Sail Date: August 2019
We decided with friends we wanted to do an Alaskan cruise for our special Anniversaries and we researched a few alternatives and finally chose Holland and America. Having cruised before with other companies we had an idea of what we liked ... Read More
We decided with friends we wanted to do an Alaskan cruise for our special Anniversaries and we researched a few alternatives and finally chose Holland and America. Having cruised before with other companies we had an idea of what we liked and didn’t like. Holland and America did not disappoint, the ship was a good size with plenty of space. We had a lovely outside cabin with a good sized bathroom. The choices of dining was very good made better by a complimentary meal in the Pinnacle Grill on our first night which served up one of the best beef tenderloins I have ever tasted, all our meals were good so we booked to go back on our last night and again didn’t disappoint, would definitely recommend.All the staff on the ship were very friendly and helpful. The choice of excursions were excellent and ports of call good. We enjoyed what Holland and America had on offer and will definitely choose them again in the future. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
After dreaming about visiting Alaska for years, we East Coast frequent travelers took the plunge when my brother & sis-in-law, veteran cruisers, suggested this trip. We planned & conferred for almost 2 years on the details before ... Read More
After dreaming about visiting Alaska for years, we East Coast frequent travelers took the plunge when my brother & sis-in-law, veteran cruisers, suggested this trip. We planned & conferred for almost 2 years on the details before booking with HAL. The experience has become one of the most memorable travel experiences we've ever had. Our sole complaints were right at the start & right at the end - at Vancouver's Canada Place, so I'll dispense with them: once our bags were dropped off, there was absolutely not a soul, nor even signage, to direct us where to begin the embarkation process. After approx. 90 minutes of confusion & waiting in seemingly endless lines, we finally stumbled into 'priority boarding' & breezed through the last 5 minutes. Once again, during disembarkation, which we managed fine on our own, confusion reigned, followed by more long lines. Let me note that we're more than accustomed to Customs & Immigration requirements, having lived in Europe for many years, & continue to visit family there regularly. But it was the total lack of direction at Canada Place we found disconcerting. Finally, at first glance, the taxi line seemed endless, but actually moved along at a good clip, efficiently orchestrated by real people in neon vests, with whistles! From cabin to MDR to Neptune Lounge, I cannot say enough about the staff & crew aboard the NA, who all worked long hours to make our sailing special, always with a smile & greeting. The beautiful NL was stocked with snacks, fruit, juice, coffee/tea & water most of the day. At one point, during a family emergency at home, on a sea day when we had no service on our phones, the concierge in the Lounge put a call through to our room at no charge! Her kindness during a difficult situation will remain with us always. As for dining, we could have opted to have breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill each AM, but were initially unaware that meals take longer there, & my husband was on the clock to make an early excursion, for which he then had to hustle. As a result, we preferred to eat breakfast & dinner in the MDR, never needing a reservation, where my food allergy was accommodated with specially prepared (yummy) meals I'd selected from a printed menu the night before. Bottles of sparkling water I purchased at dinner were taken back to our room to use later, but all the water on board was perfectly potable. As the sole-but-modest drinker in our party, I also purchased a bottle of Prosecco, which the sommeliers re-corked & brought to me on subsequent nights, chilled & still bubbly! Due to my food issue, we had only a couple of plain sandwiches, fruit, or sweet snacks at the buffet - all good. During the height of lunch rush, seating at the Lido deck can be difficult to find, unless you find folks willing to share or about to leave a table. There are three premium & two light-meal restaurants in addition to these. We treated ourselves to dinner in the Pinnacle Grille on our final night at sea - again, delicious. Additionally, my husband requested seating at an officer's table one night, which the four of us enjoyed. He is the IT officer, a tremendously interesting family man from whom we learned so much about his home country of Croatia. As mostly early risers, we didn't linger all that late, but took in a magic show & a brief stint at BB King's Blues Club. They earned passing grades, but we didn't feel they were exceptional. There was also a fascinating & beautifully shot wildlife film shown in the Mainstage. We took part in four excursions between us & highly recommend them all: Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer, Gastineau Guiding Whales & Glacier (Small Group) Photo Safari out of Juneau, White Pass Summit Railway out of Skagway, & for something literally off the beaten path: Adventure Kart expedition out of Ketchikan. We aren't big-time shoppers, so although we'd like to have had more time & energy to check out Juneau & Ketchikan, our experiences were priceless & unforgettable, especially as we had near-perfect weather. Our first view of the evening twilight sky in the Crows Nest was so gorgeous we were all at the windows, cell phones in hand. Need I mention that Glacier Bay up on the front deck was a memorable day? The week on board Nieuw Amsterdam went by way too quickly! Luckily, we were able to ferry across to Victoria for 4 days after the cruise, one of which was Canada Day,then finishing up in Vancouver. Given the time, I highly recommend Butchart Gardens outside Victoria, Capilano Suspension Bridge near Vancouver, & the scenic area surrounding Whistler, north of Vancouver. As an amateur photographer, I had a blast! Some of the most spectacular shots I got were right from the balcony - in bare feet & pajamas late into the evening or early in the morning. To say we'd cruise the Inside Passage on HAL again is a given, next time with a land portion. We're hooked now & can't wait! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
PROS: Nice ship, not huge, older crowd, not crowded, many places to hang out. Good entertainment, though a couple more movies would have been nice, Comfy beds, attentive housekeeping. We loved having a balcony with a plexiglass railing. ... Read More
