our ships are equipped with automated fire detection and suppression systems in all staterooms, galleys, control rooms, mooring decks and public areas. Galley exhaust, water mist and CO2 suppression systems on our ships are specially designed to isolate, contain and extinguish fires. We continue to invest in our fire safety systems, leveraging proven technologies such as infrared detectors and infrared handheld cameras.

Additionally, advanced navigational, weather monitoring and communication technologies are critical components of our ship design. For example, in the event of inclement weather, our ship performance optimization system enables the captain to adjust route calculations based on forecast information and the ship’s specific characteristics. We’ve also invested in a fleet-wide satellite phone system to ensure constant global coverage.

Employee Training

Accident prevention at Holland America Line is built on a solid workplace safety program that uses job hazard analyses and toolbox discussions to evaluate and manage risk. We foster a strong safety culture that allows our officers and crew members to learn from accidents when they do occur, reducing the likelihood of recurrences.


Our uncompromising commitment to safety is reflected throughout our training and development programs. Shaped in accordance with the Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), these programs also address emergency preparedness, security, health and sanitation, ethics, company policies and procedures, regulatory requirements and job-specific skills. In addition, our employee-led Safety Committee is focused on sharing best practices to drive continuous improvement. For more information view the Employee Training & Development section.

A significant portion of our employee training program content is dedicated to the prevention of shipboard accidents. Any injury sustained by a shipboard employee or contractor must be reported according to our guidelines, whether it occurs during working or rest hours, on board the ship or during shore excursions. In 2012 a total of 79 incidents were reported among our shipboard employees, impacting less than 1 percent of our workforce. We continue to strive for improvement in this area, and we won’t be satisfied until incidents are reduced to zero.

Emergency Preparedness

life jacket demonstration

Our contingency plans are designed to handle shipboard emergencies with immediate and effective support. In case of an actual emergency, our ships are equipped with life jackets, lifeboats and emergency supplies for every guest and every crew member on board. And all of our ships are equipped with emergency location lighting and broadcast communication equipment, including the Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS).

Since 2010 we’ve implemented mandatory shipboard safety briefings for all of our guests. Upon boarding our ships, guests also receive written safety instructions in their preferred language. If more than 30 percent of our guests primarily speak a language other than English, we conduct the live safety briefings in multiple languages.


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As is the case with our safety programs, we’ve developed security standards that go beyond regulatory requirements to protect our guests and employees.

screening luggage

Shipboard Security Teams

Our ships are staffed with dedicated security teams responsible for managing systems and enforcing policies around the clock. Led by officers who have extensive experience in law enforcement and maritime security as well as specialized training in investigations and emergency planning, our shipboard security teams are fully certified in accordance with the provisions of STCW, the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA), the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code and the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA).

In addition to the specialized training we provide for security teams, we require each and every shipboard employee to participate in security training in accordance with the provisions of STCW and ISPS. We also conduct regular security drills and exercises in coordination with government agencies.

Technology & Tools

We regularly upgrade our shipboard screening and surveillance systems to leverage technology advancements. These systems enable us to effectively monitor and control ship access and screen both passengers and luggage.

We also ensure all ships are equipped with the necessary tools for internal and external communication in the event of a security incident.


We respect the privacy of our guests and crew, and we have implemented policies and procedures designed to safeguard their personal information. Holland America Line is compliant with U.S. and European Union requirements, including standards for protecting information relating to the acceptance of credit and debit cards for payment. We also take steps to assure the privacy of our website users. Our website privacy policy discloses how we collect, protect, use and share information gathered on our website.


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Our public health program is built around worldwide public health and sanitation regulations and best practices. The program and its implementation are monitored internally by public health specialists and externally by national and port health authorities.

For example, in the U.S. we voluntarily work with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which oversees health and sanitation conditions on all passenger vessels visiting U.S. ports. The CDC provides guidelines, reviews plans and conducts on-site inspections during all new ship builds or renovations. We continue to work with the CDC throughout a ship’s life, maintaining regular inspections and conducting employee training and guest education. In addition, our employee-led Health and Sanitation Committee is focused on sharing best practices to drive continuous improvement.

Vessel Sanitation

All Holland America Line ships that call on U.S. ports voluntarily participate in unannounced, twice-yearly inspections by the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP), which aims to prevent and control the introduction, transmission and spread of illnesses on cruise ships. Areas of inspection include medical facilities, potable water systems, swimming pools and whirlpool spas, galleys and dining rooms, child activity centers, hotel accommodations, ventilation systems and common spaces. In order to pass inspections, ships must score a minimum of 86 out of 100 points.


From 2010 to 2012 our ships participated in a total of 85 inspections, with 14 scoring 100 points, 70 scoring 86–99 points, and one scoring less than 86 points. If a ship receives a less than satisfactory score, we take immediate corrective actions.

We proactively share our experience and knowledge in this area by contributing to the CDC’s periodic VSP operations manual updates, the most recent of which was released in 2011. Whereas VSP is voluntary and focused on ships that call on U.S. ports, similar inspections by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) are required by law for all ships that call on Canadian ports. Additionally, our ships may be inspected by health agencies in any of the countries we visit outside of North America.

Food Sourcing

kiwi fruit

Whenever possible, we source food supplies in accordance with ISO 22000, the International Organization for Standardization’s guidelines for food safety, and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), a preventative approach to food safety hazards. To ensure the freshness of fruits, vegetables and other perishables, in some cases we’re required to purchase food supplies in regions that are not covered by these standards.

Hand Washing Pilot

To assist with prevention and control of the spread of common viruses onboard, in 2010 we introduced a new hand washing pilot program. This began on the ms Veendam with the addition of easy-access hand washing stations. Since the installation was completed in 2011, acute gastrointestinal illness cases have decreased by 44 percent. Based on the success of this pilot project, we retrofitted a second ship, the ms Zaandam, in 2013. We are considering the expansion of this program to the remaining fleet.


