What is There to Do on a Transatlantic Cruise?

by Janis on December 14, 2015

A common question about cruising from people that have never taken a cruise is “What is there to do during days at sea?”

This seems to be another way of asking, “Won’t I be bored on a cruise ship?”

Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam cruise ship in Cadiz, SpainDuring our November transatlantic cruise from Barcelona to Ft. Lauderdale, we had eight straight days at sea. Once our ship, Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam, left the port of Cadiz, Spain, pictured above, we sailed non-stop to Florida.

blue skies and blue seas on a transatlantic cruiseThat meant eight days of this view – nothing but blue skies and blue seas – which were generally calm for this cruise.

Now eight continuous seas days might not be for everyone, but we found them to be very relaxing and enjoyable.

Here are some of the ways that we spent our days at sea on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam cruise ship:

coffee at the Explorations Cafe on Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam cruise shipI liked starting the day with a good coffee at the Exploration’s Cafe. The ladies making coffee on the Nieuw Amsterdam added a special touch. In their free time, they hand wrote little messages on the coffee cups, so that you always got a fun little saying with your coffee.

The Explorations Cafe contains a coffee shop, the internet center and the library, which is in a partnership with the New York Times.

book from the library in the Explorations Cafe, Nieuw AmsterdamIn the library you can check out your favorite books to read from among thousands of New York Times bestsellers. The book above is written by one of the Holland America’s shipboard librarians. It was a fun read about shipboard life from a cruise staffer’s perspective.

Another book-related activity was the Nieuw Amsterdam Book Club. You signed up for the book club and received a loaner copy of the featured book; for this cruise is was The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, a novel set in Barcelona. On sea days, those guests who signed up for the book club got together at the appointed time and discussed different chapters of the book.

Cruise Director Mario leads "Good Morning Nieuw Amsterdam"Each sea day morning on the transatlantic cruise, Cruise Director Mario interviewed different people who work on the ship during his “Good Morning Nieuw Amsterdam” program. Mario’s interviews included many officers such as the Captain, the Hotel Manager and the Beverage Manager, but our favorite was his interview with representatives of the cruise staff pictured above. A dining room steward, a stateroom attendant, a cook, a bartender and a server from the Tamarind Restaurant were featured. They were interesting and funny.

During each “Good Morning Nieuw Amsterdam,” cruise guests had the opportunity to ask questions of the featured interviewees.

Explorations Speaker Vivianne Rowan, Nieuw Amsterdam transatlantic cruiseHolland America Line always includes Explorations Speakers lectures on its cruises. On the transatlantic there were two lecturers. We attended this session as speaker Vivianne Rowen discussed “The 7 Ancient Wonders of the World and the New 7 Wonders of the World.

Nieuw Amsterdam Flower Tour with Florist AryaThis was the Nieuw Amsterdam Flower Tour with one of the two shipboard florists. They explained how they stored the fresh flowers and created various arrangements around the ship. This was just one of the four or more different events put on every day by Culinary Arts Center Host Christina, in the back right corner of the photo above.

Behind the Scenes Kitchen Tour, Nieuw Amsterdam, Holland America LineAnother interesting event was the Behind the Scenes Kitchen Tour, during which cruise guests got to walk through the kitchens of the Nieuw Amsterdam where as many as 12,000 meals are prepared each day.

blue cheese topped filet, Pinnacle Grill lunch, Nieuw Amsterdam, Holland America LineSeeing all that food preparation made us hungry. We enjoyed a special lunch ($10 per person) of blue cheese-topped filet mignon at the Pinnacle Grill one day.

Cabana Club, Nieuw Amsterdam, Holland America LineAt the Nieuw Amsterdam’s Cabana Club, you can rent a private cabana for the day (or for the entire cruise.)  It’s a terrific place to read, relax, drink sparkling wine and catch up on work and email. We bought the unlimited internet package during our cruise. While the internet service is expensive (and much slower than on land), it allows us to stay in touch while in the middle of the Atlantic.

Cellar Master Bernie, Holland America Line, Nieuw AmsterdamHolland America’s Cellar Master Bernie led wine tasting classes on the Nieuw Amsterdam, ranging from the basic Navigator’s wine tasting to port tasting to the “Magic of Champagne and Sparkling Wine.”  These events are a terrific way to determine your favorite wines on the ship.

Sea View Bar, Nieuw Amsterdam, Holland America LineAfternoon sunning sessions were possible in the “adults only” Sea View pool on the aft end of the Nieuw Amsterdam. At the nearby Sea View Bar was the perfect place to try the cocktail of the day.

view from wrap-around deck, Nieuw Amsterdam, Holland America LineWhile there is a fully-equipped gym and a number of fitness classes on the Nieuw Amsterdam, we preferred to get our exercise from walking laps on the teak wrap-around deck. I never get tired of the water view.

evening sunset walk, view from wrap-around deck, Nieuw Amsterdam, Holland America LineMy favorite time to walk each day was at sunset. Each day offered a colorful, glorious view, the perfect inspiration to complete one’s daily 10,000 step goal.

Pink Coral, Silk Den, Nieuw AmsterdamSince we had the Signature Beverage Package, one of my research activities during the evening cocktail hour was to find my favorite cocktail. There were many contenders, but this Pink Coral martini at the 11th Deck Silk Den bar, was my favorite on the Nieuw Amsterdam.

new lobster entree, Tamarind Restaurant, Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam cruise shipWe like the pan-Asian Tamarind Restaurant on the Nieuw Amsterdam. We were excited to try the new lobster entree on the menu. It was not our favorite, but Mr. Jones loved the new duck appetizer.

lobster salad, Le Cirque, Nieuw Amsterdam, Holland America LineThe best lobster on the ship, in our opinion, was in the lobster salad appetizer during An Evening at Le Cirque in the Pinnacle Grill. This special event is our favorite dining experience at sea, on any of the eight cruise lines that we’ve sailed on, ranging from Carnival to Seabourn.

BB King's Blues Club, Nieuw Amsterdam, Holland America LineAfter dining each evening, many cruise guests head to the main show room for the evening’s featured entertainment. On the Nieuw Amsterdam, we would usually head to the BB King’s Blues Club.

the band, BB King's Blues Club, Nieuw Amsterdam, Holland America LineFor 10 out of 12 nights during our cruise, the B.B. King All Star Band and two lead singers performed a different show, two or three different times each night. You could listen and enjoy a cocktail, or get up and dance the night away. This is our kind of entertainment.

These activities that we enjoyed during our transatlantic cruise were just a tiny portion of all the scheduled events on board the Nieuw Amsterdam cruise ship.  You could take computer classes, watch first-run movies in the theater, participate in a pub crawl, taking dance lessons, play bingo, participate in trivia contests, improve your game with Bridge Instructors or try to win various “Olympic” challenges.

The bottom line – you will only be bored on sea days if you want to be bored. Or, you might just want to take a nap. The sea air and gentle rocking of the ship seems to facilitate nap-taking.

How do you prefer to spend your days at sea when on a cruise? Please share in comments below.

This was our forth cruise on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam. Check out these posts to learn more about the ship:

If you are on Pinterest, you might want to follow our transatlantic cruise board.

Follow us on Twitter or interact with us on Facebook

Or, check out our boards on Pinterest and/or our photos on Instagram.

Previous post:

Next post: