Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise Review by ksilver
- Sail Date: September 2010
- Destination: Western Mediterranean
- Cabin Type: Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
We are a 40ish married couple who traveled with my mother and aunt, on our first trip to Europe. We chose this cruise mainly for the itinerary. My husband and I have traveled extensively through the US and Caribbean.
Flew Delta JFK to Barcelona on 9/10, spent one night at the Hesperia Ramblas hotel. Highly recommend it, one block off the main street, paid 125E (booked on their website a few months before) for a very nice room. We were able to check in at 2pm, so after trip from the airport (landed at 8am, we were able to get all 4 of us and luggage into the cab), we did the hop-on-hop-off bus tour for about 5 hours. Returned to the hotel, checked in and napped until 7ish, then had a great dinner and turned in around 11pm. We did not sleep well on the plane, but after this routine and sleeping almost 11 hrs the first night, we were well adjusted and had no problems going forward.
Next morning my husband and I did a 4 mile run prior to checking out and heading to the ship. It was tough to get a cab at 12 noon, so our recommendation is if you have time, the hotel was offering a late checkout for 20E or let them hold your luggage and wait till around 2pm to head to the port. It is only a 4 mile ride, which took close to 45 minutes, because of gridlock. We also had to send my mom and aunt in a separate cab, so we paid twice as much (I believe it was close to 35E with tip). Wait a couple hours and save yourself time, money and aggravation. The entire city was trying to get to the port at the same time.
Check in was a breeze, we were on the ship, in our cabin in less than a Â½ hour. Cabin 4185, off the stern one in from the corner. Beautiful cabin, nice balcony although not bigger than others that we have had on other ships.
- Being brand new the ship is beautiful and kept in great shape. We were happy with the smaller size, since we have been on Royal, Princess etc., that are carrying 3,000 and more passengers. - Food was excellent; we did anytime dining and never had to wait for a table. Lido buffet was just as good and served the same dishes as the main dining room. Our only issue with the Lido were the hours weren't long enough. Breakfast ends at 10:30am and dinner goes only from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. We are late risers when possible and the Lido definitely needs to be open at least until 9pm for dinner. Main dining goes until 9:30pm but some nights we just didn't feel like the whole production of dinner. Also, we saw jeans in the main dining room frequently as well as on the formal evenings, men with no jackets and ties. So, don't fret so much over what to bring to wear. No one was being turned away. Didn't see shorts, but especially towards the end of the cruise, people with jeans and even flip flops on casual nights. Pinnacle Grill was fabulous; we had a free dinner there from our travel agent. Would have been worth the $25 charge if we didn't. - Entertainment was good, we aren't big on the production shows, but mom and aunt loved them. Guitarist Matt Murphy in the Crow's Nest was a highlight each night, we enjoyed him very much. The entertainment is definitely geared to the older traveler, but we picked this cruise for the itinerary foremost, so we were ok with it. After the 10:15pm show there is not much going on. - Internet is horrendous which is not news to you if you've been reading other reviews. $55 for 100 minutes, Â½ of which we spent waiting to log in or log off. Do yourself a favor and wait to go to an internet cafe off the ship. - Casino is very nice, it's small but we never waited for a seat at a table. Dealers were all very nice and it was enjoyable to go there after dinner each night.
Ports: Barcelona: We overnighted here before the cruise started and then spent one night on the ship here as well. Loved the city, very easy to get around walking or on the buses. People very friendly, we went through the Olympic park, rode the cable car and walked into the stadium from the Olympics. A lot of hill walking which was good for walking off the tapas and sangria dinner! Monte Carlo: We did a DIY here. We arrived in port at 10am, but they only allowed DIY people on the tenders for the first hour. After that time they switched to tours, which unfortunately pushed our get off time to 1:30pm. We were not happy that it was a 3 hr delay for us to get off. Luckily it was a long day in port until 10pm. I suggest at the first mention of tender tickets you get down there and get them if you are getting off on your own. Also, I found 2 tender tickets in my bag, marked group 8, so if you email me I will mail them to you! (see my info at the end). They made it through about 1-18 on the tender tickets, then switched to groups. Also, if you are doing a walking tour on your own, start at the Palace side of town and end on the casino side. We started at the casino, but would have preferred to see it in the dark all lit up. By the time we walked across town and did the palace etc, we didn't have time to go back. Side note on the casino: prior to 6pm, people were going in with shorts/sneakers etc, you did not need to be dressed. My husband and I had researched it prior as well as the ship's info was that men needed long pants and shoes and women needed to be smart casual prior to 6pm. That's not the case. All the tours went there and people were in shorts/sneakers/tshirts. After 6pm, I'm not sure of the dress code changes, but we were slightly annoyed that I was in a sundress and my husband in long pants on a hot day. 10E gets you into the casino. There were a couple of roulette tables open (Min 10E) and 1 Blackjack table open (Min 25E). My guess is the majority of the tables and rooms do not open until the evening hours. There were several slot machines open. Livorno, Italy: (Pisa/Florence): Having never been to Pisa, we decided to go only here, not on to Florence. DIY again, ships' shuttle to the main square then walk one block up to the main road, cross over and wait for the #1 bus heading to the train station. Took the train one stop to Pisa (approx. 