Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam

Cruising in ‘a New York State of Mind’ on the Nieuw Amsterdam

On board the brand new Nieuw Amsterdam, there are New York touches everywhere - the Manhattan skyline reproduced in the chandeliers, on wall murals, even in the main dining salon, The Manhattan Room.
But the atmosphere is definitely not Big Apple - the servers are polite, the passengers are smiling and the temperature is hovering in the high seventies.
As the shiny new ship sails out of Fort Lauderdale, silhouetted against the sunset, I’m happy to be settling in to a seat at a table in this Manhattan right now. I have just watched footage of the other New York digging out from more snow.
I’ll take my New York with a bit of heat, thanks.

Half Moon Cay, The Bahamas

First stop is a relaxing sojourn on the little island that is leased by the cruise ship company. While it is decidedly commercial, the beach is a long white smile. The water is warm and blue, and there’s barbeque. No complaints here.
There’s a new bar that just opened on the island - the Captain Morgan’s On the Rocks Island Bar. It’s shaped like a pirate ship, complete with a Jolly Roger flag flying from the top deck. You can get a nice view of the beach as well as listen to live Caribbean music while you watch the gifted bartenders shake up brilliant combinations of rum, fruit and other potables.

Pinnacle Dining Room

Like many cruise ships, the Nieuw Amsterdam has a prestige dining room for which there is an extra charge -$29 pp in this case. Well worth the investment in my opinion. The room is beautiful, with lots of glass and crystal chandeliers, Bulgari china and a better level of cuisine, in the sense that there are more expensive dishes available. Things like a bone-in rib eye, or lobster mac and cheese are regularly on the menu, there are hand made chocolate truffles with the dessert course and the service is more personal somehow.

The Tamarind Restaurant

The Asian inspired restaurant on board is my favourite so far - elegantly relaxed but very pretty. The servers are all slim as pencils, the plates are gorgeously arranged and the food is light and flavourful. Seafood Pho was a bowl of a delicious broth and generous amounts of scallops, shrimp and lobster. Potstickers came neatly stacked on a rectangular plate, and the Asian hot pot was an explosion of layered flavours, with vegetables and seafood. Dessert was a trio of small scoops of sorbet, one Passion fruit basil, one lychee green tea and one wasabi flavour. Satisfying and delicious without being too rich.