This post opens and is part of the “Experience quick review” series, which will be about the experiences I live as customer. The feedback I provide here about the Experience, while reflective of years of knowledge and expertise in the field of designing and delivering Customer Experience, is given in a quick & (hopefully at times) fun way, meant to show the Customer perspective, to inspire and to trigger further thinking. The Summary part provides a quick review using my professional criteria’s, hence reflects the consultant view more than the customer view.

Before the Experience

This week (29 February-4 March) is Krokusvakantie in The Netherlands, which means my oldest son is off from school for a week while my youngest can go to the creche. We often take the chance to go on family holidays, but this year we planned to go away just for the weekend at the end of the holidays so that I can work while my mom is here until Friday morning and can take care of my son. However, to give my son a nice start of the holidays while still doing something special with my mum (that lives in Italy and comes here only ever so often), and taking advantage both of the 29 February extra hours gift and of the Museumkaart I recently bought for every member of our family, I decided to look up a museum that we could visit together, so I started a brief search.


Both because of its popularity and because listed on the Museumkaart website, I quickly came to “Het Scheepvaartmuseum”, The National Maritime Museum. From my ipad, I could very easily find the opening hours (which were great starting at 9 AM also on a Monday) I needed as well as extra information about children activities organized for  this holiday week, so I didn’t need to search further.

During the Experience

Arrival first impression
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As you arrive both the building exterior (a fort in the water accessible via a small bridge) and the interior (an amazing glass ceiling in the inner courtyard) are immediately worth of notice.


Tickets & wardrobe

There  is a standard ticket box with a short queue and an extra information point which also works as fast lane for people with online tickets or Museumkaart. We go there, and we quickly get a bar-coded wristband. Downstairs in the bright, clean locker room, you scan the barcode, and a secure locker automatically opens for you. When you finish your visit, you return to the room, scan your wristband, the locker opens, and you collect your belongings.


Audio Tour Facility

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Immediately next to the ticket office and on the way to the wardrobe, there is an “audio tour tower” where you can collect your audio device and very quickly set it in your language by simply waving it next to your flag. There are hardly any instructions to read, just four simple steps described with images and few words. Very straightforward and intuitive.
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During the visit, waving your audio device next to the audio sign will make the right audio start (without any fuss to figure what should you be listening to)

One of the most simple, efficient and best designed audio tour experience I have ever seen.


map is simple and clear to follow. Again little text to read and mostly images: efficient and effective!
The museum is nicely organized into four sections matching the navigation style: North, South, Est and West. We head North to go outside the museum where we find a full-scale model reconstruction of an ancient sailing ship.


Museum experience

The ancient sailing ship is really a well done and complete reconstruction,

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where you can see the crew sleeping rooms and hammocks, the dining place, the hold (where there were plenty of kids attraction and was nearly translated into a playground for them with the path across boxes and barrels) and even the toilets (holes in the wood that when opened unveiled a little mouse drawing). Once back in the museum we visited the Est side. Here the entire visiting path was well designed and thought of, and every category was like an experience.
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The “Navigation instruments” area for example had a stars theme. The entire wall was full of constellations while on the floor there was a path for kids to follow.

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In “The Photo albums” area you could just take a seat in one of the comfy armchairs and let the chair “tell you” the life of sailors and travellers, thanks to an incorporated audio system while experiencing the feeling of sitting in an old boat lounge.

In the “Glass, silver and porcelain”area you could open the various cabinets, and when doing so each light would go on unveiling an object while the audio would start telling about it.

And like this, each of the exhibitions we visited felt very special, designed to deliver a beautiful and immersive experience for your senses, even if sight and hearing were the most involved ones in the exhibitions.


Children’s Special

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There was a special tour for kids 3 to 6 years old (unfortunately my son wanted to move forward, and on his path after the first stop so we didn’t get to experience it fully) and an area where they could draw a crown.

Maybe missing at the entrance the possibility to make the kids wear something “pirates like” to make them fully enter in the mood and in the extraordinary world of ships (which especially at young age equals pirates ship).

Restaurant, Stairs/Lift & Toilets

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At the restaurant all the design and furniture had something to do with navigation or was in wooden. The stairs where either the stones one from the fort or in style similar to the one on the boats.
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Even the lifts (which bring you to every part of the main museum making it also disabled-friendly) were beautifully done with solid wood alternating to mirrors in the interior.

Toilets are easily accessible (also for disables) on every floor. There is a particular set of toilets in basement perfectly fitted into the arched and brick stones and looking like a beautiful cave, all adding to a wonderful experience.

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Human Touch

Definitely present in more occasions during the visit: at the presentation of the Museumkaart as I mentioned it was my first usage; at the restaurant where one of the waitresses offered to take a picture of the three of us when watching me taking one of my son and my mom; in the two guides for the children tour.


Five senses experience?

Overall, we found this museum delivers a beautiful and immersive experience for your senses: sight and hearing were the most active ones in the exhibitions, while touch was required in the outside ship. The taste was good in the restaurant, even though the menu may also contribute to the experience if it had dishes with a link to navigation (instead of the usual Dutch lunch). At least in the parts we visited, we didn’t experience any particular odor, which could instead also enhance the experience and help to keep it memorable.


Memorability & Recommendability

Overall we enjoyed the visit and built some beautiful memories as a family there, so that it will be memorable and we will recommend it to others.

Based on “pick end” rule of Branded Customer Experience, I missed something happening at the very end of our visit, i.e. at the exit, that would acknowledge our exit and/or reinforce any special memory just before exiting.

Kids, for example, could  receive a little something at the exit (even something as simple as a balloon or a postcard) to make the experience more memorable for them and also more “recommendable” (for example something that the kids can then show when back at school to their classmates, hence making free word of mouth advertisement for the museum).


On the experience pyramid

Considering the customer experience pyramid (meets needs, easy, enjoyable) from Dr. Elizabeth B.N. Sanders reintroduced by Kerry Bodine in Outside In, this museum definitely “meet needs“, it’s very easy to experience requiring no effort to get things done, it’s highly enjoyable and also meets our fourth criteria of “desirable” (to go and to return too, many times).

Well done, Het Scheepvaartmuseum’s team!!!


And you?

Did you already visit this museum? How was your experience? Which museum gave you the best experience so far? Let us know in the comments. We would love to hear your experience and, if possible, go and experience it too! And we would also love to hear what you think of this new series and its format. Useful, inspiring, valuable to you?



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