3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
Very disappointing . We have been on this very ship several times before. Things have changed. Very little entertainment and slow dining service. They seem to have reduced dining wait staff. For a transatlantic there was very little to do, ... Read More
Very disappointing . We have been on this very ship several times before. Things have changed. Very little entertainment and slow dining service. They seem to have reduced dining wait staff. For a transatlantic there was very little to do, limited music options. One piano player who started late every night. Poor production shows. Trying to but the BB King Blues show in the Queen's Lounge was a joke. No seats available and if you could get in the music was so loud you were better off sitting a 100ft down the corridor. A wise guy type of cruise director who was so self- promoting it was ridiculous. The lecturer could hardly be understood from a combination of bad microphone and strong accent. Food was good but selection greatly reduced. Ship is in excellent condition. No problem with room and staff. Embarkment was a circus due to weather. Ship did not arrive for scheduled departure and all passengers had to be packed up and put in hotels overnight. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
This was a very lovely crossing. Many more pros than cons. To begin with, the sailing was delayed by a full day due to strong winds and high seas preventing the ship from getting into port. The overnight in Barcelona spent waiting for the ... Read More
This was a very lovely crossing. Many more pros than cons. To begin with, the sailing was delayed by a full day due to strong winds and high seas preventing the ship from getting into port. The overnight in Barcelona spent waiting for the ship was expertly and efficiently handled. Considering the number of passengers HAL had to suddenly and unexpectedly accommodate, this had to have been no easy feat. A sterling performance. Once on board we found the ship elegant, gracefully absorbing her 2000 passengers. The mostly Indonesian crew was nothing short of wonderful, friendly, kind and always happy to fulfill any request. Cabins were spacious, comfortable (we wanted to take our bed home!) and immaculate. Food, for the most part, was excellent. The specialty restaurants we tried, Pinnacle Grill and Tamarind, were superb. Sadly, due to the loss of a day, we forfeited the Azores as a port of call; that was unfortunate as many on board were looking forward to it. Many felt it would have been far better to have sacrificed the uninteresting Alicante. Our major grievance was the lack of quality entertainment on board which was, for the most part, embarrassing. This needs to be seriously rethought. Among the educational offerings, Vivienne Rowan and her series on Ancient Egypt was superb. If you are a night owl or looking for anything fun to do on board later in the evening, it will be a challenge. The movie theatre was always full, folks were always being turned away; reconfiguring the seating might help. And why was there no decent coffee anywhere except at a surcharge in the Explorations Cafe? Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
I am a member of the Mariner Society and have sailed a number of times on Holland America. It had been a few years between sailings and this past cruise was a hugh disappointment in almost every respect. Only the Indonesian staff have ... Read More
I am a member of the Mariner Society and have sailed a number of times on Holland America. It had been a few years between sailings and this past cruise was a hugh disappointment in almost every respect. Only the Indonesian staff have keep the high quality. The food was sub-par. The selections were terrible. Lunch at the Lido was just a mad house of trolling plates and not enough seating. Almost no music for dancing. Dull dull dull in every respect and I am writing this as a senior citizen. The casino would put you to sleep--after you could not figure out the slot machines that is. The deck chairs (if you can fine one) just ache your back and are impossible to get of for senior citizens. The fire on board surely didn't win any positive points either! No more HAL for me. It is just not the same Line I once knew. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
Sailed out of Barcelona on the Nieuw Amsterdam and the experience was wonderful. The staff was very friendly and worked very hard. Our rooms attendants made sure our room was cleaned everyday with clean towels and ice in the bucket. The ... Read More
Sailed out of Barcelona on the Nieuw Amsterdam and the experience was wonderful. The staff was very friendly and worked very hard. Our rooms attendants made sure our room was cleaned everyday with clean towels and ice in the bucket. The Lido and Manhattan Dinning Room staff of food Servers and Waiters were excellent. The whole crew seemed happy doing their jobs. The ship was unable to dock in Barcelona on November 2nd due to heavy winds. I was very impressed how all the staff and officers answered all our questions. We were able to call out from our room to rebook our flight and was given access to WIFI which we used to receive our travel confirmation. I really was impressed with the shows in the theatre. They had some really talented singers. All the Male and Female vocals were fantastic. I don't remember all their names but some did stick out like Johnathan, Melody and Anna. I loved this cruise and would sail on the Nieuw Amsterdam any day. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
I have been on HAL ships 4 or 5 times before including in family groups but have not sailed with HAL in3 or 4 years. Was surprised at the dramatic decline in quality control in all areas - late night snack buffet menu listing two items ... Read More
I have been on HAL ships 4 or 5 times before including in family groups but have not sailed with HAL in3 or 4 years. Was surprised at the dramatic decline in quality control in all areas - late night snack buffet menu listing two items not actually available, 3 carvery items in dinner buffet repeated twice in a 1 week cruise, one random chair in dining room without arms when all neighbouring chairs are armchairs, most of the time no one offered juice and coffee at the table in breakfast buffet, inattentive service in dining room even at 5:30 open seating when the vast majority of tables were empty, typo in daily program referring to answering questions on Taormina when we were in Cartegena, 4 hour walking tour in Cartegena without admission into sites such as Roman Theatre, Forum and submarine when tours from Norwegian Epic can be seen entering sites, cleaning cloth left in bathtub and missed towels a couple of times in cabin, given the disembarkation form for another cabin in error, dining reservation system showing a second person in my room when I was travelling alone, spa giving my room access card to another passenger by mistake. Random errors and gaps in service were occurring on a daily basis. Nothing was a major problem but there simply was not a sense of focus on excellence or quality control. Also the smiles and greeting from every member of staff and crew that one comes to expect in the cruise industry was only sometimes offered. Ship is nice, public areas are well appointed, ship is not crowded, cabins are a good size and cabin bathroom is relatively spacious. Ports were interesting - particularly Motril for Granada to see the Alhambra Palace and gardens, Cartegena and Gibraltar to see the siege tunnels. Collaboration with Microsoft resulted in onboard classes on Windows 10 features which were informative and always over-attended with chairs being added to watch as there were not enough computers for everyone attending and some even just stood. Collaboration with BB King's Blues Club resulted in a great band on board performing in the lounge most evenings and performing a great main stage show one evening. Impressive and hilarious juggler comedian. Ship's lead singers were very good and better than most other ships I have travelled on. All in all an OK experience but far from the standard of excellence that all cruise lines market to the public. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2015
We got a deal on a Pinnacle suite and were very surprised at how nice it was. Disappointed that the only amenity was free laundry. Free water and free internet would have been nice. The staff was friendly and accommodating. Breakfast ... Read More
We got a deal on a Pinnacle suite and were very surprised at how nice it was. Disappointed that the only amenity was free laundry. Free water and free internet would have been nice. The staff was friendly and accommodating. Breakfast and dinner were great. Lunch was so so. The ship looked new. Nightly shows could have been better, as compared to other cruise lines. Over all we were very satisfied. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Not a cruise line I would recommend. We chose this cruise because of the ports of call. But once on board were informed that two ports we had booked to berth in had been change to tender ashore. Two of these ports were cancelled because ... Read More
Not a cruise line I would recommend. We chose this cruise because of the ports of call. But once on board were informed that two ports we had booked to berth in had been change to tender ashore. Two of these ports were cancelled because of "rough weather", some experienced cruiser said it was absolute rubbish, compensation, 1 hour free drinks with 2000+ passengers. The third port to be tendered ashore was the port with the shortest stay, time to get ashore, a cup of coffee then queue up to tender back to the ship. Cabin cleaning was very superficial, no clean linen. Meals did not vary much with only fair quality. As for entertainment, you're better off to read a book. BEWARE compulsory tipping is deducted from you account daily, it is up to you to alter this if you are not happy with the service. Overall this equates to a budget line without the budget price. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
Mediterranean Cruise, Holland America I wanted to share this review for other travelers. It is a long review and I will try to include details that may or may not be important to others. We stayed two nights at the Colon Hotel. The ... Read More
Mediterranean Cruise, Holland America I wanted to share this review for other travelers. It is a long review and I will try to include details that may or may not be important to others. We stayed two nights at the Colon Hotel. The hotel staff was friendly. We arrived around 12:00 p.m. and our room was ready. We had a superior room for three. There is a coffeemaker and small mini bar in the room. The water pressure is good, and the beds are comfortable. We did not eat at the hotel. There is a Carefour supermarket that is walkable from the hotel heading towards the train station, a bank directly across from the front door of the hotel (the atm did run out of Euros the last day), and a Starbucks across the street. The Carefour supermarket has wine, water and also prepared foods. I could not find something I liked in the wine selection so I purchased at the port but did purchase our soda and water for the ship. The hotel will hold your luggage in a room in the lobby if you want to tour before boarding or checking in. The pool is too small. We wanted to see the view at sunset from the roof, but were not able to make it. We purchased the 10 ticket package at the train station and used this to travel to the FCB Camp Nou Soccer Stadium, Park Guell and back from Sagrada Familia. Place the ticket through the ticketholder and remove and the gate will open. One person passes through and then each time for the amount of people using the ticket. There is a discount for students at FCB Camp Nou of 5.00 euros. I think the train stop is Les Corts. We purchased two tickets online and bought my son’s tickets when we arrived at FCB. My son and husband enjoyed the museum. The next day we visited Sagrada Familia. I was thinking we were close to the Sagrada Familia but that was not the case. It was around 7 Euros by cab to the Cathedral. I bought the tickets to Sagrada Familia with the tower access online. We were late due to a time difference and had to buy new tickets which were only available at 7:00 p.m. and no tower access. At least we were able to book tickets for entry. Looking back we should have just entered for the tower access because we were not late for that entry time for the tower but didn’t think to ask. The original tickets will be refunded because we bought new tickets. They will give you the email address and save the new and old ticket numbers. You do get a student or under 18 years old discount. I forget which one it is. We always brought the student id with us and a copy of my son’s passport. We only had a choice of audio with the new tickets and my son and I found it confusing when they said you can go in any direction not in order. Go in order if you can. We had visited Barcelona 8 years ago and was not able to visit the tower during that time.. I guess we will have to visit Barcelona again some day. Since we had to come back at 7:00, we decided to go Park Guell. We got off at the second train stop that takes you there. Park Guell is in the middle of two train stops. Lessops is the first stop and the walk is harder on the second stop and more uphill. There are some escalators, but if you get off at the first stop it seems to be easier. There was no entry to Park Guell until 5:30, and we didn’t want to miss the 7:00 La Strada entrance so we decided to leave, and come later after our tour. The Park is free after 9:30, but it does start to get dark around 9:00. We ate at two restaurants close to the hotel during our stay. The first restaurant Nuria which we enjoyed. The Sangria was great, service friendly and good food. The second restaurant which was very close to the hotel one block up was Estruch. We sat outside, and there was too much smoke. The inside customers come out and smoke, so at least ask for a table closer to the entertainment in front of the cathedral. I thought the food was not that good and the staff not friendly. I would not visit again. We wished we went back to the first restaurant. We did not have any problem with pickpockets in Barcelona. We were careful. A cab to the port should be inexpensive but we left around 12:30. It was bumper to bumper in the port and cost around 28.00 euros. Check-in was not too bad. The line moved quickly. We arrived between 1:30-2:00. The water was expensive at the port so purchase it if you can before you arrive. I asked the woman in the store at the port which wine was similar to a Pinot Noir and she recommended a few. The price range was between 7.00-10.00. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the two I purchased but I did. You can go back out and reenter up until I think it was 3:00. We did go back and take our picture. I think we were one of the last ones on the ship. The picture background was really strange but we we usually purchase the boarding picture for a souvenir. We dropped our bags in our room, and went upstairs to the lido to grab a quick bite before the muster drill. They do take attendance at the muster drill. The ship: There were pros and cons to the ship (which there are with every cruise line). I wish I could take all the pros and make one favorite cruise line. I think if I could combine the entertainment and gym of RCL with the pools, restaurant atmosphere and food of Princess and the beds, port information and pricing from HAL. I would have the perfect cruise (Princess and Hal both have laundry options). The pros for HAL are: towels, food, Tamarind, laundry package, in room movies, storage space, the bed, BB King blues, covered pool, Port advisor available to answer questions, no announcements in rooms, no long lines like larger ships, relaxed atmosphere, great captains party. The towels were available at the pool. You do not have to sign for them. Also beach towels are in your drawer under your bed. It is easier not having worry about turning them in and watching them on the lounger by the pool. The food (sometimes small portions) was good and is always cooked how ordered. If you wanted more, just ask. I felt like the menu has gotten smaller but I ordered what I wanted and was happy. There was only a few nights that I wished there was more variety but I ordered an appetizer as a main meal if I couldn’t find something I liked on the main courses. We had great waiters. We were always the last table to leave the dining room at night. My son made a great friend and they hung around the entire cruises. If you can get Ferry and Ade you can’t go wrong. My husband asked for mint and rosemary, and they delivered it. Also I loved the lamb and they ordered it for me another night. The lobster was real lobster but it was salty. Not sure if it was the butter. We loved visiting the yum yum man after dinner if he was still there. We did want a picture with our tablemates but for some reason the professional picture did not come out. We looked on the computer for it but the photographers could not find it. We didn’t get to take another pictures because our table mates were not able to make the last night because we were overnight in Venice and they had plans. I cannot comment on all the specialty restaurants because we only went to the Tamarind. The food was really good. They give you the options so I don’t think you can order everything off the menu but you can make some changes. We were stuffed when we left. The laundry is a good deal especially if you traveled before the cruise like we did. We filled our bag and left it in the basket the first day. We were not given another bag and had to call the front desk several times to have a bag delivered to our cabin. Also the first few laundry deliveries came back really wrinkled. I went down to the front desk and straightened out that we purchased the packaged and then the pressing was included. We did lose some laundry items but they were found before the end of the cruise. We filled two bags and only one sheet so keep track of your laundry items. If laundry is busy, the clothes will be delivered a few days later. Whites are not returned white and may be because there is no bleach. In room movies are a good selection, there was enough storage space with three large closets. We didn’t use the storage drawers under the bed because the towels and bedding was stored in there. Our luggage fit under the bed. The bed was comfortable but not the pillows. BB King Blues band was great and got people dancing. Also some of the shows were better than expected. If the weather was bad the main pool was covered. The port adviser was available 2 hours in the evening before the port and 2 hours in the morning for questions. We only asked once while in Marseilles but this is very helpful especially to the older crowds. Also the front desk will assist with information. You don’t find this on other lines. Our table mates also found his information very helpful. We did go to the pool several times and managed to get a seat. I think because of the ship size, the pool, the gym, tendering and boarding never seemed to be overcrowded. There was one boy who hurt himself diving in the childrens pool. Staff tries to enforce but are not watching all the time. The library is fully stocked with games and books. Front desk is always friendly, polite and helpful. The ship seemed very relaxed and sometimes there were families having fun in the disco dancing. The Captains Party was relaxed and less formal which I enjoyed. The captain introduced himself and some of the staff in the showroom. Drinks were offered, champagne, red or white wine and orange juice. I appreciated the wine because I do not drink champagne and other lines do not always offer wine. The cons are: cabin lighting, pillows, the steam room, the treadmills, the breakfast, lack of food choices after dinner, some shows are performed during late seating, drinks, no access to account online, Teen activities, the internet, no nightly mariner party (only a brunch), getting in touch with cabin steward and room service. The lighting in the cabin was terrible. There was a magnifying mirror with a light but it was very hard when not using this to see unless you go into the bathroom when doing hair or makeup. The pillows were hard, and maybe looking back I should have changed them. I did not sleep well but we were getting up early the first few days for tours and then by the time I thought to do something we were half way through the cruise. There is no access to the steam room unless you buy the package, which I wouldn’t use that much on a European cruise. The sauna is near the pool and not in the spa or gym. I really enjoy going to the steam room after the gym and was disappointed that there is not a public steam room and only the package for 299 per a couple. We did go for one hour free with our coupon book and glad I didn’t buy it because I wouldn’t have spent that much time in there. A big negative is use of the treadmills. The treadmills did have the tv’s on them (unlike princess) but there was restricted time of use. One hour before leaving port and one hour after due to navigational issues was posted on the treadmills. The times we wanted to workout was before dinner, and there was no access to treadmills. This was a concern because I really only exercise with a treadmill. Other people also seemed upset. Lido time changed periodically. Full breakfast was until 10:30 and then some days it was until 10:00, which is too early. I felt like every time I was in the lido they were pulling down the shade and closing. I don’t mind them serving the food it was more organized. By the time you get your food and found a place, the food is cold. The stations are mixed up and I can’t describe it, but I didn’t have this much trouble with breakfast on other lines. The first day they had two people behind the egg station. One was taking your order for toast while you stand there. After ordering your toast, your eggs are ordered and you wait. After you get your egg, pancake order, you are asked if you want additional items (bacon, sausage, oatmeal). It makes no sense to have one person taking egg orders and trying to also complete your order. If they would switch the toast to guy it would be a little faster. I did notice after I said I can’t believe there is only one person here taking egg or pancake orders next to staff member, that they had two people making eggs the next morning and complete orders. I feel like breakfast was chaos and it shouldn’t be that unorganized. Cups would not be clean and coffee wouldn’t be brewed. You couldn’t find ketchup or if you couldn’t hold your eggs, and wanted oatmeal, you had to wait in line again. Not relaxing for a vacation. At night the only access to food after the lido closed was pizza. They would tell you to order room service but there was limited room service menu. We found ourselves hungry around 12:00 with no choices. Some of the shows like the marriage game, etc were performed at 9:00 during late seating. After dinner and the show (some really good and some not so good) the choices were the disco, the piano and BB blues. During the end of the cruise we found ourselves wanting something else to do. The silk den bar was terrible. When we made reservations we were invited for a happy hour before or after our dinner. I ordered the Mai Tai which was just juice. There was nothing in it. I wouldn’t go there again. Also the happy hour choices are limited for wine. I ordered a Pinot Noir one night during happy hour, and was told because it was $9.00 it wasn’t part of happy hour. The only way to check your account is at the front desk. The teen activities were listed and delivered to the cabin every three days but my son said they were performed randomly. Sometimes there would be an activity and sometimes there wouldn’t be one even though they were listed and they showed up. Don’t count on the internet. It barely functions. One time it took me almost 20 minutes just to load and open an email. If there is a blackout, which there was twice, the email will stop working. I did go to the front desk and they credited me minutes from the blackout. Someone told my son that the internet is faster at sea than in port. The least expensive package is 19.99 for 30 minutes, and if you are a Mariner you can add 15 minutes to any package with the coupon book. I was disappointed that there was no Mariner Party at night. I enjoy the party usually more than the captain’s party because it isn’t as crowded. They do have a brunch, but with so little time to enjoy the ship. We usually don’t do a big lunch we didn’t attend. I did have a few problems with obc, but they were corrected. I did have backup email documentation. Also only one coupon book was delivered to our stateroom. I went to the front desk and received another book for my husband. Not sure if my son would have gotten one if I asked since he is also Mariner. We did bring an extension cord but probably didn’t need it because there are three outlets. The flat screen does not move. It was the first sailing with the new tv’s and it was not positioned that great with the inside large connecting J room but it was okay. Looking back on the rooms, I think we could have booked an outside and it would have been fine. I heard so much about the large J’s and since there was three of us I held on to it even with pricing changes. I looked in at the ocean views and there was the same amount of storage. Maybe the J had a little more standing room for getting dress but for the pricing difference and the bathtub I think next time I would have gone with the ocean view. Also we were on the Main deck and close to the front desk. If you are nearer to the showroom you will hear the music and BB King blues, but I think they end the show around 12:30. Our table mates commented on culinary demonstrations being over in 10 minutes. There seemed to be a lot of art auctions. We got invited to a VIP Mariners Party, which I thought was going to be similar to other cruise line loyalty parties. There was an art auction being cleaned up and no Party at 8:00 (which is our dinner late seating time). We waited around 10 minutes and decided to leave and go to dinner. The party was in a conference room and didn’t look that interesting. Advertised drinks and food, but we didn’t see either. We never saw our cabin steward which at times was annoying and probably one of the reasons we didn’t change our pillows. If we wanted to get the laundry bag we had to call the front desk. My son needed to ice his knee and we had to call the front desk. We would look in the corridor at various times, but never saw anyone only when we were going to dinner. My son ordered room service for breakfast and the bagel was hard as a rock. Marseille: We did go to the old town on our own. We took the free shuttle bus with no problem. If we did not take the shuttle bus, we would have taken a cab because it would have been cheaper than the ship shuttle for the three of us (8 per person). Coming back the free shuttle was crowded and no single line but we were able to get on. The shuttle lets you off not too far from the main part of the town. Walk straight down and you will come to it. Monaco: We visited the Exhibition of Prince Rainier III’s private collection of antique cars. Adults 6.50 and children 8-14 3 euros. We asked for a map at the front desk and asked direction at the information booth when we got of the ship. Shared Tours: We booked our tours with AP tours. I would highly recommend them. They arranged all requests and answered all our questions whenever asked. There was no only transfer to Rome tour on the website and Sarah created one. Also customized Naples with visiting Positano and not Sorrento which was a good choice due to high traffic that day. We booked them for Livorno, Rome and Positano. We wanted to have flex schedule with depart and arrival times. Livorno: Our driver Raphael was wonderful. We reserved the Accademia for 10:30. If you reserve over the phone, you give them the code and receive the tickets inside when paying. We were given free time in Florence to explore. We then drove to Pisa. We could not book the 3:30 tickets to climb the tower because they were already taken 20 days before when I signed on to purchase. Sarah let us book the 4:00 tickets. The tickets were scanned. Then we were charged on our credit card with the card that we used to reserve. You line up around 10 minutes before your entry time. There is a student discount for Accademia but not for Pisa Tower. You cannot visit the cathedral without the tower ticket. Rome: We purchased a shared tour transfer to Rome with AP Tours. I purchased the Museum Sistine Chapel tickets and the underground colosseum English spoken tours online. We could not understand our guide. Also the Sistine chapel/museum was so crowded. We had a 10:30 ticket entry time and actually had to leave the tour early at 12:30 to make our 1:20 tour for the underground colosseum tour. We wished we had more time to also visit the