Noordam Cruise Review by mactig: HAL Standards Slipping?
Overall Member Rating
HAL Standards Slipping?
Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
Just completed an 11 day cruise on Noordam from Venice to Civitavecchia. This was our fourth HAL cruise and the second time on the Noordam. Again it was a great experience but there were one or two areas where we felt HAL's usual standard of excellence were perhaps slipping.
First the suite. It was 6177 - a Deluxe Verandah right at the back of the ship on a corner with wrap around balcony for views to the starboard and aft of the ship. Great for leaving Venice for example. The stewards were their usual excellent selves, friendly and efficient. We seldom had to ask for anything - it was always there. However the room amd bathroom were showing a bit of wear and tear. Perhaps time for a refurb?
Next the dining. Our suite status allowed us breakfast each morning in the premium restaurant Pinnacle Grill. However we only went there twice as the service and food there was poor. We breakfasted in the Lido self serve or in-room. The Pinnacle could not serve hot coffee which More was a pretty basic morning requirement, and often we had to strive to catch the waiters eye for service despite there being few other tables occupied. We also went there one night for dinner (the first night) and again the service was deficient although the food was exceptional. The wine waiter knew little about his wines and gave us a bottle which despite our wanting a dry wine, was so much on the sweet side we couldn't finish it. Another table that night also sent a bottle back for that same reason. We love our wines and are familiar with our own (Australian) ones, but needed help with the European and US wines featured so much on board. By contrast the wine waiter in the main dining room where we ate for the remainder of the cruise was pleasant, friendly and attentive and she knew her wines. Also the service in the main dining room was excellent and the menus there had lots of interesting choices.
We only took three HAL excursions, and these were marred by the usual compulsory visits to cameo shops and carpet shops. By all means include them as an option at the end of an excursion, but making them unavoidable put us off booking further tours. Also we thought it was a bit steep to take us to wineries, which we enjoyed, but charge us $18 to bring a bottle on board to consume. As the local wines were around $7 or $8 we did not buy any which was a shame for the local producers. This "corkage" charge is simply a money grab by HAL and prevented us enjoying local wines from the ports we visited. A corkage charge of, say, $5, would have been reasonable.
All in all we enjoyed our fourth cruise with HAL and would consider them again although we might try another cruise line next time as these little irritations have eroded our loyalty somewhat. Less
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