Holland America's ships have had Culinary Arts Center for years, but the one found on the just-launched Koningsdam is a completely different concept. While the centers on other ships only have stand-and-stir demonstrations, Koningsdam’s hosts once-a-day, hands-on cooking classes (in addition to dinners and sea-day cooking demonstrations). The space is bright and airy, and includes six tall tables with burners, cutting boards, and mise en place ingredients.
What It’s Really Like: In our class, students ranged from can-barely-boil-water types to accomplished home cooks with solid knife skills. Still, everyone managed to make the herb-crusted tuna crudo dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, and micro greens (which were grown on board) as well as the more challenging prawn risotto. This required first beheading and shelling the massive sea creatures and then turning them into a proper stock before starting the dish. Then once the ingredients were combined, the risotto had to be tended to until rich and creamy, stirred constantly so as to prevent burning, with more stock added as necessary.
While some duos seemed to struggle with waiting for the proper thickness or, worse, scorching their risotto, with some guidance from the chef — who demonstrated and coached the “cooks” at every step — everyone plated up perfectly passable renditions of both dishes. When the cooking was done, we all sat down together to eat, passing wine down the table and getting to know one another.
The Details: The two-hour class costs $29 per person and includes a two-course lunch of your creations, along with all the wine you can drink and a souvenir apron. Twelve people can cook at a time, in pairs, and classes usually fill up in advance, so reserve a spot early if you’re interested.