A Coming-Out Party

Holland America shows off the first Vista-class ship to visit the West Coast

SEATTLE Holland America Line recently threw a coming-out party for the Oosterdam, and Western travel agents turned out in waves to see the guest of honor. During the first week of May, Holland America showcased its 1,848-passenger luxury vessel with onboard gatherings in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. This marked the first West Coast visit of a vessel from the Vista class, Holland America’s largest ship category.

During the Oosterdam’s West Coast tour, thousands of agents got a chance to size up such facilities as a golf simulator, art gallery, Internet cafe, Neptune Lounge for suite guests, and expansive Greenhouse Spa and Salon. They attended seminars designed to help them sell more cruises, and they sampled the ship’s cuisine and entertainment.

In Seattle, agents were invited to spend the night, getting better acquainted with stateroom features like roomy balconies, computer dataports and DVD players. Holland America executive vice president David Giersdorf called the festivities “high-touch,” allowing the line to show off its product while building personal relationships with travel partners.

“Our new Vista-class ships offer exciting amenities that will be extended to the rest of our fleet, so it’s important for travel agents to see them,” he said. “These events create continued excitement for Holland America, and they’re good for the cruise industry in general.”

Launched last summer in Europe, the Oosterdam has been reassigned to the West Coast. It now is operating Alaska cruises from Seattle through September. After spending the upcoming winter season in the Caribbean, the Oosterdam will return to the West Coast.

Starting Jan. 22, it will call San Diego home through April 30, operating seven-day Mexico cruises after which it will return to Seattle for another Alaska season. The Oosterdam returns to San Diego on Oct. 1, 2005, for a fall and winter season of Mexico cruises.

Giersdorf said he expects the Western U.S. to play an increasingly vital role in Holland America’s success.

“The Oosterdam is our third ship to be based year-round on the West Coast (along with the Ryndam and Statendam),” he said. “We’re responding to demand.”