381 Holland America Noordam Cruise Reviews

We sailed on Noordam last year and liked it so much we decided to go this year on the other half of the 20 day cruise . Everything was great ! Great service , our stateroom ( 6070 ) worked really well with 2 showers and 2 sinks.Noordam ... Read More
We sailed on Noordam last year and liked it so much we decided to go this year on the other half of the 20 day cruise . Everything was great ! Great service , our stateroom ( 6070 ) worked really well with 2 showers and 2 sinks.Noordam is in great shape and I found none of the "stained carpets " referred to in some previous reviews . Dining room food was excellent , as was the food in the Lido. ( We don't like the Pinnacle ). It appears they have increased the size of dining room portions for dinner . Just enough to eat without overdoing it . The ship never felt crowded , everything was well organized . The shows were entertaining , including 2 comedians , one of which "Skinny German Juggle Boy " was hilarious . We go to all the shows but the Noordam singers and dancers are our least favorites .The weather was perfect , shore excursions were well organized . Our stateroom stewards did a great job . Thank you Hary and Erick !If you go to the piano bar , say hello to Danielle the beverage server , she is delightful. Tell her "Mr. Frank " said to say hello and you'll get a free drink . ( OK , just kidding about the free drink ) . Almost afraid to try a different ship because we might be disappointed compared to the wonderful service on the Noordam. Even the front desk was a pleasure to deal with . Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
We arrived the day before and stayed at the Embassy Suites on 17th. The rooms were nice, very close to shopping for last minute items and they have a shuttle to port. I believe it was $9.00 per person - much less expensive than a taxi. ... Read More
We arrived the day before and stayed at the Embassy Suites on 17th. The rooms were nice, very close to shopping for last minute items and they have a shuttle to port. I believe it was $9.00 per person - much less expensive than a taxi. The homemade breakfast was very goodThe embarkation went relatively smoothly. We only had to wait about 15 to 20 minutes until our number was called. After that we were on board and in our room in short order. Looked out of the veranda for a while and went to the Lido for lunch. We thought it would be packed, but it wasn't. The food was very good. In fact, the food during the whole cruise was excellent. Much better then Princess. Our room people were wonderful. Anything we requested was taken care of, quickly and with a smile. Seems like they really make a cruise.We really liked the entire itinerary. The best was Half Moon Cay. We rented jet skis and it was a hoot. The water is so clear and beautiful.We actually enjoyed all of the excursions. We booked through Holland and everyone was very nice and extremely knowledgeable about where we were.The last two days the salad in the Lido was a little wilted, but not bad enough not to eat.The only disappointment was with the photo shop (Ocean Images). Two days before we disembarked we ordered a photo. They said it would be ready the next day after 6:00 pm. We went back and they said they were running a little late; went back again about 9:00 and they couldn't find it. They said they would deliver it to our stateroom. The next morning (disembarkation day) the photo was under the door but it was not a picture of us. On our way off the ship we stopped by the photo shop returned the wrong photo, they said they would mail us the correct photo. We have never received it, but then again, we were never charged for it. This was quite a disappointment. I will never wait again to order a photo. I have emailed Holland, they told me to email the Ocean Images, but I have never heard back.We have booked three more cruises on Holland we are really looking forward to them. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
We were not disappointed.We were on board the Noordam by 1145 in the morning and we were able to enter our clean and and comfortable room as soon as we boarded. The first people we met were Anwar and Budi, our room stewards--- with out a ... Read More
We were not disappointed.We were on board the Noordam by 1145 in the morning and we were able to enter our clean and and comfortable room as soon as we boarded. The first people we met were Anwar and Budi, our room stewards--- with out a doubt they set the mood for our entire cruise. These gentlemen always smiled, had a happy greeting and had our room straightened lickity split. My husband and I chose to have all our meals on the Lido dining room or pool side. We found that dinner time was quieter, the service was just as professional and we had the choice of how much or how little we wanted to eat. Meals were delicious! We loved Eli. She served our meals with such verve and energy, that gal was always happy. We located the bars that had 2 for 1 each evening, our favorite was the Pinnacle and our favorite mixologist was Alphonso. He makes the best Gimlet! My husband took advantage of the computer classes daily. I attended one or two classes with him and found that Jason has a great ability to teach even the most computer illiterate (me). Good job!! There was plenty to do on board, I took advantage of the cooking and craft classes when I wasn't reading. Our room had a veranda, it was a lovely place to just chill out and read. I simply just can't say enough about the staff aboard the Noordam-- all were so nice and helpful. Captain Hans had to cancel one of our ports because of the wind, he let his guests know why and that he had the safety of all aboard in mind. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
By Cruizer Bill and Cruizer Diana: We recently completed a 10 day cruise on the Noordam, travelling to the Southern Caribbean, and here is our review. We are 57 and 61 years young and this was our 11th cruise, fourth on HAL. ... Read More
By Cruizer Bill and Cruizer Diana: We recently completed a 10 day cruise on the Noordam, travelling to the Southern Caribbean, and here is our review. We are 57 and 61 years young and this was our 11th cruise, fourth on HAL. Coincidently, our cruises on HAL ships are in chronological order - our first two cruises were on an "S" Class ship The Ryndam, our third cruise was on an "R" Class Ship the Volendam, and now our fourth cruise was on a "Vista" Class Ship, the Noordam. The improvements made to the Noordam are amazing! It was like HAL had given us a questionnaire and asked us what we would like to see improved over the "R" Class ships and incorporated all the changes into the Noordam. We REALLY like the expanded Lido Atrium with lounge chairs in the shade. Same for the extended shade area on the Aft Pool are of the Lido deck. We also like the outside elevators mid-ships. Other great features were the expanded library left right where it belongs, a main Show Lounge that is expanded but still maintains the warm character of the smaller ships, and the artwork with the warm, traditional sailing theme throughout the ship. This is the tenth ship of any kind we have cruised on and is by far our favorite so far; even better than the Celebrity Millenium Class ship we have sailed on. The ship is in excellent condition. It is very well maintained; no complaints here at all. We saw people working to keep Noordam in good shape at all times. Embarkation - We arrived way early because we were turning in a rental car and did not want to get hit with a late charge. We showed up at 10:20am and could not board the ship until after 12:00pm but that was entirely our doing. HAL now has early arrivers wait until the rooms are ready. So as soon as they allowed us to board, we went straight to our room and dropped off our carry-on bags. Our luggage arrived the first day by 1:30pm. Passengers who showed up at noon breezed right through the check in process, so HAL deserves perfect marks here. Check-in facility notes: • Restrooms are on the left---just as you enter the building—before you are given the health form and before security. • Restrooms are also in the second waiting room—after you check in and get your cruise card, but not in the 1st waiting room after security/before check-in. • Refreshments (coffee, water or punch, cookies) were available in the 1st waiting room, just past security (none in the 2nd waiting room). Food - The Lido ran very smoothly, much better than our previous cruises. I think HAL has listened to us and organize the Lido to be easier to gain access to the desired food and they found how to speed things up. Food quality ran from good to excellent and I was very satisfied. Breakfast in the Lido is absolutely fantastic—great selection and very tasty; lunch was good, but DW would have preferred a few more healthy lunch options!!! The stir fry was all pre-made and with thick sauces. The Ryndam had a made-to-order stir fry that DW would sure like to see on the Noordam!! We have seen the top-end food quality at the evening meal go down in the past 20 years due to cost controls but that is certainly reflected in keeping the cost of cruising reasonable - which it certainly is. We had anytime dining and enjoyed it. We had two nights in the MDR where we showed up at 6:00pm and were not able to make the 8:00pm show, so we started showing up at 5:30. People wanting prime steaks can visit the Pinnacle Grill. We went to the no-fee Canaletto restaurant and enjoyed it very much, especially the fine view from the 9th deck! Service - Our room stewards were excellent! Every request was cheerfully accommodated, they kept our ice bucket full and bathroom clean and well supplied. They were so good we tipped them extra. As mentioned above, service in the MDR was at times too slow but we cured this by showing up earlier. Service in the lounges and on deck was spot on. The HAL crew is excellent, that is what brings us back. This cruise experienced high winds and rough seas on the day we were scheduled to visit Grand Turk. The Captain decided it was just not safe to enter the narrow channel leading to Grand Turk and we instead slowly made out way to Samana, Dominican Republic. We had the port charges for Grand Turk reversed on our onboard accounts and the ship threw us a Rum Punch party that afternoon with free drinks and the HALCats providing music. We still had fun, thanks! Passengers - This was the oldest group of passengers we have cruised with so far. I would guess the median age was about 75 with more people over 80 than under 55. I would also guess the mix was 60 to 65% female/ 35 to 40% male. It appeared Canadians were 35 to 40 percent of the passengers and the vast majority of passengers came from the East Coast. We saw fewer than 20 children on this cruise and they were almost invisible. Entertainment - We enjoyed the shows and especially the Piano Bar with Jimmy Maddox. Music was geared towards our age group. HAL is reaching out to the Baby Boomers now in their entertainment and we appreciate this very much. I'm a music fan and enjoyed the "Name that Tune" in the Piano Bar each evening. I won three times and came in second twice. Jimmy Maddox is so good that a group of five women booked this cruise so they could listen to him. They sat on the stools at the piano and seemed to be enjoying the cruise more than anyone else! We also like playing group trivia four or five times with the CD Shane and our friend Carole (OnthegoGirl). Diana attended several of the Digital Workshops and enjoyed them very much. Our cabin was excellent! This was our very first verandah and we are now spoiled! The cabin was laid out just the way we like it and was very clean. The bathroom had the excellent Elemis shampoo, conditioner and body wash in convenient dispensers in the shower. Our best cabin ever! We signed up for Unlimited Laundry at the Front Desk the day we arrived. It cost $7 per day; $70 for the 10 days. We set the laundry bag on our bed with the paperwork filled out each day and it was returned to us washed and folded the next day like clockwork. We loved it! Value for the Money - Since this cruise was after the holidays we got a great deal. Also, the Vista Class ships have LOTS of verandahs on them. We were able to get our verandah cabin for the cost of an ocean view cabin. This was an excellent bargain! When comparing the price of this vacation to a land vacation where you have to pay for a hotel, meals and rental car, this is considerably less expensive! This cruise was quite a bargain and we would do it again without hesitation. Bottom Line - We have a new favorite ship! Disembarkation - Our disembarkation was lightning-fast. We signed up for the four-hour Land & Sea Excursion/shuttle to the airport. We met in the Ocean bar at 8:00am. Disembarkation was scheduled for 8:15 and by 8:20 we were off the ship. We walked through the terminal, picked out our bags, went through customs, and by 8:35 were seated on the bus with our luggage stowed under the bus! We had a wonderful bus-and- boat tour of Ft. Lauderdale and were dropped off at the Ft. Lauderdale airport by 1:00pm. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
Just the facts: Day 1: Flight on-time leaving city. Arrived in Fort Lauderdale (the Saturday before embarkation as planned), followed instructions to call hotel for courtesy van to hotel, only to find out that I had no reservation for ... Read More
Just the facts: Day 1: Flight on-time leaving city. Arrived in Fort Lauderdale (the Saturday before embarkation as planned), followed instructions to call hotel for courtesy van to hotel, only to find out that I had no reservation for Jan. 15th (even though I was holding reservation numbers for January 15th and 23rd e-mailed to me from the Smooth Jazz Cruise travel agent). That snafu was handled well. I was relocated to another hotel (Hilton at the same price as the Hampton Inn). Thank you Day 2: Transported on courtesy bus from Hilton to the Hampton where I boarded the bus to the pier. The trip/transfer of luggage to the pier went smoothly. Embarkation went quickly, even though there was a line it moved quickly. Boarded the ship, had lunch/drinks met great people, immediately. Room was ready (with luggage delivered) in an hour. THIS IS GOING TO BE A GREAT VACATION!! Info regarding which artists will be appearing in each of the many music venues also left in the stateroom so I can plan what I'm going to do tonight! Stateroom and veranda were smaller than I had anticipated, but enough room for 2 had it been necessary (remember, I'm traveling solo). There was plenty of closet space for 2 and the bathroom was more than adequate and very clean. No complaints about the cleanliness of stateroom throughout the cruise. Stewards (Mohammad and Bah)were great. Enjoyed a great concert, took a picture with Jeff Goelub and Phillipe Saisse. I am on my way to a Smooth Jazz lover's heaven. Had dinner in the Vista Dining Room after the show where I shared a table with another solo traveler. We pretty much hung together for the remainder of the trip. Great variety on the menu, although the food could have been a tad warmer. Did the Crow's Nest Lounge until about 3 A.M. OH, MY GOODNESS! Day 3-6: More of the same - meeting and hanging out with great people, enjoying awesome (I mean breathtaking) concerts, mixing/mingling with the Smooth Jazz artists (many of whom I was photographed with) and fantastic food. Enjoyed the Italian restaurant one evening(the name escapes me, now). Delicious food, also. The barbecues were awesome, as well. This entire cruise was everything I anticipated. It was truly an ageless, international gathering which in itself speaks to the power of music. Thank you Smooth Jazz Cruise sponsors and participating artists, stewards, cooks, Chef Roy (who prepared a special dish for me daily and had it delivered to my table in the Lido buffet), bartenders, front desk personnel, and Amy Grove my Smooth Jazz travel rep. This was truly the vacation of a lifetime for me. I will do it, again! Day 7: I chose the independent disembarkation (my flight out of Fort Lauderdale was an early one). Disembarkation went smoothly. I placed my luggage outside the door the night before and it was waiting for me in a color-coded area outside the ship Sunday morning. I was met by a very friendly, knowledgeable baggage handler who retrieved my luggage, walked me through customs outside to where he hailed me a taxi and off to the airport I went (about a 15 minute drive). My Southwest flight(s) were on-time and even though I had to change planes in Nashville, Tenn., the gate for the plane I was boarding in Nashville, was right next to the gate of the plane that I got off of. Arrived on-time to my final destination. If you're a Smooth Jazz lover, you owe this to yourself! Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
I had wanted to go to Aruba for years and this cruise - booked the Costco travel - was a great value. we received 10 nights for about what we would've spent for 4-5 days in Aruba without the entertainment, and 5 additional ports to ... Read More
I had wanted to go to Aruba for years and this cruise - booked the Costco travel - was a great value. we received 10 nights for about what we would've spent for 4-5 days in Aruba without the entertainment, and 5 additional ports to visit. another advantage of going in dec., and maybe 10 days, is there were very few children on the cruise. Also, it was nice seeing the ports and the ship decorated for Christmas! Our room was very nice, comfortable, and larger than we had expected. We rested more on this cruise than we have in years! They have a list of about 1,000 DVD movies that they will deliver/pick-up from your room. Happy Hour with reduced drink prices were offered daily at all bars. Curacuo was our favorite stop & should not be missed!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
My wife and I managed to finally get away for a holiday, prior to the hurly-burly of Christmas, and back onto a HAL ship. It had been a year since our last cruise (in Dec. '09) and, reading some of the reviews and boards, we wondered ... Read More
My wife and I managed to finally get away for a holiday, prior to the hurly-burly of Christmas, and back onto a HAL ship. It had been a year since our last cruise (in Dec. '09) and, reading some of the reviews and boards, we wondered how things would be. Generally, No Worries! We had a very enjoyable cruise on the Noordam and concluded that Holland America Line continues to reliably deliver a solid vacation product. Cabin: we were in a deluxe verandah suite, via a paid upgrade from a superiour suite (itself a very nice category that has satisfied us in the past) which was too good to turn down. We do enjoy the cosseting from the Neptune's Lounge, with the snacks and the related services, meaning one never has to line up anywhere for any reason. Service in the Neptune's Lounge was overall quite good and attentive. Food: of course, everyone has different taste and food is subjective, but we were satisfied with the meals in the main dining room. We often ate there for lunch, avoiding the Lido on most days except when returning late from a port. Lunch in the main dining room was lovely--I mean, for someone still in the workforce who often has take-out at my desk, how nice it is to be well served with a lovely three course luncheon! Dinners were also in the main excellent. We found the choice of menu items most days to be sufficiently varied. While on one day we were not "wowed" by anything, we then took advantage of the "always available" selection--service was very good to great at our table for two, food was reliably tasty and, happily, the use of salt was not excessive. We enjoyed wine from one of the wine packages, and of course there is a mark-up but we felt it was reasonable for the wine served. We dined in the Pinnacle on several occasions, including for the new Le Cirque menu. We found it a pleasant change. The Pinnacle in the Noordam was one of the better ones we have encountered in recent trips. We enjoyed many room service breakfasts, (plus at leat one late lunch when back from port after the dining room was closed) and the steward did indeed help set us up on the verandah--a nice way to start the day. Sometimes we grabbed a lighter breakfast in the Neptune's Lounge, also a good choice. Bars: we enjoyed the Piano Bar and the pianist on this ship--everyone sang along and it was a convivial crowd. A nice way to enjoy some time after dinner. While we usually go to the Ocean Bar pre-dinner (second seating), on this cruise the band stopped at 7:30pm, for a break right up until dinner was served at 8:00 pm, so we decided not to go to to the Ocean Bar before dinner. I would suggest that the band's schedule be changed so that they break after the peak "pre-main-dinner" time. The Ocean Bar was dead without music! Shows: I went to a few, my wife did not (she waited for me at the Piano bar). I thought they were fine, for what they are. It is not Broadway, but its a nice way to pass an hour. Ports: we have done all these ports before, and they were not the reason for the trip. Pretty places, nice beaches which we found. A suggestion for HAL is that, as they want not only retired customers but those still working, is to not have every tour depart early in the morning, when one is in a port all day. When on holidays I enjoy sleeping in and the last thing I want to do is rush around early in the a.m. if I can avoid it. The one exception I make is for Half Moon Cay, because there never is enough time at that wonderful island--once again, it made for a great last day. All in all, it was a very nice cruise and we were sorry it came to an end. We look forward to returning to HAL, hopefully before another year goes by. If you are looking for a nice ship, with pleasant and helpful staff, and for the most part very pleasant fellow passengers, then the Noordam is for you. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
