Oct 2011

Cruise Diary: Pianist Michael Sara

Submitted by: Jan Hinman

Jan Hinman, a travel writer based in Seattle, Wash, recently sailed on Eurodam from Quebec City to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and sent in cruise diaries throughout her time on board. Enjoy!

The Piano Bar was the happening place on my recent cruise on ms Eurodam. The pianist/singer Michael Sara, packed in the crowds every evening and quickly built a loyal following. Guests were arriving a half-hour or more before the singing began to secure a prime seat around the piano. Before the evenings ended, there was standing room only, and guests sang and danced to Michael’s great renditions of all-time favorites.

Michael never took a break. He played, sang and bantered with the crowd from the moment he sat down at the piano until the last song faded away. I chatted with him one afternoon and asked where he got the stamina to play and sing for so many hours. “I want to make people happy, so I just keep playing,” he said. He certainly pleased the guests on my recent cruise.

Piano man Michael Sara in the Piano Bar.

Piano man Michael Sara in the Piano Bar.

“I try to make people welcome from the first day,” he told me. By the second or third evening, Michael was getting to know the names of his regulars, where they were from and whether or not they were celebrating anything special on their cruise. He played “our song” for newlyweds and offered birthday greetings when appropriate. The guests loved it.

Each night had a theme. After warming up on some general fun songs, Michael moved on to the theme of the evening, playing songs from the ‘50s one night, Elvis songs another evening, Motown tunes a third. Whatever the theme, the lively Piano Bar crowd joined in and belted out the tunes. Michael said he spent 20 years in Vegas as a musical director for a number of entertainers before he decided he wanted to do the entertaining himself. He joined Holland America Line three years ago and has been on ms Zuiderdam and ms Rotterdam in addition to Eurodam.

Michael Sara never took a break as he packed the Piano Bar on Eurodam with loyal fans.

Michael Sara never took a break as he packed the Piano Bar on Eurodam with loyal fans.

Jan Hinman


Jan Hinman is a freelance writer and former newspaper journalist traveling on a retirement trip with her daughter, Julie, an amateur photographer.


  1. We had the “pleasure” of seeing Michael Feb of 2011. I would also like to know how to get his schedule for next year (2013). What a wonderful entertainer!

  2. We just finished a cruise on the Niew Amsterdam and really enjoyed Michael Sara… the pianoman. I cannot recall the exact dates, but he mentioned that after his gig on the NA, he would be in Vegas for 3 weeks, followed by 6 months on the Eurodam, another 3 weeks in Vegas, followed by another 6 months on the Veendam.

  3. Michael Sara is currently on Nieuw Amsterdam, and he says he will be on board until mid-December 2012.

  4. With entertainers like Michael there is no use to “shop” elsewhere in my opinion. Keep up the good work and do not forget to use the one size fits all gift.

  5. We have just finished a cruise on Neuw Amsterdam and thought Michael was brilliant. Looked forward to his show every night

  6. My sister and I just left the Nieuw Amsterdam in Venice on August 23rd and we really missed our evenings at the Piano Bar listening to Michael Sara. If you read these Michael, we loved the way you and little old Betsy reacted….I met her and she is your no. 1 fan of all time. I am second, and yes I did buy your CD’s.
    A superb entertainer!!!!

  7. I also was on the transatlantic and mediterrean cruise in April with Michael Sara. He is an amazing entertainer. I did find out his schedule from the music department. It is as follows, Nieuw Amsterdam returns to Fort Lauderdale 11/11/12 and then starts the Western Caribbean cruises until 12/16/12. He goes on vacation to Las Vegas until January 12, 2013 where he will be on the Eurodam until 7/20/13. Then he goes on the Oosterdam after vacation sometime in August until 10/27/13. We love you Michael and hope to see you soon. Love from The Villages.

  8. Wij hebben in September met de Nieuw Amsterdam een cruise gemaakt.Wat hebben we genoten van Michael Sara in de pianobar.die man weet hoe hij de mensen moet vermaken.Een echte,,SHOWMAN,,De HAL mag deze man in ere houden.Hij speelde van 21.00 uur tot 24.00.00 uur aan een stuk door zonder pauze.We hebben in de 21 dagen dat we aan boord waren in de queens lounch na 22.00 uur geen man gezien.Alle lof voor MICHAEL SARA op de Nieuw Amsterdam.Cornelis en Elsie.

  9. We were regulars in the Piano Bar on the Nieuw Amsterdam from Sept 23-Oct. 6, enjoying Michael Sara’s music and delightful conversation as we relaxed after full days on our wonderful cruise from Barcelona to Venice. Now that we are back in Ottawa, Canada the CD’s we purchased add to our trip memories. Thank you, Michael, for all the fun!

  10. Wow, I will miss him on the Niew Amsterdam in December. We will be getting on when he is getting off the boat. Too bad, we had a great time with him and his wife on the Noordam last year. Great talent!
    I hope he reads this…call me!

