Holland America’s next new 2,662-passenger ship, third in the line’s Pinnacle-class series, will be named Ryndam when it debuts in May 2021.
In a nod to a long line of the company’s ships of the past, Orlando Ashford, Holland America's president, announced the “naming decision” to cruise media, including Travel Agent, attending a pre-Seatrade event on Nieuw Statendam Sunday at Port Everglades, FL.
A Beloved Name
That ship name has a storied history with Holland America. The first Ryndam was part of the line’s fleet from 1901 to 1929, starting as the Dutch Rijndam before being adjusted to the English spelling in 1923. In 1927 that first Ryndam became the first Holland America Line ship to sail a world cruise, although it was chartered as a floating school at sea for that voyage.
The second Ryndam served from 1951 to 1973, and the third – and coincidentally, this reporter’s ship for her first-ever ocean cruise -- sailed in the fleet from 1993 through 2015, when it was transferred to sister brand P&O Australia; it now cruises as the Pacific Aria.
Ashford told reporters that the line had a lot of discussion and debate about the new ship’s name, and there was even a suggestion that “maybe we should get away from using ‘dam’” for the end of the ship’s name, something that’s signature to the brand.
“I said I will not be the person to do that,” Ashford stressed. “I can only imagine the letters that I would get” from loyal customers. So, he said, the line decided to stick to a name that was traditional and reflects 146 years of rich history.
The 99,500-ton Ryndam, sister to Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam, will feature enhanced Pinnacle Class amenities and innovations. That said, Holland America – always careful to satisfy its fiercely loyal past guests – says it will also retain many Holland America Line hallmarks that drive one of the highest guest repeat rates in the industry.
“Holland America Line honors the timeless tradition of cruising while also embracing new innovations for today’s travelers, and the name Ryndam reflects the unique story of this company while honoring previous ships that were progressive in their time, as this last Ryndam will be,” said Ashford. “From the first Ryndam more than 100 years ago to the most recent, the namesake ships have been beloved by our guests. The next Ryndam will bring new life to one of the most notable series of vessels in our history.”
Steel cutting for the new ship was on March 13, 2019, at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Marghera, Italy. Ryndam is the 17th ship the Italian shipbuilder is constructing for Holland America; it most recently delivered Nieuw Statendam.
Honing the Messaging
During the event onboard Nieuw Statendam Sunday, Ashford showcased the line's culinary offerings within Pinnacle Grill and its entertainment, both on the ship's main stage and in the Rolling Stone Rock Room -- continuing to hammer home the key differentiators he sees for his line within a crowded industry.
Ashford also unveiled a new video/commercial that focuses on those differentiators. The commercial says: “To all of you who want go karts, laser tag and waterparks, may we suggest another cruise line. To all of you explorers looking to discover…To all of you foodies looking to indulge…To all you music lovers … may we suggest your next cruise. We’re Holland America Line. We’re not for everybody, but we might be perfect for you.”
After Ashford showed the new commercial to reporters he said that while thrill rides and amazing waterparks work for some line, that’s not what Holland America is about and that it was very important to be “very clear about those things that make Holland America great and to double down in those areas.
“We are what we are, and there are other cruise lines who do other wonderful programming and that’s great,” said Ashford. “But for those who want to see the world, connect with those other destinations in a special, meaningful way, that really want a culinary experience that takes it to the next level, and those that really love live music, Holland America Line is the cruise line for you.”
He talked about Club Orange, the new dining venue, and other Club Orange benefits that provide a bit of an elevated onboard experience for guests; it's complimentary to suite guests on the two Pinnacle-class ships, and the line also allows a small number of other guests to pay for the experience. When introduced on Nieuw Statendam, most guest feedback was positive, he said, but a few tweaks did need to be made.
Now, “this is something we’ll be launching across the balance of the fleet,” Ashford said. It allows the line to have large ships, but creating settings within a large ship “that allow for intimate customer interaction and support.”
Overall, Ashford said “our guests are definitely telling us that we’re on track with what we’re doing.” He also said it’s not about demographics, and young people, too, are finding the line’s differentiator points; these are explorers, foodies and music lovers.