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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2014

Service in the dining room was disorganized and very slow. The waiters are having to serve more tables but that didn't excuse the chaos that characterized the first and last night's dining. The dining room staff looked quite stressed. ... Read More

Service in the dining room was disorganized and very slow. The waiters are having to serve more tables but that didn't excuse the chaos that characterized the first and last night's dining. The dining room staff looked quite stressed. The courses that were served sometimes differed from the menu description. The musical ensemble no longer plays at dinner. The chocolate buffet has gone. And room service was inconsistent.

Nevertheless the ship is well maintained and elegant and the atmosphere was generally friendly and relaxed.

This was our 5th HA cruise and I suspect that the short cruises out of the US offer somewhat less than the longer cruises from foreign ports.

One delightful aspect of this cruise was the large number of children taking advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday. Very unusual for HA cruises but it was great to so them enjoying the experience.

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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2014

Are you looking for a show that is different and wonderful? I highly recommend the Cantaré show on the Nieuw Amsterdam that I have seen a total of five times on two cruises. (I got to see it so many times because my 14-day cruise ... Read More

Are you looking for a show that is different and wonderful? I highly recommend the Cantaré show on the Nieuw Amsterdam that I have seen a total of five times on two cruises. (I got to see it so many times because my 14-day cruise is a sum of two seven-day cruises, Western and then Eastern Caribbean. I've been on this cruise twice.)

The show is simple. It is four male singers from the ship's entertainment company, but the choices of the music, the staging, and the arrangements are perfection. I got three CD's, one for my house, one for my car, and one as a gift.

It all was part of a very lovely cruise over Thanksgiving on a very nicely laid out ship. There are great entertainment venues, and the ship is new and well appointed. The food was good. The staterooms attendants about the best we've ever had.

Only one problem. Being Thanksgiving, there were 200+ children on board. They were more apparent than on most other cruise lines I've been on. Most were lovely and a pleasure to be around, but then there were a few whom the parents didn't even bother to try and control.

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Sail Date: December 2013

RATINGS (out of 10):

Stateroom 'VA' veranda - 8

Ship condition - 9

Staff - 10

Food quantity/variety - 9

Food quality - 6

Itinerary - 10

Grand Turk catamaran/snorkel - 7

San ... Read More

RATINGS (out of 10):

Stateroom 'VA' veranda - 8

Ship condition - 9

Staff - 10

Food quantity/variety - 9

Food quality - 6

Itinerary - 10

Grand Turk catamaran/snorkel - 7

San Juan PR strolling - 7

St. Martin Orient Bay Beach - 6

Half Moon Cay - 10

Entertainment - 7

Spa Massage - 1 (one)

Gym - 9

Poolside - 6

COMMENTS

1. My wife enjoyed her couples massage, but I felt that my masseuse was untrained. She did not work the muscles, but merely smoothed oil gently over my skin. She hardly touched my neck, which was the #1 area of stress/tension that I told her about. She asked if I wanted hot stones, but failed to mention the $20 extra charge. At the end, the up-marketing began in earnest, as they tried to sell many expensive oils and cremes. When it was all said and done, I felt like I had been ripped off. I've had far better massages for $50-60.

2. I would compare the food to a Golden Corral: Lots of quantity and variety, but the quality is only so-so. Best items were breakfast and the poolside french fries. Not what you could call gourmet.

3. The ship's regular entertainers were only mediocre, but the BB King band had some real talent. Each of the 6 band members held their own individually and as a group, and the 2 singers were outstanding. They will be on the ship until March 2014. I only wish they had actually played blues like BB King, rather than "Rhythm &" Blues.

4. The snorkeling would have been far better if they had done it in 10 feet of water instead of 30-40 ft. And it was about twice too expensive.

5. Fabled Orient beach is small, dirty and trashy. But at least you could get 6 Coronas for only $10.

6. By contrast the beach at Half Moon Cay was gorgeous: super clean, soft lovely sand, good swimming area, BBQ, etc. The clamshell umbrella was a good deal.

7. This was Christmas week, and they tried, but it sure didn't seem like Christmas. More like a "Happy Gingerbread House Holiday."

8. The staff were very friendly, helpful and hard-working. The service was excellent, albeit slow in the main dining room. But they were practically running non-stop, so no lack of effort... just a massive undertaking to serve so many people.

