Sail Date: September 2010
We boarded the Nieuw Amsterdam in Venice for a one-night port stay, which turned into two nights. Venice streets were basically under water from the high fall tides and nobody wanted to go back into the streets again so most just stayed ... Read More
We boarded the Nieuw Amsterdam in Venice for a one-night port stay, which turned into two nights. Venice streets were basically under water from the high fall tides and nobody wanted to go back into the streets again so most just stayed on-board the extra night. The Captain announced at our sail-away party that a navigation circuit board had failed and since they cost $15,000 each they are not on-the-shelf. A German company vendor was contacted to make a new one and fly an engineer to Venice with the board. By now, all the passengers were making book on whether we would sail at all. Others were reviewing their cruise insurance documents. The board was delivered, installed and tested and we left - however the Captain said we would have to miss our first port of call - Spilt, Croatia. However he rewarded us with one glass of free wine and our account would be credited with the unspent port tax - $5.50 per person. An important, and well anticipated port, should have valued much more than a glass of wine. The rest of the cruise was lovely. Lots of great late summer weather and calm seas. The new ship is lovely and the service superb. The beds were new and we slept like logs. We ate in the Manhatten Dining room most of the time. It was our 45th Anniversary celebration with another couple from Wisconsin. We wanted to try the specialy resturants, but wanted to view them before making reservations. In each case - Pinnacle Grill, Tamarind, Canaletto - the maitre d'hotel graciously and with all smiles reported that the tables were all booked. We tried phone reservations but all we could get was a voice message saying they were busy with other customers. We finally got a reservation at the Pinnacle Grill for the last night of the cruise. We overheard the next table commenting that they had eaten in the Pinnacle 6 times. We kept going to the Tamarind reservations desk and finally got in at a 9:30 pm reservation. When we got there half the resturant was empty. Both restaurants were excellent and well appreciated. But we could never get into the Caneletto the entire 12 days. I suppose we could have booked prior to the cruise on the internet but until we saw the restaurant we hesitated. I have a feeling most of the reservations that were made prior to the cruise never showed up at dinner and thus the empty tables. A ship-wide reservation system needs to be put in place. During the cruise - about day 6, a number of people were experiencing some sort of sickness. We heard over 40 were sickened from something and the ship quickly put a sick alert system in place. Every available waiter was stationed at every doorway into a food serving area and squirted Purell alcohol solutions on everyone. All food had to be handled by the waiter. No more china salt and pepper shakers - only paper packets on request. No more butter dishes on the table or sauce bottles. No more bread baskets to pass. 'Everything was handled by a server. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
We took two back-to-back cruises, 12 days each, from Barcelona to Venice and then from Venice to Istanbul and back to Venice. 16 ports, only four sea days, and a couple of overnights (Barcelona, Venice and Istanbul). We're glad we had ... Read More
We took two back-to-back cruises, 12 days each, from Barcelona to Venice and then from Venice to Istanbul and back to Venice. 16 ports, only four sea days, and a couple of overnights (Barcelona, Venice and Istanbul). We're glad we had 24 days on this beautiful ship, because we would not have been ready to leave after the first two weeks. This was our 26th cruise, so we have a basis for comparison. EMBARKATION DAY: We flew from Florida to Barcelona, arriving at 8 a.m. and taking a taxi to the port. Three big ships were in the same dock area, including ours, so traffic was at a stand-still over the bridge to the dock, driving up our taxi price. Check-in was quick and easy, but then we had to wait until 11:30 while passengers disembarked and we could get on. We were tired and jet-lagged, but the hall was comfortable and food and drink were available for purchase at a bar. When we got on board, we headed for the Lido for lunch and by 1 p.m. our cabin was ready for us to "crash" and nap for a couple of hours. Our luggage arrived promptly. Around 4 p.m. we took the free shuttle to the Columbus statue at the foot of Barcelona's Las Ramblas walking zone and enjoyed a pleasant stroll into the Old Quarter. Shuttled back to the ship for dinner in the Lido and early to bed. CABIN: We had asked for a "partially obstructed" oceanview and were not disappointed. Our cabin was mid-ship on Deck 4, right off the center elevator. It was the quietest cabin we've ever had and we never felt any ship motion. We had a large double window, floor to ceiling, with clear view out of one side and part of a lifeboat on the other. The wonderful HAL beds lulled us to sleep comfortably each night. We found plenty of storage space, including under the bed, several adjustable shelves and lots of hangers. It took a while to get used to putting your room card in the slot by the door in order to turn on the lights. We could have used more hooks on the wall and a desk drawer. We had a roomy bathroom and tub which was really nice for soaking tired bones after shore trips. DINING: Overall the food was excellent and service fast and efficient. We opted for Anytime Dining because we like to watch sail-aways and don't want to be tied to a specific dining time. We never had to wait more than a few minutes at the Main Dining Room, and found the food in the Lido full of variety to suit just about every taste. Food problems or complaints were quickly rectified. Several times we ate in the Canaletto, the Italian dinner venue where there is no extra charge. The service is pleasant and personal, and the Limoncello dessert to die for. We also had a free dinner in the Tamarind Asian restaurant courtesy of Capt. Mercer, which was elegantly served. Sometimes the Lido got very crowded, but usually the lines moved quickly. We miss not having trays and don't really understand why they're no longer being used. The first two days there was no self-service of food or drink, it was handled by the staff for health reasons. Lido hours should also be extended, as people are used to having food available just about any time on a ship. ENTERTAINMENT: The singers and dancers put on amazingly professional shows. We had good magicians and comedians and the main theater had plenty of room. During the day and evening there were the usual trivia games, hilarious game shows like the Marriage Game, Match Game, Liars Club, etc. Bingo had some good payouts, but the casino seemed very tight. Movies were shown daily, free internet classes, cooking classes, games around the pool. GYM, SPA, POOLS: The two nice-sized pools were seldom used because the water was too cold. Lots of pool side chairs were available for relaxation. We did not see many people use the private Sanctuary cabanas or the enclosed cabanas on the pool deck, probably because of the cost. We didn't use the Gym or Spa but understand there was plenty of exercise equipment and a small heated pool and sauna just for Spa guests. We appreciated the fact that waiters didn't bug you constantly to buy drinks when we were trying to relax. LIBRARY AND INTERNET: Usually on HAL ships these two facilities are midship at one of the lower levels, but here they are right outside the Vista Lounge at the top front on the ship. The Vista Lounge was always freezing cold, which didn't make for comfortable reading. There are several small bar areas where one could relax with a book or conversation with friends. We heard the usual complaints about the Internet: too expensive, slow service even when in port, wasting precious minutes waiting for "high speed internet". We usually looked for internet cafes on shore, very inexpensive. SHORE EXCURSIONS: Most were pretty expensive and with 16 ports we had to be selective. We took some private tours we had pre-arranged on Cruise Critic roll calls, several ship excursions which were well handled, and sometimes we just walked on our own. Shuttles to town were sometimes too expensive for such a short distance. Next time we'll check on local buses ahead of time. Every port has taxis handy, but they are not cheap and sometimes language is a problem. We had to be tendered in several ports, which went amazingly well for a ship with 2000 passengers. The Shore Information talks were informative and did not push shopping as much as some cruise lines do. The Shorex office needs to be open more hours to answer questions, as you could not reach them by phone. Docking in Venice after the first 12 days, the ship's computer malfunctioned and Captain Mercer announced we would stay an extra night docked in Venice. A computer expert had to be flown in from Germany with the proper parts. As a result we missed Split, Croatia, which was disappointing. But the extra night in Venice was enjoyable, as the ship had moved to a dock very close to St. Mark's Square. DISEMBARKATION: After 24 days, we arrived back in Venice while it was still dark out. We docked close to the Peoplemover, so after fairly easy disembarkation we rolled our luggage a few hundred feet to the Peoplemover and for 1 Euro we arrived in Piazzale Roma in minutes. From there we took the No. 5 bus to the airport hotel we had pre-arranged and flew home the next day. OVERALL we really enjoyed the whole 24 days. There were a few minor irritations, but when someone else cooks our meals, cleans up afterwards, makes our beds and puts out clean towels daily, provides 24-hour service and entertainment, what is there to complain about? Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
12 Night Med Tapestry/Nieuw Amsterdam Sept 12 -- 24, 2010 We are a 40ish married couple who traveled with my mother and aunt, on our first trip to Europe. We chose this cruise mainly for the itinerary. My husband and I have traveled ... Read More
