Understated and elegant, a giant ship quietly looms over the San Diego boardwalk. I always wondered what it was like inside the towering cruise ships and finally found out. The Koningsdam, Holland America Line’s newest vessel, is filled with artwork, sleek restaurants, culinary experiences, and an array of deck diversions. It’s built to please and well worth considering as one of the best luxury travel gifts – for yourself or loved ones.

It’s also the first Pinnacle Class vessel to sail from San Diego, so it was no surprise to find a bit of fanfare around this inaugural event. Holland America Line President, Gus Antorcha and Chairman of the San Diego Port Commissioner’s Board, Michael Zucchet, exchanged plaques and keys during an opening ceremony onboard.

The deck includes an adult only outdoor lounge.

The top deck includes an adult only outdoor lounge.

Holland America Line Returns to San Diego

There’s reason to celebrate the departure of the Koningsdam. The last Holland America Line cruise left nearly two years ago after calling the Port of San Diego home since the 1990’s. Also, the line has contributed mightily to the local economy. More than 35 local vendors supply the ships with goods and services.

The Dutch cruise line choose a significant name for this new premium ship. “Koning” means “King” in Dutch. This new class of ship is the largest, most technologically advanced, and luxurious HAL ship ever built.

Check out this short video tour of the ship:

If someone on your list loves the better things in life, a cruise on the Koningsdam would make one of the best luxury travel gifts. It feels like a high-end resort where you have a host of diversions to choose from.

Choose a fine bottle of wine or a favorite whiskey. Blend your own wine and schedule a tasting event organized through a Washington State winery partnership. Spend time in the graceful spa where a bank of heated recliners face picture windows. A coed and circular sauna is fashioned from fine granite and the hot tub jets are designed to ease any sore muscles from below water or above.

Wine tasting and blending experience on the Holland America Line Koningsday ship

Wine tasting and blending experience on the Holland America Line Koningsday ship

I’ve heard about cruises filled with hedonistic banquets and after-hour, dessert bars but those plebian pleasures have been refined on the Koningsdam. There’s an abundance of refined dining choices including a dinner component of the Culinary Arts Center, celebrity chef designed menus, a new feature, a French-style brasserie, and reservation-required dining rooms – each table set with its own china. For simpler meals, casual cafes offer international as well as American selections, plus smoothie and coffee bars. Here cruising as one of the best luxury travel gifts would appeal to anyone’s appetite.

Performers inside the Billboard Online Lounge

Inside the Billboard Online Lounge

Enjoyable Performances

Entertainment is woven into the interior design with music-inspired carpeting in the stateroom corridors, but it overflows into the Lincoln Center ballroom and Billboard Online music venues which have joined the B. B. King Blues Club.

Enjoy a recital with appetizers. Tap toes in the rock lounge. Attend performances in the main theater. Of course, lovely shops beckon and a demure, casino is part of the experience.

I couldn’t wait to see the top decks. No water slides full of chortling kids here. The oval shaped hot tubs and main pool are surrounded by lounging areas, bar and café options. Movies are screened on the adjacent double-floor, glass-roofed Lido deck. An adult-only pool near the rear of the ship appealed to me. I passed a Japanese-inspired sitting area with private cabanas and lounge patio where a rectangular pool shimmered nearby.

Premium dining rooms feature their own china.

Premium dining rooms feature their own china.

With so much to enjoy it’s important to maintain balance with a cabin that feels like a refuge. The Koningsdam outer cabins feature with balconies wide enough for chaise lounges. The Neptune Lounge is open around the clock for luxury cabin guests. Interior rooms are comfortably laid out and don’t feel like they’ve been wedged into remaining space. All rooms have filtered air.

Which brings to mind safety. Today’s best luxury travel gifts ensure healthy precautions and cruises have taken precautions to heart. The Koningsdam has embedded secure practices throughout. There are signs, social distancing and masks are required for staff/encouraged for guests who are not dining or outside. Strict protocols are followed with vaccine verification and temperature checks before boarding. Health measures are followed for all staff and medical assistance is available. Even the terminal has been tuned for their return with distancing, plexi-glass protections, and hand sanitizer stations.

Refined staterooms with private balconies.

Refined staterooms with private balconies.

Consider luxury travel gifts that include a Koningsdam cruise

San Diego expects about 100 cruise calls this season as the industry ramps back up which is good news for those who’ve missed the experience. I can imagine how relaxing and secure I’d feel cruising through the Panama Canal, or along the Pacific coast. It’s a larger luxury experience than any I’ve experienced before (like this Galapagos Island cruise.) After waiting so long to re-enter the world, precautions are in place for cruising to return as a popular vacation option. I might not wait for a birthday or holiday present. One of the best luxury travel gifts I could give myself would be a Koningsdam cruise.

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