Sail Date: October 2014
We have been traveling since 2000 when we visited Australia and the South Pacific. We have been on over ten cruises from many cruise lines since then, but this is the first time we have felt the strong desire to post a comment on the web. ... Read More
We have been traveling since 2000 when we visited Australia and the South Pacific. We have been on over ten cruises from many cruise lines since then, but this is the first time we have felt the strong desire to post a comment on the web. Our cruise this year was the HAL 25 Day Mediterranean Passage to America – 2014 from Venice to Ft. Lauderdale. We like transatlantic cruises because my wife has mobility issues and prolonged air travel in a cramped airline seat is very difficult for her. I think our expectations were set by our recent similar cruise, the Norwegian Cruise Line Transfer to Copenhagen followed by a tour of the Baltic Capitols. It was a beautiful and enjoyable trip in all respects. Before I get to my main comment, I will give you my first I impression of our ship, the ms Nieuw Amsterdam. It carries more passengers than the ms Noordam and the ms Maasdam which we have enjoyed on previous cruises. I will get to this later, but the sheer number of passengers was a negative. As soon we as boarded in Venice and got settled in our cabin, I did my quick survey, which for me, includes going to the highest point on the ship. I was a bit frustrated this time because the space on the forward top deck had been sold off for cabanas and access to the area was roped off. To me this smacks of the class system on the Cunard Line – without the additional amenities. Except for the full size basketball court (and the roped off cabanas) there was no useful top deck space. Now to the main reason for this comment: The day we arrived we started hearing the noise. On day 1, it was the loud banging on our pipes. We called the desk, but they could not explain the origin of the noise which continued intermittently all night. The next day was quieter until about 4:00 PM. We were trying to rest when the noise started again in full volume. It sounded like we were living over an auto body shop. A mixture of mechanical sounds: Sharp banging on pipes, grinding sounds, hammering and more banging. Of course I immediately went to the desk to report the problem, but had to wait in line for 15 minutes while the staff dealt with fallout from an Internet outage. Meantime my tired wife could not rest. Finally, a staff member agreed to send someone to investigate the problem. While we were waiting for help, I recorded the sounds on my cell phone, made a second trip to the desk, and demonstrated it to the same staff member. She came with me to our cabin to hear for herself. This pretty much ended the investigation, but we did receive an apology and an invitation to a dinner at the Tamarind restaurant. The sad ending of the story is that the noisy activity must have served some vital role in the operation of the ship because it never totally stopped. It is interesting that no one followed up to see if the issue was resolved. I believe they already knew the answer. We like cruising because your ship is your mobile luxury hotel. I have stayed in some pretty cheap hotels and motels in my lifetime, but I have never stayed in one that sounded like there was a machine shop next door. Any fine hotel would have dealt with our noise problem immediately and effectively. Unfortunately this never happened on the Nieuw Amsterdam. Now we get to lessons learned. We chose not to get a veranda cabin on this trip because we very seldom use the veranda and on a transatlantic crossing the view is not that spectacular. For this trip we just wanted a nice clean, comfortable, quiet cabin. If that is your requirement, location is important. At least it is on the Niew Amsterdam. Our cabin was 1092 on aft port side of the Main Deck. You might be lucky, but I would never accept any cabin on the Main Deck. The decks above and below are used for ship’s operations and could be noisy as we found out. Another thing I would do in the future is insist on getting an early cabin assignment. Even though we booked way in advance, our cabin assignment was kept open until the last minute. Our travel agent tried to get a fixed cabin assignment, but we should have tried harder. I need to mention some very positive experiences. My wife has mobility issues and needs a wheelchair. Before the trip, we worked very well with HAL excursion specialists to locate and evaluate accessible tours. On board, the Excursion Team gave us wonderful personal support. We did not have to worry about the wheelchair or not having a seat near the front of the bus and we were sure that the excursions were suitable for us. They all deserve six stars out of five. Also, the entire crew was willing to stop what they were doing to help us get around the ship. If you have mobility issues, don’t let that stop you. Go! The Indonesian cabin and table stewards are treasures. They maintain a tradition of great service which we remember from previous cruises. We have always enjoyed the crew show. We wonder why it scheduled late at night (11:00 PM) this time. Also, what happened to the Baked Alaska parade? These are little things that added to our enjoyment of past cruises. While I am at it, here are a few comments about entertainment. The content was good, but a bit skimpy. One night was it was a movie on the big screen. The productions were well done and the players all very talented. A problem was that the smaller entertainment venues such as Adagio (classical piano and violin) were overcrowded. All the extra passengers on this ship need to go somewhere and the entertainment space was not increased accordingly. On sea days, it t was difficult to get a table for lunch, particularly near the pool. The available poolside space was squeezed by the increased number of passengers and the fact that a quarter of the pool deck space had been sold off for more cabanas. We have reserved a HAL cruise for next year, but see increasing reasons for not going. We can make smarter choices in cabin assignment and have no concerns about accessible excursions, but we see a trend of increasing number of passengers without a corresponding increase in services and amenities. At what point will it be better to make other choices? That remains a question. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
I booked this cruise as a follow-up to a 35 day South Pacific Cruise on the Westerdam which was very enjoyable. Unfortunately, the Nieuw Amsterdam had a lot more negatives than positives. I was traveling with a friend and we left ... Read More
I booked this cruise as a follow-up to a 35 day South Pacific Cruise on the Westerdam which was very enjoyable. Unfortunately, the Nieuw Amsterdam had a lot more negatives than positives. I was traveling with a friend and we left Ft.Meyers,FL on October 2nd on AirBerlin. The flight was uneventful with a connection in Dusseldorff and arrival in Venice was on-time. I had booked a private transfer with Sun Transfers and was met promptly and taken to Plaza Station Hotel in Mestre. The hotel was adequate and very convenient being directly across the street from the train station. I had visited Venice before but thoroughly enjoyed the extra two days prior to boarding on October 5th. I purchased the 24hr. pass on the Vaporettas and spent an enjoyable time just riding around the city. Embarkation was efficient and we were on-board in less than thirty minutes after arriving. The cabins were also ready which enabled you to stow your hand luggage prior to having lunch. The cabin was roomy and the balcony adequate, nothing special but acceptable. Harry and Ricky (stewards) were at the door as we entered, introduced themselves, and made sure we didn't need anything. After this pleasant start I was looking forward to a great cruise, little did I know that it was downhill from this point. Lunch in the Lido could best be described as chaotic. The layout is very inefficient with tables along the walkway where you line up for service. This added to the fact that people wanted to see what was available and stopped in this narrow pathway. This made moving about difficult along with getting bumped into while trying to make your way to a table. HAL had their mandatory health rules in effect so there was no self service, including beverages. This created another backup and by the time you had a beverage and found a table the barely warm food you had been served was now cold. This was a big complaint I heard from many people over the entire cruise, the food just wasn't kept hot and I finally started asking for my food to be heated again. With a couple of exceptions when I asked for the food to be heated I was told it was already warm...sorry this wasn't the answer you give a customer. The dining room was very slow and again the food was at best lukewarm and when you asked for it to be reheated you could expect another long delay, very poor and one of the reasons I say this is not a five star ship. It seemed that we were constantly under some type of health alert with very few days when we could actually have any self-service in the Lido. This severely limited your enjoyment of the buffets. During the transatlantic portion I had purchased the Thermal Suite for the thirteen days. On more than one occasion individuals had reported to the Spa desk that the Thalossotherapy Pool was dirty but nothing was done. Then without any notice we were told four days before arriving in Ft. Lauderdale that the Thermal Pool was closing at 5PM and wouldn't be available for the rest of the cruise. I asked