131 Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam Family Cruise Reviews

Backgorund- ME 63 and DW 58. This is our seventh cruise in 14 months. Second cruise on the NA in that time period. we were in an aft Neptune suite. Embarkation - no waiting. But the guy directing us wouldn't let us go to the suite ... Read More
Backgorund- ME 63 and DW 58. This is our seventh cruise in 14 months. Second cruise on the NA in that time period. we were in an aft Neptune suite. Embarkation - no waiting. But the guy directing us wouldn't let us go to the suite counter check in since the regular counter had openings. Once there, we were told they would check us in, but we were in the wrong line. They obviously need to train the guy directing folks. Room was excellent. We had this same type room on our last NA cruise. The balcony itself is worth the cost. Food - MDR average. Not bad, just nothing we'd have to back for. Pinnacle( 2 nights) - great food, and love Le Cirque especially, although the menu is getting a bit tired. Tamarind( 2 nights). We could eat there more often. Everything is excellent. Buffet is OK. I surprised that you can't get soft serve there. It seemed to available some time during lunch hours. Once they were out, they were out. Odd. In all our cruises this was the first time we didn't have one, not that we didn't try on multiple occasions. New York Pizza - with no reservations we both said it was the best pizza we've ever had at sea. Nobody else even close. Entertainment - the band in the BB King room was one of the best we've seen on a cruise ship. We when about every night, because there was nothing else to do. We id try the Piano lounge and Mike was pretty good. But you can only do tat for a while. He was there 6 nights. Entertainment in the theater was horrible. Both of us tried a couple of evenings to watch. I would say it like nails on a chalk board, but it wasn't something we'd actually stay for unless we were made to it. That's our biggest problem with this ship. Entertainment options are really limited for us. Follow passengers. While we did meet some very friendly folks, most were in the much older range. One evening while introducing a show, the cruise director said he had to stay up late the night before because they didn't close down Northern Lights until almost midnight. They even had to close the main pool one day due to an "accident" one of gents had in it. All in all, it was OK. I have no complaints about the food or service or ship. We're just ready to be that relaxed, I guess. After a while, we got tired of resting. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
I can't compare HAL to any other line as it's the only one I've cruised on. However, my Mother was on almost every line available in the US and Europe. After she tried HAL she stayed with them and became a 4 star mariner ... Read More
I can't compare HAL to any other line as it's the only one I've cruised on. However, my Mother was on almost every line available in the US and Europe. After she tried HAL she stayed with them and became a 4 star mariner until her passing. She introduced me to HAL in 2010 and I was hooked. Since then, I've introduced cruising to my 3 grown daughters. This was my 6th cruise and my daughters 2nd with HAL. If you're looking for glitz/glamor, brass and glass, rock climbing or water slides, this is not the line for you. But if you want elegance, fine dining, and total pampering then Holland America is a must try. My middle daughter JN and I just got back from the Western Caribbean on the Nieuw Amsterdam (April 3-10th). We thoroughly enjoyed our trip and have not one complaint. Our embarkation was without issue and our cabin was clean and ready. We found the ship's staff extremely welcoming and helpful. We ate at the MDR, Lido, Pinnacle, Drive In, NY Pizza and Tamarind. All meals were exceptional. The only disappointment was room service for breakfast on disembarkation day. Our order was incomplete. Totally understandable as the staff is under pressure to prepare for the new passengers boarding. My daughter took advantage of the gym several times. She has a gym membership at home and was pleased with the amount of and condition of the equipment aboard a ship. We went to the casino, she found a quiet spot she liked (Silk Den), she went to the BB King show and had a great experience. My entertainment/destination is the balcony with a glass of wine and my feet up. For me, it doesn't get any better than that. We both absolutely love Half Moon Cay. Clean, everything accessible and the beach was our favorite. The lunch BBQ was very good. My youngest daughter is considering renewing her vows on Half Moon Cay's chapel in 2017. We checked out the chapel and it was ideal. Getting the clam shell on Half Moon was worth every penny and I'll rent one again next cruise. We booked an excursion to Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman. I was disappointed in the beach but, I'm spoiled by Half Moon. I found the beach to be very narrow and uneven. Hard to walk. The water there was clean and clear but you really need swim shoes due to the coral and rocks. In summary, I enjoyed the cruise and the Nieuw Amsterdam was all that I expected and more. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
This was my 21st cruise but my first with holland America. The Nieuw Amsterdam ship is rated 5stars and it deserves this rating. The best food of any cruise. The specialty restaurants, all of which we went to, were fabulous. The buffet is ... Read More
This was my 21st cruise but my first with holland America. The Nieuw Amsterdam ship is rated 5stars and it deserves this rating. The best food of any cruise. The specialty restaurants, all of which we went to, were fabulous. The buffet is hands down great. Florian, the food and beverage manager is a very dedicated man and was very approachable. We had a balcony stateroom #7025, that was very adequate. This is the only cruise line in my price range that allows smoking on the balcony. Not to worry for you non smokers there is only one place on the ship that allows smoking. Our stateroom attendants, Adhy and Kadek, went out of their way to make our stay the best. youdni, the stateroom inspector was great. He went over the top to the point of getting a scale for us to weigh our luggage. The shows, although not as glitzy as some other cruise lines, were super. Eric, the cruise director went out of his way to entertain us. Last but not least is Hal's, the kids club. We were with our 11 year old grand daughter and she spent a great amount of time at the kids club. In the tween room, Collete, Emma, Taylor and Natalie were all super. They made my baby's time with them a true joy. Thanks Holland America. We are panning our next cruise and it will be with you! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This was the third cruise for both my wife and me. All three have been on Holland America ships. Embarkation: The process went smoothly as expected. We had one hiccup somewhat of our own doing where our two children, 9 and 11, both ... Read More
This was the third cruise for both my wife and me. All three have been on Holland America ships. Embarkation: The process went smoothly as expected. We had one hiccup somewhat of our own doing where our two children, 9 and 11, both had low grade fevers. It took about 20-30 minutes to get a ships doctor into the processing area to evaluate our kids before boarding, but we'd probably wait that long in a typical clinic. Once we were cleared to board, our room was ready and clean. Service: I need to qualify that we made a number of requests that go beyond the ordinary for a cruise crew to accommodate. Our son has numerous food allergies. On the first day or two, they struggled to come up with food that avoided his allergens that he would eat. After they got the hang of it, though, they came up with numerous options, even desserts that he could have. They made sure we had the menu for the next day and could preorder. The wine steward had a new puzzle for the kids to figure out every night which made them feel special among a typically older clientele. Beverage service by the pool took a bit longer than we remembered from our previous cruise aboard the Eurodam. Requests for extra towels were answered in just a few minutes. One evening, our son got sick in the room and the room stewards were there within 5 minutes to clean up. In room dining orders were on-time. A request for an extension cord for my CPAP was fulfilled almost immediately. The barista at the Explorer's Cafe could remember both our names and our "usual" within a couple of days. When she'd see us in other areas of the ship, she knew our names. One of the dining officers not only got us into the upscale Pinnacle Grille (after being told they were booked), but was able to make arrangements so our kids could eat with us, stating "it's the least we can do". We had a few billing issues that needed to be disputed after the trip and a dress my wife sent off for cleaning had to be sent back. Otherwise, we felt the service was up to HAL par. The shows we attended were all great, from the "On Tour" group to the juggling comedian...or comedic juggler if you prefer. Half Moon Cay was again our favorite stop and all aspects went according to plan including our clamshell rentals, food and beverage. Grand Turk was the least favorite of our stops which also included Amber Cove in the Dominican (our stop in Key West was canceled due to a weather related situation). Amber Cove is beautiful and our excursion to Ocean World is one we will always remember. Communication was stellar. We never felt like we didn't know what was going on and the captain and cruise director went into technical detail as to why we could not leave Amber Cove until about 13 hours after our scheduled departure due to gale force winds perpendicular to the ship, which exceeded the ships crosswind maneuvering component. We had a beverage package included in our trip and never did see an unexpected charge for a beverage. I read another review about the fitness center being just a set of non-adjustable Precor machines. The fitness center had everything my fitness center at home has...free weights, treadmills, steps, floor mats and more than enough machines for a full workout. All-in-all, it was an excellent cruise with only a few things that prevent me from a full 5-star rating. Multiple HAL employees felt compelled to assist with our son's food allergy situation and our ad hoc requests were all taken care of. We felt very "at home" as repeat HAL cruisers and we put a deposit down for our next HAL cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We had a family group of 18 ages from 8 to 76. Everyone had a great time. There were lots of activities for all interests and age groups. The younger ones spent lots of time in the kids pool and Club Hal. While on board, the older cruisers ... Read More
We had a family group of 18 ages from 8 to 76. Everyone had a great time. There were lots of activities for all interests and age groups. The younger ones spent lots of time in the kids pool and Club Hal. While on board, the older cruisers played Basketball, watched March madness in the Sports Bar, played bridge, bingo, trivia [we won 3 times], saw movies, watched cooking demos, entered the putting contest and sang karoke. Off ship some shopped, others fed the sting rays, swam with dolphins, drove jeeps, and looked for Mayan ruins. Cruising is perfect for a large active family as we all met up for dinner. We had early seating for the kids but it worked out for all of us. Do Not plan on Open seating as each night I heard arguments from angry hungry people wanting a table and all were taken. We flew from Pittsburgh on Jet Blue at 7 am. BIG mistake. We got on the air plane, sat, got off the airplane. It had an oil leak...no parts available.... 6 hours later we were still waiting when the announcement was made that it would be at least 2 more hours. People who had same day cruises were crying. Several family groups did not make their cruise. Jet Blue as not helpful . We finally gave up and booked the last 2 seats on Southwest. I am still trying to get my money back from JB. We stayed at Embassy Suites on 17th street. Beautiful grounds with a nice out door pool. Breakfast was free and hot .Taxi's all over charged us. It does not matter what the meter says, The cabbie wants more. I had booked a service to transport the group to the ship. That went well. We all had cabins on deck 4. aft. I booked a year ahead as we wanted cabins that could house a family of four. The bunk in the ceiling is over the queen bed. Be warned that there is not much head room. Service was great. Each night one of our waiters made an origami item for each child. The kids loved it. The last night was a bunny for Easter. I like Holland America because of the atmosphere. They still have a walk around the ship teak deck, they still have towel animals, they still have turn down service and a chocolate on your pillow. It is just pleasant and civilized. The only problem was disembarkation. We were to be first off with our bags, Too many people crowded in our group with circular lines like Disney and later numbers trying to jump the line. It was a big mess. The Grand children loved it and are planning their next cruise. We had a wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
