It has been about 10 months since we were sailing in the Med. with friends and family. Seriously, time goes way too quickly!
We have been busy with work and life. James and I bought a small Airstream and tried out camping this past summer. We want to explore more with our dogs. You can follow those adventures on Our Adventure Tails site.
Back to the point of this post. Ever since I saw the ms Koningsdam docked in Civitivecchia, I knew I would do a post just dedicated to her. Why has it taken me so long? Well, there are a couple reasons. First, by doing this final blog post, I am essentially wrapping up our fabulous trip. Actually, that's not true, I haven't finished my trip journal/scrapbook. The second reason I haven't done the post is because of other reviews. I told myself that I wouldn't read other reviews about the ship because it honestly doesn't matter what others think of it. But, I read reviews. Many were not very positive. All the more reason I should do this post. Right?!?
So, here it is. My thoughts on the ms Koningsdam. This has the potential to be a very long post - with a lot of photos.
We were on the first "paid passenger" sailing - there was a short shake down cruise with travel agents etc. to bring the ship from the shipyard around Venice to Rome.
Embarkation was fast and easy. When we came out of the doors from the cruise port and were greeted by the ms Koningsdam, I must admit it was kind of emotional. We had booked this cruise the day that bookings were open to the public, we watched the progress through videos and blog posts and now finally the ship was built and ready for us. First thoughts - she's big, beautiful and really clean!
We entered on A Deck and it was kind of congested because everyone was trying to get on an elevator. It really had that new paint smell. We finally got on an elevator and thought we would head up to deck 11 (forward) to see our suite. The elevator was mid-ship so we had to get off on deck 10 and walked through the Lido pool area to get to our room. Our first sighting of the big movie screen and New York Deli. Wow!!
We made it to our stateroom and excitedly opened the door. With the new system you just tap the card on the card reader. Also new - you have to leave your card in the slot by the door to turn on the lights.
The furnishings in our cabin are beautiful! It is a similar layout to other balcony cabins we have stayed in on other ships. The TV is mounted on the wall across from the bed. We like this as it doesn't take up counter space. If we watch TV while cruising it is usually in the morning or before bed. The finishing are light and airy - obviously finishing are subjective and I really like it. There was enough closet and drawer space for us.
The bathroom was the highlight! The shower especially was beautiful and so spacious. The position/angle of the toilet is a little odd but it didn't bother us. From other posts I've read, it does bother some people. There was good storage for us - similar to what we've had on other ships.
As is tradition, once we checked out our cabin and dropped off our carry-on, we head to the Lido for the embarkation day mayhem. The ship has a music theme and that is evident in many aspects of the ship's decor.
Restaurants and Food
The Koningsdam has some new dining options as well as some favorites.
The Dutch Cafe was my favorite new addition. They serve coffee and and drinks (for a price) and also some Dutch food at no cost. As soon as I discovered the poffertjes, I was sold. And then there were the almond cookies...and grilled ham and cheese sandwich. So good! And the decor is really cute - hits of orange among the blue and white Delft.
We didn't try Sel de Mer nor dinner at the Culinary Arts Centre. In hindsight I wish we would have. We also did not go to the Pinnacle Grill. We've been on other ships and assume it would be similar. We ate most of our dinners in the main dining room. We had an early seating table booked for all of us.
We did try Canaletto (once) and Tamarind (three times). The Tamarind menu has changed a bit but I still love it! The Tamarind restaurant is nice but I do prefer the Eurodam Tamarind for the views. The staff are amazing and gracious as always. In fact we recognized some from the Eurodam.
Canaletto is part of the Lido still but it has more of its own decor. It is really nice and we had a great meal with good service.
I love the Dive In - no matter what ship we sail. The Cannonball burger, Dive-In Dog and Fries (with Dive In sauce) are the best!
Gelato is the new frozen treat area by the mid ship Lido pool. There is a fee (I think it was $2.50 - don't quote me) for the gelato and it is really good. I thought it was worth the treat a couple times during the cruise. There is still free ice cream in the Lido.
We only had pizza from New York Deli a couple times. It was ok, but there are many great eating options so it wasn't at the top of our list.
