TWcrossroads Managing Editor Michael Nassaur and his wife
Heather are cruising the Panama Canal aboard Holland America's
Amsterdam. He will be filing reports from the recently launched
ship over the next several days.
ABOARD THE AMSTERDAM -- The skies for our scenic cruise of Golfo
Dulce (aka the first sea day) were overcast, so instead of the
usual lounging about, let me tell you a little about the
The Queen's Lounge is the grandmum of the four onboard. The
two-level arena serves as the showroom and gathering place for any
event expected to draw a big crowd, such as the very popular and
very informative Panama Canal lecture today by Willie Friar, the
former director of the Panama Canal Commission Office of Public
Affairs. I'll try to include some tidbits from her program in
tomorrow's installment when we'll be passing through the canal.
As for the showroom, its art deco influences are immediately
evident in the support pillars that run the perimeter of the room
and flank the stage.
Instead of the usual straight columns, Amsterdam's Queen's
Lounge has a series of statues depicting a bare-breasted woman
holding a semisphere above her head in an Atlas-like posture. They
immediately reminded me of similar pieces from Gotham City in the
The deco theme continues in the color palette. Against a cool
backdrop of brass-trimmed steel gray walls and ceiling panels, the
seats stand out in warm hues of burgundy, gold and bright blue.
The seats are arranged in a stadium-type arc with a hint of
separation strategically placed to evoke the feeling of a cozy
loveseat for two, yet open enough for larger groups to feel as if
they were sitting on a continuous couch. Sight lines are excellent
from every seat in the house, including the ever-difficult balcony
The next area on our agenda is the Explorer's Lounge.
Though this room is a feature of all of Holland America's
current ships, each has it's own flavor and flare.
Amsterdam's Explorer's Lounge is filled with deep red and
metallic hues. While some might find the decor to be a bit dark,
overall the effect is a reflection of the warmth echoed in many of
the ship's design elements.
Of course, every HAL's Explorer's Lounges are known to have one
central piece of art, and Amsterdam's is no exception. The main
piece here is a massive oil on aluminum painting by Peter J.
Sterkenberg titled "Ships in front of 17th century Amsterdam."
The scene, depicting dozens of tall-masted vessels, evokes a
strong connection with Holland's sailing history.
Indeed, pieces in the Art Gallery along the same corridor are
Chinese artifacts and sculptures from the 15th, 16th and 17th
centuries and it is not difficult to imagine some of Sterkenberg's
ships returning from the Far East with similar items.
Just a little forward of the Explorer's Lounge is the Rembrandt
Lounge, a small area along the starboard windows that is adjacent
to a piano Bar. The furniture there also is deco in nature and done
in gold, red and black solids.
The final of the four lounges is a special case. Literally. The
Neptune Lounge on the Navigation Deck is available only to suite
guests. Just as on the Rotterdam, membership has its
Perks in the room include concierge service; a big-screen TV, a
cappuccino and coffeemaker; continental breakfast in the morning
and tea sandwiches in the afternoon, and a private library of
newspapers, books, magazines and videos. It also serves as the
gathering place for exclusive cocktail parties for the suite
passengers. However, it is not available for private events.
Switching gears a bit, I promised you some info on a special new
service for art auction aficionados. As it turns out, it's not that
new... but it is pretty neat for those who enjoy this activity.
About a year ago, Park West Galleries started offering an
electronic gallery on all the ships on which it sells art. The
result is a computerized catalog that enables the art director to
show customers listings of hundreds more pieces than are available
If the customer finds something in the electronic catalog he'd
like to purchase, the art director can send an e-mail or fax to the
home office with the client's bid and find out if the offer has
been accepted generally within 24 hours.
Tomorrow's installment will focus mainly on the Panama Canal,
but I may include a few more tidbits on the suite life as well.
Meanwhile, read previous installments about the Amsterdam's Internet cafe and it's first port of call, San Juan del Sur.