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265 Holland America Australia & New Zealand Cruise Reviews

We have just completed a 32 day cruise around Australia. On a positive note the staff were fantastic with great service with a smile and always ready to go the extra mile. The food in all restaurants was of a good standard though a ... Read More
We have just completed a 32 day cruise around Australia. On a positive note the staff were fantastic with great service with a smile and always ready to go the extra mile. The food in all restaurants was of a good standard though a little salty for our liking. Excellent choice in the Lido for lunch and great burgers and fries. The entertainment was very lacking with the production shows were well done we have seen the same shows5 times in the last 12 months on HAL it is time they were updated. The movies on the tV were old movies and repeated over and over with a news channels being the only alternative. Most of the activities were aimed at sales with jewellery talks,art auctions,spa seminars,wine tasting and foot analysis. What has happened to deck games,craft lessons,on deck parties and bbqs,we are there to be entertained and it seems everything has been cost cut with lots of activities have been stopped.! The cruise director was never visible except at one trivia and opening the shows, there was definite lack of things to do. We were in the tropical weather for 32 days but nothing organised out on the decks day or party’s at night such a shame. We had a vista suite 201at the aft of the ship which was a good spot except they were doing maintenance on the whole cruise so impossible to use the balcony with paint and varnish fumes and orange paint flakes blowing in on us from the promenade below where they were redoing the lifeboats. Not great considering how much extra we had paid above the ocean view cabin. The ship public areas are quite nice but the suites are very tired with old chipped baths no sun filter curtains replaced since they were taken down so it’s either open or closed curtains when the sun is hot. If it wasn’t for the fantastic staff and the size of the ship the cruise wasn’t a complete disaster. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
We chose this cruise principally for the itinerary, that of visiting all those “paradisicle” islands. We were not disappointed. Moorea, in Tahiti, was our favourite. It was a place of beautiful geography and given higher medical ... Read More
We chose this cruise principally for the itinerary, that of visiting all those “paradisicle” islands. We were not disappointed. Moorea, in Tahiti, was our favourite. It was a place of beautiful geography and given higher medical standards (we're getting older), we'd look into spending a couple of months a year as residents. While most destinations offered a splendid experience, a couple could have remained off the list. Though it is easy to nitpick about things and complain, generally, we found Holland America Lines, HAL, provided its usual reliable service, that of a clean cabin, great breakfasts and lunches and decent on board diversions. The island of Dravuni, was an especially wonderful place who's 200 inhabitants put on a lovely show. It was free but most who viewed it made a cash contribution; a surprise given that Kiwis and Aussies are prone to avoid doing such things. Also, outr last stop, Wiatangi, was a great spot. Pity our visit was so short. Most who went ashore were slow to return and all we spoke with agreed that we could have spent much more time there. Their market offered more than the usual platitudes and souvineirs. The only fly in the ointment for us was HAL's handling of tenders for folks not taking HAL's shore excursions. Because of this method, we missed our excursion despite being abundantly early to obtain tender tickets (we were in the waiting area at 07:20 for a 08:30 departure only to be dropped off at 09:10). Fortunately the operator had a PM tour with 2 remaining spots. We were made to feel like second class guests by HAL's tendering policy as it concerned ”private tours”. This must change. Some have found the ship's singers and dancers repeated the shows. Perhaps this was so for those folks who cruise more than us but, not having seen them previously, we found the shows very entertaining and thought the troup as the best we've seen and heard on the three cruise lines we've beeen on (HAL, Princess and Celebrity). May HAL keep these truly midsized ships. Not crowded and elbow room for all, at 1200 guests, it was perfect. These things are very appealing to persons of our age group, 60 and up as there were no drunks or party animals. May we suggest the reintroduction of on board ship games and Lido BBQs. Tahiti would have been a good time for it the Lido bash. This festive occasion, unlike on other HAL voyages, was not offered. We'd certainly recommend this cruise to family and friends. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
The service was excellent, which is more than we can say for the accommodation in a Neptune Suite. HAL want to know what passengers think and appreciate feedback. Well by the time we arrived home the email feedback was out of date! ... Read More
The service was excellent, which is more than we can say for the accommodation in a Neptune Suite. HAL want to know what passengers think and appreciate feedback. Well by the time we arrived home the email feedback was out of date! They obviously think as soon as passengers disembark we all rush home! So we are writing to Seattle giving our feedback. The basin had a hair line fracture, the floor tiles were chipped, the towels were rough most of the 63 days we were on board, the bath had peeling paint. When we complained the maintenance man came and put a sealer on the peeling paintwork! Some of the sheets were torn. This for a Neptune Suite. The noise from above on the sports decks was 63 days of torture. There was a need for relaxation due to surgery and the expense of a Neptune suite we thought we would get relaxation. Sadly the dragging of furniture above us and either side of us stopped that. I have to say the crew were exceptional, from the Cabin stewards to the Chef and everyone in between. This ship needs serious work done to it not just a cosmetic job. The bathrooms need ripping out and replacing and the verandah decks on 10 need insulation asap. Would we return to the Maasdam? probably not. In future when we consider a cruise we will not accept the Travel Agents word for the cabin but check the plan of the ship and the layout of the deck above first. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Noordam 82318 tons 918 cabins Last Drydock 2018 9/28/2017 Room 6090 The Good Our room was in a great location! Only a few rooms aft of the midship elevator. We had two panoramic midship elevators on either side, ... Read More
Noordam 82318 tons 918 cabins Last Drydock 2018 9/28/2017 Room 6090 The Good Our room was in a great location! Only a few rooms aft of the midship elevator. We had two panoramic midship elevators on either side, and also some central midship elevators. We had the pilot boat arrive right under us. We also got to see the Sydney Opera House from our balcony as we arrived into Sydney. On the other hand, we had a crane sitting right outside our window in one of the Fiji stops. Signature Suites come with some nice square footage (280 square feet of room and 100 square feet of balcony). If we’re going to be on a long cruise, we want some elbow room! They’re wide enough that one of us didn’t have to back up if we met at the foot of the bed on the way to the bathroom. For those with mobility problems, this is key. We had a tub/shower with a separate shower and two sinks. The bathroom was also wide enough that one could move past someone standing at the close sink to the other sink. We had a European and American outlet at the desk, and also the vanity. Since we have an international adapter sets for Kindle and iPad, we were able to utilize all the plugs. Great cabin steward! On embarkation day, we give them a written list of preferences to break the ice with them. We about two weeks in, we put him in our top five of a lot of cruises, and later in the cruise we moved him to the top three. We never returned to a dirty room in 38-days. We did leave the “Make Up Room” lock holder when we left for Breakfast and Dinner. Dining - MDR. Another excellent experience. We give the waiter, assistant waiter and boss with a list of preferences to make it easier for them. We had the same team for the entire 38-day voyage. We ate in the MDR. I don’t think we missed an evening. Our assistant waiter served us coffee with HEATED cups! Our waiter managed my allergy seamlessly. He would bring the next day’s menu with the dessert and say “take your time.” Lectures - The lectures San Francisco to Sydney were fabulous. The container lecture was the most interesting lecture of the batch for me. Especially when we got to the Pacific Islands, and saw all container ports. We wished they’d been able to continue the lectures after Sydney. Pinnacle Grill - Lunch - Really great service! We had the same waiter the five or six times we visited. I loved the chocolate dessert with caramel popcorn! Ocean Bar - Great Waitress! Again, one of the top waitresses we’ve had! We met each sea day at the Crow’s Nest for Knitting, Crochet, and Stitching. Our group numbered over 20, and we had a great time sharing stories, suggestions for upcoming ports. (One member planned to do all the Lord of the Rings Shore Excursions.) After Sydney, one of the bartenders visited daily for drink orders. All cargo ports in the Pacific Islands and New Zealand, so no Wifi. All Kiwi (New Zealand citizens) needed a permit to enter their ports. Security entered the bus and checked all ship cards and identification cards. Before we could leave the ship, they played a recording of forbidden items in New Zealand: no food, honey, wood, of any kind, etc. Only commercial bottled water. Once or twice the cruise director told us only unopened bottled water. In Napier they had a band playing in port when we returned from our EXC tour. Bus drivers must take a driving test