The first in a new class of Holland America ships, Koningsdam is a game-changer for the cruise line. It's the only ship on which you can enjoy both "royal tea" in the afternoon and optical illusions via a 270-degree LED screen at night. Additionally, the ship's first-in-fleet innovations have opened the door to a wider variety of cruisers; Holland America has a reputation for attracting an older crowd, but the ship's new dining options, poolside movie nights and vibrant "Main Street" serving up some of the best live music at sea could be the ticket to luring younger generations -- including more families. If you prefer a relaxed vibe during the day and upbeat energy at night, here are seven reasons why you should take a Koningsdam cruise.
1. You're a big fan of live music
Music-lovers will adore the Music Walk, a "Main Street" style hallway that connects three venues for different musical tastes: Billboard Onboard, Lincoln Center Stage and the Queen's Lounge. Billboard Onboard is the ship's sing-along/guitar spot, where a band plays hits from a number of eras and genres, such as pop, rock and country. The Queen's Lounge is home to the high-energy B.B. King's Blues Club experience, a Holland America favorite on other ships in the fleet. Enhanced for Koningsdam, the venue now spans two floors and has the largest dance floor on the ship. After hours, the jazz club transforms into a nightclub spinning the hottest tunes. Lincoln Center Stage tones it down a notch, with classical music courtesy of a string and piano quintet. Beyond the Music Walk, Koningsdam honors the art of sound with a string quartet-inspired sculpture in its atrium and decks named after famous composers such as Beethoven, Mozart and Gershwin.
2. You'd love to blend your own wine
Call us cheesy, but we think the idea of blending your own bottle of wine and drinking it at dinner is a perfect date night. Whether you're a connoisseur or simply want to try something new, Koningsdam's Blend by Chateau Ste. Michelle is a fun way to explore the world of whites, reds and roses in an intimate setting. At the 10-seat venue, passengers can enjoy a lesson and tasting before mixing up to five wines of their own. Once sealed and labeled, the bottles can be enjoyed at dinner or in passengers' cabins.
3. You're a total foodie
From cooking classes presented by Food & Wine magazine to an intimate seafood brasserie, the choices for foodies abound. Koningsdam features the line's most popular dining options -- including the Asian-fusion restaurant, Tamarind, and Pinnacle Grill (one of our favorite steakhouses at sea) -- as well as a number of new places to wine and dine. Two of the new restaurants are a bit more "dress-up worthy" and require you to splurge. The first is Sel de Mer ("salt of the sea" in French), a seafood brasserie reminiscent of those in France, where diners choose their meals from an ice display of fresh fish and shellfish in the center of the room. The second is Dinner at the Culinary Arts Center, where diners eat farm-to-table style meals prepared by chefs in the show kitchen. Ingredients are hand-picked from a glass-enclosed garden adjacent to the kitchen. Presented by Food & Wine magazine, the center is found fleetwide, but Koningsdam is the first to offer the new dinner experience. During the day, foodies can enjoy cooking demonstrations and classes hosted by the onboard chefs -- and by the occasional visiting celebrity chef. More casual options include the Lido Market buffet and Grand Dutch Cafe, which offers coffee, beer and traditional Dutch snacks.
4. You value tradition
Holland America pays homage to the golden age of cruise liners, and despite Koningsdam's more modern twist, the ship is no exception. In addition to sporting a hard-to-miss, vintage-style navy blue hull like its fleetmates, the ship offers Holland America traditions such as afternoon tea, and Dutch delicacies such as pea soup. Other fleetwide staples on Koningsdam include the Crow's Nest, a peaceful top-deck observatory, and classic ornate dining venues serving top-notch cuisine. The line's ships collectively boast a relaxed vibe -- thanks to its avoidance of trippy color schemes and Vegas-style decor.
5. You geek out over high-tech entertainment
The World Stage is a fitting name for the ship's main theater, which captivates audiences with 3D images and optical illusions via a massive 270-degree LED screen. Spanning two decks and 250 feet, the screen uses state-of-the-art lighting, projection and sound systems to transform the space into a variety of scenes, such as a virtual concert or an Italian palazzo. The theater is home to five production shows performed by an international cast.
6. You're traveling with kids
Although lacking top-deck water slides and animated movie characters, Koningsdam has plenty to keep kids entertained. The ship has a large, stylish youth club offering different activities for each age group. For example, kids ages 3 to 7 can unleash their inner pirates in treasure hunts, tweens ages 8 to 12 can get competitive in video game tournaments, and teens ages 13 to 17 can learn how to make mocktails (virgin cocktails) in mixology classes before heading to the teens-only nightclub. Additionally, families can bond during movie nights at the Lido Pool, which features a large outdoor screen, two levels of cushioned loungers, and drinks and snacks served chair-side. Perhaps the biggest perks for those with kids in tow, however, are Koningsdam's family ocean-view cabins. The "new to the line" cabin type comfortably sleeps up to five and caters to families with perks such as extra closet space and two separate bathrooms.
7. You prefer to travel solo
Koningsdam courts solo travelers with a series of single-occupancy cabins. The ocean-view accommodations -- which are nearly identical to standard ocean-view cabins, except with a one-person twin bed -- don't bear a single supplement. In other words, solo travelers don't have to pay an added fee when booking a double-occupancy cabin sans roommate. In addition to the dedicated cabins, singles can enjoy myriad activities geared toward meeting other cruisers, such as solo traveler gatherings at the beginning of each sailing, cooking classes and dance lessons.
--By Gina Kramer, Associate Editor