The embarkation process was smooth and we were able to board fairly quickly. We had booked a veranda and the room was ready soon after we ate lunch. As usual the cabin stewards introduced themselves and were quite friendly and helpful. Dinner that night was a the Lido which was fine. The next day was the first day at sea and the first formal night. We began getting the feeling that the waitstaff/servers were understaffed because it seemed to take an awful long time to get anything--pizza, a soda, a cocktail, etc. But formal night brought it to head--the line for those who had no reservations was terrible. We waited in line for about 40 minutes only to be told they had no table and they gave us beeper and said they would have something in 30 minutes. A full 40 minutes later, we inquired again and it seemed they had no record of our request and so they hastily sat us down. Service after that was almost non-existent for us and those around us. That was the experience we would have at every dinner--long waits to get seated and even longer waits to order and be served. I have to stress that the staff were very friendly and they certainly were working hard but they just wasn't enough crew to handle everyone. We also dined at Canaletto, which we discovered now has a $10 cover and we also booked a night at the Pinnacle for Le Cirque night--the $39 cover person was NOT worth it. The ambiance is great, the service very good but the menu is very limited--just 2 appetizer choices and perhaps 4 or 5 entree choices and neither of us cared at all for the food. We've done Pinnacle before and Le Cirque before but were disappointed this time.
The thermal suites in the spa were AMAZING! The ship has an awesome hydro pool. We visited the thermal suites/hydro pool every single day. That was money ($199 for two for the week) well spent.The mood of the crowd seemed rather quiet and so many of the rooms seemed underutilized. Many nights we would visit the Northern Lights dance club and there was not a single person there. There was no DJ in the Crows Nest and no dancing at all. On the Nieuw Amsterdam, we recall watching Sunday NFL games in the Queen's Lounge in front of a big screen. This time, the games were shown only at the Sports bar on small TV's and nothing was going on in the Queen's Lounge. We just got the feeling that most rooms were not being utilized to their full potential. Shopping seemed non-existent as the selection and scale of shops was far less than what we had experienced before. Also, our favorite bar, Mix was no where to be found on the Eurodam. The number and variety of activities throughout the day and evening also seemed sparse. Frankly, it was a bit boring compared to the other HAL cruises we've been on. Finally, the food was not that good in the main dining room and we were just really disappointed with it. I have to say that although the spa and great were great and the ship was beautiful, it was a dull cruise.