Sail Date: February 2006
This is the first cruise that we've taken that embarked in NY and, being located in NJ, it was a pleasure for us. The embarkation for this maiden voyage was quick and painless, helped along by the fact that we were in a suite that got ... Read More
This is the first cruise that we've taken that embarked in NY and, being located in NJ, it was a pleasure for us. The embarkation for this maiden voyage was quick and painless, helped along by the fact that we were in a suite that got us to the head of the line. The rest of the family that were in inside cabins didn't have any complaints on the embarkation even though it took them a little longer. We were pleased that the ship did have that "new ship" smell even though we found out later that it had been used somewhat before our "maiden" voyage. It was very clean and sparkly, tastefully decorated. While the ship is somewhat larger than the Veendam we had sailed to Alaska on, our suite was a lot smaller (46 sq feet) as was the balcony. This was a small disappointment to us since we tend to spend a good deal of time in the room or on the balcony relaxing. We all agreed that the beds were very comfortable and my DH loved the pillows, soft yet firm enough. Being a maiden voyage, we expected some screw-ups and got a few but not anything of consequence that disrupted the cruise. There were minor things like the TV had not been formatted so we didn't find the bridge cam until 4 days into the trip and two boutonnieres were delivered for formal night but no corsage. If there was anything else, I can't remember it so it must not have been a problem. The staff were very friendly and helpful, especially our cabin steward and the dining steward. They discovered our tastes and made sure we had what we liked. The food was plentiful, varied and tasty for the most part. The Lido buffet has a sandwich bar and stations for hot entrees, Asian with fresh sushi, salad and pasta making lines less. If I could complain at all, it would be that the beef served in the dining room was less flavorful than I would have liked and it was difficult to get it as rare as I would like but my traveling companions thought all the food was delicious. We never made it to the Pinnacle Grill. Breakfast in the room always came on time or early. The demographics of the passengers was as expected, mostly early baby boomers and seniors. Our children are grown so we prefer the older, quieter crowd that we have found on HAL cruises but some children were also seen enjoying the pools and activities. The family members that went to the shows thought they were wonderful as well as the entertainment and activities in the various lounges. No one got bored or had trouble finding something of interest to do on board. There was something to do for any age traveler. The ports of call were Grand Turk, Tortolla, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and San Juan. Grand Turk, what the comedian called "dinky Turk" due to its very small size, is a new port and one without a lot of interesting places to see. We went for the dune buggy drive and enjoyed ourselves but we didn't see much but a lighthouse that we are not convinced was originally there. The Jimmy Buffet shops and bar were good but very expensive. If we did that stop again, we would just get off the ship and go to the beach at the end of the pier for the day. We enjoyed the "touristy" stuff on the other islands. In San Juan there wasn't much time to do anything. There is a little shopping to be had within walking distance of the ship. The worst part of the trip was the disembarkation and I believe that had more to do with the NY Port Authority (PA) than HAL. It was planned to go as other disembarkations where you get color/number coded luggage tags and when they call your color and number you go to the gangway. Unfortunately, after the crew called two groups of colors/numbers, the PA told them that they had to hold the passengers until all the luggage was unloaded. This meant standing by the door in the cold waiting for the PA to get finished. Unfortunately, we were in the first group that got held. Once HAL found out how the PA was going to handle the disembarkation, I am sure it was easier for the rest of the groups. One lost piece of luggage was found in blue 1 instead of blue 2 where it belonged. All in all, another excellent HAL cruise we would recommend to all. This is our favorite line. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
Review of the Noordam Maiden Voyage: February 22 -- March 4, 2006 A Vista Beyond the Others Introduction It goes without saying that many Holland America Line Mariners have been more than just a bit unhappy with the cruise-industrys ... Read More
