5 Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam Group and Theme Cruise Reviews

Our trip consisted of a group of 8, all arriving from different destinations across Canada. We had a house rented in Fort Lauderdale for 3 days before the cruise, a lovely home within walking distance to the beach. Good thing we had 3 ... Read More
Our trip consisted of a group of 8, all arriving from different destinations across Canada. We had a house rented in Fort Lauderdale for 3 days before the cruise, a lovely home within walking distance to the beach. Good thing we had 3 days, because of weather we where delayed by over 24 hours. We embarked the ship in groups and met up in the buffet for lunch. Our bags arrived quicker than expected, so we sorted ourselves out, then went for a group party in one stateroom. We where on decks 4, 6,8. And we where very happy on deck 4. Turns out to be a good location to scoot out for the safety drill, a nice walk around deck 3, and also easy to run up to deck 3 if there was something to grab a photo of. We kept the tv on in our room when we where there, tuned to the forward cameras. Loved the option of viewing the Canal crossing on the TV, that was a long hot day. Every morning we enjoyed the buffet. You can’t go wrong, everything you can imagine plus some extra surprises. Lunch was by the pool at the burger place, or pizza. We only attended tea in the afternoon one day, but it was a very nice treat. Dinner we had a group table in the dining room for 8. We didn’t dine there every night, but made sure we all attended the gala nights. Other times we tried some of the different specialty restaurants available. The Pinnacle was a dinner that made you feel like you won the lotto. But our true favourite was the Tamarind. The staff made the dinner fun, and you felt truly welcomed. Plus the exceptional food, and presentation, made it a feast for the eyes. Most days, pre dinner, we attended the martini tasting, or the happy hour in the various bars. But be pre warned, the happy hour bars get full fast. We had beverage cards, so we didn’t worry about happy hour pricing. And I am glad we did, the cards where good for everything we wanted to drink, from sparkling water, to special coffees ,and drinks all around. Every day we had wonderful coffees made in the exploration area, the staff there knew your name and coffee within days. Days we didn’t go on excursions, we spent at the pool, loved the unobtrusive music. But there does need to be more shady areas. We found often people pulling chairs into doorways for shade, but that made it very inconvenient for others. Our group had all been at most of the locations on this cruise, so we didn’t depart at every port. But we really enjoyed the small markets they set up by the ship, for those who just want to purchase a souvenir. The casino was very quiet the entire trip, we did go to the bar there and lost some money at the machines. They did have some very nice piano players there as well . After dinner, it was usually a walk around deck 3 , before seeing what was on the show that night. Most nights we didn’t stay, we all found the entertainment to be lacking, the jazz band was not a group to dance to, so most just sat and listened. We all loved the national Geographic show, with the live performance. Disembarkation was a slow process, they called groups by colour, and there was even colours called that were not on the list, we where close to last. The whole finding your suitcase thing and getting in line , seemed confusing for some. Enjoyed a lovely night in San Diego before flying home. Staff who made this trip memorable: Jerry and Jenny in the martini bar. Janny in the exportation cafe. My perfect mocha. Abdul and Made who made our cabin home. Miguel and Joel who had the wine knowledge. Wayo, Davee, who served table 91 with grace. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
What an experience = met some of the past winners of the show and three of the juniors all of whom were very friendly and spent a lot of time talking with guests. The food was beyond excellent. The main dining room offered some of the ... Read More
What an experience = met some of the past winners of the show and three of the juniors all of whom were very friendly and spent a lot of time talking with guests. The food was beyond excellent. The main dining room offered some of the master chef choices to passengers not on the Master Chef portion of the cruise, it was nice for them to get a chance to enjoy the treats. We had a nice balcony cabin with great room stewards, they took care of our every need. We were unable to dock at Grand Turk due to high seas and wind, but we never felt it on the ship. We were always comfortable although it was a bit rock and roll sometimes when we were walking. All in all a great ship, wonderful crew. The mid size is also very nice, no long lines for the main dining room. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Overall it was a great cruise, probably the worst weather we have ever had on a cruise but we are not beach people so additional days at sea was fine. We missed Grand Turk and Half Moon Cay due to high seas and winds. The service, ... Read More
