1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
My DH and I have always wanted to take an Alaskan cruise. This was our 6th cruise with HAL. We brought two teens with us. We spent a few days in Vancouver, BC before boarding the ship for our cruise. We really liked Vancouver - it's ... Read More
My DH and I have always wanted to take an Alaskan cruise. This was our 6th cruise with HAL. We brought two teens with us. We spent a few days in Vancouver, BC before boarding the ship for our cruise. We really liked Vancouver - it's such a clean city. We stayed at an AirB&B and it was great. Much cozier than an impersonal hotel and we had more room, too. I'll review that on Air B&B later. I rate from a 5 star and reduce based on several things. My review would have been a 3.5 star if possible but that wasn't available and I do not feel that bumping it up to 4 stars would be right so we went down to the 3 star. Embarkation and disembarkation were very smooth - HAL has this figured out - the only thing is wear comfortable shoes because there is a lot of walking involved on embarkation day. Now, lets talk about everything else: The ship overall is looking a little tired. Brass and fixtures that used to be shiny and bright are now somewhat dull, paint in places is worn off and things just look worn. This reduced the star rating by 1/2 to 3/4 of a star. The cabin, on the other hand was in good shape and the beds were comfortable. The cabin stewards did a great job. I can say that you rarely see them yet your room does get attention several times a day. I got the feeling that overall for the entire ship, the crew was not as large as it once was. It seems that the room stewards have more rooms to take care of then on previous cruises and this applies to the wait staff in the Lido and Dining rooms. I'll address that later. Perhaps steam cleaning the carpets in the cabins could be done at a better time. We have never encountered a cruise ship cleaning carpets in the cabins while we were on the ship - my hubby ended up with wet sox from walking on the still wet carpet. I would think this would be done at the end of a cruise when peoples cloths and belongings are not out on the carpets. It just seemed an odd time to clean carpets - at least to us, otherwise he cabin was fine. Dining: The dining was good but not excellent. The service was okay but nowhere near as good as on prior cruises and this reduced my rating by a full star. On prior HAL cruises the food was almost always excellent - this time it was good to average. The dining room menu the the first night had selections on the left side of the menu that said they would be available every night but this turned out not to be true. One night was devoted to selections from up and coming chefs or winners of some kind of culinary competition. Most of it was not particularly appealing. Items were fancied up for fancies sake and not necessarily appealing to the average eater. Teenagers were not thrilled with some of the selections - if they didn't know what it was they weren't going to eat it. I can't say that the food in the dining room was any better than the Lido market. Sometimes steaks were cooked the way I like them (med-rare) and sometimes it was a crap shoot. Some steaks were beautiful, lean and easy to eat - other times you had to trim off parts and cut out gristle and other tough parts. By the end of the cruise the ship was out of a lot of food - it looked like Asian selections were way down, fruit was hard to find - our last smoothie had to be made with a mix and I was told they were out of strawberries and pineapple. Some items seemed old and dried out sort of like eating heated up left over roast which is now dry and chewy. The folks working in the dining room and the Lido Market really tried to take care of everyone but you could see they were very busy and never just standing around but getting service for refills or even first fills of things like iced tea and coffee was difficult. I was disappointed with the eating facilities we visited. Due to a stroke, my DH drinks his liquids through a straw yet some of the staff on the Lido told him they did not have straws available while others found him one quickly - this appears due to a lack of training on HAL's part. Entertainment was okay but we don't go to much of it because my DH has a hearing problem. We do love the Explorations Cafe for puzzles, games and coffee, and the Observation area (Crow's Nest?) for watching the glaciers and great views. The teenagers loved the Loft and spent a lot of time at the pool, playing ping-pong and chess with the giant chess set near the pool. This trip I avoided the Spa - their prices are just astronomical. $70 for a pedicure is crazy - especially when the going price in my neck of the woods is $25 for the same services. It seems like a lot of nickle and dime charges and very expensive charges for things. I'm thinking of trying a Viking cruise next time - they may be more expensive initially but they do include more - including one land tour at each stop. As for Port and shore excursions, we did one on our own - in Ketchican we hired a taxi for an hour ($75.00) to give us a tour of the town. The teens loved this - we stopped and saw some of the local flora and fawna - they got to pick and eat Salmon Berries which they loved and heard about other things the Indians used for food and medicine. We saw the town and met some people. It was a fun little tour before we went shopping in town. We also did the White Pass Train Ride in Skagway - that was fun and interesting but not as much fun for the kids - one slept the whole way - that was an expensive nap, trust me. That was not the fault of the cruise - it's hard to tell what kids will and won't like but it's hard when the zip line tour requires an adult to accompany the kids and the adult is 72 and not into zip lining so it's hard to find an excursion that everyone can do and enjoy. I'm not saying we didn't enjoy our trip - we did. I'm rating in comparison to other cruises and see a downward slope in the quality of services and and upward slant in increased costs. We do notice this stuff and it does cause us to think about taking our business elsewhere. We have booked 2 back to back cruises totaling about 51 days for next fall and are seriously considering looking at other cruise lines to see if we want to change this - I don't know if this was a fluke in the dining and service and do I want to do this for 51 days in a row? Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
