72 Holland America Noordam Cruise Reviews

We got our 100-day medallions on that cruise. We were celebrating my wife's 75th birthday. The food was inferior to all of our other cruises. The meals in the Lido buffet were inferior (mostly funky foreign dishes). Nobody knows how ... Read More
We got our 100-day medallions on that cruise. We were celebrating my wife's 75th birthday. The food was inferior to all of our other cruises. The meals in the Lido buffet were inferior (mostly funky foreign dishes). Nobody knows how to cook short ribs even though they were served three different times and never were they short ribs. The turkey was liked pressed meat. Never got escargot; a favorite for years. Steaks were hard as nails and filets were below par. I could go on and on! The only good meals were in the Pinnacle Grill where we ate twice. Breakfast was the only reliable good meal as well as the hot dogs and hamburgers at the outside grill for lunch. VERY DISSAPOINTING. But the final straw was when the cruise excursion group cheated us out of more than $100 buy not giving us the same opportunity as others to cancel an excursion when we arrived late in port. When we disembarked, we were told to wait off on the side until 3:00 pm. Apparently shortly thereafter, they were informing people that they had an option to cancel. At 3:00 pm, the 12-14 of us who were not informed showed up for an excursion that missed a few places because it had to be cut short because of darkness. We got back in total darkness at the time the ship was scheduled to depart. We were running for the gang plank and my wife who has COPD was almost falling down and crying. She was so upset that we skipped dinner. I confronted the excursion manager the next day he provide a small rebate after a heated discussion. I then attempted to contact the hotel manager at the front desk and the feedback the next day was that he would not see me and that the excursion manager had already handled it! That's not the way to treat Mariners. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Well here is the scoop on Holland America. Our family of three, two adults and a now 13 year old teen we have traveled on Holland America three times now. In the interim period we have cruised on Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises. We ... Read More
Well here is the scoop on Holland America. Our family of three, two adults and a now 13 year old teen we have traveled on Holland America three times now. In the interim period we have cruised on Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises. We selected the 10 day cruise at least partially over the Thanksgiving school break and the destinations that appealed to us. What we can tell you that is not opinion is that Holland America has reduced the crew to passenger ratio, adding 2-4 rooms additional to room stewards and additional tables to the restaurant servers. There is no question that there is a distinct decrease in the level of service. The room stewards no longer take the time to learn your name, same in the dining room, they are always in a rush (a few exceptions). Now to give the good, we had a mini suite which provide much appreciated additional room, decent beds and a good sized balcony. The ship had undergone a recent refit and was in good repair and well maintained. Sit down dining room food was generally good with a decent menu selection. Did the Pinnacle Grill one evening with a very nice menu and good food except for one over cooked steak. Service around the ship was OK but not particularly enthusiastic, one of the front desk girls was not particularly friendly. The dancers and singers were decent in the one show we watched. Now the bad, Holland America has a reputation for catering to the older crowd, but they have made an attempt to provide services for families, and offer the usual casino and dance room, but lets define "old" now I am in my sixties so many of you would consider me "older" but you would be wrong on Holland America. I have never seen so many walkers, scooters, wheelchairs, walking canes WOW!! It would be my guess that the average age on the Noordam was about 75. So why is this a problem? My 13 year old son was the ONLY teenager on the ship, there were 7 other children on board. They had three HAL club staff, maximum in the kids club at any one time was 3. So my son played video games by himself. Another problem was the entertainment, bad comedy, bad singer doing Rat Pack songs (this is a stage show?), bad house band, bad dance bands. All this entertainment was geared to the 75+ crowd. Nine o'clock you could fire a canon down the deck and not hit a single person unless there was a bingo game on! Days at sea were just plain painful, had to go work on the puzzle with the old gals to keep occupied and then go watch a movie in our room. Note there was no entertainment in the lounge 4 of the 10 nights including the last evening at sea. We had some great ports of call and enjoyed our time ashore. So the review runs this way, if you are really old (over 70) go you will have a great time. If you are young (under 70) or if you have children go on Princess or Royal Caribbean you'll have a much better time. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
This was our fourth cruise with Holland America and it was extremely disappointing. 1) We were told we were upgraded to cabin 8026. If this was an upgrade, I would truly hate to think what our other cabin would have been. When I made our ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise with Holland America and it was extremely disappointing. 1) We were told we were upgraded to cabin 8026. If this was an upgrade, I would truly hate to think what our other cabin would have been. When I made our reservations, I specifically asked for a midship verandah cabin as my husband has difficulty with long walks. Well we ended up on the 8th floor, very close to the bow of the ship. Hardly close to being midship. 2) When we boarded in Barcelona it was quite warm. We went to our cabin to discover the air conditioning wasn't working. We made a call to the front desk and they did send someone up. They asked us to give it 4 hours as the a/c had been turned off. Four hours later we called again to tell them it was no better and probably worse. They sent someone up with a digital thermometer and agreed it was no better. We asked to change cabins and were told none were available. They sent a fan and told us to keep our drapes drawn. My response was that I paid for a verandah to see it, not close it off! For 11 days we had a noisy fan acting as our a/c. We called repeatedly and they did send an engineer and he made an adjustment that helped a slight bit. I will say the Front Desk staff were very pleasant and understanding, but they couldn't do anything to fix the problem. 3) The next major problem was the hot water in the bathroom. It was scalding hot! You would adjust it to a moderate temperature and never knew when it would go back to scalding. When you took a shower, you hoped you wouldn't be boiled before you could finish. This is a very dangerous situation. Nothing was done. I was told that it was a problem while in port, but since most days we were in port, it was a real problem. 4) A very strong mildew/mold smell in the bathroom. I had the room stewards pour bleach down the drain and it did help for a day or so, but kept coming back. Disgusting! 5) It was our 50th Wedding Anniversary and 2 months before boarding I booked the Pinnacle for our anniversary. When we arrived at the Pinnacle, we were told our reservations had been cancelled by PMG...have no idea who that was, certainly no one we knew. Fortunately, it wasn't very crowded and Andrew, the Pinnacle captain was able to accommodate us for dinner. 6) We paid HAL $79 for a transfer ride to Rome airport. Bus had ashtrays that were filled and overflowing with used tissues. DISGUSTING!!! In spite of the Noordam, we had a wonderful cruise and will cherish the memories from the various ports we visited. Throughout the ship, we heard numerous complaints about the Noordam and the downgrade of level of service we have come to expect from HAL....this from seasoned HAL cruisers. We were issued a credit, but frankly it didn't come close to what an interior cabin vs a verandah cabin would cost and since we had to keep the drapes drawn it might as well have been an interior cabin.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
I believe most everyone looks forward to an enjoyable, relaxing and fun cruise as soon as they have decided on a cruise line, a ship, its itinerary and booked it. Then, if a situation arises on ship that's unacceptable or unpleasant ... Read More
I believe most everyone looks forward to an enjoyable, relaxing and fun cruise as soon as they have decided on a cruise line, a ship, its itinerary and booked it. Then, if a situation arises on ship that's unacceptable or unpleasant you do your best to remedy it and expect some satisfaction from staff to fix the problem. Two satisfying previous cruises on Holland America's ships Amsterdam (The World Tour) and Volendam brought us back to select Holland America for our next cruise. Wow - what we didn't expect was staff and service on the Noordam to be unprofessional, poorly trained, rude and frankly uncooperative to remedy concerns and complaints as follows: 1. Cabin Privacy: was violated when a staff person entered our cabin while my wife was taking a shower to remove the breakfast tray. I was outside on deck #3's walking exercise track. We did not telephone #92 to have it removed. I reported it and requested the hotel manager investigate to find out who came into the cabin to remove our breakfast tray to insure there isn't a recurrence. No response. 2. Our inside cabin 7025 had a single chair. No couch. Where are 2 passengers supposed to sit to have in-room food service like breakfast and watch TV? This cabin was suitable for one passenger. The first day of the cruise - August 26, 2013 in Istanbul we requested a cabin change to an another inside cabin with a couch. We were told the ship was booked solid. None available. Maybe when the ship docks in Athens. No follow-up from Reception Staff after the ship left Athens. So, I followed up only to be told again the ship is booked solid. My wife met another passenger in an inside cabin 6027 who had a problem. She was moved to another cabin with a couch shortly after departing Athens. 3. Our dining room table for 2 - #67 was poorly located adjacent to a pole that created a situation where the table and chairs were sticking out in the aisle leaving little space between the next table for 6 and us. So, we requested a table change the first day of the cruise. No follow-up. We inquired again when the ship docked in Athens. 2-days later we were assigned a table for 2 next to a noisy waiters station. 4. DVD movies - nothing current in stock. Ship's staff is good at timely delivery of movies to your cabin. Most are badly scratched and dirty. Also, they aren't cleaned. We had a maintenance service repair 3 times for our DVD player. A staff maintenance person told us DVD's are not cleaned after they are used but should always be. We were mislead by reception staff telling us that the movies we requested James Bond: From Russia With Love and Jaws were not available. They accepted a reserve for the 2 movies. No follow-up. So, we telephone ext. #90 and after asking if the DVD movies are being held by another passenger beyond the allotted time, we were told the 2 movies are missing and were never returned from a prior cruise. 5. LIDO DECK self-service cafeteria hot food staff poorly trained and at times rude. 6. Security Staff rude when leaving ship at port calls and especially when returning by rushing you and pulling your small hand held complimentary Holland America tote bag from your hands to put on the conveyor belt for scanning. Many times our personal itmes came out of the tote bag on the belt. 7. Cabin cleaning was very good although hand washing bar soap was hardly replaced (twice during a 22-day cruise). One day we returned from a shore excursion in the evening to find our room wasn't cleaned. We left the ship at 8:30 a.m. and we did not put the privacy card in the outside door slot. The cabin steward apologized. 8. Safety hazard: the passenger in cabin #7033 across the hallway from our cabin placed their tray with dishes, glasses, table ware, etc. in the hallway outside their cabin creating a safety hazard against ship's policy. Six separate telephone calls to Reception Staff at ext. #90 and to the Dining Room Manager at ext. #92 reporting the safety hazard after my wife accidentally stepped into the full tray of dishes and galsses, did not resolve the problem. The staff claimed they contacted the passenger about it. However, it continued for 20 days before it finally ended. 9. HOTEL MANAGER refused to meet with us about our cabin privacy, cabin change and dining room concerns in addition to some suggestions we had concerning the DVD movies, in-room food service delivery and rudeness by some of his staff. All of our attempts to for the ship's staff to remedy or fix our concerns were mostly ignored. This isn't professionalism nor would it be tolerated in a Intercontinental, Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, and even a Days Inn. We were able to rate the Noordam accordingly comparing it to The Amsterdam and The Volendam ships we cruised on. Therefore, no gold standard for The Noordam and its Hotel Manager. Our rating = Poor and Unacceptable Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
