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Alan Wilson, editor of the Cruise News Daily, wrote a piece about the Eurodam News Blog, which the agency manages, in which he names it the best weblog in the cruise industry. We think Alan has pretty good taste in weblogs:

More Than Just a Lot of Page Views
It doesn’t seem like it’s a well-kept secret anymore. After only being “open for business” for about 15 months, Holland America’s Eurodam News Blog has already passed the one million page view mark.

Since its launch in June 2007, it has continually informed “ship-heads” about what’s new in the life of the line’s newest ship — even before it was a ship. It has evolved to become the best cruise line blog we’ve found on the Internet.

There are several reasons for this. One is that there are dozens of contributors. Many are actually aboard the ship, there are also frequent contributions by department heads, and sometimes even readers who have sailed aboard the ship.

The result is an entertaining mix of types of postings that takes readers behind the scenes on the ship, showing functioning of the vessel, interesting events that take place on board, an occasional profile of a crew member or officer and sometimes simply a “postcard” (picture) from a port of call, which may be a picture of the ship submitted by a reader or a nice shot of a scene from a port taken by a crew member.

Each item is usually only a few paragraphs long and usually includes a picture or sometimes a short video.

Recent items have shown where your call goes when you call the purser’s desk from your cabin, why they paint the name of the ship on the dock, photos from several plaque ceremonies (which occur the first time the ship calls at a port), and special events such as the one you have to see to believe on our Web site at http://www.cruisenewsdaily.com/nf81002.html

The coordinator of the blog is Buck Banks in Miami, and everything filters through that office before it gets posted. Banks and the small group in Miami do an excellent job of editing the items (when English isn’t the first language of many of the contributors, they may need a little polishing to correct spelling or grammar) because each item retains the individual voice of the contributor, and chances are the readers don’t even realize the editing has taken place (which is the mark of a good editor).

Banks is also the one that makes sure the items keep flowing in, and at the occasional times when new ideas don’t flow from the ship fast enough, he comes up with things he wants to know about and asks the ship to send some pictures and information.

When the blog was being planned, the Miami coordination was put into place (as opposed to a variety of people posting directly) because Holland America wanted to ensure the quality of the finished product. Being a premium cruise line, and since the blog was going to represent them to the world (and potential customers), they wanted it to reflect that quality and polish their cruise product has. It was also important to make sure that it was being updated frequently with a variety of topics to keep reader interest.

That has paid off. Not only has the blog, with relatively little promotion, achieved the million page view milestone relatively quickly, but a phenomenal 12% of the visitors are shown to be daily visitors.

Over the last 15 months, the blog has evolved. Originally the blog was created so that the outside world could follow the building of the first of Holland America’s Signature Class vessels. Initially, most of the items were written by people in the corporate shipbuilding department about how ships are designed. As construction began at the Fincantieri yard in Italy, those gave way to the Carnival shipbuilding people at the yard and were accompanied by photos of the actual construction and delivery of major components to the yard. Once the basic structure was there, then there were dozens of photos of the rooms and equipment coming together. Sometimes you’d see something behind the scenes such as the equipment in the galley being installed, and on other days you might see a major piece of art being installed in a passenger area. Readers were taken right along with the ship as it was tested and benchmarks toward its completion were passed.

As crew members arrived in Italy and began to set up their departments, it was easy to sense the excitement through the blog, and the blog had really taken on a life of its own. The sense of excitement continued right through the ship’s christening and inaugural cruise.

Now the Eurodam News Blog has moved into a new phase of its life and is dealing with a ship in normal operation. Holland America spokesperson Erik Elvejord says the company is now considering where they go from here. Nieuw Amsterdam is coming in 2010. Do they start a second blog about its design and building? Or do they merge the two? Or does the Eurodam blog become the HAL Fleet blog with items posted daily from across the fleet? With Nieuw Amsterdam coming, these are decisions that will be made in the very near future.

For right now it’s all about Eurodam, what’s happening, and the Holland America employees aboard it. Check in daily at www.eurodamnews.com for a very interesting read.

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