Sign Up for Our Monthly Cruise Newsletter
It was fitting that a glass of champagne awaited me as I arrived onboard the inaugural cruise of Holland America Line’s (HAL) newest ship, the Nieuw Amsterdam. After all, the ship boasts a Manhattan theme and pays homage to New York City’s — and the cruise line’s — Dutch heritage. And, nowhere else in the world do they know how to celebrate in style the way they do in the Big Apple. The fourth Nieuw Amsterdam to enter the HAL fleet is definitely worthy of a toast. During her inaugural cruise from Venice, Italy, she was appropriately launched with much fanfare, paying homage to her predecessors and christened by Princess Maxima of the Netherlands. During the ceremony, guests were treated to a slideshow of the previous Nieuw Amsterdams from the first, launched in 1906, which used both a full set of sails and steam engines, to the second, known as the “Darling of the Ducth,” and entered service in 1938. The silhouette of this ship can still be seen today behind Henry Hudson’s Half Moon in the company’s logo. The third, which was launched in 1983, was thought to be one of the most elegant ships of her time. This Nieuw Amsterdam, weighs in at 86,000 tons and features a state-of-the-art navigation system, 11 guest decks and staterooms with the line’s Signature of Excellence premium amenities. Also featured are new, innovative spa staterooms with additional spa amenities.There are six stateroom categories onboard, ranging in size from 170-square-foot interior stateroom to the Penthouse Verandah Suites, which measure 1,318 square feet. Interior, Ocean View and Verandah staterooms offer two beds that convert into a queen-size bed, the Mariner’s Dream bed featuring finely woven cotton linens; bathrobes for use during the voyage; Egyptian-cotton towels; a premium massage showerhead; a magnifying, lighted make-up mirror; a salon-quality hair dryer; fragrant soaps, lotions, shampoo and other bath amenities from Elemis Aromapure; complimentary fresh fruit on request; an ice bucket and a serving tray for in-stateroom beverages; a flat-panel television and DVD player; ice service; shoeshine service; and nightly turndown service. My husband and I stayed in a Deluxe Verandah stateroom with a queen-size bed. We enjoyed the view from our floor-to-ceiling windows and the fact that we had a nice-size bathtub. However, we found that it was a tight squeeze to fit our belongings into the room and countertops were small and easily cluttered.Stunning DecorIn honor of the Nieuw Amsterdam’s storied history, HAL has installed a collection of artwork that is valued at more than $3 million and includes both traditional Dutch masterpieces as well as contemporary designs. A complimentary self-guided iPod tour is available for guests wishing to view the entire collection. The iPod art tour is also available to download at no charge at HollandAmerica.com and on iTunes.A focal point of the Nieuw Amsterdam, is an inverted chandelier of the New York City skyline designed by husband-and-wife Italian artists Gilbert Lebigre and Corinne Roger of Creazioni Lebigre & Roger that hangs in the atrium. The telescoping, LED-lit fixture transforms the atmosphere of the nearby Piano Bar as it changes into a variety of subdued colors. Another standout work of art is found at the Lido Pool. A sculpture, designed by Bjorn Storbraaten and constructed of lightweight stone, functions as both a sculpture and an eight-foot-high waterfall. Like its sister sculpture onboard the Eurodam, the word “water” is engraved in the stone in 100 languages.The new ship also continues several HAL traditions, including outside-view, glass elevators at midship; the Exploraton Cafe — a coffeehouse offering Internet access and powered by The New York Times; The Pinnacle Grill and Pinnacle Bar; the innovative Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine; an expanded Greenhouse Spa and Salon with thermal suites and a hydro-pool, as well as the largest gymnasium ever built for the cruise line. The youth facility was particularly impressive for a ship of the Nieuw Amsterdam’s size. It includes the teens-only Loft as well as a cute New York City taxi cab and an old-fashioned hot dog stand for children to play in.
Cuisine, As You WishOnboard the Nieuw Amsterdam, HAL continues its tradition of As You Wish Dining. Guests can select the restaurant venue and dining style that they prefer, from fixed dining to open-seating or casual meals throughout the ship. Nieuw Amsterdam passengers can enjoy the main Manhattan Dining Room, alternative restaurants such as Pinnacle Grill, Canaletto and Tamarind or casual dining at the Terrace Grill, Slice pizzeria and Lido poolside eateries. HAL debuted its intimate Master Chef’s Table in the Pinnacle Grill onboard the Nieuw Amsterdam. The premium dining expeirence includes an exclusive dinner menu for up to 18 guests. Each meal includes specially selected wine pairings by the ship’s sommelier, as well as seven courses served on signature Versace china. The cost for a Master Chef’s Table evening is $89 per person. While my husband and I were onboard, we particularly enjoyed the pan-Asian flavors of Tamarind, and its accompanying lounge, the Silk Den, was one of our favorite spots for evening cocktails. The restaurant reflects Asian culture and cuisine by emphasizing nature’s basic elements: water, wood, fire and earth. Inspired by “fire” our favorite dish was the spicy red penang curry coconut chicken. Dinner at Tamarind is $15 per person, and lunch is complimentary.Guests can relax after dinner at the three-level, art-deco themed Showroom at Sea, which features Broadway-style entertainment with vocal performances, comedians, variety acts and more.Nieuw Amsterdam is sailing 12- and 24-day Mediterranean itineraries before making a 32-day trans-Atlantic voyage to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where she will begin sailing in the Caribbean.