While many of you are certainly aware of Holland America Line’s award-winning Culinary Arts Centers onboard, did you know that on Koningsdam the experience is taken to a whole new level as a dining venue? While all of the ships feature Culinary Arts Center programming and a show kitchen for cooking demonstrations, hands-on classes and more, Koningsdam features the fleet’s first purpose-built show kitchen and dining area for 74 lucky guests.
Dinner at the Culinary Arts Center seats 74 guests for the meal.
During the day, the ship’s chefs share recipes from Holland America Line’s menus in a state-of-the-art show kitchen that rivals any show kitchen you’ll see on television. During a recent cruise, our own Mast Chef Rudi Sodamin was onboard and demonstrated how to make Sel de Mer’s salt crusted fish.
Holland America Line’s Master Chef Rudi Sodamin doing a cooking demo in the Culinary Arts Center.
Giant screens around the room make it possible for all attendees to see the cooking action.
What sets Koningsdam’s Culinary Arts Center apart from the rest of the fleet is its evening transformation into an fresh, farm-to-table inspired dining venue. However, the meal is unlike any other onboard. Guests dine from a set menu and simply select their main course. Each course is prepared live in the show kitchen, with the ship’s chef showing the process. Guests are welcome to come watch and ask questions.
Two menus alternate and feature a variety of soups, salads, mains and desserts. On both menus guests choose from a beef, fish or vegetarian main course.
The first course on one menu is Roasted Heritage Carrot Soup.
These Pumpkin Ricotta Parcels are a wonderful vegetarian main course.
One menu features a Vacuum Poached Seabass and Fennel Confit.
From left: All guests get Petit Fours Pops and an Apple Blossom Blood Orange Foam amuse-bouche. Guests receive a refreshing Limon and Lavender Bourbon drink upon arrival.
The Garden Berry Gallatte dessert is a flavorful way to end the meal.
Guests are encouraged to watch the food preparation.
Making the experience even more unique, each course is complemented with Koppert Cress microgreens grown onboard in the Culinary Arts Center. The microgreens boast different flavors that add to the taste of the dish.
Reservations are recommended as the venue fills up quickly. Dinner at the Culinary Arts Center carries a nominal charge of $ 39 per person, which includes wine. Will you be booking Dinner at the Culinary Arts Center on your next Koningsdam cruise?
Tis the season for wonderment – and wanderlust – aboard Crystal Mozart. As the grand luxury river yacht explores the impossibly charming hamlets and cities along the Danube River, the surroundings seem transformed to suit the festivities. Our chairman and CEO, Edie Rodriguez, spent the Thanksgiving holiday aboard Crystal Mozart with her husband, Tom, and son, Max, as she hosted the annual President’s Cruise.
Christmas Market At Rathausplatz In Vienna, Austria
Here, she shares a glimpse of the dazzling décor aboard the elegant ship from her own personal camera roll, while we also highlight a few of the magical destinations awaiting Crystal River Cruises guests throughout the winter.
Lose yourself in the sea of glittering lights strung above your head as you meander among the merchant stands. Inevitably hum – or sing! – along with the chorus and strings that echo in the streets. Savor the buttery sweetness of freshly baked weihnachtsplätzchen (you don’t need to be able to pronounce it to know they’re delicious).
Crystal Mozart’s ice cream bar is the ideal place to fine snow-capped gingerbread houses and other sweet treats.
Whimsical touches are everywhere, from the décor to the smiles of Crystal’s dedicated crew.
No corner has been left unadorned by the elves aboard Crystal Mozart.
Visitors to Vienna’s Rathauspark Christmas Market in front of City Hall are welcomed by an illuminated sign saying “Frohe Weinachten”
Last evening we sailed out of the protection of the Bahamas and Cuba and came into the open waters of the North Atlantic. The area is fairly quiet, or better said the North Atlantic further North of us is fairly quiet as there is not much of a swell rolling in and thus the Oosterdam is sailing through the water in a nice and stable way. Good for everybody, as they could enjoy a carefree sunny day. For most of the day we sailed above the Dominican Republic and then during the night we will cross the Mona Passage located between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, with the plan to arrive at the pilot station of San Juan at 09.45 in the morning. We arrive at 09.45 at the pilot station because the Crystal Serenity is scheduled for 10.00 hrs. She is going to berth 1 west while we are going to 4 West. The docks are counted from the sea inwards and thus if we sail in just before the Crystal S. then we do not have to wait for them while they make the turn into the 1 dock as 4 dock is further inwards.
