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HAL teams with Utrip, AFAR, BBC Earth to enhance cruise planning, activities

Travel authority AFAR Media will provide online Destination Guides to give travelers personalized content via the Utrip platform
A bevy of new Holland America Line brand partnerships will help travelers plan and personalize their trips and have a deeper connection with the destinations they visit.

A collaboration with software provider Utrip will create a comprehensive and interactive planning and discovery tool, while travel authority AFAR Media will furnish destination content. And a partnership with BBC Earth will offer exciting activities and programming.

Integrated into HAL's website, the Utrip platform will enable personalized content in Destination Guides created with AFAR Media. Cruisers will be able to browse the information on their own or use the Utrip functionality to select desired ports, highlights and activities ashore. They will then receive customized recommendations for cruise itineraries and port highlights, and shore excursions tailored to their interests.

'Our guests want to experience destinations in their own way, and through our partnership with Utrip they can now personalize their trip in a fun and engaging way, as well as make more informed choices about what to do and see ashore,' HAL president Orlando Ashford said at a media briefing at the Explorers Club in New York.

Utrip simplifies searching through HAL's thousands of cruise itineraries and shoreside activities by enabling travelers to narrow down their options and save specific ports and interests. These are recommended by either a pre-determined profile or a personalized one created with interactive sliders covering History, Art and Culture, Food and Drink, Nature and Outdoors, and Contemporary Life.   

For each destination, Utrip searches top-pick attractions, local dining and shopping options for the best match to personal preferences. Interactive maps allow users to see the location of each suggestion and click for additional information. The interface also will make recommendations for HAL group shore excursions based on preferences.

Another facet of the Utrip platform will enable users to find cruises visiting specific ports and regions without having to sort through dozens of itineraries in the area. For example, if a traveler wants to visit Europe and explore Spain, Italy and Monaco, and more specifically Barcelona, Rome, and Monte Carlo, Utrip might recommend Oosterdam’s 12-day 'Mediterranean Rivieras' voyage on May 24 or Eurodam’s 12-day 'Mediterranean Tapestry' cruise departing July 5.

Users can save the recommendations to their profile so they can easily find them when they are ready to book their cruise.

BBC Earth, meanwhile, will bring fun and factual entertainment to HAL ships, taking travelers closer to the ocean and natural world through concerts, films, shows, children’s activities and theme cruises.

The BBC Earth program is set to roll out across the fleet starting in April and will be on all ships by September.

Ashford said the exclusive partnership will give travelers a deeper connection to the destinations they visit.

A highlight of the partnership will be a live concert specially adapted for the line based on the 'Frozen Planet' program, which will transport viewers to the polar regions. The production will feature 'Frozen Planet' footage and be accompanied by live musicians.

Other programming will include a game show uncovering the 'weird, wonderful and obscure' in the natural world and BBC Earth theater screenings with special introductions by the film crew behind the programs. For junior cruisers, there will an on-board explorer trail, workshops and BBC Earth animal and dinosaur fact shows.

A deeper BBC Earth experience will be offered on a theme cruise that gives access to the creators of BBC Earth shows who'll tell how the programs are made and conduct master classes in their craft. Younger cruises will get to take film workshops with the BBC Earth YouTube team.

Cruise dates will be announced at a later time.