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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
As this was a special occasion, we spared no expense and booked a Neptune Suite with large aft wrap around balcony. Expectations were high, more so as we have cruised extensively before and enjoyed our Cunard and Celebrity cruises ... Read More
As this was a special occasion, we spared no expense and booked a Neptune Suite with large aft wrap around balcony. Expectations were high, more so as we have cruised extensively before and enjoyed our Cunard and Celebrity cruises immensely. The trip started positively, embarkation was quick and friendly. Things went downhill from there. Cabin (and ship) decor is very dated and years overdue for a refit. Furniture and fittings are of low quality, and this was especially evident in the bathroom. Main dinning room was mediocre, decor again dated, dark and stuffy. Worst part was the food, despite an effusive menu littered with culinary terms, the food was basic, low quality, dumped on the plate and served lukewarm. We ate there twice and then never returned. Lido dinning was even worse. Very limited choice, mostly pizza and pasta, and poor process for dishing out food, leaving people waiting ages for their order to be filled. Worst was the service times, if you wanted food outside their designated times, only dried up pizza was available. Not a vegetable in sight. At 8.30pm most stations were closed, and I have a picture of staff coming through vacuuming while diners still eating ! By day three, we reverted to eating all meals onshore when in port. On sea days we ate at the Pinnacle Grill, which was excellent, but at an xtra cost of $35 per head each time. Enrichment program was limited and focused on selling stuff. Entertainment stage shows were okay, but cruise director was clearly just coasting and did not bring any energy or interest to the cruise. Officers were rude and uninterested on the rare occasion we saw them or spoke to them. The only redeeming factor was the general staff, who were worked so hard to make up for the inadequacies of the ship, the processs and the lack of leadership. They were without exception, cheerful, helpful and engaging. To all of them, our sincere thanks. Other passengers we spoke to had mixed views, many shared our views, but others were very happy, so maybe it’s a matter of expectations. For us, this was our first experience with HAL and based on this we would not book them again. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
BACKGROUND: Took my mom on this cruise. It was #1 on her bucket list to travel to Australia. I’m 50 , she’s 71. We chose this 12 day cruise based on itinerary, not cruise line. It covered South Australia including Tasmania ... Read More
BACKGROUND: Took my mom on this cruise. It was #1 on her bucket list to travel to Australia. I’m 50 , she’s 71. We chose this 12 day cruise based on itinerary, not cruise line. It covered South Australia including Tasmania and was round trip from Sydney. I normally cruise on Silversea but have also cruised one time each on RCCL, Paul Gauguin, Celebrity and Azamara. HOTEL: We stayed for 3 days pre cruise at Hotel Intercontinental which is a fantastic location and beautiful hotel. I have been to Sydney 4 times and this was by the best location. Circular Quay really is the heart of Sydney and is the easiest location to venture to other parts of the city. Definitely will stay here again or Marriott which is also right there as well. EMBARKATION: very easy. Porters met us as soon as we exited limo. We went inside, filled out health questionnaire and proceeded to desk to check in., No lines, very nice staff. In a matter of minutes we were on board. FIRST IMPRESSION: I had low expectations honestly . Having read cruise critic before trip and I had googled photos. But much to my dismay, the pictures I had seen actually made it look nicer than it really was. I knew it wouldn’t be modern and shiny like Silversea and Celebrity but was shocked the second I walked on. It was terrible. Ugly dark blue carpeting, with bright red accents and the lighting was literally yellow with ugly brass sculptures and trim. I know this ship was built in 2006 but cant imagine it was even stylish back then. We made our way to deck 6 and as we walked aft to our room , I couldn’t believe how ugly even the hallway was. Ugly wall covering, peeling in most places, cabin doors that looked like cork and ugly blue funky carpeting. My heart sank..The ship is so dated and worn. I know it’s going in to dry dock for a refurbishment in May....but I’m not sure HAL will do enough to make this ship really competitive in the industry. There are so many new ships out there and ships being remodeled, I would think HAL must be losing ground. I noticed when I got home they are advertising a lot and wonder if they are beginning to have trouble filling up ships with all the stiff competition out there. CABIN: See below on cabin review...but we had a Neptune Suite 6177. LOVED LOVED the huge wraparound veranda. DINING: i prepaid 6 specialty restaurants ,,,3 for Pinnacle and 3 for Canaletto. I was happy to find out that we had the same 2 top reserved for the whole cruise in