I mentioned yesterday that we were expecting two other ships but in the meantime the list has become much longer. We will now be joined by the Eurodam (docking next to us) the Freedom of the Seas , the Regal Princess, the Crystal Serenity, the Silver Wind and the Club Med. Which means it is going to be busy in San Juan. Even when keeping the pax. count low, we are looking at 12,500 guests coming ashore from the ships, sometime during the day. It will certainly mean that the T shirts will not be on discount tomorrow.
The Puerto Rico trench running from above the Dominican Republic to the East.
Sailing towards Puerto Rico, we come across a natural phenomenon which most guests will not notice as it located under water. It is the Puerto Rico Trench which is one of the deepest places in the world. Laying to the north of Puerto Rico it has a length of 800 kilometers (497 miles) long and a maximum depth of 8,648 meters (28,373 ft.) or 5.373 Miles. Not as deep as the Mariana trench near the Philippines but still deep, very deep. All the Caribbean islands are from volcanic origin (something you can see very well when we will pass the mountains near Soufriere on St. Lucia) but the whole area is dormant. The mountain range which tops are the islands were caused by a minor tectonic plate, the Caribbean plate, pushing over the much larger North American plate. The North part of this minor plate is now sitting on top of the large plate and has thus cut off the direct connection with the earth’s fluid inner core. Not completely as we still have a very active Volcano on Montserrat, more to the south east, which crated a lot of mayhem a few years ago. The Puerto Rican trench is a crack on the North side of this plate and goes much deeper down than the ocean floor around it, which is not shallow either with depths of up to 5 or 6 thousand feet. Because of the tectonic plate movement and the depth, landsides are easily possible, creating tsunamis and also earth quakes can occur.
Our course (red) when going in, as seen on the Electronic chart. The black line is the track the ship used last time and you can see with the bulge near the dock that the captain went “high” to compensate for the strong Trade Wind.
When we line up tomorrow morning for going in we will do that several miles from the entrance itself. The sail into port is nearly directly south (the leading lights are 181o, with south being 180o) and to get a feeling for the set of the current, the captain will try to get in the leading lights very early as the entrance is not very wide and the shallows are very close by. Then the pilot will board, outside if it is not too bouncy or otherwise when we are just inside. Once past Morro Castle on the portside, we will lose all the current and most of the wind. Then we have a 50 degree turn to port to head for the downtown docks. San Juan is a very large and natural harbor and there are a lot of docks much deeper into the Laguna than where we are going. Next step is to keep a lookout for small airplanes as they built the runway right in the line of the entrance channel. Then we come to the dock and we turn north again. This will bring the Trade wind full on the sb side of the ship and thus the captain has to ensure that he “stays high” otherwise the ship will drift against the cruise ship docked at pier 3 east. Although we always enjoy visiting the neighbors, drifting against each other is not the way to do it.
We will stay in San Juan until 23.00 hrs. as it is only a short hop to St. Thomas, just around the corner. More about that tomorrow. Weather for tomorrow: Fair chance of showers and 29oC / 84oF with a gentle breeze in the city.
Because we left Tampa exactly on time, we also managed to arrive in Key West exactly on time. As mentioned last cruise, the time /distance between Tampa and Key West is really tight and 30 minutes late from Tampa automatically means 30 minutes late in Key West. Luckily for the rest of the cruise we have some time up our sleeve in regards to the schedule. While going to Key West we sailed through the remnant of a weather front in the early morning but by the time we reached the pilot station it was sunshine galore, ensuring a very warm day, accompanied by a moderate breeze. Thus a regular Key West day, to enjoy for all the guests. The Oosterdam was the only ship in port today and we docked again at B pier, which means tonight we can sail only as soon as the sun has set over Mallory Square.
The bridge profile of the American Victory. If you look at the Aagtedyk below, you can see that their profiles were all the same.
I mentioned the cargo ship in Tampa which is now a museum. It showed up in the port in 1999 after a long career in and out of active service, which started in 1945. The American Victory is one of 534 cargo ships of the same basic design ( but with a lot of variations for special purposes) built during the second world war to satisfy the need of the Allied forces to transport troops and equipment. It was a follow up design of the Liberty class ships of which over 2700 were built. However their average speed was about 10 knots and the operating authorities wanted something faster and thus the Victory Class was designed which could manage about 16 – 17 knots.
