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Exceptional Dining on Holland America Konigsdam
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            How often do we hear friends say that if they go on a cruise, they will eat too much. This is probably true. What makes it worse is that much cruise food is not worth gaining weight over.

            Well there are exceptions, and the fact that one can enjoy great dining on a cruise ship is certainly true on Holland America's  Konigsdam

            Main dining room meals on  medium-size and large, non luxury-class, ships  tend to be institutional with many courses, impersonal service and items that generally do not live up to their expectation.  Offerings are generally plentiful; however frequently disappointing. When evaluating the experience, the question guests should ask themselves is: "would I visit this restaurant if it was in my home town."

            Konigsdam features five outstanding specialty restaurants, as well as, a main dining room that is far above average. To encourage guests to try the specialty restaurants, the ship offers several dining packages where a combination of the various venues is offered at a discounted price. Wine packages are also available.

            On our ten day cruise, we had the opportunity to sample all of the dining venues.







Pinnacle Grill on the Holland America Koningsdam Cruise Ship



            The fine dining specialty restaurant found throughout the fleet is the Pinnacle Grill. In an elegant setting with plush dĂ©cor and  a wall lined with vintage wine bottles, an  attentive serving staff presents course after course of gourmet items.

             Following an amuse bouche,  guests can choose from nine items  for their appetizer, including lobster bisque, shrimp cocktail, steak tartare, Caesar salad, crab cake, or ossertra malossal caviar (for an additional $45 supplement).


            Eighteen main course choices range from fish and seafood entries such as Alaskan king salmon, cedar planked halibut, Alaskan king crab legs and lobster tail ($20 supplement)  to grilled Colorado lamb chops, double-cut pork chops, wild mushroom ravioli and six cuts of steak varying from 7 to 23 ounces. There are eight attractive sides to choose from, and all steaks are served with your choice of hand-crafted sauces.

            Desserts include  vanilla-berry soufflĂ©, baked Alaska, lemon-brulee tart, Grand Marnier chocolate volcano cake, ice cream, sorbet, fresh berries and an assortment of cheeses.

            On many cruises, the Grill plays host to guest Michelin-starred restaurants such as Le Cirque and De Librije. Having attended one such gourmet event, I can attest to the fact that it is one of the best meals you will have on a ship.





SEL DE MER  (a la carte)


The new French seafood brasserie Sel de Mer.


            Sel de Mer (Salt of the Sea), is a French brasserie-style venue specializing in fresh seafood and traditional brasserie items such as steak frites, duck cassoulet, coq au vin and soufflĂ© au fromage. We loved this restaurant having experienced some of the best whole dover sole meuniere (boned at the table), Maine lobster,  and moules frites we have had at sea. Starters included such special items as baked escargot, prime beef steak tartare and pan-seared foie gras de canard au cassis. Although items are priced a la carte, prices were less than half you would pay ashore, and the meal should not run you much more than the Pinnacle Grill. The service here is attentive and impeccable and the experience a must for all Francophiles and gourmets.
















Tamarind brings the flavors of Asia to Koningsdam.


            Tamarind is an exceptional pan-Asian venue featuring  dishes from Indonesia, Japan, China, Vietnam and Malaysia .highlighting a fusion of ingredients prepared by specially trained Asian chefs. The dĂ©cor is charming with a blend of purple, black and wood hues surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows looking out to the decks and sea. Extremely attentive, attractive Indonesian servers add to the charm of the experience.

            Diners are advised to select two appetizers, a selection from the sushi menu, a main course from a variety of dishes labeled "Water", "Wood", "Fire" and "Earth". a side dish and a dessert. "Water" entries  include Asian style  fish and ginger and garlic wok- seared lobster; "Wood"  describes such dishes as  wasabi and soy crusted  beef tenderloin, Taiwanese braised pork belly and Korean duck breast; "Fire" indicates spicy entries such as Thai basil Szechuan shrimp, Penang red curry coconut chicken and Vietnamese-style lamb; and "Earth" describes Asian vegetable and noodle creations. It is possible to sit at the  sushi bar located inside the restaurant.



