7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
This was our fifth cruise, with Holland America, so I have no comparison to make with other cruise lines. It is obvious during the embarkation, that this is not “their first go-round”. Moving 2000+ people onto the floating hotel is no ... Read More
This was our fifth cruise, with Holland America, so I have no comparison to make with other cruise lines. It is obvious during the embarkation, that this is not “their first go-round”. Moving 2000+ people onto the floating hotel is no mean feat. Add to the fact there’s another cruise ship, different line, loading for the same departure time. These folks do a marvelous job, the Port of Vancouver is a great place to depart from. I am totally amazed by the comments of folks doing reviews for Cruise Critic. Fortunately you can read all the comments, and sometimes wonder “did these folks travel on the same ship?” How can one person be so positive and another negative. Well that’s the way it is, we are all different and we all see things through different eyes. But with the Cruise Critics’ review, you can at least sort out the wheat from the chaff. every review was negative, then the cruise line has a problem - a mixture gives each line a chance to iron out the negatives. Our fifth cruise, this time on the Nieuw Amsterdam, went without a hitch. Embarkation was as smooth as the previous four trips. Our cabin was ready and we met our cabin stewards. Now, these folks meet several people each trip, how do they remember our names? Holland America trains these stewards to do their job, and part of that is getting to know your clients (and that’s what we are). Our Veranda stateroom was everything we’d expected. There is plenty of room for two and the outside deck is an added benefit. The Nieuw Amsterdam is a beautiful ship, wandering around you get to appreciate the effort in making this ship. If your only efforts take you from your stateroom to the Lido or Main Dining Room, you are wasting your travel time. In many reviews I have read that critics have said the trip is boring, there’s nothing to do. HAL regularly prints daily schedules of activities and events. Should you chose to ignore those, then yes, you will have a boring do nothing cruise. Food, does that interest anyone - the Nieuw Amsterdam has every type of venue available, and I had to say they are all top notch. From the Dive In and Pizza place to the Main Dining Room and the pay extra dining. You can have whatever you may wish, you will not be disappointed. On this trip at each stop, Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan there were three other cruise ships, all arriving and departing at similar times. That’s somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 cruisers joining the locals. And yet it doesn’t seem excessive. There was a little sea movement between Ketchikan and the northern Vancouver Island, this was to be expected, but had very little effect on us. Weather forecasting sometimes is misleading. If we’d planned our trips on two-week forecasts, we’d never travel. On the week 18-25 May 2019, the weather gods blessed us. Arriving back in Vancouver, our disembarkation was as smooth and our embarkation Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
We wanted to see Alaska and Glacier Bey, So HA cruise line was one of the lines that goes there and we where advised by our travel agent as well. Ship had good rooms and great stuff. Everything else didn't meet our expectations. Of 7 ... Read More
We wanted to see Alaska and Glacier Bey, So HA cruise line was one of the lines that goes there and we where advised by our travel agent as well. Ship had good rooms and great stuff. Everything else didn't meet our expectations. Of 7 days there where just 5 days of shows on mane stage and most of them where low class performances (other two days they showed a movie). On other stages performances where the same each nice so after first day nothing new. They had just two ping pong tables that where very popular because there wasn't anything else to do. Pool aerie was closed way to early at 9pm and we literally where kick out when we where there at 9pm. Just two activities where organized just last day in a ship but very poor and short (ping pong tournament and song trivia). Buffet food was okay but dining room food was almost as buffet food, not so much special taste food. We knew that HA cruise to Alaska will be quieter experience but it was just bad organized and low quality with a little that they had. And at each corner they tried to sell us something, like creams at spa, good feet at gym, bear at buffet, meal to buy at dinning and so on. We for sure will try another cruise lines but wont suggest anyone HA line. Also we spoke with other travelers that used that line before and they tolled that this year they really very poor organized compare to before. Also we heard from our travel agent that other people where complaining withe their line too. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this cruise for a quick break to Alaska. We live close to Vancouver so with no flights it is an easy holiday. We have been doing this twice a year and have enjoyed everything. However, this time there was a a significant ... Read More
We chose this cruise for a quick break to Alaska. We live close to Vancouver so with no flights it is an easy holiday. We have been doing this twice a year and have enjoyed everything. However, this time there was a a significant decline in the entertainment. HA have introduced a new Step 1 dance company which didn't appeal to us. They were 6 dancers, with no singers, no band, and a poor sound system. This is no doubt another effort to reduce costs but not for us. We used to recommend HA to friends, but not now with this decline. Other on stage performances were an illusionist and a comedian which were both good. The BB King band on board was absolutely fantastic - this is what will bring us back to HA. Cherise and Steven were the vocalists and were terrific, and so were the other band members. The "Cruise Director" was very sweet, but not the ever present role of the previous CDs. There was no activities staff, no dance lessons, so Celebrity is way ahead in this area. HA claim the best perks at sea, but we dispute that as we get much better perks on Princess and Celebrity where we have similar status. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
I'll sum the whole experience up this way: it was marvelous! Service great, stateroom with balcony was fantastic with ample verandah room with two chairs and two stools plus a small side table, ship was well maintained, overall ... Read More
I'll sum the whole experience up this way: it was marvelous! Service great, stateroom with balcony was fantastic with ample verandah room with two chairs and two stools plus a small side table, ship was well maintained, overall good entertainment and food delicious. We're both vegetarians and had no difficulty finding choices that met our dietary requirements including on the menus and at Canaletto. Minor issues: Embarkation - HAL's portion of the process was excellent but the security/US customs process at Canada Place in Vancouver took way too long....more than 2 hours and it felt like musical chairs. Disembarkation was a breeze as we carried our own bags off to catch the Skytrain to the airport. Some of the Mainstage entertainment could use improvement (illusionists and comedians are not our thing) but we loved BB Kings and the Lincoln Stage Centre musicians so overall the cruise was a great experience! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
This was our third cruise to Mexico and first cruise on a Holland America ship. It met our requirements for a new or recently refurbished ship, left from a nearby port, offered a last minute deal and was destined for ports with beautiful ... Read More
This was our third cruise to Mexico and first cruise on a Holland America ship. It met our requirements for a new or recently refurbished ship, left from a nearby port, offered a last minute deal and was destined for ports with beautiful weather. We went out on a limb to experience an interior cabin just to make the shipboard and port fun budget go farther. Here's what we learned ... Port = San Diego knows how to process two ships at once. Despite the spring break crowd the Disney ship leaving at the same time, luggage loading, processing and boarding ran efficiently. Holland America gives you a time window for loading based on your stateroom deck. Adhere to this and it should go well for you! Parking was $11 a day at the Wyndham hotel directly across from the port. Nieuw Amsterdam Ship = We liked the classic interior, beautiful sculptures and artwork that lined the ship walls. The main staircase isn't dramatic like the Princess ships and their main dining room isn't as cheery and bright like Celebrity Dining Rooms but it does have a small ship feel with large sea viewing windows and offers cozy alcoves like the Billboard Onboard with dueling pianos and the Crows Nest for reading/watching the sea and drinking a good cappuccino. When you stay in an inside room, you are quite interested in alternative places to hang on sea days. We frequented the well equipped gym and Tamarind Bar for views, without music, and comfy chairs for lounging and reading. I would not pick this ship for the pool experience because the pool is small and the deck is somewhat crowded with people and privately rented cabanas around the perimeter. If you choose to sunbathe, visit the Seaview deck on the back of the ship with a small pool. Bring your towel clips because it can be a bit windy. The pool dome is closed at night or cool weather, so the pool area stays busy during the day and night. You don’t see a lot of kids onboard but you do see them during afternoon pool hours. With all the mega ships now offering adventurous amenities for families or partiers, HAL is wise to cater to the interests of grandparents and people over 60 first. I wouldn’t hesitate to book a family reunion on the Nieuw Amsterdam but I think it’s real attraction is that it is not a "TEEN SHIP". It’s sophisticated and classy vibe is perfect for a couple getaway. My favorite feature on the ship was the elevator. Each elevator rug was changed daily to announce the day of the week…brilliant! Entertainment = Holland America has thoughtfully considered it's clientele. They have the BB King Blues Club for mo-town and dance music, the Lincoln Center for classical recitals and the Dueling Pianos in the Billboard for 60, 70's, 80's and singer songwriter favorites. The talent was incredible this cruise! The main stage dance shows by Step One Dance Company were skillfully produced with technical lights and lasers and the comedian- Chris Pendleton