13 Helpful Votes
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
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
Hi! I was a solo female traveler (revered by some, scorned by some). I didn't stay at any hotels. The ship was clean and accommodations were enjoyable. I can't complain about anything - the staff was attentive, they knew my ... Read More
Hi! I was a solo female traveler (revered by some, scorned by some). I didn't stay at any hotels. The ship was clean and accommodations were enjoyable. I can't complain about anything - the staff was attentive, they knew my dietary restrictions and were able to accommodate them. My room was lovely. The experience was exactly what I needed. I had the time of my life. My only concern was that there wasn't any visible first aid kits and AED machines (I could have done without the smoking in the casino as well - but I never went there anyway). I went on a themed cruise - I'm not sure if I could handle a cruise where there wasn't some structure - that's not to say I wouldn't try! The Dancing with the Stars theme was sublime! The excursions were really great - I picked the right ones for me! And the club/piano were the cool places to be at night. I was a little antsy knowing I paid for my bags to pass through customs without me and go straight to my final destination (home). But I was in the airport and so was my bag. It did make traveling easier. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
This was our first cruise, and we booked for 2 weeks to celebrate our honeymoon. We are 26 and 33. When we booked the trip, we didn't realize that Holland America was geared towards a mature crowd (50+). We are not big drinkers or ... Read More
This was our first cruise, and we booked for 2 weeks to celebrate our honeymoon. We are 26 and 33. When we booked the trip, we didn't realize that Holland America was geared towards a mature crowd (50+). We are not big drinkers or gamblers, so we were looking for a more relaxing experience with some adventure, not a party scene. Overall, the cruise was excellent. We did the Ultimate Snorkelling in Grand Turk, the Amazing Secret River in Cozumel, and the Champagne Sail in St. Thomas. All excursions were amazing and worth every penny. The food on the ship was all very good with lots of different options. The atmosphere of the ship was very clean and elegant. The only downfall was that the majority of the actives were geared towards an older crowd, such as anti aging seminars, acupuncture, and learn Windows 10, just to name a few. Thankfully, we only had 4 at sea days so the majority of our time was spent in Port, but it would have been nice to have a few more ship activities that would have interested us. Service was top notch and any issues we had were resolved immediately. For our next cruise, I would like to try another line more geared towards our age group, but I will definitely sail with Holland again. It was a wonderful vacation all around. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2015
Great Cruise, much better than i expected. Wish more time was available in each port, that is the only drawback i found. Trying to see Rome in 11 hours is sub optimal. Kotor could easily be skipped, the old town smelled like an ... Read More
Great Cruise, much better than i expected. Wish more time was available in each port, that is the only drawback i found. Trying to see Rome in 11 hours is sub optimal. Kotor could easily be skipped, the old town smelled like an uncleaned kitty litter box. Stay on the ship if you must stop there. Dubrovnik old town was a real pleasant surprise. Corfu was ok. Naples was outstanding, especially the pizza @ Pizzeria Trianon and the Archaeological museum, Pizzeria Trianon is just a short walk from the port, maybe 15 minutes. You also must take at least one taxi ride in Naples, I've never experienced anything like that before. White knuckled ride. I wish I had arrived in Venice a week prior to the sailing, I have never had so much fun getting lost before. What an amazing place. Overall the ship was very clean and well kept, the staff was exceptionally nice. I would highly recommend the Neiuw Amsterdam to anyone I know. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
We’re a British couple in our very late twenties. I’ve only ever sailed with Costa Cruises on 4 previous voyages over the years, gradually seeing their supreme service decline into a floating shambles, and vowed never to cruise with ... Read More
We’re a British couple in our very late twenties. I’ve only ever sailed with Costa Cruises on 4 previous voyages over the years, gradually seeing their supreme service decline into a floating shambles, and vowed never to cruise with them again. This was my partner’s first ever cruise, and he only agreed to ‘go it a go’ but was skeptical about the whole thing, so I chose HAL and the Nieuw Amsterdam because of both attractive pricing for our balcony cabin (5021) and the many positive reviews on here that meant we'd get a much more premium experience. We did the ‘back to back’ (aka Collector Voyage in HAL terms) itinerary of Eastern, then Western Caribbean, sailing from Fort Lauderdale. In summary, we loved the ship, the food was mostly fantastic, service was A* from every member of staff, the entertainment options were varied and engaging (even for us youngsters)… BUT… the ship clearly had an engine issue whilst we were on board, which did unfortunately mean it was not the perfectly restful holiday I had hoped. Instead, I was deprived of sleep because the fixtures of the cabin rattled very loudly at night, due to the strong juddering of the engines, which I’ve never experienced on the other ships I’ve sailed on. Even more disappointingly, we paid more to have an forward cabin to be away from the engines at the stern, but it’s completely pointless as it certainly felt this ship had engines / thrusters at the bow too. After reading the most recent reviews, it’s clear an issue identified with the engine the week before we embarked wasn’t fixed entirely, and the although obviously fixed to be sea worthy, I don’t think the Captain should have sailed her in this state when it must have caused discomfort to make others too. After complaining to the Front Office, we did receive some compensation for the issue, but reflecting on this, it’s disappointing that the Captain (who was wonderfully informative about everything else ship-related) did not let us know about the issue and acknowledge the juddering was not the norm. However, I can also see from reviews that the ship is going into dry dock very soon, so I can only hope, with the high standards HAL clearly operate to in everything else, that this problem is fixed and the Nieuw Amsterdam sails smoothly once more. So please don’t let that put you off if you’re thinking of booking in the medium to longer term. Cruisers who are embarking before dry dock though – beware! I probably won’t mention anything here in the rest of the review that hasn’t been mentioned before, so this is just our opinion as passengers from a younger age bracket and less experienced cruisers. It’s probably useful to reiterate I am comparing this experience only to Costa Cruises, which is a value line for the European market, and not the likes of Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, NCL etc. (here’s hoping I will be lucky enough to try them too in future). Here are our thoughts on the main aspects of the experience. Ship Interiors & Passenger Flow The design was very understated compared to Costa ships; the décor is neutral, tasteful and elegant – it felt luxurious and the ship is certainly has the most class when docked alongside others, with its striking navy blue hull. Everything seemed to be kept spotlessly clean by the crew and I’d wholeheartedly disagree with the review recently that said everything was dirty and they ‘wouldn’t sit on the chairs in the Crow’s Nest’ followed by a childish ‘ewww’. I never spotted anything that wasn’t spotless, and I have very high standards of cleanliness, so I dread to think what that particular reviewer is like to live with! Anyway, I digress. I thought the design of the decks was mostly spot on – the only exception being in the Lido buffet (more on that later) and the ship, although full, allowed for easy traffic flow. The only thing I missed was the midship soaring atrium, something typical of Costa and the Joe Farcas’ style – there’s only a small atrium spanning Decks 1 – 3, with an interesting light fitting, and some midship glass lifts that travel up and down the port and starboard facades of the ship, but that’s all. However, it’s a small price to pay for the otherwise excellent food and service of HAL compared to Costa. Stateroom – Balcony / ‘Veranda’ Cabin, VC grade I was a little worried after reading reviews about the lack of drawers in our stateroom, and the virtual tour certainly made the room look much smaller than Costa’s balcony cabins, but I was pleased with what we found in reality – plenty of storage room and homely, tasteful decor. There’s three wardrobes, two of which have optional shelving you can fold down, so we had plenty of room to unpack foldable as well as hanging clothes. Ok, the bedside cabinets have only two small drawers, but they are both quite long, so have enough room for one’s ‘smalls’ and then an open shelf for books etc. There’s also (and some may not have realised this) a large drawer at the bottom of each bed, underneath. It will look like a large wooden box from the side, but opens at the front and after removing any blankets in there (we put these in the wall cupboards above the sofa), the drawers are as deep as the space under the bed so you can get a lot in them. Décor wise, I liked the tasteful neutral colours, though I agree with other reviewers that the hallway is quite dark, so you’ll need the full lights on to find anything hidden at the back of wardrobe shelves. Really not a biggie though. We had a bath in our bathroom and I much preferred this to the showers typical of this grade. For a little room it felt spacious and had some decent storage too – glass shelves up one side of the mirror and then a long shelf under the sink. Loved the Elemis toiletries too. Service We couldn’t really fault the service from every member of staff we encountered. Everyone smiled, said hello and genuinely (despite working very hard) seemed happy, which is evidence of a good employer. On Costa, there is no such warmth, let me tell you! Our room stewards were fantastic and we were always seeing them in the corridor, singing and joking with each other whilst still doing a great job – I loved the towel creations too. Waiting staff were fantastic in all the restaurants – we opted for Anytime Dining so had different waiters each night on the lower level (deck 2), until the 2nd week, when we were proactively offered an upper level table each night for 8pm for the remainder of our cruise, by one particularly helpful and friendly manager - a nice touch and we were really pleased with the position of the table and our fab waiter, who was prompt, polite and unobtrusive. Drinks wise, I know some people have complained about long waits for drinks but it’s not something I ever saw. Our only criticism was some of our cocktails were a bit hit and miss, through that’s probably down to choosing the wrong thing for our tastes. On one occasion my partner asked for an Old Fashioned, which isn’t on the menu, but should be a staple of any bar tender and it didn’t quite make the mark – I think it’s supposed to be stirred a certain number of times and takes about 5 minutes to prepare in total, but it was just plonked in front of him after a brief swish around the glass, so I put this in our feedback to HAL as that indicates a little more training is required. Dining I honestly cannot understand why anyone could ever complain about the food on this ship. Everything we had, whether it was in room service, the MDR, specialty restaurants or the lido buffet, was all very good quality and the only thing I could ever complain about is too much choice and temptation of yummy food! Ok, there were a few dishes for dinner in MDR that were good rather than great, but it was still presented very well and often it was only one dish out of three courses that was less than we expected – these were very rare though. We mainly ate breakfast and lunch in the lido for maximum flexibility (with my partner getting mid afternoon snacks from the excellent Dive In Grill, which features veggie burgers too!), and then dinner in the MDR. The menu in MDR changed slightly each week so there wasn’t too much repetition, and highlights overall for me where: the yellowfin sole in MDR – absolutely