6 Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam Group and Theme Cruise Reviews

I am currently 39 and was definitely one of the youngest people on board. I enjoy people who are older than me, but it seems that HAL really caters to the more mature clientele in the music, food, and activities. I am all for being classy ... Read More
I am currently 39 and was definitely one of the youngest people on board. I enjoy people who are older than me, but it seems that HAL really caters to the more mature clientele in the music, food, and activities. I am all for being classy and having standards, but you can do both without being stuffy or boring. The ship is beautiful, and the size of it is great. Our verandah cabin was 11002, which is the highest deck with cabins. I loved the location, because the view was great, and it was next door to the Crow's Nest (coffee shop/bar). The balcony was very small, but that was not a problem for us. I found the Main Dining Room to be a bit mediocre. The food was just not impressive, and I would have hoped for more seafood selections. The buffet was generally very good, especially for breakfast and lunch. The salads and Asian food were particularly good at lunch. We at at Pinnacle Grill ($35 surcharge) and Tamarind ($25 surcharge), and both were absolutely fantastic. I just wish the quality of the Dining Room food (included) didn't force us to want to eat at specialty restaurants. The entertainment onboard was all quite good. Mainstage and Lincoln Center Stage productions were both very good, although some of the mainstage selections were a bit dated. The singers and dancers were great, though. BB King Blues Club was a highlight almost every night. America's Test Kitchen was also a nice feature. I wish there had been more activities on board that were pure fun, such as games on the lido deck. You don't have to have a sexy legs competition, but something that livens things up a bit would have been nice. Also, the music on the lido deck could really use some work. I heard so much about how good the service would be on HAL, and I was not overly impressed. It was no better than service on NCL. This is one area where I think HAL really caters to senior citizens. My cabin was always clean, but I only saw my cabin steward once the entire week. The ports were good, but one (Amber Cove, Dominican Republic) was canceled due to rough waters, which was a huge disappointment. They added some onboard activities that day, but the general mood of the ship was definitely down on that extra sea day. Key West and Half Moon Cay were great days! Embarkation and Disembarkation were very quick and easy--no complaints at all. As they say, there is no such thing as a bad cruise. However, this is my least favorite cruise. I was booked on a NCL cruise but changed to HAL because the O (Oprah) Magazine "Adventure of Your LIfe" cruise appealed to the friend with whom I was traveling. The O Magazine experiences were very good and certainly made the cruise better for both of us. However, I think I will stick with NCL in the future and possibly explore Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
This was my fourth cruise on Holland America and second on the Nieuw Amsterdam. The rooms were very clean and comfortable, the service staff was outstanding, the entertainment in the lounges very enjoyable, the fitness center ... Read More
This was my fourth cruise on Holland America and second on the Nieuw Amsterdam. The rooms were very clean and comfortable, the service staff was outstanding, the entertainment in the lounges very enjoyable, the fitness center well-equipped, the food was mostly good (see comment below). I wish there was a separate room for the yoga classes (additional charge!) instead of having what is really a stretch class using yoga poses in the very noisy fitness center. My partner and I were both disappointed at the bad fish dishes that were served in the Manhattan Dining Room. We both had overcooked fish (snapper, cod, trout) that just didn't taste right on three separate occasions. Because we don't like to eat red meat, this was a problem for us. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
I had always wanted to do a cruise, but couldn't find a partner in crime with whom to travel. I started dating a gentleman who was able to go, so after just a few short months of dating, we booked the cruise. I figured it would be ... Read More
I had always wanted to do a cruise, but couldn't find a partner in crime with whom to travel. I started dating a gentleman who was able to go, so after just a few short months of dating, we booked the cruise. I figured it would be an easy way to figure out if he and I were going to make the long haul (spoiler alert: we did not, but I'm glad). The embarkation was easy, though we had upgraded to a balcony after an offer and upon registration, they attempted to give us badges for the couple who had previously reserved the cabin. We were on the ship before we realized it, so we had to trek back. We got it squared away. That was really the only hiccup. The smaller ship was great. If you've never been on a cruise ship at all, even this mid-size ship is big. The stewards were great, the captain was calm and reassuring and the cruise director goofy, but in a fun way. The ports were Charlotte Amalie, Grand Turk, San Juan and the small cruiseline owned island. San Juan was gorgeous, but the time allotted there was short. The cruise itself was great, though I will agree that the clientele on Holland is slightly older. We were among the younger crowd, but still had a great time. There was a storm and large swells so a couple of dinner times were quite iffy for the older folks walking around to get to their tables. My date was seasick for two days, also. The ship and crew itself were really great; we enjoyed the room service several times. They even have a seasick menu to choose from, and that was very helpful for the sick one. I'd definitely cruise with Holland again. I can't imagine a larger ship with that many more people. OH, it was a Dancing with the Stars cruise!! I completely forgot. Now THOSE were excellent shows and I loved seeing Carson Kressley and Kym Johnson nearly every day on ship. They were a hoot. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
The good: 1) A lot of public room to move around in. Even in the bars/lounges things weren't squashed together, everything always felt roomy, even on sea days. Found several remote places with loungers and no one else around, some on ... Read More
The good: 1) A lot of public room to move around in. Even in the bars/lounges things weren't squashed together, everything always felt roomy, even on sea days. Found several remote places with loungers and no one else around, some on very high levels you could only take stairs to reach. 2) Food quality was pretty high. 3) Room stewards were good and friendly. The bad 1) Embarkation. Showed at 11:15, boarded a bit before 1. Long wait, quick once my number was called. After dumping bags in room, went to MDR for lunch to avoid the melee the buffet is on embark day, showed at 1:05 and was refused seating at MDR (stopped at 1). they should extend seating to 2. Entering the scrum of buffet for embark lunch really started cruise off poorly for me. 2) Dining/waiter service. Some decent, some poor. Got really annoyed that waiters generally messed up my breakfast orders which weren't too difficult. I think language barrier was main issue. Refills were often late on water, coffee, and pina colodas at unlimited pina colda event (at the beginning we had to flag waiters down, and they weren't busy, after things settled, they kept us nice). MDR management was good at being friendly, but service should have and could have been better. 3) Limited food availability. Buffet had short hours, MDR had short seating hours for breakfast/lunch. Limited room service 24/7 doesn't replace an open buffet for a quick bite in off hours. Lunch menu at MDR was very limited. Wish I knew/things to know 1) 2 3 prong 110 volt outlets by desk (also 2 euro outlets), 1 shaver outlet in bathroom. Taking room card out of electric input slot kills outlet juice (like charging your phone), bring some other worthless plastic card to use there instead of room card. 2) Went with drinkers who got drink packages, they drink a lot, did not get value IMO. Skip unlimited, buy as you like, probably better deal. Oh, and unlimited ship drinks do not extend to private island they own and run, which offended those who bought. Stay on the ship and drink free from package, or go to beach and pay HAL more for drinks. Bad policy by HAL. 3) MNF, TNF and SNF and one game for each Sunday time slot were shown in rooms and at sports/casino bar. Summary Nice cruise, the overwhelmingly good service I expected existed with buffet servers and room stewards, lacked in most other dining service though. Limited food availability was a negative. Language barrier existed very strongly, worst of all cruises I have been on by far. Lots of room to move around and enjoy on ship. Probably nice for transatlantic interior cabins, with all that public space. I would cruise the NA again, and HAL, knowing the issues, for the right itinerary/value, but not an overwhelming favorite. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
I will start out by saying I give the LRBC charter 5 starts. I will give the ship 2 1/2 stars. Blues cruise review Nieuw Amsterdam Jan 20 -27/13 The air was fragrant; the Jolly Roger was flying so it must be the annual LRBC in the ... Read More
I will start out by saying I give the LRBC charter 5 starts. I will give the ship 2 1/2 stars. Blues cruise review Nieuw Amsterdam Jan 20 -27/13 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 quite 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. Very few complaints from the cruisers in general. Our complaints were that the food in the buffet area is downright awful, the pizza was terrible, room service breakfast was really bad and not once was our order correct, 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. It is a shame that we pay so much for this cruise and HAL can't step up their game in the food department. 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. The cabin was quite small. 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 ships. 