Vacations for Canadians

It’s no secret that I’ve cruised extensively but one cruise line I had never sailed on – until recently – was Holland America.


In November, my husband, Barry, and I stayed in a Neptune Suite on the Nieuw Amsterdam. Here are my thoughts.


The Nieuw Amsterdam is an older vessel, built in 2011, and is one of Holland America’s Signature-Class ships that holds about 2,100 guests. The age range of guests was between 40 and 75, but I was really surprised at the number of teens and young adults. Many more than I expected. Although we really enjoyed our suite (more on that later), the cabin was dark and tired looking and in need of a refresh.

Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam in water

Service & Dining

One thing that Holland America scored high points on was service. The staff were excellent and exceedingly friendly, especially in the main dining room.


Speaking of which, the food on board was very good and there were many classic options to choose from. The buffet, Lido Market, offers a wide range of options and is open all day and even for late night snacks. Specialty dining options (additional cost) include Pinnacle Grill (steakhouse & seafood),  Canaletto (authentic Italian in a relaxed setting), and Tamarind (Asian).  The poolside grill, Dive-In, is included and serves burgers, hot dogs, fries and more.


The Crow’s Nest is a large observation bar at the front of Deck 11. The bar opens around 10 am and is in the same area as the library, computer area and the Explorations Café Coffee Bar. This was a fantastic spot to have a gourmet coffee in comfortable leather lounge chairs and had spectacular panoramic views. Definitely one of our favourite spots to sit and relax.

Activities, Entertainment & Pool Deck

There were plenty of daily activities to take part in (movies, games, arts and craft classes, a basketball court, etc.) but overall, the nighttime entertainment was lacking. What there was for entertainment was enjoyable like ‘Billboard Onboard’ (dueling pianos) and B.B. King’s Blues Club, but we’ve had much better and more entertainment options on other cruise ships. We’ve heard great things about the Rolling Stone Rock Room that Holland America has on newer ships and we’d love to check that out some day.


There are two main pool areas on the Nieuw Amsterdam: The Lido pool (the main pool) and an adults only Sea View pool at the back of the ship. The Lido pool has three hot tubs and a water feature but there are very limited lounge chairs and it can be hard to find a spot, especially on at sea days. There’s a lot of foot traffic and it can be noisy on the pool deck as well.

Pool deck


We stayed in a Neptune suite that had floor-to-ceiling windows and gave us access to the Neptune Lounge and a concierge. I was really impressed with the amount of closet and storage space in this suite. There were three double-door closets in the entrance, multiple drawers and cupboards in the desks (yes, more than one desk area) and more closet space in the dressing room (yes! A dressing room, complete with vanity and chair!).


The sitting area was impressive and very large with a comfortable three-seater couch, coffee table and two chairs. The balcony was also big and had a round dining table with 4 chairs, and two comfortable lounge chairs with footrests. A great spot for breakfast (24-hour room service is included).


The bathroom was my favourite part of the room. You enter the bathroom through the above-mentioned dressing room and it has a double vanity with two sinks and good storage underneath. There is also a full-size whirlpool tub with shower AND a second stand up shower.


Unfortunately, the wifi was absolutely horrible on board. We even requested a room change but it was no better in the new room. It made it very difficult to work and keep in touch so that’s something I would take into consideration when booking another Holland America cruise.

Private Island - Half Moon Cay

Our cruise stopped at Holland America’s private island, Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. The island features pristine white sand beaches and has a variety of activities, multiple food pavilions and restaurants. Some of the activities include horseback riding, glass bottom boat tours, kayak adventures, bike and hike tours and more. Or, you can choose to relax on the beach with a cocktail and/or rent a beach villa for the day.

There were many great things about this cruise (food, service, Half Moon Cay) and I would definitely sail on Holland America again. Next time, I’d most likely choose a newer or rejuvenated ship with more entertainment options.

Interested in a Holland America cruise? Contact us today to find out more or for a quote.



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