17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
Sailed solo for this cruise, chosen for the port of Amber Cove. I flew in the day of sailing from Atlanta. After a short taxi ride arrived at the port. I was able to check luggage, go through security, get checked in and be on board ... Read More
Sailed solo for this cruise, chosen for the port of Amber Cove. I flew in the day of sailing from Atlanta. After a short taxi ride arrived at the port. I was able to check luggage, go through security, get checked in and be on board within 15 minutes. it was the shortest and easiest embarkation ever. As it was only 11:30, and the rooms were ready, I was able to go to my stateroom before checking out the lunch venues. The first thing I noticed was that there was a bottle of wine missing. All of the other amenities that I pre-ordered were there except for one of the two bottles of wine. Okay, maybe it was too early and would wait until later to check again. The second thing missing was a coffee maker. It is advertised that all Neptune Suites were to now have in room coffee makers. I asked the room steward that came by and he said that coffee makers were not allowed as they are a fire hazard. I didn't feel that it was my job to teach him what the company was offering to the guests, but proceeded to advise him of the new changes. He still knew nothing of the coffee maker. At this point, I called the concierge and was advised that the coffee makers were in the process of being put into the rooms. Since I had their ear, I advised of the wine and was told that it would be delivered later that day. The ship has a quiet elegance. Between the muted colors and understated furniture, it is comforting and not "garish" in any way. The covered pool area is rather steamy when the ceiling is closed, and the humidity never seems to go away. The day of the week inserts in the elevators are reminiscent of RCL. It is a nice reminder to see what day of the week it is because it is so easy to lose track of time. The pool on the back of the ship is nice, never saw more than 2-3 people using it any one time. There didn't seem to be enough bar help in this area. The food throughout the ship is good. The last cruise with HAL had food servers in the Lido for the first two days, with self serve the rest of the cruise. I liked that the servers were there throughout the cruise. It seemed as though the lines moved faster. Dining in the MDR was easy with anytime dining. Being solo, it was easy to just stick me anywhere and I never had a wait time. I was seated with other solo travelers one night, but the other nights were with couples all meeting for the first time. Met some fabulous people and it is nice to know that it really is a small world, as one can always find something in common to discuss. Breakfasts were mostly room service ordered. The service was great and they were always on time. I did break down and have a burger and fries one afternoon. I'm glad I did, it was wonderful, and the famous sauce (tastes like mayonnaise, ketchup, bacon and spices all mixed) was really yummy. I'm glad I tried it. After missing the first night of Island Magic Steel Drum band, I was told by all that it was a fabulous show. I made it to the next performance and was floored by their skills. It is one of the best shows on a cruise ship I have seen in a while. They were fantastic. I didn't go to any other shows. The casino was fun and even more so, as I came out plus $25. Woohoo! I did attend one cooking show. They seemed to lack the ingredients (we waited while they ran to get something) and was not very organized. Never went to another. The suite was well appointed and had more than adequate room for one person. The only complaint was that I didn't receive a coffee maker until late on the third day. That is also the day that the wine appeared. I'm not sure what the delay was, nor was I given an apology. Service otherwise was great! The room steward, other than not knowing what should be, did an excellent job at keeping the room clean and keeping the ice bucket filled. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
Eastern Caribbean Cruise This was my third cruise on a Holland America ship and my first cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam. I had inside spa cabin 10043, which actually has a window that looks toward the pool area on deck 9, but the ... Read More
Eastern Caribbean Cruise This was my third cruise on a Holland America ship and my first cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam. I had inside spa cabin 10043, which actually has a window that looks toward the pool area on deck 9, but the retractable roof is there so you can't see anything. You can see up for sky conditions and to the left and right for both port and starboard ocean and sky views. I used the window to check what the sunset conditions were like each day before going out to take pics and film it. Embarkation: Not too bad. From dropping off my suitcase to walking onto the ship was probably 30 minutes. Food: I'm a picky eater and just used the Lido for all my meals, so can't real comment on the food. Liked the hand scooped ice cream. I also liked the waffles, bacon, cereal. For drinks that are free the machine had various options depending on the day, but usually water, iced tea, lemonade, and fruit punch. Other times a guava/passion fruit/orange combo replaced the lemonade or fruit punch. I was on the final "Dancing with the Stars" cruise so had celebrities on the ship with me such as Florence Henderson and Carson Kressley. Entertainment was a lot of "Dancing with the Stars" stuff plus the usually song and dance shows. All were good that I saw. I skipped a steel drum band one night in the main theater and some other shows. Ship condition: Great. it's not that old, so no wear and tear. Ports: Left from Fort Lauderdale. Went to Grand Turk, Puerto Rico, St. Martin, and Half Moon Cay. Disembarkation: I used the expedited carry all your luggage off option, as I had a 9:49am flight and that option said we would be let off the ship 7:45-8. Actually got off at 7:30 but customs only had 2 agents working checking passports, so I was worried I might miss my plane. Stood in giant line (that was just expedited people) for almost an hour. Luckily I made my flight. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
Three friends from childhood who graduated high school together in 1971 decided to take a girlfriend getaway on the beautiful Nieuw Amsterdam. I, a seasoned cruiser of 25--Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Carnival, Princess, Oceania, and ... Read More
Three friends from childhood who graduated high school together in 1971 decided to take a girlfriend getaway on the beautiful Nieuw Amsterdam. I, a seasoned cruiser of 25--Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Carnival, Princess, Oceania, and Cunard--will tell the tale as I have something to compare it with. Stayed at the Comfort Suites near the port and enjoyed the transportation both from the airport and to Port Everglades. We arrived quite early to the port and walked right up to check-in. Of course, it meant sitting in the terminal for a couple of hours, but that was kind of fun as we watched hundreds of passengers standing in the line and getting checked in. Excitement for all! Overall impression of the ship: Just the right size, spotlessly clean, elegant understated décor. We were in a triple occupancy balcony cabin and once we found a spot for all our "stuff" (which was kind of a daunting task), we didn't feel crowded at all. Plenty of drawer space and closets. and don't forget HA provides drawers under the bed, too. Loved the bathroom with a tub, which made showering much more enjoyable than the typical tiny cruise ship showers. We dined most nights in the main dining room, and one night at Canaletto (Italian) and one night at the Pinnacle Grill. Well worth the upcharge! Service was slow in the dining room and perfect at the Pinnacle. Entertainment: up and down. We LOVED the B.B.King All Stars group, but did not care for the piano bar guy or the band in the atrium. We especially loved the "Dancing with the Stars" events. We enjoyed each port and booked some excursion in some. Grand Turk we went to Margaritaville (fun), they have a giant swimming pool, beach, and even a flowrider! Loved the way the beach is right next to the ship...no need to book an excursion at this port. San Juan we did the hike thru the rain forest, and believe me when I say, it was RAINING! Come prepared, or buy an overpriced poncho! Also, it is pretty strenuous climbing and hiking, especially over wet rocks. Still, very interesting. At St. Thomas, we went on the Kon Tiki, which is basically a party boat with rum punch flowing like water, and dancing the limbo. They did take us to a beach for an hour or so. The other two did the horseback riding excursion at Half Moon Cay, and felt it was a money making opportunity for the photographer, with little time actually riding the horses. Overall, I would recommend this ship to anyone who is looking for a relaxing time with some fun thrown in here and there. Not for you, if you want rock climbing walls, water slides, etc and a lot of activities for young kids. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
Our only previous cruise had been on Celebrity Solstice, so we had only that to compare this tour to. Overall, probably about the same, but with different strengths and weaknesses. While we enjoy cruises, we are not addicts. We enjoy ... Read More
Our only previous cruise had been on Celebrity Solstice, so we had only that to compare this tour to. Overall, probably about the same, but with different strengths and weaknesses. While we enjoy cruises, we are not addicts. We enjoy being in new places and experiencing the locale more than the artificial -- though pampered -- world of a boat. We selected this cruise because -- remarkably -- it was no more expensive than our other options for getting out of New England to somewhere warm around the new year, and we'd wanted to see Key West and Mexico. More on that in a moment. Took advantage of the HAL-supplied pre-cruise hotel, Westin Ft. Lauderdale, and transfers. Perfectly nice hotel, but the transfer process was irritating. Although the hotel is only about 20 minutes from the airport, the entire process including bus and dropoffs took 90 minutes after our luggage appeared. Similarly, the following morning a large cattle call for all travelers into a single dining room, waiting for more info, and finally loading onto buses. I'm sure HAL provides this free transfer service to keep everyone on schedule, but it is only convenient for them and those groups who can't manage their own bookings. Frankly, we would have been considerably happier paying for a taxi both ways. Getting on the ship was quick and easy. Our luggage arrived promptly in the mid-afternoon. Oddly, a Cruise-Critic initiated meet-and-greet that had been scheduled onboard did not happen because HAL had assigned a room that was not available. The ship is beautiful. No sign of the "shopworn" complaint of an earlier reviewer, though the residual Christmas decorations were obviously not new. Everything sparkles, traffic flow is largely sensible, features seem logically placed. The ship is largely decorated in the classic formal style of grand old cruises. Chandeliers, leather chairs, lavish drapes. Every single member of the staff we encountered made eye contact and greeted us, regardless of rank or role. When we asked anyone for something, they immediately took ownership of the request; no "that's not my job." Overall, rest assured that the ship is in line with its price point, though I'll point out a few weaknesses below. On this cruise we felt the ship's movement more than on the previous cruise. Showering involved keeping a hand on the handholds; in the corridors it was hard to distinguish those who were tipsy from those who were weaving with the ship's movement. It wasn't dangerous or annoying, just something we noticed. The ship is smaller than Celebrity Solstice, and our cabin was high off the water, both of which may magnify ship movement. One thing that startled us is the number of bars. 6 