Overall it was a great cruise, probably the worst weather we have ever had on a cruise but we are not beach people so additional days at sea was fine. We missed Grand Turk and Half Moon Cay due to high seas and winds. The service, food, ship was top notch, as we expect from HAL. My DH said entertainment was good even though he only went to 2 shows. I loved the casino and saw some old faces from pass cruises. Embarkation and disembarkation was slow which was not typical for HAL but when there are mechanical failures you can't fault the staff. They quickly repaired and we moved through as usual. Dining room service seemed slower than usual but we were with a group of 26 people and staff served us all at one time. Pinnacle and Canaletto was excellent, will do them again. Our only concern was I misplaced my sunglasses in the cabin and never found them. I reported it to Guest Services and the room Steward. I have read on CC boards that other guests had items missing from their cabins, this is cause for alarm and needs to be addressed by HAL. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
I have to start by saying it makes me so angry when I read reviews about ships that I have personally sailed on and worked on most people need to get their facts straight before writing these reviews if you have nothing nice to say ... Read More
I have to start by saying it makes me so angry when I read reviews about ships that I have personally sailed on and worked on most people need to get their facts straight before writing these reviews if you have nothing nice to say don't say it at all. If anyone ever says that Carnival Corporation has had an influence on Holland America line I promise you now it is sheer fabrication this Cruise line was purchased by Carnival Corporation nearly 25 years ago in 1989 it was only recently the industry as a whole has changed it has nothing to do with Carnival corporation, Carnival Cruise Lines is very much a separate entity from all of the cruise lines Carnival Corporation holds This was a very affordable Cruise I have absolutely no complaints although there are some things I admit have changed over the years but it wasn't enough to even make a comment on board. The embarkation process was extremely smooth it was fast and all representatives in the cruise terminal were extremely friendly and helpful. I do not understand how Holland America is able to pull off the logistical nightmare that it must be to have every single state room ready upon embarkation. As promised my room was ready it was spotless regardless of what other Cruise critic reviewer say the staff works extremely hard to make sure every detail is taken care of. I was in a category VA a verandah stateroom on deck seven aft cabin number 7092 an absolutely perfect location near the elevators only two decks down from the Lido easy walking distance to absolutely everything my cabin attendant was always very very friendly the room was always very very clean and yes they do have a lot of state rooms to clean however I do notice they do seem rushed and small details are missed, however the state room was always clean. If you ever complain about the food on Holland America line you you must be very spoiled in your regular life. The food was always piping hot service was extremely fast in all of the venues especially the main dining room I will admit the presentation of the food did seem generic but that certainly did not sacrifice the quality or taste of the food. The absolute highlight of the dining experience on this cruise was the tamarind restaurant on deck 11 midship with amazing ocean views very friendly fast service and probably the best meal and especially the desert that I have had in a very long time worth every penny please note as of January the cost of this restaurant is going up to $20. We also experienced the pinnacle grill on the first formal night of the cruise here the food again was absolutely flawless however the steak was not prepared the way we ordered but again not enough to warrant to comments on board the one huge disappointment I saw in the pinnacle grill was on a formal night they allowed guests to Bc Ted wearing Jean jackets Jean shorts and Hawaiian shirts this was appalling and the staff claim no matter what they say the guests will complain and get the staff in trouble, the hotel manager on this ship needs to take notes very quickly you may upset one or two guests not in formalwear but you are upsetting the entire restaurant when the dress code is not enforced. The ports of call were all amazing half-moon cay of course flawless beaches perfect sunshine and the friendliness of the ship staff were there to serve you for lunch and in many of the bars. Grand Cayman our second tender port again we had flawless weather enjoyed beach time on 7 mile Beach a quick five dollars taxi ride each way per person will take you there drop you off near one of the bars and restaurants so you can have a quick lunch and grab a drink while enjoying your time on the beach if you prefer a less crowded and more secluded beach you can simply hire the driver and he will find the perfect spot for you. Cozumel Mexico of course one of my favorite ports we arrived at 11 AM sailed at 11 PM here the ships do not adjust to local time so the best piece of advice I can give is where a watch or do not change the phone all time on your cell phone to ensure you arrived back to the ship on time, so much shopping amazing restaurants and secluded beaches nearby I highly recommend any cruise with this port of call. Our final port of call was Key West Florida we docked at the Navy pier here pedestrians are not allowed to cross the base so the cruise line offers a complimentary shuttle to Mallory Square near the other cruise ship. Virtually everything