It may be un fortunate that this review is on a HAL cruise immediately after we completed one with Azamara - the comparison was not positive for Holland America and our Noordam cruise. Having cruised Panama Canal and South America in ... Read More
It may be un fortunate that this review is on a HAL cruise immediately after we completed one with Azamara - the comparison was not positive for Holland America and our Noordam cruise. Having cruised Panama Canal and South America in Veendam last year we knew basically what to expect with Holland America. Azamara Club Cruises was a new experience. The score? Azamara Journey Spice Route 10, Noordam Ancient Mysteries 6.There is no doubt that those who cruise to enjoy the cruise experience and the cultural aspects of places visited are better suited to a smaller ship rather than the glitz and glamour, all you can eat, on-board entertainment activities of the larger ones. Noordam is larger, it had the spit and polish, bigger showroom, larger casino, more bingo sessions but never the phrase "bigger is not necessarily better' been more apt.The positives? Embarkation at Athens was seamless and painless. Our dining and beverage stewards were wonderful. Excursions were well organised and the ship's overall appearance was as you'd expect. Some negatives: The hard sell. The first thing we were handed as we boarded the Noordam was a flyer on the spa and it's "special" offers along with some raffle tickets, not only for the spa but also the ship's shop (of course you had to attend at particular times to see if you won and when you didn't you were expected to buy something. Then there were the endless announcements and brochures, pamphlets etc about wine tasting (at a price), cocktail mixing (at a price), the art auctions, the cruise photos and DVDs, the tacky souvenir and other "cheapies" at special times in the shop and at others on the pool deck. Even the short but interesting look through the ship's kitchen ended at the specialty restaurant where you were urged to make a booking. It never stopped and became annoying.The Lido buffet: Long lines, constantly running out of food and other items (after lining up to self serve coffee or tea only to find out there were no mugs, the machine had broken down (again) and there was no milk anyhow and no one was around to care or do something about it). We eventually gave up the Lido and ate breakfast in the dining room.Food quality in the Lido not up to what we had experienced on our other cruises. In the main dining room the standard initially was good but seemed to drop in quality as the cruise progressed.Themed shows were good and the guest entertainers, apart from one - a so called comedian who was heckled from the floor before most of the audience left - were good but the cruise director was wooden and lacked personality.Clearly the bottom line is everything and HAL must be hurting . The ship seemed to be understaffed, there were shortages, there were noticeable short cuts and there was the "hard sell". The poor staff whose work loads were heavy were also under pressure and in fear of losing their jobs. It became embarrassing for them to virtually beg to be given a 9 rating and then for the cruise director in his disembarkation talk spend five minutes appealing for survey returns and the importance of 9s.And to top it all off, the morning of disembarkation when we got our on board account there was a note that as we had not specified how we would pay our account our disembarkation would be delayed until this was rectified. Thinking this strange as the account had my masked out credit card number at the top and knowing that we had signed the appropriate forms I went to the front office to "sort it out". After waiting in line for 20 minutes I was told "No sir- everything on your account is OK. That appears on all accounts!!!!" Knowing for a fact it didn't as we had a friend whose account had nothing of the sort my comment to the desk person was "That's another reason why we are very unlikely to ever travel Holland America again". That still stands. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
My husband and I chose this particular cruise for the itinerary. Although we had visited some ports on other voyages, there were a few we wished to see. The ship is imposing and grand looking from its dock and I cannot fault the food; it ... Read More
My husband and I chose this particular cruise for the itinerary. Although we had visited some ports on other voyages, there were a few we wished to see. The ship is imposing and grand looking from its dock and I cannot fault the food; it was very good. From there it goes downhill fast. As we unpacked in our cabin, we opened our bedside tables to find 30+ candies and receipts from the previous traveler. The cabin looked shabby and not well kept; needs either some new upholstery or cleaning. The veranda deck looked as though it had never been cleaned. The public rooms were virtually empty either because most were ill (more about that later) or bcause the rooms are far from inviting. Instead being cold and austere. The dining room wait staff was poorly trained and either had not served aboard a ship or were new and not very knowledgeable. Cleanliness is a big minus on this ship. At breakfast one morning alone we had to have three water glasses and two coffee cups removed because they were dirty. It seems if you are short tableware including glasses or cups they are removed from a vacant table and placed in front of you. This is very unsanitary as one has no way of knowing who has touched this prior to your use. The Lido was an awful place to TRY and eat a meal. On some mornings with an early excursion we were forced to eat there. Without trays, trying to balance juice and coffee for two and then to get an entree. Well, before you even sat down everything was cold. We ate in LeCirque one evening. Small choices on the menu and not worth the price as the food in the dining room surpassed our dinner. The Noordam was a "sick ship". Although we had no knowledge of this, the ship had begun its journey in Egypt and traveled to other ports before our departure from Athens. Who knew that some awful Norwalk virus had made its way on this ship. Every day we were told by the captain that some more cases were reported and yes my husband was one of those. He thankfully recovered after 24 hours and was out of quarentine although others were not so lucky. At every restaurant and many public rooms a crew mamber would stand with his hand sanitizer bottle at the ready. Each passenger was given a bottle to use. When we reached Rome we were told to disembark whether we wanted to or not as a crew was boarding to try and sanitize the ship. None of these measures actually worked as more and more became ill. Some failed to report their sickness as we learned at breakfast one morning. A gentleman informed us he had had the Norwalk but treated himself with Immodium. This cruise probably should have limped into a port and been cancelled. By the end of the trip many were coughing and sneezing and went on their way with a virus. The cabin stewards were the friendliest and seemed to be the most efficient. The officers and other crew members seemed very cold, aloof especially those at the main desk. The shows were amateurish at best. The art auction was fun and the young ladies who assisted the auctioneer, Tanya and Michelle were outstanding in their friendliness. This ship, in my opinion lacks attention to detail that others of our experience have displayed. It also seems to operate on the premise that all is done for its convenience and not that of the passenger. Now, granted most lines may operate that way; economically sound. But, none in my experience has shown such a blatant disregard for the passengers well being. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This was our 3rd cruise on Holland, Alaska, Mexican Rivera, and now Caribbean. Two of the cruises I rate as poor and one (Alaska) very good. Pre Cruise Hotel: Arrived in Fort Lauderdale a day ahead of the cruise and stayed at the ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise on Holland, Alaska, Mexican Rivera, and now Caribbean. Two of the cruises I rate as poor and one (Alaska) very good. Pre Cruise Hotel: Arrived in Fort Lauderdale a day ahead of the cruise and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express near the cruise port. Hotel offered shuttle service to/from the airport at no charge. Room was adequate with free WI FI both in the room and common areas. Upon check in I was presented with a Priority Club Members welcome gift consisting of a snack, newspaper, 2 bottles of water and hotel and information about the surrounding area. Hotel is close to the cruise port and many restaurants, shops, Rx, and a Publix where you can purchase some wine. Highly recommend this hotel and advise one to sign up for the Priority Club for future benefits. In fact recommend you sign up for any hotel chains member programs. Upon arrival and after retrieving our baggage I contacted the hotel via the free phone in the baggage claim area. The shuttle driver arrived in about 20-30 minutes and promptly (excluding traffic congestion) delivered us to the hotel. Check in time is 3:00 PM but we arrived prior to that and were immediately checked in. A morning breakfast is furnished at no charge and is more than a continental breakfast with all you desire to eat an a selection of juices, breads, yogurt, scrambled eggs, bacon, hot and cold cereal and coffee, milk and tea. Shuttle service was available for a fee with 3 departure times. We opted for the 10:30 time, and sped off to the port. Embarkation: Upon arrival at the port our luggage was handed off to a porter with the exception of a small carryon. Check in was swift and then we headed off to the waiting area. We waited about 30-40 minutes before boarding just prior to noon. We immediately went to our stateroom to drop off our carryon tote and headed to the Lido deck for lunch. Stateroom: We normally choose an inboard stateroom and did so this time. Since we only spend time in the cabin to sleep, shower and change clothes an interior is normally adequate, especially when cruising in warm weather as we spend our days outside on the various decks. Our cabin was not assigned to us until about a week prior to the cruise and we were able to print our Holland luggage tags pre cruise, and attach them at the hotel prior to boarding the shuttle. The cabin 6015 was not as depicted on the website and was one of the smallest cabins in our 12 prior cruises. It was adequate but we found ourselves constantly getting in each others way when going to/from the bathroom or to the closets. A plus on the cabin was that it was very easy to find from day one, and close to the forward elevators. Stateroom Service: We met our cabin steward shortly after embarkation and our visit to the Lido restaurant. He introduced himself and provided a business card with his contact information. I requested two wine glasses and a bucket of ice to chill our wine. Neither of these was delivered until the 2nd day. The cabin had a small refrigerator so I emptied it and placed our wine to chill. Bathrobes were not furnished until day 3. Towels were large and adequate as were the bathroom supply of shampoo, conditioner and soap. Negative was how long it took to make up the cabin. This was not accomplished until early afternoon unless we requested by placing a request card in the door entrance lock. Ship: The size of the ship made it easy to find your way around without feeling like being in a maze. Maybe because we had a forward cabin we only had one option (aft) upon exiting an elevator. We would travel to the deck of choice and head aft to find anything and everything we needed (restaurants MDR and Lido) bars, library, purser desk etc. There was always an ample supply of clean beach towels and more than enough deck chairs on all areas except the immediate pool area. The ship was clean and well maintained with a few of the canvas awnings on the aft Lido deck and forward deck 10 that were torn or missing. Service/food: Lido and bars. The service met expectations with the bar servers and food servers in the Lido restaurant being very friendly and not pushing one to buy drinks. The food was for the most part adequate providing numerous selections. Two concerns: Asian food line: We enjoy sushi and it was not always at the Asian line. One day it was and another it was located by the cheese and fruit area. Lack of consistency was an inconvenience. Lido pool area Mexican buffet offered the same selections daily including salsa but no chips. If you wanted chips with the salsa you had to break up taco shells. Service/food: MDR: service and menu in the main dining room 2nd seating was subpar compared to other cruise lines and cruises. On day one our table of six made several requests for the week: A pre dinner plate of cheese and crackers, iced tea with dinner and coffee post dinner. The cheese plate was delivered 4 times and without crackers. Iced tea was sporadic and had to be requested as was the coffee. All table mates made the same comments about the menu selections: "I am having a difficult time finding something or I feel I am choosing the best of the worst items." We never once saw a wine steward during the entire cruise. One evening we experienced a long delay and shortage in food service. Per the matre d' this was due to the captain's reception. One would think that Holland should be better prepared as this was not the inaugural cruise for this ship. Disembarkation: This was very smooth with baggage tags supplied and an adequate number of customs stations to process departing passengers. Shuttle to the airport was again timely delivering us to the airport in plenty of time to catch our flight home. 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Sail Date December 2012
