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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We chose this cruise because of itinerary (ports of call). There were a lot of sea days, but past experiences told us that we would have decent entertainment and events to fill the time. Wrong! Holland America, has cut back so ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of itinerary (ports of call). There were a lot of sea days, but past experiences told us that we would have decent entertainment and events to fill the time. Wrong! Holland America, has cut back so drastically on the quality of the cruise experience, that we would avoid travelling with them again. We paid substantial money, and did not get decent value for it. The nighttime entertainment on our 31 day cruise, included 4 evenings with juggling acts (that were appropriate for a child's birthday party), a movie that was featured twice, the ships own singers and dancers that did their 3 shows, twice, as well as some Australian singers that were promoted as professionals of high calibre, but may have been appropriate as lounge singers. Gone are the days of afternoon entertainment and live music on the Lido deck. I was told that this has been taken away frome all Holland America's fleet. The Sailway parties are now unhosted, so they never get started as a party, and the only music for them is not age appropriate to the crowd, and is only over the PA system. There are no more on deck parties, as they have had in the past, and forget about any organized events like they have done in the past with horse races and decorating the horse or karaoke. Sincerely, you can stay home and read or play bridge at no cost, whereas they charge a bundle to supply a chair for you to do this. The portion sizes of meals have shrunk, although you can always order more, but you pay an additional cost to eat in their other restaurants, and the food in no better. Their beef meals are outstanding, but be prepared to be disappointed with overcooked and mushy fish. Five out of six fish meals I ate, including in the premium restaurant were overcooked, and these are professional chefs! Be prepared to pay $13.50 per person per day, for gratuities, plus an automatic 15% gratuity added to all drinks, which are already overpriced. Don't expect to find anything more than a mediocre bottle of wine for only pennies under $30. Keeping in mind that they purchase all their alcohol, Tax and duty free, they still charge prices equivalent to mid to high-end market prices. We asked for the daily paper to be delivered to our cabin. Never saw it. We booked and had written confirmation for dinner nervous reservations at a premium restaurant, they screwed up the date. We had our Australia visas all lined up and printed. They told us that one of ours wasn't registered, but for $35, they could do that for us. When I proved it was all in order, they discovered it was another passenger that wasn't registered for the visa. This after I waited in a long line up to prove my point, and I am not sure that I got a sincere apology. The best ports of call seem to have very limited stop overs, and some secondary ports have long ones. Ship excursions are priced significantly higher than the equivalent tours purchased directly from local vendors. It seems that this cruise line constantly has their hand in your pocket, once you have paid for the trip and boarded the ship. The well to do, like to be ripped off. Those of us of average means seem to get ripped off as a result. Many of the free seminars, are just sales pitches to promote the over priced spa treatments, or to sell you their "snake oil" health and beauty products. All in all, for value for money, there are better options available than Holland America. Shame on their management for down grading what was a great Company! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I would rate the Noordam excellent for the stewards responsible for room, dining, and buffet. The ship was clean, food good and service excellent. BB King club was great. The itinerary, weather and seas were perfect for us. The problem ... Read More
I would rate the Noordam excellent for the stewards responsible for room, dining, and buffet. The ship was clean, food good and service excellent. BB King club was great. The itinerary, weather and seas were perfect for us. The problem with our balcony. An outside vent was so strong in odor we couldn't open the door for even a moment. After twelve days they finally covered it with tape and plastic that took five minutes. It fixed the problem but I still can't believe it took constant phone calls to the front desk to get them to do that. You could also smell the odor in other parts of the ship but not as strong as our balcony. If Holland would have fixed the problem when it occurred I would have been fine. Like I say it took 12 days. Sour note on the trip. Lost a lot confidence in Holland America. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Firstly, we had an amazing 34 night voyage. The crew and friends we made were the best part of the trip. The dining room, restaurants, shops, bars, casino and all of the staff working in these areas were wonderful and we wouldn't change ... Read More
