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Maritime Makeover

Another seasoned Holland America beauty is now sailing with an updated look and new public spaces.
By Robert N. Jenkins

A vintage car is a collectible and proudly displayed by its owner, but an older cruise ship–well, that’s another story. In this competitive market for cruisers, ships have to be relevant and enticing–at any age. So for its 16th birthday, Holland America Line’s Ryndam was made even sweeter with a number of upgrades.


Above: Staterooms onboard Ryndam received new drapes, carpet, flooring and more to create a sleek, contemporary design.

Below: A martini bar is part of the Mix, a collection of three new lounges.

martini bar

I’ve sailed on Ryndam twice–before and after its makeover–and was generally pleased with the renovations.

The 1,260-passenger ship, which sails from Tampa on weeklong cruises from September through April, and around Europe in the summer, has undergone a multimillion-dollar makeover. The same structural changes also were made to Maasdam and Statendam, each about a year older than Ryndam. And though it is about 19 months younger than Ryndam, similar work was done to the Veendam.

While building a ship can take more than two years, these extensive metallic makeovers take from two to three weeks.

For instance, 970 laborers worked through half of February 2010 while Ryndam was dry-docked in the Bahamas. New drapes, carpeting, flooring, flat-screen TVs and granite bathroom countertops are in the ship’s 630 staterooms.

Ryndam and its two sisters also received smashing changes to three public areas. A clever grouping of three new specialty bars–called Mix–and improved seating in the main theater will enhance the onboard nightlife, while a new Italian-cuisine restaurant carved from the Lido Deck’s dining room offers guests another dinner option.

Dining and Entertainment Upgrades

To create the Mix, three sleek new lounges, walls that had enclosed the popular piano bar came down, and the nearby casino bar was removed. This newly created space was converted into alluring specialty bars that serve champagne, martinis, beer and top-shelf liquors.

The seating is in conversational clusters. Six tables offer something extra: The tops are touch-screen computers that offer games plus the ability to order drinks.

Guests can enjoy a drink at the Mix before heading to a show at the main theater where musical revues and headliners perform. This venue was originally built with a flat first level, which meant poor sightlines for many toward the back of the room. Now, the lower deck has been terraced into five levels, each about six inches higher than the one in front.

To create the Italian restaurant, Canaletto, within the Lido’s casual buffet, 62 dividing panels were placed to set the new space apart. Canaletto only serves dinner and offers a set menu. Among the seven entrees are penne pasta with vodka; pasta pomodoro and cream sauce; and cod that has been marinated in lemon juice, olive oil and oregano, then sautéed and coated with herbs, kalamata olives and capers. Order the gelato for dessert.

Committing to Excellence

These changes are part of what Holland America calls its Signature of Excellence, tangible upgrades begun in November 2003 to maintain the line’s premium market position among competitors. Holland America estimates the costs for the changes to all the vessels will total more than $525 million.

The first upgrades ranged from higher thread-count bed linens to a creation of a combination library/Internet café/specialty coffee bar. Cooking demonstrations, wine tastings and daily computer lessons were added.

In 2009, the line continued modernizing the oldest of its 14 ships. The first structural changes were made to the San Diego-based Veendam, then the Rotterdam.

A flurry of upgrades occurred in 2010 when the Ryndam, Statendam and Maasdam went into dry dock. Even more changes will be made to those three, probably in 2012–13, to create two new cabin categories and to revamp the aft pool area to install a huge LED screen for movies.

In July 2010, Holland America also launched its 15th ship, the Nieuw Amsterdam.

A Change of Scenery

Ryndam also has itinerary changes. For years, it left its winter home in Florida and shifted to Alaska for the summer. But Holland America has switched the venerable ship to an alluring spring and summer mix of European ports.

Ryndam remains in Barcelona, Spain, through October before it departs Nov. 3 for a 17-day trans-Atlantic crossing to Tampa. This winter, it will alternate seven-day round trips into the Western Caribbean. Ports of call include Key West, Fla.; Falmouth, Jamaica; Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; and Cozumel, Mexico.

Next April, Ryndam is scheduled to return to Europe for Mediterranean and Norwegian fjords cruises. Ports of call on the 19-night western Mediterranean cruise include Lisbon, Portugal and the Canary Islands.

With the makeovers completed and a few still to come, a charming ship that was showing its age now will be up-to-date, with new features likely to please a whole generation of its fans.

Robert N. Jenkins is a contributor from St. Petersburg, Fla.

Sep/Oct 2011 Issue


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Cruise Ships Line Up for Renovations

By Robert N. Jenkins

Ship renovations are occurring more frequently as the cost of building new vessels rises in Europe and the value of the dollar drops against the euro. The changes represent an effort to “allow older ships to be competitive, offering the popular amenities of newer vessels,’’ according to Carnival Cruise Line spokesman Vance Gulliksen.

To that end, Carnival began installing major open-deck upgrades under what it called Evolutions of Fun in 2005. When finished, an estimated $350 million of changes–including water parks–will be added to that line’s eight oldest ships. Balconies are being added to dozens of ocean-view staterooms.

“One of our objectives is to take older ships and upgrade to feature facilities and innovations from our newer ships, allowing our fleet-wide product to remain consistent, regardless of age,’’ Gulliksen said.
That philosophy is echoed by Princess Cruises.

“We’ve undergone several dry docks the past couple of years,’’ said Princess spokeswoman Karen Candy, “in an effort to modernize our fleet … by bringing on our signature features such as the Piazza atrium, Crown Grill, Movies Under the Stars and The Sanctuary,’’ a spa-like setting with cabanas on the pool deck.

Thus, the 13-year-old Grand Princess was pulled from service for a 24-day makeover in the Bahamas this April that included an atrium, a combination library and tea-service lounge, a full-service pizzeria, a new nightclub and martini bar.

Grand Princess

Grand Princess/Princess Cruises

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