that Orlando Ashford - a newcomer to the industry - has been President of
America Line for more than 10 months, Cruise Week asked him to share his
vision for moving the brandforward.
In response, Ashford points to a press conference held earlier this year in
introducing the new Music Walk concept on the upcoming ms Koningsdam.
introduced the Music Walk in a more energetic way to set the tone that Holland
wants to maintain over the coming months and years.”
The event was an upbeat affair that featured performances fromB.B. King’s All Star Band and a
display to highlight HAL’s relationship with the Lincoln Center forthe Performing Arts.
The end result?
“People said, ‘Where am I? Is this the Holland America press conference?’”
So there’s a new vibe at the cruise line, but Ashford emphasizes that it’s not
a total brand makeover evenwith
the 2 newer and larger Pinnacle-class ships coming in 2016 and 2018.
“I want to maintain some of the elements that have made Holland America great
for 142 years, so that our core guests and our loyal guests don’t feel like
we'removing away from what makes
us great. However, I also want to do some of those thingsbigger and better.”
says some of the changes that kick off withKoningsdamwill migrate to therest of the fleet over time, and that
HAL’s “energy level” is going to be on the rise.
He knows what people say about Holland America clientele and understands thereasoning: “Clearly a person that has
the time to do a 30 or a 60 or a 114 day cruise tends to be at a certain age,
because those people have had that time.That's
something that I want to attract.”
Nevertheless, he says, “I definitely don't want to be perceived as the cruise
line for old people.”
What does he want? “I want to be the cruise line for people that want to touch,
feel andtaste destinations in a
European-elegant, classic, timeless way, with wonderful music,wonderful food and elements of fun,
however subdued or exciting you want them to be.”
says one of the biggest lessons he has learned is that HAL customers love the
line’s offerings. “My "A-ha" moment with this company as President
was the deep affinity that our customers,our
guests, have for our product,” says Ashford. “And it's not just, ‘Yeah, I
like it.’ It’s like‘This is
To explain, he points to his experience travelling for a week on the Grand
World Voyage. During that time [CEO] Stein Kruse and I spent a lot of time with
a lot of our Marinersand we did
a town hall in the theatre on the ship. In my mind, I think, ‘well these people
areon vacation, they don't want
to see the President of the company or whatever.’ But that thingis packed! I mean waiting room, people
are there early so they can get a good seat. They'rebringing their cameras because they want to
He puts this in perspective. “I've been travelling for a long time. I've never
stood in line tomeet any CEO
from any of the brands that I travel with, hotels or airplanes. But they werethere. And there with very personal,
passionate questions. Things like ‘I like this tea bag.Why'd you change the tea bag?’ Or ‘I
like this flavour of butter.’"
Ashford concludes, “It's probably an industry thing,
but it's definitely a Holland Americathing with our guests.”