12 Night Med Tapestry/Nieuw Amsterdam Sept 12 -- 24, 2010 We are a 40ish married couple who traveled with my mother and aunt, on our first trip to Europe. We chose this cruise mainly for the itinerary. My husband and I have traveled extensively through the US and Caribbean. Flew Delta JFK to Barcelona on 9/10, spent one night at the Hesperia Ramblas hotel. Highly recommend it, one block off the main street, paid 125E (booked on their website a few months before) for a very nice room. We were able to check in at 2pm, so after trip from the airport (landed at 8am, we were able to get all 4 of us and luggage into the cab), we did the hop-on-hop-off bus tour for about 5 hours. Returned to the hotel, checked in and napped until 7ish, then had a great dinner and turned in around 11pm. We did not sleep well on the plane, but after this routine and sleeping almost 11 hrs the first night, we were well adjusted and had no problems going forward. Next morning my husband and I did a 4 mile run prior to checking out and heading to the ship. It was tough to get a cab at 12 noon, so our recommendation is if you have time, the hotel was offering a late checkout for 20E or let them hold your luggage and wait till around 2pm to head to the port. It is only a 4 mile ride, which took close to 45 minutes, because of gridlock. We also had to send my mom and aunt in a separate cab, so we paid twice as much (I believe it was close to 35E with tip). Wait a couple hours and save yourself time, money and aggravation. The entire city was trying to get to the port at the same time. Check in was a breeze, we were on the ship, in our cabin in less than a ½ hour. Cabin 4185, off the stern one in from the corner. Beautiful cabin, nice balcony although not bigger than others that we have had on other ships. Ship : - Being brand new the ship is beautiful and kept in great shape. We were happy with the smaller size, since we have been on Royal, Princess etc., that are carrying 3,000 and more passengers. - Food was excellent; we did anytime dining and never had to wait for a table. Lido buffet was just as good and served the same dishes as the main dining room. Our only issue with the Lido were the hours weren't long enough. Breakfast ends at 10:30am and dinner goes only from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. We are late risers when possible and the Lido definitely needs to be open at least until 9pm for dinner. Main dining goes until 9:30pm but some nights we just didn't feel like the whole production of dinner. Also, we saw jeans in the main dining room frequently as well as on the formal evenings, men with no jackets and ties. So, don't fret so much over what to bring to wear. No one was being turned away. Didn't see shorts, but especially towards the end of the cruise, people with jeans and even flip flops on casual nights. Pinnacle Grill was fabulous; we had a free dinner there from our travel agent. Would have been worth the $25 charge if we didn't. - Entertainment was good, we aren't big on the production shows, but mom and aunt loved them. Guitarist Matt Murphy in the Crow's Nest was a highlight each night, we enjoyed him very much. The entertainment is definitely geared to the older traveler, but we picked this cruise for the itinerary foremost, so we were ok with it. After the 10:15pm show there is not much going on. - Internet is horrendous which is not news to you if you've been reading other reviews. $55 for 100 minutes, ½ of which we spent waiting to log in or log off. Do yourself a favor and wait to go to an internet cafe off the ship. - Casino is very nice, it's small but we never waited for a seat at a table. Dealers were all very nice and it was enjoyable to go there after dinner each night. Ports: Barcelona: We overnighted here before the cruise started and then spent one night on the ship here as well. Loved the city, very easy to get around walking or on the buses. People very friendly, we went through the Olympic park, rode the cable car and walked into the stadium from the Olympics. A lot of hill walking which was good for walking off the tapas and sangria dinner! Monte Carlo: We did a DIY here. We arrived in port at 10am, but they only allowed DIY people on the tenders for the first hour. After that time they switched to tours, which unfortunately pushed our get off time to 1:30pm. We were not happy that it was a 3 hr delay for us to get off. Luckily it was a long day in port until 10pm. I suggest at the first mention of tender tickets you get down there and get them if you are getting off on your own. Also, I found 2 tender tickets in my bag, marked group 8, so if you email me I will mail them to you! (see my info at the end). They made it through about 1-18 on the tender tickets, then switched to groups. Also, if you are doing a walking tour on your own, start at the Palace side of town and end on the casino side. We started at the casino, but would have preferred to see it in the dark all lit up. By the time we walked across town and did the palace etc, we didn't have time to go back. Side note on the casino: prior to 6pm, people were going in with shorts/sneakers etc, you did not need to be dressed. My husband and I had researched it prior as well as the ship's info was that men needed long pants and shoes and women needed to be smart casual prior to 6pm. That's not the case. All the tours went there and people were in shorts/sneakers/tshirts. After 6pm, I'm not sure of the dress code changes, but we were slightly annoyed that I was in a sundress and my husband in long pants on a hot day. 10E gets you into the casino. There were a couple of roulette tables open (Min 10E) and 1 Blackjack table open (Min 25E). My guess is the majority of the tables and rooms do not open until the evening hours. There were several slot machines open. Livorno, Italy: (Pisa/Florence): Having never been to Pisa, we decided to go only here, not on to Florence. DIY again, ships' shuttle to the main square then walk one block up to the main road, cross over and wait for the #1 bus heading to the train station. Took the train one stop to Pisa (approx. 20 minutes). I had purchased tickets to climb the Pisa tower prior to the trip (at least 45 days out, but not any closer than 15 days). We climbed to the top (highly recommend) and then had a pizza lunch at a little cafe on the side street. Four of us cost 58E for lunch. Took the train back, but when arrived at the station, found that the bus was no longer running and there were no taxis anywhere. We had 1 ' hours to spare and our group of 4 grew to about 10 as we saw others from the ship in the same predicament. We still don't know why the transportation was not there, but we hoofed it back to the shuttle site (about 2-2.25 miles) in about ½ an hour. Just made for a little bit of aggravation after a wonderful day in Pisa. Rome, Italy: Arranged for a private tour for the 4 of us prior to the trip with Rome In Limo. Was cheaper than the ship's excursion and we didn't wait for 50 people to get on and off the buses. We saw the Coliseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon and Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica. It was a whirlwind but we saw all the highlights. 500E for the car/driver for the day for the 4 of us, picked us up at 8pm we were back at the ship at 5:45pm. I also had bought tickets for the Vatican prior to the trip. This saved us again from having to stand in line. Messina,Italy: We made this a rest day, after a 6 mile run along the waterfront. We were tired from Rome the day before and it was a sunny, warm day, so we lounged by the pool while everyone else was out! Nafplion, Greece: Small town, very easy to walk around yourself. We followed the promenade around to the right about ½ hr easy walk which lead us to the beach. This is not a sand beach, it's rocky and also has the ladders right into the water. It was again sunny and hot and the water was chilly but crystal clear. It was Sunday so a lot of locals relaxing as well. After an hour here, we walked back through town. There is a fort at the top of the hill, about 1,000 steps up. My mom and I walked up about ½ way, beautiful views. There's a 4E charge at the top, make sure you have money to get in. Back by the ship's tenders there is a little train that takes you on a 20 minute tour for 5E I think it was. Nice way to see the town. Unless you are looking to go outside of the town, you can DIY. Katakalon, Greece : This is the only stop we did the ship's tour to Olympia. We had a good tour guide, but the Olympic site really does not have a lot of ruins in any type of formation. At least in Rome there was structure, here there was a lot of imagination needed! Needless to say it was a beautiful day again and I can say that we have been here. Corfu, Greece: DIY beach day. We rented a car at the terminal at 60E for the day. Drove to Glyfada beach across the island. Rental guy says 20 minute drive, but prior research told me otherwise. It's 45 minutes. Also a lot of people are saying you don't need a map, etc. Yes it's easy driving, but luckily we had my husband's blackberry GPS for the ride back. We did get lost and the map was of no help. Also found that a lot of people didn't speak English, so harder to communicate. Make sure you leave enough time for making a wrong turn and pad the time that the rental guy gives you. Otherwise, nice few hours resting at the beach, rented chairs and umbrellas for 7E each and there were nice tavernas with food and drink right there. Dubrovnik, Croatia: DIY, walked the 2 miles (uphill the whole way) from the ship to the Old City. It's a nice walk did take about 35 minutes. Did the city wall walk all the way around (1mile total), beautiful views, good workout! 10E for entrance fees, no problem using euros. Milled around the Old town, had gelato (also took euros) so we never needed to get kunas. One of my favorite ports, not enough time there. Took the ships shuttle back, picked it up right in the little circle at the Pile gate. They were charging $7.50 each way, but since we walked over, no one ever asked for a ticket back and we got a free ride ? Venice, Italy: 15 minute walk from the ship to the People Mover (1E for the 3 minute ride to LaPiazzle Roma) DIY, walked via the Rialto Bridge to St. Mark's Square. Had lunch sitting on the Grand Canal, 60E for the 4 of us. Went up in the Campanile (10E to go up, it closes at 7pm, so make sure you are on line in plenty of time. We waited approx 25 minutes to board the elevator. Then walked along the waterfront, did the gondola ride (100E for the 4 of us, I probably could have negotiated it a little bit, but considering HA was getting $99/pp for the ship's excursion, it was fine!) Please don't buy the gondola through the ship. There are tons of them and you can get a ride anywhere. The excursion prices are crazy compared to doing some things yourself. We overnighted here and had a 12:05pm flight out of Venice on Friday morning to JFK in NYC. We got off the ship at 7:30am, grabbed a taxi that was sitting right there, (45E and 25 minute ride to the airport). Delta counter did not open until 9am, so we were 3rd on line. I highly suggest this as by 8:30am, there were 150 people in line. Check in was extremely slow and there was only 1 security line open. By 10am we were on the other side which was very nice and there were plenty of shops and a 2nd floor cafe to grab something to eat. Flight was out on time. Random thoughts: - Transportation was much more expensive than we knew AND we are big walkers! My husband and I are runners and we had no problem walking 5-8 miles a day. Most ports required a shuttle from the ship and they charged you for it, 5E was normal and in Croatia it was $7.50 each way. Taxi fares were very expensive as well. Both to Barcelona and then to Venice airport were about 45E for the taxi, luckily we could get all 4 of us in there. Plan this into your expenses. - I also have 2 coupon books; only ones we used were the match play at the casino. I would be happy to mail these to you as well. - We had very high expectations regarding service and while it was very good, we found it on par with Royal or Princess on other trips we have been on. There were no problems, but I didn't find it to be exceptional. - I did a lot of research prior to the trip and made sure we had a plan for each port. We normally take relaxing vacations and I knew this would be one that was non-stop sightseeing and I didn't want to get caught short somewhere. It was a wonderful trip that opened up a new part of the world for us! You can email me at ksilver@eclipse.net and I will be happy to answer anything else you want to know!! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
