Making the Grade: Signature of Excellence Innovations Keep Premium Cruise Leader at Head of Class

SEATTLE, Sept. 8 /PRNewswire/ — Today’s competitive travel market demands progressive product differentiation, and Holland America Line’s unprecedented $225 million Signature of Excellence initiative lays claim to some of the cruise industry’s top innovations.

“The Signature of Excellence innovations seamlessly blend the progressive programming and service elements expected by today’s sophisticated travelers with the unparalleled comfort of traveling with one of the world’s most experienced cruise lines,” says Richard D. Meadows, CTC, Holland America Line’s senior vice president, marketing and sales.

Among the most significant Signature of Excellence Innovations are:

– Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine Magazine. Holland America Line features the only fleetwide dedicated state-of-the-art show kitchens at sea, each resembling the elaborate kitchens used by celebrated chefs on television cooking programs. Innovative theater-styled venues offer large overhead plasma video screens providing close-up views of food preparation, and a large cooking display counter where guests can learn new techniques and recipes. More than 60 top chefs, wine experts and cookbook authors will sail in each year, and classes and demonstrations will be offered on every sailing.

– Explorations Cafe — powered by The New York Times. This exclusive and progressive cafe offers guests an opportunity to sip coffee, browse through one of the most extensive libraries at sea, enjoy a wide selection of music at several listening stations or surf the Internet. They may also work on specially designed New York Times crossword puzzles and receive complimentary access to “TimesTalks” events and the website.

– Mariner’s Dream beds. All staterooms and suites will be outfitted with plush, custom-designed Sealy Posturpedic Euro-top mattresses and feature 250- thread count cotton bed linens (Penthouse and Deluxe Verandah suites feature comfortable duvets, too). The mattresses have proved so popular with guests that they will be available for purchase shortly through an on-line store. Additional new stateroom amenities include thick Egyptian cotton towels and deluxe waffle and terry cloth bathrobes; premium massage showerheads; magnifying make-up mirrors with halo lighting and salon-quality hair dryers; a stainless steel basket filled with fresh fruit; and, a stainless-steel ice bucket and serving tray for beverages.

– Flat Screen TVs. All staterooms will feature state-of-the-art flat screen TVs and accompanying DVD/CD players. An extensive collection of DVDs is available for guests in the library at Explorations Cafe — powered by The New York Times. DVD rentals are complimentary for all suite guests with a minimal fee for others.

– Family Reunion Program. The first of its kind in the industry, the Family and Friends Program rewards families who cruise together with extra amenities including special group pricing. Extras include a Fountain Soda Package for every member; a family photo per stateroom; and a choice of either dinner for the whole family in the line’s alternative Pinnacle Grill Restaurant or, on Caribbean cruises, free rentals of snorkel gear and swim mats or banana boat rides for all on Half Moon Cay, the line’s award-winning private island.

– The Loft & The Oasis. Among the most innovative teen-only areas in the industry, the new facilities are exclusively for ages 13 to 17. The Loft appears as a New York artist’s studio with a flair of bright colors and funky patterns. A secluded staircase leads to The Oasis, an adult-free zone and hideaway giving teens sun-drenched deck space with hammocks and a waterfall. With a focus on the arts and creativity, the expanded Club HAL(R) now caters to kids as young as 3 years with supervised, age- and destination-appropriate activities for kids up to age 12. Club HAL After Hours now offers childcare from 10 pm to midnight.

– Half Moon Cay. Nearly every Holland America Line Caribbean itinerary features a day at exclusive Half Moon Cay — the highest-rated private island in the cruise industry and Holland America Line’s highest-rated Caribbean port call. A bird-watching sanctuary, the cruise line carefully crafted new activities designed to offer guests an elevated sense of exploration, discovery and adventure consistent with the island’s natural beauty. Enhancements include a horseback riding and swimming tour, a stingray adventure program, guided AquaTrax watercraft tour, and a fun-filled family aqua park. The new activities augment Half Moon Cay’s extensive array of existing excursions including scuba diving tours, catch-and-release deep sea fishing trips, eco tours by glass-bottom boat, kayak trips and parasailing.

– One-touch Concierge & Neptune Lounge. Widely renowned for its world-class service, Holland America Line provides all guests in verandah suites with personalized, 24-hour phone concierge service to assist with special requests, spa or dinner reservations, room service and other needs. In addition, the industry-leading Neptune Lounge offers a quiet place to relax and work with one-on-one concierge service to deluxe verandah and penthouse suite guests. The fleet-wide lounges provide work tables, TV, library, sofas and chairs, and refreshments. Guests enjoy personalized service to confirm shore excursions, car rentals, spa appointments, and reservations at the Pinnacle Grill. One-Touch Concierge Service is available to deluxe suite guests when the Neptune Lounge is closed.

– More Times and Options to Dine. Holland America Line offers an elevated five-star dining experience, showcasing exceptional quality and choice unmatched in the premium cruise category. Enhancements include the elegant, reservations-only Pinnacle Grill, a fine-dining Northwest-themed steakhouse on every ship featuring Sterling Silver premium meats and fresh seafood served with distinctive Bulgari china, Frette linens and elegant Riedle stemware. An impressive four dining times are offered in the main dining room, catering to the varied schedules of its guests with enhanced one-on-one service. Made-to-order dinner entrees and table-side wait service are also offered in the Lido Restaurant’s popular casual dining alternative. And all guests may enjoy 24-hour complimentary room service.

– Greenhouse Spa and Salon. Holland America Line teamed up with The Greenhouse Spa and Salon, a popular spa brand in Dallas and New York City, to provide a wide selection of signature treatments and fitness activities. Greenhouse Spa expansions feature additional treatment rooms: including couple’s massage rooms, dry float suite with massage option, thermal suites with hydro-therapy pool and steam room; and heated ceramic lounges. It also features a new manicure and pedicure area and the Lifestyle Fitness Center.

Since announcing the Signature of Excellence in 2003, all ships now offer stateroom amenities, suite enhancements, Neptune Lounge, dining enhancements and the Pinnacle Grill. Ten ships feature the plush Mariner Dream beds with the remaining two to receive them in fall 2005.

Half of Holland America Line’s five-star fleet already showcases new construction enhancements such as the Explorations Cafe – powered by The New York Times, the Greenhouse Spa and Salon, Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine Magazine and the expanded youth facilities. Three remaining ships will be completed in fall 2005 and four in 2006. Signature of Excellence enhancements may vary slightly by ship.

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About Holland America Line (a division of Carnival Corporation and plc (NYSE:CCL) (NYSE:and) (NYSE:CUK) )

With the introduction of the 1,848-passenger ms Noordam in early 2006, Holland America Line’s fleet grows to 13 ships, offering nearly 500 cruises from more than 25 home ports. The award-winning premium cruise line excels at providing gracious and attentive service. Holland America Line’s $225 million, fleetwide Signature of Excellence enhancements feature new programs and amenities including product and service enhancements in stateroom accommodations, dining, service, enrichment programs and activities, and worldwide itineraries. Six ships are completed with the rest to be finished by the end of 2006. For more information, consult a travel agent, call 1-877-SAIL-HAL (877-724-5425) or visit

World’s Leading Cruise Lines

Holland America Line is a member of the exclusive World’s Leading Cruise Lines alliance, which also includes Carnival Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, Cunard Line, Seabourn Cruise Line, Costa Cruises and Windstar Cruises. Sharing a passion to please each guest and a commitment to quality and value, these lines appeal to a wide range of lifestyles and budgets. The World’s Leading Cruise Lines offer exciting and enriching cruise vacations to the world’s most desirable destinations.

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