Set sail with MS Koningsdam, Holland America Line’s art gallery cruise ship

IT would be reasonable to say that cruises have the unfair stereotype of being the domain of pensioners and families with young children. For Holland America Line, their newest ship MS Koningsdam represented a chance to break apart and redesign the public perception of what a cruise can be. Christened by Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands last year, the MS Koningsdam is the first of Holland America Line’s new Pinnacle ships, and part of a fleet that boasts an impressive range of 14 cruise ships.

Koningsdam Aerial VeniceThe MS Koningsdam

But what makes the Ms Koningsdam so much more exciting than your ordinary cruise is the vast collection of contemporary art on board, strategically situated throughout the ship. Spanning a mixed-medium approach of sculptures, paintings, photography and more, the almost 2,000-strong collection was developed by two art specialist companies, Tel Aviv-based Artlink, and Oslo based YSA Design. Both companies devote their time to outfitting hotels and cruise ships with artwork, specially curated in order to best complement the specific personalities and themes of their clients.

Artwork Deck 9 ForwardA portrait made of paint-filled bubble wrap on board the MS Koningsdam

YSA Design and Artlink were charged with the task of curating a collection that was not only amongst the largest at sea, but that revolved around and responded to “music”, the general theme of the MS Koningsdam itself. This is reflected in a myriad of ways, both abstractly and representationally, but pieces such as portraits of the late Davie Bowie, commissioned before his death last year, have become especially poignant.

KODM16-GreenhouseSpaThe Greenhouse Spa

Artlink contributed a comparatively modest selection of artwork – 120 pieces against YSA Design’s 1,800 – all of which are situated through the ship’s public areas. As the company’s founder, Tal Danai explained, the average time we spend looking at an individual piece of artwork in a gallery is only 1.4 seconds. The difference between being on a ship versus in a gallery, of course, is that on a ship, your options for escape are limited. And so, you are much more likely to linger for longer at an artwork. Not only that, as the ship becomes your home during the cruise, so too does the art – you pass by it frequently, perhaps even using a specific piece as a marker to locate yourself.

NotesThe Notes Bar

In this respect, the ship becomes one of the most immersive and well-visited art galleries in the world. Valued at around $4.1million, with pieces ranging in value from $500 to $600,000, the collection was procured mainly from The Netherlands, the USA and the UK, although countries such as France, Korea, Germany and Australia are also represented in the collection.

Atrium - Deck 1, 2 & 3 Midship Koningsdam - Holland America Line
The largest and most expensive work of art on board, The Harps

The largest piece on the ship, which is also the most expensive at a cost of $600,000, is a vast 7.5 tonne sculpture dubbed the Harps. The Artlink team designed and produced the stainless steel atrium sculpture based on a concept by Tihany Design, which spans three decks and takes pride of place as guests check in.

TamarindThe Tamarind Restaurant

The first of Holland America Lines new Pinnacle fleet, the MS Koningsdam is HALs largest ship to date. With a passenger capacity of 2650 and 1036 crew members on board, there is very nearly one cruise member to every two guests. Rather than maximise the space in which they could fit guests, Holland America Line has chosen to create an atmosphere where service is paramount; this is evident in the ever-present and attentive yet discreet crew.

 The Grand Dutch Cafe

The onboard Culinary Arts Centre is exclusive to the MS Koningsdam, and boasts some of the finest cuisine available on board any cruise ship; their chefs will prepare simple, artisan dishes using farm-to-table ingredients in an immersive experience. For maximum freshness, microgreens cut from the ships very own Koppert Cress growing area are served, a first in the cruise industry. Also on board is the excellent Tamarind restaurant, the NY Deli & Pizza restaurant and the Grand Dutch Cafe, which pays homage to the rich heritage of HAL’s country of origin.

Pinnacle Suite (Bedroom) Cat. PSThe Pinnacle Suite, the most exclusive on board the MS Koningsdam

The suites on board the MS Koningsdam are world class, but for the best of the best, the ships single Pinnacle Suite is the height of luxury on board. The 1,357sf suite boasts complimentary daily flowers, drinks and hors-doeuvres on request, priority dining and seating requests and the One-Touch 24/7 Concierge service for your every requirement.

It’s a truly unique way to see the world, and for lovers of art and culture, the MS Koningsdam has so much more to offer than almost any other cruise. Allow yourself to relax, unwind, see the world and be immersed in the ultimate gallery experience.

by Thomas Marrington

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