Launched in 2018 but dry docked during the Pandemic, the Nieuw Statendam boasts beautiful lines and well designed public spaces. I was told that this 10-night holiday cruise was the most full the ship has been since 2020, and the ship was understaffed. Neverthless, the crew did a great job trying to satisfy demanding passengers. Service was slow in the main dining room, and at times one had to wait for a cocktail in the lounges and theaters.
I booked this cruise a few weeks before the date of embarkation because I had vacation time to use up, and I did not want to fly during the holidays. I live in Fort Lauderdale, where the cruise started. This turned out to be a good decision given the Christmas storm and its effect on the airlines. As this was my 14th cruise, I have experienced many changes in cruise travel, especially on the larger ships, over the past 25 years. But the marketing on this cruise, eveything from tanzantie to botox, was beyond belief.
The food and service in the dining room used to be exceptional, but this is not the case anymore. Portions were smaller than before, and for the first time in my experience, there were surcharges for certain dishes such as steak and lobster, which are no longer included in your pre-paid cruise fare. The only specialty restaurants I dined in were Tamarind, which is pan-Asian and quite good, and the sushi bar, where my dinner was prepared right in front of me. Both are located on Deck 10. All of the other specialty restaurants share the same kitchen as the main diningroom, and from what I heard they were not worth the surcharges. Encouraging passengers to pay extra for a "special" dining experience is an example of the increased marketing while on board (and even before you travel on Holland's website and persistent emails) that started about 20 years ago, and is standard on most cruise ships. I only had breakfast in the diningroom the last day of the cruise, and enjoyed breakfast on my balcony the fist 9 days. The breakfast arrived late a few times, and the fruit plate was a pathetic serving of thin slices of watermellon, a sliced grape, and inedible strawberris. I was unaware hat they had other types of berries until another passenger ordered them off menu at lunch. Then I learned I had to write berries on the breakfast card. Some of the best dishes I had were served during lunch in the Dutch Cafe, which is included.
The cabin was clean, and my cabin steward was friendly.