Background Information: This cruise was planned about a year in advance. I chose HAL since it was a long time I cruised with them.
I made reservations at the Hyatt Convention Center 17th St. When I got there I was happy about the location as it was near an area I was familiar with, near the cruiseport, malls and restaurants. In short a nice location for someone with feet as transportation.
Activities: There were plenty of activities. Often I would have liked to participate in several events.
I had cabin 6104, located between amidships and aft, 10 cabins away from the center elevators and 5 from the aft elevators. This was handy because the aft elevators took me to dinner in the Vista Dining Room on Deck 3 & to breakfast in the Lido Restaurant on Deck 9. My room stewards were Gede & Bagus, they told me they were responsible for 29 cabins.
John Scott kept us well informed daily of the ships navigation and our daily progress as well as weather information.
Children's Clubs: N/A
Shane Michaels was good but I've had better.
Service & food were outstanding.
...The Pinnacle Grill was well worth the visit but I only ate there once as it was free as was thanking me for choosing the .....21 day cruise.
...Le Cirque at the Pinnacle Grill: Not worth the price as I was used to hospital food.
...Mexican Food: This is near the Terrace Grill; I did not taste the food but they have quite a variety.
...Terrace Grill: This is on Lido 9 amidships & specializes in cheeseburgers, hotdogs, hamburgers, French fries & etc.
...Canaletto Restaurant: Serves Italian food; I did not eat there & passengers were upset as they charged $10 & it used to ......be free.
...Coffee: Various people complained that the coffee was very strong.
This went rather smoothly as we embarked on a Monday and there were only 3 ships in port. I left on the 12 noon shuttle to the cruise port and was finished unpacking in my stateroom by 2pm.
This was rather swift. I signed up for luggage direct which means you put your luggage out Sunday night & don't see it again until Monday at your home airport. I was off the ship & on the transportation to the airport in less than 'Â½ hour. With luggage direct we were one of the first to leave the ship but we waited about an hour (it seemed like that) on the ...bus.
The Noordam seemed to excel here & most of the evening's entertainment received a standing ovation.
This was available at all movies & was free naturally.
Port & Shore Excursions:
On both days at Half Moon Cay I rented a clamshell, in Philipsburg (St. Maarten) I went to the beach, in Aruba I took a ...tour of the island.
There were plenty of Purell hand sanitizers throughout the ship & all food handlers wore gloves. I did not notice anyone coughing and there appeared to be little chance of the Norovirus that causes cruise ships to delay boarding. Sanitation aboard the Noordam was even cleaner than some hospitals. The first 48 hours, you are served by the stewards in the Lido Restaurant. There was an attendant throughout the voyage serving cold drinks in the morning for the entire cruise.
This was outstanding service but HAL seems to be known for service.
In most of the islands, taxi tours are available at the pier. If you want to go to a beach, take a taxi & request that you be picked up at a certain time.
This was available at some ports with either Wi-Fi or internet service or both.
I enjoyed my 21 days aboard the Noordam & look forward to my next voyage with HAL.
Travel to Port of Embarkation:
When I travel to Fort Lauderdale I usually stay at the Holiday Inn Cruiseport. This time I went to Priceline & stayed at the Hyatt Cruiseport of 17th St. a nice hotel but they did charge for shuttle to the cruiseport.
Sat Jan 5 Fort Lauderdale - pc:
I left Boston on Jet Blue flight 965 arriving in FLL about 11am. I could not check in so went to the Harbor Cafe, which has a sanitary problem & probably could be shut down, for some steak and eggs which tasted good as I did not have breakfast then to Publix Supermarket for some shopping. Supper consisted of a tuna fish salad as I had a rather large lunch; lunch to me is usually only a sandwich. The 42" TV at the hotel was quite a difference from the 13" I have a home.
Sun Jan 6 Fort Lauderdale - pc:
I set the radio alarm for 5:45am & went to the free hotel breakfast, had lunch at Joe's Cafe then went next door to Publix Market & walked the isles enjoying their free air-conditioning.
Mon Jan 07 Fort Lauderdale -- pc (Casual):
After checking out of the hotel, I took the 12 noon shuttle to the cruise port & was in my cabin by 2pm with packing finished as I took my luggage with me. But it should be remembered that this was a Monday and there were only 3 ships in port. I did not see anyone at the 2:30pm Informal M&G and only 2 showed up at the Informal M&G after the muster (we had 2 M&G's). The Muster was interesting for we were told that it would last 30 minutes but 15 of those 30 was making sure all cabins were accounted for. Oh, & people taking the second cruise must also attend the muster & life jackets at the muster were not required. Back in cabin there was a note thanking me for taking the 21 day cruise & inviting me to eat at the Pinnacle Grill free, which I did along with my nook (e-reader). I had a nice time reading & eating, mostly reading for that type of ambiance I am not used too. I did not go to tonight's entertainment of Let Us Entertain You with the Noordam Singers and Dancers http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6tSaoGqm6A .
Tue Jan 08 at sea - party cloudy, humid (Formal):
At the M&G today the Food Director said that the islands we will be visiting are more tropical in nature. He also said that if we have a grievance HAL would rather hear it when it occurs rather than at the end of the voyage. After the M&G, lunch then to the spa to use the thermal hydropool then to my cabin where I read my e-reader on the verandah. At supper at table 54 we had Ziggy & his wife Kay, John & his wife Betty, Kim & her sister Noralee & their mother Nina. Tonight's entertainment was Ballroom Blitz with the Noordam Singers and Dancers. I purchased a bathing suit at the gift shop which turned out to be a fine purchase.
