Nieuw Statendam represents one of the latest offerings from a more modern and engaging Holland America. The line's largest ship to date cements its Pinnacle Class, which debuted in 2016 with Koningsdam, as the future of a brand that has been sailing for nearly 150 years. Many of the same features from the first Pinnacle-class ship have been carried over to Nieuw Statendam, including the World Stage theater, a two-tier Lido Deck with movie screen, a wine-making venue called Blend, the Music Walk, Rudi's Sel de Mer and solo cabins.

Other elements have been tweaked based on customer feedback -- moving the Lincoln Center Stage venue away from the noise of the casino, expanding the ship's suites as well as rearranging family cabins and adding call buttons to tables on the Lido.


Also new is a pay-for-perks program called Club Orange that allows passengers to purchase access to priority embarkation and debarkation, a concierge, dedicated help desks, priority restaurant reservations and a dedicated restaurant.

Even the music theme carries over from Koningsdam, with extraordinary design elements and of course, performances, that hit all the right notes. The onboard art collection is completely unique and is the largest collection of any ship in the fleet with an impressive variety of more than 2,000 works.

More than ever, Holland America's choice of partners shine on Nieuw Statendam; Rolling Stone Rock Room, created in partnership with Rolling Stone Magazine, offers an outlet for passengers looking for an edgier evening experience.


A linkup with Fujifilm brings the onboard photo experience into the 21st century with an interactive photo and souvenir studio called Wonder Photo. And, of course, the line's partnership with Oprah Magazine (Oprah Winfrey is also the godmother of Nieuw Statendam) is evident in the onboard programming -- meditation, book clubs and workshops.

Nieuw Statendam strikes a tricky balance as a ship that can be calm without being boring and geared toward adults without isolating families. There are plenty of quiet spaces that come alive at night and all the live performances prove more engaging than sleepy sets from a single band in the atrium. Kids and families will have fun traveling and exploring together even without water slides and roller coasters. Most importantly, for fans of the cruise line, Holland America hasn't abandoned its traditional roots to segue into modern times; it's embraced and evolved them.






The World Stage, on Decks 2 and 3 forward, is the main performance space onboard; it's an innovative theater in the round, which debuted on sister ship Koningsdam. The venue accommodates 650 passengers at one time with unobstructed views and standout 270-degree screens that are used during performances. A highlight of any sailing is a specially produced short film from BBC's Planet Earth series, accompanied by a live orchestra.

Guest performers, including opera singers, take the stage on intermittent nights; other nights you'll find more traditional song-and-dance production shows. During the day, the World Stage hosts port talks and other enrichment lectures. It's commonly the meeting place for shore excursions before you head out to meet your group.


A day indoors onboard a Holland America ship promises enrichment opportunities, music, relaxation and, of course, a variety of libations and tastings. Nieuw Statendam is no exception. The Microsoft Studio, on Deck 2, offers complimentary sessions on Microsoft software -- from creative applications to storage -- taught by a specialist. The room contains dozens of computers for passengers to practice on their own, or under the one-on-one supervision of the staff.

Up in the Crow's Nest, at Explorations Central, passengers will find books, puzzles and board games to pass the time, as well as occasional hosted trivia. (BBC-themed trivia using video clips and music trivia are sometimes held in Billboard Onboard and other venues.) Your EXC guides will also lead informative port talks in the theater, and guest speakers are invited to lecture on art and culture, usually tied to your itinerary.

Be sure to read the latest pick from Oprah's Book Club and join a meetup onboard to discuss. However, you might need to check with your travel agent or the cruise line to find out what the latest pick is as they're not listed on the website.

For the culinary minded, America's Test Kitchen hosts themed demos, typically held in the Queen's Lounge. More intimate classes might also be available, but for a fee. Also for an extra cost ($99 per couple or $79 per person), you're able to make your own red wine blend from five varietals, guided by an onboard wine expert at Blend on Deck 2. The program, created in partnership with Washington-based winery Chateau Ste. Michelle, is educational, plus you get to label and bottle your blend to take home with you (or drink on the cabin balcony). Wine tastings and happy hours are also held here -- and elsewhere -- throughout your sailing. Beer-lovers will find tastings on select afternoons for about $15. Amateur mixologists will enjoy themed cocktail-making classes, including the drinks of cruise line mixologist Dale DeGroff, held at the Ocean Bar for $15.

An artist-in-residence program, hosted by the ArtLink Gallery, will be starting soon; it will bring local artists onboard to display their art, give talks or teach classes. For those seeking more active pursuits, tournaments on the Sports Court, games of bridge, dance classes, behind-the-scenes tours of the ship and flower arranging are all activities you might see listed in your When & Where program on any given day. Complimentary gaming lessons are also held in the casino on select afternoons.

Lincoln Center Stage is likely to hold performances not only in the evening (5:30 or 6:30) but also in the middle of the afternoon. As the classical musicians share the Queen's Lounge performance venue with the B.B. King's blues band, they are more likely to get a few sessions in during the day.



