The Noordam Western Med cruise packs 9 port days into a 10 day cruise....just one sea day to catch your breath!! This cruise is not for the easy going laid back I want to be on the beach type! It's jam packed from dawn to dusk. Great ports with plenty to do.
I am normally a small ship kind of girl, love my Azamara - but this was a family cruise to celebrate my niece and nephew's graduation. There were 7 of us in 4 suites. I was very pleased with my HAL Noordam experience for the most part, as were we all.
We originally booked 2 insides, one balcony and one suite about a year ago. A few months ago there was a suite sale.... for an SZ gtee we were able to book all 4 in suites for almost 6,000 less than we originally were quote. No way we were going to turn that deal down!! We were sweating the details having requested rooms close by each other (2 minor children in one stateroom) and finally got our cabin assignments a few days before we left. Bingo - 3 cabins in a row and my cabin across the way! I have booked gtee before but never remembered waiting that long for an assignment.
This was my second time on the Noordam and third time on HAL. The ship is lovely. Clean, well maintained, staff and crew are friendly but not quite as friendly as years past. Found a few that didn't seem happy to be aboard. My air conditioning went out on the first night - couldn't be fixed even though I reported it early evening but a fan arrived and the front desk really tried to accommodate me --- to offer me the only cabin available (inside) for the night -- but the fan worked famously and I was fine!
The followup on the problem was excellent. Assistant Manager called on me several times. Front desk too. Great customer service. Exceeded expectations!
The food - we ate in the dining room and at the Lido. The Lido closes a bit early and has an area for table service. The food was excellent everywhere. Tried the Pinnacle and was impressed with the food but not the service. Not that they weren't nice but that they seemed to be less trained than the dining room staff and not trained in fine dining experience service. But the food was GREAT! I have to say that I was extremely impressed with the food. I rate it an 8.5 - 9 - I never really had a bad meal. Lamb was super. Didn't love the room service menu - very salty.
The Spa is great - lots of variety and good technicians. ONE HUGE issue - thought that the Thermal suite should be available for the day to folks who book expensive services. I had booked a massage for 195 but they would not give me access either before or after. Every other ship I have been on does that.
Didn't find that they were nickle and diming me - maybe because I am just "with the program" and know how to avoid it. They let you carry on wine in each port - no hassles. Love it!
The ports are amazing with ONE GLARING EXCEPTION - Tunisia!! Hated it. In 80 cruises I have never left a port tour early - this was the time. Couldn't wait to get back on board. We told our private guide we didn't feel good and went back to the ship. I can't put my finger on exactly what bothered me .... many things. Many folks felt the same. Didn't speak to anyone that enjoyed the port. I felt that the locals seemed unhappy....they were polite but barely so....political tension? For whatever reason, it isn't a great port of call and probably should be terminated. Carthage isn't nearly as breathtaking as Ephesus and is a lot more spread out. Nothing much to see in Tunis - Sidi Bou Said has lots of knockoff bags and souvenirs but no high quality shops. The shops at the cruise terminal are really quite nice and no haggling.
All in all - great cruise and lots of fun.