5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
This cruise fit our time and budget. We also like HA cruises as we find them slightly better than the other cruise lines. HA is one of the few that sails into Glacier Bay, which is a highlight of the cruise. i would not cruise to Alaska ... Read More
This cruise fit our time and budget. We also like HA cruises as we find them slightly better than the other cruise lines. HA is one of the few that sails into Glacier Bay, which is a highlight of the cruise. i would not cruise to Alaska without going to Glacier Bay. The food and service was excellent. There was a minor issue with the balcony divider that rattled, which they fixed - they also fixed a minor issue in the bathroom shower without us even telling them. The ship was impeccably clean, and the state room service was great. Maybe we are getting old, but we also found that the lack of party atmosphere was refreshing and relaxing. We tried BB kings lounge, which was the heart of the ship, and while the musicians were very skilled, we found the Blues and R&B was not our thing, I am more of a classic rock guy. The shows in the main theater were very good, but don't expect the extravaganza that you see on the Mega Ships. We booked our own shore excursions and did not use the cruise line for this. The White pass railroad was GREAT and very scenic. We booked a Seaplane in Ketchikan for a Misty Fjiords flight which I highly recommend. I am plane buff and this was the highlight of the trip for me. In jueau we took public transit to Mendenhall Glacier and walked 1.5 miles to the park from the bus stop. This cost us $18 for everything, round trip. A couple of things. You have to pay for soft drinks, which I found odd. Also they serve you at the buffet, which I guess they do for sanitary reasons (and also to cut down on food waste) but I did find it slower than a help yourself buffet. The Dive in Burger joint was great, and we ate lunch here twice. The Pizza was also good. We also ate at the three specialty restaurants (Asian food, Steak House, and Italian) We rec'd these dinners for free for some reason. The food and service was excellent, however, I find the main dining hall food to be excellent as well. I don't think that I would pay extra for the specialty restaurants. We first took this cruise on our honeymoon 26 years ago, and we enjoyed this cruise just as much Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this cruise for a quick break to Alaska. We live close to Vancouver so with no flights it is an easy holiday. We have been doing this twice a year and have enjoyed everything. However, this time there was a a significant ... Read More
We chose this cruise for a quick break to Alaska. We live close to Vancouver so with no flights it is an easy holiday. We have been doing this twice a year and have enjoyed everything. However, this time there was a a significant decline in the entertainment. HA have introduced a new Step 1 dance company which didn't appeal to us. They were 6 dancers, with no singers, no band, and a poor sound system. This is no doubt another effort to reduce costs but not for us. We used to recommend HA to friends, but not now with this decline. Other on stage performances were an illusionist and a comedian which were both good. The BB King band on board was absolutely fantastic - this is what will bring us back to HA. Cherise and Steven were the vocalists and were terrific, and so were the other band members. The "Cruise Director" was very sweet, but not the ever present role of the previous CDs. There was no activities staff, no dance lessons, so Celebrity is way ahead in this area. HA claim the best perks at sea, but we dispute that as we get much better perks on Princess and Celebrity where we have similar status. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
The first time around, it was our first cruise together. We sailed on the Eurodam in January, same itinerary, and had a wonderful time. We felt like it wasn't long enough, though, so we decided to book the same itinerary on a ... Read More
The first time around, it was our first cruise together. We sailed on the Eurodam in January, same itinerary, and had a wonderful time. We felt like it wasn't long enough, though, so we decided to book the same itinerary on a different boat. The Nieuw Amsterdam is not quite as nice as the Eurodam. Of course, it hasn't been updated as recently, so that stands to reason. For the most part, they are almost the same-- same restaurants, same staterooms, same places to spend money. But there are subtle differences. The Nieuw Amsterdam has an identity problem in its decor. Here a little Art Deco, there a little quirky, and over there-- well, the main dining room, it looks like the twin of a fancy Chinese restaurant, all in red and mirrors. It is just missing lazy susans on the tables and a gigantic fish tank. No shark tale soup on any menu, though. So, let's talk entertainment. The blues club-- can't beat it. Fun, great music, great entertainers. The classical musicians-- same same. The pianists, well, I guess others liked them, but they didn't do it for me. Mainstage entertainment-- well, were it not for the parents who decided to allow their children to climb over me (literally) and then sit, screaming, it was pretty good. The first show, all dancing, was creative-- the lights became both a character and a prop, with them dancing with the dancers. It was something I haven't seen before. The second dancing show was okay-- one dancer was significantly better than the others. She was good, she wasn't great. But entertaining enough. The magician played to a packed house. I coudn't see it because there was no where to sit. The few minutes I did, it looked like fun. Dining was hit and miss, but mostly hit. Whoever was in charge of cooking the meat hit a home run each time. Whoever was making the sandwiches needs to learn how to spread butter. Other than that, it was the usual high-quality food we have come to expect from HAL. The main issue we had with the cruise was the behavior of the children. I like kids. In fact, I have spent a lifetime teaching other people's kids. When they are well-behaved, they add a great deal to a social occasion. When they are badly behave, they ruin it. Besides the children climbing on me, then screaming, there were packs of young and pre-teens running around (yes, running,) leaving pool towels in the elevators, using the adult pool, several times, complete with floatees to jump onto, splashing the guests, shouting and jumping into the whirlpools. Our complaints seem to fall on deaf ears. And then there is the cell phone issue. Ours were on airplane mode the whole time. And yet we were charged for their service. So, we enjoyed ourselves. But we do feel like HAL has a few wrinkles to iron out. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We wanted to see Panama Canal, particularly the old part of it. I have done one passing in my previous career at sea more than 30 years ago, on a freighter. Since HAL had a good itinerary suiting the best for our schedule and that ... Read More
We wanted to see Panama Canal, particularly the old part of it. I have done one passing in my previous career at sea more than 30 years ago, on a freighter. Since HAL had a good itinerary suiting the best for our schedule and that there was so good ratings with HAL with travelers with similar preferences we did not hesitate to book this trip, our first on HAL. Our preferences were quite traditional: Piece and quietness, well mannered co-passengers, dining experiences with lots of choices and styles, civilized onboard activitities and entertainment, interesting excursions, kind and friendly staff and responsible shipowners with competent crew. Particularly we were not after activities some other latest cruise ships may offer for families and younger clientele, We tried to avoid cruse lines with all-day partying and noisy teens and kids around. As a summary HAL offered all this in very sophisticated way. Onboard staff exceeded any of our previous experiences. Based on recommendations on the CC HAL group, before boarding we visited at the Total Wine iand picked up a 6 bottle box of selected wines based on their recommendation of "a taste of America". However, after the trip found that the selections onboard was perfectly adequate, if not US-centric. Check-In Fort Lauderdale was done in breeze by very helpful officer, particularly noticing we were not that experienced cruisers on HAL. We boarded soon before noon and had a wonderful lunch served in the MDR after settling in to our cabin. The VD Class cabin was on the 7th deck with a veranda. It was not a suite, but spacious enough for two of us. For our surprise, there was enough storage space even for a much longer trip. There was absolutely no noise from neighboring cabins or from the corridors. Completely quiet, apart quiet hum from the AC. We found ship interiors very nicely designed and we felt being at home soon after boarding. Most of the fellow passengers were naturally from US and Canada, also quite big part, probably a few hundred passengers from Europe and from South America and Far East.. Based on the Skipper's, Jeroen van Donselaar's note, there were some 2100+ passengers and 800+ crew members onboard, so the ship was practically fully booked. Cruise itself offered everything and beyond we expected. For our surprise the seadays were anything but boring. The days were full of activities, e.g. starting from presentation of the ports we were going to call, Digital Workshops, recitals on the Lincoln Center, stand up shows and other performances after dinner at the Main Stage ending upto enjoying the B.B. King's Club. BTW, they played really well. About dining experience, we had dinners in all the restaurants, twice in the Pinnacle Grill, once in Rudy's, once in Tamarind, once in Canaletto and Lido, rest in the MDR. In general, we were fully content with the MDR, but Pinnacle offered us the something to remember for long time. My personal favorite was the Sole Meunier at the MDR, but it was available only once soon after departure, Based on our experience it's difficult to fully understand those who in CC HAL Forum have complained MDR being not upto their standards. Dover Sole in Rudy's; the Maine Lobster, Tartar Steak and Filet Mignon at the Pinnacle. Tamarind was excellent, but as have traveled lots in the far east, we found it a (little bit) too westernized. Sushi was available daily at the Lido. And now we still miss Hamburgers in the Dive In. They were special. Really. Shore excursions we pre-booked, were mostly as expected: In Cartagena the old town was really nice and worthwhile to visit, could have spend a lots of more in the town. Passing Panama Canal was a really highlight of the day. For an ex Sailor (Master Mariner), like me, this was a really meaningful event. We passed the Canal through the old locks, far more interesting than the new ones, which were apparently not that busy on our day of passing. In Costa Rica we chose an Exc to flower gardens up to the mountain having a magnificent view over to the Pacific. We managed to see a pair of macaws not too far away in the garden and a number of crocodiles on the way. It was most beautiful landscape. Time to visit there was far too short, again. In Nicaragua we had a trip to a banana plantation owned by a local prominent family, supplying their products to major brands. Lots of manual, minimally paid work needed before products can be shipped. Highlight of that trip was to see the landscape with active volcanoes on the way. Local people were extremely friendly with us. Really difficult to figure out how they manage to struggle with the average salaries paid in that country. We hope they will manage with their struggle with economy, e.g. expanding from agriculture to tourism. In Guatemala we had another trip to a Coffee Plantation and a small city on the mountain area. Was really beautiful, again. There were also two Mexican ports, Huatulco and Puerto Vallarta on the way. Enjoyed both excursions to the country side. Street vendors in Cartagena and Guatemala were some degree of nuisance, but nothing unexceptional for 'seasoned travelers'. Before the trip we had concerns, e.g. how to cope potential 'cultural differences' during the two weeks with the fellow passengers mostly from US and Canada since we are not that extrovert. That proved to be a non-issue. With all people we spoke with were most friendly curious and knowledgeable what's going outside US. Quite a number of them had visited even to our home country, Finland, on their previous cruises or careers. So overall, would wholeheartedly recommend Panama Cruise with HAL anyone expecting a classy experience to pass the Canal, see beautiful countries with friendly people of Columbia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico, spend time with fellow most nice passengers on a well maintained ship with a stellar crew. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Got bitten by bedbugs on the first night all over upper body. Cruise medical center refused to address the problem on Christmas Eve, unless I paid $95 for consultation on a problem caused by poor health condition and lack of proper ... Read More
