5 Athens (Piraeus) to Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Holland America Noordam Cruise Reviews

Being our second cruise and reading the positive reviews of HAM & the Noordam, we were looking forward in anticipation of at least the same standard ( if not better ) as our first cruise ( Dawn Princess 14 days Melbourne- NZ ... Read More
Being our second cruise and reading the positive reviews of HAM & the Noordam, we were looking forward in anticipation of at least the same standard ( if not better ) as our first cruise ( Dawn Princess 14 days Melbourne- NZ -Melbourne). While we did enjoy the cruise, the Noordam/HAM/crew disappointed. On arrival, there was no positive greeting, just formalities and a keycard. Looking forward to quickly unpacking, securing our valuables and heading up top for a drink, our plans fouled almost immediately. Our cabin ( 8114). The safe wouldn't work. After 4 phone calls, 4 crew visits, 24 hours and 3 trips to queue at the 'front desk' for deposit box access, finally someone turned up and replaced the batteries! We also found that there were no robes, no wine glasses and one of the balcony chairs looked like it had been salvaged from a street-side collection. Poor standards and no checking. Dining Second seating in the main dining room, we rarely finished in time to see a 10:00 show. Our wine waiter was (deservedly) 'fired' after 2 weeks (not our doing) . Our favoured wines ( NZ Sauvignon Blanc, French Pinot Noir or Beaujolais were 'out of stock' or ran out early in the cruise. American, Chilean or Argentinian substitutes were the only 'options'. There were so many details where the Noordam dining experience was found to be lacking in comparison to the Dawn Princess. Pinnacle Grill - Unless you are keen to have a big piece of meat ( very nice I will admit ) don't bother. As a 'fine dining' experience, it was very poor. The service and presentation were 'average'. Staff training, oversight and adherence to standards seems to be the issue. After being seated at 8:30, we had the lights turned off/down at 10:30! A polite word from the maitre-de perhaps? Astounding! Entertainment Cheapest they could find? We walked out on most of the shows. Very disappointing. Overall - There were so many areas which didn't measure up to the standard we experienced on the Princess ship. I could elaborate but I think the opinion of a gentleman I met on the bow one morning perhaps says it all. " I've travelled with Holland America many times since 1964. It's not the same any more, they just seem to be nickel & diming us all the time now"   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
My wife and I generally choose a cruise because of the ports visited and not the ship, however we did find the Noordam was a poor choice compared to other ships we have been on. Our verandah stateroom, 4016, was poorly positioned, jutting ... Read More
My wife and I generally choose a cruise because of the ports visited and not the ship, however we did find the Noordam was a poor choice compared to other ships we have been on. Our verandah stateroom, 4016, was poorly positioned, jutting out from the decks above, resulting in coffee spills,wine spills, cigarette ash, etc from above. At times the verandah was unusable because of smokers above and alongside, (many cruise ships do not allow smoking in staterooms or on verandahs). The stateroom also had problems with the toilet, bath, verandah door, (wind noise). There was no coin operated laundry, which does not help on a 22 day cruise. One major control error was that signatures were never required for on board purchases - in a few cases we were double charged and could not prove they were not ours - to Noordam's credit, they did credit us, but we wonder what would have happened if they refused, or our ship's card was used wrongly! The food was adequate without being great, however the staff in the Vista Dining room were dysfunctional, and often got orders mixed up. On many nights we were more than halfway through our meal before a wine steward turned up. On the credit side, arrival/departure/embarking/disembarking was excellent, as were the shore excursion organisation.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
Just returned from an 11 night Ancient Mystery tour on MS Noordam (2nd time on board the same ship). Fabulous itinerary made even better by the changes, due to recent disruptions in Egypt, from Port Said & Alexandria to Ashdod & ... Read More
Just returned from an 11 night Ancient Mystery tour on MS Noordam (2nd time on board the same ship). Fabulous itinerary made even better by the changes, due to recent disruptions in Egypt, from Port Said & Alexandria to Ashdod & Haifa in Israel ' even more of a bonus that HAL gave us $100 pp. as compensation. Primarily we always chose a cruise based on itinerary / ports of call & Holland America Line excel in this area. The fact you can chose your length of stay i.e. 11 days, 22 days or even 33 days (for the lucky few), is also good as is the fact that the cruises don't loop ' you start in one port & end in another so can get further (although aware for some that embarking & disembarking in differing ports may be an issue). Secondly it comes down to cruise line ' chose a line as you would when choosing a resort & hotel ' they all differ greatly, even within a line it can depend on the individual