Ok, it’s not the Australian open. Yet. But Holland America is backing pickleball as the next sporting sensation and used it to launch its Australian season in Sydney.

Standing on the sports deck of the Nordaam, Ryan Taibel, Vice President of Sales and Partnerships showcased the pickleball court – and even played a match himself.

For those that don’t know, pickleball is a sport that has surged from nothing to a growth rate of 20 per cent a year, with four teams in the Pickleball Australia Association. In America, it is the nation’s fastest-growing sport, taking over tennis spaces and causing the two games to compete.

Many cruise lines have pickleball courts – but it is only now coming into its own. It’s slower, easier to play and you can fit four pickleball courts into one tennis court.

So what is pickleball? Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong using a paddle and plastic ball with holes. There is a net and a small court. It is a game that is appropriate for players of all ages and rules for pickleball are simple.

Bill Gates is an advocate, despite the games strange terms: Pickleball phrases include “dink” (a soft shot hit on a bounce), “kitchen” (part of the court) and “skinny singles” (a two-person drill). Players are sometimes called “picklers”.

To underscore that link, Holland America gave guests at the season launch jars of pickles and pickleball paddles.

Noordam is back

The line’s season will last until April, 2024 and the newly refurbished Noordam will sail close to home between Australia and New Zealand.

“At Holland America Line we pride ourselves on our perfectly sized ships, our attentive service, modern hallmarks mixed with old world charm,” says Taibel.

The line has been celebrating its 150th Anniversary – and those “modern hallmarks mixed with old world charm” are evident all over the Noordam.

Life on board includes musical shows, jazz and two specialty restaurants, a large spa and gym.

Artworks, including an eclectic mix of statues and paintings, are everywhere giving the ship real character.

Half its passengers will be Americans, but the line has developed a strong following in Australia – particularly for its Alaska sailings, where it has lodges and combines sea trips with trains and stays.

For more see hollandamerica.com