This was our 19th cruise. We have been sailing on RCCL and Celebrity ships. We last sailed on HAL in 2006. At that time we walked into a cabin that had previously been occupied by heavy smokers. Despite attempts by our cabin steward, the stench was with us the entire trip. Not pleasant. I am happy to report that HAL's new no smoking policy is great. The cabin and genereal areas of the ship were free of smoking residue. Last year we sailed on the Allure of the Seas and I will make same comparisons during this review.
Embarkation was OK. They open the doors to the terminal at 11am, so do not get there any earlier. We unloaded our luggage, parked the car and was at the terminal a little after 11am. The line was out the door which could have been a problem if the weather was bad. Once inside, we picked up our key cards and was given an invitation to a Mariners only luncheon, and directed to a small waiting area to board the ship. This area was SRO and filled up quickly. Once they started to board the ship it went quickly. On board we were directed to the Lido buffet and no one seemed to know about our invitation. Finally, a crew member read the invitation and took us to the main dining room.
We were in cabin 6123 which is across from the AFT elevators. This was a great location and we never heard the elevators. A little vibration at times. The room itself was typical of other cabins we have been in. Not much shelf space in the bathroom but good space in the desk area. Bedding was comfortable and the cabin was clean. There is a huge closet which held all of our clothes with ease. This area has one overhead light which makes it difficult to see items in the closet and the safe. As a suggestion bring a small LED flashlight. There was fresh fruit of your choice daily, and a post card of the ship that is an extra cost item on RCCL and Celebrity ships. The chairs on the veranda were comfortable. The two guys that took care of our cabin, Anom and Ibnu, were probably the best cabin stewards we ever experienced.
We had dinner and some lunches in the Manhattan Dining room. The first night was a disaster. Took 2+ houirs to get through dinner, beef came not cooked as requested, and some dishes were sent back. This was the only time we had problems and it got better. We thought the food was great in both variety and quality. Had breakfast in the Lido that was great. Plenty of variety and no problem finding a table. Only problem was that you got omlets at one station and had to go to another station for bacon which means the eggs got cold. We had dinner in Canallettos one night and it was good. The guy that gives out mints when you exit the dining room was missing most nights. This guy is a Holland America symbol and they should get him back.
Shows were typical. Singers trying to exceed the range of their voices and corny choreography. No problem finding seats and you did not have to make a reservation 30 days prior to sailing like on RCCL ships. The Neptunes were a trio that played each night in the Ocean Bar,and they were great. One night a guy by the name of Jeff Burghart was the entertainment. He packed the Showroom and was very funny.
Grand Turk was a zip. Not much there and expensive.
San Juan and St.Maarten havn't changed in years. In St. Maarten there are a small group of vendors to the right after you get off the pier that sell T-shirts, etc that are reasonable.
Half Moon Cay - Did not get off the ship.
The crew and staff were tops. HAL takes better care of their past customers than other lines. There was a Welcome Back lunch when we boarded, a Champagne
lunch with the Captain during the cruise and a nice gift.
I would recommend HAL and the Nieuw Amsterdam to anyone looking for a classic relaxing cruise without the zip-lines and rock climbing walls.