After three cruises on the HAL Volendam we decided to change ships and booked our 4th Alaska cruise on the HAL Nieuw Amsterdam. We had booked an Oceanview cabin but two days before our sailing, we were informed by email from HAL that we had a change in cabin. When I went to the Check-in page I noticed that our cabin had been changed from the Main Deck to the 8th and our cabin changed to a Balcony Cabin. When I contacted our tour agent she told us we’d been granted a no cost to us upgrade, and that we’d retain all of our benefits.
This cruise included a drink package, which allowed us up to fifteen drinks per day with a limit of $9.00 a drink. As this was a free package even if we did not use the full number of drinks per day, it was a wonderful addition because all beverages, were included. Even a bottle of water would constitute one drink. In addition a dinner for two was included in the package in the Pinnacle Grill
Embarkation was an easy exercise, after dropping off our luggage we parked in the Cruise Ship parking area. Booking the parking ahead of arrival is a money saver. Keeping track of the parking stall is a very important fact of life. There is a period of line-ups but these folks have been doing this for some time, and the whole operation moves very quickly.
We noticed that the Nieuw Amsterdam was larger than the Volendam, our favourite watering hole was the Ocean Bar, which on the Volendam was more intimate. However that did not detract from the Ocean Bar, it was larger but had the same feel and we thoroughly enjoyed our visits. We found the bar staff in all the bars very attentive and pleasant.
Throughout the ship we found the crew to be very friendly, they were quick with a greeting and smile. Our cabin stewards, Dang & Ang always greeted us by our names which we found amazing knowing how many different people they must serve in each week. We also found our MDR Waiters (Uci and Adi) and Wine Steward (Edgar) made our meal times memorable.
If we had a disappointment it was that we found the meals in the MDR not of the quality that we had come to expect from our cruises in the Volendam. The food was good, but just not quite up to the level of the Volendam. The same was true of our visit to the Pinnacle Grill. It has not changed its menu in three years, and again not to the standard we were used to from the Volendam.
While we didn’t partake of the buffet much, we noticed a better selection of food than we remember from the Volendam. The dining area was larger and there did not seem to be the crowding we had observed previously. We did use the Dive in which again provided excellent hamburgers and hot dogs. New to us was the Pizza Bar, it was truly a great addition to the Lido Deck eating establishments. Located on the Seaview deck we had a wonderful lunch. Both the Dive in and Pizza Bar give you a buzzer that alerts you when you order is ready.
We will not discuss the shore excursions, we came for the cruise and that’s what we budgeted for. In that consideration our cruise was a success, would we do it again on a HAL cruise ship, in a heartbeat. Thank you Holland American for again exceeding out expectations.
Entering the cabin for the first time we noticed that the cabin was slightly larger than the oceanview cabin we’d had previously. It was the balcony deck that really stood out. There were two comfortable chairs with footrests and a small table. The weather forecast was not good, it looked like rain every day so we weren’t sure how much use we’d get from the balcony. Now the Weather Gods were extremely kind and we had great weather. Consequently we made use of the balcony every day, it was a pleasure to sit and watch the world and the beautiful scenery go by.
The cabin was in excellent condition and everything worked as required. The bed was very comfortable and a sofa bed, if needed was available. There was plenty of storage space, including the area under the bed to store the suitcases. The entire cabin was more than adequate. One side note, when we reached an area were the sea was a little rough, we heard a clicking sound. We tracked that down to not something wrong in the cabin, it was the empty coat hangers in the closet. Pushing them together solved the mystery.
Our cabin was on the 8th deck, below the Lido deck. In some reviews we’ve seen, there were complaints about the noise from above. We did not find this to be a problem, possibly because of our cabin location. Also we did not notice an engine noise and the movement in heavy seas was not seriously noticeable, yes there was movement but nothing to be concerned about.