every year, and we were happy to learn that they must exit the bus and stand next to the door to help tourists if needed. EXC Tours - Each Guide was very knowledgeable and made our tours memorable. . Clean Windows on the Buses. Nice grab bars to help climb those really tall steps to onto the bus. Good lectures by the guides. Great buses with nice long seatbelts in Sydney and Melbourne. Mentioned the super high bus steps (Tasmania’s bus step came up to a couple inches below my knee), to the EXC staff must have mentioned this to the tour groups, because the bus drivers started providing step stools. Also, noticed the bus drivers started driving the buses right up to the gangplank in New Zealand. Fabulous guide in Hobart Wildlife and Waterways. This lady is finishing her PhD in Tanmania History. Best tour guide of the trip! Napier - Sheep Sheering & Scones Mountain Ride! Great guide and great bus. This bus had comfortable seats, a screen at the front showing a live view of the road ahead. With strict food rules in New Zealand, it’s a good idea to book an excursion with a snack or meal included. This guide trained the others to drive up the mountain road. “Ice Cream Sample” was much larger than expected, I think those 4 ounce single servings at our grocery store were smaller! It would have been much better to stagger the two busloads. At the sheep sheering and afternoon tea, since both were at the same location, have one bus doing the tea while the other did the inside part of the sheep sheering, then switch. Very crowded store at the sheep shearing stop. Wellington - Guide’s coffee recommendation was SO true. Very strong coffee but not bitter. We’re so glad he suggested it, but it’s taking a long time to get used to American Coffee. Wellington has some very interesting rules for bus drivers. He pulled down a narrow street, and the cars had to make room for him by either backing up or going over curbs. The Needs Improvement One of the elevators was down for four straight days. Cruise Director did not schedule our Knitting, Crochet and Stitching group in the daily program, but it may not have been his fault. We heard this decision came from corporate. He seemed glad we found each other. At the collector’s cruise lecture, he read word for word from the handout. At the end of the presentation, he declined to answer a question about a possible conflict with a EXC tour and muster drill, and walked back stage. EXC Tours I had sent an email to headquarters about my disappointment with the way they organize the shore excursions, but so far no answer. The tours need to be staggered so only one bus load at a time at each stop. Some of the tours were to crowded, I didn’t want to shop the local stores. With a few exceptions, too rushed, not enough time at each stop, too crowded. Each bus seemed to have something wrong: A/C blowing very warm air, middle bus door didn’t open, etc. When we have a 15-minute stop, and it takes five minutes to load and unload the bus, there’s not much time left for viewing the sights. Cancellation policy now 48 hours. EXC employee worked at the desk and in the Vista Lounge with some type of upper respiratory infection. She tried to announce shore excursions on port days while she had no voice. A few days later, we both came down with upper respiratory infections too. Some EXC tours had meeting times at 11 am, but the Lido opened at 11:30 am. Also, no food stalls just off the ship in port. With strict food rules in New Zealand, I wish they’d have at least a snack on all tours offered. Tauranga - Yes, it goes in the “bad” section. We’re not planning on booking any more EXC tours in Tauranga. Our bus had very uncomfortable seats, no head rests, no seatbelts. Front seats foot area was so narrow, a man next to us couldn’t put his foot all the way down. It had a ramp down the center aisle to a step, and I saw several people fall. Also, the bus had backward facing seats. The tour guide sat in an open seat for a few minutes, then stood back up and spent the rest of the four hour tour standing at the front of the bus. We almost quit the tour at the first stop and took a taxi back to the ship. Did you make the sale? Yes, we got a couple more Future Cruise Deposits Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
After sailing on Holland America Line (HAL), four times and the last on the Noordam in February 2017, we have come to the conclusion that HAL treats some places better than the south Pacific. 1. Ships meals have been reduced in quality ... Read More
After sailing on Holland America Line (HAL), four times and the last on the Noordam in February 2017, we have come to the conclusion that HAL treats some places better than the south Pacific. 1. Ships meals have been reduced in quality and service as 4 meals had to be sent back, due to; 1 being cold, 2 overcooked and dry, 3 a steak that was tough and suspect quality while, 4 the fish was again overcooked and tasteless, 5 a Pasta carbonara was dry without any sauce, some sauce was supplied after I ask for it, then it was edible. 2. The hygiene control on the ship was/is lacking, as my wife was infected with the cruise cough/flu like symptoms this was the second time (again Holland America) and yet has NEVER been infected on the other cruise lines we have sailed with. We have sailed around New Zealand 4 times, twice with HAL, once with Cunard and Celebrity X, however my wife was struck down with ship flu both times on HAL, but not on the other cruise lines. Therefore, the food/ships hygiene on HAL appears to be at fault. 3. It appears that HAL uses the sailing in Southern climes of Australia/New Zealand as a training ship or just the area with disdain, knowing that Australian/New Zealanders do not complain/demand as much as some other natation’s do/can. 4. The Gratuities that are expected are also in contrast to other means of transport, such as airlines where the crew wages are similar for respective position and ranks on HAL but only draw their wages/salary. Also, it has been rumoured that the crew do not get all the monies collected, but a proportion it goes into the company revenues. 5. Defects with the ship a. 3 windows cracked, 2 on the Crow’s Nest lounge forward windows and the 3rd on the external glass wall (ship) of the aft/rear right side elevator on the 4th deck b. 2 lifeboats had damaged entrance/exit hatches (the stitching had separated from the hatchway) allowing water to enter the lifeboat, which would jeopardise the safety and integrity of both, the lifeboats were 11 and 14. They were reported 3 times to the front desk and each time I was given incorrect/differing answers, they were finally repaired. Photos are available. c. In the Lido dining area, a glass tea bag caddie was cracked with glass splinters missing, it was reported and it was changed to another position, again it was reported and it was finally removed to??? d. The cup/mugs for tea/coffee in the Lido were not washed properly (suspect the dishwasher) with foreign bodies/food being left in/on the mugs. e. Our cabin bathroom was in disrepair as the floor tiles were adrift/lifting and the shower wall tiling grout was missing, with several areas having dark mildew type stains. As we were dissatisfied with the overall Hotel and engineering (safety equipment) we spoke to many other passengers and they were of the same opinion that Holland America have lowered their standards and treat the south pacific cruises as training. Also, you can see by the above list, this cruise with Holland America Line was not as comfortable or as pleasant as the other cruise lines we have sailed with, (some 10 in all) then being told that we must pay the gratuities, gives an idea of what they think of the south pacific, so much so that I doubt it very much that we will sail with Holland America Line again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Don't get me wrong; this is a beautiful and well-maintained mid-sized ship, inside and out. It is well mannered in rough seas, the cabins are adequate but the verandas are small. Food is terrible if you are a healthy eater; fatty, ... Read More
Don't get me wrong; this is a beautiful and well-maintained mid-sized ship, inside and out. It is well mannered in rough seas, the cabins are adequate but the verandas are small. Food is terrible if you are a healthy eater; fatty, sweet, salty; few green vegetables and almost no nuts, terrible tea. The biggest group of passengers (in more ways that one) were from the USA and they were fairly old; there is nothing on this ship that would appeal to families. The ship has a troupe of dancers who are probably competent in what they do and appeal to the age/cultural demographic of the majority of passengers. We enjoyed the visiting artists who came on between ports much more (they were all Australians). There are a couple of excellent bands. Apart from the usual seminars flogging stuff (gems, Windows 10, botox etc), there were no lectures of general interest. Our cruise was only spoilt by a bunch of ship's officers using foul language in the Pinnacle Grill on the last night of our cruise. That was bad enough, but no-one would give us their names, and we were fobbed off at the Front desk with a suggestion slip when we asked for a complaint form. We got off the ship disgusted and angry. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We booked this cruise to celebate my retirement and to visit ports we had missed on a previous driving holiday of NZ. We booked an inside cabin on an upper deck as we have found it difficult to sleep in lower deck, outside and veranda ... Read More
We booked this cruise to celebate my retirement and to visit ports we had missed on a previous driving holiday of NZ. We booked an inside cabin on an upper deck as we have found it difficult to sleep in lower deck, outside and veranda cabins on past HAL cruises. As trivia tragics we had connected with like-minded cruisers on the Cruise Critic Roll Call to form a team and they were a perfect match, contributing to our many victories and making the cruise fun. We collected many prizes including 4 bottles of champagne which we shared at dinner. We also connected with members of the Cruise Critic Roll Call to organise private tours as we found the HAL tours rather expensive. Unfortunately I became ill with the flu (contracted before we embarked) which developed into bronchitis. I made an appointment with the ship's doctor, who prescribed fluvax, antibiotics and decongestants. The bill was US$400! We found the Lido restaurant crowded and noisy and the food was not generally to our liking with a couple of exceptions. We have no idea why it is called the Lido Market as it was no different to the Lido restaurant on the Volendam. The chairs were in need of refurbishment. We had breakfast in the Vista Restaurant a few times, the food was excellent but it usually took too long to arrive. This meant that a couple of times we had to leave before we were finished to get to a tour or activity. We had dinner in the Vista Restaurant most of the time and the food and service was generally good although some servings were rather small and the soups were very salty. We enjoyed the menus for the Gala Nights. We had dinner in The Pinnacle Grill a couple of times, once for Le Cirque. While the food and service was excellent, we found Le Cirque rather underwhelming as there was no special ambience, the only difference to the normal Pinnacle experience was different china and a different menu. We missed the chocaholics spread that we had enjoyed on Volendam. The activities were many and varied. Our favourites were the daily trivia quizzes run by the excellent Cruise Director and his assistant, and the BB King Blues Club. The band was excellent and added new numbers each day to keep their shows varied. Although we are in our late 60's we enjoy dancing to the hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s and were disappointed that there wasn't a DJ to get things moving in the Northern Lights Lounge which is set up as a disco. The Assistant Cruise Director played records for a short time, but there was no commentary and no atmosphere. We enjoyed the coffees in the Explorations Cafe. We missed the presence of a librarian and of the library trivia quizzes and NY Times crosswords that we had enjoyed on the Volendam. It seems that the cruise line's owners are cutting down on staff and services to the detriment of passengers. Although the weather was not good in NZ we were happy that no ports were missed and enjoyed our time ashore. We were particularly pleased that the ship sailed into Milford Sound despite rough seas and heavy rain. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This cruise was for the New Zealand Destinations... with a lot of great port stops along the way. Noordam is our fifth HA ship, and much the same facilities as the others. It seemed that the temperature control was much better than some ... Read More
This cruise was for the New Zealand Destinations... with a lot of great port stops along the way. Noordam is our fifth HA ship, and much the same facilities as the others. It seemed that the temperature control was much better than some of the other HA ships we have been on, so we were not freezing in some venues this trip. We opted for a cabin with the steel balcony near the bow, and it proved to be great... only minor problems with some exterior panels rattling in the wind, which were quickly attended to by the staff. We enjoyed the trivia, Windows 10 courses, daily devotions, Piano bar, and all of the special sessions keyed to the locations on route, like learning the "Haaka" before arriving in New Zealand. The evening entertainment was mostly good, with a couple of weaker evenings with entertainers that were not of our tastes. The HAL players were good, but of course started to repeat as we did a double length cruise. The service was good on open dining, except some tables near the back farthest from the kitchen seemed to take much longer between courses. The choices in the Lido buffet were good and never more than a few in the lineups in front of us. Had to ask for lactose free sorbet, but it was available on request, just not on the signs. We did all independent touring supported by the cruise critic forum, and made many friends through the meet and greets and activities organized on the forum. We really enjoyed the Noordam, and are planning to book another HA cruise in the future. .. and 43 days was about the right length, and 5 sea days at a time is not too many!. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We wanted to go to the Antipodes, and this schedule fit ours. We'd cruised on the Zuiderdam in 2016 and enjoyed it. Noordam is Zuiderdam's sister ship, with the identical layout, except for non-structural spaces like the ... Read More
We wanted to go to the Antipodes, and this schedule fit ours. We'd cruised on the Zuiderdam in 2016 and enjoyed it. Noordam is Zuiderdam's sister ship, with the identical layout, except for non-structural spaces like the library. We like that it carries 1928 passengers - bigger than that would be too big for us, and we can't afford smaller. We splurged on a Signature suite, which was twice the size of our earlier Verandah suite. Full-sized sofa, double sinks in the bathroom, etc. Very roomy for us and comfortable. And the verandah was twice the size because we were on Deck 6 instead of 5, without the lifeboats in front of us. Twice in the week before we left, we got a phone call from HAL offering us progressively cheaper upgrades to a Neptune suite, but it was still too expensive. We loved our Signature cabin and didn't need more room. We also got a pretty good deal on it - a splurge for us, but worth it. As before, we found the staff to be exemplary. Friendly, efficient, eager to please. We expressed an interest in them, which may be why they were so good to us. Our cabin stewards were outstanding, and the bar and restaurant staff matched them. As before, we tipped them when we left, in the form of all our currency that we could no longer use. (Yes, we know that tips are built into our fare, but a little extra never hurts, and these guys were ALWAYS working.) The food was good. We had some breakfasts and lunches in the Lido buffet and enjoyed the large selection. The lack of trays was inconvenient at worst, but we learned that the line is saving about $3 million a year because of less wasted food, so we're all for it - there's no excuse for wasting food, in my book. Having to carry a plate or two at a time forces you to think about whether you REALLY want that dessert. We enjoyed two celebratory meals in the Pinnacle and enjoyed them a lot. Excellent food and service. The rest of our meals were in the Main Dining Room. We opted, as before, not to commit to a specific dining time, but we never had to wait more than five minutes to be seated, and we enjoyed being seated with different people every time. The servers knew us after a few meals which is quite a feat of memory. We had coffee delivered to our room at 6:30 every morning, a real luxury. Entertainment isn't an issue for us. We LOVE the BB King band and went to hear them every night - superlative entertainers. The "seminars" are all thinly disguised attempts to sell something, so we don't bother. We rarely enjoy the main lounge evening shows, so stayed away. The library is fairly well stocked with a variety of books, although on the Noordam it's in two rooms on Deck 3 or 4, while on the Zuiderdam it's in one space next to the Crow's Nest - more convenient by far. We read, walked the deck, enjoyed chatting with people, and generally enjoyed our time on board. Didn't use the pool. I enjoyed the spa services, especially when they ran a special, but don't like the constant attempt to sell product at the end of each service. Unfortunately, the staff gets paid by how much stuff they sell rather than salary, which is unpleasant and unfair. Ship tours tend to be more expensive than those offered by independent tour operators, so we mostly set up our own. But the few that we did were quite good. The bars are all pleasant but Happy Hour happens in just a small handful of them, not all. And you can get a twofer, but they are both the same drink and have to be ordered at the same time, so the second one is sometimes warmish by the time you get to it. You can't share. We are in our 70s but noticed how old most of the passengers were! We're really just 35 inside, but have never seen so many walkers and canes in one place before. Wifi can be an issue, but we decided against buying the package and enjoying a vacation from connectedness. You can use the computers in the Crow's Nest, either with the prepaid package or by minute-by-minute charge. But it's terribly slow, so you sit there watching it try to connect while your paid-for minutes drain into the ocean. Fancier cabins get complementary Wifi, but I found that I did't miss it that much. What used to be called "Formal nights" are now "Gala nights." You're expected to dress up for the MDR and Pinnacle, but if you don't want to, you can always dine at the Lido buffet. We dressed nicely but not formally - shirt and tie, long "harem" pants and sparkly top. Part of our definition of "vacation" is not having to worry about dressing up, so we're not interested in tuxedos and evening gowns. Everyone looked appropriately festive. Overall, we've enjoyed our cruises with HAL. We may try another cruise line just to compare, but as sedate as they tend to be, HAL suite us fine. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. We wanted to visit Tasmania and Melbourne, and this cruise went to both. In retrospect, an overnight in melbourne would have been good, Pros- The food in the Main Dining Room was wonderful. The ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. We wanted to visit Tasmania and Melbourne, and this cruise went to both. In retrospect, an overnight in melbourne would have been good, Pros- The food in the Main Dining Room was wonderful. The $99 package for unlimited laundry was great - we could have traveled with one small suitcase. The staff was friendly and accommodating. Our cabin was super confortable. Cons - Embarkation was a mess. Standing in the rain, waiting to get our luggage accepted, and then an hour long wait inside the terminal to be checked in was really unacceptable. No organization at all. Disembarcation was better,but just barely. They forgot to send down one of the bins with some of our luggage, Internet was non-existent for most purposes. There is little to do aboard the ship on At Sea days. I like Trivia, but not 3 tines a day Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This 14 day cruise with 4 days pre-cruise and 3 days post cruise was amazing. We were a little inimidated with the long, long flight(20 hrs) but we survived and everything went well with connections etc. The ship, the entertainment, ... Read More
