Amsterdam- Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)

Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)



Berlitz’s Ratings

Ship: 397 out of 500

Accommodation: 151 out of 200

Food: 261 out of 400

Service: 268 out of 400

Entertainment: 73 out of 100

Cruise: 287 out of 400

Overall Score: 1437 out of 2000

Amsterdam Statistics

Size: Mid-size Ship

Tonnage: 62,735

Lifestyle: Premium

Cruise Line: Holland America Line

Former Names: none

IMO Number: 9188037

Builder: Fincantieri (Italy)

Original Cost: $400 million

Entered Service: Oct 2000

Registry: The Netherlands

Length (ft/m): 780.8/238.0

Beam (ft/m): 105.8/32.2

Draft (ft/m): 25.5/7.8

Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (37,500kW)/2 azimuthing pods

Passenger Decks: 12

Total Crew: 600

Passengers (lower beds): 1,380

Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 45.4

Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.3

Cabins (total): 690

Size Range (sq ft/m): 184.0-1,124.8/17.1-104.5

Cabins (for one person): 0

Cabins (with private balcony): 172

Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 20

Wheelchair accessibility: Good

Cabin Current: 110 and 220 volts

Elevators: 12

Casino (gaming tables): Yes

Slot Machines: Yes

Swimming Pools: 2 (1 w/ sliding glass dome)

Hot Tubs (on deck): 2

Self-Service Launderette: Yes

Dedicated Cinema/Seats: Yes/235

Library: Yes

Onboard currency: US$


Dutch-style decor and friendly service for mature cruisers

Overview. Amsterdam is extremely comfortable, with fine, elegant, and luxurious decorative features. On the negative side, the quality of food and service is poor and there’s a lack of understanding of what it really takes to make a ‘luxury’ cruise experience, despite what is touted in Holland America Line’s (HAL’s) brochures.

The Ship. Amsterdam, a close sister ship to Rotterdam, has a nicely raked bow, as well as the familiar interior flow and design style. It was the first ship in the HAL fleet to feature an azimuthing pod propulsion system. The pods are powered by a diesel-electric system.

The decor retains much of the traditional ocean liner detailing so loved by frequent passengers, with some use of medium and dark wood paneling. However, some color combinations - particularly for the chairs and soft furnishings - are rather wacky. Much of the artwork reflects the line’s glorious past, as well as items depicting the city of Amsterdam’s history.

The interior focal point is a three-deck-high atrium, in an oval, instead of circular, shape. A whimsical ‘Astrolabe’ is the featured centerpiece in this atrium. Also clustered in the atrium lobby are the reception desk, shore excursion desk, photo shop, and photo gallery.

The ship has three principal passenger stairways - so much better than two from the viewpoint of safety, flow, and accessibility. There is a glass-covered pool on the Lido Deck between the mast and the twin funnels, watched over by a sculpture of a brown bear catching salmon.

The casino, in the middle of a major passenger flow on one of the entertainment decks, has blackjack, roulette, poker, and dice tables alongside the requisite rows of slot machines.

HAL provides cappuccino and espresso coffees and free ice cream at certain times, as well as hot hors d’oeuvres in all bars - something other major lines have dropped, or charge extra for.

With one whole deck of suites (and a dedicated, private Concierge Lounge, with preferential passenger treatment), the company has in effect created a two-class ship. The charge to use the washing machines and dryers in the self-service launderette is irritating.

Perhaps the ship’s best asset is its friendly and personable Filipino and Indonesian crew, although communication (in English) can prove frustrating at times, particularly in the dining room and informal buffet areas. The room service menu is limited, and room service is very basic.

Families. There are children’s and teens’ play areas - token gestures by a company that traditionally does not cater well to children. Popcorn is available at the Wajang Theater for moviegoers, while adjacent is the popular Java Café.

Accommodation. This is spread over five decks (some cabins have full or partially obstructed views), in 16 grades: 11 with outside views, and five interior grades (no view). There are four Penthouse Suites, and 50 suites - 14 more than aboard sister ship Rotterdam. No cabin is more than 130ft (40m) from a stairway, which makes it very easy to find your way from your cabin to the public rooms. Although 81 percent of cabins have outside views, only 25 percent of those have balconies.

All of the ‘standard’ interior and outside-view cabins are tastefully furnished, and have twin beds that convert to a queen-size bed - but the space is a little tight for walking between beds and the vanity unit. There is a decent amount of closet and drawer space, although this will be tight for longer voyages. The fully tiled bathrooms are disappointingly small, particularly on long cruises, the shower tubs are very small, and the storage for toiletries is quite basic. There is little detailing to distinguish the bathrooms from those aboard the Statendam-class ships. All cabin TV sets carry CNN and TNT, as well as movies, and ship information and shopping channels.

There are 50 Verandah Suites and four Penthouse Suites on Navigation Deck; all share a private Concierge Lounge, with a concierge to handle such things as special dining arrangements, shore excursions, and special requests. Strangely there are no butlers for these suites, as aboard ships with similar facilities. The lounge, with its wood detailing and private library, is accessible only by private key-card.

Four Penthouse Suites each have a separate steward’s entrance, plus a separate bedroom with king-size bed, vanity desk, large walk-in closet with excellent drawer and hanging space, living room, dining room (seating up to eight), wet bar, and pantry. The bathroom is large, and has a big oval Jacuzzi tub, separate shower enclosure, two washbasins, and separate toilet and bidet. A guest bathroom has a toilet and washbasin. There is a good-size private balcony. Suite occupants get personal stationery, complimentary laundry and ironing, cocktail-hour hors d’oeuvres and other goodies, as well as priority embarkation and disembarkation.

Dining. The La Fontaine Dining Room seats 747, spans two decks, and has a huge stained-glass ceiling measuring almost 1,500 sq ft (140 sq m), with a floral motif and fiber-optic lighting. There are tables for two, four, six, or eight, but few tables for two. Both open seating and fixed (assigned tables and times) seating are available, while breakfast and lunch are open seating (you’ll be seated by restaurant staff when you enter). Rosenthal china and fine cutlery are provided.

Other dining options. The 88-seat Pinnacle Grill is available to all passengers on a reservation-only basis, with priority reservations given to those in suite grades. There is a cover charge, but there’s better food and presentation than in the main dining room (it’s open for lunch and dinner, reservations required). The whimsically surreal artwork features scenic landscapes. The cuisine is California-Italian in style, with small portions and few vegetables. The wine list is good, and wines are served in the correct stemware.

Another venue, the Lido Buffet Restaurant, is open for casual dinners on all except the last night of each cruise, in an open-seating arrangement. Tables are set with crisp linens, flatware, and standard stemware. A set menu includes a choice of four entrées.

For casual breakfasts and lunches, the Lido Buffet Restaurant provides old-style, stand-in-line serve-yourself canteen food - adequate for anyone used to TV dinner food, but most definitely not as lavish as the brochures claim. Although the salad items appear adequate when displayed, they are too cold and quite devoid of taste. The constant supply of iceberg lettuce doesn’t seem to go away, but there is little choice of other, more suitable, lettuces and greens.

Also, a poolside ‘Dive-In at the Terrace Grill’ features signature burgers (Dive-In sauce), hot dogs, and fries.

Entertainment. The 577-seat Queen’s Lounge is the venue for all production shows, strong cabaret, and other entertainment. It is two decks high, with main and balcony level seating. The stage has hydraulic lifts and three video screens, and closed-loop system for the hearing-impaired.

While HAL is not known for its fine entertainment (the budgets aren’t high enough), what the line does offer is a consistently good, tried and tested array of cabaret acts. The production shows, while a good attempt, fall short on storyline, choreography, and performance, with colorful costuming and lighting hiding the weak spots.

A number of bands, a string ensemble, and solo musicians present live music for dancing and listening in many of the lounges and bars. There’s dancing in the Crows Nest (atop the navigation bridge) and serenading string music in the Explorer’s Lounge, among other venues.

Spa/Fitness. The Ocean Spa is located one deck above the navigation bridge at the very forward part of the ship. It includes a gymnasium with all the latest muscle-pumping exercise machines, including an abundance of treadmills. It has forward views over the ship’s bows. There’s an aerobics exercise area, large beauty salon with ocean-view windows to the port side, several treatment rooms, and men’s and women’s saunas, steam rooms, and changing areas.

The spa is operated by Steiner, a specialist concession, whose young staff will try to sell you Steiner’s own-brand Elemis beauty products. Some fitness classes are free. Massage facials, pedicures, and beauty salon treatments cost extra.

For the sports-minded, two paddle-tennis courts are located at the aft of the Sports Deck.