119 Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam Senior Cruise Reviews

This was our 19th cruise. We have been sailing on RCCL and Celebrity ships. We last sailed on HAL in 2006. At that time we walked into a cabin that had previously been occupied by heavy smokers. Despite attempts by our cabin steward, the ... Read More
This was our 19th cruise. We have been sailing on RCCL and Celebrity ships. We last sailed on HAL in 2006. At that time we walked into a cabin that had previously been occupied by heavy smokers. Despite attempts by our cabin steward, the stench was with us the entire trip. Not pleasant. I am happy to report that HAL's new no smoking policy is great. The cabin and genereal areas of the ship were free of smoking residue. Last year we sailed on the Allure of the Seas and I will make same comparisons during this review. EMBARKATION Embarkation was OK. They open the doors to the terminal at 11am, so do not get there any earlier. We unloaded our luggage, parked the car and was at the terminal a little after 11am. The line was out the door which could have been a problem if the weather was bad. Once inside, we picked up our key cards and was given an invitation to a Mariners only luncheon, and directed to a small waiting area to board the ship. This area was SRO and filled up quickly. Once they started to board the ship it went quickly. On board we were directed to the Lido buffet and no one seemed to know about our invitation. Finally, a crew member read the invitation and took us to the main dining room. CABIN We were in cabin 6123 which is across from the AFT elevators. This was a great location and we never heard the elevators. A little vibration at times. The room itself was typical of other cabins we have been in. Not much shelf space in the bathroom but good space in the desk area. Bedding was comfortable and the cabin was clean. There is a huge closet which held all of our clothes with ease. This area has one overhead light which makes it difficult to see items in the closet and the safe. As a suggestion bring a small LED flashlight. There was fresh fruit of your choice daily, and a post card of the ship that is an extra cost item on RCCL and Celebrity ships. The chairs on the veranda were comfortable. The two guys that took care of our cabin, Anom and Ibnu, were probably the best cabin stewards we ever experienced. DINING We had dinner and some lunches in the Manhattan Dining room. The first night was a disaster. Took 2+ houirs to get through dinner, beef came not cooked as requested, and some dishes were sent back. This was the only time we had problems and it got better. We thought the food was great in both variety and quality. Had breakfast in the Lido that was great. Plenty of variety and no problem finding a table. Only problem was that you got omlets at one station and had to go to another station for bacon which means the eggs got cold. We had dinner in Canallettos one night and it was good. The guy that gives out mints when you exit the dining room was missing most nights. This guy is a Holland America symbol and they should get him back. ENTERTAINMENT Shows were typical. Singers trying to exceed the range of their voices and corny choreography. No problem finding seats and you did not have to make a reservation 30 days prior to sailing like on RCCL ships. The Neptunes were a trio that played each night in the Ocean Bar,and they were great. One night a guy by the name of Jeff Burghart was the entertainment. He packed the Showroom and was very funny. PORTS Grand Turk was a zip. Not much there and expensive. San Juan and St.Maarten havn't changed in years. In St. Maarten there are a small group of vendors to the right after you get off the pier that sell T-shirts, etc that are reasonable. Half Moon Cay - Did not get off the ship. SERVICE The crew and staff were tops. HAL takes better care of their past customers than other lines. There was a Welcome Back lunch when we boarded, a Champagne lunch with the Captain during the cruise and a nice gift. I would recommend HAL and the Nieuw Amsterdam to anyone looking for a classic relaxing cruise without the zip-lines and rock climbing walls. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
Service was good in dining rooms, lounges and stateroom. The food was excellent, and the selections numerous. Holland American rarely disappoints me in this department. Our Superior Suite was nicely placed toward AFT, but I must ... Read More
Service was good in dining rooms, lounges and stateroom. The food was excellent, and the selections numerous. Holland American rarely disappoints me in this department. Our Superior Suite was nicely placed toward AFT, but I must remember to avoid Port side. Too many smokers on this cruise. And I thought HAL had initiated a ban on verandah smoking starting the first of the year? Our neighbors were chimneys! Our stateroom was roomy and our verandah, as well. I would have liked two loungers rather than a two plastic wicker chairs with ottomans. Our bathroom was large, double sinks, and whirlpool tub and shower separate. The closet space was adequate. I filled all the drawers, nooks and closets! The entertainment was usual. Good singing and dancing. To change up the venue, one night was a magician who was quite entertaining. A comedian/magician. "Diamond" is his last name. Very good show. I had hoped another type of entertaiment would have been presented. HAL has always been good about giving excellent variety in the nighttime shows. The Captains luncheon was nice. The collector tiles were not placed on the tables as have been in the past, and when we exited the dining room I did not see them anywhere. A couple days later I inquired at the information desk and was told they were set on a table for everyone to take. Didn't see it, nor were we pointed toward "this special" table to take our tiles. The information clerk was nice enough to find two for us to have. Usually we receive a discount booklet, but none came to our stateroom. For the first two days staff served us all our food and drinks in the Lido dining area. Just a precaution to make sure we do not get that cruise bug. We were surprised to see how worn and motley the carpets appeared, especially at the base of every staircase. Some of the display tables in the stores were in poor condition, also, with chipped veneer. And there was even rubbed off graffiti on our stateroom wall. Just wasn't expecting to see this on a ship still so new. We took one excursion on Grand Cayman. The Turtle Farm one, and it was nice. Our tour guide spoke with a very thick accent and rambled quickly. We understood very little what he said. We just walked the cruise port at Falmouth, Jamaica. A lovely port where the people were very happy to sell us. All smiles. I was most impressed that they all lined up at the pier to wave goodbye to the ship. A very welcoming place that we will definitely return to! The ship sailed smoothly through rough waters. The captain cancelled our stop off at Half Moon Cay at the start of the cruise. Very disappointed, but it was a safety issue with the rough seas. We have been to three Cruise Cays during our cruising years: Half Moon Cay, Princess Cay, and Coco Cay. Half Moon Cay is by far the best one - cleanest beaches, and stonefree shorelines. There was plenty of activity on the ship for all ages, but were disappointed that there were only two chances to play bingo. Embarkation procedure was a little slow, but the disembarkation went very fast and smooth. A nice ending to a short cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
We embarked the ship on 01/08/2012 after visited Orlando Universal on 01/06/2012. Drove back to Fort Lauderdale on 01/07 and stayed at Hyatt Place North for a night. We used the shuttle offered by the hotel ($7.00 a person). Embarking is a ... Read More
We embarked the ship on 01/08/2012 after visited Orlando Universal on 01/06/2012. Drove back to Fort Lauderdale on 01/07 and stayed at Hyatt Place North for a night. We used the shuttle offered by the hotel ($7.00 a person). Embarking is a breeze and we're on the ship by 11:30am. She is a beauty and easy to navigate even for a rookie like me. This is our first cruise with HAL, so I decided to book two inside cabins on deck 1. It was a quite spacious room but we're rarely in our stateroom. The ship is very clean but saw sign of wear and tear. I love the wraparound deck on deck 3 Promenade deck. I can easily find a lounge chair anytime on any deck. Most of the passengers are mature citizens and saw some kids on board. The staffs are friendly, polite and helpful. Our room steward and his assistant did very good job. We did "As you wish" dining and worked very well for us. We ate at main dining room (Manhattan Dining Room) for 3 nights and Canaletto Restaurant for 1 night and Lido for dinner. We ate at table 187 every night we ate at MDR because we received great service by wait staff.The ports of call are Grand Turk, San Juan, St Maarten and Half Moon Cay. I loved to visit HMC (who doesn't)! But I wish we went to HMC first instead of last port of call. MY DW and I had to clean up the sand and pack our wet swimming trunks and sandals on the last night. I didn't see any shows but my kids saw a few shows and they like the German juggler. We watch NFL playoff and BCS final games on big screen TV in one of the lounges. I enjoyed the Adagio string group. Debarking was chaotic and very disorderly. They're running late and many folks wanted to get off same time. We use HAL's "Land and Sea Excursion" and it was very informative and our guide Linva (it's not typo) from Wales was wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
After sailing the Zuiderdam earlier in the year, we just had to try a newer version of the C Class. Liked the ship and artworks altho is was much scaled down compared to previous cruises we have taken with HAL. I thought the atrium ran ... Read More
After sailing the Zuiderdam earlier in the year, we just had to try a newer version of the C Class. Liked the ship and artworks altho is was much scaled down compared to previous cruises we have taken with HAL. I thought the atrium ran up to the Observation deck, but was mistaken. Apparently, only Royal Carib has this feature. One which we really admire. Enfin, sailed with Capt. van Zanne before on the Amsterdam. He was very cordial and approachable, something we think is very important. The Tamarind restaurant, and silk room, midship were a favorite with us. For the price, service, ambiance, you get 5 stars. Take note, only the N. Amsterdam and the Eurodam have this service. General dining was so so at best, service at times slow and the food did not live up to our expectations. Lido food, not exceptional. There was always space and staff right on the ball. I dont see the necessity for the 48 hour rule with the latex gloves to serve foods as I observed those gloves making "the rounds" regardless. Change rooms by the spa and gym are always a bonus on these ships, however, I think most people believe they come at a cost, which is not so. Crafts were a limited commodity, and should be revived on sea days. Dance classes by staff were done way to fast for enthusiastic beginners. In fact, for those dancers on board, this cruise was terrible, dance floors were very small and the music was mediocre at best. Stage productions were some of the lousiest I have seen yet, the upside was that there were always seats available. My advice, if you want some peace and quiet, never cruise over the holiday season, leave that for family time and kids. Ports of call, warm sunny, cozumel, Mahogany Bay, Cayman, Tortola, St. Maarten, San Juan, Grand Turk, and enough time to stroll around and do whatever. If you decide to take this cruise, choose a cabin on the starboard side if you like afternoon sun and sunsets. She is a new ship and nicely appointed, but check out my observations before plunking down your deposit. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Transatlantic for 17 days. What should we expect. Good Food - yes, Lovely Ship - yes, Entertainment 24/7 - no, everybody satisfied - no, complainers - yes, theft or damage - never heard of this before on a cruise. I was on the ... Read More
