We just returned from a wonderful 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Nieuw Statendam. This was our 12th HAL cruise but first on the Pinnacle class.. We had a VB booked, and 4 days before, got an email for an upsell to a Vista Suite for 399 pp. We passed on that. Two days before, we got an upsell offer to a Signature Suite for 499 pp. We jumped on that one, and we were so happy we did, because this suite was A-MAZING! Great central location, beautiful, functional layout and the bathroom was wonderful. I literally jumped up and down after examining the suite saying..."I love this room!" I continued to say it all week long. I decided I liked it even more than Neptune Suites. The shower was luxurious. The lighting in the room and bathroom was gorgeous, and in fact the lighting throughout the ship was equally as nice. Our stewards Kadek and Komang were unobtrusive and proficient. Laundry service was fast and professional.
We were going to upgrade to the Elite Beverage Package once on-board, but decided to stay with the Signature Package since we splurged on the suite. They removed some selections from a year ago, so there were only a few choices. We managed with what they offered and it was adequate. At least you could still get nice cocktails with the Signature Package, my favorite was the Tanqueray 0010 Martini.
There are so many options for dining and we tried nearly all of them. The best by far was the Tamarind. We were so impressed, we went back three times. Barbara and Nila were very gracious and warm, and so attentive. We had lamb, tenderloin, duck, chicken curry, shrimp and lobster dishes and all were superb. The manager was also a very gracious man and he was out on the floor at all times, assisting servers as needed as well as talking to customers. All of this was in stark contrast to our most disappointing meal, in the Pinnacle. I am not sure we will ever make a late reservation (8:00) again. They seemed completely backed up. The service was rushed and we waited a great deal. No bread was served until the dinner arrived, even though she promised it to us twice. The salad I had was not good, the bacon didn't taste real. The baked potato was completely dried out. The beets seemed over done. The filet mignon however, was perfect. My husband got the "hashed potatoes with blue cheese aioli", but they looked and tasted like they came out of a frozen food bag. But the service was just not there at all, nothing compared to meals in the past. Was it just because we arrived late? We canceled a second reservation and went to the Tamarind instead. We did however return for lunch, and that was so much better. The Lido, if you can navigate the crowds, is incredible. So many choices and all done well. We ate in the Canaletto twice and you can't beat the view and the quieter atmosphere. The servings are smaller this year and that is just fine with me, as I often found it to be too much food served in the past. The MDR is beautiful and the lighting is so pretty, we enjoyed one breakfast, one lunch and one dinner here. The chairs are very comfortable and the place settings so elegant.
We bought a spa pass and I was disappointed with a few things, mostly in the design. The hydro-pool was splashy, the tile loungers were in the same space as all the other saunas, steam rooms and showers so it was loud. Not relaxing at all. One of my best memories is from the Westerdam and my first time on those loungers. Ambient music, the sound of water hitting rocks, the view out to sea. On this ship, there is a view, but you can't hear the music because there is way too much going on right behind you. And the doors slamming, yikes. If we go on another Pinnacle class ship, we won't purchase the pass.
The ports were great and the weather perfect. We spent so much time in the water. Grand Turk, we walked to Governor's Beach and spent a quiet morning enjoying the turquoise waters, how beautiful! St. Thomas,we took a catamaran tour to St. John to snorkel off Honeymoon beach. Great snorkeling here, saw lots of fun things including sea turtles. Half Moon Cay is our favorite stop and it was a great day and so hard to leave. I prefer not sharing the island with another ship as it made things congested, especially when leaving, it felt we were in Disney with the queues to get on the tenders.
Our favorite spot at night was at BB King. This band was great! Each and every musician was so very talented. The dance floor and seating and stage are a great design on this ship, much improved over the older ships. The Rolling Stone Rock Room did not play rock and roll, at least not for the somewhat limited time we saw them. The Eagles and Neil Diamond are not rock. The band was talented, but their song selections were tame.
The world stage is beautiful but yes it is small for such a big ship. I really liked the comedian Ken Boyd, he was very funny, mostly doing improv.
This cruise had some hits and misses but we had a great time and feel so very grateful to be able to cruise (thus far) once a year. I would sail on the Pinnacle class again and would feel better prepared to enjoy it even more.
I am happy to answer any questions!