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“Do you think the crew will notice if we don’t get off the ship at disembarkation tomorrow?”, I queried of Jill, only half-joking. After all, our 12-day Holland America Line Mediterranean Romance cruise had been outstanding in every way and we were not ready for it to end. From start to finish, in every department and at each turn, Holland America’s newest ship, Nieuw Amsterdam and her superb crew had delivered beyond our expectations and we truly wished we could stay on board and do it all again. This was our first ocean cruise in over 3 years as we’d sworn off the big ships, mainly because we love the intimacy and relaxed atmosphere of canal and river cruising so much. But, with so many WAVEJourney.com readers asking for ocean cruise recommendations, we decided to bite the bullet and give Holland America Line the chance to wow us back to ocean cruising… boy, did they ever!
Jill had last sailed with HAL back in the ’80s, this was my very first HAL cruise and we were seeking an active itinerary with many new-to-us ports of call, premium service and all at a reasonable price. Nieuw Amsterdam, at just under a year old at the time of our cruise, with a capacity of 2106 passengers (we decided that she was the maximum size we would consider sailing on for this trip), and 10 ports of call scheduled for a late-spring sailing fit the bill perfectly.
Holland America Line had, in our opinion, chosen a diversified and interesting itinerary for the June 3, 2011 Mediterranean Romance cruise from Venice, Italy to Barcelona, Spain including Dubrovnik, Corfu, Argostoli, Santorini, Catania, Naples, Rome and Livorno. With overnight stops in the embarkation and disembarkation ports (Venice and Barcelona) and a full day at sea on the leg between Santorini and Catania, we felt this 12-night cruise would give us a good mix of history, culture, excitement and relaxation. We were not to be disappointed!
Nieuw Amsterdam is considered a mid-sized ship in today’s world of behemoth floating villages that are upward of 220,000 tons, carry 6000+ passengers and 2100+ crew. We found the glamorous and New York City-inspired Nieuw Amsterdam a much more manageable ship to become acquainted with and find our way around during our cruise. With gross tonnage of 87,000 tons, length of 935 ft., width of 106 ft., maximum speed of 24 knots, maximum guest capacity of 2106 and crew of 926 we were thrilled with our cruise experience and pleased with the spaciousness and comfort of our inside stateroom – cabin 4029. Throughout the ship we observed beautiful floral arrangements, fabulous art work, subtle, understated and relaxing colors and furnishings, which all added to the feeling of staying in a deluxe boutique hotel.
Dining aboard the ship was a delightful experience and offered plenty of cuisine options sure to please any palate. With seven restaurants available throughout the day for passengers to choose from, serving everything from pizza slices to lamb burgers to Pan Asian cuisine to Italian to Le Cirque fine dining (and more), we thoroughly enjoyed the abundance of beautifully presented delicious fare. This was not a cruise that we would leave without gaining a few pounds.
Shipboard entertainment was varied and generally good to excellent with live music taking place in the bars and lounges from early to late evening, nightly performances in the Showroom at Sea, and dancing in lounges and at the Northern Lights Disco.
For those that needed more stimulation, the daily schedule, “Explorer”, offered an endless array of activities to keep even the most restless busy. There was always something to do between our time in port, lounging by the pool or catching up with the latest news in the Explorations Cafe Library: talks about upcoming shore excursions and port information from Travel Guide, Tom; classes in food and entertaining – the art of towel folding and entertaining made easy – with Party Planner, Ashley; technology classes with information on cameras and computers; well-being classes with Lifestylist, Sebbastian – encompassing everything from a sunrise stretch class to tai chi on deck to a golf chipping challenge and learning to salsa; trivia challenges with Cruise Director Gene.
A trip from which we come back excited and raving about is always a good sign and this cruise is one we’re still riding high from. Holland America Line and Nieuw Amsterdam delivered more than we had anticipated and we’re thinking a January 2012 14-day Eastern and Western Caribbean Collectors’ Voyage is looking like a mighty fine idea.
Our Holland America Line cruise aboard Nieuw Amsterdam had renewed our love of ocean cruising and spoiled us completely. We met many like-minded folks of all ages (majority within the 40-60 years range) and made many new friends. We also not only expanded our waist line with all the delicious meals, but had expanded our minds with new travel adventures and fulfilled decades-long dreams by visiting destinations we had only read about in books. It had been a tremendous voyage, one we were sorry to see end, but we now have the Holland America Line itch – that’s the one that makes you want to go back soon and cruise with them to other amazing destinations!
Note: Nieuw Amsterdam cruises in the Mediterranean from spring to fall and then the Caribbean in winter.
Explore More of WJ’s Holland America Line Mediterranean Romance Cruise
Overview | Itinerary | Photos | Day 1: Venice, Italy | Day 2: Venice, Italy | Day 3: Dubrovnik, Croatia | Day 4: Corfu, Greece | Day 5: Argostoli, Greece | Day 6: Santorini, Greece | Day 7: Sea Day | Day 8: Catania, Italy | Day 9: Naples, Italy | Day 10: Rome, Italy | Day 11: Livorno, Italy | Day 12: Barcelona | Day 13: Barcelona Disembarkation |
Click here to visit the Holland America Line website.