Jump to content

Last Cruise Of The Season: Koningsdam Review


Recommended Posts

Our Caribbean cruise on the Koningsdam turned out to be the last one of the season. We knew there were things going on out there, whispers of a virus in far off places like China and only one case in California. When we boarded, the only pressing question asked was if we had traveled to China in the last two weeks. That was on March 4th. The day we returned on March 15th, we came home to a changed world.

I didn't feel up to doing this review considering all that has unfolded, but a fellow traveler on our cruise encouraged me to do so, so I am finally sitting down to recall the wonderful time we had on this Southern Wayfarer Cruise.  We take a yearly winter/spring break from our otherwise hectic life, and this was our 12th cruise on HAL and our longest cruise ever at 11 glorious days.
We flew in from Boston to FLL the day before, and this time stayed at Riverside Hotel. We have tried a handful of hotels in FLL, all have been nice and had their own charm. This hotel is old but it was very well kept, we stayed in the tower and the room was quite lovely, despite older touches like brass in the bathroom and a small TV. The room was super clean and the staff very friendly. We had an early dinner in their outside restaurant by the river, 'The Boatyard'. The food was so delicious especially after my winter diet, how many times did I dream of this? I had a wonderful fish sandwich and a cosmopolitan as we watched the boats drift back and forth.
Embarkation day was finally here, and it was quite seamless. As we walked up the gangway my husband and I gave each other that promised gangway kiss, so grateful to be able to share another cruise together! We accepted an upsell two days previous to a Signature Suite, so quickly went to our room to check it out. Last year we had sailed on Nieuw Statendam in a Signature Suite and had been crazy about it. On Koningsdam, there is a tub and very small shower vs. the very large shower and no tub on Nieuw Statendam. We much prefer the layout of the NS, as the shower was just so tiny on Koningdam. Aside from this, the room was spacious and identical in every great feature of her sister ship. We met our cabin steward Eli, and he and his assistant Martin were typical of the great HAL service we have always received. We didn't have one complaint and were pampered with a spotless cabin for the entire cruise.
It was so nice to have two sea days to start with. We are early risers and sun/water lovers,  so we were the among the first to be at the pool those first two mornings. We left our chairs to get breakfast at the Lido and bring it back to the nice tables by the Lido pool. There is nothing like having coffee and a wonderful omelette while looking out to sea! After a few more hours at the pool (and being the first ones in the water!) it was time to move on. We often try and "zig" while others "zag",  a favorite phrase from Steve Birnbaum on how to navigate Disney. It works during a cruise, too, and we often try and be at places at off hours to minimize crowds. This cruise was pretty chill however, and didn't get ramped up at the pools until mid day/afternoon. 
We had excellent weather the entire cruise, except for our first stop: St. Maarten. We had booked a Golden Eagle Catamaran cruise (had done it 3 times before so knew it was a good one) and met outside in our designated spot when it started to rain. We walked to our destination in very gloomy conditions, lost about 25% of the people along the way as it was pretty depressing, but we pressed on, as we knew the weather in this place changes very quickly. So glad we did, about 15 minutes after we boarded the skies cleared and it was the most wonderful, beautiful day as we swam in those clear waters. Later that evening we met people that took bus tours, and that was hard to hear how they sat in buses while damp from the rain. It is always a risk, taking excursions, you just never know with the weather. After today, we had beautiful calm seas and gorgeous days.
MDR service and food was outstanding. We had fixed late seating and had wonderful service from Gunawan and Marvin.  We tried new things each night, it was presented so beautifully and the timing was perfect. Dawn, our wine stewardess, was just so sweet and proficient. This cruise had a different vibe from years past when things seemed rushed in the MDR.. Not sure if changes have been made, or because we were late fixed, or because there is a great manager, but it was noticeable. In my review to HAL I called it a "happy cruise". Looking back now, it makes me sad to think how everything has abruptly stopped.
We had more days of pampering and adventure, I will continue the review later if there is an interest. For now, our thoughts are buzzing with concern for our families and our country and the world. And of course for all the wonderful HAL staff that have made cruising such an extraordinary pleasure to us! Thank You!!!
  • Like 5
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for posting, so nice to read your review of the K'dam, which my family and I were on that exact cruise that exact time last year.  We LOVED the K'dam and are now booked on her sister ship, NS for March 2021, we simply cannot wait.