BACKGROUND Married couple in our late 50's. This was our 7th cruise. We have cruised on Celebrity (3), Holland America (2), Princess (1) & Carnival (1). Our preference is Celebrity. We picked HAL this time because it had the ... Read More
BACKGROUND Married couple in our late 50's. This was our 7th cruise. We have cruised on Celebrity (3), Holland America (2), Princess (1) & Carnival (1). Our preference is Celebrity. We picked HAL this time because it had the itinerary we liked. HAL OVERVIEW Holland America is geared toward an older crowd. You will see a lot more canes/walkers & wheelchairs than on Celebrity, Princess or Carnival. They tend to start the day a little later so if you like to have a early breakfast or get a good spot at the pool you will have really good luck. The older crowd also means fewer kids on board. One drawback is they move a lot slower around the ship. EMBARKATION We made our own flight and hotel arrangements and flew into Fort Lauderdale a day before our cruise. We always like to do this because if you fly in the same day as you sail it makes for a really long day and you just seem to tire out pretty early that evening. Coming in the day before lets you get a good nights sleep and you feel pretty good on sail day. We stayed at the Hampton Inn Cruiseport. They have a courtesy shuttle that will pick you up at the airport and take you to the ship the next day. Be sure to sign up for the cruise ship shuttle when you check in. They also will take to a few nearby restaurants to eat. We arrived at the cruise terminal around 11:30am. It was crowded and took a good hour from the time we got off the shuttle to the time we stepped on board. The rooms were available about 1:00pm. STATEROOM We booked a Superior Veranda Suite on Navigation Deck 8. Good closet space with plenty of hangers. Lots of shelf space. A couch and 2 chairs, a desk to do makeup/hair and another desk where you could read/write/etc. The bathroom had a double sink, a whirlpool tub with shower along with a separate shower. The veranda had a table with 2 chairs along with 2 other chairs with ottomans. We were very pleased with the size and layout of the room. DINING ROOM We did open dining and usually went down when the doors first open. The first couple of nights we shared a table with other couples. The rest of the nights we ended up dining at a table for 2. The food was good but not awesome. The selection and presentation was also good. PINNACLE GRILL We dined 3 nights in the Pinnacle Grill. There is a $20pp up charge to dine here. We had made reservations for 2 nights prior to the ship sailing and ended up dining once again on the last night of the voyage. The food and service at the Pinnacle Grill in my opinion are worth the up charge. It is some really fine dining. However, one of the nights we had a reservation on was also a night they were doing something special. It was called "A Night at Le Cirque". It was already being done on some of the other ships and this was the very first night to be done on the Noordam. It was a $39pp up charge instead of the normal $20 for the Pinnacle. The premise was that the restaurant would be turned into the famous "Le Cirque" in New York. It was not. The only thing different that night was the menu. And the selection was not as good as what the regular Pinnacle Grill menu served. We paid the additional $19pp up charge because we thought it would be a fun experience. I really feel like we got ripped off. Shame on you Holland America for not delivering. SHOWS The shows were okay. If you've been on a cruise before you know what the shows are like. They did have a couple of real good feature performers but also some we had seen on previous cruises. If this is your first time cruising you should enjoy the shows. THE SHIP The Noordam has been in service since 2006. Although clean and well kept it did look worn in a number of areas. The biggest thing I noticed is the carpets could use replacing. The public areas not so much but the carpet in our stateroom looked really worn. The only other real bothersome item is that one of the halves of the pool roof enclosure was not working. That side of the pool area got really hot and stuffy during the day. Hopefully they were able to repair it before the next sailing. The roof enclosure is one of the nice things about the HAL ships. If the weather turns inclement they just close the roof and the pool stays enjoyable. DISEMBARKATION Everyone seems to be doing the scheduled disembarkation times which really makes things work smooth. You just show up at the appointed time and you get off the ship and through customs in no time. We used the airline baggage service for the first time on this trip. For $19pp they get your boarding passes for you, take your luggage from the ship to the airport and get it checked through to your final destination. After you set your luggage outside your stateroom the last night of the cruise you don't see it again (unless you get pulled by Customs) until you claim it at your final destination. HALF MOON CAY This is Hal's private island in the Bahamas. It is really beautiful with a fantastic beach. We rented a clamshell cover which I highly recommend. They have a number of other activities you can do while there. If more than one ship is there be sure to eat lunch early as it will get real crowded. OVERALL HAL is a good cruise line. If you are okay with the older slower crowd you will have an enjoyable time. We would cruise HAL again. GRAND TURK: Our first visit to this port. We both like Grand Turk. A very small island (approx 3-1/2 wide x7 miles long). The cruise dock area has a lot of shops, a Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville and the whole area is really clean. There is a nice beach right next to the dock. The island is still recovering from previous hurricane damage but they are making progress. Took the Conch World tour which was interesting, enjoyed the drive around the island. SAMANA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Our first visit to this port. This is old time Caribbean. Very poor but a beautiful island. Lots of locals hounding you to buy their wares. A lot of people will not like this port but if you are a traveler in the true sense it a place you'll want to see. We did not take an excursion on this island. BONAIRE: Our second visit to this port. Beautiful clear water. You can see fish swimming all along the waterfront. Did not take any excursions but will likely do the next time we're here. Some good shopping. CURACAO: Our second visit to this port. One of our favorite ports. Part of the reason for this cruise selection was that we were in port at Curacao from morning until 11:00pm that night. The harbor front area is really beautiful at night. Great shopping. We took an excursion the first time we came here but decided to just walk around this time. We ashore early in the morning for several hours and then came back to the ship to eat lunch and rest. We went back out later in the day, ate dinner in town and sat around the harbor until about 9:30pm. It was wonderful. ARUBA: This was our 3rd visit to this port. Another one our our favorites. No excursions this time. Good shopping and just walking around. One of those places I wouldn't mine just flying to and spending a week. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This was the twenty first Cruise for my wife and I, but our first on Holland America . We chose this cruise to sail again with three friends we met on a French Polynesia Cruise back in 2008 and were also joined by another couple to make a ... Read More
This was the twenty first Cruise for my wife and I, but our first on Holland America . We chose this cruise to sail again with three friends we met on a French Polynesia Cruise back in 2008 and were also joined by another couple to make a group of seven. I am in my late 50's and my DW is in her early 50's and we expected the HAL demographic to be older, but were surprised by the mix of ages on this Cruise especially with it being a Ten Day. We had a very active Cruise Critic Roll Call running for quite a while before this Cruise started and we even met several fellow CC Members a month or so before the cruise for cocktails and drinks locally. The group on board the ship had two Sail Away Gatherings early on, one from Ft. Lauderdale and one from Half Moon Cay on our first day at sea. We also had a nice Meet and Greet mid-Cruise which included the Captain, Hotel Manager, and the Cruise Director who all spoke briefly. There were 30+ CC Members on the Roll Call and over 80 people in the group as a whole. We flew to FLL two days early and stayed at the Hilton Marina Hotel which is very nice and right near the pier. We could actually see the port from our Balcony including the back of the new Allure which had sailed in that first Morning for outfitting. We could also see other ships doing turnarounds on Thursday and Friday as well as our ship the Noordam and the Oasis and many others there on Saturday morning. We left for the Pier at 11:00 on Saturday morning, checked our bags with the porters, and started the process of checking in. This went very smoothly and we were given a boarding number (5) for when we could get aboard. It took maybe 15-20 minutes for us to be called and we were on board before 12:00. We had a Balcony Cabin, Port side toward the Bow and I believe it was about 1:30 when they announced that the Cabins were available. Our luggage arrived also about 2:00. The cabin itself was in great shape, plenty of storage and room for the two of us. Only downside to this cabin was the location as we heard the Anchor and thrusters in the morning. Good earplugs helped, but the vibration was noticeable. Think I would go more mid ship or higher in the future. We then spent the afternoon checking out the ship, and lunch of course, as well as relaxing for a bit in the sun by the aft pool. The Noordam is a beautiful ship and we noticed very quickly that the Crew was one of the most friendly bunch we had experienced. They continued to live up to this for the whole ten days too. Muster Drill is still kind of "old style" in that they have you line up on deck, unlike many lines now that have you meet in a lounge or designated area instead of on the deck. You were able to leave your life jacket in the cabin which is nice. The whole procedure moved quickly though and no real complaints. We had six stops on this ten day cruise and three of them were the first three days. First day was at Half Moon Cay which is a really nice private Island and tendering was done pretty well. It was a bit crowded there with two ships stopped at the same time, but no problem finding chairs, etc. Second stop was Grand Turk where we arrived at noon and wandered down the beach to Jack's Shack, a quaint little bar about a 20 minute walk down the beach to the left of the pier as you face the Island. Not crowded, chairs available for a small fee, good drinks and some great fresh made Jerk Chicken. Drinks were reasonably priced and a nice plate of the Great Jerk Chicken was only $8. Worth checking out the next time you visit there. The third day we stopped at Samana in the Dominican Republic which is also a Tender stop. Had heard of issues here with peddlers being a bit forceful, so opted for a Ship's Excursion: Dominican Experience and Shrimp Feast. They picked us up by boat right at the ship, had a nice Dance Show, lunch and Beach time. Guess the stop is improving as they realize the importance of the Cruise Ship trade to their economy. Did not hear any real negative comments from people who went into town or on other trips/excursions. We then had a Sea Day ( finally!) before our next three stops at the ABC Islands. Bonaire was the next stop and this was our only really bad weather day of the ten. It was sunny early, but the rain started slowly about 10:00 and got worse as the day went along. We skipped our plan to go to the beach and just checked out the downtown before going back to the ship and relaxing in the Center Pool with the sliding roof. Nice to have this on a ship. Was open on most days, but were able to close it on the poor weather days to have a nice place to lounge by the pool. Curacao was our next Port and we went to the Beach ( Cabana Beach). Very comfortable chairs were available with thick pads for $12 for the two of us. Nice Beach, and since it started to sprinkle we had a nice lunch at the outdoor restaurant there. Williamstad is a very lovely town, set up much like a town in N. Europe. Nice walking along the canal and shops and great pastel colors to all the buildings. The next day was Aruba, our last port; which we had been to a couple times before. We went down to Eagle Beach and enjoyed a hot sunny day before heading back for a short shopping trip and back on board. The last two days were Sea Days which we both really enjoy. Again, great service and very friendly staff on this ship. Food on board the Noordam was well above the average of most of our prior Cruises and the service was as good as on any we have done. MDR portions were ample, food was flavored pretty well- which we sometime have felt was a bit bland on some lines. Table service was superb! We had room service on most Island Days and it is nice to be able to order eggs cooked to order for room service. Hot dishes were delivered hot too, which is a plus. Good choices also in the Buffet for breakfast and lunch and do not miss the Bread Pudding, it is wonderful. Ice Cream is also available daily in the afternoon, hard pack as well as soft serve, no charge. We did the Pinnacle Grill one night, about the middle of the Cruise and we enjoyed that too. Great lobster Bisques prepared at the table, nice appetizers and we had a very good Filet Mignon and Lamb Chops as our entrees. Disembarkation was extremely well done. We were to meet in the Vista Lounge at 8:45 and we arrived there right on time. Our color was already called so we proceeded to the gangway, had our luggage, and were through customs just after 9:00! It could not have been smoother. As I mentioned, this was our first HAL Cruise, but not our last. I booked the Veendam for Bermuda next year and look forward to sailing with HAL again. We both were impressed by the service, friendly crew, food quality, and the lovely ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
I Chad have been in sales all of my life & Deb is a teaching aide for K-5th grades. This was my 2nd cruise with Holland America line as well as Deb's. We sailed Ms. Zaandam on the 15 night circle Hawaii Dec 23rd 2009 - Jan 6th ... Read More
I Chad have been in sales all of my life & Deb is a teaching aide for K-5th grades. This was my 2nd cruise with Holland America line as well as Deb's. We sailed Ms. Zaandam on the 15 night circle Hawaii Dec 23rd 2009 - Jan 6th 2010. Deb has only been on two cruises & this was my 6th cruise to the Caribbean. November 13th 2010 Embarkation day: We were forced to leave our home much earlier than expected due to a zero visibility warning because of fog. We arrived safely at Detroit Metro with time to spare & eagerly anticipating the boarding of our flight & thankful our baggage weighed in at 49.6 lbs & 49 lbs. We need to book direct flights unfortunately not being able to fly in a day early due to Deb's vacation day allowance & maximizing cruise ship time. Flight on time & successful! Arrived 10:37 am Ft. Lauderdale Florida. We took a cab from the airport to the cruise terminal, which is so close that you can see the cruise ships while taking off & landing at the airport. 2 or 3 miles I believe. The cab rates are $9.95 each way per person. Excitedly we arrived at the cruise terminal for Ms. Noordam. I must mention that this is a large cruise terminal with many ships & that Royal's Oasis of the Seas is outrageously HUGE! HAL has embarkation & disembarkation down to a science & we were also told that now when you board their ships, YOUR ROOM WILL BE READY! Upon boarding we went to the dining room for our welcome back Mariner society lunch provided to past cruisers of HAL. We then went to our room & unpacked our already there luggage. The Ms. Noordam is absolutely gorgeous! Our room was smaller than on Ms. Zaandam & had only one chair & a VERY SMALL table, however we were pleasantly surprised to have a refrigerator that we did not have on Ms. Zaandam. The inside room we had, 7131 was not conducive to entertaining guests. The room however is very pleasantly decorated & proved to be very comfy & had a great working thermostat performing perfectly on both sides of the spectrum. Our cabin stewards Bah & Mahammud are OUTSTANDING & very accommodating & friendly as well! Deb & I are very outgoing people & always seem to have the opportunity of meeting many officers & personal on the ships we have cruised. We enjoyed hanging out with & befriending many that are just exceptional people! We would like to take this time to mention them in hopes that you will make an attempt to meet them & tell them hello for us if you are going to cruise the Ms. Noordam. Leanna Delavin, Front desk supervisor whom we were so pleasantly blessed with again from our cruise on Ms. Zaandam. Leanna is a super sweet young lady that goes to all ends of the spectrum to please you. Leanna, WE LOVE YOU! Thank You for everything! Ben Pablo Head Cellar Master. Ben is a very kind & helpful man that went way out of his way to make sure that we were well cared for. Thank you Mr. Ben Pablo for everything! Glenn Cohen our cruise director. Not only does Glenn have a great announcing voice, he was always asking single ladies of all ages to dance or chatting with guests to find out if he could do anything to make your cruising experience better. Glenn always was smiling & knew your name. DJ Dave Shay our ship DJ & trivia master. Dave provides a lot of fun for all ages with trivia on everything & anything....except 80's Hair Band trivia...LOL! Like to see that soon Dave. :) Mr. James Deering our Hotel Manager. We feel that Mr. Deering is the epitome of Class & professionalism. Not only did he make sure that we had THE BEST CRUISE CRITIC M & G POSSIBLE, he always wanted to know the negatives as well as the positives, & he sincerely values ALL opinions of ALL cruisers in order to improve the sailing experience of ALL cruisers! Mr. Deering, we now know why you are so famous & well known in the cruising industry, Thank You! Richard our events coordinating manager whom helped with the set up of our cruise critic M & G. Richard, & Events Coordinator's now on all of HAL's ships, have been appointed to handle Cruise Critic M & G 's as special functions, as they are learning just how important we members are to the cruising community. We were assured by Mr. Deering & Richard that they read & pay attention to ALL of our reviews! We were Richard's first M & G upon which he did a marvelous job! Every officer that was invited showed up for our M & G!!! Nine total including Captain Scott & cruise director Glenn Cohen. Captain Scott our Captain. Not only did Capt. Scott get us in & out of all of our ports safely & provide us with an enjoyable cruise, but also did a wonderful humanitarian gesture in St. Lucia two weeks before we boarded Ms. Noordam that we would like to mention. Captain Scott & the engineering team uniquely figured out how to pump fresh water OFF of the ship to provide the residents of St. Lucia with drinkable water after the hurricane & heavy rain disasters. Captain Scott also invited the homeless & children of St. Lucia on board to eat & to play in the children's center & pool providing everything down to ice cream & desert! You are the man Captain Scott & God Bless you! Sudiarty our assistant dining room manager. Sudiarty is a VERY kind loving man that will greet each & everyone of you to cruise with him. From his Good Morning Chad & Deb, did you sleep well, to his always smiling face, waves across the dining room & hugs or hand shakes, Sudi is just plain awesome & inspiring! Kris (Steel), Josh, & the HAL Cats. If you are fortunate enough to catch this version of the band by January, you are in for a real treat of talent that surpasses most all cruise bands. Spectacular job guys!! Standing room only!! Bars: Being partiers we figure that some will appreciate this info. Cocktails $6.75 + 15% gratuity. Wine...not sure. Draft beer 2 for $4.50 + 15% gratuity daily. Bloody Mary's w/ huge shrimp garnish Daily special 10 am - 2 pm 2 FOR 1!!! YAYYYY!! Unlimited Beer $9.95 + 15% gratuity during "tailgate party" & special sporting events. Happy Hours Daily: 2 FOR 1....normally 1 hour a day in the Crow's Nest around 6pm & then in the Northern Lights Dance Club at 10:30pm. Pinnacle Bar had a special on Martinni's daily. *We must mention the different beverage cards available* $90 got you a $100 worth of goods!!! Best thing about these cards is if you don't use it all, they refund you what you didn't spend!!!!! Win Win situation!!! We went through 10 cards in 20 nights! Food: We rated the food as we did because we did not want to bring down the main dining rooms rating. We are referring to the Lido buffet's food for all 20 nights. The Lido food in our