This was our first cruising experience. We added the 10 day Roman Empire cruise to our 5 week European Adventure. It was my mother-in-law's life long dream to go to Europe. Unfortunately, she did not make the trip, however our family of 4 continued on with the plans we had made in April.
Let me say - I was reluctant to go on a cruise, but my mother-in-law had raved about her Mexico cruise and we thought this might be a nice way to see parts of Europe without the hassle of too much travel and most importantly, the packing, unpacking and shelping our luggage every couple of days. We also selected this cruise because it made a stop in Messina, Sicily where our older daughter had spent a year as an exchange student a couple of years ago.
We arrived in Civitavecchia, and experienced a very smooth check-in at the port. Our luggage was handled efficiently and courteously. We were on board the ship and in our room in less than a half hour. We met our friends in the check-in line and were in the LIDO restaurant within 1 hour of arriving at the Port.
Overall our experiences on the Noordam was very positive. From the Captain, the crew, the front desk staff, Drew the Cruise Director, Christina the Travel Guide, Elizabeth the Party Planner, the Noordam Singers and Dancers were all very professional and outstanding at their jobs.
The cabin stewards that were assigned to us were most attentive and all the restaurant staff in the Vista, LIDO, Pinnacle Grill, Terrace Grill, the Bar were so friendly, and provided excellent customer service. The Chefs were also very friendly and willing to answer questions.
The Spa staff was always friendly as well as the personal trainers in the workout room.
The folks in the gift shops were nice and one man in particular was very friendly.
There are so many places in the ship that you could "hang out" that it didn't feel too crowded, except for the pool deck. People hoarding their lounge chairs is a problem. Especially when you are looking for a spot to sit after a long hot day on shore.
I thought the maintenance of the ship was in tip top shape and we didn't see any area of the ship that might have been less than stellar. It really seemed that the 800 employees on the ship really took pride in their positions. The customer service training that HAL provides for their staff is really noticeable and we (our family) thoroughly enjoyed our cruise experience and will cruise again.