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Fouremco

Review - Nieuw Amsterdam

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A short review of our 7-day Eastern Caribbean Cruise aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam.

 

Embarkation:

 

We normally aim for an 11:00AM arrival at the port, but for a variety of reasons didn’t get there until 1:00PM. Coincidentally, this was the assigned time on our Cruise Docs, and based on the line spilling out of the terminal and snaking along the sidewalk, I’m convinced that a great Manu others were given this time slot. Nevertheless, things moved quickly and from drop off at the terminal till dropping off our bags in the cabin was under 45 minutes.

 

The only mildly negative comment I have to offer on the entire embarkation process is that the setting on the security walk through metal detector must have been set to its most sensitive level. I’d twice passed through airport security with the same clothing with nary a beep, but I set this one off, then heard it go off over and over and over again as other passengers went through the same detector.

 

Oh, I also missed my glass of bubbly that Celebrity offers upon embarkation. On the other hand, having immediate access to our cabin is a fair trade for the bubbly.

 

Stateroom:

 

We were in VC 8171 on the Navigation Deck, an aft cabin immediately below the Lido Deck. Although we prefer the bed by the balcony, we were very comfortable in this well appointed cabin with lots of closet space and adequate shelf space. We missed the overhead cupboards, but found a place for for everything nonetheless.

 

The bathroom, still with a tub, is small and inefficient compared to what we find in Celebrity cabins in the same general category but was adequate for our needs. While the bathroom may be smaller, HAL’s cabin space is greater and we are quite happy with the trade off.

 

Cruise ship refrigerators are typically cool rather than cold, so we were very pleasantly surprised to find ours was truly cold. We had purchased a bottle of vodka and kept it and our mix in the refrigerator and we could have had our drinks without ice had we ever run out.

 

We had read conflicting information about noise overhead from the Lido Deck, in particular the noise of the loungers being put out in the wee hours of the morning. Ours was a last minute, spur of the moment booking after final payment, and we were quick to jump on the aft cabin, always our favourite, noise or no noise. As it turned out, there were a couple of mornings when I heard the loungers being moved, but I’m a light sleeper. Besides, it was barely perceptible and only lasted for a couple of minutes, so I was able to roll over and quickly go back to sleep. I’d never reject this cabin because of it.

 

Aft cabins sometimes experience a bit of vibration when the ship is entering or exiting a port, but in 8171 it was minimal. Again, nothing that would dissuade us from taking this cabin in future.

 

The balcony is quite large and has footstools for both chairs, an arrangement I prefer to a lounger. Unfortunately, as is the case on most HAL balconies today, there is no decent sized table at which to eat breakfast. The teeny table they provide has room for a couple of drinks and very little else. I’ve never understood HAL’s rationale for the dramatic downsizing of the tables.

 

Cabin Stewards:

 

Excellent, as has always been the case on HAL in our experience, and I was happy to see that they haven’t reduced the staff to a single steward as is frequently the case elsewhere. Mind you, they seem to have a greater number of cabins to care for, but their standard of service remains impeccable.

 

Dining:

 

We first discovered Tamarind aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam a few years ago. We had made a reservation in advance of the cruise, but enjoyed it so much that we booked a second dinner during that cruise. We now book two Tamarind dinners for all of our cruises on ships having this restaurant. We weren’t disappointed this time around, and these were by far our best two meals during the cruise. The service was every bit as good as the excellent food!

 

Rudi’s Sel de Mer, on the other hand, was a bit of a disappointment. While the bouillabaisse was excellent, we were put off a bit by how it was served. The waiter brought his cart to our table with two empty soup dished and two plastic bags full of soup. He then proceeded to place the bags in the bowls (where had the bags been previously???) and to cut them open with a pair of scissors, dumping the contents into the bowls before pulling out the bags. Other than the fact that this whole service schtick was rather off putting, it raised the question of whether the soup is made, bagged and frozen, then microwaved before serving. Maybe we’re old fashioned, but hot bouillabaisse brought from the kitchen already in bowls is our preference.

 

My wife’s rack of lamb was passable, but not as good as the same dish served in the MDR a couple of nights previously. It was just lacking in flavour according to her. My Dover sole meunière was so-so. We cook a lot of fresh fish at home and this barely passed muster.

 

The saving grace was dessert, the profiteroles as good as any I’ve eaten in France.

 

Overall, a disappointment, particularly given the fee charged. Mind you, we received our loyalty discount without even having to ask, something I was unsure of given the recent thread here.

 

Our meals in the MDR were good. Perhaps not the same as a number of years ago, but still good, and we never had trouble finding something appealing on the menu. Gala night offerings were no better than on other nights in our opinion, however, and we can understand why some passengers question why they should make an effort to make this a Gala evening when HAL no longer does so.

