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Live from Nieuw Statendam - Legends of the Fjords, May 28 to June 9

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"And another from Analog187! Thank you for generously sharing your time at sea with everyone at Cruise Critic!"

Analog187 was awarded the badge '"Live from...."' and 5 points.

This is somewhere around my 35th cruise.  Been on RCL, NCL, X, Princess and Carnival.  I don't really have a favorite but the bulk of my experience is with NCL and RCL.  So this is my first HAL cruise.  Read and saw a lot about it so I was looking forward to a more premium experience.  We are both in our mid-40s, together for 9 years, live in Florida and we are both retired although I'm not a travel blogger but I wouldn't consider that a job, more of a fun hobby.  My reviews are a little different I guess because I talk about the good and the bad.  Some of it may sound like nitpicking or that I'm difficult but I'm actually really easy going.  Some issues are more important to others so I just like to put it all out there.  I'm sure plenty of people on this same cruise would disagree with my opinions so take them as just one of many data points.  With that out of the way....

Day 1


We spent 3 days in Amsterdam as my wife has never been there.  We had a good time and I think 3 days is the perfect amount of time there unless you're gonna do some day trips.  Our checkout time was 11am and our boarding time was 12:10 so we figured we'd just go to the port with all of our luggage and wait for our time.  When we got there, no one cared about check in time so they just told us to get online.  Everything went really smooth and we were on the ship in 25 minutes.  One of the faster times that I can ever remember. 


We were able to go right to our room which was really nice.  We got a standard balcony cabin and it's fairly standard.  It wasn't fully cleaned so we had to call to get that taken care of.   Our room steward told us that turn down service was by request only which was fine since we don't really need that anyway.  The actual balcony feels larger than others we've had.  While we don't have loungers (not that I would expect that) there are these ottoman type things that you can put your feet on so it's kind of like having a lounger.  It's a nice touch.  The shower has a door which is really nice so that the bathroom doesn't flood.  The shower has great water pressure.  There's a good amount of storage too.  So while the room is mostly standard, it's probably a little better than average.  Robes are included in the room.


The bed is not great which is the standard for cruises it seems.  We ever got an egg crate put on it and that didn't really help too much.  But this is probably personal preference.  If you like a firm bed, you probably won't have an issue.  Another standard problem we have is that the room does not get cold enough at night.  We had trouble sleeping because it was so warm but again, this is a problem for us on just about every ship.  On this cruise, we'll try to leave our balcony door open like we did in Alaska.  That should help.   


We then went up to lunch and while nothing blew me away, the food was a little better than other cruises.  It seems like most cruise burgers (although I haven't tried the ones on Carnival in many years) are pretty bad.  These were good, nothing amazing but not horrible.  Everything else I had was fine.  The presentation at the buffet is really nice but it doesn't quite match the food for us at least.  For the two other free restaurants, Dive In and New York Deli and Pizza, you have to order on the app. That's a lot better than standing around.  You are supposed to get a notification when your food is ready but when I exited the app, I didn't get it.  Don't know if that is just my phone or what.  Great concept though and it was easy to use.


I should probably mention the demographics.  I'd say the average age was 60 with 55 to 65 probably being the biggest group.  There's only about a dozen kids, mostly younger.  Didn't see any teenagers.  There was one 22 year old guy.  I didn't see a lot of people that were our age.  Lots of different languages but I assume that other than English, Dutch is the most common language.  


We then explored the ship.  It's a decent size, not too big, not too small.  Pool area is really nice.  I like that you can just grab a towel instead of looking for someone at a towel desk.  I relaxed in the hot tub which was nice but like most hot tubs on cruises, it was more warm than hot.  We then got ready for sail away.  They opened the bow which was really nice.  It was cold and windy up there but it was great to watch us sail out of Amsterdam.  That takes hours to do so we went and got dinner at the buffet.  We didn't want to deal with the MDR since that would take up too much time.


The buffet for dinner was very chaotic and they probably underestimated how many people would be eating around 5:30.  It was a mobscene especially because the big thing was mussels.  The line was probably over 20 people deep which blocked access to other food.  Very bad set up on HALs part.  Other sides of the buffet were not open which would have reduced crowding.  Don't know if this is a staffing issue or what.  Was not really impressed with the food.  Pretty standard and I thought it would be better. 


By about 7:15 we hid the locks.  Not nearly as exciting as the Panama Canal of course but it was still cool to see.  It was the first time my wife has ever gone through a lock and that was nice to watch from the bow.  By the time we were through the show in the theater (Cantare) had already started.  We popped in to see if it was anything we were interested in and nope, it wasn't our thing so we bailed on that.  We're not into those singing shows.