Review of the Noordam Maiden Voyage: February 22 -- March 4, 2006 A Vista Beyond the Others Introduction It goes without saying that many Holland America Line Mariners have been more than just a bit unhappy with the cruise-industrys trend toward larger vessels. Those who much-prefer the S and R class ships (like the Statendam and the Rotterdam VI) tend to look upon the Vistas as being big, garish, and unwelcome. The Zuiderdam solidified this expectation, and some have been unwilling to look beyond this ship to see what others of the class have to offer. Having cruised on the Oosterdam and the Westerdam, however, I have become well aware that the Vista ships, even though large, do indeed maintain a strong continuity with the historic HAL and the traditions which have made this Line a favorite of so many for so long. The last of the Vistas, the ms Noordam, truly goes beyond the other Vistas in establishing a powerful bond to the traditions of excellence and the atmosphere of understated elegance and luxury which has typified the Holland America Fleet for so long. From the instant one boards this lovely ship one has no doubt about the fleet to which she belongs -- no Carnival, RCI, or Princess tub, this is HAL. The impression is confirmed at every turn, in every public room, in the staterooms, and in the traditions of her gracious staff. The Vistas have, truly, come home with the ms Noordam. Her interiors are replete with the artistry and elegance of superb nautical engineering and refined european style accented with the warmth of wood and earth-tones. I was at home the moment I entered the Ocean bar and saw the hard woods, the oval-shaped dance floor, and the curve of the bar. The Explorers Lounge literally cradles one in comfortable luxury and the refined tones of a string quartet, while the Crows Nest provides expansive views of the open ocean during the day, and an enjoyable place to sit and chat, or dance with a partner, during the evening. The main dining room is both open and intimate, and the Pinnacle Grill is an inviting venue in which to share a leisurely meal with friends. Truly, the Noordam is a credit to the Holland America Fleet ... a true Vista Beyond the Others. Differences from the Other Vistas: From first glance it is obvious that this vessel has incorporated several major upgrades and improvements that are not currently present in the other Vista Ships. Of particular note is the inclusion of the Explorations Cafe in place of the Internet Center. This major improvement, which is part of the Signature of Excellence upgrades being introduced on the S and R class ships, finds an excellent expression as implemented on the Noordam. Part of the Library complex, yet also independent of it, this area is an excellent place to come and make use of the multimedia, print, and internet resources available here and elsewhere aboard the ship. There is also a coffee bar where specialty coffees can be purchased for a nominal fee. Another upgrade which is of particular note is the introduction of the Pinnacle Bar in place of the Windstar Cafe. This comfortable, useful lounge is perfectly situated not only to help relieve the congestion at the entrance to the Pinnacle Grill, it also is a bar and lounge in its own right and a pleasant place to sit and enjoy pre or post dinner drinks. Another major improvement is the redesign of the Ocean Bar and Lounge. On the other Vistas the Bar and smoking area is located in a narrow section on the starboard side of the ship. This cramped area has been a serious problem for the full and efficient use of the Bar; on the Noordam, however, the bar has been moved to the Port side where it sits in the open. The starboard side has been opened up, with several conversation areas maintained for people who want to sit and chat while not being bothered by the hustle and bustle, the music and dancing found on the port side. The redesign more effectively opens the Lounge all across the open atrium, making the space feel larger and less congested, even though the square footage has not been increased. Yet another significant improvement can be found on the aft Lido deck, where the deck space abaft the aft pool has been expanded. There is far more deck space here than on the other Vistas. Likewise, a canvas awning has been added on both the port and starboard sides, providing more shaded areas for people to sit and eat outdoors. This expansion on the aft lido deck has been enabled by an extension of the decks below, resulting in additional cabin space for 70+ more passengers. The aft verandahs have been narrowed as a result, and while this might be seen as a disadvantage to some, the overall result is an improvement in the outdoor public spaces. General Impressions on the Ships Decor: As I have already stated, the interior spaces of this ship will be truly pleasing to the tastes of the average traditional HAL Mariner. The use of woods, carpet, paneling, wall paper, and art work is truly elegant, stylish, and conservative. The color choices are very pleasing, with earth tones and primary colors predominating. The Atrium art piece -- a huge gyroscope that changes color as it rotates -- is quite appealing. The use of art pieces and other related items from the prior Noordams (as well as other HAL ships) provides a lovely tie to the Lines history. Captain Cards paintings are truly lovely and amazing -- dont miss them in the forward stair well. The color scheme in the Piano bar is, in my opinion, superior to that found on either the Oosterdam or the Westerdam, and the Vista show lounge is more warm and inviting that the Westerdams dull white scheme. Overall, the crew of the Noordam appears to be off to a good start in maintaining the traditions of the spotless fleet, for constant cleaning was in evidence wherever one turned. And particularly if one were to roam the corridors late at night, as I do. The Maiden Voyage: The Noordams maiden voyage left New York City on February 22, 2006, a 10 day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. It was a very nice itinerary, involving 2 days at sea from New York to the Caribbean, 5 ports-of-call, and then 2 days at sea returning to New York. I was aboard with a large group of friends from Cruise Critics, and much