Just Back From Nieuw Statendam: Holland America Does Romance

Originally published on Cruise Critic

Holland America has long been known for its excellent, comprehensive itineraries and for an expertise in Alaska cruising driven by its long history offering cruises — and land tours — in the state. In recent year, the line has also earned a reputation for some of the best live music in the industry.

But when Cruise Critic was invited to experience the line’s romantic offerings, we have to admit to be caught off-guard. Sure, we knew the line offers vow renewals and many older couples choose to celebrate double-digit anniversaries, but we’d never have described Holland America as romantic.

Turns out romance can be carved out almost anywhere and HAL’s Nieuw Statendam made it so much easier than we expected, with several secluded and intimate opportunities for couples to experience true romance on the high seas.

After a week at sea, here are just a few things we learned about finding romance on a Holland America cruise.

Cruising naturally brings couples together as they trade their busy home lives that often keep them apart, for a more confined space that allows them to be together. We enjoyed many quiet moments together on Nieuw Statendam, sunning by the pools, dining at a table for two or simply sipping coffee on our balcony as the sea rolled by. We shared in the excitement each time the ship slowly sidled up to a new destination, rife with an array of new adventures to be had. a romantic experience.

Look for opportunities to get away from the crowds.

Private cabanas in Nieuw Statendam's Retreat on deck 12 make for a nice splurge. (Photo: Chez Chesak)

It’s not hard for couples to spend time together on a cruise ship, but on bigger ships, finding places to be alone — or at least feel like it’s just you and your honey — can be a challenge. This is one area that Nieuw Statendam exceeds at with plenty of chances to get away from the rest of your shipmates. There are lovely, curved couches in various secluded recesses and getaway spots, including areas above the Lido Pool that can be curtained off. There are several restaurants with private tables for two for an intimate dinner. We particularly liked the extra-fee cabanas in the Deck 12 Retreat, which also has lounge chairs and sunbeds, along with bar service so you can toast each other.

Doing things you would never do at home makes it extra special.

Doing things that take you out of your routine, away from the day-to-day of regular life is always special and makes those experiences extra memorable. Cruising, by nature, does just that. Our one-week Caribbean itinerary has us well outside of our daily life. We scuba dived in Turks and Caicos, went canyoneering in the Dominican Republic and flew over Key West in a helicopter. And, of course, we spent every night out at dinner together at one of the many restaurants onboard, followed by concerts that ranged from chamber music in Lincoln Center Stage to Memphis blues at B.B. King’s Blues Club and the decades’ biggest hits at Billboard Onboard. On sea days we blended wine together and sampled whiskeys and martinis.

Make the most of sea days for “we” time.

While we had lots of fun together exploring the ports we visited, the two full days at sea included in our itinerary have been outstanding opportunities for us to reconnect. Without the option of a destination to explore on those days, we’ve had more time to talk, lounge about, read, talk some more, pamper ourselves with a spa treatment, throw a few dollars at a slot machine and just generally be us. As much as we love our home life — two teen daughters, a menagerie of pets and the tribulations of a home built in 1908 — being away from it all, with no excuse not to be together was just what we needed.

Splurging on a romance-themed package puts the icing on the cake.

Spa Steam Rooms and Saunas on Nieuw Statendam (Photo: Cruise Critic)

Holland America offers several packages that come with a variety of romance-themed amenities. We recommend the “Just for Us” package, which comes with a dozen roses, a bottle of Champagne, a couples’ aromatherapy massage, an afternoon tea served in your stateroom, an included reservation for two in a specialty restaurant, and a decadent dessert with sparkling wine served in your stateroom one night.

For couples not-yet-married, you can even do the most romantic thing all couples can do — get married (by the ship’s captain, no less); already married couples can renew their vows.

‘Chez’ Chesak is an award-winning travel writer, tourism consultant and 25-year veteran of the outdoor and travel industries. He is Executive Director of the Outdoor Writers Association of America and formerly was the Vice President for Business Development for the Adventure Travel Trade Association and Executive Director of the Family Travel Association. He has been serious about his writing since about age eight. He also runs the Central States Chapter of the Society of American Travel Writers. He’s lived all over the U.S. and traveled to some 36 countries but has the most fun when he’s exploring with his wife and two daughters. An avid outdoors person, he’s happiest on a trail, on skis, or nestled into a sleeping bag. He deployed to Iraq with a U.S. Army line unit in 2005. His works have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Fodors.com, Good Housekeeping, Rachel Ray Every Day, Fatherly, Yahoo Travel, Family Vacation Critic, and many others. He also does periodic travel segments for the morning show of his local FOX affiliate and on American Forces Radio.

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