Sail Date: August 2012
Embarkment in Venice was very smooth. Used Hal's transfers. Transfers are very expensive for a 30 min. drive; but efficient. The ship is clean; but plain. This is not an elegant ship. Carpets in front of the elevators are showing ... Read More
Embarkment in Venice was very smooth. Used Hal's transfers. Transfers are very expensive for a 30 min. drive; but efficient. The ship is clean; but plain. This is not an elegant ship. Carpets in front of the elevators are showing wear; but the ship was kept very clean. Staff was excellent. Always smiles and they are very accommodating. The ports were all OK. Only took the ship's tours in Istanbul. The one at dinner time on the sea was wonderful. The tour the following day was very informative. Istanbul at night was a sight to see. Athens was OK. A busy city but interesting to see. Many tenders on this trip; but they all went smoothly. Just wait an hour & you will not have to get a ticket. Myknose was missed because of rough seas. The food was very just OK. I expected much better food from Holland America. The Lido was always crowded I had to save a table while my husband got his plate almost all the time. Entertainment was OK. Just something to do after dinner. The piano bar was very entertaining. Biggest problem with this ship is that 1/2 the ship was sick with a cough and/or a cold. Sneezing & coughing all over the entire ship. Table mates were great; but we were all sick by the 5th day. Disembarkment went very smooth. Took Hal's transfer and got to the airport in plenty of time. The Venice airport is very small and the lines move very slowly. Found that my same room was sold for 1/2 the price we paid 35 days prior to the sail. Leaves a bad taste. Mid ship 5th deck balconies look down on the full lifeboats. You can not see the water below; just the orange lifeboat. Will not be taking Holland America again. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
I've been on HAL before and had high expectations for this adventure. They failed miserably in several categories. First off...the food. We were part of a large group so I can tell you it was not just me personally with this ... Read More
I've been on HAL before and had high expectations for this adventure. They failed miserably in several categories. First off...the food. We were part of a large group so I can tell you it was not just me personally with this experience. In the dining room, I received over cooked meat constantly. From the duck, to the osso bucco, and even steaks. We also received items that were simply not fresh, like cheese and sushi items. HAL talks about having Celebrity Chefs do their menu, but I doubt Charlie Trotter would have been happy about the temperature of those steaks. My next gripe has to do with staffing. We never saw the captain. He didn't bother to show up for the farewell crew show at the end of the cruise. Nor did I ever run into him aboard ship. Also, it's high season and there were a ton of kids/teenagers on board (I think I heard 450). HAL should have been prepared with staff monitoring and policing the pool and common areas. They used to be very strict about this stuff. HAL did finally send out a letter half way through the cruise reminding us parents to watch our kids, but those were just idol threats. They did nothing to kick the kids from the front 2 rows of the theater. I felt sorry for the entertainers. (And keep in mind that our group was traveling with 3 kids.) Or to keep the teenagers from rough housing at the pool. The cruise director, Dave, gave a half-hearted plea to keep mind of your kids and explain that they simply have more kids this time of year. MY RESPONSE..."Well then plan ahead for it. Don't let 25 kids and obnoxious teenagers ruin a cruise for everybody else." Our cabin stewards rarely remembered to fill our ice bucket or give us fresh towels after a couple of days. We are in the Med. It's hot and nothing dries. The wine steward did something that no high end restaurant would ever do. He tried to switch champagnes on my Dad to a far inferior brand. After presenting the inferior bottle, he then told my Dad that they were out of what my Dad requested. I've waited tables before and you should return with the wine menu and ASK what to do or offer another selection as a replacement (And not one that costs $25 less.) Last gripe, they charge ridiculous prices for everything now. The photo department wanted $40 for a formal night pic and you were forced to buy an 8x10, a 5x7, and 2 wallets. We had several great pictures taken during the cruise, but you no longer get to pick a size or package. It's $40 for formal night and $20 for other. The HAL tour prices are ludicrous, especially the ROME transfer. I expect this up sale on Carnival.NOW FOR A FEW POSITIVES...the Nieuw Amsterdam is a lovely ship, although the layout is odd. The entertainers brought on board for the showroom were all fantastic...From the concert pianist, to the GRACE trio, to the wonderful comedian Scotty. And if you do go, please go up and listen to Chris Toler is the Crow's Nest. He is a rare talent with his mash-ups and not to mention, very personable. Lastly, I want to give a huge thanks to Club HAL. My son and his cousins loved their enthusiasm and activities. He rarely wanted to hang out with us. They are really great and tried to keep the kids happy with a wide array of things to do. Kudos to them. This might be my last HAL experience. I really missed the higher end touches that once made HAL my favorite cruise line. If I pay more for a cruise, I don't want to be nickel and dimed. I want more interesting food and more importantly, well cooked food. It was under average most nights. HAL didn't do theme nights where everybody dressed up. I missed having Dutch night with the fun hats and Dutch food. We talked to cruisers with more than 200 days on HAL and they too were disappointed. There used to be this air about HAL that they were the best and knew it. No more. The lack of discipline comes from the top. The staff seemed ill-equipped to deal with the simplest of problems that arose...from my problem with a bar drink, to issues around the pool area, to problems with something in the lido ding room. I hope they get their act together. This was not the HAL of old. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
We were excited about taking our first cruise on Holland America Cruise Line. Although we had heard that it was mainly for older people, we wanted to give it a try and found a very great rate for a balcony room. We were two married ... Read More
We were excited about taking our first cruise on Holland America Cruise Line. Although we had heard that it was mainly for older people, we wanted to give it a try and found a very great rate for a balcony room. We were two married couples celebrating our wedding anniversaries. Ship: Sadly to stay, Holland America's ship Nieuw Amsterdam did not meet our expectations. Compared to the ships we've been before, it is a conservative and smaller ship. Other than the NYC chandelier on the smallest atrium we have seen on a ship, it had nothing that visually could stand out or that you would remember. Food: Most of the time was under seasoned, cold and the waiting time between courses on the Manhattan dining room was more than 20 minutes. The exception was the soups, always excellent and hot! Twice in the same dinner I had to return the food because I asked for a medium steak and they kept bringing me a well done overcooked steak. They got it right the third time after all the people in my party had finished eating their food. Not even in their specialty restaurant, The Pinnacle Grill, did they have it right. I got a bloody rare filet mignon instead of the medium filet that I had ordered. They charge $25 p/p on this "beef specialty" restaurant so the least you can expect is the steak to be perfect. On this particular sailing the food on the Lido buffet was always served by the waiters. You could not cater yourself for the food. Needless to say the portions were very controlled and we even thought that they were running out of food. The Tamarind was a very nice and different restaurant! Service: Not as expected! The service at the restaurants was terrible. We were left unattended most of the time with empty water glasses, stale bread and no food for longs periods of time. The service at the SPA was terrible as well! SPA: Watch out for the scam on the Greenhouse Spa Hydro pool and serenity area. We paid $250 per couple to use the Hydro pool and the Serenity areas for a 6 day cruise. After paying for the service, they identified us as qualified users by placing a small navy blue sticker to the back of our room keys. SURPRISE! This same sticker was used for all correspondence, reminders, invitations, etc. that we received on our stateroom daily. In other words, anyone could have placed the same sticker on the back of their room card key for free! It is a very nice relaxing area but after buying the access, we found that it was highly priced compared to other Holland America sailings. Besides this, they did not have any control whatsoever on who entered the area. Even though they give you an access card to open the door to the pool, because of the Spa layout (the reception area on one side of the ship and the hydro pool, hot stone beds, sauna, etc. crossing to the other side of the ship) people got in and out as they wished and we saw this happen on various occasions. We presented a formal complaint to the Spa manager and she said that it was impossible to have somebody on a full time basis checking on this. Shows: Besides the Cantare group show and the comedian, nothing else was to stay awake for. They need to improve on entertainment! GOOD: One of the best things of the cruise was the extremely comfortable bed, ample closet and the most spacious bathroom. We even had a bathtub in our cabin! Great balcony cabin! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We are veteran cruisers with several longer cruises under our belts. We have sailed on Norwegian, Carnival, Celebrity, Disney and now, Holland America. Ship: The ship was beautiful. We had adjacent cabins on the upper verandah ... Read More
We are veteran cruisers with several longer cruises under our belts. We have sailed on Norwegian, Carnival, Celebrity, Disney and now, Holland America. Ship: The ship was beautiful. We had adjacent cabins on the upper verandah deck. The rooms were in fantastic shape and well laid out. Couldn't have been happier with the cabin. I loved the Crow's nest and Explorations Cafe!! Great coffee and service on Deck 11. Cabin steward: The cabin steward was top notch. Our room was always clean but he often forgot to leave a few items that were needed, like a replacement laundry bag after we sent out the laundry and a breakfast tag for the door. Not a big deal but a slight hassle to track someone down to get another one. Dining room: Here is where the problems start. The service in the dining room was awful. We had anytime dining and we learned that this was probably why the service was so bad. The first few nights we had a server who NEVER even smiled at us. He looked mad the entire time. This made us a bit uncomfortable. We had empty tea and water glasses most of the time and practically had to beg for tea or coffee. Not once in 15 nights did anyone in the dining room ask if we wanted refills on our coffee or tea. NOT ONCE!! We always had to remember to ask when they went whizzing by. We never saw the head waiter nor did anyone ask us if we enjoyed the meal, if everything was alright or anything. I received a card in my room to report if there was anything that they could do to help make my cruise more enjoyable and I reported my poor experiences in the dining room. The head waiter called me in my room and we talked and he made a reservation for us for the following night. I figured since I complained, they would make extra efforts to stay on top of the service. That did not happen. The service was just as bad. Our dinners in the specialty restaurants were a little better but not much. Food: I always seemed to find something to eat. Of course, that is not hard on a cruise ship. The food was good I would say overall. Room service: My teenage son must have ordered at least one cheeseburger from room service everyday and no matter how hard we tried, we could not get a plain hamburger. Out of 15 calls in 15 days, only twice did room service get the order right. We had them even repeat the order back to us to make sure they understood that it was supposed to be plain. They just kept putting mayonnaise on those burgers. Entertainment: The shows I saw were okay but nothing out of the ordinary for a cruise ship. I really loved the cruise director and went to all the trivia contests and other "smaller" fun entertainment that J.C. put on. Kids club: My daughter enjoyed the kids clubs and there were a lot of kids on the cruise. Ports: We loved Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk and Roatan, I would go on a cruise that just went to those ports. I loved the beaches at these ports. I would probably not recommend the Nieuw Amsterdam because of my experience. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
After sailing the Zuiderdam earlier in the year, we just had to try a newer version of the C Class. Liked the ship and artworks altho is was much scaled down compared to previous cruises we have taken with HAL. I thought the atrium ran ... Read More
After sailing the Zuiderdam earlier in the year, we just had to try a newer version of the C Class. Liked the ship and artworks altho is was much scaled down compared to previous cruises we have taken with HAL. I thought the atrium ran up to the Observation deck, but was mistaken. Apparently, only Royal Carib has this feature. One which we really admire. Enfin, sailed with Capt. van Zanne before on the Amsterdam. He was very cordial and approachable, something we think is very important. The Tamarind restaurant, and silk room, midship were a favorite with us. For the price, service, ambiance, you get 5 stars. Take note, only the N. Amsterdam and the Eurodam have this service. General dining was so so at best, service at times slow and the food did not live up to our expectations. Lido food, not exceptional. There was always space and staff right on the ball. I dont see the necessity for the 48 hour rule with the latex gloves to serve foods as I observed those gloves making "the rounds" regardless. Change rooms by the spa and gym are always a bonus on these ships, however, I think most people believe they come at a cost, which is not so. Crafts were a limited commodity, and should be revived on sea days. Dance classes by staff were done way to fast for enthusiastic beginners. In fact, for those dancers on board, this cruise was terrible, dance floors were very small and the music was mediocre at best. Stage productions were some of the lousiest I have seen yet, the upside was that there were always seats available. My advice, if you want some peace and quiet, never cruise over the holiday season, leave that for family time and kids. Ports of call, warm sunny, cozumel, Mahogany Bay, Cayman, Tortola, St. Maarten, San Juan, Grand Turk, and enough time to stroll around and do whatever. If you decide to take this cruise, choose a cabin on the starboard side if you like afternoon sun and sunsets. She is a new ship and nicely appointed, but check out my observations before plunking down your deposit. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2011
My wife and I joined the Nieuw Amsterdam in Venice for a Collectors Cruise, 11 days cruising the Eastern Mediterranean followed by a 17 day cruise that started in Venice and terminated in Fort Lauderdale. We had a Balcony Stateroom on the ... Read More
My wife and I joined the Nieuw Amsterdam in Venice for a Collectors Cruise, 11 days cruising the Eastern Mediterranean followed by a 17 day cruise that started in Venice and terminated in Fort Lauderdale. We had a Balcony Stateroom on the 8th level which was small but comfortable and were looked after by very friendly cabin stewards. The first thing that struck us when we boarded was the average age of the passengers, with more over 70 than under 60. At 55 I felt like one of the kids but this didn't bother us as we like things pretty quiet. The first 11 days went very smoothly with calm seas, light winds and warm days. The ports of call were of great interest to my wife and I as we don't get to see any old ruins in Australia and the excavated sites at Ephesus, Delos and Olympia were simply amazing. On the day that the first cruise ended we spent the day in Venice. The city is very interesting but spoiled by the attitude of the locals who on the most part were rude and very anti tourist, a bit strange when almost the entire city survives on tourism. When we boarded the ship for the second half of our cruise we were in for quite a shock. We went straight to the Lido Deck to have a coffee and were confronted by what looked like a school canteen after a food fight. The staff were doing their best to straighten the place up but were fighting a losing battle. While the passengers on the first half of the cruise were mostly well spoken and polite the passengers that boarded for the second half of our cruise and the Atlantic crossing seemed very different. For a start the average weight of the passengers went up by at least 50lb with many unable to fit into the very generous dining chairs. One lady came on board with her pet dog which she allowed to eat from the dining table. One "lady" stood behind me while I was eating and broke wind driving my wife and I out of the Lido, very classy. The attitude of some of the passengers to the staff was disgusting yet the staff took it in their stride. We did strike a hurricane in the Atlantic but compared to the conduct of some of the passengers it was easy to handle. Unfortunately for the second half of the cruise, 17 days, we were unable to use our balcony due to having a chain smoking cigar smoker in the cabin next to ours. We did complain to the front office but they said he was allowed to puff on his cigars for 24 hours a day and they would move us to another cabin if one became available. At least 2 cabins did become available when 2 gentlemen were sent ashore for medical reasons but we were not offered their cabins. The Captain also stated the ship was at 100 passengers below capacity so it would appear the offer to move us was not genuine. Overall we did enjoy the cruise but we will not be cruising with Holland America again until they change their smoking policy and we would never consider another relocation cruise no matter how cheap it is. From Fort Lauderdale we drove to Orlando for 4 days at Disney World where our faith in the American people was restored. In 4 days we never struck one obnoxious person, most being more polite than the average Australian. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
Our October-November 2011 cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam was our second transatlantic crossing and probably our last. The reality of a major storm on top of day after day of rough seas is sufficient to convince us that there's a good ... Read More