Firstly, we had an amazing 34 night voyage. The crew and friends we made were the best part of the trip. The dining room, restaurants, shops, bars, casino and all of the staff working in these areas were wonderful and we wouldn't change very much at all. Our cabin was excellent, although the Neptune Suite on the Noordam is no better or worse than the Owners Suite on Royal Caribbean ships we have cruised on. The food on HAL was generally better than on RCI The wine list on RCI is better The entertainment was on a par, as was the casino, although the Texas Hold-em was an electronic game not a real dealer. There were a couple of things that we found disappointing. The on-board singers and dancers could have been a lot better. The disembarkation process for suite guests could have been much better. Despite having priority we were still faced with long queues. The ship board activities were almost non-existent. This wasn't such a big issue for a long cruise as we made lots of new friends and found ways to amuse ourselves. I'd be unlikely to take a shorter cruise (2 weeks or less) with HAL. Other than the sail-away party, there were no on-deck activities either during the day or in the evening. America's Test Kitchen was very disappointing. It seemed to be focussed on people who had never cooked before. The nightclub was deserted on every night. I was told they plan to move this when the ship gets refurbished. This will be a good thing. Only BB Kings and the Piano bar had any signs of life after 9pm in the evenings. The Cruise Director and staff only seemed to appear once each day - during the morning Coffee Chat. Not sure what they did for the rest of the day, but we didn't see them. On the whole, we had a great time, and next time we consider a longer cruise we'll definitely look at HAL, though probably not the Noordam. For any cruise up to 3 weeks in length, we won't be looking at Holland America. My wife and I are in our early 50's, so maybe this isn't the cruise line for us yet. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I took this cruise because I wanted to see parts of Australia I hadn’t seen previously and this itinerary fit the bill. I thoroughly enjoyed the ports of call and the shore excursions were among the best I’ve ever had. What ... Read More
I took this cruise because I wanted to see parts of Australia I hadn’t seen previously and this itinerary fit the bill. I thoroughly enjoyed the ports of call and the shore excursions were among the best I’ve ever had. What brings down the overall rating of the cruise is the ship itself. The ship has maintenance issues that impacted my cabin in a major way. My cabin is in the back of the ship and it turns out that many cabins in the back of the ship are hot. Thermostats in those staterooms don’t work and in many cases reports of problems with cabin temperature don’t bring relief. The temperature of my cabin did improve after maintenance workers made adjustments. A much bigger problem in my cabin was banging and sawing noise from ongoing maintenance on upper decks. My complaints did not alleviate the problem immediately. It took repeated complaints over three weeks and recording of the noise on my iPad before the noise abated. I talked with other passengers in other parts of the ship with noise complaints. Apparently maintenance noise impacted different regions of the ship at different times throughout the cruise. Food quality was spotty. I was impressed with the quality of breakfast in the dining room and dinner entrees were generally good although the menu tended to be repetitive. The dessert menu at dinner was particularly uninspired with both a fruit plate and a fruit and cheese plate (filler?) on the menu every night. Kudos to the Maasdam on the coffee...it was excellent! Service was very good, as is the standard for HAL. Stateroom attendandts and waiters have been delightful on all HAL cruises I have taken and this ship is no exception. In summary, HAL once again produces a great itinerary with excellent shore excursions. Unfortunately, I was left feeling that I had an enjoyable cruise experience IN SPITE OF THE MAASDAM RATHER THAN BECAUSE OF THE MAASDAM. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
MAASDAM – SOUTH PACIFIC CROSSING – 27 Sept to 21 Oct 2017 Embarkation and disembarkation: We arrived at the dock at around 11.30 a.m. and we were in our cabin within 20 minutes which was just incredible. Everything was ... Read More
MAASDAM – SOUTH PACIFIC CROSSING – 27 Sept to 21 Oct 2017 Embarkation and disembarkation: We arrived at the dock at around 11.30 a.m. and we were in our cabin within 20 minutes which was just incredible. Everything was so smooth and organised thanks to completion of all documentation on line prior to the cruise. Service was smooth and efficient and we were not entitled to any priority boarding. Disembarkation was equally smooth – we expected a bun fight to get off the ship, but again this was extremely well organised and we were through customs and immigration and onto our coach to the Airport for transfers within 30 minutes. Could not fault any of it. Stateroom: We were in Stateroom 063 a vista suite on the Navigation deck. The cabin was clean and comfortable and had lots of storage in two double sized wardrobes with dozens of hangers, 13 good sized drawers (including two each side of the bed) and two shelves as well as a dressing table and fridge which was set up as a mini-bar. The balcony was a good size and the stateroom felt spacious and we did not feel crowded at any time. We do not usually have room service for breakfast or any other meals