58 Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam Family Cruise Reviews

We boarded the ship in Ft. Lauderdale on December 11, 2011. This was a seven day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. We had not been on this ship before so the first thing we did was explore so we could learn the layout of the ship. ... Read More
We boarded the ship in Ft. Lauderdale on December 11, 2011. This was a seven day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. We had not been on this ship before so the first thing we did was explore so we could learn the layout of the ship. It's also a great time to take pictures. We are spoiled and we only book cabins with a verandah. We love the beds on the HAL cruise line as sleep just needs to be comfortable and if it's not, we are not happy. HAL, in our opinion, has the best food and so we will be sticking with this cruise line going forward. I just hate to spend money on something that is not up to snuff. The ports on this cruise were; Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, San Juan and Saint Maarten. We had not visited Grand Turk before nor San Juan. Grand Turk was okay, very pretty beaches. I was not impressed with San Juan as it just reminded me of Mexico. We love Half Moon Cay and the weather was so wonderful while we were there. In Saint Maarten we had the same nice weather and we just shopped. We don't take many excursions because we have done them in the past and they are kind of expensive. We like to explore on our own. We did learn something on this cruise. If you book your next cruise while on board, you just put down a $100 deposit and you can select your cruise and your cabin. The deposit is good for four years. In addition, we got $50 each drink cards for the next cruise. Just little benefits to booking while on board. If it turns out that you cannot take the cruise you booked, the deposit can be used for another cruise. You don't lose that money. We booked a cruise for the next New Year so we can party on board. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
15 June 2011 Flew from Stuttgart, Germany to Barcelona using Air Berlin, discount flights no meals, no frills & pretty cheap. Upon arrival could not locate HAL rep so after waiting fifteen minutes luckily my husband loads all the ... Read More
15 June 2011 Flew from Stuttgart, Germany to Barcelona using Air Berlin, discount flights no meals, no frills & pretty cheap. Upon arrival could not locate HAL rep so after waiting fifteen minutes luckily my husband loads all the phone numbers in his phone so he called and was told they would come. After another ten minutes of waiting she appeared something about another client. Then she walked us out the doors where we waiting another five minutes for her specific cab driver who took us to the port. We could have saved all the waiting in this crowded area and taken a cab right outside the door, we will not use this overpriced transfer service in Barcelona again. Arriving at the terminal showing the boarding pass we printed from our home computer they took our luggage and we proceeded through security inside where they do basically what they do in airports minus the shoe removal. If you have bottles in your luggage they will open your luggage and check to insure it is wine. To prevent them opening your luggage you could have it in a smaller bag in your big suitcase and remove it before giving the ship your luggage and hand carry it through security. Wine is allowed and soft drinks just no hard liquors not sure about beer. Finishing security there is an escalator with a person to direct you up to the checking in area. I asked this person where the people for the suites were suppose to go and she just pointed up the escalator. At the top to the left is the table with forms to fill out asking if you have been ill, each person must fill one out to proceed so make sure you have a couple of pens with you to speed this up if your coming with companions. Also grab a Days Events paper from here. Then once you have this form filled out proceed to the roped lines to the long counter for check in. They will need your printed boarding pass and passports, and then they take your photo for the ships computers, this way if whenever you go off or back on the ship your photo will appear on the screen for the person to see you're really this person named on the card. We use a lanyard (of course HAL one purchased in the ships store) to make it handy to carry this card since it is basically a credit card and ID, you don't want to lose it! When you are leaving the ship and hands are full you have it hanging around your neck quick and easy, then removed while on shore of course. There is a neat slot on the door of your room to put them so as your leaving your room you just put it on and replace it when you come back in. So far we have only found the front desk will punch a hole in the bottom middle for the lanyard to go through. When you finish checking and getting your map of the ship etc you're ready to board if you are not too early. You cannot board until after 11:00 am and must stay in the big area across from the check in counter with limited seats and pay for refreshments. If you are in a suite you are allowed into the area upstairs. At the top of the escalator you came up it is on the opposite side of the table with the health forms you filled out. Take the elevator up and they will greet you with coffee, tea, and cookies. There are soft leather couches and chairs up there with TV but in Spanish of course. I think HAL could save money by doing away with this area and setting it up, just let the suite people be escorted up to the Neptune Lounge until their rooms are ready like NCL does for their villas. Now 11:00 am arrives and we are not escorted to the gangway but have to go ourselves sliding past the other passengers who have now crowded up to the roped area. On NCL they have a butler escort you to your room and show you the amenities, HAL your on your own and have to show the card you received at check in that you are in a suite. People in suites are given priority boarding. You also get champagne in your suite and can have canapEs delivered each day but most are seafood which I do not eat so we declined. Our suite is basically what you see on the web and this ship does not have the curtain providing privacy to anyone in the bed, we had hoped one was there since our granddaughter was with us; some of the other ships do have the curtain. Having a third person using the sofa bed makes for crowded conditions, when the bed is out you barely can make it out to the balcony since they stow the coffee table in front of the balcony door. We had so much storage space for all the clothes it was fabulous (this is where NCL fails in their villas they have very little storage and even less hangers). Our room was very well kept by Poni & Ilo our room stewards, they would make the sofa bed up when we went to dinner and have it picked up by mid morning. They did an outstanding job! Our only complaint was the big window never was cleaned and the glass on the balcony was covered in salt spray so sitting down in one of the two chairs made it hard to see through. The balcony also had a table and three chairs but it was too hot to eat out there in the afternoon. Next door was one of the penthouses with so many people the noise sometimes was a bit much including playing music. They had a hot tub but I never saw anyone use it, they had a very long balcony. I don't think we will get a room next to the penthouse again. In the suites you have amenities like laundry; this ship was the first that actually lost something, my husbands' favorite sleeping shirt. When asked about it they blew us off the concierge in the Neptune Lounge didn't appear to care asking how much it cost, it wasn't the reimbursement we wanted it was the shirt, like I said his favorite. If you have something you cannot part with don't put it in the laundry, lesson learned. Neptune Lounge was nice and well stocked; you could eat breakfast and lunch in there if you wanted. Most times had hot coffee and hot chocolate but had to dig for the latter for some reason. The coffee machine was not working at one point and I thought hubby would have a melt down, gotta have decent coffee, it was fixed by the next day. You also are given free breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill which was fantastic! Restaurants: The Manhattan Dining Room is free to everyone and we used it more this time then ever before. We eat early and it is less crowded. Our first server