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Cruise review of Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise January 4-11, 2020 About us: 40 something mom and dad, teen son, toddler daughter. 11 cruises (8 on HAL). 3 cruise lines so far. The cruise: Already booked again on this same ship for a March 2020 Western itinerary we had such a good time and thought the crew were real troopers dealing with all the difficulties. The staff: They were all great, all of them, from cabin stewards to wait staff to wine stewards to bartenders. Our names were remembered, even our favorite drinks by the bar staff from when we sailed on this ship last year. There was only one exception, the one EXC guide that gave me bad info regarding Luggage Direct. The ship: Spotless inside and out. I have no idea what other guests reviewing this cruise are talking about but tables were bussed fast in the lido and the staff were super helpful when you needed dishes cleared. The ship itself has a very elegant interior and classic look. One of Holland America's strong suits is how they maintain their ships so very well. Good size ship, easy to get everywhere. This was a cruise effected by the azipod issue, one azipod was nonfunctional. More on that later. Just as one criticism, I do however miss the once adundant fresh flowers on the ship, especially the orchids in the lido. Cabins: 4166 and 4168. Standard verandah cabins with the slightly deeper balconies and both these cabins offer a double wide balcony. The divider on the balconies can be opened as well so we had a huge outside space. The inside of the cabins was very comfortable and spacious for verandah cabins, 4166 was a standard tub and shower combo while 4168 was shower only with a huge vanity and lots of bathroom storage space. Toddler had a ship provided pack n play in the cabin. Worked great and plenty of space. Unlimited laundry: $7 a day per cabin. One day service. Everything comes back spotless. I wish I could get this at home. Best money spent on the cruise as it makes packing easier. Internet: Got the middle grade package for 2 devices and it worked fine for everything we did which was check email, surf some websites. It was only slow on the last 2 days and not that big a deal. Photos: We got the unlimited package and got some great snaps. I wish we could just forgo the prints themselves and only buy the usb stick which is what we really use. But it is a good deal for as many great photos as we got. We went all over looking for the settings and backgrounds we wanted, I think there were 5 or 6 on Gala nights. It's a good idea to do that before you start getting in line. We liked some backdrops/settings better than others. The atrium one is really nice. Food: Always subjective but my husband and myself thought the food quality was the best of any cruise we have ever taken, and that would be 11 cruises now. We ate in the MDR, the Lido, did breakfast room service, NY Pizza, the Dive In 3 times, dinner at the Pinnacle Grill and 2 dinners at Tamarind. All were great. The fish dishes this cruise were especially good. Sole and halibut were excellent. The lobster tail with the Gala Night Surf and Turf was huge and perfectly cooked. Tamarind never disappoints. The steak, the stir fried lobster and the sea bass were all wonderful. Our Pinnacle Grill candied clothesline bacon, so good. PG steaks (10 oz filet and beef tenderloin) were perfection as well. Cooked exactly as we ordered. One criticism, the daily special Eggs Benedict from the Lido breakfast was no longer available. They simply had regular and Florentine everyday. That was sad. We enjoyed seeing what the special Eggs Benedict was each morning and some were especially tasty. We mentioned this change to a MDR chef who had come over from Nieuw Statendam last month and he was actually surprised by that change as it is a popular breakfast item. Also, the room service breakfast menu card is so limited, a la carte would waste less food as I don't really eat all the food they bring with the combinations they offer. Just an idea. Beverage: We both had the Elite Beverage pkg and used it liberally. Wine selection was good. They actually have a very nice whiskey cabinet in the Gallery Bar area which my husband discovered later in the cruise. Just ask the Gallery Bar bartender for the list of prices. One nice find this cruise was the pear cider. We had not tried that before and it was a really lovely cool drink. Another fun discovery for us was the Far East Legacy cocktail in the Tamarind Bar (of note, a gorgeous space on the ship). The beverage department folks are so good on HAL but they seem to need more of them in the main dining areas, the MDR and Lido. We were left going to the Lido or Sea View bars to grab our own drinks when we sat in the Lido area and not by a pool. The mixology classes are super fun. We never miss them. Entertainment: We did not get to many entertainment venues. We did hear some of the Lincoln Center Stage which was standing room only every performance we were there. Very tight, professional group. BB Kings was rocking. Caught several of their shows. Also an excellent group. Easy to sit through a couple performances sipping on a cocktail and grooving. We didn't go to any shows (not our thing) but our son enjoyed the comedian and ventriloquist very much even sitting in the lido with them after the show joking around. Really nice guys. Casino: smoke free. My husband enjoy playing slots and had several good hours there. He won $80 on a hot machine. Spa: As always, very enjoyable. Had my hair done twice for Gala nights and also had 2 massages. The hot stone massage was really wonderful. The actual cruise itinerary was changed on us as soon as we boarded as one of the ships two azipods was nonfunctional and due to be replaced the next month. We received $50 pp for the inconvenience of changing our St. Maarten stop to St. Croix and also the fact we would be getting to ports later and have less time in ports due to slower speeds. While disappointing, not a big deal for us. Grand Turk: What can you say? It's a beach day and it was super rainy there that day so half our bunch got off and went to the Beached Whale and Margarittaville and half stayed on the ship for a ship day. San Juan: We got there late but since they had just experienced severe earthquakes on the opposite side of the island all power was out in San Juan. My husband went ashore to the CVS for a few supplies and scoped out the situation. The places we wanted to go were without power so we just otherwise stayed on the ship. St. Croix: What a lovely island. Felt very unCarnivalized. I hope it stays that way. The store fronts facing the dock are lovely old buildings. The town seems friendly and the local hole in the wall eatery “Maggies Snackett” in Fredriksted served up some amazing goat stew and beans and rice. This is a place I would love to visit again and see more of the island. Half Moon Cay: 6 foot swells meant no tendering to the island. This was indeed disappointing as this peaceful beautiful unspoiled island is a jewel on any itinerary. We were already running 2 hours late due to bad weather and a medical evacuation at sea the previous day. The weather had been rocky a good part of this cruise but we made the best of it and enjoyed another ship day. Embarkation/debarkation: Outside of cruises where we had priority boarding, getting on and off the ship was the easiest ever. We checked in at 11 am and were on and in our cabin by 11:45. Enjoyed lunch in the MDR on embarkation days as well. We got off the ship, got our bags, and shot through customs in 15 mins. Airport transfer: fast and efficient. We had a 12:46 flight and we were at the airport by 10 am, checked in by 10:30 and through security by 10:45. We had lunch at Chili's on the other side of security. FLL airport: I said I would never fly out of this airport again as long as I live but we gave Jetblue a try and were thrilled. The terminal and staff were night and day better than Southwest, and I am a Southwest fan. Southwest needs to seriously up its game in FLL. I find SW employees in FLL to be the rudest most nasty anywhere we fly with them, which is very uncharacteristic, and the FLL SW terminal is very lacking in resources. Jetblue totally owned them in all categories and they will be our FLL go to airline from now on. This was our 8th HAL cruise and had the youngest cruisers we have seen. Lots of extended family groups, parents with teens, several 20-30 somethings. A fair amount of kids for a non-school holiday time. Boomers made up the bulk of the cruisers. Made for a different vibe but was nice. We heard some whining on this cruise. Truly, it did seem to be a comedy of errors cruise. If it could go wrong, it did. But complaining about stuff that simply can not be helped is pointless. The Captain said multiple times concerning specific issues that were being dealt with at the time NOT to congregate at guest services or the excursion desk as they could not help guests until the situation had been resolved. Bad weather, earthquakes, random mechanical failures, and a medical evacuation just happen. $50 pp compensation was pretty generous in my opinion. But then, if you are deadset on having a bad time and a whiner by nature, you will do just that (and probably hope they will gift you a free cruise). We are a very easy to please bunch so we had a great time despite all the craziness and will gleefully be back on this ship very soon.

