After 148 years of cruising, it’s safe to say Holland America Line has it down to a science. The cruise line is one of the most popular of all Carnival Corporation brands and fans around the world can’t wait to get back onboard. With new ships and itineraries coming in the near future, things are certainly looking bright.
CEO of Holland America Line Gus Antorcha recently joined Porthole Cruise Magazine Founder and Editor-in-Chief Bill Panoff to discuss the latest news with his cruise line, including the line’s new “Have It All” package aimed at guests who want to enjoy all the perks of a cruise vacation.
Interview with CEO of Holland America Line Gus Antorcha
The biggest hurdle facing the cruise industry is the Conditional Sail Order implemented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which places what many consider to be impossible mandates for cruise lines to follow. As a result, cruise lines have shifted focus away from U.S. ports in favor of regions like the United Kingdom and the Caribbean. Antorcha explained that Holland America Line is looking hard at where and when they can get going once again.
“We are looking and planning on how we restart outside of the U.S. I think every cruise line is doing that, honestly and you’ve seen some, most recently the announcement of Seabourn, and we’re evaluating restarts outside of the U.S.” he said.
Is the Conditional Sail Order Feasible?
The Conditional Sail Order may be a guideline for cruising’s return, but many see it as a defacto no-sail order because of the many requirements and guidelines cruise lines would need to follow in order to get the green light to sail again.
When asked his thoughts on the CDC’s restrictions for cruise lines, Antorcha was clear that under the current requirements, a restart won’t be possible.
“The industry is working hard as an industry to try to get further clarification from the CDC so that we’re able to restart in the U.S. I think at the moment, given the direction, it’s not feasible,” he said.
Do Guest Want an All-Inclusive Cruise?
Despite the pause in operation, the team at Holland America has been working hard behind the scenes to ensure that when cruising does return, they’re ready to offer their loyal fans and new customers alike the best possible cruise experience. One of those changes is a new “Have It All” premium package aimed at one of the most popular trends in cruising – all-inclusive.
“We’ve taken the pause in operation to look at what we do, how we do it, how we can improve. I’ve spoken to a lot of the different stakeholders, out team members, our trade partners and then guests, I had calls all over the world because we source a lot of international guests as well as U.S. guests, and I listen to feedback. This came out as one of the stronger asks, particularly from our past guests as well as the trade. The segment we’re in, luxury premium, has moved more toward all-inclusive and we’ve done aspects of this promotionally, but the feedback was it would be good to have something that’s evergreen, something that’s out there based on what guests ask,” he explained.
Holland America recently announced new sailings in Canada and New England as well as longer voyages around the world that prior to the pandemic, were hallmarks of the Holland America experience.
“The niche kind of areas that we really distinguish ourselves in as a brand is Canada and New England. You know we’ve added longer voyages, as you know that’s a hallmark of the brand, we’ve added longer voyages we call voyage of the vikings so they make their way over Iceland and parts of Europe, it’s 30+ day voyages. Those sell out very quickly, and so it’s a particular geography that over the years the brand has really distinguished itself in and has a very loyal following of guests.
148 Years of Cruising
Antorcha was asked about Holland America’s celebration of 148 years in operation and the significance of that milestone.
“148 years is quite an achievement. There are very few companies, certainly in the cruise space, no one’s had that kind of longevity. We did events, small little gatherings appropriately physically distanced on board our ships. I was actually on board one of our ships as well, I visited Niew Statendam in Port Everglades so I spent some time with the team and looked over the ship. So we did a small internal recognition of that achievement. I’d love nothing more than being able to celebrate it on board and if we resume cruising here shortly, we will have some special events over dinners or ways to recognize that achievement,” he said.