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fyree39

Thoughts on Nieuw Amsterdam (no pictures)

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I thought I’d jot down some thoughts on our recent cruise on Nieuw Amsterdam to the Mexican Riviera sailing out of San Diego.  This was our first time sailing on Holland America and our first cruise out of San Diego.  We’ve cruised on Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Princess prior to this cruise.

 

I’d originally booked a balcony cabin, category VD, through a travel agent.  She included $75 OBC and was able to offer a very good rate.  Two weeks before sail date she contacted me with an upgrade offer from HAL for a Neptune Suite which I accepted. We’ve never sailed in a full suite, opting for a junior suite on other lines when the mood strikes.

 

Embarkation:

 

We’d spent the night in Point Loma and drove to the San Diego Airport Parking location where we parked the car for the week (at $71, a bargain) and took the SDAP shuttle to the pier.  The shuttle dropped us off at around 11:00.  The Disney Wonder was also in port so the pier was very busy.  We were directed through security then through check-in before settling in to wait until being called to board at around 12:00.

 

We boarded with the first groups due to our having a Neptune suite and were tucking into lunch at the lido by 12:15.  The announcement that all staterooms were ready came before we finished eating.

 

Cabin:

 

We had Neptune suite 7051, which was directly across from the Neptune Lounge.  I wondered if there would be noise from passengers congregating outside the lounge, but I needn’t have worried.  Our cabin was very quite and very, very wonderful.

 

Not only was there fresh flowers, a fruit bowl and coffee maker, there was also a bottle of sparkling wine waiting on ice.  I wish I could have snapped a photo of my husband’s face when he saw that wine.  He loved those perks and the attention to detail this type of cabin category provides. The refrigerator had soft drinks, mixers, Red Bulls, spirits, beer and wine available for purchase, which we never used. Binoculars and an umbrella were there for our use as well as 6 pillows, soft, medium and firm, for our use.  My husband prefers a soft pillow, so he was quite happy.

 

There are his and hers closets, or at least that’s what I’m calling them, with a large number of hangers available.  Robes, slippers, beach towels, a safe, laundry bag and shoe shine basket were also in the closets. We utilized the free laundry once during the cruise, which was wonderful.  I requested the laundry on hangers and I loved how it all came back.  Undergarments and other items that are normally folded were presented wrapped in tissue and presented in a wicker basket.

 

I don’t know how big the wall mounted TV was, but it’s huge with a wonderful selection of on demand movies.  The live channels available were MSNBC, FOX, BBC, Prime, HGTV and I think that’s it.  There are also some other shows available, but they seemed to be tied in to the cross-branding that happens on the ship: America’s Test Kitchen and HGTV. My husband and I watched a whole lot of movies from the comfort of the couch or chairs in the room.

 

The bathroom was large with two sinks, a shower, a separate tub with jets, and an offering of soaps, lotions, potions and so forth for our use.

 

Just outside the bathroom was a vanity with a magnifying mirror and a hair dryer that doesn’t have the button that needs to be held down. Any other cruise ship I’ve been on has always had the hair dryer that requires me to hold the button down and isn’t all that powerful.

 

The balcony was large with a table and 4 chairs, two padded, reclining deck chairs with ottomans. and a small table in between them. I was very impressed with the cleanliness of the balcony.  On my last cruise in February on Carnival, it seems the balcony wasn’t touched and had a lot of debris on the deck. It’s nice to have a clean balcony, one that I don’t feel I have to grab a wet washcloth and wipe everything down myself.

 

Passenger mix:

 

I’d heard there were 425 children on this cruise.  The kids were noisiest in the pool, playing water tag, splashing, throwing a football and generally being kids.  I didn’t notice the tykes taking over the hot tubs except for the first sea day. Outside of the pool deck, the kids were very well behaved and mindful of their parents.  I did hear running of kids outside our cabin on two occasions, but that’s it.  The adult population was quiet and considerate.  Lots of chair hogging, but I think that’s a product of all mass market cruises.  HAL places rolled up towels on all the loungers.  Perhaps some were vacating their loungers without removing the towels, making others think the chairs were taken.