was horrid and it took two hours of sitting waiting for the meal to end. Geeze! For the first time we asked for a different server and got Andre, man is a Godsend! Nicely we let him know we liked to keep it moving and don't dally and he was fine with that. I can see if it is crowded but our area was not crowded since we were so early. The food was great with a wide selection, I only had one meal I did not like the food but no big deal. Our ten year old granddaughter was given a children's menu and she loved all the dishes, mac & cheese, chicken nuggets, spaghetti, and ice cream and several more choices offered every night. Our favorite place on board is the Pinnacle Grill with "Sam the Man" a great server and show man who we enjoyed on previous cruises on different ships, Tony the "Wine guy" he is so much fun to chat with, and Anna the "The Wine Gal" they all made our meal times enjoyable. The food was outstanding! I just wish they had more variety. We also ate in the Lido a couple of mornings and it was delish! They have stations for Belgian Waffles to die for, and an egg station any way you want them. Sadly on this station the young man doing the toast was lacking. Lunch in the Lido was nice but the salad items were allowed to run out several times. The tables were kept cleaned off and the staff attentive. We also used the grill by the pool and they have some amazing choices of knockwurst for those out there who like that option, along with hotdogs, hamburgers and lots of fries. Out in the pool area we had a drink from the bar, a bit pricey but aren't all poolside bars? The Mohita was oooooh so good. Pool was dirty with balls of hair floating on the bottom and a used Band-Aid, gross! I had to get a young man to come scoop it out. I was amazed to see there is rust already forming on the pool sides in the metal area. Room service: It was nice that this was the first time on all the ships that the person could understand English, this is crucial in a phone order. We got all the items we requested for breakfast when it was too early to go to the Pinnacle Grill, but one morning something happened and they did not get our breakfast up to us nor our neighbor so we had to make due with some items from the Lido to carry and eat on the bus. We returned from our excursion to an apology and chocolate covered strawberries. Shows: We saw one with Grease not so great, it looked scary how they had these girls on shaky stands trying to dance, they looked frighten. The magician was fantastic granddaughter loved it. Walk for the Cure was fun and had such a great turn out, you get a pink wrist band and teeshirt for $25 donation, then enjoy the walk it isn't 5 km which is fine mostly symbolic to show your support. While onboard internet is extremely expensive, solution: in your first port if you find a phone store which you can look up at home http://enterprise.vodafone.com/products_solutions/mobile_broadband/cards.jsp and buy this Vodaphone Mobile Connect Card that you stick into your laptop and have access to the internet while in ports, (nothing works at sea but the ships internet). You may have to sit in the Lido deck by the pool where you get the best reception, while in our room it did not work facing out to sea, if your room is on land side it should work on your balcony. They have outlets to plug into by the pool near the windows to keep your battery going on the laptop. If you don't use the card up by the end of the cruise you may give it to one of the crew they can use them to contact people at home. HAL Club for kids: The children have clubs divided by age. In the one my granddaughter age ten was in the attendants were great and she loved being with the group. They did arts and crafts, treasure hunt, sports, movie night with popcorn, and gaming on Xbox. One night they had a dance down on another floor and Syd loved it! It does not open until 7:00 pm so the children don't mind eating with you but gets them moving to be ready to go to dinner and then on to their evening out. It closes at 10:00 p.m. and she stayed till they closed each night. You can give permission for them to sign in and out but not sure if that is only while out to sea but in port a parent must pick them up, I would check on that. We personally went to pick her up each time there are so many people on these ships it is like a small city. We really liked this ability for her to go off and play with other children it gets boring being with old people all the time and we had time alone to watch a show or just walk around. Photographers: We paid for one of the $200 packages and received all the shots. Sadly in many on one night a couple stood in the background so appear in all of them. Also the photographer didn't care that my husband's suit was all bunched up and some my eyes were closed. They also take one when you leave the ship in each port, no background, sun in our eyes most times, and a couple of stops no one was even out there. Just buy as you go is the best bet. Ports: Barcelona, fantastic a must see is Casa Batllo by Gaudi, the man was before his time in thinking. Also the Familia church but if you go go early the line was unreal by mid day we didn't go inside. We used Barcelona Bus Turistic (blue buses) for transportation once out of the port. You catch them in Christopher Columbus square. We have used both companies and like Hop & Ride (Red buses) better they had less broken jacks for listening and better seating, both were crowded. On the blue buses the bottom back is so low ceiling many folks kept hitting their heads. If the jacks are broken in your seat use your neighbors each seat has four. Monta Carlo, Monaco-We didn't enjoy this port that much. We hiked up the fort like structure near the ship and went through the little park but just did not see anything worth staying in the humid heat. We returned to an almost empty ship and went swimming, very nice. Livorno, Italy- We took the excursion to Pisa and Florence since our granddaughter wanted to see both. Florence they took us to the Santa Croce church then to down town where the guide just went on and on it would have been better to have been allowed to go through the marketplace. The lunch was alright nothing to get excited about in a hot restaurant. Barbara was our guide she was nice and allowed the kids to take turns holding the group sign. Pisa you cannot go up time is very limited and you have to reserve a time in advance. Plenty of shopping for souvenirs at booths along the route to the leaning tower from where the bus drops you off. Florence they have some cool vendors who can bend your name out of metal in three minutes for 2 Euro I think it was. Rome-Long bus ride of course but we had the best guide Alexandra, my granddaughter just loved her. We were allowed to go on our own from the Trevi fountain and walk to the Spanish steps which look nothing like the postcards with all the pretty flower boxes are gone. We went to lunch in the most beautiful of restaurants we loved sitting outside because of no seating left inside. Went to the Vatican in the afternoon when the line was shorter Alexandra was spot on picking when to go. We purchased a couple of 3 Euro parasols while near the Coliseum which proved very useful in Greece. Naples, Italy- they replaced the original port that was in Sicily, so we went to Sorrento to shop. It was a long bus ride and you're asked to stay for a sales pitch when you get off the bus but you don't have too and I suggest you skip it and go to the tiny stores their much cheaper, time is limited. We found a jewelry box maker with his Dad and purchased all of our boxes there and they even let us take a picture with them. The bus also stopped at a Cameo maker shop and we got the most pretty Cameo of a mother and a child, they have newer styled Cameo's not only the old fashion type and they have a demonstration on how their made, be sure to bargain with them, be strong but be polite. Katakolon, Greece- Took the Olympic tour and loved it even though it got quite hot the parasols really helped. Back in time for the pool and relaxing. Navplion, Greece-Another hot day starting early, granddaughter dragging butt after a night of dancing in HAL club, she had a great time. Spent the morning walking ruins and listening to the tour guide, then Greek lunch of lamb, fab! Corfu, Greece-Another hot day, granddaughter had a sunburn so we paid for the bus to go into town it's too far to walk, many tiny shops with olive wood items and assortment of all kinds of things. We found the drug store and got skin cream (to find they had Aloe in the