of my fun orbited around activities with them. In large part, this cruise was more about the ship and the people and less about the islands, hence I shall not spend much time detailing the ports of call other than to say that they provided the average cross-section of cultural, natural, and economic attraction. My stateroom was my favorite J-category Inside: 1037, which was nearly identical to the same cabin which I have had twice on the Oosterdam. Entering it was like coming home. The only major difference was the flat-screen TV and the DVD player, which was a nice improvement over the CRT display found in this category on the Oosterdam. For more on this cabin, see my review of the Oosterdam. Being a maiden voyage there were a few bugs to be worked out, and this is true both of my cabin of the rest of the ship. As a result, engineering staff could be seen moving around the ship on a regular basis, repairing this and that and adjusting various controls. The AC in my cabin failed to work properly during our second sea-day, but engineering quickly adjusted it until it worked perfectly. The internet kept going down, and we lost all ship-to-shore communications for our two-day return trip to New York. Special gifts for maiden voyage passengers included an inaugural cruise commemorate plate, a book about the Noordam, and photo montage of the cruise. Additionally, this cruise was also the voyage on which I was awarded my 100-day Mariner Pin and Hardware. Service: Being a Maiden voyage I anticipated problems with the quality of service in the dining room and cabins: a crew takes a bit of settling in until they work well together, and I was willing to be patient. To my pleasant surprise the problems which we did encounter were far more limited than I would have expected, though there were times when they were quite annoying. My cabin steward was exceedingly efficient; indeed, after several days of conversing with him I became convinced that he had served me before and he confirmed it, admitting to have been my cabin steward aboard the Volendam in 2003! What a pleasant surprise! I enjoyed prompt service from bar staff ... several of whom remembered me from the Oosterdam, the Westerdam, and the Volendam. One wine steward in the Pinnacle recognized me right off my Panama Canal cruise on the Zaandam, and even remembered my favorite wine. The service in all these areas was exemplary, to say the least, though our wine steward in the main dining room was sometimes difficult to flag down. Service in the Lido was excellent, and prompt, although there are times when two attendants are needed at the sandwich station. Additionally, I would prefer not to have to direct the attendant at the Omelet station to cook the ingredients of my Omelet before adding the egg batter. In the main dining room our service stewards were pleasant, and they did their job to the best of their ability, nevertheless it was a continual problem that our evening meals dragged out to 2 or more hours. In the past I've usually been done with dinner by 10 pm, but on this cruise we were lucky to be eating our entree by that time ... and then, sometimes, what was offered was not even close to what was ordered. Service began slow, and improved a bit, but by the time we left St. Maarten it had taken a severe nose dive, with several members of our group experiencing unacceptable fiascos. For the most part I can chalk these problems up to miscommunications on the part of the staff, as well as to a difficult time some had in understanding english, however many of these errors were simply beyond what patience should be expected to accept. We experienced similar problems in the Pinnacle Grill. Peter was an excellent waiter, and had a good sense of humor, but meals in the Pinnacle on 3 occasions dragged far too long ... one evening extending to a full three hours! This is simply unacceptable. Given time to settle in to a new crew, I would hope that many of these problems would work themselves out. And, I am aware that many who were seated in other areas of the main dining room did not encounter these kinds of problems. However, in talking with other passengers it became clear that we were not alone in some of the service problems we experienced. They should be corrected. Food: I would have to judge the quality of the food on the Noordam as being, by-and-large, quite good to excellent. I've always enjoyed the food on Holland America; even when I thought it a bit bland, I nevertheless enjoyed it and was always able to find something I liked. On the Oosterdam in January 2006 I was pleased with the quality of the dishes and felt it would be hard to surpass my experience there. The Food on the Noordam, however, managed to do precisely that. Yes, many of the selections are quite similar to what can be found on other ships of the fleet, but by-and-large the quality of the preparation and presentation was superior to any on other HAL ships. This is true in the main dining room and in the Lido. Yes, there were occasional errors and problems with what was delivered, but when the correct item came its quality was usually outstanding. At least, this was my experience. Dress Code: Sometimes the failure of ones fellow passengers to observe the dress code can be a bit distressing -- it is sad when one feels conspicuous on formal night simply because one is wearing a Tuxedo! Such was not the case on the maiden voyage of the Noordam. This 10-day cruise from New York to the Caribbean was among the most