 

People were always dressed appropriately, though I did notice a couple of teens with very short dresses (one with a slit so high it showed her black panties). I saw no robes at the buffet or women at breakfast with curlers in their hair, something I’ve always seen on our Carnival cruises. No drunks, loud talkers, foul mouthed Neanderthals or obnoxious bullies, either.  I only saw one instance of seat saving and that was in the Blues club with one woman saving an entire front row.  Nobody showed up to claim her seats during the first set. I almost wished someone would’ve come by and challenged her.

 

We saw all ages, from infants to octogenarians, and most all were polite and thoughtful. This seemed more of a white collar/professional crowd and it was a welcome change from what I’ve seen lately on other lines.

 

Food:

 

DH and I are not foodies.  We are willing to try new things, but feel most comfortable eating pedestrian meals. We both found the food on HAL to be quite good.  Here are some of the things that impressed me about the lido deck food:

 

Freshly made waffles, crepes and eggs Benedict for breakfast; freshly made waffle cones at the ice cream station; a whole roasted suckling pig. I’ve never seen this before and it was amazing! There was a vast assortment of fresh fruit, a daily variety of twice baked potatoes and I particularly liked the one with brie cheese. Small plates with cheeses, fruits, salads and so forth were also available. I found something each day to enjoy.

 

Although we could eat breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill, we only did this one time.  The made-to-order items at the Lido Marketplace trumped the PG.

 

Tried the afternoon tea and I enjoyed both the food and the service.  I’d have gone back at least one more time, but DH isn’t a fan.

 

The pizza didn’t look appealing, so I never bothered with it.  DH tried it once and said it was OK.  He liked the Dive In burgers and fries.  I tried one of the hot dogs and it seemed over-steamed with a real soft consistency. I didn’t finish it.

 

I loved the ice cream and enjoyed a couple of waffle cones with a scoop of strawberry goodness topped with sprinkles.  I didn’t try this until the last couple days of the cruise and I’m glad. I’d have eaten an ice cream cone a couple times a day every day.  Not good for the waistline!

 

We had open dining and ate at the MDR on 5 of the 7 nights.  We opted to share a table each time and met some lovely people who we kept running into all through the cruise.  The food was nice, but nothing was really memorable, except maybe for the Gala night lobster, which was cooked perfectly. I’ve been trying to lose a few pounds so there were nights when I skipped both the appetizer and dessert.  Perhaps I missed something marvelous, but I have a feeling we’ll be back so I can try some new menu items. The service was wonderful and the dining room decor lovely. There was never a wait and we usually ate anywhere from 5:00 to 6:30, depending on what was going on that day. Although we could have made reservations, we preferred to simply show up when we were hungry.

 

I’m not a drinker, but my husband enjoys the occasional cocktail. We never had a problem finding a server by the pool or at any of the bars.  I tried a couple of the mock cocktails listed in the menu and mostly liked them.  DH loves his Maker’s Mark and ginger ale, so he stuck with that.

 

At Canaletto’s, which we booked on a whim when a nice young lady approached us advertising the restaurant, I started with the Antipasto and it was very tasty. For a main course I had the Spaghetti Alle Vongole Veraci E Gamberi. I certainly couldn’t pronounce it, so had to simply point at my menu.  It was very good, even though I’m not a huge fan of steamed clams. For dessert I had the lemon tart, which was just awful.  The waitress had warned me that it was dry, but I thought I’d take my chances.  She offered to bring an alternate selection, but by then I was full enough.

 

Canaletto’s being a part of the lido buffet is a bit odd to me, but the glass partitions at least give you a bit of quiet from the hubbub of the buffet crowd. Although we enjoyed our dinner and the service, I doubt we’ll do this again.

