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We arrived a day early in Fort Lauderdale and stayed at Embassy Suites near the Cruise Port. We ended up taking the hotel's shuttle as Uber was too busy, we knew the cost was $9/person for the service. Hotel did not have room ready so they gave us dining credit at their restaurant, which was mediocre even for free food. Embassy has a nice pool, coy ponds and water fall and conveniently located in front of Total Wine, a grocery store and restaurants for those that want to load up on soda, wine etc to take on the cruise. Picked up Uber at the hotel for $15 to pier 21. Took under 5 minutes to get through security at 11:15 and we were on the ship and in our room before 12pm as group 12 to embark. Easy. Checked out the ship, grabbed lunch at the Lido and hit the pool with the kids. The Edge was parked next to us, it is a beautiful giant ship. We were the last to leave of 7 ships in port that day just after 5pm. We sat down at dinner after 6 on level 2 for Open Dining. This was our least favorite experience of our week on NA. The waiter and his assistant were less than good at being waiters. As parents of kids with allergies we know it is our responsibility to check what has nuts and what doesn't, but HAL makes a big deal about allergy issues during our registration and express document so one would think that this would be taken care of when we sit down for dinner. On our previous cruise the assistant maitre d' discussed the allergy with my daughter prior to us getting food at the table, this time nothing not even the waiter asking anyone at the table. I found this odd. We watched one of our dishes be offered to the adjacent table and then placed back on what I call the waiter stand with the other three dishes for almost 10 minutes before it was served to us.... It doesn't matter what the dish is it isn't boing to be great after that long, our snapper was average the kids' steaks were not great. Ordered dessert and decaf, received regular and the wrong dessert. Anyway we knew what section not to be in the rest of the week. Sea day was relaxing, beautiful sunrise in the morning from the Explorer's Cafe. The kids and I ate in the Lido and one of them noticed a dolphin jump off the side of the ship that we enjoyed briefly of another few jumps, lucky. Lido breakfast is very good, fresh made eggs nearly anyway you want including omelets, poached and fried; but scrambled are pre-made. We love the eggs and crepe stations along with what else bacon. The chocolate croissants seemed to find my plate each morning as well. The service is always with a smile and the service at the tables for drink refills is impeccable. Lunch at the Dive-in for burgers, hot dogs chicken sandwiches and maybe the best fries you will ever have. The taco bar in the lido makes a nice guacamole and chip dish for a nice snack at the pool as well. Dinner at 5:15 as the reservation line for Open dining pushed us to have that or 745. You can also show up without a reservation anytime between 515 and 8 to be seated. They turned people away after 8 pm. We had a window table for the four of us this evening and had a wonderful waiter, Putu Subeka. First words out of his mouth were "does anyone have food allergies?" Made me realize that our first waiter failed at this step in his training. We requested Putu's section each night thereafter. He remembered how we liked steaks cooked the next night and that our daughter had a nut allergy, made recommendations of what we might like each night and that portions of certain dishes may be smaller than we would like... so order more than what the initial dish. He made our dining experience more enjoyable and we thank him for that. Favorite dinners were Gala night filet and lobster (don't be shy ask for another tail) and the veal cutlets. The veal was amazing! Our girls enjoy the steaks that we learned our a little cooked a little past what we prefer so we ordered them medium instead of medium well and that was to their liking. HAL has several dishes on the menu each night that don't change French Onion Soup, a salad, Salmon and a New York Strip steak. The steak now has a peppercorn sauce that we didn't enjoy, once ordered without this sauce it is a nice steak. Other dishes that stood out were the mushroom risotto as an excellent dish the, shrimp cocktail and coconut shrimp were our favorite appetizers. The first stop was Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos. We were on the port side of the ship and felt like we were at the beach the pier is so close... I had a call to be on so unfortunately we didn't do an excursion here. The beach is nice, but I suggest going to the other side of the pier as the snorkeling is better and you're not staring at the ships. We were going to walk around the corner of the island for better snorkeling, but the sea was a little rough due to a storm blowing in, I had read the snorkeling was better there. We did see an octopus, huge barracuda and some coral, but unfortunately too many people walk on the coral in the shallow water and it is having a hard time recovering from the hurricane. There are better beach stops that Grand Turk, explore the island rather than sit at a small beach. Next port Old San Juan, PR. We had been here in the past for a long weekend so felt comfortable driving (warning the locals don't