The Big Hand (my husband Marvin) and I recently had the opportunity to sail from Fort Lauderdale on Nieuw Statendam. I wanted to share a few words about our experience, especially as I hadn’t sailed with Holland America (HAL) since sailing resumed post-pandemic.
Embarkation. Embarkation was quick and painless, as is generally our experience when sailing out of Ft Lauderdale. Pier personnel were unfailingly pleasant and efficient and we were through security and check-in quickly – despite some sort of issue with Marvin’s passport that for some reason didn’t want to be scanned properly. All in all, getting aboard was a breeze and our stateroom was ready by the time we boarded, which is always a plus.
Accommodations. We sailed in a standard balcony stateroom in a “guaranty” category, which meant HAL assigned our location. We were in 8187, far aft on the starboard side of Deck 8 which proved to be an excellent location for making our way to the dining room, located directly below on Decks 2 and 3. As usual, the regular balcony rooms are more “cozy” than “spacious” – but well organized with plenty of storage. Once emptied, the luggage went under the bed, not to be seen again until needed to prepare for disembarkation. There are drawers, shelves, and more than enough space for hanging clothes. The bathroom was a typical compact size, but the glass shower was comparatively large by cruise standards. We had a small sofa, and the desk provided an exceptionally good workspace for yours truly, with a good solid armchair for seating. The balcony was quite typical with comfortable seating for two, along with a small table. Our room was directly beneath the Lido restaurant … and yes, we did note some occasional noise from chairs scraping overhead, but it was barely loud enough to be noticeable, didn’t occur at hours when it would disturb our rest, and certainly nothing that I would consider problematic.
The onboard décor and ambiance are quintessential Holland America … warm, and intimate, with a certain traditional elegance. The ship is lovely, very easy to navigate, and features beautiful artwork and décor throughout. I did find the décor in the dining room a bit off-putting with a burgundy patterned carpet, red chandeliers, and bright yellow walls – Marvin, on the other hand, described it as “cheerful” – so just a matter of personal taste there, I suppose.
Entertainment and Activities. Entertainment onboard Nieuw Amsterdam was solid. Just don’t come aboard Holland America sailings expecting bumper cars, multi-media aerial performances, roller coasters, and aqua theater – that is simply not their thing. Their onboard dance troupe did an excellent job with several production shows. The BBC Planet Earth presentation was exceptional. Music Row featured extremely talented musicians performing everything from classical scores to classic rock – HAL is an outstanding choice for passengers who love a variety of live music. Performances at Lincoln Center Stage, B.B. King Blues Club, and Billboard Onboard were very popular and well attended – you can translate that to mean “get there early if you want to get a seat”! Other activities included talks & lectures, trivia, bingo, movies on the outdoor big screen – art auctions – and most of the usual assortment of activities that are popular with cruisers.
Dining. We had selected late seating in the main dining room which is scheduled at 8 pm. The food was very good … beef dishes especially consistently exceeded expectations. Soups, appetizers, and entrees were all good with lovely presentations, and we never had a problem finding something appealing on the nightly menus. One significant issue: evening dining service ranged from slow to excruciatingly slow. With dining scheduled at 8 pm, attending the early show wasn’t possible … and the late dining ran too late for us to get seating at the second show. After the first couple of evenings, we solved the issue by simply switching ourselves to “anytime” dining and went at an hour when we could make one of the performances. I suspect that inexperienced cruisers might not be able to “solve” this issue and would miss out on much of the onboard productions. We splurged on lobster a couple of times during the cruise … the broiled tails were huge, but unfortunately, just a tad over-cooked each time. Not terribly so, just enough that they were slightly tough, and a shame to do this to beautiful shellfish like this. As to Alternative Dining, we splurged one night at Rudi’s Sel de Mer where food & service were absolutely impeccable … an experience definitely worthwhile. Unfortunately, our experience at Canaletto was disappointing. Other than the salad, neither of us cared for any of our selections – we ended up splitting a club sandwich ordered from room service later that evening – which, by the way, was excellent.
Surprises. We saw a significant percentage of younger passengers, i.e., under age 40 – and there were even some families with children aboard our late February sailing, which was definitely an anomaly just a few years ago. HAL has made a concerted effort to appeal to a broader demographic without diluting the pillars of their brand – if my observation on this cruise is typical of other sailings, it appears that their efforts are meeting with a measure of success.
Conclusion. There you have it, a quick rundown of our experience when we sailed aboard Holland America’s lovely Nieuw Statendam. Does this sound like a cruise that would suit your preferences and travel style? Reach out to me with questions … we would love to provide a custom quote for your preferred travel dates.