I love visiting new places in different countries throughout the world – I also really enjoy relaxing on a ship at sea, and today was perfect for that, as we enjoyed our first sea day on our seven-night Nieuw Statenam cruise.
Pizza for Breakfast
We aimed to get moving before 9:00am today, which almost happened, and the partial success was largely due to the ship’s clocks turning back one hour last night. Part of the reason for wanting an early (for us) start was that we try and get to breakfast in the main dining room once every cruise. Instead though, we opted for something completely different: New York Deli & Pizza.
This venue is located on the top deck of the partially enclosed mid-ship pool, an area that is quickly growing on me as I feel Holland America Line (HAL) may have stumbled upon a very well executed outdoor space here. They’re open from morning until midnight, serving a variety of foods (some not on the menu, too). On Nieuw Amsterdam we found their pizza to be quite good, and on this sailing, we noticed that they had egg-pizza for breakfast (along with other breakfast items). We ordered an egg-pizza as well as a bagel and lox (I’m mostly vegetarian, but enjoy fish on cruises, and I have a soft-spot for lox). Both were quite good, in fact, I’d say the ET bagel I had was the best I’ve had on any ship, though still quite sub-par by NY or even South Florida standards. I really wish ships home-ported in South Florida would stock up on bagels from one of the local delis.
Like in the Lido Market and other spaces around the ship, if you want a drink (in our case, lots and lots of espresso) you can just press a button on the table and a server is there in no time. The first time I saw this was on MSC Seaside last year and asked Larissa why it’s not a thing on every ship.
Vacation Means No Work – But Sometimes a Workout
Once we finished breakfast we took a walk before going to the gym. I used to have a rule that on sailings of more than 4 nights I’d hit the gym at least once, but I don’t think I have managed to stick to that the last couple of years, and was determined to change that this cruise.
The gym is located all the way forward, providing beautiful views. It’s not as large as some I’ve seen on newer ships, but considering that today was a sea day, and I visited at a peak time, I’d say it’s suitably sized. There is also a meditation room of sorts (not sure what they actually call it) as well as additional rooms for spin classes, fitness lectures, and other services. The workout area itself is also nicely equipped, with a smith machine, several multi-purpose cable machines, a variety of other weight machines, some hand-weights (up to at least 45 lbs, I didn’t check for higher), rowers, ellipticals, and treadmills. My only complaint is that it was a little warm inside, at least for a gym. Perhaps during a less busy time it’d be just right.
Lido Market – Far Away from Italy
Having worked up an appetite we went to Lido Market for lunch (after a badly needed shower). While the selection is more than reasonable, with many different stations, I do find they have fewer vegetarian options than competing lines. We don’t find this much of an issue though, as there are still options – and they’re always very good quality.
What we did think was odd though was the “Far Away Lands” station today had some baked pasta. Now I realize that the distance from Italy or anywhere else is relative to where you are in the world, but I’m not sure that this pasta (which I am sure is great), is what most people think of in this case. There were other options here, including various Asian noodle dishes, but I did think the pasta thing was funny enough to at least mention).
Once again I capped off lunch with some desserts, one of which was a no-sugar-added chocolate mousse which hit the spot.
Daytime Lounging & Accidental Trivia
The music venues on the ship take up a lot of room, and for the most part these spaces are used in the evening. During the day however, this provides guests with any number of places to relax, mingle, get drinks (and sometimes snacks), etc. I stopped by Billboard Onboard for a some scotch and ended up striking up a conversation with a fellow guest after he said, “I give up, what are you doing?” in response to my moving about chairs as I got some photos set up for future use. I’m not a social butterfly, but I do like meeting people from different walks of life, and this gentleman (we’ll call him Bob, because that’s his name), was very kind and interesting. We shared some aviation and cruise stories when suddenly everything changed.
The lounge went from quiet to packed with many people coming in for trivia. I enjoy trivia in concept, but rarely play. Today the decision was made for me as Larissa, Bob, and others formed a team and got absolutely spanked. I felt we had an intelligent and diverse group, but clearly we weren’t the best suited for this round. On the upside, I finally realized that the cruise director sounds just like Malcolm Gladwell – a likeness that I’d been trying to pin down since boarding.
