1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2010
First I wanted to see how this new huge ship 2000 passengers after beign used to ships of 600 to 700. Second it was a test of cabins an inside J and a VA veranda for our next year 30 day sailing from europe. I was totaly suprised ... Read More
First I wanted to see how this new huge ship 2000 passengers after beign used to ships of 600 to 700. Second it was a test of cabins an inside J and a VA veranda for our next year 30 day sailing from europe. I was totaly suprised and pleased by everything even though the ship was on her maden voyage from Flordia, boarded 5 hours late and has a problem with the neurovirus. Like everything that could have gone wrong did. Yet inspite of all the difficulty everything was just great... Boarding was a dream and easy.... not a single problem The Inside J cabin exceeded my expectations...it was huge, massive and one of the best layouts I have ever seen.... It was far nicer than the Veranda in every respect, bathroom, bed, closets, huge l shaped sofa, just everything excellent and a way better value and way more comfortable than a Veranda which felt tiny and cramped. In the Veranda 2 people could not pass each other in the hall nor could you use the closets or bathroom at the same time... Not so with the beautiful inside.... The ship is very elegant in decore, subtile colors and bloond wood and chrome. No garish or gaudy colors. It reminded me of the Seven Seas The layout was, well outstanding. with like a dozen little bars that just ate up the larger passenger loads. Getting around was easy and there were tons of places enjoy. The movie theater is outstanding. The staff even thought tired from a long crossing and at the end of their contract were excellent in everyway. None had an attitude.. and were both warm and outgoing. We were following storm Thomas so the first 3 days the sea was setteling down.. nothing harsh and the ship rode very very well. The J cabin on the main deck we experienced almost no abnormal motion. It is a ship and the ocean moves. I am amused at all the people who expect a sea going four season and get sick at the drop of a hat.. The food in the Lido was , well excellent and never did I have to wait...very well laid out and things moved ver well. The main dining room was huge but service was great and the food was very good. Tamarand the asian place is in my opinion the best food and service on the ship. Pinnacles, we found to be just another seagoing steakhouse and to be fair I dont like steaks all that much. Great decore... but average menu and not worth the extra when you can get better variety in the Main dining or lido...really. Never used room service except to oder liquor and it was prompt and polite. Shore excursions I found were very well priced and the staff excellent. Excellent variety...I would use the ships tours for value and ease. Fellow passengers.....I was pleased thet there were not many children as I dont think kids belong on cruises at all. 98% of all the people were polite and quiet.. There were a very small number of complainers... high maint. folks who seemed to have one thing in common all were long time cruisers and in Holland Americas frequent sailing club the Mariners. They seemed to walk around with a chip on their shoulder and their noses in the air. After observing this time and time again, we did not attend any of the special Mariner events and lunches we were invited to. We learned to avoid those with Mariners pins. So after 14 days, we saw NO problems, never had a bad meal, had excellent service, felt the ship was a Jr Regent in quality ,decor and scope. All the people we met outside of the the aforementioned elite group , had the same experience as we. I think there is a group that lives to complain as they feel it shows off their superior self. Will you like the Amsterdam..... that depends on you... I loved it and everything about it this said coming from a Regent penthouse with a butler... OK..... I cruised Holland America 12 years ago and things have gotten much, much better in my opinion. Some people see the glass as half empty. Others see it as half full.... I on the other hand am happy to just have a glass. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
Our third cruise on Holland American ships. First to Alaska, next a Holiday cruise thru the Panama Canal and this voyage to ports in Spain, Italy and Portugal before the Atlantic crossing to Fort Lauderdale. It was a near perfect ... Read More
Our third cruise on Holland American ships. First to Alaska, next a Holiday cruise thru the Panama Canal and this voyage to ports in Spain, Italy and Portugal before the Atlantic crossing to Fort Lauderdale. It was a near perfect experience. The ports of call and tours offered are hard to match. What an experience to see the ancient sights blended with the new Europe. We booked a Veranda suite and where totally pleased. It was great to sit out on the veranda and enjoy the scene. Our room was very quite. Never heard an outside sound. On deck 8 at mid ship. Highly recommend it. We had near perfect weather at all of the ports of call. Mid 60's to low 70's, calm and sunny. Thought crossing would be less smooth, but it was very calm. We were just very blessed with good weather. Once we neared Half Moon Cay, Tomas stirred up to sea and made it necessary to skip that port. We had been there before, so it didn't bother us. The ship is absolutely pristine (new ship) and it is outfitted in a modern motif which wome veteran cruiser did not particuly like. Our favorite spot on the ship was the library area which has numerous ultra comfortable lounges and chairs around the room to enjoy the vistas thru huge glass windows around the bow of the ship. Only compaint here was the annoying (and expensive) computers. They eat dollars like candy. For seniors like my wife and I, we would highly recommend Holland American ships if you like to cruise with many other seniors from all over the globe. We especially enjoyed Warren Salinger's lecture series on globalizing giving us an in depth look at emerging countries and world trade in our changing world. We took most of our meals in the Manhattan Dining Room. The food was almost always great and service was excellent from a very friendly staff. I zeroed in on the New York Strip Steak which I found to be near perfect time after time. Other dishes were equally tasty but I kept returning to the steaks. No need to dine in Pinnacle with equal quality and service in the Manhattan. I say go Holland America. You won't regret it. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
Though the following review is 6 months late, the fact that the ship is back in the Mediterranean for its second season makes it hopefully pertinent. Our first time cruising at sea was the 32 day b2b TA Venice to Florida on the Nieuw ... Read More
Though the following review is 6 months late, the fact that the ship is back in the Mediterranean for its second season makes it hopefully pertinent. Our first time cruising at sea was the 32 day b2b TA Venice to Florida on the Nieuw Amsterdam in October 2010- an excellent choice on all fronts, i.e. cruise line,ship, location, and weather. We learned the hard way to be careful about the expressions "first cruise / first time cruising".Proud of this new adventure, we heartily raised our hands when the diners at the Mariners Luncheon (remember b2b) were asked who was on their first cruise. Those who did raise their hands were called "party crashers"by the CD.Ouch! Preparation for this grand adventure included many hours on CC sourcing tips, reviews,etc.which for the most part proved helpful.. Embarkation in Venice was relatively smooth and as our inside J cabin near the aft elevators wasn't quite ready, we retired to the Lido restaurant for some lunch and a glass of wine. Our room was sufficiently spacious though our over-packed 4 suitcases caused some restrictions. Live and learn on the luggage front. Crew and Staff - fantastic positive approach to pax. Stewards and assistants really deserved an end-of-cruise tip over and above the daily general charge. The ship As this was our first time cruising, we had nothing to compare the NA with but found it spacious and rather impressive particularly with the New York theme which we are familiar with from previous land travels.It takes a while to get used to the layout but it helps if one examines the ship decks online in advance. Lower Atrium- Front desk where the friendly get-to-know-you staff is knowledgeable on all things pertaining to your stay. Excursion desk where I found the staff, when on-duty, less friendly (glad I did the non prearranged tours using 3rd(?) level keyboard). Dining We are not fussy diners but we do appreciate good food and service. There was an abundance of both on the NA. The Lido- was the mainstay which was the goto when other dining rooms were unavailable. Generally went there for breakfast and lunch. If a late tour set meal schedules back or if you needed a late snack, a substantial fare is available in the Lido at 11pm. Had no problem at all with the variety of offerings or quality. The Manhattan Dining Room- was our designated "open dining" room with superb service and menus. It took several days before we got up-to-speed in using the services of this place, but we took advantage of shared accomodation at all dinners and some breakfasts as well as afternoon tea at 3 . On all occasions, we were introduced to many interesting diners. Service was always no problem in the MDR except on "at sea" days when there were no excursions and the volume of patrons at tea increased significantly.The layout and decor was impressive, the dining room conversations at bit noisy, and the air conditioning a bit cool in the inner step-up portion of the 2nd level MDR. We always looked forward to coming back to this place. We did not avail ourselves of the Pinnacle Grill, Silk Den, Explorations Cafe,or Canaletto. Yes, but we did experience the Pan Asian Tamarind and it was just great...no, super! We hadn't experienced such an interesting series of courses, teas, and service, as here. Just a note re the code orange and the fact that the dining staff in the Lido had to do all serving and distribution of items. As the Tamarind was not open during the breakfast time-frame, its staff was seconded to the Lido to assist with coffee serving and we were surprised when one of the Tamarind servers greeted us by name a few days after our visit there. Bars We drink socially and rather minimally so did not frequent any of the several bars each of which had their own character. Entertainment The Showroom at the bow of the ship is beautiful and was used for various activities including bingo, church services , movies, lectures,and of course evening shows. We did not take in very many of the shows but were impressed with most of what we saw particularly the enthusiasm of the ships singers and especially the dancers.We enjoyed a couple of the stage productions, e.g NYC, also an English comedian, and particularly a singer/impressionist named Robinson (sorry forgot 1st name).Apparently a juggler/comedian named Barnaby was a hit on this ship as well as Cantare. Hit Bingo almost every-time offered but won zilch. We took in a couple of cooking demonstrations ; didn't participate in the dance instruction classes. We did however dance to the Jimmy Maddox trio and Jen and the Hal Cats. Speaking of not winning at bingo, we were up and down in the wins and losses at the Casino as we cut our way through the cigarette smoke. One of the few areas on the ship where it was permitted internally, the smokers seemed in general to have a "because I can" attitude. Also, patrons of the Showroom had to run the smoke gauntlet to get to and from their destination. Gymnasium Used gym equipment on one occasion (though more warranted). Sat in on a free interesting presentation on toxicity in the human diet and environment. However, we went further afterward and had a not free health assessment using a machine with electrodes providing a printout on various readings.Found some of the findings questionable and particularly that a product was being recommended on an ongoing subscription basis. Paid bill and never went back. Please note that I understand the gym, casino, and Signatures shop are run by outside interests not HAL though I may stand to be corrected. Photo Gallery Ship-sponsored photos were taken upon embarkation, during Formal Dining Nights, and during some port dis-embarkations,etc. A cruise video dvd with highlights from various excursions was an ongoing project.Having heeded one CC'ers warning of annoying photographers, I refused when my wife mentioned someone wanted us to turn around for a picture. Turns out it was the cruise videographer and so we missed our chance to be included in the Venice departure scenes; did make it briefly in the Santorini trip. We purchased a set of MDR photos of ourselves as well as cruise and Mediterranean highlites dvd's. All reasonable. Library/computer Didn't avail ourselves of the library though many did. The pay for time used computer usage hurt, not only for the $30 for the half hour e-mail composition, but that we found out 2 weeks later that our intended recipients didn't receive anything. Once located, onshore telephone and e-mail each cost less than 2 euros for about 20 minutes usage. Ports This is the biggest and most interesting aspect of cruising. It does, however, require alot of thought particularly for "newbies". First of all, determine a philosophy regarding excursions. This sounds rather simplistic but is necessary. Participants should determine what is important to them,i.e. what locales are important to me and why. Do I approach cities and sites from a historical viewpoint or by popularity? How much do I think an excursion is worth versus what I am willing to pay? Do we like to "self direct" our excursions? Are we "intimidated" by the warning that if your "on your own" excursion is delayed for whatever reason, you're "on your own" as the ship won't wait. Though we visited several Italian ports, we didn't do Italy quite the justice it deserved so it awaits a further visit.Note to self...arrive in departure city at least 1 day early to cover jet lag and do some touring. Favourite locales for us included Monaco, Barcelona,Cartagena,and Granada.The Greek island of Thira (Santorini) is a "must-see" as well as Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Epilogue These 32 days resulted in us putting a deposit on a future yet to be selected HAL cruise. With all the friendly staff attention, interesting fellow travellers,great locations, fantastic food,and R&R prompted my wife to say, upon departing the ship, "we went to heaven" and I agree. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
We just finished another terrific cruise on Holland America. The Nieuw Amsterdam is a beautiful ship. Our room (standard verandah) was very comfortable and we had tons of room to hang up a lot of clothes, put our suitcases under the bed, ... Read More
We just finished another terrific cruise on Holland America. The Nieuw Amsterdam is a beautiful ship. Our room (standard verandah) was very comfortable and we had tons of room to hang up a lot of clothes, put our suitcases under the bed, and still move around freely. Nice flat-screen tv. Great bed! We found the food to be the best of any Holland ship so far (we've sailed on five of them. We kept making reservations at the Pinnacle Grill then canceling them as the dining room menu was just irresistible. We are very picky about our food and on the entire cruise only had one meal we didn't care for. As usual the crew was incredibly competent and kind. They never fail to amaze us with their great memories! (Several of them remembered me from cruises taken more than a year ago). Holland's Indonesian crew is the best ever. They are unfailingly cheerful and willing to do anything to make us feel at home. We were embarrassed by the level of complaining our shipmates did about the procedures the ship's crew implemented to keep the gastrointestinal problems from spreading. I have been in many hospitals that were not nearly as clean as this ship! All the crew members had to work extra hours every day to do extra cleaning and sanitizing and yet they never complained or failed to be cheerful. To all of the other passengers who whined about having to wait in lines, shame on you. We are very happy not to have gotten ill on the cruise! The figures we saw show that the rate of infection was 6% of the passengers, which is amazing for all those people together at sea for more than a week.Captain Mercer was wonderful, what a terrific Captain. He was gracious, competent, and told the truth without trying to gloss over anything. We felt well-cared for and in good hands. All the ports were interesting and we were lucky to have nice sunny weather every day except the one day in the Caribbean. Downsides for us were:the entertainment wasn't anything we cared for. However, the on-board lectures and movies were great. We don't cruise for entertainment. Also I wish Holland would ban cigars. Just one ruins my balcony. Other than that we had a stellar vacation, and I would cruise on Holland again anytime. Especially on the ships that have the Tamarind Restaurant, which is just fabulous! Beautiful decor, gracious service, and fantastic food. 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: 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: 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
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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