Last updated: 10:45 AM ET, Wed February 24 2016

Holland America's Innovative Partnerships

BBC Earth, Afar magazine and Utrip programs are designed to draw guests of all ages.

Vacation Agent | Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Brian Major

Holland America's Innovative Partnerships

With the lone exception of its sister company Cunard Line, no contemporary cruise ship operator can boast the long and distinguished history tied to Holland America Line. The company was founded in 1873 as the Netherlands-American Steamship Company, a passenger and cargo line.

In the years since, the company has transformed into one of the world’s premier premium-class cruise lines, but the ties to earlier generations have led some to believe that Holland America serves mainly elderly guests.

Holland America officials have implemented a series of measures to emphasize the cruise line’s diverse facilities, amenities and services designed for travelers of all ages. In recent years, it gained new passengers through an onboard dance contest in partnership with TV’s “Dancing with the Stars,” which featured the professional dancers and celebrity contestants from the show. The line also showcases bands from B.B. King’s Memphis nightclub and has assembled a culinary advisory panel of recognizable celebrity chefs.

Now, as Holland America expands with the 2,650-passenger Koningsdam in April and a sister ship in late 2018, it is introducing several innovative concepts and public venues while continuing to feature popular guest amenities long associated with the line.

The new options will extend to cuisine, as Koningsdam guests will have the opportunity to enjoy fine dining in alternative restaurants, including Sel de Mer, a new French seafood brasserie; Canaletto, an Italian restaurant; and the pan- Asian eatery Tamarind. Koningsdam’s Culinary Arts Center – a fully equipped demonstration kitchen for hands-on classes – will feature an interactive farm-to-table dinner experience presented by Food & Wine magazine.

WATCH: Here’s Why You Should Take a Cruise

Onboard entertainment will also feature a new and creative format with the debut of a Music Walk area featuring multiple musical genres showcased in venues including Lincoln Center Stage, which will offer nightly chamber music, and Billboard Onboard, featuring rock musicians playing chart-topping hits. Music Walk also will include a B.B. King’s Blues Club in Koningsdam’s Queen’s Lounge.

Holland America is also reaching out to tech-savvy, younger cruise vacationers via several new partnerships. The company is partnering with award-winning broadcaster BBC Earth to bring ground-breaking concerts, films, shows, children’s activities and theme cruises to the Holland America fleet. BBC Earth’s innovative programming will highlight the natural world, especially the ocean, bringing guests closer to the environment.

“Holland America Line cruises are all about experiential travel and venturing to all corners of the globe, and this exclusive partnership with BBC Earth will make that a richer, more rewarding experience for our guests,” says Orlando Ashford, Holland America’s president.

The partnership will be highlighted by a live concert specially adapted for the line based on the “Frozen Planet” program. The production will take guests on a journey to earth’s polar regions via Frozen Planet footage accompanied by live musicians.

The program will also feature a shipboard gameshow designed to uncover aspects of the natural world, with introductions by the film crew behind the programs. Holland America’s BBC Earth program will also offer fun activities for kids, including an onboard explorer trail, workshops, and BBC Earth animal and dinosaur fact shows.

WATCH: Preview of Koningsdam's Cabins, Suites and Dining Room

Guests can opt for a Holland America theme cruise featuring access to the creators of the BBC Earth shows, who will share behind-the-scenes stories about their programs and how they are made. Kids will also have opportunities to participate in master classes taught by the BBC Earth staff, and join film workshops with BBC Earth’s YouTube team.

The program will debut aboard the first Holland America ships in April and will expand to the rest of the fleet by September. “No one else in the cruise industry is offering the depth of quality content that BBC Earth will bring to our ships, and we hope this program will give our guests a deeper connection to the destinations we visit,” Ashford says.

Another partnership, this one with consumer travel magazine Afar, is designed to enrich the cruise vacation experience for all guests when visiting ports of call. The publisher is making up to 400 of its Destination Guides available on the Holland America website. Ashford said the program is designed to provide travelers with third-party expertise. Moreover, the program reaffirms Holland America officials’ view that cruise ship destinations remain key, Ashford says, and the Afar data will help guests uncover authentic shoreside experiences.

Finally Holland America has also partnered with software company Utrip to introduce an Internet tool that allows users to cross-reference cruise itineraries, port and shore excursion information, and match their favorite vacation activities and desires to customize travel itineraries.

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Vacation Agent Magazine

A version of this article appears in print in the February 2016 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.