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An Introduction to the Ships and Classes of the HAL Fleet


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One of the most common questions we get on these boards, particularly from new members, is about the different "classes" of HAL ships - the Vista-class, S-class, and so on. Naturally, everyone wants to know which ships are in each class, and what the differences are.

 

With that in mind, I decided to post this "sticky" post explaining the different "classes". I hope this clarifies the situation.

 

Now, let's meet the different HAL ships, starting with the smallest and oldest:

PRINSENDAM

 

PRINSENDAM - Built 1988 - 37,983 Gross Tons - 793 passengers

 

The smallest and oldest HAL ship, she is in a class by herself. She generally does the longest and most expensive cruises. She is the only HAL ship not built for the line, she was built in 1988 as the ROYAL VIKING SUN, became SEABOURN SUN in 2000 and then PRINSENDAM in 2002. Among things that separate her from the rest of the HAL ships - she does not have a two-deck dining room or main lounge, an indoor/outdoor pool, or dedicated children's facilities. Her smaller, more intimate size and off-the-beaten path itineraries are appreciated by her increasingly loyal following.

 

S-class

 

STATENDAM - 1993 - 55,810 GT - 1,251 pax

MAASDAM - 1993 - 55,451 GT - 1,251 pax

RYNDAM - 1994 - 55,819 GT - 1,251 pax

VEENDAM - 1996 - 55,451 GT - 1,251 pax

 

These four ships are the "backbone" of the HAL fleet. They are virtually identical except for color schemes and artwork. They were the first new HAL cruise ships to have features like the atrium, the two-deck high dining room and main lounge, and the indoor/outdoor Lido pool. These very versatile ships have done everything from 7-day Caribbean and Alaska cruises to full World Cruises. Recently they have been upgraded with features like the Pinnacle Grill alternative restaurant and the Neptune Lounge concierge lounge (for suite passengers).

 

R-class

 

ROTTERDAM - 1997 - 59,652 GT - 1,316 pax

VOLENDAM - 1998 - 60,906 GT - 1,440 pax

ZAANDAM - 1999 - 61,396 GT - 1,440 pax

AMSTERDAM - 2000 - 61,484 GT - 1,380 pax

 

The R-class ships are very similar to the S-class, but a bit longer and wider. Unlike the S-class, they are not all identical. The first of the four was ROTTERDAM. Specially designed for longer cruises, she is the fastest ship in the fleet. She also introduced new features like an alternative restaurant, concierge lounge, and Internet Cafe (all since retrofitted to the older ships as well). VOLENDAM and ZAANDAM followed; they are similar to ROTTERDAM but slower (the same speed as the S-class ships) and are a bit larger because the aft pool was moved up one deck, creating more indoor space on the deck below. Unlike ROTTERDAM, they were designed for yeoman duty in the Caribbean and Alaska though they also are suitable for longer cruises. Like the S-class ships, only decor separates these twins. The final R-class ship, like AMSTERDAM, like a hybrid of ROTTERDAM and VOLENDAM/ZAANDAM. She is faster than VOLENDAM or ZAANDAM but not as fast as ROTTERDAM. Like ROTTERDAM, she was built specially for longer voyages. ROTTERDAM and AMSTERDAM, together, are considered HAL's "flagships" and along with PRINSENDAM they usually do the longest and most prestigious cruises - the World Cruise along with the various Grand Voyages.

 

Vista-class

 

ZUIDERDAM - 2002 - 81,769 GT - 1,848 pax

OOSTERDAM - 2003 - 81,769 GT - 1,848 pax

WESTERDAM - 2004 - 81,811 GT - 1,848 pax

NOORDAM - 2006 - 82,318 GT - 1,918 pax

 

These are the biggest and newest HAL ships currently in service. They were designed mainly for shorter (less than two weeks) cruises in the Caribbean, Alaska, and Europe. Like the S-class, they represented a departure from previous HAL ships in size and design. While bigger than HAL's other ships, they are still much smaller than some competitors' ships which are now sometimes bigger than 150,000 GT and can carry over 3,500 passengers (Royal Caribbean have now ordered a ship that will be 220,000 GT and carry over 5,000 passengers). These ships are notable because of the exceptionally high number of private balconies - over two-thirds of cabins have them. They are called the Vista-class because they are named after the points of the compass in Dutch - Zuid (South), Oost (East), West, and Noord (North). The first three are identical; NOORDAM incorporates a few design changes which make her larger and have a slightly higher passenger capacity.

