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We have just completed the Nieuw Amsterdam's maiden transatlantic voyage from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale. We are veteran cruisers with about two dozen sailings behind us, about a third of them transatlantic. The boarding process in Barcelona was perhaps the smoothest we've ever encountered and our first impression of the ship was equally favorable. However, as we tried to fall asleep in our cabin on the first night, we kept hearing loud thumping sounds every few seconds, as if a solid steel telephone pole rammed into our cabin and made the walls resonate and vibrate. Even the ice bucket shook with each impact. We called Guest Relations (GR), and a staff member appeared at our cabin a little after midnight and confirmed that the noise we were hearing was from the metal structures outside our cabin. He offered no help other than to explain that the noise is prevalent on decks 5 through 8. We got dressed and went to the GR desk where we complained that the noise was so thunderous that even music from an I-Pod at maximum volume through noise cancelling headphones could not mask it (we were desperate for sleep at this point). The GR people smiled and offered us...ear plugs. How nice of them! The noise finally subsided after 3 AM. The next morning we met with a GR supervisor who insisted that such noises are normal on a ship because a ship's structure must be able to bend back and forth. We protested that we had never heard any such noise on more than twenty ships we have sailed on before, but she remained adamant and largely unsympathetic to our plight. She added that the noise travels throughout the ship and one never knows where it will strike next. She also advised us that there were no other available cabins on the entire ship. We appealed in writing to the captain for some relief from the prospect of spending three weeks with intolerably loud banging in the cabin. He wrote back immediately and made arrangements to move us to another cabin on deck 4 midship which turned out to be wonderfully quiet. We expressed our deep gratitude to Captain Mercer, a charismatic and utterly gracious Brit who was a consummate professional throughout the cruise. We did hear the noise in other parts of the ship from time to time, but not in our new cabin. Once "Thumper" (as my wife nicknamed the Big Noise) no longer kept us awake, we were able to enjoy the beautiful new ship. Other than colors and motif, it is virtually identical to the Eurodam (on which we sailed in 2008). The food was generally excellent, though desserts are probably the weak point of the Nieuw Amsterdam's culinary team---not necessarily a bad thing when calories from all the other superb dishes pile up on waistlines faster than you can see them coming! Our visit one night to the Pinnacle Grill for dinner was an extraordinary treat--the best premium onboard restaurant in our judgment. The beef surpassed any we had ever had at such steakhouses as Morton's or Ruth's Chris steakhouses. The ship boasts a culinary center where chefs from the various dining venues and the ever charming and talented "party planner" Ashley present lots of demonstrations. Pinnacle Grill chef Brendan Whitaker was a particularly talented presenter. He also possesses an exceptional sense of humor that makes his culinary demonstrations a double treat. Also on board, there are numerous FREE "Digital Workshop" classes every day that are both informative and useful. The ship's gorgeous theatre presented shows on most evenings and films on other nights. The resident male singers in the shows had surprisingly good voices. The shows themselves were just song and dance routines with minimalist sets (except for the last show) that lacked the cohesion of a story line that usually binds the music together. The itinerant entertainers were generally good, some excellent, others mediocre. We had heard that Internet reception is an exercise in frustration on the ship, but even our diminished expectations were disappointed. On our previous cruise, 28 days on the Star Princess, we had learned the idiosyncrasies on Internet signals on a ship. On the Nieuw Amsterdam, the pace of transmission would frustrate a snail. On many occasions, the signal would just die as we began the session and we lost dozens of minutes (at a cost of 40 to 75 cents each) to such erratic failures. The obvious problem appears to be inadequate bandwidth since the signal becomes considerably faster during the night when virtually nobody is using the system (a good thing to know in case Thumper should keep you awake at 2 AM). On a positive note, HAL makes the NY Times available on line at no charge--which was great on our cruise especially when we were out of satellite range for any news programs for several days. The second half of the voyage was marred by an outbreak of gastrointestinal disease which necessitated a "code red" set of measures. We were all the more puzzled that moderate sanitary measures (code orange) had been in place for the first three days of our cruise, but were relaxed on the fourth day. One must wonder whether keeping code orange would have prevented the need to impose code red measures. Towards the end of the cruise, HAL's Mariners Society members were invited to a brunch. Even though we are members (as are all previous HAL guests), we were not invited. We inquired and we soon received an invitation for a reception and lunch the following day. When we arrived, the Mariners Society staff member advised us that the invitation had been sent in error and we could not attend. Thus HAL managed to offend us not once but twice, first by failing to invite us altogether and then inviting us to another reception but barring us at the door in front of other passengers. After a few minutes, we were finally admitted. We were not the only ones HAL slighted. At the reception, passengers were recognized for their status with HAL, but about a dozen of their most loyal past cruisers had to raise their hands at the end and ask why they were not called up before the cruise director finally acknowledged them along with the others. Things degenerated further. Following the recognition snafu, we were ushered to the downstairs dining room which was packed with hundreds of Mariner Society members who had been all invited for the same lunch, though there was an insufficient number of tables set up and servers assigned to work the event. We heard various explanations that confirmed that the dining room staff had been advised to expect about 400 HAL veterans but more than twice as many were somehow invited. The waiters worked with incredible diligence setting up extra tables and dealing with the huge crowd, but were unable to cope with the inexplicably bad organization of the luncheon. Guest Relations (aka the Front Office) which ran the disastrous Mariners Society reception surely could use some training and supervision in several areas. Measured against the impressive performance of other staff on the ship, the Front Office people proved to be remarkably inept on several occasions. We had to call a billing error to their attention repeatedly ("Oh, yes. We will look into the problem" seems to be their pat response) before it was corrected. Passengers were also promised account statements by 5:30 AM on the day of disembarkation in Florida. We had to leave the ship at 7 AM without having received one(and we didn't see a single statement outside any cabin between 6 am and 7 am). The unfailingly polite Front Office staff must urgently get its act together. While we certainly have less favorable an opinion of HAL at the end of the cruise than we had at the beginning, we can still recommend the Nieuw Amsterdam, especially if Captain Mercer is in command. If you choose to sail on the Nieuw Amsterdam, we would encourage you to book cabins on the lower decks midship since upper-floor cabins are prone to Thumper's visit--unless you don't mind playing Russian roulette with your sleep!

