As our Uber arrived at Port Everglades’ Terminal 26, Pam and I felt an air of both excitement and anticipation — that feeling you get when you experience a new cruise line for the first time.
In front of us was Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam, the second of their Pinnacle-class ships launched in December 2018, with Oprah Winfrey named as the ship’s godmother. We learned it’s actually the sixth iteration of that name, which isn’t that unusual when you consider Holland America is celebrating their 150th anniversary this year.
There was already a long line of guests waiting to check-in, no doubt because we learned later this cruise was totally sold out (capacity is almost 2,700). Over the next seven days, we are scheduled to visit Grand Turk, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Holland’s private island, Half Moon Cay. With the weather turning cold and windy in Florida, we were happy to be heading to warmer climes.
Doing some homework beforehand, we had read guests can bring a bottle of wine or champagne to consume in their room without a corkage fee. Not so, we learned. At check-in, you have to surrender your bottle and a $20 corkage fee would apply, which is more than most of the wines brought aboard cost. Like us, most people just elected to pick it up at the disembark.
Ours is a verandah balcony room on deck 5 (the Gershwin Deck ). There’s a small sofa and desk, and the bathroom features a walk-in shower. Best of all, there’s lots of storage space, including roomy, pull-out drawers under the bed. While there are a generous number of plugs, it’s still a good idea to bring your own power strip. We have one that has three plugs and three USB ports.
After settling in, the next thing is watching the safety video on your TV. This is actually so much better than the old school muster drill, where you stand for what seems like forever at your muster station, elbow-to-elbow with other passengers (not the best idea in this age of Covid). After the video, you go to your assigned muster station, where they scan your room key, and that’s it. If you haven’t done it the old way, you won’t appreciate the difference.
The first day of a cruise is devoted to getting your bearings, so we’re off to explore and, of course, find lunch.
The ship itself is beautiful, with artwork worth millions placed around her 12 decks. Much of the public spaces are located on decks two and three, where you’ll find the two-story World Stage, the Music Walk, featuring venues named for blues legend B.B. King, Rolling Stone, Billboard and Lincoln Center, shops, the casino, specialty restaurants and the two-story main dining room.
We head for Lido, deck 9, where the Lido Market has a variety of food choices available. Pam opts for fish and chips while I choose a pulled pork sandwich. This is a good time to review the day’s activities, which you can do from their Navigator app or a daily printed agenda in your room. I recommend downloading the app prior to the cruise — you can use it to complete the check-in and health assessment, as well as customize your agenda, find deck plans and reserve dining and shore excursions.
Coming up is a “Welcome Aboard Steak Dinner” in Lido, a Mass celebration in the blues club, a PRIDE meetup and a trivia contest. We elect to continue exploring, and wander up to the Crow’s Nest on the Observation Deck, 12. With its wraparound, panoramic windows, it’s the place to be for the sailaway, where every seat was taken.
With all the wind and weather, the captain tells us it will be a bumpy ride at the start, evidenced by the water sloshing out of the pools and people trying to maintain their balance in the hallways. But we’re hopeful it won’t last too long.
Later, in the beautiful World Stage theater, is a presentation titled “Origin Story,” tracing the 150-year-history of the Holland America Line. Hosted by the ship’s cruise director, Gage, it proved a fascinating, multimedia history lesson, chronicling how Holland survived through world wars, the Depression and most recently, a world pandemic. We learned how the owner’s son, on a scouting mission, was tragically among those lost on the Titanic.
Dinner was in the elegant main dining room, where you can opt for anytime dining or make reservations. We had heard Holland prides itself on their food, and that was evident in the meal we had. We started with the ham and cheese croquette, which was marvelous, as was my main course, herb-roasted chicken.
For a late night snack, we always like to find pizza, and Statendam has just the ticket at the New York Deli and Pizza on deck 10, the Panorama Deck, where the cheese pizza was great. They are open daily until 10:50 pm, and also serve breakfast.
