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The new HAL In-Depth Explorer cruises on the Maasdam

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Thanks to Old and Dirt Mom for this link describing the new roll out of the ETC In-Depth Explorer cruise program on the Masdam starting Sept 10 - the KonTiki voyage. https://www.hollandamerica.com/blog/topics/arts-entertainment/new-exc-in-depth-voyages-feature-zodiac-excursions-for-up-close-discovery/

 

Most interesting is what they are now eliminating on this Maasdam cruise, so they can offer more local enrichment experiences. Back to the problem of only having a set number of staff/crew beds in limited supply which in turns puts limits on what on board activities that can be made available to meet the range of passenger interests. This now changes the scene completely.

 

Eliminating the traditional entertainment offerings alone frees up how many crew/staff beds - dancers, singers, set workers, lighting, sound, wardrobe mistress etc. It will be interesting to see how replacing these more traditional cruise activity entertainment staff/crew slots with a more localized and dedicated enrichment staff/crew/contract speakers appropriate to the destinations will play out. But it is a great change in direction as far as we are concerned and use of these smaller, older ships.

 

We are already signed up for this first specialty cruise on the basis of the ports alone, and until "Mom" passed on this link, I had no idea what other onboard changes we would be also be getting in this package. I sure missed the boat on these upcoming changes, and was still scratching my head when I learned they had added Zodiacs to the Maasdam on our Roll Call.

 

Wishing HAL the best for this new cruise option development.

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. . .

 

Most interesting is what they are now eliminating on this Maasdam cruise, so they can offer more local enrichment experiences. Back to the problem of only having a set number of staff/crew beds in limited supply which in turns puts limits on what on board activities that can be made available to meet the range of passenger interests. This now changes the scene completely.

 

Eliminating the traditional entertainment offerings alone frees up how many crew/staff beds - dancers, singers, set workers, lighting, sound, wardrobe mistress etc. It will be interesting to see how replacing these more traditional cruise activity entertainment staff/crew slots with a more localized and dedicated enrichment staff/crew/contract speakers appropriate to the destinations will play out. But it is a great change in direction as far as we are concerned and use of these smaller, older ships.

I wonder what cruises will be like after she returns to the US in April 2019 and does three 21-day Alaska cruises. Will she return to traditional cruise entertainment? Personally, I'd like to see her continue with the EXC In-Depth program in Alaska.

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I wonder what cruises will be like after she returns to the US in April 2019 and does three 21-day Alaska cruises. Will she return to traditional cruise entertainment? Personally, I'd like to see her continue with the EXC In-Depth program in Alaska.

 

According to HAL's website, the 21-day Alaska/Pacific Northwest itineraries WILL be part of the EXC In-Depth Voyages.

 

Go the link below, and then click on "view EXC In-Depth itineraries". It's on page 3 of 4 pages of listed itineraries.

 

https://www.hollandamerica.com/pageByName/Resp.action?requestPage=EXC_InDepth&showHeader=true&showFooter=true

 

The EXC (Explorations Central) In-Depth Itineraries are a work in progress, with a new "Director of Explorations", Dr. Peter Carey, in charge of putting the program together

 

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/holland-america-line-to-launch-new-exc-in-depth-voyages-that-feature-zodiac-excursions-for-up-close-discovery-300599801.html

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I wonder what cruises will be like after she returns to the US in April 2019 and does three 21-day Alaska cruises. Will she return to traditional cruise entertainment? Personally, I'd like to see her continue with the EXC In-Depth program in Alaska.

 

HAL will obviously need to see how successful these new In-Depth offerings are - and what that can mean just reducing onboard operating and staffing, costs as much as finding an expanded customer base. Will charging more for more In-Depth shore excursions make up for what they make off of other onboard sales -shops, art auctions, spa services, casinos etc. How many of these traditional onboard activities will still be retained?

 

These cruises will not be for everyone, but are they a way of capturing the spill over Prinsendam passengers who prefer the smaller ship itinerary choices? One problem right off the bat with this first cruise which was well-priced up front was learning it is very expensive to fly home out of Papeete. Adding some sort of group fare flight package could help remedy this problem.

 

This certainly fills a gap for us between what we like about traditional unique itinerary HAL and what we also liked a lot about the now defunct Voyages of Discovery no-frills adventure itinerary cruise offerings. We were ready to move on to Voyages of Antiiquity next year for their West Africa itinerary - now not so sure any longer.

 

More exploration adventure and the welcome comforts of the Maadam - fingers crossed this will be a marriage made in HAL cruise heaven.

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It also stated up front there would be no dedicated youth activities onboard, and many of the ports are not wheel-chair accessible. This could mean they are targeting a new active, middle-age demographic, by either design or by default. Much like Viking is also doing.

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Some of those itineraries look fantastic! And I love the Maasdam. I wonder if they will expand to Antarctic itineraries?

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Some of those itineraries look fantastic! And I love the Maasdam. I wonder if they will expand to Antarctic itineraries?

 

I don't think the Maasdam has the necessary "ice hull" structure required now for the Antarctic, but maybe they can still get close enough. With 1200 passengers they could not go ashore, but some larger ships have special sailings where they reduce the passenger number to qualify..

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I don't think the Maasdam has the necessary "ice hull" structure required now for the Antarctic, but maybe they can still get close enough. With 1200 passengers they could not go ashore, but some larger ships have special sailings where they reduce the passenger number to qualify..

 

I am told between 100 and 500 is the maximum of passengers to be allowed to go ashore (in groups, but not all at once) in Antarctica. Do not see that happening!

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I wonder what cruises will be like after she returns to the US in April 2019 and does three 21-day Alaska cruises. Will she return to traditional cruise entertainment? Personally, I'd like to see her continue with the EXC In-Depth program in Alaska.

 

I am hoping that she continues on the same venture when she returns to SFO. We recently took a circumnavigational cruise in Iceland with a much much smaller cruise line and this type of program was right up our alley. We had zodiacs that took passengers to places we could not access and it was awesome. We learned about birding, local geology and local culture. No glitz or glamour. We are sailing on the Maasdam on the 21 day Alaska and NW Pacific adventure in 2019. Keeping fingers crossed!(yn)(yn)(yn)

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Dr. Peter Carey was the biologist member of the Antarctica Exploration Team during my South America/Antarctica cruise this past December/January. I was most impressed with his knowledge and presentations: the Lounge was almost always filled to capacity each time a presentation was made. (As a Zoology Major in college, I found that I was learning just as if I was a student in his classroom.) My cruise also included a geologist as well as a social scientist who gave Power Point presentations that enriched the entire cruise experience. If my experience is the direction HAL is going, and I think it is with the EXC program's introduction, I think the program may well set HAL as being "unique" in the cruise experience that they offer. With Dr. Carey directing this program, I think it will have a good chance to succeed.

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I don't think the Maasdam has the necessary "ice hull" structure required now for the Antarctic, but maybe they can still get close enough. With 1200 passengers they could not go ashore, but some larger ships have special sailings where they reduce the passenger number to qualify..

 

The Ryndam used to sail the Antarctic itinerary and she is of the same Class as the Maasdam.

 

The Zaandam did get "close enough" for my enjoyment of the cruise. My days of possibly using a zodiac to get ashore are over. I am thinking that there are others of us who would enjoy the EXC educational experience without needing to set foot on land.

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We are long-time HAL fans and love that they offer some of the more varied itineraries as compared to some of the competition. After doing two Seabourn expedition-type cruises (Antarctica and Alaska) in the past couple of years and finding we loved the experience, we were happily surprised to read what HAL is going to offer on Maasdam, so much so that we are seriously considering canceling a 36 night Seabourn Hong Kong to Dubai cruise in March 2019 in favor of the Maasdam 40 night Collector Singapore RT covering Southeast Asia all the way to Sri Lanka and the Maldives at the end of January 2019. What a great itinerary.

 

As for the 21 night Alaska itinerary, we've done the 14 night version on Amsterdam and Statendam both and it's our favorite Alaska itinerary ... if we hadn't already done Alaska 5 times, most recently this past summer, I'd book Maasdam's for summer 2019 in a heartbeat!

