Sail Date: June 2011
The Nieuw Amsterdam was a very nice ship and most things of exceptional quality during the cruise. That being said I will first address the things we did not like. One of the biggest things we did not like about the ship was the Crows ... Read More
The Nieuw Amsterdam was a very nice ship and most things of exceptional quality during the cruise. That being said I will first address the things we did not like. One of the biggest things we did not like about the ship was the Crows Nest. They placed the library in the front right side of the room and it took up a lot of nice lounge space that should be devoted to gatherings and evening music. People would pick up a book sit down in a chair and fall asleep leaving few spaces for people that wanted to gather in a group to visit, see the sites or enjoy music. The second thing we did not like was the entertainment offered. In our opinion the only entertainment worth attending was the evening performances which were generally good to excellent. The lounge performances were a waste with the exception of Mat Murphy who had a nice voice and played an excellent range of songs. The problem we had was we could never listen to him because they had him playing in the Crows Nest from 5PM to 9 PM. This was during our early dining seating and we could never listen to him without giving up our dinner time. The The third thing I would mention is our impression that Holland America has neglected customer satisfaction and is more about finding ways to squeeze every dollar they can from each guest. They constantly had someone trying to sell you a bottle of water, a drink or they were promoting some event that you had to pay for. They did not seem to schedule entertainment when people had time to attend. The biggest gripe we had abut the cruise was the Travel Advisor, Tom. When he was asked a question about a port he tried to discourage people from doing things on their own and tried to get them go book something through the ship. Things were always too hard, too far or too difficult. As an example, when we visited Santorini he told people it was dangerous riding the mules from the dock up to town. He made it sound like you were putting your life on the line by taking this mode of transportation and suggested that you take the ships overpriced excursions. On another occasion we asked him how far it was to walk to the train station and he told us it was a 40 minute walk. After we caught a bus we found out it was only three blocks and could be walked to in less than 10 minutes. Now that the disappointments are covered, we had a wonderful cruise. All of the ports had interesting things to see and do. We opted to do things ourselves rather than through the boat and found that to be much more satisfactory. We usually saw more than the ships tours did, got there faster, stayed longer and had fewer people to wait on. With a little pre-planning and effort we always got to do more for less. This is a port intensive cruise and we got little time to catch our breath but that is better than letting the ships crew try to entertain you. The ships crew was great. They provided a comfortable pleasant atmosphere throughout the cruise. Food on the trip was very good. There was always plenty of variety and the quality was generally pleasing. The cooks tended to overcook beef however I found that if I ordered it one level more rare than I really wanted it turned out great. I usually prefer medium but had to order medium rare to get the outcome I wanted. At the Lido buffet we enjoyed the theme meals offered in one section each day. They switched that section each day and featured a different country's food which we found enjoyable. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
We booked this cruise on our last HA cruise taken in the summer of 2010. At the time, we were told we'd never see a better price. So we booked a balcony cabin for about $3000 each. The least expensive suites were, I believe, around ... Read More
We booked this cruise on our last HA cruise taken in the summer of 2010. At the time, we were told we'd never see a better price. So we booked a balcony cabin for about $3000 each. The least expensive suites were, I believe, around $3700 each. AFTER we were locked in by making our final payment, they lowered the suite price to $3000 and balcony to $1800!!! I called HA. They told me to call my agent. My agent said they'd upgrade us to a suite for $3000. When I pointed out that HA lied to me last summer, she called them again. The result: a $50 credit. Big deal. One of my pet peeves is being lied to. So guess I started the cruise with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. This review might reflect that a bit. We embarked in Barcelona. Very quick process. (NOTE: AFTER you go through security with your carry on luggage, there is a duty free shop. The liquor in that shop was about 1/3 the price of that which I'd ordered through HA and had delivered to the cabin. And you can carry it onboard as you've already been through security screening (no x-ray machine). There were a number of evidences of cost cutting; for example, the quality of the food. This was our 4th HA cruise. Our first was 4 or 5 years ago. The quality of the food had steadily declined. Examples: the pizza (which I often used to get to have for a quick dinner on occasion to sit on our balcony to watch the sunset) was inedible. The ice-cream tasted like whipped ice-milk of the least expensive variety. The first, tenth & eleventh evening meals were good -- not excellent but very good. The rest were cafeteria quality. Very disappointing. One other disappointment: the baked Alaska celebration was (as usual) planned for the last evening. However, we were in Venice on the last evening and almost everyone stayed in the town. (The information guide recommended this -- stating that most of the day tourists left and the city became much less crowded and more enjoyable.) IMHO, the baked Alaska should have been served the night before. (IMHO, this was poor planning in the part of HA.) One more comment on the food: definitely try the Tamarind Restaurant. The food is cooked to order. If you don't want it with hot spices, or bean sprouts, they'll make it to your preference. Also, the service there is among the best we've ever received in any restaurant. One more on food: Vegetarians must come to the dining room in the morning to select their food from a very limited, non-changing menu. Why they can not allow them to order the prior evening is beyond my comprehension. The ship itself is nice, though not much different in layout, size, etc. than other HA ships of its class. The Tamarind was a nice addition. The cabanas seemed like they were mostly unused. The cruise director was the best of any HA cruise we've taken. He had put together a VERY good set of evening shows in the main theater -- with the exception of the dancers (who seemed like first year dancing students and detracted from the rest of the show). Fortunately, the shows were centered around a group of 4 male and 2 female singers, 5 of whom were fantastic, the last very good. The piano bar player/singer, the guitarist, & other musicians (other than the classical music group, we mediocre. This might be because it was a port intensive cruise and people didn't care much, or it might be because the 6 singers mentioned above used up more than the usual budget. OR, it might be another example of HA's cost cutting. One of the best persons on the ship (besides our stateroom attendant -- Manta, the BEST ever -- was Tom. He was not the person in charge of selling you excursions. He'd mention the shops. But more importantly, in his talks he'd tell you what to do if you didn't want to take an excursion. For example, we'd been to Florence and didn't want to take a whirlwind bus tour. We just wanted to get from the port to Florence. (It's about a 75 minute ride.) So when I went down to talk with Tom (He's very available) he handed me a sheet with all the details of how to catch the train to Florence and back. For my wife and I it cost about 35-40% of what an excursion would have cost and we didn't have to be crammed in a bus with 50 others and marched around like ants following a guide. Debarkation in Venice. If you're staying over in EU on your own and traveling by train, HA does a TERRIBLE job of helping you get to the train station. We spoke with a HA rep in the baggage area who suggested taking a water taxi (euro 100). When I balked at that, she finally remembered that HA can transfer your luggage for euro 5 per bag to the train station. However, one bag was full of valuable electronics, the other medicine and jewelry. (Both were 21" roll ons and heavy) There was no way I was going to check those. So we checked the two with luggage, and had to lug our 21" bags to the people carrier, then to the train station which requires lugging your carriage about 80 yards across a bridge with steps -- no ramps for luggage!!! By the time we reached the train station (more steps -- no ramps), we were exhausted and my shirt was soaking wet with perspiration. IMHO, HAL should arrange easier transfer for those going to the train station. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
One of the quickest and smoothest that I have experienced after about 7 cruises. Further, the luggage was promptly delivered inside of our cabins and laid out on the bed on top of bed protectors. CabinAlthough, neither Bev nor I are not ... Read More
One of the quickest and smoothest that I have experienced after about 7 cruises. Further, the luggage was promptly delivered inside of our cabins and laid out on the bed on top of bed protectors. CabinAlthough, neither Bev nor I are not handicap we were assigned a handicap room, because that was the only one left near midship. The cabin did have a little bit more room than a standard veranda, but I found the cabin and veranda shaped oddly. I would not book a handicap room again, b/c the closet and hangars are wheel chair accessible, which required us to bend over to hang and retrieve our clothing. This can be a little awkward, especially at 6 ft. In addition, it was understood that if there was a need for a handicap room, we would have to surrender ours, and be given a comparable cabin or higher. This was a little too much uncertainly for us, similar to the guarantee business. I prefer to book early and simply know and settle into a location without any anxiety or doubt.Other than the odd shape of the cabin, one of my biggest complaints is that we were unable to turn off the fan ventilation in the room. There was always a hum, despite my calls and complaint to the registration desk. I simply had to get use to a constant hum, even with the thermostat turned off. This is not good for light sleepers, which I am one. Even, my partner complained, who is not a light sleeper. As for my next cruise, I already asked Celebrity about the quietness in their cabins, and they assured me that it can be individually controlled and the vents and hum could not be turned off completely. Celebrity, here I come, because of their quiet cabins (as they told me) and their non-smoking policy. It is not nice or healthy to catch a whiff of smoke when you simply want to breathe the sea air from you balcony.DiningThe MDR dining room Holland's America N. Amsterdam was pretty but the food and service was little inconsistent. The formal night was done well w/ the lobster. The deserts were lack luster. Princess showed more creativity.However, the Pinnacle Restaurant was one of the dining highlights of the cruise because they shined in every aspect, dEcor, service, food quality, and desert. The waiters had food knowledge and cared whether you were pleased w/ your order, unlike one evening in the MDR, where the waiter actually told us everything is good. We talked to the Maitre'd and was moved for the other couple of nights. If they had rotated the menu, other than the Le Cirque, menu, we would have revisited Pinnacle. Tamarind also held their own very well. Both are highly recommended. Yes, there is a charge to eat on a ship's specialty restaurant, but it is worth to do at least once on the mainstream cruises. We also dined at Cannelli and it was nice but not up to the standards of the other two specialty restaurants that we visited. The buffet and breakfast on the lido deck were consistently good, freshly squeezed oj, was very nice, w/ kudos to the salad and fruit bar. (blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries.GymThe gym equipment was very modern and diverse. It was nicely laid out at the bow of the ship overlooking the sea. I worked out thoroughly 3 times, in seven days, which I try to do when I am home. Tip: I am even more diligent with working out when on a cruise because chances are you are having more calories than you usually are. We took a Tai Chai class that was okay.Pool: The pool was nice but the whirlpool was rather small.SpaI did not use the spa, but that had some very attractive prices