I title this "special cruise" because it was a burial cruise for my late husband's ashes. My 2 daughters, one of their husbands, and my two grandsons as well as a couple with whom we traveled were on this cruise. We each ... Read More
I title this "special cruise" because it was a burial cruise for my late husband's ashes. My 2 daughters, one of their husbands, and my two grandsons as well as a couple with whom we traveled were on this cruise. We each had Neptune Suite (other than the other couple), and the two Concierge in the Nepune Lounge were outstanding, Carena and Patricia. I reported to them upon my arrival on the ship and they were prepared to meet with me. The burial was to be the next day, and I was kept informed every so often during the day as to what time this special occasion would take place. When given the time, I met them in the Lounge and we were escorted to the Mooring Deck by the Security Crew. We had a very small ceremony, and it was so memorable. The staff on the entire ship were wonderful. The boarding process in Fort Lauderdale was very smooth. I like the way that the muster was conducted as you reported directly to your boat station. I do wish they would scan your card when you reported which would eliminate the room calling for those who did not report to the officer in charge. I was disappointed in the main dining room (both food and service) and ate there only once in a week. We were also disappointed in the food in the Pinnacle; however, on the other hand, the food was outstanding in Tamarind, and we ate there almost every night. I was shocked not to see that restaurant full all of the time. The meal we had in Cannaleto was very good as well--just a lot of food. Our family spent time on the deck, and it never seemed to be overcrowded. I spent a lot of time in the Windows 10 seminars, which were excellent. She is a beautiful ship, and the staff was excellent, particularly our Concierge and the staff at the Reception Desk. Disembarkation at the ports seemed to operate very smoothly. I would definitely sail her again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
I have been on over 14 cruises and this ship did not disappoint. Are they perfect, no, but for the price we paid for a verandah it was great. Hal adds back the little things other cruise company's have taken away. But really ... Read More
I have been on over 14 cruises and this ship did not disappoint. Are they perfect, no, but for the price we paid for a verandah it was great. Hal adds back the little things other cruise company's have taken away. But really one thing that we find makes the cruise really great is the food. Hal has not compromised on their food quality. You still feel like you are eating in a fine restaurant and if you like lots of time between courses, Hal is for you. We had select dining and we never waited more than 20 min for a table and often we just went right in. The cabin Stewart and all the staff were great. No waiting to get a drink in busy times on the ship because the size, and staff to passenger ratio, is also great. If you want crazy pool games and multi night clubs with the top 40 playing this is also not the ship for you. But if you like your cruise a little more civilized, and one night club and one blues club will do, you just might really like this ship. Even though she is about 6 years old, she has held her age well and she is just the right size. Finally, one of our favourite things about Hal ships is that you can stroll around the entire ship on the outside on a gorgeous teak deck. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
So to give you a brief, i've sailed with cunard and celebrity prior so this isn't my first cruise. Now. to say say what was nice?.... The ship is nice, the rooms have lots of storage and that is about it. We stayed in cabin ... Read More
So to give you a brief, i've sailed with cunard and celebrity prior so this isn't my first cruise. Now. to say say what was nice?.... The ship is nice, the rooms have lots of storage and that is about it. We stayed in cabin 8080. The room itself is nice and had a great balcony. The problem with this cruise line is that they ALLOW SMOKING ON BALCONIES! This is absolutely disgusting. Everytime someone went out for a smoke i had to leave my balcony to come in and take my child with me. I will NEVER EVER sail with this company again! Second, My mini fridge didn't work. it was keeping drinks warm. so i called, They kept telling me that this isn't a "fridge" but more of a cooler. Lets just say i told them if i kept milk in there i would be poisoning myself and to fix it.. so they change it out.. i ask the guy who changed it if he had tested it?... nope. so guess what.. it doesn't work, again another waste of time , dealing with guest services. finally for the 3rd time it finally is fixed. yes by now its on the 4th day! 3rd. The lack of staff in the main dining room really shows. So for the first week of our 2 week cruise we tried to eat in the main dining room. well we would get there for 5:15 early to get the first seat of the night and by the time we actually received our entrees it was closer to 7pm! yes.. absolutely ridiculous. especially when you have a 5yr old who is starving! people all around us were so mad they kept leaving before they received their desert and coffee so they could go catch the show. This happened on at least 3 occasions in the first week. Also my husband asked the drink guy. he says "excuse me can i get a drink. The guy responds "what do you want?" .. WHAT?? My husband says... did you really just say "what do you want?" so i finally complained. i wrote a long letter and the restaurant manager finally sat us in his section and then things got better. 4th. Walking through the hallway to get to the restaurant "we were in a rush" we see that they had put our pics up, so i grab my camera to snap a quick pic because they aren't always up and to view it later. The guy working there says" are you kidding me? what are you doing. so i tell him. there is no way i would ever want to use a pic of a pic to begin with but then this very disrespectful staff makes my decision to never buy a picture from this ship. They are so rude and arrogant. Who do they think pays their income? US! so i wrote to the manager of this department saying how rude their staff is. 5th. the kids place. I dropped off my daughter there from time to time for her to play with other kids. There were two staff working. The brunette and the blonde well call them. the brunette was fantastic. super friendly etc. the blonde. what a joke. i came up one time with my daughter to see what was going on, an hour left before they closed and she says "you realize we close in 30 min"... o really? is she not aware of the actual time? then my husband was 2 min late getting my daughter so she calls him and tells him that if he isn't capable then maybe he should find someone who is! Are you freaking kidding me! 6th. my bathroom overflowed on the last night we were there to make it a great memory of how this trip with this cruise line was. 7. my mom was inside room down the hall near the very back of the ship, for the first week she couldn't sleep because there was so much noise in the morning and at night of them dragging the loungers on the deck. absolutely no respect. as well they were doing construction on that same deck during the afternoon. so after her going down and complaining about all this they told her there were no available rooms. funny when i went to complain about the smoking from the balconies. where i never read any piece of info stating this ship had smoking in stateroom balconies or i would never have bought this cruise. they told me i could move to the 11th floor. well... funny how fast their lies came to surface when i walked down and said.. funny you say there aren't any rooms available but you just told me that there were???? This company lies and lies.... Anyways. the only people who would enjoy sailing with them is if they have no experience cruising. If you have then this is by far a very low class ship with no real customer service. like mentioned i've cruised with cunard and with celebrity and have had fabulous experience. and with this company it thought it would compare but in fact it failed miserably.. And yes, i have written to the company, i have written to customer services, spoken to everyone. hopefully they one day will rectify this cause its horrible! Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Embarkation was horrible.. Standing in line for one hour and 15 min. with only 4-5 agents who were being "trained" by another one standing next them. People were having to get out of line and go and find a wheelchair, because ... Read More
Embarkation was horrible.. Standing in line for one hour and 15 min. with only 4-5 agents who were being "trained" by another one standing next them. People were having to get out of line and go and find a wheelchair, because they couldn't stand any longer. And the one man in the area, said he couldn't leave his post to go and fetch a chair.. so the people had to leave the line and go find someone to get them a wheelchair.. Then, of course, they lost their place in the long line... Food was good, but the portions get smaller and smaller each year. Staff was friendly and helpful. Shows were mediocre.. music much too loud . The singers and dancers worked very hard, but the material they were given to perform was much to ultra-modern, flashy and loud! Piano bar in a room so small that it was hard to even get in, never mind find a seat! Ship was very rocky the first few nights... a crew member said that there was something broken or wrong, with whatever it is that stabilizes the ship. I'm more into the larger ships from now on with the bigger stabilizers! The Ship's corridors leading to staterooms were painted a dismal grey with black/white art work...Reminded me of the inside of a submarine or military ship.. very dreary looking! I guess I'm at the stage now, having travelled on RC Allure and Oasis that I prefer the newer, large ships with the fantastic entertainment, swimming shows, ice skating shows. Two nights on this cruise there wasn't even any entertainment in the showroom. Just the Lido Deck Party which didn't start until after 9 p.m..around 9:30 p.m. and the Marriage Show which didn't start until 10 p.m. If you're eating at 5:30 p.m..what is one to do for the two hours between dinner and showtime at 9:30 p.m.?? Overall, very disappointing cruise... won't be back on HAL again I'm afraid. Disembarkation was excellent I will say! Very quick and efficient! Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
I must state my point of view. As a "platnium" NCL Cruiser I've read all the glowing CC reviews of HAL & so had my expectations raised pretty high. We booked a 20 day Panama Canal trip with HAL & then decided that ... Read More
I must state my point of view. As a "platnium" NCL Cruiser I've read all the glowing CC reviews of HAL & so had my expectations raised pretty high. We booked a 20 day Panama Canal trip with HAL & then decided that if we took a 7 day Caribbean cruise on the same ship we'd have some familiarity for our longer cruise. My sister-in-law joined us for this cruise & we all shared the same cabin. Fastest & most efficent embarkation ever. Our Fwd veranda stateroom was ready upon boarding @ 11:15! Stateroom was smaller than I expected & the balcony was tiny. Freshened up & headed to the Manhattan DR. (Ashore a HAL employee told me the MDR would not be open but I had read that the MDR was no longer restricted to Star Mariners, so I went to check it out.). Sure enough we were seated at a nice table at the stern, by the window...lovely. Another couple sat at our table & we chatted away. As we placed our orders a single lady was brought to our table & so we were 6. The orders came & the other couple immediately complained that their orders were wrong. The soup was now a salad & the tea was coffee, the dressing on the other salad was creamy instead of balsamic vinegar. This was straightened out & then the main course came & well done was bloody. This couple were on the second half of a 14 day cruise, b2b, & commented that the Nieuw Amsterdam was not up to the usual high HAL standards. They were 3* Mariners, this trip would make them 4*, & they were disappointed in the quality of food & the poor diningroom service. As it turned out...we ate lunch, if not ashore, & dinner in the Manhattan DR every day. I found "Dine as you wish" is actually Dine when we tell you". Your choice is before 5:15 or after 8:00. No other times were available although I asked about today? tomorrow? how about 3 days from now...7,7:15,7:30,7:45,NO! 8:00? O.K. Every meal we joined others, or others joined us for dinner. The single lady joined us for all but one dinner. Every meal there was a problem was someones order, or it just didn't come at all. Many a HAL fan who joined us commented that they found the service lacking & not up to the usual high HAL standards. The food was good, not gormet, but about the same quality as any local restaurant. It's unfair to compare HAL's enertainment with the high quality of great entertainment you find on NCL. BUT, this had to be a new low. The only real quality entertainment was in the Piano Bar with the "Piano Man". The rest was really amateurish or just plain poor. The daily program was not delivered to our cabin on the first 2 days, showed up for 3 days & then forgotten about. Everything was alright, but not real good. "Not up to the (described) HAL stardards. I hope it improves for our Panama cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Time to get our cruise started. The shuttle to the ship arrived around 11:20 and it took about 40 minutes to get to the pier. Lots of traffic. Check in at the pier was quick, but there was still a little line up. Our cabins were ready ... Read More
