Western Caribbean Cruise on the Holland America Nieuw Statendam

11/5/22 to 11/12/22

 

Click on the above link buttons that will take you directly to a particular page or area of the review; or you can just click through to the next page at the bottom of each page.
Page 1 – Embarkation, Ship
Page 2 – Ship Continued, Cabin
Page 3 - Activities, Entertainment, Ports of Call:  Half Moon Cay, Bahamas; Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Page 4 - Ports of Call:   Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Bimini, Bahamas



Key West, FL was replaced with Bimini, Bahamas


Preface

I have previously taken three Holland America cruises.  I thoroughly enjoyed them but had not been on one since my 2018 Antarctica cruise.  I have been enjoying cruising with Oceania so much that I haven’t been looking at other lines.  My buddy, Jim, went on the HAL Nieuw Statendam earlier in the year and just loved it.  It was the second of HAL’s newest Pinnacle Class ships.  Since we didn’t have anything planned for early November, we decided to try it out.  Living in south Florida makes Caribbean cruising less desirable, since we pretty much live in the Caribbean; but I always love to try out a new ship.  I’m glad we did.

Embarkation

With it only being an hour’s drive to Port Everglades from our home, it is very convenient to do a Caribbean cruise.  For several years I have been using the Fort Lauderdale Park’n Go lot while cruising out of Port Everglades or flying out of FLL.  The prices are much cheaper than other lots and the pick-up and delivery vans are dependable and frequent.   We had booked a Neptune Suite, since that is what Jim enjoyed so much.  One of the benefits of the suite is that we had the earliest boarding time, 11:00 AM.  The boarding process was very easy, with so much being done with tablets.  We had done all the pre-boarding docs through the very nice HAL Navigator app, which made it even faster.  Most of the lines these days are putting the room key card in the slot outside the room, rather than searching for the cards while passengers are waiting. It really speeds up the process.   We were in the building and waiting to board the ship at 11:00 AM, but something caused a 30-minute delay.  I would imagine that the main terminal was really filling up with passengers anxious to board the ship with no movement in the line at all.  I was glad that we were in the upstairs room right before boarding, but that 30 minutes still seemed like forever.  Even with the delay, we were able to be eating at the Lido Buffet before noon.  The cruise had started.

After lunch we went to our cabin to watch the muster video on our TV.  This is so much easier and less time consuming than the old way of crowding into the muster stations to watch a video.  After watching, we just had to go to our muster station to have our key cards swiped to acknowledge that we knew where it was.

Covid protocols for the cruise were minimal.  There were signs stating that masks were recommended, but not required.  We saw very few people ever put on a mask.  I was surprised that their weren’t people outside the Lido buffet squirting sanitizer on hands before entering, as has been done on every other cruise I have been on in recent years.  That was probably more for norovirus, but I was surprised it had been done away with.

 

Ship

I must say that I absolutely loved this ship.  The size, layout, design and crew were perfect for me.  It was my first time in a Neptune Suite, so I am sure that being in that category made the cruise a bit better, but I would enjoy the ship in any of the cabins.  Everything has been well thought out and implemented.

The various public rooms are shown below by category.

Dining (Link to Menus)

I have included copies of the menus for the dining rooms along with photos of some of the food items at the Menus link just above and at the top of each page of the review.

Main Dining Room –
First off, I must say that I only ate in the main dining room one time and that was for lunch, since we were able to eat breakfast and dinner in the suite dining room, Club Orange.  I will discuss the food in the Club Orange section.  The two-level dining room on decks two and three aft are just stunning.  The tables were nicely spaced.  It was a much more elegant room than Club Orange, but also significantly larger. 

   

   

   

   

   

 

Lido Market –
This is the buffet on deck 9 at the back of the ship.  It is a large room with plenty of tables to handle the crowds we had.  Plus there was seating in the pool area adjoining the buffet. 

   

Rather than individual island, like some other lines, this ship still had the traditional serving lines.  To me, this is a less efficient way to get to the food, since there is less serving space.  They had several different sections with different types of foods, so there were several lines.  But there were normally longer lines to get to the main food items.  The service team in the buffet was very good and were able to bring coffee, tea water or any other beverage that was requested without having to hunt them down normally.  The food itself was good, not great, but adequate for a buffet.  The dessert selections were few and for the most part boring.  The cookies and ice cream were the most popular items.  The three ice cream flavors were pretty much the same when I checked on them, which was not that often.

   

   

   

   

   

   

At one end of the room there was a hand washing station and two drink dispensers.  The beer and soda dispeners took the key cards for charges.

