Ship Review – Nieuw Amsterdam
Holland America Line’s latest ship tips its hat to its New York roots.
By Michel Verdure
Discovered by Henry Hudson for the Dutch West India Company in the 17th century, Nieuw-Amsterdam was the first European name given to what is now New York City. The ship of the same name — Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam — reflects a marriage of old world Dutch charm and New World amenities, tipping its hat to New York and all of its wonders.
The second of the Signature class, Nieuw Amsterdam is the most elaborate “Dam” ship yet. The floor plan and architecture are largely based on Eurodam, which came out exactly two years ago; these two built on the design of previous vessels Zuiderdam, Oosterdam, Westerdam, and Noordam. This means that every detail has been analyzed and reengineered to perfection. Enhancements on Nieuw Amsterdam (and Eurodam) include an additional deck located midship, Deck 11, home of Silk Den, a bar with amazing views, and Tamarind, an upscale Pan-Asian restaurant.
Nieuw Amsterdam also debuts a new and exclusive dining experience: the Master Chef’s Table at the Pinnacle Grill, which offers seven-course gourmet dinners served by the venue’s culinary expert, paired with the perfect wine selected by the chef sommelier. Exotic Versace china and fine linens, silverware, and glassware help make the meal even more memorable. Intimate, exclusive (the room is limited to 18 guests), and delicious, this unique culinary experience is well worth the charge of $89 per person.
Passengers can also discover the $3 million collection of artwork, both original and commissioned, that adorns the ship. To learn more, take the complimentary self-guided iPod tour available at reception.
Nieuw Amsterdam continues to expand on the rich tradition of Holland America Line in this premium cruising market, delivering excellence in design, every comfort of a modern vessel, and the attention of a stellar crew.
Behind Closed Doors
Since the introduction of Holland America Line’s Signature of Excellence program in 2003, every ship offers outstanding bedding. Amazing mattresses, high-grade cotton sheets, and oversized pillows will certainly enhance rest in any category of stateroom. Egyptian cotton towels and amenities by Elemis will undoubtedly satisfy the most discriminating passenger.
The new Spa Stateroom categories cater to cruisers seeking an at-home holistic spa experience. Amenities include an iPod docking station, organic cotton bathrobes and slippers, aromatherapy bath soaps, and invigorating showerheads. The list doesn’t stop there: specialty waters, fruit trays, yoga mats, a fitness DVD, and other details will transform your cruise into a wellness retreat where you can refresh and revitalize body and soul in the most peaceful and private environment.
For most passengers, dining is a top priority. If you favor classic cruise ship dining for dinner, one level of the Manhattan dining room offers a traditional fixed seating time that promises the same excellent service from your waiter every night. The other level features an open-seating “As You Wish” dining option for which reservations are recommended, but not required.
Of course, you have the option of sampling other diverse dining venues as well. The Lido Restaurant offers a more casual open dining every night. Or make a reservation at Tamarind where, for a small extra cost, you can dine on Pan-Asian specialties including sushi.
A reservation at the Pinnacle Grill provides the chance to savor some of the finest in food and service offered at sea (at an additional cost). Your waiter will present a tray of sumptuous cuts of beef — rib eye, filet mignon, porterhouse — for you to choose from, and then the chef will sizzle it to perfection on the famous 1,600-degree grill. If you’re not a meat eater, then seafood options abound as well.
At night, a section of the Lido turns into Canaletto Italian restaurant. (Reservation required, but no extra charge.) Be sure to order the mille-feuille of Madagascar chocolate for dessert.
Meet You There
Holland America Line’s three-deck-high atriums are enhanced by the extravagance of their artwork. Nieuw Amsterdam shows off a masterpiece from Gilbert Lebigre. This evocative sculpture, “Manhattan Skyline,” is made of optical plexi-glass and weighs more than a ton. It rotates slowly, giving you the chance to appreciate the various angles; colorful LED lights enhance the effect.
On the lower level of the atrium, beside the reception and the shore excursion desks, you’ll find a comfortable sitting area and the perfect meeting point. The Atrium Bar, located just below the grand glass staircase, provides an interesting distraction while you enjoy a cocktail with friends.
