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7 Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise from Fort Lauderdale

7 Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise from Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)

Nieuw Amsterdam
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  • Day 1
    Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
  • Day 2
  • Day 3
    Grand Turk
  • Day 4
    San Juan
  • Day 5
    St. Thomas
  • Day 6
  • Day 7
    Half Moon Cay
  • Day 8
    Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)

Nieuw Amsterdam

Nieuw Amsterdam - Holland America Line


Unique entertainment options and a high standard of service that sets it apart


Overcrowded at times and occasionally inconsistent fee-based dining

Bottom Line

A great choice for a pampered, laid-back vacation -- particularly for music lovers

Cruise Reviews

1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
Preface: I'll preface my review by saying that my partner and I are both 29 and 33 respectively and we were some of the "younger" passengers. Albeit, I did read plenty of reviews before sailing and knew that Holland America ... Read More
Preface: I'll preface my review by saying that my partner and I are both 29 and 33 respectively and we were some of the "younger" passengers. Albeit, I did read plenty of reviews before sailing and knew that Holland America (HAL) was geared towards a more mature crowd so we knew what we were booking. We planned our trip in May 2018 for an Eastern Caribbean itinerary when we first discovered HAL. I traveled on NCL, Carnival, and Disney previously. We were looking for a more refined and relaxed atmosphere (without the hairy chest and belly flop contests). This is a review for the 7 day journey: Ship 5/5: Beautiful ship from the moment you step on to the moment you disembark. Nieuw Amsterdam is one of their newer ships with modern amenities with millions of dollars worth of artwork throughout. I always found something new regardless of how many times I walked the same path. I felt like the ship had a great layout and I never had difficulty finding my way after day 2. It just made sense where points of interests were located. I also seen that this ship is under constant upkeep. I always see crew either painting or cleaning, always making sure the ship is looking new and in great condition. It was also a perfect size being not too large at only 2,000 guests. Sure I've seen the same people over and over again which I loved but I never wondered why is it so crowded as crowds didn't exist except for day 1 at embarkation at the buffet which is expected. Cabin 4.7/5: We stayed in an AFT verandah cabin which I absolutely LOVED! The room was very well appointed for two people and we never felt like we didn't have space either for clothes, belongings, or just two people living together. The room was a great size and the bed was super (and I mean overly) comfortable bed. We never had a problem sleeping at night which could be a combination of not having internet or just the full days we had. We had the perfect room stewards Marko and Suko. Both were so quick at making our room up and cleaning it (albeit we aren't messy people and I actually clean before I leave the room as I feel bad for the long days most workers work...more on that later) and always worked around our schedule. The only downside of the room is it did feel a little outdated. I would love to see the bathroom and a few things updated. Again, how often are you in the room?! Although they did have a plentiful on demand selection of movies to watch. Dining 4.5/5: No matter what restaurant we went to we always had a great meal. The one restaurant that really stood out was the Pinnacle Grill. You may hear a few things about this restaurant, and the positive you hear is true! The service and food was phenomenal. The Pinnacle Grill restaurant is not included and costs $35 per person BUT I will say that price is justified. I included some photos of how many crab legs were included with my meal. We also ate at Lido Buffet and the Main Restaurant in addition to the pizza and burger place and I can honestly say I never had a bad meal. All of the food was very good! I do wish they had more Asian dishes. Why I rated it a 4.5 out of 5 as the food was a 5/5 is because whenever you go to a restaurant they really want you to buy drinks because the person selling the drinks gets an 18 percent tip. So when you order a glass of wine they will try to upsell a bottle. It just got a little pushy sometimes as I get they are just trying to make money but I don't like to be second guessed when I make a choice as "why don't you want a bottle as it's only 23 dollars more?". Overall they will leave you alone if you say "I'm fine" but I just don't like the high treasure sales tactics when I am on vacation. Entertainment and Activities 4.9/5: Now hear me out...we are on a ship in the middle of the ocean, how entertained do you want to be? I won't be critical of the entertainment on ship as I know for a fact the entertainers really gave it their all every night for several months. So into the review...The entertainment on board for the nighttime mainstage ranged from Billboard dancing to Latin Night which I found very entertaining. They also had a comedian and magician. I missed the comedian so we went to the magician with very low expectations and my face hurt from laughing so much. He was hilarious. Throughout the day the had other entertainment for all such as Windows 10 classes, floral