Time to get our cruise started. The shuttle to the ship arrived around 11:20 and it took about 40 minutes to get to the pier. Lots of traffic. Check in at the pier was quick, but there was still a little line up. Our cabins were ready upon embarkation. The MDR was opened for lunch, but we skipped it for the Lido. I had the buttermilk chicken; one of my favorites and DW tried the hotdog at The Dive In. It was good. The fries are the same as those served at our local Costco. There was a medical emergency during the muster drill. A gentleman who stood in the back collapsed and had to be taken away from the drill. It' s amazing that even though the announcements ask that you not go to the lifeboat until notified, most people seem to disregard this notice and go to their lifeboat early. Sail away was on time and we entered the open ocean with wind and some noticeable swells. Dinner we decided to try the New York Pizza and we both enjoyed the thin crust pizza. The Lido has been greatly improved for evening service. The tables are all set with attractive place mats and cloth napkins with your cutlery appropriately placed. Water glasses are on the tables also and the Lido staff gladly fills and refill your water glasses throughout the evening. At the end of our meal, the Lido attendant offered to get us coffee or tea. Tonight’s entertainment was a performance by the BB King Blue's Band. It was excellent. We thoroughly enjoyed it and one of the performers did I an exceptional rendition of "Proud Mary". A great first cruise day. Day 2 found us waking and enjoying a full hot breakfast on our balcony. The availability of a full hot breakfast through room service is one feature that separates HAL from most of its competitors, and one that we enjoy immensely. This was a sea day and the winds and swells were still quite noticeable. Our day was spent exploring the ship and winning some money at the slot machines in the casino. We attended the culinary cooking demonstrations. I know that these are simply promos for the specialty restaurants, yet we still enjoy them. It was during the first demo that we learned of the new Pinnacle Grill lunch menu and the first roll out was on our cruise. This evening we dined at Tamarind, HAL's Asian specialty restaurant. Tamarind has always been our favorite and it did not disappoint. We had earlier recommended the restaurant to another couple and we're happy to see them dining there. At the end of the meal they came to our table to thank us for recommending the restaurant as they also truly enjoyed it. Tamarind is special for the wonderful ambiance. The staff excels in service, from a gracious welcome to remembering your name through the entire evening. The food is excellent, with many choices and its presentation is top notch. The food is always served at the correct temperature and is seasoned just right. Go hungry though as the recommendation is 2 appetizers, one main and dessert. Tonight's entertainment was the HAL singers and dancers presentation of Astoria. It was a typical cruise ship presentation. We noticed couples started leaving after 10 minutes of the show. Day 3 found us in Grand Turk. We had a light breakfast in the Lido. Yet again we experienced the much-improved service. Staff are available to bring you beverages, help you to your table and to quickly clear finished tables. The beautiful orchids are on every table. After breakfast we took to the beach. We had explored the island on previous cruises and decided to take advantage of the weather to enjoy the beach. Swimming amid the fishes is a wonderful past time and there were lots of fish to keep us busy. This evening we dined at Pinnacle Grill. The food and service was really good. I had the lobster bisque that had a nice deep flavor, although I would have preferred a little more lobster. My steak with béarnaise sauce was delicious and DW really enjoyed her planked roasted halibut with shrimp scampi. The shrimp were a little too salty four out taste. We did notice that many patrons were ordering the larger lobster tails and king crab legs. For those interested, the ship offers a 2-day behind the scenes tour of the Navigation Bridge, Engine Control Room, Laundry, Provisions, and Crew Areas for $150. Foodies will also enjoy Le Cirque, Chef's Table and Cabana Club Table special dining events. With four ships in port, San Juan was hot and busy. We went ashore to do some exploring and to take a tour on the hop off hop off tram. I wish to note that we are really enjoying the cabin’s interactive television. It is great to simply watch a movie when you feel like some time alone. The evening we spent on the rear deck 9 overlooking the lights of San Juan. We awoke in St. Thomas a few minutes prior to our room service breakfast. We have noticed that rather than drop the tray and swiftly exit, the room service attendant now goes over your order with you to ensure that it is complete. The specialty restaurant servers do the same, so I think it is a ship wide change. For us, we feel that it is another positive change. We took the Kon Tiki excursion and enjoyed it. We stopped at Honeymoon Beach, a most beautiful small and well cared for beach. Others told us that the water was warm for swimming. We decided not to go into the water as we were still dealing with sunburn we received in Grand Turk. Food wise, today was not a great day. For breakfast, we received a chipped coffee cup and a stained napkin. Pizza at lunch was burnt and was easily rectified by ordering another. Dinner at the Lido was a little disappointing. Baked chicken, pork belly or a white trout were the options. Vegetable options were quite sparse with roasted potatoes or twice baked potatoes. Rice was also available. It certainly wasn't a colorful meal and my twice-baked potato had spent way too much time under the heat lamp to be edible. Fortunately we were at that point in a cruise where a day of lighter eating was most welcomed. Tonight's entertainment was Tony Pace, a Las Vegas headliner who took us down memory lane with songs from today and every decade. The show was very entertaining and well received. After the show, we stopped by the Queen's Lounge to sample the BB King Blues Band. We enjoyed the evening. Sea days are always a great time to relax and enjoy the ship. We took in a movie in the Screening Room and did some shopping. Tonight was Gala Night and we decided to dine a la cabin. We used room service and ordered from the MDR. The surf and turf arrived quickly and hot and was quite enjoyable. I was a little surprised by the cruise director's announcement that it was Gala Night so don your formal gowns and tuxes and enjoy the evening. This message doesn't seem consistent with HAL's change to the dress code. We took in the evening show and dress was all over the map. A couple of tuxes and glittery outfits, but these were the exception. The lady wearing sweat pants and crocs was also the exception. Tonight's show was the NA dancers performing Marquee. Again, typical cruise ship entertainment. I really think that besides the sound of the shows being just too loud, it seemed that many of the songs were not appropriate for the singer's voices. Next up was Half Moon Cay. Prior to the cruise I was concerned that HMC would be crowded as the Zuiderdam was also visiting. It wasn't crowded at all. We spent the morning swimming, laying in the sun and feeding the fish. This was also the only part of the cruise that we noticed cigarette smoke. The couple next to us in the clamshell left the island when we had a thunderstorm and another couple who smoked decided to take over the clamshell. The evening we decided to try the Canalettto. It was delicious. The food was seasoned just right, was very tasteful and beautifully presented. We particularly enjoyed the beef short ribs and gnocchi. The beef ribs were quite tender and generous in size. The sea bass was moist and flavorful and the simple salad with lemon dressing was the perfect accompaniment. We enjoyed many highs on this cruise. Great service, good food and an impeccable ship. Our guaranteed balcony was a forward cabin with the steel railing. We actually enjoyed it as the balcony was a lot bigger than the standard balcony. Being forward meant we experienced more movement and we had a couple of windy days, a low for me who suffers from sea sickness. I didn’t get sea sick, but I think I will stick with mid ship on future cruises. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Having only cruised with Celebrity Cruise Line before we were a little apprehensive sailing with Holland America. We needn't have worried. Overall I would say that I just about preferred it to Celebrity but accept this may in some ... Read More
Having only cruised with Celebrity Cruise Line before we were a little apprehensive sailing with Holland America. We needn't have worried. Overall I would say that I just about preferred it to Celebrity but accept this may in some way be due to the fact that having sailed on the same class of ship for four years perhaps I'm just a bit bored with the same look, style etc. The ship was smart and well maintained, embarkation and debarkation both went well. The food, in my opinion, was slightly better on the HAL although I would have liked to have seen more variety. There didn't appear to be as much selection at breakfast than you get on the Celebrity but it was still more than adequate. Some reviewers have complained that as you cannot help yourself that the portions you get served are small. This is true however I found that you just ask for more and they give it to you so it really isn't a problem. One other area where Celebrity are better is that they have a coffee bar that serves different types of coffee in proper cups and glasses right up to midnight. I used this facility at the end of virtually every night. HAL have a bar that sells coffee in paper cups but only until 10pm which means if you want a coffee before going to bed you had to go back to your room and order room service. Stateroom was good with plenty of storage and the stateroom attendant was like a Ninja. If you left the room, walked to the lift, realised you had forgotten something and returned to the room, it had been cleaned !!!!! Demographic was a bit old but that may have been due to the time of year, we have never been on holiday at the end of September before. It wasn't exactly like "The march of the living dead", in fact most were quite spritely however I'm 54 which, let's face it, isn't young but I felt like a teenager compared to most of the other passengers. The overall age group on board may also have been the reason why in the evening the main bars were empty and laking in any atmosphere at all. It was as if we were the only people on board at times. There were exceptions however. The BB King Bar was great, fantastic music and singers, my favourite bar. The piano bar also had some good nights as well. Entertainment was poor. On introducing the comedian they mentioned that he had written for the BBC, I think they meant to say that he had written TO the BBC. He was poor unless you like material from the 70's. The only funny jokes we're recycled Tommy Cooper classics. But like the dancers and singers in the shows you can understand why they are working on cruise ships. But good luck to them, they are making a living. The quality of the tours were the same as on the Celebrity, probably because they all use the same shore organisations. What I didn't like about HAL is that if you cancelled your tour you were charged a 10% cancellation fee however if you cancelled less than three days in advance you had a 100% cancellation fee. On Celebrity you could cancel without charge unto 24 hours before the tour. Drinks package is not worth it. This was the first time we didn't take it and we saved money and still had a drink when ever we wanted. Transfers if your port is Venice - DON'T BUY THE HAL TRANSFERS. The transfers cost £126 per person, so £252. We bought them as we were told that this was "door to door" - yer right !! When we arrived in Venice we had to walk with our cases for about 15 minutes to reach the coach. We later found out that a taxi would have cost 45 Euro total each way, a saving of around £180 probably. Despite any negative comments I have made above, we did enjoy the cruise and overall I would say that our experience was just slightly better than that we have had on the Celebrity Line but only by the smallest of margins, not a lot in it at all. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Our group of four (two in their 50's/two in 80's) travelled to Venice to start our cruise. Everything was smooth from the start. Weather was beautiful. We enjoyed dinner most nights with second seating service provided by Gred ... Read More