Tomorrow is a sea day as we set course for Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos islands. Tonight we’ll let the ship rock us to sleep and then see what tomorrow brings.
- Our verandah room on Deck 5
- Cruise Director Gage relates the history of Holland America
Highlight: After dinner, we head for the World Stage auditorium to catch tonight’s show, “Humanity,” presented by the One Step Dance Company, where “technology and dance come together to awaken the human spirit.” It really did deliver on both counts, as the talented dance troupe blended modern dance with jaw-dropping visuals projected on wraparound screens. I for one don’t think cruise ship shows like this one get enough credit for delivering innovative productions and cutting-edge entertainment. They deserve their own award show, like the Grammys and Tonys.
It’s day two of our seven-day cruise on Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam, and we’re still bouncing over the waves. But the captain tells us calmer conditions are up ahead, and that’s good enough for us.
Today is a sea day, with numerous activities to choose from throughout the ship. But before that, there’s breakfast, and after sleeping late, we just make last call in the main dining room. We are joined by four fellow travelers, and after the obligatory “Where are you from?” swap stories about past cruise adventures and the dubious joys of flying these days. We have found meeting interesting people as one of the side benefits of cruise travel.
Speaking of people, the demographic on this cruise is predominantly older. We have seen a few children, and Statendam does have a teen club (Club HAL), but other than the music venues, it is definitely more suited for adults.
We continue to be impressed by the food quality. At breakfast Pam had one of the best Eggs Benedict she can remember, and my Swedish pancakes were divine.
One of the hallmarks of a Holland America cruise is the opportunity for learning new things. For example, The Studio on deck 2 hosts art classes, as well as a class on “How to Fold Origami.” Pam decided to attend a class on flower arranging, hosted by the ship’s resident florist, Noven, from the Philippines.
She learned Noven, now in his seventh contract with Holland, arranged all 136 floral arrangements on Statendam, and how, despite the ship’s Dutch heritage, you won’t find any tulips onboard. The reason? Since we are sailing in the Caribbean, he only uses tropical flowers. That does make sense.
By the way, she also learned this tip: To keep lilies from being too overpowering, put a little vodka in the water. Shaken, not stirred? She didn’t ask.
After lunch in the main dining room (Pam had the Croque Madame; I went with the Mexican Street Tacos) it wasn’t long before it was time to have more food. The Afternoon Tea service started at 3 pm in main dining, where white-gloved wait staff poured tea and delivered finger sandwiches, pastries and scones on tiered serving dishes. Unlike most tea services, the tea was already prepared instead of making your own selection. I won’t tell the King if you won’t.
Tonight the dress code is “dressy,” which is the green light for Pam to look her sparkly best. While I didn’t pack my tux, I did bring a suit jacket for the occasion. While most cruise guests seem to enjoy formal nights, the majority on this cruise seem to prefer casual wear, which we found somewhat surprising.
We have reservations at one of Statendam’s specialty restaurants, Tamarind, which features Southeast Asian cuisine ($29 surcharge). Located on deck 10, it sets the right mood as soon as you enter: Dark, soft lighting and Zen-like vibes.
For starters, Pam ordered the Thai Citrus Scallops, with cilantro, plum sugar and shallots, while I had the Chinese Five Spice Baby Back Ribs, with masago, pineapple and red chili. Both dishes were excellent, and artfully presented. For our entrees, Pam chose Sweet and Sour Vegetable Tempura while I had the Panang Red Curry Coconut Chicken. Again, the chef’s presentations were amazing. We finished our meal with two desserts: Mango Posset, a coconut macaroon with mango sorbet, and the Passion Fruit Cloud, a light egg white souffle.
Adjacent to Tamarind is Nami Sushi, where lovers of raw fish and vegetable rolls can order their favorites a la carte and watch as they are prepared.