opinion is average at very best & that is being kind. The selection however is very pleasant as always with HAL. The quality on Ms. Noordam's Lido buffet leaves a lot to be desired such as dry pizza & very bland taste quality. As the trip went on even the juice started to seem "watered down." I must say though that they have a very nice Sushi bar, which I am a huge fan of. The first ten days in the main dining room had quite a few great tasty dinners, but not what we got used to on Ms. Zaandam. However the last ten days were superior & outstanding!!! Deb & I were one of three couples invited to a special question & answer session with Mr. James Deering that covered what all of our expectations were & how they were met by the crew of Ms. Noordam or how the crew could do better. I definitely attribute being invited to this special event to being a Cruise Critic member. I of course made the same opinionated comment about the food & was enlightened that they had relieved the Chef from the first ten days with a new Chef....alas the reason for such a WONDERFUL difference. Mr. Deering informed me of his interest in investigating the Lido's food quality & I assure you that he will fix that problem very soon. We ate in the pinnacle Grill once for lunch, which was fantastic, & twice for dinner. Our first dinner experience was somewhat deterred from being wonderful by an intoxicated tough guy. The very elegant Pinnacle manager, being a sincere woman, totally understood why we did not eat much & graciously removed the additional charge from our portfolio. Our second dinner was a lovely experience & a must at least once for the moderate cost of $20.00 per person. Service: The service is excellent on Ms. Noordam other than maybe "I'm having a bad day attitude" occasionally. That was a very rare occurrence & we have to be understanding of that nature because of all of the rudeness & blatant meanness that the employees are required to deal with at all times. However, there was still that "last morning" attitude from most of the crew. How I enjoy seeing rude "last morning" attitude individuals choke when they realize you are doing the B2B at sail away. :) Ship info: Ms. Noordam is gorgeous. Our Ms. Noordam Caribbean cruise had a much younger average age than our experience on Ms. Zaandam. The ship is of good size & stature. The decorations are exquisite including the gorgeous color changing & rotating center piece in the atrium. Every room on the ship is easily accessible & easy to find. Ship Activities: We participated in the Steel Drum lessons with Kris (Steel) which are wonderful & very fun! Steel drums are the instruments that make that beautiful & harmonious caribbean sounding music. We also participated in some of the Trivia challenges with DJ Dave Shay. We never won but came very close at times being within a half of a point. We heard that drinks are the prize. The "Pub Crawl" participants always appeared to be having a real good time! The "Pub Crawl" obviously named for some that must crawl back to their stateroom after completion of this event. The activity is purchased for a minimal amount & the participants are given coupons for several different shots(different one at each bar) at each of the pubs, bars & lounges on the ship. Deb participated in a facial & the spa. Deb definitely recommends the facial & Thermal Lounge chairs. The Spa whirlpool looks very inviting but according to Deb is no better than the Lido hot tubs. Just more spacious. Deb tips her hat to Danielle whom made her facial so wonderful & unforgettable. Entertainment: Deb & I are not your average "let's make the show" kind of people, so please keep this in mind reading this very short attribute. The HAL Cats & Natalie were/are outstanding. The group will be separated in January when they will be "Rotated" to other ships. Rotated is the word used & explained to me by Mr. Bill Prince The entertainment director & V.P. in Seattle. I wrote to Mr. Prince asking him to consider not "Rotating" this incredibly talented group....they are that good. Mr Prince informed me that they hire individual musicians instead of groups. He informed me that by rotating musicians & vacations, tend to keep the talented longer. That is understandable if you know anything about bands, band members & attitudes. Special Guest musicians were talented & interesting. The HAL group of performers were ok, they got our attention for one show. We must say though that the sets & stage are absolutely breathtaking! Tons of $$$ in equipment & just the stage itself! Comedians were ok. We would like to see "late night" comedians that perform "adult comedy." I think HAL is afraid of insulting their normal elderly aged cruisers. Port & Shore Excursions: Deb & I did not participate in any shore excursions as we did many in Hawaii. We arranged our own this time hitting the beach & Scuba Diving. Summary: Deb & I had a magnificent time with HAL & Ms. Noordam for this cruise. We met fantastic & wonderful people & Cruise Critic members. The Staff on Ms. Noordam are wonderful & just what we are used to when sailing HAL. BOTTOM LINE RATING: TWO THUMBS UP!! THANK YOU STAFF & HAL! The itinerary on this 20 Collector cruise is magnificent! We are scheduled to cruise Ms. Noordam again March 2012. Our First & Last Port was Half Moon Cay, Holland America's private island also known as San Salvador island. This little land mass of beautiful trees & sand is exquisite, very likely to be the best beach we saw on our whole trip!! The beach is soft white & extends endlessly into the crystal clear water. There were many choices in activities inc. Horseback riding, Para-sailing, Jet skiing, sailboats, paddle boats for two, kayaking, bike riding on a nature trail, Sting ray encounter, live music, Cabana's(which we had) & found are not necessary to enjoy this beautiful beach, but was very nice to have ice continuously delivered for making adult beverages, & a VERY IMPRESSIVE children's water park with slides, water cannons, trampoline out in the water, & but of course, a friendly shark protruding out of the water for the children to play on. Lunch was provided at no additional charge. Food consisted of Hamburgers, hot dogs, fish, barbecue pork, corn on the cob, chips, traditional picnic sides & deserts. Being beach lover's & conservative, the Noordam could have anchored here for 10 days & offered a $200.00 discount for fuel conservancy & we would have loved it! Half Moon Cay is the bomb!!!!! :) Tendered Port. Port 2 Grand Turk & Caicos: This Port is separated from the town & definitely owned by the cruise line. Margaritaville is here & has a Beautiful & huge pool along with a surfing pool. When you get off of the ship, you are forced to walk through multiple shops to get to the beach. The beach is decent but is rocky in places & rocky in the water in places. The water was outstandingly clear & had a few signs of marine life. Very nice free umbrella's & chairs for free. However the view is obscured by the ships position on the docks & we felt that all beauty of the horizon & the beach were robbed by this ship positioning. There was another option to go to the left side of the pier, but we do not remember any chairs or umbrella's here & it was a further walk & much less inviting of a beach although ships wouldn't ruin your view. The picture's of this port portray the ships being a much further distance from the beach. We rate Grand Turk as a 4. I plan to dive next visit which I feel will be a better choice. It is very nice that it costs you nothing to get to this beach. Port 3 Samana Dominican Republic: Quaint poor town. Not much of a beach to mention unless you pay to go to "Bacardi" island. This is the island that Bacardi used for their Rum commercials. We were apprehensive at first about this port hearing from a CC member that it was full of beggars. Everyone turned out to be very nice & helpful to us. Many beautiful Palm trees here & a mountainous landscape. We felt that the enjoyment of this port be "chalked up to" a cultural experience. We chose to walk around in the town here & shop for some Soda for our adult beverages on the ship. We rate Samana a 3. Tendered Port. Port 4 Bonaire: Beautiful island with tons of marine life. Corals are mostly bleached at this time but are on the mend. We went to a resort beach offered at the pier. Taxi's were affordable..$3.00 per person each way. By early afternoon it began to pour & within an hour & a half the streets were flooded with a foot of water. We ended are day on the beach by 1 pm due to weather. We rate Bonaire 4.5. The beach was ok but the snorkeling & diving are spectacular. Pink Flamingo's are gorgeous here. Port 5 Curacao: Really neat town & shopping. They have the neatest floating & movable bridge connecting the city over the ship canal. One side is more commercial & one side is more local. Rainy & overcast skies & the threat of yet more bad weather kept us away from the beach & we decided to window shop & have some ice cold beers here. Really neat city. I am sure that the marine life & beaches are incredible here as well being that the ABC islands are so close together. The market showed a huge variety of fish as well. We rate Curacao as a 5. The city is colorful & wonderful & we had a lot of fun for not even hitting the beach. Port 6 Aruba: This is a very neat & clean hospitable town. We enjoyed walking & shopping for the first half & Eagle beach for the second half of the day. Ride the Bus for transportation! It cost $1.30 each way to the Hotel/Beach section per person each way! We definitely would consider an extended vacation stay in Aruba. Alcohol is VERY expensive here though in comparison to most all other ports. Don't plan on "stocking up" here! The Locals are very friendly here. Eagle beach is incredible offering a VERY beautiful beach with gorgeous water & free tables, Umbrella's & chairs. No cost for this beach. We rate Aruba as a 5. Port 7 St. Maarten: Always beautiful. Offers nice beach very close on the Dutch side. Every other visit (5) I have remained on the Dutch beach just to the left of the cruise dock & about a mile away. This time, Deb & I opted for the French side at a beautiful & optional nude beach known as Orient Beach. Deb & I with not so perfect bodies decided to stay optionally clothed. Beware though that at any point on this beach, you will experience nudity. I managed to upset Deb many times....."looking!" One irritating thing we must mention about this beach is that every few minutes you are constantly asked to buy something by people who continuously walk from one end to the other on the beach. They NEVER remember that you said no the first time let alone the 100th! A little advice....stay in the water! Very safe beach! Taxi cost from pier was $9.00 per person each way. No cost for this beach. We rate St. Maarten as a 5. The French beaches are gorgeous! Port 8 St. Lucia: What a gorgeous island with beautiful landscape!!! The Scuba diving here is exceptional!! The corals are some of the most exquisite & colorful I have ever seen!! I dove Superman's flight & the Devil's Hole. These sites are at the base of the Piton's. The Piton's are breath taking & picturesque! Deb went out on the same boat with me & got to snorkel on the beach right below where the Bachelor was filmed at the hotel he stayed at! Wow $1800.00 per night to stay there! You should be able to imagine the beauty of this area known as Soufriere. Don't miss this beautiful area! I also recommend diving or snorkeling with Irwin at the dive shop right outside the terminal doors & to the right. He is a black man & runs an incredible operation at very affordable prices. His boats are fast & get you there & back quickly & comfortably. 2 tank dives with equipment & the boat ride are only $110 & the snorkeling with equipment & boat ride was $45!!! Check into how much $$$ it costs you just to get to Soufriere & then double it to get you back to Castries! HAL only picks you up in Soufriere if you are on one of THEIR excursions. We rate St. Lucia a 5++++++++++++!!!!!!!! Remember that this rating is with your head above & below the water. We will definitely do an extended stay in St. Lucia at a hotel. Port 9 Barbados: Another beautiful island but not quite as St. Lucia. Diving here & snorkeling are very good here as well though. Coral not as colorful here but very abundant. I must say TURTLES, TURTLES, TURTLES!! We used the dive shop in front of the Hilton. We have to say the best part of our day were these INCREDIBLE fish sandwiches & fish cakes we had up in the parking lot from the beach next to the dive shop. BEST fish sandwich we will EVER have. Get this....Sandwich + fish cakes + Barbados brewed beer = $5.00!!! Look for the little shack in the parking lot behind the yellow life guard station. We rate Barbados as a 5. We are definitely going back for fish sandwiches & hope to find the little old black lady still cooking them! Port 10 Martinique: We may have had an unlikely situation happen to us here but have the feeling that this is a high crime port. It was also a very short stay, leaving at 12:30pm. We watched the passengers come & go quickly for a short time realizing very quickly why. There is a small & inviting looking beach to the left of the ships bow while in port. It is a very short walking distance as well. Deb & I decided to walk over to it & see what kind of snorkeling this beach had to offer. None. We also experienced two men that tried to relieve us of our snorkeling & dive gear after we had decided there was nothing to see so we would just enjoy the water leaving our bag on the beach. We both agreed to be safe instead of sorry & head quickly back to the ship as well. We rate Martinique as a 2. It was pretty & clean & we may have just been at the wrong place at the wrong time. Never the less, please be cautious here as our opinions seemed to be shared by most. Port 11 St. Thomas: Again always beautiful! Also decided to finally see the French side as well. Deb snorkeled in the morning & I dove two tanks here as well. Diving & snorkeling is very good here too. In the afternoon we headed to Meagan's Bay Beach rated in the top 10 by National Geographic Magazine. It is gorgeous. $4.00 per person admission fee to enter the beach area. $9.00 per person taxi fare each way from the cruise terminal/pier area. Don't miss the many huge Iguana's on the rocks around the pier! Exciting! HAL has a pier that we shared with Cunard's Queen Mary 2. It is a different pier than I was used to cruising with Carnival. We rate St. Thomas as a 5. St. Thomas has everything to offer & does it all well. Meagan's Bay is Spectacular. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We're Copper 3-star Mariners in our 60s and this was our second Noordam. We've sailed Zuiderdam (11 times, our fave), the old Noordam, old Westerdam, Zaandam, Maasdam, several on RCI, Celebrity & Princess... 27 all day. The ... Read More
We're Copper 3-star Mariners in our 60s and this was our second Noordam. We've sailed Zuiderdam (11 times, our fave), the old Noordam, old Westerdam, Zaandam, Maasdam, several on RCI, Celebrity & Princess... 27 all day. The ship is our destination, and on HAL we always experience the finest in service and accommodations... that's why we keep coming back.Pre-Cruise:We drove to Jacksonville and flew Southwest to Ft. Lauderdale, where we stayed at LaQuinta in a very nice smoking King with a view of the intercoastal waterway. It's right next door to a shopping center, but it's too far (for us) to walk there. We took a cab there and had dinner at Red Lobster. In the morning we were treated to a nice breakfast buffet, and went to pack for the free shuttle to the pier. I found that my glasses had broken and we had to skip the shuttle & take a taxi next door to Pearle Vision where they fixed my glasses for no charge. A quick trip to the pier started the check-in phase which went very smoothly.Embarkation:Once we got in the suite line, we found there were agents assisting both the suite pax and the handicapped. The 20 minutes in line was annoying, but we were able to board the ship immediately after, so it wasn't too bad. Our suite was right outside the Neptune Lounge, so we stashed our carryons and went to the Vista Dining Room for a lovely Mariners' lunch.The Noordam is a beautiful ship... lovely flower arrangements everywhere, polished glass and brass, and comfortably furnished common areas with bright but pleasant color schemes. We love the Explorations Cafe, Crow's Nest, and our favorite Oak Room.Officers & Staff:Captain John ScottHotel Manager James DeeringCriuse Director Glenn CoenenBeverage Manager Mark MaelingCabin:Our cabin (7053, a typical SA suite) was across from the Neptune Lounge, which was extremely convenient as we are both diabetics and are in need of frequent snacks. All upholstery, carpeting and tiling were in very good condition. Our stewards were very attentive, considering we sleep very late and it's hard to find a time to clean. We always had plenty of ice, fresh towels and amenities.I am always amazed at the level of service we receive on HAL ships, but it seems as if the officers, staff and crew of the Noordam take service to the next level. In all areas and at all levels we received prompt, polite and professional attention.As the ship itself is our destination, we rarely go into town. Unfortunately, we got up too late to visit Half Moon Cay. We figured that if we were last off the ship, and with two ships in port, there wouldn't be any loungers close to the dock, so we stayed aboard. Jim and I visited Grand Turk for an hour or so, on a quest for something that doesn't exist. I found some nice shopping in Bonaire and walked over to the hotel shopping area in Curacao. Unfortunately we had rain for nearly the entire cruise. The rest of the cruise was spent in the spa, pool and casino. Casino was a little disappointing. Several "regulars" at the Hold'em table were actually casino owners/managers and had played in the WSOP. There were several 'tournaments', but even though they were advertised, they did not have the play moderated, announced nor the prizes 'awarded'. It should have received the same attention as the Blackjack or Slots Tourneys.We were assigned a table for four (but set for only two), by the window on the upper level of the Vista Dining Room. We dined there every night, forgoing the Pinnacle, as we had enjoyed the very same menu many times before. Selections were varied, but a bit more limited than those in the past. Day 1 - Embarkation at Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, FloridaQueens Lounge - Welcome Aboard Bash with Natalie & the HalCatsOcean Bar - Great American Songbook with the NeptunesPiano Bar - Buddy MitchellExplorer's Lounge - Adagio StringsCrow's Nest - vocalist/Guitarist Zach WinninghamNorthern Lights Disco - DJ DaveVista Lounge - Let Us Entertain You - CD introduces the Noordam Singers &s DancersDay 2 - Half Moon CayQueens Lounge - 50s & 60s NightOcean Bar - Latin FavoritesPiano Bar - Buddy MitchellExplorer's Lounge - Adagio StringsCrow's Nest - Pub Trivia & Zach on GuitarNorthern Lights Disco - Broadway Name That Tune & All Request NightVista Lounge - Captain Scott's Welcome Toast, followed by the Noordam singers & dancers in Ballroom BlitzDay 3 - Grand TurkQueens Lounge - The Disco BallOcean Bar - Easy Dance Class - Quick StepPiano Bar - Golden Oldies NightExplorer's Lounge - Adagio StringsCrow's Nest - Pub Trivia & Zach on GuitarNorthern Lights Disco - 50s & 60s Name that Tune & Music MixVista Lounge - comedian Milt AbelDay 4 - Samana, Dominican RepublicQueens Lounge - Tropical RhythmsOcean Bar - Easy Cha Cha classPiano Bar - MargaritavilleExplorer's Lounge - Adagio StringsCrow's Nest - Pub Trivia & Zach on GuitarNorthern Lights Disco - 80s Name that Tune & Island BeatsVista Lounge - Noordam singers & dancers in If Walls Could RockDay 5 - At SeaQueens Lounge - movie "Salt"Ocean Bar - Easy Dance Class - WaltzPiano Bar - Buddy MitchellExplorer's Lounge - Adagio StringsCrow's Nest - Pub Trivia, Zach on Guitar & Merengue ClassNorthern Lights Disco - Motown Name That Tune & 60s & 70s HourVista Lounge - the Music of Mark DonoghueDay 6 - BonaireQueens Lounge - Liars ClubOcean Bar - Easy Dance Class - FoxtrotPiano Bar - Name that TuneExplorer's Lounge - Adagio StringsCrow's Nest - Pub Trivia & Zach on GuitarNorthern Lights Disco - Music MixVista Lounge - Noordam Singers and Dancers in Simply BroadwayDay 7 - CuracaoPool PartyQueens Lounge - Battle of the Sexes & Caribbean Shirt Express bingoOcean Bar - Music & Dancing with The NeptunesPiano Bar - Open Mic NightExplorer's Lounge - Adagio StringsCrow's Nest - Pub Trivia, Zach on Guitar & Easy Dance Classes - Jive & TangoNorthern Lights Disco - Top 40 NightVista Lounge - Filipino Crew ShowDay 8 - ArubaQueens Lounge - KaraokeOcean Bar - The NeptunesPiano Bar - Country Name that TuneExplorer's Lounge - Adagio StringsCrow's Nest - Pub Trivia, Zach on Guitar & Easy Dance Class - RhumbaNorthern Lights Disco - All Request NightVista Lounge - Arias & Broadway melodies by Fiona Jessica WilsonDay 9 - At SeaNear gale - rough seas - partly cloudyQueens Lounge - The Marriage Game & Sing with the HALCatsOcean Bar - The NeptunesPiano Bar - 70s Name that TuneExplorer's Lounge - Adagio StringsCrow's Nest - Pub Trivia & Zach on GuitarNorthern Lights Disco - Music MixVista Lounge - Noordam Singers & Dancers in "That's Vegas"Day 10 - At SeaStrong breeze - rather rough seas - cloudy - roll back clocks one hourQueens Lounge - Bye Bye BoogieOcean Bar - The NeptunesPiano Bar - Farewell Sing-a-LongExplorer's Lounge - Adagio StringsCrow's Nest - Pub Trivia & Zach on GuitarNorthern Lights Disco - Name that TV Tune & Rock It 'Til We Dock ItVista Lounge - Action comedy of Scotty CavanaughDebarkation:Debarkation is done on the honor system, but there IS NO HONOR on debarkation day. Passengers may stay in their cabins or public venues until their specifically assigned time (based on their flight times and/or requests) to proceed to the gangway. We were scheduled for 8:15 - 8:30, and we couldn't get out of the elevator because the area was PACKED with passengers waiting for their time to go. There was no one checking colors or asking anyone to leave the area. I have been disappointed with this system since it started, and it hasn't gotten any better. Unfortunately, it's too late to complain on the comment card, so it doesn't get any better.Once we left the gangway, a ship representative stopped us and told us that "luckily" we were selected for expedited service, and by following her we could cut 30 minutes off our transfer time. She waited with us while our porter loaded up our bags, and directed us to a short line leading to some cubicles. After 20 minutes in this line, we found several Customs Agents with calculators and a list of passengers who had made sizable purchases while onboard. After 20 minutes or so they collected their excess duty and we were able to leave. The other line seemed to go MUCH faster. Lesson learned? If you have an early flight, don't buy anything pricey in the gift shop.That said, we are very much looking forward to "Holland America Line's new Stateroom Direct Service". All Holland America Line ships will have guests' staterooms ready for them as early as 11:30am, allowing embarking guests to settle comfortably and quickly in their staterooms as soon as they board. This will require intense cooperation from all members of the crew, and I have no doubt they will be able to give us a much more pleasant embarkation experience. I'm not certain how they'll be able to let departing passengers linger in their cabins and still open up our cabins at 11:30ish for new cruisers. If anybody can do it, HAL can. Finally:The Noordam has now joined the Zuiderdam as our favorite ship(s). There's something about her that just makes it a good 'fit'. The officers, staff and crew were professional, courteous and accommodating in every way. The only two things I'd suggest are increased hotspots throughout the ship and a return to the old debarkation process.Candy the ZuiderPrincess (and Sir James) Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Background I am just back from a 10-day cruise on the Noordam, with stops at Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, Samana, Bonaire, Curacao, and Aruba. We are a multi-generational family and I was travelling with my three year old daughter and ... Read More