We took the 12-day Mediterranean Empire cruise, leaving out of Venice, Italy. We boarded the Nieuw Amsterdam on Friday, 9/24 and were a little surprised at the size of our Deluxe Verandah Suite. It seemed smaller than the other suites of ... Read More
We took the 12-day Mediterranean Empire cruise, leaving out of Venice, Italy. We boarded the Nieuw Amsterdam on Friday, 9/24 and were a little surprised at the size of our Deluxe Verandah Suite. It seemed smaller than the other suites of the same class on our other cruises. But, it was very comfortable, except for controlling the temperature. The ship had a problem with a computer board and we were "stranded" in Venice for one extra day, which was great. We did not go to Croatia and were disappointed but understood the problems. The staff seemed to be a little inexperienced and we attributed that to it being a new ship. But, they were very helpful, just not quite as attentive as on the other HA cruises. The shore excursions were good, except in Istanbul and Ephesus Turkey. Both times we ended up at rug dealers and felt somewhat pressured. We had no intention of buying rugs and didn't like waiting for those who had to makes calls to the US and decisions about buying rugs. HA should have shore excusions exclusively for those who want to buy rugs. We definitely felt the increased nubmer of passengers on this ship, and prefer the smaller HA ships. As usual, several passengers became ill, including my husband. He developed bronchitis and visited the ship's doctor who dispensed medication and sent him to bed. Unfortunately, he missed Santorini but that gives us an excuse to go back! All in all, it was a great cruise, the weather was perfect and as soon as we recover from jet lag, we start thinking about our next HA cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2010
My wife and I arrived in Venice the day before our Mediterranean Empires Cruise aboard the new Nieuw Amsterdam. We took the ATVO bus from Marco Polo (3 euros each) and spent the night at the Hotel Arlecchino literally two blocks from the ... Read More
My wife and I arrived in Venice the day before our Mediterranean Empires Cruise aboard the new Nieuw Amsterdam. We took the ATVO bus from Marco Polo (3 euros each) and spent the night at the Hotel Arlecchino literally two blocks from the Piazzale Roma steps from the bus stop. The hotel, by the way, I found on citybreak.com and cost us 88 euros tax and wonderful breakfast included! Next morning we took the new People Mover for 1 euro each to the ship and what a beauty she is! You can see photos on the web, suffice it to say the embarkation was smooth as always and our Deluxe Veranda Suite (SA) was perfectly in order. A new item in the suite on this ship is a stall shower in addition to the jacuzzi type tub. Unlike the Zuiderdam, whose suites we have occupied before, this new ship has a subdued definately New York feel to the color schemes on board; gone are the reds and pomegranate, enter the browns and chocolate beiges. Who cares about the food? Well,everyone does! And the N.A. has perfection in every venue at every meal under the direction of Jonathon Lewis. The Manhattan Dining room, open or fixed seating, had meals for every taste from veal chops to surf and turf, from perfectly done fish to spa cuisine. A bad meal is impossible. This time around if you like a cheese plate for desert as I often do, they give you a list of cheeses from which you can select your wants. Nice touch. Lido offers fresh made ethnic food at lunch from Chinese to Indonesian. The regular fish/chicken/stew line is still there along with custom panini made to order, salad bar, fruit bar, desert bar...I am getting fat just writing about the choices. Of course there is the option of lunch on deck with hamburgers and grill fare or fresh made pizza (could be better) or more conventional lunch in the dining room or the other venues. The Pinnacle Grill has a new expanded menu in extra tariff room ($20/per dinner, $15 lunch) and the rib eye steak is still this writer's favorite. My wife loved the lobster and the chocolate volcano desert. New to the Eurodam and N.A. is Tamarind, the Asian fusion restaurant. I don't know where to begin. It is free at lunch, a modest $15/per for dinner. The food and service are beyond perfection. Forgive me for not waxing poetic for room service or the suite exclusive Neptune Lounge and the other perks. They are wonderful as well and HAL is one of the few lines that will give you a hot cooked breakfast in room service included in your fare. BTW no place to mention Katakalon...we did stop there. It as okay...good last stop to buy souvenirs. Nieuw Amsterdam It is as good as it gets. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2010
We are a couple in our early fifties and have cruised a few times with most of the major lines over the years. We traveled with friends of the same age who are first time cruisers, our 24 year old daughter and her 78 year old grandmother. ... Read More
We are a couple in our early fifties and have cruised a few times with most of the major lines over the years. We traveled with friends of the same age who are first time cruisers, our 24 year old daughter and her 78 year old grandmother. We booked two staterooms that were the lowest level balcony guarantee and one inside guarantee and received aft balcony cabins 6177 and 6179 with adjoining balconies and an inside cabin directly across the hall. We were very pleased with our assignment and the fact that they were able to keep us together. This was our first time on Holland. Our most recent cruise had been on Celebrity Solstice and we found HAL to be similar in many ways to Celebrity. We arrived in Venice one day pre-cruise and spent our first night at Hotel Olimpia near Piazza Roma. The next day we wanted to spend as much time as possible in the city so we left our luggage at the hotel until around 4:30 p.m., walked to the People Mover and were on board the ship within minutes. At the time we arrived there were no other passengers in the terminal so we were able to walk right on with our luggage arriving just after we found our staterooms. The staterooms were spacious with plenty of storage. The beds were comfortable and we especially enjoyed being able to open the balcony partition between our two cabins for even more space. Our cabin stewards were very friendly and kept our room tidy. We had one small issue with the air conditioning not keeping the room as cool as we like and after a couple of days they were able to make an adjustment and the temp was comfortable for the remainder of the cruise. Since the ship is new I am sure they are still working out some of the small issues. I pre-ordered two bottles of liquor, a wine card, coffee card and specialty dining reservations and all were in our room when we arrived. The only issue was that the wine card that I ordered was for 20 glasses and the card was for 10. One visit to the front desk and this was taken care of. It does seem that they are phasing out the cards as they had some trouble locating a 20 glass card but we found them to be a good value for wine by the glass. We were assigned anytime dining which worked well for us as we were in port until late afternoon most days. This was our first time without scheduled dining and we were very pleased. We usually arrived in the dining room around 7:00 p.m. and never encountered any wait. We especially enjoyed the fact that the Lido had many of the same entrees as the main dining room and when we did not feel like dressing for the dining room we still felt like we had an excellent dinner. The food in all venues was among the best we have experienced on any ship. We dined in Tamarind for our daughter's 24th birthday and thought the meal was wonderful. If the cruise had not been so port intensive we would have definitely visited this restaurant again. The seafood lunch buffet in the Lido on the last sea day was especially good. The entertainment on board was enjoyable. We did not attend a show every night but the ones we did attend were entertaining. We spent some time in the piano bar and enjoyed having drinks in the evening in the various lounges but usually were in our cabin by 11:00 each night. We are all non-smokers but had no issues with the smoking policy on the ship. We never noticed any scent of smoke with the exception of a very small section of the aft pool dining area or the casino. We did not book any of our shore excursions with HAL. I am sure they were excellent but we prefer small group sightseeing. I used my research on this site and booked private excursions for our group of 6 at all ports and we were very pleased with all. I can only think of one thing that I was not pleased with and that was the internet service. I purchased the smallest package which was $50 +. I had a notebook and attempted to connect and spent about 20 minutes logging into one site. My patience wore thin and I never attempted again. I brought it to stay in touch periodically with our offices but we managed to get by without and wished I had not wasted the money. Debarkation in Barcelona was just as easy as embarkation. We walked directly off the ship, found our luggage easily and were out of the terminal in 10 minutes. Thanks to the wonderful crew and staff of the Nieuw Amsterdam for a wonderful vacation! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2010
Background Info: As my title says, this cruise was to celebrate my 50th (actually in September but starting early) birthday. Booked this cruise back in October and have been counting down ever since. I've been on 10-15 cruises lost ... Read More