BOTTOM LINE

Enjoyable and relaxing, maybe an 8.5 score. But we're not sure we'll cruise again soon... will have to weigh cost & convenience vs. a land trip.

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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2013

My wife and I decided on a last minute cruise at Christmas time, and had a great deal on the December 23rd sailing of the msNoordam out of Ft. Lauderdale. We flew to FLL and spent the night at the Crowne Plaza, only one mile from both ... Read More

My wife and I decided on a last minute cruise at Christmas time, and had a great deal on the December 23rd sailing of the msNoordam out of Ft. Lauderdale. We flew to FLL and spent the night at the Crowne Plaza, only one mile from both the airoprt and the port. We booked a guarantted cat VH stateroom and were upgraded to a cat VD stateroom (4053) and loved it. I had read some discouraging reviews about how the HAL had slipped in terms of service, but thankfully we did not find that the case at all. We had sailed on the msVeendam in 2003 and 2004 and this trip was every bit as good as our last expereiences, which we both rated 9 out of 10. The service, the food and the people we met during the cruise all made for wonderful memories that we will cherish for years to come.

We visited the Bahamas (Half Moon Cay) and it was the most beautiful beach we have ever been to. We walked the beach, took a swim and enjoyed the fabulous barbeque; all of it at no cost. The next day we were at sea (Christmas day) and theere was plenty of holiday spirit throughout the ship. The next day we were in port at Falmouth, Jamaica and the market square was nice but we felt very uncomfortable outsidet the gated village area (the locals are way too aggressive and most everyone we spoke to found that to be the case). The rest of the cruise was spent visiting the Cayman Islands (Georgetown, Grand Cayman) and Key West, FL and we enjoyed our coach tours around the various points of interest.

The entertainment on board was first class except for the lead singer of one of the bands, but the highlight was the BB King tribute band whom were terrific and that we saw their show on three different nights.

I love sailing on HAL and believe they offer the best in class of any mid-sized cruise liner. 1915 passengers and a crew of 800 suits me and my wife just fine, and despite what you hear, there are folks of every age on board although it is an older versius younger crowd that you will likely find on board.

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Sail Date: December 2013

Embarking was a breeze - good start. Cabin 4010 - very nice, balcony cabin- clean and spacious. Room attendants greeted us and provided a card with their names and contact details.

I was very disappointed that the ship had no ... Read More

Embarking was a breeze - good start. Cabin 4010 - very nice, balcony cabin- clean and spacious. Room attendants greeted us and provided a card with their names and contact details.

I was very disappointed that the ship had no "wow" factor, compared to 2 Royal Carribbean Ships I have sailed on - it was very boring,no fabulous staircase or art work to look at.

The meals in the a la carte restaurant were excellent along with the service.

No problems getting served at the bars.

The croupiers in the casino were pretty dull and one of them kept making mistakes.

The entertainment was dire - especially for Xmas - very much same old same old as the singers stayed with the ship, unlike RC where they fly in and out. One of the singers should really not have been there. I have to say, in the end, we stopped going to the shows but went on the last night and it was just as bad.

Photographers were terrible - we had some formal shots done, only one was full length and showed off my lovely new long gown but sadly the faces were out of focus. In one really nice photo I had my eyes closed and the photographer told me that they were not closed - in the print, my eyes were closed! Didn't buy any photos as they were poor.

Shore excursions were very "tourist trap based". Diving excursion got cancelled as their boat had broken down, so we found a dive centre ourselves and dived - for half the cost the ship was charging.

Internet is ridiculously priced - don't understand why they charge so much. No good for teenagers trying to study.

Very helpful and friendly staff all round the ship without exception.

I would not recommend this cruise line for families with older teenagers - the no alcohol rule was not such an issue - although it was a shame they were not allowed to join us with some champagne on Xmas day - but there was nothing for them to do in the evening - this ship better suits the older generation.

Disembarkation again was a breeze - very good and efficient.

We won't use this cruise line again as it does not have the glamour appeal that you would expect on a cruise ship - no champagne on Xmas Day and poor entertainment…..

RC here we come…..