arrangements, towel animals, piano request entertainment, and more! I'll be honest there wasn't a time on the schedule where I looked and didn't see something going on that I could attend. I just chose not to go to somethings as I wanted to relax. To end the review there is something for everyone on board and especially during At Sea days. Service 5/5: I work professionally in hospitality where we always use the 10ft rule. If someone is within 10ft of you, you acknowledge them. HAL must use the 25ft rule. When they either see you coming or approach they immediately focus on you and say hello and stop what they are doing. It was totally unexpected but something very small that made a huge difference. I felt like royalty on this ship. I still remember even the smallest request where we asked our room steward can we have ice on the first day for drinks. In the morning and at night they always made sure to refill our ice. Sure, I don't know if they did this for everyone but it was appreciated. Also we always order the same drinks when we go to the Billboard On Board bar and the staff always ask if they can get us the same drink. It was this that out of 2000 passengers made us feel like we were the only ones. Ports and Shore Excursions: I will review each port with a very small snippet review Grand Turk: 3.7/5 Maybe it was the excursion we picked or I don't know but I feel like when I wasn't on the tropical island that was raved about. Instead I felt like we were on a small private island that was commercialized. I would recommend snorkeling!! Puerto Rico: 4.8/5 Such a nice island! I been hear many times and even coming back multiple times there is just so much to do. This is a location where you don't need to book an excursion and just walk around if you are able. St. Thomas: 4.9/5 This island was my ultimate favorite on this entire itinerary! The island is just beautiful every way you look at it. What I would recommend is booking a Jeep or car and exploring the island yourself. There is so much to see and do but with a car you can do what you want to do. Why I took off such a small amount is because I been planning for us to dock at a certain port (Havensight) for months and constantly checked daily and even the ports calendar said we would dock at a certain location. Up until the moment we arrived we docked at Crown Bay which took quite a bit of logistical planning to get to Havensight for our Jeep. I would definitely book come back here. Half Moon Cay: 2.7/5 Sigh...and breathe. Now that I got that over with let me write my review. Let me say that this port had my biggest expectation which may have swayed my review. When we arrived we were made aware that the Koningsdam and us were the two ships that were docked at this port this day. Side information is that Half Moon Cay is owned by Carnival as their private island. The Konsingsdam holds a good amount of passengers and our ship holds a good amount of passengers. The island just felt very overwhelming and I didn't find it relaxing at all. We booked a Clam Shell three months in advanced which is an umbrella with two chairs. Since our ship was delayed by an hour for a medical emergency (no fault to anyone, things happen) we found it very difficult to find a chair. Every person we went to told us to go somewhere else. Finally we found a clamshell in front of a very loud family. We just head back to the ship after being on the island for 2 hours. The food on the island was very good and the staff that pulled the meal off was very good! Other: The crew is what makes the ship a solid 10/10 as they work such long days and are always looking for ways to make you happy. We booked a Retreat Cabana for the At Sea days and Korn and Raymond work such long days but always had a smile. I would say the crew is what makes Nieuw Amsterdam the ship that it is. My very minor (is he really complaining about theses things?) complaint section: Some very minor things that didn't change my trip at all but I thought I could always add it below. - I found the bathrooms to be adequate size but the toilet seats to be very small. I am by no means a big guy being 5'7 and 145 pounds but they just seemed small. - There was no midnight buffets or late night dining options past 11:30pm except for room service. I wish they had a buffet at midnight or maybe a specialty snack station. But knowing the demographics of the ship maybe midnight really is too late. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
We arrived a day early in Fort Lauderdale and stayed at Embassy Suites near the Cruise Port. We ended up taking the hotel's shuttle as Uber was too busy, we knew the cost was $9/person for the service. Hotel did not have room ready so ... Read More
