My wife and I have been on numerous cruises (23+) throughout the world on various cruise lines over the years. This was our fifth cruise with Holland America. The 7-day Fort Lauderdale to Fort Lauderdale cruise started on November 24, 2019. The ship was the Nieuw Statendam.
This cruise included our children and their spouses ... 6 of us.
Boarding the ship was very easy. The long boarding line looked horrible but it moved fast and the Boarding staff were very efficient. Our room was towards the rear of the ship on deck 8, room 8187. This was a good location as we were near the primary sources of food on decks 2/3 and 9. This was a bad location if you wanted to go to the front of the ship. Most points of interest are on decks 2 and 3. The ship was one year old and was nice; very clean. The staff was great and the included food was excellent. There are many specialty restaurants and coffee bars that charge for their services.
The ship provided complimentary nothing. The Program Director (he has a new title now?)provided information about basically everything you needed to know on a timely basis. The entertainers were very professional and excellent musicians and dancers. The Program Director and Captain provided excellent presentations.
The passengers and the crew were all very nice people from all walks of life. The people on the ship made the cruise interesting and enjoyable. The only real negative was the nickel and diming on the ship. He felt like nothing was included in the cruise except the main restaurant and the buffet.
The visited Ports of Call follow.
The HAL Private Island – Our first port was located in the Bahamas. The private HAL resort was very nice. We took the Sting Ray Experience where we snorkeled with sting rays. It was great. The trainer was very nice and taught the group about sting rays and allowed us to take photos with them. It was well done.
Turks and Caicos – We did not take a ship tour. The island is small and primarily has a nice beach. We took an Island Tram tour for $50 person with an additional charge of $1.90 if you use a credit card. We toured the island on the tour which took around 2 hours. It probably was the most interesting thing to do on the island. The beach was wonderful with lots on fish to see if you have a mask and snorkel.
Puerto Plata – The port in the Dominican Republic was very nice and new appearing. We took the ship tour to the Ocean World Adventure Park and the Dolphin Swim. The park is about 15 minutes from the dock and is sort of a small Sea World. It was surprising nice. We swam with the dolphins in an up close and personal manner. It was great. The remainder of the park was very nice. This was a great tour.
Key West – We have been to Key West many times. It is always fun. One of the don't miss foods in Key West is the Frozen Dark Chocolate covered Key Lime Pie on a Stick. It can be purchased at Kermit's (200 Elizabeth St.), the green building near the harbor. It is the best.
Overall, the cruise was fun … no security concerns anywhere.
Nice, spacious verandah and nice bathroom .... great cabin stewards