at the spa desk if there would be a price adjustment given and was answered very curtly that there would be no refunds. Since I had paid for the entire time I went to customer service and was told that they would talk to the Spa Manager. Later that evening I was called and told that I would be given a small credit. I responded that I wasn't satisfied and that since I had paid for full access for the entire time a full prorated refund should be given. It took a lot of effort but I persisted and was given what should have been offered at the start. Again, proof that the Nieuw Amsterdam is not a five star ship. It seemed on several occasions that there was not good management in place as a lot of these situations could have been avoided. A good manager would have immediately sent out a notice of the closing and stated upfront that a refund was being given. As it was the guests had to take the lead and spend an hour more of their time trying to get answers. One other thing that really bothered me was after buying the Admiral's Wine Package based on the list of wines that were available in that offering. After puschasing I learned that two of the wines I especially wanted on the list were not available. Instead I was told they were out of stock but more would be loaded at the next port. It never happened and instead we were given substitutes they were inferior wines and certainly weren't what had been advertised or for which I had paid. I could continue on for several more paragraphs about instances where Holland America failed to live up to their reputation as a luxury line, for me I just did not experience the service or quality I have had on other true five star ships. It would be unfair not to say there were some examples of people really trying to do a good job. I'll list some of them: 1. The Pinnacle Grill is excellent and worth every cent of the surcharge. The food is outstanding and the service was impeccable. 2. The room stewards did an excellent job of keeping things in order and fulfilled any requests that were made in a friendly manner. 3. A couple of the ladies on the serving line in the Lido did a good job and were glad to reheat your entree. Thanks to them as this attitude was not reflected by the others. This was a difficult review to write as I don't like to be negative but there were just so many things that could have been improved with very little effort but instead were allowed to become issues that really took away from the whole experience. I hope Holland America and the Nieuw Amsterdam can get their act together and get the health situation on board corrected along with getting some good managers. If not, things will just continue to deteriorate.   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
Ok... this is going to be a tale of what you might expect to consider , encounter or anticipate if doing a 20 day cruise starting in Venice Italy and comprised of first a 12 to 14 day eastern med cruise and a 14 to 20 day transatlantic ... Read More
Ok... this is going to be a tale of what you might expect to consider , encounter or anticipate if doing a 20 day cruise starting in Venice Italy and comprised of first a 12 to 14 day eastern med cruise and a 14 to 20 day transatlantic cruise. First is the getting there: the best way into Venice is by Train arriving at the Mestri station not the Venice central or terminal station. It will cost 35 euros to take you right to the ships check in... no water taxi, drag the bag hassle. Only Mestri has real auto cabs. Make note that no Italian train station has lifts for baggage or porters. This is unlike the rest of Europe. Where to arrive: either Frankfurt or Zurich because of the fact they have baggage and the train station in the airport next to each other. Both cities offer better air connections, schedules and fares than do Italian. Finally, both Germany and Switzerland are far cheaper then anything in Venice... like 1/2 the price. If you fly in and take a hotel then next day a wonderful trans-alpine trip before the ship which I thinks adds to the variety and spice of the adventure. What class of cabin:....... Because of 2 factors the trans Atlantic potential for big seas and seas up to 30 ft and the heavy port schedule, I choose main deck and an inside because if the extra space , ease of access to everywhere on the ship and the lower you go the lower the price and the less the motion. Clean clothed: Holland has an excellent laundry service for$7 a day, unlimited if you buy it in advance. On board it will cost 30% more. its the best value on the ship and a 30 day cruise...or any cruise. Excellent!!!! Shore Excursions: When the ship has to tender in for a port..take the ships tours, if not take the your own. Be aware that in these hard times there are no more free shuttle bus service to towns from the pier. Expect to pay $6 to $12 per person each way in many ports. The ship: ...... There is nothing on this ship that is not first class if not outstanding, food, cabins staff, service, decor....well everything for that matter. Go read an other review if you want to get super details of every square inch. As you read those reviews you might consider that complaints are more based on, I think personality rather than reality. I could find nothing after being on the ship for over a month. On the subject of food... after trying every restaurants on the ship at every time I came to the conclusion that the best place to eat is the Lido. Why? ..... Well because the food quality is the same as the Main Dining Room, but doesn't take the 2 to 3 hours to get fed. They have everything including Lobster and best of all you can pick and choose. Mix and match way better to your tastes than the menus offer. Trimarand is excellent too but they have an Asian section of the Lido.. Italian as well.. And you can dress up or down as you and the time feel like. Remember that in half the ports you will be doing flat out touring 9-5 and get back to the ship beat. Several nights we just had soup and a small salad rather than getting all fixed up for the dining venues.. I am sold on the Lido for all future dining... all in all you cant beat it.. and I am a foodie with cordon bleu tastes... The lido is real not faux. Now the passengers:......... There will be 2 distinct sets. The first will be on the eastern med. They will be well traveled, outgoing and well, behaved, polite and mannered fellow spirits. The cruise will seem much like you were with old friends, even if you just met. These passengers will be paying about $2000 per person for 12 to 14 days. Then the Trans Atlantic portion begins, and 3/4 of the eastern cruise get on . Many new passengers will be there because of the fare that are in the 700-800 per person for 17 days . Some will be there for the free food, others the cheap room and others just saw it as something to do . Suddenly there were people shoving in lines everywhere, publicly berating and cursing staff members and insulting them shaking plates,saying more-more loudly to staff, Many carried 2 plates overflowing with food and then going back for more.. like an animal house. Some even saw a lady going down the main deck feeding and ice-cream cones to her pet dog !!! and bringing it to the dining table. Manners ceased to exist it was amazing to see such a stark change in a ship overnight. In the lounges and around the ship acts of vandalism, name carving, prying picture off walls, stealing fake flowers...everything ! This went on and on, even to the extent that several days ,the Captain and Cruise director both had to come on the PA to call attention to these events and threatened to close some of the public spaces.. .An older man prying open desks of staff and during one game of trivia, We all observed ,a lady who boldly walked quietly by us and stole all the prizes, This ,while the game was going on ! Several people too had phones and computers they left unguarded ( including Barante) stolen. In my 20 years of cruising these types of incidents were a first! Maybe its a sign of the times.. but the tone of the cruise sure changed the second half. Even the staff commented on it. Just be aware that as prices come down so may the experience you hoped for. In the latter half security patrols were stepped up and made very visible.. things eased a bit. So, IMO my simple opinion, I would be very aware of , on your cruise, who might be your fellow passenger. They might not be what you expect...I didn't. As price comes down get your guard up. you do get what you pay for. So...Take the Ship...I have spent almost 7 weeks on her, and have nothing to complain of NOTHING.. not about anything what so ever But be aware the passengers can make or break any cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2011
My wife and I joined the Nieuw Amsterdam in Venice for a Collectors Cruise, 11 days cruising the Eastern Mediterranean followed by a 17 day cruise that started in Venice and terminated in Fort Lauderdale. We had a Balcony Stateroom on the ... Read More