Got bitten by bedbugs on the first night all over upper body. Cruise medical center refused to address the problem on Christmas Eve, unless I paid $95 for consultation on a problem caused by poor health condition and lack of proper maintenance and examination of bedding. I inspected pillows and found badly stained pillows obscured by pillow covers. The next day after I suffered these horrible red itching bites, I decided to inspect mattress also and discovered a blanket insert that had three dried blood stains, which was also hidden with a zipped cover over the mattress. It was disgusting! Again, we requested replacements. The overall ship is nice but everything shuts down by 11pm. You can't even get a hot dog from the outside Lido since the pools and outside area is completely closed and dark. No Karaoke for us lovers of this fun activity. The ship catered to selling high priced jewelry, terribly overpriced, if you have any knowledge of the cost of fine jewelry, which I have had for over 40 years. The best parts of the ship was The Lincoln Stage Performances and The BB King's All Stars band. It is a ship for the elderly who have no interest but to sun bathe and view overpriced jewelry and art. The Art Gallery was quite nice but I didn't bother to ask about the price of any of the wonderful paintings since I was convinced it would be as ridiculous as the jewelry. The jewelry auction proved my point. No one bid over approximately $1100 for any of the jewelry that was auctioned. The jewelry indicated pieces worth at least $28,000, with bids starting at around $18,000. In fact I said nothing but the guy who purchased the pair of earrings for the nearly $1100 must not have known he was being overpriced. No one bothered to bid on the over 20 or more items since they too must have realized it was overpriced. The ports that sold jewelry I believe were also a rip-off. In Cozumel you could possibly get a decent pair of cowboy boots at a reasonable price if you negotiated with the seller for Roger's Boots. Ocho Rios was a rip-off since you had to take a bus to beach and be charged for everything connected to it. No free rides here. The 7-mile beach had bad large graveled sand. Not comfortable for bare feet! I wanted to use an Expedia $100 onboard credit to purchase and monogram robe, but the guest service person, an Indonesian clerk, lied to me and told me no new robes were available for sale that I could use the credit towards. This turned out to be a lie, since my husband was able to order one to be billed to our cabin, with three letter free monogram, which was personally delivered to our cabin: 10033, by an apologizing guest services person. I was never offered any assistance for the painful and annoying bedbug bites and had to purchase skin irritation and abrasion cream as well as spray from the gift shop. The gift shop was also overpriced with items that should have cost much less. We are upper middle class people and are by no means tightwads, but the prices we encountered on this trip were ridiculous, including the price of the cruise, which offered very limited activities. No Broadway or Las Vegas style shows will you see here, even though the main stage is beautiful. What a terrible waste? The Main Stage entertainment was less than mediocre and short on time. The food was not the best, but good none the less. The overall staff attendants were excellent! However, we did not need two attendants @$14.50 each to be assigned to our small cabin, with small balcony. The person in charge of inspection of housekeeping should be heavily reprimanded for not instructing cabin attendants to inspect bedding for cleanliness, wear and tear --BEDBUGS! Never expected this on a relatively new ship. Horrible! There is no excuse for the heavily stained pillows or blanket or any other unhealthy bedding that I did not discover. We have been on many cruises throughout the years, but will never go Holland America again. Even the teenagers on deck were bored to death. I found them one night sprawled out on the outside of their so-called lounge or club area laying on the floor or doing whatever they could to keep from falling to sleep at around 11pm. I would never book this cruise again, even if I'm 100 years old. It would still be too boring for me. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was our third cruise on HAL and my eighth (give or take) overall. We cruised on the sister ship Eurodam last year and this cruise and overall experience was nearly identical. Service is top notch in every venue - from cabin to ... Read More
This was our third cruise on HAL and my eighth (give or take) overall. We cruised on the sister ship Eurodam last year and this cruise and overall experience was nearly identical. Service is top notch in every venue - from cabin to dining room, Lido, and other places. Everyone is friendly and eager to please. This is the highlight of the ship. Food is also great, especially in the dining room. Dinner there was superb. Lunch and breakfast in the Lido was very good but not up to dining room standards. I would have preferred more breakfast choices like biscuits, gravy, and corned beef hash. Loved the smoked salmon though. BB Kings lounge was another highlight. Quality and vibe were just fantastic. Great sets including blues, jazz, and classic rock. A live music lover's paradise. The five piece orchestra was also very good, we saw them twice. We didn't go many activities or shore excursions. HAL is the true classic cruising experience but I would prefer a little more fun, especially on the pool deck during a Caribbean cruise. How about a live steel band or even some fun recorded music? You can still be classy but fun on deck. They did have a mariachi band one evening and they brought some fun to the pool deck. Overall, a great cruise for those seeking great service and food and a more sedate cruising experience. The crowd is generally older but still a fair number of familes and young people on board. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was My first Holland cruise. I have formally been on Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian. My favorite space on the ship was definitely the Crow's Nest. It is a wonderful peaceful space to look out at the ... Read More
This was My first Holland cruise. I have formally been on Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian. My favorite space on the ship was definitely the Crow's Nest. It is a wonderful peaceful space to look out at the beauty of the sea from huge wrap around windows. I really appreciated that many of the books were about the Caribbean. I learned a lot about the history of the islands. I also loved the large coffee table books about the ocean, island decor and Caribbean cooking. The other books were very interesting. The book curator put together an outstanding and very interesting book collection. The coffee bar was excellent. The art on the ship was more like what is shown at an upscale NYC gallery. The best art I have ever seen on any cruise ship. There was always a surprise every time I turned a corner. I loved the giant silver apple. Another favorite was the tiny library in the wall. The food in the dining room was excellent. It was very much on trend with what is happening in good restaurants now. The lido was good. I loved the Eggs Benedict and the overnight oats in the morning.. The fruit salads we're wonderful. Unfortunately the coffee left much to be desired as it does on most ships. One thing that really bothered me at breakfast was the lack of spoons. There was always a knife and fork rolled up in a napkin but usually no spoon. When I asked a server why there were no spoons he said that they put them out for lunch for soup. I asked him if he could get me one. After waiting for 10 minutes I went to find a spoon and I saw him talking to another man who turned out to be a a supervisor of sorts. I asked him about the lack of spoons and he said some of them were rusty. When I said that that sounded kind of ridiculous he asked for my room number. I found the encounter strange. For lunch the big salad bowls and sushi were my favorites. The desserts were generally mediocre with the occasional really good creation. I tried the much touted bread pudding once and didn't find it to be anything special. The pizza was excellent. Really delicious. I liked the ice cream station but it often got confusing being right next to the desserts. It was hard to get a dessert when the line for the ice cream was in front of the desserts. My state room was gorgeous. The available movie selection was huge. The balcony was spacious. Most comfortable bed I have ever slept on. It was great having a bathrobe and makeup mirror. I loved the little plate of chocolates left by the steward on the first day. The closet space was ample. My husband and I enjoyed spending time on the promenade deck watching the sea. We spotted dolphins twice. Unfortunately the cushions we're often not put on many of the loungers so although there were plenty of sunbeds many did not have any cushions so we're unusable. We were occasionally unable to lay out on the promenade because of this. When I asked about the reason for not putting cushions on all the sunbeds I was given another hokey answer. The deck guy stated that some people like to use towels instead of cushions. I pointed out that there was no one sitting on the sunbeds without cushions. Pure laziness on the part of the staff for not putting the cushions on all sunbeds. We tendered to a few ports and the process was efficient and quick. The EXE guide, Glenn, was outstanding. His port lectures we're always interesting and entertaining. He was always available to answer any questions. It was nice to see his smiling face when we excited the ship. I also enjoyed his lectures about the history of the Nieuw Amsterdam as well as ' The Secret of Ships'. His knowledge and enthusiasm are really great. I went to a few of the naturalist talks and he was also very good. I learned so much from the computer classes. It was great to bring my skills up to date. The instructor was very patient. I didn't care for the cooking show, America's test kitchen. The video was shown more than the actual chef who was there in person. I have been on other cruise ships where the chefs were brought out from the kitchen to give demonstrations and the result was entertaining and instructive. I found America's test kitchen to be a real snooze. Definitely not recommend. In terms of entertainment we loved Lincoln center. BB king was not what I had hoped. It was so loud even my husband who has a hearing aid found it unbearable even when he removed his aid. I was hoping for some smooth jazz that I could enjoy with a glass of wine. It was more rhythm and blues. The MainStage was a grade C with exception of BBC earth with the orchestra. We also enjoyed funny fiddle. This was my first Holland America cruise and I would definitely book another. We really loved the peaceful atmosphere and lack of crowds. You could always find a quiet nook to relax and unwind. Holland America is a class act. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
Everything was excellent from the food to the service. I love how the ship never feels crowded like Carnival or Norwegian or Royal Caribbean. The average age is a little bit older but at 62 we felt like the young ones! They could use a ... Read More
Everything was excellent from the food to the service. I love how the ship never feels crowded like Carnival or Norwegian or Royal Caribbean. The average age is a little bit older but at 62 we felt like the young ones! They could use a little more entertainment other than the music walk at night. The BB King blues club is fantastic.We did not use the specialty restaurants because the free food is excellent. Great happy hour but it's at four PM and 9PM. A little disappointed they took the movie theater away and replaced it with a meeting room. The casino is the best at sea for blackjack players and is usually empty by 10PM because the elderly clientele is sleeping which I love! The cabin attendants remember your name by the second day and the service from them is the best. The ship NEVER feels crowded and is always spotless. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Preface: I'll preface my review by saying that my partner and I are both 29 and 33 respectively and we were some of the "younger" passengers. Albeit, I did read plenty of reviews before sailing and knew that Holland ... Read More