 

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Sail Date: December 2013

Two week Christmas /New Year back to back cruise of eastern/western Caribbean. Family group of grand parents, parents and two boys 11 and 8 from the UK.. Stayed at the Hyatt pier 17 before embarkation, well placed and relaxing. ... Read More

Two week Christmas /New Year back to back cruise of eastern/western Caribbean. Family group of grand parents, parents and two boys 11 and 8 from the UK.. Stayed at the Hyatt pier 17 before embarkation, well placed and relaxing. Embarkation very easy and balcony cabin lovely and loads of storage.

Tried all three speciality restaurants and loved the Tamarind. Main dining room a delight and food and service faultless. We also had breakfast in there most days .Kids club was a huge success, plenty of children on board and very well organised. Our boys loved all the activities and the staff were great. Christmas Day and New Years eve were excellent, and the activities brilliant. Father Christmas was wonderful. The New years eve party in the main showroom was great fun and our boys ended up dancing on the stage. The crew were lovely. I enjoyed all the shows. Half Moon Key as ever was delightful. Holland America should advertise it more. We did our own shore trips although on the back to back day at Fort Lauderdale, we did the airboat tour to the Everglades and that was very enjoyable. We had an early flight so were off the boat by 8am. Back in the UK with some wonderful memories

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Sail Date: December 2013

We were three families 6 cabins. We did our Xmas/New Year’s Eve (14 nights back to back) cruise on Holland America’s (HAL) newer ship the Nieuw Amsterdam this year 2013/14. We switched from Princess to HAL a few years back ... Read More

We were three families 6 cabins. We did our Xmas/New Year’s Eve (14 nights back to back) cruise on Holland America’s (HAL) newer ship the Nieuw Amsterdam this year 2013/14. We switched from Princess to HAL a few years back because HAL is one of the few remaining cruise lines that allows you to have a smoke on your balcony otherwise we would still be on Princess. I just heard RCCL has also “outlawed” smoking on balconies also! I find this sad they cannot accommodate smokers in some manner in allowing balcony smoking. I guess the remaining cruise lines left to harvest of vacation dollars other than HAL that allow smoking on balcomies are the mother ship cruise line, Carnival and now NCL which we are happily exploring again as options. We have many cruises under our belt, maybe 50 since 2002. Cruising has been as very good vacation value over these years for us. Usuallly the airfare is the bigger consideration in determining whether we take a cruise. Let me get back to this cruise. This year was a cheap year for a holiday cruise. It must be the ecomony. The cabins were going for more than 65% off for the last few months before sailing. I find Holland OK but an older crowd for sure. I should say that I am 59 years old. I get the feeling (talking to the people in the casino) that most of the younger families with small kids on these Holland cruise, were there as invited guests of the grandparents and that is fine. It’s too bad the HAL cruise line would never give a thought to having one on the many countdown locations, for New Years Eve, on the open-air Lido deck. I still remember on our first New Years Eve cruise years back on Carnival’s Spirit(2003) what a great party atmosphere under the stars. I imagined at the time it was as good an atmosphere as being NYC in time square. I am so excited for the new NCL big ships that are coming out, having fireworks every cruise. What a simple marvel idea!

The drink packages are a great NEW idea for those wishing to sign up for it. Obviously some young business analyst pointed this out to the finance people in the cruise industry. I think a no brainer as they say. Other than the other mega cruise conglomerates, the all inclusive resort competition is providing a holiday package where the cost of drinks is off the table. It is included! Worse than that when you think about it, booze on the high seas is tax free. That average drink they charged $8 for, cost them probably less than 20 cents gross before other expenses. Also missing on HAL is any late night adult entertainment as other cruise lines are often providing. Other than that, the chef’s, dining area/room and cabin steward staff is top shelf as they normally are with all cruise lines I have found. And that is the major reason today a cruise is better than an all-inclusive vacation. The 2nd reason is the casino staff experience is still better than anything at an all-inclusive. Watch out once they figure that out.

Tip to HAL: take the lido deck extra tables you have tried squeezing in and have been placed in the walking pedestrian area in the lido desk out! Nothing worse than bumping into and walking around dazed people every single day of the cruise in the lido deck when it gets very busy.

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Sail Date: December 2013

We have a lovely time sailing with Nieuw Amsterdam. Ship was beautiful, clean and uncluttered.

We did experience a few issues. The transfer from the airport to the ship (organized by HAL) was not good. Because of weather and ... Read More

We have a lovely time sailing with Nieuw Amsterdam. Ship was beautiful, clean and uncluttered.