Background Info: As my title says, this cruise was to celebrate my 50th (actually in September but starting early) birthday. Booked this cruise back in October and have been counting down ever since. I've been on 10-15 cruises lost count and have been on one other HAL ship, Maasdam, very nice but smaller and I must be truthful, on a gay sponsored cruise so that was a bit different. Also picked this cruise for the itinerary and the fact that the ship was new. Also never been to the Med, so all ports were new to me. Our itinerary was Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Liverno (Florence), Civitavecchia (Rome),Messina,Nafplion,Katakolon,Corfu,Dubrovnik and Venice. Ship: Very beautiful and understated, not as glitzy as other lines such as the corporate owner Carnival. Staff is extremely friendly and nice, I think more than other cruise lines. I lost my camera about half way through the cruise and one of the staff found it and returned it to lost and found. When she (Evangeline from the Sea View pool) saw me at the pool she told me she found it I gave her a big hug since I had taken some 500 pictures already and was very upset about losing it. She was one of the highlights of the trip! One of the others was Tom the tour guide. What a great guy and gave some great advice on what to do on shore. Loved the narration coming into Venice! Also have to mention a bar attendant name Boozie Boozie (his last name) at the Sea View pool, this is a guy that loves his job and is excellent at it. What a great personality and makes everyone laugh. Stateroom: Loved the stateroom. Our cabin was on the port side which seemed to the side we docked each time, love to watch the docking process. Lots of storage and I travel heavy meaning lots of clothes and I had plenty of room. They even had two drawers under the bed which I never used! Even had enough room to store the luggage under the bed and in the closet. Loved having the tub for more room for showering, rare on a cruise unless you have a suite. Also loved the containers in the shower for shampoo, conditioner and loved the shower gel. The baloney was very roomy and used it every morning when having coffee. Very fun way to not lose your stateroom key, HAL makes you insert the key in a pad by the door to turn on the electricity, good way to save energy as well. Excursions: Took three HAL sponsored excursions to Florence, Rome and Olympia and was not disappointed. I must say they are a bit pricey but I didn't want to deal with renting cars and getting lost especially since your only in these ports for a certain number of hours. For the ports where we could walk to a town or beach that's what we did. On one occasion we rented a car in Corfu with friends we met on board and that was fun. Hint - if your a dumb American (LOL) like me make sure you asked if they rent auto transmissions since alot don't. Dining: We opted for "As you Wish dining" and was not dissatisfied. The only comment here is even though its "As you Wish", when you go you tend to have to wait for a table, but no problem, they gave us free champagne! We loved loved loved the Tamarind restaurant and ate there three times. Fredy, the mgr, was the greatest guy and always fitted us in. The food and service was magnificent. We also ate once in Pinnacle and loved that as well, but a bit more formal but a very nice place and again service was great as well as the food. Formal nights: One note I wanted to make was how HAL handles formal nights. Now I have been on many cruises as stated and HAL is the only ship I've been on that requires formal attire in all dining revenue on formal nights. Other lines require it in the dining room but not in the specialty restaurants. I would be okay with that if it was communicated prior to the cruise. The first formal night I was turned away from Pinnacle since I didn't have a jacket. Now I know better than to wear jeans and was wearing black dress pants and a dressy long sleeve shirt, but still turned away. Had to go back to the stateroom and order room service. Needless to say I was not very happy that night. One of the reasons I loved Fredy in Tamarind was he allowed me to go there on the formal nights and other guests I might add, if they did not have a jacket or tuxedo. My own opinion is I think HAL should rethink formal attire in the restaurants on formal nights. This was the only per say negative of the cruise, but I got over it. Standout Moments: All ports but especially Dubrovnik, I was so surprised how beautiful this city was, not to say the others weren't but I was so pleasantly surprised. Also coming into Venice was an experience one will never forget, unbelievable. Summary: A wonderful cruise with wonderful new friends we met on the ship and wonderful memories. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2010
My wife and I are fairly experienced travelers and have cruised several timers in the last 4 years but never on Holland America. First off, the Nieuw Amsterdam is a truly beautiful ship.Understated elegance is how best to describe the ... Read More
My wife and I are fairly experienced travelers and have cruised several timers in the last 4 years but never on Holland America. First off, the Nieuw Amsterdam is a truly beautiful ship.Understated elegance is how best to describe the decor. The boarding process in Venice went extremely smooth and since our cabin was not yet ready, we joined others for lunch in the main dining venue ( Manhattan Room ). Service,food presentation and overall ambience were perfect. Our cabin was more than comfortable and the bathtub in the bathroom was great.The layout of the cabin and all the amenities were very comfortable. We choose 'Any time' dining and that worked out perfectly for us.We never waited more than 10 minutes for a table and were always extended a complimentary glass of champagne to offset the wait.We also ate several nights in the specialty restaurants and found them to be worth the extra cost. The Tamerind was a favorite and our dining there will be remembered for the attention to detail in food preparation, quality of the food and the special service. The entire staff of the ship are great. Always friendly, helpful and accommodating. I could not think of anything lacking in how we were treated.Please remember to appreciate your cabin stewards and any other personnel that you interacted with on the cruise. They are the best ! All public rooms are tastefully decorated and inviting. Food in all venues are first rate and the wait staff are always present to assist with any special requests. The ports are mostly special with exception of Argostoli. Many of the passengers that we interacted with -questioned why we had to waste time at this stop.. We only signed up for one Holland America tour due to the inflated costs and mundane tour details. We booked shoe excursions on our own with several other couples and found them to be more reasonable in costs and more enjoyable in the choice of itineraries. The one H-A tour was the Venice Jewish Ghetto tour. A total waste and rip off.We spent probably 3 times the cost of or doing it on our own and would have seen so much more. The H-A tour took us to several synagogues, that were empty of any ritual objects and we were not permitted into the synagogue museums ( which did contain the religious objects ) nor the book stores. We were given perhaps 10-15 minutes to walk around the square, before being led back to the tender-which basically wasted time cruising around the canal before heading back to the ship. If you are jewish or are interested in the history of the Ghetto-do it on your own,save money, see the necessary and come away with appreciation of what you have seen.Holland America should be ashamed for foisting this type of 'tour' on unsuspecting passengers ! All other ports were great-if you knew what you wished to do and planned accordingly every port was jammed with visitors so be prepared.Still they are a must to see and experience. The one main complaint voiced by many, many passengers had to do with the temperatures thru out the ship. The cabins should have individual controls, otherwise you always hear the fans whirling 24/7-A real annoyance.Almost every part of the ship was freezing-especially the main dining venues ( Manhattan and Lido ) and several times fellow passengers left their meals due to the discomfort of freezing temps. Also many people were sneezing, coughing and blowing their noses due to being sick-most likely caused by the uncomfortable and unhealthy air-conditioning. On our cruise there were only 14 children including teens-probaly because of schools already starting. Be also prepared to share your voyage with a very senior passenger list. This is not a cruise for young families or those looking for a swinging crowd. For the most part, a sophisticated make up of passengers who know what to expect. If you do your homework before booking and are willing to forgo the H-A tours it is the cruise to remember and cherish with a loved one. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2010
We flew over from West Palm Beach to Barcelona and just missed a hurricane enroute. Luckily we got the to board the ship on the first day of 2 days in the port. I really like it when a cruise starts with 2 days in a port to make up for ... Read More
We flew over from West Palm Beach to Barcelona and just missed a hurricane enroute. Luckily we got the to board the ship on the first day of 2 days in the port. I really like it when a cruise starts with 2 days in a port to make up for travel problems. The ship itself is very plain and very basic. Holland is not sparing any money on glitz, but they keep adding cabins to the same size series of ships. We got a very nice upgrade that placed us on the 12th floor in the rear of the ship. This was the first time and we loved it as got a bigger stateroom and was able to see action on both sides of the ship. The room was the best part of the cruise as the food was not up to the usual Holland American standards. I believe this is due to Carnavel's cost cutting which taking all the grandeur and enjoyment of cruising. We had some very tough and fatty filet minion's on formal nights which unacceptable. I also missed having tapioca, rice pudding, and banana bread. The entertainment was good, but not great. All of these ships are now having their production shows lip sinked so only the dancing is live performance. The service was good, but the ship was under staffed! We always had to get our own drinks when in the buffet and their was never enough staff around for refills. The Ports are all getting much to crowded in the summer for our taste, but thankfully we had been to each one previously. I will skip Rome, Venice, and Dubrovnik in the future as just not enough room to enjoy oneself. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