Vatican. Looking back we should have visited the Vatican earlier before the 10:30 tour. We jumped in a cab and I think it was 10.00 euros from the museum to the colosseum. The underground tour was amazing and I highly recommend it. We could understand the tour guide. Naples: We booked again with AP tours. We visited Pompeii in the morning and were able to avoid some of the heat. We had a great tour guide included with our tour. We did have to purchase the entry tickets which our tour guide Phina did for us. My son was free with id. Phina was our guide and we could understand her most of the time. Our driver suggested not driving to Positano because of traffic. There are three tunnels you need to drive through. Everyone in the car wanted to drive to Positano so we did. The driver was able to go around one tunnel and avoid some traffic. He joked about having to spend time with his mother for dinner. We were glad we decided to go to Positano. It is very crowded and hard to manage through the one road in and out. My son bought some lemon candy, and we tasted some local sandwiches. We also visited the beach, which is very hot and pebbly. It is amazing how they get the cars in and out of the garage, and parked so close together. Taormina: We loved Taormina. We got off the ship and asked someone if there was a bus to Taormina. They said no. There was a hop on hop off bus for $20.00 euro pp but I decided to cross the street and look at the bus schedule posted in a place that looked like a bus stop. It said Taormina so we waited for the bus. You can buy the tickets on the bus. They drop you at the bus stop at Taormina and we saw the hop off hop on tickets for 10.00 euro pp. There are a lot of shops to explore. I think this would be a great port to spend more time. There is a beach when you get off the ship but I wanted to see Taormina. Corfu: We did Corfu on our own. We took the bus to town and then I tried to use two atms which declined our transaction. We later used the atm at the port and it worked. I wished I used it first because I was little nervous with less cash. We found a taxi driver to take us to Glyfada beach. It was really nice. When they drop you off the chairs are 8.00 euros with umbrella. If you walk a little further in front of the hotel the price is $12.00 euros with umbrella. We arranged a time for the taxi to return. You pay half when they drop you and half when they return you to the ship. Croatia: The beginning of the day it rained which was a good thing because we were able to walk the wall without the heat when the rain let up. We finished walking the wall when the sun came out and it got really hot. We could barely get out of the entrance/exit when leaving. There were many people coming in and only one small line able to exit. The entrance to the wall is cash or credit card. Cash must be Kunas. Montenegro: We were tired of touring by this port and just walked around near the port. We stopped for wi-fi and bought a cappuccino. Venice: I purposely booked a hotel close to the people mover. When you get off the ship you can walk to the people mover. We purchased our people mover tickets the night before when it wasn’t busy. The tickets are not validated until you use them. They are 1.50. The people mover is one stop. You are let off near the taxi stand and train station. Walking towards the town there is a bridge that has a ramp to the left that is easier to go over than the first bridge you hit when leaving the taxi stand area. We didn’t know until we went over it later on the next day. We booked the Hotel Palazzo Odoni for two nights. The stairs a little tough with 6 pieces of luggage. The staff was very friendly and breakfast was very good. My only complaints were: the bed was a little hard and there were some mosquitoes in the room. For the price, breakfast and staff it was worth the stay. We found it easy to get around Venice. We bought a one day vaparetto ticket the second day. We visited Murano for the glass blowing demonstration. The cost was 5 euros and children are free. It did rain heavy the first night and we got stuck in the rain coming back from the square. There are people running around selling umbrellas for various prices. We did the gondola ride near the hotel the next night and it was so quiet and beautiful. He took us down the side canals and then to the main canal to drop us off. He recommended a restaurant Murao (I think that is the spelling) that my husband and son loved their pizza. I forget what I ordered but I know I didn’t like it and wished I stuck with the pizza. I hope my review and comments help. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2015
We were on a 12 day cruise from Barcelona to Venice. This was our first experience with Holland America. Everything went really well. Loved our aft balcony cabin, nice full bath, plenty of closet space, and great service. The ship appears ... Read More
We were on a 12 day cruise from Barcelona to Venice. This was our first experience with Holland America. Everything went really well. Loved our aft balcony cabin, nice full bath, plenty of closet space, and great service. The ship appears to be in good condition, although not as glamorous looking atrium as Princess and not as beautiful as Royal Caribbean with the street, etc. This was a very port intensive itinerary, therefore, we didn't have too much time for onboard activities. Beautiful library, which could be nicely utilized if there would be many sea days. Embarkation and disembarkation was wonderful, much better than what we experienced in the past on other cruise lines. Loved Lido. Food quality, selection and service was very good. MDR menu was not always very exciting, but the food was good. MDR service was excellent. The specialty restaurants are great, especially the steak house. What we didn't like is that nobody supervised pool area. There were plenty of kids on board due to summer vacation and they were allowed to go to adult pool. Even though both pools have sign "no diving", people still did it and nobody stopped them. The other unfortunate thing was that only sauna was free and steam / hydro pool / thermal suite was very expensive. On other ships there is a women's / men's locker room with access to steam / sauna for free alongside with paid area. Here there was none. Overall, we had a great time and enjoyed this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
My husband and I and two of our friends recently cruised with Nieuw Amsterdam on the Mediterranean Tapestry cruise in May 2015. We are still talking about what a wonderful experience it was with their friendly, helpful crew and fantastic ... Read More
My husband and I and two of our friends recently cruised with Nieuw Amsterdam on the Mediterranean Tapestry cruise in May 2015. We are still talking about what a wonderful experience it was with their friendly, helpful crew and fantastic itinerary. Not only did we enjoy seeing all the exciting ports everyday, the staff made us feel special and pampered 24/7. This was our second cruise with HAL but it won't be the last. We are already looking at itineraries for next year and the year after. Thank you again to entire staff and for anyone looking for a marvelous cruise itinerary, this one from Barcelona to Venice would be hard to beat! Our favorite ports were: Barcelona, Taormina, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Kotor and Venice. The excursion to St. Paul De Vence (out of Monaco) and to Sorrento (out of Naples) provided wonderful photo ops. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
This was our second HAL cruise, and the first one was nearly flawless. On this trip, our group really felt like we were being gauged for extras or being sold more services. This took away from the relaxation factor of the cruise and was a ... Read More
This was our second HAL cruise, and the first one was nearly flawless. On this trip, our group really felt like we were being gauged for extras or being sold more services. This took away from the relaxation factor of the cruise and was a sore spot with us, so I am downgrading to just very good. My basis for "very good" (instead of average rests on the great service from most of the staff. The Main Dining Room, Room Staff and Security Staff were excellent as usual, and in our opinion, are the feather in the cap of HAL. Just as kind and helpful as could be, as per usual. And on this trip, the Front Office Staff was also great, and I think they have one of the toughest jobs on the ship, judging from the cranky/rude customers they had to deal with on a daily basis. Never ceases to amaze me how nasty some people on vacation can be to the hardworking and low paid staff. I did also note that on this cruise, there were multiple folks who had nasty accidents (falls) while in different ports. Several actually left the ship with their injuries, and several had to seriously curtail their activities due to stitches, wounds, strains and bruises. Busted noses, busted knees, splinted arms.... I have to admit, my group was on high alert, as looking up at all the beautiful old sites while walking on old cobble stones and irregular steps is a bad combination. We all had some very close calls and stumbles in different cities, but I am happy to report that we all survived unscathed. If you are unsteady, I recommend a walking stick or cane, and a steady companion who can back you up. We also felt that younger people were generous in their description of "easy walk" or our favorite "only 5 minutes to get there". We found that "5 minutes" loosely translated, usually means 20 minutes, 200 uneven stairs, and 80 degree heat, all up hill. When selecting shore excursions, stick to the easy exertion levels if you are challenged. We heard many complaints from folks who could not keep up. One of our party cannot walk for long, and we were very sensitive to this issue. This is also another reason we prefer private excursion tours, as they can easily cater to any physical issues and usually get a lot closer parking than a tour bus. Well worth it in the end. Herma, Francis and Irfan in F/B were stellar in every way, as were our Room Staff, whose names escape us at this point. Also,we usually eat breakfast in our room, and almost everyday we received a call making sure that the breakfast met our needs. It arrived correctly and on time every single day! We found the embarkation and disembarkation nearly flawless on this trip, with no lines whatsoever on either end. We were amazed and pleased. We arrived at 2:15, with a 3:00pm deadline. On Disembarkation, we were in the 8:30-8:45am time slot. Half our group carried off our luggage, half did not, all did fine with the exception of a damaged wheel on a suitcase. We stayed in a Verandah Suite, 8008, on the Nav deck. Room was great. This room is directly across from a staff facility room, so the door opens and closes all night long, and some staff members are a little loud. Generally this did not bother us, but might bother some. This room is also directly under the Greenhouse Spa, generally not an issue unless they are rearranging things at closing time. Room as promised, clean, neat. Glad HAL does not allow smoking in cabins any more. (But some staff do smoke in some of the service rooms, which can't possibly be permissible.) My big room gripe? Cabin neighbors who smoke on their Verandahs and or those who don't understand the concept of closing a door softly. Ours let their balcony door slam every single time, or those who "drag" their balcony furniture around. Petty, I know,I know, but it makes me nuts. Getting off my soap box..... We did not personally partake in any entertainment, but 2 of our group did, and overall, they enjoyed it. Apparently, a few hits, a few misses, but overall good reviews. We did peek in on the BB King lounge, and it sounded great. Show cast seemed really sweet. I only used the gym once, but found it to be nice, with good options. I like to also walk the promenade deck. We only took 2 shore excursions, as we try hard to avoid them. Both were well organized and delivered as promised. Both were more of a scenic drive with brief stops where you could go it alone or stay with a guide. We did "Nice and EZE" tour and the Provence Les Maurers (?) tour. We would recommend both, and the price was good. Generally, we arrange our own private tours through local guides, as we can customize the itinerary as maximize the time in port, for less money. We also prefer to avoid standing around waiting for others to come back to the bus. We also get to avoid the "herd" experience. Again, I know it's my personal issue, but I find that some people on the excursions are beyond rude, and it makes me nuts. On the above mentioned excursions, one man and his wife felt the need to carry on loud independent group comments and conversations as the guide was trying to give us the history, all while they stood smack in the middle of the group. We all know how hard it is to hear the guides on a good day, especially for the folks who may be hard of hearing or more elderly. This same man felt the need to make several scathing remarks about how the French wouldn't be here without Americans, blah blah blah. My Vietnam Vet brother-in-law quickly shut him down. Okay...getting off my soap box..... We were in port with a "megaship" on a few occasions, and the crowds of shore excursions were unreal, they were all over, and there were a ton of them. This occurred in Naples/Pompeii/Amalfi on a national holiday in Italy, and traffic was a mess. As a result, 23 passengers on a non-HAL excursion did not make it back to our ship, which left without them. They did make it to the next port. Luckily we did a private tour, and our driver was constantly being updated on traffic, and devised an alternate route for us. Tender operations were very smooth, very well run, no issues at all. They did a great job of handing out numbers and getting everyone smoothly loaded in. Again, very well organized on this trip. Staff was great, Security was on task and efficient. They seemed very helpful to passengers needing additional assistance. I will say that our group felt that everything was a sales pitch, and this was a big negative for us. Art "auction", photos, behind the scenes tours, Thermal Spa, spa products, etc. On the barbecue night, drinks were offered up by waiters walking around with trays of pre-made cocktails. If you say yes, beware...because if it is in a swanky plastic HAL cup, that cup costs $3.95 MORE than the regular drink. They fail to mention this until the bill comes. Items of tchatkes and souvenirs are always being hawked on the ship. It never ends. Loved being able to take many sunset shots from the 10th/11th floor decks, while lounging in chairs, watching the sun go down. We did not partake in internet service packages. They are as slow as ever, and still expensive. I would like to see HAL upgrade this and follow the lead of hotels with free wi-fi. Or at least improve the quality of the service, if for a fee. We relied on free wi-fi on shore, which was usually available and fairly reliable. Venice was probably the most difficult place to find consistent free wi-fi. The barbecue night was good, but the seating was chaos. And getting non-alcoholic beverages served took forever, we made 3 requests, then finally got up and went in to the Lido restaurant and got our own. Food was good, lines were really long. (They close one of the Main Dining Room floors on this night). I would skip this next time, especially if traveling with older or less mobile friends. Great experience: We booked a Cabana Club corner cabana on our At Sea day, and it was well worth the $115, at least to us. Lovely, quiet, clean, comfortable. Plenty of room for all 4 of us. 2 big double loungers, and a dining table and chairs for 4. We were given fruit, water, and Evian mist. They took our lunch order (although a bit late, it was after 1), brought us food, served champagne and then chocolate covered strawberries in the afternoon. All this was included. A few points: information on the pricing and booking of the cabanas was sketchy online, and we could not book until we were on board. This is the first thing I did when I got on board. (I thought they would sell out quickly, but there were still empty cabanas on the At Sea day.) The flier provided at the front desk seemed old, as some of the items were not in evidence. It stated that we would actually have a food spread at the cabana club, which we did not. It stated that we would be served ice cream, we were not. It stated that we would receive some additional Greenhouse Spa discounts, but we did not. While these are certainly not deal breakers, I am just pointing out that it was not quite up to date. That being said, still great. And nothing prevents you from going down to Lido and getting food/snacks on your own, but again, they do take your order and deliver to your cabana for no additional charge. *Note, the Lido cabanas are much smaller, and sit on the Lido deck right next to the other diners. Different experience altogether, not private, not open to the ocean. Spend the extra money and get the Cabana Club size. There is also an open area among these larger cabanas to sit or lay in the sun as well. Great place to quietly lunch, read, relax, nap in the (fully shaded) gorgeous sea air. Worth it! HAL allowed 1 bottle of wine for each person at embarkation, but we only brought one, from Barcelona. For us, they used the honor system, and did not actually check our totes, but instead they just asked us if we had alcohol. We told them we had one bottle of wine, but they never even looked to see what we had. We also found that we could pre-order alcohol online from HAL for our room, and honestly, pricing was not that bad, and the bottles were huge, much larger than we anticipated. And easier than trying to "sneak" it on board. We did not come close to finishing our Skyy or Jack Daniels. We also inadvertently brought more alcohol on board during shore excursions. (Not thinking, we bought souvenirs of Limoncello and Sangria in silly little souvenir bottles, which sailed right through security without mention). Only later did we realize what we had done. We also had a small mini bottle of wine for our after-kayak trip, bought in town, that we never drank. This too was brought back on board and never discovered. We ended up giving away much of the alcohol we had purchased, but as a plus, also did not spend much money on onboard cocktails. The drink packages are also a good way to save on cocktails and soft drinks, if you will consume them. We loved our Main Dining Room experience. I have a food allergy, and they were great, giving me a custom menu to order from in advance. Consistent service, quality and experience every time. They even had the chef make me a special dessert based on one that I really liked on embarkation night. Really nice! They never disappointed us, really great. We are all carrying the extra weight to prove it. We dined at Pinnacle one time, and it was not up to the usual par. First, it is impossible to book reservations for more than 2 people at a time online. So, if you have a larger group, you need to re-arrange the reservation when you get on the ship to get all people in your party at the same table. When doing so, the Maitre D was very "put out" and stated that rearranging 3 separate tables for 4 people into one table for 4 was going to be "difficult". (Really?) Somehow, he managed to survive this hugely difficult chore, lol. He was honestly the only grouch we encountered among the staff on this ship and apparently other ship staff are aware of his reputation. Interesting to note that on the day we actually dined, the restaurant was half empty, and service was still slow. Our prior Pinnacle experience was awesome, (save for the fact that they fed me my food allergen after insisting it was fine) but not this one. They were slow, dishes sat on the table a long time, and quality was iffy. It took over an hour to get one iced tea, and we still never got the tea for 2 others at the table. Food was brought to the table lukewarm, and one party received a really salty entree. The waiter argued with us on all points, including the salty fish. He lectured our friend that if she could not eat salt, she should have told him up front. (She CAN eat salt, it's not her fault they over-salted the recipe) Only when the chef actually tasted the fish did they admit we were right, but the waiter never apologized. Well over an hour after sitting down they then offered a substitute for the fish. We had had enough at that point and were ready to leave. I actually timed the service issues on my phone, once service started going down hill. He argued with me about how long it took to get the tea. This was caused by his misunderstanding...he sent the wine steward to us for the tea. She was delayed, and when we told her we only wanted tea, she dropped the ball. Listen, we all have "off days", but being lectured and argued with at the table is not cool. They finally deducted two of the meals, but I had requested a refund on all four and did not get it. In retrospect, Tamarind was highly recommended, and I wish we had eaten there instead. In good faith, other cruisers we spoke to at at Pinnacle several times on this cruise, and did not have any issues. But I would be reluctant to eat here again. Main Dining Room was a great experience for us as usual, we will stick with them. We did not use the laundry service this time, although we have used it in the past and it is very good. We washed our own stuff in our room, as there is no laundromat on this ship. One of our group did use the bag service, $30 per bag, and he got his clothes back within 24 hours. Greenhouse Spa was good overall. I splurged big time and booked acupuncture, a pedicure, and a hot rock massage. The acupuncture doctor was really good, but came back in to the treatment room several times to pressure me to purchase $1000 more in treatments over the remaining days of the cruise. This completely ruined the "relaxation" treatment that I had requested. I work in the corporate world, so I am used to high pressure sales people, but this was way over the top. I had to literally stop her from "booking me in, just to save the appointment slot" on subsequent treatments. She literally had the port schedule in front of her, telling me when I would have "free time" to schedule these appointments. I should have actually requested a refund on this treatment, in retrospect, including the automatic tip. Additionally, the treatment room was right off the LIDO exit and elevators, being really busy and loud, and you could hear two separate PA/music systems being piped in. My pedicure was wonderful, thanks to Isabella. She was sweet, and the fire and ice hot rock pedi was delightful after all the walking around. I had mentioned the "hard sell" acupuncture appointment, so perhaps she laid off of selling anything. I highly recommend this, and Isabella was fabulous. My hot rock massage was EXCELLENT, and could not have been nicer. No sales pressure here, either. I highly recommend this treatment. *I booked all my spa treatments in advance online, because I wanted them to occur on At Sea days/mornings. Otherwise, I would recommend that you wait to book any spa services, because there are always discounts later in the cruise. Had I waited, I could have saved 20-30% for services, but again, I wanted very specific time spots. If you have more flexability, wait until you are onboard to book. My husband also had the hot rock massage, and loved it, but he was upsold on products, which he did not buy. I would have loved to experience the thermal room/spa/pool, but the pricing was exorbitant. Based on the spa service prices, HAL should allow you the use of the these features on the days that you purchase a full price spa treatment, just like every other spa in the world. $40 per day is ridiculous after spending $500 on spa services. Looked nice, but I was not going to pay for this. I recall that this did not used to be so expensive. Overall, a great trip, made so by the staff of HAL. Easy embarkation and disembarkation were a huge plus, very well organized. We really enjoy the size of the HAL ships, as it makes things more manageable and personal. We are averse to the megaships, just can't imagine being on a ship with 4000 passengers. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
First time on Holland America after many Princess Europe and Caribbean cruises. Chose this cruise to travel before the heat of summer began. We usually get a mini-suite with Princess, so was concerned about booking a regular balcony ... Read More
First time on Holland America after many Princess Europe and Caribbean cruises. Chose this cruise to travel before the heat of summer began. We usually get a mini-suite with Princess, so was concerned about booking a regular balcony cabin. It was beyond expectations, had a rear facing balcony. Plenty of storage space, some we only discovered days later after we were already unpacked. Liked the fact that a regular room had a bathtub/shower combination. The chairs on our deck were better grade than Princess, we had wicker chairs with cushions. Really enjoyed to Lido food stations. We never ate in the main dining rooms, so will not comment on regular dining. Found the variety of food to be better than most cruises on Princess. When beef items were offered at the carving station, they were nicely medium rare, and could be cooked further on the grill if you asked. Always had nice moist fish entree's along with lots of Lamb that I enjoy. Had great salad bar area, Asian area, always had a freshly made pasta station where you tell them what you want, they cook it for you. Had pre-made grinder type sandwiches that were already wrapped to make it easy to take ashore the next day (as we did several times). We were fortunate enough to get the promotion that included a free drink package. Really enjoyed sampling the different drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Great specialty coffees in the Explorers lounge, both with and without liquor. Recently upgraded TV entertainment system was the best I've seen on a ship. Had access to many movies, TV programs, all on demand and free of charge. Covered pool area was very nice with cushioned lounge chairs, and the ability to use it even if not the best weather. They would open it up most days, but had the option of closing it in needed. Only food not better than Princess was the Pizza..still prefer Princess in that regard. Missed the large open atrium on Princess ships. Was excited to see 2 very nice ping pong tables in the cover pool area, but disappointed that HAL did nothing to get people together to play. Most cruise lines have a ping pong 'tournament' to get players together, HAL had no mention of it for the entire 12 day cruise. Not great on entertainment, but we have gotten to the point that we don't go to shows every night anyway. Will cruise again with HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
This was our 2nd sailing with HAL having done the Greek Isle 3 years ago. That cruise was wonderful. Cannot say the same for this one. Across the board cost cutting is very evident in staffing, service, food and entertainment. Our ... Read More
This was our 2nd sailing with HAL having done the Greek Isle 3 years ago. That cruise was wonderful. Cannot say the same for this one. Across the board cost cutting is very evident in staffing, service, food and entertainment. Our balcony cabin was a little small but ok--the bed and pillows very comfortable, storage good and the reading lights are a nice touch. I wish there had been a night light in the bathroom but we just kept the door open a little. Our cabin attendants were excellent. Dining hours/service/food have suffered the most. MDR closed at 9:30am and is not open for lunch. The Lido hours are shorter too and serving areas were closed down early in some instances. There just was not enough staff to take care of everyone and the great service we had with HAL before is gone. It shows not only in the dining areas but on the pool deck bars, CrowsNest and other areas...hard to get a drink when you can't find a bartender or waiter. Room service was very good. The quality and variety of food has suffered also. Menus in the MDR are very limited and the waiters are so rushed they can't take time to discuss choices. My husband and I dined in the Pinnacle Grill twice. The 1st time, service and food was superb. Friends joined us the 2nd night and the food was still good but not the service. New York pizza was always tasty and the Dive-In grill is a great addition. The Explorations Café is in a tucked away area..as far from the dining areas as it could be. As for entertainment: the few shows we saw were not very good. Dancing with the Stars with guest competition is not our cup of tea. We did enjoy Adagio while we waiting for dinner seating and it would have been nice to have a little music in the CrowsNest. We booked this cruise because of the itinerary and every port was great. We used private tours for the most part. The Nieuw Amsterdam is beautiful but HAL was a real disappointment. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2014
We board the elegant Nieuw Amsterdam in Barcelona for a 13 night Trans Atlantic crossing to Fort Lauderdale. We are impressed with the ship - It does exude elegance. The public on Decks 2 and 3 are nicely designed to serve as multipurpose ... Read More
We board the elegant Nieuw Amsterdam in Barcelona for a 13 night Trans Atlantic crossing to Fort Lauderdale. We are impressed with the ship - It does exude elegance. The public on Decks 2 and 3 are nicely designed to serve as multipurpose rooms. The furniture is comfortable - the spaces open and airy feeling and the three story atirum has a beautiful glass staircase and a frosted chandelier depicting Nieuw Amsterdam ( NYC skyline). It's not difficult to acclimate to this ship. Deck 1 has comfortable seating and offers guest services, an excursion desk, future cruise booking and the "on location" Advisor desk. Decks 2 and 3 have bars, shops, restaurants, photography studio, card rooms, show rooms and a movie theatre. Decks 10 and 11 have pools, jaccuzzis, sports courts, buffet and specialty restaurants, spa and fitness center and the Crow's Nest that serves as internet cafe, library, coffee shop bar and dance floor - all with a panoramic oceanview. Rooms are more spacious than other ships that we've recently sailed. Our balcony cabin had a tub which is unusual and much to my liking. Storage was more than adequate with luggage fitting easily under the bed. Ice was not automatically replenished twice daily - but once we made our needs known to our room attendant it was provided. The Nieuw Amsterdam - launched in 2010 - accommodates 2,100 passengers and 900 crew (Indonesian and Phillipino - all extremely friendly and competent). Passengers on this cruise are older than on many other sailing, but are still very active - walking, exercising and dancing. Mainly Americans, Germans and Canadian - seasoned cruisers - many staying on for more than one voyage. Food - a very subjective topic - is very upscale - lots of variety and well prepared with great sauces. Different themes are offered at all meals - American, German, Thai, Greek, Asian, Dutch, Italian, French etc. We also found a larger than variety than usual of salad ingredients, fruit and cheeses. Deserts were plentiful and offered in small portions. I did find that gelatin was used for almost all of them including mousse, creme brulee and even tiramisu. My downfall though is their signature Raisin Bread Pudding with Rum Vanilla Creme Anglaise.....on offered at lunch - but it is there every day. Lectures are offered on sea days - this cruise focused on planets and comets in the skies to animals in the Sea. Internet classes sponsored by Microsoft are complimentary but do fill up quickly. Many lectures on Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Cosmetics weight loss,and Beauty enhancing products and procedures. There were many art auction and most served a glass of champagne. Entertainment is plentiful and varied, dance bands, combos, piano player, guitarist, classical music all evening long - the disco was probably the least attended - due to the type of passengers but the music did sound good and the venue was inviting. Drinks were reasonable - $6.75 for drink of the day - $8.00 for martinis and more for top shelf drinks. Happy hour every day in two different bars with buy one get one for $1 - but it was at 5PM. On sea days informal card playing was organized, crochet, knitting and needlework groups met, trivia was always well attended and many also liked Bingo. Holland America is known for their cooking demonstrations and quite a few were offered - even competition between the chefs. Overall this was a very enjoyable cruise - we did find that workers were very busy - especially in the dining rooms and bars during happy hour. Although the service was still good, you could sense that there had been a reduction in staff. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
We boarded Nieuw Amsterdam in Barcelona on 27th October. It is 10 years since we have been on a Holland America ship. We boarded easily at 12 noon and had lunch in the Lido restaurant. We had booked an inside stateroom as that was the ... Read More
We boarded Nieuw Amsterdam in Barcelona on 27th October. It is 10 years since we have been on a Holland America ship. We boarded easily at 12 noon and had lunch in the Lido restaurant. We had booked an inside stateroom as that was the offer from our travel agent, so we went to the desk and asked if we could pay to upgrade. We were shown to a outside stateroom on level 1 and as we walked to the room we noticed a lot of vibration and noise and asked the girl if this was a noisy cabin. Her reply was that there was no record of noise reported. We spent 2 sleepless nights before reporting it, and it would appear that there had been noise reported in this area. Once we had bi-passed the desk staff the Officers were excellent and we moved to another room down the corridor, on the next sector of our cruise to the Caribbean we had to move again as this room was already booked. After 2 nights we experienced a noise like a bomb going off and the night after it happened 4 times between 1am and 6.00 am. The desk staff again appeared indifferent but once the Officer became involved it was sorted instantly. Vibration seems to be a problem on this ship maybe this will get sorted when she goes in to dry dock next year. Now the good bits. This is a very elegant ship and on our cruise the passenger ratio was mostly American, Canadian, European and a few British. We had opted for any time dining and this proved excellent, eating between 7.30 and 8.30 most evenings in the main dining room sharing a table for 6 or 8 and we always had a friendly crowd. We found the food to be very good, especially the steaks. We ate in the main dining room at lunchtime when it was open, as we found the Lido crowded. The Dive In on the Lido Deck was also very good for lunch. We ate in the Tamarind Restaurant one night (there is a $20 supplement) and it was superb, it opens occasionally for dimsum lunch where there is no charge. This is highly recommended. The entertainment is very mediocre but we had sussed this out from previous reviews. The one standout was Adagio an excellent piano and violin duo that played in one of the bars. Happy hours are busy when drinks are buy one buy another for $1 as drinks are expensive on board plus the 15%added to the bill? New rules mean you can only bring on 1 bottle of wine each per cruise for use in your cabin, the reason given at one of the talks was that they want to encourage responsible drinking, but in the next breath they are trying to sell a drinks package at $49 per day and both people in the cabin must buy it. So $100 per day per couple.......responsible drinking !!!! We loved this cruise, the transatlantic part was the best very relaxing, we were impressed with Holland America and the way they handled any complaint and we would have no hesitation travelling with them again Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
1 Don't expect the ship's design and décor to reflect your personal taste 2 Don't expect all fellow passengers to be just like you. 3 Don't throw a tantrum if you miss a port 4 Don't take the cruise lines home ... Read More
1 Don't expect the ship's design and décor to reflect your personal taste 2 Don't expect all fellow passengers to be just like you. 3 Don't throw a tantrum if you miss a port 4 Don't take the cruise lines home page literally 5 Don't be offended at the constant up sell We are a couple of seniors that have had 35 overseas holidays travelling independantly. This was our first cruise. The cabin We loved our basic verandah cabin. We refuse to call it a Stateroom. A Stateroom is where visiting heads of State are recieved. I don't think President Obama or Chancellor Merkell would be impressed by a reception in our Stateroom. It is a ship's cabin. It was compact but well designed The ship Beautiful in every department. We prefer understated elegance rather than overstated opulence. We dont want a floating Casino or theme park. The food The Lido buffet (The Gobble and Go) The food is acceptable in quality and abundant in quantity. The Manhattan Diningroom (MDR) Very high standard. Not 5 star but close. We loved it as here you experience fine dining in a very nice setting. We don't understand why people gripe about the food. The standard is great when you consider the kitchen turns out 12,000 meals a day. If all you want is a 'good feed' then the Lido is fine, but if you like to dine stick to the MDR. The Pinacle Grill We cancelled our further reservations after our first meal. This is an up market New York Steak House serving huge chunks of meat well cooked. Our American friends loved it. But to people who have experienced fine dining in France it is a pale shadow of that. Our vegetables had the appearance of being microwaved, they had the taste and texture of a tennis ball. No good restaurant would plate them. The desert menu says it all...Cheese cake, Chocolate cake, Trio of Sorbets, Cheese plate, and wait for it (drum roll please) Creme Brulee. It reflected the desert menu we remember in Melbourne Australia in the 1980's. And can you believe it, my coffee was out of an up market slot machine that drops the milk into the cup then sends down 2 streams of coffee just like the University canteen. Tamarind was the best restaurant on the ship and Cannaletto serves good honest Italian food. The staff In a word wonderful, nothing was too much trouble. Entertainment You don't expect a full production of The Lion King. The ship's cast of singers and dancers were good but constantly recycled. Visiting artists were great. Can't understand why HAL employs a comedian to embarrass, shout out different passengers physical details, and rudely humiliate individual passangers in the front row. Anyone suffering from depression would have jumped overboard. Cruel, cruel, cruel, not funny. Ship's programs This is our main area of complaint as most programs were dumbed down. Why not a session on the history of ANZAC when going through the Dardenelles, or a lecture on the history of early Greece etc. We were fed a diet of Trivia, The Marriage Game and shopping a la late night shopping channels. The only thing missing was the offer of the steak knives. Shore excursions We took a mix of HAL and private excursions with prople we met on the Cruise Critic Roll Call. All were good but the private ones were about 60 per cent of HAL's price and much better with lower numbers of 8 to 12 people, and wonderfully flexible. Fellow passengers Wonderful generally speaking. So many interesting stories. Certainly the more mature set. Lessons learned on our first cruise. You won't visit every port listed. We missed three. Compensation? A drink of low cost wine. Cruising is a health hazard. Illness spreads quickly through a ship. We picked up a very nasty virus that lasted 4 weeks. People cough and sneeze all over you. Some don't wash their hands. Cruising is expensive if you pay the going rate for a good cabin. We estimate for the total cost of this cruise, gratuities, excursions etc etc it cost us double the money of our normal holiday in Europe staying in 4 star hotels and dining out. Cruising is crowded. When several ships are in port it is crowded beyond belief at every tourist site. We spent hours standing in long lines and stuck in trafic. Fortunately we had 3 days in Venice at the end of rhe cruise. We couldn't believe the difference when the cruise ships pulled out. Cruise lines don't make a profit from selling you the cabin. Profit is determined by what they sell you on board so prepare to live with that. We paid the suggested gratuities but HAL suggest you may want to give further tips to cabin/wait staff and the staff expect it. Coffee...Americans have never heard the word 'barrista.' The coffee is terrible. You know the Mc Donalds set up...Cona drip filter then on the hot plate for far too long. Don't expect the server to discuss the particular origin or blend of the beans, nor artwork on the top of your latte. They don't know the difference between a cappaccino and a latte. Choosing a cabin We are glad we opted for a definite cabin 6116 and would book it again. One Aussie couple booked the usual guarantee cabin hoping for an upgrade. They were thrilled when they got the upgrade but on boarding found it was directly under the BB King Night Club. Their compensation? A pair of ear plugs. There is no rhyme, reason, or logic on HAL's pricing. We visited the future cruise desk and got a price for a 10 day future cruis up the U.S coast. % days later the cost had risen by $400 per person. We let it go. This was a very good cruise but we certainly learnt a lot. We prefer taking apartments in small villages in Europe, and savouring the local food and wines, although we may do a short cruise again. If so we would not hesitate to book with HAL.   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
Just back from this cruise and feel overall very happy with experience.n 2nd HAL cruise, last one 8 years ago and one major difference stood out and that was the hard sell to spend extra on wine and beverage packages and additional dinner ... Read More
Just back from this cruise and feel overall very happy with experience.n 2nd HAL cruise, last one 8 years ago and one major difference stood out and that was the hard sell to spend extra on wine and beverage packages and additional dinner events, especially when dining, not really appreciated. Purchased Thermal suite package on day1 and utilised it well. Was more crowded during 2nd 12 days. Crew were friendly and pretty soon knew you by name once they had swiped you card at bars etc. A beer not available in all bars was quickly stocked in our fav bar, the Pinnacle bar on request. Food was varied and well presented although we did find we were jaded with Manhattan choices towards end of cruise. There was some attempt at regional dishes at some of our visited ports but would have appreciated more offerings. We enjoyed our Tamarind dinners and Dim Sum lunches, especially the peaceful setting. Loved Pinnacle on 2 occasions as well as the special Sommelier night which was a superb experience. Also did specially offered Cabana dinner which was meant to be whilst moored off Taomina but due to rough seas, couldn't tender off so we were at sea and it was very windy in the cabanas but the food and wines were lovely and staff did fantastic job in difficult conditions. We also enjoyed 2 nights at Cannaletto. Saw a few shows and attended a few things in Culinary Arts Centre as well as some digital workshop sessions. Embarkation and disembarkation very smooth process.Did Cruising Excursionpre- arranged tours, much cheaper. We did thoroughly enjoy the Turkish Taraf night in Istambul and the crew did a great job setting the scene and the food was lovely with so many choices!! Enjoyed the entertainment and what a setting, felt like we wereright in the heart of the city, as we literally were! Happy to pay Unlimited Laundry and only had a couple of items shrunk or damaged from over hot drying. Also enjoyed the Aussie nights though the music needs some updating with input from an AUssie! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