Our October-November 2011 cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam was our second transatlantic crossing and probably our last. The reality of a major storm on top of day after day of rough seas is sufficient to convince us that there's a good reason for the discounted pricing on these repositioning cruises. We left Venice on a beautiful, sunny day and had great weather in Dubrovnik, Corfu, Sicily, and Rome. We hired our own guides in these ports and had very good tours with plenty of time to shop and dine. I am always amazed at people who pay hugely inflated prices to go on cruise line excursions on big buses with no say in your itinerary when it is so easy to book a private tour before you leave home via the Internet or simply hire a driver at the port. We were 7 adults traveling together and were therefore able to secure a very good tour for about 25% of the HAL tour fares. Embarkation in Venice was very slow. It took 2.5 hours to get from the water taxi to our cabin. I heard that the ship had arrived late because of fog so that would explain the delays in boarding. Our aft-facing cabin was clean, spacious and tended by a wonderful steward with 14 years experience. No lunch in the main dining room was available so we ate with the mob in the Lido. Our first dinner was lovely and we secured a fine table for 7 at 8 pm every night in the anytime dining area. This arrangement worked out well as we knew our waiters and wine steward well before the 17-day cruise ended. Food was sometimes good, often only average with very good salads. Most dishes were overly salty and otherwise unremarkable. Wine was of the grocery store variety priced at roughly 4 times above what you would pay at home. We brought 6 bottles of very good wine we had purchased in Umbria and simply paid the corkage fee of $18 to drink it with dinner. Dinner was slow and leisurely; we finished by 10 pm in time for the late show. The entertainment was uneven in quality; the string quartet was the best. The big show performers were about what you would expect on a cruise line. The piano bar man was simply awful. That said, he was a good conversationalist and really schmoozed it up with the people sitting on bar stools around the piano. These folks seemed to love him. His playing was adequate; his singing was not. As he said himself the first night, "I know I suck!" The piano trio in the main lounge was hardly any better. The pianist was an older gentleman who looked like he felt awful every night. He never smiled, never made eye contact with the audience or the other musicians. They were a young drummer and a young bass player. None of these folks showed any enjoyment at all for their jobs. In 17 days I never saw them speak to each other or do anything more than phone it in. The cruise director was the youngest I have ever sailed with. He was just okay with little personality. Trivia games were bland with very little banter or laughter. Interviews with the captain and crew members in the mornings were well done and very interesting. Two lecturers gave talks each day that were so-so. Boy I wish HAL had given these guys a PowerPoint 101 class before they signed them on. The speciality restaurants were good, especially the Pinnacle Grill. The Tamarind was interesting but almost empty each time we dined there. The Silk Den across from the Tamarind was the best spot on the boat and never crowded. Service there was fine with complimentary sushi accompanying cocktails. It was a lovely place to watch the few sunsets we experienced. On the first Sunday of the cruise we attended a large Meet and Greet of CC posters. It was nice with tea and cookies and held in the Crow's Nest. But that was also the location where the travel guide on board was giving commentary on the Stromboli volcano as we sailed past. The meet and greet guests, about 250 people, of course made noise visiting and the folks there to hear about the volcano could not hear a word. Many complaints and justified ones. Why hold the two activities in the same place on such a big ship? Now to the storm. The captain warned us on Wednesday night, Nov. 2, that we were going to sail into a major storm in 24 hours. The system was so large we could not avoid it. On Thursday we stopped at Cadiz, Spain. We left early and headed into the Atlantic. We went south toward Africa to avoid the biggest waves due west, but we still sailed into a massive storm on Thursday night. As the captain explained, winds were just below hurricane level. Wow, it was something with flying objects, banging doors, rolling waves. The next morning the captain addresses the passengers in the Crow's Nest and said it was the worst storm he had experienced in his entire, long career. While he spoke, a rouge wave hit the Lido deck, toppling the entire food line on port side into the tables, breaking hundreds of dishes and the lamps across the room. Below on 2, the kitchen suffered a fallen wall cabinet, also breaking massive amounts of glassware and dishes. Cabinet doors in the bars flew open and more glasses and broken bottles across the halls. All bars, the spa, and the lido deck were closed for the day. I do think the Lido reopened for dinner. Our waiter told us at dinner that hundreds of crew members were very seasick as many had never done a transatlantic crossing or experienced that sort of storm. We missed our last stop at Madeira although we anchored offshore there to remove injured folks to a hospital. This was a small number including a passenger who had a heart attack. The storm was over by Sunday but the skies were cloudy and rainy, although warm, and the seas rough for the next 6 days. On day 7 of the after-storm trip, the sun shined, much to the joy of a thousand bored, seasick passengers. (The ship holds just over 2,000 passengers but was not full.) After disembarking in Ft. Lauderdale, we evaluated the crossing and decided our captain and crew were heroic and brave and got us through a very bad situation with few serious injuries. One passenger succumbed to a stroke, but who can say if it was storm related? But we also cancelled a crossing on another line next fall from Rome to Rio. My husband is 76 years old and decided he could not do another trip of so many sea days with the possibility of storms and the reality of not enough to keep us occupied all those days. We did walk 2 miles a day and read some great new novels on our kindles, but we do not gamble and thought the spa treatments were overpriced and full of hokum. Electric shock for cellulite removal? Oh please. The funniest cruise moment was riding the elevator with an employee of the photo shop. "I am so bored I could scream," she told me. "What is there to do on my day off on this big, boring ship?" Ditto. We will cruise again, but perhaps the South Pacific islands with no crossing next time. It was indeed the weather that spoiled this cruise. But a higher level of entertainment and better activities with more talented crew in the entertainment department would have made the experience less tedious by the last, long week. Still, huge kudos to Captain John Mercer and his crew who suffered seasickness, damage to a beautiful new ship and other unpleasantness to keep the passengers safe. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
So happy to be back on board one of HAL's ships and the newest of the fleet but very quickly disappointment took over. We were allocated our Spa Stateroom which we felt was more like a Best Western Hotel room with a view/balcony. The ... Read More
So happy to be back on board one of HAL's ships and the newest of the fleet but very quickly disappointment took over. We were allocated our Spa Stateroom which we felt was more like a Best Western Hotel room with a view/balcony. The decor was drab with the most hideous lighting which you could not make intimate or cosy and the carpet was dreadful. It was brown and dirty. The lack of outside seating areas on this ship was our biggest gripe. You could either sleep with your neighbour on one of the loungers by the pool (you can not put your hand between each one!) - or take a lounger to and upper deck and sit by the one of extractor fans. There are not many people in these areas not surprising as you have to shout to be heard, that is if you have not been overcome by the heat expelled from them. I would also add that the pools are small. This ship is designed and built for cold climates - without a doubt. Alaska or Antartica, somewhere you do not spend much time outdoors - or sitting around. In the Med where you want to be outside, you are crammed into small spaces. The cabanas took up valuable space and during 12 nights we only noticed 2 being used on a couple of occasions. In addition there was a basketball type of area which was used of an evening by the crew and whilst they do need their own space, more could have been made of it. A big thing was made about the friendliness of the crew - really??? Over a 12 day period, we were elbowed by crew as we were getting on coaches - on more than one occasion, snubbed by staff outside of the cabin/formal dining room and had a door flung open in our face with no apology whatsoever. If it had been a one off I would not have made a comment but it was constant - everyday. Our last evening in the Silk Den with friends, the bar tender (Boosie - quite apt for a barman) who on a previous occasion had introduced himself and seemed quite jolly (although more like someone out of James Bond - and not a goody!) was ignorant, hostile and blatantly ignored me - even when I asked him if he was alright, he stared into space and nothing. I wanted to report him to the front desk but decided against it but how I wish I had. Laundry - oh yes, we had 4 t.shirts cleaned and pressed? Pressed - they came back wrecked. I had to throw one away, another had a whole in the sleeve, the next had a pull and the 4th one had a pink colour running through it when it was beige! They were also creased. Total waste of money. Overall, our experience was nice. We rose above the Best Western cabin, the moody staff and bathed our bruises from being elbowed by the crew but we would not use this ship again and perhaps would revert to one of the other cruise companies we have used in favour of HAL. Try it for yourself, you might have a better experience. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
Having been with Celebrity twice and Royal Caribbean I chose a 7 day cruise with Holland America having been told of their five star standards we didn't  particularly get off to a good start as we had an overnight at Barcelona and ... Read More
Having been with Celebrity twice and Royal Caribbean I chose a 7 day cruise with Holland America having been told of their five star standards we didn't  particularly get off to a good start as we had an overnight at Barcelona and was left waiting for our shuttle bus (Aero City Shuttle) which was not only late but uncomfortably hot (air-con not working) not any fault of HAL as we booked as a package with a Internet Travel company anyway we finally got on the Nieuw Amsterdam around 1 pm on Sunday I Will have to say a very nice ship we had an inside cabin which was nice and spacey it has 2 pools 1 for adults very well laid out plenty of Sun loungers The main Restaurant The Manhattan has two floors we had the as you like dining option - I will warn you i read a review on here which was a lot of help it gets very crowded around 8 pm and you could be waiting for a table for up to 45 mins we booked in most nights around 7 which was ok and we dined with different people which was nice no complaints there the food was excellent as I had read and the service was ok as well which leads me to the title No Wow factor the entertainment was very average Cantare a four man (opera -Il Divo style) was average to say the least and appeared in 3 of the other shows I watched is that all they had ? As for the other show it was embarrassing didn't stay for the last night singer so cant pass an opinion The other Bars seemed dead after 11 pm the best group on the ship (Neptune Lounge) packed up at 11.30 and Rachel and the Hal cats the less said the better also the Casino was small only 1 Roulette wheel which was crowded with 6 people round it and very little activities during the day going on the Cruise Director Jon has got an easy life !! cant fault the Stateroom attendant or the cleanliness of the Ship just cant find a reason to go back to HAL after going on the Eclipse (Celebrity) . Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
