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We're around 70, have lived abroad, and use cruises primarily to visit interesting ports and meet interesting people. We have no interest in the shows on board and avoid the casino and pools. We chose the HAL cruise from Venice to Barcelona for some new ports and the chance to revisit familiar ones. Unfortunately, the Med in October had other plans. Port calls for Kotor, Corfu, and Livorno were all canceled on account of storms. We knew there would be three sea days on this cruise, but six were too many. We did get to see a lot of the Adriatic and the coast of Corsica! And HAL offered a discount on a future cruise for the missed ports. We prefer smaller ships. The 'Nieuw Amsterdam' isn't ridiculously large, but it feels like a Signature-class HAL ship with an extra hundred or so cabins tacked on. This means serious crowding at breakfast in the Lido and on-again, off-again service elsewhere. Our obstructed-view cabin on deck 4 was large enough for two, comfortable, and actually had a decent view around a tender. In the Adriatic when we had winds up to 93 knots, it banged and crashed most of the night, probably a result of its pre-fab construction. We traveled on an S-class ship several years ago and wished we were doing so again. The interior decor on the 'NA' is dull and uninviting with the New York theme unimaginatively carried out. Art work generally seemed a weak imitation of Celebrity's. Not much glitz and no canned music everywhere, but do the cabin corridors have to be painted prison gray/green and the Lido cafe feel like a coffee shop at Port Authority? Signage is very poor, especially for passengers with visual impairment. Surely HAL could put up signs pointing towards the bow and stern at the elevators. The library/crow's nest is too small for the passenger load; seats in public areas are often uncomfortable. On the other hand, the ship was steady in storms, has a good walk-around deck, and offers good places to dine outside. Computer classes were excellent. In sum, it's not an unpleasant ship, just mediocre. For the most part, service was fine. As usual on HAL, the cabin stewards were friendly, helpful, and very hard working. Choices at meals were somewhat repetitious (HAL must have cornered the market on pork belly) but adequate. The in-cabin Bento Box meals from Tamarind were excellent. Our dinner at Tamarind was pleasant but not special. It seemed to us that the ingredients in the food were of lower quality than in the past. Coffee varied from good to sludge; decent choice of teas. And afternoon tea in the MDR was very nice. Of the ports where we did land, Dubrovnik was delightful; we just walked around on our own. Took the ferry from Salerno to Amalfi. We had an excellent private tour from Civitavecchia to Orvieto, a beautiful town, instead of braving Rome for the umpteenth time. Monaco was boring and hard to navigate. Pretty St. Tropez was pleasant with nothing much to see. Embarkation in Venice was OK; disembarkation in Barcelona very efficient.

The Med Misbehaved

Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise Review by sattva

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: October 2015
  • Destination: Mediterranean
  • Cabin Type: Large Outside Stateroom (fully obstructed views)
We're around 70, have lived abroad, and use cruises primarily to visit interesting ports and meet interesting people. We have no interest in the shows on board and avoid the casino and pools. We chose the HAL cruise from Venice to Barcelona for some new ports and the chance to revisit familiar ones.

Unfortunately, the Med in October had other plans. Port calls for Kotor, Corfu, and Livorno were all canceled on account of storms. We knew there would be three sea days on this cruise, but six were too many. We did get to see a lot of the Adriatic and the coast of Corsica! And HAL offered a discount on a future cruise for the missed ports.

We prefer smaller ships. The 'Nieuw Amsterdam' isn't ridiculously large, but it feels like a Signature-class HAL ship with an extra hundred or so cabins tacked on. This means serious crowding at breakfast in the Lido and on-again, off-again service elsewhere. Our obstructed-view cabin on deck 4 was large enough for two, comfortable, and actually had a decent view around a tender. In the Adriatic when we had winds up to 93 knots, it banged and crashed most of the night, probably a result of its pre-fab construction.

We traveled on an S-class ship several years ago and wished we were doing so again. The interior decor on the 'NA' is dull and uninviting with the New York theme unimaginatively carried out. Art work generally seemed a weak imitation of Celebrity's. Not much glitz and no canned music everywhere, but do the cabin corridors have to be painted prison gray/green and the Lido cafe feel like a coffee shop at Port Authority? Signage is very poor, especially for passengers with visual impairment. Surely HAL could put up signs pointing towards the bow and stern at the elevators. The library/crow's nest is too small for the passenger load; seats in public areas are often uncomfortable. On the other hand, the ship was steady in storms, has a good walk-around deck, and offers good places to dine outside. Computer classes were excellent. In sum, it's not an unpleasant ship, just mediocre.

For the most part, service was fine. As usual on HAL, the cabin stewards were friendly, helpful, and very hard working. Choices at meals were somewhat repetitious (HAL must have cornered the market on pork belly) but adequate. The in-cabin Bento Box meals from Tamarind were excellent. Our dinner at Tamarind was pleasant but not special. It seemed to us that the ingredients in the food were of lower quality than in the past. Coffee varied from good to sludge; decent choice of teas. And afternoon tea in the MDR was very nice.

Of the ports where we did land, Dubrovnik was delightful; we just walked around on our own. Took the ferry from Salerno to Amalfi. We had an excellent private tour from Civitavecchia to Orvieto, a beautiful town, instead of braving Rome for the umpteenth time. Monaco was boring and hard to navigate. Pretty St. Tropez was pleasant with nothing much to see. Embarkation in Venice was OK; disembarkation in Barcelona very efficient.
sattva’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Large Outside Stateroom (fully obstructed views)
Cabin HH
Nice cabin with more than enough storage space. Too much furniture: ottoman is useless and just gets in the way. Air conditioning can't be turned off, so frequent sinus headaches. Choice of live TV channels poor, but movie choices good Can't HAL catch up with Celebrity and provide interactive TV for reservations and accounts?
Upper Promenade Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins