Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam will not be able to sail as scheduled on Saturday, December 16, 2023, due to severe weather expected in South Florida.
To avoid the severe storm, the cruise line has made the difficult call to delay the ship’s embarkation in Fort Lauderdale for two full days, which has dramatically changed the planned itinerary and led to various compensation options for booked guests.
Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise Shortened, Itinerary Changed
Poor weather expected in South Florida over the weekend is having a dramatic impact on Nieuw Amsterdam, which is currently in dry dock in Freeport, Bahamas, but is scheduled to resume service on Saturday, December 16.
The cruise line has made the difficult decision to delay the ship’s return to service. Holland America Line reached out to booked guests late on Thursday, December 14, with the disappointing news.
“We are writing to advise you that due to adverse weather conditions in the Bahamas and along the coast of Florida, Nieuw Amsterdam will be delayed in returning from her scheduled drydock maintenance,” the notification read. “As a result of this delay, embarkation for your cruise will now take place two days later than originally scheduled, on Monday, December 18, 2023.”
The cruise was originally planned as a 7-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary visiting Grand Turk, the Dominican Republic, St. Thomas, and Half Moon Cay. Because of the dramatic embarkation change, however, ports of call have been changed and the cruise is no longer an Eastern Caribbean itinerary.
“Due to the delayed start and shortened length of your cruise, we have modified the itinerary, and will no longer call to Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos, Samana, Dominican Republic, or St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.,” the notification explained.
Now, the ship will depart Port Everglades on Monday, December 18, and will spend Tuesday, December 19 at Half Moon Cay from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nieuw Amsterdam will also visit Key West, Florida on Thursday, December 21, also from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wednesday and Friday will both be days at sea, and the ship will return to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, December 23 in line with the original schedule.
“We sincerely apologize for the disruption to the start of your cruise holiday. When we create itineraries, we look forward to taking our guests to the destinations they expect to visit,” the email said. “When unexpected issues occur and we must make the decision to change our itinerary, we share in your disappointment.”
The 86,700-gross-ton Nieuw Amsterdam is a Signature-class ship, able to welcome 2,106 guests aboard at each sailing.
Because many travelers may already be in the Fort Lauderdale area ahead of their sailing – always good planning so as not to miss a ship due to flight delays – Holland America Line is offering assistance with hotel stays and other arrangements.
Guests who booked flights or pre-cruise hotel stays through the cruise line will have two nights’ accommodations provided by the cruise line, as flights will not be adjusted and guests will still arrive as if the ship were departing on December 16 rather than December 18.
Travelers who have already made independent hotel arrangements, or those who prefer to book their own hotels in lieu of the cruise line’s arrangements, will receive a $300 (USD) per stateroom, per day onboard credit to help compensate for the unexpected lodging costs.
The cruise line has also recommended several hotels that may have availability for guests to consider, though it might be difficult to secure rooms over the weekend during the holiday season on such short notice.
Holland America Line is being very generous with compensation for these dramatic adjustments.
Of course, all pre-paid shore tours for the now-cancelled ports of call are being automatically refunded to guests’ onboard accounts, and in the case of Half Moon Cay, tours will be moved the new visit date if possible or refunded if they cannot be changed.
All guests will also receive a 100% future cruise credit (FCC) of the original cruise fare paid for the 7-night cruise – even though the ship will still be sailing on her shortened, modified itinerary. The credit may be used on any future Holland America Line sailing through December 18, 2025.
Furthermore, all travelers will receive a 25% refund of the original cruise fare back to their original form of payment. Processing times for that refund may vary depending on the policies of individual banking institutions.
The compensation doesn’t end there, however. Once onboard, all passengers will also receive $75 (USD) per person, per day missed “to offset the cost of meals, transportation, and other incidental expenses incurred as a result of this delay.” This totals $150 per person, per day to use for any onboard purchases, including spa treatments, specialty restaurants, retail shopping, drinks, and more.
“Please again accept our sincere apologies for this disruption to your cruise vacation and we thank you for your understanding. We look forward to welcoming you onboard,” the explanation email concluded.
While travelers will understandably be disappointed at the disruption to their cruise, safety is first and foremost the top priority, and Holland America Line is going above and beyond to take care of impacted guests.