My wife and I were on the July 15 sailing from Barcelona. The pick up from the airport was normal with no issues. After that it was up and down. As stated in other reviews the serving size in the buffet was small, however the staff freely ... Read More
My wife and I were on the July 15 sailing from Barcelona. The pick up from the airport was normal with no issues. After that it was up and down. As stated in other reviews the serving size in the buffet was small, however the staff freely added more when requested. In fact there was one young lady at breakfast that just put extra on after the first couple of days of seeing me. I was extremely disappointed with table service in the buffet. I have never been on a cruise where the staff had to be told to pick up used plates. It appears that management was more concerned with selling bottled water than keeping tables clean and available. Service in the main dining room was spotty as best. We had open seating and only had one waiter that performed as expected. We had to ask for refills on ice tea and water. I had a steak on surf & turf night that they got right, but they never got the steak right on the three nights my wife ordered. What they did to fish can't even be described. Other ship have venues where food is available 24/7 with out having to call room service. I was surprised that there was no available food service during all the daylight hours. Service in the dining areas can be easily improved with better training and raising expectations. Hopefully they really read the on-board reviews from the passengers. Our cabin steward was excellent, we gave him a little extra at the end of the trip. The transfer to the Venice airport was relatively smooth I felt ripped off by the price when I saw how close it was. No tips to the driver at those prices. The ship it self was nicely laid out and my wife really liked the decor. Will I sail Holland again? Not sure. I will absolutely pay closer attention to passenger reviews. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
My husband and I chose the HAL based on researching reviews and talking to many "cruisers". We are past the age of rock climbing or hitting the water slides so we chose a traditional cruise, leaving the families having to amuse ... Read More
My husband and I chose the HAL based on researching reviews and talking to many "cruisers". We are past the age of rock climbing or hitting the water slides so we chose a traditional cruise, leaving the families having to amuse children to the mega ships. We were celebrating our 30th anniversary and were very excited to do so on a 12-day cruise. The cruisers told us that 1) once we were on board we would be sorry not to have booked a longer cruise, (That was not the case), 2)the food would be phenomenal (I am now questioning what people consider an acceptable standard) and 3) there would be so much to do on board ship that we would be spoiled for choice (found just the opposite). To start, I will cover the good points: 1. The ship was lovely. Everything sparkled as it should. 2. The cabin had ample space for our luggage and the beds were very comfortable. We slept well every night. 3. The staff were efficient and were at beck and call. 4. The mineral pools and thermal beds were wonderful. What I found to be a great disappointment: 1. Food: We expected our dining experience to be above standard. Instead, we found the food in the MDR mediocre. We felt like we were back in the 70's with french onion soup and escargot. Non existent vegetables. We also booked the Pinnacle room for 3 nights and ended up cancelling the third night. The steaks were full of grizzle and when we mentioned this to our server, his response was "Yes, that cut of meat usually has a lot of grizzle". The second meal wasn't any better. We also booked the Pinnacle for ambiance. Unfortunately, while eating our meals we listened to not only the piped in music but also the piano bar and another performer (located elsewhere on the ship). It was most annoying. Also, please note: The MDR is open for breakfast and lunch. We did not realize this and ate on the LIDO deck during the day. (Mostly deep fried, ho-hum food). We didn't see any mega buffets as you see on cruise ads. Maybe they were offered in the MDR during the day. 2. Entertainment: The organization of entertainment was not the best. Many performers overlapped in time slots. As a result, we didn't see them (i.e. we were slotted for 8 PM dining). The evening show did not appeal to us but couldn't find much else to do. The lounges were fairly empty. 3. Daytime activities: If you chose not to go on a tour and therefore were not off the ship for the full day, there wasn't much to do on board. The casinos are closed in port, the shops are also closed. Most lounges were shut down. I really had a hard time, sitting and reading a book on the cruise ship. We travelled a great distance and spent a fair dollar to have this experience. I just felt that if I wanted to read a book I could have stayed home and saved a lot of money. We attended a cooking class one day and they showed us how to make balaclava. (Not a good this for diabetics! LOL). Again, only a handful of ladies attended. 4. Ports: As with most cruises, there are 2 or 3 major cities worth seeing. The rest start to blend together. Unfortunately, the major cities are inland, resulting in having to sit on a bus for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, whizzing about for an hour or two, then sitting back on a bus for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours. We didn't think this was worth the price being charged. After 12 days, it adds up. In summary, I would have to say cruising was not for me. If you are considering a cruise for the first time, I would suggest you not get swayed by what others say. Ask yourself how you like to spend your vacation time and if cruising would suit you. Many people love it! Mind you, in recent years when I ask a person back from their cruise how was it. I am hearing more of ít was OK and less of ít was fabulous!!!)....makes you wonder??!! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
Perhaps I was unable to do enough research and should have had different expectations, but this cruise was disappointing in some aspects. The ship is beautiful, tasteful. Our stateroom had a nice balcony but I do not consider it spacious ... Read More
Perhaps I was unable to do enough research and should have had different expectations, but this cruise was disappointing in some aspects. The ship is beautiful, tasteful. Our stateroom had a nice balcony but I do not consider it spacious for a cruise ship, and it seemed about the same size as most other outside rooms we walked past while doors were open, even on deck 1, so except for shower gel and shampoo in the bath and 2 bathroobes to use, and of course the balcony, I am not sure what I was paying for. There was a terrible shudder vibration quite frequently in the room which was uncomfortable, rather like sitting on a washer spinning a load out of balance. This waas not rough seas or waves, this was a continual regular, mechanical issue of some kind. Also, though I had online chat with an agent before booking to confirm internet access, there was no mention at that time or any information at all on the web site that explained that besides the one-time connection fee, internet service is buy subscritpiton only and the cheapest rate was $100.00 for 250 minutes! REALLY? And the signal in our room was bad, so when I tried to connect I was frequently disconnected and when I complained to the tech guy onboard about having wasted minutes having to resend email that did not send when the connection was lost he told me that I had to go to a central public space and offered no refund of my minutes used.Food on the Lido buffet was reat most of the time, and unlike a prefvious cruise the fruit and salads were fresh each day and did not diminish in quality or selection. We enjoyed the freedom of dining on the Lido deck and only went to our assigned seating once. We found the menu for the Lido entrees and the dining room was the same so we chose not to get dressed up and ate at our leisure.Smoke was a big issue for us, there is smoking in the casino and some of the bars on that deck, and it was very nasty to us and made it impossible to enjoy one of the nightclubs we really waanted to dance in. I heard other paassengers complain of smoking on the balcony next to theirs that prevented them from being on their balcony but this did not happen to us or I would have been seeking some kind of refund!Disembarkation at port seemed disporganized the frist couple of stops, and the wait for tenders into our first port was nearly three hours long, which is totally ridiculous. We had not booked a ship tour for that stop and those on the ships tours had first priority leaving the ship, leaving those of us wanting to exploreon our own loose 3 hours of shore time! We were also 90 minuutes late docking at the second port, though they claimed that it was the port authority preventing us from heading into the dock.We had a horrible experience on another cruise line many years ago and this was our frist cruise since then. It is a great way to visit so many places but I was disappointed at the amount of extras that are not included on the ship. I was particularly put off when, on our first walk around the ship on embarkation, we walked into the gorgeous spa area only to be told it would cost $300 - per person- to use the spa tubs. Made us feel second class from the beginning. After two days they did get all of the pools and pool deck hot tubs open for everyone to use for free.I was impressed at their attempts to keep everyone healthy, with hand sanitizer stations at the entry to all eating areas and also at the gangway when returning to the ship from shore. All of the staff was fantanstic wiht their cheerful attitudes and wonderful service. We regretted taking one bus tour, the one in Istanbul, since we wasted a LOT of time in traffic on narrow streets with the bus not able to make it down the streets, especially since we could have walked most of the distances between the historic sites we visited.We arranged for independent private guides at 2 locations and would highly recommend this, it is much more efficient, you can maneuver traffice better, adjust your schedule to your whim and it is even cheaper than thee bus tours from the ship. That said, we had a wonderful "Kebab Experience" excursion arranged by the ship in Istanbul.There is also no wa to check your onboard account without going to the front desk for a printout.I hope this is helpful. Some of my frustration is probably my fault. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2010