Background I am just back from a 10-day cruise on the Noordam, with stops at Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, Samana, Bonaire, Curacao, and Aruba. We are a multi-generational family and I was travelling with my three year old daughter and my parents, both of whom are seniors. This was my tenth cruise and first time with HAL. Previous cruises have been with NCL and RCI. Hotel Information We arrived in Ft Lauderdale two days in advance of the cruise and stayed at the Crowne Plaza beside the Sawgrass Mills mall. This gave us ample opportunity to shop (the mall is overwhelming!) and also easily visit Wal-Mart and Target for some last minute cruise supplies. Everything is in walking distance from the hotel and there's also a complimentary shuttle which will drop you off and pick you up. The hotel is about a 15-20 minute cab ride from both the airport and cruise terminal, and the fare is about $45. Nice hotel, friendly staff, and great location. Ship Information The Noordam is a beautiful ship, without a doubt the nicest I've seen. It was kept spotless at all times during the cruise and almost never felt crowded. It's very classy - there's a wonderful collection of artwork throughout and the decor is quite tasteful. One of the nicest areas was the Explorations Cafe, a combination library, internet cafe, and coffee bar with adjacent games rooms. It was a great place to come and relax, read, or people watch and while it was always regularly used, it was always possible to find a seat. The public areas flow nicely into one another and there always seemed to be ample room to move about effortlessly. On deck, there was also lots of room and it was always possible to find a chair or lounger. The two pools were never crowded either, and the one located mid-ship was used by the small cohort of children onboard. I found the Noordam to be a much quieter ship than those on NCL - there was an absence of loud music around the pool areas and fellow passengers were calmer and more relaxed. This was definitely not a cruise for the younger party set. My only complaint about the interior was the smell of smoke from the casino and selected bars. While there didn't seem to be many smokers, a stubborn few with their smelly cigars managed to leave a souvenir in the air for others. We were provided with a short questionnaire about smoking on the Noordam so hopefully HAL is considering going smoke-free. Activities There was a nice selection of activities, although I'll admit that I didn't participate in many of them. The culinary centre is an amazing facility where cooking demonstrations are given by the executive chef. You can clearly see what's happening via large monitors overhead, just like a tv cooking show. I was excited to attend but unfortunately, it was a big let-down. The chef had an ego larger than the Noordam and spent the whole hour talking about himself. He didn't bother to explain what he was cooking or how he was doing it. Fortunately, the culinary centre also doubled as a cinema so at least a positive experience could still be had in this great facility. Service The service on the Noordam was first-class. The mainly Indonesian/Filipino crew went out of their way to make everyone feel welcome and special. Waiters remembered your preferences from the first night and the cabin stewards always smiled and called you by name. The all seemed genuinely happy in their jobs and this was reflected in the service they provided. The front office was also very pleasant to deal with, in contrast to many of the other ships I've been on. The one glaring exception was the gift shop where the staff bordered on being downright rude. Very poor selection of goods coupled with unfriendly, unhelpful service cannot be doing much to improve HAL's bottom line here. Stateroom We had a beautiful cabin, category VD. These are balcony cabins with nice-sized verandahs (especially compared with the micro-balconies on NCL). It was really nice to have a bathtub for my daughter and there was so much storage space that we even had cupboards that we didn't fill (and I can't remember when that's ever happened on a cruise before). Dining I must say that I was expecting much more in this department, having heard so many glowing things about the food on HAL. While I did have some great meals, I also had almost as many poor ones (and I'm not a picky eater at all). Most meals fell into the 'average' category. The Lido Cafe was an absolute zoo at just about any time. It's pretty clear that HAL has no idea of how to run an efficient buffet-style restaurant. There were long queues everywhere and no clear direction of the flow. Yes, we saw arguments between passengers about who was in line first... I began to dread each visit as tables were hard to find and food stations were quite spread out in no logical order. I was served my french toast at one station, then ordered an omelette from a second and made the mistake of asking for ketchup. You guessed it - I had to go to a third station for that. While NCL's Freestyle Dining may not be to everyone's tastes, they've certainly mastered the buffet experience in a way that makes HAL's attempt appear backward and amateurish. On a positive note, afternoon tea and the Indonesian tea were elegant affairs in the main dining room and are not to be missed. Children I would encourage anyone with children to seriously consider HAL for the perfect family vacation. I think that there were perhaps 25 children on the whole ship, which meant that it wasn't overrun in the least and the children's facilities were accessible at all times. Because of the small numbers, there were only about 10 kids who used the children's club. My daughter was hesitant at first but one of the counselors spotted her and made a point of inviting her to join in, which she did. She absolutely loved it and the small numbers of children, plus the incredible personalities in the youth centre, led to a thoroughly enjoyable and personal experience. She wasn't just a number or another little face; the counselors knew her name and made her feel welcome from the first moment. My daughter couldn't wait to wake up each morning and go to the kid's club- she made friends and I had a little break :) Another unexpected bonus was all of the attention that the predominantly senior fellow passengers paid to my three year-old. I think she reminded many of their own grandchildren and on a cruise with so few children, she was made to feel really special by just about everyone. I would definitely choose HAL again for their warm welcome for children. Shore Excursions Half Moon Cay is incredible. There is a beautiful beach and it wasn't crowded, even with two ships visiting on the day that we were there. The kid's play area was fantastic, complete with pirate ships, swings, and slides. It was empty (apart from my daughter) for almost the whole time. NCL's Great Stirrup Cay and RCI's Coco Cay are not even in the same league as this place - it was pristine and not overrun at all. A real pleasure. Grand Turk was a great stop. We did not do any tours, knowing that there was a cruise terminal with a beach and pool right off the ship. What we didn't know was how fantastic this place would be. It was perfect for families with children and again, with two ships in port, nothing was overcrowded. The beach was beautiful and the pool area was enormous, complete with a huge shallow area for toddlers and children. This stop was exactly what we were looking for - a great day at the beach and the pool. Samana was unquestionably the highlight of our cruise. I had read lots of unflattering comments about Samana and had also done lots of research. I knew that Playa Rincon was one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean (perhaps anywhere!) and so we did this excursion. Quite frankly, it blew me away and was beyond all expectations. Stunningly beautiful and, apart from perhaps 30 people on the tour, almost deserted. The drive to the beach was also a great experience - the roads gradually became more and more rugged (eventually becoming a dirt track through the lush green countryside) but we really got to see what the unspoiled Dominican Republic was like. Yes, it's a developing country and people aren't as wealthy as many at home, but everywhere we were greeted with smiles and waves as our tour vans passed through small villages and towns. If you want to enjoy your time in Samana, don't spend your time in the town. Do your research and enjoy finding the right excursion which will provide you with an incredible experience mainly unavailable to most other cruisers. If you're looking for fancy shopping, glitzy hotels, and affluent surroundings, then stay on the ship and wait for a port like Willamstad or Oranjestad. Don't leave the tender in Samana expecting to find these things and please don't write another critical review based on your few minutes ashore. Travel with an open mind, embrace this beautiful country's diversity, and you just may be amazed like we were. In Bonaire, we decided to take the water taxi to Klein Bonaire. It's a small, uninhabited island/national park with yet another incredible beach. There is a coral reef surrounding the island which provided unparalleled snorkeling. I was amazed at how much I saw just a few metres from shore. Even a massive rainstorm couldn't dampen our day at the beach; most people ran for the sea which felt like a warm bath compared to the cold rain. Curacao and Aruba were completely different islands than our other stops. We opted not to take any excursions but instead explored the city in the mornings and spent the afternoons on the ship. Both Willemstad and Oranjestad are pretty, safe, and easy to get around. Oh, and hot. Very hot. Summary I've never written a cruise review before but have so often made use of them in planning my own cruises. I wanted to let everyone know that overall, my family had a wonderful experience on the Noordam. No, it wasn't perfect, but it came pretty close. The ship was beautiful, the staff were friendly, and the ports were perfect. Thank you HAL for providing us with an amazing cruise for all ages. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We just returned from a ten day cruise on the Holland America ms Noordam. We were scheduled to depart Ft. Lauderdale on 11/3/2010 and returning on the 13th. Our itinerary was two days at sea, St. Marteen, St Lucia, Barbados, Martinique, St ... Read More
We just returned from a ten day cruise on the Holland America ms Noordam. We were scheduled to depart Ft. Lauderdale on 11/3/2010 and returning on the 13th. Our itinerary was two days at sea, St. Marteen, St Lucia, Barbados, Martinique, St Thomas, a day at sea and then Ft Lauderdale. Firstly, we are retired and take trips several times a year. We have cruised on Premiere (the old Disney), Cunard, Royal Caribbean, Carnival and now twice on HAL. We booked on last years' New Years Cruise. We chose a cabin in the VB class on Deck six. About three months prior to the sailing date, we were notified that our cabin assignment had been changed to deck 8, class SS. I didn't see and advantage and considering the higher deck, I contacted HAL and asked why I had been changed. I was informed that they reserve the right to change cabin assignments and this new cabin was an upgrade. Two weeks prior to sailing, my travel agent contacted us and said HAL was offering an upgrade to a Deluxe Veranda Suite for $149.00 each. He explained that the suite was double the size of our current assignment and included, free laundry, dry cleaning and pressing, evening hot and cold hors de' oeuvres in our cabin, mid day snacks and special breakfast, all day snacks, espresso, cappuccino, latte' and a bunch of other good stuff in the Neptune Lounge. Also in the lounge are Melanie and Franz. They are Concierges for those with access to the lounge. I think you have figured it out, that we took the deal. It was worth every penny. Day 1 We live in Florida and drove to Ft. Lauderdale. We planned to arrive at about 3:00 PM so we could avoid the initial rush to get aboard. Arriving at about 2:30, I parked in the covered parking garage and we then breezed through the check-in procedure. The only glitch was the computer not being able to store our photos onto the card. After a few minutes, we were on our way. We headed to our cabin. When we opened the door we were amazed at the size of the room and verandah. We quickly set-up our toiletries and the formal wear that we hand carried. While doing so, Bayu and Fendy our cabin attendants, stopped by. They iced the waiting bottle of champagne and advised us to call the Neptune Lounge with any requests and they would do their best to provide us with what we wanted. Since we had pre-purchased the Thermal Suite Package, we went to the Spa to get little stickers applied to our ID cards. When we gave our cabin number the girl told us that we had over paid for the package at $349.00, as it was now $249.00. She said the only way to apply the credit was to charge us $249.00 and then she would have the $349.00 deducted. After doing this, she informed us that we could redeem the credit of $100.00 by buying any services or products at the spa. I was smelling a rat. We went to the main desk to ask to see how may times we paid for this package. The attendant said she would have to check with the manager of the spa and would call me. The first night we had dinner in the Vista Lounge. We had requested Open Seating and showed-up at about 8:00. After dinner we went to a Magic Show, which was quite good. A nightcap, and Day 1 was in the books. Day 2 After a great breakfast we set-up poolside for our first day at sea. At about 10:00 we went to the Crow's Nest Lounge for a "Meet & Greet" reception that was arranged on Cruise Critics Board. HAL provided coffee, tea, champagne and mimosas. We chatted and then decided to check with the desk, regarding our "Spa problem". My wife was waiting in line and I was standing on the side. A ship's officer approached me asking if there was anything he could help with. I told him why we were there. He introduced himself and gave me his card. He was Hotel Manager, James Deering. He told us not to waste any time on this matter as it would be handled. Later in the afternoon we received a call explaining how the erroneous charge would be handled and we would receive a written account of the refund. After lunch, we attended the "Premium Wine Tasting" at the Culinary Arts Center. We have attended these on a prior cruise and this was not as well done. We were supposed to sample several wines with several foods and savor the effects of each upon the other. When we finished, there were several food items that we hadn't touched and still full glasses of wine. The presenter, Ben, left and the group stayed until we finished. The rest of the day was spent poolside and then snacks and cocktails on our verandah. Since this was a formal night we dressed and went to the Pinnacle Grill. Great food and service! We closed with drinks and dancing at the Ocean bar. The Jazz trio was great. Day 3 This was another day at sea. We relaxed poolside, and had a great day. Day 4 We arrived at St Maarten in the morning. We have been to St Maarten many times. We used to rent a villa each year on the French side. Since we were there a short time we didn't want to rush to the French side and decided to shop a little and return to the ship. The drop shipment from the jewelry manufacturer arrived two days ago. Day 5 This was our first time to St Lucia. We had signed-up for the Tranopy and Canopy Shore Excursion. We were transported to the Tranopy site via van. Once there, we were outfitted with harnesses and helmets and given a short instructional on how to zip through the jungle. This was a ball! We zipped through about 18 lines of varying lengths and repelled straight down once. It was allot of fun. After that, we went on a tram ride up the mountain and back down. We learned allot about the rain forest and St Lucia. While we were at the Tranopy, our ship played host to a group of children from an orphanage on the island. Our ship also off-loaded thousands of gallons of water and food supplies to aid in the islands recovery from Hurricane Tomas. We were supposed to leave the dock at 4:00 PM and follow the coast to see the Tetons on the North side of the island. However, one of the orphans, Darien, decided that ship life was better than the orphanage and he stowed-away. The Captain made public announcements to entice Darien from his hiding place as we stayed in port past 5:00 PM. Finally, Sister (can't recall her name) got on the ships horn and told Darien to turn himself in. I guess he saw the light. He appeared at the gangway and we were off. However as we went to the ships top deck to see the Tetons, we were only able to see a dark sky. Day 6 Upon arrival in Barbados, we loaded into 4 wheel drive trucks for our 4X4 Island Safari Adventure and Swim. The trucks were like a pick-up with five seats on each side, facing each other. We belted-up and our driver took us on a tour of the island. This was another island that we had never been to and I was impressed. We drove through several towns and saw much of the different areas. We also drove through sugar cane fields and the forest. the ride was a bit rough and some of the women were screaming. I let out a girly yelp myself, when we stopped and a monkey jumped on my back. After about an hour our Jeep was overheating so we stopped at a rest area and a replacement was sent. We then toured some more of the island and then were brought to a small beach. There was nothing there, no food or drinks, nothing. We stayed about an hour and some of us went swimming. Then we were given some rum punch at the rear of the truck, prior to returning to the ship. We could have used that while we were at the beach. Overall, Barbados is on my list of islands to return to. Day 7 We arrived at Martinique at 8:00 AM and were scheduled to leave at 12:00 PM. I can see why. The city, Fort De-France, was a slum. They didn't accept US dollars and in one store would not guarantee that a US credit card would work. We went to a church which was in town and tried a museum but that was closed for renovations. When I saw a homeless guy peeing at the curb about 50 feet from a policeman, I thought it was time to return to the ship. This was our second formal night, however we missed that memo. We went to the Ocean Bar for a cocktail before dinner and when we saw the formal stuf, my wife directed us back to the cabin to re-dress. We had a wonderful dinner at the Pinnacle Grill and dancing at the Ocean Bar till the wee hours. Day 8 We arrived early at St Thomas and we had our first day of rain. We were supposed to go on an excursion, the Kayak, Hike and snorkel at Cas Cay. The ship announced that some of the shore excursions were being canceled as there was some lightning around. Ours was one of them. So we put on some rain gear and went ashore. The weather was not terrible for shopping and we had fun looking around a place we had never been to. We had a light lunch at the Green House and then went back to the ship. I think that we will return to the US Virgin Islands. Another great dinner at Canaletto's and more dancing at the Ocean Bar. Day 9 This was our last day at sea. We hung out and relaxed during the day and then went to the Pinnacle Grill for our last formal night. Day 10 Upon arrival at Half Moon Cay, we took a tender over and went to a reserved Clamshell. The beach was wonderful. We had been to Half Moon Cay, twenty years ago, while on a Disney Cruise which was run by Premier Cruse Lines. The lunch at the island was not up to HAL standards. Still, we enjoyed the day. For our last dinner aboard, we decided to return to the Pinnacle Grill. It was wonderful as always. Our arrival at Ft Lauderdale and disembarkation was fast and easy. Overall, our cruise was a great one. Pluses Food, Cabin, Service, Thermal Suite Pool Minuses The Spa and gym are run by an outside agency (Steiner) and there is an attitude evident. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