the Main Dining Room . I dont know if that is normal, a suite perk or our travel agent set it up for us, but it was a lovely surprise. I loved the food on this cruise. I thought it was better than Celebrity and not too far off from Silversea. There were lots of choices every night. After eating one night each in Canaletto and Pinnacle, we decided that although very good, I dont think they are worth the upcharge as the MDR was so good and I dont think they were better than the MDR in my opinion, so we canceled the remaining reservations at specialties. We also had very good service in the MDR>. Loved our waiter and asst waiter and we felt the service was quicker in the MDR and a bit slow in Pinnacle and Canaletto. I dont like to linger at the table for hours on end during dinner, so I appreciated the quicker service in the MDR. Every meal I had was good (except room service). The only thing we didnt like at the restaurants was a ginger chocolate cake one night for dessert. Had no flavor, seemed a bit “wet”...just blah. It wa like a major ingredient was left out . We only ate at LIdo Buffet twice as I hate buffets. We did salads for 2 lunches and they were good. LIdo Buffet dining room was always packed and hard to find a place to sit. Decor looked straight out of Golden Girls episode. ROOM SERVICE: Definitelly needs improvement. Without going into detail on each item we ordered....just seemed like it lacked someone doing quality control. Missing or short ingredients in salad, food not to temperature, omelette bathed in butter/oil, only hot milk brought for cereal, Every time we got it, we were disappointed. Fortunately, we had access to Neptune’s Lounge and there are always snacks and sweets there all day long. ENTERTAINMENT: I dont normally like cruise ship entertainment, so i didnt go to any shows , so I cant really comment . I can only say that friends I made on the ship didnt have anything good to say about the shows. SERVICE: Noordam really shined here. Everyone from our cabin stewards, to our waiters, to bartenders etc, were all excellent. Everyone was so nice and friendly and even though it’s a larger ship than what I m used to, i was surprised at how many workers knew my name and used it frequently. The only place where employees werent friendly was Explorations Cafe....I felt like I was in the “soup nazi: episode of Seinfeld. Order quickly then move down counter to collect your coffee and pastry. They didnt smile, didnt seem like they enjoyed their job, seemed annoyed if you didnt know what you wanted right away. OVERALL: It was such a mixed bag of experiences. While I loved the service and the food and the passengers were pretty social (unlike Silversea sometimes). The dreariness of the ship tarnished the experience. I loved the pool aft, big open space and never crowded. I never did the midship pool because it seemed like every time I walked through it, the roof was closed and they were doing some type of sidewalk sale from the shops and there were tons of people clogging up the space and being noisy. I loved that HAL has happy hour from 4-5 and 9-10. The bars were packed and a lot of fun and dare i say a great value for dinks on a ship! I got 2 gin and tonics or old fashioned s for $11 total including gratuity. Celebirty is outrageous...so I was very pleased. SPA: so while i dont do spa treatments on cruise ships as I think they are way too expensive, my mom loves pampering herself and so I encouraged her to enjoy. What I will say is that on day one, we did a tour of the spa and fitness area and was totally turned off/irritated. There was such a hard sell on this ship like I have seen on no other. I dont like when they wont take no for an answer. I had to get pretty curt in order to overcome their hard core selling pressure. My mom did 5 spa services and after the first one , she came back to the cabin with hundreds of dollars of unneeded and overpriced products. She’s very soft and easily influenced and the spa crew definitely knew her number. I was furious...feeling like they take advantage of an older person. GYM: old equipment and too small of a free weight area. PORTS: SYDNEY...MY FAVORITE CITY IN AUSTRALIA...BEEN 4 TIMES, LOVE IT! MELBOURNE: feel like it is overrated. Surprisingly, I didnt care much for it. We did our own thing...lots of locals at port to help with tourism advice. We uber’d Everywhere and it was easy. We did the Royal Botanic Gardens...Amazing!! It’s huge and gorgeous. Probably the best I have done anywhere. Then we went to St Kilda Beach. A great beach town south of town. Beach not as nice as many in Sydney, but clean. The village there has lots of local boutiques, restaurants etc...kind of a funky, hip town. Had a good lunch there in one of the many sidewalk cafes. Then we went to city center for some shopping. Ugh, what a mistake. Felt like just another huge city, with too many cars , people etc....it was claustrophobic....didnt feel like it was unique or interesting. General consensus of my happy hour friends that night was the same....Melbourne was a bit of a disappointment. ADELAIDE: we overnighted here. However, it’s a 45 min train ride into the city, so not as convenient. Train was free that weekend....it isn’t usually, but