The Lido had good variety. I really liked the salad bar area but sadly didn't eat as many salads as I likely should have. I've read some complaints about the chairs - yes they are heavy. Staff will help you if needed. And the salad bowls - yes they are big. I like them.
Overall I have no real complaints about the food or the restaurants we tried. The Lido area was a bit confusing because you weren't sure where to line up and people would just walk up and be served even when there were others standing around waiting. This was a bit annoying. I did see some of the officers watching the flow of people and service so I assume they were assessing it to put some sort of system in place.
Our dining room wait staff and wine stewart were excellent. We had slow service a couple nights but this is understandable given it is a brand new ship and all the staff were trying to figure out the best flow. The staff take your order on tablet devices.
A lot of the art on the ship follows the music theme. There are some really amazing pieces. We made sure that we went up and down every staircase so we could see it all. Some of it is absolutely amazing when you take a look up close. If you are cruising on the Koningsdam, take time to study the art. James' blog post includes a lot of photos of the art. You can check it out here.
LIFE ON THE SHIP
I love exploring ships when we sail so we tried to check out all the nooks & crannies.
We used the HAL ship app which you can access at no cost on board. That allowed us to have the ship schedule and any dining reservations we made with us on our phones. I really like the concept of this but it could use some more features. Being able to text someone on the ship would be handy.
We did buy some internet time. I don't remember the price but it's never as inexpensive as you think it should be! It was faster than other ships and it was very easy to connect from our stateroom. We only use the ship internet when necessary. We have roaming packages on our phones for when we are in port.
Our group enjoyed getting together for Happy Hour everyday in the Crow's Nest or in Billboard on Board. Drinks are 2 for the price of 1 plus $1. Happy Hour spaces get busy. You can order your drinks and take them anywhere on the ship to sit.
We enjoyed the entertainment. The World Stage is really cool. The use of screens and images are spectacular. Different people preferred different venues for entertainment and music. Some liked BB Kings, some liked the duelling pianos, some enjoyed spending time in the casino. We all thought The Lincoln Centre Stage was outstanding. None of us tried Blend or the Scotch/Whiskey tasting.
The port talks were ok. We had most of our excursions booked privately so a lot of the information wasn't relevant to us.
We purchased the Thermal Suite package and thoroughly enjoyed it. We tried to get there every day. The spa is beautiful and the gym is well equipped. To be honest though, I didn't use the gym. I looked at it. I prefer to walk the promenade deck for exercise. And yes, the promenade deck is obstructed by life boats. I honestly do prefer the promenade on other ships but it's definitely not a deal breaker. You can still get out and walk the deck, it is just narrower and the view is obstructed in some areas. There is a running track off deck 11 which is good. We actually spent quite a bit of time on Deck 11 outside because there was easy access from our stateroom. There is a bar up there and lots of places to lounge in the sun.
The shops were good. We really don't buy a lot on the ship but it's always fun to look. When they hosted sales related to the ports we were in (for example there was a Turkish Bazaar), the area got really congested. My advice, save your money and skip the sales. Or shop for items in port where they are likely cheaper.
I went to one cooking demonstration. The Culinary Arts Centre is really modern. There were a lot of people in the demo but all the live TV screens make it easy to see what's going on. We received some tasters after the session. One member of our group did a paid cooking class and she enjoyed it. Wine is provided when you take a paid class.
We watched a couple movies in the evenings at the Lido pool. It was a lot of fun. Blankets and snacks are provided. The only problem is that after a long day of touring sometimes it's hard to keep your eyes open for the entire movie!
The Captain, Hotel Manager, Cruise Director, front desk staff and all the crew we we encountered were excellent. I'm sure they were constantly dealing with little challenges of the inaugural sailing but it never showed. Maintenance staff were quick to deal with any issues.
We went in with an open mind knowing that this was the inaugural cruise. Were things perfect? No. Is life perfect? No. Did we have an amazing cruise? Absolutely! Would we sail on the ms Koningsdam again? Yes! And we are this April. We are booked for the 13 day Transatlantic so we can spend more time exploring the ship. It will be interesting to see the differences a year makes.