Transatlantic for 17 days. What should we expect. Good Food - yes, Lovely Ship - yes, Entertainment 24/7 - no, everybody satisfied - no, complainers - yes, theft or damage - never heard of this before on a cruise. I was on the transatlantic crossing on the Nieuw Amsterdam Oct. 27-Nov 13/11. Never sailed Holland America before but had done a transatlantic going the other way, from Miami to Barcelona. My expectations are always small so I can enjoy whatever comes along, but it blows my mind when I see what some people think is rightly theirs because they "have paid for it". No consideration for the other 2000 people on board. It's all about me isn't it, but you can't let this spoil your trip. Yes, we had a long wait to get on the ship but you can't do anything about fog. We were in Venice for 3 days prior to getting on the 17 day transatlantic, had a wonderful time in the rain, with 7 inch deep water in St. Mark's Square, watching people with bags over their shoes to keep them dry and seeing how the Venetians have to cope with this all the time. They actually put platforms all around the flooded parts and you walk from platform to platform until a dryer part appears. All the merchants just go along like it happens all the time, and it probably does. We took a Vaporetto (which we had bought a 3 day pass) to Piazzale Roma and got the people mover for 1 Euro to the ship's terminal, very easy with our luggage. Rick Steves' book is a great source for all info on Venice. Once we got on board our room was ready so we were able to take our carry ons and free us up to go for lunch in the lido. I thought compared to other lunchtime embarkments, the lido was very civilized. We were able to get a table right away. Our luggage came in a timely manner and unpacked for our 17 day journey. Cabin We happened to get a handicapped room on the 1st deck, because we needed to accommodate 3 people and that was the only one left. It was a little larger and a larger shower, we liked it very much. It had a King Bed and a chair that pulled down to a single, very comfortable. Service Wonderful. Best service we have ever had on a ship. Broke my shoe and our room steward took it and had it fixed, free of charge, a lifesaver when it was the only formal pair I had with me. Anything we asked for (and we don't ask for much) was done with a smile. Our dinner waiters were personable and helpful with our needs. Food Excellent food. So good it was hard not to order two different appetizers/desserts. I will say the lido is excellent for breakfast and lunch but was a little disappointed the night we went there for dinner. Sometimes we just don't feel like spending 2 hours eating dinner and I just don't find the lido steps up to the plate. The night we went it looked and tasted like the food had been warming on the trays for about 1 hour. The duck was very dried out and the breading on the shrimp was not crisp. The breakfast/lunch buffets seem to be better than the dinner for some reason. Maybe because they don't have as many people eating then, the food stays on the trays longer. So you have to make your choices, timeframe or better food I guess. Entertainment Everyone has their likes and dislikes. Could some of the shows be better, maybe, but you were entertained for an hour every night, free of charge. Make the most of it. Excursions We have never taken outside excursions before because I was always nervous about getting back on the ship on time, but the excursions were so expensive on the ship I decided we would have to go outside or not go at all, and we had come too far to miss touring the wonderful places we were stopping. Thank you Cruise Critic for all your wonderful information about excursion companies. I had researched on here for two months before we travelled because we wanted the best trip we could afford. Dubrovnik, Crotia Went on our own for the day. Took the shuttle to town and enjoyed very much. Corfu, Greece We used Corfutaxiprivatetours in Corfu and Christos was our guide. We left it up to him where he took us and enjoyed all of it. Took us to the top of the mountain, right down to the bottom. Took us to a little town of 500 and bought some local wine, and they had bread with olive oil and oregano for us, it was delicious and a small taste of wine. Highly recommend this excursion. Taormina/Messina, Sicily, Italy We were supposed to go to Taormina but the captain said there was a bike race going on and the streets were all closed, so we were going to Messina. Our first thoughts were great, our excursion is set for Taormina, I guess we are on our own. I emailed Sicily Tours telling them we wouldn't be going to Taormina and he emailed me back, don't worry I will pick you up in Messina, it happens all the time. Terrific! Ignazio was waiting for us and he drove us back to Taormina (45 minutes away), terrific service. He took us to a tourist area that had about a 2 klm walk down a street covered with shops, restaurants, etc. Lovely. Bought the best gelato in Italy so we were told, delicious, and then he took us back to Messina and showed us a town clock that at 12:00 noon every day a lion, rooster and people move on this tower, all painted in gold with music playing. Spectacular. Lasts about 10 minutes. The square is full of people watching this. Rome The first thing to say about Rome. Buy your Coliseum and Vatican tickets on line before you go. There was a 3 hour wait for the Vatican and a long line for the Coliseum as well. We were told to buy them ahead by RomeInLimo and we just walked in through the doors when we arrived. What a relief that was, when you only have a day to see Rome. RomeInLimo was our excursion choice as suggested by CC and they were wonderful. Our driver was Franco and he more or less took us to what he thought was the best places. Dropped us off at the entrance to everything, even helped us to the right entrance at the Vatican and Coliseum and we just walked in. Made all the difference in the world. Even had water in the car for us to drink. I talked to someone on the ship afterward and they took the ship tour for a 12 hour tour and they said it was horrendous. They lined up for Vatican tickets for 3 hours in the sun with no water and they were all getting desperate. The bus dropped them off and they had to meet it at a certain time and place, and there is so much walking in Rome, the people were exhausted and were not allowed to stay on the bus if they wanted to, they had to get off. So be careful you know what is best for you. All the excursion operators get you back to the ship at least 1 hour before the ship is leaving, so you don't worry about missing it. Cadiz, Spain We have been to Cadiz before so we stayed on the ship that day, threat of rain. Madeira, Portugal We had to miss Madeira because of high seas and winds and the ship's captain couldn't go fast enough to get there on time. We only stopped to let off sick passengers and the entertainment that had to go to another ship and we left again, probably 1-1/2 hours total around 5:00 pm. Cruise Director I thought he was great. Wasn't in your face all the time and informed you when he needed to. Always pleasant with a smile on his face and saw him around the ship more than any other CD. Sea Days I know people like to be entertained, and I realize 17 days is a long time to be on a ship, and longer if you caught the tour before us), and I know 7 days of sea days in a row is a lot of sea days, but what should a ship do about that. I didn't particularly join many of the activities on the ship (my choice), but they had trivia almost every day, lectures every day, bingo every day, free computer courses every day, "chats" every day with people working on the ship, towel animal making, flower arranging, bridge, games, cards scheduled most days, even free lessens in bridge and I could go on. Just because these aren't the things you enjoy, I don't think it is fair to say there is nothing to do on the ship. They had an excellent library selection, the best I have seen, they had a really nice area where you could sit and read with views of the ocean on two sides with comfortable chairs. Don't pay $800 - $1,000. for a 17 day cruise and expect to be caudled every minute of the day. The itinerary was the best I could find on the transatlantics, Venice, Rome, Sicily, Greece, Spain, Portugal, isn't that good enough; beautiful ship and an experienced Captain that kept us safe. He not only had a huge storm off of Spain, he had two tropical storms developing in the south Atlantic as well to keep an eye on. It is hurricane season until the end of November, so not unexpected. I don't think you can ask for more. We cannot control the weather. Our seas were fairly rough the whole crossing and the weather was mostly cloudy, but you can't do anything about that. When we travelled in April on our transatlantic, we were going from Florida to Spain and the seas were very calm, but that isn't to say the next time we could be averting a storm, luck of the draw. Damage on the Ship I have never heard of this happening before. I can't imagine people can be so low, but unfortunately times are a changin'. Let's hope this doesn't happen again. I thoroughly enjoyed our crossing. I don't like rough waves either, but am I going to stop cruising, not likely. Thank you Holland America for a wonderful vacation. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
My wife and I were on the July 15 sailing from Barcelona. The pick up from the airport was normal with no issues. After that it was up and down. As stated in other reviews the serving size in the buffet was small, however the staff freely ... Read More
My wife and I were on the July 15 sailing from Barcelona. The pick up from the airport was normal with no issues. After that it was up and down. As stated in other reviews the serving size in the buffet was small, however the staff freely added more when requested. In fact there was one young lady at breakfast that just put extra on after the first couple of days of seeing me. I was extremely disappointed with table service in the buffet. I have never been on a cruise where the staff had to be told to pick up used plates. It appears that management was more concerned with selling bottled water than keeping tables clean and available. Service in the main dining room was spotty as best. We had open seating and only had one waiter that performed as expected. We had to ask for refills on ice tea and water. I had a steak on surf & turf night that they got right, but they never got the steak right on the three nights my wife ordered. What they did to fish can't even be described. Other ship have venues where food is available 24/7 with out having to call room service. I was surprised that there was no available food service during all the daylight hours. Service in the dining areas can be easily improved with better training and raising expectations. Hopefully they really read the on-board reviews from the passengers. Our cabin steward was excellent, we gave him a little extra at the end of the trip. The transfer to the Venice airport was relatively smooth I felt ripped off by the price when I saw how close it was. No tips to the driver at those prices. The ship it self was nicely laid out and my wife really liked the decor. Will I sail Holland again? Not sure. I will absolutely pay closer attention to passenger reviews. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We thoroughly enjoyed our NA/Eastern Med cruise which started in Venice 28th July 2011. We were an Australian couple in our 60s with no connection to other guests. We did not reserve any dinner sittings and discovered that as a ... Read More
We thoroughly enjoyed our NA/Eastern Med cruise which started in Venice 28th July 2011. We were an Australian couple in our 60s with no connection to other guests. We did not reserve any dinner sittings and discovered that as a "2" you were seated almost immediately if you were happy to sit with other people. The one time we requested separate seating, it took 10 minutes. When we used the dining room for lunch, we were seated immediately. But note that we were "2" and not "4". The "600" group were in set seating in the top half of the restaurant and had no obvious effect. We also received 3 special invitations to brunch/lunch etc meals - as a return Mariner, as a member of the (British) Commonwealth and as an Aussie/Kiwi. We normally ordered breakfast in the room. It always arrived on time and carried on the HAL tradition of never being quite as we ordered! The main course was right but a juice/toast was almost always left out/doubled up. We actually consider this idiosyncrasy a cruise plus! Differently to "LilyBob", we used a mix of independent and HAL touring. We arrived in Venice a day early and so showed up to board (dragging luggage) at 11:30am. We could see the ship, but had 2 attempts at finding the luggage checkin (Venice 117 is not set up as well as 107). In the ports where we did not take tours, we depended on some previous research, but foolishly relied on the last minute advice and map presented by the ship's Tour Consultant. At 3 key places the map was wrong, the advice was partial or wrong - or some mix. I have a gripe that HAL tends to treat those who don't book HAL excursions, a bit like "lepers". Ot the "saved" and the others. Once our consultant had eventually stopped selling the HAL tours, he provided some info on getting around in say, Athens, Istanbul or Santorini by yourself. There was a taxi strike in Greece. The ship docked in Piraeus for Athens. He said that it was about half an hour's walk to the station/metro and that the stop in Athens to alight at was "Monst.....akos" and that the fare was several Euros. The walk in blistering heat to the station (very hard to find - no signs) took an hour. The train did NOT stop at the Athens station - that platform/track was being rebuilt (for several months past and future) and it shot through to the next - which was not on the HAL supplied map! We missed the announcements in Greek and Gr/English. We survived, found the Acropolis, got to it in spite of it's custodians, took our pictures, descended, ate, shopped and returned to Piraeus, where we just managed to trudge back to the ship. Key incorrect information (and not recent changes) and the need for the ship to organize transport - even with charge - to/from Piraeus station to ship. We expected something similar in Istanbul. Here there was a ship to centre shuttle, but a key site - the underground cisterns - were incorrectly labelled on the ship's map - we never found them. Istanbul really needs more visit time. It does not help that its Tourism authority need a shake up with signage - including translation - some Turkish names can be deduced but the one for "underground cisterns" cannot. Even the name used for Topkapi palace outside of Haghia Sophia - does not include word Topkapi. The other frustration was that the New Palace (D....) was in sight but no information or even tour was supplied. Finally in Santorini, all the horror stories of the cable car being jammed up were repeated. It was then hinted that there would be less ships but when we arrived, we were the ONLY larges ship that day. The cable car was freely available and Thera was uncrowded. This section on the NA (HAL?) needs a shake up. But none of these tour hassles effected our cruise enjoyment to any real extent. We would thoroughly recommend this trip on HAL to all. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We booked this cruise on our last HA cruise taken in the summer of 2010. At the time, we were told we'd never see a better price. So we booked a balcony cabin for about $3000 each. The least expensive suites were, I believe, around ... Read More
