2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2012
The Snootiest ship in the fleet This is my review of the Nieuw Amsterdam cruise November 25 through 2 December 2012. It is subjective as all reviews are, as we aare all different and like/dislike many many things. So with that said; ... Read More
The Snootiest ship in the fleet This is my review of the Nieuw Amsterdam cruise November 25 through 2 December 2012. It is subjective as all reviews are, as we aare all different and like/dislike many many things. So with that said; Pre Cruise: We arrived in Ft Lauderdale on Thanksgiving Day, 22 November 2012, 3 days before our cruise date of 25 November because we decided (1) The flights on South West Airlines were cheap. (2) We wanted to start our cruise mode early:) *As an aside, we rented a car for usage during our extra days in Ft Lauderdale.* We had Thanksgiving dinner at Lester's (I'd called them months ago to make sure they would be open. The food is absolutely some of the best I have ever eaten!! Embarkation: Embarkation was so smooth and impressed me more this time than any other. We were at the Port by 10:30 and on board the ship in what seemed like 10 minutes, but I know it cannot have been because they don't open the ship until 11:30, right? And I had to pick up my Scooter at the Special Needs at Sea Kiosk in front of the Terminal...... Budi our Room Steward met me as I started to enter my cabin and took care of me the entire cruise!! His work taking care of me was awesome and I loved his attention:) About 1/2 way into the cruise Budi told me he liked doing things for me as he missed his mother and family and helping me made it easier on him, which made me feel like some one special. I must add here that I went on this cruise against my doctors advice. I have a multitude of health problems that have cropped up on me since May 2012, to include a Compression fracture of the T7 vertebrae (Thoracic spine), which translates to a broken back, Buerger's Disease and 2 major allergies going on that meant taking heavy doses of prednisone over a 6 month time frame, which also caused many more problems, to include forcing me to use oxygen 24/7, which was a good thing because I did not smoke 99.99% of the time. I still am smoking very little and rally do not miss them at all (well rarely).....Needless to say, I was hard pressed to get out of my stateroom and verandah and roam the ship. For me the ship is the reason I cruise, I can vegetate and do not have to worry about anything!! Prior to Sail Away from Port Everglades I called the Neptune Lounge and asked to meet with my Life Boat Captain in order to show how nearly impossible it was for me in my scooter and broken back to get to the Drill. The young Lady, forgot her name sorry, called me about 5 minutes later and told me that since I had been on 9 cruise s with HAL previously, did not have to attend the drill, but also asked that I re-familiarize myself with the drill via the TV and the Life Vests themselves, which I did. Hubby also told the Crew Member (Lifeboat Captain?? and he told him he'd already been notified and not to worry.) Apparently, the Staff Captain decided that my ailments were not good enough and I received a letter the next morning directing me to a 5:00 pm Make Up Drill on the Promenade Deck under Life Boat 1 and that if I was not there I would be put off the ship at the next port........I called our concierge and talked to Gilbert and he arranged for a Crew Member to come and get me in a Ship manual wheelchair and take me to the drill. He said I was to stay in my stateroom and the crew member would get me at a little before 5 pm....NOT!!!!!!! 5 pm came and went (along with the AC) and no one came except Gilbert who was coming to check our AC problem (Which also affect ALL of the Aft Wrap Staterooms.) When he saw I was still waiting he called his supervisor and THEY made sure I got to the Drill. Even with the Wheel Chair it took 3 crew members to get me over that freaking arch that separates the inside from the promenade. BUT I made it!! Moral is: Crew does not communicate and I will get as close as possible to my station and sit there and wait until someone notices me and assists me in getting out there. This is not only my problem but also the problem of most of us who are in wheel chairs and scooters......I will no longer assume that a crew member will be there in an emergency situation on the Nieuw Amsterdam:( I did get to the Lido aft once for a very short time and decided I was happier in my stateroom, SC 6175 (my favorite staterooms on any ship are these awesome aft wrap around staterooms! These are my Penthouse!!!) I also got to the Crow's Nest for the M&G to meet all of my fellow CC family. I was very very disappointed that NOT ONE of the Ship Officers or Crew felt the need to drop in and say hello, not even the Event/Party Planner or Cruise Director:( Oh well, their loss as the CC members who were at the M&G are AWESOME PEOPLE!!! Luggage arrived 5 minutes after I did!! I did see a couple of the HAL Shore Reps that I have seen and talked to on previous cruises out of Port Everglades, which is a good thing because a new company has taken over Shore/Port Operations and we were all worried about our favorites losing their jobs. According to one of the ladies, the new company gave them first choice to remain or not. She said many had chosen to re retire and enjoy life at home with their loved ones. The Ship: The first time I cruised on Nieuw Amsterdam in November 2010, 4 months after her inagural cruise, I could not put my finger on why I felt less than happy/comfortable with her. This cruise I figured it out!!! The Nieuw Amsterdam is a Snooty Ship!!! From the ship itself to the Captain and most of the crew it exudes snootiness, with a couple of exceptions being, Gilbert in the Neptune Lounge and Budi, our Chief Stateroom Steward. It was like the ship and the people manning her thought themselves above all others and had their noses in the air (if a ship can have its' nose in the air), As an example, once hubby thanked an one of the crew who wa polishing omething for doing a great job in what he and others did to keep all of us, the guests, happy and thankful, that young man looked back at my hubby and gave him a look as if to say *What the Hades else do you expect? Weare the best and you are nothing to me." This seemed to be typical on the Nieuw Amsterdam....I will not say never will I sail on her again, but will say that I will do my best to avoid this SNOOTY ship!!! I Hope y'all understand what I mean as I cannot explain it any better. OK, now for a bit more details on the ship: Stateroom SC 6175: Awesome to be in it, just disappointed in the small size of verandah which I knew was smaller than the Vistas, but this cruise sealed my dislike of the tiny verandah as opposed to the Vista ships. There was 1 major problem for 5 hours on 26 November. Let me tell you that it was horrific and I cannot imagine what someone in an inside stateroom would go through........Gilbert, one of our Concierges did bring us a fan, but it was not really that effective for a stateroom layout such as ours. Stateroom Stewards: Budi and his Assistant were absolutely the best Room Stateroom Stewards we have ever had!!! Food: I did not eat in any of the Dining Venues, only because it was as I wished:) Hubby did eat in the Pinnacle Grill, Main Dining Room and the Lido. We had In Room Dining every morning and all was perfect!! I did not care for the one All American Burger from the In Room Dining Service, it was tasteless. We also had one formal night (I think it was the 1st one) In Room Dining (Not the White Table Cloth one, just regular) and it was wonderful, meat was blue just as I love it and fr the first time in years I had no complaints about my steak:) The rest of my meals hubby would go to the Lido and get me 2 or 3 slices of HAL's DELICIOUS pizza (I LOVE HAL PIZZA!!! I love my pizza without red sauce and that is exactly how they do it) and a bowl of Spaghetti Carbonara or for some lunches, nachos!!! Entertainment: I did not attend any. I made my own by sitting on th verandah watching the world go by or watching movies on TV. Disembarkation: WOW!!!! How smooth can you get?????? We were off the ship at 9:20, luggage loaded onto a Porter's cart and on to the Westerdm right across the street for the 2nd leg of this vacation by 9:35:) Summary: All said and done, this was a good cruise for me. I believe that if my health had been better I might have enjoyed it more, but who can say for sure??? She is a beautiful DAM ship and though I did not care for her, please do not let me turn you "off" of this ship. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2012
My spouse and I were on our first transatlantic cruise with HAL on the Nieuw Amsterdam for the Transatlantic farewell and we embarked in Barcelona on October 29th. Embarking was quick, smooth, a pleasant experience free of hassle that ... Read More
My spouse and I were on our first transatlantic cruise with HAL on the Nieuw Amsterdam for the Transatlantic farewell and we embarked in Barcelona on October 29th. Embarking was quick, smooth, a pleasant experience free of hassle that some of our friends told us to expect. Our first day on board was pleasant and the weather was sunny but chilly on our on time departure. As this was our first cruise with HAL we were not surprised to have high health standards on the first days that we were on board. By high standards I mean having a crew member to hand you hand sanitizers every time you came in and out of the dining room, Lido, theater, etc. and have the Cruise Director, Dave Shea repeatedly asking the guests "to wash your hands" in his inaugural speech when presenting the Captain and crew. What was not told to us while boarding was that the ship was already under a health RED alert as a lot of guests had started their cruise in Venice 7 days earlier. The first day at sea was just fun discovering all the secrets of the ship and trying to get a sense of all the good written information/promotions that was given to us. Then after our first port call in Cadiz, Spain we started to look at other guests and realized the age difference... and we are in our early sixties. We realized then that the on-board activities were more directed towards the over 70 crowd than the more active and younger crowd. Please be assured that my comments are not directed to any guests or age group but just realizing a fact. This will definitely cave in for the next cruise selection. Then after 4 days, right after Lisbon, we were surprised when the health standards were dropped for a while and then came back 3 to 4 days prior to our arrival. We understood there was another major health problem especially when all crew and staff were affected to clean disinfect all chairs, tables, handrails, flower pot, 5 minutes before lunch time in the Lido. We could not sit on the chairs or deposit our plates on the table as there was a soapy mixture left lingering everywhere. During nighttime there were masked crew spraying carpets and walls of all corridors. All spas, pools were shut down and drained until FL. We were alerted of the "second" red code alert on board by some crew members with whom we had friendly contact and we were waiting for some information from the Captain on the situation. It never came. Never. We "literally" had to get the information out of a Head Housekeeper's mouth after telling her "that it was our right to know what virus was going around" as she was heading a small 3 person crew in disinfecting the room next to ours. Her answer was diplomatic but not reassuring enough as we felt she was not authorized to speak about the matter. We were very much disappointed by the crisis management of these situations which happens often on a cruise ship (as I learned later). We understand hygiene is very important on board and especially when on a 6 days crossing and confined to the ship. But transparency and communication is key in these situations. Instead of just changing procedure without notice and only reiterating and asking "to wash your hands" an informative memo in each cabin mailbox from the Captain or on board Doctor to acknowledge the virus and explain hygiene procedures would have been good communication to the guests. Not giving any information on the situation was not the right decision by HAL and we were very disappointed by HAL in this situation. I am not sure how other cruise line proceed but hopefully they communicate better to their guests. The crew, the service (24hrs), the cabin, the food, especially at dinner in the Manhattan, the activities that we attended, the full rest we enjoyed most often on Promenade deck as the Lido deck always had music. The ship and its decor, and the transatlantic crossing were terrific besides those Red Alerts and the not so good evening shows. The Cabana Club was closed all the time and could have been opened without services during the crossing for more guest space in the sun and fresh air instead of sitting there idle...Sometimes company rules should be revised according to the nature of the cruise. Disembarking was more than crazy as a lot of people did not follow the procedures or lines. One woman said to me "see it as a highway ramp and I am on the ramp and going through". This was a last bugger going out of the ship and no crew were helpful. All in all a terrific first crossing experience and for our next cruise we will definitely look for a younger crowd and hopefully a bug free ship.....if this can be found. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
In general the ship is beautiful, luxurious and comfortable. The main centrum lobby was lacklustre with a wild glass staircase that was awkward to manage, and the low ceilings and the bright red of the dining room were off-putting. ... Read More
In general the ship is beautiful, luxurious and comfortable. The main centrum lobby was lacklustre with a wild glass staircase that was awkward to manage, and the low ceilings and the bright red of the dining room were off-putting. However that is a personal observation as I prefer soaring ceilings and large windows in the dining room. The temperatures throughout the ship were uneven to say the least, frigid in the lounge close to the dining room and then sweltering in the dining room itself at times.The centre section is much better but you have to reserve a table there, so by all means do so if you are doing free dining. No one gives you that information. On evenings when the ship has an outdoor party planned on the Lido deck, forget altogether about the dining room as the menu then is lame and the service weak. The food on board was better than average, and at times wonderful as well as at dinner times downright questionable. Breakfasts in the Lido offered marvellous eggs benedict and great waffles with several toppings and whipped cream. The stage show was a wonderful venue with terrific seating and amazing staging possibilities. Their dance team is superb. Other entertainment was spotty. There are three notable spaces on the ship: First the bright and airy Explorations lounge which is a combination bar, internet centre, and wonderful library with games tables and a coffee bar as well...an exhilarating space! The second is a bar called The Silk Room which overlooked the lower deck and had little cubicles with sofas and cushions. never saw a soul there but it was a cool place. And thirdly, the new Kitchen at Sea Centre where fragrant cooking is done, tastings are offered to everyone and recipes are handed out. This is a real winner! As to the Spa, if you are fan of the thermolassy pool which is $40 per day, wait a few days and you will find it offered for the balance of the cruise at about $15 per day. Our veranda cabin was on deck five forward and that turned out to be handy to the door leading to the large open bow deck which was opened for passengers on certain comings and going into port. A convenient touch for passengers like us. Holland America's rooms and balconies are faultless, roomy, quiet, and sport comfort plus beds. Flat screen tv. Surprised to see that there is no plug in the bathroom for a hair dryer and it must be used in the bedroom...a bit awkward. There is only one large store and I found it so-so, lacklustre sales, with staff that were actually annoying. Lido Deck is lovely with attractive dark furniture and orchids on every table. Pool deck is the nicest I have encountered with wide lounges and an assortment of seating areas. BUT THEY SHOULD GET RID OF THE LITTLE TENTS LINING THE SIDE WALL AVAILABLE FOR THE POSH TO RENT AND GLOAT AT THE REST OF US. RIDICULOUS AND A JOKE. And last but not least, the same smiling, genuinely friendly, Indonesian and S.E. Asian crew who really do make a difference in your cruising happiness. By the way, why spend these exhorbitant dollars on the internet when there are cheap internet cafes in every port. Ditto for their tours. It was disconcerting to have to pay $79 per person for transfer from the ship in Venice to the airport when you can take the free bus shuttle, to the $1 euro people mover to the $6 blue airport bus in Piazza Roma and arrive as quickly. It makes you wonder when there are so many wonderful things about cruising, why they have to gouge you in these areas. It truly grates on people's sense of fairness, don't you agree? Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
