4 Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise Reviews for Cruises for the Disabled Cruises to Caribbean - Eastern

I just got back from the 9 night Holiday cruise to the Caribbean on the Nieuw Amsterdam ship. The overall experience was good, but I will tell you the good, the bad and the downright ugly. First, the great. Embarkation was smooth as ... Read More
I just got back from the 9 night Holiday cruise to the Caribbean on the Nieuw Amsterdam ship. The overall experience was good, but I will tell you the good, the bad and the downright ugly. First, the great. Embarkation was smooth as silk, and we were very impressed that it went so smoothly. We arrived before the crowds, so that helped. The food on this cruise was exceptionally good, even for basic food. We agreed that there has never been such a great variety of high-quality food on any other of our 26 cruises. Our room stewards took very good care of us. Our cabin was always clean and we could get anything we desired quickly. Room service was quick and perfect. The care I received at the medical office was the best, although painfully expensive. Now the bad. Several moments of negative experiences colored our desire to cruise again soon with HAL. One particular diningroom officer absolutely refused to clean the Lido table we wanted, even though all the tables in his section were dirty with leftover plates. I called out to him twice within a short distance, but he did not respond or make eye contact with me. I know he must have heard me. Eventually I had to push all the dirty dishes left by others to the side of the four-person table, and two of us sat down and ate. I reported this to another diningroom officer, but that did no good at all. Because the Lido was so slammed full, we had to eat at the smoking area in the very back of the ship, where there was no service at all. No coffee, no refills, no newspapers and nothing but dirty tables, which we had to clean up ourselves. I even went to the bar and ordered a smoothie, which never arrived. When I went to find my smoothie 20 minutes later, all I got was a shrug from the bar manager. The MDR service was so slow that we got up and left after waiting 30 minutes for the entree to arrive. No explanations, and again, the servers would not respond to stares, excuse me's, or a hand going up as they passed by. The service was non-existent. We were simply invisible. So were their tips. Now is where it gets ugly. I spent a total of a day and 12 hours in isolation after eating a lunch provided by a HAL-purchased snorkel trip by catamaran in Amber Cove by a company called Tip Top. Avoid this company. After my time in isolation for food poisoning, I asked two other families we had met on that trip if they got sick from the food, and they told me that they were sick also with food poisoning, but that they were trying to hide their symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain so that they would not be put in isolation or asked to leave the cruise early. I reported these facts to the manager of shore excursions, and I asked for compensation since I was put in isolation by the ship doctor. The manager of the shore excursion desk asked me to contact all the members of that snorkel trip, and ask them all to go to the medical office, pay to see the doctor, and risk being put in isolation before he would even consider giving me any sort of compensation. This was even when I could identify the two families who admitted to me that they also had symptoms of food poisoning. This request by the manager of the shore excursions desk was unreasonable. He also told me that Tip Top claimed that nobody in history had ever complained about their food. Of course not. Sure. HAL would never do anything that does not make them money. The laundry lost a pair of my husband's shorts, but failed to acknowledge it; instead they kept denying that they were lost and kept refusing to either produce the shorts or compensate us for them. Delay, delay, delay. Why do they deny compensation for my lost laundry? To keep my dollars. Almost every activity offered on the cruise involved a fee (classes teaching you how to use a bicycle and pilates) to a sale or a purchase of some sort for wine tasting, bingo, casino games or art. It's all made up to separate you from even more of your money. Why do they charge you for spinning classes, which use the bicycles in a group setting? It's bicycle riding, folks! Why? To make money! I even received a very special invitation, for a select few, mind you, for the Privileges Club. Oooooh. Sounds exceptional and elitist. The letter, and later in the cruise, the reminder postcard, outlined that I could get up to 60% of my future cruise off just by doing things I do anyway. I was intrigued but suspicious. If it's too good to be true, there's a money grab. And yes, when I went to ask about the details and the cost to belong to this exclusive club, the HAL representative avoided answering my question with an actual number until I asked how much three different times. Finally, it came out: $795 for the lowest tier of exclusive membership up front. I laughed and walked right out of there. Another money grab scheme. Disembarkation was a nightmare. Two of the disembarkation employees of HAL flexed their powerful authority to keep me, a physically disabled war veteran, from using the customs line for disabled people because, even though I have my own personal custom wheelchair, I did not look "disabled enough" to them. I have made a complaint to HAL in their survey already. I have received no response. HAL, you really disappointed us this time. Every hour of every day you wasted our time with mailbox invitations to spend more money, but give us the poorest meal service on any cruise. We made our own fun on shore, and the food was terrific, but we had all our daily tips stopped (which took TWO attempts because the first guest services rep, Barbara, refused to give me a copy of the form I signed because she said it was "too financially delicate...). I paid generously for the entire cruise in full three whole months in advance of stepping on the ship, and you still demand $12.50 each per day tips for this poor service? Nope. You just have to pay your slaves from the pile of money I paid you for the cruise itself. I do not believe the myth that if I don't pay you $12.50 per day, your severely underpaid staff will starve. I will search for my next cruise among the many other cruise companies out there. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We selected Holland America for the food and service (our second cruise ever). We're in our early thirties and we're joined by both sets of parents and an 18 year old sister with a total of 7 in our group. We had a really nice ... Read More
We selected Holland America for the food and service (our second cruise ever). We're in our early thirties and we're joined by both sets of parents and an 18 year old sister with a total of 7 in our group. We had a really nice Christmas on this cruise and would recommend it to others. Disembarkation: We flew in the night before to ensure no flight delays. We aimed to be at the cruise port at 1:00 but due to heavy traffic didn't make it until 1:45.(9 cruise ships leaving on the same day with an estimated 25,000 arriving and another 25,000 leaving). Unfortunately some flights were cancelled and some other passengers didn't make the cruise. Despite the official paperwork saying the boarding process was 1:00 to 5:00 we learned that we could have boarded as early as 11:30 that morning. Food was available at Lido upon boarding, the buffet restaurant as it always is (skip paying for an outside lunch).. Ship: Built in 2010, the ship still feels relatively fresh and classy. There's not a ton of activities (no water slides or climbing wall) but that's expected due to the small size of the ship as it only carries ~2,100 passengers verses 5,000-7,000 of larger ships. The Silk Den (bar) on the top deck (11) is the best place for some quiet and to enjoy the views. Best place to go if you get sea sick is the seats around the circular staircase in main atrium on the Deck 1. It's the "middle of the middle" and sways the least. The ship will provide sea sickness drugs if you need them. Dining: Manhattan Dining Room (only dining room): Overall, food was "Really Good". About 80% of the menu was different each night and we thoroughly enjoyed it. It's unlikely that they will cook anything that's the "best you've ever had" but it will likely come in one or two notches below that. We were very happy with the food in the Manhattan Dining Room. They don't tell you but you can order multiple appetizers and entrees. So we would each order 1-2 appetizers and occasionally an extra entree so we could share and try everything. If you like something that comes small like scallops (3 tiny bites) order extra in advance. Two months in advance, we reserved a table in the Manhattan Dining room for the 5:30 dining time and were glad we did. Others had to wait a while in line for 15-30 minutes whereas our party walked right in each night, a must if you have a larger group. We saw them accommodate a group as large as 9 at a single table. Pinnacle Grill: We doubted whether the additional $35 up charge would be worth it for the upgrade to this restaurant but it ended up being a great value. I would describe the food here as "Amazing" (a small step down from "Life Changing" at a five star restaurant). The steak was on par with some of the best steak houses we have in Dallas, Texas. The food was noticeably improved over the Manhattan dining room and my only regret was not booking another dinner here. Lido Buffet: Never had to wait and it got busy but didn't feel overly crowded. It's a good option if you need something quick as something is available through-out the day. The food was good but definitely a step down from the dining room. Dive In: The Burgers and Hot Dogs were pretty good here. It did however consistently take 20-30 minutes to receive your food which is too long for this kind of food. Slice: Pizza was okay. Not bad, not great either. Room Service: You can also order room service 24 hours a day. A great option if you need an early breakfast before an excursion. They mixed up our order a few times but they tried to fix it ASAP when they did. We did not eat at any of the other specialty restaurants. Entertainment and Activities: Overall the acts were barely entertaining, any less and I would have just walked out. The magician/ comedian just juggled. Magic in the circus show for example was simulated with a live actress pulling doves out of a hat but she pretended to pull doves out of a real hat which then just flew around on the LED TV screen (not impressed). Activities listed on the Holland America website like America's Test Kitchen and BLEND we're not available on this ship (we were very disappointed). Really wish Holland America would list what activities are available for each ship as we were really interested in these two particular activities. Digital Workshops were for those that had little to no experience with the computers and applications they cover. They start each work shop with "this is a mouse". Fitness: We were interested in fitness classes but they tried to charge you an extra $15 for the classes like a cycling class. I think it should be included. The mixology class allows you to get behind the bar and practice making drinks. For $15 you get three pre-determined cocktails and more if you correctly answer trivia questions for the excess drinks, A fun and fantastic value. The art shows offers overpriced art. Virtually all are reprints that they try and sell at $1K-$15K. They