We’re a British couple in our very late twenties. I’ve only ever sailed with Costa Cruises on 4 previous voyages over the years, gradually seeing their supreme service decline into a floating shambles, and vowed never to cruise with them again. This was my partner’s first ever cruise, and he only agreed to ‘go it a go’ but was skeptical about the whole thing, so I chose HAL and the Nieuw Amsterdam because of both attractive pricing for our balcony cabin (5021) and the many positive reviews on here that meant we'd get a much more premium experience.
We did the ‘back to back’ (aka Collector Voyage in HAL terms) itinerary of Eastern, then Western Caribbean, sailing from Fort Lauderdale. In summary, we loved the ship, the food was mostly fantastic, service was A* from every member of staff, the entertainment options were varied and engaging (even for us youngsters)… BUT… the ship clearly had an engine issue whilst we were on board, which did unfortunately mean it was not the perfectly restful holiday I had hoped. Instead, I was deprived of sleep because the fixtures of the cabin rattled very loudly at night, due to the strong juddering of the engines, which I’ve never experienced on the other ships I’ve sailed on. Even more disappointingly, we paid more to have an forward cabin to be away from the engines at the stern, but it’s completely pointless as it certainly felt this ship had engines / thrusters at the bow too. After reading the most recent reviews, it’s clear an issue identified with the engine the week before we embarked wasn’t fixed entirely, and the although obviously fixed to be sea worthy, I don’t think the Captain should have sailed her in this state when it must have caused discomfort to make others too. After complaining to the Front Office, we did receive some compensation for the issue, but reflecting on this, it’s disappointing that the Captain (who was wonderfully informative about everything else ship-related) did not let us know about the issue and acknowledge the juddering was not the norm. However, I can also see from reviews that the ship is going into dry dock very soon, so I can only hope, with the high standards HAL clearly operate to in everything else, that this problem is fixed and the Nieuw Amsterdam sails smoothly once more. So please don’t let that put you off if you’re thinking of booking in the medium to longer term. Cruisers who are embarking before dry dock though – beware!
I probably won’t mention anything here in the rest of the review that hasn’t been mentioned before, so this is just our opinion as passengers from a younger age bracket and less experienced cruisers. It’s probably useful to reiterate I am comparing this experience only to Costa Cruises, which is a value line for the European market, and not the likes of Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, NCL etc. (here’s hoping I will be lucky enough to try them too in future). Here are our thoughts on the main aspects of the experience.