so cannot comment on that but our steward was one of the best we have ever had. We were just to the rear of the Aft elevators and we had no noise whatsoever from any quarter. The cabin was very convenient for the Seaview pool and deck and just one flight of stairs from the Lido deck so very close to most things. Our bathroom was cosy with just one vanity with two small shelves on the wall and a large shelf underneath that ran all the way along so plenty of space for all your toiletries. The bath was quite deep with a good shower overhead and there were plenty of grab rails and a non-slip mat for inside the bath so there is little chance of slipping if you take usual care. Toiletries were Elemis in dispenser bottles. Shampoo, Shower Gel and Condition in the bath area and body lotion and tissues on the vanity. Laundry Package We took the unlimited laundry package at just $7.00 per day and found it to be excellent value and great service. I put the laundry on the bed each evening as we went out to dinner and it was all back freshly laundered (and nicely folded or on hangers depending on the garment) by lunch time the next day. We had no problems with anything being damaged or buttons missing etc. Just great service Ship We just loved this grand old lady. Yes, she is showing signs of age around the outside with some rust spots in places, but she is extremely well maintained and the interior is just beautiful understated elegance. We saw no evidence of leaks or problems at all and would not hesitate to sail on her again. Beverage Package We tool the Signature Beverage package and by pre-cooking prior to boarding this cost us $45.00 per day for each of us. This package now included all the “Quench” package items as well so all soft drinks, bottled waters, Pellegrino sparkling water, mocktails, Explorations Café Coffees etc as well as 15 alcoholic drinks so superb value. We didn’t do anything like the 15 but still felt we had value for money. A couple of beers in the afternoon, cocktail before dinner, wine with dinner and a few drinks in the Piano Bar after the show and it soon mounts up. We got our water, sparkling water and any other soft drinks in the Lido Bar before going back to our cabin to shower and change for dinner. (We asked our steward to arrange for our mini bar fridge to be emptied so we had lots of space for everything we took back – you need to be organised and make the most of y our package) The limit on drinks is up to $9.00 which covered just about everything, including a good choice of wines by the glass and brandies and good quality spirits. Unless you want 5 star cognac and obscure single malts it is more than adequate and certainly covered our needs without any problems. If you don’t want to take the beverage package there are lots of Happy Hours to take advantage of (these are not included on the package). There is Happy Hour each afternoon from 4 until 5 in the Ocean Bar and also the Crow’s Nest. You buy one drink at standard price and get a second of the same drink for just $2.00. This deal is offered again in the Crow’s Nest each evening from 9 p.m. until 10.00 p.m. At 5 p.m. each afternoon there is also Sip and Savour which includes the appetisers of the day and a glass of wine for just $4.00 and then at 6 p.m.in the Mix Martini Bar there are $4.00 Martinis until 7 p.m. In addition there are often drinks of the day around the Lido Pool at discounted prices from 2 until 5 in the afternoons. We thought that in general the drinks prices were very reasonable whether you chose to take a package or not. Dining The food in general was excellent and some of the best we have had on any cruise. We had breakfast in the Lido Market each morning and if you time it right (might need to check it out over a couple of days) you can avoid any queues an get your eggs fresh without a wait. We usually just snack at lunch time so always had plenty of choice in the Lido with their wide range of sandwiches, cheeses, sushi etc as well as a fully cooked lunch. Great desserts and ice creams too. My husband had a couple of burgers from the Dive-In and he said they were really good – they were certainly fresh and looked appetising as he brought them to the table. We ate in the MDR each evening on Any Time dining rather than fixed sittings. We usually went to dinner around 8 p.m. and there was never a wait. Sometimes we had a table for two and at other times we chose to share with others. The service was always excellent with an average dining time of around 1 hour 15 minutes. The food was hot and fresh, the menus varied and interesting with a different one each night of the 23 nights on board. There were 4 Gala Evenings during our cruise and the Gala Dinners were great. Some individual items were repeated throughout the cruise but no two menus were the same so always lots of choice. Usually we eat in the Pinnacle Grill and Canaletto a couple of times during a cruise but we just didn’t feel we needed to. We had great steaks, beautifully cooked fish, Alaskan Crab and Lobster tails on top of a filet mignon in the MDR so didn’t feel we needed to pay extra for anything. There were two Cellar Master’s Dinners and two Evenings of Le Cirque in the Pinnacle on this cruise and all seemed to be well attended. Bars & Nightclub There are a few bars to choose from with the Ocean Bar and the Mix being the most popular. The Ocean Trio were great and played good music for dancing