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  1. Day #1 - After a leisurely breakfast on the 23rd floor of the Pan Pacific, we rolled our luggage downstairs to the co-located Canada Place cruise ship terminal (the hotel has a dedicated "cruise ship level" elevator.) It was an easy hop, skip and a roll to the porters. From there, it was the actual cruise ship check-in which, with four ships in port, was a busy affair. After check-in, it was a bit of a "zig-zag livestock style" meander to get to shore-side security screening of individuals and carry-on luggage, and then another "hurry up and wait" for pre-clearance border screening, not by Canadian CBSA, but by officers of the United States Customs & Border Protection (CBP). You see, the United States federal government operates border pre-clearance facilities at a number of ports and airports in foreign territory. The process is intended to streamline border procedures, reduce congestion at U.S. ports of entry, and facilitate travel between the pre-clearance location and U.S. ports of entry unequipped to handle international travelers. After the obligatory welcome aboard pic by the ship's photographers (hey, no one is holding a knife to your throat to later purchase these pics!), we took one of Nieuw A's scenic elevators to Deck 7 and to our floating crib. Dropped off the carry-on's and headed for the Lido Marker for a salad and soup lunch. As we were leaving the abode, our luggage was delivered pronto; fast service by Nieuw A's Housekeeping Dept.! The 4:00 PM mandatory passenger emergency safety drill was one of the fastest and most efficient "mustard" drills that we've seen in twenty-seven years of cruising. Everyone showed up, got scanned in by the asst. boat commander and, at least as was the case with our boat, #10, paid attention/quit flapping their lips" as Captain Marco Carsjens and CD Rebecca read their safety and health schpiel via the ship's P/A system. We were dismissed exactly nineteen minutes after arriving, a fact which drew an applause from many of our fellow shipmates! Impressive feat! After unpacking, we did some jelling and vegging until it was time for dinner (we chose a casual one in the Lido and had Rigatoni). From there, it was a beeline for the last portion of the first set (8:30 PM) of the B.B. King's All-Star Band which, we found out, was standing room only, not one available seat in in the house! The band sounded spectacular as usual, with lead female singer Stephanie Bolton standing out. We stuck around for the entire second set (were able to locate two front row seats) and then finished up the night with the two Billboard Onboard pianists/vocalists Ivy and Jonathan. The main entertainment in the show lounge tonite was the movie "Avengers Endgame"starting at 8:30 PM Pic is the reason behind this ship's name prominently displayed opposite the Deck 2 port-side scenic elevators. New York City's nick name "The Big Apple" was first popularized in the 1920s by John J. FitzGerald, a sports writer for the New York Morning Telegraph.
  2. We’re contemplating a fall 2020 transatlantic cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam in an aft-facing cabin when the new itineraries come out and we are interested in hearing from folks that have sailed on a HAL transatlantic cruise in the past year or two. We are in our mid 60s and enjoy lectures, playing trivia, walking laps around the promenade and pretty much having organized fun on sea days. Also, do the cabins sill have DVD players? During slow times and in the evening after the show, as we don’t really like hanging out in the various lounges, we also bring along some dvds to keep us entertained. And finally how is the internet service in the cabins, especially in the aft-facing ones, as my DW needs daily access for work purposes. Any thoughts will be greatly appreciated.
  3. Just checking about drinking water available on the NA. Is there a place on board that has water for filling water bottles other than the tap in the nearest sink?
  4. We previously sailed on the Amsterdam and spent many evenings in the Crow's Nest Bar. We booked on the Nieuw Amsterdam for Thanksgiving, so I was browsing photos of the ship. Did they turn the Crow's Nest into the Explorations Cafe? Is there no longer a bar up there???
  5. Am looking ahead to 2020 Caribbean schedule. Specifically, would like some input into which deck would be best on the stern to try to ensure it would be reasonably quiet. Any help appreciated.
  6. The Signature Sisters are making their last visit to Juneau this season. Eurodam will be at the AS dock from 1300-2200. She will be headed to Hawaii and the Mexican Riviera before heading to FLL on November 16. Nieuw Amsterdam will be at the CT dock from 1300-2200. She will be leaving for FLL on September 28. NA will spend the summer of 2020 in Europe. Also in port are Carnival Legend at the FKL dock from 0700-1600 and Norwegian Joy at the AJ dock from 1500-2300. It will not be a very nice day for those visiting Juneau on Monday. The high will be 53F/12C and the low 45F/7C. There is a 100% chance of rain and "cloudy with periods of rain" is predicted. Sunrise is at 6:45 am and sunset at 6:54 pm. The PTZtv webcam can be found at https://www.juneauharborwebcam.com/. Next up: a triple play on Tuesday with Oosterdam, Westerdam, and Noordam all in port!
