Onboard Rotterdam: Two New Roles for Arts & Crafts, Sports

Dutch Post-Impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh painted "The Starry Night" in 1889. Famed for its bold flashes of zesty blue sky, yellow and white touches, the masterpiece reflected what he’d seen just before dawn in looking out from a window to the Saint-Remy-de-Provence countryside of France.

Thanks to a new arts class on Holland America Line’s flagship Rotterdam (in which Travel Agent is sailing across the Atlantic Ocean this week), we similarly labored to create our own version of that masterpiece. Well, let’s just say our painting was much more elementary, perfunctory and certainly painted with less skill and talent, but it was created out of a hefty dose of artistic enthusiasm.

We completed the two-hour art class feeling as though we’d accomplished something. Simply put, it was a fun sea day activity.

New Arts & Crafts Director

In March 2023, all Holland America ships gained two new team members: An arts and crafts director and a sports director.

Our arts and crafts director—who hailed from Peru—greeted us warmly as we entered Exploration Central. Within one area of that popular gathering spot, blank canvases were set up on easels on a series of tables. Paint gobs had been applied to a paper positioned at each easel. Brushes stood ready, as did a large bottle of water for cleansing those brushes.

We grabbed a seat and, presto, led by the ship's new arts and crafts director, we were soon covering the canvas with blue sky. Later on, we added the shape of a bottle, depictions of fireflies and myriad starbursts.

Step-by-step Instruction also was provided by a video played on a huge flat-screen TV. Our arts and crafts director nicely stopped the video, though, at various times to offer additional guidance and instruction. She’d often walk around and look at what we’d completed—or not. She kept the arts class moving, but also didn’t rush novices to complete the project.

We have to say that we were happy to gaze at the outcome—both our canvas and the results of others. We're not sure any (certainly not ours) were masterpieces, but everyone seemed to be having fun. 

What else will your clients find aboard with the greater arts and crafts focus? Among the other programming offered this past week were these sessions: "Coloring for Adults” with images created specifically for Holland America, plus “Origami Folding,” “Creating Designs from Doodles,” “Adventures with Water Color” and “The Art of Flower Arranging.”

Many of the activities are complimentary for guests. A few, such as a “Guided Painting Class,” at $25 per person, carry a fee.  

Wild for Pickleball

Also just added to each Holland America ship's activity team is a sports director. That individual will handle pickleball instruction/activities, plus other sports fun.

Recently, the premium line was exclusively named as the official cruise line partner of Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) and it's committed to expanding its pickleball experience at sea for guests. All ships in the Holland America Line fleet now feature pickleball courts with top-deck views. These courts were refreshed earlier this year, which included adding new PPA Tour partner logos.

Rolling out fleet-wide are complimentary lessons offered by shipboard instructors (the sports directors) who will teach guests the rules and basics of playing pickleball. So, guests will learn where the “kitchen” is and what it means to hit a “dink” shot.

On embarkation day, guests can head for the dining room to sign up for pickleball court reservations. During one day on our cruise, we noticed a pickleball tournament in action. This week in a Q&A session, we asked the Rotterdam’s Captain Bas van Dreumel if he thought guests were really that excited about the addition of pickleball. He told us to show up on a Caribbean cruise at 8:30 a.m. and we’d see “50 people ready to go.”

For more information, visit www.hollandamerica.com.

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