3 Best Holland America Cruises for Shore Excursions

If you are a mature traveler who appreciates the classic experiences of traditional cruising, then Holland America is the line for you. These three midsize ships are full-service, offer a host of onboard activities and exciting shore excursions, and cater to passengers at an average age of 55. All three are highly rated as some of the best cruises specifically for shore excursions.


ms Noordam
Photo By: Holland America Line

The Noordam cruises along the Pacific coast, the South Pacific, and Alaska. She sails to and from a number of cities in the US, Australia, and Canada. One of the most popular itineraries departs from Vancouver and visits four destinations in Alaska.

The first shore excursion will be in Juneau, the only capital in the US that you cannot drive to! Go whale watching; zip-line in the beautiful mountains; catch a glimpse of the bears; and stand in awe of Mendenhall Glacier – 12 miles of blue ice!

Next stop Skagway, where you’ll return to the gold rush days. Historic downtown has wooden sidewalks, interesting shops, and museums, loads of charm, and is easily walkable.

After that, Glacier Bay will take your breath away… Get the camera ready for humpback whales (‘humpies’ in local language), bald eagles, bears and maybe a calving glacier if your timing is good.

Finally, hop off for the final shore excursion in Ketchikan – famous for salmon and totem poles. You haven’t really tasted this fish or felt the power of a totem until you experience them in this Alaskan frontier town.


Ms Westerdam
Photo By: Holland America Line

Known for its warm and friendly atmosphere, Holland America’s Westerdam is sure to please while cruising to Alaska, Hawaii, the Baltic Sea, the Caribbean, the Mexican Riviera, the Pacific coast, or the Panama Canal and Central America.

You can depart from a number of cities, including San Diego, and travel west to the Hawaiian Islands. The first port for shore excursions will be Hilo, rich in cultural history (think King Kamehameha) and the location for visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The second stop will be Honolulu where there is an abundance of activities available. Be sure to shop in the 11-waterfront-acre Aloha Tower Marketplace.

At your next shore excursion in Kauai, nature is king. Breathtaking gorges with sheer cliffs, rainforests, undeveloped beaches, and no buildings ‘higher than a palm tree’ make this island a peaceful retreat. And, one that has been the ‘star’ in over 60 shows and movies due to her beauty!

In the last two stops at Maui and Kona, you will be embraced by the ‘spirit of aloha’ and deep history that still remains in the local cultures. Enjoy surfing (or just lounging) at black sand beaches, snorkeling with sea turtles, watching dolphins, golfing, or dining at world-class restaurants.


ms Maasdam
Photo By: El Coleccionista de Instantes Fotografía(Creative Commons)

Holland America’s Maasdam departs from both coasts of the US, South America and Australia. If you want to see Mexico and Central America, board in San Diego, enjoy over a dozen ports on the way, and travel through the Panama Canal on the way to your the final stop in Boston.

A shore excursion in Puerto Vallarta is for history buffs and nature lovers with guided tours available for both. Manzanillo’s charm is that is it not ‘touristy’ – so enjoy the local atmosphere there.

A shore excursion in Huatulco must include local cuisine and traditional crafts. And Puerto Caldera in Costa Rica is an ecological paradise in a setting of thousands of indigenous wildlife species, including 918 different kinds of birds!

One of the highlights of the Maasdam cruise is traveling through 12 locks inside the Panama Canal. With onboard guides, you can witness the history of this engineering marvel in the comfort of your luxury cruise.

Each of these ships and many others in the Holland America Line offer very specific choices for itineraries. You are certain to find just the right cruise for your interests.

Angela Minor
Angela Minor
Enchanted with cruising from my first voyage in the Bahamas on the SS Emerald Seas to Alaska’s Inside Passage. Professional freelance writer and published indie author. Find out more about us here.


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