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"What Are the Most Recommended Holland America Line Amenities and Upgrades According to Clients?"

Many travel advisors are of the "know it all" type. It serves them well as there is much to know. That's why we focus solely on Cruise Vacations. We feel that to be a "Travel Expert" of all things travel is just TOO MUCH! So we make it our business to learn all there is to know about cruising and the different cruise brand experiences, amenities and upgrades. We do know a lot - but with each new trip we continue LEARNING! Since we love to share what we know, we post it here. We hope you will reach out and give us the pleasure of making your next Cruise booking as a thank you. When you book with us, we earn a commission. The cruise line pays us, and you do not. The cruise price is the same as it would be anywhere. Shop HERE at our "Planning To Cruise" [Affiliate Link] Website.

As I write, we are completing Cruise number 35. It is the final sea day of a nine night voyage to Aruba and Curaçao. We are traveling with a Cruise friend/client, Mary.

Lynn & Rob Belles with client Mary cruising on Holland America Line
Photo: Travel Like an Architect™

Here are four things that we learned about Holland America Amenities from two clients and another guest, that really add value to your cruise experience with this brand. Plus what we learned from our own experience. As time passes, we have become more affluent. As a result, we are able to look at things a little differently. The price is always underlying... but now it is not the only consideration.


1. Laundry - Our cruise departed from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. We always fly in at least a day early, and this time we flew in 6 days early. We met up with some hometown friends, who have retired there, that are now some of our best Cruise clients! They rank as four-star Mariners on Holland America Line, the brand we would be cruising with this time. They are doing some of Holland's very long itineraries, even in excess of 30 nights. You can imagine that it's not possible to pack enough clothes, for 30+ days. Over dinner in Fort Lauderdale they shared with us that they always purchase unlimited laundry on the first day of the cruise. Since we stayed six nights in Fort Lauderdale before getting on our cruise, we figured we would have to do laundry before getting on the ship. Nothing is cheap in Fort Lauderdale and we soon figured out that it would also cost us our time and an Uber fare. So we decided to give unlimited laundry on the ship a try.

Holland America Laundry basket, bag and form
Photo: Travel Like an Architect™

I remember having to ask on the first day if the published price was per person or per cabin, because it seemed to be such a great value. The answer is: It was priced per cabin. They delivered a sizable cloth drawstring bag and we immediately started stuffing it full each day. The clothes were returned either folded or on hangers.. I was very pleased, and I am picky about laundry. Nothing was lost and I believe they even pressed a few items!

Holland America laundry form with pricing for unlimited laundry for the duration of a 9 night cruise
Photo: Travel Like an Architect™

It was $76.50 for our cabin, for unlimited laundry, on our nine night cruise! That amounted to $8.50 per day! Needless to say, I am taking home mostly clean clothes! Thanks, to clients Al & Anne!

2. The Retreat / Cabanas - Sadly this topic is not a success story. The retreat is a private area on each Holland America Line ship. There you can purchase a cabana (shaded furnished tent with a view) for your private use throughout your cruise.

Holland America's The Retreat - a private area you can purchase access to for your cruise
Photo: The Retreat - Ryan Clemens & Holland America Line

There are only a dozen+ of them available. So, needless to say they sell out! I tried multiple times to call "ship services" to reserve one. They were sold out months before our departure. It's like having your own private deck with a RESERVED LOUNG CHAIR!

Our client, Mary taught us that you can purchase a less expensive cabin, and add the price of the cabana to your cruise for a more favorable shipboard experience. If you have your own cabana, you are guaranteed a serene atmosphere with a lounge chair to sit in.. you can choose the sun or shade. In the retreat, they furnish a beautiful lunch, and there are attendants that will even serve it to you.. there is also ice cold water garnished with a lemon and bar service! Cabanas are priced per cabin, or per family for the larger corner cabanas. You have to pay for them in advance. But the fee is fully refundable if you should decide to cancel your cruise.

3. Club Orange - MARY also taught us about Club Orange. Club Orange also must be reserved in advance. It is capacity controlled and sells out. Purchasing the Club Orange Package, is like buying your way up in mariner status. Because you get many of the advantages offered to these elite repeat customers.

Holland America Line Club Orange Logo
Photo: Travel Like an Architect™

Here is what you get when you join "Club Orange"


Priority check-in » Priority access to specialty restaurant reservations » Priority line at the Guest Services desk » Priority line at the Shore Excursions desk » Priority access to tenders ashore in select ports » Priority disembarkation (IT TOOK 10 MINUTES ON & OFF!)


Expanded 24-hour room service breakfast menu » Pinnacle Class ships: Private dining venue for breakfast and dinner with an expanded menu » All other ships: Priority seating in the Dining Room for breakfast and dinner with an expanded menu


Complimentary stateroom upgrade » Dedicated concierge service » Welcome glass of sparkling wine on embarkation day » Premium bathrobes » Club Orange keycard » Exclusive Club Orange tote bag (one per stateroom)


Invitation to a special onboard event chosen by the ship’s Captain, such as a: • Private Greenhouse Spa & Salon® consultation • Complimentary jewelry cleaning • Coffee chat with some of our onboard entertainers » Guests will be notified of these exclusive experiences once on board

Photo Credit: Lynn Belles - Travel Like an Architect™

If you are a member of Club Orange you can dine at any time in a smaller intimate style restaurant, pictured above. They are open for Breakfast and Dinner. We got special, luxurious robes in our stateroom. A dedicated concierge line at Guest Services - no more standing in the long line when you have a problem. Club Orange pricing starts from US$25 per person, per day on cruises 13 days or less or US$15 per person, per day on cruises longer than 13 days. It was nice and we would do it again.

I have one complaint about Club Orange Dining - There were not many Gluten Free options. Really nice GF Bread was served on the first night, and then we never got it again. When I asked for GF Bread it took forever, and often my food arrived first.

Learn More [convenience link]

4. OTC medicine - This is interesting. We learned that the gift shop no longer carries certain over-the-counter medicines, like they used to. I suspect this is to force guests to go to the ship's doctor. Not only is the doc a source of revenue but the Cruise line can find out that you don't feel well and send you to quarantine in your room. By doing so they attempt to control the spread of illness. Which is a good thing, right? Thank you Covid.

Pepto Bismol that I packed just in case
Photo: Travel Like an Architect™

We gave away a new box of Pepto-Bismol that we had with us to a fellow guest. Even though we may pack, lighter on clothing in the future, I will always bring any medicine I think I might need. I consider the ships Doctor to be a last resort or emergency situation remedy. It's good to know that the medical center is there...

Finally - The things we learned on our own.

Baggage Drama - We flew down to Fort Lauderdale from Chicago on United Airlines, and were flying home on Spirit. We chose the Spirit flight because the timing was better for us. We would get home a couple hours earlier.

  • Upon checking in with Spirit Rob noticed that the baggage weight limit was not equal to the industry standard of 50#. Spirit charges extra for bags in excess of 40#s. Since we flew down with two 50# bags - we had no choice but to pay extra for at least one bag. So we re-organized our stuff to be one overweight bag and one compliant bag. We also needed to reduce the size of our personal items so that content had to move. After re-organizing we would have to pay an additional $100 for one of our bags, so that the other one would meet the 40# limit. We really worked hard to achieve this, not even thinking about the scale we were using.

  • Holland America Line provides scales for weighing bags on each deck at the mid ship elevator area. Unfortunately on the Rotterdam this area is carpeted. You can't weigh a bag accurately when the scale is on carpet. I guess my brain was on vacation. We normally carry our own scale, but it wore out just before this trip, and we haven't replaced it yet. When we got to the airport, the 40# bag, weighed on the ship, was six pounds over! Spirit had already sent $100 bag down the shoot so wanted to charge us another $79 for the 46# bag.. When I pointed out that we could have shifted more stuff to the bag we already paid $100 for, if the representative had not already sent it on it's way - the guy decided to be nice and let it go.. We paid for the weight, and they say that is what the fee is all about.

  • Once we landed at O'Hare, we proceeded to baggage claim as we always do. We stood at baggage claim waiting for bags for at least 45 minutes. We missed the first bus to Rockford that we were shooting for. After 45 minutes a few bags started to come out, but not ours. Finally after more than an hour the majority of bags arrived, and so did ours. We hustled off to the transportation center to try to catch the second bus. It pulled away just as we descended from the train platform. So we waited yet another hour for the third bus to Rockford.

O'hare Airport's new Transportation Center
Photo: Travel Like an Architect™

We bought a $4 bottle of water and a $9 small bag of trail mix - and WAITED....

When all was said and done, we could have flown back on a later flight with normal bag weight limits and enjoyed a lunch in Fort Lauderdale! LESSON LEARNED.

ADVICE: Flying Spirit? Don't take checked bags.

The flight and flight crew were pleasant. I even think there was more leg room in the aircraft. But - I think their labor force to unload the plane was lean to say the least. I saw two baggage handlers. In all of my travel, I have NEVER waited longer than 15 minutes for baggage at O'Hare.

I did replace my bag scale  [affiliate link] with this one. I like the handle and hook. You know it's not easy to lift a 50# bag to weigh it. We also added Airtags [affiliate link] to our bags for peace of mind. They work pretty well, but since they rely on other iPhones the information they provide is not INSTANT. For about the first 30 minutes the find feature on my phone said that one of our bags was still in Fort Lauderdale. Thankfully - Not true..

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