formal cruises I've ever been on. Formal Nights saw an overwhelming number of men in Tuxedoes or, in the very least, dark suits. Yes, some were in slacks and sports jackets, but MOST (overwhelmingly most) were in Tuxedoes on all three formal nights. White dinner jackets abounded, especially, on the middle formal night, when we were still in the Caribbean. I saw very few men (I could count them on the fingers of one hand) who failed to abide by the minimum the Dress Code outlines. Informal night saw most men in suits or slacks and sports jackets, and many men elected to wear a tie on those evening. Indeed, even on Casual nights the number of men wearing jackets to dinner (with or without ties) was amazing to behold. As for women: gowns, dresses, fancy pantsuits, furs, hats ... the ladies were dressed VERY well most evenings, and rarely did I see any women who were not at least nicely attired. Conclusion: The Maiden voyage of the Noordam was a wonderful cruise, and the Noordam herself is a fantastic ship ... a true credit to the Holland America Line and an excellent final installment of the Vista series. The first of the new Signature ships will have a difficult time meeting the standard of excellence the Noordam IV has set. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
We are seasoned cruisers, my husband has cruised over 30 times and I have cruised approximately 20. We were on the inaugural cruise 2/22/06 from NYC. Embarkation was long & tedious, very unorganized. The ship was beautiful, our ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers, my husband has cruised over 30 times and I have cruised approximately 20. We were on the inaugural cruise 2/22/06 from NYC. Embarkation was long & tedious, very unorganized. The ship was beautiful, our stateroom was on Deck 8; large room (over 350 sq. ft). Our balcony was spacious and have lovely comfortable furniture. Bathroom was gorgeous! Loved the dual sinks, separate shower and jacuzzi tub. Tommy, the cabin steward did a fantastic job keeping the room clean. Wonderful service throughout the cruise..everyone was polite, friendly and helpful. Now, for the bad news!..........the food was HORRIBLE. Breakfast and lunch were ok, but dinner in the dining room was awful. Out of our 10-night cruise, we only had 2 good meals. Never saw such small, mushy lobster tails in my life, and who wants meat loaf? The quality of the food was poor and didn't have any flavor or taste. We thought the food on the maiden voyage would be wonderful but it wasn't. Disembarkation was probably the worst part! People were trying to enter the terminal while passengers were exiting through the same door! Luggage, passengers and porters were everywhere! It was a nightmare...Holland America needs to have a separate entrance and exit. It was confusing and chaotic. Overall, it was a good cruise. 10 night cruise is the way to go, very relaxing and unhurried but if they don't improve the quality of the food and their disembarking process they're going to lose customers. We probably won't sail with Holland America again. We prefer the QM2. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
I was on the inaugural cruise with holland americas newest ship The Noordam. The embarkation went very smoothly for a New York port. I found the room beautifully decorated, with an outstanding balcony which was larger than most suites. ... Read More
I was on the inaugural cruise with holland americas newest ship The Noordam. The embarkation went very smoothly for a New York port. I found the room beautifully decorated, with an outstanding balcony which was larger than most suites. The food was fantastic and the service at the dining room table 141, was superb. The lunch in dining room was ok nothing fantastic as dinner. The Lido was noisy and crowded. You had to wait on lines to get your food. The ocean bar was too small, and people kept on bunking into each other. It wasnt like the other ships where the ocean bar is next to the casino. They served appetizers but not on a plate like they use to but by a server. There was no music by the pool until the fifth day when my husband complain to one of the staff. No pool games until the last day. The smoking accomodations were terrible. Instead of having one side for smoking and one side for not smoking they used a small area, and people who did not smoked complained. Even though you were sitting in the correct area and the top was open, they said they were getting smoke in their faces which wasnt true. The overall picture of the ship is outstanding. The shows in the lounge were one of the best i have ever seen on a ship. Since this was my 36 cruise with Holland, I feel I can judge the ship's qualities, in comparison with their other ships. I feel that since Carnival took over this line is has gone downhill. I will not take another Holland america cruise again. Its dull dull and dull. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
My name is Justin and ... All right, I'm new to Cruise Critic, but this was my second cruise. It was the Feb 22, 2006 Maiden Voyage of Holland America Line's new ms Noordam IV. My first cruise was also with HAL on their new ... Read More
