The Nieuw Amsterdam is a beautiful ship. I was impressed immediately upon boarding. Granted, I have no idea what she looked like prior to her recent dry dock, but I was generally knowledgeable of what was old and what was new. I think the ... Read More
The Nieuw Amsterdam is a beautiful ship. I was impressed immediately upon boarding. Granted, I have no idea what she looked like prior to her recent dry dock, but I was generally knowledgeable of what was old and what was new. I think the new changes are wonderful. First of all, the new carpeting is perfect. The color scheme is spot-on and provides an elegant foundation in the public spaces, especially near the elevators. I thought the new venues, especially Billboard Onboard, the Gallery Bar, and the Crow's Nest (I forget its new name), looked fantastic. I agree with some others that the Crow's Nest now has a bit of an identity crisis, but I think this can be remedied in time. The new technology up there has limited use but certainly looks impressive. And I love how the casino, piano lounge, and Gallery Bar now have this fluid, open feel to them. And bravo to making the casino non-smoking. The atrium looked nice as well, but as I mentioned, I did not see it before the removal of the stairs. Overall, the ship was stunningly beautiful and easily navigable.
We stayed in two adjacent (non-adjoining) obstructed view cabins on Deck 4, mid-ship (Cabins 4101 and 4103). I was hesitant to book these cabins but did so anyway, given the great rate that was offered. I had only ever sailed with a balcony, so I was a tad spoiled. Needless to say, we loved these rooms for the value they provided and the natural light allowed in by the full-length windows (essentially, non-opening balcony doors). For the first time, I had a cabin all to myself, and that was quite a treat. The rooms were wonderfully appointed. The carpets and sofas were either new or well-kept. The bathroom was just the right size and had a tub/shower combo. My petite-sized aunt appreciated the ability to take baths, although the tub probably would have been uncomfortable for me. One of the best things about the cabin, and what surprised me the most, was the huge selection of on-demand movies available on the fairly-large flat-panel television mounted on the wall. The movies played with ease and in great clarity. This is a far cry from out small, desk-mounted television on the Noordam a couple years ago, which offered only snowy views of very few channels. Our stateroom attendants were very personable, remembered our names, and did a fantastic job with their twice-per-day visits. My only complaint was that the A/C did not get my room as cold as I normally like.
The food ranged from good to great. We ate most breakfasts and lunches in the Lido, 4 dinners in the main dining room, and one dinner, each, in Canaletto, Tamarind, and the Pinnacle Grill. Breakfast and lunch were great in the Lido. I found the servers to be very kind and welcoming, and I think I prefer being served my food vs. using utensils that have been touched by others. The Lido was crowded during obvious times (breakfast on port days and lunch on sea days), but it was manageable. I enjoyed having fresh-fried eggs for breakfast. I wish I hadn't discovered the French toast and crepes, but I did. Delicious!
The service and food were very good in the main dining room. We were lucky to get Diaz as our server. He perfectly combined humor with good service. The menu on the first night was not to my liking, but it was all uphill from there. Standouts over the course of the week included the tomato soup and basically anything served during Gala evenings. We found most desserts to be good, also. My favorite was the warm chocolate cake (it might have been flourless) on the second Gala evening. I asked for a second, without shame.
We found all three specialty restaurants to be very good and worth the price of admission. The ladies in Canaletto provided the best service of the three. Standouts included the seafood soup, salad, and lasagna in Canaletto, and all appetizers and the mini donuts in Tamarind. Both ladies enjoyed the king crab legs, lobster bisque, and Caesar salad in Pinnacle, while I particularly enjoyed the NY strip steak and mashed potatoes. Oddly, I thought the desserts in the Pinnacle were the most disappointing, perhaps only because the rest of the meal was so good. I thought the best dessert in Pinnacle was the soufflé. I wanted to love the molten chocolate cake but found it tasted too boozy for my liking.
I thought the entertainment was good overall. I enjoyed the BB King blues band, as well as Will and Ivy, the Billboard Onboard duo. In the main showroom, I really enjoyed the Billboard-themed production show covering #1 hits over the past several decades (I apologize, its name now escapes me). However, I did not like the 'One World' show, as I found the singing, dancing, and costumes to be a little on the cheesy side. I LOVED the BBC Earth/Lincoln Center performance. This is such a wonderful show, and I find it to be very moving and even thrilling at time. The cruise director said this was the premier of this particular show on this ship, which I cannot confirm. The two guest entertainers were okay- the comedian was better than the juggler, but I will always choose comedy over juggling.
I agree with others who say that daytime entertainment is lacking on sea days. The daily program almost becomes laughable with its offerings of "anti-aging miracles" and "secrets to a flatter stomach" seminars. I suspect there is a sales attempt tied to these programs, and that's why they are offered. I cannot put my finger on what programs should be offered, but I do know that something feels lacking. Then again, I am content finding a cozy lounger around the pool on sea days, but of course, these can be difficult to come by.
We stopped in Half Moon Cay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Key West. I will be brief on these, as we did not book any excursions, and reviews of these ports are easy to find.
Half Moon Cay- Wow! Perhaps the best beach and ocean water (my goodness, that color of blue/green!) I have ever seen. I think Disney's Castaway Cay is still the best private cruise port, but Half Moon is a close second with an even better beach. However, I will say that I did not love the BBQ buffet.
Grand Cayman- My least favorite day of the week. There were many ships in port, and we ended up on 7 Mile Beach at the Royal Palms. BIG MISTAKE. It was a zoo, spring-break-like atmosphere. Completely overcrowded and not enjoyable for me, at all. The food was good but not enough for me to ever return.
Cozumel- Having been to Cozumel 3 times in the past 3 years, I opted to stay on the ship. It was great to spend the day around the pools, which were completely uncrowded. The ladies enjoyed a quick step out and some light shopping, but did not stay long. I will say that I think it is a nice touch that Holland brought a mariachi band and dancers onboard and offered chips, salsa, and guac to the spectators around the aft pool. This was a nice touch.
Key West- I was particularly excited about this stop, as I had never been. I must say, I really liked Key West. Others I spoke with said it was too touristy, but I found that only to be the case in the few blocks immediately surrounding the port. We took the little train for $29, which I think was worth it. I love the architecture of the island and also enjoyed a visit to Hemmingway's former home (a $14 admission fee, if I remember correctly).
I had a great week aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam. I highly recommend this ship. I found the food, entertainment, service, and accommodations to be very good, and the ship is stunningly beautiful. Read Less