8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
This was our fifth cruise, with Holland America, so I have no comparison to make with other cruise lines. It is obvious during the embarkation, that this is not “their first go-round”. Moving 2000+ people onto the floating hotel is no ... Read More
This was our fifth cruise, with Holland America, so I have no comparison to make with other cruise lines. It is obvious during the embarkation, that this is not “their first go-round”. Moving 2000+ people onto the floating hotel is no mean feat. Add to the fact there’s another cruise ship, different line, loading for the same departure time. These folks do a marvelous job, the Port of Vancouver is a great place to depart from. I am totally amazed by the comments of folks doing reviews for Cruise Critic. Fortunately you can read all the comments, and sometimes wonder “did these folks travel on the same ship?” How can one person be so positive and another negative. Well that’s the way it is, we are all different and we all see things through different eyes. But with the Cruise Critics’ review, you can at least sort out the wheat from the chaff. every review was negative, then the cruise line has a problem - a mixture gives each line a chance to iron out the negatives. Our fifth cruise, this time on the Nieuw Amsterdam, went without a hitch. Embarkation was as smooth as the previous four trips. Our cabin was ready and we met our cabin stewards. Now, these folks meet several people each trip, how do they remember our names? Holland America trains these stewards to do their job, and part of that is getting to know your clients (and that’s what we are). Our Veranda stateroom was everything we’d expected. There is plenty of room for two and the outside deck is an added benefit. The Nieuw Amsterdam is a beautiful ship, wandering around you get to appreciate the effort in making this ship. If your only efforts take you from your stateroom to the Lido or Main Dining Room, you are wasting your travel time. In many reviews I have read that critics have said the trip is boring, there’s nothing to do. HAL regularly prints daily schedules of activities and events. Should you chose to ignore those, then yes, you will have a boring do nothing cruise. Food, does that interest anyone - the Nieuw Amsterdam has every type of venue available, and I had to say they are all top notch. From the Dive In and Pizza place to the Main Dining Room and the pay extra dining. You can have whatever you may wish, you will not be disappointed. On this trip at each stop, Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan there were three other cruise ships, all arriving and departing at similar times. That’s somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 cruisers joining the locals. And yet it doesn’t seem excessive. There was a little sea movement between Ketchikan and the northern Vancouver Island, this was to be expected, but had very little effect on us. Weather forecasting sometimes is misleading. If we’d planned our trips on two-week forecasts, we’d never travel. On the week 18-25 May 2019, the weather gods blessed us. Arriving back in Vancouver, our disembarkation was as smooth and our embarkation Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
I'll sum the whole experience up this way: it was marvelous! Service great, stateroom with balcony was fantastic with ample verandah room with two chairs and two stools plus a small side table, ship was well maintained, overall ... Read More
I'll sum the whole experience up this way: it was marvelous! Service great, stateroom with balcony was fantastic with ample verandah room with two chairs and two stools plus a small side table, ship was well maintained, overall good entertainment and food delicious. We're both vegetarians and had no difficulty finding choices that met our dietary requirements including on the menus and at Canaletto. Minor issues: Embarkation - HAL's portion of the process was excellent but the security/US customs process at Canada Place in Vancouver took way too long....more than 2 hours and it felt like musical chairs. Disembarkation was a breeze as we carried our own bags off to catch the Skytrain to the airport. Some of the Mainstage entertainment could use improvement (illusionists and comedians are not our thing) but we loved BB Kings and the Lincoln Stage Centre musicians so overall the cruise was a great experience! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
This was our third cruise to Mexico and first cruise on a Holland America ship. It met our requirements for a new or recently refurbished ship, left from a nearby port, offered a last minute deal and was destined for ports with beautiful ... Read More
This was our third cruise to Mexico and first cruise on a Holland America ship. It met our requirements for a new or recently refurbished ship, left from a nearby port, offered a last minute deal and was destined for ports with beautiful weather. We went out on a limb to experience an interior cabin just to make the shipboard and port fun budget go farther. Here's what we learned ... Port = San Diego knows how to process two ships at once. Despite the spring break crowd the Disney ship leaving at the same time, luggage loading, processing and boarding ran efficiently. Holland America gives you a time window for loading based on your stateroom deck. Adhere to this and it should go well for you! Parking was $11 a day at the Wyndham hotel directly across from the port. Nieuw Amsterdam Ship = We liked the classic interior, beautiful sculptures and artwork that lined the ship walls. The main staircase isn't dramatic like the Princess ships and their main dining room isn't as cheery and bright like Celebrity Dining Rooms but it does have a small ship feel with large sea viewing windows and offers cozy alcoves like the Billboard Onboard with dueling pianos and the Crows Nest for reading/watching the sea and drinking a good cappuccino. When you stay in an inside room, you are quite interested in alternative places to hang on sea days. We frequented the well equipped gym and Tamarind Bar for views, without music, and comfy chairs for lounging and reading. I would not pick this ship for the pool experience because the pool is small and the deck is somewhat crowded with people and privately rented cabanas around the perimeter. If you choose to sunbathe, visit the Seaview deck on the back of the ship with a small pool. Bring your towel clips because it can be a bit windy. The pool dome is closed at night or cool weather, so the pool area stays busy during the day and night. You don’t see a lot of kids onboard but you do see them during afternoon pool hours. With all the mega ships now offering adventurous amenities for families or partiers, HAL is wise to cater to the interests of grandparents and people over 60 first. I wouldn’t hesitate to book a family reunion on the Nieuw Amsterdam but I think it’s real attraction is that it is not a "TEEN SHIP". It’s sophisticated and classy vibe is perfect for a couple getaway. My favorite feature on the ship was the elevator. Each elevator rug was changed daily to announce the day of the week…brilliant! Entertainment = Holland America has thoughtfully considered it's clientele. They have the BB King Blues Club for mo-town and dance music, the Lincoln Center for classical recitals and the Dueling Pianos in the Billboard for 60, 70's, 80's and singer songwriter favorites. The talent was incredible this cruise! The main stage dance shows by Step One Dance Company were skillfully produced with technical lights and lasers and the comedian- Chris Pendleton and illusionist Leon Etienne - couldn't have been better. Activities = Highlight of this cruise was the America Test Kitchen sessions and the games hosted by cruise directors. EXC cruise talks for this Mexico cruise need improvement. Folklore dances on the sundeck need a stage for more passengers to see. I didn't use the casino but KUDOS to Holland America for offering a SMOKE FREE casino so all passengers can enjoy the Onboard Billboard Entertainment. I was surprised to see that the library limited to games and primarily travel and educational books. Bring your own novel. Food and Service = This aspect is pretty important to cruisers and I was worried how it would par with our previous Celebrity and Princess cruises. I can happily tell you that steak tastes like steak (not liver) and lobster portions are wonderful! We didn't have to go to a specialty restaurant to find food we enjoyed. I was most impressed by the Lido Food court and enjoyed being served. This was far different from milling around Horizon court or encountering a traffic jam at the Celebrity food stations. Passengers may have to wait a bit longer for the crew to dip up your food choices, but it is more sanitary. The Nieuw Amsterdam offers an outstanding salad bar. While ice-cream offerings and desserts don't compare to the Norman Love creations on Princess they were tasty, plentiful and enjoyable. Servers were quick to clean tables, serve drinks and always friendly. Booking last minute, Anytime Dining was our only option. We learned to call up to two days in advance to request a dining time. This cut down on waiting in line like other guests. It was also enjoyable to sit and meet other guests. Bar drinks on cruise ships are expensive. Check the rules and consider bringing your allotment of beverages (including water) on board at each port or enjoying in port. Ports = Mexican ports are not particularly spectacular but with a little personal research and port reviews you can book some great tours. My husband and I have never felt afraid or had any concerns about getting off the ship. The people in Mexico are friendly and tourism is quite important. Keep in mind that local taxi drivers don't always speak English but they know the way to popular tourist areas. I can't comment on HALS ship tours as we typically book our own. I highly recommend the following ... Mazatlan - Enjoy the city with a personal guide on a bike along the water. We saw cliff divers, fishermen feeding huge birds, harbor sculptures, city square and the greatest local food market. We gained knowledge of the city's history and learned to appreciate what the locals love from Daniel at Blue Foot City Bike Tours https://bluefoot.mx Cabo San Lucas - This port requires a tender but there is enough to do in the vicinity if you choose just to shop or refill your prescriptions for half the price. Our preference is to get off the ship and negotiate with locals for a tour. We have taken a whale ride excursion in the past. This time we enjoyed and recommend taking a water taxi (both ways) to Medano Beach. Once there you can enjoy the day at a local resort with a perfect view of the ship and Lovers Beach. Puerto Vallarta - The port is nothing to see except a huge Wal Mart across the street. Instead, opt for a taxi to and from the Malecón. Walk the large boardwalk along the ocean to shop, view beautiful art sculptures, street performers and colorful flowers. There are plenty of great restaurants along the way. Visit the Lady of Guadalupe Church downtown, avoid most city streets and sightsee in touristy areas. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