My wife and I recently took the Noordam transatlantic cruise from Rome to Ft. Lauderdale as a 25th wedding anniversary present to each other. We normally do the "all inclusive" resorts in the Caribbean, so we are used to the big ... Read More
My wife and I recently took the Noordam transatlantic cruise from Rome to Ft. Lauderdale as a 25th wedding anniversary present to each other. We normally do the "all inclusive" resorts in the Caribbean, so we are used to the big tour operator system and tactics. Our price included air from Toronto, which made the whole trip less than $140 a day including taxes. The transfer to the ship was a little chaotic, but was still accomplished within 1/2 an hour. Once on the ship we found our room 4093, which was larger than I was led to believe from others who had coached us on what to book. The room had no balcony and an obstructed view (blocked by life raft). We were told to take that type of room as we would not be spending much time in the room but we would like the light to let us know if it was day or night. In future it will be veranda all the way. After several days we noticed the room was getting that funky smell from poor ventilation and dirty clothes. The pillows also had the odour of sweat. This sounds bad however, as we had been told, we were not in the room all that much so it was not that big a deal. The room stewards kept the room tidy at all times, in fact the staff overall were incredibly good at their jobs. I don't know what is like on other ships, but I constantly felt I was being nickle and dimed by the price of drinks, the cost of excursions and photos, as well as the daily reminders to book my next cruise while I was still on this one. Whenever we were in port we took public transit and taxis at at least 1/2 the price of what HAL offered and in one port the bus into town from the ship was $14, while the local bus right next to it was $2. It could have easily been the most expensive trip we had ever taken had we gone with HAL on all the excursions. The prices they were charging was more than I have ever seen at any of the all inclusive, which are pretty high themselves. The food on the ship was excellent. The french service in the dining room was easy to take and the dress code made it very pleasant. The Pinnacle Grill was just that much nicer with formal dress expected. Most times we ate at the Lido, which had the cafeteria style dining making it easier to meet people on the cruise, since there is not assigned seating. I did see some gluttonous acts there like people taking two platters instead of one plate for the lobster day. I can never figure that out. If you are allowed to eat as much as you want, why not just go up twice? Food safety was always top of mind for the staff from the steward at the door with hand sanitizer to the cook staff food handling to the bus staff removing and cleaning dishes the system is good. It was nice to see the food was not available all day and night except through room service. Keeping a lid on the food saved the cruise line money and saved many of our waistlines from inflating more than they did. The entertainment was quite good an professional. I was told that is has slipped over the years though??? can't say, it seemed OK for what we paid. The guests as a whole were 10-30 years older than us for the most part and the over 65s is the crowd HAL is geared toward. Handicapped and elderly friendly design is evident in all the ship. At 50, I would hesitate before booking this cruise line again. Anyone over 65, I doubt, could find better value for money. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Noordam Cruise Review This was our first cruise ever, for which we chose Holland America, based on its legacy, reviews and family experiences. We are a couple from the Netherlands in our late forties. We booked our cruise at ... Read More
Noordam Cruise Review This was our first cruise ever, for which we chose Holland America, based on its legacy, reviews and family experiences. We are a couple from the Netherlands in our late forties. We booked our cruise at a specialized cruise agency, which helped us at many of our first timer questions. Prior to our cruise, we booked a hotel in Rome for the weekend and travelled from Rome Termini train station to Civitavecchia on the day of our departure by train. Before our departure to Rome, we booked tickets for the train by internet, which cost us only 8 euro's each, for first class seating. We choose to walk from the train station to the harbor entrance, which was not a problem. At the harbor entrance a bus to bring us to the ship was awaiting, and soon delivered us to the check in terminal. After handing over our luggage, the check in process started, which was surprisingly smooth, efficient and fast and got us on board quickly, where we made our way to the Lido restaurant, to enjoy our first lunch on board. Directions on board were clear, also for us first timers. Soon we were given the signal that our cabin was ready and after a short stop in our verandah state room, we went to explore the ship. We were surprised that so many people seemed to disappear in a blink into the ship, because not only that day, but all through our cruise, we never had the idea that we were with about 1900 other passengers on board. Overall we were probably one of the younger couples on board, since the majority of the other guests were well over 60 average and maybe even well over 70. We were not bothered by that at all, nor that there were only about 20 to 30 other guest from Holland. We all knew that from all of the reviews we read, prior to choosing this cruise. We were not looking for night after night late entertainment, disco and other late night extravaganza and very much pleased with the relaxed atmosphere. Staff was friendly throughout our cruise and helped us with our first time questions in the beginning. We choose for a pre-booked early seating in the Vista dining room, with a table for two. Food was excellent and varied every night, with enough choice for everyone. Staff in the Vista was very friendly and helpful, but this could be said for everyone on the ship, at every level. Although other reviews on the web are not always completely positive, we have a hard time finding any negative points about the Noordam. The entertainment was good and with a lot of variation. Broadway style, singing, stand-up comedy, classical strings, never a dull moment. Our cabin was almost spotless, larger than expected and with a large balcony. At night, we dozed away on the sound of the breaking waves, through our open balcony door. We were very lucky with the weather which was excellent during our 7 days crossing. Our first port was Livorno, where we took a HAL tour to Lucca and Pisa. We entered port about an hour late because of port authority problems, which was of influence to our tour, because staff was under the impression that our tour should be shortened by an hour to catch up, but at the second part of the tour this was corrected in Pisa. Unfortunately we ended up with only a very short visit tot Lucca, which was our first stop. Al of the on-board logistics, to lead all guests to their booked tour, is like a well oiled machine and works extremely efficient. Second stop was Monaco, where tender service delivered us in the middle of the beautiful town. We studied the maps before we left for our cruise and decided that everything worth seeing, was well within walking distance (harbor, palace, casino, Formula 1 track, Casino etc, so we made our own way into town, where we had plenty of time to cover most of the sites. Monaco is a beautiful place to visit, with spectacular views from the palace, down on the luxurious harbor, with many priceless yachts. After Monaco we visited the beautiful town of Barcelona. Port authority busses took us to the Columbus monument at the base of the famous Ramblas for a reasonable 3 euro return ticket. Again we studied before we went on the cruise and made up our own route through town, which took us through the Ramblas, past the first of the many Gaudi designed buildings, the Barcelona cathedral, , through the Gothic quarter after which we took a short ride on the Red Hop-On-Hop-Off bus, to the Gaudi designed buildings on the "Paseig de Gracia". After a short exterior look, we hopped on the Blue bus, to continue our route to the famous "Sagrada Familia". Unfortunately cues were immense at that time, so we decided not to enter and after a short while took another bus of the Blue line to "Park Guell", another Gaudi highlight. The park is beautiful, again with buildings designed by the architect and also a museum in his former residence. We reentered the Blue line to "Placa de Francesc Macia", where we changed back to the Red line, which after a tour along many more modern sites of Barcelona, eventually brought us back to the Columbus monument. In all Barcelona in a nutshell, where we easily could have spent more than a week, to thoroughly cover all the sites in depth, which was not possible during our short stay in port. Next we visited Cartagena, where again we choose to make our own way into town, which started almost on the gangway. Downloading tourist maps before the start of our cruise, we found our way with no problem and took a self guided tour to visit the ancient Punic walls, roman theatre, old Cartagena castle with beautiful views over the city and the pedestrian friendly centre of Cartagena, all within easy walking distance of the Noordam. Next port visit was Malaga. We were scheduled for an afternoon cruise tour we pre-booked at HAL to Mijas, one of the "white villages", about 45 minutes north-west of Malaga. Time in the morning was to short to walk into Malaga itself, HAL announced that the bus service which would take you from the location we were docked, to the harbor entrance would cost 14 USD each for a round trip, which we found rather costly for the limited time we had in the morning, prior to our tour in the afternoon. Later we heard that next to the HAL bus service, there also were buses from Malaga port authority, which only cost 3 euro's each, so always watch out for the HAL offers in port. The tour itself was ok, the guide was not, terrible in English and to clarify herself, using al words twice, which was extremely annoying. Leaving the guide in Mijas and touring the small village of Mijas ourselves, soon took care of that problem. Last port on European mainland, was Cadiz, again with beautiful weather, something you cannot plan ahead. With the aid of a pre-downloaded map of the city, we again made our own way through the city. Not a spectacular town, but there are several places worth visiting. We were there on a Sunday, so shops were mainly closed. Cadiz has remains of an ancient wall, several churches and other buildings from early Cadiz history and a beautiful cathedral. From its tower you can admire a spectacular view over Cadiz. After Cadiz, finally we were ready for our first full day at sea. Travelling further southwest every hour, weather increasingly got warmer and we experienced a smooth ride throughout. If you want, there is something to do every day, every hour on board, with lectures, information regarding port visits, dancing classes, cooking classes, tours around the kitchen, you name, the crew will organize it. On the other hand, if you just want to lay back and be pampered all the way across the Atlantic, nobody will stop you. Off course crew will try to persuade you to buy a cocktail or something from the bar during every moment of the day, but never in an annoying way. If they understand that you find it a bit too early, or enjoying something you got yourself from the Lido, they don't insist. They remain friendly and always have time for a short talk or remark. Lido mid pool was mainly the area for the elder guests, whether the sliding roof was closed or not. In the case of our crossing, the roof was mainly open, because of the extremely nice weather in the Atlantic autumn. Lido back pool was attracting the relative younger part of the guest, with some live entertainment during part of the day, by a guitarist or the HAL cats. Almost every day there was the highlight of "name that tune" with the DJ, which was a very popular event. Because of the elder clientele on Noordam, the DJ was not exactly overworked, since not many people managed to find their way to the "late night" events in the Northern Lights club. Our last port of call was Funchal Madeira, a beautiful green island. Again we went our own way through the city, took a cable car ride in to the mountain overlooking Funchall and its port, with astonishing views. In Funchal, some extra entertainment boarded, to accompany us for the seven day crossing to Fort Lauderdale, so the entertainment was again with much variation for the remainder of the cruise. During the crossing the crew never ceased to offer a full days program with things to do for everyone, or with an inviting deckchair, just relaxing in the sun. On the culinary front, highlights on afternoon tea, several extra buffets and other food extravaganza was offered. Crew from the exploration team offered highlights everyday on computer knowledge, dancing, sports activities (next to the well equipped fitness room) and a wide range of other activities. Although losing track of time quite quickly during our crossing, the final destination in Fort Lauderdale, came much too soon. Disembarking again was enormously efficient and we were promptly sent off in our allotted time slot, reunited with our luggage and quickly on our way to our hotel in Boca Raton, where we stayed another four nights, before flying back to Amsterdam. We had no problem at all, to rate Noordam in the highest possible way! Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
In October, my husband and I took the 10-day "Europe Mediterranean" on the Noordam. The Good We really enjoyed the night before debriefing about the ports of call that was presented by members of the cruise line both ... Read More
In October, my husband and I took the 10-day "Europe Mediterranean" on the Noordam. The Good We really enjoyed the night before debriefing about the ports of call that was presented by members of the cruise line both in person and on television. These individuals were very professional and informative in their presentation, and we thought that the debriefing was a nice touch. We are senior citizens with limited walking means, and found the ship not only clean but extremely accessible. Staff on-board the ship were extremely friendly and constantly attentive. The nightly entertainment was of high quality, as were the many concerts. Food was of very satisfactory quality, selection, and serving display. The stateroom was very comfortable and clean, all amenities were satisfactory. Departure and arrival times were always accurate, with the exception of the captain's careful decision to avoid a stop in Monaco due to very high winds. Additionally, online booking and telephone representatives were very friendly and informative. The Bad Complaints are limited with the exception of a few points. Internet access was constantly very slow, and when you are paying by the minute for internet usage, this often resulted in numerous minutes spent waiting for things to load. Also, food options between lunch and dinner were extremely limited with the exception of pizza. It would be nice to have a little variety during these times. Conclusion Overall, we had a fantastic 50th anniversary celebration on board the Noordam. We have travelled with numerous other cruise lines in the past, including Holland American Line, and must say that our experience with this company always stands out above the competition. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
This cruise was chosen by my husband who had never wanted to do a cruise! The choice for him was the fact that just about every day we were in a new port...in fact 15 different ports and 7 different countries. Our cruise started from ... Read More
This cruise was chosen by my husband who had never wanted to do a cruise! The choice for him was the fact that just about every day we were in a new port...in fact 15 different ports and 7 different countries. Our cruise started from Civitavecchia and since we were travelling from Australia we had a stopover for a couple of days in Kuala Lumpur at The Traders hotel....Fantastic...and then to Rome for 2 days, 1 night at the Hotel Regno...great location right near the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon but not 5 star...not bad either just not very luxurious. We were travelling with another couple and I had arranged for Rome cabs to do our transfers from Fuimicino to the city and from the city to the port etc...Rome cabs were fantastic and it was so nice to have clean cars and nice drivers...forget buses etc this is well worth the money and if you can share with others it becomes cheaper. We arrived at Civitavecchia without any hassles, although do look for the prostitutes on the way down the freeway as we all coped an eyeful of one lovely lady washing herself....interesting and highly amusing!! Embarkation was easy and quick, some paperwork to fill out and then to the counter for a quick photo, show and hand over your passport and then your identity/room card for your cruise is handed to you. We waited 10 minutes before our number to board was called and off we went. The Noordam is immaculate I cannot explain how clean and tidy the ship is and as I soon noted it was due to the amazing staff who seem to work 24 hours a day polishing, vacuming and dusting anything that doesn't move...so don't stand still too long!!!!We headed upstairs to the Lido for lunch...the food is fantastic and really there is choices for everyone...I can't understand when people find something to complain about as I feel some people just want a winge because they can. We had the call on the speakers to say our rooms were ready at 2pm....a quick rush downstairs to the 6th level...yep the room was perfect...we unpacked and just enjoyed knowing that for 20 days we did not have to pack again. The rooms are compact but perfectly organised, I never once felt boxed in and I loved being able to step on to the balcony every morning and watch as we docked in a new port....our friends chose a room with a window and were down on the first level...I did have a look and yes the room was almost identical in size except for the balcony...choices for some who don't wish to pay but want light choose that room...for me I love not having to get dressed to enjoy outside. Our first day was at sea....this was a test as we all were chomping at the bit to get out at a new port and explore luckily our meet and greet for our Cruise Critic group was arranged for 11am at the Crow's Nest...many thanks to Becky and Sara for arranging such a fun affair...we had Mimosa's and some of the crew spoke to us about the ports of call that we would be going to and what to look for...I am sorry I can't remember their names but it was highly entertaining and informative and it was great to meet all the people who had shared the excitement in the lead up to our cruise. After the M&G we set about exploring the ship there are lots of bars a casino, pools, nightclub, library, computer room, shops...which have some very good specials on some days...you get informed by a letter to your room, do go I found an amazing watch set reduced from $100 to $20...very nice...also there is the show room and piano bar...really lots of places to go but even so the Noordam is not a party ship...do not expect back to back entertainment unless you love a casino or bingo or random cooking or computer classes....there is a time between 7pm and 9pm were there is no entertainment...I should say nothing that would keep me awake...I think this is due to the fact that they must feel most people are at dinner...not a problem for us as we amused ourselves by doing bar crawls and just laughing about life...but for those who are unable to sometimes make up their own entertainment don't go on this cruise. Each night on the Noordam we attended at least one quiz or the piano bar...we also took advantage of the two for one happy hours in the Crow's Nest between 4 and 5 most days...yep we like a drink so I apologise to those people who don't drink reading this review. The Piano Bar is looked after by Buddy...he was a lot of fun and happy to take requests...although we are all sick to death of Piano Man!!!!'The quizzes are run either by DJ Dave who also does the nightclub or Glenn who is the Cruise Director...lots of fun and keeps the brain working. Other entertainment on the cruise that we saw were Natalie and the Hal Cats...watch for the amazing antics of the bongo player... and Zac who plays a lovely acoustic guitar...we also saw The Neptunes who had a fabulous lead singer...sorry I cannot remember her name but we only had time to see them once. There is also full production shows on every night...I am afraid I only watched 10 minutes of one so I am unable to make a comment...it was just not something we chose not to watch. There is also a string quartet but since I am not a huge fan of classical music I only saw them as I walked past where they were playing...some people seemed to be enjoying them so assume they are okay. The first port of call was Dubrovnik Croatia, we chose to use the HAL shuttle to the town at $15 per person...we were quite happy to pay this but as we found out later another couple we know paid $1 for the local bus. This city is a walled city and the walk of the wall is a must...please do not do this unless you are fit or at least capable of taking large steps up to reach the top of the wall!! We also had a place we had read about that we really wanted to visit...so after the wall we went in search of D'Vinos a local wine bar...well worth looking for if you like wine...and if you want more info just contact me. Next Port of call was Kerkira Greece...or Corfu town...we walked from the ship into town about 2km it is a flat even surface so not hard even if it was raining ...I loved this town it was everything that I liked, some time to look at the fortress and sometime at the shops and sometime eating...really just lovely and the people were very nice...it was also less crowded than Dubrovnik which seemed to have more tourists than locals. I will say for those that use the local toilets...always carry tissues or toilet paper and you are not supposed to flush the paper down the toilet...yukkkk!!! But as they have no suridge systems the toilet has to be put into bins...sorry to explain this but it can be a bit of a shock if you don't know. Katakalon Greece was the next day, this port is used just to get to Olympia...I was not interested as I had seen enough photos and info to know I would be bored...so I opted to stay in town...our friends followed our lead and as the ship was larger than the town it took a total of 5 minutes to see the beach and the shops...as we walked we noticed that they had buses to Olympia for 10 Euros return...no guide but much cheaper than anything else...the men decided they would do this and us girls went back to the boat and collected our laptops and sat in the great little water front cafes looking at the ship and the sea drinking coffee and using their free internet....everyone was happy...although the men did say it wasn't that exciting at Olympia...each to their own so don't shoot the messenger!! I also talked to another couple back on board who paid $55 in a taxi to get to Olympia so that will give you an idea of costs...I think HALS is about $100...but don't quote me. Santorini cannot be explained, every postcard you have ever seen is true...stunning...the Noordam allowed us to go out on to the bow to watch the sun rise over Santorini and we all made our way to take photos...it was such a nice way to start the day. Today we were to be tendered in and as we were in town from 9am until 7pm I had booked on line a day cruise around the island. I had booked the S/Y Eleftheria...if you want more info contact me...this was a day trip on a Greek boat...do it if you have time and I would recommend them so much as it only takes a maximum of 14 people but luckily on this day our group of six were the only people on board. To go back to the start we chose to go on the cable cars from the base of the cliff up to Santorini...another couple we were with chose donkeys...they said it was a bit scary but they enjoyed it...I am a coward so I was happy to go on the cable...it did not take long as there was no line....but we were the only cruise ship that day so it might make a difference if more people are around. Santorini has great shops too...look out for the cheap costume jewellery near the cable cars...very nice and made great gifts for my girlfriends when we got home. Kusadasi Turkey was interesting, we had been hearing so much about Ephesus on the lead up to this port that I was worried that we had not booked a tour...it was a decision that happily worked in our favour...the port is located right at the markets and has a new shopping area that you walk through to exit the port...as we were leaving a taxi company said that they would take us to Ephesus for 25 Euros per person...we kept walking and as we got of the port we asked a taxi driver how much to Ephesus and we got 20 Euros per person return with him taking us to the top of the area and meeting us at the bottom one and a half hours later for the return trip where he would be paid...yep a bargain!!!! We didn't get a guide but there are headsets and guides around if you want them...our driver Ali gave us a book to use as a guide...this book was so good we bought one ourselves later...the taxis are immaculate and take at least 6 to 8 people use them and you will be happy it is a lot cheaper than the Hal tours again. Ali our driver also happily showed us a place to eat when we asked him...he was very nice and so was the resturaunt. I will tell you that the sellers in the markets are aggressive...I am a seasoned shopper and they drove me insane...it almost stopped me shopping...but not quite!!! Piraeus was next, this is the port to Athens...once again I had booked a private tour...this time with Private Greece Tours...once again contact me for more info if wanted...thank heavens for small mercies as we had arranged to be collected at 8am...we were greeted by Spiros...there was so many cars and buses as I think there was at least four ships in port that day I do not know how we found each other but our name was held high and we found him quickly....Spiros was a large very proud Greek and as we squeezed in to our small Mercedes taxi he gave us a running itinerary on our day and the history of Athens...very interesting...as we arrived at the Acropolis he told us to run as quick as we could to the top and get our tickets for entry...this was the wisest words as we arrived with little or no crowds and enjoyed the Parthenon with no one around....we were to find out later other friends could not get in as the line to get in was 1km long...take my advice and get there as soon as you can...we also did the museum, the old and new Olympic sites and the changing of the guard...do this as it is fascinating to watch and very enjoyable...we had been expected to be dropped back at the port but as we had only chosen a half day tour I asked him to leave us at the Plaka and because we cut our tour short...his words not ours...he took us to the highest point in Athens to look over the city such fantastic views and a good way of seeing where you have been. Next the Plaka which is the oldest area of Athens and once again I had a mission....this time to visit the oldest distillery in Athens... Bretto's www.brettosplaka.com ...do this if you like wine or Ouzo...it is brilliant and worth looking for. The Plaka also has more ruins and great little eateries the food is delicious so have lunch there....we ate at YdRia www.ydria.gr it was a random choice but they gave us a free dessert and a delicious dessert wine to finish our meal....bargain!!! The reason I have so much info about them is I always keep a card of places I like. The next day we were at sea and at last a chance to lie down in the sun and relax and of course enjoy music trivia by the pool. Tonight was also a formal night in the Main dining room so we all frocked up and went to enjoy dinner, we had chosen "As you wish dining" we had no problems ever getting a table and we never lined up...we like eating at different times so this type of dining suited our group perfectly. The food is delicious and beautifully presented the hardest thing is making a choice of what to eat and whether to have all four courses...if you do make sure you try the French onion soup....yum!! Messina Italy was a short day 7am until 1pm, some people went to Mount Etna but we chose to walk in to town which is just across from the ship it is a little confusing to figure out how to get to the centre of town but just walk straight across the road and cut through the buildings and you will be there. We looked at the church tower which has an automated clock system and then we hopped on one of the tourist "trains" which is a little bus pulling carriages that looks like a train. This was fun and we got to see a little of everything and gave us the opportunity to walk back to things we wanted to see after we got off the ride. The town has some great little back streets if you just want to wander and it has some good gelati and coffee shops too. Back to Civitavecchia for the 10 day turn around, on this day we said goodbye to some new friends we had made and watched as new cruisers started to come on board. We caught the shuttle in to town choosing to walk around Civitavecchia instead of going to Rome as we would be spending four days there at the end of our cruise. Civitavecchia is a really nice town it has plenty of shops and had the weather been better I would have used the beach...we also took advantage of the free Wifi at the coffee shops and enjoyed the local food again I don't feel that you have to go to Rome unless you haven't been there. I have plenty of info about what we did in Rome which I will put at the end of this review. Back on board for the sail away party on the back deck...Natalie and the Hal Cats played up a storm and combined with the fantastic cocktails and the flamboyant plastic cocktail cups that you get to keep and refill for cheaper all is good with the world. Livorno was the next port of call and this time I had booked a Hal tour the price was $95 and was a tour to Lucca and then to Pisa. I awoke this morning to my husband having gastro....what a disaster and I called the doctor...the time was 7.30am I was informed that the medical centre opens at 8am but if it was an emergency they could contact the nurse...we decided to wait until 8am but as he was so unwell I asked for them to send the nurse to the room as he was unable to make it down to the A deck and the Medical Centre. I left him on his own and went on the tour...truthfully I did not want to be near him as I did not want to catch it...I had to go to the showroom where all the people on tours meet and wait for their tour to be called. I approached the tour director and explained that my husband was unwell and confined to bed and enquired as to whether or not we might be reimbursed for his ticket....the answer was yes if it was proved that he was indeed unwell...yep we did get reimbursed at the end of our trip. Anyway about the tour we waited until it was called then we all walked out to be given a coloured sticker and number which identified our group and bus we all piled on and off we went. The guide was a local girl and she spoke very good English she told us about where we were going and what we would see and then she handed out the whispers...these are the headsets that enable you to hear the tour guide as you follow her on your tour...we tested these and for those ones that didn't work they were replaced. Lucca is a walled city and I loved it, it was such a shame I could not share it with my husband but it was very pretty....lots of narrow corridors and no cars only bicycles...one of the older locals did get a bit peeved with us though as he was trying to negotiate the streets with his bicycle and all of us where in the way...I can't blame him really. The tour guide gave us a tour and we had the option of following her for a full tour or leaving her half way to wander on our own...I chose the latter. Remember that shops in Europe don't open until 10am at the earliest and then they shut at 2pm for a couple of hours reopening again at 4pm and staying open until 10pm. The reason I say this is I love to shop and as it was so early nothing was open!!!! I was saved though as a fantastic antique market started to set up...if I could have had a shipping container I could have spent a fortune...I think it was Saturday...I can't remember but if you get to go there you will love it...I did buy an amazing antique Venetian Mosaic 1920's brooch...stunning. We all piled back on to the bus for the next leg of the journey to Pisa...this place is a tourist mecca and as the tower is in a square and there are about 100 buses of tourists we had to park just out of the town. The guide informed us before we got off the bus not to buy from the hawkers at the bus stop these people sell copy bags etc as it is legal for them to sell them but if you buy from them the local police or Carbineri will arrest or fine you...I have heard of this before as one woman was caught in Rome and fined $1500 for buying a copy bag...more than the real one she could have bought!!! We walked about 600mtrs across some main roads and into a very crowded entrance area to Pisa...it is not a hard walk but don't do this tour if you struggle with walking as the roads are uneven. As we entered the walled area there it was the leaning tower and two other magnificent buildings I did not go inside any of the buildings but it was enough just to admire them and enjoy watching everyone trying to take the classic silly poses of holding the tower up. After listing to the guide I chose to wander some of the back streets...not much to see but had a great gelati...there is also lots of cheap shops facing the square with cheap scarves and bags...I nabbed a really nice Italian leather bag for 20 euros...and everyone likes it so I wish I had bought more. Once again we met everyone at a designated point...this time as the bus was located a distance away we would not leave that area until everyone was there...as usual some people are unable to tell the time and always run late....such is life but at least we finally got going. The tour was good and I felt happy with the money spent...I do not know if it would have been cheaper to do a private tour and the only thing I would have liked was to have longer in Lucca. Also a last minute note...it is very hard to find a toilet and the one in Lucca was shut for cleaning!!!! My husband awoke the next day feeling great...thank heavens it was only a 24 hour gastro!!! So off to Monte Carlo we went...today was another tender day...there was another ship in port and it was no smaller than ours but I think it is on a pay the highest fee and get the port as half way through the day that ship went out so their cruisers had to be tendered out and another ship came in...not sure how it works? Anyway Monaco was very stunning and very rich, this is the first time I have ever seen a four door Porche!!! We all decided to start walking from the port and we managed to make our way up to the Museum it was early so it wasn't open yet so we decided to jump on the hop on hop off bus at 17 euros per person we thought this was a good deal...we did the whole circuit and got off at the Casino...once again we were early and you are unable to enter the Casino until 2pm they also charge you 10 Euro to get in and you must show your passport...this is to stop the Monagesques or locals from gambling...something they are not allowed to do in their own country. There are lots of photo opportunities and we had one of the most expensive coffees of our trip at the cafe located next to the Casino....but who cares it had great people watching and we are on holidays. Well we decided we better get back on the bus so we could get to the palace for the change of guard...if I remember this is at midday every day...well we went to wait for the bus that was supposed to come every 15 minutes...well half an hour later it turned up and people pushed ahead and we could not get on...I was furious...we waited another 10 minutes and this time we got aggressive...the Russians were the worst but we beat them!!!! We made it to the palace just in time...the trouble was that so did everyone else...it was manic...luckily I waited away from where the guards were at the palace end and watched as they came out of their building located opposite the palace so I got some good photos. The decision was made that we would not bother with the bus again and so we set off on foot...this was fine as we were really at the top of the hill and as we walked we managed to get some fantastic pictures...if you are fit enough I would encourage this as you get to see some wonderful sights and Monaco is very picturesque...on the way we found a public toilet we paid our 1 Euro donation and all was clean and good...better than some towns!! The port is filled with boats and we were also there for the lead up to the Monaco boat show which was to occur two days later so we all chose the cruiser we would leave on and dreamed of wealth we wished we had!!! Barcelona was a two day stop over, we arrived at about 2pm and left the next day at 11pm...luckily for me it was two days as yes my husband passed the gastro to me!!! Anyway the first day he swore all he did was catch the shuttle which is 3 Euros return into town and just walked down Las Ramblas which is the main street in Barcelona with our friends...he saved all the good stuff for the next day when I felt better. The next day I was fine so we went to go and catch the bus...the line was ridiculous so we piled in to a cab to head to La Sagarada Familia which is Gaudi's church....this is an absolute must do not miss this...I do not often get impressed but this place is incredible both inside and out...the line was long but we were inside in a very short time...we spent about two hours in there...just amazing!!! We then caught another cab up to Parc Rual which is Gaudi's park for the people...we walked around for another two hours...it was really enjoyable and relaxing...we then jumped in another cab and headed to the Triumph Arch...after that we walked from there back towards Las Ramblas...lunch was some tapas and sangria...the Spanish obviously do not know what small is when it comes to sangria or beer...beware that the drinks are enormous!!!! The cabs were actually quite cheap at about 10 euros per trip....the only time we felt ripped off was when we caught a cab from the port into town...a very short trip and 11 Euros!!!! Palma de Mallorca was the next port of call we caught the shuttle into town...on the way there is lots of marinas and boats...more than Monaco!!! I would have liked to got off the shuttle and have a look but as it is quite a way into town it is not probably advisable walking unless you are very fit. We headed up to the cathedral to look inside once we got in to town...the cathedral is really interesting and this is where they bury their old kings....we then wandered around the old quarter by doing this we found the old Arab baths...no water....and also admired the general architecture of the town. After a bit of walking we decided we would find out the price of one of the horse and cart rides around the streets...we approached our driver who enthusiastically pulled out his calculator to negotiate price...