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 the 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. It was appalling that the GSM did not follow up on this serious complaint. I have had other issues with other HAL ships in the past (particularly the Zaandam -- no a/c in our cabin and Maasdam -- disgusting and unsafe conditions in the pool areas) and the staff ignored those issues as well, so I can only conclude that HAL has the worst staff at sea. The ship was quite grubby all week, I did not see anyone cleaning or polishing common areas. Our toilet was not working for a couple of nights, I called the front desk at 5am (we just got in the cabin) and the silly nitwit at the front desk was going to call the cabin steward to wake him up to come to our cabin. I had to tell her that a plumber was needed, not the cabin steward. The plumber was doing his fixes from the hallway, I could hear the water running in the walls. I would never set foot on a HAL ship unless it was the LRBC charter. 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
The purpose of the cruise appeared to be selling everything: alcohol, jewelry, clothing, dining rooms, cabanas, art, and casinos. Free services such as the library kept very limited hours even on the "at sea" days when it would ... Read More
The purpose of the cruise appeared to be selling everything: alcohol, jewelry, clothing, dining rooms, cabanas, art, and casinos. Free services such as the library kept very limited hours even on the "at sea" days when it would have been convenient to use them. The ship has an extensive and interesting art collection, and I would have loved to have taken the iPod tour but could never make it to the library to check it out. The ship's public areas were kept clean, and I swear that I heard a vacuum cleaner in our hallway at 3:30 am! The staff "simonized" (their word) the handrails on the stairs frequently so that the railings were either wet or left a sticky residue on one's hands. The fitness center had broken equipment which should have been repaired. All the personnel were very pleasant and helpful. It was reassuring to see the assistance available to those with mobility impairments. Walkers, electric scooters and wheelchairs were common sights as were manual wheelchairs assited by staff. We were notified that a GI virus had affected both guests and crew. Purell dispensers were all around the ship staffed by crew to make sure that we used them. Each guest room also had a bottle of Purell. I heard from guests who had been ill that they had received wonderful care from the medical staff. Food service was generally very good. The main dining room, The Manhattan, was very large, noisy, and very bright and glitzy; conversation was difficult. The menu selections were excellent with two vegetarian and one fish option as well as red meat and poultry; although the beef was the least well-prepared item, often dry and tasteless. The main buffet in The Lido often ran out of popular items: broccoli at lunch on the first day and bread pudding for dessert almost every day. The two sides of the buffet offered differing items under the same general headings so one had circle the dining room before making a selection. Several other dining rooms were available at an extra charge of $20-$30 per person. In-room dining offered a more restricted menu but was adequate and came at the requested times. Two formal dinners seemed excessive especially since the menu was no different than on other nights and the service was slower and less efficient due to the number of diners in the main dining room that night. Our cabin was adequate but not roomy. It provided enough storage space with plenty of hangers and excellent lighting. The bathroom had additional shelf space as well as a retractable clothesline which we appreciated. The towels were extra large and fluffy, but we had to request clean towels each time as there was really nowhere to hang the bath towels to dry between uses. Even though the ship was only 6 months old, there were small details that hadn't been attended to. The sink drain did not work. The cabin steward attempted to fix it by tying it to the lever arm so that it didn't open or close. The front desk had to be contacted to get a better repair. The tub didn't drain when showering, and one showered in water up to the ankles. We were told this was because of the motion of the ship. There was also a hint of mold where the walls met the tub, evidence of not-too thorough cleaning. Shore excursions were purchased through HAL since we had never been to this region before. We wanted to learn about the area, culture, and history, and they did provide that. Some drivers were more knowledgeable than others. On all of the excursions the drivers served as the tour guides, having to focus their attention on the roads as well as the sites. We felt that the HAL website and phone center staff did not provide as much information as they could have to help first time ocean cruisers such as us. I understand that the ship has a tight turn-around time at the end of the cruise. They gave us a late disembarkation time and then proceeded to make up the room while we were still packing up, just moved our stuff out of their way! Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
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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