Preface: I'll preface my review by saying that my partner and I are both 29 and 33 respectively and we were some of the "younger" passengers. Albeit, I did read plenty of reviews before sailing and knew that Holland America (HAL) was geared towards a more mature crowd so we knew what we were booking. We planned our trip in May 2018 for an Eastern Caribbean itinerary when we first discovered HAL. I traveled on NCL, Carnival, and Disney previously. We were looking for a more refined and relaxed atmosphere (without the hairy chest and belly flop contests). This is a review for the 7 day journey: Ship 5/5: Beautiful ship from the moment you step on to the moment you disembark. Nieuw Amsterdam is one of their newer ships with modern amenities with millions of dollars worth of artwork throughout. I always found something new regardless of how many times I walked the same path. I felt like the ship had a great layout and I never had difficulty finding my way after day 2. It just made sense where points of interests were located. I also seen that this ship is under constant upkeep. I always see crew either painting or cleaning, always making sure the ship is looking new and in great condition. It was also a perfect size being not too large at only 2,000 guests. Sure I've seen the same people over and over again which I loved but I never wondered why is it so crowded as crowds didn't exist except for day 1 at embarkation at the buffet which is expected. Cabin 4.7/5: We stayed in an AFT verandah cabin which I absolutely LOVED! The room was very well appointed for two people and we never felt like we didn't have space either for clothes, belongings, or just two people living together. The room was a great size and the bed was super (and I mean overly) comfortable bed. We never had a problem sleeping at night which could be a combination of not having internet or just the full days we had. We had the perfect room stewards Marko and Suko. Both were so quick at making our room up and cleaning it (albeit we aren't messy people and I actually clean before I leave the room as I feel bad for the long days most workers work...more on that later) and always worked around our schedule. The only downside of the room is it did feel a little outdated. I would love to see the bathroom and a few things updated. Again, how often are you in the room?! Although they did have a plentiful on demand selection of movies to watch. Dining 4.5/5: No matter what restaurant we went to we always had a great meal. The one restaurant that really stood out was the Pinnacle Grill. You may hear a few things about this restaurant, and the positive you hear is true! The service and food was phenomenal. The Pinnacle Grill restaurant is not included and costs $35 per person BUT I will say that price is justified. I included some photos of how many crab legs were included with my meal. We also ate at Lido Buffet and the Main Restaurant in addition to the pizza and burger place and I can honestly say I never had a bad meal. All of the food was very good! I do wish they had more Asian dishes. Why I rated it a 4.5 out of 5 as the food was a 5/5 is because whenever you go to a restaurant they really want you to buy drinks because the person selling the drinks gets an 18 percent tip. So when you order a glass of wine they will try to upsell a bottle. It just got a little pushy sometimes as I get they are just trying to make money but I don't like to be second guessed when I make a choice as "why don't you want a bottle as it's only 23 dollars more?". Overall they will leave you alone if you say "I'm fine" but I just don't like the high treasure sales tactics when I am on vacation. Entertainment and Activities 4.9/5: Now hear me out...we are on a ship in the middle of the ocean, how entertained do you want to be? I won't be critical of the entertainment on ship as I know for a fact the entertainers really gave it their all every night for several months. So into the review...The entertainment on board for the nighttime mainstage ranged from Billboard dancing to Latin Night which I found very entertaining. They also had a comedian and magician. I missed the comedian so we went to the magician with very low expectations and my face hurt from laughing so much. He was hilarious. Throughout the day the had other entertainment for all such as Windows 10 classes, floral arrangements, towel animals, piano request entertainment, and more! I'll be honest there wasn't a time on the schedule where I looked and didn't see something going on that I could attend. I just chose not to go to somethings as I wanted to relax. To end the review there is something for everyone on board and especially during At Sea days. Service 5/5: I work professionally in hospitality where we always use the 10ft rule. If someone is within 10ft of you, you acknowledge them. HAL must use the 25ft rule. When they either see you coming or approach they immediately focus on you and say hello and stop what they are doing. It was totally unexpected but something very small that made a huge difference. I felt like royalty on this ship. I still remember even the smallest request where we asked our room steward can we have ice on the first day for drinks. In the morning and at night they always made sure to refill our ice. Sure, I don't know if they did this for everyone but it was appreciated. Also we always order the same drinks when we go to the Billboard On Board bar and the staff always ask if they can get us the same drink. It was this that out of 2000 passengers made us feel like we were the only ones. Ports and Shore Excursions: I will review each port with a very small snippet review Grand Turk: 3.7/5 Maybe it was the excursion we picked or I don't know but I feel like when I wasn't on the tropical island that was raved about. Instead I felt like we were on a small private island that was commercialized. I would recommend snorkeling!! Puerto Rico: 4.8/5 Such a nice island! I been hear many times and even coming back multiple times there is just so much to do. This is a location where you don't need to book an excursion and just walk around if you are able. St. Thomas: 4.9/5 This island was my ultimate favorite on this entire itinerary! The island is just beautiful every way you look at it. What I would recommend is booking a Jeep or car and exploring the island yourself. There is so much to see and do but with a car you can do what you want to do. Why I took off such a small amount is because I been planning for us to dock at a certain port (Havensight) for months and constantly checked daily and even the ports calendar said we would dock at a certain location. Up until the moment we arrived we docked at Crown Bay which took quite a bit of logistical planning to get to Havensight for our Jeep. I would definitely book come back here. Half Moon Cay: 2.7/5 Sigh...and breathe. Now that I got that over with let me write my review. Let me say that this port had my biggest expectation which may have swayed my review. When we arrived we were made aware that the Koningsdam and us were the two ships that were docked at this port this day. Side information is that Half Moon Cay is owned by Carnival as their private island. The Konsingsdam holds a good amount of passengers and our ship holds a good amount of passengers. The island just felt very overwhelming and I didn't find it relaxing at all. We booked a Clam Shell three months in advanced which is an umbrella with two chairs. Since our ship was delayed by an hour for a medical emergency (no fault to anyone, things happen) we found it very difficult to find a chair. Every person we went to told us to go somewhere else. Finally we found a clamshell in front of a very loud family. We just head back to the ship after being on the island for 2 hours. The food on the island was very good and the staff that pulled the meal off was very good! Other: The crew is what makes the ship a solid 10/10 as they work such long days and are always looking for ways to make you happy. We booked a Retreat Cabana for the At Sea days and Korn and Raymond work such long days but always had a smile. I would say the crew is what makes Nieuw Amsterdam the ship that it is. My very minor (is he really complaining about theses things?) complaint section: Some very minor things that didn't change my trip at all but I thought I could always add it below. - I found the bathrooms to be adequate size but the toilet seats to be very small. I am by no means a big guy being 5'7 and 145 pounds but they just seemed small. - There was no midnight buffets or late night dining options past 11:30pm except for room service. I wish they had a buffet at midnight or maybe a specialty snack station. But knowing the demographics of the ship maybe midnight really is too late. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
The Nieuw Amsterdam to the Eastern Caribbean was an excellent choice for an anniversary getaway - we enjoyed exceptional service, good to very good food, a quiet stateroom with a spacious balcony, and extended time in the four ports of ... Read More
The Nieuw Amsterdam to the Eastern Caribbean was an excellent choice for an anniversary getaway - we enjoyed exceptional service, good to very good food, a quiet stateroom with a spacious balcony, and extended time in the four ports of call. My wife an I are in our mid 40s, and found that we were definitely younger than the average age, there was a wide range of passengers from young to old on our mid-november sailing. Embarkation: from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale was organized, but slower than previous HAL cruises. We arrived at the port at 10:30, were fully checked in by 11, boarding began at 11:30, and we were finally onboard by 12:15. On previous cruises we were onboard by 11:30. Our cabin was ready when we boarded, however, and disembarkation was quick and efficient. The Ship: we have sailed on Holland America's R-class vessels previously; this was our first cruise on a larger Signature class ship. While we enjoyed the additional dining and entertainment options, and found the Nieuw Amsterdam to be very well maintained, the larger size and passenger numbers were noticeable at times. My wife and I prefer traditional, uncrowded ships -- and while we greatly enjoyed our cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam, we concluded the smaller ships are more to our liking. Cabin: We had a forward VE class balcony stateroom, 7013. The room was just right for two passengers, well appointed, very quiet, and with a wonderful balcony. We spent every evening and many hours of the day on the balcony, enjoying sound of the sea and the view of the water and stars. There were two reclinable chairs, separate footrests / ottomans, and a small table on the balcony. As there are staterooms above and below deck 7, we never heard noise from other areas of the ship. The interactive TV has 150+ movies on demand, the daily menus, five live TV channels (all news), and information about weather, ship position, and ports of call. The bathroom features a single sink, tub/shower combination, and Elemis toiletries. Service: Outstanding, as always for HAL. We were greeted by name by our cabin attendants, and everyone on the ship looked for opportunities to attend to and anticipate our needs. The one exception was staff onshore at HAL's private island, Half Moon Cay. Some of the Half Moon Cay staff were helpful, but several were brusque or rude when we asked questions or requested directions to places on the island. When a horseback riding shore excursion on Half Moon Cay ran long, we were dropped off at the island BBQ at 12:50, ahead of their 1 PM closing. Staff were already taking down the buffet, and refused to serve us lunch. As a result, we had to head back to the ship early for lunch rather than enjoying Half Moon Cay's beach. Dining: Food ranged from good to very good. As a foodie, none of the dishes were outstanding, but none of them were poor either. Dinner in the Tamarind restaurant was the best meal and dinner service we have experienced on a Holland America ship. Room service was efficient and complimentary - we enjoyed two dinners in our cabin, and had coffee and tea delivered to the room every morning. We also loved the high tea, served in the main dining room on fine china at 3 PM each afternoon. Entertainment: We loved Lincoln Center Stage - world class, classical chamber music performed in a dedicated concert venue - and attended their performances almost every night. BBC Earth, highlights from the series set to a live performance of the score, was wonderful. We also attended two enjoyable, if simple, America's Test Kitchen cooking demonstrations. HAL does not have the showy, nonstop entertainment offered by some other lines, and young children would find entertainment outside of the kids club to be limited to swimming in the pool, but we loved the more sophisticated approach to entertainment. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We chose this cruise because it was HAL and all at sea, no land. We had done the land and sea Alaska cruise a year ago with HAL. Didn't like it. Too much land. Embarkation and debarkation were fast and easy. Neptune suite ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was HAL and all at sea, no land. We had done the land and sea Alaska cruise a year ago with HAL. Didn't like it. Too much land. Embarkation and debarkation were fast and easy. Neptune suite cruisers get a little extra attention. Vancouver customs was GNARLY!. Only 2 agents for a couple of thousand cruisers. Computers were down. Should have gone out of Seattle and not Vancouver to avoid customs. Main dining room food was excellent. Our waiters, Agung and Edi were two of the best waiters we have ever had with HAL. Tamarind was my wife's choice and she managed somehow to drag me with her. Food was wonderful. Neat dining experience. I recommend it. Best excursion was Tracy Arm Fijord and Glaciers. Boarded a head boat directly off the Nieu Amsterdam. Lots of icebergs. We got close to Swayer and South Sawyer Glaciers. On the way back to Juneau a pod of Orcas swam next to the boat. Two swam under the boat. Glacier Bay was also wonderful Ship managed to get real close for about an hour. No big bergs blocking our way. Weather cooperated for most of the trip. Only one rainy day which happened to be a sea day. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Meals were good, although some of the restaurants were extra, but we weren't told until the end when they asked for the room card. Poor communication. We don't mind paying for drinks (alcohol), but coffee? Daily hotel ... Read More