Our group of four (two in their 50's/two in 80's) travelled to Venice to start our cruise. Everything was smooth from the start. Weather was beautiful. We enjoyed dinner most nights with second seating service provided by Gred and Erwin , both professional and very personable stewards. We also enjoyed the one night at each of the specialty restaurants. (Pinnacle/Tamarindo) I forget the names of the staff but all provided exceptional service and the food was excellent. We did our own things at most stops. Excursion are over priced for what you get. Our favorite stops were Istanbul and Santorini. One note for those readers looking for more of night life , this ship is pretty quiet after 11pm with this demographic . Overall we enjoy a relaxing cruise with our expectations being met and exceeded on most points. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Not a cruise line I would recommend. We chose this cruise because of the ports of call. But once on board were informed that two ports we had booked to berth in had been change to tender ashore. Two of these ports were cancelled because ... Read More
Not a cruise line I would recommend. We chose this cruise because of the ports of call. But once on board were informed that two ports we had booked to berth in had been change to tender ashore. Two of these ports were cancelled because of "rough weather", some experienced cruiser said it was absolute rubbish, compensation, 1 hour free drinks with 2000+ passengers. The third port to be tendered ashore was the port with the shortest stay, time to get ashore, a cup of coffee then queue up to tender back to the ship. Cabin cleaning was very superficial, no clean linen. Meals did not vary much with only fair quality. As for entertainment, you're better off to read a book. BEWARE compulsory tipping is deducted from you account daily, it is up to you to alter this if you are not happy with the service. Overall this equates to a budget line without the budget price. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We have travelled on a variety of cruise lines Ncl, Princess, Rcl and P&O and thought we would try a new line. We were very excited to be travelling on a 5 star line...what a disappointment! The good Large inside cabin, ports of ... Read More
We have travelled on a variety of cruise lines Ncl, Princess, Rcl and P&O and thought we would try a new line. We were very excited to be travelling on a 5 star line...what a disappointment! The good Large inside cabin, ports of call and the length of the stops. BB Blues singers and musicians were magnificient high energy and talented. Formula one tour was good. Drink prices were average and take advantage of the happy hours. Very efficient boarding and disembarkation. Arrived and departed ports on time and a smooth sail for the duration of the cruise. The bad Terrible food cold, under or overcooked and repetitive. Buffet serving areas were closed before the listed times. if you came back to the ship around 3pm following a day ashore or wanted a late night snack after 11pm the only thing to eat was room service or tortillas, burger or pizza every day this becomes very repetitive and unhealthy. Definitely not a five star experience. Entertainment does not compare with any other ship we have travelled on. Dire with the exception of the afore mentioned musicians. Most guest acts were 20 years out of date in particular the comedian. Very little entertainment activities during the day. The port shuttles offered by the ship were overpriced at 16 dollars for a 10-15 min journey. I wouldn't recommend this ship to travellers under the age of 55 as very little to do thank goodness we could spend most the time off the ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
The good: - service was pleasing and top-notch throughout the ship, but I felt that pool staff was considerably slow in removing empty plates/glasses; some individuals were better than others, just like on any other cruise line; our ... Read More
The good: - service was pleasing and top-notch throughout the ship, but I felt that pool staff was considerably slow in removing empty plates/glasses; some individuals were better than others, just like on any other cruise line; our cabin stewards were superb, but this is always hit-or-miss; - food was well above average, but portions have been substantially downsized; some of the appetizers in the main dining room were almost laughable (two dime-sized scallops one evening); build-your-own pizza kitchen by the adults' pool was really excellent; - cleanliness throughout the ship, especially in public restrooms; unlike previous cruises, I never saw a single used room-service tray waiting to be picked up on hallways; - Spa was decent -- nothing fancy, but the thermal rooms were nice enough; - Jeremy, on-board pianist at the Piano Bar, is a truly gifted entertainer The bad and the ugly: - we've always read about the predominance of older passenges on HAL, but had never truly experienced this issue in our previous cruises; this was most definitely a problem this time around, in what appeared to be the 80-80 cruise (80% of passengers in the 80-year old range); by and large these elderly passengers have a distinct sense of entitlement, move slowly and occupy tons of space, cut in front of lines; - The so-called cruise director; one rarely comes across such a useless individual occupying this type of position; well, unless you count "learming to use your Microsoft Office calendar" and "Salsa with host Sabine" as interesting activities at sea; - tenders: one of the most irritating systems ever devised in a cruise ship; you line up like cattle in a looooong hallway, just to receive a numbered card; after that you take a seat at a dancing hall with zero amenities and wait for your number to be called; no priority for Mariner-status or suite-level cruisers, no way to reserve a time-slot in advance; this must have been the idea of a Soviet-era planner; - let me emphasize that Jeremy the piano man was the only exception -- entertainment on the Nieuw Amsterdam varies from pitiful to non-existent; what an eyesore it was to see a bunch of ladies "learning belly dancing" at the Crow's Nest on at least three occasions. I felt bad for the hapless barman watching the scene and hearing the dreadful soundtrack. At night, all bars on deck 3 looked like ghost towns after 9:00pm; not a single source of music (not even Muzak) was available to entertain us on deck 3 after dinner; on two occasions the ship's "major" attraction was a musical show featuring... the Philippino crew. Seriously, who comes up with something like this and chalks it up as entertainment?!? How to please an audience with tastes predominantly adapted to a nursing home routine; - shore excrusions: waaaaaay over-priced and most definitely underwhelming; the interests and peeves of the elderly passengers just made them worse; on board shopping: not sure if it's a matter of laughing or crying; maybe both, unless you reeeeeaaaally like "replica sunglasses" or the sort of tawdry items that Bijoux Terner sells at airports; - little things, like the fact that Nieuw Amsterdam consistently docked at the farthest possible pier, even when larger ships took prime spots at every single port we visited; I didn't even bother asking about this because there would surely be some kind of lame and murky excuse along the lines of "berth depth" or "operational reasons"; in Santorini HAL clearly gave us the short end of the stick, with a late arrival of 9:00am and early departure at 3:30pm, then shamelessly blaming this on "Greek authorities", which for some reason appeared to be much more flexible with other cruise ships visiting the island on that day; our Captain then generously apologized for this "minor inconvenience" by offering each adult guest... a free glass of sparkling wine at dinner. Wow, how generous...tsc, tsc, tsc. - scheduling: what kind of cruise line manages to bring its passangers to Santorini on a constrained schedule (9:00am - 3:30pm) on the same day when four other major ships are visiting the island?!? I checked port-of-call website and learned that there were 13,000 cruisers visiting Santorini on that day, so you can imagine what a nightmare the island was -- not to mention the cable car lines. On the following day just a single ship was going to visit the island. It begs the question of what kind of useless staffer creates and manages itineraries at HAL (which changed a couple of times after we purchased the cruise); last but not least: by far (and I really mean by far) the worst and most disorganized emergency drill we ever experienced on a cruise; cruise drills are naturally annoying but this went several notches above (or below, if you prefer); if drills are a reasonable measure of survival in case of a real emergency, our odds of survival would be marginal, at best; My biggest regret? Having chosen HAL over Celebrity for this particular cruise, only because HAL's itinerary featured one additional day (12 over Celebrity's 11). Celebrity is not perfect, but it would have certainly offered us a better ship and a more interesting crowd to travel with. Bottom line? I don't think HAL will see us on board its ships any time soon. Never say never, because one day we'll turn 70 and then match HAL's prevailing demographics. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This was our second HAL cruise, and the first one was nearly flawless. On this trip, our group really felt like we were being gauged for extras or being sold more services. This took away from the relaxation factor of the cruise and was a ... Read More
This was our second HAL cruise, and the first one was nearly flawless. On this trip, our group really felt like we were being gauged for extras or being sold more services. This took away from the relaxation factor of the cruise and was a sore spot with us, so I am downgrading to just very good. My basis for "very good" (instead of average rests on the great service from most of the staff. The Main Dining Room, Room Staff and Security Staff were excellent as usual, and in our opinion, are the feather in the cap of HAL. Just as kind and helpful as could be, as per usual. And on this trip, the Front Office Staff was also great, and I think they have one of the toughest jobs on the ship, judging from the cranky/rude customers they had to deal with on a daily basis. Never ceases to amaze me how nasty some people on vacation can be to the hardworking and low paid staff. I did also note that on this cruise, there were multiple folks who had nasty accidents (falls) while in different ports. Several actually left the ship with their injuries, and several had to seriously curtail their activities due to stitches, wounds, strains and bruises. Busted noses, busted knees, splinted arms.... I have to admit, my group was on high alert, as looking up at all the beautiful old sites while walking on old cobble stones and irregular steps is a bad combination. We all had some very close calls and stumbles in different cities, but I am happy to report that we all survived unscathed. If you are unsteady, I recommend a walking stick or cane, and a steady companion who can back you up. We also felt that younger people were generous in their description of "easy walk" or our favorite "only 5 minutes to get there". We found that "5 minutes" loosely translated, usually means 20 minutes, 200 uneven stairs, and 80 degree heat, all up hill. When selecting shore excursions, stick to the easy exertion levels if you are challenged. We heard many complaints from folks who could not keep up. One of our party cannot walk for long, and we were very sensitive to this issue. This is also another reason we prefer private excursion tours, as they can easily cater to any physical issues and usually get a lot closer parking than a tour bus. Well worth it in the end. Herma, Francis and Irfan in F/B were stellar in every way, as were our Room Staff, whose names escape us at this point. Also,we usually eat breakfast in our room, and almost everyday we received a call making sure that