1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
Preface: I'll preface my review by saying that my partner and I are both 29 and 33 respectively and we were some of the "younger" passengers. Albeit, I did read plenty of reviews before sailing and knew that Holland America ... Read More
Preface: I'll preface my review by saying that my partner and I are both 29 and 33 respectively and we were some of the "younger" passengers. Albeit, I did read plenty of reviews before sailing and knew that Holland America (HAL) was geared towards a more mature crowd so we knew what we were booking. We planned our trip in May 2018 for an Eastern Caribbean itinerary when we first discovered HAL. I traveled on NCL, Carnival, and Disney previously. We were looking for a more refined and relaxed atmosphere (without the hairy chest and belly flop contests). This is a review for the 7 day journey: Ship 5/5: Beautiful ship from the moment you step on to the moment you disembark. Nieuw Amsterdam is one of their newer ships with modern amenities with millions of dollars worth of artwork throughout. I always found something new regardless of how many times I walked the same path. I felt like the ship had a great layout and I never had difficulty finding my way after day 2. It just made sense where points of interests were located. I also seen that this ship is under constant upkeep. I always see crew either painting or cleaning, always making sure the ship is looking new and in great condition. It was also a perfect size being not too large at only 2,000 guests. Sure I've seen the same people over and over again which I loved but I never wondered why is it so crowded as crowds didn't exist except for day 1 at embarkation at the buffet which is expected. Cabin 4.7/5: We stayed in an AFT verandah cabin which I absolutely LOVED! The room was very well appointed for two people and we never felt like we didn't have space either for clothes, belongings, or just two people living together. The room was a great size and the bed was super (and I mean overly) comfortable bed. We never had a problem sleeping at night which could be a combination of not having internet or just the full days we had. We had the perfect room stewards Marko and Suko. Both were so quick at making our room up and cleaning it (albeit we aren't messy people and I actually clean before I leave the room as I feel bad for the long days most workers work...more on that later) and always worked around our schedule. The only downside of the room is it did feel a little outdated. I would love to see the bathroom and a few things updated. Again, how often are you in the room?! Although they did have a plentiful on demand selection of movies to watch. Dining 4.5/5: No matter what restaurant we went to we always had a great meal. The one restaurant that really stood out was the Pinnacle Grill. You may hear a few things about this restaurant, and the positive you hear is true! The service and food was phenomenal. The Pinnacle Grill restaurant is not included and costs $35 per person BUT I will say that price is justified. I included some photos of how many crab legs were included with my meal. We also ate at Lido Buffet and the Main Restaurant in addition to the pizza and burger place and I can honestly say I never had a bad meal. All of the food was very good! I do wish they had more Asian dishes. Why I rated it a 4.5 out of 5 as the food was a 5/5 is because whenever you go to a restaurant they really want you to buy drinks because the person selling the drinks gets an 18 percent tip. So when you order a glass of wine they will try to upsell a bottle. It just got a little pushy sometimes as I get they are just trying to make money but I don't like to be second guessed when I make a choice as "why don't you want a bottle as it's only 23 dollars more?". Overall they will leave you alone if you say "I'm fine" but I just don't like the high treasure sales tactics when I am on vacation. Entertainment and Activities 4.9/5: Now hear me out...we are on a ship in the middle of the ocean, how entertained do you want to be? I won't be critical of the entertainment on ship as I know for a fact the entertainers really gave it their all every night for several months. So into the review...The entertainment on board for the nighttime mainstage ranged from Billboard dancing to Latin Night which I found very entertaining. They also had a comedian and magician. I missed the comedian so we went to the magician with very low expectations and my face hurt from laughing so much. He was hilarious. Throughout the day the had other entertainment for all such as Windows 10 classes, floral arrangements, towel animals, piano request entertainment, and more! I'll be honest there wasn't a time on the schedule where I looked and didn't see something going on that I could attend. I just chose not to go to somethings as I wanted to relax. To end the review there is something for everyone on board and especially during At Sea days. Service 5/5: I work professionally in hospitality where we always use the 10ft rule. If someone is within 10ft of you, you acknowledge them. HAL must use the 25ft rule. When they either see you coming or approach they immediately focus on you and say hello and stop what they are doing. It was totally unexpected but something very small that made a huge difference. I felt like royalty on this ship. I still remember even the smallest request where we asked our room steward can we have ice on the first day for drinks. In the morning and at night they always made sure to refill our ice. Sure, I don't know if they did this for everyone but it was appreciated. Also we always order the same drinks when we go to the Billboard On Board bar and the staff always ask if they can get us the same drink. It was this that out of 2000 passengers made us feel like we were the only ones. Ports and Shore Excursions: I will review each port with a very small snippet review Grand Turk: 3.7/5 Maybe it was the excursion we picked or I don't know but I feel like when I wasn't on the tropical island that was raved about. Instead I felt like we were on a small private island that was commercialized. I would recommend snorkeling!! Puerto Rico: 4.8/5 Such a nice island! I been hear many times and even coming back multiple times there is just so much to do. This is a location where you don't need to book an excursion and just walk around if you are able. St. Thomas: 4.9/5 This island was my ultimate favorite on this entire itinerary! The island is just beautiful every way you look at it. What I would recommend is booking a Jeep or car and exploring the island yourself. There is so much to see and do but with a car you can do what you want to do. Why I took off such a small amount is because I been planning for us to dock at a certain port (Havensight) for months and constantly checked daily and even the ports calendar said we would dock at a certain location. Up until the moment we arrived we docked at Crown Bay which took quite a bit of logistical planning to get to Havensight for our Jeep. I would definitely book come back here. Half Moon Cay: 2.7/5 Sigh...and breathe. Now that I got that over with let me write my review. Let me say that this port had my biggest expectation which may have swayed my review. When we arrived we were made aware that the Koningsdam and us were the two ships that were docked at this port this day. Side information is that Half Moon Cay is owned by Carnival as their private island. The Konsingsdam holds a good amount of passengers and our ship holds a good amount of passengers. The island just felt very overwhelming and I didn't find it relaxing at all. We booked a Clam Shell three months in advanced which is an umbrella with two chairs. Since our ship was delayed by an hour for a medical emergency (no fault to anyone, things happen) we found it very difficult to find a chair. Every person we went to told us to go somewhere else. Finally we found a clamshell in front of a very loud family. We just head back to the ship after being on the island for 2 hours. The food on the island was very good and the staff that pulled the meal off was very good! Other: The crew is what makes the ship a solid 10/10 as they work such long days and are always looking for ways to make you happy. We booked a Retreat Cabana for the At Sea days and Korn and Raymond work such long days but always had a smile. I would say the crew is what makes Nieuw Amsterdam the ship that it is. My very minor (is he really complaining about theses things?) complaint section: Some very minor things that didn't change my trip at all but I thought I could always add it below. - I found the bathrooms to be adequate size but the toilet seats to be very small. I am by no means a big guy being 5'7 and 145 pounds but they just seemed small. - There was no midnight buffets or late night dining options past 11:30pm except for room service. I wish they had a buffet at midnight or maybe a specialty snack station. But knowing the demographics of the ship maybe midnight really is too late. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