This 14 day cruise with 4 days pre-cruise and 3 days post cruise was amazing. We were a little inimidated with the long, long flight(20 hrs) but we survived and everything went well with connections etc. The ship, the entertainment, crew, cabin, food, service excellent. Embarkation and Disembarkation very smooth. This is the longest cruise we've done, previously did 12 days and 3 days at sea was just the right amount of time to relax as we were quite busy touring the 9 ports. We previously did 7 cruises,not all on the same cruise line, as we tend to choose the itinerary that suits us and not the cruise line. So far we have been very happy with every one. Through experience, we have found that tours taken off ship(from the port) are more affordable. As we travel with friends, it's easy for 4 people to share a cab or hire a tour guide. The only complaint I would have is the internet on the ship. I find it very expensive and very sporadic. I also liked being able to purchase wine for our cabin when in port visiting wineries, and not being charged corkage. Also, we were never pressured into purchasing drinks while sitting by the pool or in any of the lounges. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This was very misrepresented in the website and available information from the cruise line. It was only "back to back cruises" not a separate all in one cruise. entertainment and activities were mostly repeated the second two ... Read More
This was very misrepresented in the website and available information from the cruise line. It was only "back to back cruises" not a separate all in one cruise. entertainment and activities were mostly repeated the second two weeks (which were slim pickings even the first two weeks). Everyone had to disembark in Sydney and could not get back on the boat until time for new passengers to board. Would have been good to understand all of this before deciding to book this cruise. Destination was unbelievable! Did almost all private prearranged tours and really saw New Zealand. 10 days of port calls there! First time on Holland America. Best a embarkment, allowed on early and went straight to rooms! Excellent disembarkment also. Very nice staff. Staterooms have a lot of storage space. Beds and linen amazingly comfortable. Free room service wonderful, but could have had increased selection of items. Buffet eating with staff serving made utilizing this area much nicer and safer (decreased germs from passengers!), so much more comfortable utilizing this option than on many other cruise lines. Loved Explorers' Lounge area, except puzzles and may items were old and missing pieces. All need to be thrown out and new ones bought. Excellent Microsoft classes and teacher! Added more new computers after trip completed, but not enough and not enough space for these popular classes. Culinary Center was beautiful, but most times was empty and not well utilized. Salad bar and pasta bar were excellent, but terrible pizza and premade Italian dishes. Many of foods in buffet area were not warm when served. Salmon was always great, as well as shrimp. Ship is old and staterooms not completely updated and our balcony had several large rusty holes in it that were not even covered with rugs to protect us (we had to ask for this). Pictures very old and not worth looking in stateroom area and halls. Entertainment was very poor. I love entertainment on cruises and not much by cruises' performance staff and only one act that was great one night. Only showed movies in theater during port days while docked! Stateroom TV's and system were antique and very poor reception on top of that. Menu was also antique and slowly scrolled three hr span, but you had to watch time spans already completed and next day before getting to your time, then info screen then start all over and you were so bored you blinked and missed the time you were looking for! This was really disappointing. Activity choices were slim pickings! Except for the occasional item in the Culinary Arts Center, local related program and Microsoft classes there was nothing much going on activity wise on the ship! Most of my time spent walking on the outside walking deck (did help me eat too much and keep the same weight though!). Vegetarian menu was nice to order from. Should have had menus more easily available, as well as ordering options improved for days did not eat the night before in the dinning room. Also, "Dive in" eating area by pool should have other vegetarian choice such as regular vegetable burger, not just mushroom burger and grilled cheese would be nice. Signature Suites were very misrepresented online. Often read about "Suites" and thought this referred to all suites, but only was for non-Signature suites. Extra space and separate tub & shower were great. No concierge ,no pillow menu or choices and not much else. Food and choices were very nice the first few days, but declined as cruise continued. Much smaller portions and presented as two course meals, though you can order a three course meal or whatever you want. Quantity was good for me, but many who have more of appetites or binge on cruises will be surprised compared to other cruise lines. Not many standard choice that are available every day. Thank goodness the salmon was good and I could eat it. One of the few entrees available most days, but on gala nights/ special occasion nights, the menu was had even less choices and the daily items were not available. Invited to many special occasion lunches/ meals but expected to eat provided meal, even if on a special diet. No one cared to even try to eat dietary needs these days. Many days after the first week, I was tired of the vegetarian choices and had nothing I could eat on the regular menu and they did not care enough to fix something for me as always do on other cruise lines. Desert choices were slim, especially on gala nights (which is good for the waistline, but not what I expect on a cruise. Only once got a real piece of regular cheesecake which is so unusual and most of their ice cream is not worth the calories to me with most days having only vanilla, chocolate and strawberry plus sometimes one other choice. ( which is very unusual from what I am used to when sailing!). Not many vegetables served and in the dining room it was only like a garnishment (except potatoes & rice were always available). Never had so many of the staff being fairly close to the start of their contract. Tried to be helpful, but not aware of many things when asked. Always nice, but just did not display that "at your service/ cruise ship" attitude I am used to.. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We’d like to provide our thoughts on our 27 day South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand cruise-which is our 16th cruise and our 5th on Holland America. The itinerary was perfect-great port stops-and the food was exceptionally ... Read More
We’d like to provide our thoughts on our 27 day South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand cruise-which is our 16th cruise and our 5th on Holland America. The itinerary was perfect-great port stops-and the food was exceptionally good-perhaps the best we have had on any cruise line. We enjoyed the Lido buffet, the main dining room and both the Canalleto and Pinnacle dining rooms as well as the beautiful and plentiful foods in the Neptune Lounge. The staff service was also among the best we have encountered. Our cabin stewards were great and the two Neptune Lounge concierge attendants were also competent, helpful, and cheerful. We also like the fact that the Casino is now smoke free-a particular issue with us on past cruises. Our disappointment with the overall cruise and our reluctance to book another HAL cruise centers on the on board entertainment, or lack of it, as well as the marketing direction that Jan, our Cruise Director, indicated HAL is taking. In several discussions with Jan, he advised us to find another cruise line more suited to our taste since HAL is committed to eliminating social/ballroom dance venues in the Crow’s Nest and Ocean Bar and replacing them with carpeted areas with kiosks for researching shore excursions and providing more videos. He indicated that there will be more BBC videos shown (the same ones I can get on my cable television at home) and these will provide a significant portion of HAL’s entertainment offerings. We were also disappointed to learn that HAL has eliminated the dedicated dance combo we enjoyed on past HAL cruises. The result of this on our cruise meant that the orchestra was providing dance music (excellent by the way) but only on nights that they were not performing in the VISTA Lounge. This left many nights without pre and post dinner musical entertainment including a GALA night that had no entertainment because both the orchestra and Adagio were doing live music as a BBC video was being played. The ship was like a funeral parlor-hardly gala and many people commented on how dull and boring. It is interesting to note that the dance lessons provided by the ship’s dancers were well attended-usually 80+ per class and while elementary in nature, they indicated a sincere interest in dancing by many people. Yet we are told that HAL is eliminating these and the dance venues as well. There were huge gaps in many evening’s entertainment with nothing going on except for the ship’s dancers and singers which by the way repeated the same dull performances during the 2nd leg of a “Collector’s Voyage”- a title that still baffles me. Our Cruise Director said he would try to fill in some of these but the only option he had was to schedule more Adagio