Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise / Holland America Alaska from SeattlePosted on 09/20/2021
Altair Agent Betty Sterling just returned from her Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise with Holland America - sailing Alaska from Seattle. Here is what she had to say about her experience....
We recently returned from our first cruise since late 2019 and had a wonderful time! We travelled with my husband’s sister and a friend who were newbies to cruising and Alaska. We flew on Alaska Air non-stop to Seattle and had purchased Holland’s pre-package with transfers at the Sheraton Grande. I had requested an early check- in directly with the hotel and we got it. Nice well-located property but not all restaurants were open due to Covid and limited amenities. We chose to walk to Pike’s Place (about 5 blocks) to have lunch at Lowell’s. We enjoyed their world- famous New England Clam Chowder. There were lots of things to explore there and worth the walk.
On sailing day, we were taken to the Pier by motor-coach. Check-in went very smoothly, and we were on the ship in no time. They looked at our paperwork to be sure we had a negative Covid test within 72 hours. They encouraged everyone to download the “Navigator” on their I-phones prior to the trip. There is a wealth of information on it and purchased Shore Excursions were included to check in rather than paper tickets. Seniors struggled with this and some people don’t have iphones so Holland will use your room key to verify participation as well. Holland is trying to get rid of paper and plastic on the ship, so water bottles are metal.
THE SHIP: The vessel normally carries about 2,000 guests and because the CDC dictates this there were only 1,400, we never felt crowded. She is so well laid out with most all the dining and entertainment venues are on Deck 2. On Deck 9 along with the Lido Restaurant there was a pool with retractable roof and whirlpools to enjoy. There are plenty of lounge chairs to relax, read a book---or take a nap. Atrium did not have spiral staircase like some of their ships but did have a beautiful huge chandelier with ever-changing pastel colors...Masks were required except when eating or drinking or in our suite. The incredible Indonesian crew were always masked and the most gracious people anywhere. They were SO happy to be sailing again and never said “no” to a request! We always felt safe.
LIFEBOAT DRILL: This was greatly simplified. No more dragging your lifejacket to an outside deck. We just had to watch the drill on our TV in the Suite and go outside to see where our lifeboat was located. A staff member verified that we had done this.
The Main Dining Room had a varied menu with enough choices to suit most passengers. One thing that we noted was there were upcharges for certain items. For instance, a Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail was an extra $8.50.With the losses Holland has endured since Covid, we understood this and hope it helps them. Every meal was delicious, and the presentation was beautiful. Open Dining wasn’t a problem and $20 to the Maître’d arranged for the same waiter and time we preferred.
PINNACLE GRILL: This was the most elegant dining venue we have seen on Holland America with exquisite chandeliers and mirrors and a wall of windows overlooking the ocean. The charge is now $39 per person but with the “Have It All” promo and GAP points we were able to eat there for 2 dinners and one lunch. They too have surcharges for certain items.
Awesome food and service! We just became 4- Star Mariner’s so the cost is 50%...nice perk! Steak with lobster dumplings was outstanding. They serve the bread individually with tongs so no breadbasket (which was a blessing.)Tables were spaced well.
CANALETTOS: This is a section of the Lido Market that is available for a delicious Italian dinner. They dress it up with tablecloths and fine china. The Lasagna rivaled my mother’s! There is a $15 charge for this and well worth it or can be part of the GAP points program.
LIDO MARKET CAFÉ: This is a cafeteria style, casual dining option. It is self-serve…but with Covid you request what you want, and the servers put it on your plate for you. No more machines for tea, soda, water, coffee, etc. They come around to your table and take your drink order and bring it to you. Tables were fairly spread out. Great spot for a quick breakfast, lunch or dinner with beautiful ocean views. Enjoyed the salad bar served in large plastic bowls with ingredients of your choice. Dive-In for hamburgers, hotdogs, etc. was outside and a good option. There is also a New York pizza parlor!
ROOM SERVICE: On days when we had an early Shore Excursion, we liked this option. Menu was provided and placed on the door the night before. There were plenty of choices…even hot food and we always had coffee delivered to enjoy while getting ready for the day. No charge although a small tip was appreciated.
THE WEATHER: Seattle was lovely, sunny and about 75 degrees. We had very little rain during the cruise and temperatures ranged from 54-62.Having gone other months, I prefer late May/early June because the days are longer and there is still snow on the mountains making it prettier. We did notice that the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau has suffered greatly from Global Warming and had receded.
ENTERTAINMENT: Kudos to Holland for some of the best entertainment at sea! The Music Walk choices are outstanding! Loved Billboard Onboard that features two incredibly talented pianists (who never played together before the cruise) that change up their program regularly. Some popular pieces, country, oldies and by request. Awesome! Programs are timed at the various venues so you can enjoy more than one in an evening with about 15 minutes in between
Lincoln Stage Center features a stringed quintetto that play classical numbers. This was very popular among the seniors and filled quickly.
B.B. King’s Blues Club was terrific! Good for listening or dancing. Varied shows and just plain fun!
The Main Stage: On Decks 2 & 3, this was used for many different programs. Our favorite is the Step One Dance Company. They could advertise this better because it’s more than just Singing and Dancing. Using lasers, it is totally unbelievable how it’s presented not using scenery. On the newer, larger ships the screens are wraparound 270 degrees and it’s even more incredible. A dance team of 3 gals and 3 guys are so energetic and extremely talented. You need to see it to believe it! We attended the EXC Talk on the First 150 years of Holland America. It was well done and very informative.
SHORE EXCURSIONS: These were well organized, and we took one in Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan. They are getting quite pricey but isn’t everything? We especially liked the Ketchikan excursion to Misty Fjords by boat. They pulled up crab traps so we could see live crabs and hold them. Then we were taken to a lovely historic lodge where we had all the fresh crab legs we could eat. Downside was the excursion left at 8:15 AM so it was an odd time to be eating. It didn’t stop up and it was Delicious!!!
ONBOARD: Holland has plenty of activities going on during sea days to keep those that wanted to be busy, busy. Things like: Abs class, shopping specials, bridge, wildlife spotting, acupuncture and Chinese medicine, pickleball, bingo, casino, ping pong, book club, detox and fitness class, AA meetings, cooking shows, trivia, shuffleboard, wine tasting (surcharge) singles meeting, mass and more.