We arrived a day early in Fort Lauderdale and stayed at Embassy Suites near the Cruise Port. We ended up taking the hotel's shuttle as Uber was too busy, we knew the cost was $9/person for the service. Hotel did not have room ready so ... Read More
We arrived a day early in Fort Lauderdale and stayed at Embassy Suites near the Cruise Port. We ended up taking the hotel's shuttle as Uber was too busy, we knew the cost was $9/person for the service. Hotel did not have room ready so they gave us dining credit at their restaurant, which was mediocre even for free food. Embassy has a nice pool, coy ponds and water fall and conveniently located in front of Total Wine, a grocery store and restaurants for those that want to load up on soda, wine etc to take on the cruise. Picked up Uber at the hotel for $15 to pier 21. Took under 5 minutes to get through security at 11:15 and we were on the ship and in our room before 12pm as group 12 to embark. Easy. Checked out the ship, grabbed lunch at the Lido and hit the pool with the kids. The Edge was parked next to us, it is a beautiful giant ship. We were the last to leave of 7 ships in port that day just after 5pm. We sat down at dinner after 6 on level 2 for Open Dining. This was our least favorite experience of our week on NA. The waiter and his assistant were less than good at being waiters. As parents of kids with allergies we know it is our responsibility to check what has nuts and what doesn't, but HAL makes a big deal about allergy issues during our registration and express document so one would think that this would be taken care of when we sit down for dinner. On our previous cruise the assistant maitre d' discussed the allergy with my daughter prior to us getting food at the table, this time nothing not even the waiter asking anyone at the table. I found this odd. We watched one of our dishes be offered to the adjacent table and then placed back on what I call the waiter stand with the other three dishes for almost 10 minutes before it was served to us.... It doesn't matter what the dish is it isn't boing to be great after that long, our snapper was average the kids' steaks were not great. Ordered dessert and decaf, received regular and the wrong dessert. Anyway we knew what section not to be in the rest of the week. Sea day was relaxing, beautiful sunrise in the morning from the Explorer's Cafe. The kids and I ate in the Lido and one of them noticed a dolphin jump off the side of the ship that we enjoyed briefly of another few jumps, lucky. Lido breakfast is very good, fresh made eggs nearly anyway you want including omelets, poached and fried; but scrambled are pre-made. We love the eggs and crepe stations along with what else bacon. The chocolate croissants seemed to find my plate each morning as well. The service is always with a smile and the service at the tables for drink refills is impeccable. Lunch at the Dive-in for burgers, hot dogs chicken sandwiches and maybe the best fries you will ever have. The taco bar in the lido makes a nice guacamole and chip dish for a nice snack at the pool as well. Dinner at 5:15 as the reservation line for Open dining pushed us to have that or 745. You can also show up without a reservation anytime between 515 and 8 to be seated. They turned people away after 8 pm. We had a window table for the four of us this evening and had a wonderful waiter, Putu Subeka. First words out of his mouth were "does anyone have food allergies?" Made me realize that our first waiter failed at this step in his training. We requested Putu's section each night thereafter. He remembered how we liked steaks cooked the next night and that our daughter had a nut allergy, made recommendations of what we might like each night and that portions of certain dishes may be smaller than we would like... so order more than what the initial dish. He made our dining experience more enjoyable and we thank him for that. Favorite dinners were Gala night filet and lobster (don't be shy ask for another tail) and the veal cutlets. The veal was amazing! Our girls enjoy the steaks that we learned our a little cooked a little past what we prefer so we ordered them medium instead of medium well and that was to their liking. HAL has several dishes on the menu each night that don't change French Onion Soup, a salad, Salmon and a New York Strip steak. The steak now has a peppercorn sauce that we didn't enjoy, once ordered without this sauce it is a nice steak. Other dishes that stood out were the mushroom risotto as an excellent dish the, shrimp cocktail and coconut shrimp were our favorite appetizers. The first stop was Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos. We were on the port side of the ship and felt like we were at the beach the pier is so close... I had a call to be on so unfortunately we didn't do an excursion here. The beach is nice, but I suggest going to the other side of the pier as the snorkeling is better and you're not staring at the ships. We were going to walk around the corner of the island for better snorkeling, but the sea was a little rough due to a storm blowing in, I had read the snorkeling was better there. We did see an octopus, huge barracuda and some coral, but unfortunately too many people walk on the coral in the shallow water and it is having a hard time recovering from the hurricane. There are better beach stops that Grand Turk, explore the island rather than sit at a small beach. Next port Old San Juan, PR. We had been here in the past for a long weekend so felt comfortable driving (warning the locals don't know how to use blinkers and often cut from one side of the freeway to the opposite to exit - worse than all of the bad Chicagoan drivers I know). We took and Uber to the airport to get a rental car for the day. Unfortunately getting in at 1pm and all aboard at 10:30 didnt allow us to see the forts, rainforest and beaches in one trip. We elected to show the kids the only rainforest in the USA, El Yunque, though it was beat up by Hurricane Maria. Half of this national forest is still closed, you can see several waterfalls from the road or short hike, but the best waterfall and hike in the park are still closed; El Mina Falls. The lookout which allows you to see the sea from the forest is still open. We saw and felt the waterfalls, found a bunch of lizards and decided to hit the beach. We chose to go the Isla Verde as it is beautiful and close to the airport for our rental return (the airport car rentals are open 24/7 vs most in OSJ that close at between 4 and 5). Great beach for perfect body surfing waves, chilling in clean soft sand. Stayed here past sunset and the other 3 got no-seeum bites due to this.... lesson learned. This was our favorite beach of the trip and only one with waves. The other beach that is easy to reach via car/Uber is Condado both are in safe areas with plenty of security. Back to return the rental car. Uber cannot pick up at SJU yet, so it was a $24 taxi ride back to the ship for a shower. Plenty of time to shop though many of the shops closed at 6 or 7. We walked by CVS/Walgreens along the water and then up towards OSJ and there was a gift shop open within 4 blocks of the water. Good selection of shirts, trinkets, and normal souvenir junk. Walked around SJU to show the kids the European feel of the city and paver streets. Such a cool city. Off to grab some Lido ice cream and a movie in the room. Our third stop in as many days was St. Thomas. We docked at sunrise in a gorgeous port staring at the island and its hills/mountains. We have snorkeled around much of North America and won't go on a "cattlemaran" with 50 plus people. I found a small charter called Bama Breeze V.I. who would customize the trip to our liking. I highly recommend them for any of your boating needs in the USVI, our only disappointment was that we booked the half day instead of the full day. Pay the extra to be picked up near your ship as we did. My phone plan through Verizon allows us to use our phones in US Territories so I was able to call the charter that our planned docking location had changed. We snorkeled in the crystal clear waters of Buck Island above a shipwreck and along the shoreline that has beautiful coral that is regrowing and is nearly recovered from the recent hurricanes. We saw a giant stingray buried in the sand and two octopi amounts the dozens of fish species, great spot. There were other tours here, but we were able to stay away from them for the most part. Off