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6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Chose this cruise for intergenerational travel with my parents and children. LOVELY way to cover a lot of ground. We used the ship more as a means of transportation to get from point A to point B, but it was a really wonderful trip. ... Read More
Chose this cruise for intergenerational travel with my parents and children. LOVELY way to cover a lot of ground. We used the ship more as a means of transportation to get from point A to point B, but it was a really wonderful trip. Pros: food, service, staff excellent. We had basic family room with bed hung from ceiling in interior state room-- more than adequate to meet needs. There are plenty of rich foods, but I can't eat them and was able to eat healthily during the entire cruise as there were many food options. Ship also has a 1/4 mile walk around on deck six and ample health club. Nice free stretching class for early mornings. Cons: children's programming is in need of a total overhaul. If you want to park your child someplace where they can have unlimited media- this would be sufficient, but the children's programming is decidedly lacking. Our children enjoyed going after dinner for an hour or so and they had one night of truly interactive activities, but this was a far contrast to the children's programming in Splash Academy that they had on Norwegian. Norwegian's programming was media- free, dynamic and organized. Staff was lovely, but the programming was an after-thought, room smelled terrible and it was stuffed with media. Shore excursions were overpriced as one would expect. In Bar Harbor, there is a free LLBean shuttle which operates in the summer for only the price of a park pass (fourth graders are free and seniors get discount). Great way to see park at a fraction of the cost. Hired private car in Charlottetown. Discovery Tours PEI and Shuttle Service, K. Fraser/T. Thompson-- info@discovertourspei.com. This was the sweetest man who loved our kids. We negotiated the rate up front and he took us all over island-- to Canadian national park, anne of green gables house, a mariner port, a toy factory, a place to pet the goats... He was so kind and it turned out to be about 30 a person for the tour of the island. Great way to explore. If you splurge for any excursion there is NOTHING to see in Sydney. We were glad the boys went to see Alexandra Graham Bell museum that day. They loved it and there really is nothing to do in town and I am generally very easily entertained! Overall, wonderful trip and a great way to cover a lot of area in a very relaxed way-- wonderful trip! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
I was a little hesitant just before leaving due to some of the recent reviews of this very cruise. Yes, the ship is a little tired in places. Seating cushions in public areas need to be replaced, along with the deck chairs on lower ... Read More
I was a little hesitant just before leaving due to some of the recent reviews of this very cruise. Yes, the ship is a little tired in places. Seating cushions in public areas need to be replaced, along with the deck chairs on lower promenade, etc. The 'hot tub' area aft seemed rather worthless. However, the ship is clean. The service and food were very good. I was impressed with the Lido restaurant. Happy to see the buffet has been done away with and the food and food utensils are not handled by guests. There were hand washing stations everywhere. The ship is smaller than many of the mega ships I've been on and this was a big plus given I was traveling with two individuals who use walkers. The ports of call I liked best were Bar Harbor and Quebec. Sydney didn't seem worthwhile. We dined at both of the 'specialty' restaurants. The Italian one was good, but they kept pushing the family style option and we all just wanted our own dish. It was fine, but seemed a little over the top. The Pinnacle was a real disappointment. We had much better service in the dining room. I had to ask for a finger bowl or something to wipe my hands with after my King Crab. We had to track down the waiter(s) a few times. Just didn't do a good job of reading the table in my opinion. Souffle for dessert was a real disappointment. Entertainment was OK. Comedian was very good. Piano man was awful, yet popular. Didn't understand that at all. Singers and dancers on board were acceptable, but we only went once. Spa was pretty good as far as packages available, but wait a few days as the prices go down and specials come available. Hot tub within the spa is worthless. No jets. Cabins are OK, tight as you expect. Bathroom was decent size and we had a tub. We were on lower promenade deck. Nice to be able to walk right out and it was mid ship and close to the gangways when we docked. Overall good value for the money and we enjoyed our week. I think the ship is worth a trip into dry dock to update her. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