know how to use blinkers and often cut from one side of the freeway to the opposite to exit - worse than all of the bad Chicagoan drivers I know). We took and Uber to the airport to get a rental car for the day. Unfortunately getting in at 1pm and all aboard at 10:30 didnt allow us to see the forts, rainforest and beaches in one trip. We elected to show the kids the only rainforest in the USA, El Yunque, though it was beat up by Hurricane Maria. Half of this national forest is still closed, you can see several waterfalls from the road or short hike, but the best waterfall and hike in the park are still closed; El Mina Falls. The lookout which allows you to see the sea from the forest is still open. We saw and felt the waterfalls, found a bunch of lizards and decided to hit the beach. We chose to go the Isla Verde as it is beautiful and close to the airport for our rental return (the airport car rentals are open 24/7 vs most in OSJ that close at between 4 and 5). Great beach for perfect body surfing waves, chilling in clean soft sand. Stayed here past sunset and the other 3 got no-seeum bites due to this.... lesson learned. This was our favorite beach of the trip and only one with waves. The other beach that is easy to reach via car/Uber is Condado both are in safe areas with plenty of security. Back to return the rental car. Uber cannot pick up at SJU yet, so it was a $24 taxi ride back to the ship for a shower. Plenty of time to shop though many of the shops closed at 6 or 7. We walked by CVS/Walgreens along the water and then up towards OSJ and there was a gift shop open within 4 blocks of the water. Good selection of shirts, trinkets, and normal souvenir junk. Walked around SJU to show the kids the European feel of the city and paver streets. Such a cool city. Off to grab some Lido ice cream and a movie in the room. Our third stop in as many days was St. Thomas. We docked at sunrise in a gorgeous port staring at the island and its hills/mountains. We have snorkeled around much of North America and won't go on a "cattlemaran" with 50 plus people. I found a small charter called Bama Breeze V.I. who would customize the trip to our liking. I highly recommend them for any of your boating needs in the USVI, our only disappointment was that we booked the half day instead of the full day. Pay the extra to be picked up near your ship as we did. My phone plan through Verizon allows us to use our phones in US Territories so I was able to call the charter that our planned docking location had changed. We snorkeled in the crystal clear waters of Buck Island above a shipwreck and along the shoreline that has beautiful coral that is regrowing and is nearly recovered from the recent hurricanes. We saw a giant stingray buried in the sand and two octopi amounts the dozens of fish species, great spot. There were other tours here, but we were able to stay away from them for the most part. Off to Water Island for a rest stop and then to Honeymoon Beach (on Water Island). Honeymoon beach is protected in a bay is a marina, has several bars, the softest white sand, grassy swim area, and lots of TURTLES. We swam/snorkeled with 7 or 8 turtles here for nearly an hour. They are truly amazing to watch in the water and so rare to see that many at once. You can take a ferry from the mainland to Water Island. Captain Doug dropped us near the ship. A quick change and off to downtown for a souvenir or two. St. Thomas has open sided vans that they use for taxis, they drive on the wrong side of the road and frankly there was no way I was driving here. $4 per person to get a ride to downtown on the taxi. Found the market to be lackluster and headed to a shop. The taxi dropped me off at the grocery store, Pueblo (I think), for Dt. Mountain Dew. That is right Dt. Mountain Dew on St. Thomas, not in or on Puerto Rico. My wife is addicted to it so we needed to get a 12 pack, $6 wasn't bad for an island stop and well worth it for my wife. The "supermarket" as they call it is a short walk from Crow or Crown Bay (people called it both). A relaxing sea day followed by a tender ride to Half Moon Cay. While the beach at HMC is gorgeous, it is fairly crowded with 2 ships in for the day, the food is below average at the "cook out" and the swimming areas are fairly small. This was our least favorite stop on the Eastern Caribbean Voyage. Disembarkation day was a quick breakfast, finish packing and then waited in the US customs line for maybe 15 minutes. Easy. Uber to the airport and on our way home to cold WI. No vacation is perfect, but this one was amazing. We made memories as a family, had a lot of laughs, wonderful service, delicious food and met a lot of friendly people along the way. Thank you HAL for taking great care of us and putting your best foot forward for your guests. I almost forgot, the captain came on the loudspeaker at 630p on our last sea day to make an announcement to tell passengers to stay off the open decks and balconies. One of our fellow passengers had to be evacuated off the ship... A somber moment in our cruise, we were told the passenger made it to the hospital and was doing well... We pray that this passenger and the family are doing well. We hadn't seen this before and it certainly amazing that the Coast Guard is able to take someone from the ship within a moments notice (an hour or so...) talented selfless people.