and illusionist Leon Etienne - couldn't have been better. Activities = Highlight of this cruise was the America Test Kitchen sessions and the games hosted by cruise directors. EXC cruise talks for this Mexico cruise need improvement. Folklore dances on the sundeck need a stage for more passengers to see. I didn't use the casino but KUDOS to Holland America for offering a SMOKE FREE casino so all passengers can enjoy the Onboard Billboard Entertainment. I was surprised to see that the library limited to games and primarily travel and educational books. Bring your own novel. Food and Service = This aspect is pretty important to cruisers and I was worried how it would par with our previous Celebrity and Princess cruises. I can happily tell you that steak tastes like steak (not liver) and lobster portions are wonderful! We didn't have to go to a specialty restaurant to find food we enjoyed. I was most impressed by the Lido Food court and enjoyed being served. This was far different from milling around Horizon court or encountering a traffic jam at the Celebrity food stations. Passengers may have to wait a bit longer for the crew to dip up your food choices, but it is more sanitary. The Nieuw Amsterdam offers an outstanding salad bar. While ice-cream offerings and desserts don't compare to the Norman Love creations on Princess they were tasty, plentiful and enjoyable. Servers were quick to clean tables, serve drinks and always friendly. Booking last minute, Anytime Dining was our only option. We learned to call up to two days in advance to request a dining time. This cut down on waiting in line like other guests. It was also enjoyable to sit and meet other guests. Bar drinks on cruise ships are expensive. Check the rules and consider bringing your allotment of beverages (including water) on board at each port or enjoying in port. Ports = Mexican ports are not particularly spectacular but with a little personal research and port reviews you can book some great tours. My husband and I have never felt afraid or had any concerns about getting off the ship. The people in Mexico are friendly and tourism is quite important. Keep in mind that local taxi drivers don't always speak English but they know the way to popular tourist areas. I can't comment on HALS ship tours as we typically book our own. I highly recommend the following ... Mazatlan - Enjoy the city with a personal guide on a bike along the water. We saw cliff divers, fishermen feeding huge birds, harbor sculptures, city square and the greatest local food market. We gained knowledge of the city's history and learned to appreciate what the locals love from Daniel at Blue Foot City Bike Tours https://bluefoot.mx Cabo San Lucas - This port requires a tender but there is enough to do in the vicinity if you choose just to shop or refill your prescriptions for half the price. Our preference is to get off the ship and negotiate with locals for a tour. We have taken a whale ride excursion in the past. This time we enjoyed and recommend taking a water taxi (both ways) to Medano Beach. Once there you can enjoy the day at a local resort with a perfect view of the ship and Lovers Beach. Puerto Vallarta - The port is nothing to see except a huge Wal Mart across the street. Instead, opt for a taxi to and from the Malecón. Walk the large boardwalk along the ocean to shop, view beautiful art sculptures, street performers and colorful flowers. There are plenty of great restaurants along the way. Visit the Lady of Guadalupe Church downtown, avoid most city streets and sightsee in touristy areas. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
Nine of us traveled together to cruise the Panama Canal. Our group consisted of three married couples and three single ladies ranging in age from 50 on up. Despite different interests among the members of the group, I don't remember ... Read More
Nine of us traveled together to cruise the Panama Canal. Our group consisted of three married couples and three single ladies ranging in age from 50 on up. Despite different interests among the members of the group, I don't remember anyone complaining of being bored. Three of us enjoyed the trivia contests, others spent lots of time (and money!) at bingo, some enjoyed the movies and entertainment in the theatre, one single lady in our group enjoyed visiting all of the lounges, and one of the married gentlemen in our party (my own DH) enjoyed hanging out on his balcony, reading and enjoying the scenery. Our signature suite, SY 8094, was situated where the ship juts out and featured a long balcony, which we both enjoyed immensely. My only complaint would be the casino, which was dinky and did not feature a good variety. Of course, I would have done better if I would have stayed away, as I lost a bunch of money. It wasn't like there wasn't enough to do.... The shore stops were long enough to provide a good overview of places that we'd like to revisit. Entertainment was good, food was good, and I would recommend anyone for this ship and PC itinerary! Consistent quality keeps us coming back to HAL. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
1. The title says it all! Nothing for the younger crowd. This caters to the 50 plus group. 2. Service was excellent! 3. They cram liquor down your throat! I understand that's where the money is but wow! 4. Excursions. ... Read More
1. The title says it all! Nothing for the younger crowd. This caters to the 50 plus group. 2. Service was excellent! 3. They cram liquor down your throat! I understand that's where the money is but wow! 4. Excursions. Ehh....ok. I did better with a guy in a van! And MUCH CHEAPER! 5. The ship was super clean! 6. Entertainment....not for me on this ship. And everyone goes to bed at 9! THIS IS FOR THE OLDER CROWD! If you want to relax and do nothing...this is YOUR cruise! 7. Food was good....but all the "extra" restaurants were also crammed down your throat as no one would eat there! No coffee shops no snack shops, nothing. 8. Disembarkation, IMPRESSIVE! Customs....I didn't see any! NO ONE SAID A WORD! Had a neighbor that bought $400 in tequila, they didnt even ask to hold it when he boarded! We were told to just take it to our room! When we left the ship no one cared what we had! Not even a customs form! It was great! 9. Great ship, great line but I'm going back to RC and fight the crowds! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
The first time around, it was our first cruise together. We sailed on the Eurodam in January, same itinerary, and had a wonderful time. We felt like it wasn't long enough, though, so we decided to book the same itinerary on a ... Read More
The first time around, it was our first cruise together. We sailed on the Eurodam in January, same itinerary, and had a wonderful time. We felt like it wasn't long enough, though, so we decided to book the same itinerary on a different boat. The Nieuw Amsterdam is not quite as nice as the Eurodam. Of course, it hasn't been updated as recently, so that stands to reason. For the most part, they are almost the same-- same restaurants, same staterooms, same places to spend money. But there are subtle differences. The Nieuw Amsterdam has an identity problem in its decor. Here a little Art Deco, there a little quirky, and over there-- well, the main dining room, it looks like the twin of a fancy Chinese restaurant, all in red and mirrors. It is just missing lazy susans on the tables and a gigantic fish tank. No shark tale soup on any menu, though. So, let's talk entertainment. The blues club-- can't beat it. Fun, great music, great entertainers. The classical musicians-- same same. The pianists, well, I guess others liked them, but they didn't do it for me. Mainstage entertainment-- well, were it not for the parents who decided to allow their children to climb over me (literally) and then sit, screaming, it was pretty good. The first show, all dancing, was creative-- the lights became both a character and a prop, with them dancing with the dancers. It was something I haven't seen before. The second dancing show was okay-- one dancer was significantly better than the others. She was good, she wasn't great. But entertaining enough. The magician played to a packed house. I coudn't see it because there was no where to sit. The few minutes I did, it looked like fun. Dining was hit and miss, but mostly hit. Whoever was in charge of cooking the meat hit a home run each time. Whoever was making the sandwiches needs to learn how to spread butter. Other than that, it was the usual high-quality food we have come to expect from HAL. The main issue we had with the cruise was the behavior of the children. I like kids. In fact, I have spent a lifetime teaching other people's kids. When they are well-behaved, they add a great deal to a social occasion. When they are badly behave, they ruin it. Besides the children climbing on me, then screaming, there were packs of young and pre-teens running around (yes, running,) leaving pool towels in the elevators, using the adult pool, several times, complete with floatees to jump onto, splashing the guests, shouting and jumping into the whirlpools. Our complaints seem to fall on deaf ears. And then there is the cell phone issue. Ours were on airplane mode the whole time. And yet we were charged for their service. So, we enjoyed ourselves. But we do feel like HAL has a few wrinkles to iron out. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
I recommend this cruise. We've been to these ports many times and this was by far the smoothest sailing we've been on. The weather in our Mexican ports was really good, too. Although there were over 400 children on this ... Read More
I recommend this cruise. We've been to these ports many times and this was by far the smoothest sailing we've been on. The weather in our Mexican ports was really good, too. Although there were over 400 children on this cruise it wasn't a problem, at least to us. Except for the swimming pools, which they seemed to take over, the children were a pleasure to have around. We found the staff to be very friendly and helpful. Everyone! I thought the food was very good. We opted to eat in the dining room every night because we found the food very good there. Even the buffet was, in my opinion, a little better than most other lines we've been on. The entertainment was okay. On the main stage the special effects were good, but they only had six dancers. Excellent dancers , but not exciting. However, the comedian and the magician they had on other nights were very good. We would have enjoyed a little more of a live band around the ship -- maybe by the pool. They had the BB King band, and we enjoyed them.. LOVED the two piano players, and didn't miss many of their performances. Overall, we were satisfied with the entertainment. I thought the ship was beautiful. The balcony cabin was well appointed and, of course, our cabin stewards were the best. The only complaint I have isn't with Holland America, but with Cruise Critic. This is the first time we've signed up for a roll call and not had a meet and greet on the ship. I have no idea why not. We're looking forward to another Holland America cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