After completing a number of investigations into cruising we decided to choose Holland America and their new ship Nieuw Amsterdam. It was a fantastic cruise with lots of things to do onboard and the food was of a high standard. Below I ... Read More
After completing a number of investigations into cruising we decided to choose Holland America and their new ship Nieuw Amsterdam. It was a fantastic cruise with lots of things to do onboard and the food was of a high standard. Below I have listed pros and cons. After reading a lot of reviews we decided not to do any shore excursions by HAL and organised a few with cruise critic roll calls, the best thing we did as reports from other cruisers was that HAL excursions are extremely overpriced and not worth the money. Will definitely do another cruise, with who we are yet to decide. Pros: Cabin was well set out and the balcony was worth the extra cost. Our cabin stewards Arie and Gerdie were excellent, nothing was a problem. Food, lido had a good array of food for all tastes. Manhattan dining room was very good. Pinnacle grill was well worth the extra cost as was the Tamarind. Dined at Le Cirque one evening and wasn't worth the extra cost, would avoid this in future. Entertainment was very good but the Piano Bar was the highlight. This guy is a true entertainer. Comedian was very funny. The shows by cast members very entertaining. Embarking and disembarking was not a problem, very efficient. Cons: Why this ship hasn't got free wifi astounds me, the penny pinching wifi access was either non operating and very costly. When we docked at Argostoli there was free wifi in the information centre and at any given time there was about 60-70 people using this. If HAL had any sense they would provide free wifi at least in ports, if it was a money making exercise think about this, if I had access to wifi in ports I would be using this whilst having a drink or two which isn't a bad money spinner for HAL 15% service charge on all drinks, what a farce this is. Even on soft drinks they did this. Build it into the cost of the drinks and get rid of the charge, just plain stupid really. Why do Australians pay more? I asked this question to the future cruise person on board and he admitted this was true and just shrugged his shoulders and said this is fact but couldn't answer why exactly. To be fair and equitable HAL needs to offer specials to Australians. Talking with fellow cruisers we paid in excess of $1,000 more than some travellers. HAL Australia needs to be up to date with their knowledge. I was told I couldn't pre book a table or time prior to travelling but this was not the case as a fellow cruiser from America could not only book his time but the table also. We were also advised by HAL Australia that the fee would be $11 per day per person but this was $11.50 and was changed over two months before the cruise. Only a small amount but HAL Australia needs to be up to date. As stated HAL shore excursions. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2012
Like many of us CC members, I love cruising so after my last Mediterranean cruise in 2010 on the Noordam I was really looking forward to the 24 day Mediterranean Adventure on the Nieuw Amsterdam. Checking in, in Barcelona, was ... Read More
Like many of us CC members, I love cruising so after my last Mediterranean cruise in 2010 on the Noordam I was really looking forward to the 24 day Mediterranean Adventure on the Nieuw Amsterdam. Checking in, in Barcelona, was faultless. It was wonderfully hassle free. It wasn't until I was in the cabin that I looked at our dining arrangements and found they had us down for early sitting. This was not what was asked for at time of booking back in September 2011. A quick visit to the Dining Manager had us changed to the later sitting. I found the food in The Manhattan Dining Room to be good but not outstanding.I was disappointed with the Lido. Too often the food was warm to cold. The Pinnacle Grill maintains it's reputation but I was very impressed with the food and service in the Canaletto. It was fantastic (I love my Italian fare). Most breakfasts we dined in the Manhattan Dining Room. It was a welcome respite from the crowded Lido. The terrace grill was OK as was Slices, that is until I found out the pizzas were not made fresh, they were frozen, pre-packaged. I didn't go to any of the shows in the main theatre as I have found them to be very cliched and repetitive as is the case on the cruise lines I have sailed with. The bars we frequented offered the usual good service and the 'happy hours' were a great relief to the hip pocket. Shore excursions were OK but as usual they are very much overpriced. A 4WD excursion in Corfu was $179 per person with 4 people in one vehicle. That's $716 per vehicle and there were 11 vehicles in the convoy. I daresay one could hire a vehicle for a whole lot less. The ports visited were all unique in their individual ways but once again transfers by coaches provided by HAL were expensive. It's what being a captive audience is all about. I can't remember a cruise where I have had so much buy, buy, buy stuff crammed into to our letter receptacle. One truly hopes that HAL does recycle it's paper because I had visions of a landscape denuded of trees with all the paper thrown at us on this cruise. The one saving thing on all cruise lines is the cabin staff. I cannot recall having a bad cabin crew on any of my 11 cruises and this was the case with HAL's crew. The Cruise Director, David Shea a very friendly like-able chap and was very approachable, unlike some Cruise Directors I have sailed with. I cannot see how HAL makes money out of those ridiculous cabanas. I rarely saw many occupied. They would be best removed with more tables and chairs in their place. It might increase bar sales. As the newest ship in the HAL fleet I was a little disappointed but not to the point it spoiled my cruise. I did find the Noordam in 2010 a better experience. Whilst I may have highlighted a few negatives I did really enjoy my cruise. The itinerary certainly helps with the enjoyment of a cruise and to have 2 nights in my favourite city in the world, Venice was magical as was the overnight stay in the most amazing of places, Istanbul. Touring during the days, chatting with fellow cruisers back on board, recapping the highlights of the days, relaxing times on our balcony sipping a wine and reading a book all makes for a wonderful holiday and that's what I got. My message to new cruisers is not to expect too much. There will be things that irk you but put them aside soak up the cruising experience. You will enjoy it. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
The ship is mostly great...my main moan is about the a/con..you just can't turn it off, or even down, in your cabin. Hence I went down with a lurgy bug...cough, splutter, as did many on board. We ended up wedging our door open, just ... Read More
The ship is mostly great...my main moan is about the a/con..you just can't turn it off, or even down, in your cabin. Hence I went down with a lurgy bug...cough, splutter, as did many on board. We ended up wedging our door open, just to get some good old fresh free sea air! Not good. Verandah Stateroom 6049 was fine.it was an upgrade from VH Gurantee..but was a bit weird as it was a disabled room. However,we had more room in a way, but we had to get used to the slope onto the balcony, & the rather odd shower/wet room...no bath, but no problem. We were a tad surpirised there were no "spa type "slippers provided in the bathroom..the floor got very wet after showering, plus the vents to take the water away were quite"sharp".(Actually there were no slippers even in the Spa, so perhaps I was over optimistic!) we had no sofa in the room either, presumably to make space for a wheelchair...it wasnt a problem to us though. Comfy bed, lovely pillows. Strange little towel animals appeared every night! And choccies! Room stewards very good...always there, but never seen! Foodin general was very good, but we chose to eat in MDR every night, we didn't like the scrummage in Lido self serve the coffee & tea here was poor We also dined in Tamarind & Pinnacle ..both good. Open seating in MDR worked well...except 1 night when they forgot us! We met some great people...& a few oddballs! That's Life! Entertainment on board was better than we had heard! The HAL male group Cantare are almost as good as Il Divo...(but not quite as hunky!) Several acts "brought in" were good also..an English girl singer/impressionist & a Canadian comic were really good. Just can't remember their names...possibly due to too much vino?(We enjoyed the opportunity to take our own wine onboard to our cabin also!) We also liked the onboard cinema...small but very comfy...good movies &popcorn! Need to get there early! Loved Istanbul, &Santorini was gorgeous...pity we didn't get to see Mykonos due to high seas. The captain thought it would be too dangerous to tender there..we were glad he was cautious! We had extra time in Kusadasi instead...fighting off the Turks who kept trying to sell us diamonds & carpets. A good port itinerary..that's what made us choose this cruise, but we were also quite impressed with HAL...we may even try another cruise Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
This was a 24 day cruise sailing out of Barcelona with stops in Italy (Florence/Pisa, Rome, Naples and Messina), Greece (Nafplion, Katakolon, Corfu), Croatia (Dubrovnik) and Venice - then from Venice to Montenegro (Kotor), Greece (Athens, ... Read More
This was a 24 day cruise sailing out of Barcelona with stops in Italy (Florence/Pisa, Rome, Naples and Messina), Greece (Nafplion, Katakolon, Corfu), Croatia (Dubrovnik) and Venice - then from Venice to Montenegro (Kotor), Greece (Athens, Mykonos and Sardina), Turkey (Istanbul and Kusadasi) and finally back to Venice. This was our first cruise with HAL - we have previously sailed on other cruises with Princess, Celebrity and Norwegian Cruise Line. We picked HAL and this ship because we had never been to the Mediterranean and this itinerary was perfect for our needs. We decided to spend 3 days in Barcelona with a pre cruise excursion arranged through HAL. This was excellent and covered a lot of ground for 3 days including a city tour and a day trip to a winery and Montserrat. The 4Th day we boarded the ship. Embarkation was fast and efficient. Our stateroom was nice - lots of storage. The room stewards were attentive and if we asked for anything it was quickly provided. There was a terrible smell in the hallways by the elevator, however by the second part of our cruise the smell disappeared. Don't know what the staff did but it was gone. The ship is quite nice however it is not as nice as some of the other cruise lines we have sailed with. There are 2 pools on this ship - very small By one of the pools there are lots of cabanas which were never used - this is just wasted space. The other pool is for adults only but again there is not seating area around the pool - consequently we ended going up to one of the other decks. There were too many formal nights - everyone complained about this - especially when the preinformation provided stated there would be 4 - there were 6. We opted for open seating in the Main Dining Room. The meals were good but sometimes the service was a little erratic - some nights good other nights terrible. We booked the Pinnacle for dinner one night - this was excellent and we really enjoyed the steak. We also tried the Tamarind - only because the ship gave us a complimentary dinner. We are not into Asian food but we were pleasantly surprised - it is very good. We did the buffet for breakfast and lunch (when we were on the ship). Very crowed and was so-so. We did do dinner in there one night as we had an evening excursion - terrible -I'm glad we didn't make a habit of going there. We did a evening excursion in Istanbul - when we got back only one side of the buffet was open and the line-ups were horrendous - why close up to 3/4 of the buffet when they knew people were coming back late from this excursion would want dinner. We opted to go for a pizza outside to avoid the line ups. The shops on this ship were not the best seemed to be a lot of high end items - not too many people were buying. On other cruise ships they have a store where you can buy miscellaneous items like Kleenex, cold pills, etc. - there was just a small little hole in the wall with not much. We took the shore excursions offered by HAL in most of the ports (except for Corfu which we did on our own) - I did find charging a fee for the shuttle bus was a very expensive (in Corfu and Dubrovnik) - these should be free of charge. I have reported on the shore excursions separately. Even though they are expensive at least you don't have to worry about being late getting back to the ship. Disembarkation in Venice was good - we opted to stay the night in Venice as we couldn't connect with flights leaving the same day. We did a shore excursion of Murano and Burano and then stayed at a hotel by the airport. In summary, this was a good cruise - we enjoyed all the ports we visited. The weather was good - very hot. The ship was nice but if we were to cruise again with with HAL again would pick another ship. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
We've sailed on the Nieuw Amsterdam before, so pretty much knew what to expect and although there seem to have been one or two cutbacks (particularly, I believe, in staffing levels), little has changed since our last sailing a year ... Read More