This was our first cruise on Holland America. The boat size (800 or so passengers), time of year and itinerary sold us on giving HA a try. The cruise was around the British Isles, Aug. 4 to 18, 2017. It was about as we expected. Our ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Holland America. The boat size (800 or so passengers), time of year and itinerary sold us on giving HA a try. The cruise was around the British Isles, Aug. 4 to 18, 2017. It was about as we expected. Our room was 052, a Signature Suite, which is a larger room, not a suite, really, which comes at a higher price. The room was clean and comfortable, the bath a good size, and the HVAC worked very well. The ship is old and decor dated, but mostly well maintained. The age and decor didn't bother us (we're old too, and in our mid-70s I'd guess we were below the median age of the passengers on the ship -- in other words, in the young set). I suppose because it is an older ship, there were only four small elevators, one of which was out of service for a number of days. It could have also used a few more strategically located public restrooms. Another funny thing that I'm not sure about, was that in certain places the floors were uneven, that is, even though you were on the same deck, there would be slight rises and falls. I'd give top rating to the on-board entertainers. The house singers, dancers and band were top drawer, as were the visiting singers. They were the only thing on the ship that exceeded our expectations. HA also had a juggler one night and a magician another, but we did not see them. The lounge music was very good, too, with the exception of the evening piano bar pianist/singer. Lectures -- forget it. There was only one lecturer, who was good, but she only gave three lectures, one scheduled a really poor time. Otherwise, you could do bingo -- not sure how many did play, but it seemed to be the main leisure time offering. The did offer computer classes, and some good movies, but we didn't see the need for the classes and only saw one movie. The food was for the most part very good to excellent, too. I'm talking main dining room, here. We only had a couple mediocre meals and only one bad one (should have sent it back, but did not). Lunch and breakfast in the Lido restaurant, buffet style, was noting to write home about, but serviceable. For extra money they have three specialty restaurants: The Pinnacle, Canaletto, and Le Cirque (which is a special night in the Pinnacle space), all of which we tried. The small size of these venues was attractive. On the other hand, for us the extra cost really wasn't worth it -- the food and service were no better than in the main dining room. If you do want to eat in these places, wait to sign up until you get on board, when special deals may be offered. We made the mistake of making our reservations in advance and paying full price. The shore excursions through HA were good - lots of variety, and we did nine of them. I'd say of the nine I'd rate only two as below average, well below our expectations. And they are not in expensive. The most striking thing about the cruise was the obvious corporate atmosphere and cost-cutting. Details, details. Among other things, the dining rooms were under-staffed. The staff seemed to be working hard, but had too many customers to cover. (Staff were, with one exception, friendly and pleasant.) The public men's rooms I visited twice had run out of soap, and several times out of cloth towels. They're always telling you to wash your hands, so you'd think they'd staff-up enough to keep someone on top of the restroom conditions. The "bathrobes" in our room were clean, but badly stained (time to get some new ones, folks). One plus is that service is included. No tipping. Our room attendants got an automatic $15 per day added to our bill, and a la carte beverages had a 15% added. Finally, and this, I guess derives from our prior cruise experiences, which have been "all inclusive," the a la carte approach that HA takes is bothersome and confusing -- there are special deals, packages, etc. -- but no good way to make sense of them. We passed and just paid one at a time (e.g., for drinks). Crew members going around selling lottery tickets. Really? Would we go on Holland America again? I would never say never, but it would not be our first choice. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
We visited most major ports in Alaska except Glacier Bay and Skagway/Haines. Embarkation was better than average with minimal waiting, and the port in Seattle was very easy to navigate. Holland allows 3 bottles of wine per adult ... Read More
We visited most major ports in Alaska except Glacier Bay and Skagway/Haines. Embarkation was better than average with minimal waiting, and the port in Seattle was very easy to navigate. Holland allows 3 bottles of wine per adult which can be placed in regular luggage, but bring your corkscrew if you will drink in your room. Corkage in the dining room was $18 plus tax in Washington :-( . Once out of Washington, no tax. Wine steward service was very good with our bottle always waiting for us at dinner, and each bottle lasted 3 dinners for us. Mildly upsetting was that Holland initially tentatively charged our credit card account $1,499.82 on embarkation (per our bank) while our final bill was only $32.20, overestimating the final amount by 4,657.8 percent. Seems to me that they should have disclosed this to passengers so that they would know what to expect since many banks now inform their customers of each charge made. The ship appears to be old and desperately needs renovation with SD TV's with poor reception in the staterooms (even for the usual onboard sourced programming) with noticeable wear in the bathroom and cabin and dated ship decor. There was substantial deferred maintenance In our stateroom, the bottom desk drawer didn't function well (other passengers said theirs did not work at all) and when I decided to take a bath (I am used to the tiny showers on other lines) there was ring around the bathtub. Yuk - showers on out. I also