Exploring Accessible Adventures: From Historic Ships to Seas - Ken and Cheryl's Journey

Feb 02, 2024

First post of the series

A Leisurely Stroll & Cruise Embarkation:

From Hilton to Holland America Koningsdam As the sun began to paint the sky on a beautiful morning, Cheryl and I peered out from our breakfast spot at the Hilton Homewood Suites Bayside, the Holland America Koningsdam ship in sight, seemingly inviting us for an adventure. Inspired by the serene setting, we decided to walk to the port, embracing the journey ahead.

The Scenic Route to the Port

The hotel clerk estimated our walk to be a brief ten minutes. However, we were not in any rush, choosing instead to soak in the picturesque San Diego waterfront. Our path from the hotel to the port was not only accessible but also an opportunity to capture the essence of our surroundings on camera.

With Cheryl navigating her Whill Model F scooter, equipped with an action camera, and me managing our luggage, we embarked on our mini-adventure. Our stroll was a blend of calm waters, gentle sailboats, and the bustling docks, each step revealing a new sight.

A highlight was the San Diego Maritime Museum, a treasure trove of vessels with varying degrees of accessibility. Although we admired a submarine from a distance, its depths remained a mystery, reserved for another visit.

The USS Dolphin was a remarkable vessel known for its deep-diving capabilities, holding the record for the deepest dive by an operating submarine. Throughout its nearly 40-year career, the Dolphin was at the forefront of undersea naval research, contributing to numerous scientific and military achievements, including the development of a Laser Imaging system and the first successful submarine test of the BQS-15 sonar system. It was decommissioned in 2007 and now serves as a museum ship in San Diego Bay, offering a glimpse into the life and technology of submarinersā€‹

The Star of India, an iron-hulled sailing ship built in 1863, is the world's oldest active sailing ship. Initially named Euterpe, it underwent numerous voyages around the world, including passenger and freight transport to New Zealand and later, as a salmon hauler from Alaska to California. Sold to the Alaska Packers' Association in 1901 and renamed Star of India, it made regular trips to the Bering Sea. Restored in 1957, it now serves as a museum ship at the San Diego Maritime Museum, sailing at least once a year and hosting educational toursā€‹

The Check-In Ordeal

Upon arriving at the port, our anticipation met with the reality of a tedious check-in process under the harsh San Diego sun. The long wait, especially for those who were not 4 or 5 star status, compounded by the absence of shade or water, tested our patience, especially among the primarily senior crowd. The journey continued inside the terminal, where the situation improved slightly with fans offering a respite as we navigated through security to board the ship.

Culinary Highlights Aboard the Holland America Koningsdam

Transitioning from our day’s adventures to the culinary journey aboard the Holland America Koningsdam was seamless and savory. Our first dining experience set the tone for the gourmet escapade that awaited us on this cruise. With the dining room's elegant ambiance, each dish was not just a meal but a discovery of flavors and presentation, perfectly complemented by photos and descriptions that we're thrilled to share.

Tomato Bisque

Cheryl’s choice of Tomato Bisque was a warm embrace in a bowl, its creamy texture and rich tomato flavor accented with a hint of basil, a classic comfort dish reimagined. Her main course, the Special Macaroni and Cheese, was a luxurious version of the beloved dish, featuring a blend of premium cheeses and a crispy breadcrumb topping, making it a gourmet twist on a homey classic.

On my side of the table, the culinary adventure began with a Burger and Fries, far from ordinary. The burger, a juicy and flavorful patty, was layered with gourmet toppings on a freshly baked bun, each bite a testament to the chef's attention to detail. The fries, golden and crisp, were the perfect accompaniment, seasoned to perfection.

For dinner, the culinary artistry continued. Cheryl savored the Green Chili Corn Chowder, a harmonious blend of sweet corn and green chili, providing a gentle warmth and depth of flavor, beautifully presented and bursting with layers of taste. Her main, the Salmon with Capers and Dill, was a masterpiece of seafood cuisine, the salmon's delicate flesh flaking at the touch of the fork, enhanced by the tangy capers and fresh dill, a symphony of flavors.

Green Chili Corn Chowder

Salmon with Capers and Dill

In my quest for spice, the Habanero Shrimp Cocktail promised a kick. The shrimp, plump and succulent, were dressed in a habanero-infused cocktail sauce, offering a zesty start to the meal. The Fresh Mahi Mahi Diablo, while anticipated to be a fiery delight, was impeccably cooked, its flavors bold yet balanced, with a spice level that teased rather than overwhelmed, leaving us underwhelmed in the heat but not in taste.

Habanero Shrimp Cocktail 

Fresh Mahi Mahi Diablo,Fresh Mahi Mahi Diablo,

Fresh Mahi Mahi Diablo,

Our dining experiences aboard the Koningsdam were not just meals; they were culinary explorations, each dish telling its own story. Accompanied by photos of the menu and the beautifully presented dishes, we invite our readers to visually feast on these gastronomic delights, a testament to the culinary excellence that Holland America offers.

Our exploration of the ship was filled with discoveries, from the buffet to the Lido Deck, and Cheryl's favored puzzle spot in the Crow’s Nest. Our evening unfolded with the engaging "Origins" presentation, offering a deep dive into the history of Holland America and the evolution of transatlantic travel.


Post-Dinner Enchantment: A Night of Melodies and Memories

As the sun dipped below the horizon, casting a golden glow over the sea, our evening aboard the Holland America Koningsdam transitioned from a delightful dining experience to an array of post-dinner activities that promised to fill our night with entertainment and relaxation.

Our first stop was the Billboard Onboard, where the vibrant energy of dueling pianos awaited us. The talented pianists, with their fingers dancing across the keys, created an electrifying atmosphere, their repertoire spanning classic hits and contemporary favorites. The interactive nature of the performance, coupled with the pianists' witty banter, drew us and our fellow passengers into a shared experience of music and laughter. This lively session was not just a performance but a communal celebration of music, where every song played felt like a personal dedication.

After soaking in the lively tunes and engaging with the crowd, Cheryl and I decided to embrace the tranquility of the night in our own ways. Cheryl, ever the puzzle enthusiast, made her way to the Crow's Nest. This serene venue, with its panoramic views of the ocean at night, provided the perfect backdrop for her to piece together puzzles, a meditative activity that she finds both relaxing and fulfilling. The quiet click of puzzle pieces interlocking was a soothing counterpoint to the day's adventures, allowing Cheryl to unwind and reflect in peace.

Meanwhile, I had grand plans of channeling the day's inspirations into writing. The comfort of our cabin, with the gentle hum of the ship gliding through the water, seemed like an ideal setting for creativity to flourish. However, the day's excitement, combined with the rhythmic rocking of the ship, proved to be a lullaby too tempting to resist. Before I knew it, the call of the cozy bed and the lapping waves whispered me into a restful sleep, my writing intentions postponed by the embrace of dreams.

The ship, a vessel of adventure by day, transformed into a cradle of comfort by night, rocking gently as if to reassure us that tomorrow promises new discoveries and delights. Our first evening aboard the Koningsdam was a blend of vibrant entertainment and peaceful repose, setting the stage for the days to come. As we drifted off to sleep, the anticipation of what lay ahead filled our dreams with the promise of more stories to tell, more memories to make.

Thus concluded our first day aboard the Holland America Koningsdam, a day rich with experiences, flavors, and melodies. Stay tuned for more tales of our journey, where each day unfolds like a page in a book, inviting us to read on.