Various cruises with almost all major cruise lines.
Pre-cruise - Holiday Inn Express Ft. Lauderdale Convention Center
Perfect location near cruise port (walking distance).
Clean and spacious room for 4. The hotel looks like recently renovated.
Light breakfast included. Free transportation from the airport.
Hyatt Place Ft. Lauderdale Airport & Cruise Port
Clean and spacious room for 4.
Light breakfast included. Free transportation to the airport.
MS Nieuw Amsterdam
Immaculate condition after 3 years in service.
Classic cruise ship with the full list of amenities (full wrap-around promenade deck, front observation lounge, front observation decks, theater, gym, large sports court, hydropool & thermal suite, spacious sun decks, family pool area with sliding roof, aft pool area for adults with open sea views, panoramic glass elevators facing the sea).
No water slides, no climbing walls..
Space per person (footage)
Along with the sister ship MS Eurodam - the most spacious cruise ship at sea (considering the fact that the Queen Mary 2 is an ocean liner).
Main theme - Maritime History and Everything New York (originally founded as Nieuw Amsterdam).
Interiors - classy feel. Modern, elegant, subdued tones overall. More tempo, colors, contrast, chrome and glass where needed.
An outstanding detail - the atrium chandelier. What a bright idea! The chandelier is actually an abstract model of New York landmarks. The chandelier is rotating and changing its color.
An amazing idea that perfectly fits the whole theme (New York) and "holds" the ship's focal point (a relatively small atrium).
The theater - a tastefully appointed and well equipped showroom. Very substantial proscenium that can be extended forward (taking up the first row of seats). One of the most beautiful showrooms at sea (after the Cunarders).
Main Dining Room - two deck high with somewhat controversial component of Asian style rather than "Everything New York" (the chandeliers and prevalence of red color).
After a closer look at the MDR decor I found it quite interesting. It has lots and lots small details, unusual forms and unexpected reflections. It's like being in a huge kaleidoscope. Speaking of the restaurant, the whole setting is very elegant.
There was a long list of activities - much longer than this review.
We focus on sun and pools, promenade deck, sports facilities, hydropool, and of course dining.
Cruise time is short and precious. We are physically active and pretty much self-sufficient cruisers, so our vision of "service" is more general than "the state of being served" in it's "traditional" meaning.
As I mentioned before, the ship is full of great amenities that are designed to SERVE us.
So everything from a unique hydropool to a gorgeous promenade deck is SERVice for us, or "self-service" if you wish. All these features are at your fingertips on the Nieuw Amsterdam.
"Traditional" service deserved a simple word - Exceptional.
Our steward Endang was awesome.
So were our waiters in the MDR (early seating). Prompt service, no waiting.
We had a nice table for four near the window (requested in advance - good job by HAL).
Carina (Front Office) arranged an event for our child - he was granted a special attention from the Second Officer.
7-days Hydropool & Thermal Suite pass was purchased in advance as well.
We had a spacious inside cabin for 4 Category "J" on Deck 1.
Regular MDR menu includes 4 appetizers, 4 soups & salads, 7 main courses that change every day and 5 items available daily.
Selection of 14 cheeses is available every day (you can choose any four at a time).
Lido Buffet offers the best breakfast at sea . 10 kinds of juices including fresh fresh squeezed OJ.
Several kinds of eggs Benedict (I like the one with crab meat), smoked salmon, various fruits, waffles, crepes, omelets made to order, etc, etc...
For lunch we focused on various meats and sea food (scallops, shrimps, etc.), strawberries, pineapples.
Could not miss bread pudding with custard sauce.
The Nieuw Amsterdam offers proper afternoon tea ceremony in best maritime traditions.
It was served in MDR and once in Tamarind specialty restaurant.
We never have breakfast or lunch in MDR.
Junk food (pizza & burgers) was available near the pools.
I tried Stromboli - delicious.
Room service is complimentary with an extensive menu. We don't use room service on cruise ships.
Pinnacle Grille offered its regular menu and Special Events at Pinnacle Grill.
We were at Tamarind this time.
Excellent food, service and general setting.
Cantare - the highlight of the entertainment program. A wonderful performance. Saw them both times.
The Nieuw Amsterdam offers a luxury of live music on the main stage (theater) - another indication of a classy product.
Embarkation / Disembarkation
I don't rate it because in my opinion it says nothing about the ship itself.
Just for the rerecord - it was smooth and easy. No wait. We never check in our luggage and simply embark/disembark at the right time.
An excellent cruise on the one of the four best ships available in the Caribbean.
Two paradise islands (Grand Turk and Half Moon Cay), San Juan (we normally stay on the ship) and St. Thomas with a big surprise. The Nieuw Amsterdam was the only ship at St. Thomas that day! The third "private island" on the route.
We were almost the only guests at Paradise Point.
Magens Beach - there were more pelicans and iguanas than people there.
More information on ship's design and cabin location - with pictures, video, menus, etc. on my thread about HAL Signature class ships.