They sent as a coupon. 1) My husband booked me a 2 hours spa treatment. I was taken in late for my treatment, while i did the seaweed wrap the therapist left the room , and never bothered to come check on me, and ask how i was doing. ... Read More
They sent as a coupon. 1) My husband booked me a 2 hours spa treatment. I was taken in late for my treatment, while i did the seaweed wrap the therapist left the room , and never bothered to come check on me, and ask how i was doing. The massage was probably the worst massage i have ever had. Once the treatment was done, she was trying to sell me $ 350+ worth of products, and trying to talk me into purchasing additional treatments, by pointing out my skin is sagging, my eyes are puffy etc.....very intelligent:) They put a bottle of water in your room, but there was no label or warning that they were going to charge you $ 5.75 for it! When we got the final bill they raised the daily mandatory tips at $ 14.50/person. The food in the buffet was same every single day, without a fail. As far as entertainment, not much , there was only one show worth the time in the whole week. In the day time , the ship was like a dormant boring place, unless you had plenty of cash to spare you would keep yourself entertained because all they did , tried to sell you anything. The library had no books, other than speciality travel books and such. To conclude, I think I am pretty much done cruising. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Ship is very pretty & clean. Lovely decor and artwork. Our cabin 5090 had plenty of storage, and a bathtub! Bring a bar of your own soap if you don't like the liquid soap dispenser on the shower wall. There were inconsistencies ... Read More
Ship is very pretty & clean. Lovely decor and artwork. Our cabin 5090 had plenty of storage, and a bathtub! Bring a bar of your own soap if you don't like the liquid soap dispenser on the shower wall. There were inconsistencies between our cabin and our friends next door. We had a mag makeup mirror and a small note pad on the night table (which I used a lot). Our friends didn't have these things. We had the open dining and because of the great dining room hostess, had the same wait staff each night, whom we loved. Dining room food was usually ok. There was a meal or two we traded in, the red snapper being one. Great presentation, small quantity. We were disappointed that we were on one of 4 HAL ships in an experimental dining mode, charging $10 for a second entree. I hope this initiative fails as trying different foods is one of the best parts of cruising. We did the buffet twice for breakfast and a few times at around 3pm for a snack. We are never fans of the buffet. This one wasn't too bad though. TAMARIND is by far the best dining experience on the ship. Try it early on and go often. So pretty up there too, at the bar. Weak entertainment, disappointed at how poor most of it was. There were three nights of 14 in which we thought the Main Stage entertainment was up to cruise ship standards. BBKing All Stars consistently great in the BB King lounge. Gets people up and moving and happy. More activity choices needed, especially on sea days. America's Test Kitchen could be better with another cook/demonstrator. Same with the EXE talks by Jeanette, boring. Cruise director Nick also lackluster. This may all be by design as the clientele, at least on this cruise, much older. Many over 80. At 58 I was definitely in a minority decade represented by the guests. All services were *impeccable* EXCEPT for room service and the wait staff at both Canneletto and Pinnicle Grill restaurants. In fact room service breakfast on port days was as if it was the first day they ever offered room service breakfast on a port day. Many complaining. We had a snafu where we never did get any breakfast on a port day waiting for pre ordered room service which never arrived. I must mention they did make it up to us with hand written notes, a bottle of wine, follow up phone calls and priority delivery of room service breakfast the second (and last) time we ordered it. Loved the unlimited laundry service and they did a superb job. Passing through the Panama canal was wonderful, being served the Panama rolls and coffee throughout the early morning hours. I recommend you don't miss the early up at 5:30am to experience the canal at the beginning. I was going to skip it, BUT am so very glad I decided to get up for this once in a lifetime experience. We headed to the back of the ship on deck 9 by the pool as we left the first set of locks. Nice perspective, and not many thought of doing this. Central America hot & humid . Costa Rica our best day using a private tour company call Thumbs Up tours, their 10 in 1 day tour.Ten folks in a nice, cool van. Perfect. We loved our day at Huatulco, MX with the sandy beach and restaurants right off the ship. Great swimming cove. We did enjoy all ports. Did not do a tour in Guatemala, only walked around the "faux" town just off the ship. But with food, bars, entertainment and shopping, we had a great time there. This was my 5th cruise. Probably would use another line (Royal Caribbean again maybe) for our next one in a year or two. HAL was very good, but just a bit too low key for us. I would suggest another itinerary which may cater to younger guests or maybe not choosing HAL at all if under 45. Research it. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
Cruising through the Panama Canal was on the bucket list. HAL cruised all the way through which was the high point of the 14 day cruise. The ship was beautiful and the service overall was good, but the spa staff was highly aggressive and ... Read More
Cruising through the Panama Canal was on the bucket list. HAL cruised all the way through which was the high point of the 14 day cruise. The ship was beautiful and the service overall was good, but the spa staff was highly aggressive and treatments way too expensive. Watch your bill - we had multiple charges for other people's alcohol and for things that were included in our beverage package. They did reverse the charges, but it took time away from our cruise to get the items corrected. The cabin was comfortable and clean and the cabin stewards were wonderful. We were on the 8th deck near the bridge and had no issues with rolling seas or noise from any of the entertainment. We did have to walk through the spa area every time we went to higher decks - odd set up. We are 60 and felt like we were the babes on this cruise. This appeared to be an older group that was in bed by 9PM. The first night at sea we expected to be wowed by the entertainment. Instead we got a movie on the main stage and the sound system was not good. We saw perhaps 3-4 entertainers that were good, but this was highly disappointing for a 14 day cruise. We arranged our excursions a month or so before cruising. The descriptions were somewhat misleading - "a motorized catamaran" was actually a booze cruise with 150 other passengers - not what we pictured. We thought we were going to a nice cove to swim where we could snorkel and see the native fish. After cruising with everyone else drinking we got perhaps 30 minutes in the water with no fish at all (didn't need to bring our snorkeling equipment or the rolls we took from breakfast to feed the fish). We did sign up for one excursion on the ship and then chose not to go because we were not feeling well. HAL has a 14 day refund policy - not very accommodating on a 14 day cruise. We couldn't get a refund but could trade to a lesser priced excursion, but still lost the money. We did have a wonderful time with our dinner table - table for 8 at the 8PM seating. Overall we did enjoy our cruise. We chose the itinerary for this cruise and not the cruise line. For a number of reasons we perhaps will not cruise with HAL again. They are way too focused of making a buck. For example - every cruise we've been on before with other lines we've been able to use all of the spa facilities on the day we had a treatment. Not on HAL. Everything had a separate price tag. As a last thought - we completed HAL's online survey after our cruise and indicated that they could contact us for clarification or comments. It's been a month and there's been no attempt on their behalf to follow through. Aside from the on board cruise staff, HAL needs a lesson in customer service. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Our trip consisted of a group of 8, all arriving from different destinations across Canada. We had a house rented in Fort Lauderdale for 3 days before the cruise, a lovely home within walking distance to the beach. Good thing we had 3 ... Read More
Our trip consisted of a group of 8, all arriving from different destinations across Canada. We had a house rented in Fort Lauderdale for 3 days before the cruise, a lovely home within walking distance to the beach. Good thing we had 3 days, because of weather we where delayed by over 24 hours. We embarked the ship in groups and met up in the buffet for lunch. Our bags arrived quicker than expected, so we sorted ourselves out, then went for a group party in one stateroom. We where on decks 4, 6,8. And we where very happy on deck 4. Turns out to be a good location to scoot out for the safety drill, a nice walk around deck 3, and also easy to run up to deck 3 if there was something to grab a photo of. We kept the tv on in our room when we where there, tuned to the forward cameras. Loved the option of viewing the Canal crossing on the TV, that was a long hot day. Every morning we enjoyed the buffet. You can’t go wrong, everything you can imagine plus some extra surprises. Lunch was by the pool at the burger place, or pizza. We only attended tea in the afternoon one day, but it was a very nice treat. Dinner we had a group table in the dining room for 8. We didn’t dine there every night, but made sure we all attended the gala nights. Other times we tried some of the different specialty restaurants available. The Pinnacle was a dinner that made you feel like you won the lotto. But our true favourite was the Tamarind. The staff made the dinner fun, and you felt truly welcomed. Plus the exceptional food, and presentation, made it a feast for the eyes. Most days, pre dinner, we attended the martini tasting, or the happy hour in the various bars. But be pre warned, the happy hour bars get full fast. We had