performances. While we enjoyed these excellent classical musicians, there is a limit to how many of these concerts you can enjoy. Jan indicated that HAL’s marketing direction is committed to providing top quality entertainment on board yet we saw little instance of this. Many of the performers were merely 2nd rate and some were downright bad. Better screening and more selective decision making is needed. Why doesn’t HAL consider eliminating the ship’s dancers and singers altogether and replace them with top drawer entertainers? I must mention that the sound level in BB King was totally above acceptable DB limits and painful to ourselves and many of the guests on board. I have administered hearing loss programs in industry and know prolonged exposure to levels above 85 DB result in permanent hearing loss. If I were a staff member assigned to that venue night after night, I would be filing for Worker’s Compensation due to hearing loss. Jan indicated he told Seattle that many guests had complained about the sound being too loud but Seattle’s response was that they were within the contract limits so Jan could do nothing about it. Hardly makes sense to me to have a field commander overruled by Washington bureaucrats but that happens also. To summarize our concerns, the ship’s atmosphere was just plain dull, the entertainment was mostly second rate and many times nonexistent, BB King venue too loud to enjoy for more than 30 seconds and I am not exaggerating, the Crow’s Nest was empty at night -we remember dancing with a DJ till late night on other ships and not in a dark hole like the Northern Lights that is allocated to the DJ now. It took approximately 30 days for Holland America to reply to my concerns and they offered no encouragement that any if these issues would be changed. We have cancelled a suite booked on a July trip to the Norwegian Fjords on Koningsdam and have booked with another cruise line. We d not anticipate booking with HAL in the future. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
This was our first cruise so was not sure what to expect. Had a great time. My favorite on board activity was the computer classes given by Toni. He did windows 10, Cortana, edge, photo gallery, cameras, internet security and was very ... Read More
This was our first cruise so was not sure what to expect. Had a great time. My favorite on board activity was the computer classes given by Toni. He did windows 10, Cortana, edge, photo gallery, cameras, internet security and was very informative. The food was delicious. We found ourselves eating in the lido as it was faster and had the same food but more variety. The dining room took 2 hours for a meal. Felt like the service in the vista dining room was not good. Did not clear dishes in a timely manner nor did they keep water glasses full. We did our own shore excursions as the the ship ones seemed expensive. The shore excursion desk of course=rse was promoting the ship's excursion but I felt like they tended to make you think you could not find anything just winging it off the ship. Ex: on one of the small islands was told their was not much in the way of tours or independent drives. When got there, there were plenty. This happened more than once. Boarding and leaving was very efficient. Did have a problem with the port in Sydney that was not the main port. We docked and to get anywhere to start sightseeing, it cost $16 ferry ride or taxi ride. Think the ship should have provided some sort of transport to a central area. I could have done with less nice clothes as we ate mostly in the Lido. Did some shore excursions via Viator. Most were very good. Seemed like the smaller ports had more set ups to help us find tours and were more organized. Could have just waited to get a tour in those smaller ports. This itinerary is really two cruises put together and thus some of the entertainment was repeats. Even in the summer, New Zealand can be chilly. I threw in my long johns just in case and ended up wearing them a lot as we cruised the fiords and on the deck of the ship. The gym on the ship was great. Was crowded the first couple days and then thinned out. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We chose this cruise for the itinerary which was very satisfactory. Noordam looks as though she needs a sprucing up, carpeting in hallways has been replaced in some ares but not in others. Our cabin was comfortable, but there were marks ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary which was very satisfactory. Noordam looks as though she needs a sprucing up, carpeting in hallways has been replaced in some ares but not in others. Our cabin was comfortable, but there were marks on the wall paper and the carpet. The verandah door whistled, and the outside lock plate was corroded enough so that it wasn't in place. We were disappointed in the Main dining room, the food was much less satisfactory than on our previous Noodam trip which of course had a different chef. Portion sizes were inconsistent, on roast beef nights (and why have these two days in a row?) portions were enormous, but other entries were tiny, such as the scallops. It was summer on our trip, why serve parsnips, cauliflower, which are winter vegetables? A lot of the sauces were far too salty. This was advertised as a 27 day cruise, and there was not enough variety in the food for that long a period. This trip none of the entertainment appealed to us except for Adagio. Offerings of on board activities were much less interesting than we had previously had on other cruises. The worst was "How to tie a sarong" given by someone who had to borrow sarongs from the audience in order to give a presentation, it was very poor. Service from crew was excellent, but occasionally slow from the wine stewards in dining room. Ports were very interesting, we would have liked longer in Tauronga. Ship shore excursions were very expensive, the same thing could be arranged on shore for much less. We liked the Ports that had shuttle services available, especially Napier. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
This was the third HAL cruise for me and second for my wife so we knew what to expect. We were travelling with our three young children (1,4 and 6) plus my parents and 11 year old niece so spread across verandah cabins 10004, 10008 and ... Read More
This was the third HAL cruise for me and second for my wife so we knew what to expect. We were travelling with our three young children (1,4 and 6) plus my parents and 11 year old niece so spread across verandah cabins 10004, 10008 and 10010 on the Observation Deck tucked behind the Crows Nest. Embarkation was smooth however the obliging staff who allowed our baby to sleep through the ID photo was offset by the security staff who insisted she be removed from her baby carrier to go through security which resulted in screaming child. We only started cruising with HAL as they were the only line that would allow a baby under 12 months to cruise to New Zealand. Despite their reputation for focussing on senior travellers we found the staff literally fawned on our children and assisted with emergency nappies and nappy bags etc. We had ordered the bubbly package to our cabin and nibbles and these were waiting for us. Our cabins had an incredible view although the only surprise was that the balcony dividers could not be opened as on other cruises we have taken which meant we couldn't connect as planned. But this was a minor inconvenience. Overall we had a fantastic cruise. I've seen a few reviews saying that this ship is old and run-down but nothing could be further from the truth. With three young children running riot we got to see a lot of the ship and despite looking for signs of wear and tear we saw none. Dined in main dinging room several times but generally stuck to LIDO as more relaxing with the family. Dined in the Pinnacle 3 times (4 if you include the special Le Cirque evening) and the staff were only too willing to assist with time and table requests. Ronald the wine waiter was our pick of the Pinnacle staff. We did every single wine tasting offered as well as the whisky , port and champagne tastings. All were excellent although with a few only a handful turned up which was a shame as they were well worth the extra charge. Free Room Service was great and having breakfast in your room felt very indulgent. For entertainment we stuck mostly to the Piano bar. The best of the main shows were the fantastic Éver After show which was a take on fairy tales and Glenn Starr who did a Michael Buble show and a 50s and 60s song night. Highlight for us was that we paid for the Renewal of Vows package online prior to embarking as our 15th Anniversary fell whilst onboard. It was around $160 but worth every sent. Donna from the event team was exceptional and planned everything and there were personal invites for our family members. The package included a cake, nibbles, certificate presented by the captain and dinner in the Pinnacle plus photos. Great value for anyone considering it. We expected a token appearance by Captain Peter Bos but he stayed for an hour chatting to us after the ceremony. There were rose petals on the floor and a towel swan surprise in our room later. The staff in Club HAL (kids club) were great and looked after the three that could attend. Our kids were honestly looking forward to it each time and couldn't wait to go. Talking to another parent of an under 3 year old it is annoying that they can't use the swimming pool (we received a formal written warning in our room on embarkation). I can understand why for the health reasons but try explaining that to a young child who can't join their siblings in the pool). We had a bad experience in the LIDO twice but the way in which floor supervisor AR handled it was impressive. HAL advertises that Pizza and Pasta is open till midnight. So after a great night out early in the cruise we turned up at 1150 one night and 1140 the next hoping for a late snack. Everything was closed both times. The second time it happened we passed AR as we were leaving and told him. He insisted we must be wrong and ran back to check. He went white and was aghast when he realised that they were closed. We told him it was fine and we would get room service. The next day he separately tracked down myself and my wife and apologised with two glasses of complimentary wine. He explained it was due to a new staff member on their first shifts. We did the Chou Chou train in Noumea with HAL (well worth it) and a snorkelling trip in a glass bottomed boat at Port Vila. Both were around $60 each and well worth it. We loved Dravuni Island and Isle of Pines as the beaches were good. WIFI still expensive ($100 for 250mins) but I loved being able to check your account and the days program on your phone/ipad regardless of whether you had internet. However, we didn't get an account under our door like they used to which was strange. Also, for those that have heard rumours that HAL no longer does afternoon tea I can advise that the Noordam did it every day in the Ocean Bar (sometimes hard to get a table). There was however no Royal Dutch High tea. Overall HAL did not disappoint and we'll certainly cruise with them again Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We have always wanted to go to Australia/ New Zealand. It did not disappoint. The New Zealand part was very busy with many different stops, all interesting. One of my favourites was Tauranga, where we rented a car and went to Hell's ... Read More