We believe education is one of the most important components of illness prevention on our ships. From the first day guests and crew members arrive on board, we provide guidance on hand washing, food and water consumption and other health measures as part of mandatory preparedness drills. We also provide health information in our guests’ staterooms via television programming and special notices delivered prior to visiting ports of call where there is increased risk for contracting an illness. Additionally, we offer guests easy access to a hand sanitizing product that has been specially formulated to combat norovirus. In the event that guests or crew members require medical attention, they are asked to remain in their staterooms and we have trained personnel present on all of our ships to assist.


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At Holland America Line we're deeply committed to sustainability. It's our duty as a corporate citizen to manage our environmental impacts, and it's one of the most important actions we can take to ensure our business and our industry will continue to thrive in the years to come. We're partnering with our employees, suppliers, peers and other stakeholders across our value chain to develop innovative solutions and share best practices that will enable us to collectively conserve energy and water, reduce waste and atmospheric emissions, and protect biodiversity.

Management System


Energy & Emissions

engine room



Solid Waste

sorting solid waste


penguins in Antarctica

Management System

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Venice adventures with Holland America Line

We manage the environmental aspects of our operations through our Environmental Management System (EMS), which was re-certified under the ISO 14001 standard by Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance in 2012.

As is the case with our Safety Management System, we’re in the process of adapting our EMS to align with a comprehensive management system being formalized by our parent company, Carnival Corporation & plc. This system, known internally as the Health, Environment, Safety and Security (HESS)-Management System, aims to ensure the consistent application of best practices across all corporate lines. As HESS evolves, the Holland America Line EMS will be updated accordingly.

We’re working to integrate sustainability into all areas of our business, with a strategic focus on optimizing current operations to maximize efficiency; exploring new ideas and technology to improve performance; and strengthening our data collection, analysis, and management processes.

We established the following environmental goals for 2012:

adventures with Holland America Line

2012 Target Against 2011 Performance

2012 Performance

Reduce fuel consumption by 2 percent

Achieved 4 percent reduction

Reduce refrigerant releases by 10 percent

Achieved 9 percent reduction

Reduce water consumption by 5 percent

Achieved 0.1 percent reduction

Increase recycling by 5 percent

Achieved 55 percent increase

Holland America ship transiting the Panama Canal

All of our shipboard employees have environmental responsibilities woven into their duties. They receive environmental training during their first day on board and are supported on an ongoing basis by our shoreside employees who develop policies and procedures and facilitate communication across the fleet. In addition, each ship in our fleet has a full-time Safety, Environment & Health Officer who oversees environmental compliance and implementation of procedures. Officers report to ship captains and have a direct line of communication to our shoreside environmental management team. Despite the many miles that separate our employees, we share common goals and embrace opportunities for continuous improvement.

In 2010 we were named the World’s Leading Green Cruise Line by the World Travel Awards and the Marine Environmental Business of the Year by the Port of Seattle. In 2012 we received our second Rear Admiral William M. Benkert Gold Environmental Protection Award from the U.S. Coast Guard. See our full list of awards received from 2010 to 2012.


We adhere to the applicable local, national and international environmental laws and regulations of the jurisdictions under which our ships sail. At the highest level, our environmental practices comply with the requirements of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships — also known as MARPOL — establishes regulations to protect the maritime environment from pollution that is either accidental or the result of routine operations.

In 2010 the IMO amended MARPOL to implement the North American Emission Control Area (ECA), which is intended to reduce emissions from ships traveling in the region. This ECA extends up to 200 nautical miles from the coasts of the U.S., Canada and the French territories. As a result, we’re investing in new, cost-effective technology to reduce our emissions of sulfur oxides and particulate matter. Over the next three years we’ll collaborate with our Carnival Corporation & plc peers to develop and deploy an exhaust gas cleaning system with the potential to exceed ECA fuel sulfur standards at a lower cost than switching to low sulfur fuel.

Learn about our regulatory landscape.

Energy & Emissions

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orcas swimming

Responsible energy management is an important component of our sustainability strategy – it's one of the most powerful levers we have to reduce our environmental footprint while supporting the bottom line. We're making progress in this area by ensuring our ships are designed and operated as efficiently as possible while identifying opportunities to reduce emissions through the use of cleaner energy sources.

Direct Energy – Fuel Use

We strive to save fuel — our primary source of direct energy — by selecting itineraries that allow optimum ship speed, maintaining equipment in accordance with manufacturers' specifications, circulating monthly fuel use data to support awareness across ships, and sharing best practices.

Our ships are propelled by diesel electric plants, which are inherently more efficient than traditional marine propulsion systems because we can optimize the load on our diesel electric generators between propulsion and other operational needs. A majority of the electricity we generate on board our ships is used to operate our propulsion system, while the remainder is used to power our lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems.

In 2012 our 15-ship fleet used more than 451,200 metric tonnes of fuel, generating over 18 million gigajoules of energy. While our total ship fuel consumption remained relatively steady from 2010 to 2012, our ship fuel consumption rate — normalized for ship capacity and distance travelled — declined over the same period. As a result of our successful fuel efficiency initiatives, we exceeded our 2012 goal of achieving a 2 percent reduction in fuel use against 2011 performance. Because fuel is our main energy source, our direct energy consumption performance patterns directly correlate.


We use high sulfur fuel oil (HSFO), low sulfur fuel oil (LSFO) and marine gas oil (MGO) to power our ships. LSFO and MGO generate lower levels of sulfur oxide emissions, and we use them in emission control areas as required. In 2012, 27 percent of the fuel we used was LSFO or MGO. The remaining 73 percent was HSFO.


