We have previously been on three ship visits with Holland America and after discovering that there was the opportunity to see the newest addition to their fleet we were very keen to do another. We registered our interest and were soon confirmed as guests for a visit to Portland Harbour Dorset on 20 September 2016. So Koningsdam here we come!
In the confirmation e-mail we were issued with the following itinerary as a guide to the visit:
09:30 hrs. We will meet guests at the Britannia Cruise Terminal, Portland, DT5 1PP
Free parking is available adjacent to the terminal
10;00 hrs. Transfer to the ship via bus and enjoy self tour of the ship’s public areas (you’ll be issued with deck plans, brochures and tour notes).
It may not be possible to show any accommodation as the ship is mid-cruise and fully booked
1130 hrs. Enjoy an early three course set lunch with wine will be served in the Main Dining Room, Lower level
(there will be some choices and a vegetarian option, however please advise any further dietary requests in advance)
13:00 hrs. Holland America Line product presentation in the Queen’s Lounge
14:00 hrs. Disembark
We arrived at the terminal at Portland shortly before 9:15 and then had a short wait while we gathered enough people to fill a double-decker bus which would shuttle us to the ship. Walking through the port to get to the ship was not permitted and we were also advised by a security officer that no photos should be taken during the journey but as soon as we arrived at the berth then we could click away quite merrily which is exactly what I did.
As we are getting off the bus, we were immediately confronted by a very long queue, not with people getting on but passengers having got off and waiting for the shuttle to take them to wherever? I should have asked where they were heading off to but didn’t so one can only assume it was to nearby Weymouth? Regardless of that, it was an extremely long queue that didn’t die down for some time and we found a much shorter line and were soon making our way onboard.
I apologise now for the amount of photos below, however please feel free to click on any of the following thumbnails to see a larger version of it.
Once onboard we found ourselves on deck 1 and in the lowest part of the atrium known as Journeys Ashore which is HAL’s shore excursions area. Being keen users of the stairs we decided to go against the recommended route and instead work from the top down. The climb up to the open decks took us past lots of amazing art which on this route all had a link with music.
We stopped many times on the way up to admire the artwork, some of which you would never guess what it had been made from unless you took a closer inspection. Lots of bright and colourful pieces on display and certainly very eye-catching.
Our first impressions were that much of the ship feels very light and airy and the spaces are a pleasure to walk through. On our way up to the open decks we took a quick look at the Panorama Bar
On Deck 11 there is a running track which goes round the magrodome. We like the idea that it is a separate zone which is away from any sunbeds, this being one of our niggles with the ones on Celebrity’s Solstice class ships.
While walking around the upper decks we couldn’t help but notice the shuttle bus queue had grown quite considerably in length.
Along with the Sports Court there are lots of other areas where you can amuse yourself.
Sea View Pool at the back of the ship with plenty of sunbeds in the adjacent area.
We then dropped down 2 decks to investigate the buffet which on this ship is called Lido Market. Another bright and airy zone and not at all like any of the buffets we have seen before. Granted it was practically deserted when we there so we did not experience it when busy but it still looks a great venue.
What to do if you want a beer and there are no bar staff around to take your order? Answer – Pour it yourself!
The very impressive Lido Pool with its magrodome over the top.
As is usual on most modern ships there is a well equipped gym. We always flirt with using it but never actually participate.
Before making our way down to the lower parts of the ship we stopped off at the Crows Nest which we found to be one of the darker areas of the ship. It was probably the busiest area we visited and you would possibly deduce that it is maybe one of the most popular areas. I couldn’t help but draw a few comparisons with the Sky lounge on Celebrity’s Solstice class ships which is the same area of the ship but a much more open and brighter room.
Due to the time restraints we quickly made our way down to the lower decks passing yet more amazing artwork. This ship really is full of it! Just the sort of stuff we like.
The Retreat where you can book a cabana and if you want spend your sea days enjoying a private retreat on deck. Each cabana features items to aid your relaxation while attentive staff pander to your needs. OK if you like a bit of shade!
We encountered more amazing art, the first one below is actually bubble-wrap which has been popped then the void filled with coloured paint.
The bright and light coloured corridors also stood out. I can’t recall seeing any quite as illuminated as they feel on this ship. Note the cabin doors are not in pairs.
Cabin 4142 which was one of the 3 cabins available to see. We only bothered with this one as if we were to book then it would be the type we would want. The room felt really compact and isn’t as big as we were expecting. The bathroom is again very tight but does boast a nice long shower cubicle. Again lots of light colours have been used.
The elevator lobby on deck 3 looking toward the casino and the internal staircase down to the Music Walk where you will find a piano bar, Lincoln Centre Stage and the Explorer Bar.
Koningsdam’s theatre is known as World Stage and is an unusual shape in relation to the seating, it also has high-definition LED screens behind to aid the visual experience. Talking to few of the passengers the previous evenings entertainment was a ballet inspired dance show.
The Dining Room also reminded us of something similar, the Solstice Class dining rooms with the whale bone type structures going over the ceiling..The Lunch Menu was described as a sample menu and was as follows…….
And the food although was very welcome, it could have been better. The highlight being the Chocolate Peanut Tart with rum and raisin ice cream which was really delicious. Although vegetarian and responsible seafood icons were present, no other allergens were listed.
After lunch we attended the Holland America Line product presentation in the Queens Lounge which was interesting to hear. They certainly tick a lot of our boxes but will we actually make a commitment of a booking sometime in the future? Eventually we made our way off the ship and to a deserted shuttle bus stop where we returned to the terminal and our car for the journey home.
We saw enough today to form the opinion that we would really enjoy sailing on this ship, as I have said it ticks many boxes for us but it would have to be a very deliberate decision to sail on her. We found the décor really pleasing and the public spaces were nicely laid out.
Everything has an elegant but subtle feel to it which provided us with a really relaxed atmosphere on our visit. There was little we didn’t like.
We are of the impression that the Holland America experience is very much aimed at the older American cruiser and this has certainly been evident on all four of our visits but this ship we sense, might be an attempt to try and establish them into a newer and younger market. It certainly appealed to us but then we are not getting any younger!