2017 APHC Cruise — Answers to Your Questions

Inverness Castle, Inverness, Scotland

Here you will find answers to the more common questions we have been asked about our cruises. We also address some important issues specific to this cruise.

Before sailing with us, you must read and sign our Terms and Conditions, which spell out important and contractually binding guidelines for our cruise.

We recommend that you visit Holland America’s website. You will find extensive and detailed information about sailing on their ships. They have been in the cruise business much longer than we have — please make use of their expertise.

Executive Meetings and Incentives, Inc. (EMI) is your partner in travel. They are your first stop for any help you may need with travel arrangements or any question you may have. See EMI’s website for more information.

YOU MUST HAVE A CURRENT PASSPORT TO SAIL ON THIS CRUISE. For this international cruise all passengers must have valid passports. This includes minors of all ages. You will be denied boarding if you do not have proper credentials. See Holland America’s website for details.

YOU MUST SEND EMI YOUR FLIGHT ITINERARY BEFORE SAILING ON THIS CRUISE. You must also provide details as to how you plan to transfer to and from the cruise terminal in Rotterdam. This is a Holland America requirement. See below for information.

Who are we?

A Prairie Home Companion (APHC) is a live radio broadcast produced by Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), part of American Public Media Group (APMG). Garrison Keillor hosted APHC for over 40 years and will be hosting this cruise. APMG chartered the ms Rotterdam and will produce the cruise. APHC staff will be responsible for all changes and additions made to the regularly scheduled HAL cruise. We will provide the APHC performers, entertainers, and lecturers sailing with you.

Holland America Lines (HAL) operates and manages the Rotterdam; provides for passenger safety and comfort; and is responsible for your cabin accommodations, food, beverages, recreation, and shopping while on board. Go to HAL’s website for more information about life aboard ship.

Executive Meetings and Incentives (EMI) is our agent in charge of selling our cruise and booking your accommodations. They will provide you with the highest levels of professional travel-related services. They will book your passage on the ship. EMI will help you with transfers to and from the cruise, cabin selection, dinner table seating, and provide guidance for other onboard needs.

For other questions, contact us or call EMI at 800-225-5364 x 2179.

Select a topic from the list below:

I. Booking

How much does the cruise cost?

For pricing information, visit EMI’s pricing page. We have cabins in a wide range of prices.

What types of cabins are on the ship? Where are they located?

There are a wide variety of cabins throughout all levels of the ship. You will always be close to the action on the Rotterdam. Visit Holland America’s website for pictures, descriptions, and deck plans.

Is this a different ship than we have sailed before?

We are excited to be sailing Holland America’s ms Rotterdam, the standard-bearer of their fleet, out of its home port. Just a bit bigger than most of the ships we’ve sailed before, we think you will find it comfortable, intimate, and beautifully appointed. Here are some of the differences our previous cruisers may notice:

  • About 60 more cabins to choose from, including more Verandahs and Suites, Lanai and Spa Staterooms, and another deck of cabins called “Dolphin”.
  • A third set of elevators and stairs midship.
  • The Sea View Pool is replaced by the Retreat, a resort-style experience offering poolside amenities and service including a jumbo movie screen.
  • The Rotterdam has “the Loft” and “the Oasis” spaces designed for use by older youth and teenagers.
  • The Pinnacle Grill is to be found behind the Wajang Theatre.

How do I book a cabin? What types are currently available?

For booking information, visit EMI’s pricing page. You will see a list of the currently available cabins. Just click on the one you are interested in.

May I sail part of this cruise?

We certainly want you to stay on board for the full cruise: you wouldn’t want to miss anything and we can’t tell you in advance when your favorite events will be offered.

Please note: if you choose to sail only part of the cruise we will charge you the full cruise price in all cases — we cannot offer pro-rated rates.

Under specific circumstances it may be possible to sail only part of the cruise. International law including “Cabotage” rules govern this and exceptions cannot be made. In general the requirement is that you must travel to at least one other country. (An interesting note — if you look at almost any passenger itinerary, you will see that they always travel to another country at some point.) We suggest that any alternate plan you make either start or end in Rotterdam, which will make sure that you visit at least two countries.

