Pre and post cruise Hilton Marina, we just love Ft. Lauderdale and next time we will spend more than the two nights after our cruise.
Boarding was a dream and the Noordam looked good both inside and out, had lunch at the Lido and got to know our ship which was spotless in the true HAL tradition. We cruise to relax from the rigours of work and enjoyed our cabin so much we did not do one show, after late dinner it was a walk on the prom. deck and back home to our cabin. Great staff and a great full breakfast in our room most mornings.
First part of the cruise was great only to be spoiled by a old goat who insisted smoking cigars on his balcony, front office supervisor became defensive when it took nearly 24 hours to try and solve our problem, " we can't get hold of him " was the excuse which led me to believe we were not being taken seriously. " I have the right to smoke on the balcony " he informed the supervisor who agreed the smell was terrible, what rights have we I asked, we have none according to the staff, cigars are allowed on balconies! I could put up with the cabin next door smoking but not the cigar smoke two cabins from us, you pay your hard earned money to use your balcony and can't, there is something wrong with the system.
Food was hit and miss and after the head chef gave a cooking demonstration with eggs the most important ingredient according to him, he broke the first one which was hard and the next one which again was hard, with this commitment we were prepared for hit and miss in the dining room. I personally would like to see French and Italian chefs who appear to have the flair and presentation which sometimes lacks on HAL. For what we pay we do expect the Ritz but consistenty is lacking, they are crossing the T's but not dotting the I's.
The second part of the cruise was a holiday crowd with 150 extra children which we hardly noticed, we did notice longer lines and late night neighbours at 2.30 AM in the morning, we were like that thirty years ago but not now. Never again on a holiday cruise which to us was advertised as a 16 night Collectors voyage and had no inkling this was about to happen, the whole ambience of the ship changed in the last seven days.
The ports were great as well as the staff but I still notice the bar people aloof if you are not buying drinks, front office were lovely and a big thank you to the photography people who kept charging my video batteries as I had forgotten my charger and of course the shop people just great and not forgetting HAL in Seattle for a lovely cabin.
With Captain John Scott our New Zealand Captain who by the way remembered our names and cabin number and was so very intresting to talk to especially if you are intrested in ships and the sea, his PR was incredible in such a very low key way, made for a very enjoyable trip.
We booked another trip on board and will seriously consider when buying a balcony cabin due to cigar smokers, would we recommend HAL to our friends, not at the moment as there is something lacking to mark it a five star experience.