Holland America’s second Pinnacle-class ship, the Nieuw Statendam, features some of the cruise line’s most popular features and amenities, as well as an array of new offerings, and in a recent trip aboard this new ship, I was able to experience many of these.
From the expedited check-in process and my stateroom’s welcome bottle of sparkling wine to the dedicated concierge hotline and the separate help area at the Guest Services desk, the benefits of the new Club Orange program were apparent from the very start of my sailing. Designed to elevate the guest experience, Club Orange status is automatic for guests in Neptune and Pinnacle Suite categories and is also available for purchase for a small number of non-suite staterooms on each sailing.
Art & Music
While there were other Club Orange perks waiting to be discovered, including private dining in an exclusive restaurant, another feature of the Nieuw Statendam beckoned my name: the art. Every hallway, stateroom, and stairwell are filled with unique pieces of art. With so much to appreciate, I spent my afternoon walking around the ship, stopping at each deck to admire the photography, paintings, sculptures, collages and more. These pieces are complemented by the ship’s actual art gallery, where paintings reflecting destinations on the ship’s current itinerary are for sale.
But the artistry of the Nieuw Statendam doesn’t stop there as I discovered with an after-dinner stroll through Music Walk. This area of the ship features four music venues, including the newest addition to the Holland America lineup: the Rolling Stone Rock Room. With a live 5-piece band playing a collection of iconic rock hits, along with waiters in classic rock T-shirts, the Rolling Stone Rock Room was popular among my fellow cruisegoers. If rock is not your cup of tea, the Nieuw Statendam features other Holland America favorites such as the B.B. King’s Blues Club, the Lincoln Center Stage, and Billboard Onboard.
The next morning, the ship was abuzz with activities for our first full day at sea, and I couldn’t miss out, starting with America’s Test Kitchen. With this live cooking demonstration, now held in the ship’s World Stage instead of its usual smaller setting, I learned quick and easy recipes I can make at home.
With my appetite thoroughly worked up, I headed to the New York Deli & Pizza for a quick poolside lunch and some sun bathing. On the Nieuw Statendam, there’s no shortage of outside deck space throughout the ship where you’ll find prime real estate for catching some rays and ocean views, so I wandered the upper decks trying to discover them all and made a few stops at the Sea View Bar, the sun deck, and the outdoor sports court, where there’s equipment for soccer, basketball, tennis, shuffleboard, and more.
Since I can only stand the direct sunlight for so long, but also couldn’t bear the thought of peeling my eyes away from the horizon, I headed inside to Explorations Central Cafe, where I could still enjoy the views through the nearly floor-to-ceiling windows. Scattered around the lounge were puzzles, board games, and shelves filled with books available to borrow. I grabbed a cup of coffee, sat at one of the lounge chairs facing the windows, and cracked open a book. While there, I also took advantage of the touchscreen boards that contained interactive information about the shore excursions and other attractions available at each upcoming port. EXC Guides are also available during the day to help guests plan their days on shore.
When dinner time rolled around, the Pinnacle Grill, one of Nieuw Statendam’s signature restaurants, was my dining venue of choice, where I indulged in a rich candied bacon appetizer, a beef tenderloin with lobster dumplings entree, and a tres leches dessert. To round out my full-day-at-sea experience, I headed to the World Stage after dinner to watch the StepONE Dance Company’s show, ‘Humanity.’ This is not your ordinary dance show as the circular theater and stage include high-def LED screens that stretch around to immerse guests in the different settings of each song and give the dancers a new element to interact with throughout the performance.
Approaching San Juan, Puerto Rico via cruise ship is a gorgeous sight to be seen with glimpses of colorful colonial-style buildings, high rises along the coast, mountains in the background framing the whole scene, and the crowning jewel of the 16th century El Morro fortress covering a cliffside overlooking the water. The anticipation of arriving to the port was only enhanced by the EXC Guide narrating our entrance with details on some of Puerto Rico’s history.
Of course, my Nieuw Statendam experience would be incomplete without embarking on one of the many shore excursions offered by Holland America. With so many options from rainforest hikes and bioluminescent kayaking to a pirate-themed harbor cruise, choosing just one was tough, so I hopped on a tour that combined two of my loves: History & Cuisine of San Juan on Foot.
Our energetic and knowledgeable guide Ada led the group through the streets of Old San Juan regaling us with tales of the city’s history and interesting tidbits of what the city is like in modern times. After about two hours of walking around the city, it was time for the highlight of the tour, a culinary experience hosted inside a home specifically redesigned to welcome guests learning about Puerto Rico’s cuisine. We made our own mojitos and then mashed up some boiled and fried yucca for the mofongo, our main dish. Between the walking tour and the food, this shore excursion was the perfect introduction to San Juan.
What’s In it For Travel Advisors
Holland America Line recently released destination brochures that include information about what makes Holland America unique among premium cruise lines, the destination’s itineraries, deck plans for the ships sailing to the destination and an overall sailing schedule. The new brochures, which the cruise line has created to make it easy for you to find the best itinerary for your clients, are available from the Brochures, Flyers & Selling Guides page under the Plan menu at GoHAL.com.