on deck 2, plus another 5 on three other levels. We did not elect to use the "Signature Beverage Package" since we would have had to drink constantly and never leave the boat to make it worth while. Instead, we took advantage of generally cheap drink prices, regular happy hours, and special wine events. We did not feel at all constrained. (On Celebrity, there were several tiers of beverage package, two of which fit our pattern nicely.) There are plenty of nooks and crannies to sit and lounge or talk, both in bars and along the corridors. Dining and entertainment were the biggest disappointment. On our Celebrity cruise, we mostly dined in the general dining room rather than pay extra, and enjoyed the food. On this HAL cruise, we tried the main dining room twice and were quite disappointed. Tough meat, non-standard pasta recipes, bland "Disney-fied" food. We tried all three extra-price restaurants; enjoyed Canaletto most for the first genuinely spicy food we'd had. We went there twice. Tamarind is also good, though the servers attempted to use our names (needlessly) and couldn't seem to remember who was who. Pinnacle Grill is a nice pricey steak house, if that's what you like. The Lido Grill is the general buffet. Unlike our Celebrity cruise in which the buffet was open 24/7, the hours were a bit baffling. Breakfast foods were fine, though impossible to flag down a server for water or orange juice. Lunch quite edible, plenty of nice selections. Dinner not up to standard. I'd infer that HAL would like most people to pay extra to dine at the specialty restaurants, which were far from full, and has reduced the quality of the "free" food accordingly. Since the extra cost for Canaletto is a mere $10 per person, we were OK with this. Entertainment: Skip it unless your'e desperate. On Celebrity the entertainment was nothing special, and on this cruise is was just better than terrible. The magician was unprepared, clumsy, and unoriginal. The comic had trouble finding laughs. The show "cast" although talented had uninspired material to work with, all presented at top volume and fever pitch to make up for the lack of inspiration. It's worth saying that the ship was populated with many very elderly people, so perhaps this is the best you can do to attempt to entertain them. (We are 50s-60s and often felt two decades younger than the room average.) The exceptions: The "BB King Blues Lounge," one of the many hats worn by the Queen's Room auditorium, was incredible. The musicians were top-notch, music was well interpreted interesting blues/jazz/funk. The other show that was fun was the late-night "Indonesian Crew Show" performed by the service staff. Emceed by a witty, slightly sarcastic crew member ("Why are we doing this performance for you? We have to!"), the show consists of often gifted amateurs presenting traditional dances, songs, and stories. Even when the act is more amateur than gifted, there's a spontaneous charm. We did not take advantage of any ship-supplied shore excursions, most of which seemed too long, too fake, or too expensive. Two of the locations were man-made artificial stops. "Half Moon Cay" is the HAL-owned island; with a pre-ordered clamshell shade, we enjoyed the nice beach for several hours and returned to the boat. "Costa Maya, Mexico" is a purpose-built faux village designed to serve cruise ships. While not as annoying as Georgetown, the intentionally quaint shops were pointless. We grabbed a cheap, quick cab ride to the tacky, rambunctious "fishing village" of Mahahual, soaked up the poverty, riotous decrepitude, constant invitations to spend money. We had a tasty simple fish lunch under an umbrella on a crowded beach, stuck our toes in the warm ocean, and headed back to the boat. Excursions offered included lengthy van rides to second-rate archeological ruins; having done similar long, low-yield excursions on our prior cruise, we did not regret skipping that. George Town, Cayman islands was a place we perhaps should have had more concrete plans. The town itself is all Rolex watches, jewelry, and T-shirts along a hot, crowded waterfront street. Local charm is invisible even on the desolate back streets. We wandered a while, had a sub-par meal, and returned to the ship. Key West, of course, was our favorite. We grabbed an independent van tour near the pier and got a great overview of the history of the island in 90 minutes, then walked Duval street for people-watching and lunch. Fortunately, the boat lands a few short blocks from all the excitement; no waiting for tenders to carry you across the water, no hassle finding activities. We opted for one of the expedited disembarkation options in which our luggage was collected the previous night in the ship-wide annoying "bag pull," transported to the airport, and checked into the airline for us. The ship provided a (badly printed) boarding pass. All we had to do was shoulder our carry-ons, exit among the first off the ship at 8:00 AM, and quickly clear customs. We caught a cab and were at the airport before 9:00 AM. Our checked bags met us at our home airport, safe and sound. One more note: The medical office below decks was enormously helpful and gracious with our need for medical refrigeration and freezing. The in-room mini-bars don't officially stay at 40-degree refrigerator temperature, and wouldn't freeze our day-use freezer packs, but the medical office filled the gap. I just had to make sure to drop in during their open hours. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2015
This was my fourth cruise on Holland America and second on the Nieuw Amsterdam. The rooms were very clean and comfortable, the service staff was outstanding, the entertainment in the lounges very enjoyable, the fitness center ... Read More
This was my fourth cruise on Holland America and second on the Nieuw Amsterdam. The rooms were very clean and comfortable, the service staff was outstanding, the entertainment in the lounges very enjoyable, the fitness center well-equipped, the food was mostly good (see comment below). I wish there was a separate room for the yoga classes (additional charge!) instead of having what is really a stretch class using yoga poses in the very noisy fitness center. My partner and I were both disappointed at the bad fish dishes that were served in the Manhattan Dining Room. We both had overcooked fish (snapper, cod, trout) that just didn't taste right on three separate occasions. Because we don't like to eat red meat, this was a problem for us. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2015
Had a good cruise but not as good and the old ship built in1937. Nobody showed up for the Cruise Critic on the Monday as planned except another couple and my self. Where was everybody? Cabin was fine and food good. Met some nice people ... Read More
Had a good cruise but not as good and the old ship built in1937. Nobody showed up for the Cruise Critic on the Monday as planned except another couple and my self. Where was everybody? Cabin was fine and food good. Met some nice people too. Traveling alone. Only one good show at night on board. I was on the Eastern cruise. Some did a back to back. Dining room service was very poor.They were very slow in getting our dinner to us. I drove down from Cape Canaveral. Got on the ship a good time.Did my own parking at Embassy Suites and got the shuttle to the ship. Dining was fair as there but there a long wait for dinner. The day we left the ship I had the shuttle back to my car. Ship was clean all the time . I was a bit disappointed with Holland America compared to other ships I have sailed on. I thought I had a better cruise ship when I sailed on Princess. I am a single senior and have been on many cruises of different lines. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
This was our first cruise, and we booked for 2 weeks to celebrate our honeymoon. We are 26 and 33. When we booked the trip, we didn't realize that Holland America was geared towards a mature crowd (50+). We are not big drinkers or ... Read More
This was our first cruise, and we booked for 2 weeks to celebrate our honeymoon. We are 26 and 33. When we booked the trip, we didn't realize that Holland America was geared towards a mature crowd (50+). We are not big drinkers or gamblers, so we were looking for a more relaxing experience with some adventure, not a party scene. Overall, the cruise was excellent. We did the Ultimate Snorkelling in Grand Turk, the Amazing Secret River in Cozumel, and the Champagne Sail in St. Thomas. All excursions were amazing and worth every penny. The food on the ship was all very good with lots of different options. The atmosphere of the ship was very clean and elegant. The only downfall was that the majority of the actives were geared towards an older crowd, such as anti aging seminars, acupuncture, and learn Windows 10, just to name a few. Thankfully, we only had 4 at sea days so the majority of our time was spent in Port, but it would have been nice to have a few more ship activities that would have interested us. Service was top notch and any issues we had were resolved immediately. For our next cruise, I would like to try another line more geared towards our age group, but I will definitely sail with Holland again. It was a wonderful vacation all around. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
Our second trip on the Nieuw Amsterdam, both times in November. Embarkation was a snap and the check-in line was not too bad. Our stateroom (a low-cost upgrade from Verandah to Signature Suite) was ready for us as we boarded, around 1:30. ... Read More
Our second trip on the Nieuw Amsterdam, both times in November. Embarkation was a snap and the check-in line was not too bad. Our stateroom (a low-cost upgrade from Verandah to Signature Suite) was ready for us as we boarded, around 1:30. The worst part was getting to the port through heavy traffic back ups but John's Car Service (try him) was "creative" in getting us past the mess. The suite was well worth the extra money (heavily discounted upgrade at the last minute) and we enjoyed the additional space and wide balcony. Very comfortable and our cabin steward provided impeccable service every day, every way. We were very close to the mid-ships elevators and that was very handy for early AM coffee in the Lido and otherwise getting around. Food in Manhattan dining room was OK to good and the steak and lobster tail on Friday night was really good. The service is somewhat spotty and can be slow. We had to wait 30 minutes one night for the appetizer to appear and my discontent was quickly noted and addressed. The dining captain robustly apologized, we were given complimentary wine, and the rest of the meal was served promptly. Not only that, we were tagged in the system, and given the same exact table the next night presumably so the staff could redeem themselves - and they did - and following nights, our table ticket was noted we believe for enhanced attention to detail, which we received. Short story, don't hesitate to let them know if you are unhappy and the problem should be addressed. Not happy with having to wait for a table for 2 almost every night. The food is good but not worth much of a wait. They need to adjust seating for more couples-only tables. Pinnacle Grill was excellent as usual and recommended. We did not try Tamarind or Canaletto this time. Lido is what it is - a cafeteria line but the food is good, there's as much as you want and the table staff is attentive and friendly. Did not have trouble finding a table at any time. Entertainment was a bit bland and we only went once to the theater to see a very funny comedian. Not a real priority for us, but we would have gone more had the entertainment been more compelling like it was last year. The Digital Workshop event we attended helped us understand and now apply the MicroSoft OneCloud service and the presentation was well done. The Culinary Arts cooking show was OK but the chefs were hard to understand. The "dating game" night was the hit of the cruise and Mario did a great job with it. We did one HA excursion in San Juan - the Culinary and History walking tour. Not strenuous at all other than one 200-yard uphill climb but the guide stopped several times up the hill. No problem. She was very good and learning about Mojitos and Mofongo and consuming them was a treat. We took a non-HA tour on Grand Turk for $25. It's a laid back trip around the island, what there is of it, and you see the cool lighthouse, and there is some shopping. Not worth more than $25 - the agency is right on the beach. Grand Turk is mostly known for scuba and snorkeling, plus fishing. If that's your gig, you're in heaven. St. Thomas is also big on the water events including Megan's Bay beach, and so on. There are 1.1 million jewelry stores (or so it seems) and they play the 60% off game using highly inflated prices to start, so that you really don't save anything but the people are polite and friendly. Bargain hard and walk away if you must. Great selection of liquor and perfume, too. Taxi rides are reasonable, about $4 each to "downtown" and you can take trips around the island. HA's private beach at Half Moon Cay is beautiful - amazing. You take a tender service from a bit offshore (the deep water) and the ship does not anchor but holds in place for 7 hours using only the bow and stern thrusters. Pretty cool. Don't like sand? It's a great day to enjoy the pool deck with peace and quiet. We used the well equipped fitness center twice. It's a fitness center and hit has a good view. What more do you want? All the staff we dealt with were supremely polite and helpful but we never spoke to and hardly saw any senior officers or staff other than Mario the cruise director (after all, that's his job) and the venue instructors. But it didn't seem to matter, so, not a big deal. The disembarkation was V E R Y slow because of US Customs who ran only 3 lines, causing us to take 50 minutes to clear customs. That's the last impression we had of our trip and HA needs to work out something with Customs to smooth this out. Heck, pay the overtime for one or two agents to work an hour on Sunday for crying out loud. You don't want the last impression of HA to be standing in a long line, ya know? C'mon Mickey are you listening? Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
This was a very lovely crossing. Many more pros than cons. To begin with, the sailing was delayed by a full day due to strong winds and high seas preventing the ship from getting into port. The overnight in Barcelona spent waiting for the ... Read More
This was a very lovely crossing. Many more pros than cons. To begin with, the sailing was delayed by a full day due to strong winds and high seas preventing the ship from getting into port. The overnight in Barcelona spent waiting for the ship was expertly and efficiently handled. Considering the number of passengers HAL had to suddenly and unexpectedly accommodate, this had to have been no easy feat. A sterling performance. Once on board we found the ship elegant, gracefully absorbing her 2000 passengers. The mostly Indonesian crew was nothing short of wonderful, friendly, kind and always happy to fulfill any request. Cabins were spacious, comfortable (we wanted to take our bed home!) and immaculate. Food, for the most part, was excellent. The specialty restaurants we tried, Pinnacle Grill and Tamarind, were superb. Sadly, due to the loss of a day, we forfeited the Azores as a port of call; that was unfortunate as many on board were looking forward to it. Many felt it would have been far better to have sacrificed the uninteresting Alicante. Our major grievance was the lack of quality entertainment on board which was, for the most part, embarrassing. This needs to be seriously rethought. Among the educational offerings, Vivienne Rowan and her series on Ancient Egypt was superb. If you are a night owl or looking for anything fun to do on board later in the evening, it will be a challenge. The movie theatre was always full, folks were always being turned away; reconfiguring the seating might help. And why was there no decent coffee anywhere except at a surcharge in the Explorations Cafe? Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2015
We got a deal on a Pinnacle suite and were very surprised at how nice it was. Disappointed that the only amenity was free laundry. Free water and free internet would have been nice. The staff was friendly and accommodating. Breakfast ... Read More
We got a deal on a Pinnacle suite and were very surprised at how nice it was. Disappointed that the only amenity was free laundry. Free water and free internet would have been nice. The staff was friendly and accommodating. Breakfast and dinner were great. Lunch was so so. The ship looked new. Nightly shows could have been better, as compared to other cruise lines. Over all we were very satisfied. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2015
This was our second cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam in 2 years and the ship continues to have a high standard of dining, cabin service and general cleanliness. We noticed a big improvement in the in cabin TV service facility with new hi ... Read More
This was our second cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam in 2 years and the ship continues to have a high standard of dining, cabin service and general cleanliness. We noticed a big improvement in the in cabin TV service facility with new hi definition flat screen TV's and movie selection facilities. Disappointment for passengers in not getting into 3 Mediterranean ports due to poor weather but the ship was very impressive in handling bad swells and high winds for several days. HAL did compensate with future cruise discounts however more effort and offers during the cruise would have been better appreciated by the passengers. Overall our experience for the second time on the NA was just as good as the first. In particular the Neptune Suite we purchased was worth the money and the Neptune lounge facility with Kristine and Joyce terrific. We like cruising with HAL but they still can't make a decent espresso coffee! The B B King Blues Club was a terrific additional to the Queens Lounge, however we miss the HAL Cats variety of music. The Blues Club repertoire was great, but limited, and they need to expand it to ensure every night's music is not the same. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2015
Yes, we lost three ports early in the cruise, but most people understood that the captain was doing what he thought was correct for our and the crews safety. I'm sure that HAL would much rather go to a port and increase revenue ... Read More
Yes, we lost three ports early in the cruise, but most people understood that the captain was doing what he thought was correct for our and the crews safety. I'm sure that HAL would much rather go to a port and increase revenue through excursions, give crew a chance to rest and not have everyone onboard and try to entertain them while fighting the weather. Negative reviewers should also attest that HAL issued everyone a generous future cruise credit because of the situation. Now for a review of the ship, amenities and crew. The decor is a little understated for sure, but welcome over some of the over the top design of other ships. We thought overall the food was good to very good. The Lido Buffet had good selection for lunch and the Dive-In section for hamburgers and hot dogs was well received. Dinner in the Main Dining Room had a decent but not great selection each night, the food was always well presented and prepared. The Pinnacle Grill was excellent as was the Tamarind, we ate in these multiple times. The Canaletto restaurant, really shouldn't be considered a specialty restaurant. It is actually a small glassed in section of the Lido buffet. The meal there was our least enjoyable of the cruise. Having sailed with many cruise lines, mostly Celebrity (Elite Status), I can absolutely say that the crew on the Nieuw Amsterdam was in the top 3 of all our cruises. to the person they always smiled, greeted you and in many cases remembered our names. We did not go to the showroom much but enjoyed the singers in BB Kings revue very much. After our early disappointments we very much enjoyed the rest of the trip, with stops in Palma Mallorca, Alicante and Cartagena Spain and Gibraltar. Every cruise is what you make of it and a chance to meet new people and learn different cultures. Overall seeing an itinerary that interests us, we would definitely sail with HAL again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2015
Having only cruised with Celebrity Cruise Line before we were a little apprehensive sailing with Holland America. We needn't have worried. Overall I would say that I just about preferred it to Celebrity but accept this may in some ... Read More
Having only cruised with Celebrity Cruise Line before we were a little apprehensive sailing with Holland America. We needn't have worried. Overall I would say that I just about preferred it to Celebrity but accept this may in some way be due to the fact that having sailed on the same class of ship for four years perhaps I'm just a bit bored with the same look, style etc. The ship was smart and well maintained, embarkation and debarkation both went well. The food, in my opinion, was slightly better on the HAL although I would have liked to have seen more variety. There didn't appear to be as much selection at breakfast than you get on the Celebrity but it was still more than adequate. Some reviewers have complained that as you cannot help yourself that the portions you get served are small. This is true however I found that you just ask for more and they give it to you so it really isn't a problem. One other area where Celebrity are better is that they have a coffee bar that serves different types of coffee in proper cups and glasses right up to midnight. I used this facility at the end of virtually every night. HAL have a bar that sells coffee in paper cups but only until 10pm which means if you want a coffee before going to bed you had to go back to your room and order room service. Stateroom was good with plenty of storage and the stateroom attendant was like a Ninja. If you left the room, walked to the lift, realised you had forgotten something and returned to the room, it had been cleaned !!!!! Demographic was a bit old but that may have been due to the time of year, we have never been on holiday at the end of September before. It wasn't exactly like "The march of the living dead", in fact most were quite spritely however I'm 54 which, let's face it, isn't young but I felt like a teenager compared to most of the other passengers. The overall age group on board may also have been the reason why in the evening the main bars were empty and laking in any atmosphere at all. It was as if we were the only people on board at times. There were exceptions however. The BB King Bar was great, fantastic music and singers, my favourite bar. The piano bar also had some good nights as well. Entertainment was poor. On introducing the comedian they mentioned that he had written for the BBC, I think they meant to say that he had written TO the BBC. He was poor unless you like material from the 70's. The only funny jokes we're recycled Tommy Cooper classics. But like the dancers and singers in the shows you can understand why they are working on cruise ships. But good luck to them, they are making a living. The quality of the tours were the same as on the Celebrity, probably because they all use the same shore organisations. What I didn't like about HAL is that if you cancelled your tour you were charged a 10% cancellation fee however if you cancelled less than three days in advance you had a 100% cancellation fee. On Celebrity you could cancel without charge unto 24 hours before the tour. Drinks package is not worth it. This was the first time we didn't take it and we saved money and still had a drink when ever we wanted. Transfers if your port is Venice - DON'T BUY THE HAL TRANSFERS. The transfers cost £126 per person, so £252. We bought them as we were told that this was "door to door" - yer right !! When we arrived in Venice we had to walk with our cases for about 15 minutes to reach the coach. We later found out that a taxi would have cost 45 Euro total each way, a saving of around £180 probably. Despite any negative comments I have made above, we did enjoy the cruise and overall I would say that our experience was just slightly better than that we have had on the Celebrity Line but only by the smallest of margins, not a lot in it at all. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2015