If you must depart early or arrive late, all travel arrangements are your responsibility. At ports along the way, many of the services provided to passengers in Rotterdam will not be available. Smaller ports will be difficult to travel to and some do not have an airport. Mid-cruise ports generally do not provide passenger services such as assistance with baggage or airport transfers. The ship will not be able to transfer your bags on or off the ship mid-cruise.

Contact EMI directly to discuss details if you are interested in sailing only part of the cruise. And, again, we will always charge full fare.

Are wheelchair-accessible rooms available on board? What about other special needs?

Holland America, MPR, APHC, and EMI do not discriminate against persons on the basis of disability. We seek, to the fullest extent feasible, to accommodate guests with special needs. Holland America offers a limited number of staterooms designed to be wheelchair and scooter accessible. Most public areas of the ship are wheelchair accessible, some areas such as the top-most outdoor observation area are not. To learn more about HAL’s options for guests with special needs, see the HAL Cruise Planning and Advice section. You can explore the deck plans in HAL’s Rotterdam Info to see where the wheelchair-accessible rooms are located. Please contact EMI directly at 800-225-5364 x 2179 to discuss any special needs you may have.

II. Payment/Finances

Is travel insurance necessary?

We strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance. You will be booking this cruise many months before we sail, circumstances can easily change. Insurance is your only recourse for reimbursement in the event of change, delay, or crisis. For more information, see EMI’s pricing page.

What is included in the payment and what will cost extra?

Please see our terms and conditions page. While on board, you can spend a minimal amount or incur significant charges by the end of the cruise. You will certainly be able to have an enjoyable time no matter how little or how much you spend. All APHC events are included as are most activities on board. Alcoholic beverages, soda, spa services, the casino, and some other on-board services are not included in your fare. We do not include airfare, ground transportation, shore excursions, or other off-ship expenses in our fares.

I’m a Holland America stockholder. Can I get a discount on my cruise?

No. This cruise is private and chartered.

I’m a Holland America Mariner. Do I get credit or amenities?

Holland America will credit your travel days on this cruise toward your Mariner status. However, Mariner amenities or benefits will NOT be provided on this cruise. Discounts, cabin amenities, gatherings, upgrades, or any other benefits normally provided by Holland America as part of their passenger-incentive programs will NOT be made available on this cruise.

I’ve booked my cabin. What’s next?

EMI will confirm your reservation with you electronically and provide an EMI confirmation number they will use to track your reservation. Closer to the cruise, EMI will provide your Holland America booking number and cabin number, which you will use to prepare for your trip and book shore excursions.

How do I check in?

Check-in and preparation for your cruise is an online process that HAL calls Express Docs. All passengers are required to check in using this system in advance of the cruise. You will need your HAL booking number to do this. You must return the signed terms and conditions for the cruise to receive your booking number. All documents necessary for your cruise will be provided online through Express Docs, including your cruise contract and your boarding pass. You will need to print these documents yourself and bring them with you. We will not send you “hard copies” of these documents. See EMI’s website for step-by-step instructions on how to use Express Docs.

It is essential that you review all documents thoroughly and that you bring everything with you. This process is similar to checking in for an airline flight, just more extensive. It is required.

May I cancel my reservation?

You may cancel, but we have a strict refund policy. Ten days after registering, your deposit becomes nonrefundable. On or after February 1, 2017, your full cruise fare will be collected and is not refundable. Please see our terms and conditions page.

How do I pay for extras while on board?

While on board, HAL maintains a “cashless society.” All additional purchases made will be charged to passengers’ on-board accounts. These accounts must be settled before disembarking.

When you board the ship, your account will have already been activated and you may make purchases by simply showing your guest identification card and signing a receipt. If you have not done so already online, you will need to register your credit or debit card in order to use your on-board account for shipboard purchases. On the day of sailing, your card will be pre-authorized for U.S. $60 per person for each day, or $840 per person for this cruise. At the end of your cruise, you will receive a final statement, and your card will be charged only for the actual amount of your purchases. Please inform your credit or debit card issuer in advance that your card will be used on a Holland America Line ship. This will help prevent delays in obtaining pre-authorization on board. Some banks may keep the pre-authorization in place for up to 30 days. If you do not want to use a credit or debit card, the ship will collect a cash deposit from you at time of boarding in the same pre-authorization amount. Any excess deposit will be refunded to you at the end of the cruise. Travelers’ checks may be cashed at the front office to make your deposit. Personal checks are not accepted on board.

What about tipping? To whom and how much?

A prepaid gratuity is included in your cruise fare. This gratuity is $12.00 per person per day, or $168.00 per person for the cruise. This will be shared among the Rotterdam’s entire staff. An automatic 15 percent gratuity is added to all bar and beverage service and additional tipping is not expected. It is common, but not required, to tip for personal services such as in your cabin and at the spa. The most common additional tip is to leave a gratuity for your cabin steward and possibly your dining room attendants at the very end of the cruise, if you have received exceptional service. For more info, see HAL Service Charge Info.

In terminals, airports, ports of call, on shore excursions, and at hotels, we suggest that you extend gratuities consistent with customary practices.

Are guests from outside the U.S. able to purchase online?

Yes. International guests will be able to book their cabins online. All credit card charges will take place in USD and be converted to your local currency the day of the transaction.

III. Travel To/From the Cruise

Regardless of who books your air travel, you must send EMI a copy of your flight itinerary. If you book your own travel, you must still provide EMI with your flight itinerary. EMI must provide HAL with travel itineraries for all passengers. This is a legal requirement: you will be denied boarding if you do not provide your travel itinerary in advance. You must provide a cell or other phone number that can be used to communicate with you in the event of travel delays.

We recommend that you purchase airline tickets early. EMI can help you book your flights; see EMI’s website for more information.

When do we leave? When do we come home?

Boarding will begin in Rotterdam at approximately 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 10th; please do not arrive at the terminal before 11:00 a.m. You must be on board no later than 2:00 p.m. We sail at 4:00 p.m. local time and cannot wait for delayed passengers. We suggest arrival in the Netherlands the day before the cruise, or earlier. See below for options.

Upon our return to Rotterdam, disembarkation begins at approximately 8:30 a.m. and will end by 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 24th. Please plan your return flight carefully. While Amsterdam Schiphol is within about an hour driving time of the cruise port, you will need to allow much more time than that for transfers and checking in.

What if my luggage gets lost by the airline?

In the event your bags are delayed, Holland America will make every effort to work with local operators to help your bags catch up with the ship. Please note that some major discount air carriers require that lost or delayed luggage be signed for personally by the owner at the airport. Please check policies carefully before booking your air travel.

Where can I stay in Rotterdam?

EMI has blocked out rooms in a nearby hotel, before and after the cruise. See EMI’s website if you are interested. Rotterdam hotel rooms are not included in your cruise fare. EMI will not book a hotel room for you unless you ask them to do so.

What are the arrangements for travel from airport to ship?

We recommend that you purchase a transfer package from EMI when you purchase your cruise. They will offer a number of options, see EMI’s website for details. These transfers will include luggage handling. EMI will not book any of these options for you unless you request them. Costs for these transfers are in addition to your cruise fare.

Driving distance from the port to hotels in Rotterdam is 3-5 miles or about 20 minutes.

Driving distance from the port to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is 45 miles or a little over an hour.

These times do not include transfer, baggage handling, check-in, or security procedures.

How do I get to Rotterdam?

Most passengers will use Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. We recommend staying in Rotterdam the night before the cruise. EMI airport transfers will be offered from Amsterdam Schiphol only and include transfer to Rotterdam. If you plan to arrive the day of the cruise we suggest your flight arrival time be no later than 10:30am.

How do I get my luggage on to the ship?

They do it for you! Once at the port terminal, you will leave your bags for transfer to the ship, much like you would check bags for a plane flight. There is no cost for this service. Your bags will be delivered directly to your cabin. A similar procedure will happen in reverse when we return to Rotterdam.