We booked this cruise on our last HA cruise taken in the summer of 2010. At the time, we were told we'd never see a better price. So we booked a balcony cabin for about $3000 each. The least expensive suites were, I believe, around $3700 each. AFTER we were locked in by making our final payment, they lowered the suite price to $3000 and balcony to $1800!!! I called HA. They told me to call my agent. My agent said they'd upgrade us to a suite for $3000. When I pointed out that HA lied to me last summer, she called them again. The result: a $50 credit. Big deal. One of my pet peeves is being lied to. So guess I started the cruise with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. This review might reflect that a bit. We embarked in Barcelona. Very quick process. (NOTE: AFTER you go through security with your carry on luggage, there is a duty free shop. The liquor in that shop was about 1/3 the price of that which I'd ordered through HA and had delivered to the cabin. And you can carry it onboard as you've already been through security screening (no x-ray machine). There were a number of evidences of cost cutting; for example, the quality of the food. This was our 4th HA cruise. Our first was 4 or 5 years ago. The quality of the food had steadily declined. Examples: the pizza (which I often used to get to have for a quick dinner on occasion to sit on our balcony to watch the sunset) was inedible. The ice-cream tasted like whipped ice-milk of the least expensive variety. The first, tenth & eleventh evening meals were good -- not excellent but very good. The rest were cafeteria quality. Very disappointing. One other disappointment: the baked Alaska celebration was (as usual) planned for the last evening. However, we were in Venice on the last evening and almost everyone stayed in the town. (The information guide recommended this -- stating that most of the day tourists left and the city became much less crowded and more enjoyable.) IMHO, the baked Alaska should have been served the night before. (IMHO, this was poor planning in the part of HA.) One more comment on the food: definitely try the Tamarind Restaurant. The food is cooked to order. If you don't want it with hot spices, or bean sprouts, they'll make it to your preference. Also, the service there is among the best we've ever received in any restaurant. One more on food: Vegetarians must come to the dining room in the morning to select their food from a very limited, non-changing menu. Why they can not allow them to order the prior evening is beyond my comprehension. The ship itself is nice, though not much different in layout, size, etc. than other HA ships of its class. The Tamarind was a nice addition. The cabanas seemed like they were mostly unused. The cruise director was the best of any HA cruise we've taken. He had put together a VERY good set of evening shows in the main theater -- with the exception of the dancers (who seemed like first year dancing students and detracted from the rest of the show). Fortunately, the shows were centered around a group of 4 male and 2 female singers, 5 of whom were fantastic, the last very good. The piano bar player/singer, the guitarist, & other musicians (other than the classical music group, we mediocre. This might be because it was a port intensive cruise and people didn't care much, or it might be because the 6 singers mentioned above used up more than the usual budget. OR, it might be another example of HA's cost cutting. One of the best persons on the ship (besides our stateroom attendant -- Manta, the BEST ever -- was Tom. He was not the person in charge of selling you excursions. He'd mention the shops. But more importantly, in his talks he'd tell you what to do if you didn't want to take an excursion. For example, we'd been to Florence and didn't want to take a whirlwind bus tour. We just wanted to get from the port to Florence. (It's about a 75 minute ride.) So when I went down to talk with Tom (He's very available) he handed me a sheet with all the details of how to catch the train to Florence and back. For my wife and I it cost about 35-40% of what an excursion would have cost and we didn't have to be crammed in a bus with 50 others and marched around like ants following a guide. Debarkation in Venice. If you're staying over in EU on your own and traveling by train, HA does a TERRIBLE job of helping you get to the train station. We spoke with a HA rep in the baggage area who suggested taking a water taxi (euro 100). When I balked at that, she finally remembered that HA can transfer your luggage for euro 5 per bag to the train station. However, one bag was full of valuable electronics, the other medicine and jewelry. (Both were 21" roll ons and heavy) There was no way I was going to check those. So we checked the two with luggage, and had to lug our 21" bags to the people carrier, then to the train station which requires lugging your carriage about 80 yards across a bridge with steps -- no ramps for luggage!!! By the time we reached the train station (more steps -- no ramps), we were exhausted and my shirt was soaking wet with perspiration. IMHO, HAL should arrange easier transfer for those going to the train station. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
The Nieuw Amsterdam is brand new and classy. The Lido restaurant sets itself apart from the buffet restaurant of other lines - orchids on the table and table cloths at night. The Personal Computer classes and the culinary center were ... Read More
The Nieuw Amsterdam is brand new and classy. The Lido restaurant sets itself apart from the buffet restaurant of other lines - orchids on the table and table cloths at night. The Personal Computer classes and the culinary center were great, conducted by two competent and friendly individuals Ryan and Ashley. The cruise director Gene Young and the HAL performers were wonderful These instructors and the entertainment staff impressed upon the passengers that they genuinely love their jobs. Their enthusiasm enhanced a warm friendly atmosphere for the sailing - especially with a long stretch of 7 days. Salute to HAL for a great crew.       The food was good with great presentation. The soup is on the "salty side" to me, may not be for others. For a few nights, the fish was not at its best. Otherwise, there is a lot of variety and HAL lives up to its reputation.       HAL provided a travel expert with specific hours to answer questions. He was also available at shore sides too. Check the daily newsletter for specific times. This arrangement was in addition to scheduled port talk or presentations in the theatre. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Cruise number 8 for us. Went with a group of 5 on this trip. 2 couples and 1 single all over 60. Three cabins and the single didn't get a break on the VE cat cabin. Left Chicago Saturday, a day early to FLL on Southwest. ... Read More
Cruise number 8 for us. Went with a group of 5 on this trip. 2 couples and 1 single all over 60. Three cabins and the single didn't get a break on the VE cat cabin. Left Chicago Saturday, a day early to FLL on Southwest. Airfare to Florida in February can be all over the map. We all paid different rates for the trip. I booked the earliest and got the best fare. Stayed at Comfort Suites at 1800 Rt 1 which we've stayed at before. It's getting a little run down and the air wasn't working so good. Next time I'm trying someplace else. They picked us up at the airport for free. After we got settled about 4PM my wives "Casino Radar" went into alarm state and we found ourselves headed for the Hard Rock Casino/Hotel. If I would have known we were going all the way back past the airport I would have found a hotel more centrally located. We spent $120 round trip cab to the casino. Nice place, BIG. We signed up for a casino players card which got us some free play and I actually wound up winning $100. We had dinner there. I mentioned as we were signing up that we will be on their mailing list and might even be able to book a room there next trip at a reduced rate and that we would probably have something in the mail from them when we got home. Guess what was waiting for us when we got home. LOL. Then back to the hotel. Shuttle to the boat was $5 each and there were three of us. In stead of the shuttle, I walked out to Rt 1 and flagged down a cab. The cab to the ship was $16 so I gave him $20 and we didn't have to wait for anybody or fool around. Got to dock #26 about 11:00 and were checked in and went to the holding room with our group number 3. About 10 minutes after we arrived they started calling in the groups and were we aboard after about 30 mins. We skipped the Dining room lunch and went to the Sea View bar aft. That is in the back of the boat for you first timers. This is our third HAL cruise and the ships are all laid out the same. Lunch was being served and so were drinks. Drinks: Bucket of beer at Sea View bar 5 for the price of 4. I took three cans back to the cabin. Drink cards $90 for $100 value. Works like a debit card. Do not buy them until you get on the ship. At home they charge you your State sales tax. On board no tax. You can buy a card at any time so get one, use it up, then another. You can't use them to buy the drink of the day which is already discounted. Don't get one near the end unless you're sure you will use it all. We brought 6 bottles of GOOD wine for our group. Wine on board is priced high for some reason. $18 corkage fee which we paid for wine used in any area outside of your cabin. You can mark your bottle and drop it at the MDR at any time. We had a bottle of champagne there on ice and they will get your bottle and bring it to you even if you go to the Pinnacle Grill. If you don't finish it they store it. Retrieve it, move it. Food: Had fixed late seating at a table for 8. Ate with a family of 3 from Rhode Island. I usually like HALS food but they are slipping. Most of the meat was overcooked. Had a pork chop, that should be hard to screw up but it was overdone. Nothing exciting to discuss except the Lobster was great. NOTE: Remember that the last sea day is a formal night, and is usually a Friday, and is surf and turf. I ordered lobster only and got two. Maybe they were 6 oz.?? Rhode Island folks went to Tamirand twice and loved it. We skipped it. We went to Pinnacle one night, I had a great steak. Dinner took a little longer than expected. Couldn't get into Catalina's because we waited too long to make up our minds to try it. Looks like standard Italian fare which is good for a change. They have a section of the Lido Buffet area somewhat blocked off with screens that they use. White tablecloths in the Lido for dinner every night. I think they lowered the lights a little. Poolside food: Sea view bar has Pizza station. I still like Princess Pizza best. Lido pool bar has burger, hotdog etc. bar which is midships. NOTE: We were at a table for 8 and on day two we had a ships officer guest. He was the health and safety officer and had dinner with us. This was the first time we had the honor but there are two things to keep in mind. When you have a guest officer, the ship buys the wine. Your chances of a guest are best at a table for 8 or more. PORTS: San Juan. Walked up to the fort. Yes it's uphill both ways. Did the tour, couldn't get on the free shuttle. Wife said I could only have one fort, so choose wisely grasshopper. Some shopping of course, had lunch and walked back. St. Marteen. 