for whatever reason, that line was free. We loved all the beautiful architecture in Adelaide. It’s a smaller city which I liked and easy to walk. We also did the botanical gardens there which were very nice as well. Shopping is good ...they have a huge pedestrian mall/street there with anything and everything you would want...and lots of restaurants. Seemed to be the hub of the city. . Would definitely go back. PORT LINCOLN: small town of about 15k. Did a ship excursion that gave us a bus tour of the highlights of this fishing village. Then we walked around the town, poked in some shops. Some might not like it since its small and not a lot to do, but i love small towns and enjoyed the slower pace very much! KANGAROO ISLAND: wow....this was probably everyone’s favorite destination. Anyone we talked to , raved about this island. You go here for wildlife. We did a ship excursion..but you could easily do it with a rental car as my friends did. It’s a sparsely populated island and easy to drive around and see the same sights we did on ship tour. Its gorgeous, the seals are amazing, seal lions, koalas, birds , kangaroos etc...it was a very long day, but absolutely stunning and magnicient. PORT ARTHUR TASMANIA: We did a ship tour. It was an eco cruise along the coastline for about 3 hours. It was a wild crazy fun ride. Swells were huge.....but it was such a gorgeous ride. A couple people got seasick...but the rest thought it was exhiliarating! HOBART TASMANIA. We did ship tour here to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. They only gave us 1 hour here which was disappointing. Lots of kangaroos to feed and pet. But lots of other Australian wildlife. This place isi great and no one wanted to leave. Then we went to historic town of Richmond....no tour...just dropped us off the bus and gave us an hour to walk around. Town was boring...even the shopping wasn’t very good. My big purchase there was a Red Bull to keep me awake. Once back to Hobart, we walked over the city. REally cute quaint city...in particular the trendy area of Salamanca....beautiful old buildings turned in to cool restaurants and shops...loved it. DISEMBARKATION ...super easy and quick....took the ship arranged bus to Sydney airport for flight home. We had an amazing vacation and loved our trip, our time together, the food , the amazing new friends I met on the ship...just wish it had been on a beautiful ship where I felt more upscale and special. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
This was a bucket list trip for my husband and I. Always wanted to go to New Zealand and Australia and this cruise was a great way to do it! It was a celebration of our 30th anniversary. We just did one excursion through Holland ... Read More
This was a bucket list trip for my husband and I. Always wanted to go to New Zealand and Australia and this cruise was a great way to do it! It was a celebration of our 30th anniversary. We just did one excursion through Holland America, as we found their prices to be rather high. Booked excursions on our own and with a group of Cruise Critic members. Very happy all around. The Maasdam was a little dated but very well maintained. The crew was constantly cleaning everywhere. Cleanliness was obviously a top priority on the boat. We used the gym daily. Very pleased with their offerings. I went to the morning stretch and abs classes most days, they were great. Entertainment was fair. A few good nights but nothing special. I really liked the Americas Test Kitchen cooking demos. Very interesting and well taught. Overall we had a fabulous time! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We choose this ship and the itinerary to see New Zealand and Australia. We enjoy Holland America and the itinerary, plus an aft cabin fit all we wanted in the cruise. We are in our late 50s & early 60s. We made airline reservations ... Read More
We choose this ship and the itinerary to see New Zealand and Australia. We enjoy Holland America and the itinerary, plus an aft cabin fit all we wanted in the cruise. We are in our late 50s & early 60s. We made airline reservations to stay in Auckland 3 days before embarkation. However, when we were just about to go out the door for our flight on American Air, we received a call that our flight was canceled and they would re-book the same flight the next day. They did, but the available seating was not very good. The flight was very, very long St Louis to Los Angeles, then 13 hours from Los Angeles to Auckland. Needless to say that we were worn out when we arrived in Auckland. We left St Louis 5 below zero and were greeted in Auckland with 66 and light rain. Everyone apologized for the bad weather, but we enjoyed the warm moist weather. The rain restricted our ability to do sight see, but gave us a chance to rest up. We took a ferry from our B&B directly to the pier for embarkation on the Maasdam. A very nice way to board the ship. The dining was very nice. We ate in the Rotterdam Main Dining room for a majority of our meals. The menus provided a wide variety to select just the right meal to satisfy any desire. The presentation and quality of the food was out standing. We ate at the 2 alternative dining venues and were pleased with the quality of the food. We had a few meals in the Lido buffet and enjoyed those meals. I made it to the ice cream station at least once a day, but sometimes twice. We had a Dive-in burger once after our shore excursion came in after the lunch time. The burgers were good. Overall the food was great. Shore Excursions: Tauranga - We visited Hobbiton where the outdoor filming of the Shire was done for the Lord of the Ring and Hobbit movies. What a wonderful excursion. Both myself & my wife have watched those movies and read the books to make it a very memorable day with lots of pictures. The scenery along the way was very pleasant. An excellent excursion. Napier - We visited a Maori homeland, Arch of the Ancestors. They explained the history of their ancestors, the customs and their lives today. Again the scenery to & from was very nice. An excellent excursion. Wellington - We had a tour of the city with details of the history. It included a ride on the cable car and a visit to the WETA Cave, the studio where the Lord of the Ring and Hobbit movies were made. Many more photos and memories.The tour guide was an actor in the Lord of the Ring 3rd movie and gave us some in depth details in the making of the movies. An excellent excursion Akaroa - Our excursion was Journey to Middle Earth, you guessed it, it was where the the filming of the Rohan in the Lord o the Rings was done. The tour guide was with the sound crew for the Lord of the Ring movies. He was able to explain many details of the production of the movies. The scenery of the Southern Alps was breath taking. Our favorite shore excursion. Dunedin - We took a ride on the Taieri Gorge railroad. The train went through the gorge and the scenery was great. An excellent excursion. Oban Stewart Island - This island is south of the South Island. We did not have a shore excursion, but chose to walk around the small town and have lunch at the Hill Top Restaurant. When we got there it was closed but we found a hotel in town and had Blue Cod Fish & Chips. The best fish & chips I have had. It was cool and windy in town and we spent about 4 hours visiting shops and a nature center. Very beautiful town. Fjordland - A day cruising with outstanding scenery. They were glacier cut with tops of the mountains 6,000 feet, nearly straight up from the water. It is a day that we will remember. An excellent day. We had two days at sea from New Zealand across the Tasman Sea. The seas were both rough and smooth. All the sea days had two session of Americas Test Kitchen. They were great. The first night crossing the Tasman Sea, the singers and dancers show was canceled because of the rough seas. But it was a very relaxing time at sea. Burnie Tasmania - A trip to Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake. The countryside was very nice. We saw Kookaburra in gum trees, a Wallaby with her Joey, a wombat, and many other animals. We hiked a short distance to Dove Lake and had a wonderful view of Cradle Mountain. The weather was cool and windy. The tour was great. Melbourne - Hopped on a tram and visited St Patrick Cathedral. A Gothic cathedral that was built in the 1800's. It is beautiful. We then walk through Fitzroy's Garden. After about 4 hours we hopped on the tram and made it back to the ship. Melbourne is a large city, a clean city, with excellent public transportation. It was a very nice day. Sydney - We disembarked in Sydney across the harbor from the Opera House and next to the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Very photogenic. We stayed at a hotel one block from the pier and walked over to the Opera House, then to the Botanical Gardens. What caught my attention were the many large tree. Many of the trunks were 10 feet wide and larger. The flowers and the birds were spectacular. We saw Cockatoos, Lorikeets, Magpie and many other birds. There were acres of flowers. After about 5 hours and sore feet we made it back to the hotel for a rest. The next day we strolled around the port area called The Rocks, had lunch and made way to the airport. Trouble again, the flight was late leaving Sydney and late arriving in Dallas. After a 15 hour flight, you guessed it, we missed our connecting flight and American Air booked us on the next flight out. We made it to St Louis 2 hours later than our original flight but our bags did not. But American delivered them the next Day. In summary, the cruise was excellent, the flights were not. We would love to spend more time in New Zealand, an extremely beautiful country, and the people were very friendly. At every port there were volunteers that dressed up, sang, a Scottish band, vintage cars, and so on to entertain us as we sailed away. A great country. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
15 day Christmas and New Year cruise on the Noordam it sounded wonderful we had sailed with Holland American befor but it was our first time on the Noordam We Decided to pay the extra and book a Signature suite but was upgraded to a ... Read More
