I have to start by saying it makes me so angry when I read reviews about ships that I have personally sailed on and worked on most people need to get their facts straight before writing these reviews if you have nothing nice to say don't say it at all. If anyone ever says that Carnival Corporation has had an influence on Holland America line I promise you now it is sheer fabrication this Cruise line was purchased by Carnival Corporation nearly 25 years ago in 1989 it was only recently the industry as a whole has changed it has nothing to do with Carnival corporation, Carnival Cruise Lines is very much a separate entity from all of the cruise lines Carnival Corporation holds
This was a very affordable Cruise I have absolutely no complaints although there are some things I admit have changed over the years but it wasn't enough to even make a comment on board.
The embarkation process was extremely smooth it was fast and all representatives in the cruise terminal were extremely friendly and helpful.
I do not understand how Holland America is able to pull off the logistical nightmare that it must be to have every single state room ready upon embarkation. As promised my room was ready it was spotless regardless of what other Cruise critic reviewer say the staff works extremely hard to make sure every detail is taken care of.
I was in a category VA a verandah stateroom on deck seven aft cabin number 7092 an absolutely perfect location near the elevators only two decks down from the Lido easy walking distance to absolutely everything my cabin attendant was always very very friendly the room was always very very clean and yes they do have a lot of state rooms to clean however I do notice they do seem rushed and small details are missed, however the state room was always clean.
If you ever complain about the food on Holland America line you you must be very spoiled in your regular life. The food was always piping hot service was extremely fast in all of the venues especially the main dining room I will admit the presentation of the food did seem generic but that certainly did not sacrifice the quality or taste of the food. The absolute highlight of the dining experience on this cruise was the tamarind restaurant on deck 11 midship with amazing ocean views very friendly fast service and probably the best meal and especially the desert that I have had in a very long time worth every penny please note as of January the cost of this restaurant is going up to $20.
We also experienced the pinnacle grill on the first formal night of the cruise here the food again was absolutely flawless however the steak was not prepared the way we ordered but again not enough to warrant to comments on board the one huge disappointment I saw in the pinnacle grill was on a formal night they allowed guests to Bc Ted wearing Jean jackets Jean shorts and Hawaiian shirts this was appalling and the staff claim no matter what they say the guests will complain and get the staff in trouble, the hotel manager on this ship needs to take notes very quickly you may upset one or two guests not in formalwear but you are upsetting the entire restaurant when the dress code is not enforced.
The ports of call were all amazing half-moon cay of course flawless beaches perfect sunshine and the friendliness of the ship staff were there to serve you for lunch and in many of the bars.
Grand Cayman our second tender port again we had flawless weather enjoyed beach time on 7 mile Beach a quick five dollars taxi ride each way per person will take you there drop you off near one of the bars and restaurants so you can have a quick lunch and grab a drink while enjoying your time on the beach if you prefer a less crowded and more secluded beach you can simply hire the driver and he will find the perfect spot for you.
Cozumel Mexico of course one of my favorite ports we arrived at 11 AM sailed at 11 PM here the ships do not adjust to local time so the best piece of advice I can give is where a watch or do not change the phone all time on your cell phone to ensure you arrived back to the ship on time, so much shopping amazing restaurants and secluded beaches nearby I highly recommend any cruise with this port of call.
Our final port of call was Key West Florida we docked at the Navy pier here pedestrians are not allowed to cross the base so the cruise line offers a complimentary shuttle to Mallory Square near the other cruise ship. Virtually everything is within walking distance in this port of call we paid for the $20 hop on hop off trolley tour I feel we could have walked the same distance for free.
As for the entertainment Holland America usually locks in this department however I must say they have made vast improvements in the entertainment on board the production show was better than most I have seen on Holland America line ships granted it is still not the same caliber you will expect on other cruise lines the featured show was Recycled Percussion of America's got talent fame third runner-up on this show I was unsure how the typical Holland America guest would react to this show but this group of guys really knew how to play to their audience a wonderful addition to the fleet I look forward to seeing them on future cruises other fine entertainment on board I have to say was the piano bar, Greg was probably the best piano entertainer I have seen on any cruiseship, always willing to stay late play music and tell stories he was the reason we returned every night, I look forward to seeing him on other ships.
Another feat that Holland America seems to pull off is allowing guests to remain in their room on the final day of the cruise yet still have state rooms ready when guests embark the ship I do not know how they do this but it certainly made the embarkation and disembarkation process much more comfortable than other cruise lines.
Overall I will highly recommend Holland America line especially the Nieuw Amsterdam regardless of what others say the service was fantastic of course it was not perfect but you get what you pay for.