The ship was great. For those that have not been cruising before, there are lots of daily activities, a theatre, restaurants (food, food and more food), shopping (completely ignored this section!), art sales, a gym and a day spa.
There was a selection of restaurants on the Nieuw. Below is a photo at Lido of breakfast – a buffet style restaurant with 6 bars similar to this one. From the 6 bars, there were usually 3 or 4 different ranges of food – i.e.: some of them had the same food. We spent most of our time at this restaurant, mostly due to convenience of always being able to eat when you wanted. The main thing I learnt about this restaurant, is that the food did not vary much from day to day.
There was one other free restaurant – a more formal dining room, and 3 restaurants you could choose to go to, where you would pay $10, $20 or $30 USD to go to.
The theatre was smaller than we expected based on the number of people on the ship, but we never had a problem getting a seat. Our cruise had a comedian (not funny…. at all), two song and dance shows (one was fantastic, one okay), a magician (pretty good) and two violinists (pretty good). After the show, Chris and I would usually head to BB Kings Blues Club for a cocktail and a fantastic band with great charisma.
There were two pools (one inside and one outside) and a few hot tubs. The pool deck was cold most of the time- you had to wear a light sweater / jumper to be comfortable and the pool itself was cold. Why do they do that to you? The roof was mostly closed. You could rent private cabanas (as seen below), but I didn’t see anyone doing that. May be more of a tropical cruise sort of thing!
For a room, we chose ocean-view stateroom, with a king sized bed and sofa-bed and adjoining rooms (brilliant if travelling together with kids). While a balcony may have been nice, we were worried about a toppling pre-schooler and opted for the safer glassed in room!
Our room steward was great, he left us a different towel animal at turn-down every night. You can even go to a towel animal-making instructional on the last day. The staff in general were very friendly and helpful, although the front desk staff often gave us the wrong information.
Having adjoining rooms was also fantastic! Although not for the view of the in-laws in bed perhaps! It did mean Chris and I could head out to the BB Blues Club each night leaving the little one in bed and the in-laws next door. Winning!!
A few tips for new cruisers –
- Tips are not included in your cruise price, but are automatically applied to your bill. These are not insignificant and for those from a non-tipping culture can come as a shock. On our ship – $12.50USD per person/per day. For our family of 3, this came to $262.50USD (or ~$340 AUD / CAD at the time of cruising).
- Don’t feel you need to try all of the foods in the buffet the first day – you’ll likely be seeing similar food all week.
- Be pushy in the buffet, or be very patient. People can be very rude!
- Take a cute pre-schooler on the cruise – a great conversation starter and the kids club is fantastic. Ours kept asking to go to kids club, so she went all day, most days!
- Consider eating at the seated dining room if you wish to eat a bit less and have a bit of class!
- Get to the ship early or really late on embarkation day! We arrived at midday – the time the ship was apparently open for boarding. We took more than four hours to find our way aboard.