PROS: Nice ship, not huge, older crowd, not crowded, many places to hang out. Good entertainment, though a couple more movies would have been nice, Comfy beds, attentive housekeeping. We loved having a balcony with a plexiglass railing. (check for that, some have metal railing and you need to stand up to see) Generally good food with lots of choices. I do like that they serve smaller portions to avoid food waste, Servers attentive. My family enjoyed the entertainment - the magician and the comedian especially CONS: Nothing to do for young adults. My recently turned 18 year old (1 day before the cruise started) was not allowed in the teen club to play foosball with his younger sister (no one else was there), so they could only play ping pong (only 2 tables for the whole ship) Both pools are very small, the bigger one is about the size of our backyard pool. The adults-only pool had screaming kids in it and none of the waiters did anything about it. The pizza at the New York Pizza kiosk is horrible. It tastes like cardboard. You have to purchase bottled sparkling water, they should have carbonated water dispensers like they do in bars/restaurants/fast food everywhere.. Most gym classes are not free and generally too early on days at sea. Club Hal has limited hours (for example only 1-4pm in the afternoon…) Too many events/people trying to sell you something. The smoking area is below the kids’ club, so the smell of smoke is all over that floor. Further, you have to walk trough the smoking area and it’s not pleasant. There is no ventilation on the side of that area, so it gets pretty gross.. Overall, we enjoyed our cruise and would go back on HAL. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
Background: This was our first cruise so it was a learning experience figuring everything out. Getting There: We had a 6 am flight from SFO to Vancouver. We took a taxi from the airport to 999 Canada Place. It was $35 flat rate ... Read More
Background: This was our first cruise so it was a learning experience figuring everything out. Getting There: We had a 6 am flight from SFO to Vancouver. We took a taxi from the airport to 999 Canada Place. It was $35 flat rate for 4 people. The taxis up to 4 people in addition to the driver and have a pretty large trunk that can fit 3-4 large suitcases. Definitely recommend this for larger groups since the cost relatively to public transit will be roughly the same. We got to the cruise terminal at around 10. Checking in and customs took a while. On our departure date there was one other cruise ship at the terminal. We were able to board around 11:30 at which time lunch was being served. Where were went: June 8th 2019 - Vancouver June 9th 2019 - Inside Passage June 10th 2019 - Juneau June 11th 2019 - Skagway June 12th 2019 - Glacier Bay June 13th 2019 - Ketchikan June 14th 2019 - Inside Passage June 15th 2019 - Disembark Rooms: Our group was 4 people in two rooms. 1) Balcony (parents/boomers) - This was mid ship on 5th floor. The view out of the balcony was beautiful and unobstructed. We notice this room was had much less motion than the other room we had. If you think you may get seasick definitely get a room lower down mid ship. 2) Oceanview (Sister and I/millennial) - This was on the 10th floor at the very front of the boat. This room was all the way up front and had a great view of exactly where the ship was heading. This room was much bigger than the other stateroom. But motion was definitely more noticeable even when the seas appear relatively calm. Excursions: We took two excisions on are cruise which were: 1) The Grand Tour of Juneau bus tour. This took us to Glacier Gardens park, a Salmon hatchery, and Mendenhall Glacier. We had a great guide (Bryan Wilson) who was both entertaining and very informative. The Salmon hatchery was slightly disappointing because the only salmon we saw were little hatchlings in holding tanks from a distance. 2) White Pass Summit Railroad in Skagway. This was by far my favorite thing whole trip. Very scenic and great photo ops. This was 2.75hrs round trip. Our guide Tyler was very informative and pointed out all the highlights so we could have our cameras ready. Entertainment: 1) Live music: The options were very good. They cover many genres. The Billboard Onboard in particular had good audience engagement. 2) In suite entertainment: -TV: There were only a few channels but had most based covered (Fox, MSNBC, CNN, BBC, ESPN) Got lots of coverage on NBA finals even though my local team the Warriors lost.... -Movies: The movie selection was very good. It had a lot of the newer Marvel movies including Captain Marvel, which was just very recently released on digital release/Blu-ray. Food: - Lido: We ate all our breakfast, lunch, and some dinners here. Breakfast being my least favorite since selection was limited and pretty much the same every day. Best described as a continental breakfast I found a lot of the items particularly the meats to be excessively oily. The lunch and dinner menu were also roughly the same through the entire trip with minor variations throughout. Overall food quality and selection was good but not great. - Main Dining: Had 3 dinners here including a gala night that had the surf and turf. For the most part the menu is not that different from the Lido Market. Service was good and friendly but a bit slow. I felt they were slightly pushy about upselling bottle water, alcohol, and other drinks. - NY Pizza: You could select a pizza (various ones named after NY boroughs) or build your own. You could also get them box so you could bring it back to your room or wherever else to eat. Pretty quality was okay. Pizzas are only one size (roughly a small) - Dive In: Good burgers here. I particularly liked the hotdogs. Hours were a bit limited I think 11:30 - 5:30 most days. The fries and dipping sauce were also very good. Fitness: - The fitness room is a good sized. It has free weights, weight machines, and cardio machines. The free weight section is limited to dumbbells and I think they maxed out at 70lbs. Machine selection is good you can get a good upper body and lower body workout. I normally went in the evening around 8pm (it closes at 9pm) so it was never packed. I assume its busier during the day but on random times I stopped by it was never crowded. Overall I'm very pleased with the cruise and look forward to doing it again some day. If you were on my cruise hit your boy and exchange pictures/stories! Also feel free to ask if you have any questions I can help answer about your cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
This was our first cruise, and coming off a cruisetour (Y4L) we had four days on the ship. We had an opportunity to upgrade to a Signature Suite from a Veranda and glad we did. This put us in room 6072 in the middle of the ship. We had a ... Read More