I am also an early riser, for me, the morning is the best part of the day.  We would eat breakfast early, grab our chairs by the pool and were planted for most of the day.  For me, there is nothing more relaxing than to stare out to sea....................


Cannot wait to hear more of your wonderful cruise.  Thank you for posting....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Lido deck main said:

So glad you had a great cruise.  If you are up to it would love to hear more of it.  It is a great distraction for all of us and we can be taken mentally to a simpler time.  

I agree! Can’t wait to read more, thank you!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have enjoyed your review so far.  Please tell more.  I got off the Koningsdam the day you got on the ship. I watched your ship go out from Ft. Lauderdale never realizing how things were about to change.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, thanks for the lovely review - and I am looking forward to more.  


My husband and I were supposed to be going to Alaska in mid-June this year on the Koningsdam.  That's not happening.  


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hope the Koningsdam gets to the Pacific this year.  If Vancouver is closed til July q, I wonder if we might get some Mexican Riviera cruises in June out of San Diego or LA or San Francisco.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We've been on the Koningsdam twice now, with the Southern Wayfarer being one of the cruises. I'd love to hear more. We left on NCL Breakaway on March 7, and felt the same....coming home on the 14th was to a different world. I was soooo glad to put my feet Canadian soil when we returned. It's amazing how things changed so quickly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Enjoyed your review and hope you can continue with details about the trip.   We were on the Koningsdam last October and loved it.   We are booked on her again (exact same cabin)  for November and not sure if that will happen.   Hoping to be able to take that cruise and have life return to normal for everyone's sake.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the nice comments!  Day 5: Our next stop was Martinique. We booked an excursion for a tour of a rum distillery, then on to a Caribbean Creole cooking class with a local woman who has a popular blog.  The drive out to the distillery was pleasant over well paved roads, and a tour guide shared info about the island and their history. The distillery was interesting enough but I felt bad that we had people with mobility challenges, and this place was not at all easy to navigate. I am not sure if the description on HAL mentioned this, but if not, it should have. After the tour we boarded the bus and headed back to an area near our ship with a pretty view of the water, and it was there we had our class under a canopy.  Prisca cooked us a tasty meal with recipes passed down from her grandmother. The cod fritters were our favorite! Very authentic, local cuisine and Prisca made the entire meal fun and informative. I bought some fragrant bay leaves from her little shop and have already used them in several stews and soups.