After dinner, we head for the World Stage auditorium to catch tonight’s show, “Humanity,” presented by the One Step Dance Company, where “technology and dance come together to awaken the human spirit.” It really did deliver on both counts, as the talented dance troupe blended modern dance with jaw-dropping visuals projected on wraparound screens. I for one don’t think cruise ship shows like this one get enough credit for delivering innovative productions and cutting-edge entertainment. They deserve their own award show, like the Grammys and Tonys.
As we stroll by the pool area, where guests in loungers are watching a movie on a giant screen under the stars, day two is rapidly coming to a close. Tomorrow morning we should be docked at Grand Turk, our first port of call. More about that coming soon.
- The dance show, “Humanity”
- Panang Red Curry Coconut Chicken at Tamarind
- Afternoon Tea in the Main Dining Room
It’s day three of our 7-day voyage on Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam and, just as the captain promised, calmer seas are prevailing. The morning is bright and sunny, and we have arrived at our first port of call, Grand Turk, part of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The waters surrounding the ship are crystal clear and turquoise blue against the nearby white sand beach. Add in swaying palm trees plus warm trade winds and you have a picture-perfect postcard from paradise. Another bonus is we are the only ship in port today.
The last time we visited here was Christmas, just before the Covid pandemic broke out. Although small (close to seven square miles), the cruise terminal area features many shopping options as well as Margaritaville, where you relax on a sandy beach, dine or swim in one of several pools.
Pam and I have opted for The Rainbow Calypso Tram tour, a two-hour excursion around the island in an open-air tram. We learn Grand Turk has several ties to America. The language here is English, and the currency is the dollar. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the U.S. Navy utilized the island’s location for undersea surveillance, and the island also gained fame as the landing spot for John Glenn’s Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft in 1962. A replica of his space capsule is displayed at the entrance to their airport.
During our tour, we saw many of the salt ponds leftover from when Grand Turk supplied salt throughout the world, starting in the 1600s. We also had an up close and personal encounter with some of the protected donkeys that roam freely across the island. We even had a chance to feed them carrots when the tour stopped at a lighthouse built in 1852.
Unlike some islands, Grand Turk is mostly flat and arid, getting less than 40 inches of rain yearly. Still recovering from recent hurricanes, we learned a gallon of milk costs $11, and eggs $7. Living in paradise isn’t cheap.
Back onboard, we grab lunch in the Lido Market and take a look at the afternoon’s activity schedule. For the sports-minded, there’s a pick-up game of pickleball scheduled in the Sports Court on deck 11, as well as a basketball free throw challenge. Art lovers can attend a lecture on Peter Max, while the Lincoln Center Stage is hosting a string quartet playing “Masterworks by Brahms.”
From pickleball to classical music, I would say there’s something for every taste.
Midship on deck 3 is the Grand Dutch Cafe, offering coffee, tea, snacks, pastries and other beverages. We both order a cappuccino and what has to be the world’s largest cream puff, the size of a small, chocolate-covered cake that could easily feed a family of four.
In search of a bar for a pre-dinner drink, we see most of our usual haunts are crowded, so we decide to pay a return visit to the specialty restaurant Tamarind on deck 10, where we dined the night before. Their bar is intimate, dark and best of all, almost deserted. Plus the mixologist there knows her way around a martini. Highly recommended if you seek quiet by candlelight.
Dinner tonight is in the ship’s Italian specialty restaurant, Canaletto ($19 A person), adjacent to the Lido Market on deck 9. Our waitperson, Shelia from the Philippines, was marvelous, and gave us great advice on selecting a bottle of wine to pair with our meal.
In truth, we almost filled up on the Italian olive bread and pesto — so good we had to have more. For the meal, you choose from a selection of Small and Large Plates. We opted to share the Antipasto Plate and Mozzarella Di Bufala (grilled eggplant). For entrees, Pam chose Grilled Branzino while I had the Tomato Risotto. Dessert was Pam’s favorite, Tiramisu, and I went with a gelato trio.
Needless to say, you won’t leave this restaurant hungry.
At night, a lot of the action shifts to the Music Walk on deck 2, and that’s our next stop, where the B.B. King Blues All-Stars are playing Motown hits and blues. Just down the way, a piano-playing duo is entertaining in Billboard Onboard, and later, we hear Fleetwood Mac coming out of the Rolling Stone Rock Room. No one is dancing just yet — maybe they need a few more drinks to get their party started.
Tonight’s show in the World Stage again features the Step One Dance Company, this time highlighting a variety of musical instruments. While it had its moments, and we loved their energy, overall it didn’t measure up to their “Humanity” performance the night before.
While the music would continue at B.B. King’s and Rolling Stone Rock Room until almost midnight, we called it a night. Tomorrow we dock in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and my editor at All Things Cruise is waiting for this post. That’s my cue to sign off.
- Canaletto Italian specialty restaurant
- We share a large cream puff at the Grand Dutch Cafe
- Gerry feeds a carrot to a donkey on Grand Turk
There’s nothing like mornings at sea. Waking up, opening the curtains and seeing the endless blue water as your ship moves through the waves. All Pam needs to complete the picture is a steaming cup of coffee.
It’s already Day 4 of our week-long cruise on Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam, and today we are heading for a noon-ish arrival in San Juan, Puerto Rico. If it seems later than we think, that’s because it is. Overnight we have lost an hour, and our iPhones are still in the previous time zone. Technology — it’s great when it works.
Of course, the first order of business is find that coffee, so we opt for the main dining room, where we are joined by two seasoned travelers from Colorado. They have tried a number of different cruise lines, but prefer Holland because they feel more relaxed and find the size of the ships ideal — not too large but not too small.
As we approach San Juan, Cruise Director Gage informs us they are opening the “Staff Only” door to the bow on Deck 5 so guests can get a great view of the harbor entrance and its imposing Spanish fortifications. It’s definitely what they used to call a “Kodak moment.”
Having spent time on a previous cruise exploring Old San Juan and the fort — roaming its charming cobblestone streets and shops is a must-do — we have opted to see the island’s natural wonders on the El Yunque Rain Forest Drive. There are already two other ships in port: Oceania Riviera and Sky Princess (both of which we have cruised on), so we expect the terminal area will be busy.
We meet in the World Stage, where the various tours are dispatched. Kudos to Holland for having everything so organized. Staffers are directing us every step of the way, including the large terminal building, where hundreds of guests are grouped according to their assigned excursions.
We board a modern mini-bus for the nearly one-hour ride to our destination, which we learn is the only rain forest that’s part of the U.S. National Forest system. As we climb through the thick vegetation, including bamboo and enormous fern trees (who knew ferns could be trees?), fog and mist cling to the slopes around us.
We make three stops. starting at the Yokahu Tower, a 69-foot observation tower built in 1963. As our bus came to a stop, the rain started to fall (what else might one expect visiting a rain forest?). But it didn’t last long, and we enjoyed wonderful views of the surrounding countryside, all the way to the ocean.
The second stop was at Baño Grande (big bath), a swimming pool built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Fed by the La Mina River, you can take a set of stairs to an overlook ringed by lush, tropical foliage. Saving the best for last, we stopped to admire an 80-foot waterfall just off the road. Pam and I make it a point to see waterfalls whenever we travel, and this is certainly one we’ll add to our memory book.
Navigating rush hour traffic back to San Juan, we get back to the ship in time to regroup and get ready for the evening.
We start with cocktails at our new favorite bar, Tamarind, then have reservations at another of Nieuw Statendam’s specialty restaurants, Rudi’s Sel de Mer, featuring cuisine inspired by Master Chef Rudi Sodamin, a culinary consultant for Holland.
