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Koningsdam

Background

Koningsdam seen passing Euromast in her homeport Rotterdam, just aftyer departure on the day she was dedicated, the 20th of may 2016.

As one of the most prestigious cruisebrands in the world, Holland America Line had grown considerably after the shippingdivision was taken over by Carnival Cruise Lines in 1989. It was in fact this aquisition that started up the conglomerate that we now know as the Carnival Corporation and the start of the domination of the cruise-industry under that banner. Holland America at the time was a large company already, having taken over Home Lines, Windstar Cruises and the Alaska-based Westours in the late 1980's. And it wasn't only shipping, as through Westours the company also owned several lodges in Alaska as well as a trainroute and several coaches for tours in the Alaskan wilderness. So it was not strange that Carnival kept the Holland America name intact and started to invest heavily in the brand. Nowadays, Holland America Line is the lead company of one of the four groups that make up the Carnival Corporation since 2003. Under its banner, also Princess Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line and P&O Australia are placed and as such, the Holland America Group is the largest group within the Corporation. That said, the ships of Holland America has been getting larger, but still none of them passed the 100.000-ton border. Throughout the early 2000's, the company added the four-ship Vista-class of 82.000 tons, Zuiderdam, Oosterdam, Westerdam and Noordam that were at the time the largest ships ever ordered for the line. Those were followed by the slightly larger alterations Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam in the Signature-class of 86.000-tons and those were introduced in the end of the first decade of the new millennium. So when the company announced the building of the Pinnacle-class a few years later, in was expected that the 100.000-ton mark would be passed. But this wasn't the case as Holland America Line stated that they wouldn't be part of the 100.000+ race. So the first ship ordered in the class was measured at 'just' 200 tons less then that, making her at least the largest ship ever for the line and probably, if the statement is correct, ships will also not become larger within the fleet.

The past and the present combined, the 1959-built Rotterdam and the 2016-built Koningsdam in a battle of the horns. Sadly for the elderly ship, Koningsdam has a little bit louder voice... That said, a scene like this, in the homeport of two ships with such a different background for the same company can only be witnessed in one city in the world.

Construction and general statistics

Koningsdam was ordered in october of 2012 from the Fincantieri Marghera shipyard near Venice, Italy and she was going to be built under yardnumber 6241. With an exact tonnagemeasurement of 99.836, the ship was going to be the largest ship ever ordered for the line and the lead-ship for the so-called Pinnacle-class. Her keel was laid at the 29th of august of 2014, which was in fact the lowering of the first 680-ton block in the drydock. In september of 2014, the company announced the name of the ship officially, a name that had never been used before in the almost 150-years of company history. She was named Koningsdam to honour king Willem-Alexander, who was beginning his reign in 2013 as the first king of The Netherlands since 1890. 'Koning' meaning 'king' in Dutch.  Construction went ahead, untill the ship was able to be floating out of her buildingdock at the 7th of march 2015 and brought over to the fitting-out quay. Also then it was announced that the originally planned deliverydate of february 16th, 2016 was not going to be met and had to be delayed to the 31st of march. At this date, the ship was completed and handed over to the company in an official ceremony at the shipyard. Her sistership Nieuw Statendam is planned to be entering service in early 2019.

Koningsdam leaving Amsterdam as seen from the northern quay. It is her first departure from the Dutch capital, but sadly there were no spraying fireboats, very little greetings with other vessels and drizzling rain. The date is the 22nd of may, 2016.

Of course, the largest ship for the line ever also has the largest number of passengers she can carry within the fleet, namely 3152. Another number given is 2650, but this is based on lower berths only. They can use 14...sorry, 13 decks, as there is no deck 13 due to supersticious reasons. The ship is 299,57 meters long, 38 meters wide and her draught is 8,60 meters. Registered in The Netherlands, the homeport of Koningsdam is the traditional one for Holland America Line, Rotterdam. The servicespeed of the ship is 19 knots and she is propelled by two ABB-designed Azipods of 28 MW each. Her power comes from four 12-cylinder diesel/electric engines from MAK design, as well as two MAK 8-cylinder diesel/electric engines.   

Design 

Holland America hasn't chosen for a revolutionairy design within the new ship, but truly an evolution of the Vista-class and Signature-class. Although larger, the ship is really based on those blueprints and so dating back to the Costa Atlantica of 2000. This, because the blueprint of the Vista-class was originally a variation on the blueprint of the Spirit-class of Carnival and Costa. With the introduction of Koningsdam a stunning 16 years after the Costa Atlantica was introduced, the reason why I cannot see the ship as a revolutionairy new one is clear. That said, of course all evolutions afterwards have been incorporated and Koningsdam is very different from those earlier ships. Especially for Holland America Line, who are really trying to loose the image of being a company only catering for the elderly, classic cruisepassenger. In the two classes before, the company was opening up to a more younger audience too, making the ships more modern in style without loosing the classic touches. 

