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ronbe65

Nieuw Amsterdam: A Luxury Resort Ship of Love and Romance, or How to Cruise on "HAL"

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Is "HAL" demographics right for me?

It has been asked 1000 times. The clear meaning is: "I've heard that “HAL” clients are very old and tend to travel with their parents".

 

Well, it's a really important question if you are going to look for a fiancée on a cruise ship.

 

Is there anything else that may draw your attention?

Let’s say, such small things like a beautiful ship, good food, amazing itinerary?

 

How old is the Caribbean Sea?

Not too old for you?

Maybe you need to look for a newer, more ”technologically advanced” sea?

 

Unfortunately the sea is very old.

It’s even older than the sandy beaches on paradise islands.

And the Caribbean sun?

The sun is terribly old.

 

Now let’s be seriuos and discard that garbage about “HAL” clients.

 

Have you been (like us) tired of the hustle and bustle of your work, lectures, exams, driving, phone calls, company’s reports?

Yes?

Then be my guest. I will show you how to ‘dam it!

 

So....

 

Before I share with you my short review of the wonderful 7-nt cruise of love and romance on the #1 luxury cruise ship at sea, let's bear in mind something important about "HAL".

 

First of all, never, never, say "HAL", say what ship.

Of course, if you want to confuse someone, or be confused – say “HAL” and ask about “HAL” on cruise forums.

Lack of information feeds stereotypes.

The sleep of reason produces monsters.

 

One of a few most reputable brands in maritime history (from 1873), Holland America Line is now a cruise line that actually operates four different groups of ships - more different than some cruise lines differ from each other!

What is different: size, amenities & comfort, atmosphere, dining options, itineraries, clientele, cruise length, prices, etc.

The whole experience is different.

Please note that saying"I have cruised on HAL", "I decided to try HAL", “HAL vs whatever cruise line” means nothing really unless you say what ship.

 

Let’s see my photos...

 

1. Holland America's Top League - Luxury resort cruise ships.

Most advanced cruise ships for self-sufficient cruisers of all ages.

MS Nieiuw Amsterdam (2010)

MS Eurodam (2008)

 

Both ships have tonnage about 87,000 GT and carry about 2,100 passengers.

 

Nieuw Amsterdam

RevNAdam.jpg

 

Eurodam

RevEdam.jpg

 

 

2. HAL workhorses AKA Vista-class ships (four close sister ships: mid-size, mid-age)

 

Who is it for: mature clientele get quality product for reasonablemoney.

 

Zuiderdam 2002

Oosterdam 2003

Westerdam 2004

Noordam 2006

 

All four ships are near 83,000 GT and carry about 1,900 passengers

 

Zuiderdam

Rev%2BZuiderdam.jpg

 

Oosterdam

Rev%2BOosterdam.jpg

 

 

Westerdam

Rev%2BWesterdam.jpg

 

Noordam

Rev%2BNoordam.jpg

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The four HAL workhorses have suffered some “updates” recently.

As you hear the word “updates”, the first thought is “how serious thedamage is”.

The ships have lost some public space on the open decks in favor ofadded cabins and retrofitting of so-called “Retreat cabanas”.

We have to dicument the loss, but fortunately it is not too dramatic.

Thisis what was added:

 

Rev%2BOosterdam%2B4.jpg

 

 

Rev%2BOosterdam%2B2.jpg

 

 

Westerdam is seen here before the new block was added:

 

Rev%2BWesterdam.jpg

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Oosterdam is seen in Palermo. The new block of cabins is being installed:

Rev%2BOosterdam%2B1.jpg

Rev%2BOosterdam%2B3.jpg

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Do you seriously think that the Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam are

"Top League - Luxury resort cruise ships"

While I enjoyed our time on the Nieuw Amsterdam and have an upcoming cruise on the Eurodam, they really can't be compared to luxury cruise lines.

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Group #2 continued.

 

My most recent picture of the Westerdam. The new block of cabins is in place.

 

109.jpg

 

 

3. “Pinnacle-class” ships

A mass-market addition to the HAL fleet.

They introduced a new meaningfor the word “pinnacle”: newer does not mean better.

Who is it for: cruise lovers of all ages. for whom less means more.

 

Koningsdam (2016)

Nieuw Statendam (2018)

Not named (2021)

 

These ships are near 100,000 GT, and their capacity is approaching 2,700passengers.

 

Rev%2BKoningsdam.jpg

4. Older ships built between 1988 – 2000

 

R-class (Rotterdam, Volendam, Zaandam, Amsterdam )

S-class (Maasdam, Veendam)

“Elegant Explorer” - Prinsendam

 

The “R” and “S” ships vary from 55,000 GT to 63,000 GT in size, andcarry about 1,300 – 1,400 passengers.

The smallest Prinsendam is about 39,000 GT, and its capacity is near 850passengers.

 

The group #4 is where the HAL "demographics legend" comes from.

Retirement cruising. Why not? We all will retire atsome time.

These ships typically do longer, more expensive cruises.

The ships are ageing and lacking some features of the newer ships, butstill retain a lot of charm, and can be proud of the highest number ofreturning customers.

Rotterdam in the port of Rome (Civitavecchia)

Rev%2BAmsterdam.jpg

 

Aft "swimming pool" is a few inches deep (the aft part of the ship was redesigned):

Rev%2BAmsterdam%2B1.jpg

 

Veendam

Rev%2BVeendam.jpg

Edited by ronbe65

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Can you be objective when your comments are subjective? Or is this a promotional thread? (In reference to the link in your signature)

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Interesting comparisons among the ships. And while I agree in most of your assessment, I disagree that HAL (sorry, it’s just shorter to type) is creating some classes to attract “all ages”. None of the ships have water slides, skating rinks, zip lines, or any of the high energy attractions that appeal to the children and twenty-somethings. But I do agree they are trying to appeal to the “younger, but still mature” professionals looking for a classy, relaxing getaway, without all the chaos you’ll find on RCI, NCL, or Carnival. And I do agree that they are “top league - luxury resort ships”, but that is certainly in the eyes of the beholder. For me, anytime someone else prepares my meals, makes my bed, cleans my bathroom (well, hopefully everyone gets it), all with a smile and warm greeting......that’s luxury to me!

 

 

24 cruises: 10 HAL (3-Star Mariner, soon to be 4-Star), 5 Princess (Platinum), 1 Celebrity, 2 Royal Caribbean, 2 Carnival, 4 Oceanic

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My fellow cruisers,

Thank you for comments!

 

A few more words about the group #4.

 

Maasdam

Rev%2BMaasdam%2B1.jpg

 

Maasdam in Halifax

Rev%2BMaasdam%2B3.jpg

 

Maasdam at St. Martin

Rev%2BMaasdam.jpg

 

The "Elegant Explorer" Prinsendam is seen passing the English Channel.

In the background: Mein Schiff 4 is heading to Southampton.

 

Rev%2BPrinsendam.jpg

 

This was my brief overview of the HAL fleet.

This is an outstanding cruise line, but remember: never say "HAL", say what ship.

 

Before we move to the next chapter, I would like to share a photo that I love.

Our hero Nieuw Amsterdam is saying good bye to Westerdam that is about to leave Fort Lauderdale for Alaska cruises:

108.jpg

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Do not

 

Do not book a cruise on Holland America (Celebrity, Princess, Cunard,TUI, P&O, etc., etc. ….) ships if you cannot cruise without anything from this:

zz.jpg

 

zz4.jpg

 

zz6.jpg

 

zz1.jpg

 

zz7.jpg

 

zz3.jpg

 

Have you checked the photos?

This is not your essential blood of cruising?

Not.

Are you ready to take at least one cruise on a ship that offers nothing of the above?

Yes.

Congratulations!

You are most welcome to read my brief review that is about to set sail…

For the record: I cruise on all cruise ships and I love the ice skating shows on RCI, the water slides onNCL when and where available.

