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We have only sailed on Celebrity ships before; enough to rise to the elite level which also entitles us to several perks. So why sail on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam? We wanted to do the ocean to ocean Panama Canal itinerary in the late winter or early spring when it was cold in the Washington, DC area. Celebrity no longer offered this cruise during this time of the year. So, we reviewed the ships that sailed during this time and decided that the Nieuw Amsterdam would be our choice. (Note: We did compare the Nieuw Amsterdam to the other Holland America ships that provided this itinerary. The Nieuw Amsterdam was reviewed best by Cruise Critic.) How did we like the cruise? Staff. The service staff in all areas of the ship were wonderful, especially their personalities and how they strove to accommodate all requests. Of course, we would only politely ask for something that our experience indicated was reasonable and also within the prevue of a particular service person. We particularly were impressed with the towel creatures left on our beds at night and learned onboard about how they were created and surprisingly how little time each one takes to create. Stateroom. We thought the stateroom size, bathroom (with tub), balcony, comfort of the bed, sitting area, and storage areas were all quite nice---certainly not to be outdone by the Celebrity Infinity which was their ship sailing this itinerary. The stateroom attendants kept the cabin clean and neat daily and were very responsive to requests; although, we had few. Dining. We were pleased with the breakfast and lunch buffets in the Lido; although, we thought the choices and quality of the food were good, but not exceptional–choices and quality for breakfast better than for lunch. The poolside hotdog/hamburger and pizza options helped to make some of our lunches enjoyable. We were not so satisfied with the Lido evening dining because of the limited selection and quality of the food the one night we dined there. Of course, the staff was attentive and friendly. Our regular evening meals were in the Dining Room on deck 3. We thoroughly enjoyed the staff. However, there were only a few dishes that we truly enjoyed eating. We found most of the food unappealing, often inadequately prepared, and providing unsatisfying pleasure. The wienerschnitzel and the surf and turf were the two entrée selections that we found quite appealing. We particularly enjoyed the desserts which had plentiful choices and were mostly prepared well and quite tasty. The entrees we selected in the Pinnacle Restaurant, particularly the Alaska King Crab, was by far the best entrée enjoyed during the cruise. We would have expected that the regular Dining Room would have provided more of this level of quality. Entertainment. The performers in the Mainstage theater were just ok, especially in comparison to our Celebrity experiences. That said, the comic John Wing and the English piano player/comic, Brett Cave, were quite enjoyable. We wouldn’t want to see any of the other acts twice. The cruise’s backup band and the classical quintet were superb. Playing together on the Mainstage to provide the musical background for the featured nature film was a great way to highlight their talents. A particular performance highlight was the Columbian Ambassadors who provided a show on the Mainstage one afternoon. In our opinion, they provided the best performance of the entire cruise and should have had more exposure--perhaps an evening performance. Finally, we thoroughly enjoyed the performance featuring members of the wonderful Filipino staff performing with great enthusiasm. Shore Excursions. We enjoyed the excursions we selected which included city highlights, horseback riding, rafting, snorkeling, zip lining, nature watching on a river, and an equestrian show. The only excursion we were quite disappointed with was the Lake Atitlan full day excursion which required a 2 ½ hour, extremely bumpy bus trip followed by a 45 minute boat ride across an average-looking lake to an unexceptional resort for a basically enjoyable lunch followed by a 45 minute return boat ride exactly the same as the first one, followed by a 2 hour return bus ride exactly the same as the first one, but a half-hour shorter because of driving downhill, and less bumpy apparently due to the lighter loads of trucks going toward the port. All in all, this excursion included too much traveling with very minimal enjoyment for the effort. We also noticed that the Holland America written descriptions of the shore excursions that we took were often not truly reflective of the actual experiences. That said, it was still only the one excursion mentioned above that was disappointing and perhaps a more accurate description of the excursion would have helped us to make a better decision. Informational and Cultural Lectures. In particular, the Shore Excursion informational leader, Jeanette, was superb. Her presentation describing the next day’s experience of sailing through the Panama Canal was clear and comprehensive, allowing an enjoyable understanding of the next day’s experience. Additionally, Jeanette’s other presentations providing information of what we’d see upon arriving in other destinations was thoroughly well done and appreciated. Holland America Onboard Internet. The Holland America onboard internet that provided information about daily activities and dining menus, person-to-person onboard texting, and enabled us to keep track of our own cruise itineraries was extremely effective, reliable and useful. That said, access from our cell phones were not up to the exemplary level of the in-cabin TV access and the technical staff should strive to make both access pathways equally effective. In Conclusion. The purpose of the trip was to enjoy the ocean to ocean Panama Canal itinerary during the late winter or early spring. Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam provided the desired itinerary. The stateroom, the Lido breakfast and lunch buffet along with the hotdog/hamburger and pizza poolside options, the shore excursions, the informational/cultural lectures, the Pinnacle specialty restaurant, and the entire staff were, in our opinion, quite good. The entertainment and the evening dining were, in our opinion, just average. Will we sail with Holland America in the future? Probably not, particularly because the entertainment and evening dining we’ve experienced on Celebrity ships—which we consider to be extremely important parts of the cruising experience—are much better.