My wife and I joined the Nieuw Amsterdam in Venice for a Collectors Cruise, 11 days cruising the Eastern Mediterranean followed by a 17 day cruise that started in Venice and terminated in Fort Lauderdale. We had a Balcony Stateroom on the 8th level which was small but comfortable and were looked after by very friendly cabin stewards. The first thing that struck us when we boarded was the average age of the passengers, with more over 70 than under 60. At 55 I felt like one of the kids but this didn't bother us as we like things pretty quiet. The first 11 days went very smoothly with calm seas, light winds and warm days. The ports of call were of great interest to my wife and I as we don't get to see any old ruins in Australia and the excavated sites at Ephesus, Delos and Olympia were simply amazing. On the day that the first cruise ended we spent the day in Venice. The city is very interesting but spoiled by the attitude of the locals who on the most part were rude and very anti tourist, a bit strange when almost the entire city survives on tourism. When we boarded the ship for the second half of our cruise we were in for quite a shock. We went straight to the Lido Deck to have a coffee and were confronted by what looked like a school canteen after a food fight. The staff were doing their best to straighten the place up but were fighting a losing battle. While the passengers on the first half of the cruise were mostly well spoken and polite the passengers that boarded for the second half of our cruise and the Atlantic crossing seemed very different. For a start the average weight of the passengers went up by at least 50lb with many unable to fit into the very generous dining chairs. One lady came on board with her pet dog which she allowed to eat from the dining table. One "lady" stood behind me while I was eating and broke wind driving my wife and I out of the Lido, very classy. The attitude of some of the passengers to the staff was disgusting yet the staff took it in their stride. We did strike a hurricane in the Atlantic but compared to the conduct of some of the passengers it was easy to handle. Unfortunately for the second half of the cruise, 17 days, we were unable to use our balcony due to having a chain smoking cigar smoker in the cabin next to ours. We did complain to the front office but they said he was allowed to puff on his cigars for 24 hours a day and they would move us to another cabin if one became available. At least 2 cabins did become available when 2 gentlemen were sent ashore for medical reasons but we were not offered their cabins. The Captain also stated the ship was at 100 passengers below capacity so it would appear the offer to move us was not genuine. Overall we did enjoy the cruise but we will not be cruising with Holland America again until they change their smoking policy and we would never consider another relocation cruise no matter how cheap it is. From Fort Lauderdale we drove to Orlando for 4 days at Disney World where our faith in the American people was restored. In 4 days we never struck one obnoxious person, most being more polite than the average Australian. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
Our October-November 2011 cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam was our second transatlantic crossing and probably our last. The reality of a major storm on top of day after day of rough seas is sufficient to convince us that there's a good ... Read More
Our October-November 2011 cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam was our second transatlantic crossing and probably our last. The reality of a major storm on top of day after day of rough seas is sufficient to convince us that there's a good reason for the discounted pricing on these repositioning cruises. We left Venice on a beautiful, sunny day and had great weather in Dubrovnik, Corfu, Sicily, and Rome. We hired our own guides in these ports and had very good tours with plenty of time to shop and dine. I am always amazed at people who pay hugely inflated prices to go on cruise line excursions on big buses with no say in your itinerary when it is so easy to book a private tour before you leave home via the Internet or simply hire a driver at the port. We were 7 adults traveling together and were therefore able to secure a very good tour for about 25% of the HAL tour fares. Embarkation in Venice was very slow. It took 2.5 hours to get from the water taxi to our cabin. I heard that the ship had arrived late because of fog so that would explain the delays in boarding. Our aft-facing cabin was clean, spacious and tended by a wonderful steward with 14 years experience. No lunch in the main dining room was available so we ate with the mob in the Lido. Our first dinner was lovely and we secured a fine table for 7 at 8 pm every night in the anytime dining area. This arrangement worked out well as we knew our waiters and wine steward well before the 17-day cruise ended. Food was sometimes good, often only average with very good salads. Most dishes were overly salty and otherwise unremarkable. Wine was of the grocery store variety priced at roughly 4 times above what you would pay at home. We brought 6 bottles of very good wine we had purchased in Umbria and simply paid the corkage fee of $18 to drink it with dinner. Dinner was slow and leisurely; we finished by 10 pm in time for the late show. The entertainment was uneven in quality; the string quartet was the best. The big show performers were about what you would expect on a cruise line. The piano bar man was simply awful. That said, he was a good conversationalist and really schmoozed it up with the people sitting on bar stools around the piano. These folks seemed to love him. His playing was adequate; his singing was not. As he said himself the first night, "I know I suck!" The piano trio in the main lounge was hardly any better. The pianist was an older gentleman who looked like he felt awful every night. He never smiled, never made eye contact with the audience or the other musicians. They were a young drummer and a young bass player. None of these folks showed any enjoyment at all for their jobs. In 17 days I never saw them speak to each other or do anything more than phone it in. The cruise director was the youngest I have ever sailed with. He was just okay with little personality. Trivia games were bland with very little banter or laughter. Interviews with the captain and crew members in the mornings were well done and very interesting. Two lecturers gave talks each day that were so-so. Boy I wish HAL had given these guys a PowerPoint 101 class before they signed them on. The speciality restaurants were good, especially the Pinnacle Grill. The Tamarind was interesting but almost empty each time we dined there. The Silk Den across from the Tamarind was the best spot on the boat and never crowded. Service there was fine with complimentary sushi accompanying cocktails. It was a lovely place to watch the few sunsets we experienced. On the first Sunday of the cruise we attended a large Meet and Greet of CC posters. It was nice with tea and cookies and held in the Crow's Nest. But that was also the location where the travel guide on board was giving commentary on the Stromboli volcano as we sailed past. The meet and greet guests, about 250 people, of course made noise visiting and the folks there to hear about the volcano could not hear a word. Many complaints and justified ones. Why hold the two activities in the same place on such a big ship? Now to the storm. The captain warned us on Wednesday night, Nov. 2, that we were going to sail into a major storm in 24 hours. The system was so large we could not avoid it. On Thursday we stopped at Cadiz, Spain. We left early and headed into the Atlantic. We went south toward Africa to avoid the biggest waves due west, but we still sailed into a massive storm on Thursday night. As the captain explained, winds were just below hurricane level. Wow, it was something with flying objects, banging doors, rolling waves. The next morning the captain addresses the passengers in the Crow's Nest and said it was the worst storm he had experienced in his entire, long career. While he spoke, a rouge wave hit the Lido deck, toppling the entire food line on port side into the tables, breaking hundreds of dishes and the lamps across the room. Below on 2, the kitchen suffered a fallen wall cabinet, also breaking massive amounts of glassware and dishes. Cabinet doors in the bars flew open and more glasses and broken bottles across the halls. All bars, the spa, and the lido deck were closed for the day. I do think the Lido reopened for dinner. Our waiter told us at dinner that hundreds of crew members were very seasick as many had never done a transatlantic crossing or experienced that sort of storm. We missed our last stop at Madeira although we anchored offshore there to remove injured folks to a hospital. This was a small number including a passenger who had a heart attack. The storm was over by Sunday but the skies were cloudy and rainy, although warm, and the seas rough for the next 6 days. On day 7 of the after-storm trip, the sun shined, much to the joy of a thousand bored, seasick passengers. (The ship holds just over 2,000 passengers but was not full.) After disembarking in Ft. Lauderdale, we evaluated the crossing and decided our captain and crew were heroic and brave and got us through a very bad situation with few serious injuries. One passenger succumbed to a stroke, but who can say if it was storm related? But we also cancelled a crossing on another line next fall from Rome to Rio. My husband is 76 years old and decided he could not do another trip of so many sea days with the possibility of storms and the reality of not enough to keep us occupied all those days. We did walk 2 miles a day and read some great new novels on our kindles, but we do not gamble and thought the spa treatments were overpriced and full of hokum. Electric shock for cellulite removal? Oh please. The funniest cruise moment was riding the elevator with an employee of the photo shop. "I am so bored I could scream," she told me. "What is there to do on my day off on this big, boring ship?" Ditto. We will cruise again, but perhaps the South Pacific islands with no crossing next time. It was indeed the weather that spoiled this cruise. But a higher level of entertainment and better activities with more talented crew in the entertainment department would have made the experience less tedious by the last, long week. Still, huge kudos to Captain John Mercer and his crew who suffered seasickness, damage to a beautiful new ship and other unpleasantness to keep the passengers safe. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2011
