The University of Washington, Holland America Line, and the Seattle Men’s and Women’s Choruses

So you may be wondering what these three things have in common.

My partner sings with the Seattle Men’s Chorus and donates to the chorus (with a matching grant from his employer…thank you very much Century Link!).  The total donation is enough that he is in the Chorus’ Director’s Circle donor group.  One of the benefits of Director’s Circle membership is a luncheon held aboard a Holland America Line cruise ship while the ship is docked at the Port of Seattle.

Now you have the connection between Holland America Line and the Seattle Men’s Chorus.  But what about the University of Washington?  As we were driving to the luncheon last month, I asked Rick which ship we were going to be on.  He looks at the invitation.  “The Amsterdam.”

Well, what a coincidence!  My friend and carpool buddy (who also works at the University of Washington) retired in August and that’s the ship that I booked her on for her retirement cruise to Alaska!  Once we get on the ship, I leave a voicemail for Jean asking her to call me with her stateroom number so I can see if I can get pictures of her stateroom for her.

Unfortunately, she returned my call too late for me to actually get into her stateroom while it was being serviced, but I did manage to get some pictures around the stateroom as well as a number of pictures on the HAL Amsterdam.  Consider this blogpost a brief ship tour of the HAL Amsterdam.

Rick & I arrive at Pier 91 just in time to get through the health form submission, exchange our driver licenses for ship ID tags and get through security.  The Smith Cove Cruise Terminal has two berths for cruise ships so you do need to pay attention to terminal signage to identify which side of the terminal you enter for your cruise ship.

Cruise Terminal at Pier 91

We joined the holding pen in the terminal where we waited for about 20 minutes until our event host was ready to get us on board.  After having our ID’s scanned, we were welcomed on board.  Now in previous years, we were allowed to wander around the ship for awhile before the luncheon, but not this year!  We were shown directly to the La Fontaine dining room where the luncheon was held (as I’m desperately trying to remember Jean’s stateroom number hoping that we’ll walk by it on the way to the luncheon…all I remember is that she’s forward and directly under the Queen’s Lounge but at that point, don’t remember the deck number for either of those rooms).

First stop: La Fontaine Dining Room

First stop: La Fontaine Dining Room

La Fontaine Dining Room. Two floors with views on three sides

La Fontaine Dining Room. Two floors with views on three sides

The La Fontaine Dining Room is bright and airy, covering two floors with an atrium and staircase in the center of the space.  Because the dining room is broken up onto different levels, it doesn’t feel like one gigantic room but instead feels more like a series of smaller dining spaces.


Our Luncheon Menu

Our Luncheon Menu

We were served a set menu with our choice of entree.  I didn’t get a picture of the Berry Soup but it was a hit with Rick (who has more of a sweet tooth than i do).  Overall, the food was quite good and much better than the food I was served on a ship tour of the Golden Princess earlier this year.

Shrimp Cocktail

Shrimp Cocktail



Crunchy Fruit Napolean

Crunchy Fruit Napoleon

After the luncheon, we were directed to the Queen’s Lounge, the largest entertainment venue on board.

Queen's Lounge

Queen’s Lounge

The decor of the Queen’s Lounge (and of the ship in general) is maritime Art Deco (with some over the top touches) with many Dutch refereces in the decor.

Queen's Lounge Art Deco Lobby

Queen’s Lounge Art Deco Lobby

As we entered the lobby, we were handed a glass of champagne and directed to enter the theater.

Queen's Lounge Auditorium

Queen’s Lounge Auditorium

Although the venue seats 568 people, the space feels quite cozy with the seating being a mix of small couches and more traditional auditorium seating.  Cocktail tables make it easy to have a drink or a snack while watching the performance. There were performances by Sensible Shoes (the small ensemble of the Seattle Women’s Chorus), Captain Smartypants (the small ensemble of the Seattle Men’s Chorus) as well as performances by a number of individuals from the Choruses and a short tribute to Director Dennis Coleman (who will be retiring next year)

Sensible Shoes performing a song from the upcoming Seattle Women's Chorus concert

Sensible Shoes performing a song from the upcoming Seattle Women’s Chorus concert

During the performance, Jean returned my call with her stateroom number.  After the performance, we had about an hour on this ship before we were required to disembark.  So like a mad fool (poor Rick), I tried to see as much of the ship as I could.

First stop was Jean’s stateroom.  Unfortunately, it had already been serviced so I wasn’t able to take any interior pictures but I am pleased with the location.  I was able to get her a connecting stateroom with her sisters.  The exterior stateroom is close to the forward set of elevators and only a few steps away from the lower promenade deck (so Jean and her husband will have an oceanview across the deck and will easily be able to get outside to see that amazing Alaska scenery).

My Client's Stateroom

Jean’s Stateroom

Outside My Client's Stateroom

Outside Jean’s Stateroom

View From The Deck

View From The Deck

The nice thing about being located on the lower promenade is that it is less busy than the upper promenade (given the lifeboats hanging from the deck above).  It is quieter than staterooms off the upper promenade but still conveniently located to easily get out of the stateroom if there is a last minute announcement of a whale sighting.

So that's how the luggage gets to your stateroom

So that’s how the luggage gets to your stateroom

The more I learn about the cruise industry, the more I am amazed by the logistics.  Because we were onboard before and during embarkation, we saw a LOT of luggage carts getting loaded and coming through the halls.  Given the number of guests on some cruise ships, I’m always amazed by the level of service they’re able to provide. The Amsterdam has a total of 691 staterooms but it does not feel likely a massively huge ship.

Dutch Themed Decor on the Amsterdam

Dutch Themed Decor on the Amsterdam

This is an example of the Dutch theming that you see throughout the ship.  Personally, I find it to be a nice reminder of the origins of Holland America.


Explorations Cafe and Library

As a librarian, I always have to check out the library.  And I love the library on this ship.  It’s combined with a cafe so very convenient to get a coffee and cozy up with your favorite book.  The room is spacious with lots of comfortable furniture.  We chatted quite a bit with the librarian (who is from a suburb of Bucharest, Romania).  Overall, the crew members that we interacted with were all very pleasant and service-oriented.


As a librarian, one of my favorite indoor places to hang out on ship

But my favorite feature of the library were the cafe tables that had New York Times crossword puzzles underneath an acrylic tabletop.  You can ask for dry erase markers to do the crossword puzzle and then every night, the crew wipes them clean for the next day’s puzzle solvers.  What a genius idea!

Re-usable New York Times crossword puzzle

Re-usable New York Times crossword puzzle

The centerpiece of the main atrium space is this giant clock.  Called “Carillon and Planeto Astrolabium” this reproduction of a Flemish clock makes the main atrium seem monumental but cozy at the same time.

Atrium Clock

Atrium Clock

Atrium clock

Atrium clock

Neptune Pool. Looks like the crew is doing some maintenance while the ship is in port.

The Lido Pool. The crew is doing some maintenance while the ship is in port. Note the Norweign Cruise Line ship at the adjacent berth.

The last stop on our tour is the Lido Pool.  It is the largest of the three pools onboard the Amsterdam.

What I love about the Amsterdam is that it’s large enough to offer lots to do but small enough to feel intimate and not at all overwhelming.It offers a nice combination of tradition — from the elegant two-story restaurant to the lovely wraparound Promenade Decks lined with wooden deck chairs and perfect for sunset strolls.  In my free hour, I was only able to see a small portion of the ship, but just from this visit, I can tell it’s a ship I would enjoy sailing on.

Seattle skyline from the forward deck

Seattle skyline from the forward deck


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