Here is the itinerary: Half Moon Cay, Samana DR, Grand Turk, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao. December 22 to Jan 2, 2011. We're a couple in our early 40's with one child who like to go and do rather than veg out with a book on cruises. ... Read More
Here is the itinerary: Half Moon Cay, Samana DR, Grand Turk, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao. December 22 to Jan 2, 2011. We're a couple in our early 40's with one child who like to go and do rather than veg out with a book on cruises. Here are the positive points that we found from our 2011 Holiday cruise with Holland America's Noordam: 1. the weather was great: sunny every day, only one day of rain on Aruba: one of those tropical downpours for about 20 min., then warm again. It was not scorching hot like the tropics in July or August, yet we were in shorts and tank tops the entire time. Warm enough for swimming, too. 2. The special dining Canalletto (included, not pay extra) had great food, great service, and the maitre d was really friendly and helpful. Once we found that place on day 2, we ditched the formal dining and ate either at the buffet or Canalletto every night. 3. the pool wasn't too cold and was fresh rather than salt water 4. the excursions we did were fun for adults and kids (daughter = 8 yrs. old)and worth the money: Bonaire (glassbottom boat), Curacao (island country tour), Aruba (submarine: the best by far! great!!). 5. Half Moon Cay, the company's private island was clean, well-laid out, and fun for adults and kids: a child's waterpark section, with slides into the ocean, floating mats that you could swim out to and were free to sit on. The beach was spotless, sand a fine powder, and you could wade out pretty far in clear water with no junk/shells/etc. on the bottom. I don't usually like beach days, but this one was fun and user friendly. 6. onboard the Noordam, there were plenty of handy restrooms and they never smelled like urine, as some public restrooms on some ships we've experienced. 7. our stateroom was cleaned very well and often by a friendly stateroom attendant, and we had everything we needed in a timely fashion. 8. in general, the ship was clean and we often saw crew cleaning, including on deck, at the buffet, everywhere. We never saw anything that I would call dirty. 9. at the buffet, for all three meals, for the entire cruise, there were always several choices to eat. The food was good, even sometimes delicious, but I wouldn't rave about it. I will write another review to discuss the negative points. Here are the negative points we noticed during our cruise: 1. The bar/drink service onboard was lousy. There were two problems: either you just couldn't get served, meaning no one ever approached us for a drink, or once you did get to place an order, it took 10 to 15 minutes (trust me, we timed it) to get a drink in your hand. We were astonished throughout the cruise, daytime, afternoons, evenings, bars, casino, pool deck, show, you name it, we were eternally frustrated that we couldn't get a drink onboard this ship. We noticed that at the Crow's Nest, the best place to get a drink, although the service was still extremely slow, people were ordering 2 drinks at a time. Yes, there were ``buy one get one for a dollar`` specials, but that didn't explain it. We saw the same ``2 drinks at a time`` action at other bars too. 2. There was scant table service at the breakfast buffet, unless you happened to be disabled/walker/scooter bound. I have to admit that the staff waited on those guests hand and foot, but for those of us who are used to being brought our coffee, water, juice, etc. in the mornings, we were left waiting because mostly it just didn't happen. We have been on other ships that within a day or two, the servers know you and automatically bring you what you want, but brother, don't expect that on this ship! Again, bad or no service was noticed. 3. Some problems on the pool deck. There are two pools: one in the middle for kids, and the sign says that, and one at the back for adults only. We have a child, so we spent almost every afternoon at the pool, but even though the weather was sunny and warm, the top was always closed, or just cracked, which means no sun and no breeze. We figured out that the older guests who were sitting right under the top didn't want direct sunlight, but in our opinion, this is a kids pool, so if someone doesn't want sun, they can move! It made it stuffy, loud from the echos, and it seemed like the municipal pool instead of an open pool on a cruiseship in beautiful weather. What I have described was a daily occurance, not a one shot deal. There were a few spas/whirlpools at the kids pool, and some older adults seemed grumpy when kids had the nerve to get in the kids pool spas. Can you imagine! We watched this closely and saw that the interaction between elder passengers and kids didn't seem to harmonize too well, and no, it wasn't because the kids were being pests or brats. Problem two: no band, darnit! When sitting on a pool deck, one wants to hear the steel drums or tropical music, but alas, there was almost none of that. Not even a radio was played. Of course, there was no service either, so no one came around to ask if you wanted a drink. And pool games on deck for the kids? Not on your life. None. There were, thankfully, several pingpong tables, but that's not a ''pool game'' or water game. We decided to see what everyone was doing on the adults pool deck, and wow, there was music and pool games a couple times that we stopped by. Not sure why there was a difference, but it sucked for us. 4. I'd say, in a nutshell, that this ship is not for younger families, even though they have a kids club and even though it was a holiday cruise. In general, things on the ship were for older passengers and those with mobility issues, not for active 40 somethings with an 8 year old. Things were...pedestrian. I wish I had known that not only the Noordam, but Holland in general, is that way, because we would never have taken this cruise. Despite reading the boards on Cruise Critic, talking with friends and family, and using a travel agent, no one warned us. I'm not saying that the entire thing was a disaster, and I'm not being ungrateful, but we'll never take HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We booked the 10 day Mediterranean cruise departing from Civitavecchia, Rome. I suggest you purchase euros prior to departing even if the exchange rate might be somewhat higher in your host country. The airport in Rome has a unique feature ... Read More
We booked the 10 day Mediterranean cruise departing from Civitavecchia, Rome. I suggest you purchase euros prior to departing even if the exchange rate might be somewhat higher in your host country. The airport in Rome has a unique feature different than any other country we have visited, they charge 1 euro to use the bathrooms in the airport and no one was prepared for that. Many mothers with young children were hysterical as the woman who stands by the turnstyle by the bathroom entrance refused to allow anyone into the bathroom without exact change. We paid for transfers from the airport to the boat. We were greeted by Holland America representatives at the airport. We took our luggage to the bus, they do not provide someone to assit you with getting your luggage from baggage claim to the Holland America bus. We decided to spend the day touring on our own in Rome and sent our luggage with the cruise line. A taxi in Rome is expensive so you will not save very much by not using the ship transfers. It was quite easy to get from the airport to downtown Rome and we had enough time to see the main sites. We took the subway and had no difficulty getting around. We took a bus to the port. At the port all the cruise lines have buses to shuttle you to the boat. All the cruise lines had air-conditioned buses to take you to the boat arriving every 10 minutes. Holland America only had a poorly air-conditioned bus running every 45 minutes. Having to stand in 90 degree temperatures for that long a time period was awful. We were told that our bags would be delivered to our room. We went to our room and had no luggage. We called the front desk and were told that our bags were being held by security for suspicious items. We went to security and had to collect our luggage ourselves and take it to our room. The room is smaller than most of the other ships we have been on. We were only given 5 hangers per person and considering they have 3 formal nights, I do not know how they expect you to manage for 10 days with 5 hangers. I called 6 times before they brought me some wire hangers. We had two twin beds pushed together. There are two small drawers beside each side of the bed, a sofa and coffee table and a desk with a chair. The bathroom comes with a bar of soap, hand cream and liquid dispensers for soap, shampoo and conditioner in the shower. We immediately noticed that our room was very very hot and stuffy. We called the front desk and several hours later they sent someone to look at the air conditioner. He told us it would take time for the cool air to kick in. Since the room is so small, how long could it take? At midnight we called again as we could not sleep due to the heat. He returned to tell us the air in our room was indeed not working and brought in a huge floor fan. The only thing the fan did was blow around hot air and we kept tripping over it. We went to the frige to get a cold drink, however the fridge was not working and we were too tired to go upstairs to get a cold drink or wait an hour for room service. We also could not sleep as major pipes run through this room and it sounded like someone was taking a wrench and wacking it against the pipes. We haeard loud music and constant moving of furniture. We assumed we were below a night club. It turns out that there is a furniture repair shop on the ship and the staff were playing the music and constantly moving the furniture for repairs. It is impossible to sleep in this room. We asked to be moved to another room, however the ship was sold out so there was no room to move us to. Their solution was to give us each a pair of foam ear plugs. The next day we arranged with another couple to hire a cab and a private tour guide. We had to meet at 10:00 am. We went to the safe in the room to get our money and ID and the safe would not open. We had to wait for over an hour for someone from security to come to our room and open up the safe and reset it, so we missed our tour. On the 6th day of the cruise they offered us another room which was a smokers room so we declined. The best thing Holland America has going for it, is their staff. The majority of the crew are from Indonesia and they are exceptional, friendly, polite and work very hard to make everyone's cruise a wonderful experience. However there is only so much staff can do when the problem is with the room. The breakfast they serve is excellent with fresh omlets, fruit, waffles, pancakes and pasteries. There are only two omlet stations, so there is always a very long line so allow yourself ample time before going on an excursion. The lunch is a typical buffet of pizza, various meats and pastas. The food in the Lido dining room and the main dining room is average. There is nothing exceptional about the food, I would describe it as a step above cafeteria food. The menu in the Canaletto restaurant does