Jan 4, 2020. Fun family cruise.

Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise Review by fatcat04

9 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2020
  • Destination: Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
Cruise review of Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise January 4-11, 2020

About us: 40 something mom and dad, teen son, toddler daughter. 11 cruises (8 on HAL). 3 cruise lines so far.

The cruise: Already booked again on this same ship for a March 2020 Western itinerary we had such a good time and thought the crew were real troopers dealing with all the difficulties.

The staff: They were all great, all of them, from cabin stewards to wait staff to wine stewards to bartenders. Our names were remembered, even our favorite drinks by the bar staff from when we sailed on this ship last year. There was only one exception, the one EXC guide that gave me bad info regarding Luggage Direct.

The ship: Spotless inside and out. I have no idea what other guests reviewing this cruise are talking about but tables were bussed fast in the lido and the staff were super helpful when you needed dishes cleared. The ship itself has a very elegant interior and classic look. One of Holland America's strong suits is how they maintain their ships so very well. Good size ship, easy to get everywhere. This was a cruise effected by the azipod issue, one azipod was nonfunctional. More on that later. Just as one criticism, I do however miss the once adundant fresh flowers on the ship, especially the orchids in the lido.

Cabins: 4166 and 4168. Standard verandah cabins with the slightly deeper balconies and both these cabins offer a double wide balcony. The divider on the balconies can be opened as well so we had a huge outside space. The inside of the cabins was very comfortable and spacious for verandah cabins, 4166 was a standard tub and shower combo while 4168 was shower only with a huge vanity and lots of bathroom storage space. Toddler had a ship provided pack n play in the cabin. Worked great and plenty of space.

Unlimited laundry: $7 a day per cabin. One day service. Everything comes back spotless. I wish I could get this at home. Best money spent on the cruise as it makes packing easier.

Internet: Got the middle grade package for 2 devices and it worked fine for everything we did which was check email, surf some websites. It was only slow on the last 2 days and not that big a deal.

Photos: We got the unlimited package and got some great snaps. I wish we could just forgo the prints themselves and only buy the usb stick which is what we really use. But it is a good deal for as many great photos as we got. We went all over looking for the settings and backgrounds we wanted, I think there were 5 or 6 on Gala nights. It's a good idea to do that before you start getting in line. We liked some backdrops/settings better than others. The atrium one is really nice.

Food: Always subjective but my husband and myself thought the food quality was the best of any cruise we have ever taken, and that would be 11 cruises now. We ate in the MDR, the Lido, did breakfast room service, NY Pizza, the Dive In 3 times, dinner at the Pinnacle Grill and 2 dinners at Tamarind. All were great. The fish dishes this cruise were especially good. Sole and halibut were excellent. The lobster tail with the Gala Night Surf and Turf was huge and perfectly cooked. Tamarind never disappoints. The steak, the stir fried lobster and the sea bass were all wonderful. Our Pinnacle Grill candied clothesline bacon, so good. PG steaks (10 oz filet and beef tenderloin) were perfection as well. Cooked exactly as we ordered. One criticism, the daily special Eggs Benedict from the Lido breakfast was no longer available. They simply had regular and Florentine everyday. That was sad. We enjoyed seeing what the special Eggs Benedict was each morning and some were especially tasty. We mentioned this change to a MDR chef who had come over from Nieuw Statendam last month and he was actually surprised by that change as it is a popular breakfast item. Also, the room service breakfast menu card is so limited, a la carte would waste less food as I don't really eat all the food they bring with the combinations they offer. Just an idea.

Beverage: We both had the Elite Beverage pkg and used it liberally. Wine selection was good. They actually have a very nice whiskey cabinet in the Gallery Bar area which my husband discovered later in the cruise. Just ask the Gallery Bar bartender for the list of prices. One nice find this cruise was the pear cider. We had not tried that before and it was a really lovely cool drink. Another fun discovery for us was the Far East Legacy cocktail in the Tamarind Bar (of note, a gorgeous space on the ship). The beverage department folks are so good on HAL but they seem to need more of them in the main dining areas, the MDR and Lido. We were left going to the Lido or Sea View bars to grab our own drinks when we sat in the Lido area and not by a pool. The mixology classes are super fun. We never miss them.

