This honest review of our Holland America Line Nieuw Statendam seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise will help you decide if this ship and itinerary are right for you.
In this post, we (Ann and Steve Teget) give you our honest feedback about the ship, our cabin, the itinerary, and dining. We’ll also cover our favorite things about Holland America Line’s Nieuw Statendam and what you absolutely won’t want to miss on this ship. Finally, we’ll tell you what we think could have made our experience even better. This was our 22nd cruise (first on Holland America Line) and was a hosted press trip. [AD]
Overview of our Holland America Line Nieuw Statendam review
In March, 2023, we took a seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the Nieuw Statendam. Our ports of call included Amber Cove (Domincan Republic), Nassau (Bahamas), Grand Turk (Turks and Caicos), and Half Moon Cay (Bahamas). Holland America Line invited us on this hosted press trip to familiarize ourselves with the ship, cruise line, dining options, and shore excursions. We had no obligation to write about it.
About Nieuw Statendam
The Holland America Line’s (HAL) Nieuw Statendam is among the newest ships in the line’s fleet. A Pinnacle Class ship, she is 975 feet long and has space for 2,666 guests. The ship was full on our Spring Break sailing with passengers of all ages aboard. Decor on Nieuw Statendam is modern, the art tasteful, and furnishings are in good condition.
PIN FOR LATER
The Nieuw Statendam offers 10 restaurants catering to all tastes from a causal buffet and burgers to five formal specialty restaurants. With 10 bars on board, you’re also sure to find the drink of your choice, whether that’s a frozen daiquiri by the pool or a more classic cocktail like Steve’s favorite – the Manhattan.
Pools on the Nieuw Statendam
The Lido Deck on the Nieuw Statendam offers a large pool area with a retractable roof which can be closed during inclement weather. One large pool and three hot tubs clustered together mean there is plenty of space in the water. Even cruising during Spring Break, we could always find a lounge chair and space for a dip in the pool. A second pool with hot tubs, also on deck 9, can be found at the very back of the ship overlooking the stern. The ship has no water slides, go-cart tracks, or ropes courses, though HAL does offer children’s/teen’s programming.
Wellness travel on the Nieuw Statendam
The Nieuw Statendam is perfect for wellness travelers. It has a full-service spa, salon, waking/jogging track, and well-equipped fitness center. Operated by One World Spa, the facility offers appointments for everything from a manicure or massage to facials, men’s shaves and even services like acupuncture.
You can also find a variety of complimentary fitness classes onboard. Ann enjoyed the Stretch and Release class on the pool deck. Classes for meditation and yoga are also available onboard. In addition, you can make appointments for personalized training sessions with a fitness instructor for an additional fee.
Other services and amenities onboard
The ship offers a tasting bar, casino, several live music venues, as well as a large theater. In addition, she has shops featuring jewelry, cosmetics, duty-free liquor, souvenirs and a few toiletry items. The selection of toiletries is limited, so be sure to pack what you think you’ll need.
A look inside our Veranda Stateroom
Holland America arranged accommodations for us in room 5215, a Veranda stateroom located starboard side, aft. The room offered a nearly king-sized bed and well-designed bathroom with luxury amenities including Elemis soap, shampoo, and lotion. The room also had plenty of closet space and storage for our cruise. Finally, we had a lovely private veranda with comfortable seating and ottomans for our feet. Click the link below for a complete video tour of our room.
Dining review of the Nieuw Statendam
We tried four of the five specialty restaurants on board, including Rudi’s Sel de Mer, Pinnacle Grill, Tamarind, and Canaletto. We also ate at the Lido Market, Club Orange, Dive-In, New York Pizza, the Main Dining Room, and ordered room service. You can read our full Nieuw Statendam dining review HERE. But for now, let’s start with our favorite (and one of the best restaurants we’ve found at sea) – Rudi’s Sel de Mer.
Rudi’s Sel de Mer
We dined at Rudi’s on night two of our cruise. We were so delighted by our meal we immediately booked a second dinner there for later in the week. What we enjoyed most about Rudi’s Sel de Mer is that it wasn’t just a good meal; it provided a memorable experience, as well.
From the artistic touches, like these plates and a hand-painted mural on the wall, to the well-prepared and beautifully presented dishes, Rudi’s brought a sense of adventure with each new course.
Our waiter, Mohamed, and Assistant Maitre’d Valentin, took exceptional care of us. They guided us (twice) through a spectacular culinary journey made even better by expert wine pairings from sommelier Stephen.
PRO TIP: Ask to see the book about the unique art on the plates. It is fascinating!
