HAL Restarts Cruising from Greece in AUG; AK Could Start Even Earlier

HAL EurodamBookings open 06MAY for Holland America’s first cruises since last year: sailings beginning 15AUG from Greece on the Eurodam.

In a virtual press conference late Wednesday, Open Jaw heard it directly from Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line.

“We’re back!” Antorcha declared. “Happy to confirm we’re sailing from Greece in August.”

Four departures are scheduled, all departing from Piraeus (Athens), with 3 of them designed for guests who want to sail 2 back-to-back cruises.

Departing Aug. 15 and 29, the “Idyllic Greek Isles” itinerary features Kotor, Montenegro, plus the Greek isles of Kékira (Corfu), Thíra (Santorini) and Mykonos.

“Ancient Wonders” departs Aug. 22 to explore Haifa, Israel, as well as Náfplion, Mykonos and Rhodes in Greece. This itinerary can combined with “Idyllic Greek Isles” to form a longer, back-to-back 14-day Collectors’ Voyage.

In addition, a seven-day “Adriatic Allure” itinerary departing Sept. 5 will sail from Piraeus to Venice, Italy, with calls at Mykonos, Katakolon (Olympia) and Crete (Chania), Greece, and Sarandë, Albania.

Antorcha revealed HAL is still working out details with Greece – and its other planned sailings will also require approvals from Italian and Albanian authorities, “but our intent is to feature all aspects of cruising that our guests enjoy, including onboard talks, cultural experts, all culinary options will be open and available, music venues open, including Music Walk, and service as stellar as always.”

He added he thinks HAL’s medium ship size will be an advantage in providing confidence and enhanced safety protocols. The company is planning operating initially with 50 per cent capacity, but expects that to grow as safe operations continue. Additional consultations with Greek authorities will dictate, “where we might require masks on board… “ adding health precautions were expected to evolve based on vaccination infection rates on shore.

Crew and guests will have to be 100 per cent vaccinated, and no exceptions will be made for children, as Antorcha noted guidance is now starting to be given for teens, and that much can change in the months before sailing actually begins.

He added he hopes guests will be free to go ashore on their own, not in ‘bubble’ excursions provided by the cruise line, but noted that some precautions like masking and independent exploration on shore may vary port to port initially.

HAL’s new inclusive pricing will be offered on all the new Eurodam sailings. ‘Have it All’ includes favourite amenities like shore excursions, beverages, specialty dining and wi-fi in pax cruise fares at 50 per cent off individual pricing, and Antorcha noted that made the package not only more desireable to many guests, “I expect a large proportion, if not the majority, to buy into the package,” it also adds to advisor commissions.

Fares for Eurodam’s seven-day Greece cruises begin at a “Have it All” premium package fare of USD$1,999 per person that includes one shore excursion, a beverage package, specialty dining and Wi-Fi. Cruise-only fares start at $1,649 per person, double occupancy. Taxes, fee and port expenses are additional. Full details, including cruise fares and information on shore excursions, are being finalized and will be shared in the coming weeks at hollandamerica.com.

HAL notes that attractive airfares from several domestic and international gateways will be available through Holland America Line’s FlightEase program. Flexible cancellation terms, including our Covid-19 Protections, are offered through “Book with Confidence” when booked by June 30, 2021, for sailings through Dec. 31, 2021. The cruise line’s Cancellation Protection Plan also allows cancellation up to 24 hours in advance.

Additional Mediterranean cruises aboard Eurodam through the fall will be announced in the coming weeks and include ports in Italy and Greece. Eurodam returns to the United States to begin sailing its published Caribbean cruises in mid-November.

ALASKA SAILINGS COULD HAPPEN EVEN SOONER

Media were quick to note that the Eurodam is currently scheduled to sail in Alaska this summer.

Gus Antorcha, HAL“You should draw no conclusions about AK based on this announcement,” Antorcha told us. “We have to be practical.”

Eurodam, he said, is moving to Greece because it’s currently in Europe. He noted the Nieuw Amsterdam is sitting in Alaska.

“We’re working on it in parallel,” he hinted, “Don’t conclude we wouldn’t open another ship before this in Alaska!

We are still attempting to sail in JUL,” he revealed, adding that talks continue with the CDC.

To accommodate the new Greece sailings, guests sailing on Eurodam’s published Seattle roundtrip Alaska cruises will be moved to similar accommodations on sister ship Nieuw Amsterdam, which is scheduled to sail on the same departure dates. In addition, European cruises departing from July 1 through July 25 on Volendam and July 1 through Aug. 31 on Westerdam will be cancelled. Guests who were booked on impacted cruises and their travel advisors are being notified.

NEW SHIP ROTTERDAM: STILL ON SCHEDULE FOR THIS SUMMER

Open Jaw readers may recall HAL’s newest ship, the Rotterdam, was scheduled for an 01AUG inaugural, and Antorcha said the ship is on track.

“That’s the plan!” he laughed of the looming AUG date. “Until we change it. First we have to deliver the ship – but everything’s going as scheduled. If it does go according to plan, then we’re hoping still Med (for the Rotterdam in August).”

CHANGES AND CANCELLATIONS

To accommodate the new Greece sailings, guests sailing on Eurodam’s published Seattle roundtrip Alaska cruises will be moved to similar accommodations on sister ship Nieuw Amsterdam, which is scheduled to sail on the same departure dates. In addition, European cruises departing from July 1 through July 25 on Volendam and July 1 through Aug. 31 on Westerdam will be cancelled. Guests who were booked on impacted cruises and their travel advisors are being notified.

Lynn Elmhirst

With a background in broadcast news and travel lifestyles TV production, Lynn is just as comfortable behind or in front of the camera as she is slinging words into compelling stories at her laptop. Having been called a multi-media ‘content charmer’, Lynn’s other claim to fame is the ability to work 24/7, forgoing sleep until the job is done. Documented proof exists in a picture of Lynn at the closing celebrations of an intense week, standing, champagne in hand - sound asleep. That’s our kind of gal.

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