to Water Island for a rest stop and then to Honeymoon Beach (on Water Island). Honeymoon beach is protected in a bay is a marina, has several bars, the softest white sand, grassy swim area, and lots of TURTLES. We swam/snorkeled with 7 or 8 turtles here for nearly an hour. They are truly amazing to watch in the water and so rare to see that many at once. You can take a ferry from the mainland to Water Island. Captain Doug dropped us near the ship. A quick change and off to downtown for a souvenir or two. St. Thomas has open sided vans that they use for taxis, they drive on the wrong side of the road and frankly there was no way I was driving here. $4 per person to get a ride to downtown on the taxi. Found the market to be lackluster and headed to a shop. The taxi dropped me off at the grocery store, Pueblo (I think), for Dt. Mountain Dew. That is right Dt. Mountain Dew on St. Thomas, not in or on Puerto Rico. My wife is addicted to it so we needed to get a 12 pack, $6 wasn't bad for an island stop and well worth it for my wife. The "supermarket" as they call it is a short walk from Crow or Crown Bay (people called it both). A relaxing sea day followed by a tender ride to Half Moon Cay. While the beach at HMC is gorgeous, it is fairly crowded with 2 ships in for the day, the food is below average at the "cook out" and the swimming areas are fairly small. This was our least favorite stop on the Eastern Caribbean Voyage. Disembarkation day was a quick breakfast, finish packing and then waited in the US customs line for maybe 15 minutes. Easy. Uber to the airport and on our way home to cold WI. No vacation is perfect, but this one was amazing. We made memories as a family, had a lot of laughs, wonderful service, delicious food and met a lot of friendly people along the way. Thank you HAL for taking great care of us and putting your best foot forward for your guests. I almost forgot, the captain came on the loudspeaker at 630p on our last sea day to make an announcement to tell passengers to stay off the open decks and balconies. One of our fellow passengers had to be evacuated off the ship... A somber moment in our cruise, we were told the passenger made it to the hospital and was doing well... We pray that this passenger and the family are doing well. We hadn't seen this before and it certainly amazing that the Coast Guard is able to take someone from the ship within a moments notice (an hour or so...) talented selfless people. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
We had a a group that ranged from kids to seniors on a Thanksgiving Cruise. We are avid cruisers but had never been on Holland America. We all loved it! The food was amazing and the entertainment was better than we expected. The evening ... Read More
We had a a group that ranged from kids to seniors on a Thanksgiving Cruise. We are avid cruisers but had never been on Holland America. We all loved it! The food was amazing and the entertainment was better than we expected. The evening music options were fantastic. The ship was kept immaculate and had the most attentive crew onboard. They definitely had less of a party vibe and a more relaxed, calmer mature feel to the ship. I heard that there are plenty of kids on board when it’s a holiday or summer. I enjoyed the quieter aspects of it but could see how a younger adult crowd might want a little more excitement. The kids club was fun for the kids but very basic as far as the activities planned. It was a mixture of games with a little arts and crafts mixed in. Their private island was fantastic with plenty of beach chairs and a gorgeous beach and view. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
The Nieuw Amsterdam to the Eastern Caribbean was an excellent choice for an anniversary getaway - we enjoyed exceptional service, good to very good food, a quiet stateroom with a spacious balcony, and extended time in the four ports of ... Read More
The Nieuw Amsterdam to the Eastern Caribbean was an excellent choice for an anniversary getaway - we enjoyed exceptional service, good to very good food, a quiet stateroom with a spacious balcony, and extended time in the four ports of call. My wife an I are in our mid 40s, and found that we were definitely younger than the average age, there was a wide range of passengers from young to old on our mid-november sailing. Embarkation: from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale was organized, but slower than previous HAL cruises. We arrived at the port at 10:30, were fully checked in by 11, boarding began at 11:30, and we were finally onboard by 12:15. On previous cruises we were onboard by 11:30. Our cabin was ready when we boarded, however, and disembarkation was quick and efficient. The Ship: we have sailed on Holland America's R-class vessels previously; this was our first cruise on a larger Signature class ship. While we enjoyed the additional dining and entertainment options, and found the Nieuw Amsterdam to be very well maintained, the larger size and passenger numbers were noticeable at times. My wife and I prefer traditional, uncrowded ships -- and while we greatly enjoyed our cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam, we concluded the smaller ships are more to our liking. Cabin: We had a forward VE class balcony stateroom, 7013. The room was just right for two passengers, well appointed, very quiet, and with a wonderful balcony. We spent every evening and many hours of the day on the balcony, enjoying sound of the sea and the view of the water and stars. There were two reclinable chairs, separate footrests / ottomans, and a small table on the balcony. As there are staterooms above and below deck 7, we never heard noise from other areas of the ship. The interactive TV has 150+ movies on demand, the daily menus, five live TV channels (all news), and information about weather, ship position, and ports of call. The bathroom features a single sink, tub/shower combination, and Elemis toiletries. Service: Outstanding, as always for HAL. We were greeted by name by our cabin attendants, and everyone on the ship looked for opportunities to attend to and anticipate our needs. The one exception was staff onshore at HAL's private island, Half Moon Cay. Some of the Half Moon Cay staff were helpful, but several were brusque or rude when we asked questions or requested directions to places on the island. When a horseback riding shore excursion on Half Moon Cay ran long, we were dropped off at the island BBQ at 12:50, ahead of their 1 PM closing. Staff were already taking down the buffet, and refused to serve us lunch. As a result, we had to head back to the ship early for lunch rather than enjoying Half Moon Cay's beach. Dining: Food ranged from good to very good. As a foodie, none of the dishes were outstanding, but none of them were poor either. Dinner in the Tamarind restaurant was the best meal and dinner service we have experienced on a Holland America ship. Room service was efficient and complimentary - we enjoyed two dinners in our cabin, and had coffee and tea delivered to the room every morning. We also loved the high tea, served in the main dining room on fine china at 3 PM each afternoon. Entertainment: We loved Lincoln Center Stage - world class, classical chamber music performed in a dedicated concert venue - and attended their performances almost every night. BBC Earth, highlights from the series set to a live performance of the score, was wonderful. We also attended two enjoyable, if simple, America's Test Kitchen cooking demonstrations. HAL does not have the showy, nonstop entertainment offered by some other lines, and young children would find entertainment outside of the kids club to be limited to swimming in the pool, but we loved the more sophisticated approach to entertainment. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We chose this ship specifically because of its BB King’s Blue Club. We’d been on another Holland America ship where the same club was the best part of the voyage. But no—this club barely played any blues at all. ... Read More