When you first get on and last get off the boat, there will be a lengthy period of time when you will not have access to your baggage or to your cabin. Please be prepared with a small carry-on bag to hold the items you need, including all of your travel documents, medications, and any valuables you may have with you.

Whenever your bags are being transferred for you, please be sure to respect deadlines for having your bag ready, properly tag your bags, and re-claim them promptly. In particular, remember that just as at an airport you will always need to claim your luggage in the cruise terminal. It will not automatically be transferred to your hotel.

Is there security screening?

Before embarking the ship, all passengers will be subject to security screening similar to that in any airport.

Will I need a passport?

Yes. See below.

May visitors come aboard?

Sorry, no. Due to customer and safety concerns, HAL has a no-visitor policy. As at most airport terminals, only booked passengers will be permitted past the security check-in point.

What about after the cruise, in Rotterdam or Amsterdam?

EMI will offer you the option of booking a transfer directly to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport if you are flying immediately following the cruise.

EMI has reserved hotel rooms in Rotterdam following the cruise. They would be happy to reserve a room for you and will only do so upon request.

You should plan at least 6 hours travel, transfer, and check-in time to get from the ship to your flight. We suggest booking flights out from Amsterdam Schiphol that leave after 3:00pm. Due to common departure times for return international flights, you may wish to make plans to stay over the night before flying home.

IV. Traveling Abroad

Will I need a passport?

All passengers need passports. No exceptions, including infants and minors. They must be good for six months beyond the duration of the cruise. These regulations are strictly enforced. For more information, see HAL Passport Info.

What about non-U.S. citizens?

All non-U.S. Citizens will require passports and may require visas or other travel documentation. These regulations are strictly enforced. It is your responsibility to determine the required documentation for your particular situation. For more information, see HAL Passport Info.

How do I figure out what I need, for sure?

All passengers are responsible to confirm their individual requirements for travel documentation. We cannot assist you with this. Neither HAL or MPR will be able to assist you if you arrive for the cruise without proper documentation, and you will be denied boarding. Holland America refers their passengers to the following reputable agency, which we suggest that you use:

Visa Central
U.S. citizens: 1-866-788-1100, customerservice@visacentral.com

Do I need shots?

We are not aware of any special vaccinations or immunizations typically required for the areas to which we are traveling.

What languages will be spoken at our ports of call?

In most all cases American English will be a good way to communicate with the people and service providers will we meet on this cruise. The Scots may sound a bit different but we do share a common language. The Norwegians and Dutch we meet on this cruise, for the most part, will speak fluent English in addition to their native language.

What about currency?

U.S. credit cards will be widely accepted everywhere on this cruise. Please note that most European countries generally require you to have a “chip” card, “swipe only” cards will not work at these establishments. If you would like to have some cash in your pocket, it will be easy to exchange U.S. currency for the Scottish Pound, the Norwegian Krone, or for euros in the Netherlands. Always be aware of currency exchange fees.

U.S. credit card companies have become much more vigilant about tracking patterns in use of their cards that might indicated fraudulent use. We have had many passengers whose credit cards stopped working because of their new spending pattern. It can happen without notice, and the usual methods of a company contacting you might not work overseas. Please remember to notify your credit card companies in advance of your travel plans so they can take steps to prevent your card from being deactivated.

V. Entertainment

What will we do on board?

Boredom is not an issue. Never has been, never will be. We will schedule a full slate of musical performances. In the main showroom and in smaller venues throughout the ship, you will have ample opportunity to enjoy your favorite “Prairie Home” performers. There will be sing-alongs and story-telling and gatherings with Garrison. We will add lectures, readings, and other events to HAL’s regular cruise offerings.

The APHC events are in addition to all of the activities you would expect on a cruise ship: dining, swimming, spa services, eating, relaxing, sports, gambling, shopping, eating, entertainment, other special events, and more eating.

When do we attend the evening performances?

Our main attraction on board is the evening performance in the main showroom. These can be similar to APHC broadcast shows, or they can be music concerts, or even shows featuring the various talents of your fellow passengers. Regardless, everyone wants to come see them.