Music is the main event on Nieuw Statendam, with up to a dozen sets held nightly, and Music Walk is the center of most of the action. Music Walk is a cleverly designed pathway on Deck 2 that takes cruisers through classical, rock, blues and even samba and other musical styles.

Beginning at the back of the ship, cruisers start with the sparkling Queen's Lounge, home to the B.B. King's blues band and Lincoln Center Stage musicians -- both absurdly talented. Further down the pathway you'll find yourself with Billboard Onboard to your left and Rolling Stone Rock Room to your right. The partnership with Rolling Stone Magazine is new to Holland America, and it brings even more dimension to the nightly lineup as rock 'n' roll musicians do their best covers of classic rock hits.

When the rock 'n' rollers aren't shredding it, the piano players (there are two who play face to face) take over at Billboard Onboard and most nights it's a free-for-all sing-along to chart-toppers from across the decades.

End your walk at the World Stage, which also hosts special musical guests and other performances each night. Along the way you might even run into a soloist at the Ocean Bar or a Latin band in another venue.

Whiskey tastings at Notes are typically reserved for evenings, and price varies by the daily selection. An onboard bar hop is held once per sailing; check your cruise program for time and location. Families will enjoy the latest films shown on the Lido Deck big screen at 7 and again at 10.


There's no question that Holland America is dedicated to its dining. Fleetwide programs like the Culinary Council, a team of seven accomplished chefs who help develop and influence onboard menus, demonstrate an emphasis on quality cuisine.

The great news is you don't have to pay extra for the best food onboard. The seafood we got at lunch in the main dining room was every bit as good as the dishes served at Rudi's Sel de Mer, the $100/couple specialty restaurant. Considering just how good the food was in the main restaurant, we're not sure why anyone would actually pay such a high surcharge. Even across specialty restaurants, you'll save $30 per couple over Rudi's if you dine on the selection of seafood at the steakhouse, Pinnacle Grill (and it's not shabby; think halibut and Alaskan king crab legs). At Tamarind, the pan-Asian restaurant, two can dine for the price of one Rudi's cover charge -- and Tamarind was unanimously our group's favorite meal of the entire cruise.

But whether you're indulging in specialty dining or enjoying the included options, Nieuw Statendam offers dining around the clock, and provides it in impeccable surroundings. Main meals served in the designer dining room or light-filled Lido Marketplace are complemented by pastries in the scenic Crow's Nest lounge or a bite at the stylish Dutch cafe. Even shameless late-night snackers can order burgers and bento boxes to their cabins to nosh. You certainly won't go hungry onboard.



The Dining Room (Decks 2 and 3):

Due in large part to the dazzling decor of master designer Adam. D. Tihany, a meal in Nieuw Statendam's main dining room feels more like an occasion and less like a default dining option. (Look for the two-deck paper sculpture -- made from Belgian linen and designed to mimic sound and ocean waves -- to the left of the entry. It was created by an artist who has exhibited in the Louvre.)

Breakfast and dinner are served here daily, while lunch and afternoon tea are included on sea days. Lunch service is noon to 1 p.m. while afternoon tea is held at 3. Breakfast opens at 7:30 a.m. on port days and 8 a.m. on sea days, spanning 90 minutes. Dinner is held from about 5 to 9 p.m. each evening. Our group will have the same designated tables in The Dining Room every night for dinner. We can sit anywhere within that area.

Dinner consists of starters/soups/salads and then entrees and desserts. Dishes are labeled on the menu with dietary information and Culinary Council designations, but let your waiter know of any food intolerances prior to ordering and they will be accommodated.

Expect to start with items like a crispy crab roll, andouille and Swiss chard soup or fig, feta and arugula salad before moving on to the mains. An "always available" menu consists of grilled salmon, broiled chicken and New York strip loin, while specials fill the rest of the page and often pull ingredients from ports visited (in Spain, for example, you might see Iberico ham and manchego cheese used liberally). On Gala Night, expect a vamped-up five-course menu with way more featured dishes from your Culinary Council chefs.

A new partnership with renowned wine critic James Suckling has brought curated wine menus into the dining room, adding to the specialty cocktails you will find from the line's existing partnership with master mixologist Dale DeGroff.

While all the stops are pulled for dinner service, lunch in the dining room also deserves a nod. Menus are more limited, but include tasty picks like roasted Roma tomato soup with a basil foam, gnocchi with Gruyere, and a chocolate-peanut tart topped with rum raisin ice cream. It's a nice alternative for days at sea, rather than simply grabbing a burger by the pool. 

Breakfast is divided into sections like "Something Simple" for yogurt and cereal; "Breakfast Classics," which includes Benedicts, English breakfasts and Asian breakfast platters; omelets, skillets, pastries and "Hot Off the Griddle," which denotes waffles, French toast and pancake varieties; and finally, "Light Selections," which are picked by the health-conscious chef Elizabeth Faulkner. Note that it's not your grandma's health food: Selections include a quinoa parfait with coconut milk yogurt, raspberries, bananas, avocado, maple syrup and Brazil nuts.