   

One thing that I don’t care for is that there was no way to be able to get a plate of chicken, egg and/or tuna salad, which is something I like for lunch.  I don’t need to make a sandwich, just have the salads available.  They only had them available as premade sandwiches.    I wasn’t about to get sandwiches and throw away the bread.  I also heard from someone that because the sandwiches were sitting out, the bread had dried and gotten tough.

 

Canaletto –
This is a section of the Lido Market buffet that is used as a specialty dining venue in the evening.  It has Italian food for a charge of $19 plus 18% gratuity per person.  They have separated the section and tried to give it a special appearance.  Since I didn’t eat there, I can’t comment on the food itself.

   

 

Club Orange –
This is the dining room for Neptune and higher Suites located on deck 2 aft.  It only has nineteen tables accommodating up to 72 guests.  The room itself is very comfortable and roomy.  The service was very good.  Everyone was so pleasant.  They all became friends before the end of the cruise.

   

   

While waiting for our meals when sitting on the inside wall, we would look at the interesting artwork.

   

The place settings were done in orange, as would be appropriate for a restaurant named Club Orange.  We were intrigued with the orange bread dish. 

   

The menu in Club Orange is the same as the one in the main dining room, except for one extra main course on five of the seven nights.  Gala nights were exactly the same.  First off, I think that someone that pays significantly more for a fancy suite should have a menu that is different from the normal menu, like many lines are doing in their special suite dining rooms.  The food that we had was very good for the most part, but there weren’t many items to select from.  We aren’t picky eaters, so we were always able to find something, but the appetizer and main course choices were too few and not varied enough.  The dessert choices were very boring and for the most part not that good.  

It is a shame that we were disappointed in the food choices, since the room itself and service were so good.  I am sure that my feelings about the food are probably a bit tainted since we have been cruising on Oceania quite a bit.  Their restaurants are outstanding.  It isn’t fair to compare HAL’s food to Oceania, so I have tried not to make that comparison.  The food was good.  But comparing the main dining room food selections to the menus I have on the 2017 Nieuw Statendam cruise review is very fair to compare to.  The differences are significant, especially in the dessert offerings.    I didn’t include the three additional main items (lobster/steak) that had a $15-$20 upcharge in 2022. I also didn't include the Beecher's Mac and Cheese that is listed as a main course for 2022, since it is a side item not a meal.  That is a major reduction in the food offerings.  I was particularly disappointed that the crisp of the day was no longer available.  It was one of my favorites.

 

Dive-In –
This is the hamburger/hot dog place located on deck 9 close to the pool and buffet.  We only had burgers and fries there a couple times, but they were great.  The one thing I really enjoyed was being able to place your order through the HAL Navigator app.  It made sure that your order was taken properly and the app would show you the progress of your order.  When the order was ready, a text message was sent.  It was so easy and efficient.  By doing this, we could have a salad in the buffet and order the burgers several minutes before we were through.  By the time we walked to Dive-In, the orders were ready.  There was no waiting in line.

   

 

Gelato –
This is where one can order special ice cream flavors and milk shakes.  It is right next to Dive-In on deck 9.  I didn’t try any of their treats.

 

Grand Dutch Café -
This is a nice quick snack and drink location on the starboard side of the deck 3 atrium.  It is a very attractive venue with the dark blue Dutch style.  They have a very interesting menu with Dutch food items along with a nice selection of coffees and beverages.  My buddy, Jim, had told me that they had the best French fries on the ship, so I had to go there one day to try them.  I ordered some of their split pea soup and French fries.  The fries were really good.  The fries at Dive-In were also very good, but different from these.   

   

   

In addition to the main eating area, they also have a small adjoining room with views to the outside.  It was a very nice area to get away from the deck 3 traffic while enjoying whatever you ordered.

 

 

Nami Sushi -
This is an Asian sushi bar located on deck 10 aft adjoining the Tamarind restaurant.  It has a lovely Asian décor with high seats surrounding the sushi bar.  It is a specialty restaurant with a la carte pricing.  When we ate at Tamarind, which is a one price specialty restaurant, we were able to order sushi rolls with our dinner, but we had to pay separately for them.  They were very good too.  This venue and Tamarind also have a unique drink menu, with some delicious exotic drinks.

   

 

New York Deli & Pizza –
This restaurant is located on the port side of deck 10 next to the Lido Pool in the center of the ship.  We didn’t try the deli items, but the 9-inch thin crust pizzas we had were very good.  I would have liked to try their Reuben sandwich, but we just never had the time to.  Once again, we were able to place our order for pizza on the Navigator app.  It made ordering and picking up the food so very easy. 

   

 

Pinnacle Grill -
This is the ship’s steak house located on the port side of deck 2 next to the atrium.  It is a nicely appointed restaurant with comfortable leather chairs.  It is an additional charge specialty restaurant costing $15 pp for lunch and $39 pp for dinner.  We weren’t able to eat there on this short cruise, but I have thoroughly enjoyed this restaurant on my other three HAL cruises.

