10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We did a fifteen day land and sea journey that started in Fairbanks and loved every minute of it. The Westmark hotel in Fairbanks was terrific, we stayed in South Tower, how anyone could complain about these rooms is beyond me. We went ... Read More
We did a fifteen day land and sea journey that started in Fairbanks and loved every minute of it. The Westmark hotel in Fairbanks was terrific, we stayed in South Tower, how anyone could complain about these rooms is beyond me. We went on the River boat cruise and did the Gold Dredge eight which was a lot of fun, a great way to get started. Denali was awesome, we spent two days there before moving on. Rode ATV and did the Denali Tundra wilderness tour, which was eight hours but had the most amazing sights and we saw a decent amount of wildlife along the way. The weather was perfect for most of trip, rained first day and last day, other than that we had tons of sunshine and warm temperatures. The two lodges were very nice with a rustic feel, we really enjoyed them. Then we took the train to Talkeetna and the train was fun with great views, and good hosts pointing out highlights as we passed them. Saw two moose along the way as well. Bartender on board to make sure everyone had a good time, we certainly did. After spending the afternoon in Talkeetna a great little quaint town with fun people, from there we went to Mt. Mckinley Princess Wilderness lodge which gave us some amazing views of Denali as well. Off to Anchorage on a tour bus to the Westmark Anchorage, an older hotel but kept up nicely. Spent the evening, morning exploring Anchorage which is a very nice city on the inlet. In the afternoon we went to the wildlife preserve where we say many of the native animals up close. Then we went to Mt. Aleyska Resort to spend the evening in the town of Girdwood. The resort was fantastic, very beautiful, high end with endless scenery. Many chose to go into town, we to the tram to the top of mountain and spent the evening eating dinner up there and enjoying the view. Then we went down and spent time exploring the hotel and it's many bars. After an enjoyable evening at Mt. Aleyska we boarded a bus for ride to Seward to board the ship. We got to explore Seward for a few hours before we boarded the ship which was easy and painless. We had a Verandah room with balcony on port side. Nice room, loved view from balcony, had lots of storage for luggage and clothes. Suitcases fit under bed and closets held a lot of cloths. Our room stewards Anom and Novi met us upon arrival and were great guys who did and outstanding job. Wonderful guy and people. The entire staff on the ship were top notch not a complaint on anyone, polite, friendly, helpful and boy do they keep this ship clean. We had great weather and smooth seas as we left port heading for a day at sea before Glacier bay. Glacier bay was phenominal being on port side we saw everything, Captain did a full two rotations at Margie glacier so everyone could see the glacier, I know we saw some calving it think everyone did, what a great day. Most of the cruise we had breakfast in suite with room service, it was hot an delivered on time. We enjoyed sitting on balcony having breakfast while we docked or pulled into port. Our first port of call was Haines, we had an exscursion planned, Portage glacier so we only had a few hours to tour area around ship. The excusion had a wonderful boat ride to the area of the glacier a bus ride to a camp where we suited up with life vests, boots and an oar (boy was my wife suprised) and hiked a half mile to ten man canoes. We only had to paddle about fifty yards before they could use trolling motor on back of boat. then we went ashore about a hundreds yards from portage glacier for pictures etc. Decent tour not sure wife would do it again, it was rustic, the outhouses were terrible. Juneau was our next port we had time to explore before and after our Whale watching excursion, with Mendehal glacier tour. I wish we had more than an hour at the glacier, theres a water fall Nugget falls thats walkable but its a two mile walk, I got pictures but I would've like a closer view. We saw five whales on our cruise to Orca Lodge for a great lunch and shopping (yes more shopping & the only place they don't have gift stores is the bathrooms in Alaska). It was a nice excusion, very well executed and narrated. We went to red dog saloon, I had five Duck fart shots which were very good, wife didn't care for them. Walked around Juneau for the rest of the day before heading back to the ship for dinner. We only ate in the main dining room once and it was very nice and good. Most of the time we were busy and just hit the Lido buffet which had similar items as main dining room, but finding a seat was a chore sometimes. Food was getting cold by the time we sat down. From Juneau we headed to Ketchickan where we saw first day of rain in some time. We had two hours to look around before we went to Neets bay for bear watching via floatplane. I was worried they may cancel flight but it went off without a hitch. The plane ride was great on the way to Neets bay. At neets bay we saw three bear up close and personal at the hatchery, evidently we were at the end of one salmon run and very beginning of another. The bears were within 20 yards but we were on observation deck. On the flight back to Ketchikan our pilot took us over some of the Misty Fjords and then thru some spectacular scenery, saw seals on rock, Dall sheep on hillside it was a wonderful flight back. Once back on ship we watched two adult eagles with a juvenile down on the shore line. Upon leaving Ketchikan we headed towards the inside passage in the rain and some rough seas. Once we got to the inside passage the seas smoothed out. Woke up saturday morning watched us pull into Vancouver which is a beautiful city for disembarkment. We had breakfast in room as we waited for our group to be called, we had a 9-9:30 time and we were at the airport by 10:15ish very easy. Overall it was a marvelous trip, I'd do it again in a minute. Holland America was very organized and terrific. The Noordam was well maintained, clean and the right size. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Noordam was a great choice for us. The size and number of people made getting around the ship easy. Staff were very pleasant and always helpful. Cabin 8085 was comfortable, quiet and very well kept up (Thanks Esha & Nougy!). Lots of ... Read More
