Aboard the Amsterdam: Some suite service

TWcrossroads Managing Editor Michael Nassaur and his wife Heather are cruising the Panama Canal aboard Holland America's Amsterdam. He's been filing daily reports from the recently launched ship.

ABOARD THE AMSTERDAM -- When you spend more than 72 hours on a cruise ship without touching land, some things begin to stand out. On Amsterdam, it has been the service.

Most everyone has heard service stories that tell great tales of waiters who remember you order decaf with dessert or orange juice with breakfast, and have it ready for you before you ask.

But after eight cruises where at times I've been lucky to get Tabasco as the hottest sauce available, I thought the story to be something of an urban legend -- a story that might be based in fact, but probably is just a fish tale that got blown out of proportion in the telling.

So imagine my surprise when on the second night, just as the dessert menus were handed out, our assistant waiter brought us two cups of cappuchino -- regular for me and decaf for my wife, Heather -- just as we had ordered the night before.

Surely though, we were just lucky in getting a particularly attentive waiter, right? Not hardly.

Today we ate lunch in the main dining room, a rarity for us since we tend to be on the run to one activity or another. It was open seating, as we expected, so we didn't have our usual wait staff and anticipated just basic service.

Heather ordered a calamari appetizer that she enjoyed, and mentioned it to the waiter. A few minutes later he came by and said he had a surprise.

With a flourish he lifted a dish cover and revealed a full plate of the fried calamari for her. Again, this was something I had heard of, but never before witnessed.

But allow me to add to the folklore of cruising. It is de rigueur for suite passengers to be given personalized stationery while onboard.

As happens with my name from time to time, it was misspelled. But since I wasn't planning on writing any notes to anyone (other than these little diary entries), I quickly forgot about their existence and didn't mention the typo.

But two days later we entered our stateroom to find a fresh stack of stationery with the proper spelling. Needless to say, we were impressed -- but here's the topper.

In the suites, the day's dinner menu is available in the cabin for early perusal and room service calls.

As a rule, whenever I'm writing about a cruise, I try to acquire menus for reference. When you eat so many meals, it's hard to remember later exactly what was available. This time, however, I forgot to save a few before I started stashing them under my laptop.

Well tonight I noticed that along with the two I'd remembered to save, a few that I didn't had magically appeared. Now that is some sweet service. But what else is sweet about the suites?

Here's a few highlights -- some we knew about from the brochure, and some that were pleasant surprises:

  • As described in a previous installment, access to the suite-only Neptune Lounge and its specialized services.
  • Preferred reservations status for Amsterdam's alternative dining option, the Odyssey restaurant, which we will be sampling later in the cruise.
  • Free dry cleaing and laundry service. A great boon for the easily wrinkled.
  • A minibar with minirefrigerator, a separate dressing area and an incredible amount of storage space.
  • A VCR (with access to the Neptune Lounge's extensive video library).
  • A King-size bed, plus a queen-size sofa bed done in burgandy leather.
  • A tremendous balcony twice the size of the minisuites one deck below.
  • To read my earlier Amsterdam entries, click below:

  • The Panama Canal
  • Lounging about
  • San Juan del Sur
  • The Internet Cafe
  • Comments

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