We had not been on HAL since 2008 and this cruise exceeded our expectations. Most of our comments are based on comparison with a number of recent RCL cruises. Booked this cruise because it hit a number of ports we had not visited. Pre ... Read More
We had not been on HAL since 2008 and this cruise exceeded our expectations. Most of our comments are based on comparison with a number of recent RCL cruises. Booked this cruise because it hit a number of ports we had not visited. Pre cruise stayed at the Westin Europa & Regina, Venice (see review on tripadvisor) HAL has an older demographic of passengers although there were some young European families on board that seemed to be enjoying themselves. The Good: Arriving at the ship in a water taxi Very friendly crew, always greeted with a smile. Buffet, we liked the fact that you are served at the buffet. Buffet food generally good selection. Dive in Burger Bar GREAT burgers, hot dogs and fries (no extra charge....are you listening RCL) Dinning Room open sitting well organized very little wait for table. Guest Entertainer Toni Warne Adagio, a 2 piece classical music group BB King Blues Club Ocean View cabin was spotless and cabin steward very attentive. Very little nickel and dimeing like on some other lines. Priest onboard Ports of call Very Clean Ship Did we mention Dive in Burger Bar GREAT burgers, hot dogs and fries (it is that good, no extra charge....are you listening RCL) The Average: Dining room food selection. Food was good but a couple of the menus selection were not to our taste. Appetizer portions were sometimes more like canapes. Shows Cruise Director Could be improved: Poor white wine selection (under $40) for our taste Orange juice and coffee service was poor on back deck of ship at breakfast Slow cleaning of tables on back deck As usual shore excursions very expensive(we booked our own tours, see reviews Rome and Florence on tripadvisor) Based on this cruise we will be back on HAL in the future. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
Mediterranean Cruise, Holland America I wanted to share this review for other travelers. It is a long review and I will try to include details that may or may not be important to others. We stayed two nights at the Colon Hotel. The ... Read More
Mediterranean Cruise, Holland America I wanted to share this review for other travelers. It is a long review and I will try to include details that may or may not be important to others. We stayed two nights at the Colon Hotel. The hotel staff was friendly. We arrived around 12:00 p.m. and our room was ready. We had a superior room for three. There is a coffeemaker and small mini bar in the room. The water pressure is good, and the beds are comfortable. We did not eat at the hotel. There is a Carefour supermarket that is walkable from the hotel heading towards the train station, a bank directly across from the front door of the hotel (the atm did run out of Euros the last day), and a Starbucks across the street. The Carefour supermarket has wine, water and also prepared foods. I could not find something I liked in the wine selection so I purchased at the port but did purchase our soda and water for the ship. The hotel will hold your luggage in a room in the lobby if you want to tour before boarding or checking in. The pool is too small. We wanted to see the view at sunset from the roof, but were not able to make it. We purchased the 10 ticket package at the train station and used this to travel to the FCB Camp Nou Soccer Stadium, Park Guell and back from Sagrada Familia. Place the ticket through the ticketholder and remove and the gate will open. One person passes through and then each time for the amount of people using the ticket. There is a discount for students at FCB Camp Nou of 5.00 euros. I think the train stop is Les Corts. We purchased two tickets online and bought my son’s tickets when we arrived at FCB. My son and husband enjoyed the museum. The next day we visited Sagrada Familia. I was thinking we were close to the Sagrada Familia but that was not the case. It was around 7 Euros by cab to the Cathedral. I bought the tickets to Sagrada Familia with the tower access online. We were late due to a time difference and had to buy new tickets which were only available at 7:00 p.m. and no tower access. At least we were able to book tickets for entry. Looking back we should have just entered for the tower access because we were not late for that entry time for the tower but didn’t think to ask. The original tickets will be refunded because we bought new tickets. They will give you the email address and save the new and old ticket numbers. You do get a student or under 18 years old discount. I forget which one it is. We always brought the student id with us and a copy of my son’s passport. We only had a choice of audio with the new tickets and my son and I found it confusing when they said you can go in any direction not in order. Go in order if you can. We had visited Barcelona 8 years ago and was not able to visit the tower during that time.. I guess we will have to visit Barcelona again some day. Since we had to come back at 7:00, we decided to go Park Guell. We got off at the second train stop that takes you there. Park Guell is in the middle of two train stops. Lessops is the first stop and the walk is harder on the second stop and more uphill. There are some escalators, but if you get off at the first stop it seems to be easier. There was no entry to Park Guell until 5:30, and we didn’t want to miss the 7:00 La Strada entrance so we decided to leave, and come later after our tour. The Park is free after 9:30, but it does start to get dark around 9:00. We ate at two restaurants close to the hotel during our stay. The first restaurant Nuria which we enjoyed. The Sangria was great, service friendly and good food. The second restaurant which was very close to the hotel one block up was Estruch. We sat outside, and there was too much smoke. The inside customers come out and smoke, so at least ask for a table closer to the entertainment in front of the cathedral. I thought the food was not that good and the staff not friendly. I would not visit again. We wished we went back to the first restaurant. We did not have any problem with pickpockets in Barcelona. We were careful. A cab to the port should be inexpensive but we left around 12:30. It was bumper to bumper in the port and cost around 28.00 euros. Check-in was not too bad. The line moved quickly. We arrived between 1:30-2:00. The water was expensive at the port so purchase it if you can before you arrive. I asked the woman in the store at the port which wine was similar to a Pinot Noir and she recommended a few. The price range was between 7.00-10.00. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the two I purchased but I did. You can go back out and reenter up until I think it was 3:00. We did go back and take our picture. I think we were one of the last ones on the ship. The picture background was really strange but we we usually purchase the boarding picture for a souvenir. We dropped our bags in our room, and went upstairs to the lido to grab a quick bite before the muster drill. They do take attendance at the muster drill. The ship: There were pros and cons to the ship (which there are with every cruise line). I wish I could take all the pros and make one favorite cruise line. I think if I could combine the entertainment and gym of RCL with the pools, restaurant atmosphere and food of Princess and the beds, port information and pricing from HAL. I would have the perfect cruise (Princess and Hal both have laundry options). The pros for HAL are: towels, food, Tamarind, laundry package, in room movies, storage space, the bed, BB King blues, covered pool, Port advisor available to answer questions, no announcements in rooms, no long lines like larger ships, relaxed atmosphere, great captains party. The towels were available at the pool. You do not have to sign for them. Also beach towels are in your drawer under your bed. It is easier not having worry about turning them in and watching them on the lounger by the pool. The food (sometimes small portions) was good and is always cooked how ordered. If you wanted more, just ask. I felt like the menu has gotten smaller but I ordered what I wanted and was happy. There was only a few nights that I wished there was more variety but I ordered an appetizer as a main meal if I couldn’t find something I liked on the main courses. We had great waiters. We were always the last table to leave the dining room at night. My son made a great friend and they hung around the entire cruises. If you can get Ferry and Ade you can’t go wrong. My husband asked for mint and rosemary, and they delivered it. Also I loved the lamb and they ordered it for me another night. The lobster was real lobster but it was salty. Not sure if it was the butter. We loved visiting the yum yum man after dinner if he was still there. We did want a picture with our tablemates but for some reason the professional picture did not come out. We looked on the computer for it but the photographers could not find it. We didn’t get to take another pictures because our table mates were not able to make the last night because we were overnight in Venice and they had plans. I cannot comment on all the specialty restaurants because we only went to the Tamarind. The food was really good. They give you the options so I don’t think you can order everything off the menu but you can make some changes. We were stuffed when we left. The laundry is a good deal especially if you traveled before the cruise like we did. We filled our bag and left it in the basket the first day. We were not given another bag and had to call the front desk several times to have a bag delivered to our cabin. Also the first few laundry deliveries came back really wrinkled. I went down to the front desk and straightened out that we purchased the packaged and then the pressing was included. We did lose some laundry items but they were found before the end of the cruise. We filled two bags and only one sheet so keep track of your laundry items. If laundry is busy, the clothes will be delivered a few days later. Whites are not returned white and may be because there is no bleach. In room movies are a good selection, there was enough storage space with three large closets. We didn’t use the storage drawers under the bed because the towels and bedding was stored in there. Our luggage fit under the bed. The bed was comfortable but not the pillows. BB King Blues band was great and got people dancing. Also some of the shows were better than expected. If the weather was bad the main pool was covered. The port adviser was available 2 hours in the evening before the port and 2 hours in the morning for questions. We only asked once while in Marseilles but this is very helpful especially to the older crowds. Also the front desk will assist with information. You don’t find this on other lines. Our table mates also found his information very helpful. We did go to the pool several times and managed to get a seat. I think because of the ship size, the pool, the gym, tendering and boarding never seemed to be overcrowded. There was one boy who hurt himself diving in the childrens pool. Staff tries to enforce but are not watching all the time. The library is fully stocked with games and books. Front desk is always friendly, polite and helpful. The ship seemed very relaxed and sometimes there were families having fun in the disco dancing. The Captains Party was relaxed and less formal which I enjoyed. The captain introduced himself and some of the staff in the showroom. Drinks were offered, champagne, red or white wine and orange juice. I appreciated the wine because I do not drink champagne and other lines do not always offer wine. The cons are: cabin lighting, pillows, the steam room, the treadmills, the breakfast, lack of food choices after dinner, some shows are performed