We chose this ship specifically because of its BB King’s Blue Club. We’d been on another Holland America ship where the same club was the best part of the voyage. But no—this club barely played any blues at all. Imagine ordering steak at a restaurant and being served a hot dog. “But this is what we call a steak.” OK, HAL, you want to play to a different market, fine. But don’t advertise as something you’re not. The food was sub par. Having ordered a dessert with fruit and macadamia nuts, the plate arrived with one blueberry cut in half, a thin slice of a strawberry, and one macadamia nut cut into pieces. Order a hot dog with onions at the outdoor grill, and it comes with onions and relish. Instead of buying into anything with scrambled eggs at breakfast (never made with freshly prepared eggs), we ordered eggs over. More often than not, we had to send them back to the kitchen because they arrived too hard or too soft. (This occurred in the restaurant reserved for suite guests—not many people there in the morning.). Sandwiches were gross: the roast beef had more fat than beef. Another annoyance. Given that the main breakfast and lunch venue was generally overcrowded, you’d expect that the crew would be quick to clean tables. It often took up to three requests for a table to be cleaned so we could sit down (this while we were holding plates of food). The women’s locker room at the spa was a real disappointment. All three showers had wet mats, and dirty towels were strewn around the changing rooms. Undraped windows (docked next to another ship)—how uncomfortable to realize that people could look directly into the massage and locker rooms. The women’s spa had showers but no combs, no Q-tips, no spray deodorant. Did I mention that the WiFi was very spotty and didn’t work with all Kindle readers? Unless you travel in a scooter or wheelchair and prefer a ship with many other people who do as well, you might want to stay away from the Holland America line. In short, the ship was a disappointment at a high cost. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
It was recommended to us for first time cruisers,l but we will not be last time cruisers. Really enjoyed the whole week. "Staff could not do enough for you, always smile on their faces, always a hi or morning. Ports were excellent, ... Read More
It was recommended to us for first time cruisers,l but we will not be last time cruisers. Really enjoyed the whole week. "Staff could not do enough for you, always smile on their faces, always a hi or morning. Ports were excellent, staff on the beach were great, always towels in the pool areas, food always hot and fresh, The staff were not pushy for drinks if you did not want any, of they would come ask and replenish when needed. Weather was super, not much swaying of the ship either and if there was going to be the capitan woud certainly let us know in plenty of advance. Room service was always available for any meal and inbetween as well and on time. I am looking into booking another cruise for next November to Turks and Cacos on the same ship and hopefully the same room and same staff Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
We booked this cruise because we were joining fellow submarine veterans for our annual convention. The check-in and embarkation was very well handled. We were told that our cabin was not ready and that we should have lunch in the Lido. ... Read More
We booked this cruise because we were joining fellow submarine veterans for our annual convention. The check-in and embarkation was very well handled. We were told that our cabin was not ready and that we should have lunch in the Lido. The dining room was not open. The lunch was mediocre. No. 1: Sunday, October 21, we moved into our cabin, 8026, at 12:30 and it was warm. I turned the warmer/cooler gauge to the coolest setting but not much happened. I called Guest Services at 1:30 and someone came about an hour later with a temperature sensor. She stated that the temperature was 75°F, and “that’s cool”. I have asthma and keep my house at 66°F so I don’t consider 75°F cool. It was still warm all night and I didn’t sleep at all. I called again on Monday and someone came but nothing really happened until late that afternoon. On and off, the cabin was overly warm during the cruise. On a previous HAL cruise on the Köingsdam I could actually set the temperature to 66°F. No. 2: Sunday, October 21, when I went into the bathroom to use the toilet and opened the lid, the stench was that of the dirty men’s room in a run down gas station. Before I had an opportunity to call Guest Services, our cabin steward delivered our luggage and I asked him to clean the toilet. I could tell that he didn’t believe me when I said it stank, until he opened the lid. He made a face so I know he thought it was bad. No. 3: While the steward was cleaning the toilet, I noticed that a crew was chipping paint above our veranda. I looked out and saw that the chairs, the deck and the railings were covered in debris. I asked the steward to please clean the veranda. I could tell he wasn’t pleased to see how dirty it was. This is a classic example of the maintenance supervisor not talking to the housekeeping supervisor. If they did speak with each other, maintenance would have told housekeeping that the verandas would need cleaning. I spoke with my neighbors when out on the veranda the next morning and their verandas were filthy; I told them about the chipping and that they should ask to have them cleaned. No. 4: The grout lines in the shower area of the bathroom were covered in mildew. I ran my fingernail on one of them and was able to remove some mildew; however, most was completely ingrained in the grout. I didn’t bother to ask that it be cleaned because it will take hours to properly clean it. No. 5: The plastic cover on the shower seat was badly cracked and the plastic was rather sharp. There does not appear to be anyone who actually inspects the cabins and the stewards certainly don’t have time. No. 6: The hem of the shower curtain was filthy; obviously it is not washed between passengers. Again, attention to detail is lacking. No. 7: The first morning when I used the hair dryer it caught fire. I called Guest Services to report it and request another and was asked “did you unplug it?” Of course I unplugged it as soon as it started burning, I am not stupid. The hair dryer catching fire is not what I am unhappy about, it was the suggestion that I was so stupid that I would not know to unplug a burning hair dryer. No. 8: There are only 2 outlets in the cabin and none by the bedsides. I have a CPAP machine so I had to request an extension cord. I was given a heavy duty yellow one to run under the bed from the desk. More than 2 outlets should be available and they should be on the bedsides. No. 9: The TV is hung to the left of the bed so that the person on the far side has to get a crick in their neck if they want to watch. It wouldn’t be so bad if it could be swiveled out to face the bed. But really, why would they hang a picture in the center of the wall at the foot of the bed and the TV off to the left side? Do they think that we want to line up the 2 chairs by the desk to watch? No. 10: Robe hooks should be either on the inside of the closet doors or high enough on the bathroom door to hang a robe. Because we had a handicap shower, someone thought that the hooks should be only waist high. This is of no use to anyone, including someone in a wheelchair because you cannot hang up the robes in the bathroom unless you want 3 feet of them dragging the floor. I would think that the chances of having both occupants of the cabin in a wheelchair are rather slim. The non-wheelchair bound passenger can hang the robes for both. Also, at their current height, the hooks easily catch you on the arm when going in or out of the bathroom. I did more than once. No. 11: Accumulated dust and debris in most corners and around most baseboards throughout the ship. I was an officer in the US Navy and they trained us to look high and look low because those are the areas that most don’t see. Old habits never die; I still look high and low everywhere I go. The Navy takes cleanliness very seriously because of the threat of seaborne illnesses. I don’t think the ship is staffed to actually keep the ship as clean as it should be and the turnover time between cruises is insufficient to for the cabin stewards to properly clean the cabins. I know that port costs are high and they want the ship at sea as quickly as possible. However, if passengers were told that they would embark, that the ship would get underway and that they would eat lunch before they could get into their cabins in order for them to be thoroughly cleaned, I think that most would appreciate that their cabins were actually clean when they moved in. There are plenty of public spaces and lunch could be served in the dining room as well as the Lido to keep everyone comfortable while they waited for their cabins. I am glad I brought sanitizing wipes to go over every surface in the cabin. No. 12: The food served in the dining room was merely OK. I would rate the food to that of a chain restaurant. The desserts were especially disappointing. The service in the dining room was generally very good, however, the timing of courses was off; we finished our coffee before dessert arrived or finished our dessert before the coffee arrived, it was never the same 2 nights in a row. The Lido is nothing more than a cafeteria and I only eat there when forced; unfortunately