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sailawaybellaluna

Photo Review of our Spring Break Aboard the Nieuw Statendam!

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36 minutes ago, Dulciana8 said:

What a great review of Old San Juan! The El Convento is one of our favorites, too— beautiful hotel, and a great place to stay. I know sometimes folks can be very critical of OSJ, but we’ve always loved it, and especially now that we have a child— he loves visiting El Morro and playing in the grassy parade field next to it. Last year there were re-enactors and costumed interpreters and to our four year old, he thought that was the coolest thing to see! Especially with drums and canon fire, lol! Thanks for continuing your gorgeous photo review. Keep it coming!! 😊

Thanks so much for reading along! I'm glad to hear you love El Convento too! I've never stayed there, but it would definitely be a treat to be able to! I think it's such an easy, walkable city and especially great with kids!

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The next day was Half Moon Cay!

 

I had never been there before, but I was able to visit Princess Cays just five weeks prior onboard the Carnival Liberty. (I got to sneak away for a little girl's trip with one of my best friends of 30+ years!). I was so pleasantly surprised by just how much I LOVED Princess Cays! I hadn't expected much at all from a cruiseline's private island, but I was blown away by the beauty!

 

All of that to say, I think my expectations were a bit higher for our day at Half Moon Cay!

 

Now HMC is a tender port, so you must go down to the Lincoln Center Stage / BB Kings and collect a number. I made my family get down there at 8am, and we were on the first tender boat of the morning! I guess I'm not really a "sleep in and relax" type on vacation... Ha! 

 

Anyhow, the day was not off to a great start. We sat on the tender boat and it started raining on us. The sky was ominous, and I was a little concerned how our day would go. Fortunately, once we got to the island, the rain stopped and the skies started to clear!

 

The first thing I did was to traipse all the way down past all of the cabanas, bathrooms, etc., to the edge of the island where there are just a few chairs and hammocks. There was hardly anyone there yet, and it was gorgeous!

 

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I was able to secure six chairs partially shaded and this hammock!

 

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As you can see, the sun came out and it turned into a gorgeous day!

 

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I had packed some inflatable floaters, beach balls, snorkel equipment and sand toys from home, so the kids were having a blast!

 

The top few pictures above were taken between 8:55am - 9:10am. Around 10:30am or so, it started getting REALLY crowded. And lots of people had the same idea we did, and dragged chairs all the way down. Many of them started setting up directly in front of people who had been there since 8:30 in the morning. I'm sorry, but this really drives me crazy. You don't set up on a LARGE beach directly in front of people! My husband laughs at me, but I went ahead and put our towels down below us so this wouldn't happen.

 

Unfortunately, it wasn't long before a family showed up with a bright neon orange beach canopy! Now I've never seen anything like this. We have beach tents that we take when we hit the beach on the weekend. But this was like a portable EZ-up that was about 10 x 12 feet! And wouldn't you believe that they set up right next to me. In fact they anchored it at the bottom of my beach chair. Once it was up, my parents (who were sitting under the trees in the shade) could no longer see the water or the beautiful ships docked out on the horizon. Sometimes people have no manners, and it completely baffles me. This was one of those instances! 

 

Anyhow, not to ruin our day. I was so thankful for a gorgeous day!!!

 

My husband and I left the kids swinging in the hammock for a bit and headed to the Captain Morgan Pirate Ship Bar! Now I thought this looked kind of kitschy, but oh my goodness, it was so picturesque inside and I absolutely loved it!

 

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We ordered some frozen drinks and sat upstairs at a little table overlooking this window. It was a great memory to make! 

 

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More to come...

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A few more pics from the Captain Morgan's pirate ship bar:

 

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I meant to post these pictures below in my previous post...If you don't care to walk too far on the beach, and would just like to easily sit down without carrying a beach chair through the sand, this was the scene as soon as you entered the beach. These pictures were taken at 8:45am. A few hours later, these chairs were completely full:

 

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Once we finished our drinks, we headed over to the food lines. Now I will say, I thought the BBQ lunch was handled much more efficiently on Princess Cays, and even back on Cococay when I was last there. The landscaping and bar around the BBQ facility doesn't allow for very cohesive lines, so there were TONS of people weaving in all directions waiting for food. And it did NOT go quickly. There also wasn't a great deal of shade, so it got hot standing there. The sun doesn't bother me much, but I knew it would be difficult for my parents. So we waited in line, filling four plates with food and simply stacking the extra plates underneath. My husband stuck all the extra cutlery and napkins in his pockets, and we got enough food for the six of us. 