beautifully cooked – you have to try it. Steaks in MDR, pinnacle and tamarind were generously proportioned and cooked to your liking (the steaks in Lido are huge but cooked well done, but apparently still nice). Crepes in the Lido for breakfast – there’s Nutella filling if you ask and I often added sliced bananas from the fruit section. Eggs Florentine with a choice of sides in the Lido was also excellent – the poached egg and other English items station was on the Starboard side though, so it’s easy to miss. The French onion soup in MDR – a daily staple but done so very well. The salad bar in Lido was fantastic, and the food in Tamarind was fab, with very attentive service. Pinnacle was great too but for us, the food was quite rich – I don’t think I could eat it every night, but then again we are fairly health conscious and had eaten so much steak and yummy desserts already, we had gone and ruined it for ourselves. Like a #firstworldproblem, this became one of many joke #cruiseproblems! Drinks & Drinks Prices We aren’t massive drinkers so can only comment on the specialty coffee, few bottles of wine and beer and cocktails we ordered on occasion (I know, party animals we are!). For soft drinks, water is available free of charge (see below for more details), and my partner enjoyed iced tea and various tropical squash type drinks in the Lido. For hot drinks, tea (including PG Tips, decaf and herbal)and brewed coffee was available free of charge in the MDR and Lido (speciality restaurants have free speciality coffee included). We also enjoyed frothy cappuccinos ($2.10 in MDR for dinner, and about $3 in the Explorations Café, including service). They aren’t the same standard as you’d expect from a coffee shop with proper barristers, but they are certainly drinkable. The wine selection was vast but we tried a Californian merlot ($29) in Tamarind which we then asked for in other venues, and they were able to source for us. Beer selection wasn’t vast but my partner enjoyed a Corona with dinner in the MDR – there’s also Peroni and a few other internationals and they aren’t too bad, price wise (about $5.25 p/ bottle). Entertainment Again, I disagree with fellow reviewers who have universally slammed the entertainment on this ship – ok, there were a few nights that didn’t appeal to us, but we had so many books and Game Of Thrones S1-4 to watch on the in-room dvd player (which plays Region 2, UK discs!) that we enjoyed these if we didn’t fancy watching the excellent BB Kings Blue’s act or listened to classical music from the violin / piano quartet. Basically, you could never accuse us of being bored and there was often two things we wanted to see in the evening but only made one of them. Highlights for us included Recycled Percussion (audience participation required and enthusiastically delivered, wear the ear plugs though!), the male comedian in week 2 (Brian something, forgot his name), and my personal favourite, Island Magic, a very humble and charming group of Steel Drummers from Trinidad who put on a moving performance no-one expected. The other shows we weren’t so keen on – the on-board dancers and singers in the broadway shows, which were staged once per week only, thankfully. Very cheesy, weird costuming (where are the feathers and sequins?!) and variable levels of signing talent. I also agree with one reviewer who said the final show of each leg was a bit disappointing – the dancing with the stars contest which we weren’t fussed about at all – perhaps that’s just our age though! I’m gutted we missed both the Filipino and Indonesian crew shows as we were both too tired from long days in port – they show them at 11pm and alternate each week, but we heard good things from other passengers. We didn’t see the piano bar as it was always packed right the way back to the entrance, so that attests to it’s popularity. One thing you can’t miss is the Marriage Game, which Cruise Director Jeremy hosts every week in the Queens Lounge (a poor choice of venue as it’s so popular it really should be in the Showroom at Sea). It sounds cheesy but was hilarious fun and really pulled in the crowds – standing room only which was a shame for the older and frailer passengers who hadn’t got there 30 minutes before. Fellow Passengers I did a lot of research before booking this cruise and knew HAL attracted an older crowd – this didn’t bother me because they are often the most interesting guests to chat to, and have far better manners / respect for others’ peace than most. I can confirm this was the case – a good mix of well-to do Americans, Canadians and Brits – we really were in the minority and I only saw about 5 other couples who looked under 40, and a few multi-generational families too. We tried not to be alarmed by the person who left their zimmer frame outside their door in our corridor each night, so be prepared for this – I’ve seen reviews on here that say it’s a ‘floating nursing home’ – they aren’t off the mark but it didn’t bother us. There were hardly any children onboard and all were very well behaved, when we rarely saw them – they have their own HAL Club ‘quarters’. What I perhaps didn’t quite anticipate was number of very elderly people, or very overweight people, both of whom used mobility scooters or walking aids, and this is where I think the Lido restaurant lets down an otherwise well designed ship. There is simply not enough space for people to move around the restaurant freely, past the queues for the counters (which don’t take long to go down, mind), as there’s only room for two single files – one queueing and one walking past. So, if you have someone with a mobility issue who moves slowly, or a frail person who can’t decide what they want and are hovering in the walking past file, each counter becomes a bottle neck, and that’s not fair on those who have caused it as it’s not really their fault. The tables next to these queues are also subject to people walking closely past or worse, being knocked into, so they really should do away with these altogether as capacity wise, there are plenty of seats away from the walkways. Ports of Call *I won’t bore you with a breakdown of each excursion and port we went to – plenty others have on here. A few things to note – in total we had two scheduled stops at Half Moon Cay, one each week, but we missed the first due to bad weather, so the Captain had to cancel it (it was raining and 7ft waves!). Florida in general (which is close to the Bahamas) was much cooler than I’ve ever experienced it at this time of year – when we landed on the Saturday night in Miami, it was about 16 Degrees C. For the return trip to Fort Lauderdale, it was much cooler and with high winds (so no sunbathing!) on the sea day before we reached port each time, and when we got there. Not sure whether it’s just “this year” that it was like this – but something to be aware of as I was a little sad we didn’t have sunshine and typical Caribbean warmth throughout. *A brief recommendation on excursions – at St Thomas we did HAL’s Two Site Snorkel on a catamaran, which was brilliant – we swam with huge turtles at the first site, a fantastic experience. At Cozumel we arranged a local excursion, the ‘Cozumel Buggies’ – driving around the island in modified VW Beetle buggies and stopping at some interesting sites. Snorkelling was supposed to be included in this but was cancelled due to strong currents, which was a shame. The rest of the trip we wondered around the ports, and tried to avoid the duty free shops which seem to have breed to every island we stopped at. A shame as it would be better to include some shops to help local economies too, and really, I don’t think anyone goes on cruises to buy diamonds and tanzanite and watches at every possible opportunity, surely?! Embarkation / Disembarking This was a nightmare – one thing I would also dispute with other reviewers who have said it was a breeze for them. Flying into Miami from the UK was bad enough – a 3 hour queue to get through Immigration (this is apparently always like this, never again will I cruise from there as it was shocking – no toilets or ability to get water to drink , just shuffling along in an endless zig zag queue all that time!), but then the next day we had the same thing all over again at Fort Lauderdale. It took 3 hours to get through the check in because Ft. Lauderdale had 9 ships in that day and not enough customs officials. Ridiculous. The captain sent us an apology letter a few days letter and gave everyone a glass of champagne with their dinner to apologise, but it wasn’t really his fault. The US let themselves down by not having enough staff! Getting off the ship was equally frustrating for different reasons – we had booked a transfer with HAL to get back to Miami aiport and were told the night before that our disembark time was 08.15 – 08.30. We ordered breakfast for 07.00 – 07.30 and got everything ready just to put on after a quick shower, but just after finishing eating, our colour and number group were called to get off at 07.39! So beware you may need to get ready much earlier than the time they give you. We then got onto our coach having queued for 30 minutes (more shortages of US Customs officials) with our heavy luggage in another zig zag line, and everyone else booked onto the coach eventually got on… apart from one couple, who didn’t show up until 90 minutes later!!! They were being called on the shipped and personally named to get off, but obviously decided to follow their own timetable and didn’t give a fig about the rest of us waiting for them. They didn’t even apologise when they eventually were escorted to the coach (and they were not frail or ‘not the full ticket’ either). Absolutely disgraceful. HAL needs to do a better job of telling people, if you are late for your transfer you make everyone else late too, or they should just let the rest go without them. To that couple – if you are reading this, SHAME ON YOU! Anyway, apart from that, if you’re still reading, and despite the obvious frustrations in getting on / off the ship, I wanted to finish with the other little touches I appreciated compared to Costa: *Availability of drinking water – if you have an empty bottle, any waiter will happily refill it for you with ice and filtered water. This is perfectly safe to drink so you don’t need to pay for bottled water which is not only bad for the environment but completely pointless when you’ve already paid so much to be on this cruise in the first place. You can also fill up water in the Lido drink stations – either the attendant will do it for you or you use the jug they provide. All a la carte restaurants onboard also offer free drinking water and the waters refill your glass regularly. This was a godsend compared to Costa, who won’t allow bottles to be refilled at all, anywhere, and no drinking water is offered at dinner, so you have to buy a bottle every evening. Money grabbing and totally wasteful. *Sanitation stations – antibacterial gel was available everywhere and it’s use encouraged, which is to be applauded. Costa didn’t have this, and didn’t seem to care about the spread of cabin-confining illnesses. Well done HAL. *Deck towels – you can have as many as you like – just help yourself and return them to the used towel bins. On Costa you get one deck towel each in your room, which is not enough to cover even half of a sun lounger. On that note, HAL’s specially provided beach towels to take ashore were enormous, thick and luxurious. *Captain’s announcements – every day our Dutch Captain (Edward van Zaane) gave us an update on the ship’s route, position, current weather and forecast for the next day. We missed both Captain’s Welcome Toasts so I didn’t see him in person, but he sounded both *Silencers on balcony doors – this made a huge difference to the enjoyment of the cruise compared to Costa – who do not have silencers, and unfortunately many of our European neighbours liked to slam their doors shut, even in the early hours, with no consideration for anyone else. Very uncouth behaviour that I don’t think HAL’s typical guests would even contemplate doing, but still, it’s evidence HAL have thought about even these little things. Providing HAL fix the engine problem on this lovely ship, I have no hesitation in recommending them for a relaxing cruise – just be prepared for US Customs queues!   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
1 Don't expect the ship's design and décor to reflect your personal taste 2 Don't expect all fellow passengers to be just like you. 3 Don't throw a tantrum if you miss a port 4 Don't take the cruise lines home ... Read More
