Koningsdam / Holland America
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Koningsdam's Lido Pool
Koningsdam's Lido Pool / Holland America
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World Stage
World Stage / Holland America
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Interactive Culinary Arts Center
Interactive Culinary Arts Center / Holland America
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Greenhouse Spa's Hydropool
Greenhouse Spa's Hydropool / Holland America
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Sel de Mer
Sel de Mer / Holland America
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Family Oceanview Stateroom
Family Oceanview Stateroom / Holland America
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Koningsdam's The Retreat
Koningsdam's The Retreat / Holland America
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Tamarind / Holland America
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Blend / Holland America
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Our Ship Review
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger

When Holland America Line launched Koningsdam in 2016, the 2,650-guest ship wasn’t like anything anyone the cruise line had offered before. Its bright, open spaces are free from the line's usual wood paneling, period artwork, and masculine, even clubby atmosphere heavy on maritime influence. Just how modern is the decor (which has since been replicated on sister Pinnacle-Class ships Nieuw Statendam and Rotterdam)? The deck overlooking the pool has white leather banquets and day beds surrounded by sheer white curtains, a look that feels more like Celebrity’s Solstice-class ships than anything in the Holland America fleet. Koningsdam also has a music theme, and artwork includes breathtaking black-and-white photos of dancers as well as more playful pieces. While Koningsdam is one of the three largest ships in the fleet, smaller spaces — including the Main Dining Room and specialty restaurants — with frequent seatings make it feel more manageable. 

What We Love

Sel De Mer: This is the line’s first restaurant with a la carte pricing, so the price tag is a steep increase from what the other specialty restaurants on board cost. Fortunately, it’s worth every penny. From the perfectly seared foie gras with cassis and brioche to the whole Dover sole meunìere, grilled Maine lobster, and decadent pot of garlicky duck cassoulet, Sel de Mer feels like an upgrade in every way. Look for the fish of the day, which is purchased in port from local fishermen.

Music Walk: This trio of lounges was created in partnership with some of the biggest names in music: B.B. King’s Blues Club and “Rolling Stone” and "Billboard" magazines. Each spot hosts a series of music performances each night, with everything from dueling pianos playing ‘60s pop hits to a full band belting "At Last" to a crowded dance floor. The brands are involved in the selection and training of talent — B.B. King’s, for example, preps its musicians in Memphis before sending them on board — and the result is a big upgrade in quality.

Stage Shows: To say we find most medley-based shows on cruise ships cringe-worthy is an understatement. But the World Stage theater’s innovative 270-degree screen transports the audience with spectacular sight and sound effects as they enjoy performances by groups like Step One Dance Company, Cantaré, Island Magic, and more.

Worthy No-Fee Restaurants: For Americans craving their morning bagel, lunchtime sandwich, and evening pizza, New York Deli and Pizza hits the spot. While the most devoted New Yorkers may quibble with the bagels (which are baked not boiled) and the pizza (which is lightly cooked with a soft rather than crisp crust), this new place earns raves from everyone else. It’s hidden away on Deck 10 overlooking the pool, so if you go early in your sailing before everyone finds it, you can beat the crowds. Best of all, there’s no charge for these dishes at any time of day, nor is there one for the burgers and fries at the popular Dive-In grill, another lunchtime favorite on sea days.

There’s also no charge in the Grand Dutch Café, which celebrates the line’s heritage with pea soup, herring on pumpernickel, mini pancakes called poffertjes, and snacks such as bitterballen. With a large number of Dutch passengers on European sailings, it’s safe to expect the line to take proper execution of these dishes seriously.

Best Known For

Excellent Alternative Dining Spots: From Pinnacle Grill, which remains one of the most well-executed classic steakhouses at sea, to Tamarind, a pan-Asian restaurant with bright and flavorful dishes (think crisp soft shell crab tempura, rich Peking duck, a full sushi bar, and gingery wok-fried lobster), upgrading to a for-a-fee restaurant always gets you an impressive meal on this ship.

Novel Cabin Categories: There are 12 substantially sized, outside cabins for single travelers — a first for the line — as well as another new category for Holland America: family cabins. The 32 family cabins have two bathrooms and an additional bunk bed that’s lowered from the ceiling.

Who It's Best For

Mature Couples: While the décor feels more youthful and modern, this remains a line that caters largely to well-traveled, sophisticated couples. This ship serves that audience well: The music by the pool is never too loud or too current, and the ship quiets down by 11 pm each night, with most bars closing at midnight. Younger couples may find themselves a bit out of place — we saw several mistaken for crew on our sailing.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Often There Are Few Kids: While the ship has a full-fledged program and a separate teen room, the number of children on board fluctuates widely, from a mere 14 on our mid-April sailing to hundreds during school break periods.

Sherri Eisenberg
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger