Koningsdam Cruise Review by hkaya
- Sail Date: January 2019
- Destination: Southern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Verandah Stateroom
Check in was fine, the lines moved fairly quickly. We brought in a case of water which was fine and compliant to their policy if you carry it in.
Cabin space was fairly generous. The deck outside was a fair size as well. Cabins were clean, bed was nice, the washroom was a little tight on space however due to the diagonal positioning of the toilet. Definitely easier with 1 person in the washroom at a time. Our cabin stewards were great, very friendly and accommodating.
Dining, well I had written a big blurb on dining on and off the ship, but I didn't write the last few days because I was too busy enjoying the cruise with my wife. I think in the future I'm just going to buy a go pro and video review all the meals instead of writing and taking photos.
During the Cruise I had submitted a portion of my review of the meals on the Koningsdam writing the review while I waited for shows to start and other events and activities to start. I didn't mean to cause a lot of trouble with my review and tried to be as truthful and objective as possible. However, after my submission of the review I received a small letter from the foods and restaurants Manager, and he as well as the Executive Chef met with me to talk to me about my experiences. They really took care to make sure my dining experience on the Koningsdam was as good as possible within their policies and procedures and ingredients and I was thoroughly impressed by the attention paid by all levels of the staff from wait staff, to cooking, and management.
Below is the portion of my review on the dining pretty much unaltered from what I had submitted to HAL during the cruise, keep in mind we probably have different tastes in food as to level of seasoning and what flavors are expected but I tried to be as objective as possible so the reviews would actually be useful to someone out there. It's also a little difficult to read because I typed this all up on my phone while waiting:
Lunch random cooked food from Lido, roasted pork leg, fried fish, were pretty tasty, berries black and raspberry were very good and fresh. I'm impressed at the sourcing of their ingredients, produce tasted very fresh.
Dinner at Pinnacle grill, steak was not cooked to order, ordered medium, got well done on one side, medium rare on the other. Lobster bisque was excellent, I believe same one as the one in de librije(later found out that it's not the same and that the lobster bisque in pinnacle was more to my taste than the one offered by de librije). Baked Alaska wasn't very good, Amuse bouche of mushroom cappuccino with truffle foam was fairly good. Aside from the overall mediocre food and terrible execution, our waiter was absent for the entire service only to come back to walk the wrong desserts to us (this waiter wanted to apologize for the service so he served us during our de librije reservation and that service was very good!). We were a 7:30 table. It wasn't even busy that night far less than half the tables were filled and they still made all those mistakes. I wouldn't recommend Pinnacle grill to anyone except for the bisque but it's hard to justify paying the fixed fee just for the bisque.
Breakfast new York deli, breakfast bagel sandwich on toasted sesame seed bagel. Excellent.
Dinner, gala night, iberico ham was not bad, the combinations of the ham sauce and greens worked. Salad very overwhelming strength of sherry vinegrette, fruits helped balance the acidity funnily enough, seeds were there but earthiness was overwhelmed by the sherry.
Mushroom truffle risotto fell flat. No truffle fragrance or flavor. Mushroom flavor of the risotto was underwhelming. Risotto was a little undercooked.
Dessert no sugar black Forest cake was inedible. This is mostly my fault as I assumed no sugar meant it would be a predominantly bitter chocolate dessert which would've been interesting, instead I believe they used Splenda or another artificial sweetener. Aside from the terrible taste of that, the cake was drenched and syrup logged, Cherry flavor was pretty nonexistent.
Pizza from New York deli was not very good unfortunately. Asked for Margherita, cheese used was the wrong cheese completely changing the flavor profile of the pizza. Expected a napolitan style pizza dough, or a modified version like Joe's pizza from New York as it's called New York deli, got neither. Pan pizza like dough without the grease.
Breakfast in main dining room, good Swedish muesli, Texan French toast, never had this style before but I thought the other flavor profiles should be emphasized more to differentiate against normal French toast. The cinnamon didn't come through very well. Hash browns weren't proper, pre packaged.
Lunch dive in burger, great except they forgot all the components other than the patty, and sauces. Went back, asked for them on a seperate plate and assembled myself. Beef used for the burger is good and flavorful. Overall burger is a good burger. Skinny fries were normal.
Chocolate cupcake and raspberry cream puff were neither good not memorable.
