HAL Announces Retrofittings

Onboard the MS Westerdam—Off the coast of southeastern Alaska for Holland America's reward cruise for its top producers, or Centurions, Travel Agent learned that HAL plans to retrofit its three Vista class ships—the Oosterdam, Westerdam and Zuiderdam over the next 18 months. The line plans to fit the ships with the same amenities as the class' newest addition, the Noordam. The changes will include an expanded aft pool deck; 35 additional staterooms and 16 verandahs; flat-screen T.V.s and DVD players in each room; the construction of a Pinnacle Bar, an upscale lounge focusing on champagne and wine; and an Explorations Cafe, a "Barnes and Noble-meets-Starbucks" library/coffeehouse/Internet cafe formulated in conjunction with the New York Times Co. In other news: Holland America officials announced a plan to undertake an ambitious and far-reaching refurbishment the three vessels in the Windstar fleet over the next 13 or so months. One by one, the Wind Surf, the Wind Spirit and the Wind Star will enter drydock for five-week intervals, during which they will receive the upgrades. HAL officials, though, remained mum on the specifics of the promised renovations, saying about the Centurions, that "they were getting a sneak-peek of what's to come." HAL officials did allow, however, that the work would concern, among other things, changes in staterooms and public rooms, and be completed by fall 2007. "They'll still be sailing ships," says Diane Moore, vice president of marketing and sales for Windstar. "They're very yacht-like and they'll remain that way." Meanwhile, Windstar is augmenting its sailing program with additional Greek island voyages in 2007. It is adding a new Istanbul-to-Athens itinerary, and returning the once-popular Rome-to-Venice itinerary back into the mix. New ports of call include Kocula, Palamos, Taragona and Valencia, says Moore.