Nine of us traveled together to cruise the Panama Canal. Our group consisted of three married couples and three single ladies ranging in age from 50 on up. Despite different interests among the members of the group, I don't remember ... Read More
Nine of us traveled together to cruise the Panama Canal. Our group consisted of three married couples and three single ladies ranging in age from 50 on up. Despite different interests among the members of the group, I don't remember anyone complaining of being bored. Three of us enjoyed the trivia contests, others spent lots of time (and money!) at bingo, some enjoyed the movies and entertainment in the theatre, one single lady in our group enjoyed visiting all of the lounges, and one of the married gentlemen in our party (my own DH) enjoyed hanging out on his balcony, reading and enjoying the scenery. Our signature suite, SY 8094, was situated where the ship juts out and featured a long balcony, which we both enjoyed immensely. My only complaint would be the casino, which was dinky and did not feature a good variety. Of course, I would have done better if I would have stayed away, as I lost a bunch of money. It wasn't like there wasn't enough to do.... The shore stops were long enough to provide a good overview of places that we'd like to revisit. Entertainment was good, food was good, and I would recommend anyone for this ship and PC itinerary! Consistent quality keeps us coming back to HAL. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
I recommend this cruise. We've been to these ports many times and this was by far the smoothest sailing we've been on. The weather in our Mexican ports was really good, too. Although there were over 400 children on this ... Read More
I recommend this cruise. We've been to these ports many times and this was by far the smoothest sailing we've been on. The weather in our Mexican ports was really good, too. Although there were over 400 children on this cruise it wasn't a problem, at least to us. Except for the swimming pools, which they seemed to take over, the children were a pleasure to have around. We found the staff to be very friendly and helpful. Everyone! I thought the food was very good. We opted to eat in the dining room every night because we found the food very good there. Even the buffet was, in my opinion, a little better than most other lines we've been on. The entertainment was okay. On the main stage the special effects were good, but they only had six dancers. Excellent dancers , but not exciting. However, the comedian and the magician they had on other nights were very good. We would have enjoyed a little more of a live band around the ship -- maybe by the pool. They had the BB King band, and we enjoyed them.. LOVED the two piano players, and didn't miss many of their performances. Overall, we were satisfied with the entertainment. I thought the ship was beautiful. The balcony cabin was well appointed and, of course, our cabin stewards were the best. The only complaint I have isn't with Holland America, but with Cruise Critic. This is the first time we've signed up for a roll call and not had a meet and greet on the ship. I have no idea why not. We're looking forward to another Holland America cruise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Our trip consisted of a group of 8, all arriving from different destinations across Canada. We had a house rented in Fort Lauderdale for 3 days before the cruise, a lovely home within walking distance to the beach. Good thing we had 3 ... Read More
Our trip consisted of a group of 8, all arriving from different destinations across Canada. We had a house rented in Fort Lauderdale for 3 days before the cruise, a lovely home within walking distance to the beach. Good thing we had 3 days, because of weather we where delayed by over 24 hours. We embarked the ship in groups and met up in the buffet for lunch. Our bags arrived quicker than expected, so we sorted ourselves out, then went for a group party in one stateroom. We where on decks 4, 6,8. And we where very happy on deck 4. Turns out to be a good location to scoot out for the safety drill, a nice walk around deck 3, and also easy to run up to deck 3 if there was something to grab a photo of. We kept the tv on in our room when we where there, tuned to the forward cameras. Loved the option of viewing the Canal crossing on the TV, that was a long hot day. Every morning we enjoyed the buffet. You can’t go wrong, everything you can imagine plus some extra surprises. Lunch was by the pool at the burger place, or pizza. We only attended tea in the afternoon one day, but it was a very nice treat. Dinner we had a group table in the dining room for 8. We didn’t dine there every night, but made sure we all attended the gala nights. Other times we tried some of the different specialty restaurants available. The Pinnacle was a dinner that made you feel like you won the lotto. But our true favourite was the Tamarind. The staff made the dinner fun, and you felt truly welcomed. Plus the exceptional food, and presentation, made it a feast for the eyes. Most days, pre dinner, we attended the martini tasting, or the happy hour in the various bars. But be pre warned, the happy hour bars get full fast. We had beverage cards, so we didn’t worry about happy hour pricing. And I am glad we did, the cards where good for everything we wanted to drink, from sparkling water, to special coffees ,and drinks all around. Every day we had wonderful coffees made in the exploration area, the staff there knew your name and coffee within days. Days we didn’t go on excursions, we spent at the pool, loved the unobtrusive music. But there does need to be more shady areas. We found often people pulling chairs into doorways for shade, but that made it very inconvenient for others. Our group had all been at most of the locations on this cruise, so we didn’t depart at every port. But we really enjoyed the small markets they set up by the ship, for those who just want to purchase a souvenir. The casino was very quiet the entire trip, we did go to the bar there and lost some money at the machines. They did have some very nice piano players there as well . After dinner, it was usually a walk around deck 3 , before seeing what was on the show that night. Most nights we didn’t stay, we all found the entertainment to be lacking, the jazz band was not a group to dance to, so most just sat and listened. We all loved the national Geographic show, with the live performance. Disembarkation was a slow process, they called groups by colour, and there was even colours called that were not on the list, we where close to last. The whole finding your suitcase thing and getting in line , seemed confusing for some. Enjoyed a lovely night in San Diego before flying home. Staff who made this trip memorable: Jerry and Jenny in the martini bar. Janny in the exportation cafe. My perfect mocha. Abdul and Made who made our cabin home. Miguel and Joel who had the wine knowledge. Wayo, Davee, who served table 91 with grace. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We wanted to see Panama Canal, particularly the old part of it. I have done one passing in my previous career at sea more than 30 years ago, on a freighter. Since HAL had a good itinerary suiting the best for our schedule and that ... Read More
We wanted to see Panama Canal, particularly the old part of it. I have done one passing in my previous career at sea more than 30 years ago, on a freighter. Since HAL had a good itinerary suiting the best for our schedule and that there was so good ratings with HAL with travelers with similar preferences we did not hesitate to book this trip, our first on HAL. Our preferences were quite traditional: Piece and quietness, well mannered co-passengers, dining experiences with lots of choices and styles, civilized onboard activitities and entertainment, interesting excursions, kind and friendly staff and responsible shipowners with competent crew. Particularly we were not after activities some other latest cruise ships may offer for families and younger clientele, We tried to avoid cruse lines with all-day partying and noisy teens and kids around. As a summary HAL offered all this in very sophisticated way. Onboard staff exceeded any of our previous experiences. Based on recommendations on the CC HAL group, before boarding we visited at the Total Wine iand picked up a 6 bottle box of selected wines based on their recommendation of "a taste of America". However, after the trip found that the selections onboard was perfectly adequate, if not US-centric. Check-In Fort Lauderdale was done in breeze by very helpful officer, particularly noticing we were not that experienced cruisers on HAL. We boarded soon before noon and had a wonderful lunch served in the MDR after settling in to our cabin. The VD Class cabin was on the 7th deck with a veranda. It was not a suite, but spacious enough for two of us. For our surprise, there was enough storage space even for a much longer trip. There was absolutely no noise from neighboring cabins or from the corridors. Completely quiet, apart quiet hum from the AC. We found ship interiors very nicely designed and we felt being at home soon after boarding. Most of the fellow passengers were naturally from US and Canada, also quite big part, probably a few hundred passengers from Europe and from South America and Far East.. Based on the Skipper's, Jeroen van Donselaar's note, there were some 2100+ passengers and 800+ crew members onboard, so the ship was practically fully booked. Cruise itself offered everything and beyond we expected. For our surprise the seadays were anything but boring. The days were full of activities, e.g. starting from presentation of the ports we were going to call, Digital Workshops, recitals on the Lincoln Center, stand up shows and other performances after dinner at the Main Stage ending upto enjoying the B.B. King's Club. BTW, they played really well. About dining experience, we had dinners in all the restaurants, twice in the Pinnacle Grill, once in Rudy's, once in Tamarind, once in Canaletto and Lido, rest in the MDR. In general, we were fully content with the MDR, but Pinnacle offered us the something to remember for long time. My personal favorite was the Sole Meunier at the MDR, but it was available only once soon after departure, Based on our experience it's difficult to fully understand those who in CC HAL Forum have complained MDR being not upto their standards. Dover Sole in Rudy's; the Maine Lobster, Tartar Steak and Filet Mignon at the Pinnacle. Tamarind was excellent, but as have traveled lots in the far east, we found it a (little bit) too westernized. Sushi was available daily at the Lido. And now we still miss Hamburgers in the Dive In. They were special. Really. Shore excursions we pre-booked, were mostly as expected: In Cartagena the old town was really nice and worthwhile to visit, could have spend a lots of more in the town. Passing Panama Canal was a really highlight of the day. For an ex Sailor (Master Mariner), like me, this was a really meaningful event. We passed the Canal through the old locks, far more interesting than the new ones, which were apparently not that busy on our day of passing. In Costa Rica we chose an Exc to flower gardens up to the mountain having a magnificent view over to the Pacific. We managed to see a pair of macaws not too far away in the garden and a number of crocodiles on the way. It was most beautiful landscape. Time to visit there was far too short, again. In Nicaragua we had a trip to a banana plantation owned by a local prominent family, supplying their products to major brands. Lots of manual, minimally paid work needed before products can be shipped. Highlight of that trip was to see the landscape with active volcanoes on the way. Local people were extremely friendly with us. Really difficult to figure out how they manage to struggle with the average salaries paid in that country. We hope they will manage with their struggle with economy, e.g. expanding from agriculture to tourism. In Guatemala we had another trip to a Coffee Plantation and a small city on the mountain area. Was really beautiful, again. There were also two Mexican ports, Huatulco and Puerto Vallarta on the way. Enjoyed both excursions to the country side. Street vendors in Cartagena and Guatemala were some degree of nuisance, but nothing unexceptional for 'seasoned travelers'. Before the trip we had concerns, e.g. how to cope potential 'cultural differences' during the two weeks with the fellow passengers mostly from US and Canada since we are not that extrovert. That proved to be a non-issue. With all people we spoke with were most friendly curious and knowledgeable what's going outside US. Quite a number of them had visited even to our home country, Finland, on their previous cruises or careers. So overall, would wholeheartedly recommend Panama Cruise with HAL anyone expecting a classy experience to pass the Canal, see beautiful countries with friendly people of Columbia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico, spend time with fellow most nice passengers on a well maintained ship with a stellar crew. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We have enjoyed Holland America cruises and we liked the itinerary Nieuw Standendam offered. This ship exceeded our expectations. The rooms are nicely appointed, small, very functional and well laid out. Was great to be on a new ship, ... Read More
We have enjoyed Holland America cruises and we liked the itinerary Nieuw Standendam offered. This ship exceeded our expectations. The rooms are nicely appointed, small, very functional and well laid out. Was great to be on a new ship, everything is in tip top shape. Our room stewart was excellent and very attentive, thank you Ajaz. We mostly had breakfast & dinners in the dining room, the food was excellent. Some dinners were a 10+. Loved the menu contributions from each Chef. Provided a wide variety of choice. Enjoyed the free style dining option. We never felt rushed to get to dinner. We decided to take the drink package, which made the cruise even better. From morning coffee's at the Dutch cafe, bottled water throughout the day, cocktails during the day & wine with dinner. Option of having an after dinner liquor or drink while enjoying the great entertainment the ship featured. We loved the new layout. We went to all the musical venues and preferred this to the old stage presentation entertainment. The ship felt like it was geared to our generation and not the senior senior generation. I loved the art throughout the ship. Felt the ship was well thought out. Found this cruise to be the most relaxing cruise we have taken. Disappointment: Until the last day in the morning, we had an incident, maitenance was varnishing the railing where our lounge chairs were. I was sitting their for 5 minutes, when the maitenance worker pulled out an electrical mixer for the varnish, I decided to move out of the way and let maitenance complete this area of their work. I was gone for 25 minutes. The housekeeping staff removed our towels and belongings. When I came back with my breakfast in hand new people were in our chairs. I was not happy and were told we had been gone from the chairs for more then 30 minutes. I asked the housekeeping staff to call his supervisor & was told he would be there shortly. 45 minutes later, Sachin Houskeeping Supervisor arrived and after a 9 minutes conversation he did not have a solution, other then telling me he would have security review the tapes. We left feeling we were going to ignored. I asked our room stewart for the Manager of Housekeeping's name Mainz Lopez. By sheer chance I asked an officer where the Mangers office was and it was him. We sat down and explained the events. We asked for a solution which would make us happy, upgrade us to the retreat. Mainz was very professional, honest & said he would see what he could do. I am happy to say we were upgraded to the retreat for the day and Mainz included two monogrammed housecoats. We lost two hours of our last day...Holland America more then made up for this. We have nothing but excellent reviews to say. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
My family and I went on this cruise last minute. As in, we weren't even on the manifest. We cancelled our NCL Epic, and hopped on the Nieuw Amsterdam. What a delight! Check in was pretty easy, considering we were not checked in at ... Read More
My family and I went on this cruise last minute. As in, we weren't even on the manifest. We cancelled our NCL Epic, and hopped on the Nieuw Amsterdam. What a delight! Check in was pretty easy, considering we were not checked in at all. Our luggage was delivered in a timely fashion. Our room was an inside cabin, last minute. However, our room steward was always on top of everything. He was professional and friendly. All the staff a board the ship were the same, always there for directions or help. The food was amazing! We ate filet, lobster tail, osso buco, lamb chops and leg, a variety of Asian dishes. This was in the MDR or the buffet. We ate at Canelletto's, the Italian place, it was perfect. A family style dining experience. There were always pool chairs available. There are 2 pools and they are both heated! That is a plus if you have ever been on Carnival or NCL. The biggest bonus for me is the no smoking in the casino! It was great! The only smoking spot on the ship, that I saw, was top deck near the pool. We were also pleased with the tendering process. Easy to follow directions. Also, like I mentioned before, there are staff on each deck to help. I will say, I travelled with 2 teens. They really enjoyed the teen club. There are no water slides, video games or giant movies screens on this ship. However, there were a group of 10 teens that hung out and had fun. They played chess, ate lunch together, had scavenger hunts, and played bingo! We will definetly book again with HAL. We had a fabulous vacation! The staff, food and the effortless fun, make the decision to travel with them easy! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
We are a couple from New York and we needed to leave the February cold. We are in our mid-50s and sailed to the Western Caribbean. Our cruising style is all about relaxation. We enjoy the beach, the pool, the spa and live music. The ... Read More