My name is Justin and ... All right, I'm new to Cruise Critic, but this was my second cruise. It was the Feb 22, 2006 Maiden Voyage of Holland America Line's new ms Noordam IV. My first cruise was also with HAL on their new Zuiderdam in May of 2005. The cruise on the Noordam was spectacular. I'll begin with embarkation, which was a bit questionable. Though this was the first cruise out of New York's port in a while, so I wasn't surprised by this. It seemed like they threw that pier together in a few hours and said wait here and get on later. Besides being a bit uncomfortable, the embarkation was very fast and the people were accommodating. Next I have to talk about the ship itself. The ms Noordam was beautiful and a behemoth compared to many liners on the seas right now. It was beautifully decorated as well. Some of my favorite art was a set of paintings of Holland America Line and other Dutch ships by Stephen J. Card. These were located between each floor on the Forward Staircase. Their was a number of great sculptures including a set of dolphins next to the pool. The set-up of the Noordam made sense and was efficient. Everything was easy to find and get to. The Show lounges were great. The Vista Lounge was very open and there was a great view whether you sat in the front row on the floor or the back row of the balcony. The queen's lounge was slightly smaller and was also easy to get comfortable in. The Explorer's Cafe or EC as it's known onboard was perfect for getting a coffee and browsing through some books, or just relaxing on a very comfortable couch. Personally one of my favorite parts of the ship. You could also rent movies here and I met a good amount of friends here. Now it is time to describe my favorite part of the ship --> The Loft. The Loft is a fairly new brainchild of HAL. It is a teens only version of their Club Hal program. I, being a teen (age 16), thought this was the greatest thing they could have put on a cruise line that is usually geared more towards the older more sophisticated side of cruising... (Our joke in the Loft was that we were on the "Floating Nursing Home"). There was about 10 kids my age on this cruise, and we all became very good friends by the end of the cruise. We spent almost all of our time at sea together in the Loft, which was equipped with a great set of A/V equipment: 6 small and 2 giant plasma screen TVs, a jukebox loaded with songs and music videos, and a DVD player. They also had PS2's. As for seats we had couches, giant bean bags, and our favorite things ever --> Giant Memory Foam Balls. The activities were great and if you are yourself or are travelling with a teen make sure they check out the Loft. The rooms were spacious even though we were only in an standard sized room (it was obstructed view too, but we had booked late) and our room steward was great. He made us a number of little "towel-buddies" shaped like various animals. I guess it is just like any service on Holland, it's great.. The room didn't really matter to me anyway, I want to be out around the ship, not in my room. But they were still clean, comfortable, and fairly spacious. Food, the reason cruising lives today... The food on Holland is spectacular... I'll start with the Lido Buffet: It was great. They had great food from sandwiches to sushi to pizza to chicken and of course desserts... and it was all delicious. The great thing about people in the Lido Deck is that you can always make friends here. I met a number of very nice people just from siting down next to or near them at lunch. You also make a number of friends with the people that work in the Lido deck. One man that worked at the dessert counter knew by the second day that I would want a chocolate soft-serve in a dish and he would have that ready for me. My waiter from dinner in the Vista Dinning Room also was in the Lido a lot. His name was Manhattan. Him and Joko were excellent waiters for dinner. The Vista Dinning Room was great. It was elegant and the food was sometimes a leap of faith, but always tasted great. I think in 10 days of trying a number of different dishes i only didn't like 1 soup. This food is excellent... and a word of advice is just to try something new... Entertainment was great as always. The shows were well put together and the singers/dancers were extremely talented. There was also the Northern Lights Dance Club that changed its theme each night and was a good hangout for anyone from my age to the age of 80. You'd be amazed who you'll find dancing to some techno in the Northern Lights. The Queen's Lounge also played a number of movies and other venues throughout the cruise. I guess this is the end of my review... I just want to say that there was some bad talk about this cruise, but it was a maiden voyage, some mistakes were going to be made, but HAL made this my favorite and most memorable cruise. The Noordam is beautiful, the service is great, and the name Noordam is drenched in History. If you have a chance to get on the Noordam, GO!!!! Your Cruising Friend, Justin Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
I was one of the first lucky ones to be on the NEW Noordam. I am a travel agent for one of the top agencies in the US so was lucky to be selected for a 1 night inaugural cruise in New York. I came back so inspired and rested. From first ... Read More
