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Wednesday, November 9, 2016   Related topics:

It bears repeating that there is nothing more exciting to a travel journalist than to experience a brand new ship. And, while Koningsdam may not techically be "brand new", she did just arrive this morning from a transatlantic sailing and is making her maiden call in Port Everglades. Koningsdam is 99,000 tons and can carry 2,650 guests.

Our flight on American from DFW to Fort Lauderdale was uneventful, and on time. Quite an accomplishment for American Airlines! Once we arrived at baggage claim, we were greeted by Holland America ground transportation personnel who arranged for us to board a coach for the transfer to the ship.

Holland America Ground Transfer Station

One of the best things about sailing out of Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) is that the port is only five minutes from the airport. We arrived alongside the cruise terminal at about 3:30pm, the last group to board the ship.

The line at the cruise terminal was fairly short so we were checked in and on our way to the ship in less than 15 minutes. We boarded on Deck 3 Starboard and quickly found an elevator to take us to our Veranda Stateroom (8054). As you would expect, the stateroom looks fresh and new. The Veranda Stateroom is a cozy XXX sq. ft., but has a lot of unique design features that elevate the decor. The crown moulding was one of the first details I noticed. Our beds were arranged in a twin bed configuration, but could be easily combined to make a queen-sized bed if desired. Check our final review for more detailed information on the stateroom.

Twin Bed Configuration

This evening, we were invited to a cocktail party for a group of fellow journalists. It is always fun to catch up on all the industry gossip. The event was held in the Crow's Nest on Deck 12, a great venue for a private event such as this. The Crow's Nest overlooks the ship's bow and offers guests an excellent view of the ocean ahead. Holland America has reserved 1/2 of the Crow's Nest for this private party, a service that the cruise line offers to large groups traveling together. Waiters circulated with trays of colorful cocktails and appetizers, all of which were delicious.

At 8:30 we were all invited to the Culinary Arts Center for dinner. We were familiar with the Culinary Arts Center from our sailings on Nieuw Amsterdam. However, when we arrived, we could immediately see that this venue has taken on a whole new design. On Nieuw Amsterdam, the Center is basically a showroom with a kitchen set up for cooking demonstrations. On Koningsdam, however, it is a full-blown restaurant presented by Food & Wine Magazine.

Culinary Arts Center by Food & Wine Magazine

We were able to watch the team of chefs work in the kitchen to prepare an amazing five-course meal. The food was as beautiful to look at as it was delicious to eat.

Herb Crusted Beef Bavette

There are two set menus than change throughout each cruise. Our menu started with a delicious Roasted Heritage Carrot Soup followed by an amazing Broccoli and Baked Ricotta Salad. Diners were offered a choice of three main courses. Mine was the Herb Crusted Beef Bavette and Rickee had the Pumpkin Rocotta Parcels. My beef was a piece of fork-tender, medium-rare tenderloin served atop a delicious mushroom puree. Rickee's turned out to be pumpkin and Ricotta filled raviolis drizzled with olive oil and balsamic pearls. It was one of the best pasta dishes I have ever tasted.

Pumpkin Ricotta Parcels

Dinner at The Culinary Arts Center is $39 per person, includes wine, and is one of the most unique dining experiences you will find on any ship. Highly recommended.

Tomorrow, the ship will dock in Nassau, Bahamas.

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