Holland America Expands Alaska Up Close Programming

Holland America Line expands its "Alaska Up Close" programming with new culinary and cultural experiences onboard its ships in Alaska.

Holland America Expands Alaska Up Close Programming

Holland America Line Expands ‘Alaska Up Close’ Onboard Programming with New Culinary and Cultural Experiences

New cocktails with authentic glacier ice, fresh fish and wildlife spotting highlight enhanced experience

With Holland America Line’s “Alaska Up Close”, guests on Alaska cruises are deeply immersed in the local culture with informative onboard programming, sea-to-table dining, and award-winning shore excursions. The premium cruise line is introducing new facets of the program throughout the 2023 Alaska season that offer an even more engaging guest experience.

Added to every Alaska cruise, guests will find new localized cuisine, cocktails featuring authentic glacier ice, an Alaska-themed brunch, Huna native presentation, and wildlife experts to help guests spot the abundance of indigenous animals from the ship’s deck. The program continues to deliver workshops and lectures, EXC Talks exploring the stories of real Alaskans, and dining events featuring the culinary traditions of the region. 

Holland America Expands Alaska Up Close Programming

“Since launching Alaska Up Close we’ve introduced incredible programming that brings an authentic Alaska experience to our guests like no other cruise line,” said Michael Smith, senior vice president, guest experience and product development. “This season we’re growing the program to embed Alaskan fresh fish and wildlife spotting into the cruise on an even more expansive scale, from new localized cuisine and cocktails to exciting lectures and wildlife viewing. We want our guests to have experiences they can’t find anywhere else.”

A New Way to Experience Glaciers

Four new cocktails feature authentic Alaska glacier ice harvested by state permit among floating glacier bergs in Prince William Sound. Holland America is the only cruise line serving real glacier ice from the waters of Alaska. The cocktails with the glacier ice include:

  • Juneau Gin & Tonic features Juneauper Gin that’s produced in Juneau, Alaska.
  • Alaska’s Blue Ice has De Kuyper Blue Curaçao, X Rum, pineapple juice, Velvet Falernum, and Dry Vermouth.
  • Blue Iceberg: Juneauper Gin, apricot brandy, Blue Curaçao, and lime juice.
  • Black & Blue: a choice of Jonnie Walker Black or Jack Daniels Black Label served over glacier ice.

Holland America Line also is serving new hot cocktails during scenic cruising in Glacier Bay, Tracy Arm, and Hubbard Glacier. These include:

  • Glacier Bay Coffee: Baileys Irish Cream and Malibu Coconut Rum.
  • Alaska Railroad Coffee: Jameson Irish Whiskey, Kahlua, and Cream.
  • Gold Rush Coffee: Grand Marnier, Coffee, and Hot Chocolate.
  • Northern Lights: Crème de Cacao, Kahlua, and Brandy.

Alaska Brunch Highlights Local Flavors

Offered once per cruise, the new Alaska Brunch menu features fresh, local Alaskan and Pacific Northwest ingredients. The selections range from sweet to savory and include Alaskan Blueberry Pancakes, Salmon & Potato Chowder, Wild Forest Mushroom and Tarragon Crepes, Kodiak Steak and Egg Skillet, Crab and Hot Smoked Salmon Cakes, Biscuits with Gravy and Alaskan Reindeer Sausage, and Home Smoked Gulf of Alaska Cod Benny.

Holland America Expands Alaska Up Close Programming

A Taste of Alaska in Lido Market

During Alaska cruises, the casual Lido Market features special dishes and theme nights. Guests can enjoy a Salmon Bake dinner and Seafood Boil pop-up dinner on all cruises. There’s even a Gold Rush dinner on 14+ day cruises.

Sustainable Seafood

In 2022, Holland America Line was awarded Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) certification. This made it the first cruise line to serve only fresh, certified sustainable and traceable wild Alaska seafood.

On any Alaska cruise, the line serves more than 2,000 pounds of Alaska Salmon, 1,000 pounds of Alaska cod, 800 pounds of Alaska halibut, 500 pounds of Alaska rockfish, and more.

All menus highlight “Taste Alaska” by calling out region-specific dishes and fresh fish options.

EXC Talks and Presentations Bring Alaska to Life

Holland America Line’s EXC Talks continue to bring each destination to life with captivating storytelling and expert commentary. On Alaska cruises, guests can attend “Ancestral Memories,” “Breaking the Ice Ceiling,” “Pacific Giants,” “The Iditarod”, and “We Are Alaska” to learn more about local culture and customs.

New to the EXC programming, Holland America Line is bringing on a Huna Native Interpreter in traditional dress. During the stay at Juneau, guests can attend “Native Voices: Stories of the Tlingit People.” 

Wildlife Experts and Park Rangers

A new wildlife expert on board helps guests witness the majestic animals found in Alaska. Guests can be on the lookout for humpback whales, orcas, bald eagles, moose, sea otters, caribou, black and grizzly bears, Dall’s porpoise, and more. The daily program highlights designated times to meet the wildlife expert on deck.

Holland America Line also is introducing a Wildlife Spotting Guide. This guide points out the native animals found along the cruise route and includes a map with the best places to spot each species. Between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., all wildlife sightings will be announced so guests may enjoy viewing.

During Glacier Bay scenic cruising, Holland America Line continues to bring on a Glacier Bay National Park Ranger for the day to engage with guests and talk about Alaska’s most famous national park.

All cruises on Westerdam roundtrip from Seattle feature a presentation by The Alaska Raptor Center at Sitka. Hosted by the wildlife expert, one of the center’s Avian Care Specialists comes aboard with a raptor (eagle, hawk, owl, etc.) to share insights about Alaska’s majestic birds in the World Stage.

On Deck for A Cause: Alaska’s Parks

For the 2023 Alaska season, Holland America Line is donating proceeds from the “On Deck for a Cause” event aboard ships in the region to Alaska Geographic, the nonprofit education partner of Alaska’s parks, forests, refuges, and conservation lands. During “On Deck for a Cause: Alaska’s Parks,” guests can donate $25 to participate in a noncompetitive 5k fundraising walk aboard every sailing. 

Holland America Line has six ships exploring Alaska in 2023. These itineraries include seven- or 14-day cruises from Seattle, Washington; Vancouver, Canada; and Whittier/Anchorage, Alaska. The line also offers Cruisetours up to 18 days. These combine an overland to Denali National Park and the Yukon plus a cruise. 

SOURCE Holland America Line


Are you happy to hear that Holland America expands its “Alaska Up Close” programming? Have you cruised to Alaska with Holland America? Drop us an anchor below to share your HAL Alaska cruise reviews.

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Heidi is a physical therapist by profession, cruise enthusiast at heart, and Princess all the time! She is a self-confessed thrill seeker, obsessive planner, and over-packer. She is always looking for the latest and greatest adventures onboard and ashore, enjoys researching top things to do in ports of call, and loves dressing up for formal nights.
Heidi Bucolo
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