during late seating, drinks, no access to account online, Teen activities, the internet, no nightly mariner party (only a brunch), getting in touch with cabin steward and room service. The lighting in the cabin was terrible. There was a magnifying mirror with a light but it was very hard when not using this to see unless you go into the bathroom when doing hair or makeup. The pillows were hard, and maybe looking back I should have changed them. I did not sleep well but we were getting up early the first few days for tours and then by the time I thought to do something we were half way through the cruise. There is no access to the steam room unless you buy the package, which I wouldn’t use that much on a European cruise. The sauna is near the pool and not in the spa or gym. I really enjoy going to the steam room after the gym and was disappointed that there is not a public steam room and only the package for 299 per a couple. We did go for one hour free with our coupon book and glad I didn’t buy it because I wouldn’t have spent that much time in there. A big negative is use of the treadmills. The treadmills did have the tv’s on them (unlike princess) but there was restricted time of use. One hour before leaving port and one hour after due to navigational issues was posted on the treadmills. The times we wanted to workout was before dinner, and there was no access to treadmills. This was a concern because I really only exercise with a treadmill. Other people also seemed upset. Lido time changed periodically. Full breakfast was until 10:30 and then some days it was until 10:00, which is too early. I felt like every time I was in the lido they were pulling down the shade and closing. I don’t mind them serving the food it was more organized. By the time you get your food and found a place, the food is cold. The stations are mixed up and I can’t describe it, but I didn’t have this much trouble with breakfast on other lines. The first day they had two people behind the egg station. One was taking your order for toast while you stand there. After ordering your toast, your eggs are ordered and you wait. After you get your egg, pancake order, you are asked if you want additional items (bacon, sausage, oatmeal). It makes no sense to have one person taking egg orders and trying to also complete your order. If they would switch the toast to guy it would be a little faster. I did notice after I said I can’t believe there is only one person here taking egg or pancake orders next to staff member, that they had two people making eggs the next morning and complete orders. I feel like breakfast was chaos and it shouldn’t be that unorganized. Cups would not be clean and coffee wouldn’t be brewed. You couldn’t find ketchup or if you couldn’t hold your eggs, and wanted oatmeal, you had to wait in line again. Not relaxing for a vacation. At night the only access to food after the lido closed was pizza. They would tell you to order room service but there was limited room service menu. We found ourselves hungry around 12:00 with no choices. Some of the shows like the marriage game, etc were performed at 9:00 during late seating. After dinner and the show (some really good and some not so good) the choices were the disco, the piano and BB blues. During the end of the cruise we found ourselves wanting something else to do. The silk den bar was terrible. When we made reservations we were invited for a happy hour before or after our dinner. I ordered the Mai Tai which was just juice. There was nothing in it. I wouldn’t go there again. Also the happy hour choices are limited for wine. I ordered a Pinot Noir one night during happy hour, and was told because it was $9.00 it wasn’t part of happy hour. The only way to check your account is at the front desk. The teen activities were listed and delivered to the cabin every three days but my son said they were performed randomly. Sometimes there would be an activity and sometimes there wouldn’t be one even though they were listed and they showed up. Don’t count on the internet. It barely functions. One time it took me almost 20 minutes just to load and open an email. If there is a blackout, which there was twice, the email will stop working. I did go to the front desk and they credited me minutes from the blackout. Someone told my son that the internet is faster at sea than in port. The least expensive package is 19.99 for 30 minutes, and if you are a Mariner you can add 15 minutes to any package with the coupon book. I was disappointed that there was no Mariner Party at night. I enjoy the party usually more than the captain’s party because it isn’t as crowded. They do have a brunch, but with so little time to enjoy the ship. We usually don’t do a big lunch we didn’t attend. I did have a few problems with obc, but they were corrected. I did have backup email documentation. Also only one coupon book was delivered to our stateroom. I went to the front desk and received another book for my husband. Not sure if my son would have gotten one if I asked since he is also Mariner. We did bring an extension cord but probably didn’t need it because there are three outlets. The flat screen does not move. It was the first sailing with the new tv’s and it was not positioned that great with the inside large connecting J room but it was okay. Looking back on the rooms, I think we could have booked an outside and it would have been fine. I heard so much about the large J’s and since there was three of us I held on to it even with pricing changes. I looked in at the ocean views and there was the same amount of storage. Maybe the J had a little more standing room for getting dress but for the pricing difference and the bathtub I think next time I would have gone with the ocean view. Also we were on the Main deck and close to the front desk. If you are nearer to the showroom you will hear the music and BB King blues, but I think they end the show around 12:30. Our table mates commented on culinary demonstrations being over in 10 minutes. There seemed to be a lot of art auctions. We got invited to a VIP Mariners Party, which I thought was going to be similar to other cruise line loyalty parties. There was an art auction being cleaned up and no Party at 8:00 (which is our dinner late seating time). We waited around 10 minutes and decided to leave and go to dinner. The party was in a conference room and didn’t look that interesting. Advertised drinks and food, but we didn’t see either. We never saw our cabin steward which at times was annoying and probably one of the reasons we didn’t change our pillows. If we wanted to get the laundry bag we had to call the front desk. My son needed to ice his knee and we had to call the front desk. We would look in the corridor at various times, but never saw anyone only when we were going to dinner. My son ordered room service for breakfast and the bagel was hard as a rock. Marseille: We did go to the old town on our own. We took the free shuttle bus with no problem. If we did not take the shuttle bus, we would have taken a cab because it would have been cheaper than the ship shuttle for the three of us (8 per person). Coming back the free shuttle was crowded and no single line but we were able to get on. The shuttle lets you off not too far from the main part of the town. Walk straight down and you will come to it. Monaco: We visited the Exhibition of Prince Rainier III’s private collection of antique cars. Adults 6.50 and children 8-14 3 euros. We asked for a map at the front desk and asked direction at the information booth when we got of the ship. Shared Tours: We booked our tours with AP tours. I would highly recommend them. They arranged all requests and answered all our questions whenever asked. There was no only transfer to Rome tour on the website and Sarah created one. Also customized Naples with visiting Positano and not Sorrento which was a good choice due to high traffic that day. We booked them for Livorno, Rome and Positano. We wanted to have flex schedule with depart and arrival times. Livorno: Our driver Raphael was wonderful. We reserved the Accademia for 10:30. If you reserve over the phone, you give them the code and receive the tickets inside when paying. We were given free time in Florence to explore. We then drove to Pisa. We could not book the 3:30 tickets to climb the tower because they were already taken 20 days before when I signed on to purchase. Sarah let us book the 4:00 tickets. The tickets were scanned. Then we were charged on our credit card with the card that we used to reserve. You line up around 10 minutes before your entry time. There is a student discount for Accademia but not for Pisa Tower. You cannot visit the cathedral without the tower ticket. Rome: We purchased a shared tour transfer to Rome with AP Tours. I purchased the Museum Sistine Chapel tickets and the underground colosseum English spoken tours online. We could not understand our guide. Also the Sistine chapel/museum was so crowded. We had a 10:30 ticket entry time and actually had to leave the tour early at 12:30 to make our 1:20 tour for the underground colosseum tour. We wished we had more time to also visit the Vatican. Looking back we should have visited the Vatican earlier before the 10:30 tour. We jumped in a cab and I think it was 10.00 euros from the museum to the colosseum. The underground tour was amazing and I highly recommend it. We could understand the tour guide. Naples: We booked again with AP tours. We visited Pompeii in the morning and were able to avoid some of the heat. We had a great tour guide included with our tour. We did have to purchase the entry tickets which our tour guide Phina did for us. My son was free with id. Phina was our guide and we could understand her most of the time. Our driver suggested not driving to Positano because of traffic. There are three tunnels you need to drive through. Everyone in the car wanted to drive to Positano so we did. The driver was able to go around one tunnel and avoid some traffic. He joked about having to spend time with his mother for dinner. We were glad we decided to go to Positano. It is very crowded and hard to manage through the one road in and out. My son bought some lemon candy, and we tasted some local sandwiches. We also visited the beach, which is very hot and pebbly. It is amazing how they get the cars in and out of the garage, and parked so close together. Taormina: We loved Taormina. We got off the ship and asked someone if there was a bus to Taormina. They said no. There was a hop on hop off bus for $20.00 euro pp but I decided to cross the street and look at the bus schedule posted in a place that looked like a bus stop. It said Taormina so we waited for the bus. You can buy the tickets on the bus. They drop you at the bus stop at Taormina and we saw the hop off hop on tickets for 10.00 euro pp. There are a lot of shops to explore. I think this would be a great port to spend more time. There is a beach when you get off the ship but I wanted to see Taormina. Corfu: We did Corfu on our own. We took the bus to town and then I tried to use two atms which declined our transaction. We later used the atm at the port and it worked. I wished I used it first because I was little nervous with less cash. We found a taxi driver to take us to Glyfada beach. It was really nice. When they drop you off the chairs are 8.00 euros with umbrella. If you walk a little further in front of the hotel the price is $12.00 euros with umbrella. We arranged a time for the taxi to return. You pay half when they drop you and half when they return you to the ship. Croatia: The beginning of the day it rained which was a good thing because we were able to walk the wall without the heat when the rain let up. We finished walking the wall when the sun came out and it got really hot. We could barely get out of the entrance/exit when leaving. There were many people coming in and only one small line able to exit. The entrance to the wall is cash or credit card. Cash must be Kunas. Montenegro: We were tired of touring by this port and just walked around near the port. We stopped for wi-fi and bought a cappuccino. Venice: I purposely booked a hotel close to the people mover. When you get off the ship you can walk to the people mover. We purchased our people mover tickets the night before when it wasn’t busy. The tickets are not validated until you use them. They are 1.50. The people mover is one stop. You are let off near the taxi stand and train station. Walking towards the town there is a bridge that has a ramp to the left that is easier to go over than the first bridge you hit when leaving the taxi stand area. We didn’t know until we went over it later on the next day. We booked the Hotel Palazzo Odoni for two nights. The stairs a little tough with 6 pieces of luggage. The staff was very friendly and breakfast was very good. My only complaints were: the bed was a little hard and there were some mosquitoes in the room. For the price, breakfast and staff it was worth the stay. We found it easy to get around Venice. We bought a one day vaparetto ticket the second day. We visited Murano for the glass blowing demonstration. The cost was 5 euros and children are free. It did rain heavy the first night and we got stuck in the rain coming back from the square. There are people running around selling umbrellas for various prices. We did the gondola ride near the hotel the next night and it was so quiet and beautiful. He took us down the side canals and then to the main canal to drop us off. He recommended a restaurant Murao (I think that is the spelling) that my husband and son loved their pizza. I forget what I ordered but I know I didn’t like it and wished I stuck with the pizza. I hope my review and comments help. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2015
