3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
1. The title says it all! Nothing for the younger crowd. This caters to the 50 plus group. 2. Service was excellent! 3. They cram liquor down your throat! I understand that's where the money is but wow! 4. Excursions. ... Read More
1. The title says it all! Nothing for the younger crowd. This caters to the 50 plus group. 2. Service was excellent! 3. They cram liquor down your throat! I understand that's where the money is but wow! 4. Excursions. Ehh....ok. I did better with a guy in a van! And MUCH CHEAPER! 5. The ship was super clean! 6. Entertainment....not for me on this ship. And everyone goes to bed at 9! THIS IS FOR THE OLDER CROWD! If you want to relax and do nothing...this is YOUR cruise! 7. Food was good....but all the "extra" restaurants were also crammed down your throat as no one would eat there! No coffee shops no snack shops, nothing. 8. Disembarkation, IMPRESSIVE! Customs....I didn't see any! NO ONE SAID A WORD! Had a neighbor that bought $400 in tequila, they didnt even ask to hold it when he boarded! We were told to just take it to our room! When we left the ship no one cared what we had! Not even a customs form! It was great! 9. Great ship, great line but I'm going back to RC and fight the crowds! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
The first time around, it was our first cruise together. We sailed on the Eurodam in January, same itinerary, and had a wonderful time. We felt like it wasn't long enough, though, so we decided to book the same itinerary on a ... Read More
The first time around, it was our first cruise together. We sailed on the Eurodam in January, same itinerary, and had a wonderful time. We felt like it wasn't long enough, though, so we decided to book the same itinerary on a different boat. The Nieuw Amsterdam is not quite as nice as the Eurodam. Of course, it hasn't been updated as recently, so that stands to reason. For the most part, they are almost the same-- same restaurants, same staterooms, same places to spend money. But there are subtle differences. The Nieuw Amsterdam has an identity problem in its decor. Here a little Art Deco, there a little quirky, and over there-- well, the main dining room, it looks like the twin of a fancy Chinese restaurant, all in red and mirrors. It is just missing lazy susans on the tables and a gigantic fish tank. No shark tale soup on any menu, though. So, let's talk entertainment. The blues club-- can't beat it. Fun, great music, great entertainers. The classical musicians-- same same. The pianists, well, I guess others liked them, but they didn't do it for me. Mainstage entertainment-- well, were it not for the parents who decided to allow their children to climb over me (literally) and then sit, screaming, it was pretty good. The first show, all dancing, was creative-- the lights became both a character and a prop, with them dancing with the dancers. It was something I haven't seen before. The second dancing show was okay-- one dancer was significantly better than the others. She was good, she wasn't great. But entertaining enough. The magician played to a packed house. I coudn't see it because there was no where to sit. The few minutes I did, it looked like fun. Dining was hit and miss, but mostly hit. Whoever was in charge of cooking the meat hit a home run each time. Whoever was making the sandwiches needs to learn how to spread butter. Other than that, it was the usual high-quality food we have come to expect from HAL. The main issue we had with the cruise was the behavior of the children. I like kids. In fact, I have spent a lifetime teaching other people's kids. When they are well-behaved, they add a great deal to a social occasion. When they are badly behave, they ruin it. Besides the children climbing on me, then screaming, there were packs of young and pre-teens running around (yes, running,) leaving pool towels in the elevators, using the adult pool, several times, complete with floatees to jump onto, splashing the guests, shouting and jumping into the whirlpools. Our complaints seem to fall on deaf ears. And then there is the cell phone issue. Ours were on airplane mode the whole time. And yet we were charged for their service. So, we enjoyed ourselves. But we do feel like HAL has a few wrinkles to iron out. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
I recommend this cruise. We've been to these ports many times and this was by far the smoothest sailing we've been on. The weather in our Mexican ports was really good, too. Although there were over 400 children on this ... Read More
I recommend this cruise. We've been to these ports many times and this was by far the smoothest sailing we've been on. The weather in our Mexican ports was really good, too. Although there were over 400 children on this cruise it wasn't a problem, at least to us. Except for the swimming pools, which they seemed to take over, the children were a pleasure to have around. We found the staff to be very friendly and helpful. Everyone! I thought the food was very good. We opted to eat in the dining room every night because we found the food very good there. Even the buffet was, in my opinion, a little better than most other lines we've been on. The entertainment was okay. On the main stage the special effects were good, but they only had six dancers. Excellent dancers , but not exciting. However, the comedian and the magician they had on other nights were very good. We would have enjoyed a little more of a live band around the ship -- maybe by the pool. They had the BB King band, and we enjoyed them.. LOVED the two piano players, and didn't miss many of their performances. Overall, we were satisfied with the entertainment. I thought the ship was beautiful. The balcony cabin was well appointed and, of course, our cabin stewards were the best. The only complaint I have isn't with Holland America, but with Cruise Critic. This is the first time we've signed up for a roll call and not had a meet and greet on the ship. I have no idea why not. We're looking forward to another Holland America cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