This was our first cruise, and coming off a cruisetour (Y4L) we had four days on the ship. We had an opportunity to upgrade to a Signature Suite from a Veranda and glad we did. This put us in room 6072 in the middle of the ship. We had a larger bathroom and room to spread out. The veranda was a wonderful place to view the glaciers on our day in Glacier Bay. We ate at the Lido buffet for breakfast and lunch all days. It was easy to go at any time and there was a huge variety of food choices. I particularly liked the omelet station for breakfast. Easy to be healthy and easy to indulge for all meals. We had dinner at the Dining Room. We had open seating and for 3 of our 4 nights were seated with other people. Again, we found the food to be delicious with plenty of choices. One evening my husband asked for extra steak when he ordered and they were more than happy to oblige. We were there for a Gala Night and we dressed up and enjoyed a special dinner. Service was great. Entertainment on the boat was outstanding. We went to BB Kings every night, the Billboard pianists were fabulous, and we went to an afternoon performance at Lincoln Center Stage. Very talented musicians who worked hard to entertain the crowd. We did not see any of the stage shows in the evening. We were too busy enjoying the music! We also used the health club. Plenty of treadmills, bikes, ergs and machines. Some free weights too. It was not crowded and we were able to use the equipment we wanted. The treadmills were placed at the windows in the bow which my husband enjoyed. I liked working out without looking out to sea so something for everyone. Our third day on the boat we stopped at Ketchican. We planned to hike Deer Mountain at this stop and since the weather was good we stuck with our plan. We grabbed a cab when we came off the ship that took us to the trailhead. Glad we did. It was an uphill walk and the cab knew exactly where we were going. We walked back into town after the hike and had some time to poke into the shops before boarding the ship. By our last day we felt we knew our way around. There is a daily schedule of activities so always something going on if you were looking for something to do. A little sad to say goodbye but the four days on the ship were a great way to relax after the busier pace on land. It was an older crowd for the most part on land and on the ship. We had a couple on their honeymoon on the land tour and there were some young families on the ship. If you are looking for the big shows and non-stop entertainment this might not be your cruise/cruisetour but it was just perfect for us. Already thinking about going back to Alaska! Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
This was our fifth cruise, with Holland America, so I have no comparison to make with other cruise lines. It is obvious during the embarkation, that this is not “their first go-round”. Moving 2000+ people onto the floating hotel is no ... Read More
This was our fifth cruise, with Holland America, so I have no comparison to make with other cruise lines. It is obvious during the embarkation, that this is not “their first go-round”. Moving 2000+ people onto the floating hotel is no mean feat. Add to the fact there’s another cruise ship, different line, loading for the same departure time. These folks do a marvelous job, the Port of Vancouver is a great place to depart from. I am totally amazed by the comments of folks doing reviews for Cruise Critic. Fortunately you can read all the comments, and sometimes wonder “did these folks travel on the same ship?” How can one person be so positive and another negative. Well that’s the way it is, we are all different and we all see things through different eyes. But with the Cruise Critics’ review, you can at least sort out the wheat from the chaff. every review was negative, then the cruise line has a problem - a mixture gives each line a chance to iron out the negatives. Our fifth cruise, this time on the Nieuw Amsterdam, went without a hitch. Embarkation was as smooth as the previous four trips. Our cabin was ready and we met our cabin stewards. Now, these folks meet several people each trip, how do they remember our names? Holland America trains these stewards to do their job, and part of that is getting to know your clients (and that’s what we are). Our Veranda stateroom was everything we’d expected. There is plenty of room for two and the outside deck is an added benefit. The Nieuw Amsterdam is a beautiful ship, wandering around you get to appreciate the effort in making this ship. If your only efforts take you from your stateroom to the Lido or Main Dining Room, you are wasting your travel time. In many reviews I have read that critics have said the trip is boring, there’s nothing to do. HAL regularly prints daily schedules of activities and events. Should you chose to ignore those, then yes, you will have a boring do nothing cruise. Food, does that interest anyone - the Nieuw Amsterdam has every type of venue available, and I had to say they are all top notch. From the Dive In and Pizza place to the Main Dining Room and the pay extra dining. You can have whatever you may wish, you will not be disappointed. On this trip at each stop, Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan there were three other cruise ships, all arriving and departing at similar times. That’s somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 cruisers joining the locals. And yet it doesn’t seem excessive. There was a little sea movement between Ketchikan and the northern Vancouver Island, this was to be expected, but had very little effect on us. Weather forecasting sometimes is misleading. If we’d planned our trips on two-week forecasts, we’d never travel. On the week 18-25 May 2019, the weather gods blessed us. Arriving back in Vancouver, our disembarkation was as smooth and our embarkation Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
As the title says this was the first time we have travelled on HA and our first time in Alaska, so good we had friends along with us for the ride. Vancouver is a great place and a great place to embark and disembark, we found the whole ... Read More
