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LUXURY CRUISE: Nieuw Amsterdam
Style: Manhattan-style, big-hotel afloat which still looks like and behaves like a boat! Newest ship in Holland America Lines' fleet of 15 ships, New York City provides the inspiration.
Scene: The dedication of Nieuw Amsterdam by HRH Princess Maxima of the Nederlands.
Seen on Deck: Royals and dignitaries of all kinds
 

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nieuw amsterdam
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Your The Luxury Travel Bible correspondent  could hardly turn down an invitation to attend the launch of a new ship, especially when the location was Venice. Princesses don't say no either.

The occasion was the dedication of Holland America Line (HAL's) brand spanking new, straight-out-of-the-box (read shipyard) Nieuw Amsterdam - fourth ship in the company's 137 year history to carry the name. And the princess is - HRH Princess Maxima of the Nederlands, godmother - or La Madrina as the Italians say - of the new ship.

 The first Nieuw Amsterdam was a 4-masted steam ship and was in service from 1906 to 1931. She was a mere 17,149 tons, but still carried 2,886 passengers - mostly steerage. As for the new ship, she carries 2,106 guests, weighs in at 86,700 gross tons, and has 11 passenger decks, 5 restaurants, 2 Show Lounges, spa & salon, fitness centre, Queen's Lounge & Culinary Arts Centre, Casino, Duty-free Shops and more. Nieuw Amsterdam - you've come a long way baby.

It hardly needs explaining that she draws her name from the original name of New York City - New Amsterdam. So New York City provides the inspiration and the theme throughout the ship in interior décor, artwork and cuisine. Wonderful old black & white news photographs of the times line the companionways.

Worth a lingering look.

It's a big day in Venice. First there is the flotilla of 15 HAL fleet captains from all the ships in the HAL fleet. They swoosh up to Nieuw Amsterdam's berth at the Port of Venice - standing, as is the custom in the sleek, varnished-hulls of Venice's private motor boats and water taxis - waving to all and sundry. A bit like a royal procession - but on water. No, we didn't hear Handel's Water Music. Native son of Venice Vivaldi perhaps.
 
'God bless her and all who sail in her", the traditional champagne is shattered across the bow, and everyone gets stuck in.

The Captains formed a guard of honour in anticipation of the arrival of Her Royal Highness. After the formalities, speeches of 'God bless her and all who sail in her" the traditional champagne is shattered across the bow, and everyone gets stuck in.

There are no fewer than five different restaurants: The Manhattan Dining Room, Lido - casual dining, Tamarind - Pan-Asian cuisine, Canaletto - popular Italian, and the fabulous Pinnacle for the best beef and seafood in the world.

Among Nieuw Amsterdam's many attributes are the enrichment experiences such as Culinary Arts - i.e. hands-on cooking lessons and wine-tastings presented by Food & Wine magazine, marine biology talks, art tours, and a digital workshop where you can polish up your computer skills or learn from scratch.

Out of doors, there is a vast pool deck, a basketball court and a volleyball court.

By night, fabulous live shows in the Show Lounge pay tribute to New York's legendary Rockettes.

There are six categories of suites and staterooms. Our readers will clearly choose the Penthouse Verandah Suite which comes with large, king-size bedroom, living room, dressing room, 2 bathrooms, whirlpool on deck, a microwave and a pantry - for the butler of course.

Check in:  Nieuw Amsterdam will be conducting a series of  cruises to the Caribbean from January to March  2012, Nieuw Amsterdam will then be in European waters from April 2012.
Ultimate Luxury:  Dining at The Chef's Table among 18 like-minded souls in the luxury and elegance of the private dining room in the Pinnacle Grill. Overlooking the proceedings? A large portrait of Escoffier.
Most Indulgent Moment: Languishing in relative solitude on a chaise in the privacy of the Cabana Club a discreet attendant at hand to top up your water, refurbish your fruit platter, bring a glass of fizz if you want - even turn the page of your book for you.
Insider Secrets: Rising early and heading up to the Explorations Café which is powered by The New York Times for the first espresso and news fix of the day.
The Little Things: Big actually. The Yellow Taxi in Club HAL.
Junior Luxies: Club HAL for littlies up to teens. Teens have their own Loft.
Dress code: By day, strictly casual, something dressier by night if you are dining at the Manhattan restaurant or Pinnacle Grill, otherwise pretty much anything goes for other restaurants. No shorts, thongs or bare feet except on deck.
Perfect luggage: A large suitcase can be stowed under your bed quite easily.
Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Link:  Holland America Line (HAL) For more information Holland America Cruises call Travel the World 02-8296 7075 or visit www.traveltheworld.com.au
The Luxury Travel Bible insider says...
Nieuw Amsterdam is a ship for all comers, but if your taste is definitely top-end, you can find all the luxury appurtenances and services you desire. Call it creating your own 'boutique ship within a big ship'.

Maggy Oehlbeck 30/7/10. Update 17/10/11

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