The 13 night roundtrip cruise out of Civitavecchia (Rome) was my 40th cruise, but my first on Holland America Line. (You can read my first impressions of the cruise here) What did I think about this cruise? Here are 26 things I loved about Holland America’s Koningsdam.
Note: I was a guest of Holland America Line for this cruise but opinions in this article are 100% my own.
The itinerary on this 13 night cruise was one of my favorite itineraries that I’ve ever taken. The cruise started off in the great city of Rome and we had port stops in Dubrovnik, Kotor, Split, Rijeka, Trieste, Catania (Sicily), Naples, Corfu, and Malta.
I had the opportunity to visit numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites that included Pompeii, Butrint, and the Old City of Dubrovnik (where Game of Thrones was filmed). I walked around medieval walled cities, hiked a volcano, took in the beauty of Lake Bled in Slovenia, and visited ancient ruins in a forest in Albania that was straight out of Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones.
Time in Port
What good is it to have a killer itinerary on your cruise if you have to rush back due to short port visits? One thing that I absolutely loved about this cruise was the long port days. We stayed in port until 10:00 pm in three different cities and some of the port visits were as long as 14 hours.
This not only gave us ample time so we didn’t have to rush, but I was also able to have dinner in town at local restaurants. I found this great place to have dinner in Sicily and a restaurant right on the water in Valletta, Malta.
To put it in perspective, I am visiting several of the same ports next month on a different cruise line. Our longest day in port is eight hours (most ports are just six hour visits) and we leave Dubrovnik at 1:00 pm. Talk about a day that is going to be rushed. We are also only going to spend six hours in Kotor, a port that ended up being everyone’s favorite on our cruise on Koningsdam.
At one port, we actually arrived one hour before our scheduled time. The Cruise Director Ross got on the PA and said “We arrived one hour early. The gangways are now open, enjoy your extra time in port.”. In 40 cruises, I have never had that happen but it was much appreciated.
Since exploring cities all around the world is one of my favorite things to do, I really loved all the time that Holland America Line gave us in port.
Detour Around Stromboli
During our cruise and the day before we were scheduled to sail by the volcano for the second time, Stromboli volcano erupted. Instead of just doing a sail by, we took a detour and sailed around the island.
At one point, we stopped dead in the water so we all could enjoy the view of the incredible volcano just a few miles off shore. This was a highlight of our last sea day and a special thanks to Captain Timmers for taking this detour.
Captain Timmers quickly became one of my favorite captains I’ve had on a cruise. His contract was over at the end of our cruise and we ended up on the same Delta flight to Atlanta from Rome.
When he saw me in the airport, he came up to me and starting talking to me about the cruise we were just on, asking me how I liked it etc. Most captains would never do that. He will be back on Koningsdam in three months (in case you wanted to sail with him).
If you’re tired of standard cruise entertainment and love live music, then Koningsdam is the perfect cruise ship for you. What you won’t find are those old 10 song dance shows that many cruise ships feature.
The live music featured everything from classical strings to blues to rock. With Lincoln Center Stage, B.B. Kings Blues Club, billboard onboard, and Rolling Stone Rock Room, there was something for everyone.
My favorite ended up being the dual pianos at billboard onboard. And it wasn’t just me, most seats were filled for their 45 minute sets (they did three each night).
While on board, I was able to try out all of the specialty restaurants on Koningsdam. Here is a list of what restaurants are available besides the main dining room and buffet:
- Canaletto (Italian)
- Pinnacle Grill (Steakhouse)
- Rudi’s Sel de Mer (Seafood)
- Tamarind (Asian)
- Nami Sushi
My favorites ended up being Pinnacle Grill and Tamarind but I really enjoyed each one of them. My filet at Pinnacle Grill was cooked to perfection and the service was spot on. You’ll definitely want to try out some of the specialty restaurants while on board.
I can’t say enough about how great the crew was on my cruise. I had some of the friendly stateroom attendants ever. Their supply closet was right across from my stateroom on deck 5 so I saw them several times a day. They always greeted me by my name when they saw me and did a great job in cleaning my cabin.
But it wasn’t just my stateroom attendants, everywhere on the ship I was always greeted with a friendly hello.
2 Gangways Open
At each port we stopped at, there were always two gangways open. This helped reduce lines and congestion when getting off and re-boarding the ship.
Holland America’s Navigator app made it easy to know what is going on around the ship. I won’t go into too much detail now about the app since I will be publishing a post soon showing you all the great features that it has.
I found myself using the app at least 5-10 times a day and you’ll want to download it if you are taking a cruise on Holland America Line. It will make you onboard experience go much smoother.
Holland America switched things up a bit with the World Stage, the main theater on Koningsdam. What you won’t find are the traditional Broadway style shows found on most cruise ships.
One feature I loved about the World Stage was the LED TV screens that wrapped around the entire theater.
Entertainment ranged from the vocal group Vox Fortura to a comedian to a classical pianist. However, the highlight of the cruise was Planet Earth II in Concert, a show produced in Partnership with BBC Earth. I won’t give away any spoilers but it is not to be missed.
