Holland America Line’s $225 million “Signature of Excellence”
overhaul will impact virtually every aspect of the 12-ship
“This is about the future of our company and everything we stand
for,” said Stein Kruse, the line’s newly appointed president and
chief operating officer. “A quarter of a billion dollars is a lot
of money, and we’re not spending it lightly.”
The overhaul is designed to improve the line’s premium product,
adding some touches commonly found on luxury liners such as
exclusive shore excursions and bathrobes in every stateroom while
incorporating new features that have been appearing on many other
cruise lines, such as more dining times and early embarkation.
The makeover will center on what Kruse calls five pillars:
dining, accommodations, service, activities and destinations.
“This is our opportunity to take lifestyles, trends and exciting
concepts that are out there today and introduce them on our ships,”
Kruse said. “We want to make sure we stay fresh and on the cutting
edge of what people are looking for.”
The work will begin within weeks and take 24 months to complete
fleetwide, he said.
The first ship to have all the elements in place will be the
Ryndam in September, Kruse said. Some changes will be rolled out
immediately, such as the addition of new hair dryers, premium
mattresses, thicker towels and bathrobes.
The line will institute four dining times for evening meals
tentatively set for 5:45, 6:15, 7:45 and 8:15 although tables and
times will still be assigned.
“It will allow us to reduce the lines getting into the dining
rooms, improve the flow of seating passengers and allow
smaller-batch cooking that ensures even more freshness and
refinement of food,” Kruse said.
One major change will be the elimination of the much-heralded
“no tipping required” policy. Holland America will go the route
adopted by most lines adding gratuities to shipboard accounts where
passengers can adjust them. Tips also will be automatically added
to individual bar tabs.
“We proclaimed the ‘no tipping required’ policy, but what we
managed to create is confusion,” Kruse said. “Everybody tips, and
they like to know who to tip and how much to tip. We had gone out
of our way not to help them.
“What we’re doing now, and we haven’t decided exact details and
amounts, is to say tipping is optional but it’s going to be more
conveniently taken care of. Inclusion of bar tips is also new, but
it will allow us to not increase bar prices.”
Some major hardware remodeling is also called for, including the
creation of a Sidewalk Cafe/ Exploration Center along the wide
hallways on the port side from the dining rooms forward. Currently,
a series of rooms are along that corridor, including the library,
puzzle corner, Internet Center and card room.
“Picture an elegant Starbucks with a Borders or Barnes &
Noble-type location,” Kruse said. “We’ll have the same things but
in a much, much different environment.” Wireless Internet
connections and CD listening centers also are slated to be
Another new feature will be a Culinary Arts Program, which
includes courses in a new cooking classroom incorporated into the
Wajang Theaters. Partitions will separate the cooking demonstration
area when movies are shown on the full screen.
Meanwhile, the line’s private Bahamian island, Half Moon Cay,
will gain new activities, such as horseback riding, a stingray
lagoon experience, a children’s water park and a designated area
for using power watercrafts.
More details about the enhancements will be announced in the
next few weeks.