We've sailed on the Nieuw Amsterdam before, so pretty much knew what to expect and although there seem to have been one or two cutbacks (particularly, I believe, in staffing levels), little has changed since our last sailing a year ago. Since then, we sailed on the Zuiderdam earlier this year and weren't particularly happy with some aspects of that, so were hoping that this cruise would restore our faith in HAL. It did. Embarkation: We arrived quite early from our Barcelona hotel (Fira Palace: see my review on Tripadvisor) and the embarkation process was entirely painless and was, in fact, quite pleasurable. There's a decent coffee shop/patisserie in the passenger lounge with indoor and outdoor roof terrace seating and also some quite useful shops at the other end of the check-in area. Cabin: (Or, to give it its posh title - "stateroom") We were in one of the Deck 10 Spa Balcony Cabins, a few doors away from where we were last year. Entirely satisfied with the standard of accommodation; the degree of storage space; etc. and found the bed to be extremely comfortable. Our cabin steward, Tony, and his assistant were brilliant and very much on top of their game. Ship Overall: Very clean and attractive. Even on sea days there was an abundance of available loungers away from the popular pool/lido areas. The carpets alongside the elevators are beginning to show signs of wear and tear; and not just because of footfall, but more than likely down to having to clean up spilt food or drink or that other scourge of modern civilization - chewing gum! On one or two days there was a most appalling stench of sewage down on the shopping mall area on deck 3. Other than that, nice ship! Entertainment: Abysmally dull. HAL have never been noted for spectacular Broadway-style stage shows but the productions, such as they were, were so "samey" as to merge in to one and be totally unmemorable. Other than that, there was a pianist, a couple of violinists, both of whom produced virtuoso performances and although WE enjoyed them, they were perhaps not entirely appropriate to the lighter tone needed for a cruise audience. Then there was a magician; enough said; not to our liking and we only stayed for 10 minutes. The advertised "ballroom dance request hour" was a total impossibility as the "dance" floor was sticky in the extreme! The resident music trio, were, however very good to listen to. Food & Dining: We used the Lido restaurant for breakfast and lunch and have absolutely no complaints. The menus were varied and interesting and at breakfast they had an "English Breakfast" servery with good quality "proper" rashers! Not the stringy, hardtack stuff you normally get away from the UK! We had opted for a table for 6 in the Manhatten Dining Rooms and had excellent dinner companions. Very pleasant waiting staff and the food was always good. However, when it did eventually arrive - (and we had one or two issues here which we took up with the Maitre'd) - it wasn't really presented to what you would call a 5* standard (smears of soup over the outside of the bowls, etc), but other than this, no complaints whatsoever. The food in the Manhatten seemed to be served warmer than when we were last on the ship, although it's never been what you'd call "hot". I remember, a few years ago, when the plates were fairly hot to touch. This isn't the case any more. The dreaded H & S? Fears of litigation? Standard of dress at dinner was in general appropriate to the daily recommendations. Around our section of the dining room we certainly didn't see any jeans or scruffy t-shirts, etc. My wife commented that people seemed to be more "dressy" than on our last cruise and certainly, even on non-formal nights, there were a fair few long frocks on view. We tried the Tamarind (Asian fusion) dining choice one night and this was very memorable and a nice change from the usual. Ship Staff: I always find it remarkable that the staff you encounter on a day-to-day basis (mainly Philippinos and Indonesians) are so pleasant and obliging. They work very hard for their money and probably have to put up with some rude and objectionable guests, yet manage to stay so warm, smiling, and friendly. They are brilliant! Ports of Call: We had absolutely no regrets with any of the places visited and went on some trips which took us to one or two areas we'd never been to before - Cinque Terre (beautiful); and Corinth Canal/Napflion (excellent trip), but other than these trips and as we'd been to most of the destinations before, we tended to steer clear of the ship's shore excursions. As everyone knows, they can be a bit pricey for what you get! Conclusion: We enjoyed this trip very much and could have quite easily stayed on for the return leg! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
Overall the cruise was excellent.We were particularly pleased with the assistance given as my wife has walking difficulties and was in a wheelchair for embarkation and disembarkation.The staff could not have been more helpful and we were ... Read More
Overall the cruise was excellent.We were particularly pleased with the assistance given as my wife has walking difficulties and was in a wheelchair for embarkation and disembarkation.The staff could not have been more helpful and we were taken straight to our cabin before being guided to the Lido restaurant for Lunch. This review will concentrate on a few areas where we thought things could have been improved. The amount of hanging space in the wardrobe for hanging long dresses or even long shirts/skirts was non existent, Bearing in mind this is a new ship we could not understand it. We had to use the robe hooks to hang long items of clothing from. Our pre-cruise confirmation stated two formal nights but there were in fact three. However the dress code for these nights seems to be ignored. It is pointless having formal nights if people are allowed to walk around in shorts and beach sandals - in fact my wife and I found ourselves dancing alongside such a couple when we were dressed in Dinner suit and evening dress! Pinnacle grill was well worth the extra cost but we were disappointed with the Tamarind. I was also disappointed with the booking system. having been told a 7pm booking was unavailable on the day of the booking I was approached by a member of the Tamarind team and offered a complimentary meal on the same day at the time I wanted.When I queried this I was given a 7pm reservation. Again this is not fair on people who pre-book. Entertainment in the Showroom at sea was poor and repetitive. The other entertainment was good but not spectacular. Waiters were bordering on pestering you to buy drinks from the bar. This seemed to be profit led rather than customer led. Also the quality of free drinks provided at lunchtime was so poor you needed to but from the bar. The last and most annoying thing. I pre-ordered some bottled beer and wine for the cabin but it took three days and four phone calls to get a bottle opener. I had to threaten to return the drinks to the front desk! As I say these are niggles rather than major complaints but for the price paid it would have been better for them not to have been there. I would certainly Cruise with Holland America again but would also not be afraid of trying one of their competitors. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2012
This was our 12th cruise. We have sailed on Holland America, Celebrity, Orient Lines and Norwegian. We last sailed on HAL in 2009 and have to admit that this was a much better experience than our previous sailing. EMBARKATION We ... Read More
This was our 12th cruise. We have sailed on Holland America, Celebrity, Orient Lines and Norwegian. We last sailed on HAL in 2009 and have to admit that this was a much better experience than our previous sailing. EMBARKATION We arrived in Venice the day before embarkation and stayed overnight at the Ca' Doge hotel across the street from the people mover that takes you to the cruise terminal. Note that it was a relatively long walk from where the people mover drops you off to where embarkation starts. If Holland America provided a shuttle for this we certainly didn't see any evidence of it, but did note other lines providing it. Check in was quick and easy and we were in our cabin within 20 minutes to drop off our hand luggage. CABIN We had CA spa ocean view cabin 100001 on deck 10 forward. We had some fairly "rocky" days and while we felt the movement of the ship we never really had a problem with it. Cabin is very spacious with plenty of storage. As others have noted in various reviews there isn't a great deal of drawer space, but we seemed to have no problem with finding a spot for everything and keeping organized. Don't forget there are large drawers under the bed. Your cabin attendants like to use these drawers for extra linens and such, so just ask and they can remove them. Location is excellent! Just down one flight of stairs and you are at the spa or walk across the pool area and your in the Lido area for breakfast or lunch. Our cabin attendants Adi and Fendi were fantastic! They were always around if you had a question or needed anything and our cabin was always clean and tidy. Always looked forward to coming back to the cabin every night after dinner to see what special little towel animal they left. DINING We ate in the Lido for most of breakfasts and lunches and food was good and plentiful, although never really found a desert that we felt was worth the calories. Note that it has become customary on HAL to not allow self service the first two days as a precaution for the cruise bug. Even the salt and pepper shakers on the tables are taken away. Having had the "cruise bug" before while traveling, we appreciated the effort. We ate in the MDR all nights except for one. Food was excellent with quite a large variety of choices. Dining staff were great! Really don't know how they keep up with all the tables that they are in charge of. Guess that is why they don't really adhere to the tradition of taking the ladies orders first and then serving the ladies first. Call us old fashion, but we really missed that. Ate in the Pinnacle Grill one night and while the service was excellent, the food was just as good as what we had gotten in the MDR. Not sure what all the fuss is about really and because of the extra cost would probably not do it again. ENTERTAINMENT Didn't see any of the main shows. Enjoyed the piano player at the Piano Bar next the casino. Really great! Loved the Casino Bar...excellent staff. You can smoke in this bar so it was usually really busy. Casino was normally busy and for those that don't smoke there is a separate section just for the smokers, so it kept it to one section in the back of the casino. Most of the other venues we wandered into were relatively empty most nights, so if you are looking for a party atmosphere this may not be the ship for you. DISEMBARKATION Since we were staying in Barcelona a few days after our cruise, we had late disembarkation. Got off the ship around 9:45 AM, found our luggage and was through and out of the terminal within 5 minutes. Getting a taxi to our hotel is what took the longest. Quite a long line, but moved quickly. Overall really enjoyed our cruise, and yes, given a favorable itinerary, we would sail Holland American again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
The Nieuw Amsterdam was a beautiful ship and had some of the best food ever experienced. Very well thought out menus and pleasant Filipino and Indonesian staffs. The itinerary was fairly interesting and varied from several usual stops, ... Read More
The Nieuw Amsterdam was a beautiful ship and had some of the best food ever experienced. Very well thought out menus and pleasant Filipino and Indonesian staffs. The itinerary was fairly interesting and varied from several usual stops, although the wind and waves prevented tendering in to Portimao, Portugal for the Algarve. Were assigned a handicap veranda cabin somewhat forward, in the unusual quick curve of the ship near the elevators and directly above the owner's suite. Our balcony was very long and pretty deep. It provided a port view from 300 degrees all the way back to 180 degrees. Very pretty and versatile. You could roller skate in the bathroom, but the cabin lacked sufficient closet and drawer space, and even though it sported a lot of square footage, had no sofa. Big enough for a cocktail party for 15 to 20 if you used the balcony. Usually, HAL and most other lines we've been on have a person who is very perceptive in assigning table mates for free style diners so that there's easy compatibility. This one must not have gone to the same school, so made a lot of errors in matching table mates. Needs working on. The shows in the main theater didn't come close to traditional HAL bookings. They were by a wide margin less professional than the several hundred we've seen prior to this sailing. Were they saving money? The Rosario Strings were always a classic joy to listen to before or after dinner, always positioned near the main restaurant. For the first time in years, they lost them to another line and replaced them with a group of Eastern European girls (all strings) who sounded like they came from a recent high school band. Another disappointment. Aside from these glaring defects, we had a great time on this passage, and will try HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
On a lark one day in January 2012, my husband sent me an email with a link to an incredible transatlantic cruise ship sale. Leaving Miami, Florida, on April 1 it would take more than four weeks to arrive at its final glorious destination ... Read More
On a lark one day in January 2012, my husband sent me an email with a link to an incredible transatlantic cruise ship sale. Leaving Miami, Florida, on April 1 it would take more than four weeks to arrive at its final glorious destination -- Venice, Italy. Along the way it would stop several times in Portugal and Spain, once in France, followed by three or more stops in Italy, then Turkey with Venice bringing the adventure to glamorous end. Seeing all of these places sounded terrific and we spent wonderful hours giving it some serious thought. April 1 is our anniversary and so the voyage was a go! On board the Nieuw Amsterdam, everything we needed to be comfortable was there in our little cabin -- a queen sized bed with nightstands on each side both with good reading lamps, a desk with yet another good reading lamp and access to the Internet, a large closet safe, great storage for luggage and clothes, a very appealing bathroom and a steward who introduced himself as Helmi. He would prove to be one of the best features of the cruise. From Indonesia, Helmi brought his culture of graciousness to his work. He proved to be a lovely person and we are grateful to have met him. Helmi kept our cabin spotless and well organized, he answered our endless questions about his country and about the ship and he never once forgot the chocolates on our pillows. Getting on board the Holland America ship, the Nieuw Amsterdam was a pleasure especially compared to flying these days. Security was in place, but not intrusive and invasive. Anticipating the civilized welcome, most passengers were well dressed and all were excited to be traveling. Everyone we interacted with on staff was courteous and helpful, even gracious, and within a short time we were on board and invited to a pre-sailing lunch. There was a buzz on board with the anticipation passengers brought with them while the ship's crew actively welcomed their guests and made all of us feel at home. On board, everything we needed to be comfortable was there in our little cabin -- a queen sized bed with nightstands on each side and good reading lamps, a desk with a good reading lamp and access to the internet, a large closet safe, great storage for luggage and clothes, a very appealing bathroom and a steward who introduced himself as Helmi. He would prove to be one of the best features of the cruise. From Indonesia, Helmi brought his culture of graciousness to his work. He proved to be a lovely person and we are grateful to have met him. Helmi kept our cabin spotless and well organized, he answered our endless questions about his country and about the ship and he never once forgot the chocolates on our pillows. Small boats called tenders that transport passengers in ports without adequate docking facilities double as lifeboats, but that was not a thought I wanted to dwell on. When we boarded in Miami, before leaving port all passengers were required to participate in a safety drill so we were well acquainted with the deck and with procedures should anything go wrong. There were additional drills for staff every few days along the way -- man over board and others. Our captain was a serious fellow from Holland named Vincent Smit. He was very gracious with the ship's passengers and with us personally, but he was all business about his job. That proved very comforting as there had been a few serious cruise ship problems in the news in the month before departure. As is sometimes said, Captain Smit "ran a tight ship." This sea voyage passed more quickly than I would have imagined. The ship was beautifully managed, always spotlessly clean with attractively and comfortably furnished spaces. Staff were friendly and helpful without ever being intrusive. The food in the two main dining rooms was always good and there was enough variety to keep everyone happy. The three small specialty restaurants were each disappointing even though there was an extra charge for dining in them. There were lots of spaces for socializing, but as well there were comfortable places to enjoy a bit of solitude. The Nieuw Amsterdam seems to appeal to mature adults who aren't looking to be scaling rock walls or other things of that sort. It did have a schedule of activities -- lectures, cooking classes, bingo, music ensembles, night club acts and it had a beautifully outfitted gym with huge windows overlooking the sea. Stassi and I entertained ourselves reading, catching up on unseen movies, walking the deck and writing. All in all, it was a very pleasant time. For a more detailed account of our trip, visit us at http://krika.com/STORIES%20CRUISE/SCRUISE.html Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