the breakfast met our needs. It arrived correctly and on time every single day! We found the embarkation and disembarkation nearly flawless on this trip, with no lines whatsoever on either end. We were amazed and pleased. We arrived at 2:15, with a 3:00pm deadline. On Disembarkation, we were in the 8:30-8:45am time slot. Half our group carried off our luggage, half did not, all did fine with the exception of a damaged wheel on a suitcase. We stayed in a Verandah Suite, 8008, on the Nav deck. Room was great. This room is directly across from a staff facility room, so the door opens and closes all night long, and some staff members are a little loud. Generally this did not bother us, but might bother some. This room is also directly under the Greenhouse Spa, generally not an issue unless they are rearranging things at closing time. Room as promised, clean, neat. Glad HAL does not allow smoking in cabins any more. (But some staff do smoke in some of the service rooms, which can't possibly be permissible.) My big room gripe? Cabin neighbors who smoke on their Verandahs and or those who don't understand the concept of closing a door softly. Ours let their balcony door slam every single time, or those who "drag" their balcony furniture around. Petty, I know,I know, but it makes me nuts. Getting off my soap box..... We did not personally partake in any entertainment, but 2 of our group did, and overall, they enjoyed it. Apparently, a few hits, a few misses, but overall good reviews. We did peek in on the BB King lounge, and it sounded great. Show cast seemed really sweet. I only used the gym once, but found it to be nice, with good options. I like to also walk the promenade deck. We only took 2 shore excursions, as we try hard to avoid them. Both were well organized and delivered as promised. Both were more of a scenic drive with brief stops where you could go it alone or stay with a guide. We did "Nice and EZE" tour and the Provence Les Maurers (?) tour. We would recommend both, and the price was good. Generally, we arrange our own private tours through local guides, as we can customize the itinerary as maximize the time in port, for less money. We also prefer to avoid standing around waiting for others to come back to the bus. We also get to avoid the "herd" experience. Again, I know it's my personal issue, but I find that some people on the excursions are beyond rude, and it makes me nuts. On the above mentioned excursions, one man and his wife felt the need to carry on loud independent group comments and conversations as the guide was trying to give us the history, all while they stood smack in the middle of the group. We all know how hard it is to hear the guides on a good day, especially for the folks who may be hard of hearing or more elderly. This same man felt the need to make several scathing remarks about how the French wouldn't be here without Americans, blah blah blah. My Vietnam Vet brother-in-law quickly shut him down. Okay...getting off my soap box..... We were in port with a "megaship" on a few occasions, and the crowds of shore excursions were unreal, they were all over, and there were a ton of them. This occurred in Naples/Pompeii/Amalfi on a national holiday in Italy, and traffic was a mess. As a result, 23 passengers on a non-HAL excursion did not make it back to our ship, which left without them. They did make it to the next port. Luckily we did a private tour, and our driver was constantly being updated on traffic, and devised an alternate route for us. Tender operations were very smooth, very well run, no issues at all. They did a great job of handing out numbers and getting everyone smoothly loaded in. Again, very well organized on this trip. Staff was great, Security was on task and efficient. They seemed very helpful to passengers needing additional assistance. I will say that our group felt that everything was a sales pitch, and this was a big negative for us. Art "auction", photos, behind the scenes tours, Thermal Spa, spa products, etc. On the barbecue night, drinks were offered up by waiters walking around with trays of pre-made cocktails. If you say yes, beware...because if it is in a swanky plastic HAL cup, that cup costs $3.95 MORE than the regular drink. They fail to mention this until the bill comes. Items of tchatkes and souvenirs are always being hawked on the ship. It never ends. Loved being able to take many sunset shots from the 10th/11th floor decks, while lounging in chairs, watching the sun go down. We did not partake in internet service packages. They are as slow as ever, and still expensive. I would like to see HAL upgrade this and follow the lead of hotels with free wi-fi. Or at least improve the quality of the service, if for a fee. We relied on free wi-fi on shore, which was usually available and fairly reliable. Venice was probably the most difficult place to find consistent free wi-fi. The barbecue night was good, but the seating was chaos. And getting non-alcoholic beverages served took forever, we made 3 requests, then finally got up and went in to the Lido restaurant and got our own. Food was good, lines were really long. (They close one of the Main Dining Room floors on this night). I would skip this next time, especially if traveling with older or less mobile friends. Great experience: We booked a Cabana Club corner cabana on our At Sea day, and it was well worth the $115, at least to us. Lovely, quiet, clean, comfortable. Plenty of room for all 4 of us. 2 big double loungers, and a dining table and chairs for 4. We were given fruit, water, and Evian mist. They took our lunch order (although a bit late, it was after 1), brought us food, served champagne and then chocolate covered strawberries in the afternoon. All this was included. A few points: information on the pricing and booking of the cabanas was sketchy online, and we could not book until we were on board. This is the first thing I did when I got on board. (I thought they would sell out quickly, but there were still empty cabanas on the At Sea day.) The flier provided at the front desk seemed old, as some of the items were not in evidence. It stated that we would actually have a food spread at the cabana club, which we did not. It stated that we would be served ice cream, we were not. It stated that we would receive some additional Greenhouse Spa discounts, but we did not. While these are certainly not deal breakers, I am just pointing out that it was not quite up to date. That being said, still great. And nothing prevents you from going down to Lido and getting food/snacks on your own, but again, they do take your order and deliver to your cabana for no additional charge. *Note, the Lido cabanas are much smaller, and sit on the Lido deck right next to the other diners. Different experience altogether, not private, not open to the ocean. Spend the extra money and get the Cabana Club size. There is also an open area among these larger cabanas to sit or lay in the sun as well. Great place to quietly lunch, read, relax, nap in the (fully shaded) gorgeous sea air. Worth it! HAL allowed 1 bottle of wine for each person at embarkation, but we only brought one, from Barcelona. For us, they used the honor system, and did not actually check our totes, but instead they just asked us if we had alcohol. We told them we had one bottle of wine, but they never even looked to see what we had. We also found that we could pre-order alcohol online from HAL for our room, and honestly, pricing was not that bad, and the bottles were huge, much larger than we anticipated. And easier than trying to "sneak" it on board. We did not come close to finishing our Skyy or Jack Daniels. We also inadvertently brought more alcohol on board during shore excursions. (Not thinking, we bought souvenirs of Limoncello and Sangria in silly little souvenir bottles, which sailed right through security without mention). Only later did we realize what we had done. We also had a small mini bottle of wine for our after-kayak trip, bought in town, that we never drank. This too was brought back on board and never discovered. We ended up giving away much of the alcohol we had purchased, but as a plus, also did not spend much money on onboard cocktails. The drink packages are also a good way to save on cocktails and soft drinks, if you will consume them. We loved our Main Dining Room experience. I have a food allergy, and they were great, giving me a custom menu to order from in advance. Consistent service, quality and experience every time. They even had the chef make me a special dessert based on one that I really liked on embarkation night. Really nice! They never disappointed us, really great. We are all carrying the extra weight to prove it. We dined at Pinnacle one time, and it was not up to the usual par. First, it is impossible to book reservations for more than 2 people at a time online. So, if you have a larger group, you need to re-arrange the reservation when you get on the ship to get all people in your party at the same table. When doing so, the Maitre D was very "put out" and stated that rearranging 3 separate tables for 4 people into one table for 4 was going to be "difficult". (Really?) Somehow, he managed to survive this hugely difficult chore, lol. He was honestly the only grouch we encountered among the staff on this ship and apparently other ship staff are aware of his reputation. Interesting to note that on the day we actually dined, the restaurant was half empty, and service was still slow. Our prior Pinnacle experience was awesome, (save for the fact that they fed me my food allergen after insisting it was fine) but not this one. They were slow, dishes sat on the table a long time, and quality was iffy. It took over an hour to get one iced tea, and we still never got the tea for 2 others at the table. Food was brought to the table lukewarm, and one party received a really salty entree. The waiter argued with us on all points, including the salty fish. He lectured our friend that if she could not eat salt, she should have told him up front. (She CAN eat salt, it's not her fault they over-salted the recipe) Only when the chef actually tasted the fish did they admit we were right, but the waiter never apologized. Well over an hour after sitting down they then offered a substitute for the fish. We had had enough at that point and were ready to leave. I actually timed the service issues on my phone, once service started going down hill. He argued with me about how long it took to get the tea. This was caused by his misunderstanding...he sent the wine steward to us for the tea. She was delayed, and when we told her we only wanted tea, she dropped the ball. Listen, we all have "off days", but being lectured and argued with at the table is not cool. They finally deducted two of the meals, but I had requested a refund on all four and did not get it. In retrospect, Tamarind was highly recommended, and I wish we had eaten there instead. In good faith, other cruisers we spoke to at at Pinnacle several times on this cruise, and did not have any issues. But I would be reluctant to eat here again. Main Dining Room was a great experience for us as usual, we will stick with them. We did not use the laundry service this time, although we have used it in the past and it is very good. We washed our own stuff in our room, as there is no laundromat on this ship. One of our group did use the bag service, $30 per bag, and he got his clothes back within 24 hours. Greenhouse Spa was good overall. I splurged big time and booked acupuncture, a pedicure, and a hot rock massage. The acupuncture doctor was really good, but came back in to the treatment room several times to pressure me to purchase $1000 more in treatments over the remaining days of the cruise. This completely ruined the "relaxation" treatment that I had requested. I work in the corporate world, so I am used to high pressure sales people, but this was way over the top. I had to literally stop her from "booking me in, just to save the appointment slot" on subsequent treatments. She literally had the port schedule in front of her, telling me when I would have "free time" to schedule these appointments. I should have actually requested a refund on this treatment, in retrospect, including the automatic tip. Additionally, the treatment room was right off the LIDO exit and elevators, being really busy and loud, and you could hear two separate PA/music systems being piped in. My pedicure was wonderful, thanks to Isabella. She was sweet, and the fire and ice hot rock pedi was delightful after all the walking around. I had mentioned the "hard sell" acupuncture appointment, so perhaps she laid off of selling anything. I highly recommend this, and Isabella was fabulous. My hot rock massage was EXCELLENT, and could not have been nicer. No sales pressure here, either. I highly recommend this treatment. *I booked all my spa treatments in advance online, because I wanted them to occur on At Sea days/mornings. Otherwise, I would recommend that you wait to book any spa services, because there are always discounts later in the cruise. Had I waited, I could have saved 20-30% for services, but again, I wanted very specific time spots. If you have more flexability, wait until you are onboard to book. My husband also had the hot rock massage, and loved it, but he was upsold on products, which he did not buy. I would have loved to experience the thermal room/spa/pool, but the pricing was exorbitant. Based on the spa service prices, HAL should allow you the use of the these features on the days that you purchase a full price spa treatment, just like every other spa in the world. $40 per day is ridiculous after spending $500 on spa services. Looked nice, but I was not going to pay for this. I recall that this did not used to be so expensive. Overall, a great trip, made so by the staff of HAL. Easy embarkation and disembarkation were a huge plus, very well organized. We really enjoy the size of the HAL ships, as it makes things more manageable and personal. We are averse to the megaships, just can't imagine being on a ship with 4000 passengers. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
