I have just returned from a fantastic cruise on board the brand new ms Koningsdam. Launched in Spring 2016, she is the first new ship for Holland America Line in eight years. The name Koningsdam comes from the Dutch for king (Koning) and of course the usual ‘Dam’ ending as all the ships in the fleet have. Boasting impressive amenities, much technological advancement, new additions for the line plus the most luxurious ships ever build for Holland America Line she is a true beauty, carrying just over 2,600 passengers.
As soon as you step on board you are greeted by quality furnishing and expensive artwork that runs throughout the ship. I would recommend taking a trip up (or down) the staircase towards the bow of the ship to see the very impressive artworks, made out of buttons and toy cards to name just two items! There are paintings of famous landmarks, musicians and instruments all around the ship. There seems to be a lot of space on board this ship, the staterooms seem particularly bigger plus the public areas are adorned with much more space than usual.
There are 13 decks to explore, so let’s start at the top. The observation deck (deck 12) is at the bow of the ship, housing the Crows Nest pub which is great place for a sea day, I enjoyed a rather interesting talk here whilst cruising through the straits of Messina with excellent views. There is a library with an expensive selection of travel guides and novels, an internet centre plus the Explorations café. Here you will get complimentary nibbles throughout the day served with coffee for a cover charge. Outside you will find The Retreat, this is the adults only area. Here you can pay a daily charge, or a charge to cover your whole cruise for a private cabana with light refreshments and snacks which a great idea and one I would highly recommend – look out for the very big green bunny here!
Deck 11 offers plenty of places to relax on a sun lounger at the aft of the vessel, with views looking town to deck 9. You can find a sports court with basketball hoops, football nets and of course shuffleboard, which is a must for playing at sea! You will also notice some outdoor fitness equipment which is all complimentary and included in the price. Around the deck is a jogging track, ideal for that early morning sprint or jog watching the sunset at the end of the day. My veranda balcony stateroom was also on deck 11, a rather spacious and well appointed room it had a very comfortable double bed, a lounge area with table and desk area. Plenty of storage space with wardrobes, cupboards and drawers, a fridge, safe and an en-suite bathroom with complimentary Elemis toiletries and a very large powerful shower. You can use a USA or European adapter on board, plus there are USB ports, ideal for charging things like mobile phones or table devices both at the desk area and on the bedside table.
The Panarama Deck (10) offers more accommodation plus an expansive area to sit in the middle of the ship and overlook the pool at deck 9. If you are travelling with the children, you will find Club HAL here with three different clubs depending on children’s ages (3-6, 7-12 and the teens), all have their own private areas with supervision. The Panorama Bar is a good meeting place both day and night with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the ocean plus a view overlooking the pool. There’s a big screen showing blockbuster films nightly, plus in the day has a selection of programmes including BBC Earth as part of their partnership with HAL. Now if you are feeling hungry, there is the complimentary New York Deli & Pizza, open throughout the day, you can start with a breakfast bagel and then have made to order Pizza’s for lunch and dinner. You simply place your order, you are given a buzzer and return to pick it up a few minutes later. If you wish you can take it back to your stateroom as it will be served in an authentic takeaway box! For an alternative dining option, you could also try Tamarind which is an Asian fusion restaurant with a live sushi corner, we ate here on the first night and wow what a menu!
The Lido Deck (9) seems to be the hub of the ship for daytime activity. You can find the award winning Greenhouse Spa & Salon with complimentary sauna plus a range of massages and treatments available for a cover charge. The gymnasium is open throughout the day offering health and wellbeing classes. The Lido pool is in the middle of the ship, with three hot tubs and plenty of comfortable sun loungers. I really liked the retractable roof over the Lido Pool which was open in the day and closed at night as the venue took on a different persona. The Lido bar will keep you refreshed, but if it’s an ice cream you want, you must visit Gelato – they are amazing! Talking of amazing, you must try a Dive In burger. These are again served at lunch and dinner and you order in a similar way to the New York Pizzeria and Deli in that you are handed a buzzer whilst it is prepared for you. There is a further pool at the aft of the ship with plenty of outdoor seating areas. In between both pools, you can find the Lido Market. This is the buffet option on board, where you will find individual workstations where meals are prepared in front of you. You must also visit the carvery, salad bar and try the daily specials, these are a real highlight.
Decks 4-8 are accommodation with a choice of interior, ocean view, veranda balcony to suites. If you choose to have a Neptune Suite, not only will you get plenty of space, you will also get special access to the Neptune Lounge which is a private area with complimentary snacks plus concierge.
Promenade Deck 3 house the World Stage, this is the impressive theatre which is unlike anything I have seen at sea before. The seating surrounds the majority of the stage plus with the LCD backdrop makes it a fantastic night time venue. There is a casino if you fancy some of the Las Vegas lifestyle. The art gallery is well worth a visit with some excellent pieces of work, these are available to buy on board and can be shipped to your home address for a small charge. The Signature shops sells branded HAL merchandise, duty free items plus travel essentials. You will find the upper area of the Queens Lounge here which overlooks the impressive stage and dance floor. In the atrium of the ship, you will find a great sculpture which spans three decks, plus the Front Office for any queries whilst on your cruise. The Grand Dutch Café is worth a visit too, this area has Dutch staff and brings back some of the heritage to the line, with complimentary snacks like chips with peanut butter and mayonnaise – yes I did try it and it was quite nice! The photo gallery has all of your cruise snaps available as souvenirs of your cruise. At the aft of the ship you will find the main dining room, spanning over two decks, this impressive area offers a variety of meals every evening. I thought the restaurant looked like others I had seen on similar brands, I later found out the designer Adam D Tihany had designed this area with its must see wine tower centrepiece.
Plaza Deck (2) has more entertainment venues and shopping opportunities. Lincoln Centre Stage offers a quiet place to relax with live classical music whilst Billboard Onboard has duelling pianos which are very impressive and requests are taken by the pianists! The Queens Lounge is a lovely area to learn some ballroom dancing, enjoy a spot of afternoon tea, take in the BB Kings Blues live band or the late night evening nightclub. You’ll also find a couple of speciality restaurants here including Pinnacle Grill steakhouse with its seafood and steaks – I was presented with a whole lobster and steak! Sel De Mer has a seafood theme with the fresh catch of the day, plus sharing platters. You can also get hands on with Blend (wine tasting & making), Notes (Whisky tasting) plus the Culinary Arts Centre where you can watch the chef’s cook plus get the opportunity to eat the meal at the end. These three are popular and do get booked up, so I would advise booking them as soon as you get on board and are certainly worth the cover charge.
Finally on Main Deck (1) you will find more accommodation, meeting rooms and the shore excursion desk.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time on board the Koningsdam, the designers have really changed things that make it different from the older ships but still in keeping with Holland America Line’s history. Certainly a ship that offers a variety of entertainment options, a choice in dining all with a comfortable modern and spacious feel about it.