Hereby my review of our 8-day cruise to Norway with Holland America's Nieuw Statendam. With lots of help from Cruise Critic members and by reading lots of post we decided a few months ago to go for a cruise to Norway, the 8 days (7 nights) Vikings Saga. Because it was our first cruise we decided to start and end in Amsterdam (capital of our home country) and just for a week to see cruising was something for us.
If you have any question after reading this review please let me know! I have posted a selection of photos but if you want to see something, you’re missing please let me know. I also brought a lot of documentation from the ship like When and Where. Please like my post! If you liked it of course...
Booking the cruise: We booked directly with HAL in the Netherlands. There was an offer with free Signature beverage package and 10% discount on excursion booked before a certain date. Al the Dutch travel agency who also offered this same trip (with the same benefits) were almost $ 150, - more expensive than HAL so for us the best deal was to book directly with HAL…
Day 1: Embarkation day! Today, Sunday the 18th of August 2019 we finally started our cruise on the Statendam! We arrived early by train in Amsterdam Central station. We walked from the station to the terminal (PTA Amsterdam) in 15 minutes. Dropped of the baggage at the designated drop-off point. We entered the cue for checking in and our first thought was that the cue was long… But there where I think 12 or more desks where they checked in passengers. It was a 5-minute wait. After getting the first information about activities onboard (When and Where) and our personal spending card/room key we walked to the security check and after that entered to a waiting room where we received a card with a group number, in our case number 13. When we found a seat in the crowded waiting room, they called out group 10 and after I think 5 minutes our group was called to enter the ship! In the gangway they scanned our card an told us the rooms where ready. First, we went to our room to check it out and that explored the ship! At 0430PM we went to the Lido deck where we drank champagne and sail away from Amsterdam! Rest of the evening we walked on the outside deck to see the sail away trough the channel to the locks of Ijmuiden. We had dinner in the MDR.
Day 2: At sea Like the first day we explored the ship even more. Due the fact it was a sea day we just relaxed a lot by the swimming pool, and I made some recordings with my GoPro around the ship. Nice spot we sit this day was in the Exploration café on deck 12. You need to be on time, most people stay here for a few hours, especially on the nice seats by the windows. Breakfast and Lunch in the Lido, diner in the MDR.
Day 3: Fläm In Fläm we went out of bet early 05:30AM to go to the bow they opened for the scenic cruising in the Sognefjord and the last part to Fläm in the Aurlandsfjord. It’s was very nice to stand here and watch the beautiful Norwegian nature! 0700AM we docked in Fläm and went for breakfast to the Lido.
In Fläm we did a hike to the Brekkefossen waterfall. It was hike from the boot to the starting point of the trail to the waterfall and back down, a little further into the valley, back to Fläm port and walk around the port a 14km hike for 4 hours. The hike is very nice but the trail from the rood up to the waterfall is with bad weather very slippery… For lunch (Lido) we went back to the ship and relaxed the rest of the day. Dinner in the Lido.
Day 4: Stavanger Stavanger was a nice town to walk around, we first went to the street with the wooden houses (Gamle/Old Stavanger) that was across the street where the ship was docked. After that we walked to the Dom Church and the Breiavatnet lake behind the church. 5 hours walk, 14KM.
For lunch we went back to the ship and grabbed a pizza at New York Deli! Great Pizza! Dinner in the MDR.
Day 5: Kristiansand A lot of rain this day, we walked from the cruise terminal to the fish market and after that to the Dom Church of Kristiansand. We grabbed a cup of coffee and a donut a walked around the city to do some shopping. Due the bad weather my wife we went back to the ship to put on dry clothing and I walked around the Odderøya headland, beautiful nature reserve and in the meantime the weather had also improved so I could make some images with my GoPro. Walked for 4 hours,10KM.
After I went back to the ship and put on dry clothing as well, we went for lunch to the Dive-In.
Great burgers with chips!!
Kristiansand is a very nice city but this day the weather wat to bad to explore everything we wanted to do.