Transatlantic for 17 days. What should we expect. Good Food - yes, Lovely Ship - yes, Entertainment 24/7 - no, everybody satisfied - no, complainers - yes, theft or damage - never heard of this before on a cruise. I was on the ... Read More
Transatlantic for 17 days. What should we expect. Good Food - yes, Lovely Ship - yes, Entertainment 24/7 - no, everybody satisfied - no, complainers - yes, theft or damage - never heard of this before on a cruise. I was on the transatlantic crossing on the Nieuw Amsterdam Oct. 27-Nov 13/11. Never sailed Holland America before but had done a transatlantic going the other way, from Miami to Barcelona. My expectations are always small so I can enjoy whatever comes along, but it blows my mind when I see what some people think is rightly theirs because they "have paid for it". No consideration for the other 2000 people on board. It's all about me isn't it, but you can't let this spoil your trip. Yes, we had a long wait to get on the ship but you can't do anything about fog. We were in Venice for 3 days prior to getting on the 17 day transatlantic, had a wonderful time in the rain, with 7 inch deep water in St. Mark's Square, watching people with bags over their shoes to keep them dry and seeing how the Venetians have to cope with this all the time. They actually put platforms all around the flooded parts and you walk from platform to platform until a dryer part appears. All the merchants just go along like it happens all the time, and it probably does. We took a Vaporetto (which we had bought a 3 day pass) to Piazzale Roma and got the people mover for 1 Euro to the ship's terminal, very easy with our luggage. Rick Steves' book is a great source for all info on Venice. Once we got on board our room was ready so we were able to take our carry ons and free us up to go for lunch in the lido. I thought compared to other lunchtime embarkments, the lido was very civilized. We were able to get a table right away. Our luggage came in a timely manner and unpacked for our 17 day journey. Cabin We happened to get a handicapped room on the 1st deck, because we needed to accommodate 3 people and that was the only one left. It was a little larger and a larger shower, we liked it very much. It had a King Bed and a chair that pulled down to a single, very comfortable. Service Wonderful. Best service we have ever had on a ship. Broke my shoe and our room steward took it and had it fixed, free of charge, a lifesaver when it was the only formal pair I had with me. Anything we asked for (and we don't ask for much) was done with a smile. Our dinner waiters were personable and helpful with our needs. Food Excellent food. So good it was hard not to order two different appetizers/desserts. I will say the lido is excellent for breakfast and lunch but was a little disappointed the night we went there for dinner. Sometimes we just don't feel like spending 2 hours eating dinner and I just don't find the lido steps up to the plate. The night we went it looked and tasted like the food had been warming on the trays for about 1 hour. The duck was very dried out and the breading on the shrimp was not crisp. The breakfast/lunch buffets seem to be better than the dinner for some reason. Maybe because they don't have as many people eating then, the food stays on the trays longer. So you have to make your choices, timeframe or better food I guess. Entertainment Everyone has their likes and dislikes. Could some of the shows be better, maybe, but you were entertained for an hour every night, free of charge. Make the most of it. Excursions We have never taken outside excursions before because I was always nervous about getting back on the ship on time, but the excursions were so expensive on the ship I decided we would have to go outside or not go at all, and we had come too far to miss touring the wonderful places we were stopping. Thank you Cruise Critic for all your wonderful information about excursion companies. I had researched on here for two months before we travelled because we wanted the best trip we could afford. Dubrovnik, Crotia Went on our own for the day. Took the shuttle to town and enjoyed very much. Corfu, Greece We used Corfutaxiprivatetours in Corfu and Christos was our guide. We left it up to him where he took us and enjoyed all of it. Took us to the top of the mountain, right down to the bottom. Took us to a little town of 500 and bought some local wine, and they had bread with olive oil and oregano for us, it was delicious and a small taste of wine. Highly recommend this excursion. Taormina/Messina, Sicily, Italy We were supposed to go to Taormina but the captain said there was a bike race going on and the streets were all closed, so we were going to Messina. Our first thoughts were great, our excursion is set for Taormina, I guess we are on our own. I emailed Sicily Tours telling them we wouldn't be going to Taormina and he emailed me back, don't worry I will pick you up in Messina, it happens all the time. Terrific! Ignazio was waiting for us and he drove us back to Taormina (45 minutes away), terrific service. He took us to a tourist area that had about a 2 klm walk down a street covered with shops, restaurants, etc. Lovely. Bought the best gelato in Italy so we were told, delicious, and then he took us back to Messina and showed us a town clock that at 12:00 noon every day a lion, rooster and people move on this tower, all painted in gold with music playing. Spectacular. Lasts about 10 minutes. The square is full of people watching this. Rome The first thing to say about Rome. Buy your Coliseum and Vatican tickets on line before you go. There was a 3 hour wait for the Vatican and a long line for the Coliseum as well. We were told to buy them ahead by RomeInLimo and we just walked in through the doors when we arrived. What a relief that was, when you only have a day to see Rome. RomeInLimo was our excursion choice as suggested by CC and they were wonderful. Our driver was Franco and he more or less took us to what he thought was the best places. Dropped us off at the entrance to everything, even helped us to the right entrance at the Vatican and Coliseum and we just walked in. Made all the difference in the world. Even had water in the car for us to drink. I talked to someone on the ship afterward and they took the ship tour for a 12 hour tour and they said it was horrendous. They lined up for Vatican tickets for 3 hours in the sun with no water and they were all getting desperate. The bus dropped them off and they had to meet it at a certain time and place, and there is so much walking in Rome, the people were exhausted and were not allowed to stay on the bus if they wanted to, they had to get off. So be careful you know what is best for you. All the excursion operators get you back to the ship at least 1 hour before the ship is leaving, so you don't worry about missing it. Cadiz, Spain We have been to Cadiz before so we stayed on the ship that day, threat of rain. Madeira, Portugal We had to miss Madeira because of high seas and winds and the ship's captain couldn't go fast enough to get there on time. We only stopped to let off sick passengers and the entertainment that had to go to another ship and we left again, probably 1-1/2 hours total around 5:00 pm. Cruise Director I thought he was great. Wasn't in your face all the time and informed you when he needed to. Always pleasant with a smile on his face and saw him around the ship more than any other CD. Sea Days I know people like to be entertained, and I realize 17 days is a long time to be on a ship, and longer if you caught the tour before us), and I know 7 days of sea days in a row is a lot of sea days, but what should a ship do about that. I didn't particularly join many of the activities on the ship (my choice), but they had trivia almost every day, lectures every day, bingo every day, free computer courses every day, "chats" every day with people working on the ship, towel animal making, flower arranging, bridge, games, cards scheduled most days, even free lessens in bridge and I could go on. Just because these aren't the things you enjoy, I don't think it is fair to say there is nothing to do on the ship. They had an excellent library selection, the best I have seen, they had a really nice area where you could sit and read with views of the ocean on two sides with comfortable chairs. Don't pay $800 - $1,000. for a 17 day cruise and expect to be caudled every minute of the day. The itinerary was the best I could find on the transatlantics, Venice, Rome, Sicily, Greece, Spain, Portugal, isn't that good enough; beautiful ship and an experienced Captain that kept us safe. He not only had a huge storm off of Spain, he had two tropical storms developing in the south Atlantic as well to keep an eye on. It is hurricane season until the end of November, so not unexpected. I don't think you can ask for more. We cannot control the weather. Our seas were fairly rough the whole crossing and the weather was mostly cloudy, but you can't do anything about that. When we travelled in April on our transatlantic, we were going from Florida to Spain and the seas were very calm, but that isn't to say the next time we could be averting a storm, luck of the draw. Damage on the Ship I have never heard of this happening before. I can't imagine people can be so low, but unfortunately times are a changin'. Let's hope this doesn't happen again. I thoroughly enjoyed our crossing. I don't like rough waves either, but am I going to stop cruising, not likely. Thank you Holland America for a wonderful vacation. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