   

   

   

 

Rudi's Sel de Mer -
HAL’s seafood specialty restaurant is described as an “intimate brasserie featuring classic French dishes”.  It is located next door to the Pinnacle Grill by the deck 3 atrium.  It is a very small venue compared to the Pinnacle Grill, but quite stunning with the red carpet and gorgeous artwork.  This is the most expensive specialty restaurant costing $49 pp.  We ate there one time.  It was well worth the extra cost.  All our food choices were outstanding.  You can see photos of the wonderful meal we had there in the menu section of the review. 

   

   

   

   

 

Tamarind -
This incredibly good Asian restaurant is located at aft deck 10.  The restaurant looks out over the Seaview Pool on deck 9 and ships wake.  They have two life size porcelain terre cotta warriors statues just outside both ends of restaurant.

   

The restaurant is in a lovely location and the room itself is beautifully done.

   

   

The true beauty comes out at night as shown in the below photos.  I have also included a photo of Nami Sushi that is a section of the restaurant.

   

   

With this being a specialty restaurant, there is a cost to eat there, $29 pp.  Don’t let the lower price deceive you.  I’m assuming that most people that eat at Tamarind also purchase a sushi roll from the Nami Sushi menu.  Once again, we had an outstanding meal at a specialty restaurant.  We talked about it the rest of the cruise and were going to go back on the last evening, but decided to eat with the wonderful Club Orange team one last time. 

 

Lounges (Link to Menus)-

I have included copies of the menus for the lounges and bars at the Menus link just above and at the top of each page of the review

When we booked this cruise, it came with the Have it All package.  This gave us Wi-Fi, a specialty dining meal, an excursion up to $100 in value and the Signature drink package.  The drink package included up to 15 drinks per day with a maximum cost of $11 each.  This was very adequate for most drinks on the menu, which were relatively reasonably priced for a bar.  It also included the 18% tip, which adds up quickly.  When we boarded the ship, we had seen in the T&C’s that if we ordered a $12 drink, it wouldn’t be included in the package, and we would have to pay for it separately.  Many lines just charge you for excess cost.  While on the cruise, these signs began to be posted around the bars.  They changed the policy to be more in line with other lines.  It did work out when ordering wine by the glass quite nicely, since many were over $11.

Fifteen drinks a day seems like quite a lot, but if you like specialty coffees, bottled water or sodas, the limit is much easier to hit, since any for cost drink you order reduces the available drinks.  I must say that the bar and wait staff were all so nice and helpful.  They were also readily available most times.  With some cruise lines that have drink packages, they don’t seem to have enough waiters to take orders.  That is one way to reduce costs.  Not so with HAL.  They were most accommodating.

We did hear some complaints about the bars running out of some whiskies, plus all the bars didn’t have the same inventory items.  It wasn’t a big deal for us, since we are flexible; but some people were quite unhappy when they couldn’t have their favorite drink.  I have to put in the below photo showing what was being used for spearing cherries, olives and other things put into drinks.  Where there used to be a small plastic sword type spear, they are now using dry spaghetti.  It is a clever way to reduce plastic use, but it can’t be easy spearing olives without breaking the spaghetti.

Explorations Central & Café (Crows's Nest) –
This venue is much more than just a lounge, but it was one of our favorite happy hour places.  This venue is located at the very front of the ship on deck 12.  It is a great place to just chill and watch the sea from the best viewing spot on the ship.  On the older HAL ships, this area is sjust called the Crow’s Nest.  Since it is a large room, it is used for many purposes during the day.  It also has a dance floor.  

   

   

   

It is also very popular for people playing board games, plus there are jigsaw puzzles available.

The cafe area has little snacks available, but it is mainly a bar and coffee bar.

   

Also included in this area is the shore excursion desk.  Which is the main reason the room is called Explorations Central. They also have large tables with video screens where you can tap on to show you what is availble at different ports HAL sails to.

   

They have a book sharing area as well as other books available to look at while watching the sea go by.   It was also a very popular place for playing board and card games, as well as putting together jigsaw puzzles.

   

At the port side entrance there is a room set up with chairs for presentations. 

 

Billboard Onboard -
This bar is conveniently located in the Billboard Onboard performance area.

 

Blend –
This is an extra cost wine program.  It is a wine tasting room where participants are able to make their own wine blends and take them to dinner with them.  If I was more into wine, it might be an interesting activity. It is a small room on deck 2 starboard right across from Club Orange. 

   

 

Casino Bar -
This is the very popular bar right in front of the casino. 