Afternoon tea, raisin scone and fruit tart. Both were ok.
Dinner at MDR. Starter seafood deviled eggs. Tasted like normal deviled eggs. Nothing too special but not bad. Caribbean jerked chicken. Jerk was non existent. Tasted a little like the flavor profile of Vietnamese cooked pork. Rice was overly salted, broccoli was inedible, too salty. Probably soaked in brine for too long. Dessert mango cream cone, cream flavored well, fruits cut the richness but could've used fruits piped into the cream cone. Sugar crust did not add anything to the dessert. Was unnecessary calories from sugar without adding anything to flavor.
Omelette from the omelette station with pico de Gallo was tasty topped with salsa.
Lunch I had on a non HAL excursion. It was passable. Not too memorable.
Dinner at Canaletto
Amuse bouche of pumpkin and tomato crostini, pumpkin one was very well balanced, good bite, neither were soggy.
Appetizer of Zucchini and saffron risotto. Much better than the mushroom one in the MDR on gala night in terms of both flavor and doneness. Appetizer of bufala mozzarella salad was alright. Zuppa Di pesce was heavy in seafood flavor, very appropriate but too strong for my taste ordered by my wife.
Pasta course of gnocchi with braised beef short rib was excellent, doneness was good, red wine reduction sauce was well balanced by the cream. Beef was flavorful and tender.
Main course of chicken cacciatore Al forno was executed. Chicken meat was tender and falling off bone, sauce was appropriate though not too complex, polenta was flavorful and combined nicely with the sauce.
Dessert appears to be not the specialty of dining on Holland America. Tiramisu was pretty terrible. Overly drenched ladyfingers, mascarpone what seems to have been a mousse, cocoa powder didn't come though.
Pistachio ice cream from the gelato bar outside.
Overall much better food quality, cooking execution, and much better service than Pinnacle grill. You are getting value here for I believe 15/person.
Lunch at dive in and grand Dutch.
Got a bunless gainer with cheese and a side of guacamole. Delicious like last time. Got a ham and honey mustard sandwich from Grand Dutch, great flavors, bun was crisp and fresh. Apple pie pastry however was soggy, though apples in the pie were good.
Snack at cafe next to library in crow's nest. Strawberry tarts were good. Non soggy, slightly acidic strawberries cut the slight richness of the cream. I wish I had discovered these sooner and not halfway through the cruise as they only appear to come out once a day at a specific time.
Brownie was average.
Dinner at sel de mer. Trio of seafood salad. I like my salads with a little acidity. All three salads lacked acidity tuna needed some Lemon which I had asked for to bring out the flavor. King crab was passable as is. Crab itself was nice and fresh. Shrimp salad was far too heavy. Perhaps it was meant to be eaten together and combined but I had no instructions to do so. Crudo was good, fish was very fresh. Main of the salt crusted branzino was delicious, I had expected them to break the salt crust tableside however it was broken and already served in portions. Service was excellent overall. Dessert was tarte tatin. Good balance of the bitterness from caramel. I was afraid it would be overly sweet but it wasn't. Flavors combined well together with that slight hint of cinnamon from the gelato, textures was a little more difficult as puff pastry absorbs the moisture easily. Overall it was a good dessert, first decent dessert I've had on koningsdam. Overall, sel de mer was a great experience with great food and service. Our meal came to the same price as Pinnacle grill with our 2 sides. I would recommend Sel de Mer over Pinnacle Grill.
Breakfast at New York deli, ordered the breakfast bagel with tomato on sesame. Had that with a fruit cup, blackberries were over ripe but they're back. Watched a documentary before about the ripening of fruit on cruises so it's understandable if they mistimed them or maybe pulled the wrong ones in store. raspberries are still great.
Had lunch at dive in again with the gainer again bunless with cheese, and 2 sides of guacamole, quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Good as usual. Fries were a little hard and over fried. Since they are crunchier than the fries in the new York deli, Lido and Pinnacle, I think the dive in fries are double fried.. maybe triple fried?
