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Recently off the Nieuw Amsterdam - A quick review with my views!


sayvan
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A bit late pulling this together as we just returned home after spending some time after the cruise in our home away from home in Fort Lauderdale. We live in Ontario Canada (unless we are in Fort Lauderdale) and recently retired.  

 

I'll start off with a little background. 

 

We cruised on the Nieuw Amsterdam for 7 days,  embarking on November 6th and debarking on November 13th. We had an Inside room on the Rotterdam floor (7th Floor) #7035. I'll talk about the room later. Now this was only our second ever cruise on Holland America. Our first cruise was back in 2007 on the Rotterdam in Europe.

Needless to say, that after that cruise we were totally hooked and have since done close to forty (40) cruises, with just under Four Hundred (400)  days at sea.  The majority of those "other" cruises have been on Celebrity, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Princess. We have also been on NCL as well.  Moving forward we are cruising starting in January straight thru until the end of March on four (4) different cruise lines one of which will be twenty-one (21) days  back to Holland America on the new Rotterdam (also need to say that as a Canadian I'm nowhere close to being a hearty winter guy so I require trips south to maintain my sanity (not to mention my tan). 

 

So with that in mind,  we thought we needed to try HAL again before we embark on her for twenty-one (21) days straight in February. 

 

Now with all the other cruises we have had (and we are mostly loyal to Celebrity), we came into this one promising ourselves not to compare.  After all, there really is no point in comparing. In all my experience of cruising,  I find that each is unique in their own way and once you fall down the "comparison hole" you start to take away from the enjoyment that's right in front of you....although I will say I do have some slight comparisons but maybe I should just call those issues for the "suggestion box". 

 

Feel free to ask me any questions you may have and I may or may not have an answer. I also know that some CC members on here may have been on the same cruise and we did meet some folks who may still be on her as they had multiple B2B's booked. However, remember... my review and my thoughts... you may have had different experiences, positive or negative. I'm not about to bash HAL at all. In fact we thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. So lets get started..... 

 

 

 

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Ok... Lets start with Embarkation!

 

Our boarding time originally started off at 11:20 am and then a few days prior to embarkation it changed to 11:40 am. Not a big deal. We took an Uber from our place in Fort Lauderdale to the port which was around  $15.  Getting to the port was easy. Fort Lauderdale is great for that. 

 

Once in the terminal we moved through the initial check-in extremely quick. From curb to completed check-in was about  15 minutes tops. Then we hit a wall.... 

 

I had read on CC and heard via the grapevine that HAL had slow boarding process but I had figured how bad could it be. Once through the check-in process we were provided with a number and then directed to a sitting area in the terminal. Our number was 11. We then sat waiting for our number to be called. As it turned out the embarkation process had not even started yet.  We waited about 30 minutes for the process to begin with the terminal quickly filling up with folks waiting to embark. Once they started calling the group numbers the process did pick up and all in all,  about an hour after arriving at the terminal we were making our way onboard. 

 

If I had to score the embarkation process I would give it a 5/10. I am not sure if this is the norm with HAL but I would say they have some work to do on a more fluid embarkation process. Why assign times if you have to sit around and wait? then again, perhaps there were some issues with the previous cruise debarkation...either way we were now on the ship and off to explore! 

 

 

 

 

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As I stated earlier, we had booked an inside room #7035. I have to admit for an inside room, it was actually rather spacious. The room was quiet, we hardly heard any of our neighbours. Occasionally you would hear someone in the hallway but frankly that's no different than any room. Storage space was more than adequate and in fact we didn't even use all of it. I also found it interesting that we had two sliding drawers under the foot of the bed. Again, ample space.  The 7th floor on the Nieuw Amsterdam is mostly a suite floor. We had picked this area because we had heard that because it was a suite floor the service was extra good... it did not disappoint...even for us insiders.... 

 

I would also say I was surprised by the size of the bathroom in the room. It was very spacious. Again its of storage and good size shower. If I had a recommendation on this however I would have preferred  glass doors on the shower rather than a simple curtain. 

 

My rating on the room 10/10. 

 

if I can figure out how to post some pics on here I will. 

Edited by sayvan
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Ok... Moving on to the food onboard.

 

This is a topic that is so subjective really... what I like you may not and what I dislike you may love... 

 

I've read so many threads about how the food on cruise ships has taken a turn for the worse. Honestly, I would love to know what folks are cooking and eating at home. I have zero complaints about the food. It was excellent wherever we went.  Plus I didn't have to clean it up afterward! 

