[ON LOCATION] LAUREL HERMAN
Our Legends of the Fjords sailing on board Holland America Line’s Pinnacle-class Nieuw Statendam, departing from Amsterdam with stops in Norway and Denmark, was an unforgettable experience infused with the beauty and charm of Scandinavia and topped off with the ship’s home-away-from-home comfort and top-notch service. Add in the wide variety of culinary, entertainment and wellness experiences offered on the easy-to-get-around mid-sized ship, and planners, you have a great brand to offer groups in the premium category.
Says Rob Coleman, v.p., North America sales for Holland America Line, “Nieuw Statendam is a perfectly mid-sized ship that offers the finest dining, live music and service at sea and is able to explore the lesser-visited ports in the region as well as the larger cities due to its size. Additionally, groups who explore Northern Europe and Scandinavia on Nieuw Statendam and sister-ship Rotterdam, will experience ships that offer an abundance of amenities, ample deck space for scenic viewing and 21st-century elegance.” Don’t need a full charter? Coleman says Holland America Line “gladly accepts groups that do not exceed 50 percent of the ship’s occupancy. As such, a planner could book 667 staterooms or 1,334 people.”
Sailing along this unique Scandinavian coastline took us to innumerable show-stopping landscapes. Attendees will have the opportunity to visit charming villages such as Eidfjord, an arm of the majestic Hardanger Fjord, which we sailed along. There are also stops in the small towns of Molde, Alesund, Flam and Stavanger, where we opted for hiking excursions and had the opportunity to check out one-of-a-kind sights such as Pulpit Rock as well as ride the scenic Flam Railway. We also took in the beauty of the Sognefjord, and midway through this itinerary there’s a stop in bustling Bergen. The sailing continued southbound with the final port of call in Copenhagen, buzzing with culture. In addition to accessing less-visited ports with stunning scenery, the ship offers a wide range of onboard activities. Take its entertainment offerings, which, for music lovers, is a dream. We spent many evenings at the multi-venue Music Walk on the Promenade deck, home to B.B. King’s Blues Club, the Rolling Stone Rock Room and Billboard Onboard. Here, groups can listen and dance to everything from pop to R&B as they sip on their choice of an array of cocktails, beer or wine pre and post dinner.
Over at the 2-level (decks two and three) World Stage is where we sat in on lectures, watched films and just about every night enjoyed quality entertainment. World Stage, which accommodates 714 attendees and can be reserved for presentations during the day, offers state-of-the-art projection with 270-degree wraparound LED screens.
The ship also has ample teambuilding opportunities, including pickleball tournaments and team trivia challenges plus introduction to whiskey tastings and wine making and dance classes
Nieuw Statendam offers six specialty restaurants as well as the elegant Dining Room and casual choices such as the Lido Market, Dive-In, with Nathan’s Famous hot dogs on the menu, and the New York Pizza eatery. There’s also the Club Orange private dining venue for members or guests of Neptune and Pinnacle suites, not to mention the Grand Dutch Cafe and Explorations Cafe, where passengers can pick up their custom coffee and a sweet treat (24-hour room service is also available).
Of note is that Holland America Line’s dining experiences are guided by its Culinary Council. Made up of renowned chefs such as David Burke, Andy Matsuda, Ethan Stowell and Rudi Sodamin, the council provides its expertise on menu creation, including signature dishes.
In The Dining Room, groups can take advantage of the daily “Port to Table” recommendations boxed out on the menu. In the Pan-Asian restaurant Tamarind, we were delighted by the lobster & shrimp pot stickers and crispy duck with ginger-chili glaze. Another recommended culinary experience is Nami Sushi. Located within Tamarind, this Japanese specialty eatery offers an array of delicacies such as spicy edamame & tuna poke as a starter and Andy Matsuda signature sushi rolls. For Italian cuisine, Canaletto offers a must-try rustic lasagna.
The Lido Market, open to all passengers for breakfast, lunch and dinner, might be casual dining, but the food is fantastic and varied with a dinner menu that changes nightly. Here, passengers can choose from a host of global cuisines ranging from Indonesian to Italian. We sampled everything from pork chops and a goat cheese tart to a New York strip steak, a teriyaki salmon dish, fried chicken and rosemary roasted chicken. If anyone in your group has dietary restrictions, know that both The Dining Room and Lido Market offer vegetarian options as well as sugar- and gluten-free desserts. Planners note: Tamarind accommodates 110 guests and can be fully booked for a large group—add the Nami Sushi area and that’s 26 more spots. Groups can also buy out Rudi’s Sel de Mer, which seats 54 guests, and Pinnacle Grill, which seats 118. Also, while not enclosed, but a private section of the Lido Market, Canaletto can seat 82.
The ship’s largest stateroom category is the outside Verandah, which we were booked into during our sailing. With plenty of room for two persons, staterooms in this category—there are 748 in all ranging from 228 to 405 sf—feature a minibar, safe, desk/dressing table with lit mirror, outlets and lighting throughout, a seating area, a very comfortable bed and a flat-screen TV with a hefty film and music menu. Bathroom amenities are spot-on with Elemis products, and the verandah, which comes complete with two chairs/footstools, is the perfect spot to view the natural beauty of the fjords and the scenic landscapes in the ports-of-call.
The multipurpose Explorations Central observation lounge in the Crow’s Nest, located on deck 12 forward, offers large picture windows, games and a bar that serves both cocktails and coffee. This is also the venue where attendees can hear about the passing scenery, including those impressive fjords, and where they can ask questions about the wide array of shore excursions offered at each port. This venue can accommodate 147 people for a private function.
Another must-do is experiencing the Greenhouse Spa. Service choices are extensive and having at least one treatment is highly recommended. Additionally, there’s a full gym with state-of-the-art equipment and fitness classes, from organized walks to stretching, offered at no extra charge.
Another space for group gatherings is the Lido Deck Pool area (covered pool), which accommodates 196 people, as well as the Lido Aft Deck that can accommodate 278. Says Coleman, “We can work with groups for these spaces depending on the day and timing.” Another wonderful area for private group events is The Retreat, which can be reserved in the evening for an outdoor gathering. For smaller groups, the ship has meeting rooms such as Stuyvesant (30), Hudson (46) and Half Moon (30), with the latter two combinable.
Coleman tells planners that Northern Europe is not only an incredible area for incentive groups looking for a unique location that offers stunning scenery and active shore excursions but also easy roundtrip air (to/from Amsterdam with ship departures from Amsterdam and Rotterdam).
“Holland America makes booking an incentive group a seamless experience,” says Coleman, “with special programs for groups that allow attendees a worry-free and all- or mostly all-inclusive experience. We offer Reward it All, which includes all the benefits of Have it All plus a group cocktail event. Have it All includes our most popular amenities, with quantity depending on length of voyage. For a 7-day cruise, one shore excursion credit of $100, one specialty dining, a Signature Beverage Package and complimentary WiFi. We also have a dedicated team that works with groups from start to finish.”
From April 2024 to September 2024, Nieuw Statendam will offer 11 departures (mostly seven to 14 days) to Northern Europe. From May to October 2024, sister ship Rotterdam will be sailing 7- to 14-day itineraries on 17 departures. In 2025, the Rotterdam will have 18 7-day itineraries while the Nieuw Statendam will be offering 14-day+ itineraries.