We were on the Nieuw Amsterdam for 2 weeks on a collectors cruise, which is a lot like a back to back. Week 1 was Western Caribbean and week 2 was Eastern. There were two ports that repeated during this time, Half Moon Cay and Grand Turk.
I found the ship to be very large and at times confusing (just my bad sense of direction) but the decor was lovely and nicely done, including the Manhattan dinning room that so many seem to not like the red colors. Although we were on the lower dinning only and I never did get up to see the upper dinning area.
As for the food on this ship. With the exception of 2 times my eggs were not done to my liking (whoop de do!) and 1 steak that was really tough, I really like all that I got and feel a 5 star rating is applicable.
We happened to get the best of dinning stewards the first evening and also as a bonus were seated with the best couple that we hit it off and made that table our own even though we were in anytime dinning. We asked the Mater'd to lock down the early seating of that table for the 4 of us for every night of the cruise and he did! Made our evenings very enjoyable! Call out to the Banditos! Iwan and Pande were the best!
Casino was nicely situated but there was always a heavy cigarette smoke that not only was strong there but out in the hallway by the midships elevators. I know that other HAL ship I have been on had cigarette smoke in the casino but it usually just stayed in the casino and wasn't as strong.
The Lido was set up well and organized to the point that it made it easy to find the areas you would most frequently go to. Finding a seat was somewhat challenging at times but never impossible. The stewards there were great at bringing the coffee/tea and water around to the tables if you didn't want to get it yourself.
The public bathrooms were functional, but it reminded me of the trailer bathrooms we see at the fair grounds (only much cleaner!). Not as fancy as the Maasdam. Speaking of bathrooms, the one in the cabin was spacious enough. I found it interesting that they didn't use one inch of tile or grout. It was all molded fiberglass! Not fancy but functional. The sinks had a faucet that tried hard to be fancy but the spigot was position to make a mess all over the counter.
Pre Cruise transfer/hotel package. The service that was provided by the HAL representatives were wonderful. The bus was comfortable. The Hilton Marina has what I rate as a 3 star hotel who wants to be a 5. But it was clean and everything worked for the night of no sleep that was had. The beds hard and low to the ground which made for a difficult time getting in and out of it for me.
Embarkation was fast and quick. The rooms were ready when we got on board at 11 am.
Our cabin the first week was a huge disappointment. A VA with veranda. Less storage than the Maasdam's Veranda cabins and the beds were very hard. Not anything like the original HAL mattresses. The biggest disappointment was that in cabin 7094 there was a horrible burning smell that come to find out, is a KNOWN flaw in the ships design and the kitchen exhaust fumes leach out directly to this stateroom and at least one other stateroom. We were told that there is no fix that they can do because its under warranty still and they have to get the original ship builders to do it.
I would not recommend anyone booking this room or anywhere near it till they get that fix. It made both my hubby and I sick. After the front office skirted the issue for 4 days we finally got through to the supervisor who then told us we could sleep in another lower graded cabin 1094. This cabin was better on not making me sick from fumes but was not cleaned well or maintained well. It also had more space to store things, not that we packed anything to bring down with us. We only slept in that cabin. Our things remained in cabin 7094.
Also just so you know. 7094 is across from the stewards cleaning supply closet. It was very busy during morning and evening hours but quiet the rest of the time.
The second week we had cabin 8023 which was much better. No fumes, wonderful location and super stewards. It even had more storage space than 7094 had.
spa: on the last week we purchased the hydro spa package and used it everyday that week. Enjoyed it a lot and was a nice place to go to relax.
Entertainment was your everyday run of the mill cruise ship stuff with the exception of Cantera. This group of 4 male singers is so outstanding that we wondered why such talent was on a cruise ship! But surely do not miss them as they were worth us seeing the second week as well. None of the other shows drew us in after seeing them the first time. But to be fair, the production of Garage was pretty good too because it had all the Cantera boys in it too.
Disembarkation: only problem was that HAL lost track of one of our bags and it took them an hour to find it which made us miss our bus to the hotel. But it was found eventually in a cart out on the dock along with some others missing bags. The HAL representatives again were great with staying with us till the bus could come back for us.
Again the star rating was for the problems we had the first week since it was not consistent the second week.
We took a HAL excursion to see the Mayan ruins that were about an hours drive. The bus was comfortable. The tour was great and the site was well maintained.
Another port set up for tourist. We just walked around the shops and watched the dolphins for a while.
We did not schedule any excusions either time that we went there. The port has alot of shops near by and was basically set up for the cruise ships. We did get a taxi to take us to 7 mile beach for $5pp and we then had to pay another $20 for two lounge chairs and an umbrella. Caught a taxi back for another $10, but this time the taxi was a van and every seat was overloaded with tourist going back. I think the HAL was offering this excursion for the same amount but less time on the beach than what we spent there.