After spending just a few hours aboard Koningsdam, one thing jumps out at you. This ship represents more than the first in a new class of vessel (Pinnacle-class). It is a vision of Holland America's future. While the ship's designers have retained much of the company's DNA, the ship's decor seems lighter and more contemporary. Welcome to the future Holland America Line!
Even artwork in the stairwells reflects a new direction
New to Koningsdam is an intimate French seafood brasserie called Sel de Mer. Located next to the popular Pinnacle Grill, Sel de Mer, or “ sea salt” in French, serves a classic selection of French seafood dishes with a contemporary twist — from fresh oysters, escargots, seafood chowder and fruits de mer to salt-crusted whole fish, scallops and bouillabaisse. The intimate decor of Sel de Mer re-creates a setting reminiscent of the finest French brasseries. This new dining venue, the creation of Chef Rudi Sodamin, will soon appear on other HAL ships in the form of a "pop-up" restaurant.
Sel de Mer
Our lunch menu at Sel de Mer was an abbreviated version of the restaurant's dinner offerings (see sample menu). Rickee started off with a Prime Beef Steak Tartare topped with a quail egg. I opted for the Trio of Seafood Salad, consisting of King crab, shrimp and tuna tartare salads. Mine was delicious and, one thing you should know about Rickee: if she does not like something, she won't eat it. She ate every bite of her tartare. We skipped the Bouillabaisse course and went right to our main course, a Steak Frites for me and Dover Sole Meunière for Rickee. My NY Strip was a perfectly cooked medium and served with a basket of hot, crispy French fries. Rickee's fish soon disappeared, once again affirming her satisfaction.
Sel de Mer lunch menu
Soon after lunch, Koningsdam arrived in Nassau, Bahamas. We have visited here many times over the years, and chose to spend more time exploring this huge new ship rather than enjoying a shore excursion. After all, we only have four days aboard Koningsdam! We did, however, disembark long enough to find some small local souvenir shops located right next to the pier.
After some abbreviated souvenir shopping, we stopped to take a couple of photos with the ship, then re-boarded Koningsdam to continue our tour of the ship. As a reminder, don't forget to take a photo ID with you when you go ashore. We did not remember to do this in Nassau so we were sent to a special port security office which supposedly had a copy of the ship's manifest. However, this office was being painted and was closed! Finally, a security guard dressed in military garb studied our key cards and decided we were not a threat and let us board through the crew line.
Rickee stops for a photo in front of Koningsdam
We can already tell that it will be difficult to review this ship with only four days at our disposal. There are more public venues (clubs, bars, restaurants) on Koningsdam than the other HAL ships we have reviewed in the past.
We did have an opportunity this afternoon to sit out on our spacious veranda and enjoy a view of Atlantis Hotel and Casino. Unfortunately, we have a neighbor who must be a chain smoker and the cigarette smoke finally forced us back into our stateroom. The good news (for us, anyway) is that after April, 2017, Holland America will adopt a no-smoking policy on stateroom balconies.
Atlantis Hotel & Casino, Nassau
We had some time before dinner to stop for a pre-dinner drink at Ocean Bar on Deck 2. My Crown Royal ($6.75) was accompanied by a small plate of delicious appetizers. A pianist played contemporary music making Ocean Bar the perfect spot for a pre-dinner cocktail. The appetizers served in the evening are definitely a step up from what we remember on other HAL ships. Very good!
Appetizers at Ocean Bar
For dinner this evening, we were asked to meet our group in the Dining Room on Deck 2 at 5:45. The Dining Room is Koningsdam's traditional main dining venue open for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day and, dining here is complimentary. The Dining Room opens for dinner at 5:15, the earliest I can recall on any cruise ship. When we arrived at 5:45, the restaurant was nearly empty. No venue on board Koningsdam reflects the forward vision of Holland America more than The Dining Room. The formality of wood surfaces has been replaced with a light and bright, almost whimsical decor that you don't expect to see on Holland America. The center of the two story dining room is accented by large curved columns that almost look like the rib cage of a huge whale!
The Dining Room
The service in The Dining Room was typical Holland America, crisp and efficient. The menu offered a wide variety of starters, main courses and desserts. My Chicken Soup with Soba Noodles was tasty, albeit a little heavy on the white pepper. Rickee's French Onion soup was an onion-filled traditional pot of beef broth with melted cheese atop a bread crouton. My Rack of Lamb main course was perfectly cooked medium rare and fork tender. Rickee had the Mushroom Risotto which looked quite nice from where I was sitting.
Rack of Lamb
Our waiter, Rudy, mention that he could expedite dinner if we were trying to make the early show. We mentioned that we would like to go to the show and he did an excellent job of getting our food delivered quickly. Thanks to Rudy, we were able to get to The World Stage (Deck 3) in time for the 7:15 presentation of Off The Charts.
Another departure from tradition is World Stage, Koningsdam's main theater. The 'theater-in-the-round' setup allows guests to surround the stage and see the action from all sides. Tonight's show was a lively performance by the ship's singers, dancers and musicians.
Off The Charts
Holland America has put a big emphasis on music and entertainment in the design of Koningsdam. It seems that everywhere you go on Decks 2 and 3 there is another venue for dancing or just enjoying music.
It has been a great day aboard Koningsdam. Tomorrow, we will be in Half Moon Cay, Holland America's private island!