not change at all and they do not allow substitutions. The stafff are wonderful but the food is not. We did not eat at Le Cirque restaurant as it was $70.00 per person. The wine stewards in the dining room and in the bars and night clubs harass you. It is obvious the ship makes a lot of money from drinks. One night we were at the disco, there were 8 people there at 11pm. We were asked if we wanted a drink 7 times over a 45 minute period. The drinks provided on the boat are water, lemonade and watered down ice tea. We bought a $50.00 soda card for $25.00 (they add 15% surcharge onto each drink) and a $50.00 wine card for $40.00. They do not allow you to use your soda card to purchase bottled water. The mixed drinks on board are also watered down. They published a two for one drink special, however we could not get them to honor it. Make sure to save your receipts and check your bill. We were charged for other people's drinks at a time when we were not even on the boat. We did not go to the casino as there was too much smoke for me as I suffer from asthma. The staff at the photo shop were not overly aggressive. Christina, the woman in charge of shore excursions was exceptional, bright, funny and friendly. We did not do any spa services as they were expensive and I can get the same services for half of what they were charging at home. The front desk staff were also wonderful, Rhea went above and beyond the call of duty time and time again. The staff in gift shop are annoying as one gentleman in particular shouts out for hours, "ladies and Gentlemen, Ladies and Gentlemen', this deal will end in 10 minutes. Of course the deals go on for the entire cruise. They have lots of jewelry, but if you forgot any basic personal care items, they do not have anything. I did not use the salon as they wanted $50.00 for a wash and blow dry as my hair reaches my shoulders. The entertainment was nothing to write home about. The first few nights, it is mostly interviewing people on the ship and finding out where they are from and how long have they been married. There is a band on board that were excellent, however the lead female singer could not sing. The piano bar entertainer was also wonderful. The main singers and dancers were good, however the music was out-dated. We left most shows after about 10 minutes. These are not broadway productions, more like highschool productions. The pools are crowded, so go early if you want a chair in the shade, but you will find a seat. The gym was very good and the staff were very professional. They have a lot of treadmills and other equipment. We did not do the shore excursions as we felt they were expensive and would not allow us to see as many sites as we would like. I think the shore excursions are good for older people who want an airconditioned vehicle and a guarantee that someone will pick them up and drop them off at the boat. People who took the excursions were quite happy with the tours. The boat provided transportation into town for most ports and charged 6 euros for a five minute bus ride in Palma de Mallorca. They provide you with daily print outs with details about each country you will visit and the shore excursions. These are well written and very helpful. We chose this cruise because of the ports they stopped at. The crew were wonderful, however the room and the food need a lot of improvement. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
First - we are a family in our mid forties with two teen sons. This was our 14th or 15th cruise and our 2nd extended cruise with HAL. Our first was on the glorious Rotterdam in the Baltic a 3 years ago. The good - Service ... Read More
First - we are a family in our mid forties with two teen sons. This was our 14th or 15th cruise and our 2nd extended cruise with HAL. Our first was on the glorious Rotterdam in the Baltic a 3 years ago. The good - Service is, for the most part, impeccable. The staff is trained in client service. They are friendly, personable and professional. Te room stewards are great. Dining room staff fantastic. A special "shout out" to the staff in the casino. They made the trip a real pleasure. The staterooms are clean, spacious and well appointed. We had 2 cabins on the Main Deck and one mini-suite. Happy with all. The air conditioning on the Main Deck did not work, but HAL did its best to repair the situation. When they realized it could not be repaired to our satisfaction, they provided me with an accommodation without my having to ask. Pinnacle Grill and Canneletto are both really wonderful. Service, food and atmosphere really top notch. Itinerary was spectacular. Nothing more to say. The bad - As you wish dining - The first 3 night we waited on line for 30- 45 minutes for a table. Given this is a port intensive cruise, most people wanted to eat at the same time. Could that be such a surprised? If guests are required to be back on the ship most night between 5 and 6 pm, is it odd that most want to eat between 7 and 8? I was told that out of 1900 (approx) passengers, only 350 chose the first seating. This created chaos. Given that I was on the ship for 17 nights, I insisted that I be placed in the late seating guaranteed table (which request was accommodated), but the situation was outrageous. Dining Room - Our cruise was marketed as a 17 night cruise. As such, I would have expected that some thought would have gone into the fact that we would be on both legs of the cruise (more on the in the "entertainment" section). The menus in the dining room on both legs were identical as was the one night of "Dessert Spectacular". I found this to be extremely disappointing and thoughtless. Is it really that difficult to have a 20 day menu rotation when you market cruises ranging for these periods? I found the quality of the food to have decreased dramatically over the past 3 years. On our Rotterdam Cruise (14 nights), each menu was wonderful and the food was pretty spectacular. On the Noordam, the food was fine, nothing more. Breakfast on the Lido Deck was identical (save for different flavors of pancakes) for 17 days straight! Entertainment - ?!?!?! I have been cruising for 20 years. This cruise was, by far, the worst in terms of entertainment. On the first leg of the cruise (10 days), two of the nights entertainment were movies ranging from 3 to 5 years old. There was a nice Las Vegas Show (that was repeated on the 2nd leg of the cruise), a mediocre Broadway show (no scenery or dancers) that was repeated on the (2nd leg of the cruise), a singer from Texas who not good and a quick change artist and her husband (french mime) that were so bad it was uncomfortable. 2 of the 17 nights consisted of staff shows (quite a bargin). The piano bar was the only refuge for a bit of entertainment. What was even more appalling was the fact that many of the bars during prime time had no music. The sea view pool never had music. The Crow's Nest had music for very limited periods as did the Ocean Bar. No music in the dining room. The lack of entertainment options on the Noordam was really shocking. We did spend most nights in the casino since there was nothing else to do. Sea view pool - Most days we went out to sun, there were no towels. When the towels arrived, they were stained and threadbare every time. The lounges were broken, faded and just so cheap. No music. Difficult to hear the information about the scenery. Just disappointing and really low quality. Overall, I wouldn't travel with HAL again. Given the price of the cruise, I expected a lot more. Nothing on the ship felt anything but adequate, and a good portion felt very cheap. Quality and overall experience declined dramatically. It is a shame as the Rotterdam remains one of my favorite cruises. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Our last cruise with HAL was a christmass-cruise in 2009. The captain even did not want to sail because the ship was not ready, but was forced by HAL!, as the hotel-director told us. A lot has been written here about that drama-cruise, so ... Read More
Our last cruise with HAL was a christmass-cruise in 2009. The captain even did not want to sail because the ship was not ready, but was forced by HAL!, as the hotel-director told us. A lot has been written here about that drama-cruise, so I will not repeat it. Just because we got a little compensation from HAL, we tried this cruise. The nautical part was okay this time, but when it is about service at the dining-rooms and bars and the quality of the food, they did everything they could to convince us, we should not return. Every day the cruise-director was talking about their supreme and exellent quality. Very, very irritating when the reality is: very poor and cheap food and to expensive shore-excursions. Formerly you could have a look at the bridge. That is still possible, but now you have to pay 150! dollars, where it has always been for free. About food and drinks: Fresh orange-juice was not available for about a week. "it has run out" they told us. As if that's normal. Fresh fruit? melon and apples yes, but only some days a bit more variation, but then you had to run, for there was never enough. At dinner chicken, chicken and more chicken and some other cheap meat, always badly prepared. I have never seen a good tournedos on the menu. That was a lot better 2 years ago. This time several times the menu offered a choice that was not available. When you choose a rasberry-dessert from the menu, you got a half white not ripe strawberry with some strawberry-marmelade. A choice from the cheese-menu was recommended, but there was no cheese-menu. You had to tell what cheese you liked. And so on...... At the pool-bar they served warm coke every day. Disgusting! You had to ask ever time: "please I would like a cold one, before they opened the fridge. Once, when I asked a servant: don't you have a cold one?, "No, sorry", she lied. Are you sure? I asked then. No clear answer followed. Then, asking the same at the bar, it was no problem to get a cold one. Our cruise was about half price this time. But every dollar was one to much! We did not book our next cruise at HAL. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This was our first cruise. We got attracted by recent initiatives by HAL to attract younger cruisers with children. While rates were pretty attractive at the low end, you simply could not book those because of the maximum capacity ... Read More
This was our first cruise. We got attracted by recent initiatives by HAL to attract younger cruisers with children. While rates were pretty attractive at the low end, you simply could not book those because of the maximum capacity restrictions. So we had no other choice but to upgrade to more expensive categories at the booking stage, which were not bigger, but just had 'drop-down' bunk beds and extra life jackets. What a 'clever' way to attract families and have them pay for more expensive rooms in a category with "3rd/4th free guests. We traveled to Ft.Lauderdale a day before our cruise, which was always suggested by other more experienced cruisers on this website. Stayed at Hilton close to the port - very nice hotel, very convenient. Embarkation was fairly smooth, again have nothing to compare to, but seems like it was fairly organized. Stateroom issues: When we got to our room steward pulled down the bunk bed for one of the children, we realized the bunk bed was right above our heads above the main bed where my wife and I would sleep. We immediately realized that when we would try to get up during the day or in the middle of the night, we would hit our heads on the bunk bed just by trying to sit up on the bed. Of course, we could try to "roll out" of the bed (as suggested by HAL customer representative later on), but who remembers the "roll out technique" in the middle of the night, right? I understand you get what you paid for (even though we paid for the highest category in the Inside stateroom category), but shouldn't we expect at least reasonably safe conditions in every room? Next thing you know HAL will be offering "free ocean breeze upgrade" if you book a space on the deck. I wish HAL had pictures of their staterooms with bunk beds down so people can see if this configuration would work for them before booking a certain stateroom. Realizing that this configuration would be really unsafe and potentially harmful, I went to the front desk and asked to be moved to a cabin with a different configuration. We didn't really need an upgrade, just different configuration. While supervisor agreed with us that this configuration was not the best and potentially unsafe for our family of 4, the only option we were given is to pay additional $400 for an upgrade. The upgrade cabin was the same size, however this was an 'Oceanview' cabin and the configuration was such that kids bunk bed was not above our bed (which is much safer). That is the only option they had. My kids were so tired and hungry and we already left Ft.Lauderdale, so I had no option but to accept the upgrade (I would have done it even if they asked me to pay additional $1,000). We felt pretty much cornered in our decision. This was our vacation and I didn't want to spoil this family time we have planned for a while. Dining: We started going to Lido, however realizing that we could never eat together as a family as kids were always walking around and standing in lines for food. We decided to try Vista Dining Room. Even though we never had reservations, they would always find a table within 3 minutes - which was very nice. Food was relatively good there and wait staff always very friendly. We also went to the last night chef's special - it was very good and entertaining! We also tried Pinnacle Grill a couple of times - service was excellent, food on the other hand was so-so. Children's clubs were excellent idea to keep kids occupied. Once my older find out about Club HAL, she made a lot of good friends and we haven't really seen her during the day. Seems like she really enjoyed there. Staff & Service: Everyone was very nice and accommodative. Entertainment: You could always find staff to do, even though the choices were not great. Again, have nothing to compare to. Disembarkation was pretty smooth. Summary: This was our first cruise. While we had fun overall, the stateroom issues left a very bitter taste of the whole cruise. Contacting customer service after the cruise was over was useless. These people blindly follow their processes and procedures and have no understanding what customer service and loyalty means. HAL will never be able to attract family cruisers with this kind of approach. Then again, maybe they don't really want to.... Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
