Nice, But Not Special

Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise Review to Panama Canal, Central America

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 18

Overall rating:

4.2 out of 5
Verified Review
Nieuw Amsterdam

22 Night Panama Canal Eastbound (Vancouver To Ft. Lauderdale)

Sail date: September 29, 2018

Ship: Nieuw Amsterdam

Cabin type: Balcony

Cabin number: 5120

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 2 years ago

Review summary

Nice cruise, wonderful staff. Entertainment OK; enrichment programs poor.


5 out of 5

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

4 out of 5
The Lido buffets were always good, but the menu was never available in advance on the cabin TV, as were the other restaurants' menus. Food in the main dining room was good, overall, but sometimes the combinations were so exotic as to be unappetizing. There were strange pairings of ingredients. Also, there were not enough tables for two in the main dining room. We did not eat in the specialty restaurants. As to the "drink" part, the bars and lounges were very attractive, but there were some things that bothered us. The daily happy hour was only available in two of the many bars on board. Also, in our experience everywhere else, "happy hour" means that you buy two of the same drink for the price of one. On this cruise, it was "buy two of the same drink, for $2 more." We thought that was a really chintzy, nickle-and-dime, off-putting policy. Also, twice in the Pinnacle Bar, we felt we were shorted on drinks. he glass was filled with ice, but the drink only came half-way up the glass. We had the same drink in another bar aboard, and the glass was full. We never went back to the Pinnacle Bar.

Onboard Activities

2 out of 5
The so-called "enrichment" lectures were effectively advertisements to sell the ship spa's products and services; for example, How to look 10 years Younger. After the lecture, you were encouraged to buy a spa treatment. In addition, these same lectures were repeated over and over throughout the cruise, instead of offering something different. We did not enjoy them. We did enjoy the classical music at the ship's Lincoln Center Stage venue but those programs also were repeated too many times. The pools were fine. The Promenade Deck was nice for walking exercise.


3 out of 5
The live evening entertainment on the main stage was OK - nothing special. As mentioned, we enjoyed the Lincoln Center Stage classical music, even though the limited number of programs was repeated every few days. The musicians - a classical quintet - were excellent and played well together as an ensemble. BB King blues was very good. We did not participate in the DJ music.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
We think Holland America Line has some of the best service staff in the business. All the crew, mostly from Indonesia and the Philippines, were very attentive and friendly. They were professional, worked very hard and did their jobs cheerfully and well.

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
The ship was very clean overall, in public rooms, dining areas and staterooms.

Cabin / Stateroom

4 out of 5
The cabin was very clean, but there were some issues. The lighting over the closet was poorly located, so that you could not see into the closet. If you opened the closet door, you cut off the overhead light. There was no nightlight in the bathroom. The bed was comfortable, but the pillows were terrible. The regular sized pillows were so flat as to give no support to the head and neck, especially for side-sleepers. Thee were also two very long pillows that took up the width of the bed if you placed them side-by-side, so you couldn't move them to make any adjustments to a sleeping position. The large TV, with movies, was nice to have. The closet space was ample, and the balcony was lovely for relaxong.

Ship tip

If you want a table for two in the main dining room, make your reservations as early as possible, even before you sail, as there are not enough tables for two, and they are gone quickly.

Ports of call

Vancouver (Canada Place), British Columbia

5 out of 5

Seattle, Washington

5 out of 5

San Diego, California

5 out of 5

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

4 out of 5
It would have been nice if there had been a shuttle service(even for pay) provided by the ship. Passengers were advised to take the local bus into downtown, which was a bit of a trip. We were told that a taxi to downtown would cost about $50 when, in reality, we got a taxi for $5 per person.

Manzanillo, Mexico

4 out of 5
The pier was extremely long, and it was very hot. A shuttle to the end of the pier should have been provided.

Huatulco, Mexico

5 out of 5

Puerto Chiapas (Tapachula), Mexico Did not visit port

Due to weather conditions, the ship could not dock at this port.

Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala

4 out of 5

Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua

3 out of 5
Not much to see or do here for tourists.

Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica Did not visit port

Due to sea conditions, the ship could not launch its tenders to get people ashore.

Enter Panama Canal At Balboa

5 out of 5

Panama Canal Transit

5 out of 5

Exit Panama Canal At Cristobal

5 out of 5

Oranjestad, Aruba

4 out of 5

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (Private Island)

4 out of 5

Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida Did not visit port

We disembarked and went straight to the airport.


5 out of 5
We used the ship's "Luggage Direct" program, where our luggage was taken the night before disembarkation, and was waiting for us at our home airport. We did not have to deal with the luggage at all. Nice feature.
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