This was my fourth Holland-America cruise among 14 overall cruises in the past 10 years. In the past, my experiences were generally favorable. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the 'Nieuw Amsterdam'. The embarkation turned disastrous, although it appears through no fault of Holland-America. The ship had arrived in the morning from Europe, during which time a number of passengers developed gastrointestinal virus. Therefore the ship needed to be cleaned and inspected by the Coast Guard, delaying boarding by several hours.
The first two nights we ran into some rough seas and wet weather, which didn't help to raise any one's spirits. Food was served by the crew in the Lido for the first few days. A good thing. As for the ship itself, I have been on 3 HAL Vista class ships previously, and despite the hype for the brand new "Nieuw Amsterdam', it was just more of the same basically. I don't know what it is about the design of these ships, but none of them seem to handle rough seas very well. I have been on many other cruise lines, and their ships never seemed to rock quite as much.
The interior design of the ship was nice overall, easy to maneuver if you're familiar with other Vista class ships. As for the trumped-up hype for the New York City theme, there was little to make such a impression. A crystal chandelier in the main atrium depicts famous NYC buildings.
Throughout the corridors leading to staterooms, there are numerous vintage black and white framed photos of older HAL ships, though not high quality reproductions. They looked more as if they were mass produced on low quality paper and randomly scattered. That was it for the NYC atmosphere.
The Manhattan dining room had no feel of the Big Apple, just a lot of red paint, reminiscent of a Chinese restaurant.
I have to admit that the service of the wait staff, and the front desk personnel, was always friendly and professional.
The quality of the food overall was good, however the As-You-Wish seating left a lot to be desired when it came to serving food in a timely manner. This needs to be improved greatly.
Lastly, the entertainment, even for HAL standards, was mediocre at best. The production numbers were extremely dated and uninspired. The shows were way over amplified to the point it was not enjoyable. The only show that had any sense of originality or warmth was the HAL veteran Barnaby, a juggler who blends juggling skills with humor and personal stories. The Cruise Director Shane, had all the enthusiasm and excitement of a stone. When your passengers average age is 60 and over, it would be nice to have a Cruise Director with some life and vitality.
In closing, I had high anticipation for this cruise, but in the end found it average at best. I wouldn't say it killed my desire to ever cruise again, but it will be a while before I board another cruise ship. And it definitely won't be with Holland-America.