Koningsdam breaks tradition, as the ship's interiours are no longer designed by the Dutch company VFD, that had been the house-designer of all modern Holland America ships before. For Koningsdam, Holland America Line approached world-renowed architect Adam Tihany. He came up with the idea to use the 'architecture of music' as a central theme for the new ship. For the central atrium, a harp was the influence, and the huge central sculpture is based on the strings and the form of this instrument. For the interiours of the Queen's Lounge, the main ballroom, he took inspiration from the inside of a violin. To be sure, his team placed a miniature camera within a violin and used those images for the design of the two-deck space. The lounge is very much alike the Queens Room's aboard the Cunard siblings Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. It includes their signature wave-shaped balconies and is lighted by snow-flake chandeliers.

Another stunning room aboard, already named the most beautifull room in the fleet, is the two-deck high, asymetrical main diningroom. Also this space is very open in style, inspired by music and with a dramatic, spiral staircase in the center connecting the upper and the lower part of the restaurant. A large beautifully designed wine-tower gives the space a unique centerpiece and the overall decor is very different from the traditional Holland America Line signature, but overall really classy and sophisticated. Besides the main diningroom, the ship also has of course the informal Lido Restaurant, the Italian-style Canaletto's, the Indian Tamarind and the Pinnacle Grill. A new concept within the fleet is the Grand Dutch Café where European beers are served next to traditional Dutch treats. This space has been designed in the style and colours of Delft-blue pottery. Another exclusive to Koningsdam is Sel de Mer, a French-styled 44-guest seafood brasserie. Here, the walls are decorated with French streetscenes. When you like wine, there is a nice venue named Blend. Here, wine-tastings are organised and this space is sponsored by the Chateau St. Michelle from Washington State.

As the inspiration in the ship comes from music and musical instruments, the ship also offers the Music Walk, which is a part of the ship where several musicvenues and lounges are situated. It is the main entertainmentcomplex of the ship, with the 667-seat World Stage as a central focus, where the audience is seated in a half-moon style around the stage. Behind the stage, there is a 270 degrees LED screen where projections are shown that enhance the show. Partially, this can be compared to the 270 Lounge at the Quantum-class ships by Royal Caribbean International. Furthermore, the Music Walk also offers the Lincoln Center Stage, a lounge where more classical music will be performed by artists in co-operation with the New York based Lincoln Center. Also, the classic looking 300-seat Queens Lounge is situated here and in this venue the BB King Blues Club is also situated, a Holland America Line favorite among passengers. Billboard Onboard is the place where mainsteam music will be the main focus.

Koningsdam gets rid of that half moon ship on her very large funnel, giving all the room for the 1938-built Nieuw Amsterdam.

The exteriour of the ship was designed by the Norwegian-based designer Yran & Storbratten, who also designed the fore-runners in the Signature-class, Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam. The ship is decorated with extra decks of balcony-staterooms above the bridge, giving her a slight top-heavy look in the forward section. Already in the Signature-class this was introduced to the HAL fleet, but in Koningsdam is has become far more visible. There is a wraparound promenade deck, a passeners traditional favorite, although a large part of this promenade is not offering seaviews as there is obstruction from safety equipment. Another visible change from the Vista- and Signature-classes is that the ship now again has just one funnel, and a quite large one indeed. On the funnel, the ship has the changed logo, where now just the bow of the 1938-built Nieuw Amsterdam is shown and Henry Hudson's Half Moon has dissappeared. To safe fuel, the ship is also sporting a large ducktail sponson that improves the hydrodynamics of the ship but sets her also apart from her earlier fleetmates.

The largest passengership that has ever sailed under the Dutch flag, Koningsdam shows her lines to the Dutch people for the first time just after her dedicationceremony at the 20th of may 2016.

Carreer

After her delivery, the ship sailed to Dubrovnik in Croatia as a first shakedown introduction-cruise, before taking up speed and heading for Civitavecchia, the port of Rome. Here, she departed for her official maiden voyage in the Mediterranean, departing at the 8th of april 2016. After a few cruises in the Mediterranean, she then sailed via the western European coastline to her homeport Rotterdam, where she arrived at the 19th of may. One day later, the ship was named, or 'dedicated', by HRH Queen Maxima of The Netherlands, of course the wife of King Willem Alexander who was honoured by the name of the ship itself. The ceremony was held aboard the ship, beginning with the blessing of the bell at the ships main pooldeck. Just before the blessing, Holland America Line president Orlando Ashfort revealed the name for the second ship in the class, Nieuw Statendam. By pulling a rope from the ceiling in the World Stage theater, the queen then activated a mechanism to release the bottle of champagne for smashing against the bow. Via de Holland America Line website, a livestream was organized so the ceremony could also been seen outside of the ship, to some dissapointment for the general public, as the namingceremonies of the Oosterdam in 2003 and the Eurodam in 2008 had been held outside and attendable for everyone.

In the evening following the ceremony, the ship sailed from her homeport Rotterdam towards her other homeport Amsterdam, after she had been waved goodbye with a gala fireworks display that was organised at Hoek van Holland. From Amsterdam, the ship will sail summercruises to Norway and the Baltic, largely the same cruises as the Rotterdam sails from Rotterdam. From september onwards, she will head south again to Rome from where she will sail several Mediterranean cruises before making the trip across the Atlantic to Fort Lauderdale for a winterseason of Caribbean cruises. In the summer of 2017, the ship will again be homeported in Amsterdam. Her first cruise from Amsterdam started at the 22nd of may and took her to the Norwegian fjords.

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