I was one of the first lucky ones to be on the NEW Noordam. I am a travel agent for one of the top agencies in the US so was lucky to be selected for a 1 night inaugural cruise in New York. I came back so inspired and rested. From first glance, the ship is extremely handsome and sleek. Check in went smoothly and we were on our way! This ship does not have a spectacular atrium like other new ships. However, it has a lovely staircase which is illuminated with soft yellow lights. We spent a lot of time at workshops, learning more about the HAL brand but in between, I had time to enjoy the ship. Our stateroom was #6064. It was lovely! The beds were so comfortable. The bathroom had ample space and we received Elemis products as our amenities. The verandah was quite large and could have fit my family of 5 on it!!!! We visited the Green house spa for a tour of this calm and beautiful facility. We ate lunch at the Lido Restaurant. Very good food and pleasant service. We had an excellent dinner in the dining room and our surf and turf was outstanding. After dinner, we went to the Crow's Nest bar, which offered a stunning view of New York. The gift shops and casino were closed since we were in port, so I did not get to visit them. Were things 100% perfect? Not yet! The servers were very pleasant but you could tell that they had a few small things to perfect first. Would I sail on this ship? Absolutely! Will I recommend this to my valued client's? Of course!!!! I was actually depressed to leave the ship. All my best! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2006
Holland America -- Noordam Cruise Review March 25 - April 5, 2006 My husband and I were first time cruisers. We spent our time researching the top three cruise lines, destinations, prices and chose HAL as our first cruise line. The ... Read More
Holland America -- Noordam Cruise Review March 25 - April 5, 2006 My husband and I were first time cruisers. We spent our time researching the top three cruise lines, destinations, prices and chose HAL as our first cruise line. The Noordam was still receiving its finishing touches as we eagerly went through the floor plans, pictures and cruise reviews -- we would not be disappointed. In fact, we can honestly say that this cruise was the best vacation we have ever taken. We let HAL make all the arrangements and safely arrived at the ship almost 3 hours before departure. When we stepped aboard it was into another world. The first stop -- our room. Our room was designed with the ultimate use of space. We were fortunate to be upgraded to an outside state room, level 4 almost midship. Beautiful, contemporary with many hidden luxuries would best describe the room dEcor. The bed must receive a special mention as it was the most comfortable bed we have ever had the pleasure of using. Fluffy white Egyptian cotton towels awaited you in the bathroom which was compact but efficient. I wished the countertop was a little bigger and the hangers in the closet did not move when the ship rocked but you get used to this quickly. The side tables had locking drawers and there was a safe in the closet for your valuables programmable with your own code. Each evening when you return to your room after dinner and a show you would be greeted by a chocolate on your pillow and an expertly crafted towel creature. The ship was only a few months old and beautiful. The signage made it very easy to get around and the crew never tired of pointing passengers in the right direction. The only thing which surprised us -- smoking was allowed around the indoor pool on the Lido deck. We quickly found a detour up to level 10 to avoid this area -- just a note to non-smokers. There were 3 restaurants on board the Noordam: " Lido Restaurant " Vista Dining Room " Pinnacle Grill Breakfast, lunch and dinner were available in the Vista Dining Room and Lido Restaurant. The Pinnacle served only lunch and dinner . The Vista We personally did not have breakfast in the Vista but did enjoy lunch and many dinners. This dining room was a more formal atmosphere with required attire on certain evening and a selected, more limited menu. The food was always inspired, portions were controlled but you were always full and could order as many dishes as you wished. Most selections were fish and red meat, however, they always had at least one chicken and one vegetarian selection. There were four dinner seating which you arrange at time of booking. You had the same table and the same dining steward for the entire voyage. They quickly get to know your tastes, especially your drink selections which would often arrive at your table shortly after you were seated. The Lido -- The Lido restaurant was a favorite amongst many of the passengers on the ship. Breakfast and lunch were both served buffet style. Dinner had the same menu as the dining room but in a more casual atmosphere without the appetizers and desserts. Surround windows and the ability to sit where and with whom you desired for all 3 meals made this an appealing selection. The amount of good and choices available were almost ridiculous, beautifully prepared and presented. Entertainment -- There was a list of entertainment every night including piano bar, string quartet, dance clubs, Karaoke, casino, movies and the showtime at the Vista Lounge. I ventured to the early show at the Vista Lounge the first full day of the cruise and I was pretty much hooked. The quality was more than I had expected for onboard entertainment. The Noordam was in its inaugural year, there was a lot of talent on the stage and I found myself wondering if these entertainers had done or would soon do time on the stages of New York or Toronto. After the show let out you cold move onto the casino, piano bar, string quartet or into one of the many bars for a drink. Day Life -- Every morning the days schedule would be waiting outside your door. You could scan it over breakfast and decide what you were doing that day OR you could lay