have lots of gimmicks to suck you in. If you study the art closely you can see the ink blotches, the same micro dots they use on printing magazines and newspapers. If you have bad eye sight you probably won't notice. If you see something you like, take a picture of it and find it online for a lot less. The ship's shops offer increasingly large discounts towards the end of the cruise. Service: Service was pretty good. Most staff had a positive and courteous attitude and were semi-personable (tough when there's new passengers each week). Staff would do their best to help you with questions and I don't think I was ever told "no". There were occasional mistakes and staff apologized and did there best to fix it ASAP. I felt like I was developed a friendship with our server and cabin steward, wish we could have spent more time with them. Ports and Shore excursions: Our smaller ship size helped mean that we did not overcrowd an island we were visiting. We did three excursions and had a good time with each. Overall we found the excursions to be a pretty good value and a fair deal considering the time and hassle it would take to do it on your own. Other Passengers - Holland America is known for the "newly wed and the nearly dead". We were on a "young" cruise with families joining for the holidays (can't imagine what a regular cruise is like). There was space to park walkers at the entrance to the dining room. My younger sister, 18, went to several events intended for ages 18-25 and five or less people would show. Unless you like music from the 40's-60's the night life is DEAD. Otherwise, you'll fit right in and enjoy the dancing and songs which all ends at 11:00. I need to find a cruise line with good food, service, and activities that's not a booze cruise with drunkards. Christmas Activities - They decorated the various Christmas decorations including a Christmas trees, toy train, gingerbread houses, garland, and Christmas lights. They had various hot cocoa nights, Christmas caroling, and visit from Santa on Christmas day. Christmas Eve and Day meals were EXCELLENT. Christmas Eve included a choice of a traditional Christmas Dinners from various countries (6-8 options). The choir of crew put on their own heart warming show on Christmas Eve. The staff went out of their way to really make it feel special. Would definitely do it again. The only downside was on December 26th we were supposed to visit Half Moon Cay (Holland America's Private island) and they cancelled it when we arrived in the morning (another day at sea). The captain said that the wind was 30-40 knots with waves cresting at 5 feet, and the ship couldn't get a hold of their staff on the island. The ship's weather channel showed 9 mph wind and when I went outside there was a light breeze with what appeared to be small waves. We were later told the island's staff couldn't come to the island due to the large waves. Based on my knowledge and experience, I suspect because it was the day after Christmas, the island staff was either too drunk or didn't want to come into work and called in sick. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
I like Holland more now that I am older. We have cruised over 40 times and this is our 4th Holland cruise. The quieter, more refined atmosphere is a pleasure now. The decorations, fresh flowers, and classical music was a nice alternative ... Read More
I like Holland more now that I am older. We have cruised over 40 times and this is our 4th Holland cruise. The quieter, more refined atmosphere is a pleasure now. The decorations, fresh flowers, and classical music was a nice alternative to some other lines. I wish the Carnival Family of Cruise lines would give credit for overall cruises the way that Royal Caribbean and Celebrity does, We have cruised extensively on Carnival as well as Costa, Holland, and Princess but we get more perks on RC and Celebrity. MSC even matches you highest level from any other cruise line! These perks do make a difference to the passenger and costs the cruise lines very little. The staff was the most impressive asset. They have always been excellent. I do miss their countries on their name tags. My biggest disappointment was in the cost of excursions as well as the limited number of easy excursions for those who are older and physically challenged. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We had a very enjoyable 7day cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam- Eastern Caribbean.  There were very few problems but most of them were resolved.  We found all of the cruise ship staff to be extremely friendly and caring trying to make sure ... Read More
We had a very enjoyable 7day cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam- Eastern Caribbean.  There were very few problems but most of them were resolved.  We found all of the cruise ship staff to be extremely friendly and caring trying to make sure everything was to our satisfaction. We were very pleased with the embarkation to the ship.  There was a slight delay getting aboard because they did not have adequate staff to man all the people who were in wheelchairs.  I happened to be one of them on this cruise since I just recently had an accident and broke a bone in my back.  The transporter did an excellent job making sure my ride was smooth.  He took us directly to our stateroom which was a big help to me.  Our  cabin was a fully obstructed outside view.  We were very happy to see there were safety bars in the tub as well as a rubber mat.   The toilet was very difficult to flush.  There was a safe and a minibar in the cabin.  Our cabin steward made sure we had an egg-crate mattress and 2 bath robes as well as extra ice that I was going to need for my back. The refrigerator did not have a freezer.  The TV had a remote control with a sleep timer which I always appreciate having.  