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Copyright © 1995-2001 
Linda Coffman


Holland America Line -- Amsterdam III
An Overnight Preview
October 18-19, 2000

 By Linda Coffman

The 15-minute airport to cruise terminal drive seemed like an eternity until we rounded the final corner and a dark hull with twin stacks rose solid and reassuring before us.  Joining her sister ship Rotterdam VI as the newest flagship in the Holland America Line, Amsterdam III greeted us on a brisk, foggy Boston morning.  Scores of Holland America Line personnel were on hand to assist tour and overnight guests for this, her first port visit.  

After stowing our bags, we were about to have a snack from one of the numerous buffet tables when a smiling gentleman asked wouldn't we rather have lunch on board?  Naturally!  We made our way to the La Fontaine Dining Room with its cheery stained glass ceiling of abstract flowers in shades of blue, green, gold, red, orange, and sunny yellow that reflect the colors found throughout the room.  Descending the staircase with its finely carved brass railings, we felt like Scarlett O'Hara arriving at a ball.  The raised platform in the room's center meant our view of the bustling harbor was unobstructed.  Bus stations scattered unobtrusively throughout create intimate spaces and enable servers to be just steps away.  The special luncheon of seared lobster and scallop medallions with smoked salmon tartar, tomato and basil confit, followed by a duo of beef and veal medallion or potato and sesame crusted king salmon, was a delight.  I topped my luncheon off with a rich dark chocolate flourless cake for dessert and a frothy cappuccino.  We lingered for a few extra moments in the buttery soft and supremely comfortable leather chairs.

Then it was "all visitors ashore" and we joined the throng to the gangway to begin our official embarkation.  Efficiency prevailed and our number was called moments after retrieving our bags.  Room key in hand, we again made our way aboard to the accompaniment of the Rosario Strings and many smiles.  Up a deck and through the oval Atrium, we caught sight of the lowest level of the incredible Astrolabe clock and just a few of the beautifully designed flower arrangements for which Holland America ships are noted.  With the assistance of our cabin steward we found 3370, a large standard outside cabin mid-ship on Lower Promenade Deck.  Dark blue carpet with peach accents picks up the soft peachy tones of the spreads and curtains and the creamy soft leather loveseat.  An adjustable height table, hassock, and vanity/desk and chair round out the furnishings.  We made ourselves at home and quickly unpacked.  Three huge drawers in the vanity/desk and two smaller ones in each of the two nightstands, along with four closets configured for hanging and/or drop down shelves offer ample storage for extended cruises.  A bath with full tub rounded out our quarters.  Only slightly smaller, inside cabins are similar in design.

Starting our explorations on the Lido Deck, we found the full service salon and gymnasium where ocean views offer a distraction for all but the most confirmed fitness buffs.  Under the sliding dome roof of the central swimming pool, the pool bar, surrounded by rattan chairs and market umbrellas was a bright haven even on a dreary New England afternoon.  Between twin whirlpools and the dark tiled swimming pool life size bronzes of two brown bears appear to be fishing in a cool Alaska stream.  Further aft, the Lido Restaurant features extensive buffets for casual breakfast, lunch, and dinner and is conveniently adjacent to both the covered swimming pool as well as the second pool further aft.  One deck up are the Sky Room children's center, practice tennis courts, and more open areas for sunning on the Sports Deck.

Suite occupants of Navigation Deck are sure to enjoy their sumptuous quarters and private Neptune Lounge, with personal concierge service.  Two penthouse suites are the ultimate in luxury with separate living room, dining room, and bedroom areas. A verandah, generous walk-in closets, bathroom highlighted with whirlpool tub, separate guest powder room, and a butler's pantry round out a perfect home at sea.  Offering many of the same amenities, full suites feature large verandahs,  whirlpool tubs, dressing room, and generous sitting areas.  Verandah Deck mini-suites provide some of the conveniences of the full suites, including a whirlpool tub, refrigerator, and VCR.  This is world class cruising in style.

Upper Promenade and Promenade Decks are the heart of Amsterdam's indoor activity.  Rich, jewel-tones and soft lighting define Amsterdam's lounges.  On Upper Promenade Deck, Holland America regulars will find hors d'oeuvres before dinner and a wide variety of after dinner entertainments available in the traditional array of Ocean Bar, Explorer's Lounge, and piano bar.  A bevy of classical female statues hold glass bowl lighting fixtures aloft on each side of the two deck Queen's Lounge.  The artful design of this show room assures excellent sightlines from both the main floor and balcony.  Rounding out Upper Promenade Deck's public rooms are the casino, library, meeting rooms, shopping arcade, sports bar, and Seaview Lounge.

In addition to the Wajang Theatre, a video arcade, art gallery, front desk, and shore excursion desk, Promenade Deck features the Java Cafe for specialty coffees and an adjacent Internet cafe managed by Digital Seas.  Down a passageway and through etched glass doors, the Odyssey Dining Room is Amsterdam's intimate specialty restaurant where Italian cuisine is served in a rich European setting.  Set off by flower arrangements, realistic landscapes with surreal touches by Bas Sebus accent the dining alcoves.

One night was simply not enough time to absorb the Amsterdam's impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, and artifacts.  Richly appealing to the senses, the Astrolabe is a finely detailed sculpture as well as timepiece displaying a world clock, planetary clock, and astrological clock on its four faces.  The carillon in its base is a delicate melodic contrast to the intricate mechanism visible through the glass.  The centerpiece of the three deck atrium, it dominates without overpowering the space.  

The heritage and tradition of the Amsterdam and earlier Holland America Line ships is showcased in the work of noted maritime artist Stephen Card.  We followed his paintings to the landing outside the Crow's Nest where the "Four Seasons" are displayed.  These delicate Art Deco art pieces originally graced the Nieuw Amsterdam of 1938.  Once inside, an unexpected whimsical birdcage tucked into a corner drew our attention to the tiny dragon encased inside.  From this vantage point with its banks of floor to ceiling windows, we watched Boston slip away as we headed to sea for our short cruise to nowhere and the evening ahead of us.

To begin our leisurely dinner in the main dining room, I chose New England and Boston favorites--crab cakes and clam chowder.   Tasty seasoned drawn butter accompanied my lobster entree, which was followed by sinfully rich desserts and coffee.  Later, I wished I'd left room for the dessert extravaganza in the Lido Restaurant.  

Choices for after dinner entertainment varied from the energetic song-and-dance "Romance on Broadway" show in the Queen's Lounge to the soothing sounds of the Rosario Strings in the Explorers Lounge and late-night comedy in the Ocean Bar.  Disco favorites drew a crowd to the popular Crow's Nest.  Well past time when we should have been dreaming, we joined the late night party crowd dancing to "YMCA" before retiring to the soothing motion of our vessel at sea.  (Photo-Crow's Nest)

Up in the morning, sunshine beckoned a stroll on the teak promenade deck between breakfast and disembarkation.  It wasn't easy to leave the padded deck chairs behind.  Our short introduction left us wanting more... the quiet elegance, attentive service, and inviting cabins were altogether too enticing.  As diverse as the Dutch city for which she was named, Amsterdam blends the very latest in shipbuilding technology with the artistry and small touches that set Holland America ships apart.  While the concept of two flagships may take a bit of getting used to, it's readily apparent that Amsterdam is worthy of the designation as she joins Rotterdam to cruise the oceans of the world.

I would like to extend a special thank you to Holland America Line for making this preview possible.

Copyright © 2000 Linda Coffman
Photos--Holland America Line & Linda Coffman