My girlfriend and I were looking for a week long cruise including New Year’s Eve and which had San Juan as a port of call. We found what we were looking for on the MS Noordam which is operated by Holland America Lines (HAL). I had never been on a weeklong cruise and had never sailed with HAL. Before the cruise I read the on line reviews which were mostly very complimentary. But this is what I have to say about our cruise on the HAL ship Noordam. Carmen and I were trying to identify something about the cruise which was lacking but it was hard to do so. The ship is modern and tastefully designed and decorated and in general is also kept very clean. We found every one of the ship’s staff all the way from the bus boys right up to the Captain to be on all occasions very friendly, helpful, and with very service oriented attitudes.
Our stateroom maintenance gentlemen, Osmon and Hoho, were right on top of everything. The stateroom was serviced promptly and completely every day and usually when we were not there. Even though the ship was close to being fully booked the lines at the buffet were never excessively long. The breakfast and lunch food quality at the Lido deck buffet was very good but the dining room dinner food was exceptional. We also paid extra for two dinners in the Pinnacle Grille (Le Cirque) and Canaletto Restaurant and the food was of gourmet quality and certainly worth the money. The food in the Vista Dining Room was also fantastic. We were able to make dinner reservations or just show up and get a table for just the two of us in the Vista every night that we dined there. The onboard entertainment was also very enjoyable. There were some very talented entertainers on board but we especially enjoyed the BB King Tribute band that we enjoyed for five nights during the cruise. We also took advantage of the Greenhouse Spa and the exercise facilities multiple times during the week.
What really impressed me was how the ship’s day to day activities occurred right as planned and on schedule. For example we would sail hundreds of nautical miles and then we would disembark within minutes of the planned time. The logistics of operating this ship appeared mind boggling to me but everything happened exactly as it was planned. One day our stateroom toilet quit flushing and it was repaired within two hours. One review complained about the lack of children and the very elderly on board. There were indeed few children on board but to me that was a plus. In addition there were many elderly people on board but there were also many young and middle aged people as well. In addition everybody seemed a little more upscale than some of the people that you might encounter on a cruise. The only criticism I can think of is that sometimes the hot breakfast buffet was not always that hot. But everything considered I have nothing but the highest marks for HAL and the MS Noordam crew. We met many people that have sailed with HAL several times and that in itself tells you something. Rather than take any chances I think the next cruise I take will be (if possible) with HAL.