Seattle, July 31, 2006 – Fine art goes high tech on the high seas when Holland America Line debuted self-guided art tours using handheld iPod devices on ms Westerdam on its July 30, 2006 sailing. Tours of the unique art and antique collections on each of the lines five-star ships – together valued at tens of millions of dollars – are to be available fleetwide by the end of 2006.
The introduction of the tour on the Westerdam marks the first time a cruise line has offered museum-quality self-guided tours to its guests.
“These self-guided tours are just the latest addition to our constantly expanding on-board enrichment programs,” said Richard D. Meadows, CTC, senior vice president of sales and marketing. “The tours highlight the most interesting, historical and accessible pieces of art and antiques to provide greater depth and context, and give our guests a truly rewarding experience.”
Guests desiring to take a tour simply sign out an iPod free of charge and take the tour at their leisure, returning the device when they finish. In addition, the tours will be available for download to a home computer or handheld device from the Holland America Web site at www.hollandamerica.com.
Narrated by well-known radio hosts Paul Lasley and Elizabeth Harryman, the 40- to 50-minute tours include walking directions, interviews with artists, background music and photo images displayed on the iPod screen to help guests locate each piece. For convenience, tours are confined to the main public decks to facilitate casual, unhurried strolling from piece to piece.
Each tour begins with a welcome message from Holland America Line President and CEO Stein Kruse and includes comments from ship architect/designer Frans Dingemans, as well as others associated with the line’s art program. Two artists who have their work displayed on every Holland America ship – Susanna Holt, whose lifelike bronze animal sculptures grace the pool areas, and Stephen Card, whose classic maritime paintings of Holland America ships can be found in the main stairwells – provide insight into their artistic inspiration.
According to Lasley, the tours seek to contextualize the precious objects within the overall interior design of the ship. “Dingemans does something unique,” Lasley explains during the tour. “Instead of just adding art works as decoration, he incorporates them as an integral part of the dcor. From the beginning of the design process, he commissions new works from outstanding contemporary artists, and he searches the world for appropriate antiques.”
Dingemans, whose firm, VFD Architects in Utrecht, The Netherlands, has worked with the cruise line for 32 years, offers commentary as well: “Holland America Line always decorated their ships with contemporary art, modern art and conventional art to bring together an art collection, total environment of the ship and the rooms you’re sitting in. The way you do that is to follow your own heart.”
The sheer scope of the shipboard art and antiques distinguishes these tours from most landside museum visits. On the Westerdam alone, the pieces range from a huge Indian silver-overlaid wood palace doorway at the entrance to the dining room that measures 92 inches by 69 inches to a 5-inch-long bone tobacco pipe carved in the shape of a woman’s head. The most valuable piece is a painting of the Port of Rotterdam, and the oldest is a collection of 5,000-year-old pre-Columbian carved limestone figures from Ecuador.
Although the tours only cover an estimated 20 percent of the art and antiques on each ship, at the end of each tour the narrators encourage guests to participate in a kind of scavenger hunt by suggesting they seek out a list of pieces not included on the tour. On the Westerdam tour those include tea caddies made into boxes, carved Meerchaum pipes and a cardboard chair by artist Frank Gehry.
With the introduction of the 1,918-passenger ms Noordam in early 2006, Holland America Line’s fleet grows to 13 ships, offering nearly 500 cruises from more than 25 home ports. Itineraries range from two to 108 days and visit all seven continents, including new Australia/New Zealand and Asia sailings, a world cruise and popular sailings to several ports in the Caribbean, Alaska, Mexico and Europe. The ms Noordam also will offer Caribbean sailings in the winter from new homeport New York City.
Holland America Line’s $225 million, fleetwide Signature of Excellence enhancements feature new programs and amenities including the Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine – a state-of-the-art onboard show kitchen where more than 60 celebrated guest chefs and culinary experts will provide cooking demonstrations and classes – Explorations Caf powered by the New York Times, teens-only activity areas and all new cabin amenities highlighted by flat-panel TVs and plush-top Mariner’s Dream Beds. Signature of Excellence enhancements will be completed on 10 ships at the start of 2006 and all 13 ships by the fall of 2006. For more information, consult a travel agent, call 1-877-SAIL-HAL (877-724-5425) or visit www.hollandamerica.com