We are a couple from New York and we needed to leave the February cold. We are in our mid-50s and sailed to the Western Caribbean. Our cruising style is all about relaxation. We enjoy the beach, the pool, the spa and live music. The night before: We stayed at the Renaissance Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. This is a very pleasant and convenient hotel. It is close to several good restaurants and there is a Walgreen’s across the street, should you have forgotten anything. This was our second stay at the Renaissance, and I have already booked our third. Arrival: We arrived at Port Everglades just before 2 pm, our entry to the port slightly delayed by the Uber driver ahead of us who did not have any identification or proof of citizenship with him and drew the attention of the police. Some trips are better made by local cab. The terminal was crowded because the cruise was sold out, which is pretty typical for President’s week. Check in was extremely efficient and our stateroom was already available. Stateroom: Our verandah stateroom, 7136, was a fantail room with a larger than average balcony and a stupendous view. The stateroom itself is roomier than verandah rooms on Princess, NCL or Celebrity. The furnishings are subdued and neutral and include a desk, table and sofa as well as a bed and two nightstands. Make up mirror and blow dryer were in a drawer in the desk. There is plenty of closet space, though not so much for drawers. Everything was in good condition. The bathroom has a bath/shower combination unlike HAL suites which have a shower and separate jetted tub. Our steward was very conscientious and the cabin was always spotless. Getting adjusted: We had some confusion regarding activities because there was no “Where and When” newsletter in our room. I am not sure if there wasn’t such a newsletter on Sunday or if someone neglected to put in our stateroom or mailbox, but the absence of it caused some difficulties for us as we didn’t know what was going on or how to sign up for the Internet. Internet sign-up is explained on the television, (though the distinctions between packages could be made clearer), but the daily event schedule is not. Once we created Internet accounts, we were able to view the day’s activity schedule online. That evening, our steward left the next day’s “When and Where” in our cabin, which made planning easier. Lido Buffet: On arrival, we ate a late lunch at the Lido buffet. The chicken fajita I had was very tasty. However, none of the hot dishes were labeled, which would be helpful since it is difficult to tell one stew-looking dish from another. For the rest of the week, our cabana steward brought us lunch from the buffet. My favorite dishes were the Indian ones. Breakfasts were very good. I particularly enjoyed the new breakfast sandwich with spinach, avocado, tomato and egg white. Also, the chicken and waffles were delicious and a fun addition to the breakfast options. Beverages: our cruise included a promotional beverage package that allowed each of us 15 drinks, priced at no more than $9.50 per drink, per day. This was an amazing value. We are not big drinkers, but we really appreciate the lattes, San Pellegrino and other drinks that were included along with my one glass of wine with dinner. I hope HAL keeps this promotion because it makes beverages one less thing to think about. I did try a new mixed drink as well. The pomegranate ginger drop is scrumptious. Activities: We had fun playing trivia in the Billboard lounge. It’s a friendly game and you are allowed to mark your own answers. Main Dining Room Dinners were pleasant. We both enjoyed the red snapper and the surf and turf. There was no mixed greens salad on the menu, but our waiter was able to procure one for me. For dessert, we especially liked the tangy key lime pie.I have a salmon allergy which I made our waiter aware of. One night, I ordered the tuna and he returned to let me know that because a pan had broken, the tuna was being seared in the pan used for salmon and would I like to change my order? Yes, I would and that was some excellent service! The chicken in panko we substituted was very good. Pinnacle Grill: This was a little disappointing. Some of our meat was not cooked as we ordered it and when I ate my dessert souffle, I burned my mouth pretty badly because the server had not broken the top of the souffle to let the steam escape and pour the sauce in. (I think she was not very experienced.) When I mentioned this to her and asked for ice water for my mouth, which was blistering a little bit, she didn’t apologize and made a sarcastic joke. The restaurant manager apologized for her and offered a free lunch, but we didn’t want to leave the pool the next day to redeem it. The Pinnacle Grill is usually excellent, so I am considering this a minor blip. Entertainment: There are new entertainment options such as Lincoln Center and Billboard. Initially, we were a little let down because the representative who booked our cruise had told us Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox would be performing on our ship and they were not. This would have been a disappointment if the best part of the cruise had not been the fantastic band at BB KIng’s. The BB King All Stars are incredibly energetic and skillful musicians who are clearly having a great time. We stayed for two to three sets every night and loved every minute. This group really elevates evening entertainment on HAL to a whole new level. The dance floor at the club was busy all week. Unfortunately, we learned that our cruise was this particular group’s last cruise. I felt privileged to see them and hope they return to the Nieuw Amsterdam. Half Moon Cay: On Monday, we tendered to HMC, which our ship was sharing with the Zuiderdam. The tender transfer was quick and efficient. We had reserved a cabana as we have in the past and, after signing a waiver, took the transportation to the cabana. It has a table, chairs, refrigerator, air conditioner, fan, lounges and outdoor shower, and was prepped with everything we had requested—soft drinks, snacks, fruit plate, and snorkel gear. There were four floats as well. We spent the whole day alternating between swimming in the turquoise water and reading in the cabana. Although we’ve rented cabanas before, I’ve never encountered so many people so puzzled by them. I don’t mind folks asking how you reserve a cabana or how much it costs, but two people decided to “reserve” our cabana’s beach lounges by putting their clothing on them and one lady wanted to use our outdoor shower. Half Moon Cay is a gorgeous island and we had a beautiful day. Other ports: We walked around Cozumel, but didn’t bother getting off the ship in Grand Cayman or Ocho Rios as we’ve been both places lots of other times. Also, my husband had a shoulder injury and couldn’t do any of the more active excursions that would generally appeal to us. Cozumel has some good shopping, but there’s a lot of touristy tchotkes too. Onboard cabana: We rented the Monte Carlo, our Lido poolside cabana, for the length of the cruise. This was just wonderful. Zen, our cabana steward, was on point, bringing champagne and chocolate strawberries and pretty much anything else that we needed. The cabana has a lounge bed, table and chairs and looks out at the ocean. It was lovely to read and look out at the ocean all day. There is a cabana curtain you can close for privacy. Generally, we left it open and some random man wandered in and said, “Do you have to pay extra for this?” We affirmed that we did. He said, “Boy, they nickel and dime you!” and decamped. Thanks, pal. Spa: I had an excellent massage at the spa and a very good manicure. I just dislike the way the spa therapists talk to you after the treatment as though they are doctors prescribing medication instead of people working on commission peddling toiletries. No one needs $100 bath salts. I just put a stop to that spiel and tip the equivalent of the commission. Fitness Center: We used the fitness center to work out. It was very clean and all the machines were in good repair. I was able to use the rowing machine whenever I wanted it. We didn’t sign up for any classes, but there was a good selection to choose from. Overall impression: We loved this ship and were very impressed with the entertainment at BB Kings. While HAL has a reputation for catering to much older guests, we felt that this cruise would appeal to the 35-55 crowd as well. They have really improved the entertainment options. We have already booked another trip on the Nieuw Amsterdam in 2020. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
MDH and I have been on more than 10 Celebrity cruises but began to feel like we were no longer the preferred demographic for Celebrity (music and entertainment were taking on an "edgier vibe"). We had been eyeing Holland America ... Read More
MDH and I have been on more than 10 Celebrity cruises but began to feel like we were no longer the preferred demographic for Celebrity (music and entertainment were taking on an "edgier vibe"). We had been eyeing Holland America for a while but were reluctant to take the leap because of their smoking policy and because we had invested so much into Celebrity. When Holland America banned smoking on the verandas we decided to give it a go. We are so glad we did!!!! There is so much to be said but in short...the cruise was fabulous. WHAT WE LOVED: - Friendliness of the entire crew. Every staff person (from officers to window washers) exchanged pleasantries when we passed and when we had a question every effort was made to find the answer. Some went above and beyond remembering names and details shared. They are in the right business! HAL has hired well. - Decor. We love the classic styling with dark woods and neutral palette. The art was tasteful and very interesting to see. - Hydro Pool. We purchased passes to use the facility for the week. Worth every penny. Not crowded, very relaxing and felt like we were being pampered. - Pinnacle Grill and Sel de Mer. I appreciate the fact that people resent having to pay for meals on a cruise but we LOVED our experience in both. The service, ambience and food were fabulous. - Music (EVERYWHERE) - From the solo piano in the Ocean Bar to the Music Walk (Billboard Onboard, BB Kings, Lincoln Center) to the music piped into the dining and bar areas and even the elevator - we loved it ALL. Every live entertainer was exceptionally skilled and we both feel that we would have been willing to pay for concerts by any one of them. - Cabana with Butler on Half Moon Cay - Definitely an indulgence but having done it once we would do it again! The service was phenomenal, the setting was postcard perfect and the food/beverage was terrific. - EXC Lounge and Ocean Bar - Nicely appointed spaces to relax, read and people watch - Beverage Service...Everywhere - Loved the fact that there were staff members assigned to areas of the Lido Buffet seating area that assisted in seating people and then provided beverage service for coffee, iced tea and lemonade, etc. The bar service was also prompt and efficient. We have noticed on other cruises that as beverage packages became popular bar service deteriorated. This was NOT true on this cruise. We wanted a drink someone materialized and made sure we got one. - Direct Luggage Service - We had never heard of this service before but what a service it is! We put our luggage outside of our stateroom the night before disembarkation and did not touch it again until our final destination airport. FANTASTIC!! WHAT WE DIDN'T LOVE: - Communication - There were a few occasions that we were asked for information about excursions or disembarkation but the information did not come back. We didn't know where to be or when. - The Main Stage - Too loud, temperature was too hot. While the talent was there, the production was not to our liking. Didn't live up to the hype of a big production. Clearly we had a great time. Looking forward to a cruise to Alaska in June on the Koningsdam. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We were on this ship in May 2018 and were impressed enough to book for this sailing in February 2019. This ship went through a dry dock in December 2017 that updated the decor. They also stopped allowing smoking inside the casino at that ... Read More
