Propulsion Issues Force Port Change for Holland America Ship

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Guests booked to sail next week aboard Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam have been notified of an itinerary change that involves a port swap and slightly less time in the replacement port due to an engine issue that limits the ship’s speed. The safety of the vessel is not impacted, and guests are being provided with compensation for the change.

Nieuw Amsterdam Itinerary Change

The impacted itinerary is the February 12, 2023 sailing of Nieuw Amsterdam, a 7-night roundtrip Southern Caribbean cruise departing from Fort Lauderdale. The original itinerary has the ship calling on Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line’s private island in The Bahamas, as well as Bonaire and Curacao before returning to Florida on Sunday, February 19.

Guests have now been notified of a modification to the itinerary, with a port swap as a result.

“Please be advised that Nieuw Amsterdam is experiencing a technical issue with the Azipod propulsion system,” the email explained. “As a result, we will no longer call to Kralendijk, Bonaire on Wednesday, February 15, 2023. Instead, we will now call to Oranjestad, Aruba.”

Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock

Bonaire was planned to have been the second port of call for the cruise, after Half Moon Cay and with a day at sea between the two ports. The email explains that the Azipod issue “does restrict our ability to operate at full speed” as the reason for the port swap.

Bonaire and Aruba are just 125 miles (201 kilometers) apart. At Nieuw Amsterdam‘s top cruising speed of nearly 24 knots (27 miles per hour / 44 kilometers per hour), it would take the ship just under 5 hours to move between the ports.

The call to Aruba will be from 5-11 p.m, whereas the original itinerary had the ship visiting Bonaire for two hours longer, from 3-11 p.m. on the same date.

This does confirm that the ship must move more slowly to reach the port, but not so slowly that the itinerary must be more dramatically altered, such as switching to an Eastern rather than a Southern Caribbean route.

Compensation Provided

To help alleviate disappointment over the change, guests are being provided with $50 (USD) of non-refundable onboard credit, which will be posted to each guest’s onboard account for this sailing.

Furthermore, all shore excursions for Bonaire that have been booked through the cruise line are being fully refunded, and updated excursion options for Aruba will be available for booking onboard.

Holland America Line
Photo Credit: StudioPortoSabbia / Shutterstock

As no other ports of call have been modified in any way at this time, this is quite generous compensation for the alteration. Experienced cruise travelers know that cruise lines have full authority to change or cancel ports of call at any time, even after the cruise sets sail, and have no obligation to provide compensation to guests for such alterations.

More Changes for Nieuw Amsterdam

This is the second change announced recently for the Signature-class Nieuw Amsterdam. Earlier this week, the cruise line notified guests booked on the 14-night May 7, 2023 Alaskan sailing that there were several changes to that lengthy itinerary, including a port swap and changes to the days the ship would be visiting other ports along the way.

Those changes were attributed to “operational changes” with no mention made of any engine issues impacting the ship’s speed.

This may mean that the Azipod issue is a relatively minor concern, one that can be easily fixed while the ship is in operation. It is likely that the issue will be corrected well before the ship repositions to Vancouver in April in preparation for the Alaska sailing season.

Nevertheless, guests booked on Nieuw Amsterdam for the next several weeks will want to stay in close contact with the cruise line for potential updates and itinerary changes for their sailings, just in case further adjustments are necessary or the issue becomes more critical.

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