They sent as a coupon. 1) My husband booked me a 2 hours spa treatment. I was taken in late for my treatment, while i did the seaweed wrap the therapist left the room , and never bothered to come check on me, and ask how i was doing. ... Read More
They sent as a coupon. 1) My husband booked me a 2 hours spa treatment. I was taken in late for my treatment, while i did the seaweed wrap the therapist left the room , and never bothered to come check on me, and ask how i was doing. The massage was probably the worst massage i have ever had. Once the treatment was done, she was trying to sell me $ 350+ worth of products, and trying to talk me into purchasing additional treatments, by pointing out my skin is sagging, my eyes are puffy etc.....very intelligent:) They put a bottle of water in your room, but there was no label or warning that they were going to charge you $ 5.75 for it! When we got the final bill they raised the daily mandatory tips at $ 14.50/person. The food in the buffet was same every single day, without a fail. As far as entertainment, not much , there was only one show worth the time in the whole week. In the day time , the ship was like a dormant boring place, unless you had plenty of cash to spare you would keep yourself entertained because all they did , tried to sell you anything. The library had no books, other than speciality travel books and such. To conclude, I think I am pretty much done cruising. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
Ship is very pretty & clean. Lovely decor and artwork. Our cabin 5090 had plenty of storage, and a bathtub! Bring a bar of your own soap if you don't like the liquid soap dispenser on the shower wall. There were inconsistencies ... Read More
Ship is very pretty & clean. Lovely decor and artwork. Our cabin 5090 had plenty of storage, and a bathtub! Bring a bar of your own soap if you don't like the liquid soap dispenser on the shower wall. There were inconsistencies between our cabin and our friends next door. We had a mag makeup mirror and a small note pad on the night table (which I used a lot). Our friends didn't have these things. We had the open dining and because of the great dining room hostess, had the same wait staff each night, whom we loved. Dining room food was usually ok. There was a meal or two we traded in, the red snapper being one. Great presentation, small quantity. We were disappointed that we were on one of 4 HAL ships in an experimental dining mode, charging $10 for a second entree. I hope this initiative fails as trying different foods is one of the best parts of cruising. We did the buffet twice for breakfast and a few times at around 3pm for a snack. We are never fans of the buffet. This one wasn't too bad though. TAMARIND is by far the best dining experience on the ship. Try it early on and go often. So pretty up there too, at the bar. Weak entertainment, disappointed at how poor most of it was. There were three nights of 14 in which we thought the Main Stage entertainment was up to cruise ship standards. BBKing All Stars consistently great in the BB King lounge. Gets people up and moving and happy. More activity choices needed, especially on sea days. America's Test Kitchen could be better with another cook/demonstrator. Same with the EXE talks by Jeanette, boring. Cruise director Nick also lackluster. This may all be by design as the clientele, at least on this cruise, much older. Many over 80. At 58 I was definitely in a minority decade represented by the guests. All services were *impeccable* EXCEPT for room service and the wait staff at both Canneletto and Pinnicle Grill restaurants. In fact room service breakfast on port days was as if it was the first day they ever offered room service breakfast on a port day. Many complaining. We had a snafu where we never did get any breakfast on a port day waiting for pre ordered room service which never arrived. I must mention they did make it up to us with hand written notes, a bottle of wine, follow up phone calls and priority delivery of room service breakfast the second (and last) time we ordered it. Loved the unlimited laundry service and they did a superb job. Passing through the Panama canal was wonderful, being served the Panama rolls and coffee throughout the early morning hours. I recommend you don't miss the early up at 5:30am to experience the canal at the beginning. I was going to skip it, BUT am so very glad I decided to get up for this once in a lifetime experience. We headed to the back of the ship on deck 9 by the pool as we left the first set of locks. Nice perspective, and not many thought of doing this. Central America hot & humid . Costa Rica our best day using a private tour company call Thumbs Up tours, their 10 in 1 day tour.Ten folks in a nice, cool van. Perfect. We loved our day at Huatulco, MX with the sandy beach and restaurants right off the ship. Great swimming cove. We did enjoy all ports. Did not do a tour in Guatemala, only walked around the "faux" town just off the ship. But with food, bars, entertainment and shopping, we had a great time there. This was my 5th cruise. Probably would use another line (Royal Caribbean again maybe) for our next one in a year or two. HAL was very good, but just a bit too low key for us. I would suggest another itinerary which may cater to younger guests or maybe not choosing HAL at all if under 45. Research it. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