Noordam was a great choice for us. The size and number of people made getting around the ship easy. Staff were very pleasant and always helpful. Cabin 8085 was comfortable, quiet and very well kept up (Thanks Esha & Nougy!). Lots of choices on on the Lido deck, the dining room was great with good menus and service, room service was terrific. We had a wonderful experience. Recommend booking a meal at the Pinnacle Restaurant-wonderful food, service and decor. We sat on our balcony most of the first day of the cruise watching the changing landscape which was a great introduction. All excursions were excellent. Ketchikan's Misty Fiords Monument, Juneau's helicopter to walk around on the Mendenhall glacier and then an evening whale watching, Skagway's Street Car Tour-a must!- and the luxury White Pass railway was well worth the price. Of course the day at Glacier Bay was spectacular. We ran out of superlatives! Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
I traveled with my 13 year-old daughter and 3 other relatives northbound to Alaska from Vancouver, departing mid August. After reading a few of the other reviews, I kept my expectations of the ship and its amenities/entertainment fairly ... Read More
I traveled with my 13 year-old daughter and 3 other relatives northbound to Alaska from Vancouver, departing mid August. After reading a few of the other reviews, I kept my expectations of the ship and its amenities/entertainment fairly low and was just looking forward to spending time with family and seeing the beautiful scenery. I was very pleasantly surprised with everything about the ship and its activities. The best part was, I didn't pay extra for Wi-Fi, so my teen daughter was deprived of her I-phone all week and forced to interact with us!! First of all, I cannot say enough about the ship's amazing staff! The Noordam's Filipino staff were the most pleasant, friendly, organized group of people I have ever come across. Every single person would smile and greet you. The dining and cabin service was top-notch. We loved the folded towel animals they left in your room every night! When I ordered a goat cheese omlet to the room for breakfast, someone actually called the room afterwards to check whether I enjoyed it or not. Unbelievable service. The Noordam itself is a very classic, elegant ship. Some reviewers complain about things like "worn carpet" but I didn't notice or pay attention to that - the ship was very clean and decorated with artwork and sculptures everywhere.The trivial things people gripe about amaze me. It's not like the ship can replace thousands of square feet of carpet but every so often. The cabin was very nice, we had an oceanview room on Deck 1. It was adequate for the 2 of us. It was pretty small, but I expected it to be. The shower was great and beds were comfy. I had coffee delivered to the room every morning and sometimes breakfast. In-room dining service is included with the price which was a nice surprise. Room service food was excellent (we only tried breakfast). The Lido Deck had a big buffet every day for all 3 meals, with some varying selections and certain items you could get every day. As expected, it is crowded. I have to laugh when people complain about this - you are on a ship with almost 2000 people trying to eat at the same time. I really enjoyed the ethnic lunch selections- they had Indian, Asian, etc that altered daily. The ship did a great job providing variety and appealing to diverse tastes in food. Yes, some things were bland or overcooked but that is often the case with mass quantities of food. Other items were very good. The main dining room food was presented beautifully, though the entrees often lacked flavor. Desserts were excellent, however. Dinner at the Pinnacle Grill (specialty restaurant) was fantastic. We had the lamb, salmon and a steak - all were top notch. I disagree with the reviewers complaining about the lack of entertainment - there were plenty of choices of activities. No, it's not a Carnival "Party Ship." We had no interest in that anyway. But we did see the comedian and magician evening show twice - both were very good. We went to the "America's Test Kitchen" and enjoyed the demonstration there. I went to the gym and did other things, wasn't expecting the ship to entertain me constantly. Disembarkation was as smooth as it could possibly be. Everything on this ship is extremely well organized. I highly recommend this trip. We were very lucky with the weather and it didn't rain. But it often does during late summer, so be prepared for that. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
I do not want to come across as sounding negative about this, since we did enjoy ourselves on this Alaska cruise/tour. We have cruised most frequently with Celebrity, but as first time HAL guests it's hard to avoid comparisons. Of ... Read More
I do not want to come across as sounding negative about this, since we did enjoy ourselves on this Alaska cruise/tour. We have cruised most frequently with Celebrity, but as first time HAL guests it's hard to avoid comparisons. Of course people have different impressions of things. Many people here have said that the Noordam is showing wear. We didn't really see much evidence of that. The outside decks are all gleaming white and look as though they've just been painted. All areas inside and out appear to be very clean and well maintained. Some of the negative comments may be due to the fact that a lot of the decor looks dated, although it's certainly not very old. Common areas: We found the Noordam to be thoughtfully designed and decorated in a mostly sophisticated fashion. There is some glitz but it's well placed. The ship was launched in 2006 and I think I've read that it was dry-docked for an overhaul in 2015. Much of the decor is tasteful and traditional, while in many places it looks like 1985 -- which obviously is not the case. There's a lot of dusky rose color and polished brass, well done but reminiscent of 30 years ago. The dark reds and rose shades, particularly in the otherwise attractive Vista Dining Room, make it feel a bit claustrophobic. If the ceilings were lightened up it might make the whole area seem more spacious. The ship features a lovely and interesting collection of European art pieces. There are some spectacular fresh floral arrangements around the ship. Certain details are pretty wonderful (like the elevator doors). All these features should make the Noordam feel somewhat classier overall than it does. I think this may be due to the otherwise dated and sometimes claustrophobic color schemes and traffic inefficiencies in certain areas. The ship's decor lacks a certain continuity and is somewhat disjointed. The ship has two pools. If only the Noordam were large enough to have an 'adults only' pool. Both pools were overridden with splashing, running kids the whole time; not particularly inviting for grownups desiring a peaceful poolside experience. Cabin: Our cabin was on Deck 1, the Main Deck. It had a window rather than a balcony. It was comfortable and the bed was good. The decor might have been a little frumpy but it was perfectly acceptable. Unbeknownst to us, our part of Deck 1 is beneath the BB King Blues Club. Don't plan to go to sleep early because the loud thumping music from the Club doesn't end until around 11:15. The cabin's layout where the closets are located makes for a particularly awkward area. That little hallway is always going to be tight, but the way the closet doors open, two people cannot easily access the closets at the same time. There are no lights in the closet and to see your things properly, you must turn on the hallway light, which is on the same circuit as the main ceiling lights in the cabin; not good if it's dark and someone is trying to sleep. I was surprised that the in-cabin TV did not have a channel where you can check on your bill to monitor expenses. I learned at the guest relations desk that they do not automatically provide a summary of your bill, you must request one. While the bathroom functioned just fine, what a dreary little place it is. A ship's bathroom is essentially one big plastic module and probably not easy to update. The color of these bathrooms is a peculiar tan, which reminded me of the color of panty hose; and the tub, sink, and door are that strange greenish-tan like degrading plastic computer components. Again, everything worked fine, but who ever chose the colors? Our mirrors were ready for replacing due to humidity damage around the edges. Lido Buffet: The Buffet is not self-serve, so there are big crowds at the serving areas. The kitchen crew serves everyone, order by order, so it can be slow-going and extremely cramped. I imagine it is not self-serve in the interest of preventing norovirus, which is admirable, but it makes for very inefficient service and crowding. The Vista Dining Room is not open at lunch, so the whole ship is at the Buffet, which is a mob scene at times. We occasionally escaped to the taco bar out by the pool. The Lido Buffet opens to a big aft deck, which has a lot of seating, but if the weather is inclement, everyone is crammed into the inside dining area. We are by no means foodies, but the Lido Buffet food was largely disappointing. Many of the offerings did not seem fresh and sometimes tasted leftover or of refrigerator. Some turn-offs were fat, grisly lamb shoulder; tough, stringy, overcooked asparagus; bleu cheese dressing with absolutely no flavor whatsoever; pre-made sandwiches in bags; and flavorless ice cream. All it has going for it is that it is cold. Of course the ship's cooking ingredients are not supermarket house brands, but it sure does taste like it. Coffee and cookies are excellent, as are the made to order salads (with an alternative dressing choice). Vista Dining Room: Service was excellent and the layout of the dining room is multi-level and interesting. We were seated in a different area for each dinner, which was nice. The food in the Vista Dining Room was head and shoulders better than that of the Lido Buffet, with a few exceptions. Buttermilk pancakes were rubbery and chewy; beef stroganoff was topped with two dry, stringy chunks of beef, and a few other items were lackluster. But most everything else was good to quite good. We never had dinner in the Buffet because the service, food, atmosphere, and stress level is so much better in the Vista Dining Room than in the Lido Buffet. Traditional afternoon high tea is also served in the Vista Dining Room. It's pleasant and the tea is good but many of the attractive-looking small pastries taste like supermarket house brand. A civilized tradition but sort of disappointing. Entertainment: First and foremost (and possibly tempting us to book with HAL again) is