 

The Lido buffet was great. Lots of options and honestly the sandwiches were some of the best I have ever had on a cruiseship. The pizza was hot and fresh and cooked to order. Yes,  there was a bit of a wait once you ordered but no big deal. Where else was I going to go right? The burger place however seemed to me to be disorganized and had extremely long waiting times. In fact, one time I waited close to 40 minutes for a burger.... I did find that a tad unusual from my previous experiences with burger joints on a cruise ship... but hey I'm not comparing,  remember? 

 

Getting back to the Buffet,  I did think it seemed to close down earlier than I would have liked during the afternoon. I found that usually most stations were closed by 2:30,  give or take. This was a bit of a pain when returning after being in port for the day and it did limit what you could get for a late lunch. That being said, it was probably a blessing in disguise forcing me to have a smaller sandwich or salad. My waistline was appreciative of these odd shutdown times. 

 

My overall  buffet rating was 7/10. 

 

The main dining room.... 

 

We ate here most nights. We had anytime dining and really only had to wait a couple of times. I did find that there seemed to be a push to have people sit at a table with a group of others, which we did do on occasion but otherwise they would accommodate a request for two (just with a bit longer wait). The food was more than just fine. It was great in fact. The menu's had ample selection and yes cruise lines are now starting to charge for some things that used to be free on the menu...Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, Lobster etc, but considering all the losses during the pandemic they have to try and make that up somehow and it must be working cause they keep charging so people are paying! We did not see this as an issue. 

 

The service in the Main dining room was fabulous and we had 3 or 4 different servers throughout the cruise. These folks work very hard to provide us with a decent experience and they did succeed. 

 

The dress code for the most part (and I'm not about to debate dress codes) was casual and the classy nights was a mixture of everything. I will say that I was surprised to see many men and some woman wearing shorts in the main dining room. I could actually care less as that does not impact my experience in anyway and if it did then I'm the one who needs to take a look at himself,  but I was surprised to see how frequent it was in the main dining room. Seemed a tad out of the ordinary, whatever ordinary is theses days. 

 

Overall, main dining room experience 10/10! good job HAL

 

Specialty Restaurants.... We had the HIA package so we had one specialty restaurant on this cruise. We choose Tamarind. I can't say enough how much we enjoyed this. The service was spectacular and the food was even better. I had a freebie for it but I would not hesitate to pay to go to this restaurant on our next cruise. The options on the menu were plenty and our servers provided great recommendations.  I highly recommend this dining experience if you have not been. 10/10 for me! 

 

Up next Ports of call! 

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I am enjoying your review, I am returning to cruising in March on the Rotterdam since the pandemic and am reading everyone’s reviews………looking forward to the rest…….

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I'm here following along @sayvan!  I was on Nieuw Amsterdam from September 25 to October 25, 2022, and so far, had a very similar experience to what you had.  I never had to wait more than about 10 minutes at Dive Inn burgers though.  Probably because I went in the later afternoon rather that right at lunch times.  I found their chicken sandwich to be one of my new favorites there.  I asked for two chicken pieces on it though because the pieces were a little too small for me and they normally serve one.  My requests were cheerfully fulfilled!

 

The crew on NA were really nice and I actually heard them joking around and singing amongst themselves in the lido and behind the Ocean Bar area!  So nice to see a happy crew who enjoyed working together!  Happy Crew=Happy Passengers!  The ship management must be doing something right on there!  

 

~Nancy

Edited by oakridger
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Great tidbit about booking an inside on the 7th floor instead of other decks. I've yet to have a mediocre cabin attendant on HAL, but that's a pretty clever strategy. Thank you for putting your thoughts and keen observations out for everyone on this board.

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6 hours ago, doone said:

I am enjoying your review, I am returning to cruising in March on the Rotterdam since the pandemic and am reading everyone’s reviews………looking forward to the rest…….

Well we will be on the Rotterdam for most of February so I’ll try and do a bit of a live review when the time comes…. 

 

6 hours ago, oakridger said:

I'm here following along @sayvan!  I was on Nieuw Amsterdam from September 25 to October 25, 2022, and so far, had a very similar experience to what you had.  I never had to wait more than about 10 minutes at Dive Inn burgers though.  Probably because I went in the later afternoon rather that right at lunch times.  I found their chicken sandwich to be one of my new favorites there.  I asked for two chicken pieces on it though because the pieces were a little too small for me and they normally serve one.  My requests were cheerfully fulfilled!

 

The crew on NA were really nice and I actually heard them joking around and singing amongst themselves in the lido and behind the Ocean Bar area!  So nice to see a happy crew who enjoyed working together!  Happy Crew=Happy Passengers!  The ship management must be doing something right on there!  

 

~Nancy

The crew was outstanding all around.  No complaints there.  I think maybe the problem at the Dive Inn was that the lido seemed to close early so everyone was heading for a burger… 

 

4 hours ago, zounds said:

Thanks very much for the in-depth review.  We'll be on her in Dec. and sailed on her last Dec. as well.  How was the entertainment ?