ship, time of year travelling & even itinerary. Most cruise lines will be busy in school holiday & have kids on board ' some more than others. There are pros & cons with every cruise line. The MS Noordam is understated but elegant. She isn't the newest ship out there nowadays - 2006 - which is far from old but in ship terms she is showing some small signs of 'wear & tear'. However she is kept it pristine condition (unlike Thomson ships) & constantly cleaned. Compared to numbers of board there is more than enough public space for each individual & the ship never felt over crowded ' even on days at sea. There was never an issue with regard to sun loungers & getting seats at the shows (as I've experienced on other lines). Service is excellent particularly in the Vista dining room (Adhi our waiter went out of his way to create origami animals every evening for our son) & food is very good ' well presented & a good choice. Quality of ingredients is superior on HAL compared to other lines we've previously used, as are basics such as coffee in the main vista lounge & fruit juices (not so great in the Lido). Minimal public announcements - it was a relief not to have constant PA announcements telling us what was going on & flogging over-priced shore excursions, photos & DVD's as some lines do. The daily port of call / event guide was sufficient for this ' you just had to read it. Shows were enjoyable, again as per the whole ship, understated in style' a comedian, a magician & some 'Broadway' style shows performed by the Noordam singers & dancers which were all good '. If full on 'Vegas' style cheesy shows are your thing you possibly won't agree. Stateroom (we were in Veranda stateroom 5158) was good ' always kept immaculately clean & tidy by the stateroom attendant. Bed had good quality sheets & was so comfortable it was hard to get out in the morning! Room was quiete - no noise from any other part of the ship. No complaints about the stateroom ' not sure how it differs to other categories. Balcony bigger than that on other ships ' enough room for 3 to sit on it & watch the world go by. The ship is however reasonable quiet & restrained so if full on fun & partying & pool games are your thing this may not be the line / ship for you. There is enough to do if excursions are you main focus followed by good food & wine, a show & a drink in one of the many bars on board. There is a night club on board & Karaoke on some evenings but we never used these as we were travelling with a 12 year old. Our only disappointment with HAL was with regard to Turkish Visa's as we were disembarking in Istanbul ' we felt HAL used scare tactics & felt pressured into buying over-priced visas they persisted in arranging at $45 pp. for UK residents when it costs $15 pp. ('10) in port? We had looked into this prior to departure & weren't fooled by HAL but they still caused unnecessary stress & wasted too much of our time whilst we checked facts with home & online to make sure & by queuing on several occasions to sort with guest services. We bought ours Turkish Visa (only needed if disembarking here) for '10 in Kusadsi port & could have done the same before disembarking in Istanbul. I fail to see that HAL did not know this? It was even worse for fellow US passengers ' HAL were trying to charge $85 for something that cost $20 in port! It left a bit of a bitter taste after all the good things they'd strived to do.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We have cruised about ten times with various cruise lines before and have always considered HAL, along with Princess, among the better cruise lines for us (we are not exactly the younger generation). We last cruised with Princess in 2011 ... Read More
We have cruised about ten times with various cruise lines before and have always considered HAL, along with Princess, among the better cruise lines for us (we are not exactly the younger generation). We last cruised with Princess in 2011 in Asia. This is our third cruise with HAL on their 11-day Ancient Mystery starting off from Athens. We were very much disappointed. Noordam is a smaller ship and we are fine with that. However, there are smaller ship should not equate to smaller expectations. Room Service: We usually get room service for breakfast because it would be easier for our elderly mother. The delivery is usually on time. However, it was very rarely (in fact, never) that they got our simple order right. As we had three people in our state room, we would clearly mark our order for three and placed orders for at least two pots of coffee and one other hot beverage. They would however, never gave us three cups or three sets of cutlery. The orders were also never properly filled out. Despite of repeated request to the room service delivery staff, we finally gave up. We ended up ordering the hot food and drinks via room service and went up to Lido deck ourselves for items and cutlery/cup that was missing from our order. It worked out pretty good. Entertainment: In their desperate attempt to get good rating on their evaluation form, the Cruise Director reminded us at the beginning of our cruise that they could not please everyone and we should only judge entertainment on their effort. There is little doubt that the efforts made by the entertainers are good, but the type of entertainment effort provided by HAL was only fair. There were three big performances, including the DROOM show towards the end of the cruise which was excellent and full credit to the performing staff. Entertainment on other nights, however, consisted of solo guitarist, local Greek dancing group, and solo comedian/magician. These shows lasted usually for 30 minutes or less and most are more appropriate for smaller stage (eg bar or lounge setting) and not as the main attraction. Smaller ships should not equate to lesser entertainment shows. Organization: We took a private tour from Port Said with over-night stay in Cairo (try not to take shore excursions from any cruise lines because they are usually really expensive compared to the real world). We contacted HAL before sailing, informing them of our itinerary and received a confirmation letter stating that they ‘approved’ our overnight trip and would pass the information onto the ship personnel. When we came back on board at Alexandria, our cruise ship ID cards lit up at the check-in counter. We waited for the cruise line official to come out and gave us a stern talk about not letting them know that we were not returning to the ship at Port Said and that they had to wait for us. She finally let us back onboard. We promptly dropped off the official letter from HAL at the front desk noting that the breakdown in communication was within HAL, but we never heard from the front desk acknowledging their error or apologizing for their previous accusations. Shopping: They claimed price match/guarantee for jewellery. We bought a relatively inexpensive Swarovski Crystal bracelet on board but found exactly the same one in Mykonos for a lesser price. We bought the one in Mykonos with a receipt and pictures of the store and display. The two bracelets were exactly the same with the same colour combination and marking on the claps etc. Even the assistant manager confirmed that it was sterling silver and same make. However, the manager of the store said that we had to produce the lot and code number in order to meet the requirement of their price guarantee claim. I doubt any retailer can or will provide customers with the lot and code number for their products. And it would be impossible to see any diamond with the same cutting and carat weight in the same token. One can expect price to be a little more expensive on the cruise ship, however, if I think if they want to make a ‘price guarantee’ claim to draw in customers, they should make a honest and reasonable effort to honor their claim. So, buyers beware. We would also like to commend on a male Pilipino staff at the gift shop was very helpful. Boarding and Departure process: The boarding process was efficient and quick. The disembarking however was complete chaos. People were lining up on the stairs to disembark all the way up to the Lower Promenade level (exit three levels down) even though we abide to their exit color coded system. Words of advice: take the elevator no matter how long the wait- you can still get down to the lower exit level faster than lining up. Getting out of the Istanbul terminal to catch a private car was also difficult because of the limited space. Make sure you have previous discussion as to the pick-up point and arrive ahead of time (which could be difficult because of the line up). Food: Food in the dining room was acceptable yet unremarkable. Service provided by the staff, on the other hand, was good as expected. Dining room and Lido deck staff were also very good, attentive and friendly (except for one server on Lido deck who we avoided) and should be commended for their hard work. On Lido deck, most of their hot water dispensing machines were either not working or with the dispensing buttons badly worn out. It is always a guessing game as to where to get your hot water. The BBQ they provided at Mykonos was excellent and a nice break from the routine Others: When compared to our most recent Princess cruise in 2011, HAL came across as ‘cheap’. Simple example, on Princess, we got off the cruise just before our birthdays (three birthdays within 10 days of one other). However, on seeing our birthdays being so close to our time on the cruise, Princess made sure we had our birthday cakes etc on the last day of the cruise and decorated the outside of our room with balloons, very simple touch to make our cruise more memorable . This time we spent our birthdays on board HAL and HAL were aware of it. When there were no balloons, I approached the front desk and was told that if I wanted balloons, it would be $1.50 each. Wonder how much it will cost HAL for little balloons. By the way, all other cruisers liked the balloons on our door because they served as landmark to help identify the corridor, directions and cabins. Port-of-Calls: We got lucky and were able to tour all the cities without experiencing any riots and demonstrations; with Cairo and the pyramids being the highlight of the cruise. For the pyramids, don’t pay to go inside the Great pyramid. Instead, go to the smaller one (‘Third’ Pyramid) by the Sphinx. It is just as interesting. Make sure you have someone who can speak Egyptian to negotiate for you for the camel rides and pictures at the pyramid. We heard one lady passenger on our cruise line who just wanted to get on a camel for pictures but got taken out to the middle of the dessert without her permission and her husband had to hop on a second camel on hot