People cruise for a variety of reasons. Some just aspire to loll around on the ship and take advantage of it's numerous amenities, some may be primarily interested in "shopping until they drop" in overseas ports of call, and still others may be enticed by the opportunity to learn about distant lands and the people who inhabit them. As a retired geographer my interest in cruising is largely dictated by the latter, so what follows is less a commentary on the Noordam's strengths and weaknesses and more an insight on how to maximize the shore experience.
The Noordam: it is a beautifully modern vessel. My wife (Ellen)and I were among the last to board the ship (major snafu at the Venice airport), and after a long and trying day the sight of the ship was impressive and stress-relieving. Embarkation was a breeze, and the room was impeccably clean. Shortly after settling in we met our room steward (Eric) who we rarely saw thereafter, but who always had everything in order. My wife and I have nothing but rave reviews of all the personnel who worked aboard the Noordam on our 10-day voyage. They are dedicated, cooperative, caring people who are obviously proud of their ship (we have never witnessed so much polishing of brass and attention to housekeeping).
The Noordam reeks of art and artifacts, and it was fun taking all of this in as we acclimated ourselves to the ship.
Noordam food and entertainment: Neither my wife or I are culinary aficionados. If it looks and tastes decent we are on it like ravenous wolves after a successful kill. Quite frankly, we thought the food at all of the venues aboard ship was quite good. In some cases it was exceptional (of particular note: bread pudding, French onion soup, and evening dinner at the Pinnacle). Furthermore, the "presentation" of said food was impressive.
Because of early morning field trip departures we did not see all of the entertainment aboard ship, but what we did experience was generally disappointing. The young people who put on the big song and dance productions worked hard, but their performances never induced (for my wife and I) rousing standing ovations. Perhaps the most egregious aspect of entertainment was showing "Mama Mia" one evening in the main stage area. Ugh!!! A mediocre movie that could just as well have been shown in room (or better yet, deep-sixed). There were however, two first-rate performers. The young lady (forgot her name) who played guitar and sang in the Crow's Nest was very good, and tenor Preston Coe was exceptional!
Bottom line: nice ship, great service, excellent food, so-so entertainment, great ports (commentary to follow), would do it again in a heartbeat.