What’s NIEUW, Pussycat? Part Four

Wrapping it up with Peter Knego aboard Holland America Line’s “Nieuwest” ship, the 86,273 gt MV NIEUW AMSTERDAM as the seven night cruise from Fort Lauderdale to the Eastern Caribbean continues with a final, activity-filled day at sea.

Holland America Line

“What’s NIEUW, Pussycat?” Part One

“What’s NIEUW, Pussycat?” Part Two

“What’s NIEUW, Pussycat?” Part Three

Keep up to date with MaritimeMatters’ Peter Knego on Twitter by clicking here

Please click on image to see larger version. All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2011 unless otherwise noted.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday mat.

How on earth was it already the penultimate day of the cruise?  There was still so much left to see and “dieuw”…


After our last in-cabin breakfast, we headed down to Reception to meet with Marcel Kiers, the ship’s chief engineer. Marcel had kindly agreed to show us the “behind the scenes” parts of the ship, beginning with the engine control room.

One of MV NIEUW AMSTERDAM's six MAK diesels.

Ear plugs fully inserted, we ventured into the engine room where six massive MaK diesels produce 85,824 BHP to drive twin ABB Azipods at a top cruising speed of 21.9 knots. There are four 12-cylinder V-type and two eight-cylinder in-line engines, all of which are turbocharged, fuel-injected machines with Flexible Camshaft Technology that reduces visible smoke and nitrogen oxide emissions to levels below International Maritime Organization regulations.

The engines are capable of producing 1,000 kilowatts of electricity per cylinder, with a total output of 64 megawatts. Compared to the engines on the Vista-class ships, the MaKs have larger exhaust gas boilers that improve waste-heat recovery in a process that uses exhaust gases to produce steam.

Port stabilizer, MV NIEUW AMSTERDAM.

NIEUW AMSTERDAM is fitted with Fincantieri stabilizers that work automatically when deployed.

MV NIEUW AMSTERDAM water purifying unit.

The ship has an advanced waste water treatment system built by Hamworthy Group of the United Kingdom that is capable of treating both black water (sewage) and gray water (from sinks, showers, laundry and galleys) to near drinking water quality.  The system uses membrane bioreactor technology in conjunction with filtration technology. Following an initial filtering process that removes most solids, the effluent is pumped into a biomass chamber where micro-organisms break down organic solids into water and carbon dioxide. The system can treat more than 900 cubic meters of effluent per day.

The Hamworthy plant exceeds the highest standards in the maritime industry. Those standards, known as Code of Federal Regulations Title 30 Part 133, were set by the U.S. legislature to cover the discharge of treated water in U.S. inland waters Alaska. Federal cruise ship legislation Section 1404 (called the Murkowski regulations after Alaska’s former governor), and the Alaskan State House Bill 260 also apply.

United States Coast Guard (USCG) allows 150 milligrams per liter of solids in treated discharge effluent, and IMO allows 50 milligrams. The Murkowski regulations allow only 30 milligrams, but Hamworthy’s system treats down to 7 milligrams per liter. While USCG regulations for fecal coliform bacteria allow 250 organisms per 100 milliliters of effluent, and IMO allows 200, the federal regulations allow only 20, but Hamworthy treats to three organisms per 100 milliliters.

Crushed cans ready for recycling.

All cans are crushed and compiled in giant stacks to be offloaded upon the ship’s return to Florida for recycling. In addition, glass, white paper, wooden pallets, plastic buckets, cardboard, cooking oil and photographic silver are recycled. Each Holland America ship has a crew staff of five who are responsible for processing, storing, recycling and disposing of the approximately eight tons of garbage generated on board each ship every seven days. As an incentive, proceeds from recycled materials are added to the shipboard crew benefit fund.

The sewage stops here.

Eight main sewage lines feed toilet waste into a large biological treatment plant.

MV NIEUW AMSTERDAM cold storage.

At the beginning of each cruise, the cold storage room is filled to capacity. By the sixth day, most of its contents have already been consumed.

Tamarind maitre'd Panca.

I’ve spent the past two “What’s NIEUW?” blogs professing my love for Tamarind, easily my favorite Asian dining venue at sea and my favorite of the many excellent restaurants on the NIEUW AMSTERDAM. I’m not alone in hoping the Tamarind will spread from NIEUW AMSTERDAM and EURODAM to the other ships in the fleet.

We were the first in line when it opened for Dim Sum Lunch and got a wonderful table for two in the aft port corner with a fantastic view of the sea. Did I mention that lunch is free of charge?

Green tea versus blue sea.

Nothing better than Green Darjeeling tea to get the Dim Sum started. Other tea temptations: Kerala, Assam, Nilgiri, Darjeeling and Ceylon.

Tamarind Dim Sum hot and sour soup.

The first course is a tangy Hot and Sour Soup.

Tamarind Dim Sum salad.

And then there’s an Asian Herb Szechuan Sesame Salad.

Tamarind Dim Sum sauces.

A savory selection of sauces includes: Bora Bora BBQ (tomato, ginger, aged vinegar and soy sauce); Mirin Pesto (sweet wine, soy, fresh basil, garlic, lemon grass); Coco Churri (coconut, cilantro, chili, lime); Shoyu Sabi (soy and wasabi). These accompany either Steamed Classic Dumplings (Chicken, Asian Pork, Spring Vegetable, Shrimp “Shu Mai”) or From the Wok courses (Vegetable Spring Roll, Shrimp Won Ton Sticks, Shrimp Spring Roll or Spicy Crab Rangoon). And all of it is accompanied with Chinese Style Fried Rice.

Dim Sum and then some coconut ice cream for dessert.