  7. What did HAL learn from the Koningsdam that they have changed on the Nieuw Statendam?
  8. Does anyone know if there are charging USB ports in the nightstands on the Nieuw Amsterdam? I thought I saw this somewhere but not I'm having a hard time using the search function within the boards. Thanks!
  9. Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam will be spending Labor Day in Juneau. Eurodam will be at the AS dock from 1300-2300 and Nieuw Amsterdam at the CT dock from 1300-2200. Also in port are Ruby Princess at the FKL dock from 1100-2215 and Solstice at the AJ dock from 1330-2200. Typical Juneau weather is back for this week with mostly cloudy skies and a good chance of rain each day. The prediction for Monday is for overcast skies with some showers. High will only be 55F/13C and the low 51F/10C. Sunrise is at 5:59 am and sunset at 7:55 pm. The PTZtv webcam can be found at https://www.juneauharborwebcam.com/. Next up: Oosterdam on Tuesday.
  10. My wife and I sailed on the August 31 Nieuw Amsterdam Alaska cruise, roundtrip from Vancouver with visits to Tracy Arm Inlet/Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, and Ketchikan. I'm not writing a full review, but I wanted to share some notes and impressions from the cruise. This was not our first Alaska cruise. My wife and I took one on Princess in 2002, and I did two previous Alaska cruises in the 90's, one on Celebrity and the other on RCCL. I've been on many cruises but only once on HAL, and that was almost 25 years ago. It was the first time on HAL for my wife. EMBARKATION We took a taxi to Canada Place from our hotel, arriving around 11:00. The taxi waited in a long line in the parking garage to drop us off -- we should have left the taxi outside and walked. Embarkation was very quick and organized, with lots of staff directing people. We were able to board and go to our stateroom immediately after checking in and clearing Customs, so we were in our room before noon. The MDR was open for lunch from 12:00-1:30, so we ate there. Our luggage was delivered to our cabin around 2:00. CABIN We were in an aft-facing verandah cabin, #5191. The cabin was nice, with plenty of storage, a decent size bathroom with a tub/shower and handheld showerhead. Some of the space for hanging items was short, but I discovered you could fold the shelves up to make more space. Our cabin steward Jalu ("Lu") was very good. The balcony had two chairs with separate foot rests and a small table. The TV didn't appear to work correctly at first, but that's because you have to watch the entire safety presentation (just a few minutes) before you can access the menu. There was a limited selection of live TV, but we only watched the news once in a while to keep tabs on Hurricane Dorian (we live in FL). DINING Prior to the cruise, I made reservations in three of the specialty restaurants, Canaletto (first night), Pinnacle Grill (mid week), and Tamarind (last night). Once on board, we decided to try Tamarind on the second night. We had our other dinners and lunches in the MDR. Pinnacle and Tamarind were very good (Tamarind was better the first time), Canaletto was good but not great, and the MDR was pretty good. On Gala Nights people were not as dressed up as I've seen on other cruises. We had breakfast delivered to room each morning (including the last morning, which most cruise lines don't do). There's a limited selection of hot and cold items. A couple of mornings the order wasn't quite right, and a couple of times breakfast came either early or late, but overall it was fine. As with every other cruise line I've been on, there's an order tag you can hang outside your door before you go to bed. ENTERTAINMENT By far the best entertainment was the band at B.B. King's Blues Club, and we enjoyed that almost every night. We sat at the bar and got to know the bartenders (Jeffrey, Alan, and Luis). One night we listened to the dual piano players. They were good, and drew big crowds, but they didn't really play off each other like we've seen at other dueling piano shows. We were planning to listen to them a second time, but there were no seats available so went to B.B. King's instead. The only Mainstage shows we saw were the illusionist Leon Etienne and comedian Lamont Ferguson (two different shows). They were both good (the illusionist was better). My wife "volunteered" at Leon's show. They did a combined show the last night but we didn't go. Unlike some other ships we've been on, you didn't really have to get to the theater too early -- there were plenty of open seats up front even when the shows started. Bar service in the theater was more limited than what we've experienced elsewhere, and non-existent once the show started. The Orange Party was held at B.B. King's one night. Most people did not wear orange. The only differences between that night and other nights at the club were that the cruise director and some other crew members were dancing, the bartenders were wearing orange hats, and they were serving snacks. INTERNET AND WIFI I purchased the Premium Internet package before the cruise, which you can use on multiple devices but only one at a time. The service was pretty slow and unreliable, definitely not worth the money. I also signed up for AT&T's 30-day Cruise Plan, which gave me 50 minutes of voice and unlimited text on the ship's cellular (no data). They have a more expensive plan that provides some data and unlimited