As the title says this was the first time we have travelled on HA and our first time in Alaska, so good we had friends along with us for the ride. Vancouver is a great place and a great place to embark and disembark, we found the whole experience so simple, HA and the local port authority really had this sorted to the infinite details. You are always concerned that embarkation especially with customs as we are not local citizens will take a lot of time imagine our surprise then when the whole thing only took approximately 40 minutes! We had an inside cabin, which at first I was sceptical of, however, I shouldn't have been as it was large and very well appointed, in fact we had plenty of room for the luggage that we had bought with us. Our steward, Suko, did an excellent job of looking after us for the week. Personally I liked the layout of the ship ad found it quite easy to find our way around. The food in the buffet, main restaurant and in Tamarind was excellent, the latter being our best experience. To be honest though we really could not fault the food or the serving staff who were excellent. The bar at the Tamarind was lovely. We enjoyed the 4 o'clock extra drink for US$ 2 almost every day, or certainly on all the sea days and we also enjoyed the sip and savour which I thought was an excellent idea. The ship was spotlessly clean and always being worked on by the staff who did a great job. I thought the gym was one of the best I have seen on-board a ship and my wife and our friends also had a great time when they used the spa. The only real grumble was the entertainment on-board. The band in BB Kings every night were fantastic but that is really where the entertainment ended for us, the comedian was awful, we left after 15 minutes, the jokes weren't particularly funny and the material was aimed at the US guests. In my opinion HA need to make more use of the main stage or they could lose guests to lines which provide a more robust entertainment package. The bar/coffee shop at the front of the ship on 11 was also not my favourite place, it never really felt like a bar to be honest although clearly on the day we were in Glacier Bay it provided an excellent look-out point. We only did one trip with HA which was well organised and I thought well-priced, this was the trip to the Mendenhall glacier with a whale watching trip which was one of the highlights of the whole trip. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
I'll sum the whole experience up this way: it was marvelous! Service great, stateroom with balcony was fantastic with ample verandah room with two chairs and two stools plus a small side table, ship was well maintained, overall ... Read More
I'll sum the whole experience up this way: it was marvelous! Service great, stateroom with balcony was fantastic with ample verandah room with two chairs and two stools plus a small side table, ship was well maintained, overall good entertainment and food delicious. We're both vegetarians and had no difficulty finding choices that met our dietary requirements including on the menus and at Canaletto. Minor issues: Embarkation - HAL's portion of the process was excellent but the security/US customs process at Canada Place in Vancouver took way too long....more than 2 hours and it felt like musical chairs. Disembarkation was a breeze as we carried our own bags off to catch the Skytrain to the airport. Some of the Mainstage entertainment could use improvement (illusionists and comedians are not our thing) but we loved BB Kings and the Lincoln Stage Centre musicians so overall the cruise was a great experience! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
This was our third cruise to Mexico and first cruise on a Holland America ship. It met our requirements for a new or recently refurbished ship, left from a nearby port, offered a last minute deal and was destined for ports with beautiful ... Read More
This was our third cruise to Mexico and first cruise on a Holland America ship. It met our requirements for a new or recently refurbished ship, left from a nearby port, offered a last minute deal and was destined for ports with beautiful weather. We went out on a limb to experience an interior cabin just to make the shipboard and port fun budget go farther. Here's what we learned ... Port = San Diego knows how to process two ships at once. Despite the spring break crowd the Disney ship leaving at the same time, luggage loading, processing and boarding ran efficiently. Holland America gives you a time window for loading based on your stateroom deck. Adhere to this and it should go well for you! Parking was $11 a day at the Wyndham hotel directly across from the port. Nieuw Amsterdam Ship = We liked the classic interior, beautiful sculptures and artwork that lined the ship walls. The main staircase isn't dramatic like the Princess ships and their main dining room isn't as cheery and bright like Celebrity Dining Rooms but it does have a small ship feel with large sea viewing windows and offers cozy alcoves like the Billboard Onboard with dueling pianos and the Crows Nest for reading/watching the sea and drinking a good cappuccino. When you stay in an inside room, you are quite interested in alternative places to hang on sea days. We frequented the well equipped gym and Tamarind Bar for views, without music, and comfy chairs for lounging and reading. I would not pick this ship for the pool experience because the pool is small and the deck is somewhat crowded with people and privately rented cabanas around the perimeter. If you choose to sunbathe, visit the Seaview deck on the back of the ship with a small pool. Bring your towel clips because it can be a bit windy. The pool dome is closed at night or cool weather, so the pool area stays busy during the day and night. You don’t see a lot of kids onboard but you do see them during afternoon pool hours. With all the mega ships now offering adventurous amenities for families or partiers, HAL is wise to cater to the interests of grandparents and people over 60 first. I wouldn’t hesitate to book a family reunion on the Nieuw Amsterdam but I think it’s real attraction is that it is not a "TEEN SHIP". It’s sophisticated and classy vibe is perfect for a couple getaway. My favorite feature on the ship was the elevator. Each elevator rug was changed daily to announce the day of the week…brilliant! Entertainment = Holland America has thoughtfully considered it's clientele. They have the BB King Blues Club for mo-town and dance music, the Lincoln Center for classical recitals and the Dueling Pianos in the Billboard for 60, 70's, 80's and singer songwriter favorites. The talent was incredible this cruise! The main stage dance shows by Step One Dance Company were skillfully produced with technical lights and lasers and the comedian- Chris Pendleton and illusionist Leon Etienne - couldn't have been better. Activities = Highlight of this cruise was the America Test Kitchen sessions and the games hosted by cruise directors. EXC cruise talks for this Mexico cruise need improvement. Folklore dances on the sundeck need a stage for more passengers to see. I didn't use the casino but KUDOS to Holland America for offering a SMOKE FREE casino so all passengers can enjoy the Onboard Billboard Entertainment. I was surprised to see that the library limited to games and primarily travel and educational books. Bring your own novel. Food and Service = This aspect is pretty important to cruisers and I was worried how it would par with our previous Celebrity and Princess cruises. I can happily tell you that steak tastes like steak (not liver) and lobster portions are wonderful! We didn't have to go to a specialty restaurant to find food we enjoyed. I was most impressed by the Lido Food court and enjoyed being served. This was far