  11. We were on the Nieuw Amsterdam in Oct 2012 in/out Venice. Thoroughly enjoyed Michael Sara. He is the best entertainer we have heard on HAL – after 15 cruises.

  12. Oh…in case he reads these comments. He would sound marvelous on the song, “Yesterday Just Passed My Way Again.” :) Hope to hear him again on another HAL cruise.

  13. Hi Michael,

    So glad we have your schedule for the next year. We’ll try to book a cruise where you will be performing. We were on the Eurodam in August 2011 and you were our highlight of the evening.

  14. Hi Michael,

    How are you? What ship are you on? We are thinking of taking another cruise and want to know where you are? Maybe we can cruise with you again soon.

    Take care,
    Alice and Robert Shapiro

  15. Would like to know if Michael will be on a ship for the Christmas cruise this year… Cruised with him Christmas 2011 and would like to do it again, wonderful entertainer, we were named the Rockettes !!! Mary Parsons

  16. Just got off the Eurodam on Saturday for a week in the Caribbean. My wife and I spent every night in the Piano bar from 9 to 12 and enjoyed his entertainment alot. This is the second time cruising with Michael and I hope that we hook up again. He was one of the highlights of the trip Dave and Michelle

  17. My first HAL piano bar experience in 2002 on Maasdam was wonderful — lots of people singing all evening and standing room only from beginning to end, agood time had by all. My next two, 2006 on Westerdam and 2011 on Veendam weere terrible sit and listen situations that were also mostly empty. It would be helpful if HAL would make available the schedules of their piano bar entertainer. Those of us looking for group singing party could then know which cruises that experience will be available on. Had I known what experience awaited me in the Veendam and Westerdam piano bar I might have planned a different cruise and been much happier with HAL’s management.

    It sounds like Michael creates the experience that I’m looking for. For 2014 & 2015, when is he sailing and on what ships ?

  18. Please tell me what ship Michael will be performing on during the 2013 fall sailings. I just. Loved him on the Eurodam last April and before booking another cruise, I’d like to find out what ship he will be on inNov and Dec.

  19. We also love Michael, have cruised with him many times. We are cruising on the Eurodam the week of 12/29/13, will he be on board?

  20. Michael Sara fans, here is his schedule:
    Currently on Oosterdam until January 5
    Zuiderdam 2/14 – 3/28/14
    Noordam 4/4 – 11/24

    If you sail with him, snap some photos and send them into the blog!

    HAB editor

  21. We just got back from an Alaskan Cruise and the highlight of the entire Cruise was Michael playing every night in the piano bar….my husband and I loved it. Hope HAL publishes his schedule as it would be fun to catch him again on another cruise.

  22. Hi Sheila, thanks for the kudos for Michael. We’ve had a few requests so we do have his schedule: he’s currently on Oosterdam until January 5;
    Zuiderdam 2/14 – 3/28/14; Noordam 4/4 – 11/24. Happy cruising! Julie, HAB editor

  23. We just completed a wonderful 2 week cruise on the HAL Oosterdam from Sydney to Auckland
    and were thrilled to have Michael at the piano every night. He was our favorite entertainment
    as he sang all our old favorites going back into the 50′s. He has them from Louie Prima & Keeley Smith to Elvis to the Rat Pack and so much more !
    He sang our requests and was very friendly to all. “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” around this guy.
    He is fantastic !

  24. We have just returned home from our cruise on The Oosterdam Sydney to Auckland we enjoyed the cruise which was our first one. But we really enjoyed our nights sitting in The Piano Bar while Michael played and sang our favourite songs including some Aussie ones. He is a great person and entertainer.

  25. We have just returned home from our cruise on The Oosterdam Sydney to Auckland we enjoyed the cruise which was our first one. But we also enjoyed our nights sitting in The Piano Bar while Miichael played and sang our favourite songs including some Aussie ones. He is a great person and entertainer.

  26. We not long ago completed a cruise from Seattle to Sydney on board Oosterdam and it took us a couple of days to find Michael and from there on we were in the piano bar every night. As the cruise was to Sydney Australia Michael found the time to get to know some of those songs of our own Peter Allen including “I still Call Australia Home” – “Tenterfield Saddler” – “I Go To Rio”. Keep up the good work Michael and we hope we can cruise again with you soon.
    Ron & Fay Spratt

  27. Michael Sara is a legend. HAL we hope you realise what a great entertainer you have in Michael. In October we travelled on the Oosterdam from Seattle to Sydney a 27 day trip, every night we were in the Piano Bar until stumps, how Michael manages to sing, play the piano and banter with the crowd for 3 hours, 7 nights a week for months on end heaven only knows. He is an inspiration, a wonderful entertainer and a beautiful person. Oh how we miss our nights with him. Rock on Michael we love you and now count you and Trish as very special friends.
    We hope on our next cruise we will find you sitting behind the Piano Bar @ 9.00pm.