I embarked on Nieuw Amsterdam on Aug 4th and we set sail at 5pm. Embarkation was very well organised and there was little or no delay. Once on board the Lido was open for lunch. The food during the whole cruise was top class with plenty of ... Read More
I embarked on Nieuw Amsterdam on Aug 4th and we set sail at 5pm. Embarkation was very well organised and there was little or no delay. Once on board the Lido was open for lunch. The food during the whole cruise was top class with plenty of choice and readily available. I sat for the early sitting in the Manhatten Dining Room and it was an enjoyable experience although travelling solo I had company at the table only on 3 evenings. Maybe the later sitting would have been better. The ports visited were delightful especially Toarmina, Montenegro, Dubrobnik and Venice. Once again I would give 10 out of 10 for the facilities of disembarking and embarking. I went on some tours. Being solo took some what away from the enjoyment of the tours. I had participated in the Roll Call in the months leading up to the cruise and had contact with 3 other cruisers,Annette, Jim and Juliewith whom I shared some of the tours. My cabin 8142 was very comfortable and I was well looked after by the 2 staff who prepared the cabin twice daily for my comfort. In general the staff were most friendly and their smile, willingness to help was much appreciated.The barbeques on deck were fantastic.I loved the freshly cooked omolettes at breakfast. I enjoye some of the stage shows although I expected better standard onmany nights Having to pay extra each day or 200 dollars for the 12 days to use the sauna and jacussie was a draw back to enjoyment on ship. Disembarking in Venice at the end of the cruise was very efficient. Overall it was for me a very good cruise. One highlight was leaving Montengro at evening it was so beautiful and the commentary on the entrance to Venice was also very well done. Being a solo traveller there was not much opportunity to get to know others as groups of people were ready made. Thanks to John and Caroline from Durham England and their friend from Newcastle the nights around the Cassino bar were full of good conversation. Well done Holland America and the Staff of Nieuw Amsterdam for your efforts that made the cruise most enjoyable.I think I will make sure I have a fellow travelleron my next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
We are a couple in our late 60's and have cruised with other lines (NCL, Carnival, Azamara, Celebrity, Princess). Our first trip on HAL was very good. We left Stewart Airport on Oct. 4 to arrive in Barcelona a day earlier than ... Read More
We are a couple in our late 60's and have cruised with other lines (NCL, Carnival, Azamara, Celebrity, Princess). Our first trip on HAL was very good. We left Stewart Airport on Oct. 4 to arrive in Barcelona a day earlier than departure. It was quite stressful as our flight was delayed and we weren't sure if we would make our connecting flight in PHL. With just minutes to spare we made the flight....so much for paying extra for early embarkation on US Air. After the 8 hour overnight flight, we arrived in Barcelona at 8:00 am. I arranged for Spain Day Tours to meet us at the airport and then go on a four hour tour of Barcelona. Felix met us and the tour was outstanding. My husband even got to see the "football" stadium. He, then, took us to the Hotel Jazz after showing us some restaurants nearby which we could walk to. Tired and hungry, we took our luggage to the room. It was small, but clean and good for one night. We went to Cuidad Global (sp.) for tapas. Hectic place, very busy; but good tapas. Sunday, we connected with two ladies we met through Cruise Critic and shared a taxi to the port. We arrived at about 11, and were on the ship about 45 minutes later....(separate line for suite passengers). We went to Lido for our first of many trips there. Our cabin was ready about 12:30. We chose cabin # 7066, and were very happy with the choice. I have a more detailed description in the cabin section. We unpacked and went exploring. The Nieuw Amsterdam is a beautiful ship (3 yrs. old). It is elegant without being pretentious. We went to muster drill on Promenade deck and our cruise was under way. We welcomed our first sea day, as the jet lag was quite severe. Our first port was Palermo, Sicily. Since we had never been to Sicily previously, we opted to take a HAL excursion, Panoramic Palermo. The excursion was good, but as with all HAL excursions, it was a bit expensive. Our next ports were Naples,(a substitute for Tunis), Civitavecchia (Rome), Livorno (Florence), and Toulon, France. After very port intensive days we returned to Barcelona. Here, we were able to stay on the ship or disembark any time without going through customs, etc. We went to Las Ramblas, shopped and had lunch (tapas), of course and back to the ship for muster drill and to begin our transatlantic crossing. Spain ports were next....Cartagena, Malaga, and Cadiz. All were beautiful and we are anxious to return there some day. One more stop in Ponta Delgada before seven sea days to FLL. Food - This is a subjective topic, so I will say that we went to all dining venues on the ship with the exception of the Le Cirque dinner. Our favorites were the Cellar Master's dinner, Tamarind, Pinnacle Grill, Main Dining room, and Lido (in that order). I feel that the hours for meals was too short. Entertainment - Another subjective area. Our opinion...Brett Cave and Cantare were very good. Others tried, but I feel missed the mark. Activities - It is my opinion, that the activities suffered because of the cruise director, Dave. He really was an announcer, not a participant. I did participate in quite a few activities....trivia, culinary demonstrations, star gazing lectures, flower arranging, chef wars, Bingo, and of course, the casino. The staff there was quite personable....most especially, Jennifer and Giancarlo. Suite amenities - Complimentary laundry, dry cleaning, pressing (used three times) and all returned within 24 hours. Neptune Lounge and concierges, Odessa and Rommel, were wonderful. We never had to go to the front desk for anything, We did have an incident with painting on the balconies. The crew went through our cabin and left paint on the sofa which went unnoticed. The smell was overwhelming. It was supposedly cleaned off after we complained, but the smell lingered. My husband wiped the sofa with plain water and it got somewhat better. I must say that the concierges were outraged at what had occurred, but we received not even an apology from HAL. After one more incident which I will not mention here, HAL did send us an apology note with "goodies". We arranged Luggage direct and after our JetBlue flight from FLL to SWF was delayed 4 hours, the luggage did arrive at SWF as arranged. In conclusion, our first experience on HAL was a positive one. We do plan to sail with them again. If you have any specific questions, I will be more than happy to respond as honestly as I can. tjld123@aol.com   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
We cruised on the Nieuw Amsterdam from October 6 - 13th in the Western Mediterranean. We visited Palermo, Naples, Civitavecchia, Livorno and Toulon. The week was fantastic. The staff on board the ship were wonderful. We loved the ports. ... Read More
We cruised on the Nieuw Amsterdam from October 6 - 13th in the Western Mediterranean. We visited Palermo, Naples, Civitavecchia, Livorno and Toulon. The week was fantastic. The staff on board the ship were wonderful. We loved the ports. The ship is in good shape. The only qualm we had with the cruise was the disappointing/uninspired dining room food. Dinner was so poor that my wife and I ate in all three alternate dining rooms after the first four nights just to avoid the main dining room. Two of the three alternate dining rooms (Pinnacle and Tamarind) were excellent. The Caneletto (portion of Lido Buffet turned into an Italian restaurant) was a slight improvement over the dining room, but had no atmosphere. A little about our family: My wife and I are in our mid/late 40's. We also traveled with our 8 (almost 9) year old son. We spent 2 days in Barcelona in advance of the cruise and 3 days after the cruise in this fantastic city. We have cruised many times over the last 15 years (typically at least once a year). We have cruised on Holland/Princess and Celebrity. This was our 5th cruise with Holland. We consider ourselves seasoned cruisers. This was our first cruise to the Mediterranean. Onboard Activities: 1. Kids Club - There were only 16 kids onboard (between 3 and 12), but our son loved the kids club. He insisted on attending rather than go to the specialty dining rooms. Even with only 4 or 5 other kids attending every night he found the program entertaining and loved the space. There were video games, giant screen tv's for movie night, and good counselors who kept them well entertained. 2. Casino - The casino was dead the week we were onboard, but the staff were extremely gracious and fun. We spent an hour or so every day at the casino and had a blast. They have most casino games (craps/roulette/blackjack/three card poker/let it ride with 3 card poker bonus). 3. Entertainment - The biggest surprise for us was that we enjoyed the onboard entertainment. Our prior Holland cruises have left us moaning about the poor quality of the singers/entertainers. Nothing could be farther from the truth on this cruise. The Hal Cats (with Ben) were fantastic. Our son ended up dancing with all the show performers to Proud Mary and became famous around the ship, which he loved. We also enjoyed Cantare (Il Divo type act) in the main theatre, as well as Brett Cave (classic British piano man entertainer). We didn't expect to enjoy Brett as we thought he would be corny/over the top, but 10 minutes in we were laughing and singing along. 4. Pool - We only had one sea day and had a great day at the mid-ship pool. Our son loved the water, we had clear skies and smooth seas. 5. Food - This was the one huge disappointment of our trip. As I mentioned we have cruised 5 times on Holland and previously have enjoyed the food. Unfortunately, on this trip, the food in the main dining room was bland and uninspired. The quality of the product was simply poor. While we realize that the cruise line is essentially providing banquet/wedding food for 2000 guests, our past experience was that Holland's main dining room provided good, tasty and creative menus. This was not the case this voyage. Food is very subjective, and some may have enjoyed the fare, but for us the quality was drastically worse than our previous voyages. The Lido Buffet was equally as poor, in our opinion. Our son ate dinner in the Lido 3 nights as he wanted to go to the kid's club and not to the alternate dining. Presentation, choices and quality were once again a huge disappointment. In addition, it seemed like the buffet was always closed/closing, leaving you feeling like you had even less choice. I think the use of Canaletto in 20 percent of the Lido, at night, causes one quadrant of the buffet to be closed for use by this restaurant, further reducing the options/choices given to you for a late night snack. From a purely subjective point of view, we much prefer the set up of the buffet on the Celebrity Solstice class ships as the two parallel buffets get cumbersome. Pinnacle Grill - This restaurant never disappoints and that was the case on this voyage. The service, ambience and food quality was all excellent and well worth the $25 upcharge. Tamarind - This was our first time in the Tamarind and we thoroughly enjoyed the dining experience. Again, the room had good ambience, the menu was creative, the service was wonderful and the food delivered on taste. Canaletto - This is the alternative italian restaurant in the Lido Buffet. The food was an improvement over the dining room and the service was good. This restaurant could serve by being moved to its own room as there is simply no atmosphere here due to its location in the buffet. Room Service - We had breakfast in the room 2 days as we had busy days touring Rome and Pisa. The food was hot, of high quality and was served right on time, despite the fact that there was a large demand for room service breakfast on these days. Barcelona - We spent two days before the cruise and 3 days after in Barcelona. This is one of our favorite cities. We stayed at the Casp74 apartments before the cruise (funky, great location, clean and lots of space) and at Hotel Gran Torre Catalunya after the cruise (23 stories, great views, modern, located next to main train station). Loved both properties. Sagrada Familia is a must see, as well as the Bouqueria market on Las Ramblas. We took our son to a Barcelona football game which was one of his highlights of the trip. It took awhile to get used to eating dinner at 9:00 p.m. but the food in the city was great. Had an amazing burger and fries at Santa Burg restaurant in the Sants district. This small restaurant is killin' it. I know that it seems crazy for an American to come to Barcelona and go for a burger, but we consider ourselves foodies and this place was great. The fries/chips were memorable. They have a burger with foie gras and carmelized apples that I want to return and try on our next trip. We also ate twice at Pura Brasa, located next to the Arenas (old bullfighting arena turned mall) on the Gran Via. Chicken hanging on skewer was mouthwatering, the pasta was great, and the corn on the cob was really good. Iberian ham is all over the city and is addictive. Loved having a croissant and coffe every morning for breakfast. The pace, even in Barcelona, is slower than in the U.S. They seem to appreciate life a little more than we do, and after a few days we settled into their pace and loved everything about the culture and the people. The people we encountered on our trip were, generally, warm, embracing and interesting. A European cruise was a nice change from the beaches and trinkets in the Caribbean. We look forward to our journey.   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