different from milling around Horizon court or encountering a traffic jam at the Celebrity food stations. Passengers may have to wait a bit longer for the crew to dip up your food choices, but it is more sanitary. The Nieuw Amsterdam offers an outstanding salad bar. While ice-cream offerings and desserts don't compare to the Norman Love creations on Princess they were tasty, plentiful and enjoyable. Servers were quick to clean tables, serve drinks and always friendly. Booking last minute, Anytime Dining was our only option. We learned to call up to two days in advance to request a dining time. This cut down on waiting in line like other guests. It was also enjoyable to sit and meet other guests. Bar drinks on cruise ships are expensive. Check the rules and consider bringing your allotment of beverages (including water) on board at each port or enjoying in port. Ports = Mexican ports are not particularly spectacular but with a little personal research and port reviews you can book some great tours. My husband and I have never felt afraid or had any concerns about getting off the ship. The people in Mexico are friendly and tourism is quite important. Keep in mind that local taxi drivers don't always speak English but they know the way to popular tourist areas. I can't comment on HALS ship tours as we typically book our own. I highly recommend the following ... Mazatlan - Enjoy the city with a personal guide on a bike along the water. We saw cliff divers, fishermen feeding huge birds, harbor sculptures, city square and the greatest local food market. We gained knowledge of the city's history and learned to appreciate what the locals love from Daniel at Blue Foot City Bike Tours https://bluefoot.mx Cabo San Lucas - This port requires a tender but there is enough to do in the vicinity if you choose just to shop or refill your prescriptions for half the price. Our preference is to get off the ship and negotiate with locals for a tour. We have taken a whale ride excursion in the past. This time we enjoyed and recommend taking a water taxi (both ways) to Medano Beach. Once there you can enjoy the day at a local resort with a perfect view of the ship and Lovers Beach. Puerto Vallarta - The port is nothing to see except a huge Wal Mart across the street. Instead, opt for a taxi to and from the Malecón. Walk the large boardwalk along the ocean to shop, view beautiful art sculptures, street performers and colorful flowers. There are plenty of great restaurants along the way. Visit the Lady of Guadalupe Church downtown, avoid most city streets and sightsee in touristy areas. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
Nine of us traveled together to cruise the Panama Canal. Our group consisted of three married couples and three single ladies ranging in age from 50 on up. Despite different interests among the members of the group, I don't remember ... Read More
Nine of us traveled together to cruise the Panama Canal. Our group consisted of three married couples and three single ladies ranging in age from 50 on up. Despite different interests among the members of the group, I don't remember anyone complaining of being bored. Three of us enjoyed the trivia contests, others spent lots of time (and money!) at bingo, some enjoyed the movies and entertainment in the theatre, one single lady in our group enjoyed visiting all of the lounges, and one of the married gentlemen in our party (my own DH) enjoyed hanging out on his balcony, reading and enjoying the scenery. Our signature suite, SY 8094, was situated where the ship juts out and featured a long balcony, which we both enjoyed immensely. My only complaint would be the casino, which was dinky and did not feature a good variety. Of course, I would have done better if I would have stayed away, as I lost a bunch of money. It wasn't like there wasn't enough to do.... The shore stops were long enough to provide a good overview of places that we'd like to revisit. Entertainment was good, food was good, and I would recommend anyone for this ship and PC itinerary! Consistent quality keeps us coming back to HAL. 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
Sail Date: March 2019
I chose this cruise because it the most interesting, historical cruise to celebrate my retirement! Loved every minute of it. We are big fans of Holland America, especially the Nieuw Amsterdam ship. Embarkation and disembarkation always ... Read More
I chose this cruise because it the most interesting, historical cruise to celebrate my retirement! Loved every minute of it. We are big fans of Holland America, especially the Nieuw Amsterdam ship. Embarkation and disembarkation always go smoothly. People! There are thousands of people in the cruise terminal. You have be patient and get a grip! You are not the only person on this ship! The ship is always clean and the staff is outstanding. Our cabin is comfortable and exactly what we need. We have a suite on Deck 7 and have access to the Neptune lounge. The concierge (Christine and Kim) are helpful and friendly. Lucia and Martin always cleaned out suite quickly and thoroughly. Always greeted us with a cheerful Good Morning. My husband I went to the entertainment each evening and enjoyed it very much. Yes, there are hit and misses (comedians and magicians), but you have to remember that the Holland America ships do not have a large guest list like other cruise lines. Therefore, the entertainment they can hire will not always be the highest, but it’s the best they can obtain. I loved the orchestral accompaniment to the Earth film. Outstanding! Restaurants are always the best. We love the Pinnacle Grill for formal nights, Canaletto has really stepped up the menu, the Tamarind so lovely - it’s one of our favorites! Lido buffet is always good for lunch or a snack. We’re fine with them serving, rather than self serve if it helps in keeping the ship healthy and no waste. Pinnacle Grill staff - wow! Amin, David (the magic!), Tamas, Anne, Rosalina (!) and Aris. Thank you! The bar service is always outstanding and we’ve made many friends. Louis in the Pinnacle Grill bar - the best mixologist and now friend! The Panama Canal is so outstanding and amazing! Over 100 years and still working! The people of Panama, thank you! I would do this cruise again and again. And best for last our cabana crew! You guys are so awesome! Christian and Joseph - friends forever! We didn’t do any excursions as we have started using the ship as a hotel. However, we did get off on the piers to connect with the people and walk around town. I think that you have to go into your vacation with an optimistic attitude yet not think everything has to be perfect. There will be situations that aren’t ideal, but remember, you are on vacation! You are in the Panama Canal, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Columbia!! If you can’t be excited about that amazing opportunity, then maybe you need to sit on a Florida beach and wish you were here. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