each evening. The Mix hosted Trivia from 7 until 7.30 and was always busy following on from the $4 Martini Specials. The Piano Bar usually got lively after 9 p.m. and played on until around midnight of just after. Always good entertainment. The Crow’s Nest was really good when the Band were playing and Karen, the vocalist, was exceptional and took the time to wander around during their break between 10 and 10.30 to ask for any requests etc. Unfortunately on our cruise no-one seems to stay around up in the Crow’s Nest much after 11.00 or so which was a shame considering how good the group were. Shows & Presentations The shows were excellent and offered a great variety. From very interesting talks and presentations in the afternoons to full on shows in the evenings. The Maasdam Singers & Dancers were really good and their shows were always very entertaining. Others included singers, musicians, comedians, impressionists etc. so lots of variety to suit all tastes. We are not into classical music but the musicians in Adagio each evening were always well supported and the area was mostly full as we passed by each evening. Those we talked to who loved their music said how good they were. General Overview We absolutely loved our cruise – we loved all the sea days especially which is why we chose this particular one. Our port days, though few, were very enjoyable. Particularly Samoa and Dravuni Island in Fiji. We thought it was a very good itinerary overall and we will most certainly consider this cruise again. Just hope HAL doesn’t go into building big cruise ships. The Maasdam was wonderful and very easy to get around. Everything was convenient, it never felt crowded and there was always a comfy chair or a sun lounger available whenever you wanted one. Excellent service, great value for money, wonderful cruise. Nothing more to be said. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose this cruise because we love long lazy relocation cruises. This one did not disappoint us. San Diego is a great port and we explored the city over five days, prior to departure. Embarkation and disembarkation were seamless and ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we love long lazy relocation cruises. This one did not disappoint us. San Diego is a great port and we explored the city over five days, prior to departure. Embarkation and disembarkation were seamless and effortless. The Maasdam is an old ship, but has been maintained well. Our verandah cabin on deck ten was large, with plenty of storage and handy to the stern pool, the Lido and the dining room. Entertainment and activities provided were not brilliant, but enough to keep the Holland America demographic happy. Barry from Boston, the nightly entertainer in the piano bar was the highlight for us. Some of the ports of call are very small and without too much infrastructure for tourism. However, the snorkelling was very good! The staff on the Maasdam is excellent - especially our Cabin Steward - Victor - he was awesome! A throughly enjoyable 23 days....... Read Less
Sail Date: September 2017
My wife and I spent 42 days aboard the Noordam, a medium size cruiseship of Holland America Line for about 2000 passengers from Sept. 24 to Nov. 6, 2017. This was just trhe right time for us with pleasant temperatures throughout our ... Read More
My wife and I spent 42 days aboard the Noordam, a medium size cruiseship of Holland America Line for about 2000 passengers from Sept. 24 to Nov. 6, 2017. This was just trhe right time for us with pleasant temperatures throughout our cruise. Moderate autumn weather along the Canadian und US West Coast and the first sea days on our way to the Hawaiian islands, getting warmer and more sunny by the day, hot and more trpical from Hawaii to Fidji and New Caledonia and moderate again along the Australian East Coast, Tasmania and New Zealand. The Noordam is an older (built in 2006) but reasonably comfortable cruiseship with average size staterooms, many with balcony. The ship requires major renovation and refurbishing both at the ship level primarily with respect to the air condition and the sewage system as well as the cabins with often old furniture and worn out carpeting. What we particularly liked during our cruise was the first class service of all of the ship`s staff. Everybody who we met exceeded our high expectations. This relates particularly to the very friendly and helpful room stewards as well as the waiters and their assistants in the various restaurants and bars. The quality and selections of the food were generally good at the buffets on deck nine and excellent during dinner in the main dining rooms on decks two and three including lobster and filet mignon at no extra cost on special occasions i. their gala nights of which they had seven during our cruise. Another great service was their laundry service. We were charged US $ 248 for this service for the entire cruise and had all our laundry done within one day. This service was absolutely super and reliable. But there were also issues which we didn`t like i.e the extremely high charge for WiFi (US $ 0,75 per minute!!), no free drinking water in the cabin (roughly US $ 4.50 for 1.5 litres), very steep prices for shore excursions as well as limited time in most ports. While the Noordam offers excellent shore excursions at higher prices there are however plenty of opportunities to book personal and private tours at bargain prices in most ports in particular in New Zealand where we had longer times ashore. All in all we had a fun cruise and enjoyed our time on the Noordam. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I chose this cruise because after visiting the interior of Alaska and going to Skagway, I wanted to experience the Southeast and the Inside Passage. My primary criterion for the cruise was to visit to Glacier Bay on a one-way cruise. HAL ... Read More
I chose this cruise because after visiting the interior of Alaska and going to Skagway, I wanted to experience the Southeast and the Inside Passage. My primary criterion for the cruise was to visit to Glacier Bay on a one-way cruise. HAL met those requirements. That said, I was a little disappointed in parts of the cruise, especially the Lido buffet. The food was ok, but the started closing half of the lines with only half of the open time gone. Combining that with the fact that you could not serve yourself but had to be served by the staff, it created some longer-than-expected waits. I had read that the size of the servings was poor, but I did not find that to be the case. If I ever wanted more, all I had to do was ask. I actually had to stop them more from giving too much more often than asking for more. Now to the low-light of the cruise: The Pinnacle Grill. We had to take an 8:00 reservation on the last night of the cruise which might have influenced the service, but it was awful. It wasn't the wait staff; it was the kitchen. They couldn't get the food out in a reasonable time. It took about 20 minutes to get our entree after finishing the appetizer and then 15 minutes after that to get the dessert course. We ordered steak for one and halibut for the other and shared the two. The steak was ordered medium. It came out medium rare in places and very rare (almost raw) in others. We didn't dare send it back; we would have been there another two hours. The halibut I had was not even hot, just room temperature, and was no better than what I've had at other restaurants. All in all, I would recommend that you not waste your money on The Pinnacle. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
My wife and I were looking for a quick get-away. We booked our cruise five weeks before departure as a package. The booking process went smoothly and all arrangements turned out as described. The boarding at the Pier in Honolulu was ... Read More
My wife and I were looking for a quick get-away. We booked our cruise five weeks before departure as a package. The booking process went smoothly and all arrangements turned out as described. The boarding at the Pier in Honolulu was efficient as there were only about 300 people joining the ship at that time and our photos were on file from a previous cruise with HAL. Our veranda stateroom was on the 7th deck had ample storage space and the main room was spotless. There were, however signs of wear and tear on the furniture and the wallpaper. There was a musty odour in the bathroom that we expected would dissipate as the day progressed. When it did not go away, I mentioned it to the room attendant who promptly attacked it with a spray and poured something in the drains. The odour returned and we reported it to the front desk. Again, it was attended to, but to no effect. I suspected that there was a water leak behind the bathtub or in the floor area that required a more intensive approach. I need to note that when we mentioned it again to an attendant at customer service when we settled accounts, she did not seem to note our concern or to really care. We did this so that the problem could be seen to before the next occupant of the room was subject to the same odour problem. A second problem emerged as the cruise progressed from the heat of Hawaii to the cooler waters of the North Pacific. The air vent in the room continued to blow cold air in our faces as we lay in bed and the temperature in the room became quite uncomfortable. Adjusting the thermostat had no effect. Calling customer service had no effect. I finally went down in person to voice my concern and a maintenance attendant soon appeared to adjust the fan and the thermostat. We did get some warm air for a few hours and then the unit returned to blowing cold air over us. Again, when we mentioned the problem at the desk on check out, we were met with an apathetic response from the customer service representative. The public areas of the ship were generally clean and in good shape. We had the early seating in the main dining room. When we arrived at our assigned table on the first evening aboard we met four other passengers who had just embarked and were assigned to our table. Unfortunately we also encountered another couple who had been assigned to that particular table since New Zealand. It was embarrassingly obvious that they had expected to retain that seating for the whole voyage. They were accommodated elsewhere, but did not seem too pleased, and with good reason. Our servers at dinner were very attentive and pleasant. However this was not always the case for breakfast and lunch in the dining room, when we had different attendants. Some days it was great, other times we had long waits for food and really had to search for a second cup of coffee. My wife and I were not overly impressed with the food on board. Portion control was inconsistent and generally the meals were not up to the quality that we expect from this line. On