$120 euros for 45 minutes....no way!!! We started to walk away...okay he says 80 Euros...no way...alright 60...no we say 40 he says 50 and we settle on 45 Euros for 30 minutes...a big laugh and I am sure we could have got it for less but who cares....so we climbed on board and off we went...it is truelly amazing how the horse and carriage can negotiate such narrow streets...some so narrow people had to climb into doorways...it was money well spent and we had a lot of fun. Palma de Mallorca is also well known for its pearls...they are cheap and well worth looking at and buying...I think like all jewellery that some is better than others but I am not concerned about making money on them I just wanted some to wear...yep I did get some. Next stop was Tunisia, the port is La Goulette. We had done a little research and had decided that we would catch the local train into Tunis and go to the Medina....well this was not going to happen!! The port is brand new and it looks like they are hoping to become a cruise destination with new shops and eateries located at the port...we went out to catch the train...no way were they going to let us do that...I could see it from where the ship was and it looked like locals could cut through a gate to get to it...but there was a guard and he would not let us go that way...we would have to walk 2 kms to get to the other side...the taxi drivers would not take us to the medina and leave us they insisted on a return trip...no negotiation!!!! This trip would cost 80 euros for the six of us...we had no choice!!! We had exchanged money inside the port and the exchange officer said we could exchange it back on return...the cab drivers take Euros only so go figure that one. Once at the Medina which is not that far the taxi driver who spoke little to no English said he would wait for us for two hours where he would return us safely to port...I felt a bit like a child and I started to feel like having a tantrum as I do not like them telling me what I should do on my holiday. Anyway we headed into the medina...I never once felt unsafe but I did have three big men around...my husband was offered to sell both myself and my girlfriend to a man who offered 100000 camels for us...but he didn't take up the offer....i liked the Medina and enjoyed wandering through all the tiny narrow walkways...I could imagine getting lost but somehow we managed to negotiate our way around and eventually find our way back to the taxi driver. Tunisia was probably the least enjoyable of all the ports as we all felt a bit too controlled by the locals...this is just our opinion. Trapani Sicily was a fun day, the ship moored right next to the town and was taller than any buildings in the area...it literally stopped the town!!! We left the ship early and walked along the port towards the left following the sea...it is a very narrow town surrounded by sea and by walking around the outside and then through the middle we got a great feel for this lovely town...I wish it hadn't been windy as I would have enjoyed sometime at the beach. We eventually made our way back into the main town and started heading towards the ship it was here that we found the town had put on a meet and greet with local dancers, food and wine...it was by far the best welcome we had on our cruise so far and was enjoyed by all of us. I am not sure how often ships come into this port but I felt like we were a novelty as there was a traffic jam with cars and people coming to see this huge ship in port...even as we sailed away they lined the port to wave us goodbye...it was really enjoyable and I finally felt like this is what it would have been like in the old days of cruising. Naples was our last port of call and also where I had booked another private tour....Rome in limo was our choice... www.romeinlimo.com these guys are great and I had booked a full day tour to Pompeii, Sorrento and Positano. Murco our driver collected us at 8am and drove us towards Pompeii...once again we arrived before all the buses and we were greeted by Charles who was our private tour guide for Pompeii...do this as it is just too hard to negotiate and understand Pompeii...we were actually the first in and even he said we were very lucky to enjoy Pompeii without the 50 million tourists that would follow us. After 2 hours we headed back to Murco and the trip to Sorrento...this is a really a nice drive and we stopped a couple of times on the way for photos of the beautiful scenery...45 minutes later we were at Sorrento...we had a lovely lunch here and wandered the streets and shops at our own lesuire...another two hours later we were on our way to Positano...I could live here this town is so pretty and I wish we had longer there...unfortunately we had to head back to the ship and our tour was over just as quickly as it started. We had spent a total of 8 hours touring but it went so quickly...I would really recommend this tour especially Pompeii. Well our cruise was over...I could have stayed on the Noordam for another month it was so much fun and the ship is so wonderful...the staff are so good and I am already missing my turn down service every night...the great cocktails and the delicious food. The only thing I won't miss was the not so great internet...but hey we are at sea and sometimes I should get away from being in contact with the world...I even got so bad I didn't know what day it was and the only way I knew where we would be the next day was because of the great maps and information about the forthcoming port that was placed on your bed very night with two chocolates and of course your amazing animal made out of towels by your wonderful room stewards!!! Thanks Noordam...we will be back!!!! If anyone wants more info about what we did in Rome or any other port please contact me. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We decided on this particular cruise because of it's itinerary. We have cruised twice before and have fallen in love with it. This is our first one with Holland America, we have done NCL and Celebrity. We are middle aged, my husband ... Read More
We decided on this particular cruise because of it's itinerary. We have cruised twice before and have fallen in love with it. This is our first one with Holland America, we have done NCL and Celebrity. We are middle aged, my husband is 50 I'm 46, we brought both of our son's with us, their ages are 24 and 16. We decided to go to Disney World first and then get some rest on a cruise. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express by the Airport in Ft Lauderdale. It was in a great location and was a good hotel, it offered free shuttle to the cruise terminal and a free full breakfast. We were a little upset when we got to the cruise terminal and the mini bus driver told all of us to stay in the mini bus until he had unloaded the luggage. When he finally opened the door for all of us we piled out and began to get our luggage. He stood in front of it and told us we were not allowed to get it until we tipped him, people were speechless, many of us had money out to tip him already but when he held our luggage hostage my money went back in my bag and out came a dollar. Many people did the same thing, he would of made more on tips had he not made that statement and not let anyone touch their bags. After that we handed our bags over to the the dock workers and began our embarkation process, it was fairly painless, took about an hour to go through. We filled out health questioners, received a number and stood in line. It was very hot in there but we only stood in line for about 15 minutes. The staff are very friendly at the desk, took care of our paper work then sent us up the escalator to another room with our number in hand. The thought was to have a seat and wait for your number to be called then you would board the ship, but when we got there they were already two numbers ahead of ours so we boarded immediately. Our first impression of the ship was incredible, the nicest we had been on so far. Everything was shiny and immaculate and the staff were helpful and considerate. We went for lunch in the buffet and then went for a walk around the ship until it was announced that our rooms were ready. We found our balcony room and waited for the ship to leave port. The room was the smallest we had been in so far but the bed was the most comfortable, as were the veranda chairs. Our room stewards Wala and Remi were incredible, the best we have had, very polite, hard working gentlemen. The ship its self was lovely and so was the crew, they have so much patients with passengers and work so hard. The only thing negative I have to say about the ship is that they really don't enforce the rules in the pools. I did see a mother take her baby (just over a year) into the main pool with a diaper on and nothing was said. The adult pool on the stern of the ship also had kids in it and I do have to say the time I did use it it was dirty, I am not saying it was because of the kids at all though. The food on the ship was top notch and they always came around to make sure it was okay for you. The coffee from the cafe by the library was excellent and I like that you got it in a take away cup. There was always something to do on sea days and even in port days. The shows that we did see in the theater were great, but we were in bed most nights by 10pm (including the kids) we were exhausted. The only other negative thing I will say about being on this cruise was there were a fair amount of very rude seniors on this certain cruise. I don't know why that was, the other cruise we went on with Celebrity also had a high senior population but they were kind, these ones were very rude with the staff and some of the passengers, they almost seemed like they thought they were entitled. The ports were lovely, especially their private island, half moon cay. This is the prettiest place I have been so far. We rented the eggshell cabana and would do it again, perfect place to relax, get some shade and meet up with everyone. It was half way down the beach so it wasn't so busy, also right by washroom and maybe 2 minute walk for food. Samana was a port we weren't to sure about, we weren't going to tender over but are glad we did. We walked from the tender dock into town, it was only about a five minute walk. We bought some beautiful canvas paintings and just recently had them framed, they look great. Grand Turk was beautiful but we wish we had of gone to another beach instead of the one at the dock. It was very busy as a Carnival ship was also there. We had been to Aruba and Curacao before and decided to just get a cab to the beach in Aruba and did the sea Aquarium in Curacao. In Bonaire we took the ships excursion over to Klein Bonaire and snorkeled, the fish were so close to shore and such vivid colors, just a great day. We had two sea days before reaching Ft Lauderdale on May 14th, it was pretty rough and the boat did rock but for the most part it just helped put us to sleep. I have to say I like Holland Americas disembarkation process the best. They gave you 3 or 4 choices about what time you would like to disembark, we picked the last one which was 9:45 am, we were allowed to stay in our cabin until that time then proceed to deck 3 to leave. We stayed for four days in Ft Lauderdale at the Gallery One Doubletree Suites, I would highly recommend this hotel, great location, nice rooms and great view. This was our best family vacation to date, I am now trying to figure out where we will go to next. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
My wife and I and and another couple left May 4, 2010. Did all paper-work on HAL website. Print only first page for back-up in case they loose you in system. Embarkation was painless. Took our carry-ons and went straight to Lido to a great ... Read More
My wife and I and and another couple left May 4, 2010. Did all paper-work on HAL website. Print only first page for back-up in case they loose you in system. Embarkation was painless. Took our carry-ons and went straight to Lido to a great lunch. This is our 20th cruise for me and my wife, mainly on RCL, Holland and Princess. I found Holland to have the best food of any ship we have been on, with Carnival coming in dead last. Princess, Carnival, and RCL ships are beautiful, outside and inside especially the atrium. Holland is lacking in some respect to inside appointments. Food makes-up for any short comings. The kiss-of-death for Princess is the Lido deck where most people eat. IT WAS DESIGNED AND LAID OUT BY A DRUNK SAILOR!!!! There is no flow, absolute nightmare. Found a mix of all ages on HAL, as a rule-of-thumb it will average 50-60, not true on this cruise. Entertainment in the main lounge is so-so, seen a lot better. The main draw is the Piano Bar with Jim Fischer, he is great! HAL too me does not gouge, nickel and dime you as much as others. Excursions are very pricey as are all cruises lines. We mainly cruise for the relaxation, dinning, duty free shopping, and a beautiful beach. The itinerary was Half Moon Cay Bahamas (HAL private isle) beautiful, Turks and Caicos Bahamas, fair shopping but beautiful beach where you dock. Samana, Dominican Republic which is a total waste of time, horrible, never again. Day at sea was wonderful. Bonaire, supposedly a divers paradise, and that is it. Won't go there again. Curacao, beautiful one of my favorites been there many times, great everthing. Aruba is so-so, went on a snorkel excursion to Palm Island $79 plus all you can drink and eat, worth your time. Over-all it was a great cruise, good food!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We flew out of Pittsburgh on Monday, May 3 morning heading first to Tampa then to Ft. Lauderdale. Flights were not fun. Lots of turbulance which did not make me happy. Arrived in Ft. Lauderdale around 11:30 a.m.. Our friends whom we were ... Read More
We flew out of Pittsburgh on Monday, May 3 morning heading first to Tampa then to Ft. Lauderdale. Flights were not fun. Lots of turbulance which did not make me happy. Arrived in Ft. Lauderdale around 11:30 a.m.. Our friends whom we were going cruising with drove in from N. Carolina. They met us at the airport and the four of us stayed at the LaQuinta hotel near the airport. The hotel was clean and the continental breakfast was very nice. We stayed at this hotel because they let our friends park their car there while we were on the cruise without any charge. The next day (Tuesday) the hotel shuttle took us to the ship (no charge). The same shuttle arranged to pick us up after the cruise and take us to the airport for a fee of either 8 or 9 dollars. Which was worth it. Also, our friends were picked up and taken back to the hotel. I want to mention that we flew in on Southwest. One thing that SW has done was when we arrived and was getting our baggage a representative came up to us and informed us of their luggage deal. We paid $10.00 per bag and at the end of the cruise after you collect your luggage and go through customs their is a counter SW has and they will take your luggage and ship it to the airport and you don't see your luggage until you arrive at your destination. I have to say it was the best $30.00 we spent. Other airlines were charging $25 - $30 per bag. My hats off to SW for doing this. We arrived at the cruise port about 11:30 a.m. Being we had SA Suites we were taken right in and was on board within 15 minutes. This was our 14 cruise but, our first on Holland America. There were all ages on this cruise. Alot of people from Europe and there was a big group from the Netherland countries. There was not many children on board and the ones that were on baord were very well behave that we noticed. This was the first time we ever had a big suite it really spoiled us. We loved being able to go into the Neptune Lounge. Our cabin stewarts did a great job. The weather was hot and sunny. The seas were 98% calm. Only once we had some rough seas that was when we left Aruba for maybe 12 hours. The ship was clean and pretty looking. the one thing I didn't like on the Noordam was the Atrium. It was soo small it made feel claustophobia. As for the service it was fantastic on the ship. I never met one employee who was not friendly. We had late dinner. As for the food, that is subjact to everyone own taste. I myself do not like what you call "fancy food". I like just plain old comfort food. The soups were great!! Each night I would have two or three different soups. Our dining room service was excellent and especially my hats off to Ida Bagus Sugiantha who was the dinning Room manager. In all our cruises we never had a manager who treated us like Royality. Every day he we would be at our table not once but sometimes twice to make sure everything was alright for us. He added to our dining experience. So Holland America give that man a raise! Our itinery was Half Moon Cay, that is Holland America own private island. It was very hot that day and no wind was a blowing. My hubbie is not a beach person so we did not stay long. I have to say the island was very nice. We took the usually ship tours to Grand Turk, Bonair, Curacao & Aruba. All were nice and we were not dissapointed. But the highlight of our tours was the private tour we took in Samana Dominican Republic. We were with a cruise critic group on this cruise and one of the members heard about Terry's tours in Samana. We decided to take a chance and book with Terry. What a tour! He took us up in the hills and saw his families land. We also had the oportunity to go into the home of a family. It sure was educational and makes you count your blessing for being born in America. Terry took us all over the place. We had a wonderful lunch at a beach prepared for us by one of the native people. We also got out of the vehicle and walked along a path through the forest to a beautiful waterfall. This tour lasted 5 hours. We were charged $55.00 per person and you could have all the beer, soda and water you wanted and that included the lunch. We learned so much about Samana from Terry. He takes you away from the regular tourist places. He will schedule the tour how you would like it. I would highly recommend anyone who goes to Samana to get a hold of Terry in Samana for a tour. One thing I liked about the Noordam was they had great movies on the ship. We got to see The Blind Side and Avatar. On the downside we could not get any info what was going on in the US. On the TV was CNN International. I didn't like not knowing what was going on back home. This was the fastest we ever got off a ship. We were off by 8:30 and at the airport by 9:00. All in all, I will say this was a great cruise. We really enjoyed it. I would recomend this itinerary and the Noordam to everyone. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Embarkation at around 11:30 was somewhat long, but discovered that there was an accident on the escalator up to the boarding level and also the HAL check-in card machines were operating slowly. This may have caused the back-up we ... Read More
Embarkation at around 11:30 was somewhat long, but discovered that there was an accident on the escalator up to the boarding level and also the HAL check-in card machines were operating slowly. This may have caused the back-up we experienced. Our 2 previous HAL cruises were on the Zaandam and the Maasdam a number of years ago, and we were anxious to experience HAL again. THE SHIP: First impression inside was a bit underwhelming and claustrophobic. This is a lovely ship, no doubt, but VERY understated. THere's definitely no "Wow" when you first board, like I remembered with the 2 previous HAL ships. We found the atrium areas to be very small and pretty much unused. I also thought the Lido buffet area was poorly laid out, as people walked through it constantly to get from the aft pool area to the mid pool. The space between serving areas and tables is small as it is, and the extra people walking through who weren't even eating made it all the more congested. Not much they can do now, but feel the design just isn't quite "right." Cabin: We had a VE balcony on deck 5, a triple as we had our grandson. It also seemed smaller than our previous cabins, and those were an OV and an inside. However, the storage space was super, more than adequate for the 3 of us, and we loved that there was space to store luggage under the bed. Once again, though, the layout of the room seemed off. When the sofa was extended into a bed, no one could access the balcony. Our room steward was exceptional, so he had our beds ready EARLY in the evenings (meaning we couldn't sit on the balcony after that without doing acrobatics), but he also made up our room as soon as we left for breakfast. The bathroom had lots of areas for storing all of our toiletries and we really appreciated the size of the shower/tub. Much bigger than most other lines. However, The lighting around the closet area in the entryway is very poor and you can't see inside, so I would recommend you bring a small flashlight to remedy this problem. The beds are WONDERFUL and the linens are so soft you'll want to run out and buy new ones for your home. Dining: We had open seating and we loved it! We usually went to the MDR between 6:30 and 7:15 and we NEVER had to wait for a table. Sometimes we were at a table for 6 or 8 and sometimes we had our own table - we weren't picky and said we'd take anything and we were very impressed with this option. The servers treated us the same as if we ate at their table every night. I'd definitely choose this from now on. The food was exceptional! We loved the creative menus, and appreciated that many of the dishes had a caribbean touch. We had lobster twice and king crablegs once, so HAL was more than generous!!! The beef (filets, prime rib) was always so tender it could be cut with a fork and everything was well-seasoned. The BEST food we've had on any cruise. And most importantly, everything was always served hot. You don't know how important this is until you've sailed on a ship (Navigator of the Seas) where most entrees and soups were barely warm. Kudos to the kitchen and wait staff! Entertainment: We thought the Noordam singers and dancers were some of the most talented we've seen on any ship, although their material sometimes wasn't on a par with them. The Las Vegas show was really good, especially the Sting number - very creative! We only saw the comedians on the last night revue so we can't really critique, although they seemed very funny in their short skits. The house band musicians were terrific, but the poor girl singer with the Halcats was just pitiful. Unfortunately, this was the late-night entertainment in the Crow's Nest and it kept us away from that venue. Gary T'To did happy hour in the Crow's Nest and he was fabulous - they should have him there all night!!! The piano bar was OK, the Ocean Bar band was really not very good. Movies were very recent but shown at odd times. We would really have liked to have one in the afternoon of a sea day, but it didn't happen. I suppose this is because the movies share the venue with the Culinary Arts Center. And I must mention the cruise director, Mike Connachan - he's just super! Teen program: The Loft became our grandson's favorite part of the ship and they had an extensive daily program for the teens. We were truly impressed with this. He made friends from across the world and had a blast. Ports: We stopped at St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados, Martinique, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay. We booked independent tours (Serenity in St. Lucia, Heatwave in Barbados and Sunny Liston in St. Thomas) and did the others on our own. Loved them all. This is a wonderful itinerary. Overall: We had a fabulous cruise! The staff and crew are without a doubt the best on the seas, and really spoil you for any other cruise line. The food was fabulous, the ship was meticulously clean. We loved the Happy Hours in the Crow's Nest and the Ocean Bar, the promenade deck, the scenic cruising along Martinique and St. Lucia, the many Culinary Arts Center demonstrations, the lack of harassing servers trying to sell us the "drink of the day", the incredible crew, the large library, well I'm sure I'm leaving many things out. But sum it up by saying we loved it and can't wait to go again! The big ships may be glitzier and have more to do, but no cruise line will treat you better than HAL. Want to feel like royalty? Sail HAL. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