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
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
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We have enjoyed Holland America cruises and we liked the itinerary Nieuw Standendam offered. This ship exceeded our expectations. The rooms are nicely appointed, small, very functional and well laid out. Was great to be on a new ship, ... Read More
We have enjoyed Holland America cruises and we liked the itinerary Nieuw Standendam offered. This ship exceeded our expectations. The rooms are nicely appointed, small, very functional and well laid out. Was great to be on a new ship, everything is in tip top shape. Our room stewart was excellent and very attentive, thank you Ajaz. We mostly had breakfast & dinners in the dining room, the food was excellent. Some dinners were a 10+. Loved the menu contributions from each Chef. Provided a wide variety of choice. Enjoyed the free style dining option. We never felt rushed to get to dinner. We decided to take the drink package, which made the cruise even better. From morning coffee's at the Dutch cafe, bottled water throughout the day, cocktails during the day & wine with dinner. Option of having an after dinner liquor or drink while enjoying the great entertainment the ship featured. We loved the new layout. We went to all the musical venues and preferred this to the old stage presentation entertainment. The ship felt like it was geared to our generation and not the senior senior generation. I loved the art throughout the ship. Felt the ship was well thought out. Found this cruise to be the most relaxing cruise we have taken. Disappointment: Until the last day in the morning, we had an incident, maitenance was varnishing the railing where our lounge chairs were. I was sitting their for 5 minutes, when the maitenance worker pulled out an electrical mixer for the varnish, I decided to move out of the way and let maitenance complete this area of their work. I was gone for 25 minutes. The housekeeping staff removed our towels and belongings. When I came back with my breakfast in hand new people were in our chairs. I was not happy and were told we had been gone from the chairs for more then 30 minutes. I asked the housekeeping staff to call his supervisor & was told he would be there shortly. 45 minutes later, Sachin Houskeeping Supervisor arrived and after a 9 minutes conversation he did not have a solution, other then telling me he would have security review the tapes. We left feeling we were going to ignored. I asked our room stewart for the Manager of Housekeeping's name Mainz Lopez. By sheer chance I asked an officer where the Mangers office was and it was him. We sat down and explained the events. We asked for a solution which would make us happy, upgrade us to the retreat. Mainz was very professional, honest & said he would see what he could do. I am happy to say we were upgraded to the retreat for the day and Mainz included two monogrammed housecoats. We lost two hours of our last day...Holland America more then made up for this. We have nothing but excellent reviews to say. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
My family and I went on this cruise last minute. As in, we weren't even on the manifest. We cancelled our NCL Epic, and hopped on the Nieuw Amsterdam. What a delight! Check in was pretty easy, considering we were not checked in at ... Read More
My family and I went on this cruise last minute. As in, we weren't even on the manifest. We cancelled our NCL Epic, and hopped on the Nieuw Amsterdam. What a delight! Check in was pretty easy, considering we were not checked in at all. Our luggage was delivered in a timely fashion. Our room was an inside cabin, last minute. However, our room steward was always on top of everything. He was professional and friendly. All the staff a board the ship were the same, always there for directions or help. The food was amazing! We ate filet, lobster tail, osso buco, lamb chops and leg, a variety of Asian dishes. This was in the MDR or the buffet. We ate at Canelletto's, the Italian place, it was perfect. A family style dining experience. There were always pool chairs available. There are 2 pools and they are both heated! That is a plus if you have ever been on Carnival or NCL. The biggest bonus for me is the no smoking in the casino! It was great! The only smoking spot on the ship, that I saw, was top deck near the pool. We were also pleased with the tendering process. Easy to follow directions. Also, like I mentioned before, there are staff on each deck to help. I will say, I travelled with 2 teens. They really enjoyed the teen club. There are no water slides, video games or giant movies screens on this ship. However, there were a group of 10 teens that hung out and had fun. They played chess, ate lunch together, had scavenger hunts, and played bingo! We will definetly book again with HAL. We had a fabulous vacation! The staff, food and the effortless fun, make the decision to travel with them easy! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
We are a couple from New York and we needed to leave the February cold. We are in our mid-50s and sailed to the Western Caribbean. Our cruising style is all about relaxation. We enjoy the beach, the pool, the spa and live music. The ... Read More
We are a couple from New York and we needed to leave the February cold. We are in our mid-50s and sailed to the Western Caribbean. Our cruising style is all about relaxation. We enjoy the beach, the pool, the spa and live music. The night before: We stayed at the Renaissance Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. This is a very pleasant and convenient hotel. It is close to several good restaurants and there is a Walgreen’s across the street, should you have forgotten anything. This was our second stay at the Renaissance, and I have already booked our third. Arrival: We arrived at Port Everglades just before 2 pm, our entry to the port slightly delayed by the Uber driver ahead of us who did not have any identification or proof of citizenship with him and drew the attention of the police. Some trips are better made by local cab. The terminal was crowded because the cruise was sold out, which is pretty typical for President’s week. Check in was extremely efficient and our stateroom was already available. Stateroom: Our verandah stateroom, 7136, was a fantail room with a larger than average balcony and a stupendous view. The stateroom itself is roomier than verandah rooms on Princess, NCL or Celebrity. The furnishings are subdued and neutral and include a desk, table and sofa as well as a bed and two nightstands. Make up mirror and blow dryer were in a drawer in the desk. There is plenty of closet space, though not so