1 Don't expect the ship's design and décor to reflect your personal taste 2 Don't expect all fellow passengers to be just like you. 3 Don't throw a tantrum if you miss a port 4 Don't take the cruise lines home page literally 5 Don't be offended at the constant up sell We are a couple of seniors that have had 35 overseas holidays travelling independantly. This was our first cruise. The cabin We loved our basic verandah cabin. We refuse to call it a Stateroom. A Stateroom is where visiting heads of State are recieved. I don't think President Obama or Chancellor Merkell would be impressed by a reception in our Stateroom. It is a ship's cabin. It was compact but well designed The ship Beautiful in every department. We prefer understated elegance rather than overstated opulence. We dont want a floating Casino or theme park. The food The Lido buffet (The Gobble and Go) The food is acceptable in quality and abundant in quantity. The Manhattan Diningroom (MDR) Very high standard. Not 5 star but close. We loved it as here you experience fine dining in a very nice setting. We don't understand why people gripe about the food. The standard is great when you consider the kitchen turns out 12,000 meals a day. If all you want is a 'good feed' then the Lido is fine, but if you like to dine stick to the MDR. The Pinacle Grill We cancelled our further reservations after our first meal. This is an up market New York Steak House serving huge chunks of meat well cooked. Our American friends loved it. But to people who have experienced fine dining in France it is a pale shadow of that. Our vegetables had the appearance of being microwaved, they had the taste and texture of a tennis ball. No good restaurant would plate them. The desert menu says it all...Cheese cake, Chocolate cake, Trio of Sorbets, Cheese plate, and wait for it (drum roll please) Creme Brulee. It reflected the desert menu we remember in Melbourne Australia in the 1980's. And can you believe it, my coffee was out of an up market slot machine that drops the milk into the cup then sends down 2 streams of coffee just like the University canteen. Tamarind was the best restaurant on the ship and Cannaletto serves good honest Italian food. The staff In a word wonderful, nothing was too much trouble. Entertainment You don't expect a full production of The Lion King. The ship's cast of singers and dancers were good but constantly recycled. Visiting artists were great. Can't understand why HAL employs a comedian to embarrass, shout out different passengers physical details, and rudely humiliate individual passangers in the front row. Anyone suffering from depression would have jumped overboard. Cruel, cruel, cruel, not funny. Ship's programs This is our main area of complaint as most programs were dumbed down. Why not a session on the history of ANZAC when going through the Dardenelles, or a lecture on the history of early Greece etc. We were fed a diet of Trivia, The Marriage Game and shopping a la late night shopping channels. The only thing missing was the offer of the steak knives. Shore excursions We took a mix of HAL and private excursions with prople we met on the Cruise Critic Roll Call. All were good but the private ones were about 60 per cent of HAL's price and much better with lower numbers of 8 to 12 people, and wonderfully flexible. Fellow passengers Wonderful generally speaking. So many interesting stories. Certainly the more mature set. Lessons learned on our first cruise. You won't visit every port listed. We missed three. Compensation? A drink of low cost wine. Cruising is a health hazard. Illness spreads quickly through a ship. We picked up a very nasty virus that lasted 4 weeks. People cough and sneeze all over you. Some don't wash their hands. Cruising is expensive if you pay the going rate for a good cabin. We estimate for the total cost of this cruise, gratuities, excursions etc etc it cost us double the money of our normal holiday in Europe staying in 4 star hotels and dining out. Cruising is crowded. When several ships are in port it is crowded beyond belief at every tourist site. We spent hours standing in long lines and stuck in trafic. Fortunately we had 3 days in Venice at the end of rhe cruise. We couldn't believe the difference when the cruise ships pulled out. Cruise lines don't make a profit from selling you the cabin. Profit is determined by what they sell you on board so prepare to live with that. We paid the suggested gratuities but HAL suggest you may want to give further tips to cabin/wait staff and the staff expect it. Coffee...Americans have never heard the word 'barrista.' The coffee is terrible. You know the Mc Donalds set up...Cona drip filter then on the hot plate for far too long. Don't expect the server to discuss the particular origin or blend of the beans, nor artwork on the top of your latte. They don't know the difference between a cappaccino and a latte. Choosing a cabin We are glad we opted for a definite cabin 6116 and would book it again. One Aussie couple booked the usual guarantee cabin hoping for an upgrade. They were thrilled when they got the upgrade but on boarding found it was directly under the BB King Night Club. Their compensation? A pair of ear plugs. There is no rhyme, reason, or logic on HAL's pricing. We visited the future cruise desk and got a price for a 10 day future cruis up the U.S coast. % days later the cost had risen by $400 per person. We let it go. This was a very good cruise but we certainly learnt a lot. We prefer taking apartments in small villages in Europe, and savouring the local food and wines, although we may do a short cruise again. If so we would not hesitate to book with HAL.   Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2014
My boyfriend and I took the 7 night Western Caribbean cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam. It was my first cruise and his second. We had such a wonderful time on the ship, we can't wait to book another cruise! Our biggest concern going ... Read More
My boyfriend and I took the 7 night Western Caribbean cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam. It was my first cruise and his second. We had such a wonderful time on the ship, we can't wait to book another cruise! Our biggest concern going into it was that we would be the youngest people on the ship and would find it boring. We had done our research before booking the trip, and we knew that Holland America caters to a more mature crowd. While I think the average age on the ship was 50+, and my boyfriend and I are both in our late 20's, we did not find it to be a problem at all. We really wanted to have a relaxing vacation and being that a lot of colleges were on Spring Break, we wanted to stay away from the party scene. We met a few other young people or couples on the ship, but mostly it was just the 2 of us and we had a wonderful time. We were extremely impressed with the cleanliness, atmosphere of the ship and overall service provided. I cannot say enough good things about the Nieuw Amsterdam ship and staff! Everywhere you looked, people were cleaning, I never saw so much as a speck of dust, and everything felt extremely sanitary. I liked that there was hand sanitizer stations conveniently located all over the ship, outside of each bathroom and at the entrance to each dining spot. The crew provided a higher level of service than I could have ever expected. We weren't staying in a suite, but we felt like VIP at the nicest of hotels. Our stateroom attendant met us in the hall our second day, greeted us by name, introduced himself, provided his business card and asked us to please let him know if there was anything else he could do to improve our stay. We were blown away. ALL of the crew members were kind, friendly and helpful at all times. The service was top notch. We dined in the Manhattan Dining Room every night and most mornings and loved the experience. The food was excellent: flavorful, good presentation and tons of variety. We felt as though we were treating ourselves to a fancy night out every day. We saw a few of the shows, and weren't blown away by any of them, but we did really enjoy the Filipino Crew show, which was fun to watch. We went to the Casino once or twice and spent some time in a few of the bars. My boyfriend especially loved the Crow's Nest, and I liked the Piano Bar. I will say I was pleasantly surprised by the cost of the cocktails onboard. I thought they were very reasonably priced, and the ship does offer Happy Hour specials once or twice a day in select bars. We played Pub and Team Trivia each day, and attended a few other activities but overall found that a lot of them didn't appeal to us. This may have been because we aren't in the right age bracket. Bottom line, our vacation was absolutely wonderful, we had a fantastic time and the ship experience exceeded our expectations. We would definitely cruise again.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2013
A trip that began in snow ended in 82 degree F. weather in Ft. Lauderdale. After a pre-cruise stay at the Hyatt Place, 17th St. location, we began a never-to-be- forgotten cruise courtesy of Holland America's wonderful crew on the ... Read More
A trip that began in snow ended in 82 degree F. weather in Ft. Lauderdale. After a pre-cruise stay at the Hyatt Place, 17th St. location, we began a never-to-be- forgotten cruise courtesy of Holland America's wonderful crew on the beautiful Nieuw Amsterdam. I've seen other reviews of this beautiful new ship--some not so encouraging to new cruisers. Shame... Clearly, if you need a warm, relaxing vacation, with some nice excursions, a Caribbean cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam is it. After many years of saying we would never take a cruise, we succumbed and were delighted with the outcome. We took a shuttle from the Hyatt Place for $14. Embarkation was relatively quick and simple. Holland America has numerous helpers along the way. After submitting our boarding documents and receiving our room cards, there was a short wait for boarding by number. We were in our cabin by 12:10 and off to lunch in the main dining room, since one of us had sailed previously with HAL. Our cabin was a Superior Suite midships with a large balcony (7 ft.X 13 ft.). Lots of storage available, which we needed because of all that we brought. Bathroom was large with double sink and storage shelf underneath, also with glass shelves at each corner. Jetted tub and separate shower were also welcome assets to the bath. Service by Dohti and Jazhir was excellent. They kept our ice bucket filled and the room spotless. And, of course, the evening turndown service with chocolates and towel characters was much appreciated. The showroom venue was impressive--all the features of a real broadway stage with orchestra pit, stage turntable, multiple stage risers, video screens, and comfortable seats. We viewed two outstanding shows: 'Recycled Percussion' direct from 'America's Got Talent' and Las Vegas, and 'Cantare,' a quartet of exceptional male voices singing 'oldsters' tunes. Both 50-minute shows were unexpectedly great and highly recommended. We by-passed the other shows. Dining was even better than expected. We only ate two evening meals in the main Manhattan Dining Room, but only because we were either too full or eating in the specialty restaurants. Both the Pinnacle Grill and the Tamarind are not to be missed. We've dined in many fine establishments over our lifetime, but the food and service combination of each of these venues was as good as any in which we've eaten. I don't believe I've ever had a better New York Strip Steak as the one served in Pinnacle--perfectly cooked, tender and moist. My wife had an equally good Filet. Exceptional! The Tamarind provided the best Pompano fish I believe I've ever eaten (and I love Pompano.) We were delighted! Also, the Lido buffet had a variety of foods to satisfy everybody. Except I couldn't bypass the Eggs Benedict every morning. And the desserts-- Oh, Yeah! Alas, the Dessert Extravaganza I had expected was replaced by a Mexican Fiesta poolside. Oh, well... I survived. Our only participation in the spa services was my full-body massage. Ruby was excellent. Highly recommended. Shore stops included Half Moon Cay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Key West. We're not much into guided tours or excursions, unless it's really something we're interested in, so we only went ashore briefly at Half Moon Cay (where I'd previously ridden horses in the surf and jet skied), and at Grand Cayman, where we shopped, looked for our U.S. Money, and had chips and dip with drinks at the Marriott on 7-mile beach. Grand Cayman is worth a full vacation... We didn't go ashore at Cozumel, preferring to stay on board and enjoy the boat's activities. At Key West we visited the 'Truman Little White House' and jet skied around the island on a tour we pre-booked ourselves. The ship had lots of activities, only a few of which we participated in. I particularly enjoyed the Microsoft workshops presented by John Roberts, a Microsoft PhD himself. In his 30 to 40 minute workshops, he covered lots of info on Windows 8, which many of us were interested in, as well as some camera topics. Enjoyable and learned a lot! A few thoughts about this cruise and cruising in general: The primary market for Holland America Lines is senior citizens, generally aged 55 or older. Many have sailed many times. When I see low reviews or nit-picky reviews, I have to ask, "Is it because of the cruise line or because of the customers themselves?" The Nieuw Amsterdam is a beautiful ship with excellent service. Are there sometimes glitches? Of course. Our cruise had a few, but we dealt we them in a way that we always do. Deal with them and move on. Most of the crew works 7 days a week some 12 hours a day. They, too, may have a bad day. I read several reviews about reduced food service hours. The Lido has some lines open virtually all day and usually for a late snack around 10:30--11:30 pm. AND room service 24 hours a day at no additional charge except for tip. Overall, we had a marvelous time and hope others will also. O.K., I'll add one nit-picky thing: On our cruise's two formal nights, we ate in the Pinnacle Grill and the Tamarind where we saw male individuals in no formal attire whatsoever--no tie, no jacket. Com'on, HAL; enforce the rules. Best suggestions I can give: Plan thoroughly with backup plans for glitches. Review everything you can concerning your ship and itinerary. Prior knowledge is power. Determine your best cabin type and register early to get it. Hint: HAL had some nice interior cabins that could be coupled with luxury poolside cabanas for a couple of days that could offset the cost of a balcony suite. Expect additional costs each day of drinks, tips, excursions, spa treatments, shopping, etc. Disembarkation was slow but we were off ship and at the airport by 9:50. Wish I could have stayed on the Nieuw Amsterdam... Read Less
Sail Date: November 2012
My spouse and I were on our first transatlantic cruise with HAL on the Nieuw Amsterdam for the Transatlantic farewell and we embarked in Barcelona on October 29th. Embarking was quick, smooth, a pleasant experience free of hassle that ... Read More
My spouse and I were on our first transatlantic cruise with HAL on the Nieuw Amsterdam for the Transatlantic farewell and we embarked in Barcelona on October 29th. Embarking was quick, smooth, a pleasant experience free of hassle that some of our friends told us to expect. Our first day on board was pleasant and the weather was sunny but chilly on our on time departure. As this was our first cruise with HAL we were not surprised to have high health standards on the first days that we were on board. By high standards I mean having a crew member to hand you hand sanitizers every time you came in and out of the dining room, Lido, theater, etc. and have the Cruise Director, Dave Shea repeatedly asking the guests "to wash your hands" in his inaugural speech when presenting the Captain and crew. What was not told to us while boarding was that the ship was already under a health RED alert as a lot of guests had started their cruise in Venice 7 days earlier. The first day at sea was just fun discovering all the secrets of the ship and trying to get a sense of all the good written information/promotions that was given to us. Then after our first port call in Cadiz, Spain we started to look at other guests and realized the age difference... and we are in our early sixties. We realized then that the on-board activities were more directed towards the over 70 crowd than the more active and younger crowd. Please be assured that my comments are not directed to any guests or age group but just realizing a fact. This will definitely cave in for the next cruise selection. Then after 4 days, right after Lisbon, we were surprised when the health standards were dropped for a while and then came back 3 to 4 days prior to our arrival. We understood there was another major health problem especially when all crew and staff were affected to clean disinfect all chairs, tables, handrails, flower pot, 5 minutes before lunch time in the Lido. We could not sit on the chairs or deposit our plates on the table as there was a soapy mixture left lingering everywhere. During nighttime there were masked crew spraying carpets and walls of all corridors. All spas, pools were shut down and drained until FL. We were alerted of the "second" red code alert on board by some crew members with whom we had friendly contact and we were waiting for some information from the Captain on the situation. It never came. Never. We "literally" had to get the information out of a Head Housekeeper's mouth after telling her "that it was our right to know what virus was going around" as she was heading a small 3 person crew in disinfecting the room next to ours. Her answer was diplomatic but not reassuring enough as we felt she was not authorized to speak about the matter. We were very much disappointed by the crisis management of these situations which happens often on a cruise ship (as I learned later). We understand hygiene is very important on board and especially when on a 6 days crossing and confined to the ship. But transparency and communication is key in these situations. Instead of just changing procedure without notice and only reiterating and asking "to wash your hands" an informative memo in each cabin mailbox from the Captain or on board Doctor to acknowledge the virus and explain hygiene procedures would have been good communication to the guests. Not giving any information on the situation was not the right decision by HAL and we were very disappointed by HAL in this situation. I am not sure how other cruise line proceed but hopefully they communicate better to their guests. The crew, the service (24hrs), the cabin, the food, especially at dinner in the Manhattan, the activities that we attended, the full rest we enjoyed most often on Promenade deck as the Lido deck always had music. The ship and its decor, and the transatlantic crossing were terrific besides those Red Alerts and the not so good evening shows. The Cabana Club was closed all the time and could have been opened without services during the crossing for more guest space in the sun and fresh air instead of sitting there idle...Sometimes company rules should be revised according to the nature of the cruise. Disembarking was more than crazy as a lot of people did not follow the procedures or lines. One woman said to me "see it as a highway ramp and I am on the ramp and going through". This was a last bugger going out of the ship and no crew were helpful. All in all a terrific first crossing experience and for our next cruise we will definitely look for a younger crowd and hopefully a bug free ship.....if this can be found. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
HAL could not take my luxery cruise to the last 5-10% to make it what they claim it is. The concept of a cruise and a world wind tour of Europe was appealing to me and I did have an excursion almost every day. The conceriage on board ... Read More
HAL could not take my luxery cruise to the last 5-10% to make it what they claim it is. The concept of a cruise and a world wind tour of Europe was appealing to me and I did have an excursion almost every day. The conceriage on board was dedicated to the penthouses and deluxe suites. He was about as useless a tits on a bull. Let's just call him Worst for now. Out of 7 requests to the Neptune lounge, 6 equests had to be followed up on with a phone call. I ended up doing most things myself. The value to have laundy service, the crappy Neptune lounge and Worst is not there. You would be better off paying for the extra laundry service and booking a superior suite, it's just a little smaller. HAL's Internet has no value either. They charge by the minute and with the slow speeds, they're gone before you know it. The FCC shoud regulate this and make them charge by the data transfered like wireless companys. This is only good for simple emails. I won a free drink at a poolside dance party but could only have beer, wine, or water. HAL is so cheap that they can't serve me a drink; maybe the white Russian I asked for? This set the tone for the cruise. There was no explaination for anything, I had to figure it out on my own. No warm welcome here, just treated like a sheep. Baaaaaaaaaa! The Tamerind was over rated and I walked out before service after they embarrassed my wife and they sat us by the bus station. The manager came running down to the Manhattan to apologize. And who serves soup in a big bowl with a small spoon? Every time I dipped into the bowl with the spoon my hand hit the side. They might want to rethink this combo. The cabin stewards, Manhattan dining room, photo studio, and pinnacle grill personnel were the best. No problems there. I did buy $2600 worth of photos, a wine package, 3 bottles of $90 champagne and a bottle of Dom; but who cares? Le Cirque was over-rated and I cancelled the second reservation. Someone should tell them that the lobster salad isn't gourmet and the chicken was really salty, julienne vegetable don't automatically make it gourmet. The menu is limited and the Pinnacle grill had better food. The deluxe veranda suite is already worn and is reminiscent of a mobile home. I'm in the Barcelona Hilton and the accommodations and service dwarf that of HAL's. Not attitudes here.......... This cruise was sold a Mediterranean romantic cruise: 1. Who brings their kids on a romantic cruise? (hillbillies, euro trash, and glopnicks) 2. Why didn't HAL uphold the dress code for the day? Shorts, tennis shoes, and soccer Jerzies on formal night, really? 3. 4 people to a nighttime gondola ride in Venice? Really? The HAL rep had an attitude with me when I tried to get a separate gondola. I said, " I don't need to argue with you, I sure there 's someone higher up who cares." I did get a gondola for two but he then had a chip on his shoulder the next day. Boo-Hoo..... If I decide to go on another cruise I will not book HAL. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
I want to start by saying that although I am a cruising newbie I am an experienced traveller of sorts from North America to South America to Europe to Africa...from first world to developing I have seen a lot that has made me laugh,cry and ... Read More
I want to start by saying that although I am a cruising newbie I am an experienced traveller of sorts from North America to South America to Europe to Africa...from first world to developing I have seen a lot that has made me laugh,cry and sleep in my clothes on the sheets. The one thing that I can count on is no matter how little rainfall a place has had before I arrive it will have some while I am there. Sorry to my fellow passengers..... We decided to take a family cruise and booked with HAL because my parents have sailed with them before and have been completely satisfied with their cruises. Now I get what people say about HAL having an older demographic, I get that but truthfully- I'm 42,I work. A Lot. I don't want to hear drunk idiots at 2am, I don't want to race 30 year olds to the pool loungers, I don't want a cruise half filled with kids,I'm not single and looking to hook up, I want to relax and have a sense of decorum. HAL gave us all of that. I researched cruising on this site and came armed with power cords, duct tape, baggies, wipes and a crap load of other things that I never needed. Granted I don't have a CPAP machine or any other 'special'needs. The Ship: Spotless. Yes, I read the comments about the carpeting being dirty and I spotted it in the foyers near the elevators but darn it who would pick mustard yellow and expect it to stand up to that kind of traffic? It certainly was vacummed and cleaned constantly as were the elevators and any area of the ship that you would touch. I'd be waaaay more worried about the interac machine you just used-no one cleans them. 5/5 for HAL in the cleanliness and hygiene.Wiping, sweeping, cleaning,vacuuming it never stopped. I also greatly appreciated the SILENCE. No annoying paging or unecessary announcements. I'm not ADS, I want to relax! The Staff: Outstanding. I have nothing more to say. 5/5 The shows/nightlife: Again I vacation to relax and wind down so the show and nightlife are not a priority for me although the one night I made the comedian he was Welsh and fabulous.The piano bar is also wildly popular but is a closed crowd-when they saw us and our age they basically