My wife is into trivia so we went to music trivia.  Not really my thing at all but the guy running it was awesome.  He made it so much fun.  She drags me to a lot of trivia on ships and they are usually very boring (for me anyway) as it's usually someone just reading questions and answers.  This guy was dancing and everything.  He'd made a good cruise director some day because he has the personality for it.


We then went to the casino.  After you spend $50 you get $25 in free play which was nice.  My wife didn't do so great but I had a really nice winning streak.  I have never gambled on a ship before but I figured I'd gamble a little on this ship to get on their radar for cruise offers.  The smoke wasn't horrible for the most part which was nice.  There was only a few minutes where someone close to me was smoking and it was pretty bad.  I was there for an hour and a half and for the most of that time, it was tolerable.  I couldn't even walk through casinos in other ships.  Other than that, I have nothing else to really compare this to but I thought it was nice and the casino host (I assume that's who she was) was always available.  


Overall impression on day 1 is that HAL does some stuff different which is nice but I'm really feeling the premium experience.  I wasn't expecting a luxury cruise experience but I was expecting something better than NCL and RCL.  I'm not really feeling that yet but it's early.  I do like the unlimited internet though.  That's a nice touch and was included as part of the have it all package. Have not been impressed by the drinks and the coke is horrible.  The cans are from South Africa so I don't know if they make it different there or what but it's really, really bad.  Not sure what's up with that.  



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Thanks for this!  I'll be doing a solo cruise on Nieuw Statendam out of Copenhagen in July.  I'm 40, first HAL so a little worried about the demographics but I don't cruise with the expectation of making friends so I'm sure I'll be fine.  I do really like shows and it sounds like HAL doesn't really do large production shows.  Hopefully I'll find something to enjoy.

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8 hours ago, Analog187 said:

we'll try to leave our balcony door open

Please don't. 

Read the notice (behind the drape?) and appreciate that others may be affected by your action.

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2 hours ago, singleflyer said:

 I do really like shows and it sounds like HAL doesn't really do large production shows.  Hopefully I'll find something to enjoy.


The dance show tonight was good if you're into that.  The game shows are fun.  We're here for the amazing scenery more than anything else. 

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1 hour ago, cruising sister said:

Just a comment on Dive In and NY deli. You do not have to order in app. You can walk up and order. Also, make sure you visit the Dutch Cafe. Yummy. 

I tried to walk up at Dive and they said no, app only.  

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Day 2

One thing I forgot about day 1 is that I went to the buffet at 10:30pm to see what snacks they had.  There must have been 300 people there.  The line was over 20 deep and they didn't have much open.  Again, they either did not anticipate how hungry people would be on this cruise or they do not have proper staff.  Probably both.


For breakfast we went to the buffet.  I was hoping things would have cleared out by 9am but it was mobbed. Almost nowhere to sit.  In about 20 minutes, there was pretty much nowhere to sit.  Lines were pretty long but the wait for the omelet station wasn't that long.  Not sure what the deal is but these were the worst omelets we've ever had on a cruise.  Not sure if it was the type of egg but they were a different color.  I'll have to try something different tomorrow but breakfast did not impress.


For most of the day we hung out by the pool.  We were on the second floor on this big chair thing.  I was surprised to see a lot of chairs available around 9:45ish but by about 10:15, a lot were taken.  Didn't go in the pool but from what I could feel, it seemed like a good temp.  Spent some time in the hot tub and the sauna.  Despite being somewhat hidden, a lot of people somehow found it.  It's a little cramped and there's nowhere to really put your stuff but free saunas are hard to come by on cruises now so I cannot complain.  It was really nice to relax there and sweat.  


For lunch we had pizza at the NY Deli.  Kind of an odd system where you can order some things on the app but not everything.  For example, you cannot order a plain pizza.  Don't know why that is, but that's how the app is set up.  You can order it at the deli itself and they give you a buzzer.  Took about 15 minutes but it was worth the wait.  For a cruise ship, it's pretty good pizza.  Really nice.


One thing my wife noticed was the complete lack of service by the pool.  We were there for half the day and not once did someone ask us for a drink order.  I'm not a massive NCL fan but I never had to wait more than 10 minutes for someone to come around to ask me for a drink on the last few NCL cruises we went on.  


We headed out to get ready for afternoon tea.  I guess I was thinking of high tea and perhaps a lot of other people were thinking the same thing as it drew a crowd of at least a few hundred.  They were doing a port talk at the same time we wanted to go to but this was the only tea on the schedule so we wanted to check it out.  I realize high tea is British and not Dutch, but I don't know much about Dutch afternoon tea but it's not that exciting.  The tea they served was good but it was probably just the basic tea they serve anywhere.  You couldn't choose anything.  They brought you a little thing of pastries and that was really it.  Not worth it IMO.