This was our first HAL cruise and absolutely, definitely our last. This was a 20 day cruise, the longest we have ever taken and overall we had a great time but future cruises will be of a shorter duration, ideally 14days. What a fabulous ... Read More
This was our first HAL cruise and absolutely, definitely our last. This was a 20 day cruise, the longest we have ever taken and overall we had a great time but future cruises will be of a shorter duration, ideally 14days. What a fabulous ship, the crew faultless, excellent facilities and the food superb. I could mourn about a few food dishes but overall the standard and quality was up-there with the best especially in the main dinning room. The Lido buffet meals were OK, but like most other cruise-lines, tends to be like a cattle market. So many rude people bustling about with little or no respect for others which was more prevalent on this ship than others. The age profile on this cruise was incredibly high with the largest number of mobile buggies and motorised wheelchairs I have ever seen in one place. It was like a geriatric Formula 1 at times and my shins are only now beginning to recover. Never again ! A lower age profile is essential as we are only 62. Although the biggest problem on this cruise was the HAL SMOKING policy, the whole of the interior of the ship smelt of tobacco smoke. The Lifts and corridors smelt heavily and many bars and public areas became no-go areas. It is not surprising when you learn that there are so many inside places where people are free to smoke unlike other cruise-lines. HAL constantly reminded the passengers that safety was their utmost priority but still risk people's health and expose a fire risk to all in this 21st century. We will probably have to wait until the US Government issue a smoking ban as HAL is only concerned in chasing the dollar. We will definitely return back to Celebrity .................. at least less smoke. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
My wife and I sailed on the April 3 FLL to Rome cruise aboard Noordam.  Our accomadations were spectacular.  The room spacious, the bathroom huge and the wrap around balcony incredible!  Going West to East on this TA, we chose the SW ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on the April 3 FLL to Rome cruise aboard Noordam.  Our accomadations were spectacular.  The room spacious, the bathroom huge and the wrap around balcony incredible!  Going West to East on this TA, we chose the SW corner aft for our suite and it paid off in spades.  We had sun everyday from 9am until sunset on at least some part of our huge balcony.  I would have to describe this suite and its location as being a private yacht. Luxury & Location.Now the bad news.  The crew was incompetent and the officers didn't care.  The Pinnacle dining room was a joke. 2 of the 3 steaks that I ordered were woefully over cooked.  They crow about having a 1600 degree broiler. Now they just need someone who knows how to use it.  Chef Rob had attitude like you would not believe. Nose in the air and out of joint.The hotel manager aboard ship, Rene, informed me that I was only 1 of 2,000 passengers. So deal with it.  Thank you Rene! I had only paid $7,300 for the privilege!One gets tired of all the cute "Dam Ship" t's, caps, mugs, etc.  What they need aboard Noordam is "We don't give a Dam!" apparell for the officers to wear.Only after I lowered my expectations to the point of; short of sinking the ship I expected nothing from the crew, did I begin to enjoy the cruise.  The service was that bad.We have received a nice form letter for HA but nothing else.  Put up and shut up is the working model at Holland America - and that is for the paying guests! Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We recently took a cruise on Holland America. This was our 1st with HAL but have taken many other cruises. I will probably never cruise with them again. EMBARKATION was very slow. We have never had to wait in such long lines as this. Once ... Read More
We recently took a cruise on Holland America. This was our 1st with HAL but have taken many other cruises. I will probably never cruise with them again. EMBARKATION was very slow. We have never had to wait in such long lines as this. Once onboard it was very crowded in the Lido Dining area. I had read in previous reviews many of the same things but ignored them. Another tip: When you first get onboard they try to sell everyone these cocktail cards but then one wants to take them. Probably because I don't think they get a tip on these. If you like lots of martinis or specialty drinks then do buy it but otherwise I would say stay away. ONBOARD ACTIVITIES: I would say that probably 85% of the passengers were over 75. We always enjoy the nightlife on the ships and would go into the disco maybe to find 4 to 6 people. We are used to them being packed with people on Royal Caribbean. We also had a problem with our room. We were awakened every morning by what sounded like chairs being dragged above our room.We were on the deck below the pool deck close to midship. When we complained, we were told they could not move us because there were no other rooms available. They did send a bottle of wine and give us a small room credit but this was no compensation. HALF MOON CAY- We were really looking forward to this. We had planned horsebacking riding and also rented beach chairs but this stop was cancelled due to bad weather. Which was a good decision because the weather was awful, very strong wind and rain. To sum everything up I would definitely do a Southern Caribbean Cruise again but next time will do more research and find a better fit.My husband and I are in our forties and had it not been for the fun group we were with, we would have been very bored. Also, one more note of interest. In order to get the advantage of using the Neptune lounge you must book a Deluxe Suite or better. We booked a superior suite thinking this would be for all suites and paid $1000 extra. The only perk this gets you is DVD Rental and who about free DVD rental we want to have fun on the ship. We really enjoyed our time much more off on the boat. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
It seems to be the consensus of most fellow cruisers I talked with that Holland America didn't measure up to expectations this time. EMBARKATION. Our embarkation was virtually painless as we parked our car at the terminal and started ... Read More
It seems to be the consensus of most fellow cruisers I talked with that Holland America didn't measure up to expectations this time. EMBARKATION. Our embarkation was virtually painless as we parked our car at the terminal and started the registration process. We moved quickly and had just had my husband's picture taken when the power went out. (We joked that he had broken the camera.) The crisis was handled quickly and we felt good about the professional and calm way the situation was handled. Our luggage arrived quickly. STATEROOM. Our room was beautiful. We had a verandah suite with a large balcony. The bed and pillows were extremely comfortable. The showerhead in the bathroom was broken and the sink stopper was broken. Both were fixed quickly. Our phone was broken and we asked to have that fixed. We were on the ship ten days and it never got fixed.The last night before we disembarked our steward cleaned the bathroom of all shampoo and shower gel so you had nothing to wash with in the morning. The soap was never replaced. They seemed stingy in that department.We were supposed to get a basket of fruit and we had to ask for it. It was never refilled and had been advertised. SHOWS. We thoroughly enjoyed the shows. FOOD SERVICE. Where the Noordam fell short was in the food and food service department. Usually we would order coffee and danish in our room because breakfast was served so early. Most days we would get a pot of coffee covered with a piece of aluminum foil. I was told that was because they had run out of the good pots. Consequently, our coffee was usually lukewarm. The food in the dining room was mediocre at best. The tables were very close together and the waiters were having trouble properly serving because of the crowded conditions. We were happy to have such pleasant tablemates, but we did spend a lot of time commiserating about the poor food service. We all looked forward to surf and turf on Valentine's Day. It was a huge disappointment. The surf was a very sickly looking lobster tail and the steak was nothing to write home about. I got a filet mignon since I am not a lobster eater. When it arrived, I was shocked. It was the thinnest filet mignon I've ever seen. It actually looked and tasted like liver. One noontime we decided to take a more leisurely lunch in the dining room instead of braving the very long lines on the Lido deck. We waited an hour and fifteen minutes for a very overcooked hamburger. The waiter's excuse was that everyone was ordering hamburgers that day. We didn't wait for dessert. The Lido buffet was very disorganized and they would close down all food lines in order to shift to the next meal. It meant that if you wanted breakfast you had to be up on deck before 9:55. Lunch was only served for a very short time and dinner was closed by 8PM. We couldn't be leisurely about our mealtimes if we expected to eat. The only thing open later was pizza and pasta - not really what we were looking for. CODE RED.The second day out we were informed that the ship was going into a code red mode because of an outbreak of gastrointestinal flu. That meant that the hot tubs and spa were closed and the Lido buffet was no longer self-serve. Everything needed to be served to us, including coffee and iced tea. This put an incredible strain on the crew and although they put their best face on it, we all felt the fallout. Everywhere you went you had to re-apply hand sanitizer until we were all sure it could no longer be effective. When you asked for an extra cookie the server looked at you like you were the pig of the century. It was a very discomfiting feeling and the language barrier that pervaded the crew made it very difficult to convey your needs and desires. SHOPS. As compared to other cruise lines we've been on, the Noordam shops were extremely limited in their selection and presentation. A big disappointment. DISEMBARKATION. Our departure from the ship was painless. We virtually ran off the ship, feeling less rested than usual. PORTS. The port choices were great. We enjoyed Grand Turk and the little village that awaited us just off the dock. We didn't like having to rise early to go through customs in St Thomas and it seemed as though the stop in San Juan was a waste of time because we were there for such a short length of time. When all is said and done, we met some very nice people and enjoyed their company and the ambiance of the ship and ports, but I know we will not choose Holland America again unless we begin to see some really superior reviews in the future. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
Let me start by saying this was my first cruise. My girlfriend came with me and she has cruised on every line out here and cruised about 15 times. My expectations are what she had described to me from the performance of Royal Caribbean and ... Read More
