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Gus Antorcha on what makes Holland America Line different

Longer itineraries like the new 'Extraordinary Voyages' are a differentiator of Holland America Line, President Gus Antorcha said. One of those is the 53-day 'Majestic Japan'
'We've really leaned into itineraries' as one distinguishing factor of Holland America Line, President Gus Antorcha said, along with service, making for 'genuine connections.'

'Our guests love longer voyages,' according to Antorcha, so the line is providing many more of them.

In the Caribbean, where there's a lot of seven-day cruise capacity, HAL is shifting to more voyages of nine days and up. This year, its Caribbean 12-day capacity is up 41% 'which gets us to the ABC Islands and Cartagena.' HAL also has doubled the number of itineraries longer than 50 days.

New 'Legendary Voyages'

And, in the 25- to 59-day category, the new 'Legendary Voyages' span great expanses yet many leave from, sail to or go round-trip from a US homeport, easing the air travel headache.

'Air travel is tough,' Antorcha said, adding Holland America has 'wonderful,' wide-ranging round-trips from homeports like San Diego, Port Everglades, Seattle and Boston.

Examples of 'Legendary Voyages' include the 53-day 'Majestic Japan' with 13 calls throughout the country and overnights at Yokohama and Kobe, among 21 ports total. The cruise sails round-trip Seatte, first calling at Alaska destinations before delving into Japan and returning home via Hawaii.  


'A little fire and ice'

'I give you a little fire and ice' along with Japan, said HAL's Paul Grigsby, VP revenue planning and analytics.

The 28-day 'Coral Triangle, Volcanoes and the Great Barrier Reef' explores 10 ports in five countries, with scenic cruising of the Great Barrier Reef, Torres Strait and the Kumba and Krakatau volcanoes. The cruise sails round-trip Singapore across a region 'teeming with coral life and cultures.'

This itinerary was 'designed with a marine biologists and I added some volcanoes including Kumba, which is like Stromboli and goes off every 25 minutes,' Grigsby quipped.

Grigsby and Antorcha addressed media on the eve of Seatrade Cruise Global during a presentation aboard Nieuw Amsterdam at Port Everglades today.

Purpose statement

Antorcha said Holland America Line recrafted its purpose statement to this: 'We make travel personal for our guests through expertly crafted itineraries, extraordinary service and genuine connections that create exceptional experiences, every time.'

So he highlighted the line's 'personal, anticipatory service' and 'perfectly sized ships in the sweet spot' of offering a variety of dining and entertainment options while also being able to get into places bigger vessels can't, such as Montréal.

75 years in Alaska and 150th anniversary

In Alaska, the line has 75 years of experience— longer than Alaska has been a state — more Glacier Bay permits than any other line and land programs that give access to Canada's Yukon Territory. A new 28-day 'Arctic Circle Solstice' combining Alaska and the Arctic, round-trip Seattle, is also an ''Legendary Voyage.'

During this, Holland America Line's 150th year, commemorations will take place in April in Rotterdam, where the line was founded. The city has digitalized the passenger lists of ships carrying emigrants so people will be able to more easily research their family history.

First Alaska season with certified all-sustainable seafood

Sunday's Nieuw Amsterdam media event also had Seattle Chef Ethan Stowell for a salmon cooking demonstration, highlighting that the coming Alaska season will be the first where Holland America is third-party certified as serving only sustainable Alaska seafood.

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Ethan Stowell, left, with Rudi Sodamin aboard Nieuw Amsterdam

This is a big deal, according to Stowell, who's also a member of HAL's Culinary Council assembled by Master Chef Rudi Sodamin, who will be taking part in Seatrade's new F&B@Sea this week.

It's challenging to trace seafood sourcing, Stowell said, adding: 'In my opinion, it leads to a better product for guests.'

HAL hopes to expand the sustainable seafood sourcing to its ships in other parts of the world, such as Norway.