 

They had some self serve fruit and salads, but the hot food consisted of: hot dogs, burgers, fish tacos, rice and beans, and some white fish. It was really all quite delicious and I was pleasantly surprised! Much better than the food on Princess Cays! They also had some yummy desserts the kids were excited about.

 

Once we finished eating, we spent another couple of hours playing in the water with the kids. It was just such a beautiful day!

 

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Before we knew it, our time was up and we needed to head back to the tender queue.

 

This was the last picture I took, and you can see the beach had alread started emptying out. The time stamp on this picture was 2:05pm, and the last tender was at 2:30pm.

 

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Oh my goodness, the line was INSANE. It took us 90 minutes to get back to the ship. Waiting in line and waiting as they filled the tender. It was a very long and hot process, and the lines were very long. I'm not sure what made the process so inefficient? Everyone seemed to have their cards out and ready, and bags prepared for the security scanners. I know tender ports typically require more patience and time, but this was quite exhausting. We ended up sailing late that day, and I don't think the last tender arrived until well after 4pm.

 

Still, it didn't spoil the beautiful day we enjoyed at HMC!

 

More to come!

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Just got caught up with all your reports of San Juan, St Thomas and HMC.

 

Love the details of all your reports and pictures.

 

We have been to all those ports many times.  HMC -- we go over for a while, have a cocktail and then head back to the ship for lunch.  

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3 hours ago, Krazy Kruizers said:

Just got caught up with all your reports of San Juan, St Thomas and HMC.

 

Love the details of all your reports and pictures.

 

We have been to all those ports many times.  HMC -- we go over for a while, have a cocktail and then head back to the ship for lunch.  

Thanks for reading along! If we wouldn't have had children that needed to eat, I would have been happy to simply have a cocktail (or two!) and skip the buffet lines! 😉 Given the tendering situation, it probably would have been nice to head back much earlier and miss the chaos! But we had such a short day there as it was, it would have been a shame to shorten it anymore...

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After finally making it back onboard, we didn't have very much time to clean up before heading to dinner! 

 

I had the scallop entree on this particular night, and it was perfect!!

 

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For dessert we had these hazelnut chocolate bars that were also delicious!

 

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Following dinner we decided to head to the World Stage on Deck 2 for the encore performance with Ken Boyd and Joseph Reohm. Basically, one started with a bit of comedy, and then there was a brief magic show. Our kids really enjoyed it! We got called out by the comedian and I just wanted to sink down into my chair, but it was a fun evening. 🙂

 

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 I really love that the entertainment is family friendly on Holland America. During my February cruise on the Carnival Liberty, I took my friend (who is new to cruising) to the marriage show. I've seen this show probably 15 times on various cruises, and it's always hilarious and just a bit naughty. Oh my goodness, it was definitely rated MA and completely tacky and out of control.One man actually took off his pants! :classic_blink: We stopped by one of the comedians as well, and it was just vulgar with crass language and not even funny! It was a refreshing change to be able to take our kids to a performance like this on HAL!

 

I'm sad to say, after the show was done, our cruise was pretty much done as well. 😞 We headed back to the cabin to get situated for the night, and I decided to briefly head out to the casino to see if I could win back my losses ($140) from the week. I'm happy to say I won back over $100, and was smart enough to cash out!!!

 

One more post coming about our disembarkation...

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The next morning we were up bright and early to pack up and get ready to say goodbye to the NS. Yes, I said pack up. We don't begin packing until the morning of disembarkation! I think with little kids, we need so many things, it's just not practical to partially pack the day before. Plus, space was so limited in our cabin, it just wasn't possible! 

 

Our view as we pulled into port at 6:45am:

 

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Unlike some other cruiselines, I love that HAL provides room service on disembarkation days. It made it very easy to get the kids settled with their food, while we packed us all up!

 

I will say, if you are in a cabin like ours and use the sofa bed, make sure you really pull it all apart and search underneath it before vacating your cabin. I found some really nice prescription glasses under ours. I started digging around because I couldn't find my watch or my wedding ring! Sure enough, during the night they both fell from the nightstand into the bed folding mechanism and under the bed! 

 

I was so happy that we were able to stay in our cabin until 8:30am! We made sure to clean it up for our steward, throwing away all the old papers and garbage and such. I appreciated not being kicked out too early.