this was every lunch when in port. No. 13: I am allergic to capsaicin, the chemical that makes all chilies hot. I have sailed with HAL before and recorded my allergy when I checked in on-line and not had a problem. I informed our waiter the first time we ate in the dining room. Most evenings I asked what had chilies in it and was steered away, it was never volunteered. At one meal every menu item had some sort of chili in it. I was given a piece of fish that was prepared without the chilies, or much taste and it was overcooked. On the final night I ordered the seafood deviled eggs as my first course. I was not warned away from them. After I had eaten both eggs I felt a slight tingling in my mouth, the signal that capsaicin was present. At this point, it is too late to stop the reaction; I had sores in my mouth and down my throat for the next week. When a member of the culinary staff stopped by the table I mentioned that I did not appreciate getting something with chilies in it, and I said that I thought it was cayenne in the eggs. He did report my unhappiness to the supervisor who came over and said that they didn’t realize that cayenne was a chili! She also said I should have been given the menu the night before (which did happen on the Köingsdam) but that was not offered during this cruise. I am not sure what culinary training the kitchen staff receives, but I would think that they should know what is and what isn’t a chili. I also believe that the use of chilies is overdone these days, especially if catering to an older crowd who may have dietary restrictions and problems, but that, of coarse, is just my opinion. No. 14: No specialty coffee card; just a very expensive $60+ per day per person in the cabin beverage packages. We don’t drink much alcohol and might have 1 bottle of wine and a couple of drinks during the entire cruise. We also don’t ever drink sodas and would never buy bottled water and only want 1 latte a day. We certainly could not possibly drink $120+ in one day to make the beverage package worth while. Sell a speciality card with a price break like Princess Cruises. And, sell specialty coffee in more than the Crow’s Nest. It is quite the trek to get one if you happen to be aft when the urge strikes. No. 15 Previously we sailed the Köingsdam from Ft. Lauderdale through the Mediterranean and the afternoon tea was a very different and more enjoyable experience than on the nieuw Amsterdam. There we were served in one of the lounges and had individual tea pots and the sandwiches and sweets were very nice. On the nieuw Amsterdam it was held in the dining room and we were served tasteless/watery tea by a waiter and had to beg for a second cup. The sandwiches were rather stale as were the sweets. We felt very rushed and were even told we needed to leave so that they could set up for dinner. We decided to avoid any future afternoon teas since we thought that we could make our own “tea” by going to the Crow’s Nest and getting some tea sandwiches and sweets as we could on the Köingsdam, but no, there are no tea sandwiches served in the Crow’s Nest on the nieuw Amsterdam. We did without. As I said, we were part of a large group and the ship did their best to take care of the large meetings. We just did not think it was the advertised 5 star experience. More 2 stars. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Just back from a 7 night voyage on the Holland America ms Nieuw Amsterdam from Ft. Lauderdale to Half Moon Cay, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, October 21-28, 2018. Commanded by Capt. Jeroen van Donselaar with Nick Reirsgard as our ... Read More
Just back from a 7 night voyage on the Holland America ms Nieuw Amsterdam from Ft. Lauderdale to Half Moon Cay, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, October 21-28, 2018. Commanded by Capt. Jeroen van Donselaar with Nick Reirsgard as our cruise director. I tend to sail HAL most. I enjoy the more classic sailings with some degree of refinement, yet with a spectrum of live music and activities. I prefer smaller ship so I can get to know people. The state rooms on HAL are very generous and there are a lot of little touches that make a difference. Prior to this sailing, it had been nearly 4 years since being on HAL, and I did note a few changes. Some not necessarily for the best, but in all, as you will read, it was a great vacation on a wonderful ship. I also have a fun cruise blog at http://penguinlust.blogspot.com/2018/10/nieuw-amsterdam-for-new-penguin.html Checking in: 8 of 10 The port terminal in Ft. Lauderdale (terminal 26) is a nice terminal. I arrived from my hotel around 1045am. There was a small line to get through security, but it only took about 3 minutes to get to the screeners. I did have some liquids, and a bottle of wine, but no one made mention of it. I fully expected to be called out on the alcohol in my bag. The line to check in was much slower than usual, however, when I got to the counter, it was very quick. Perhaps not everyone was checked in on line and ready to go. Next, to the waiting area, which was comfortable, but not remarkable. There was a time I recall there being cookies and water/lemonade, but there was no sign of this until going upstairs, where the suite guests can wait separately from us heathens. I would think suite guests would get better than just cookies and water/lemonade. I don’t recall the exact time, but around noon, the announcements were made to go upstairs to board the ship. The group numbers were called fairly quickly. It’s easy to bypass the photographers if you don’t want to pose for a photo as you board. I always do. On the ship, we were welcomed by staff and it was easy to find directions. State rooms were not ready yet, but the restaurants were all open. I went straight to deck 9 for a pizza. By the time I was done with lunch, the announcement had been made that state rooms were ready. My bag would be waiting for me within 3 hours. If you plan on changing or need anything from your checked bag, make sure you have it in your smaller carry on. Staff: 10 of 10 I am not sure why I rate staff. Every ship has about the best. There are a few things of note, however, so I’ll start with that. Cabin attendants are happy and cheerful. I always have a few minor requests, such as removing the down blanket and instead, using 2 sheets, removing all items from the mini bar/fridge, and making sure I had plenty of ice every afternoon and evening. They were happy to oblige and never failed. They even quickly learned that I do not like my trash can under the desk, and by day 3, I no longer had to move it out every day- they knew. I really appreciated that. Day one, I left my cabin for breakfast and explored the ship while we were in Half Moon Cay. I didn’t plan on leaving the ship, so there was a lot to explore. I returned to my cabin around 1pm to find that it had not been made up! I didn’t see anyone in the hall. I called to inquire what was amiss. I was asked if I had placed the small card in the key slot. One side of the card is do not disturb. The other side is make up room. I learned fast that one must put this card in the door. Gone are the days when you’d see the attendants in the hallway, where they could see you come and go and know when to attack your room. Maybe it’s better on them, and once I understood this new system, it worked just fine for me. I stopped by a wine table before we embarked to ask about a wine package I saw on line. It was not in the printed materials on the ship. A steward took my room and name info and told me he’d call with the information on the wine package. I never heard from him again. Bar attendants are much less pushy than in the past. There were quite a few times I would enter a bar area and never was approached by anyone. I feel, for the most part, they know when someone wants something, so in a way, I’m very happy they no longer come right over to ask what you want from the bar. There were, however, a few times I did want something, it took a long time to get someone to come over. I would rather it be this way, than the old. So this was good. Everyone I encountered was friendly and polite, even if they were not part of the team who normally interfaces with passengers. I never did see the cruise director or captain outside of their functions. Maybe I’m used to ocean crossings, where you tend to see them mingling with the passengers more, but outside of a show, I never saw them, and I never left the ship and stayed mainly in public spaces. There were 2 times (in a row) where I ordered pizza and they got the order wrong. The first time, an extra ingredient was added. The next, one topping I wanted was not included. The 2nd day I ordered a burger from The Dive In, it took over half an hour before I was notified. I