Detailed Review of Nieuw Amsterdam March 2012 NIEUW AMSTERDAM: 7-DAY EASTERN CARIBBEAN: Departure date: 03/18/2012. Itinerary: Fort Lauderdale, At Sea, Grand Turk, San Juan, Saint Maarten, At Sea, Half Moon Cay, Fort Lauderdale. ... Read More
Detailed Review of Nieuw Amsterdam March 2012 NIEUW AMSTERDAM: 7-DAY EASTERN CARIBBEAN: Departure date: 03/18/2012. Itinerary: Fort Lauderdale, At Sea, Grand Turk, San Juan, Saint Maarten, At Sea, Half Moon Cay, Fort Lauderdale. EMBARKATION PROCESS: I arrived at Pier 26 at 10:45am and waited until the terminal building opened at 11:15am. I was at the very front of the line and was among the first ten passengers to board after the suite guests. SHIP CONDITION: Excellent in all aspects with the exception of the water marked carpeting in the elevator lobbies. I'm sure this will be corrected during a future dry dock. DEMOGRAPHICS: HAL caters to a more mature, well-traveled group of individuals: I saw about a dozen guests under the age of 18, and another dozen guests under the age of 25. SHIPBOARD DECOR: Nieuw Amsterdam is elegant, traditional, and comfortable. Most furnishings are identical to Eurodam, however, I do prefer the Eurodam's darker color scheme and atrium light fixture. Nieuw Amsterdam boasts shades of brown, yellow, and beige in many of the public areas. ACCOMODATIONS: The accommodations are excellent, and in my opinion, are second only to those found onboard Queen Mary 2. The wall-mounted TV was a welcome addition to the standard verandah staterooms; however, it would have been nice had they kept the shelf above the desk to use for the serving tray and ice bucket. The stateroom attendants were friendly and asked what time would be best to make up the stateroom. I requested 10:00am and 8:00pm: Both attendants were waiting outside the door with a smile each day at these times. Upon arrival, the balcony door handle was broken, but was fixed within one hour. The key-card light switch was convenient: All lights can be turned off right from the door. MANHATTAN DINING ROOM: We were seated at a large table for second seating dining. Service in the main dining room was very poor for the first two days, but improved dramatically by day three. We we're told by the Front Office that the service issues were caused by a newly implemented runner system in the galley and that there were many complaints. Service was excellent from day three forward because the Yum Yum Man cleared all the plates from our table and poured our water. (He wasn't, however, available to give us ginger after dinner and didn't ring the dinner bell!) The Matre'D stopped by each subsequent evening and the Front Office called the stateroom two times to ensure that the service had improved. Service was impeccable from that point forward, and our waiter even brought out a large serving platter of lobster tails to replenish our plates on the second formal night. It was a nice, unexpected surprise. FORMAL DRESS CODE ADHERENCE: 90% PINNACLE GRILL RESTAURANT: This was my first time dining in the Pinnacle Grill after four cruises with HAL. The food and service was outstanding. After consulting some fellow Cruise Critics, I ordered the Lobster Bisque, Caesar Salad, Tantalizing Lamb Skewers, and the No-So-Baked-Baked-Alaska. I wanted to order items that are prepared or flambeed tableside for an added element to the dining experience and I was not disappointed. The Baked Alaska is a million times better than that served in the main dining room. I'll be back twice next cruise! I never made it to the Tamarind. LIDO BUFFET RESTAURANT: The Lido Restaurant was consistent with those found onboard Westerdam and Eurodam in quality and presentation. The fresh juices were a nice touch at breakfast, as always. I enjoyed the Steelite Brand crockery and coffee mugs used in the Lido and am looking to buy a set online. I always found a table straight away, and oftentimes ate outside on the back deck (non-smoking side). There are always tables with a view out there if you find yourself eating at a peak hour! GENERAL ONBOARD SERVICE: Excellent. Bar service is even provided on the top deck above the Silk Den and Tamarind Restaurant. Abel, a server who works on the open decks by day and in the piano bar by night, is outgoing, energetic, and quick to remember your name and favorite drink. He got high marks on my comment card. PORTS OF CALL: Having been to these ports numerous times, I was generally disinterested and spent most of my time onboard the ship. However, if you like to lie on the beach, Grand Turk is the stop for you. There is plenty of shade on the beach, which is only a short walk from the pier. WEATHER AND SEA CONDITIONS: The weather was fantastic: Warm and sunny with the occasional five-minute tropical burst of rain. Moderate to heavy swells affected the ship until reaching San Juan, but calmed afterward. I was surprised at how little the ship creaked and vibrated after two turbulent voyages on Eurodam. ENTERTAINMENT AND SHOWTIME: The entertainment was the only negative to this cruise. I felt that the quality of the entertainment was nowhere near on par with what I experienced onboard Eurodam and Westerdam. To be fair, this could be because I had many of HAL's well-known entertainers on my previous sailings: Joel Mason, Jimmy Maddox, and Jonathon Hawkins, all in the same week. The production shows featured four male singers and two female singers, instead of the typical foursome. There seemed to be fewer dancers as well: Maybe everyone just wanted to sing? In my opinion, the "NYC" show was not good. Instead of using props, a bright (blinding) LED screen offered vistas of New York City. "Cantare" and "It Takes 2" were slightly better. The comedian, Jeff Nease, was funny and worth seeing. He acted out a scene with a passenger similar to the I Love Lucy episode, "The Handcuffs," in which Lucy had to use her arms in the place of Ricky's from behind the stage curtain. MUSIC: Every venue on the ship seemed to close earlier than on my previous HAL cruises. There was nothing open after the show except the Casino and the Piano Bar, where Piano Man Eric sang until 11:30pm. Piano Man Eric is on his second four-month contract with HAL, and previously sang for Carnival Cruises for seven years. He was decent, but didn't interact with the guests like Piano Man Jimmy. I did listen to Jenny and the HAL Cats on the pool deck and in the Queens Lounge, but the open times usually conflicted with late seating dining. I recommended on my comment card that Adagio Strings begin playing at 7:00pm in the Explorer's Lounge instead of 8:00pm. This would give late seating diners another place to listen to music before dinner. The Explorer's Lounge was always full of people waiting to enter the dining room, but there was never any music. I didn't bother much with the Neptunes in the Ocean Bar because the band was on break more than they were singing. BEHIND THE SCENES SHIP TOUR: I was one of five passengers to take advantage of this tour during the cruise. The tour costs $150 and is worth the price if you're interested in what goes on behind the scenes on a cruise ship. Our group met the onboard marketing director, Marc Jacobs, in the piano bar and toured the crew-only areas for three hours. We visited and spoke with department officers in each of the following areas: backstage at the theater, the laundry room, the sewing room, the control room, the engine room, the water desalination plant, the ships generators, the food and beverage stores, the incinerators, the garbage room, the bakery, the Manhattan Restaurant galley, the Pinnacle Grill galley, and the navigational bridge. The highlight was touring D Deck, located three decks below the waterline. A steep staircase, similar to a swimming pool ladder, provides access to the engine rooms. Although very noisy, it was well worth the climb to see an area of the ship that few passengers ever visit. Decks B, C, and D are so disorienting: It is a completely different world. The tour was very informative, and I learned so much about the operations of the ship. On the other hand, this tour made me realize how poor the conditions are onboard for the technical/mechanical crewmembers. Everywhere we walked, I saw dozens of crewmembers sitting on the steep staircases on B and C Deck, taking breaks and taking with each other with hardly any room to move. The food waste I witnessed during the tour was also shocking. The tour reminded me not to waste food in the Lido Restaurant and to always be overly courteous and friendly with the crew. The tour ended with cocktails and Hors d'oeuvres in the Crow's Nest and the presentation of a bag full of souvenirs. This tour also gave me amble opportunity to speak with the onboard marking director and hotel manager about my aspirations to work for a cruise line. DISEMBARKATION: As per usual, self-disembarkation was called at 7:30am and was very convenient. BOTTOM LINE: I will certainly be back on a Holland America sailing. For some reason, I do prefer Eurodam, but I had an excellent experience on this cruise: HAL continues to provide a premium mass-market experience. While it is obvious that Holland America Line is not a luxury line, HAL does provides some special touches that make you feel like more than just a number. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
Okay - so we went out for 7 nights, on the MS Niew Amsterdam on March 18, 2012. My wife and I are in our late 50's, and this is our 11th cruise overall. We have been on cruises as short as 3 nights, but mostly go for 7-nighters. ... Read More
Okay - so we went out for 7 nights, on the MS Niew Amsterdam on March 18, 2012. My wife and I are in our late 50's, and this is our 11th cruise overall. We have been on cruises as short as 3 nights, but mostly go for 7-nighters. Also, we have been on RC, Norwegian, Carnival and Holland America, so I would like to think our observations are accurate and that we have a good basis for comparison. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give this cruise high marks .... maybe an 8.5. If I had to describe the cruise in one word - I'd say "dignified." The ship is painted Navy Blue and white and gives the impression of being a "floating tuxedo." Well, maybe not quite that formal ....... but still, this is an older and much more restrained crowd than the other ships. We picked this ship partly because the price was right, but also because I wanted to get away from all the current mass-media "Lady Gaga / Hip-hop/ Techno-pop/ Rap music culture and hype. We wanted to get away to relax, enjoy, sight-see, read a little and of course to eat well! We are not gamblers, nor are we really night-life people. NOTE : this is an OLDER CROWD by and large, and the pace of the cruise reflects that reality. We still felt some connection to the attitudes and traditions of cruises from the past. ( Our first cruise was in fact, 1987 on the Niew Amsterdam (III) that preceded this ship ! ) No there were no gowns, no mink stoles, and no costume party .... but there was a certain dignity that was present in the ship's mood and attitude. Not the insanity and over-the-top partying you see on a couple of the other lines. FYI - there were a couple of reunions going on for WWII veterans taking place. These folks were up there in years, and they were certainly shown a great deal of respect over the week-long cruise. I think if this was Carnival or even RC, they would have been out of place and probably made uncomfortable by the typical passenger's behavior. Just my thoughts. For our mood at the time, this cruise was perfect for us. Rest and relaxation was our goal - and we got plenty of that ! The ship is very new, just having gone into service in 2010. Everything is fresh and shiny-looking, with the exception of some areas of the carpets in public areas. (Wine, beverage and food spills no doubt.) No scuffs on the walls, no peeling wall coverings. All painted areas are fresh and bright, but not garrish, like the crazy wild color combo's you see on Carnival. During the first 48 hours, it is not self-service in any areas -- they take this step to keep cleanliness and hygiene levels up ( to prevent any noro-virus problems.) One nice thing about this ship is, they don't bug you -- they seem to be more laid-back in regard to gambling, photos, shopping on board and so forth -- more than many other cruises. You get the feeling you're in more of a floating resort, and less of a shopping mall. We chose to use the pool in the Atrium area -- it's smaller but very nice. Also, they have a retractable roof, which came into play when it rained, or if the wind got to be too much at certain times. Something worth mentioning: it was sometimes difficult to get a lounge chair because the pool area is relatively small ( it's a smaller ship than many we have been on, and it is also a narrower ship ! ) And, there are private cabanas on that deck, as well as the spa entrance -- these all reduce the deck space available for poolsidelounge chairs. Entertainment provided is definitely for the older crowd -- music included 50's and 60's stuff -- and even the occasional big-band sounds of the 40's. The live entertainment shows were good to above average -- we had a comedian one night whose act and style reminded me of Paul Lynde from the old Hollywood Squares. They also had their four best males singers do a show similar to the Tenors often seen on PBS -- this was a series of songs where they highlighted the individual singers as well as the group. It was pretty decent, very good for cruise-ship entertainment. Something a little different, a little fresh as these kinds of shows go. The food : probably the best we've had on a cruise in the past 5 or 6 cruises. Great variety, high quality, and not just from meal to meal, but also from day to day. A lot of creativity here, especially with cold fruit soups, desserts, and a lot of the ethnic foods were offered as well. Since the wait staff, cooks and chefs are Phillipinos and Thai, those particular Asian foods were awesome. The service was always attentive and though not perfect, we give it very high marks. We only ate at one of the premium restaurants (with an up charge) - the Pinnacle Grill. They served a menu that was a product of Le Cirque in New York City. My wife had Chateau Briand and I had the rack of lamb ....... simply wonderful in both cases. Here was a downer of sorts: they tell you they offer wi-fi throughout the ship, even in your cabin. Yes, it's true - but the service is so slow, so poor, I could not get my relatively new Windows 7 laptop to go past the homepage, and just getting that to load took seemingly forever. I wasted $15 and was not able to get my emails in the cabin. I did NOT sign up for the minutes plan, suspecting the service might not be that good - but it was far worse than I ever expected. I asked for a refund, but the nice lady at the front desk pretty much blew me off, suggesting I use one of their computers in their internet cafe. I declined. The next day, I was able to catch free wi-fi on shore in Puerto Rico, so I got my emails. So, if you can avoid it, don't waste your money ..... or at least just use their computers, not the wi-fi in your cabin. You might have a more successful experience here. The excursions - my wife and I are on a somewhat tight budget. Also, we are not athletic or particularly active - so we chose accordingly. We only went on one -the riding tour to the Yunque Rain Forest. It is a beautiful place and