Great Cruise w/Calm Seas

Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise Review by SailawayWI

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: November 2018
  • Destination: Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
We arrived a day early in Fort Lauderdale and stayed at Embassy Suites near the Cruise Port. We ended up taking the hotel's shuttle as Uber was too busy, we knew the cost was $9/person for the service. Hotel did not have room ready so they gave us dining credit at their restaurant, which was mediocre even for free food. Embassy has a nice pool, coy ponds and water fall and conveniently located in front of Total Wine, a grocery store and restaurants for those that want to load up on soda, wine etc to take on the cruise. Picked up Uber at the hotel for $15 to pier 21. Took under 5 minutes to get through security at 11:15 and we were on the ship and in our room before 12pm as group 12 to embark. Easy. Checked out the ship, grabbed lunch at the Lido and hit the pool with the kids. The Edge was parked next to us, it is a beautiful giant ship. We were the last to leave of 7 ships in port that day just after 5pm. We sat down at dinner after 6 on level 2 for Open Dining. This was our least favorite experience of our week on NA. The waiter and his assistant were less than good at being waiters. As parents of kids with allergies we know it is our responsibility to check what has nuts and what doesn't, but HAL makes a big deal about allergy issues during our registration and express document so one would think that this would be taken care of when we sit down for dinner. On our previous cruise the assistant maitre d' discussed the allergy with my daughter prior to us getting food at the table, this time nothing not even the waiter asking anyone at the table. I found this odd. We watched one of our dishes be offered to the adjacent table and then placed back on what I call the waiter stand with the other three dishes for almost 10 minutes before it was served to us.... It doesn't matter what the dish is it isn't boing to be great after that long, our snapper was average the kids' steaks were not great. Ordered dessert and decaf, received regular and the wrong dessert. Anyway we knew what section not to be in the rest of the week. Sea day was relaxing, beautiful sunrise in the morning from the Explorer's Cafe. The kids and I ate in the Lido and one of them noticed a dolphin jump off the side of the ship that we enjoyed briefly of another few jumps, lucky. Lido breakfast is very good, fresh made eggs nearly anyway you want including omelets, poached and fried; but scrambled are pre-made. We love the eggs and crepe stations along with what else bacon. The chocolate croissants seemed to find my plate each morning as well. The service is always with a smile and the service at the tables for drink refills is impeccable. Lunch at the Dive-in for burgers, hot dogs chicken sandwiches and maybe the best fries you will ever have. The taco bar in the lido makes a nice guacamole and chip dish for a nice snack at the pool as well. Dinner at 5:15 as the reservation line for Open dining pushed us to have that or 745. You can also show up without a reservation anytime between 515 and 8 to be seated. They turned people away after 8 pm. We had a window table for the four of us this evening and had a wonderful waiter, Putu Subeka. First words out of his mouth were "does anyone have food allergies?" Made me realize that our first waiter failed at this step in his training. We requested Putu's section each night thereafter. He remembered how we liked steaks cooked the next night and that our daughter had a nut allergy, made recommendations of what we might like each night and that portions of certain dishes may be smaller than we would like... so order more than what the initial dish. He made our dining experience more enjoyable and we thank him for that. Favorite dinners were Gala night filet and lobster (don't be shy ask for another tail) and the veal cutlets. The veal was amazing! Our girls enjoy the steaks that we learned our a little cooked a little past what we prefer so we ordered them medium instead of medium well and that was to their liking. HAL has several dishes on the menu each night that don't change French Onion Soup, a salad, Salmon and a New York Strip steak. The steak now has a peppercorn sauce that we didn't enjoy, once ordered without this sauce it is a nice steak. Other dishes that stood out were the mushroom risotto as an excellent dish the, shrimp cocktail and coconut shrimp were our favorite appetizers.

