Once a year Holland America Line brings together Senior Management and its top agency producers for an opportunity to interact, share thoughts and suggestions and to enjoy the onboard amenities that are available to all guests. So we packed our bags and headed to Ft. Lauderdale this November for 7-days sailing through the Caribbean aboard the all-new ms Nieuw Amsterdam.
Day one – At Sea
We spent the morning attending presentations – it’s an opportunity for us to hear from the Holland America Line management team and where they are focusing their efforts. Cuisine – a new culinary council, headed by Master Chef Rudi Sodamin, has been tasked to come up with 100 new menu items. Entertainment – there is an emphasis on improving the entertainment by hiring singers, actors and dancers with Broadway credentials.
During the afternoon, Nina and I were free to get to know ms Nieuw Amserdam. The theme for this Signature Class ship is nieuw Amsterdam or New York. The chandelier in the main atrium is a striking crystal rendition of the New York skyline – upside down! The art is everywhere – tiles, sculpture, black and white photography, prints. We oohed and ahhed over The GreenHouse Spa, checked out the popular gym, and found the new poolside cabanas.
Day Two – Turks & Caicos
Many guests never leave the modern Cruise Ship Center – count us among them! Lounge chairs on the beach – all lined up and begging to be occupied, or, for those who prefer a pool, lounge chairs around a large pool with the obligatory swim-up bar, band and fresh libations. Change of pace? The center square offers a variety of merchandise for souvenirs, or travel necessities. Yes, there is more that you can do on this island; we were content with the sunshine.
Sampling the alternative restaurants was mandatory! We heard great comments about Tamarind so off we went to indulge in its pan-Asian fare. We became immediate converts – the food was outstanding and the service superb. The adjacent Silk Den Lounge specializes in mixed Asian-themed specialty cocktails.
Day Three – San Juan, Puerto Rico
There are many ways to spend your day in San Juan, from city tours to zip lining. Ms Nieuw Amsterdam docked right below the old walled city and we chose to visit “El Morro” the fortress
that sits on a rocky promontory at the tip of city. Walking back through town, we saw colorful houses with wrought-iron balconies, draped with lush vines and vibrant plants. The narrow streets were paved with blue-grey stones, originally used as ballast in the Spanish ships.
The evening’s dining adventure was Canaletto – an Italian eatery in the Lido area. No charge for this alternative restaurant, but reservations are encouraged. We were all pleased with our choices – it would be hard not to love its classic Italian food!
Day Four – Philipsburg, St Maarten
This little island has both a Dutch side and a French side. We chose to meander through the charming town of Philipsburg consisting of roughly three streets that parallel the ocean front. Window shopping, sightseeing, and since we were here in November, for us some Christmas shopping.
Day Five – At Sea
Another day at sea – more meetings. This time the focus was on the world of Holland America – the destinations – the new itineraries as well as the tried and true.
During the afternoon, many of us signed up to participate in the On Deck for a Cure walk. Nine times around the deck, cheered on by Holland America staff and lured to the finish by the trays
of cookies and pink lemonade! The $15 donation goes to the Susan B Komen Foundation and to date Holland America Line has been able to contribute over $2,000,000 to the cause!
Feeling virtuous after all that exercise, we were able to indulge in dinner at the Pinnacle Grill! It’s visually stunning in black and white and silver and crystal. The emphasis is on Sterling Silver Beef® and Pacific Northwest specialties enhanced by an extensive wine list. I should have gone an extra lap around the deck!
Day Six – Half Moon Cay
My first experience at Half Moon Cay. I’ve read about it, heard about it and seen the videos. The beach is beautiful, lounge chairs are plentiful and little cabanas for rent provide additional privacy. Half Moon Cay offers bars, lunch, Jet Ski tours, snorkeling, swimming with the sting rays, horseback riding, parasailing – it’s all there. Opening soon – a new bar –the pirate ship is taking shape and Captain Morgan ought to arrive before the end of the year! It was a delightful day – our best one for weather and we hated to see it end.
Day Seven – Ft Lauderdale – over so soon?
Back to reality. We have new marketing photos thanks to Nina’s camera and eye and we have an excitement about this ship – she is gorgeous! And rave reviews for her crew. Everyone we encountered was happy, positive, attentive, and provided prompt service. Ms Nieuw Amsterdam is a winner!
You won’t be disappointed with the ms Nieuw Amsterdam, visit our Holland America Cruises page to see what specials we have to offer!