doing port days. Excursions:Half Moon Cay was simply beautiful, as many of the reviews stated. The beach was nice and pretty. The barbecue lunch was nice but a bit hectic and crowded. I have experienced a few beach barbecues that were more relaxed. They can change the logistics and traffic flow. The bike riding was very short on old, squeaky, heavy, and rusty bikes for maybe 2 miles round trip. I would not recommend it. The hike was a little better. However, for about 59.00 it was overpriced.The horseback riding on Grand Cayman was nice as we walked along the edge of the water, while some riders were allowed to trot and gallop. The horses were ready to run and many of the trippers allowed their horse to trot or gallop and our leader promptly and severely reprimanded us. He was tight that one of us would get hurt. However, as vacationers, we took offense at his tone and harsh demeanor.I complained to HAL about this, and the fact that we did not go into the water as promised. Kudos to them because they refunded me my excursion fee.Grand Turks and Caicios excursion was another disappointment on a HAL excursion because were taken to a church, a souvenir shop, and a salt factory. Tip: I think Governors' Beach or going to another beach or Provivecales are better choices, by far. Overall, I have found Princess excursions to be much better.Costa Maya, Mexico, We had enough of HAL's excursions and booked independently thought Native Choice to visit the Chacchobben Ruins. This experience was by far the better excursion because, the ruins were incredible and the guide David was very knowledgeable and share his insights into Mayan Civilization.We witnessed about 3 or four ruin and archeological sites. After the sites, about 6 of us were whisked off in a van to some remote and long winding dirt road. At the end of the road, was a beautiful resort. Here, the host greeted us, gently, and graciously. (this was welcomed after the horseback riding experience) We were lead to an outdoor dining table overlooking a pretty blue lagoon and treated to a traditional Mexican meal of rice, beans and a chicken burrito/ juice and margaritas. Very nice, and gracious, especially when asked if whether we wanted another margarita.After, our provisions we were invited to tour the grounds and the individual cabins. There were nice and functional. Then we went kayaking on the lagoon. Very nice. The ride is about one hour each way, but it is well worth the trip. I will be doing more excursions that are independent from now on. One nice thing is that they are smaller, more intimate, and more controlled.Entertainment:The entertainment was fine the highlights were the 4 male singers, named Cantera, and the juggler comedian, Andy James was excellent. The other highlights were the Piano Bar, what was very personable as he took requests. The casino was very smoky, t he disco was quiet and often full of teens who they has to constantly ask for ID. The karaoke was fun in the beautiful Queens Lounge. The art auction was typical of cruise auctions serving the cheapest champagne they could find.The steel band was nice, however, they did have the people dancing or involved on the sail away parties. Princess' bands had the people dancing, and not simply because the people are younger on a Princess Cruise. Here, I found the passengers to me mixed. Many of us would have danced and partied if inspired by the band. I though during the desert event near the pool they would kick it off but they were not even playing. Yes, I did miss Princess's champagne toasts, which really gets the party started. Please note, we are an active couple in our 50's who likes to dance from time to time, especially on vacation. Let's get the party started!! I have been warned and advised about Holland America being a little laid back, but I also believe you cater to the current cruisers, not your reputation. They could have struck up the band, at least once.However, I did take a waltz, swing, and salsa class and they were full each time.My partner had a nice time, although she does not think she would do HAL again because it was a low key environment. One reason is because they did not get the party started w/ the band or DJ's, or had a celebratory atmosphere on the sail away or desert parties. Again, Princess has a more dynamic atmosphere. As for me, I am looking to explore some other cruise lines to see what they have to offer. I am offering a 3 ½ star rating b/c of the constant ventilation humming in the cabin, some indifferences in the MDR, below average excursions, and the missing wow factor, although the ship was nice and classy.The highlights on this cruise were the specialty restaurants, the lay out and dEcor of the ship, some entertainment. The buffet breakfast and some lunches were very good. The weather was very nice, low 80's and sunshine every day, w/ very calm seas. Only one night, the last one, did we felt some motion in the ocean.Areas that can use improvement are more consistency in the MDR, cabin vent noise, excursions, and energy level of the band and crew cruise director to let loose at least once, to have real sail away or theme parties. Compared to other cruises, this one was a more laid back experience.This was my 1st HAL cruise. In short, did it meet my expectations? Not really. Would I do it again? Maybe. However, I love the new ships and with some wow factors.This sailing was selected b/c of the inauguration season, and specifically for the itinerary. I love the new ships and the wow factors. Overall, I did expect a little more consistency from HAL. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
We have been on a total of five cruises together on four different cruise lines. This was our first sailing with Holland America. There some very memorable highlights to this cruising experience and some situations that could have used ... Read More
We have been on a total of five cruises together on four different cruise lines. This was our first sailing with Holland America. There some very memorable highlights to this cruising experience and some situations that could have used some tweaking to make cruise more memorable. Holland America does seem like a good company to cruise with. We did not have any major complaints with either the ship or the cruise line. All the staff was very courteous, but not overly friendly. The ship was new which probably contributed to the positive experience. The food on the ship was just "OK". We had much better food on our own on shore. I found the food to be generally bland, unimaginative and under-seasoned. Having said that, all the food is perfectly edible, but don't take this cruise if you are interested in rapturous gastronomic experience - you will not find it, even in the specialty restaurants. The traditional dining seatings are at 5:45 and 8:30. We found the earlier seating to be much too early and it would conflict with a late return on a shore excursion. The late seating was much too late for our taste. Most days we went to the Lido buffet or we went to open seating in the dining room. We did go to Canalis - the Italian specialty restaurant - one evening. Again, the food was average and the service was good, but not exceptional. I did find it quite odd that the cruise originated in Italy and sailed through Greece, but most of the wine was over-priced California or Washington wines. I had hoped for a local wine list. The cabin that we booked was an ocean view stateroom. It was spacious and the bathroom came complete with a bathtub! It was very roomy for two people. The drawback was that there was quite a bit of engine / thruster noise. This did bother us the first night, but we generally regarded it as "white noise" on subsequent evenings. If you are a light sleeper, you would want to book a cabin on a higher deck. On our first day, we signed up for an internet package. Although they claim that internet is accessible throughout the ship, the signal is extremely weak in the staterooms and you really need to go to public areas. Even with a strong signal, the satellite connection is painfully slow. It will take at least three if not five times as long to accomplish the same tasks. Holland America should consider contracting with local ISPs while in port to use their services instead of the satellite; it may be less frustrating. We have no complaints regarding the entertainment or the shipboard activities. We did not participate in may on-board activities, but we did always have positive experiences when we did. All things considered, I will take a Holland America cruise again for the right price. It definitely was not a high-end line, but a solid middle-range line. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
After done cruises on seven different cruise lines I can compare Holland America cruse experience:1. The ship interior design is contemporary, similar to average Vegas style hotel. There is missing flavor of luxury.2. Dining is very good, ... Read More
After done cruises on seven different cruise lines I can compare Holland America cruse experience:1. The ship interior design is contemporary, similar to average Vegas style hotel. There is missing flavor of luxury.2. Dining is very good, especially in Pinnacle. Downside- If you have a main sitting - don't be late more than 15 minutes, otherwise full menu selection is not guarantee. For your $7.00 USD you'll have a glass of 100ml of cheap wine, better to buy wine in ports and bring with you on board. 3. Entertainment is horrible. 4. Ports: Too many Greece ports (3), it would be better to stay overnight somewhere else instead.5. Cabin and cabin service is very good.6. Casino as always is rip-off; there is no pay back whatever you try. Take your money to Vegas you'll have more chances.7. On board activities are wishing to be better.Overall rating: 7 out of 10 Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
Embarkation was fast and efficient. We drove to the Port Everglades terminal and parked our car in the garage across the street. It was easy to get in & out. The total fee for the 7 days was $105.00 We arrived at 12:30 and were in ... Read More
Embarkation was fast and efficient. We drove to the Port Everglades terminal and parked our car in the garage across the street. It was easy to get in & out. The total fee for the 7 days was $105.00 We arrived at 12:30 and were in our cabin within 1/2 hr. The negatives: No champaign greeting nor guide to direct us to the elevator Celebrity Cruises, (our favorite) offers both.OUR bags arrived in the cabin in about an hour. DINNING: We headed for the LIDO deck buffet shortly after arrival. IT was already crouded. The walkway between the tables and serving lines were very narrow so it was hard to keep from bumping into otheres. The 1st 2 days was not self sevice so that of course is always annoying plus slows things down considerably. We ate breakfast at the buffet all mornings except one. The selections were typical cruise fare and good. The waffel bar & omlet bar were very good. The moring pastries were OK but not exceptional. We missed the exceptional, heavily pecan encrusted sticky buns offered on CELEBTITY. The coffee was good but the"cream" was more of the conistency of 2% milk. POOL Areas. Thes need some improvement. Appearantly spring break had started and there were too many unsupervised youths, running & jumping around the pool with no corrective action taken by the staff. There was an adult pool aft, but it had no shade and the music was always too loud. Could not relax there. DINNING: WE elected ANYTIME dinning. This worked out well. It is the 11st time we tried it. On prior cruises we always elected early seating at an assigned table for 6 or 8. We never had to wait to get seated, even though we usually ate between peak times, between 6 & 7PM We requested a table for either 2 or 6 & it was never a problem. The main negative in this arrangement is that you never get to know your waiter because you have a different one every evening. Also service some evenings was sluggish. The food was good with a reasonably varied menu. The lobster on lobster night was exceptional. Large, succulent with good texture. We did not eat at any of the extra charge dinning venues. ENTERTAINMENT: The Cruise Director, Gene Young, was very good and energetic. He hosted the Marriage Game and made that interesting and funny. The group CANTARE' is a must see. These are 4 guys who sing excellent harmony. The sang many familiar classic songs, some Righteous Bros. and some Italian love songs. They got a standing ovation at the end of their performance. Someone commented that they are 10 times better than the Jersey Boys. The other entertainment was also mostly good. The comedian and the singer in the Piano Bar. The only exception was the steel drum performance which was way too loud and not our cup of tea. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
Review of Nieuw Amsterdam- Eastern Caribbean February-15-11 1:07 PM Cabana Girls Cruise Cabin 6058 SS Capri Family Cabana Sailing February 6th, 2011 1st Holland American Cruise 2nd cruise ever ... Read More
