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Noordam Cruise Review by Tuney: Wonderful HAL Experience. Our First Time Ever in Europe


Tuney
1 Review
Member Since 2008
9 Posts

Member Rating

Cabin Not Rated
Dining 3.0
Embarkation 4.0
Enrichment Activities 1.0
Entertainment 4.0
Family & Children Not Rated
Fitness & Recreation 5.0
Public Rooms 4.0
Rates Not Rated
Service 4.0
Shore Excursions 3.0
Value for Money 4.0

Compare Prices on Noordam Mediterranean Cruises

Wonderful HAL Experience. Our First Time Ever in Europe

Sail Date: September 2013
Destination: Mediterranean
Embarkation: Barcelona

As usual the service, was exemplary. We have sailed previously on Zaandam, Zuiderdam, and the maiden season of Niew Amsterdam. So, we felt right at home almost immediately when we boarded Noordam at Barcelona.

The Collector Cruise was also a new experience for us but the connection between the two cruises was handled seamlessly, with no interruption in our itinerary. We booked our own air, but used HAL's airport transfer service, which was hassle free and timely.

We did notice the slower service in the Vista Dining room mentioned in another review, and the somewhat smaller portions. However, there was still more food in a meal than we could comfortably consume. We did our best. Also the Dessert Extravaganza was considerably less extensive than we recall from previous cruises, and there was limited table seating available for sitting and enjoying all those delicious concoctions.

Also as mentioned in other reviews, the Holland America attention to client More comfort and safety is still a priority. We experienced two days of Gale Force winds on our cruise which caused us to by pass stops at Katakolon and Santorini in Greece. We were surprised and pleased by the coordinated effort between the ship and Seattle HQ to orchestrate overnight a stop at Heraklion, Crete. Crete is the central site of the Minoan Civilization and the Archaeological Museum is an amazing must see.

Our early morning (3:00 AM) airport transfer was all taken care of. All we had to do was show up at the boarding ramp at the appointed time. The continental breakfast provided was an unexpected treat though it would have been even better if there had been cream for the coffee on the tray. LOL Less


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Port and Shore Excursions


Acropolis

The Acropolis is another of those must be there to appreciate it sites.

This tour is combined with the city tour by HAL and listed as strenuous because of the steep slipery climb up to the Acropolis. However, the literature fails to mention that for people who decide that they don't want to risk the walk up there is a cafeteria by the bus stop where they can wait for the others to return from the top. My wife would have enjoyed the first part of the tour even if she wasn't able to make the walk to the top.

City Tour

(4)

The bus tour hits several highlights of the city. Most notably the 19th century Olympic Stadium which seats 66,000 people, and is still used for Concerts and other programs. Especially interesting to me being from Atlanta, GA where the community is spending in excess of One Billion Dollars ($1,000,000,000) to replace a stadium that is less than 20 years old for a football team that has a hard time having a winning season.

Another interesting site is the tomb of the Unknown Soldier with the changing of the guards hourly 24x7x365.


This port was not on our planned itinerary. It was a last minute addition because of two ports missed because of weather (gale force winds prevented docking or tendering). It was an amazing alternative arranged overnight by excellent teamwork between the ship, and Holland America HQ in Seattle, WA.

The port provided a shuttle between the dock, and the passenger terminal. From there we walked several blocks to visit the Archaeological Museum which is astounding in the reconstruction, and artifacts of the Minoan society that existed thousands of years before Christ. The craftsmanship and quality of the products would be considered exceptional even in modern times.

I was interested in the pottery which was described as possibly influenced by contact with eastern Asia. Native Americans are also largely thought to have emigrated from Asia. I saw similarities in the patterns of the Minoan pottery with similar pottery made by the native americans of the American Southwest.

From the museum we walked to the central, El Venizelou (Lion) Square, where we had a soda, and sampled a local pastry called Bougatsa from one of the two restaurants on the square that serve it. It was very tasty.