laughed us out of the place...until the pub crawl-what a night-I lost the next day because we had such a great time with the staff and the other passengers. Ages from 23-75 and we took our revenge on the piano bar that night!So sorry.... The ports and excursions: We spent $1000 each on excurions through HAL and never had a bad one. Maybe it is just me but I want to book a sure thing on my vacation and being a first timer I did't want the unknown or to be left behind so it was money well spent. Having said that I fully get that if you have seen a port a couple of times then branching out and taking an excursion not offered by the line is a great choice.The tours we took were all top notch. We never did get to Livorno due to the weather but the 5 ships in Rome that day cancelled as well. What we later found out is that they circled the Med on the off chance they could get in and then cancelled while we sailed to Sardinia and had an amazing day. I'll get to Tuscany some day but most likely will never be back to Sardinia so it was a lemons to lemonade day. The food: We chose anytime dining and never had a problem getting a table and the ship was full. Typically our time of choice when port excursions allowed was 6:30pm. Mind you we always sent my younger and very good looking sister down to secure a choice time. Do I feel bad about that? Nope...again back to using that demographic thing to our advatage. Tamarind-amazing, best steak ever. Lido for lunch excellent,tastes of the world-outstanding. Breakfast, eggs bennie-oh yeah.MDR-always hot and good, never a dud, plating and spicing excellent- I never felt I was dining in a place catered to a geriatric palate just a discerning one. So without hesitation I can fully recommend HAL and this ship based on my expectations and my needs. A clean ship, a sure thing, discerning tastes, quiet passengers, outstanding food, fantastic crew, relaxing atmosphere. Very civilized. Based on this we have booked The Eurodam in Feb for the Caribbean and are looking at Northern Europe in 2014. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
After completing a number of investigations into cruising we decided to choose Holland America and their new ship Nieuw Amsterdam. It was a fantastic cruise with lots of things to do onboard and the food was of a high standard. Below I ... Read More
After completing a number of investigations into cruising we decided to choose Holland America and their new ship Nieuw Amsterdam. It was a fantastic cruise with lots of things to do onboard and the food was of a high standard. Below I have listed pros and cons. After reading a lot of reviews we decided not to do any shore excursions by HAL and organised a few with cruise critic roll calls, the best thing we did as reports from other cruisers was that HAL excursions are extremely overpriced and not worth the money. Will definitely do another cruise, with who we are yet to decide. Pros: Cabin was well set out and the balcony was worth the extra cost. Our cabin stewards Arie and Gerdie were excellent, nothing was a problem. Food, lido had a good array of food for all tastes. Manhattan dining room was very good. Pinnacle grill was well worth the extra cost as was the Tamarind. Dined at Le Cirque one evening and wasn't worth the extra cost, would avoid this in future. Entertainment was very good but the Piano Bar was the highlight. This guy is a true entertainer. Comedian was very funny. The shows by cast members very entertaining. Embarking and disembarking was not a problem, very efficient. Cons: Why this ship hasn't got free wifi astounds me, the penny pinching wifi access was either non operating and very costly. When we docked at Argostoli there was free wifi in the information centre and at any given time there was about 60-70 people using this. If HAL had any sense they would provide free wifi at least in ports, if it was a money making exercise think about this, if I had access to wifi in ports I would be using this whilst having a drink or two which isn't a bad money spinner for HAL 15% service charge on all drinks, what a farce this is. Even on soft drinks they did this. Build it into the cost of the drinks and get rid of the charge, just plain stupid really. Why do Australians pay more? I asked this question to the future cruise person on board and he admitted this was true and just shrugged his shoulders and said this is fact but couldn't answer why exactly. To be fair and equitable HAL needs to offer specials to Australians. Talking with fellow cruisers we paid in excess of $1,000 more than some travellers. HAL Australia needs to be up to date with their knowledge. I was told I couldn't pre book a table or time prior to travelling but this was not the case as a fellow cruiser from America could not only book his time but the table also. We were also advised by HAL Australia that the fee would be $11 per day per person but this was $11.50 and was changed over two months before the cruise. Only a small amount but HAL Australia needs to be up to date. As stated HAL shore excursions. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
We just returned from the Mediterranean Empires cruise on HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam, 18-30 July, 2012. It was GREAT! We absolutely LOVED it! The ship was great, smiling staff, and I felt completely spoiled! This was our first cruise, ... Read More
We just returned from the Mediterranean Empires cruise on HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam, 18-30 July, 2012. It was GREAT! We absolutely LOVED it! The ship was great, smiling staff, and I felt completely spoiled! This was our first cruise, and we really didn't know what to expect. However, the staff really made us feel at ease and we were able to spend a lot of time visiting with new friends from around the world. We didn't take any of HAL's excursions, but went on several privately arranged ones. My husband and I are grateful for the excellent people we met through Cruise Critic's forums for their tour arrangements. We had small group tours, usually 7-9 people, and really enjoyed ourselves. Re the food: It was fine. I had read that some people were upset with the lines in the Lido restaurant. We never encountered more than four people ahead of us, except on one night at the Flavors of the World station. Even then, the line moved quickly. No pushing, shoving, or any other discourteous behavior. We went to the Tamarind restaurant and when we told the manager that we are vegetarians, he said that we could have a reservation on any night. Even if they were booked quite full. It had more to do with menu selection, and on the night we went there, the chef created a special soup for us. It was delicious! We also dined in the Manhattan, and that was fine. Everyone talks about the bread pudding and it was wonderful. I wasn't impressed with the ice cream, but I noticed that made no difference to the children on the cruise! The Canaletto restaurant was great and we enjoyed our dinner there with friends on the last night of the cruise. Our cabin: A very small interior cabin. The only issue I had with this is that it was hard to not make noise and wake up my husband, when I woke up early. I did have issues with the bed. The bed was soft enough, but for some reason I had a lot of back pain during the cruise. Throughout the cruise. However, I got a couple of massages and worked out twice a day and that helped. I had trouble finding a quiet place to read in the early morning (4:00-5:00 am, before the gym was open). The deck had jazz playing, the Lido had classical music (least intrusive for reading to me), etc. I just wanted good old silence. I really couldn't find a place with no music playing. Guess HAL feels that it's better to have music on all the time. Staff: Absolutely wonderful! Michael and Jobelyn from the spa were really helpful to me. They arranged to give me massages at short notice, due to the pain I was in, and Michael actually gave me a longer massage than he was required to do, because I had had so much pain. Compliments to Big Mac (waiter and bar staff member), Daniela (the life stylist), and our room steward who tidied it three times a day and brought our laundry to us everyday. Best Tip: I got this off of Cruise Critic. Get the unlimited laundry package! You'd be surprised at how much laundry you go through when it's hot outside! We went through two changes of clothes per day, at least and that wasn't including gym clothes! It simply was because it was so hot when we went into various ports. All that stone really holds the heat in. By the way, you do check off the box on the paper which goes into your small laundry bag, which reads "Unlimited Laundry." However, you also have to make arrangements through the Front Desk for this service. Although I didn't know to call the Front Desk about this until several days after we arrived on the ship (because a previous review said to just check the box on the paper and I didn't have the info in English in my cabin), HAL did not charge me extra. Things I Wish Had Been Different: There was a Venetian Ball on the 19th of July (2nd night of the cruise) and I wish that we had known this before we went on the cruise. A lot of people said the same thing. I could have bought a nice mask in Venice, as we certainly saw many for much less than they were charging in the ship's shops. AND, a much bigger selection. So, if you are going through Venice, do yourself a favor and get a mask in advance. Also, my husband is Dutch and so all the cabin literature was in that language. My Dutch isn't good enough to get through all that information, so I had to call twice in order to get all information sent up in English. That's not the end of the world, but I might have known about the Venetian Ball even sooner than I did (3 hours before it started) if I had had that information in English. Best Thing About the Cruise: The time my husband I got to spend together, and the new friends we made! If you want to be completely spoiled and cared for, this is the way to go! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
On a lark one day in January 2012, my husband sent me an email with a link to an incredible transatlantic cruise ship sale. Leaving Miami, Florida, on April 1 it would take more than four weeks to arrive at its final glorious destination ... Read More
On a lark one day in January 2012, my husband sent me an email with a link to an incredible transatlantic cruise ship sale. Leaving Miami, Florida, on April 1 it would take more than four weeks to arrive at its final glorious destination -- Venice, Italy. Along the way it would stop several times in Portugal and Spain, once in France, followed by three or more stops in Italy, then Turkey with Venice bringing the adventure to glamorous end. Seeing all of these places sounded terrific and we spent wonderful hours giving it some serious thought. April 1 is our anniversary and so the voyage was a go! On board the Nieuw Amsterdam, everything we needed to be comfortable was there in our little cabin -- a queen sized bed with nightstands on each side both with good reading lamps, a desk with yet another good reading lamp and access to the Internet, a large closet safe, great storage for luggage and clothes, a very appealing bathroom and a steward who introduced himself as Helmi. He would prove to be one of the best features of the cruise. From Indonesia, Helmi brought his culture of graciousness to his work. He proved to be a lovely person and we are grateful to have met him. Helmi kept our cabin spotless and well organized, he answered our endless questions about his country and about the ship and he never once forgot the chocolates on our pillows. Getting on board the Holland America ship, the Nieuw Amsterdam was a pleasure especially compared to flying these days. Security was in place, but not intrusive and invasive. Anticipating the civilized welcome, most passengers were well dressed and all were excited to be traveling. Everyone we interacted with on staff was courteous and helpful, even gracious, and within a short time we were on board and invited to a pre-sailing lunch. There was a buzz on board with the anticipation passengers brought with them while the ship's crew actively welcomed their guests and made all of us feel at home. On board, everything we needed to be comfortable was there in our little cabin -- a queen sized bed with nightstands on each side and good reading lamps, a desk with a good reading lamp and access to the internet, a large closet safe, great storage for luggage and clothes, a very appealing bathroom and a steward who introduced himself as Helmi. He would prove to be one of the best features of the cruise. From