beverage cards, so we didn’t worry about happy hour pricing. And I am glad we did, the cards where good for everything we wanted to drink, from sparkling water, to special coffees ,and drinks all around. Every day we had wonderful coffees made in the exploration area, the staff there knew your name and coffee within days. Days we didn’t go on excursions, we spent at the pool, loved the unobtrusive music. But there does need to be more shady areas. We found often people pulling chairs into doorways for shade, but that made it very inconvenient for others. Our group had all been at most of the locations on this cruise, so we didn’t depart at every port. But we really enjoyed the small markets they set up by the ship, for those who just want to purchase a souvenir. The casino was very quiet the entire trip, we did go to the bar there and lost some money at the machines. They did have some very nice piano players there as well . After dinner, it was usually a walk around deck 3 , before seeing what was on the show that night. Most nights we didn’t stay, we all found the entertainment to be lacking, the jazz band was not a group to dance to, so most just sat and listened. We all loved the national Geographic show, with the live performance. Disembarkation was a slow process, they called groups by colour, and there was even colours called that were not on the list, we where close to last. The whole finding your suitcase thing and getting in line , seemed confusing for some. Enjoyed a lovely night in San Diego before flying home. Staff who made this trip memorable: Jerry and Jenny in the martini bar. Janny in the exportation cafe. My perfect mocha. Abdul and Made who made our cabin home. Miguel and Joel who had the wine knowledge. Wayo, Davee, who served table 91 with grace. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
As frequent travellers, we are used to backpacking, expeditions, and vacations in 1 to 5 stars resorts, all inclusive or not, on all continents, but we never travelled with a large cruises ship. Yes, we had preconceptions about ... Read More
As frequent travellers, we are used to backpacking, expeditions, and vacations in 1 to 5 stars resorts, all inclusive or not, on all continents, but we never travelled with a large cruises ship. Yes, we had preconceptions about cruises, on their misuse of obsolete maritime transport laws to create tax free tourist resorts. Or their bypass of immigration laws and hiring cheap labour from around the world. However, listening to enthusiastic cruise adepts, we expected that this trip will made us change our minds. On the positive side, we found the international staff very kind and helpful. But we did not meet many Spanish speaking staff. This HAL cruise surprised us by the very similar customers aboard: mostly white couples in their seventies. As cosmopolites, somewhat younger, we enjoy more age and racial diversity, and it was strange to be in such finely targeted crowd. There was a double talk when it comes to environmental creeds, which are emphasized by HAL especially when it comes to save money for the operation, like to remind you avoid changing your towels frequently. The plastic water bottles sold in your cabin are from Europe. Fortunately, there is little plastics items used for the food service. Food is not supplied locally, everything came from US, for the whole cruise. Quite some paper spoiled with the leaflets advertising for the shops aboard. To be serious about environmental virtues, we should bear in mind that this form of sea transport use four time more fuel per passenger than a modern airplane. The 750 litres of fuel used by passenger for this 2 week cruise correspond to what I use a year with a car. And worse, after the booking, I had the feeling to be framed in a well rehearsed marketing process, with an objective to make me spend a maximum as I spend time with this company. A lot of staff and accessible surfaces on the ship are meant to bring additional income. I would have preferred a better service. The number of additional charges, and the high price of them perfectly reflects this financial objective. The time to spend on shore is very limited and the excursions highly priced. Come on, why charge $120 pp for a short visit to San Diego zoo? Before the cruise The call centre did not properly answer our questions before booking, as we noticed later. The booking process is cumbersome, with too many computer glitches encountered with browsers (I tried Microsoft explorer, Edge and Android). Some beta testing by HAL would be beneficial. Even we booked long in advance, HAL’s website, contrary to claims, did not allow us to book an hotel in FLL. The only choice offered was at $12000 per night. We booked elsewhere at a reasonable cost. Due to a light handicap, HAL requested additional documents for the cruise, and the details about these documents was not provided by HAL. We had to consult elsewhere. Due to the same condition, we booked our flights directly, and had also to organize our own transfers. The web checking process difficult, again with too many issues with browser. And finally, the departure flight information was requested again by HAL on the ship. I had also to sign an abusive long contract, which I should better have read before booking. In a summary, it reads ‘HAL is not responsible’. Eg the amount covered for lost luggage are ridiculous low. Embarking Very noisy hall at FLL terminal, it was hard to sustain a conversation in it. Luggage handling was OK, but with some delay. At the counter, it took long because person there did not know how to handle our special documents. Finally, we were asked to go to customer desk to have copies of our extra paperwork (even they had to be emailed to HAL before the cruise) For doing so there was a long waiting line at the customer desk. The customer desk clerk made copies of these documents, but forgot to return one original. Glad we checked, so we could get it back. The dinner time requested at booking was changed by HAL to less favourable to us, without explanation or excuses. It was difficult to have it changed afterwards. Even so, we were surprised by the absence of hosting from staff, in the sense of grouping people by affinities or languages. The second day of the cruise the customer desk requested again these documents. We had to elevate the tone and threaten to file a complain about harassment before we suddenly got to talk to somebody reasonable. In conclusion, the customer desk staff is not competent for anything but routine. The coordination between headquarters and the ship seems poor. Too long waiting time to access the customer service desk. Ship More than 2000 passengers. A dining hall and a self-service restaurant (plus 3 speciality restaurants, accessible at an additional high charge). Large surfaces devoted to shops, casino, photography, spa, wine cellar and other income generating activities. Not much space left for sports. Outdated decoration, interior brass and gold plated, in fifty shades of beige. Display of art not curated. More than 800 employed on the ship. Seems quite a high figure, but a share of staff is in income making activities at casino, spa, jewellery shops, excursions. And there is also the sailing, navigation crew, and the maintenance crew counted in it, so we understand that the customer service crew or hotel staff was overwhelmed. As welcome drink, we observed the desk selling beers, bottled water and soft drink cans. One day as we returned to the ship we were offered a glass of water and a refreshing towels. The other days nobody was around. The number of elevators is insufficient with such high proportion of customers with mobility issues. Expect to wait. The best spots for seating outside on the deck are covered with a tent and named ‘cabanas’ and accessible only at an additional fee, and left empty most of the time. The Neuw Amsterdam is not so new anymore, and the maintenance was done during the cruise. Unfortunately, we were nauseated by the smell as the whole hull was getting a new coat in Puerto Vallarta, or as the handrails were varnished, or at sea when the upper part of the ship was repainted. More precautions should have been taken to avoid unhealthy solvent be pumped in the air-conditioning system. We had to vacate our cabin. And so, HAL saves on ship yard. Last day ‘at sea' we refused to leave the stateroom to allow for more scheduled maintenance, in that case, a wet carpet cleaning. On the day of arrival, we could not access the patio again, as the outside of ship was undergoing more M&R. Cabin (called stateroom) Small. Balcony (pompously named verandah) allows for two chairs. The safe was not ok, as its battery was low. We had to wait quite long in the room to have it fixed. Clean, except stained sofa, walls and bed cover. On windy days, to avoid draft and strong whistling, we patched the patio door joints with duck tape. Fridge hardly cold. TV entertainment not as good as on an airline. Sink with cracks. Cabin due for an update. As the weather got colder at the end of the cruise, we were surprised that the air-conditioning could not to be disconnected, even temperature went too low. With a non-responsive customer desk, it took 10 hours to be fixed. Food & beverages Generally speaking noisy restaurants. Room service at no additional charge for a limited selection of dishes or drinks, or with an additional charge for others. Breakfast was delivered half an hour before requested time, with the explanation ‘It is a busy day’. Slow on some other days. Breakfast time at restaurants should have been adjusted for early arrival at port of call. Dining hall The dishes served did frequently not correspond to the pretentiously redacted menu, with ingredients listed missing or substituted. Obviously, the cooks did not read the menu, or tried to do savings on ingredients. Eg Grand Marnier, truffles, half avocado, maple syrup. Meal after meal, the comparison of the dishes with the ‘fancy’ menu became a subject of laughter. We had fun with the leftover potato soup was renamed Sunchoke Soup on Gala Night. Generally speaking rather poorly presented dishes with bland taste. Service was kind, but staff overwhelmed. Not trained to handle dishes, bottle and glasses quietly. It generally took 1 ½ hour for a seated dinner. Nice white tablecloth and tableware, and even a flower. Too many breaded dishes like scallops, sweetbread, sole, chicken ‘pillard’. Large parking area for scooters. Self service restaurant Lido No available tables as many tables for 4 are taken by couples or singles, even for filling the daily (free) crossword. To choose your table, arrive early! Chairs adapted for high BMI. Large choice of food, put on a plate by the staff at the stations where you line up. Due to communication issues, we frequently got too large servings. By the end of the cruise we got the impression that some buffet dishes were left exposed too long, like dried out mexican rice or sour smelling beans. Exaggerated additional charge for speciality restaurants. The ginger lobster served at the ‘fusion’ Tamarind was excessively salted. We did not visit the two other ones, as we got the same feeling of pretence from their fancy menus (Escargots? canned or frozen?). Not much spices used and the bland food served is compatible with dentures, except short ribs or striploin. Selection of sugar free dishes. We did not have the impression that many clients had digestive troubles, but be prudent about complaining about it at the medical facility, as you may get quarantined. In short, pretentious menus and mediocre food. Drinks Drinks are highly priced and another service charge added on each bill, on top of the daily $15 pp obligatory service charge. Wine or beer billed at 5 to 6 times the market price. Water, tea or filter coffee are complimentary. Unlimited fountain drinks for $8 per day. Other daily passes for unlimited alcoholic beverages. Unfair and peculiar rules about these passes, as they have to be bought for the whole cruise, or that everybody in the cabin has to buy the same pass. ‘Enrichment’ activities onboard Quite a high proportion of activities with additional charges, e.g. Half an hour meditation for $12. Many activities are meant to showcase the shops, casino, bars or spa. Bingo cards at $5. The cycles at the fitness are only meant for cycling classes at 12$. No fitness instructors besides classes. Very slow internet access at an excessive price. At the arrival, on a day of disrupted air travel, it would have been kind to make the wifi free for everyone. The mainstage had some pleasant shows, by professionals, but they lacked spontaneity. As we travelled during Carnival week, we vainly expected some reference to it. The sound on the BBKing club and the mainstage is set so loud that if you do not wear hearing aids, you will soon need some. Better use protective ear plugs. Small shows with local dancers on the rear deck. We liked the dancing classes. Excursions Long waiting before departure. The EXC staff selling them seemed overwhelmed, and there was a long waiting line. Anyway, they could not provide us the practical information about where was the supermarket we needed or where to get a fast web access. We had an enquiry about an excursion, and were told that we will get the answer later… we did not get it. Generally speaking the excursions are highly priced. E.g. in Huatulco, a snorkelling tour was offered for $80 pp. We took a taxi to this same beach and rented the equipment for a total of 300 pesos for two. Unfortunately, in three ports of call the ship was moored along a similar sized cruise ship, the Coral Princess. This was not a smart, as it brought quite a crowd getting ashore. A port of call, Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala was very unpleasant, as the ship moored in a polluted coal harbour. Taxis were not allowed to access to the ship there and we had to walk a mile way from the entrance of the port to the ship. The time allowed ashore was short, and we made the best of it with a local taxi or just by walking. So, we had the chance to practise some Spanish, and we could adapt to the weather and our envy. And got also quite some authentic memories or photos. Disembarking The announcement on the PA were not very audible, as the are mixed with music and static on TV. It was delayed, and service staff impatient to get to cabin. The questionnaire we received by email after the cruise did not cover all the sides of HAL’s services. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We wanted to see Panama Canal, particularly the old part of it. I have done one passing in my previous career at sea more than 30 years ago, on a freighter. Since HAL had a good itinerary suiting the best for our schedule and that ... Read More
We wanted to see Panama Canal, particularly the old part of it. I have done one passing in my previous career at sea more than 30 years ago, on a freighter. Since HAL had a good itinerary suiting the best for our schedule and that there was so good ratings with HAL with travelers with similar preferences we did not hesitate to book this trip, our first on HAL. Our preferences were quite traditional: Piece and quietness, well mannered co-passengers, dining experiences with lots of choices and styles, civilized onboard activitities and entertainment, interesting excursions, kind and friendly staff and responsible shipowners with competent crew. Particularly we were not after activities some other latest cruise ships may offer for families and younger clientele, We tried to avoid cruse lines with all-day partying and noisy teens and kids around. As a summary HAL offered all this in very sophisticated way. Onboard staff exceeded any of our previous experiences. Based on recommendations on the CC HAL group, before boarding we visited at the Total Wine iand picked up a 6 bottle box of selected wines based on their recommendation of "a taste of America". However, after the trip found that the selections onboard was perfectly adequate, if not US-centric. Check-In Fort Lauderdale was done in breeze by very helpful officer, particularly noticing we were not that experienced cruisers on HAL. We boarded soon before noon and had a wonderful lunch served in the MDR after settling in to our cabin. The VD Class cabin was on the 7th deck with a veranda. It was not a suite, but spacious enough for two of us. For our surprise, there was enough storage space even for a much longer trip. There was absolutely no noise from neighboring cabins or from the corridors. Completely quiet, apart quiet hum from the AC. We found ship interiors very nicely designed and we felt being at home soon after boarding. Most of the fellow passengers were naturally from US and Canada, also quite big part, probably a few hundred passengers from Europe and from South America and Far East.. Based on the Skipper's, Jeroen van Donselaar's note, there were some 2100+ passengers and 800+ crew members onboard, so the ship was practically fully booked. Cruise itself offered everything and beyond we expected. For our surprise the seadays were anything but boring. The days were full of activities, e.g. starting from presentation of the ports we were going to call, Digital Workshops, recitals on the Lincoln Center, stand up shows and other performances after dinner at the Main Stage ending upto enjoying the B.B. King's Club. BTW, they played really well. About dining experience, we had dinners in all the restaurants, twice in the Pinnacle Grill, once in Rudy's, once in Tamarind, once in Canaletto and Lido, rest in the MDR. In general, we were fully content with the MDR, but Pinnacle offered us the something to remember for long time. My personal favorite was the Sole Meunier at the MDR, but it was available only once soon after departure, Based on our experience it's difficult to fully understand those who in CC HAL Forum have complained MDR being not upto their standards. Dover Sole in Rudy's; the Maine Lobster, Tartar Steak and Filet Mignon at the Pinnacle. Tamarind was excellent, but as have traveled lots in the far east, we found it a (little bit) too westernized. Sushi was available daily at the Lido. And now we still miss Hamburgers in the Dive In. They were special. Really. Shore excursions we pre-booked, were mostly as expected: In Cartagena the old town was really nice and worthwhile to visit, could have spend a lots of more in the town. Passing Panama Canal was a really highlight of the day. For an ex Sailor (Master Mariner), like me, this was a really meaningful event. We passed the Canal through the old locks, far more interesting than the new ones, which were apparently not that busy on our day of passing. In Costa Rica we chose an Exc to flower gardens up to the mountain having a magnificent view over to the Pacific. We managed to see a pair of macaws not too far away in the garden and a number of crocodiles on the way. It was most beautiful landscape. Time to visit there was far too short, again. In Nicaragua we had a trip to a banana plantation owned by a local prominent family, supplying their products to major brands. Lots of manual, minimally paid work needed before products can be shipped. Highlight of that trip was to see the landscape with active volcanoes on the way. Local people were extremely friendly with us. Really difficult to figure out how they manage to struggle with the average salaries paid in that country. We hope they will manage with their struggle with economy, e.g. expanding from agriculture to tourism. In Guatemala we had another trip to a Coffee Plantation and a small city on the mountain area. Was really beautiful, again. There were also two Mexican ports, Huatulco and Puerto Vallarta on the way. Enjoyed both excursions to the country side. Street vendors in Cartagena and Guatemala were some degree of nuisance, but nothing unexceptional for 'seasoned travelers'. Before the trip we had concerns, e.g. how to cope potential 'cultural differences' during the two weeks with the fellow passengers mostly from US and Canada since we are not that extrovert. That proved to be a non-issue. With all people we spoke with were most friendly curious and knowledgeable what's going outside US. Quite a number of them had visited even to our home country, Finland, on their previous cruises or careers. So overall, would wholeheartedly recommend Panama Cruise with HAL anyone expecting a classy experience to pass the Canal, see beautiful countries with friendly people of Columbia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico, spend time with fellow most nice passengers on a well maintained ship with a stellar crew. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We have only sailed on Celebrity ships before; enough to rise to the elite level which also entitles us to several perks. So why sail on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam? We wanted to do the ocean to ocean Panama Canal itinerary in the ... Read More
We have only sailed on Celebrity ships before; enough to rise to the elite level which also entitles us to several perks. So why sail on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam? We wanted to do the ocean to ocean Panama Canal itinerary in the late winter or early spring when it was cold in the Washington, DC area. Celebrity no longer offered this cruise during this time of the year. So, we reviewed the ships that sailed during this time and decided that the Nieuw Amsterdam would be our choice. (Note: We did compare the Nieuw Amsterdam to the other Holland America ships that provided this itinerary. The Nieuw Amsterdam was reviewed best by Cruise Critic.) How did we like the cruise? Staff. The service staff in all areas of the ship were wonderful, especially their personalities and how they strove to accommodate all requests. Of course, we would only politely ask for something that our experience indicated was reasonable and also within the prevue of a particular service person. We particularly were impressed with the towel creatures left on our beds at night and learned onboard about how they were created and surprisingly how little time each one takes to create. Stateroom. We thought the stateroom size, bathroom (with tub), balcony, comfort of the bed, sitting area, and storage areas were all quite nice---certainly not to be outdone by the Celebrity Infinity which was their ship sailing this itinerary. The stateroom attendants kept the cabin clean and neat daily and were very responsive to requests; although, we had few. Dining. We were pleased with the breakfast and lunch buffets in the Lido; although, we thought the choices and quality of the food were good, but not exceptional–choices and quality for breakfast better than for lunch. The poolside hotdog/hamburger and pizza options helped to make some of our lunches enjoyable. We were not so satisfied with the Lido evening dining because of the limited selection and quality of the food the one night we dined there. Of course, the staff was attentive and friendly. Our regular evening meals were in the Dining Room on deck 3. We thoroughly enjoyed the staff. However, there were only a few dishes that we truly enjoyed eating. We found most of the food unappealing, often inadequately prepared, and providing unsatisfying pleasure. The wienerschnitzel and the surf and turf were the two entrée selections that we found quite appealing. We particularly enjoyed the desserts which had plentiful choices and were mostly prepared well and quite tasty. The entrees we selected in the Pinnacle Restaurant, particularly the Alaska King Crab, was by far the best entrée enjoyed during the cruise. We would have expected that the regular Dining Room would have provided more of this level of quality. Entertainment. The performers in the Mainstage theater were just ok, especially in comparison to our Celebrity experiences. That said, the comic John Wing and the English piano player/comic, Brett Cave, were quite enjoyable. We wouldn’t want to see any of the other acts twice. The cruise’s backup band and the classical quintet were superb. Playing together on the Mainstage to provide the musical background for the featured nature film was a great way to highlight their talents. A particular performance highlight was the Columbian Ambassadors who provided a show on the Mainstage one afternoon. In our opinion, they provided the best performance of the entire cruise and should have had more exposure--perhaps an evening performance. Finally, we thoroughly enjoyed the performance featuring members of the wonderful Filipino staff performing with great enthusiasm. Shore Excursions. We enjoyed the excursions we selected which included city highlights, horseback riding, rafting, snorkeling, zip lining, nature watching on a river, and an equestrian show. The only excursion we were quite disappointed with was the Lake Atitlan full day excursion which required a 2 ½ hour, extremely bumpy bus trip followed by a 45 minute boat ride across an average-looking lake to an unexceptional resort for a basically enjoyable lunch followed by a 45 minute return boat ride exactly the same as the first one, followed by a 2 hour return bus ride exactly the same as the first one, but a half-hour shorter because of driving downhill, and less bumpy apparently due to the lighter loads of trucks going toward the port. All in all, this excursion included too much traveling with very minimal enjoyment for the effort. We also noticed that the Holland America written descriptions of the shore excursions that we took were often not truly reflective of the actual experiences. That said, it was still only the one excursion mentioned above that was disappointing and perhaps a more accurate description of the excursion would have helped us to make a better decision. Informational and Cultural Lectures. In particular, the Shore Excursion informational leader, Jeanette, was superb. Her presentation describing the next day’s experience of sailing through the Panama Canal was clear and comprehensive, allowing an enjoyable understanding of the next day’s experience. Additionally, Jeanette’s other presentations providing information of what we’d see upon arriving in other destinations was thoroughly well done and appreciated. Holland America Onboard Internet. The Holland America onboard internet that provided information about daily activities and dining menus, person-to-person onboard texting, and enabled us to keep track of our own cruise itineraries was extremely effective, reliable and useful. That said, access from our cell phones were not up to the exemplary level of the in-cabin TV access and the technical staff should strive to make both access pathways equally effective. In Conclusion. The purpose of the trip was to enjoy the ocean to ocean Panama Canal itinerary during the late winter or early spring. Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam provided the desired itinerary. The stateroom, the Lido breakfast and lunch buffet along with the hotdog/hamburger and pizza poolside options, the shore excursions, the informational/cultural lectures, the Pinnacle specialty restaurant, and the entire staff were, in our opinion, quite good. The entertainment and the evening dining were, in our opinion, just average. Will we sail with Holland America in the future? Probably not, particularly because the entertainment and evening dining we’ve experienced on Celebrity ships—which we consider to be extremely important parts of the cruising experience—are much better. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
WE sailed the Feb 24 sailing. We had sailed this ship in 2016 in Alaska and were pleased. This ship has since been thru a refurb and I noticed all new carpet, they reconfigured a few areas but basically seemed the same. We basically ... Read More
WE sailed the Feb 24 sailing. We had sailed this ship in 2016 in Alaska and were pleased. This ship has since been thru a refurb and I noticed all new carpet, they reconfigured a few areas but basically seemed the same. We basically were looking for the least expensive balcony cabin during Feb and came across this one and chose it. The weather the week we went was fantastic. What we noticed was an older crowd which we were expecting. WE are 62 and 67 so not teenagers but we seemed ALOT younger than most of the passengers. Everyone we encountered were friendly passengers and crew. We ate dinner in the Main Dining room. WE found the portions to be smaller than we remembered and you cannot order 2 entrees without an additonal $10 upcharge. THis is fine with me as I dont think anyone will go hungry on a cruise! 3 people at our table one night all had to send back the red snapper as it was literally like a piece of rubber and we could not even cut it. THe deserts were average. The entertainment was sub par in the main theatre but the BBKing band saved the cruise for us. They were fantastic. They announced this was their first week together so I can only imagine how they will evolve over time. WE found no music by the pools not even any piped in which made for a very "non festive" atmosphere. We were happy to get out of the Midwest for a week but will probably not sail Holland America again unless there is a deal we cannot resist. This was our 17th cruise and we find pros and cons on all the lines we have been on. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
We were terribly disappointed with the entertainment. The worst in all the cruises I have taken. This was our first with Holland American and never again. This was a cruise suitable for very old people. The best entertainment was the ... Read More
We were terribly disappointed with the entertainment. The worst in all the cruises I have taken. This was our first with Holland American and never again. This was a cruise suitable for very old people. The best entertainment was the Filipino cruise members show. They put up a voluntary show. I must also mention one of Lido restaurant staff Amelia, she was helpful and very nice. She also did a great show. There was a lack of entertainment for younger people. We never met a single young person from the entertainment team beside the cruise director. All in all not a happy experience. The staff in our allocated dining area were absolutely wonderful and helpful. I found quite disrespectful to be called by my Cristian name by the cabin steward. In Europe we are not used to that or at least I am not. Not very good room service at all Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We have enjoyed Holland America cruises and we liked the itinerary Nieuw Standendam offered. This ship exceeded our expectations. The rooms are nicely appointed, small, very functional and well laid out. Was great to be on a new ship, ... Read More
We have enjoyed Holland America cruises and we liked the itinerary Nieuw Standendam offered. This ship exceeded our expectations. The rooms are nicely appointed, small, very functional and well laid out. Was great to be on a new ship, everything is in tip top shape. Our room stewart was excellent and very attentive, thank you Ajaz. We mostly had breakfast & dinners in the dining room, the food was excellent. Some dinners were a 10+. Loved the menu contributions from each Chef. Provided a wide variety of choice. Enjoyed the free style dining option. We never felt rushed to get to dinner. We decided to take the drink package, which made the cruise even better. From morning coffee's at the Dutch cafe, bottled water throughout the day, cocktails during the day & wine with dinner. Option of having an after dinner liquor or drink while enjoying the great entertainment the ship featured. We loved the new layout. We went to all the musical venues and preferred this to the old stage presentation entertainment. The ship felt like it was geared to our generation and not the senior senior generation. I loved the art throughout the ship. Felt the ship was well thought out. Found this cruise to be the most relaxing cruise we have taken. Disappointment: Until the last day in the morning, we had an incident, maitenance was varnishing the railing where our lounge chairs were. I was sitting their for 5 minutes, when the maitenance worker pulled out an electrical mixer for the varnish, I decided to move out of the way and let maitenance complete this area of their work. I was gone for 25 minutes. The housekeeping staff removed our towels and belongings. When I came back with my breakfast in hand new people were in our chairs. I was not happy and were told we had been gone from the chairs for more then 30 minutes. I asked the housekeeping staff to call his supervisor & was told he would be there shortly. 45 minutes later, Sachin Houskeeping Supervisor arrived and after a 9 minutes conversation he did not have a solution, other then telling me he would have security review the tapes. We left feeling we were going to ignored. I asked our room stewart for the Manager of Housekeeping's name Mainz Lopez. By sheer chance I asked an officer where the Mangers office was and it was him. We sat down and explained the events. We asked for a solution which would make us happy, upgrade us to the retreat. Mainz was very professional, honest & said he would see what he could do. I am happy to say we were upgraded to the retreat for the day and Mainz included two monogrammed housecoats. We lost two hours of our last day...Holland America more then made up for this. We have nothing but excellent reviews to say. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