We were on this ship in May 2018 and were impressed enough to book for this sailing in February 2019. This ship went through a dry dock in December 2017 that updated the decor. They also stopped allowing smoking inside the casino at that time. I had always dismissed HAL as an option because of their smoking policy, so this was a welcome change for me. The only smoking currently allowed is now on an outside deck. The crew are very well trained, friendly, and personable. They seem genuinely happy to be on board and also appear to get along well with each other. To me, that's always a sign of good management and work environment. Dining was good to excellent in the main dining room and specialty restaurants. This ship has Tamarind as a restaurant choice, which is excellent (have eaten there four times now). The lido buffet has a nice variety of food that tastes good. As importantly, there is lots of staff around to get drinks and clear tables, which is an area where other cruise lines seem to have cut back. There are also a couple of fast casual options for burgers and pizzas, both of which serve excellent food. HAL has invested heavily in its Music Walk concept. This ship has BB King's Blues Club, Billboard Onboard (two pianists), and Lincoln Center Stage (classical quintet music). All three provide lots of entertainment with a wide variety of music. They're great. There is also a partnership with America's Test Kitchen that includes cooking demos during the day. As fans of the show, this was a great way to spend some vacation time. The infotainment system in the room includes a pretty extensive library of current movies to watch. Recent releases were also screened in the main theater and then were available for in-room streaming as well. Bottom line: HAL has a great product with a great staff for a relaxing getaway. I'm already looking forward to booking my next cruise with them! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Dh and I (mid 40's) and ds (teenager) are seasoned HAL cruisers (all three star). This cruise was a family cruise that included us, our newest addition, a one year old baby girl, and both of our mothers, 6 total. Baby girl is a ... Read More
Dh and I (mid 40's) and ds (teenager) are seasoned HAL cruisers (all three star). This cruise was a family cruise that included us, our newest addition, a one year old baby girl, and both of our mothers, 6 total. Baby girl is a toddler so we had to make some special arrangement for her. My mother in law has some mobility issues, so again some special arrangements. We embarked in Ft Lauderdale on Sunday 2/3/2019. Our itinerary was sea day, Grand Turk, San Juan, St Thomas, sea day, and Half Moon Cay. We stayed at the Embassy Suites ($385 per room a night) in Ft. Lauderdale as we have 3 times before but this will be our last time there. Despite getting there at 1:30pm we were not allowed into our room until 5pm (4pm is check in) and the utter chaos of embarkation morning with the 5 tiny elevators being crammed full constantly and no help for those with mobility issues was too much. We will make other arrangements when cruising out of Ft Lauderdale next year. We used GoShuttle's private van service in Ft Lauderdale for all our transport needs as they were able to accommodate our whole family, all our luggage and they were very good with my mother in law and daughter. Embarkation: Once at Port Everglades at approx 10:50, embarkation was a breeze. We are 3 star Mariners so no special priority boarding but we still only waited until 11:45 to board. Our cabin was ready immediately. Ship: The ship is a great size. The decor is very HAL, more subdued and elegant, which is our speed. We do not care for Joe Farcus' designs as on Carnival and Costa. The layout is also very much like the Vista class. The HAL wrap around wide promenade is a favorite of ours. The retractable lido pool roof is great. We never felt crowded on the ship though the lido could get really busy at lunch. Cabin: We had three deck 4 aft starboard cabins. Ours was 4155. Great cabins. We had the stewards open the balconies up for us which was very nice. The balconies on this deck are deeper and we loved being nearer the ocean. Plenty of storage. Bath is small but has a tub which is nice for the toddler. We requested a Graco Pack n Play for the toddler and it fit next to the couch with plenty of room to spare. We also needed an extension cord for dh's cpap which the steward provided and set up. 2 normal plugs on the desk. 2 usb on the desk and 1 usb near each night stand. The bathroom counter was small but we had room for all our stuff as well as a bottle drying rack for the toddler. Cabin stewards: Great!! They were there when we needed them, took our unlimited laundry everyday, they exceeded our expectations. Food: Lido... good quality, great selection all three meals. The whole roasted suckling pig with crispy skin was a nice meal. The curry and chili crusted lamb chops were even better. High chairs WITH TRAYS available on request though we did have one attendant that had to go ask someone else where they were MDR... food was very good, service was too. We ate 4 dinners and 2 lunches there. Our table stewards were always on the ball. The meal did not feel over long. A highchair with a tray was available as soon as we sat down. The toddler was catered to. Her milk and fruit appetizer was there asap. The kid's menu was very kid friendly. Mac n cheese, chicken nuggets, french fries. For the older, more culinarily advanced kiddo, you can get a half portions of ANY mdr entree for your youngins. We even ordered her a crab cake appetizer because she ate half of mine. Gala night entrees were exceptional. The veal dishes and guinea with gnocchi were stand outs as were the baked crab cakes. Room service... great all around. We did at least continental breakfast with ample string coffee everyday. Write STRONG next to "coffee" if you like it that way and it will be that way. Good stuff. If you want something not on the nightly breakfast door tag, just write it on there. Other room service ordered by our group was great. The stuff from the mdr dinner menu was hot and just as tasty as that served in the mdr. Dive in burgers and dogs.... Mmmm, great burgers and dogs, FANTASTIC french fries. Get the Dive in sauce. Pinnacle Grill.... Good as always. I know some have said they see a change in the meat quality over the years and I don't doubt their observation but my 10 oz filet was almost tender enough to cut with a fork. We paid the $70 supplement for caviar (you only live once) and it was worth it to us. Blini, egg yoke and white, chives, red onion, and shiny brown teeny tasty fish eggs. When mom, mil, and son went they tried the the vegetarian (eggplant and ravioli) options and enjoyed them very much. Tamarind.... this was the best meal of the cruise for us. Service was great as well. As a group, we tried all the soups, all good but the laksa was the favorite. We tried satay sampler, the duck, and the rib appetizers and loved them all though I was partial to the ribs. We had a sushi sampler as well as tempura lobster and dragon roll. Again all were excellent. One of us has the Korean duck breast and the rest the wasabi crusted tenderloin. The tenderloin were perfectly cooked and all but one realy enjoy the crust. The other person just scrapped off some and enjoyed the rest. The duck was tender and good as well. The mushrooms and bok choy as sides were really top notch. So much flavor. Dh and I enjoyed a flask of sake each during our meal which was indeed included in our Elite beverage package. The only miss was the dessert, we all got the Tamarind chocolate at the suggestion of our server but the ginger flavor was too bold for us. It was alright though because we were all so full and we went for ice cream in the lido later that night. Staff/crew in general: Regardless of location, they were great. They loved on our daughter and made our moms feel so welcome. There was one grumpy bartender in the Pinnacle Bar but he made the best drinks on the boat so he is excused. Holland America really does pick the best people. It is their strength. Entertainment: Main Stage:First night was the Super Bowl which was presented minus commercials on the Main Stage complete with waiters taking beverage orders and attendants with trays of yummy game snacks. We saw a bit of one of the shows in the Main Stage but we are not big production people so that was really not a focus. What we did see seemed far more professional than what we have seen on HAL in the past. BB Kings... THIS is the place to be. The BB King All Stars were unreal. Candy Graham, the lady singer, could really bring the house down. The gentleman singer, I didn't catch his name, did a Marvin Gaye medley that was out of this world. 