Cruising through the Panama Canal was on the bucket list. HAL cruised all the way through which was the high point of the 14 day cruise. The ship was beautiful and the service overall was good, but the spa staff was highly aggressive and ... Read More
Cruising through the Panama Canal was on the bucket list. HAL cruised all the way through which was the high point of the 14 day cruise. The ship was beautiful and the service overall was good, but the spa staff was highly aggressive and treatments way too expensive. Watch your bill - we had multiple charges for other people's alcohol and for things that were included in our beverage package. They did reverse the charges, but it took time away from our cruise to get the items corrected. The cabin was comfortable and clean and the cabin stewards were wonderful. We were on the 8th deck near the bridge and had no issues with rolling seas or noise from any of the entertainment. We did have to walk through the spa area every time we went to higher decks - odd set up. We are 60 and felt like we were the babes on this cruise. This appeared to be an older group that was in bed by 9PM. The first night at sea we expected to be wowed by the entertainment. Instead we got a movie on the main stage and the sound system was not good. We saw perhaps 3-4 entertainers that were good, but this was highly disappointing for a 14 day cruise. We arranged our excursions a month or so before cruising. The descriptions were somewhat misleading - "a motorized catamaran" was actually a booze cruise with 150 other passengers - not what we pictured. We thought we were going to a nice cove to swim where we could snorkel and see the native fish. After cruising with everyone else drinking we got perhaps 30 minutes in the water with no fish at all (didn't need to bring our snorkeling equipment or the rolls we took from breakfast to feed the fish). We did sign up for one excursion on the ship and then chose not to go because we were not feeling well. HAL has a 14 day refund policy - not very accommodating on a 14 day cruise. We couldn't get a refund but could trade to a lesser priced excursion, but still lost the money. We did have a wonderful time with our dinner table - table for 8 at the 8PM seating. Overall we did enjoy our cruise. We chose the itinerary for this cruise and not the cruise line. For a number of reasons we perhaps will not cruise with HAL again. They are way too focused of making a buck. For example - every cruise we've been on before with other lines we've been able to use all of the spa facilities on the day we had a treatment. Not on HAL. Everything had a separate price tag. As a last thought - we completed HAL's online survey after our cruise and indicated that they could contact us for clarification or comments. It's been a month and there's been no attempt on their behalf to follow through. Aside from the on board cruise staff, HAL needs a lesson in customer service. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
Our trip consisted of a group of 8, all arriving from different destinations across Canada. We had a house rented in Fort Lauderdale for 3 days before the cruise, a lovely home within walking distance to the beach. Good thing we had 3 ... Read More
Our trip consisted of a group of 8, all arriving from different destinations across Canada. We had a house rented in Fort Lauderdale for 3 days before the cruise, a lovely home within walking distance to the beach. Good thing we had 3 days, because of weather we where delayed by over 24 hours. We embarked the ship in groups and met up in the buffet for lunch. Our bags arrived quicker than expected, so we sorted ourselves out, then went for a group party in one stateroom. We where on decks 4, 6,8. And we where very happy on deck 4. Turns out to be a good location to scoot out for the safety drill, a nice walk around deck 3, and also easy to run up to deck 3 if there was something to grab a photo of. We kept the tv on in our room when we where there, tuned to the forward cameras. Loved the option of viewing the Canal crossing on the TV, that was a long hot day. Every morning we enjoyed the buffet. You can’t go wrong, everything you can imagine plus some extra surprises. Lunch was by the pool at the burger place, or pizza. We only attended tea in the afternoon one day, but it was a very nice treat. Dinner we had a group table in the dining room for 8. We didn’t dine there every night, but made sure we all attended the gala nights. Other times we tried some of the different specialty restaurants available. The Pinnacle was a dinner that made you feel like you won the lotto. But our true favourite was the Tamarind. The staff made the dinner fun, and you felt truly welcomed. Plus the exceptional food, and presentation, made it a feast for the eyes. Most days, pre dinner, we attended the martini tasting, or the happy hour in the various bars. But be pre warned, the happy hour bars get full fast. We had beverage cards, so we didn’t worry about happy hour pricing. And I am glad we did, the