We’d heard quite a lot about Holland America Line (HAL) and their style and ethos, but never actually experienced one of their ships – so when the chance came to visit the newest addition to the fleet, MS Koningsdam, we were eager to take it.
See where Holland America’s MS Koningsdam sails at: gocruise.co.uk/sarah-and-bjarne
The drive down to Portland (Dorset) where the ship was to be docked, required an early start – and as the day approached our enthusiasm lessened a little. Portland is a little out of the way from many starting points, ours included – and also seemed a little overwhelmed by this big ship in port (jointly with TUI’s Mien Sheiff 5 the biggest ships to visit in 2016). However the day was a great day.
We met a lovely couple, Bert & Lerie, in the cruise passenger area, and they became our joint explorers of the ship for the day. We were free to explore MS Koningsdam at our leisure with a few cabins able to be visited to see the accommodation, though the ship was mainly full and this was the second port on the itinerary – as with many Holland America Line sailings the embarkation port was Amsterdam.
The ship is not actually big by today’s standards, but is a notable size at 99,500grt with 2,650 passengers sharing the space – and certainly more than Portland has been used to (which was evident in some queuing for excursions and port shuttles).
As Koningsdam was a new ship we expected the cabins to be well appointed and weren’t disappointed – though they seemed a little narrow, possibly though due to the built in cupboards (which do of course provide opportunity to keep things tidy and hidden away).
Décor was muted rather than vibrant, generally with a palate of browns, reds and purples seeming to have filled the designer’s mood board when creating the ideas. Curves, and classy lines were everywhere in the public areas of this ship with a bit of a musical theme running throughout.
This gives a good flow to the public areas which often subtly move from one sector to another feature. Plaza and Promenade Decks to the bottom of the ship are the key entertainment and public performance spaces. The Dining is all to the ship aft, with the entertainment to the fore.
On Promenade Deck, from the Atrium area the light and bright Grand Dutch Cafe (for coffees, cakes, beers, wines and spirits) leads forward to the The Queen’s Lounge- a galleried performance and dancing location (with the dance floor and stage below on the Plaza Deck). This has the air of fine dance venues of years gone by – celebrations, parties, and general good times could be easily imagined here. It’s also the location for BB King’s Blues Club at night.
Onwards is the Casino – which has the full range of slot machines as well as gaming tables. At the very front of the ship is an innovative entertainment venue The World Stage – unfortunately we didn’t witness much more than a rather 80’s looking room with seats that appeared to be comfortable – though the video screens which cover the perimeter of the venue were evident, and no doubt these can be used to transform the feel of the place for different productions and purposes.
Heading out of the World Stage towards the aft of Koningsdam on Plaza Deck, we passed through the Lincoln Stage Centre and the Billboard Onboard area – two comfortable lounges decked out from the red and purple of the designer’s palate. These will play host to hits of today and years gone by playing to the musical theme of the ship.
Notes Whisky Tasting Bar is located next to these 2 venues, with an enticing selection of whiskies to select from – as you learn about their characters.
Wine is subject to similar treatment in Blends Wine Tasting Bar – not only can you taste great wines, but learn of their origins too.
For a relaxing drink there’s always the Oceans Bar, which can be imagined playing host to cosy gatherings with good sea views.
For the culinary skilled (or challenged but willing to learn) try a visit to the superb Culinary Arts Centre – where food preparation and presentation can be learned and attempted. It’s also possible to eat here as a speciality restaurant.
Other speciality dining choices include the Pinnacle Grill with the air of an elegant American Steak house, and Sel De Mare Seafood Brasserie with the atmosphere of a French private dining room. There’s also Canaletto with an Italian emphasis, and Tamarind for PanAsian fare.
The selection of wines on display at Pinnacle Grill, and also prominent in the main Dining Room, give indications that if wine is important to you the Holland America Line Sommeliers will be able to locate something suitable for your tastes.
The Dining Room is an elegant, spectacular, and flamboyant location – in creams, whites and reds – with Christmas-style baubles hanging from the ceiling in curvy clusters. The dinner we were served was lovely – a delicate scallop and lobster starter; steak which fell apart as you took your knife to it; and a beautifully caramel-esq Peanut and Chocolate Tarte with Rum & Raisin ice-cream. However a passenger we chatted to was a little underwhelmed by his food experience (though he was familiar with Oceania Cruises renowned for spending more per-passenger on food than any other cruise line).
The upper decks of MS Koningsdam are quite spectacular – with a pleasant Lido Market cafeteria style restaurant at the rear of the ship, opening onto the Sea View Pool with its smart layout.
To the mid of the ship on the upper levels is the spectacular Lido Pool area with retractable cover for sunnier climes. There are many private bays and alcoves around this area and an elegant feel to the space. There’s also a New York Deli and Pizza servery, allowing delicious snacks to be savoured here without having to locate to another part of the ship.
With a Sports Court and childrens’ facilities on the Panorama and Sun Deck, there’s also the Spa and Fitness Centre to the front of the ship – with treatment rooms, waterfall spa pool, salon, and a huge array of gym equipment so you can exercise looking out to sea.
Holland America line like to think of themselves as Spacious, Gracious, and Sophisticated with timeless style – there was much that we encountered on our brief visit to MS Koningsdam that suggested this may well be true.
Koningsdam sails initially to European and Caribbean itineraries – see more detail on where Holland America Line’s MS Koningsdam is sailing at our main website: gocruise.co.uk/sarah-and-bjarne.