Noordam 3/11/-3/22/13 11 days 6 ports and Half Moon Cay
After 24 total cruises, this was our first on HAL. Majority of previous cruises were on NCL
<> Overall rating: Excellent
<> Embarkation: Arrived at 11 am at Port Everglades, on board at 12 noon. Bags in room at 1:00 pm
<> Cabin # 8122: Excellent room and located near elevators. Room steward "HAN" was excellent. Very attentive, towel animals every day, cheerful and omnipresent
<> Food: Excellent selections and taste. We were on "anytime" dining but had a standing reservation for table #308 for 5:30 pm each evening. Some nights we arrived late due to daily activities and were seated elsewhere in the Vista MDR. We never waited more than a few minutes for a table. The Maitre 'D memorized every one's name after the first day.
<> Entertainment: Very good to excellent. Standard musical, comedian, magician, acrobatic and audience participation shows. Chris Watkins and Rondell Sheridan were stand-outs.
Special attraction was the "Dancing with the Stars" dance show on last night. This included a musical presentation by the dance troupe and competition starring passengers dancing with members of the troupe for points. Winner will go on to compete in a future theme cruise with professionals from the TV show of the same name. (I participated but did not win)
<> Lounges and bars: Found the Ocean Bar and Queen's Lounge to be very good. Both had "HALcats" bands (there were 2 of them on-board) Lead singers were Ben and Lynn for their respective groups. Good dance music every night. Special notice to Serena, musical director. The Piano Bar with Diana was well attended.
<> Classes and activities: Excellent line-up of classes and activities. Much better than our previous cruises on other lines. Also, most were free. Culinary Arts demos were great. Computer courses in dedicated computer lab were excellent, informative and well attended. TECHspert Jessica was excellent. Movies were shown daily. Very nice touch with recent block-busters.
<> Pools and public spaces: Never lacked enough lounges/chairs at the pool. Nice taco bar located by the main pool. Ice water and lemonade available here all day. Adult pool located on aft deck. Very nice.
<> Staff: Great bunch of people. No complaints ever. We hope to see some of them on future cruises
<> The ship: exceeded our expectations. It had more than we had hoped for and was a beautiful, tastefully appointed ship
<> Fellow shipmates: As we had been told, this was an older demographic. The pace of the group was a bit slower but every one was very nice. We met some incredibly nice new friends during the week and were sad to leave at the end of the cruise. We talked to many who had done back-to-back cruises from the previous cruise and others who were staying on for the repositioning to Europe.
BOTTOM LINE: Wish we could have stayed on board. Less
Our first time to this island. We took a Van excursion that we arranged ourselves at the pier. Paul was our driver and took us on a trip that included
<> Botanical Gardens
<> Local fruit grower and fruit sampling
<> Views of hot springs and Waterfalls in the mountains
<> Walk to hot sulfur springs
This was an excellent tour and is avialable from almost any of the vans or taxis in the area.
We arrived on Sunday and all of the shops were closed. We took a horse-drawn carriage ride through the old city area and were given a great, informative tour by our driver. We saw many of the best know buildings, the cemetaries, the library and the Fort. After the tour we walked back to see some of the main buildings up close and then went to the cathedral and the fruit and vegetable market which is open every day. There is a McDonalds on the main drag that was open. We didn't eat there but they had free WiFi. We then went to the beach and I snorkeled for about an hour before heading back to the ship.
We did a tour with a local driver (small van) and took a tour of the island and went up to the top of the hills overlooking the bay. Upon leaving the port, the cruise included a detailed geographic narrative of the shoreline as we passed along. We cruised down to the Pitons and then anchored while picking up Excursion passengers who were tendered back to the ship. One of the highlights of the cruise.