Those ties aside, it was not your typical flag-waving, fireworks-popping, all-American holiday. For one thing, the ship was debuting in Venice. For another, both the vibe and the passenger list were noticeably international.
Recommend was among those that gathered for the inaugural celebration of HAL’s latest entry in the cruise sweepstakes, joining the company’s top guns on hand to welcome Her Royal Highness Princess Maxima of the Netherlands, who named the ship. Company stalwarts were there as well to introduce industry invitees to the premium-brand charms and comforts of Nieuw Amsterdam—the fourth vessel in HAL’s 137-year, rich-textured historic tapestry to carry the evocative name. It calls up not only memories of the first Nieuw Amsterdam that premiered in 1906 (picture a full set of sails and steam engines), but stories of the succeeding namesakes and the links between America and the Netherlands. There was, in particular, that spot that caught the eye of Henry Hudson in the 17th century, to be christened New Amsterdam by Dutch founders.
new york, new york Indeed, the ship throughout is a thematic tribute to both HAL’s heritage and New York City. Roam on your own, or pick up a complimentary iPod for a guided art tour, and you’ll be treated to a grand, eclectic feast some $3 million strong of antique treasures, contemporary creations, and a sumptuous, shipwide collection of compelling black-and-white photos ranging from Big Apple travelers setting out on ships of the 1930s to famous faces of the 1960s-70s, captured by pioneer paparazzo Ron Galella. Spotlighting the vibrant Manhattan art world of the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s are works by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.
The first stunner to claim your eye as you board? Odds are it will be the atrium chandelier, an abstract, upside-down sculpture of translucent blocks that shape the iconic New York City skyline.
In other aspects, not surprisingly, the new ship shows off striking features first unveiled by sister Eurodam—the first ship to grace the line’s sexy new Signature class, previewed by Recommend prior to Eurodam’s launch in July 2008. For starters, there’s the 11th deck—one more than Vista-class vessels—that adds up to more space per guest overall. Among the showiest additions are the Spa staterooms on decks 10 and 11. With them come handy access to the Greenhouse Spa, priority spa bookings, room service, spa breakfast, and in-room spa amenities. Set around the Lido pool and in an exclusive area called the Retreat are cabanas discreetly curtained for privacy, rentable by the day or entire voyage.
Similarly introduced aboard Eurodam is Tamarind and its adjacent bar dubbed Silk Den. The Asian specialty restaurant (dinner $15 pp, lunch complimentary) boasts a dramatic sea-view setting, deliciously exotic cuisine, and sophisticated presentation. But service is as gentle-paced as it is gracious. Suggest to clients that they plan to devote the evening to dinner.
With Nieuw Amsterdam, look for a new adventure in cuisine at the Pinnacle Grill. A HAL hallmark when it comes to fine dining in a handsome setting known for elegant appointments the likes of Bulgari china, Riedel crystal and Frette linens, Pinnacle Grill has become a passenger staple for its Sterling Silver beef and classic flambed dishes ($10 pp for lunch; $20 pp for dinner). In recent times, the restaurant has branched out from its original Pacific Northwest theme to offer a wider variety of menu items (pass the lobster mac and cheese) and wine choices. Now comes the Master Chef’s Table experience, an exclusive menu of seven courses, each paired with wines ($89 pp).
In late 2007, HAL debuted As You Wish dining, gradually serving up the concept throughout the fleet. It means that in the elegant, two-tiered main dining room, passengers may either stick with the traditional pre-set seating time on one deck, or opt for a flexible schedule on the other deck.
Familiar to fans is the ever-bustling Lido Restaurant—which now also sports Canaletto, a casual Italian eatery tucked into its environs. Then there’s Slice, which both kids and grownups have made a rousing success. Kicked off aboard Eurodam, Slice’s daytime pizza menu is augmented by 24-hour room service delivery.