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Brief Nieuw Statendam review


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Just returned from a 7-night cruise on NS. This is a brief review. It is my opinion and reflection, and I won't take any offense to anyone who disagrees (especially if it is based on their personal experience).

Background

My wife and are in our lat(er) 40's, with no kids. We were traveling with another couple (and their two boys, 11 & 15). This is our 4th HAL cruise, but we've mostly been on Celebrity the past decade. We live in South Florida.

The Ship

Very nice. Elegant without being stuffy. Lots of places to sit and chat, read, drink, or play games. Artwork that seemed appropriate (although I liked some of the creative music-themed items and not others; but that's art!)

The Clientele

This cruise was over the spring break (week off) for local schools. We had about 275 children aboard, according to the Kids Club manager. Adult passengers ran the full gamut, from honeymooners to "experienced retirees". A really nice mix. We chatted with folks from South Florida, Virginia, Idaho, Holland, Belgium, UK, Germany... at least those are the places we remember. I would "guess" that the average age was 3-5 years older than Celebrity on this particular cruise/week.

The Cabin

We were in a standard veranda (category V).  It was very similar to the Soltice-class ships on Celebrity. Perhaps a bit more storage space. I also like the shower on the NS better (better water pressure and larger). The two down sides in comparison to Celebrity -- the balcony doors open out (instead of sliding) and the table is tiiiiiiiiiny. Bed was comfortable.

The Main Dining Room

VERY pleasantly surprised. We ate in the MDR on 6 nights. The food ranged from good to very good. Our first night, however, was a service disaster. They seated us on a table where my wife was hit in the head twice as waiters walked by with trays. It was also too loud to talk to eachother, as the waiters were talking loudly. On the way out, I spoke with the Matre'D and calmly explained that it was not a good experience. The remainder of the time, he seated us in a table in the middle with an outstanding waiter (Budi). It made a huuuuuge difference in our enjoyment. The food quality was good (as always, it is subjective), and most of the dishes we ordered were nicely seasoned and cooked to our requests. We did have a gluten free diner with us, and Budi gave her the next night's menu so she should order and they would make hers without any gluten. To keep up with the "extra charge" discussion, we were not charged extra for multiple entrees. The boys generally ordered two entrees and two appetizer/salad/soups each. With the exception of a soup they didn't like the taste of (and two asparagus spears that one didn't like), there was no waste. The adults generally ordered 2-4 appetizer/salad/soups each, and one entree. Plus an extra 1-2 entrees for all of us to try (ex: guinea fowl --- winner! and asian duck --- loser!)

Specialty Dining

We ate two lunches in Pinnacle. Excellent. The cheese board by itself was worth it.  The ambiance, service, and the food all made it a special, very enjoyable meal. Definitely would do this again.

We ate dinner in Tamarind.  We went because so many people loved it. It was, by far, the worst meal we had on the ship. The service was odd -- lots of people stopping by, but not clear roles. We were asked the same thing multiple times by different people (specifically ordering food and water; one even asked us if we were ready to order -- AFTER our menus were taken away???). We have a good, authentic Thai restaurant at home. The food at Tamarind was ok. The appetizers were certainly edible, but not well executed. The "seared scallop" was either steamed or prepared by someone who doesn't know how to sear a scallop. The seasonings were muddled. It also felt like a fast food restaurant in that there was no pacing of the meal. My wife and I ate (4 appetizers, 2 entrees, and 2 desserts) in 47 minutes. Maybe everything is pre-prepared. Anyway, OUR experience was quite disappointing. So we won't be going back to that restaurant!

The Music

In a word... excellent!!! I'm not a music person. Just not my thing, except for classical (and Billy Joel / Elton John). However, the BB King group and the Lincoln Center Stage group -- wow! Great performances. Really, really nice. The rock group was also good.... the dueling pianos weren't really dueling. They were working together, so it kind of lost some of the energy in my book. Enjoyable, but not on the level of the BB King / LCS groups. Those were A/A+. 

The Service

Typical HAL quality. The room steward (Asis) kept the room very tidy and our ice bucket filled. Any question we had, he answered. Always with a smile and remembering our names. The accommodation by the Matre'D (whose name I don't remember because it was very long and I'm terrible with names), the food service by Budi, the wine service by Rex.... all reasons why HAL's service seems above our experience on Celebrity.