My family and I went on this cruise last minute. As in, we weren't even on the manifest. We cancelled our NCL Epic, and hopped on the Nieuw Amsterdam. What a delight! Check in was pretty easy, considering we were not checked in at ... Read More
My family and I went on this cruise last minute. As in, we weren't even on the manifest. We cancelled our NCL Epic, and hopped on the Nieuw Amsterdam. What a delight! Check in was pretty easy, considering we were not checked in at all. Our luggage was delivered in a timely fashion. Our room was an inside cabin, last minute. However, our room steward was always on top of everything. He was professional and friendly. All the staff a board the ship were the same, always there for directions or help. The food was amazing! We ate filet, lobster tail, osso buco, lamb chops and leg, a variety of Asian dishes. This was in the MDR or the buffet. We ate at Canelletto's, the Italian place, it was perfect. A family style dining experience. There were always pool chairs available. There are 2 pools and they are both heated! That is a plus if you have ever been on Carnival or NCL. The biggest bonus for me is the no smoking in the casino! It was great! The only smoking spot on the ship, that I saw, was top deck near the pool. We were also pleased with the tendering process. Easy to follow directions. Also, like I mentioned before, there are staff on each deck to help. I will say, I travelled with 2 teens. They really enjoyed the teen club. There are no water slides, video games or giant movies screens on this ship. However, there were a group of 10 teens that hung out and had fun. They played chess, ate lunch together, had scavenger hunts, and played bingo! We will definetly book again with HAL. We had a fabulous vacation! The staff, food and the effortless fun, make the decision to travel with them easy! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
We are a couple from New York and we needed to leave the February cold. We are in our mid-50s and sailed to the Western Caribbean. Our cruising style is all about relaxation. We enjoy the beach, the pool, the spa and live music. The ... Read More
We are a couple from New York and we needed to leave the February cold. We are in our mid-50s and sailed to the Western Caribbean. Our cruising style is all about relaxation. We enjoy the beach, the pool, the spa and live music. The night before: We stayed at the Renaissance Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. This is a very pleasant and convenient hotel. It is close to several good restaurants and there is a Walgreen’s across the street, should you have forgotten anything. This was our second stay at the Renaissance, and I have already booked our third. Arrival: We arrived at Port Everglades just before 2 pm, our entry to the port slightly delayed by the Uber driver ahead of us who did not have any identification or proof of citizenship with him and drew the attention of the police. Some trips are better made by local cab. The terminal was crowded because the cruise was sold out, which is pretty typical for President’s week. Check in was extremely efficient and our stateroom was already available. Stateroom: Our verandah stateroom, 7136, was a fantail room with a larger than average balcony and a stupendous view. The stateroom itself is roomier than verandah rooms on Princess, NCL or Celebrity. The furnishings are subdued and neutral and include a desk, table and sofa as well as a bed and two nightstands. Make up mirror and blow dryer were in a drawer in the desk. There is plenty of closet space, though not so much for drawers. Everything was in good condition. The bathroom has a bath/shower combination unlike HAL suites which have a shower and separate jetted tub. Our steward was very conscientious and the cabin was always spotless. Getting adjusted: We had some confusion regarding activities because there was no “Where and When” newsletter in our room. I am not sure if there wasn’t such a newsletter on Sunday or if someone neglected to put in our stateroom or mailbox, but the absence of it caused some difficulties for us as we didn’t know what was going on or how to sign up for the Internet. Internet sign-up is explained on the television, (though the distinctions between packages could be made clearer), but the daily event schedule is not. Once we created Internet accounts, we were able to view the day’s activity schedule online. That evening, our steward left the next day’s “When and Where” in our cabin, which made planning easier. Lido Buffet: On arrival, we ate a late lunch at the Lido buffet. The chicken fajita I had was very tasty. However, none of the hot dishes were labeled, which would be helpful since it is difficult to tell one stew-looking dish from another. For the rest of the week, our cabana steward brought us lunch from the buffet. My favorite dishes were the Indian ones. Breakfasts were very good. I particularly enjoyed the new breakfast sandwich with spinach, avocado, tomato and egg white. Also, the chicken and waffles were delicious and a fun addition to the breakfast options. Beverages: our cruise included a promotional beverage package that allowed each of us 15 drinks, priced at no more than $9.50 per drink, per day. This was an amazing value. We are not big drinkers, but we really appreciate the lattes, San Pellegrino and other drinks that were included along with my one glass of wine with dinner. I hope HAL keeps this promotion because it makes beverages one less thing to think about. I did try a new mixed drink as well. The pomegranate ginger drop is scrumptious. Activities: We had fun playing trivia in the Billboard lounge. It’s a friendly game and you are allowed to mark your own answers. Main Dining Room Dinners were pleasant. We both enjoyed the red snapper and the surf and turf. There was no mixed greens salad on the menu, but our waiter was able to procure one for me. For dessert, we especially liked the tangy key lime pie.I have a salmon allergy which I made our waiter aware of. One night, I ordered the tuna and he returned to let me know that because a pan had broken, the tuna was being seared in the pan used for salmon and would I like to change my order? Yes, I would and that was some excellent service! The chicken in panko we substituted was very good. Pinnacle Grill: This was a little disappointing. Some of our meat was not cooked as we ordered it and when I ate my dessert souffle, I burned my mouth pretty badly because the server had not broken the top of the souffle to let the steam escape and pour the sauce in. (I think she was not very experienced.) When I mentioned this to her and asked for ice water for my mouth, which was blistering a little bit, she didn’t apologize and made a sarcastic joke. The restaurant manager apologized for her and offered a free lunch, but we didn’t want to leave the pool the next day to redeem it. The Pinnacle Grill is usually excellent, so I am considering this a minor blip. Entertainment: There are new entertainment options such as Lincoln Center and Billboard. Initially, we were a little let down because the representative who booked our cruise had told us Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox would be performing on our ship and they were not. This would have been a disappointment if the best part of the cruise had not been the fantastic band at BB KIng’s. The BB King All Stars are incredibly energetic and skillful musicians who are clearly having a great time. We stayed for two to three sets every night and loved every minute. This group really elevates evening entertainment on HAL to a whole new level. The dance floor at the club was busy all week. Unfortunately, we learned that our cruise was this particular group’s last cruise. I felt privileged to see them and hope they return to the Nieuw Amsterdam. Half Moon Cay: On Monday, we tendered to HMC, which our ship was sharing with the Zuiderdam. The tender transfer was quick and efficient. We had reserved a cabana as we have in the past and, after signing a waiver, took the transportation to the cabana. It has a table, chairs, refrigerator, air conditioner, fan, lounges and outdoor shower, and was prepped with everything we had requested—soft drinks, snacks, fruit plate, and snorkel gear. There were four floats as well. We spent the whole day alternating between swimming in the turquoise water and reading in the cabana. Although we’ve rented cabanas before, I’ve never encountered so many people so puzzled by them. I don’t mind folks asking how you reserve a cabana or how much it costs, but two people decided to “reserve” our cabana’s beach lounges by putting their clothing on them and one lady wanted to use our outdoor shower. Half Moon Cay is a gorgeous island and we had a beautiful day. Other ports: We walked around Cozumel, but didn’t bother getting off the ship in Grand Cayman or Ocho Rios as we’ve been both places lots of other times. Also, my husband had a shoulder injury and couldn’t do any of the more active excursions that would generally appeal to us. Cozumel has some good shopping, but there’s a lot of touristy tchotkes too. Onboard cabana: We rented the Monte Carlo, our Lido poolside cabana, for the length of the cruise. This was just wonderful. Zen, our cabana steward, was on point, bringing champagne and chocolate strawberries and pretty much anything else that we needed. The cabana has a lounge bed, table and chairs and looks out at the ocean. It was lovely to read and look out at the ocean all day. There is a cabana curtain you can close for privacy. Generally, we left it open and some random man wandered in and said, “Do you have to pay extra for this?” We affirmed that we did. He said, “Boy, they nickel and dime you!” and decamped. Thanks, pal. Spa: I had an excellent massage at the spa and a very good manicure. I just dislike the way the spa therapists talk to you after the treatment as though they are doctors prescribing medication instead of people working on commission peddling toiletries. No one needs $100 bath salts. I just put a stop to that spiel and tip the equivalent of the commission. Fitness Center: We used the fitness center to work out. It was very clean and all the machines were in good repair. I was able to use the rowing machine whenever I wanted it. We didn’t sign up for any classes, but there was a good selection to choose from. Overall impression: We loved this ship and were very impressed with the entertainment at BB Kings. While HAL has a reputation for catering to much older guests, we felt that this cruise would appeal to the 35-55 crowd as well. They have really improved the entertainment options. We have already booked another trip on the Nieuw Amsterdam in 2020. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
