We sailed Jan 7 on the Nieuw Amsterdam with friends. The boarding process in Fort Lauderdale was seamless and quick (although it was a far walk from our hotel shuttle bus stop to the cruise reception desk) and as usual the greeters were keen and warm. WE used expedited disembarkation for the first time and LOVED it. Smooth, easy and quick!
Our cabin was ready immediately (11:30). While inconvenient, I appreciate Holland America's commitment to infection control as evidenced by not allowing serve yourself for the first two days of the cruise. Once again, serving the guests by minimizing the illness spread (especially this year with such high influenza rates)
I love this ship for the size (very walkable) and the quiet areas that you can find in public spaces for privacy.
We chose open dining and had a wonderful experience. We only had to wait once (formal night) and that was only about 15 minutes and we were provided a pager so we could wander about until our table was available. The food in the dining room was sensational - even better than our past cruises with HAL. I am gluten intolerant and they handled it extremely well - simple, no fuss, and lots of options.
We participated in the beer tasting and pub crawl, which were both brilliantly arranged and alot of fun! We would highly recommend both of these planned activities.
The front desk staff were helpful and clear. We chose not to attend the captain's lunch and a quick conversation had our HAL coasters sent to our room.
The piano man and comedian were the best we have experienced cruising....bonus points for both.
This cruise visited Grand Turk (great beach at the cruise pier dock), St. Martten (Orient Beach a hit as usual), San Juan (docked right in the wonderful old city to explore at will) and Half Moon Cay (such a great spot to walk, swim and rest).
Although the Nieuw Amsterdam does need a refresh (carpets in public spaces for example) we truly enjoyed this ship.