(3:15 p.m EDT) — Holland America Line is looking to its future, partnering with travel publication Afar, Seattle-based trip-planning company UTrip, and BBC Earth to create a more authentic travel experience for its passengers. Calling the ventures a "bold new story," Holland America president Orlando Ashford revealed the line’s plans at a press conference at the Explorer’s Club in New York City today. In conjunction with the line’s partnerships, Ashford also unveiled a new oval logo featuring the traditional blue hull of their ships, with a new brand theme: "Savor the journey."
As a 142-year-old cruise line, Holland America has to reflect on where it is today, Ashford said, adding that upon reflection the line decided a new brand identity was key. "Classic is about passing the test of time and remaining relevant — leaving room for modern twists."
At the core of the line’s changes is the effort to deliver "enriching journeys" to its passengers. "Our guests are destination-driven and enjoy authentic experiences," said Ashford. After more than a year of research on its customer base, cruise line executives concluded that following potential passengers through the cycle of "dream, plan, choose, prep and anticipate the journey" helps the line offer expert content and personalization so passengers can customize their experiences.
The new Afar destination guides will provide exclusive digital content tied in to Holland America’s existing website and will provide information on 32 ports to begin with, expanding to 400 unique ports, with up to 20 "authentic recommendations" for top attractions, shopping experiences and more in each port. Shore excursions shown on the site will be tied in with the new destination content and the recommendations given during trip planning.
The partnership will "elevate the way we interact with guests and deliver a meaningful experience," added Ashford. Afar content will go live on the Holland America website beginning in 2016.
The company’s linkup with UTrip also is intended to help Holland America passengers tailor their experience in a fun and engaging way, Ashford said. Through the partnership, passengers can build their perfect trip using the line’s regional and port pages. Users build their cruise trips by choosing from premade itineraries or adding ports to their wish list. Users that create a wish list will get cruise recommendations from the UTrip program.
Additionally, Holland America will replace its Dancing With the Stars onboard program with a BBC Worldwide partnership to strengthen onboard enrichment through BBC Earth programming. Beginning April 2016, onboard happenings will include live music concerts, big-screen viewings in the theater, master classes on topics such as wildlife or photography, Q&As with talent and an interactive BBC quiz show. Kids can take part in "Walking with Dinosaurs" activities, editing their own video clips with a BBC YouTube team. Featured sailings with travel experts will also be offered throughout the year.
In addition to updating its onboard experience, Holland America has plans to refurbish its entire fleet.
"This is not a new ship story, it’s a fleetwide story," Ashford said speaking of the upcoming new-build Koningsdam, set to launch in April 2016. Holland America plans on investing $300 million in its existing fleet of 13 ships between 2016 and 2018 — $40 million of which will be dedicated to suite enhancements. Eurodam will undergo dry dock this December, followed by Oosterdam in April 2016.
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