cards where good for everything we wanted to drink, from sparkling water, to special coffees ,and drinks all around. Every day we had wonderful coffees made in the exploration area, the staff there knew your name and coffee within days. Days we didn’t go on excursions, we spent at the pool, loved the unobtrusive music. But there does need to be more shady areas. We found often people pulling chairs into doorways for shade, but that made it very inconvenient for others. Our group had all been at most of the locations on this cruise, so we didn’t depart at every port. But we really enjoyed the small markets they set up by the ship, for those who just want to purchase a souvenir. The casino was very quiet the entire trip, we did go to the bar there and lost some money at the machines. They did have some very nice piano players there as well . After dinner, it was usually a walk around deck 3 , before seeing what was on the show that night. Most nights we didn’t stay, we all found the entertainment to be lacking, the jazz band was not a group to dance to, so most just sat and listened. We all loved the national Geographic show, with the live performance. Disembarkation was a slow process, they called groups by colour, and there was even colours called that were not on the list, we where close to last. The whole finding your suitcase thing and getting in line , seemed confusing for some. Enjoyed a lovely night in San Diego before flying home. Staff who made this trip memorable: Jerry and Jenny in the martini bar. Janny in the exportation cafe. My perfect mocha. Abdul and Made who made our cabin home. Miguel and Joel who had the wine knowledge. Wayo, Davee, who served table 91 with grace. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
As frequent travellers, we are used to backpacking, expeditions, and vacations in 1 to 5 stars resorts, all inclusive or not, on all continents, but we never travelled with a large cruises ship. Yes, we had preconceptions about ... Read More
As frequent travellers, we are used to backpacking, expeditions, and vacations in 1 to 5 stars resorts, all inclusive or not, on all continents, but we never travelled with a large cruises ship. Yes, we had preconceptions about cruises, on their misuse of obsolete maritime transport laws to create tax free tourist resorts. Or their bypass of immigration laws and hiring cheap labour from around the world. However, listening to enthusiastic cruise adepts, we expected that this trip will made us change our minds. On the positive side, we found the international staff very kind and helpful. But we did not meet many Spanish speaking staff. This HAL cruise surprised us by the very similar customers aboard: mostly white couples in their seventies. As cosmopolites, somewhat younger, we enjoy more age and racial diversity, and it was strange to be in such finely targeted crowd. There was a double talk when it comes to environmental creeds, which are emphasized by HAL especially when it comes to save money for the operation, like to remind you avoid changing your towels frequently. The plastic water bottles sold in your cabin are from Europe. Fortunately, there is little plastics items used for the food service. Food is not supplied locally, everything came from US, for the whole cruise. Quite some paper spoiled with the leaflets advertising for the shops aboard. To be serious about environmental virtues, we should bear in mind that this form of sea transport use four time more fuel per passenger than a modern airplane. The 750 litres of fuel used by passenger for this 2 week cruise correspond to what I use a year with a car. And worse, after the booking, I had the feeling to be framed in a well rehearsed marketing process, with an objective to make me spend a maximum as I spend time with this company. A lot of staff and accessible surfaces on the ship are meant to bring additional income. I would have preferred a better service. The number of additional charges, and the high price of them perfectly reflects this financial objective. The time to spend on shore is very limited and the excursions highly priced. Come on, why charge $120 pp for a short visit to San Diego zoo? Before the cruise The call centre did not properly answer our questions before booking, as we noticed later. The booking process is cumbersome, with too many computer glitches encountered with browsers (I tried Microsoft explorer, Edge and Android). Some beta testing by HAL would be beneficial. Even we booked long in advance, HAL’s website, contrary to claims, did not allow us to book an hotel in FLL. The only choice offered was at $12000 per night. We booked elsewhere at a reasonable cost. Due to a light handicap, HAL requested additional documents for the cruise, and the details about these documents was not provided by HAL. We had to consult elsewhere. Due to the same condition, we booked our flights directly, and had also to organize our own transfers. The web checking process difficult, again with too many issues with browser. And finally, the departure flight information was requested again by HAL on the ship. I had also to sign an abusive long contract, which I should better have read before booking. In a summary, it reads ‘HAL is not responsible’. Eg the amount covered for lost luggage are ridiculous low. Embarking Very noisy hall at FLL terminal, it was hard to sustain a conversation in it. Luggage handling was OK, but with some delay. At the counter, it took long because person there did not know how to handle our special