My husband and I (both in our 60's) sailed on the Noordam for an 11 night cruise. This was our first HAL cruise and we would definitely do it again (and again and again). We flew to Rome and embarked the same day; we flew out of Venice the day the cruise ended. Next time we will plan better and allow a couple days at the start/end of the cruise to have a little more time to enjoy the beginning and ending ports. We did use HAL's cruise/air plan and have no complaints about that - the price was quite reasonable and the HAL staff was great in getting us from the airport to the ship and vice versa.
Our cabin (8112) was located under the pool but we did not have any noise problems whatsoever. We did not have water pouring from the pool deck onto our balcony either. We found the cabin placement convenient (close to elevator, one deck below Lido deck). Our cabin was a decent size and having a balcony was great. Our cabin was a VF category but prior to our cruise the same cabin was a VA.
Cabin stewards were attentive and we experienced none of the plumbing problems I have seen mentioned in other reviews, The food was good and plentiful. We opted for anytime dining and there was only 1 night where we waited longer that 10 minutes to be seated.
The absolute best part of this cruise was the itinerary and was the reason we chose this cruise. We stopped at Messina, Malta, 2 ports in Greece, 3 ports in Croatia, Montenegro, and an overnight for the last day in Venice. The only port I found lacking was Messina; the rest were fantastic, Our weather was great and we did mostly everything on our own. The only HAL tour we took was the first day - a glimpse of Rome. The tour was worth it as it took us by most of the major sights in Rome. Only complaint is we wish we could have stopped at more than one place while in Rome. We loved the Croatia ports and of course we loved all the time we had in Venice.
The only disappointment we had was with the info provided by the shore guide. She gave us some wrong information about a couple of the ports that ended up causing us to walk a LOT longer than we should have had to walk to get where we were going. We relied on public transportation in the ports and that was a whole lot cheaper than using the transportation arranged/recommended by HAL.
We did not find the entertainment to be all that good except for the Blues Band. But, quite frankly it did not matter to us as our entertainment was visiting the ports and seeing all the wonderful sights each had to offer.
We did sign up for the hydrotherapy pool but after using it once, we decided we would probably be forcing ourselves to use it for the remainder of the cruise just to get our money's worth. So, we asked if we could cancel and HAL allowed us to and charged just for the one use we had. We found the regular Jacuzzis to be just fine for what we wanted.
Our experience was so good we want to do another cruise next year and I have already started looking. My husband is not enthusiastic about cruising so for him to want to do another one is a big compliment to HAL.