We have always wanted to go to Australia/ New Zealand. It did not disappoint. The New Zealand part was very busy with many different stops, all interesting. One of my favourites was Tauranga, where we rented a car and went to Hell's Gate Mud and hot spring pools. I was just getting over a cold and loved the soak in the warm mud and then the hot springs. The Dunedin Awesome Tours Royal Albatross and Otago Penninsula was really fun. Seeing the baby seals and the nesting sites of the Albatross was awesome. We rode a 8 wheel drive vehicle which we enjoyed. Also the best beach was at Ile des Pinsin New Caledonia. The waiters on board were so great. They always looked so happy to see you and always welcomed you. They learned our names and likes early on and found out where we lived and what it was like in our country and told us abou their life. Sue and Diti in the Lido. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
It was the worst cruise of the prior three. The ceiling in the lido restaurant leaked, as we carried our food past trying not to get drops of unhealthy, dirty, water on our food. The Wifi was crappy and cost a lot, they charged for ... Read More
It was the worst cruise of the prior three. The ceiling in the lido restaurant leaked, as we carried our food past trying not to get drops of unhealthy, dirty, water on our food. The Wifi was crappy and cost a lot, they charged for drinking water, pop, ever to ride the exercise bike 15 dollars, yoga cost 8 dollars, the food was repetitive at dinner and very bland. There next to no good entertainment around the pool on the sea days. The ports of course were excellent. The excursions on the ship were way over priced, could get them half price and better in port. I can't believe some of the fools liked that the ship, it was so sad. We also lost our air conditioning for 3 days, could barley sleep at night. The only good thing on the ship was the night time entertainment. It's a good thing we met 2 other passengers from the states who totally agreed with us about the ship. Our friends and us will never cruise MESSDAM again..............I spelt it like that for a reason, terrible money grabbing crappy ship. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We like NZ and have been there on land, but wished to see the Sounds and ports offered. In the past HAL gave reasonable value for $ and "tried" to sort our differences. We are two 70yr olds and travel on ships geared for minimal ... Read More
We like NZ and have been there on land, but wished to see the Sounds and ports offered. In the past HAL gave reasonable value for $ and "tried" to sort our differences. We are two 70yr olds and travel on ships geared for minimal children.This trip had abysmal dining and very poor entertainment and shore assistance. We could not get palatable food and found that the feedback forms gave no option for feedback so after the first form went off on day 2, I fired off another on day 5 with our contact details and problems. [ Food in Vista was too rich and/or spicy for our tastes and stomachs. Standards of dress had dropped. Children allowed unsupervised and intrusive.Wait staff abrupt/overworked. Supervisors would not listen/understand. Gassed out of cabin twice by maintenance painters. Heart monitor on bike in gym was erratic/busted and supervisor took little interest. Shore/port assistance very poor.] In sheer frustration I fired off another feedback form on day 10. We got to be able to preorder meals with notes regarding the spices on day 12!! We got some decent food for the last 2 days!! There was never any personal feedback until one supervisor gave us a free bottle of sparkling wine on the last day - but no discussion. As usual the cabin staff were good. The cabin was tidy but getting a little tired. Would we go again on HAL/Noordam? We'd go anywhere if the price is right and itinerary interesting - but only if there was personal interaction BEFORE and during the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
This was our 3rd cruise . We have previously cruised on the Disney Fantasy in 2014 and then Royal Caribbean Legend of the seas in 2015 . As we are still quite new to cruising we are keen to explore several cruise lines but we have been ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise . We have previously cruised on the Disney Fantasy in 2014 and then Royal Caribbean Legend of the seas in 2015 . As we are still quite new to cruising we are keen to explore several cruise lines but we have been warned by fellow cruisers already that we started with one of the best cruise lines so everything by comparison is going to be difficult to measure up . The departure was from Sydney and we arrived a couple of days before so that we could explore Sydney and enjoy the lead in time before starting the cruise . The ship left from White Bay terminal which is a little out of the CBD but an easy trip via taxi . The cruise terminal is well laid out . There were plenty of staff to greet you as you turned up at the terminal so we were directed to the bag drop off.which was a breeze but we did get there quite early around 11am so that may have been a factor . The staff at the entrance to the terminal then handed the customs cards and health check forms that we needed to fill out, Once inside the terminal there is plenty of seating and there is also a cafe , we managed to grab a table and had a coffee while we filled out our cards , then it was just a matter of waiting to start the registration process and get our photos taken and ship cards issued . Once commenced the entire process was very quick and painless , the boarding procedure was handled efficiently and before you knew it ,we were on board and exploring the ship and heading up to the Lido Market for lunch . One of the main things I liked about this ship is that it feels spacious enough to easily cater for the approx 2000 passengers , you never felt really crowded . The decor of the ship is looking a little dated , I felt that it was a little over the top but then again I suppose they have to make some grand statements with design to try and get the wow factor . The layout of the ship is quite easy to navigate once you have been on board a couple of days . All of the areas appeared clean and generally in decent condition but there were some signs of repairs and maintenance needing to be done , some of the areas of the carpet were looking somewhat worn , along with the interior of the staterooms that we were in . We stayed on deck 7 , we decided on this deck after reading several reviews of the ship and weighing the likelihood of referred noise from the restaurant, theater or deck 9 where the Lido Market and swimming pool is located . When deciding on your stateroom I think you always need to look at the entire layout of the ship and consider all possibilities of where noise is generated . We were a family of 4 and we stayed across 2 different staterooms . We were unable to get connecting staterooms but we settled on 7103 and 7112 because they were far enough away from the lifts and 7112 was a couple of doors down from a utility room that could have become noisy when staff started accessing it early in the morning . The cabins overall were quite good , they were inside staterooms , this is the first time we have done inside rooms , in the past we have had verandah and sea view , having done this I would always at least have sea view because not having any natural sunlight is not something I found enjoyable . The argument is that you only sleep in your stateroom so why do you need a sea view but there is something natural with your body clock that just makes me feel better if I wake up to sunlight . The size of the rooms was a little on the small size with no real seating other than one chair with a very small table and one stool at the desk area . The wardrobe space is very good and the size of the bathroom was also very good . As with most ships the space under the bed is a great situation for storing those suit cases . The decor of the cabins is a bit ho hum and overall I think the ship is definitely due for a refit . The beds were very comfortable and the pillows also great . quality of the towels when changed was variable , some really soft and luxurious others a bit scratchy and older . The lovely waffle texture robes provided for use during your stay was a nice touch and the beach towels provided during those beach shore excursions also a nice touch. On the evening of 7th Jan I had an issue with stateroom 7112 . There was an extremely loud banging noise which started between 9.30 pm - 10 pm and this continued until 6.45 am on 8th Jan . My son and I tried to get some sleep but it was impossible . I phoned the front desk at 2 am and I was offered earplugs having been told that nothing could be done until an engineer became available which would not be until we