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Jason

Holland America adds upgrades, enhancements

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Holland America adds upgrades, enhancements

If you don't find napkin folding, art auctions or bingo enriching enough to lure you to sea, Holland America agrees.

As part of a $225 million infusion of enhancements planned across the fleet, the premium-class cruise line relaunched a revised Ryndam in October.

Among Ryndam's new highlights: an innovative Culinary Arts Center, the Explorations Cafe, upgraded youth facilities and luxurious amenities in every stateroom, such as plush Euro-top mattresses.

Aspects of these enhancements had been introduced on a few of the line's other ships. By the end of 2006, though, every Holland America vessel will have undergone a "Signature of Excellence" makeover, as the line dubs its upgrade program.

As a harbinger, Ryndam's changes are designed to retain the decade-old vessel's appeal to the line's loyal well-heeled older passengers as well as meet the needs of the baby-boomer generation. The focus, therefore, is mostly on the "software" -- that is, amenities that leave the hull unchanged, but do an extreme makeover on nearly everything else. Though the line's ships weren't exactly in the snaggletooth category, Ryndam spent time in the body shop, grafting changes that pump up the pleasures.

Call the evolution more mental therapy than physical therapy.

Ryndam's primpings add dash to its culinary offerings. Now on the 1,258-passenger ship, passengers not only can eat well, but can indulge their hunger for knowledge of all things alimental -- at least in terms of cooking, Holland America-style. During every sailing, culinary experts lead demonstrations, classes and tastings that highlight cuisine reflecting the ship's itinerary and different special occasions. Celebrity and guest regional chefs also participate on select cruises. Some of the planned activities will be free; private cooking classes (limited number) cost $19 per session.

Another innovation mixes culture and cafe latte.Check out Explorations Cafe where you can sip coffee, browse through a selection of more than 2,000 books chosen by The New York Times staff, or enjoy music and surf the Internet

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