worth seeing, especially if you've never been to a tropical forest or jungle-like area. The transportation to and from the ship though, about 1 hour each way - that "mini-bus" had awful suspension and the roads we took (regular city highways) were in pretty bad shape. So if you go, be prepared to be severely bounced and jostled. I came off the trip sore and tired, as did my wife. I was disappointed in the ride, not the destination.All things considered, it was a nice way to spend an afternoon in PR. One thing I will mention before I leave the topic of Puerto Rico -- the city, the roadsides were the dirtiest of the places we stopped at -- it resembled a drive through Queens NY. To be fair, San Juan is a city, not a tropical beach resort stop. But I think the people could do more to encourage tourism by cleaning up their city, the highways, etc. Just my 2-cents here. Turks and Caicos - pretty place! We went to the beach close to where the ship came into port. We went to a public (?) beach near the John Glenn exhibit and while the water was clean and the temperature was very nice the beach but !!! - shallow water areas are very tricky / dangerous to walk on. Rocks and deep potholes you cannot see in the first few feet from shore (despite the fact the water is crystal clear) make it very easy to slip, fall, or even twist an ankle. So, be forewarned. St. Maarten was clean, pretty - and we simply walked in town. We were totally comfortable in every way - security was good and the people were pleasant and friendly. I wish we had more time on this island. Then again, my wife and I have been to St. Maarten a couple of times before, so we were content just to walk around in town,having seen much of the island already. Many people did take and enjoy excursions but as I said earlier in this article, my wife and I took the lazy and easy route on this trip. We walked into town, visited shops along Front Street and took the water taxi back to the ship. Half Moon Cay was spotless, and getting on and off their privately-owned island was fast and efficient. They had a variety of amenities available, but we simply took our towels, found a couple of lounge chairs, swam a little and relaxed. It was a beautiful day for us in every way. There is a bar there called "I wish I could stay here forever." -- Yep, this was a little slice of paradise. No pan handlers, no hustlers, no one bothered you. The BBQ lunch that was provided was simple: ribs, burgers, hot dogs, etc.and safe to eat. Plenty of servers and plenty of places to find a seat at a table under shelter. I cannot think of anything negative to say here, unless you happen to be looking for a REAL local town, native people and so forth. For us, this was a very high quality relaxing experience. Getting off the ship -- very well organized ! -- no long lines that were unreasonable, and we were treated well at every step along the way. So -- there you have it -- a very excellent trip !! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
We are very experienced cruisers and have cruised with Hal 3 times.We chose to book direct with them,what a disaster. We experienced a catalog of errors which were eventually sorted and as compensation were offered an additional $50 per ... Read More
We are very experienced cruisers and have cruised with Hal 3 times.We chose to book direct with them,what a disaster. We experienced a catalog of errors which were eventually sorted and as compensation were offered an additional $50 per person on board spend for which we were happy to accept. Unfortunately when we came to settle the account on board the $50 was not booked with the ship. I was told that I would have to sort it out with the head office in the USA when we returned to the UK.Apparently there was nothing that could be done on board and all we got was a corporate brush off.In view of the problems experienced in booking I was not prepared to leave it at that especially as trying to deal with an inefficient administration from another continent did not appeal, so I cancelled the gratuity portion of the bill.This caused a chain reaction and within the hour the original $150(3 passengers @ $50 each)was instated on the bill and we reinstated the gratuity. Clearly it could be resolved on board but we were left feeling that had we not been forceful Hal would have simply got away with it. I wonder how many simply give up.We had no desire to withhold the gratuity as the crew in general were excellent and worked very hard but it was the only lever we had on board. Now to the holiday itself. We booked a two night stay at the recommended Westin Hotel at Fort Lauderdale. There are Two Westin hotels and the one Hal uses is someway from any places of interest,expect to pay at least $25 to go anywhere in a Taxi.The hotel has a courtesy bus which operates within a 3 mile radius which given the hotel location does not get you very far. The hotel itself is reasonable for a short stay but is located next to an interstate highway so there was significant traffic noise 24 hrs a day, particularly when using the swimming pool or terraces. Transfer from the hotel to the port was fine but expect a long queue at the port before boarding.Once on board everything was well organized and in case you think I am a moaner I can say the cruise was excellent,food good and plentiful,the crew could not do more to please(unless you had to deal with customer services with a complaint), cabin stewards bar staff and waiters always with a smile. The entertainment was average compared to other cruise lines we have used except the four male singer group who were superb. We did a back to back cruise west and east Caribbean which was very interesting and enjoyable but when we returned to Fort Lauderdale after the first seven days all passengers have to disembark the ship due to US Customs and Immigration regulations and you will have to expect to be ashore for at least 1.5 hours before being allowed to re-board.There is little seating in the waiting zone which could be problematic for some passengers. We opted for a shore excursion so avoided this but on return had to rejoin the queue with the 2000 or so new passengers waiting to board. I have no problem waiting to go through security,after all it is for all our benefits but once through security I could not see the point of queuing up with the new passengers booking in. It would have been more appropriate for Hal to have a lane open for returning passengers who did not need to book in.Some of the shore staff were very pushy and upset a number of passengers with an aggressive approach. I know it must be very difficult to marshal 2500 people in a short space of time but they really were over the top. Overall a great holiday with a super itinerary. Will we be returning to cruise with HAL again ? At this moment maybe not it depends on how long my memory of the negatives lasts. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
Service was good in dining rooms, lounges and stateroom. The food was excellent, and the selections numerous. Holland American rarely disappoints me in this department. Our Superior Suite was nicely placed toward AFT, but I must ... Read More
Service was good in dining rooms, lounges and stateroom. The food was excellent, and the selections numerous. Holland American rarely disappoints me in this department. Our Superior Suite was nicely placed toward AFT, but I must remember to avoid Port side. Too many smokers on this cruise. And I thought HAL had initiated a ban on verandah smoking starting the first of the year? Our neighbors were chimneys! Our stateroom was roomy and our verandah, as well. I would have liked two loungers rather than a two plastic wicker chairs with ottomans. Our bathroom was large, double sinks, and whirlpool tub and shower separate. The closet space was adequate. I filled all the drawers, nooks and closets! The entertainment was usual. Good singing and dancing. To change up the venue, one night was a magician who was quite entertaining. A comedian/magician. "Diamond" is his last name. Very good show. I had hoped another type of entertaiment would have been presented. HAL has always been good about giving excellent variety in the nighttime shows. The Captains luncheon was nice. The collector tiles were not placed on the tables as have been in the past, and when we exited the dining room I did not see them anywhere. A couple days later I inquired at the information desk and was told they were set on a table for everyone to take. Didn't see it, nor were we pointed toward "this special" table to take our tiles. The information clerk was nice enough to find two for us to have. Usually we receive a discount booklet, but none came to our stateroom. For the first two days staff served us all our food and drinks in the Lido dining area. Just a precaution to make sure we do not get that cruise bug. We were surprised to see how worn and motley the carpets appeared, especially at the base of every staircase. Some of the display tables in the stores were in poor condition, also, with chipped veneer. And there was even rubbed off graffiti on our stateroom wall. Just wasn't expecting to see this on a ship still so new. We took one excursion on Grand Cayman. The Turtle Farm one, and it was nice. Our tour guide spoke with a very thick accent and rambled quickly. We understood very little what he said. We just walked the cruise port at Falmouth, Jamaica. A lovely port where the people were very happy to sell us. All smiles. I was most impressed that they all lined up at the pier to wave goodbye to the ship. A very welcoming place that we will definitely return to! The ship sailed smoothly through rough waters. The captain cancelled our stop off at Half Moon Cay at the start of the cruise. Very disappointed, but it was a safety issue with the rough seas. We have been to three Cruise Cays during our cruising years: Half Moon Cay, Princess Cay, and Coco Cay. Half Moon Cay is by far the best one - cleanest beaches, and stonefree shorelines. There was plenty of activity on the ship for all ages, but were disappointed that there were only two chances to play bingo. Embarkation procedure was a little slow, but the disembarkation went very fast and smooth. A nice ending to a short cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
My hubby and I were the young ones on this ship. We figure the seniors have ironed out all the bumps so that is why we took this cruise line. Yes, there were children on the ship but they were well behaved. This is was a smooth cruise ... Read More
My hubby and I were the young ones on this ship. We figure the seniors have ironed out all the bumps so that is why we took this cruise line. Yes, there were children on the ship but they were well behaved. This is was a smooth cruise due to this. They have an evening of desserts. Those little ones were at awe wondering which areas to hit. This boat has cabanas at the top lido. They have the library and computer classes packed with people. You knew you were not on the party boat. More the academia crowd when you see photo, arts and classes and tech classes offered. Great current movies in the theater with individual leather chairs. Free popcorn too. Tamarind is all about services. Great food there. Formal nights were wonderful. It brings back the days when elegance was around on the boats. HA wants to please. They even have HA bags for their clients to use when they go ashore. They have a cold lemonade (free) for their clients when they return from an excursion. HA goes out of the way to make it a vacation and for you to relax and enjoy the ride. Love them!The dining room was average in service. Our waiter was nothing like our Carnival or Princess waiter who was always there smiling. They work hard in bringing the food and clearing it. They need personality waiters as well. On NCL, there is a guy who will give you butter mints . He's the same guy who reminds you to clean your hands. No one is on the Nieuw Amsterdam some nights. The dining room food was great and in small portions. Some are salty. You may have to remind them not to add salt your food if you don't like salty food. The entertainment was great on the last night. The four male tenors were fabulous. They remind me of the Il Divos. Do not select the second dining. You will miss some of the entertainment with one showings. Their ice cream variety at the lido deck eatery went downhill. They used to have a variety. They have only chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. So sad to see them do away with the traditional Dutch hats night. They did not have it on this cruise. On the last night, every one whips around their napkins in the air and the cooks come out in a parade in the dining room. Lots of fun. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
Set-up: My first cruise ever was HAL in early '90s but after two HAL cruises spread part by many years, I'd come to believe that Holland America was not competing hard enough with the likes of RCL and Celebrity for me to revisit ... Read More
Set-up: My first cruise ever was HAL in early '90s but after two HAL cruises spread part by many years, I'd come to believe that Holland America was not competing hard enough with the likes of RCL and Celebrity for me to revisit their ships again. So why the Nieuw Amsterdam for a xmas cruise? Long story but I admit it was against my will. I was not expecting much. Reality: Overall *the* most friendly staff I can remember on any of the 20+ cruises I've done. I prefer bigger ships but there were many surprises on this new ship that left me with exuberance and a recommendation that--again, if you like mid-market ships under 100K tons--you need to try HAL Nieuw Amsterdam. Food: I'm the husband of a professional restaurant critic so I have had LOTS of experience with dining out, plus I've done a good share of cruising (120+ days). In the main dining room, the food surpassed by expectations. It was consistently above average for mid-market. In the Lido, again it was very good and had a lot of special touches (fresh squeezed orange juice, fresh ingredients, variety). But it is the specialty restaurants that deserve special mention. The Tamarind (pan asian) was excellent in service, decor, and food. Loved it!! The Pinnacle was also superb, we ate there for both their Le Cirque night and one regular night. My comparison these days for midmarket cruising are the high-end restaurants on the Allure of the Seas. The two on the Nieuw Amsterdam were not quite up to inventiveness of a 150 Central Park, for example, but you're nuts if you don't try these two if you're on this ship and you enjoy good food and service. You'd be spending 2x to 3x as many $$ for the same meal on land. Room: Deluxe Verandah room was smaller than we are accustomed to (for three occupants, one on the sofabed) but it worked OK. Lots of storage, good quality materials, lighting, etc. Quibble is cabin lights require inserting room key in slot in wall. Can be a real pain in the ass when occupants are coming and going and need to bring their key with them!! Cabin staff: No complaints, did their job very well. Favorite onboard hang out: Crow's Nest/Exploration Cafe. Highest place on the ship with panoramic views forward. Best place to be when you're heading into any port and the CD is briefing you what what you're seeing. Entertainment: After RCL's Allure, I'm afraid on-ship entertainment will never be the same elsewhere. It spoiled me forever. I skipped all shows except the stand up comedians. We were very fortunate that a main stage show was cancelled (lead singer sick) and we got instead a surprise unscheduled one night stand by Mark Pitta. If you don't know him, he has a been a regular in the LA and San Francisco Bay Area comedy scenes three decades. A real pro, has done a bunch of TV late night shows and sit-coms. I laughed my ass off---this was a real unexpected treat for comedy club aficionados, a cut way above the usual unknown cruise comic IMHO. YouTube him if you want to see what I mean. Ports: Scuba dived Grand Turks on a self-booked morning with Grand Turk Diving. Just OK that day, not great visibility and didn't see anything underwater to excite a diver with two decades of diving. San Juan is a great place to walk around on your own, visiting two castles/fortresses, interesting restaurants. Loved the French side of St. Maarten (skip the Dutch part--what the hell is wrong with the Dutch when it comes to island living?!?) and really felt the French vibe in Marigot. Eat at La Tropicana @Marigot Port, very francais. Tortola beats the other more civilized (as in Americanized) BVI ports. No fast food here, just get down funky vibe. Try to get a newer taxi if you possibly can, however...this is one hilly place to traverse. Finally, Half Moon Cay is a little like Disneyland in the Caribbean. Phony island b.s. Not this Floridian's cup of tea but a very nice place nonetheless. Soft sand beach with plenty to do for the family including the now ubiquitous swimming with Stingrays (yawn). Would much rather see 'em in the wild a la Steve Irwin, poor unlucky bastard. Embarking/Disembarking Ft Lauderdale: Would rate it 5 out of 10. Again, prefer the Allure experience here which truly establishes the highest form of this rather mundane part of cruising. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We sailed the Niew Amsterdam in mid December 2011. Overall, our vacation was fantastic. In my review, I'll try my best to explain what I liked and didn't like, but keep in mind the type of person / cruiser I am. About me: ... Read More