We sailed on the Nieuw Amsterdam Trans-Atlantic Cruise on October 27, 2011. We actually flew into Venice two days early to enjoy the city. We've been there twice before and really love it. We flew British Airways from Philadelphia ... Read More
We sailed on the Nieuw Amsterdam Trans-Atlantic Cruise on October 27, 2011. We actually flew into Venice two days early to enjoy the city. We've been there twice before and really love it. We flew British Airways from Philadelphia International Airport via London. The connection in London wasn't as bad as I feared - you have to go through security before getting to your connecting flight. We reserved a room at the Hotel Bonvecchiati - they arranged for a private transfer from the airport to the hotel. So, as we exited the secure area at the Venice airport, there was someone waiting for us. The gentleman and his helper grabbed our luggage and took us to a van for a very short ride to the airport pier. There, we boarded a private taxi which took us (& luggage) directly to the back door of the hotel. The ride was very scenic, especially when we came down the Grand Canal passing under the Rialto Bridge. Pre-Cruise Check-in at the Hotel Bonvecchiati was very quick. The gentleman from the Front Desk escorted us to our room. The room was a typical Venetian hotel room - very small but adequate. No great view but who spends their time in Venice looking out the window of their hotel? The bed was comfortable, there was plenty of hot water, and good water pressure. The hotel provided a free breakfast buffet that was awesome! It had everything you can imagine including made-to-order omelets. It rained both days we were in Venice but we toured nonetheless. We didn't get to do two things we had planned... 1) sit in San Marco Plaza in the evening listening to a band; 2) take a gondola ride - hopefully next time. The second day, the streets of Venice flooded making touring very interesting. We came across the Hard Rock Cafe the second day and stopped in for T-shirts and a couple of beers. We arranged for a taxi to the ship with the hotel. On embarkation day, the hotel staff brought our luggage to the lobby where we met our taxi driver at 10:15 am. The taxi couldn't get to the hotel's private dock due to high tides. So, with the help of our taxi driver, we schlepped our luggage several blocks to the Grand Canal where our taxi was parked. The taxi ride to the ship was very enjoyable, sailing the Grand Canal and passing under the Rialto Bridge. Luckily, it was a warm, sunny day. It took us about 20 minutes to get to the dock. Embarkation Upon arriving at the dock, porters took our luggage right off the taxi and loaded it onto carts bound for the ship. We walked to the terminal. They were already checking passengers in. We had Priority Check-In, so we got right in line (behind one other couple) and were checked in by 11:05 am. A sign indicated boarding would begin at 11:30 am and it did. We had Priority Boarding so we were on the ship at 11:40 am. The cabins were ready so we went right to our cabins on the Aft of the ship. The Ship This was our first time on the Nieuw Amsterdam (NA) so it took us awhile to find our way around. It is laid out a lot like the Oosterdam which we've been on. The ship was very clean and staff were constantly cleaning it day and night. I liked the Ocean Lounge layout on the NA versus the Oosterdam. The Crow's Nest is one of my favorite lounges on all the HAL ships. I was a little disappointed that they moved the Library and the Exploration Cafe into some of the space normally used for the Crow's Nest. It made it harder to get a seat in there. They have some really comfortable recliners lining the front window of the Crow's Nest but it is almost impossible to find one available. People reserve them like deck chairs - they lay a book on it and maybe show up for awhile. In the Lido Pool area, they have Cabanas that they rent. Each one looks to be about 100 sq. ft. I don't know how much it costs and what time period they rent - the promo material in the cabana said to check with the Front Office. Throughout the cruise I only saw someone use a Cabana two times. Despite the space taken by the Cabanas, we rarely had a problem finding lounge chairs around the Lido Pool. There is plenty of outside deck space with plenty of lounge chairs but my favorite is the steamer chairs on the side decks (Promenade Deck). The side decks are very wide where the chairs are located and they have towels available on the side deck. All the other public rooms were pretty typical HAL - comfortably furnished, pleasantly decorated, and plenty of antiques. The Service Although service is always somewhat variable and each person's experience is driven by the specific staff they come in contact with, overall I believe HAL provides the best service in its class. Service on the NA was no exception (except the Pinnacle Grill). All of the HAL staff we came into contact with were friendly, courteous, helpful, and quick to serve. They actually anticipated our needs - we didn't have to look for them. We had Anytime Dining and had a different table every night. We experience the same great service at each table (in the MDR). The same was true in the Lido Restaurant where we ate breakfast and lunch. The staff were quick to clear/clean tables to make them available. As usual, the Lido was very crowded and finding a table can be challenging. But, the staff made every effort to make tables available. The one exception was the Pinnacle Grill. Upon arriving, we were forced to wait to be seated despite there being plenty available tables. Then, we were handed menus and the waiter disappeared. I had to flag someone down to get a Wine List. And there we sat for over 20 minutes - no one came. Finally, we went out to the guy at the front door to ask when we would be waited on. It took him a few minutes to find someone to send to our table. The attitude of the server was very haughty, almost like he thought we should be thankful that he was there to serve us. The servers there were not Indonesian (not sure why). The Food Everyone has their own tastes in food and opinions will differ. For me, the food on-board was some of the best that I've eaten on a cruise ship. I have taken over 50 cruises so I have a lot to compare. For breakfast, practically every main entree is made to order... eggs, omelets, waffles, pancakes. And each day, they had a different kind of breakfast potato. They even had an Eggs Benedict station - one of my favorites. At lunch, there were always a number of entrees to choose from and they were always hot and juicy - not dried out like a lot of cruise buffets. The Pasta Bar, which was open almost all afternoon, was incredible. I'm not a huge pasta fan but I couldn't help but eat pasta on this ship. They also had a Taco Bar every day and the Terrace Grill with a variety of grilled sandwiches. And, most of the day, there was always ice cream available (for free!). Food in the Main Dining Room was equally good. I usually ended up eating every course, Appetizer, Soup, Salad, Entree, and Dessert. I just couldn't pass it up. The menu varied every day. Though there was always seafood, beef, pork, pasta, and vegetarian entrees, they were always different. We ate at the Pinnacle Grill and the food there was good but not much better than the Main Dining Room. A few areas that need improvement: the Pizza and the "Before Dinner Munchies". The ship has this awesome pizza kitchen on the back deck but they can't make Pizza worth a darn. I think they use pre-made crusts like you buy in the grocery store. I never saw anyone tossing a pizza dough. In the lounges before dinner, they serve hot appetizers (usually they're hot). There are usually two or three different appetizers on the plate. Almost every day, one of the choices is a Pot-sticker or a Spring Roll. Both of these are horrible. Bar Service On this ship, they had Beverage Cards that were like gift cards. You could buy a $50 or $100 card for 10% off (i.e. $90 for a $100 gift card). We used them throughout the cruise. It seemed like many staff didn't know how to work the cash register when selling a new card and charging a drink order. Consequently, it would take them a long time to get the billing straightened out. We expected to see a lot of errors on our bar bill but I only found one error - when I got home. The purchases made with the card are not detailed on your bar bill. So, unless you keep all your receipts and track the balance of your card, you never know if you got your money's worth. In the evening, they have this "Happy Hour" where you get two of a certain drink for the price of the drink plus $1. It's a really good deal if you like to have a few drinks before dinner. The problem is that the Happy Hour is literally an hour but that "hour" occurs at a different time in each bar. So, it might be at 5 pm in the Ocean Bar; 6 pm at the Queens Lounge; and 7 pm at the Crow's Nest. This caused a migration of people from bar to bar. Whenever the Happy Hour was in session, the bar was packed. When it came to an end, the crowd would move on to the next bar having the Happy Hour. It was really a pain because it was hard to enjoy the entertainment in the lounge when this huge mob showed up for Happy