Wanted to visit some of the Caribbean knowing it probably was quite different than other cruises we’ve done as in more focused on sun, beach and shopping. Not things that are high on our list but needing a warm winter break. It was as ... Read More
Wanted to visit some of the Caribbean knowing it probably was quite different than other cruises we’ve done as in more focused on sun, beach and shopping. Not things that are high on our list but needing a warm winter break. It was as we expected and we will do another cruise in this area (southern) but probably that would be all. For just a winter sunny break in future it would be easier and closer for us to do Mexico. We also should not have picked a back to back cruise as felt our return to Fort Lauderdale in the middle was a bit of a wasted day as we’d already spent 4 days there prior to the cruise. This is sounding a bit negative and don’t mean it to as we did enjoy ourselves. Enjoyed most ports of call but never want to go to Nassau again. Enjoyed Ocho Rios(Dunn’s river falls) Half Moon Cay would have been fine with just one visit. Did a basic bike and hike first time which was simple but enjoyable. Loved San Juan, especially the Fort. Loved Cozumel. St. Thomas was enjoyable with the views from the high point. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
My girlfriend and I, both 23 took this cruise in februari. We are from The Netherlands and wanted to experience a cruise in the Caribbean. We chose Holland America line because of the ports and good value for money, as described in many ... Read More
My girlfriend and I, both 23 took this cruise in februari. We are from The Netherlands and wanted to experience a cruise in the Caribbean. We chose Holland America line because of the ports and good value for money, as described in many other reviews, they service is towards older people. But still an reasonable amount of 20 / 30 year old. We had a forward balcony stateroom on deck 4. The room was just right for two of us. well appointed, very quiet, and with a wonderful balcony. We spent every evening and many hours of the day on the balcony, enjoying sound of the sea and the view of the water and stars. Food ranged from good to very good. Room service was efficient and complimentary. we enjoyed two dinners in the dining room, 1 in Cannaleto and the others in the Lido.. We where sitting at a table of 6 with an older American couple and Canadian woman in the dining room. Although our large age difference we had nice talks about traveling and cruising. If we need to say something we did not like, it was the temperature in all the public spaces, far to COLD, sometimes feels like walking in a mortuary. Make sure to have a sweater with you and you will be fine We really enjoyed our first time cruise! Also. the amount of effort HAl puts in sanitizing is insane. Everywhere you find small stations with alcohol dispenser and even the public restrooms onboard are very clean. you have to open the door with an towel to leave the restroom, something we have never experienced before in Europe. Well done Hal Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
I just returned from a week long cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam. The rooms were rather small compared to what I have experienced on other cruise ships, such as the Konigsdam. The one big issue was that one entire wall had NO electrical ... Read More
I just returned from a week long cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam. The rooms were rather small compared to what I have experienced on other cruise ships, such as the Konigsdam. The one big issue was that one entire wall had NO electrical outlets by the beds. My roommate has a CPAP machine and there was nowhere to plug it in by the beds. The steward had to bring us an extension cord which was about 20 ft. long and was thick enough to power a farm. This was not very convenient and was a tripping hazard. Apart from the bathroom, the living area had only the one outlet at the desk. This seems like a very major over sight. There was a sauna to use free of charge, but it was very small and not in the spa area. It held maybe 4 people comfortably and I often had to wait for people to leave before there would be enough room. There was not enough clothing hooks and there was only one shower. There are separate men's and women's sauna right off the main hallway on the Lido deck. The HAL website advertised a .750 liter bottle of Bacardi for $43 to be delivered to one's room the day of departure. They also advertised the same bottle with 3 cans of coke for $56. I bought the $43 bottle ahead of time on the website. However, when I got onboard, they were advertising the same bottle with 3 cans of coke for $43. I cancelled my original order and placed the order for the bottle and 3 cans of coke. When I got the bill, they had added a 15% gratuity fee and tax, which brought the price to just under $50. The original charge was just the $43, so I recommend buying BEFORE you get onboard. The food was good. Not excellent, but good. Self-service was limited, which is a good thing. It keeps from having hundreds of people from using their grubby hands to handle the utensils, bringing dirty plates to the buffet and putting food back when they change their minds. It also keeps people from overloading their plates with food they won't eat. Too many cruisers have eyes bigger than their stomachs and waste so much food. We never to wait more than 2-3 minutes to get into the main dining room on level 2. Main dining room service was spotty. A couple of times we had very fast service, other times it took us an hour and a half to eat as the various dishes took a long time to deliver. However, the food was always hot and correctly prepared. Wait staff were always very friendly and accommodating. One of my fellow travelers ordered the 36 ounce steak for an additional charge of $75. The steak, of which I was lucky enough to get a bite, was absolutely delicious and cooked to perfection, but it was a lot of steak for one person. I think that if you love a flavorful steak, that this cut could be shared by 2-4 people. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
MDH and I have been on more than 10 Celebrity cruises but began to feel like we were no longer the preferred demographic for Celebrity (music and entertainment were taking on an "edgier vibe"). We had been eyeing Holland America ... Read More
MDH and I have been on more than 10 Celebrity cruises but began to feel like we were no longer the preferred demographic for Celebrity (music and entertainment were taking on an "edgier vibe"). We had been eyeing Holland America for a while but were reluctant to take the leap because of their smoking policy and because we had invested so much into Celebrity. When Holland America banned smoking on the verandas we decided to give it a go. We are so glad we did!!!! There is so much to be said but in short...the cruise was fabulous. WHAT WE LOVED: - Friendliness of the entire crew. Every staff person (from officers to window washers) exchanged pleasantries when we passed and when we had a question every effort was made to find the answer. Some went above and beyond remembering names and details shared. They are in the right business! HAL has hired well. - Decor. We love the classic styling with dark woods and neutral palette. The art was tasteful and very interesting to see. - Hydro Pool. We purchased passes to use the facility for the week. Worth every penny. Not crowded, very relaxing and felt like we were being pampered. - Pinnacle Grill and Sel de Mer. I appreciate the fact that people resent having to pay for meals on a cruise but we LOVED our experience in both. The service, ambience and food were fabulous. - Music (EVERYWHERE) - From the solo piano in the Ocean Bar to the Music Walk (Billboard Onboard, BB Kings, Lincoln Center) to the music piped into the dining and bar areas and even the elevator - we loved it ALL. Every live entertainer was exceptionally skilled and we both feel that we would have been willing to pay for concerts by any one of them. - Cabana with Butler on Half Moon Cay - Definitely an indulgence but having done it once we would do it again! The service was phenomenal, the setting was postcard perfect and the food/beverage was terrific. - EXC Lounge and Ocean Bar - Nicely appointed spaces to relax, read and people watch - Beverage Service...Everywhere - Loved the fact that there were staff members assigned to areas of the Lido Buffet seating area that assisted in seating people and then provided beverage service for coffee, iced tea and lemonade, etc. The bar service was also prompt and efficient. We have noticed on other cruises that as beverage packages became popular bar service deteriorated. This was NOT true on this cruise. We wanted a drink someone materialized and made sure we got one. - Direct Luggage Service - We had never heard of this service before but what a service it is! We put our luggage outside of our stateroom the night before disembarkation and did not touch it again until our final destination airport. FANTASTIC!! WHAT WE DIDN'T LOVE: - Communication - There were a few occasions that we were asked for information about excursions or disembarkation but the information did not come back. We didn't know where to be or when. - The Main Stage - Too loud, temperature was too hot. While the talent was there, the production was not to our liking. Didn't live up to the hype of a big production. Clearly we had a great time. Looking forward to a cruise to Alaska in June on the Koningsdam. 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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