Day 6: Oslo Oslo! Nice weather and our last stop in Norway with this beautifully cruise! Oslo is a nice city with a beautifully harbor with new buildings in old style. Lots of old buildings in the city. They had on different places in the city live music. At the royal palace the members of the government arrived, don’t know them but it was fun to see, lots of armed guards and police. Again, we did some shopping and went to the Akershus fort. The ship was in front of the fort so had a nice opportunity to make some nice pictures of the ship. We went back on the ship and put on swim clothing and had lunch at the Lido outside pool. Walked in Oslo for 5 hours, 12KM. After lunch we went in the Jacuzzi and swimming pool and enjoyed the sunshine! We went for a shower ant went back out to be on time to grab a chair on deck 10 aft for the sail out from Oslo. Great views! Dinner in the Lido. Day 7: At sea
Last full day on the Nieuw Statendam… I miss it already…. Went out early to make some shots with camera and GoPro without people on the background. Breakfast we had in the Lido. This day I had a Behind the Scenes tour
If you can grab a place in the behind the scenes tour, I really would recommend it! It was very nice to see what’s going on below the passenger decks. They don’t advertise with it on our cruise, but I asked on the first day on the ship and it was planned for the last seaday. I was the 3rd on the list and they needed a minimum of 8 persons, maximum was 12. The duration was almost 3,5 hours and we went to the following departments: bridge, incident room, world stage, walked through the corridors where the crew sleeps (couldn’t see in the rooms), laundry, tailor shop, crew mess, recycling center, engine control room, storage rooms for the food (LOTS OF FOOD!) and the galley. After that we went with our cruise director who guided the tour back up to the Billboard on board to grab a drink and receive a goody bag form hall. Like is said, if you would like to see what’s happening behind the scenes, I really recommend it! It’s in this case worth the $ 150, -
Day 8: Disembarkation day….. About our disembarkation, first disembark time was 0700AM and later we got an email with the announcement it changed to 0530AM.
But thank god we didn’t have to get out that early! The Nieuw Statendam docked VCK Waterland Terminal at about 0530 AM and 0700AM they started disembarking passengers in groups. On day 2 in our cruise we got an envelope with disembarkation information and a form that we needed to fill in. There were a few options to choose from like a transfer to the City of Amsterdam, Schiphol Airport and Train Station Sloterdijk. We choose the last option because we needed to get on the train to our hometown. We could choose from 3 timeframes, 07:45/08:00, 08:15/08:30 and 08:45/09:00 am. We chose for the last one, so we had enough time onboard to get breakfast and relax a bit before leaving the ship. Breakfast time for our disembarkation day where from 06:00 till 09:00am in the Lido and in the MDR from 06:30 till 08:00am.
They announced the group we were in (Black 3) at 09:05 and we went to the gangway and disembarked the ship for the last time…… In the hall on the dock our luggage was ready to pick up and we walked to the busses that drove us to the station.
Everything was well organized by HAL!
The Room: We had a Veranda room on deck 7, VE7186. What can I say? The room was small but big enough for a week for 2 persons and maybe for 2 adults and one minor. Not for 4 adults. The room is on the Shubert deck portside aft. It was a good choice in our case. We had no inconvenience from other guests or from the entertainment on board. The room has a good shower and in the shower is shampoo, conditioner and shower gel from Elemis. I liked it but as always tastes differ per person!
On a next cruise I don’t take any shampoo or shower gel! My wife liked it to but preferred her own conditioner and shampoo for her curly hair. Our room steward was a nice guy cleaned our room twice a day and provided new towels. At night (second cleaning) he folded a nice towel animal every night.
The safe is big enough for a 17inch laptop or tablet. The minibar is not included in the drink package! Read somewhere people asked the room steward to empty the minibar so that they can fill it themselves. What we did on some days is that we grabbed during the day beers or sprites and asked to not open it. We then put it in the minibar and drunk it when we wanted to sit on the balcony. But most of the time we where only on the room for sleeping.
Food: The food was of a good quantity. We did not eat any paid restaurant like the Pinnacle Grill, we had the plans to do this but the food in the MDR was very good and Lido was for us extraordinarily good food for a buffet restaurant! Breakfast we did both in the Lido and MDR, if you want to start the day with not a lot noise and people around you go early to the MDR. I think a lot of food from the MDR and Lido are the same, especially in the morning. The only difference is that in the MDR they bring you the food!
In the Lido at lunch time you can get Sushi at one of the stations, I asked if the also had it for dinner, but the answer was no…. Needed to come to the (paid) Shushi bar, I think it’s the same sushi so if you like sushi and don’t want the ambiance of a sushi bar take in as a lunch!
