Holland America Brings Explorations Central Program Onboard

by Daniel McCarthy

Ashford making the announcement.

Promising its guests a better destination experience, Holland America Line is introducing an Explorations Central (EXC) program based in a central location on each ship.  

Destination experts, called EXC Guides, will be stationed at the shipboard centers to offer destination education and advice. Each center also will have a coffee bar, EXC Port Guides for each destination, and EXC Port Maps that highlight sights of interest in each port. 

The guides also will hold scheduled talks during sailings and host gatherings that offer language and cultural etiquette lessons. 

The cruise line, which sails to 400 ports in 120 countries on all seven continents, is hoping to “enhance your ability to truly engage,” and provide guests with “the most vivid experience possible,” president Orlando Ashford said in announcing the program on Wednesday.  

Holland America also will offer EXC Encounters, in which local cultural representatives will come on board before a ship enters a port to give guests a taste of local culture and tradition—such as lessons in  tai chi or playing the steel drums or making a flower lei.


EXC shipboard centers.

Following the same theme is new stateroom programming that will add an EXC Channel to each television, providing “a portal to the destination” that guests have just experienced or are about to experience.  

EXC will be rolled out first to ms Westerdam in April 2017 and then to the entire Holland America fleet through 2018.   

“For those people that really want to travel, there’s nothing wrong with vacationing, there’s nothing wrong with touring,” Ashford said. “But Holland America’s strength is that we cater really well to travelers. For those of your clients who really want to do that, I think Holland America is a perfect partner.” 

Cuba and Turkey update  
Ashford touched upon new destinations for Holland America. The line hopes to gain permission to visit Cuba “in the very near future,” though it has yet to get clearance.  

But it will only return to Turkey, which it began avoiding because of safety concerns earlier this year, when it’s safe to do so, Ashford said. But whenever Holland America does schedule sailings to Turkey or Cuba, EXC will be part of them. 

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