documents. Finally, we were asked to go to customer desk to have copies of our extra paperwork (even they had to be emailed to HAL before the cruise) For doing so there was a long waiting line at the customer desk. The customer desk clerk made copies of these documents, but forgot to return one original. Glad we checked, so we could get it back. The dinner time requested at booking was changed by HAL to less favourable to us, without explanation or excuses. It was difficult to have it changed afterwards. Even so, we were surprised by the absence of hosting from staff, in the sense of grouping people by affinities or languages. The second day of the cruise the customer desk requested again these documents. We had to elevate the tone and threaten to file a complain about harassment before we suddenly got to talk to somebody reasonable. In conclusion, the customer desk staff is not competent for anything but routine. The coordination between headquarters and the ship seems poor. Too long waiting time to access the customer service desk. Ship More than 2000 passengers. A dining hall and a self-service restaurant (plus 3 speciality restaurants, accessible at an additional high charge). Large surfaces devoted to shops, casino, photography, spa, wine cellar and other income generating activities. Not much space left for sports. Outdated decoration, interior brass and gold plated, in fifty shades of beige. Display of art not curated. More than 800 employed on the ship. Seems quite a high figure, but a share of staff is in income making activities at casino, spa, jewellery shops, excursions. And there is also the sailing, navigation crew, and the maintenance crew counted in it, so we understand that the customer service crew or hotel staff was overwhelmed. As welcome drink, we observed the desk selling beers, bottled water and soft drink cans. One day as we returned to the ship we were offered a glass of water and a refreshing towels. The other days nobody was around. The number of elevators is insufficient with such high proportion of customers with mobility issues. Expect to wait. The best spots for seating outside on the deck are covered with a tent and named ‘cabanas’ and accessible only at an additional fee, and left empty most of the time. The Neuw Amsterdam is not so new anymore, and the maintenance was done during the cruise. Unfortunately, we were nauseated by the smell as the whole hull was getting a new coat in Puerto Vallarta, or as the handrails were varnished, or at sea when the upper part of the ship was repainted. More precautions should have been taken to avoid unhealthy solvent be pumped in the air-conditioning system. We had to vacate our cabin. And so, HAL saves on ship yard. Last day ‘at sea' we refused to leave the stateroom to allow for more scheduled maintenance, in that case, a wet carpet cleaning. On the day of arrival, we could not access the patio again, as the outside of ship was undergoing more M&R. Cabin (called stateroom) Small. Balcony (pompously named verandah) allows for two chairs. The safe was not ok, as its battery was low. We had to wait quite long in the room to have it fixed. Clean, except stained sofa, walls and bed cover. On windy days, to avoid draft and strong whistling, we patched the patio door joints with duck tape. Fridge hardly cold. TV entertainment not as good as on an airline. Sink with cracks. Cabin due for an update. As the weather got colder at the end of the cruise, we were surprised that the air-conditioning could not to be disconnected, even temperature went too low. With a non-responsive customer desk, it took 10 hours to be fixed. Food & beverages Generally speaking noisy restaurants. Room service at no additional charge for a limited selection of dishes or drinks, or with an additional charge for others. Breakfast was delivered half an hour before requested time, with the explanation ‘It is a busy day’. Slow on some other days. Breakfast time at restaurants should have been adjusted for early arrival at port of call. Dining hall The dishes served did frequently not correspond to the pretentiously redacted menu, with ingredients listed missing or substituted. Obviously, the cooks did not read the menu, or tried to do savings on ingredients. Eg Grand Marnier, truffles, half avocado, maple syrup. Meal after meal, the comparison of the dishes with the ‘fancy’ menu became a subject of laughter. We had fun with the leftover potato soup was renamed Sunchoke Soup on Gala Night. Generally speaking rather poorly presented dishes with bland taste. Service was kind, but staff overwhelmed. Not trained to handle dishes, bottle and glasses quietly. It generally took 1 ½ hour for a seated dinner. Nice white tablecloth and tableware, and even a flower. Too many breaded dishes like scallops, sweetbread, sole, chicken ‘pillard’. Large parking area for scooters. Self service restaurant Lido No available tables as many tables for 4 are taken by couples or singles, even for filling the daily (free) crossword. To choose your table, arrive early! Chairs adapted for high BMI. Large choice of food, put on a plate by the staff at the stations where you line up. Due to communication issues, we frequently got too large servings. By the end of the cruise we got the impression that some buffet dishes were left exposed too long, like dried out mexican rice or sour smelling beans. Exaggerated additional charge for speciality restaurants. The ginger lobster served at the ‘fusion’ Tamarind was excessively salted. We did not visit the two other ones, as we got the