A slightly larger ship than we were used to, but plenty of room everywhere. The ship itself was modern but not too glitzy. A shame we never saw the officers, even a photo of them would have been nice. The show singers and dancers ... Read More
A slightly larger ship than we were used to, but plenty of room everywhere. The ship itself was modern but not too glitzy. A shame we never saw the officers, even a photo of them would have been nice. The show singers and dancers weren't very good neither the choreography or their voices. The girls were especially raucous. The crew were good however. The itinerary was excellent. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
This was our second HAL cruise, and the first one was nearly flawless. On this trip, our group really felt like we were being gauged for extras or being sold more services. This took away from the relaxation factor of the cruise and was a ... Read More
This was our second HAL cruise, and the first one was nearly flawless. On this trip, our group really felt like we were being gauged for extras or being sold more services. This took away from the relaxation factor of the cruise and was a sore spot with us, so I am downgrading to just very good. My basis for "very good" (instead of average rests on the great service from most of the staff. The Main Dining Room, Room Staff and Security Staff were excellent as usual, and in our opinion, are the feather in the cap of HAL. Just as kind and helpful as could be, as per usual. And on this trip, the Front Office Staff was also great, and I think they have one of the toughest jobs on the ship, judging from the cranky/rude customers they had to deal with on a daily basis. Never ceases to amaze me how nasty some people on vacation can be to the hardworking and low paid staff. I did also note that on this cruise, there were multiple folks who had nasty accidents (falls) while in different ports. Several actually left the ship with their injuries, and several had to seriously curtail their activities due to stitches, wounds, strains and bruises. Busted noses, busted knees, splinted arms.... I have to admit, my group was on high alert, as looking up at all the beautiful old sites while walking on old cobble stones and irregular steps is a bad combination. We all had some very close calls and stumbles in different cities, but I am happy to report that we all survived unscathed. If you are unsteady, I recommend a walking stick or cane, and a steady companion who can back you up. We also felt that younger people were generous in their description of "easy walk" or our favorite "only 5 minutes to get there". We found that "5 minutes" loosely translated, usually means 20 minutes, 200 uneven stairs, and 80 degree heat, all up hill. When selecting shore excursions, stick to the easy exertion levels if you are challenged. We heard many complaints from folks who could not keep up. One of our party cannot walk for long, and we were very sensitive to this issue. This is also another reason we prefer private excursion tours, as they can easily cater to any physical issues and usually get a lot closer parking than a tour bus. Well worth it in the end. Herma, Francis and Irfan in F/B were stellar in every way, as were our Room Staff, whose names escape us at this point. Also,we usually eat breakfast in our room, and almost everyday we received a call making sure that the breakfast met our needs. It arrived correctly and on time every single day! We found the embarkation and disembarkation nearly flawless on this trip, with no lines whatsoever on either end. We were amazed and pleased. We arrived at 2:15, with a 3:00pm deadline. On Disembarkation, we were in the 8:30-8:45am time slot. Half our group carried off our luggage, half did not, all did fine with the exception of a damaged wheel on a suitcase. We stayed in a Verandah Suite, 8008, on the Nav deck. Room was great. This room is directly across from a staff facility room, so the door opens and closes all night long, and some staff members are a little loud. Generally this did not bother us, but might bother some. This room is also directly under the Greenhouse Spa, generally not an issue unless they are rearranging things at closing time. Room as promised, clean, neat. Glad HAL does not allow smoking in cabins any more. (But some staff do smoke in some of the service rooms, which can't possibly be permissible.) My big room gripe? Cabin neighbors who smoke on their Verandahs and or those who don't understand the concept of closing a door softly. Ours let their balcony door slam every single time, or those who "drag" their balcony furniture around. Petty, I know,I know, but it makes me nuts. Getting off my soap box..... We did not personally partake in any entertainment, but 2 of our group did, and overall, they enjoyed it. Apparently, a few hits, a few misses, but overall good reviews. We did peek in on the BB King lounge, and it sounded great. Show cast seemed really sweet. I only used the gym once, but found it to be nice, with good options. I like to also walk the promenade deck. We only took 2 shore excursions, as we try hard to avoid them. Both were well organized and delivered as promised. Both were more of a scenic drive with brief stops where you could go it alone or stay with a guide. We did "Nice and EZE" tour and the Provence Les Maurers (?) tour. We would recommend both, and the price was good. Generally, we arrange our own private tours through local guides, as we can customize the itinerary as maximize the time in port, for less money. We also prefer to avoid standing around waiting for others to come back to the bus. We also get to avoid the "herd" experience. Again, I know it's my personal issue, but I find that some people on the excursions are beyond rude, and it makes me nuts. On the above mentioned excursions, one man and his wife felt the need to carry on loud independent group comments and conversations as the guide was trying to give us the history, all while they stood smack in the middle of the group. We all know how hard it is to hear the guides on a good day, especially for the folks who may be hard of hearing or more elderly. This same man felt the need to make several scathing remarks about how the French wouldn't be here without Americans, blah blah blah. My Vietnam Vet brother-in-law quickly shut him down. Okay...getting off my soap box..... We were in port with a "megaship" on a few occasions, and the crowds of shore excursions were unreal, they were all over, and there were a ton of them. This occurred in Naples/Pompeii/Amalfi on a national holiday in Italy, and traffic was a mess. As a result, 23 passengers on a non-HAL excursion did not make it back to our ship, which left without them. They did make it to the next port. Luckily we did a private tour, and our driver was constantly being updated on traffic, and devised an alternate route for us. Tender operations were very smooth, very well run, no issues at all. They did a great job of handing out numbers and getting everyone smoothly loaded in. Again, very well organized on this trip. Staff was great, Security was on task and efficient. They seemed very helpful to passengers needing additional assistance. I will say that our group felt that everything was a sales pitch, and this was a big negative for us. Art "auction", photos, behind the scenes tours, Thermal Spa, spa products, etc. On the barbecue night, drinks were offered up by waiters walking around with trays of pre-made cocktails. If you say yes, beware...because if it is in a swanky plastic HAL cup, that cup costs $3.95 MORE than the regular drink. They fail to mention this until the bill comes. Items of tchatkes and souvenirs are always being hawked on the ship. It never ends. Loved being able to take many sunset shots from the 10th/11th floor decks, while lounging in chairs, watching the sun go down. We did not partake in internet service packages. They are as slow as ever, and still expensive. I would like to see HAL upgrade this and follow the lead of hotels with free wi-fi. Or at least improve the quality of the service, if for a fee. We relied on free wi-fi on shore, which was usually available and fairly reliable. Venice was probably the most difficult place to find consistent free wi-fi. The barbecue night was good, but the seating was chaos. And getting non-alcoholic beverages served took forever, we made 3 requests, then finally got up and went in to the Lido restaurant and got our own. Food was good, lines were really long. (They close one of the Main Dining Room floors on this night). I would skip this next time, especially if traveling with older or less mobile friends. Great experience: We booked a Cabana Club corner cabana on our At Sea day, and it was well worth the $115, at least to us. Lovely, quiet, clean, comfortable. Plenty of room for all 4 of us. 2 big double loungers, and a dining table and chairs for 4. We were given fruit, water, and Evian mist. They took our lunch order (although a bit late, it was after 1), brought us food, served champagne and then chocolate covered strawberries in the afternoon. All this was included. A few points: information on the pricing and booking of the cabanas was sketchy online, and we could not book until we were on board. This is the first thing I did when I got on board. (I thought they would sell out quickly, but there were still empty cabanas on the At Sea day.) The flier provided at the front desk seemed old, as some of the items were not in evidence. It stated that we would actually have a food spread at the cabana club, which we did not. It stated that we would be served ice cream, we were not. It stated that we would receive some additional Greenhouse Spa discounts, but we did not. While these are certainly not deal breakers, I am just pointing out that it was not quite up to date. That being said, still great. And nothing prevents you from going down to Lido and getting food/snacks on your own, but again, they do take your order and deliver to your cabana for no additional charge. *Note, the Lido cabanas are much smaller, and sit on the Lido deck right next to the other diners. Different experience altogether, not private, not open to the ocean. Spend the extra money and get the Cabana Club size. There is also an open area among these larger cabanas to sit or lay in the sun as well. Great place to quietly lunch, read, relax, nap in the (fully shaded) gorgeous sea air. Worth it! HAL allowed 1 bottle of wine for each person at embarkation, but we only brought one, from Barcelona. For us, they used the honor system, and did not actually check our totes, but instead they