New Cruise Vessel Breaks "Old" Image
Holland America Line’s latest vessel Koningsdam was moved to its outfitting dock at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard in Italy this week.
Koningsdam represents a new Pinnacle Class of ship for Holland America Line, and when it sets sail on its premier voyage April 8, 2016, it will debut several innovative concepts and new public venues.
Orland Ashford became CEO of the company in December last year, and he says it is one of the challenges of the job to take the company’s cruise experience where it needs to go in the future whilst still respecting the brand’s 140 year history.
“Leveraging the past and preparing for the future is particularly challenging when you have such a long history and people have such a strong affinity with it. The connection to the brand is an asset. It is great to have that long history of people who really love us and what we do, but it also means they are ultra-sensitive to any of the tweaks and changes that we need to make for the future,” says Ashford.
“People think about European elegance, timelessness, the ability to relax and connect around intriguing destinations, around food and around entertainment that’s appropriate to our target audience. Those are the things that we’ve done and done really well for a long period of time.”
The line has a loyal group of people that like to travel and experience their destinations. “There is a difference between a vacationer and a traveler and I think travelers are attracted to Holland America,” says Ashford. “People have tried to put words like “old” against our brand, and I don’t accept that. It’s not an age thing. It’s an attitude thing. There are people that have the time or the financial resources to be able to experience and explore the world. The Holland America experience lines up with that, and those people maybe have worked longer and have more time, but it’s not about being old.”
Asford wants to enhance some of the partnerships the line has, such as that with Le Cirque restaurant, and he wants to find new partnerships to modernize the cruise experience. As a result, Koningsdam will have a new French seafood brasserie Sel de Mer. There will also be a new immersive farm-to-table dinner experience in the Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine. The casual Lido Market will be re-designed. The ship also will feature Holland America Line's first purpose-built staterooms for families as well as single cabins among its 1,331 guest accommodations.
To bring a fresh vision to Koningsdam, Holland America Line tapped Adam D. Tihany, one of the world's pre-eminent hospitality designers. Tihany joins distinguished maritime designer and architect Bjorn Storbraaten who worked with the cruise line on Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam. The two firms will create an interior that blends a fresh, contemporary styling in perfect harmony with the line's renowned classic elegance.
Holland America Line has already ordered a second Pinnacle class ship which is scheduled for delivery in late November 2018. It will accommodate 2,650 guests and 1,025 crew. The new as-yet-unnamed ship will also feature new public spaces and venues.
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