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For my wife and me, this was our 24th cruise (8th on a Holland America ship). BE FOREWARNED --- if internet access is important to you, you need to choose another cruise line or be prepared to deal with HORRIBLE (virtually non-existent) Wi-Fi service. We had also been on the Nieuw Amsterdam several years ago, and the internet access was much better even back then. Every other cruise line used by us (e.g. Royal Caribbean and Princess) has been far better at providing Wi-Fi Service. The only other practical option for internet access on this ship was to wait for a port call and go to places there that offer Wi-Fi service. In some ports you can use the $10 per day cellular service international packages (e.g. Verizon and AT&T), and get good internet access that way, and also then make any desired telephone calls. But, don’t count on anything in this regard on this ship. Since we highly rely upon internet access, we will not be cruising with Holland America again until they get this problem solved. The people at guest services were nice, and they admitted the problem. But, they said that they were unable to do anything about it. We left about 600 unused minutes (for which we prepaid and were not reimbursed) because lack of service made that available internet time totally useless. ALSO, the ship only had two computers for use by passengers --- and these are buried down across from guest services on Deck 1. Previously, the ship had a number of computers up in the Explorations Café. Those are no longer there. This factor (combined with the poor internet service) resulted in lines at those two computers the day before return as many passengers needed to print out boarding passes for their flights back home. Otherwise, our cruise was a positive experience. The ship was renovated over the winter, and this favorably shows. Virtually everything looks new. Compared to our last cruise on this ship, it seems like the crew had been given a “pep-talk” about being nicer to passengers. Every member of the crew/staff was friendly and engaging --- and they always did their utmost to assist. Here are some specifics that might be helpful: 1. Cabin --- Consider a Signature Suite. In our view, these are a bargain. There is plenty of room (with a large balcony) and the bathroom has two sinks with a whirlpool tub and separate shower. There are multiple electrical outlets with multiple separate USB ports for charging portable IT devices. There are two desk areas (one that I used as an “office” and the other that my wife used as a “vanity/make-up area”). There is so much available storage that about half of it we did not even use. The large wall-mounted LED TV screen is great compared to the desk top TV’s previously provided. We were impressed with the soundproofing of the cabin. Little, if anything, could ever be heard from other cabins (adjoining, above or below). In the past, we have had to wait until mid-afternoon to get access to our cabins. More recently, cruise lines have been providing immediate access upon boarding (which is nice). We boarded around noon, and our room was immediately available for us, with our luggage getting to our room within an hour after that. 2. Pools --- There are fresh water rather than salt water (which is a major plus in our opinion). The main pool has a retractable roof. If it is raining or too cold, the roof can be entirely or partially closed. So, the main pool is usable at just about all times. One problem concerns the deck at the main pool. It is brown vinyl that burns bare feet when the hot sun is shining on it. There were plenty of available towels on deck (without any special check out process). We really did not have much of a problem finding available lounges. However, passengers seem to be adopting a new approach to things. If someone has not used a lounge for a while, a passenger “in need” just uses it anyway and prepares himself or herself to apologetically move if the original “stakeout” user returns (which often is many hours later). The ship now has drape-surrounded “cabanas” on the main pool deck on one side of the pool, which cabana areas are rented out for a reasonable daily charge. If you have a family that wants something like that as a “home base” then those can be useful. But, there is not much ventilation in these cabanas, so they can get too hot/uncomfortable to use. Attendants did provide fans to set up in the cabanas to help make things more comfortable for those using them. 3. Dining --- We had, and like, fixed time dining at an assigned table. Being served by (and getting to better know) the same waiters prompts those waiters to do a “little more” for you. On a couple of evenings, we mixed things up and dined (later than our fixed dining time) at two of the specialty restaurants. Each (the Pinnacle Grill for steaks and Canelleto’s for Italian) were outstanding. Overall, we find that the food on Holland America ships are the best (as compared to other cruise lines that we have used). The breakfast buffet on the Lido Deck has most of the usual food choices, but also adds special stations for preparation (while you watch) of: i) omelets and eggs to order; and ii) pancakes, crepes or Belgian waffles. We never found ourselves waiting in a line of more than a few people, which is one of the special values of a mid-size ship (with less passengers) as opposed to the mega-ships. 