Since announcing its $225 million Signature of Excellence program in November 2003, Holland America Line has invested another $200 million to enhance its ships, expand activities and introduce more amenities to its brand.  When ms Prinsendam leaves dry dock Dec. 16 with remodeled staterooms and a new Explorations Café, the premium line will have committed more than $425 million fleetwide.

Signature of Excellence features are evident in every aspect of the Holland America Line cruise experience, providing guests more luxurious accommodations, more enticing destinations, enhanced dining experiences, a greater variety of activities, and higher levels of personalized service.

“Signature of Excellence began as a ground-breaking initiative within the cruise industry,” said Richard D. Meadows, CTC, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs.  “At Holland America it has since evolved into our brand promise and our company’s commitment to continually invest in our product.”

By December, the Holland America Line fleet will have logged more than 350 days in dry dock receiving enhancements ranging from the simple — loading of new plush pillows — to the structural — adding 34 new staterooms to the aft superstructure of the early Vista-class ships.   Workers will have put in more than 10 million hours on the ships.

The premium line began major changes to its first three Vista-class ships last April when ms Westerdam added 34 staterooms, a Pinnacle Bar, new shops, and an Explorations Café in the Crow’s Nest.  Similar additions will be completed on ms Zuiderdam in May 2008 and on ms Oosterdam in May 2009.  The fourth Vista ship, ms Noordam, was delivered with all Signature of Excellence enhancements in place.

At year’s end, Prinsendam will complete a scheduled dry dock to refurbish staterooms, expand the shopping promenade, replace carpeting and flooring, and add an Explorations Café and new meeting spaces.

Notable elements of Signature of Excellence include the Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine — a state-of-the-art onboard show kitchen where guest chefs and culinary experts provide cooking demonstrations and classes — Explorations Café powered by The New York Times and teens-only activity areas.  Across the fleet, standard stateroom amenities now include flat-panel television sets, make-up mirrors, stainless-steel ice bucket and tray, high-thread-count linens, large fluffy cotton towels, deluxe bathrobes and plush Euro-top Mariner’s Dream Beds.

Shipboard program changes include an expanded Exploration Speaker series, unique Medallion and Collection shore excursions, i-Pod art tours of all ships, new wine packages, early embarkation program, flexible As You Wish dining, expanded Pinnacle Grill menu, exclusive flatware, china and stemware in all restaurants, and a broad expansion of the Greenhouse Spa and Salon facilities and treatments.

On Half Moon Cay, the line’s award-winning private Bahamian island, new shore activities were added, including a stingray adventure, horseback riding, family-friendly aqua park, and personal watercraft course.  Holland America Line also created the Private Oasis at Half Moon Cay, a private bungalow extending over the water, where guests can enjoy exclusive butler service, gourmet meals, full bar service, hot tub and massage services.