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We are a couple from New York and we needed to leave the February cold. We are in our mid-50s and sailed to the Western Caribbean. Our cruising style is all about relaxation. We enjoy the beach, the pool, the spa and live music. The night before: We stayed at the Renaissance Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. This is a very pleasant and convenient hotel. It is close to several good restaurants and there is a Walgreen’s across the street, should you have forgotten anything. This was our second stay at the Renaissance, and I have already booked our third. Arrival: We arrived at Port Everglades just before 2 pm, our entry to the port slightly delayed by the Uber driver ahead of us who did not have any identification or proof of citizenship with him and drew the attention of the police. Some trips are better made by local cab. The terminal was crowded because the cruise was sold out, which is pretty typical for President’s week. Check in was extremely efficient and our stateroom was already available. Stateroom: Our verandah stateroom, 7136, was a fantail room with a larger than average balcony and a stupendous view. The stateroom itself is roomier than verandah rooms on Princess, NCL or Celebrity. The furnishings are subdued and neutral and include a desk, table and sofa as well as a bed and two nightstands. Make up mirror and blow dryer were in a drawer in the desk. There is plenty of closet space, though not so much for drawers. Everything was in good condition. The bathroom has a bath/shower combination unlike HAL suites which have a shower and separate jetted tub. Our steward was very conscientious and the cabin was always spotless. Getting adjusted: We had some confusion regarding activities because there was no “Where and When” newsletter in our room. I am not sure if there wasn’t such a newsletter on Sunday or if someone neglected to put in our stateroom or mailbox, but the absence of it caused some difficulties for us as we didn’t know what was going on or how to sign up for the Internet. Internet sign-up is explained on the television, (though the distinctions between packages could be made clearer), but the daily event schedule is not. Once we created Internet accounts, we were able to view the day’s activity schedule online. That evening, our steward left the next day’s “When and Where” in our cabin, which made planning easier. Lido Buffet: On arrival, we ate a late lunch at the Lido buffet. The chicken fajita I had was very tasty. However, none of the hot dishes were labeled, which would be helpful since it is difficult to tell one stew-looking dish from another. For the rest of the week, our cabana steward brought us lunch from the buffet. My favorite dishes were the Indian ones. Breakfasts were very good. I particularly enjoyed the new breakfast sandwich with spinach, avocado, tomato and egg white. Also, the chicken and waffles were delicious and a fun addition to the breakfast options. Beverages: our cruise included a promotional beverage package that allowed each of us 15 drinks, priced at no more than $9.50 per drink, per day. This was an amazing value. We are not big drinkers, but we really appreciate the lattes, San Pellegrino and other drinks that were included along with my one glass of wine with dinner. I hope HAL keeps this promotion because it makes beverages one less thing to think about. I did try a new mixed drink as well. The pomegranate ginger drop is scrumptious. Activities: We had fun playing trivia in the Billboard lounge. It’s a friendly game and you are allowed to mark your own answers. Main Dining Room Dinners were pleasant. We both enjoyed the red snapper and the surf and turf. There was no mixed greens salad on the menu, but our waiter was able to procure one for me. For dessert, we especially liked the tangy key lime pie.I have a salmon allergy which I made our waiter aware of. One night, I ordered the tuna and he returned to let me know that because a pan had broken, the tuna was being seared in the pan used for salmon and would I like to change my order? Yes, I would and that was some excellent service! The chicken in panko we substituted was very good. Pinnacle Grill: This was a little disappointing. Some of our meat was not cooked as we ordered it and when I ate my dessert souffle, I burned my mouth pretty badly because the server had not broken the top of the souffle to let the steam escape and pour the sauce in. (I think she was not very experienced.) When I mentioned this to her and asked for ice water for my mouth, which was blistering a little bit, she didn’t apologize and made a sarcastic joke. The restaurant manager apologized for her and offered a free lunch, but we didn’t want to leave the pool the next day to redeem it. The Pinnacle Grill is usually excellent, so I am considering this a minor blip. Entertainment: There are new entertainment options such as Lincoln Center and Billboard. Initially, we were a little let down because the representative who booked our cruise had told us Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox would be performing on our ship and they were not. This would have been a disappointment if the best part of the cruise had not been the fantastic band at BB KIng’s. The BB King All Stars are incredibly energetic and skillful musicians who are clearly having a great time. We stayed for two to three sets every night and loved every minute. This group really elevates evening entertainment on HAL to a whole new level. The dance floor at the club was busy all week. Unfortunately, we learned that our cruise was this particular group’s last cruise. I felt privileged to see them and hope they return to the Nieuw Amsterdam. Half Moon Cay: On Monday, we tendered to HMC, which our ship was sharing with the Zuiderdam. The tender transfer was quick and efficient. We had reserved a cabana as we have in the past and, after signing a waiver, took the transportation to the cabana. It has a table, chairs, refrigerator, air conditioner, fan, lounges and outdoor shower, and was prepped with everything we had requested—soft drinks, snacks, fruit plate, and snorkel gear. There were four floats as well. We spent the whole day alternating between swimming in the turquoise water and reading in the cabana. Although we’ve rented cabanas before, I’ve never encountered so many people so puzzled by them. I don’t mind folks asking how you reserve a cabana or how much it costs, but two people decided to “reserve” our cabana’s beach lounges by putting their clothing on them and one lady wanted to use our outdoor shower. Half Moon Cay is a gorgeous island and we had a beautiful day. Other ports: We walked around Cozumel, but didn’t bother getting off the ship in Grand Cayman or Ocho Rios as we’ve been both places lots of other times. Also, my husband had a shoulder injury and couldn’t do any of the more active excursions that would generally appeal to us. Cozumel has some good shopping, but there’s a lot of touristy tchotkes too. Onboard cabana: We rented the Monte Carlo, our Lido poolside cabana, for the length of the cruise. This was just wonderful. Zen, our cabana steward, was on point, bringing champagne and chocolate strawberries and pretty much anything else that we needed. The cabana has a lounge bed, table and chairs and looks out at the ocean. It was lovely to read and look out at the ocean all day. There is a cabana curtain you can close for privacy. Generally, we left it open and some random man wandered in and said, “Do you have to pay extra for this?” We affirmed that we did. He said, “Boy, they nickel and dime you!” and decamped. Thanks, pal. Spa: I had an excellent massage at the spa and a very good manicure. I just dislike the way the spa therapists talk to you after the treatment as though they are doctors prescribing medication instead of people working on commission peddling toiletries. No one needs $100 bath salts. I just put a stop to that spiel and tip the equivalent of the commission. Fitness Center: We used the fitness center to work out. It was very clean and all the machines were in good repair. I was able to use the rowing machine whenever I wanted it. We didn’t sign up for any classes, but there was a good selection to choose from. Overall impression: We loved this ship and were very impressed with the entertainment at BB Kings. While HAL has a reputation for catering to much older guests, we felt that this cruise would appeal to the 35-55 crowd as well. They have really improved the entertainment options. We have already booked another trip on the Nieuw Amsterdam in 2020.