ships store) and went back to the ship to watch a movie. I would like to go here again. Dubrovnik, Croatia- We went when the ship pulled in. There are two gangways and for some reason everyone goes to the front one we went mid ship and missed that pile up. What a cool city no tour guide needed use free online walking guide, you have to walk the wall! Once you cross the little walkway and go inside to the right is where you purchase the tickets for 70 kn then come out the door and go to the left and there are the stairs. They don't open till 8:00 am. There was only one other woman up there with us so no shots of the walls with all the people in them, later on we saw so many people they looked like ants climbing. We walked the wall all the way to the middle where you can come back down and now you're on the backside of the city right near the tourist attractions. We walked back towards the entrance down the main street but off to the sides you can climb the steep steps to shops nestled up among the homes. For children there is a man just outside the entrance where they swing a huge hammer and make their own coin, what a cool keepsake, the vendor will pose for you too. Venice, Italy-Last port, we took the people mover for 1 Euro to the city where your supposed to get the water Taxi. We could not find any signs to help here. We just hoofed it through the city since we have been here before and I really wanted my granddaughter to experience it all. Needless to say the heat may have made this a bad choice. We found a gondola for hire cost 200 Euro for the three of us. They have three routes to choose from; short I think was €100, longer €200, and even longer and into another area for I believe it was €300. Yes VERY expensive but hey when will you ever come back here and get to do this again? Do you want to be in the photos in the gondola or taking ones of other people??? We knew it would be expensive so we were prepared. Did the pizza and ice cream thing along with the pigeons although it appears the pigeons are less in number now then the last time we visited. Lots of construction going on and has been for some time, with big sheets of ads covering stuff, ruins the photos. Didn't shop just caught the crowded water Taxi back to the ship and then the people mover. Disembarkation: The airport is small so they do NOT allow you in the airport before three hours when your flight is scheduled to leave. The ship wants you off early they start disembarkation early and even if your flight leaves later they hustle you off way before you need to be to get the next group on. We paid for the transfer again not necessary, and boarded the bus then waited...went a ways and to keep us from sitting outside the airport we sat on the bus. Then they let us off and we sat outside the airport on benches. When we finally went inside no chairs and crowded. Air Berlin would not let us check in and had some snafu on another flight making things even worse. Could not even get word on what counter to line up at, this is important with flights that do not reserve your seats before you check in with three people. Needless to say hubby vowed never to fly in or out of Venice ever again. All in all we had a great time! This was our granddaughters' maiden voyage and she is needless to say hooked on cruising. Yes we have her booked on a Baltic cruise next summer with Princess! Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We cruised on the Nieuw Amsterdam March 13-20th 2011 on a Western Caribbean route. A group of 4 brothers with wives/SO...a total of 8. We booked a VF Guarantee but were upgraded to category V on the Navigation deck.This was the 13th ... Read More
We cruised on the Nieuw Amsterdam March 13-20th 2011 on a Western Caribbean route. A group of 4 brothers with wives/SO...a total of 8. We booked a VF Guarantee but were upgraded to category V on the Navigation deck.This was the 13th cruise for my wife and me. Others had cruised anywhere from 0 to 6 times. We stayed at the Springhill Suites Dania Beach. Free parking, transport to the port and pick up for $8pp. My wife and I had been on one other HAL cruise...the Zuiderdam in 2005. The Nieuw Amsterdam, even though on the same hull, seemed larger than the Z and was definitely a much prettier ship. We cruised the Celebrity Solstice last year and the Nieuw Amsterdam compared very favorably to it. It does not have the large atrium like the Solstice and other newer ships. Arrived at the port around 11:00AM. On the ship before noon. One great thing HAL has done is to have cabins ready by 11:30. We were able to go the cabin upon boarding and drop carry-ons. It also seemed to spread the crowd around the ship rather than everyone gathering in the LIDO.CABIN: Category V on the port side Navigation Deck. It was great to be able to open 4 balconies and have a huge space. Cabin was designed well...nothing flashy but very comfortable and lots of storage. Bath was one of the larger ones we have had with a tub. CREW: The cruise director was Gene Young. I have to admit I don't remember many of our cruise directors an hour after leaving the ship and he was no different. Did not really add or detract from the cruise. Crew was friendly and efficient for the most part. Cabin Steward Diding did a great job even though we did not see him often. LIDO: The lido food was always good but I like the layout of the Solstice buffet much better. Seemed to be more congestion on the NA. And one of brothers also complained that he could never get anyone in the morning to fill his coffee. One thing we noticed...we always had coffee after dinner and found it odd that they NEVER offered a refill, even in Pinnacle or Tamarind. I did notice after returning to the ship after 3:00 there was not a lot of food and we were always hungry when returning from shore.MDR: Ate there 3 times with anytime dining. Food was very good each time but I agree the service was not as friendly as past cruises and sometimes slow. I just assumed it was because this was the first time we had experienced anytime dining and the wait staff does not get "invested" in you as much or get to know you. Not bad service, just a little detached. The NY Strip served every evening was a really nice cut of beef. TAMARIND: We felt it was the highlight of the dinners. So good we booked a second night. Service excellent as was the food. The only problem we had was trying to decide what to order. We tried to get in for lunch without reservations one day but there was a waiting list so we left. Everything we had was delicious. They also brought us a large platter of sushi for the table in addition to the meals.PINNACLE: While the food was very good, service was slow. I just can't understand why it takes almost 4 hours to complete a meal. We had 6:00 reservations and got out a little before 10pm. Other tables that arrived after our party were finished long before us.CANALETTO: We ate there the first night. The food was good, nothing special, but it was free and something different. Service was okay and we did get cotton candy.ENTERTAINMENT: We had a change in much of the cast at the beginning of the cruise. Cantare was one of the best shows we have ever seen on our 13 cruises. Go to this one! Rondell Sheridan was the comedian and we all recognized him from TV. Very funny. Just saw a short sample of the magician and he was amazing. Other stage shows were pretty good but the one exception was "The Two fo Us". This was a married couple who are part of the ensemble and had their own show. While the singing was excellent, the banter between songs was so corny and cheesy it ruined the show. Several in our party walked out. Matt Murphy played guitar and sang in Crows Nest...good and very nice guy. Gini and HAL Cats seemed to play everywhere around the ship, the pool, and on Half Moon Cay. Musically they were good but they really need a male voice to assist with vocals. But the band leader told us this was the same on every HAL ship...a band with only female singer.We enjoyed the Piano Bar mainly because of "Boozie" the waiter. You have got to meet this guy. All 8 of us met him one night and he remembered our names the rest of the cruise. David Seering (sp?) played and sang but was a little over the top...think Liberace without the glitter. Adagio Strings were good but selections seemed to be designed for bedtime. They played a great "RiverDance" type of number for the variety show one evening and we expected more of this but they seemed to stick just to the classics. The Jazz Trio called The Neptunes were also good but it seemed everytime we sat