The cruise before ours had an attack of norovirus so we had a delayed boarding. Initially it was 1:30, but extended to 4:30 pm. HAL gave out box lunches and free shuttle rides to a local mall. We chose to wait at the pier and take our chances on an earlier boarding time. Didn't happen.
The first night was understandably chaotic....cabins not equipped, luggage not accessible for a long time. The annoying thing was there were no announcements on board regarding dinner seatings. This resulted in long lines and frustrated passengers and crew. Simple overhead pages could have eliminated that.
We were surprised that our cabin (semi obstructed view) had a floor to ceiling window....so despite the friendly winch, there was lots of light in the cabin. A nice perk. When they used the winch (only twice) the sound was LOUD....less price for cabin = more cruising for us so we did not mind.
Food.....good. We ate dinners in the main dining-room at the 8 pm seating. We had requested a table for two when we booked several months. Our table was in the very back and seated 4. Fortunately we were the only ones at the table. After the first night of feeling like naughties stuck in the corner we were able to get a table for 2 closer to the action Our servers were adequate...but seemed surprised each night when we ordered coffee for DH and tea for me. No problem. We had breakfast and lunch in the Lido and found a nice selection every day.
Ports....we booked because of the itinerary and enjoyed each port even though we had visited a few many times. We did a drift snorkel trip in Bonaire with Woodwind and we highly recommend it. Saw great fish and turtles and had a private guide for every 8 snorkelers. Super. The snorkel trip we booked with HAL in Aruba was very disappointing....they eliminated the wreck site and I am pretty sure it was because they spent some time sailing around in circles to retrieve someone's purse ! The crew warned everyone to hold on to their possessions many times in the first 15 min....oh well. A crew member said that they were not going to the wreck (which we could see from the first site) because "they looked at the passengers and decided to skip it and there wasn't enough time". I thought that was pretty judgmental re age and I complained when we got back to the ship. Fortunately they did give me a small refund to make up for that.
Entertainment....we skipped all the production shows....we did go to the first "preview" and thought the singers were not very good. We did go to the other shows.... comedian was funny and a violinist was also entertaining.
I attended several computer/camera lectures sponsored by Microsoft and really enjoyed those. Wished Apple did a few on the iPhone and i pads. Also went to a few craft classes but they were really pitiful. The young girl doing them looked totally bored and yawned many times during the ones i attended. Guess old ladies did not interest her.
Culinary presentations, captains talk and the travel lecturer were very interesting.
Two sea days back home are a bit tedious for us, but over all we really had a great time.
A few things i missed on the Noordam: no washer/dryers and no day of the week rugs in the elevators. I kept forgetting what day it was. Crew said that only the smaller ships have those rugs.
I was able to connect to wifi in all the ports. Just asked when we got on shore....some were free, others a small fee or free with a purchase. On board charges are exorbitant and i refuse to pay for slow connections.... although, i was envious when i walked past the internet cafe or saw folks using their laptops on board.