With a surcharge of $49 per person, we were expecting a top-of-the-line dining experience, and that’s just what we got. Every dish was a literal work of art, both in presentation and taste.
For starters, Pam ordered the Hot Smoked Salmon, while I opted for the Marinated Lobster. While waiting, the chef prepared an amuse bouche of salmon pate on a small, fish-shaped cracker. It was divine. Pam’s salmon appetizer came under a glass dome, which our waiter slowly raised so she could watch the smoke escape. Theater and culinary art collide — applause, applause.
For our entree, we both went with our absolute favorite fish, Dover Sole. It was prepared tableside, with the bones artfully removed, and served with a side of mashed potatoes and young green beans. Every bite was heaven.
And then dessert. Pam chose Profiteroles, little cream puffs, and I ordered Crepes Suzette. But before they arrived, our waiter surprised us with a dessert tree of tasty bites, including chocolate-covered strawberries and assorted goodies. All we can say is well done, Rudi.
Since we arrived in San Juan midday, the ship wasn’t departing until 11 pm, giving us a chance to see the city by night. As we strolled along the waterfront, Nieuw Statendam looked like a jewel sparkling in the harbor’s waters, while overhead a full moon added to the evening’s magic.
It was a perfect ending to our day in Puerto Rico.
- Nieuw Statendam in San Juan harbor
- A waterfall in El Yunque rainforest
- Yokahu Tower in El Yunque
- Serving the Hot Smoked Salmon at Rudi’s
DAYS 5 AND 6
Outside our balcony we see familiar green hills dotted with red tile roofs, and beside the ship, a harbor filled with sailboats, catamarans and yachts, including a superyacht purported to be the largest in the world.
The Nieuw Statendam is docked at St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, a port we have visited on many occasions. In fact, it’s where Pam and I spent our honeymoon, so we know it well and always enjoy its natural beauty and warmth of its people.
It’s Day 5 of our cruise to the Caribbean, and since we have been here so often, we have opted to strike out on our own in lieu of an organized tour. Walking the streets near the terminal, we spot some cable cars traveling toward the top of the island. That’s looks like something we need to check out.
It’s the “St. Thomas Sky Ride,” and for $24.95 per adult, you can get a roundtrip ticket to Paradise Point, at the top of the island. Okay — sign us up.
At the ticket booth they ask if we are from a cruise ship. We tell them which one, and are issued a green wristband which is good for an all-day pass. Soon enough, it’s up, up and away. The ride lasts about five minutes, and the bird’s eye views of the harbor and surrounding area are drop dead gorgeous.
Once at the top, there’s a restaurant, gift shop and several viewing areas where you can take photos and selfies to your heart’s content. Pam hits the gift shop — of course — and afterwards we order drinks and an appetizer, happy to just sit and soak up the scenery. With four other cruise ships in port, business is booming, so there’s something of a wait on the return trip.
By the way, we learned the significance of the color-coded wristbands when they announced “anyone wearing a red wristband should return to their ship.” Great idea. And now we have a new memory of one of our favorite islands.
The big event on today’s calendar is The Orange Party. As you may know, the color orange is significant to the Dutch via ties to the Dutch royal family, whose members are from the House of Orange. Cruise Director Gage told me they stage an Orange Party on every Holland America cruise.
Guests are invited to wear orange and gather at B.B. King’s Blues Club on deck 2. If you don’t have something orange, they are selling everything from orange belts to boas at the shops, and even have a display of orange libations. Servers wearing orange ties are coming through with appetizers while someone else is passing out glowing orange wristbands and necklaces.
All it takes is for the band to launch into Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” and the dance floor is filled with guests ready to get the Orange Party started. Let’s face it — partying on a cruise ship isn’t a hard sell.
Next door at the World Stage, the scene is very different. There’s a showing of “Seven Worlds, One Planet,” produced by the BBC. Amazing views of earth’s natural beauty fill the multi-media screens as the ship’s classical musicians perform the soundtrack. It gives you a new appreciation for this planet we call home.