6 ships in port estimated 20,000 people. Walked off ship to cab stand, found a dispatcher booked a tour for $30 PP as you will see online if you look up st. marten cabs. Got the tour, saw the clothing optional beach. Went to the airfield where the jets blast everybody, saw that. Stop for shopping and a beer. And back. Nice tour, well worth it. Grand Turk. Third time here. Stayed at Margaritaville twice so we decided to try something else. We rented two golf carts from Nathan for $80 per cart. You pick them up just past the dock parking entrance. They are right side US drive carts on left side drive roads. So the driver is sitting on the shoulder of the road. Good thing you only go 15 MPH. I got on the wrong side twice. The whole thing was funny because as another CC'r put it, there is really nothing to see on the island. I printed my own map and they also give you a fuzzy one. The whole place is 7 miles long and 1.5 miles wide so getting lost is hard. We stopped at the clock tower, made a right at the church, drove out to the light house and governors beach on the way back. The whole thing was about three hours. Saw lots of roaming cattle and donkeys and the highlight was an overturned stripped car in a field. We stopped for gas at one of only two I saw. Put a whole 1.5 gallons of gas in each. We were back having a margarita by 1:30. Half Moon Key. Some people love it others don't. Clamshells for rent. Cabana's for rent. A bar, a beach, a BBQ buffet. Activities etc. I'm not a beach type so I went to look around and went back to the ship. This hour and a half is where I got a sunburn. The ship is very quiet so I did some swimming and reading by the pool. Not much to report. The SHIP: We had a VB cabin, about the same as on the Westerdam. There is no medicine cabinet. The power plug in the bathroom is overhead in the light. The soap and shampoo dispensers are in the tub. Liked that. There are two outlets on the dressing table. The lighting for the dressing table and the closets is poor. The closets have shelves in them that fold up to allow more hanging. Plenty of room. Your bed has a ships speaker built into the headboard. It was used only twice but will blow you out off bed on the last day. You have to use a card to turn on the lights. A booze card will work. All the seats and chairs were in great shape. Nice firm cushions. Nice bed also. The elevators seemed quicker than on other ships. Day of the week rugs in the elevators. The ship was beautiful. CREW: Let me state that we are service industry background tippers. Room steward was on top of everything. Saw him almost everyday. Is everything alright? Left him a $20. MDR waiters were also great. Tipped them. The sommelier, we ran him around. I know he gets a tip for every drink but I gave him extra on this trip. I had an old style "straight up" martini at the Ocean Bar on the Prominade deck one night. Vodka, extra dry. He iced my glass while mixing, he wet the shaker with vermouth then drained it, he shook the vodka over ice, let it sit for a few seconds, and poured the perfect drink. When we travel as a group we usually have a designated bar to meet at before dinner. I've started to give the bartender a little something extra the first or second night out. There are no restrictors on the pourers. The whole crew was great. Every time you turned around they were cleaning every inch of the place. Even the public restrooms were hovered over. It seemed everywhere you looked you would see the waiter Boozee. Final tip. The slot machine right in front of the Caribeen Stud table with the geese was paying off. We took late departure and were called about 9:30. I had reserved a rental car at the airport so we took a cab over. Another $20 and stayed another three days with friends. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
We recently returned from the eastern Caribbean cruise aboard HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam which sailed from Ft. Lauderdale January 23rd for seven nights. I would like to offer my comments about this vacation trip. For the record; we have ... Read More
We recently returned from the eastern Caribbean cruise aboard HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam which sailed from Ft. Lauderdale January 23rd for seven nights. I would like to offer my comments about this vacation trip. For the record; we have cruised approximately 14 times in the past on several cruise lines, mostly on medium sized ships such as the Nieuw Amsterdam. These cruises have included various destinations around the world, including a transatlantic trip. We had sailed once before with HAL on the Noordam in 2010 and loved it. We have always elected a verandah stateroom or mini suite as our accommodation, and spend a lot of time on the verandah for activities such as coffee and juice early in the A.M., reading, relaxing, socializing with the group that we generally cruise with, and taking photographs of scenery, ports etc. (I consider myself an advanced amateur photographer.) Just to be fair to HAL, we had originally booked a 14 night back to back cruise departing earlier in January, but reduced it to a seven day cruise to be in synch with our cruising group, who booked the seven night cruise. We had changed these accommodations at least five months before the cruise, and were assured that we would receive the same cabin class (superior verandah) that we had originally booked. I began to get suspicious when we were not given a room assignment until around 2 weeks before embarkation. Our travel agent had been checking with HAL and assured us that there would be no problem. Finally, we received an email from HAL allocating us a VQ stateroom on Deck 11. On the internet, it appeared to be a Spa stateroom with a verandah, but I called HAL just to confirm, because Deck 11 was a little isolated with only 10 similar rooms on that deck. The first person we talked to said that the verandahs on deck 11 were only "viewing verandahs" and didn't have room for seating etc. When I called our travel agent to complain, she also called HAL and was told that on the Nieuw Amsterdam, the Spa VQ verandahs were standard size, and not to worry! I also called and was told the same when I gave the agent our cabin number. She even asked me to hold while she confirmed that fact with her supervisor, who did indeed confirm a "regular" verandah. When we finally boarded, we found the VQ room to be fine, but the verandah on deck 11 was much smaller that other verandahs on the ship, or the VD cabin we had originally booked. Our cruise mates who were in VD rooms confirmed this observation. The two small chairs and tiny table barely fit. If you sat in a chair facing the water, your feet were practically in the drain gutter at the front of the verandah. Needless to say, we did not spend a great deal of time on our verandah and missed out on one of the prime reasons we cruise. When we registered a complaint at customer service, we were told that "you got what you paid for" and the ship was full. Technically, the service representative was legally correct, as with all the legal disclaimers in the contract, we probably could have been put up in a storage bin! My beef with HAL is that even after inquiring, we were misled about the balcony, and we could have been told when we changed our arrangements months before that we could wind up in such a cabin. I would caution anyone getting a cabin on Deck 11 to check with HAL about the verandah size before accepting a reservation there. Deck 11 otherwise is a neat location, being somewhat isolated but containing the Explorers Cafe and Crows Nest, one of our favorite places on the ship. Having been rather critical so far, I think in fairness to HAL (I wish they were as fair to me,) I should state that: The entire crew and staff including those in the cabin areas, food locations, venues etc. were all above excellent and helpful. The food and service in the main dining hall and Pinacle Grill was excellent. The food in the buffet areas was quite satisfactory. The ship itself was very elegant and ergonomically laid out. If it weren't for our verandah issue, we would have had a great time. Unfortunately, the cruise left us with memories of a poor experience, and a negative opinion about HAL. We did mention these complaints in out exiting comments document, but we have yet to hear from HAL. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
The purpose of the cruise appeared to be selling everything: alcohol, jewelry, clothing, dining rooms, cabanas, art, and casinos. Free services such as the library kept very limited hours even on the "at sea" days when it would ... Read More
The purpose of the cruise appeared to be selling everything: alcohol, jewelry, clothing, dining rooms, cabanas, art, and casinos. Free services such as the library kept very limited hours even on the "at sea" days when it would have been convenient to use them. The ship has an extensive and interesting art collection, and I would have loved to have taken the iPod tour but could never make it to the library to check it out. The ship's public areas were kept clean, and I swear that I heard a vacuum cleaner in our hallway at 3:30 am! The staff "simonized" (their word) the handrails on the stairs frequently so that the railings were either wet or left a sticky residue on one's hands. The fitness center had broken equipment which should have been repaired. All the personnel were very pleasant and helpful. It was reassuring to see the assistance available to those with mobility impairments. Walkers, electric scooters and wheelchairs were common sights as were manual wheelchairs assited by staff. We were notified that a GI virus had affected both guests and crew. Purell dispensers were all around the ship staffed by crew to make sure that we used them. Each guest room also had a bottle of Purell. I heard from guests who had been ill that they had received wonderful care from the medical staff. Food service was generally very good. The main dining room, The Manhattan, was very large, noisy, and very bright and glitzy; conversation was difficult. The menu selections were excellent with two vegetarian and one fish option as well as red meat and poultry; although the beef was the least well-prepared item, often dry and tasteless. The main buffet in The Lido often ran out of popular items: broccoli at lunch on the first day and bread pudding for dessert almost every day. The two sides of the buffet offered differing items under the same general headings so one had circle the dining room before making a selection. Several other dining rooms were available at an extra charge of $20-$30 per person. In-room dining offered a more restricted menu but was adequate and came at the requested times. Two formal dinners seemed excessive especially since the menu was no different than on other nights and the service was slower and less efficient due to the number of diners in the main dining room that night. Our cabin was adequate but not roomy. It provided enough storage space with plenty of hangers and excellent lighting. The bathroom had additional shelf space as well as a retractable clothesline which we appreciated. The towels were extra large and fluffy, but we had to request clean towels each time as there was really nowhere to hang the bath towels to dry between uses. Even though the ship was only 6 months old, there were small details that hadn't been attended to. The sink drain did not work. The cabin steward attempted to fix it by tying it to the lever arm so that it didn't open or close. The front desk had to be contacted to get a better repair. The tub didn't drain when showering, and one showered in water up to the ankles. We were told this was because of the motion of the ship. There was also a hint of mold where the walls met the tub, evidence of not-too thorough cleaning. Shore excursions were purchased through HAL since we had never been to this region before. We wanted to learn about the area, culture, and history, and they did provide that. Some drivers were more knowledgeable than others. On all of the excursions the drivers served as the tour guides, having to focus their attention on the roads as well as the sites. We felt that the HAL website and phone center staff did not provide as much information as they could have to help first time ocean cruisers such as us. I understand that the ship has a tight turn-around time at the end of the cruise. They gave us a late disembarkation time and then proceeded to make up the room while we were still packing up, just moved our stuff out of their way! Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
