Stepping aboard Nieuw Amsterdam last week in Venice felt much like stepping aboard Eurodam two years ago in Rotterdam. Even the events were familiar. In both cases, the inaugural ceremonies fell over America’s Independence Day, and in both cases, royalty from the Netherlands named the ships.
With deck plans from either ship, you could easily find your way around the other. Indeed, during an age when other companies are introducing ships with headline-grabbing innovations — grass lawns and restaurant complexes on Celebrity, entertainment megaplexes on Oasis and Epic — Holland America Line continues to steer the course with its Signature-class ships — traditional mid-size vessels with a mix of the tried-and-true. HAL President and CEO Stein Kruse calls it “part of the beauty of Holland America Line, consistency as we build classes of ships.”
The key difference between Nieuw Amsterdam and Eurodam is largely in the decor. Through art, craftwork and photos, Nieuw Amsterdam reflects the history and spirit of New York City (known, of course, as Nieuw Amsterdam to its Dutch founders.) There’s even a New York City Checker Cab and a hot dog stand (nonfunctioning) in Club HAL.
That’s not to say there is nothing new on the 2,106-guest Nieuw Amsterdam, the fourth vessel to carry the name for the line. Nieuw Amsterdam debuts a new wine pairing dinner called the Master Chef’s Table. The special evening in a semi-private room in the Pinnacle Grill features seven courses served on signature Versace plates. Cost: $89 per person, with a maximum of 18 people.
A mix of travel agents on board Nieuw Amsterdam referred to the ship in terms of “feels like coming home” and praised Holland America Line’s high standards of service.
Holland America Line executives emphasized the company’s continued investment in its fleet and the exceptional value of a “premium category” cruise on board HAL ships. “After being on this ship for the last week, what I’ve continued to see and experience is that the premium category is where the whole value relationship continues to be extremely strong,” said Rick Meadows, Holland America Line’s Executive Vice President, Marketing, Sales and Guest Programs. “I look at this ship and reflect back on all the other ships in the fleet. The on-board product and service delivery is just so solid and so strong. In this economy, one would think that the tendency would be to pull back, and that’s just not happening.”