Holland America Enhances Onboard Enrichment Program (Part 2)

| June 15, 2009

Lectures, special classes and other novel ideas improve the onboard experience.

This new Exploration Team concept will be implemented fleet-wide.

Other changes coming to Holland America's entertainment program are more extensive and require drydocks to complete. A new theater concept, "Showroom at Sea," will require a makeover of the main show lounge, providing a larger dance floor with moveable tables and chairs. The room can be configured for specific events, from large-scale production shows to intimate cabaret-type performances. The moveable tables and chairs will allow for an expanded dance floor during performances by the resident HAL musical groups.

High-tech entertainment is also coming to the HAL fleet over the next several years. An elaborate interactive video game area will be provided in a new venue called the "Sky Room," perched high above the ship. This new venue will feature several "rooms within a room," offering plenty of space for both players and observers.

New Entertainment Options Holland America is also standardizing its musical entertainment to make it more consistent throughout the fleet. Several musical groups will cater to a variety of musical tastes, and will play in various venues -- from the Crow's Nest bar and Ocean Bar to the outdoor pool deck during sailaway gatherings. The HALCats will be the resident eight-piece party band, providing accompaniment for stage shows and playing favorites from the '60s, '70s and '80s throughout the ship. The Neptunes, a three-piece combo dance band, will offer a wide variety of old standards from artists like Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra. They will most often be playing in the Ocean Bar, which will be completely refurbished.

Addaggio, a string quartet with a viola, cello and two violinists, will mainly be found performing in the Explorer's Lounge, playing light classical music selections. They will occasionally offer soft musical accompaniment during special luncheons and dinners in the main dining room as well.

Not quite a luxury product, but not a mass market one either, HAL has chosen to forge its own unique path. While other lines build bigger, glitzier ships with more bells and whistles for an active cruise experience, HAL focuses more on the cruiser who wants a relaxing, though stimulating, vacation experience. While other cruise lines feel bigger is better, HAL offers mid-sized ships packed with nooks and crannies that encourage guests to relax and get to know fellow passengers in a more intimate setting. Even the line's newest vessels, such as the ms Eurodam, are not significantly larger than the existing Vista Class ships (Zuiderdam, Oosterdam, Westerdam and Noordam).

Holland America is not the cruise line for everybody, and as a new travel agent I wouldn't recommend it to all my clients. But for those who want a relaxing vacation with a variety of interesting and stimulating activities for the whole family, HAL can't be beat. Its ships offer an elegant, uncrowded ambience; the largest ones carry a maximum of about 2,000 passengers, the smaller ones significantly less. Holland America provides considerable variety in its ships and itineraries, offering some destinations the larger lines don't. While HAL operates the standard shorter sailings, it also has a number of longer, more exotic voyages all over the globe. In addition to a yearly World Voyage, the line offers several "Grand Voyages" that explore one specific region in depth, such as South America or the South Pacific.

As HAL reinvents its cruise product, its ships are not losing their traditional identity. Once a company known for an older passenger base, HAL is becoming better known as a family-friendly line. With expanded children and teen programs, including the Loft and Oasis "hang outs" that are strictly off-limits to adults, HAL is attracting more families. This new menu of expanded onboard entertainment and "edutainment" is taking the line one further step to ensuring that there is something fun and exciting for every member of the family.

So if you're looking for a more laid-back vacation experience this year, or just want a break from the "hot and happening" environment of the larger ships, with their rock walls, bowling alleys and ice skating rinks, then take a fresh look at Holland America. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you'll find.

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