 

We got in line with our luggage and the entire process getting off the ship was very smooth and efficient! I was so sad to say goodbye to the NS!

 

One more post to come about our post-cruise night in Fort Lauderdale!

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Thank you so much, I've loved your review and photos!

Also, just had to add, I couldn't agree more about the buffoons who will get in front of you -- wow, anchoring their beach canopy to your chair?!?  Seems to happen everywhere, some people just don't have a clue.  Kind of like when you have a brand new car, take care to park it far away from anyone else in a huge parking lot -- and sure enough, someone will  park right on top of you. 🤣

Edited by Cruising-along

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1 hour ago, sailawaybellaluna said:

Thanks for reading along! If we wouldn't have had children that needed to eat, I would have been happy to simply have a cocktail (or two!) and skip the buffet lines! 😉 Given the tendering situation, it probably would have been nice to head back much earlier and miss the chaos! But we had such a short day there as it was, it would have been a shame to shorten it anymore...

 

 

I know what you mean.  There was a time when we would be there from 8 until 4 or 4:30 -- lots of time to enjoy the island.

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1 hour ago, sailawaybellaluna said:

After finally making it back onboard, we didn't have very much time to clean up before heading to dinner! 

 

I had the scallop entree on this particular night, and it was perfect!!

 

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For dessert we had these hazelnut chocolate bars that were also delicious!

 

enhance

 

Following dinner we decided to head to the World Stage on Deck 2 for the encore performance with Ken Boyd and Joseph Reohm. Basically, one started with a bit of comedy, and then there was a brief magic show. Our kids really enjoyed it! We got called out by the comedian and I just wanted to sink down into my chair, but it was a fun evening. 🙂

 

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 I really love that the entertainment is family friendly on Holland America. During my February cruise on the Carnival Liberty, I took my friend (who is new to cruising) to the marriage show. I've seen this show probably 15 times on various cruises, and it's always hilarious and just a bit naughty. Oh my goodness, it was definitely rated MA and completely tacky and out of control.One man actually took off his pants! :classic_blink: We stopped by one of the comedians as well, and it was just vulgar with crass language and not even funny! It was a refreshing change to be able to take our kids to a performance like this on HAL!

 

I'm sad to say, after the show was done, our cruise was pretty much done as well. 😞 We headed back to the cabin to get situated for the night, and I decided to briefly head out to the casino to see if I could win back my losses ($140) from the week. I'm happy to say I won back over $100, and was smart enough to cash out!!!

 

One more post coming about our disembarkation...

 

Even though we do not have any children so still do not like shows that Carnival has.

 

Congratulations on your casino winnings.

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I have been reading along.  Wonderful review.  We have never sailed with HAL, but after following along, we will probably give them a try.    Thank you!

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I always loved the times when we were able to stay in our cabin until our number was called.

 

But once I had to start having wheelchair assistance, I had to be in a certain lounge by 8:15 even though many times we didn't get off the ship until well after 9.

 

Looking forward to your final night in Ft Lauderdale.

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On 5/1/2019 at 4:50 PM, sailawaybellaluna said:
On 4/30/2019 at 10:14 AM, sailawaybellaluna said:

When I booked this cruise last year, I got a steal on the VH category balcony cabin. It was "partially obstructed". I had spent quite a bit of time looking at the deck plans and similar cabins on the Konningsdam (sister ship). I chose 4052. 

 

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I enjoyed your review and photos very much! Thank you for taking the time to do it. I especially love your details and tips. We also travel with little ones, so your review was very helpful. We will be on the Nieuw Statendam in December on the same itinerary. We were originally booked in a VH. 4052 was available, but I picked 4062. We actually just switched it to a balcony on Deck 8 and after seeing your pictures, I'm happy we did. We had a partial obstruction balcony on the Celebrity Equinox with the lifeboats on a deck below. It wasn't bad at all, so we thought we could handle it on the NS. These VHs are too obstructed! By the way, did you kids go to the kids club?

 

On 5/1/2019 at 4:50 PM, sailawaybellaluna said:

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I've been hoping to find a picture of what the room looks like with the bunk down. Thanks! As others have mentioned, I wish they had the bed configuration like Disney and Carnival with a flip over sofa and bunk on top.

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3 hours ago, Cruising-along said:

Thank you so much, I've loved your review and photos!

