This was our first HAL cruise and our 7th overall. DW and I had wanted to try HAL for a few years and this was a great deal on the last minute sale. We booked a verandah guarantee about 3 weeks out, and about a week before sailing, were offered an upsell to a Signature Suite for just a few dollars more. We snapped that up and looked forward to getting on the Nieuw Amsterdam.
We had flown into Fort Lauderdale the day before, so were able to take an early shuttle to Port Everglades and be in line early. The terminal was opened up around 10:30 and we were checked in a few minutes later. We had to wait until 11:30 before boarding so used that time to visit with others in the waiting area.
ON THE SHIP
Nieuw Amsterdam was clean and elegant without the flash of some ships on other lines we had sailed. We were told our cabin was ready, but we wanted to make our Pinnacle Grill booking first. That was done with ease at the podium on Deck 1.
We got up to Deck 5 and our Signature Suite, SS 5091. It was well appointed with plenty of room for the two of us. The bathroom had dual sinks as well as a jetted tub with shower and a separate shower stall. DW appreciated the bathroom size and comforts! Bed was very comfortable. The balcony for SS cabins on Deck 5 is not as deep as others due to the lifeboats immediately below, but with some organization we could arrange the chairs and stools to be able to stretch out. There was also a table of reasonable size. Met Darma and Tri, our stewards for the week and they kept the cabin spotless throughout.
We were on As You Wish dining, which was new for us and I think we both still prefer the set seating, however we can see the benefits of being able to go anytime. Food is subjective so others may have different views, but we found the meals in the MDR very good, and for the most part, service was attentive. We ate in the MDR every night except for the Pinnacle Grill. The Pinnacle Grill did not disappoint. Excellent steaks, and the sides were pretty amazing. We did order the Clothesline Candy Bacon and it was very tasty. We also had these tater tot like things as a side with a blue cheese aioli dip. THAT was delicious and when I mentioned this to the chef who came out to see how the meal was, he asked if I wanted the recipe. He had that delivered to the cabin the following day! Will definitely book in Pinnacle again our next cruise. Food at the Lido was decent overall, we generally ate breakfast there and the egg dishes were always hot and tasty. We also ate lunch at Dive-In on a couple of occasions. Those were some of the best burgers and fries we’ve ever had!.
As has been discussed on the Holland America boards, this was an area we felt could use improvement. The comedians were alright. The dancers good but certainly could have used live singers to make the performance more enjoyable. BB Kings was the best entertainment on the ship without question! Very talented performers and we would listen to them for hours. Billboard Onboard was a letdown. Like food, music is subjective. We sat down to listen to the piano players do a county set and DW, who is a country fan, wanted to leave after 2 songs. They pretty much butchered those and we just didn’t enjoy any of their other music, so never went back.
We stopped in Key West and just wondered around on our own. We were supposed to make a stop in Grand Turk, but after a couple of tries at docking, the Captain came on and said it was well above the wind threshold for the ship, so sadly we had to just wave at the island. Port fees were refunded and the bars were opened up to free beer and wine for an hour that afternoon. Our next port was Amber Cove and we booked the Monkeyland excursion through the ship. We both enjoyed the little squirrel monkey’s more than we thought we would. Half Moon Cay was outstanding as our final stop. Silky smooth sand, and lots of room as we were the only ship there.
Sometime between Half Moon Cay and getting close to Port Everglades, Nieuw Amsterdam apparently developed steering issues with one of the azipods. I say apparently because there were no announcements on-board saying there was an issue. A lot of us figured out something was wrong when they used tugs to get us turned around and docked. The only announcements we heard were “we are delayed and expect to be docked soon”. It was later on, reading cruise critic boards we learned of the reason. We docked about an hour after scheduled time and it was about 30 minutes after that before the first passengers were allowed off the ship, us included in that group. While we made our 10:50 flight with plenty of time to spare, there were a lot of upset and angry passengers waiting in the line. I’m betting if there had been better communication from the bridge and cruise/travel director, it may have calmed some of the people a little bit.
Despite the issue with disembarkation, we both thoroughly enjoyed our first Holland America Cruise. We purchased 2 Future Cruise Deposits on-board so we will be sailing with them again. Yes, the entertainment could use a big overhaul and perhaps add a singer or two in a couple of the lounges to help out. Neither of us has to be entertained 24/7, we just would have preferred a couple more options. Our cruise “needs” of clean ship, friendly and attentive staff, and good food were met.
It was well appointed with plenty of room for the two of us. The bathroom had dual sinks as well as a jetted tub with shower and a separate shower stall. DW appreciated the bathroom size and comforts! Two people can easily get ready at the same time. Pleanty of storage with 3 closets, multiple drawers and under bed storage. Bed was very comfortable. The balcony for SS cabins on Deck 5 is not as deep as others due to the lifeboats immediately below, but with some organization we could arrange the chairs and stools to be able to stretch out. There was also a table of reasonable size.
Monkeyland excursion done through HAL. Thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the squirrel monkeys.
Unfortunately, this port was cancelled due to high winds
No excursions, just wondered around the shops
Probably the best private island we've been to. Soft, silky sand, and lots of room as we were the only ship there.