think something happened to my order. There were a few times I noticed things overlooked. In the thermal spa whirlpool, for 2 days sat a collection of bobby pins and hair bands someone left behind. For 3 days, the same spoon rested next to the whirlpool of the Sea View Pool. I finally called someone over and asked if they could remove it. Good thing I’m not reviewing the kindness of fellow passengers! Other than these few incidents, the ship and pool areas were clean and tidy. Ship: 10 of 10 What a great ship! There was never a time where I saw anything and thought to myself that this ship was in need of repairs or modernizing. There were no stains or worn fabric on chairs, scuff marks or major issues. Sure, there were a few leaks, one in the Ocean Bar, another in the lounge area of the spa, but those happen and were dealt with accordingly. The decor was very stately in all public areas. I loved the rich reds in the main dining room. The Lido looked professional. They also did a very good job of keeping most public space windows clean, doing so in ports of call. This is about as large a ship as I ever want to sail on. It never felt crowded or full, and I highly suspect that there were open cabins, based on the empty seats nightly in the MDR. She was easy to get around on, but also, it was easy to get turned around. Cabin: 6 of 10 Here is where I found the greatest amount of unease on this ship. While a great size with lots of storage and drawers, and plenty of room for my large suitcase under the bed, there were several areas that needed attention. The water knob in the sink was broken. It was functional, but not attractive. Next to the ice bucket, the counter top laminate was buckling and worn. There was a similar issue on my night stand. It was a bit awkward trying to navigate the hallway between the bathroom and the closets when the closet doors were open, such as when unpacking or getting dressed for dinner. The doors only open to 90 degrees. The view was better than I expected, considering I booked an ocean view room with fully obstructed views. I could still the horizon and much of the sky. Lucky for me, one day was a life boat drill, so the life boat was lowered and I had a full view. I was impressed with the fitness center. It was a large space with a great variety of machines (no butterfly machine for arm day) and a great view over the bow. So glad there were no annoying TVs in your face on the machines. You can watch TV on the machines at home. You’re at sea, you should be seeing the sea! I paid for the thermal spa package, which includes steam rooms, relaxing loungers, use of the lockers, and the large whirlpool. I’ve had issues in the past using this package when having to share it with people who don’t know the meaning of a quiet room, or who think it’s OK to eat lunch with your glass (real glass) of wine next to the whirlpool. I do wish they would give other passengers a list of spa etiquette suggestions (rules, if you must), but on this voyage, that was not necessary. No more art auctions. There is a gallery on board, and art can be purchased, however, on this sailing, they had culled much art inspired by the Caribbean. I came half expecting to buy a new Peter Max or find some other great inspired piece for my new dining room, but that didn’t happen. The photographers were on board, and never pushy to take photos or ask for sales. In fact, I had an issue arise with my new camera, and they were quite willing to bend over backwards to assist me. Food: 10 of 10 As always, HAL has outdone themselves in the food department. To this day, I still have yet to have a bad meal on HAL. The food is always fresh and for the most part, flavorful. There were a few times I had to salt up soup or spice up a dish to my liking, but that’s normal when feeding hundreds of guests with varying tastes. I expected the normal halved lobster tales on steak and lobster night, and regretted ordering 4 tales. Fortunately, they only brought out 2 at a time! These were no halves, and while not huge, 2 was plenty. The steak was delicious. Every dinner had eyes rolling and conversations go quiet. I only ate in the Lido buffet one day for lunch and 2 nights at the late buffet. It was always hot and tasty and surprisingly crisp. The Dive In burgers were very good and the pizza was delicious! My only issue, as stated above, was in having 2 pizzas made incorrectly in a row. There were a great variety of breakfast items, ranging from healthy to not at all. There was never really a time when it was hard to find food. The Lido Market was open 7am-1030am, then 1130-2 for lunch, 530-830pm for dinner and only a scant hour, 1030-1130pm for late night dining. The New York pizza station was open 1130-1130pm every day, and Dive In was open 1130-530pm. In room dining was 24 hours and 90% was free of charge. They now charge for burgers and have a few other items on the menu as well. I ordered a few times, enjoying the fruit plate and a sandwich with chips and some coffee. The famous bread pudding is now kept out of reach, in the dessert station. At first, I thought it was gone, but later saw it sitting back there. The desserts are all very good, unfortunately. My first few sailings found the desserts to be a bit bland, which I loved, meaning I’d eat less of them. Not the case here! I can save HAL a bit of money. Order fewer onions. They are everywhere! Egg salad? Check. Tuna salad? Check. Sandwiches? Check. The extra ingredient I got on my pizza? You guessed, it, they added onions!!!! For the life of me, I don’t understand why they don’t just point out that the sandwich area has onions. If you want it in your egg and tuna salad, you can easily add it. But for those of us with onion phobia, if you will, it cannot be removed. I so wanted a tuna sandwich on this voyage! The breads are still made fresh daily. I could smell them on deck! You can tell in the texture and taste that they were made only a few hours prior. Fantastic food on this voyage, as usual. My big gripe is the timing of the late night buffet. It’s only open for one hour and so close following the main seating, that it was always gone by the time I wanted to eat again, around midnight! Plus, with all the action going on down on deck 2 forward, you have to go all the way up to deck 8 aft to grab a bite. I really wish they could bring a table of food out near the casino. Pre wrapped sandwiches with chips, a tray of hot snacks with serviettes and tooth picks, set up a water station or something. It would just be nice to have a snack option available at 1230am when you’re down partying on 2 forward. With my wine package was included one dinner in the Pinnacle Grill. I would never have purchased the meal, otherwise. First of all, I had a very hard time getting a reservation. On Wednesday morning, I called to make one for Thursday night, being told it was booked. It was the same on Friday. Saturday, I had dinner plans with staff in the MDR. A few calls were made and I was now told I could be sat at a table for 2 at 530 or 8pm. I chose 530 because there was only one show at 930, and I didn’t want to miss it. When I arrived at 530, I was told I was on the standby list, they were booked, and no one had yet to cancel. I protested that had I known this, I would have made other plans. A few comments were made between the two at the host stand, and soon I was being sat at a 2-top near the window. The last time I ate here, 4 years ago, I was enabled to order, or taste, 2 of the main dishes. I was told they now charge another fee for ordering more than one dish. I never saw this in writing on the menu, but maybe I wasn’t looking, going on past experience. The food was very good and the service quite nice. The dining room is elegant. I thought the food in the MDR was equally as good, however, especially considering that it had already been paid for. I really just have no desire to experience the specialty restaurants! What really upset me as I left at 645pm, was counting 9 open tables, two of which were 2-tops, and they had remained open since my arrival at 530, when I had been told I was wait listed because they were booked! Something smells funny in Denmark! Entertainment: 8 of 10 As a brand ambassador, I’m always asked what I like so much about HAL. I always include how much I love to sit and listen to classical music with a glass of wine before dinner. Was a time they started playing just before the early dining. They took a break, played a few songs in the dining room, then returned for another round before the second seating. Gone. Now, there are scheduled shows in what is now called the Lincoln Center Stage. Some nights, the band was off, so there was nothing. I’m so disappointed in this change. I was unable to attend a single show of the group who performed. I heard