It had been a few years since I last sailed on Holland America. My cruise from Barcelona this Fall was a supreme disappointment. I won't go into the "acts of Nature" or the "scary incident" on board. I'll keep to the cruise experience itself. Dinner is much too long. Indonesian staff worked so hard and are so pleasant but have too many tables. Food was a complete disappointment and that filet was a tough flank steak! Lido was out of control with people milling about and menu was practically the same each day. Everyone was "saving" seats so getting seatd was always a hassle. I am a Senior Citizen but this cruise was too OLD for me. It was downright boring. No dancing. No fun. Music hard to come by. It was just not the same high quality cruise line I had traveled on previously.
The Nieuw Amsterdam was a disappointment in some regards. First, the centrum lobby which is usually an amazing space, is here rather small and lame with an idiotic green glass staircase that invites a fall.
The Manhatten dining room lower level where the dine as you can passengers eat, is disconcertingly low-ceiling and of all things, bright, glaring red as is the upper dining room. It was often too hot in this room, a fact the waiters are aware of. The service for dine as you can passengers is spotty and often slow and made me wish that we had eaten at the regular times in the dining room above. However those times are problematic as you will discover. On nights that a party is being held up on the Lido deck, forget altogether about eating in the dining room as the menus then are second rate and the service poor.
The pool area is lovely with comfy, wide lounges, however not enought of them even in October. But what is annoying are the line of little rental tents blocking the sea windows where there are beds and tables, a space forpeople who want to think they are rich and famous.
The lido lounge is quite beautiful with orchids on every table, but the lines are long and getting a table a hassle especially as they have done away with trays so that you have to go back and line up for your beverages.
The showroom was glamorous with great seating and wonderful staging ability. However the entertainment was lackluster at best although the musicals were great and the dancers and singers talented.
Shore excurisions, transfers, and Internet were all seriously overpriced to the point where one feels ripped off and there was much grumbling about that. The photos as well now start at $20.
The spa too is expensive but if you wait a few days, they will offer a special on the use of the thermal assay pool for $15 daily instead of $40. The special massage deals shortchange you on time and then there is the five minute sell on about $700 worth of product they have used on you? The three best things a out this ship are the new Kitchen At Sea demos and tastings that are fun and free. Secondly the wonderful Explorations lounge which combines a great library with games tables, the Internet, a coffee bar, and a large area with comfy leather chairs with sea views and a bar adjacent. And thirdly the lovely Silk Room bar with exotic, enclosed tents with sofas and cushions and an overview of the deck below. No one was ever in there for some reason.
I have always enjoyed the little shops around the centrum lobby. On this ship there is one large shop, disappointing merchandise and downright irritating employees.
Our stateroom and balcony was faultless except for the fact that they put one comfy wicker chair on the balcony and one small uncomfortable chair...why? We had our steward change that.
We sailed round trip from Venice and the Venice ship transfer was an outrageous $79 each to the airport. There is a bus shuttle outside the ship for free, to the people mover, which is $1 euro, which takes you to the Piazza Roma, where a blue airport bus is waiting for $6 . Just as fast. Their fee is simply exorbitant.
All in all, taking in the above factors, I would choose another ship.
I missed the ability to have a cup of coffee or a meal outside overlooking the stern. In general I think the design of this ship is wanting although there were things I appreciated, and so would likely not sail her again.
Fellow passengers please beware. I booked a 24 night cruise departing Venice on 18 July 2012. I booked directly with Holland America UK on 7 April. Shortly after booking I saw exactly the same cruise, in the same cabin hundreds of pounds cheaper with a travel agent. I emailed Holland America on 8 April asking why this way. I got no reply. I emailed them again on 12 April. Got no reply. Sent them a letter on 24 April. Got no reply. Wrote another letter on 17 May to Lynn Narraway, Head of their UK operation. Got no reply. I then posted some comments on facebook warning potential customers to think twice before booking with them. Then got an immediate reply on facebook asking for further details (probably from Americans who know how to do customer Service). I then got an email on 7 June from a UK Holland America representative saying it was not their policy to match the lower price I had seen. I then replied asking for an explanation as to why no one had bothered to reply to my earlier two emails and two letters. Thatwas on 7 June and guess what - no reply! I have paid thousands of pounds to Holland America and they couldn't give me the time of day. Their customer service is the WORST I have ever encountered. I really wish I had booked with another cruise line. I haven't taken the cruise yet and am very upset that they have been treated like this. Please beware when booking with this company, once they have your money, they are not interested.
My husband and I were on the Transatlantic cruise last April on the Nieuw Amsterdam. When we left the ship in Barcelona after a wonderful cruise, my husband forgot to pack his binoculars. After discovering this oversight upon arriving home, I wrote HAL to ask about locating them. First I received a letter saying they had not been located. Later I received a phone call saying they had and as soon as the ship returned to Florida I would be contacted regarding the return of the binoculars. I heard nothing more about it and had given them up for gone when the Fed-Ex truck pulled up in front of our house and delivered the forgotten binoculars!! I can't say enough about the service of the Holland America Cruise Line. Always excellent service and beautiful ships. We'll be back on in the spring.
My family party of 11 spent thanksgiving on the Nieuw Amsterdam on a 7 night cruise. The food was substandard in all dining areas. There were insufficient staffing in the main dining rooms and the food was extremely slow in arriving at the table. I have cruised on three other lines and must say HAL is the poorest quality of all.
HAL Nieuw Amsterdam – Quad Cabins Dangerous!
HAL built a beautiful new ship but blew it for families of 4 with the design of their QUAD cabins which could be described as Dangerous. The pull down bunk is not over the sofa, but directly over the main bed with about 16” of clearance from the pillow to the underside of the bunk = you will hit your head and possibly crack your head open on the exposed bunk bracket.
Left = drop down bunk bed directly over the beds.
Right = Narrow bracket directly above pillow where you can easily bang your head – watch-out the clearance is dangerous especially at night in the dark!
As frequent cruisers we have never experienced such a terrible design and tight quarters for a QUAD Cabin. Families of 4, do not book a Quad on HAL you will regret it. Other than the room, HAL offers good service, food and entertainment, so if you must go, book 2 cabins.