Dinner was at the tamarind. the amuse bouche was house made giant prawn crackers with dips. That's definitely a step up from the cheap dried wasabi peas we got from our experience in Celebrity Equinox Asian specialty dining. Appetizer course was a fig tempura with an arugula salad. The dish was very well balanced. Never tried this flavor combination before but it was surprisingly very good. Mild subtle sweetness of the fig brought out further by the tempura fry. Together with light dressing of the Apple vinegar and the peppery arugula it was balanced extremely well. The main course of the crispy duck with the ginger chili glaze was a hit and a miss. The duck was fried to achieve the crispiness. The fry is very similar in flavor to the fry of the Chinese fried chicken and was fried well. (coincidentally that's traditionally served with prawn crackers/chips which we had as a amuse bouche) however the miss was the bed of udon "drunken" on what seemed to be teriyaki sauce and boy was it drunk. I found what I think to be the teriyaki sauce overpowered the savory elements on the dish. Adding on sweetness to balance the dish is fine, however I found that this dish went overboard in that direction. I guess they want to balance the strong savory flavors of the crispy duck and not make it too one dimensional in flavor profile but this combination did not work for me, the sprouts also didn't work for me. Dessert was the yuzu cheesecake and the matcha cake. The yuzu cheesecake was a deconstructed cheesecake with its cheese component as a yuzu cream cheese filling inside a white chocolate holder. It's cake component was crumbled across the dessert. All in all it worked well for me with the yuzu flavor coming through cleanly in the cream cheese filling. The matcha cake was delicious as a chocolate cake. I didn't taste any matcha in the cake component which made 2/3 of the dessert. Instead it tasted like a normal egg based cake with texture similar to cornbread due to use of the almond flour. It was a very good cake. I think I've stated this before but if I haven't, the chocolate used or made by Holland America koningsdam kitchens are quite good.
At this point I was contacted by Holland America on how my dining experience was so far and I relayed to them that overall it was a great dining experience.
Breakfast at main dining room
Was the pan Asia breakfast with the pan fried salmon Jasmine rice and miso soup. Salmon was fine. The problems were with the rice and the miso soup. The rice was cooked with oil of some sort to make it salty and more fragrant. I don't know about the other Asian cultures but for rice for breakfast in Japan and China, you don't add oil to flavor the rice. The rice is meant to be like a plain piece of bread and the entire meal is meant to be a relatively clean tasting meal. The main issue with the soup is the use of Nori for the miso soup instead of wakame. I'm actually surprised they used Nori instead. Wakame is not expensive and it's shelf life is extremely long.
Lunch was at Grand Dutch cafe. I had the beenham sandwich again the pea soup and the quiche. The quiche was very flaky and the filling was not heavy. A proper quiche compared to the one served at Lido. Portion for the quiche is quite large though.
We had Dinner off ship at Fort Nassau. Location is definitely one of a kind. Great view and atmosphere. Amuse bouche of a beef salad was not too great. Appetizers of pumpkin ravioli with truffle sauce was very light and good. I think the bacon is meant to season to the degree of saltiness each person likes. Adding bacon to the bite completely changes the flavor of the dish. Eats great both with and without. Also had the shrimp and sweet potato chowder. The soup was great. Fried bacon bits gave that pop in your mouth whenever you had a spoonful with them in it. Again adding the Cajun popcorn into the bite completely changes the flavor of the dish. To something close to a jambalaya. Very interesting appetizers. Had a bite of the tasting menu appetizers. The particularly good one to note of the 3 was the grilled lobster salad. Good combination of flavors. The main of the tame duck breast and liver was very good. It was served with a side of green plantain and ginger mash and topped with a plantain chip. The sauce of the curacao liqueur reduction was drizzled onto the well seared duck breast for a good balance of sweet and savory and topped with some slightly dehydrated cranberries. The main was also served with a second side of a very appetizing sweet and sour mango and cucumber salad. Between the seared breasts and the salad was a single side seared and caramelized duck liver. It was very good and tasted very fresh, if you enjoy foie gras you should enjoy this duck liver as well. All in all a very impressive dish. Overall experience was great. Aside from service which seemed like typical bar or pub type service, in my opinion this restaurant executes food on the level of lower level Michelin star restaurants.
Breakfast at the new York deli, breakfast bagel with tomato was fine.
Lunch at Grand Dutch cafe I had the ham and Edam cheese sandwich. The Edam cheese is toasted on the top piece of bread on the sandwich on the outside and also between the ham and bottom piece of bread of the sandwich. Sandwich tasted good. Salad that accompanied it was a little over dressed.
