Bon Voyage to out first EXC In-Depth Voyage, which departs today! Holland America Line’s Director of Explorations Dr. Peter Carey is continuing to scout locations and build out our innovative new series of EXC In-Depth Voyages featuring exciting Zodiac excursions. Learn more about our EXC In-Depth Voyages with Dr. Carey’s insightful Q&A.
What is an EXC In-Depth Voyage?
These innovative cruises are offered on Maasdam starting today and go into 2019 with plans to expand into 2020. They range from 14 to 239 days, comprising 13 different itineraries. Guests can choose an individual segment, or they can be combined to form a long Collectors’ Voyage. EXC In-Depth Voyages currently cover French Polynesia, the South Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, South America, Southeast Asia even some of the Indian Ocean. In 2019 and 2020 we are looking into Alaska and South America.
EXC In-Depth Voyages are allowing us to connect with destinations to a greater depth. We’re working with the EXC Regional Curators within Holland America Line who specialize in one destination to develop the program; we’re talking to academic and cultural institutions around the world to source local experts and have them cruise onboard with us, visit when the ship is in port and help develop content.
Maasdam is the perfect size. Too often you have to choose comfort or expedition, and with Maasdam there is a good, solid medium. The ship provides that comfort while also allowing us to get into out-of-the-way places, which opens the door to some wild and wonderfully amazing locales. Maasdam is a hybrid … guests are comfortable, they get all of our hallmark amenities, yet we also can really dig into the destination.
Guests will enjoy alternative dining including Pinnacle Grill, Rudi’s Sel de Mer pop-up, Canaletto, Lido Market and Dive-In. The ship has a great spa and fitness center, and we’ll still offer the Digital Workshop classes. I’m really excited about the evening entertainment. It will be tailored to the destination so we will have cultural ambassadors and shows that reflect the local culture instead of mainstage production shows, and, as always, we will have guest entertainers. We’re also working to develop after-dinner talks with our specialists that touch on the human side of how they became experts in their fields, not talks on their expertise (those will be during the day). So guests will get to know the experts on a personal level. Don’t worry, we’ll still have all of the regular daytime activities our guests have come to love and expect on their Holland America Line cruise.
What are these EXC themes we keep hearing about?
Each journey offers a variety of themes for a more profound exploration: photography; nature and science; arts and culture; food, wine and spirits; history and perspective; and active exploration. The themes will enable guests to explore exotic destinations through the prism of their own personal interests and passions. While there are six themes, consider that a definition of how broad this experience is going to be onboard and ashore. Guests are not locked into any one theme. They can focus on one or bounce around. The themes will all be highlighted in the When and Where daily program so it’s easy to identify what activity belongs to which theme.
For example, if a guest chooses photography, world-renowned photographers will be onboard to teach the best techniques and they’ll spend time with our guests helping them take better photos. The photographers will go on tours and help our guests snap better pictures, and guests can participate in a presentation given by the same guest photographer. Or, guests might take a workshop on Polynesian tattoo design, attend a lecture on growing coral or discover the local delicacy of breadfruit. The difference with EXC In-Depth is that after you hear a presentation onboard on, say, medicinal plants, that expert will then escort a tour ashore in the rain forest so guests can actually see medicinal plants in nature. Think of it as a field trip in the most wonderful way.
Who is right for an EXC In-Depth Voyage?
The EXC In-Depth Voyage is for the curious traveler, someone who wants to understand and connect with the destinations they are visiting. EXC In-Depth programming is about lingering a little longer, digging a little deep … Junior cruisers are certainly welcome, but Club HAL kids’ activities will not be offered on EXC In-Depth Voyages.
What are the Zodiac tours?
Along with unique land-based EXC Tours, select EXC In-Depth Voyage itineraries will feature up-close encounters with our fleet of Zodiac inflatable boats, led by a crew of onboard experts and local guides. Starting with the November 11 cruise from Papeete we have them in a variety of destinations including Fiji’s Dravuni Island, Tauranga and Fiordland in New Zealand and we’re developing more in Australia, Tonga, and Sri Lanka. It’s the ultimate expedition for our guests. On select tours, we’ll be able to offer both morning and afternoon departures so more guests can have the opportunity to experience one of these marine adventures.
Each vessel holds 10 guests plus the driver, and they are ideal for getting close to the shorelines, navigating up rivers or landing on wild beaches. Some will be sightseeing tours, and others will use the Zodiac as a means to get some place we couldn’t get to otherwise to then explore on land. They have a nice, flat floor that sits tight on the water, giving a comfortable ride. Another perk is that they are open so you are experiencing the elements … it’s a really cool perspective.
Note: Not all tours are Zodiac-based. Guests will be able to choose among other land-based tours as well that fit all levels of interest and activity.
Will I get to try local cuisine?
We absolutely will have local dishes on the menu, as well as wine and spirits. We’re planning to bring local chefs onboard for a number of itineraries. We look at local cuisine as an avenue to approach the culture. Because we have so much EXC In-Depth culinary programming, we did have to remove America’s Test Kitchen on Maasdam only to make space for other activities. However, we will have cooking demonstrations with the local chefs who will use locally sourced ingredients and teach the most traditional dishes.
Ready to get exploring? Learn more by visiting the EXC In-Depth Voyage page on our website.