The showroom holds about half of the ship’s passengers, which is why we repeat the show each night. The problem comes when people try to see both shows. This can deny your fellow passengers the opportunity to see the show. So we use a plan that we hope you think is fair.

You will receive a color-coded Holland America ID card. This will identify which show you may attend each night. We are going to check this identification for each main evening show, just as we would take tickets for a regular performance. We will clear the auditorium after each show, and we will not allow people to reserve seats in advance.

Will you publish a schedule of activities?

We are always adding new things to do and fine-tuning the schedule. When you arrive on the ship we will have for you a schedule of activities for the entire cruise. Once aboard, we adjust the schedule daily. HAL and APHC will publish an official daily schedule, which will be delivered to your cabin every morning.

Will I actually SEE Garrison and other performers?

The Prairie Home company members will be guests of Holland America just like you, living in cabins right down the hall or maybe even next door. You’ll see them in the elevators, on the Lido deck, at the buffets and bars, and, of course, on stage. Don’t hesitate to say hi, ask questions, or tell us you loved a particular event. But do understand that we may be running to our next assignment, or just need some time on our own.

Should I bring a musical instrument?

Sure. On this cruise we plan to give our passengers opportunities to play together and we will schedule “jam” sessions with a few of our performers. In casual — purely un-plugged — settings you’ll have the chance to share your musical talents with your shipmates. Acoustic instruments only — Garrison wouldn’t have it any other way!

Will any of the shows be broadcast?

No, but they will be recorded for possible later use. We may create a broadcast from the recorded material.

Will there be opportunities for autographs?

While on board, feel free to ask for autographs at your leisure. We will schedule autograph sessions in coordination with the gift shops on board. Check in with a Prairie Home or EMI staff member on board if you have questions about this.

Will there be APHC merchandise for sale?

Yes. Check out the gift shops on board. We’ll have clothing, books, and lots of music featuring your “Prairie Home” favorites.

VI. Dining

When do we schedule our dining? Can we sit together at dinner?

When you register for the cruise, you will request your seating preferences for dining. EMI will do everything possible to honor seating requests. In most every case you will be able to sit near friends and family (assuming you want to!). You may meet new friends at your table as well. Note that your dining time preference determines which performance of the evening Showroom events you will attend.

What is the difference between early seating and late seating?

The Dining Room and the Main Show Lounge each hold half of the ship’s passengers, so we all need to rotate. Everyone will be assigned a time for dinner, and a time to attend the evening show. We ask that all passengers respect their assigned times. For the performances, we will accommodate additional audience members once guests assigned to that show are fully seated.

We may change the seating times for this cruise from the schedule we have used on previous cruises. Please check back here for an update.

While accommodations can often be made, due to the popularity of our evening shows we will use assigned dinner times: the “As-You-Wish” dining program available on regular HAL cruises will not be used. In all cases, there are many other options on board for dinner if you can’t make your assigned seating.

If I have food allergies or other dietary needs, will the ship be able to accommodate these?

Yes, but you must inform us in advance. You can learn more at HAL Shipboard Life. We hope you’ll agree that HAL has continually improved the variety and quality of their food offerings.

What is the Dress Code?

Because we are chartering the ship, APHC has the freedom to set our own dress-code policies. We are considerably more relaxed than the standard cruise. Sunday-go-to-church clothes is about as fancy as we get. If you like to dress up, please feel free, and many of us may join you.

The only time there will be an actual dress code is in the dining rooms during the evening meal. On most nights, the dress code will be “smart casual.” This means long pants and sports shirt or sweater for men, and skirt or long pants and sweater or blouse for women. We ask that you not wear casual T-shirts, swimsuits, bathrobes, tank tops, shorts, and the like in the dining room. Further, we will designate one or two evenings as “semi-formal.” This generally means sport coat and maybe a tie for men; and a dress, skirt, or pantsuit for women. These nights are an opportunity for you to dress up, and the crew will wear their dress uniforms, but it is not a strict requirement.

May we dine elsewhere?