  28. We are currently on the Oosterdam in New Zealand and are one of the first in and last to leave Michael Saras piano bar every night. What a talent. We are both learning to play piano in our late fifties and can appreciate what a true talent he is. Best entertainment on a cruise ship ever.

  29. Just had the pleasure of many nights singing along with Michael
    A credit to HAL as a draw card. His energy and range of tunes is amazing.
    We hope to see him in the future.

  30. We also spent hours each night engaged with Michael and his music on the recent Oosterdam cruise in the south pacific through Christmas and New year. What a delight! We all sang ourselves horse as we joined with a packed house watching Michael’s marvellous hands and distinctive captivating voice making music. He is an entertainer par excellence and we also hope Holland American line appreciates what a great asset they have in Michael. I guess he was the special highlight for us on what was our first cruise. For oldies who normally hit the sack at 10 pm staying awake until 11.30pm and more was a breeze! Keep it up Michael as long as the body and motivation allows you. You bring joy to many. Nev and Wenda Edwards, Australia

  31. Whoops……didn’t read the above before I posted the last request for Michael’s schedule. We will see you in September or October Michael. We sailed with you in 2011 and have been trying to find you ever since. Carma & Jim Mitchell

  32. Just got home , March 7 from Panama cruise . Hated to leave ship . We wanted to take Michael with us. Best entertainment aboard! Hope to enjoy his music and singing again on another cruise. He made the adventure more fun. Susan

  33. We agree 100% with Susan wich we do not know by the way.
    Micheal was great and gave us each night performance in warm atmosphere almost private.

  34. Michael Sara, at the Piano Bar, was my go-to destination almost every evening of the 33 day Mediterranean cruise on board Noordam, these last 5 weeks. He is due to continue on Noordam until early December 2014.

  35. Do you know what ship Michael Sara will be on after the Noordam, and what part of the world will he be cruising in? Interested in doing another cruise but would love to travel on the same ship. As he was such a great entertainer.


  36. Michael Sara, at the Piano Bar, was also my go-to destination every evening of my last two Mediterranean cruises on board Noordam, the last time we leaved the ship on 25 august 2014. Michael told us he’ll continue on the Noordam until December 2015. Unfortunately the Noordam shall not stay in the Mediterranean.

    Michael if you read this: Thanks for playing “Get Ready” and the Eagles songs “special for your friends from the Netherlands” and according to your own song: It was nice to be there with you”. Greetings from me and Jeannette to you and Bryan.

  37. We were regulars in the Piano Bar on the Nieuw Amsterdam some time ago and enjoyed Michael Sara’s music. We are thinking of going on a cruise on the Nordam in September 2015 and wondered on Michael’s possible Itinerary in 2015. He is such a great entertainer and it would add another dimension to the cruise if he were on board in the Piano Piano Bar.

    Thanks for the wonderful memories Micheal, and looking forward to the next time we meet. Next year I hope

  38. We recently did back-to-back cruises on the Noordam (Nov 13 – Dec 4 2014). Michael Sara was at the piano bar on the first cruise. Like said above, standing room only every night. He left for vacation at home in Las Vegas. He will return to the Noordam in January 2015 for a 1 year contract.

  39. Michael………..It was wonderful spending each night with you, again, on the Noordam this January. We were happy to find you again after searching for you for so long. Have played your new CD over and over and love it……..especially songs 1,3,4,5 & 6. You are a huge talent! Can’t wait for the next cruise. Carma

  40. What a clever man you are Michael, you have that special talent to entertain which musicians don’t generally have. It’s a gift. Recently cruised Alaska in early September with The Noordam and you in the piano bar, packed every night. It was a hoot every night. If you ever left the ship when it docks in Sydney on October 25th is year, you would have an Aussie welcoming committee!!!! Thanks for making that cruise such a special experience.

  41. Had pleasure seeing Michael on Noordam up until 25.10.2015. Great all round entertainer.Thoroughly enjoyed his shows.
    Thanks Michael and Holland America Line.

  42. We are wondering what ship Michael Sara will be entertaining on in 2016 as we were on the Oosterdam in 2013 and enjoyed our cruise even more each night in the piano room with Michael he is a great entertainer.

  43. What an entertainer! I so enjoyed the nights at the Piano Bar when cruising to New Zealand and back on the Noordam November 2015. Thank you Michael!

  44. My lady friend and I have had the pleasure cruising on the Noordam and experienced the pleasure of Micheal Saras piano bar renditions of past songs and his ability on the piano.
    It’s a pity I can’t get a cd of this talented guy.
    .He desives better recognition in the world of entertainment. He is a great asset of Holland America Line

  45. I want to take a cruise in may and would like to see Michael Sara one man show please let me know what ship he will be playing on. Thank you

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