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 a free gift from HAL thanking me for choosing the .....21 day cruise.
...Le Cirque at the Pinnacle Grill: To me it wasn't 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 because there was a $10 charge .....& it used to be free.
...Coffee: Various people complained that the coffee was very strong.
This went rather smoothly as we embarked on a Friday & the port was not crowded.
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 close to 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:
At Half Moon Cay I rented a clamshell, in Aruba I took a bus tour of the island, & in the other ports I just left the ship & did a bit of sightseeing.
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 10 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.
Fri Jan 18 FLL 7/4 -- pc (Casual):
We arrived at 7am but I was on the next cruise also so this was turn around for me (btb). We met in the Vista Lounge at 10am & followed the leader who took us off the ship, through customs (a formality) then back on the ship again. Customs (so I was told) likes a zero count of the ship (believe that & I have a bridge to sell you). Tonight's entertainment was Let us Entertain You with the Noordam singers and dancers.
Sat Jan 19 Half Moon Cay Bahamas tender 8/4 -- pc (Formal):
After lunch I went to the movie "The Bourne Legacy" in the Queens Lounge then the Cooking Show "That Souper" in the Culinary Arts Center. Tonight's entertainment was "Ballroom Blitz" with the Noordam Singers and Dancers.
Sun Jan 20 Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos docked 12-6 - pc (Casual):
I went ashore hoping to find Wi-Fi then returned to the ship, had lunch & saw the movie "The Dark Knight Rises" in the Queens Lounge. Tonight's entertainment "Fireworks On Four Strings" with Chris Watkins http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NJSi-pNbr4 and he was great. The audience gave him a standing ovation.
Mon Jan 21 Samana, Dominican Republic tender 10/5 -- pc (Casual):
This was an island I would like to have spent more time in as the scenery was just beautiful but we were told the area is very rustic, rural, a developing nation, & some areas may be poverty stricken. I went ashore, walked past booths selling souvenirs then returned to the ship & after lunch saw Snow White and the Huntsman. Tonight's entertainment was Chris Blackmore http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wrx1oorXbw comedian & magician.
Tue Jan 22 at sea pc (Formal):
I went to "Transferring Photos" in the Digital Workshop followed by "Introductory Photo Editing". After lunch there was a "Future Cruise Presentation" in the Vista Lounge, "Custodians of the Seas" in the Hudson Room, & "Indonesian Tea" in the dining room. The Vista Dining Room had Surf and Turf with Filet Mignon and Prawns tonight. This evening's entertainment was singer Jordan Bennett http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0ktRrIeslo but I left after 15 minutes because there was a group of instrumentalists called the Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering http://www.mlag.org/ , so I sat in on the session held in the Hudson Room.
Wed Jan 23 Kralendijk (Bonaire) Antilles - docked 8/5 pc (Casual):
I went ashore for a few hours then saw the movie "This Means War" which turned out to be funnier than expected. Tonight's Showtime was "If Walls Could Rock" with the Noordam singers and dancers, but I left early to hear the autoharp jam session in the Hudson room.
Thu Jan 24 Willemstad (Curaccao) Antilles docked 7/11 -- pc (Casual):
Went to lunch & met a couple who said that there is Wi-Fi on the island but as far as they are concerned, any business can wait until they get home. I walked to town passing a few Wi-Fi spots, roamed around taking in a few sights I had missed on previous cruises then returned to the ship for lunch. Today's movie was Trouble with the Curve" with Clint Eastwood & Showtime tonight at 10:30 was comedian Kevin Jordan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1n8_8MeCBw ; one would think at that hour it would be Adult Content but such was not the case. Between supper & Showtime I sat in the autoharp jam session in the Hudson Room.
Fri Jan 25 Oranjestad, Aruba docked 7-5 -- pc (Casual):
For once during this cruise I had breakfast at 6:30am & managed to stay awake. I went to town hoping to find Wi-Fi in the Renaissance Mall & according to people I talked to Wi-Fi was there but I couldn't get it, so I returned to the ship & had lunch. In the afternoon I took a tour of the island sponsored by HAL. Tonight's entertainment was pianist and singer Vladimir Zaitsev http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaVNUf457o0 but I went to see the bluegrass jam session instead.
Sat Jan 26 at sea -- pc (Formal):
I had a rather large breakfast so had a sandwich for lunch leaving room for the escargot & lobster we might be having tonight. As there was nothing in the Caribbean Sidewalk Sale, I ended up reading my Nook. At dinner Edgar & Pauline told us of their tour of the ship ($150 each) with Captain Scott. It was very interesting, & although they did get about $50 for more in free merchandise, at the time I thought it was not worth it; looking back I now realize that maybe it would have been worth it. Tonight's entertainment was "That's Vegas" with the Noordam singers and dancers but I sat in the autoharp jam session.
Sun Jan 27 at sea -- pc (Casual):
I woke at 5am & again at 7am going to the Lido for breakfast then back to my cabin to pack. Tonight's entertainment was Kevin Jordan & Chris Watkins. I went to the bluegrass show until 10pm then saw tonight's entertainment but returned to my cabin for last minute packing. As I was participating in luggage direct, I left my checked baggage outside my cabin tonight for pickup at Logan airport tomorrow. This service cost $20 & transportation from pier to airport was another $20; to me the expense was well worth the price.
Mon Jan 28 FLL -- pc:
We arrived in Ft Lauderdale at 7am; I was one of the first to leave the ship at 7:30 but waited on the bus for what felt like an hour.
The cruise log showed the number of guests to be 1859 for this voyage. According to my stewards the ship's capacity was 1922 -- 2306. The Officers were: Captain John Scott, Hotel Manager Mark Pells, Cruise Director Shane Michaels as well as the entire ship's complement.