Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise Review by jblazzze
- Sail Date: May 2011
- Destination: Eastern Mediterranean
- Cabin Type: Large Ocean-View Stateroom
Holland America does seem like a good company to cruise with. We did not have any major complaints with either the ship or the cruise line. All the staff was very courteous, but not overly friendly. The ship was new which probably contributed to the positive experience.
The food on the ship was just "OK". We had much better food on our own on shore. I found the food to be generally bland, unimaginative and under-seasoned. Having said that, all the food is perfectly edible, but don't take this cruise if you are interested in rapturous gastronomic experience - you will not find it, even in the specialty restaurants. The traditional dining seatings are at 5:45 and 8:30. We found the earlier seating to be much too early and it would conflict with a late return on a shore excursion. The late seating was much too late for our taste. Most days we went to the Lido buffet or we went to open seating in the dining room. We did go to Canalis - the Italian specialty restaurant - one evening. Again, the food was average and the service was good, but not exceptional. I did find it quite odd that the cruise originated in Italy and sailed through Greece, but most of the wine was over-priced California or Washington wines. I had hoped for a local wine list.
The cabin that we booked was an ocean view stateroom. It was spacious and the bathroom came complete with a bathtub! It was very roomy for two people. The drawback was that there was quite a bit of engine / thruster noise. This did bother us the first night, but we generally regarded it as "white noise" on subsequent evenings. If you are a light sleeper, you would want to book a cabin on a higher deck.
On our first day, we signed up for an internet package. Although they claim that internet is accessible throughout the ship, the signal is extremely weak in the staterooms and you really need to go to public areas. Even with a strong signal, the satellite connection is painfully slow. It will take at least three if not five times as long to accomplish the same tasks. Holland America should consider contracting with local ISPs while in port to use their services instead of the satellite; it may be less frustrating.
We have no complaints regarding the entertainment or the shipboard activities. We did not participate in may on-board activities, but we did always have positive experiences when we did.
All things considered, I will take a Holland America cruise again for the right price. It definitely was not a high-end line, but a solid middle-range line.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
VeniceWe arrived in Venice by train. If you have any mobility issues or have not consulted maps and aligned them with your internal GPS, do not arrive on your own. Make sure someone meets you. We arrived at the train station, which is so poorly signed, we had difficulty finding the exit. We then needed to walk to a people mover in the Piazza Roma. There are no signs to guide you from the train station to the Piazza. If I had not consulted a map before, we would have been lost. You do need to cross the Grand Canal by bridge when walking. There are stairs on the bridge. If you packed heavy or have bulky suitcases, this will be an issue. Once you get to the Piazza, there is only one small sign on the corner of a building to guide you to the train. We were lucky and caught the sign before we headed too far in the wrong direction. Once on the people mover (make sure you have Euro!), it is unclear which stop to use - there are two and they both stop at the port. Get off at the first one - even if you think your ship is at the second stop. Once we got off the people mover, we headed to what looked like the main terminal building - there are some signs for a few cruise lines, but not Holland America. A van driver took pity on us as we were getting ready to head in the wrong direction again and directed us to the correct terminal building.View All 1,422 Venice Cruise Port Reviews
After walking through what looked like a warehouse district, we found a small cardboard sign directing us to the check-in area. We were the only ones in the hall since we arrived well after the main rush. The clerk looked at us and somewhat indignantly stated "Oh, you have your luggage, you should have left it at the yellow tent." We did not see a yellow tent and there was no one outside to direct us. My reply was a terse "There was no one there." His supervisor then tried the same admonishment to which my hot, sweaty, tired, reply was an even more terse "I said, there was no one there." They got the hint did not push the issue and checked us in promptly.
Once on board, we were able to shower change and eat. We did not venture out again our first evening in Venice. On our second day we did a walking tour on our own that took us through the Jewish Ghetto, St Mark's Square, and plenty of points in between. My advice for Venice is to stay away from the tourists and follow the locals, they know better.
I was a little disappointed that Holland America had not arranged some water taxi service directly to St. Marks, Guideca and/or Lido. You either needed to walk from the terminal or arrange your own transport. A previous cruise did have a shuttle service to take passengers directly to St.Marks. There was an extra charge of $10, but it was worth the charge having used it about 6 times.
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