Also, just had to add, I couldn't agree more about the buffoons who will get in front of you -- wow, anchoring their beach canopy to your chair?!?  Seems to happen everywhere, some people just don't have a clue.  Kind of like when you have a brand new car, take care to park it far away from anyone else in a huge parking lot -- and sure enough, someone will  park right on top of you. 🤣

Thanks for reading along! I felt like maybe I shouldn't have included that portion of the review mentioning the huge beach canopy. But I was just so annoyed about it!! 😉 And you are exactly right about the brand new car in the parking lot - ha! 

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55 minutes ago, sailawaybellaluna said:

Thanks for reading along! I felt like maybe I shouldn't have included that portion of the review mentioning the huge beach canopy. But I was just so annoyed about it!! 😉 And you are exactly right about the brand new car in the parking lot - ha! 

I prefer reviews with the good and the not so good! 🙂  We've all been there, makes it more real 😉  

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2 hours ago, sailawaybellaluna said:

Thanks for reading along! I felt like maybe I shouldn't have included that portion of the review mentioning the huge beach canopy. But I was just so annoyed about it!! 😉 And you are exactly right about the brand new car in the parking lot - ha! 

If they planned to stake out some substantial  real estate on HMC beach, then they should have had the initiative to get up early like you did. Some folks are just thoughtless. Glad you made the best of it. We love HMC. That sand is just so sugary. 

 

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20 hours ago, lkj1301 said:

I have been reading along.  Wonderful review.  We have never sailed with HAL, but after following along, we will probably give them a try.    Thank you!

Yes, you should ! It's really a special cruising experience in my opinion, especially compared to Carnival and Royal!

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On 5/1/2019 at 8:47 AM, TriumphGuy said:

Nice report and photos. That cabin looks positively spacious compared to the balcony cabins on Princess' ships. At least there is a place to sit! 
We'll be on NS next year for a transatlantic, so your photos and reports are quite useful. Thank you!

I agree, Princess Regal and Royal balcony cabins are small.  And with ONLY 1 chair to sit on too.  At least HAL's cabins give you a place to sit.

The ship looks beautiful.  We will be moving back to HAL.

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On 5/8/2019 at 10:43 AM, Heyitsege said:

 

I enjoyed your review and photos very much! Thank you for taking the time to do it. I especially love your details and tips. We also travel with little ones, so your review was very helpful. We will be on the Nieuw Statendam in December on the same itinerary. We were originally booked in a VH. 4052 was available, but I picked 4062. We actually just switched it to a balcony on Deck 8 and after seeing your pictures, I'm happy we did. We had a partial obstruction balcony on the Celebrity Equinox with the lifeboats on a deck below. It wasn't bad at all, so we thought we could handle it on the NS. These VHs are too obstructed! By the way, did you kids go to the kids club?

 

 

I've been hoping to find a picture of what the room looks like with the bunk down. Thanks! As others have mentioned, I wish they had the bed configuration like Disney and Carnival with a flip over sofa and bunk on top.

I'm so happy you saw my review and switched to a balcony cabin on Deck 8! I was actually quite shocked when I entered to the cabin and saw just how obstructed it really was!

 

And I agree with you regarding the bed configuration...So inconvenient! 

 

Hope you enjoy the NS in December! It's a great itinerary!!

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We have really enjoyed your review!! We will be on the Nieuw Statendam next February. We are already counting the days........

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Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a detailed review ... along with your photos.  

We just booked the Koningsdam for next year and have found very little information about that ship ... so this definitely helped us a lot and now, I really feel like I made a great decision for our vacation next year.  

 

You mentioned your stateroom was so small.  Would you happen to know the sq footage?  It looked roomy compared to the cabins on the Princess ships on which we've sailed.  Usually, those are the smallest cabins I am willing to book.  

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On 5/9/2019 at 6:39 PM, Cruise Raider said:

Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a detailed review ... along with your photos.  

We just booked the Koningsdam for next year and have found very little information about that ship ... so this definitely helped us a lot and now, I really feel like I made a great decision for our vacation next year.  

 

You mentioned your stateroom was so small.  Would you happen to know the sq footage?  It looked roomy compared to the cabins on the Princess ships on which we've sailed.  Usually, those are the smallest cabins I am willing to book.  

Thank you for reading along!

 

Supposedly our cabin was 228 sq ft, including the balcony. I think it's also important to note that the bathroom (particularly the nice shower), is a bit larger than most other cabins I've sailed in, so I think this accounts for a bit of that square footage! I don't mind a particularly small cabin, it was the layout (for 4 people) that was quite difficult for us.

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