The emissions generated by Holland America's operations derive primarily from fuel burned by ships. These emissions include greenhouse gases, nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter (PM).

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions

Recognizing that GHG emissions are a significant threat to our industry, Carnival Corporation & plc set a collective target for Holland America Line and our sister cruise lines to reduce, by 2015, the intensity of emissions from shipboard operations by 20 percent against 2005 performance. As of 2012, the corporation’s GHG emission rate has been cut by 16.7 percent, putting us on track to achieve the goal. (Carnival Corporation & plc Sustainability Report Fiscal Year 2012 page 38)

In 2012 Holland America's operations generated emissions equivalent to nearly 1.5 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide. A vast majority were direct GHG emissions from our ships' fuel consumption. Our indirect emissions were generated by purchased electricity for our offices and our ships that have the capacity to use electrical power.


As a result of our ship fuel efficiency strategies, from 2010 to 2012 we successfully reduced the corresponding GHG emission rate, which is normalized for ship capacity and distance travelled. During the same period we also reduced our emission rates for nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and particulate matter.


Refrigerant Releases

Our ships are equipped with cooling systems to preserve food and keep our guests comfortable. These systems use refrigerant gases which can damage the earth's ozone layer. In recent years we've improved our systems to minimize inadvertent refrigerant gas releases into the environment. We're also increasingly using refrigerants with zero-ozone depleting potential (ODP) and lower global warming potential (GWP). Today all of our Vista- and Signature-class ships, which account for one-third of our fleet, use zero-ODP refrigerants.

In 2012 our goal was to achieve a 10 percent reduction in ship refrigerant releases against 2011 performance. While we fell just short of this target, achieving a 9 percent reduction, we made progress in optimizing procedures for leak detection and system maintenance and also increased our use of zero-ODP refrigerants.


Indirect Energy – Electricity Purchases

We purchase electricity for our office use and for ships that have the capacity to use electrical power at ports in Seattle, Wash.; San Diego, Calif.; and Vancouver, B.C. In Seattle and Vancouver electrical energy is generated by hydropower, which produces almost zero emissions of conventional pollutants or greenhouse gases.

In 2012 we purchased approximately 11,800 megawatt-hours of electricity for our offices and fleet. This represents a reduction in office-purchased electricity as well as an increase in ship-purchased electricity against 2010 and 2011 performance. By increasing ship-purchased electricity we reduce ship fuel consumption.


Our indirect greenhouse gas emissions account for a small portion of our overall emissions. View data for our indirect greenhouse gas emissions..


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surfer inside waves

Fresh water is vital to our shipboard operations. It allows passengers to bathe and stay hydrated, and it’s used to prepare food, sanitize kitchen tools and surfaces, wash linens and clothes and clean engine room equipment as well as staterooms and public areas.

Sources & Use

Our fresh water comes from three different sources: produced water (seawater that is either evaporated and re-condensed or produced by a reverse osmosis plant and treated with minerals and chlorine); bunkered water, which is purchased from port communities and stored in designated potable water holding tanks; and condensate, which on some ships is collected from our air conditioning units and used for technical cleaning purposes. We bunker water from ports where we know water is plentiful, high in quality and costs less than the fuel needed to produce water on board.

In 2012 our fleet used nearly 3 million metric tonnes of water. Seventy-four percent was produced on board our ships and 26 percent was bunkered. Because the quantity of condensate generated can’t be measured for all ships in the fleet, it is not reflected in our data.


In 2012 our operations used 246 liters of water per person per day. While this amount is 28 percent less than the 341 liters used per person per day in the average U.S. household, it represents an increase in our water consumption rate against 2010 and 2011 performance.

We fell short of our 2012 goal to reduce water consumption by 5 percent against 2011 performance; however, we continue to strive for improvement by leveraging water-saving technologies and educating our guests and crew members about conservation.

Wastewater from Ships

All water that is produced or loaded onto our ships is used for its intended purpose and then discharged in accordance with local, national and international laws and regulations. An overview of our wastewater management practices, which meet or exceed our legal obligations, is provided below.


Gray water is wastewater from cabin sinks and showers, galleys, salons and laundry facilities. It represents the largest volume of wastewater generated on our ships and may be treated or untreated prior to discharge, depending upon ship capabilities and in full compliance with applicable legal restrictions. In 2012 untreated gray water accounted for 52 percent (approximately 1.6 million metric tonnes) of all wastewater discharged from our fleet. While our total gray water discharges increased slightly from 2011 to 2012, the discharge rate — liters generated per person per day — remained relatively consistent.


Black water is waste from toilets and medical facility sinks. Twelve of our 15 ships are equipped with advanced wastewater purification systems that treat black and gray water. These systems use primary filtration, biodigestion, ultrafiltration and ultraviolet light technology to produce a discharge — called permeate — that is superior in quality to effluent discharged from municipal wastewater treatment plants in most communities. In 2012 permeate accounted for 40 percent (approximately 1.2 million metric tonnes) of all wastewater discharged from our fleet.

On our three ships that are not equipped with advanced wastewater purification systems, black water is treated with marine sanitation devices which have maceration and chlorination capabilities. In 2012, black water treated with these devices accounted for 2 percent (approximately 74,000 metric tonnes) of all wastewater discharged from our fleet.


On occasion, as a result of equipment malfunction or storage limitations, a ship may need to discharge untreated black water directly overboard where legally permitted to do so (outside 12 miles from shore traveling at a rate in excess of four knots and not within any protected areas). Except in the case of emergency, our policy requires a ship to first obtain permission of shoreside management before proceeding with a discharge of untreated black water. Such discharges are prescreened to remove plastics and other similar solids.