Loving the updated HAL

Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise Review by toodycat

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2019
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
We are a couple from New York and we needed to leave the February cold. We are in our mid-50s and sailed to the Western Caribbean. Our cruising style is all about relaxation. We enjoy the beach, the pool, the spa and live music.

The night before: We stayed at the Renaissance Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. This is a very pleasant and convenient hotel. It is close to several good restaurants and there is a Walgreen’s across the street, should you have forgotten anything. This was our second stay at the Renaissance, and I have already booked our third.

Arrival: We arrived at Port Everglades just before 2 pm, our entry to the port slightly delayed by the Uber driver ahead of us who did not have any identification or proof of citizenship with him and drew the attention of the police. Some trips are better made by local cab.

The terminal was crowded because the cruise was sold out, which is pretty typical for President’s week. Check in was extremely efficient and our stateroom was already available.

Stateroom: Our verandah stateroom, 7136, was a fantail room with a larger than average balcony and a stupendous view. The stateroom itself is roomier than verandah rooms on Princess, NCL or Celebrity. The furnishings are subdued and neutral and include a desk, table and sofa as well as a bed and two nightstands. Make up mirror and blow dryer were in a drawer in the desk. There is plenty of closet space, though not so much for drawers. Everything was in good condition. The bathroom has a bath/shower combination unlike HAL suites which have a shower and separate jetted tub. Our steward was very conscientious and the cabin was always spotless.

Getting adjusted: We had some confusion regarding activities because there was no “Where and When” newsletter in our room. I am not sure if there wasn’t such a newsletter on Sunday or if someone neglected to put in our stateroom or mailbox, but the absence of it caused some difficulties for us as we didn’t know what was going on or how to sign up for the Internet. Internet sign-up is explained on the television, (though the distinctions between packages could be made clearer), but the daily event schedule is not. Once we created Internet accounts, we were able to view the day’s activity schedule online. That evening, our steward left the next day’s “When and Where” in our cabin, which made planning easier.

Lido Buffet:

On arrival, we ate a late lunch at the Lido buffet. The chicken fajita I had was very tasty. However, none of the hot dishes were labeled, which would be helpful since it is difficult to tell one stew-looking dish from another. For the rest of the week, our cabana steward brought us lunch from the buffet. My favorite dishes were the Indian ones. Breakfasts were very good. I particularly enjoyed the new breakfast sandwich with spinach, avocado, tomato and egg white. Also, the chicken and waffles were delicious and a fun addition to the breakfast options.