Review of Nieuw Amsterdam- Eastern Caribbean February-15-11 1:07 PM Cabana Girls Cruise Cabin 6058 SS Capri Family Cabana Sailing February 6th, 2011 1st Holland American Cruise 2nd cruise ever Travelled with my Daughter her 1st Cruise We arrived at the terminal around 11 am as was suggested by my CC friends and we were on the ship by Noon..We went directly to the Cabana Club we rented the Capri family cabana.. where there was ice cold water and fresh chocolate dipped strawberries waiting. Michael and Lenny were our Cabana Club Stewards..Lenny gave us our Cabana tour and then a menu and asked what we wanted for lunch. We were in the middle of lunch around 12:45 and were told our cabins were ready. We finished lunch and went down to our cabin, our wine had been delivered, our shore excursions were all there. And our Bon Voyage gifts had arrived.. So far everything was just right.. The cleanliness of the cabin was another thing...there was hair in the tub, and quite a bit in the bathroom sink, a sight I'll never forget it looked like someone clean out their hair brush. The bathroom floor was dirty, and there was broken glass on the sofa, table and carpet, as well as out on the balcony. I called the concierge to have it cleaned up, and we went out and took a tour of the ship..our first impressions of HAL were certainly mixed with the stark cleanliness of the Cabana and the condition of the cabin..we waited about an hour and returned to the cabin where everything was ship shape, and we met our cabin steward..I did not see him nor did I feel the need to until we met in the hallway the last two days of our cruise as the cabin was fine as far as cleanliness after that. We did find the pantry and got our own ice no big deal to do that.. The cabin size was fantastic, and the balcony exceeded our expectations. We loved the amount of storage and the shelving which you could configure to your needs..nice touch. We ate in the Canaletto the first evening the seafood linguine is delicious! The ship is beautiful, and the art work and the atrium stunning..my favourite place to sit other than the cabana was the crows nest.. once we figured out which end was which we had no trouble finding our way around and took the mid ship glass elevators which seemed faster. The first day was a sea day and as expected we spend the entire day in the Cabana Port days were pretty much as expected and I won't go into them for the purposes of this review, embarkation and disembarkation were uneventful..EXCEPT one thing that I did not learn on CC is that now you are required to carry with you your government issued id, such as a drivers licence or passport. I did not bring it with me for San Juan as I change my pants for shorts at the last minute and my licence was in my pants..I did have a business card with my name and photo on it and they finally accepted that. I did dine at Le Cirque and found that experience to be poor. I was expecting to see the pinnacle somehow transformed but all they did was change the plates. I did like the soup but for 40 dollars in my opinion it was not worth it..the lobster was nothing special, I had the halibut which was steamed and tasteless. But a generous helping of fish..Would not recommend this restaurant. I did dine at the Tamarind and was blown away by this experience, the people, the food, the decor was wonderful and at 15. pp was well worth it. IF I travel with HAL again I would eat there every night except formal night. FYI do not have the Tempura Ice Cream you will never think of ordinary ice cream in the same way again..I'd sail HAL again just to have this dessert. The main dining room, the decor was OK. The food on formal night they hit it out of the park with everyone at our table I had the lamb and could have stayed for seconds. The only problem is it is very crowded, the tables are too close together, and it seemed to be quite warm. We only ate there that evening. We were well suited for open dining, and would most definitely request that again. I cannot comment on the entertainment as we did not attend one show, after dinner we would enjoy a drink on our lovely balcony and just enjoy the sound of the ocean for an hour or so then take a walk around the deck, head for the casino for an hour and then call it a day. Would I sail HAL again? I am not sure I did buy a Future cruise credit, but will I use it only time will tell. If I do sail HAL I would like to do this ship again. Because of the cabana I did not get to all of the areas I wanted to see. I had a great massage and even bought the robe. ;-) I would say that I think those Cabanas are for me the crack cocaine of cruising and I would be hard pressed to cruise any other way now. The only thing that HAL needs to address immediately is the rope signage that goes across the stairs. Several times because it is so awkward to unhook it to get in most people just tried to go over it and I saw several stewards and people trip and one fell my self included. I was not hurt but from then on I put down what ever I was carrying and took the time to unhook it and then re hook it before I continued to the cabana..Really dangerous The last night of the cruise I also noticed there was more broken glass on our balcony and several times during the cruise I saw passengers throwing things, orange peels, cigarettes, tissues overboard. No need for behaviour like that.. I do want to thank all the CC'ers and the lovely people I met from my roll call for all your help. I am open to answering any questions about the Nieuw Amsterdam or the cabin we were in. Oh and as a side note and never having seen HMC before I agree it is paradise and the new Bar loved it. Did not find the music overbearing or loud. Loved the fact I could climb up to the top and see a 360 view. Great place to spend time..I did leave our yellow cabana early 1:45 we were to be on board at 2:30, to go to the shop and purchase a HMC tee shirt, only to be told quite rudely actually that they were closing the store as they had to get back to the ship, I said I know what I want it would only take a minute she shut the door in my face. Very poor customer service so nothing to do but head to the tenders and return to the boat. We were back on board by 2:15..Lesson learned shop early..so now I have one more question for my CC friends can you buy a HMC tee shirt anywhere else? Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
We just returned from the Jan 2nd sailing. Overall we had a really good cruise. We have cruised with NCL, RCCL, and Carnival and we thought that Holland was superior in a few areas. (And lacking in others) The new ship was pretty ... Read More
We just returned from the Jan 2nd sailing. Overall we had a really good cruise. We have cruised with NCL, RCCL, and Carnival and we thought that Holland was superior in a few areas. (And lacking in others) The new ship was pretty under whelming for us. I think we were expecting more, but it did not have any type of "wow" factor. It was a nice new ship, but it didn't really seem to have any "new" type features. (Except for the Cabanas) We spent the night before at the Hampton Inn which was just OK. It was a nightmare trying to catch their shuttle to the port on Sunday morning, so we decided to use a taxi for $15. (Money well spent) Here are the Pros and Cons of our trip: Pros We LOVED the cabana. We spent every afternoon in the Cabana. The service was great. Juan and Arnel took good care of us. Lunch everyday, fresh fruit, bottled water, chocolate strawberries, and champagne every afternoon. The Cabana was one of the highlights of the trip. The cost was $299 for the week and I think it is a much better value than the Half Moon Cay cabanas or the Margartaville cabanas. We also enjoyed the entertainment. The HAL shows were very good and we thought the music on board was also top notch. This cruise had the best entertainment of any cruise we have been aboard. The specialty restaurants were also very good. We loved Tamarind. We had lunch and two dinners at Tamarind. Pinnacle was also good. The overall service on the ship seemed to be a little better than the other cruise lines. They really make an effort to learn everyone's name, which seems impossible with 2000 people on board. There were lots of elevators and they were FAST. It was really easy to navigate the ship between floors. We have been on other cruise ships where you spent quite a long time waiting for an elevator. Not so on this ship. Cons The food quality outside of the specialty restaurants was mediocre. We had room service for breakfast twice and we could not even eat it. It was that bad. The roles and muffins were dry and hard. Coffee not good either. The main dining room food was pretty good but nothing too memorable. I was not a big fan of the layout of the ship. There was no grand atrium and all of the hallways and bars seemed closed in. Not near as "open" as the RCCL and Carnival ships. The "port expert", Ian, was misinforming people on some of the Grand Cayman information. He said that "Cemetery Beach" was a great snorkeling spot and it was a 10 minute walk from the ship. We had stayed on Grand Cayman for a week and we know that cemetery beach is in the West End and it is about 10 miles away. There is a cemetery near the ship, but this is not cemetery beach, so he was misinforming people on snorkeling advice. He also kept mispronouncing Costa Maya. He was British so he kept saying Costa "Maya", with a long a. Like Mayonnaise. It is Maya, like Miya. (long i) Not a huge deal other than the fact that if he keeps mispronouncing the name, then people will call the port the wrong name. Even with his accent, I think HAL should have people pronounce the port name properly. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
The purpose of the cruise appeared to be selling everything: alcohol, jewelry, clothing, dining rooms, cabanas, art, and casinos. Free services such as the library kept very limited hours even on the "at sea" days when it would ... Read More
The purpose of the cruise appeared to be selling everything: alcohol, jewelry, clothing, dining rooms, cabanas, art, and casinos. Free services such as the library kept very limited hours even on the "at sea" days when it would have been convenient to use them. The ship has an extensive and interesting art collection, and I would have loved to have taken the iPod tour but could never make it to the library to check it out. The ship's public areas were kept clean, and I swear that I heard a vacuum cleaner in our hallway at 3:30 am! The staff "simonized" (their word) the handrails on the stairs frequently so that the railings were either wet or left a sticky residue on one's hands. The fitness center had broken equipment which should have been repaired. All the personnel were very pleasant and helpful. It was reassuring to see the assistance available to those with mobility impairments. Walkers, electric scooters and wheelchairs were common sights as were manual wheelchairs assited by staff. We were notified that a GI virus had affected both guests and crew. Purell dispensers were all around the ship staffed by crew to make sure that we used them. Each guest room also had a bottle of Purell. I heard from guests who had been ill that they had received wonderful care from the medical staff. Food service was generally very good. The main dining room, The Manhattan, was very large, noisy, and very bright and glitzy; conversation was difficult. The menu selections were excellent with two vegetarian and one fish option as well as red meat and poultry; although the beef was the least well-prepared item, often dry and tasteless. The main buffet in The Lido often ran out of popular items: broccoli at lunch on the first day and bread pudding for dessert almost every day. The two sides of the buffet offered differing items under the same general headings so one had circle the dining room before making a selection. Several other dining rooms were available at an extra charge of $20-$30 per person. In-room dining offered a more restricted menu but was adequate and came at the requested times. Two formal dinners seemed excessive especially since the menu was no different than on other nights and the service was slower and less efficient due to the number of diners in the main dining room that night. Our cabin was adequate but not roomy. It provided enough storage space with plenty of hangers and excellent lighting. The bathroom had additional shelf space as well as a retractable clothesline which we appreciated. The towels were extra large and fluffy, but we had to request clean towels each time as there was really nowhere to hang the bath towels to dry between uses. Even though the ship was only 6 months old, there were small details that hadn't been attended to. The sink drain did not work. The cabin steward attempted to fix it by tying it to the lever arm so that it didn't open or close. The front desk had to be contacted to get a better repair. The tub didn't drain when showering, and one showered in water up to the ankles. We were told this was because of the motion of the ship. There was also a hint of mold where the walls met the tub, evidence of not-too thorough cleaning. Shore excursions were purchased through HAL since we had never been to this region before. We wanted to learn about the area, culture, and history, and they did provide that. Some drivers were more knowledgeable than others. On all of the excursions the drivers served as the tour guides, having to focus their attention on the roads as well as the sites. We felt that the HAL website and phone center staff did not provide as much information as they could have to help first time ocean cruisers such as us. I understand that the ship has a tight turn-around time at the end of the cruise. They gave us a late disembarkation time and then proceeded to make up the room while we were still packing up, just moved our stuff out of their way! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
My wife and I took a cruise of the Western Caribbean, on the Nieuw Amsterdam, from December 12 to December 19, 2010. We were in cabin 4178, all the way aft. This is a chronicle of the trip and my review. First, let me say that this ... Read More
My wife and I took a cruise of the Western Caribbean, on the Nieuw Amsterdam, from December 12 to December 19, 2010. We were in cabin 4178, all the way aft. This is a chronicle of the trip and my review. First, let me say that this was our fifth Holland America cruise, so I feel we've become quite accustomed to HAL, and know what to expect. We enjoy HAL's mature, elegant style. It suits us just fine. A little about us: My wife is in her mid-30's, and I am in my early 40's. I am a computer professional, and wife is a social worker. We have no kids, and tend to cruise about twice a year. Day Zero: The Day Before Embarkation We flew into Fort Lauderdale the day before, coming from Arizona, through Houston. Unlike last year, when we sailed out of Fort Lauderdale on our first Caribbean cruise, we were not delayed by weather. Had we come in a day later this year, however, we would have had problems, because the rest of the country got pounded by snow. Obviously, we were not flying from an area the gets snow, though connections often originate in places that do, which can make for delayed or canceled flights. Flying in December is such a risky proposition. Fortunately, this year, we arrived in Fort Lauderdale without incident. One of the first things I should mention is that Holland America will let you bring as much wine as you want on board. We typically bring a case for a week long cruise. It is very difficult to fly across the country with a case of wine, so we ordered it ahead of time from Total Wine, a wine superstore in Fort Lauderdale. If you order over 200 dollars worth, they will deliver it to your hotel for no extra charge, which is exactly what we did. They delivered it the night before we embarked. Day One: Embarkation The next day, we boarded the ship without any problems. I think we arrived at the terminal at around 11:30 am. There was little bit of a line, but not bad. We were on board the ship by noon. Upon boarding the ship, we went straight away to the Mariner's Lunch. This is a lunch they offer in the dining room for previous Holland America customers on embarkation day. It is sooo much better than fighting it out in the Lido, which is always a madhouse on embarkation day. After lunch, our room was ready, so we went there to drop off our stuff. When we got there, our luggage, which we had given to the porters outside, was already there. After unpacking, we headed to the spa. When we got there, they were doing spa tours. We did not take the tour this time, since we'd taken the tour on previous cruises, but instead we went straight to the thermal suite. There, one of the spa workers was signing people up for the week. My wife and I debated it for a couple of minutes: should we or should we not get the thermal suite for the week? We finally said yes, and signed up. Thank God we did, because we would have a lot of time on our hands this cruise, more than we expected (more on this later). I guess I should back up a bit and talk about what the thermal suite is. Basically, in the spa, there is a room with six tile mosaic loungers that are heated and are curved like a human spine. In the center, there are four basins that trickle water, creating a little white noise. They also pipe in soft spa music. You lay there and soak up the heat like a lizard digesting a huge meal on a hot rock, looking out large windows overlooking the empty sea. It is a wonderful thing. Included in the thermal suite package is the hydrotherapy pool. This pool, in a room next door to the thermal suite, is a medium sized pool heated like a spa. In the center is a semi-enclosed ringed area, about the size of a hot tub, with water jets and bubbles. Also, at one end is a lounging area with bubbles. In addition, two large faucet-like spouts jet massive amounts of water. The thermal suite package runs you like 200 bucks per couple for the week, which gives you unlimited access. After signing up for the spa package, we headed out to the sea view bar for the Cruise Critic roll call meet and greet. We hung out there until the muster drill. The muster drill is a required drill where all the passengers must go to their assigned muster stations on the teak deck surrounding the ship on deck three. There, they line people up below life boats. In some cases, they do a roll call, though they did not on this cruise. After the muster drill, my wife and I went back to our room, and opened up some champagne. There, we watched the dock fade away on our private veranda, as we sailed away. Drinking champagne for sail away is our little tradition. Our veranda was on the rear of the ship looking out aft. We've had aft facing rooms before, and love to spend time looking at the wake. The balcony had two chairs, a small round table, about a foot in diameter and a foot tall, and an ottoman. There was enough space on the balcony to lounge in one of the chairs and stretch my legs out on the ottoman. We never felt cramped. That night, for dinner, both my wife and I had prime rib. We brought a bottle of wine from our stash to dinner, as we did most nights, and there was an 18 dollar corkage fee. Our table mates that night would become our friends throughout the cruise. I should note that we had open dining. The reason for this is that eating in the five o'clock hour is way too early for us, and eating after eight is way too late, the two fixed seating options they offer. One thing we missed, though, having open dining was having the same wait staff night after night, who get to know you and your preferences for things. It was a small price to pay, however, to be able to eat when you wanted to. Day Two: Missing Half Moon Cay Half Moon Cay is Holland America's private island. My wife and I had been there before, last year. It has got some of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen -- fine white powder with absolutely no rocks, seaweed, or anything littering it. We awoke the next morning to an announcement from the captain. Seas were too rough to tender to Half Moon Cay. Oh well, I guess we would not make it this year. We were bitterly disappointed. As we spent the morning on our balcony drinking coffee, we could totally see why we could not tender. Seas were very very rough, with foamy white caps everywhere. It was also cold, gray, and very windy. I'm not sure it would have made a great day at the beach anyway. That day, we spent a lot of time in the thermal suite. As relaxing as the thermal suite was, I have two complaints: First, they gave you a robe and slippers to change into before you went into the thermal suite. While the robe I did not have a issue with, the slippers, on the other hand, were the noisiest things on the planet. Every time someone would take a step, it sounded like a bicycle tire deflating. You could never sneak up on anyone in those things. It would not be so bad, except that when you were on one of the loungers, the squish squish sound of someone walking into the room was very distracting. My other complaint is the music they piped in. Now, I do not have problem with spa music in general. However, they only played one song over and over again. We spent so much time in the spa on this trip that if I were to have heard that song just one more time...well, it would not have been pretty. That night, we had dinner with the friends we met at dinner the night before. That is the one thing about these trips: we always befriend the nicest people. If I recall, I had the fillet, medium rare. It was quite excellent. The amount of red meat I ate on this cruise was staggering. Again, we brought our own wine to dinner, and paid corkage. Day Three: Missing Grand Turk We awoke the next morning to another announcement from the captain. Seas were too rough to dock at Grand Turk. Again, we were disappointed. That was two ports in a row we had missed. Coffee that morning on our balcony revealed exactly the same weather as the day before: cold, windy, gray, rough seas. In fact, we joked that we had had a better Caribbean vacation in Alaska the previous May, which was sunny, and in the 70s. We spent another day in the spa, and I was starting to feel a little like Bill Murray in Groundhog's Day. That afternoon, to break up the monotony a bit, I went to an art lecture. Backing up a bit: Years ago, we had attended an art auction when they were still held by Park West. Park West ran into a bit of trouble and has since been abandoned by Holland America. There is a new company doing it now. This company does art lectures throughout the week about some of the artists they feature during the auction held later in the cruise. I was afraid to go to it, thinking it would be a sales pitch. As it turned out, that was exactly what it was. It was not a total loss though. They did give a bit of history about the artist and showed slides of his work before they tried to sell you his paintings, which I did enjoy. This cruise, they featured the art of Peter Max, a pop artist from the 60s and 70s, famous for his colorful depictions of the Statue of Liberty, among other things. That evening, we went to Caneletto, the Italian restaurant on board. My wife had chicken Marsala, and I had the veal. Rather than bring wine from our collection and pay corkage again, we shared a bottle of the house Primativo wine, which was okay for wine that was under 25 bucks. The meal was excellent. We really enjoyed it. That night, we went to the show. Now, I should talk a little bit about entertainment on a cruise ship. What I find is that funny is better serious. What I mean is this: Funny is funny when it is funny, no matter what. Serious, on the other hand, is very hard to pull off on a cruise ship. There is simply not the resources to do a big production. Often, it comes off as amateurish and campy. With that said, the Nieuw Amsterdam has one of the coolest stages I've seen at sea. There are platforms that move up and down, and a giant turntable that spins around slowly in the center of the stage. The stage was very active and moving. This made the shows -- even serious shows -- seem to have a more professional production value. The show we saw that night was a singing group of four guys in their 20s. They did a mix of music from the Beach Boys to Queen as the stage moved about them. And you know what? I LIKED IT! Day Four: Sea Day...Again This day was another sea day, and like the days before it, we spent a lot of time in the spa. We also went to another lecture, this time about pirates in the Caribbean. That night, we ate dinner in Tamarind, an Asian restaurant on board. I had the sushi, pho, and red curry, all of which were excellent. The sushi was fresh, as sushi should be. The pho was a little weird for pho, since it had coconut milk in it and pho typically does not. The red curry was kind of a Thai thing, and was quite awesome, with just the right amount of spice. We brought a bottle of unoaked Chardonnay, which paired nicely with the meal. One thing I should point out is that next to Tamarind is one of the coolest bars on the ship, called the Silk Den. In there, they had booths canopied in silk drapery. They also had a selection of Asian beers, if that is your thing. There is something that I should mention about this cruise, and I guess that this is as good a place as any to talk about it. In fact, this will no doubt be the most controversial part of this review. Holland America has a reputation for catering to older folks. In fact, some people will not cruise Holland America, calling it a "nursing home at sea." In our past four Holland America cruises, we have not found that to be the case. Granted, one thing it has never been is a party ship for drunk college kids, thank God. However, there have always been a good mix of people, ranging from