voice. One of the reasons I did this is because we spent a few days in Vancouver before the cruise, and I could use the Cruise Plan there (Canada is not included in my home wireless area). The HAL Navigator mobile app was useful. You don't need to buy an internet plan to connect to the ship's WiFi, and you can view the schedule of events, restaurant menus. and make dinner reservations (for specialty restaurants). You can also send messages other people who have the app (I didn't try that). If you do buy an internet plan, you can use the app to connect. I use NordVPN whenever I'm on a public WiFi network, and I limited success getting it to work with the ship's internet. The Navigator app doesn't work correctly when you're connected to a VPN. SHORE EXCURSIONS AND PORTS The only shore excursion I purchased from HAL (before the cruise) was the Tracy Arm Inlet tour. The ship passes through Tracy Arm Inlet on the way to Juneau, so you board the tour boat directly from the ship in the morning, and then board the ship directly from the tour boat that afternoon in Juneau. Overall we enjoyed the tour and are glad we did it, though it was expensive. We were supposed to meet at 8:15 in the theater and leave at 8:30 -- we didn't actually start leaving the ship until 9:15 (we could have used the extra sleep :-). We did two other excursions with local operations in Skagway and Juneau. Skagway and Juneau have become incredibly touristy since our last visit, with many blocks of nothing but jewelry stores and other typical tourist traps. Ketchikan had a bit more character, and the tourism was more integrated and not as in your face as the other ports. Glacier Bay was awesome. We spent quite a bit of time there, and they brought a naturalist on board to narrate. DISEMBARKATION We chose one of the early disembarkation groups (but not self-disembarkation) that was supposed to disembark around 8:30. Our flight from Vancouver was at around 12:30. We heard our group called a few minutes after 8:00, but we weren't quite ready to leave. When we arrived at the disembarkation point on the ship at around 8:20, we were told we were mistaken, and our group hadn't been called yet (other passengers verified that they also heard our group being called). Once they called our group (again), we got off the ship, claimed our bags, and cleared customs pretty quickly. There was no wait for taxi, and the ride to the airport was uneventful. The lines at the airport were short, and we were at our gate an hour or less after we disembarked. There was only one other ship disembarking, the Golden Princess, so that's probably why it went quickly. CONCLUSION We were happy overall with HAL and the cruise, and we definitely try HAL again. We did both get sick (colds or flu) a few days into the cruise, but this didn't appear to be a widespread problem, and we were still able to enjoy our trip.
  11. Life happens and we had to cancel plans for an October P&O Ventura Cruise. Things have stabilized and we were able to book this last minute cruise of 2 weeks on Nieuw Statendam. This is our First Holland America cruise and from what we’ve experienced in the first week it won’t be our last. We have really enjoyed the NS. Last week we visited Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay. This week it will be Half Moon Cay again, then Falmouth Jamaica, Georgetown Grand Cayman and Cozumel Mexico. Boarding last week was smooth (brief hiccup I explain below) I believe we were onboard around 11:30AM. We knew when had Priority Boarding with Club Orange but had to explain to the person allowing guests in the Priority line that we were allowed to be in that line. The sign said Club Orange and our Boarding Passes said Priority, she finally allowed us to check in. Quick checkin and we were escorted to where the Club Orange guests wait for boarding, they had water/coffee and sweet treats available for us. Once onboard our room was ready (loved this), we are in a Balcony Cabin 4025, this cabin has a larger balcony and we love the cabin and location. Room Steward has been excellent. We have Club Orange dining and I’m so glad we made that purchase (for us it was $15 pp/pd). Our servers in Club Orange are fantastic and we love everything about it. We like a table for two and enjoy chatting with everyone around us and for us the intimacy of club orange is perfect. I have noticed that not everything in Club Orange dining is made by the chef in CO, some food comes from the main dining room kitchen. The breakfast is made fresh at the CO kitchen and we have really enjoyed the breakfast offerings. We had lunch at Pinnacle Grill once and loved it, we may go back this week. Not sure about other specialty dining for dinner we’ll see what this week brings. Seating around the Lido pool is limited compared to other ships we’ve been on, and I’ve never seen the rooftop fully open yet, only half of it. It has very comfortable loungers though. We have spent some time at the seaview pool as well but again loungers on the pool level are limited and sometimes hard to come by. All service has been great and our favorite area has to be the music walk, love the Rolling Stone Rock Room, Billboard onboard and BB Kings blues club, we enjoy bouncing around to each venue nighty. I do wish they had more Main Theater production shows. they have only 2 dance shows and 2 guest entertainers (a magician and a comedian). I believe the comedian is back this