out in the sun and find out what it felt like to do nothing. On the shore excursion days, ship activities would be reduced since most passengers would be off enjoying the island activities. Things to try if they are offered&the chicken toss, the galley tour, the cooking shows and ice carving demonstrations. Things learned by a first time cruiser -- "Make your own fun. "Participate in as many or as few things as you can or want. "Try new things. "Talk to everyone you see, everyone is on vacation so the mood level is phenomenal. "Don't get a table for just you and your family at the formal dinner seatings. Try a table for 6 or 8 -- if things don't work out you can have you seating changed or go the the casual dinner instead. "Get up early and stay up late when you are in port -- you can sleep when you're at sea. "Try to see the ship dock and leave port as many times as possible. "Go with the intentions of making new and lasting friends. "If you are a 1st time cruiser tell people, you get a lot of good advice and it's a good ice breaker. "You may get sea sick but don't worry, they have pills for that and they really work. "Keep a journal -- even point form to trigger good memories. "Take pictures and more pictures, you can never have too many. "Get familiar with the ship as soon as possible. "Bring small bills to tip your cabin steward, most times it is covered in your daily charges but trust me, you will want to tip over and above. "Join Cruise Critic. "If it's your first time to an island go on a shore excursion. "Warning! You will be hooked. "Happy traveling.  P.S. it will be a long way down your first day back in the real world so brace yourself -- this may possibly be your best vacation ever! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2006
The Noordam is a gorgeous ship. It was, all in all, a favorable experience. We knew it was not the greatest itinerary but leaving from NYC where we live was a major factor. The accommodations were spacious and beautifully decorated. We ... Read More
The Noordam is a gorgeous ship. It was, all in all, a favorable experience. We knew it was not the greatest itinerary but leaving from NYC where we live was a major factor. The accommodations were spacious and beautifully decorated. We had two junior suites. I did think that a suite meant two rooms but this was one large room--plenty of closets and drawers and a very large balcony. Entertainment was not great although they did have some lectures and piano and bands going until late in the evening. Now for the few negatives which I hope have been ironed out. We were told that the ship would start loading at 11:30 with buffet lunch at noon. We had to stand and wait for almost two hours and the ship did not even start loading until nearly 1 PM. Very inefficient boarding procedures and not enough staff. We were exhausted when we finally boarded. They will take complaints but do nothing to address them or even appease you. Medical care is terrible. The doctor is there two hours a day--for 2,000 passengers. When she misdiagnosed a very bad soft tissue injury (our son is still in a cast and she said she saw nothing wrong), we had to seek a doctor on our own in St. Martin. I will say that when someone had a heart attack, they had a special code and medical team arrived with a defribrilator immediately. They have a doctor 24 hours a day for staff and crew and two hours a day for passengers? If you are not verifiably dying, do not count on medical care on this ship. The food was good--not excellent but certainly adequate. the dining room staff and our room steward were outstanding and, in general, I would rate the service excellent, even down to the laundry and dry cleaning. A major inconvenienceis that passengers gobble up deck chairs for the day and never use them.When the ship is at sea, it is almost impossible to get a chair because they are all reserved and most unoccupied. The moment someone gets up to leave, there is a mad rush for their deck chair. If people did not reserve chairs at both pool areas and not use them, there would be ample seating for all. My assessment of this cruise is that Holland America runs a spotlessly clean and efficient ship. The value is outstanding and you get a lot for your money. However, I do prefer the smaller ships such as Silversea. But you do get what you pay for on HAL. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2006
This was our first cruise with Holland America. Our perspective is from a history of 6 cruises including Holland, Royal Caribbean, & Carnival, no children, husband & I are near forty years old, we like to snorkel. The average age ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Holland America. Our perspective is from a history of 6 cruises including Holland, Royal Caribbean, & Carnival, no children, husband & I are near forty years old, we like to snorkel. The average age on this ship seemed about 65 or so, but we didn't mind one bit. Embarkation: the real only negative we experienced. It was unusually long, but, being a new ship we figured there may be kinks to work out. During that time however, we met some really nice people, some we went on islands with later on. Ship: The ship was stunning, beautiful, abundant with bouquets of fresh flowers, orchids on all the tables of the Lido buffet. Some lounges were a little small to hold everyone. The fitness center had plasma tv screens on each treadmill & stepper you could listen to with earphones. This was the first time we saw a