PHOTO: Explorations Central rendering as on Nieuw Statendam. (photo courtesy of Holland America Line)
CORRECTION: As more details have been revealed about Rudi's Sel de Mer, the dining experience will be featured on six ships, not the entire remaining fleet as originally reported.
Holland America Line recently provided more details about its upcoming Explorations Central, (or EXC for short), as well as announcing a few other news items during a media tour aboard the Koningsdam. This news comes in advance of the annual Seatrade Cruise Global conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The new EXC venue will transform the Crow’s Nest observation lounges on several ships beginning with the Westerdam in May 2017, which will also be the first to feature the brand’s partnership with the Rijksmuseum.
The Koningsdam will also receive EXC, which will serve to better accentuate the destination, as well as all ships since the Vista-class from the Zuiderdam onwards. Others in the fleet will feature the experience to some degree too but in different locations onboard. Thus, the bulk of the fleet will soon have EXC experiences, including lighter versions aboard the fleet’s R-class ships.
As for the newest ships, a temporary mockup of features on the Koningsdam gave us a clearer sense for how the space will be converted. Renderings illustrate how EXC will elevate the observation lounge experience straight from the shipyard aboard the upcoming Nieuw Statendam when it launches in late 2018.
Using the Koningsdam’s existing Crow’s Nest as a jumping off point, the current Explorations Cafe and library space will be remade into The Hub, with the coffee bar becoming a new EXC Tour Desk for booking shore excursions.
Not to worry though, the Explorations Cafe presented by the New York Times will only be displaced around the corner to where the regular bar is now.
The Hub will then encourage discovery via interactive table screens for exploring destinations and even future cruises, which will also be reservable there. Content on the Westerdam will first showcase the Mediterranean for its deployment in the region, and library books will still be available throughout on the subjects of history, geography, food, art and culture.
Additionally, there will be another large digital screen asking guests questions about their location preferences for more interactivity.
Also front and center will be an interesting Virtual Bridge with panels displaying real-time navigation data in an easily digestible interface for guests to quickly be brought up to speed on what the ship’s officers are doing below. Extending farther forward aboard the Nieuw Statdendam will be a convex bulging section of glass-enclosed observation space, pictured in the header image above, for unique views as well.
READ MORE: What Holland America Line’s New Explorations Central Means for Cruising
As all of these new elements will exist with a newfound emphasis on the destination, so too will programming feature cultural experiences such as lectures and discussions in Theater EXC (on the port side of the ship), or local encounters that can also be configured in the round or with tables for crafts. Of course, a specific team of experts will oversee all interactions and help guide guests on their journeys.
What’s more, it was revealed on the Koningsdam that the popular Sel de Mer specialty restaurant will roll back to a portion of the remaining fleet as a popup dining experience called Rudi's Sel de Mer, named after Master Chef and Culinary Council Chairman, Rudi Sodamin. The new dining experience will launch this year on Nieuw Amsterdam March 31, Oosterdam May 11, Eurodam May 24, Westerdam June 12, Noordam October 2 and Zuiderdam November 10.
Plus, the line’s partnership with America’s Test Kitchen will be on the entire fleet by the end of the year, when Music Walk will also be aboard six ships.
READ MORE Holland America Line Steps Up Its Marketing Game with New Commercials
Lastly, in 2017 Holland America Line is celebrating two anniversaries: the 20th of its Half Moon Cay private island and the 70th for its sailings in Alaska.
For the first, there will be a beach party during every call to the destination as well as other perks that have yet to be announced. For the second, BBC Earth will showcase a new show this summer, and Master Mixologist Dale DeGroff has concocted a signature Midnight Sun cocktail for guests to enjoy.