The first stop was Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos. We were on the port side of the ship and felt like we were at the beach the pier is so close... I had a call to be on so unfortunately we didn't do an excursion here. The beach is nice, but I suggest going to the other side of the pier as the snorkeling is better and you're not staring at the ships. We were going to walk around the corner of the island for better snorkeling, but the sea was a little rough due to a storm blowing in, I had read the snorkeling was better there. We did see an octopus, huge barracuda and some coral, but unfortunately too many people walk on the coral in the shallow water and it is having a hard time recovering from the hurricane. There are better beach stops that Grand Turk, explore the island rather than sit at a small beach.

Next port Old San Juan, PR. We had been here in the past for a long weekend so felt comfortable driving (warning the locals don't know how to use blinkers and often cut from one side of the freeway to the opposite to exit - worse than all of the bad Chicagoan drivers I know). We took and Uber to the airport to get a rental car for the day. Unfortunately getting in at 1pm and all aboard at 10:30 didnt allow us to see the forts, rainforest and beaches in one trip. We elected to show the kids the only rainforest in the USA, El Yunque, though it was beat up by Hurricane Maria. Half of this national forest is still closed, you can see several waterfalls from the road or short hike, but the best waterfall and hike in the park are still closed; El Mina Falls. The lookout which allows you to see the sea from the forest is still open. We saw and felt the waterfalls, found a bunch of lizards and decided to hit the beach. We chose to go the Isla Verde as it is beautiful and close to the airport for our rental return (the airport car rentals are open 24/7 vs most in OSJ that close at between 4 and 5). Great beach for perfect body surfing waves, chilling in clean soft sand. Stayed here past sunset and the other 3 got no-seeum bites due to this.... lesson learned. This was our favorite beach of the trip and only one with waves. The other beach that is easy to reach via car/Uber is Condado both are in safe areas with plenty of security. Back to return the rental car. Uber cannot pick up at SJU yet, so it was a $24 taxi ride back to the ship for a shower. Plenty of time to shop though many of the shops closed at 6 or 7. We walked by CVS/Walgreens along the water and then up towards OSJ and there was a gift shop open within 4 blocks of the water. Good selection of shirts, trinkets, and normal souvenir junk. Walked around SJU to show the kids the European feel of the city and paver streets. Such a cool city. Off to grab some Lido ice cream and a movie in the room.