If I had only one word, "Amazing!" We took a very early morning flight on March 21 to Ft. Lauderdale, as we wanted to have some flexibility in the event of flight delays, etc., so we arrived at FLL about 1015am that day, and ... Read More
If I had only one word, "Amazing!" We took a very early morning flight on March 21 to Ft. Lauderdale, as we wanted to have some flexibility in the event of flight delays, etc., so we arrived at FLL about 1015am that day, and got to our hotel,nth Marriott Harbor Beach, around 11am. We needed a few things so rented a car via Hertz...but the parking attendants and Hertz had communications issues, so it took over half an hour to rent the car. We used it to run errands, get us to lunch,band later in get us to the Jungle Queen Riverboat dinner cruise. We found the hotel to be very nice...we were upgraded to an ocean view room with a balcony, and we were able to see several ships, including the ms Westerdam, depart that evening. The hotel, as a resort, was crowded beyond compare. We were unable to find neither chairs nor umbrellas on the beach, as promised by our resort fee, and barely secured two chairs at the pool. Our two boys, 9 & 16, enjoyed playing the oversized chess pieces, while our daughter, 13, hung out with us at our chairs. After showers, we got into the car and headed up the road to the Jungle Queen. We could probably have walked, but the road was crowded and dangerous,neither no good place to walk. We paid about $7 to park, which allowed us to get back to the hotel relatively quickly at 10pm. Once it got started, nearly 30-minutes late, the cruise was interesting, as we saw many interesting houses. However the food was mediocre, but plentiful, and the entertainment, while billed as "family friendly," was anything but. More like PG-13, not G. I wouldn't bring my kids again, or recommend it for young kids. The next morning the hotel was knocking on the door by 840am, trying to get us to leave, and they offered us an additional 500 Marriott points, so we left just before 19am and took a taxi van to the port. A few short minutes later, we had given our formal wear and "shoe" bags, plus our case of water, to the stevedores, and began the check-in process. We had our ship IDs within minutes, After going through security and, as our eldest predicted, answering our "Ebola" questions. We were in the waiting room munching on cookies by 11am, and within half an hour, we were making our way onboard the ms Nieuw Amsterdam. We had last been in her in 2011, when she was less than a year old, and there were no signs of wear, we saw no blemishes or dirt. The ship sparkled. So we dropped our carry on luggage in our cabins, and hit the Lido for lunch. Yum! We then took the kids up to check out Club Hal, and then we returned to our cabins to unpack. We also had my in-laws onboard. They drove over that day from the Gulf side, and almost missed embarkation due to an accident on "alligator Alley" earlier that day...so even driving is no guarantee that you won't miss, or nearly miss a cruise. Next time they're driving over the night before. We had three adjoining (not connecting) cabins, 8019, 8021, 8023. Verandahs. We asked our room attendants to open the balcony dividers, so we ended up with a super-sized verandah! Our teens enjoyed the Teen Club immensely. In the past there were no organized activities, but this time there were, and it was a vast improvement. Our youngest just could not spend enough time in Club Hal, and with about 100 kids under 18 onboard, the same as on past cruises, there seemed to be better attendance at Club Hal. That means the staff was doing a great job connecting with the kids! Our first dinner was at the Pinnacle Grill. Excellent. We had never taken the kids, but they truly appreciated the amazing food and service there. Not to mention the desserts! Our dining room service was spotty. Okay overall, but not spectacular, and my FIL received a cold entree one evening and sent it back. The food, other than that, was very good, but the strip steaks didn't seem to be as good as in years past. We opted to do Holland America based excursions this time. We price shopped as best we could, and HAL was very competitive, so we opted for that, versus going independent, which we are not hesitant to do when the price is right. In Grand Turk we did the horseback ride and swim. The horses were pretty well kept, seemed healthy (I grew up on a ranch and healthy animals are your lifeblood.) the employees did their best to match horses and riders, and it worked pretty well. The best part was When they took the saddles off, put on water blankets, and we went riding in the surf. Everyone loved it. The next excursion was Ziplining in Puerto Rico. Again, a HAL excursion. We took a bus about 45-minutes to a state rainforest, then they outfitted us with our gear. Then a cable car up the mountain. Everyone received instruction and we commenced Ziplining down the mountain, on eight lines. It was a blast, and we all wanted to keep going! In St Thomas the next day, our group of seven all booked the HAL swim and snorkel excursion to Trunk Bay in St. John. We met a boat right at our pier, and that took us right to St. John, and along the way we received a running monologue on the various aspects of US Virgin Island history and politics. Then we loaded into a bus to Trunk Bay. The views were breathtaking, and right out of postcards! Those who needed it received instruction, and the others just got to snorkeling. At Half Moon Cay we went kayaking. More laid-back than the other excursions, but it was fun to see other parts of the island. We had an awesome guide, who loved his work! The weather started getting dark, and our tiny ship tender got tossed, but we made it safely back onboard the ms Nieuw Amsterdam later that afternoon. My MIL did fal and scrape her elbows on some uneven sidewalks at HMC. She was bandaged up and sent on her way. We had the Signatire drink package as part of our fare. We drank more than usual, much more, but we also had the option of requesting non-alcoholic drinks. We went to the following onboard shoes: New York--good, but we were expecting more classics like Sinatra(not that we are in that demographic!). We also saw the BB King Blues show in the showroom...very good! Everyone enjoyed Recycled Percussion the best...we were issued a drumstick, pot or pan to bang on, and earplugs when we entered the showroom. The last show we saw, and which we had gone to in 2011 was Canterra. The guys sang their hearts out, and we all thoroughly enjoyed the show. The only glitch was with disembarkation, and not the fault of HAL. There were only two Customs and Immigration agents available to process nearly 3,000 passengers and crew. Not enough, and we were barely comfortable getting to the airport. We did have a problem taxi driver (he was swearing f-bombs in front of our kids, wouldn't turn off the meter at the airport, and wouldn't follow the posted signs. We complained, gave the details, and within 24-hours, Broward County had brought the driver in and reprimanded him. All of us give a hearty "thumbs Up" to HAL and the msNieuw Amsterdam. Again. The only question is when we will be able to cruise again! Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
My husband was really wanting to book a spring break cruise, and this was the best price for a 7 night that was rated well. It cost a little more than we might normally pay, but we wound up having to get two rooms, so that was part of the ... Read More
My husband was really wanting to book a spring break cruise, and this was the best price for a 7 night that was rated well. It cost a little more than we might normally pay, but we wound up having to get two rooms, so that was part of the reason. We went out of Ft. Lauderdale, which is 37 miles from us, so we didn't need to stay in a hotel. As you go into the port, there is a security checkpoint, so have your cruise documents and identification ready to show to the person there. My husband dropped us off and then dropped our van off at the nearby Park-n-go (I think that's what it was called - they have these yellow vans that pick up and drop off every (it seems) three or four minutes). They brought him back pretty quickly. The check-in was very smooth. We were there at 1, and the majority of the people were already on the ship. The terminal is not as cavernous as the one in Miami, and doesn't have a huge waiting area like that one, either. Our rooms were ready when we got on. We dropped off our things in our rooms and then headed for the Lido, where they had a nice buffet. Everyone's luggage except mine was delivered fairly quickly. I called the front desk and they told me to call back around a certain time to see what was going on if it hadn't been delivered. They then had me go by the front desk and check in a small area amongst some "unidentified" suitcases, and mine was there. The luggage tag had come off. They were apologetic and nice about it. On a side note, as I waited to check for my luggage a fairly senior aged woman walked by, talking very loudly on her phone, "This is horrible! There are children all over the place!" The couple behind me was taken aback, because my two girls were standing there, and they said, "We were actually disappointed that we hadn't seen any young people until now." A few minutes later, she was complaining into her phone that the food was "disgusting." Trust me, it was not; it was delicious. Just remember that some people can never be pleased, no matter what you do! We were a bit concerned after that, thinking that all of the senior citizens would be frowning at our kids, but overall, the guests were kind to the kids and would talk about how our daughter reminded them of their 12 year old, or something like that. If you bring your children, just remind them to be polite and respectful. When we were in Half Moon Cay, my son and youngest daughter actually spent around 45 minutes standing in the crystal blue water visiting with a much older couple and they all had such a nice time. My son had older ladies coming up to him and his friends and commenting on how well behaved they were being. One lady approached him and his friends while they (yes 14 and 15 year old boys) were at the main dining room tea. She said, "I'm a teacher, and I wish that MY students had been as well behaved as you boys!" I'm sure that there were still people who were unhappy to see children, but it certainly didn't negate our trip. But...I digress. The ship was very, very clean. I mean, so clean. You could almost eat off of the floor. I wouldn't encourage that, but we were so impressed with the cleanliness. The decor was nice. No sparkling chandeliers, towering atriums, or fancy neon lighting, but pretty and pleasant. They have a huge amount of artwork all over the place. My girls liked getting their pictures with the artwork. This ship is a nice sized ship, probably slightly greater than mid-sized. We've been on a couple of very large ones, and could never find our way around, but after a couple of days, got our bearings pretty well. It is a pretty mellow ship, because the majority of the guests were my parents' ages and even older. I mean, seriously, I saw so many canes and scooters, it was like we were in a retirement village. The activities were pretty mild, and I didn't see the crazy fun ones you'd find on Carnival. However, there was a lot to do, and they do have competitions, such as a free throw competition, pool games and those things...just not every day. There were two swimming pools, and one was for adults only. However, the pool where children could go was emptier than the adult pool. The pool was quite lovely. There were a couple of hot tubs at each pool area, as well. The water in the hot tubs was HOT, I mean WHEW! They have a really nice library. It wasn't as enormous as the one on those gargantuan RCI ships, but it was very, very nice and