Our first HAL experience on board of the Nieuw Amsterdam: it was a very smooth and sunny cruise. Smooth: as the staff front & back of house worked very hard and above all: they engaged all passengers and were all extremely friendly ... Read More
Our first HAL experience on board of the Nieuw Amsterdam: it was a very smooth and sunny cruise. Smooth: as the staff front & back of house worked very hard and above all: they engaged all passengers and were all extremely friendly providing excellent service. Food on-board was overall very good to excellent: buffets in Lido with plenty of choice. Also evening BBQs at pool side or aft deck (we did not eat but could see the selection provided). We joined the MDR twice for lunch and one time for dinner. But the real jewel is the Tamarind: its location and small dining room provides any passenger with an exclusive dining experience: personalized service by excellent staff and the food is very very good! Fresh produce and what a choice! Pinaccle we dined twice: Le Cirque was not keeping its promise as the food on-board is already very good, but food served at Le Cirque is not better. Regular Pinaccle menu is good again and the service here is also excellent: see the Pinaccle as an upscale steak house and that is what they do very well. Tip: check if you are already a cruise passenger with history from an other Carnival group shipping company. We sailed with Cunard before and this made us already a one-star-mariner level with special perks as seperate checkin and a special Welcome Back Lunch in the MDR on the sailing day (others will join the Lido). We informed the Mariner Club prior to our sailing, so that our status was updated prior to sailing. Entertainment: let's be honest here: we want a bit of glitter in the shows with music and dance. Most places offered fantastic entertainment, but the Showroom at Sea provided very few big productions. Okay one show NYC could not perform the 2nd show due to terchnical failure, things happen. But there was one other show "cantere" which was great, but other shows were hired extra performances. They were good as well, but not the glitzy musical style shows. Dancing with the Stars appeared also, but is it not strange to have passengers perform where really the professionals should entertain you? Port visits were executed professionally: ships was docked in time and tours were offered. We have done Rick Steve's own excursions and enjoyed to walk off the ship nearly every day. There is plenty of public spaces to enjoy diuring the day or evenings and all is kept very well and very clean (she was in dry dock in April 2013). Summerize: fantastic cruise, programme, inviting ports and wonderful staff! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
I have sailed before but many years ago. This ship was wonderful. The food was great. The room (5073) with balcony was awesome. No more or less than you need with lots of storage for clothing even if you are on a 21 day , you would have ... Read More
I have sailed before but many years ago. This ship was wonderful. The food was great. The room (5073) with balcony was awesome. No more or less than you need with lots of storage for clothing even if you are on a 21 day , you would have enough room for clothing. The best part of the ship and its offerings is the staff!!! The 2 boys in charge of cleaning our room work tirelessly from early in the morning until often 10 pm or later they are still in the hall doing whatever is necessary in various rooms. Our room was often cleaned 2x in a day which I did not expect. Note to casino players, the texas hold em table is electronic, and the house takes 10%. Seeing that we were huge players of this game, we expected a person and chips, it takes awhile to get use to this and also use to having no employee in front of you. We also would recommend a full beverage card for those of you that like to drink. We went on 3 excursions only, 2 half days and 1 full day, and still used up our amount on our card. Wine, beer, pop etc is covered, but not delivery to your room. You must get your drinks at the bar and bring to your room yourself. Also, both people in your room must purchase it, not just one person. It was worthwhile for us so we would know exactly what we were spending since we had an overall budget. This ship is mainly people over 65 years old. My husband and I are in our forties and love to have a good party and we did. The age difference was fine and we met wonderful people! You can bring on 1 bottle of wine per person which is also wonderful! This trip was outstanding in every way. Kudos to the patient employees which have to deal with the odd miserable traveller. The front desk employees are amazingly patient also! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2013
We stayed at the HAL recommended Hotel Melia Barcelona before the start of our cruise and took the HAL transfer to the ship. This was the first time for my husband to see some of the places that I have been to many times. We started our ... Read More
We stayed at the HAL recommended Hotel Melia Barcelona before the start of our cruise and took the HAL transfer to the ship. This was the first time for my husband to see some of the places that I have been to many times. We started our cruise with a Trip Advisor tour of Sagrada Familia church the day we arrived in Barcelona. The next day we were transferred to the Nieuw Amsterdam by bus with other travelers who were staying at the Hotel Melia. The cabin wasn't ready when we boarded so we went to have lunch in the Dining Room while we waited. The cabin was better than we had expected with a hugh veranda. I had arranged a meet & greet for fellow Cruise Critic travelers so those of us who had planned shore excursions together could meet before we started out. It was great to finally meet people we had been corresponding with for the past 6 or 7 months. Our first port was Marseille, France. This port you can do on your own. The ship supplied a shuttle bus for 14 Euro each round trip and then we took Rick Steves advice took the Le Petit Train from the Old Port up to Notre-Dame de la Garde (8 Euro each). Our next port of call was Monaco, here we did a private tour to Nice, Eze and Monte Carlo with Rivera Premium Tour (38 Euro each) for a group of 8. Our next port of call was Livorno. Here we did another private tour with Share a Shore Excursion in Italy to Pisa and Florence (85 Euro each) for a group of 8. All of our private tours got us back to the ship in plenty of time to board. The next port of call was Civitavecchia, here we did a ship tour called Easy Rome ($94.95 each). It was a bus ride to and around Rome with a 1-1/2 hour stop at the Vatican. My husband uses a wheelchair so this was a perfect fit for us. Our next port was Naples where we did another Share a Shore Excursion In Italy tour to Herculaneum (60 Euro each) for a group of 6. There was also a fee of 11 Euro each to enter the site. If you have walking issues this is a better site than Pompei because the streets are not as hilly as Pompei. I had been to Pompei 3 times and knew my husband would not be able to do any of it, so that is why I choose Herculaneum. Now we had a day of rest at sea and we arrived the next day at Katakolon, Greece were we had another private tour arranged with Katakolon-Express to Olympia with a group of 18 (60 Euro each). We toured the Olympia historic site and the Museum and then had an included lunch at a nearby restaurant in the garden. The next port was Corfu, Greece, there was a free shuttle from the boat to the terminal which we took just to look around. We didn't do any tours here at all and just went to the duty free store at the terminal and went back to the ship to rest. Our next port was Kotor, Montenegro which is another port that you can do on your own. The highlight at this port is the sailing into the port and to walk the wall (which I did not do) up the side of the mountain. The cruise director did a running commentary on the sail into this port. We just walked around the old city and stopped to have lunch at a café then it was back to the ship. Dubrovnik, Croatia was our next port and is another that you can do on your own. There was a shuttle bus from the ship to the walled city of Dubrovnik (14 Euro each). You can not walk from the port to the city it is a long, long walk. Our final port was Venice, Italy and the sail into this port is not to be missed. I have been to Venice 4 times and this was something that you can only get to see on a big ship. The views of the city were magnificent. Venice is a city you can do on your own with a good guide book. Here we took Rick Steves advice again and took the People Mover (1 Euro each) to the Vaporetto stop on the Grand Canal. Here we bought tickets for the Vaporetto (16 Euro each/12 hours) and validated our tickets before boarding the #2 to San Marco. We walked to San Marco Square going past the Bridge of Sighs and into the square past the Doge's Place and the Basilica. Found a boarding place for a gondola ride (80 Euro for up to 6 people) and checked something else off my husband's bucket list. The ride lasted about 40 minutes and went down some of the small back canals and out into the Grand Canal and then back to where we started. It was worth 80 Euro to take a once in a lifetime ride in a gondola with my husband. Then we headed back to the ship the same way we came via the Grand Canal Vaporetto and the People Mover. It is a long walk from the ship terminal to the People Mover and an even longer walk back to the terminal because you are now going to the other end of the terminal to get back to the ship. This is the end of our cruise and we disembarked the following morning. There were not porters or luggage carts inside the terminal to help with your luggage and it is long walk to where the transfer bus parking lot. We were rushed to get out of the terminal and to the bus which I didn't like especially being I had to handle the luggage by myself. I did find a luggage cart outside the terminal (2 Euro) to load the luggage and carryon luggage on to take to the bus. Didn't realize until we got to the airport that I forgot the transport chair but we did get our monies worth out of it on this trip. The entertainment on this trip was great and the staff on all of HAL's ships are outstanding. I love when we are on a cruise and a staff member that we met on a previous cruise remembers us. That happened on this cruise when two different staff remembered us and one of them was from two years ago. The only thing I would say about this cruise is you have to realize that it is very port intensive and you are going to be tired if you try to do everything. So rest when you can and enjoy the cruise and the sites.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
What a fantastic 12 nights my bride and I had aboard this wonderful ship! I will write this review categorically beginning with Service: The best part of the cruise!!!! With the exception of one surly fellow working the waffle station and ... Read More
What a fantastic 12 nights my bride and I had aboard this wonderful ship! I will write this review categorically beginning with Service: The best part of the cruise!!!! With the exception of one surly fellow working the waffle station and one incident in the gift shop, the staff on board made the vacation an amazing one! Ship Layout, Design, Decor, and Cleanliness: A very well laid out ship, easy to get around, rarely had to wait for elevators. The only place I ever felt I was on a large ship was at the Lido Buffet, which was always busy. Otherwise, you feel like you are on a smaller ship. The ship is very nicely decorated, and was always kept very clean Our Cabin: We had a balcony cabin on Rotterdam Deck near the aft. The location was great as it was just two flights of stairs down from the adults-only Aft Pool, and the Lido Buffet. Cabin was a great use of space, we never felt cramped. I would improve the balcony slightly, by changing the small coffee table to one that is high enough to dine from (I noted that Princess and Celebrity ships docked next to us had these). I would also have liked a small rug/mat for the balcony as the deck surface was very hot when exposed to the sun. Dining: Just amazing, I will break this one down further --Lido Buffet: Terrific and comprehensive breakfast buffet. Omelette station. Waffle and Crepe station. Eggs Benny Station (with 8-10 different bennies). Stations for traditional Asian, German, Dutch, Spanish, English and North American items. Continental breakfast bar. Fresh Fruit. Juice Bar. I only ate lunch there once or twice, but again the selection was comprehensive with a panini station, pasta station and plenty of salads, hot and cold entrees, sweets. Dinner was great as it offered most if not all of the entrees featured that night in the dining room. --Terrace BBQ: I had a few great burgers and dogs here. Always fresh, and tasty fries (regular or sweet potato) served alongside. --Theme nights: They offered some great theme night casual dinners on the aft deck. Italian grill night, Greek night, middle eastern night. I swung by these and just took tiny sample portions as sort my antipasti before dinner. --Main Dining room: Just great. Main menu changed nightly and the only item I saw more than once was Prime Rib. There were also 4-5 other dishes that were always on the menu (NY Steak, Grilled Salmon, Roast Chicken). Service was attentive and very friendly, a couple nights a little slow for my liking. --Pinnacle Grill: Well worth the $25 charge. We had the mixed salad and lobster bisque for appies, a filet and a bone-in ribeye for mains, ganache cake and creme brulee trio for dessert. All were just fantastic. One the the very best steaks I've ever had! --Tamarind: We had lunch here once, which is free. Great set menu featuring hot and sour soup, salad, dumplings, fried rice and dessert (Green Tea Tiramisu) We will gladly pay the $10 charge for dinner on our next cruise! Entertainment: The evening shows were hit and miss. The New York City show, the comedian, the pianist, and Dancing with the Stars were all very good. The Magician was dull. Cantare however, was stunning. I would pay money to see that show if it came to town! We also enjoyed the various games, such as Name that Tune, Bingo and Trivia. Casino and nightclub were never crowded.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
