This was our third Holland America cruise and our first on ms Nieuw Amsterdam. We were on a 14 day collector cruise which basically is a 7 day cruise and then back to Fort Lauderdale to change some passengers for a second 7 day cruise.
We booked the cruise with Holland America and then transferred the booking to Vacations to Go to take advantage of their on-board credit. On arrival in our stateroom our on-board credit was confirmed in the form of a welcome gift from vacations to Go. Our stateroom was guaranteed as N we were more than pleased with the one assigned. It was on deck 4 just one above the Promenade deck and gave easy access to the dining room and entertainment and presentation areas, most of which were on decks 2 and 3.
The cabin stewards were excellent and immediately brought us an ice bucket for the champagne we had brought on board to celebrate my wife's birthday. We also were able to store the rest of the wine we brought on board in the seat in front of the desk which kept it out of the way, battened down and easily accessible. Because Holland America allow passengers to bring wine on board we have fallen into the habit of having a "wine" hour just before dinner.
The stateroom was roomy enough and well appointed. Plus, it was spotless with lots of closet space and plenty of room to store empty suitcases. Of course, my wife does a three week trip with only a carry on bag so there was not a lot to store.
We always book the early seating for dinner which leaves the option of using open or fixed seating. In this case, for the first week we ate alone and for the second week we had very pleasant dinner companions. we also met some very nice people on board and the overall cruise experience was excellent from that point of view.
The food and service at dinner could not be better. Menu choices were always numerous and included Escargot's which I have eaten in numerous places around the world but never better than here. The formal dinners step up the choice and quality.
Entertainment was good to excellent. Excellent was Cantare, consisting of four male singers who were in a class by themselves. Everyone on board that we spoke to thought their show was exceptional. The dancing, when it was available was also spectacular. Andy James, a magician was excellent.
As much as we love Holland America and will continue to look to them first for our cruise choices, there were some things which didn't work as well as we would have liked.
We had done a Collector Cruise last year and this was our second and last booking for this type of cruise. the entertainment and meals were repeated each week and, while Cantare was worth a second look, seeing a magician doing the same tricks doesn't work that well. On previous cruises I believe entertainers were transferred between Holland America ships enroute and, if so, this certainly allows them to change things up. The menu for week two was virtually the menu from week one. On the positive side you could order things you missed the first time or reorder things you really enjoyed but on the negative side - it was the same menu. As well, both cruises went to Grand Turk.
There were a lot of children on the first week (about 300) and there seemed to be little parental supervision late at night. It was a little disturbing seeing young children at a late night adult comedy show or sleeping on couches in the bar while their parents partied beside them. I am not sure what the answer is but it was uncomfortable in many cases.
We went to Half Moom Key (the Holland America island in the Bahamas), but we ddin't go ashore. Grand Turk has a great beach just off the ship and is a great place to spend the day. San Juan, Puerto Rico is one of our favorite stops as is St. Marten. Not too excited about Costa Maya Mexico though.
Holland America rates 9 out of 10 in our book and we will cruise with them again, just not on a Collector Cruise.