 

Signature-class

 

This will be two (or more) ships which will be larger, improved versions of the Vista-class, much as the R-class can be considered improved versions of the S-class. Right now there are few details but they will probably be about 90,000 GT with a passenger capacity of about 2,000.

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To add to Doug's summary, here are photos of examples of each class.

 

Prinsendam:

 

holland-america-prinsendam.gif

 

 

S-Class (Statendam):

 

statendam170.jpg

 

 

R Class (Rotterdam):

 

ha_rott6.jpg

 

Vista Class (Zuiderdam):

 

Zuiderdam.jpg

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Thank you Hosts Doug and Walt....I am new to HAL and contemplating my first cruise on Westerdam next year. This really answered my questions about the differences in classes of ships, something I've never really found elsewhere. Appreciate it...cheers, Penny

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There is a lot more information about Holland America (and other cruise lines) in other sections of Cruise Critic.

 

In "Reviews," for example, there's a global description of Holland America and it's ships and why they are named the way they are. Click: About Holland America

 

A snip from the referenced article:

 

...First up -- and garnering the lion's share of hype -- is the company's ultra-contemporary Vista class of vessels. The first in the 85,000-ton, 1,848-passenger Vista class of ships was the Zuiderdam, which entered service in 2003. The Oosterdam debuted in 2003, followed by Westerdam April 2004.

 

Highlights of the Vista class include ocean views in 85 percent of the staterooms, and verandahs in 65 percent of the staterooms. The ships also feature nifty, glass-walled exterior elevators that ascend up 10 decks and provide fabulous panoramic views. The alternative restaurant, spa, entertainment lounge, penthouse verandah suites and Internet cafe on the Vista class ships are the largest in the Holland America fleet. There are extensive Club HAL children's play facilities on all Vista class ships, and each stateroom is equipped with a data port connection...

 

You can also read reader reviews of all HAL ships in the Reviews section.

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Here's Copper10-8's pronunciation guide from that link...

... the Dutch have accents and even dialects depending on what part of the country they're from so you might get a different pronounciation from someone from the province of Friesland (the far north), Amsterdam in the province of Noord Holland in the west and/or the southern provinces of Brabant and Limburg. Even the inhabitants of the three big cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Den Haag (the Hague) have their own accents.

 

Prinsendam "Princen-dam" as in "Prince"

Statendam "St-ah-ten-dam" as in "say Aah"

Maasdam "Maahs-dam" as in "say Ahh"

Ryndam "Rhine-dam"

Veendam "Veyn-dam" as in "hey"

Rotterdam "Rott-ehr-dam" as in Rotweiler

Amsterdam "Ahm-ster-dam"

Volendam "Vohl-en-dam" as in "Foal"

Zaandam "Zahn-dam" as in "say Aah"

Zuiderdam "Zey-der-dam"

Oosterdam "Oasterdam" as in Toast but drop the "T"

Westerdam "West-ehr-dam"

Noordam "Nor-dam" as in More

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One of the most common questions we get on these boards, particularly from new members, is about the different "classes" of HAL ships - the Vista-class, S-class, and so on. Naturally, everyone wants to know which ships are in each class, and what the differences are.

 

With that in mind, I decided to post this "sticky" post explaining the different "classes". I hope this clarifies the situation.

 

Now, let's meet the different HAL ships, starting with the smallest and oldest:

PRINSENDAM

 

PRINSENDAM - Built 1988 - 37,983 Gross Tons - 793 passengers

 

The smallest and oldest HAL ship, she is in a class by herself. She generally does the longest and most expensive cruises. She is the only HAL ship not built for the line, she was built in 1988 as the ROYAL VIKING SUN, became SEABOURN SUN in 2000 and then PRINSENDAM in 2002. Among things that separate her from the rest of the HAL ships - she does not have a two-deck dining room or main lounge, an indoor/outdoor pool, or dedicated children's facilities. Her smaller, more intimate size and off-the-beaten path itineraries are appreciated by her increasingly loyal following.

 

S-class

 

STATENDAM - 1993 - 55,810 GT - 1,251 pax

MAASDAM - 1993 - 55,451 GT - 1,251 pax

RYNDAM - 1994 - 55,819 GT - 1,251 pax

VEENDAM - 1996 - 55,451 GT - 1,251 pax

 

These four ships are the "backbone" of the HAL fleet. They are virtually identical except for color schemes and artwork. They were the first new HAL cruise ships to have features like the atrium, the two-deck high dining room and main lounge, and the indoor/outdoor Lido pool. These very versatile ships have done everything from 7-day Caribbean and Alaska cruises to full World Cruises. Recently they have been upgraded with features like the Pinnacle Grill alternative restaurant and the Neptune Lounge concierge lounge (for suite passengers).

