Received in our offices this morning: SEATTLE, Jan. 9 -- Holland America Line will call its recently announced pair of new-builds the Signature Class, taking the name from an integral component of the premium line's branding and the current US$225 million Signature of Excellence initiative. With a firm order for one ship due in summer 2008 and an option for another in spring 2010, the Signature Class marks Holland America Line's latest class of new build vessels and the largest ever constructed for the premium line. Previous new-build series include the four-ship Statendam Class group, four-ship Rotterdam Class, and four-ship Vista Class. The line also owns and operates the 793-passenger Elegant Explorer, the ms Prinsendam. With an estimated all-in cost of $450 million each, the new 86,000-ton Panamax Signature Class vessels will be built at Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard. The vessels are unnamed at this time. "With innovative design and guest offerings, the Signature Class ships will continue the evolution of Holland America Line's sophisticated mid-sized ships and further our premium leadership position," said Stein Kruse, president and chief executive officer. "The two 2,044-passenger ships represent a 22 percent increase in our capacity and will allow us to achieve a greater share of the growing premium cruise market." The ships of the Signature Class will evolve from the line's Vista Class ships and further define and expand the Holland America Line premium brand with new concepts such as an innovative topside 144-seat restaurant and 50-seat lounge surrounded by panoramic views overlooking the ocean expanse and the Lido pool. Other additions are an Explorer's Lounge Bar, a premium wine-tasting lounge, an elegant luxury jewelry boutique, new atrium bar area, enhanced and reconfigured show lounge, and a new photographic and imaging center. The Signature Class goes beyond the Vista Class, adding decks and 63 new staterooms. Forty-seven will be verandah cabins and ten will be a new style of stateroom with ceiling-to-floor and wall-to-wall panoramic windows. Total, the new Signature Class will carry 1,022 double occupancy staterooms, with 67 percent featuring verandahs and 86 percent outside. Staterooms will spotlight all the Signature of Excellence premium amenities of plush Euro-top Mariner's Dream Beds, deluxe waffle/terry cloth robes, Egyptian cotton towels, flat panel TVs, dvd players, make-up mirrors with halo lighting, massage shower heads, professional grade hair dryers, fresh flowers and complimentary fruit baskets. The Signature Class will continue several much-admired Holland America Line features, including outside-view, glass elevators at midship; the Explorations Cafe -- a cyber-coffee house powered by The New York Times; the Pinnacle Grill and Pinnacle Bar; the innovative Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine Magazine, where culinary experts provide cooking demonstrations and intimate classes in a state-of-the-art onboard show kitchens; an expanded Greenhouse Spa and Salon with thermal suites and hydro-pool, the largest gymnasium ever built for Holland America Line; and a youth facility that includes the teens-only Loft. On the technical side, Signature Class ships will feature the latest state-of-the-art navigation and safety systems including dynamic positioning abilities to hold the ship in a precise position. The vessels will be powered by six diesel generators and propelled by the latest Azipod propulsion technology. "This new class of ships demonstrates the strength of our brand, the loyalty of our guests and the dedication of our more than 15,000 employees worldwide," said Kruse. "The added capacity will provide greater opportunities for our guests and employees alike."