Going Dutch: A look at the Holland America Line

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Holland America Line's enviable Dutch heritage stretches back 140 years and their fleet of spacious and comfortable ships, and worldwide range of destinations, has continually evolved to ensure they cater to the changing needs of their guests.

Their newest ships Koningsdam, which launched in 2016, and Nieuw Statendam, which is due to launch in December this year, feature a number innovations with plans to introduce several of these to the rest of the fleet.

There's been a considered effort to go beyond the standard offering with the introduction of the America's Test Kitchen, offering live onboard cooking shows and hands on workshops; and Blend, where up to 10 guests can create their own wine under the guidance of the ship's wine expert. This small group focus can also be seen in the entertainment with duelling pianists hosting fun, interactive evenings, and the Lincoln Center Stage showcasing outstanding live chamber music on an intimate stage.

Going Dutch HAL - MS Koningsdam, Test kitchen

Most interestingly Holland America Line have been working to increase their destination focus, launching Exploration Central (EXC), a collection of talks, encounters and guides all designed to incorporate elements of the area in which you're travelling into the on board experience. Guides provide insight about everything from good manners and simple phrases, to the best tours, most popular sites and insider tips.

EXC Encounters allow you to play steel drums with musicians from Trinidad or practice Tai Chi with a Chinese master. Informative EXC Talks help deepen your appreciation of each new destination with the kinds of tales that only locals know.

A selection of crafted Culinary EXC Tours ashore, some in partnership with FOOD & WINE, offer the chance to make pizza in Naples, explore a family owned vineyard in Santorini, or discover cutting edge "neo-Fjordic" cuisine in Bergen.

This destination focus can be seen in the exciting new itineraries on-board Maasdam's EXC In-Depth Voyages in the Pacific, Asia and the Indian Ocean where world-renowned experts, local scholars and customized Zodiac tours will be used to immerse guests in the experience.

Going Dutch HAL - MS Maasdam, dining room

Voyages between 12 and 34 days are enhanced by a variety of themes for in-depth exploration, on board and ashore, including photography; nature and science; food, wine & spirits; history and perspective; arts and culture; and active exploration.

Offering soft adventure on-board a ship of 1,258 guests will present certain challenges but these tours are designed to complement the Exploration Central programme and activities and Holland America Line are confident in their ability to deliver.

Going Dutch HAL - MS Maasdam

There are a few other changes on-board as well, with an emphasis on the destination on-board learning and evening entertainment will reflect the local culture instead of mainstage production shows. America's Test Kitchen is being replaced with local chefs, locally sourced ingredients and local traditions to enhance the culinary offerings.

All this helps to re-centre the Holland America Line offering on to the destination which is so often the driving force behind the reason people travel, so it's exciting to see the developments

Alex Loizou
Meet the author

Director of Sales & Marketing at Mundy Cruising

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