Meals were good, although some of the restaurants were extra, but we weren't told until the end when they asked for the room card. Poor communication. We don't mind paying for drinks (alcohol), but coffee? Daily hotel charge (tip fee) seemed high at $13.50US per day per person. Pay the staff more! Have it included in the price of the cruise. We always tip the staff and we did this trip, only to discover at the end that we were charged the above amount daily. This cruise is all about shopping and buying, which we were not interested in doing. The uniformed woman who is in charge of the diningroom staff referred to them as her children, which we found rather demeaning as these men and women are adults often with families. She is not their momma as she stated. This is our first and last Holland American cruise. We do not mind paying for an all inclusive cruise, just don't nickle and dime us for little extras! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We were on the June 30, 2018 sailing of the Nieuw Amsterdam from Vancouver to the inside passage (including Glacier Bay). This was our third time on Holland America and our second Alaska cruise (the other in 2000 on Princess). Bottomline, ... Read More
We were on the June 30, 2018 sailing of the Nieuw Amsterdam from Vancouver to the inside passage (including Glacier Bay). This was our third time on Holland America and our second Alaska cruise (the other in 2000 on Princess). Bottomline, I wouldn't hesitate booking this ship/itinerary based on our experience. For the most part, it was all very good. We did our own air and stayed at the Auberge Vancouver both pre and post stay. I would recommend this hotel for this purpose. With four-wheel luggage, it was easy to walk from the hotel to the cruise check in - even in a slight misty rain. The hotel is in a tall mixed-use building that includes condos, retail, and the hotel. There is no room service, and the free breakfast offered is limited--but for cost/convenience it was the right choice for us. (The others being the far pricier Fairmont or Pan Pacific.) Front desk folks were very helpful. Embarkation was very confusing to get our luggage dropped off. Granted we tried to board early and the offloading was still going on. Based on what pier workers told us there isn't a set place for each ship/sailing to drop off luggage - which sounds crazy given this ship makes the same trip every week. But once we found the location to drop off the luggage the rest was pretty well managed by HA. Just bring your patience with you. We were onboard by 11:15a or so, and our cabin was ready before noon. Lunch in the main dining room was the way to go, as the Lido was a zoo. We rented two Lido Cabanas for this trip (two couples), which was a great choice. It gave us a place to hang out and our steward was excellent. Granted we tipped him well at the start and throughout the cruise, but he waited on us like kings. For Alaska, I would do this again in a heartbeat. (Cost $199 per cabana for the week.) I didn't see anyone in the Retreat Cabanas all week. Food in the main dining room was very good. We ate at the Tamarid the first night (catch the first night 'special' when you get onboard at 25% discount.) The Pinnacle was good, but not as good as our memory of the meal on the Eurodam a few years ago. The Pizza, burgers, and hot dogs all got good reviews from our group. I think the best options for Lido is to get a customized food (ommlete, salad, etc.) made to order. Otherwise, the food we had was just fair. Be sure to at least order coffee via room service, as it is so nice to sit outside sipping your coffee in the morning. (Room Service breakfast was very good too.) Entertainment: We only saw the Billboard night production, which was just OK - but less than you will see on most ships. We missed the illusionist and comedian, so can't comment on that. The orchestra played the score of an Alaska nature movie one night, and it was very good. BB Kings and the dueling pianos were both excellent. We went to the pianos (Billboard) every night. Lots of fun. I also loved America's Test Kitchen classes they had on sea days. The bar drinks were disappointing, and never found the bar or bartender that could whip up something great. Our best bar experience by far was in the Tamirid Bar--as far as quality of drinks - but it was also the worst service. We finally just started going to the bar ourselves rather than have the bar waiter take our order. The Tamirid Bar isn't crowded and has incredible views. The Crows Nest has been ruined with all the new junk they have up there. This space in the past was our 'go to spot' in the past, but not anymore. #fail Holland America. Drink specials were only in two bars at 4pm and 11:30pm - BOGO +$2. Why bother having one at 11:30p on a HA ship?? As many have commented, everything seemed to be a ploy to get you to spend more money--which I don't think is unique to Holland America. The info left in your rooms about buying jewelry was overwhelming and the only port info was a push to go to cruise stores in port. Sad it has come to that. Our shore excursions (not with the cruise line) were with Harv and Marv in Juneau in the 6 person boat. Excellent!! We did a taxi to Mendenhall in Juneau. Excellent!! We did the White Pass (one way to Frasier) in Skagway and stopped off at the Skagway Brewery for a post-excursion drink. Both were great. All that said, I would go again tomorrow -- and would recommend this ship and itinerary. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Dear all My room no. Is 8012 in ms nieuw amsterdam. 23rd June departure from vancouver There are several issues. Let me point out each one 1. I am pure Hindu vegetarian traveller. Before booking I had clearly asked that I need ... Read More
Dear all My room no. Is 8012 in ms nieuw amsterdam. 23rd June departure from vancouver There are several issues. Let me point out each one 1. I am pure Hindu vegetarian traveller. Before booking I had clearly asked that I need Indian vegetarian meal. I was clearly told yes Holland America is best vegetarian friendly. On coming the same turned to worst nightmare On first day of lunch it was told that there were less supply as new supply is being refilled and from tommorow you will get variety of food. Told ok no problem. Let's manage a day while all other had there full option to eat. From 2nd day the same is situation till day 6.either something is over or we will do tommorow but there is no tommorow than. Had Worst experience where I had taken a naan and just yogurt to each and tried to break naam with hand and in couldn't and than with teeth than too it was unbreakable. Given it to chef MR mani who told me this is hard one requested by guest but no guest request a UNBREAKABLE NAAN as it is to eat and not a sovenier at the room I was told daily to contact Mr mani and he will make seperate but my simple question is why we are not provided quality food and substandard is done between guest who complains and some they are normal and no complain gets the unbreakable naan. Matter reported to charnea guest manager at lido market. Most Indian on cruise if asked are satisfied than you can see the reply 15 are there in my group. The best person who eats in to most item in our group it wss also now fed up. There are no variety. I had complained on day 3rd breakfast where I had waited 1 hrs for a menu item before the steward came to me and told item is wrongly written and had complained to Denise who was manager for in room dining and she called chef Mr siva Kumar who says he is only one Indian chef and have 120 people to handle alone. There is no fault of him seems and so called Denise in front of Mr siva Kumar and told her what Mr siva said as this is fault of Holland America side that enough staff was not provided though clear booking was done with passport details nationality and even telling our food preference to booking agent. Even in Indian item. Name tags are not being put and the same counter is mixed with non vegetarian. 2nd greenhouse spa Offered hydro pool and thermal suite package at 219 per couple and was booked by me immediately on the day of embarkation and was told only last 4 space left 35 couple. 70 person is the max allowed. All good for 2 days and than came the day of skagway where board was kept for the same thing of 130 dollars which was only for skagway joining passengers but to my surprise they took booking from all the guests who boarded from Vancouver too and with bargained price of 90-100 dollars for couple. Right now there are much more than 70 persons and had told first day that I would only do it if the max cap of 70 is maintained. It is like public pool now and also with this bargain thing totally dissatisfied with working and demand a strong refund for the same. Also all general public is entering the hydro pool as the door is not kept closed 3rd room shower had fallen when it was turned on leg on first day of cruise which can't be allowed as it was not checked 4th room ac not working properly complained on first day is not resolved till date. 5th highly overcharged from exc tours. Don't buy they don't care for us Team to my surprise I found that white pass railway done by me through exc tours is also price higher than the price given on its official website Matter report to Mr lyron who was not ready to agree the fact first that it's overpriced. After giving him proof he have taken time and than comes with terms and conditions no where published. Mr lyron says this offer is only for online purchase and sent letter of terms which wasn't available online. no where that terms are published online Also if its for online only it should have been clearly written on main page This is program with Holland America that you try to earn 10 dollars more for anything and everything after normal profit and than just tell to read terms where nothing was told to us like this. Point 1 reported to Denise and charnea as well as guest manager Mr Jorn Point 2 reported to mr jorn who committed me to get back to me within next 24 hrs. Point 3 and 4 reported to housekeeping Point 5 reported to lyron exc manager on board Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We chose this cruise as we wanted to visit Alaska and see the wonderful wildlife. We left from Vancouver of which we explored and enjoyed. This was mine and my husband's first cruise. Disembarkation was really efficient it was only ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we wanted to visit Alaska and see the wonderful wildlife. We left from Vancouver of which we explored and enjoyed. This was mine and my husband's first cruise. Disembarkation was really efficient it was only border control that there was queuing issues but not to troublesome. On return it ran totally smoothly. The ship was very clean we were on deck 6 at the front the room was very clean and the staff were very polite and helpful and this we experienced throughout the ship. We preferred fine dining and the food was lovely and varied. We booked our excursions before leaving again these all went smoothly and suffered no issues . The entertainment was brilliant the dancers were superb and varied the shows. The talk from the rangers at glacier bay was very informative. We haven't caught the cruise bug but that is only due to the fact this was the only way we could see alaska as we did. A fantastic trip of which we thoughrly enjoyed. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2018
Holland America 17 day cruise from Fort Lauderdale through Panama Canal on to San Diego checked off all the boxes. As usual food was good to great, housekeeping and dining staff friendly, accommodating and truly attempted to meet our ... Read More
Holland America 17 day cruise from Fort Lauderdale through Panama Canal on to San Diego checked off all the boxes. As usual food was good to great, housekeeping and dining staff friendly, accommodating and truly attempted to meet our every whim. The check out procedure through San Diego was exceptional. Took less than 10 minutes! A few specifics worth noting. Aji and Hendry in dining area were exceptional servers. My husband got a $40 hair cut in the salon and the gal cut his ear as well as the back of his neck using the clippers. Not sure if the gal was not experienced or just did not care. We visited the Tamarind restaurant. We got sushi as an appetizer, Sea bass and a steak. The steak was very good. The Sea Bass was severely overcooked and the sushi was worse than the all you can eat sushi restaurants. Why? The chefs were lazy and cut the vegtables in huge chunks rather than thinly sliced. Each bite was all cucumber as huge chunks of cucumber were in all the sushi we ate. I would strongly suggest skipping the Tamarind. Not worth the extra dough. Our largest disappointment with the cruise is frankly nothing Holland America can do. We are in our mid 40's and the crowd as well as itinerary on the cruise was very mature. We normally enjoy trying a few new things on sea days but the activities were Soduko, Crossword puzzles, listening to pianist, learning how to use email. The two events we looked forward to was a pub crawl visiting the 4 bars on the ship. Unfortunately both events were cancelled due to lack of parcipitation. Now the million dollar question...would we do this cruise again. Probably not unless we brought some friends. For sure a yes in 15 years but the lack of activities for physical able adults was low. We still love Holland America but for sure will reconsider longer duration cruises in the future to be sure cursory activities meet our expectations. Once again, NOT a Holland America issue aside from the smaller comments mentioned above. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Excellent accommodations in Neptune Suite 8162 (aft). Room stewards Agus and Putu were awesome! Concierge perks with Neptune level accommodation worth the extra money. Main dining room food was excellent. Dined at a table of 6 with ... Read More
Excellent accommodations in Neptune Suite 8162 (aft). Room stewards Agus and Putu were awesome! Concierge perks with Neptune level accommodation worth the extra money. Main dining room food was excellent. Dined at a table of 6 with great tablemates from Canada and Louisiana. Don't ask for a table for two. The experience of meeting other passengers is worth breaking out of your comfort zone for. Servers Libra and Hendri were also excellent. The Pinnacle Grill was great! The filet mignon was perfect. Worth the extra surcharge for dinner. We chose Holland America Line for the classic cruise line atmosphere and adult settings. Ambiance was great with the decor and art pieces throughout the ship. Don't miss the BBC Planet Earth live performance accompanied by the Lincoln Center Stage musical performers. Wish it was more than once. Took advantage of breakfast room service on the veranda every morning before shore excursions. No searching for a table in the Lido Market during peak hours. Seas were too choppy to take the tender boats to Half Moon Cay, so that was the only dissapointment of the trip. We had heard so many good things about the island and were looking forward to the excursion. Looking forward to future cruises on HAL exploring other itenieries. Signed, Future 5 Star Mariner Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
My husband and I were looking for a premium experience, with a laid back vibe. We like to go to a party sometimes, but didn't want a party in our faces. As this was our first vacation away from our two small kids, we also wanted to ... Read More
My husband and I were looking for a premium experience, with a laid back vibe. We like to go to a party sometimes, but didn't want a party in our faces. As this was our first vacation away from our two small kids, we also wanted to select a cruise line that wouldn't have lots of kids aboard, and there were very few. Having sailed with HAL twice before (Oosterdam in 2004, and Zuiderdam in 2008), I knew it would be a laid back experience. We arrived in Port Everglades early, and were some of the earliest to board, which was nice. But the Lido wasn't open yet, so we enjoyed our first meal via a Dive in Burger, which was excellent! We went to our stateroom, and got unpacked, and were promptly greeted by our cabin steward Agus. He remembered our names by the second day, and always greeted us with a friendly smile and used our names as well. Throughout the week, we were very pleased with the quality and selection of food in both the kids and main dining room, and the service was friendly and prompt as well. We dined in Tamarind on the first gala night and were very pleased with the quality of our meals, as well as the friendliness and prompt service we received there. As for the ship itself, she was very clean and in great condition. Knowing she is 8 years old, I expected to see lots of signs of wear and tear, and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was very minimal. The design and decor was very pleasing to my eyes: no gaudy brass atrium, like on some other lines. Our cabin was a very comfortable respite, complete with tub/shower, Elemis haircare and skincare (love Elemis!), a very comfortable king size bed, interactive tv with movies, tv shows, descriptions of available excursions, as well as daily offerings in the dining venues onboard, and last but not least, a lovely private veranda, complete with two loungers. Wanting a laid back experience, this ship didnt disappoint. We rarely had to wait in a line for anything, and always had an easy time finding chairs poolside, even on sea days. One area that was somewhat underwhelming was the entertainment. I'm not saying that there was none, but there were no games or events that engaged the guests, like a newlywed game or karaoke nights, as i recall experiencing in the past, and on HAL at that. Overall, this was a very wonderful experience, and I would gladly sail on Holland America again! Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Hello everyone, Welcome to my review of the Nieuw Amsterdam. This is my cruising history: Cruise lines – 16 Ships cruised (size) – from 5,000 GT to 225,000 GT Ships cruised (capacity) – from 300 to 5400 Ships ... Read More
Hello everyone, Welcome to my review of the Nieuw Amsterdam. This is my cruising history: Cruise lines – 16 Ships cruised (size) – from 5,000 GT to 225,000 GT Ships cruised (capacity) – from 300 to 5400 Ships cruised (ratings) – from 2.5* to 5* We have not been on the Nieuw Amsterdam for a while. The more exciting it is to see the ship again – after recent refurbishment. Our itinerary this time – Eastern Caribbean in March. MS Nieuw Amsterdam This ship is one of a few most significant landmarks in the world of cruising. Some comments on the general situation in cruising are necessary to understand our vision of this ship today. 2010 The year of its construction, glorious 2010, was the highest peak that the cruise industry ever reached. The Queen of all ships RMS Queen Mary 2 ocean liner was already in service. Royal Caribbean launched the Allure of the Seas - a slightly improved sister ship of their unique giant Oasis of the Seas. What must be emphasized: all these ships were in their original design in 2010 (some unpleasant modifications have been done since then). The opulent Queen Elizabeth was launched in 2010. MS Nieuw Amsterdam (NA) joined her sister ship MS Eurodam (built in 2008). These two cruise ships weren’t the most expensive ships ever built. However there was something special about them. The stars, or the gods that govern shipbuilding were in their good mood when these ships were designed. Neither fastest, nor largest, they have accommodated an exemplary list of luxury features within the size that allowed the economically reasonable number of passengers (2,100) to enjoy high quality cruising in its fullness on the most spacious and comfortable resort ship. In the other words, intentionally, or just as a matter of luck, these ships designers created a pair of the best resort cruise ships ever built. Different ships were built; different people were managing cruise industry in 2010…. Redefining Luxury The NA is a fairly large ship, but not crowded as opposed to some mega ships. Not “officially” luxury, NA is packed with luxury features that leave so-called “luxury ships” far behind (from Silversea to Regent). Really? What is luxury at sea? To know that we need to open a glossy cruise brochure at the page called “Luxury cruises”. It will tell us that, for a few thousand dollars, you can get an unparalleled personalized service and enjoy first class dining at sea in the most sophisticated environment (of course marbled bathroom included). The highest numbers of space ratio and crew/passenger ratio will complete the picture. Wow! Now please recycle this brochure properly. Passenger space ratio (to make it simple) is ship’s internal volume divided by the number of passengers. It does not include the open space (sun decks, pools, promenades). Unless you limit your cruising experience to what a luxury nursing home resident may dream about (eating, sleeping, talking, bedside nurse with a tray of canapés 24/7), you’ll need much more on a cruise ship to call it luxury. People live under heavy pressure of various stereotypes. Say “resort cruise ship”, and a harping echo will bring “we don’t need climbing walls”. Why climbing walls? Who is talking about climbing walls? Why does it need to be climbing walls if it’s not a “luxury” ship?! Lack of experience feeds stereotypes. The sleep of reason produces monsters. Lack of cruising experience & blind cruise line loyalty feeds cruising stereotypes. What is it really like? “Luxury ships” is a label that is commonly associated with club style cruise ships. Most people have no idea of what cruise ships really are. Various ads are their primary source of “information”. Club style ships are relatively small (up to 50,000-60,000 GT). Indeed, they offer personalized service and great food. The prices are kept so high that only those who can afford (and like this type of cruises) can be seen on board. No “strangers” that may hurt delicate feelings and habits of the “members only”. As explained above, the price tag does not necessarily mean “luxury”. “Luxury” is rather confusing, heavily overused, and distracting marketing word. Therefore I prefer star ratings. Due to the limited size (but not for this reason only) club style ships are lacking some amenities that are available on larger, higher-class ships (like Nieuw Amsterdam – a real, not “brochure” luxury). A special note to remember about the higher class ships: this is the quality of the ship, not passengers. I review cruise ships, not passengers. Let’s go back to 2010 and overview the new ship. Tonnage: close to 90,000 GT (a mid-size cruise ship) Passengers: 2100 (double occupancy) Nieuw Amsterdam from bow to stern: observation deck, observation lounge, full circle promenade, two swimming pools (adult only aft sea view pool deck), large sports court, first class spa with a real hydrotherapy pool, modern gym, spacious private feel sun decks with sweeping vistas, choice of specialty restaurants, elegant art deco interiors, fresh flowers everywhere, artwork collection that fills the ship with a flavor of classic sea travel and more than 100 years history of the cruise line, good to excellent food and service, daily afternoon tea – something that goes without saying. a classic ocean liner vibe on a modern cruise ship Any “official” (in the brochure meaning) “luxury ship” to fit this list from A to Z? None! Wait, how about “being close to the sea” on a large cruise ship? This is not an exclusive feature of the small ships. It’s a matter of talent and taste of the shipbuilders (and those who order the ships of course!) Needless to say that on the Nieuw Amsterdam one can feel as close to the sea as if it was a private yacht with added feel of being on a powerful ship that sails majestically across the waives. This is what the Nieuw Amsterdam was at the time of leaving the shipyard in 2010. Who is NA for? The 5* luxury cruise ship Nieuw Amsterdam welcomes everyone who can pay from let’s say $500 pp for a 7-day Caribbean cruise, while a 10-day Caribbean cruise on a 3.5* club style ship is likely to start from $3,500 pp. MS Nieuw Amsterdam today A $100 note today is not what it was in 2010. We have to admit this. And we also have to admit that the stars of a cruise ship rating in 2010 are not exactly the same weight in 2018. The cruise industry standards have deteriorated since then and continue to do so. More water is being added into cruise lines cooking pots (literally – food and service, and figuratively – new ships design). Bean counters have more say nowadays. However different cruise lines/different ships have made different progress going down. Some did more, some did less, some did not (rare exception). How did the Nieuw Amsterdam survive this period and how is she doing today? A special note for the first timers (please read carefully). There will be a fair amount of critical notes below. But… Please understand that we are reviewing the most comfortable cruise ship available at the moment. Much attention has been paid to some fine details that may be important only to those who know this ship, love this ship and cruise a lot. It’s the uniqueness of the ship that justifies the amount of time I spent on the critical notes. Disaster and disgrace: someone has misplaced diamonds in the King’s crown jewels! This is what it is about. Nothing more. No worries. Even with a somewhat damaged crown, this cruise ship is still #1 at sea. Major refit: 2017 Cruising in March, 2018 The Ship After recent revamp: immaculately clean, fresh and shiny like an amber drop. God forbid, the ship did not suffer any major hardware design changes (like added cabins, ruined open decks, etc.) Changes were made to the layout, décor, and functionality of some areas only. Interiors The ship retains its original elegant décor and layout in general. Changes: the good, not so good, the bad, the ugly. The atrium staircase has been removed completely. IMO this is a clear improvement. The atrium is more spacious now. The ship is still easy to navigate: there are three major staircases and 14 elevators. The panoramic sea view elevators are as beautiful as they used to be. The unique art deco chandelier in the atrium (a rotating stylized model of New York City skyline) is in place but for some reason it is not rotating. Is it temporary or permanent? I don’t know. If it’s permanent…. Well, it can be a bad omen - like a clock that stopped. Very bad. Holland America, don’t let anyone stop your clock! Some strange toponymic changes have been made. The Queen’s Lounge has lost its original name. Now it’s a BB King’s Blues Club & America’s Test Kitchen …. with Queen of Netherlands Beatrix’s statue bust and the Royal Family portrait at the entrance! It seems to me that this “kitchen” has no taste… Could BB King’s continue to perform in the Queen’s Lounge? The former Nothern Lights Disco/Dance Club has become the Gallery Bar. The space is completely redesigned. Now it’s a small lounge that opens directly to the casino. We can say that the former Casino bar has moved here. A single most visible change is the conversion of the Piano bar. The bulkheads have been removed. Casino bar removed (moved to the former disco club site). Now is an open space board to board. The space includes the newly installed “dueling pianos” on the redecorated starboard side and the casino itself (no smoking) on the port side. At a glance this area is somewhat “carnivalized”. Those who cruise on Carnival ships may remember musicians performing near the casino - across the main passage way. The noise of the