noticed that the grout had brown stains and the toilet seat showed signs of wear. The bathroom had ample shelf space with toiletries bags and reading material going under the sink and a closing corner vanity cabinet with three levels, There was a hair dryer mounted on the wall as well as a corded hair dryer in the desk which we did not use. A magnifying mirror was mounted to the desk and there was another in the desk as well. Two bathrobes were provided. During our cruise, they were apparently sanding and varnishing outdoor stairs between decks (we were pretty far aft). The strong smell permeated the hallway and rooms and caused both my wife and I to become nauseated. This continued for a substantial time. At one point, someone propped up am outdoor chair in the exterior doorway, but that was soon removed. They were also varnishing the railing on the top deck. Unfortunately, their "Wet paint" signs were placed on small labels facing the sea twisted somewhat around the railing structure. I found out that there was wet varnish the hard way. In another area of the top deck, the top wood rail was completely missing and remained missing throughout the two week trip. Others complained of smoke odors in public areas (purportedly no smoking allowed) and we noticed curry smells near the stairwell once or twice - we presume that the crew must have been cooking in the lower decks. Clean windows appeared to be a low priority on this ship. Besides the stateroom windows which is understandable due to their inaccessibility, windows for public areas, particularly the dining room, were filthy substantially blocking the view outside. Even accessible windows (like the windows on doors in public areas were filthy). Stewards were very polite, as were most personnel on board - much better than we have experienced on competing lines, while shop personnel were typically hard sell as on other lines. Food service in the dining room was good though food sat too long and was too repetitive. With a few exceptions, soup was placed in pitchers and poured into bowls at the table which helped to keep it hot, but most everything else was lukewarm. Portions promoted good health but seemed small. They served Alaskan crab at one dinner which consisted of two segments of a single leg. Dinner fare was unimaginative and repetitive. Souffles were sparse, and the variably prepared creme brulee was available every day. The one time I tried a souffle, it was very cupcake-like. The dinner rolls were likewise the same for the whole trip while other cruiselines provide different variations and styles. I was surprised when the surf and turf night did not include a baked potato. Interestingly, this cruise featured demonstrations by America's Test Kitchen, but it did not appear that anything was communicated to the cooking staff. Eating at the Lido Buffet was similarly unimaginative. Breakfast was substantially the same everyday. There were several stations with different types of food, but the food was generally unchanged and if one wanted different things, several stations would have to be visited. There were separate stations for fried eggs, omelets, waffles, poached eggs/congee, one for juices/milk, ... If one wanted poached eggs/eggs benedict and sausage, that would require a trip to two different stations, or even more if one wanted toast, with each having a separate queue which became very long at times. The stations generally did not have any additional assistance when the queue grew. Potatoes were cooked the same throughout the trip - no variations like potatoes o-brien, hash browns, etc. were offered. Fruit was sparse, and there were no smoked fish like salmon\ or trout, nor a large variety of sliced meats like those offered on other cruiselines. The servers were apparently instructed to work fast, but in their effort to serve the next person, often failed to provide what the prior person wanted. Once, and elderly gentlemen in front of me wanted a couple of different items. When he politely repeated what he wanted, the server became visibly peeved, finally responding to him and filling his request. Things similar to this were often repeated and it appeared that the servers either didn't want to listen or did not understand the people they were serving. It appeared that their failure to listen resulted in longer delays in the lines, though by the third or fourth day, I gave up and took whatever they scooped. Beverage service (coffee, water, tea, lemon syrup water) was spotty, depending on what personnel were present. Even though we were generally approached fairly quickly, beverage speed ranged from immediate to times when after finishing my food, I went to get iced tea from the dispenser myself. Even the supervisors (in suits) were variable - sometimes they would be helpful, sometimes they were busy talking amongst themselves and didn't care, and there were times when the dining area was relatively empty - they served a single diner, but refused to acknowledge other diners who wanted refills, even turning around and walking away after seeing diners wanting service. Lunch at the Lido was similar. There were multiple stations with a few variations (whatever was left over from a prior meal). Pizza, relegated to one regular station, was the worst I have had on a cruise, in part because it generally sat around for a long time (I don't know if the older passenger demographic was a cause). It was refreshing to be offered sushi, but there was only a very few variations of mini rolls (surprising since this cruise served