For dessert, there is: Mango Sorbet, Coconut Ice Cream (see above), Egg Tart and Green Tea Tiramisu.

The Screening Room, facing forward.

At 2:00 PM, our press group met in the posh, leather-seated Screening Room on starboard Deck 3 for a press conference with veteran captain Edward Van Zaane, cruise director Dan Bernbach and Hotel Manager Marco van Belleghem.

MV NIEUW AMSTERDAM Wheelhouse, facing starboard.

Next stop, the wheelhouse! The good captain and his staff patiently demonstrated much of the equipment as the NIEUW AMSTERDAM plunged onward. Fuzzy dots on the radar screen represented the RUBY PRINCESS (ahead) and ALLURE OF THE SEAS (astern).

Captain Van Zaane on the bridge.

Born in Den Hague, Captain Edward van Zaane first went to sea in 1977 on cargo and research ships, then graduated with honors from Den Helder Maritime Academy. In 1981, he signed on as fourth officer aboard the SS STATENDAM (IV) and was appointed captain of the beloved SS ROTTERDAM (V) in 1994. He introduced the MV AMSTERDAM in 2001 and did the same honors with the NIEUW AMSTERDAM last year. He is married to the striking Dutch actress/model Apollonia van Ravenstein.

Barry Vaudrin interviews cruise director Dan Bernbach.

Fellow cruise journalist Barry Vaudrin was on hand interviewing key personnel for his excellent Cruising Authority website and podcast. 27 year old wunderkind Dan Bernbach, the NIEUW AMSTERDAM’s cruise director provided some background on what it is like to oversee all the entertainment on a state of the art, 86,273 gt, 2,094 passenger ship.

MV NIEUW AMSTERDAM port bridge wing floor.

The Vista and Signature Class ships have Plexiglas deck inserts in their wings that provide a precarious view over the sea. Quel spectacle!

"Code Yellow" returns!

While we were in the bridge, the captain received an update from the ship’s medical team verifying the end of the gastrointestinal outbreak. The ship would revert from a stringent “code red” to its usual “code yellow”.  Our first encounter with the relaxed code was in Explorations Cafe, with the reappearance of sweeteners and sugars, cocoa and cinnamon to accompany the specialty coffees.

Code Yellow in the Lido.

When we stopped by the Lido for a late afternoon snack, it was a whole different place. Flowers, serving utensils and salt and pepper shakers had returned to the table tops.

Pasta choices.

And the food stations were no longer wrapped in a gauze of plastic. Although dinner was only a couple hours away, I had to try the fettuccini with marinara sauce and a dousing of parmesan.  A subsequent workout would help bring back the appetite just in time for our final dinner in the Manhattan.

Rudy's Salad in Manhattan Dining Room.

Master Chef’ Rudi’s Salad was a blossoming garden of delights.  A lovely presentation of baby greens, cucumber, bell pepper and cherry tomatoes drizzled with a mustard Cognac dressing.

Manhattan Dining Room phyllo brie appetizer.

Ahhh! The Golden Baked Brie in Phyllo Dough (warm and creamy Brie coated with toasted hazelnuts and wrapped in crispy phyllo dough, served with a spiced apple-cranberry compote).

Manhattan Dining Room tagliatelle main course.

The day’s pasta binge was not finished until I ordered the Tagliatelle With Roasted Chicken main course. It was less about tagliatelle and chicken and more about being tossed in olive oil and lemon cream with sun-dried tomatoes.

Manhattan Dining Room chocolate dessert.

I was tempted to get the gorgeous chocolate tart and berries but resisted…

Crew farewell in Manhattan Dining Room.

In the interim, the crew paraded Baked Alaska through both levels of the room before gathering in the spiral staircases to sing good bye.  I normally cringe when this happens but tonight, there was no indication of a “we’ve got to do this for a good rating and a tip” undertone. They seemed to be having a genuinely great time.

Manhattan Dining Room sorbet.

Before we adjourned to the show, I settled for a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream. Sometimes, it’s nice to streamline to the basics.

New York night in the Showroom At Sea.

After “Avalon”, there was no way we were going to miss tonight’s “New York” in the Showroom At Sea. The Big Apple-themed show was excellent, if not quite as good as “Avalon”. This particular cast has helped restore some of my faith in shipboard production shows. Kudos to HAL partner Stiletto Entertainment for a job well done!

NIEUW night promenade.

One more walk around that grand teak promenade. NIEUW AMSTERDAM wouldn’t be a proper Holland America ship without it.

Paparazzi images in Piano Bar.

We were due back in our cabins for the grim task of packing our bags but were lured instead to the Piano Bar by a comrade (you know who you are!) for a last drink or two or three. Must say in retrospect, that I’m so happy we went. Anyone who thinks the HAL crowd is too sedate need look no further than the bawdy, fun-loving gathering around “Piano Man” Eric. But I couldn’t take my eyes off the fantastic paparazzi images of startled and/or disgruntled Hollywood icons. Utterly brilliant!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Second Sunday mat.

The last day of any cruise is inevitably painful:  announcements, lines, customs forms, airports, luggage, security, airplanes, etc. Today was no exception but it is always good to leave wanting more — it was virtually impossible to see, eat and enjoy all the NIEUW AMSTERDAM offered in a mere week.

Tai chi on the fantail.

We perpetually missed high tea, never got to a trivia game, never had a proper Lido dinner (or even a Manhattan Dining Room lunch or breakfast), didn’t get to any of the culinary courses, didn’t get to watch a full performance of the Adagio Strings and had no time to take the i-Pod art tour or try tai chi on the fantail with “Lifestylist” Sebbastian.  Well, maybe next time!

Very special thanks: Martin Cox, Rob Di Stefano, Erik Elvejord


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