Dinner at Pinnacle grill converted into de librije. 5 course meal with an amuse bouche. Amuse bouche was alright, I think it's size was a little large for an amuse bouche the Golden egg was the main culprit there.
Unfortunately this is where i stopped writing the review about 5 months ago and though I have pictures I can't recall exactly what I thought of each dish nor remember what they were called so unfortunately 2 of the next 3 restaurants (including this one) were good and I can only provide general descriptions. North Sea Scallop.
The best course from de librije was the fish course I believe it was bass, they had accentuated by crisping the skin the texture and adding something along the skin I think it was celery or something. Taste and texture of the dish was impeccable. The other dishes presentations were great but the balance and complexity of the taste and texture was not at the same level. For example the scallops and the oysters (made of foie gras) on the beach. As previously mentioned I didn't enjoy the bisque as much as the one offered by pinnacle grill. The deconstructed I think apple pie was ok a little too scattered across the plate. The gin and tonic dessert I didn't enjoy, but then I don't drink gin and tonic so this may have been lost on me.
Club Orange Kitchen:
This replaced the area that was used for America's test kitchen. I'm sure you've read all about it by now, it's a premium service you could pay for to get many different perks including the privilege of eating at this restaurant. This restaurant has a dedicated head chef that will prepare your meal, the menu is almost essentially the same as the MDR menu except I think there are 2 items that are added on additionally. The food and restaurant manager decided to let me try it if I wanted to as I believe a way to make amends for the less than ideal pinnacle grill experience and other potentially negative experiences I had during the cruise related to the dining.
Before I went on the cruise I thought paying the extra fee wouldn't be worth it but the execution of the head chef for every single course we had in the restaurant. I was thoroughly impressed by the execution of the dishes, and guess I had underestimated the effect of putting a head chef in a small space restaurant. The meal felt personal, the head chef came to greet us after the dinner, and if you go at certain times there are not that many people in there in our sailing anyways (only 2 other tables) so it's almost as if you had a highly skilled personal chef. I'm unsure if we had a special experience because the lack of seated tables in the restaurants but I believe this club orange kitchen is underrated and it's a shame more people can't try it out.
The last day we had dinner at nami sushi. It was a joke. If you are used to eating authentic japanese food this place is not for you. Be warned. though I dislike wasting food I didn't finish half the food I ordered because it was so off, and I don't think there's anything they could've done to rectify the situation because it just wasn't authentic Japanese food. what you expect when you order and what you get are different.
In summary for dining I would rate fee dining restaurants in the following order:
1. Sel de Mer - good plates and some high plates, one average plate - a la carte but worked to be same as pinnacle grill
2. Club Orange Restaurant - good plates all around
2. Tamarind - above average plates and some high plates
4. De Librije - few high plates mainly average plates
5. Canaletto - average plates
6. Pinnacle Grill - 1 high plate mostly low plates
7. Nami Sushi - all low plates
Activities and entertainment:
In general Koningsdam has about the same type of activities other mega ships have. However it's scheduled I think in a way that 2 or 3 run at the same time, so if you have similar interests as others, you will be bumping to others a lot, and this in my opinion creates the feel of a smaller ship where you know most of the people on the ship.
I enjoyed the show on pirates, and pirate history, that was quite interesting.
The headliners for entertainment on the mainstage were very amusing for the most part. the shows the comedians put on in particular resonated i believe with people of all ages on the ship.
I didn't try out the music shows very much as I'm not an avid lover of contemporary rock and pop music, I listened to some performances from the string quartet they had, and most of the performances were medleys. Some of them would have pop music mixed in. Would've preferred to listen to full pieces.
All in all there was plenty for me to do, and I was not bored.
There was a lot of space in public areas however I found myself frequenting the crows nest the most. I liked how they had a little library and cafe on the side and plenty of seating area.
Overall service was great, the staff were attentive and will assist if you require.
I'm actually puzzled why Koningsdam can't sell more. It could possibly be the itinerary, maybe the rumors about smoke wafting to the music areas from the casino, but all in all if you avoid the casino and surrounding areas it's not bad at all. The Koningsdam is a great ship and I definitely would not mind booking it again.
I didn't encounter anyone that used e-cigs in their rooms and I'm fairly sensitive to smoke. I'm more than happy to share pictures of the food if you would like to see them. Just send me a message.
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