 

Ship

 

The Neiuw Amsterdam is a beautiful ship. We discovered the EXC area (aka Crow’s Nest?) and spent some time there relaxing, watching the view and enjoying a specialty coffee from the coffee bar. We went back up there on the last sea day and it was packed, so didn’t stay long. The lay out of the ship is nice and easy to navigate.  The promenade is a great feature, but I’m embarrassed to say we didn’t make daily visits to get our walks in.  We spent some time at both the Ocean Bar and the Sea View bar and enjoyed the atmosphere and great service. The ship wasn’t too big or too small.  In my mind, it was just right.

 

Entertainment

 

I’m admitting here that we spent more time in our cabin than on any other cruise.  The suite was so comfortable and the balcony so large that we found the room to be a destination in itself.  As a result, we didn’t go to as many of the entertainment venues and we normally would have.  We never made it to the ATK demonstrations or Billboard Onboard.  We only saw the performances at Lincoln Center Stage and BB King’s Blue Club one time.  Both were good.  We watched the performance of Humanity at the MainStage theater.  I’m not a big fan of these shows, though my husband is.  Although the dancers were all talented, I felt the costuming was uninspired and the show as a whole a little bit underwhelming.  I guess I’m just a tough critic.

 

We went back the following night to see comedienne Chris Pendleton.  I thought she was hysterical and my husband thought she was just so-so.  Her humor leaned toward that which women would understand, so maybe that explains we he and I responded differently to her performance.

 

The CD was named Nick and he’s the kind of cruise director I like: the quiet kind.  He’d make announcements, but they weren’t long or often.

 

Our favorite entertainment was our cabin and the gazillion on demand movies.  I know….why go on a cruise to watch movies? Who knows?  What I do know is we had a wonderful time and my husband says he’s ready to book another HAL cruise soon.  And this coming from a die hard Carnival lover!

 

Disembarkation:

 

Because we were in a suite we got priority disembarkation.  We normally do self-assist, but none of the disembarkation literature we received in our cabin mentioned this as an option.  After a final breakfast at the Lido Marketplace we waited in the BB King Blues Club lounge.  We couldn’t help noticing the number of passengers loitering with their suitcases and realized we could have joined them if we wanted to get off the ship earlier.  Disembarkation started at 8:00 and for the next 30 minutes the self-assist passengers filed past the Club.  Our group was called at 8:30 and we had to line jump since the self-assist passengers were still filing past with no end in sight.  It seemed like half the ship wheeled off their own luggage!

 

We were off the ship and on our parking lot shuttle by 9:00. The Disney Wonder was disembarking with us so you can imagine how crowded the pier was.

 

Final Thoughts:

 

We enjoyed this cruise immensely mostly because of the service, the food, the beautiful ship and the mix of passengers. The service was fantastic, though there was one hiccup.  My husband was nursing that bottle of sparkling wine we had in our suite.  He’d come back from dinner and pour a glass, then stopper the bottle and place it back on ice.  The stewardess for some reason pulled that bottle before it was empty and disposed of it.  We’d come back to the room after dinner for the purpose of him pouring one of the last glasses in the bottle and found the bottle gone. I approached the concierge and explained what had happened and how disappointed my husband was that this complimentary beverage was disposed of before he’d had a chance to finish it.  The concierge worked her magic and a new bottle appeared the next day.

 

We’ll be back on HAL.  I’d love to sail this line to Alaska, New England or Europe.  I’d rate HAL above the other three lines we’ve sailed, though Royal really is a fun line.

 

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

 

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Thank you for a most thorough review. Glad you liked HAL and the NA. 

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1 hour ago, fyree39 said:

I thought I’d jot down some thoughts on our recent cruise on Nieuw Amsterdam to the Mexican Riviera sailing out of San Diego.  This was our first time sailing on Holland America and our first cruise out of San Diego.  We’ve cruised on Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Princess prior to this cruise.

 

I’d originally booked a balcony cabin, category VD, through a travel agent.  She included $75 OBC and was able to offer a very good rate.  Two weeks before sail date she contacted me with an upgrade offer from HAL for a Neptune Suite which I accepted. We’ve never sailed in a full suite, opting for a junior suite on other lines when the mood strikes.

