Using a series of mock-ups, HAL president Orlando Ashford and vp entertainment and enrichment Bill Prince, explained to media how EXC Explorations Central will work and look.
Features include EXC Tours, EXC Destination Guides, EXC Channel, Theater EXC, and a full EXC Team to engage with guests on a daily basis in the Hub at Explorations Central.
The space also will feature a virtual ship’s bridge where real-time data from the actual bridge is shared with passengers from a unique vantage point.
The EXC shipboard center will debut aboard Westerdam in April 2017 and will be rolled out across all of HAL's larger ships, namely from Zuiderdam onwards, said Prince reeling off all the ship's name and including Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam arriving in 2018.
For the older ships in the fleet, some of the elements will be added but feature, in other venues. By 2019, the bulk of the fleet will have EXC onboard confirmed Ashford.
Asked if the Explorations Central will alter the ambience of the Crow's Nest, 'The Crow's Nest doesn't disappear. It's enhanced,' Ashford said.
Passengers will still find the sweeping views, coffee bar, library and space to relax he told Seatrade Cruise News. In the evening, alcohol beverages will be available.
The EXC guides will provide informative talks, field questions and host local visitors in engaging encounters with passengers up until 8pm every evening.
Through EXC Encounters, local cultural representatives will come on board before the ship reaches the next destination to build anticipation for the adventures that await.
Passengers might learn how to play the steel drums from a Trinidadian or make a flower lei with a native Hawaiian.Informal, small-group gatherings hosted by the EXC guides will feature language and cultural etiquette lessons, discussions about local items and products, and participatory programs covering music and dance and storytelling sessions.
Online EXC Port Guides using tips and information from AFAR Media provide exclusive handbooks for each destination. Passengers can create a personalized journey based on their interests in a variety of subjects.
Printed EXC Port Maps present an uncluttered view of port highlights.
The EXC Channel on stateroom television will air curated films, documentaries and shows exploring destinations on the itinerary.Ashford said EXC's key theme is authentic, personal experiences.
In other news for the brand, Ashford confirmed in addition to being the first ship to feature EXC, Westerdam will also see the first Rijksmuseum at Sea, created by Rijksstudio installed in May 2017.
Also by the end of the year, all ships in the fleet will see the Shipboard Culinary Arts Centers transformed to replicate the America’s Test Kitchen TV shows, hosted by HAL chefs trained by America’s Test Kitchen culinary experts.