My husband and I have cruised 5 times, all with Holland America, 4 times in the Caribbean. This was our first time on the Noordam.
We like HAL's mid size ships and have never been disappointed with their service.
We arrived in Fort Lauderdale without incident the day before our cruise, happy to have just missed the big snowstorm that caused so much havoc for travellers. We stayed at The Renaissance Cruise Port Hotel. Our room was ready for us. It was spotless and the bed was very comfortable. Although expensive, it is in an ideal location, being not far from the airport and extremely close to the cruise port terminal. There is a Walgreens across the street and many restaurants within a short walking distance. We were also able to walk to the water taxi stop.
We did not eat in the hotel, choosing instead Panera Bread which was located in a small plaza nearby. It was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We also took advantage of the free WiFi there as we did not want to pay extra for it at the hotel.
Once on board the Noordam, we were quickly impressed with the cleanliness and excellent service. The crew are very hard working, friendly and helpful.
The ship has many very nice areas. My favourites were the atrium and the Explorations Cafe where the library and Internet computer terminals are located.
Our cabin was a partially obstructed ocean view which was fine for us. It was kept spotless by our cabin stewards and we had no problems.
We ate every night in the main dining room at a table for 8. There were always plenty of options on the menu and the service was always good. Food presentation was excellent. The cold soups are to be recommended and also the Caesar salad. Twice I chose the salmon fillet from the available every day menu and it was excellent. Breakfast and lunch we ate at the Lido buffet where the choices were plentiful, food was always good and the staff were always smiling and helpful.Loved the Dutch raisin buns at breakfast and the rotisserie chicken at lunch.
We also enjoyed ice cream every afternoon and the fresh baked cookies that seemed to be always available.
Entertainment - We went to most of the shows in the evening. The Noordam singers and dancers were good, but we've seen better shows on other cruises.
Twice we chose to watch a movie instead of the show - we saw Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and Lincoln.
We also attended some of the game shows and listened to the entertainers in different lounges. There was a steel drum player in the afternoons by the Seaview pool- it was very nice to relax in the sun and listen to him.
On Valentine's day there was a party in the Lido pool area. There were Valentine themed ice sculptures and heart shaped red balloons. The ship's band( the Halcats) played and there was dancing.
I must mention the dessert extravaganza that is on the last formal night of the cruise. It is amazing to see the chefs' creations made out of chocolate, pastries and bread dough.
Activities on board ship are too numerous to mention and we couldn't possibly participate in all of them. This is a feature of cruising that we like - you can be doing something every minute or you can just relax.
We enjoyed all the ports on this cruise.
Half Moon Cay is truly a beautiful beach - we have been there 3 times and love it.
The ship was unable to dock as scheduled at Grand Turk Island due to high winds,but it was not too disappointing as we were spending a sea day on a lovely ship.
My husband and I did not go ashore at Samana, Dominican Republic, as the tender boat ride was 20 minutes and it was drizzling. Spent another relaxing day on board ship.
Curacao is an interesting port. We had been there a few years ago but enjoyed seeing the colourful Dutch Colonial buildings again. We walked across the pontoon bridge and ended up at an outdoor cafe for lunch. Since our ship was docked until 11:30p.m. we went ashore again after dark in order to look at the Noordam with all the lights on - so pretty.
Bonaire was a delightful surprise. The weather was perfect.We spent the morning walking around the city of Kralendijk taking photos. In the afternoon took an island tour with Bonaire Vista Tours. We had booked this online prior to the cruise. Our guide was wonderful - he took us to many interesting and lovely spots and he was very knowledgeable about his island. Bonaire is very charming, unspoiled by commercialism.
Aruba was the last port of call. We had also been there a few years ago, but I had forgotten how nice it is. We walked into Oranjestad to shop, take photos and visit the iguanas in an area near the Renaissance Hotel.
Sadly,disembarkation came too soon. However it went very smoothly and right on schedule.
This was a very relaxing, enjoyable cruise. Can't wait for the next one, whenever and wherever it may be.