This is a review of the Collectors' Voyage HAL Nieuw Amsterdam Jan. 2-16, 2011 This was a cruise to the Eastern & Western Caribbean Nieuw Amsterdam Decks 11; Guest Elevators 14; Public Rooms 24; Guests 2104; Crew ... Read More
This is a review of the Collectors' Voyage HAL Nieuw Amsterdam Jan. 2-16, 2011 This was a cruise to the Eastern & Western Caribbean Nieuw Amsterdam Decks 11; Guest Elevators 14; Public Rooms 24; Guests 2104; Crew 800; Gross Tonnage 86,000; Length 936'; Width 105.8'; Draft 26' Built 2008; Bow Thrust 3 units, 3400 bhp; Props Azipods; Engines 6 diesel; Max Speed 23.9 knots; Leaving Boston We had a 1'+ snowstorm on Sun. 12/26 - Mon. 12/27 and although it was not much for Boston, apparently the Southern states got more than they're used to. So my flight on 12/30 from Boston - Raleigh - Ft Lauderdale was cancelled. It was replaced with a direct flight on 12/31. I called Holiday Inn and they reluctantly (although it was good for me) cancelled my 12/30 reservation leaving me with 12/31 & 1/1. After a 1 hr wait to get to Jet Blue check-in (there was a rather long line due to the snow storm and airline cancellations) plus a 1 hr flight delay, flight #435 finally took off and we arrived in FLL about 1:45pm. How I Came About To Take This Cruise: On an HAL cruise to the Caribbean in Nov 2009, I purchased a future cruise & asked the consultant when was the less expensive time to cruise; he replied right after the holidays. When I booked this cruise with the rep at HAL, she was surprised how inexpensive this b2b was. I booked an Oceanview because I was travelling alone and really did not need much space. I chose an Oceanview over an Inside because I wanted a window. I have had a balcony in the past but really did not use it. This was the first time I was on the Main Deck, so low in the ship; great for foul weather but the Caribbean in January? Making Plane & Hotel Reservations: Usually I make these about 6 months in advance. My round trip from Boston to FLL was via Jet Blue. In FLL I usually stay at the Holiday Inn Convention Center on 1500 SE Causeway because of its location near the cruise port and malls. After the cruise I usually stay at the Ramada Inn on SR84 Marina Mile Blvd because of the pickup/delivery to/from the cruise port and airport. Trouble with the Ramada is there are no malls nearby; it is nice, though for just 1 night. I got the impression that the Nieuw Amsterdam had not yet been discovered as it was not crowded (even though this cruise was sold out, so I was told). Elevators: Floor mats are changed every day to remind you of the day of the week. I overheard one person say "I'm not that drunk". The center elevators have windows to view the sea. Laundry: There are no laundry facilities but you can wash in your room & dry in the shower/tub area. Food & Sanitation: Instead of delaying boarding or boarding but have passengers go to the Lido, HAL seems to have gotten around this. You are boarded but for the first few days, at least on the Nieuw Amsterdam, the wait staff serves drinks & one is forbidden to handle the food in the Lido Dining Room. A few days into the cruise it was announced at the evening's performance in Showtime that passengers would be allowed to serve themselves. This occurred on both legs of the cruise. Embarkation: I thought this went rather smoothly, was in my cabin unpacking in less than 1 hour (I packed light this time).There really was not a line at all outside. Inside there was but it kept moving. Probably the best time to check in is 4pm when they are about to have the muster drill. The reason I delayed my embarkation until noon was that 3 previous cruises resulted in delays due to a virus; in all 3 cruises the delay was due to the crew was cleaning the ships. Stateroom: Cabin 1128 was located on the Port side all the way aft; the engine noise, if there was any, did not bother me. My cabin attendants were Ida Alit & Susi Pantayo (both males). Bathrobes were provided but I asked Alit about slippers. He told me they are reserved for elite cruisers but his manager was kind enough to provide some to me. Alit told me he is expecting a child in Feb and he will be at sea then. Your cabin key is inserted to a device that operates the cabin electricity; when removed the electricity is off. Several times I looked for my cabin key forgetting it was in this device; it takes some getting used to. The advantage of a cabin in the aft (over the engine) is exercise; you certainly get enough. I thought that having a cabin to the aft part of ship on the Main Deck would be a disadvantage but such was not the case. Although the ship was new there were a few things wrong with the cabin; the bedroom mirror was broken & off its hinge; the lever at the top of the door was not connected. During my 2 wk stay, however, the door was fixed (much to my surprise). For wk 1 I got an HAL tote bag; for wk 2, a Mariner Society tote bag. The only bad thing that happened with the cabin, the bathroom floor drain backed up but this was due to 50-60 knot winds at night from the starboard side of the ship; and I was on the port side. Passengers: There were people from Canada, Europe and Australia to name a few. Many children were on board also. On this cruise there were about 400 children on the 1st leg & about 50 on the 2nd leg. Complaints: I've heard people complain about the ship, that it is new & supposed to be the best or that it is not as good as other lines with bigger ships. They also complain about the food not being as good as other HAL ships. The NA is new and not all the bugs are worked out. Other complaints were that you are not getting this or that. Bottom line is that the cruise lines have cut back & we as cruisers have to watch our spending more. Tipping: HAL deducts $11 per day for hotel service charge; when I asked what the $11 was for, the reply was tipping. The cruise lines do not tell you that this charge is optional; buyer be aware. Specialty Restaurants: I am not a connoisseur of food, do not enjoy waiting at a fancy restaurant, can't tell the difference between good food versus better food, & am not willing to pay the difference in price so did not try the pricy restaurants just because the food is supposed to be better. I ate at the restaurants that were free; besides the food is about the same anyway. Food: I mentioned above the delay in boarding the ship because of past experience. HAL is still having trouble and beverages in the Lido Restaurant were served by HAL personnel for the 1st few days. Several days into the cruise this was cancelled & passengers were allowed to serve themselves. On NCL Norwegian Sun Jan 2010, the food did not agree with me & I asked my brother it had the same effect on him; he replied in the affirmative. Restaurants Hours (approximately) . Manhattan Dining Rm: Bkfst 8-9:30; Lunch 12:30-1.30 (deck 3); Dinner Fixed 5:45-8pm, Manhattan Dining Rm: ----------------------------------------------Dinner Open 5:15 - 9pm Pinnacle Grill - reservations: Bkfst closed; Lunch 12n-1:30; Dinner 5:30-9:30pm Tamarind - reservations: Bkfst closed; Lunch 11:30am-1pm; Dinner 5:30-9:30pm Canaletto - gratis but reservations req: Bkfst closed; Lunch closed; Dinner 5:30-9:30pm Terrace Grill: Bkfst closed; Lunch 11:30am-5pm; Dinner 5-6pm Slice: Bkfst closed; Lunch 11:30am-5pm; Dinner 5pm-12:30am Lido: Bkfst continental 6:30-10:30am; Lunch Full Buffet 11:30am-2pm; Dinner Casual 5:30-8:30pm Lido: Bkfst Full Buffet 7-11am; Lunch Afternoon snack 2-5pm; Late Snack 11pm-12mn High Tea - 3pm - Manhattan Dining Rm 3 (varied) Pinnacle Grill: I talked with several people who were quite satisfied with the food (especially the seafood). One party said they had steak and were dissatisfied. Manhattan Dining Room: I had supper here, early seating 5:45pm, at a table for 6 people. The 1st week our table of 6 people, were 2 nuns, Donald & Phyllis from Amsterdam, NY (married 62 yrs), their son Steve, & me. The 2nd week we had Harold & Bev Landsman from MN, Inger & Charlie Sexton, their daughter Annette, & me. The meal started at 5:45pm and before we knew it, it was 7:30pm; no one at the table complained on both legs of the cruise. I also had breakfast here. The main reason I chose the Manhattan for lunch was that you are paying to be waited on so why go to the Lido; besides one is supposed to be on vacation. Slice: This is the pizza cafe located on the Lido Deck - deck 9. Just as the name implies, it serves slices of pizza. Ice Cream Station: This is on the Lido Deck 9 on both port & starboard sides. I can't tell you the quality of the ice cream. Tamarind Restaurant: I did not eat here but a couple at our table the 2nd week said they did not care for it. Canaletto: This Italian Restaurant is free but reservations are required; it is on the Lido Deck 9.The food is fine & well worth several visits but be forwarned, make your reservations early in the cruise as the restaurant fills up. Also you might want to opt for 5:30pm dining as that is less crowded. They may also be open for lunch but I did not see that in my notes nor the HAL Explorer (daily newspaper). Internet Cafe (Explorations Cafe) Rates are 250 minutes for $100 or $.40/min; 100 minutes for $55 or $.55/min; pay as you go $.75/min; there is an activation fee of $3.95; printing an individual page is $.25/page. I took my laptop thus no need, on my part, for this service. Besides I use my laptop for text only (Microsoft Word). Casino: I really do not gamble but found $.01, $.02, $.25 slot machines; gambling to me is entertainment & I bet $10 which will last me several nights. The main thing about gambling on ships is the smoking. I walked away at the end of the cruise with $3.15! Club Hal: I did not have any experience with this but heard from other people that did. They said their children or grandchildren were having so much & could not wait for the next day. I expected a show of some sort featuring Club Hal in the Queen's Lounge (like a previous cruise) and was disappointed there was none as the children put on a very entertaining show. Digital Workshop: This is perhaps the best deal on HAL; all classes are free. Chris Jackson, who is the Techspert, and I met during a cruise to the Caribbean in Nov. 2009. To me the Digital Workshop is worth the cost of the trip. Cabanas: These were available on the Lido Deck for $399 or on the Observation Deck for $499; the difference being that the Observation gives you more privacy but it does not come with use of a pool, Jacuzzi or location near the food area like the Lido; the Observation Cabanas are more remote, scenery better. I reserved one on the Lido deck back in Boston and it was worth it. The ones on the Lido came with a rather large futon, two chairs, table, fruit, bathrobe, free water, and 2 bottles of champagne. Spa (Hydro Pool & Thermal Suite); The Thermal Suite is a heated bed that is very relaxing; the Hydro Pool is a 3.5' deep pool. I got a deal (so they told me) of $200 for my 2 wk btb. Entertainment: The 1st wk the entertainment was so-so in the beginning but fabulous the last 2 days. The 2nd week the entertainment was much improved. Showroom At Sea: This is where evening shows are held & other events such as bingo. Silk Den: This is a bar, located amidships with a good view. Gym: I did not use this but heard from others that it is up to date with all the necessary equipment. I person said that he was there every morning at 6am. Adults Only Area; Over Crow's Nest & Exploration' Cafe: Supposedly this is on the Observation Deck on Deck 11 but in reality it is located on Deck 12 & accessible from the Observation Deck but you have to walk up a flight of stairs. Stairs: I have trouble climbing down stairs, what I like about the Nieuw Amsterdam is that you are able to hold both railings climbing & descending stairs. Stewards: I feel that this should be put separately as I found the Filipino & Indonesian stewards very helpful. Some people feel that this is their job; well that is true. But to me most of them go above and beyond the "call of duty". One goes on a cruise ship for a vacation; the stewards assisted me with that vacation & made it more enjoyable. To this I thank Holland America & the stewards. Fri 12/31/11: As stated above I finally made it to FLL. I checked in the hotel & immediately took a nap until 6pm where upon I walked to Outback Steak House for an $18 meal that was not worth it. On the other hand I had not eaten all day except for Jet Blue potato chips and some candy at the hotel. Then to Walgreen's for some supplies that I did not want to pack in Boston & found out later that were not needed for the cruise. When the van from the hotel picked me up at the airport, there was a couple I became quite friendly with. They are taking the Zuiderdam to the Panama Canal. As I have taken the trip, I filled them in with the details. That trip was one of my favorites. Sat 1/1/11: This morning I had the free hotel breakfast (which is not free because you are paying for it along the line someplace) then went to use their computers. The lady I met from yesterday saw me and asked if I would like to accompany them on an airboat ride to the Florida Everglades. I said yes, paid my deposit of $20 cash to the receptionist (which probably goes to the hotel) and charged the rest. The van picked us up at 10am and took us to the Sawgrass Airboat Tours. Then we rode an airboat thru the Florida Everglades after inserting earplugs which did little good as far as noise was concerned. We saw about 3 alligators, many different kinds of birds, a turtle. Then the driver stopped the boat and gave a short lecture about the Everglades. Later, back on land, the driver gave a white egret several live fishes. Then we visited the zoo and saw snakes, alligators (I held one) and saw a lecture on alligators. I left because one day the man is going to go too far and lose a limb; I do not want to be around when this happens. During the ride back to the hotel, I told the couple about supper tonight at Outback and said they could come if they wanted to. Back at the hotel I went to my room then went to the nearby mall & picked up some deodorant at Publix markets & had lunch at Joe's, a rather nice small restaurant that seems to cater to locals. Next back to the hotel & was preparing for supper when the couple I met called; we walked to Outback and had one of the best meals I have ever had; it was cheaper than the $18 I paid last night. The other people that were supposed to be at the M&G did not appear; I made a mistake someplace. Sun 1/2/11:Wind SE 9 knots; PC;pressure 1022hPA;temp 75F I had breakfast with the couple and we said our goodbyes; I know they will have a great time thru the Panama Canal and in some way I wish I was with them. After going back to my room, packing & getting ready for the day I took the 12pm bus to the cruise port for $8. I managed to take both bags with me to cabin 1128. After unpacking I went to the Lido deck for a chicken salad sandwich with potato salad. I queried the manager of the Internet Cafe if I could print a page from my flash drive, he said yes. Then I attended the all important muster drill where you are told more or less nothing but is mandatory because of US regulations. After that I went to supper which for me was early supper at 5:45pm. The other 5 at the table were 2 nuns, a couple named Donald & Phyllis from Amsterdam, NY (married 62 yrs), and their 49yo son Steve. After dinner we attended the musical at 9:30 in the Showroom at Sea on Deck 1. The Cruise Director informed about the entertainment & ships activities. Next we went to Slice on the Lido Deck for pizza with iced tea. Mon 1/3/11 Half Moon Cay 8am-4pm:Wind NE 9 knots;PC; pressure 1019hPA; 75F Today our port was Half Moon Cay, the private island of HAL. Most passengers went ashore but I stayed behind used my cabana, did crossword puzzles then went to the hot tub. I went to the Observation Deck for the informal M&G but no one showed up. We will see what happens on Wednesday for the M&G. At supper tonight, the elderly couple said they have cruised many times with HAL & their cabin is an ocean view that is obstructed; he is going to talk to his travel agent about this. I chose a strawberry desert for it was advertised as having a lot of strawberries; it came with 3! The evening's performance of "Garage Band" was not bad but it did not warrant a 2nd viewing. Besides, I had wash to do. Tue 1/4/11 Grand Turk 12n-6pm:Wind NE 12 knots; PC; pressure 1017hPA; 77F I asked for wire hangers for my wet laundry; the steward said they do not have them & to use the wooden ones. Similar to yesterday I had breakfast in the Manhattan Dining Room & sat with a couple from England & a solo traveler from NJ. One subject we talked about was the expense of traveling solo; they mentioned NCL Epic where rooms are available for singles. Then I headed to Deck 2 to the Digital Workshop for 2 classes from 9:30 to 11:30. There is another one on Windows 7 that I will take when the time is convenient. I had lunch in the Manhattan alone; then went to the Cabana but could not keep my eyes so I slept on the futon. My cabana steward was Jayson who treated me very well & daily supplied me with drinks & various fruits. I had supper with the usual group and saw the evening performance "Billy Prudhomme - comedy & juggling". The trouble with washing your own clothes is that you have to start about 9pm. The trouble with a cabin in the rear of the ship is walking from aft to stern. The Filipino Crew Show was at 11:15pm but it conflicted with the Lido late night snack. Wed 1/5/11 Sea Day: Wind E 13 knots; PC; pressure 1016hPA; 82.5F Breakfast again in Manhattan with a couple of lawyers from FLA. She prosecutes for the state of FL; he defends, has his own practice. If they have the same case she gives it to another lawyer. I had lox, English muffins, hollandaise sauce, poached eggs; it was very good. Next I went to the digital workshop from 9:30 - 12:30, had no time for lunch so went to the Observation Deck where about 20 people showed up for the cc meet & greet out of about 70; I still call it a success. We held it at 1pm as HAL was using the Observation Deck in the am. I should have scheduled it for 10am at a different site, but when notifying HAL I did not know. For supper 3 at our table asked the steward last night if we could have escargot tonight. So tonight we had escargot as an appetizer. The nuns were invited to a mariner's lunch; the other couple & I are mariner's & we did not receive an invitation. The show tonight was "Andy James" - magician & comedian. He was very good. After that I went to the casino, put in $10, played a $.01 slot machine, cashed out at $12.40; last of the big spenders! Thu 1/6/11 Georgetown Cayman Islands 7am-4pm:Wind NW 7 knots; PC; pressure 1012hPA; 81F Four ships are in port today; the NA, Crystal Serenity, HAL Eurodam, RCI Navigator of the Seas so I stayed on board. At breakfast this morning it was said that the Crystal Serenity is more expensive & includes alcoholic beverages. That is one ship I will not go on for I do not drink & will not pay for other peoples booze. At 9:30 I went to the digital workshop again, it was the same class as I took yesterday but he talks fast and covered one item that he did not cover before. I had lunch in the Lido Dining Room & worked on the cc review in the cabana. Took a look at my acct; $11 per day tip. I was going to leave an additional tip but guess I won't. Before supper I stopped in to see Techspert Chris Jackson about a problem I was having with Windows Live Photo Gallery. After supper the entertainment tonight was The Marriage Game; this is always fun no matter which ship it is on; after that Up Close with Magician Andy James - average tonight; and after that Late Night Comedy with Jeff Capri. The comedians on this cruise had to be careful with their acts because of the children on board. Back in the cabin there were chocolate mints along with a reminder that the clocks will be set back. Fri 1/7/11 Costa Maya Mexico 10am-6pm: Wind breeze 6 kts; PC; pressure 1010hPA; 77F; I ate in the Manhattan again; sat with a couple of snow birds, ½ a year in Chicago, the other half in Florida. He is retired, worked as a real estate appraiser. Today I went to Maya Chan with Beth Needleman & her friend. I had made reservations back in Boston & prepaid the $49; it's a place to relax and chill out. There is use of free internet (when available); included are snorkeling, kayaking etc. as well as lunch and drinks plus round trip transportation to/from the ship. Before we knew it, it was time to go back to the ship. The area of Costa Maya was hit with a hurricane which closed the place for over a year. We were in port with the Ryandam, Nieuw Amsterdam, MSC Poesnia. Tonight was surf & turf; I had 3 lobster tails; told them to forget the filet mignon that came with the lobster. Tonight's show featured Cantare, a group of 4 male singers whom the audience loved; I took them with a grain of salt. Tonight Cruise Director Dan Bernbach reminded us to turn our clocks ahead 1 hour. Sat 1/8/11 Sea Day: Wind breeze 6 kts; PC; pressure 1012 hPA; 73F I had breakfast in Manhattan with 1 couple from Vancouver (John & Marianne), & 1 person from DC & FL, then exchanged the medium T shirt purchased from the Signature Shop last night for a Large. Next the 9:30 digital workshop class; after that I purchased a future cruise on HAL for $100 (good for 4 years) & took the 11:30 digital workshop on turning photos & videos into a slide show using Windows Live Movie Maker. At lunch I sat with 1 couple from Vancouver (the same couple I met at breakfast), & 1 couple from Ottawa. One person at the dinner table said he has never seen so many children aboard a HAL ship. Entertainment tonight was "The Avalon" starring the four singers from Cantare plus 2 female singers & 3 dancers from HAL. Sun 1/9/11 Ft Lauderdale 5:30am-5pm: Wind 7kts; PC; pressure 1016hPa; 80.6F Breakfast in the Mahattan as breakfast was being served from 6:30-8am due to the debarkation. I sat with a couple from VA & FLA; he is a retired government worker & I gathered she was retired from the government although she did not go into detail & I did not pry. Lunch in the Lido & although it was ala carte, you were not allowed to touch the food. After lunch I used the cabana to go over notes on the computer. I saw a few quite a few people using their cell phones who might be surprised for although you are in Florida, you are using the ships antenna and technically "cellular at sea". The weather in FLL warm in the sun; cool in the East Coast; I'll worry about that next week, maybe. Dinner tonight at table 57 which was adjacent to a window overlooking the aft part of the ship with Beverly & Harold from southern MN; he is a retired engineer. At the 9:30pm show I noticed some new musicians. Later in talking with the cruise director he said that there was a large turnover of musicians & that the shows on this 2nd leg will not be in the same order as the ones on the 1st leg. Regarding entertainment - already there seems to be a change for the better. I went to the casino tonight & tried to use the $15 that was left on my card; to make a long story short an attendant gave me $15 as my card was not valid for this cruise; I failed to cash out on the 1st leg. He put the $15 on my card for this cruise. I ended up putting an additional $10 on the card & cashed out when the balance was $3.40. Mon 1/10/11 Sea Day: Wind 25kts; OC; pressure 1018hPa;75F About 2am this morning I looked out my cabin window & saw another cruise ship going in the same direction we were but at a faster speed. At breakfast in the Manhattan Dining Rm, I sat with 2 couples, 1 from NJ, and 1 from NY. At the M&G today @ 1pm there were 20 people; still it was successful. Present from the NA were the Cruise Director Dan Bernbach & Travel Guide Ian. This took up the greater part of the afternoon. At dinner we were joined by 3 others, Inger & Charlie Sexton from PA & their daughter Annette. They went to the Pinnacle Grill last night & gave it thumbs up. For entertainment there was Cantare; it was a wonderful performance; like last week 4 male vocalists. A late night snack in the Lido did not happen as most of the foods were spicy; the menu was American South. Tue 1/11/11 Grand Turk 7am-3pm: Wind 16kts; OC; pressure 1018hPa; 77F I had breakfast with Murray from Kingston, Ontario, Canada & Jean & Ray from Ontario, Canada. Next I stopped in the digital workshop to ask Chris a question. I got off the ship & roamed around the Port & Margaritaviile then back on the ship; I had been here before & not much has changed besides it was noon & being on the ship was cooler. We had lunch in the Manhattan Dining Room with a person from Louisville & a couple from MN. After that I went to the Cabana with my laptop to work on the pictures I had taken. The Captain came gave his daily announcement & added that clocks will be turned ahead 1hr. Jason came over said "we were worried about you, did not see you yesterday; he has the cabana next to mine. I went over & chatted with him & his wife. He is a CPA, has his own firm, & has 12 people working for him; he is on vacation for this week only. Dinner tonight with just Beverly & Harold Landsman as Inger, Annette & Charlie went to the Italian Restaurant. I asked Bev and Harold if they would like to try the no charge Canaletto; answer was in the affirmative. The show tonight was the "Garage Band" another spectacular. I called reservations & the only opening was 5:30pm Saturday. Wed 1/12/11 San Juan 1-8pm: Wind 25kts; PC; 1014hPa; 80.6F I had breakfast with a couple from ME; he is a truck driver; I told him about my friend Dave; Next I went to the Digital Workshop "Ask the Tech" to ask a few questions; Then I went to the all important buffet for Collectors Voyage People. But in going to that I missed Travel Guide Ian's talk about Puerto Rico as we entered that port (the best views were from the port side of the ship). I went to the adult's area on Deck 12 (accessable from the Observation Deck by climbing stairs) & was amazed at the space. It is like the Observation Deck only no ceiling & minus the bar & facilities. There are cabins