Words by Tiana Templeman
One of the bands onboard Holland America’s latest ship, Nieuw Statendam, is ripping through a blazing rendition of the Led Zeppelin classic Stairway to Heaven. This elegant classical quintet isn’t a typical chamber orchestra and, for me at least, this isn’t a typical cruise.
The 14-night inaugural voyage of Nieuw Statendam from Rome to Fort Lauderdale is my first transatlantic crossing. With only three port stops, I wondered how I would cope with eight consecutive days at sea, but it doesn’t take long for me and my fellow travellers to settle in. And much to my surprise, our swimmers get more use than our sweaters as we sail across the Atlantic.
Live entertainment at the Music Walk is a highlight, with three different venues providing performances akin to a musical cruise ship buffet. Not everything is to our taste, but there’s always an act that tempts us to stay up much later than we had planned.
Lincoln Center Stage hosts classical music, followed by a contemporary swing band in the late afternoon. In the early evening, the main venues kick off with rock and roll in the Rolling Stone Rock Room, high-energy funk, soul and blues in BB King’s Blues Club, and twin pianos in Billboard Onboard. Traditionalists aren’t forgotten with a pianist in the elegant Ocean Bar.
Relaxing days at sea slip into evenings, usually beginning in Explorations Central on Deck 12, where wraparound windows provide 180-degree ocean views to accompany our sunset drinks, followed by dinner in one of the ship’s specialty restaurants. These range from Asian fusion at Tamarind to the French-inspired Rudi’s Sel de Mer and rustic Italian fare at Canaletto.
Passengers who prefer to stick to the complimentary dining venues can choose from options such as the spacious main dining room with its sparkling two-storey wine tower, or the casual Dive In burger bar near the pool. With the sun shining overhead and a cocktail in hand, this is the perfect place to kick back and enjoy lunch on a deckchair while you watch the ocean.
Just remember there is an art to enjoying a transatlantic cruise: slow down and relax, but don’t be afraid to kick up your heels now and again. After all, you can always sleep in tomorrow.
1. Striking up conversations with fellow passengers is an enjoyable way to pass the time on sea days.
2. There aren’t many ports so make the most of them. Plan an activity or join a tour at each stop.
3. The weather can range from freezing to tropical, and everything in between, so pack clothes you can layer and don’t forget your swimmers.
4. You will have lots of time to fill on sea days so why not try something new? Who knows, you could discover a new passion.
5. Transatlantic crossings are usually affordable due to the large number of sea days and limited number of ports. Keep an eye out for amazing deals.