Beverages: our cruise included a promotional beverage package that allowed each of us 15 drinks, priced at no more than $9.50 per drink, per day. This was an amazing value. We are not big drinkers, but we really appreciate the lattes, San Pellegrino and other drinks that were included along with my one glass of wine with dinner. I hope HAL keeps this promotion because it makes beverages one less thing to think about. I did try a new mixed drink as well. The pomegranate ginger drop is scrumptious.

Activities:

We had fun playing trivia in the Billboard lounge. It’s a friendly game and you are allowed to mark your own answers.

Main Dining Room

Dinners were pleasant. We both enjoyed the red snapper and the surf and turf. There was no mixed greens salad on the menu, but our waiter was able to procure one for me. For dessert, we especially liked the tangy key lime pie.I have a salmon allergy which I made our waiter aware of. One night, I ordered the tuna and he returned to let me know that because a pan had broken, the tuna was being seared in the pan used for salmon and would I like to change my order? Yes, I would and that was some excellent service! The chicken in panko we substituted was very good.

Pinnacle Grill: This was a little disappointing. Some of our meat was not cooked as we ordered it and when I ate my dessert souffle, I burned my mouth pretty badly because the server had not broken the top of the souffle to let the steam escape and pour the sauce in. (I think she was not very experienced.) When I mentioned this to her and asked for ice water for my mouth, which was blistering a little bit, she didn’t apologize and made a sarcastic joke. The restaurant manager apologized for her and offered a free lunch, but we didn’t want to leave the pool the next day to redeem it. The Pinnacle Grill is usually excellent, so I am considering this a minor blip.

Entertainment: There are new entertainment options such as Lincoln Center and Billboard. Initially, we were a little let down because the representative who booked our cruise had told us Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox would be performing on our ship and they were not. This would have been a disappointment if the best part of the cruise had not been the fantastic band at BB KIng’s. The BB King All Stars are incredibly energetic and skillful musicians who are clearly having a great time. We stayed for two to three sets every night and loved every minute. This group really elevates evening entertainment on HAL to a whole new level. The dance floor at the club was busy all week. Unfortunately, we learned that our cruise was this particular group’s last cruise. I felt privileged to see them and hope they return to the Nieuw Amsterdam.

Half Moon Cay: On Monday, we tendered to HMC, which our ship was sharing with the Zuiderdam. The tender transfer was quick and efficient. We had reserved a cabana as we have in the past and, after signing a waiver, took the transportation to the cabana. It has a table, chairs, refrigerator, air conditioner, fan, lounges and outdoor shower, and was prepped with everything we had requested—soft drinks, snacks, fruit plate, and snorkel gear. There were four floats as well. We spent the whole day alternating between swimming in the turquoise water and reading in the cabana. Although we’ve rented cabanas before, I’ve never encountered so many people so puzzled by them. I don’t mind folks asking how you reserve a cabana or how much it costs, but two people decided to “reserve” our cabana’s beach lounges by putting their clothing on them and one lady wanted to use our outdoor shower. Half Moon Cay is a gorgeous island and we had a beautiful day.

Other ports: We walked around Cozumel, but didn’t bother getting off the ship in Grand Cayman or Ocho Rios as we’ve been both places lots of other times. Also, my husband had a shoulder injury and couldn’t do any of the more active excursions that would generally appeal to us. Cozumel has some good shopping, but there’s a lot of touristy tchotkes too.

Onboard cabana: We rented the Monte Carlo, our Lido poolside cabana, for the length of the cruise. This was just wonderful. Zen, our cabana steward, was on point, bringing champagne and chocolate strawberries and pretty much anything else that we needed. The cabana has a lounge bed, table and chairs and looks out at the ocean. It was lovely to read and look out at the ocean all day. There is a cabana curtain you can close for privacy. Generally, we left it open and some random man wandered in and said, “Do you have to pay extra for this?” We affirmed that we did. He said, “Boy, they nickel and dime you!” and decamped. Thanks, pal.

Spa: I had an excellent massage at the spa and a very good manicure. I just dislike the way the spa therapists talk to you after the treatment as though they are doctors prescribing medication instead of people working on commission peddling toiletries. No one needs $100 bath salts. I just put a stop to that spiel and tip the equivalent of the commission.

Fitness Center: We used the fitness center to work out. It was very clean and all the machines were in good repair. I was able to use the rowing machine whenever I wanted it. We didn’t sign up for any classes, but there was a good selection to choose from.

Overall impression: We loved this ship and were very impressed with the entertainment at BB Kings. While HAL has a reputation for catering to much older guests, we felt that this cruise would appeal to the 35-55 crowd as well. They have really improved the entertainment options. We have already booked another trip on the Nieuw Amsterdam in 2020.
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
Cabin VB 7136
We loved our cabin. In the past, we’ve booked larger staterooms when we travel with our son, but this stateroom was perfect for two. The view from the balcony was incredible.
Rotterdam Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins