Noordam Cruise Review by AmberlBB: mediocre cruise
Overall Member Rating
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Everything was adequate, but certainly no "wow" factor. Steward tried to overcharge us multiple times for water from the minibar. Even though we sat at the same table every night, the waiters never learned our names or beverage preferences. They were polite, but very rushed, and service was impersonal.
Many repeat HAL cruisers expressed disappointment at the cutbacks. They all said it was the "little things" that were gone, all done to trim the budget. The welcome glass of champagne, the flowers in the cabin, the "higher end food", etc. The food and service at the Pinnacle Grill was at the level you originally would have had in the main dining room - for no extra charge. At the same time, the aggressive approach to get you to spend money was very noticeable - ridiculously high internet fees, charging you for a soft drink with your lunch, or loud promotionals to get you to shop,shop, and shop some more.
Age is a state of mind. Some have commented on the age of the More passengers. It's not so much the chronological age of the passengers, but their physical and mental shape. It was a traffic jam of walkers, Hoverounds, and wheelchairs. Others were walking around disoriented or confused, or fell sound asleep at the dining tables. Suffice it to say, the fitness center was never crowded. Entertainment was mostly music from the 1940's and 1950's. (Doris Day not Little Richard). Although I qualify as a "senior citizen", I felt like I was a bit young for HAL's "target audience". In all fairness, many seemed to be enjoying the cruise, but I'll look for different cruise line for future cruises. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
Did the "power snorkeling" trip. Driver was very informative, giving a history of the island on our way to the snorkeling site. Staff was very helpful showing us how to run the propelled machines for the snorkeling. They made sure everyone knew how to run them. It's an outstanding experience for those who have difficulty snorkeling, because the machine does the "kicking" for you. But it's also great for experienced snorkelers and divers, because you can direct the machine to propel you underwater, which enables you to have a great "free diving" experience. I highly recommend this to everyone.
Sea Lion Encounter
Our group for the Sea Lion Encounter was brought to a location with others who had signed up for Beach Escape, at about 10:00 a.m. The Encounter, although quite expensive, was little more than a gimmick to get us to spend even more money to buy a DVD of pictures. A photographer first established who you arrived with, then grouped you with that person, and constantly snapped pictures, First you met a female sea lion. While the guide answered some questions, one person in your group got to hug the sea lion while the other person sat there as part of the photo. You were not allowed to have an individual photo with the sea lion. Then you stood in the ocean for a few minutes with a male sea lion. Same thing. Shooting group photos. The gotcha? A group of 2 people got charged $10 more than if the photo was of one person. Even more $$ if there were 3 people, etc. However, each group only got ONE DVD per group. The person I arrived with lived thousands of miles from me, and I never requested to be "grouped" with that person. But they kept insisting on charging extra because there were two people in each photo. It was still morning when we were done with the Encounter, and everyone - including the Beach Escape people asked to be taken back to the ship. We were all informed that we would have to stay until 3:30 p.m. Furthermore, we would all need to buy our own lunch, since nothing was provided by the ship nor excursion staff. Not only did we have to buy our own lunch, but also put up with vendors constantly trying to sell drinks and trinkets until the 3:30 p.m. departure. Bottom line, this overpriced Sea Lion Encounter only lasts long enough to snap a bunch of photos, and the rest of the time you're stranded for hours on a beach, and left to buy your own lunch.
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