same feeling of pretence from their fancy menus (Escargots? canned or frozen?). Not much spices used and the bland food served is compatible with dentures, except short ribs or striploin. Selection of sugar free dishes. We did not have the impression that many clients had digestive troubles, but be prudent about complaining about it at the medical facility, as you may get quarantined. In short, pretentious menus and mediocre food. Drinks Drinks are highly priced and another service charge added on each bill, on top of the daily $15 pp obligatory service charge. Wine or beer billed at 5 to 6 times the market price. Water, tea or filter coffee are complimentary. Unlimited fountain drinks for $8 per day. Other daily passes for unlimited alcoholic beverages. Unfair and peculiar rules about these passes, as they have to be bought for the whole cruise, or that everybody in the cabin has to buy the same pass. ‘Enrichment’ activities onboard Quite a high proportion of activities with additional charges, e.g. Half an hour meditation for $12. Many activities are meant to showcase the shops, casino, bars or spa. Bingo cards at $5. The cycles at the fitness are only meant for cycling classes at 12$. No fitness instructors besides classes. Very slow internet access at an excessive price. At the arrival, on a day of disrupted air travel, it would have been kind to make the wifi free for everyone. The mainstage had some pleasant shows, by professionals, but they lacked spontaneity. As we travelled during Carnival week, we vainly expected some reference to it. The sound on the BBKing club and the mainstage is set so loud that if you do not wear hearing aids, you will soon need some. Better use protective ear plugs. Small shows with local dancers on the rear deck. We liked the dancing classes. Excursions Long waiting before departure. The EXC staff selling them seemed overwhelmed, and there was a long waiting line. Anyway, they could not provide us the practical information about where was the supermarket we needed or where to get a fast web access. We had an enquiry about an excursion, and were told that we will get the answer later… we did not get it. Generally speaking the excursions are highly priced. E.g. in Huatulco, a snorkelling tour was offered for $80 pp. We took a taxi to this same beach and rented the equipment for a total of 300 pesos for two. Unfortunately, in three ports of call the ship was moored along a similar sized cruise ship, the Coral Princess. This was not a smart, as it brought quite a crowd getting ashore. A port of call, Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala was very unpleasant, as the ship moored in a polluted coal harbour. Taxis were not allowed to access to the ship there and we had to walk a mile way from the entrance of the port to the ship. The time allowed ashore was short, and we made the best of it with a local taxi or just by walking. So, we had the chance to practise some Spanish, and we could adapt to the weather and our envy. And got also quite some authentic memories or photos. Disembarking The announcement on the PA were not very audible, as the are mixed with music and static on TV. It was delayed, and service staff impatient to get to cabin. The questionnaire we received by email after the cruise did not cover all the sides of HAL’s services. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We wanted to see Panama Canal, particularly the old part of it. I have done one passing in my previous career at sea more than 30 years ago, on a freighter. Since HAL had a good itinerary suiting the best for our schedule and that ... Read More
We wanted to see Panama Canal, particularly the old part of it. I have done one passing in my previous career at sea more than 30 years ago, on a freighter. Since HAL had a good itinerary suiting the best for our schedule and that there was so good ratings with HAL with travelers with similar preferences we did not hesitate to book this trip, our first on HAL. Our preferences were quite traditional: Piece and quietness, well mannered co-passengers, dining experiences with lots of choices and styles, civilized onboard activitities and entertainment, interesting excursions, kind and friendly staff and responsible shipowners with competent crew. Particularly we were not after activities some other latest cruise ships may offer for families and younger clientele, We tried to avoid cruse lines with all-day partying and noisy teens and kids around. As a summary HAL offered all this in very sophisticated way. Onboard staff exceeded any of our previous experiences. Based on recommendations on the CC HAL group, before boarding we visited at the Total Wine iand picked up a 6 bottle box of selected wines based on their recommendation of "a taste of America". However, after the trip found that the selections onboard was perfectly adequate, if not US-centric. Check-In Fort Lauderdale was done in breeze by very helpful officer, particularly noticing we were not that experienced cruisers on HAL. We boarded soon before noon and had a wonderful lunch served in the MDR after settling in to our cabin. The VD Class cabin was on the 7th deck with a veranda. It was not a suite, but spacious enough for two of us. For our surprise, there was enough storage space even for a much longer trip. There was absolutely no noise from neighboring cabins or from the corridors. Completely quiet, apart quiet hum from the AC. We found ship interiors very nicely designed and we felt being at home soon after boarding. Most of the fellow