 

Lido Bar -
This is the bar at the Lido Pool on deck 9. 

   

 

Notes -
This is a dedicated whiskey bar located on deck 2 between the Rolling Stone Rock Room and Billboard Onboard.  They have over 120 different whiskeys on display, some very rare, so they say.  This is where they had the whiskey tasting events.

 

Ocean Bar –
This is a large bar area on the starboard side of the deck 2 atrium.  With it being the closest bar to Club Orange and some other restaurants, it was the most convenient one to go to before dinner.

   

   

A small dance floor and piano are at one end of it, but we never saw it being used.

 

Panorama Bar –
This bar is on the starboard side of deck 10 above the pools and across from the New York Deli & Pizza restaurant.  This made it very convenient when ordering pizza.  It was also the go to bar for those that were sunning on the decks over the pool.

 

Rolling Stone Rock Room Bar -
This is conveniently located in the Rolling Stone Rock Room performance area.

 

Seaview Bar –
This bar is on the starboard side of deck 9 next to the Seaview Pool at the back of the ship on the starboard side.

 

Sun Bar –
This bar is at the back of the ship on deck 11 next to the Sun Deck.  The entire large Sun Deck area was closed off the first day I went there.  Near the end of the cruise, I was able to walk around some up there, but it was not being used at all for some reason.  Perhaps it is used when the ship is fuller.  Although we had over 2,300 passengers on a 2,666-passenger ship.

 

Tamarind Bar -
This is the sushi bar that was shown in the Nami Sushi section.  It serves both purposes

 

Neptune Lounge -
This is the private lounge for suite guests in Neptune Suites and higher.  In addition to it being a nice lounge with snacks and drinks, they had two very friendly and helpful concierges.  On the first day of the cruise, the Navigator app showed that I still had some excursions booked that had been cancelled, as well as the newly booked ones.  When I first realized it, I was going to the excursion desk, which I knew would be very crowded.  Then I realized that the concierges could possibly get it fixed a lot quicker.  They also helped when we couldn’t get Cathy’s internet package or Navigator app working.  To get this kind of assistance you now need to go to Guest Services on deck 3.  They don’t have a dedicated IT team in the internet room.  I was so glad I didn’t have to wait in that line.  One of the concierges was able fix the issue quickly in the ship’s system. 

   

   

   

   

The Neptune Lounge is a great room to hang out, but when the only people that can hang out there already have large suites, there isn’t much of a need for it other than the concierges and getting coffee and goodies in the morning.  We never used it for anything else other than changing a specialty dining time.

 

Entertainment -

This ship has a lot of great entertainment available.  It covers most people’s tastes, and they provide quality performers.  The biggest issue with the entertainment was that there wasn’t enough time to see everything we wanted to see.  We had to work the schedules around dinner and the main show, and some of the show times overlapped.  I guess too many good offerings is a good problem to have.  All the venues are located on deck 2 in the forward area of the ship, except for the World stage which also has the main entrance on deck 3.

World Stage –
This is the main theater located at the front of the ship on deck’s 2 and 3.  It is a very well designed theater with minimal obstructions for the audience and an incredible wrap around screen that is used for the many graphics used in the performances and presentations.  The theater in the round style along with stadium seating provides great views from all over the theater. 

   

   

The seating is comfortable with plenty of legroom between the seats.  I do wish that the seats had drink holders.  It makes watching a show much easier than having to put a drink under your chair and worrying about knocking it over.

 

Billboard Onboard –
This venue has two pianos in the middle of it where male and female pianist/singers perform.  The room is very nice and the bar very popular.  We listened to them perform while on our way to the performers that we were more interested in.

   

   

   

 

Lincoln Center Stage and BB Kings -
This is a very nice two-level theater that hosts classical music in the late afternoon and BB Kings blues music in the evening.  It is a very attractive theater but watching the shows on deck 2 is much better than being around the opening on deck 3.  We tried it once.  I didn’t like watching the show through the glass, plus we felt separated from the music and dancing.  We normally based our evening activities around when the BB King group would be playing. 

   

   

   

 

Rolling Stone Rock Room -
This theater is just across the ship from the Billboard Onboard theater.   When there was an overlap with the shows of these two lounges, it got pretty loud.  We enjoyed the rock band, which also did some country songs.  But with needing to see 9:30 PM show in the main theater, we normally went with BB King, so we didn’t see this group as often.  If we had eaten earlier, we could have gone to the 7:30 PM show, but we didn’t want to rush happy hour and dinner.  We couldn’t do it all but enjoyed what we did see.

   

   

   

Movies at Sea -
The large screen at the forward end of the Lido Pool is used to show movies at various times.  With this area they are able to close it if there is inclement weather, which is a real plus.


 

 

 

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