wonderful things about them. I hope you can make a show! The main stage still had a cast, and they performed 3 times for us. The first night was a little showcase teaser. The second show, called One World, was one of the best shows at sea that I’ve ever seen. The dancing was spot-on, the voices tremendous, the sets were dazzling, and the costuming amazing! Sure, the songs were mostly from what you might have heard in the 80s, such as from Enya, Toto and the like, but it was terrific! I was never impressed with what Stiletto Entertainment provided, the new company seems much better. Plus, HAL has invested over $3 million in the new lighted panels on the stage. Much improved! After the show, one can enjoy the newly billed “Music Walk”, from the BB Kings All Stars, who really get booties shaking with great live music of the blues and rock genres. The Billboard Onboard bar has a piano duo (Michael and Megan on this cruise) who were amazing! Each night they hammered out hit after hit, inviting everyone to sing along. Lots of requests, so keep your favorites in mind! One night was a brilliant show, Planet Earth in Concert- a combination of live music set against a backdrop of breathtaking footage from BBC Earth. Another night was comedian Derrick Cameron, and a third act brought on board was vocalist and comedy impressionist, Tricia Kelly, who in her second act had lost much of her voice, which was disappointing, as she was talented. The HALCats are gone, but there is still a band on board, who seem to have a lot of time free. I wish they played live music for the sail aways, as there really was not a single sail away party in the entirety of the week. Sure, they were too loud playing by the Lido Pool at 1pm, but unplug their instruments or let them play in the Sea View area out back, where the sound won’t be as contained. There are so many musicians on board, and I just felt like they were being under utilized. There is a lot of talk about entertainment changes coming to HAL. I did get confirmation that on the larger ships, there will no longer be a HAL cast putting on shows, but they will rely more and more on smaller acts. HAL hopes to add more to the Music Walk, but as I mentioned to Nick, our CD, I enjoy dinner and a show and don’t want to be expected to have to chase down my entertainment, even if it might help work off dinner! The HAL VP of entertainment was boarding the ship the day we returned. How I wish I could have sailed with him. I would have loved to bend his ear. Overall: 9 of 10 You’ve read that I had a few issues. All were minor and none impacted my vacation to a point that I would have taken notice, except that I am a travel expert and truly enjoy posting reviews. I loved the ship and staff. I loved that there were never more than 2 announcements in a given day. There is a new app you can use on board, called Navigator. It was very handy, but needs improvement. On your personal device, you can see the When and Where guide, you can create your own agenda, which really helps one figure out what they decided they wanted to do earlier in the day without having to look at the entire paper guide. My issue with this method is that one must open the Wi-Fi on their device to access the Navigator. Then, you have to turn it back off, or your device will keep looking to connect and burn through it’s battery charge. I wish you could keep a copy of your agenda off line, and that you could also add your own agenda items, if you make plans that are not included in the guide. I had a few customer service issues before my trip that I’m still in need of working out with corporate, and I have a feeling they won’t be decided in my favor. In one case, I was given bad info by one of their reps that cost me more money. The other issue is a timed issue that I wish they would give me a small compensation for having missed the window of opportunity, but since the reason I had to do so was related to home damage from Hurricane Harvey, I’d like to think that HAL would bend over backwards to accommodate my needs just a bit. I’m not asking for the face value of the original offer, I’d accept less to feel compensated. Again, these are issues that didn’t affect the quality of my vacation time. I am, however, concerned that I was hearing quite a few other passengers mention CS issues, as well. So it seems CS standards are being eroded, which is a shame. Sometimes, if you offer someone something that costs only $50, they’ll end up spending a few thousand more! I’m anxious to see what happens with the entertainment on board HAL ships, as this could be one of the things that has me venture out to try other cruise lines. I’ve stated before, one of the biggest reasons I cruise is for dinner and a show. I do love the live music, but found it lacking on this cruise, especially missed the band that used to play every night in the Ocean Bar. Many people were met and numbers exchanged. I had a relaxing time in the Spa. Singing along with Megan and Michael was a blast. I so appreciate that smoking is now banned everywhere inside, especially in the casino. The aft Sea View always smelled like an ash tray, so maybe one day we can give smokers a little room, as their numbers seem to be dwindling. I had a wonderful time and I’m happy I booked and sailed on another HAL vacation. As long as they don’t change too much from where they are now, things will be great. There are so many cruise lines out there, and a line for each person. I hope they realize that many of us stick with HAL for what we’ve found, not what we hope for. ***** If you are interested in reading my more comedic version of my cruise, with photos, be sure to check out my blog: http://penguinlust.blogspot.com/2018/10/nieuw-amsterdam-for-new-penguin.html Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
My wife and I were on Holland America's Niew Amsterdam for its 18-day cruise through the Panama Canal, departing San Diego October 3, 2018 and arriving in Ft. Lauderdale on the 21st. Though we had many good-to-great experiences on this ... Read More
My wife and I were on Holland America's Niew Amsterdam for its 18-day cruise through the Panama Canal, departing San Diego October 3, 2018 and arriving in Ft. Lauderdale on the 21st. Though we had many good-to-great experiences on this voyage we also had far too many disappointing ones. Highlights of the good-to-great experiences are as follows: 1. The ship's decor is spectacular, a feast for the eyes, beautifully color-coordinated with attractive furniture, fixtures and (especially) carpeting. 2. Staff universally were dedicated to pleasing passengers. Theirs was a "can do" attitude, always served with a smile. 3. Though a large ship (2,000+ passengers), it never felt crowded and there was never a sense of having to stand in long lines. Even entering and exiting the ship was an effortless process, always well-managed. 4. Even with winds and relatively high swells no one seemed to get motion-sick. The ship was wonderfully stable at all speeds. 5. Entertainment was excellent, especially the five young women (playing two violins, one viola, one cello and one piano) in the Lincoln Center Stage and the two individuals playing piano at night in the Billboard Lounge. The Holland America singers and dancers in the Main Stage also were excellent at their crafts. 6. There were many dining venues. Ratings below are from 1 (average) to 4 (excellent): Food Quality Service Value Lido Buffet--2 1 3 Main Dining--6 2 2 Tamarind--3 4 4 3 Pinnacle Grill--2 4 4 3 Canaletto--3 3 4 3 Sel de Mer--2 4 4 3 There were upcharges ranging from $15 per person at Canaletto to $49 per person at Rudi's Sel de Mer. A value rating was given only to the last four restaurants, which were the upcharge restaurants. The numbers following each restaurant's name are the number of nights we ate there. In total we spent $596 in upcharge costs on this trip. Having one bad experience aboard a Holland America ship is understandable and acceptable. Nothing is perfect. However, we had eight experiences that were disappointing (spa, hydropool, food quality in Lido buffet and Main Dining, smoking on ship, bingo, ports of call scheduled, ports skipped and our excursion-related drop-off at the Ft. Lauderdale airport. 1.Spa services were seriously over-priced and spa staff members were unpleasantly aggressive in selling spa products and services. Spa promotions appeared at first blush to offer real bargains but the fine print said otherwise. My wife and I had two couples massages, both of which were fine for my wife. My first massage was so mechanical in was not at all relaxing, so I requested a different therapist for the second one and she was fine. The first therapist was extremely pushy in selling me skin products, which I promptly returned (unused) three days after I'd purchased them. The spa staff person reluctantly processing my refund made it clear she was not happy with my return. 