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The Hero Is Born

 

MS Nieuw Amsterdam

83.jpg

This ship is one of a few most significant landmarks in the world of cruising.

Surprised?

Some comments are necessary to understand my vision of this ship today.

 

2010

 

The year of its construction, the glorious 2010, was the highest peak that the cruise industry ever reached.

Highest in number of shipsavailable?

No.

Highest in total capacity?

No.

That was a point where the cruise industry turned from “larger & better” to “larger & cheaper”. A change of a direction from uphill to downhill.

 

Speaking of the major brands,only three new designs since 2010 appeared to be an improvement of the previous ones: NCL Getaway, Costa Favolosa, and AIDA Prima (of which Costa Favolosa is a derivative of the Concordia-class).

RMS Queen Mary 2 ocean liner was already in service.

Royal Caribbean launched the Allure of the Seas - a slightly improved sister ship of their unique giant Oasis of the Seas.

What must be noted: all these ships were in their original design in 2010 (some unpleasant modifications have been done since then).

The opulent Queen Elizabeth was launched in 2010.

 

Nieuw Amsterdam before 2017 refurbishment (see the old logo):

177.jpg

MS Nieuw Amsterdam joined her sister ship MS Eurodam (built in 2008).

These two cruise ships weren’t the most expensive ships ever.

However there was something special about them.

The stars, or the Gods that govern shipbuilding were in their good mood when these ships were designed.

Neither fastest, nor largest, they have accommodated an exemplary list of luxury features within the size that allowed the economically reasonable number of passengers (2,100) to enjoy high quality cruising in its fullness on the most spacious and comfortable resort ship.

In the other words, intentionally, or just as a matter of luck, these ships' designers created a pair of the best resort cruise ships ever built.

Different ships were built; different people were managing cruise industry in 2010….

 

2.jpg

Coming next: Redefining Luxury

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What ship is next to Maasdam?

 

 

 

Norwegian Epic

 

 

Sent from my iPhone while I probably should be working.

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Redefining Luxury

 

The NA is a fairly large ship, but not crowded as opposed to some mega ships.

Not a luxury ship “officially”, NA is packed with luxury features that can put so-called “luxury ships” to shame (from Silversea to Regent).

Silver Cloud in London

201.jpg

Really?

What is luxury at sea?

To know that we need to open a glossy cruise brochure at the page called “Luxury cruises”.

It will tell us that, for a few thousand dollars, you can get an “unparalleled personalized service and enjoy first class dining at sea in the most sophisticated environment” (of course marbled bathroom included).

 

205.jpg

 

 

The highest numbers of space ratio and crew/passenger ratio will complete the picture.

 

Now please recycle this brochure properly.

Passenger space ratio (to make it simple) is ship’s internal volume divided by the number of passengers.

It does not include the open space (sun decks, pools, promenades).

Unless you limit your cruising experience to what a luxury nursing home resident may dream about (eating, sleeping, talking, having a bedside nurse with a tray of canapés 24/7, and a marbled bathroom), you’ll need much more on a cruise ship to call it luxury.

 

People live under the heavy pressure of various stereotypes.

Say “resort cruise ship”, and a harping echo will answer: “we don’t need climbing walls”.

Why climbing walls?

Who is talking about climbing walls?

Why does it need to be climbing walls if it’s not a “luxury” ship?

Lack of experience feeds stereotypes.

 

Lack of cruising experience & blind cruise line loyalty feeds cruising stereotypes.

 

“Luxury ships” is a label that is commonly associated with club style cruise ships.

Club style ships are relatively small (up to 50,000-60,000 GT).

They indeed offer personalized service and great food.

The prices are kept so high to make sure that only those who can afford (and like this type of cruises) can be seen on board.

No “strangers”.

No nurses, no school teachers.

They may hurt delicate feelings and habits of the “club members only”.

Does the astronomical price cover “exceptional luxury”?

No.

It covers a high level “hotel part” of the ship (or “luxury B&B at sea” if you wish), a higher operational cost (per passenger) of a smaller ship, and the huge “membership fee”.

