Noordam Cruise Review by ken-thompson: The Walking Dead
Overall Member Rating
The Walking Dead
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Well here is the scoop on Holland America.
Our family of three, two adults and a now 13 year old teen we have traveled on Holland America three times now. In the interim period we have cruised on Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises. We selected the 10 day cruise at least partially over the Thanksgiving school break and the destinations that appealed to us.
What we can tell you that is not opinion is that Holland America has reduced the crew to passenger ratio, adding 2-4 rooms additional to room stewards and additional tables to the restaurant servers. There is no question that there is a distinct decrease in the level of service. The room stewards no longer take the time to learn your name, same in the dining room, they are always in a rush (a few exceptions).
Now to give the good, we had a mini suite which provide much appreciated additional room, decent beds and a good sized balcony. The ship had undergone a recent refit and was in good repair and well More maintained. Sit down dining room food was generally good with a decent menu selection. Did the Pinnacle Grill one evening with a very nice menu and good food except for one over cooked steak. Service around the ship was OK but not particularly enthusiastic, one of the front desk girls was not particularly friendly. The dancers and singers were decent in the one show we watched.
Now the bad, Holland America has a reputation for catering to the older crowd, but they have made an attempt to provide services for families, and offer the usual casino and dance room, but lets define "old" now I am in my sixties so many of you would consider me "older" but you would be wrong on Holland America. I have never seen so many walkers, scooters, wheelchairs, walking canes WOW!! It would be my guess that the average age on the Noordam was about 75. So why is this a problem?
My 13 year old son was the ONLY teenager on the ship, there were 7 other children on board. They had three HAL club staff, maximum in the kids club at any one time was 3. So my son played video games by himself. Another problem was the entertainment, bad comedy, bad singer doing Rat Pack songs (this is a stage show?), bad house band, bad dance bands. All this entertainment was geared to the 75+ crowd. Nine o'clock you could fire a canon down the deck and not hit a single person unless there was a bingo game on! Days at sea were just plain painful, had to go work on the puzzle with the old gals to keep occupied and then go watch a movie in our room. Note there was no entertainment in the lounge 4 of the 10 nights including the last evening at sea.
We had some great ports of call and enjoyed our time ashore.
So the review runs this way, if you are really old (over 70) go you will have a great time. If you are young (under 70) or if you have children go on Princess or Royal Caribbean you'll have a much better time. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
You will notice a theme we don't take the excursions off the cruise ship, preferring to do our own thing. In Aruba (been here a few times) we rent a 4X4 jeep and drive the beach on the east side, this is not difficult and offers great views and interesting stops, note you can go on the 4X4 tours but they don't stop along the way and quickly done, you can then drive to the west end where the swimming beaches are, we went to Baby Beach so named as it is protected and shallow, then stopped and ate some local cuisine ( real local food ) prior to returning to the ship.
First time in Bonaire, great little town with a friendly Dutch flair, went on a sailing and snorkeling excursion with Compass Sailing, Wim and Lisette are a treat, you can book this in the booths to the left off the pier.
One of the best cruise ship islands with the best beaches, enjoy your time walking and swimming not necessary to spend additional here.
Curacao is another Dutch Island with a lot to offer, it is the industrial neighbor to Aruba but once you leave the oil refinery behind it is a nice island. We did the Irie bus tours, very nice as always, this is the rustic experience on an old school bus with the windows out (free beer) If you are younger (under 70) you will enjoy this trip
Unfortunately did not arrive until 12 noon and left at 5 pm so just walked the beach, shopped and swam. Have been here before if you have time go see the stingrays.
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