OpinionFirst Impressions of Holland America Line

First Impressions of Holland America Line

I have cruised on 11 different cruise lines over the years, but had yet to take a cruise on Holland America Line.

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Holland America recently invited me on a cruise on one of their newer cruise ships, Koningsdam.  We are currently halfway through our 13 night itinerary in the Mediterranean and enjoying our second sea day.  What do I think of Holland America Line?  Here are my first impressions of the cruise line.


We embarked in Civitavecchia (Rome) and it was one of the easiest and smoothest check-ins I’ve had in my 40 cruises. I went from sidewalk to ship in less than 15 minutes, to say it was a breeze would be an understatement.

I arrived at the port a little after noon and assumed I would be waiting in lines. I’m glad I was wrong.

It was a great way to kick off the cruise practically walking right on the ship.

Cruise Ship

Koningsdam was Holland America’s first Pinnacle class cruise ship and comes in just under 100,000 gross tons.  It’s the perfect sized ship, not too big and not too small.

The more I am on here, the more I am loving the ship. No, you won’t find water slides, bumper cars, laser tag, or a go-kart track.  What you will find is a beautiful cruise ship that is perfect for music lovers, explorers, and foodies. And yes, exploring the world is my favorite thing to do in life.

Everything on the ship seems to be designed for comfort and I really appreciate that. The main pool area is great and there’s an aft pool that is adults only.  For a ship this size, there is a good amount of outside deck space.


My cabin is a balcony stateroom on deck 5. The room has a really good sized balcony and the stateroom is extremely comfortable.

One thing that I love about the bathroom is the shower is huge (for a cruise ship) and has really good water pressure. It’s one of my favorite bathrooms I’ve ever had on a cruise ship.

One super cool feature about my stateroom is the motion sensor for when you get up at night to use the bathroom.  When you get up with the lights turned off, floor lights will turn on so you can walk around the stateroom without smashing your toes into things.  The lights slowly dim after you climb back into bed.  It’s little features like this that have helped to elevate this cruise experience above others that I have taken.

There are also plenty power outlets, five to be exact to go along with three USB ports.


The staff has been nothing short of superb.  My room steward has done a tremendous job and always greets me by my name when he sees me in the hallway.

But it’s not just my room steward, it’s everywhere you go around the ship.  Frits in the coffee shop (Grand Dutch Cafe) is just awesome.  Speaking of coffee shops, the Grand Dutch Cafe is one of my favorite coffee shops on a cruise ship.  I’m actually writing this article from there right now.

I really love how they serve you at the buffet.  You tell them what you want, and they put it on your plate for you.  This also helps keep everyone on board much healthier and keeps sickness from spreading.  I wish more cruise ships would do this.

Service has been on point so far during this cruise.  I couldn’t be happier.


If you love live music, than Koningsdam is the perfect cruise ship for you. There are so many options to choose from including the Rolling Stone Rock Room, B.B. King’s Blues Club, Lincoln Center Stage, and billboard onboard.

Billboard onboard is my favorite entertainment venue by far. The two guys on the duel pianos are fantastic. I’m a big fan of piano bars and this is the best duo I’ve ever seen.  They are entertaining, funny, great at improvising, and the small banter between them is just perfect. Tip: Get there early as many times it ends up being standing room only.

With live music ranging from rock to blues to classical strings, there is something for everyone.

One thing I really loved was how they brought in a local group to perform on the World Stage the night we stayed in port late in Dubrovnik. We were treated with traditional Croatian music and dance. This greatly helps enhance the cruise experience on board as you travel the world.


I normally don’t go into too much detail on food on cruises because everyone has different tastes and opinions.

There is such a great variety of food on board and it has all been fantastic so far. From the Pinnacle Grill (steak house) to the made to order pizza by the pool, everything has been delicious.

There are five specialty dining restaurants and I am slowly eating my way through them. After all, if you aren’t eating your way through a cruise, you’re doing it all wrong. My favorites so far would be a tie between Pinnacle Grill and Tamarind.

Odds and Ends

Holland America’s Navigator app is just awesome. It’s simple, easy to use, and a great way to keep up with what is going on around the ship.

The internet on board is pretty decent.  While it’s not like being at home (it never is on a cruise ship), I am able to do everything I need to do.  I’m pleased with it.

We have late night port stays in several of our port stops. This is important to me as it allows you to spend extra time exploring a port without having to rush back to the ship.

For dinner, they put out place mats in the buffet. While this is something little, it makes eating dinner in the buffet a little nicer.

In the hallway by Club Orange, there are tables with two USB ports in the middle of them.  This is a great feature so you can charge your mobile devices while relaxing in a public area.

For this voyage, I have Club Orange access.  Club Orange is Holland America Line’s new program where you can receive “VIP” treatment for a daily fee.  So far I am loving it and will have more on the program after the cruise is over.

Also, a shoutout to Ross the cruise director on board Koningsdam. He is the perfect cruise director for an itinerary like this in the Mediterranean.

You can follow along on my cruise on Cruise Fever’s Instagram and Twitter accounts. (@CruiseFever for both)  I am posting daily photos and videos so you can see what this cruise on Holland America is all about.

I will have more on this cruise on Koningsdam in a few days and after I get home from the cruise. I can’t wait to share with you all the great features on this ship and itinerary.

While I am a guest of Holland America Line on this cruise, opinions in this article are 100% my own.

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Ben Souza
Ben Souza
Ben is a world traveler who has visited 40+ countries, taken over 70 cruises. He is one of USA TODAY's experts for their 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. His writings have appeared and been cited in various media outlets such as Yahoo News, MSN, NPR, CNN, Fox, and ABC News. Ben currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. Follow Ben on Instagram. Visit Ben Souza on Linkedin. You may email Ben at [email protected].
OpinionFirst Impressions of Holland America Line


  1. We were on the sailing before this and agree that it was very pleasant and definitely very easy to board. Can I assume you are in a large suite since you said you have Club Orange access? Are you trying the MDR at all or just CO and the buffet? Otherwise it’s $50 a day for CO access and most people do not have that. It was almost empty when we walked past on my sailing.

    As for Karin, given that HAL has many guests who need scooter or wheelchair access, I’m surprised that you found the cabin too small for your needs. However, most people do tend to leave their scooters outside, and maybe walkers as well.

  2. Hopefully they won’t allow you the honor to sail on the most hospitable cruise line with the very best service available in the cruise industry. Your loss ma’am.

  3. We tried for the 1st time a cruise on the Zuiderdam. we need a wheel chair accessible cabin. The bathroom was adequate HOWEVER the cabin was a joke. I had to turn the wheel chair around outside the cabin because there WAS NO ROOM inside with the doors to turn it around. Also, the space between the bed and the wall was so narrow that the wheel chair would not fit through. The food was soso but ok, We only went ashore in Costa Rica and participated in a cruise sponsored event which was very nice and the driver and host were very accommodating. That was basically the only highlight of the cruise. Needless to say, we will never use Holland America Line again.

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