Statendam is heading back to where we started our cruise, and Day 6 is a sea day. One of the morning highlights is a 5K walk, with proceeds going to support Ukrainian refugees. Afterwards, the ship’s captain, Eric Barhorst, is hosting “The Captain’s Talk” in the World Stage, along with the cruise director.
There’s a full house on hand as Capt. Barhorst provides a fascinating, behind-the-scenes tour of the Bridge, the ship’s technology and everything it takes to run what is virtually a city at sea (the captain even referred to himself as Statendam’s mayor).
I learned, among other things, the ship’s anchor weighs over 13 tons, and is attached to a chain that is 1,064 feet long. Also, the ship stands 174 feet above the water, with another 27 feet below the water. What about fuel consumption? He said the ship gets about “60 feet to the gallon — I wouldn’t recommend buying one,” he said.
But the burning question everyone wanted to know: Why is the captain wearing one red sock and one green sock? “So I can identify starboard and port,” he said. I really like this guy.
In the afternoon, the cruise director is hosting two “Explorations Central” talks in the World Stage. Designed to “deepen your understanding of the places you visit,” the topics today are “The Deep Blue,” about the ocean, and “Islands of the Mind,” with a focus on the impact and legacy of Jimmy Buffett, Ernest Hemingway and Ian Fleming. I attended the latter, and enjoyed the mix of history and multimedia.
Later, it’s announced tonight’s dance show performance has been canceled over safety concerns due to the sea conditions — the high wave action we left behind when we started this cruise is back. But the show will go on, with a comedian filling in for the dance troupe. Down the hall, the weather doesn’t affect B.B. King’s All-Stars, who rock out with a sizzling set of rhythm and blues in B.B. King’s Blues Club.
Tonight we have reservations at the Pinnacle Grill ($39 surcharge per person), the specialty restaurant famous for its steak and seafood. Beautifully appointed in bold, dark tones, it lives up to its five-star billing. For starters, Pam ordered the Jumbo Crab Cakes while I go with the Shrimp Cocktail. Both are artfully presented and perfectly prepared. We both have the Jidori Chicken Breast, served with artichokes, cremini mushrooms, chili caramel and roasted yellow beets. For dessert, Key Lime Pie and Not-So-Classic Baked Alaska.
I have to say all the specialty restaurants we have tried on Nieuw Statendam have hit the mark.
Hard to believe, but tomorrow is our last full day on this cruise. Weather permitting, we’ll anchor off Holland America’s private island, Half Moon Cay, and then head for home. Keep your fingers crossed the sea cooperates.
- View of St. Thomas from Paradise Point
- The captain’s socks
- Cruise Director Gage Griffin at the Orange Party
- Dinner at the Pinnacle Grill
DAY 7 and Wrap-Up
What day is this? All you have to do is look at any elevator floor, where the day of the week is posted. And according to the elevator, it’s Friday. It’s so easy to lose track of time on a cruise, where the days seems to run together. But that’s part of the joy of cruising — forgetting everything and just getting lost in the moment.
It’s also Day 7 of our Caribbean voyage on Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam, which means our time on the ship is quickly coming to an end. But we’re not going to look at our green luggage tags on the desk, or think about packing just yet — especially since what we see outside stateroom is a front-row view of paradise.
We are anchored off Half Moon Cay, Holland’s private island in the Bahamas, also known as Little San Salvador Island, located between Eleuthera and Cat Island. I’m happy to report Mother Nature has blessed us with sunny weather and calmer seas, so the tenders won’t have a problem getting us ashore. The ride itself takes less than 10 minutes.
Some guests have signed up for shore excursions, such as horseback riding in the surf, while most, like us, will explore on our own. The beach loungers go quickly, and the lines are already long at the bars. Since there are no umbrellas to be found, I take a quick wade into the stunning turquoise waters so Pam can snap a photo, and afterwards, we find chairs under a thatched-roof bar to admire the scenery.