Partially-treated organic waste — a byproduct of advanced wastewater purification systems and marine sanitation devices — accounted for 4 percent (approximately 136,600 metric tonnes) of all wastewater discharged from our fleet in 2012. This represents an increase in our partially-treated organic waste discharges since 2011; however, it remains an improvement against 2010 performance.


Bilge water is wastewater collected in the lower part of the ship that contains oils from equipment in engine compartments. To treat bilge water we use a cascade system, which circulates and recirculates fluid through increasingly efficient oil-water separators until the oil content is reduced to below 15 parts per million. In 2012, treated bilge water accounted for 1 percent (approximately 37,700 metric tonnes) of all wastewater discharged from our fleet. Our bilge water discharges decreased between 2010 and 2012 as our employees improved maintenance practices and minimized leaks.


Learn about our efforts to responsibly manage ballast water.

Accidental Releases


We work hard to protect water quality and prevent accidental spills. When spills occur, they most often contain water, fuel, hydraulic fluid or lubricating oil. These materials are necessary for the operation of shipboard mechanical systems, which are inspected, monitored and maintained by our employees. If leaks occur as a result of mechanical wear and tear, they typically range from a few drops to a few pints or liters. Our crews are required to report any incident in which a sheen is observed on seawater. From 2010 to 2012 we experienced 13 reportable spills which amounted to a total of 62 liters.

From 2010 to 2012 we received one non-monetary sanction and fines totaling approximately $48,000 for non-compliance with environmental laws and regulations related to accidental releases. The sanction and fines received during this period were incurred prior to 2010.

Solid Waste

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destination snapshots

In 2012 our fleet generated nearly 73,300 metric tonnes of solid waste — the equivalent of approximately 6 kilograms per person per day. While our total solid waste generation has increased since 2010, our rate of waste generation on a per-person, per-day basis remains an improvement over 2010 performance.

EN 22 – WASTE BY TYPE AND DISPOSAL METHOD 2012 (metric tonnes)

Of the solid waste generated by our fleet in 2012, less than 1 percent was considered hazardous waste, classifying Holland America Line as a small-quantity hazardous waste generator under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.

Our waste management approach focuses on reducing the volume and toxicity of waste we generate. Whenever possible, we reuse existing materials and equipment, and we recycle where recycling infrastructure is available at our ports of call. We collaborate with stakeholders across our value chain to advance these efforts, encouraging suppliers to reduce packaging, donating reusable goods from our ships to nonprofit organizations, and working with port authorities to identify additional vendors who are capable of recycling cruise ship waste.

Solid waste generated by our shipboard operations is recycled or disposed of on shore, incinerated on board or discharged to sea. Recyclable materials are separated from trash and collected on all of the ships in our fleet.

In 2012 our goal was to increase recycling by 5 percent over 2011 performance. Our shipboard employees exceeded expectations and increased recycling by 40 percent.

When recycling services aren’t available, we incinerate solid waste on board our ships or dispose of it at landfills in port communities. Shipboard incinerators substantially reduce the volume of combustible materials such as paper and cardboard, transforming them into non-hazardous waste in the form of ash. In 2012 we incinerated 29 percent (nearly 21,000 metric tonnes) of our solid waste on board our ships and disposed of 21 percent (nearly 15,500 metric tonnes) at landfills on shore.

In 2012 the only solid waste discharged to sea from our ships was food waste, which accounted for 18 percent of our total solid waste.

One of the ways we work to reduce food waste and control costs on board our ships is by optimizing a meal count system installed across our entire fleet in 2009. This system provides a constant, real-time snapshot of meal quantities ordered, prepared and awaiting preparation. It also documents historical consumption patterns, allowing us to better predict the amount of food needed for future voyages.


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As an extension of our commitment to sustainability, we strive to protect the earth's biodiversity by minimizing water and air pollution, responsibly disposing of solid waste and effectively managing our environmental impacts. Below are a few examples of our other major initiatives to protect biodiversity.

orcas swimming in a pod

Ballast Water

One of our greatest potential impacts on biodiversity is the risk of introducing invasive species when discharging ballast water. Ballast water is seawater that is pumped into dedicated tanks on a ship to provide weight — or ballast — at the bottom of the ship, enhancing stability. Our practice is to hold all ballast water while in port. If a discharge is required, ballast water from one location is exchanged in deep waters prior to arriving in another location to avoid the transfer of non-indigenous species between two different marine environments. We record and report all ballast water activity as required by local, national and international laws and regulations.

Learn about our efforts to responsibly manage other wastewater discharges.

seafood dinner

Sustainable Seafood

In 2010 we partnered with the Marine Conservation Institute (MCI) to develop Our Marvelous Oceans, a three-year program designed to promote sustainable use of the world's oceans through research, guest and employee education, and the adoption of sustainable seafood purchasing practices. We launched our sustainable seafood program in 2011 with cruises in Alaska and Europe and have since extended it to our entire fleet. As of 2012, 100 percent of the seafood served on board our ships was classified as sustainable by MCI.

Marine Mammal Protection

Marine mammal strikes are rare, and we have comprehensive policies and processes in place to avoid these incidents. We monitor the feeding and migration patterns of marine mammals and have clear requirements to follow if they're sighted nearby, including altering the ship's course, reducing speed, utilizing additional bridge lookouts and notifying appropriate authorities and shoreside personnel. In 2006 we developed a whale protection program in conjunction with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that trains navigators to identify different whale species and predict their behaviors in order to avoid collisions with ships. This program has been licensed to the U.S. government and is used across the shipping industry.