Began a 50th birthday cruise with family and friends (party of 10 with 5 balcony cabins on the Rotterdam Deck) on the Inaugural Caribbean voyage of the Nieuw Amsterdam during the week of November 7-14th 2010 with a delayed embarkation and ... Read More
Began a 50th birthday cruise with family and friends (party of 10 with 5 balcony cabins on the Rotterdam Deck) on the Inaugural Caribbean voyage of the Nieuw Amsterdam during the week of November 7-14th 2010 with a delayed embarkation and departure from Fort Lauderdale due to Holland America's need to perform a CDC sanctioned sanitation and deep cleaning of the ship following an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness on the just completed transatlantic crossing. I chose this particular ship as it was christened last July and felt the freshness and "newness" of the ship along with HAL's Signature of Excellence Service would produce a very good cruise experience. In many ways my expectations were realized but it too many instances the experience was not up to expectations. The Rotterdam deck was the last deck of cabins to be opened to passengers. Upon entering our cabins I was a little surprised to see the stewards were still cleaning a couple of our rooms. The cabins did not compare quite as favorably as the Celebrity Solstice's Aqua Class Spa Cabins as the Nieuw Amsterdam's cabins appeared a little dingy, I believe due to the poor quality carpet and couch. There was also trash left between the wall and nightstand in our friend's cabin immediately adjacent to our cabin. While the bedding, closet space, mattress,deck furniture and bathroom were actually superior to Solstice the very poor quality cabin furniture and carpeting ruined the the initial impression of the space. I do not understand why HAL chose such poor quality furniture and carpeting for this level of stateroom. The two seater couch was a brown /green microfiber covered piece of junk that HAL should be ashamed of. The armrests, which wobbled back and forth, felt as though the were made of cardboard and the cushion was constantly sliding out of position. The carpet was of equally poor quality to the touch and sight. Speaking of carpet, it needs to be mentioned that the carpet used in the elevator lobbies on each deck was a hideous light brown that looked as if it had been stained with bleach and appeared to be years old instead of 4 months. Again, HAL should have been embarrassed to maintain the ships high traffic areas in this condition. The cabin stewards were very friendly and appeared to work hard but I was surprised to learn that these stewards were responsible for 30 cabins a day. With such demands put on them by HAL there is no way they can deliver the Signature of Excellence that HAL promotes. These excessive demands along with the long day the crew had in sanitizing the ship before our embarkation was a recipe for poor service. Although tipped extra during the first night and asked to keep ice buckets full both night and day the stewards were unable to perform. Cabins were typically not cleaned before 3:00 PM during the first half of the cruise, and on four different days I had to go up to the Crow's Nest for Ice. The first night of the cruise I had called room service and asked if we could have a bucket of ice as the steward had failed to provide. I was told to call another number and when I called they said it would take 45 minutes because there were only two crew available for such service. Does that sound like Signature of Excellence Service? Also, during one night our friends traveling with us could not open their safe as it had malfunctioned (apparent loss of battery power). When HAL was contacted our friends were asked if they could wait until the end of the cruise. When that question was met with an incredulous NO they were then asked if they could wait until after dinner. Finally, HAL agreed to come in 30 minutes. Just one more example of Signature of Excellence Service. Overall service on the ship ranged from the Spectacular to subpar. While the cabin stewards did not meet expectations (likely due to the fact that HAL gives them way to many cabins to clean for a so-called Premium Cruise Line)the stewards that saw to all of our needs in the Retreat Cabanas were fantastic. Jonathan and Anrel, along with the Retreat Cabana area itself, basically made this voyage for our group. In addition, the Assistant Food and Beverage Manager went out of his way to make sure that the four cabanas that our group of 10 had rented were assigned contiguously and he would check on us daily. If anyone is contemplating renting these cabanas (the retreat cabanas on the Observation Deck, not the Lido Cabanas on the Lido Pool Deck)DO It! You will not be sorry. Service in the Specialty restaurants of Pinnacle Grill and Tamarind was First Class, although Tamarind has to improve upon bringing everyone's meal simultaneously. The quality of food in these specialty restaurants was great. The quality of the food in the MDR (Manhattan) was poor as was the service. Meat was not cooked to order, one meal was brought out well after everyone else had been served and Alaskan King Crab legs tasted as though they had been boiled in salt water. The menu selections at the MDR were also subpar.On the first night our party of 10 was split in two even though there were several places they could have put us together including a table for 10 which remained empty all night. The MDR Maitre'd's seemed overwhelmed and generally incompetent. Stick to the fine dining in the Specialty Restaurants or eat at the Lido Buffet which I considered better than average and much better than the buffets on the Solstice class ships. For all of you tea lovers, this is not the ship to have tea. We went to the Dutch High Tea and a regular Tea, both in the MDR and both were complete disasters. During the first tea everyone was served after sitting down but the process for serving tables was a mess. Many tables, including ours, had to watch waiter after waiter walk by with trays of finger sandwiches and sweets without stopping to serve. For the Dutch High Tea everyone waited in a serving line in the MDR for items that were not that exciting. There was one hot dish served that looked like Chicken-ala-King and looked particularly nasty. Also hot water is brought in half -filled metal pots instead of fine china pots and the quality of teas used could not have been worse. The only Earl Grey Tea that was caffeinated was LIPTON. This was on the entire ship, not just at the Teas. For some reason HAL has decided to carry 80% of their tea selection as decaffeinated. This is no exaggeration. All of the good Bigelow Teas were decaffeinated. The only choice for regular black tea was one English Breakfast brand and the Lipton Earl Grey. The Caneletto Restaurant incorporated into the LIDO Buffet had good food but the reservation process for this was a disaster. When we called to make reservations for 10 we were told we had to go see the Maitre'D. When we went to see him he told us to call reservations. When we expressed our displeasure with this foolishness he got on a phone and secured us a table for 10 that consisted of several tables at the starboard forward end of the restaurant that could be grouped together. When we showed up at 8:30 the table was occupied. The Maitre' D said that tables could not be guaranteed and that we would have to be split up. He also said that the group at the tables we thought we had reserved at been there a while (since 7:00) and were just taking too long. This was an apparent lie as they were just being brought their salads as we sat down. In addition, one person in our party was a vegetarian. The vegetarian options were limited and we found that the Minestrone soup contained bacon! Service in the LIDO Buffet was always very good, even when the ship was still under Code Red from the previous cruise for the first 72 hours of our cruise. Bar service was equally as good. Now for the Spa. When we boarded we were told that the Thermal Suite area and the Hydrotherapy pool were to be closed until we got to Puerto Rico on Wednesday. We asked if this had to do with Code Red and were told it had nothing to do with sanitation issues, although this was apparently not the truth. HAL offered us a $100 per couple package for use of the pool and thermal suites beginning on Wednesday (cruise left Sunday)which we thought was a good deal so the 5 couples purchased the package. Come Wednesday night the pool and Thermal Suites were still closed. We were told they would open on Thursday which they did. We called the Spa to see if we could get a partial refund since it had not opened when promised. We were told that all 5 cabins would get a partial refund. The spa itself was very nice and was superior to the Spa on Solstice Class. When I checked on the 2nd to last night of the cruise only two of our 5 cabins had been given a credit. My cabin had not been credited. When I went down to the Front Office I was told that they had to check with the Spa Manager before we could get credit. I said I would check back tomorrow. The next night still no credit so I asked the crew person behind the Front Office Desk and was told again they had to check with the Spa Manager before giving the credit. Apparently HAL had no intentions of crediting me and three other cabins in our group unless we made an issue of it. After 10 minutes of pushing them to take care of the credit then and there they finally agreed to credit $25 after the Front Desk Manager made some calls. This is clearly not Signature of Excellence Service. If I had not gone back to check the next night they would not have made the credit even though they had verbally said they would previously. When I thanked the Front Desk person for addressing this issue she gave me nasty look. We only did one shore excursion (a Segway tour of Old San Juan)which was excellent. This tour was not affiliated with HAL as the tour company is not unionized and HAL (Carnival) will thus not use them. We found this company , (which is right on the San Juan Piers)through Celebrity as they are a Celebrity sponsored excursion. Other members of our group had excursions cancelled at Grand Turk (Scuba) and Half Moon Cay (snorkeling) due to sea conditions. We saw one song and dance show,and the Barnaby Experience show. Both were a waste of time, especially Barnaby. The guy cannot even juggle. We did see a comedian, who was excellent. The entertainment is generally subpar. Other than the nightclub, most of the music played in the lounges was dated (mostly pre-1970's). Although we spent little to no time at the pools, our cabanas overlooked the Lido pool which has a retractable roof. The crew seemed to open and close the roof frequently, sometimes due to rain, but other times for no apparent reason. When in the open position, the sections seemed to bang around as the ship moved indicating a possible design flaw. The ship also did not appear to handle that smoothly in rough seas. Either these were some of the roughest Bahamas seas in history or the ship's stabilizers were just not up to the challenge. Though most cruises play either recorded music or have a live band at the pool, we heard nothing. With a caribbean cruise one would expect to hear some nice island music, but the lack thereof left us less in the cruise mood. There was some music piped in at the aft Sea View Pool. One day everyone at the Sea View Pool was disrupted when a ship generator was started and black soot rained down on everyone and their drinks. At least the generator did not catch fire. In Summary the tale of two different ship experiences on the Nieuw Amsterdam is a function in part of the crew exhibiting exemplary service (Retreat Cabana area, specialty restaurants) while other areas (cabin stewards, room service front office personnel) did not exhibit even marginally acceptable service. HAL does not even come close to matching the consistent good service we experienced on Solstice Class and has a long way to go to meet their own Signature of Excellence standards. To start,. HAL needs to reduce the number of cabins their stewards must service, correct the nickel and dime culture that exists, and have enough staff on board to meet customer needs. I should never have to spend any significant time trying to get a partial credit for spa service I bought that was not delivered. Trying to get a measly $25 credit was like pulling teeth. I should not even have had to ask for a credit when the Spa was not opened on Wednesday as promised. In addition, telling paying customers to wait for 45 minutes for ice at midnight because there are only two crew members available on a 2100 passenger ship owned by a Premium cruise line is not acceptable. The ship itself is beautiful, particularly the public rooms, restaurants and bars as they are more nautical in design than say the Solstice class. The cabin, while providing an extremely comfortable mattress and balcony furniture and excellent bathroom facility, did not live up to what was expected for a brand new ship given the poor quality carpeting and furniture. The cabin deck corridors also seemed dingy when compared to Solstice Class, but public room deck areas were well lit and attractive, except for elevator lobby carpeting which looked completely worn out. Bottom line- if you want to cruise HAL- pick an Itinerary that you like with limited sea days where you will be off the ship each day or rent a Retreat Cabana (which really is First Class and an absolute Home Run for HAL both from a service and value standpoint) and eat in the Pinnacle Grill or Tamarind each night. Do not eat lunch at either specialty restaurant. Besides the balcony you do not want to spend much time in the dingy cabins. Spend your evenings in the beautiful public rooms, especially Explorer's Bar, Pinnacle Bar, Ocean Bar and Crow's Nest. The Explorations Cafe is also the only good coffee on board and it is still not up to Starbucks standards. It pales in comparison to the coffee/dessert bar on Solstice class. Skip the internet there. It is a rip off. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2010
This was my fourth Holland-America cruise among 14 overall cruises in the past 10 years.  In the past, my experiences were generally favorable. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the 'Nieuw Amsterdam'. The embarkation ... Read More
This was my fourth Holland-America cruise among 14 overall cruises in the past 10 years.  In the past, my experiences were generally favorable. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the 'Nieuw Amsterdam'. The embarkation turned disastrous, although it appears through no fault of Holland-America. The ship had arrived in the morning from Europe, during which time a number of passengers developed gastrointestinal virus. Therefore the ship needed to be cleaned and inspected by the Coast Guard, delaying boarding by several hours. The first two nights we ran into some rough seas and wet weather, which didn't help to raise any one's spirits. Food was served by the crew in the Lido for the first few days. A good thing.  As for the ship itself, I have been on 3 HAL Vista class ships previously, and despite the hype for the brand new "Nieuw Amsterdam', it was just more of the same basically. I don't know what it is about the design of these ships, but none of them seem to handle rough seas very well. I have been on many other cruise lines, and their ships never seemed to rock quite as much. The interior design of the ship was nice overall, easy to maneuver if you're familiar with other Vista class ships. As for the trumped-up hype for the New York City theme, there was little to make such a impression. A crystal chandelier in the main atrium depicts famous NYC buildings. Throughout the corridors leading to staterooms, there are numerous vintage black and white framed photos of older HAL ships, though not high quality reproductions. They looked more as if they were mass produced on low quality paper and randomly scattered. That was it for the NYC atmosphere. The Manhattan dining room had no feel of the Big Apple, just a lot of red paint, reminiscent of a Chinese restaurant. I have to admit that the service of the wait staff, and the front desk personnel, was always friendly and professional. The quality of the food overall was good, however the As-You-Wish seating left a lot to be desired when it came to serving food in a timely manner. This needs to be improved greatly. Lastly, the entertainment, even for HAL standards, was mediocre at best. The production numbers were extremely dated and uninspired. The shows were way over amplified to the point it was not enjoyable. The only show that had any sense of originality or warmth was the HAL veteran Barnaby, a juggler who blends juggling skills with humor and personal stories. The Cruise Director Shane, had all the enthusiasm and excitement of a stone. When your passengers average age is 60 and over, it would be nice to have a Cruise Director with some life and vitality. In closing, I had high anticipation for this cruise, but in the end found it average at best. I wouldn't say it killed my desire to ever cruise again, but it will be a while before I board another cruise ship. And it definitely won't be with Holland-America. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2010
Disappointing might possibly be generous. We love HAL and have had only great experiences with the cruise line. This time however we may have taken a closer look at the cruise and ship and found that many things were wanting. HAL was only ... Read More
Disappointing might possibly be generous. We love HAL and have had only great experiences with the cruise line. This time however we may have taken a closer look at the cruise and ship and found that many things were wanting. HAL was only the 2nd cruise line we sailed on. Now that we have cruised on several others we became aware of , what we considered design flaws or someone did think it mattered things. In the Lido for example. The only way to know what was being offered was to walk completely around, sometimes more than once. Some items were only offered on one side and not the other. If you wanted a salad and a sandwich it was sometimes necessary to go to both sides of the buffet to get these items. They should have considered making the actual buffet into an efficient alcove area rather than jamming passengers trying to get something to eat and passengers transiting to and from the pool areas into a narrow walkway. The width of which is made even more confining by adding a dozen small tables outside of the normal dining area. Meals in the main dining room were no better than average and the selections far below those offered on other lines. HAL needs to get creative with their menus, it's not 1930 anymore. Our stateroom which was one of their deluxe suites did not even have a curtain to divide the sleeping area from the sitting area. I guess that's common on HAL ships but someone might have thought that small item would be important for additional privacy. The new ship's TV we had was nothing more than a disgrace. The cheapest remote, which never properly worked, we have ever seen. We have been led to believe that this will be the last HAL ship to be built for sometime. Hopefully, if they do build another they will enlist comments from real passengers and get some design ideas that would be practical and beneficial. Couldn't say anything but great to describe the crew and staff it really is the high point of the cruise line, probably the best we have had on any other. It's really a shame that the new ship didn't live up to our expectations Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