My cabin was balcony cabin 5159 on deck 5. You can watch a short two minute video tour of my cabin below:
It was a comfortable cabin for my 13 day cruise. I loved the bed and the pillows (and I am extremely picky when it comes to pillows). One feature about the cabin that I really loved was the motion sensor lights on the floor. If you got up at night, the floor would light up and they would slowly dim after you got back in bed.
I loved all of the power outlets that were in my cabin. On each side of the bed, there was a 110 outlet and a USB port.
There was also another USB port and more outlets by the desk. In the day and age where we all have cell phones, cameras, and other devices that need charged, there were plenty of outlets to charge everything I needed.
The main pool deck is an indoor/outdoor pool. While we didn’t see a drop a rain on our cruise, I love cruise ships that have this feature for when it does rain.
Couches Around the Pool
Around the second level of the main pool, there are these comfortable couches that I really enjoyed sitting on. There was a nice variety of seating at the pool area. From loungers, sunbeds overlooking the ocean, couches, and table and chairs, there was a little something for everyone.
Aft Pool (Adults Only)
There was an aft pool that was adults only. It was nice having an outdoor place on a cruise ship where you can be free of kids.
On the top deck, I loved the decent sized basketball court that was encased in netting. The court was used for different sports from basketball to soccer to Pickleball. I spent time on the basketball court almost every day of the cruise.
Spa (Thermal Suite)
Although I did not buy a pass to the thermal suite, I did take a tour of it on embarkation day and I regretting not buying a pass as the cruise went on. The thermal suite is the ultimate place to relax on Koningsdam.
However, I did book two massage treatments in the spa that were just divine.
About a week into the cruise, I found out that there is a men’s and women’s sauna that everyone can use. Each one has an ocean view and you can find them by walking past the fitness center/spa’s changing rooms.
Lido Market (Buffet)
There are a few things that I really loved about the Lido Market on Koningsdam. The biggest difference between this buffet and other cruise ship buffets that I have visited is that you don’t put your food on your plate.
Just about all of the selections were behind glass. You told them what you wanted and a crew member put it on your plate for you. This not only provides an extra level of service, but it also keeps sickness from spreading.
The Lido Market was also broken up into different stations so there was hardly ever a wait for what you wanted.
For dinner, a nice touch was added when place mats were put on the tables.
Hand Washers in the Lido Market
At the buffet, they had these super cool hand washers where you inserted your hands for 10 seconds while your hands were washed. A few in our group joked about how they wished they had them in their homes. I wish all cruise ships had these hands washers at the buffets.
Grand Dutch Cafe
Grand Dutch Cafe was the coffee shop on board Koningsdam. I love coffee shops and this one quickly became one of my favorites on a cruise ship. There was a ton of seating (for a cruise ship) so you could sit down and enjoy your cappuccino or espresso.
Situated at the top front of the ship, the Crow’s Nest is the observation lounge on Koningsdam. I loved the view from the Crow’s Nest when arriving in port, especially in Malta and Kotor.
USB Ports in Tables
Along the hallway beside Club Orange, there were tables and chairs along the windows. The tables each at two USB ports in the middle of them. This was perfect for charging devices while reading from your kindle or tablet.
Club Orange is a fairly new program from Holland America Line. For a daily charge, you will receive extra perks that will enhance your cruise. Which perks did I enjoy best? For starters, you have your own restaurant (Club Orange) for breakfast and dinner. While the menu is the same as the main dining room, it was nice eating in a more intimate, quieter setting.
Also, there is no need to get a tender ticket and wait for your number to be called. All you have to do is head down to the tenders, show you room card that says Club Orange, and you get on the next tender.
You also get priority check-in and disembarkation, as well as a dedicated line at Guest Services.
My favorite benefit? The enhanced room service breakfast menu that all Club Orange guests receive.
Movies on the Pool Deck
Each evening, movies were shown on the big screen on the main pool deck. Crew walked around with popcorn and the movie of the night was shown at two different times.
Pizza Always Fresh
I know, you don’t go on a cruise to eat pizza. However, sometimes after a day in port, it’s a nice comfort food to have for lunch. The New York Pizza and Deli was open until midnight each night and had made to order pizza.
One thing I loved was how they made each pizza just for you. This meant that it was always fresh and hot. After all, pizza after it has been sitting out for while just isn’t that good. While you had to wait for them to prepare and cook it, the pizza was well worth the wait.
Luggage Scales in the Hallway
On the last full day of the cruise, they placed luggage scales in the hallway for you to weigh your luggage. Since the cruise was out of Rome, most passengers were going to fly home. This really helped you pack so you can make sure that you didn’t have any suitcases that were over the weight limit for the airline that you were flying home on.
Extra Tips About Koningsdam
A can of Coke is actually cheaper from the minibar in staterooms than it is from any of the cruise ship’s bars.
The internet was pretty solid for cruise ship standards. I had no issues browsing the internet, uploading photos, or checking email.
If you want to get away from the crowds on a sea day and lay out and get some sun, there is a sun deck on top of the Crow’s Nest. It was virtually empty the entire cruise and a nice quiet place to relax outside.
Happy hour took place at different times each day around the ship. A second drink was only $2 extra during these times.