The following morning in Barbados we booked a more low key excursion to the beach where we spent a few hours. It was HOT. So, we were in the water most of the time which was delightful. They handed out rum punches as we walked in (at 9:00 in the morning? no thanks) and told us where our 'section' was. This was the least appealing of our excursions as we felt like a 'herd', but out in the water, we didn't care.
St. Lucia was our next stop, what a beautiful place!  We went on a catamaran/plantation excursion. The catamaran was spacious and we enjoyed a gorgeous, scenic cruise past the pitons while a sweet guide gave us lots of info about the history of the island. We then docked in Soufriere Bay and were loaded into mini-vans, and drove the winding roads to the plantation. I didn't like this part, but it didn't take very long. We were then given a tour of how life used to be on the island, it was really interesting. Then back in the vans to make our way down the mountainous roads (hoping this old van still had good brakes!) Ahhh, back on that airy catamaran and we had an awesome time punching through choppy waters and getting sprayed (we love to stand at the front!) and then stopped near a cove so we could swim. SO FUN!  Now, after all that walking then swimming, and being 2:00 in the afternoon, THIS would be a good time for a rum punch or two! They played island music and everyone was well behaved and chatting and it was just a delightful ride back. I love HAL cruisers.
We found out that St. Kitts and Nevis, our next stop, did not want to permit us to dock, despite having a healthy ship. The captain said he made arrangements to go to St. John's, Antigua instead, and they would accept us. So on we sailed. We changed our excursion to something else as HAL offered us options for St. John's quickly. We thought we were all set. The next morning, with all of us waiting to disembark, the plan changed, they no longer wanted us. So it became a sea day and a lovely one at that.  We used the spa most afternoons of this cruise and often had time for a luxurious nap before late seating, which I think I am now sold on.
It is always worth checking out how many ships will be in port before your cruise. I have read that Magan's Bay in St. Thomas is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. But St. Thomas almost always has four or more ships in port, so the few times we have stopped here we did other things. When planning,  I saw that the Koningsdam would be the ONLY ship in port this day. I knew our chance had come!  We booked the Magen's Beach excursion. We were so relieved that morning we were able to dock, and quickly boarded an open air vehicle to take us to the beach. The roads were not congested and the air was balmy, the scenery amazing. Our guide stopped a few times so we could take pictures at elevated look-outs. The beach did not disappoint. It was so pretty and picturesque, and it was quiet. We spent most of our time in the clear water, and saw sea turtles! I am so glad we finally got to experience this pretty place in such a quiet atmosphere. On our ride back, our driver played his own CD of steel drum music, all hymns. My husband and I hummed along as we knew all of them, how awesome to hear "our" music with steel drums and a Caribbean vibe, driving through the streets of this tropical place. I think of him now, as I think of so may others that made this trip special.
We used room service for breakfast three times before our early excursions. It arrived (as usual) a few minutes before the scheduled time and everything is laid out so nicely. They always follow up with a call to make sure everything was right (it was). The Lido worked out well for other breakfasts, there is just so much to choose from and I can't fathom how anyone could get bored! We also enjoyed pizza at the NY Deli (try the barbecue chicken!) and of course the Dive-In (decadent!). We went to the Pinnacle Grill for dinner once. We both had the filet mignon and all other choices were delicious. The service and timing were also excellent. We went to the Canaletto once. The view is magnificent with a window table as we shared chicken parmesan. The service here is always special. We went to our favorite Tamarind later in the cruise, and were so pleased to see our lovely servers from last year on the NS, Nila and Ara. We chatted about their future plans and realized that things were becoming volatile. By now it was March 12th, and we were beginning to hear more on the news. For the first time, I felt afraid. 
After another luxurious sea day, our final stop was Half Moon Cay. Once again the weather was beautiful and we were among the first to get off, walk down the beach to claim our spot in paradise for five hours. We got floats and spent most of our time out there in those perfect waters. We tried to relish these final hours and enjoy these moments, and we did.
Most nights we spent our time at BB King. We saw the same sax player from last year on the NS, and he and the band were very good. We went to a few martini tastings up at the Panorama Bar, Chang made it fun. We played trivia a few times. I have heard complaints that the ship is boring with nothing to do. We had a great time and didn't take advantage of 80% of what they offered. It is just a matter of expectations and our personal preferences. We have found this cruise line to be the right fit for us, and apparently many others do too.
Disembarkation went well, we got to the airport quickly as we started to receive texts about our work and how there would be a 14 day stay at home requirement since we had been on a cruise. We have been healthy, but we haven't been back to work since. Koningsdam set sail for South America, with only crew on board. Nobody could have even imagined.
We urgently hope we will all be back to our lives soon, be it work or school or planning another wonderful cruise. Take care everyone and thanks for following along!
  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Enjoyed your review so much.  It sure beats listening to the constant dire news.  With the new restrictions some cruise lines have announced, I don't even know if I'll be allowed to cruise again because some lines are requiring those over 70 to have a doctor's letter attesting to their fitness for travel.  Despite still working as a teacher and being in excellent health, I know of no doctor here who would be foolish enough to sign off on anyone's fitness to cruise.  A person could be fine one day and have a serious health issue after embarkation.  Just hope HAL doesn't decide to require a physician's letter.


My husband and I took a similar itinerary on Maasdam for a 16-day cruise in 2008, our first cruise with HAL.  Like you, we decided HAL worked best for us and are now 4*.  Here's hoping there's a cruise somewhere for all of us in the future.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, Greetings and thank you for a lovely review. Sailing in a signature Suite on the Westerdam with my sister a few years ago, was also once of the best/service experiences I have had whilst sailing. This was my sister’s first cruise so she had nothing with which to compare - she was in awe. The staff on board were simply amazing.  Both my sister and I truely enjoyed the “old World” style cruising Holland American offers, but I will have to say that entertainment  was a little lacking in the evenings. We also found food and service to be simply amazing and truely loved every bit of it. Would you have any pictures of the ship during your cruise to post, it would be great to see some of the Konigsdam. Hopefully and thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • Holland America Line’s Alaska Exploration Sale
      • Cruise Critic Live Special Event: Q&A with American Queen Voyages
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • Canadian Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
  • Create New...