Half Moon Cay

Half Moon Cay

One of the most unique and memorable experiences we offer our guests is the opportunity to visit Half Moon Cay, a private island in the Bahamas that we purchased in 1996. We've collaborated with the Bahamian government to develop the island in accordance with the guidelines of the Business Charter for Sustainable Development, which was established by the International Chamber of Commerce. Today only 4 percent of Half Moon Cay is developed, and much of the island remains a migratory bird reserve.


penguin on ice

From 2010 to 2012 we offered a total of nine voyages to the far reaches of the globe in Antarctica. These voyages are regulated under the International Antarctic Treaty and U.S. laws that govern our actions. As a member of the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO), which was formed to promote safe and environmentally responsible travel to Antarctica, we support and follow stricter requirements than those stipulated by international treaties. We strive to protect the natural landscape through safe operating procedures, quality education and adherence to marine wildlife-watching guidelines. We also limit our time in Antarctica to 80 hours or less on each voyage to minimize our impacts on this pristine region.


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At Holland America Line we’re working to cultivate thriving communities around the world. This stems from our commitment to doing business responsibly — a commitment we view as critical to the longevity of our company and our industry. With every decision we make, we’re mindful of our potential to positively impact the social, economic and environmental health of the communities where we operate. Our robust corporate giving and volunteerism programs help drive meaningful change by supporting the efforts of nonprofit organizations and by harnessing the passion and generosity of our guests and employees.

Our Communities

Our Communities

Giving & Volunteerism

View Giving & Volunteerism section

Our Communities

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Port Communities

ship in Turkey

In 2012 our ships visited more than 360 ports and visited all seven continents. We explore potential new ports of call on an ongoing basis as we strive to create once-in-a-lifetime experiences for our guests. Each year we receive dozens of requests from potential ports which are subject to a rigorous review process. We typically select up to 10 new ports per year based on a set of criteria that includes geography, infrastructure, guest appeal and other factors. When new ports are selected, we work closely with port authorities, tour operators and other community stakeholders to ensure alignment and build lasting relationships.

We visit ports of call with varying frequency and adjust itineraries based on consumer demand and our ability to ensure the safety, security and health of our guests and employees. Due to political and economic volatility in parts of Europe and the Middle East, we shifted planned itineraries for several of our voyages between 2010 and 2012.

One of the most significant ways our business can make a positive impact in port communities is by creating jobs in the tourism industry. In 2012 our ships carried more than 861,000 guests to developed and emerging destinations, supporting demand for hotels, taxicabs, restaurants, shopping and entertainment. In the same year, the average amount spent per guest during a port of call visit in the United States was approximately $124, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) (page 44).

We recognize that in order to be truly valuable, the economic benefits we provide port communities must be accompanied by measures to protect the environment. Our shipboard and shoreside environmental priorities are to conserve energy and water, reduce carbon emissions and waste, and protect biodiversity. In 2010 we were named the World’s Leading Green Cruise Line by the World Travel Awards as well as the Marine Environmental Business of the Year by the Port of Seattle. In the same year we received the Rear Admiral William M. Benkert Gold Environmental Protection Award from the U.S. Coast Guard. Learn more about our environmental initiatives.

Half Moon Cay

One of the most unique and memorable experiences we offer our guests is the opportunity to visit Half Moon Cay, a private island in the Bahamas that we purchased in 1996. In collaboration with the Bahamian government, we’ve since developed only 4 percent of the island, carefully maintaining the natural environment while allowing adequate capacity for our guests and making a significant contribution to the Bahamian tourism industry. Since our purchase of Half Moon Cay, the island has generated $23 million in taxes for the Bahamian government.

limited development on Half Moon Cay

Giving & Volunteerism

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Between 2010 and 2012 we contributed $10.4 million in cash and in-kind donations to nonprofit organizations that support health and human services, the environment, arts and culture, and maritime causes.

Our nonprofit beneficiaries are selected based on the recommendations of our Corporate Giving Team, our Seattle Home Office Recreation Events (SHORE) committee and our Alaskan Community Advisory boards. Together these employee-driven work groups determine how our giving and volunteerism efforts can have the greatest possible impact.

Nonprofit Fundraising Opportunities

We recognize one of the benefits of our business model is that it enables us to offer nonprofit organizations creative and cost-efficient fundraising opportunities such as the following.

Reduced-fare Cruises

We’re able to play a meaningful role in nonprofit fundraising efforts by offering reduced-fare cruise certificates for charity events such as auctions and raffles. Between 2010 and 2012 we offered more than 1,700 reduced-fare cruises. In addition, we contributed 300 cruises at no cost to nonprofit organizations. Together, these activities provided a total value of $5.9 million to nonprofits.

In-kind Shipboard Events

Our in-kind shipboard event program is another unique initiative that enables nonprofit groups to utilize our ships as venues for fundraising, donor cultivation and volunteer recognition activities. Over the past three years we’ve held 80 shipboard events in five home port cities, hosting more than 13,500 guests and contributing over $1.3 million to important causes.

On Deck for the Cure®

On Deck for the Cure logo

Launched in 2006, our On Deck for the Cure program was the first of its kind in the cruise industry. In partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, this program engaged guests of all ages in supporting cancer research, education, screening and treatment. On all of our ships, guests were invited to join 5k walks around our decks for a minimum $15 donation. Over the past seven years we hosted nearly 350,000 guests who participated in over 3,000 On Deck for the Cure walks, raising $3.5 million in support of Komen’s mission to turn breast cancer patients into survivors.

In 2013 we expanded our efforts to help the fight against cancer with a new, international program called On Deck for a Cause®, which benefits cancer organizations in North America, Europe and Australia, where a majority of our guests live. Our partners include the American Cancer Society, the Canadian Cancer Society, Cancer Research UK, KWF Kankerbestrijding (Dutch Cancer Society), Deutsche Krebshilfe (German Cancer Aid) and Cancer Council Australia.

Pacific Northwest Efforts

HAL employees at United Way Day of Caring

We’re proud to be ranked among the top 25 corporate contributors to the United Way of King County. Our corporate donation match, fueled by the generosity of our employees, is able to help support the organization’s mission to bolster human services that strengthen the community. In 2012 our employees based in Seattle, Wash., participated in the United Way’s annual Day of Caring, the largest single day of volunteerism in Washington State. Our employees spent the day working at a local middle school where they painted, landscaped and helped update the school library.

Since 2008 we’ve worked closely with Northwest Harvest, Washington’s only statewide hunger relief agency, to help provide supplies to a network of food banks and meal programs. Over the past five years approximately 2,500 employees from our headquarters office in Seattle, Wash., have processed more than half a million pounds of food benefitting people in need. In addition to contributing our employees’ paid volunteer time to this effort each holiday season, we make an annual corporate donation to help sustain Northwest Harvest’s operations.

In 2011 we announced a three-year partnership with the Seattle Mariners, an organization whose commitment to giving back to the local community is well aligned with our own. In 2012 we became the presenting sponsor of the Seattle Mariners’ “Get Well Tour,” which aim to brighten the spirits of children and veterans in area hospitals by enabling visits from the team.

Disaster Relief

Aided by the generous contributions of our guests and employees, we help support relief efforts in communities affected by natural disasters.

In the aftermath of the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, we created a campaign that enabled guests and employees to donate to the American Red Cross, with 100 percent of donations going directly to relief efforts. Through this campaign we were able to contribute to Carnival Corporation & plc’s commitment of $5 million toward earthquake relief, which was distributed to UNICEF, the University of Miami’s Project Medishare, the American Red Cross and Save the Children. That same year, we made a $5,000 donation to the Chilean Red Cross to aid ongoing recovery and rebuilding efforts after a major earthquake in Chile.

Following the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in early 2011, we made a contribution of $25,000 to the Japanese Red Cross to help people who were affected by the disaster. One of our ships, the ms Prinsendam, also provided aid to Japan by holding an onboard fundraiser to benefit relief efforts. Later in 2011, the port city of Christchurch, New Zealand, was hit by an earthquake that caused loss of life and widespread damage. In response, we contributed $5,000 to the New Zealand Red Cross as well as an additional $10,000 from our generous guests and crew members who had visited the area on the ms Volendam one day prior to the earthquake.

mattresses donated to Ship-to-Shelter program

Reusable Goods

As part of our Ship-to-Shelter community giving program, we collect reusable goods such as furniture, kitchenware, toiletries and other items from our ships and donate them to nonprofit organizations that assist people in need in the port communities we visit. The following are examples of our contributions over the past three years:

  • 174 mattresses donated to Food for the Poor in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

  • 86 mattresses donated to the San Diego Rescue Mission

  • Three grand pianos donated to Florida school music departments

  • 20 laptops donated to an elementary school in Hollywood, Fla.

Employee-driven Efforts

We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of our employees, who play a significant role in our philanthropic efforts.

Executive Leadership

We encourage senior-level leaders throughout the company to serve on nonprofit and community advisory boards as part of our Executive Community Leadership program. To date, our executives have shared their professional guidance with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Families of Early Autism Treatment, the Seattle Symphony, the U.S. Coast Guard Foundation, the World Affairs Council and the University of Washington, among other organizations.

students at school in Corinto

Employee Leadership

Our Employee Leadership Donation program enables employees at all levels to raise funds for nonprofit organizations they support by applying for cash or cruise donations. In 2012, led by the Hotel Director and Captain of the ms Statendam, a group of the ship’s officers and crew members applied for a corporate donation to improve a grade school in Corinto, Nicaragua, a port community visited by the ship. While the project was being completed, the school’s students were invited on board the ship for a day of recreational activities.


In 2008 we established a scholarship fund to provide educational support to the children of our employees. This fund distributes two $5,000 awards per year. Awarded funds are applied toward the cost of tuition at an accredited higher education institution of the student’s choice.

In addition, since 1995 we’ve provided scholarships as part of our $100,000 pledge to the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) to support educational endeavors. Our ASTA Holland America Line Undergraduate and Graduate Scholarships are distributed annually via two $5,000 awards given to students pursuing travel, tourism or hospitality degrees at accredited colleges and universities.


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At Holland America Line our employees are the heart of our business. To deliver on our commitment to service excellence, we recruit top talent, provide comprehensive training, create opportunities for development and advancement and offer a competitive pay and benefits package. In keeping with our high ethical standards, we follow the complex employment laws and regulations that apply to our global operations.

Workforce Snapshot

Workforce Snapshot

Recruitment & Retention

Recruitment & Retention

Training & Development

Training & Development

Compensation, Benefits & Wellness

Compensation, Benefits & Wellness

Labor Relations & Fair Employment

Labor Relations & Fair Employment

Workforce Snapshot

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photos of Holland America employees at work

We have more than 15,700 skilled employees around the world who are dedicated to providing once-in-a-lifetime experiences for our guests. Despite the many miles that separate us, we’re committed to working together toward our common mission.


A majority of our employees work on board our ships, and approximately 10 percent are based in our shoreside offices. From 2010 to 2012, our shipboard workforce grew by 11 percent, primarily due to the introduction of the ms Nieuw Amsterdam, a new Signature-class ship that joined our fleet in 2010.

Over the same period, our shoreside workforce was reduced by 33 percent, due in part to a multiyear corporate restructuring designed to increase operational efficiency. In 2009 we sold Gray Line of Seattle and transferred our Alaska/Yukon motorcoach and tour operations to a new subsidiary, Holland America Princess Alaska Tours. In 2010 we transferred our WorldWide Shore Services operations to Holland America Line N.V. and closed our reservation center in Williston, N.D. And in 2011 we assumed management responsibility for Seabourn and transferred the Westmark hotel properties to Holland America Princess Alaska Tours.