We have previously cruised with Holland America, and like them overall. Their mid-size ships are better (in my opinion) than the larger ships with sooo many people. The clientele is generally adults and families. We had previously traveled ... Read More
We have previously cruised with Holland America, and like them overall. Their mid-size ships are better (in my opinion) than the larger ships with sooo many people. The clientele is generally adults and families. We had previously traveled to Alaska with HAL; we went back because the scenery is awesome and we wanted to do Denali this time. The Noordam has mostly balconies, and does not have the Lanai suites that are on some HAL ships. Though you don't spend lots of time in your room, it is nice to be able to step out on the balcony and enjoy the scenery from there. Hotel service is outstanding as is so typical on cruises: rooms made up twice daily including evening turndown, plus fun towel animals. Our stewards were awesome. We had a suite and it included a whirlpool tub and two sinks. I was blown away (in a good way) to find this on a ship. There are multiple food choices. I am partial to eating in the main dining room. On vacation, I don't want to have to collect my food in a cafeteria line; I would rather be served. Service at dinner was super. We had a fixed seating with the same two servers, and they got to know our tastes and preferences. Breakfast was still nice, but we didn't feel the service was as good. They came by immediately after you were seated and brought juice, coffee, water, and pastries, but sometimes it slowed down after that. Still, in a dining room, you're not looking for "fast food." We did breakfast in our room once, because we had an early tour. They were right on time and the order was accurate. Food tasted good though the toast was not hot. I don't know if this is something that just the Noordam did or if they have changed it across the line, but I loved how they handled tour meetings. In the past, we have had to go to a lounge, get stickers, and wait. On this trip, the meeting point was on shore, and it was up to us to get ourselves off the ship and find the person with the sign for our tour. This was definitely preferable to the other way. It gave us flexibility to get off earlier if we wanted to walk around before a tour, and/or buy a coffee, or whatever. The cruise line offered ample tour options in each port. We like the assurance that the ship will wait if we're late, so we generally book with the ship unless we want to sightsee on our own. Probably our highlight excursion on this trip was the whale-watching in Juneau. The company with whom they have contracted (Gasteau Guiding) uses boats that are specially designed for whale watching, and there are only about 20 people on board. They guarantee you will see a whale. We saw multiple whales; it was truly amazing. We had little interaction with the EXC tours staff because we booked our tours online in advance. All of our tickets were delivered to our stateroom, so there was no standing in line, which was great. On excursions, I would also highly recommend the hop on/hop off bus with luggage transfer for Vancouver if your flight arrangements permit. We had wanted to see Vancouver, and were afraid we would have to spend a night. But the flight that HAL arranged was a "red eye" that didn't leave until 11:00 p.m., so we had all day in Vancouver. They provided us special luggage tags on board for checking our bags with the hop on/hop off people, and those people were in the cruise terminal as we exited. It was a fairly smooth process to leave our bags with them and get started on the bus. Then we had all day to see Vancouver, hopping off and back on whenever we wanted. The ticket includes both the park route and the city route. When we were finished, we hopped on the "Sky Train" (ticket included in the excursion) and headed for the airport. At the airport, we picked up our luggage from the hop on/hop off people (pick up point a little tricky to find but worked out ok) and then checked in for our flight. The hotel where they put us in Anchorage prior to Denali had great staff but needs an update. The hotel staff were awesome but the contracted tour people in Anchorage (who handle transfer to the train and optional excursions) were not real helpful. We paid for a transfer from the airport to the hotel and they ended up putting us in a cab with a voucher. In hindsight, we would have paid far less to just get a cab ourselves. We also did a pre-trip to Denali, which I definitely recommend if you have the time and $. The train trip up is amazing - on a special Holland America train car with upper deck seating for all and restaurant on lower deck. There is a guide and a bartender who serves, in addition to adult beverages, coffees and other items. They run a tab, and during the last hour of the trip, bring you your bill and you settle with your credit card. Very convenient and efficient! The ship had a variety of activities. The asst. cruise director, Johann, was particularly visible as he ran trivia games and deejay-ed in the evening. The string group, now called "Lincoln Center," was very good and very popular - you had to arrive early to get a seat for their performances. The main stage shows were varied, with two Broadway-type shows on our 7-day cruise, plus a comedian, a magician, and a BBC Earth film of Alaska with musical accompaniment (this was GREAT!). We felt that music was too loud for the mainstage shows & probably damaged our hearing but the performers were good. The cruise director himself did not seem to be very present on the ship, at least to us. (Maybe we just didn't go to the right places to see him?) He did work to minimize announcements, which I appreciate. Embarkation at Seward was amazing. Maybe there were more crowded times, but we basically walked right up to an agent, who had everything ready, and we were on the ship within about 5 minutes. Disembarkation at Vancouver was also efficient. I love that they let you stay in your cabin now until you disembark, which made it more comfortable. Re-embarkation at that various ports was also pretty efficient and smooth, unlike another cruise line we have traveled on that has larger ships but just one magnetometer, so it takes forever to get back on the ship! It appears the Noordam was last re-fitted/upgraded in 2006, and there were some signs of wear, but the crew was also continually painting, repair, etc. to keep it in ship shape. Overall, we are satisfied and happy with this Holland America Cruise.Every ship can have little problems, but overall, things went well and we definitely plan to sail with them again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
We are first timers, so we were a bit apprehensive. However we thought ship was excellent esp. staff, service, food, and most of all the classical quintet in the Lincoln Center. Other plus points were the gym, quiet areas around ... Read More
We are first timers, so we were a bit apprehensive. However we thought ship was excellent esp. staff, service, food, and most of all the classical quintet in the Lincoln Center. Other plus points were the gym, quiet areas around ship, state of decor. The food and service in the MDR were top notch , including afternoon tea every day. The cabin service was very good, prompt and polite. A few negatives such as the show on the main stage which wasn't great, the rangers talks, the kitchen tour ( which was a very short walk through and a few words from the head chef). Overall the experience exceeded our expectations and we would recommend this ship. Although having said that we are first timers so we have no other cruise ships to compare this one with. We had room no. 5189 verandah deck at rear of ship and we were very happy with it . Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
Our group of six couldn't be more pleased. The stewards (room and dinner) treated us like Kings and Queens. The daily service was exceptional in every way besides be so helpful and friendly, but truly respectful. When we go on a cruise ... Read More
Our group of six couldn't be more pleased. The stewards (room and dinner) treated us like Kings and Queens. The daily service was exceptional in every way besides be so helpful and friendly, but truly respectful. When we go on a cruise again, I hope its this staff and crew. The ship was clean, the rooms always up to snuff. Oh the food, beyond our expectations. The dinner stewards that we had for our set dinner hour was top notch. Truly professional in all phases. Always there to please no matter what we asked, they provide without hesitation or difficulty. The set meals were four or five course dinners with all the trimmings served with the upmost standards anyone could accept. Our tour included several ports which were well organized with great organziation and throughput. We are truly amazed just how large Holland America line is. They of course have the ship line, sister line of Princes, along with all the land base hotels, were all owned by Holland America, which made every stop transparent and smooth going. No complaints there either. Just to notch in every since of comfort and price. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Second time cruising on HAL in Alaska (previously the Zaandam same itinerary). Booked a week out with "they pick your inside cabin" rate. Got 6022 which is forward inside and aligned parallel to the hallway. Solo traveler just ... Read More
Second time cruising on HAL in Alaska (previously the Zaandam same itinerary). Booked a week out with "they pick your inside cabin" rate. Got 6022 which is forward inside and aligned parallel to the hallway. Solo traveler just over 65, and fairly active. I chose HAL because they stop in Glacier Bay and Haines on this itinerary. I remember they had an excellent Room Service policy, should I need to take advantage (you can still order anything from the MDR dinner menu during the first hour of service). I also like the Explorations Cafe venue for the free snacks (and btw if you have a beverage card, the coffee drinks there are included, which is not the rule on the other lines which have Starbucks etc for the premium coffees). The cabin I found small but serviceable, except that for some reason I did not have a chair, just a stool that tucked under the desk. I believe if I had realized that I should also have a chair, I could have asked for one to be delivered. The storage was plentiful, and there were sufficient outlets. storage and desk space. Bedding was comfortable, all plumbing worked well and drained properly. No musty odors or issues with cleanliness. Room stewards were excellent as was room service. My first