 

Embarkation:

 

We’d spent the night in Point Loma and drove to the San Diego Airport Parking location where we parked the car for the week (at $71, a bargain) and took the SDAP shuttle to the pier.  The shuttle dropped us off at around 11:00.  The Disney Wonder was also in port so the pier was very busy.  We were directed through security then through check-in before settling in to wait until being called to board at around 12:00.

 

We boarded with the first groups due to our having a Neptune suite and were tucking into lunch at the lido by 12:15.  The announcement that all staterooms were ready came before we finished eating.

 

Cabin:

 

We had Neptune suite 7051, which was directly across from the Neptune Lounge.  I wondered if there would be noise from passengers congregating outside the lounge, but I needn’t have worried.  Our cabin was very quite and very, very wonderful.

 

Not only was there fresh flowers, a fruit bowl and coffee maker, there was also a bottle of sparkling wine waiting on ice.  I wish I could have snapped a photo of my husband’s face when he saw that wine.  He loved those perks and the attention to detail this type of cabin category provides. The refrigerator had soft drinks, mixers, Red Bulls, spirits, beer and wine available for purchase, which we never used. Binoculars and an umbrella were there for our use as well as 6 pillows, soft, medium and firm, for our use.  My husband prefers a soft pillow, so he was quite happy.

 

There are his and hers closets, or at least that’s what I’m calling them, with a large number of hangers available.  Robes, slippers, beach towels, a safe, laundry bag and shoe shine basket were also in the closets. We utilized the free laundry once during the cruise, which was wonderful.  I requested the laundry on hangers and I loved how it all came back.  Undergarments and other items that are normally folded were presented wrapped in tissue and presented in a wicker basket.

 

I don’t know how big the wall mounted TV was, but it’s huge with a wonderful selection of on demand movies.  The live channels available were MSNBC, FOX, BBC, Prime, HGTV and I think that’s it.  There are also some other shows available, but they seemed to be tied in to the cross-branding that happens on the ship: America’s Test Kitchen and HGTV. My husband and I watched a whole lot of movies from the comfort of the couch or chairs in the room.

 

The bathroom was large with two sinks, a shower, a separate tub with jets, and an offering of soaps, lotions, potions and so forth for our use.

 

Just outside the bathroom was a vanity with a magnifying mirror and a hair dryer that doesn’t have the button that needs to be held down. Any other cruise ship I’ve been on has always had the hair dryer that requires me to hold the button down and isn’t all that powerful.

 

The balcony was large with a table and 4 chairs, two padded, reclining deck chairs with ottomans. and a small table in between them. I was very impressed with the cleanliness of the balcony.  On my last cruise in February on Carnival, it seems the balcony wasn’t touched and had a lot of debris on the deck. It’s nice to have a clean balcony, one that I don’t feel I have to grab a wet washcloth and wipe everything down myself.

 

Passenger mix:

 

I’d heard there were 425 children on this cruise.  The kids were noisiest in the pool, playing water tag, splashing, throwing a football and generally being kids.  I didn’t notice the tykes taking over the hot tubs except for the first sea day. Outside of the pool deck, the kids were very well behaved and mindful of their parents.  I did hear running of kids outside our cabin on two occasions, but that’s it.  The adult population was quiet and considerate.  Lots of chair hogging, but I think that’s a product of all mass market cruises.  HAL places rolled up towels on all the loungers.  Perhaps some were vacating their loungers without removing the towels, making others think the chairs were taken.

 

People were always dressed appropriately, though I did notice a couple of teens with very short dresses (one with a slit so high it showed her black panties). I saw no robes at the buffet or women at breakfast with curlers in their hair, something I’ve always seen on our Carnival cruises. No drunks, loud talkers, foul mouthed Neanderthals or obnoxious bullies, either.  I only saw one instance of seat saving and that was in the Blues club with one woman saving an entire front row.  Nobody showed up to claim her seats during the first set. I almost wished someone would’ve come by and challenged her.

 

We saw all ages, from infants to octogenarians, and most all were polite and thoughtful. This seemed more of a white collar/professional crowd and it was a welcome change from what I’ve seen lately on other lines.