3 sets a night, first 2 were better attended but even the last set had plenty of folks dancing the night away (I am guilty as charged) Billboard Onboard... caught a couple of these sets. The pianists are very talented but I am just not the fan of this style as opposed to the old style single piano man type (think Jimmy Maddox or Stryker). But it was a good time and very very popular. We never made it to the Lincoln Center Stage though we are very much fans of classical music. But with the toddler, not the easiest thing to manage. We did miss having a jazz trio in the Ocean Bar. HAL has had some great jazz musicians there in the past. All in all though there was more than enough great music to keep us completely entertained. Drink package: First time with a drinks package. We did the Elite package as it offered a better wine selection. We were not disappointed. We never reached the 15 alcoholic beverage limit and we did get quite a few non-alcoholic beverages too; coffees, bottled water, milkshakes at the lido bar. It was worth every penny to us. We could upgrade to top shelf liquors in our mixed drinks as well or add a shot of Bailey's, Kahlua or Frangelico in our milkshakes. We also used one of our drink allowances to do a Mixology class which I highly recommend. They never fail to be fun. We did the Quench package for mom's and son. Very good choice. Never had to worry about bottled water or soft drinks plus all the mocktails at any bar and the special coffees at the Crow's Nest were covered too. Spa: First time without the Thermal Suite package. I missed it but knew with the toddler I would not have time for it. I did get an updo for both Gala nights. The stylist did a great job both nights but do go into your appointment with an IDEA of what you want or you risk looking like Tina Turner in Thunder Dome. I always peruse the daily spa specials and wasn't disappointed this time. Mini-facial, full body massage by a very strong/talented masseuse. I got my monies worth. Good experience. Ports: Standard Eastern Caribbean. Grand Turk is no longer a favorite sadly. The port area is too crowded and Margarittaville's DJ started getting vulgar pretty early in the day. We headed back to the ship at noon for lunch. We might try Jack's Shack for longer next time or just stay on the ship. I will say though that the cruise port staff were kind and the complimentary wheel chairs they offer are much appreciated. My mother in law has difficulty with long distances and that pier is a bit of a hike. The lady that helped her was a real sweet lady. We tipped her well. San Juan was very pleasant though very crowded. We got there early thankfully. Mom had never been to the forts (mil had years ago so she stayed on the ship until later) so we walked there and did that. Then we stopped in Old Town for shopping and back to the ship by 4:30pm. It rained all night so no more venturing out. St Thomas was very nice. We got a van cab to downtown. We went to Palm Passage and ate at Amalia Cafe. The food was great. Tapas, olives, gazpacho, sangria, paella, zarzuela.. fresh fish, very very good. I recomend this place. Email them for reservations though. It gets crowded. Half Moon Cay... we had the cabana with butler. It's worth it. The food was excellent and more than we all could eat. Unlimited drinks included is a very nice perk. But even without the cabana, HMC is idyllic. It is the perfect beach day. Disembarkation: Smooth. We were off by 8:45. A porter helped us with luggage and mil wheelchair. He whisked us through customs. We were on our transfer bus by 9:15. The kids: Our son who is a teen met up with some other teens onboard. The teen club is pretty free flowing and stays open on their schedule. He had fun. We also bought him the Quench Package which is unlimited non-alcoholic beverages. He used this very well on coffees and mocktails. We will buy it again. Our 1 year old daughter was too young for any shipboard activities but she was catered too and loved on by the crew and even many of the passengers. She was the "Rock Star" and we were merely her staff. I think the whole crew greeted her by name by the time we disembarked. She was very spoiled. Of note, FLL airport is a pit. I am sorry for those that like the airport. It is the worst international airport I have been in and I have been in some bad ones. It has been horrible for years but now it is intolerable. It is a quarter the size it needs to be to comfortably handle the number of travelers that move through it several days every week all fall and winter long. We will never go through FLL again. The staff are rude, the help for those with mobility issues is nil, the seating and food options are completely inadequate. We will fly into MCO (Orlando, a great airport with tons of options and cheaper flights), rent a car, and stay at a less expensive hotel north of Ft Lauderdale, do our pre-cruise shopping in comfort, and drop off the car embarkation day and take an Avis/Budget shuttle to the port. We will do the reverse when we disembark. In summary, everything HAL this trip was great. FLL airport, Embassy Suites, and Grand Turk were the only downers and things we will change in the future. We are already booked on Nieuw Amsterdam for next year we enjoyed the ship that much! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Holland goes above and beyond to make you as comfortable and welcomed as possible. By far it is the BEST cruise line around. The food was great. The entertainment was great. All staff personable. Our room attendants went above and ... Read More
Holland goes above and beyond to make you as comfortable and welcomed as possible. By far it is the BEST cruise line around. The food was great. The entertainment was great. All staff personable. Our room attendants went above and beyond. As did the waiters. Love everything about Holland America Cruise Line. The ship was spotless. You are treated like royalty everyday. On our last day we had a bar-b-que on the private island. It was wonderful. You would think that you would be given hot dogs and burgers. We had that plus steaks, chicken, fish tacos plus multiple salads, fruits, cupcakes and hand dipped ice cream. It was a nice change and we enjoyed it. I just wish that there was a little more shopping on their island. On the ship you never had to wait in lines. Everything moved quickly. Also you can’t forget about the bread pudding +++++++. OMG what a treat. Thank you again for a wonderful, relaxing time. I can’t wait to do it again... Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We are frequent cruisers but this was our first time on Holland America. We were entirely impressed. This line has it all over the others when it come to service and good food. Buffet is handled in a way which prevents all that food ... Read More
We are frequent cruisers but this was our first time on Holland America. We were entirely impressed. This line has it all over the others when it come to service and good food. Buffet is handled in a way which prevents all that food waste that undoubtedly contributes higher prices and less appealing food. Everything on board was professional and oriented toward customer satisfaction. Met some great people and our fellow cruisers were mostly polite and enjoyable people. The pool was very nice and a great spot on sea days. The entertainment was about on par with most lines (except maybe MSC). Activities on board during the day were somewhat limited. We like smaller ships of this size so it was perfect for us. Others might prefer the new larger ships. The crew is just amazing, always friendly and helpful. We now rank our favorite lines as MSC Holland, Celebrity, Carnival Lines we will never sail on again. Norweigan, Princess, Royal Carb Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our second Cruise on HAL and our fourth cruise in the last ten months, so we have other recent cruises to compare too. Getting on board went quickly and we were not hounded by staff selling Dining, drink packages etc. as we have ... Read More
This was our second Cruise on HAL and our fourth cruise in the last ten months, so we have other recent cruises to compare too. Getting on board went quickly and we were not hounded by staff selling Dining, drink packages etc. as we have seen previously on other cruises. Our room was ready by 1pm and our luggage arrived shortly thereafter. Our stateroom 4154 was very nice and had plenty of room. Our luggage fit under the bed at the top and there were two large drawers at the bottom of the bed, (very nice) Three large closets to handle all our clothing. Did not need a electrical adapter for USB cord. Each side of the bed had a USB port and several electrical plugs on the desk. Bathroom and balcony were a very nice size. The TV was pretty large and included FREE movies and tv shows. We enjoyed all eateries the Lido, Pizza window, Hamburger window. Afternoon Tea and was overly surprised with the food quality in the MDR dining room. Surf and Turf night was two thumbs up, serving filet mignon. Shows were very good. Areas lacking were activities at sea. (to much Trivia) need areas allowing dancing, Karaoke or shows like Quest. Micro soft classes were nice. Our ship had an older crowd, and many had a lot of cruises on Holland America. Disembarkation was a breeze. Off the ship and waiting for our flight in less then a hour. Overall, we were Quite Impressed! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was a family Christmas Vacation Cruise sponsored by my Mother, Step Father, Sister and my 13 year old Daughter. Words can't describe the entire experience from the moment our Taxi dropped us off at the Port Everglades to our ... Read More
This was a family Christmas Vacation Cruise sponsored by my Mother, Step Father, Sister and my 13 year old Daughter. Words can't describe the entire experience from the moment our Taxi dropped us off at the Port Everglades to our ten minute total check in time!! The ship looked perfect size from outside. AS soon as we got off elevator our Steward walked us to our room, his name was Amin and his partner was Ray Ban! The cabin had a balcony and plenty of storage!!! The space on balcony was perfect! Bedding was so very comfortable! The Dining was varied and perfect everwhere...our Dining Room Steward was YanMar and he walked us to our table each night and pushed the wheel chair for us!! Activity room for teens was active and safe! Service was friendly and prompt at ALL times!! We took tender to Grand Caymen..loved the public beach. Did Dolphin Swim at Ochos Rios.....Beach Park at Cozumel and Beach at Moon Cay. My favorite was water temperature and clarity of water at Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach. My least favorite was the taxi ride rip offs to the beaches in Cozmel which were very rocky! Cozmel seemed like a hustle...all other desitinations were more relaxed Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was our second cruise on HAL. The first was a Norway cruise out of Amsterdam in June-July 2018. This time we decided to see (part of) the Caribbean by ship. Embarkation was a breeze even though we were a little late. We made it to ... Read More