the evening that we had surf and turf, the meat was barely recognizable as filet mignon and came very rare instead of the medium rare that we had ordered. The lobster tasted and appeared to be undercooked. We were not expecting the same quality of dining that could be found in the specialty restaurants, but do expect well-prepared food served at an appropriate temperature. The entertainment on the Noordam was at best, spotty. The B.B. King Band was the best show on board. They are very talented musicians who put tremendous energy in to each performance. Of the main stage acts, only one stood out: a pianist, who was skilled and who also put a lot of himself into his act. The others could be described as “lame”. (I thought that we were beyond “fat” and “drunk” jokes.) The one production show that was scheduled had to be cancelled because of a problem with a computer. It was rescheduled but at a very inconvenient time. Perhaps it was just us, but the other activities did not have much of an appeal – attending a lecture about the “Indians” of the northwest, playing very expensive Bingo, or learning to make poutine was not what we were looking for. Other cruises that we have been on seemed to have a better selection of shipboard activities that suited the ages and stages of their guests. My overall impression was that the ship and crew were tired. The cruise began in New Zealand, proceeded to Australia and then through the South Pacific to Hawaii where we embarked. At each major port, some passengers left and others came onboard. On cruises where the whole contingent of guests turns over at the start of the voyage there seems to be an energy and an striving to impress that permeates all departments. This is what I missed on this cruise. Given the right itinerary and value, we might choose to cruise with HAL again, but I would need to be convinced that the myriad of difficulties that we encountered would not be repeated. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
After several great HAL cruises we were surprised to find this one to be so disappointing. It’s clear that ongoing cutbacks are the order of the day now with HAL, along with a corresponding reduction in customer service. Starting ... Read More
After several great HAL cruises we were surprised to find this one to be so disappointing. It’s clear that ongoing cutbacks are the order of the day now with HAL, along with a corresponding reduction in customer service. Starting with the positive, embarkation was easy as so many passengers were staying on from the NZ cruise. However, we weren’t warned that once on board new passengers weren’t permitted to go off the ship again. No reason was given for this which seemed odd as the other passengers were free to come and go all day. We were pleased to see there was a Mariners lunch in the dining room – one of the few HAL traditions still surviving. We had a verandah cabin which was an adequate size with plenty of storage. However, it was quite shabby with peeling wallpaper, old furniture with the varnish worn right off the table and the cane unravelling off the balcony chairs. Also, a piece of trim had come off the desk and never been repaired leaving exposed bare chipboard. HAL styles itself as 5 star – well not with these cabins. We’ve had 2 star hotel rooms in better condition. For the first time, we found the bed uncomfortable. We’ve always loved HAL beds but this one was well ready for replacement with a hard ridge down the middle and sagging to the sides. I kept waking with sore shoulders from bracing when the ship rolled to stop sliding to the edge. The general condition of the ship was also poor. There was excessive engine noise at the back of the dining room to the point that you could hardly hear your dinner companions. Some parts of the dining room and other select areas of the ship were permanently very cold. Meanwhile in the Lido, there was water dripping from the ceiling throughout the cruise as well as rust apparent in some place. Our stewards were fine but we couldn’t say the same for the Front Desk and other staff. Many people were having issues on the cruise but the response was generally a denial of the problem followed by a statement that they couldn’t do anything about it. We were travelling with a group of people who had various problems. Our toilet malfunctioned on and off during the cruise, with a minor flood one evening that fortunately was taken care of. There were similar toilet malfunctions all over the ship with some out of service in the public areas. Another cabin had inadequate air-conditioning at night for nearly the whole cruise. After several days of denying there was a problem, the desk accepted there was but said nothing could be done. A request for a fan was refused as all the fans had already been given out because lots of other cabins had the same problem. After escalating the issue, a fan was finally produced but the measly $200 OBC in compensation offered by Seattle for sailing in the tropics with inadequate airconditioning for two weeks was insulting. We heard similar stories from other passengers. One couple in a noisy cabin with bad vibration told us about the run around they got each time they talked to the Front Desk. In a hotel, you’d just check out and move to another one but at sea the cruise lines know that you’re trapped and have no choice but to stay on in an unsatisfactory cabin. It was the same when