`Koning’ means `king’ in Dutch and the new `Koningsdam’ from upper premium cruise line, Holland America Line, is a king of kings when it comes to cruising. Launched in April 2016, her inaugural sailing from Civitavecchia (Rome) started a season of Mediterranean and Northern Europe cruises followed by a Caribbean season into 2017. She’s a completely new class of ship for the cruise line in its 143 year heritage, and is the now most technologically advanced and possibly the most luxurious of their fleet of fourteen ships.
This beautiful, sleek, blue and white vessel compares elegantly with other cruise ships that come alongside during our sailing. She has a regal and traditional feel and her livery gives her more the impression of a vast, royal yacht than a commercial cruise ship. Rising high above sea level, her uppermost decks are topped with a retractable glass atrium housing the two tiered Lido pool area, with pools, plunge pools, jacuzzis and an outdoor movie screen while a second pool deck with hot tubs and a spectacular sea view can be found at the stern.
Once within her luxurious confines, it is soon apparent that the stylish and brand new Koningsdam is musically themed. Sculptures, paintings, drawings and other artworks depicting musicians, pop stars and instruments abound. A drawing of Jimmy Hendrix caught the eye first, followed by a series of wooden violin fronts, and a photograph of zebras morphing into piano keys. Detail is everything on this elegant, refined vessel, aimed very much at discerning guests, less so on the family market (although there are good kids amenities for holiday time), but very much for those who enjoy fine dining, excellent entertainment and top notch service.
Floral displays also incorporate the musical theme, an electric guitar is supported by garden trellis, entwined by orange and purple flowers in a display next to guest services. Throughout the ship, the imaginative attention to detail continues, and for those who lose track of time while at sea, the mats in the numerous elevators conveniently are inscribed with the day of the week and change magically overnight as the days pass all too quickly.
Dining options are first class, with a speciality seafood restaurant, Sel de Mer, serving platters of fresh shell-fish, grilled fish of the day, squid, steaks and house specialities that change daily. Pinnacle Grill delivers the finest tender steaks in a traditional wood lined atmosphere, and is also home to occasional pop-up venues that include Jonnie Boer’s three-Michelin-starred De Librije, at $49 per person and $69 per person supplements. But sometimes it’s the simplest things that tell the story and the best chips on board have to be right by the Lido pool, at the poolside `Dive in’, a favourite for gourmet burgers and hot dogs too.
There are ten dining facilities in total including New York Deli, a second pool-side venue, the Grand Dutch Cafe for a traditional Dutch snack, coffee or cooling lager, while other speciality restaurants include the Asian themed Tamarind and the Italian Canaletto. The buffet style Lido Market adds a myriad of traditional, exotic, eclectic and homely dining choices, and is formed of a long display of food, divided into themed sections, running a bow to stern for down the port and starboard flanks of deck 9.
The feeling of being on board a vast, regal, private yacht, is continued in the elegant Grand Dining Room, with its crystal chandeliers, sparkling glass, polished silver and fine porcelain. Here traditional and international cuisine is served by bustling waiting staff. For a taste of contemporary cuisine, the Culinary Arts Centre has a show kitchen for demonstrations and cooking classes by day, and becomes a dinner venue by night. Close by is `Blend’, for guests to learn about wines, wine tasting and blending, become a wine maker for a few hours and enjoy a bottle of their own wine.
With numerous bars, entertainment venues, theatres and stages, the ship come alive at night to everything from Blues in BB King’s, to classical music in the Lincoln Centre Stage and singers, pianists and contemporary musicians in Billboard Onboard. Guests move from venue to venue, stopping for a drink or a chat, pausing to meet friends or be greeted by friendly staff.
In creating the interior spaces, particularly the public areas, the designers were enraptured by the musical theme of the ship, so much so that the light-filled interiors they created with its fluid curves and long lines, are designed to mimic the interiors of instruments. The ship is an `architecture of music’ and nowhere is this clearer than on Deck 3, with its central atrium `caged’ by a vast central sculpture, giving the impression of being within a vast stringed instrument.
Away from the other 2,500 or so guests, tranquility and calm can be found in the coolly furnished staterooms, the majority with their own verandas, and each with the feel of a luxury hotel room, featuring cool colours, crisp bedlinen, 100% Egyptian cotton towels, powerful showers and Elemis toiletries.
And with such an abundance of places to dine, excursions to take, venues to visit, events to plan in, it’s as well the ship has its own Navigator app, which opens in the browser of smartphones, tablets and laptops, acting as a personal planner and diary, to ensure the savvy guest never misses a beat on this right royal cruise ship.
Visit www.hollandamerica.com or call 0843 374 2300 for up-to-date pricing and schedules.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Holland America Line.