We did experience a few issues. The transfer from the airport to the ship (organized by HAL) was not good. Because of weather and flight delays we had to scramble to get the FLL in time. We arrived just before 2pm but were left waiting at the airport until after 3:30 pm (and the ship sailed at 4pm). The same with the transfer from the ship to the airport. We waited on the bus for more than an hour before we left for the airport. We have decided not ever to use transfers arranged by HAL.

The entertainment on board the ship was also not great. Probably saw the most boring / terrible show ever on any ship/cruise liner ever (juggling act with a dog running across the stage - very amateurish).

We also find the service during afternoon tea in the main dining room very slow and unfriendly. Food was excellent. We will sail with HAL again. Our next cruise is with Celebrity - will interesting to compare our experience.

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Sail Date: November 2013

We did our second consecutive Thanksgiving cruise with HAL on the Westerdaam and we have come away from both extremely pleased with the ship, its service personnel, its itinerary and especially the food. In over 15 years of ... Read More

We did our second consecutive Thanksgiving cruise with HAL on the Westerdaam and we have come away from both extremely pleased with the ship, its service personnel, its itinerary and especially the food. In over 15 years of cruising...mostly aboard Princess, we switched to HAL two years ago after dealing with an extremely unpleasant maitr 'd aboard the Grand Princess. While Westerdaam is not nearly as glitzy as any of the Princess ships, she comes across as a regal and dignified aging dowager, wise and self-assured and gracious to all. The food, though not nearly as varied as the food on the Princess ships, was appreciably better in quality and preparation. The dining room filets were really filets rather than overcooked hockey pucks we found standard on Princess. We also found the dining room steaks to be equal quality to those we had at Le Cirque, one of Westerdaam's specialty restaurants. The dining room wine list was not as extensive nor as pricey is the wine list at Le Cirque but the reasonably priced dining room wines were descent and enjoyable.

On our most recent trip we encountered extreme cautions to prevent an epidemic of Noro virus which has plagued, not only HAL, but most of the cruise lines sailing out of Fort Lauderdale. The cautions must have been effective because I was aware of no widespread outbreak of illness of any kind. Two years ago when we returned to Fort Lauderdale we also avoided a Noro outbreak but we saw numerous other ships flying quarantine flags. I did not notice any quarantine flags flying when we returned this year.

Our cabin stewards on both voyages were very attentive, generally available and quick to respond to our requests.

On this cruise Westrerdaam had a very good selection of reasonably-priced excursions. As an experienced Scuba diver in my earlier years, I decided to try the SNUBA excursions which is billed as a cross between snorkeling and scuba diving. It really is more like scuba diving because you breath through a regulator but you're attached to an air hose connected to a tank which floats on the surface. The hose is about 15 feet long so it limits your depth to less than that. It's a great way to try out scuba but as a former diver out found it quite limiting and much prefer regular scuba diving. As I recall, the cost was about $100 which included 45 minutes of snorkeling and 45 minutes of snuba...very reasonable for the time and quality instruction.

Overall, our experience with HAL and the Westerdaam has been very positive and I would have no hesitation in recommending HAL to a friend.

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Sail Date: November 2013

Simply couldn't be happier with our cruise to San Juan, Grand Turks, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay. Had no problems in Ft. Lauderdale or the Port Everglades. We dropped our rental car off at Avis and then took the shuttle to the Holland ... Read More

Simply couldn't be happier with our cruise to San Juan, Grand Turks, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay. Had no problems in Ft. Lauderdale or the Port Everglades. We dropped our rental car off at Avis and then took the shuttle to the Holland America terminal. The check-in and wait time weren't bad at all. Our trip ran from November 24 through December 1, 2013.

Upon checking in, we went to the front desk and asked about upgrading to another room. We originally got an inside room and for $200 upgraded to an ocean view room. We met our Seward, Endganm, and went to explore the ship.

The food on board was good and the servers were very pleasant. Also those who worked in the lido and main dining were very professional.

Most os the cruisers on board were middle aged however there was a sprinkling of younger kids.

During our stop in San Juan, we did the "stroll through old San Juan". Our guide was awesome! While in St. Thomas we walked around in town. Half Moon Cay was ok.

Oh, rented a cabanah during the trip. Ed and Julius were outstanding,,,

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