 

Food:

 

DH and I are not foodies.  We are willing to try new things, but feel most comfortable eating pedestrian meals. We both found the food on HAL to be quite good.  Here are some of the things that impressed me about the lido deck food:

 

Freshly made waffles, crepes and eggs Benedict for breakfast; freshly made waffle cones at the ice cream station; a whole roasted suckling pig. I’ve never seen this before and it was amazing! There was a vast assortment of fresh fruit, a daily variety of twice baked potatoes and I particularly liked the one with brie cheese. Small plates with cheeses, fruits, salads and so forth were also available. I found something each day to enjoy.

 

Although we could eat breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill, we only did this one time.  The made-to-order items at the Lido Marketplace trumped the PG.

 

Tried the afternoon tea and I enjoyed both the food and the service.  I’d have gone back at least one more time, but DH isn’t a fan.

 

The pizza didn’t look appealing, so I never bothered with it.  DH tried it once and said it was OK.  He liked the Dive In burgers and fries.  I tried one of the hot dogs and it seemed over-steamed with a real soft consistency. I didn’t finish it.

 

I loved the ice cream and enjoyed a couple of waffle cones with a scoop of strawberry goodness topped with sprinkles.  I didn’t try this until the last couple days of the cruise and I’m glad. I’d have eaten an ice cream cone a couple times a day every day.  Not good for the waistline!

 

We had open dining and ate at the MDR on 5 of the 7 nights.  We opted to share a table each time and met some lovely people who we kept running into all through the cruise.  The food was nice, but nothing was really memorable, except maybe for the Gala night lobster, which was cooked perfectly. I’ve been trying to lose a few pounds so there were nights when I skipped both the appetizer and dessert.  Perhaps I missed something marvelous, but I have a feeling we’ll be back so I can try some new menu items. The service was wonderful and the dining room decor lovely. There was never a wait and we usually ate anywhere from 5:00 to 6:30, depending on what was going on that day. Although we could have made reservations, we preferred to simply show up when we were hungry.

 

I’m not a drinker, but my husband enjoys the occasional cocktail. We never had a problem finding a server by the pool or at any of the bars.  I tried a couple of the mock cocktails listed in the menu and mostly liked them.  DH loves his Maker’s Mark and ginger ale, so he stuck with that.

 

At Canaletto’s, which we booked on a whim when a nice young lady approached us advertising the restaurant, I started with the Antipasto and it was very tasty. For a main course I had the Spaghetti Alle Vongole Veraci E Gamberi. I certainly couldn’t pronounce it, so had to simply point at my menu.  It was very good, even though I’m not a huge fan of steamed clams. For dessert I had the lemon tart, which was just awful.  The waitress had warned me that it was dry, but I thought I’d take my chances.  She offered to bring an alternate selection, but by then I was full enough.

 

Canaletto’s being a part of the lido buffet is a bit odd to me, but the glass partitions at least give you a bit of quiet from the hubbub of the buffet crowd. Although we enjoyed our dinner and the service, I doubt we’ll do this again.

 

Ship

 

The Neiuw Amsterdam is a beautiful ship. We discovered the EXC area (aka Crow’s Nest?) and spent some time there relaxing, watching the view and enjoying a specialty coffee from the coffee bar. We went back up there on the last sea day and it was packed, so didn’t stay long. The lay out of the ship is nice and easy to navigate.  The promenade is a great feature, but I’m embarrassed to say we didn’t make daily visits to get our walks in.  We spent some time at both the Ocean Bar and the Sea View bar and enjoyed the atmosphere and great service. The ship wasn’t too big or too small.  In my mind, it was just right.

 

Entertainment

 

I’m admitting here that we spent more time in our cabin than on any other cruise.  The suite was so comfortable and the balcony so large that we found the room to be a destination in itself.  As a result, we didn’t go to as many of the entertainment venues and we normally would have.  We never made it to the ATK demonstrations or Billboard Onboard.  We only saw the performances at Lincoln Center Stage and BB King’s Blue Club one time.  Both were good.  We watched the performance of Humanity at the MainStage theater.  I’m not a big fan of these shows, though my husband is.  Although the dancers were all talented, I felt the costuming was uninspired and the show as a whole a little bit underwhelming.  I guess I’m just a tough critic.