 

Also, IMHO, I think HAL might actually attract some of the Seabourn crowd to the Maasdam. She might be older and larger than Seabourn's ships but if they do it right, HAL's new expedition-type product could be a real winner for them and attract a more active demographic which is often who you find on Seabourn.

 

Anyway, we are personally hoping that this new venture is a success for HAL and can't wait to try her out!

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We are so excited to be booked on the 21day cruise in June 2019. Love the Maasdam. Looking forward to a unique cruise experience.

 

Cheers, Denise

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We're booked on one of those cruises, too, Denise, and I'm absolutely thrilled to think it might be different from the usual Alaska cruises. Of course, IMO, any Alaska cruise is terrific.

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Gosh, there was at least one big thread about the changes coming to Maasdam back in November. If anyone else is interested in those 3 week SFO to Alaska cruises, you might want to jump fast. We're on the second sailing at the end of May and our stateroom category appears to be sold out already.

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HAL will obviously need to see how successful these new In-Depth offerings are.... One problem right off the bat with this first cruise which was well-priced up front was learning it is very expensive to fly home out of Papeete.

 

There's a new French airline "French Bee" about to start SFO-PPT. Their one-way fares are very reasonable: https://www.frenchbee.com/en/

 

Also, United will start flying the route on 30 October.

https://hub.united.com/united-tahiti-route-announcement-2516709280.html

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There's a new French airline "French Bee" about to start SFO-PPT. Their one-way fares are very reasonable: https://www.frenchbee.com/en/

 

Also, United will start flying the route on 30 October.

https://hub.united.com/united-tahiti-route-announcement-2516709280.html

 

Thanks for this good news, I'll pass it on to the Roll Call. When making our reservations it was Air Tahiti Nui or nothing, direct to LAX - Hawaiian only flew on different days and others were routing themselves via New Zealand or other midway stops.

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The French Bee PPT-SFO flight leaves at 7am and it is not every day, so you may need to stay in Tahiti for a day or so. Tahiti Nui used to have a flight timed like that and I found it quite OK in coach and much preferable to the overnight flights.

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The French Bee PPT-SFO flight leaves at 7am and it is not every day, so you may need to stay in Tahiti for a day or so. Tahiti Nui used to have a flight timed like that and I found it quite OK in coach and much preferable to the overnight flights.

 

Looked like most of the ATN flights now leave at midnight, or maybe earlier ones were already booked when I went looking. There are two nights on board in Papeete on the end of this cruise so people can use the option of leaving a day earlier, but I also noticed there was a price difference of around $300 for different days of the week.

 

I bundled both our flight to FLL and our return on ATN - both direct - LAX on one of the multi-city flight package websites and got about as good of a deal as I was probably going to get at that time. Plus ATN has 2-4-2 Airbus seating which I am willing to pay extra for. The big umbrella fight search engine directed one to "kiwi.com" at very low rates. Do you know anything about them - and that may have been the ones getting routed through NZ.

 

So it looks like we have our forced overnight in FLL -which is good in case luggage goes astray, and by the end of the trip just getting home again will probably be our only concern. The whole cruise package with the new "InDepth" Maadam concept looks exciting. Papeete will look pretty pedestrian when we finally end up there.

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This sounds awesome! I already love the Maasdam, and just did a 22 day South Pacific cruise in November.. Two other options are getting air through HAL or booking an award flight.. I haven't booked air thru Holland, but my travel agent said they have reasonable one way tickets..

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Dr. Peter Carey was the biologist member of the Antarctica Exploration Team during my South America/Antarctica cruise this past December/January. I was most impressed with his knowledge and presentations: the Lounge was almost always filled to capacity each time a presentation was made. (As a Zoology Major in college, I found that I was learning just as if I was a student in his classroom.) My cruise also included a geologist as well as a social scientist who gave Power Point presentations that enriched the entire cruise experience. If my experience is the direction HAL is going, and I think it is with the EXC program's introduction, I think the program may well set HAL as being "unique" in the cruise experience that they offer. With Dr. Carey directing this program, I think it will have a good chance to succeed.

 

We also enjoyed the EXC program headed by Dr. Carey while on the Zaandam in January. Programs were varied, entertaining yet educational. Especially the penguin presentation!

We are excited about the Maasdam and have booked 2 cruises for 2019. 😄

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