What Sets Koningsdam Apart

Koningsdam Elevates The Future Of Holland America Line

Koningsdam sets sail in April of 2016. Illustration courtesy of Holland America Line
Koningsdam sets sail in April of 2016. Illustration courtesy of Holland America Line

Change is afoot at Holland America Line.

The line, which has been around since 1873 and has been owned by Carnival Corporation & plc since 1989, recently bade farewell to Statendam and Ryndam after more than two decades in service as “dam ships.” Their exits come at a time when Holland America is preparing to welcome a new ship into the fleet: the 2,650-guest Koningsdam.

Named after Willem-Alexander, the first King of the Netherlands in more than a century, Koningsdam will be the largest ship ever constructed for Holland America Line when she sets sail on her maiden voyage in April of this year. The lead ship of the line’s new Pinnacle Class, she also represents a fairly substantial evolution of the Holland America Line product, with new features, amenities and touches that are designed to appeal to younger cruisers and families alike. This, while still pleasing the legions of loyal past passengers the line has amassed over the decades.

It’s not an easy task – but Koningsdam is up to it, poised to become the most influential ship launched since 2002’s Zuiderdam hit the scene.

A New Look

Koningsdam may look like her predecessors, but there's a world of difference under the hood. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Koningsdam may look like her predecessors, but there’s a world of difference under the hood. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

At first glance, Koningsdam looks much Eurodam and her sister Nieuw Amsterdam. But look closer and you’ll notice a number of design differences: Koningsdam sports an extra accommodations deck when compared to her predecessors, and her look does away with the dual-funnel arrangement of the Vista Class ships. Instead, Koningsdam’s designers have gone back to basics with a single Statendam-esque funnel that streamlines the new ship’s profile.

Koningsdam's new solo funnel is reminiscent of the Statendam of 1992. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Koningsdam’s new solo funnel is reminiscent of the Statendam of 1992. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Other small changes are afoot, including the removal of the midships glass elevators of her predecessors and a new Promenade Deck layout that favors lifeboats that are flush with the deck level instead of suspended above it by their davits.

New Amenities

Classy Space: the new two-story Queen’s Lounge will offer live music and dancing. Illustration courtesy of Holland America Line
Classy Space: The new two-story Queen’s Lounge will offer live music and dancing. Illustration courtesy of Holland America Line

The changes aren’t just reserved for the ship’s exterior appearance. Inside, a whole host of new amenities and public venues have been planned for Koningsdam.

In a nod to catering to cruisers of all ages, Koningsdam will feature the line’s first purpose-built family staterooms. At the other end of the spectrum, solo cruisers will find specially designed single occupancy staterooms that are designed to suit their needs – and their budgets.

Koningsdam also rolls out a number of public venues that are noteworthy firsts for the line. The ship will feature an expanded Queen’s Lounge that is reminiscent of the ballrooms aboard the ships of Cunard Line. Koningsdam also re-thinks the approach to live evening entertainment, with an entire section of the ship known as the Music Walk.

Koningsdam’s Upper Atrium level. Illustration courtesy of Holland America Line
Koningsdam’s Upper Atrium level. Illustration courtesy of Holland America Line

Clustered around the Music Walk are multiple shipboard venues, each of which highlights a different genre of music. The Lincoln Center Stage offers chamber music performances nightly, while Billboard Onboard is where live musicians rock the crowd with chart-topping hits. Rounding out the mix is B.B. King’s Blues Club and the World Stage, with its 270-degree LED projection in the main showroom, which has allowed Holland America to create new evening performances designed to immerse the audience in a panorama of sight and sound.

Cruisers can also blend their own wines at sea at the aptly named BLEND. Holland America partnered with Washington State-based Chateau Ste. Michelle in order to create this unique culinary offering for guests. Chateau Ste. Michelle is Washington state’s oldest and most acclaimed winery, and through the winemaking process, guests will learn interesting information about the history of Washington wines and winemaking, examine soil samples, and see how different vineyard sites impact the flavors and style of the wine. The onboard Cellar Master also will instruct guests on what characteristics, flavors and nuances to look for in the wine from each barrel.

Returning favorites include an elegantly restyled Crow’s Nest, the forward-facing watering hole situated high above the ship’s navigation bridge; and the Greenhouse Spa & Salon, which will still feature an elaborate Hydrotherapy Pool and heated ceramic loungers positioned next to floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the vast expanse of the sea.

A Ship For The 21st Century

A detail look at the Koningsdam builder's model at Cruise Shipping Miami. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
A detail look at the Koningsdam builder’s model at Cruise Shipping Miami. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Make no mistake about it: This isn’t your grandmother’s cruise ship. Koningsdam is hooked-up and plugged in like never before. Each of the ship’s 1,331 guest accommodations will feature bedside USB ports for charging your iPhones and other electronic devices. You can also say goodbye to the always-clingy shower curtain: showers will be frameless and made of glass.