Holland America offers many other options for dining. You are not obligated to join us in the dining room, although you may want to let your seatmates know you won’t be joining them. Dining options include a private table at the Pinnacle Grill or the Canaletto Restaurant, informal dining on the Lido Deck, and Room Service available 24/7. The Pinnacle and Canaletto options require a modest surcharge—well worth it for the high quality of food, level of service, and atmosphere. Remember that the dining room is a lovely, peaceful, option for breakfast and lunch—and it’s included.

VII. Life Aboard Ship

How do I contact an EMI or APHC staff person? How will they be identified?

We will staff an info table near the front desk. And we’ll all try to wear our ID lanyards.

After boarding the ship, how long before I can get into the cabin?

Boarding for the ship begins several hours before we cast off. You’ll be able to settle in once your stateroom is prepared. HAL has streamlined this process to a great degree but please understand that they have to turn around accommodations for almost 1,400 people in a very short period of time. Plenty of on-board activities will be available while you wait. Make arrangements for your week. And the buffet lines will be open.

An announcement will be made when your staterooms are ready, that’s when you can meet your cabin steward and get un-packed.

What kind of amenities will I find in my cabin?

Cabins on the Rotterdam are outfitted much like a good hotel room. You will find them to be comfortable, nicely decorated, efficient, and clean.

Your most important cabin “amenity” is your cabin steward. You will have two stewards who team up to provide anything you might need while “at home” on the Rotterdam. They are the first people to contact if you need anything like towels or ice or some fruit, and can help direct you to anything on board. And if you’ve never used a European style shower control, let them show you how! They will tell you how to reach them by phone when needed.

All linens and bedding will be supplied. Your bathroom comes complete with towels, toiletries, and your very own onboard bathrobe. You will find ample closet and drawer space, a dressing table, cabin-controlled air conditioning, a variety of cabin lighting, and a television with shipboard programming.

All staterooms are equipped with standard 110 AC and 220 AC power outlets. Personal care items and electronics will work just as they do at home. Hairdryers are available in all staterooms. You may wish to bring a travel alarm clock since they are not provided, although your cabin phone accesses an effective wake-up call system.

For safety reasons, the ship respectfully requests that you do not iron clothing in your stateroom. Ironing facilities are available in the self-service laundry rooms for your convenience. Full laundry, dry-cleaning, and valet services are available on the Rotterdam.

Where can I smoke?

Please note that Holland America has a strict policy of prohibiting smoking in all staterooms. This policy will be enforced on our cruise. Substantial fees will be charged for cleaning your cabin if you smoke inside.

In deference to our performers and your fellow passengers, this is a “non-smoking” cruise with even stricter policies than regular cruises. You may smoke only in designated public areas on the outside deck of the ship. Our cruise designates all interior areas (including all lounges and restaurants) as non-smoking where smoking might be permitted on other HAL cruises.

How can I be reached in case of an emergency?

Holland America has procedures in place for situations that require emergency contact with your loved ones. Find more details at HAL Planning and Advice.

What if I need medical attention?

Fully trained medical professionals are on board at all times, and a complete medical facility is available. Aspirin and seasickness pills are on the house, but you may have to pay for other items or services.

Can I call my friends in their cabin? Can I call home?

Your stateroom comes equipped with telephones that can be used to call your fellow passengers just as in a hotel. They can also be used for ship-to-shore communication, however significant charges apply. Find out more about how this works at HAL Planning and Advice.

Passengers may not see our guest roster and we will not give out cabin numbers.

Will my cell phone work?

Probably not while on board, and possibly while in port — but be careful. Call your carrier for details for your plan. Some carriers include international service, others do not and roaming fees can be exorbitant. When service is provided it might apply to, for instance, texting and data but not apply to calling.

Will I have access to the Internet?

Yes. You may bring your own computer or use ones provided by HAL. You can buy access for surfing the Internet at any point throughout the trip. Wireless is available in some locations and is charged under the same system. Please be aware the prices are high and can add up. See HAL Planning and Advice for more details.

We know that on previous cruises many of our passengers have not been satisfied with the internet service on board. HAL continues to do what they can to improve service. However, a ship on the open ocean will only be able to access a certain amount of bandwidth and there will definitely be service outages. For your information, the biggest problems on our cruises occur when all of us try to get on the internet between leaving port and having dinner.