but they do not have verandah's, so I am told. We were entering San Juan; people were making calls from the ship (again using the ships antenna?). The entertainment tonight with comedy magician "Andy James"; we saw him last week; the show was not bad but I would like to know the secret. Before the show I gave the man sitting next to me my card who said "Hello Brother"; we talked about masonry; he is a past master. I said that you give up a year of your life; he mentioned "more than a year". Next I went to the Indonesian Crew Show at 11:15pm. Great talent & a lot of laughs; at the end I was picked to shake 1 of the wooden instruments; my # was 2 so whenever the conductor pointed at 2 on the music sheet I would shake the instrument; really difficult? Thu 1/13/11 St Maartin 7am-3pm: Wind 25kts; PC; pressure 1016hPa; 86F I arranged a tour with Bernard Tours back home but the ship arrived & left at awkward times so after giving it much thought (well not that much) I decided to stay on board the ship. I had breakfast with Del & Judy from the Midwest. Next I dropped in to the Digital Workshop to ask Chris a question. Then I got off the ship & walked around the port before realizing it was too hot & windy (the ships created a wind tunnel), so I returned to the ship & had lunch in the Lido as the Manhattan was closed. Then to the Silk Den which is a bar on the Observation Deck amidships, looked at the menu at the Tamarind Restaurant & was not impressed, observed Club Hal also on the Observation Deck next to the Tamarind. At dinner tonight with Bev & Harold; Inger, Annette & Charlie went to the Pinnacle for Le Cirque (I later learned they had been to the Pinnacle 3 times). After that I went to the Explorations Cafe & the Internet Manager to get some pages printed; a thank you note for their help with the M&G which he gave me gratis instead of charging the $.25 / page. My writing is terrible; I sent thank you notes all the officers I sent invitations to even though some of them did not show up. Then to the Signature shop to exchange the T shirt I purchased (which had an imperfection). I went to the Photo Gallery to purchase a DVD for both legs of the trip. Fri 1/14/11 Sea Day: Wind 35kts; PC; pressure 1017hPa; 79F I got up at 5:10am & 7:30am but decided to sleep until 10; when that time came around I changed the wake-up call to 10:45 & even then I was still tired. At the Mariner's Lunch I sat with Bob & Kathy from NJ. He works for Soverign Bank; although based in Boston, the bank is Spanish owned. Bob & Kathy like to do cruise tours; say you see more that way. She is a registered nurse and works with the elderly; shows her photos to them. At the front desk I was told that I have a total of 69 points including this cruise; also a deluxe verandah counts as 2 cruises (I have an oceanview). But then I run into this problem; why pay for a verandah when an oceanview will suffice & the difference can be spent for tours? I organized my picture on Windows Live Photo Gallery as Chris from the Digital Workshop taught in one of his classes; am up to date now. Supper tonight with the Sexton's & Landsman's; the daughter Annette said the Tararind is ok but she would not go back. Tonight was lobster night I had escargot & 4 lobster tails. Charlie Sexton owns a security business & from the sound of it is quite successful; he has been all over the globe. The entertainment tonight was "Live at the Avalon" & the audience gave it a standing ovation. It was not a smooth ride late this afternoon & most of the night, a few people got seasick; winds from starboard around 50 kts. Because of this (I had a port side cabin on the Main Deck) the drain in my bathroom backed up, nothing serious; maintenance cleaned it up. Sat 1/15/11 Half Moon Cay 8am-3pm: Wind 20kts; PC; pressure 1015hPa; 77F Breakfast with Allan & Pat from MI & FL and Bernadette from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. She is divorced, a retired accounting professor, and travels extensively. I had poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, english muffins, & lox & asked the steward for pickled herring. He came with kippered herring instead. Even though I did not feel like it I ordered the pickled herring. Well something did not agree with me. I ended back in the cabin packing, then taking snooze. I turned on TV & just caught "When Harry Met Sally" & the scene where she fakes an organism in a restaurant; it's funny no matter how many times I see it. The steward finally came so I got my laptop & headed for the cabana. According the initial itinerary we were to leave Half Moon Cay at 4pm but left at 3pm instead. The captain announced that we had 50 knot winds last night & the ship was listing to port but no damage was done to the superstructure. We are scheduled to be in Ft Lauderdale at 6am tomorrow. I'm scheduled to leave the ship at 9:30am as I am staying at the Ramada Inn in FLL. Dinner tonight with Bev & Harold Landsman in Canaletto; they have eaten here before on another dam ship. The food was wonderful & even better considering it was free. Entertainment tonight at 8pm was Steel Pan Jam; a variety of classical & pop played on the steel drums. At 10:15pm was comedian Brian Bradley & the Comedy Magician of Andy James. I went to the Casino & cashed out at $3.15 next went to the Photo Gallery & got my 3 disc's; back to my cabin to work on packing which will be finished tomorrow. Sun 1/16/11 Ft Lauderdale 6am: Wind 8 kts; pressure 1016hPa; humidity 44%; 77F; PC I had breakfast with Bob & Dottie from FL (they spend 2 months in MA visiting their children) and Bernadette (I met her yesterday); this is her last week, she is staying tonight at the Hilton. Bernadette & I are both leaving about 10pm as we are staying overnight in Ft Lauderdale. I went back to my cabin & finished packing & left about 10am. As I went through customs, the officer said it is best to be the first off the ship or the last. Upon calling Ramada, the clerk told me I would be picked up by KPC Tours; there were 9 people, 5 went to the airport. I got to Ramada about 11am, checked in but my room would not be available until 3pm. So I had a philadelphia steak sandwich, french fries, & pickle & took advantage of their WI-FI. At the Jet Blue website I printed my boarding pass which showed the flight as being on time. Mon 1/17/11 Ft Lauderdale to Raleigh to Boston: I had the free breakfast this morning & met Michael Rath who is a Crop Claims Supervisor & is taking the Maasdam, which is a smaller ship, to the smaller islands in the Caribbean. PORTS: Mon 1-3-11 Half Moon Cay 8am-4pm: I stayed on the ship Tue 1-4-11 Grand Turk 12n-6pm: I stayed on the ship Thu 1-6-11 Georgetown, Cayman 7am-4pm: Four ships are in port today; the NA, Crystal Serenity, HAL Eurodam, RCI Navigator of the Seas so I stayed on board. Fri 1-7-11 Costa Maya, Mexico 10am-6pm: I got off the ship & went with a group to Maya Chan, a beach resort, although hurricane Bob paid a visit here in 1923 & shut down this port for over a year. Maya Chan (an all inclusive) is relaxing, nice, quiet, a place to chill out (include web address). Tue 1-11-11 Grand Turk 7am-3pm: I went ashore for 1 hr, just walking the port area, getting some exercise, getting a sun tan;took my shirt off & realized it was too hot & it might be more reasonable inside the ship. Wed 1-12-11 San Juan 1pm-8pm: I stayed on the ship. In port with Carnival Liberty & Celebrity Century. Thu 1-13-11 St Maartin 7am-3pm: In port with RCI Allure Of The Sea's, Celebrity Solstice, P&O Azure, Aida Luna (a German line). I visited the port area for a short time Sat 1-15-11 Half Moon Cay 8am-4pm: Stayed on the ship, enjoyed my cabana Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Disappointing might possibly be generous. We love HAL and have had only great experiences with the cruise line. This time however we may have taken a closer look at the cruise and ship and found that many things were wanting. HAL was only ... Read More
Disappointing might possibly be generous. We love HAL and have had only great experiences with the cruise line. This time however we may have taken a closer look at the cruise and ship and found that many things were wanting. HAL was only the 2nd cruise line we sailed on. Now that we have cruised on several others we became aware of , what we considered design flaws or someone did think it mattered things. In the Lido for example. The only way to know what was being offered was to walk completely around, sometimes more than once. Some items were only offered on one side and not the other. If you wanted a salad and a sandwich it was sometimes necessary to go to both sides of the buffet to get these items. They should have considered making the actual buffet into an efficient alcove area rather than jamming passengers trying to get something to eat and passengers transiting to and from the pool areas into a narrow walkway. The width of which is made even more confining by adding a dozen small tables outside of the normal dining area. Meals in the main dining room were no better than average and the selections far below those offered on other lines. HAL needs to get creative with their menus, it's not 1930 anymore. Our stateroom which was one of their deluxe suites did not even have a curtain to divide the sleeping area from the sitting area. I guess that's common on HAL ships but someone might have thought that small item would be important for additional privacy. The new ship's TV we had was nothing more than a disgrace. The cheapest remote, which never properly worked, we have ever seen. We have been led to believe that this will be the last HAL ship to be built for sometime. Hopefully, if they do build another they will enlist comments from real passengers and get some design ideas that would be practical and beneficial. Couldn't say anything but great to describe the crew and staff it really is the high point of the cruise line, probably the best we have had on any other. It's really a shame that the new ship didn't live up to our expectations Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
First the good: beds excellent, desserts superb (including the bread pudding), Adagio Quartet in the Explorer Lounge every night. BUT: ship has design flaws. The glass and chromium Atrium serves no purpose; just a big hole in the ... Read More
First the good: beds excellent, desserts superb (including the bread pudding), Adagio Quartet in the Explorer Lounge every night. BUT: ship has design flaws. The glass and chromium Atrium serves no purpose; just a big hole in the middle of the ship. Inadequate storage in the cabin closets. Some restrooms virtually invisible through lack of illumination. Columns obstruct some views in theater )now called a Show Room.) And too many blocked toilets and other problems for a new ship. We found the food lacking in taste except for the soups - someone should take away the chef's salt, pepper and spices when he makes them. However, we should note that most of those we spoke to liked the food. We did not try the specialty resturants as they give you too much food. Quality of ingredients good. Evening entertainent was very good, except for one night when the theater showed nothing. During the day there was not much going on; of course most passengers went ashore, but it may also be due to the Cruise Director being a one man band. As the weather was oftenpoor this may have affected more tha just us. Finally, this is the first time we have ever found our cabin stewards lacking. On several occasions we left the cabin early, and found it unmade up at noon. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Our third cruise on Holland American ships. First to Alaska, next a Holiday cruise thru the Panama Canal and this voyage to ports in Spain, Italy and Portugal before the Atlantic crossing to Fort Lauderdale. It was a near perfect ... Read More
Our third cruise on Holland American ships. First to Alaska, next a Holiday cruise thru the Panama Canal and this voyage to ports in Spain, Italy and Portugal before the Atlantic crossing to Fort Lauderdale. It was a near perfect experience. The ports of call and tours offered are hard to match. What an experience to see the ancient sights blended with the new Europe. We booked a Veranda suite and where totally pleased. It was great to sit out on the veranda and enjoy the scene. Our room was very quite. Never heard an outside sound. On deck 8 at mid ship. Highly recommend it. We had near perfect weather at all of the ports of call. Mid 60's to low 70's, calm and sunny. Thought crossing would be less smooth, but it was very calm. We were just very blessed with good weather. Once we neared Half Moon Cay, Tomas stirred up to sea and made it necessary to skip that port. We had been there before, so it didn't bother us. The ship is absolutely pristine (new ship) and it is outfitted in a modern motif which wome veteran cruiser did not particuly like. Our favorite spot on the ship was the library area which has numerous ultra comfortable lounges and chairs around the room to enjoy the vistas thru huge glass windows around the bow of the ship. Only compaint here was the annoying (and expensive) computers. They eat dollars like candy. For seniors like my wife and I, we would highly recommend Holland American ships if you like to cruise with many other seniors from all over the globe. We especially enjoyed Warren Salinger's lecture series on globalizing giving us an in depth look at emerging countries and world trade in our changing world. We took most of our meals in the Manhattan Dining Room. The food was almost always great and service was excellent from a very friendly staff. I zeroed in on the New York Strip Steak which I found to be near perfect time after time. Other dishes were equally tasty but I kept returning to the steaks. No need to dine in Pinnacle with equal quality and service in the Manhattan. I say go Holland America. You won't regret it. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