Nieuw Amsterdam - Transatlantic

Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise Review by CruiserMan48

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: October 2010
  • Destination: Transatlantic
  • Cabin Type: Interior Stateroom
We have just completed the Nieuw Amsterdam's maiden transatlantic voyage from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale. We are veteran cruisers with about two dozen sailings behind us, about a third of them transatlantic. The boarding process in Barcelona was perhaps the smoothest we've ever encountered and our first impression of the ship was equally favorable.



However, as we tried to fall asleep in our cabin on the first night, we kept hearing loud thumping sounds every few seconds, as if a solid steel telephone pole rammed into our cabin and made the walls resonate and vibrate. Even the ice bucket shook with each impact. We called Guest Relations (GR), and a staff member appeared at our cabin a little after midnight and confirmed that the noise we were hearing was from the metal structures outside our cabin. He offered no help other than to explain that the noise is prevalent on decks 5 through 8. We got dressed and went to the GR desk where we complained that the noise was so thunderous that even music from an I-Pod at maximum volume through noise cancelling headphones could not mask it (we were desperate for sleep at this point). The GR people smiled and offered us...ear plugs. How nice of them! The noise finally subsided after 3 AM. The next morning we met with a GR supervisor who insisted that such noises are normal on a ship because a ship's structure must be able to bend back and forth. We protested that we had never heard any such noise on more than twenty ships we have sailed on before, but she remained adamant and largely unsympathetic to our plight. She added that the noise travels throughout the ship and one never knows where it will strike next. She also advised us that there were no other available cabins on the entire ship. We appealed in writing to the captain for some relief from the prospect of spending three weeks with intolerably loud banging in the cabin. He wrote back immediately and made arrangements to move us to another cabin on deck 4 midship which turned out to be wonderfully quiet. We expressed our deep gratitude to Captain Mercer, a charismatic and utterly gracious Brit who was a consummate professional throughout the cruise. We did hear the noise in other parts of the ship from time to time, but not in our new cabin.