movie theatre on a ship. The retractable roof over the pool came in handy. Service was outstanding. Experienced calmer seas than we had expected out of N.Y. Sea days were enjoyed as an opportunity to relax amongst those busy port days. Stateroom: Having booked an inside guarantee cabin, we were pleasantly surprised at an upgrade to a obstructed ocean view which offered so much natural light. the daily fresh fruit basket, use of Holland robes, flat screen tv/DVD player in the room were nice. Dining: The dining room food was excellent, the best food we've eaten on any ship prior. Our dining room friends were some of the nicest people on the ship. Before you stepped into the dining room, a staff member in uniform rang a dinner bell (more like a small harp) throughout the dining room area, so sweet. One night they had a barbecue buffet out by the pool served drinks out of pineapples, almost like a luau which was unique & fun. Entertainment: We enjoyed most of the shows, but especially the Noordam singers & dancers shows. They sang wonderfully, the stage moved all around, pyrotechnics, a lot of fun. We also enjoyed the piano bar very much. They had an Elvis night, Sinatra night, etc. and you could sing along with the piano player/singer. Ports-of-call: Grand Turk: Shore excursion feeding stingrays on Gibb's Cay, then relaxed on the beach by the pier. When questioned while we were attempting to make plans, the ship excursion staff didn't seem to realize all that was available (car rentals, taxi's, etc.) at the pier. We would've done more on our own. We booked this excursion because the ship told us they were only about 6 taxi's at this new pier. Tortola: shore excursion to The Baths. Amazingly beautiful, especially the trail to devil's bay. St. Maarten: rented a taxi, snorkeled at Little Bay (saw starfish for the first time), Drove & boated to let Pinel. Beautiful place. Has 2 sides, one more beachy/populated, can order food, the other, less populated, more snorkeling, no services. Went to Orient Beach (some nudists there) and saw a barracuda, but not really a place to snorkel. St. Thomas: Coki beach--our favorite, great snorkeling, pretty beach, then taxied to Secret Harbour, saw a turtle snorkeling. Puerto Rico: took a taxi to Isla Verde beach, nice, but we wished we did the rainforest tour instead from what we heard and saw on the ship tv. Overall: a beautiful time, no real complaints, We definitely would cruise again on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2006
My wife and I are in our mid-fifties and this was our second cruise. Our first was 18 months ago on the Millennium by Celebrity in the Mediterranean. The Noordam is very similar to the Millennium in all aspects. All in all this was a ... Read More
My wife and I are in our mid-fifties and this was our second cruise. Our first was 18 months ago on the Millennium by Celebrity in the Mediterranean. The Noordam is very similar to the Millennium in all aspects. All in all this was a very satisfying cruise. Following are some of the negative issues we experienced. First, the embarkation in New York was a disaster. Everyone seemed to arrive at the same time (11.30 AM). There were agents allocated to US citizens and separate agents for non-US passengers. The process was unusually long. It took us almost one hour to board the ship. The service ( one-half the crew was Indonesian and the other Filipino) was uneven, excellent in the staterooms and very ordinary in the dining room. The dining room staff did not explain the menus properly and there were numerous errors made on orders (10 people at our table). Another beef was the spa swimming pool which was an additional charge of $20/day or $50/cruise. This should be included in the cruise price. As a result, this pool was empty. The only other major problem was the breakdown of the satellite which controlled both the phone and the internet. It was actually out of order for over 48 hours in a row. and when operating, it was very erratic with significant interruptions. This left a sense of insecurity if you were relying on the internet to keep in touch with home. Finally, the crew was continuously "hawking" various activities, products and drinks. I guess this is the price to pay for ownership by Carnival. Here are some of the positive aspects of the cruise and most were. The staterooms are outstanding. In the verandah suites, there is both a whirlpool bath and a shower, and a two sink counter. Lot's of room. The food was very consistently good. There was significant variation every day, and a large choice on each menu. We enjoyed the Pinnacle Restaurant (surcharge of $20/person). It was worth the extra. The ship was always very clean and the service in the buffet restaurant (Lido) was excellent. The age profile was quite old, with many disabled passengers. I assumed that this was due to a New York port of departure and arrival. Disembarkation was extremely well organised. It made up for the unruly embarkation. The daily entertainment show was consistently of high quality. We were at the last sitting in the dining room at night and everyone made their way to the nightly show. The ports of call were very nice. Dominica was especially different and unusual. I would recommend Holland America to others. I still prefer nightly seating arrangements to open seating. With the right people, this is an enjoyable experience. 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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