Ever feel like cruise lines are missing an opportunity to help connect passengers to the ports and empower them to sightsee on their own? Holland America Line is aiming to change that, transforming their Crow's Nest bars into destination-focused lounges — called EXC, or Exploration Central. These lounges will debut starting with the Westerdam in May 2017 and will be rolled out to the entire fleet by the end of the year.
Here, passengers will find tables with interactive maps and guides built in, as well as a relocated shore excursions desk with guides trained to make personalized suggestions in each port based on passengers' interests as well as a series of more intense shore excursions. The space will also have a classroom designed for port lectures, a collection of travel books, a kiosk that shows weather and ship position, and a desk that allows you to add your take on travel and mark interactive maps with (for example) your favorite restaurant in different ports. It will also host local entertainers who come aboard to perform.
The New York Times-branded cafe will remain, as will the bar, and the future bookings desk will be moved into this space as well.