just asked us if we had alcohol. We told them we had one bottle of wine, but they never even looked to see what we had. We also found that we could pre-order alcohol online from HAL for our room, and honestly, pricing was not that bad, and the bottles were huge, much larger than we anticipated. And easier than trying to "sneak" it on board. We did not come close to finishing our Skyy or Jack Daniels. We also inadvertently brought more alcohol on board during shore excursions. (Not thinking, we bought souvenirs of Limoncello and Sangria in silly little souvenir bottles, which sailed right through security without mention). Only later did we realize what we had done. We also had a small mini bottle of wine for our after-kayak trip, bought in town, that we never drank. This too was brought back on board and never discovered. We ended up giving away much of the alcohol we had purchased, but as a plus, also did not spend much money on onboard cocktails. The drink packages are also a good way to save on cocktails and soft drinks, if you will consume them. We loved our Main Dining Room experience. I have a food allergy, and they were great, giving me a custom menu to order from in advance. Consistent service, quality and experience every time. They even had the chef make me a special dessert based on one that I really liked on embarkation night. Really nice! They never disappointed us, really great. We are all carrying the extra weight to prove it. We dined at Pinnacle one time, and it was not up to the usual par. First, it is impossible to book reservations for more than 2 people at a time online. So, if you have a larger group, you need to re-arrange the reservation when you get on the ship to get all people in your party at the same table. When doing so, the Maitre D was very "put out" and stated that rearranging 3 separate tables for 4 people into one table for 4 was going to be "difficult". (Really?) Somehow, he managed to survive this hugely difficult chore, lol. He was honestly the only grouch we encountered among the staff on this ship and apparently other ship staff are aware of his reputation. Interesting to note that on the day we actually dined, the restaurant was half empty, and service was still slow. Our prior Pinnacle experience was awesome, (save for the fact that they fed me my food allergen after insisting it was fine) but not this one. They were slow, dishes sat on the table a long time, and quality was iffy. It took over an hour to get one iced tea, and we still never got the tea for 2 others at the table. Food was brought to the table lukewarm, and one party received a really salty entree. The waiter argued with us on all points, including the salty fish. He lectured our friend that if she could not eat salt, she should have told him up front. (She CAN eat salt, it's not her fault they over-salted the recipe) Only when the chef actually tasted the fish did they admit we were right, but the waiter never apologized. Well over an hour after sitting down they then offered a substitute for the fish. We had had enough at that point and were ready to leave. I actually timed the service issues on my phone, once service started going down hill. He argued with me about how long it took to get the tea. This was caused by his misunderstanding...he sent the wine steward to us for the tea. She was delayed, and when we told her we only wanted tea, she dropped the ball. Listen, we all have "off days", but being lectured and argued with at the table is not cool. They finally deducted two of the meals, but I had requested a refund on all four and did not get it. In retrospect, Tamarind was highly recommended, and I wish we had eaten there instead. In good faith, other cruisers we spoke to at at Pinnacle several times on this cruise, and did not have any issues. But I would be reluctant to eat here again. Main Dining Room was a great experience for us as usual, we will stick with them. We did not use the laundry service this time, although we have used it in the past and it is very good. We washed our own stuff in our room, as there is no laundromat on this ship. One of our group did use the bag service, $30 per bag, and he got his clothes back within 24 hours. Greenhouse Spa was good overall. I splurged big time and booked acupuncture, a pedicure, and a hot rock massage. The acupuncture doctor was really good, but came back in to the treatment room several times to pressure me to purchase $1000 more in treatments over the remaining days of the cruise. This completely ruined the "relaxation" treatment that I had requested. I work in the corporate world, so I am used to high pressure sales people, but this was way over the top. I had to literally stop her from "booking me in, just to save the appointment slot" on subsequent treatments. She literally had the port schedule in front of her, telling me when I would have "free time" to schedule these appointments. I should have actually requested a refund on this treatment, in retrospect, including the automatic tip. Additionally, the treatment room was right off the LIDO exit and elevators, being really busy and loud, and you could hear two separate PA/music systems being piped in. My pedicure was wonderful, thanks to Isabella. She was sweet, and the fire and ice hot rock pedi was delightful after all the walking around. I had mentioned the "hard sell" acupuncture appointment, so perhaps she laid off of selling anything. I highly recommend this, and Isabella was fabulous. My hot rock massage was EXCELLENT, and could not have been nicer. No sales pressure here, either. I highly recommend this treatment. *I booked all my spa treatments in advance online, because I wanted them to occur on At Sea days/mornings. Otherwise, I would recommend that you wait to book any spa services, because there are always discounts later in the cruise. Had I waited, I could have saved 20-30% for services, but again, I wanted very specific time spots. If you have more flexability, wait until you are onboard to book. My husband also had the hot rock massage, and loved it, but he was upsold on products, which he did not buy. I would have loved to experience the thermal room/spa/pool, but the pricing was exorbitant. Based on the spa service prices, HAL should allow you the use of the these features on the days that you purchase a full price spa treatment, just like every other spa in the world. $40 per day is ridiculous after spending $500 on spa services. Looked nice, but I was not going to pay for this. I recall that this did not used to be so expensive. Overall, a great trip, made so by the staff of HAL. Easy embarkation and disembarkation were a huge plus, very well organized. We really enjoy the size of the HAL ships, as it makes things more manageable and personal. We are averse to the megaships, just can't imagine being on a ship with 4000 passengers. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2015
As a seasoned cruiser, I have fairly high expectations of my cruise experiences, and the Nieuw Amrsterdam was outstanding. The food was exceptional (especially the specialty restaurants) and the staff always went above and beyond to ensure ... Read More
As a seasoned cruiser, I have fairly high expectations of my cruise experiences, and the Nieuw Amrsterdam was outstanding. The food was exceptional (especially the specialty restaurants) and the staff always went above and beyond to ensure all your needs were being met. And, it was always done with a smile. As has been mentioned before, if I had one recommendation, it would be to get the vibration problem fixed. My rating would have been excellent, but the vibration did get annoying after awhile. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
There was a drill for the crew when we came aboard and all the elevators were unavailable. Neither of us handle stairs very well and if we had to climb more than two decks we wouldn't have been able to do it. The Greenhouse Spa was ... Read More
There was a drill for the crew when we came aboard and all the elevators were unavailable. Neither of us handle stairs very well and if we had to climb more than two decks we wouldn't have been able to do it. The Greenhouse Spa was wonderful. I can't believe that sleep is possible in concrete and tile lounges but somehow I only managed 2 or 3 pages in my book before I zonked out. The therapy pool was good for my wife - some maintenance issues that were fixed in a few days. The jet in the center of the pool was way too strong but the people responsible for maintaining it insisted it was "just fine"; we disagree. If you prepay for the Greenhouse you may find a lower price advertised don't worry, call customer relations and they will fix it quickly. We were mildly disappointed that we couldn't get into Tamarind for dim sum. The venue is small and only available for dim sum 3 days in the 14 days of the crew. Enough negativity. The ship was spotlessly clean, the food was excellent, the service impeccable, all up to Holland America's high standards. We booked the cruise largely for the 8 sea days. They were wonderfully restful. All in all one of the best of our 41 cruises. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
This was another good cruise...our first TA and our 15th HAL cruise. The "dry-dock" continued right up to the last day when we left the ship in Venice. It was more nuisance that inconvenience but it would have been nice if they ... Read More
This was another good cruise...our first TA and our 15th HAL cruise. The "dry-dock" continued right up to the last day when we left the ship in Venice. It was more nuisance that inconvenience but it would have been nice if they had completed the work before selling tickets on the next cruise. The food was good, crew friendly & helpful, and the itinerary busy once we got to the Med. Breakfast in the Lido seemed like they were under staffed...we had to get our own drinks. We feel like HAL should have more activities on sea days...shore excursions were too expensive (as usual)...shore transportation was not well explained before we got into port (the Location Guide NEVER offered city bus as an option) All that being said; we booked a future cruise while on this one plus we already had an Alaska HAL cruise booked before we booked this 26 day cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2015
We has been cruise for more than 10 times in difference cruise lines, this is our first long Transatlantic cruise, 26 days, from Miami to Venice. On this cruise, everything's meet the standards of the other cruise lines (not the ... Read More
We has been cruise for more than 10 times in difference cruise lines, this is our first long Transatlantic cruise, 26 days, from Miami to Venice. On this cruise, everything's meet the standards of the other cruise lines (not the exclusive cruise lines). We are very easy going couple, we are not picky. But in this cruise, for 26 days we had a lot of times to talk to the other passengers and every body was agreed that HAL need to improve the nightly production/broadway shows. For a reason that I don't know why the Cruise Critic's Editor gave a 5 stars on the review of this ship activity (?). BTW, I am sorry for not write a long review b/c I don't know how to type and not very good on grammar. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
Our first transatlantic cruise - greatly enjoyed the six days' crossing, which were relaxing and allowed us to get our body clocks on Europe time. The ship had just come from refurbishing and was pristine. Food was excellent, ... Read More