professionals, to families, to retirees. I think that HAL gets this reputation because it is mature and elegant rather than gaudy and glitzy. There are no belly flop or hairy chest contests. It is about fine dining, wine tasting, chamber music, and ballroom dancing to soft standards. With that, though, we have always found people in our peer group, being young professionals in our 30s and 40s. We have never felt like it was a nursing home at sea... ...UNTIL THIS CRUISE. I don't know what it was about this trip. We really felt like people were 30 to 50 years our senior, with very few in our age group. What was amazing was the amount of frail, ancient people there were roaming the halls. For instance, the day we boarded, there was a hunched over man that must have been 80 or 90 roaming the halls by himself, deck four, aft, mumbling something about not finding the pursers desk, completely lost. He did not seem entirely lucid. This first thing I thought was, "maybe we should call someone!" Another time, we were in the Ocean Bar in the evening, where a Jazz trio played soft standards as people danced the Fox Trot. One particular gentleman -- again, must have been 90, a waif of a man -- was showing his moves to the music, but looking unsteady and frail. He took a nasty spill on the dance floor, falling flat on his back. I thought, "maybe we should call someone!" Yet another time, in the spa's thermal suite, while I was laying on one of the heated, hard tile loungers, an ancient gentleman came in, hunched over, slow and shuffling, and tried to lay on the lounger next to mine. As he attempted to climb up on the thing, he was unstable and out of breath. When he finally laid down, after taking about five, ten minutes to try and situate himself, he was breathing hard, coughing and moaning, putting pressure on his chest with two fingers. I thought he was going to have a heart attack and die right there. I kept thinking, "maybe we should call somebody!" This cruise was full of wheelchairs and walkers, the hobbling and the humpbacked. It was the first time I felt like I was in a nursing home at sea. Day Five: Grand Cayman Morning came on day five, and we were very worried. We waited and waited for the dreaded announcement about not being able to tender to Grand Cayman. However, that announcement never came. The announcement that came instead was about how to get tender tickets to get off the ship. Thank God! We were definitely getting cabin fever after four days at sea. Out on our balcony, we also saw something for the first time that we had not seen the whole trip: the sun! The way the tendering process worked was that you had to pick up your tender ticket at the Queens Lounge. That ticket had a number on it, and you had to wait for your number to be called to head to Deck A, where the tenders met the ship. We had a shore excursion planned at 10:30 am, so we waited until 9:30 am to get our ticket, waiting for the crowds to dissipate. We waited so long, however, that I was worried that we would not make it, as waiting in line for the tender can take some time. Then, after boarding, the tender has to reach shore, which can take even more time. In fact, the whole tendering process can take a while, so you really have to plan ahead. My fears were unfounded, and we reached shore with plenty of time to make our shore excursion. I should also mention that we almost never book our shore excursions through the ship. We tend to book privately. That way, the excursions are better priced, and tend to be in smaller groups, though there is a risk that if you do not make it back to the ship in time, it will leave without you. The excursion we had planned was to take a wave runner out to a ship wreck and go snorkeling. When we arrived at the meeting spot, however, we were told that the wreck site had zero visibility due to the previous night's storm. As a result, we had a change in destination, stingray city. My wife was not real happy about that because she is not real fond of stingrays. We decided to go anyway. The excursion itself consisted of five wave runners -- two-seaters -- including the leaders' wave runner. They took us out many miles to stingray city, a shallow, sandy area where you could stand on the bottom that was abundant with large stingrays, hence the name. The stingrays were quite tame. We were able to touch and hold them, without fear of being stung. My wife, however, would not get in the water, as she was terrified of them. She stayed on the wave runner. After that, they took out to a nearby reef to do some snorkeling. On the way back, one of the wave runners broke down and had to be towed in by another wave runner. That slowed us down considerably, and we got back on land quite late. To make matters worse, the traffic in town getting back to the tenders was quite slow. There were like eight ships in port that day, and it seemed that there was a mad dash for everyone to get back to their respective ships before they left. We made it with time to spare, though, and that was what counted. Day Six: Costa Maya Day six began like most days, having coffee on our balcony. As we drank our coffee, we watched the ship dock at port. They then announced that we were cleared to exit the ship -- no tendering required this day, thank God. On this day, we had another excursion planned. We were going to visit the Chacchoben Mayan ruins. After exiting the ship, and weaving our way through the shopping area that has grown up at the port, we found the shuttle area. That shuttle took us to our excursion office where we paid the remainder of our fee. They then loaded about 20 of us into two large vans. The vans drove about an hour to the ruins. We had a guide at the ruins that took us through the jungle to see three pyramids, and other wrecked buildings that used to be a Mayan residential area. At each stop, the guide would talk a little bit about what we were seeing, and then gave us some time to take pictures. At the ruins, they had the steps on the pyramids roped off at a certain height. You could only climb about five steps until you met the ropes. All in all, the tour took about three hours, an hour to get there, an hour there, and an hour back. Back at the port, we had time enough to have a drink in the shopping area next to the ships -- well, a couple of drinks really. Okay, it was tequila and cheap beer that did us in. What could we do? We were in Mexico, right? To be honest, we were quite lubricated when we got back on the ship. After sleeping it off for a couple of hours, we dressed for dinner. That night was a formal night. One thing that I have not touched on throughout this review is the ship itself. The Nieuw Amsterdam is a brand new ship. The theme of the ship is New York, and there was New York decor throughout the ship. There was a giant metal apple sculpture. There was an upside-down New York City skyline chandelier hanging from the ceiling of the atrium, spinning slowly. In the Lido, there were also posters of Marylin Monroe and Andy Warhol. There were also some things that seemed out of place. For instance, there was a small poster in the Lido of modern icons like Lady Gaga, and District 9. When I think of Holland America, I do not think of trendy, here today, gone tomorrow things. I think classy, timeless decor. I certainly don't think of Lady Gaga or District 9. That seemed weird to me. One thing they did do nicely is decorate for the holidays. There were Christmas trees everywhere. In the Explorers Lounge, there was a giant gingerbread house. There were also wreaths on every stateroom door. Day Seven: Sea Day The last day on board is always a sad day. You spend a lot of time reflecting on the trip. It had been a weird one with all the missed ports. However, it still was a good time, and we were going to miss being on the ship. This day, they had scheduled an event for people to get together and tell travel stories. That is the one thing we've found on HAL ships, that most people we've met are very well traveled. We were excited to hear the stories. When we arrived in the Explorers Lounge, where it was to be held, however, there were chairs set up, but nobody in them. Eventually, the ship's travel guide showed up. After talking to him, he said that it could be hit or miss. Sometimes it was a packed house for these things, and sometimes not. Since nobody was there, we spent some time talking with him one on one. He showed us some pictures of the places he'd been on his laptop computer. We talked about about some of our own travel adventures. Regardless of the fact that nobody else was there, it was still actually quite enjoyable. Later in the day, we took the behind the scenes kitchen tour. We also went to another lecture, this time on Ernest Hemingway, and his time in the Caribbean. That rounded out our day. We had dinner early that night in the Pinnacle Grill, the on board steak restaurant. Both my wife and I had ribeyes, medium rare. They were cooked perfectly. The service was excellent. I would recommend that to anyone. We, of course, brought our very last bottle of wine to dinner. Later that night we went to the show, left the show early, and headed back to the room. We put our luggage out to be picked up, and filled out our room service breakfast card for the last time and hung it on the door. I should note something at this point. Every morning on this cruise, and past cruises, we ordered breakfast to be delivered to our room, using the little breakfast cards they provided. That knock at the door was how we woke up in the morning. On past HAL cruises, though, we had had terrible times with room service, which is funny for a cruise line that prides itself on service. Though almost always on time, often, they would mess up the order, adding things that you did not order, and missing things you did order. On this ship, however, we had not run into the same issues. Every day, the order was right, except for maybe once (on the first morning, they had missed the bacon or something I had ordered). That night, we reflected on how they had really tried to improve their service. Little did we know, they would drop the ball in a serious way the next morning. Day Eight: Disembarkation On the last morning on board the ship, that little knock at the door never came. We woke up eventually anyway, and waited and waited. Eventually, 20 minutes after breakfast was supposed to be delivered, we called. It was not coming; somehow, they had lost the breakfast card we had put out the night before. There would be no breakfast, no coffee on our balcony one last time. We would have to fight it out in the Lido, which was always a madhouse on disembarkation day. At breakfast, they began calling out numbers and colors. It was the number and color of your luggage tags that indicated that it was your time to get off the ship. "Red and green number one." We were in the first group to be called because we had a shore excursion planned. We found our luggage and went through customs, no problem. Outside the terminal, they ushered us to a large bus for our excursion. This was one of the few excursions we booked through the cruise line. Since we had some time before our flight left to take us back to Arizona, we decided to take an air boat ride through the Everglades. The bus took us to a dock next to the water of the Everglades. There, perhaps five air boats were waiting, which held about 12 or so people a piece. They took us on a half hour tour of the everglades, navigating the water between saw-grass patches. It was cold and gray, so unfortunately we did not see any alligators out on the water, though they did have some alligators, crocodiles, snakes, and other creatures in pens back on shore. After that, we had a long flight home back to Arizona, arriving about 11 o'clock at night. And, just like that, the trip was over. We were home. Postscript: Reflecting on the Trip As I mentioned above, it was a weird trip. It was almost like it was two separate trips, one where it was gray and overcast and where we were trapped on the ship, and one that was sunny and full of adventure, the way a Caribbean vacation should be. Obviously, missing ports was not ideal. We totally understood, and accepted the situation, but we were still disappointed. The last half of the trip made up for it, though. I should note that Holland America also tried to make amends for the missed ports. They offered a credit on our next cruise equivalent to 15 percent of what we paid for this one. I think that if I were to pick out one thing that really stood out on this cruise, it was the food. I did not have a single bad meal on the ship. From the dining room, to Caneletto, to Tamarind, to the Pinnacle Grill, it was all excellent. Whether is was a sunny day or gray day, whether it was a port day or we were stuck at sea, it did not matter; the food was always good. All in all, we had a good time. Holland America is our preferred cruise line, and we will stick with them. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2010