Went back to the sauna to sweat and relax a little more and then hung out on the balcony.  We also 

Dinner tonight was Canaletto.  The menu isn't really my idea of Italian but the good thing is that you can order off menu.  I put together a pasta dish that was pretty good.  My wife had steak which was nice too.  There was a great chocolate tart for dessert.  I tried the cappacuhino and that was just like the latte at the Dutch cafe.  Not that great.  The service here was really good.  Some of the only good service we've really had so far.  


We then went to the Crow's nest to relax a little bit.  This is a great spot on the ship.  Deck 12 all the way forward.  They have these chairs where you can put your feet up and watch the waves.  I could sit there all day.  Just a really nice space.  While other ships have (or had) spaces like this, HAL has a better set up with these awesome chairs.  


The show tonight was a modern dance show called Humanity.  It was great.  The choreography was awesome.  Not sure if I can explain this the right way but they were dancing in sync with the videos that would be on the screen and the floor.  Very high quality and they used most of the theater as the screen.  It was kind of like a 260 degree thing where the video projection would not just be in front but go all the way down the walls on the side.  The only slight downside was the person mixing the audio had the bass up way too high and it took away from the music.  It rattled the walls like when someone has big speakers in their car but they don't set it up properly so the car just rattles.  Can't believe no one fixed that the whole show.  The theater is also nice as we sat all the way in the back but it was still a great view.


The game show after that was the Majority Rules gameshow.  Always a lot of fun and the guy from the music trivia did this one too.  His name is Jose and I forget his actual title but he's basically the assistant cruise director.  Really fun guy.  This was a lot of fun and we had a lot of laughs.  It was a struggle to get a drink here and we had to really flag the servers down to get them to come over to us.  I don't know if we were just spoiled by NCL or what but this is kind of odd.  The drinks have been hit or miss, mostly miss which is par for the course over the last few years.  


We hit the casino after that so I could use our free play.  We won more money and then called it a night.  Nice relaxing day.  Eidfjord tomorrow.  We'll get off the ship and see if there's any last minute tours or if we are just going to walk around for a bit.  

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Thanks for your review so far!  It's refreshing to have your comments from a new to HAL cruiser.


I will say that I am really quite surprised about the lack of bar waiters by the pool since every one of my HAL cruises has had excellent bar waiter service!!   Also, very surprised about the App only comment at the Dive In Burger Bar!  This has not been the case on any of my HAL cruises either!!  I have gone for a burger at least once on every cruise! 😁   I hope this improves for you as well as the crowding in the Lido buffet.  I found that I had to find those "off times" for going there to miss the crowds. Not ideal.


Have you gone to any of the Music Walk venues yet?  I love the BB King and Rolling Stone rooms!!  



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1 hour ago, Analog187 said:

I tried to walk up at Dive and they said no, app only.  

That’s a first.  On my last cruise I ordered twice at the pizza place through the app.  First time it took 20 min.  Second time it’s said something strange like new, instead of in progress.  After about 10 min I walked over and the guy said the app wasn’t working.  No indication of that. I ordered and it in person and it was ready in 10 min.  All the app seems to do is slow things down.  You’d think it would be the opposite.

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That tart in Canaletto is the best dessert on the ship I feel.  It’s so good.  Frankly I have no idea why people love the cafeteria so much for breakfast.  The mdr is so civilized.  It’s only open 8 to 9:30 sea days and 7:30 to 9 on port days.  Those are the usual hours.  I believe the breakfast buffet closes at 10:30 am so I can’t imagine why people were waiting.

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I’m also currently on the Nieuw Statendam.


Yesterday I ordered direct at Dive-In and was not told I had to use the app. People in front of me ordered direct too, as apparently did several others while I was waiting for my order to be ready.


The Coke tastes fine to me, and as I drink little else I’m very picky about it! It could be that the OP is used to it being made with high-fructose corn syrup whereas the South African version has sugar, like in the UK. When I visit the States my first Coke always tastes odd but I quickly adjust to the difference.


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39 minutes ago, Tigrou said:

The Coke tastes fine to me, and as I drink little else I’m very picky about it! It could be that the OP is used to it being made with high-fructose corn syrup whereas the South African version has sugar

Nope, that's not it.  My wife agrees and she's lived in Mexico and Spain.  Either way, I'll stick to lemonade 

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12 hours ago, Analog187 said:

I tried to walk up at Dive and they said no, app only.  

Some people on the ship

including my DH do not have a smart phone.  If he was told “app only” he would immediately find a F & B manager to order his Dive In burger him. Glad others were able to walk up.


Enjoy the beautiful scenery of the fjords! Thanks for your report.

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2 hours ago, cruising sister said:

I just got off NS and never used the app to order and had no problem. I wonder why the change?


Today I went to Dive and could not use the app at all.  Had to stand in line.   I guess it just varies for whatever reason. 

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On 5/29/2023 at 1:13 PM, Gail & Marty sailing away said:

Thanks for sharing , who is the  Hotel director and Food and Beverage ? 

According to the TV, it’s Niek Van Der Kolk.

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The South African cans of Coke taste the same as the Dutch ones I brought on board. At least to me they do, and they all taste the same as at home in the UK.


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Day 3 - Eidfjord


We woke up just as we were pulling into port and the views were amazing.  It felt like another world.  Breakfast was at the buffet again and while I suppose it's a little better than NCL (at least the food is hot) it just doesn't do it for me.  The orange juice tastes watered down.  No one cleared our plates so we had to do that ourselves.  They really seem understaffed sometimes. 


We got off the ship around 9 and went to the tourist office.  It's a tiny little building and way too many people were trying to crowd in there.  There was lot of line cutting and complaints which seems to be the standard on this cruise.  I don't know what the deal is but the number of rude of people seems to be higher on this ship than usual.  Despite a sign advertising different times to the waterfall that would not work with our ship, they had a bus to the waterfall that would.  It was about $66 per couple which was pretty good.  We walked around to check out some shops and the amazing scenery until it was time to get on the bus.


The bus ride was about a half hour up the mountains and through some tunnels.  Nice scenery.  The waterfall was pretty nice but you're looking down at it for the most part.  There is another area where the views might be better but that doesn't open until next year.  Either way, still good.  We were there for about 45 minutes or so and we got back on the bus.  Speaking of rude people, I thought a brawl was going to break out.  I've been on a million bus tours and the unspoken rule is that you pick a seat and stick with it through the tour.  Well this elderly woman decided to change her seat and the woman in front of her advised that her friend was sitting there.  The elderly woman was not happy about that and started going off on the other woman who started going off on her.  It turned into a whole thing that went on for over 10 minutes.  Adults acting like children over a seat.  Sad.


Anyway, I slept on the way back cause I was exhausted.  I used the wifi at the tourist office since the ship's system was out and then we went and got lunch.  Went to Dive In and could not use the app since the system was off.  Burger was better than the first day.  One of the best burgers I've had on a ship.  The milkshake was pretty good too.


I then came back to the cabin to nap.  Passed out pretty quickly.  Got up to watch us sail away.  The views were amazing.  We went under a bridge that we didn't even fit under unless they took a light down.  Once they did that we had just a little bit of clearance.  Cool stuff.  Then went back to the cabin to watch the scenery from there.


Went to dinner at the MDR at 5:45 and they did not have any tables for 2 and would not have any for quite some time so we had to share a table which is the worst thing for me.  I guess HAL doesn't really have a ton of tables for 2 unlike NCL.  Our table mates were really nice but the menu didn't really blow me away.  I had the chicken and crab cake.  Both were fine, not amazing.  


The show tonight was a magic and comedy show.  Standard cruise stuff but I enjoyed it.  Guy was good.  I'll go see his other show.  Since I didn't have a big dinner we went back to the buffet to grab some food.  They were closing almost everything up at 8:30 so my only real option was fries.  They were amazing.  Much better than the fries at Dive In although those fries are good too, just different.


Still on the search for food, I went to the NY Deli.  Really didn't want a whole pizza so I got a slice.  It was awful.  Can't believe they would serve that.  So the place that makes pretty good pizza to order makes horrible pizza by the slice.  Go figure.  Since it was movie night, they had pretzels.  I was told they had a caramel pretzel.  Thought that was interesting.  Turned out to be a caramel apple pretzel which I didn't want.  So I went back and got plain.  It was ice cold.  Sigh.  My wife went up and got the cheese pretzel.  It was the same ice old plain pretzel but with a little bit of sliced cheese put on it.  lol.  I gave up.  


I ordered a Miami Vice from the bar right there and it was one of the better ones I've had on a cruise in a while.  I'll have to try some other frozen drinks to see if they will also be good since the drinks are hit or miss here.


Really great day and I hope we continue to have amazing scenery like this.  A lot of people on this ship have been on HAL many times and quite a number of them either came from another ship right before this one or are going on another ship right after.  That's about 21 days of cruising on average for these people.  The universal feedback from the people I've talked to have said that the quality on HAL (like some other lines) has really gone down in a number of areas.  I have no frame of reference since this is my first HAL cruise but I'm sure things were certainly better prior to 2020.  Either way, I'm here for the fjords and anything else is just a bonus really.  

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23 hours ago, Analog187 said:

I tried to walk up at Dive and they said no, app only.  


I am enjoying reading your review.


We were on the Koningsdam in Alaska 1 weeks ago and while we did place a pizza order using Navigator, whenever I tried to use the app to place an order at Dive In it stated that it wasn't available.

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8 hours ago, singleflyer said:

@Analog187 Random question; but are the milkshakes at Dive In an up-charge (or count against your 15 drink limit with Have It All)?  Or are they free for everyone?  



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