passengers were naturally from US and Canada, also quite big part, probably a few hundred passengers from Europe and from South America and Far East.. Based on the Skipper's, Jeroen van Donselaar's note, there were some 2100+ passengers and 800+ crew members onboard, so the ship was practically fully booked. Cruise itself offered everything and beyond we expected. For our surprise the seadays were anything but boring. The days were full of activities, e.g. starting from presentation of the ports we were going to call, Digital Workshops, recitals on the Lincoln Center, stand up shows and other performances after dinner at the Main Stage ending upto enjoying the B.B. King's Club. BTW, they played really well. About dining experience, we had dinners in all the restaurants, twice in the Pinnacle Grill, once in Rudy's, once in Tamarind, once in Canaletto and Lido, rest in the MDR. In general, we were fully content with the MDR, but Pinnacle offered us the something to remember for long time. My personal favorite was the Sole Meunier at the MDR, but it was available only once soon after departure, Based on our experience it's difficult to fully understand those who in CC HAL Forum have complained MDR being not upto their standards. Dover Sole in Rudy's; the Maine Lobster, Tartar Steak and Filet Mignon at the Pinnacle. Tamarind was excellent, but as have traveled lots in the far east, we found it a (little bit) too westernized. Sushi was available daily at the Lido. And now we still miss Hamburgers in the Dive In. They were special. Really. Shore excursions we pre-booked, were mostly as expected: In Cartagena the old town was really nice and worthwhile to visit, could have spend a lots of more in the town. Passing Panama Canal was a really highlight of the day. For an ex Sailor (Master Mariner), like me, this was a really meaningful event. We passed the Canal through the old locks, far more interesting than the new ones, which were apparently not that busy on our day of passing. In Costa Rica we chose an Exc to flower gardens up to the mountain having a magnificent view over to the Pacific. We managed to see a pair of macaws not too far away in the garden and a number of crocodiles on the way. It was most beautiful landscape. Time to visit there was far too short, again. In Nicaragua we had a trip to a banana plantation owned by a local prominent family, supplying their products to major brands. Lots of manual, minimally paid work needed before products can be shipped. Highlight of that trip was to see the landscape with active volcanoes on the way. Local people were extremely friendly with us. Really difficult to figure out how they manage to struggle with the average salaries paid in that country. We hope they will manage with their struggle with economy, e.g. expanding from agriculture to tourism. In Guatemala we had another trip to a Coffee Plantation and a small city on the mountain area. Was really beautiful, again. There were also two Mexican ports, Huatulco and Puerto Vallarta on the way. Enjoyed both excursions to the country side. Street vendors in Cartagena and Guatemala were some degree of nuisance, but nothing unexceptional for 'seasoned travelers'. Before the trip we had concerns, e.g. how to cope potential 'cultural differences' during the two weeks with the fellow passengers mostly from US and Canada since we are not that extrovert. That proved to be a non-issue. With all people we spoke with were most friendly curious and knowledgeable what's going outside US. Quite a number of them had visited even to our home country, Finland, on their previous cruises or careers. So overall, would wholeheartedly recommend Panama Cruise with HAL anyone expecting a classy experience to pass the Canal, see beautiful countries with friendly people of Columbia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico, spend time with fellow most nice passengers on a well maintained ship with a stellar crew. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We have only sailed on Celebrity ships before; enough to rise to the elite level which also entitles us to several perks. So why sail on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam? We wanted to do the ocean to ocean Panama Canal itinerary in the ... Read More
We have only sailed on Celebrity ships before; enough to rise to the elite level which also entitles us to several perks. So why sail on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam? We wanted to do the ocean to ocean Panama Canal itinerary in the late winter or early spring when it was cold in the Washington, DC area. Celebrity no longer offered this cruise during this time of the year. So, we reviewed the ships that sailed during this time and decided that the Nieuw Amsterdam would be our choice. (Note: We did compare the Nieuw Amsterdam to the other Holland America ships that provided this itinerary. The Nieuw Amsterdam was reviewed best by Cruise Critic.) How did we like the cruise? Staff. The service staff in all areas of the ship were wonderful, especially their personalities and how they strove to accommodate all requests. Of course, we would only politely ask for something that our experience indicated was reasonable and also within the prevue of a particular service person. We particularly were impressed with the towel creatures left on our beds at night and learned onboard about how they were created and surprisingly how little time each one takes to create. Stateroom. We thought the stateroom size, bathroom (with tub), balcony, comfort of the bed, sitting area, and storage areas were all quite nice---certainly not to be outdone by the Celebrity Infinity which was their ship sailing this itinerary. The stateroom attendants kept the cabin clean and neat daily and were very responsive to requests; although, we had few. Dining. We were pleased with the breakfast and lunch buffets in the Lido; although, we thought the choices and quality of the food were good, but not exceptional–choices and quality for breakfast better than for lunch. The poolside hotdog/hamburger and pizza options helped to make some of our lunches enjoyable. We were not so satisfied with the Lido evening dining because of the limited selection and quality of the food the one night we dined there. Of course, the staff was attentive and friendly. Our regular evening meals were in the Dining Room on deck 3. We thoroughly enjoyed the staff. However, there were only a few dishes that we truly enjoyed eating. We found most of the food unappealing, often inadequately prepared, and providing unsatisfying pleasure. The wienerschnitzel and the surf and turf were the two entrée selections that we found quite appealing. We particularly enjoyed the desserts which had plentiful choices and were mostly prepared well and quite tasty. The entrees we selected in the Pinnacle Restaurant, particularly the Alaska King Crab, was by far the best entrée enjoyed during the cruise. We would have expected that the regular Dining Room would have provided more of this level of quality. Entertainment. The performers in the Mainstage theater were just ok, especially in comparison to our Celebrity experiences. That said, the comic John Wing and the English piano player/comic, Brett Cave, were quite enjoyable. We wouldn’t want to see any of the other acts twice. The cruise’s backup band and the classical quintet were superb. Playing together on the Mainstage to provide the musical background for the featured nature film was a great way to highlight their talents. A particular performance highlight was the Columbian Ambassadors who provided a show on the Mainstage one afternoon. In our opinion, they provided the best performance of the entire cruise and should have had more exposure--perhaps an evening performance. Finally, we thoroughly enjoyed the performance featuring members of the wonderful Filipino staff performing with great enthusiasm. Shore Excursions. We enjoyed the excursions we selected which included city highlights, horseback riding, rafting, snorkeling, zip lining, nature watching on a river, and an equestrian show. The only excursion we were quite disappointed with was the Lake Atitlan full day excursion which required a 2 ½ hour, extremely bumpy bus trip followed by a 45 minute boat ride across an average-looking lake to an unexceptional resort for a basically enjoyable lunch followed by a 45 minute return boat ride exactly the same as the first one, followed by a 2 hour return bus ride exactly the same as the first one, but a half-hour shorter because of driving downhill, and less bumpy apparently due to the lighter loads of trucks going toward the port. All in all, this excursion included too much traveling with very minimal enjoyment for the effort. We also noticed that the Holland America written descriptions of the shore excursions that we took were often not truly reflective of the actual experiences. That said, it was still only the one excursion mentioned above that was disappointing and perhaps a more accurate description of the excursion would have helped us to make a better decision. Informational and Cultural Lectures. In particular, the Shore Excursion informational leader, Jeanette, was superb. Her presentation describing the next day’s experience of sailing through the Panama Canal was clear and comprehensive, allowing an enjoyable understanding of the next day’s experience. Additionally, Jeanette’s other presentations providing information of what we’d see upon arriving in other destinations was thoroughly well done and appreciated. Holland America Onboard Internet. The Holland America onboard internet that provided information about daily activities and dining menus, person-to-person onboard texting, and enabled us to keep track of our own cruise itineraries was extremely effective, reliable and useful. That said, access from our cell phones were not up to the exemplary level of the in-cabin TV access and the technical staff should strive to make both access pathways equally effective. In Conclusion. The purpose of the trip was to enjoy the ocean to ocean Panama Canal itinerary during the late winter or early spring. Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam provided the desired itinerary. The stateroom, the Lido breakfast and lunch buffet along with the hotdog/hamburger and pizza poolside options, the shore excursions, the informational/cultural lectures, the Pinnacle specialty restaurant, and the entire staff were, in our opinion, quite good. The entertainment and the evening dining were, in our opinion, just average. Will we sail with Holland America in the future? Probably not, particularly because the entertainment and evening dining we’ve experienced on Celebrity ships—which we consider to be extremely important parts of the cruising experience—are much better. Read Less
Nieuw Amsterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.5 0.0
Public Rooms 4.5 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 4.5 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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