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Kenneth Eden

Age: 62

Occupation:retired special ed teacher

Number of Cruises: 78

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Nieuw Amsterdam

Sailing Date: 2011-07-11

Itinerary: Mediterranean Romance

For the discounted price, okay - Not worth full price.

Not enough time at sea.

Sailed from Venice to Barcelona

80% disappointing - Pinnicle Grill one highlight

Small, small, small and small - sofa could have used for a third person - even smaller, and bath, tiny, smallest tub I have ever seen.

This cruise was priced at a very discounted rate for Mariners, HAL's repeater club. Had this cruise been at full price, I would have been very upset.

Main reason I cruise is for exceptional food and service. The service was very good, and the food was ordinary to low in quality and presentation.

Lido as always on HAL ships, a crowded, pushy mess/mass, and some of the servers behind the counter exhibit, as in the past, a surely, rude attitude that can not be defined.

One example, one morning, due to early port disembarkation, I wanted some fresh fruit, and the server ignored me, taking people that cut in line for toast and eggs. After 5 minutes I motioned silently for the "Lido Manager", and asked him to observe the situation. He then called the person by name, and asked me to order what I needed. The server laughed, and then proceeded to get what I wanted, albeit, in a surely manner. I told the server to serve me properly and wipe that smirk off his face. He glared at me, manager assured me, server would be gone by tomorrow. Who knew?

I really wanted to "love" this nearly new ship, and could not for many reasons.

Maybe I have been enamored by the luxury cruise lines, or, may not. This ship and what it offered was not up to my expectations with HAL. My last cruise on the WESTERDAM was totally top-notch, and that is what I had to compare this cruise to.

There was not a single evening production number, ie: no cast of the Nieuw Amsterdam with the Nieuw Amsterdam Orchestra (was there one???), only a guitarist, several comics, and a duo of singers that wre just awful. The disco, Northern Lights, played the same old garbage HAL seems to love, YMCA, (I love The VP, but not in a "disco"), line dancing and just old rot.

Ship is full of cigarette smoke, in the passenger halls, and near the casino - all to change when the new smoking (I hate the term "rules") go into effect after January 2012 fleetwide.

At night the ship is like a constant parade of roaming passengers, fore to aft, searching for something to do, or avoid. Phoptographers to avoid, is my guess. Their shopping area is a disaster. It is huge, open, one massive area, all must pass through it to get to Manhatan Dining Room to Showroom at Sea, and the minute one steps in to this agora at sea, a sales clerk jumps on you trying to push the trite Wal Mart items on you.

The bacon was more like jerky, in fact, my dogs Beggin Stips are probably more appetising.. Many items were not cooked per description, and many I was told, were frozen and lots were not cooked or made on board. Twice I sampled from Caneletto, the new Italian eatery foound also on the EURODAM. The food was, lets say, inferior.

Now, for some culinary highlights" Ecxellent duck, superb lobster (served on two nights), beef in MDR excellent, after sending it back until it was cooked to order, escargot wonderful - it seems that on the special nights, although they were not billed as such, the dinners were very good indeed. Veal horrid, no matter what the nights theme.

The Pinnicle Grill was truly special, a beautiful room, handsome, actually. The food was perfection, the service was exact. Someone bills this venue as the "best alternate dining at sea", I beg to differ. It is one of the best, as far as my own experirences go. To my tastes, the best, Polo Grill and Tosscanno on the Oceania ships, and the marvelous Todd English on the QUEEN MARY 2 and QUEEN VICTORIA.. The Pinnicle is like a top rate steak house found in most "new city centers" in the states - AND is better than Outback!

Tamarind, the asian fusion restaurant was heavenly, purely, and most importantly, a haven away from the rest of the ship. If you love sushi and dim sum, do not miss this venue - it is very special.

To end my qualms with the food, one can "eat" and "order" their way around the menus. There were certainly other nice items, and other not so nice. My main irk, real maple syrup, I inquired about, and house dressings, not real maple, and store-bought type dressiings. AS YOU WISH DINING - tried it and hated it and fled to our assigned table, upper level, MDR, on the "ring" overlooking the lower level. Our servers were just wonderful. Something new, and unacceptable to me, charging for bottled water in the MDR. You are not asked, you are just served it, and then, after two glasses, the bill arrives. NO, NO! I take my water from the pitcher, FREE. Also, billed as "cherries jubilee" along with crepes and the lot, not one of these is prepared in the dining room, nor are they even flambeed. The available very night menu items were generous, althiught the Ceasar salad was a joke.

A couple of problems with the "bar" - AS YOU WISH DINING cheap booze was substituted for Grey Goose in my martinis - I hate to send drinks back, but, I won't be duped - The Glenlevit was substituted with bottom of the shelf cheap scotch - its this sort of trivial thing that bugs me. I suppose most don't notice or care.

In the cabin, a flat screen was on the wall, with a side slot for free DVD's, when the movies arrived, they were scratched and dented - non viewable. The mini bar, well stocked, was rudely restocked by a woman each morning, who burst into the cabin regardless of what YOU were doing in your cabin, so she could replace a can of Coke, or a nip bottle of rum.

No laundrettes on this ship, boy were passengers ticked about that. I did four laundry send outs, and the service and the results, as always with HAL's laundry, perfect.

The ports, been there, done that, were what I expected, we did our own thing ashore, missed Vernice, our flights got in too late - a day and a half in Venice, spent in airports, BUT - we saved THOUSANDS of $$'s by having HAL do our air - for us, the savings outweigherd the visit to Venice, as we have been to Venice before - I would highly suggest that one book only air with their cruise line IF you don't mind missing time in the port of embarkation.

The ship has been touted a beautiful inside, and there are some aspects that are indeed very pretty. I have seen better decor at sea, and the NIEUWS AMSTERDAMS interiors are ok, nothing extravagant, and dimly lit at night, except for the casino and that dreadful shopping arcade.

Our four massages were wonderful. Steiner has stopped hucking their wares in the spa, and do not stuff your door slot with spcials like they did in the past (all "deals" are on the TV now, saving tons of paper!).

Would I/we sail this ship again? YES Would we sail HAL again? YES - we booked the NOORDAM already.

This was a mixed cruise as far as emotions were concerned. The good better aspects of this entire 12 day cruise were overtaken from the not so good ones. Had this been at full price, well, that would be another story.

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