Our third stop in as many days was St. Thomas. We docked at sunrise in a gorgeous port staring at the island and its hills/mountains. We have snorkeled around much of North America and won't go on a "cattlemaran" with 50 plus people. I found a small charter called Bama Breeze V.I. who would customize the trip to our liking. I highly recommend them for any of your boating needs in the USVI, our only disappointment was that we booked the half day instead of the full day. Pay the extra to be picked up near your ship as we did. My phone plan through Verizon allows us to use our phones in US Territories so I was able to call the charter that our planned docking location had changed. We snorkeled in the crystal clear waters of Buck Island above a shipwreck and along the shoreline that has beautiful coral that is regrowing and is nearly recovered from the recent hurricanes. We saw a giant stingray buried in the sand and two octopi amounts the dozens of fish species, great spot. There were other tours here, but we were able to stay away from them for the most part. Off to Water Island for a rest stop and then to Honeymoon Beach (on Water Island). Honeymoon beach is protected in a bay is a marina, has several bars, the softest white sand, grassy swim area, and lots of TURTLES. We swam/snorkeled with 7 or 8 turtles here for nearly an hour. They are truly amazing to watch in the water and so rare to see that many at once. You can take a ferry from the mainland to Water Island. Captain Doug dropped us near the ship. A quick change and off to downtown for a souvenir or two. St. Thomas has open sided vans that they use for taxis, they drive on the wrong side of the road and frankly there was no way I was driving here. $4 per person to get a ride to downtown on the taxi. Found the market to be lackluster and headed to a shop. The taxi dropped me off at the grocery store, Pueblo (I think), for Dt. Mountain Dew. That is right Dt. Mountain Dew on St. Thomas, not in or on Puerto Rico. My wife is addicted to it so we needed to get a 12 pack, $6 wasn't bad for an island stop and well worth it for my wife. The "supermarket" as they call it is a short walk from Crow or Crown Bay (people called it both). A relaxing sea day followed by a tender ride to Half Moon Cay. While the beach at HMC is gorgeous, it is fairly crowded with 2 ships in for the day, the food is below average at the "cook out" and the swimming areas are fairly small. This was our least favorite stop on the Eastern Caribbean Voyage. Disembarkation day was a quick breakfast, finish packing and then waited in the US customs line for maybe 15 minutes. Easy. Uber to the airport and on our way home to cold WI. No vacation is perfect, but this one was amazing. We made memories as a family, had a lot of laughs, wonderful service, delicious food and met a lot of friendly people along the way. Thank you HAL for taking great care of us and putting your best foot forward for your guests.

I almost forgot, the captain came on the loudspeaker at 630p on our last sea day to make an announcement to tell passengers to stay off the open decks and balconies. One of our fellow passengers had to be evacuated off the ship... A somber moment in our cruise, we were told the passenger made it to the hospital and was doing well... We pray that this passenger and the family are doing well. We hadn't seen this before and it certainly amazing that the Coast Guard is able to take someone from the ship within a moments notice (an hour or so...) talented selfless people.
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
Cabin V
Port side balcony was wonderful to see the ocean whenever we wanted. Not a lot to look at on most of the sea days, but did see a number of flying fish.
Upper Verandah Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Grand Turk
    A tiny island, small beach at the pier with lackluster snorkeling. Try to the other side of the pier for average snorkeling. I recommend taking a tour here as the beach isn't much to see.
    View All 2,111 Grand Turk Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Grand Turk Cruise Port Review
  • Half Moon Cay
    Beautiful beach and water color. Just a hangout day at the beach. The "cookout" food is below average and I would wait to eat on the ship if I did it again. Though some thought the tender boat experience was dangerous... it was fine. Each of them took over 200 people and HAL did not collect any of the tender tickets....
    View All 1,191 Half Moon Cay Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Half Moon Cay Cruise Port Review
  • San Juan
    We made our own excursion by taking an Uber and rental car to El Yunque. Driving on the island isn't for everyone, but I had been before and we were good. I would wait for El Yunque to reopen before I would pay a tour to go here as it is mostly a drive thru experience to see waterfalls from or near the road. Still neat to be in the only rainforest in US. We also drove to Isla Verde to experience one of the best beaches around. Great body surfing waves. Be aware that the no-seeums bite at dusk...
    View All 3,794 San Juan Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's San Juan Cruise Port Review
  • Snorkeling
    Our chartered boat did what we wanted, took us to great snorkeling spots provided drinks for the whole family and were amazing. Take a look at Bama Breeze V.I. for any snorkeling or boating trips in USVI. They are amazing. Buck Island had amazing water clarity.
    View All 319 Snorkeling Reviews