More reviews of dining on Nieuw Statendam: Tamarind
Tamarind features mild flavors and culinary traditions of Southeast Asia, China, and Japan. We both love Thai food, so it was a good fit for us. We followed the recommendations of our waiter, but later wished we’d been a little more adventurous with our choices.
That said, Ann enjoyed the shrimp tempura and Panang red curry coconut chicken. For non-seafood eaters like Steve, the wasabi & soy crusted beef tenderloin or crispy duck with ginger-chili glaze were good options. This is definitely one of the restaurants where you’ll want to order a cocktail. With a dedicated bar, they offer a unique menu and selections you won’t find elsewhere on board.
PRO TIP: Even the dishes that are marked “spicy” don’t have too much heat. If you prefer extra spicy, ask your server to bring hot chili oil or crushed red pepper on the side.
Pinnacle Grill seemed to be the busiest and most-desired specialty restaurant on Nieuw Statendam. Centrally located on Deck 2, Pinnacle Grill is a steakhouse with a menu developed by James Beard Award-winning chef David Burke.
While the entrées like Ann’s beef tenderloin with lobster dumplings were good, the unique presentations of appetizers like the clothesline candied bacon were our favorite part of this meal.
Entrées here include a selection of 28-day wet-aged USDA Prime steaks. Most are included in the specialty dining charge, but making it “surf and turf,” and adding the broiled lobster or having the 16 oz dry aged Delmonico steak require a supplemental fee.
PRO TIP: Don’t know what wine will pair best with your crab cakes or filet? Ask to see the sommelier and remind them about your drink package. They are happy to help you find just the right fit.
Dive-In is a pool-side casual spot to grab a burger and fries. In addition to beef burgers, Dive-In also has several non-beef options, including a chicken sandwich (The Back Flip), a grilled Portabella mushroom (The Freestyle) and a veggie burger.
Dive-In also serves 100% all beef Nathan’s hotdogs. We didn’t try the hotdogs, but asked a lady in the elevator if we snap a photo of hers.
PRO TIP: When you dine here, be sure to try the trademarked Dive-In sauce. We suggest ordering it on the side for fry dipping.
Nieuw Statendam review: New York Pizza
On Deck 10, overlooking the pool, is New York Pizza. We stepped up to the counter and each ordered a nine-inch, thin crust pizza. They gave us a pager and we waited only about 15 minutes until our pizzas were done. Then, we enjoyed them from our lounger.
We liked the pizzas and that we could choose our own toppings. The crust was crisp (and chewy in the right way) and the toppings were fresh.
PRO-TIP: Order your pizza through the Navigator app and get a notification when it’s ready.
For more dining reviews
Read more about our other dining experiences at Canaletto, Club Orange, The Dining Room, Lido Market (buffet), afternoon tea and with room service in THIS BLOG POST.
Seven-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary
The cruise for this Nieuw Statendam review was a seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise which set sail from Fort Lauderdale. It included two sea days as well as stops in Nassau, Bahamas; Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos; and HAL’s private island, Half Moon Cay (pronounced like KEY). We participated in shore excursions through Holland America Line at each port.
In Nassau, we traveled to Blue Lagoon Island for an adults-only VIP beach experience. From the port, we boarded a tender and rode about 40 minutes through Nassau’s harbor to the island. There, we spent a day relaxing on a beach in reserved loungers with an umbrella. Included were unlimited Bahama Mama cocktails, water, and juice as well as a lunch of chicken, fish, rice, plantains and salad.
ABOUT ACCESSIBILITY: The tender was wheelchair accessible and there were beach wheelchairs available on the island for no additional charge.
Amber Cove, Dominican Republic:
Here, we booked the Dominican Coffee: A Local Experience tour through the ship. On this well-guided tour, we learned about coffee cultivation and the lives of the farmers who grow it. This fascinating cultural experience took us about one hour from the ship into the hills where we met farmers and watched as they roasted and brewed coffee in the traditional way. Then, we had the chance to enjoy a cup (or two!). We also got our hands in the dirt and helped plant coffee trees. We highly recommend this excursion. It’s one of the best we’ve ever done in more than 15 cruises to the Caribbean.
Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos
Our Island Exploration Tour By Hummer excursion in Grand Turk put us behind the wheel of an electric hummer for a tour around the island. We drove in a group while a guide in a lead vehicle shared (via our car’s radio) the history and highlights of the island. We had several stops on the tour for photos and a hands-on activity where we learned about animal life on the island.
Half Moon Cay
The final stop on our cruise was Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line’s private Caribbean island. We tendered ashore, then settled into our loungers beneath a clamshell. After relaxing a bit, we participated in the Eco Bike & Hike Tour. It was a fun way to see the island and get a taste of other activities offered there. Our 90-minute tour included a guided bike ride, short hike, water break, and a few stops for photos and rest.
A few things to know if you’re considering booking this excursion on Half Moon Cay.
Included on the island is a picnic lunch. Note that while there are dispensers with complimentary juice and water, your on-board beverage package does not apply to drinks purchased on the island.
PRO TIP: Reserve a clamshell online before your cruise. This retractable shade helped protect us from the hot sun on the beach and made our day more enjoyable.
Review of our Nieuw Statendam favorites
The Nieuw Statendam offers phenomenal live music in multiple venues. We really enjoyed listening to a quartet of strings and piano that performed regularly throughout the cruise in multiple venues.
Later in the evening, we had fun at BB King’s Blues Club where we took in live music from many genres and liked that there was a large dance floor. Also on board is the Rolling Stone Rock Room, Lincoln Center State, and a venue offering dueling pianos. Most of these venues are close together and form the Music Walk. It was nice to go from venue to venue and hear different genres of music each night.
Laundry service is best at sea
Holland America Line’s laundry service is legendary. Seriously, it is the best we’ve ever had at sea or on land (and this includes at home). Send one bag for $25 or better yet, invest in the $49 unlimited laundry and pressing service, then send everything out. It will come back pressed and folded (or hanging–you choose!) beautifully. They even ironed Ann’s swimsuit cover-up. Best of all, they did all of this in less than 24 hours!
A few more of our favorite things
The Navigator app
Cruise lines have long offered apps for your phone, but Holland America’s stands well above the others we’ve used. Download the Navigator app HERE before you sail and use it to see your itinerary, book shore excursions, or make dining reservations. The best part is that you can actually add activities and events to your personalized calendar BEFORE you board, unlike other cruise apps we’ve used. We loved that!
Once on board you can even order a burger or pizza from the comfort of your poolside lounger. (Don’t worry, you’ll get a notification through the app when it’s ready.)
The Crow’s Nest
This multipurpose area on Deck 12 was perfect for playing board games, putting together a puzzle, or reading a book. With panoramic views, it was a lovely spot to relax and unwind.
This group of ladies (pictured below) spent time at The Crow’s Nest playing mahjongg and day drinking. Not a bad way to pass the time, is it?
Variety of comfortable seating
One thing we quickly noticed (and appreciated) was the variety of comfortable seating on this ship. The Nieuw Statendam is tastefully decorated AND includes seating suitable for a variety of sizes and shapes of people. Nicely spaced chairs also left room for those with disabilities to move around.
The only exception to this were the bar stools that were permanently affixed to the floor at most bars.
What you don’t want to miss
You don’t want to miss dessert course at Rudi’s Sel de Mer.
Make reservations online for Rudi’s before your cruise and enjoy a slow-paced culinary adventure. Ask for your waiter’s recommendations, try new foods, and for goodness sake, save room for dessert. We highly recommend the Crêpes Suzette and Rudi’s Face-to-Face Chocolate.
What would make our Nieuw Statendam cruise even better
While we enjoyed the food (especially breakfast), the Lido buffet was consistently busy during peak hours with no clear lines for stations. As a result, it could sometimes be difficult to see the options available. At lunchtime, the line for ice cream was often 10 or more people deep. Note, we were there during Spring Break, so this may not always be the case.
Also, even with a beverage package, guests must sign a paper ticket for every drink purchased. While this may help the cruise line keep track of inventory, it slowed bar service. Eliminating this practice would have improved our experience.
Some final thoughts
Overall, we truly enjoyed our seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Nieuw Statendam. We’ll especially remember our terrific dinners in Rudi’s Sel de Mer, the impeccable laundry service, and our fascinating coffee and cultural experience at Amber Cove. We recommend this ship and would absolutely sail aboard her again.
Thank you, teammates!
Finally, no review of the Nieuw Statendam would be complete without a mention of the friendly teammates (crew) and their genuine hospitality. While on board, we witnessed teammates working together to meet the needs of their guests time and time again. We’d also like to offer a special thanks to Isobel from Guest Relations for all she did to make our press trip so special.
When you sail, take time to recognize the efforts of the hard-working teammates who make your vacation memorable. And please be sure to give them high marks on your post-cruise review. Have you sailed on HAL’s Nieuw Statendam? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.