Nieuw Amsterdam, Med Cruise: Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise Review by aircowboy

Nieuw Amsterdam 4
Member Since 2007
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Nieuw Amsterdam, Med Cruise

Sail Date: June 2011
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
Embarkation: Barcelona
The Nieuw Amsterdam was a very nice ship and most things of exceptional quality during the cruise. That being said I will first address the things we did not like. One of the biggest things we did not like about the ship was the Crows Nest. They placed the library in the front right side of the room and it took up a lot of nice lounge space that should be devoted to gatherings and evening music. People would pick up a book sit down in a chair and fall asleep leaving few spaces for people that wanted to gather in a group to visit, see the sites or enjoy music.

The second thing we did not like was the entertainment offered. In our opinion the only entertainment worth attending was the evening performances which were generally good to excellent. The lounge performances were a waste with the exception of Mat Murphy who had a nice voice and played an excellent range of songs. The problem we had was we could never listen to him because they had him playing in the Crows Nest from More 5PM to 9 PM. This was during our early dining seating and we could never listen to him without giving up our dinner time.

The The third thing I would mention is our impression that Holland America has neglected customer satisfaction and is more about finding ways to squeeze every dollar they can from each guest. They constantly had someone trying to sell you a bottle of water, a drink or they were promoting some event that you had to pay for. They did not seem to schedule entertainment when people had time to attend. The biggest gripe we had abut the cruise was the Travel Advisor, Tom. When he was asked a question about a port he tried to discourage people from doing things on their own and tried to get them go book something through the ship. Things were always too hard, too far or too difficult. As an example, when we visited Santorini he told people it was dangerous riding the mules from the dock up to town. He made it sound like you were putting your life on the line by taking this mode of transportation and suggested that you take the ships overpriced excursions. On another occasion we asked him how far it was to walk to the train station and he told us it was a 40 minute walk. After we caught a bus we found out it was only three blocks and could be walked to in less than 10 minutes.

Now that the disappointments are covered, we had a wonderful cruise. All of the ports had interesting things to see and do. We opted to do things ourselves rather than through the boat and found that to be much more satisfactory. We usually saw more than the ships tours did, got there faster, stayed longer and had fewer people to wait on. With a little pre-planning and effort we always got to do more for less.

This is a port intensive cruise and we got little time to catch our breath but that is better than letting the ships crew try to entertain you.

The ships crew was great. They provided a comfortable pleasant atmosphere throughout the cruise.

Food on the trip was very good. There was always plenty of variety and the quality was generally pleasing. The cooks tended to overcook beef however I found that if I ordered it one level more rare than I really wanted it turned out great. I usually prefer medium but had to order medium rare to get the outcome I wanted. At the Lido buffet we enjoyed the theme meals offered in one section each day. They switched that section each day and featured a different country's food which we found enjoyable. Less

Published 08/02/11

Cabin review: L Standard Interior Stateroom

We had an inside cabin (don't remember the number). It was the next to the last room on the right aft of the ship. The layout was a little goofy and was about the smallest cabin we have been in. The beds and furniture were very good and they had a good selection of TV channels. They even had Fox News which was a welcome relief from the usual CNN offering. There were always movies playing but the same ones were on over and over. As usual, there was a shortage of plugs for electronic items.

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Port and Shore Excursions

This is a busy big city full of pick pockets who usually started by asking for a handout and then went for your wallet. Don't take anything you don't want to lose, they are good at what they do. We took the blue bus (3 euros roundtrip) to the walking street. The two highlights we found there were the marketplace (local produce, meats and fast food). It is located about half way up the street on the left side. Just a little farther up the street and to the left you can walk to the old part of town. There are churches, government buildings and narrow winding streets. We spent quite a bit of time looking around this area and it was the best thing we found in this port.

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The ships bus charges too much to go to the old town. Find someone to share a taxi or better yet, take the city bus for one euro. We walked the wall and enjoyed this very much. It costs a few euros and you can also rent a handset (five euro)to get an explanation of what you are seeing. Go early in the morning and it will be cooler. Walk in town when it is warmer and you can find shade.

There were 5 ships in port the day we visited Florence. We thought it might be a problem taking the train but to our relief it was a breeze. Take a taxi from the port to the train station. If you take the bus it takes longer and ends up costing almost as much. As we left the ship we found another couple wanting to take the train so we split a cab to the train station and beat the crowd. We were on the train at 7:30 AM. Florence is centralized and easy to walk to all the main sites. Be ready for crowds during the summer months but it is worth sharing this beautiful city. If you can get a map of the city and plan what you want to see it helps.

On our second visit to this port we decided to see something besides Florence and we went to Luccia. We shared a cab to the train station. Cabs are right at the dock and we had no problem getting one to take us to the local train station. They will try to sell you an all day tour but just tell them you want to go to the train station and it is a flat rate of 20 euro for as many as you can fit in. We had three couples in a van and it worked well.

Luccia was a wonderful place to visit. It has an ancient walled city which is easy to walk and interesting to look around at a comfortable pace. Shopping was good for the wife and the sights were good for me. That made for a pleasant day.

We joined 4 others on a private tour of Sorrento, the Amaifi Coast and Pompeii. This was one of the best days of the cruise. The cost was 95 euro per person for a van and guide for the day. She did a great job of showing us the sites and explaining the area. Sorrento was a beautiful city and we spent about an hour walking around the small walking streets downtown. The Amaifi coast was a beautiful drive and our guide was able to tell us a lot of the history. We saw the ships tours in both places I have mentioned but they did only one place and then headed back. We stopped at Pompeii on the way back but only had about 90 minutes before we had to leave. This was not too bad for us because we had been there before. If it is your first visit to Pompeii give it at least half a day. You can get there on the train for a less than 10 euros and the entry was about 15 euros.

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The train station is a short 10 minute walk from the port entrance where the ships bus drops you off. We bought a BRIG ticket for 9 euros. That gives your round trip train to Rome plus all busses and subway trains in the city. We visited this port twice. The first time we focused on the Roman Cultural areas. We downloaded Rick Steves podcasts from the internet and they were excellent guided tours of things such as the colosseum and the forum. Go to Rick and download for free. At the Colosseum instead of waiting in a long line for a ticket, just go to the short line and get a hand phone tour. It is informative and gets you in without any waiting.

The second visit we went to the Vatican and spent the day. We did not buy tickets ahead of time and only had to wait for about 20 minutes to get in. There was a HUGE croud so plan for that or do something else.

We were in Venice for a little more than 2 days and bought a ticket on the Valparetto (the local water bus). This proved to be a great value at about 25 euros. One trip costs 6.50 euro. We visited several of the outlying islands and went up and down the grand canal both day and night. It was nice to walk a while and then be able to get on a boat and head for another site. The marketplace by the bridge was interesting and a great place to wander around. From the dock you can walk to the valparetto station in about 10 minutes. They have a people mover for one euro but by the time you wait for it you can walk for nothing and work off a few calories. Our tour director tried to tell us it was too far to walk but it was an easy 10 minute walk and only about twice as far as the walk to the people mover.

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