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7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
This review is intended primarily for those who dance and have cruised before, especially on HAL in previous years, in order to provide information we wished we had had prior to our cruise on the Nieuw Statendam in the spring of 2019. We ... Read More
This review is intended primarily for those who dance and have cruised before, especially on HAL in previous years, in order to provide information we wished we had had prior to our cruise on the Nieuw Statendam in the spring of 2019. We had read a good many other reviews of the ship prior to booking as well as reviews of her sister ship the Konigsdam to try to get a feel for the musical entertainment and dancing opportunities on board. A couple of these expressed disappointment that dance opportunities to which previous HAL cruisers had become accustomed were substantially curtailed. These were quite accurate. In virtually every other respect we were very pleased with the ship, but more of this later. The new Pinnacle class ships center their entertainment on “Music Walk,” the deck-two (and partially three-deck) venue for the BB King Blues Club, the Rolling Stone Rock Room, and Billboard Onboard. Each of these venues have dance floors. BB King shares its two-story venue with Lincoln Center on Stage essentially replacing the Queens Lounges on other vessels. The stage is larger, the dance floor smaller by about 30% and rectangular rather than semi-circular. The floor itself appears to be padded hardwood that is perfect for dancing. Patrons who dance with drinks in their hands often slosh onto the floor, but waiters, when asked will come out and wipe up spills. The need to clean the floor with some frequency leaves it sometimes dry and unwaxed and thus difficult for smooth dancing. The main problem for more serious dancers is that the music in so monotonous (constant fast tempo east coast swing and blues suitable for west coast with only the occasional cha cha or rumba 3-4 times per evening. The genre of music attracts many 60s-free-style dancers (who have every right to the floor), making it very crowded and sometimes frustrating to dance anything other than what they are doing. There are typically three sets per night and one night off for the band per week. Exercise care leaving the dance floor; it is one step up to the exit and it is easy to fall. Billboard on Board is the latest incarnation of the dueling piano bar. The venue is larger than before and quite open to the hallway so as readily to attract passersby. There is a small circular dance floor (approximately 15ft) at one end of the room well away and facing the other direction from the pianists. This floor is rarely used. Dancing here is a challenge because there is no percussion and the tempos often syncopated. Of course, a piano bar is designed for something other than dancing, and it serves this purpose well, but it is possible to dance some of the time, though not much. The Rolling Stone Rock Room is aptly named. A band plays cover several times each night, but the repertoire is limited and somewhat repetitive after a night or two. The dance floor, a rounded off rectangle of about 15 feet or so, is off to the side of the main stage and very near the entrance, which allows dancing without obstructing the view of other patrons—a nice innovation. The venue is directly across the hall from Billboard On Board and also open. These venues did not compete with each other as there were typically performances on only one side of the hall at a time, providing supplemental listening space. The music and singing was from our experience exclusively fast-tempo hard rock as the name implies. We were surprised that the fast pace was so relentless however. We heard not one ballad all week. Dancing will be essentially limited to swing, very fast rumba, and the occasional cha cha and nothing else. The Ocean Bar, which previous passengers will recollect as a venue on other HAL ships at which a combo often played danceable music before and after dinner, still exists but no longer has a combo. There is a small stage with a grand piano, but no one played it at any time while we were on board. The dance floor is embarrassingly small—circular and only 10 feet in diameter. It could accommodate two couples at best, if the venue were ever used, and they would have to watch out for each other. We stopped by night after night hoping to hear at least some danceable muiszac-style elevator music. There was none and the venue was usually dark. Each time we walked past (right outside the fishbowl called Club Orange) it was empty and asilent a reminder of all that is missing on this ship. We contacted HALkat band members from a previous cuise on another ship, and they report that this is part of a general curtailment of dancing that is creeping into HAL. This is quite sad and disappointing on a cruise line that just a couple of years ago was marketing Dancing with the Stars. There is a potentially magnificent dance floor in the Crow’s Nest, but in contrast to other HAL ships it is not used for this purpose. The CN is now the center for booking excursions, a coffee bar, library, and extremely pleasant vantage point; it is no longer a dance venue. We have been told that as other ships are refitted, they will follow this model. Another element pertaining to dancing that surprised us, especially for a cruise leaving from South Florida, was the complete and total lack of latin music or dance, except perhaps for the few opportunities to cha cha mentioned above; nary a mambo, salsa, bolero, bachata, merengue, or tango was heard all week. As for other genres, I think we heard two recorded fox trots during intermissions in various venues and two waltzes and even one Viennese, also recorded during intermissions. We met a very nice Canadian couple on the dance floor and the gentleman showed us his new dance shoes and remarked, “I bought these for this cruise, and there is no dancing.” We knew what he meant. Most troubling is the dismissive attitude that the cruise line takes to the narrowness of the dance music offerings. We suggested that some recorded dance music could be played in unutilized venues over the course of the week, especially on nights when live musicians have the day off. There was none. We asked the cruise director, Jairo Lobo, if some additional dance opportunies could be provided; he brushed us off with,” But I like the music.” We are glad he does since he is stuck there every night, but his willingness to oblige was as limited as his musical appreciation. We turned in a polite and constructive suggestion card at the desk; it was never acknowledged. A cruise line executive told us that HAL had been concerned with the unevenness of the musicians before; they now approach musical entertainment as a matter of corporate partnerships, relying on brands rather than musical directors. This shows, for it seems only the corporate brands of music are available now. We suggested that their program could be enhanced by widening the genre of offerings, and these could be marketed in ways making them attractive to a wider audience of non-dancers. A single “Sinatra night,” for example, even a recorded one in an otherwise unused venue, would be one approach, costing the cruise line little to nothing. For now, branding seems to matter more than patrons. Branding is not all bad, however. The line’s partnership with Step One dance company provides performances on the 270 degree World Stage that are indeed world class and genuinely superlative. These performances go well beyond musical theatre on cruise ships by an order of magnitude. This makes the narrowness of dance opportunities for passengers all the more ironic. The Nieuw Statendam is an absolutely beautiful ship, which is well designed and in many respects state of the art. The staterooms make some of the best use of space we have seen on several cruise lines. The crew is well-trained, attentive, competent, and friendly, so the standard of service is just as high or higher than you may remember. The décor is light and modern with clean lines and open spaces. The art work, which has been a signature element of HAL, is fascinating, compelling, and effectively placed. The cuisine is also up to the usual standard and elegantly presented, which is significant in an environment in which other lines are obviously cutting corners. If the dance opportunities were not so narrow and the line so deaf to these limitations, we would rave about the ship. But, if dancing is important to you, this may not be the ship for you. Clearly the company is trying to alter its reputation as a line for older patrons. Music Walk is marketed as the core of the ship’s entertainment offerings, and it is. But those with any interest or experience in dancing, other than 1960s free-style, will find Music Walk perhaps too pedestrian. On balance we would still recommend the Nieuw Statenam, and there is some glimmer of hope, given recent correspondence with corporate management, that they are at least developing an awareness of the shortcomings described here. We think they would like to be more accommodating but are somewhat boxed in by branding, the centrality of the Music Walk concept, a desire to shed some of their traditional image, and hardnosed business decisions about what the crowd wants or will appreciate. We know they are running a business and not a social club. But surely, if classes in towel folding are deemed attractive, a wider range of musical offerings must be as well. Our purpose here is to provide some of the particular information we wished had been available to us earlier on. Cruise on! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Beautiful Ship with and wonderful and friendly crew. State of the art precision electronic theater with great entertainment. A stately beauty everywhere you look with fresh flower arrangements and beautiful artwork. Nightly music with a ... Read More
Beautiful Ship with and wonderful and friendly crew. State of the art precision electronic theater with great entertainment. A stately beauty everywhere you look with fresh flower arrangements and beautiful artwork. Nightly music with a variety of Beethoven to The Rolling Stones. The cabins are of great design with so much storage and terrific lighting. The subdued tones of the cabins are restful and tasteful. The service is top notch. The serenity pool and quiet area is so restful and enjoyable. The dining room was a delight with excellent service and white table cloths at each meal. Fresh flowers adorned the tables and the wait staff was impressive. The buffet has excellent food stations and the breads were baked fresh each day. There was a carving station, a sandwich station, plus sushi and of course hamburgers by the pool. The best part of each meal was the iced cream with a flavor of the day along with the vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. The dessert bar had elegant fresh fruit tarts each day. My favorite menu was the most extensive breakfast selections that I have ever seen on any ship and I have been on over 40 cruises. Do not hesitate to experience a cruise on the beautiful Holland ship. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise because of the new ship. We like Holland America, but some of their ships are getting old. The ship was beautiful. Not so big which made it easy to navigate We had a balcony stateroom 6090 in the center. Although ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the new ship. We like Holland America, but some of their ships are getting old. The ship was beautiful. Not so big which made it easy to navigate We had a balcony stateroom 6090 in the center. Although it was somewhat smaller than on their older ships it was just fine. There seemed to be some younger people on board which was very nice to see. The itinerary was the usual caribbean stops, not really important to us. since we have visited several before. The food was above average, as was the service in the dining room. We enjoyed the new music row, which was Rolling Stones Club and billboard (pianos). BB King Blues was a little too loud for our taste since they put it out in the open, but I'm sure many people enjoyed it. I think the horns made it too loud. Of course Lincoln Center Stage is always lovely (chamber music). The front desk people were all very knowledgeable and helpful. Room service was wonderful. Every morning we had breakfast in our room. They were prompt and very friendly on the phone as well as the person who brought it. NY Deli and Dutch Cafe were both wonderful and not to be missed. (no charge except for special coffees) I have one constructive criticism. They should have a single piano player or guitarist in a bar (Ocean Bar) just to have a quiet place for a drink before or after dinner. The dance shows were very well done. We enjoyed one of the comedians, and the ventriliquist was very good. All in all a wonderful cruise and we booked another on the same ship. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Good value,beautiful ship, friendly and helpful staff . My room was cleaned twice a day. Dining room nicely decorated with fresh flowers. Need to improve: entertainment and activities on board.Food is delicious and nicely ... Read More
Good value,beautiful ship, friendly and helpful staff . My room was cleaned twice a day. Dining room nicely decorated with fresh flowers. Need to improve: entertainment and activities on board.Food is delicious and nicely presented. Excellent waiting staff. The newspaper excerpt (which is provided to guest every morning at the Lido deck ) is too leftist, I think if it is replaced by something more centrist,it will be better. As a Conservative, I do not need to read the news with criticism about the President every morning at breakfast ! Shore excursions are a little overpriced. We only book two tours but the one I was really excited about, Dolphin Encounter in Cayman Island was canceled because Cayman stop was canceled due to bad weather condition. At Ports of call, we mostly used taxi for sightseeing. On this cruise, we enjoyed mostly going to the beach and shopping, especially for exotic fashion. I think we will cruise with this company sometime in the future,when we get older. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We have sailed on 9 HAL cruises over the last 5 years for a total of 103 days. This new ship was very disappointing for us. *The ship seems crowded all the time and there are lines for everything, food, ice cream, hamburger bar, ... Read More
We have sailed on 9 HAL cruises over the last 5 years for a total of 103 days. This new ship was very disappointing for us. *The ship seems crowded all the time and there are lines for everything, food, ice cream, hamburger bar, pizza bar and dining room. We waited a very long time for burgers at Dive In and for a reuben sandwich at the pizza bar. *The promenade deck was so disappointing. It is extremely narrow and sometimes its single file areas. There is no view of the sea as you walk because the lifeboats are hanging right next to the railing. We have never experienced this before. *Most of the servers and table assistance crew were not very helpful or friendly. There were a few exceptions of people that were happy everyday and greeted us. Mary and Herlina were exceptional. *Extremely hard to find a lounge chair at the pool or back of ship if you were not out there early reserving a seat which isn't allowed but happens. *It was very hard to find a quiet place to read or relax. The TV in stateroom was excellent as far as size and quality but hard to figure out how to find things to watch. There was not much navigational information as there has been in the past. It's nice to know how far to the next port and have better information provided. We won't sail on this ship again!! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Recently returned from a 2 week cruise for which I paid in excess of $13000 (excluding air fare) The Good Our Neptune Suite Our suite attendants The Neptune Lounge Club Orange Complimentary Laundry The Bad The ... Read More
Recently returned from a 2 week cruise for which I paid in excess of $13000 (excluding air fare) The Good Our Neptune Suite Our suite attendants The Neptune Lounge Club Orange Complimentary Laundry The Bad The fact that other than water/tea and coffee/cranberry no other complimentary beverage in the lounge Lack of shade on decks HAL too keen to charge extra for everything Tender loading took too long 40 minutes (especially when using the locals) for a 5 minute ride Private Island facilities too cramped and no shade Lines formed at the Lido at lunch time due to insufficient staff numbers The Ugly There is a dress code applied in the main dining room - in particular no shorts We went to Tamarind and Canaletto twice. On every occasion there were people wearing shorts. I find this offensive especially as one has to pay a premium to attend these establishments and their website classifies these as "Fine Dining" I discussed this with the Hotel Manager Errol who agreed with me. However it just endorses how keen HAL is to make the "extra buck" I expressed dissatisfaction with the dress code policy on the ship for which I requested a refund of $210 only to be offered $100 on board credit on a future cruise This I refused and then requested that they make a charitable donation instead which was also snubbed. Overall the ship is lovely but these little things require refining Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We were looking for a holiday away from strollers and screaming kids... and Holland America seemed to fit the bill. Catering to an older crowd is their forte. But this was significantly older than I was prepared for!! One of the things we ... Read More
We were looking for a holiday away from strollers and screaming kids... and Holland America seemed to fit the bill. Catering to an older crowd is their forte. But this was significantly older than I was prepared for!! One of the things we have long associated with cruising was incredible entertainment. This ship had little of that. And what they had did not coordinate well with the dinner seating times in the main dining room. With the late (read 8pm) dinner seating, our only option was to go to the “show” at 7... which meant you needed to arrive by 6:30 to get a seat... which meant you needed to be back in your room by 5:00 in order to shower and dress... Not exactly the relaxing dinner I was hoping for. We thought that choosing a regular dinner time and an assigned table would give us an opportunity to meet fellow passengers and enjoy some lively conversation but that was not our experience. Dinner companions with respiratory illness should eat in their cabin!!! Dinner service was decent but there were significant delays between courses. The food was flavourful and the menu varied. Overall the food was what I expected. And way better than any all inclusive resort I have ever been to. Our cabin steward was friendly and eager to please but not the best at cleaning... oh well. The ship is new. And looks it. But I was expecting more luxurious appointments throughout. New will only last so long and then there will be little to recommend. The three main “lounges” where there was live entertainment every night are all adjacent. This has both pros and cons... if you don’t like one, it is a short walk to the next but the music from one “bleeds” into the next. Sitting in the back of one room often meant you could hear what they were playing next door through the walls. Overall, we had a pleasurable holiday. No one wants to complain too loudly about their cruise. Did HAL blow my socks off? No. Will I sail with them again? Maybe... when I’m 80. And I too may bring my walker. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