casino is mixing up with the beauty of the singing pianists. Can we dream about something? What a wow ship would there be if the casino goes overboard, or at least being reduced to the size of the one on the Queen Elizabeth and separated by a nice bulkhead… The Explorer’s Lounge has been reduced to a faceless area with a few chairs and an empty wall (where the podium for the String quartet used to be). The purpose of the change is to create a more appropriate space for chamber music concerts. The stage is now on the opposite (forward) end of the former lounge. A light partition separates the performance area from the main passage. It’s a good idea. However the implementation is a lazy work. Do these people know (or just pay attention to) why this lounge was called Explorers’s Lounge? What artwork belong to this lounge and why? Zero attention was paid. Rushed changes? Half artwork left in the new chamber music lounge. They forgot to relocate the installation (thus an empty wall). The other one remains in the dwarfed Explorer’s Lounge. However the author name plaque (now invisible) was found attached to the wall upside down behind the couch seatback. The worst part of this change is that the view of the largest artwork displayed on the ship, the Panorama of Manhattan, is now obstructed. The awkward location of the decorative set of flowers completes the damage. The counter should have been on the other side of the open space (exactly where the podium was) so that at least a part of the view of the beautiful Panorama remains open… Not the most visible due to its location away from the main traffic, but the most painful change is…. Yes, it’s the Crow’s Nest. I welcome the removal of the stairs in the atrium. I see the benefits of the new dueling pianos. The new Gallery bar seems a good spot at times (if the casino is quiet). I can smile looking at the ignorance related to the Queen’s Lounge situation. I see the benefit of the new partition that separates the chamber music area. But the Crow’s Nest! The area of the former Exploration café is now an excursion office. A few touch screen tables indicate that the digital world has found it’s way here. Touch the screen and get information on the ports of call and other destinations worldwide. The thing is that these screens are total waste. Two of them display the minimum info on the ports of call (a map with a few “points of interest”). The other ones display “cards” – selections of colored pictures, etc. This is a good stuff to look at while waiting in a doctor’s office, i.e. something that you would look at and put aside in a few minutes. IMO this is a useless decoration, waste of space and equipment. The area where the library was, is now hosting a big screen with ever changing views of tourist destinations – pure decoration. Think of electronic wallpapers. In front of it – another screen table that may attract your attention for a minute before you get bored with its primitive “interactive options». A huge double screen installation takes the central part of the panoramic view forward. Again. I will repeat it because the readers are likely not to imagine this. The Crow’s Nest is a forward observation lounge. By definition the beauty of this venue is a panoramic view forward. This is a luxury feature on a cruise ship. What happened? As a part of the “improvements”, a monstrous two-screen installation is placed right in the middle of the panoramic view. Does it block the view? Yes. It’s like a melanoma spot on someone’s nose. The screens display current navigation information. It’s basic but interesting. Good to know. But why here? Why in the middle? There is so much wasted space, so many useless screens nearby… This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen on a cruise ship. Another thing in the Crow’s Nest that turned my face red. Port side. The original SS Nieuw Amsterdam bell and the beautiful model of the liner are gone! Can one imagine that such unique memorabilia can be replaced with an IKEA-inspired tour office lecture room with a few rows of seats and a digital screen displaying colored pictures (again, another one!!)… The whole area of the Crow’s Nest has been sterilized as if it’s ready for rent: no links to the Holland America Line, nothing to remind where you are … Very strange. Explorations Café That is amazing. Viking Cruises have followed the New Amsterdam planning (in general) for their new ships. They put their Mamsen’s café in the observation lounge exactly on the spot where the Explorations café used to be on the Nieuw Amsterdam. The Mumsen’s has more options to choose from (think of the Dutch café on the Koningsdam). While another cruise line is copying the best of Nieuw Amsterdam, HAL is getting rid of it! At the same time. The Explorations café has been removed and replaced with that excursion desk. Specialty coffee is now available from the bar some 50 feet away from the crash site. No dance floor any more. That’s it about the changes. I do not owe this cruise line. This is not my business. I am only a paying guest there. I don’t make decisions. I only review the ship. What has survived? The library is not exterminated completely (as it was done on the Koningsdam). There are several bookshelves here and there in the lounge with some very interesting books. The lounge is still available to serve its primary purpose as a forward observation lounge. This is a luxury feature, and one of the most beautiful spots on the ship. Nieuw Amsterdam Food Let’s start from…. the food. The buffet food on this ship used to be excellent. One would look for and never find freshly squeezed orange juice and some 10 kinds of eggs benedict as a standard feature on any other large ship (non-HAL). Today these features exist in memories only. Juices are from standard vitality dispensers now. There is only one kind of egg benedict as a feature of the day. Crab meat benedicts are available in MDR. The quality of desserts in the buffet was not consistent. It varied from very good to rather boring (late snack). Gone are pastries from Explorations Café as the café itself does not exist any more. Coffee is available from the bar in the Crow’s Nest lounge. This is it about the losses. Let's continue wuth the cruise... The buffet in general was good to very good. Excellent meats. Excellent bread pudding. Omelets-made-to-order have uncountable number of ingredient to choose from. Salad bar is great with options. Enormous variety of juices/juice drinks for breakfast. Excellent muesli. Fruits – good selection during the cruise, but not everything available every day. Service – outstanding. Waiters provide reasonable amount of assistance in the buffet – not annoying, just effective. Main Dining Room Cruises is our vacation time that is short and precious. We are flexible as to where, when, and with whom to eat, and the Nieuw Amsterdam provides great opportunities for freestyle dining. However we have preferences as well. As the cruise time is short, we try to have the best of it. We do not follow the MDR ceremonial dining routine every night. We are in MDR for Gala dinners, and for quick visits on the other nights to see what is going on, to try something good… and of course to take pictures and review menus. I am pleased to report that the food on Gala nights was simply excellent in selection, taste and presentation (lobsters, foi gras, excellent meats, amazing cold soups…). Other days – good to very good. Specialty restaurants We never skip the Tamarind. This is the most popular specialty dining venue on the ship that never disappoints. We did not do Pinnacle Grille this time – just too much food. We did not do Sel de Mer event at the Pinnacle Grille. We tried it on the Koningsdam and did not like it. It was not worth the money IMO. The Canaletto (an area in the buffet that is converted into a specialty venue each night) was pretty full every night. But their menu has never been to our liking (tastes differ). A few more words about public rooms Interiors retain the elegance of the original design. No closed-in feel. The ocean view panoramic elevators are magnetic. A three-deck high Atrium is relatively small yet charming, with the famous NY skyline chandelier. The Atrium continues to the spacious (board to board) central elevator foyers with the panoramic elevators on both sides. The new carpeting is a piece of art. The ornament of the carpet is now matching the luxurious ornate elevator doors. We enjoyed both observation lounges: Crow’s Nest (Deck 11 forward) and Tamarind (formerly Silk Den Lounge - Deck 11 midship). The Nieuw Amsterdam is a ship of artwork and fresh flowers. Open decks The Nieuw Amsterdam (along with the sister ship) is the most spacious cruise ship at sea (internally + externally). It features the iconic full-circle teak promenade, the forward view deck, and astonishingly vast (yet private feel) sun decks. There are two swimming pools on the ship. The central pool has a sliding roof The aft pool area (adults only) is a fantastic open panorama of the sea. No crowds. Extra charge service: cabanas for rent. Spa and Fitness It’s amazing that the sports court on the mid-size Nieuw Amsterdam is larger than on many mega ships. The spa is top class at sea: thermal suite (thalassotherapy pool, three steam rooms, heated tile beds), relaxation room, and various treatment rooms. This is something for you to know about the spa on the Nieuw Amsterdam. All the cruising passengers know that “food is included” in the price. But all cruising passengers (I believe) know that this fact says nothing about the food quality (from mediocre to excellent). Thalassotherapy pool (AKA hydropools) are relatively rare, so most cruisers have little idea of what they are. Some people believe that a hydropool is somewhat standard. In fact, the hydropool quality varies as wide as the food quality – from the imitations to the real ones that are extremely rare. The hydropool on the Nieuw Amsterdam is one of those real that are extremely rare. This is $$$ and worth every penny if you want to have an effective hydro massage, not just a fun time in an enlarged jacuzzi. There are also two free separate saunas for men and women. The forward-looking gym is well equipped. Design deficiencies? Yes, there is one that is pretty obvious: a wasted space above the bridge that could have been a much more appropriate place for the forward viewing deck (rather than on Deck 5 forward). Cabins There is a wide selection of cabins for different budgets on the Nieuw Amsterdam. The most typical is a standard balcony cabin. The cabins are reasonably spacious for the category, have a good storage space, most cabins have tub/shower combos rather than shower stalls. The balconies are very spacious, with unobstructed views (except for the substandard balconies on Deck 5 midship). The ocean view cabins (most of) follow the layout of the balcony cabins. The ones on Dec 4 (so-called “obstructed view” – behind lifeboats) feature large floor to ceiling windows. The cheapest inside cabins has two main configurations. Both are rather compact with amazing amount of storage space. These cabins on the luxury ship deliver outstanding value for money. Outstanding means o-u-t-s-t-a-n-d-i-n-g. The large insides category “J” and “I” is a pinnacle for families of four. The largest insides at sea combined with the price - is a miracle. Many cruisers make huge mistakes searching budget cruise lines for a “value-for-money” cruise vacation, not knowing that a luxury cruise vacation may cost them less! A big step up in balcony cabin size are mini-suites (“Signature Suite”). Although not full suites, the “Neptune Suites” are very pleasant spacious cabins with extra large balconies. The ones on stern are absolutely beautiful, with huge balconies (think of a private open deck). The ship features two very expensive full suites (“Pinnacle” category). The Nieuw Amsterdam is a one-class ship, no ship-within-a-ships, no obnoxious segregation. The Nieuw Amsterdam provides a ship-within-a-ship quality experience (actually above that) for all on board. A Nieuw Amsterdam – within – a Nieuw Amsterdam, so to speak. Holland America Line is still doing many things right. The suite perks are set up in the most civilized way that does not affect the cruising experience “for the rest of” the passengers (about 87%, i.e. the whole ship). HAL ships remain the most egalitarian (only Viking Cruises and Costa Cruises compares) among the major cruise brands that makes credit this respectable cruise line. “Many classes” means “No class”. Entertainment The theater is fully capable modern entertainment venue. From RCI to NCL, I have not seen any production show that cannot be repeated on “The Main Stage” as it’s now called. It only depends on the cruise line intention and budget. The best show IMO was the BBC Earth footage accompanied with a live orchestra. Some may or may not like the concept, but it’s without a doubt a top-notch professional performance. The production shows performed by the resident troupe (canned music) were full of energy but …. Canned music is like plastic food. We respectfully skipped the guest performers. There was a lot of discussion on how Oprah’s O magazine would affect the cruising experience. It was absolutely harmless. We were able to avoid any interactions easily. B.B.King’s performances were well attended. Not my cup of tea though. The dueling pianos performances were very entertaining. We could attend a little bit a few times, and it was very well done. The chamber music concrts were probably the most professionally done part of the entertainment program. Fellow cruisers Is “HAL demographics a good fit for us”? Here you go. Be aware that a ship called “HAL’ does not exist. HAL ships have their names and differ like day and night from 3*+ to 5*. Never say HAL. Say what ship. There were many young people on board. This ship, this itinerary, and the short duration of the cruise attract the youngest clientele. There was visible number of kids on board. Nieuw Amsterdam cruise tips Believe me or not, many cruisers still don’t know… how to cruise! Take time to study the whole ship and identify the best features for you to enjoy. Don’t go where and when most people go. Life at sea is different. Leave your habits on land. You’ll go back to the boredom of them in a week or two. A cruise ship is not a floating hotel. Don’t book a cruise if want to stay in a hotel. Start you day early. Morning is the most valuable time on a cruise. See how the sea and the sun wake up. Enjoy your early breakfast in the buffet while everything is for you only. The single most important thing on a cruise ship (after hand wash): the buffet. Sometimes you can have better food than in the Main Dining Room – right from the stove. Eggs benedict with crab meat – try MDR breakfast one time (two times max). You don’t have to have full dinner in the MDR every day. Be flexible. Save time. Combine MDR and the buffet. Walk! The Nieuw Amsterdam is a ship far active cruisers. You didn’t know that? Wow! Don’t miss Gala dinners in MDR. Have a dinner at Tamarind – a must. Try wasabi crusted filet mignon. Check out the buffet daily for lunch and dinner. You are going to find something you will like. Ask if lobsters will be available in the buffet on Gala night. Best Thermal Suite at sea – book for the duration of the cruise as soon as you get on board. Need a table for the party of one or two? Contact cruise line in advance, and see Maitre D as soon as you get on board. Any time dining is good way to get a table you want for the time you want. Be quick. What unique place is found nowhere else but on a cruise ship? Promenade deck – this is where you start your day. Yes you do. Do all cruise ships have promenade decks? No. It’s a luxury feature. Don’t forget about the gym. Don’t order room service. Food in the buffet is much better. Is it a good idea to book an inside cabin? Yes, the best. Book an inside and save money for the spa if you cruise on a budget. Is a beverage package waste of money? Yes. Came across something tasty? Grab it and save for later in the fridge. The food will not be waiting for you to come back. Don’t forget that you are cruising on a romantic ship. Check out the very top private sun decks forward and midship. Don’t forget that the Nieuw Amsterdam has a large sports court. Sounds of charm – go to the Silk Den Lounge (now called Tamarind bar?) The Nieuw Amsterdam is not a ship where sun lounges have to be placed in rows “cheek to cheek”. Take an advantage of this. You are on the most spacious cruise ship at sesa! The ships will supply sun deck towels –unlimited. Your part is to bring clips to fix them on the loungers. Mark you packing list. What if I don’t want to go to the gym, but want room service, have breakfast in MDR, don’t have dinner in the buffet, don’t swim in the pool, stay away from thermal suite, watch for trivia sessions… ? Then it’s time to book a cruise on the Maasdam. But you are on the Nieuw Amsterdam my friend! Itinerary The itinerary was the crème de la crème of the 7-night Caribbean cruises. Fort Lauderdale – Grand Turk – San Juan – St.Thomas – Half Moon Cay – Fort Lauderdale. Paradise islands Paradise cruise ship Paradise weather We have waited until all three points are in line. And that was the Chocolate of the Seas cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam. My cruise blog collection: cruiseadmiral.com Happy cruising! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
This is our 11th cruise. We have sailed mostly with Royal caribbean. And some with carnival and celebrity. We choose this cruise because we were looking for good food, good service, relaxation and a few ports that we had not been too. This ... Read More
This is our 11th cruise. We have sailed mostly with Royal caribbean. And some with carnival and celebrity. We choose this cruise because we were looking for good food, good service, relaxation and a few ports that we had not been too. This ship is decorated beautifully. Not gaudy but modern classic. The service on the ship was wonderful from the room stewards,to the servers in the specialty restaurants to the cabana attendant. The food in main dining room was alright, nothing special. But the specialty restaurants food was fantastic. We loved the Tamrind. Good service and fabulous food. The pinnacle was good. The Canaletto was alright. This was our least favorite. We had a lido cabana and it was very convenient that I didn't have to worry about if I was going to get lounger or not. The lido area can tend to be a little stuffy. The cabanas attendant Sandy was very efficient and friendly. He was always insuring that we had everything we needed. Enjoyed being served in our cabana lunch everyday. The entertainment was good. The cruise singers and dancers work very hard. They might not be the best but they work hard at their trade. This ship is wonderful if you want a slow paced and relaxing trip. If you want a party ship this one is not for you. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
Just coming off 10 days of upgrades she looked great and the workers are doing a awesome job in making her look so good. The workers throughout were gracious in assisting one's needs. The Tamarind was as great as we had read about. ... Read More
Just coming off 10 days of upgrades she looked great and the workers are doing a awesome job in making her look so good. The workers throughout were gracious in assisting one's needs. The Tamarind was as great as we had read about. The MDR was very good with open dining, only bad thing was no lobster on a seven day holiday cruise. Lido far exceeded our expectations the food was very well with excellent flavor.Activities still need some work though. We would choose HAL again. The Hydro pool and it's thermal suite were worth it!! The Dive had great burgers and hot dogs worth waiting for. Exploration's Cafe was placed in a great quiet location. Embarkation and Disembarking was as smooth as we have never seen in our previous twenty plus cruises. The BB King, Billboards were great to listen and dance too. Did not get to see the Kitchen shows but it seemed well liked by those who did attend from what we heard. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
This was a one-week Thanksgiving cruise. It was our 18th cruise, and second with HAL. We are in our 40s and sailed without our kids. This cruise was just what we wanted. The service is impeccable. While food admittedly is subjective, ... Read More
This was a one-week Thanksgiving cruise. It was our 18th cruise, and second with HAL. We are in our 40s and sailed without our kids. This cruise was just what we wanted. The service is impeccable. While food admittedly is subjective, I found all of the food to be excellent, the best I have had on a cruise. This is what old-style cruising is about: elegant, pampered, formal, relaxing. HAL does it the best of the mainstream cruise lines. But I would not recommend this cruise to everyone. The passengers were of different ages, as compared to the typical elderly passengers that HAL attracts, since it was Thanksgiving. There were a lot of multi-generational family groups. That was nice, but I think unique to the Thanksgiving sailing. There was not a lot to do on the ship. Days at sea we mainly spent reading, eating, and walking. In the afternoons there was some trivia. There are a few other activities (cooking demonstrations, computer classes, etc.) but not much going on for the "active" set. I don't need sexy-legs and belly flop competitions, but it would be nice to see some athletic or other activities. The evenings had a show and some music. The disco was dead. The shows were amateur hour, as were the featured performers. But BB Kings was great. HAL is very well organized, so getting on and off, tenders, etc. were handled well. It was a frustration-free cruise, and a very relaxing one at that. It was just what we wanted. Just be aware if you are looking at this cruise that there is not a lot going on throughout the ship, and you definitely are not sailing this ship for the entertainment. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Long Review 5 Day Vancouver-San Diego Nieuw Amsterdam Cabin Category VF GTY Assigned cabin 4173 (Starboard Aft) Embarkation in Vancouver ***** Easy We flew into YVR Vancouver International and took the SkyTrain ... Read More
Long Review 5 Day Vancouver-San Diego Nieuw Amsterdam Cabin Category VF GTY Assigned cabin 4173 (Starboard Aft) Embarkation in Vancouver ***** Easy We flew into YVR Vancouver International and took the SkyTrain “Waterfront” line to downtown Vancouver. $15 CAN approx for 2. Very easy way to get to Canada Place. A short 2 block walk to the cruise ship terminal - passing right by a handy wine shop to purchase our carry on wine allowance. Arriving in the terminal we proceeded through the maze of security and documentation checks with ease. We arrived around 12:30 pm and were onboard in less than 20 minutes. One of the first things we noticed upon boarding was that the staff onboard the Nieuw Amsterdam was noticeably more welcoming than the last cruise we took on NCL. Even more so than our last Holland America cruise a few years ago on this very same ship. You will never pass a crew member of HAL of any ranking anywhere in the ship without them greeting you with a good morning or evening. Cabin 4173 - This was our first guaranty cabin experience. We had no choice in matter. The 5 day segment did not offer specific cabin assignment at the time of booking. Our cabin was assigned approximately 1 week before sailing. We did write to HAL immediately after receiving our assigned cabin requesting a cabin on the starboard side and we were fortunate to receive a confirmation the next day that our cabin was changed. I’m sure this is not always possible, but we were happy to be moved from a port forward cabin to an aft starboard cabin heading Southbound to be able to enjoy the sunsets from our balcony. Cabin 4173 is almost at the aft end of the ship, but it’s close to an elevator and while not overly spacious and lacking HAL’s signature little bath/shower combination in this category - we just had a shower - it was more than adequate for our needs over 5 days. Cabin Attendent Our cabin attendent “Novi” found us wandering down the hall toward our cabin and quickly informed us that he would be putting our beds into the proper configuation after we put our bags away and headed out for lunch on the Lido deck. First Meal HAL Tradition After unloading our bags in our cabin we headed up the Lido deck for a bite to eat. One of HAL’s best quick lunches is the “Dive-In” located aft. Order your burger, they hand you a pager and a few minutes later you are enjoying a delicious burger, chicken sandwich or gourmet dog. This is becoming our ritual on HAL on embarkation day. Mandatory Emergency Drill Nothing to be alarmed about - unless you have sensitive ears. The blasts in the event of an emergency could wake a hibernating bear on another continent! Mustering was done quickly and efficiently and we were not required to bring our life jackets to the drill. Sail Away It was raining in Vancouver so we gathered near the pool area of the Lido deck and partook in a sail away margarita in the souvenir glass...(plastic nowadays). No live music - just canned tunes and a little too loud for our taste, but apparently loud music makes people order more drinks! Dining Reservations and Beverage Packages Prior to sailing we made (and paid for) reservations at Tamarind one evening. Once onboard we made another reservation for the Pinnacle Grill on the one Gala night. We also prepaid for a wine package. We chose the 3 bottle Admiral wine package for our sailing. We did not buy the all-inclusive beverage package for this short cruise. We just signed by the drink. Our bar bill (apart from the 3 bottle wine package we prepaid) was $261 - that breaks down to $26 per person per day. The cost of the beverage package is approx $50 per person per day and both have to have it -so in this instance we did better on our own. We had a few welcome aboard cocktails, usually a cocktail in the evening and occasionally a cocktail at a show or a Bloody Mary in the morning. Another thing is that this cruise was not a warm weather cruise with many sea days laying by the pool all day, which tends to jack up the amount of libation we would do. Entertainment around the ship Normally we love the Adagio duos. This sailing had a pair of handsome gentlemen vs the gorgeous ladies playing the piano and violin classical “hits” and favorites. This duo played without any connection to the music to each other or to the audience. The second night I jokingly asked them to “smile” and the one on violin obliged me with a smirk, then went back to looking like secret service agents. Maybe I have been watching too many American talent shows, but I think you have to do some degree of selling the audience by connecting to them or to your music. Cheers to the bartenders! From the margarita to the sidecar to the gin and tonic and vodka martini ... I think HAL does a good job of making their drinks worth the price. Comedian Mark Pitta Our first show in the theatre was stand up. An unknown to us. We went to the late show and I think the theatre was about 2/3 full. Some jokes were good and stuck with you. Nothing offensive, but nothing that knocked me off my chair either. Enjoyable. 