Pre-cruise:We flew in 2 days before the cruise. Instead of a hotel stay, we went the couch surfing route and stayed at a new friend's home.
Embarkation was impressively smooth, well-organized, and easy. Finding our way around was made easier because of having been on Noordam's sister ship, the Westerdam.
We went to the Mariners' Lunch, settled into our cabin, then enjoyed an informal Sailaway party with some of our fellow Cruise Critic members.
Cabin: We thoroughly enjoyed our verandah for 5142. It was somehow smaller than I remembered but it was in fact very comfortable with more than enough room. Our room stewards, Danang and Gede, were great. They were unfailingly cheerful and efficient.
entertainment: We enjoyed most of the shows we attended. The only exception was a so-called comedian my husband and I walked out on. The best show was Brett Cave, an entertainer of the best kind.
Team Trivia with some of our fellow Cruise Critic members was a huge amount of fun. My team even won a couple of times. The library was excellent.
Internet speed was not bad this cruise.
We tried the casino but did not stay long because of the smoke,
Dining: we had 1st seating, at what turned out to be a table for 8, though had requested a table for 6. Perhaps if had to do with booking fairly late. Thanks to pleasant table companions and wonderful Febi and Daniel, we enjoyed each meal in the MDR, except for the time we celebrated my birthday in the Pinnacle Grill. Virtually all the food was very good.
Ports: We really enjoyed each of the ports. Each had something to recommend it. We also enjoyed finding geocaches at each port, which added another dimension, We took ship shore excursions in the Dominican Republic, and on Aruba. We also did our own thing and did one private tour, on Bonaire.
The Port review section does not include Samana in the Dominican Republic, so I will describe it here. We would recommend the Cultural Highlights of Samana tour.. The best parts were the small but quality whale museum, and the Taino Park. The hour-long tour at the recreated Indian village uses personal ipods and quality headphones. As soon as we got back from that tour, we hired a local taxi using a motorcycle pulling an open cart to take us to the bridge to Cayo Vigio. The taxi driver walked with us to and from the island, which s a beautiful walk, and then took us to La Churcha. It was an easy walk back to the pier.
We were disappointed, of course, that it was not safe to dock at Grand Turk
The Noordam is a wonderful. Ship, and this is a great itinerary. Would we recommend it? Oh,yes!
Post cruise: disembarkation was a breeze, very well organized.
We couch surfed for 2 days, and this time enjoyed the exhilaration of air boat rides in the Everglades.