their Lincoln Center Stage. It's a chamber music venue that is too small for the number of people it attracts. The room opens to the hallway where clueless loudmouths often make hearing the exquisite music difficult, and is probably a distraction for the musicians as well. The quintet on board were brilliant musicians, accomplished and degreed, with delightful stage presence. We did not attend the BB King Blues Club since it's not our preferred type of music -- and as stated above, we were treated to a free show in our cabin every night. There were two production shows in the main theater during the week we were on the ship. The singers, dancers, sets, and effects are absolutely flawless and professional. The shows we saw were very loud, raucous rock-themed productions. No reflection on the performers, by any means, but I'm not sure if this type of show would be the choice of many of the guests on the ship. The comedian and especially the magician were excellent. My impression is that HAL, or at least this particular ship and cruise, is at a difficult crossroads as far as how to present its brand. I was expecting to find what its reputation is known for: catering to a fairly well-heeled mature clientele that prefers a traditional, rather sophisticated, classic cruise experience. The Noordam exhibits elements of a classic cruise liner, e.g., the teak steamer chairs, certain Deco details, railings and deckings; but is mixed with elements that make me fear that HAL may go the way of Carnival (I realize that's the parent company) and other lines which attract a more brusque, partying crowd. Of course any cruise line must update and reinvent itself to appeal to its current demographic, but HAL should take care not to lose its niche. Land portion: Our cruise began in Vancouver and we disembarked in Seward. A ten-hour motor coach ride (thankfully, with several stops and lunch) brought us to Denali National Park. HAL is to be complimented on how well they've accomplished handling enormous crowds, all working like clockwork. Our room in the Denali McKinley Lodge was comfortable and very attractive; we were in Building O, which seems to be within a fairly new enclave of buildings. And the train back to Anchorage was beautiful, spotless, and roomy. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
My DH and I have always wanted to take an Alaskan cruise. This was our 6th cruise with HAL. We brought two teens with us. We spent a few days in Vancouver, BC before boarding the ship for our cruise. We really liked Vancouver - ... Read More
My DH and I have always wanted to take an Alaskan cruise. This was our 6th cruise with HAL. We brought two teens with us. We spent a few days in Vancouver, BC before boarding the ship for our cruise. We really liked Vancouver - it's such a clean city. We stayed at an AirB&B and it was great. Much cozier than an impersonal hotel and we had more room, too. I'll review that on Air B&B later. I rate from a 5 star and reduce based on several things. My review would have been a 3.5 star if possible but that wasn't available and I do not feel that bumping it up to 4 stars would be right so we went down to the 3 star. Embarkation and disembarkation were very smooth - HAL has this figured out - the only thing is wear comfortable shoes because there is a lot of walking involved on embarkation day. Now, lets talk about everything else: The ship overall is looking a little tired. Brass and fixtures that used to be shiny and bright are now somewhat dull, paint in places is worn off and things just look worn. This reduced the star rating by 1/2 to 3/4 of a star. The cabin, on the other hand was in good shape and the beds were comfortable. The cabin stewards did a great job. I can say that you rarely see them yet your room does get attention several times a day. I got the feeling that overall for the entire ship, the crew was not as large as it once was. It seems that the room stewards have more rooms to take care of then on previous cruises and this applies to the wait staff in the Lido and Dining rooms. I'll address that later. Perhaps steam cleaning the carpets in the cabins could be done at a better time. We have never encountered a cruise ship cleaning carpets in the cabins while we were on the ship - my hubby ended up with wet sox from walking on the still wet carpet. I would think this would be done at the end of a cruise when peoples cloths and belongings are not out on the carpets. It just seemed an odd time to clean carpets - at least to us, otherwise he cabin was fine. Dining: The dining was good but not excellent. The service was okay but nowhere near as good as on prior cruises and this reduced my rating by a full star. On prior HAL cruises the food was almost always excellent - this time it was good to average. The dining room menu the the first night had selections on the left side of the menu that said they would be available every night but this turned out not to be true. One night was devoted to selections from up and coming chefs or winners of some kind of culinary competition. Most of it was not particularly appealing. Items were fancied up for fancies sake and not necessarily appealing to the average eater. Teenagers were not thrilled with some of the selections - if they didn't know what it was they weren't going to eat it. I can't say that the food in the dining room was any better than the Lido market. Sometimes steaks were cooked the way I like them (med-rare) and sometimes it was a crap shoot. Some steaks were beautiful, lean and easy to eat - other times you had to trim off parts and cut out gristle and other tough parts. By the end of the cruise the ship was out of a lot of food - it looked like Asian selections were way down, fruit was hard to find - our last smoothie had to be made with a mix and I was told they were out of strawberries and pineapple. Some items seemed old and dried out sort of like eating heated up left over roast which is now dry and chewy. The folks working in the dining room and the Lido Market really tried to take care of everyone but you could see they were very busy and never just standing around but getting service for refills or even first fills of things like iced tea and coffee was difficult. I was disappointed with the eating facilities we visited. Due to a stroke, my DH drinks his liquids through a straw yet some of the staff on the Lido told him they did not have straws available while others found him one quickly - this appears due to a lack of training on HAL's part. Entertainment was okay but we don't go to much of it because my DH has a hearing problem. We do love the Explorations Cafe for puzzles, games and coffee, and the Observation area (Crow's Nest?) for watching the glaciers and great views. The teenagers loved the Loft and spent a lot of time at the pool, playing ping-pong and chess with the giant chess set near the pool. This trip I avoided the Spa - their prices are just astronomical. $70 for a pedicure is crazy - especially when the going price in my neck of the woods is $25 for the same services. It seems like a lot of nickle and dime charges and very expensive charges for things. I'm thinking of trying a Viking cruise next time - they may be more expensive initially but they do include more - including one land tour at each stop. As for Port and shore excursions, we did one on our own - in Ketchican we hired a taxi for an hour ($75.00) to give us a tour of the town. The teens loved this - we stopped and saw some of the local flora and fawna - they got to pick and eat Salmon Berries which they loved and heard about other things the Indians used for food and medicine. We saw the town and met some people. It was a fun little tour before we went shopping in town. We also did the White Pass Train Ride in Skagway - that was fun and interesting but not as much fun for the kids - one slept the whole way - that was an expensive nap, trust me. That was not the fault of the cruise - it's hard to tell what kids will and won't like but it's hard when the zip line tour requires an adult to accompany the kids and the adult is 72 and not into zip lining so it's hard to find an excursion that everyone can do and enjoy. I'm not saying we didn't enjoy our trip - we did. I'm rating in comparison to other cruises and see a downward slope in the quality of services and and upward slant in increased costs. We do notice this stuff and it does cause us to think about taking our business elsewhere. We have booked 2 back to back cruises totaling about 51 days for next fall and are seriously considering looking at other cruise lines to see if we want to change this - I don't know if this was a fluke in the dining and service and do I want to do this for 51 days in a row? Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Embarked from Vancouver's Canada Place. Very confusing entrance to building, very long walk to the ship. Disembark at Seward was very quick. Ship: looks very worn in some places. Crew spent a lot of time polishing the bottoms of ... Read More
Embarked from Vancouver's Canada Place. Very confusing entrance to building, very long walk to the ship. Disembark at Seward was very quick. Ship: looks very worn in some places. Crew spent a lot of time polishing the bottoms of columns, stool pedestals, restaurant glassware, while Lido deck restaurants were very understaffed. Ship diagram signs signifying fore and aft, venue locations, etc were poorly placed, poorly designed (muted color), and thus difficult to read, resulting in crowds around them trying to figure out were things were and where to go. Suggestion: not sure why HAL couldn't have paper diagram maps at main desk, and in rooms and in library, as well as these hard to read ones. Suggestion: how about having the carpets in front of elevators having "fore" and "aft" designations woven into them (part of problem solved)! Two swimming pools were each too small. And the placement of the hot tubs was poor (too exposed to Dive-In tables). Also hot tub hours were too short (opened at 10:00, closed in early evening; hot tubs are best when it's cool, like in early morning and at night, not in the middle of the day, and who want's to expose their fat bellies to diners, anyway!). Also, the so-called maps they put in the cabins before each port are worthless as town maps. All they show it jewelry stores. Why can't they give us usable street maps that show locations of coffee shops, ice cream stores, pharmacies, restaurants, etc? BTW: they had very nice bouquets of fresh flowers everywhere, which is kind of nice, but seems like a poor use of money when they seem to skimp on crew (more on this follows below) Cabin: ours, with vestibule, on deck 5, was smaller than we've experienced with our other (NCL and RC) cabins. Toilets are too low to the ground, and with no grab bars (hard for me, with bad knees to sit down and get up, they were so low...how about installing ADA-sized toilets!). Also labels on the shampoo/conditioner/soap dispenser bottles had type too small to read, for someone who doesn't wear their eyeglasses while showering. HAL, how about a big S,C and BW on each bottle. Also the ship channel on the in-room TV has a static presentation. Takes forever for it to shift from one screen to another. And why does one screen reveal the hot tub and pool temperatures, when they never change? And why can't HAL include on those static screens the ship diagram. And in these modern times, why can't they make that channel interactive from the remote control