Jason Leppert | May 26, 2016 12:00 PM ET
Can Holland America Line Appeal to Millennials?
There are several misconceptions surrounding cruising, but one in particular is that Holland America Line is only for old people. Yes, traditionally the line has catered to a more mature clientele, and you are likely to find a fair share of wheelchairs and walkers onboard to this day. However, the average age of its passengers decreases annually, and there are things even for millennials to enjoy onboard too, especially on the line’s newest Koningsdam.
In recent history, Dancing with the Stars: At Sea was a partnership with the hit television show that opened the doors to appealing to multiple generations, and it worked. Even though that program has since expired, several new partnerships have sprung up in its place, such as with BBC Earth. But perhaps the single greatest example of the brand targeting younger crowds is the Koningsdam itself.
To be sure, Holland America Line is not specifically marketing to youth, but rather a psychographic of globetrotting intellectuals, regardless of age – a point made by Eva Jenner, vice president of North America sales. Nonetheless, the Koningsdam represents a culmination of new ideals that broaden the brand’s scope in ways that millennials like myself are sure to take notice of.
Loyalists have no fear. Holland America is not abandoning its roots by any means. In fact, taking into account the new Grand Dutch Cafe venue, the Dutch heritage is even more in play than before. Paintings of famous ocean liners from the fleet’s past are also still on display, and favorites like the Pinnacle Grill steakhouse, Queen’s Lounge and Culinary Arts Center (now separate spaces) and Crow’s Nest observation lounge have all returned.
What hasn’t been repeated, thankfully, is the dark and golden decor nor the antique art collection. In their place are pleasantly lighter interior design and a modern art collection, both inspired by music. The ship is still rich and luxurious looking but with no aesthetic oppression. The Dining Room is particularly more open and airy than in the past. Even the crew uniforms have been tweaked — they now sport a soft gray accented with an unexpected but lovely vibrant orange.
But where the ship really starts to speak to my younger senses is in the World Stage theater. The space has been pared down in size a bit to be encircled by an impressive 270-degree video wall that also happens to measure in at 270 feet. The high-definition visuals essentially explode from the central stage out into the crowd, as do immersive sounds. The effect is really quite stunning and doesn’t take away from the live singing and dancing, which are also very good.
The music also rocks onboard across three venues that collectively comprise the Music Walk stretch of the ship. The Queen’s Lounge has expanded to two decks to host the ever popular B.B. King’s Blues Club, reprised from previous ships in a more befitting volume. This is a seriously talented group of musicians featured here that bring a hot groove to Holland America Line. Billboard Onboard similarly showcases dueling piano tunes, and Lincoln Center Stage elevates the line’s chamber music to a whole new level of sonic prowess.
Add in excellent cuisine from the gourmet burgers at Dive-In to the new Sel de Mer seafood specialty restaurant, and Holland America Line is on to something special, a formula it intends to extend to the rest of the fleet and repeat with the just-named Nieuw Statendam, set to come out next. There are a couple of things that need to be worked out on the next ship and hopefully the Koningsdam soon enough too – namely the drifting cigarette smoke pollution from the casino down to the Music Walk and some overcrowding – but all in all, the ship and the future of the brand are winners, for all ages.
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