We sailed the Niew Amsterdam in mid December 2011. Overall, our vacation was fantastic. In my review, I'll try my best to explain what I liked and didn't like, but keep in mind the type of person / cruiser I am. About me: 34 years old, married and on cruises I like to spend time doing very active things, and time just relaxing. I'm a non-drinker and I'm not into the party scene. This was our 4th cruise (previous cruises with Carnival and defunct Premier Cruise Lines) and we chose Holland America as we wanted to try something different than Carnival, and the itinerary gave us 4 great stops when most other 7 day cruises from Florida offered only 3. We also wanted to give the Eastern Caribbean a try as we have not been there yet. The Ship I loved the design of the ship. It was new, classy and I found it easy to navigate. We spent lots of time around the lido pool and it was nice to have the roof when the rain or winds became a problem. Although you have to get to the lido pool early to get one of the comfy chairs around the pool, there are always chairs available on this ship. I once went up to one of the higher decks, and it was like field of chairs, so don't worry about that being an issue. I thought the Lido restaurant was very classy looking with nice chairs, tables etc. This is one of the big differences from Carnival. We had an ocean view stateroom and we were very impressed with it. Large, comfy and modern. There is a TV with a dvd player and dvd's can be borrowed from the front desk (koodoos to HAL for offering free DVD's I mean, why not!) As stated in other reviews, the Niew Amsterdam is a classic HAL ship, so you wont find waterslides etc. I agree with other reviews that the Lido Resteraunt is the most crowded place on the ship, but its not a big deal. Food I thought the Lido food was better than expected and the Main Dining room was as expected, or perhaps slightly below. Pizza was OK, and the burgers were decent enough. They will bring you a full breakfast to your room, we found this nice on port days when we wanted to eat in our room and get off the ship in a hurry. In the main dinning room, we usually got a table for 2 with no wait. I was impressed by this. One night there was a 20 min wait for a table for two, so we sat with other folks and we enjoyed that. I gained 7 pounds, so I can testify that the food is good and plentiful. Activities: I tried to participate in the more active activities on the ship, and there are not many. I went to play pool volleyball, it was set up, but nobody was in the pool. I wish the staff would have people sign up, or encourage others to participate as there could have been others who wanted to play, be who wants to jump in and hold a volleyball by themselves in front of a hundred people if no one is going to follow you? I went to the free throw competitions and it was fun. Some pick up B-ball games were held and it was great to burn some calories and meet some other younger (mid 30's is young on this ship) people. Culinary Arts Centre: Not what you think it will be. It is not like a cooking show with a Chef demonstrating their masterpiece. Expect the ship entertainment staff / cruise director following a recipe and making jokes the whole way. Just silly amateur stuff, Whooptie doo. Screening room: Loved it! We loved being able to watch a movie each day before dinner. They even set out popcorn. It is true that seats are limited so get there about 10 Min early. Other activities: There are plenty of activities for older folks, not my cup of tea to play cards and bingo all day, but if that's your thing, you will like it. Show Room Entertainment: I didn't like it, my wife loved every second of it. They did have a juggler comedian one night and he was awesome. Ports- (This is a big reason I picked this cruise) Grand Turk -- Freeking awesome. Snorkeling tour was awesome and the beach / swimming area looks like someone's screensaver at work. I was pumped for this stop as there is a Flowrider here. I prepaid for this with HAL I was informed the night before that my tour was cancelled because I was the only one who signed up. I was devastated. If you are like my wife, you think I'm ridiculous being so upset over this, but once you ride a flowrider, you are hooked and I live 400 miles from the closest one. The next day I actually went to the flowrider people on shore and we got them to turn it on for us. If you don't know what I'm talking about, just google it. San Juan -- We toured El Morro (on our own) and it was neat. It was also nice to walk around old San Juan. We enjoyed this day, but it was our least favourite stop. St. Maarten -- Awesome day at the beach, absolutely loved it. Very easy to get transportation at the pier with no haggle rates. I wish it stayed there a few hours longer as we were loving it so much. Half Moon Cay -- Loved It! We did the horse ride, the land part was lame, but the water part was very fun! If you book this, think of it as a horse "experience" and not a horse "ride" as the riding time is so short. The beach is beautiful and I highly recommend doing the snorkelling at the beach, I saw hundreds of fish, many different colours and varieties. Pick up a snorkel for a few bucks at wal mart before you go and it won't cost you a dime. Gear can also be rented there. This stop is all it advertises, we loved it. Other things I liked -- Although I like doing very active things (not HAL's thing) I loved the soft rock, not too loud music around the pool, the classy cruise director and the overall demeanor of the staff and fellow passengers. This is one thing I thought they could deliver for me and they did. I didn't care that there were lots of older people, I enjoyed them! Other Things I didn't like -- the ship really seemed to sway more than I have experienced before. I am not sure it this was due to high seas, or if this ship is just more of a rocky ride? Overall impression -- Although not perfect, it was very close. We had the time of our lives and I think this is a good mix of a classy ship combined with a good itinerary with opportunities to do some good excursions. I wish I were back there right now! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We cruised on the Nieuw Amsterdam departing on Nov. 27th 2011 from Port Everglades. on the Eastern Caribbean itinerary. Our party consisted of 3 couples, my wife and I, from Helena AL my sister and BIL from Portland, OR and our good ... Read More
We cruised on the Nieuw Amsterdam departing on Nov. 27th 2011 from Port Everglades. on the Eastern Caribbean itinerary. Our party consisted of 3 couples, my wife and I, from Helena AL my sister and BIL from Portland, OR and our good friends from Houston TX. Our Houston friends had a SA Suite and my sister and I had VA verandah cabins all on the 7th deck. We all had AYWD and the ship was 100% sold out and operating at capacity. Saturday Nov, 26th We arrived in Port Everglades Saturday after noon with our friends and checked into the Hyatt Pier 66 overlooking the cruise port. We were surprised to find out for some unknown reason the National Sales Manger for Hyatt had our rooms upgraded from our booked older Marina rooms to 14th floor full ocean view Tower rooms. This was a great way to start our cruise. We had a very nice dinner at the Bimini Seafood Restaurant on 17th just down the street from the Hyatt. Sunday, Nov. 27th Sunday embarkation was a breeze considering a record number of passengers that were departing that weekend. We had pre booked online a parking spot at the Park and Ride lot outside the Port entrance for $5.99 a day. We pulled into the lot at 11:00am and unloaded out luggage and boarded the shuttle bus. Our car was valet parked at no extra charge. We got to the ship at 11:30 and thanks to our friends in the SA suite we got to express Suite check in with them and were on the ship and in our cabin by noon. From the parking to the check in this was easier than I thought it would be and the easiest embarkation of any prior cruises. My sister and BIL drove in from Tampa and we decided to wait for them to have lunch at the Mariners Embarkation lunch in the MDR. They were running late so we didn't get to the MDR until 1:05 and were told the lunch was closed at 1pm even though it has been posted that the Mariners embarkation lunch lasts from Noon to 1:30pm. We were not happy about this and had to eat in the Lido. Why have special embarkation lunches for Mariners open for only one hour? We all went to dinner in the MDR at 6:45 (no reservations) and got seated to a table for 6 immediately and the open DR was only about half full. I had the Prime Rib and it was cooked perfectly and was very good. The new mystery sauce on the Prime Rib was a tomato base reduction sauce and was OK, but I asked for Aus Juice and was told it was not available which seemed odd. Service was fast, excellent and impressive for open dinning. Monday Nov. 28th Day at Sea Started with breakfast room service for the 8-8:30 time and it was delivered promptly at 8:00 am hot and exactly as ordered. We spent the day touring the NA and I have to say it is an impressive ship but already is showing signs of wear and tear in the public areas. That night was formal night and we had 7pm reservations at the Pinnacle Grill for all 6 of us. I have to say we were all not impressed with the food and service that night. I had the Steak Dianne and it was served with very little sauce and had no flavor. There was no rack of lamb on the menu as in past HAL cruises, they had 3 Colorado grilled lamb chops instead with no sauce and my wife was not impressed at all. We were also disappointed that the menu was the same every night so we cancelled our Friday night reservations. Tuesday Nov. 29th Grand Turk Island Room service breakfast again delivered on time, hot and as ordered. Grand Turk is a very small and undeveloped island that is still recovering from a major hurricane in 2008. We took a cab into town and wasted our time and money as the capital town is so undeveloped that no business takes credit cards or has internet. The best shopping is at the nice cruise terminal. The free beach club at the terminal has a very nice white sand beach with good snorkeling and a reasonable priced bar. An alternative is the Margaretville beach club on the other side of the pier that several other passengers said was expensive for food and drinks. We had a good lunch in the Lido after swimming at the beach. We all had dinner that night in the MDR and walked right into the MDR at 7pm with no waiting for a table for 6. Again this was another disappointing meal with poor food choices that were described much better than they tasted or were prepared. Wednesday Nov 30th San Juan PR Once again a great room service breakfast served on time and hot. We docked at 1pm and met up with some other CC members for a horse drawn carriage ride we had booked ourselves through old town SJ. We all had a great time and then walked around town so our wives could do some shopping. Our friends decided to take a cab to tour El Moro fort and found it very interesting. That night we all had MDR room service in our friend's suite for dinner and enjoyed the night sail away from the Port of San Juan. The veal parmesan I had was tough and had very little sauce and a dab of cheeses and not as good as an average Italian restaurant like Olive Garden, just another MDR disappointment. Thursday Dec 1 San Maarten Started out with another good room service breakfast, that was perfect. We then proceeded to our shore excursion on the Rhino Inflatable boats which turned out to be a highlight of the cruise as we all had great time, and got sunburned as well. We did some shopping as we found this delightful island to be the best shopping of the cruise. Dinner that night was in the MDR and we walked right in at 7:00pm with no waiting. My wife and I had the veal chop with porcini mushroom sauce and found the veal to be tough and chewy again another MDR disappointment. Friday Dec 2 Sea Day We decided to eat light in the lido as lunch today was the Mariners Champagne Luncheon. The lunch was a hit and so far the best meal we had in the MDR. My wife and I enjoyed a perfect Beef Wellington. I found it curious that one of our best meals was in the Mariners' lunch. We talked to another Mariner couple at our table who agreed with us that the food was sub par compared to prior HAL cruises but they did say it was better than Princess. This was our second formal night and we walked right in to the MDR at 7:30pm and the food was the best of the week. My wife had the Pompano fish and it was very good. I had the surf and turf and the fillet was tender and cooked perfect. The surprise was my Lobster tail was large and not over cooked and the best one I have had on any cruise ship. Saturday Dec 3 Half Moon Cay was a no go so ended up with day at sea. We arrived at HMC to 40knt plus winds which made it too dangerous to tender so we spent the day cruising at sea. My sister and I tried to get into the movie theater at 1pm and the chair hogs were at it again. The theater seats about 30 people and there were several people in there an hour before the movie started holding at least 6 seats each. The theater is posted no holding seats but when I called guess relations to complain they said they could do nothing. The size of the theater is grossly undersized for a ship with 2000 passengers. We decided to try the Tamarind on our last night and it finished off our cruise in a positive. This was the absolutely best meal on this cruise and was as good as any upscale Pacific Rim restaurant on land. The food was fresh and well presented and the service was impeccable. IMO do not waste your money on the Pinnacle Grill and eat here as many times as you can. We talked with another couple that night who cancelled their 2 PG reservations and dined in the Tamarind 4 nights. I wish we had had lunch here at least once. Sunday Dec 4 Debarkation in FLL We arrived in Port Everglades at 7am and were cleared by customs by 7:30. We had the 8:30 time slot for debarkation and got called early at 8:15 and we were off the ship at 8:30. The Park and Go shuttle was waiting for us and we were in our car and leaving their parking lot by 8:50am. HAL does a great job on both embarkation and debarkation. I can not say enough about how impressed I was with Park and Go at FLL for parking. They dropped us off at our car and loaded our luggage into our car. Total parking cost for 7 day was only $51 and they gave us each a free bottle of water after we paid for the parking. Over all evaluations The service everywhere on the NA was up to HAL standards and we have no complaints. Our room steward did a great job and took care of all of our needs. Even though the ship was sold out we never saw long lines or any over crowding in the public areas. Our room service breakfasts were all on time, hot and exactly as ordered. Our only complaint was the holding of seats in the undersized movie theater and the staff's refusal to stop the chair hogs as noted above. The entertainment was very good overall. The comedian Mike Robinson was a fantastic ventriloquist and had the whole audience laughing for almost an hour. He was the best comedian I have seen appear on any cruise. The ships singers and dancers put on 2 good shows during the week as well. AYWD was a great option for us. We did not bother to make reservation any night and did not have to wait for a table for 6 between 6:45 and 7:30pm our desired dining time. The service was spotless and fast every night. I think after having AYWD now for several years HAL has the concept perfected and we will continue to choose this option in the future. Our biggest complaints have to be with the quality of the evening meals in both the MDR and the Pinnacle Grill and show evidence that HAL is cutting corners the most here. The Lido breakfast and lunches were as good as past HAL cruises and very good. Overall the food in the MDR would be IMO a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. I was disappointed that we didn't see entrees like lamb shanks, Osso Bucco, good tender veal chops and Beef Wellington like in our past HAL cruises. Many of the appetizers were also not up to par with past HAL cruises, like the lamb skewers made from ground lamb. One area that needs major improvement are the sauces that they use on foods as most were skimpy and tasteless. The veal parmesan and marinated port loin were prime examples of bad or skimpy sauces. Not changing the PG menu during the week was also disappointing and not having Rack of Lamb, one of our favorite past HAL dishes, was really upsetting. Last year on the Celebrity Century we had a rack of lamb in their upscale restaurant that was fantastic. In our whole party's estimation the PG was no better than the MDR and not worth the $25 up charge or on par any more with Celebrity. 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Sail Date: November 2011
