HAL’s Eurodam: The Simple Joys Of A Pure Renovation
Many of today’s ship renovations carry hefty price tags, but too often the very soul of what renovations represent is hijacked by spending big sums to create new revenue-generating areas. Eurodam’s recent renovation, however, represents an exception to the trend.
In modernizing this 2008-built ship, Holland America is not focused on tearing down spaces to add pricey alternative restaurants. Instead, the emphasis is more basic: making the ship fresher in look and more current in tastes.
A case in point are the improvements to Signature and Neptune suites. Both are graced by new soft goods, furniture and quartz counter tops. Add to that large-screen TVs featuring complimentary movies, new balcony furniture and redone bathrooms.
None of that is very sexy-sounding. Furthermore, amenities like Bose docking stations and coffee/espresso machines in the Neptune suites aren’t going to garner headlines because in print they come across as yawners. But they do make for satisfied customers as the spaces are infinitely more appealing. It’s also the type of thing travel agents can effectively pass along to clients.
There are subtle changes too. One example is stylish new headboards on beds, accompanied by new USB outlets and bedside LED lights. Another example: neutral-coloured wall coverings that quietly enhance the overall look.
So yawn away if you will, but in a sense, these are the types of changes that ultimately lead to higher yields. And since it’s in the form of higher rates coming upfront vs. during the cruise itself, agents benefit as well. New suite amenities like bathrobes, slippers and binoculars are now included in the charge.
All suites on Signature, Vista and R-class ships will receive the upgrades during upcoming dry-docks. Next in line is Oosterdam in April. Changes to public spaces include the new Gallery Bar replacing the space once used for the Northern Lights Disco. As press sipped cocktails concocted by “King of Cocktails” Dale Degroff, Holland America President Orlando Ashford explained that the roots of the new space date to his 1st week on the job. “My very 1st cruise was on the Nieuw Amsterdam,” related Ashford. “I started my job on December 1st, 2014. On December 4th, I stood in the Northern Lights Disco and commented to some of my team members that it would be great to see what we could turn this space into.”
A lot of collaboration and what Ashford terms “collective intelligence” followed. This process sums up what we call the Ashford doctrine: “I believe a diverse group will outperform an individual; a diverse group with a lot of diverse ideas will outperform a homogeneous group,” he explained, “so that collective intelligence sat and talked and had lots of different ideas about what this space could be.”
End result: “The team came up with a really cool concept,” concluded Ashford. “We took a space that was quiet a lot of the time and turned it into something that’s pretty exciting.” The Gallery Bar will be on five ships by May 2018.
The Eurodam renovation is part of a “$300 million brand enhancement initiative” to quote Holland America’s press release. But really, there’s no need for a multimillion dollar price tag to be floated out in the case of this individual ship. What stands out is the thoughtfulness, perhaps because of the collective intelligence cited, that is put behind making a cocktail exquisite or a night’s sleep in a suite soothing.
Holland America Group CEO Stein Kruse explains that adds up in a lot of ways: “Everything we do is done to generate yield improvement. Eurodam isn’t a particularly old ship, but she just had a pretty significant facelift. It isn’t a transformative facelift, but it is being well received.”
Over time, that makes a difference. “This enhancement communicates back to the repeat passengers,” he points out. “It communicates to the travel agents when they hear about it from the repeat passengers. And as new guests are coming into the pipe, they will experience a fresh ship that is very representative of what they might see at a trendy place ashore.”