down to listen they took a break.It did seem that after the late show there were not many entertainment choices but we were never bored!! THE SHIP: We really liked the Nieuw Amsterdam and as mentioned previously it was so much prettier and more elegant than our last HAL cruise on the Zuiderdam. It is indeed a beautiful ship. There are some dead ends where you "can't get there from here" but that is the case on most ships. I know some have complained about the red in the MDR but we loved it, especially when compared to the stark white in the Solstice MDR. The NA is not as open with a large atrium like the Solstice but after a while we came to like it as well. On a sea afternoon there is no place better than lounging on the promenade deck. Kudos to HAL for keeping the wrap around on all of their ships. The Queens Lounge is a beautiful spot as are most of the numerous lounges. The one place we found that was really ugly in our opinion was the casino. Very dark and not colorful and very uninviting. Maybe it was just all the smoke (oh oh...I don't want to start THAT debate). MISC: If you like to hang around the pool be sure to bring some type of shoe to wear around the pool deck. You will get the bottoms of your feet burned within seconds by just going from the pool back to your lounger. Not sure why they did not use some sort of heat reflecting material or teak for the decking. The lido pool area also seemed really closed in when compared with the Solstice. Part of it comes from the fact they have the magrodome which can cover the pool. It is nice to have but does really cut into the deck space on the deck above the pool. One brother rented a Lido cabana for the week and really enjoyed it. Had a butler with great service, champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, and more. They felt it was well worth the $199 for the week. The Resort Cabana's were more private and up higher but cost $299.VERDICT: Book this ship. We had a great time. I think the NA and the Solstice are very comparable. There are some things we liked better on the Solstice and some we liked better on the Nieuw Amsterdam. But if you go on a cruise looking to find something to complain about you will. If you don't have a good time on the NA, or for that matter any cruise, it is your own fault!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Nieuw Amsterdam strengthens image of well run HAL Fleet. We took a previous cruise with HAL on the Westerdam in 2007 and enjoyed the service, efficiency and numerous stops. So when tasked with planning a family reunion vacation, HAL ... Read More
Nieuw Amsterdam strengthens image of well run HAL Fleet. We took a previous cruise with HAL on the Westerdam in 2007 and enjoyed the service, efficiency and numerous stops. So when tasked with planning a family reunion vacation, HAL was a quick pick for us. We knew what we were getting and our family wouldn't be disappointed. The Nieuw Amsterdam was HAL's newest ship and was just coming on stream in the Caribbean. Would they have worked their kinks out before our Jan 9th sail, as had been reported by other Cruise Critics? We flew to Fort Lauderdale the night before and stayed at the Westin Diplomat Resort. Its a little far from Port Everglades but we scored a great deal on Hotwire (125 a night) and booked enough rooms for our party. All I can say is wow! What a spectacular hotel! After the Westin spoiled my group, I was almost concerned that HAL might not be able to match up. I needn't have worried. We checked out of the Westin at around noon and leisurely made our way to the boat. The Nieuw Amsterdam was at terminal 26 and looked glorious as we drove up. Embarkation was absolutely seamless and we were in our room before you could say Queen Beatrix. Our family all booked the base verandah room, which was nice but tight for four people. We had young kids so we decided to upgrade for more space, with another HAL promotion we were able to secure room 7049 a deluxe suite with over 500 sq feet right across the hall from the Neptune Lounge. An absolutely phenomenal room, I've included a photo of our balcony on Joanie's website. Gorgeous patio and monster bathroom, with a wonderful adjacent powder room. The powder room was big enough to accommodate a standard collapsible playpen (joanie, please note ;) and this created a nice buffer zone for putting down our two kids. I highly recommend getting the bigger room if you have small kids, as you have the opportunity to enjoy dinner in your room more and won't be crammed. We took to the included nightly appetizers option in our room, starting at 5:00 p.m. and they went well with the bottles of wine my husband brought on board. HAL lets you bring on as much wine as you want so my husband brought a case. (The box ended up being used to store the 4 gift bottles of Champagne that each of our rooms received. We ended up shipping the box of Champagne to room 7049 for the Jan 16th sail date. Let us know if you got them! We don't drink Champagne.) Dinner on Sunday night was scheduled for a 5:45 p.m. early seating, but by the time our group got its act together we were stuck taking in the As you Wish dining on the second floor of the Manhattan dining room. We we're likely between seatings and so things went a little awry with a bit of a wait between courses. It seems every meal in the MDR was above par. Great taste and nice presentations. My husband ordered multiple entrEe's and they were brought promptly and laid in front of him like a personal buffet. The desserts were a stand out. The Dutch never miss the most important course of dinner. They had a solid "no sugar added" menu attached to the dessert list. That worked well for my husband who was avoiding sugar. All of the stops were great. Grand Turk started out the week with a bang. Perfect weather and only one other ship, which left as soon as we got there. Our gaggle of kids enjoyed Jimmy Buffet's pool, not sure my coke purchase covered our stay. San Juan was a lot of fun, nice walk around the west side of San Juan, don't bother with the free tram. Some of our group took the Rain Forest tour. It seems they all came back happy, and had great photos. Wednesday dinner was once again phenomenal, but I remember thinking to myself how this was the saddest day of the cruise as we were closer to home than to the beginning. Well, still not as sad as disembarkation, but close. Saint Martin was beautiful as usual, really hot and great shopping. However there were 6 boats in port including Allure of the Seas which really packs them in. The dock was a bit of a madhouse compared with past cruises, but really nothing to complain about. Friday, our last sea day, was fun as we planned a birthday party for our daughter in our room over the lunch hour. The Neptune Lounge staff did a great job of organizing this for us, even sending out invitations to our guests on our customized letterhead. Our family all showed up at about 5 to 12:00 and just as I was getting concerned about our food's arrival a seemingly unending parade of apps, lunch, desserts and cake arrived. The cake was amazing, though not too kid friendly. No complaints though, as Neptune waived all of the birthday charges and costs for additional guests at our party (app service is only for 6 guests). Friday dinner was the cruise standard Surf avec Turf, however again it was better than I remembered on Westerdam or the Celebrity cruise. The lobster tails were larger and tastier than other cruises and the steak was just as good as other nights that week. I usually would have ordered the jumbo shrimp as an appetizer but they sent a school to my daughter's birthday and my guests didn't eat too many...can't waste good shrimp! The chocolate and dessert buffet at ten pm was much superior to the last time I was on the Westerdam. I especially was impressed with the wall of custom Candy Apples. My husband also got a bridge tour from the Captain on Friday. He enjoyed it and was impressed to find out that the Captain personally moored the boat at every port, using the controls that were in the bridge that are present on each side of the bridge that jets out a little and has a glass floor. Half Moon Cay was the finale and our most anticipated stop. We secured the 4th Cabana (orange) about 6 months before sail date as cabana's were a hot commodity last time we cruised. On future visits to Half moon I would recommend getting Cabana 1 instead. Having the cabana was ideal for our shore lunch and putting our toddler down for a nap in his playpen. It warmed up in time for an afternoon swim, which was great cause