lots of salmon), so after the second day, meh. They were small enough that people often got several, poured the sushi onto one plate, and abandoned the empty dishes. Many also gave up on waiting for the server - they just reached over and grabbed what they wanted. The buffet closed between meals though the food was placed in warming ovens quite early. The food, having sat for an extended time, lost its freshness by the time it was offered. An example - one station had small plates of pasta. I did not encounter any fresh plates. The plates had been sitting around long enough that the outside was dry and hard. Very few people partake. For lunch, sparcely filled small sandwiches were often available in small paper bags. Unsealed, these sat around long enough that the bread was often hard and dry. Lido provided snacks 10:30p - 11:30p. Comfort food such as wings, fries, tortilla chips, potato chips and other leftovers were offered. The wings, though not real fresh, were pretty tasty (unlike the other fried chicken which could have come from a frozen TV dinner. The fries were the best I have had on a cruise ship with two variations, one well done and one regular, provided. The chips, probably coming from bags, were typical. Guacamole was provided, but typically went very quickly without replenishing and at other times, stayed, the surface clearly discolored from sitting too long. The Lido dining area was not well maintained. The tables were often a little sticky (They need to replace the cleaning buckets more often) and it appeared no one bothered to vacuum the carpet, particularly noticeable near the windows. Desserts where typical - nothing fancy - but were not replenished quickly enough. Ice cream service was exceptional, extensive queues not withstanding. There were several choices of real ice cream (eg: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, chocolate chip, cookie dough, etc., sherbets) as well as soft serve, served in regular cones, waffle cones, or in bowls with a selection of toppings such as marshmallows, syrup and chocolate chips. This started near lunch and ran throughout the day. The Pinnacle Grill provided a quiet experience with attentive service though the food was unexceptional. The Italian restaurant was a cordoned off part of the Lido. It had attentive service and good portions, though the food was not up to par and was not close to what we consider good authentic Italian food. It tasted the same as the dining room although with a little different spice mix. Since there were very few people there, it was very quiet. Their written confirmation was off by a couple of hours for us as well as another diner, but with few patrons, it did not matter. The only Cioppino I ever had before this was San Francisco Cioppino and this did not compare. I appeared that the ingredients were boiled separately with Italian inspired broth poured over. The seafood had little flavor. Entertainment was next to the worst we experienced in the over 10 cruises we have been on. The ship's personnel's shows were karaoke style with mostly recorded instumentals accompanied by a lone violinist. There was good one male singer who apparently also worked the restaurant while the others attempted a reasonable facsimile of a high school musical. Dancers included one woman who clearly had some ballet training, but the others were not so graceful. The troup's attempt at a county western bar motive was, with obviously non-native English speaking backgrounds, was entertaining, but not in a good way. The guest performers were better than the onboard musicians and dancers, and they were often accompanied by a live band which appeared to be professional. There were also the requisite lounge musicians. Stateroom TV's provided old NTSC(?) standard definition analog video of very poor quality with lots of distortion, NOT caused by degradation of satellite signal. Last time I watched video that bad was close to 20 years ago. Although the TV appeared to be a first generation stereo set, all signals going to it were mono. This was a 14 day cruise covering just a few more ports than shorter cruises and allowed extensive time in each port, so there was no hurry to get off the boat or rush back to the ship. Unfortunately, at least for us, when we returned to the ship, it was often after lunch hours and there was no food available. For extended hour ports, we arrived after dinner hours, so no food either until snacks at 10:30. This was the first time we were left hungry on a cruiseship, and after 11:30 pm, no food (although room service was still available). It would have been nice if they coordinated the buffet, but no such luck. It was surprising that many halls, stairwells and elevators and outside decks were empty after hours. It was refreshing and comfortable, if a bit spooky, to be able to walk the halls of a cruiseship without seeing another human. This contributed to the slowness of the environment. Maybe because young families cannot always afford to take a 14 day vacation, this cruise attracted an older crowd and we sexagenarians appeared to be among the younger of the crowd. This is NOT a cruise for young people though there was one pack of less than 10 millenials wandering around the decks. Our adult child would have been miserable. The whirlpool on the pool deck closed at 10pm (the pool closed earlier) which was disappointing (we like to linger later) though after 9, there were very few people on deck. Well before 10, the retractable roof over the pool area was closed. Some ports were small