Let me start by saying this was my first cruise. My girlfriend came with me and she has cruised on every line out here and cruised about 15 times. My expectations are what she had described to me from the performance of Royal Caribbean and Carnival. AT THE PORT IN NEW YORK Everything went smoothly until we got to the check in desk. I had pre printed my boarding pass about 1 week ahead of time to avoid headaches. This apparently didn't mean I wouldn't have one. They booked my cabin to a different person but not only that my credit card was linked to someone elses sail and sign. I had access to someone elses credit card with my card. After HAL pondered this simple fix for 2 hours they put us in a different room and they had to jump through hoops to re route our luggage to get it to the new room. Then I had to spend another 45 minutes explaining the predicament to the inept front desk of foreigners who neither understand nor speak English. Once they understood I wanted to make sure my credit card issue was settled could the cruise begin. This was before the surprise gift (cigars) ordered to the room by my girlfriend had to be re routed to the new room. The front desk lady ended up telling me what it was. Thanks for the surprise. ROOMS The rooms are nice and the hospitality staff was outstanding. COREY, our steward was the nicest guy ever and showed us how he made towel animals for 10 minutes. He called me sir at all times and was just the consummate professional. FOOD The food was not good at all. Only Unsweetened iced tea and water are offered. How exciting. The coffee is gross and the limited soda card is a complete ripoff. The room service had a choice of a salad, omelet, burger or a club sandwich late night. Not a great selection. The Lido dining was poor and closed very early. This cruise line tries to be a 5 star dining facility and should just stick to making edible food. Mango and cream cheese stuffed chicken or sour cherry soup or watermelon gaspatcho is just nasty. Chicken parm and penne a la vodka are a bit more normal and are much harder to screw up. The Vista dining room was the same story. The service was great but the same wanna be 5 star mentality shined through. Ginger flavored Tofu and cheap fatty skirt steaks are not high end. This boat made it hard to get food as 90 percent of the ship was sleeping by 12am. Late night food is non existent unless you want the 4 item menu. PUBLIC ROOMS Overall the ship is decorated is a gaudy gold and mirrored motif. It looks like my grandmas house which has not changed since the 1960's. The quality of the decorations is great but it caters to 1960's and 1970's glitzy gaudy over decorated style. ENTERTAINMENT Entertainment was so so. DREW MURDOCK was outstanding and just worked with his 100 year old demographic. I thought he was a stand up comic and director in one. Hats off to Drew. Unfortunately pictionary, bridge, and shuffleboard aren't mind blowing activities. The comics were not funny at all and forgot half their jokes during their bits. Drew was funnier than both of them and 2 hours of stand up from him would have been great. EXCURSIONS Excursions I cannot comment about because I went out on my own for those. RETURN TO NEW YORK On the way home on the first of two days at sea we are notified that we have to turn around and go back to San Juan to Helilift and sick guest. This is after 6 hours of going north from San Juan. We were under the impression we were going to be very very late on wednesdays proposed 8 am arrival. We were told from the front desk by a "new employee" that a complementary phone call would be given to us to rearrange our travel plans. The next day we are told we have to buy a 25.00 phone card for a measly 12 minutes. The next day after the phone cad does not work they tell me they will give me a complementary call but I have to keep the phone card and it is not refundable. ISSUE one--nobody speaks the english language. ISSUE two--everyone tells a different story and there are too many supposed supervisors. Overall my first cruise was a nightmare. The best time were spent off the ship. They offer only Unsweetened ice tea and water forcing you to buy a limited soda card. Many of the activities are less entertaining than what a nursing home offers and this makes GAMBLING the only alternative. The slots don't pay out so I made a sizeable donation to HAL. Overall HAL needs to work on things. Not everyone cruising your ships is 100 and on crutches. They cater to the grumpy rich retired senior citizen and neglect all else. When you current cruisers are gone and the younger ones get older you line wont be top choice. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
If you are looking for a happening lively ship - Noordam is not it. don't get me wrong, it's a gorgeous ship - just the clientele is on the older side - 70's+. You find yourself walking around the ship ... very slowly - ... Read More
If you are looking for a happening lively ship - Noordam is not it. don't get me wrong, it's a gorgeous ship - just the clientele is on the older side - 70's+. You find yourself walking around the ship ... very slowly - great to destress in the beginning, but after walking at snail's pace for days on end your stress levels begin to rise substantially. Never seen so many scooters on a ship - they were everywhere. Noordam is a 5 star ship. The verandah cabins are gorgeous and the finishings first class. But you can shoot a canon after midnight and not hit anyone - they are all in bed hours ago. And, of course, up at sparrow fart dithering around in the hallways making noise - so if you want to stay out late and sleep in - no chance! The dining is 5 star - food is fantastic with great service. The one saving grace - the Casino. The staff were so friendly and fantastic they made the cruise. They made sure they knew all their regulars names and really made you feel at home when in the casino. The stops in the Eastern Caribbean were wonderful - St Martin, Grand Turk, San Juan and St Thomas. All wonderful places. With Margaritaville on Grand Turk getting our vote. The DJ there is wonderful and makes it a fabulous groovy day. Embarkation in New York is a nightmare - be prepared for a 3 hour wait in the queue. I did a Carnival on the west coast the week before - no wait at all - on and off quickly and efficiently. Not so in New York. And worse if you are on a US passport - they waited even longer. Foreigners got through much quicker. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
The Noordam is a Crowded and Unattractive Vessel Introduction: My husband and I have cruised twice previously: once on Royal Caribbean and once on Carnival. I arranged this cruise on the Noordam for us and 10 other family members, all of ... Read More
The Noordam is a Crowded and Unattractive Vessel Introduction: My husband and I have cruised twice previously: once on Royal Caribbean and once on Carnival. I arranged this cruise on the Noordam for us and 10 other family members, all of whom were first-time cruisers. Although our family had a wonderful time together at meals and in the entertainment venues, my husband and I were extremely disappointed because of our expectations based on our previous experiences. The Holland America Noordam didn't even compare favorably to the Carnival Pride. The main problems: Overcrowding: The most popular venues on the Noordam were extremely crowded. Specifically: 1) The Lido restaurant had terribly long lines and way too many people milling about, especially at peak hours--you can forget about finding a table by a window at meal times. 2) The showroom was always packed prior to every show and we often ended up in the balcony even though we arrived 15 minutes early. 3) The blackjack tables were so crowded that I once stood for an hour before getting a seat. If you don't mind playing the sucker games (face-up with dealer taking all pushes or blackjack with all the queens removed), you may find a seat because most of the blackjack games in the casino have a gimmick that favors the house. 4) The top deck during scenic cruising of Glacier Bay was packed and there was no space along the rail. 5) The two hot tubs in the adults-only area are usually taken and they are so tiny that you better be good friends if there's more than two of you. 6) Get in line very early for the dessert buffet or the wait will be horrific. All of these venues were much more crowded than similar venues on our other two cruises. Ugly dEcor and furnishings: The Noordam is not an attractive vessel. The carpets, furnishings, art work, etc. are not appealing The doors to the cabins look like plywood. The carpeting in the hallways is an ugly blue pattern, which clashes with the red and orange circles in the area by the elevators. Bizarre-looking silver benches can be found in each landing by the elevators. Poor maintenance and supervision in the adults-only pool area: Even though several people complained, neither of the hot tubs worked properly throughout the cruise. The jets in one of them were inoperable and the jets in the other blew cold air. Also, the "adults only" policy in that area was not enforced and kids were all over. The pools and hot tubs close very early. Victoria, BC shouldn't really be counted as a port of call: The ship docks at 6 p.m. and sails at 11:15 p.m. When we booked the cruise, we didn't look closely enough at the schedule and many of us were planning to visit the Buchart Gardens in Victoria. We were shocked to learn that the ship wouldn't arrive in Victoria until 6:00 p.m. and everything worth seeing was about 30-45 minutes away from the dock. We decided to get to the dining room at 5:00 p.m. and be ready to disembark right at 6:00. Well, we weren't the only ones! The line to enter the dining room began forming much earlier and we had a long wait to be seated. We disembarked only to turn around and get back on the ship again after discovering how far the gardens and the Empress Hotel and downtown area were from the dock. During the entertainment that night, the cruise director asked how everyone had enjoyed the various ports. Only a few hands went up when he mentioned Victoria. Embarkation: This process was proceeding efficiently when someone apparently fell on a ramp leading to the boat and the doors from the terminal were shut for over 30 minutes. We were not advised of the reason for the problem until later. The Positives: 1) The entertainment was great, especially Joel Mason and the magician, but be sure to get to the Vista Lounge early to get a decent seat. 2) The beds were very comfortable and the rooms were more attractive than the common areas in the Noordam. 3) The hard-working staff were just as wonderful as on the other ships we have been on. 4) The park rangers who came on board at Glacier Bay are terrific. 5) The cruise director was quite a comedian. 6) We enjoyed the question-and-answer session with the captain. Conclusion: We expected a lot more from Holland America and chose the Noordam because it's a relatively new ship. We won't be sailing on HAL again. Carnival is just as good and Royal Caribbean is much better in many ways. Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
This cruise departs out of Seattle around 4 p.m. Sunday, travels out the Strait of Juan de Fuca, rounds up on the outside of Vancouver Island and heads north overnight getting you to Glacier Bay Alaska by mid morning. Then it meanders in a ... Read More
