Last updated: 11:30 AM ET, Wed May 25 2016

Music Walk Sets the World Stage on Holland America Line’s New Koningsdam

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Holland America Line | Jason Leppert | May 25, 2016

Music Walk Sets the World Stage on Holland America Line’s New Koningsdam

All photos by Jason Leppert

One could argue that the Koningsdam is spearheading a Holland America Line revival by way of its entertainment alone. Both the Music Walk district and World Stage theater (pictured above) enhance the onboard programming with impressive new talent and technologies befitting the new cruise ship.

The Music Walk is made up of three components: B.B. King’s Blues Club, Billboard Onboard and Lincoln Center Stage – each featured in its own venue adjacent to the other two. The blues club, for instance, is still housed in the Queen’s Lounge as on other Holland America ships, but this time the space has doubled in size with a classic ballroom setting that stretches the height of two decks. As with the rest of the ship, the design is inspired by music as the architecture undulates in wave patterns, and the dance floor inlay features a stringed instrument’s head and tuners.

The venue may serve multiple purposes, but B.B. King’s Blues Club is the highlight. The band is made up of ace vocalists, guitarists, brass players, a keyboardist and drummer, and they lay down a groove like no other at sea. Genres branch out to jazz and funk, pretty much anything that can be danced to, and passengers do frequently take to the dance floor. It’s nice to finally see a venue that can accommodate the standing-room-only crowds found elsewhere on the fleet because this group deserves it.

For more pop favorites, Billboard Onboard pares things down a bit with dueling pianos and singers. Passersby can have a seat in the barstools that line the tickled ivories or in the larger bar space overall in plenty of other comfy chairs. Billboard trivia is displayed on lots of screens throughout the room, and the performers take it from there through the decades of radio chart toppers. The concept certainly energizes the generic piano bar concept found on other ships and even takes dueling piano entertainment up a notch.

READ MORE: Holland America Line's Improved Eurodam A Preview of New Koningsdam

But the surprise hit onboard is Lincoln Center Stage. Holland America has featured classical chamber music in the past, but the new partnership elevates it with new arrangements that include everything from Bernstein to Buble. One session alone featured soundscapes from France and Argentina and even a rousing string quartet and piano rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep,” providing something for everyone. Fellow fans of the Vitamin String Quartet’s pop covers will certainly appreciate the wonderful talent here.

Of course, the creme de la creme of entertainment on the Koningsdam is found in the World Stage. The main theater has broadened the use of video screens as merely a stage backdrop to the entire room as they engulf the audience in 270 feet worth of floor-to-ceiling high-resolution displays that also encircle 270-degrees of the venue. What’s more, the seating is cleverly arranged in a circular radius from the stage-in-the-round so that musical performances can be enjoyed from all angles. The theater is smaller than previous iterations, and showtimes are offered three times, up from two, to accommodate all spectators on the larger ship.

READ MORE: What You Need to Know About Holland America’s New MS Koningsdam

Sets and props are sparse as the screen does most of the mood-setting with kinetic backdrops plus surround sound that engulf and activate the theater space. Live singing and dancing performances remain engaging, and even aerial acrobatics are a focal point. The international “One World,” is a wonderful production show that featured a creative collection of numbers that varied from Enya’s “Orinoco Flow” to Eric Clapton’s “Change the World.” The featured female singer, in particular, has a delightfully sweet voice that penetrates all the audio and visual effects to hold its own. Kudos to the entertainment team for pairing high technology with talent to match.

In short, this is not your grandfather’s Holland America Line, but it will continue to appeal to loyalists and should intrigue newcomers as well.

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