When inaugurated in New York in February 2006, Noordam became the fourth ship in Holland America Line’s Vista-class series. The 1,918-passenger ship hosts many new features, including the innovative Explorations Café (a cyber-coffee house powered by The New York Times), an expanded Pinnacle Grill and a new Pinnacle Bar.
Noordam also was be the first ship to enter service with all of the service and product enhancements of the line’s Signature of Excellence initiative already in place. That initiative is an important one for Holland America Line, representing a $225 million investment in areas that directly improve the cruise experience. Staterooms fleetwide received plush Euro-top mattresses; top quality bed linens; over-sized, extra fluffy Egyptian cotton towels; flat panel TVs and DVD players. New Culinary Arts Centers (in conjunction with Food & Wine Magazine) were put into place on all ships; spas were expanded and spa services upgraded; youth facilities were improved and new Teens-only Lofts were added.
Noordam also introduced One-Touch Concierge Service, providing guests in verandah suites with access to personalized phone concierge service to assist with special requests, spa or dinner reservations, room service and other needs. Offering similar assistance, food, and a place to relax and work, the Noordam’s Neptune Lounge will offer concierge service to deluxe verandah suite guests.
Among the most progressive of the Signature of Excellence enhancements will be the Culinary Arts Center, with its state-of-the-art show kitchen that serves as a hub for the interactive gourmet experiences. Guests get an up-close view of the cooking action on large, plasma screens, while others may watch from the comfort of their staterooms. Each Culinary Arts Center has portable cooking stations where groups of up to 16 can participate in hands-on classes.
Like A Fine Home
Some of Noordam’s lesser-touted features are the millions of dollars of arts and antiques that imbue the ship with a sense of being in a fine home. Numerous (and notable) artifacts support two main themes shipwide: the Royal House of the Netherlands and the World of Music.
The history of the Dutch monarchy is represented by busts of kings and queens who ruled the Netherlands. Reigning Queen Beatrix appears both in bronze sculpture and in silkscreens by Andy Warhol in the Queen’s Lounge. The atrium displays a noble sculpture of William of Orange, the Dutch prince who is remembered as the “Father of the Fatherland” for leading the Dutch revolt against the Spanish, gaining independence of the region now known as the Netherlands.
In the main lounge, the world of music is symbolized by sculptures of Mozart, a pair of violin chairs and a wall composed of violins. Adorning the Piano Bar are black-and-white photos of blues and jazz icons such as Dizzy Gillespie and B.B. King. The Crow’s Nest on Deck 10 features lively color sketches of various jazz artists.
With a shipping history of more than 130 years, Holland America Line has one of the world’s strongest seafaring traditions, and many art items on Noordam reflect that heritage. A number have been brought over from the old Noordam, including antique decorative pieces, stern carvings, wood reliefs and sculptures. Classic maritime themes, such as Captain Stephen Card’s renowned marine paintings are found throughout Noordam as are decorative ship models.
Artists Gilbert Lebirge and Corinne Roger of Pietrasanta, Italy, were commissioned to design cast-aluminum elevator doors inspired by the art deco designs of New York’s Chrysler Building and lobby chairs highly stylized from the great ocean liner era.
British artist Susanna Holt created a sculpture of five bottlenose dolphins that appear to soar from the sea on Noordam’s Lido Deck. Also notable are beautiful tiled panels in the Explorer’s Lounge and Lido restaurant. Noordam is remarkably beautiful throughout because of the additional care that went into the selection of art for this ship.