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Holland America Line Offers Food for Thought with Innovative Dining Concepts

Author: Olivia Sharpe

Published on:

From Michelin-starred chefs to gastronomic pop-ups and exciting culinary excursions, Holland America Line guarantees a foodie cruise with a difference

It says a lot about a cruise line’s approach to food when the burger served at its most casual poolside eatery was hit upon only after head chefs sampled 127 of America’s best burgers to determine the ideal recipe. Yes really. On a Holland America Line cruise, food is an art form guided by some of the world’s most passionate chefs who demonstrate the same care and skill when flipping burgers as they do arranging amuse-bouche in candlelit fine-dining restaurants.

While some cruise lines are associated with a particular celebrity chef, Holland America Line has no less than eight world-renowned culinary experts who together form its esteemed Culinary Council, consulting on every dining venue, lounge and bar across the fleet.

Led by master chef Rudi Sodamin, the most highly decorated chef working on the oceans today, the council members count one, two and three-star Michelin ratings among their plaudits. What’s especially meaningful is that these food and wine gurus aren’t strangely elusive figures whose liquid smokes, foams and tinctures haunt the corridors of cruise ships.

On the contrary, every Holland America Line guest has the chance to enjoy one special ‘Dinner with the Culinary Council’ during their cruise, where each spectacular course from the menu has been designed by the talented team themselves, accompanied by exquisite wine pairings.

The Main Dining Room on Noordam

Food, glorious food with Holland America Line

A variety of onboard restaurants presents a smorgasbord of choices to whet every appetite. The main dining room on all ships is two-tiered with picture windows and ocean views on three sides. In addition to set dining times, there is a wonderfully flexible ‘As your wish’ dining option, where guests may dine when and with whom they choose.

The food here is so good that many don’t feel the need to venture out to the ship’s speciality venues – but it’s worth taking the plunge to experience the diverse options on offer. And with the supplements for speciality restaurants ranging from just $15-$45 per person, you won’t have to worry about busting your bank balance as well as your belt.

At the intimate and elegantly designed Pinnacle Grill, the menu dances through American Pacific North West cuisine, featuring premium ingredients that range from wild-caught Alaskan king salmon to sustainably raised beef from Washington State’s Double R Ranch. Just a hop, skip and a jump across a world map and you’re in Tamarind, a stunning restaurant with sizzling dishes from Southeast Asia, China and Japan.

The Pinnacle Grill on Nieuw Statendam

Lauded by Condé Nast Traveller as rivalling the top regional restaurants on land, Tamarind is available on Eurodam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Nieuw Statendam and Koningsdam, as well as Rotterdam, the newest addition to the fleet, set to arrive in August 2021. Inspired by Rudi Sodamin’s travels to Indonesia, it will transport you to Asia’s authentic kitchens in an instant.

Whether you swivel al dente spaghetti around your fork in Italian restaurant Canaletto, tuck into nigiri and sake at Nami Sushi, or feast on open-faced herring sandwiches and apple and bacon pancakes at The Grand Dutch Café, a celebration of Holland America Line’s Dutch heritage, you won’t go hungry.

The wow factor

While all dining experiences on a Holland America Line cruise are pretty special, some really tip the balance when it comes to a memorable evening. Look out for select European itineraries where one of the world’s ‘50 best restaurants’ joins the ship.

Those lucky enough to experience ‘A Taste of De Librije’ will have the chance to sample the fearless fare of three-Michelin-starred Culinary Council member Jonnie Boer, head chef of De Librije restaurant in The Netherlands. Through dishes such as Dover sole in smoked butter, with sweet and sour leeks stuffed with an oyster and a lemongrass sauce, epicureans will be in heaven.

Rudi's Sel de Mer on Koningsdam

Then there is the inimitable talent evidenced in French-Mediterranean seafood brasserie Rudi's Sel De Mar, helmed by master chef Rudi Sodamin himself. With a staggering 34 years’ experience in cruise ship cuisine, Rudi’s stand-out menu, one of the most talked-about on the ship, offers a modern twist on classic French dishes – think seared scallops on seaweed salad and saffron vinaigrette foam; steaming bouillabaisse; duck cassoulet; and steak frites and truffled mashed potatoes.

Appearing as a stand-alone restaurant on Koningsdam, Nieuw Statendam and Rotterdam, Rudi's Sel De Mar takes the form of an exciting pop-up on other vessels in the fleet, with a carefully curated menu served on one night during the cruise, with custom decor, plates, menus and uniforms, and a specially crafted cocktail and wine menu.

Rudi's Sel de Mer Seafood Platter

One-of-a-kind culinary excursions

If all that hasn’t got your gastronomic juices flowing, then this will. Holland America Line has partnered with Food & Wine magazine to develop a programme of exclusive tours and excursions that reveal the cherished food of destinations in unique and exciting ways.

Guests may take hands-on cooking classes with top local chefs, go on culinary walking tours, visit wineries, sample authentic street food and more. In Europe, for example, you could learn to make the perfect pizza in Naples or explore a family-owned vineyard in Santorini.

Over in Bangkok, guests who take part in the 'Courageous Kitchen Cooking Class' experience will be helping to feed and train local people in need, as a portion of the proceeds is donated to the community. The tour starts with an in-depth exploration of a local market followed by a class in home-style Thai cooking with the owner of Courageous Kitchen.

Now that’s the kind of bold flavour we can expect from one of the most innovative cruise lines sailing today.

Nami Sushi at the Tamarind

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