The Nieuw Amsterdam was a very nice ship and most things of exceptional quality during the cruise. That being said I will first address the things we did not like. One of the biggest things we did not like about the ship was the Crows Nest. They placed the library in the front right side of the room and it took up a lot of nice lounge space that should be devoted to gatherings and evening music. People would pick up a book sit down in a chair and fall asleep leaving few spaces for people that wanted to gather in a group to visit, see the sites or enjoy music.
The second thing we did not like was the entertainment offered. In our opinion the only entertainment worth attending was the evening performances which were generally good to excellent. The lounge performances were a waste with the exception of Mat Murphy who had a nice voice and played an excellent range of songs. The problem we had was we could never listen to him because they had him playing in the Crows Nest from 5PM to 9 PM. This was during our early dining seating and we could never listen to him without giving up our dinner time.
The The third thing I would mention is our impression that Holland America has neglected customer satisfaction and is more about finding ways to squeeze every dollar they can from each guest. They constantly had someone trying to sell you a bottle of water, a drink or they were promoting some event that you had to pay for. They did not seem to schedule entertainment when people had time to attend. The biggest gripe we had abut the cruise was the Travel Advisor, Tom. When he was asked a question about a port he tried to discourage people from doing things on their own and tried to get them go book something through the ship. Things were always too hard, too far or too difficult. As an example, when we visited Santorini he told people it was dangerous riding the mules from the dock up to town. He made it sound like you were putting your life on the line by taking this mode of transportation and suggested that you take the ships overpriced excursions. On another occasion we asked him how far it was to walk to the train station and he told us it was a 40 minute walk. After we caught a bus we found out it was only three blocks and could be walked to in less than 10 minutes.
Now that the disappointments are covered, we had a wonderful cruise. All of the ports had interesting things to see and do. We opted to do things ourselves rather than through the boat and found that to be much more satisfactory. We usually saw more than the ships tours did, got there faster, stayed longer and had fewer people to wait on. With a little pre-planning and effort we always got to do more for less.
This is a port intensive cruise and we got little time to catch our breath but that is better than letting the ships crew try to entertain you.
The ships crew was great. They provided a comfortable pleasant atmosphere throughout the cruise.
Food on the trip was very good. There was always plenty of variety and the quality was generally pleasing. The cooks tended to overcook beef however I found that if I ordered it one level more rare than I really wanted it turned out great. I usually prefer medium but had to order medium rare to get the outcome I wanted. At the Lido buffet we enjoyed the theme meals offered in one section each day. They switched that section each day and featured a different country's food which we found enjoyable.