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Why does Holland America allow US travel agents to sell their American and Canadian clients 0% single occupancy supplements when these deals are denied to UK or other European customers?

I am a solo traveller resident in the UK and when looking to book a cruise holiday I am, like all other solo travellers, keen to avoid the high supplements applied for single occupancy of double cabins. I am reasonably savvy when researching cruise websites and I am registered with several UK companies that offer the ‘singles’ bargains.

I am also registered with a couple of US travel agency websites that also have cruise ‘solo specials’. Just over a month ago I received a solo newsletter from one of the US websites offering many 0% discount single occupancy cruise only offers. Most of these were Holland America cruises with itineraries from 7 days to 30+ days in all parts of the world.

One in particular appealed, a 32 night Holland America cruise from Buenos Aires to Fort Lauderdale departing 18 March 2015 on the Zaandam for $2599 (US dollars). This was based on single occupancy of an inside cabin. I contacted the US travel agency to book and I was told it was not possible to do so as Holland America stipulate that anyone booking ANY Holland America cruise through them or any other US travel agent must be resident in the USA or Canada. This was a condition imposed by Holland America. If however I had previously travelled on a Holland America cruise then this condition would be waived and I would be allowed to book via the US agent. The US agents were most apologetic because Holland America would not remove this clause. They stressed that this was a corporate policy instituted by Holland America and they (the travel agents) were very disappointed in the restrictions placed upon them and all other US travel agencies.

I then contacted the UK offices of Holland America and was quoted about £3600 (sterling) for exactly the same cruise. Well over twice the price being quoted by the US travel agent. I asked why these offers were not made available to customers in the rest of the world. The young man I spoke to at the UK offices of Holland America was flustered and unable to give a satisfactory explanation regarding the double standards applied.

I then wrote to Holland America's customer services detailing all of the above and asking why they discriminated against passengers from the UK and Europe. A week later I received a brief (and rather pathetic) reply using an analogy that certain items such as prescription medicine and laptops may be more expensive to purchase in one part of the world than another and inferring that the same logic applied to cruises.

Having failed to answer my point regarding prejudice against passengers from the UK and Europe, I wrote to Holland America again, asking them for a satisfactory answer. They did not reply. Two weeks later I sent yet another letter to them. This time they replied that as well as residency restrictions their policy related to the currency used to purchase the cruise and that in North America the currency used would need to be US or Canadian dollars. They continued, and I quote, ‘Holland America Line and its agencies have invested significant resources and effort to develop effective sales and marketing programs focused on consumers in the geographic area that each agency serves’). Surely that therefore means that their sales and marketing strategy in the UK is inferior to that in the USA!

Ten days ago I wrote to them for a fourth time pointing out that I have a US bank account and can pay for the cruise in US dollars. They have again failed to reply.

At the time of writing, 2nd March, the US travel agency website has 42 advertisements for Holland America cruises with 0% supplements for North American customers. Forget all the corporate tripe and techno babble spewed by Holland America. WHY do Holland America not allow anyone to purchase their cruises via the USA travel agencies or alternatively release 0% supplement single occupancy cruises to its European customers via European travel agencies.



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Staff member
I sympathize with you. There are a lot of differences between USA bookings and our's here in Canada across the cruise lines also but nothing like you folks across the pond. Its a wonder they do any business in Europe. I do think that HAL is/has joined other lines in adding solo cabin for new builds but perhaps they are saving them for the majority. (North American Customers)

I guess the answer is the market.