During this time we worked closely with affected employees, many of whom remained within the businesses to which their units were transferred or sold. For individuals whose positions were eliminated, we provided job placement assistance and severance compensation.

Each of our shipboard employees works within one of three departments, all of which are ultimately under the supervision of the ship’s Master:

officers            at work in the engine room - Holland America Line             hotel staff serving on deck    
Our deck department is comprised of more than 1,500 officers and crew who ensure the safe conduct of our ships, provide security, respond to health needs and manage exterior maintenance.         Our engine department employs more than 1,700 licensed engineers who are responsible for the engine room as well as the technical and interior maintenance of our ships — from power, propulsion and environmental systems to heating, ventilation and air conditioning.         Our hotel department consists of more than 10,900 employees who manage guest accommodations, restaurants and entertainment.


Of our more than 1,600 shoreside employees who work in our offices in Seattle, Wash., and Rotterdam, the Netherlands, a majority are in full-time positions, while approximately 20 percent are in part-time or seasonal positions. Many of our shoreside employees are responsible for selling cruises and tours, taking reservations and completing the financial and accounting transactions required for internal and external controls. Dedicated personnel in the United Kingdom and Australia are employed by our parent company, Carnival Corporation & plc, and provide reservations and sales assistance to support our expanding international presence.

As an employer that offers equal opportunity to our employees, we hire both men and women for every department on board our ships and in our shoreside offices. A majority of our shipboard employees are men, which reflects a gender imbalance in the applicant pool for officer and crew positions. Female employees first joined our shipboard workforce in 1986, when we redesigned our sleeping arrangements.


As a truly global company, we embrace cultural diversity. We believe a variety of backgrounds and perspectives strengthen every area of our operations, from our engagement in port communities to our interactions with guests.

Approximately 80 percent of our shipboard employees are from Asia, specifically Indonesia and the Philippines, where we have long-term relationships with local employment agencies. A majority of our shoreside employees are from North America, which aligns with the location of our Seattle headquarters.


Recruitment & Retention

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Holland America employees

We maintain high standards for recruitment of our shipboard and shoreside employees and often partner with intermediaries to help us find the best talent.

Shipboard Recruitment

The recruitment of officers for our shipboard positions is particularly challenging due to intense competition for skilled labor in the maritime industry. To recruit strong candidates, we’ve built relationships with top naval schools and merchant marine academies in the United Kingdom, the Philippines and the Netherlands. Our hotel officers and our top-level hotel and restaurant employees are recruited from hospitality schools in Europe, North America and Asia.

We hire a majority of our crew members through employment agencies that act on our behalf. Though many nationalities are represented among our crew, our company has worked with the same primary employment agencies in Indonesia and the Philippines for several decades. In line with the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), 2006, we perform regular audits of these agencies, monitoring their job assignment processes, recordkeeping, pre-employment screening and post-employment follow-up.

Detailed crew employment records are maintained in local recruiting offices and at our Seattle headquarters. The minimum age of employment within our fleet is 21, with the exception of cadets in training and a limited number of entertainment staff who must be age 18 or older.

Shoreside Recruitment

Careers in hospitality and tourism are attractive choices for high school and travel school students and university graduates. We support development programs at the high school and travel school levels and actively recruit at universities for internships and full-time positions. We offer internships in reservations, accounting and marketing to students at schools and universities near our Seattle headquarters.



We strive to promote from within and offer opportunities for advancement in order to keep our best performers. Many of our employees stay with us for more than 10 years, and we proudly celebrate multi-decade employment anniversaries on a regular basis. Among both shipboard and shoreside employees who retired between 2010 and 2012, the average length of service at Holland America Line was 24 years.

Among shipboard employees our turnover rate has been relatively steady for the past three years at an average of 13 percent. Our turnover rate for shoreside employees has fluctuated over the past three years, averaging at 18 percent, due in large part to structural changes within our company.

We believe good communication, recognition, our commitment to an ethical corporate culture and opportunities to give back all significantly enhance our employees’ experience with the company and contribute to employee retention.


Our efforts to facilitate ongoing dialogue with our employees support our core values of focusing on performance and results and embracing change and improvement. In 2012, 100 percent of our eligible shipboard and shoreside employees received performance reviews.

One way we recognize exemplary service is with our President’s Leadership Award, which is granted to one shipboard employee and one shoreside employee each year and includes a monetary bonus. On an annual basis we also honor employees who have served for five or more years. In 2012 more than 900 shipboard and shoreside employees were recognized as part of this program.

President's Leadership Award

Additionally, as part of our commitment to support employees in their efforts to contribute to their community, we encourage and offer programs for those who share their time and resources with nonprofit organizations through donations, board service and volunteerism. Learn more about our community-building efforts.

Training & Development

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training and simulation

Our uncompromising commitment to safety and sustainability is reflected in our training and development programs. Shaped in accordance with the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), these programs also address security, health and sanitation, ethics, company policies and procedures, regulatory requirements and job-specific skills.

As graduates of merchant marine academies, our deck and engine officers are knowledgeable about all aspects of maritime safety and crisis management. They participate in our training programs alongside the rest of our employees in order to stay current with our policies and procedures, which are regularly updated based on enhancements to our vessels and changes in regulatory requirements.

Our training efforts leverage classroom sessions, supervisory guidance, computer-based programming and toolbox discussions to ensure employees are informed and prepared. This training is augmented by frequent drills that enhance skills and assess readiness.

We operate training centers in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Manila, Philippines, where a majority of our shipboard employees are hired. Courses at these centers simulate cruise ship facilities so employees are job-ready when they report to their first postings. New employees must graduate from our training courses in order to join a vessel.

