November 2016 - Nieuw Amsterdam to Caribbean - Western
This was our second Holland America cruise, after being on Norwegian and Royal Caribbean ships for a few years. I had wanted to come back to HAL because I remembered the excellent food, great service and beautiful decor of the Zuiderdam. In most ways this cruise lived up to my expectations. Except for one night I was very pleased with the food. We dined in the Pinnacle Restaurant for a celebration dinner and it was exceptional, from s'amuse bouche to decadent dessert. The busy Lido buffet was great for breakfast with made to order omelets and a different version of Eggs Benedict every day, also made to your order.
The pizza at the Lido pool area and the burgers, hotdogs and fries amidships were really good, far exceeding what I had experienced on other ships.
We made dining room table reservations immediately upon boarding the ship and enjoyed delightful table companions, which definitely enriched our experience.
I enjoyed the shows, performed by talented singers and dancers with live backup band, very high energy and always professional.
I did not miss things like wave pool, rock climbing or ice rink found on the big ships. I liked the cooking demonstrations especially.
We purchased two shore excursions through which we enjoyed very much. However, the ship personnel were not helpful when we asked simple questions on how to find the starting point for the tour. We had to walk a short distance or take a taxi to get to the location, rather than being met by a guide at the pier.
After having sailed on larger ships, I found the smaller Nieuw Amsterdam rocked and pitched noticeably more. There was annoying vibration in the dining room which is all the way aft, even on the upper level, when the ship traveled at close to top speed. Our cabin was also at the very back of the ship on deck 8. We were given this cabin as a "guaranteed" selection; we did not choose it. I had heard that these were prized because of their privacy, which was true. However it suffered from noice and motion. Our table companions told us this was true in other parts of the ship, on lower decks, as well. We were directly below the Lido pool area, so early every morning and evening we heard the crew moving deck chairs, scraping and bumping around.
One of my favorite things about Holland America ships is the many quiet places one can sit with a book. The library has a good selection of materials.
I also liked the Silk Den for a before dinner drink with new friends, and the Crow's Nest day or night.
So, another Holland America cruise? Probably, but next time I want to choose my own cabin.