After the war all these ships became surplus to requirements, no longer needed, and some went in layup and some were sold to commercial operators. Many of them went to Europe to replace the tonnage the shipping companies there had lost during the war. Holland America also bought a number of them. One Liberty (the ss Blijdendijk (II)) and in total 11 of the Victory class that were very well suited to maintain a regular liner service for the company. These were called the A class with the very Dutch names of:
This is the ss Aagtedyk, ex Texercana Victory here seen sailing past Sugar Loaf mountain outside Rio de Janeiro.
There were all (nearly) the same although some of them had been fitted out in different ways, depending on what they would be used for in the war effort. When they were all put back to their basic cargo ship design some differences remained. I have in my collection a story about one of the captains who sailed on most of them, and who hated one ship (he did not mention which one) where the door from his bedroom was the other way around to the rest of the A class. That resulted for him in bashing his head each time he was called and wanted to run to the bridge, only to run into the door. Most of these ships sailed until the mid sixties when they could not keep up any longer with the more modern motor ships which were better suited to the changing trade conditions.
The American Victory came in service just before the war ended and sailed in the Pacific. Then she went into layup and was used again in 1951 – 1954 for the Korean War effort. Then from 1966 to 1969 she was involved in the Vietnam War and then went back into layup. Around this time most of her sisters started to go to the scrap heap. In between she sailed for a few commercial carriers such as American Export Lines where she was involved in carrying cargo to Europe under the Marshall Plan. Then in 1999 she showed up in Tampa and is now the center piece of the American Victory Mariners Memorial & Museum.
The ss Justicia, ex Statendam II, the strange pattern of dazzle paint clearly visible.
What fascinated me this time was that she had been given a different hull paint job, before she had been regular Navy grey but now she sported a “dazzle paint” camouflage pattern. The earliest form of dazzle paint was introduced in the First World War and invented by an English Gentleman called Wilkinson. The idea was that if you painted a ship in unusual patterns & colors then it would be hard for a submarine commander to see where the ship exactly was. Especially in boisterous seas and grim weather. It was used for most of the First World War especially for passenger liners who with their high profiles stood out like a sore thumb against the elements. If the scheme was successful is debatable. One of our ships under construction during the first world war, the Statendam II, was seized by the British and used as a troop ship. It had dazzle paint but it was still torpedoed.
The American Victory is one of three preserved cargo ships of the Victory Class; the other ones are the Lane Victory in Los Angeles and the Red Oak Victory in Richmond California. She still sails on occasion, often manned by old timers who did it for real in the days when these ships were still out and about.
We will sail tonight as soon as the people at Mallory Square have had their fill of yet another sunset and then we will be at sea tomorrow. Next port of call is San Juan Puerto Rico where we will arrive on the 29th. at 11.00 in the morning. Weather looks good for the coming two sea days.
Two of my favorite vegetables are Brussels sprouts and butternut squash. This is one of my top choices for a Thanksgiving side dish, so I usually make a large bowl of this for the big feast – and not surprisingly – it’s often the first empty dish. When you roast vegetables, something magical happens… and never more than in this recipe. Plus, since I’m Irish, the colors of green and orange are on full display here!
SERVES 4 TO 6
1 pound Brussels sprouts
1 large butternut squash
¼ cup olive oil for cooking
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup wheat berries
3 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons minced shallot
½ cup cranberries
12 large mint leaves, chiffonade
1 cup toasted walnuts, crushed into large pieces
Preheat oven to 375° F. Clean and halve the Brussels sprouts. Toss in a large freezer bag with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet, single layer. Skin and seed the butternut squash and cube into pieces the size of half a Brussels sprout. Toss butternut squash pieces in a large freezer bag with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer. Place the Brussels sprouts and butternut squash in the oven and roast until caramelized and soft (but not mushy).
Place the wheat berries in the water with salt. Bring to a boil, cover and cook until soft and chewy – about 20 to 30 minutes. In a large bowl, place the vinegar and slowly whisk in olive oil to make a creamy emulsion. Add the shallots and cranberries, and allow the cranberries to plump up in the liquid.
When the wheat berries are finished cooking (all the liquid should be absorbed; but if not, pour off any excess), pour the warm wheat berries into the vinaigrette and mix so the cranberries can continue to plump up.
Allow the vinaigrette mixture to come to room temperature, add the vegetables, mint and walnuts. Serve room temperature. You can keep the salad in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days, but remember to serve at room temperature.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Oceania Cruises!