 

We went back the following night to see comedienne Chris Pendleton.  I thought she was hysterical and my husband thought she was just so-so.  Her humor leaned toward that which women would understand, so maybe that explains we he and I responded differently to her performance.

 

The CD was named Nick and he’s the kind of cruise director I like: the quiet kind.  He’d make announcements, but they weren’t long or often.

 

Our favorite entertainment was our cabin and the gazillion on demand movies.  I know….why go on a cruise to watch movies? Who knows?  What I do know is we had a wonderful time and my husband says he’s ready to book another HAL cruise soon.  And this coming from a die hard Carnival lover!

 

Disembarkation:

 

Because we were in a suite we got priority disembarkation.  We normally do self-assist, but none of the disembarkation literature we received in our cabin mentioned this as an option.  After a final breakfast at the Lido Marketplace we waited in the BB King Blues Club lounge.  We couldn’t help noticing the number of passengers loitering with their suitcases and realized we could have joined them if we wanted to get off the ship earlier.  Disembarkation started at 8:00 and for the next 30 minutes the self-assist passengers filed past the Club.  Our group was called at 8:30 and we had to line jump since the self-assist passengers were still filing past with no end in sight.  It seemed like half the ship wheeled off their own luggage!

 

We were off the ship and on our parking lot shuttle by 9:00. The Disney Wonder was disembarking with us so you can imagine how crowded the pier was.

 

Final Thoughts:

 

We enjoyed this cruise immensely mostly because of the service, the food, the beautiful ship and the mix of passengers. The service was fantastic, though there was one hiccup.  My husband was nursing that bottle of sparkling wine we had in our suite.  He’d come back from dinner and pour a glass, then stopper the bottle and place it back on ice.  The stewardess for some reason pulled that bottle before it was empty and disposed of it.  We’d come back to the room after dinner for the purpose of him pouring one of the last glasses in the bottle and found the bottle gone. I approached the concierge and explained what had happened and how disappointed my husband was that this complimentary beverage was disposed of before he’d had a chance to finish it.  The concierge worked her magic and a new bottle appeared the next day.

 

We’ll be back on HAL.  I’d love to sail this line to Alaska, New England or Europe.  I’d rate HAL above the other three lines we’ve sailed, though Royal really is a fun line.

 

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

 

Fryee39,

WOW a very in depth review!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a wonderful review !

First off I love the Nieuw!! We sailed on her inaugural back in July 2010 out of the Med! We have done 4 cruises on her so far with Mexico Caribbean and Europe.we have stayed in NS 7051 also and your right no noise from the Neptune Lounge!

I also agree with you we did a lot of relaxation on the wonderful balcony.

we would order from the MDR for our evening dinners and enjoy it on the balcony. We always enjoyed PG for breakfast and the coffee is wonderful! 

Exploration Cafe now up where the Crows Nest is for us is great coffee compared The the waters down coffee at the lido!!

we live in Dan Diego do it is perfect for us to travel on HAL.

WELCOME TO HAL!

Smooth Sailings in the future

Denise😊

 

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Good timing on your review as we are sailing on the NA tomorrow in a Neptune suite.  

 

Your review was excellent and full of great details.  Glad you had a lovely cruise and happy with HAL.

 

 

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Very well writing review covers all the points. Glad you enjoyed your cruise.

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 Love the NA and welcome to HAL.  It always feels like coming home when we board one of their ships for one of our adventures.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks to all for reading.  I wanted to mention that I'd pre-purchased onboard credit, which was indicated as being on our account when we checked in.  We didn't use all of the OBC on this cruise and I expected the refund to my card to take several weeks.  It took 3 days!

Edited by fyree39

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Nicely done, thorough review of your cruise and the ship.  We've sailed NA several times with another scheduled this December.  Thank you for your time and efforts.  Glad you so enjoyed!

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