28 Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam Family Cruise Reviews

We are recently back from our enjoyable 12 night cruise of the Mediterranean Empires and sharing our thoughts. This was our third cruise with HAL but first time on the Nieuw Amsterdam. We arrived at Marco Polo Airport and had previously ... Read More
We are recently back from our enjoyable 12 night cruise of the Mediterranean Empires and sharing our thoughts. This was our third cruise with HAL but first time on the Nieuw Amsterdam. We arrived at Marco Polo Airport and had previously arranged land transportation from Airport Transfer. This was booked on line at clickairporttransfer dot com. We were four adults and had an assortment of 9 suitcases. The total cost was 65 Euro for all of us and our bags one way. We received prompt email confirmation of our reservation and a contact number if we didn't see our driver when we got to the Arrival area. We were met at the airport in a mini bus and decided to also arrange for pick-up at the end of the cruise for which we received a small discount. Embarkation in Venice was smooth and quick. HAL did retain US passports and provided a receipt but not those of EU citizens. We were able to reclaim them after our stop in Istanbul though we had yet to visit Kusadasi. Our staterooms were immediately available (around 1:00 pm) and our bags began arriving shortly there after. We were in a veranda room (VC category) on deck 5 which provided ample storage space. There even was enough space to slide our large suitcases under the bed. Ship A quick bite in the Lido and we began a short exploration of the ship before heading out. Being a new ship it was obviously in great shape and we liked the NYC touches. There was a problem with the midship pool and so only the aft pool was available for swimming for both children and adults. The situation was remedied after two days. There seemed to be an adequate amount of lounge chairs and no chair hogs. Most of the cabanas didn't have any occupants so not sure if the space they take up outweighs the additional revenue. There seemed to be a few more announcements and the disembarkation was not silent as on other HAL ships but that too may have changed. Nonetheless, they were few enough not to be an intrusion. The photographers were present but didn't harass you which was nice. Guest demographics on the ship appeared to be about 60% North American, 30% European, and 10% everywhere else. A wide variety of age groups from children to seniors made for a nice mix. Dining-can't say enough good things about Tamarind and Pinnacle Grill. Excellent service, delicious food, and nice ambience. Our group of four had tasty seafood, tender herb encrusted tenderloin, and even "to your taste spicy" lamb in the Tamarind. I found the bread pudding dessert a little heavy after a filling meal though. At the Pinnacle, the Steak Diane and filet mignon never disappoint. Neither does the lava cake or souffle! There I felt the potato and vegetable sides were somewhat bland. Both restaurants are definitely worth the extra charge in our opinion. Manhattan Dining Room-Large Group Alert! I've read threads in the past about large groups and how you can determine if they are sailing with you but never gave it much thought.....cruiser be ware! We were assigned "As You Wish Dining" and showed up the first night around 8:15 pm. We were given the pager and waited about 10 minutes...so far so good. Once seated we found the service to be extremely slow. After finishing a course we would wait about fifteen minutes before the plates would be cleared and the next course would be served. It was 10:15 and time for the show when we were gathering our things to leave. We chalked it up to the first night settling in. We returned on the third night earlier, around 7:45 pm. We got the pager and waited about 25 minutes before being seated. The dining room was very busy with the stewards rushing around to serve everyone. There was a large table next to us with people from a group that we had seen wearing color -coded name tags throughout the ship. I struck up a conversation with one of the women and she explained a little about her group etc and that there were 600 members on our particular sailing. Before leaving the dining room, we requested to make reservations for the next night and were told it was too early and to call in the morning. The next morning at 10:30 we called for reservations and were told none were available for the next three nights in the MDR. When we arrived for dinner that evening around eight we received our pager and waited about 40 minutes before it buzzed. When we approached the stand, we were told that our table had just been given to someone else in error and it would be a few more moments. As we were not happy with this chaos every night, my spouse asked to speak to a manager. While we waited at our table, the servers apologized for the wait and explained that there was a very large group etc. The manager arrived to hear about our observation that "As You Wish Dining" was not appearing to be as most people wished . He sent over a bottle of wine and without asking, we were notified in our mailbox daily of a reservation time for any night we were not dining in one of the specialty restaurants. This solved our problem and things did appear to settle down in the dining room as the week progressed but we did see and hear people receiving complimentary glasses of wine or dinner offers for one of the specialty restaurants because of their long wait. I do want to mention that the servers were great and put a lot of effort into trying to serve us in a timely fashion but at times were hindered by more people than the usual standard. Most of the food was consistently good and the presentation was great. My favorites were chicken breast stuffed with spinach and gruyere and the london broil which was tender and cooked as requested. The wine stewards were also the most available of any cruise we have been on. The only other out of whack thing was on the third formal night (not the last night) when they did the obligatory baked alaska parade. It definitely was geared toward the upper level fixed time diners. We had just finished our entree but the table next to us was having their soup! The alaskas weren't lit up either but maybe that is the fire safety rule now. In-room Dining-We used it three times. The first time it never arrived to our cabin or the other couple we were traveling with. We called and they had lost both our order tickets. The other two times there were no problems Entertainment and Activities-I know this is very selective but I found the five shows that I attended were enjoyable. As many have mentioned in past reviews, Cantare (take on Il Divo) were great. They only performed once but you were also able to see them in the other shows. I thought the Garage Band and beachy Avalon shows were also cleverly done with nice effects. The farewell show was a mix of music to appeal to all ages so some numbers I liked better than others. Sometimes the loudness of the music overwhelmed the vocals during all of the shows. Around the ship there seemed to be less entertainment than on other HAL ships. We like to dance but the only venue we found conducive was once when the HAL CATS were having a sing -with- the -band night. Most of the lounges were pretty empty after eleven which