4. Ports of Call --- Both San Juan (Puerto Rico) and St. Thomas appear to have recovered pretty well from the hurricanes of last fall. We had been to both ports on previous cruises, and we really did not notice much difference from those previous times. We like the wide array of shopping and restaurants closely available in each of these ports, as opposed to ports at smaller places. Half Moon Cay is the best private island facility of all of the cruise lines that we have used (great beach). There really is no meaningful shopping there. This cruise did not give sufficient time to really enjoy this stop. This is especially the case since the tendering process from ship to shore takes a fair amount of time. Since we had to be back on board by 2:30 p.m., most passengers were returning shortly after the lunch barbeque. Put another way, a good sunny “beach day” was wasted. At Turks and Caicos, the Margaritaville near the pier there is great (nice pool --- much bigger than the one in Falmouth, Jamaica which is also near the pier there). 5. Excursions --- We had (multiple times) previously been to each of the ports of call. There was hardly any offered shore excursion that we had not done in the past. Any of them (depending upon a person’s special interest) we could recommend. So, under the circumstances, we just went into town and casually walked/shopped, and stopped at some interesting cafes or restaurants for a drink and a snack (AND TO USE WIFI THAT WAS HORRIBLE ON THE SHIP). This made this cruise actually one of the more relaxing ones that we have had. Simply put, we did very little and enjoyed it. 6. Spa --- My wife and her sister (who accompanied us on this cruise with her husband) especially enjoyed the spa. For a reasonable weekly charge they had access to all of the facilities there (e.g. heated ceramic lounges, saunas and a hydra pool), and they used them often. Each booked a couple of treatments (for which there were special discounts), and they were pleased with them. 7. Miscellaneous ---- Walkie-talkies. As mentioned above, we had others that accompanied us on this cruise. To communicate with each other, we used small hand held walkie-talkies and found them to be quite helpful. Good ones (e.g. with better than a 10 mile point-to-point range) worked to and from just about any point on the ship, in spite of all of the metal and walls. While the ship was anchored off of Half Moon Cay, those of us on shore could easily communicate that way with others that had stayed on the ship. Hotel shuttles. If you stay at a nearby hotel the night before embarking, we would encourage you to avoid using their hotel shuttle services. First, we are finding that the hotels now use a service that charges for that service in an amount that is almost as much as taking Uber or a taxi. Second, with these outside services, you can often end up in a large van or bus like we did this time. We were the only two people going to our ship and were the last one’s off of the bus. We had to wait and wait as each other ship terminal preceded our drop off. It took us over an hour to go from the hotel to our ship terminal. Others that chose to take Uber or cabs paid only $5 to $10 more than we did, and it took them around only 10 minutes to get to the terminal. So, use Uber or a taxi rather than the companies that provide shuttle service for the hotels. Formal nights. When we started “cruising” years ago, many people dressed in tuxedos/cocktail dresses for the formal nights. That is seldom done any more. Some people wore sport coats/dresses. But, the vast majority just wore what I would label as sport casual. So, nowadays, we would suggest that you save luggage space and leave your formal attire at home. Direct Luggage. At Port Everglades (for certain participating airlines), passengers are offered the ability (at $25 per person) to have their luggage “checked-in” on the ship. After attaching certain special “tagging”, you leave your luggage outside of your cabin the night before return --- the same way as everybody else does this. But, after that, you do not see your luggage again until you pick it up from the baggage claim at your final point of destination. It is nice to not have to mess with luggage through customs or at check in at the airport. We have used this service on several cruises now, and we have been pleased with it. Mobile Passport App. Port Everglades provides for the use of the Mobile Passport App on your smart phone for going through customs. This really speeds the process at disembarkation, and passengers should download this app and use it where available.

Nice Cruise - Horrible Wi-Fi internet access

Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise Review by beach1948

9 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2018
  • Destination: Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Signature Superior Verandah Suite
For my wife and me, this was our 24th cruise (8th on a Holland America ship). BE FOREWARNED --- if internet access is important to you, you need to choose another cruise line or be prepared to deal with HORRIBLE (virtually non-existent) Wi-Fi service. We had also been on the Nieuw Amsterdam several years ago, and the internet access was much better even back then. Every other cruise line used by us (e.g. Royal Caribbean and Princess) has been far better at providing Wi-Fi Service. The only other practical option for internet access on this ship was to wait for a port call and go to places there that offer Wi-Fi service. In some ports you can use the $10 per day cellular service international packages (e.g. Verizon and AT&T), and get good internet access that way, and also then make any desired telephone calls. But, don’t count on anything in this regard on this ship. Since we highly rely upon internet access, we will not be cruising with Holland America again until they get this problem solved. The people at guest services were nice, and they admitted the problem. But, they said that they were unable to do anything about it. We left about 600 unused minutes (for which we prepaid and were not reimbursed) because lack of service made that available internet time totally useless. ALSO, the ship only had two computers for use by passengers --- and these are buried down across from guest services on Deck 1. Previously, the ship had a number of computers up in the Explorations Café. Those are no longer there. This factor (combined with the poor internet service) resulted in lines at those two computers the day before return as many passengers needed to print out boarding passes for their flights back home.

Otherwise, our cruise was a positive experience. The ship was renovated over the winter, and this favorably shows. Virtually everything looks new. Compared to our last cruise on this ship, it seems like the crew had been given a “pep-talk” about being nicer to passengers. Every member of the crew/staff was friendly and engaging --- and they always did their utmost to assist.

Here are some specifics that might be helpful:

1. Cabin --- Consider a Signature Suite. In our view, these are a bargain. There is plenty of room (with a large balcony) and the bathroom has two sinks with a whirlpool tub and separate shower. There are multiple electrical outlets with multiple separate USB ports for charging portable IT devices. There are two desk areas (one that I used as an “office” and the other that my wife used as a “vanity/make-up area”). There is so much available storage that about half of it we did not even use. The large wall-mounted LED TV screen is great compared to the desk top TV’s previously provided. We were impressed with the soundproofing of the cabin. Little, if anything, could ever be heard from other cabins (adjoining, above or below).

In the past, we have had to wait until mid-afternoon to get access to our cabins. More recently, cruise lines have been providing immediate access upon boarding (which is nice). We boarded around noon, and our room was immediately available for us, with our luggage getting to our room within an hour after that.

2. Pools --- There are fresh water rather than salt water (which is a major plus in our opinion). The main pool has a retractable roof. If it is raining or too cold, the roof can be entirely or partially closed. So, the main pool is usable at just about all times. One problem concerns the deck at the main pool. It is brown vinyl that burns bare feet when the hot sun is shining on it.

There were plenty of available towels on deck (without any special check out process). We really did not have much of a problem finding available lounges. However, passengers seem to be adopting a new approach to things. If someone has not used a lounge for a while, a passenger “in need” just uses it anyway and prepares himself or herself to apologetically move if the original “stakeout” user returns (which often is many hours later).

The ship now has drape-surrounded “cabanas” on the main pool deck on one side of the pool, which cabana areas are rented out for a reasonable daily charge. If you have a family that wants something like that as a “home base” then those can be useful. But, there is not much ventilation in these cabanas, so they can get too hot/uncomfortable to use. Attendants did provide fans to set up in the cabanas to help make things more comfortable for those using them.

3. Dining --- We had, and like, fixed time dining at an assigned table. Being served by (and getting to better know) the same waiters prompts those waiters to do a “little more” for you. On a couple of evenings, we mixed things up and dined (later than our fixed dining time) at two of the specialty restaurants. Each (the Pinnacle Grill for steaks and Canelleto’s for Italian) were outstanding. Overall, we find that the food on Holland America ships are the best (as compared to other cruise lines that we have used). The breakfast buffet on the Lido Deck has most of the usual food choices, but also adds special stations for preparation (while you watch) of: i) omelets and eggs to order; and ii) pancakes, crepes or Belgian waffles. We never found ourselves waiting in a line of more than a few people, which is one of the special values of a mid-size ship (with less passengers) as opposed to the mega-ships.

4. Ports of Call --- Both San Juan (Puerto Rico) and St. Thomas appear to have recovered pretty well from the hurricanes of last fall. We had been to both ports on previous cruises, and we really did not notice much difference from those previous times. We like the wide array of shopping and restaurants closely available in each of these ports, as opposed to ports at smaller places. Half Moon Cay is the best private island facility of all of the cruise lines that we have used (great beach). There really is no meaningful shopping there. This cruise did not give sufficient time to really enjoy this stop. This is especially the case since the tendering process from ship to shore takes a fair amount of time. Since we had to be back on board by 2:30 p.m., most passengers were returning shortly after the lunch barbeque. Put another way, a good sunny “beach day” was wasted. At Turks and Caicos, the Margaritaville near the pier there is great (nice pool --- much bigger than the one in Falmouth, Jamaica which is also near the pier there).

5. Excursions --- We had (multiple times) previously been to each of the ports of call. There was hardly any offered shore excursion that we had not done in the past. Any of them (depending upon a person’s special interest) we could recommend. So, under the circumstances, we just went into town and casually walked/shopped, and stopped at some interesting cafes or restaurants for a drink and a snack (AND TO USE WIFI THAT WAS HORRIBLE ON THE SHIP). This made this cruise actually one of the more relaxing ones that we have had. Simply put, we did very little and enjoyed it.

6. Spa --- My wife and her sister (who accompanied us on this cruise with her husband) especially enjoyed the spa. For a reasonable weekly charge they had access to all of the facilities there (e.g. heated ceramic lounges, saunas and a hydra pool), and they used them often. Each booked a couple of treatments (for which there were special discounts), and they were pleased with them.

7. Miscellaneous ----

Walkie-talkies. As mentioned above, we had others that accompanied us on this cruise. To communicate with each other, we used small hand held walkie-talkies and found them to be quite helpful. Good ones (e.g. with better than a 10 mile point-to-point range) worked to and from just about any point on the ship, in spite of all of the metal and walls. While the ship was anchored off of Half Moon Cay, those of us on shore could easily communicate that way with others that had stayed on the ship.

Hotel shuttles. If you stay at a nearby hotel the night before embarking, we would encourage you to avoid using their hotel shuttle services. First, we are finding that the hotels now use a service that charges for that service in an amount that is almost as much as taking Uber or a taxi. Second, with these outside services, you can often end up in a large van or bus like we did this time. We were the only two people going to our ship and were the last one’s off of the bus. We had to wait and wait as each other ship terminal preceded our drop off. It took us over an hour to go from the hotel to our ship terminal. Others that chose to take Uber or cabs paid only $5 to $10 more than we did, and it took them around only 10 minutes to get to the terminal. So, use Uber or a taxi rather than the companies that provide shuttle service for the hotels.

Formal nights. When we started “cruising” years ago, many people dressed in tuxedos/cocktail dresses for the formal nights. That is seldom done any more. Some people wore sport coats/dresses. But, the vast majority just wore what I would label as sport casual. So, nowadays, we would suggest that you save luggage space and leave your formal attire at home.

Direct Luggage. At Port Everglades (for certain participating airlines), passengers are offered the ability (at $25 per person) to have their luggage “checked-in” on the ship. After attaching certain special “tagging”, you leave your luggage outside of your cabin the night before return --- the same way as everybody else does this. But, after that, you do not see your luggage again until you pick it up from the baggage claim at your final point of destination. It is nice to not have to mess with luggage through customs or at check in at the airport. We have used this service on several cruises now, and we have been pleased with it.

Mobile Passport App. Port Everglades provides for the use of the Mobile Passport App on your smart phone for going through customs. This really speeds the process at disembarkation, and passengers should download this app and use it where available.
beach1948’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Signature Superior Verandah Suite
Cabin SS 6074
A signature suite is a great bargain. There is plenty of room (with a large balcony) and the bathroom has two sinks with a whirlpool tub and separate shower. There are multiple electrical outlets with multiple separate USB ports for charging portable IT devices. There are two desk areas (one that I used as an “office” and the other that my wife used as a “vanity/make-up area”). There is so much available storage that about half of it we did not even use. The large wall-mounted LED TV screen is great compared to the desk top TV’s previously provided. We were impressed with the soundproofing of the cabin. Little, if anything, could ever be heard from other cabins (adjoining, above or below).
Upper Verandah Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
    We arrived in Fort Lauderdale the day before embarkation and stayed at a nearby Marriott. We ate dinner at the IslaMoroda which is the restaurant tied with the Bass Pro facility. It has a nice "maritime-fisherman's" ambiance, and the food (concentrating on seafood) was reasonably good.

    At the hotel, we signed up for shuttle service to Port Everglades the next morning. We are finding that the hotels now use a shuttle service that charges for that service in an amount that is almost as much as taking Uber or a taxi. With these outside services, you can often end up in a large van or bus like we did this time. We were the only two people going to our ship and were the last one’s off of the bus. We had to wait and wait as each other ship terminal preceded our drop off. It took us over an hour to go from the hotel to our ship terminal. Others at the hotel that chose to take Uber or cabs paid only $5 to $10 more than we did, and it took them around only 10 minutes to get to the terminal. So, use Uber or a taxi rather than the companies that provide shuttle service for the hotels.
    View All 1,926 Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Grand Turk
    At Turks and Caicos, the Margaritaville near the pier there is great (nice pool --- much bigger than the one in Falmouth, Jamaica which is also near the pier there). There are a few shops in the area near the pier, but collectively they do not offer a lot merchandise.
    View All 2,106 Grand Turk Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Half Moon Cay
    Half Moon Cay is the best private island facility of all of the cruise lines that we have used (great beach). There really is no meaningful shopping there. This cruise did not give sufficient time to really enjoy Half Moon Cay. This is especially the case since the tendering process from ship to shore takes a fair amount of time. Since we had to be back on board by 2:30 p.m., most passengers were returning shortly after the lunch barbeque. Put another way, a good sunny “beach day” was wasted.
    View All 1,185 Half Moon Cay Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Half Moon Cay Cruise Port Review
  • San Juan
    Both San Juan (Puerto Rico) and St. Thomas appear to have recovered pretty well from the hurricanes of last fall. We had been to both ports on previous cruises, and we really did not notice much difference from those previous times. We like the wide array of shopping and restaurants closely available in each of these ports, as opposed to ports at smaller places. In San Juan, you can pretty well get to a lot of places simply by walking there --- as opposed to St. Thomas where you need shuttle or taxi transportation.
    View All 3,780 San Juan Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's San Juan Cruise Port Review
  • St. Thomas
    Both San Juan (Puerto Rico) and St. Thomas appear to have recovered pretty well from the hurricanes of last fall. We had been to both ports on previous cruises, and we really did not notice much difference from those previous times. We like the wide array of shopping and restaurants closely available in each of these ports, as opposed to ports at smaller places. In San Juan, you can pretty well get to a lot of places simply by walking there --- as opposed to St. Thomas where you need shuttle or taxi transportation unless you only go to the Havensight Mall immediately next to the pier.
    View All 4,653 St. Thomas Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's St. Thomas Cruise Port Review