We arrived a day early in Fort Lauderdale and stayed at Embassy Suites near the Cruise Port. We ended up taking the hotel's shuttle as Uber was too busy, we knew the cost was $9/person for the service. Hotel did not have room ready so they gave us dining credit at their restaurant, which was mediocre even for free food. Embassy has a nice pool, coy ponds and water fall and conveniently located in front of Total Wine, a grocery store and restaurants for those that want to load up on soda, wine etc to take on the cruise. Picked up Uber at the hotel for $15 to pier 21. Took under 5 minutes to get through security at 11:15 and we were on the ship and in our room before 12pm as group 12 to embark. Easy. Checked out the ship, grabbed lunch at the Lido and hit the pool with the kids. The Edge was parked next to us, it is a beautiful giant ship. We were the last to leave of 7 ships in port that day just after 5pm. We sat down at dinner after 6 on level 2 for Open Dining. This was our least favorite experience of our week on NA. The waiter and his assistant were less than good at being waiters. As parents of kids with allergies we know it is our responsibility to check what has nuts and what doesn't, but HAL makes a big deal about allergy issues during our registration and express document so one would think that this would be taken care of when we sit down for dinner. On our previous cruise the assistant maitre d' discussed the allergy with my daughter prior to us getting food at the table, this time nothing not even the waiter asking anyone at the table. I found this odd. We watched one of our dishes be offered to the adjacent table and then placed back on what I call the waiter stand with the other three dishes for almost 10 minutes before it was served to us.... It doesn't matter what the dish is it isn't boing to be great after that long, our snapper was average the kids' steaks were not great. Ordered dessert and decaf, received regular and the wrong dessert. Anyway we knew what section not to be in the rest of the week. Sea day was relaxing, beautiful sunrise in the morning from the Explorer's Cafe. The kids and I ate in the Lido and one of them noticed a dolphin jump off the side of the ship that we enjoyed briefly of another few jumps, lucky. Lido breakfast is very good, fresh made eggs nearly anyway you want including omelets, poached and fried; but scrambled are pre-made. We love the eggs and crepe stations along with what else bacon. The chocolate croissants seemed to find my plate each morning as well. The service is always with a smile and the service at the tables for drink refills is impeccable. Lunch at the Dive-in for burgers, hot dogs chicken sandwiches and maybe the best fries you will ever have. The taco bar in the lido makes a nice guacamole and chip dish for a nice snack at the pool as well. Dinner at 5:15 as the reservation line for Open dining pushed us to have that or 745. You can also show up without a reservation anytime between 515 and 8 to be seated. They turned people away after 8 pm. We had a window table for the four of us this evening and had a wonderful waiter, Putu Subeka. First words out of his mouth were "does anyone have food allergies?" Made me realize that our first waiter failed at this step in his training. We requested Putu's section each night thereafter. He remembered how we liked steaks cooked the next night and that our daughter had a nut allergy, made recommendations of what we might like each night and that portions of certain dishes may be smaller than we would like... so order more than what the initial dish. He made our dining experience more enjoyable and we thank him for that. Favorite dinners were Gala night filet and lobster (don't be shy ask for another tail) and the veal cutlets. The veal was amazing! Our girls enjoy the steaks that we learned our a little cooked a little past what we prefer so we ordered them medium instead of medium well and that was to their liking. HAL has several dishes on the menu each night that don't change French Onion Soup, a salad, Salmon and a New York Strip steak. The steak now has a peppercorn sauce that we didn't enjoy, once ordered without this sauce it is a nice steak. Other dishes that stood out were the mushroom risotto as an excellent dish the, shrimp cocktail and coconut shrimp were our favorite appetizers. The first stop was Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos. We were on the port side of the ship and felt like we were at the beach the pier is so close... I had a call to be on so unfortunately we didn't do an excursion here. The beach is nice, but I suggest going to the other side of the pier as the snorkeling is better and you're not staring at the ships. We were going to walk around the corner of the island for better snorkeling, but the sea was a little rough due to a storm blowing in, I had read the snorkeling was better there. We did see an octopus, huge barracuda and some coral, but unfortunately too many people walk on the coral in the shallow water and it is having a hard time recovering from the hurricane. There are better beach stops that Grand Turk, explore the island rather than sit at a small beach. Next port Old San Juan, PR. We had been here in the past for a long weekend so felt comfortable driving (warning the locals don't know how to use blinkers and often cut from one side of the freeway to the opposite to exit - worse than all of the bad Chicagoan drivers I know). We took and Uber to the airport to get a rental car for the day. Unfortunately getting in at 1pm and all aboard at 10:30 didnt allow us to see the forts, rainforest and beaches in one trip. We elected to show the kids the only rainforest in the USA, El Yunque, though it was beat up by Hurricane Maria. Half of this national forest is still closed, you can see several waterfalls from the road or short hike, but the best waterfall and hike in the park are still closed; El Mina Falls. The lookout which allows you to see the sea from the forest is still open. We saw and felt the waterfalls, found a bunch of lizards and decided to hit the beach. We chose to go the Isla Verde as it is beautiful and close to the airport for our rental return (the airport car rentals are open 24/7 vs most in OSJ that close at between 4 and 5). Great beach for perfect body surfing waves, chilling in clean soft sand. Stayed here past sunset and the other 3 got no-seeum bites due to this.... lesson learned. This was our favorite beach of the trip and only one with waves. The other beach that is easy to reach via car/Uber is Condado both are in safe areas with plenty of security. Back to return the rental car. Uber cannot pick up at SJU yet, so it was a $24 taxi ride back to the ship for a shower. Plenty of time to shop though many of the shops closed at 6 or 7. We walked by CVS/Walgreens along the water and then up towards OSJ and there was a gift shop open within 4 blocks of the water. Good selection of shirts, trinkets, and normal souvenir junk. Walked around SJU to show the kids the European feel of the city and paver streets. Such a cool city. Off to grab some Lido ice cream and a movie in the room. Our third stop in as many days was St. Thomas. We docked at sunrise in a gorgeous port staring at the island and its hills/mountains. We have snorkeled around much of North America and won't go on a "cattlemaran" with 50 plus people. I found a small charter called Bama Breeze V.I. who would customize the trip to our liking. I highly recommend them for any of your boating needs in the USVI, our only disappointment was that we booked the half day instead of the full day. Pay the extra to be picked up near your ship as we did. My phone plan through Verizon allows us to use our phones in US Territories so I was able to call the charter that our planned docking location had changed. We snorkeled in the crystal clear waters of Buck Island above a shipwreck and along the shoreline that has beautiful coral that is regrowing and is nearly recovered from the recent hurricanes. We saw a giant stingray buried in the sand and two octopi amounts the dozens of fish species, great spot. There were other tours here, but we were able to stay away from them for the most part. Off to Water Island for a rest stop and then to Honeymoon Beach (on Water Island). Honeymoon beach is protected in a bay is a marina, has several bars, the softest white sand, grassy swim area, and lots of TURTLES. We swam/snorkeled with 7 or 8 turtles here for nearly an hour. They are truly amazing to watch in the water and so rare to see that many at once. You can take a ferry from the mainland to Water Island. Captain Doug dropped us near the ship. A quick change and off to downtown for a souvenir or two. St. Thomas has open sided vans that they use for taxis, they drive on the wrong side of the road and frankly there was no way I was driving here. $4 per person to get a ride to downtown on the taxi. Found the market to be lackluster and headed to a shop. The taxi dropped me off at the grocery store, Pueblo (I think), for Dt. Mountain Dew. That is right Dt. Mountain Dew on St. Thomas, not in or on Puerto Rico. My wife is addicted to it so we needed to get a 12 pack, $6 wasn't bad for an island stop and well worth it for my wife. The "supermarket" as they call it is a short walk from Crow or Crown Bay (people called it both). A relaxing sea day followed by a tender ride to Half Moon Cay. While the beach at HMC is gorgeous, it is fairly crowded with 2 ships in for the day, the food is below average at the "cook out" and the swimming areas are fairly small. This was our least favorite stop on the Eastern Caribbean Voyage. Disembarkation day was a quick breakfast, finish packing and then waited in the US customs line for maybe 15 minutes. Easy. Uber to the airport and on our way home to cold WI. No vacation is perfect, but this one was amazing. We made memories as a family, had a lot of laughs, wonderful service, delicious food and met a lot of friendly people along the way. Thank you HAL for taking great care of us and putting your best foot forward for your guests. I almost forgot, the captain came on the loudspeaker at 630p on our last sea day to make an announcement to tell passengers to stay off the open decks and balconies. One of our fellow passengers had to be evacuated off the ship... A somber moment in our cruise, we were told the passenger made it to the hospital and was doing well... We pray that this passenger and the family are doing well. We hadn't seen this before and it certainly amazing that the Coast Guard is able to take someone from the ship within a moments notice (an hour or so...) talented selfless people. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
We had a a group that ranged from kids to seniors on a Thanksgiving Cruise. We are avid cruisers but had never been on Holland America. We all loved it! The food was amazing and the entertainment was better than we expected. The evening ... Read More
We had a a group that ranged from kids to seniors on a Thanksgiving Cruise. We are avid cruisers but had never been on Holland America. We all loved it! The food was amazing and the entertainment was better than we expected. The evening music options were fantastic. The ship was kept immaculate and had the most attentive crew onboard. They definitely had less of a party vibe and a more relaxed, calmer mature feel to the ship. I heard that there are plenty of kids on board when it’s a holiday or summer. I enjoyed the quieter aspects of it but could see how a younger adult crowd might want a little more excitement. The kids club was fun for the kids but very basic as far as the activities planned. It was a mixture of games with a little arts and crafts mixed in. Their private island was fantastic with plenty of beach chairs and a gorgeous beach and view. Read Less
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