2. The spa's hydropool was OK but was incredibly over-priced. We were not familiar with the Niew Amsterdam's hydropool but assumed it was as large and enjoyable as the one on the Holland American's Koningsdam, which it was not. At $599 for the entire cruise--no daily pricing offered-the hydropool was a total ripoff. We and one other couple apparently were the only two families naive enough to pay $599 so we had the hydropool to ourselves the entire cruise. 3. If the food in the Lido Buffet and Main Dining had been better we would not have gone to the upcharge restaurants so frequently, far more often than we originally intended to do, spending an unbudgeted $596 as a result. 4. Smoking was permitted on the aft deck of the ship on the same level as the Sea View swimming pools, one of the two pools on this ship. We would have enjoyed using that pool because it was not covered by a roof, and it was wide open in terms of views whereas the main pool was enclosed on four sides. Also, the main pool became hot and humid when the roof was covered, which happened frequently. 5. Bingo was over-priced and my perception is that it was literally impossible to win the large cash prize until the last day bingo was played. Consequently, passengers who played bingo daily in order to try winning the large prize (growing from about $1,400 to about $2,200 at the end) spent a lot of money buying cards that probably could not win until the last day, when numbers continued to be called until a winner yelled "bingo!" I say "probably could not win" for two reasons. First, to cover 24 squares (plus "free") within the first 50 numbers called is mathematically almost impossible. Second, because the ship knew which cards were being played it would be easy to program the electronics of the numbers being called to assure that those numbers ensure no one could win. 6. As readers can learn by reading the itinerary for this cruise, the ports of call are not all that great to begin with. We have cruised on Holland America at least seven or eight times and another 5 to 10 times on other ships so we should have known better than to select this cruise. It fit conveniently into our schedules, and included the Panama Canal, but we could have chosen better. 7. We had more sea days than planned (10 days on an 18-day cruise when we had no opportunity to go ashore, versus 8 days originally scheduled as Sea days). High winds prevented the ship from entering one port in Mexico and in another port (Coast Rica) high swells prevented passengers from boarding the ship's tenders for the ride to shore. Both decisions reflected the captain's concerns for the health and safety of the passengers and crew. Nonetheless, Holland America could have offered some token as recompense for the missed ports, but did not. 8. Because we would be getting off the ship October 21 at 8:30 a.m. and our flight home was not until after 5 p.m. we signed up for a four-hour land and sea excursion, which was delightful. The bad part about it was the tour director, Bonnie, having the bus driver take her back to her car, which was parked at the port, before the driver took 40-50 of us to the airport. When we got to the airport two things happened. First, there were some missed luggage issues, eventually corrected with the help of other bus drivers, because our driver spoke virtually no english. The tour director should have been on our bus, at the airport, to resolve those problems instantly. Second, in sending us off to the airport Bonnie said I was to exit the bus at the third of three stops, but using mainly gestures the driver insisted we exit at the second stop, which turned out to be considerably farther from our check-in counter than the third stop would have been. By dumping us out at the second stop the driver then had an empty bus and could skip the third stop. It was a long walk, up an incline, for me. And if a kind airport employee had not offered to get a wheelchair for my wife it would have been a much longer and tougher walk for her. Overall our cruise had many attractive and enjoyable features. Unfortunately, it also had far too many disappointing experiences. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
This was a cruise from Vancouver to Fort Lauderdale through the Panama Canal. The embarkation went very smoothly. I had to fly into Vancouver the day before and there was a shuttle back to the airport, which then took us to the port. It ... Read More
This was a cruise from Vancouver to Fort Lauderdale through the Panama Canal. The embarkation went very smoothly. I had to fly into Vancouver the day before and there was a shuttle back to the airport, which then took us to the port. It took very little time for embarkation, and I was directed every stage of the way. My room was ready as soon as I boarded the ship, which was very convenient. My cabin was on the 4th deck at the very front of the ship, and even though the Pacific Ocean was fairly choppy, I had no issues. I found the aft of the ship as choppy as I found the forward. I actually had a great view from my balcony while going through the Panama Canal. The cabin was kept spotless, the 2 cabin stewards were professional and friendly, knew I was traveling on my own and always had a pleasant conversation with me. It was important to me to feel "safe" as I was traveling solo, and I did feel very safe on this ship. The Lido dining area was actually my favorite because I was traveling on my own and could take my food to the aft pool area and have my dinner in the sunshine! I enjoyed the Pizza on the Lido deck and the serving staff on the Lido deck was professional and friendly. The quality of the food was very good, and I really liked the fact that it was not a buffet, but that there were servers who handled your plate and the food. There were tongs for items such as bread, buns. However I did not like to use them because I know there is a lack of handwashing by many people. My one complaint was that the purell stations were "voluntary" and most passengers would walk past them. So I would use a disposable napkin when I had to use the tongs. I did go to the main dining room for some of the dinners, but found that I was wasting time waiting for my food, while I could have been enjoying the sun and the pool. It is also very different traveling on one's own, then on other cruises where I have been with a family member and the dining experience is more comfortable, as I would have to introduce myself, etc., and make small talk with people who I would never see again. However, overall the food was good, the wait staff were very polite and they work hard. I like the music venues very much...enjoyed the BIllboard pianos, BB Kings, the Lincoln Stage, and attended a few shows, I do not gamble or play bingo, or use the spa services, so have no opinions on that. I also did not go to specialty restaurants. The guest services staff were very pleasant any time I had interactions with the. I did have room service on the mornings I did a tour, which was very convenient, and the food was hot and a good start for the day. We were unable to disembark due to weather or waves, and tours I had booked through the cruise line were reimbursed on my Navigator account within the day. Because I was solo, I booked the excursions through the cruise line, and was not disappointed. Don't forget, one does not have to buy anything at any one of the stores or markets that are included in the tour. I went to see the culture, the scenery, and get a taste of the life of other cultures. I did not buy any food on the tours because I had paid for my food on the cruise. I also took my water from the ship, so beyond a tip to the tour guide, if it was a good tour, my days were very economical. I felt safe having booked through the cruise line that I would get back to the ship. The only place I did not book a tour was Aruba, and went on a local bus, knowing I could get back to the ship on time, as the Island is very small and there seemed to be a lot of taxis about. The disembarkation could have been handled somewhat better, but the process was beyond the Holland America Line because it involved American Customs who only had 2 agents on for the international visitors, who made up the majority of the cruise line passengers. So that really slowed things down. But once the Americans made their way through, the customs opened all the lanes for everyone else. Read Less
Nieuw Amsterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.5
Public Rooms 4.5 4.4
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.5 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.1

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