1000 Steps Our second show in the theatre on Gala night. A song and dance show featuring some great dancing with enjoyable choreography, talented dancers and good singers. Not HAL’s strongest suit, but enjoyable nevertheless. Piano Bar Always lively and full no matter what sailing or demographic is on board! The singer this week was not our favorite, but did the job he was paid to do... keep the place full! Dining: Main dining room. Without a reservation it can be up to a 20 minute wait with a pager during peak times. The main dining room menu is adequate and had some variety, but nothing really special. Service was good but rushed as always. The wine stewards are very rushed in their order taking and delivery of the wine. Lack of personal attention when you don’t have a set dining time and have the same waiter all week. We had the Admiral wine package and the wines were ordinary. I think next time we will opt to bring on our own wine for a corkage fee or purchase wine by the bottle off the wine list (different from that of the package). Lido. Buffet. Great for breakfast and lunch. I love the Congee porridge in the morning or having an omelette made to order. For lunch there is great Asian food and a wonderful salad bar - most items served by the staff to reduce the chance of a norovirus outbreak. There were many types of other foods hot and cold available here - I only mentioned what I tried. The ice cream was not very good. PIzza. Aft deck Did not try Pinnacle Grill & Gala Night $35 upcharge. Dined here one evening on Gala night, however not many people were dressed for a gala! I’m seeing fewer and fewer tuxedos and evening wear. I love dressing up on cruises, but I have to say my husband was thrilled to just bring a dress shirt and sports coat this trip vs penguin attire.. shoes, cumber bun, tie, cuff links, etc. We boarded with only a carry on this trip! ..Back to the Pinnacle food and serivce. Far exceeds the food and service of the main dining room and there is no rush in the service. If you want a great steak, a slower meal this is the place. Sel de Mar (Pinnacle restaurant changes over 2 nights a week to this French Seafood dining experience for a hefty $49 per person charge) We did not dine here Tamarind My birthday dinner was here. Our second experience at the Tamarind on this ship. I found my first experience to be better, I think because it was less crowded and earlier the last time on a previous sailing. We did not get a good explanation of how the menu works this time. Last time we got hot towels before dinner. Our servers were adorable and attentive. The food in here is amazing - just be prepared to think outside the box and try new things. I think that is a safe statement on dining everywhere on the ship. Most of us, as a rule do not dine with menus as elegant as even the main dining room at home. But the dainty little portions and tidbits of appetizers take some getting used to in order to really savor the delicacy of them all. Lastly - our server forgot to recognize my birthday as my husband had requested so he told the maitre’d on the way out. But 30 minutes later back at our cabin - both our servers showed up knocking at the door with a birthday cake singing to me, asking to come in to give me a hug .. I was already in bed! Canaletto Italian fare in a cordoned off section off the Lido buffet area. I don’t like the location of this venue. It’s only a $15 upcharge but the location is a turn off to me. Didn’t dine here, but the menu looks good and we had it on our last cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam. America’s Test Kitchen Something new on HAL. A cooking demonstration like the TV show with great tips and recipes. Only drawback is no tasting - the HAL exhibit kitchen is apparently not up to FDA standard of safety to pass out samples! BBQ Lounge (America’s Test Kitchen by day) Hands down this is HAL’s best entertainment on the ship. Great music for dancing and a stroll down memory lane of R and B music. The band: drums, keyboard, bass, guitar, trumpet, trombone and vocalists are amazing and entertaining and true musicians who often are strangers to each other until just before sailing and put together a repertoire of party hits. Al Green, Earth Wind and Fire, Marvin Gaye .. and of course BB King. Bravo HAL. Ports Astoria: First time here. Walk a few clicks to the Maritime Museum and found a pub for beer, chowder and free wifi access! San Francisco: My birth city. Got up early to see the arrival in the dark. Took a bus to the textile district to try and buy a mattress at Tuft and Needle (seriously!) .. then a cable car ride from Powell and Market to the Hyde Street turnaround and had world famous Irish Coffee’s at the Buena Vista bar - then back to the ship for happy hour in the crows nest and sail away under the Golden Gate Bridge. Priceless experience. Avalon: Quaint little seaside town on the island of Catalina (once owned by Wrigley) off Southern California. We had a surprise visit from family who live in Longbeach, CA. They took the Catalina Express over to meet us and we saw the island in a 4 person gas powered golf cart, followed by some shopping on the wharf. The old “casino” (dance hall) was closed for the day by the time we got back so we did not get to visit inside. Fun day - only port we had to tender to. Exceptional Service: Diane at the reception desk. We had no plans to race off the ship for a tender as we were in dock from 2:00 pm - 10:00 pm. After we anchored, my husband turned on his cell phone to see if there was any reception. There was a voice mail from his brother who said “I’m here.. we took the ferry over and we are waiting for you on the island”. So my husband went down to get a tender ticket and found out we could not get off the ship until 4:50 pm. All the early tender tickets were gone. That would have been too late for us to meet our relatives because they had to be on the ferry home shortly after that. “Diane” at the reception desk realized our plight and was able to squeeze us onto an early tender. She escorted us down to the gangway and we cannot thank her enough for making our day. Lesson learned. Always get your tender tickets early. Novi our cabin steward in 4173 Novi from Indonesia found us on arrival day. Introduced himself and made sure our cabin was in order each and every day. By the time we returned from breakfast each day our cabin was immaculately tidy and ready for another day of fun. I realize this is their job, but some do it better than others. We felt compelled to leave him a little “extra” at the end. Chef at the Lido who took the time to write out a recipe for me for Bee Hoon Fish Soup. Gym: adequate and busier than expected. Saw grey whales on the elliptical trainer! Thermal Suites: did not participate this time. $109 per person for 5 days. Massage: Prepaid for a couples 50 minute massage. Very nice. This was one of our favorite cruises to date. We love HAL. Terima kasih 1st night: Main Dining Room No reservations - approx 7:30 pm - Embarkation from Vancouver There was a heavy line of approx 15 to put your name in - You are given a pager and we waited approx 15-20 minutes. We were escorted upstairs to the top floor because the restaurant was so busy. Normally the top floor are for those who make dinner reservations or who have assigned dining times. Our dining companions Ron and Ako were from England. We enjoyed hearing their cruise stories. They take about 5-6 long cruises a year. Food choices were adequate and while portions were small, they were more than enough to keep us happy. 2nd night: Main Dining Room No reservations - approx 7:30 pm - Astoria A shorter line than the first night and only a 5-10 minute wait for a table. Our dining companions were from Germany. We never learned their names, but they taught me how to say “have a nice evening” in German. (I think!) I cannot properly write it, but phoenetically it’s “eye-nin schroo-nen hav-en” while communication was not easy we had a enjoyable dinner. 3rd night: Pinnacle Grill Gala night - reservations 6:30 - Sea day 4th night: Tamarind Reservations 7:30 - San Francisco 5th night: Main Dining Room Final night Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
My husband and I did a 7 days Alaskan cruise in May 2017. The weather in Alaska was fantastic for the most part. It rained only 3 days one was on port day. Rest of the days were sunny and warm except when out to sea which was cool. We ... Read More
My husband and I did a 7 days Alaskan cruise in May 2017. The weather in Alaska was fantastic for the most part. It rained only 3 days one was on port day. Rest of the days were sunny and warm except when out to sea which was cool. We choose a Cabin with a balcony (cabin 7114) Queen size bed with a couch, writing deck/vanity with a really good makeup mirror. We choose this room because it is not situated below any high traffic area such as pool or restaurant. It was very quiet did not hear any disruptive sounds. Only down side was that the toilet had a constant Urine smell. The Lido buffet for lunch and Dinner had a variety of food. Always packed especially for breakfast (awesome breakfast)...although much of the lunch and dinner food was salty it was still enjoyable plus there was late night buffet fewer chooses in food but still good. The manhattan which is the preset time dining. Portion was small but filling quality better than Lido buffet. This is where Gala night was held. People got dressed up..I was disappointed as I expected It would be like when they would have captain night back in the days (no dancing just get dressed up for an upgraded Menu) The only change from any other night was that the menu chooses were upgraded..so they would have foods like lobster tails. Some people wore tuxedos and gowns but not necessary. A suit without tie or slacks and dress shirt for men and skirt and slacks and nice blouse for women would do. Pinnacle grill which is the premium dinning (extra cost) was waaaay better than all of the other foods we had on the ship. Service was excellent. There is a pizza bar by one of the pools and a burger and fries spot by the other pool. No shortage of where or what to eat on this ship. We didn't go to much of the entertainment that was offered..only to the live band that played all of the nights. They were just fantastic they had the crowd dancing. Overall the service on this ship was just phenomenal. Everywhere we went on the ship the staffs remembered our names. When the boat docked in Glacier bay we rented an Inside Cabana it cost US$50. We were treated like royalty by the attendant and we got great views of the glaciers. On port days we did only one excursion which was in Skagway..took a 3 hours tour over to the Yukon. Not to mislead but the tour bus stopped right at the welcome sign in the Yukon..so we were about an hour into the Yukon. There are a lot of bars on this boat..the bartenders do not cheapen out on the alcohol. They had happy hour at each bar and free snacks to go with your drinks during that time. We bought the Signature Beverage package which was 15 drinks per day per person, any drinks $9 and under. Drinks included alcoholic beverages, speciality coffees, water and sodas. We never went over our max. drinks..we had an average of 6 drinks per day (alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks) We never had room service as many of the items had surcharges not worth it. One mishap on our cruise that was annoying happened on the first day and took the entire 7 days to sort out. We took the ironing package. Which was US$28.75. Unlimited pressing for both myself and my husband. They ruined by husband's suit (pressed it with high heat) and ruined my linen blouse. We were reimbursed $50 only. They told us we have to contact Holland America's Head Office. My advice give them instructions on how to iron your garments. The gym was well equipped we worked out three of the days..we went early in the morning which left enough to time to go for breakfast at the Lido afterward. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
Joined this cruise at the end of a 10 day land tour of Canada (Toronto to Vancouver), frankly underwhelmed by the on board experience; Cabin (large outside - no verandah) was fine, Main dining was good, Gala nights less than ... Read More
Joined this cruise at the end of a 10 day land tour of Canada (Toronto to Vancouver), frankly underwhelmed by the on board experience; Cabin (large outside - no verandah) was fine, Main dining was good, Gala nights less than spectacular with no welcome drink or greeting by Captain, in fact food on Gala nights was the poorest of the week? Evening entertainment from the on board crew was decent, more than could be said for the guest acts both of which were poor. The day /night was saved by the excellent BB King show band. Day time activities, 4 sea days, were based around the SPA, Casino and Shops $$$$$ Overall did not get the feel good vibe from the staff, especially bar service, which we have on previous (Thomson and Cruise and Maritime) cruises. Booked speciality Tamarind restaurant for DW`s birthday, nice touch when fine meal was ended with a birthday cake and Happy Birthday to me? I suppose the thought was there. Read Less
Nieuw Amsterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.5 0.0
Public Rooms 4.5 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 4.5 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

Find a Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise