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Most people will tell you there are seven continents in the world. Yet new research has led geologists to claim an eighth…and it’s relatively close to home. In this exclusive interview with Traveltalk, Ryan Taibel, Vice President of Sales and Partnerships at Holland America Line, reveals how Aussies can visit the hidden marvel known as ‘Zealandia’.

Q: Ryan, Zealandia sounds like a distant planet from a Marvel movie. For those who don’t know what or where it is, can you give us some details?

A: Although mostly submerged beneath the ocean’s depths, Zealandia has captured the imagination of researchers and explorers alike.

Recent endeavours have successfully mapped the northern two-thirds of this mysterious continent, revealing a landmass nearly half the size of Australia.

Zealandia’s history is quite closely tied to the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana, which broke up hundreds of millions of years ago. Zealandia followed suit—roughly 80 million years ago, according to the latest theory.

But unlike neighbouring Australia or much of Antarctica, Zealandia is largely submerged, leaving only a small portion of what many geologists believe should still be dubbed the eighth continent.

Q: So, we’re talking a big chunk of rock here! Now we know where and what it is, how can Aussies get to visit it with Holland America?

A: We have a wide range of itineraries in and around New Zealand and the South Pacific that will give our guests the opportunity to see the hidden eighth continent.

Guests will be able to catch a rare glimpse of the natural wonders of Zealandia during their voyages.

We will have three ships (Noordam, Westerdam and Volendam) visiting Zealandia between 2023 – 2025.

Most of our close to home itineraries will include visits to Zealandia and range from 11 to 58-night itineraries for people to choose from.

The cruises range from our most popular 14-day Australia and New Zealand options, 58-day ‘Grand Australia & New Zealand’ voyage, 25-day ‘South Pacific Crossing’ and 39-day ‘New Zealand & South Pacific Crossing Collector’.

Within our 10-day New Zealand discovery cruise, guests can witness Zealandia over the course of its four days at sea, providing a deep dive into this novel exploration.

The itinerary of this cruise includes visits to renowned wonders like Milford Sound, Port Chalmers and Lyttleton, with travels extending to Christchurch, Wellington and New Plymouth.

In addition to the New Zealand voyage, guests can enjoy the revelation of this newfound discovery through our expansive South Pacific crossings that include a New Caledonia port call. 

This journey unveils captivating landscapes, including a series of lagoons that serve as a remarkable showcase of highly diverse coral reef ecosystems.

Notably, one of these itineraries spans 25 days, embarking on a South Pacific crossing that navigates through Zealandia, New Caledonia and Fiji during days at sea.

Q: This is clearly a prime example of how cruise travel can serve as a gateway to exploration and uncover unique experiences. What can we expect onboard and on shore from HAL?

A: Noordam is set to resume its homeport operations in Sydney on November 12, embarking on a series of exciting cruises between Australia and New Zealand.

Alongside this we are also featuring the Pub Choir live show who will be performing onboard the AKL-SYD cruise departing on January 27, 2024.

The return of Noordam to Australia not only signifies the continuation of a longstanding cruise tradition but also holds the promise of new adventures and discoveries for guests eager to explore the beauty of the region.

Guests will enjoy Noordam’s pristine staterooms, unique features and a range of onboard activities.

Sing along to your favourite hits at Billboard Onboard, try your hand at pickleball, enjoy a Pilates class at the fitness centre and savour the delights at one of our many specialty restaurants.


Q: How important is the Australian market to your company?

A: Australia has been a key focus for Holland America Line and we’ve witnessed a growing interest and enthusiasm from Australian travellers.

Our commitment to providing exceptional service and creating unforgettable moments extends to our Australian guests. We continually strive to tailor our offerings to cater to the preferences and interests of the Australian market.

From curated itineraries to onboard experiences, we aim to ensure that our cruises resonate with the discerning tastes of Australian travellers.

Q: Finally, how do you see the future of cruising developing in the next few years?

A: The recent announcement of Western Australia’s impressive $333 million economic boost from cruises is indeed a testament to the positive impact this industry can have on local economies and regions.

As more destinations recognise the potential of cruise tourism, we anticipate increased collaboration between cruise lines and local economies.

Looking ahead, we also foresee a heightened focus on sustainability within the industry.


Cruise lines are investing in environmentally friendly practices, from advanced waste management systems to the adoption of alternative fuels, aligning with the growing global emphasis on responsible travel.

This commitment to sustainability is not only an ethical choice but also a response to the evolving preferences of environmentally conscious travellers.

As we navigate these exciting trends, our commitment to providing personalised and unforgettable experiences remains unwavering. We look forward to contributing positively to the evolving landscape of cruising in the years to come.