Culinary offerings have also seen a substantial evolution, with more distinct choices than ever being offered onboard. Guests will have the opportunity to enjoy fine dining in several alternative restaurants including Sel de Mer, a new French seafood brasserie; a new immersive farm-to-table dinner experience in the Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine; a re-designed casual Lido Market with themed serving stations; a grand main dining room; and returning past-passenger favorites such as the Pinnacle Grill, Canaletto Italian restaurant and the pan-Asian-themed Tamarind.

That Same Great HAL Service

Guests salute the crew of the Zuiderdam on a 2012 Alaska sailing. Photo © Aaron Saunders
Guests salute the crew of the Zuiderdam on a 2012 Alaska sailing. Photo © Aaron Saunders

Before I ever started writing about cruises, I’d sailed with Holland America a whopping 12 times – all in my early twenties. So why does someone in their twenties sail with a line that, for decades, has catered almost exclusively to an older demographic? Two reasons: the ships and the staff.

I’ve always admired Holland America’s beautifully designed ships, with their multi-million dollar collections of onboard art and their soothing décor. But it’s the legendary HAL service that made the biggest impression on me. Holland America’s staff are deserving of recognition as some of the friendliest and most personable at sea, and that goes right from their seafaring captains all the way down to the bartenders mixing your drinks or the cabin stewards who refresh your rooms each and every day.

Do you like your drink mixed a certain way? Your bartender will remember. Have you sailed with Holland America before? Chances are good that someone will greet you by name. I’ve run into former HAL crew members who have moved on to other ships who still address me by name, and it’s nothing short of astonishing. Holland America’s legion of loyal past guests – known as Mariners – repeat heavily with the line, and it’s largely due to the excellent service onboard.

Koningsdam: The Future of Holland America

Photo © Aaron Saunders
Photo © Aaron Saunders

Koningsdam isn’t a radical departure from the Holland America Line formula, but she is a gentle nudge in a newer direction. Change is hard, particularly when you have the kind of loyal past-passenger base that Holland America does. But this is change for the better, and Koningsdam represents a new chapter in this venerable line’s history.

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    • True enough – but the responsibility for a lot of that lies with P&O Australia, not HAL.

  • I’ve done about a dozen cruises on HAL lines. HAL has a great relationship with the RSVP gay cruise line. Going on the Nieuw Amsterdam in just a few weeks. I understand that RSVP will book the Koningsdam on Feb 5-12, 2017. Looking forward to this new ship.

  • We just returned home from sailing on the Christening Cruise of the Koningsdam. Holland America went out of its way to make this a memorable sailing including Queen Maxima of the Netherlands christening the ship is a wonderful morning of ceremonies. Hats off to everyone who participated in the festivities. There are some things we liked a lot better on this ship and other things we like better on the older ships. New isn’t always better. Our food was terrific and we liked the added Tamarind Asian fusion restaurant where the food was outstanding. Breakfast was a bit of a zoo with many more people and not much more seating. We liked the way the Lido was set up with various stations and you soon got to know where what you really liked was served. We heard the dining room was very slow, probably related to a new crew with a new ship getting routines down. We only ate one lunch in the dining room. We like the bathroom which was bright and easy to use and particularly liked the glass shower. The room was a bit smaller than the same rooms in the same category on other ships and the balcony was smaller only accommodating chairs and not chaise lounges. Not a problem for us, just providing information. The TV availability and selection was really sub-par. Wifi did not always work and was expensive but the same as on other HA ships. Our biggest disappointment was that there was NO change in the smoking policy. So your lovely balcony could be ruined by a cigar smoking guest in the next room who set out on the balcony smoking cigars every night. We were lucky this cruise not to have smokers on either side of us which made us very happy. Our friends, however had four smokers on one side of them and two smokers on the other side of them which left them unable to use their balcony. What a shame. Most other lines now prohibit smoking on balconies. And when folks smoke on their balconies the smoke does come into the rooms and then circulates to surrounding rooms. When will HA get the message that this is not acceptable to most guests? And there is smoking in the casino which wafts throughout that floor including the shops etc. It is a pity that this beautiful, new, crisp, clean ship is already, after the first sailings, smelling like a long used dirty ashtray. For some reason our port stops were quite short arriving at 10:00isn and on board for sailing at 5:00 pm. With several ports’ major interest points being two hour drives away from the ports, it made for very short times in say Seville, Santiago de Compostela, and Normandy. And since the ports were not distant from one place to the next we weren’t sure why the times in port were so short. And once again, on this sail a port was skipped. The LeHavre, which is the port for Paris was eliminated due to rumors of truckers striking and road blocks. I think the actually troubles were a week later but then I am not second guessing the decision makers just reporting. On our last 5 HA sailing we have missed one to three ports on each sailing. Is this just the new NORM due to our world or is this something that happens more frequently on HA? All in all it was a good sailing and we remain loyal to HA in spite of those things that we like. I don’t think we will book again until the smoking policy is changed, but I said that last time and booked this sailing so who knows. HA did announce that another ship which will be the Nieuw Statendam will debut in 2018 and will be very much like the Koningsdam. It seems HA is moving in the direction of the larger ships which are still considered midsize particularly in view of the new monster ships.


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