Much desired itinerary at perfect time of year; wonderful staff

Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise Review by mnoretsky

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We have only sailed on Celebrity ships before; enough to rise to the elite level which also entitles us to several perks. So why sail on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam? We wanted to do the ocean to ocean Panama Canal itinerary in the late winter or early spring when it was cold in the Washington, DC area. Celebrity no longer offered this cruise during this time of the year. So, we reviewed the ships that sailed during this time and decided that the Nieuw Amsterdam would be our choice. (Note: We did compare the Nieuw Amsterdam to the other Holland America ships that provided this itinerary. The Nieuw Amsterdam was reviewed best by Cruise Critic.)

How did we like the cruise?

Staff.

The service staff in all areas of the ship were wonderful, especially their personalities and how they strove to accommodate all requests. Of course, we would only politely ask for something that our experience indicated was reasonable and also within the prevue of a particular service person. We particularly were impressed with the towel creatures left on our beds at night and learned onboard about how they were created and surprisingly how little time each one takes to create.

Stateroom.

We thought the stateroom size, bathroom (with tub), balcony, comfort of the bed, sitting area, and storage areas were all quite nice---certainly not to be outdone by the Celebrity Infinity which was their ship sailing this itinerary. The stateroom attendants kept the cabin clean and neat daily and were very responsive to requests; although, we had few.

Dining.

We were pleased with the breakfast and lunch buffets in the Lido; although, we thought the choices and quality of the food were good, but not exceptional–choices and quality for breakfast better than for lunch. The poolside hotdog/hamburger and pizza options helped to make some of our lunches enjoyable. We were not so satisfied with the Lido evening dining because of the limited selection and quality of the food the one night we dined there. Of course, the staff was attentive and friendly.

Our regular evening meals were in the Dining Room on deck 3. We thoroughly enjoyed the staff. However, there were only a few dishes that we truly enjoyed eating. We found most of the food unappealing, often inadequately prepared, and providing unsatisfying pleasure. The wienerschnitzel and the surf and turf were the two entrée selections that we found quite appealing. We particularly enjoyed the desserts which had plentiful choices and were mostly prepared well and quite tasty.

The entrees we selected in the Pinnacle Restaurant, particularly the Alaska King Crab, was by far the best entrée enjoyed during the cruise. We would have expected that the regular Dining Room would have provided more of this level of quality.

Entertainment.

The performers in the Mainstage theater were just ok, especially in comparison to our Celebrity experiences. That said, the comic John Wing and the English piano player/comic, Brett Cave, were quite enjoyable. We wouldn’t want to see any of the other acts twice.

The cruise’s backup band and the classical quintet were superb. Playing together on the Mainstage to provide the musical background for the featured nature film was a great way to highlight their talents. A particular performance highlight was the Columbian Ambassadors who provided a show on the Mainstage one afternoon. In our opinion, they provided the best performance of the entire cruise and should have had more exposure--perhaps an evening performance. Finally, we thoroughly enjoyed the performance featuring members of the wonderful Filipino staff performing with great enthusiasm.

Shore Excursions.

We enjoyed the excursions we selected which included city highlights, horseback riding, rafting, snorkeling, zip lining, nature watching on a river, and an equestrian show. The only excursion we were quite disappointed with was the Lake Atitlan full day excursion which required a 2 ½ hour, extremely bumpy bus trip followed by a 45 minute boat ride across an average-looking lake to an unexceptional resort for a basically enjoyable lunch followed by a 45 minute return boat ride exactly the same as the first one, followed by a 2 hour return bus ride exactly the same as the first one, but a half-hour shorter because of driving downhill, and less bumpy apparently due to the lighter loads of trucks going toward the port. All in all, this excursion included too much traveling with very minimal enjoyment for the effort.

We also noticed that the Holland America written descriptions of the shore excursions that we took were often not truly reflective of the actual experiences. That said, it was still only the one excursion mentioned above that was disappointing and perhaps a more accurate description of the excursion would have helped us to make a better decision.

Informational and Cultural Lectures.

In particular, the Shore Excursion informational leader, Jeanette, was superb. Her presentation describing the next day’s experience of sailing through the Panama Canal was clear and comprehensive, allowing an enjoyable understanding of the next day’s experience. Additionally, Jeanette’s other presentations providing information of what we’d see upon arriving in other destinations was thoroughly well done and appreciated.

Holland America Onboard Internet.

The Holland America onboard internet that provided information about daily activities and dining menus, person-to-person onboard texting, and enabled us to keep track of our own cruise itineraries was extremely effective, reliable and useful. That said, access from our cell phones were not up to the exemplary level of the in-cabin TV access and the technical staff should strive to make both access pathways equally effective.

In Conclusion.

The purpose of the trip was to enjoy the ocean to ocean Panama Canal itinerary during the late winter or early spring. Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam provided the desired itinerary. The stateroom, the Lido breakfast and lunch buffet along with the hotdog/hamburger and pizza poolside options, the shore excursions, the informational/cultural lectures, the Pinnacle specialty restaurant, and the entire staff were, in our opinion, quite good. The entertainment and the evening dining were, in our opinion, just average. Will we sail with Holland America in the future? Probably not, particularly because the entertainment and evening dining we’ve experienced on Celebrity ships—which we consider to be extremely important parts of the cruising experience—are much better.
mnoretsky’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
Cabin VA 5113
We thought the stateroom size, bathroom (with tub), balcony, comfort of the bed, sitting area, and storage areas were all quite nice---certainly not to be outdone by the Celebrity Infinity which was their ship sailing this itinerary. The stateroom attendants kept the cabin clean and neat daily and were very responsive to requests; although, we had few.
Navigation Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins