Each major cruise line has their own unique things that separate them from the others. Carnival has FunShips, Royal Caribbean likes to “Wow” their guests and Norwegian is all about Freestyle cruising. Sister-line Princess Cruises, probably the closest match to Holland America in onboard experience comparing line to line, has their share of unique elements, as do many other lines. Here are a few things we have found to bee unique aboard Holland America.
Sanitation Supreme, With A Smile
During the first 48-hours of each voyage, Holland America limits the contact that incoming guests have with utensils in the buffet area. In fact, areas of the ship’s Lido deck dining venues are roped off and have crewmembers standing by, between the guests and the food, charged with serving passengers.
Ship’s officers don’t shake hands for this same reason, which is something to get used to for sure. The reason (passing germs from one person to another) is noted up front to avoid any embarrassing moments when greeting senior staff.
Returning to our cabins after dinner we find not only the bed turned down and the cabin straightened up but a sanitized bathroom, like deep-cleaned, each time.
Safety First, Neatly
A safety drill is held at the beginning of every sailing on all major cruise lines. The mandatory gathering of passengers at their muster stations is serious business too. Passengers who try to skip it might be disembarked with no refund or way home.
On Holland America they come closer to simulating an actual drill in an interesting way. Rather than scan boarding cards with a system requiring electricity that might not be available in a real emergency, a crewmember calls out the passenger names and checks them off a list. It’s a brilliant plan if for no other reason than those passengers in attendance must pay attention and listen for their names to be called.
A Unique Take On Branding
Six unique entertainment venues are aptly matched to appeal to guests on the ship. There are no big name entertainers attached to them and while other programming on the ship partners with big names in technology, travel and cuisine; entertainment is all on the crew here.
That’s significant in an era where cruise lines are differentiating themselves from one another in unique ways. On Holland America’s Oosterdam which we are sailing this week, onboard entertainment offerings are a good fit for a diverse group of passengers.
We’re seeing couples, singles, families, multi-generational families and more enjoy a live pre-dinner violin and piano duo in the ship’ Explorer Lounge, close to the main dining room. High up on top of the ship at the Crow’s Nest observatory and lounge, a solo guitarist performs. A dance party at the Queen’s Lounge venue has Ben and the HALCats doing three shows throughout the evening. At the ship’s Piano Bar, a themed evening brings the Best of the Beatles in song and drink with a moderately priced Yellow Submarine cocktail. All that is in addition to a headliner in the ship’s Vista lounge that does two shows a night, coordinated with dining times.
In other words, it is as though the movers and shakers at Holland America looked around, saw this entire branding business going on and said:
“We already know who we are.”
After just two days on Holland America, our first sailing on the line, it is quite apparent that they know their guests and know what those guests want. Perhaps they also said:
“We’ll wait and see how all this branding business shakes out before we go crazy reinventing ourselves.”
Since this industry-wide focus on branding is so very strong, we’ll wait to get deep into this topic as it pertains to Holland America until after fully experiencing what they have to offer. For now, it is clear that on this one ship, with the passengers that are on board right now, Holland America has their number, knows what they want and is delivering. That’s a darn good start.