pursuit. It was for good intent as the handler wanted her to have a nice view but without knowing what was happening (and you can’t jump off the camel), it was not a pleasant experience. For Istanbul, while one has to visit the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul because it is a tourist attraction, spent your time at the Spice Bazaar instead. We wanted to go back to the Grand Bazaar a second time for more shopping, but our guide recommended us going to the Spice Bazaar instead because it is cheaper, cleaner and sell roughly the same thing. He was right. Go to the Grand Bazaar for the experience but save your shopping at the Spice Bazaar. One thing you have to watch out for. The nice Turkish Delights samples we got at the stores were not the same as those packaged in boxes. They are made with sugar instead of honey (despite what the store owners may tell you) and there is hardly any nuts in them (as on the picture on the box). Also if you want the standard ‘cheap’ Turkish Delights, buy those offered at the cruise port in Kusadasi. The exact ones were sold at fraction of the cost as in Istanbul. Overall, the itinerary was excellent and port-of-calls provided great touring experience. The Noordam, in our opinion, failed to live up to HAL’s ‘Signature of Excellence’ claim.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
My husband and I chose this particular cruise for the itinerary. Although we had visited some ports on other voyages, there were a few we wished to see. The ship is imposing and grand looking from its dock and I cannot fault the food; it ... Read More
My husband and I chose this particular cruise for the itinerary. Although we had visited some ports on other voyages, there were a few we wished to see. The ship is imposing and grand looking from its dock and I cannot fault the food; it was very good. From there it goes downhill fast. As we unpacked in our cabin, we opened our bedside tables to find 30+ candies and receipts from the previous traveler. The cabin looked shabby and not well kept; needs either some new upholstery or cleaning. The veranda deck looked as though it had never been cleaned. The public rooms were virtually empty either because most were ill (more about that later) or bcause the rooms are far from inviting. Instead being cold and austere. The dining room wait staff was poorly trained and either had not served aboard a ship or were new and not very knowledgeable. Cleanliness is a big minus on this ship. At breakfast one morning alone we had to have three water glasses and two coffee cups removed because they were dirty. It seems if you are short tableware including glasses or cups they are removed from a vacant table and placed in front of you. This is very unsanitary as one has no way of knowing who has touched this prior to your use. The Lido was an awful place to TRY and eat a meal. On some mornings with an early excursion we were forced to eat there. Without trays, trying to balance juice and coffee for two and then to get an entree. Well, before you even sat down everything was cold. We ate in LeCirque one evening. Small choices on the menu and not worth the price as the food in the dining room surpassed our dinner. The Noordam was a "sick ship". Although we had no knowledge of this, the ship had begun its journey in Egypt and traveled to other ports before our departure from Athens. Who knew that some awful Norwalk virus had made its way on this ship. Every day we were told by the captain that some more cases were reported and yes my husband was one of those. He thankfully recovered after 24 hours and was out of quarentine although others were not so lucky. At every restaurant and many public rooms a crew mamber would stand with his hand sanitizer bottle at the ready. Each passenger was given a bottle to use. When we reached Rome we were told to disembark whether we wanted to or not as a crew was boarding to try and sanitize the ship. None of these measures actually worked as more and more became ill. Some failed to report their sickness as we learned at breakfast one morning. A gentleman informed us he had had the Norwalk but treated himself with Immodium. This cruise probably should have limped into a port and been cancelled. By the end of the trip many were coughing and sneezing and went on their way with a virus. The cabin stewards were the friendliest and seemed to be the most efficient. The officers and other crew members seemed very cold, aloof especially those at the main desk. The shows were amateurish at best. The art auction was fun and the young ladies who assisted the auctioneer, Tanya and Michelle were outstanding in their friendliness. This ship, in my opinion lacks attention to detail that others of our experience have displayed. It also seems to operate on the premise that all is done for its convenience and not that of the passenger. Now, granted most lines may operate that way; economically sound. But, none in my experience has shown such a blatant disregard for the passengers well being. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Noordam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.8
Family 2.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.6
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 3.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.3

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