We are seniors who winter in Florida. This was our 10th Cruise since February 2010 and our first with Holland America. We were hoping that the HAL Nieuw Amsterdam would be “the one” and it did not disappoint.
It was a two hour drive to Ft. Lauderdale. The Park and Go Parking Lot is secure and reasonable at $61.29 for 7 days parking. (You can get a Frequent Parker card.) We arrived at 10;30 am and the shuttle was ready to take us to the pier. We never touched our luggage – they handled it all. The return trip was just as easy.
Embarkation was a breeze. We were onboard before noon. The Holland American staff, with crisp uniforms and white gloves, ushered us to the correct elevator and to our room. Very impressive. The ship was beautifully decorated for Christmas and Catholic Mass was offered every day.
There was a nice mix of ages and even several well-behaved children aboard. It’s not just an “old folks” cruise line, as we had once thought.
We had a balcony on the 5th deck, mid ship. Our room had lots of storage, a bathtub/shower combo and a small dressing table. The loveseat/couch was a bit too cozy for 2 people and so I brought a chair in from the balcony. The bed was very, very comfortable! We had the air conditioning on all week as it was very hot and humid.
Service on board was excellent. The staff was always smiling and friendly. Room service was exceptional. The cheese and cracker plate was our favorite with a nice variety of imported cheeses.
We had 5:30 pm dining on the upper (3rd) level. Our table mates were a joy, as were so many others that we met during our trip. The food was very good. The lobster was not dried out (hooray!), the shrimp was tasty and the beef was tender. We didn’t eat at any of the Specialty restaurants, but will try the Pinnacle next time. (I hear the price just went up!) We ate breakfast and lunch in the dining room when available.
The Lido: It looks very nice, has comfortable chairs and real orchids on the tables. BUT …the long lines for food are not for me. Royal Caribbean has a much better design for its buffet. We had pizza once. RCI wins on that one too.
On Board Ship: We went to most of the theater shows and would rate them mediocre. The enrichment programs were wonderful. Flower arranging, cooking and the Microsoft Digital were just what I was looking for. I love to learn!
Excursions: We joined Crystal’s group and had the BEST day ever at the private Oasis on Half Moon Cay. Wonderful food, open bar, hot tub, floating in the ocean – a perfect day. In Cozumel, we had lunch at Poncho’s Backyard. We also bought Voltaren gel for our aches and pains at the Mexican pharmacy. In Key West,we took the trolley ride but should have signed up for the one through the ship, instead of on our own. We had several crying infants from the Disney Magic on our trolley and we couldn’t hear the narrator. We got off, waited half an hour and got on another trolley – still the same problem. Also, if it’s nice weather, I would suggest the train ride tour as it’s more open and much better for taking photos.
One negative is that sometimes the ship had a terrible vibration. I hope they get it fixed!
In summation, we rate this ship and cruise ELEGANT AND EXCELLENT!