(9:45 a.m. EDT) — Holland America Line will be adding a number of new features on its next Pinnacle Class ship, including a new restaurant.
The changes that will come are based on passenger feedback and observations by crew onboard its newest ship, Koningsdam — the line’s first Pinnacle Class ship – which launched April 8 in Europe.
Speaking at a press conference onboard Koningsdam’s third cruise, Hotel Director Don Habets said: "There’s going to be a choice of new things in the pipeline, including a new restaurant."
However, he was unable to give further details on where it would be on the new ship — which is due to launch in 2018 — nor what type of cuisine.
Habets also said new restaurant Dinner at the Culinary Arts Center was struggling to become known as an alternative dining venue, as regular HAL passengers assumed it was just a show theater, as it is on the rest of the fleet.
"People don’t understand the concept. We haven’t been able to market it properly. We started off with two sittings and now we’ve gone for one sitting and made it open to walk in."
He added that despite that fact that "unlimited wine" was included in the $39 per person cover charge, it wasn’t enough to convince people.
Similarly, in Blend, where passengers get to blend their own wine and take the bottle, people were unaware that the wines retail up to as much as $80 per bottle — making the $129 charge good value for an hour’s demo: "We need to create the value statement," he added.
New restaurants and concepts which are doing well include Koningsdam’s French-style brasserie, Sel de Mer, where a trolley showcasing the fresh fish has led to an increase in bookings; and Music Walk, where passengers can listen to several types of music on deck 3 — jazz and blues at BB King’s Blues Club; pop and rock at Billboard Onboard and classical at the Lincoln Center Stage.
Cruise director Jonathan Rogers confirmed that the Le Cirque "pop up" restaurant in HAL favorite The Pinnacle Grill was being phased out; Librai — a three starred Michelin restaurant in Holland by Jonnie Boer — would still happen on longer cruises.
Other changes could include removing the staircase connecting the Lincoln Center with the Casino Bar due to noise issues; better signage for new eatery New York Deli & Pizza and tweaking prices in Blend and Dinner at the Culinary Arts Center.
Rogers added that HAL’s partnership with BBC Earth will be incorporated in kids’ programing, the main theater shows, Lido deck screenings and trivia, and would be rolled out across the fleet after being launched on Koningsdam.
Captain Emile de Fries said he had been talking to passengers onboard to get a feel for how they liked the ship. "When I talk to passengers in the first two days they are onboard, they tell me it feels very different from other HAL ships….It has a distinctly different feel [than the other ships] but it’s also very familiar. That’s where the balance lies."
Rogers added: "The first comment I usually get from passengers is: ‘The ship is too big’, but this is a big ship with a small ship feel.
"We’ve built an enormous ship for HAL standards, but we’ve right-sized the venues. It’s new and updated, but it’s still HAL."
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