This our first attempt at a review and we will attempt to comment on things that may be helpful to people contemplating HAL for the first time. We will not attempt to comment much on the individual ports as others could do that much ... Read More
This our first attempt at a review and we will attempt to comment on things that may be helpful to people contemplating HAL for the first time. We will not attempt to comment much on the individual ports as others could do that much better. This was our first HAL cruise but we have been on two Celebrity cruises previously. We are in our 70's. Weather was between 26 and 32 degrees Celsius during the whole cruise and we only saw rain on 2 evenings. Fellow passengers were predominately Americans and Australians in the over 50 bracket. There were very few children on board which suited the age bracket of the passengers. One of the senior staff members had his wife and 2 young boys on board and their behaviour was exemplary. Cruise Preparation Do as much research as you can before you cruise when you are going to ports you do not know, particularly in Europe. There is such a multiplicity of ports and choices within those ports that you need to be as prepared as possible prior to getting there. The history associated with the various ports is so extensive that you need to get your 'bucket list” organised before you go. Added to that you will want to spend as much time as possible enjoying yourself rather than chasing around on the internet trying to find out information. (More on the internet service later.) Knowing what you are likely to face when you get to each port will work significantly to your benefit. Usually the ship's Cruise Director provides a lot of information the night before or on the morning of arrival but that may be too late. Some ports are very easy to negotiate by yourself whereas others are quite difficult. I find that I like to switch off during the cruise so the preparation was very important for me. Pre cruise We arrived on Barcelona on the Monday prior to a Thursday departure. This allowed us plenty of time to get over the jetlag brought on by the flight from Australia. Those 3 days were not long enough however as that city is a wonderful place " something for everyone. We stayed in the Hotel Espana just off Las Ramblas behind the Liceu (Opera) theatre. This was a fantastic location central to all the action. The hotel has undergone a recent refurbishment, the rooms were modern, fantastic showers and great food " not that we ate there a lot as we were out and about much of the time. Boarding We avoided the rush at midday by arriving a couple of hours after the start of boarding in Barcelona. We were met at our taxi drop off point without any waiting, relieved of our large bags and entered the terminal via the escalators. There were only 2 other couples in the queue so we were checked through within 15 minutes whereas the queue extended out through the doorway earlier apparently. Very relaxing process. We made our way to the cabin to be met by our cabin attendants and our luggage followed within an hour. Cabin We were in cabin 5047 on the Verandah deck forward on the starboard side. We had a Deluxe Verandah cabin Category VC which, without being suite size, was perfectly adequate. Storage, particularly hanging space, was excellent and we had plenty of room for all of our luggage including the 2 empty large suitcases which we could easily store out of the way under the bed. Bathroom includes a bath which is great for people who prefer baths to showers. Toiletries were of a good quality and dispensed from containers attached to the wall " these are preferable to trying to juggle little bottles etc in a shower. Ship The ship is relatively new (Launched 2010) and I could not find fault with the condition unlike some other reviews I have seen of this ship. It is described as mid size in today's terms but is much bigger than the QEII and the Titanic which used to be the benchmarks. At 86,000 tonnes it is much smaller and easier to get around than today's giant size ships. There were 2,100 passengers with a staff to guest ratio of 38.00%. Whilst that is not as high a ratio as the 6 star ships there always seemed to be adequate staff at all times particularly in the restaurants. We loved the art works scattered around the ship particularly the New Amsterdam (New York) mural and the library scene " most ingenious. We also liked the trick with the mats in the elevators which were changed overnight to indicate what day it was. Shops were mainly aimed at selling you jewellery, watches and the ship's merchandise. It would have been good to have somewhere dedicated to selling simple everyday things like batteries, snacks, cheap cosmetics etc. Waiting until the end of the cruise enabled you to get some of the items much cheaper. Entertainment in the main theatre was acceptable. Highlight for most people was a group of 4 male singers called Cantare. We are classical music fans so the two piano recitals would have been our highight. I say would have been because they were silly enough to amplify the piano for the first recital which completely spoilt the sound " that is a no no. Thankfully the second recital night did not suffer the same problem. Both pianists were of a good standard. The highlight musically for us was the Hungarian duo Amadeus " a virtuoso Gypsy violinist and pianist. They played in the Piano Bar just outside the main (Manhattan) restaurant. The positioning was a problem as people were continually walking past on their way to and from the restaurant and many did not show any consideration for the performers and their audience. Being self centred is something that is more in evidence these days so many people kept on talking at the top of their voices. Nevertheless being able to sit and hear this duo before and / or after dinner was always a real bonus for us. They played a range of light classical music, show tunes and Hungarian and Slavonic music at a very high standard. The pianist had a couple of nights by himself and his renditions of some slower melodies like Can't you feel the Love Tonight from the Lion King were quite moving. There was lots of other entertainment available if you wanted it but HAL is not a party boat so if conga lines through the corridors are your thing look elsewhere. There are 2 pools at the top, one of which is restricted to adults. These seemed to be adequate for the 2,100 passengers we had on board. The cabanas that HAL set up near the Lido pool seem to be a waste of space. A lot of area taken up for people who might want to lie in private areas and be waited upon " not many takers so I cannot see it lasting. Most people resented the cabanas impinging on useful space. The Crow's Nest at the top front of the ship was a good area to sit and read or view port arrivals etc. The library was relatively extensive. Internet reception Might as well get my main gripe out of the way. Probably my only gripe. The ship goes to great lengths to emphasise that Satellite Internet reception is much slower than shore based internet services but I have an issue with that. I believe that the problem is that they do not provide adequate capacity for the number of users utilising their facilities. I am not a "techo” but I believe the term is bandwith and it is insufficient for the number of users. Let's just say that response times were diabolical at night when there were lots of users on the system and much better early in the morning. Whatever the time just getting signed on was time consuming by itself. I don't know what other ships are like but one suspects that as internet charges are based on time on the system it suits HAL to have slow response times to be able to sell more time. Food I decided before we went that I would organise our meals on a basis that we would be eating at different restaurants each night. The choices were: Lido Buffet restaurant Manhattan Main restaurant Canaletto Small Italian restaurant set up in an area in the Lido for dinner only with an extra charge of $10 per head Tamarind Asian restaurant " Free for lunch but $15 per head in the evening Pinnacle Grill restaurant with a charge of $25 per head The last three required prior booking although they were sometimes available on the day. Food is also available by the pools if you wish. Without bragging I should say that I have eaten in some of the best restaurants in London, Zurich, Munich, New York, Sydney and Melbourne generally at other people's expense so my comments are made by someone who has had some experience of what the food in top quality restaurants is like. My thoughts on the various restaurants are as follows; Lido Good standard of buffet restaurant food Manhattan You have a choice of having fixed seating or just turning up at the door. Fixed seating works well for people travelling in a group. You can also elect to sit with others or ask for a table by yourselves. Food is quite pleasant and we were never disappointed. Canaletto Best described as OK but not worth paying extra money for. Tamarind For us this was the best restaurant on the ship. The Indonesian girls that waited on us were lovely and could not do enough for us. The food is of an exceptional standard. Lunch is dim sum where you can select one of a few different soups, then are provided a fixed menu consisting of some steamed and fried items which were beautifully cooked followed by dessert. I have to say that the fried spring rolls were outstanding " big fat juicy rolls in a beautiful crispy light wrap. Evenings were a la carte and we were given a good range of items to choose from in their four categories of Earth, Wind, Water and Fire (Fire having the spiciest dishes but the level of spicing could be moderated if you wanted.). The food was always beautifully cooked topped off by some excellent desserts. My favourite was Tamarind Chocolate " A Chocolate and Ginger mousse in a bittersweet chocolate basket. I had lots of those. Pinnacle Grill This is their top restaurant and is somewhat more formal than the other restaurants in the way of expensive restaurants worldwide. They specialised in steaks and they were excellent. The porterhouse was a real challenge (In Australia we would call it a T-Bone). Enjoyed their jumbo shrimp cocktails as well. They had 2 special nights on each 12 day sector where they featured a special menu. We went to An Evening at Le Cirque which cost $39 per head instead of $25 and featured a menu based on the menu of Le Cirque restaurant in New York. The butternut pumpkin soup and chateaubriand I had that night are probably the best I have ever tasted. Cruise Our cruise was basically a 12 day cruise of the Western Mediterranean commencing in Barcelona followed by a 12 day cruise of the Eastern Mediterranean with Venice being the mid point and end port. The cruise stopped at a multiplicity of ports with port days occupying 20 of the 24 days. The only duplication apart from Venice was Katakolon (the port for Olympia in Greece). Stopping in so many ports could have been exhausting so we paced ourselves as to which ports we did excursions in. We were more interested in having a relaxing cruise than exhausting ourselves at our age. Half a day was nowhere near enough to see the larger cities anyway. The cruise was however a good way to get a feel for a large number of places and decide on those you would like to revisit. For us it was all of the larger cities. The ship's shore excursions are typically very expensive and should only be used if you have not been able to identify excursions you can organise yourself or are unable to access public transport. Just remember that the ship will not wait for you if your independent excursion is late so leave yourself plenty of time to get back to the ship. The other consideration is how far from public transport the ship is moored. Some cruise lines (?Oceania) make sure they get you to a bus station or train station but HAL did not so you are bit on your own. There do seem to be plenty of taxis at every port. The ports where you were very close to transportation were: Monaco Katakolon (for Olympia) Kusadasi (for Ephesus) Piraeus (for Athens) Hop on Hop off buses come to the port Dubrovnik Naples (but in a big mess because of the Metro construction) Argostoli Ports which were difficult were; Marseille Livorno (for Florence) Civitavecchia (for Rome) Do your research and it will be easier. Each port has its own charm and places of interest so rather than try to tell you things that many other people have said better than me, I would just like to say that coming in to Venice, Istanbul and Santorini on a ship is a thrill not to be missed particularly on your first visit to those places. The best investment I made on the ship was the cleaning and pressing service which cost us $108 for each of the 12 day segments. To not have the nuisance of wet clothes hanging around the cabin, to always have clean clothes and to step off the ship with everything clean for our further 2 weeks in the UK was worth every cent. Airports Three experiences which were negatives: 1. Singapore Our changeover in Singapore was supposed to be 60 minutes but was actually 35 minutes by the time we left the plane. We had to rush the full length of one terminal to the train which look us to another terminal and then rush the full length of that terminal to the gate. Not recommended for us oldies. Conversely our changeover in Singapore on the way back was 2 & ½ hours and we only had to move two gates away from where we landed, 2. Barcelona There were only 3 Passport control officers on dutyin arrivals in Barcelona for a 300 seat plane and any others that arrived after that. There were more policemen and women controlling the angry crowd than there were people on passport control. 3. Venice Venice airport is wonderful once you get through check in and customs " quite modern with plenty of shops and eateries. At Check In there are virtually no seats for those who have to wait for Check In to open. Not a wonderful experience sitting on your luggage. We can thoroughly recommend this cruise for someone who wants to get a taste of a large number of Mediterranean ports and be extremely well fed during the trip. For 2014 the 24 day cruise with some minor port changes on the Nieuw Amsterdam is called "Magic of the Mediterranean”. Read Less
Nieuw Amsterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.5 0.0
Public Rooms 4.5 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 4.5 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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