we had snorkel gear for four included in our cabana rental. Our cabana was a short walk from the bbq food area, which was better than I remembered...they added a tasty steak to the menu. Hot steak on fine china, beachside? Nice. Only complaint for this stop was that with the second ship (Westerdam) it was a little crowded at tender-time for the return. If you miss the 1:45 p.m. tender you might as well stay at the beach and relax, the next tender isn't leaving till 2:20 and there is lots of room. This stop was designed I'm sure with the customer in mind. What do some guests often do when they get to a stop, they disembark but usually come back for Lunch and occasionally go back off the ship to finish their stay. Half Moon solves this problem with the awesome shore lunch/buffet. Providing your customers with all of the beach services they desire with a swipe of their room card is another amazing feature of this stop, including the new Captain Morgan Pirate ship bar. Half Moon may be HAL's greatest asset. Saturday night was the infamous Baked Alaska parade dinner. They even had a sugar free version, which my husband claimed was better than the real thing. Since we had an early lunch on shore, we decided to do an early dinner at the flex dining, and this time HAL nailed it. Everything came out fast and they even accommodated our big group of 16 with tables right beside each other. Sunday morning back at port started the same way with breakfast in the room and Lido. We had a nice get together at our usual table in Lido before getting off the ship. We asked for the last departure time 10:00 a.m. as we had no rush to our flight. At 10:00 our normally accommodating porter seemed a little less accommodating in his suggestion that 10:00 a.m. was the last disembarkation time (hint hint!). We complied and finally made our way down, though we probably could have chilled out in the Lido a little longer (note to self for next time). They want you out of your room by 10:00 am for the weekly full turnover, but there is no point going and waiting in the ghastly Fort Lauderdale airport. I'd recommend chilling out in the Lido, or if you are a suite guest stay in the Neptune. With the amount of traffic going through FLL you'd think they invest some money making it a little more accommodating. From their perspective I guess why would you care, Port Everglades isn't going anywhere. Oh well, Monopolies are hard to break. Some miscellaneous thoughts: The Museli is amazing for breakfast. The coffee is best in Neptune Lounge, as reported by other CC posts. The Pinnacle serves a great breakfast to Suite guests. I missed the Dutch late night buffet on the Saturday, but I hear it was good. Eating dinner in your suite should be done more often, especially on port night. We had a quick lunch in Pinnacle one afternoon, and the steak was spectacular. Blue cheese crust is a perfect balance of spark and tang. Worth doing at least once. The shows were well received by some of the older members of our party, but not the younger. A.J. the Magician was loved by all though. Conclusion: The heavy criticisms posted are NOT founded in reality. HAL delivers a solid cruise with fantastic food. Their stops are well planned and their private island is the envy of the industry. For the price Nieuw Amsterdam is well worth sailing anytime. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Water Spouts and Double Rainbows!! ms Nieuw Amsterdam 28 November 2010 - 5 December 2010 Western Caribbean We flew into Ft Lauderdale 2 days early and left the day after the cruise ended. I have to say that for the first time ... Read More
Water Spouts and Double Rainbows!! ms Nieuw Amsterdam 28 November 2010 - 5 December 2010 Western Caribbean We flew into Ft Lauderdale 2 days early and left the day after the cruise ended. I have to say that for the first time ever, I am still in Cruise Mode still. Normally my cruise mode ends when I have to start packing for disembarkation. This time it began as hubby locked our front door and is still ongoing. We booked our own hotel and stayed both pre and post cruise at the Sleep Inn in Dania Beach, a great hotel and in great condition. Embarkation: We boarded the Hotel Shuttle for the short 20 minute ride to Port Evverglades at 10:30 a.m. and arrived there at about 10 minutes to 11. The doors were not opened yet and the line was fairly short, approximately 25 people in line. Went and picked up my rental scooter from Special Needs at Sea located just outside the terminal door and whipped that baby into line. Sitting there in line I started looking around, when I happened to notice the couple ahead of us. The gentleman had this tube, like you put a poster in. My mind was going crazier than normal, trying to figure out why someone would be bringing a tube onto the ship, instead of the other way around..... After about 2-3 minutes of indecision, I had to ask and said to the gentleman ahead of me, "Excuse me sir, I do not wish to be rude, but what the heck is in that tube?" He replied with, "A banner." The gentleman's wife almost immediately turned to me and said, "Joanie?" I kind of gave a really DUMB stare and said, "Yes..... And you are???" To which she replied, "Joanie, that's YOUR banner." Again I stared stupidly at her and the tube before it dawned on this old dumb blond... This has to be alacruisers!!!! Members of our Roll Call and my fellow Cruise Critic Meet & Greet Hosts Before I could say another word, from the folks directly behind hubby we hear, "Joanie!!!" turns out to be more CC folks, benchmarklearning, Ben and Sid! And from directly behind them is another fellow CC member and his wife, ALSO M & G folks, Quiznos!!! Now just how weird is that?? So the doors to the terminal open after about 10 minutes and we are all just chatting away when we get to the doors and hubby remembers that we are Suite guests so we get the priority line, he states this to the Shore OPs and they asked who and I say, "We are all together." We all got the Priority Embarkation and were first on the ship Also helped I am sure because I am Handicapped. One of the few times I do not mind that fact. So we then go directly to the MDR, where we were floored by the absolute beauty of the ship and the Dining Room. We were prepared to be disappointed in the decor, the colors and the noise, NONE of the previous were true for any of us. So the better half of alacruisers (love ya Cliff *Grin*), Kathleen and I went to the front Desk to verify all of our M&G details were in place and as we are there from behind us we hear, "Joanie??" LOL, another CC member, roadbeagle is there getting new key cards since they had been on the previous week and had changed staterooms. Kat and I went back to the MDR to eat our lunch and then went to our staterooms which were available shortly after we returned to the table, so I'd guess around 12:30 or so... I did not note the time as we were having such a great time getting to know one another. As soon as the announcement was made that Staterooms were ready we made an agreement to meet in our Stateroom for a Sail Away Party. (We ended up having 3 or 4 of them) Stateroom: Our Stateroom, SC 6164 was definitely the perfect choice for us!!!! We absolutely loved it!! It was extremely spacious and the Aft Wrap Around verandah was to die for!! As I put it to everyone that saw it, this was MY Penthouse!!! Side note to Lorraine, THANK YOU!!! You were so right!! I made the right choice) The King Sized bed was amazingly perfect, as always, the furniture was perfect in decor, color and layout. TONS and I mean TONS of closets, drawers and Hangers!! The safe was large enough to put hubby's Laptop, my purse and my camera in it and still had room to spare. They were number coded so you put in whatever 4 digit code you wanted and voila. The HD Flat Panel TV was located on the desk and is in a spot that makes it a hindrance to using the desk for your lap top, but hubby did manage. By The Way, IMPORTANT NOTE HERE regarding the Remote Control for the TV, THEY SUCK!!!! Hard to change channels and volume. I guess when you buy a TV from a company called Sole you have to deal with a bit of problematic..... Thw coffee table was in the lowest position possible and we could not figure out how to raise it, asked the stewards and they popped it up for us (something to do with placing weight on the ends that made it work). The dressing room had a box type foot stool, our stewards stored the mini bar contents in it and we used the one in the main stateroom as our dirty clothes hamper. The dressing room had one 220 volt and one 110 