Indonesia, Helmi brought his culture of graciousness to his work. He proved to be a lovely person and we are grateful to have met him. Helmi kept our cabin spotless and well organized, he answered our endless questions about his country and about the ship and he never once forgot the chocolates on our pillows. Small boats called tenders that transport passengers in ports without adequate docking facilities double as lifeboats, but that was not a thought I wanted to dwell on. When we boarded in Miami, before leaving port all passengers were required to participate in a safety drill so we were well acquainted with the deck and with procedures should anything go wrong. There were additional drills for staff every few days along the way -- man over board and others. Our captain was a serious fellow from Holland named Vincent Smit. He was very gracious with the ship's passengers and with us personally, but he was all business about his job. That proved very comforting as there had been a few serious cruise ship problems in the news in the month before departure. As is sometimes said, Captain Smit "ran a tight ship." This sea voyage passed more quickly than I would have imagined. The ship was beautifully managed, always spotlessly clean with attractively and comfortably furnished spaces. Staff were friendly and helpful without ever being intrusive. The food in the two main dining rooms was always good and there was enough variety to keep everyone happy. The three small specialty restaurants were each disappointing even though there was an extra charge for dining in them. There were lots of spaces for socializing, but as well there were comfortable places to enjoy a bit of solitude. The Nieuw Amsterdam seems to appeal to mature adults who aren't looking to be scaling rock walls or other things of that sort. It did have a schedule of activities -- lectures, cooking classes, bingo, music ensembles, night club acts and it had a beautifully outfitted gym with huge windows overlooking the sea. Stassi and I entertained ourselves reading, catching up on unseen movies, walking the deck and writing. All in all, it was a very pleasant time. For a more detailed account of our trip, visit us at http://krika.com/STORIES%20CRUISE/SCRUISE.html Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
We (husband and I) were looking forward to this cruise as a relaxing end to 6 weeks of travelling around Europe. There was so much to see and do, however, that we didn't ever get into total relax mode, but we wouldn't have had it ... Read More
We (husband and I) were looking forward to this cruise as a relaxing end to 6 weeks of travelling around Europe. There was so much to see and do, however, that we didn't ever get into total relax mode, but we wouldn't have had it any other way. From embarkation to disembarkation at the end, we really couldn't fault HAL and we are already scheming towards another HAL cruise in the next year or so. We arrived by train at St Lucia station from Nice and managed our bags ourselves over the bridge (no ramps, whyever not??) to the people mover. From here the ship wasn't well signposted and we found others as confused as we were looking for the luggage drop. However we'll be fine next time. Very pleasant staff on check in, we were delighted to find we had been upgraded to a veranda stateroom (from oceanview, very nice) and took possession of a lovely stateroom which far surpassed our expectations. It was a disabled room which meant plenty of room and we made good use of the balcony at every opportunity, just fabulous entering and leaving port. Thank you HAL! Bags arrived after a couple of hours and we were able to unpack completely and store bags under the beds. Plenty of storage. Met our room steward later, and this was one of the few times we actually saw either of them as we were nearly always out when they worked their magic. We did enjoy the towel critters though, as we were travelling with a little stuffed toy "Spotty Dog" which we take photos of at lots of points on our travels, for our wee 2 year old grandson. When we get home I will create a story with pictures for him about Spotty Dog's travels, and there will be a special chapter on his encounters with the weird and wonderful animals met in our stateroom, created by our stewards. Thank you, boys, we loved them! I took photos each time. We chose anytime dining and had no problems being seated promptly at whatever time we wandered up to the MDR. We usually chose to sit with others and we met some lovely people on each occasion. The meals were extremely good, we thought, always beautifully presented and delicious, and not overly large which I think is good; by the time you've worked your way through three or even 4 courses, that's a seriously good meal. We also tried the Pinnacle Grill which was excellent, the fillet steak here was surpassingly good, and Tamarind which was something quite different and also exceptional. We ate in the Lido a couple of times and enjoyed that too, though it's a different kind of dining. The food was tasty and varied but the servers often provided very small servings unless you asked for a little more. I guess that's no problem, you can always go back, maybe they are saving us from ourselves! We did find that breakfast in the Lido on port days was a busy affair with so many people wanting breakfast at the same time but the service staff were unfailingly calm and courteous and the crowd thinned out after half an hour or so. we discovered that the MDR is the place for a relaxed and leisurely breakfast and went there a couple of times to avoid the rush upstairs. The thing that amazed us on this ship was the number of passengers whose attitude toward the staff was seriously lacking; we witnessed many occasions when stewards were spoken to rudely, snapped at, demanded for things and generally treated in a most arrogant and offhand way. Never once did we see any reaction to this behaviour on the past of ship staff and they should be commended for it. The words 'please' and 'thank you' are entirely missing from many people's vocabulary. I felt like apologising for them sometimes. Port excursions (the ship tours) were relatively expensive, we thought, though sometimes they were the most reliable way for us to see the highlights of a place and be sure of getting back to the ship on time. We joined a group of seasoned travellers on one occasion and had a most enjoyable private full day tour of Istanbul which covered a lot more than the ship tour offered, but once you know the ropes you can plan these excursions with confidence. CruiseCritic forums are valuable here, use the roll call to get to know your fellow travellers in advance. We didn't take wine aboard or buy soda cards etc, choosing to buy the 3-bottle deals of wine in the MDR. The bottles followed us around the ship, wherever we ate and this was great, if a little expensive but we knew it would likely be so. Can't see the point of taking bottles of wine aboard if you can only drink them in your stateroom, better to be socialising in one of the many bars. We met some lovely people this way. Overall we just loved our 12 days on Nieuw Amsterdam and have nothing but praise for the ship, its management and the whole ambiance of the cruise. I can't imagine that any other cruise line could offer more, but then as a first time cruiser I have nothing to compare it with. No matter, we are already looking at another cruise in the future Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
As first time cruisers, we had nothing to compare this cruise to, and were unsure what exactly to expect. We booked VF category, which meant we didn't know our cabin until about 2 weeks from departure. Room 5002 was just amazing. ... Read More
As first time cruisers, we had nothing to compare this cruise to, and were unsure what exactly to expect. We booked VF category, which meant we didn't know our cabin until about 2 weeks from departure. Room 5002 was just amazing. Right at the front of the ship, we had a larger than usual room for this category, and extra deck area as well. One window faced out to the front of the ship, next to the foredeck (which was not open to passengers except for two times), as well as our doors to the balcony. It is an accessible cabin, which means that the bathroom area has a "wet shower" and only one handbasin. We used the other shower over the bath so as not to end up with water all over the toilet. A curtain to protect the toilet area would be our only suggestion for the room. We were traveling with a group of 12, and there was plenty of room to entertain all in our room before dinner each night. Dining in MDR - we enjoyed being seated together at adjoining tables, having booked the 8pm sitting. Service was just wonderful - our table attendant was friendly and developed a good rapport with our group. We did not feel that service was slow at all. Food choices were varied and interesting and most meals enjoyed - the salmon was the only disappointment, and desserts often didn't live up to expectations (but one really doesn't need dessert anyway!) As a couple, we preferred to eat in the MDR for lunch when in port, it was just less hectic, and more "civilised" and this was an opportunity to mix with others at a table. We also went there for breakfast on several occasions, before trying (and succeeding with) the room service breakfasts. Our group enjoyed our Pinnacle Grill and Tamarind experiences - nice to be treated to a change of environment and other meal choices. The two of us also booked for "Le Cirque" , but I was disappointed with this. It was very nice, but to be honest I was expecting "Wow!". The service was adequate, but the food was not over the top special. A small niggle - special mention is made in all the literature about the special designer name dishes we would eat from - no... we saw the special plates when we first sat down, but we not served any food on them. They were whisked away quickly and we ate off plain white china. We pre-booked our excursions from the HAL website and found these all really good. Disembarkation at each port was managed smoothly and the buses all well labelled and quick to get going. We deliberately chose not to do the main tourist spots, but took wine and food type excursions. The guides informed us well about the history of the local area as well as some of the political issues facing their countries, which I found interesting up to a point. The best guides knew when to stop talking and let us reflect and enjoy the scenery - one did not! We felt our excursions gave us good value for money and a good taste of the places visited. Some ports gave us time to spend in the local town as well, which was enjoyed. Monte Carlo was missed due to rough seas in port and the fact we would be tendering to land. We did the Tuscan wine tasting tour from Livorno, visiting a few countryside villages before our wine tasting at a villa, that included a tour of the winery, a variety of wines to try along with antipasto. Entertainment - I was not impressed with the shows I saw in the "Showroom at Sea" especially the Garage Band one where the musicians were not playing anything, it was all mimed, and really put me off - it made me wonder if the singers were miming too. We did not attend many of these shows, sometimes dropping into the Piano Bar instead which was often crowded, but a nice environment to chill out after dinner. We liked the space in this ship - there were many places you could go to chill out - the Silk Den was often empty during the day and was nice to enjoy the views from here. We took part in a couple of the Quiz sessions (hard questions though!) and took some time out in the library as well. The pool areas were very busy, and the aft pool was quite exposed to the wind. Taking shelter in the Lido pool had it's hazards too as kids often ignored the rules and had lots of fun jumping into the pool regardless of others. All in all this was a great introduction to cruising - the positives far outweighed any negatives, but I think we're spoiled forever now as we'll never have that space in a room again. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
Review of Nieuw Amsterdam- Eastern Caribbean February-15-11 1:07 PM Cabana Girls Cruise Cabin 6058 SS Capri Family Cabana Sailing February 6th, 2011 1st Holland American Cruise 2nd cruise ever ... Read More