Our Learning Management System, designed for both shipboard and shoreside employees, is a computer-based training platform that helps ensure training consistency across our large, mobile workforce. Leveraging scenarios, games and visuals, the system provides nearly 300 standardized training courses in personal and professional development for every employee at every location and skill level.

From the first day on board our ships, officers and crew members are introduced to the Career Roadmap, a performance appraisal and management system that prepares them for success. At the start of each employee’s contract, the onboard human resource manager proposes a customized training and development plan based on the terms of the contract, the employee’s skills and interests, and past performance evaluations. In the following months, the employee receives training, feedback and coaching to meet career development goals.

To further support our shoreside employees’ growth, in 2010 we launched Holland America Line (HAL) University. This program provides professional development opportunities, including the cultivation of specialized skills and leadership capabilities. It has grown to include more than 55 instructor-led courses, several of which are also offered on our ships as part of our leadership and supervisory excellence programs.

In 2012 our shipboard employees completed a total of more than 520,000 training hours at an average of 37 hours per employee. During the same period, our shoreside employees completed a total of more than 5,700 training hours at an average of five hours per employee.


Our training program includes online and instructor-led courses on ethical conduct. To continue fostering a company culture of integrity, honesty and ethics, in 2011 we formed an Ethics and Compliance Steering Committee. Comprised of middle-management employees from all departments, the committee meets on a monthly basis to discuss current issues as well as the implementation of the committee’s goals and objectives.

2012 World's Most Ethical Companies badge 2012 Ethics Inside Certification Travel and Tourism badge

In 2012 we were proud to receive the Ethisphere™ Institute's Ethics Inside® certification seal and to be named to Ethisphere’s list of the World’s Most Ethical Companies.

Compensation, Benefits & Wellness

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Holland America Line employees

We provide a competitive pay and benefits package that focuses on performance and results, rewarding employees for meeting specific goals.

For both our shipboard and shoreside employees, merit pay increases are tied to performance appraisals, which are conducted at the end of each contract or year of service, respectively. Wages for most of our shipboard employees are negotiated through their unions, and we pay competitive wages that are higher than many of these employees would otherwise earn in shoreside jobs abroad or in their home countries.

Our customizable benefits program is designed to be an integral part of our employees' overall compensation. We offer our employees medical, dental and vision insurance plans and also provide the option to add eligible dependents and same-sex domestic partners to plans at discounted rates.

Beyond pay and health benefits, another important aspect of our compensation package is the opportunity we offer employees to invest in their future and share in the growth of the company. On an annual basis, we provide a profit sharing contribution equal to a percentage of participating base salaries, depending upon company-wide performance. We also provide a 401K matching plan which is available to all employees immediately upon hire. Shoreside employees have the additional option of purchasing Carnival Corporation stock at favorable prices.

We believe all employees should experience our cruise offerings from the guest’s perspective, so we encourage employees to apply for free or reduced-fare cruises of up to 7 days anywhere we sail when space is available. Our shipboard officers may bring family and friends on board as our guests at no charge. These guests stay with officers in their rooms and enjoy all of the officers’ privileges, such as access to gyms and other amenities.

All of our employees are eligible to participate in our tuition assistance program, which offers opportunities to expand job-related knowledge and skills by providing reimbursement up to $2,000 per year. Additionally, our shipboard officers are eligible to participate in our seagoing study leave program, which covers 100 percent of the cost of maritime courses.

Our officers and crew members work under contract, typically seven days per week, between three and 10 months in duration with typically two to three months off between contracts. We have formal systems onboard our ships to ensure that we properly compensate crewmembers for the hours they work and that they receive adequate time for rest and recreation. We also make every effort to help them strike a positive work-life balance by providing comfortable living quarters, nutritious meals, transportation, onboard recreation facilities, shore leave and shore excursion opportunities. We also promote events and activities designed to cultivate personal development, sense of community, health, spirituality and other aspects of wellness.

Labor Relations & Fair Employment

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In keeping with our commitment to integrity, honesty and high ethical standards, we follow the complex employment laws and regulations that apply to our global operations, including all of the provisions of the International Maritime Conventions (IMO and ILO) and Flag Administration regulations that are in effect for seafarers. We also recognize our employees’ rights to freedom of association and participation in collective bargaining. As of 2012, 78 percent of our shipboard employees were covered by collective bargaining agreements.

We maintain excellent working relationship with the unions that represent our employees. The Associated Marine Officers' and Seamen's Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP) represents 100 percent of our Filipino crew, Kesatuan Pelaut Indonesia (KPI) represents a vast majority of our Indonesian officers and crew members, and Nautilus International represents our Dutch deck and engine officers residing in the Netherlands and our British deck and engine officers residing in the United Kingdom.

happy employee

We condemn all forms of child exploitation and forced labor. We do not recruit child labor. In accordance with the ILO Maritime Labour Convention, and related Flag State regulations, we do not employ any crew members younger than 18 years of age.

Our longstanding policy is to afford equal opportunity for employment to all individuals regardless of race; creed; color; religion; national origin; gender; sexual orientation; age; marital status; veteran status; or mental, sensory or physical disability.

We strive to provide a workplace that is fair to all. All employees are encouraged to report any harassment or discrimination concerns immediately to their direct supervisor, human resources or the legal department. Employees making a report in good faith are safeguarded from retaliation. In the event an employee wishes to make a report anonymously, we have provided the ability to do so online or by phone. All reports of misconduct are thoroughly investigated and resolved.

Discrimination claims filed internally by shipboard or shoreside employees or through an external agency, such as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Alaska State Human Rights Commission or the Canadian Yukon Human Rights Commission, are investigated thoroughly by our Human Resources Department, assisted by our Legal Department. From 2010 to 2012, three claims of discrimination were formally filed against Holland America Line. Of these claims, two have been dismissed. We anticipate a finding of no fault for the remaining claim, which is pending.