The lack of ability to meet contacts at the port was a bit of a stumbling block for us. The Provence of Lucca is the home of our ancestors, and we were arranging to meet a distant relative for an independent visit to Chiatri and Viareggio. Free WIFI on the ship would have greatly aided our ability to arrange contacts. Additional information in the preview literature about the port would have been helpful.

As it was this stop was a highlight of our trip. We were available to visit the site of Puccini's villa in Chiatri where my grandmother was a maid in the late 1800's before becoming a mail order bride in the U.S. The Cemetery by the church had several tombs of people with our family names which will provide significant guidance as we research our geneaology. We had lunch with our relative in Viareggio, where my grandmother's brother lived and where he sent me postcards and stamps from when I was a youth in the 1950's and 1960's Altogether this stop was one of the absolute highlights of our cruise.


Sistine Chapel

The all day visit to the Vatican is an absolute must. Photos, and Video's cannot do justice to the scope and beauty of all these historic facilities. Similar to visiting sites like the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, there is no way to describe it unless you have been there in person.

we recommend booking the tour with the cruise line in order to see the most in the limited time available. The Vatican is very crowded (estimates are 30,000+ visitors per day). The tour operators are able to bypass most of the lines waiting to gain entrance to the various venues as well a providing a great deal of interesting information about all the artifacts that you are seeing.

One detail, in the literature this tour is rated as moderately strenuous but we feel that because of the amount of walking and the number of steps to be climbed as well as the length of the tour, it should be rated as strenuous. My wife was exausted and sore by the end of the day but, she would not have missed it for the world.

St. Peter's Basilica

The all day visit to the Vatican is an absolute must. Photos, and Video's cannot do justice to the scope and beauty of all these historic facilities. Similar to visiting sites like the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, there is no way to describe it unless you have been there in person.

we recommend booking the tour with the cruise line in order to see the most in the limited time available. The Vatican is very crowded (estimates are 30,000+ visitors per day). The tour operators are able to bypass most of the lines waiting to gain entrance to the various venues as well a providing a great deal of interesting information about all the artifacts that you are seeing.

One detail, in the literature this tour is rated as moderately strenuous but we feel that because of the amount of walking and the number of steps to be climbed as well as the length of the tour, it should be rated as strenuous. My wife was exausted and sore by the end of the day but, she would not have missed it for the world.

St. Peter's Square

The all day visit to the Vatican is an absolute must. Photos, and Video's cannot do justice to the scope and beauty of all these historic facilities. Similar to visiting sites like the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, there is no way to describe it unless you have been there in person.

we recommend booking the tour with the cruise line in order to see the most in the limited time available. The Vatican is very crowded (estimates are 30,000+ visitors per day). The tour operators are able to bypass most of the lines waiting to gain entrance to the various venues as well a providing a great deal of interesting information about all the artifacts that you are seeing.

One detail, in the literature this tour is rated as moderately strenuous but we feel that because of the amount of walking and the number of steps to be climbed as well as the length of the tour, it should be rated as strenuous. My wife was exausted and sore by the end of the day but, she would not have missed it for the world.

Vatican Museums

The all day visit to the Vatican is an absolute must. Photos, and Video's cannot do justice to the scope and beauty of all these historic facilities. Similar to visiting sites like the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, there is no way to describe it unless you have been there in person.

we recommend booking the tour with the cruise line in order to see the most in the limited time available. The Vatican is very crowded (estimates are 30,000+ visitors per day). The tour operators are able to bypass most of the lines waiting to gain entrance to the various venues as well a providing a great deal of interesting information about all the artifacts that you are seeing.

One detail, in the literature this tour is rated as moderately strenuous but we feel that because of the amount of walking and the number of steps to be climbed as well as the length of the tour, it should be rated as strenuous. My wife was exausted and sore by the end of the day but, she would not have missed it for the world.

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