volt outlet between the vanity top and the mirror on the right hand side. There was also the regular HAL lighted double sided make up mirror, vanity jar of cotton balls and in the top right hand drawer there was the blow dryer. The bathroom..... You must step up about 2 to 2 & 1/2 inches to get into the bathroom. On the immediate left is the full shower stall with shower curtain, wonderful hand held shower head and the obligatory 3 Elemis Bath Products. Connected to the shower is the Jacuzzi Tub which is approximately 18 inches high both inside and out (sorry guys, had my measuring tape, but forgot to measure anything... DUH) but it was super easy to get in to and out of the tub. It also had the hand held shower head and the Elemis bath products. WORD of WARNING!!! The Bath Gel has Eucalyptus in it and gives certain body parts a real tingly sensation I used it once and said never again!! We had Double sinks with the Hot and cold faucets opposite each sink. In other words on the sink closest to the toilet the Hot Water Faucet was nearest the toilet on the sink closest to the door the Hot water faucet was nearer the mirror. One thing we noticed to the right of the toilet is a sign that states if YOU cause the toilet to clog up you WILL be charged to fix the toilet. (I have photos, but hubby had to leave on a business trip and will not be home until Friday) The Verandah............. OMG!!!! OMG!!!!!!!! OMG!!!!!!!! It was definitely so worth the slings and arrows that I took the week before I left for turning down the Penthouse!! There was only one day that I was unable to use comfortably the side section of the verandah and that was leaving Ft Lauderdale and Half Moon Cay. The winds were hitting at 27 knots out of the front and port side (Topped with our speed of 21 knots....) They showed the diagram on the TV of the wind direction and the arrows were pointing right to the Port Penthouse. The rest of the cruise we were in total heaven!! Sat out there in our deck furniture and baked, had fun and enjoyed the views. Sailing: When we left Ft Lauderdale on 28 November the weather turned a bit ugly looking, to include a Water Spout way off our Port Side!! Ben, Benchmarklearning and hubby got photos of it. The rains came shortly after that and we all retired to our staterooms and other interests. Half Moon Cay... I did not get off the ship there as I cannot get down to the water or even through the sand so I made other arrangements with the Entertainment Director Brock, the Cruise Director Dan and the out going Bar & Beverage Manager JJ, to gain access to public areas of the ship to get photos (to include Club HAL) So I went on my own little phot Safari while we were there. This was also our first formal night. We had reservations in Tamarind and I was disappointed in the food, though I must admit that my horrible experience there is probably colored because I thought I was biting into an avacado slice, whcih actually turned out to be a large wasabi *Thought I was gonna die* Hubby loved the food!! Turks & Caicos.... Just before getting to T&C we went through a small rain squall qhich left a beautiful rainbow that started off the starboard aft side (about 1000 feet out) and ended about 100 feet of my verandah port side!! The water OMG the water was turned every color of the rainbow!!! I have photos that are gorgeous of it. I shopped in the Port area only of T&C so cannot address anything there other than it was my cheapest port..hehehe only spent $14.00. We again had a Sail Away from our Stateroom and OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!! We had 2 not one but 2 ABSOLUTELY gorgeous Double Rainbows in 10 minutes!!!!! One of them turned one high point of the island into the colors of the rainbow to the point we all thought we could almost see that Pot of Gold. I tried to attend the show this night but had to leave quickly after about 5 minutes of hearing the beautiful voices of Cantare' due to all the perfumes and colognes that permeated the Showroom At Sea There were 2 of us that had the same problem and I have no idea how long the other lady lasted before she also had to depart early. I did not attend any shows or bar venues because of the perfumes, so I apologize to all that want to know how the shows and muscians were. Hubby will do his review when he gets home and he can tell yopu since he went to a good portion of them. Sea Day: Hubby went down to the MDR at 11:30 for the Mariner's Brunch and I went up to the Crow's Nest for our M&G. Our cake, for 60 people, was comped by the ship *Thank You Brock and JJ!!!* and was absolutely beautiful and delicious!!! We had 2 couples celebrating 40th Wedding Anniversaries, 3 or 4 celebrating Birthdays and One Newly Wed couple so the ship did up the beautiful cake special for us. We had approximately 60 people in attendance and I think we all had a wonderful time!! My apologies to anyone wishing to use the Crow's Nest from 12 noon to 2 p.m. as the ship blocked off 90% of it for our exclusive use. BTW, if any of you are on the Oosterdam or cruising on her before the end of April, say a Special Hello to your Bar and Beverage Manager JJ. He is a GREAT guy and is quite a fellow for taking his last day aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam and attending the CC M&G. He left us for the Oosterdam in Grand Caymen, boarding the Ryndam through (I believe) the Panama Canal where he was boarding the Oosterdam on Saturday 4 December 2010. We had the Cruise Director Dan, Entertainment Director Brock and JJ as ship Officers in attendance at the M&G. We were supposed to have the Captain also, but there was a family emergency with one of the crew and the Captain was re-charting our navigation to Grand Cayman to get us in before we were scheduled so that he could get the crew member off the ship in time to board a flight in Grand Cayman to be with her family. Brock and Dan were an enjoyable couple of young men (mid 20's each) and are so very personable. I felt as if they were my grand sons and they treated us all as if we were family. OH BEFORE I FORGET...... I HAVE to give SPECIAL KUDOS to Roxy in the Neptune Lounge and the Carpentry Department!!! At around 11 a.m. I remembered that we had 2 CC members that are wheel chair bound... DUH, the old blond and old kicked in again... And we were having a Cabin Crawl after the M&G. No way could the wheel chair members access the Verandah in my stateroom so... I went to Roxy and asked if it would be possible to get an HC ramp fpr them. Well, there were none of the pre made ones available so Roxy got Carpentry involved and by the time we got to our stateroom, we had a ramp!! 1 hour service for sure on Nieuw Amsterdam!!!! Can we also say a smile and great attitude will get a lot done?? Grand Cayman, Cayman Island....... WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love that island and the people there!!!! We were there with 4 or 5 other cruise ships, though we only counted 5 in total, I'd been told by a local sales person that there were supposed to be 6. Ryndam was tendering from behind us, the other ships wer on the other side of the island. The waters for this port were a bit rough to say the least. I would be surprised if everyone of the tenders and life boats used by both the Nieuw Amsterdam and Ryndam did NOT suffer damage!! I went to port early, around 8 a.m. and returned around 11 a.m. so was lucky enough to either not realize just how rough the waters were or they were not that rough when I was on the tenders. I went to the tender disembark area with my scooter and they send me down to B deck via elevator where I got off the scooter and with assistance from 2 crewmen walked on, took one of the fold down seats just inside and they they lifted the scooter next to me. Same for going back to the ship. I had no wait either way. Hubby came back later in the afternoon and he was hot, hungry and had a slight headache from waiting in the line for almost 90 minutes in the hot sun and once on the tender as they approched the ship the tender took a wave and smacked his head against the tender. The tender is OK. Oh Yeah, so is hubby *LOL* We did have a fire alarm, which Krazy Kruisers mentioned, but fast response by ship personnel kept everyone safe when tender 16 took a hard hit against the ship and a flare went off and landed (I believe) on top of the tender. Cruise Critic members were aboard and will report in greater detail than I can. I have to say this for the Captain. He had a choice to make, abandon the Port altogether and make people very unhappy or tender in and pray the waters