15 day Christmas and New Year cruise on the Noordam it sounded wonderful we had sailed with Holland American befor but it was our first time on the Noordam We Decided to pay the extra and book a Signature suite but was upgraded to a Neptune Suite we were very excited with this came prioritie boarding it was so good we got on the ship so fast.The first impression of our suite was fantastic,large room extra large wrap around balcony we were at the back of the ship good location .Our problems started from the first day . We had a good size bathroom .I noticed a great deal of mold between the tiles in the shower and on the floor I called our room Stewart and asked him to clean it before we would use it he did twice then a maintenance person came to inspect it and we were informed it wasn't mold but the bathroom needed grouting this person came to do the job and he stated it didn't need grouting it was dirt and he reported it again again they tried to clean it this all happened befor we left port not a good start and it's not what you would expect to happen in any cabin category.Then we tried to use the toilet on the first day but found problems with flushing they came and fix it we hope our toilet broke down every day for the first ten days out of a 15 day cruise we often had to find a public toilet to use we weren't happy this issue causes us a great deal of stress.Our bed doona was dirty,stained and it smelled I had to request all the linen to be changed at once .Then on top of all this I sent a new skirt to the cleaners and it came back with a big cut and no explanation. On board the staff are limited to what they can do to help if something goes wrong once I returned to Sydney I have sent several emails to Holland American head office but have had no reply or acknowledgement of my email it would seem they don't want to know You once your cruise has finished .Now about the ship good size very friendly staff food is basic ,room service is good but the menu is the same daily, not much to do on see days that doesn't involve money,excursions are expensive if you book on the ship We booked all our excursions On sure for a fraction of the price you can also do deals with taxi drivers to take you around we did and had a wonderful time and if you can get extra people to go with you you can split the cost. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
I am not a complainer and prefer positive feedback. This is a little of both. I can only compare to P. & O. Stateroom, food, staff exceptional. I did not find as much fun as P. & O. lines. The Gala nights were almost not, ... Read More
I am not a complainer and prefer positive feedback. This is a little of both. I can only compare to P. & O. Stateroom, food, staff exceptional. I did not find as much fun as P. & O. lines. The Gala nights were almost not, sure we dressed up but nothing special went on. I missed the buzz of theme nights. Activities were mostly, to me and my two daughters, boring. I mean who goes on a holiday to have lessons in cooking, computer and digital camera. The art was exceptional, the Spa was great albiet very overpriced. Shops were better than P. & O. and the bars were great altho the cocktails I love just did not taste the same as P. & O. We loved our rooms next door to each other and balconies which were opened so we enjoyed going in and out of each others rooms without having to knock. When I was sick it was great my daughters could check on me without me getting out of bed. The Restaurants were wonderful and staff everywhere as I said were exceptional,. Entertainment was mediocre but enjoyable. Summery: Theme nights more fun, activities which are fun rather than chores. Would I go on a Dam again. Not sure, but as an avid cruiser it is possible. I did win a "cruise" but was told that it is not actually a cruise you get whereas when I won one on Aria, myself and friend have a balcony suite for two and ten day cruise, so with P. & O. I did win a full cruise, have not rung yet but will be interested to see exactly what I won with Noordam. Excursions - unfortunately I am physically unable to get into a tender so could only do two shore excursions which I enjoyed immensely. I took a photography package and photographer was wonderful, we have everlasting memories. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We are an early 40's married couple who travel permanently and have taken about 10 cruises in the last 18 months. We have sailed HAL, Celebrity, NCL, P/O Australia and Regent. Our previous experience on HAL has only been on the ... Read More
We are an early 40's married couple who travel permanently and have taken about 10 cruises in the last 18 months. We have sailed HAL, Celebrity, NCL, P/O Australia and Regent. Our previous experience on HAL has only been on the Koningsdam. We chose this cruise to celebrate Xmas and NYE after loving a similar cruise last year and to see some of the south pacific we have not visited before. We had amazing weather on this cruise and very smooth seas which helped make it a great cruise. As with our other HAL cruise the average age of fellow passengers was quite high and the overall vibe of the ship more conservative than what we have found on Celebrity and NCL. We embarked in Sydney (where we are originally from) at the White Bay terminal. Embarkation was reasonably smooth bar the annoyingly condescending terminal staff who seem to suffer from self importance