week not sure about the magician, would be nice to have different options but if not we’ll enjoy some movies on the lido deck in the evening. Turn around Details for Today December 8th, 2019. Yesterday we were giving a letter stating we must meet in the World Stage Theater at 10AM. Once everyone is there we would be escorted off the ship back into the Terminal and through Immigration CBP check. This process went fairly smooth as you can image there are always those people who choose to play by there own rules so we had to wait in the terminal luggage collection area until they could find and clear 6 missing guests. I’ll attached the letter for you to read the full details. We arrived in the theater 10-15 minutes early so the entire process for us was about 1 hour, we were back onboard around 10:45AM. Also if you are interested here is a link to all our photos from last week. Main photo link to all galleries Link to just Nieuw Statendam ship Photos Link to all our Food Photos (more photos to come this week) Link to our Balcony cabin 4025 Photos Behind the Scenes Culinary Tour (for CO guests) If anyone is interested I will also attached the When and Where’s from last week and CO Menu’s Note: I'm still on vacation so I may not be available to answer all questions, but I may check in from time to time. Will give a final update Next week after the cruise. In Transit Nieuw Statendam Dec 8, 2019.pdf day 1 when and where.pdf day 2 when and where.pdf day 3 when and where.pdf day 4 when and where.pdf day 5 when and where.pdf day 6 when and where.pdf day 7 when and where.pdf day 8 when and where.pdf Day 1 Dinner Menu.pdf Day 2 Dinner Menu.pdf Day 3 Dinner Menu.pdf Day 4 Dinner Menu.pdf Day 5 Dinner Menu.pdf Day 6 Dinner Menu.pdf Day 7 Dinner Menu.pdf Club Orange Breakfast Menu.pdf
  12. This is the last full week of ships in Juneau although there will be no HAL ship on Wednesday. Eurodam will be at the AS dock from 1300-2300 and Nieuw Amsterdam at the CT dock from 1300-2200. Also in port is Ruby Princess at the FKL dock from 1100-2215. There is a 100% chance of rain with a high of 55F/13C and a low of 43F/6C. Sunrise is at 6:29 am and sunset at 7:15 pm. The PTZtv webcam can be found at https://www.juneauharborwebcam.com/. Next up: Oosterdam and Noordam on Tuesday.
  13. Well, we've been home just over a week and I finally get my trip review written and submitted so I am posting here as well. Thank you to everyone who contributes to this board as I spent hours reading through threads in preparation for our trip. Hopefully this review helps someone else. We decided about 18 months ago to take a trip for our 15th anniversary and we went with close friends who were married the same year. We are 2 couples ranging in age from mid-40's to early 50's, We selected Holland America because of their history cruising in Alaska.We also liked the idea of a smaller, quieter ship. While we are not seniors we tend to go to bed early and don't need the night life that some other ships provide.We booked 18 months in advance and selected an aft balcony and our friends chose a port-side signature suite. Just before final payment the prices dropped considerably so we contacted the travel agent. Because of the promo we booked under they wouldn't credit us with the difference but they offered to upgrade us to Neptune Suites which we happily accepted. We ended up on Deck 6 port side and our friends were on Deck 7 starboard.Embarkation - I had heard that embarkation can sometimes be long waits at Port of Vancouver. We arrived around 10:45 and we were on the ship by 11:20 with no wait at any point of the process. Very smooth.Cabin - we were in 6064 and our friends had 7051 and we were all happy with the accommodations. The room stewards were so friendly and attentive. Our friends were directly across from the Neptune Lounge and we were one floor below which I honestly didn't mind.Neptune Lounge - the concierges Carina and Kristine were both lovely, welcoming and helpful. We didn't really use their services much except to cancel a pre-paid dinner and make one dining reservation but they were always happy to answer questions. Having access to tea/coffee and snacks was a nice bonus. I would often wander up there early in the morning to grab a tea and a croissant to bring back to the room.Lido - We went to the Lido for only 3 meals the entire cruise, mainly because it was like feeding time at the zoo! I found it chaotic, crowded and only mediocre food. Don't get me wrong, no one was going to starve and the food wasn't bad, just not good enough to make up for the atmosphere.Main Dining Room - Despite booking super early we had open dining. While we liked the flexibility of the Open dining I think it also affected the service in the dining room. We only ate dinner there 3 times and while the experience got better each time it was still not up to the level of past cruise dining experiences. I found the main dining room crowded, noisy and rushed. I felt like our waiters made no effort to connect with us, nor did their service elevate the meal in any way.Tamarind - FANTASTIC!!! We loved the food and service here so we ended up going twice. The servers were so welcoming and they memorized your names. When you saw them later in the cruise in a different location they remembered your names. So personal and lovely. Food was delicious. They even brought me a special cake for my birthday.Pinnacle - As Neptune suite