 

On the question of dress, the vast majority of men wore a jacket and/or tie on Gala Night, but I didn’t observe any tuxes. At the other end of the scale, a gentleman attempting to enter the dining room just in front of us on the first Gala Night wearing slacks and a nice but collarless shirt was intercepted and told that he would not be allowed in unless he changed. Good to see.

 

We had most of our breakfasts in the Lido Market, enjoying a variety of offerings. What struck us this time around was the level of service, with ongoing offers for juice, coffee, or to clear plates. Finding a table was never a problem, either for breakfast or lunch. My only complaint about the Lido relates to the number of passengers who are completely clueless when it comes to touching the food in the buffet. I was shocked to see a woman take one of the bagged, pre-made sandwiches and pull it our of the bag, check the filling and return it to the bag before putting it back on the counter. When I pointed out that, having handled the sandwich, she should take it, she was totally oblivious to the hygiene issues and said that it just didn’t look as tasty as it sounded in the description. I decided that pursuing the issue would simply be a waste of time, so instead I asked one of the servers to throw it away.

We only used room service once, for breakfast, and our food and coffee arrived nice and hot. With a decent sized table on the balcony, we would have ordered room service more often.

 

For all dining venues, we were disappointed to find that wine prices have gone up while the pour size has gone down. We will need to rethink our approach, including bringing onboard multiple bottles and paying the corkage fee. We sail this summer out of Amsterdam, and will have to research purchasing wine there for our Voyage of the Midnight Sun.

 

Guest Services:

 

Our few visits to Guest Services were handled promptly and efficiently, with one unfortunate exception. On the final full day, I went to withdraw $120 in refundable OBC, rather than have it credited to my credit card. Slips were signed, I was handed the $120 and off I went. Later that day, I turned on the cabin TV to check my account and discovered that the withdrawal had been input as a deposit. I returned to Guest Services, explained the issue and they called the woman with whom I had dealt to come to the front desk. She was so thankful that I had noticed the mistake and had come to have it corrected.

 

Shore Excursions:

 

As is our wont, we enjoyed DIY time ashore. This was our first visit to San Juan, we walked along the shore path out to the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, then wandered back through Old San Juan in the general direction of the port. When the rain started, we hopped one of the free buses back to the terminal. We’d like to see much more of San Juan and Puerto Rico, so we’re starting to take a look at cruises from the island.

 

Explorations Café / Crow’s Nest:

 

Most mornings we would have a coffee and enjoy the view from the Crow’s Nest, and on sea days or when arriving in port only in the afternoon, we’d sit for hours and read, along with the occasional game of backgammon. We rather like the new configuration, but can understand those who miss having a library.

 

Gym:

 

I worked out daily, usually in the late afternoon, and I was impressed with the equipment. It looks to be quite new and in good condition. It could do with stronger air conditioning, but otherwise is a good little gym. I was amused to see signs on all of the treadmills limiting running speed to 3.5 MPH during the times that the officers and crew on the bridge, immediately underneath, were taking the ship into or out of port.

 

Entertainment:

 

For this cruise, we didn’t take in any of the shows, other than in the Lincoln Centre Stage performances, which we enjoyed. The configuration of this long, narrow venue isn’t ideal acoustically, but the quintet played to enthusiastic, appreciative audiences.

 

 

 

 

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Thank you for the review! First-time HAL cruisers and we'll be on the NA in April. Your experiences are greatly appreciated. 

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8 hours ago, Fouremco said:

We now book two Tamarind dinners for all of our cruises on ships having this restaurant. We weren’t disappointed this time around, and these were by far our best two meals during the cruise.

I agree, we also love the Tamarind and would book at least 2 nights on any ship that offers this, it is well worth the small upcharge. Thank you for your review.

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Thank you for your review. I will sail on her next month so am glad to read she is still in good form. I will eat in Tamarind at least twice as well. A great venue.

.

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Nice even handed review.  I'll be on the NA in April/May.  It will be my second time, and I'm looking forward to eating in Tamarind again.  I much prefer Tamarind to the Pinnacle.

 

Roz

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Thanks, for the review. We are sailing in March. Did you notice many kids or teens ? It will be spring break when we go, our kids are hoping other teens will be on there to hang out with. 

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Thank you for taking the time to write your review.  Appreciate all your comments.

 

We also love the Tamarind and eat there quite a bit.

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3 minutes ago, Jareds_mommytoo said:

Thanks, for the review. We are sailing in March. Did you notice many kids or teens ? It will be spring break when we go, our kids are hoping other teens will be on there to hang out with. 

