Bigger, Bolder, Better?

Holland America introduces Zuiderdam, the first of its new Vista Class

By: Theresa Norton Masek

Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.Holland America Line’s fleet has entered the big time. Literally.

The line, known for midsize vessels, just launched its first mega-ship, the 85,000-ton, 1,848-passenger Zuiderdam. Four more Vista Class vessels are scheduled be delivered during the next four years.

The Zuiderdam was christened Dec. 14 by Joan Lunden, former host of ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America.”

The Zuiderdam is about 40 percent larger than Holland America’s Statendam-class ships but has only 25 percent more passenger capacity.

That gives the Zuiderdam a larger space ratio (45.9) than, for example, the Zaandam (42.2). Space ratio is a measurement of roominess, calculated by dividing gross tonnage by lower-berth capacity.

More than size sets the Zuiderdam apart from the rest of the fleet. The interior is bold, fun and sometimes modern a departure from Holland America’s traditional Old World Dutch design.

The ship has lots of polished aluminum, boldly colored leathers and suede covered walls. Colors include cobalt blue, lipstick red and bright orange.

The ship does, however, still feature Holland America hallmarks such as the Explorer’s Lounge along one walkway near the art gallery and the Crow’s Nest at the top of the ship.

But the differences prompted one Texas travel agent to wonder if Holland America was suffering an identity crisis.

“The general idea was to make Holland America Line younger,” explained Frans Dingemans, the interior designer. “The whole baby-boom generation is coming onto the market.”

Holland America’s target audience is travelers between 45 and 64 years old with a household income of at least $75,000, said Mark Kammerer, vice president of worldwide marketing.

Holland America’s typical passenger is 57 with a $97,000 household income. The average age on cruises of 12 days or longer is 55-plus, although it drops to 44 on summer Caribbean cruises.

The Zuiderdam will be based year-round in Fort Lauderdale, offering seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.

“We will be the only premium cruise ship in the Caribbean next summer,” Kammerer said. “With a ship like this, there is tremendous opportunity for upselling.”

Eighty-five percent of the Zuiderdam’s staterooms have ocean views and 66 percent have balconies.

A new addition is the Deluxe Veranda Outside category, which Holland America created as an affordable upselling option. Those rooms measure 200 square feet with a 54-square-foot balcony.

The Deluxe Veranda Outsides are priced from $1,179 per person, double.