is within walking distance in this port of call we paid for the $20 hop on hop off trolley tour I feel we could have walked the same distance for free. As for the entertainment Holland America usually locks in this department however I must say they have made vast improvements in the entertainment on board the production show was better than most I have seen on Holland America line ships granted it is still not the same caliber you will expect on other cruise lines the featured show was Recycled Percussion of America's got talent fame third runner-up on this show I was unsure how the typical Holland America guest would react to this show but this group of guys really knew how to play to their audience a wonderful addition to the fleet I look forward to seeing them on future cruises other fine entertainment on board I have to say was the piano bar, Greg was probably the best piano entertainer I have seen on any cruiseship, always willing to stay late play music and tell stories he was the reason we returned every night, I look forward to seeing him on other ships. Another feat that Holland America seems to pull off is allowing guests to remain in their room on the final day of the cruise yet still have state rooms ready when guests embark the ship I do not know how they do this but it certainly made the embarkation and disembarkation process much more comfortable than other cruise lines. Overall I will highly recommend Holland America line especially the Nieuw Amsterdam regardless of what others say the service was fantastic of course it was not perfect but you get what you pay for.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
The air was fragrant; the Jolly Roger was flying so it must be the annual LRBC in the Caribbean in January! The LRBC and ship's crew were working hard to get the stages and sound equipment up and running as quickly as possible upon ... Read More
The air was fragrant; the Jolly Roger was flying so it must be the annual LRBC in the Caribbean in January! The LRBC and ship's crew were working hard to get the stages and sound equipment up and running as quickly as possible upon boarding. The pool deck was turned into a mini festival area minus the mud and porta potties! The extra bar was set up to service the thirsty masses; extra servers were on deck working hard filling our drinks. The Crow's Nest is turned into the jamming area for the professional and amateur musicians would play there every day til the wee hours of the morning or sunrise, whichever came first! The Queen's lounge would be taken over by fabulous bands for the week, with a brief cooking demo by the Grammy Award winning Zydeco artist Terrance Simien. The ship is a full charter so many of the ships normal activities and routines are gone for the week. No HAL cats, no cheesy production numbers, no captain's cocktail party. Which for our blues cruisers is a huge improvement! We get a week of top notch blues and roots musicians. Jams that go on day and night. Opportunities for musicians to meet up and record with others that they may never get to do so with their touring schedules. Just a few of the headliners include Taj Mahal and the Phantom Blues Band, Elvin Bishop and Mickey Thomas, Mavis Staples, Tab Benoit, Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, Big Head Todd and the Monsters & the Mile High Horns (with Ronnie Baker Brooks sitting in), Monkeyjunk, Tommy Castro & the painkillers, John Primer Band, Kelly Hunt, the Voodoo women impromptu band with Samantha Fish, Debbie Davis, Mavis Staples, Kelly Hunt, Danielle Schenbelen, Eden Brent and Tony Braunagel (the token male from the Phantom blues band) and many more... All in all a fabulous line up. The music starts at about noon and goes on til 5am or later. Lots of energy drinks being consumed this week! For those of you who wonder what happens on a full charter here is some information. On this particular charter the pool deck sees the addition of large stage, a huge extra bar area, the hot tubs are covered over to make extra seating, the lounge chairs are removed and more chairs and small tables are on deck. The lido pool has no private cabana areas, just seating and loungers. The pool and hot tubs are fully operational in this area. The spa seems to run business as usual, many folks will go there before the music starts. As an FYI, there were no chair hogs, folks just come and go. By noon the loungers emptied out. The shops are dead dead dead. There is a Legendary shop set up in one of the conference rooms where blues cruise clothing and CDs are sold. The theater is the silent auction room where on this cruise paintings, memorabilia and guitars from Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy and ZZ Top were auctioned off (over $220K was raised for charity this cruise!). The ocean bar became a small jam area for whomever wanted to play. The explorer's lounge was empty. The diehard smokers were in the sports bar. A few gamblers in the casino. The piano bar was turned into a rockin' place by Eden Brent, Barrel House Chuck and Steve Willis. Many pro musicians turn up and jam there til 5am. The showroom has a little transformation -- rows of seats are removed and plywood is put down to make a large dance floor, extra bars are set up for the thirsty bunch. The pool deck can easily have 1000 people or more there at any given time. The Showroom can be filled to the rafters. The Queen's lounge will be at full capacity with people filling the dance floor and every