We recommend that you do not plan on accessing the internet to stream video, hold conference calls, engage in an activity that requires to you to maintain a consistent connection, or any other activity requiring high-quality internet service. You should expect to be able to check your email and keep up on basic social media but there will be times when service is simply not available.

With the possible exception of our more remote stops in Norway, cruise ship terminals on this cruise will have free wifi available. Most cities on this cruise will have shops or public areas with internet service as well.

Can I get married on board ship?

No. This is a private, chartered cruise. No weddings. No divorces, either.

Will there be stuff for my kids to do?

Holland America provides a range of activities for kids through their Club Hal program. See HAL On-board Activities for details. Club HAL is regularly available with games electronic and otherwise, and has daily special group activities. The schedule of events is determined by the number of kids who sail with us; we will include APHC programming in their schedule. The Rotterdam has “the Loft” and “the Oasis” spaces designed for use by older youth and teenagers.

How should I dress for the weather?

We are traveling at a glorious time of year in both Scotland and Norway. June marks the true transition in to summer: landscapes are typically fresh and lush, temperatures are not cold but not yet hot and humid. In port temperatures may be in the high 60-70’s during the day, cooler at night. Days will be long and in some of northern ports we might not see true dark. Weather can change quickly and where we are touring rain is always possible, layers are good and be prepared.

We are traveling over Midsummer, a wonderful celebration with many different national traditions that is especially treasured in Scandinavian countries. The official date for Midsummer in Norway is June 23rd.

When on deck it can always be windy and cool, be prepared for that. Of course, be prepared for rain. Be sure to bring comfortable shoes for walking on deck or on shore.

Should I bring anything else?

If you are interested in “knowing stuff,” you might want to bring along your binoculars and a field guide or three (birds, marine mammals, wildflowers, and geology are just a few). Previous guests have found benefit from bringing a camera, a journal, an instrument, or their most recent knitting project.

What will sea conditions be like?

We could have calm seas. We could have large waves. The ship may glide placidly along with barely a perceptible movement. The ship may rock back and forth, making even the stout of heart (and stomach) reach for the Dramamine. We will probably see a bit of everything. Holland America schedules cruises for favorable weather, something we’ve certainly experienced over the years. It is unlikely that we will experience severe weather and HAL does an excellent job of tracking and avoiding storms as necessary.

VIII. Excursions

You’ll find all the information you need at Shore Excursions.

Booked guests may confirm shore excursion requests in advance of sailing. Once you have your Holland America booking number and cabin number, you may use it to view shore excursion information specific to our itinerary. To complete a booking, please proceed through all screens on the HAL booking page until you receive confirmation from them that your booking is complete.

Before you leave from home, we suggest you make use of a handy feature on the website: you can generate a complete schedule of your cruise that includes your pre-booked activities.

Guests may pre-book shore excursions online until five days prior to sailing. If your departure date is less than five days away, please call Shore Excursions at 1-888-425-9376 to book directly with an agent. All shore excursion requests are processed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Wait-listed requests for sold-out shore excursions will be processed prior to requests made on board. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult over 25.

Excursion cancellations may incur a cancellation fee, and any refund may be issued in the form of credit to your on-board account. Excursions have individual deadlines after which no refund or credit is given. Please refer to Shore Excursions for details.

All excursions are the responsibility of independent tour operators. HAL acts only as an agent to help you book your tours. We have no financial or operational relationship with them. While excursions may be arranged directly with independent operators on shore, you will have limited recourse in the event of an unsatisfactory experience.

All of our ports afford the opportunity to explore on foot at no cost or by local transportation. We will have extra information on all of our ports for you before and during the cruise. Please feel free to set out as you wish.

Wherever and however you explore, be sure to be back on time. Be sure that you are on ship’s time; local time on land can be different. The ship cannot wait past scheduled departure times.

IX. Contact Us

Contact us by email or call EMI at 800-225-5364 x2179.

A Prairie Home Companion Cruise is produced and presented by American Public Media. Ship’s registry: The Netherlands.