First the good: beds excellent, desserts superb (including the bread pudding), Adagio Quartet in the Explorer Lounge every night. BUT: ship has design flaws. The glass and chromium Atrium serves no purpose; just a big hole in the ... Read More
First the good: beds excellent, desserts superb (including the bread pudding), Adagio Quartet in the Explorer Lounge every night. BUT: ship has design flaws. The glass and chromium Atrium serves no purpose; just a big hole in the middle of the ship. Inadequate storage in the cabin closets. Some restrooms virtually invisible through lack of illumination. Columns obstruct some views in theater )now called a Show Room.) And too many blocked toilets and other problems for a new ship. We found the food lacking in taste except for the soups - someone should take away the chef's salt, pepper and spices when he makes them. However, we should note that most of those we spoke to liked the food. We did not try the specialty resturants as they give you too much food. Quality of ingredients good. Evening entertainent was very good, except for one night when the theater showed nothing. During the day there was not much going on; of course most passengers went ashore, but it may also be due to the Cruise Director being a one man band. As the weather was oftenpoor this may have affected more tha just us. Finally, this is the first time we have ever found our cabin stewards lacking. On several occasions we left the cabin early, and found it unmade up at noon. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2010
Flight: Air Tran both ways. Hint, upgrade to first (business) class if you can, that way 4 bags without paying and free booze on plane.(Comes out costing within ten dollars of coach with no booze and paying for bags) Hotel: ... Read More
Flight: Air Tran both ways. Hint, upgrade to first (business) class if you can, that way 4 bags without paying and free booze on plane.(Comes out costing within ten dollars of coach with no booze and paying for bags) Hotel: Renaissance Hotel, it's a beautiful hotel, great bar, clean and modern rooms. Close to ship port. Embarkation: No problems, quite smooth, no complaints. Food: The food in the main dining room was consistently great. Unlike other cruise lines I've been on the entrees were never overpowered by the spices in the dish. The spices were there, but complimented the natural flavors well. Deserts were fantastic and the appetizers were also. I highly recommend Tamarind, the service was super, the dinner china was unique, and the food was not only interesting but also flavorful, and overall it was a great dining experience. The Explorers cafe had good coffee and snacks but could have a larger selection of pastries and finger food like the Princess line's international cafe. As far as the Lido, we didn't eat there much because the main dining room food was so much better and the no tray, no self serve style buffet wasn't to our liking. HAL should be given kudos for their room service, it is by far the best on any cruise I've been. Ship: The ship is a strange mixture of styles. While the central theme is Nieuw Amsterdam (New York) it really didn't come across as any coherent interior design plan, having none of the old world charm of the Princess ships, or the Vegas glitz of some of the Royal Caribbean ships. I wish instead of a so called "New York" style or theme they had picked a real style, art deco, post modern, craftsman, and carried the theme through the whole ship. The atrium is not grand and really didn't serve as a central meeting place or get together hang out as it does on most ships. The best designed rooms I feel were the culinary arts center, the crow's nest and the library. The quality of materials seemed strange also for a premium cruise lines. The carpet was chintzy, the corridor walls a strange mixture of dark brown paneling that reflected the colors on the floor making them look purple and the pictures on the walls which were mass market looking. I mentioned it to my wife that the interior and common areas could best be described as "efficient and inexpensive pre-packaging" almost modular looking in nature. Nothing really shouted out premium as far as dEcor was concerned. Room: We had a Superior Verandah Suite and it was marvelous, spacious, laid out well, bathroom was fantastic, and the suite was just a joy to stay in. I slipped up one night and said to my wife, "It's getting late lets head back to the apartment" that's how nice it was. We are now officially spoiled by that room. Staff: Our room staff was consistently punctual, polite and helpful. The staff in the main dining room, except for the last night, was attentive and pleasant. The bartenders in the crow's nest were outstanding. One of the things we noticed that by the fifth day was we knew more about the ships areas then some of the crew. We were given wrong directions about 8-10 different times. Entertainment: The New York City review was good. My wife thought they were lip synching but I couldn't tell. The Magician was marvelous and I'd pay to see him again. The string quartet was good. The piano bar and crow's nest performers were ok, just not my cup of tea. The ships entertainment director needs to be more involved and visible. Likes: I loved the cabanas, what a wonderful idea. I loved the cleanliness of the ship and the efficiency and courtesy of the crew. The suite has us spoiled. The food in the main dining room was fabulous. The shows were fine. The drinks were well made. The pub crawl was outrageous fun. The cruise critic meet and greet was the best I've ever attended and HAL's support of it should be commended. Room service is a home run. The beds were great also the best I've seen on cruise. I loved how you were not bothered 24/7 by someone on the ship either hawking products or trying to sell you something. The announcements weren't going on all day and night like some ships I've been on and weren't intrusive. Dislikes: The SEC championship game was being played but yet we couldn't get it on our ship due to "reception problems". After leaving the sports bar to go back to my room to watch the Oregon/ Oregon State game, I noticed that the channel it should have been on said "CAR blacked out" After we arrived back at Ft Lauderdale I found out the other ships in the area had the game but not us. What is up with that, 24/7 boring soccer but no SEC Championship? How many obnoxious people does it take to ruin a cruise? Well any more then 1 is one too many. My wife was pushed and told to get out of my way b---- by someone and quite a few of the guests were rude to the staff. We also ran into some haughty people at dinner. I guess if traditional cruising means you have to act like you are better than people and rude I'd rather go back to non-traditional cruising. Ports: I'll keep this short, we've cruised long enough that shopping doesn't sway our port opinion, Half Moon Cays was good, Turks and Caicos ok, Grand Cayman with its body surfing height waves on 7 mile beach, fantastic and Costa Maya with our get away to Maya Chan resort, great. Disembarkation: The best I've seen. Having us stay in room till called to depart made it so easy, another great HAL idea. In summation: This cruise didn't live up to my expectations. While I had a wonderful cruise, it was more due to my fantastic wife, great suite, and fantastic food in the main dining room and less to do with the ships design and Holland Americas cruising philosophy. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
We have just completed the Nieuw Amsterdam's maiden transatlantic voyage from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale. We are veteran cruisers with about two dozen sailings behind us, about a third of them transatlantic. The boarding process in ... Read More
We have just completed the Nieuw Amsterdam's maiden transatlantic voyage from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale. We are veteran cruisers with about two dozen sailings behind us, about a third of them transatlantic. The boarding process in Barcelona was perhaps the smoothest we've ever encountered and our first impression of the ship was equally favorable. However, as we tried to fall asleep in our cabin on the first night, we kept hearing loud thumping sounds every few seconds, as if a solid steel telephone pole rammed into our cabin and made the walls resonate and vibrate. Even the ice bucket shook with each impact. We called Guest Relations (GR), and a staff member appeared at our cabin a little after midnight and confirmed that the noise we were hearing was from the metal structures outside our cabin. He offered no help other than to explain that the noise is prevalent on decks 5 through 8. We got dressed and went to the GR desk where we complained that the noise was so thunderous that even music from an I-Pod at maximum volume through noise cancelling headphones could not mask it (we were desperate for sleep at this point). The GR people smiled and offered us...ear plugs. How nice of them! The noise finally subsided after 3 AM. The next morning we met with a GR supervisor who insisted that such noises are normal on a ship because a ship's structure must be able to bend back and forth. We protested that we had never heard any such noise on more than twenty ships we have sailed on before, but she remained adamant and largely unsympathetic to our plight. She added that the noise travels throughout the ship and one never knows where it will strike next. She also advised us that there were no other available cabins on the entire ship. We appealed in writing to the captain for some relief from the prospect of spending three weeks with intolerably loud banging in the cabin. He wrote back immediately and made arrangements to move us to another cabin on deck 4 midship which turned out to be wonderfully quiet. We expressed our deep gratitude to Captain Mercer, a charismatic and utterly gracious Brit who was a consummate professional throughout the cruise. We did hear the noise in other parts of the ship from time to time, but not in our new cabin. Once "Thumper" (as my wife nicknamed the Big Noise) no longer kept us awake, we were able to enjoy the beautiful new ship. Other than colors and motif, it is virtually identical to the Eurodam (on which we sailed in 2008). The food was generally excellent, though desserts are probably the weak point of the Nieuw Amsterdam's culinary team---not necessarily a bad thing when calories from all the other superb dishes pile up on waistlines faster than you can see them coming! Our visit one night to the Pinnacle Grill for dinner was an extraordinary treat--the best premium onboard restaurant in our judgment. The beef surpassed any we had ever had at such steakhouses as Morton's or Ruth's Chris steakhouses. The ship boasts a culinary center where chefs from the various dining venues and the ever charming and talented "party planner" Ashley present lots of demonstrations. Pinnacle Grill chef Brendan Whitaker was a particularly talented presenter. He also possesses an exceptional sense of humor that makes his culinary demonstrations a double treat. Also on board, there are numerous FREE "Digital Workshop" classes every day that are both informative and useful. The ship's gorgeous theatre presented shows on most evenings and films on other nights. The resident male singers in the shows had surprisingly good voices. The shows themselves were just song and dance routines with minimalist sets (except for the last show) that lacked the cohesion of a story line that usually binds the music together. The itinerant entertainers were generally good, some excellent, others mediocre. We had heard that Internet reception is an exercise in frustration on the ship, but even our diminished expectations were disappointed. On our previous cruise, 28 days on the Star Princess, we had learned the idiosyncrasies on Internet signals on a ship. On the Nieuw Amsterdam, the pace of transmission would frustrate a snail. On many occasions, the signal would just die as we began the session and we lost dozens of minutes (at a cost of 40 to 75 cents each) to such erratic failures. The obvious problem appears to be inadequate bandwidth since the signal becomes considerably faster during the night when virtually nobody is using the system (a good thing to know in case Thumper should keep you awake at 2 AM). On a positive note, HAL makes the NY Times available on line at no charge--which was great on our cruise especially when we were out of satellite range for any news programs for several days. The second half of the voyage was marred by an outbreak of gastrointestinal disease which necessitated a "code red" set of measures. We were all the more puzzled that moderate sanitary measures (code orange) had been in place for the first three days of our cruise, but were relaxed on the fourth day. One must wonder whether keeping code orange would have prevented the need to impose code red measures. Towards the end of the cruise, HAL's Mariners Society