Very Disappointing

Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise Review to Caribbean - Eastern

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 11

Overall rating:

2.5 out of 5
Verified Review
Nieuw Amsterdam

14 Night Eastern Tropical Caribbean (Ft. Lauderdale Roundtrip)

Sail date: November 16, 2019

Ship: Nieuw Amsterdam

Cabin type: Oceanview

Cabin number: 6004

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 2 months ago

Review summary

Surcharges There are now four specialty restaurants in addition to the specialties within the Pinnacle (e.g. Rudy’s Sel de Mer) There is an additional charge for steak, lobster, cappuccino, and Tazo Tea. Overcrowding The number of passengers on the newer Holland America ships has increased from 1800 to 2100 with the number of crew and officers cut from 1000 to 836. These cuts stress waitstaff and cabin stewards who have to wait more tables and attend to more cabins. The quality of service is diminished because of errors and inordinate wait times for tables. Cutbacks Affecting Quality of Cruise Elimination of cast shows, live bands (HALcats) in the bars, exploration team, expert lecturers, travel team, library, meaningful trivia prizes instead of pins, “dam” brand hats, aprons in shops, toothpicks and after-dinner mints/ginger in dining room. There are no dance classes. There is a paucity of activities and horrific scheduling with attractions opposite one another or religious services during dinner. Holland America/ Carnival are saving money and turning off repeat passengers in favor of a boisterous drinking and gambling crowd. Gifts with strings attached from the shops and spa gave us a $50 discount respectively for our anniversary only on expensive massages, not use of facilities, and expensive items in the shops. A gift is something given freely for an occasion. Horrendous entertainment director Mandy ignored requests to slow down so that passengers could write answers to music trivia. She ignored questions and got very snippy with passengers. She had NO interpersonal skills always insisting she was right even when she was offensive. Combining cruise director and travel director eliminated information about what passengers could do on their own. There is no longer a gathering place in the mainstage to disperse tours. Passengers are sent far away to search for the tours on their own. There was no club soda or Coke at the welcome cocktail party. Flat water and brown water were served as non-alcoholic drinks. Casino and bingo were played in port raking in the money. We were not given the option of making reservations for a set time for dining with one waiter and one wine steward. Instead, we had “dine as you wish,” which turned into “dine as we wish.” When I called to make reservations, the genius David told me, “You cannot make dinner reservations between 5:45 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. because that is dinner hour.” Aside from an insufficient number of waiters, packets of Equal and Sweet and Low are not served with coffee or tea. Passengers must specifically ask for them. Ketchup in the Dive-In is rationed. Unsatisfactory Accommodations We booked an ocean view cabin but were forced to keep the curtains shut for “navigational purposes.” This directive rendered it a virtual inside cabin at a greater cost. Abysmal Information and Communication The A to Z catalogue does not list how to get general announcements from the monitor. The on-screen menu does not direct passengers to the bow camera. I sent an email, got a message, got a call, and got a note asking me to call Guest Services for the information because no one had told anyone else that I had gotten the answer to the question. I returned a book from the book club a week ago after the book talk. Mandy called me a week later to return the book. No one in Guest Services indicated when it was returned and the cabin number. The captain and cruise director claim they are grateful for repeat passenger business. If so, this list of what Carnival and Holland America have done to curtail features leave MUCH to be desired. Many people are unhappy with these nickel and diming policies and plan to take their business elsewhere. We are no longer treated as guests. Instead we are cash cows to be milked for everything. The amenities we have previously enjoyed with this line are gone. It is a bare bones operation now, and we feel as though we are being given bargain basement treatment. We enjoyed the shore excursions we booked.

Embarkation

2 out of 5
Long lines, no separation of 4-star mariners for boarding

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

3 out of 5
We were not given the option of making reservations for a set time for dining with one waiter and one wine steward. Instead, we had “dine as you wish,” which turned into “dine as we wish.” When I called to make reservations, the genius David told me, “You cannot make dinner reservations between 5:45 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. because that is dinner hour.” Aside from an insufficient number of waiters, packets of Equal and Sweet and Low are not served with coffee or tea. Passengers must specifically ask for them. Ketchup in the Dive-In is rationed. Only flat water and some brown water instead of Coke were served at the captain's welcome parties. Food in Rudy's Sea de Mer was good. The 8-bottle wine package was okay.

Onboard Activities

2 out of 5
Elimination of cast shows, live bands (HALcats) in the bars, exploration team, expert lecturers, travel team, library, meaningful trivia prizes instead of pins, “dam” brand hats, aprons in shops, toothpicks and after-dinner mints/ginger in dining room. There are no dance classes. There is a paucity of activities and horrific scheduling with attractions opposite one another or religious services during dinner. Holland America/ Carnival are saving money and turning off repeat passengers in favor of a boisterous drinking and gambling crowd. Gifts with strings attached from the shops and spa gave us a $50 discount respectively for our anniversary only on expensive massages, not use of facilities, and expensive items in the shops. A gift is something given freely for an occasion. Horrendous entertainment director Mandy ignored requests to slow down so that passengers could write answers to music trivia. She ignored questions and got very snippy with passengers. She had NO interpersonal skills always insisting she was right even when she was offensive. Combining cruise director and travel director eliminated information about what passengers could do on their own. There is no longer a gathering place in the mainstage to disperse tours. Passengers are sent far away to search for the tours on their own.

Entertainment

2 out of 5
Only the band in B.B. King's Blues Club and the vocalists were good when they played dance music. Lincoln Center Onstage played dissonant classical music.

Service and Staff

2 out of 5
The number of passengers on the newer Holland America ships has increased from 1800 to 2100 with the number of crew and officers cut from 1000 to 836. These cuts stress waitstaff and cabin stewards who have to wait more tables and attend to more cabins. The quality of service is diminished because of errors and inordinate wait times for tables.

Ship Quality

3 out of 5
Common areas were clean. We had a very long walk to get to dining areas since our cabin was just at the prow of the ship.

Cabin / Stateroom

1 out of 5
We booked an ocean view cabin but were forced to keep the curtains shut for “navigational purposes.” This directive rendered it a virtual inside cabin at a greater cost.

Ship tip

Unless you want to drink, gamble, and shop, take another cruise.

Ports of call

Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida

3 out of 5
It was fine, but there are no services in Port Lauderdale.

Grand Turk Island

4 out of 5
we booked the Grand Turk Food History and Bus Tour through TripAdvisor. We learned about the traditional food and drink of Turks and Caicos Islands while tasting authentic dishes and circumnavigating the 7x1.5-mile island on a private tour. We took a shot of the capsule John Glenn splashed down in when he made his first solo flight around the earth and landed near Grand Turk. My husband started his day with a Bambara rum punch and conch fritters. Next, we stopped for jerked chicken. We ended the tour with an island-style lunch at the Sunshine Restaurant. The best thing about this tour was our delightful guide Sharon and the warm, welcoming people we met on the island. Sunshine did more than serve us a take-out lunch. She hugged and kissed us as if we were family. She took pictures of us and was genuinely glad we came to the restaurant. The food was a lot tastier than the ship’s fare, which tends to be bland because many people have restricted diets.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

4 out of 5
We took the Window Cave Experience tour visiting two caves, native Indian petroglyphs, and the fauna and flora of Arecibo. It was an arduous two-mile hike over uneven stones and 400 steps of varying sizes making for dangerous footing in some spots. Marisio, our guide, explained that many of the species were destroyed or starved to death after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. The cave area lost only four trees, but most lost their branches, so the forest canopy was destroyed. Fruit bats, fish and insect-eating bats, a small garden snake, and boas that live on the bats and swallows inhabit the area. A highly endangered Puerto Rican parrot was also negatively affected by the storm.

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

3 out of 5
We shopped for the special deal on a reversible silver-gold pendant necklace and a new tablecloth and 12 napkins. Gone are the fantastic prices on liquor. A.H. Riise has a very limited collection, and Sparky’s is long out of business.

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (Private Island)

2 out of 5
We’ve been here, done that any number of times. We stayed aboard the ship and used the facilities.

Disembarkation

2 out of 5
Not enough customs officials and shore staff delayed departure from the ship.
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