It really is a little slice of paradise, watching the palm trees sway, the occasional sailboat go by and off in the distance, Nieuw Statendam awaiting our return. We linger until it’s time to find the Island BBQ lunch. When you see a long line, you know you’ve found it. As we inched closer, some guests came back and informed us there are actually multiple lines available. It would have been nice for Holland personnel to let all of us know.
At any rate, the food was excellent, and after some more photos, we caught the tram to the dock for the tender ride back. Later today, we’ll try and catch another show by the One Step Dance Company and have a farewell dinner in the Asian specialty restaurant, Tamarind.
As the cruise comes to an end, here are some observations about our first cruise on Holland America:
— The service has been excellent. Pam loved how the wait staff would trade banter and joke with her. Our favorite bar was in Tamarind, and we quickly became “regulars” to the friendly staff there. Many of the guests onboard have physical challenges, and we observed how well they were treated and accommodated.
— Two thumbs up for the cruise director, Gage Griffin. While he looks 16, and could pass for even younger, he commands the stage during the educational talks and kept us entertained and informed throughout the week. I did find out his real age, but I’ll let him tell you when you’re onboard yourself. And also kudos to Captain Eric — we loved his dry sense of humor and he never steered us wrong.
— Try the specialty restaurants — they are worth the extra cost. A meal at Rudi’s is like dining in a five-star restaurant anywhere in the world. They are all exceptional, but our favorite was Tamarind, with its dark tones and Zen-like vibe. And while it’s not a specialty restaurant, don’t miss New York Deli and Pizza on deck 10. It was our go-to place for late night dining.
— While some of the shows were canceled due to weather, we found the One Step Dance Company, paired with dramatic, multimedia visuals, provided some electric moments on the World Stage. Music lovers will also find a wide variety of entertainment along the Music Walk, from B.B. King’s Blues Club to Billboard Onboard and the Rolling Stone Rock Room. The action here goes to midnight and sometimes later. Special mention goes to B.B. King’s All-Stars Band — if you can’t get your groove on with them, get your pulse checked.
— During the day, you have a wide range of activities to choose from, with a special emphasis on learning, like “Coloring for Adults,” “Learn to Fold Origami” and “Flower Arranging.” There are a lot of opportunities for bingo and trivia, as well as pickleball if you are so inclined.
— We also like how well organized the shore excursions were. Holland personnel were on hand to guide you to where you needed to be. That’s a big plus, especially if there are multiple cruise ships in port.
— Here’s a shoutout to their Internet service. We had four devices connected and had very few issues throughout the voyage.
— The Crow’s Nest on deck 12 is ideal for chilling, having a drink, playing games or generally just hanging out. In fact, it was so popular on our cruise we seldom could find a seat.
— Pam, a big music lover, had fun with the ship’s musical theme. They have four decks named “Beethoven, Gershwin, Mozart and Schubert.” On those decks and all around the ship, there is artwork depicting musical themes, plus carpeting featuring musical instruments. She made it a point to photograph all the art and display them in a gallery on her Facebook page. Take a look if you get a chance.
— Pam also said to mention the stateroom toiletries were the upscale Elemis brand. She approved.
In summary, consider the fact Holland America is celebrating their 150th anniversary this year — you certainly don’t survive 150 years without doing something right. And after our first cruise on Holland, we can say they’re doing a lot of things right. If your idea of a cruise vacation is a medium-sized ship that’s easy to get around and offers great food and service, consider giving Holland a try.
- Guests enjoying Holland America’s private island, Half Moon Cay
- Staff cook for guests at the Half Moon Cay Island BBQ
- Gerry shows the life of a travel writer is hard work
All Photos by Pam and Gerry Barker
Cover photo: Nieuw Statendam docked at Grand Turk