Sign Up for Our Monthly Cruise Newsletter
The live band was shredding “American Girl” by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, and a man in his 80s and two children under 10 years old were tearing up the dance floor. Such was the scene at the maiden Rolling Stone Rock Room onboard Holland America Line’s (HAL) Nieuw Statendam.
Tapping my feet, I reminisced about my early days playing as a kid onboard cruise ships and reflected on how I want to be like the dancing 80-year-old cruiser when I’m older; it’s surely a testament to how HAL’s latest vessel resonates with a wide range of generations. Older people are still flocking to the brand — but they are certainly the cool ones.
Not enough good things can be said about Nieuw Statendam's Music Walk. Rolling Stone Rock Room (which is part of the Music Walk and also available on sister-ship Koningsdam) adds to the already excellent Billboard Onboard, B.B. King’s Blues Club and Lincoln Center Stage. B.B. King’s Blues Club and Lincoln Center Stage alternate at the chic double-decker dance hall, while Rolling Stone Rock Room and Billboard Onboard take up residence next door. An astonishing 20 performers are employed to bring tunes to life, and each is just stellar.
Because Nieuw Statendam has a greater focus on live musicians, the main World Stage theater (which doesn’t have perimeter balconies, unlike onboard Koningsdam) has changed a bit. There is no longer a house company of singers and dancers. Instead, rotational Step One Dance Company presents abstract production shows that rely more on kinetic visual performances.
“This touring unit enables us to move and change much quicker,” said Bill Prince, vice president of entertainment and enrichment for HAL, noting that the approach ensures a greater variety of shows. “We also have a partnership with Postmodern Jukebox. They’re our second touring unit, and they’re out working through the fleet now.”
Entertainment is only one facet of Nieuw Statendam, however. Its culinary program is also a highlight, thanks to HAL’s Culinary Council of esteemed chefs who are dedicated to delicious cuisine. Rudi’s Sel de Mer specialty restaurant showcases master chef and culinary council chairman Rudi Sodamin’s outstanding seafood and playful “food faces” charger plates — photographic images composed of edible ingredients. For more casual dining, passengers can enjoy a signature Prino pizza (salami, pickled peppers and red onion) from the line’s Culinary Council member Ethan Stowell.
A new debut onboard Nieuw Statendam is Club Orange, a program included for guests in Neptune and Pinnacle Suite stateroom categories and available for purchase ($50 per person, per day) for those in a small number of nonsuite categories. The program provides exclusive benefits and amenities, such as a private dining venue, priority services and a dedicated concierge hotline.
In general, an update to accommodations includes subtle angular modifications to standard bathrooms that now allow for more space between the toilet and shower enclosure. There are also more USB charging ports, including near nightstands and vanity desks.
Aside from helpful priority access for embarkation, disembarkation, dining reservations, tendering, concierge services and more, the former Culinary Arts Center has made way for private dining at Club Orange restaurant. The menu is mostly the same as that in The Dining Room, but daily exclusives are a standout.
I found that cigarette smoke drifting from the casino spoiled the adults-only Sea View Pool deck and Music Walk a bit, but the ship is mostly headed in the right direction. Especially forward-thinking is a departure from repetitive Park West art auctions in favor of a unique gallery directly selling pieces from ArtLink, an art curation and provision service that is also the curator of the Nieuw Statendam’s permanent displays. In fact, the curiously intriguing collection is worth a gander; like the ship itself, the gallery takes its inspiration from music.
Ultimately, Nieuw Statendam doesn’t struggle with appealing simultaneously to younger generations and aging brand loyalists. Everyone is welcome, and the resulting party is a blast.
The DetailsHolland America Linewww.hollandamerica.com