Holland America Line’s new immersive voyages programme will target passengers wanting more than the “traditional” cruise experience, the brand’s destination expert has said.

The line’s 1,258-passenger capacity Maasdam ship will sail EXC In-Depth Voyages from September, calling at more than 154 ports in 36 countries on 12 cruises.

The Maasdam will sail with eight Zodiac inflatable boats, so passengers can access destinations without basic infrastructure.

Passengers will have overnight experiences at destinations, including Papeete, French Polynesia; Tauranga and Waitangi, New Zealand; and Halong Bay, Vietnam.

Each voyage in the programme is broken down into a theme, such as photography, science and nature; arts and culture; food, wine and spirits; history and perspective; and active exploration.

During a sailing, passengers can focus on one area of interest or a combination.

Speaking at a UK launch event for the EXC In-Depth Voyages programme, Bill Fletcher, the line’s senior director of destination marketing said: “This is a new initiative. It is really driven by the fact there is a subset of our audience that is looking to go to places that we have not traditionally offered.

“We are looking for people who have had the traditional cruise experience and want to connect more meaningfully with the destination.”

The first EXC In-Depth Voyage departs from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on September 10 and calls at Easter Island, Polynesia; The Pitcairn Islands; and Fakarava, French Polynesia – all in the South Pacific.

EXC In-depth voyages, part of the line’s Explorations Central theme, last from 12 to 34 days but can be combined so passengers could sail on Maasdam for 239 days.

“[We are] offering more unique and diverse itineraries and the chance to interact with the destinations that we go to,” Fletcher added.

When asked if the programme was an attempt to propel Holland America into the luxury expedition market, Fletcher said: “We really do not claim to be an ultra-luxury brand – that is Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn and Silversea.

“We are using the word exploration not expedition. It is completely different pricing and a completely different niche.”