I’ll get to the entertainment tomorrow… 

 

4 hours ago, vicd1969 said:

Great tidbit about booking an inside on the 7th floor instead of other decks. I've yet to have a mediocre cabin attendant on HAL, but that's a pretty clever strategy. Thank you for putting your thoughts and keen observations out for everyone on this board.

thanks… our travel agent actually gave us that tip… 
 

3 hours ago, Bemidji Ty said:

Thanks for your time and effort in posting this review.  Appreciated.  Cheers.

 Not a problem… I’ve read so many reviews on here I wanted to give some thoughts back 
 

1 hour ago, DaveOKC said:

Good to hear your thoughts on the NA as we will be on her for two back to back cruises in Feb.

 

Enjoy… we had a great time! 

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Thanks for your great review, we sail on the NA on Dec. 4th which along with the Eurodam are our favorite HAL ships. We've always had great cruises with HAL but I was starting to get concerned as some reviews lately have been on the negative side but your review makes me feel a lot better.

 

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Ok ... I think perhaps I have figured out how to upload some photos taken on my iPhone 14 Pro. I didn't realize I had to convert the HEIC file to JPG. 

 

This is our inside cabin #7035. As you can see it was small yet spacious. 

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Edited by sayvan
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Ok... Where was I.... Ports of call;

 

As I mentioned above this was a 7 day Itinerary and Western Caribbean Adventure. 

 

The cruise went as follows:

Day 1 - Fort Lauderdale

Day 2 - Half Moon Cay

Day 3 - Sea Day

Day 4 - Ocho Rios, Jamaica 

Day 5 - Georgetown, Grand Cayman

Day 6 - Cozumel, Mexico

Day 7 - Sea Day

 

When we left Fort Lauderdale enroute to Half Moon Cay we had a bit of a rocky night on the ship as Hurricane Nicole was starting to form toward San Juan... when I say rocky,  you definitely felt the movement of the ship throughout most of the night and at one pint the night table drawer near the bed kept opening and closing.... however fortunately for this journey that would be all we would see of Nicole the rest of the trip. In fact, you wouldn't have even known a Hurricane was out there somewhere. The weather was perfect the rest of the way. 

 

Fist stop Half Moon Cay:

 

This was our first time at Half Moon Cay. In fact,  in all my crushes the only private islands we have experienced was on Royal Caribbean. Remember though I will not compare! 

 

Half Moon Cay required a tender for those of you not familiar with this. The tender was,  quite frankly,  a breeze both going and retuning. We set out for the island around 10 am.. Went down to the floor where the tenders were located, which was floor "0",  scanned our cards and got on the tender. There was no wait at all. Very efficient process. The only wait was while the tender filled up. The tender boats used were double decker type boats with a lower inside area and an upper outside area. We prefer the top for the views. 

 

Once on the island, it was a matter of familiarizing ourselves with our surroundings and deciding where to go for the day. We basically headed directly for the beach. 

 

There were ample chairs available and we set up near a bar.  We enjoyed a nice beach day and the waters were a beautiful aqua blue colour with powder white sands. A fabulous stop. 

 

Ok... so this is where I have a slight concern. While on the ship we had the drink package. However, unlike other cruise lines (not a comparison but more of an observation) the drink package at HAL is not applicable to Half Moon Cay. I do not understand that. If I paid for the package why would it not carry over to the cruise lines private island? My experience on other lines is that it very much is useable when on the private island. I found this to be very odd and frankly a bit of a rip off. 

 

The BBQ lunch on the island was just that. A BBQ lunch. There was nothing earth shattering about the lunch but there was nothing to complain about either. They had all the BBQ favourites including ribs and chicken as well as hotdogs and hamburgers. Lots of salads and desserts as well. 

 

We really did enjoy Half Moon Cay. I thought the island was well maintained and the weather was superb the day we were there.  I rate it a solid 8/10 (not a perfect score because of the drink package situation). 

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Following the sea day the next stop was Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

 

Now we have been to this spot before and we have done the Dunns River Falls and the All inclusive resorts for the day etc.. So our plan for this day was to get off the ship and just hang out on the beach. There are a few beaches to go to immediately off the ship. When you get off the ship and walk into the port town to your left is Turtle Beach... You can see the beach from the ship as well.  It's about a 10 minute walk and there is a minimum fee of $10 I think it was. As a loyal Parrothead,  I couldn't miss a stop that has a Margaritaville. Now this is a little more pricey to get in but if you buy food you get a bit of discount on your entrance fee which I think was around $40 for the two of us with an umbrella and two  beach chairs at Margaritaville. However, we did learn once on the beach that other folks were charged more for the same. I guess it depended on who you spoke to at the entrance.  The beach at Margaritaville is smaller and a little more crowded then Turtle Beach we found,  but overall it suited us for the day.  We spent most of the day at the beach and probably got back on the ship about 45 minutes before last call for boarding. A good day once again... 

 

A few shots from the day...

 

IMG_3683.thumb.jpg.52787eb9b7ea253002ca3ffb8c39f6d7.jpg

 

IMG_3685.thumb.jpg.e7a61375c4fe8dae6fd0d38c91800e8e.jpgTurtle Bay Beach from the ship 

 

IMG_3655.thumb.jpg.9acc9e833b29a0974b1c1d61a4c30e57.jpg Margaritaville 

IMG_3656.thumb.jpg.5e20c66ffb3215b7028f8a24d3610b3f.jpg

 

IMG_3660.thumb.jpg.35f87013aeb2fe8e17bf78b4a63a53e2.jpg

 

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We were on the same week and had an amazing time. I agree with the HMC and HIA beverage nonsense but I would venture to guess because HMC is used by both HAL and Carnival they’d have to figure out a way to merge the POS system for it to work for both companies. Just spitballing. We rented the Private Oasis for our group of 10 and it was fabulous! We only ate in the MDR once for breakfast and it was atrocious-food and service both. Waited forever and didn’t get half of what we ordered. We chose to do Lido or specialty for dinner to avoid that mess. I will also say I saw people (men) in shorts in the specialty restaurants. Except of course when my son walked in his shorts because he forgot (he’s 22 and has a memory as long as his arm!), he was sent back to change. 

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Grand Cayman is next....

 

Once again, we have been to Grand Cayman numerous times but this would be our first time back since the pandemic and the island reopened. 

 

Grand Cayman is a great stop for shoppers and those that love to scuba or snorkel. Lots  of options for that. Our stop today was going to be 7 mile beach. Fun fact... it's actually only about 6.3 miles. 

 

7 mile beach is the main tourist beach area on Grand Cayman. The tender operation was again very efficient and we had no wait at all when getting on the tender. Likewise, when we returned. I always worry about the long lines when it comes to a tender but HAL did a great job on keeping the flow moving. 

 

The taxi ride to the beach was $10 per person each way. If you are not familiar with the island taxi service it's basically a mini bus seating about 10-12 people. Patience is key when riding with these taxis because they want the taxi full before they leave and they will wait for that to happen. Sit bak and remember you're on island time and these folks need a full taxi to make a living... 

 

The ride to the beach was about 15-20 minutes, so you need to keep that in mind when returning to catch the ship. You don't want to be a runner or in the case of Grand Cayman a swimmer if you miss the last tender. 

 

We spent the day at the beach. We paid $20 for two beach chairs and an umbrella. The person who brought us our chairs and umbrella also took care of us throughout the day for any drinks or food we wanted. I highly recommend the Rum Punch. 

 

The beach was very crowded on this day as there were, I think 4 cruise ships in port that day. The water was beautiful but a bit rough, making it hard to get in at first with the waves... once past the initial break you were able to enjoy the water... 

 

I'll let the pictures tell the rest. 

7 Mile Beach 

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HIMG_3724.thumb.jpg.e88581039c9ff1af9f98b5eb29ee7a15.jpgHeading back to the ship

 

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A rainbow while we sail away from Grand Cayman 

 

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Thanks for your review, @sayvan!!

 

From Koningsdam I remeber that the Billboard Lounge hat a small buffet with fingerfood/snacks, whichis also featured on Nieuw Statendam and Rotterdam. Did Billboard on Nieuw Amsterdam feature it as well?

I consider Nieuw Amsterdam for early 2024 in the Caribbean.

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3 minutes ago, shipfriend_max said:

Thanks for your review, @sayvan!!

 

From Koningsdam I remeber that the Billboard Lounge hat a small buffet with fingerfood/snacks, whichis also featured on Nieuw Statendam and Rotterdam. Did Billboard on Nieuw Amsterdam feature it as well?

I consider Nieuw Amsterdam for early 2024 in the Caribbean.

 I recall they had different "happy hour" events at different bars and although I did not attend I did hear that they had some finger foods/snacks around. I also recall on sea days they had the afternoon tea as well. 

 

10 minutes ago, 0106 said:

@sayvan Thank you for your review.  I am interested in the activities on the ship during the sea days.  Were there any special events like cooking classes or lectures?

 

they had different lecture on board during the sea days and I believe during some port days as well. There were some mixology classes  but I can't recall if they had any cooking classes. I unfortuantely didn't keep any of the daily activities as I found the HAL app to be all that was needed. Everything was located for each day on the app.  

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