We were excited about taking our first cruise on Holland America Line because we had heard so many good things. Sadly we were a little underwhelmed. Our cruise was on the Nieuw Amsterdam. It was a nice clean ship and the staff was ... Read More
We were excited about taking our first cruise on Holland America Line because we had heard so many good things. Sadly we were a little underwhelmed. Our cruise was on the Nieuw Amsterdam. It was a nice clean ship and the staff was great, but we were expecting something a little more elegant and more enriching activities. We were also disappointed in the ride of the ship. Even though we were on calm seas the ship rocked from side-to-side continually throughout the cruise. Since the Nieuw Amsterdam was a newer ship we thought the ride would have been significantly smoother considering the seas. The Nieuw Amsterdam was nicer than the Carnival ships we had been on, but not as nice as the Royal Caribbean ships. The ship was sold-out, but it never felt crowded and we never had to wait in line more than a few minutes. Our verandah stateroom was nicely appointed and the bed was very comfortable. There was ample closet space and the adjustable shower head was a nice touch. The food in the dining room was very well done and had a nice selection every night. The first night the temperature of the food was a little cold, but the rest of the cruise they seemed to have worked out the timing kinks. The Tamarind was excellent and the staff was great. The Tamarind is a must when you have the chance and definitely worth the $15. Be sure to make reservations though.The Culinary Arts Center was one of the main reasons we wanted to take a cruise on Holland America. From hollandamerica.com we were anticipating actual cooking demonstrations and classes in the CAC. This did not happen. We only attended a couple of events in the CAC. After the first 2 were so lame we didn't go back. One of the events seemed to have a little promise in the beginning, but failed in the end. The event was to have a chef from each of the specialty restaurants demonstrate a dish from their menu. Each chef brought everything pre-prepared and put the dishes together in the showroom while poking fun at each other's restaurants. They explained very little about their dish or what they were doing. The other event we went to was supposed to be an appetizer demonstration by the ship's "Party Planner". She too had everything pre-prepared and went through the process of using Oriental soup spoons to display shrimp cocktail. If you have watch the Food Channel more than a few times you will probably be disappointed in the CAC. Don't choose Holland America because of the CAC. The spa area was very nice, but you are constantly bombarded with product sales pitches which made it really hard to relax and enjoy the environment. We did attend several of the dance classes and had fun. The dancers from the show staff were the instructors and they did a great job. They made everyone feel comfortable and took the time to help people individually. The only complaint would be that the space in the Northern Lights area was a little small for the number of people that attended each class. One thing that was enjoyable about the ship was the absence of blaring caribbean music in the pool areas and Lido restaurant like some of the other cruise lines use. The music throughout the ship was kept at a nice enjoyable volume even when there were deck activities. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
We started our Transatlantic cruise in Venice October 27, 2011. The Nieuw Amsterdam was a beautiful ship but took us a while to get acclimated with the floor plan as the ship was so large. The staff on the ship were "Awesome" ... Read More
We started our Transatlantic cruise in Venice October 27, 2011. The Nieuw Amsterdam was a beautiful ship but took us a while to get acclimated with the floor plan as the ship was so large. The staff on the ship were "Awesome" and the food in the dining room was delicious. The buffet line on the Lido deck for breakfast and lunch was ok but would not recommend for dinner. I felt that the buffet at the Lido deck needs a touch of tweaking. Loved the Pasta bar as it was nice to get fresh pasta ordered. What we didn't like .... THE LIDO BUFFET 1. Salad bar seemed unkept and dirty 2. Desserts were much the same with too much cream and of the same type of cream frosting on all desserts. 3. Dinner menu was like eating fast food style that had no taste and seemed wilted. 4. A lot of their silverware and dishes were constantly dirty. WHAT WE LOVED The dining staff in the dining room and Lido deck were very nice. Food in the dining room for dinner was delicious. The tea at the Asian restaurant was wonderful and wished we could have had dinner there but we tried several times but they were booked. The rooms on the ship were large and extremely well maintained. We loved our room steward. SHOWS & ENTERTAINMENT Shows were less than to be desired except 1, who were singers and were Amazing. The lounge show had Rachel & Hal Cats and they were good. The Piano guy was Horrible. The Speakers for the enrichment program were very good, especially the one who had various topics and presentations from rock & roll 60's to the moon, etc. He and his wife were very gracious and interesting to listen to. There was a guy that crochet hats there, he was ok to see for a one time thing but not enough to book for the whole week like they did. It got boring THE PEOPLE ON THE SHIP : Many of the people on board were rude and obnoxious. We were in shock at the caliber of people on this cruise as we had taken many...many cruises including many transatlantic cruises and NEVER did we encounter the type of behavior that was on board this ship by passengers. The lady with the french poodle dog was obnoxious and nobody enjoys having a dog eat off a table ...the dog was supposed to have been a special needs type dog but we felt it was really her pet she wanted to be on vacation with and used that as an excuse. There was a woman at the airport in Madrid that used the wheel chair facility to get on board first as a handicapped person that couldn't walk and we saw her jogging around the deck and dancing on the ship. There were people who were extremely RUDE to the staff members as well as other passengers and should have been kicked off the ship. There were passengers that defaced ship property and the cruise director had to mention a few times that if this type of behavior continued they would have to shut down areas. One man even tried to break into the library book area. Another man kept riding the elevator by himself up and and down without allowing any other passenger to get into the elevator. It was horrible that passengers who are old enough to know better act this way. Some people piled food on their plates as if it was to be their last meal others would cut in line pushing others who were in line out of the way to serve themselves rather than to wait in line. THE CAPTAIN: He was amazing as he kept all passengers safe during a bad storm at sea. We are grateful for his expertise and all the staff who worked so hard to keep things going on the ship during the terrible waves and storm. PORTS: Loved all the ports and each provided something unique to see. VENICE:We stayed in Venice prior to departure for a week and there were so many museums, shops and sites to see and the food was delicious but very expensive unless one looked for the travelers specials or went for tapas. CROATIA: was one of our favorites to see. The old city was amazing and people very friendly. I suggest either taking a cab or van with others as it may be cheaper than the ships tour bus. The food there was delicious and reasonable compared to Venice. The women in Croatia sell these beautiful hand embroidered tablecloths that we got at a very reasonable price. You would want to go up the hill towards the top of the old city to find the best deal. CORFU was beautiful but had a lot of graffiti in areas. A lot of the Tavernas along the sea were closed. There is a wonderful shopping area that offered many Greek specialties. Look for the little nook and cranny type eatery for a quick meal as we purchased delicious leek and spinach pies to eat while walking around and other Greek specialties for about $2.00 and the pies/turnovers were so huge we had to share. The history on this island was interesting and people very nice. Try the kumquat liquor...delicious and linen at the linen shop was very nice and embroidered in Greece. Since we couldn't go to Taormina Italy due to a race, we ended stopping at Messina and the clock tower is a must to see as well as the park and outdoor market. Try a cannoli in one of their bakery...you will absolutely love them. Cadiz Spain was our other favorite stop as the architecture of the buildings, people and food was spectacular. We had a rainstorm in Cadiz but it stopped as soon as it started. The church on the main square was wonderful and their open air market was the best we ever have seen as it was extremely clean and such an array of products. The vendors there were very nice and friendly. The pastries in Cadiz at the bakery shop was delicious. We were unable to see Funchal Portugal as the captain let out a couple of medical individuals and entertainers and due to time-frame were due to storm were unable to dock there. However, we were the before and Funchal is another port I would love to visit again. Disembarkation in Florida was ok but many including myself ended up getting the flu. I think it's because in the buffet section even though you put the antibacterial on while entering the buffet area, people are still coughing and sneezing on their hands and handling the serving utensils. Many of the passengers were so rude that they would cough in front of a person without covering their mouths. I never was as sick with the flu as this go around so it was a bad strain of flu that we picked up. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
My wife booked a cruise for us on the Nieuw Amsterdam as a 50th birthday present. Round trip from Venice with stops in Korcula, Croatia; Istanbul, Turkey; Mykonos, Greece; Santorini, Greece; Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey; Katakalon ... Read More
My wife booked a cruise for us on the Nieuw Amsterdam as a 50th birthday present. Round trip from Venice with stops in Korcula, Croatia; Istanbul, Turkey; Mykonos, Greece; Santorini, Greece; Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey; Katakalon (Olympia), Greece. We were scheduled to stop in Athens, but there was a port strike in effect so we had to skip it... instead we had more time in Istanbul. Really had a fantastic time with very few issues. Having been on a few different ships now and a few different lines, I would have to say Holland America is a top notch line. The entertainment was fantastic even if geared toward the older set... top level singing and dancing and a great magician. one night featured just the men entertainers singing in harmony which was standing-ovation worth. My wife also enjoyed listening to acoustic guitar in the Crow's Next Bar and the piano player in the Piano Bar. The food was consistently very good quality and a few times excellent. We booked reservations at two of the specialty restaurants and really enjoyed both evenings. The only exception was the pizza in the aft pool area... the pizza is kept under warming lamps outside and wasn't as warm or fresh as it could have been had the pizza been kept inside... just nitpicking here though. Just a few tips - most of the passengers were over 60 so if you really want to hoof it and see the sights I would skip the HAL shore excursions. My wife and I really enjoy the challenge of getting around our destinations on public transportation so this was no problem for us. With a bit of planning you can see more and save money. In Istanbul the line offered a shuttle back and forth from the Grand Bazaar for $30, the last shuttle returning at 6 pm. There is a great public tram only a few blocks from the ship you can take to multiple destinations for only 4 TL round trip, and it runs through the night if night life is your fancy. Same situation in Katakalon (Olympia). Also, make sure your shore excursion isn't cancelled even if they give you tickets. We had tickets for sea kayaking in Korcula and it was cancelled, but they neglected to tell us.. this made us late getting ashore because we had to then get in the back of the line for tenders.Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly. The ship was extremely clean and well laid out. The HAL employees were very friendly and service oriented... our cabin was always well tended to. The travel guide gave some good presentations that weren't overly geared toward selling excursions and pumping up the HAL recommended souvenir shops. Other notes: Bingo was $25 a card so we didn't play. The coffee bar was excellent. Internet service was good with many computers available. The hot tubs weren't hot enough for us, but then again, given the age of the passengers, this probably avoided a few heart attacks. Open dining was very enjoyable... we could get a table for 2 with very little wait and a table of 4 or more immediately. Ride the donkeys up the cliff in Santorini - a highlight of the trip. :-) Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
We arrived in Barcelona 3 days early for time adjustment and to see the city. The on-off bus is the best to see the most in a short time. Barcelona was an extremely clean city as compared to Venice (yuk). A side trip to Montserrat was ... Read More