Wed Jan 09 at sea - cloudy all day (Casual):
It seems the sea gets rougher the more south we go; I had a rather large breakfast at 7am for a change. I purchased some sandals at the gift shop only to return them at the end of the cruise, returned to my cabin to put them away then went to the cabin crawl organized by "14 days and counting"; we visited 6 cabins. I had lunch in the Lido Restaurant & met some people from the cabin crawl who reminded me about the luncheon for Mariner's. So for supper I was not very hungry although I managed to eat all 3 courses. Tonight's entertainment was Julie Barr http://delafont.com/comedians/Julie-Barr.htm.
Thu Jan 10 Philipsburg (St Maarten AN) - docked 8am/3pm - cloudy with rain showers (Casual);
My bus tour today was "The French Riviera Beach Rendezvous" where you are taken to Orient Beach for about 3 'Â½ hours, lounge chairs, lunch and 2 drinks are included all for $60 adult. We left about 9:15am, returned about 2:15 pm. The weather at the beach was windy & mostly cloudy. It rained as we were driving there by bus but the tour director guaranteed the rain would let up by the time we reached the beach & she was correct. Tonight's entertainment was pianist, singer, comedienne Siobhan Phillips http://www.costelloentertainments.co.uk/3771/1652/objects/artists/siobhan-phillips.aspx from England. No doubt she is talented but I didn't understand the English accent.
Fri Jan 11 Castries, St. Lucia - docked 8/3 -- pc (Casual):
Went ashore to the shops, forgot to bring any money (out of habit). I did not see anything I liked & even if I did there was no room in my luggage. Wi-Fi was available but went back on board, had lunch, then went to a Windows 8 seminar. At 10pm tonight was Late Night R-Rated Adult Comedy with Julie Barr. Most agreed that it was really not R-Rated but Julie again put on a star performance.
Jan 11 Scenic Cruising Soufriere Bay
Jan 11 Soufriere St Lucia 5-6
Sat Jan 12 Bridgetown, Barbados - docked 8/5 -- pc (Formal):
I went on a chocolate factory tour organized by a Cruise Critic member. We took a taxi to the factory even though it was just several blocks from the ship as there was one elderly person who could not walk the distance. It was a good tour and lasted about 3 hours. Tonight's entertainment was Simply Broadway featuring the Noordam Singers; I didn't care for it but the audience appreciated it.
Sun Jan 13 Fort-De-France, Martinique -- docked 8/5 -- pc (Casual):
Today everything was closed as it was Sunday. I got off the ship because one steward said that Wi-Fi might be available but the Wi-Fi at the pier was not working. I mailed a post card but decided that all future postcards will be in the form of emails. As the distance from Martinique to Roseau was 47 miles the Captain said he will be doing only 8 knots per hour. Tonight's entertainment was Comedian & other Dangerous Stuff of Benji Hill http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5J9T5KdRu8 .The audience gave him a standing ovation.
Jan 13 Daylight passing Mount Pelee
Mon Jan 14 Roseau, Dominica tender 7/3 -- pc (Casual):
I went ashore expecting to find Wi-Fi but could only find a place located on the 2nd floor & I have a phobia for heights. A person later told me that there was Wi-Fi at a hotel but I was back on the ship & Wi-Fi then was really an issue. At 3pm I went to the Filipino Crew Show http://www.flickr.com/photos/36498457@N00/2451355193/in/photostream/ which was interesting. Tonight's entertainment was Piano Entertainer Elliot Finkel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ln2oyjAJybo; the audience gave him a standing ovation.
Tue Jan 15 St Thomas USVI docked 8/5 -- pc (Casual):
I got off the ship expecting to find Wi-Fi but didn't. Saw an armadillo sunning himself on a rock. I went into the movie Robot & Frank then Introduction to the Cloud in the Digital Workshop. Tonight's entertainment was comedian and impressionist Jeff Burghart http://www.jeffburghart.com/ ; the audience liked him.
Wed Jan 16 at sea -- pc (Formal):
I went to the Caribbean Side Walk Sale on Lido 9 Pool Area but didn't see anything then the Cooking Show "A Taste Of The Caribbean", next "Custodians of the Sea" followed by Driving the Hotel with Captain John Scott. Tonight's entertainment was "That's Vegas" with the Noordam Singers and Dancers.
Thu Jan 17 Half Moon Cay Bahamas tender 8/4 -- pc (Casual):
I rented a clamshell staying there from 9-12 upon which I returned to the ship, had lunch, saw the movie Women in Black followed by the cooking show "A Taste Of Excellence". This evening's entertainment was Elliott Finkel & Jeff Burghart. Jeff was first followed by Elliott sort of like comparing a Ford to a Peugot.
Fri Jan 18 FLL 7/4 -- pc:
We arrived at 7am.
The cruise log showed the number of guests to be 1857 for this voyage.
The Officers were: Captain John Scott, Hotel Manager Mark Pells, Cruise Director Shane Michaels as well as the entire ship's complement.