they had a wonderful selection of books. There are dozens of classics, in addition to a lot of popular books. There were actually a few books for my girls (ages 9 & 12) even. I saw quite a few games available and they had several tables where people could play behind the library, where it overlooks the water. They have a library working there several hours a day, so you can check out books with her, ask her questions, and return books to her. You can also do self check out and turn the books in to a special area. My girls loved, loved the DVD checkout at the front desk. They have this list of something like 1,000 DVDs to choose from, and it's divided up into genres. You get one at a time, for free, then take it to the room and watch it on your stateroom television; there's a nifty little DVD player hooked up to the DVD. The service was excellent, overall. Our stateroom was cleaned twice a day as on any cruise, and the stewards really got it clean and did it very efficiently. Dining room service was excellent almost every night. We weren't able to get set dining times, but even with a different server most nights, were very happy with their friendly and efficient service. The front desk service is, by far, the best I've ever experienced on any cruise ship (I've been on probably 14). The people working there are very patient and kind with the people, and explained things to the guests very thoroughly. They were never rude or condescending. I walked by there many times a day because our room was near there. I went there several times and was so impressed with their service. Our sink was draining slowly and then, it leaked from the based onto the floor. I called the front desk office and someone was there within 15 minutes to assess the situation. Then, in another 15-20 minutes a guy was there who fixed it very quickly. No problems after that. We did not take any shore excursions. We just do our own thing. They do seem to offer a lot, though. Half Moon Cay is the company owned private island. They take you by tender and have a lovely beach, plus a barbecue is included while there. Water is clear and turquoise blue and there are loads of beach chairs. Grand Cayman is also a place where you take a tender. It took a little while to get a tender, but once we had eaten breakfast, we were able to go. Cozumel is a hot, hot place, so be prepared. We always go to Chankanaab, and get a taxi for there. It's cheaper than other shore excursions just doing it on our own. The shopping mall at the port has loads of stores, with lots of the same stuff. Key West is not my favorite place, but we try something new each time we go, and this time we walked to Ft. Zachary State Park beach, and had a very nice time. The cabins were both inside cabins. My husband and son were in 5185, and it was a typical inside cabin, though seemed fresh and clean. They were fine in there. I was greatly surprised by the cabin my daughters and I were in, #1018. It was huge! You could probably dance in it, seriously! There are three closets, a corner sofa, a vanity with stool, table, chair and two twin beds put together for a queen. Of course, two nightstands as well. There are also drawers for storing clothes under the beds, as well as the bar frig (I put our own bottled water in it). There was an extra cabinet on the opposite side of the vanity. The bathroom was pretty small with a tiny shower. The lighting in the cabin didn't seem quite bright enough to me, especially around the mirror. I love how you use your key card to activate the lighting in the room. The reading lights are very, very bright; might be nice to have those by the vanity mirror! They are very clean and fairly up to date cabins. We were thrilled with our cabin, honestly. The dining was wonderful. They had a nice variety of food in the main dining room. Each night, there were different salads, soups, appetizers and main courses to choose from. Beef, pork, poultry choices changed each night. The formal nights they had lobster and filet and the other was shrimp and filet, if you like. There was always a nice dessert selection that changed, as well. The quality of food was excellent. Sometimes, they didn't have something in the dining room, and someone from the staff ran up to get it from the Lido. The Lido buffet was great, too. They had Asian food offerings each day that changed, Italian, Mexican, a deli where they'd make sandwiches to order, a bistro with a different selection each day, fresh salads, cheeses, fruits, etc. The drink choices were juices, lemonade and tea. It would have been nice if someone came around with pitchers of water for refills in the Lido. They also had "Dive-In" which is a burger joint with excellent fries. My middle child loved the chicken sandwich there. There's a pizza place, too; my family really liked it, and I thought it was just okay. Check the food hours each morning, because they change sometimes, and are not as extensive as on, say, a Carnival cruise. However, the food is delicious and you will not go hungry. We only ate in the Lido during lunch time and a couple of times, breakfast. Breakfast fare is quite nice in there, but it gets very busy. Lunch time, it was not quite as crazy. Lines were never more than a few people, and most of the guests were pleasant although we heard one guy complaining that his made to order omelette was too brown. Oh, and I think that I spray and washed over 20 chocolate ice cream stains upon our return. They had very good hand scooped ice cream in the Lido on waffle cones. My family got their fill. They do have soft serve as well. It is not self serve and not open ALL day, but has fairly extensive hours. They also have toppings for sundaes there. There's tea time in the main dining room each day at 3. The theme is different each day. I went to the Indonesian tea (the majority of the wait staff are from there because the company has a training program there) and it was delightful! The servers wore very interesting shirts and seemed very proud to serve food of their home country. My three children LOVED the children's clubs. They all said that they were their favorite. There were only 130 or so children (up to age 18) on the cruise, according to someone. The children I saw were very well behaved. My son met a bunch of Canadians, and enjoyed discussing healthcare, taxes and politics with them, as well as video games and sports. He said that they were all very nice and he had a great time with them. He spent a good bit of time in the Loft, where they provide games and activities. He also played basketball a lot on the very nice sports court. He spent some time with us, but the majority of the time, he was with the teenagers. Our daughters refused to go to Club HAL the first night, then after going on the day at sea, begged to go whenever it was open. The young ladies working there were excellent with the children. They especially liked Emma and Emily. I never expected a ship that is so full of older clients to do such an outstanding job of entertaining the young clients! Many parents shared my sentiments about this. I didn't go to much entertainment. The singers/dancers were like what you see on a lot of ships. I didn't see risque, tacky outfits, though the songs one night were things by the Village People...not my favorite. Another night was duets from the 60's, 70's and 80's. Think Neil Diamond and Barbara Streisand. The crowd seemed to like that. I just saw probably ten minutes of each show, since it was down the hall from my room.. The steel drum band was quite impressive and fun. The crowd loved them. They played old tunes and classical music..."In the Mood" and William Tell Overture. A couple even got up and danced to the "In the Mood." It was so cute! Definitely geared toward an older crowd, but it was fun. Disembarkation took an hour longer than we expected because things got slowed down in the customs or whatever that's called. There was not a long, uncomfortable line to wait in like we have had. It was fairly relaxing and quiet, actually as we waited on the ship, but we were starting to wonder what was going on. I would definitely recommend this cruise to my friends. However, if you like a wild and crazy cruise, then I'd suggest you stick with Carnival. If you are seeking a relaxing, somewhat quiet vacation with nice ports of call, good service and delicious, food (and a nice kids' program), definitely consider this ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We sailed Jan 4 with a group of 20 ranging from 1 to 70+. The highlight for me was the food, which was very good. We ate all but two nights in main dining room and were very happy with the food, especially lobster and escargot. We had ... Read More
We sailed Jan 4 with a group of 20 ranging from 1 to 70+. The highlight for me was the food, which was very good. We ate all but two nights in main dining room and were very happy with the food, especially lobster and escargot. We had breakfast daily at Lido, which was very good. I loved the made to order eggs benedict and crepes. Lunch at the Lido buffet was very good as well, especially the Asian station. We did lunch one day at Tamarind and were disappointed. Dinner at Tamarind, on the other hand, was excellent and should not be missed. We did one dinner at Pinnacle Grill, which was so-so, probably would skip that if we were to do again. We were very disappointed with the entertainment and children's programming. We hoped to enjoy the food theater, but on our only time there they had technical difficulties and couldn't operate the stove. With the exception of "Recycled Percussion", which was very good, singers and dancers were sub-par-felt like high school drama show. Children's programming consisted largely of supervised video games & ice cream breaks, which our kids enjoyed, but as a parent we were hoping for more. The ship is nice, but there did not seem like there were many activities/programming. Everyday we'd check the daily planner and there was nothing there for us. We swam in the pools and wanted to use the hot tubs, but they were closed much of the cruise to fight a small outbreak of sickness (none of us were infected). I found the sauna on the last day, which was small but nice: I wish I had found that sooner. We chose this cruise for the price (kids free) and the ports (Half moon cay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Key West) both of which were very good, but were disappointed with entertainment & kids activities. We really enjoyed beach and BBQ at Half moon cay and enjoyed stingrays & turtle farm in Grand Cayman. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
This was our first ever cruise. Firstly a thank you for the immense extra help and guidance given to us by our agent who went above and beyond to secure our holiday and spent a great deal of time advising us on ports and locations after we ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise. Firstly a thank you for the immense extra help and guidance given to us by our agent who went above and beyond to secure our holiday and spent a great deal of time advising us on ports and locations after we had booked. He even gave advice on port excursions for my father's Baltic cruise even though the booking was not with him. We would always recommend his outstanding service and care to anyone who wants to book a cruise. We depended on his advice as finding, booking and going on a cruise is a very different experience and we are experienced travellers who have visited nearly every continent! We went with our three and a half year old son. The best part of the cruise is waking up in a different port every day and we were on the 12 night Mediterranean Empires tour which had an excellent itinerary around Greece, Italy and Turkey. Arrival in Venice and transfer to the cruise terminal was well managed but on arrival we were all left to carry our luggage from the coach to the terminal building. Not easy with a buggy and 6 pieces of luggage! We heard several complaints from other more passengers who said this was not usual! The ship is beautiful, like a 5 star hotel and very opulent. For first time cruisers it took while to figure out how to maximise the space in the cabin but once we did there was plenty of space. The bed was a little soft but we prefer an orthopedic mattress at home which is firmer. For UK visitors be aware that as this is an American ship you won't get a duvet but have to negotiate fiddly sheets and blankets! The food in the various restaurants was excellent, stupendous amount of choices. We preferred eating in the main dining room which felt calmer and more civilised with waiter service. The senior stewards were very friendly and took extra to look after our child's needs. The food was also nicer than the Lido which was essentially a high quality cafe. It felt too rushed and crowded with queues but there was an amazing selection and it was useful as a place for lunch or a snack. We did eat in the Pinnacle grill and felt that although the food was good it wasn't worth the extra $30 per person and wasn't that different from the Main dining room. We also ate in the Canaletto Italian restaurant, the food was good. The best of the three specialty restaurants is the Tamarind. We had a superb meal, easily the best we had had on the ship and the service was also excellent. We enjoyed the Commonwealth brunch in the main dining room and appreciated being invited by name! The food was delicious and really varied. The afternoon tea was a little odd in terms of what was being offered and the random order in which things arrived. Holland America need to do a bit more research into this! Why not just bring the food on the traditional stacked tiers?! The two shore excursions we booked to Istanbul and Ephesus were well organised and good value for money. The Greek islands, Athens and Venice we toured ourselves, and this was easy to do. It would have been nice to have had longer in Santorini so there was time to see Akrotiri. The ship caters for older passengers and we saw very few young children. We did check out the Club HAL children's facility but were put off by the fact that they insist you leave your child alone with them. Not everyone wants to get rid of their children on holiday! The room itself felt dark and gloomy and was clearly aimed at older children despite being advertised for 3 years upwards. The only activity offered him was colouring! We would not have left him there even if he had been older. The ship could easily put in a small soft play centre so that children who are there have somewhere to play and can stay with their parents.There is certainly space for one. Our child not having somewhere to play was the biggest negative of the ship's facilities and we spent time ashore using local playgrounds and beaches for him. For the record Lesbos has a fantastic playground, its huge and really well equipped. But no sandy beach. Argostoli has a fantastic sandy beach but a very tiny and poorly equipped playground. There was a small funfair for younger children but this was closed. Santorini had a beach but the play equipment there was broken and in bad repair and not all that safe. Katakolon has a small playground off the main street. Athens, Kusadasi, Venice and Istanbul were all taken up with sight seeing. We appreciated receiving the daily itinerary but there were far too many bits of paper arriving in our letterbox every day, often with quite trivial or useless bits of information! We also appreciated the free room service though thought it was odd that this would be free but bottles of water would be charged! The location guide Tom was helpful but could have done more to add value, he seemed vague on the details about some ports. Our biggest negative was discovering that the package we had bought from Holland America which included transfer from the cruise terminal to the airport on the last day involved the cruise line leaving us at the airport in the morning while our flight was not til the evening! This was never made clear at the time of booking and we only discovered it when we asked. The Front Desk was totally indifferent and said it was not the fault of the cruise line and that it was our problem. A very very poor way to handle this issue. in the end we dropped the the transfer and made our own way to the airport at a more sensible time. Because of our child we didn't get much opportunity to take part in the many talks and shows going on. We thought the range offered was excellent and certainly something for everyone. All in all a really lovely ship with excellent food and service and a wonderful itinerary. We had an excellent holiday and would love to cruise again but would probably choose a ship which had more for our child to do. It was nice not to have to deal with hordes of children on the up side of this but Holland America could do a bit more for its younger passengers!   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We spent the spring in Europe book ended by a 2 wk transAtlantic crossing on on this ship and a 2 wk north sea adventure on Celebrity's Infinity from Copenhagen to Iceland an down to UK. Given similarity in size and rating of both ... Read More
We spent the spring in Europe book ended by a 2 wk transAtlantic crossing on on this ship and a 2 wk north sea adventure on Celebrity's Infinity from Copenhagen to Iceland an down to UK. Given similarity in size and rating of both boats and an equal number of nights, comparison was interesting - Nieuw Amsterdam wins hands down!! It was a lovely, cared-for ship with friendly well trained crew, good food, plentiful choice and top notch entertainment and enrichment programs. We have taken other cruises on other lines and found this to be one of our favorite voyages. Even all those days at sea were well organized. We had great lectures to listen to daily (without trying to sell you anything) and good choices for a mental break by way of say a cooking class. Fitness facilities were excellent as was the spa (and the change rooms were absolutely spotless and dry any time I was in them) and we appreciated the glass cover to the main pool when way out in the cold Atlantic. We particularly loved the art on this ship. There was always something new to see.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
My DH has wanted to try a transatlantic. I was skeptical by the number of sea days (8) and that I would get bored. I loaded my Kindle up with lots of books in anticipation, and I did read 6 books on the 14 day cruise. But I was never ... Read More
My DH has wanted to try a transatlantic. I was skeptical by the number of sea days (8) and that I would get bored. I loaded my Kindle up with lots of books in anticipation, and I did read 6 books on the 14 day cruise. But I was never bored. My husband and I opted for a balcony cabin and an inside cabin in front as we brought along our 19 year old niece. It was great to have the balcony cabin, which was a VE category. The L inside cabin was also very roomy, with just a shower and the bathroom was quite large. My last two cruises were on the Eurodam, and I think I prefer the furniture and decoration on the Eurodam over the Nieuw Amsterdam. The Nieuw Amsterdam has a lot of leather, which sometimes feels cold. But it was still wonderful, and what always makes a HAL cruise for me are the staff. Our cabin attendants, Bayu and Kama, were amazing. They did everything we asked with a smile and a kind word. They greeted us each morning and before we went to bed, and they kept our cabins spotless. There were not many young people on our cruise and almost no children. Our niece mostly hung out with us. In the afternoons, she went to a quiet outdoor area on deck 10 to admire the view and listen to music on her IPOD. The transatlantic cross was amazing. No storms and very little movement. I have felt worse rocking on Caribbean cruises. We did have to drop a sick passenger off in Bermuda, and the Captain and crew did a great job taking care of that. We had no rain until we reached Barcelona, except for a spot in Horta. Horta was cold and the excursion we took from the ship was disappointing. We mostly rode around on the bus for 4 hours as the guide passed out books and information on the island. Books on flowers, as there were no flowers blooming. At the Calderia, it was fogged in, and we were not that impressed with the Volcano area. I heard another passenger say they took a whale tour with a local company and saw 3 types of whales, so guess we picked the wrong tour that day. Gibraltar, as usual, was an absolute delight. We opted to grab a van outside the cruise terminal and negotiated a private tour for four of us (us three and the receptionist from the spa.) We had a great time at the caves and watching the Barbary apes. But since we took the private tour, we didn't go up the cable car, and I was sad to have missed the group of apes that always hang out there. But luckily we found a group of them later in town at the Trafalgar Cemetery. I do want to remind everybody, please don't feed the Barbary apes. Remember the old saying, "Don't feed the bears." The same thing is happening in Gibraltar, that people are feeding the apes and they are fearless of humans. They have had some incidents in the town of local people being bitten, so please if you go, don't feed them. The ports in Spain were nice. Motril is a bit of an industrial town, but we took a taxi to Salobrena and it was wonderful. A beautiful hillside town with white houses and narrow streets, and it reminded me a bit of Vejer de la Frontera. Alicante was more charming, but totally crazy as it was Good Friday. We went on the HOHO bus, but they had canceled most of the route due to the Procession, so we ended up walking back to the ship after lunch. Palma de Mallorca was absolutely beautiful. The Cathedral was so impressive and we enjoyed walking around, but it got very crowded in the afternoon. Our final port was Barcelona, where we disembarked on a cold Easter Sunday. We spent two days in the cold and rain there. I have been there 5 times in the last 6 years, and this was the worst weather, and of course everything was closed on both Easter Sunday and on Monday. I say of course as it seems like every year the whole town is closed. It will also be closed on May 1st. We did the HOHO bus here, so my husband could see the Gaudi buildings. Unfortunately there was nothing open to go inside and see, except for the La Seu Cathedral. Sagrada Famila was open as well, but the lines were forever long and we did not have tickets. BB King Blues Show by the way was fabulous. I loved them! Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Two week Christmas /New Year back to back cruise of eastern/western Caribbean. Family group of grand parents, parents and two boys 11 and 8 from the UK.. Stayed at the Hyatt pier 17 before embarkation, well placed and relaxing. Embarkation ... Read More
Two week Christmas /New Year back to back cruise of eastern/western Caribbean. Family group of grand parents, parents and two boys 11 and 8 from the UK.. Stayed at the Hyatt pier 17 before embarkation, well placed and relaxing. Embarkation very easy and balcony cabin lovely and loads of storage. Tried all three speciality restaurants and loved the Tamarind. Main dining room a delight and food and service faultless. We also had breakfast in there most days .Kids club was a huge success, plenty of children on board and very well organised. Our boys loved all the activities and the staff were great. Christmas Day and New Years eve were excellent, and the activities brilliant. Father Christmas was wonderful. The New years eve party in the main showroom was great fun and our boys ended up dancing on the stage. The crew were lovely. I enjoyed all the shows. Half Moon Key as ever was delightful. Holland America should advertise it more. We did our own shore trips although on the back to back day at Fort Lauderdale, we did the airboat tour to the Everglades and that was very enjoyable. We had an early flight so were off the boat by 8am. Back in the UK with some wonderful memories Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
I recently returned from a 7 night Western Caribbean cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam. We had cabin 8114 and our friends had wheelchair friendly cabin 8116. It was a wonderful cruise! Everything was topnotch...the food, the service, the ... Read More
I recently returned from a 7 night Western Caribbean cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam. We had cabin 8114 and our friends had wheelchair friendly cabin 8116. It was a wonderful cruise! Everything was topnotch...the food, the service, the itinerary and the shore excursions. If you are not heavy wine drinkers, they will keep your bottle for you for the next evening AND will transfer it to another restaurant if perhaps you're trying Pinnacle Grill or Tamarind... Holland America staff were waiting for us with cold bottles of water and cold, wet washcloths on the pier near the ship. What a nice touch after a warm day! One thing I did notice that I didn't like was a big vibration at certain points on the ship. It was particularly obvious in the Tamarind restaurant. We switched tables 3 times and couldn't get away from it there. We were traveling in cabins 8114 and 8116, an accessible cabin. 8114 had better close space, a nice baloney, and a bath tub (no jacuzzi). 8116 had less closet space and was geared for somebody in a wheelchair so a lot of your clothes need to hang in the lower half of the closet. The bathroom was very generous and there was a seat and bars in the shower, but no tub. The balcony on 8116 was at an angle facing the front of the ship which was especially nice when sailing. There is a ramp up/down through the balcony door for a wheelchair in 8116. I have been on other caribbean cruises, but the itinerary, ship and excursions on this one were the best yet!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
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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