7 day Eastern Caribbean in a Signature Suite -Lido has both carpet and tile floor and very heavy chairs. Lots of scraping from tile area must be heard on deck 8. You can order drinks in Lido by pushing a button on your table!! ... Read More
7 day Eastern Caribbean in a Signature Suite -Lido has both carpet and tile floor and very heavy chairs. Lots of scraping from tile area must be heard on deck 8. You can order drinks in Lido by pushing a button on your table!! Portions of balconies on deck 8 are visible from window tables in some sections of Lido Muster drill at 3:45 on first day forced 2900 pax to interior stations on deck 2 and 3. The 12 elevators were packed at the conclusion for well over an hour Happy hour was only on deck 2, Crow's Nest was quiet as a morgue First 3 days martinis had large olives stuffed with blue cheese Crow's Nest coffee Bar opened at 8 am not 7 Signature suite closets are lit when the their door is openned Room fridge is covered by solid door causing quite a bit of heat between fridge and door Delivered room breakfast have new costs for...Steak&Eggs,$9.50, Kick Start, $4.95 and Smoked Salmon Benedict, $7.50 Room shower has wand, rain forest head and side jets. No night light in bath room. Qtips and cotton balls in jar between sinkRound ship's clock on wall by bed that was adjusted by room steward We ate 33,921 eggs while travelling 2013 miles Please if you bring a book leave a book Enjoy Bob Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose the NS because it was the inaugural year of it's launch and we always sailed on the smaller ships. A larger ship would be a new experience for us. The ship was beautiful however the promenade deck is a disappointment to us. ... Read More
We chose the NS because it was the inaugural year of it's launch and we always sailed on the smaller ships. A larger ship would be a new experience for us. The ship was beautiful however the promenade deck is a disappointment to us. We are walkers and like to do so early in the morning. We found the promenade on the NS to have mostly obstructed views, sections of the deck to be very narrow and usually lots of crew members washing the deck. Also there are no lounge chairs on the promenade. Our cabin was an aft verandah on the 7th deck (Schubert). It seemed smaller than our last year cruise on the NA,...but maybe that is just our imagination. There was a shower in our cabin and it was nicely decorated however the sink area was very small. We are smaller people in comparison to many onboard. I don't know how a larger person could be comfortable. We split our dinner options mostly between the Lido buffet and the Main dining room. We also tried the Dive-In and Dutch cafes. We ate all our breakfasts and lunches in the Lido. The food was very good in both areas and the Dutch Cafe had great coffees and wonderful deserts. The pea soup is wonderful although the did add a slice of what seemed to be raw bacon on a cracker as a side.The Dive-In got our orders screwed up adding options to tour burgers that they thought we would enjoy. Entertainment was the typical HA experience. No Broadway show types, 2 comics (Fred Klett was a riot), a string quartet with piano and a dance company. There is also BB Kings, Billboard and Rolling Stone areas that have decent performers. Service provided was outstanding. The crew members hustle, are always polite and smiling, and really do a great job of keeping passengers happy. The shore excursions do seem a bit pricey for what you get but they make the cruise experience seem like you are learning about different areas of the world. Of course Half-Moon Cay is our favorite stop and could spend the entire cruise right there. Embarking was sort of a painful wait. They send you an email to tell you what time you embark but I doubt many really follow that recommendation. They give you a group number when you enter the building but we saw people with number 16 entering with people having number 8. Dis-embarking was a mess. Our assigned time of leaving was 9:00 am but we manged to only leave at 10:30. It messed up our travel arrangements as we had someone waiting for us. We realize port authority has something to do with that but that needs to be rethought. We would probably do other cruises with HA but I think the smaller ships are a bit more intimate and to our liking. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
The ship is very elegant, with beautiful artwork throughout. The crew was very friendly, seemed happy, and we’re always willing to help. The cabins were relatively roomy with lots of drawers for storage. The food was excellent in the ... Read More
The ship is very elegant, with beautiful artwork throughout. The crew was very friendly, seemed happy, and we’re always willing to help. The cabins were relatively roomy with lots of drawers for storage. The food was excellent in the dining room. The shops were understated and there was not merchandise present in the aisles. The entertainment was not as good or as varied in the mai theater as on other ships. However, there were many styles and locations for music on the ship. There were five hot tubs on the ship for which were the smallest I’ve ever encountered. Those four would not hold for adults comfortably. The ports were excellent. Grand Turk was almost like a private island. The private island was excellent. Surprisingly, we were the only ship in port at Saint Thomas which made for a surprisingly uncrowded visit. San Juan seem cleaner than the last time I visited. I would definitely sale on the Nieuw Statendam again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
My wife and I are 3* HAL loyalists. We have gone a winter Caribbean cruise every year for the last 25 years or so. Over the last 15 years we have only sailed on HAL as we enjoy the traditional cruising style of HAL as opposed to the ... Read More
My wife and I are 3* HAL loyalists. We have gone a winter Caribbean cruise every year for the last 25 years or so. Over the last 15 years we have only sailed on HAL as we enjoy the traditional cruising style of HAL as opposed to the mega-ship vibe. We chose the Oosterdam western cruise this year. Have not been on the Oosterdam previously but have been on Zuiderdam and most classes of HAL ships over the years. For the first time we were disappointed in HAL. We were on the March 2 sailing. We splurged for a Neptune Suite. Embarkation was a breeze. It was probably 15 minutes from Lyft ride to boarding the ship. The ship itself was impeccable. Our suite was in perfect condition. Here is a list of our disappointments: 1. Food - we had fixed dining 2nd seating. As always the service was great. I have always defended HAL's food quality over the years - but not this time. Examples included a pepper pot soup that consisted of over cooked bits of yesterdays short ribs covered by a dilute beef broth. A cat fish fillet that you could find in your Krogers frozen food section in a box and the fillet part of my "surf and turf" was an embarrassment - must have 3 oz and a hamburger patty would have been more flavorful. 2. $10 surcharge - My wife wanted the veal chop the night of the surf and turf but asked for a lobster tail to go with it. We were charged $10 for an "extra entree". Really? Felt like a slap in the face. 3. Promenade deck - we enjoy our walks around the deck. 90% of the time it was closed off for some maintenance such that you could not circle it completely. 4. Food - back to food: no chilled soups, no smoke fish, no baked Alaska. HAL food seems to be becoming very homogenized and bland 5. Shore excursions: overpriced as usual. The one we took in MoBay included being jammed into a small minibus to the point where I had to sit on a jump seat for an hour. The advertised 4 hour trip to a plantation house took us 6 hours. 6. Ports of call: why do they stop at Montego Bay anyway? Absolutely nothing to do there that did not involve and excursion. Cayman was cancelled. Cozumel - tourist trap. 7. Entertainment: there was no mainstage entertainment the first night out. No production shows. On the plus side, the crew and waitstaff were as friendly and gracious as always. The ship was in impeccable condition. The Lincoln Center shows and BB King were excellent. The America's Test Kitchen was great HAL seems to be getting rid of the things that made them different. With declining food quality and never ending surcharges, we are thinking about doing something different next year rather than a HAL cruise. And we are sad about that. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
WE sailed the Feb 24 sailing. We had sailed this ship in 2016 in Alaska and were pleased. This ship has since been thru a refurb and I noticed all new carpet, they reconfigured a few areas but basically seemed the same. We basically ... Read More
WE sailed the Feb 24 sailing. We had sailed this ship in 2016 in Alaska and were pleased. This ship has since been thru a refurb and I noticed all new carpet, they reconfigured a few areas but basically seemed the same. We basically were looking for the least expensive balcony cabin during Feb and came across this one and chose it. The weather the week we went was fantastic. What we noticed was an older crowd which we were expecting. WE are 62 and 67 so not teenagers but we seemed ALOT younger than most of the passengers. Everyone we encountered were friendly passengers and crew. We ate dinner in the Main Dining room. WE found the portions to be smaller than we remembered and you cannot order 2 entrees without an additonal $10 upcharge. THis is fine with me as I dont think anyone will go hungry on a cruise! 3 people at our table one night all had to send back the red snapper as it was literally like a piece of rubber and we could not even cut it. THe deserts were average. The entertainment was sub par in the main theatre but the BBKing band saved the cruise for us. They were fantastic. They announced this was their first week together so I can only imagine how they will evolve over time. WE found no music by the pools not even any piped in which made for a very "non festive" atmosphere. We were happy to get out of the Midwest for a week but will probably not sail Holland America again unless there is a deal we cannot resist. This was our 17th cruise and we find pros and cons on all the lines we have been on. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
We were terribly disappointed with the entertainment. The worst in all the cruises I have taken. This was our first with Holland American and never again. This was a cruise suitable for very old people. The best entertainment was the ... Read More
We were terribly disappointed with the entertainment. The worst in all the cruises I have taken. This was our first with Holland American and never again. This was a cruise suitable for very old people. The best entertainment was the Filipino cruise members show. They put up a voluntary show. I must also mention one of Lido restaurant staff Amelia, she was helpful and very nice. She also did a great show. There was a lack of entertainment for younger people. We never met a single young person from the entertainment team beside the cruise director. All in all not a happy experience. The staff in our allocated dining area were absolutely wonderful and helpful. I found quite disrespectful to be called by my Cristian name by the cabin steward. In Europe we are not used to that or at least I am not. Not very good room service at all Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
My wife and I have only taken one cruise before this one and it was 15 years ago on a 5 day Carnival cruise, budget type deal, from Jacksonville. This was our 25th wedding anniversary, we wanted to be on a more upscale crowd on a new ... Read More
My wife and I have only taken one cruise before this one and it was 15 years ago on a 5 day Carnival cruise, budget type deal, from Jacksonville. This was our 25th wedding anniversary, we wanted to be on a more upscale crowd on a new ship. Let me start by saying we upgraded to a Neptune Suite 3 days prior to the cruise which I am sure enhanced our experience. Embarkation in FLL was a breeze. From the time we hit the pier, left our Uber, we were in our cabin #7113 in 20 minutes. The luggage hit the cabin before 3:00 P.M. Every person we encountered on the cruise was genuinely helpful and service oriented. We truly felt like pampered royalty the entire cruise. From a food standpoint, we only ate one meal in the MDR and we were underwhelmed there. The service was slow, the food was not very hot, and just kinda meh. If we had to eat every meal in the MDR or Lido we would have been unhappy with the food. Because we had a Neptune Suite we had access to Club Orange. I've read mixed reviews on it and I will tell you we absolutely loved it. Would I have paid $50 p.p. per day just to get it, maybe, maybe not. But we really liked it. Food was hot, almost had a private dining room experience to it. There were dishes that were not offered in the MDR, the cappuccinos (which my wife loved) were free in CO but not in the MDR. Free mimosas at breakfast if that's your thing. You do need to wear long pants (jeans are allowed) at dinner. The first evening I came to dinner the maitre'd stopped me and politely told me no shorts at dinner. I have no problem with that at all. It was always "Mr. Hogan, Mrs. Hogan", they knew exactly what we wanted and needed. The last night they had all the signature dishes from the Culinary Council and even introduced us personally to Chef Rudy from Rudi Sel De Mer which was cool. We actually cancelled our reservation at Rudi's for the final night to eat in CO. Chef Rudi was amused but not entirely. He said we missed out and we promised him we would eat there next time. My wife and I are foodies and should have gone to Rudi's at least once. We also ate at Pinnacle Grill which was by far the best meal we ate on the cruise. The amount of food that they give you there is a LOT. Skip lunch they day you eat at PG. We ate at Canaletto which was decent. Not amazing but good. Tamarind was the weakest of the specialty restaurants that we ate at. It was not by any means bad, just not great. It was quite with a nice view though. The sushi was the same as you'd get at a regular sushi (not high end) sushi place back home. Not offensive, but nothing great. We used the Greenhouse spa which I enjoyed tremendously. It was a bit crowded on the sea days but that is to be expected. The spa treatments were nice, but definitely not worth the $$. Save your $$ there. The casino was kind to the wife, not so kind to me but it was a nice distraction. The DO allow smoking except on gala night in the casino. One night it was really awful with the smell, the rest of the time it was tolerable. BB King, Rolling Stone Rock Bar, Lincoln Center, Dueling Pianos, and the rest of the entertainment was also excellent but I will agree the volume from BB King and Rolling Stone was quite loud and I enjoy concerts and am in my late 40s. There is definitely an opportunity for HAL to improve there. Did the SNUBA shore excursion in Grand Turk which was also excellent. Didn't do any other EXC tours just did stuff on our own which was pleasant. Neptune Lounge staff went above and beyond for us making our Vow Renewal Ceremony pretty spectacular. The cabin attendants were also above and beyond! Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
I just returned from a week long cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam. The rooms were rather small compared to what I have experienced on other cruise ships, such as the Konigsdam. The one big issue was that one entire wall had NO electrical ... Read More
I just returned from a week long cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam. The rooms were rather small compared to what I have experienced on other cruise ships, such as the Konigsdam. The one big issue was that one entire wall had NO electrical outlets by the beds. My roommate has a CPAP machine and there was nowhere to plug it in by the beds. The steward had to bring us an extension cord which was about 20 ft. long and was thick enough to power a farm. This was not very convenient and was a tripping hazard. Apart from the bathroom, the living area had only the one outlet at the desk. This seems like a very major over sight. There was a sauna to use free of charge, but it was very small and not in the spa area. It held maybe 4 people comfortably and I often had to wait for people to leave before there would be enough room. There was not enough clothing hooks and there was only one shower. There are separate men's and women's sauna right off the main hallway on the Lido deck. The HAL website advertised a .750 liter bottle of Bacardi for $43 to be delivered to one's room the day of departure. They also advertised the same bottle with 3 cans of coke for $56. I bought the $43 bottle ahead of time on the website. However, when I got onboard, they were advertising the same bottle with 3 cans of coke for $43. I cancelled my original order and placed the order for the bottle and 3 cans of coke. When I got the bill, they had added a 15% gratuity fee and tax, which brought the price to just under $50. The original charge was just the $43, so I recommend buying BEFORE you get onboard. The food was good. Not excellent, but good. Self-service was limited, which is a good thing. It keeps from having hundreds of people from using their grubby hands to handle the utensils, bringing dirty plates to the buffet and putting food back when they change their minds. It also keeps people from overloading their plates with food they won't eat. Too many cruisers have eyes bigger than their stomachs and waste so much food. We never to wait more than 2-3 minutes to get into the main dining room on level 2. Main dining room service was spotty. A couple of times we had very fast service, other times it took us an hour and a half to eat as the various dishes took a long time to deliver. However, the food was always hot and correctly prepared. Wait staff were always very friendly and accommodating. One of my fellow travelers ordered the 36 ounce steak for an additional charge of $75. The steak, of which I was lucky enough to get a bite, was absolutely delicious and cooked to perfection, but it was a lot of steak for one person. I think that if you love a flavorful steak, that this cut could be shared by 2-4 people. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We have been on HAL several times and have always in enjoyed ourselves as have the other two couples we traveled with. This was our first time on Nieuw Amsterdam. The cabin on deck 7 aft was great, good location for getting to elevators ... Read More