 

R-class

 

ROTTERDAM - 1997 - 59,652 GT - 1,316 pax

VOLENDAM - 1998 - 60,906 GT - 1,440 pax

ZAANDAM - 1999 - 61,396 GT - 1,440 pax

AMSTERDAM - 2000 - 61,484 GT - 1,380 pax

 

The R-class ships are very similar to the S-class, but a bit longer and wider. Unlike the S-class, they are not all identical. The first of the four was ROTTERDAM. Specially designed for longer cruises, she is the fastest ship in the fleet. She also introduced new features like an alternative restaurant, concierge lounge, and Internet Cafe (all since retrofitted to the older ships as well). VOLENDAM and ZAANDAM followed; they are similar to ROTTERDAM but slower (the same speed as the S-class ships) and are a bit larger because the aft pool was moved up one deck, creating more indoor space on the deck below. Unlike ROTTERDAM, they were designed for yeoman duty in the Caribbean and Alaska though they also are suitable for longer cruises. Like the S-class ships, only decor separates these twins. The final R-class ship, like AMSTERDAM, like a hybrid of ROTTERDAM and VOLENDAM/ZAANDAM. She is faster than VOLENDAM or ZAANDAM but not as fast as ROTTERDAM. Like ROTTERDAM, she was built specially for longer voyages. ROTTERDAM and AMSTERDAM, together, are considered HAL's "flagships" and along with PRINSENDAM they usually do the longest and most prestigious cruises - the World Cruise along with the various Grand Voyages.

 

Vista-class

 

ZUIDERDAM - 2002 - 81,769 GT - 1,848 pax

OOSTERDAM - 2003 - 81,769 GT - 1,848 pax

WESTERDAM - 2004 - 81,811 GT - 1,848 pax

NOORDAM - 2006 - 82,318 GT - 1,918 pax

 

These are the biggest and newest HAL ships currently in service. They were designed mainly for shorter (less than two weeks) cruises in the Caribbean, Alaska, and Europe. Like the S-class, they represented a departure from previous HAL ships in size and design. While bigger than HAL's other ships, they are still much smaller than some competitors' ships which are now sometimes bigger than 150,000 GT and can carry over 3,500 passengers (Royal Caribbean have now ordered a ship that will be 220,000 GT and carry over 5,000 passengers). These ships are notable because of the exceptionally high number of private balconies - over two-thirds of cabins have them. They are called the Vista-class because they are named after the points of the compass in Dutch - Zuid (South), Oost (East), West, and Noord (North). The first three are identical; NOORDAM incorporates a few design changes which make her larger and have a slightly higher passenger capacity.

 

Signature-class

 

This will be two (or more) ships which will be larger, improved versions of the Vista-class, much as the R-class can be considered improved versions of the S-class. Right now there are few details but they will probably be about 90,000 GT with a passenger capacity of about 2,000.

 

Doug, thanks ever so much for a very informative article. We've sailed on the Amsterdam and have two bookings on the Zaandam. I've been wondering what class the Zaandam was and now I know. I was going to be researching the information shortly and you saved me lots of time and trouble. A GREAT BIG THANK YOU!!!!

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This was a great sticky. Even I learned a few things by reading them. I like all the Dam ships that I have been on especially the following three:

Statendam, Rotterdam, Volendam.

 

FYI I have been on all the "S" class ships, in the "R" I have been on the Rotterdam and Volendam. Hopefully I will soon be on the Zaandam. I have been on two VISTA ships so far" The Zuiderdam and the OOSTERDAM. I have been on two ships no longer in service: Nieuw Amsterdam and the old Westerdam ( Originally the Homeric.)

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...
Where can I download deck plans of the Maasdam--the Holland AMerica site has a link but I could not bring it up?

 

Here's a link to the MAASDAM DECK PLANS section of the HAL website. On the linked page you can click on each deck and get a .pdf (Adobe Acrobat) page that shows all the details of the deck.)

 

BTW, the plan for Maasdam is virtually identical to the plans for all four of the S-Class ships.

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  • 1 month later...

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