This cruise departs out of Seattle around 4 p.m. Sunday, travels out the Strait of Juan de Fuca, rounds up on the outside of Vancouver Island and heads north overnight getting you to Glacier Bay Alaska by mid morning. Then it meanders in a southerly direction to Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan then heads back out to sea, back into the Strait to Victoria (arriving at night) and departs late in the evening for a slow put back to Seattle disembarking Sunday morning. I will start generally from the beginning experience and with the disembarkation. I did not arrive by plane so I have no real experience with it. I was, however, picked up after the cruise at the airport so I got to witness the next group of cruisers being herded around. It looked fairly organized (although I did see panicked cruisers from every line looking for assistance). The guys wrangling the luggage were frighteningly rough with the luggage throwing pieces and surely breaking whatever fragile items were stored within. Not a good way to start your cruise. Pack fragile goods on you. Some packing notes: If you drink wine, bring it. Wine is expensive on board and the selection is mediocre at best. The corkage fee is in the $20 region. All liquor purchased on board is charged a hefty surcharge. It is worth the trouble, plus you get to drink something delicious. Pack a few warm layers and do not forget your raincoat with a hood. Don't bring a crazy amount of warm things because the ship is warm. The dressy nights (2) are actually dressy. Men in nice suits and occasional tuxes. Women mostly in cocktail dresses, but a few women were in gowns. Honestly, they were a little out of place. Bring a cocktail dress. OK, embarkation: This was the first cruise for me so I haven't anything to compare it to, but I found it to be very orderly and stress free. We were dropped by family so we had to find the way there on our own. It was easy to find and well marked. Porters meet you at the car and will handle your luggage. There are two short lines. One for those who filled out their forms online and another for those who did not. We did it on line. We were asked a few questions, gave them our forms and filled out one. Our pics were taken, we were given our docs to get on board and then sent to a queue to get on board. Easy and friendly folks. A good way to start. The line moves haltingly from here because of the picture taking and selling of various packages for onboard. A lot of people looked annoyed. Your goods are then quickly x-rayed then you are on your way on board. Something to note here. Your checked luggage sits outside in the elements for a LONG time. If you packed your lovely silk dress on top and your luggage ends up on the top of the stack... and it is raining (it IS Seattle!) I was lamenting not carrying it all on or not having packed in a hard sided piece. Luckily, it only sprinkled rain. Our rooms were not ready yet so we went to the Lido Deck (you have no choice) where we slogged through the hawkers again making way to a table. Many ravenous folks were rushing around and knocking over the less hardy for their chance to get a premade sandwich. Be warned. It is less dangerous to life and limb (especially fingers and feet) to hike out to the aft outdoor deck. 1:30 or so they announce it is time to head to your room. Finding your cabin is easy and there are signs everywhere to aid the lost. Your checked luggage arrives sometime before the evening. Plenty of time to get unpacked and freshen for dinner. Night one is casual. Oh yeah, this is the time when you are wondering about laundry and pressing. It is really expensive and no self-laundering/pressing is available like on other ships. Consider either bringing clothes that pack well or bringing a steamer (no irons). I was in one of the less expensive rooms. It was an outside stateroom with obstruction. It had an unopenable window blocked by a lifeboat, but if you stood high or got on your bed, you could see the water and land. We were a party of two women (my mom) and we were very comfy. There was ample closet space with hangers and room below beds to store smaller bags. Larger ones fit nicely in the lockers. Three COULD fit in the room, but it would be tight. Make sure you are really accommodating and close if you decide on a trio. The odd man is on a pullout couch. The other two are on an extremely comfy bed (or two beds). They are long singles and they are the highlight of the room. They tie with the pillows. My mom could not stop talking about the pillows and wrote the name of them down so she could get them for home. Really. Our first night out was pretty rough and she spent the evening hugging them for comfort. Her new best friend I guess. Anyway, the lav was plenty roomy. There was a short tub/shower, kitty corner toilet and a sink. The cabin includes a vanity where hairdryers are furnished and used. There is also a lighted makeup mirror with magnifier. The negative is that the lighting at the vanity is smoked and dark. I would apply my makeup there and then walk to the bathroom to see I looked crazy with uneven makeup because I could not see what I was doing in the dim light. The stateroom also has a loveseat, table and a chair. None of which we sat on. We used the table for room service and plunking down our junk on. Sheets are changed one time during the trip and the blanket is covered with another sheet. The food and dining: Might as well get to that since lots of time is spent doing it or contemplating doing it. Are you sitting down? I LOST weight on the trip. I kid you not. I was not sick either. The food was just incredibly dull and uninspired even in the Pinnacles. Lots and lots of the same things every day. Lots of food rehashed (emphasis on the hash) day after day. Dining room food selections that I found myself saying (to myself) "well, if I have to select something (sigh), I guess I will have the pork chop." It would be slapped down in front of me in a very dismal way and I would pick through a pretty meager portion (they are ALL about portion control on this ship) trying to find the small nugget that was not overcooked or looked edible. Let me digress for a moment. Dining room info.: It was my mom's birthday. We were in open seating. I called when we got on board and asked if we might get a table near a window and maybe a table for two. We would take any time. NO. And we never ever could. And the man taking the reservations was RUDE. I am mad writing about it now. That and the men greeting diners at the front door were either strange and inappropriately familiar or rude and unaccommodating. I can only assume that we were not given a decent seat because our room was not an expensive one. We also tried arriving without reservation during the waning hours of dining to a emptying (about a quarter full) room and beg for a table either by ourselves or by a window and they told us it was not possible after asking our room number then there was no further conversation allowed. A ticket was printed and we were led to a center table with other bewildered diners. Everyone at the table commented on the empty window seats. No one was pleased. OK I feel better now. Sorry. Laughs~ The dining room food. I already mention... yuck. But to explain. They tout their culinary prowess on this ship. When they do people in the audience giggle (at the disembarkation lecture). It was good to know it was not just my mom and me (and our other lesser appreciated table mates). The only good thing I had in the dining room was a lamb shank. It was good. It was plunked atop a half cup of insipid mashed potatoes and sided with 2 small carrot balls the size of marbles. By the end of the cruise I dreamed of fresh veggies. Toward the end of the cruise I got a little gumption and if food arrived that looked simply too nasty or unsafe to eat I sent it back and asked for something else. Things served that were disappointing: . The last night my mom ordered scallops. They were rank, overcooked and one was a strange pink color. Chateaubriand asked for rare/ medium rare and arrived medium well with goo pastry. No taste to boot. Filet folks! That was the fancy night. Other things: Pasta (don't do it in the dining room), Salmon - they do not know what kind and won't go find out. Another diner had it, it looked overcooked and unappetizing. We were in the salmon capital of the world for chrissakes. The portions were usually smallish (except for pasta (but blech!) and lacked veggies. Mixed salads contained plenty of lettuce pieces that had gone bad and clinged secretly to other leafs. Watch for that. Caesars come pre tossed with oh so much dressing and iffy croutons. OK I do not want to discuss that anymore. I did like the chocolate cake. Of course it could have been pretty inferior and I would have loved it. I suggest they pour fudge over their entrees. The service. OK I will confess that in a former life I was a restaurant owner. I think that really great service can smooth over a rocky food experience. Bad food and robotic and startlingly abrupt service may account for my weight loss. I just found myself putting on a happy face, enjoyed talking to my fellow dining partners and tried to get it over with. Many servers have a real problem with English. That may account for the weirdness like "What do you want?" or not taking a beverage order or picking up a napkin from the floor and making a diner use it versus getting him a new one. Also, they do not take drink orders unless you ask and never before food ARRIVES. Sigh. Lido Dining. This is a quasi buffet area where you will eat breakfast and lunch and perhaps dinner. Mornings you can elect to freely select pastries and fruit. Other items (including hot) are doled out to you as you go through cafeteria style. Sausages were good and one day they had potato squares that were fried like McDonalds. They were also good. Everything else looked ick. I was amazed that people were eating the steam tabled pancakes and the limp and strange looking french toast. Grapefruit was grey. Raisin bread was pretty good, but don't ask that it be toasted for you. I elected to either have room service (which is good) pasties with juice and coffee or trundled up to the Lido for a bagel. I always scanned for the potato wedges. They never reappeared after morning one. They were replaced with gacky home fries. There was an asian style breakfast available with miso soup (and accoutrements) and plenty of congee which many a Southerner mistook as grits. Lunch on the Lido is a salad bar (see previous lettuce admonition) which included white tomatoes, purple coleslaw goo and potato salad, cukes and a rather rancid Greek mixed salad. Pass. My fellow cruisers, lunch bliss exists in the sandwich department. I had a croissant sandwich with turkey, bacon and cheese, lettuce and tomato and it was good. Other times when I longed for something else (like asian lamb stirfry) I wished I had stuck with the sandwich. Incidentally, they dole the hot food out to you and start out with a tablespoon of meat mix with a cup or so of rice (in asian) they will hand that to you. You will have to speak up if you require more than that.and they will make you say more after each spoonful. I always regretted asking for more. Outside on the Lido is a hamburger and hotdog line and a pretty good self-serve taco bar. Room service. This is the highlight of the onboard dining. The bread on the sandwiches may be stale and the croissants are cold, but the food quality is better and the service excels. Raves to the club sandwich and breakfast pastries. Also the chocolate cake is fresher delivered to the room than in either dining areas. Confirm orders and ask for extra creamer. Pinnacles. Your server will be able to communicate with you here. Service was vastly superior. They actually timed your meal, did not rush you, attended to your drinks and bread and served without intrusion. We also got close to a window. Oh glee! I again had a filet here (the entrEe choice was minimal). It was overcooked again. I could have gotten a porterhouse. I was afraid the NY side of the porterhouse would be rubber so I opted for the filet. The side I cannot recall. It must have been unremarkable. I do however remember that I ordered Tuna sashimi for an appetizer. Easily the highlight of the onboard food. My mom got it too and we lamented every night thereafter that we did not simply have 10 plates each of that. Paper thin pieces of heaven. Ship in general and its entertainment offerings: The ship is pretty and new. Smoking is allowed on deck, in rooms (I know ick) and in the casino and bars. Thankfully no smoking in halls or dining areas. I was with a smoker. Sigh. Cheap rooms lack ventilation for smoking. Also I thought it was strange that you cannot have an iron in your room, but you can smoke like a chimney in them. The library area is roomy and pleasing with lots of books (check out early for best selection - I saw one woman in the early moments of the cruise with a stack. She must be a veteran). They rent DVDs there too. You can buy your favorite coffee drink and sit in nicely appointed seating areas to play games and read books. I camped out here a lot working on crosswords. Here is where you can access the internet for a heft hefty hefty price. They also have wireless available. I skipped the net for a week. Live entertainment was not what I expected. The shows were strange and uninspired and the singers often off key. Instead, go for the karaoke competition where the true talent lies and laughs can be had. It is done in a series of competitions with the winner being crowned on the way to Victoria. There was a quasi-calypsoish band in the atrium area one day. Very loud, did lots of Caribbean and Jimmy Buffet songs done like elevator music. The woman singing should consider a career change. OK a moment to retract my claws! Many folks were abuzz about the bingo. I did not go, but the major boat's main constituency was of the more mature set so... you figure it out. The pools were all for adults and children. No separate pools. They were often empty even though our cruise was sunny. There were a few takers for the Jacuzzi and many felt at ease enough to take a pass through the casino and other areas in their robes. I thought that was amusing. It horrified my mom when a man sat next to her at roulette wearing his bathrobe. Casino: Poker is by video table and is only in tourney form. They play 60 and 120 buy in games. Humans run the roulette