Review of Nieuw Amsterdam- Eastern Caribbean February-15-11 1:07 PM Cabana Girls Cruise Cabin 6058 SS Capri Family Cabana Sailing February 6th, 2011 1st Holland American Cruise 2nd cruise ever Travelled with my Daughter her 1st Cruise We arrived at the terminal around 11 am as was suggested by my CC friends and we were on the ship by Noon..We went directly to the Cabana Club we rented the Capri family cabana.. where there was ice cold water and fresh chocolate dipped strawberries waiting. Michael and Lenny were our Cabana Club Stewards..Lenny gave us our Cabana tour and then a menu and asked what we wanted for lunch. We were in the middle of lunch around 12:45 and were told our cabins were ready. We finished lunch and went down to our cabin, our wine had been delivered, our shore excursions were all there. And our Bon Voyage gifts had arrived.. So far everything was just right.. The cleanliness of the cabin was another thing...there was hair in the tub, and quite a bit in the bathroom sink, a sight I'll never forget it looked like someone clean out their hair brush. The bathroom floor was dirty, and there was broken glass on the sofa, table and carpet, as well as out on the balcony. I called the concierge to have it cleaned up, and we went out and took a tour of the ship..our first impressions of HAL were certainly mixed with the stark cleanliness of the Cabana and the condition of the cabin..we waited about an hour and returned to the cabin where everything was ship shape, and we met our cabin steward..I did not see him nor did I feel the need to until we met in the hallway the last two days of our cruise as the cabin was fine as far as cleanliness after that. We did find the pantry and got our own ice no big deal to do that.. The cabin size was fantastic, and the balcony exceeded our expectations. We loved the amount of storage and the shelving which you could configure to your needs..nice touch. We ate in the Canaletto the first evening the seafood linguine is delicious! The ship is beautiful, and the art work and the atrium stunning..my favourite place to sit other than the cabana was the crows nest.. once we figured out which end was which we had no trouble finding our way around and took the mid ship glass elevators which seemed faster. The first day was a sea day and as expected we spend the entire day in the Cabana Port days were pretty much as expected and I won't go into them for the purposes of this review, embarkation and disembarkation were uneventful..EXCEPT one thing that I did not learn on CC is that now you are required to carry with you your government issued id, such as a drivers licence or passport. I did not bring it with me for San Juan as I change my pants for shorts at the last minute and my licence was in my pants..I did have a business card with my name and photo on it and they finally accepted that. I did dine at Le Cirque and found that experience to be poor. I was expecting to see the pinnacle somehow transformed but all they did was change the plates. I did like the soup but for 40 dollars in my opinion it was not worth it..the lobster was nothing special, I had the halibut which was steamed and tasteless. But a generous helping of fish..Would not recommend this restaurant. I did dine at the Tamarind and was blown away by this experience, the people, the food, the decor was wonderful and at 15. pp was well worth it. IF I travel with HAL again I would eat there every night except formal night. FYI do not have the Tempura Ice Cream you will never think of ordinary ice cream in the same way again..I'd sail HAL again just to have this dessert. The main dining room, the decor was OK. The food on formal night they hit it out of the park with everyone at our table I had the lamb and could have stayed for seconds. The only problem is it is very crowded, the tables are too close together, and it seemed to be quite warm. We only ate there that evening. We were well suited for open dining, and would most definitely request that again. I cannot comment on the entertainment as we did not attend one show, after dinner we would enjoy a drink on our lovely balcony and just enjoy the sound of the ocean for an hour or so then take a walk around the deck, head for the casino for an hour and then call it a day. Would I sail HAL again? I am not sure I did buy a Future cruise credit, but will I use it only time will tell. If I do sail HAL I would like to do this ship again. Because of the cabana I did not get to all of the areas I wanted to see. I had a great massage and even bought the robe. ;-) I would say that I think those Cabanas are for me the crack cocaine of cruising and I would be hard pressed to cruise any other way now. The only thing that HAL needs to address immediately is the rope signage that goes across the stairs. Several times because it is so awkward to unhook it to get in most people just tried to go over it and I saw several stewards and people trip and one fell my self included. I was not hurt but from then on I put down what ever I was carrying and took the time to unhook it and then re hook it before I continued to the cabana..Really dangerous The last night of the cruise I also noticed there was more broken glass on our balcony and several times during the cruise I saw passengers throwing things, orange peels, cigarettes, tissues overboard. No need for behaviour like that.. I do want to thank all the CC'ers and the lovely people I met from my roll call for all your help. I am open to answering any questions about the Nieuw Amsterdam or the cabin we were in. Oh and as a side note and never having seen HMC before I agree it is paradise and the new Bar loved it. Did not find the music overbearing or loud. Loved the fact I could climb up to the top and see a 360 view. Great place to spend time..I did leave our yellow cabana early 1:45 we were to be on board at 2:30, to go to the shop and purchase a HMC tee shirt, only to be told quite rudely actually that they were closing the store as they had to get back to the ship, I said I know what I want it would only take a minute she shut the door in my face. Very poor customer service so nothing to do but head to the tenders and return to the boat. We were back on board by 2:15..Lesson learned shop early..so now I have one more question for my CC friends can you buy a HMC tee shirt anywhere else? Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
Embarkation: Arrived via free shuttle from Marriott at 11:15am. Took about 20 minutes to get through the line. Was quick and easy. Ship: Overall the ship was very nice, however it was freezing most of the time and I had to bring a ... Read More
Embarkation: Arrived via free shuttle from Marriott at 11:15am. Took about 20 minutes to get through the line. Was quick and easy. Ship: Overall the ship was very nice, however it was freezing most of the time and I had to bring a blanket or sweater with me everywhere. -I loved the wrap around teak deck and was on it often. -Hallways where the rooms are felt out of place with the decor and carpeting. Felt cheap in comparison to the rest of the ship. -We booked 2 days in the retreat cabanas which was very relaxing and quiet. -I found the pools to be very small and crowded. You really couldn't swim in them. -Didn't enjoy having to walk through the smoke filled casino to get to the showroom. -Watched several movies in the screening room. Felt the screen could of been bigger, but the chairs were comfy and there was popcorn. Room: Had an AFT veranda room on the 4th level. Was spacious, and clean and we loved the balcony ALOT. The stewards did a great job of cleaning the rooms. We enjoyed the towel animals and chocolates in the evenings. We also ordered some DVDs to watch at night since we really didn't go to any shows. You could definitely feel the ship moving quit a bit in our room but it didn't bother us. Food: We ordered room service for breakfast every morning so we didn't have to go to the LIDO. Everything arrived warm each morning except toast. We found the food in the LIDO to be average except for the desert bar, which had great cookies. The LIDO however was very crowded and didn't like having to walk through it to get to the cabanas. The food in the MDR was excellent. They had a good variety each night. Ports: Grand Turk: Beautiful water however once you entered the water it wasn't sandy but rather rocks/dead coral so it didn't make for an very enjoyable swimming experience. We did go down to Jack Shack but turned around as there were too many boats in front where we would of swam. I'd skip this port next time. San Juan: We stayed on the ship at this port and enjoyed our retreat cabana. St. Martin - We visited Orient Beach because we heard the beach was beautiful. The beach was nice and we did swim in it but it wasn't as nice as others we have visited in the past. What ruined it for us was all the completely naked people walking along the side of the beach that wasn't suppose to be the nude side. Saw way too much and it caused me not to want to look at the water in case I saw some disgusting naked person walking by. Half Moon - Really enjoyed this. Water was absolutely gorgeous and great for swimming even though it was a bit cold. Wish we could of stayed longer. The clamshell we rented was nice during the morning but by the afternoon we had full sun inside. Disembarkation: Easy and smooth. We had a late flight so we were able to get off the ship at 10am. Do not use HALs transportation. They charge 17 per person. We caught a taxi ourselves to the airport for $12.00 total for both of us. Overall I enjoyed the cruise but would not return to do a Caribbean cruise as I much prefer a land based vacation so I can go swimming in the ocean on a daily basis and know what the water will be like. I would however return to HAL to do an Alaskan cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2010
My wife and I are both 26 and chose to spend our honeymoon and first Christmas together on the Nieuw Amsterdam. We booked with Holland America to avoid hoards of kids that would be inevitable over the holidays, seeking a more relaxing ... Read More
My wife and I are both 26 and chose to spend our honeymoon and first Christmas together on the Nieuw Amsterdam. We booked with Holland America to avoid hoards of kids that would be inevitable over the holidays, seeking a more relaxing journey. We got married on the 18th and flew down to Florida the next morning on Southwest Airlines. We got to Ft. Lauderdale exhausted and ready for some post-wedding R&R! We departed on Dec. 19. Overall - We had a very relaxing and enjoyable time on this very classy ship. We expected a cruise full of those 50+ and were pleasantly surprised by the number of young people (20s and 30s) on board. Also, it's worth noting for younger people considering HA, that even though the average age is higher, many HA cruisers are experienced travelers and we really enjoyed talking with them (including some in their 90s!) With scarce nightlife and less than active activities, you have do make your own fun. But with good happy hours and events like the pub crawl, fun can be found! Be sure to try trivia and bingo, kind of family activities, but they can get competitive. Since it was Christmas there were more families and the children were occasionally unruly, but generally they were not a bother and seemed to be occupied by the Club HAL staff. The lack of nightlife and more exciting activities was good for us on our honeymoon - it forced us to relax and take it easy. Next time, we will probably go with Princess or Royal Caribbean, but if you're looking for a very laid back, classy ship and crew, the Nieuw Amsterdam is a great fit. It was what we expected and a very enjoyable experience. Airport Transfer - We reserved the Holland America airport transfer from Ft. Lauderdale. Basically a coach bus, nothing special. At $17 per person, a cab might be cheaper as the port is within a few miles of the airport. But it was convenient to just step on a bus and relax. Embarkation - Fast. We were in our stateroom within 15-20 minutes. No complaints. The longest line was for the stupid picture they took of you. The Ship - Very manageable layout, however, the maps and info provided fail to accurately layout the ship. Nothing informed us that the gym was in the Greenhouse Spa! It was absolutely beautiful for Christmas, with decorations everywhere! The boat was very nice, with a classic feel to it. Some of the decorations were artificial feeling, but generally it was a nice, romantic boat and reminded us of scenes from the pre-glacier Titanic. Some commented on the rocking of the boat. There were a few nights where it did rock and it was difficult to walk in a straight line, but we were on deck 11 and did not find it overwhelming. Verandah Spa Stateroom (deck 11) - We opted for a Verandah, which we absolutely loved! We did not book a specific stateroom and, as a result, we received one of the "spa rooms." These spa rooms were nice with complimentary Vitamin and Voss water as well as some spa treatments and a trickling water plug-in the wall appliance. It was a nice free upgrade for us, but certainly not worth the extra cost if you paid the full price for that specific room. We were next to the Cafe and Bar on Deck 11, which were both very nice and good places to spend the day and night. Cruise Info - Being first time cruisers, we were out of the loop the first couple of days. The ship was very manageable to explore, but the information provided was scarce. In fact, we didn't realize the Manhattan Dining Room was the main dining room until our third day! We didn't know there was a gym until the fourth or fifth day. There was no handbook or guidebook to all the ship offers. When we asked, of course, the crew was always willing to help. Dining - We enjoyed the Italian restaurant and the main dining room. We were "open seating." You could make reservations and be guaranteed a seating at a certain time, share a table with others, or just show up and wait for a few minutes. We did all three and have no complaints. The food was excellent. We never tried the Pinnacle or the Asian restaurant because we were pleased with all the dining options. The Lido restaurant was not as well managed. There was hardly ever a clean table with silverware available. The staff was not as friendly and the food not as good. But it was a buffet, so I guess that's all to be expected. In Room Dining - HA offers complimentary in room dining with a complete menu from salmon to cookies and milk. Very nice concept, poorly operated the first few days. We could not get through the first two days as the line rang busy!!! We simply wanted to order a bottle of liquor for our room (and pay for it.) Eventually the novelty must have worn off and we were able to get through. Bottom line, enjoy it if you can, but don't expect it. Alcohol - I mention this, because HA has some decent deals for you to enjoy a drink and not experience a shock when you get your bill at the end of the cruise. Liquor bottle/mixer service (part of in room dining) is a great deal, with a 1 Liter bottle of Bacardi and 3 cans of coke being $36, vodka/gin and tonic being $32. This is especially good when a can of coke is $2 itself! Also, there are happy hours where drinks are 2 for 1 throughout the ship at various times listed each day in the itinerary. "Double fisting" (ordering two drinks for yourself) is encouraged! They also offer a "drink of the day" special for a dollar off. Finally, the pub crawl. For $20, you receive 4 drinks at various bars, with college-type games along the way. It was a blast! Beverage cards are another way to save. For $45, you receive a card worth $50 of alcoholic beverages. A similar card is available for soda drinks. One negative aspect of alcohol service on HA, the bartenders are not very skilled. Most "mixed drinks" contained too much mixer and were overpoweringly sweet (even for my wife that loves fuzzy navels, amaretto sours, etc.) They were OK during the pub crawl, but that was because the head bartender was with us! Stick to simple drinks like rum and coke, gin and tonic, or just beer/wine. Entertainment - On par with a college drama department's productions. They try hard to appeal to all audiences, and succeed to some degree. We found ourselves attending because it was the only thing to do after dinner. The comedian was funny, the singers/dancers try hard. Overall not bad, but don't expect Broadway. Nightlife - The ship is truly a ghost town after 10 (except the casino). Even with more young travelers over the holidays, you have to create your own fun at night. Destinations - We traveled to Half Moon Cay, Curacao, Bonaire. Half Moon Cay was what we expected, tender to the HA-owned island for a beautiful beach and lots of fun excursions. The weather was a little cool in December, on par with south Florida. The latter two islands though were plenty warm, averaging the 80s. Holiday Celebrations - I was very pleased with all the decorations in celebration of Christmas and the holidays. The ship was beautiful. The crew also put on a Christmas Eve celebration and religious services were also held. We were served a complimentary glass of champagne on Christmas. Very classy and very festive. Cleanliness - The ship was very clean and excellent sanitation measures seemed to be in place. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
Though the following review is 6 months late, the fact that the ship is back in the Mediterranean for its second season makes it hopefully pertinent. Our first time cruising at sea was the 32 day b2b TA Venice to Florida on the Nieuw ... Read More
Though the following review is 6 months late, the fact that the ship is back in the Mediterranean for its second season makes it hopefully pertinent. Our first time cruising at sea was the 32 day b2b TA Venice to Florida on the Nieuw Amsterdam in October 2010- an excellent choice on all fronts, i.e. cruise line,ship, location, and weather. We learned the hard way to be careful about the expressions "first cruise / first time cruising".Proud of this new adventure, we heartily raised our hands when the diners at the Mariners Luncheon (remember b2b) were asked who was on their first cruise. Those who did raise their hands were called "party crashers"by the CD.Ouch! Preparation for this grand adventure included many hours on CC sourcing tips, reviews,etc.which for the most part proved helpful.. Embarkation in Venice was relatively smooth and as our inside J cabin near the aft elevators wasn't quite ready, we retired to the Lido restaurant for some lunch and a glass of wine. Our room was sufficiently spacious though our over-packed 4 suitcases caused some restrictions. Live and learn on the luggage front. Crew and Staff - fantastic positive approach to pax. Stewards and assistants really deserved an end-of-cruise tip over and above the daily general charge. The ship As this was our first time cruising, we had nothing to compare the NA with but found it spacious and rather impressive particularly with the New York theme which we are familiar with from previous land travels.It takes a while to get used to the layout but it helps if one examines the ship decks online in advance. Lower Atrium- Front desk where the friendly get-to-know-you staff is knowledgeable on all things pertaining to your stay. Excursion desk where I found the staff, when on-duty, less friendly (glad I did the non prearranged tours using 3rd(?) level keyboard). Dining We are not fussy diners but we do appreciate good food and service. There was an abundance of both on the NA. The Lido- was the mainstay which was the goto when other dining rooms were unavailable. Generally went there for breakfast and lunch. If a late tour set meal schedules back or if you needed a late snack, a substantial fare is available in the Lido at 11pm. Had no problem at all with the variety of offerings or quality. The Manhattan Dining Room- was our designated "open dining" room with superb service and menus. It took several days before we got up-to-speed in using the services of this place, but we took advantage of shared accomodation at all dinners and some breakfasts as well as afternoon tea at 3 . On all occasions, we were introduced to many interesting diners. Service was always no problem in the MDR except on "at sea" days when there were no excursions and the volume of patrons at tea increased significantly.The layout and decor was impressive, the dining room conversations at bit noisy, and the air conditioning a bit cool in the inner step-up portion of the 2nd level MDR. We always looked forward to coming back to this place. We did not avail ourselves of the Pinnacle Grill, Silk Den, Explorations Cafe,or Canaletto. Yes, but we did experience the Pan Asian Tamarind and it was just great...no, super! We hadn't experienced such an interesting series of courses, teas, and service, as here. Just a note re the code orange and the fact that the dining staff in the Lido had to do all serving and distribution of items. As the Tamarind was not open during the breakfast time-frame, its staff was seconded to the Lido to assist with coffee serving and we were surprised when one of the Tamarind servers greeted us by name a few days after our visit there. Bars We drink socially and rather minimally so did not frequent any of the several bars each of which had their own character. Entertainment The Showroom at the bow of the ship is beautiful and was used for various activities including bingo, church services , movies, lectures,and of course evening shows. We did not take in very many of the shows but were impressed with most of what we saw particularly the enthusiasm of the ships singers and especially the dancers.We enjoyed a couple of the stage productions, e.g NYC, also an English comedian, and particularly a singer/impressionist named Robinson (sorry forgot 1st name).Apparently a juggler/comedian named Barnaby was a hit on this ship as well as Cantare. Hit Bingo almost every-time offered but won zilch. We took in a couple of cooking demonstrations ; didn't participate in the dance instruction classes. We did however dance to the Jimmy Maddox trio and Jen and the Hal Cats. Speaking of not winning at bingo, we were up and down in the wins and losses at the Casino as we cut our way through the cigarette smoke. One of the few areas on the ship where it was permitted internally, the smokers seemed in general to have a "because I can" attitude. Also, patrons of the Showroom had to run the smoke gauntlet to get to and from their destination. Gymnasium Used gym equipment on one occasion (though more warranted). Sat in on a free interesting presentation on toxicity in the human diet and environment. However, we went further afterward and had a not free health assessment using a machine with electrodes providing a printout on various readings.Found some of the findings questionable and particularly that a product was being recommended on an ongoing subscription basis. Paid bill and never went back. Please note that I understand the gym, casino, and Signatures shop are run by outside interests not HAL though I may stand to be corrected. Photo Gallery Ship-sponsored photos were taken upon embarkation, during Formal Dining Nights, and during some port dis-embarkations,etc. A cruise video dvd with highlights from various excursions was an ongoing project.Having heeded one CC'ers warning of annoying photographers, I refused when my wife mentioned someone wanted us to turn around for a picture. Turns out it was the cruise videographer and so we missed our chance to be included in the Venice departure scenes; did make it briefly in the Santorini trip. We purchased a set of MDR photos of ourselves as well as cruise and Mediterranean highlites dvd's. All reasonable. Library/computer Didn't avail ourselves of the library though many did. The pay for time used computer usage hurt, not only for the $30 for the half hour e-mail composition, but that we found out 2 weeks later that our intended recipients didn't receive anything. Once located, onshore telephone and e-mail each cost less than 2 euros for about 20 minutes usage. Ports This is the biggest and most interesting aspect of cruising. It does, however, require alot of thought particularly for "newbies". First of all, determine a philosophy regarding excursions. This sounds rather simplistic but is necessary. Participants should determine what is important to them,i.e. what locales are important to me and why. Do I approach cities and sites from a historical viewpoint or by popularity? How much do I think an excursion is worth versus what I am willing to pay? Do we like to "self direct" our excursions? Are we "intimidated" by the warning that if your "on your own" excursion is delayed for whatever reason, you're "on your own" as the ship won't wait. Though we visited several Italian ports, we didn't do Italy quite the justice it deserved so it awaits a further visit.Note to self...arrive in departure city at least 1 day early to cover jet lag and do some touring. Favourite locales for us included Monaco, Barcelona,Cartagena,and Granada.The Greek island of Thira (Santorini) is a "must-see" as well as Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Epilogue These 32 days resulted in us putting a deposit on a future yet to be selected HAL cruise. With all the friendly staff attention, interesting fellow travellers,great locations, fantastic food,and R&R prompted my wife to say, upon departing the ship, "we went to heaven" and I agree. Read Less
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 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
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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