guests we had access to the Pinnacle for breakfast and I have to say that was the best suite perk that we had. Breakfast choices provided a lot of variety and it was delicious. Staff in the Pinnacle were so welcoming and always remembered your requests from the day before. We also had one lunch and one dinner in the Pinnacle and they were both delicious.Excursions - We booked two different excursions through Holland America and we were happy with both. In Skagway we did the White Pass Rail to the Yukon which was a full day tour, including lunch. In Ketchikan we did the Wilderness Explorer Cruise and all-you-can-eat crab feast. Both excursions were well done. In Juneau we opted to rent a car and explore on our own.Entertainment - We visited Billboard one night. The female piano player had a beautiful voice but the man was not great. Mid-week we discovered BB Kings and we wish we had made the effort to check it out sooner because it was great. They do 3 sets every night and the place was packed! We didn't do any of the EXC talks in the main theatre as that's not our thing. We did watch the comedian Jim Short and the illusionist Leon Etienne. Both were great. They also did a variety show on the last night with both of them. We had planned to see the dancers one night but they were cancelled for their safety due to high waves and rocking ship.Disembarkation - We were in the first disembarkation group which was announced at about 7:45 am but since we didn't have a flight to catch until later in the day we had a leisurely breakfast before getting off the ship at about 8:30. From the time we scanned off the ship to when we were outside the terminal was less than 12 minutes. Super fast and efficient.Overall Impression - We found that the things people paid to upgrade (Neptune Suite, specialty dining, etc) were fantastic and provided the experience and level of service we expected of the cruise as a whole. Those things which were included (Lido, Main Dining Room, etc) were not up to par with what we were expecting. We didn't have a bad experience but our experience in the upgraded areas certainly made the cruise that much better. It's just unfortunate that we had to pay for the level of service that has been included on past cruises with other companies.
  14. *** NOTE*** I am posting this on Friday night and by Sunday some of the times and even piers may change. It is another full house in Port Everglades with eight cruise ships. Nieuw Statendam will be at pier 26 (starboard to) from 0530-1700. She will be heading out on a 7-day Tropical Caribbean cruise. Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (06 Jan 0800-1700); Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos (08 Jan 0800-1700); Amber Cove, Dominican Republic (09 Jan 0800-1700); Key West, Florida (11 Jan 0800-1700); Fort Lauderdale, Florida (12 Jan a0700) Volendam will be at pier 4 (unusual) from 0430-1600. Volendam is taking over for Prinsendam for the 77-day Grand South America and Antarctica cruise. I would be surprised if she leaves at 1600 (the 2019 one did not leave until after 1900). Sorry for the bad picture, it was the only one I could find. George Town, Grand Cayman (07 Jan 0800-1700); Panama Canal (Cruising Canal) (10 Jan 0500-0500); Panama City, Panama (10 Jan 2000(+1)1800); Manta, Ecuador (13 Jan 0500-2000); Salaverry (Trujillo), Peru (15 Jan 0300-1800); Callao (Lima), Peru (16 Jan 1100(+1)1800); Pisco, Peru (18 Jan 0800-1700); Coquimbo (La Serena), Chile (21 Jan 0800-1700); San Antonio, Chile (22 Jan 0800-1700); Isla Robinson Crusoe, Chile (24 Jan 0800-1700); Puerto Montt, Chile (26 Jan 0800-1700); Castro, Chiloe Island (27 Jan 0800-1700); Puerto Chacabuco, Chile (28 Jan 0800-1700); Punta Arenas, Chile (31 Jan 0700-1900); Cape Horn, Chile (01 Feb); Ushuaia, Argentina (02 Feb 0600-2000); Port Stanley, Falkland Islands (09 Feb 0800-1700); Puerto Madryn, Argentina (11 Feb 0800-1700); Punta Del Este, Uruguay (13 Feb 1000-1800); Montevideo, Uruguay (14 Feb 0800-1800); Buenos Aires, Argentina (15 Feb 0800(+1)1700); Santos (Sao Paulo), Brazil (19 Feb 0800-2300); Ilhabela, Brazil (20 Feb 0800-1700); Buzios, Brazil (21 Feb 0800-1700); Rio De Janeiro, Brazil (22 Feb 0700(+1)2300); Ilheus, Brazil (25 Feb 1100-1900); Salvador De Bahia, Brazil (26 Feb 0800-1700); Recife, Brazil (28 Feb 0800-1700); Fortaleza, Brazil (01 Mar 0700-1400); Belem, Brazil (03 Mar 0800-1800); Santarem, Brazil (06 Mar 0800-1800); Boca da Valeria, Brazil (07 Mar 0800-1400); Manaus, Brazil (08 Mar 1100(+1)1700); Parintins, Brazil (10 Mar 0800-1400); Santarem, Brazil (11 Mar 0800-1400); Iles Du Salut, French Guiana (14 Mar 0800-1700); Bridgetown, Barbados (16 Mar 0800-1800); St Vincent, St Vincent and the Grenadines (17 Mar 0800-1700); Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (19 Mar 0800-1700); Fort Lauderdale, Florida (22 Mar a0700) Also in port are Allure OTS at pier 18 from 0515-1630, Celebrity Edge at pier 25 from 0600-1530, Costa Luminosa at pier 19 from 0545-2300, Majesty OTS at pier 21 from 0615-1600, Pacific Princess (who is leaving on her 111-day World Voyage) at pier 29 from 0415-1600 (likely later than this), and Regal Princess at pier 2 from 0500-1600. The PTZtv webcams can be found at https://www.ftlauderdalewebcam.com/ and https://www.portevergladeswebcam.com/. For the addicts : Eurodam will be in Aruba on Tuesday, 7 January. https://www.portarubawebcam.com/ Next up: Veendam on Wednesday, 8 January.