and blackjack. The house's take is massive. Slots and video gaming... look at the payout. I never got bored enough to toss my money away at slots. Also there is a woman on a wireless mic talking a lot of the time. She is loud and can induce a headache. She was touting some running lottery or guessing game. Take comfort that she will eventually tire and stop. Gym: Big and good equipment. Windows open to a beautiful view. You will want to spend time here. Lots of treadmills with one always available. Aerobic classes and pilates are available for a fee. I was on the lookout for the water aerobics class, but it never happened. There is a sauna, but I did not use it. I also did not use the spa. It looked nice (I examined it at about 4 in the morning night one when everyone was in their rooms vomiting - I do not get seasick). It also seemed expensive, but... you are on vacation. Cinema: Lots of currentish movies. I went a few times and enjoyed it. It was relatively empty. They should offer drinks with the popcorn. There is a concession stand, but it stood empty. Generally, the ship is clean and nicely done. There is one glass stair system, but it was blocked the entire cruise so it was look, don't touch. No grand stairs on this boat. I do not know what other boats looked like, but it does not seem as open as other boats look like on commercials. It WAS clean though and there were elevators open to the port and starboard water views. I nice touch. I spent a ton of time on deck. Decks are wide, scrubbed, equipped with lots of blankets and ample sturdy (yet lovely) teak loungers (you can purchase one). The only time you are allowed up on the very front part of the bow is at Glacier Bay. The rest of the time you go just inside. You can go all the way to the stern. A side note about cleanliness. There are many men devoted to polishing the public areas, but we found our bathroom handle and door to the cabin grimy and sticky. I cleaned it with an antibacterial wipe they offer in the public restroom. Every morning around 6 a.m. they walk a catwalk outside the bedroom window to clean the liferafts. Be sure to close your curtains before going to sleep. It is unpleasant to find them gawking in as you wake. General notes: You will have many many times where photogs will be scrambling to take your pic.. You will be given many opportunities to buy things like jewelry and other things you did not know you needed. You will pay for seminars that do not involve something being sold to you, the classes were unbelievable dull, but the lectures on wildlife were the ship's highlight as far as entertainment value goes. It was free. There is a TV in room where you can watch the view from the stern and one from the bow of the boat. I watched that a lot. There is also a channel with revolving screens providing ship info. Like very general track, ship's speed, time, air temp, sea conditions... I liked that. What would have made it even better would have been a sort of GPS display instead of they far off general map they use. I wanted to know what body of water I was in and what I was looking at land wise. Also there was very little offerings over the loud speaker about what we were looking at. Many folks were annoyed by that especially at Glacier Bay. Also, speaking of loudspeaker announcements, during the first night they did an evening crew safety drill. The man announcing it could not speak easily understood English and I could hear a commotion of folks in the hallway wondering if there was an emergency (they sounded alarm). The captain had to get on and tell people it was for the crew to go to muster stations and not for passengers. I won't get into what is to do at each port of call since I have seen other descriptions that would be far superior to mine. I will speak generally about them. I loved each stop, but then again our weather was absolute perfection. Getting on and off the boat was a cinch even the day we used tenders. They were tender towards those with disabilities. I thought that was nice to see. Some gangway security fellow was rude to my mom. I did not witness it, but she was fairly hot about it. Personally, outside big excursions, I would wait until I got to port to book it. If the weather is bad what is the point of shelling out tons of money to appreciate a view shrouded in clouds. The tour groups are plentiful at dock and the prices seem better with an addition of competition. Each town is enjoyable and the locals surprisingly accommodating considering the ships probably double town population and we wander around dazed and into traffic. There is always an exception to the kindness of locals. Best to brush it off and get over it. A small thing about one of the stops... Victoria at 6p.m.? Really? Why bother? The brochure sez no trip to Victoria is complete without a trip to Butchart Gardens... but it is night? Also the ship docks outside of Victoria and you have to hoof it a mile and a half or bus in. Stores are closed and areas of town can be dangerous and crowded with bums, beggars and drug addicts roaming in the shadows. A walk on the jetty and back to the boat is better. What else? Highlights: Glacier Bay. Amazing even without calving. Good binoculars are a must as is a good camera. I brought binocs with image stabilizer. Great for bear spotting. The wildlife lecture. The guy giving it was interesting and entertainment and lots of the pics he used were his own. He should have been providing running loud speaker commentary in Glacier Bay or at least doing a deck walk about answering questions on the fly. Disembarkation: You fill out a form prior to cruising with your departure particulars and are assigned a color/number ticket corresponding to travel urgency. You wait for that color number to be called and you proceed to gangway. Easy and orderly. I was last off since I was in no hurry. My room attendant was not pleased that we were last off and demanded we vacate the room. You can opt to have express checkout of sorts where you get off first and bags are transported to the airport for you and checked on to the flight. It is a pay service, but a nice touch I thought. Big bags are put out in the hall the night before for collection and await you in the port. I elected to carry mine down since I packed lightly. I was glad for it. There was a minor scrum to get aboard Grey Line busses to the airport and the ticket taker seemed confused when I gave her an online confirmation ticket versus one bought through the cruise line. I had to stand there and explain it. If it were raining I would not have been so patient. Grey Line driver was pleasant and entertaining. A nice way to end a cruise. Follow the admonition about breakable goods in the luggage on the outbound portion if going Grey Line. They are the same tossers used for the inbounders. OK That's all she wrote. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
My husband and I have been on more than twenty-five cruises. We had sailed with Holland America previously. Embarkation in Seattle was relatively hassle free. We arrived around 1:30 and it took us about thirty minutes to get through the ... Read More
My husband and I have been on more than twenty-five cruises. We had sailed with Holland America previously. Embarkation in Seattle was relatively hassle free. We arrived around 1:30 and it took us about thirty minutes to get through the line. Lines need to be adjusted to accommodate those of us who had checked in on line. Our cabin was ready and waiting for us, and within thirty minutes our luggage arrived. The cabins on the Noordam are well designed the bathroom was spacious and there was plenty of storage/hanging space. The beds were comfortable. The deck furniture was perfect, quite comfortable and very clean. Our room steward was excellent. Dining on the ship was another story. We were assigned to open seating for dining. We have experienced this before with Princess and at that time were very pleased. Each time we requested a table by a window, each time we were seated away from windows, eventhough many window tables were available. The staff that greeted us in the dining room were arrogant and difficult. The food selection could have been more varied. Many times hot foods came cool and lacked much taste. Dining room seemed under staffed and most of staff needs customer service training. About half way through our voyage we complained to hotel staff as dining room was not the only place service was almost nonexistent. We asked that our name not be given to dining room staff. Well from this point on the staff in dining hovered over us, making us very uncomfortable. Entertainment in main venue was below average in quality. Ports of call were as expected. Tours were fine and arrangements to connect with tours was hassle free. Probable will not sail with Holland America again. One would have to question if Carnival's ownership has made the difference in the first class service we anticipated. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Embarkation - We arrived quite late, but registration was very smooth, something we heartily appreciated as my wife and I were traveling with our 4 young children. Unfortunately, some of our suitcases were covered in mud when they arrived ... Read More
Embarkation - We arrived quite late, but registration was very smooth, something we heartily appreciated as my wife and I were traveling with our 4 young children. Unfortunately, some of our suitcases were covered in mud when they arrived at the cabin. Public Rooms - Plenty on board, and generally tastefully decorated. The public swimming area has a retractable roof, which comes in handy the first and last days of the cruise when traveling out of / to New York City. Cabin - We had two adjoining cabins on the upper promenade deck, one for our children, the other for ourselves. The cabins were smaller then we were used to, but they were intelligently laid out which mitigated the cramped feeling. The balconies were much larger than normal, and we were able to open the partition between them which was rather nice. We quickly found the extra balcony length to be a mixed blessing... it extended out from the decks above and was open to falling water each time balconies were cleaned. Having dirty water fall on you several times a day is not a pleasant experience. Dining - The service and food at the main restaurant were above average and compared closely to what you'd find on a Celebrity cruise. Our waiters were very attentive, prompt and gave wonderful advice. With the exception noted below, Noordam dining was the highlight of the trip. Entertainment - About average. The Noordam dancing/singing troupe gets mixed reviews as some of its members were quite talented while others seemed out of place in a professional production. The external acts were good and the multi-million dollar stage was quite impressive. Ports - We chose this cruise because Dominica was on the itinerary, and we were not disappointed. Dominica is a relatively new island in geological terms that still has jagged peaks and tropic rain-forests intact. Especially impressive was the Emerald Pool located a 15 minute walk down into ravine in the rain forest. At the bottom, surrounded by tropical vegetation, is a rocky pool fed by 30 foot waterfall. You can reach the waterfall and the cave behind it by swimming across the pool. Very natural, and very impressive. The unpleasant stuff - The second day at sea, I ate something in the main dining room that made me quite ill over the next several days. I passed out during a shore excursion and spooked my wife and children when I did not come to after several minutes. As the symptoms multiplied, my wife turned to the crew for help, but they could not care less. At one point, my wife was admonished and insulted by a Club Hal staffer upset that my wife asked for help looking after the children during a port day while I was sick in bed. When we complained about the cold, uncaring attitude of the cruise staff to the front office, and eventually to the captain, we were not even provided the courtesy of a response. Even before the cruise started, HAL came to us one month after we booked and paid for the cruise asking for another $1000 per cabin due to an "internal error" in the original pricing. We had no choice to comply given we had already made non-refundable travel plans. Conclusion - This was our 8th cruise, and our first with HAL. A nice ship, some good ports of call, and exceptional food and service at the main dining room. But after having been cheated, poisoned, insulted and ignored by HAL and the Noordam crew, I doubt I will be sailing with HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
Noordam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.8
Family 2.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.6
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 3.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.3

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