Random Notes

- Blend happy hour was 9-10 most nights. No one was there, and you had to ask at Club Orange for the "wine guy" to come out. It was BOGO on $17 glasses. Very enjoyable wines (both Cabs & Merlots; didn't try the others)

- Formal nights were nights after visiting HMC and after visiting Grand Cayman

- Chocolate croissants should be illegal because they tasted so good

- Key cards were excellent (the RFIDs worked flawlessly and we didn't spend a minute each time trying to insert the key card and pull it out just at the right speed for the lock)

- Lots of "buzzers" were around for obtaining drink service

- Mixed drinks were the smallest pours I've ever seen on a ship

- Dive In burgers were well executed as was the NY Deli & Pizza (pagers were very nice -- no standing around waiting for your food; when it vibrates, come back and pick up hot food)

The Suggestions

Not everything was perfect.

1. The "price matching" in the on-board liquor stores took 40 minutes because no one could find the manager and he was the only one who could approve. If you advertise this in multiple places, it should be a standard process that works whenever the shops are open.

2. No Dam merchandise. We really wanted some Dam shirts. And there were no prizes for trivia (like Dam mugs or Dam shirts). Those were really fun things!!!

3. But the big thing.... the SMOKING IN THE CASINO!!! We didn't play any craps or blackjack (first time in a while). The combination of the smoking and the lack of a high-quality filtration system really made it difficult to walk through, let alone play. Also, the smoke wafts down into the music rooms below. The smoking thing is a biggie. As much as we loved this cruise (and we did!!!) we aren't sure we'll book another HAL cruise on a ship that allows indoor smoking.  And I love a cigar on a cruise, I really do. But never inside where the smell just lingers.

 

Overall, a really fun cruise. Very pleased with this HAL product as we experienced it. If there are any questions I can answer, I'll try.

 

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Thanks for that.  OH and I will be on NS for 2 weeks in the summer.  Glad to hear you enjoyed your trip and your thoughts on the various restaurants.  Was thinking of booking Tamarind for OH's birthday, but I'll hold off and look for further reviews before committing.  Very useful to read your opinion.

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Thank you for your review, sounds like you enjoyed yourself.  We were on the K'Dm and I will definitely agree with you on the casino smoking, one word describes it as disgusting.  There has to be smoke eaters or something that could help so us non smokers can enjoy the casino as well.

 

We are booked on the NS 2021 and cannot wait, maybe by then they will have addressed the casino smoking issue.

Edited by doone
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We ate in Tamarind on the Konsingdam and I would agree with your negative review, have heard such wonderful reviews about it couldn’t wait to try it and it was just not enjoyable, the service or the food.

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We've eaten in the Tamarind several times on the Eurodam & the Niew Amsterdam. We always loved it. Service was wonderful. 

 

I agree, I miss all the Dam Ship goodies. I'm glad I bought a lot in the past. Not happy with all the changes. They even "upgraded" the China in main dining room. You can't set your knife on the side of the dinner plate because it always falls into the sauce or whatever is on your plate. Some of the classiest things on HAL are no more. Who makes all these decisions?

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3 minutes ago, WFBgal said:

We've eaten in the Tamarind several times on the Eurodam & the Niew Amsterdam. We always loved it. Service was wonderful. 

I wonder if it is the newer ships that have the issue with Tamarind? I had heard so many good things, which is why we booked it. So I was surprised at our experience.

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OP: thanks for your thoughtful review, and glad you had a good time.  We've recently booked the NS for 2021, and are really looking forward to it.  I thought your comparison to Celebrity's S-class ships was interesting, as that's what the photos of the NS cabins remind me of (and we love the S-class ships).

 

As for smoking in the casino, I don't know why HAL would take a beautiful new ship and allow that (especially while, at the same time, it's been prohibiting smoking in the casinos of some of the older ships, like the Zuiderdam).  I hope by 2021 (or sooner), there's no smoking in the NS casino, especially if the smoke drifts into other public spaces.

 

One question for you: were you able to use the two drawers under the bed?  I ask because, in another NS review thread, the poster said that the crew had used those drawers for storage (though did not say for what.  I'd have had an issue with that.)  Thanks!