  15. So as I began contemplating a last minute Alaskan cruise this year, the limited selection (especially for cabins) at the last minute had me looking at cruises for next Summer. I was planning to take the Nieuw Amsterdam (as we did last year), BUT it is being replaced by the Koningsdam. Last year we had a Signature Suite on the Nieuw Amsterdam and, of course, I started by looking at those. As some other threads here on CC have pointed out there are VERY few Signature Suites on the Koningsdam, which was surprising to me. However, as I began to compare the online videos of the various Koningsdam suites I was surprised at the new layout for the Signature Suites. Indeed, I'm not a fan. More investigation shows that the even pricier Neptune suites on the Kdam are much closer equivalent to the Signature Suites in everything from layout to size to deck positioning and number of suites. Even then, you lose the extra little "make-up" desk on the Kdam (although Kdam's Neptune cabin is wider). One of the biggest disappointments of the Kdam's Signature suites, however, involves the size of the balcony - they are much more shallow than the equivalent NA/Eurodam SS balconies. The Neptune balconies on the Kdam are essentially the same depth as the SS on NA/Euro. At the end of the day, to get the same Nieuw Amsterdam "Signature Suite" experience on the Kdam, I feel like I would really have to "pay up" for the Neptune suite...bummer. Given how few signature suites there are, I'm not sure why HAL bothered with them on the Kdam. Definitely a bummer and a clear "revenue generation" move by HAL (not surprising of course - Corporate America FTW!). Has anyone else noticed this?
  16. This will be our first time ever in Europe – 14 days Baltic Cruise on the Nieuw Statendam. My DH and I will be arriving 4 days before the cruise, staying at the Element Amsterdam, and using public transit. We are a couple of old fogies who are still mobile and travel light with a couple of carry-on. Our plan is to get the 3-day (€28) unlimited transit pass for getting us to the hotel and touring around Amsterdam. We plan to take the NS Intercity train and transfer to Bus 62 to get to the hotel. For the 4th day, we plan to get the 1-hour pass (€3.20) to get to the cruise terminal. Does anyone see any problems with our transit plan or have better ideas? If I posted this in the wrong forum please accept my apologies. All this planning and researching is making my head spin!
  17. We leave on Jan 12 on the Nieuw Statendam. We had a VE Verandah guarantee and were given a VQ Spa Verandah 10021. This appears to be an upgrade although I'm not sure these cabins are that much better. We normally prefer cabins toward the back of the ship. Curious for those that have had one of these cabins. Did you like it? What did you like about it? Was it really windy on the verandah while at sea? Is the spa showerhead any better than the regular ones? We have been on the Koningsdam and loved the shower in a regular Verandah cabin. Is there a tub or an enclosed glass shower? Thanks everyone!
  18. Eurodam will be at the AS dock from 1300-2300 and Nieuw Amsterdam at the CT dock from 1300-2200. Also in port are Ruby Princess at the FKL dock from 1100-2215 and Solstice at the AJ dock from 1330-2200. The nice weather continues for a couple more days. Monday should be mostly sunny with a high of 70F/21C and a low of 47F/8C. Sunrise is at 6:14 am and sunset at 7:35 pm. The PTZtv webcam can be found at https://www.juneauharborwebcam.com/. Next up: Oosterdam on Tuesday.
  19. Sunday brings our last HAL sail-away of 2019. Nieuw Statendam will be at pier 26 (starboard to) from 0530-1700. She is doing a 7-day Eastern Caribbean Holiday cruise. Amber Cove, Dominican Republic (31 Dec 1000-1800); San Juan, Puerto Rico (01 Jan 1100-2300); St Thomas, US Virgin Islands (02 Jan 0800-1700); Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (04 Jan 0800-1500); Fort Lauderdale, Florida (05 Jan a0700) It is another busy day in port with Adventure OTS at pier 29 from 0430-1730, Allure OTS at pier 18 from 0515-1630, Carnival Magic at pier 4 from 0400-1600, Celebrity Edge at pier 25 from 0600-1530, Costa Luminosa at pier 19 from 0445-2300, and Regal Princess at pier 2 from 0500-1600. The PTZtv webcams can be found at https://www.portevergladeswebcam.com/ and https://www.ftlauderdalewebcam.com/. Also, Veendam will be in Nassau from 0800-1400.http:// https://www.portnassauwebcam.com/ For the Addicts: Volendam will be in Aruba from 0800-2000 on Tuesday, 31 December. https://www.portarubawebcam.com/ Next up: Koningsdam on Thursday, 2 January.