enough that unless you paid for a shore excursion, there was very little to do. One port provided a short shuttle to the other side of the spit where there were only a few shops catering to cruise passengers. This being our fourth cruise to Alaska, we did not go on any shore excursions. Embarkation was the best we have experienced. Port Valet service allowed passengers to check in their luggage on the ship and obtain boarding passes for their flights FREE of charge. Luggage fees were charged to our onboard account at cost ($25.00). It made it very easy and comfortable to disembark without having to deal with luggage, and made disembarkation the easiest and most efficient we ever experienced (They or our overbooked airline did lose our seat assignments, but we were able to get new assignments at the airport). I do not know whether it is a Seattle port program or a HAL program, but the ability to transfer our luggage and check in was much appreciated. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
CABIN 10019 -- Small balcony (room for two angled chairs and a miniature cocktail table). Room itself was very small, but there was plenty of storage space for two people, including two spacious drawers under the bed we didn't even need to ... Read More
CABIN 10019 -- Small balcony (room for two angled chairs and a miniature cocktail table). Room itself was very small, but there was plenty of storage space for two people, including two spacious drawers under the bed we didn't even need to use. Likewise, all of our luggage fit neatly under the bed after we unpacked. In spite of the cozy room, I didn't feel closed in. I have serious claustrophobia and had no problem with the room or the bathroom facility at all. Noordam is a beautiful ship that is showing some signs of wear (it was commissioned in 2006), but is well maintained by an attentive and friendly staff. At meals and in passageways, crew members smiled and greeted passengers without fail. Only complaint about staff is that many do not speak English well and there was some culture/language communication problems at times. Food was above average in the dining room and beyond description in the Pinnacle Grill (more on that later). Only one dining room evening meal was below expectations of your neighborhood Denney's. Most were far better with a variety of gourmet offerings for each course. Salmon was on menu every night but final night, which was trout. Second gala night we had "surf and turf" which was a very generous sized fillet Mignon and a lobster tail, perfectly prepared and well presented. Although drink orders were offered, we stuck with the complimentary water and iced tea at meals and had our own beverages in the room or during "happy hours" where beverages were $2.00 for second drink. We discovered that you have to buy the same drink as your second one AT THE SAME TIME, meaning be sure to ask for no ice (or a canned beverage) if you don't want Coke flavored water for your $2.00 drink. Bar service was excellent in the Crow's Nest, not so much in the Northern Lights lounge where we went for a music trivia contest. The Explorer's Cafe service is very slow during some parts of the day, prompt during others. It's worth a try. While not as good as Starbucks, Pete's or SBC, the drinks are yummy and hot. Very hot. We considered a beverage package, but opted to visit the Safeway Store in Seward to bring our own soda, cream and a small bottle of wine on-board. No problems getting through security with that. Hard liquor is not allowed, but reasonable amounts of soda, juices and wine (750 ml) are permitted. For our next cruise, we may do some math on the beverage plan. It may be worth the extra money to save a trip to the supermarket to bring our own beverages onto the ship. Pinnacle Grill is $35 per person extra and well worth the cost. I made a reservation before the cruise to be at Pinnacle when we were cruising through Glacier Bay on our anniversary. From the opening "shot" of mushroom latte to the amazing surf and turf dinner (four serving size choices included and a jaw dropping 32 oz fillet available for an extra fee), every food item was prepared to standards way above anything we have experienced before. The area is very quiet, in spite of a very large family with several kids at a table nearby. Waiters were not bothersome, but were on hand right away to refill drinks or bring the next course. If you've been thinking about cruising, choose HAL if only for the opportunity to dine at this amazing restaurant. Choose your cabin wisely. We were on the Starboard side of a south bound cruise. In other words, when the Captain came on to announce some cool feature or landmark, we had to find an open space on the other side of the ship or in the Crow's Nest. While we're on the subject of choosing a cabin, we found our 10th deck forward cabin to be one of the best kept secrets. Tucked out of the way, just steps away from the Crows nest and a short elevator ride to the Greenhouse Spa on the Lido deck, this quiet area truly was a retreat from the hustle and bustle of port day passageway traffic. Although as far forward as one can be berthed on a ship, there was relatively little motion until the last night. That made up for the week of restfulness. Sleep is hard to find on a ship, but the bed and bedding are among the best we've slept on. Two full beds joined together to make a queen bed on a stable foundation meant motion from the other person almost un-noticeable. Unfortunately, the pillows were either to "foam rubbery" or too "squishy". If you have room to pack your favorite pillow, it might make this the best night sleep you've had in a long time. ----------- Enrichment activities included among other things, the Windows Workshop. Of little interest to us since we have Macs. But descriptions seemed interesting, particularly those that are platform independent like using OneDrive. Also available were several presentations from America's Test Kitchens, one of my favorite foodie magazines/programs. The demonstrations were great and came with recipe cards and handouts featuring various techniques. They are not interactive as you might expect in a live performance. That may be the way they're done, or it might be because there was an outbreak of Norovirus during this cruise. ----------- Entertainment is HAL's Achilles Heel. What little entertainment they have is poorly done in venues that were not designed for unobstructed viewing or for musical performance. The GOOD: An excellent mashup between the ship's band performing and BBC Earth's wildlife shows was the entertainment highlight for us. Alexander Great's magic show was a close second. I also enjoyed Adagio's performances in the Exploration's Cafe, though I only heard them as I was passing through. Noordam's musicians are top notch. Take the time to enjoy their performances while you're aboard. The BAD: The signature auditorium on the Noordam is the Vista Lounge. At least a third of the auditorium (and almost all of the upper deck 'balcony" area) is obstructed by columns or the ceiling of the upper deck. Two nights, we could see the bottom two thirds of the backdrop. The third night, we sat in the floor area in chairs that must have been reupholstered leftovers from GITMO. Uncomfortable, these chairs had cushions that did not stay put. The UGLY: The cast's performance of "Ever After" is anything but what the title implies... A collection of popular music from the 80s and 90s played as the singers and dancers re-enacted several fairy tales... most at one time. Imagine Snow White and Alice in Wonderland on stage at the same time in full volume. Choreography was large stage performed on a small stage. "Ever After" is only a little worse than a high school musical. I'll give them an A+ for the multimedia backdrop. As far as performance that was poor goes (as described above), the problem was not so much a lack of skill and talent of the cast. Done in a theater designed for such a performance, and with only one -- at the most two closely related concepts, it might be an award winning show. For the seemingly thrown together quality, it gets the "UGLY" award for this cruise. -------------- The Greenhouse Spa is very expensive. However, we splurged and spent money that might have gone to an excursion or two to get their hydrotherapy and thermal lounge package. It is $249 for two people for the full cruise. Normally, it's a great place to "spa away" the muscle tension and stress in a relaxing and quiet space. Quiet, relaxing Earth music plays sometimes (volume and presence is controlled from the women's changing room for some reason). Only one day did we have disruptive people -- a pair of young ladies who were asked to be quiet by an elderly lady who stepped up to enforce the rules that the staff didn't seem interested in monitoring. The thermal loungers are very hot (hotter than water in your friendly neighborhood hot tub). They're not for everyone, but I found them helpful after putting the "luxurious bathrobe" and a large towel down. Signage asks people to limit their use to 20 minutes (in both pool and thermoloungers) and that should be more than enough. Don't be surprised if you find people sleeping on the loungers. They're not breaking the rules on purpose... these things are just that relaxing. The Greenhouse also offers a wide range of spa treatments for both men and women, from cleansing facials to mani-pedi's. TIP: Get your mani-pedi and facial before the cruise. You'll still have money left over for your kid's college education. But if you can afford it, these folks seem to know how to pamper with style. ---------- Public rooms, except for Northern Lights and the Vista Lounge are very nice. Some include prints of famous Dutch Masters' work, statuary and my favorite, wooden carvings at the main dining room. Not only are public rooms well appointed, the staff works tirelessly to keep them clean. This is especially true should your cruise face an outbreak of Norovirus as occurred this time. Crew members -- even the Cruise Director himself -- took on the task of "super-sanitizing" the ship's public spaces and passageways in addition to their normal duties. Other than the Lido, where a careless plate grab from an infected passenger could spread the virus, I felt very safe on board. I've seen little mention on Cruise Critic of the "secret" places one can go for peace and quiet. There are many of those on the Noordam. My favorites were the Explorations Cafe, library and the Crow's Nest. Yes, they can get busy at certain times of the day, but for the most part it's relaxing and quiet... and a nice seat with a great view can almost always be found. ---------- Embarkation and disembarkation were both well organized on the ship end. However, disembarkation took a long time and once through the HAL portion, customs became very crowded, confusing and disorganized. They do not sanitize those spaces like they do the ship itself, and one of us got sick as a result. It's a good idea to wait in your stateroom until your disembarkation group is called. While they let people gather in public rooms to wait for their call, you're bound to find a lot of people anxious to get on to their next destination and with that comes impatience. I was concerned about a tight connection to the airport, but following HAL's process, we got there in plenty of time. TIPS: 1. If you are a U.S. citizen, you'll actually clear customs twice. Once for Canada and again at the airport before boarding. 