became less angry... Either way, he was in a no win situation. My belief is that he made the right decision. Speaking of the Ryndam, That ship rotated slowly counter clockwise so many times that I think I have photos of every outside stateroom and verandah from every angle!! At one point I swear she could not have been more than 500 feet from us aft to aft. Captain Mercer, our Captain was able to keep us in position by using our thrusters. We had reservations for the Pinnacle Grill this night, but canceled them because we'd received a notice that it was Le Cirque night and for an additional charge... I told hubby I'd rather eat at Canaletto instead. Went up to the Canaletto about 6 p.m. to discover you need reservations...... So made 5:30 reservations for the next night instead (none left for this night) and ate in the Lido Instead. I can only tell you my feelings of Canaletto and hope that your tastes are different than mine. I loved the taste of the food but felt that the pasta could have been saucier. I loved the Anti Pasta. Did not have dessert as I was full from dinner. Costa Maya: My New All time Favorite Caribbean Port of Call!!!! This year Costa Maya was hit with 4 major hurricanes which devastated, heck it wiped out the area!!!! Took them 4 months to build a new port just south of the old one and it is beautiful. The vendors were lots of fun to haggle and barter with (I spent more money here than anywwhere else combined). The ONLY drawback to Costa Maya is that when they rebuilt the port and put in the kidney pools for the free access to the cruise ship passengers is that they did not put in wheel chair ramps........ I talked with one of the staff and he did not even realize that until he went and tried to find a ramp. BUT, he was wonderful and took my camera and went and got at least 15 photos up close of the dolphins for me. We were a little late leaving the port because one of the HAL Excursions left late and arrived back late to port. I know there are several passengers who are very upset that their excursion returned to late to do any shopping. I feel badly for them and for the vendors, but what can you do?? Overall on a scale of 1 -10 with 1 being poor and 10 being excellent and perfect, I'd have to rate this cruise as an 8. Why only an 8 you ask? Because there were little glitches, such as: 1. Our Stateroom Stewards, Budi and Rudi were on their 1st week without the trainer(s) and were not aware of what all of the Suite Amenities were. Once I told them, they were great!! 2. We did not know that as long as the Key Card is fully engaged it shows up on some sort of electronic board in the stewards area that you are in the stateroom and unless you remove it to the point that the electricity goes off, they will not intrude on your privacy. I asked about our stateroom not getting cleaned and after the knowledge learned I arranged for them to clean our stateroom every day at 11 a.m. even if the board showed us as still being in the room. SO remove the card from the slot or arrange at the beginning of the cruise what time to have it cleaned daily. 3. There was a huge chunk of wall that had been knocked out at the entry to our dressing room. It had been done by the previous occupant and they were waiting on the replacement panel to arrive in Ft Lauderdale to replace it. 4. Perfumes in elevators, showrooms and other areas of the ship. Nothing HAL can do about that short of banning all passengers and crew from using perfume items, and that is an impossibility!! But PLEASE HAL talk to the Sommalier about his bathing in the Cologne!!! His was worse than anyone I smelled 5. No Oasis on this ship (reminder to self, remove the Oasis from Nieuw Amsterdam, Eurodam and Oosterdam as there is no Oasis on these 3 ships.) 6. Food is not an important thing for me when I cruise, but the quality was not up to what I've experienced on Oosterdam and Westerdam. It was good, it was hot and I liked it, but the other 2 ships I loved the food except in Pinnacle Grill. But, Food is subjective to personal taste. So as a final note, the ship is in the final stages of all the trainers leaving Nieuw Amsterdam. Also on the Code Red status that we have all read about from previous cruises. According to JJ, Dan and Brock, the ship has NEVER been in a full Code Red! What actually happened is that the last 10 days of the Trans Atlantic several people did become ill, and as a precaution they went into Code Orange until Ft Lauderdale. The very first Caribbean Cruise 45 people were on a bus coming back from an excursion when one gentleman became car/bus sick or reacted to something he'd eaten. They quaranteened all 45 passengers. Well, a great number of those passengers violated the quaranteen several times, so the ship had no choice but to go into Code Orange once more. I did see security escorting one older lady from the Aft Lido Pool area on Saturday December 4. She was not noisy, rude or crude, she was being a lady. She had just come out and laid in a lounger and less than 5 minutes went by when the head of Security came out and walked to the aft railing, he then walked back top one of the Bar Stewards standing next to me and then went to the lady and as he was escorting her out of the area I overheard him gently chiding her for being out of her stateroom. I assume she had shown signs of illness. Anyway, that is my review of my cruise on Nieuw Amsterdam and I will be back on her again SOON!!! I promised all our Cruise Critic Members and the HAL Crew that I would also post the link to my Westerdam Cruise Review... Duh... Here is the link guys and Gals now you can read in graphic detail my Finger incident http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1151266 Joanie Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
This is our third cruise overall, and the first on the HAL ship. We are Polish/American couple in our mid thirties traveling with two daughters 7 and 10 years of age. Embarkation went very smooth, and took no more than 20 minutes. Our ... Read More
This is our third cruise overall, and the first on the HAL ship. We are Polish/American couple in our mid thirties traveling with two daughters 7 and 10 years of age. Embarkation went very smooth, and took no more than 20 minutes. Our ocean view stateroom was ready for us immediately after we had arrived, and we were welcomed by our stateroom steward. Luggage came a little bit after. Stateroom F1010 bigger than Europeans competitors was our best and nicest cabin with many extra storage places. Cabin steward and his helper did great job every day and never on our way! We almost did not feel a ship movement or any sounds. Only one complain about stateroom was a thermostat, it seemed not working properly, keeping us too cold. We asked to service that, but only the temperature was measured, and we did get extra blankets, thermostat was not fixed. MS Nieuw Amsterdam is a truly beautiful virgin vessel with its glamour and splendid NYC style decoration. Public areas dEcor is very tasteful and kind of modern compared to Costa or Carnival interior. Ship itself is very clean and spotless. Elegant glass outside elevators with detailed (7 days) floor mats changed every day, to remind you the day of the week. Large and beautiful theater "Showroom at See" offering live band, magician / comedian, and Broadway style shows - dancers / singers (we are Vegas style show fans but it is a subject for individual taste). Atrium is smaller comparing to the ones on the ships we were before (Costa Fortuna) but still nice. We enjoyed every place on the ship that seemed to be not crowded at all, very nice people all around you, plenty of room everywhere, quiet, nice.... Even on sea days there were no crowd, chair by the pool at sea days - no problem, no lines to stations at Lido Buffet, no waiting by Reception Desk. Nice heated mid ship pool and hot tubs with sliding roof make this area fully usable for 24 hours a day, sun or rain. Aft lido louder a bit with live music and pool games. Food very tasty and many varieties every day in a restaurant or buffet. Fresh squeezed orange juice, ice cream, food varieties from different World regions and amazing Sweet Extravaganza. First time on Half Moon Cay made a very nice impression, lovely beach, great BBQ lunch and varieties of excursions. Grand Turk beautyfull "cruise only port", beach and Margaritaville. We took an island tour, we saw nicest places. The most picturesque was a cliff and old lighthouse on the other side of the island. Rough sea in Caymans made tendering a little hard, but the captain decision was to give us an opportunity to see that beautiful place. Costa Maya that was an amazing experience. Chacchoben - Mayan ruins, beach, and shopping break in little Village of Mahahual, all that with our private driver Eli. Working hard Filipinas crew members were very nice greeting us almost every time we passed by, everyone very friendly, officers, front desk staff professional and helpful. Most of the passengers nice, retired couples made the atmosphere very quiet, classy, and elegant with no crowd. We really enjoyed that specially after our last cruise on MSC Poesia with 3,300 passengers including 900 kids. It was our best cruise, and will definitely sail with HAL again. We truly recommend that line to mid age couples looking for some quiet and elegant atmosphere with American standards. Go Nieuw Amsterdam!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We are a couple in our early fifties and have cruised a few times with most of the major lines over the years. We traveled with friends of the same age who are first time cruisers, our 24 year old daughter and her 78 year old grandmother. ... Read More