We arrived in Barcelona 3 days early for time adjustment and to see the city. The on-off bus is the best to see the most in a short time. Barcelona was an extremely clean city as compared to Venice (yuk). A side trip to Montserrat was super. Services pre-booked through HAL were great in getting us to the Hotel Melia and to the ship. Unaccustomed to European dining we found restaurant's didn't open till 9 PM. At the ship checking in and getting to room was a breeze. Our veranda stateroom was on deck 8 offering us a great view. Our luggage arrived quickly and we began to unpack before dinner. Nothing unusual through our first day (at sea) arriving in Liverno on day 2. We opted to book an Italian Trio of excursions (Florence / Rome / Naples) through a London Company. All three offered more for almost half the cost of HAL. Only difference was having to walk from the ship to the transportation as they were not allowed on the pier. Of all the places (cities) we visited Santorini was the most beautiful. This is not to lessen anything from Florence, Rome, Naples, Messina (Sicily), Nafplion , Katakolon and Kerkira (Greece), Venice, Dubrovnik & Split (Croatia), Kotor (Montenegro), Istanbul and Mykonos (Turkey, and Kusadasi & Santorini (Greece). We noted that there was over 400 kids on our fully booked ship for the first twelve days of the journey creating some consternation due to parents NOT minding their children. The second half there were only about 30. We had a great private tour in Messina booked through people we met on the Cruise Critic web site. At Nafplion we took the HAL tour and later had dinner at the Tamarind (Asian) restaurant ($10 extra PP). We also discovered the Pinnacle Grill ($23 extra PP) which was excellent. It is fine dining to the maximum and we used it four times. The Lido buffet (not like a totally help yourself buffet) was OK but being from the buffet capitol of the world (Las Vegas) we chose late dining. We soon discovered that because Europeans prefer late night options the shows (more on this later) were after dinner so we switched to early dining and had wonderful table mates on both legs of the trip. Presentation of the food in the main dining room prevailed over the menu choices and the quality. My wife and I think it was better on our last RCCL cruise. We did a few excursions with HAL but found it easy to either book ahead with tour companies or with others we found on CC or found our own off the ship. In Athens at the end of the pier there were taxi's offering trips to see everything HAL offered for only €90, not the $420 for the HAL excursion. Sorry HAL. In Athens there is an elevator to the Acropolis for handicapped but you have to ask about how to get to it. We finally got to eat a GREEK pizza which we are unable to find in LV. The "Istanbul by Night" HAL excursion was well worth the money. It was great. We took the HAL tour in Santorini, probably the most picturesque of the Greek Islands and then chose to get off the bus in the capital and take the cable car down. It is beautiful and we plan to go back someday. Although I took a tux I wouldn't do it again plus we just had way too much clothing. If you buy the unlimited cleaning & pressing (we did) you get things back in a day. I kept track of the number of bags and we ended up way ahead. Except for a few shows (outside pro's) most evening shows were less than stellar which was a big minus for this cruise. We've seen better on RCCL & Princess. We only missed one port (Mykonos) due to heavy winds and seas otherwise it was sunny, hot and sticky all other days. On the final night we dined at the Pinnacle with a number of the friends we had met on the ship and through CC. Overall the cruise was great although taxing as this is a very intensive eighteen in-port day (four sea days) cruise. We got to see everything we wanted to see and more. Lots of walking. Again HAL debarkation to airport in Venice was very smooth. If you are going to sail with Holland America and have the extra cash, I suggest you buy 100 shares of Carnival stock and get $250 in shipboard credits. Carnival owns HAL, Seaborne, Princess, Costa and others. We are booked on our next cruise in November 2013 -- 21 days Caribbean Seafarer/Wayfarer on the Noordam. Happy sailing. Alan & Ruth Davis Las Vegas, NV Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
We are recently back from our enjoyable 12 night cruise of the Mediterranean Empires and sharing our thoughts. This was our third cruise with HAL but first time on the Nieuw Amsterdam. We arrived at Marco Polo Airport and had previously ... Read More
We are recently back from our enjoyable 12 night cruise of the Mediterranean Empires and sharing our thoughts. This was our third cruise with HAL but first time on the Nieuw Amsterdam. We arrived at Marco Polo Airport and had previously arranged land transportation from Airport Transfer. This was booked on line at clickairporttransfer dot com. We were four adults and had an assortment of 9 suitcases. The total cost was 65 Euro for all of us and our bags one way. We received prompt email confirmation of our reservation and a contact number if we didn't see our driver when we got to the Arrival area. We were met at the airport in a mini bus and decided to also arrange for pick-up at the end of the cruise for which we received a small discount. Embarkation in Venice was smooth and quick. HAL did retain US passports and provided a receipt but not those of EU citizens. We were able to reclaim them after our stop in Istanbul though we had yet to visit Kusadasi. Our staterooms were immediately available (around 1:00 pm) and our bags began arriving shortly there after. We were in a veranda room (VC category) on deck 5 which provided ample storage space. There even was enough space to slide our large suitcases under the bed. Ship A quick bite in the Lido and we began a short exploration of the ship before heading out. Being a new ship it was obviously in great shape and we liked the NYC touches. There was a problem with the midship pool and so only the aft pool was available for swimming for both children and adults. The situation was remedied after two days. There seemed to be an adequate amount of lounge chairs and no chair hogs. Most of the cabanas didn't have any occupants so not sure if the space they take up outweighs the additional revenue. There seemed to be a few more announcements and the disembarkation was not silent as on other HAL ships but that too may have changed. Nonetheless, they were few enough not to be an intrusion. The photographers were present but didn't harass you which was nice. Guest demographics on the ship appeared to be about 60% North American, 30% European, and 10% everywhere else. A wide variety of age groups from children to seniors made for a nice mix. Dining-can't say enough good things about Tamarind and Pinnacle Grill. Excellent service, delicious food, and nice ambience. Our group of four had tasty seafood, tender herb encrusted tenderloin, and even "to your taste spicy" lamb in the Tamarind. I found the bread pudding dessert a little heavy after a filling meal though. At the Pinnacle, the Steak Diane and filet mignon never disappoint. Neither does the lava cake or souffle! There I felt the potato and vegetable sides were somewhat bland. Both restaurants are definitely worth the extra charge in our opinion. Manhattan Dining Room-Large Group Alert! I've read threads in the past about large groups and how you can determine if they are sailing with you but never gave it much thought.....cruiser be ware! We were assigned "As You Wish Dining" and showed up the first night around 8:15 pm. We were given the pager and waited about 10 minutes...so far so good. Once seated we found the service to be extremely slow. After finishing a course we would wait about fifteen minutes before the plates would be cleared and the next course would be served. It was 10:15 and time for the show when we were gathering our things to leave. We chalked it up to the first night settling in. We returned on the third night earlier, around 7:45 pm. We got the pager and waited about 25 minutes before being seated. The dining room was very busy with the stewards rushing around to serve everyone. There was a large table next to us with people from a group that we had seen wearing color -coded name tags throughout the ship. I struck up a conversation with one of the women and she explained a little about her group etc and that there were 600 members on our particular sailing. Before leaving the dining room, we requested to make reservations for the next night and were told it was too early and to call in the morning. The next morning at 10:30 we called for reservations and were told none were available for the next three nights in the MDR. When we arrived for dinner that evening around eight we received our pager and waited about 40 minutes before it buzzed. When we approached the stand, we were told that our table had just been given to someone else in error and it would be a few more moments. As we were not happy with this chaos every night, my spouse asked to speak to a manager. While we waited at our table, the servers apologized for the wait and explained that there was a very large group etc. The manager arrived to hear about our observation that "As You Wish Dining" was not appearing to be as most people wished . He sent over a bottle of wine and without asking, we were notified in our mailbox daily of a reservation time for any night we were not dining in one of the specialty restaurants. This solved our problem and things did appear to settle down in the dining room as the week progressed but we did see and hear people receiving complimentary glasses of wine or dinner offers for one of the specialty restaurants because of their long wait. I do want to mention that the servers were great and put a lot of effort into trying to serve us in a timely fashion but at times were hindered by more people than the usual standard. Most of the food was consistently good and the presentation was great. My favorites were chicken breast stuffed with spinach and gruyere and the london broil which was tender and cooked as requested. The wine stewards were also the most available of any cruise we have been on. The only other out of whack thing was on the third formal night (not the last night) when they did the obligatory baked alaska parade. It definitely was geared toward the upper level fixed time diners. We had just finished our entree but the table next to us was having their soup! The alaskas weren't lit up either but maybe that is the fire safety rule now. In-room Dining-We used it three times. The first time it never arrived to our cabin or the other couple we were traveling with. We called and they had lost both our order tickets. The other two times there were no problems Entertainment and Activities-I know this is very selective but I found the five shows that I attended were enjoyable. As many have mentioned in past reviews, Cantare (take on Il Divo) were great. They only performed once but you were also able to see them in the other shows. I thought the Garage Band and beachy Avalon shows were also cleverly done with nice effects. The farewell show was a mix of music to appeal to all ages so some numbers I liked better than others. Sometimes the loudness of the music overwhelmed the vocals during all of the shows. Around the ship there seemed to be less entertainment than on other HAL ships. We like to dance but the only venue we found conducive was once when the HAL CATS were having a sing -with- the -band night. Most of the lounges were pretty empty after eleven which surprised us for this time of the year. We also were surprised that the outside SeaView Bar on the aft deck didn't offer anything later at night. We enjoy being outside on the ship but some nights the chairs and tables were mostly stacked up, the lighting was either off or quite bright, and not even any music from the sound system was playing. This was despite the fact that some people (yes I know....smokers can come here too) were ordering a drink and chatting. The only other activity I did was participate in the Olive Oil Tasting which was fun and attracted about 60 people. We found a large selection of current books in the library and a lot of people playing board games or using the internet....despite how slow the connection is. The flavored coffees at the cafe were also good and I'm sorry I never found time to come later for one of the after dinner varieties Ports-had two private tours scheduled but Athen's taxi strike canceled one; rest we did on our own Venice-A favorite city, as a return visit we went to the Maria della Salute church that you always see when sailing in and out of Venice; discovered the Royal Gardens behind the hustle and bustle of St Marco; Late flight back so stored our luggage at the airport and took the Alilaguna to Murano-not a picturesque island from the outside but the glassware makes up for it-be sure you look for the artisan symbol for true Murano glass if that is what you are after Split-a pleasant surprise! Lovely combination of seaside resort, ruins, cafes, and handicrafts in addition to the usual souvenirs; tendering seemed to take a long time as it appeared there was only one boat being used for independents when our tag was called Athens-the extended taxi strike canceled our tour (it's now over I understand) Being able to walk around the Acropolis was amazing but the lack of organization in dealing with the crowds at the site made this our least favorite port Istanbul-fabulous city with so much to see, wish we had more time there; would have paid a little more and skipped one of the smaller islands; on my land vacation wish list! Kusadasi-Ephesus-do a tour that includes the Terrace Houses! If you've been to Petra you will also like Ephesus. We used Celsus Tours and our group of seven also went to Sirince for lunch in a local's house. We met her at her stall in the winding streets lined with vendors and walked to her nearby home for a delicious meal and had an opportunity to chat more with our guide Murat about Turkey Santorini-always beautiful. We were here before so this time took the local bus to the Santo Winery. They drop you off right in front and the bus was around 1.60 Euro. The views are spectacular and you are close enough to see the ship. We did a "do it yourself tasting" were they gave us six generous pours with the name of each wine, a dish full of cheese and olives, a dish of crusty bread like crackers, a tomato paste dipping sauce all for 12 Euro. It was plenty for the two of us. You can also order other types of food and drink, tour the winery, browse in their gift shop. They have large tiered terraces so even if there are tour buses it doesn't feel crowded. It is a busy place so don't expect a great deal of personal service! It's a nearby fun alternative. The highway in front is one way so you have to cross over a bit to catch the bus back. We were able to flag a taxi for 8 Euro so didn't wait for the bus. Mykonos- known for its beaches, we went ashore to take some pictures of the windmills and then enjoyed a quieter ship as the cruise was port intensive Katakolon-charming island; enjoyed cappuccino by a cafe at the shore; opportunities for picturesque shots of fishing boats and blue trimmed houses; many shops some less touristy too. There is access to a public beach where the ship is docked but it is rocky, not sandy. There is a small cafe and some thatched coverings from the sun. Disembarkation was smooth and our airport transportation was already there waiting for us. Thank you if you are still reading my long review! We visited many nice ports and had a good time on a beautiful ship. There were nice touches like the Mariner lunch and the cocktail party hosted by our online travel agent. There was a special cocktail party and disembarkation luncheon for Dutch guests on board and I'm sure other events I know nothing about. My family also enjoyed getting the Dutch news recap in their mailbox each day too. Yet there was something that made us enjoy sailing on the Oosterdam and Noordam more. Those cruises were also during the summer. We know sailing during peak summer time will be more crowded. One other possibility was when we looked at the Cruise Log on our last day. The Nieuw Amsterdam is promoted as having a capacity of 2106 guests with a crew of 929. On our sailing there were 2320 guests with a crew of 926. That's 214 more people with 3 less crew. That might just sum it up. 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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