“We are planning at least three years out and further but our goal is to open up cruise products at least two years in advance for the public to purchase. We are definitely pushing this window out as much as possible to try to get our cruise offerings available to the public as soon as possible,” said Paul Grigsby, vice president of revenue planning and analytics at Holland America Line.
Overseeing itinerary planning, Grigsby said the Seattle-based brand was a port-centric cruise brand offering longer voyages.
“Certainly of note is our historic 150th Anniversary trans-Atlantic voyage. The original voyage departed on Oct. 15, 1872, aboard the Rotterdam I, the first Holland America Line ship. Her maiden voyage sailed from Rotterdam to New York. Exactly 150 years later on Oct. 15, 2022, the Rotterdam VII (set to debut later this year) will depart Rotterdam once again with calls at Plymouth and Le Havre an overnight in New York then continuing onto Fort Lauderdale.”
Before that historic crossing, the new Rotterdam debuts in Europe this summer and then repositions to Port Everglades for winter 2021-2022.
Next summer, the company is deploying five ships to Europe, with the new Rotterdam sailing the line’s high-yielding Northern Europe program, including seven-day fjord, 14-day Iceland, midnight sun and Baltic cruises, and then ending the season with a trans-Atlantic crossing.
Further south, the Westerdam will offer a variety of Mediterranean sailings to or from Venice, The Volendam will offer “boutique” 14-day sailings including the new “Capitals” cruise offering access to Dublin, London, Paris and Antwerp with two overnights.
“Because of the ship’s smaller size, we are able to sail up the Seine River all the way to Rouen. We also call at Bristol (Bath), England and highly rated Bordeaux,” Grigsby explained.
Like a Portfolio
Itinerary planning for Holland America is like managing a stock portfolio according to Grigsby, with a large fleet and global deployment expectations.
“Sometimes, close to home Caribbean or Mexican cruising is hot, whereas other times far afield, exotic destinations are at the top of peoples list,” he said. “And then we have (key) destinations to the brand such as Alaska and Europe that we place a focus on for our planning. Also key to our brand position as the leading premium cruise line, we sail to all seven continents and this distinction is very important to us. We use market research, cruise and port ratings, guest surveys and research to help us develop and reinforce our itinerary choices.”
That means crafting itineraries cruisers want to book.
“Therefore, we strive to craft a collection of port calls and sea days that resonate with the guest.” Grigsby continued. “It should be a balance of well known, marquee ports and those that are off the beaten path.”