We have an accounting of all the expected gratuities, and a detail of our opinion on the service.
Nieuw Amsterdam’s staff was friendly and attentive, although some dining room staff was very slow and sometimes their accents were hard to understand. One morning breakfast was so slow, we waited for 30 minutes and some people almost missed their shore excursion. Something was wrong in the kitchen, we were told.
Cabin stewards were kind of invisible, and the “please service” sign hung on our door didn’t always do the trick. We had prompter service when something broke.
A gratuity of $11.50 per day, per guest was charged to our shipboard account (the gratuity is $12 per day for those staying in suites). The gratuity is shared by room stewards and waiters. Additionally, a 15-percent gratuity was automatically added to all bar charges and to wine purchases in dining rooms.
On our seven-night cruise there were two formal nights with tuxedos or suits required for men and gowns/cocktail dresses for women. The rest of the cruise was a mix of smart casual and casual nights, but no jeans, shorts etc. were allowed after dark, except at the more casual Lido Restaurant.
Guests are automatically enrolled in Mariner Society membership after their first cruise with Holland America. Each day earns cruise day credits which can be accumulated; services purchased on-board—such as spa treatments, dining at specialty restaurants and taking shore excursions—also count. The credits can be used towards a gourmet dinner, massage, shore excursions, etc. on future cruses. The more cruise day credits cruisers accumulate, the higher their “star” level. The highest level—Four-Star Mariner—is attained after 200 cruise days.
Other perks of the Mariner Society, depending on star level, include:
A collectible gift presented to you on board
A 15 percent discount on Holland America’s merchandize
A 50 percent discount on cruise fares for the third or fourth guests sharing your stateroom on certain sailings
A waiver of air deviation fees
Priority disembarkation, tender and check in
Invitations to special sailings