  20. Currently waitlisted for Early Dining (requested a table for 2) and I am not holding out much hope for getting early dining as booked this cruise very close to sailing date. Last time we sailed on the NA we had Anytime Dining and wanted a table for 2 and pretty much every night there was quite a long wait for seating. I guess we were “newbies” on HAL and didn’t know we should come at 5:50 😱 for dinner. So.... this time around I am trying to minimize the wait for dinner and was **considering** springing the $$ for Club Orange so that we could have dinner without a wait. Yes, I do understand that the NA does not have a dedicated restaurant like her larger sister ships and on the NA you just get a different menu for CO. But, I thought (????) if you purchased the CO deal, you would have preferred seating in the main dining room no matter what time you showed up such as between 6 and 7. When I spoke with my PCC he said that CO people have access to a concierge on board who would make these reservations for you. But I am not sure that is really the correct information that I have received. So, if there is anyone here on this board who has had experience on the NA with Club Orange, it would be great to hear from them regarding preferential or quick seating at the main dining room. Or their experience in general with Club Orange on the Niew Amsterdam. Of course, the other alternative for us is to just do specialty dining instead of CO. Anyway, just curious if there is someone who has experienced Club Orange on the Niew Amsterdam. Thanks in advance for any comments!
  21. Greetings! We just got home from our Thanksgiving week voyage on the Nieuw Statendam, and wanted to do a little write up on our experiences. This was our first HAL cruise, and our second cruise ever (first was earlier this spring on the Celebrity Equinox), so we are still relatively new to cruising as a whole. Before I start, a quick preface to my upcoming wall of text. We tried very hard to not directly compare this experience with our first experience on Equinox, because different ships, different lines, different expectations. That said, sometimes it proved difficult to not say, "well, this thing was much better on this ship". I just want to make it clear that despite any negative aspect I may talk about, we still had an incredible experience and we would still sail on HAL again. As someone else has said, one has to try VERY hard to not have a good time on a cruise. The Stateroom: We had an inside cabin near the aft elevator banks on deck 6. Aft elevators are very convenient for access to the Dining room, the Lido buffet, and the aft pool area, as well as the Sun deck for great views. We felt very little in the way of vibration or noise, and although we encountered some choppy waters occasionally, not really much movement. What little there was just made for a good night's sleep. Our room stewards were almost always visible and their work was excellent. I had only one complaint about our room location, but I'll detail that in this next section. The Ship: Nieuw Statendam was utterly gorgeous with very classic lines. The ship is filled with museum quality artwork almost everywhere. Almost all of the artwork on-board is themed to tie into music and performance. I loved the amount of open deck space, as we frequently like walk around the ship, especially in the evening. For the most part I think they layout of the public rooms were well designed and flowed naturally. My one single gripe about the design, tied into our room location, was the frequent necessity to have to travel either through cabin corridors or to traverse multiple elevator banks/stairwells to access other public spaces or open decks. To go from our room to the the crow's nest or sky deck we either had to go down to deck 2 or 3, then walk all the way forward, then take another elevator up, OR go up to deck 11, walk past the sports court area, then enter more cabin corridors to access the forward elevator bank. I didn't like having to enter cabin corridors from public areas just to access public areas. Also, while beautiful and well designed, the Lido pool area was almost always oppressively hot and humid with little breeze despite a partially open roof. Some of the public rooms also seemed to struggle with adequate cooling. The Entertainment: This was the absolute highlight for us, and was completely unexpected. We knew going in about the music walk, and was anticipating enjoying the offering, but we were not prepared for how it turned into a must-attend affair each evening. On any given evening, we went from enjoying a classical string quintet playing various selections, then traipsing over the the rock room to enjoy some really good classic rock tunes, then moving over to Billboard for the dual pianos (and the two artists here, Colin and Rachel, were AMAZING), and then finishing up with some blues and jazz at BB Kings. At one point I think I muttered that this was like being at a floating music festival. Elsewhere, in the theatre, we got a high-tech experience with several offerings that delighted us. The use of the 270 degrees of screen was well utilized with the BBC oceans presentation, as well as the dance troupe that used the screens and projectors as an interactive aspect. We also attended a few of the new EXC presentations and these also used the screens and projectors and were both informative and entertaining. Before I go on, I want to inject a quick note here. I've heard and read some complaints about the lack of