We boarded the Nieuw Amsterdam in Venice for a one-night port stay, which turned into two nights. Venice streets were basically under water from the high fall tides and nobody wanted to go back into the streets again so most just stayed on-board the extra night. The Captain announced at our sail-away party that a navigation circuit board had failed and since they cost $15,000 each they are not on-the-shelf. A German company vendor was contacted to make a new one and fly an engineer to Venice with the board. By now, all the passengers were making book on whether we would sail at all. Others were reviewing their cruise insurance documents. The board was delivered, installed and tested and we left - however the Captain said we would have to miss our first port of call - Spilt, Croatia. However he rewarded us with one glass of free wine and our account would be credited with the unspent port tax - $5.50 per person. An important, and well anticipated port, should have valued much more than a glass of wine.
The rest of the cruise was lovely. Lots of great late summer weather and calm seas. The new ship is lovely and the service superb. The beds were new and we slept like logs. We ate in the Manhatten Dining room most of the time. It was our 45th Anniversary celebration with another couple from Wisconsin. We wanted to try the specialy resturants, but wanted to view them before making reservations. In each case - Pinnacle Grill, Tamarind, Canaletto - the maitre d'hotel graciously and with all smiles reported that the tables were all booked. We tried phone reservations but all we could get was a voice message saying they were busy with other customers. We finally got a reservation at the Pinnacle Grill for the last night of the cruise. We overheard the next table commenting that they had eaten in the Pinnacle 6 times.
We kept going to the Tamarind reservations desk and finally got in at a 9:30 pm reservation. When we got there half the resturant was empty. Both restaurants were excellent and well appreciated. But we could never get into the Caneletto the entire 12 days. I suppose we could have booked prior to the cruise on the internet but until we saw the restaurant we hesitated. I have a feeling most of the reservations that were made prior to the cruise never showed up at dinner and thus the empty tables. A ship-wide reservation system needs to be put in place.
During the cruise - about day 6, a number of people were experiencing some sort of sickness. We heard over 40 were sickened from something and the ship quickly put a sick alert system in place. Every available waiter was stationed at every doorway into a food serving area and squirted Purell alcohol solutions on everyone. All food had to be handled by the waiter. No more china salt and pepper shakers - only paper packets on request. No more butter dishes on the table or sauce bottles. No more bread baskets to pass. 'Everything was handled by a server.