My husband and I just returned from a 10 day maiden voyage on the Nieuw Amsterdam. We are experienced cruisers who have been on Holland America ships four times and many other cruise lines. We took this voyage because of the itinerary ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from a 10 day maiden voyage on the Nieuw Amsterdam. We are experienced cruisers who have been on Holland America ships four times and many other cruise lines. We took this voyage because of the itinerary going in and out of Venice, Italy. We had never been to the ports that the ship was scheduled to visit and looked forward to a brand new ship. Since we knew that we would probably be tired from the long flight, we decided to travel a day early to make sure we could get to see a little of Venice before getting on the ship. We stayed in a hotel near the Piazzale Roma. We had been told that the cruise lines offered free shuttle buses from that point to the port. So we waited on the day of embarkation at that place for a bus along with many other people getting on the ship. Holland America never did send a bus for the people. I managed to get a taxi for us and several other passengers to take us to the pier. The embarkation itself was relatively painless and fast. We mentioned to the Holland America representatives that they should send someone over to tell the remaining passengers that a bus was not being provided, and they indicated that they would. When we got aboard the ship looked just lovely and inviting. We got to our room which was a deluxe verandah on deck 6. Then we tried to turn on the lights and the t.v. and found out that they weren't working. When I went down to guest services to ask about the problem, I found out that the lights would not work without the room keys being inserted in the small box entering the cabin. Our lights still wouldn't work until our steward managed to get two keys from maintenance and place them in the box. We later found out that this was a common problem on the ship. It seems that the ship is designed to conserve energy, and they had put this feature in the lighting systems in each cabin. Some other glitches in the cabin were drain stoppers that were not working correctly and other minor annoyances. Overall the cabin was very adequate. The beds were extremely comfortable. They could have put better lighting in the entrance as it was hard to see into the closets. There was a bath tub in our cabin. There could have been more shelves for storage. Our room steward was wonderful. He took great care of us on the ship, He was one of the best stewards we ever had on a ship. We were also impressed with the dining room food and service. Our waiters made sure that we were well taken care of and remembered what we liked. They even remembered that our dining room companions liked Earl Grey tea and since there was a shortage of it on the ship, they even looked for it in different dining rooms to make sure they had it at dinner. The food and menu was interesting. We had lobster three times on the menu, maybe it was because our ship had a lot of Holland America executives on board for this cruise including the president of the company. The Lido food was also very tasty and varied. We never really had trouble finding a seat during breakfast or lunch. The help was always pleasant and professional. The tours were not that memorable. We felt that the tour guides did not speak adequate English and were difficult to understand. One tour to the Jewish Ghetto in Venice was a complete waste of money. The guide trotted along at a very fast clip and would not slow down for the elderly guests who were having trouble keeping up. She refused to allow even fifteen extra minutes for browsing in the shops. In Croatia we were hot and tired, because many of the tours required a lot of walking in the heat. However we did have no trouble getting on and off the ship in the ports we visited. Our ports were Venice, Dubrovnik, Katakolon, Corfu, Split, Kotor (Montenegro), and Trieste. The entertainment on the ship was generally better than average. The first night on the ship we were treated to a musical group called Abracadabra which sounded and looked like ABBA. They were wonderful. The stage shows were good, but I have seen more elaborate technical shows on other ships. On the third night of the cruise a serious incident occurred. I was sitting in the dark enjoying the show, when an elderly couple came in to sit beside me. The woman fell on the floor because the seat was not properly attached to its back. She got hurt and was not able to get up. Her husband and I struggled to get her to her feet. I then told him to go and get her some help. He approached two employees of Holland America who were watching the show. They came and picked up the seat. Then they left with the seat and never returned. After a while I went to find another employee in the theater who came and took them out to the medical office. I was very upset for them that she was treated so badly. I couldn't believe that those employees just left her there. If you are a gambler, you might want another ship, as the casino is very small and understated. The library was the best one my husband has ever seen on a cruise ship. It was large and carried all the best sellers. The gym was also large and had all the latest equipment. However the Internet service on the ship was very slow and expensive. There were three pools. I heard some complaints from other passengers that they were too small and lacked supervision of children who were running around making noise. I did not see much for kids in the way of activities. It is geared to a more mature traveler. The hands on cooking demonstrations on board were excellent. I learned a lot about Italian and Greek cooking. here was enough to do during the two days at sea. I especially liked the first run movies that were shown in the theater. We were lucky to be on a Holland ship during the World Cup finals. That night the ship was aglow in orange. The ship had a huge screen set up for the game in the theater. There were great appetizers for all and a joyful time was rocking the boat. Unfortunately things got quiet when Spain scored the winning goal! The biggest criticism I have on this ship is the laundry. Since there are no guest washers and dryers on board, I made the mistake of sending out a bag of laundry. For seven days they could not find my clothes, and I was miserable. They managed the last day I was on the ship to locate most of my clothes. I was not a happy camper! The supervisor of customer relations gave me a hassle over possible compensation if the clothes never showed up. Originally she was going to take my claim for the clothes and send it to the corporate office to determine whether my claim would be settled. Only after I complained loudly did she finally agree to compensate me at the end of the cruise. They really need to get their act together. The highlights of the trip were the celebrities that were on board, including Princess Maxima of the Netherlands, who christened the ship. We all got to sign a ceremonial wall that will be laminated and kept on board the ship as a permanent fixture. The debarkation was very easy. They assigned times to the passengers with color coded tags, and the passengers just left at those times. There were no lines, no announcements, and no hassle. Overall we had a very interesting and enjoyable trip, but I will never send out laundry on another Holland America ship! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
We got back from our Venice to Barcelona cruise last week and still have the glow. Our experience was excellent and initially concerned with have interior cabins. Recommend doing this if you want to save some money for on-board wine and on ... Read More
We got back from our Venice to Barcelona cruise last week and still have the glow. Our experience was excellent and initially concerned with have interior cabins. Recommend doing this if you want to save some money for on-board wine and on shore excursions since you are rarely in your room. * Baggage limit: None on the ship but if you travel from the US to Venice with no lay overs, you are limited to 1 bag each weighing less than 50 pounds! They are sticklers but most carriers will charge you $50 more per additional bag. If traveling within Europe (stop over) careful! 1 bag per person or in our case 360 Euros more for our extra bag....ouch! * Venice arrival: We took the ATVO bus from the airport which dropped us off at the ship terminal. See the link below, 3Euros/person and buy your tickets in the machines where you pick up your baggage. Walk out the front door to the middle island and present your tickets. Bus runs every 30 minutes. (http://europeforvisitors.com/venice/articles/venice_airport_buses.htm) * On Board Dining: We went with the 5:30 seating in the main dining room which allowed us to see the shows at 8pm. The wine list was excellent and prices reasonable. I had wine almost every night and choose the 7 bottle package for $199. Great selection and recommend 2 on the list, the Martini Reisling and the Chilean Malbec. Food was top notch and service was excellent. Deky was our primary server, great and enthusiastic service from this primarily Malaysia crew. Don't forget to pack for at least 3 formal nights (men, wear the same thing, no one will notice) * Interior rooms - spacious, 2 big closets, regular American electrical plugs (3 prong), big enough for 3 adults, good sized bathroom with shower, sink and toilet. Plasma TV's in all rooms showing great movies for those who want to just relax with one channel showing the front of the ship and one pointing to the back. Fun to watch if you have an interior room as you come into port. * Excursions - If you are not the adventurous type, go with the HAL sponsored tours. In most ports, just climb onto the bus and let them take you where they want to take you. Our best days in port were the ones where we took the shuttle from the ship to the center of town and wandered around. Rome is a different story, we wasted 4 hours zigzagging after Trevi Fountain back across town for lunch. Went to the Vatican (very hot, take water to stand in line) but worth the visit then only 30 minutes at the Colosseum. It would have been better to have hired a taxi to go just to the places we wanted for as long as we wanted. This is the draw back of going on an organized tour. ** Overall experience on this 12 day cruise was fantastic and would absolutely do it again! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
My wife and I took our 12 year old granddaughter on the the Nieuw Amsterdam in July. It was the second voyage for the ship but the first time for these ports. (Maiden voyage was to the western Med). The itinerary included Split, Katakalon, ... Read More
My wife and I took our 12 year old granddaughter on the the Nieuw Amsterdam in July. It was the second voyage for the ship but the first time for these ports. (Maiden voyage was to the western Med). The itinerary included Split, Katakalon, Athens, Kusadasi, Istanbul, Mykanos and Santorini. Other than Santorini, it's a great itinerary and we had terrific great excursions. I highly recommend the "Olympia and Zorba" excursion on Katakalon. Great viewing, great fun. Our granddaughter was so exhausted from the dancing she slept the whole trip back to the ship. The ship itself is OK. It seems almost identical to the Noordam which we took in Julu 2009. We had a Veranda suite on deck 5. These rooms have no desk drawers and limited shelf space in the closet area. The only drawers are in the nighttables and big ones under the bed which are not very useful and take up space for suitcases. The desktop fills very quickly with chargers, cameras, papers,flowers, etc.and there is only a very small coffee table to put anything on. The bathroom is small with very little shelf space and no medicine cabinet. There were some air conditioning problems for most of days but not too bad, considering the daily highs were about 95 - 100F. There are a lot more bars and eating areas than on the older, smaller ships which I much prefer. I don't understand the bars as HAL doesn't normally get a big drinking crowd and indeed most of the bars did not seem to get a lot of business. The Tamerind restaurant did not seem prepared for even a half full house, with extremely slow service by both the wait staff and the kitchen. The food was very good. The Pinnacle service and food were excellent as usual. Additional ports visited were Mykanos and Santorini. Mykanos was interesting. Santorini is extremely hilly and without interest. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
Our group of ten consisted of family and friends (6 male, 4 female), aged between 24 to 56 years. Most of us have cruised before. My wife, our son and I have cruised with Carnival and Royal Caribbean several times before. This is our 4th ... Read More
Our group of ten consisted of family and friends (6 male, 4 female), aged between 24 to 56 years. Most of us have cruised before. My wife, our son and I have cruised with Carnival and Royal Caribbean several times before. This is our 4th 12 night cruise in Europe and our first cruise with HAL. Ship Info : Lovely new ship - that's why we picked this cruise. Small atrium area - not as spectacular as other ships we have been on. Generally, the dEcor was tasteful and functional. Lots of very comfortable places to sit alone or to spend time together. Service : Room stewards were fabulous - always helpful and accommodating. Waiting staff were attentive and very professional. Tuxedo hire was a disaster. On Day 1, we purchased 6 tuxedos for the men, but only 1 tuxedo that fitted could be found. We are all fairly average in physique. Consequently, five men in our group had to attend the formal nights underdressed. We had been given promises and had been charged for the tuxedos, but it was right up to the hour before we had dinner on the first formal night that we realised that promises were empty. As it was, most people didn't even bother getting dressed up. Very disappointing compared to the tuxedo service and formal nights on other cruises. Internet service was slow and a little expensive. Laundry Service - We opted for the $85 Unlimited Laundry package. We got good value from this. However, others experienced some problems. Sometimes, the returns took 2-3 days. Clothing was not pressed (is that an extra charge?). The Front Desk are the single portal to all services. For instance, we were unable to contact the tailor or the laundry directly. This caused long queues and waiting times. On other cruises we could deal directly with the separate services. Port & Shore Excursions : Awesome ports. Split was interesting. Shopping around the Diocletian Palace is great. Athens is always good fun. Although the new Museum was a little disappointing - wonderful building but a little thin on exhibits. Mykonos - Party town - don't miss Paradise Beach after dark !! Istanbul - Awesome! The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Palace are just breath-taking. Also don't miss the Grand Bazaar - hours and hours of stalls. Catch the light rail from the dock to everywhere. Kusadasi - We travelled to Pamukkale- the Cotton Castles - the highlight of the cruise. The markets in Kusadasi are good too. Santorini - Plan to get to shore later than expected (thanks to HAL). Catch the Cable Car up. We hired open-top Smart cars - the roads are chaotic and the beaches are poor. More fun hanging around town. Beware of the trip back down to the tenders. Allow plenty of time. The Cable Car had a queue 90 minutes long. The donkey trail down was quicker, but very slippery and very aromatic !! Katakalon - small town. The beach 4km away is excellent. Hire a quad or a scooter for next to nothing. Last chance for cheap Ouzo. Tenders: We had tender services at Split and Santorini. HAL have a policy of giving priority to passengers going on HAL excursions. Consequently, if you were going ashore independently, you had to wait and wait and wait. For instance, at Santorini we "docked" at 8am, HAL excursions were given priority and had exclusive use of the tenders until 9:30, when independent passengers could start to queue. We were at the start of the queue, but still didn't get to shore until 10:30. We then had to queue for a Cable Car to the town. HAL were not interested in the fact that we had booked a private excursion for 9am. On top of this, HAL only revealed this "priority" arrangement late the previous night in the newsletter. Therefore we had little opportunity to change our arrangements. Stateroom : Well set out, with plenty of drawer and wardrobe space, but lacked lighting in the wardrobe. The walls are thin - we could clearly hear conversations, doors slamming and footsteps outside. Warning, Warning - do not book the following rooms: Cabins 7129, 7125 : a loud mechanical banging noise near the rear wall ceiling, starts randomly at about 4:00am and continues until the late morning. HAL could not identify the cause and we were moved after 5 sleepless nights. Cabin 5024: the air-cond was broken and was stuck on the coldest setting. It was like a meat safe and is impossible to sleep. I believe the Front desk already knew this room was problematic, but still moved us there. Both moves we had to do ourselves with no assistance and this wasted two mornings. Our final cabin, 6136 was great - we finally could sleep after 6 terrible nights. The Front Desk did not appear to care that this was inconvenient for us. Perhaps they are understaffed. We even had to forgo time ashore in order to try and catch up on sleep. Dining : We opted for Open Seating Dining - what a mistake. Although the food was excellent, the dining room booking system seemed to be tedious and the Madredie appeared to have difficulty driving the software. We had great difficulty getting a table for 10, when tables for 11 sat empty all night. Consequently we had dinner at the Tamarind on a couple of occasions. It was very pleasant, nice food, but twice was probably enough. Even here, we had to book for a 6pm or 9:30pm seating. Again, the majority of the tables were not used all night. We were unable to book the Pinnacle Grill - it too, looked as though it had empty tables. Perhaps people book and just don't turn up? Dining on the Lido deck was fine. Good variety and combinations of tasty food. Seating was ample. Entertainment : Good quality entertainment. The comedian was genuinely funny and the singers and entertainers were very professional. The band was super. Ample, comfortable seating in the main auditorium. The entertainer in the Piano Bar was outstanding. He really engaged the crowd and had a good repertoire. Most people on board were fairly conservative, hence places like the Northern Lights disco were very quiet and totally died before midnight. The Casino was small, but adequate. The croupiers were good, but again the atmosphere was quiet. It appeared that 90% of the 2000 passengers went to bed at 10pm !! Disembarkation : smooth, efficient and quick. We opted for the 9:45 exit. Summary : Disappointing response from HAL to the problems we had with our cabin(s) and suit hire etc. No real apology and no compensation, which spoilt our experience. HAL doesn't appear to be interested in problems, just maximising profit. Unfortunately, this means we will not cruise with HAL again. Better fun and value for money with other cruise lines.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
We have just completed our trip to Venice, Athens, Istanbul and the Greek Isles on Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam. We were a party of 5 so we had 3 staterooms. We had booked this trip late last fall and knew it would be only the ... Read More
We have just completed our trip to Venice, Athens, Istanbul and the Greek Isles on Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam. We were a party of 5 so we had 3 staterooms. We had booked this trip late last fall and knew it would be only the second voyage but for the price we received it was well worth the risk. To say the least, we had a great time. The ship was in great shape, our room steward was the best and all the wait staff were efficient and friendly. We hardly knew we had a steward but our room was always clean, fresh towels, ice and bed turned down. I don't know how they do it, but he knew our routine and when we were gone, he was there and done. Our food experience was also very good. We ate most of our dinners in the Manhattan Dining room with open seating. We never had to wait more than a minute and had nice large tables for 5. We ate breakfast in the Lido and a couple of lunches also. The selection and quality of the food here was much better than our last experience on Princess. We did eat in the Pinnacle Grill one night and the food was excellent but I am not sure it was worth the $20 up charge. Problem here was we sat a table too small for 5 people so it was a little cramped. However, again our service and food was certainly above average. There are so many things to do while on board that you would never get bored but you just can't do them all so you have to be selective. Bingo and Trivia seemed to conflict the days we were on board so we opted for Bingo. My complaint here is that the ship keeps too much of the entry fee rather than giving it away as prizes. At $25 per card, it seemed the prize giveaway was less than 50%. Some days it was very crowded and my son and I started figuring out how much the take was and then what was given away. The fact both he and I won did make it better and covered all of our entrance fees. The entertainment was decent but not over the top. A lot of the people liked the ships' singers and dancers. We thought that was the weakest of the entertainment. The comedian was ok, the Broadway singer excellent and the two piano players on one piano was clearly the best. The entertainment needed a magician and a ventriloquist. The only real complaint I have was the internet service or lack thereof. It was so slow or non-existent that I basically wasted my $55. The first day I had a coupon for 15 free minutes. 