This was a great cruise. It had been 7 years since our last one and I don’t know why it took us so long to do it again. All three of our cruises have been with Holland America and I have yet to see a reason to change. I’m so glad we chose Norway to visit. When we were first planning the cruise and deciding where to go, Norway was kind of middle of the pack as far as choices. We finally agreed on it and now I know that those places of tremendous beauty you only see in photographs really do exist.
4 out of 5
For the most part it was very easy and quick. We had all our paperwork together and ready when it was needed, so, of course, that helps things along. The only glitch was that at the check in counter, after the agent was done, she told us to go sit in this waiting area across the room (in Amsterdam it’s one giant room). We were on time for our check in, but I figured we’d get called soon. There were several other couples and family units sitting there as well. We had been there for about 30 minutes when I decided to ask one of the staff who was directing people around. She looked surprised that we had all been sitting there at all and sent us on through to embark. So the moral to the story is ask questions sooner rather than later. ;-)
Food and Dining
5 out of 5
I know people will think we are weird, but we have never eaten in the MDR on any of our cruises, including this one. We’ve just never gotten around to it. The Lido buffet was great and had fairly convenient hours. We ate at all of the specialty dining venues once, except De Librije. That, like Rijsttafel, is not an everyday occurrence. We did do Rijsttafel and that was my favorite dinner of the cruise. The Indonesian food was amazing. My husband’s favorite was Rudi’s Sel de Mer. The seafood platter presentation alone is worth ordering it for, but he said it tasted great, too. The service in that restaurant was superior. I don’t know what the actual ratio was but it almost seemed like one server to every 3 people and the sommelier was outstanding. The Pinnacle and Canaletto restaurants were good, but nothing to write home about. The Rijsttafel and Nami Sushi are both within the Tamarind restaurant, so we ate three separate meals there. The Rijsttafel and Nami Sushi were perfect, but the dinner at the Tamarind was awful. The food was good, but the service was horrific. I won’t go into detail here, but I did write up a comment car. I was very surprised to receive a call the day after I turned the card in from the restaurant manager. He apologized profusely and offered my husband and I a free dinner in Nami Sushi. So, they will make good if you have a problem.
As far as drink goes, well, let’s just say my liver is happy to be home. We had our favorite bars and you will, too. You don’t have to drink to enjoy yourself. I never once in any of the bars saw a sloppy drunk. The waiters and waitresses are quick to help you and are fun to be around. Just keep in mind that these are people, too and they are not personal servants. Saw a couple of instances of that. :-[
5 out of 5
Holland America ships are not designed for high adventure. If you are looking for that, you have come to the wrong place. There are no wave riders or parasails. That being said, there was still a lot to do. If you found yourself bored on the Nieuw Statendam, it’s probably time for you to just go curl up in your coffin. There were a couple of sessions of Bingo a week, one a must-go jackpot and the other a 7-day cruise giveaway. I just contributed to the pot. There was a Barhop event where a large group of us marched through the ship loudly, stopping at bars and playing drinking games. I have a light up souvenir cup. My husband did a couple different beer tastings and met some nice people. The Blend mix your own red wine was really fun. I teamed up with the same couple for team trivia and music trivia for the majority of the cruise and we had a lot of success. We had a Dutch lady on board who gave all kinds of briefings about what to do in each port and about Norse gods and myths. Really interesting.
5 out of 5
We saw the magician whose name I can’t remember. He was one of the card trick/sleight of hand kind of magicians and he was very good as well as being very funny. After that we never made it back to any of the stage shows. They never really fit in with our dinner plans and other things going on. I should probably mention this up in the food section instead, but I strongly recommend against booking all your dinners prior to your cruise online. I had all of ours booked in advance and when we got onboard all of them were wrong but two, so I had to go fix that. In doing so, I found that it was not so hard to get desirable dining reservations once you are onboard. Just a suggestion.
We never got to actually sit down and watch the BB King’s Blues Band. It was always packed in there. We stood out in the corridor and listened for a while and they sounded good and I heard rave reviews about them.
The Rolling Stone Rock Room band was awesome. They played a nice variety of 60s, 70s and 80s classic rock and they sounded really good. They were new coming in the same day we boarded, replacing the last band and 2 or 3 nights into it they lost the keyboard player/second vocalist to illness and he left the ship. So, they were down to one guy singing and could only play the songs out of their repertoire that he could sing and that didn’t require a keyboard. They really scrambled to learn new songs and keep things fresh and did a great job.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
I cannot say enough good things about all the people on this ship. Everyone gave 1000% effort and it was like they were doing it all for me. They are all serious professionals.
5 out of 5
It’s a new ship, what can I say? It is kept very clean. The crew obviously takes pride. It’s fairly easy to get around although I did get forward and aft mixed up on certain decks occasionally.
Cabin / Stateroom
4 out of 5
We had cabin VD5020. It was small. This was the smallest balcony cabin we’ve had (the other two being Zaandam and Eurodam). You had to turn sideways to get between the foot of the bed and the wall to pass from one side of the room to the other. I’m not fashion model thin, but I’m not super sized either. The room is just too narrow. It was very clean though.
To avoid the mass gaggle of kids at the main pool, use the Sea View pool, also on the Lido deck. This is adults only and has its own bar, but unfortunately does not have a retractable roof like the other pool for bad weather.
We visited the Anne Frank House. What a sad and moving experience. You don’t need to have read The Diary of Anne Frank to appreciate this. You do, however, need to visit the Anne Frank House website and order your tickets two months in advance. And make sure you are able to climb very steep and narrow steps. This place is not handicapped accessible.
After the Anne Frank House we just wandered around the Red Light District and called it an early night.
We took HAL’s “Waterfalls and Nature” excursion. I was not impressed with this. It was scenic, but not worth the money. The waterfall was partially fogged in, which obviously wasn’t their fault, but from what I could see it wasn’t that great to start with.
The Sysen Dam was cool. It was really large and “looked like” it was built out of small pebbles. The reservoir was beautiful and there was a lot of interesting tunnel history.
The Nature Center was dull, dull, dull, but a great way to spend a rainy day.
We took HAL’s “Urnes Stave Church and Scenic Drive” excursion. This was a beautiful church with lots of history and the local tour guide was very knowledgeable and had a quirky sense of humor. A beautiful interior, especially for something so old. The construction of the building was magnificent.
The scenery on the bus trip was great and the excursion tour guide made it fun by pointing out things like her old elementary school and other buildings from her past as she had grown up in that area.
The tour description had suggested bringing a hat and gloves as the ferry ride portion of this tour could get very chilly. We were very lucky to have a beautiful sunny 77 degree day and could wear shirtsleeves. This was a great tour.
We overslept and missed our tour. Did I mention that the balcony rooms have very effective blackout curtains?
Once we got moving, we walked around Alesund for a while and then found a very nice Chinese restaurant (Long Cheng). There was a downstairs fast order and an upstairs sit down. The food was good, better than the two Chinese restaurants we have here at home. The prices were reasonable/high, 570 NOK, for two meals.
We didn’t schedule an excursion for Bergen as I just wanted to do some shopping and go up in the funicular since I’d read so much about it. We had to take a shuttle bus from the ship out through the cargo port where it was docked. The shuttles dropped us off at a HOHO stop so we bought tickets for that which included the funicular. It was expensive 800 NOK or approx $45 per person. But it got you to all the major points in town, to the funicular and exactly back to the cruise shuttle point so you didn’t have to worry about getting lost. Worth the money.
Not so sure about the funicular. You got stuffed in a cattle car, hauled up a mountain (?!?) so you could snap 3-4 photos, say “How nice,” and ride back down. If you’re into photography, maybe, but I’ve seen that same basic view in other cities 50 times. Did I mention that it was 91 degrees, sunny and humid?
I did find the Susan Fosse stand at the fish market in town, but discovered they wanted 1685 NOK for a cardigan (and it was itchy). I put the cardigan back and bought some scarves instead. I also found a 7-11 store where I stocked up on Norwegian candy to bring home to my son.
5 out of 5
I actually didn’t disembark here. This was the first part of a back to back, so I just got of the ship and went on a windmill excursion in Amsterdam. It went very smoothly. They gave me a little card when I left the ship in the morning and I just showed that when I came back to avoid all the embarkation stuff.
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