Here a "few" food pics from MDR and Lido market.
New York Deli Pizza we had an Pizza with tasted very good! Dive-in we eat both a burger with chips witch tasted very good! Tastes of course differ per person but people can’t say the food is bad!!
And put on your plate what you can eat!!! If you don’t have enough go for a second or third time…
I saw a lot of people putting their plates FULL and left the table with half a plate of food left….. During our behind the scenes tour they told us that food waste is a big problem which they try to prevent.
I think some people are afraid that the food will run out soon? They walk around like headless chickens and if you are not careful, they will knock you over!! That’s what of the things I didn’t like of the Lido…
(No, this is not me... 🙂 )
Drinks: For the drinks we had both the Signature Beverage Package. We booked before a certain date an got this for free. Would I book it on a future cruise? If I see what we drink in this week I say yes, but normally on a holiday we don’t drink so much if we did on this cruise… Must say that most of our holidays we book villa’s and need to drive to town to go for dinner or drinks and then I can’t drink! On a cruise ship its different... You can relax and grab a beer or cocktail and don’t need to think “can’t drink too much because I need to drive”.
I made a calculation from our consumption (beer, wine, cocktails, sprites and special coffees) this one week cruise and we saved out $ 258,- dollars with the two of us with this SBP.
We had an average of 5 alcoholic beverage per person per day and 6 non alcoholic drinks.
For me most Mojito, beer water and Coca Cola, my wife drunk wine, prosecco, water, cappuccino, smoothies and some sprites.
The terms of the SBP are not always that clear, in particular in the Netherlands.
If you read the Dutch FAQ they say; A maximum of 15 beverages (alcoholic and nonalcoholic) per day total with a maximum of $ 11,- (08/2019).
The USA website FAQ says: A maximum of 15 alcoholic beverages a day and unlimited nonalcoholic beverages a day with a maximum of $ 11, - (08/2019).
I got in touch with the Dutch customer service and they confirmed to me that the USA FAQ statement about the SBP is correct.
Entertainment: World Stage:
This is a great stage! 270-degree LED screens make it very nice to watch shows.
On our cruise week we went to Iris Kroes, a Dutch singer/songwriter that’s playing on a harp, very good music especially because she sang a song in a language of our province (Frisian). And we went to an illusionist from the UK, Adam Heppenstall. Adam had some nice card tricks! Phenomenal.
The last night we went to a combined show of Iris and Adam. This week the Postmodern Jukebox also preformed in the World Stage, we only listened to them during the show of Iris. Great band.
B.B. Kings Blues Club and Lincoln stage center: B.B. King and Lincoln stage center is a combined stage, in daytime there is classical music where we have not been. At night the All Stars band played in the B.B. Kings Blues Club, this was our favorite band and music genre. We have been here all the nights the All Stars where playing.
Billboard On Board: Nice music with the two guys on the Piano. Some nights they play numbers on request. Bin here a few times before/after dinner or a show in the World Stage.
In the Billboard you can grab some snacks from a small buffet by the room. I think it opens 0600PM
discovered by accident… They had just some cooked shrimps and meatballs, some toasted bread strips, egg salad and tomato with mozzarella. Nice before dinner snack with your beer or cocktail.
Rolling Stone Rock Room: Good rock band but not our type of music. Bin here a few times before/after dinner or a show in the World Stage.
Excursion: Due the fact we like to walk around our self, explore things and we find the prices of what HAL asks for excursions to high, we didn’t book anything with HAL, except the behind the scenes tour what only is possible to book with HAL.
Talked with another passenger, he told me the TA he booked with advised him to NOT book excursions with HAL. Like the Flam railway he booked himself on the Saturday before embarkation. Till that day the train tickets were al sold out but that Saturday there were a lot of tickets available again (cruise lines give unsold tickets back to train company). He just paid $ 100, - for 2 persons (last minute price!) instead of $ 360, - with HAL, price difference of 260%!! But for that price difference you will get a waffle and coffee! 😊
Would I recommend HAL as a first-time cruiser? Yes, certainly! Perhaps there are cheaper cruise lines for the same voyages that provide this same good service, but I do not have that experience yet and I will investigate in the coming period.
As said, this was our first cruise and certainly not the last!