production shows on HAL. I get it, big shows are what some people prefer. But I think this is good for both HAL and the cruise industry in general. HAL is doing something different and innovative by offering something others don't. And if/when we cruise with HAL again, this is going to be a huge part of why. The Food: Our single biggest disappointment. Not because of quality; everything was cooked and presented perfectly. It was the taste. Almost everything in the Dining room and Lido was bland. We are not people who frequently add salt to food, but we found ourselves adding salt and pepper to our dishes, more often than not. Deserts tended to be boring and slightly tasteless, and simple-to-make foods like eggs tended to be watery and rubbery. The exceptions were specialty dining; we ate at Tamarind, Nami Sushi, and Canaletto (couldn't get Pinnacle sadly) and all were on par for what we expected the food to taste like. Also the Deli and Dive-in were excellent. Service: For the most part, service met or exceeded our expectation, with a handful of exceptions. Service was a mess in the dining room (and lido) for the first 3 days, and it was bad enough that a table next to us actually got up and left with frustration. We had breakfast on day 2 in the dining room, and people were waiting upwards of 20 minutes for their drink orders, or in one case, a person getting their food served, but not their dining partner. Then, magically, it was if a switch was flipped on Wednesday and everything was suddenly working, at least in the Dining Room (Lido was still hit or miss with drink service). We actually ended up speaking with a senior staff member about this on the last day of the cruise, and before we could tell them we noted the service level seemed to have reversed itself midway, they asked, "Did it seem to improve by day 3 or 4?". Turns out there was 3 major events that hit them simultaneously: the transition from European to American cruising (they had just completed their transatlantic crossing), Thanksgiving week, and most notably, quite a few new contracts had just started this week. It was just an unfortunate storm of timing, and as I noted above, almost everything was moving at or above expectations by mid-week (except Lido - man, at times that was an exercise in frustration). Ports: We aren't beach people, we're more into exploration and adventure into local culture and history. We didn't book any excursions for this as we were just looking for some relaxation and doing things on our own. That said, Half Moon Cay was a pleasant surprise. Clean, gorgeous, and well maintained, we had much more fun than I thought we would. The cookout was also very good. The other ports were Grand Turk, Amber Cove, and Key West. Grand Turk was...not a lot. There was some history to delve into, but the island is so depressed and poorly maintained. I understand there are some wonderful beach-y and water-y type things to do, but...yeah. Amber Cove was fantastic, and the area made for some fantastic panoramic pictures. Key West is Key West. Summary: We had high, but guarded, expectations. We came off an almost magical first experience with Celebrity Equinox, and we didn't want to try to project similar expectations onto this cruise. First cruise, that new car smell, etc, we understood nothing will probably beat that first impression and tried to not let us influence this experience. And I think we succeeded, for the most part. We ended up being pleasantly surprised by a few things, thoroughly enjoyed the ship, the staff, and the entertainment. Service was a disappointment at first, but that improved, and now having the knowledge of the why behind the first few days, we're at peace with that. I can only hope the food issues (blandness) was just an isolated incident and not indicative of food typically served on HAL. We look forward to sailing on Nieuw Statendam and with HAL again.
  22. Nieuw Statendam will be at pier 26 (port to) from 0530-1700. She is doing a 7-day Western Caribbean cruise. Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (09 Dec 0800-1600); Falmouth, Jamaica (11 Dec 0800-1700); George Town, Grand Cayman (12 Dec 0800-1600); Cozumel, Mexico (13 Dec 1100-2300); Fort Lauderdale, Florida (15 Dec a0700 Also in port are Allure OTS at pier 18 from 0515-1630, Celebrity Edge at pier 25 from 0600-1530, and Regal Princess at pier 2 from 0500-1600. The PTZtv webcams can be found at https://www.portevergladeswebcam.com/ and https://www.ftlauderdalewebcam.com/. Also, Nieuw Amsterdam will be in Key West frim 0800-1730. https://www.keywestharborwebcam.com/ Next up: Zuiderdam on Tuesday, 10 December.
  23. Would love some information about how you found Club HAL on the Nieuw Statendam. Our grandkids loved it on the New Amsterdam, but it looks like it's a lot smaller on the NS. Kids will be 8, 14, 16 at the time of sailing. I know the older ones can do what they want, but the younger one will need some HAL activity perhaps.
  24. I understand that this is a "pop up" experience. But, where does it pop up? For those who have done this (and I know this is very subjective), is it work the $49 charge?
  25. Cruise December 2019 (Holiday/Christmas). Family of 6 - adults. This will be our 5th cruise w/ HAL, our first Holiday. To save some money we are considering flying "red eye" into FLL. We would land at 6:00 a.m. How early can we board ship? Should we go ahead and get hotel to get few hours sleep? Thanks in advance for guidance.
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