My husband and I went on this cruise to celebrate our 20th anniversary and was well worth the 7 months we waited from the time we booked until the time we cruised. This was my 4th time sailing with HAL and I specifically chose their newest ship, the Nieuw Amsterdam. This ship was by far the most spotless ship I have ever had the pleasure of sailing. Anytime I saw a crew member cleaning I felt compelled to give him a thumbs up. We even ran into the Captain in the hall one evening and I relayed to him what a great job the crew was doing in keeping this ship sparkling.
Speaking of the Captain, I found him to be very personable. While I was waiting with another passenger in the spa, he happened to walk through and took a minute to greet us and ask if everything was going well. Not only was I pleasantly surprised to see him, I was even more surprised that he took a minute out of his time to acknowledge us.
We had an aft balcony cabin which was wonderful when we could breathe the air. Unfortunately, you never know who is going to be next to you or above or below you and it's the risk you take if you don't smoke. There was an additional "smoking" survey at the end of the cruise and it appears they may be considering a change to their smoking policy depending on the results.
The hallways are filled with old photos of New York and other HAL ships from different eras and we actually walked the halls of other decks looking at many of these pictures.
We thoroughly enjoyed the food in the Lido Buffet. It was much better than other HAL ships we've sailed so I'm hoping the other ships will be brought up to par. We never had any issues asking for an extra portion and I found all of the servers to be friendly and very willing to accommodate passenger requests. In the morning you can have an omelet freshly made and I was very impressed with the choice of ingredients, such as shrimp. For dinner we chose open seating and not once did we make reservations. We were taken right away and chose a few nights to share a table and a few nights to have a table for two. Again, our request was always met. We enjoyed meeting other guests and the servers we had always seemed to have a smile on their face. It did move a little slow at times, but we were never in a rush to be somewhere, so we enjoyed our leisurely dinner. We did dine in the Canaletto one evening (for which you do need reservations) and found it to be quite tasty (there is no additional fee for this).
The embarkation and disembarkation process was the smoothest we have ever had. HAL has their system down pat and it's evident by the ease in which it occurs.
Lastly, the entertainment was minimal. No fancy show-time reviews but a great comedian and comic magician kept us entertained. They did have some singers and dancers and did a tribute to NY one evening and that, too was entertaining.
All in all, we had a wonderful time and already booked our next cruise while still on this one.