surprised us for this time of the year. We also were surprised that the outside SeaView Bar on the aft deck didn't offer anything later at night. We enjoy being outside on the ship but some nights the chairs and tables were mostly stacked up, the lighting was either off or quite bright, and not even any music from the sound system was playing. This was despite the fact that some people (yes I know....smokers can come here too) were ordering a drink and chatting. The only other activity I did was participate in the Olive Oil Tasting which was fun and attracted about 60 people. We found a large selection of current books in the library and a lot of people playing board games or using the internet....despite how slow the connection is. The flavored coffees at the cafe were also good and I'm sorry I never found time to come later for one of the after dinner varieties Ports-had two private tours scheduled but Athen's taxi strike canceled one; rest we did on our own Venice-A favorite city, as a return visit we went to the Maria della Salute church that you always see when sailing in and out of Venice; discovered the Royal Gardens behind the hustle and bustle of St Marco; Late flight back so stored our luggage at the airport and took the Alilaguna to Murano-not a picturesque island from the outside but the glassware makes up for it-be sure you look for the artisan symbol for true Murano glass if that is what you are after Split-a pleasant surprise! Lovely combination of seaside resort, ruins, cafes, and handicrafts in addition to the usual souvenirs; tendering seemed to take a long time as it appeared there was only one boat being used for independents when our tag was called Athens-the extended taxi strike canceled our tour (it's now over I understand) Being able to walk around the Acropolis was amazing but the lack of organization in dealing with the crowds at the site made this our least favorite port Istanbul-fabulous city with so much to see, wish we had more time there; would have paid a little more and skipped one of the smaller islands; on my land vacation wish list! Kusadasi-Ephesus-do a tour that includes the Terrace Houses! If you've been to Petra you will also like Ephesus. We used Celsus Tours and our group of seven also went to Sirince for lunch in a local's house. We met her at her stall in the winding streets lined with vendors and walked to her nearby home for a delicious meal and had an opportunity to chat more with our guide Murat about Turkey Santorini-always beautiful. We were here before so this time took the local bus to the Santo Winery. They drop you off right in front and the bus was around 1.60 Euro. The views are spectacular and you are close enough to see the ship. We did a "do it yourself tasting" were they gave us six generous pours with the name of each wine, a dish full of cheese and olives, a dish of crusty bread like crackers, a tomato paste dipping sauce all for 12 Euro. It was plenty for the two of us. You can also order other types of food and drink, tour the winery, browse in their gift shop. They have large tiered terraces so even if there are tour buses it doesn't feel crowded. It is a busy place so don't expect a great deal of personal service! It's a nearby fun alternative. The highway in front is one way so you have to cross over a bit to catch the bus back. We were able to flag a taxi for 8 Euro so didn't wait for the bus. Mykonos- known for its beaches, we went ashore to take some pictures of the windmills and then enjoyed a quieter ship as the cruise was port intensive Katakolon-charming island; enjoyed cappuccino by a cafe at the shore; opportunities for picturesque shots of fishing boats and blue trimmed houses; many shops some less touristy too. There is access to a public beach where the ship is docked but it is rocky, not sandy. There is a small cafe and some thatched coverings from the sun. Disembarkation was smooth and our airport transportation was already there waiting for us. Thank you if you are still reading my long review! We visited many nice ports and had a good time on a beautiful ship. There were nice touches like the Mariner lunch and the cocktail party hosted by our online travel agent. There was a special cocktail party and disembarkation luncheon for Dutch guests on board and I'm sure other events I know nothing about. My family also enjoyed getting the Dutch news recap in their mailbox each day too. Yet there was something that made us enjoy sailing on the Oosterdam and Noordam more. Those cruises were also during the summer. We know sailing during peak summer time will be more crowded. One other possibility was when we looked at the Cruise Log on our last day. The Nieuw Amsterdam is promoted as having a capacity of 2106 guests with a crew of 929. On our sailing there were 2320 guests with a crew of 926. That's 214 more people with 3 less crew. That might just sum it up. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
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 ... Read More
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 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. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
My wife and I took our 12 year old granddaughter on the the Nieuw Amsterdam in July. It was the second voyage for the ship but the first time for these ports. (Maiden voyage was to the western Med). The itinerary included Split, Katakalon, ... Read More
My wife and I took our 12 year old granddaughter on the the Nieuw Amsterdam in July. It was the second voyage for the ship but the first time for these ports. (Maiden voyage was to the western Med). The itinerary included Split, Katakalon, Athens, Kusadasi, Istanbul, Mykanos and Santorini. Other than Santorini, it's a great itinerary and we had terrific great excursions. I highly recommend the "Olympia and Zorba" excursion on Katakalon. Great viewing, great fun. Our granddaughter was so exhausted from the dancing she slept the whole trip back to the ship. The ship itself is OK. It seems almost identical to the Noordam which we took in Julu 2009. We had a Veranda suite on deck 5. These rooms have no desk drawers and limited shelf space in the closet area. The only drawers are in the nighttables and big ones under the bed which are not very useful and take up space for suitcases. The desktop fills very quickly with chargers, cameras, papers,flowers, etc.and there is only a very small coffee table to put anything on. The bathroom is small with very little shelf space and no medicine cabinet. There were some air conditioning problems for most of days but not too bad, considering the daily highs were about 95 - 100F. There are a lot more bars and eating areas than on the older, smaller ships which I much prefer. I don't understand the bars as HAL doesn't normally get a big drinking crowd and indeed most of the bars did not seem to get a lot of business. The Tamerind restaurant did not seem prepared for even a half full house, with extremely slow service by both the wait staff and the kitchen. The food was very good. The Pinnacle service and food were excellent as usual. Additional ports visited were Mykanos and Santorini. Mykanos was interesting. Santorini is extremely hilly and without interest. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
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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