This was our second trans Atlantic cruise and third cruise on Holland America. We enjoy repositioning cruises because of the number of sea days and avoiding the long flight home.
We had spent 17 days in Italy, 7 in Florence and 10 in Rome. We decided to use the HAL transfer from Rome to Civitvecchia. We took a cab from our apartment near Trevi Fountain to the Visconti Place because it was raining. The transfer was seamless. Once we left our bags at the bus pickup we did not see them until later in the afternoon in our room. Since we arrived early we had a chance to walk in the neighborhood and have a coffee and sweet roll at a nearby cafe.
Embarkation was smooth. We left Rome at 11:30 AM and were at the port at about 1:00 PM. Within 15 minutes of arrival we had dropped our carryon in our cabin, and were having lunch in the Lido.
We have sailed on the Zaandam to Alaska and Neuiw Amsterdam on the transatlantic crossing last year. The Noordam is comparable to the Zaandam; slightly larger and a little bit older. I had absolutely no issues with cleanliness or upkeep. The staff was gracious and helpful, and our room stewards did a great job. We were doing a collectors voyage, 7 days in the eastern Med and 14 transatlantic.
We did stops in Livorno, Monaco, Barcelona, Sardinia and Palermo, Sicily. We were supposed to stop in Tunisia, but this stop was cancelled due to political unrest. We stopped in Sardinia instead. I was disappointed, because one of reasons we choose the seven day cruise was the chance to stop in Tunisia.
Since we had just spent 7 days in Florence we opted for a DIY trip to Pisa. We followed the directions in Rick Steves' Cruise Guide book. We took a shuttle to the center of Livorno and the bus to Pisa. It was an interesting bus ride. We were let off in the center of Pisa. We ate lunch and took a cab to the Tower. It was cool and rainy, but we spent some time exploring the area. We found a cafe with internet and had a coffee while we caught up on the e-mail. We took a bus back to the center of Pisa, took the train back to Livorno, bus to city center and shuttle back to the ship.
We took no organized tours of any of the ports. Our plan was to explore the city. We went to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona and Malaga. We enjoyed Alicante, Malaga, Cadiz, Funchal. We did not enjoy Palermo, but other people on ship said they enjoyed Palermo. Maybe it was because we were there on a Sunday, and we did no organized tours.
We ate almost all our meals in the Lido. We ate one lunch and one dinner in the Main dining room. After 21 days the food was getting a little repetitive. On the whole it was good food. I learned that you could have steak or lamb grilled to order, so I was able to get the meat medium rare. However, we were amazed to talk to someone who did not realize until day 10 that there was a poached egg station for breakfast and Asian food station on the right hand side of the Lido. The Canneletto Restaurant now has a $10 up charge. Since we had been eating good Italian food for 17 days, we skipped it. We also did not eat at the Pinnacle.
The entertainment was average. However, we enjoyed the trivia contests. There was social bridge and instruction in the morning and duplicate in the afternoon. We played social bridge and skipped the duplicate.
The passenger mix was about half Americans, 1/4 Canadian and the remainder various European. There about 1750 passengers and 15 children who sometimes were seen and seldom heard.
The crossing was smooth for the most part. We had two rough days, but nothing compared to the near hurricane force winds and high seas we had the previous year. We are planning a South American repositioning cruise next with HAL