day I made a dinner reservation in the MDR for a table for 2 , which was available at 8pm. That was fine with me, with the long port days. If I was peckish, I would go grab a pre-dinner snack from Explorations or Lido. Service in the MDR (2nd level) also flawless, although the last night it was a little slow but the assistant steward apologized. I was remembered every night and given the same table by the host. I had fish every night except one. All fish was cooked "a point" as they say and the steak as requested medium rare. The waiters checked back on my satisfaction.As far as Lido, it was a bit of a cluster... the circulation is difficult and crowded and the double-sided layout broken up by the Italian restaurant is confusing. My approach was either to go very early, or to grab a few appetizer dishes and then go out to the back deck, if I couldn't get a table out of the circulation pattern... Note that it is permissible for a single person or two people to sit at a big table in the Lido.. you aren't mandated to sit near the coffee service. fortunately the weather was good during most of our cruise. I also kept a stash of plain yogurt, fruit and smoked salmon (in ziplock) in my room fridge. Made use of room service for coffee a few times in the early morning. They came promptly within 15 minutes. (Tip..buy or bring a large insulated travel mug). As an inside cabin passenger, public spaces are important. Noordam has some good ones, in addition to Explorations, the Crow's Nest has a good forward view and there are lots of interior cubbies with windows on Deck 2. I also like the full circuit covered Promenade on Deck 3 and that aft deck section. The aft deck on 9 was crowded with smokers and loungers and noisy with the pool users. It's a shame they kept closing down the small open platform in front of the gym on 9 as there isn't an equivalent space with clear visibility facing foreward that doesn't have smoked glass with the exception of the bow. I loved the BB King players, and the Lincoln Stage is good if that's your cup of tea. I thought one of the comedians was awful and walked out after 15 minutes, same with the staff production show (although I am not a fan of that type of entertainment). The Trivia contests run by the South African guy were fun . The "naturalist" also was hit or miss, enjoyed part of his presentation on using binoculars. Watched some of the BBC documentaries on the television during the at sea days. Fortunately there was a NPS naturalist doing a whale survey on the bow and he was a big help to those of us interested in bird spotting in Glacier Bay. Wish the captain had kept the bow open longer, there was really no reason to close it in the good weather and calm seas we had all the way out until the NPS staff were dropped off. I enjoyed the pea soup service and the Chocolate Surprise "swarm" was delightful. Wish I hadn't had dessert that night.. we should have been warned. Did not like the Tea service with the giant tables and limited choices. Was slightly disappointed in the kitchen tour..too fast vs the much better one of Royal Caribbean. The gym has a great view but is crowded. I didn't care for the one stretch class I took, or the constant pressure to buy something if you took a class. As a 5-time cruiser I know better than to go all of the art auction and gym sessions which are designed to sell, sell, sell. I also didn't buy any ship's tours. Pre-cruise I went on the $98 Resurrection Bay boat ride with Major Marine, where we saw bubble-netting humpbacks and a pod of Orca. Also did the train from Anchorage on my own ($108) and used the white shuttle to Mendenhall so I wasn't limited on time. Had time to visit the "SLAM" which is in the center of town and excellent. Haines I just walked over to Mud Bay and used the free town bus to the Brewery. Ketchikan I used the public bus to Totem Bight and Potlach Park. Embarkation in Seward took an hour. In Vancouver I walked off with my own luggage in about 10 minutes. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
This was our first trip to Alaska and first Cruise! HAL was recommended by our TA and we really enjoyed ourselves. Brought meds for motion sickness but only took it the first night when we were at sea. A little rocky but we did fine! ... Read More
This was our first trip to Alaska and first Cruise! HAL was recommended by our TA and we really enjoyed ourselves. Brought meds for motion sickness but only took it the first night when we were at sea. A little rocky but we did fine! Our room was very spacious, the attendants were very nice and quite efficient, room service was prompt, laundry service was good also. The 2 specialty restaurants were the best with the MDR coming in next. We were not impressed with the Buffett. Lots of time the food was cold and the variety got old after a couple days. Plus after 2pm half of the stations were closed so if you wanted a late lunch, you had to have what was available. This was our only complaint other than the lack of supervision of some of the kids onboard. We never spent time at the pool because it was so noisy. It wasn't that big of a problem because we found some quiet spots! We loved the Crows Nest, Americas Test Kitchen and our balcony! Trivia was fun! Glacier Bay was spectacular! We went to Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau and took the tram. Cloudy so we didn't see much. We toured around Haines and saw the Lumberjack show in Ketchikan. We also took a floatplane ride in Ketchican. Best part of the whole trip! Sunny so we could see everything! Gorgeous! I was a little nervous about going but I loved it We have no other ship to compare the Noordam to so it was quite fine for us. Liked the fact that it was smaller with less people. Everyone was very nice and HAL was well organized! We had perfect weather for our whole trip! A little rain in the afternoon at Mendenhal and that was about it. Drizzle when we came back from the Tram. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