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OP,

 

Surprised that you did not find any "dam" merchandise in the Shops on Board.  I bought a very good quality Nieuw Statendam Inaugural Season Polo Shirt and T-Shirt in January and I recall seeing other "dam" merchandise as well.  Maybe they sold out of such?

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1 hour ago, Turtles06 said:

One question for you: were you able to use the two drawers under the bed?

We were not. They were filled with bedding (I think for the couch / 3rd passenger).

even without it, we felt the storage was ample. We didn’t fill all the drawers or come close to filling the shelves and closets. But we were only on a one week cruise. Maybe for a 14+ day cruise...?

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53 minutes ago, rkacruiser said:

Surprised that you did not find any "dam" merchandise in the Shops

There was plenty of ship merchandise. Just none of the “dam mug” or “dam ship” or “dam rain” type. The shop attendant said it was because the shop was run by a different company than before.

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1 minute ago, killsport said:

We were not. They were filled with bedding (I think for the couch / 3rd passenger).

even without it, we felt the storage was ample. We didn’t fill all the drawers or come close to filling the shelves and closets. But we were only on a one week cruise. Maybe for a 14+ day cruise...?

 

Thanks for the reply.   That's interesting.  It's hard to believe those drawers are there for that purpose, but I'm happy to know you had enough storage space without them.

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2 hours ago, gizmodog said:

We ate in Tamarind on the Konsingdam and I would agree with your negative review, have heard such wonderful reviews about it couldn’t wait to try it and it was just not enjoyable, the service or the food.

We had read such glowing reviews on Tamarind we booked it on the Eurodam in December --- wouldn't do it again on any ship....

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19 minutes ago, killsport said:

There was plenty of ship merchandise. Just none of the “dam mug” or “dam ship” or “dam rain” type. The shop attendant said it was because the shop was run by a different company than before.

 

What your shop attendant told you about a change in company is true.  My memory must be wrong, but I thought I saw some "generic dam ship" merchandise available.  Personally, I don't buy such items; I prefer ship specific merchandise.

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2 hours ago, killsport said:

I wonder if it is the newer ships that have the issue with Tamarind? I had heard so many good things, which is why we booked it. So I was surprised at our experience.

I don't think that's it. We sailed on the K'dam in November 2016 and enjoyed two wonderful meals in the Tamarind. It is our favourite HAL restaurant and we've had nothing but excellent service and food on all of the ships that have Tamarind. We'll be on the Nieuw Statendam in June and DW asked me just this week if I'd made reservations yet as she's looking forward to at least a couple more meals there.

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1 hour ago, Fouremco said:

I don't think that's it. We sailed on the K'dam in November 2016 and enjoyed two wonderful meals in the Tamarind. It is our favourite HAL restaurant and we've had nothing but excellent service and food on all of the ships that have Tamarind. We'll be on the Nieuw Statendam in June and DW asked me just this week if I'd made reservations yet as she's looking forward to at least a couple more meals there.

I also enjoyed my Tamarind meals in K'dam in December 2016 and March 2018.  Tamarind was also great on Eurodam in November 2018 and on Nieuw Statendam in January 2019 (twice).  I have no qualms booking it again for K'dam in November...and Nieuw Statendam next year.  Been eating there for years on several HAL ships, and although some meals are better than others, I've never had one that I'd say I was disappointed with.

 

Sue/WDW1972

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 enjoyed your review. One little point.  NO DAM wear.  HAL has changed the company that run the Shops on Board. The new company does NOT offer the DAM wear, at  least at this time..   

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13 hours ago, killsport said:

The remainder of the time, he seated us in a table in the middle with an outstanding waiter (Budi).

 

WHere is he located in the MDr? We may try to ask for him during our anytime dining.

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3 hours ago, cheezenip said:

WHere is he located in the MDr?

In the very middle. I’d call it the belly of the whale... there is a pole in the middle of the MDR. He served tables around that.

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Just a couple of comments from cruises on other ships.

 

We haven't seen any "dam" mugs, etc., given away at trivia in a long time -- like 4 or 5 years.  They have been giving away "pins" like Caribbean pins on some cruises.

 

Drink pours -- we haven't had the free Signature Beverage Package in a few years thus we pay for our drinks.  We found that the bar tenders weren't even filling the shot glasses up to the white line.  We buy very few drinks in the bars -- order bottles of alcohol for the cabin.

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