A part of the cruise experience is also before the voyage, where one looks forward, is excited, and prepares for the trip.
Even after 75 cruises, the excitement and expectations to the coming vacation has not diminished. We have more experience, and are quite prepared and realistic about to what to expect, so now it is up to the ship, the crew, and fellow-passengers if our expectations will be met.
As part of our preparations, we are happy to be get to "know" our fellow passengers through Cruise Critics "Roll Call" and signing in for "Meet and Greet" onbord. I highly recommend that everybody takes advantage of this. One gets good tips to the different ports of call - what to see and do, where to stay, etc.; info about the ship; and sometimes one can sign in for excursions organized by fellow passengers.
The day finally arrives for check-in in Barcelona. We have never before experienced to come in to the check-in counters without a line or a lot of people waiting for their turn. Check-in went smoothly even if the ship was fully booked. It was perfect --no stress, and everything went very fast and without a hitch. It was a good start!
We got a good outside (handicap) cabin on the main deck (1082), which we were quite happy with.Two of our friends got cabins on the 6th deck, and they complained about vibrations during the first few nights. We didn't feel anything.
Since we have earlier cruised with the sistership, Eurodam, the ship looked very familiar to us. Still, it was a joy to walk around to see the interior, the works of art and the common areas.
A beautiful ship!
Our expecations were met as we compare her with her sistership, Eurodam.
Expectations on the food were also met. Consistently quite good.
The specialty restaurant, Pinnacle Grill, is more airy and open on Nieuw Amsterdam, and the impression is more roomy.
The food was a bit better than on the Eurodam. It could also be because we were very well looked after by a very good and professional waiter, Kim.
Preparation of the lobster-soup at the table, as well as tranchÃ¨ and flambÃ¨ of dishes.
As we also "ate" with our eyes, the presentation was impressive.
We've always given top points to Tamarind, and we do so again this time.
Everybody who likes "new asian cuisine" should indulge in the $15 cover charge.
Dim-sum lunch is free, but should be pre-booked as the place is always full.
The Italian restaurant, Canaletto, was also up to standard. $10 extra here too.
There were plenty of interesting and educational activities and lectures onboard Holland America Line -- from easy to learn cooking classes, barmixing, tai-chi, computer classes, flower arrangement courses and lectures. This time the lectures did not interest us so much, but there were certainly a lot of other activities to choose from.
Fantastic entertainment fra pianoman, Michael Sara. Such a talented and popular entertainer had the Piano Bar jam-packed every evening. One night he entertained us at the Queens Lounge (bigger venue), and the place was still full and the mood hot and lively -- in contrast to the other evenings where they had the band Halcats who played for only a handfull of guests.
Good dancemusic as well at the Ocean Bar where a trio played evergreens and dansemusic that suited their audience. I say played, - because we heard that they were going to be replaced by an orchestra in December. It's sad because the orchestra Halcats in the Queens lounge, who were also talented musicians, were not able to find the "right tone" with the ships clientele, and therefore, we can only say that they were okay.
Another musician that it not go well with the ships guests was the guitarist at the Explorer lounge. He would be better suited in a Carneval ship with a younger crowd, but absolutely not on the Nieuw Amsterdam.
We also heard that the chamber music quartet would be replaced. This is too bad because we saw, every evening, that many sat and enjoyed their music.
Service was on the whole good, but not that personal, which is probably because of the language barrier for many of the Indonesian dining room staff. We noticed that the Filipino crew did not have the same language problem, and therefore our impression is that they had a more personal touch in the service they extended.
They even remembered our names and were very friendly.
Holland America Lines has a higher standard than the "normal" cruiselines. Their product is good, service is commendable, the ships are clean and well maintained, and they give you good value for money.
We heard some guests who compared the food and total product with smaller ships with a higher foodbudget and service standard. However, these are ships where one pays almost double, and therefore it will not be right to match up.
It would not be fair to compare a cruise which is cheaper than a cruise that costs twice as much. One can only expect so much from what one has paid for.
Regards from Norway,
Morton Salt + Pepper