36 minutes later and still not online to access my email account I gave up. I complained and the minutes were returned to me. From then on, I used it sparingly and usually after 10pm when less people seemed to be online. If you are counting on using this for anything necessary, fast or big, forget about it. As to the locations and excursions, we were never disappointed in a single place we stopped. First, if this is your first time in Venice, just plan on getting there about 3 days early. We had two days on our own and the first night of the cruise was onboard in Venice. Venice was better than we imagined. There are the usual sites you must see but many others too, plus a lot of history. Two sites not to miss are Scuola san Rocco and the Frari Church. We stayed at the Locanda Orseolo which is about 3 minutes from St Marks Square. It is hard to find but once there well worth it because it is close to everything important. Our hosts, GiGi, Barbara and Alex were extraordinary and absolutely made sure everything was ok with you, the room, food and your stay. We found the hotel on the internet and had read many reviews and it lived up to those reviews. If and when we go back, we are staying here again. Did I mention that it was hot and humid? It felt like 99 and 99%. The sail out of Venice is one of the most spectacular you will see. You go out right by St Marks Square, the Campanile and the Doges Palace among other sites. Make sure you are outside on one of the upper decks and you will never forget it. We had done a lot of reading and research on the stops and pretty much figured out which locations needed an excursion or guide and those that you could do on your own. In Split, you tender in and then walk about 300 yards and you are in the castle. The city can be seen on foot and it was very nice with shops, open space and walking mall with palm trees. In Athens, we had set up by internet with Athens by Taxi for Paul or his son, Demetrius, to take us around. (athensbytaxi@athensbytaxi.org or athenstaxi@athenstaxi.org) We were in an air conditioned Mercedes mini bus. We had plenty of room and he drove right up to the entrance of all the sites versus the buses which had to park some distance away. Demetrius was great. You could tell he had pride in his country and in the history of Athens. He was very informative and wanted to make sure we saw what we needed to see but also some other things. We started at the Acropolis early to beat the heat and crowds. It didn't matter, it was crowded when we got there by 8 am but we beat all the ships tours there by at least 30-45 minutes. We were there on Sunday and he wanted to make sure we saw the changing of the guard at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. On Sunday, the whole guard changes so it is much grander with a band leading the entrance of the troops. He dropped us off and told us where to stand to have the best view and then picked us up within a 100 yards of the drop off spot. The rest of day was exactly the same way. We had a great time and saved at least $100 per person over the ship excursion price and did it on our time schedule plus got to see more. Next stop was Istanbul. Again, you need to be outside on deck when you sail into Istanbul. This is a big port with a lot of activity but the sites coming in are great. This is the only place we used a ship excursion and here's why. We got in on Monday and overnighted there until Tuesday at 5 pm. Again, we had researched what to do and what to see. Topaki Palace, where the sultan's lived and had their harems is not to be missed. However, we found out through reading that it is not open to the public on Tuesday. We called Holland to confirm this problem and also that there excursion said they would take you there. They were able to confirm that by special agreement, Holland's tours did get in the palace on Tuesday and so we booked this tour immediately which was about 4 months in advance of sailing. It was good that we did as all the excursions sold out and there was no public visitation on the day we were there. The palace was well worth seeing and should not be missed along with, of course, the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. The weather here was incredible, low 80's and a breeze. We ate outside in a small courtyard arranged by the ship's excursion. Next stop was Mykonos which was beautiful but can be done on your own. The ship's captain had arranged for the ship to dock rather than use tenders which was great. We spent day ashore fooling around in stores and eating. Next stop was Kusadasi and the ruins at Ephseus. Again, we had found our tour guide on the internet. His name was Levent Solmaz and we were again in an air-conditioned mini bus. (info@leventsolmaz.com) We started early which was great as it was hot and got worse. We went to the Virgin Mary House first and again as we were leaving the first excursion buses were arriving. We then went to the ruins at Ephesus. To say these are spectacular is an understatement. Our tour cost included the entrance fees to both ruins and the Terrace Houses. The whole place is phenomenal. Levent went with us and gave us all the history and he brought along overlays of the different ruins which showed us what they actually looked like 5000 years ago. When he pulled these out, other tour groups would leave their group and listen to Levent. We had a great time and saw so much. This is not to be missed and again, our cost was less than the ship excursion and much more comfortable. The location of Santorini makes this stop spectacular on its own. We took the cable car up and down. The line is long at both the top and bottom but it moves. I would pass on the donkey ride unless you just have some weird desire to do it that way. Again, we spent the day looking around, shopping and eating. We sat on the one of the highest roof tops for lunch and the views were awesome. Our service however was not as it was slow but I think the restaurant was a little overwhelmed by the number of people. Next stop was Katakolon and the ruins at Olympia. Again, we had arranged a guide, Andreas Stamos, several months in advance. (olympiataxi@yahoo.gr) He took us the site of the original Olympic Games and the ruins. He let us off right at the entrance where as the tour buses could not. It was hot and saved us several hundred steps in each direction. We ate at a small restaurant outside and then went to the winery for a short tour and a wine tasting. Another good day at a good price and in comfort. We had a final day at sea and then arrived back in Venice. We immediately rented a car (don't use AutoEurope if need an automatic transmission - confirmed in writing this would be available but was not when we rented) (they did find us an agency that had an automatic transmission car) and headed out to Vicenza to see some Palladio's villas. Vicenza was much larger than anticipated but we had found a hotel on the internet right downtown within walking distance of all the city sites. We spent Monday afternoon on a walking tour and then got up Tuesday morning and saw Montecchio Maggiore, Villa Rotunda, and Villa al Nani. All of which were spectacular. We drove back to Venice Tuesday night and stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott which is the closest hotel to the airport. The hotel has very spacious rooms, decent restaurant and very helpful staff. They run a free shuttle and they delivered us to the airport for our flight home Wednesday morning and back to reality. Needless to say, we had an awesome vacation which we will never forget. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
Review of Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam Background We are a professional couple in our early- to mid-thirties from Chicago. We have traveled extensively on land and have been on four cruises on different cruise lines. This was ... Read More
Review of Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam Background We are a professional couple in our early- to mid-thirties from Chicago. We have traveled extensively on land and have been on four cruises on different cruise lines. This was our first cruise on Holland America. We were on the second cruise of the Nieuw Amsterdam (July 14-26). We embarked from Venice, Italy (with an overnight stay); ports of call included Split, Croatia; Athens, Greece; overnight in Istanbul, Turkey; Mykonos, Greece; Kusadasi, Turkey; Santorini, Greece; and Olympia, Greece. We had two sea days (after Split and Olympia). There were three formal nights: both sea days and between Athens and Istanbul. Embarkation Our embarkation went relatively smoothly, with one hiccup. The ship embarked from Maritima in Venice, Italy. We took the People Mover (which is, in fact, working--going from Piazzale Roma to Marittima and Tronchetto). The People Mover was quite convenient and easy to use. A lot of people were using it. We did not try walking from Piazzale Roma to the pier. As we walked toward the terminal, there were many Holland America people around to direct us where to drop off our luggage and where to check in. They were very helpful. When we reached the check-in hall at the terminal, we did encounter some confusion. There was a lectern at the front where a HAL agent was handing out numbered cards and some preliminary paperwork. I don't remember what else the person said, but we left with the impression that we were to wait for our number to be called before we checked in at the check-in desk. We learned about ten minutes later that we were, in fact, free to check in right away, then wait to board the ship until the number on our card was called. HAL must have learned of the confusion, because someone from HAL started coming around to tell people to check in. Many people must have had the same impression we had originally, because there was a crowd of people getting into line to check in. Once we checked in, it was only about fifteen minutes until we boarded. A note about passports: Among the preliminary paperwork was an explanation that our passports would be collected upon check-in (and they were collected). I don't have the official explanation any more, but if memory serves, Turkish customs regulations require that the ship present the passports of all passengers for inspection. Our passports were returned to us after Istanbul. Staterooms We had a