someone’s headphones were damaged after being removed from an iPad. The Front Desk said there was no proof it was the stewards. Well, who else removed them and left them coiled on top? Nobody else had access to the cabin. I guess the stonewalling had the desired effect as you got to the point where it became too unpleasant to report problems when you just want to relax and enjoy yourself. We’ve always thought HAL had the best food but not so much any longer. The food was generally OK but standards have declined. Often the food had too much fat, salt or sugar. With the concerns about growing obesity, it’s time the cruise lines started serving more healthy options. For instance, hardly any vegetables were served with main dishes. There was definitely a reduction in quality with poorer cuts of meat being served. A pork chop is now a tough shoulder chop rather a than a loin chop and we were startled to find that a main dish of a shrimp salad contained just two shrimp. When we queried this we were told that was the how dish came! We ate once in the Pinnacle Grill and enjoyed our meal. However, when ordering the cheese plate instead of dessert, it was disappointing to be presented with the same plate with three miniscule pieces of cheese that’s served in the dining room. When you’re paying a hefty surcharge for the top restaurant on the ship you expect to get more than standard food from the dining room. The food in the Lido was generally good with the best being the Asian station, the pasta bar and particularly the salad bar which is excellent. However, Lido opening times are very limited and although advertised as closing at 2pm we often found stations running out of food and closing just after 1.30 pm. Dive In’s burgers and fries were great as usual. The free ice-cream was very welcome but the desserts were mostly the same very sweet items day after day. We were concerned there were no staff encouraging people to use the hand sanitisers so it was no surprise that we both got the bad chest complaint that everyone had. You could hear the hacking cough all over the ship and I still have it three weeks later. This was a cruise with few ports and lots of sea days. However, the entertainment offered was woefully inadequate. Beside the classical music in the Explorers Lounge there was little other music in the evenings. The Piano bar was popular but always full and the BB KIngs are way too loud to listen to in comfort. Dancing to music in the Crows Nest appears to be a thing of the past and no one was tempted by that dark hole called the Northern Lights. The shows were mostly of medicore quality with the exception of the marvellous and energetic Patrick McMahon. There were no special events - no BBQs or poolsie parties, no sailaway parties, no dessert extravaganza, no sporting competitions, etc, etc. We were looking forward to the Crossing the Equator event, remembering entertaining shows staged in the past. There was nothing like that. Instead guests were invited to jump in the aft pool in front of a poorly dressed King Neptune and get out again. There was hardly any participation by the officers, no presentation of crew pollywogs and their crimes, no amusing speeches or antics. We didn’t know if this was policy or if Jeremy Whitehead, the Cruise Director, just couldn’t be bothered organising a proper event. We suspect the latter as his efforts were pretty poor throughout the cruise. There were queues of people for the computer classes and Trivia was very popular as something (anything) to pass the time. Even then, the timing was absurd with Trivia being cleverly scheduled at 1pm and 7pm to clash with lunch and dinner. Even Food Trivia was held at 3pm to clash with afternoon tea. Not that the teas are the special occasions they used to be. No longer in the dining room, they’re now served in the limited quarters of the Ocean Bar so if you don’t get there very early, you miss out. And for the first time, I was refused the option of a fruit or herbal tea. There was just one tea poured – no choice -and not everyone drinks Indian tea. I was told this was a directive from Seattle which seemed inexplicable considering fruit teas are served in the Lido. And the wonderful Indonesian and Royal Dutch teas are also gone. It seems Seattle is determined to get rid of everything that guests used to enjoy. Back to the positive, we appreciated Happy Hour with the extra drink for $2 and the canapes. The laundry package is still good value although friends had two items of clothing damaged. Needless to say, once again, the ship refused to accept any responsibility. We were pleased to find that the Noordam still has a proper library and Explorations café on the Promenade deck. This area was very popular and always full of people. We also love the wrap around promenade decks on the older ships and regret the news that they are being reduced on the new ships. We enjoyed many aspects of the cruise but in retrospect, with so few port days, it was mostly plain boring and very disappointing. No doubt the cutbacks are set to continue with little thought for what guests actually want. HAL is clearly not interested in updating its fleet of poorly maintained, older ships, and fighting the Front Desk to be heard is not our idea of fun while on holiday. So, after many years of great cruises, we intend to go back to land-based vacations. Read Less
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