Travel blogger Geoff Edwards recently sailed aboard Nieuw Amsterdam from Fort Lauderdale to the Eastern Caribbean. Here is part one of his experience, taken from Travelergeoff’s Blog. Enjoy!
My wife, Michael, and I are starting a trip from Fort Lauderdale into the Eastern Caribbean on the Nieuw Amsterdam. This is the newest of Holland America’s ships. We’ll join 2,106 other passengers. We live in Los Angeles; the ship sails from Fort Lauderdale. For some reason, ubiquitous connections don’t exist. Miami, no problem, but Fort Lauderdale? You’re sure you want to go there??
Actually, Virgin America makes it easy, but still to be sure to make the ship’s sailing, better plan for an overnight hotel stay. Our Virgin America crew was friendly, although they only came down the aisle once with complimentary soft drinks plus booze to buy. Not that we had any spare change, $25 per bag, $8.00 to watch a movie. Food to order prices are displayed on the TV. Just press “eat”. No button on the screen says “Can I just have a peanut?” “Never mind,” as my grandmother used to say. On the plus side, the seat back screen received Dish Network and the ubiquitous moving flight map. Make no mistake, there is a lot new on the Nieuw Amsterdam, but the cool thing about Holland America is, no matter how new things are, the ship always feels familiar. The bar you liked previously is still there in the same place. The lounge where they serve the goodies at night is a bit bigger, but still looks the same and it’s right where you left it.
Newish? The flowers; at $10,000 weekly are gorgeous and sprinkled copiously around the ship.
And never mind the Art Auction, just let me take home what’s on the walls.
One noticeable change, prompted I’m sure by the tragic Concordia crash, is the addition to the lifeboat drill. “You are required to attend this drill. If you do not, you will not be allowed to sail with us.” That means if your name doesn’t show up at roll call, believe me, they will seek you out. Don’t think this is an empty threat. Across the pier a passenger on the Westerdam who did not attend their drill was bid goodbye and left on the dock. I think my idea is simpler. Each attendant at the drill gets a red ticket. No tickee, no eatee. By the way, there are no muster stations on Nieuw Amsterdam, it’s direct to the lifeboats. I always look up at the bottom of the boat we at our station are standing under. Then I look around at the group assigned to that boat. Hard to believe we’ll all fit.
Our first meal on board was in the Manhattan Dining Room. This is a bit more colorful than my previous HAL experience, but the red is cheerful. The only downside, the color screens around the dining area. They reminded me of a look inside something I don’t want to talk about. Accompanying an awesome menu is a wait-staff offering attentive and friendly service. I had cobia with lobster dumplings. It was perfectly cooked; seared and crispy on the outside, soft and a touch mushy inside. It may have been the best fish I’ve had in a cruise ship dining room. Nieuw Amsterdam is chef-oriented and their chefs value their reputation. Not to worry.
Nieuw Amsterdam First Day At Sea
We slept past sunrise, (way past) so we ordered our breakfast from room service. There was hardly a wait until the knock on the door. Croissants, coffee, and bran muffins on the sun swept balcony with HAL’s private Bahamian island in view made for a lingering morning.
We finally emerged and grabbed lunch at the Terrace Grill. One of us (guess who) had a lamb burger. New one person polls show lamb beats cow. Along with traditional treats, the grill also served salmon burgers.
It is interesting that on this big a ship, small improvements pop up. Checkout the tear-off daily schedule with 50 things to do, and not cups, but coffee mugs.
On deck, the music was harmonious not raucous. I loved the stealthy sounds that came from the Kettle Drum.
The pool area is also set up for those under 50 to enjoy.
Dinner was in the Italian-themed Canaletto. It was a bit tricky finding Canaletto. Basically it’s part of the Lido. It is separated by an adjacent space, but has no entry door. The food was definitely worth the search. I had an incredible Penne Alla Vodka. You must try this.
Suddenly, as we were getting ready to order dessert, a large green wisp appeared. Limoncello cotton candy!