arrived at our next port at approx 6.30 in the morning . Now wearing the ear plugs we tried again to get some sleep but to no avail , I ended up getting up and going down to the desk . I was told that we could not be relocated because there was nothing available , the only spare cabin was being used for a medical emergency . There was no engineer available to attend to the issue and I had accepted the offer of earplugs - this made me feel that it was now my fault that because I accepted the earplugs they didn't bother trying to get it fixed . It turns out that several cabins were affected by this noise and it was some problem with a heating pump for the swimming pool . The next day for our port of Dunedin was ruined because my son and I were operating on no sleep . As an apology I was left a bottle of red wine - this was supposed to make up for no sleep for the entire night and a port day ruined due to exhaustion . I took the wine back as I don't drink red wine , I was then offered 2 meals at piccalo cafe - long story short I had to battle to get a small credit put onto my account of just $54.00 which I hardly think makes up for the cabin that was not fit for purpose for 1 night . The TV in the cabin was not great , my husband had a problem with the TV in his room , there were vertical and horizontal lines that made viewing very unpleasant , we phoned to get it seen to and the technician felt that it was fine , we pressed the point and said it was not good until it was finally changed over by a somewhat surly technician . Clearly they don't like being told when something is not up to scratch. We had problems with toilets not working in both of the staterooms and when talking to other passengers , it seemed that this was a persistent problem , again possibly a maintenance issue ? On a plus note the dining experience was for the most part fantastic , the quality and variety of the food was excellent . the Lido Market on deck 9 which is essentially the buffet is really well layed out with duplication of structure both sides . The think what HAL is doing really well here is having greater control over the hygiene of the food . Rather than having an open buffet style layout where people are serving themselves everything , you go to the various stations and say what you want and you get served , for breakfast there are some serve yourself situations for things like croissants , danishes and muffins ,but if you want bagels or toast you get served by someone , if you want omelettes made you pick your ingredients and they make it for you , this means you don't get people touching things with their fingers or sneezing or coughing into a bowl of bacon or eggs . I think the system is really going to cut down on people getting sick. The vista restaurant is very nice and the menu selection quite good although I did not think much of the entrees . There is the Dive In burger and hot dog station which was fantastic , the burgers were amazing and it only takes around 15 minutes for your order to be ready . Explorations care does amazing coffees and frappe's . overall HAL gets a big tick of approval for the food . Out biggest dissapointment on this cruise was the entertainment , there just didn't seem to be enough of it . The Noordam singers and dancers were very good and the shows that they put on were very good although one of the male singers had a much weaker voice than the others but they harmonised well . The guest entertainment was a mixed bag. there were only a couple that were any good . There was a band playing in the Atrium in the late afternoons and Adagio near the explorations cafe in the evenings . BB kings was quite good but after being on board for almost 4 weeks their sets became quite repetitive . This was a real issue for me because we were sold this cruise as being a 27 night cruise but in reality it is 2 cruises back to back so all of the shows from the Noordam singers and dancers that were performed for the NZ leg were then performed again for the Pacific Islands leg . I don't think they have really made maximum use of the atrium area , it would be nice if there was musical entertainment there or near the pool from around 11am . There was a good array of books , puzzles and board games at explorations cafe but this place got very busy , I think this was evidence of a lack of entertainment as well . What was a big negative was that there no real cinema on board , they did show movies in the vista lounge on port days but really there were no current movies being shown . You had your usual fair of trivia quizzes and the dancers did dance lessons in the observation lounge on deck 10 but I get the feeling that the entertainment is operation on a lean budget . The worst effort was the Japanese ventriloquist that was booked , I have never walked out of a show but I walked out of this one , it was absolutely disgusting . Overall the service was pretty good . Our room stewards did a very good job and were friendly and helpful , the bar staff were overall pretty good but a few were a bit surly and grumpy to deal with but some were absolute stars . We felt overall there the ship was operating on lean staff numbers which could be putting those staff that are there under increasing pressure . There were times when public bathrooms had not been cleaned or they were closed due to maintenance problems . The staff at the front desk were less than fun to deal with on occassions. When trying to sort out my issue with the noise problem in my room I was met with almost a robotic response from the staff . I think there is a real problem with their training because they deal with confrontation by having a wooden , distant and non emotional response which then comes across as being arrogant and unfeeling . The ports that we visited were all great and we know NZ quite well so we were well equipped for our various stops , it was very useful to go to the talks about the various stops on the Pacific Island leg of the cruise but we never booked any excursions via the ship because the mark up is ridiculous . One of the things we did have to fork out a bit of money for was the laundry service . for the 27 nights it costs USD 196.00 for unlimited laundry . The quality of the work was wonderful and the clothes arrived back the next day beautifully folded with shirts etc on hangers , this was a great service but again very expensive . The reality is that they keep the cruise fair down to a reasonable cost but boy do you pay for everything else . We paid the USD 12.50 per person, per day gratuities fee even though we did have the option to reduce it because we did not want to penalise the staff that did work very hard even though management decisions on how things are done is damaging the overall experience for the guests . Overall we did have a good time but HAL can do better and I feel that if they want to get return customers , particularly in what is becoming an increasingly competitive market , they need to seriously look at some of the decisions they are making, there is a lot of room for improvement and one of the key areas they need to work on is that customer relationship when things do go wrong. I feel that they need to fairly compensate the guest when they are inconvenienced . I have come away feeling that although, yes I did get the benefit of everything else that the cruise had to offer , what sticks in my mind is how I was treated with the noise problem and the lack of compensation for a cabin not fit for purpose for 1 night . One final note - I think it is fitting for the captain and master of the ship to make announcements as to weather and conditions arrivals and departures along with rules and regulations and by all means remind people about hygiene and wash those hands , however I think it demeans the position for him to act like a salesman and promote going to the casino or spending those last holiday dollars at the shops . You are the captain not the marketing manager . Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We chose this cruise as it fitted in with our annual company closedown in January each year, when we must take most of our annual holiday leave. The price was great for this peak holiday time in Australia. Both the embarkation and ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it fitted in with our annual company closedown in January each year, when we must take most of our annual holiday leave. The price was great for this peak holiday time in Australia. Both the embarkation and disembarkation processes ran extremely well, no queues All food was fresh and good quality, with the dining room providing gourmet meals each night. We initially asked for extra vegetables with our meal, thereafter a separate plate of steamed vegetables was automatically provided for our table to share each night. Dining room service was excellent. The free food on the swimming pool deck was welcome, we have cruised with other lines three times & always needed to pay for food outside the dining room & cafeteria. In addition, each day a self-serve Mexican food bar was set up on that deck, enabling us to enjoy tacos & nachos - the pulled beef was yummy! WE dined in the Pinnacle Grill for lunch on two occasions. For an extra US$10 per head for three courses plus tea or expresso coffee, this was most worthwhile. The prawn bruschetta (entree) & seafood in tomato broth (main) were highlights. We were each able to take a 750ml bottle of wine aboard on embarkation, which we could drink in our cabin. To take a bottle to the main dining room incurred a corkage fee of US$18. When we visited a wine region in New Zealand, we were each permitted to take a further bottle aboard for use in the dining room, without incurring the corkage fee. A good move by Holland America. The first sitting for dining was at 5.30pm, which meant we sometimes missed dining there due to still being ashore on port days, or missed viewing the ship's departure from ports as we were in the dining room. In hindsight we would choose the later dining option. Our major gripe was with the cost on internet on board the ship, very expensive. Also quite slow according to those who did use it. Accordingly, we waited for port days to use free wifi at local libraries or cafes. However, in NZ this was not always satisfactory as it appears they are still using 3G, at times we were unable to read incoming emails & text messages, & most times could not send emails, although text messages were fine. The entertainment on board was first class, ranging from an in-house band, in-house singers & dancers, to guest comedians, musicians, & singers. There were a variety of classes especially on sea days, including a unique series of computer classes dealing with all aspects of Windows 10, & also several computer Q & A sessions .Everyone found these classes very helpful. Other activities included cooking demonstration, DIY cocktails, galley tour, fitness classes, health & beauty talks, excursion previews, just to name a few. We didn't take any ship organised excursions, mainly due to cost. As we travelled with another couple, we hired cars at two ports to travel further afield, & noticed other groups especially families, did this as well. One excursion I saw advertised privately online prior to the cruise for NZ$50 (Napier town tour 1 hr), yet the ship charged US$69 for exactly the same tour, with the same company, which was double the price (taking into account the exchange rate). This is something cruise ships need to look at closely, to encourage more use of their own shore excursions. For the cost of our cruise, we would definitely sail with Holland America again! Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We sailed on the Noordam with our two teenagers leaving Sydney on the 4th January. It was spectacular leaving from White Bay as the ship had to wait for the tide to drop; so we could sail under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was amazing to ... Read More
We sailed on the Noordam with our two teenagers leaving Sydney on the 4th January. It was spectacular leaving from White Bay as the ship had to wait for the tide to drop; so we could sail under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was amazing to sail past the iconic Opera house and coastline. The boarding process was very quick, no wait time and staff were friendly and welcoming. We had a balcony cabin 6012 for ourselves and the teenagers had an interior cabin adjacent. The cabins were tiny by comparison to other ships we have been on, however they were extremely clean and our cabin stewards Judtih and Zon were amongst the best we have experienced. Nothing was too much trouble and their service was discreet and helpful. Yes, the decor and the furniture in the cabins is worn never the less, it was still pleasant. We chose this cruise for the itinerary and it did not disappoint. The opportunity to circumnavigate the South and North Islands of New Zealand was one not to be missed. There are only two tender ports Akaroa and Waitangi so exploring on your own without the need of ship shore excursions is possible. Shore excursions were expensive and to be honest if travelling in a family or group car hire is a more affordable option with destinations easy to get to. E.g. Rotarua is an easy 1 hour drive as is Hobbiton nearby. Food on board was quite good. Plenty of variety between the buffet and the dining room. The Pinnacle Grill is worth every cent. We cruise quite often on NCL so I do have to make a comment about the price point of this cruise. In terms of value for money NCL offers a far superior product. Gratuities were extra once on board the Noordam adding a hefty $750 US to the on board bill. By comparison the NCL suite product we access often offers free speciality dining, drinks, reduced guest rates, pre paid gratuities, free shore excursions, free wifi all inclusive. So when we added up our cruise fares, gratuities, drinks, specialty dining etc a penthouse on the NCL would have been cheaper. But they don't offer this itinerary, yet! Overall, we enjoyed the ship. Public areas are clean, staff are friendly (Toni Barillo - pool bar and Casino Bar) was exceptional. Entertainment was disappointing compared to NCL. If booking for the itinerary only you will enjoy it! If you want a 'bang for buck' value cruise this isn't it. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
I'm 66 and retired and I don't usually cruise during school holidays for obvious reasons but this year choose the Noordam in early January around New Zealand and with the hope that not many kids would be on board. There ... Read More
I'm 66 and retired and I don't usually cruise during school holidays for obvious reasons but this year choose the Noordam in early January around New Zealand and with the hope that not many kids would be on board. There weren't many and they were mostly well behaved. Not like some cruises lines that encourage a few too many of them. I traveled alone and thoroughly enjoyed myself on this cruise. Its my 5th cruise with HAL and it won't be my last. Cabin was quiet and restful. I had nice quiet neighbours besides, above and below me.. Dining was well up to expectation. Lido for Breakfast and Lunch, Vista Dining Room for early anytime dining. Service staff in all areas of the ship were just wonderful.10/10 I did not feel the need for Specialty Dining but I heard it was great value and memorable. The entertainment was a bit sad. From a lack lustre Cruise Director down to the hoofers in the theatre. Seen it all, heard it all over and over and over again during my many cruises. Sorry to say, time for a re-invention. Did not use HAL's shore excursions. On shore the same thing is much cheaper. Quite good shopping on board and great duty free liquor prices - even if they were in US dollars. I guess Australians are gonna have to get used to the USD being much higher than the AUD again ? Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We like the size of the ship as well as the ports. We were pleased with our choice. We had a balcony room that gave us some added space. The rooms are not overly fancy, but comfortable. The ship is beginning to show some wear and tear ... Read More
We like the size of the ship as well as the ports. We were pleased with our choice. We had a balcony room that gave us some added space. The rooms are not overly fancy, but comfortable. The ship is beginning to show some wear and tear but overall, in good shape. Food was plentiful and we really enjoyed the salad bar where you could have your salad made to order. Room service for breakfast was prompt and hot. Dining room service was awesome! We purchased the beverage package and found the biggest draw back was that you couldn't use it in your room and you could only order one drink at a time. We would have enjoyed being able to enjoy our balcony with more than one drink at a time. Cost wise, well, we didn't come out ahead, but it was convenient. There is a $12.50 charge, per person a day, automatically added to your bill as a gratuity. Also all drinks have a 15% charge added automatically to your tab. This adds up real quick, especially if you have tipped staff previously. We didn't book tours with the ship because we found the cost was very high. We booked all our New Zealand tours through Zealander Tours and saved a bundle. Not only was it less expensive, the tours were much smaller and allowed for more interaction with the wonderful guides. We also found that getting help from the staff as to what to do or what to see as an independent traveller was impossible. We cruised for close to 30 days and did use their laundry service. $20 a bag was totally worth it! Quick and folded and hung! Entertainment was pretty good. The group that does their productions did very well. There was and awful ventriloquist from Japan! The Australian "Michael Buble" was awesome as were the other special entertainers. As for other night life, it is pretty quiet. The outside pool area is nice as is the interior pool. The spa is overly expensive and I didn't find it worth going to. The gym is small and there is a surcharge for many activities. The front desk was a bit rude and really didn't help, although they do have "smile training". We had some issues with our bill and it took a number of visits to the front desk to fix. For "our convenience" they made us come down as we were departing the ship, even though we had been ensured that it would be fixed on our final bill. If you have cruised before, you know it isn't "convenient" at all to wait in line on the last day of a cruise. The room stewards work so hard to make sure that your room is looked after. They even supplied us with beach towels for our beach stops! The internet is awful! Very slow and very expensive. It takes so long to even get a connection that you are out $5.00 without even doing anything. We found free wi-fi sights at most ports in New Zealand and did without on the tiny islands. We would travel with Holland America again, we just wish that the nickle and diming in charges would stop. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Ship is older and needs updating, especially in pool area. Entertainment was very basic. Other entertainment was unvaried, I could almost hum the soundtrack to the ship by the third night. No departure party, lack of fun, entertaining ... Read More
Ship is older and needs updating, especially in pool area. Entertainment was very basic. Other entertainment was unvaried, I could almost hum the soundtrack to the ship by the third night. No departure party, lack of fun, entertaining atmosphere. Gala nights lackluster at the best. Realize weather out of control, but missing Christchurch, and then sitting in Wellington the night before without being able to get off the ship was too much. Cruise in the national park was joke, only lasted barely 1 1/2 hrs, then practically two full days at sea until reaching Tasmania, where many elected to get of the ship early and just fly back to either Melbourne or Sydney. You can see more of New Zealand on your own. Restaurant seemed ok at first but then menu became highly imaginative in its description. At least they didn't mess up steaks. Also, Gala night menus completely underwhelming and not special compared to regular nights. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
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