We are a couple in our early fifties and have cruised a few times with most of the major lines over the years. We traveled with friends of the same age who are first time cruisers, our 24 year old daughter and her 78 year old grandmother. We booked two staterooms that were the lowest level balcony guarantee and one inside guarantee and received aft balcony cabins 6177 and 6179 with adjoining balconies and an inside cabin directly across the hall. We were very pleased with our assignment and the fact that they were able to keep us together. This was our first time on Holland. Our most recent cruise had been on Celebrity Solstice and we found HAL to be similar in many ways to Celebrity. We arrived in Venice one day pre-cruise and spent our first night at Hotel Olimpia near Piazza Roma. The next day we wanted to spend as much time as possible in the city so we left our luggage at the hotel until around 4:30 p.m., walked to the People Mover and were on board the ship within minutes. At the time we arrived there were no other passengers in the terminal so we were able to walk right on with our luggage arriving just after we found our staterooms. The staterooms were spacious with plenty of storage. The beds were comfortable and we especially enjoyed being able to open the balcony partition between our two cabins for even more space. Our cabin stewards were very friendly and kept our room tidy. We had one small issue with the air conditioning not keeping the room as cool as we like and after a couple of days they were able to make an adjustment and the temp was comfortable for the remainder of the cruise. Since the ship is new I am sure they are still working out some of the small issues. I pre-ordered two bottles of liquor, a wine card, coffee card and specialty dining reservations and all were in our room when we arrived. The only issue was that the wine card that I ordered was for 20 glasses and the card was for 10. One visit to the front desk and this was taken care of. It does seem that they are phasing out the cards as they had some trouble locating a 20 glass card but we found them to be a good value for wine by the glass. We were assigned anytime dining which worked well for us as we were in port until late afternoon most days. This was our first time without scheduled dining and we were very pleased. We usually arrived in the dining room around 7:00 p.m. and never encountered any wait. We especially enjoyed the fact that the Lido had many of the same entrees as the main dining room and when we did not feel like dressing for the dining room we still felt like we had an excellent dinner. The food in all venues was among the best we have experienced on any ship. We dined in Tamarind for our daughter's 24th birthday and thought the meal was wonderful. If the cruise had not been so port intensive we would have definitely visited this restaurant again. The seafood lunch buffet in the Lido on the last sea day was especially good. The entertainment on board was enjoyable. We did not attend a show every night but the ones we did attend were entertaining. We spent some time in the piano bar and enjoyed having drinks in the evening in the various lounges but usually were in our cabin by 11:00 each night. We are all non-smokers but had no issues with the smoking policy on the ship. We never noticed any scent of smoke with the exception of a very small section of the aft pool dining area or the casino. We did not book any of our shore excursions with HAL. I am sure they were excellent but we prefer small group sightseeing. I used my research on this site and booked private excursions for our group of 6 at all ports and we were very pleased with all. I can only think of one thing that I was not pleased with and that was the internet service. I purchased the smallest package which was $50 +. I had a notebook and attempted to connect and spent about 20 minutes logging into one site. My patience wore thin and I never attempted again. I brought it to stay in touch periodically with our offices but we managed to get by without and wished I had not wasted the money. Debarkation in Barcelona was just as easy as embarkation. We walked directly off the ship, found our luggage easily and were out of the terminal in 10 minutes. Thanks to the wonderful crew and staff of the Nieuw Amsterdam for a wonderful vacation! Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
We got back from our Venice to Barcelona cruise last week and still have the glow. Our experience was excellent and initially concerned with have interior cabins. Recommend doing this if you want to save some money for on-board wine and on ... Read More
We got back from our Venice to Barcelona cruise last week and still have the glow. Our experience was excellent and initially concerned with have interior cabins. Recommend doing this if you want to save some money for on-board wine and on shore excursions since you are rarely in your room. * Baggage limit: None on the ship but if you travel from the US to Venice with no lay overs, you are limited to 1 bag each weighing less than 50 pounds! They are sticklers but most carriers will charge you $50 more per additional bag. If traveling within Europe (stop over) careful! 1 bag per person or in our case 360 Euros more for our extra bag....ouch! * Venice arrival: We took the ATVO bus from the airport which dropped us off at the ship terminal. See the link below, 3Euros/person and buy your tickets in the machines where you pick up your baggage. Walk out the front door to the middle island and present your tickets. Bus runs every 30 minutes. (http://europeforvisitors.com/venice/articles/venice_airport_buses.htm) * On Board Dining: We went with the 5:30 seating in the main dining room which allowed us to see the shows at 8pm. The wine list was excellent and prices reasonable. I had wine almost every night and choose the 7 bottle package for $199. Great selection and recommend 2 on the list, the Martini Reisling and the Chilean Malbec. Food was top notch and service was excellent. Deky was our primary server, great and enthusiastic service from this primarily Malaysia crew. Don't forget to pack for at least 3 formal nights (men, wear the same thing, no one will notice) * Interior rooms - spacious, 2 big closets, regular American electrical plugs (3 prong), big enough for 3 adults, good sized bathroom with shower, sink and toilet. Plasma TV's in all rooms showing great movies for those who want to just relax with one channel showing the front of the ship and one pointing to the back. Fun to watch if you have an interior room as you come into port. * Excursions - If you are not the adventurous type, go with the HAL sponsored tours. In most ports, just climb onto the bus and let them take you where they want to take you. Our best days in port were the ones where we took the shuttle from the ship to the center of town and wandered around. Rome is a different story, we wasted 4 hours zigzagging after Trevi Fountain back across town for lunch. Went to the Vatican (very hot, take water to stand in line) but worth the visit then only 30 minutes at the Colosseum. It would have been better to have hired a taxi to go just to the places we wanted for as long as we wanted. This is the draw back of going on an organized tour. ** Overall experience on this 12 day cruise was fantastic and would absolutely do it again! 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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