My partner and I were on the RSVP's Grand Mediterranean gay cruise on this ship which did a circle route from Barcelona to Tunis, Palermo, Civitavecchia, Livorno and Marseilles. It was our first cruise and therefore expect some superlatives.
We found the Nieuw Amsterdam to be luxurious, spacious and comfortable. The public spaces are grand without being garish or stand-offish! Loved the twirling Manhattan crystal skyline in the atrium. There are too many bars and lounges to mention. Don't think I saw half of them. But I think the one next to the gym would have been a favourite. Visited the gym quite a few times. It is small but adequate. Surely it has never been as busy as on this cruise. One had to work on those pecs. Liked the chilled towels. The duty-free shop is small. Liked the idea that for this cruise they changed their merchandise accordingly. The pool-areas and whirl pools were great fun and the eye-candy delicious. Although it was sometimes difficult to find a sun bed at the covered pool. Yes, passengers tend to mark their beds before leaving it for selfish reasons. The open pool at the back could be windy at times. But there is more space.
Had breakfast and late lunch always in the Lido restaurant. Was always spoiled for choice. In the evenings we went to the Manhattan restaurant. Preferred to eat our dinners here seeing that the buffet-overload of the Lido mesmerised me. Never had to wait long for a table and enjoyed the fact that we were not forced to dress up. Were grouped with wonderful guys from Dallas with whom we spent most of our dinners. Food was always exceptionally well prepared, tasty and beautifully presented. Had the most amazing lamb chops! And of course there are the pizza slices on the Lido deck at one o'clock in the morning - sounds cheap and nasty, but they were sumptuous.
We stayed in an inside-cabin towards the back of the boat. Loved the fact that we could unpack (there was enough space) our suitcases and make it our own for the week. The room and bathroom were well appointed and spacious enough. Liked the shower and the force of the water. Bed was comfortable. Pillows a bit puffy (!?). Never watched TV, way too much to do. Our room did not look like the picture/video on the promotional site. It was most probably smaller. Other critics complained about the movement of the ship; really had no problem.
Staff was extremely friendly and accommodating. Our cabin steward, Luki, was a star. It felt great in the evenings to return to your cabin and the beds were turned, the next day's programme and destination map were on it, together with chocolates and of course his own artistic flair - a folded towel in the shape of a swan, octopus, etc. complete with staring eyes.
Something about bar service: best to ask one of the 'walking' stewards because they will get your drink much quicker. Going to the bar can be a lengthy affair ... one almost feels invisible. But then this cruise was specifically very busy for the bar ... LOL. Remember that you can buy cards at the front desks - 45$ for the value of 50$ on any drinks, and 25$ for the value of 50$ on sodas. But the latter almost unnecessary seeing that coffee, tea, water, juice and ice tea were included. For dinner we found the house wine of great value and good fare at around 20$ a bottle. And remember the cocktail of the day, which is a dollar cheaper.
Shows were partly RSVP and partly the cruise's own. Only saw the Holland America's Cantare (ala Il Divo) four men ensemble who sang popera. It was a well-rehearsed and slick performance. Was quite impressed with the mechanics of the stage. Our greatest highlight was definitely the performances of Amy and Fred (two RSVP stalwarts) ... what an extraordinary talent! She works her audience like few I have seen. Furthermore we had some great late-night parties on the Lido deck ... was just difficult to get up the next morning LOL!
The ports - I will give a brief summary: Tunis - 'hot and bothered' (this was the only excursion we did, the others we did our own thing), Palermo - charming with its jaded grandeur, Rome - 'hot and bothered' and way too overpowering for a few hours visit, Pisa - the tower is indeed skew, Marseilles - wonderful views from the basilica on the hill, take the petite train! Have to say that those chilled towels and lemonade upon our return every day were heaven-sent. Thank you to Tom, the travel wizard, who always gave honest and valuable info and advice.
We had a great time and will for certain do it again! Thank you RSVP for an unforgettable experience!