My husband and I cruise frequently and are the highest tier on Celebrity and Princess. We had a great experience on the Zuiderdam a few years ago; we thought a new Holland America ship would be fun. We were wrong. I believe Holland America ... Read More
My husband and I cruise frequently and are the highest tier on Celebrity and Princess. We had a great experience on the Zuiderdam a few years ago; we thought a new Holland America ship would be fun. We were wrong. I believe Holland America has cut every corner imaginable in building there new ships. Everything has a glossy appearance (the ship is new) but the years will not treat her well. My husband, who is in a wheelchair, and I booked a 13-Day Celebrity cruise and followed it with a 30-day Transatlantic cruise on the brand new Nieuw Amsterdam. We assumed (our fault) that a new ship would not have so many issues with handicapped passengers. His electric wheelchair had broken in the airport in Rome, but we were told that would not be an issue in Venice. It was. The shore person at the hotel assured us that someone would meet us at the pier for embarkation and help with the wheelchair. When we arrived by water taxi (which works fine for mobility impaired people) we waited for over 45 minutes for assistance - this is in the hot sun with no cover. The ship's representative was also frustrated and told us she'd been calling the ship all morning and was getting no help. I walked to the embarkation area and was told they simply had no staff to help. Embarkation went well - I think they realized I was more than a little irritated. We went to the Guest Relations, staffed by people whose primary job is to say, "no, can't be done, absolutely not." We rented a manual wheelchair for $425 for the 30 days and were told there was no way to get an electric scooter. Of course, that was inaccurate. After several emails to our travel agent in the States (when the internet worked), we were finally able to pick one up in Barcelona. When we then asked for a refund on the manual chair, they said it would still cost $320 because the rental is for 1-10 days and 11 - 30 days. Of course, the first leg of the cruise was 12 days. We then went to our stateroom. Do not book 4051 if you are in a wheelchair. In fact, guest relations is well acquainted with that room and ensured us the ADA attorney had measured the room. That should tell you something. Using a manual wheelchair, you cannot move the chair between the bed and the wall because there is not room for your hands to manipulate the chair. There is nowhere to sit but in your chair. When I was drying my hair, my husband had to sit on the other side of the bed and watch TV in the mirror - the TV is wall mounted and doesn't move. I've never seen such a cheap remote. If I then wanted to use the bathroom, he had to move the scooter for me to get into the bathroom. The entrance to the veranda is uphill - a steep incline and it's impossible for someone in a wheelchair to roll up the incline and then open the door. No sliding glass doors here; they open like a regular door going outwards to the veranda. There was a small table and two chairs in the room but because of the incline, the chair teetered. I had them remove the table and chairs to provide space for the wheelchair to turn around. Then there was the closet, Apparently handicapped people don't wear long clothes. The rod on the left side was not high enough for golf shirts to hand without crumpling on the floor. The right side had the same issue because clothes fell on top of the safe. I solved that by having them bring me a rolling clothes rack which then sat on either side of the hump by the veranda. On our first roll about of the ship, we encountered three randomly placed thresholds that you cannot roll over in a wheelchair. There is no reason for that but shoddy engineering. Beware - if you don't know they're there, the wheelchair passenger is nearly jolted out of the chair. You have to stop, turn around and back over them. There are a number of wheelchair accessible restrooms about the ship. Unfortunately, the automatic doors close so slowly that it was not uncommon to see men relieving themselves before the door would close. Eating at the Lido Restaurant is an exercise in patience. The food on either side of the serving area is not always the same. Lines form everywhere and navigating in a wheelchair is hazardous. So is trying to find a table as the walkways are narrow because they've placed tables-for-two along what should have been a walkway. Passengers who rave about the food haven't been on many other cruise lines. Ah yes. Then there's the issue with the pools. They are totally non-accessible. In fact, they had to go out of their way to design a more unfriendly pool. This is unfortunate because that's my husband's primary means of exercise. The Celebrity Solstice class ships have lifts and easy entry pools. To their credit, one of the front desk managers (when we got past the nay-sayers) then gave us a pass to the hydrotherapy pool, which worked until they drained it because of the GI problems running rampant around the ship - 12 days of Code Red. When there are so many ships that accommodate wheelchair passengers, don't spend your money on the Nieuw Amsterdam. We're staying with Celebrity and Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
We arrived in Barcelona 3 days earlier as we like to have the opportunity to get a more in-depth perspective of our port of embarkation and to give us the adequate time to rest up prior to the cruise. We stayed in the ME Barcelona a Melia ... Read More
We arrived in Barcelona 3 days earlier as we like to have the opportunity to get a more in-depth perspective of our port of embarkation and to give us the adequate time to rest up prior to the cruise. We stayed in the ME Barcelona a Melia 5* property located in the financial district. I cannot say enough about the staff, service & food quality. I highly recommend signing up for the chain's loyalty card program-the MAS card that gives you a 50% discount on meals. Barcelona has apparently been really cleaned up in the past 5-10 years according to both the locals & the tourist bureau. We purchased the 2-day Hop on/Hop off tourist bus pass which really is value for the money. Barcelona is a really easy city to get around in with an excellent transportation system. Some people have commented about the petty crime that is prevalent within the city, however as with any major city worldwide this is a common issue where a large foreign tourist base visits this city,common sense should prevail. We saw more than one American couple strolling Las Ramblas sporting Rolex and Prada products in clear view - Hello pick pockets! We had no issues so enough said, now for the cruise. My wife & I are first time cruisers with HAL however we are top tier members of HAL's main stream competitors Celebrity and Princess, so we can say with some qualification what is good and what is bad, what is acceptable and what crosses the line into the not accceptable. The boarding process went very smoothly in Barcelona & we were on the ship and checking it out by 12:30PM. She is quite and attractive ship which I would categorize as "understated elegance". With the exception of the cheap & downright ugly carpeting in the stairwells & elevator entranceways, the ship creates a positive first impression. Our stateroom was ready about one hour after boarding and I must give full marks on the positive side for the quality of beds that HAL has chosen for this ship & the user friendly bathroom layout. The first night on board was somewhat rocky even though we were mid-ship on Rotterdam deck and was without incident but night # 2 was when "the problem" began. At approximately 1:30AM a loud & I mean LOUD (think sledgehammer on steel pipe loud)banging noise started in the wall behind the bed headboard. A quick call to Guest Relations did produce a quick response within minutes when a supervisor showed up to confirm that yes indeed it was a very loud noise but that nothing could be done until the next morning (sleepless night #1). The next day I went to GR to follow up on the issue and was informed that the day supervisor was aware of the problem and it would be "rectified immediately". That night "the problem" started again at about 1:00AM & continued until approximately 7:00AM (sleepless night # 2). The problem now is unacceptable & I asked to meet with the day manager the next morning. She indicated that "the problem" was forwarded to the chief of technical services who stated that one of the main water feeder lines for the pools/ hot tubs passed through the wall behind our stateroom and an airlock was somehow developing but they hoped to correct "the problem" that day. Night # 3 was the same and I once again went to see the day manager about being moved to another stateroom. She indicated that we couldn't be relocated as no stateroom in our category was presently vacant but we were told that the aft pool/hot tubs were going to be drained to possibly help with resolving "the problem" and we were issued with ear plugs (can you believe it!). My wife & I had spent in excess of $2300 on HAL sponsored shore excursions in each port & we were dead beat after 2 nights without sleep. To add insult to injury when I asked to cancel our shore excursions because of lack of sleep,I was told a 10% penalty would be incurred (Signature of Excellence??). At that point I filed a formal complaint which I asked to be faxed off to head office in Seattle and after a total of 5 sleepless nights we were moved to a stateroom without further incident. I was so miffed after being told by the day manager that it was "unfortunate that we were used as test rabbits" that at I felt we should be financially compensated for the ordeal. A shipboard credit of $250 was finally posted to our stateroom account the last night of the cruise-too little too late in consideration of experience we were put through!(Signature of Excellence??) On a happier note, we found the food in the Manhattan Dining room good to very good with only a couple slow deliveries and wrong orders on the service side which were quickly rectified. We had lunch in the Tamarind on two occasions and both times food & service were excellent. On three occasions we had dinner at Canaletto & once again food & service were excellent. On the entertainment side HAL has a way to go in be in line with their competition. Although a beautiful theatre and we attended all the shows, half were mediocre but the main all-cast stage shows were very good. A point to note, there is a design layout defect in the theatre in that several supporting pillars on each side gives you only an obstructed view of the stage so watch out of these. My wife & I were among the 200+ who were struck with the GI problem with the resulting 12 day code red - not a pleasant experience. Grounded to our stateroom we had to rely on room service to get some type of nourishment and the delay of the dinner order on the first night of quarantine was over two hours for delivery and non-existent for dirty dishware pickup(Signature of Excellence??). Although we had some very positive experiences in regards to the shore excursions, meeting fellow shipmates and the overall very congenially & hardworking room stewards, our experience with the lack of access to the shipboard facilities and the protocol that was used to disinfect our stateroom wherein we had to remain in the stateroom while it was sprayed/gassed was most unpleasant. I have tried not to be over critical of this cruise but Hal has been working on it's "Signature of Excellence" standards for +/-150 years, unfortunately I don't think they are presently at a standard were I would hurry back to rebook my next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
Our HAL Nieuw Amsterdam trip was a huge disappointment. The food was excellent. Our dining room and cabin stewards were both excellent. Having said that, the dining room was so noisy one couldn't hear ones tablemates. The cabin's ... Read More
Our HAL Nieuw Amsterdam trip was a huge disappointment. The food was excellent. Our dining room and cabin stewards were both excellent. Having said that, the dining room was so noisy one couldn't hear ones tablemates. The cabin's air conditioner blew cold all day whether one had it set higher or not but, at night, it turned off and one would be wake up perspiring. The TV did not have a connection for ear phones which was surprising. The Lido restaurant was so disorganized that we gave up on it. For example, we were seated on the Port side of the ship for breakfast. I ordered a poached egg and was told I had to go to the starboard side as they didn't serve poached eggs on the port side where my husband ordered his breakfast. I couldn't believe it!! This is just one example of many that we encountered. The entertainment variety left a lot to be desired. There was no excitement on the ship and being on the ship for two legs, we expected the cruise director to have a larger repertoire of stories (jokes) instead of the same ones. There were no pool activities. Port info was lacking unless scheduled on a ship tour. In Venice, there were no shuttles, water or otherwise, into the city nor was there any info as to how to make our way there. The kiosk on the dock that sells tickets for tours and water taxis was closed but all of the other ships in dock had made arrangements for their guests. As a result, we had to return to the ship without making it into Venice. Not acceptable. The internet cafe was noisy and annoying due to the proximity of the coffee shop. People tended to meet and chat there for extended periods of time. The crow's nest was noisy with quiz shows taking place while one was trying to read. The ship was well appointed but didn't flow well. One had to "enter" areas rather than having the feeling of openness and inclusion. To sum up, it will be a long time before I can get my husband back on a cruise. We were looking forward to time in VENICE but, unfortunately, didn't get to see it this time. DUBROVNIK - we enjoyed our time here. Spent some time in the old city and then took an open bus tour of the area. Got some lovely pictures CORFU - rented a car and toured the island. Delightful. SANTORINI - Loved the cable car to the top. Rented a car and toured the island -Made it to Kamira Beach (black sand)- looked lovely but a little too cool for a dip. Returned to look through the shops. I rode back down but my husband walked down!! with the donkeys!! ARGOSTOLI - Not very exciting. Took the little tram around town 3.50 Euros ea. - nothing much to see. CATANIA - very old city and busy. Took the little tram through city. 5Euros ea. NAPLES - Had a 9 hour private tour of the Amalfi coast. It was an amazing day! ROME - There is a shuttle from the ship to the town. Took the train into Rome from Citatevecchia, 9E pp return - purchased the tickets at the train station which is about a 15 minute walk from where the shuttle drops everyone off. We found an internet cafe (there are lots of them) and phoned home as it cost only .6E per min. (Yes, that's right) to phone Ontario, Canada. VALENCIA Took a cab into the city center - it wasn't necessary as we found out later (information that we should have had from the ship). The Hop On Hop Off bus has two lines, a red and a blue. The blue line stops within walking distance of the ship. We highly recommend the HOHO to see this beautiful city. CARTAGENA - This is one of the nicest piers that we saw on the trip. Great for strolling. We took the tourist bus (5E ea). It was less than hour and not worth it. Walked up the lovely pedestrian only street. Has refreshment at an outdoor cafe. ALMERIA - Not much to do here CADIZ - Nice old town to stroll in. Remember, that stores close at 2pm-6pm for siesta. PORTIMAO - Beautiful beach but too cool to take a dip. Thought we would have been better to spend an extra day in Lisbon and skip this destination at this time of year. LISBON - The highlight of our trip. Eight of us had a van and driver from I HATE TOURISM TOURS.COM to take us up the coast as we had all been to Lisbon before. Had lunch on the sea wall up on the cliff at the westernmost point in Europe. Visited castles, the Tower of Belem and had custard tarts at the famous Patisserie du Belem. Our driver gave us a hair-raising but exciting ride through the streets of Lisbon and to top off the day, we looked over the city of Lisbon from the highest point in the city. We highly recommend this tour company who went out of their way to make our day one to remember! BARCELONA - Lots to see and do here. The HOHO bus is a must. With limited time, it's the best way to see the city. Then, take a leisurely stroll up Las Rambla, visit the wonderful market before returning to the ship. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
The time we were in ports and excursions,we didn't seem to mind that this ship is small to our liking.But as time went on,specially on the Transatlantic crossing,did we notice that this ship didn't have that wow factor.Code Red ... Read More
The time we were in ports and excursions,we didn't seem to mind that this ship is small to our liking.But as time went on,specially on the Transatlantic crossing,did we notice that this ship didn't have that wow factor.Code Red was in effect for many of the remaining days that we were on ship.We were afraid to touch anything,and so it was to our utmost surprise,while we were having dinner in the main dinning room(Manhattan),3 crew members came in with masks,tanks,gloves,and started to spray right in front of us.Needless to say we didn't finish our dinner.That was handled so wrong!Very bad! The design of the Manhattan Dinning room, and color, red all over, is blinding red. There are too many bars,empty most of the time.Not one area for specialty coffee and small pastries for an afternoon break.The main dinning room offer the 3 pm tea,which was a disaster in presentation and service.So uncomfortable being there.Had to ask for everything. The Crows Nest has a pretty setting and view with comfortable chairs.Also not done right.There is a take out paper cup coffee shop so in bad taste.The service was almost like I was disturbing the person behind the counter.The computer area next to it ,such a waste.One can hardly go on line,and it cost so much.Don't bother to go,save your money. The pool area Sea-view in the back of the ship is so not comfortable.Smoking allowed on one side ,but smoke travels,and the pool is not nice looking at all. The center pool which has a sliding roof,that can be open or closed is so stuffy,one can hardly breathe there!I found one place on Deck 3,the walking promenade that I could sit and read,weather permitting. The inside of the ship was always in very cold temperatures.The captain makes too many announcements. Dinner on the Tamarind Restaurant(Pan-Asian) was very good.The design of the room and the Silk Den is in good taste. The Pinnacle Grill was not as good.My dinner was cold.The service was pleasant. The Casino is small,friendly staff,but again the smoking allowed does not fare well with us. The shows are just OK.Very distracting to see the singers wearing this horrible wigs,so fake.It takes away so much the sights for a well done show. Our cabin on deck 5,was comfortable.The service was excellent.Santos and Mahmud did a great job.My only gripes is again the design of the lighting in the cabin.Why only one light far from the closet.Only one light very near the door.Had to use my small flashlight to see inside the closet.Many nights we heard a loud banging noise.Couldn't figure it out why people were banging doors,but that was not the case. Over all.one cannot help comparing cruises.This one was not a good 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
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
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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