A very large section of Deck 9 forward is dedicated to the Greenhouse Spa and Salon. Just about every massage and spa treatment you can imagine is offered in its 11 private rooms. If you’d like to make amends for last night’s excess of good cheer, the extensive fitness center will welcome you to work it off.
Relax your sore muscles in the large hydrotherapy pool, which is like a super-large Jacuzzi with jets and water fountains in a beautiful and peaceful space. The thermal suite allows for a detoxifying escape. Treat yourself to steam or sauna; then relax on comfy ceramic heated chairs that face the ocean. If you time it right, you can watch the sunset from here and end the day perfectly relaxed and rejuvenated.
The Showroom at Sea features Broadway-caliber entertainment with new shows every night put on by the ship’s fantastic cast of singers and dancers as well as talented special guest performers.
For more interactive entertainment, visit the Piano Bar, where the energetic and engaging “Piano Man” will have you singing along to jukebox favorites in no time. If midship is your territory, the Pinnacle Bar and the Ocean Bar are perfect locales to have a drink with friends (or make new ones). Further aft on Deck 2, don’t miss the Explorer’s Lounge, with its large mural of the early New York City skyline as viewed from the Hudson River.
Aboard Nieuw Amsterdam, I wished I could be a child again. Yours will have a fabulous time in Club HAL. Smartly designed with separate play areas for kids by age group, the kids’ area is on Deck 10 midship, away from usual public traffic. Teens have their own cool hideaway and hangout called The Loft. With its unique Manhattan vibe and NYC vendor cart, teens will enjoy playing foosball, socializing on beanbag chairs and comfortable seats, or just lounging on couches close to the ground.
In addition, kids can play their favorite video games, watch a movie on a large flat-screen TV, or play board games. The younger kids have their own colorful areas completely designed for them (as cute as could be!). Facilities and activities are all under the supervision of a qualified team of professional counselors.The ship’s cruise director told us that Avalon would love to have kids aboard their ships, but it’s a question of whether young people would enjoy the experience. Entertainment and facilities are simply not geared to children.
Even if you don’t have kids, you must take a peek at Club HAL. Right off the elevator on Deck 10 midship, you will find three rooms. One leads to the main hangout where you’ll find a real full-size New York City yellow cab. You’ll marvel first at the immaculate old-style Manhattan taxi, and then wonder how it got there. Obviously, it was installed before the roof was put on and will stay there for many years to come.
Among the items found on the breakfast buffet are fresh fruits, eggs of all kinds, and an array of Danishes, including the wonderful chocolate croissants. Expect a good selection of juices, including the best-kept secret of the line’s famous freshly squeezed orange juice.
Check out the machine — an engineering marvel — that takes an orange, drops it down a guided slide, slices it in half, squeezes both halves simultaneously, and, in record time and efficiency, gives you perfectly squeezed OJ. There’s no charge, just simply forego the regular OJ on display and ask for a glass of fresh-squeezed instead.
At a Glance
Entered service: July 2010
Passenger capacity: 2,106 (double occupancy)
Staterooms: 1,053 (68 percent with verandah)
Passenger decks: 11
Pools: Lido Pool (midship) and Seaview Pool (aft)
On-deck activities: Walking, jogging, basketball, volleyball
Dining: Manhattan Dining Room, Pinnacle Grill, Lido Restaurant, Canaletto Restaurant, Tamarind Restaurant; in-room dining
Nightlife: The Showroom at Sea, Queen’s Lounge, Casino, Casino Bar, Northern Lights Disco, Pinnacle Bar, Ocean Bar, Explorer’s Lounge, Crow’s Nest
Fitness and Spa: The Greenhouse Spa and Salon is a large area with fitness center, Rehair salon, treatment rooms, relaxation room, thermal suite, and a large hydrotherapy pool.
Onboard shopping: Numerous shops featuring clothing, perfumes, jewelry, and souvenirs
Communications: Internet Café, WiFi and cellular service in most public rooms, WiFi available in all staterooms, satellite communications available.
Itineraries: Caribbean itineraries from Fort Lauderdale in winter; returns to Mediterranean sailings in April 2011.