The food in both the dining room and on the lido deck was excellent and always presented beautifully. Service was excellent. The ship was sparkling clean everywhere we went. I would highly recommend this ship. We liked our room with a ... Read More
The food in both the dining room and on the lido deck was excellent and always presented beautifully. Service was excellent. The ship was sparkling clean everywhere we went. I would highly recommend this ship. We liked our room with a veranda. It was not near the elevator, which is good. You don't want a room in the open hall by the elevators because when people get off the elevator they talk loudly and wake you up. We played a lot of trivia, which was fun, but the competition was stiff. We also liked America's Test Kitchen. This cruise was on the inside passage in Alaska, from Seward to Vancouver. The scenery was beautiful and we loved the stops in Haines, Juneau and Ketchikan. We went for a whale-watching day trip in Seward before the cruise and were not disappointed. We saw orcas, humpbacks, sea otters, seals, sea lions, and bald eagles. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
The good: * Neptune Suite was spacious with sufficient storage area and was well maintained and clean. *. The staff were professional and friendly The Bad: * Entertainment options were significantly lacking. When there are ... Read More
The good: * Neptune Suite was spacious with sufficient storage area and was well maintained and clean. *. The staff were professional and friendly The Bad: * Entertainment options were significantly lacking. When there are was a show, the venue could not accommodate the guests. Really disappointed with lack of entertainment options. With 2 or 3 days out to sea, you’d really think they would have a few shows to attend. Other than the scenic views we were bored. *. The food was terrible. We believe the chef staff was on vacation. The menu also lacked options. Something simple like pizza was flavorless and like cardboard. The other problem was that because the food was so bad all of the paid restaurants were fully booked after day one for the remainder of the cruise. So we could t even pay the $50 per person dinner rate to get a decent meal. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
Experienced a wonderful vacation trip on the Noordam 7- night cruise to Alaska via the Inside Passage. Really enjoyed spending the day/night in Vancouver pre-cruise. The Alaskan scenery was just jaw-dropping, humbling, and we really hit it ... Read More
Experienced a wonderful vacation trip on the Noordam 7- night cruise to Alaska via the Inside Passage. Really enjoyed spending the day/night in Vancouver pre-cruise. The Alaskan scenery was just jaw-dropping, humbling, and we really hit it well for the weather. The cruise was definitely tilted towards older cruisers. My wife and I are on either side of 60 and we were completely comfortable. Food was excellent throughout. But the real difference makers were the Holland America staff. Without exception they were gracious, welcoming, helpful and seemed very genuine. Our only other cruise experience was with NCL in Hawaii -the experiences were completely, definitely at opposite ends of the spectrum. We were able to do some exceptional port trips. In Ketchikan I took a float plane trip into Misty Fjords Nat Monument with Mountain Air. An experience I will remember forever. Great scenery and a wonderful day - landed on a mountain lake and saw a brown bear mom and cub - WOW! In Juneau we took a whale watching/glacier hike/ photo safari. I'd go again in a minute Gastineau Tours are total professionals and provided us a great day. In Skagway we took a river raft float trip on the Chikat River. Again a beautiful day and trip. Couple of pleasant surprises for us were how easy it was to embark/disembark absolutely no hassle, very organized. The free laundry service is an underpublicized perk - I could have packed a lot lighter. Bit of a throw-back experience in that we dressed for dinner 3 nights - very enjoyable. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
I chose this cruise because it was the only cruise to go to glacier bay. I felt the ship was classic. Perfect size to not get lost and interact with others. Our cabin and bathroom was larger than other ships. The specialty dining in ... Read More
I chose this cruise because it was the only cruise to go to glacier bay. I felt the ship was classic. Perfect size to not get lost and interact with others. Our cabin and bathroom was larger than other ships. The specialty dining in pinnacle and the Italian were extraordinary. The dining room and vista lounge food was very good and service excellent. We had a beverage package which was good but wine choices were limited. The entertainment in the B.B. king lounge was the best talent ever. We went to every show every night. The other shows were mediocre. The comedian was funny but the ship performance was boring. A bit of variety in the dance would have made it a bit better. The excursions were ok and ports terrific. I traveled with r couples of family and friends. There were a few children on the ship but cloud was older which was what I liked. The test kitchen was a great contribution to the cruise. Read Less
Noordam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.9
Family 2.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 3.0 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.3

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