At a series of special preview opportunities this week in Boston and New York City, travel agents, members of Holland America's past-passenger organization, and journalists got a peek at the just-completed Noordam, which officially launches today.
What's significant about the 85,000-ton, 1,848-passenger ship is not so much that it's the fourth (of four) in the line's Vista-class series of vessels. It's that in this, the final evolution of the Vista concept -- the most contemporary of all Holland America ships -- it's got some funky new features of its own.
Noordam was still in construction stages when Holland America began refurbishing its older ships under the Signatures of Excellence initiative, so new additions like the Exploration Cafe/New York Times partnership, upgraded stateroom amenities, and menu and service enhancements were all incorporated into the ship's design. It also has an all-new feature; the Pinnacle Grill, the American Northwest-themed alternative restaurant, has got a stand-alone bar of its own.
Passengers wanting to tour the ship's fantastic art collection (absolutely do not miss Stephen Card's gorgeous oils highlighting cruise ships of yore) can borrow preloaded I-Pod Nanos and embark on a narrated self-guided art tour (alas, you have to give the I-Pods back).
Noordam, says Holland America president Stein Kruse, "is evolutionary, not revolutionary. However, we do try to stay on the cutting edge."
Also noted, at a press conference onboard on Tuesday, were the cruise line's efforts to upgrade features and facilities for disabled travelers. Indeed, hearing-impaired ship godmother Marlee Matlin, who was present, chimed in with praise for a telecom device in her cabin that offered a flashing light for a doorbell, and closed and open captioning on the television set. "I felt extremely comfortable being in my cabin alone," she said via sign language.
For more details on what's new, funky and different about the new Noordam, stay tuned for our "sneak preview," which debuts next week.