This was our second cruise on HAL. The first was a Norway cruise out of Amsterdam in June-July 2018. This time we decided to see (part of) the Caribbean by ship. Embarkation was a breeze even though we were a little late. We made it to the Lido by 2pm and were pleasantly surprise to see lunch was still in full swing. Nieuw Amsterdam (NA) might be my favorite HAL ship so far. It is different than Koningsdam in many ways - most of which are "better" in my opinion. Here are some of the more noticeable differences that are "good." 1. Larger suites/bathrooms: The cabins are better on this ship. No side-saddle toilet. We were in Cabin 6089 and it had two sinks and two showers (one was a tub/shower combo) which made getting ready a breeze. The closet space was also better on NA. 2. Cooler, quieter main dining room: Dinners on Koningsdam took HOURS and were miserably loud and hot. Dinners in the MDR on NA were a breeze. 3. Better food quality: The food quality on NA seemed better but this might just be a supplier issue. The lobster tails on the gala night were amazing and both of our dinners at the Pinnacle Grill were superb. Try the baked Alaska!!! I feel I'm pretty much hooked on HAL and look forward to our third cruise with them. I feel they are a perfect fit for me and my husband. My only real gripe on this trip was an EXC excursion that was cut short and Ocho Rios as a destination. HAL should consider dropping Ocho Rios as the gauntlet of aggressive cabbies one must endure to leave the ship really sours the entire experience. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
From the moment we boarded this ship until we left we were treated so well on this cruise. All of the staff members went out of their way to provide top notch service. The cabin was clean, bright and spacious for a cruise line. We had a ... Read More
From the moment we boarded this ship until we left we were treated so well on this cruise. All of the staff members went out of their way to provide top notch service. The cabin was clean, bright and spacious for a cruise line. We had a partial view cabin but we were not disappointed as we could see the ocean every morning when we woke up. The cabin stewards did a great job keeping our cabin clean, put cute towels on our bed along with chocolate. When we were in the hallways our cabin steward always greeted us by name and asked if we were having a good time.The dining at night was excellent and the staff went above and beyond to ensure we had a great experience. There were many choices of food during the daytime, I really liked the homemade pizzas.There was plenty to do on board, the 2 pools, games, bars, casino, shows, trivia, bingo and even a 5k walk. We took advantage of so many activities throughout this cruise. The ports and shore excursions were so much fun. We traveled with our 21 year old son and he had so much fun, and he met quite a few people around his age. This is a top notch cruise line and not a party boat. We appreciated it being a little more on the quiet side versus some of the other cruise lines. We will definitely be back. It was a great cruise for older children and adults. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
The Entertainment was the highlight of the Cruise——-it was our first experience and even though we had some quite rough weather for 2 days , we had an amazing time. We met so many interesting people and were able to meet our ... Read More
The Entertainment was the highlight of the Cruise——-it was our first experience and even though we had some quite rough weather for 2 days , we had an amazing time. We met so many interesting people and were able to meet our favourite entertainers. It felt like we were back in Ireland! Can’t wait to go in 2020 and enjoy it all again! Gertrude Byrne does an amazing job , she greets everyone on arrival and is there to say goodbye.It is a very welcoming atmosphere and Holland America crew were amazing, nothing was too much trouble. We made many new friends on the Cruise and there were several people on board that we knew. We have told many of our Irish friends and anyone who enjoys music and dancing that this is the best .It was also very nice to have Catholic Mass each morning which was very well attended and especially Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We received a casino offer for our December 9 cruise which we couldn't pass up. The only drawback was the fact that our Inside K cabin did not have a sofa, only a desk chair. This made it particularly uncomfortable for my husband. ... Read More
We received a casino offer for our December 9 cruise which we couldn't pass up. The only drawback was the fact that our Inside K cabin did not have a sofa, only a desk chair. This made it particularly uncomfortable for my husband. This isn't a complaint, just a heads-up. As always the Holland America crew was friendly and personable. Food was wonderful as were the ship amenities. We were not able to tender to the private island due to the weather and I was pleased to see that we received a reduction in the port charges. I hadn't even considered this. I was disappointed because I really enjoy Half Moon Cay. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. I really like Holland America's policy that you can wait in your cabin for your disembarkation number to be called. It is so much less stressful than waiting in a public area. We look forward to cruising with Holland America again especially if the casino offer comes through again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
My wife and i sailed on the nieuw amsterdam out of ft. Lauderdale on december 9th. The check in process was easy, and we were pleased to find that our oceanview room had a floor to ceiling window and a nice, spacious shower. The ship ... Read More
My wife and i sailed on the nieuw amsterdam out of ft. Lauderdale on december 9th. The check in process was easy, and we were pleased to find that our oceanview room had a floor to ceiling window and a nice, spacious shower. The ship itself has been maintained well. The food was excellent and because it was so good we decided not to dine in any of the specialty restaurants. The staff was very friendly and very efficient. The music we heard in the bb king blues club was outstanding - all of the performers are very talented. We also enjoyed the final night show performed by phillipino staff members who sang and danced and conveyed their love for the traditions of their country. Our only two complaints were about one of the excursions and the orthotics sales pitch in the gym. We paid for a holland america excursion to el yunque, the rain forest about 45 minutes outside of san juan. This excursion was a big disappointment. El yunque was severely damaged by the hurricane in 2017 and as a result most trails are closed and there is hardly any visible or audible wildlife. The “highlights” of the $60.00 per person excursion were seeing a very unimpressive waterfall which is on the side of the main road into the park, the view from the tower in the park (nice, but nothing amazing) and a walk down to a stream (nothing to it). In my opinion, this tour should not be offered at the present time by holland america. My second issue has to do with a sales pitch in the gym for good feet orthotics. The box for the good feet orthotics says we make no medical representations, but that is precisely what the gym director did in trying to sell the orthotics. I think that it would be much wiser to go to a medical professional and have orthotics made which are tailored to your feet. Putting these two issues aside we had a great time and we would highly recommend sailing on the nieuw amsterdam! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
Everything was excellent from the food to the service. I love how the ship never feels crowded like Carnival or Norwegian or Royal Caribbean. The average age is a little bit older but at 62 we felt like the young ones! They could use a ... Read More
Everything was excellent from the food to the service. I love how the ship never feels crowded like Carnival or Norwegian or Royal Caribbean. The average age is a little bit older but at 62 we felt like the young ones! They could use a little more entertainment other than the music walk at night. The BB King blues club is fantastic.We did not use the specialty restaurants because the free food is excellent. Great happy hour but it's at four PM and 9PM. A little disappointed they took the movie theater away and replaced it with a meeting room. The casino is the best at sea for blackjack players and is usually empty by 10PM because the elderly clientele is sleeping which I love! The cabin attendants remember your name by the second day and the service from them is the best. The ship NEVER feels crowded and is always spotless. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Preface: I'll preface my review by saying that my partner and I are both 29 and 33 respectively and we were some of the "younger" passengers. Albeit, I did read plenty of reviews before sailing and knew that Holland ... Read More