spa veranda stateroom located on deck 10. It was clean, and everything was in order. The spa staterooms come equipped with an i-Pod dock and speakers, which was nice, and a tabletop water feature. We don't particularly like those things, so we just unplugged it and it never bothered us. We read that the spa veranda staterooms had very small balconies, described as Juliet balconies, that had only room enough to stand on. This was not the case. Ours seemed to be a standard-sized balcony: there were two chairs and a small coffeetable-like table, maybe 15 inches in diameter. The Ship The ship is really beautiful. And finished, too. There weren't any glaring omissions that I noticed. I did notice some minor painting occurring (near the bottom of handrails), but I have seen painting up-keep on the other ships I have been on--all older ships, so I didn't think this really was a mark against a new ship. We were quite excited to see all the features that have been highlighted on the Holland America Blog: the New York skyline chandelier and the NY skyline mural were among my favorites. The public areas were all well-kept. We spent much of our time on the aft deck by the pool, the Crow's Nest, Explorations Cafe, the Piano Bar, the Queen's Lounge, and the Ocean Bar. The library collection in Explorations/Crow's Nest was rather impressive. They have New York Times best-sellers, tour books, nonfiction, a few books on tape, and a large collection of the Penguin Classics. I brought my own reading, so did not check out any books. If you are a reader and come unequipped or finish your book before the end of your cruise, you will have plenty to choose from. Whenever we sailed near interesting land masses (sailing out of Venice or into Istanbul, for example), Tour Guide Tom narrated the trip. The narration could be heard in public areas of the ship that had a view of land, and Tom would point out and explain important landmarks along the way. It made the trip more enjoyable to have a greater understanding of where we were going. The tour guide was also very helpful in finding things to do and places to see and eat in ports where we did not have any excursions booked. He was very knowledgeable about all the ports and eager to help. One nice thing was the relative quiet on the ship. There were announcements. We did hear once from the captain each day about our position and speed, and from the cruise director about docking/tendering procedures and daily activities. Not much more than that. A sign was posted by the aft pool stating that it was an adult pool, the family pool being the Lido pool. It seemed that very young children (pre-teen) all observed the rules, making a pleasant experience for everyone. Service Compared to our experience on other cruise lines, we think this is especially where Holland America stands out. Our room stewards quickly learned our routine, so they knew when we were not in the room so they could service it. Whenever we had a request, we were accommodated. Our waiters in the main dining room were cheerful and worked quickly and very hard. Dining We always got breakfast from the in-room dining breakfast menu. It was always on time, even a few minutes early. There was one day when we were notified that many people had early excursions, so breakfast might be a little late. It was still on time. Lunch was in the Lido buffet. We had a variety of sandwiches, salads, and hot entrees. They were always good and seemed fresh. The servers behind the counters were always cheerful and eager to help. Sanitation measures were most visible in the Lido buffet: no one helped themselves. The attendants dished out everything, then handed us our plate. Even at the beverage dispensers, there were attendants to get you what you wanted. Food in the main dining room was always good. My partner did mention that his beef was cooked a little past the medium-rare that he likes, but it was still good. Portions seem to be pretty typical for main dining rooms compared to the other cruise lines we have been on. While they are not large restaurant portions, I never left hungry. And with the eating that is available on board, my waistline probably didn't need any more. We usually brought a bottle of wine to dinner that we bought in port. We encountered no problems with this. They did tell us about the corkage fee before opening the bottle, and we fully expected to be charged, but I don't think we were every time. The Pinnacle Grill was excellent. We arranged our reservation before we embarked. The food was very good, as was the service: attentive, but not hovering. I informed the Maitreya d' that it was my partner's birthday, and he arranged a birthday cake for him (it was delicious). Tamarind was a nice experience. We were unfamiliar with the menu, and we had never had sushi but wanted to try it. The waitress was very helpful in explaining what each of the choices was and what to expect. For the main course, my partner wanted something that was noted on the menu as being very spicy. He doesn't like things very spicy and asked if it could be prepared more on the mild side. They were eager to accommodate him. Everything was very good. Excursions Excursions were well-organized. The tour guides seemed to be well-educated and highly knowledgeable about where we were going. One introduced herself as a Ph.D. candidate, and I overheard another discussing her credentials with someone on the tour (I don't remember what they were, but I do remember being impressed). We took half-day tours in Athens, Istanbul, and Olympia. The advertised duration of the tours was as advertized, maybe a half-hour longer in Istanbul. Tenders The tender procedure seemed to work well. At an appointed time, an announcement was made that the tenders were ready. At that time, passengers picked up a tender ticket in Queen's Lounge, which was simply a numbered card, then waited for their number to be called to make their way to the tenders. Where we tendered, I think it took perhaps an hour, give or take, for everyone's number to be called. At that point, anyone was free to go to the tenders at any time. Laundry We did the unlimited laundry. At the beginning of the cruise, we received our laundry back very quickly (we had some because we stayed a few days in Italy before the cruise). The advertised turn-around on the laundry form stated that if the laundry was in by 9 a.m., it would be back the next day, and they held to that policy. When we had a bit more laundry, our room steward was quick to supply us with an extra laundry bag. If you do the unlimited laundry, you do need to fill out the itemized form. And although the bags are small, you can make a lot fit in them. Internet We purchased an internet package. We found the internet service to be spotty. At times it was very slow and at one point stopped working altogether for a time. Other times, it was quite fast and worked well. I thought that it might be the difference between being in port and at sea, but this did not prove to be so. Both situations occurred in both places. The ship is equipped with wireless. We did not use it and did not hear about its reliability. Spa/Gym We looked around the gym when we got to the ship. They had a good number of treadmills and other cardio and strength equipment. They did offer classes, such as spinning and aerobics, and I did see water aerobics in progress a couple of mornings. The spa was nice. We both got our hair cut once during the cruise and were pleased with the results. While making appointments for haircuts, we overheard a woman making an appointment for a perm and coloring treatment. From this, I gather it is a full-service salon. If you plan on using the salon: I gave the woman who cut my hair a detailed description of how I like my hair cut. She mentioned that not everyone does because they go to the same beautician who always knows what to do. So be prepared to describe how you like your hair cut/styled. Entertainment The entertainment was quite good. My favorite was the HAL singers and dancers who performed in the Showroom at Sea. They put on three shows, and I wish they would have done one or two more. They were very good--not to be missed. In addition to the HAL singers and dancers, they featured a comedian, Mike Goddard. He was very funny. He did have two or three "R-rated" jokes, at which point some families with children in their early teens left. Which was too bad, because the rest was very good and quite suitable for youngsters. Katzenjammer, two guys playing one piano, performed another night. They were very talented on the piano and entertaining on stage (think Victor Borge). They also featured a Broadway singer and a saxophonist--not really our preference, but they were very talented, and I am glad we went and expanded our horizons. In the lounges, we enjoyed the Neptunes (a trio on piano, bass, and drums) and the HALcats (a lounge band). They were good to listen to while having drinks or for dancing. The pianist in the piano bar was good on the piano, and the place was always popular. Tuxedos We rented tuxedos through the company that works with HAL to rent tuxedos, Cruiseline Formalwear. Since this is separate from Holland America, I don't view their performance as a reflection on HAL. They are good in a pinch. Although we sent in our sizes as measured by a tailor well in advance of the cruise, we did not receive the proper size pants or jacket. We were able to make do, and in our photographs we look fine, but the tuxes did not fit properly. We had the same problem with this company once before when we cruised with another cruise line. Even with these problems, I think it is easier than buying a tuxedo or packing a suit of my own, but I am starting to rethink this. Again, I do not feel this reflects on Holland America. Other Cruisers The other passengers on the ship were all very pleasant. There seemed to be quite a range of ages from people in their 70's and 80's down to people in their early teens. The biggest group of people seemed to be in their 40's and 50's, some of whom brought their high-school- and college-aged children with them (very well-mannered young men and women). Next, there was a good lot people in their 30's, as well as their 60's and 70's. The last group in size was the teenagers. They all seemed to make friends with other passengers their age, and those who were of the proper age seemed to have a good time with the programs HAL organized for youngsters. Our first cruise on Holland America left us with a lot of good memories, and we are excited at the prospect of going on another cruise with them. Read Less
Nieuw Amsterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.5
Public Rooms 4.5 4.4
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.5 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.1

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