Is it the “Monsterdam?”

In 2015 we were on the Circle South America cruise on Prinsendam,  a Holland America ship that carried around 800 passengers.  HAL presented a slide show about its new ship, Koningsdam, carrying 2650 passengers, coming next year.  Koningsdam would carry almost three and a half times the number of passengers as Prinsendam.  People on the ship joked about the coming “Monsterdam” and wondered if they wanted to ride on such a big ship. 

The Hotel Manager put it into perspective.  He said, when Statendam first arrived in Fort Lauderdale the Harbor Master said, “let the big ship go first.”  A few years later, in the same port, concerning the same ship, he said, “let the small ship go first.”  Holland America no longer has a ship as small as that iteration of Statendam, and the line is considered a line of medium sized ships.  Even Koningsdam is considered medium sized by some.

In Mazatlán the taxi dispatcher, who said she was a typical Washingtonian, winters in Mexico, summers in Alaska, called our ship a “small ship.”  This was a good thing since the town was full of non-cruise tourists there for the eclipse. If Koningsdam is medium sized, and calling at Sitka there are ships that are much bigger, she still has been tagged “Colossaldam” by one elected official in Ketchikan. 

When we were shopping for a cruise from which to watch the total solar eclipse we had a choice of two Holland ships.  We chose Koningsdam, reluctantly.  But we chose it nonetheless because it had a lot of sea days, and we like sea days.

I had read reviews of long lines and crowded venues.  The cruise we were on did not have a vacant room, but we were pleasantly surprised at how accessible everything was.  Except for the first day, when everyone was headed for their cabins, the elevators had a shorter wait time than the older, smaller Holland ships.  I don’t know if this was luck or a smarter computer running them.

There were lines for dinner, but they moved quickly and if you timed your entry you could avoid them entirely. Food service seemed more efficient and quicker than on some other Holland ships we had taken.

Dining options were more plentiful.  We enjoyed the Grand Dutch Café for a mid-day snack in place of lunch. 

Grand Dutch Cafe.

We also liked the later hours the New York Pizza and Deli kept.  I didn’t encounter chair hogs on the lido. 

I could always find a quiet place to sit and read.  The time the ship seemed most crowded was at disembarkation after left our room and waited in a public area for our group to be called to get off. 

The entertainment venues included a blues club, more R&B and soul than straight ahead blues, but tight with great showmanship.  Billboard On Board’s dueling pianos, and the Rolling Stone Rock Room provided good musical variety. Although I miss the intimacy of Piano Bar.  What was missing?  Classical music, unless you count Brahms on an accordion or Dvorak on a synth xylophone. 

The main entertainment was Holland standard, programmed, I think, by a retired booker from the Ed Sullivan show (i.e. Brahms on an Accordion.)  But the One Step Dance Company was a joy…

…and the Ocean Bar band played good jazz between foxtrots and waltzes.  They took requests from the Coltrane, Lester Young and Miles Davis songbooks.

I had enough entertainment to keep me more than happy although the seats in the World Stage were uncomfortably hard and, in some places, tilted forward with the slope of the theater floor, making me want to slide out.   The discomfort was exacerbated by having to arrive a half hour early to get a good seat.  My back had the ability to sit through only one World Stage presentation a day. That was generally a lecture or dance show.

While the Main Stage was a technical wonder, perhaps it was too technical, presenting high class karaoke.  With few exceptions there no live show band.  And the venue was way too small.  Not everyone could fit into the two shows, and when a particularly popular lecturer was speaking, they ultimately had to do overflow seating into the Billboard lounge and the Lido big screen.  The World Stage was the one place I felt like I was on too big a ship.

I did a whole post on deck 3.  I love that the ship has a full circuit outdoor promenade, but I miss the expansive sea views, and in places it is too narrow.

I liked the décor.  It was clean and uncluttered with a musical theme.

But of course, the best part is always the HAL staff.  They are friendly, competent, curious about us and willing to share about themselves. The crew have become friends, and we keep in contact.

Finally, the question of the ship being too big for the port.  In Sitka when several large ships are in at once people do not have a peak experience.  That was hard to judge on this cruise.  Cabo seemed overly crowded with three ships.  We were the middle sized one.  Mazatlán was overcrowded, with the roads jammed, but the taxi dispatcher and our driver both said that was because of the unusually large number of people in town to watch the Eclipse.  In Honolulu there were two ships, ours the much smaller of the two, and the city was able to manage it.  We had good experiences in other Hawaiian ports.  They did not seem overly crowded.

Would I go on a Pinnacle Class vessel again?  Yes.  I still prefer the smaller ships, but Koningsdam was good for variety.

One thought on “Is it the “Monsterdam?”

  1. Thanks for your perspective on the size of this new Pinnacle Class ship.
    Personally, give me the Prinsendam over these larger ships any day. I don’t like needing to pack a snack to return to the cabin for something I forgot!

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