I just had a great opportunity to spend time on the new Holland America Koningsdam…and what a DAM ship it is!
I met Orlando Ashford just about 18 months ago when he first joined the company. We were on his first cruise and he was all eyes and ears. The President of one of the most historic brands in the business, had never been on a cruise before… I remember talking with Orlando and how intrigued he was with the BB King lounge onboard and how he loved music. We talked about the HAL customer, many of the perceptions by the cruising public and the travel consultants selling the product as well as the need to get a better price for what truly is a wonderful product.
Two things occurred to me during my time on that cruise (my first HAL experience). One, HAL had a perception problem for sure. Consultants who didn’t actively sell the product would say jokingly that the 140 year old brand only catered to those who were 140 years old. Seeing the product (hardware and software) I quickly knew that it was a false perception that needed to be overcome. Additionally, my new view of the Holland product needed to be reconciled against the other premium products in the market – namely Celebrity and Princess. How do consultants best identify the right customer for the right product?
While onboard Koningsdam, I saw the continuing of the evolution of the HAL brand, a newer “hipper” brand, with wonderful spaces, lounges, and music.
The Koningsdam certainly feels more contemporary that her sister ships, while still having many of the wonderful parts that previous HAL ships have boasted. More dining facilities, more drinking stops and lots of different music around the ship.