Hour. They paid no attention to the entertainment and were so loud that you couldn't enjoy it. The Ports Dubrovnik, Croatia - The old walled city is a must-see and do walk the walls if you are able. The ticket for the walls is 10 Euros. A taxi from the ship to the old city costs 10 Euros and you can fit 4 people in a taxi. It takes 10-15 minutes to get from the cruise port to the old city. Corfu, Greece - It is possible to walk to town from the cruise port but it is a serious hike. There is a free shuttle from the ship to the terminal but you can easily walk it. There you can get a taxi into town for, yes you guessed it, 10 Euros. The taxi drops you off at Platia Georgiou II. The ship provided a great map of the old town. It a really nice place to walk around, shop. and maybe have a drink. You can also tour the Old Fort which is very scenic. Messina, Italy - This stop was supposed to be Taormina but there was a road race in that town and many streets were closed. The ship would have had to tender passengers to shore which the Captain didn't like (takes too long). So, the Captain changed the stop to Messina - just down the road from Taormina. For some unknown reason, the Shore Excursion Office cancelled all shore excursions previously scheduled and asked passengers to re-book them if they still wanted to go. The original tours, in most cases, were still available. We had a tour of the Greek Theatre scheduled originally, They cancelled it and refunded the cost. We were pretty beat from all the touring in Venice, Dubrovnik, and Corfu so we didn't re-book - Their loss; our gain. We did walk around Messina for about an hour or so. There is a cathedral right near the docks that is pretty awesome. It has a clock tower that puts on quite a show at Noon. Leaving Messina, we got to sail past the Stromboli Volcano which is currently erupting - a pretty awesome sight. Rome - Actually Civitavecchia. We booked the tour of the Vatican Museums (we had been to Rome before and already did the ruins). The bus ride from the port to Rome is two hours. Our tour was supposed to provide three hours of free time in Rome during the morning and then the tour of the Vatican Museums in the afternoon. In reality, we didn't arrive in Rome until 10:30 am and needed to meet the bus for the Vatican Museums at 12:30 pm - so we only had two hours. Rome was very crowded. We were there on October 31st, a Monday - our tour guide explained that November 1st was an Italian Holiday so a lot of Italians took the day off to make a long weekend. And, a lot of Italians travel on long weekends. We wanted to walk through the Roman Forum but the line to buy tickets was huge. Instead, we walked to Trevi Fountain, then to the Pantheon, and ended up eating lunch near Piazza Navona (where we were initially dropped and where we met to continue the tour). The lines at the Vatican were unbelievable! Being on a tour, we were able to get right in but were elbow to elbow with the crown. We had a special Vatican Guide to take us on the tour of the museums which lasted four and a half hours. Our special guide was able to get us into a lot of rooms that were not available to others. We saw a lot of amazing stuff but it did get boring at times (I don't normally tour museums when I travel). The museums were very crowded and we had to struggle to keep up with our tour guide. We had a half hour to shop in the stores near St. Peter's Square, leaving Rome at 6 pm. We were back on board at 7:15 pm - not sure how we made it so fast! Cadiz, Spain - We didn't want to ride a bus for two hours to see Seville so we just walked around Cadiz. The old city is right by the pier - you just walk off the ship, exit the gate to the pier, and there you are. Cadiz is a pretty town and there are two forts (aka castles) that you can visit. We spent about three hours walking around, seeing the sights. Funchal, Portugal - Because of rough seas, the Captain had to cancel this port. Then, there was a medical emergency that required immediate transfer of the passenger. The Captain headed back to Funchal and arrived there in the late afternoon of the day we were scheduled. But, he didn't dock. By this time another medical emergency occurred so a second passenger was dropped there - along with some entertainers who were supposed to get off in Funchal. The Crossing - Days @ Sea Our "fun" really began when we were en-route to Cadiz. The Captain warned everyone of bad weather and rough seas ahead. A day out of Cadiz we began experiencing the rain and the rough water. We sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar at Midnight. It was an awesome sight. It was very dark but the towns on both sides of the Strait were all lit up. There is only about 8 miles from Spain to Africa at the narrowest point. From the ship, it looked even less. I bet that is a real sight during the day. Leaving Cadiz is when the ride began. The Captain indicated that we were experiencing 30 foot swells and 70 mph winds. After breakfast in the Lido, we sat and watched the waves - it was incredible! The waves were building just like you see at the beach. We saw one huge wave topped with white water continue to grow bigger and bigger as it approached the side of the ship we were sitting on. We had no idea of the impact it would have. It finally crashed into the starboard side of the ship and sent the ship rolling to the side. Everything on the tables in the Lido slid off onto the floor. We grabbed the few dishes left on our table; I grabbed my wife's chair which began sliding across the floor. Plates, cups, and glasses in the kitchen/buffet area slid off onto the floor. You could hear the glass breaking all around. The Captain changed course to nose into the waves and protect the side of the ship. The outside decks were all closed for days. Eventually the seas got a little calmer and we made our way to Funchal to deal with the medical emergency. I'm not sure if that emergency was related to the ship getting tossed around. Our cabin was apparently not designed for rough seas. The drawers at the bottom of the bed did not have a catch so they opened and closed all day and all night. It was dangerous, especially the first night, because, when we got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, we didn't expect to have the walkway blocked by an open drawer. The closet door also didn't have a catch so they opened and closed continuously. I have no problems with seasickness and I actually enjoy riding the rough seas. But my wife does get affected by really rough seas. Leaving Funchal, it wasn't bad that evening but we once again hit rough seas - not as bad as before. The outside decks were open but it was rainy and the ship rocked & rolled. The temperature during the crossing was around 70 degrees and it got a bit warmer as we neared Florida. The sea also got calmer for the last day of the crossing. The Entertainment The entertainment on board was mediocre at best. We had the normal cast of characters... ships orchestra, ships show cast, impressionist, juggler, comedian, and singer. We also had an acrobat. The best of the bunch was the Nieuw Amsterdam Orchestra (aka the HAL Cats). They played for all of the musical shows and were awesome! A show would end and the orchestra would continue to play while the crowd left the lounge - many in the audience stayed to listen to every last second then gave a standing ovation. The HAL Cats played with a singer named Rachel. Rachel and the HAL Cats didn't play often and usually only played for one hour. Often times they were scheduled to play but never showed up. The show cast, consisting of four men and two women, did several productions but usually only a few at a time. The best production by far was "Cantare" performed by the four male vocalists. That received a standing ovation by all. The female vocalists were no match for their male counterparts. Each production show seemed to feature one or two male vocalists, one or both female vocalists, and one or two dancers. I would have liked to see more shows with the complete cast performing. I don't usually enjoy jugglers and impressionists. so it's not fair for me to say they were boring - others seemed to like them. The audiences loved the acrobatic couple - a young virile guy lifting up his pretty female companion. The skimpy costuming didn't hurt that show either. There was a three-piece jazz band playing in the Ocean Lounge. They looked like they were bored to tears doing their show. They certainly bored me to tears! The guy in the Piano Bar was not the best. He could really play the piano but couldn't sing well. He really enjoyed talking to the folks that sat around the piano. He loved to take requests despite the fact that he couldn't play them. That doesn't mean he didn't try. It was pure torture! One night, there was no show in the main lounge after dinner so we went to the Piano Bar. We had already stopped in late on several nights so we knew he wasn't the best - boy, we found out he was a lot worse than what we thought. The Crow's Nest had a Guitarist playing every night (but not usually late). His name is Matt Murphy. We had seen him play on the Veendam a year ago. He is very good and very entertaining. He passes out his song list so that people can request their favorites. The Adagio Strings sounded good whenever I heard them but I didn't spend a lot of time in the Explorer's Lounge. I thought that there could have been a lot more entertainment given the number of entertainers on board. I couldn't believe that one night after dinner the show in the main lounge was a movie. Our Cabin The cabin was not well-lit. When you walk in the door, there are closets on the right and the bathroom on the left. There is one recessed light at the doorway. It is great for looking in that first closet but, because it is recessed, it doesn't provide light for the other closets. Most of the lighting in the cabin was recessed which made for a lot of shadows. The verandah was a nice size but there was no lounge chair. Instead, we had one nice chair and one small straight back chair. The beds were very comfortable, there was plenty of storage space, a nice sized tub and a great shower. We had a little trouble with the toilet running too much and overflowing but that got corrected in a day or two. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