We took two back-to-back cruises, 12 days each, from Barcelona to Venice and then from Venice to Istanbul and back to Venice. 16 ports, only four sea days, and a couple of overnights (Barcelona, Venice and Istanbul). We're glad we had ... Read More
We took two back-to-back cruises, 12 days each, from Barcelona to Venice and then from Venice to Istanbul and back to Venice. 16 ports, only four sea days, and a couple of overnights (Barcelona, Venice and Istanbul). We're glad we had 24 days on this beautiful ship, because we would not have been ready to leave after the first two weeks. This was our 26th cruise, so we have a basis for comparison. EMBARKATION DAY: We flew from Florida to Barcelona, arriving at 8 a.m. and taking a taxi to the port. Three big ships were in the same dock area, including ours, so traffic was at a stand-still over the bridge to the dock, driving up our taxi price. Check-in was quick and easy, but then we had to wait until 11:30 while passengers disembarked and we could get on. We were tired and jet-lagged, but the hall was comfortable and food and drink were available for purchase at a bar. When we got on board, we headed for the Lido for lunch and by 1 p.m. our cabin was ready for us to "crash" and nap for a couple of hours. Our luggage arrived promptly. Around 4 p.m. we took the free shuttle to the Columbus statue at the foot of Barcelona's Las Ramblas walking zone and enjoyed a pleasant stroll into the Old Quarter. Shuttled back to the ship for dinner in the Lido and early to bed. CABIN: We had asked for a "partially obstructed" oceanview and were not disappointed. Our cabin was mid-ship on Deck 4, right off the center elevator. It was the quietest cabin we've ever had and we never felt any ship motion. We had a large double window, floor to ceiling, with clear view out of one side and part of a lifeboat on the other. The wonderful HAL beds lulled us to sleep comfortably each night. We found plenty of storage space, including under the bed, several adjustable shelves and lots of hangers. It took a while to get used to putting your room card in the slot by the door in order to turn on the lights. We could have used more hooks on the wall and a desk drawer. We had a roomy bathroom and tub which was really nice for soaking tired bones after shore trips. DINING: Overall the food was excellent and service fast and efficient. We opted for Anytime Dining because we like to watch sail-aways and don't want to be tied to a specific dining time. We never had to wait more than a few minutes at the Main Dining Room, and found the food in the Lido full of variety to suit just about every taste. Food problems or complaints were quickly rectified. Several times we ate in the Canaletto, the Italian dinner venue where there is no extra charge. The service is pleasant and personal, and the Limoncello dessert to die for. We also had a free dinner in the Tamarind Asian restaurant courtesy of Capt. Mercer, which was elegantly served. Sometimes the Lido got very crowded, but usually the lines moved quickly. We miss not having trays and don't really understand why they're no longer being used. The first two days there was no self-service of food or drink, it was handled by the staff for health reasons. Lido hours should also be extended, as people are used to having food available just about any time on a ship. ENTERTAINMENT: The singers and dancers put on amazingly professional shows. We had good magicians and comedians and the main theater had plenty of room. During the day and evening there were the usual trivia games, hilarious game shows like the Marriage Game, Match Game, Liars Club, etc. Bingo had some good payouts, but the casino seemed very tight. Movies were shown daily, free internet classes, cooking classes, games around the pool. GYM, SPA, POOLS: The two nice-sized pools were seldom used because the water was too cold. Lots of pool side chairs were available for relaxation. We did not see many people use the private Sanctuary cabanas or the enclosed cabanas on the pool deck, probably because of the cost. We didn't use the Gym or Spa but understand there was plenty of exercise equipment and a small heated pool and sauna just for Spa guests. We appreciated the fact that waiters didn't bug you constantly to buy drinks when we were trying to relax. LIBRARY AND INTERNET: Usually on HAL ships these two facilities are midship at one of the lower levels, but here they are right outside the Vista Lounge at the top front on the ship. The Vista Lounge was always freezing cold, which didn't make for comfortable reading. There are several small bar areas where one could relax with a book or conversation with friends. We heard the usual complaints about the Internet: too expensive, slow service even when in port, wasting precious minutes waiting for "high speed internet". We usually looked for internet cafes on shore, very inexpensive. SHORE EXCURSIONS: Most were pretty expensive and with 16 ports we had to be selective. We took some private tours we had pre-arranged on Cruise Critic roll calls, several ship excursions which were well handled, and sometimes we just walked on our own. Shuttles to town were sometimes too expensive for such a short distance. Next time we'll check on local buses ahead of time. Every port has taxis handy, but they are not cheap and sometimes language is a problem. We had to be tendered in several ports, which went amazingly well for a ship with 2000 passengers. The Shore Information talks were informative and did not push shopping as much as some cruise lines do. The Shorex office needs to be open more hours to answer questions, as you could not reach them by phone. Docking in Venice after the first 12 days, the ship's computer malfunctioned and Captain Mercer announced we would stay an extra night docked in Venice. A computer expert had to be flown in from Germany with the proper parts. As a result we missed Split, Croatia, which was disappointing. But the extra night in Venice was enjoyable, as the ship had moved to a dock very close to St. Mark's Square. DISEMBARKATION: After 24 days, we arrived back in Venice while it was still dark out. We docked close to the Peoplemover, so after fairly easy disembarkation we rolled our luggage a few hundred feet to the Peoplemover and for 1 Euro we arrived in Piazzale Roma in minutes. From there we took the No. 5 bus to the airport hotel we had pre-arranged and flew home the next day. OVERALL we really enjoyed the whole 24 days. There were a few minor irritations, but when someone else cooks our meals, cleans up afterwards, makes our beds and puts out clean towels daily, provides 24-hour service and entertainment, what is there to complain about? Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We boarded the Nieuw Amsterdam in Venice for a one-night port stay, which turned into two nights. Venice streets were basically under water from the high fall tides and nobody wanted to go back into the streets again so most just stayed ... Read More
We boarded the Nieuw Amsterdam in Venice for a one-night port stay, which turned into two nights. Venice streets were basically under water from the high fall tides and nobody wanted to go back into the streets again so most just stayed on-board the extra night. The Captain announced at our sail-away party that a navigation circuit board had failed and since they cost $15,000 each they are not on-the-shelf. A German company vendor was contacted to make a new one and fly an engineer to Venice with the board. By now, all the passengers were making book on whether we would sail at all. Others were reviewing their cruise insurance documents. The board was delivered, installed and tested and we left - however the Captain said we would have to miss our first port of call - Spilt, Croatia. However he rewarded us with one glass of free wine and our account would be credited with the unspent port tax - $5.50 per person. An important, and well anticipated port, should have valued much more than a glass of wine. The rest of the cruise was lovely. Lots of great late summer weather and calm seas. The new ship is lovely and the service superb. The beds were new and we slept like logs. We ate in the Manhatten Dining room most of the time. It was our 45th Anniversary celebration with another couple from Wisconsin. We wanted to try the specialy resturants, but wanted to view them before making reservations. In each case - Pinnacle Grill, Tamarind, Canaletto - the maitre d'hotel graciously and with all smiles reported that the tables were all booked. We tried phone reservations but all we could get was a voice message saying they were busy with other customers. We finally got a reservation at the Pinnacle Grill for the last night of the cruise. We overheard the next table commenting that they had eaten in the Pinnacle 6 times. We kept going to the Tamarind reservations desk and finally got in at a 9:30 pm reservation. When we got there half the resturant was empty. Both restaurants were excellent and well appreciated. But we could never get into the Caneletto the entire 12 days. I suppose we could have booked prior to the cruise on the internet but until we saw the restaurant we hesitated. I have a feeling most of the reservations that were made prior to the cruise never showed up at dinner and thus the empty tables. A ship-wide reservation system needs to be put in place. During the cruise - about day 6, a number of people were experiencing some sort of sickness. We heard over 40 were sickened from something and the ship quickly put a sick alert system in place. Every available waiter was stationed at every doorway into a food serving area and squirted Purell alcohol solutions on everyone. All food had to be handled by the waiter. No more china salt and pepper shakers - only paper packets on request. No more butter dishes on the table or sauce bottles. No more bread baskets to pass. 'Everything was handled by a server. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We flew over from West Palm Beach to Barcelona and just missed a hurricane enroute. Luckily we got the to board the ship on the first day of 2 days in the port. I really like it when a cruise starts with 2 days in a port to make up for ... Read More
We flew over from West Palm Beach to Barcelona and just missed a hurricane enroute. Luckily we got the to board the ship on the first day of 2 days in the port. I really like it when a cruise starts with 2 days in a port to make up for travel problems. The ship itself is very plain and very basic. Holland is not sparing any money on glitz, but they keep adding cabins to the same size series of ships. We got a very nice upgrade that placed us on the 12th floor in the rear of the ship. This was the first time and we loved it as got a bigger stateroom and was able to see action on both sides of the ship. The room was the best part of the cruise as the food was not up to the usual Holland American standards. I believe this is due to Carnavel's cost cutting which taking all the grandeur and enjoyment of cruising. We had some very tough and fatty filet minion's on formal nights which unacceptable. I also missed having tapioca, rice pudding, and banana bread. The entertainment was good, but not great. All of these ships are now having their production shows lip sinked so only the dancing is live performance. The service was good, but the ship was under staffed! We always had to get our own drinks when in the buffet and their was never enough staff around for refills. The Ports are all getting much to crowded in the summer for our taste, but thankfully we had been to each one previously. I will skip Rome, Venice, and Dubrovnik in the future as just not enough room to enjoy oneself. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Nieuw Amsterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.5
Public Rooms 4.5 4.4
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.8
Family 4.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.5 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.1

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