Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam

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family fun Speaking of pizza…it’s no secret that HAL has been spreading its wings in recent years, widening its offerings to appeal to a younger generation. No question that the 15-ship fleet values and retains the traditional rewards of seagoing travel, not to mention certain defining aspects—perhaps most notably the warm and hospitable service—that have endeared the line to legions of devoted fans. At the same time, the more recent efforts to beckon younger cruisers are paying off.

The line has been skewing younger, points out Rick Meadows, executive v.p., marketing, sales and guest programs. “There was a rumor years ago that Holland America was not for all ages,” he says. “Not true. Our average age cruiser has been holding at 57 for the last six years. Our demographics have changed, and we now get families and kids.”

While the Caribbean attracts the youngest travelers, the 49th State is coming on strong, notes Meadows. “An Alaska cruise was once viewed as something for older people, but now it’s seen as a great trip for families. We may have 200 to 300 children on Alaska sailings.”

Current figures indicate that Holland America lures more than 25,000 young people and their families aboard its 14 ships each year. Reduced fare group rates—plus some extra amenities, including a festive lunch for the entire family in the Pinnacle Grill—are extended to those who book eight or more staterooms in the line’s Family Reunion Program.

The fresh appeal for families has to be due in no small measure to on-the-grow Club HAL, the wildly colorful, red-carpeted facility that offers supervised, age-appropriate activities for kids 3 to 12. For teens ages 13 to 17, there’s The Loft, a hip spot for hanging out. On the new ship, you get a re-creation of a New York City street with murals, street signs, a hot dog stand, and a real New York yellow cab with checkered trim. Most ships also offer Oasis, a teens-only sun deck area.

Then there are the cooking classes for both the younger set and their parents/grandparents at the Culinary Arts Center, a popular venue for cruisers of all ages. In complimentary, 45-minute classes in the high-tech show kitchen, kiddies and teens turn out goodies from soft pretzels to saltwater taffy.

All of which adds up to ample time for parental options, such as shore excursions, musical productions in the Showroom, clubs, shops, restaurants, the casino, and the Explorations Cafe for book browsing, music listening and Internet surfing.

onboard comforts The sparkling new staterooms are decorated in soothing earth tones with bedding so comfy that sweet dreams are a given. Also at the ready: a robe, flat-panel TV, DVD player, lighted makeup mirror, massage shower head, bathtub, and Elemis bath amenities–plus a fruit basket and fresh flowers. With the Signature class comes some striking layouts incorporating full window walls—a glamorous, space-stretching feature your seasoned cruise clients are sure to love. Something new in energy-saving: passengers now must insert their key card in a slot next to the door to turn on lights.

itineraries Clients eager to soak up the new ship in its inaugural season can chose between the two most popular cruise regions—the Mediterranean and Caribbean. Nieuw Amsterdam will sail a variety of 12-day Eastern and Western Med itineraries from Venice until Oct. 27. The Mediterranean Empires route, for example, travels roundtrip Venice and visits Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Civitavecchia, Messina, Nafplion, Kerkira, and Dubrovnik. Rates start at $1,499 pp.

Then come 7-day Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings from Nov. 7 to March 27, roundtrip Fort Lauderdale, from $549 pp. The Eastern lineup includes Grand Turk, San Juan, Philipsburg, and Half Moon Cay. Choose Western and you get Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, Georgetown, and Costa Maya.

In 2011, the new ship will return to Europe on April 3, followed by another series of 12-day Med departures through Oct. 27.

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