Holland America Announces BBC Earth and AFAR Partnerships, Suite Update (VIDEO)

afar destination guide on the holland america website

At a recent press conference in New York City Holland America Line announced a slate of new initiatives for the line. 

Holland America will beef up its destination content both onboard and on its website with new partnerships with BBC Earth, AFAR Media and Utrip. Additionally, the line is launching a $300 million update for all suites on its Signature-, Vista- and R-Class ships. The line also introduced a new logo that is similar to the old version, but simplified. 

BBC Earth

The BBC Earth program is set to roll out across Holland America Line’s fleet starting in April 2016 and will be on all ships by September 2016.

With BBC Earth Holland America will offer a live onboard concert specially adapted for the line based on the “Frozen Planet” program, which will take guests on a journey into the majestic wilderness of the polar regions. The production will feature “Frozen Planet” footage and be accompanied by live musicians.

On all ships, guests will also be able to enjoy enrichment activities, including a game show on the natural world and BBC Earth theater screenings with special introductions by the film crew behind the programs.

For children, there will be an on-board explorer trail, fun workshops, and BBC Earth animal and dinosaur fact shows. Young guests will also have the opportunity to try their hand at being a journalist.  

Guests who want a deeper BBC Earth experience can join a featured theme cruise that will include access to the creators of BBC Earth shows who share their behind-the-scenes stories of how the programs are made and conduct master classes in their craft. Younger guests will also have the opportunity to have film workshops with the BBC Earth YouTube team. Featured cruise dates will be announced at a later time.

AFAR Media Partnership

Off the ship, Holland America has also teamed up with AFAR Media to create "Destination Guides" for all of Holland America's ports of call and scenic cruising areas, approximately 400 total. 

The Destination Guides will be available on Holland America Line’s website. AFAR will use its network of local experts to curate the content, providing travelers with recommendations for top attractions, restaurants and shopping experiences in each destination. Each guide will contain an overview of up to 20 top picks to see and do in the area; recommended restaurants, cafes and markets; and boutique shopping suggestions.

Through a collaboration with the software platform Utrip, guests will be able to personalize content in the new Destination Guides. Guests will be able to browse the information on their own or use the Utrip functionality to select desired ports of call, highlights and activities ashore. They will then receive customized recommendations on the line’s cruise itineraries, port highlights, as well as shore excursions tailored to their interests.

Guests can save specific ports of interest and also either use a pre-determined profile or a personalized one created with interactive sliders covering History, Art and Culture, Food and Drink, Nature and Outdoors, and Contemporary Life to gain these recommendations. 

For each destination, Utrip searches top-pick attractions, local dining and shopping options for the best match to personal preferences. Interactive maps allow users to see the location of each suggestion and click for additional information. The interface also will make recommendations for Holland America Line group shore excursions based on preferences.

Users can save the recommendations to their profile so they can easily find them when they are ready to book their cruise.

Suite Upgrades and Renovations

Holland America's new suite upgrade program will see enhancements to the furnishings, décor and amenities for all suites on the line's Signature-, Vista and R-Class ships. The first ships to undergo the suite transformation will be Eurodam and Oosterdam, followed by Nieuw Amsterdam, Westerdam, Zuiderdam and Noordam. Additionally, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Volendam and Zaandam will receive the suite enhancements as they head into their scheduled dry docks over the next few years.

Eurodam's refit is scheduled for December 7-20, 2015 at Freeport, Bahamas. Oosterdam will be in dry dock April 3-18, 2016, at Fincantieri’s yard at Palermo, Sicily.

The main living area in each suite will get a new sofa, lounge chairs and deck chair. The suites will also get a new headboard, carpet and wall coverings, as well as new soft goods that include a privacy curtain, drapery, bed runner and bed skirt. The desk, dresser, nightstands and makeup vanity will get new quartz stone tops, and the line will add new vanity lighting. 

In terms of electronics, Holland America will add a new USB outlet to the bed's headboard, bedside LED lights, upgraded electrical outlets and a lighted closet rod aimed at making it easier to select outfits in the morning. Suites will also get a fully new interactive television system, with complimentary movies on demand and access to the daily program and shipboard information, including restaurant overviews, spa services and guest billing.

Suite bathrooms also will receive a makeover. A wall of designer glass tile serves as a backdrop to the new vanity area that includes new stone tops, modern faucets and under-mount sinks. Other enhancements include new contemporary mirrors with integrated side-by-side LED lighting, new floor tiles, and a nightlight.

Starting in January 2016, all suites across the fleet will receive new amenities. Currently, suite guests receive priority embarkation, disembarkation and tender service; exclusive use of the Neptune Lounge for Pinnacle and Neptune Suite guests; private breakfast service in the Pinnacle Grill; and complimentary laundry and dry cleaning services. New additions include a premium duvet, superior bathrobes and slippers, Bose docking station, binoculars for use during the voyage, complimentary mimosas with in-suite breakfast and an in-suite coffee and espresso machine. 


Update on Koningsdam

During the press conference Holland America Line also reviewed the latest information on its new ship, the Koningsdam, which is set to debut in April 2016. 

The new vessel will offer the BLEND winemaking program. Developed in collaboration with Washington State winery Chateau Ste. Michelle, the venue will enable guests to blend their own wine and enjoy it at dinner or in the privacy of their stateroom.

In terms of new entertainment offerings, the ship will sport the new World Stage main theater, which will have such production-enhancing equipment as 270-degree state-of-the-art panoramic LED screens. The flexible space can have multiple stage configurations, ranging from in-the-round, to the more conventional proscenium staging, and will initially host five new productions performed in repertory by a cast sourced from around the world. Guests will also be able to enjoy The Music Walk complex, which will include B.B. King's Blues Club and the Lincoln Center Stage

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