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Dan Rough, Vice President, Pricing and Demand, HAL; Gus Antorcha, President, HAL; Ryan Taibel, Vice President, Sales & Partnerships, HAL.

While some cruise lines decide not to venture Down Under next season, one major player has confirmed their support for the Australian market.

Holland America President Gus Antorcha used his first visit to this country to reaffirm his company’s love of cruising in Aussie waters.

Traveltalk was invited to an exclusive lunch aboard Ms Volendam at which Mr Antorcha outlined what Australian guests can look forward to in the future.

“We are very committed to the Australian market and it is very important for us. We visit on a number of our itineraries. It’s a very important part of our offering and our guests love it,” Mr Antorcha told a select gathering of trade media.

“When we ask guests where they want to go, Australia always ranks highly. It’s a combination of how culturally diverse it is combined with the natural beauty and the wonderful big cities.

“We plan on deploying our ships here for a long time to come.”

Mr Antorcha was on hand to welcome guests aboard Volendam as it docked in Sydney as part of a 94-day ‘Grand Australia and New Zealand’ cruise.

The President also used his visit to highlight upcoming itineraries for the 2025/2026 season, including a recently announced 28-day ‘Islands of the South Pacific’ Legendary cruise departing Sydney in 2026.

Likely to be of particular interest to Aussies, this voyage sails to Auckland and calls at 20 ports across seven countries across the region. The line will also continue to offer 12 to 16-night voyages across the Tasman.

Holland America’s presence Down Under has helped the cruise industry inject $2.75 billion into the Australian economy this year.

Responding to a question from Traveltalk about potential new builds, the HAL President said there was nothing in the pipeline but that could change down the track.

“Right now, I’m focused on driving profitability, driving bookings and making sure our guest scores are high. I think it’s probably relevant for us to be thinking about that (new ships) in the next year or two. We want to grow but we want to grow thoughtfully.”

Asked what makes HAL stand out from the competition, Mr Antorcha highlighted the diversity of itineraries on offer, particularly on their longer cruises, the mid-size of their ships, which means less crowds, and the connection staff make with the guests.

“You really feel like they’re welcoming you to their home, which in many ways they are. Our team spends a lot of time onboard and they are so warm and welcoming,” Mr Antorcha added.

“Australians are excited to travel with us, particularly to Alaska, where Holland America Line provides more glacier and wildlife viewing opportunities than any other cruise line.

“I think it’s where we go and how we take you there that sets us apart.”