It's taken a while for me to get my review posted, but here it is!
For background, I sailed on NA from 12/21/19 - 12/28/19 with my 14 year old daughter. This was our first HAL cruise, though we have sailed on Royal Caribbean a number of times previously. I initially booked an inside room and about two weeks before the sailing I received an upsell offer to move to an obstructed window room. I took it since it was only $39 per person and I liked the idea of natural light. Then the week before our sailing, I received another upsell offer to move to a balcony room for just $79 per person. This was the BEST decision I've ever made. Our room was fantastic and I fell in love with the balcony (I'll never go back to an inside room again 😆).
The things I loved:
The food! It was amazing! Especially the NY Pizza! We ate there at least once a day and found ourselves rushing there at 11pm for a snack before they closed a few nights! I also loved that room service was included.
Pinnacle Grill was one of our best dining experiences. The food, atmosphere, and service were outstanding.
The Pinnacle Bar was my favorite place to have a cocktail in the evenings. The drinks exceeded expectations. The cocktail waitress was so sweet, knew us by name early in the week, and always went out of her way to find and bring my daughter's favorite snack to her that wasn't typically served there.
BB Kings was the best evening entertainment for us. The performers were so good!
The pool chairs by the pool were cushioned and so comfortable! It was one of the first things I noticed while exploring on embarkation day.
The retractable roof over the pool saved the day when it rained
The hand towels (wash clothes) in the public restrooms to dry your hands with instead of paper towels! It was such a nice touch and spoke to the overall sophisticated atmosphere on the ship.
The Christmas decorations were beautiful and Christmas day and evening were very nicely done. It was a Gala night, so that made it extra special.
There were about 300 kids onboard and I never even noticed them. This was one of the biggest advantages to sailing with HAL, especially over Christmas when there are usually a ton of kids on cruise ships. I couldn't have asked for a more relaxing and quiet week!
There were so many quiet and comfortable spaces throughout the ship. My favorite was the Explorations Cafe on deck 11. That view was amazing!!!
The balcony in our stateroom was larger than I expected it to be. It was my favorite place to sit all week, like my own slice of heaven, if you will. I also loved that it was fully covered so we could still sit out there when it rained.
Our room steward was the friendliest person I had ever met. He always had a smile on his face and chatted with us daily.
The television and movie selections in our stateroom were awesome! I was surprised to see so many newer released movies available at no extra cost. We were even able to watch some football bowl games at sea and Sunday NFL games that we didn't want to miss! Maybe this is the norm on Royal Caribbean, I'm not sure because I'd always stayed in an inside room and never wanted to be in it long enough to watch a movie or game 😂.
The bathroom was larger than I am used to and had a bath tub! As someone that's only ever been in a room with a stand up shower so small that you couldn't turn around without brushing against the wall, all the space in that bathtub/shower was everything!!
Afternoon tea was one of my favorite activities! It was so nice and we loved the little sweets and sandwiches that we could only get there.
A birthday cupcake and card were delivered to our stateroom on my daughter's birthday and the dining room stewards sang to her in the dining room. I didn't ask or mention her birthday, they just did it on their own. She felt so special. These were personal touches that mean the world to us!
The laundry service was the unsung hero of the week. We used it twice and went home with mostly clean clothes. It's amazing how much you can fit in that little bag for $20!
I really enjoyed the pool towels being readily available by the pool and not having to scan them in/out and the lines that come with that process.
Finally, the bed was so comfortable. I slept like a baby every single night 🙂
Now for the few things I didn't love:
We had the SBP and the Quench package but were still charged for a handful of drinks. I checked my statement daily and had to stand in the long guest services line have it corrected. This seemed to stop after the third day though.
Speaking of Guest Services - that line was ALWAYS so long and SO SLOW!
There wasn't much seating at the Lido pool. Sea days were near impossible to sit down in that area.
I wasn't a fan of the MDR breakfast hours. I wished they were open longer than an hour and a half each morning.
We initially had the any time dining but when we discovered we couldn't make dinner reservations for more than three nights ahead and saw the huge crowd of people waiting to be seated, we switched to the 8pm seating on the second night (the early seating was full). I didn't love eating that late but it was better than showing up to the dining room at dinner time and not being able to get in right away. I'd like to be able to make reservations for the week at my preferred time so that I don't have to think about it every few days.
One of my bags that I put in the hallway the night before disembarking was missing once I got off the ship. It turned out that another guest took my bag by accident and didn't even realize it until HAL called him to let him know he left his bag behind in the terminal... I don't even think I can count this as a dislike because once my bag was found/recovered, HAL shipped it to my house overnight. I was impressed with the speed of that whole process. No harm, no foul 🙂
In short, I absolutely LOVED our time on Nieuw Amsterdam and sailing with HAL. I can't wait to sail with them again!!
Last but not least - a special thank you to every one of you that answered my million questions over the last few months and helped to acclimate me to HAL along the way. I appreciate you ALL 🙂