We did have a problem with the TV sound and after notifying our steward several people came to fix it including the Cruise Director but it eventually had to be replaced. We had breakfast delivered to our cabin daily.  The delivery person was very pleasant and timely.  Lots of food choices, however, eggs, bacon, toast, muffins and potatoes were always cold.  The coffee was always hot and delicious.  The salt shakers were always clogged.  They need to add rice to them so that they will pour readily. The blueberry muffins were the best I have ever tasted. Finding our way around the ship was easy since the ship had a similar layout as the Eurodam which we traveled on last year.  We were surprised that they still have not taken my suggestion that on the midship elevator bank where there are 4 glass elevators and 2  or 3 conventional elevators be linked to one button activation rather than  having to run to all the different banks to press for service.  It is very difficult for a handicapped person to run in all different directions to catch an elevator. I also have a problem with claustrophobia and found myself along with 8 other cruisers in elevator #2 Aft by the Manhattan Dining Room trapped.  The doors would not open no matter what button I pushed.  I was on the right side by the buttons and did not see a phone or a red button to press in an emergency.  I started pounding on the door an fortunately someone on the outside heard me and hollered to me what to do.  On the left side of the elevator their were another set of controls and low down below the buttons was a help button (silver in color as the other buttons) and a phone inside a silver case.  Once we pressed that button the doors opened and we all escaped thanking this passenger who said he also was trapped in the same elevator that morning.  I reported the problem to the attendant in the front of the dining room. I was the Cruise Critic Leader for our Roll Call and had arranged the Meet and Greet Party in the Crow's Nest on the first sea day.  We had an excellent turn out, by both senior staffers and our roll call members.  Roughly 40 people attended the party.  We had a gift exchange which everyone enjoyed.  We all introduced ourselves and some told funny cruise stories as we went around the room.  Our Cruise Director Eric was there as well.  He is so funny.  He is also a stand-up comedian and does a great job at both. Entertainment aboard the ship was good.  A quartet called Cantaré  was our favorite.  The lighting and the sets for this group were fantastic!  Other favorites were the juggler (Mike Price), the comedian (Julie Barr) and  the Steel Drum Band called Island Magic.  We were a little dissatisfied with the piano bar (Gregg)  who challenged his audience in a 50's and 60's trivia game where you had to name every song he played and the artist.  My husband and I participated and found we were the winners of this challenge and received nothing as our prize.  The next day Mark, one of our favorite cruise staff crew did another music trivia by the pool and the winners, all 6, were rewarded with whatever cocktail they wanted delivered to them by Mark.  We told Mark about Gregg's contest the night before and Mark said he would talk to Gregg.  We stopped by the piano bar that night and Gregg still gave out no prize to the winners.  I do not understand why Holland America has cut back on their prizes at Trivia.   All they give out is a pin that has either a smoke stack or a picture of the ship.  I have never seen anyone wear one.  They should give out prizes that people will use and publicize the Holland American Ships. These items could be luggage tags, passport holders, drink mugs, pens and tee shirts. Food was always good and the service excellent.  Presentation was perfect.  However, we were disappointed when as the leader of our Cruise Critic Group I had asked for them to arrange a dinner for my husband and myself to dine with the cruise director.  I was told this would happen by the onboard event services coordinator, Tia Thomas.  When we did not hear from the cruise director we asked at the front desk if they could give the cruise director, Eric,a  message about when we would be dining together.  We were free any night or time.  The next day I was approached by Eric and he told me dinner would not be possible because this was only a 7 day cruise and his schedule did not permit this.  We were very disappointed.  Later we spoke to a friend we met onboard and were told that they had dinner with one of the officers. This was not planned by my friends the officer just walked up to their table at random and asked if he could join their table.  He said all officers were required to dine at least once a week with a table of cruisers.  How discouraging.  They got what I had asked for and had a great time. We enjoyed all the ports of call which included Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay. Debarkation went smoothly.  We had breakfast in our cabin.  Were escorted off in a wheelchair in a timely manner, however, when we reached the long line to go through customs the transporter said I had to get out of the chair so he could return to the ship.  The porter who handled  our luggage said "where did he go with your wheel chair"?  I told the porter what the transporter said and the porter said that was wrong and never give up the wheelchair till you get through customs.  No need for you to have to stand.  I guess I will take his advise on our next cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
Nieuw Amsterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.5
Public Rooms 4.5 4.4
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.8
Family 4.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.5 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.1

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