Another nice cruise with HAL aboard the NOORDAM on it's 10-day S.Carribean Seafarer Cruise. I don't rate many things a #5. This was close..
Being 50ish, we 2 couples were out to enjoy the sunshine and a few 'Island Experiences' of Snorkeling, SCUBA, and of course...laying around, shopping and having a coupla dozen cocktails. Curiously, we NEVER, ever once waited for a cold beer or cocktail aboard ship. Maybe $tipping$ a few bucks on Day#1 worked. We woulda liked live Beach-boy music Pool-side as on previous cruises, but no such thing; so we settled for 60's Muzak. But Caesar at the aft LidoBar and the server gals...you were great!! This was a timely 'Sunshine Cruise' for us. But I digress...
Arriving 1 day ahead of time was a very good idea. We stayed at Hilton GardenInn, which provided FREE AirportPickup and then $8bucks/pp for a van to NOORDAM the next day.
We were boarded NOORDAM later than planned due to a 'Super-Scrub Sanitizing' of the ship, so we left the Hilton at 2/pm instead of 11/am. I heard nary a complaint while we waited to board. Clean is GOOD!! Thanks, HAL. The NOORDAM appeared ship-shape. The new MANDATORY Life-boat drill is a good thing in my opinion, as I am a boat-owner myself. NOORDAM's fixtures and rigging and over-all condition was good, in my opinion. It's only 6 years old. Did the starboard shaft/screw have a little 'harmonic rumble'?? Yes,I guess it did.
One of us 4 was banged up years ago and he thus used a wheelchair. HAL was most accomodating while boarding etc. and thru-out the entire cruise.
The HAL passenger mix was..uh, 'reserved'; we were on the younger end of the demographics...and found that to be GREAT!! No damn belly-flop contests on THIS cruise or loud 2/am partyer's. We've been there..dun that ourselves..30yrs ago. Only a handful of kids and adults under 30 aboard ship. That's HAL.
We used LIDO for breakfast frequently...and had lunch poolside often. Yes, we attended 2 formal nights. We always do Open-seating in the MainDining Rm. That worked just A-OK. Menu was good..desserts got an A+ by the gals. We didn't do the PinnacleGrill this time, but heard it was great, as we had found on previous cruises. Our eating tastes at home made HAL food and occasional Room-service seem wonderful. If certain clientelle find it lacking in recent years...so be it. We found it to be most adequate in all respects food-wise.
Our 2 Suite/cabins were across the hall from each other. Suite#6175 overlooked the stern. Beautiful, sumptuous and Handicap-Accessible. Our 1 teeny complaint about the Cruise? The Suite's huge Veranda overlooking the stern was Hotter-n-The Hinges on the Gates of Hades. But, duh...we were near the Equator. We threw a bucket of water on the furniture and teak to 'Chill it a bit' on sea days. We aren't solitary types...so we laid around the aft pool on Deck#9 with a nice sea-breeze every day. No rain. Sweet.
We did NOT take in many shows. Rather, we took in the PianoLounge with Michael; doing a good job of playing/singing everything from Sinatra to DrJohn. We fellas spent our non-shore days drinking beer 'round the Aft Pool. The gals yakked in the library and did Pool aerobics and got a few massages in the Spa when not ashore. Numerous gals crochetted afghans most days we noticed. The casino was busy til about 11:30/pm. Then turn out the lights.
The artwork aboard the NOORDAM reflected an Art-Deco motif, with PeterMax,Andy Warhol and some funky sculptures making the ship feel fresh..not old.
We liked the SIZE of the NOORDAM. The Prinsendam is smaller and just fine, but the Mega-cruisers are NOT our style; so NOORDAM's 2 swimming pools and 5 bars suited us to a tee.
Before going on to the Island Shore days, I will add one final comment/suggestion: Get'Expedited Baggage' for the $18/bucks p/p so you can get the heck off first, but it's available only IF you fly home on 1 and only 1 Air Carrier. If money is no object, go Door-to-Door Luggage I suppose..for about $800 bucks. We did 'Expedited'...and never dealt with baggage til Minneapolis, MN. A clever HAL lure to get people off the ship at 7:30/am. I'm all for it.