delusions. The Noordam is similar in size to most other ships we have been on. The layout was simple to follow. It is about 10 years old and probably needs a make over. The theme is nautical with dark colours. It was kept very clean and seemed to be maintained well. We loved the promenade deck which was a nice place to walk and a great place to relax in the shade and we had no problem finding a lounger. The explorations cafe is a nice large area with books and games. The crows nest was also a favourite and much better than on the Koningsdam. There were 2 pool areas on either side of the Lido. We had an inside cabin which we found smaller than other cabins we have had. The storage also felt less than usual. The bed was large and very comfortable. The tv was basic but we rarely used it. The shower was a bit small and we didn't like the use of a curtain. Also the layout meant that one person exiting the bathroom while the other was getting changed was completely incompatible and dangerous if a warning was not given of exiting the bathroom. Our attendant was superb. Dining: Breakfast we either used room service or the Lido. Room service was on time but the eggs were awful (powder I assume). The Lido had good options with different egg options, different bacon and plenty of smoked salmon with a reasonable selection of breads. We like that it is not self serve although it did make it slower. The layout of the tables etc was good and service was reasonable. We used the MDR for lunch on sea days and always prefer it there, food was basic but tasty. Other times we had a burger from the burger bar which are a high standard or a freshly made salad from the Lido (great healthy option). Dinner - we didn't use the specialty restaurants as did on our last cruise and found them to be inconsistent, it also annoys me that most of the other patrons are staff and officers and hence you feel like you are subsidising them. The MDR had good quality food (not bread) and in particular desserts were the best we have seen for some time. Service was generally very good although on the few occasions there was an issue they were poor at dealing with (eg a hair in one of the dishes did not receive an apology or even a change to another dish). The issue was the seating at the MDR, queues were common, reservations did not help as you still had to join the same queue. Requests to eat at other times didn't help either. The sommeliers were far too slow and often we did not get any wine until half way thru our main course and in the end I often left the MDR and got my own from nearby bars. Entertainment - we appreciate the effort the ship made for Xmas (lots of carols, decorations, xmas food, special cocktails etc) and nye (fun outdoors party). The production singers were of a high standard but some of the shows seemed very short and it would be good to see a live orchestra used more. Guest entertainers were mostly singers and generally entertaining. Jo Little was a highlight. The cruise director was friendly and knew us by name and we found him (Andy Knox) to be highly visible. He was usually at the tenders in the morning and could always be found fraternising after the shows. Erin the assistant cruise director was absolutely charming and took on a huge amount of activities and dj'ing. We enjoy activities and found this cruise to have less than normal especially in comparison to NCL or P/O. Some more dance classes would have been great. The cooking demonstrations were so tedious we didn't bother. The aboriginal art and didgeridoo classes were terrific. Service was generally of a high standard. The front desk was inconsistent in knowledge and generally rude in dealing with accounting errors (always their fault but always presumed it was ours). Bar staff was about average but generally friendly but they would at all times try and get you to order away from the bar and use a waiter. This is fine but then they would always give priority to those who refused and stayed at the bar. We bought the SBP, we think it is a good deal for us as we like to try a number of different drinks and allows us to get sparkling water regularly and plenty of specialty coffees. We also like that we can take unopened drinks back to our cabin. The wine choices were too limited. There is a 15 drink limit which is fine but there is a lot of confusion around whether this is only alcoholic drinks (all bar tenders say it is and front desk says it is not - poor policy) and there is no way of the ship keeping a record?? The itinerary was mostly beach oriented which was fine by us and we found some great snorkelling options. Noumea - xmas day so most things closed. We went to duck island using the lyvia HOHO. Very nice snorkelling. Isle of Pines - spectacular place - we snorkelled all over Kunamera Bay (not just the rock) and walked and relaxed on Kuto Beach. Private tours were available but not to the natural aquarium which was a shame. Lifou - we spent the entire day at Jinek Bay as it was a snorkelers paradise! Mystery Island - unfortunately blue bottles on the snorkelling side so just relaxed on beach. Port Villa - fought off the touts took a water taxi to town and then a bus out to the cascades. Nice place but expensive for what it is then walked to the Secret Garden which was ok. Luganville - ignored touts walked into town and finally found a fair taxi. Went to million dollar point, took canoe on riri river and blue hole and did water dance cultural visit. Champagne Bay - snorkelling and beach. Easo - only half day so went to the beach and snorkelled. HAL has price guarantee on tours but it was obvious they threatened local ports to not allow tour companies to offer private options. Disembarkation very easy. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
This was our first time cruising at sea and will not be our last. We especially liked the Holland & America style and ambiance, not a chav in sight. Our fellow cruisers seem well mannered, courteous, professional types and retirees. ... Read More
This was our first time cruising at sea and will not be our last. We especially liked the Holland & America style and ambiance, not a chav in sight. Our fellow cruisers seem well mannered, courteous, professional types and retirees. They knew how to behave well in a group ensuring they did not adversely impact on others enjoyment. A rare experience when there are so many self-indulgence idiots out there. Perhaps that is why so many were return cruisers to not only the line but, also this ship. With only 1200 fellow guest we always found a seat at the show’s, in the bar’s and on loungers by the pool. It was just not crowded or packed, plenty of space and amenities for everyone. The food in the main dinning room was superb as was the speciality restaurants but, the main restaurant was so good it was hard to justify using the other ones. Our balcony suite was large in comparison to floor plans on other lines and we found the fittings and service first class. We really liked the entertainment from the evening shows to the different singers and musicians in the various bars. The explorers lounge was also lovely and well used. I was also very impressed by the cooking shows, very professional and much better than the dross on tv. Finally, we loved the Mastddam, the captain called her an regal lady and she was. Lovely looking ship, lovely open spaces on a variety of decks and just the right size for cruising. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
We stayed 3 days in Auckland before embarking after our flight from Manila. The embarkation was easy and smooth. the ship docks in the middle of Auckland, so its easy and very cheap to reach by public transportation. Being members of ... Read More
We stayed 3 days in Auckland before embarking after our flight from Manila. The embarkation was easy and smooth. the ship docks in the middle of Auckland, so its easy and very cheap to reach by public transportation. Being members of the European Union we didn't need any Visa or ETA. in New Zealand. The friendliness of the people of New Zealand and Australia has to be mentioned specially. No arrogance or security phobia by the embarkation in Auckland OR disembarkation in Sydney as experienced in an other big English speaking country! The cleanliness on board and on land is remarkable. On board were many citizen of not English countries.We would like to have a little less US american shows and more other main languages oriented activities, even subtitled! The songs of the entertainment group of the ship were purely sung in us american..even if they are of Italian, German or French origin. . The service in the lido by the Filipino cooks and Indonesian waitresses and waiters is remarkable. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
Spent a few days in Auckland before boarding the Noordam. Embarkation takes awhile to get so many people onboard. Spent about an hour waiting in line. Once you get through the line, it is a quick process for getting your cruise card ... Read More
Spent a few days in Auckland before boarding the Noordam. Embarkation takes awhile to get so many people onboard. Spent about an hour waiting in line. Once you get through the line, it is a quick process for getting your cruise card and going through security. The ship is remarkably clean, and well maintained. Not a large ship, so it does not take long to walk from one end of the ship to the other. The crew is amazingly friendly and helpful. Incredible how so many crew can remember your name just after a few days. Really enjoyed the food and service in the Main Dining Room. Never felt rushed. Waiters were wonderful. Lido buffet for breakfast and lunch were always very crowded. Takes awhile to find a seat, but the food and service was also good. The cabin stewards kept the cabin clean and refreshed multiple times during the day. The production singers and dancers get and A for effort. Not the glitzy and highly produced productions you find on larger ships, but still fun entertainment. Comedians, vocalist, and instrumentalists filled the other nights shows, and were all very good. Piano bar entertainer was quite talented, and was fun to pop into at anytime in the evening. Great ports with beautiful scenery. A couple of tender ports that took some time waiting in line, but were handled quite efficiently. All in all a great cruise with a wonderful crew. Read Less
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