Grand Dutch Cafe is Becoming a Habit
Before it got too late I needed to offset the scotch with a bit of coffee, so I headed back to Grand Dutch Cafe and had a Dutch treat that I don’t often get to enjoy: stroopwafel. I generally drink espresso, but I ordered a nice pour-over and a stroopwafel, which is a thin waffled cookie that has a layer of caramel in the center. The right way (both by tradition, and in my opinion) is to place the stroopwafel over your coffee cup and allow the heat and moisture from the coffee to slightly soften the sugars inside so you can enjoy the soft and sweet treat with your coffee.
A Sunset Walk
I realized I’d not yet properly enjoyed a sunset on this ship, as we sailed between Cuba and the Island of Hispaniola, it was clear it’d be a pretty event, especially with the mountainous Cuban terrain in the distance. Walking up a flight of stairs from the aft/Seaview Pool we found that there is a door you can pass through which leads to a known but little-trafficked promenade next to Tamarind, an Asian restaurant.
While watching the sunset we chatted with a Canadian family and took in the general serenity of the moment. No noise, little wind, just a beautiful view, and a period of time that most anyone would be happy to get stuck in. As much as that’d have been nice though, the sun eventually set and since we were right next to Tamarind, an early dinner was our destiny.
A Conveniently Delicious Dinner
Walking through the side/outside access doors into Tamarind we found ourselves near the bar and made our way to the hostess stand. Without a reservation we were seated in seconds and looking at the menu.
Tamarind is an Asian fusion restaurant (which comes at a $25 cover) and is co-located with an a la carte sushi bar, which we may try for a snack another day. There were plenty of options on the menu and I must say the staff was excellent about offering suggestions as well as making customizations (both for allergies and preference). Without realizing it, we ordered some of the same things we’d had in Tamarind on Nieuw Amsterdam a year and a half ago – but we were content with this. Like last time, the meal was great, but the stand out courses may have been dessert – somewhat surprising to me personally as I don’t usually think of dessert items when I think of most Asian cuisines. I realize I’m painting with a broad brush and this is likely just a misconception on my part, but I point this out to make sure you order all of the desserts here!
Bonus ‘Doesn’t Matter to Most’ Info: I may have mentioned on one of our recent Celebrity Edge sailings that we met a neighbor onboard, a couple who live just a few hundred meters from our home. In Tamarind we ended up chatting with two women at the table next to us and found that one of them live just a couple miles from us. She also lives half the year in Halifax (with her dining companion) and shares a last name with our favorite Haligonians and fellow-cruisers (hi Jerel & Jessica)!
An Early Evening Preparing for an Early Morning
We spent a short bit of time in the Rolling Stone Rock Room listening to some top-40 hits, but I do like the way the band covers them. On one hand they’re putting their own spin, but on the other, you never find yourself singing along and becoming disappointed when their take is slightly different. Musicians may have a term for this, but I think it’s important if you want to both please crowds but have fun with your performance at the same time.
Despite the good music and supply of whisky, we’ll be turning in soon in favor of an early start in Ocho Rios, Jamaica tomorrow. During dinner we booked (via the HAL Navigator app) a Martha Brae rafting excursion. Booking this excursion via the app was incredibly simple, and it was interesting, though reasonable, that they asked guests’ weight, as there are restrictions for the raft. The tour looks relaxing and my father (who spent a lot of time Jamaica while working at sea) spoke highly of similar experience in years past. It’s been many years since I was in Ocho Rios, and Larissa has never been, so hopefully this will serve as a nice way to see the natural beauty of one of the island nation’s famous rivers with lush canopies.
Our Nieuw Statendam Stateroom
I failed to share photographs of our stateroom on embarkation day, so I'll throw them in here. We originally booked an Ocean View Guarantee (we explain guarantee staterooms here) but a couple days before sailings we were able to move to a verandah guarantee because of a price drop. This rarely happens, but it's nice it does. We were assigned an obstructed view verandah on deck four and found it well appointed. It seems a tad smaller than the room on Nieuw Amsterdam, but much more modern. The shower is nearly full-sized, something that is found in many rooms on most HAL ships, and it's hard to not get used to that luxury.
Nieuw Statendam Live Blog - Embaraktion Day
Nieuw Statendam Live Blog - Half Moon Cay
Nieuw Statendam Live Blog - Sea Day 1
Nieuw Statendam Live Blog - Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Nieuw Statendam Live Blog - Grand Cayman/Sea Day
Nieuw Statendam Live Blog - Cozumel, Mexico