much for drawers. Everything was in good condition. The bathroom has a bath/shower combination unlike HAL suites which have a shower and separate jetted tub. Our steward was very conscientious and the cabin was always spotless. Getting adjusted: We had some confusion regarding activities because there was no “Where and When” newsletter in our room. I am not sure if there wasn’t such a newsletter on Sunday or if someone neglected to put in our stateroom or mailbox, but the absence of it caused some difficulties for us as we didn’t know what was going on or how to sign up for the Internet. Internet sign-up is explained on the television, (though the distinctions between packages could be made clearer), but the daily event schedule is not. Once we created Internet accounts, we were able to view the day’s activity schedule online. That evening, our steward left the next day’s “When and Where” in our cabin, which made planning easier. Lido Buffet: On arrival, we ate a late lunch at the Lido buffet. The chicken fajita I had was very tasty. However, none of the hot dishes were labeled, which would be helpful since it is difficult to tell one stew-looking dish from another. For the rest of the week, our cabana steward brought us lunch from the buffet. My favorite dishes were the Indian ones. Breakfasts were very good. I particularly enjoyed the new breakfast sandwich with spinach, avocado, tomato and egg white. Also, the chicken and waffles were delicious and a fun addition to the breakfast options. Beverages: our cruise included a promotional beverage package that allowed each of us 15 drinks, priced at no more than $9.50 per drink, per day. This was an amazing value. We are not big drinkers, but we really appreciate the lattes, San Pellegrino and other drinks that were included along with my one glass of wine with dinner. I hope HAL keeps this promotion because it makes beverages one less thing to think about. I did try a new mixed drink as well. The pomegranate ginger drop is scrumptious. Activities: We had fun playing trivia in the Billboard lounge. It’s a friendly game and you are allowed to mark your own answers. Main Dining Room Dinners were pleasant. We both enjoyed the red snapper and the surf and turf. There was no mixed greens salad on the menu, but our waiter was able to procure one for me. For dessert, we especially liked the tangy key lime pie.I have a salmon allergy which I made our waiter aware of. One night, I ordered the tuna and he returned to let me know that because a pan had broken, the tuna was being seared in the pan used for salmon and would I like to change my order? Yes, I would and that was some excellent service! The chicken in panko we substituted was very good. Pinnacle Grill: This was a little disappointing. Some of our meat was not cooked as we ordered it and when I ate my dessert souffle, I burned my mouth pretty badly because the server had not broken the top of the souffle to let the steam escape and pour the sauce in. (I think she was not very experienced.) When I mentioned this to her and asked for ice water for my mouth, which was blistering a little bit, she didn’t apologize and made a sarcastic joke. The restaurant manager apologized for her and offered a free lunch, but we didn’t want to leave the pool the next day to redeem it. The Pinnacle Grill is usually excellent, so I am considering this a minor blip. Entertainment: There are new entertainment options such as Lincoln Center and Billboard. Initially, we were a little let down because the representative who booked our cruise had told us Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox would be performing on our ship and they were not. This would have been a disappointment if the best part of the cruise had not been the fantastic band at BB KIng’s. The BB King All Stars are incredibly energetic and skillful musicians who are clearly having a great time. We stayed for two to three sets every night and loved every minute. This group really elevates evening entertainment on HAL to a whole new level. The dance floor at the club was busy all week. Unfortunately, we learned that our cruise was this particular group’s last cruise. I felt privileged to see them and hope they return to the Nieuw Amsterdam. Half Moon Cay: On Monday, we tendered to HMC, which our ship was sharing with the Zuiderdam. The tender transfer was quick and efficient. We had reserved a cabana as we have in the past and, after signing a waiver, took the transportation to the cabana. It has a table, chairs, refrigerator, air conditioner, fan, lounges and outdoor shower, and was prepped with everything we had requested—soft drinks, snacks, fruit plate, and snorkel gear. There were four floats as well. We spent the whole day alternating between swimming in the turquoise water and reading in the cabana. Although we’ve rented cabanas before, I’ve never encountered so many people so puzzled by them. I don’t mind folks asking how you reserve a cabana or how much it costs, but two people decided to “reserve” our cabana’s beach lounges by putting their clothing on them and one lady wanted to use our outdoor shower. Half Moon Cay is a gorgeous island and we had a beautiful day. Other ports: We walked around Cozumel, but didn’t bother getting off the ship in Grand Cayman or Ocho Rios as we’ve been both places lots of other times. Also, my husband had a shoulder injury and couldn’t do any of the more active excursions that would generally appeal to us. Cozumel has some good shopping, but there’s a lot of touristy tchotkes too. Onboard cabana: We rented the Monte Carlo, our Lido poolside cabana, for the length of the cruise. This was just wonderful. Zen, our cabana steward, was on point, bringing champagne and chocolate strawberries and pretty much anything else that we needed. The cabana has a lounge bed, table and chairs and looks out at the ocean. It was lovely to read and look out at the ocean all day. There is a cabana curtain you can close for privacy. Generally, we left it open and some random man wandered in and said, “Do you have to pay extra for this?” We affirmed that we did. He said, “Boy, they nickel and dime you!” and decamped. Thanks, pal. Spa: I had an excellent massage at the spa and a very good manicure. I just dislike the way the spa therapists talk to you after the treatment as though they are doctors prescribing medication instead of people working on commission peddling toiletries. No one needs $100 bath salts. I just put a stop to that spiel and tip the equivalent of the commission. Fitness Center: We used the fitness center to work out. It was very clean and all the machines were in good repair. I was able to use the rowing machine whenever I wanted it. We didn’t sign up for any classes, but there was a good selection to choose from. Overall impression: We loved this ship and were very impressed with the entertainment at BB Kings. While HAL has a reputation for catering to much older guests, we felt that this cruise would appeal to the 35-55 crowd as well. They have really improved the entertainment options. We have already booked another trip on the Nieuw Amsterdam in 2020. 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
