Going with the flow takes on a whole new meaning…
Your morning stretch class at 7:30 am is just the ticket to get you moving in a smooth, leisurely and undemanding way. Now bright-eyed and ready to greet the day, head to the pool for Aqua Aerobics. It will end just in time for you to get to the Showroom at Sea for a preparatory lecture titled Through the Canal which will inform you of what you can expect to see and experience as you glide through the various locks of the Panama Canal. You are aboard Holland America’s SS Statendam and happily this lecture ends just in time for the deck-top luncheon buffet.
After your morning work-out, you may vow that lunch will be healthy and low-cal. Luckily, aboard this ship, along with copious amounts of delicious 5-star fare, guests also have the choice of sensible, tasty offerings that won’t blow your diet. Contrary to what you may think, when cruising with Holland America, it is truly not necessary to pack on the pounds. There’s even a Culinary Arts Center on board, allied with Food & Wine Magazine, where one can learn to prepare calorie-conscious, low-cal dishes.
Your first port of call is the island of Aruba. Then, after another day at sea, you’ll glide through the impossibly emerald-blue Caribbean, and slowly approach the first lock of the Panama Canal. Going through the six locks till one reaches Golfo Dulce and the open waters of the Pacific is a remarkable, photo-op experience involving countless workers and taking a full day. Your next port is Costa Rica. From there you’ll cruise to Mexico, stopping in Huatulco and last, the deluxe and posh destination of Cabo San Lucas. Although you’ve heard that George Clooney often vacations there and as you peer intently from your perch at a seaside café, sadly you probably won’t sight His Royal Hunkness. However, suffice it to say, your lush surroundings are quite enough to evoke a blissful, happy mood that follows you back to the ship.
This delightful ambiance lasted into your very special “An Evening at Le Cirque Dinner.” Because Holland America works with New York’s Le Cirque Executive Chef Craig Hopson, on board Master Chef Rudi Sodamin recreates the legendary eatery’s whimsical and award-winning culinary experience, all under the careful tutelage of Pinnacle Grill Manager Colin D’Souza. You’ll dine on the fanciful and original orange Le Cirque china and end your meal with the restaurant’s famous crème brulee. Altogether, a brilliant day – but just one of 14 – each day memorable in its own significant way.
For over 137 years, the award-winning Holland America Line has been a recognized leader in cruising, taking guests to exotic destinations around the world. Its fleet of 15 mid-size ships completes more than 500 sailings a year and visits all 7 continents. The activities on board our ship were mind-boggling. There’s plenty to do if you’re so inclined. If you’re a do-nothing, that’s ok too. You can merely sit on your veranda and gaze out on a gently undulating blue scene unfolding before you,. One afternoon, we take a bridge tour and get a chance to meet your erudite and utterly charming Captain, Albert Schoonderbeek. Activities on board include trivia games, Singles and Solos parties, Book Club reads, Mixology classes and Sunset Tai Chi, to name but a few.
Each morning the Captain makes an announcement, a run-down of your precise position, the conditions at sea, the speed at which you’re traveling and what you can expect at your next port. This is informative and a broadcast you’ll look forward to each day. Informative also and incredibly helpful are the ship’s technology classes. Daryl and his Piano Bar seems to call to you each evening as you form a group to sing golden oldies – a wonderful ice-breaker as you join in raucous singing and make friends with your fellow passengers. Karaoke nightly in the Crow’s Nest is still another way to show off your vocal abilities. You say you have no abilities? Each night you can count on top-notch entertainment in the Showroom at Sea, and – the fail safe – cocktails flowing until the wee hours in the Ocean Bar where you can dance the night away. And for confirmed do-nothings, how about a new release movie and hot, buttered popcorn? It’s yours for the viewing, nightly in the ship’s theater.
Nothing can quite compare to a joyous journey “at sea.” First, the thrill of boarding, standing at the rail and hearing the ship’s horns sound their powerful blasts signaling our departure. Then, as you slowly slip away from the harbor, the horns sound once more as you enter open water. Shortly thereafter, you don the lifejacket and go through the safety drill and explore all the decks, rooms and goings-on. Departing is always fun – coming into your final port and debarking – not so much. Sad to see your wonderful sea-journey end.
An African safari, a Mexican fiesta, the Alaskan wilderness, a Japanese shrine, a European masterpiece –all coming up with Holland America this year. The Line’s motto: “Through excellence we create once-in-a-lifetime experiences, every time.” That they do.
FYI: There are two cruise lines that depart regularly from NYC: Carnival and Norwegian; from nearby NJ piers: Holland America, Seabourn and Royal Caribbean.
If You Go: