Third Mate

Joined: 02/29/2016
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w4pr's Past Cruises


February 2017 - Zuiderdam to Caribbean

If you have low expectations and only care about the destinations, this is for you.

REALLY POSITIVE THING:  The Panama Canal was worth the trip!


The Ship is in need of repair.  AC in our cabin out every other day.  Phones didn’t work.  It took a dozen attempts to reach the service desk by phone, and sometimes nothing worked.  (Technician said it was fine).  TVs couldn't be seen; old screen pointed toward the ceiling (Technician said it was fine).


  Meals in the main dining room took 2 to 2 1/2 hours because service people were so confused.  Evening Entertainment:  Ships crew? BBC movie?  Really?  There were only two “professional” acts in the main theater.


The ship skipped the Bahamas because the tender provisions were not adequate.


The excursions were not only overpriced but overall disappointing.  For example, we took the jungle canal boat tour.  Most of the canal was in front of a refinery or a village. 


Food was mediocre.  Most everything was overcooked and unseasoned, especially the fish.  I have eaten in 3 of the specialty restaurants and would rather eat at Burger King (eech!).  Even in these "specialty restaurants" the service was abysmal... waiting 20 minutes to get plates cleared before desert.  Really?  At the Mariner's luncheon I ordered the chicken and sausage gumbo.  What came out was Miso soup, with two finger nail sized pieces of chicken and even smaller 3 pieces of sausage, all accompanied by 14 grains of rice (yes, I counted them.)  I grew up in New Orleans where they would sue for this being called gumbo.


 I know people eat like pigs on these ships, but it is a tragedy to ruin so much food through poor cooking.


Every performance was oversubscribed (except the hokey crew shows).   Had to get to a movie viewing room an hour before to get a seat.  For the main, live performances, seats were filled a half hour before the show.  Could never get a seat in BB King performances.


The only reason we took this cruise because of its Panama Canal destination.  Our last HA cruise on the Neue Amsterdam was disappointing and this doubled down on the disappointment.


Embarkation was a nightmare, from the ship getting untied, to absolute confusion about E-immigration, to getting people on board.

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Nieuw Amsterdam

February 2016 - Nieuw Amsterdam to Caribbean - Eastern

Good but not great

If I had not been on previous cruises, I would have thought this was very good.  However, there were several downsides.


1.  The Canneto specialty restaurant is not very good.  First, it is barely separated from the noise and bustle of the buffet lines.  The food was mediocre. 


2.  The house wines available ranged from the less than $35 a bottle undrinkable wine to drinkable but expensive.  The Canneto red wine should be used for cooking not drinking.


3.  Unless you were poolside before 7 am there were no chairs/lounges available for the entire day.


4.  Food service in the main dining room was unbelievably slow.  There were plenty of waiters but very few kitchen staff.  One evening my wife and I had to wait almost an hour for the main course.  One breakfast, it took 45 minutes to get two egg orders.


5.  The noise level in the main dining room was over 85 db (I actually measured it.)  They put no effort into sound dampening, so conversations across the table were either difficult or impossible.


6.  Evidently, the ship is now docking at a "cheaper" slip in St. Thomas.  So the dock is 2 1/2 miles from Charlotte Amelie.  Sadly, the ship didn't change the maps they provided so that many people tried to walk.


7.  This is minor but irritating.  We had one very rough night at sea.  However, there are no clasps on the drawers or closets.  So we were kept up all night with drawers and closets slamming.


8.  The entertainment (with the exception of BB kings blues club) was mediocre.  A juggler for evening entertainment?  Really?


9.  There were language difficulties, especially when calling on the telephone.  Room service orders would have to be repeated three times and in every delivery something was missing or wrong.


10.  We had to beg to have two comfortable chairs on our veranda.  The one straight back was impossible for my wife and myself.  We really imposed on our steward who had to sneak one from a vacant room.


On the positive side:

 Our room steward was efficient and very pleasant.  

 The rooms were cleaned twice a day and they were spotless.

 The ship was clean and very well maintained.


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w4pr's Tips

Oranjestad, Aruba - Went to do snorkeling on the north end of the island. Took a cab up (US$25) took the bus back (US$5.20). The bus was nicer. You can get it both ways. The on board staff was no help because all they are interested in is pusing their excursions. There is a tourist desk when you depart the ship that was very helpful.
Willemstad, Curacao - There are many excursion buses waiting for US$10 each. Far better than the boat offered excursions. Willemstad is a great walking city.
Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (Private Island) - Because HA does not want to invest in a dock on the island they own, they use tenders. The waves were too high for the large number of passengers in wheel chairs, walkers and canes to safely get on and off the ship. So we didn't land but got three days at sea. They could have gotten to Aruba and given us a long day. Instead they cut the engine speed and took longer to get there.
Zuiderdam Zuiderdam - In is going into dry dock later this year (2017). I would wait until it is done.
Grand Turk Island - Lovely beach and pleasant areas to snorkel... right off the dock.
San Juan, Puerto Rico - Great town, but the tours offered take you to high end shops. Be your own tour guide. We found a shop that just sells jewelry and other items make in Puerto Rico. So much better than the shops the "business" tour guide on the boat recommends.
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas - Absolutely gorgeous island. If you want to snorkel, don't take any of the trips offered. There are two idyllic bays on the other end of the island. It is a $5 taxi ride and one is a park with a $4 admission.
Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (Private Island) - This sounds so nice, but what a bust. There is NO real snorkeling place. And the barbecue set up, was like grazing with cows. The one good thing is the sun. But the crowds are so thick (There was another ship there with us) and the conversations so loud (old folks tend to be a bit deaf), we actually went back to the ship early.
Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida - Nice facility. As to Ft. Lauderdale, if you have never been to Florida it is worth exploring. Otherwise... Also, the hotels take advantage of the cruises and charge twice as much for Saturday and Sunday nights.
Nieuw Amsterdam Nieuw Amsterdam - Bring your own wine on board... we waited to late in Ft. Lauderdale not realizing that they can't sell alcohol on Sunday before noon. The tour packages offered by the ship or United were not as good as simply getting a taxi or going off boat to take a tour. I wish we had done some more research.

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received a helpful vote on their Nieuw Amsterdam cruise review - Good but not great

received a helpful vote on their Nieuw Amsterdam cruise review - Good but not great

received a helpful vote on their Nieuw Amsterdam cruise review - Good but not great

received a helpful vote on their Nieuw Amsterdam cruise review - Good but not great

received a helpful vote on their Nieuw Amsterdam cruise review - Good but not great

received a helpful vote on their Nieuw Amsterdam cruise review - Good but not great

shared a quick tip for Zuiderdam"In is going into dry dock later this year (2017). I would wait until it is done."

added Feb 15, 2017 cruise on Zuiderdam to their profile.

reviewed their Caribbean cruise on Zuiderdam and gave it 2 stars!

commented on the roll call for Feb 15, 2017 cruise on Zuiderdam - "Snorkeling Curacao? The following is US..."