CULINARY ARTS CENTER ($20 or $39 with unlimited wine)


The Culinary Arts Center will now also feature Dinner at the Culinary Arts Center.

            Culinary Arts Center is a show kitchen offering cooking lessons on certain days. In the evening the venue converts to a dining room with the open kitchen as its centerpiece. The head chef prepares each dish before the diners who can come up and watch before each dish is served. The fare is a farm to table concept with emphasis on vegetarian and organic dishes. There is only one sitting at 7:00 p.m.. Each evening there is an amuse bouche, a salad, a pasta, a choice of  a main course ( fish, meat or vegetarian) and a choice of dessert or cheese, various teas and petits fours. It is a casual atmosphere and diners can visit with each other between courses.





Koningsdam's Pinnacle Grill.


            Each evening a section of the Lido Market restaurant  is sectioned off and converted into a charming Italian trattoria. It is recommended that two people order two small plates, one pasta , one large plate and two desserts. Small plates include antipasto, zuppa di pesce, beef carpaccio, and several salads. Pasta dishes range from spaghetti with sea food, pomodoro or bolognese to shrimp ravioli, potato gnocchi  and rigatoni with sausage, olives and spicy tomato sauce. Vitello al forno, chicken cacciatore al forno, costolette di agnello, grilled sea bass and portobello mushrooms make up the list of large plates. The dessert list includes "to die for" Tiramisu, as well as a lemon torte, cannoli and gelato.






  Koningsdam's Main Dining Room.


            In addition to the above specialty restaurants, there are several no fee dining venues available to the passengers, chief among which is the elegantly designed and furnished two-level dining room. We found the room considerably brighter and more ambient than the main dining rooms on most other ships. Tables can accommodate  from two to eight. The chairs are of a soft leather and  were very comfortable. Guests can choose among two assigned-table dining times  on the upper level, or they can opt for "anytime dining" on the lower level  dining at such time and with whoever and wherever they choose.

            The menu changes each evening and consists of  appetizers, soups, salads, seven main courses  ( at least one meat, fowl, seafood, fish and vegetarian entry), and several desserts. Many of the items that appear in the specialty restaurants appear on the menu each evening. The desserts are imaginative and outstanding (with a deference to chocoholics) . On various evenings we were offered lobster tail, steak au poivre, prime rib, rack of lamb and other desired items. On any evening, Caesar salad, New York strip sirloin, grilled salmon and broiled chicken are available alternatives.

            Service was outstanding for a large dining room and the overall experience was so good that many guests saw no reason to try out the specialty restaurants. (However, I think that would be a mistake since all of these venues were a bargain compared to similar restaurants ashore).


            In addition to the main dining room and specialty restaurants, passengers can opt for several self-service venues. The Lido Market is the ship's major buffet restaurant opened from 7:00 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. To avoid long lines, the food presentations are divided into five theme stations. To assure good hygiene, guests are encouraged to wash their hands at hand washing stations. In addition you cannot help yourself to food. The food stations are behind glass and you have to ask to be served. This is an attractive area that leads out to the lido pool with outdoor seating. Drinks are served at the table and the servers are attentive, unlike the buffet areas on many ships.  We found the large variety of selections to be quite good, especially the bakery products. In the morning, omelets and other egg dishes were made to order and the trays with other items were frequently refreshed.


            Located outside the Lido Market next to the pool is a grill station that makes hamburgers, hot dogs and fries to order. At the New York  Deli & Pizza  located on the deck overlooking the pool, you can order New York style sandwiches, pizza and salads off of a menu.. In the morning,  a variety of juices, cereals, pastries, bagels, coffee and tea. is offered here. At the Great Dutch CafĂ© on Deck 3 across from reception, the food is free, but coffee and other drinks are not. The fare is mostly pastries and Dutch dishes with crepe-type pancakes being the most popular item. There is no charge for  sandwiches  and pastries  at the Exploration CafĂ© located high atop the ship; however, soft drinks, coffees and tea are at a charge here also.


            We thoroughly savored our dining experiences and could honestly say that if  Sel de Mer, Tamarind and/or  Pinnacle were located in our town we would be frequent visitors (even at twice the price). .







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