2. Try to have as little carry on luggage as possible as you'll be asked for your passport, boarding pass and a customs receipt several times throughout. 3. If you have a medical device (such as a CPAP, H-Wave or similar "large electronic device"), remove it from your carryon and run it through the scanner separately. Canada's TSA will make you do that anyway :-) 4. When clearing U.S. customs in Vancouver, have a traveling companion who can watch your luggage while you go through the process. A "convenient" kiosk setup is not convenient when you're trying to manage so much luggage and "ability" gear that you don't have a free hand to tinker with the machines, which can be stubborn if the pages on your passport are a little curled. Which reminds me... The "Handicapped" signs show a wheelchair, which is a universal symbol for mobility impaired. People with a cane, braces or a walker can also use the "Handicapped" line. Which may have made item #4 above a moot point for me. --------- Value for money? Tough call. We booked through a popular online booking engine that offered discounts only to MasterCard holders and was not cooperative in resolving problems. They would refer us to HAL to deal with an issue and HAL would insist that they could not help because we booked with a Travel Agent. The months leading up to the cruise were a hassle, mostly because of this "go ask your mom -- go ask your dad" challenge. It was worth the hassle in the end. But is it worth it economically? Here's a way to compare if you've never taken a cruise: A decent hotel was about $285 per night while we were in transit. Most included Tom Bodett's clean comfortable room with NO amenities. One included the free breakfast that's worth every penny. Add to that meals at around $50 per day while we were in transit -- just average chain restaurant meals not including breakfast. That puts us up to $2,345 if we did that for seven days. That's half what you'd typically pay for the Alaska cruise for two people plus the Pinnacle Grill and views of the Alaska wilderness you can't get any other way. I'd be reluctant to spend that much for the room we had. But if a human travel agent can monitor my booking and get us a good deal on a suite, it would be tempting. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
Average cruise, smaller rooms than most cruises, good service, okay food, great entertainment, big outdoor pool (deep), smaller indoor pool (shallow), kind staff. Our TV circuit kept popping, so we did not have TV for the first 2 days, our ... Read More
Average cruise, smaller rooms than most cruises, good service, okay food, great entertainment, big outdoor pool (deep), smaller indoor pool (shallow), kind staff. Our TV circuit kept popping, so we did not have TV for the first 2 days, our sink would not turn off (plumber had to come and fix it), shower/tub would not drain. I traveled with my husband, my daughter (14), and my mother-in-law. Food to your room takes a bit of time...faster just to get food from the buffet and bring it down to your room. Overall, average cruise, not a lot for kids to do, and not a lot of time spent in the ports. Other cruise ships had arrived before us and we left before they did. Nice, but not luxurious or fancy. My daughter loved the outdoor pool and the basketball court. Not many activities for kids her age. Wish we had more time in the ports. I would choose a different cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2017
We signed up for this cruise because the price was right and it included ports we had never sailed to. The weather was better that we could hope for. We only had a little rain on one day and we dried out after being rained on. That port ... Read More
We signed up for this cruise because the price was right and it included ports we had never sailed to. The weather was better that we could hope for. We only had a little rain on one day and we dried out after being rained on. That port was Icy Strait, which was new to us. The tribal corporation has built very nice, modern port facilities. We enjoyed walking thru their shops but really enjoyed walking to their village. Everyone we spoke to were very polite and helpful. Our visit to Kodiak was great. At Sitka, we had arranged a tour that was excellent. Their web site is sitkawildlifetours.com. Check it out, the price is excellent and the tour we took was very professional and informative. We also did a tour on our own in Victoria that was a walking tour with food tasting along the way. Their web site is atasteofvictoriafoodtours.com. Again, worth checking out. We very much enjoyed the tour. The experience on the ship was very positive. The ship is well kept and the right size. Dining at the main dining room was never crowded. We had to wait about 5 minutes on one occasion. Other that that, it was walk up and be seated for any time dining. The food was excellent as was the service. The shows were pretty good in general. We do not care much for the shows with the ship's cast as they tend to be too loud and over amplified. The other shows were mostly very good. The crew members were very nice and helpful. I'd highly recommend this cruise to anyone who has an interest in visiting various ports in Alaska. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
The Rotterdam is an older ship and does show some wear especially in the bathtubs and the décor in some of the areas. However, once you experience the friendly and helpful staff, the great food and the awesome atmosphere you quickly ... Read More
The Rotterdam is an older ship and does show some wear especially in the bathtubs and the décor in some of the areas. However, once you experience the friendly and helpful staff, the great food and the awesome atmosphere you quickly forget the age of the ship. Embarkation was a bit rough in that requested wheelchair was not available and had to wait in the chilly air outside until it arrived. Wheel chair also had to be requested upon disembarkation. Our balcony cabin was fairly spacious, in fair condition and was always kept clean and well stocked by cabin staff. We did not participate in most ship activities and the entertainment did not seem to suit us but there were plenty of activities if you wanted to be more active. The ports of call were amazing and included Eidfjord, Geiranger, Alesund, and Bergen. We did not purchase any shore excursions and did the ports on our own and had a great time; a bit of walking and HOP ON/HOP OFF buses. We absolutely loved the laid back atmosphere of the ship and we were extremely pleased with the phenomenal service we were provided. We cannot wait to go back! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We had an Alaskan Cruise on our bucket list to check off so we decided to do it when cruise season opened up to Alaska from Vancouver, BC. We called a cruise travel agent who was very knowledgeable as he had done the cruise twice. He did ... Read More
We had an Alaskan Cruise on our bucket list to check off so we decided to do it when cruise season opened up to Alaska from Vancouver, BC. We called a cruise travel agent who was very knowledgeable as he had done the cruise twice. He did all the recommendations and we inquired about tours and settled in on the whale watching tour in Juneau and the train tour in Skagway... AWESOME!!! The staff were extremely friendly and they remembered our names as well as other tourists. The food at the Lido Buffet was to die for. They changed it up every day and it was so good, never had a buffet that pleased us so much. The gala night in the Manhattan Dining Room was the best food ever. They had two gala nights and again, service was exquisite and the food was second to none. The Lido pool was great, they would retract the roof when it was warm and sunny. Oddly enough, in our whole 7 day trip, we only had one bad morning of heavy misty rain in Ketchikan but it became sunny in the afternoon. Otherwise, the whole cruise was sunny and rather warm. Even the workers on the cruise ship stated this was not normal, but we're not complaining. LOL ... We had a balcony/veranda suite so we enjoyed sitting outside with our champagne and wine and just watching the beautiful scenery. Amazing is all I can say. The trip through Glacier Bay was something to die for. The cruise ship stopped so that we could see falling ice chunks from the glaciers falling in the sea... every time it happened, all passengers oohed and ahhhhed like us. We'd do this trip again in a heartbeat. The STAFF were phenomenal...extremely friendly, we can't say enough about them! Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
Having set sails with RCCL, NCL, and Celebrity, I tried not to set my standard too high because I know that HAL is going to be different and more traditional. After spending a week on Oosterdam, I can break it down and say things that I ... Read More
Having set sails with RCCL, NCL, and Celebrity, I tried not to set my standard too high because I know that HAL is going to be different and more traditional. After spending a week on Oosterdam, I can break it down and say things that I like and dislike. Things I like, 1. the relaxing nature of this cruise. It's very laid back and be as lazy as I wanted. 2. Food quality was superb. I like that I didn't notice anything artificial like food coloring. 3. A lot of healthy food options; from no sugar added items to seafood. 4. Drink pricing was reasonable. For example, Cappuccino was $2.25. 5. Everyone seems friendly and very efficient in their own area. 6. Educational events and shows, especially with BBC 7. Elevators were fast and efficient. i particularly loved the scenic elevators with glass panels facing out of the ship. 8. Refurbishment could be seen and easily noticed, especially at the Lido Market. 9. Lot of movies playing, especially in cabin. 10. Getting on and off the ship was super easy. Things I dislike 1. The relaxing nature of this cruise. It gets boring at some point on a week long cruise. 2. Crew members were friendly but restrained. I felt like they were trained to say so much and that's it. 3. The use of public areas could be improved. I ran out of things to explore. 4. The lack of energy. There wasn't much going on at all. Bars were dead and filled with people taking a nap or knitting. 5. Shows were educational and informative. Not exciting and energetic at all. 6. Comedies were good but PG-13 7. The ship could use more seating area, especially at the Lido Market. 8. The lack of food venues to help breaking up the crowd. 9. Duration at ports could have been better. Ketchikan 7am-1pm was silly. Read Less
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