I recently visited Amsterdam with thanks to Holland America Line, to experience a weekend of arts, music, culture and food to celebrate their newest Pinnacle-class ship, Nieuw Statendam.
On arrival we spent the afternoon exploring the Rijksmuseum, which I hadn’t visited before and so was super excited about, especially as Rijksmuseum is marking the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death with the ‘Year of Rembrandt’.
The Rijksmuseum houses over one million artworks and can display upwards of 8,000 pieces at one time. This vast collection contains many masterpieces created by the likes of Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh. The museum also displays work from other lesser known artists.
We were able to do a special after hours tour with a guide which was amazing as I learned so much about the various paintings that we saw and actually was able to notice details which if the guide hadn’t told me about, would have just glossed over.
The Rijksmuseum is home to some incredible world-famous pieces, Rembrandt’s The Night Watch being one of them, as well as The Milkmaid by Vermeer, which I was also excited to see.
The Night Watch is an example of a very specific type of painting that was exclusive to the Northern Netherlands, with the majority being commissioned in the city of Amsterdam. It is a group portrait of a company of civic guardsmen who served as defenders of their cities. They would usually guard gates and police streets. I feel so grateful to have seen it without a massive crowd and truly spend time appreciating it.
Fun fact about ‘The Night Watch’ – The painting was not depicting a night scene at all; it actually takes place during the day.
The Milkmaid is a “kitchen piece”, a traditional type of Netherlandish art which combines both genre and still life painting. I feel like the lady has a bit of a Mona Lisa effect – what do you think?
Johannes Vermeer regularly captured daily activities usually with a focus on highlighting social divisions, and this is an example of one of them.
Other pieces that caught my eye was this Portrait of an African Man by Jan Mostaert, c. 1525 – c. 1530. It is thought to be the earliest known such painting of a black man in European painting.
There are just so many wonderful pieces to admire in the museum and so I would actually recommend spending a whole day here if you want to do it thoroughly, and definitely do it with a guide so you can learn about the main details and history of each painting.
The architecture of the building itself is also awe-inspiring with its high ceilings, details everywhere and superb design. I already want to go back to Amsterdam to spend more time browsing through the various exhibits.
After our time in the museum, we headed to Michelin starred restaurant Rijks for dinner, and what a treat it was – five delectable courses plus lots of other incredible additions.
If you are visiting Amsterdam and want something fabulous, I can’t recommend it enough! The bread is moreish and so is the butter that is served with it – I think we ordered it 3 times as we couldn’t just get enough of how good it was!
The next day, we spent time on the stunning Nieuw Statendam and were treated to some wonderful musical performances as well as got an indulgent taster of the gourmet cuisine available on the ship, as well as a tour of the ship to see all her amazing highlights. Fun fact, Oprah Winfrey is the ship’s godmother!
What struck me about this ship was the variety of things you could do while on a cruise from blending your own wine at BLEND by Chateau Ste. Michelle to simply relaxing by the pool and soaking up the sunshine on a good day. There is no chance of getting bored and you are more likely to leave the ship having learned something new or experienced something new.
Cruise ships are no longer a one size fits all strategy like they were in previous years – these days you can find a Cruise ship and itinerary with aspects thats suit your interest whether you are a foodie, arts and culture lover or are into live music. The ships themselves have an excellent layout and so you can always find a lovely spot to spend time even on a sea day.
There was a great variety on offer on this ship, especially for music and arts lovers, with a Music Walk®, featuring Lincoln Center Stage, Billboard Onboard, Rolling Stone Rock Room and B.B. King’s Blues Club.
There is also World Stage, a state-of-the-art theatre, so you can watch different performances and comedy shows.
It was a great eye opener for me on the different types of ships out there and further fuelled my desire to want to go on another cruise in the near future, having had my first experience on Holland America’s sister cruise line P&O Cruises a few years ago. You can go to so many wonderful destinations from Alaska to the Caribbean!
To find out more about Holland America Line visit their website here: https://www.hollandamerica.com
Have you been on a cruise? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below xx