Our first transatlantic cruise - greatly enjoyed the six days' crossing, which were relaxing and allowed us to get our body clocks on Europe time. The ship had just come from refurbishing and was pristine. Food was excellent, service excellent for the most part, entertainment so-so with some performances simply too loud for the theater or the club setting, and others not so great. Some of the on-board activities (bridge, some of the lectures and tours, tech lessons, etc) were crowded during so much time at sea. The historical lectures were excellent. Internet access was horrible - they'll probably improve it, but check before you sign up for expensive minutes. Our suite cabin was wonderful - we upgraded from a veranda a few weeks before sailing and were very happy we did. The last minute price was reasonable, and the extra room and amenities in the cabin were extremely enjoyable during a long cruise. We'll find it hard to go back to regular veranda cabins! The bathroom was terrific, with a jacuzzi tub, separate shower and a long vanity with two sinks and shelf underneath. There was a huge flat screen HD television, and they upgraded the programming as we sailed (the new system had been installed immediately before this cruise). Room service was excellent, and we used the large balcony much more than on other cruises because it was spacious with table/chairs and lounge chairs. We took several ship sponsored port excursions. The tour guides were very good. The tours were expensive for the most part. In several locations, we were rushed back to the ship when we would have liked to spend more time in the towns/villages (e.g, the bus would arrive back at the ship at 1pm when departure was not until 4pm). In the future we'll investigate local tours that we can reserve on our own or pick up once we get to port Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2015
We took the TA on 4/8/15 after having been on 2 other HAL ships that definitely had staff issues and maintenance problems. We figured we'd give HAL one more chance and we are glad we did! The Nieuw Amsterdam was great! I have no ... Read More
We took the TA on 4/8/15 after having been on 2 other HAL ships that definitely had staff issues and maintenance problems. We figured we'd give HAL one more chance and we are glad we did! The Nieuw Amsterdam was great! I have no complaints, but I do have some compliments. We ate in the MDR every night on the Open Seating plan. We never had to wait for a table once in the 2 weeks. The service was great except for 1 night and I think it possible that that waiter was new to his job. We all (6) helped him along and nobody was really upset at his mistakes. The time it took between courses to get the next course was acceptable. And when we got the food, it was delicious!! If it was supposed to be hot, it was! Whenever either my husband or I had beef it was cooked to perfection--just the way we asked it to be done. The same with the tuna. The staff overall was very friendly, courteous, and helpful. Our stewards were super. The entertainment was very good or not so good depending on your likes. We loved the Alley Cats and Pianotainment. The staff show was really good. The "Broadway" type night was good too, but on occasion the music was too loud and it drown out the singers.The musician was so so and the Supreme Dream Girls we walked out of because the music was so loud that they were screaming into their mics. The drummer was on an ego trip I think! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
Our trip, which embarked on March 22, was a relaxed, easy seven day trip. Embarkation took no time and we were in our rooms long before we expected. If you are driving, The Park and Go, is very efficient and accommodating, and will save ... Read More
Our trip, which embarked on March 22, was a relaxed, easy seven day trip. Embarkation took no time and we were in our rooms long before we expected. If you are driving, The Park and Go, is very efficient and accommodating, and will save you money on parking. We were in a balcony room, 7002, and I was a little worried because we had read about the complaints of vibrations on this ship. We did feel some (we were right behind the navigation deck) but it never became an issue for us. We actually liked the ease we had in getting to the stairs which we used more often than the elevators to hit the Lido Deck (9). We booked one night at Pinnacle and one at Tamarind, and both were good. The staff at Tamarind couldn't have been any better. I love to cook so I am a bit of a critic when it comes to food, but both restaurants were fine. Dining at the Manhattan Dining Room was also okay. The staff was fun, funny, and personable. The food was fine. The Lido experience to me was not so great. This might be because I don't much like buffets and the lines were long with really grumpy people. It bothered me the way they addressed the hard-working employees. Shame on them! I appreciated the effort the employees gave to each individual request (some really ridiculous ones), and tried my best to make up for some of the fellow passengers. There many offerings for different tastes, and I tried a lot of them. There's something for everyone. Af far as entertainment, my favorite was the B.B.King band. Very good. Jimmy, the piano guy, in the bar off the casino, was also a fun, intimate sing-along experience. I don't think we had a comedian on board, other than the people I came with, but that would have been a nice addition. As far as excursions, we only took one in San Juan. The Stroll Through Old San Juan. I thoroughly enjoyed this and would recommend it. Rafael, our guide, was very knowledgeable and also very sensitive to the needs of the individuals in his tour. He did this in a very direct but gentle way, and managed to keep a move along group to walk a little slower so all could keep up. (Note: if you have issues walking or climbing stairs, you should take a different tour.) In the other ports, we just walked off the ship. In St. Thomas, we took a taxi into town ($4.00), but we aren't much into shopping so we didn't hang around long. Next time, I'd take an excursion to St. John. Turks and Caicos we just walked off the ship as well. I live in a place with a nice beach, so the beaches aren't a big draw for me, but I'm sure those from other places would appreciate Megan's Bay, Trunk's Bay, and the beach right off the ship in Turks and Caicos. By far, the best experience on this trip for me was meeting the staff and fellow passengers. Our cabin stewards, Rai and Trisna, and the bartenders and servers at SeaView bar ( Elmer, Henry, Jackie, Gretchen, and Armando) sort of made the trip for me. Claudia, in the Casino, did the same. That kind of customer service isn't found often on a fairly busy cruise ship. I've cruised on Princess, Royal Carribbean, Carnival, and this is only my second time on Holland America. The demographics are an older crowd, which to me was a good thing for a trip to the Caribbean when we just wanted to relax. We will sail again on HAL. Next time Europe and a longer trip Also, I would like to thank Holland for allowing smoking on their balconies, and most smokers now are cognizant (I would hope) of not offending nonsmokers, and are extremely careful with disposing of their cigarettes and cigars. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2015
My wife and I just completed an Eastern Caribbean cruise on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam. This is our 11th cruise on HAL, 7th time on the Nieuw Amsterdam. Embarkation was very efficient. We were able to enjoy priority ... Read More
My wife and I just completed an Eastern Caribbean cruise on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam. This is our 11th cruise on HAL, 7th time on the Nieuw Amsterdam. Embarkation was very efficient. We were able to enjoy priority embarkation due to having a Neptune Suite. Arrived at the terminal at 10:30 and were on the ship at around 11:15. We headed directly to the Neptune Lounge where we met our lovely concierges, Caroline and Jersey, and enjoyed a few snacks and a couple of glasses of champagne. At noon, we went to our suite to get rid of our carry-ons. The suite was ready for us, and it was very clean and tidy. We always go to the Manhattan Dining Room for our first lunch and it was great. We noticed that the waiters have new uniforms that are very formal looking...a nice new touch! After lunch we went back to our Neptune Suite where we met our room steward, Ferry. Ferry provided great service to our room twice per day...very efficient and it was always tidy and clean. Overall we found the ship very clean well maintained. We did not observe any rust stains and noticed crews were always either cleaning the ship, or painting areas. We had dinner at the specialty restaurants (Tamarind and Pinnacle Grill) six out of the seven evenings as we don’t care for the noise and bustle of the Manhattan Dining Room. Service and food at the Tamarind was exceptional, as always. Dinners at the Pinnacle Grill were also outstanding; the beef was done exactly as we asked for it. They have also gone back to serving you your Caesar Salad table side, which is a nice touch. Dinner at “An Evening at Le Cirque” was outstanding, make sure to order the escargot as an appetizer! Neptune Suite guests can order dinner off of the Manhattan Dining Room and have it delivered to their suite. We did this one night and it is a great respite from having to get dressed for dinner and go out of your suite. We enjoyed a great dinner in the privacy of our balcony. We enjoyed 2 lunches at the Tamarind, which is a set menu but very, very good. Other times at lunch we would just head to the Neptune Lounge where they had an assortment of open face sandwiches, raw veggies and yummy desserts. For breakfast, Neptune Suite guests have access to the Pinnacle grill, so we enjoyed very relax full breakfasts in a quiet and beautiful setting. We ordered breakfast room service on the day of disembarkation and it was hot and tasty. Other days when we wanted to sleep in we just went to the Neptune Lounge and had a light breakfast. We are proud to say that we never went into the Lido for any food. We find this place very busy, noisy and more like a school cafeteria than a fine dining venue. We were told on the ship that during the dry dock they are going to transform the Lido into more of what you would find at a shopping mall food court, with separate stations serving separate food varieties. We don’t participate in many of the day time activities, preferring to sit on our spacious balcony and enjoy the view or read a book. A favourite pastime of ours is to head down to the Neptune Lounge around 5 pm and take a number of hors d’oeuvres back to our balcony and have a couple of drinks before dinner. The hors d’oeuvres change every night which is a nice touch. The evening shows are typical HAL cruise fare however the highlight was Cantare on the final second formal night. There were only a couple of negatives that marred a fine cruise experience. Our toilet would not flush occasionally. I brought this up to our room steward, but nothing was done to fix it. We were never sure that it would flush when you tried to flush it. The other negative experience is HAL’s smoking policy. HAL allows smoking on balconies, in certain common areas and in the casino. There were heavy smokers right next to our cabin, who smoked day and night on their balcony. The second hand smoke that blew into our balcony was unbearable. It made our noses stuffy and stung our eyes. Many times we would have to retreat inside due to the second hand smoke. They would also flick their ashes onto our balcony. In the morning we would see several cigarette butts on our balcony floor. We also observed cigarette burns on the balcony furniture. Both the cigarette butts and the cigarette burns must be a fire hazard, and I did not see any fire suppression systems on the balcony, unlike the QM2 that we have sailed on. Other cruise ships have banned smoking on their balconies and in the casino. We were on Celebrity Cruise line (Summit) in Aug 2014, who do not allow smoking on their balconies and it was a pleasurable experience. I don’t understand why HAL does not adopt this policy? Perhaps their strategy is to lure all the smokers on their ships with their liberal smoking policy. This is the 21st century!! I remember the old days when they allowed smoking “zones” on planes, which was a laugh as the air was circulated throughout the plane and when the first guy lit up, the whole plane would smell it. This is the same situation here. The smoke from one balcony goes to the next balcony. Unless HAL revises their smoking policy it is unlikely we with them again. Goodbye HAL, hello Celebrity! 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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