You say Manhattan. I say “The Big Apple.” We both call it New York. Back in the 17th century, New York City went by the name Nieuw Amsterdam. Contemporary versus classic. That, in a New York minute, is the theme carried out on board Holland America Line’s newest ship, Nieuw Amsterdam.

Launched in July 2010, the 2,106-passenger ship boasts a personality all her own. On the classic side, she is the fourth ship to bear the name in the line’s 138-year history. Going contemporary, she is the sister to Eurodam and the second in the line’s impressive new Signature-class vessels.

Like any new sibling, Nieuw Amsterdam has been tweaked – no bar in the atrium reception area, softer colours and a key-card activated electric system in the staterooms.

The New York theme, while evident throughout, is pleasantly restrained rather than in-your-face glitzy. It is primarily reflected in the multi-million dollar art collection. The most striking example by far is Gilbert Lebigre and Corinne Roger’s translucent block chandelier crafted to mirror the New York skyline and its elongated reflection in the harbour.

This revolving masterpiece hangs at the ship’s centre, above the three-deck Atrium. It is best viewed from the circular glass stairway leading up from the reception and shore excursion counters to the Pinnacle Bar and Pinnacle Grill, and finally the Ocean Bar.

Other tributes to New York include a larger-than-life metallic apple sculpture. And, in a nod to Radio City Music Hall, scantily-clad cabaret dancers swing from hoops on either side of the Showroom at Sea’s upper tier.

A mural of the bustling city waterfront hangs across from the Explorer’s Lounge. Be sure to look closely, as the cleverly drawn skyscrapers are actually ornate chests of drawers. Club Hal, the youth playroom, sports an authentic New York Checker Cab, a typical hot dog cart and graffiti on several walls.

Ship models large and small tucked into stairway landings and alcoves carry on a Holland America tradition. Classic Dutch touches can also be found in the form of blue-and-white tile murals and old-world Dutch motifs in the stateroom art.

As on other ships in the fleet, an entertaining audio tour of the artwork is available from the librarian. The 40-minute walking tour makes an excellent introduction to the ship’s layout, as well as its exceptional art collection.

Shifting to the dining scene, New York’s fabled restaurant, Le Cirque debuted across the fleet in late 2010. Dinner at Le Cirque is celebrated in the Pinnacle Grill one night each cruise. The entire venue is devoted to the event featuring a select menu and whimsical, circus-themed china (tumbling monkeys) from the namesake restaurant.

The wines, a short list of Le Cirque recommendations, ranges from a California Conundrum at $39 to Italy’s Castello Banfi Brunello Di Montalcino at $108.

The four-course Le Cirque dinner begins with lobster salad, followed by a creamy sweet corn soup poured at table from a metal pot. The main course offers a choice of wild halibut, rack of lamb or an overly generous portion of aged prime rib strip steak. Desserts are cr