Nieuw Amsterdam

Cruising in Alaska on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam

Over this July 4th we did a pre-charter cruise on the HAL’s Nieuw Amsterdam sailing roundtrip from Vancouver. As luck would have it, embarkation day was also Canada’s 150 Anniversary with all the major festivities taking place around the port. There should be no question about Canadian’s knowing how to have a good time after watching all the fun taking place around us.

This is our clients 4th charter on the Nieuw Amsterdam out of a total of 29 charters with Worldwide and 25 with Holland America. While the charter is complicated, being a non-stop full Music Festival, the team at HAL knows our needs and makes it as easy as possible twice a year for this particular client.

The Nieuw Amsterdam is a medium sized ship at 2,100 passengers. This ship will be undergoing a major refit later this year incorporating many of the features and design of HAL’s newest ship the Koningsdam. What will not be changing is the legendary Holland America crew. They are some of the best in business with jobs being coveted from generation to generation by family members. They are pleasant and eager to please at all levels of service.

Some behind the scenes stuff: When I asked the hotel manager of many years how the crew were trained to remember guests’ names his answer was shocking! Years ago the crew took it upon themselves to develop a system to recognize passengers and they pass it along to new crew members but NOT hotel managers. He had no idea how they do it!

Food is another standout area for the HAL fleet. The main dining room offers traditional or anytime seating. The menus are diverse and interesting with good quality product. You certainly do not need to feel like you have to go to an alternative dining venue to get “good food”. The ship does have three alternative dining venues if you wish to use them: Tamarind for Asian cuisine, the Pinnacle Grill for a steakhouse with a Pacific Northwest twist, Canaletto for a good Italian experience and a new POP UP Restaurant Sel de Mer which is a great Seafood venue one night in the Pinnacle Grill. These restaurants all come with a surcharge. The very popular Dive-In does not have surcharge and serves really great burgers and fries, not to be missed.

As mentioned this cruise was to Alaska, which everyone should consider doing for their clients. First of all, it is a nice cool break from the record hot temperatures of the summer. Holland America has been going to Alaska longer than any cruise and before Alaska was even a state. You will notice that Holland America ships always seem to have the prime berthing spots compared to the other cruise lines. Holland America owns buses, trains, tour operations and lodges in Alaska. Fun fact, for many years some of the other cruise lines purchased their tours from HAL.

Tours are certainly a major part of any Alaskan cruise and should be budgeted into a program. Holland America is a leader in these tours providing almost any experience you can imagine. If you can’t find what you are looking for, they will customize one for you. Think boats, trains, planes, bikes, rafts, and kayaks seeing whales, eagles, bears, seals and much more. Not to mention spectacular scenery every mile of your cruise and in the ports of call. Cruising up close to giant glaciers is truly a unique sight and sound.

There are several traditional Alaska Cruise itineraries; round trip Vancouver, round trip Seattle, one way cruise from Seattle or Vancouver to Anchorage or in reverse. Each one of these itineraries are great however there are differences. We would be happy to explain the pluses and minuses of each itinerary to you.

Alaska offers a truly amazing cruise experience and on Holland America it is in true luxury. Alaska cruises are typically available May to September with July and August being the peak months.

This report was prepared by Steve Bloss on July 1, 2017. The views expressed as solely those of the author and not necessarily those of WWTCA.