Self-Guided iPod Art Tours Debut on ms Westerdam

Art appreciation goes high tech

By: Ana Figueroa

Art appreciation has gone high tech on Holland America Line, where self-guided art tours using handheld iPod devices debuted on ms Westerdam July 30. Tours of the unique art and antique collections on each of the line’s five-star ships together valued at tens of millions of dollars will be available fleet wide by the end of 2006.

The iPod Art Tours mark the first time that a cruise line has offered museum-quality self-guided tours to its guests.

“These self-guided tours are just the latest addition to our constantly expanding on-board enrichment programs,” said Richard D. Meadows, CTC, senior vice president of sales and marketing. “The tours highlight the most interesting, historical and accessible pieces of art and antiques to provide greater depth and context, and give our guests a truly rewarding experience.”

Guests interested in a tour simply sign out an iPod free of charge and peruse the ship at their leisure, returning the device when they finish. In addition, the tours will be available for download to a home computer or handheld device from the Holland America Web site. Narrated by well-known radio hosts Paul Lasley and Elizabeth Harryman, the 40- to 50-minute tours include walking directions, interviews with artists, background music and photo images displayed on the iPod screen to help guests locate each piece. For convenience, tours are confined to the main public decks to facilitate casual, unhurried strolling from piece to piece.

Each tour begins with a welcome message from Holland America Line President and CEO Stein Kruse and includes comments from ship architect/designer Frans Dingemans, as well as others associated with the line’s art program. Two artists whose work is featured fleet-wide, Susanna Holt and Stephen Card, also provide insight into their artistic inspiration.

Although the tours only cover an estimated 20 percent of the art and antiques on each ship, at the end of each tour the narrators encourage guests to participate in a kind of scavenger hunt by suggesting they seek out a list of pieces not included on the tour. On the Westerdam tour those include tea caddies made into boxes, carved Meerchaum pipes and a cardboard chair by artist Frank Gehry.