 

MV Europa: 10 days Mediterranean cruise starts from $11,000 for a cabin for two.

203.jpg

 

Due to the limited size (but not for this reason only) club style ships are lacking some comfort amenities that are available on larger resort cruise ships.

As explained above, the price tag does not necessarily mean “luxury”.

“Luxury” is rather confusing, heavily overused, and distracting marketing word.

Therefore I prefer a star rating system.

 

To reach the top mark, a cruise ship needs to excel in all "disciplines":

 

Accommodation & Service - 20% out of 100%

Dining - 20%

Open decks - 20%

Interiors - 15%

Spa & Fitness - 15%

Entertainment - 10%

 

Taking the Silver Cloud as an example (briefly, just to explain the idea):

Let's say, excellent cabins get this ship all possible 20%.

Assuming top notch dining, all 20% are well deserved.

Open decks. This a small ship with limited deck space, no promenade.

5% for open decks.

Interiors - good but far below the best seen at sea (8%).

Spa & Fitness: 5%

Entertainment: 1%

 

Total: 59 out of 100.

 

How does it convert to the stars?

100>>80 = 5*

79>>60 = 4*

59>>40 = 3*

39>>20 = 2*

 

So Silver Cloud falls within 3* space. Let's say, this is a 3*+ ship.

 

OMG! What are you saying!

How can you give this luxury ship 3*+ ???

Easily.

You see it.

It's not me.

This is her creators who decided what ship it was going to be.

There is nothig wrong.

But the ship was designed to be like this. It's not a resort ship, not an enetrtainment ship!

Exactly.

And that's why this ship is physically not able to get 5* (unless you see it in a glossy brochure for dummies).

3*+ is not bad. It's what it is.

This ship is super expensive.

Clients are willing to pay the "club membership fee" for what they love about club style ships: top notch food and service, luxury accommodations.. (don't forget that we are rating the ship itself, not the parking by the London Bridge!)

This nice ship is lacking too much to qualify for 5*.

But there are other ships that do qualify...

 

Nieuw Amsterdam in Venice:

200.jpg

Coming next: Holland America "ship-within-a-ship" "concept"

Edited by ronbe65

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Is it just me? N/A a luxury resort? Ummm, no. Nice ship, yes. I do appreciate the time it must take to put something like this together.

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Is it just me? N/A a luxury resort? Ummm, no. Nice ship, yes.

No, it's not just you. It's a nice enough ship, but not even HAL's best, let alone luxury. "Comfortable" is closer to reality.

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No, it's not just you. It's a nice enough ship, but not even HAL's best, let alone luxury. "Comfortable" is closer to reality.
To be quite honest, Ruth, I don't understand the purpose of the entire thread.

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To be quite honest, Ruth, I don't understand the purpose of the entire thread.

I know what you mean, although I have a theory or three I better not attempt to explain.

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I am looking at the photos and not reading the text after the first few posts.

 

Can someone let me know when the "review" of the cruise starts?

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I’m totally confused by this whole thread, I just don’t get it. Lots of rambling.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

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Can someone let me know when the "review" of the cruise starts?

I didn't realize this was supposed to be a review of a cruise? :confused:

Are you sure that's what it is? With pictures of so many ships???

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The OP considers himself the absolute authority on what is needed on a cruise ship to meet his arbitrary classification standards.

 

To that end, there are rants about "club membership" (which have also been stated on other forums), ridiculous statements about short port times and the ability to go to a beach, or my favorite from another review, the complete castigation of a cheese board on a luxury line because - GASP!!!! - there were no grapes (no other fruit need apply when eating cheese). He is also an expert on spa design.

 

The end purpose to these rambling is to tout his blog, vlog and website.

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My signature is my personal cruise blog, personal cruise experience. It's fully compliant with the rules.

 

There is no need to follow this thead if you don't like it.

 

I should have started a thread "Dress shorts in MDR" to receive a less aggressive response.

Edited by ronbe65

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