The new president of Holland America Line has promised to ‘protect and enhance’ the on board culture while bringing more first-time cruisers to the brand.
Orlando Ashford said it was important to make the ‘pie bigger’ without losing the ‘strong affection’ people have for Holland America.
“We have beautiful ships, but so do other companies. you can steal a design; you can’t steal the culture on board. It is precious and a reason why a lot of people return. But we are missing opportunities to promote the value. I had never cruised before I took this role but the industry should have been courting me.”
Ashford joined the company on December 1 last year from US consultation firm mercer and has since been on two cruises. He is keen to make the many countries and ports that Holland America ships visit a much bigger focus for the company.
“I want to attract people who really want to experience destinations.
“We will talk more about the places we visit on board and offer more overnights in port and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. It’s what people want.”
Ashford said the line is also looking at Cuba now that the country is starting to open up.
“The advantage of small ships is we can get to more destinations and take people where they want to go.”
The 2,650-passenger ship will be the biggest in the Holland america fleet when it launches in April 2016.