seat and aisle filled with people. The bar is hopping there too! The cabin stewards do the best they can with some folks not even getting to bed til 6am. I don't think a lot of folks get their room cleaned during the day, only at turn down service. The dining room rarely is full. There are many folks who will eat in the buffet or grab a pizza slice. As an FYI the buffet and pizza on this cruise is open til 4am. The pizza guy and the assistant F&B manager were dancing up a storm at wee hours of the morning. Most, if not all of the staff will be hanging out listening and dancing to the music. Some staff and crew request to be on this charter every year. I did hear from one staffer that this is a $10 million dollar cruise, which far surpasses any other 7 day cruise HAL does, even other charters. Hence why they let the Jolly Roger fly and let us make ourselves at home. Apparently the Blues cruise charter will drink more in 2 days than on a good week of a 7 day cruise. As far as I know, no one removes the tips either and most will tip over and above. The bar staff can make a few bucks on this cruise ? I saw the cruise director once and he said the staff and crew were thrilled for us to be there as we were "a breath of fresh air" and hinting that on this cruise the average age was a few decades younger than usual. I didn't hear anyone complain about, well, anything. Our complaints were that the food isn't very good, the pizza was terrible, room service breakfast was bad, but the reality was we were there for the music. It was more a shrug of the shoulders, that's not why we were on board. Hubby and I eat in the Pinnacle or Tamarind every night, so no comments on the dining room, only from a friend who said the service was too slow to get back on deck and listen to the next band. We always get a balcony cabin and this year we chose to go right under the stage at the pool deck (8157) which was a great choice for us. If we had to nip back to the cabin we could open the door and hear the music perfectly, the vibrations from the speakers were very intense (I swear you could see the ceiling move!) and was loud. It worked out great! The jams on the pool deck would go on up until about 4:30am. I will be our preferred area for next year as well. The "mole people" tend to choose the lower deck inside cabins so they can sleep for a few hours in the morning. Something for everyone! Since this is a charter we get our own itinerary. The first stop was Half Moon Cay, which at the Stay Here Forever bar got a stage and Southern Hospitality (JP Soars, Damon Fowler and Victor Wainwright) played for a while the Lee Boys came on! It was fantastic! Smokin' Joe Kubick and the B'Nois King played acoustic guitars at the Pirate ship. I think many didn't even knew there was a BBQ happening. Drinks, music and beach were the order of the day. There was a wedding on HMC -- a lovely young couple enjoying the Lee Boys after their nuptials. We then had a sea day (all music til all hours) then Tortola where several of the local bars set up with local bands and Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience played at Myette's. The beach was crowded with blues cruisers, there was a Costa ship in port I am sure they were wondering what the heck was going on. The next day was St. Kitts where may did excursions and checked out the island. We headed for Brimstone Hill and enjoyed touring the fort. The next two days were sea days, so all music all the time! The LRBC tends to favour HAL as the staff and crew know the routine of the set up and type of cruisers and the expectations. The past October Cruise was on Celebrity Summit and there were many complaints of overzealous security. Yes we will bring on a case of wine, smuggle some booze but most will still rack up hefty charges in the week. We spent $1,200 even with our own wine and rum runners. The HAL ships really offer no bells and whistles and are very basic. But for this type of cruise it works in our favour. To be able to turn the showroom, pool deck etc. in to usable spaces for stages and huge sound equipment it makes it a great spot for the bands. One thing I noticed that that cabana's on HMC HAL jacked up the price, I think there was only one booked while we were there. Such a rip off. I noticed on the Carnival site that they charge $250 and HAL charges $399. So not worth it. The drinks package was upped $20 per day to $60 a day on this cruise. A little too expensive for us. The biggest complaint I had on board where the bug bites I got (and others as well) at the Pinnacle grill on the first evening of the sea day. I was told to bring this up with the Guest Services Manager, but was pretty much ignored by the front desk clerk. I doubt they ever looked into this situation. This ship sails at close to full capacity of 2500, many of the quad cabins are filled. Folks will room with strangers just to get on the boat. The October 18-25th cruise on the Maasdam is now sold out. It is sold out for next January as well. LRBC office loves it and I am sure HAL is thrilled that it is guaranteed money for them in the future. It was a great week and I look forward to the Legendary Rhythm and Blues cruise next year. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Nieuw Amsterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.5
Public Rooms 4.5 4.4
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
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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