Entertainment: We did not get to many entertainment venues. We did hear some of the Lincoln Center Stage which was standing room only every performance we were there. Very tight, professional group. BB Kings was rocking. Caught several of their shows. Also an excellent group. Easy to sit through a couple performances sipping on a cocktail and grooving. We didn't go to any shows (not our thing) but our son enjoyed the comedian and ventriloquist very much even sitting in the lido with them after the show joking around. Really nice guys.

Casino: smoke free. My husband enjoy playing slots and had several good hours there. He won $80 on a hot machine.

Spa: As always, very enjoyable. Had my hair done twice for Gala nights and also had 2 massages. The hot stone massage was really wonderful.

The actual cruise itinerary was changed on us as soon as we boarded as one of the ships two azipods was nonfunctional and due to be replaced the next month. We received $50 pp for the inconvenience of changing our St. Maarten stop to St. Croix and also the fact we would be getting to ports later and have less time in ports due to slower speeds. While disappointing, not a big deal for us.

Grand Turk: What can you say? It's a beach day and it was super rainy there that day so half our bunch got off and went to the Beached Whale and Margarittaville and half stayed on the ship for a ship day.

San Juan: We got there late but since they had just experienced severe earthquakes on the opposite side of the island all power was out in San Juan. My husband went ashore to the CVS for a few supplies and scoped out the situation. The places we wanted to go were without power so we just otherwise stayed on the ship.

St. Croix: What a lovely island. Felt very unCarnivalized. I hope it stays that way. The store fronts facing the dock are lovely old buildings. The town seems friendly and the local hole in the wall eatery “Maggies Snackett” in Fredriksted served up some amazing goat stew and beans and rice. This is a place I would love to visit again and see more of the island.

Half Moon Cay: 6 foot swells meant no tendering to the island. This was indeed disappointing as this peaceful beautiful unspoiled island is a jewel on any itinerary. We were already running 2 hours late due to bad weather and a medical evacuation at sea the previous day. The weather had been rocky a good part of this cruise but we made the best of it and enjoyed another ship day.

Embarkation/debarkation: Outside of cruises where we had priority boarding, getting on and off the ship was the easiest ever. We checked in at 11 am and were on and in our cabin by 11:45. Enjoyed lunch in the MDR on embarkation days as well. We got off the ship, got our bags, and shot through customs in 15 mins.

Airport transfer: fast and efficient. We had a 12:46 flight and we were at the airport by 10 am, checked in by 10:30 and through security by 10:45. We had lunch at Chili's on the other side of security.

FLL airport: I said I would never fly out of this airport again as long as I live but we gave Jetblue a try and were thrilled. The terminal and staff were night and day better than Southwest, and I am a Southwest fan. Southwest needs to seriously up its game in FLL. I find SW employees in FLL to be the rudest most nasty anywhere we fly with them, which is very uncharacteristic, and the FLL SW terminal is very lacking in resources. Jetblue totally owned them in all categories and they will be our FLL go to airline from now on.

This was our 8th HAL cruise and had the youngest cruisers we have seen. Lots of extended family groups, parents with teens, several 20-30 somethings. A fair amount of kids for a non-school holiday time. Boomers made up the bulk of the cruisers. Made for a different vibe but was nice.

We heard some whining on this cruise. Truly, it did seem to be a comedy of errors cruise. If it could go wrong, it did. But complaining about stuff that simply can not be helped is pointless. The Captain said multiple times concerning specific issues that were being dealt with at the time NOT to congregate at guest services or the excursion desk as they could not help guests until the situation had been resolved. Bad weather, earthquakes, random mechanical failures, and a medical evacuation just happen. $50 pp compensation was pretty generous in my opinion. But then, if you are deadset on having a bad time and a whiner by nature, you will do just that (and probably hope they will gift you a free cruise). We are a very easy to please bunch so we had a great time despite all the craziness and will gleefully be back on this ship very soon.
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