Peter Knego’s latest Sea Treks/Decked! continues aboard Holland America Line’s brand new MV KONINGSDAM with visits to Palermo, Cagliari and Gibraltar as well as a look at some of the ship’s staterooms.
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All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2016.
Friday, April 29, 2016
A sunny morning greeted us in Palermo as KONINGSDAM pivoted into her berth. This would be my fourth or fifth visit to the Sicilian city that was originally founded by the Phoenecians and later ruled by the Romans and Byzantines.
Teatro Massimo, the opera house whose steps are known to many for the “shooting scene” in THE GODFATHER THREE.
Our full day “Taste Of Sicily” Encore Collection tour ($199.00) began with a pass through town and an overview of historic Palermo, which exudes a unique combination of gritty and gorgeous that is somewhat reminiscent of Naples. When given half a chance, Palermo’s beauty trumps its rougher edges.
Although getting a decent photo through a moving coach window was a challenge, we saw many beautiful sights, including the massive Palermo Cathedral, which dates from 1185.
Geraniums of Antica Masseria.
We wound through the foothills to Antica Masseria, an 18th Century country home, where its occupant, the Baroness di Salvo, offered up an afternoon of cooking, Sicilian style.
The Baroness instructs.
As our guide adroitly translated, we learned how to make panelles (fried chickpea flower with fennel), pomodoro sauce and eggplant Parmesan.
Oils sizzled, wine flowed and our “inner cooks” blossomed.
After an hour or two in the kitchen, our creations and a few other local antipasti were served.
Springtime in Sicily.
Post coffee and dessert, we had a short time to wander the grounds and take in the view.
The hillsides above and beyond Palermo were blanketed in an intense yellow and violet patchwork of mustard and sula blossoms.
KONINGSDAM at Palermo.
Back at the port, while trying to get a good shot of the brilliantly lit KONINGSDAM, I ventured into the harbor pilot offices and made a wonderful discovery.
A beautifully detailed model of the twin Cosulich/Italian Line ships, SATURNIA and VULCANIA, beckoned from the dimly lit lobby. What a treasure!
Prow over Palermo.
There would be several more studies from the pier, and then it was all aboard, as KONINGSDAM prepared to depart.
I stood transfixed at my balcony as our massive ship left Sicily in her wake. Another afternoon workout would clear the mind and nudge off a few calories before the next culinary indulgence.
Sel De Mer setting.
I joined our group for dinner in Sel De Mer, the exclusive-to-KONINGSDAM French sea food brasserie that is priced a la carte. Located in a hub of Plaza Deck restaurants that include the Pinnacle Grill and the Culinary Arts Center, it seats 44 guests in a setting dominated by a wall-sized painting of a French street scene.
Crispy Fried Whitebait with olive oil and roasted red pepper aioli.
Some samples from the menu:
Starters: Crab Salad ($13), Crudo of Fresh Fish ($9), Pan Seared Foie Gras ($14)
Entrées: Salt Cruist Baked Branzino ($26), Moules Frites ($16), Maine Lobster ($32)
Accompaniments: Haricots Verts ($2), Wild Rice Pilaf ($2), Pomes Frites ($2)
Plats Du Jour: Tuesday: Poulet Roti ($18), Friday: Pave De Boef ($20), Sunday: Rack Of Lamb ($20)
Apple Tarte Tatin.
Desserts: Apple Tarte Tatin ($4), Chocolate Pot De Creme ($4), Profiteroles ($4)
Artisanal French Cheeses: $7
“One World” on the World Stage.
I finally made it to The World Stage for the production show “One World” but arrived literally on the last few notes of the final number. At least I had a chance to see the 270-degree video screen in action.
Saturday, April 30, 2016
Good Morning, Cagliari!
It was nice to watch from the balcony, once again, as KONINGSDAM pivoted into Cagliari, Sardinia. We spun past the dedicated cruise terminal where the Italian training ship AMERIGO VESPUCCI would soon berth and backed into a more remote quay across from the lipstick-and-eyeliner-bedazzled German cruise ship AIDABELLA.
Grand Dutch Cappuccino.
Once dressed, I jump-started the morning with a cappuccino from the conveniently situated, Atrium-adjacent Grand Dutch Cafe, surprised to find that they do not top it with that enticing sprinkling of cocoa like the baristas at the Explorations Cafe.
Entering Su Nuraxi.
The half day Barumini and Megalithic Sardinia tour ($74.95) ventured inland to the town of Barumini, location of the UNESCO World Heritage-designated archaeological site of Su Nuraxi.
Of beaks and branches.
A cold breeze and gloomy skies portended but didn’t quite deliver rain, although the overall mood was positively Megalithic.
Peering into the cone.
Built by the Nuraghic civilization to defend against the Carthaginians and fortified in 500 BC, the conical stone fortress at Su Nuraxi features corbel-vaulted internal chambers.
MV KONINGSDAM at Cagliari.
MV KONINGSDAM stern view.
Back in port, I had some time to wander the pier area for more shots of the KONINGSDAM.
Sponsons over Sardinia.
In addition to her greater size, towering superstructure and newfangled funnel, the KONINGSDAM can be further distinguished from her Holland America Line fleetmates by her large ducktail sponson, which enhances her hydrodynamics and helps save fuel.
Feeling the Blend.
Later that afternoon, I joined friends in Blend for my first ever wine blending, utilizing five different Chateau San Michelle wines (two Cabernet Sauvignons, two Merlots and a Cabernet Franc). Priced at $129.00, it included a forty five minute lesson and a chance to tap the barrels to make the blend, which can be enjoyed on board or even taken home.
MV KONINGSDAM Pinnacle Grill table setting.
MV KONINGSDAM Totally Random Carpet Shot #8 (Pinnacle Grill).
We regrouped for dinner in the Pacific Northwest-themed Pinnacle Grill, a popular fleetwide HAL eatery. Located on the port side of Plaza Deck overlooking the atrium, the 116-seat venue commands a $10 per person cover for lunch and $29 per person for dinner. The especially handsome space has textured walls and a rich palette of blue and orange.
MV KONINGSDAM Pinnacle Grill king crab legs.
Some Samples From The Pinnacle Grill menu:
Firsts: Tomato Broth With Spicy Lemongrass Chicken, Lobster Bisque, Caesar Salad, Beefsteak Tomato and Basil, Dungeness Crab Cakes, Steak Tartare
Land: Double Cut Kurobuta Pork Chop, Grilled Colorado Lamb Chops, Roasted Jidori Chicken With Porcini Mushrooms, Wild Mushroom Ravioli
Sea: Broiled Alaskan King Salmon, Steamed Alaska King Crab Legs, West Coast Seafood Cioppino, 12 Oz. Maine Lobster Tail ($20 in addition to the regular cover)
Sides: Creamed Spinach, Grilled Asparagus, Classic Whipped Potatoes
Desserts: Not So Classic Baked Alaska, Grand Marnier Chocolate Volcano Cake, Pinnacle Souffle
MV KONINGSDAM President’s Cut.
Several of our group indulged in the President’s Cut 36 oz. bone in ribeye that hails an additional $59.00 surcharge.
The Upbeat Beatles on the World Stage.
Back in the World Stage, the Upbeat Beatles did their best to emulate the Liverpool lads as the KONINGSDAM gently lulled her way across the Gulf Of Lyon.
Sunday, May 1, 2016
MV KONINGSDAM aft promenade at sea.
Sea day! Although I loved the prior days’ excursions, it was so nice to sleep in, not worry about breakfast and catch up on deadlines in the comfort of my stateroom. Of course, I would also take a stroll around the promenade, “conduct” a masterful salad in the Lido Market, indulge in various cappuccini and hurtle through yet another workout before the sun set once more.
MV KONINGSDAM Vista Suite.
A few samples of the ship’s other stateroom categories were opened up, although, unfortunately, the top Pinnacle, Neptune and Signature Suites were sold out and thus not available for inspection. We did get to see the fourth most luxurious category, the Vista Suite, 104 of which, including balcony, measure between 260- and 356-square-feet.
MV KONINGSDAM Vista Suite balcony.
Basically an enhanced and slightly enlarged Verandah Stateroom (like mine — see first post), the Vista Suites have standard balconies (unlike mine).
MV KONINGSDAM Vista Suite WC.
Vista Suites modular WCs are also of the same standard and dimensions as the other lower stateroom categories.
Wheelchair Access Veranda Staterooms
MV KONINGSDAM Wheelchair Access Veranda Stateroom 4107, facing aft.
There are 27 wheelchair access staterooms on the KONINGSDAM in a wide range of categories. Veranda Stateroom 4107 offered quite a bit more floor space than a standard one in the same category.
MV KONINGSDAM Wheelchair Access Stateroom WC.
Wheelchair access staterooms have modified WCs with a wide door, roll-in shower and reconfigured controls.
MV KONINGSDAM Wheelchair Access Stateroom 4107 balcony.
And in the case of 4107, there is an especially large balcony with a ramp over the door sill for easy access.
MV KONINGSDAM Oceanview Stateroom 1062, facing port.
All in all, including four Spa staterooms, there are 98 Ocean-view Staterooms measuring between 175- and 282-square-feet.
Family Ocean-view Staterooms
MV KONINGSDAM Family Ocean-view Stateroom entry/wardrobe.
New to the HAL fleet and thus far exclusive to the KONINGSDAM, 32 Family Ocean-view staterooms measure between 222- and 231-square-feet. Their long entryway boasts extra closet space.
MV KONINGSDAM Family Ocean-view Stateroom 1028, facing port.
The Family Ocean-view Staterooms sleep up to five with a berth over the bed and a convertible sofa.
MV KONINGSDAM Family Ocean-viewStateroom WC with toilet/tub.
MV KONINGSDAM Family Stateroom WC with shower.
Borrowing from Disney, the Family Ocean-view Staterooms have two bathrooms, one with a toilet and tub and the other with a shower.
Single Ocean-view Stateroom
MV KONINGSDAM Single Ocean-view Stateroom 1006, facing port.
MV KONINGSDAM Single Ocean-view Stateroom 1006, facing starboard.
Also new and exclusive to the KONINGSDAM are 12 Single Ocean-view Staterooms that measure between 127- and 172-square-feet.
MV KONINGSDAM Interior Stateroom 1048, facing starboard.
MV KONINGSDAM Interior Stateroom 1048, facing port.
266 economical Interior Staterooms measure between 143- and 225-square-feet.
MV KONINGSDAM The Dining Room, facing aft from Promenade Deck.
There was no better place to end a nice, leisurely day than in Adam Tihany’s spectacular Dining Room, which is probably the most handsome and impressive space in the entire HAL fleet.
MV KONINGSDAM The Dining Room table setting.
Keeping up the HAL tradition, tables are dressed in fine linens, cutlery, stemware and Rosenthal china.
MV KONINGSDAM The Dining Room Pasta Putanesca.
Of course, the menus change each night, but here are a few examples of what types of courses are offered:
Starters, Soups, Salads: Seared Ahi Tuna Carpaccio, Mediterranean Seafood Chowder, Chilled Banana Soup
HAL Signature Starters: French Onion Soup, Classic Caesar Salad
Mains: Spaghetti Puttanesca, Chef’s Salad Bowl, Five Spice Shrimp, Asian Vegetable Noodles, Chickwen Breast With Proscuitto
HAL Signature Mains: Grilled Salmon With Ginger Cilantro Pesto, Broiled New York Strip Loin, Oven Roasted Chicken
Desserts: Warm Chocolate Cake With Blueberry Cream, Coconut Rice Pudding, Apple Tower, Brownie Hot Fudge Sundae
MV KONINGSDAM “Musicology” on the World Stage.
Finally, I made it to the World Stage for the technically impressive “Musicology”, a show with stellar backdrops that pays tribute to all styles of dance through the ages.
Monday, May 2, 2016
There was another chance to sleep in as KONINGSDAM neared Gibraltar. In the late morning, I found the New York Deli and Pizza bathed in sunlight and fresh sea air with the Magrodome fully open.
Pizza Margherita and Insalata Mista at NY Deli and Pizza.
I kept brunch simple with a Pizza Margherita and an Insalata Mista before joining the throngs at the rails.
Approaching The Rock.
The cloud, The Rock and the sea.
Lighthouse of Gib.
Beautifully lit Gibraltar’s unmistakable form evolved as we made our approach.
Abramovich sleeps here.
The world’s second largest private yacht at 533 feet in length, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich’s ECLIPSE, lay off the harbor entrance.
Spinning and thrusting into port.
Despite the high winds, KONINGSDAM seemed to maneuver effortlessly into the harbor where she tied up for the next nine and a half hours.
Stone to Rock at Gib.
With my ship’s internet time completely eaten up, I had to abandon my planned Gibraltar Highlights tour and find a cafe where I could upload a large folder of images. I made the mistake of turning left and going around the rock where there are no cafes, although I did come across a fascinating grave yard.
Eventually, I found a Costa Coffee in the tourist part of town with a decent wifi connection and got my assignment filed just in the nick of time. I worked my way back to the ship, hoping to return to Gib. in the not-too-distant future for a proper, laptop-free exploration.
MV KONINGSDAM Tamarind condiments.
I joined a dear friend for a final dinner in Tamarind, well worth (and then some) its $20 cover.
MV KONINGSDAM Tamarind Thai Curry Chicken.
Although tempted by tempura, I went with the Thai Curry Chicken entree — utterly delish!
MV KONINGSDAM Tamarind Giant Fortune Cookie.
I watched as my elegant dining companion did her best to polish off the Giant Fortune Cookie dessert. From there, it was back to the cabin to figure out how to get all of my belongings back into my overtaxed luggage.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Buenos Dias, Cadiz!
After breakfast, I wandered the upper decks of KONINGSDAM for views of windswept Cadiz. It was my first ever call at the Andalusian port but I would forsake it for Seville.
On The Road To Sevilla…
I wasn’t quite done with the KONINGSDAM. In two weeks, I would be rendezvousing with her again in Rotterdam for her royal christening ceremony, which will be detailed in Part Four…
End of KONINGSDAM, Part Three
Click here for Part Four
Special Thanks: Erik Elvejord, Jerrol Golden, Gene Sloan, Jocelyn Wu
Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea. With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications. Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India. He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
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