All photos by Jason Leppert
The Koningsdam represents a substantial brand refinement for Holland America Line. From the outside, she looks like a larger version of her predecessors, with the classic dark blue hull plowing the seas, but inside the aesthetic is far brighter and the colors more vibrant. The effect is a more modern look without abandoning the line’s traditions.
Favorite venues like the Crow’s Nest observation lounge and Pinnacle Grill still come along for the ride, and so do new ones like the Music Walk and Grand Dutch Cafe (seen below), a fresh showcase of the line’s heritage. Other familiar spaces like the pool deck have expanded in scale to encompass two levels under the all-weather magrodome, but the size is felt more than on previous Holland America cruise ships, particularly at the Lido Market buffet. Stations are better delineated with indentations in between, but with no clear sense of where lines begin or end, crowds can form.
Besides a few other bottlenecks here and there, the flow of the ship is much greater than before, In fact, the interior design inspiration comes from music, and beautiful undulations and ribbing convey attributes of musical instruments, such as at the cheery white, yellow and red Dining Room. Even the art collection reflects this approach, as most of the dark antiques have since been displaced. But have no fear, a few vintage ocean liner paintings still make a showing.
Cabins onboard are particularly well appointed and continue the same refreshed design. Overall, rooms feel larger, even if only thanks to lighter wood tones that open up the space visually. The only carryover from before is the metallic pewter finish that accents the cabinets and crown molding. Verandah stateroom storage is great and features useful nooks below the flat panel television and off to the side of the closet. Other welcome inclusions are wall hooks and especially USB charging ports beyond traditional outlets.
Luxurious bathrooms are also a step up, with spacious shower enclosures lined with premium glass over a curtain. While it’s much better to have the space in the shower than out, the toilet is cramped beside it. It’s mounted at a 45-degree angle to facilitate plumbing access, but a slightly shallower angle would help alleviate this. Nonetheless, the bathroom is a pleasant standout, and other features, like a heated mirror that doesn’t fog up and a leg shaving bar, are helpful extras.
Activities on the Koningsdam are less innovative and mostly follow familiar offerings from Park West art auctions to Steiner spa facilities. Still, the thermal suite is quite impressive and features a greater variety of therapeutic saunas, showers and a pool (seen below). Unfortunately, access is not included with massages and costs extra. I’ve only just recently begun to enjoy ship spas, and my bamboo treatment was very nice until this surprising discovery.
The casino still permits smoking onboard which wouldn’t be such a problem if it was better contained, but the design of the ship includes a staircase between the gaming and great Music Walk entertainment district. As a result, both cigarette fumes and slot machine sounds periodically pollute the music venues below.
Not affected, thankfully, are the newly dedicated Culinary Arts Center an