HOLLAND AMERICA WAYFARER SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN CRUISE ON NOORDAM. The private garden tours led by Andre Viette were fabulous. The only positive aspect of the trip.
Embarkation was slow. Once on the ship there were very few crew members available to ask for directions. The ship smelled like mildew. The ship maps kind of matched the ship layout. We had a verandah room in the forward of the ship though we requested a midship room (travel agent issue). At the front desk we learned the travel agent had not given us the on board credit and they would not honor the promotion even though I had the paperwork. Also, they would not move us to another stateroom.
About the cruise and Holland America, I would never recommend Holland America Noordam ship. The ship is old, public areas had peeling wallpaper and scruffy carpet, lighting very dim and overall dingy. In the stateroom there are no safes or coffee pots. For several days, there was intermittent toilet service on the ship. At night you would go to bathroom only to find it would not flush. A couple of days the water in the sink did not work for a few hours.
The Dining option "as you wish" does not work. Reservations were available for 8.30pm or later unless you go to Italian restaurant or Pinnacle; both have a service charge. Neither should have a service charge; it is simply not worth it. In the main dining room the tables for "as you wish" diners are near the service stations along the walkways. Constantly being bumped and ignored by staff meant we used room service or went to the buffet. We missed many of the special dinners like surf and turf. Room service has a limited menu of sandwiches and salads. Other cruise lines offer whatever is being served in the dining room. Other than breakfast, room service is slow and generally unresponsive. The room service can take 45 minutes or 1 hour 45 minutes. The pickup of the trays is delayed. Seven nights our dinner room service tray was not picked up. In the morning the breakfast guy could not take the dinner room service tray. We learned to put trays on balcony - oh well, sometimes stuff vanished in the night.
The ship is not well ventilated. You can smell the cooking even outside of the buffet area. Some areas have strong smell of mold and mildew. Outside buffets had gnats and flies. Beverage service was quick. The cleaning off of tables was not -- once during rough seas we watched many an item fly off of the tables and hit people. The beverage folks did not do much about it.
The entertainment of the "Vegas Style" shows were very bad. My mother commented that the dance recitals I was in as a child were better done with prettier costumes. The scenery was minimal. The comedy was all about married couples and often I found it demeaning to women.
They painted the ship several days and the strong smell invaded the ship.
The cleaning of the stateroom is haphazard at best. We had to request that our bed linens were changed after 3 days. I took a warm washcloth and wiped the walls and the cloth came back brown. Gross!
Nausea was our constant companion.
The spa had vinyl cushions in the pedicure chair that were cracked with exposed foam.
The ship shops were nice and service there was far beyond that found elsewhere.
A bad value for the cost of the trip.
After the perpetual news about the Carnival ship problems, since this experience, NEVER again will I go on Holland America or any Carnival owned ship.