members were invited to a brunch. Even though we are members (as are all previous HAL guests), we were not invited. We inquired and we soon received an invitation for a reception and lunch the following day. When we arrived, the Mariners Society staff member advised us that the invitation had been sent in error and we could not attend. Thus HAL managed to offend us not once but twice, first by failing to invite us altogether and then inviting us to another reception but barring us at the door in front of other passengers. After a few minutes, we were finally admitted. We were not the only ones HAL slighted. At the reception, passengers were recognized for their status with HAL, but about a dozen of their most loyal past cruisers had to raise their hands at the end and ask why they were not called up before the cruise director finally acknowledged them along with the others. Things degenerated further. Following the recognition snafu, we were ushered to the downstairs dining room which was packed with hundreds of Mariner Society members who had been all invited for the same lunch, though there was an insufficient number of tables set up and servers assigned to work the event. We heard various explanations that confirmed that the dining room staff had been advised to expect about 400 HAL veterans but more than twice as many were somehow invited. The waiters worked with incredible diligence setting up extra tables and dealing with the huge crowd, but were unable to cope with the inexplicably bad organization of the luncheon. Guest Relations (aka the Front Office) which ran the disastrous Mariners Society reception surely could use some training and supervision in several areas. Measured against the impressive performance of other staff on the ship, the Front Office people proved to be remarkably inept on several occasions. We had to call a billing error to their attention repeatedly ("Oh, yes. We will look into the problem" seems to be their pat response) before it was corrected. Passengers were also promised account statements by 5:30 AM on the day of disembarkation in Florida. We had to leave the ship at 7 AM without having received one(and we didn't see a single statement outside any cabin between 6 am and 7 am). The unfailingly polite Front Office staff must urgently get its act together. While we certainly have less favorable an opinion of HAL at the end of the cruise than we had at the beginning, we can still recommend the Nieuw Amsterdam, especially if Captain Mercer is in command. If you choose to sail on the Nieuw Amsterdam, we would encourage you to book cabins on the lower decks midship since upper-floor cabins are prone to Thumper's visit--unless you don't mind playing Russian roulette with your sleep! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
Arrived in Barcelona 2 days before the cruise and stayed at the Hotel Universal. 4* property and properly rated, excellent staff, great breakfast buffet, terrific location (metro and bus stops in front of the hotel, 1/2 mile to Las Ramblas ... Read More
Arrived in Barcelona 2 days before the cruise and stayed at the Hotel Universal. 4* property and properly rated, excellent staff, great breakfast buffet, terrific location (metro and bus stops in front of the hotel, 1/2 mile to Las Ramblas and 3/4 mile to the port.) great rooms, free internet, nice bar, roof top pool and terrace, the complete package. Barcelona the city is interesting but over-rated, great history, terrific restaurants, good public transportation, but petty crime is a major problem. Embarking at 12:30 was a breeze and staterooms were available upon boarding. Luggage arrived before 2:00. Beautiful new ship in perfect condition. Loved the decor and extensive art work. Others have been critical, but we thought it was well done, tasteful, understated and set the tone we were looking for. The stateroom, a VD had plenty of storage space, was well laid out, nice use of color, wonderful bed and deep veranda. Temperature controls worked well. We had 2 excellent stewards (Irwan and Abdul), no issues the entire 20 days. Won't spend any time on the ports, all interesting in their own way, no negative issues. Liked Valencia and Lisbon by far the best, others will have a different perspective. The staff in every area met or exceeded our expectations. Although we were in open dining we had the same table in the MDR each night and the 2 guys (Kerti and Pande) were perfect. The bar staff knew us after a couple of days and were always on the case. The issue that really put a damper on this cruise was the Code Red the last 12 days. (9 of them sea days) A complete pain. This greatly impacted our enjoyment. The Spa was closed, no hydro-pool, no hot tubs, steam/sauna rooms closed, library closed etc. The Lido restaurant was a complete foul-up. Never had a hot meal because of the congestion, multi-station trips for silverware, beverages, everything being hand served by staff, over-crowding, just poor in every area. We could never get out of Code Red, the staff worked long hours cleaning everyday but the cases kept piling up. The senior management staff on the ship starting with the Captain did a poor job of communication, gave false information, failed to enforce the rules of containment and became invisible near the end of the cruise. This cruise had the potential to be a "10" ended up being a "7". Will we sail HAL again, yes, but not short-term. Far too many of their cruises go into Code Red, they need to figure out why and correct the causes. I know that Noro/GI is common in the general population, but this was one sick ship with 200+ passengers confined to their staterooms and at least that many more with acute cold like symptoms. We did not get sick by the way, no colds and no other problems. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
We boarded the Nieuw Amsterdam in Venice for a one-night port stay, which turned into two nights. Venice streets were basically under water from the high fall tides and nobody wanted to go back into the streets again so most just stayed ... Read More
We boarded the Nieuw Amsterdam in Venice for a one-night port stay, which turned into two nights. Venice streets were basically under water from the high fall tides and nobody wanted to go back into the streets again so most just stayed on-board the extra night. The Captain announced at our sail-away party that a navigation circuit board had failed and since they cost $15,000 each they are not on-the-shelf. A German company vendor was contacted to make a new one and fly an engineer to Venice with the board. By now, all the passengers were making book on whether we would sail at all. Others were reviewing their cruise insurance documents. The board was delivered, installed and tested and we left - however the Captain said we would have to miss our first port of call - Spilt, Croatia. However he rewarded us with one glass of free wine and our account would be credited with the unspent port tax - $5.50 per person. An important, and well anticipated port, should have valued much more than a glass of wine. The rest of the cruise was lovely. Lots of great late summer weather and calm seas. The new ship is lovely and the service superb. The beds were new and we slept like logs. We ate in the Manhatten Dining room most of the time. It was our 45th Anniversary celebration with another couple from Wisconsin. We wanted to try the specialy resturants, but wanted to view them before making reservations. In each case - Pinnacle Grill, Tamarind, Canaletto - the maitre d'hotel graciously and with all smiles reported that the tables were all booked. We tried phone reservations but all we could get was a voice message saying they were busy with other customers. We finally got a reservation at the Pinnacle Grill for the last night of the cruise. We overheard the next table commenting that they had eaten in the Pinnacle 6 times. We kept going to the Tamarind reservations desk and finally got in at a 9:30 pm reservation. When we got there half the resturant was empty. Both restaurants were excellent and well appreciated. But we could never get into the Caneletto the entire 12 days. I suppose we could have booked prior to the cruise on the internet but until we saw the restaurant we hesitated. I have a feeling most of the reservations that were made prior to the cruise never showed up at dinner and thus the empty tables. A ship-wide reservation system needs to be put in place. During the cruise - about day 6, a number of people were experiencing some sort of sickness. We heard over 40 were sickened from something and the ship quickly put a sick alert system in place. Every available waiter was stationed at every doorway into a food serving area and squirted Purell alcohol solutions on everyone. All food had to be handled by the waiter. No more china salt and pepper shakers - only paper packets on request. No more butter dishes on the table or sauce bottles. No more bread baskets to pass. 'Everything was handled by a server. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
12 Night Med Tapestry/Nieuw Amsterdam Sept 12 -- 24, 2010 We are a 40ish married couple who traveled with my mother and aunt, on our first trip to Europe. We chose this cruise mainly for the itinerary. My husband and I have traveled ... Read More
12 Night Med Tapestry/Nieuw Amsterdam Sept 12 -- 24, 2010 We are a 40ish married couple who traveled with my mother and aunt, on our first trip to Europe. We chose this cruise mainly for the itinerary. My husband and I have traveled extensively through the US and Caribbean. Flew Delta JFK to Barcelona on 9/10, spent one night at the Hesperia Ramblas hotel. Highly recommend it, one block off the main street, paid 125E (booked on their website a few months before) for a very nice room. We were able to check in at 2pm, so after trip from the airport (landed at 8am, we were able to get all 4 of us and luggage into the cab), we did the hop-on-hop-off bus tour for about 5 hours. Returned to the hotel, checked in and napped until 7ish, then had a great dinner and turned in around 11pm. We did not sleep well on the plane, but after this routine and sleeping almost 11 hrs the first night, we were well adjusted and had no problems going forward. Next morning my husband and I did a 4 mile run prior to checking out and heading to the ship. It was tough to get a cab at 12 noon, so our recommendation is if you have time, the hotel was offering a late checkout for 20E or let them hold your luggage and wait till around 2pm to head to the port. It is only a 4 mile ride, which took close to 45 minutes, because of gridlock. We also had to send my mom and aunt in a separate cab, so we paid twice as much (I believe it was close to 35E with tip). Wait a couple hours and save yourself time, money and aggravation. The entire city was trying to get to the port at the same time. Check in was a breeze, we were on the ship, in our cabin in less than a ½ hour. Cabin 4185, off the stern one in from the corner. Beautiful cabin, nice balcony although not bigger than others that we have had on other ships. Ship : - Being brand new the ship is beautiful and kept in great shape. We were happy with the smaller size, since we have been on Royal, Princess etc., that are carrying 3,000 and more passengers. - Food was excellent; we did anytime dining and never had to wait for a table. Lido buffet was just as good and served the same dishes as the main dining room. Our only issue with the Lido were the hours weren't long enough. Breakfast ends at 10:30am and dinner goes only from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. We are late risers when possible and the Lido definitely needs to be open at least until 9pm for dinner. Main dining goes until 9:30pm but some nights we just didn't feel like the whole production of dinner. Also, we saw jeans in the main dining room frequently as well as on the formal evenings, men with no jackets and ties. So, don't fret so much over what to bring to wear. No one was being turned away. Didn't see shorts, but especially towards the end of the cruise, people with jeans and even flip flops on casual nights. Pinnacle Grill was fabulous; we had a free dinner there from our travel agent. Would have been worth the $25 charge if we didn't. - Entertainment was good, we aren't big on the production shows, but mom and aunt loved them. Guitarist Matt Murphy in the Crow's Nest was a highlight each night, we enjoyed him very much. The entertainment is definitely geared to the older traveler, but we picked this cruise for the itinerary foremost, so we were ok with it. After the 10:15pm show there is not much going on. - Internet is horrendous which is not news to you if you've been reading other reviews. $55 for 100 minutes, ½ of which we spent waiting to log in or log off. Do yourself a favor and wait to go to an internet cafe off the ship. - Casino is very nice, it's small but we never waited for a seat at a table. Dealers were all very nice and it was enjoyable to go there