We were excited about taking our first cruise on Holland America Cruise Line. Although we had heard that it was mainly for older people, we wanted to give it a try and found a very great rate for a balcony room. We were two married couples celebrating our wedding anniversaries.
Ship: Sadly to stay, Holland America's ship Nieuw Amsterdam did not meet our expectations. Compared to the ships we've been before, it is a conservative and smaller ship. Other than the NYC chandelier on the smallest atrium we have seen on a ship, it had nothing that visually could stand out or that you would remember.
Food: Most of the time was under seasoned, cold and the waiting time between courses on the Manhattan dining room was more than 20 minutes. The exception was the soups, always excellent and hot! Twice in the same dinner I had to return the food because I asked for a medium steak and they kept bringing me a well done overcooked steak. They got it right the third time after all the people in my party had finished eating their food. Not even in their specialty restaurant, The Pinnacle Grill, did they have it right. I got a bloody rare filet mignon instead of the medium filet that I had ordered. They charge $25 p/p on this "beef specialty" restaurant so the least you can expect is the steak to be perfect. On this particular sailing the food on the Lido buffet was always served by the waiters. You could not cater yourself for the food. Needless to say the portions were very controlled and we even thought that they were running out of food. The Tamarind was a very nice and different restaurant!
Service: Not as expected! The service at the restaurants was terrible. We were left unattended most of the time with empty water glasses, stale bread and no food for longs periods of time. The service at the SPA was terrible as well!
SPA: Watch out for the scam on the Greenhouse Spa Hydro pool and serenity area. We paid $250 per couple to use the Hydro pool and the Serenity areas for a 6 day cruise. After paying for the service, they identified us as qualified users by placing a small navy blue sticker to the back of our room keys. SURPRISE! This same sticker was used for all correspondence, reminders, invitations, etc. that we received on our stateroom daily. In other words, anyone could have placed the same sticker on the back of their room card key for free!
It is a very nice relaxing area but after buying the access, we found that it was highly priced compared to other Holland America sailings. Besides this, they did not have any control whatsoever on who entered the area. Even though they give you an access card to open the door to the pool, because of the Spa layout (the reception area on one side of the ship and the hydro pool, hot stone beds, sauna, etc. crossing to the other side of the ship) people got in and out as they wished and we saw this happen on various occasions. We presented a formal complaint to the Spa manager and she said that it was impossible to have somebody on a full time basis checking on this.
Shows: Besides the Cantare group show and the comedian, nothing else was to stay awake for. They need to improve on entertainment!
GOOD: One of the best things of the cruise was the extremely comfortable bed, ample closet and the most spacious bathroom. We even had a bathtub in our cabin! Great balcony cabin!