My husband and I cruise frequently and are the highest tier on Celebrity and Princess. We had a great experience on the Zuiderdam a few years ago; we thought a new Holland America ship would be fun. We were wrong. I believe Holland America ... Read More
My husband and I cruise frequently and are the highest tier on Celebrity and Princess. We had a great experience on the Zuiderdam a few years ago; we thought a new Holland America ship would be fun. We were wrong. I believe Holland America has cut every corner imaginable in building there new ships. Everything has a glossy appearance (the ship is new) but the years will not treat her well. My husband, who is in a wheelchair, and I booked a 13-Day Celebrity cruise and followed it with a 30-day Transatlantic cruise on the brand new Nieuw Amsterdam. We assumed (our fault) that a new ship would not have so many issues with handicapped passengers. His electric wheelchair had broken in the airport in Rome, but we were told that would not be an issue in Venice. It was. The shore person at the hotel assured us that someone would meet us at the pier for embarkation and help with the wheelchair. When we arrived by water taxi (which works fine for mobility impaired people) we waited for over 45 minutes for assistance - this is in the hot sun with no cover. The ship's representative was also frustrated and told us she'd been calling the ship all morning and was getting no help. I walked to the embarkation area and was told they simply had no staff to help. Embarkation went well - I think they realized I was more than a little irritated. We went to the Guest Relations, staffed by people whose primary job is to say, "no, can't be done, absolutely not." We rented a manual wheelchair for $425 for the 30 days and were told there was no way to get an electric scooter. Of course, that was inaccurate. After several emails to our travel agent in the States (when the internet worked), we were finally able to pick one up in Barcelona. When we then asked for a refund on the manual chair, they said it would still cost $320 because the rental is for 1-10 days and 11 - 30 days. Of course, the first leg of the cruise was 12 days. We then went to our stateroom. Do not book 4051 if you are in a wheelchair. In fact, guest relations is well acquainted with that room and ensured us the ADA attorney had measured the room. That should tell you something. Using a manual wheelchair, you cannot move the chair between the bed and the wall because there is not room for your hands to manipulate the chair. There is nowhere to sit but in your chair. When I was drying my hair, my husband had to sit on the other side of the bed and watch TV in the mirror - the TV is wall mounted and doesn't move. I've never seen such a cheap remote. If I then wanted to use the bathroom, he had to move the scooter for me to get into the bathroom. The entrance to the veranda is uphill - a steep incline and it's impossible for someone in a wheelchair to roll up the incline and then open the door. No sliding glass doors here; they open like a regular door going outwards to the veranda. There was a small table and two chairs in the room but because of the incline, the chair teetered. I had them remove the table and chairs to provide space for the wheelchair to turn around. Then there was the closet, Apparently handicapped people don't wear long clothes. The rod on the left side was not high enough for golf shirts to hand without crumpling on the floor. The right side had the same issue because clothes fell on top of the safe. I solved that by having them bring me a rolling clothes rack which then sat on either side of the hump by the veranda. On our first roll about of the ship, we encountered three randomly placed thresholds that you cannot roll over in a wheelchair. There is no reason for that but shoddy engineering. Beware - if you don't know they're there, the wheelchair passenger is nearly jolted out of the chair. You have to stop, turn around and back over them. There are a number of wheelchair accessible restrooms about the ship. Unfortunately, the automatic doors close so slowly that it was not uncommon to see men relieving themselves before the door would close. Eating at the Lido Restaurant is an exercise in patience. The food on either side of the serving area is not always the same. Lines form everywhere and navigating in a wheelchair is hazardous. So is trying to find a table as the walkways are narrow because they've placed tables-for-two along what should have been a walkway. Passengers who rave about the food haven't been on many other cruise lines. Ah yes. Then there's the issue with the pools. They are totally non-accessible. In fact, they had to go out of their way to design a more unfriendly pool. This is unfortunate because that's my husband's primary means of exercise. The Celebrity Solstice class ships have lifts and easy entry pools. To their credit, one of the front desk managers (when we got past the nay-sayers) then gave us a pass to the hydrotherapy pool, which worked until they drained it because of the GI problems running rampant around the ship - 12 days of Code Red. When there are so many ships that accommodate wheelchair passengers, don't spend your money on the Nieuw Amsterdam. We're staying with Celebrity and Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
Our HAL Nieuw Amsterdam trip was a huge disappointment. The food was excellent. Our dining room and cabin stewards were both excellent. Having said that, the dining room was so noisy one couldn't hear ones tablemates. The cabin's ... Read More
Our HAL Nieuw Amsterdam trip was a huge disappointment. The food was excellent. Our dining room and cabin stewards were both excellent. Having said that, the dining room was so noisy one couldn't hear ones tablemates. The cabin's air conditioner blew cold all day whether one had it set higher or not but, at night, it turned off and one would be wake up perspiring. The TV did not have a connection for ear phones which was surprising. The Lido restaurant was so disorganized that we gave up on it. For example, we were seated on the Port side of the ship for breakfast. I ordered a poached egg and was told I had to go to the starboard side as they didn't serve poached eggs on the port side where my husband ordered his breakfast. I couldn't believe it!! This is just one example of many that we encountered. The entertainment variety left a lot to be desired. There was no excitement on the ship and being on the ship for two legs, we expected the cruise director to have a larger repertoire of stories (jokes) instead of the same ones. There were no pool activities. Port info was lacking unless scheduled on a ship tour. In Venice, there were no shuttles, water or otherwise, into the city nor was there any info as to how to make our way there. The kiosk on the dock that sells tickets for tours and water taxis was closed but all of the other ships in dock had made arrangements for their guests. As a result, we had to return to the ship without making it into Venice. Not acceptable. The internet cafe was noisy and annoying due to the proximity of the coffee shop. People tended to meet and chat there for extended periods of time. The crow's nest was noisy with quiz shows taking place while one was trying to read. The ship was well appointed but didn't flow well. One had to "enter" areas rather than having the feeling of openness and inclusion. To sum up, it will be a long time before I can get my husband back on a cruise. We were looking forward to time in VENICE but, unfortunately, didn't get to see it this time. DUBROVNIK - we enjoyed our time here. Spent some time in the old city and then took an open bus tour of the area. Got some lovely pictures CORFU - rented a car and toured the island. Delightful. SANTORINI - Loved the cable car to the top. Rented a car and toured the island -Made it to Kamira Beach (black sand)- looked lovely but a little too cool for a dip. Returned to look through the shops. I rode back down but my husband walked down!! with the donkeys!! ARGOSTOLI - Not very exciting. Took the little tram around town 3.50 Euros ea. - nothing much to see. CATANIA - very old city and busy. Took the little tram through city. 5Euros ea. NAPLES - Had a 9 hour private tour of the Amalfi coast. It was an amazing day! ROME - There is a shuttle from the ship to the town. Took the train into Rome from Citatevecchia, 9E pp return - purchased the tickets at the train station which is about a 15 minute walk from where the shuttle drops everyone off. We found an internet cafe (there are lots of them) and phoned home as it cost only .6E per min. (Yes, that's right) to phone Ontario, Canada. VALENCIA Took a cab into the city center - it wasn't necessary as we found out later (information that we should have had from the ship). The Hop On Hop Off bus has two lines, a red and a blue. The blue line stops within walking distance of the ship. We highly recommend the HOHO to see this beautiful city. CARTAGENA - This is one of the nicest piers that we saw on the trip. Great for strolling. We took the tourist bus (5E ea). It was less than hour and not worth it. Walked up the lovely pedestrian only street. Has refreshment at an outdoor cafe. ALMERIA - Not much to do here CADIZ - Nice old town to stroll in. Remember, that stores close at 2pm-6pm for siesta. PORTIMAO - Beautiful beach but too cool to take a dip. Thought we would have been better to spend an extra day in Lisbon and skip this destination at this time of year. LISBON - The highlight of our trip. Eight of us had a van and driver from I HATE TOURISM TOURS.COM to take us up the coast as we had all been to Lisbon before. Had lunch on the sea wall up on the cliff at the westernmost point in Europe. Visited castles, the Tower of Belem and had custard tarts at the famous Patisserie du Belem. Our driver gave us a hair-raising but exciting ride through the streets of Lisbon and to top off the day, we looked over the city of Lisbon from the highest point in the city. We highly recommend this tour company who went out of their way to make our day one to remember! BARCELONA - Lots to see and do here. The HOHO bus is a must. With limited time, it's the best way to see the city. Then, take a leisurely stroll up Las Rambla, visit the wonderful market before returning to the ship. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