We have been on HAL several times and have always in enjoyed ourselves as have the other two couples we traveled with. This was our first time on Nieuw Amsterdam. The cabin on deck 7 aft was great, good location for getting to elevators and only two decks from the buffet and pool area. The cabin stewards were excellent and the cabin was always clean with fresh ice. The service in the MDR was poor, extremely slow and one of the orders was never delivered. The staff seemed to be overworked or short handed. The service in the buffet and pool deck was slow, tables were left unbussed for a long time and bar service was almost non existent on one occasion, HAL really seems to be sailing with minimal staffing. We loved the Dive In and pizza, but other food seemed to be reworked leftovers. The Asian station was excellent however. The super bowl was broadcast in the main theatre and was popular and HAL was serving some finger foods complimentary. Very good selection of movies on the in cabin entertainment but the dedicated movie theatre on deck 3 is gone. We did not do any shore excursions. The comedian and magic act were great both nights. The fitness center has added more equipment and I used it every day. Overall we had a good time but HAL is slipping. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Our travel agent was arranging this cruise for her friends nd clients and asked us to sail with them. The price for our Signature Suite was very attractive and we have sailed HAL and enjoy their cruises. We found the Nieuw Amsterdam to ... Read More
Our travel agent was arranging this cruise for her friends nd clients and asked us to sail with them. The price for our Signature Suite was very attractive and we have sailed HAL and enjoy their cruises. We found the Nieuw Amsterdam to be very, very crowded in the public areas. Our suite was spacious and very comfortable. We loved the Lincoln Center group and attended all their performances. Also enjoyed the other music venues, BB King and the dueling piano guys. Food in the dining room was quite good and we also enjoyed our meals in the Pinnacle Grill and Caneletto. Morning in room service for coffee was timely every day. We had reasonably nice weather so we were able to enjoy the aft pool area most days. We enjoyed swimming at the beach just off the ship at Grand Turk and our beach time at Half Moon Cay. What I didn’t like: ~the $30 pp per day ($60 for the cabin) “hold” that was placed on our credit card the minute we stepped on the ship. This is a new policy with HAL. ~the constant nickle and diming you ( servers selling $5 bottles of water in the dining room while I am eating breakfast, upcharges for lobster in the Pinnacle Grill where you have already paid a $35 pp charge just to dine there, etc.) Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
MDH and I have been on more than 10 Celebrity cruises but began to feel like we were no longer the preferred demographic for Celebrity (music and entertainment were taking on an "edgier vibe"). We had been eyeing Holland America ... Read More
MDH and I have been on more than 10 Celebrity cruises but began to feel like we were no longer the preferred demographic for Celebrity (music and entertainment were taking on an "edgier vibe"). We had been eyeing Holland America for a while but were reluctant to take the leap because of their smoking policy and because we had invested so much into Celebrity. When Holland America banned smoking on the verandas we decided to give it a go. We are so glad we did!!!! There is so much to be said but in short...the cruise was fabulous. WHAT WE LOVED: - Friendliness of the entire crew. Every staff person (from officers to window washers) exchanged pleasantries when we passed and when we had a question every effort was made to find the answer. Some went above and beyond remembering names and details shared. They are in the right business! HAL has hired well. - Decor. We love the classic styling with dark woods and neutral palette. The art was tasteful and very interesting to see. - Hydro Pool. We purchased passes to use the facility for the week. Worth every penny. Not crowded, very relaxing and felt like we were being pampered. - Pinnacle Grill and Sel de Mer. I appreciate the fact that people resent having to pay for meals on a cruise but we LOVED our experience in both. The service, ambience and food were fabulous. - Music (EVERYWHERE) - From the solo piano in the Ocean Bar to the Music Walk (Billboard Onboard, BB Kings, Lincoln Center) to the music piped into the dining and bar areas and even the elevator - we loved it ALL. Every live entertainer was exceptionally skilled and we both feel that we would have been willing to pay for concerts by any one of them. - Cabana with Butler on Half Moon Cay - Definitely an indulgence but having done it once we would do it again! The service was phenomenal, the setting was postcard perfect and the food/beverage was terrific. - EXC Lounge and Ocean Bar - Nicely appointed spaces to relax, read and people watch - Beverage Service...Everywhere - Loved the fact that there were staff members assigned to areas of the Lido Buffet seating area that assisted in seating people and then provided beverage service for coffee, iced tea and lemonade, etc. The bar service was also prompt and efficient. We have noticed on other cruises that as beverage packages became popular bar service deteriorated. This was NOT true on this cruise. We wanted a drink someone materialized and made sure we got one. - Direct Luggage Service - We had never heard of this service before but what a service it is! We put our luggage outside of our stateroom the night before disembarkation and did not touch it again until our final destination airport. FANTASTIC!! WHAT WE DIDN'T LOVE: - Communication - There were a few occasions that we were asked for information about excursions or disembarkation but the information did not come back. We didn't know where to be or when. - The Main Stage - Too loud, temperature was too hot. While the talent was there, the production was not to our liking. Didn't live up to the hype of a big production. Clearly we had a great time. Looking forward to a cruise to Alaska in June on the Koningsdam. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Holland goes above and beyond to make you as comfortable and welcomed as possible. By far it is the BEST cruise line around. The food was great. The entertainment was great. All staff personable. Our room attendants went above and ... Read More
Holland goes above and beyond to make you as comfortable and welcomed as possible. By far it is the BEST cruise line around. The food was great. The entertainment was great. All staff personable. Our room attendants went above and beyond. As did the waiters. Love everything about Holland America Cruise Line. The ship was spotless. You are treated like royalty everyday. On our last day we had a bar-b-que on the private island. It was wonderful. You would think that you would be given hot dogs and burgers. We had that plus steaks, chicken, fish tacos plus multiple salads, fruits, cupcakes and hand dipped ice cream. It was a nice change and we enjoyed it. I just wish that there was a little more shopping on their island. On the ship you never had to wait in lines. Everything moved quickly. Also you can’t forget about the bread pudding +++++++. OMG what a treat. Thank you again for a wonderful, relaxing time. I can’t wait to do it again... Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We were on this ship in May 2018 and were impressed enough to book for this sailing in February 2019. This ship went through a dry dock in December 2017 that updated the decor. They also stopped allowing smoking inside the casino at that ... Read More
We were on this ship in May 2018 and were impressed enough to book for this sailing in February 2019. This ship went through a dry dock in December 2017 that updated the decor. They also stopped allowing smoking inside the casino at that time. I had always dismissed HAL as an option because of their smoking policy, so this was a welcome change for me. The only smoking currently allowed is now on an outside deck. The crew are very well trained, friendly, and personable. They seem genuinely happy to be on board and also appear to get along well with each other. To me, that's always a sign of good management and work environment. Dining was good to excellent in the main dining room and specialty restaurants. This ship has Tamarind as a restaurant choice, which is excellent (have eaten there four times now). The lido buffet has a nice variety of food that tastes good. As importantly, there is lots of staff around to get drinks and clear tables, which is an area where other cruise lines seem to have cut back. There are also a couple of fast casual options for burgers and pizzas, both of which serve excellent food. HAL has invested heavily in its Music Walk concept. This ship has BB King's Blues Club, Billboard Onboard (two pianists), and Lincoln Center Stage (classical quintet music). All three provide lots of entertainment with a wide variety of music. They're great. There is also a partnership with America's Test Kitchen that includes cooking demos during the day. As fans of the show, this was a great way to spend some vacation time. The infotainment system in the room includes a pretty extensive library of current movies to watch. Recent releases were also screened in the main theater and then were available for in-room streaming as well. Bottom line: HAL has a great product with a great staff for a relaxing getaway. I'm already looking forward to booking my next cruise with them! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Dh and I (mid 40's) and ds (teenager) are seasoned HAL cruisers (all three star). This cruise was a family cruise that included us, our newest addition, a one year old baby girl, and both of our mothers, 6 total. Baby girl is a ... Read More
Dh and I (mid 40's) and ds (teenager) are seasoned HAL cruisers (all three star). This cruise was a family cruise that included us, our newest addition, a one year old baby girl, and both of our mothers, 6 total. Baby girl is a toddler so we had to make some special arrangement for her. My mother in law has some mobility issues, so again some special arrangements. We embarked in Ft Lauderdale on Sunday 2/3/2019. Our itinerary was sea day, Grand Turk, San Juan, St Thomas, sea day, and Half Moon Cay. We stayed at the Embassy Suites ($385 per room a night) in Ft. Lauderdale as we have 3 times before but this will be our last time there. Despite getting there at 1:30pm we were not allowed into our room until 5pm (4pm is check in) and the utter chaos of embarkation morning with the 5 tiny elevators being crammed full constantly and no help for those with mobility issues was too much. We will make other arrangements when cruising out of Ft Lauderdale next year. We used GoShuttle's private van service in Ft Lauderdale for all our transport needs as they were able to accommodate our whole family, all our luggage and they were very good with my mother in law and daughter. Embarkation: Once at Port Everglades at approx 10:50, embarkation was a breeze. We are 3 star Mariners so no special priority boarding but we still only waited until 11:45 to board. Our cabin was ready immediately. Ship: The ship is a great size. The decor is very HAL, more subdued and elegant, which is our speed. We do not care for Joe Farcus' designs as on Carnival and Costa. The layout is also very much like the Vista class. The HAL wrap around wide promenade is a favorite of ours. The retractable lido pool roof is great. We never felt crowded on the ship though the lido could get really busy at lunch. Cabin: We had three deck 4 aft starboard cabins. Ours was 4155. Great cabins. We had the stewards open the balconies up for us which was very nice. The balconies on this deck are deeper and we loved being nearer the ocean. Plenty of storage. Bath is small but has a tub which is nice for the toddler. We requested a Graco Pack n Play for the toddler and it fit next to the couch with plenty of room to spare. We also needed an extension cord for dh's cpap which the steward provided and set up. 2 normal plugs on the desk. 2 usb on the desk and 1 usb near each night stand. The bathroom counter was small but we had room for all our stuff as well as a bottle drying rack for the toddler. Cabin stewards: Great!! They were there when we needed them, took our unlimited laundry everyday, they exceeded our expectations. Food: Lido... good quality, great selection all three meals. The whole roasted suckling pig with crispy skin was a nice meal. The curry and chili crusted lamb chops were even better. High chairs WITH TRAYS available on request though we did have one attendant that had to go ask someone else where they were MDR... food was very good, service was too. We ate 4 dinners and 2 lunches there. Our table stewards were always on the ball. The meal did not feel over long. A highchair with a tray was available as soon as we sat down. The toddler was catered to. Her milk and fruit appetizer was there asap. The kid's menu was very kid friendly. Mac n cheese, chicken nuggets, french fries. For the older, more culinarily advanced kiddo, you can get a half portions of ANY mdr entree for your youngins. We even ordered her a crab cake appetizer because she ate half of mine. Gala night entrees were exceptional. The veal dishes and guinea with gnocchi were stand outs as were the baked crab cakes. Room service... great all around. We did at least continental breakfast with ample string coffee everyday. Write STRONG next to "coffee" if you like it that way and it will be that way. Good stuff. If you want something not on the nightly breakfast door tag, just write it on there. Other room service ordered by our group was great. The stuff from the mdr dinner menu was hot and just as tasty as that served in the mdr. Dive in burgers and dogs.... Mmmm, great burgers and dogs, FANTASTIC french fries. Get the Dive in sauce. Pinnacle Grill.... Good as always. I know some have said they see a change in the meat quality over the years and I don't doubt their observation but my 10 oz filet was almost tender enough to cut with a fork. We paid the $70 supplement for caviar (you only live once) and it was worth it to us. Blini, egg yoke and white, chives, red onion, and shiny brown teeny tasty fish eggs. When mom, mil, and son went they tried the the vegetarian (eggplant and ravioli) options and enjoyed them very much. Tamarind.... this was the best meal of the cruise for us. Service was great as well. As a group, we tried all the soups, all good but the laksa was the favorite. We tried satay sampler, the duck, and the rib appetizers and loved them all though I was partial to the ribs. We had a sushi sampler as well as tempura lobster and dragon roll. Again all were excellent. One of us has the Korean duck breast and the rest the wasabi crusted tenderloin. The tenderloin were perfectly cooked and all but one realy enjoy the crust. The other person just scrapped off some and enjoyed the rest. The duck was tender and good as well. The mushrooms and bok choy as sides were really top notch. So much flavor. Dh and I enjoyed a flask of sake each during our meal which was indeed included in our Elite beverage package. The only miss was the dessert, we all got the Tamarind chocolate at the suggestion of our server but the ginger flavor was too bold for us. It was alright though because we were all so full and we went for ice cream in the lido later that night. Staff/crew in general: Regardless of location, they were great. They loved on our daughter and made our moms feel so welcome. There was one grumpy bartender in the Pinnacle Bar but he made the best drinks on the boat so he is excused. Holland America really does pick the best people. It is their strength. Entertainment: Main Stage:First night was the Super Bowl which was presented minus commercials on the Main Stage complete with waiters taking beverage orders and attendants with trays of yummy game snacks. We saw a bit of one of the shows in the Main Stage but we are not big production people so that was really not a focus. What we did see seemed far more professional than what we have seen on HAL in the past. BB Kings... THIS is the place to be. The BB King All Stars were unreal. Candy Graham, the lady singer, could really bring the house down. The gentleman singer, I didn't catch his name, did a Marvin Gaye medley that was out of this world. 3 sets a night, first 2 were better attended but even the last set had plenty of folks dancing the night away (I am guilty as charged) Billboard Onboard... caught a couple of these sets. The pianists are very talented but I am just not the fan of this style as opposed to the old style single piano man type (think Jimmy Maddox or Stryker). But it was a good time and very very popular. We never made it to the Lincoln Center Stage though we are very much fans of classical music. But with the toddler, not the easiest thing to manage. We did miss having a jazz trio in the Ocean Bar. HAL has had some great jazz musicians there in the past. All in all though there was more than enough great music to keep us completely entertained. Drink package: First time with a drinks package. We did the Elite package as it offered a better wine selection. We were not disappointed. We never reached the 15 alcoholic beverage limit and we did get quite a few non-alcoholic beverages too; coffees, bottled water, milkshakes at the lido bar. It was worth every penny to us. We could upgrade to top shelf liquors in our mixed drinks as well or add a shot of Bailey's, Kahlua or Frangelico in our milkshakes. We also used one of our drink allowances to do a Mixology class which I highly recommend. They never fail to be fun. We did the Quench package for mom's and son. Very good choice. Never had to worry about bottled water or soft drinks plus all the mocktails at any bar and the special coffees at the Crow's Nest were covered too. Spa: First time without the Thermal Suite package. I missed it but knew with the toddler I would not have time for it. I did get an updo for both Gala nights. The stylist did a great job both nights but do go into your appointment with an IDEA of what you want or you risk looking like Tina Turner in Thunder Dome. I always peruse the daily spa specials and wasn't disappointed this time. Mini-facial, full body massage by a very strong/talented masseuse. I got my monies worth. Good experience. Ports: Standard Eastern Caribbean. Grand Turk is no longer a favorite sadly. The port area is too crowded and Margarittaville's DJ started getting vulgar pretty early in the day. We headed back to the ship at noon for lunch. We might try Jack's Shack for longer next time or just stay on the ship. I will say though that the cruise port staff were kind and the complimentary wheel chairs they offer are much appreciated. My mother in law has difficulty with long distances and that pier is a bit of a hike. The lady that helped her was a real sweet lady. We tipped her well. San Juan was very pleasant though very crowded. We got there early thankfully. Mom had never been to the forts (mil had years ago so she stayed on the ship until later) so we walked there and did that. Then we stopped in Old Town for shopping and back to the ship by 4:30pm. It rained all night so no more venturing out. St Thomas was very nice. We got a van cab to downtown. We went to Palm Passage and ate at Amalia Cafe. The food was great. Tapas, olives, gazpacho, sangria, paella, zarzuela.. fresh fish, very very good. I recomend this place. Email them for reservations though. It gets crowded. Half Moon Cay... we had the cabana with butler. It's worth it. The food was excellent and more than we all could eat. Unlimited drinks included is a very nice perk. But even without the cabana, HMC is idyllic. It is the perfect beach day. Disembarkation: Smooth. We were off by 8:45. A porter helped us with luggage and mil wheelchair. He whisked us through customs. We were on our transfer bus by 9:15. The kids: Our son who is a teen met up with some other teens onboard. The teen club is pretty free flowing and stays open on their schedule. He had fun. We also bought him the Quench Package which is unlimited non-alcoholic beverages. He used this very well on coffees and mocktails. We will buy it again. Our 1 year old daughter was too young for any shipboard activities but she was catered too and loved on by the crew and even many of the passengers. She was the "Rock Star" and we were merely her staff. I think the whole crew greeted her by name by the time we disembarked. She was very spoiled. Of note, FLL airport is a pit. I am sorry for those that like the airport. It is the worst international airport I have been in and I have been in some bad ones. It has been horrible for years but now it is intolerable. It is a quarter the size it needs to be to comfortably handle the number of travelers that move through it several days every week all fall and winter long. We will never go through FLL again. The staff are rude, the help for those with mobility issues is nil, the seating and food options are completely inadequate. We will fly into MCO (Orlando, a great airport with tons of options and cheaper flights), rent a car, and stay at a less expensive hotel north of Ft Lauderdale, do our pre-cruise shopping in comfort, and drop off the car embarkation day and take an Avis/Budget shuttle to the port. We will do the reverse when we disembark. In summary, everything HAL this trip was great. FLL airport, Embassy Suites, and Grand Turk were the only downers and things we will change in the future. We are already booked on Nieuw Amsterdam for next year we enjoyed the ship that much! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
This is a review of a recent trip on the new Holland America Line (HAL) ship Nieuw Statendam (a Pinnacle Class ship). Our trip was not a typical HAL cruise, but rather a week-long musical event that happened to take place on a cruise ... Read More
This is a review of a recent trip on the new Holland America Line (HAL) ship Nieuw Statendam (a Pinnacle Class ship). Our trip was not a typical HAL cruise, but rather a week-long musical event that happened to take place on a cruise ship. It was the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise (LRBC) #32, a celebration of several related musical styles (boogie-woogie, blues, zydeco, etc.). If you are not a fan of these types of music, this trip is definitely NOT for you. NOTE: Our overall rating does not reflect our true opinion of the ship, because we travelled under completely different conditions than we would expect to experience on a typical HAL cruise, and some of the facilities were not available (for example, Lido Pool aft). Consequently, although we would have expected to award maximum points for a trip on a ship that has been in service barely 8 weeks we believe we would be disingenuous if we did so. We are NOT going to review the LRBC; we will just mention some of our observations, where appropriate. Embarkation Very smooth and efficient. We were asked to sign a release form allowing the LRBC organisation to use any images that included us as part of their activities during and after the cruise. Not a big deal really. The Ship Nieuw Statendam is the most recent addition to the HAL fleet (first cruise Dec 18, 2018). It is a large ship, possibly the largest in the fleet, and obviously everything onboard is new. We were disappointed to discover a change in the SOLAS Drill procedure. Having praised previous HAL ships for conducting (in our opinion) a proper drill in which passengers must report to their muster stations on the promenade deck, we were not impressed to be shepherded into the Main Stage theatre and sent to our allocated sections where we sat for 30 minutes until all of the designated passengers had arrived. We have criticised another line for this method of conducting the drill, because at the end of it we still didn’t know which lifeboat we should use in an emergency. HAL lost some credibility for this change. Deck 3 is a full promenade deck, and you can walk all the way around the ship. However, the lifeboats are not suspended overhead here, but occupy a substantial amount of deck space. This reduces the available walking area considerably, and explains (we believe) the changed SOLAS procedure. It may also explain why there are no Titanic style deckchairs on the Promenade Deck (it would get uncomfortably crowded). For exercise enthusiasts one lap of the promenade is about 1/3 of a mile. Public washrooms are not always easy to find, often being hidden very discretely in out-of-the-way places around corners, in cul-de-sacs, and at the end of short corridors, and there seems to be little if any logic to their locations. In some locations the Ladies and Gents are side-by-side, in others the Ladies might be located on one side of the ship, while the Gents is on the other! Décor Art works are everywhere, mainly emphasising music (our hallway carpet featured a musical instrument pattern). Every landing displays something that catches the eye, although none of the pieces is labelled yet. TIP: you can learn more about the artwork by joining an interesting tour led by the Art Curator, or pick up a collection of explanatory notes from Guest Services. The well-chosen selections for sale in the Art Gallery are also a step up from the pieces normally seen on cruise ships and are worth a close look. The Crew Cheerful and friendly crews seem to be a feature of HAL ships. Many people from Indonesia (which used to be the Dutch East Indies, but also crew members from Europe, the Philippines, and from India. Food We found no reasons to complain about the food in any of the restaurants onboard the Zaandam. The Lido Market serves a range of interesting dishes from all over the world including Asia and Italy. It tends to get a bit hectic at times, especially when people are lining up to get served at the buffet stations. We usually ate dinner in the Main Dining Room and never regretted any of our menu choices. One menu featured calves’ liver and when it arrived it was cooked to perfection (grilled outside, pink inside). Unless cooked properly, liver can easily become leather, which is probably the reason most people tend to shun it. The menu is always very inventive, and every day it lists some dishes that you might call standards for the less-adventurous diners (for example, salmon and strip-loin steak). The normal 1st and 2nd seating arrangements were suspended for this trip, so everybody was considered to be an open-seating diner. TIP: you will enjoy faster service if you can avoid sharing a table with a large group. Dutch Café We enjoyed an excellent brunch of Dutch pancakes here. The venue was quiet when we visited, and our food was prepared very quickly. Pinnacle Grill We were offered a lunch special deal of $10.00 pp in the grill, so we decided to take up the offer. The food, service and presentation were all first class, and we were amazed to be offered such an excellent deal. Fellow Passengers A much younger demographic (our opinion) than those we have met on other HAL voyages. The number of passengers using walking frames, wheelchairs, scooters, or sticks was minimal. Most passengers seemed to be experienced LRBC patrons. Perhaps not surprisingly, the largest group of travellers came from America. Most passengers seemed to represent the Baby Boom generation; some appeared to have just returned from Woodstock. Smoking HAL has decided to allow people to use electronic cigarettes (vaping) in cabins. Some passengers must have misinterpreted this to mean smoking was also OK, as our hallway reeked of cannabis. There was generally no enforcement of rules for this particular cruise. We wish at least one cruise line would introduce a No Smoking At ALL Anywhere On Board policy – we’d be loyal supporters! TIP: smoking is NOT allowed in the casino, which means you can walk through to get to the Main Stage Theatre without getting gassed. Entertainment Venues Entertainment was almost continuous during this trip and many of the usual facilities were converted into musical venues. There are several notable areas: Main Stage This is very different from the Main Stages we've experienced on other ships. It is a large, open, ‘theatre-in-the-round’ design where (our opinion) every seat is a good seat (because it is not obstructed by a pillar). There are six huge pillars, but all are located in such a way that they do not obstruct the sightlines. Seats are organised into upper and lower areas, (decks 3 and 2 respectively) but without the typical balcony seating that overhangs the lower rows. In this respect in resembles the arrangements of a Roman amphitheatre. B. B. King’s Blue Club Compared to its equivalent found on the Nieuw Amsterdam and Eurodam, this is a much enlarged venue that now occupies 2 decks (2 and 3). It has more seating, better acoustics and better lighting. Billboard Onboard A very intimate venue where the audience can get close to the performers. Rollingstone Rock Room See comments for Billboard. Elevators The frequent movement of passengers from one music venue to the next may have been a factor on this particular cruise, but elevator capacity and speed seemed markedly lower than on other HAL ships and was a constant annoyance. The cars felt smaller and the doors took ages to close unless done manually. People must have been pushing call buttons, giving up waiting and taking the stairs as there was frequently no one there when it stopped on a floor. There are no glass elevators mid-ships. Disembarkation Smooth and very efficient, as we have come to expect from HAL. Would We Sail the Nieuw Statendam Again? Possibly. We still want to get an impression of the ship under typical HAL conditions, so we can report on its more typical routines. Of course, much will depend on its itinerary – we really don’t need to see the Eastern Caribbean again for a while. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
My sister and I chose this cruise because it was a themed girlfriend getaway cruise with O Magazine and Oprah, so we knew it was going to be amazing! I have consistently found with HAL that something extraordinary happens when I cruise ... Read More
My sister and I chose this cruise because it was a themed girlfriend getaway cruise with O Magazine and Oprah, so we knew it was going to be amazing! I have consistently found with HAL that something extraordinary happens when I cruise this line! This cruise was no different. First of all embarkation, we arrived at 1030 AM and were onboard by 11:45. Our cabin was not ready, but I was able to put my carry on bag in my cabin and we were off to have lunch and explore the ship! The ship is beautiful, with artwork all over that seemed to grab our attention and made us stop and think! I just loved the layout of the ship with many relaxing comfortable chairs to lounge around in. The only complaint I would have was the walking deck on the lower floor, the views were blocked by the lifeboats. However, the very top of the ship has a great jogging deck with unobstructed views. The crew were friendly and very welcoming! The food was delicious! We really enjoyed sitting outside near the pool and had some great pizza and salads! The entertainment was astounding. The world stage was incredible! I loved the Humanity show! Then there was all the fantastic O magazine specific presentations and workshops, all incredible! The highlights for me was the Supersoul Sunday presentation with Oprah and Tara Westover! What an unforgettable and inspiring thing to watch! Then there was the Conversation with Oprah! She is such an inspiration and I will be forever grateful I got to experience such a beautiful moment listening to Oprah with my sister! We also got to speak with Adam Glassman and he was very kind and personable! Then there was Gayle King who was everywhere, and was kind of to take hundreds of selfies with adoring fans! We saw her everywhere! The President of HAL, Orlando Ashford was out helping guests and getting the feedback on their experience on the ship! There was so many "WOW!" moments! Also, every night my sister and I couldn't wait to see what gift we were going to be given by the O magazine staff! Thank you to Jayne Jamison and her staff for being so thoughtful! We loved the little gifts and were very grateful for them all! Half Moon Caye was just beautiful! The tendering process went well. We found a nice lounger under a tree near the "I wish I could stay here forever bar" and went off to join the incredible meditation on the beach with Tracee Stanley. The beach BBQ was so good! I ate a delicious fish taco and a cheeseburger right there on the beach looking out at the pretty blue water and started humming a Jimmy Buffet song, Cheeseburger in paradise! So much fun! After that, we went for a swim, relaxed on the beach and hurried back to the ship! We didn't want to miss a thing! Our last night we got to run around the ship in PJs! It was like participating in the biggest girl slumber party ever! HAL is my favorite cruise line because they really fulfill their mission statement consistently. "Through excellence we create once-in-a-lifetime experiences, every time." I completely agree and can't wait to see what the next HAL cruise has in store for me! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
We like Holland America for the smaller ships, the excellent food, and their willingness to treat older travelers with care and respect. We've sailed on multiple other lines, but now prefer HAL as we get older. The Veendam is ... Read More
We like Holland America for the smaller ships, the excellent food, and their willingness to treat older travelers with care and respect. We've sailed on multiple other lines, but now prefer HAL as we get older. The Veendam is showing her age. Several of the elevators didn't work on a regular basis resulting in long waits or lots of stair climbing. The machines in the passenger laundromat on our deck were out of order after the first day. BUT on the plus side:....the staff was extraordinarly helpful and accommodating. The cabins, even our inside, were good sized and had LOTS of storage. The food in both the main dining room and the buffets was tasty, well prepared, visually attractive, and had good portion sizes. So many food choices....so little time. The variety of foods was amazing. The made to order crepes, omelets, and salads on the Lido were so good! And for really good fries, check out the "Dive-In" near the "indoor" pool. Their hot dogs and hamburgers are huge and tasty as well. The only food items that I found less than top quality were the breads and rolls. Those on Princess and Royal Caribbean are better. The stops on this particular eastern Caribbean cruise were interesting and all but one were at docks which we prefer over having to take tenders. We took a water taxi to the shopping area on St. Maarten but otherwise were able to walk to what we wanted to see from the ship at the other ports. We had to skip Half Moon Cay because of large waves-couldn't launch the tenders safely. The ship sponsored tours tend to be quite expensive for what you get, but it depends on what a person wants. We're not into beaches or shopping. We were able to walk around the cities at the stops and see quite a bit. The information for each town could use updating. For example, the map and information for St. John's Antigua, were not accurate at all and we ended up walking long distances to places that weren't where they were supposed to be and were in really bad condition. On the other hand, Castries on St. Lucia and Fort-De-France on Martinique were very enjoyably walkable, and we saw a lot. As is true for every cruise we've ever been on, drinks are very expensive and the pricing isn't always clear. We were charged almost $12 for souvenir drink glasses from the sail-away departure "party" - glasses that we weren't able to keep. They came around and collected them! We will sail on Holland American again, and if the itinerary were the right one, we would go on the Veendam again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We sailed on a 7 day Caribbean cruise stopping at Naassau, San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay. As seasoned Holland America cruisers, and having sailed on the Statendam in 1996, we wanted the larger ship experience. Being used to the ... Read More
We sailed on a 7 day Caribbean cruise stopping at Naassau, San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay. As seasoned Holland America cruisers, and having sailed on the Statendam in 1996, we wanted the larger ship experience. Being used to the small ships, you hardly knew that there were 2,600 guests on board. The NS is a beauty. The art is music themed and quite interesting. Weather was great and she seemed to sail effortlessly through the water with not much movement. The Lincoln Center has soothing classical type music as scheduled times. Close by is the the B.B. King Blues Band as well as the Rolling Stone Rock Room and Billboard where a husband and wife played dueling pianos.while alternating with the Rolling Stones Rock band. The dining room is beautiful. Most of our meals were taken in the Club Orange, a new restaurant for guests in Neptune categories. Guests may also join by paying a daily up charge to enjoy the amenities. No reservations were needed and the food was always tasty and above average. The new Lido Market is a treat as the food is set into various stations. Seating can be better arranged as the chairs do not slide easily on the carpet and the tables are very close together. Venues at the pool feature burgers and a New York Deli featuring fresh made deli sandwiches and pizza. There are 2 decks overlooking the pool and large screen for movie/TV/game viewing Lounge "sofas" line the areas complete with piped in sound. Embarkation was a bit confusing but very quick. Disembarkation was disorganized as the power was lost in the arrival hall and there were problems getting the gangway seated properly. We chose the $99. internet which allowed one connection at a time. This was a change from our previous Maasdam cruise where the internet was limited. Service was good even while we were at sea. We were permitted t bring 2 bottles of wine onboard. We chose the $141. - 4 wine bottle package and could take our wine back to the cabin to enjoy. We opted for the Neptune Suite cabin #5223 located in the aft corner of the ship on the starboard side with the wrap around balcony and it didn't disappoint. Read Less
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