20 minutes). I had purchased tickets to climb the Pisa tower prior to the trip (at least 45 days out, but not any closer than 15 days). We climbed to the top (highly recommend) and then had a pizza lunch at a little cafe on the side street. Four of us cost 58E for lunch. Took the train back, but when arrived at the station, found that the bus was no longer running and there were no taxis anywhere. We had 1 ' hours to spare and our group of 4 grew to about 10 as we saw others from the ship in the same predicament. We still don't know why the transportation was not there, but we hoofed it back to the shuttle site (about 2-2.25 miles) in about Â½ an hour. Just made for a little bit of aggravation after a wonderful day in Pisa. Rome, Italy: Arranged for a private tour for the 4 of us prior to the trip with Rome In Limo. Was cheaper than the ship's excursion and we didn't wait for 50 people to get on and off the buses. We saw the Coliseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon and Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica. It was a whirlwind but we saw all the highlights. 500E for the car/driver for the day for the 4 of us, picked us up at 8pm we were back at the ship at 5:45pm. I also had bought tickets for the Vatican prior to the trip. This saved us again from having to stand in line. Messina,Italy: We made this a rest day, after a 6 mile run along the waterfront. We were tired from Rome the day before and it was a sunny, warm day, so we lounged by the pool while everyone else was out! Nafplion, Greece: Small town, very easy to walk around yourself. We followed the promenade around to the right about Â½ hr easy walk which lead us to the beach. This is not a sand beach, it's rocky and also has the ladders right into the water. It was again sunny and hot and the water was chilly but crystal clear. It was Sunday so a lot of locals relaxing as well. After an hour here, we walked back through town. There is a fort at the top of the hill, about 1,000 steps up. My mom and I walked up about Â½ way, beautiful views. There's a 4E charge at the top, make sure you have money to get in. Back by the ship's tenders there is a little train that takes you on a 20 minute tour for 5E I think it was. Nice way to see the town. Unless you are looking to go outside of the town, you can DIY. Katakalon, Greece : This is the only stop we did the ship's tour to Olympia. We had a good tour guide, but the Olympic site really does not have a lot of ruins in any type of formation. At least in Rome there was structure, here there was a lot of imagination needed! Needless to say it was a beautiful day again and I can say that we have been here. Corfu, Greece: DIY beach day. We rented a car at the terminal at 60E for the day. Drove to Glyfada beach across the island. Rental guy says 20 minute drive, but prior research told me otherwise. It's 45 minutes. Also a lot of people are saying you don't need a map, etc. Yes it's easy driving, but luckily we had my husband's blackberry GPS for the ride back. We did get lost and the map was of no help. Also found that a lot of people didn't speak English, so harder to communicate. Make sure you leave enough time for making a wrong turn and pad the time that the rental guy gives you. Otherwise, nice few hours resting at the beach, rented chairs and umbrellas for 7E each and there were nice tavernas with food and drink right there. Dubrovnik, Croatia: DIY, walked the 2 miles (uphill the whole way) from the ship to the Old City. It's a nice walk did take about 35 minutes. Did the city wall walk all the way around (1mile total), beautiful views, good workout! 10E for entrance fees, no problem using euros. Milled around the Old town, had gelato (also took euros) so we never needed to get kunas. One of my favorite ports, not enough time there. Took the ships shuttle back, picked it up right in the little circle at the Pile gate. They were charging $7.50 each way, but since we walked over, no one ever asked for a ticket back and we got a free ride ? Venice, Italy: 15 minute walk from the ship to the People Mover (1E for the 3 minute ride to LaPiazzle Roma) DIY, walked via the Rialto Bridge to St. Mark's Square. Had lunch sitting on the Grand Canal, 60E for the 4 of us. Went up in the Campanile (10E to go up, it closes at 7pm, so make sure you are on line in plenty of time. We waited approx 25 minutes to board the elevator. Then walked along the waterfront, did the gondola ride (100E for the 4 of us, I probably could have negotiated it a little bit, but considering HA was getting $99/pp for the ship's excursion, it was fine!) Please don't buy the gondola through the ship. There are tons of them and you can get a ride anywhere. The excursion prices are crazy compared to doing some things yourself. We overnighted here and had a 12:05pm flight out of Venice on Friday morning to JFK in NYC. We got off the ship at 7:30am, grabbed a taxi that was sitting right there, (45E and 25 minute ride to the airport). Delta counter did not open until 9am, so we were 3rd on line. I highly suggest this as by 8:30am, there were 150 people in line. Check in was extremely slow and there was only 1 security line open. By 10am we were on the other side which was very nice and there were plenty of shops and a 2nd floor cafe to grab something to eat. Flight was out on time.
Random thoughts: - Transportation was much more expensive than we knew AND we are big walkers! My husband and I are runners and we had no problem walking 5-8 miles a day. Most ports required a shuttle from the ship and they charged you for it, 5E was normal and in Croatia it was $7.50 each way. Taxi fares were very expensive as well. Both to Barcelona and then to Venice airport were about 45E for the taxi, luckily we could get all 4 of us in there. Plan this into your expenses. - I also have 2 coupon books; only ones we used were the match play at the casino. I would be happy to mail these to you as well. - We had very high expectations regarding service and while it was very good, we found it on par with Royal or Princess on other trips we have been on. There were no problems, but I didn't find it to be exceptional. - I did a lot of research prior to the trip and made sure we had a plan for each port. We normally take relaxing vacations and I knew this would be one that was non-stop sightseeing and I didn't want to get caught short somewhere. It was a wonderful trip that opened up a new part of the world for us! You can email me at email@example.com and I will be happy to answer anything else you want to know!!
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