HAL Plans Signature of Excellence Upgrades for Five Ships

September 2, 2008
Holland America will spend an additional $200 million for further Signature of Excellence upgrades to five of its S- and R-class ships. The enhancements are part of an ongoing project to modernize the line's older vessels.

Beginning in spring 2009 and continuing for 18 months, Holland America will send Maasdam, Rotterdam, Ryndam, Statendam and Veendam to dry dock to receive a series of enhancements to cabins, pool decks and entertainment options.

Here's what's on tap:

The aft pool areas will be altered to include the resort-style Retreat, which will feature a shallow pool area with lounge chairs over the water, a new pool bar and an upscale pizzeria.

Cabin upgrades include new decor, carpeting and soft goods. Each ship will receive 44 to 46 new staterooms -- 32 balcony cabins and the rest inside cabins. In addition, designated cabins will become "spa staterooms" with enhanced spa amenities, and 42 outside cabins will become "lanai staterooms" with doors that open directly on Deck 6's walk-around promenade.

Public rooms are also getting a makeover. A high-end jewelry boutique and a video game room will be added. The casino and piano bars will be reconfigured into a new space called Mix, featuring a redesigned casino and three bars -- Martinis, Champagne and Spirits & Ales (reminiscent of NCL's Bar Central). The main show lounge will be redecorated to offer a nightclub feel, and the Ocean Bar will be refurbished.

A dedicated Explorations Team (consisting of a party planner, travel guide, dance director and technology expert) will be formed to offer a variety of onboard enrichment programs, such as cooking classes, flower arranging lessons, dance instruction, and photo and blogging workshops. Longer cruises will also have a book club leader.

Veendam will be the first ship to receive the upgrades; a concrete schedule and order is yet to be determined.

--by Erica Silverstein, Associate Editor