In January 2012, Culinary Operations Manager Darren Lewis and myself worked together on the Eurodam. We came up with a concept for the Cabana area on deck 11 forward of the ship. This area has 14 Cabanas that guests can rent throughout the day, but as the area is not used in the evening, they had an idea to once a cruise offer a Cabana Club dinner for a select number of guests. After several meetings that involved the beverage manager, assistant culinary manager and executive chef, the team came up with a menu as well as with a set up for the event. We then did a trial event the next cruise and right away got very good reception from the guests.
The whole Cabana area was transformed into a lounge area with comfortable seating and the private Cabanas were set up for the dinner. Guests were welcomed with a special cocktail and served delicious amuses and sushi, while relaxing in the comfortable seats under the enjoyment of lounge music. During the evening guests are served an array of different culinary delights as well as wines that are paired with the courses. To finish it off, guests are invited back to the comfortable seating for their dessert and coffee with after dinner drinks. Guests can sign up at various locations around the ship and the charge includes all drinks and food throughout the evening.
The event has turned out to be so successful that the Nieuw Amsterdam implemented it as well and during the current Mediterranean season, more or less every cruise the event has been fully booked. Both Signature ships now offer the Cabana Club dinner. When asking guests what they think of the event, various comments are received, such as “it is such an exclusive setting”, “what a way to have a romantic dinner under the stars”, “food and service is outstanding and a once in a lifetime experience”, “only Holland America does this, no other cruise line is this creative and inventive”. Darren and myself are currently working together again on the Nieuw Amsterdam and are already thinking of our next venture for the Cabana Club. We feel there is much more potential for the area during the evening, especially being one of the most beautiful spots on the ship.
Marco A. M. van Belleghem is Nieuw Amsterdam’s hotel director.