Review: Holland America Line’s Nieuw Statendam

Holland America Line is steeped in maritime tradition, with a history of sailing going back to 1873. Their elegant ships, with promenade decks and clean nautical lines, appeal to sophisticated world travellers. Despite such a conventional backdrop, the cruise line is thoroughly modern in focus: embracing global travel, enrichment, fine food, music and culture.

Nieuw Statendam seen from Hotel Jakarta, Amsterdam

Recently I visited Holland America Line’s, Nieuw Statendam, which was dedicated by Godmother, Oprah Winfrey in February 2019. Built at the Fincanteri yard, there are 1337 cabins to accommodate 2666 passengers. It is a beautiful ship, with a very relaxed atmosphere. There are many quiet spaces, as well as lots and lots to do. That’s a tricky balance to achieve. The essence is on travel, so Laser-Tag and water-slides are shunned in favour of great destinations and a true cruising experience.

Murano Glass in the Main Dining Room

As the second Pinnacle class vessel in the fleet, many of the successful features found on sister ship, Koningsdam, are carried over. The World Stage Theatre is a highlight, showing BBC Earth documentaries on giant LED screens, and the two-tier Lido deck transforms into an outdoor cinema at night, complete with blanket-covered loungers and popcorn. BLEND is a wonderful venue, where guests create their own wine to drink during the cruise, and Rudi’s Sel de Mer holds its place firmly amongst the other fantastic speciality restaurants. The Dutch Cafe, serving delicious coffee and local Dutch snacks, is incredibly popular as is the serene Greenhouse Spa.

BLEND

Of course, the Music Walk is a key feature on the Nieuw Statendam, as it is throughout the fleet, bringing the trademark Holland America Line world-class live performances every evening. Seasoned HAL cruisers will be familiar with duelling pianos at Billboard Onboard, classical recitals from Lincoln Centre Stage and B.B King’s Blues Club’s Memphis soul sounds. In an exciting move, Nieuw Statendam adds another dimension to the experience. The Rolling Stone Rock Room, in collaboration with Rolling Stone magazine, brings a top-class rock band to the stage until late, belting out one classic after another at this superb new venue.

Contemporary Art Work

The onboard art collection, worth over $4 million dollars, is one of the finest at sea. Unique contemporary works are found around the ship, some in prominent places, other more hidden. It could take a whole cruise to discover them all.

One of the most astonishing aspects of Holland America Line, and the Nieuw Statendam in particular, is the dizzying array of high-quality partnerships offered as part of the brand. The music-related collaborations, seen along the Music Walk, as well as partnerships with BBC Earth, leading Chef Rudi Sodamin and Chateau Ste. Michelle at BLEND are only part of the story. ‘O The Oprah Magazine’ is now fundamentally involved in the Holland America Line cruise experience; bringing meditation classes, a book club and workshops together to improve wellness.

Sail-Away Party

Suites have been re-designed in response to customer feedback, as have family cabins. Solo rooms are given as much importance as any other. All staterooms have Mariner Dream beds, glass shower screens, Elemis toiletries, free movies and USB sockets.

Club Orange is a programme introduced on Nieuw Statendam, where guest can access a range of priority perks and an exclusive eatery for $35 per day. I don’t feel entirely convinced by this addition to the Holland America Line brand, as the cost is quite steep and not really necessary on a ship offering such a high standard of services already. Time will tell if this addition goes the distance.

Gelato Ice Cream Parlour

Nieuw Statendam is an enhancement of an already great Holland America Line cruise experience. This is a lovely ship: perfect for adults but still suiting families, peaceful yet packed with interesting activities, based in tradition and still embracing modern values. All in all, this is a perfect way to travel.

For further information see Holland America Line

Ski France: is Samoëns the perfect resort?

The dizzy heights of Tignes, Val D’Isere and Courchevel attract Brits in their thousands every season, but are we missing a French secret?

The pretty village of Samoëns is a Savoyard gem; a monument historique revered for its precious links to the French stonemason trade. The ancient village, built at the foot of Mount Criou is only an hour from Geneva airport and served by a modern gondola swishing skiers to the Grand Massif in a mere 8 minutes.

View of the village from the express gondola

Narrow streets wind at an easy pace, taking in specialist shops showcasing the finest Haute-Savoie produce, towards a lovely square centred around an old lime tree. Locals queue out the door of the award-winning patisserie, the saucisson and cheese shop is a feast for the senses, après-skiers sip vin chaud in outdoor bars, bric-a-brac shops are a treasure-trove of chalet-worthy finds and gorgeous little cafes serve tartiflette smothered in gooey reblochon.

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The Grand Massif, watched over by the magnificent Mont Blanc, has 265km of piste and includes the snow-sure resort of Flaine. The gondola to Samoëns 1600 opens up the whole area with a wealth of runs suiting all abilities, including the 14km blue Cascade run.

On my recent trip, the Christmas celebrations were wonderfully French, French and French! Christmas Eve brought a stunning fireworks display, set off from the famous Jardin Botanique Alpina to waterfall in the sky above the village. Locals and visitors enjoyed gastronomique dinners late into the night before exchanging presents. Christmas Day was spent on the slopes enjoying the spectacular views and (luckily for us) warm sunshine.

Fireworks at Christmas

It’s worth noting that skiing back to Samoëns village isn’t possible, although you can ski to nearby villages and get the excellent ski bus back easily. Otherwise the gondola is the best way down and a pleasant end to the day. There are free nursery lifts for beginners and wonderful mountain restaurants dotted around the pistes. Prices are pleasantly affordable compared to the more high-octane French resorts.

Hotel Neige et Roc

We stayed as a family in two studio apartments at the Hotel Neige et Roc and ate at the wonderful Le Serac in Samoëns and Le Puzze in Morillion … both relatively cheap and serving fantastic Savoyard cuisine. Our ski hire was from Xtreme Glisses and we were very pleased with the service and quality.

For more information on Samoëns click here.

5 Reasons to Cruise the Baltic

Stockholm archipelago
Stockholm archipelago © 2017 Louise Farquhar

I am delighted to be featured today on Helm – the Cruise Cotterill blog. Click over and discover my 5 Reasons to Cruise the Baltic.

Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood
Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood © 2017 Louise Farquhar

Last summer I enjoyed a fabulous 14-day tour of this fantastic region with Celebrity Cruises on the superb Celebrity Eclipse. Read my full review here.

Celebrity Eclipse
Celebrity Eclipse

Review: Celebrity Eclipse

With great excitement, I boarded the much-loved Celebrity Eclipse for a 14-night tour of Scandinavia and the Baltic. This fantastic itinerary stops in Bruges, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Tallinn, St.Petersburg and Warnemunde; the scenic cruise through the Stockholm archipelago being a definite highlight. These destinations are rich in European heritage, contemporary culture and stunning scenery – and with two overnight port stops in Sweden and Russia there is ample opportunity to explore these fascinating places.

Celebrity Eclipse Day One
Day One on the Celebrity Eclipse. Photo ©2017 Louise Farquhar

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