Though the following review is 6 months late, the fact that the ship is back in the Mediterranean for its second season makes it hopefully pertinent. Our first time cruising at sea was the 32 day b2b TA Venice to Florida on the Nieuw ... Read More
Though the following review is 6 months late, the fact that the ship is back in the Mediterranean for its second season makes it hopefully pertinent. Our first time cruising at sea was the 32 day b2b TA Venice to Florida on the Nieuw Amsterdam in October 2010- an excellent choice on all fronts, i.e. cruise line,ship, location, and weather. We learned the hard way to be careful about the expressions "first cruise / first time cruising".Proud of this new adventure, we heartily raised our hands when the diners at the Mariners Luncheon (remember b2b) were asked who was on their first cruise. Those who did raise their hands were called "party crashers"by the CD.Ouch! Preparation for this grand adventure included many hours on CC sourcing tips, reviews,etc.which for the most part proved helpful.. Embarkation in Venice was relatively smooth and as our inside J cabin near the aft elevators wasn't quite ready, we retired to the Lido restaurant for some lunch and a glass of wine. Our room was sufficiently spacious though our over-packed 4 suitcases caused some restrictions. Live and learn on the luggage front. Crew and Staff - fantastic positive approach to pax. Stewards and assistants really deserved an end-of-cruise tip over and above the daily general charge. The ship As this was our first time cruising, we had nothing to compare the NA with but found it spacious and rather impressive particularly with the New York theme which we are familiar with from previous land travels.It takes a while to get used to the layout but it helps if one examines the ship decks online in advance. Lower Atrium- Front desk where the friendly get-to-know-you staff is knowledgeable on all things pertaining to your stay. Excursion desk where I found the staff, when on-duty, less friendly (glad I did the non prearranged tours using 3rd(?) level keyboard). Dining We are not fussy diners but we do appreciate good food and service. There was an abundance of both on the NA. The Lido- was the mainstay which was the goto when other dining rooms were unavailable. Generally went there for breakfast and lunch. If a late tour set meal schedules back or if you needed a late snack, a substantial fare is available in the Lido at 11pm. Had no problem at all with the variety of offerings or quality. The Manhattan Dining Room- was our designated "open dining" room with superb service and menus. It took several days before we got up-to-speed in using the services of this place, but we took advantage of shared accomodation at all dinners and some breakfasts as well as afternoon tea at 3 . On all occasions, we were introduced to many interesting diners. Service was always no problem in the MDR except on "at sea" days when there were no excursions and the volume of patrons at tea increased significantly.The layout and decor was impressive, the dining room conversations at bit noisy, and the air conditioning a bit cool in the inner step-up portion of the 2nd level MDR. We always looked forward to coming back to this place. We did not avail ourselves of the Pinnacle Grill, Silk Den, Explorations Cafe,or Canaletto. Yes, but we did experience the Pan Asian Tamarind and it was just, super! We hadn't experienced such an interesting series of courses, teas, and service, as here. Just a note re the code orange and the fact that the dining staff in the Lido had to do all serving and distribution of items. As the Tamarind was not open during the breakfast time-frame, its staff was seconded to the Lido to assist with coffee serving and we were surprised when one of the Tamarind servers greeted us by name a few days after our visit there. Bars We drink socially and rather minimally so did not frequent any of the several bars each of which had their own character. Entertainment The Showroom at the bow of the ship is beautiful and was used for various activities including bingo, church services , movies, lectures,and of course evening shows. We did not take in very many of the shows but were impressed with most of what we saw particularly the enthusiasm of the ships singers and especially the dancers.We enjoyed a couple of the stage productions, e.g NYC, also an English comedian, and particularly a singer/impressionist named Robinson (sorry forgot 1st name).Apparently a juggler/comedian named Barnaby was a hit on this ship as well as Cantare. Hit Bingo almost every-time offered but won zilch. We took in a couple of cooking demonstrations ; didn't participate in the dance instruction classes. We did however dance to the Jimmy Maddox trio and Jen and the Hal Cats. Speaking of not winning at bingo, we were up and down in the wins and losses at the Casino as we cut our way through the cigarette smoke. One of the few areas on the ship where it was permitted internally, the smokers seemed in general to have a "because I can" attitude. Also, patrons of the Showroom had to run the smoke gauntlet to get to and from their destination. Gymnasium Used gym equipment on one occasion (though more warranted). Sat in on a free interesting presentation on toxicity in the human diet and environment. However, we went further afterward and had a not free health assessment using a machine with electrodes providing a printout on various readings.Found some of the findings questionable and particularly that a product was being recommended on an ongoing subscription basis. Paid bill and never went back. Please note that I understand the gym, casino, and Signatures shop are run by outside interests not HAL though I may stand to be corrected. Photo Gallery Ship-sponsored photos were taken upon embarkation, during Formal Dining Nights, and during some port dis-embarkations,etc. A cruise video dvd with highlights from various excursions was an ongoing project.Having heeded one CC'ers warning of annoying photographers, I refused when my wife mentioned someone wanted us to turn around for a picture. Turns out it was the cruise videographer and so we missed our chance to be included in the Venice departure scenes; did make it briefly in the Santorini trip. We purchased a set of MDR photos of ourselves as well as cruise and Mediterranean highlites dvd's. All reasonable. Library/computer Didn't avail ourselves of the library though many did. The pay for time used computer usage hurt, not only for the $30 for the half hour e-mail composition, but that we found out 2 weeks later that our intended recipients didn't receive anything. Once located, onshore telephone and e-mail each cost less than 2 euros for about 20 minutes usage. Ports This is the biggest and most interesting aspect of cruising. It does, however, require alot of thought particularly for "newbies". First of all, determine a philosophy regarding excursions. This sounds rather simplistic but is necessary. Participants should determine what is important to them,i.e. what locales are important to me and why. Do I approach cities and sites from a historical viewpoint or by popularity? How much do I think an excursion is worth versus what I am willing to pay? Do we like to "self direct" our excursions? Are we "intimidated" by the warning that if your "on your own" excursion is delayed for whatever reason, you're "on your own" as the ship won't wait. Though we visited several Italian ports, we didn't do Italy quite the justice it deserved so it awaits a further visit.Note to self...arrive in departure city at least 1 day early to cover jet lag and do some touring. Favourite locales for us included Monaco, Barcelona,Cartagena,and Granada.The Greek island of Thira (Santorini) is a "must-see" as well as Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Epilogue These 32 days resulted in us putting a deposit on a future yet to be selected HAL cruise. With all the friendly staff attention, interesting fellow travellers,great locations, fantastic food,and R&R prompted my wife to say, upon departing the ship, "we went to heaven" and I agree. 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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