after dinner each night. Ports: Barcelona: We overnighted here before the cruise started and then spent one night on the ship here as well. Loved the city, very easy to get around walking or on the buses. People very friendly, we went through the Olympic park, rode the cable car and walked into the stadium from the Olympics. A lot of hill walking which was good for walking off the tapas and sangria dinner! Monte Carlo: We did a DIY here. We arrived in port at 10am, but they only allowed DIY people on the tenders for the first hour. After that time they switched to tours, which unfortunately pushed our get off time to 1:30pm. We were not happy that it was a 3 hr delay for us to get off. Luckily it was a long day in port until 10pm. I suggest at the first mention of tender tickets you get down there and get them if you are getting off on your own. Also, I found 2 tender tickets in my bag, marked group 8, so if you email me I will mail them to you! (see my info at the end). They made it through about 1-18 on the tender tickets, then switched to groups. Also, if you are doing a walking tour on your own, start at the Palace side of town and end on the casino side. We started at the casino, but would have preferred to see it in the dark all lit up. By the time we walked across town and did the palace etc, we didn't have time to go back. Side note on the casino: prior to 6pm, people were going in with shorts/sneakers etc, you did not need to be dressed. My husband and I had researched it prior as well as the ship's info was that men needed long pants and shoes and women needed to be smart casual prior to 6pm. That's not the case. All the tours went there and people were in shorts/sneakers/tshirts. After 6pm, I'm not sure of the dress code changes, but we were slightly annoyed that I was in a sundress and my husband in long pants on a hot day. 10E gets you into the casino. There were a couple of roulette tables open (Min 10E) and 1 Blackjack table open (Min 25E). My guess is the majority of the tables and rooms do not open until the evening hours. There were several slot machines open. Livorno, Italy: (Pisa/Florence): Having never been to Pisa, we decided to go only here, not on to Florence. DIY again, ships' shuttle to the main square then walk one block up to the main road, cross over and wait for the #1 bus heading to the train station. Took the train one stop to Pisa (approx. 20 minutes). I had purchased tickets to climb the Pisa tower prior to the trip (at least 45 days out, but not any closer than 15 days). We climbed to the top (highly recommend) and then had a pizza lunch at a little cafe on the side street. Four of us cost 58E for lunch. Took the train back, but when arrived at the station, found that the bus was no longer running and there were no taxis anywhere. We had 1 ' hours to spare and our group of 4 grew to about 10 as we saw others from the ship in the same predicament. We still don't know why the transportation was not there, but we hoofed it back to the shuttle site (about 2-2.25 miles) in about ½ an hour. Just made for a little bit of aggravation after a wonderful day in Pisa. Rome, Italy: Arranged for a private tour for the 4 of us prior to the trip with Rome In Limo. Was cheaper than the ship's excursion and we didn't wait for 50 people to get on and off the buses. We saw the Coliseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon and Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica. It was a whirlwind but we saw all the highlights. 500E for the car/driver for the day for the 4 of us, picked us up at 8pm we were back at the ship at 5:45pm. I also had bought tickets for the Vatican prior to the trip. This saved us again from having to stand in line. Messina,Italy: We made this a rest day, after a 6 mile run along the waterfront. We were tired from Rome the day before and it was a sunny, warm day, so we lounged by the pool while everyone else was out! Nafplion, Greece: Small town, very easy to walk around yourself. We followed the promenade around to the right about ½ hr easy walk which lead us to the beach. This is not a sand beach, it's rocky and also has the ladders right into the water. It was again sunny and hot and the water was chilly but crystal clear. It was Sunday so a lot of locals relaxing as well. After an hour here, we walked back through town. There is a fort at the top of the hill, about 1,000 steps up. My mom and I walked up about ½ way, beautiful views. There's a 4E charge at the top, make sure you have money to get in. Back by the ship's tenders there is a little train that takes you on a 20 minute tour for 5E I think it was. Nice way to see the town. Unless you are looking to go outside of the town, you can DIY. Katakalon, Greece : This is the only stop we did the ship's tour to Olympia. We had a good tour guide, but the Olympic site really does not have a lot of ruins in any type of formation. At least in Rome there was structure, here there was a lot of imagination needed! Needless to say it was a beautiful day again and I can say that we have been here. Corfu, Greece: DIY beach day. We rented a car at the terminal at 60E for the day. Drove to Glyfada beach across the island. Rental guy says 20 minute drive, but prior research told me otherwise. It's 45 minutes. Also a lot of people are saying you don't need a map, etc. Yes it's easy driving, but luckily we had my husband's blackberry GPS for the ride back. We did get lost and the map was of no help. Also found that a lot of people didn't speak English, so harder to communicate. Make sure you leave enough time for making a wrong turn and pad the time that the rental guy gives you. Otherwise, nice few hours resting at the beach, rented chairs and umbrellas for 7E each and there were nice tavernas with food and drink right there. Dubrovnik, Croatia: DIY, walked the 2 miles (uphill the whole way) from the ship to the Old City. It's a nice walk did take about 35 minutes. Did the city wall walk all the way around (1mile total), beautiful views, good workout! 10E for entrance fees, no problem using euros. Milled around the Old town, had gelato (also took euros) so we never needed to get kunas. One of my favorite ports, not enough time there. Took the ships shuttle back, picked it up right in the little circle at the Pile gate. They were charging $7.50 each way, but since we walked over, no one ever asked for a ticket back and we got a free ride ? Venice, Italy: 15 minute walk from the ship to the People Mover (1E for the 3 minute ride to LaPiazzle Roma) DIY, walked via the Rialto Bridge to St. Mark's Square. Had lunch sitting on the Grand Canal, 60E for the 4 of us. Went up in the Campanile (10E to go up, it closes at 7pm, so make sure you are on line in plenty of time. We waited approx 25 minutes to board the elevator. Then walked along the waterfront, did the gondola ride (100E for the 4 of us, I probably could have negotiated it a little bit, but considering HA was getting $99/pp for the ship's excursion, it was fine!) Please don't buy the gondola through the ship. There are tons of them and you can get a ride anywhere. The excursion prices are crazy compared to doing some things yourself. We overnighted here and had a 12:05pm flight out of Venice on Friday morning to JFK in NYC. We got off the ship at 7:30am, grabbed a taxi that was sitting right there, (45E and 25 minute ride to the airport). Delta counter did not open until 9am, so we were 3rd on line. I highly suggest this as by 8:30am, there were 150 people in line. Check in was extremely slow and there was only 1 security line open. By 10am we were on the other side which was very nice and there were plenty of shops and a 2nd floor cafe to grab something to eat. Flight was out on time. Random thoughts: - Transportation was much more expensive than we knew AND we are big walkers! My husband and I are runners and we had no problem walking 5-8 miles a day. Most ports required a shuttle from the ship and they charged you for it, 5E was normal and in Croatia it was $7.50 each way. Taxi fares were very expensive as well. Both to Barcelona and then to Venice airport were about 45E for the taxi, luckily we could get all 4 of us in there. Plan this into your expenses. - I also have 2 coupon books; only ones we used were the match play at the casino. I would be happy to mail these to you as well. - We had very high expectations regarding service and while it was very good, we found it on par with Royal or Princess on other trips we have been on. There were no problems, but I didn't find it to be exceptional. - I did a lot of research prior to the trip and made sure we had a plan for each port. We normally take relaxing vacations and I knew this would be one that was non-stop sightseeing and I didn't want to get caught short somewhere. It was a wonderful trip that opened up a new part of the world for us! You can email me at ksilver@eclipse.net and I will be happy to answer anything else you want to know!! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
We took the 12-day Mediterranean Empire cruise, leaving out of Venice, Italy. We boarded the Nieuw Amsterdam on Friday, 9/24 and were a little surprised at the size of our Deluxe Verandah Suite. It seemed smaller than the other suites of ... Read More
We took the 12-day Mediterranean Empire cruise, leaving out of Venice, Italy. We boarded the Nieuw Amsterdam on Friday, 9/24 and were a little surprised at the size of our Deluxe Verandah Suite. It seemed smaller than the other suites of the same class on our other cruises. But, it was very comfortable, except for controlling the temperature. The ship had a problem with a computer board and we were "stranded" in Venice for one extra day, which was great. We did not go to Croatia and were disappointed but understood the problems. The staff seemed to be a little inexperienced and we attributed that to it being a new ship. But, they were very helpful, just not quite as attentive as on the other HA cruises. The shore excursions were good, except in Istanbul and Ephesus Turkey. Both times we ended up at rug dealers and felt somewhat pressured. We had no intention of buying rugs and didn't like waiting for those who had to makes calls to the US and decisions about buying rugs. HA should have shore excusions exclusively for those who want to buy rugs. We definitely felt the increased nubmer of passengers on this ship, and prefer the smaller HA ships. As usual, several passengers became ill, including my husband. He developed bronchitis and visited the ship's doctor who dispensed medication and sent him to bed. Unfortunately, he missed Santorini but that gives us an excuse to go back! All in all, it was a great cruise, the weather was perfect and as soon as we recover from jet lag, we start thinking about our next HA cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
My wife and I took our 12 year old granddaughter on the the Nieuw Amsterdam in July. It was the second voyage for the ship but the first time for these ports. (Maiden voyage was to the western Med). The itinerary included Split, Katakalon, ... Read More
My wife and I took our 12 year old granddaughter on the the Nieuw Amsterdam in July. It was the second voyage for the ship but the first time for these ports. (Maiden voyage was to the western Med). The itinerary included Split, Katakalon, Athens, Kusadasi, Istanbul, Mykanos and Santorini. Other than Santorini, it's a great itinerary and we had terrific great excursions. I highly recommend the "Olympia and Zorba" excursion on Katakalon. Great viewing, great fun. Our granddaughter was so exhausted from the dancing she slept the whole trip back to the ship. The ship itself is OK. It seems almost identical to the Noordam which we took in Julu 2009. We had a Veranda suite on deck 5. These rooms have no desk drawers and limited shelf space in the closet area. The only drawers are in the nighttables and big ones under the bed which are not very useful and take up space for suitcases. The desktop fills very quickly with chargers, cameras, papers,flowers, etc.and there is only a very small coffee table to put anything on. The bathroom is small with very little shelf space and no medicine cabinet. There were some air conditioning problems for most of days but not too bad, considering the daily highs were about 95 - 100F. There are a lot more bars and eating areas than on the older, smaller ships which I much prefer. I don't understand the bars as HAL doesn't normally get a big drinking crowd and indeed most of the bars did not seem to get a lot of business. The Tamerind restaurant did not seem prepared for even a half full house, with extremely slow service by both the wait staff and the kitchen. The food was very good. The Pinnacle service and food were excellent as usual. Additional ports visited were Mykanos and Santorini. Mykanos was interesting. Santorini is extremely hilly and without interest. Read Less
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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