“The focus has been on elevation and excellence, we continue to strive to be better than before,” said Frits van der Werff, vice president of food and beverage at Holland America Line. “We want to continue to refine the experience. We are doing things really well and want to continue to offer a better experience.”
The company’s latest ship, the Nieuw Statendam, rolled out a host of new food and beverage options including Nami Sushi, Rudi’s Sel de Mer and Club Orange
“Our food quality, particularly since we launched the Koningsdam, is unmatched by similar cruise lines,” said van der Werff, just a day before he was scheduled to jet to Italy to join the new vessel. “We are serving more options at a better quality than anyone out there.”
With a global deployment footprint, van der Werff and team have set up a worldwide network of suppliers to feed passengers and crew.
“We can get fresh ingredients anywhere, fish and produce, on a consistent basis.”
Even pasta is getting a re-think, as the Seattle-based cruise line will take over production and make its own pasta for diners at the specialty restaurant Canaletto.
A new beverage program shows off a James Suckling-curated wine list, which will find its way across the fleet by early 2019.
There are dozens of wines rated at 90 plus and even going higher, and at a price point that makes sense in our market,” van der Werff noted.
No menu has been left unchanged on the Nieuw Statendam. At the ship’s Pinnacle Grille venue, for example, chef and restaurateur David Burke has been brought in to enhance the offering.
While the features of the Nieuw Statendam have grabbed the headlines, the Koningsdam adopted them at her December drydocking,
The rest of the company’s fleet will see updated menus, while fresh pasta will roll back across the company’s ships as well.
Menu cycles are split by season and region, with a few core items across all ships.
“We call at more destinations than other big cruise lines,” added van der Werff.
Our destination dining program is following where we go and when our guests cruise with us, we have new dishes. On a grand voyage we will have an entirely different menu cycle than the seven-day Alaska program. It depends on the voyage length and region we are sailing in.”
Major efforts are going into regional dishes and menus, working across departments to bring in the entertainment and enrichment teams.
Also notable on the Nieuw Statendam, Club Orange takes the place of the former Culinary Arts Center, and is available to suite guests, open for breakfast and dinner daily. The venue will serve the same menu featured in Pinnacle Grill (breakfast) and main dining room (dinner) and also include other exclusive dishes. With an actual test-style kitchen in the venue, there will always be a chef on site to interact with guests if they chose.
Last year, numbers were significantly up in volume at specialty restaurants. All alternative restaurants on the Nieuw Statendam will have additional seating to meet that demand.
Pop up restaurants have helped drive that, as the company will take its steakhouse, the Pinnacle Grill, and turn it into Rudi’s Sel de Mer one night, for example. On longer cruises, a few pop up concepts are featured.