Once "Thumper" (as my wife nicknamed the Big Noise) no longer kept us awake, we were able to enjoy the beautiful new ship. Other than colors and motif, it is virtually identical to the Eurodam (on which we sailed in 2008). The food was generally excellent, though desserts are probably the weak point of the Nieuw Amsterdam's culinary team---not necessarily a bad thing when calories from all the other superb dishes pile up on waistlines faster than you can see them coming! Our visit one night to the Pinnacle Grill for dinner was an extraordinary treat--the best premium onboard restaurant in our judgment. The beef surpassed any we had ever had at such steakhouses as Morton's or Ruth's Chris steakhouses. The ship boasts a culinary center where chefs from the various dining venues and the ever charming and talented "party planner" Ashley present lots of demonstrations. Pinnacle Grill chef Brendan Whitaker was a particularly talented presenter. He also possesses an exceptional sense of humor that makes his culinary demonstrations a double treat. Also on board, there are numerous FREE "Digital Workshop" classes every day that are both informative and useful. The ship's gorgeous theatre presented shows on most evenings and films on other nights. The resident male singers in the shows had surprisingly good voices. The shows themselves were just song and dance routines with minimalist sets (except for the last show) that lacked the cohesion of a story line that usually binds the music together. The itinerant entertainers were generally good, some excellent, others mediocre.



We had heard that Internet reception is an exercise in frustration on the ship, but even our diminished expectations were disappointed. On our previous cruise, 28 days on the Star Princess, we had learned the idiosyncrasies on Internet signals on a ship. On the Nieuw Amsterdam, the pace of transmission would frustrate a snail. On many occasions, the signal would just die as we began the session and we lost dozens of minutes (at a cost of 40 to 75 cents each) to such erratic failures. The obvious problem appears to be inadequate bandwidth since the signal becomes considerably faster during the night when virtually nobody is using the system (a good thing to know in case Thumper should keep you awake at 2 AM). On a positive note, HAL makes the NY Times available on line at no charge--which was great on our cruise especially when we were out of satellite range for any news programs for several days.



The second half of the voyage was marred by an outbreak of gastrointestinal disease which necessitated a "code red" set of measures. We were all the more puzzled that moderate sanitary measures (code orange) had been in place for the first three days of our cruise, but were relaxed on the fourth day. One must wonder whether keeping code orange would have prevented the need to impose code red measures.



Towards the end of the cruise, HAL's Mariners Society members were invited to a brunch. Even though we are members (as are all previous HAL guests), we were not invited. We inquired and we soon received an invitation for a reception and lunch the following day. When we arrived, the Mariners Society staff member advised us that the invitation had been sent in error and we could not attend. Thus HAL managed to offend us not once but twice, first by failing to invite us altogether and then inviting us to another reception but barring us at the door in front of other passengers. After a few minutes, we were finally admitted. We were not the only ones HAL slighted. At the reception, passengers were recognized for their status with HAL, but about a dozen of their most loyal past cruisers had to raise their hands at the end and ask why they were not called up before the cruise director finally acknowledged them along with the others. Things degenerated further. Following the recognition snafu, we were ushered to the downstairs dining room which was packed with hundreds of Mariner Society members who had been all invited for the same lunch, though there was an insufficient number of tables set up and servers assigned to work the event. We heard various explanations that confirmed that the dining room staff had been advised to expect about 400 HAL veterans but more than twice as many were somehow invited. The waiters worked with incredible diligence setting up extra tables and dealing with the huge crowd, but were unable to cope with the inexplicably bad organization of the luncheon.



Guest Relations (aka the Front Office) which ran the disastrous Mariners Society reception surely could use some training and supervision in several areas. Measured against the impressive performance of other staff on the ship, the Front Office people proved to be remarkably inept on several occasions. We had to call a billing error to their attention repeatedly ("Oh, yes. We will look into the problem" seems to be their pat response) before it was corrected. Passengers were also promised account statements by 5:30 AM on the day of disembarkation in Florida. We had to leave the ship at 7 AM without having received one(and we didn't see a single statement outside any cabin between 6 am and 7 am). The unfailingly polite Front Office staff must urgently get its act together.



While we certainly have less favorable an opinion of HAL at the end of the cruise than we had at the beginning, we can still recommend the Nieuw Amsterdam, especially if Captain Mercer is in command. If you choose to sail on the Nieuw Amsterdam, we would encourage you to book cabins on the lower decks midship since upper-floor cabins are prone to Thumper's visit--unless you don't mind playing Russian roulette with your sleep!
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