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
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
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We are frequent cruisers but this was our first time on Holland America. We were entirely impressed. This line has it all over the others when it come to service and good food. Buffet is handled in a way which prevents all that food ... Read More
We are frequent cruisers but this was our first time on Holland America. We were entirely impressed. This line has it all over the others when it come to service and good food. Buffet is handled in a way which prevents all that food waste that undoubtedly contributes higher prices and less appealing food. Everything on board was professional and oriented toward customer satisfaction. Met some great people and our fellow cruisers were mostly polite and enjoyable people. The pool was very nice and a great spot on sea days. The entertainment was about on par with most lines (except maybe MSC). Activities on board during the day were somewhat limited. We like smaller ships of this size so it was perfect for us. Others might prefer the new larger ships. The crew is just amazing, always friendly and helpful. We now rank our favorite lines as MSC Holland, Celebrity, Carnival Lines we will never sail on again. Norweigan, Princess, Royal Carb Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our second Cruise on HAL and our fourth cruise in the last ten months, so we have other recent cruises to compare too. Getting on board went quickly and we were not hounded by staff selling Dining, drink packages etc. as we have ... Read More
This was our second Cruise on HAL and our fourth cruise in the last ten months, so we have other recent cruises to compare too. Getting on board went quickly and we were not hounded by staff selling Dining, drink packages etc. as we have seen previously on other cruises. Our room was ready by 1pm and our luggage arrived shortly thereafter. Our stateroom 4154 was very nice and had plenty of room. Our luggage fit under the bed at the top and there were two large drawers at the bottom of the bed, (very nice) Three large closets to handle all our clothing. Did not need a electrical adapter for USB cord. Each side of the bed had a USB port and several electrical plugs on the desk. Bathroom and balcony were a very nice size. The TV was pretty large and included FREE movies and tv shows. We enjoyed all eateries the Lido, Pizza window, Hamburger window. Afternoon Tea and was overly surprised with the food quality in the MDR dining room. Surf and Turf night was two thumbs up, serving filet mignon. Shows were very good. Areas lacking were activities at sea. (to much Trivia) need areas allowing dancing, Karaoke or shows like Quest. Micro soft classes were nice. Our ship had an older crowd, and many had a lot of cruises on Holland America. Disembarkation was a breeze. Off the ship and waiting for our flight in less then a hour. Overall, we were Quite Impressed! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was a family Christmas Vacation Cruise sponsored by my Mother, Step Father, Sister and my 13 year old Daughter. Words can't describe the entire experience from the moment our Taxi dropped us off at the Port Everglades to our ... Read More
This was a family Christmas Vacation Cruise sponsored by my Mother, Step Father, Sister and my 13 year old Daughter. Words can't describe the entire experience from the moment our Taxi dropped us off at the Port Everglades to our ten minute total check in time!! The ship looked perfect size from outside. AS soon as we got off elevator our Steward walked us to our room, his name was Amin and his partner was Ray Ban! The cabin had a balcony and plenty of storage!!! The space on balcony was perfect! Bedding was so very comfortable! The Dining was varied and perfect everwhere...our Dining Room Steward was YanMar and he walked us to our table each night and pushed the wheel chair for us!! Activity room for teens was active and safe! Service was friendly and prompt at ALL times!! We took tender to Grand Caymen..loved the public beach. Did Dolphin Swim at Ochos Rios.....Beach Park at Cozumel and Beach at Moon Cay. My favorite was water temperature and clarity of water at Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach. My least favorite was the taxi ride rip offs to the beaches in Cozmel which were very rocky! Cozmel seemed like a hustle...all other desitinations were more relaxed Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was our second cruise on HAL. The first was a Norway cruise out of Amsterdam in June-July 2018. This time we decided to see (part of) the Caribbean by ship. Embarkation was a breeze even though we were a little late. We made it to ... Read More
This was our second cruise on HAL. The first was a Norway cruise out of Amsterdam in June-July 2018. This time we decided to see (part of) the Caribbean by ship. Embarkation was a breeze even though we were a little late. We made it to the Lido by 2pm and were pleasantly surprise to see lunch was still in full swing. Nieuw Amsterdam (NA) might be my favorite HAL ship so far. It is different than Koningsdam in many ways - most of which are "better" in my opinion. Here are some of the more noticeable differences that are "good." 1. Larger suites/bathrooms: The cabins are better on this ship. No side-saddle toilet. We were in Cabin 6089 and it had two sinks and two showers (one was a tub/shower combo) which made getting ready a breeze. The closet space was also better on NA. 2. Cooler, quieter main dining room: Dinners on Koningsdam took HOURS and were miserably loud and hot. Dinners in the MDR on NA were a breeze. 3. Better food quality: The food quality on NA seemed better but this might just be a supplier issue. The lobster tails on the gala night were amazing and both of our dinners at the Pinnacle Grill were superb. Try the baked Alaska!!! I feel I'm pretty much hooked on HAL and look forward to our third cruise with them. I feel they are a perfect fit for me and my husband. My only real gripe on this trip was an EXC excursion that was cut short and Ocho Rios as a destination. HAL should consider dropping Ocho Rios as the gauntlet of aggressive cabbies one must endure to leave the ship really sours the entire experience. Read Less
Nieuw Amsterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.5
Public Rooms 4.5 4.4
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.5 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.1

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