There were very few kids aboard for our cruise and even fewer teens. Those that were present were well behaved and a pleasure to see enjoying the cruise. I imagine that your teens will have a larger peer group for a spring break cruise.

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I'm guessing the soup came from a Sous Vide  and was prepared in the bags- evidently cooking in a bag in hot water is the new fad in trendy restaurants. 

 

I remember the frozen veggies in plastic bags that were dropped in boiling water when I was a kid.  What is old becomes new again 🙂.  

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Sous-vide as a cooking technique has been around for a few decades and has been used in quite a few high-end restaurants for many years.  There has been an uptick in non-professional settings because several devices have come out in the last few years that make it cheaper & easier to do at home.  However, sous-vide is low-temperature cooking over a long period of time.  This cooks the food evenly and helps it retain moisture.  It is not the same as boiling a bag of vegetables by any stretch.

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3 hours ago, Jareds_mommytoo said:

Thanks, for the review. We are sailing in March. Did you notice many kids or teens ? It will be spring break when we go, our kids are hoping other teens will be on there to hang out with. 

I heard from ds 17 there were 11 teens onboard. I noticed 6 or so toddlers (ours being one of them) and some school aged kids. For a non-holiday cruise I was surprised by the number of kids, not a huge number but enough to notice. And all seemed well behaved. 

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3 hours ago, Jareds_mommytoo said:

Thanks, for the review. We are sailing in March. Did you notice many kids or teens ? It will be spring break when we go, our kids are hoping other teens will be on there to hang out with. 

You can guarantee that at least a third of the passengers will be kids and teens over spring break.

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1 hour ago, frankc98376 said:

I'm guessing the soup came from a Sous Vide  and was prepared in the bags- evidently cooking in a bag in hot water is the new fad in trendy restaurants. 

 

I remember the frozen veggies in plastic bags that were dropped in boiling water when I was a kid.  What is old becomes new again 🙂.  

 

32 minutes ago, bEwAbG said:

Sous-vide as a cooking technique has been around for a few decades and has been used in quite a few high-end restaurants for many years.  There has been an uptick in non-professional settings because several devices have come out in the last few years that make it cheaper & easier to do at home.  However, sous-vide is low-temperature cooking over a long period of time.  This cooks the food evenly and helps it retain moisture.  It is not the same as boiling a bag of vegetables by any stretch.

I've been cooking Sous Vide at home for about a year now and I'm very familiar with the process. Given the nature of the cooking method, I highly doubt that HAL prepares bouillabaisse or any other dish Sous Vide.

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44 minutes ago, terrydtx said:

You can guarantee that at least a third of the passengers will be kids and teens over spring break.

Last Easter was our first HAL cruise after Disney priced us out. It wasn’t the same club experience but my teens had an amazing time 100% due to the friends they made on board. 

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We are traveling with a group of 10.  Some of the men will only wear jeans. So the dining rooms will be off limits?

Also. Does a SS and above get priority boarding?

Am on Celebrity Edge now and their embarkation process is amazing.

aThanks

Edited by Caymus88

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1 minute ago, Caymus88 said:

We are traveling with a group of 10.  Some of the men will only wear jeans. So the dining rooms will be off limits?

Also. Does a SS and above get priority boarding?

Am on Celebrity Edge now and their embarkation process is amazing.

aThanks

Jeans are fine in MDR as long as they are not torn and faded and a collared shirt is worn. Signature Suites do not get priority boarding, only 4, 5 star mariners and Neptune and Pinnacle Suites get priority boarding. The  N. Amsterdam holds about 1600 less passengers  than the Edge and embarkation will not be as crowded.

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6 minutes ago, Caymus88 said:

We are traveling with a group of 10.  Some of the men will only wear jeans. So the dining rooms will be off limits?

Also. Does a SS and above get priority boarding?

Am on Celebrity Edge now and their embarkation process is amazing.

aThanks

Non-distressed jeans are acceptable in dining rooms on non-Gala nights.

 

No priority boarding for Signature Suites. 

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56 minutes ago, terrydtx said:

Jeans are fine in MDR as long as they are not torn and faded and a collared shirt is worn. Signature Suites do not get priority boarding, only 4, 5 star mariners and Neptune and Pinnacle Suites get priority boarding. The  N. Amsterdam holds about 1600 less passengers  than the Edge and embarkation will not be as crowded.

Thank you

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57 minutes ago, terrydtx said:

Jeans are fine in MDR as long as they are not torn and faded and a collared shirt is worn. Signature Suites do not get priority boarding, only 4, 5 star mariners and Neptune and Pinnacle Suites get priority boarding. The  N. Amsterdam holds about 1600 less passengers  than the Edge and embarkation will not be as crowded.

Best way to get an upgrade?  Really want a Neptune suite

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