Grand Dutch Cafe (Deck 3):

If there's one public space that sums up a Holland America ship, it might be the Grand Dutch Cafe, with a menu inspired by the brand's Dutch heritage. The European cafe concept complements the top deck of the atrium, as passengers pass through to grab a latte, sit to rest or dig into a Dutch specialty. The space is gorgeous on Nieuw Statendam; navy blues trimmed with white, mirrors that reflect various angles and quaint tables accompanied by an adjacent seating area with natural light and countertops that contain miniature Dutch villages framed in glass.

A dozen food items, from soups and sandwiches to Dutch-style fries and pancakes, are available from 11:30 a.m. until 8 p.m., free of charge. Three additional snacks -- including bitterballen (a Dutch meat-based snack) -- are added to the menu from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Pastries and ham and cheese sandwiches are available all day (7 a.m. to 10 p.m.) from the bake case. Coffee, tea, espresso drinks, beer on tap or by the bottle and about nine Dutch liqueurs are on hand to sip (for a fee). Wrapped Dutch cookies and candies are displayed in jars near the register, for a small charge.

If you order a hot beverage to stay, it arrives on a silver platter with a small glass of water and a cookie, as it would in Europe. It's such a satisfying way to savor a caffeine fix.

Lido Market (Deck 9):

So many things have been done at sea in recent years to shy away from the perception of a crowded free-for-all buffet, and the Lido Market -- serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily -- is a perfect example of how it's working. For starters, the space is stunning. Tons of natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows flood light and airy seating areas with a white and grass-green color scheme. It feels fresh and the space feels open. Two-tops can be found alongside tables for four and up to eight. It's a modern take on mass dining.

Rather than an endless, winding hallway of food, the Lido Market fully embraces the station concept. Not only does this aid with navigation, but also sanitation: No passenger actually helps themselves at the buffet; everything is served from behind a glass panel.


Stations are:

Homestead, where you'll find classic comfort food; Distant Lands, for international cuisine; Wild Harvest is a deluxe salad station; and the Breadboard offers sandwiches, to name a few. (The omelet station is usually set up at Distant Lands, for breakfast.) Expect classic American cuisine at each mealtime, accompanied by an impressive amount of other ethnic dishes, from Indian to Italian. Options rotate daily. A Beer on Tap table is located by one of the entrances to the Lido Market, and for a fee you can pull your own pint of Heineken, Newcastle or Strongbow cider.

The Lido Market opens as early as 6:30 a.m. for light breakfast items and as late as 11:30 p.m. for late-night snacks. Lunch is typically 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., while dinner is from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Select stations are open for an afternoon snack from 2 to 4 p.m.



Dive In (Deck 9):

Holland America has struck crispy, fried gold with Dive In, its poolside burger and hot dog counter. Choose from seven specialty burgers or create your own; there are also three ways to have your Nathan's hot dog and four ways to enjoy the French fries (special sauce, anyone?). Buzzers are handed out and let you know when your order is ready, to avoid crowding. Milkshakes are available (coming from the nearby gelato shop), but cost extra.


New York Deli & Pizza (Deck 10):

Overlooking the pool deck, you can grab a bite inspired by the Empire State until midnight at the onboard deli and pizza shop. Choose from six specialty pies -- including one from chef Ethan Stowell -- or build your own. There are also salads, classic deli sandwiches like corned beef or pastrami, and desserts. Get here early (it opens at 7:30 a.m.) and avoid the buffet crowds for breakfast; bagels and spreads including lox, breakfast sandwiches, fresh fruit and pastries -- and most importantly coffee -- are on hand.

Perhaps the best part of this included venue are the movie-night snacks: Choose from sweet and savory pretzel flavors, popcorn, chips, nachos, fries and even short rib sliders and Korean fried chicken.


Explorations Cafe (Deck 12):

This cafe serves Explorations Central at the Crow's Nest and sates visitors with complimentary sandwiches, cookies and other pastries to accompany coffee and tea drinks that carry a charge. Open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Club Orange (Deck 2):

The new restaurant for Neptune and Pinnacle Suite guests and Club Orange members debuts on Nieuw Statendam as an attractive space serving breakfast and dinner, with an open kitchen and touches of HAL's signature orange thrown into the decor for good measure.

The design and privacy of the Club Orange restaurant is enticing, but unless you're already booked in a suite, it's not enough to warrant the per diem required to access the Club Orange pass in our opinion. This is mainly because the menus are virtually the same as you would find in the main dining room, breakfast is the exact same menu, and dinner adds one addition that is the Club Orange special, which changes daily.

Room Service:

Holland America offers a complimentary all-day room service menu, with a few exceptions. Certain items on the breakfast menu, such as steak and eggs, carry a charge. For a fee you can order items from the onboard specialty restaurants like a bento box from Tamarind ($10) or a late-night burger from the Dive In ($5). Alcohol and other non-included drinks will always carry a charge, unless you have a drink package. Your breakfast menu will be listed on a door tag, but the rest of it can be found on your in-cabin TV.



Diane at Luxury Travel Destinations: 336-749-1219
Email Diane at: