After many years of sailing on another major cruise line, my wife and I elected to try Holland America again, specifically the latest member of the HAL fleet: the Nieuw Amsterdam. Embarkation and disembarkation at Terminal 21 in Port Everglades was a breeze. We arrived early, and disembarked fairly early which most likely helped both processes.
Our first observation after boarding was the size of our Navigation deck balcony. It was much larger than standard balconies on other cruise lines, particularly it's depth (distance from door to railing). We had plenty of room and sat there more often than on other cruises. We also liked the fact that although the Nieuw Amsterdam is the same length as other large ships, it accommodates only 2,100 passengers. We never encountered line-ups throughout the entire cruise. The only comment about our stateroom was the antiquated entertainment system. Sole (?) brand televisions (very cheap) which did not offer video on demand like other cruise lines. We had to go to Passenger Services on Deck 1 to obtain DVDs to watch movies (we are no longer in the 1990's, HAL). However, this was not a deal-breaker.
We loved the forward-facing Crow's Nest on Deck 11 which offered a great view while entering ports of call. The Internet Cafe and a specialty coffee center was also located in the Crow's Nest. Internet reception, while notoriously slow on cruise ships, was surprisingly faster than usual on this ship.
Breakfast in the Manhattan Dining Room, which we attended twice, was superb with a large selection of meals. The buffet on the Lido Deck was good, but not up to par with the selections offered on our former cruise line.
Our major disappointment of the entire cruise, however, was the Pinnacle Grill. While we no longer attend formal nights in order to keep packing to a minimum, we prefer instead to make reservations at specialty restaurants and enjoy the surf & turf. After paying almost $60.00, we were shocked to learn that HAL had taken lobster off it's Pinnacle Grill menu! Come now, you beancounters at HAL HQ in Seattle: why are you putting profit before customer preference? Needless to say, we will no longer be eating at the Pinnacle Grill on upcoming cruises.
Apart from this needless faux pas, we enjoyed our cruise and loved the ship. We look forward to our next cruise on the Zuiderdam in the fall.