Preface: I'll preface my review by saying that my partner and I are both 29 and 33 respectively and we were some of the "younger" passengers. Albeit, I did read plenty of reviews before sailing and knew that Holland America (HAL) was geared towards a more mature crowd so we knew what we were booking. We planned our trip in May 2018 for an Eastern Caribbean itinerary when we first discovered HAL. I traveled on NCL, Carnival, and Disney previously. We were looking for a more refined and relaxed atmosphere (without the hairy chest and belly flop contests). This is a review for the 7 day journey: Ship 5/5: Beautiful ship from the moment you step on to the moment you disembark. Nieuw Amsterdam is one of their newer ships with modern amenities with millions of dollars worth of artwork throughout. I always found something new regardless of how many times I walked the same path. I felt like the ship had a great layout and I never had difficulty finding my way after day 2. It just made sense where points of interests were located. I also seen that this ship is under constant upkeep. I always see crew either painting or cleaning, always making sure the ship is looking new and in great condition. It was also a perfect size being not too large at only 2,000 guests. Sure I've seen the same people over and over again which I loved but I never wondered why is it so crowded as crowds didn't exist except for day 1 at embarkation at the buffet which is expected. Cabin 4.7/5: We stayed in an AFT verandah cabin which I absolutely LOVED! The room was very well appointed for two people and we never felt like we didn't have space either for clothes, belongings, or just two people living together. The room was a great size and the bed was super (and I mean overly) comfortable bed. We never had a problem sleeping at night which could be a combination of not having internet or just the full days we had. We had the perfect room stewards Marko and Suko. Both were so quick at making our room up and cleaning it (albeit we aren't messy people and I actually clean before I leave the room as I feel bad for the long days most workers work...more on that later) and always worked around our schedule. The only downside of the room is it did feel a little outdated. I would love to see the bathroom and a few things updated. Again, how often are you in the room?! Although they did have a plentiful on demand selection of movies to watch. Dining 4.5/5: No matter what restaurant we went to we always had a great meal. The one restaurant that really stood out was the Pinnacle Grill. You may hear a few things about this restaurant, and the positive you hear is true! The service and food was phenomenal. The Pinnacle Grill restaurant is not included and costs $35 per person BUT I will say that price is justified. I included some photos of how many crab legs were included with my meal. We also ate at Lido Buffet and the Main Restaurant in addition to the pizza and burger place and I can honestly say I never had a bad meal. All of the food was very good! I do wish they had more Asian dishes. Why I rated it a 4.5 out of 5 as the food was a 5/5 is because whenever you go to a restaurant they really want you to buy drinks because the person selling the drinks gets an 18 percent tip. So when you order a glass of wine they will try to upsell a bottle. It just got a little pushy sometimes as I get they are just trying to make money but I don't like to be second guessed when I make a choice as "why don't you want a bottle as it's only 23 dollars more?". Overall they will leave you alone if you say "I'm fine" but I just don't like the high treasure sales tactics when I am on vacation. Entertainment and Activities 4.9/5: Now hear me out...we are on a ship in the middle of the ocean, how entertained do you want to be? I won't be critical of the entertainment on ship as I know for a fact the entertainers really gave it their all every night for several months. So into the review...The entertainment on board for the nighttime mainstage ranged from Billboard dancing to Latin Night which I found very entertaining. They also had a comedian and magician. I missed the comedian so we went to the magician with very low expectations and my face hurt from laughing so much. He was hilarious. Throughout the day the had other entertainment for all such as Windows 10 classes, floral arrangements, towel animals, piano request entertainment, and more! I'll be honest there wasn't a time on the schedule where I looked and didn't see something going on that I could attend. I just chose not to go to somethings as I wanted to relax. To end the review there is something for everyone on board and especially during At Sea days. Service 5/5: I work professionally in hospitality where we always use the 10ft rule. If someone is within 10ft of you, you acknowledge them. HAL must use the 25ft rule. When they either see you coming or approach they immediately focus on you and say hello and stop what they are doing. It was totally unexpected but something very small that made a huge difference. I felt like royalty on this ship. I still remember even the smallest request where we asked our room steward can we have ice on the first day for drinks. In the morning and at night they always made sure to refill our ice. Sure, I don't know if they did this for everyone but it was appreciated. Also we always order the same drinks when we go to the Billboard On Board bar and the staff always ask if they can get us the same drink. It was this that out of 2000 passengers made us feel like we were the only ones. Ports and Shore Excursions: I will review each port with a very small snippet review Grand Turk: 3.7/5 Maybe it was the excursion we picked or I don't know but I feel like when I wasn't on the tropical island that was raved about. Instead I felt like we were on a small private island that was commercialized. I would recommend snorkeling!! Puerto Rico: 4.8/5 Such a nice island! I been hear many times and even coming back multiple times there is just so much to do. This is a location where you don't need to book an excursion and just walk around if you are able. St. Thomas: 4.9/5 This island was my ultimate favorite on this entire itinerary! The island is just beautiful every way you look at it. What I would recommend is booking a Jeep or car and exploring the island yourself. There is so much to see and do but with a car you can do what you want to do. Why I took off such a small amount is because I been planning for us to dock at a certain port (Havensight) for months and constantly checked daily and even the ports calendar said we would dock at a certain location. Up until the moment we arrived we docked at Crown Bay which took quite a bit of logistical planning to get to Havensight for our Jeep. I would definitely book come back here. Half Moon Cay: 2.7/5 Sigh...and breathe. Now that I got that over with let me write my review. Let me say that this port had my biggest expectation which may have swayed my review. When we arrived we were made aware that the Koningsdam and us were the two ships that were docked at this port this day. Side information is that Half Moon Cay is owned by Carnival as their private island. The Konsingsdam holds a good amount of passengers and our ship holds a good amount of passengers. The island just felt very overwhelming and I didn't find it relaxing at all. We booked a Clam Shell three months in advanced which is an umbrella with two chairs. Since our ship was delayed by an hour for a medical emergency (no fault to anyone, things happen) we found it very difficult to find a chair. Every person we went to told us to go somewhere else. Finally we found a clamshell in front of a very loud family. We just head back to the ship after being on the island for 2 hours. The food on the island was very good and the staff that pulled the meal off was very good! Other: The crew is what makes the ship a solid 10/10 as they work such long days and are always looking for ways to make you happy. We booked a Retreat Cabana for the At Sea days and Korn and Raymond work such long days but always had a smile. I would say the crew is what makes Nieuw Amsterdam the ship that it is. My very minor (is he really complaining about theses things?) complaint section: Some very minor things that didn't change my trip at all but I thought I could always add it below. - I found the bathrooms to be adequate size but the toilet seats to be very small. I am by no means a big guy being 5'7 and 145 pounds but they just seemed small. - There was no midnight buffets or late night dining options past 11:30pm except for room service. I wish they had a buffet at midnight or maybe a specialty snack station. But knowing the demographics of the ship maybe midnight really is too late. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Actually, we chose this cruise because it was the least expensive 7-day cruise occuring during my vacation period! Plus it was Holland America whom we've had success cruising with previously. We like Holland America for a number ... Read More
Actually, we chose this cruise because it was the least expensive 7-day cruise occuring during my vacation period! Plus it was Holland America whom we've had success cruising with previously. We like Holland America for a number of reasons. With the older crowd aboard (though this time the average seemed younger than usual..or is it us getting older? We're in our 50's) life onboard is not so frantic. There always seem to be loungers available on the ship- not too crowded for the most part. We like the wide promenade deck and the loungers there - a wonderful place to sit, read and watch the ocean go by. The BB Kings Blues band was as fantastic as we've come to expect. The mainstage productions from the Hal singers and dancers were quite good. The comedian and the magician as well. The only disappointing production was the small orchestra performing music to go with a BBC planet Earth movie which I thought was like filler. (The musicians were very good, just the whole idea wasn't working for us). The Nieuw Amsterdam is quite a beautiful ship. Some people said it had been totally refurbished recently, I don't know if this is true but I really liked the style and decor. The ports were good - very hot weather (which, being from Canada, is what we came for!). I do wish HAL would put in a pier on their private island instead of tenders. There was another ship there at the same time and tendering was a very slow process. The private island is gorgeous - one of the most beautiful beaches I've seen. The crew were all wonderful. We felt pampered. That's all we wanted! We booked one excursion from the ship- the 'pirate' ship harbour cruise in San Juan. Though it was very pleasant and the crew were great and presented interesting historical facts, we didn't really see anything that we didn't see cruising in on the ship. So we found the $70pp price tag overpriced. In St. Thomas we went up the gondola to a high point on the island - beautiful view of the harbour. We should've bought tickets on the ship because they were cheaper, but I left it too late. On Grand Turk we rented a golf cart (privately) to take a tour of the island. It's not a big island and there isn't a lot to see: a lighthouse and a museum. But it was still interesting to see the extents of the small island. We picked up a local man on the road to town and he gave us some interesting facts about the place as well. He said that his house, (built by his grandfather?) was supported by beams made from masts from shipwrecks off the coast of the island! Read Less
Nieuw Amsterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.5 0.0
Public Rooms 4.5 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 4.5 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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