device. Get with the times, HAL! Dining: Big sore spot, for many reasons. Lido buffet restaurant food was poor, stations placed to close to one another, lines were too slow and long, seats and table insufficient, dining hours short, station staffing sparse and staff impolite, wording on menu signs too small to read until right on them (thus slowing down the line) and some not even there. When food and drink ran out it sometimes took 5 minutes to replenish items. Also, Dive-In Grill hours too short (and fries weren't as great as Cruise Critic review says). Vista restaurant food was better, a was it's staffing. Canalito Italian restaurant not very "Italian." Room service food reasonably good. Entertainment: Pretty good. Main theater nicely designed. Side room for Lincoln Center entertainment open to corridor, so too noisy. But Lincoln Center chamber group was great!! I heard several people them their musicians they made the trip worthwhile for the. I second that opinion. Also comedian on main stage was excellent. Ships house singers/dancers were pretty good, though one of their night was hoky. Room service: fine. Ports and excursions: I can't remember which port was which, but I recall that the White Pass bus trip was a waste of time. Tundra tour was good. Rail to Denali was good. All tour guides were good. HAL hotels were pretty bad (old, lots of noise transmission between floors). The one in Fairbanks was a nice one. though, but it's wi-fi wasn't working, and staff said it hadn't been working for several days (they said Seattle office "was working on it"). I complained to front desk and they said "sorry." I said "sorry" wasn't good enough, that they had to compensate me. They gave me two free drink coupons. I said "not enough for two days without wi-fi." They then gave me two free meal coupons for their restaurant. Used just one. Meal was surprisingly good for a hotel restaurant. SUMMARY: I think HAL cheaps-out and also has it's eyes closed to what it offers. Do HAL executives ever take their own cruises? Is their vision clouded by what they've designed for us? Why don't they hire some independent "mystery shoppers" to take cruises and turn in independent reviews. Bases on my one experience with HAL, I'll think twice before I use them again. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We have previously cruised with Holland America, and like them overall. Their mid-size ships are better (in my opinion) than the larger ships with sooo many people. The clientele is generally adults and families. We had previously traveled ... Read More
We have previously cruised with Holland America, and like them overall. Their mid-size ships are better (in my opinion) than the larger ships with sooo many people. The clientele is generally adults and families. We had previously traveled to Alaska with HAL; we went back because the scenery is awesome and we wanted to do Denali this time. The Noordam has mostly balconies, and does not have the Lanai suites that are on some HAL ships. Though you don't spend lots of time in your room, it is nice to be able to step out on the balcony and enjoy the scenery from there. Hotel service is outstanding as is so typical on cruises: rooms made up twice daily including evening turndown, plus fun towel animals. Our stewards were awesome. We had a suite and it included a whirlpool tub and two sinks. I was blown away (in a good way) to find this on a ship. There are multiple food choices. I am partial to eating in the main dining room. On vacation, I don't want to have to collect my food in a cafeteria line; I would rather be served. Service at dinner was super. We had a fixed seating with the same two servers, and they got to know our tastes and preferences. Breakfast was still nice, but we didn't feel the service was as good. They came by immediately after you were seated and brought juice, coffee, water, and pastries, but sometimes it slowed down after that. Still, in a dining room, you're not looking for "fast food." We did breakfast in our room once, because we had an early tour. They were right on time and the order was accurate. Food tasted good though the toast was not hot. I don't know if this is something that just the Noordam did or if they have changed it across the line, but I loved how they handled tour meetings. In the past, we have had to go to a lounge, get stickers, and wait. On this trip, the meeting point was on shore, and it was up to us to get ourselves off the ship and find the person with the sign for our tour. This was definitely preferable to the other way. It gave us flexibility to get off earlier if we wanted to walk around before a tour, and/or buy a coffee, or whatever. The cruise line offered ample tour options in each port. We like the assurance that the ship will wait if we're late, so we generally book with the ship unless we want to sightsee on our own. Probably our highlight excursion on this trip was the whale-watching in Juneau. The company with whom they have contracted (Gasteau Guiding) uses boats that are specially designed for whale watching, and there are only about 20 people on board. They guarantee you will see a whale. We saw multiple whales; it was truly amazing. We had little interaction with the EXC tours staff because we booked our tours online in advance. All of our tickets were delivered to our stateroom, so there was no standing in line, which was great. On excursions, I would also highly recommend the hop on/hop off bus with luggage transfer for Vancouver if your flight arrangements permit. We had wanted to see Vancouver, and were afraid we would have to spend a night. But the flight that HAL arranged was a "red eye" that didn't leave until 11:00 p.m., so we had all day in Vancouver. They provided us special luggage tags on board for checking our bags with the hop on/hop off people, and those people were in the cruise terminal as we exited. It was a fairly smooth process to leave our bags with them and get started on the bus. Then we had all day to see Vancouver, hopping off and back on whenever we wanted. The ticket includes both the park route and the city route. When we were finished, we hopped on the "Sky Train" (ticket included in the excursion) and headed for the airport. At the airport, we picked up our luggage from the hop on/hop off people (pick up point a little tricky to find but worked out ok) and then checked in for our flight. The hotel where they put us in Anchorage prior to Denali had great staff but needs an update. The hotel staff were awesome but the contracted tour people in Anchorage (who handle transfer to the train and optional excursions) were not real helpful. We paid for a transfer from the airport to the hotel and they ended up putting us in a cab with a voucher. In hindsight, we would have paid far less to just get a cab ourselves. We also did a pre-trip to Denali, which I definitely recommend if you have the time and $. The train trip up is amazing - on a special Holland America train car with upper deck seating for all and restaurant on lower deck. There is a guide and a bartender who serves, in addition to adult beverages, coffees and other items. They run a tab, and during the last hour of the trip, bring you your bill and you settle with your credit card. Very convenient and efficient! The ship had a variety of activities. The asst. cruise director, Johann, was particularly visible as he ran trivia games and deejay-ed in the evening. The string group, now called "Lincoln Center," was very good and very popular - you had to arrive early to get a seat for their performances. The main stage shows were varied, with two Broadway-type shows on our 7-day cruise, plus a comedian, a magician, and a BBC Earth film of Alaska with musical accompaniment (this was GREAT!). We felt that music was too loud for the mainstage shows & probably damaged our hearing but the performers were good. The cruise director himself did not seem to be very present on the ship, at least to us. (Maybe we just didn't go to the right places to see him?) He did work to minimize announcements, which I appreciate. Embarkation at Seward was amazing. Maybe there were more crowded times, but we basically walked right up to an agent, who had everything ready, and we were on the ship within about 5 minutes. Disembarkation at Vancouver was also efficient. I love that they let you stay in your cabin now until you disembark, which made it more comfortable. Re-embarkation at that various ports was also pretty efficient and smooth, unlike another cruise line we have traveled on that has larger ships but just one magnetometer, so it takes forever to get back on the ship! It appears the Noordam was last re-fitted/upgraded in 2006, and there were some signs of wear, but the crew was also continually painting, repair, etc. to keep it in ship shape. Overall, we are satisfied and happy with this Holland America Cruise.Every ship can have little problems, but overall, things went well and we definitely plan to sail with them again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We are first timers, so we were a bit apprehensive. However we thought ship was excellent esp. staff, service, food, and most of all the classical quintet in the Lincoln Center. Other plus points were the gym, quiet areas around ... Read More
We are first timers, so we were a bit apprehensive. However we thought ship was excellent esp. staff, service, food, and most of all the classical quintet in the Lincoln Center. Other plus points were the gym, quiet areas around ship, state of decor. The food and service in the MDR were top notch , including afternoon tea every day. The cabin service was very good, prompt and polite. A few negatives such as the show on the main stage which wasn't great, the rangers talks, the kitchen tour ( which was a very short walk through and a few words from the head chef). Overall the experience exceeded our expectations and we would recommend this ship. Although having said that we are first timers so we have no other cruise ships to compare this one with. We had room no. 5189 verandah deck at rear of ship and we were very happy with it . Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Our group of six couldn't be more pleased. The stewards (room and dinner) treated us like Kings and Queens. The daily service was exceptional in every way besides be so helpful and friendly, but truly respectful. When we go on a ... Read More
Our group of six couldn't be more pleased. The stewards (room and dinner) treated us like Kings and Queens. The daily service was exceptional in every way besides be so helpful and friendly, but truly respectful. When we go on a cruise again, I hope its this staff and crew. The ship was clean, the rooms always up to snuff. Oh the food, beyond our expectations. The dinner stewards that we had for our set dinner hour was top notch. Truly professional in all phases. Always there to please no matter what we asked, they provide without hesitation or difficulty. The set meals were four or five course dinners with all the trimmings served with the upmost standards anyone could accept. Our tour included several ports which were well organized with great organziation and throughput. We are truly amazed just how large Holland America line is. They of course have the ship line, sister line of Princes, along with all the land base hotels, were all owned by Holland America, which made every stop transparent and smooth going. No complaints there either. Just to notch in every since of comfort and price. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Second time cruising on HAL in Alaska (previously the Zaandam same itinerary). Booked a week out with "they pick your inside cabin" rate. Got 6022 which is forward inside and aligned parallel to the hallway. Solo traveler just ... Read More
Second time cruising on HAL in Alaska (previously the Zaandam same itinerary). Booked a week out with "they pick your inside cabin" rate. Got 6022 which is forward inside and aligned parallel to the hallway. Solo traveler just over 65, and fairly active. I chose HAL because they stop in Glacier Bay and Haines on this itinerary. I remember they had an excellent Room Service policy, should I need to take advantage (you can still order anything from the MDR dinner menu during the first hour of service). I also like the Explorations Cafe venue for the free snacks (and btw if you have a beverage card, the coffee drinks there are included, which is not the rule on the other lines which have Starbucks etc for the premium coffees). The cabin I found small but serviceable, except that for some reason I did not have a chair, just a stool that tucked under the desk. I believe if I had realized that I should also have a chair, I could have asked for one to be delivered. The storage was plentiful, and there were sufficient outlets. storage and desk space. Bedding was comfortable, all plumbing worked well and drained properly. No musty odors or issues with cleanliness. Room stewards were excellent as was room service. My first day I made a dinner reservation in the MDR for a table for 2 , which was available at 8pm. That was fine with me, with the long port days. If I was peckish, I would go grab a pre-dinner snack from Explorations or Lido. Service in the MDR (2nd level) also flawless, although the last night it was a little slow but the assistant steward apologized. I was remembered every night and given the same table by the host. I had fish every night except one. All fish was cooked "a point" as they say and the steak as requested medium rare. The waiters checked back on my satisfaction.As far as Lido, it was a bit of a cluster... the circulation is difficult and crowded and the double-sided layout broken up by the Italian restaurant is confusing. My approach was either to go very early, or to grab a few appetizer dishes and then go out to the back deck, if I couldn't get a table out of the circulation pattern... Note that it is permissible for a single person or two people to sit at a big table in the Lido.. you aren't mandated to sit near the coffee service. fortunately the weather was good during most of our cruise. I also kept a stash of plain yogurt, fruit and smoked salmon (in ziplock) in my room fridge. Made use of room service for coffee a few times in the early morning. They came promptly within 15 minutes. (Tip..buy or bring a large insulated travel mug). As an inside cabin passenger, public spaces are important. Noordam has some good ones, in addition to Explorations, the Crow's Nest has a good forward view and there are lots of interior cubbies with windows on Deck 2. I also like the full circuit covered Promenade on Deck 3 and that aft deck section. The aft deck on 9 was crowded with smokers and loungers and noisy with the pool users. It's a shame they kept closing down the small open platform in front of the gym on 9 as there isn't an equivalent space with clear visibility facing foreward that doesn't have smoked glass with the exception of the bow. I loved the BB King players, and the Lincoln Stage is good if that's your cup of tea. I thought one of the comedians was awful and walked out after 15 minutes, same with the staff production show (although I am not a fan of that type of entertainment). The Trivia contests run by the South African guy were fun . The "naturalist" also was hit or miss, enjoyed part of his presentation on using binoculars. Watched some of the BBC documentaries on the television during the at sea days. Fortunately there was a NPS naturalist doing a whale survey on the bow and he was a big help to those of us interested in bird spotting in Glacier Bay. Wish the captain had kept the bow open longer, there was really no reason to close it in the good weather and calm seas we had all the way out until the NPS staff were dropped off. I enjoyed the pea soup service and the Chocolate Surprise "swarm" was delightful. Wish I hadn't had dessert that night.. we should have been warned. Did not like the Tea service with the giant tables and limited choices. Was slightly disappointed in the kitchen tour..too fast vs the much better one of Royal Caribbean. The gym has a great view but is crowded. I didn't care for the one stretch class I took, or the constant pressure to buy something if you took a class. As a 5-time cruiser I know better than to go all of the art auction and gym sessions which are designed to sell, sell, sell. I also didn't buy any ship's tours. Pre-cruise I went on the $98 Resurrection Bay boat ride with Major Marine, where we saw bubble-netting humpbacks and a pod of Orca. Also did the train from Anchorage on my own ($108) and used the white shuttle to Mendenhall so I wasn't limited on time. Had time to visit the "SLAM" which is in the center of town and excellent. Haines I just walked over to Mud Bay and used the free town bus to the Brewery. Ketchikan I used the public bus to Totem Bight and Potlach Park. Embarkation in Seward took an hour. In Vancouver I walked off with my own luggage in about 10 minutes. Read Less
Noordam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 0.0
Family 2.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 3.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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