Statendam Entertainment & Activities
New to Statendam is HAL's Explorations activities program. This is broken down into Explorations (presentations on destinations -- including culture, shopping, wildlife and history -- led by the Travel Guide), Culinary Arts (such as cooking demos, classes on entertaining and wine tastings, hosted by the Party Planner), Microsoft Digital Workshops (courses on photo editing, blogging and creating Web pages, hosted by the Techspert) and Mind-Body-Spirit (fitness classes, lectures on wellness and trivia, hosted by the Lifestylist). Other daytime activities include bingo and bridge play, as well as the ubiquitous Park West art auctions. The computer classes get rave reviews from technology novices (classes are very basic), and one-on-one coaching is available during "Techspert Time."The Wajang Theater and Culinary Arts Center is a double-duty venue on Deck 7. It houses a show kitchen where complimentary culinary demonstrations and private cooking classes (for a fee) take place. The space also serves as a movie theater, which offers multiple showings of a different film each day, complete with free popcorn.
Statendam's Showroom at Sea is a new twist on both theater seating and the productions themselves. The theater now offers tiered seating with the front rows by the stage populated with cabaret-style chairs and small tables. While the new room replaces the more traditional Van Gogh showroom, the mosaics representing Van Gogh's "The Starry Night" and his startling "Irises" remain. The new decor and carpeting incorporate the wondrous colors in those paintings and the starry night still covers the ceiling above the attractive show room.
The shows themselves have also changed. Gone are the Vegas-style, large-scale production shows that didn't work on Statendam's small stage. They've been replaced by seven new and more intimate shows, featuring an onstage orchestra, minimalist sets and a cast of singers (all of whom have previously performed on Broadway) and dancers. The idea is to present higher-quality productions that don't need to rely on the wow factor of crazy sets, costumes and technological tricks. Individual performers still do their stuff in the showroom, as well.
Deck 8 is Statendam's entertainment hub. A live band plays old favorites and dance music in the Ocean Bar, which is a fun place to strut your stuff or watch your fancy-footed fellow cruisers. The casino has slot machines and poker, roulette and blackjack tables. In general, nobody had to wait to play. Smoking is allowed in the casino.
Directly opposite the casino, Mix is Statendam's new-in-2010 primary bar area with an updated, contemporary look. The former sports and piano bars have been transformed into the Spirits & Ales bar (where an acoustic guitarist plays), the Martini Bar (where the pianist entertains) and the elegant Champagne Bar. Tables in Mix offer a variety of games -- one even doubles as an electronic keyboard.
Just down the hall, the Explorer's Lounge doubles as a daytime hangout -- for camping out on a couch or comfy chair with a book -- and an evening venue with a classical quartet and drink service. It's perfect for cocktails before dining in the adjacent Pinnacle Grill.
The Crow's Nest is the latest of the late-night venues, hosting interactive events like the Marriage Game, karaoke and Super Star Singing Competition around 9 p.m., as well as D.J. music into the wee hours. The Crow's Nest is shared by drinkers, dancers, chatters and even some late-night card- and game-players.