I'm a college student now, and I love to travel. Before now, I have never visited the Southern Caribbean. This April, I took the Holland America Noordam on a ten day cruise, and I couldn't be happier. I have sailed on Holland ... Read More
I'm a college student now, and I love to travel. Before now, I have never visited the Southern Caribbean. This April, I took the Holland America Noordam on a ten day cruise, and I couldn't be happier. I have sailed on Holland America before, but only on the Westerdam. As I'm sure most of you know, the Noordam and the Westerdam are sister ships, and are therefore almost identical.There, are, however, a few minor differences between these two fine ships.    First, and most noticeably, the Crow's Nest on the Westerdam is much smaller than the Noordam. For those who haven't sailed, the Crow's Nest is a lounge on deck 10, the top of the ship, that has a 180 degree view of where the ship is headed. Personally, this is my favorite lounge, as it provides beautiful, breathtaking views, especially at sunrise. Also, it is a great place to look out from as the ship pulls into port. Now, on the Westerdam, the Crow's Nest is divided into two sections. On the left is the lounge, but n the right is the ship's library and internet cafe. Personally, I feel this was a waste of space, as I bring my own book, and the internet is far overpriced, so I don't use the library much. Even though there was plenty of seating on the Westerdam, it was often difficult to get a seat by the window. On the Noordam, I was happy to see the library moved to deck three, and the Crow's Nest almost doubled in size. Now, there are plenty of seats, except during happy hour, and the lounge is much more relaxing, quiet, and less crowded.    Also different on the Noordam are the shops. Instead of all of the high priced items being in a separate circular room, as on the Westerdam, they are displayed in wall cases in the halls near the shops. Other than that, the two ships are almost identical, with a few minor seating rearrangements which you won't notice after the first day.    This was my first time eating at the Pinnacle Grill, which is the restaurant which you pay extra for. Honestly, I was skeptical of paying $25 a person when there is already 5 star dining down the hall in the main dining room. However, I was not disappointed. While some of the food is served in the main dining room, the Vista Dining Room, the Pinnacle appears to offer finer quality. I had filet mignon in both restaurants, and was shocked by the difference. The Pinnacle's beef was fantastic, and I could literally cut it with my butter knife. It is not a stretch to say that it was one of the finest steaks I've had, and I have eaten at some nice steakhouses.    This was also my first time eating at the Canaletto Restaurant, which was not yet on the Westerdam (however I hear it soon will be!). This is, like the Pinnacle, a separate restaurant, however this one is included. The food was excellent, however it is a little noisy because this restaurant is just a sectioned of part of the Lido. We were able to eat there once, as we made reservations early on, however after that we were unable to make reservations again. This is one of the few things I was disappointed by on this cruise. When I called to make reservations, the host claimed it was booked up, but they always left half the restaurant open for walk-ins. Now, when I went up there for a walk-in, the same man claimed he had no idea what I was talking about, and that the restaurant was fully booked. However, there was only three couples in it, and plenty of tables.  In fact, there is always about eight tables in the restaurant that are never used, no matter what day or time it is. Getting a seat at the Canaletto is the most common complaint on this ship.    As for onboard entertainment, well, there's not much for us under 50. Just about every night, they put on their singers and dancers, who were okay. They also had a piano player who told a few good stories, and was okay doing covers of old songs. I missed the comedian and the opera singer, although I heard they were just average. The band, Kat and the HALCats, were rather good poolside, but I wouldn't go out of my way to listen to them. Personally, my favorite performer was a guitarist named Gary T'To,  who was actually very good. He played mostly older songs, from artists such as the Beatles, Jimmy Buffett, and Peter Frampton, but was always looking for requests and played just about everything he was asked.      As for ports, this was a Southern Caribbean cruise. Our first stop was Aruba, which had good shopping, and nice beaches if you venture out to Eagle Beach by the resorts. We did not. It was your typical Caribbean shopping island, nicer than St. Maarten, but not nicer than Grand Cayman. Everything was clean, and the locals were friendly. Only one shopkeeper really harassed us for a sale.    Next was Curaçao, which was very nice. We arrived on a Sunday, however, and some, if not most, things were closed, but there was still plenty to do. This is also a shopping island, but the prices on Aruba were better. In my opinion, the city was nicer than Aruba. We docked right at the Renaissance Hotel, which was gorgeous and had plenty of shops. Next to that is a fort, which I thought would be an actual historic fort. Turns out, they hollowed it out and put in more shops. I think that that is kind of a shame, but I suppose that makes more money than historic tours.    Bonaire was the third stop. Many people were telling us, including the crew, to not even bother getting off because there was nothing there. Not true. There was a beautiful little town, with lots of shops and very nice locals. It wasn't an Aruba when it comes to shopping, however the countryside is far prettier. Take a tour. I was lucky enough to take the Mangrove tour, which was the highlight of my trip. The whole island was gorgeous, and you will not be disappointed.    After Bonaire was Samana, in the Dominican Republic. Here, you will be disappointed. I can honestly recommend not getting off the ship. This is the only island of the dozen or so I've visited that I will tell you this. There is literally nothing there but beggars, street performers, and men begging you to buy their junk so they can feed their families. It's truly heartbreaking. If only the government could get organized or a corporation would invest and change these peoples lives. But until then, I would not go back. Obviously, this was a cheap port for Holland America, but for the life of me, I cannot see why they would stop here.    Next was Grand Turk, a favorite stop for all Holland America cruises. This is a nice but tiny island. There isn't much, except the world's largest Margaritaville, which is the overpriced burger restaurant owned by Jimmy Buffett. Margaritaville is fun to sit around in, and they have good drinks, so I would recommend visiting even though the prices are a little high. The upper deck of the restaurant has the best view of the island, so ask to sit on the second floor. If you don't want to eat at Margaritaville, you can still at their pool, which is very nice, or just get a lounge chair on the beach, which there is no shortage of. Grand Turk also has the nicest and cheapest duty free I've seen, so feel free to stock up on your drinks.    The last stop was Half Moon Cay, Holland America's private island. This island has some of the nicest beaches I've seen, along with the most clear, turquoise water I've seen. Here, I would just recommend hanging out on the beach. I would strongly advise renting your own cabana. This way, you have a nice little hut to sit in when taking a break from the sun. Also, cabana holders receive free soft drinks and a few light snacks. Plus, you don't have to worry about saving a spot on the beach. The barbeque is good, but I'd skip the ribs. They're a little dry. But the chicken and burgers are good, and the line is fast and efficient.    I would just like to say a few things about Holland America in general. First, you should know that about 99% of the crew is Filipino or Indonesian. This doesn't bother me, but in fact is the best part. These men and women are some of the nicest and most hard working individuals I have come across. Because they are from other countries, some don't speak perfect English. Most do, but there are a few who don't. Simply be patient, and they will do anything for you. But there are some individuals who are impatient and become frustrated with them and yell. This is sad, because these workers want nothing more than to make you happy, and to make your cruise as enjoyable as possible. Just give them a chance.    Also, you should know that most of the patrons of HAL are older, and since this cruise line is a little more upper class than other, there tends to be more upper class individuals. I don't have a problem with this, but as you can imagine, there are some stuck up and, dare I say rude, individuals on board. The plus side of this is that the line is quiet and relaxing. The downside is that some people look down on you. Don't let it bother you.Overall, I was extremely happy with this cruise. The only thing that could use improvement is the entertainment. I probably would avoid Samana, but the stops were great and the shore excursions were excellent. As I said, the finest part of HAL is the service, and I have yet to meet a rude employee. Both the Westerdam and the Noordam are beautiful ships, some of the nicest I've seen. I would assume all HAL ships to be like this, and I am eager to investigate that myself. I would recommend Holland America Line and the Noordam to anyone. I hope you will give it a try. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
This was our 6th HAL cruise on our 6th HAL ship. We are in our late 50's and early 60's and cruise to relax and get away from it all. We were in a Veranda cabin on the Veranda deck mid ship. I will not cover the ports of call. ... Read More
This was our 6th HAL cruise on our 6th HAL ship. We are in our late 50's and early 60's and cruise to relax and get away from it all. We were in a Veranda cabin on the Veranda deck mid ship. I will not cover the ports of call. Embarkation - we left our hotel in Ft Lauderdale at 11:10 AM and were in the Lido having lunch by 11:50, so embarkation was a breeze. Cabin - our cabin was smaller than the Veranda Cabins on the S & R class ships we have sailed on but was more than adequate. There was plenty of storage and I like the idea of the cabinets over the sofa they came in handy for storing our purchases and snorkeling gear. Our stewards were outstanding, we asked them to ensure that our ice bucket was always full and they kept it full and added a second bucket for the last 5 days. We really like how comfortable the beds are, HAL has to have the best beds of all the cruise lines. Dining - We had traditional first seating. We were at a table for 8 but the most there ever was at the table was 6. Our table mates were from Washington and Tennessee and we very much enjoyed their company. We did eat one night in the Canaletto and it was superb. All the waiters and asst waiters along with the wine stewards were very friendly and always had a smile for us. This attitude contributed to a memorable experience. As always the food was outstanding. We actually had Lobster two different nights. We at lunch in the Lido on most days and found it was very good. The only comment about the Lido is about rude passengers - picking up food with their hands and not the utensils and jumping to the head of the line because they did not want to wait a couple of extra minutes - what's the hurry your on vacation. Entertainment - we did not attend many of the shows but the ones we did see were good. The quality of the entertainers has improved, however I miss the Pilipino Bands that use to play in the Ocean Bar. We include the Casino under entertainment and the staff was very friendly and outgoing even if you weren't playing the games. The string quartet was good and we liked listening to them after dinner. Ships Crew - the crew was friendly and willing to assist in any way that they could. The Captain (John Scott) and Hotel Manager (Mark Pell?) were great we talked to them on several occasions and they were more than willing to answer our questions. Mike C the Cruise Director was one of the best we have encountered in quite awhile, he also was available and answered questions about the ship and cruise. Disembarkation - This is were the only real hic-up of the cruise came, silent disembarkation the problem was that the baggage was not ready until 20 minutes after the times stated so the gangway area was crowded with people trying to get off. Overall this was an excellent cruise and we really enjoyed ourselves. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
My family chose to sail to the Carribean over spring break this year, and we were pleased that the Noordam fit our plans. I traveled with my mom, dad, aunt, and uncle (all in early 60's), my younger sister and her boyfriend (late ... Read More
My family chose to sail to the Carribean over spring break this year, and we were pleased that the Noordam fit our plans. I traveled with my mom, dad, aunt, and uncle (all in early 60's), my younger sister and her boyfriend (late 20's), and my eight-year-old niece. Sadly, my DH could not come since he was teaching that week. All of us except for said boyfriend and niece had previously sailed on the Noordam in 2007 (though not all at the same time)and we all had very fond memories of the ship. At that time she sailed from New York City, which we loved as we live in North Jersey, but this time we flew to Fort Lauderdale to set sail. We went down to Florida the day before, and stayed at the Hyatt Regency. The hotel itself had an old feel even though it was probably renovated fairly recently. Unfortunately it was not within walking distance to any stores, and restaurant options were few. However, it was within walking distance to a Catholic Church which was good as we departed on Easter Sunday. When some of us traveled out of FLL last year on the Eurodam,embarkation had been swift and easy. This trip we were leading from a different pier, and it took quite a bit longer to get on board. However it was still much better than when we left out of NYC. I'd say we were probably on board by 12pm. We headed to the Lido Deck for lunch, and we were allowed into our cabins not too much later. I was surprised when our luggage showed up in our cabin very quickly, and we were able to unpack completely before the muster drill. We were in a VE Veranda on Deck 5. At first my mother was disappointed to see that the lifeboats were directly below our balcony obscuring the view down to the water. However as the cruise went on, we seemed to notice the lifeboats less and less. Our room was a triple, as I shared the cabin with my parents. The pull-out sofa bed left alittle to be desired in way of comfort, but I slept well on it. It was a pain in the morning, though, as my dad is an early riser and the sofa bed blocked the door to the balcony when it was open. My dad would have to wake me up and send me over to the queen bed so he could sit outside in the early morning peace and quiet. We chose the early fixed seating in the Vista Dining Room. This was a first for me as I have always done late dining, and at first it felt much too early to be dining, however I did grow to like the early seating as it gave us plenty of time for shows and such after dinner. Food was ok...not nearly as good as we all remembered from our first sail on the Noordam. I am a vegetarian who eats fish, so I usually have no problem find options on the menu. Not this time, however. I did not care for the taste of the fish dishes, and I felt the fish was not as fresh as I've come to expect. Most nights I left the table having eaten very little of my entree. I did review the vegetarian menu, but felt it was very uninspired. On one night I was so unimpressed with the dinner options that I ordered the mac and cheese off of the kid's menu (and it was quite delicious!) My meat-eating family members were more satisfied but also felt like the variety and quality of the entrees in particular were wanting. However, it comes as no surprise to us that the dining room staff was excellent. They absolutely go out of their way to see you satisfied and are amazingly pleasant and happy despite the long hours of their days. As far as alternatives to the MDR, I ate in the Lido a few times but was in general underwhelmed by the options there as well. The Terrace Grill does serve a good veggie burger, but you have to wait forever for them to cook one as they only do it upon request. As I mentioned, we did seem to have more time for the evening entertainment with the early dinner option. I got to see some more of the things I've missed by choosing the late seating, such as the Marriage Game (very funny) and the Noordam Superstar--a take-off on American Idol. Here I must pause and strongly encourage people to get into this event, whether as a singer or just an audience member. It was hysterical! I absolutely consider this to be one of the highlights of the cruise. We had a fantastic cruise directer (Mike Connaghan) and a very talented comedian (Kevin Jordan--who had us in tears laughing) on the judging panel and I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. As for the other entertainment, well, let's say the Noordam Singers and Dancers try very hard. I know I'd have a hard time dancing on a floor that rocks around on the sea. Let's leave it at that. I cannot comment on shore excursions as I chose to spend this cruise on board reading and relaxing on port days. My family had some mixed feelings about their excursions--all booked thru Holland America. It didn't help that it rained every day. They were big fans of Megan's Bay in St. Thomas. As I mentioned, my 8 year-old niece sailed with us, so we did become quite familiar with Club HAL. She absolutely loved it. She spent as much time there as she could, and she came home with a number of phone numbers and email addresses from friends she made on board. It wasn't until after the cruise that my niece admitted to some unpleasant facts about the staff of Club HAL. Nothing serious but it sounds like they overstepped their bounds a bit with their discipline with the kids. As an example, if they were talking and the staff wanted them to be quiet, they were forced to clap their hands for minutes at a time with their arms in the air, enough so that my niece's arms were sore a the end of the cruise. Making kids be quiet on vacation? They weren't in school, and these girls were not teachers. However, despite this my niece would not give up her time with her new friends. In closing, a few words on the Noordam herself. The past few years have started to add up for her. The first time we all sailed her it was our first cruise ever. We were absolutely thrilled with her. Everything was spotless and new, and it exceeded our expectations. I have since sailed on the Eurodam and on the Island Princess, and I would still call the Noordam my favorite. The Eurodam is lovely but somehow much less intimate. I love that the Explorations Cafe is still on Deck 3, not in the Crow's nest. Her age is beginning to show--worn spots in the carpets, some mold on the shower curtain--but overall nothing terrible. It was like coming home to an old friend. I would love to sail the Noordam again, but maybe on a non-Carribean itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Holland America ms Noordam Southern Caribbean April 4-14, 2010 This was the 27th cruise for Jim and I, having cruised on Seawind, RCI x 5, Celebrity, NCL, Princess, Carnival, and HAL's Westerdam x 2 (old), Noordam (old), Zaandam, ... Read More
Holland America ms Noordam Southern Caribbean April 4-14, 2010 This was the 27th cruise for Jim and I, having cruised on Seawind, RCI x 5, Celebrity, NCL, Princess, Carnival, and HAL's Westerdam x 2 (old), Noordam (old), Zaandam, Maasdam, and our beloved Zuiderdam x 11. We are in our 60s and for us our destination is the ship itself. Many times we say we'll leave the ship to explore a new port, but we often don't. We generally eat, sleep, eat, gamble, sleep, eat, gamble, repeat. This adequately describes our Noordam cruise, as we did not leave the ship. Avoiding the stress of missed connections when flying in on Embarkation Day, we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale a day before and stayed at the Hilton Marina on 17th. We had a nice stay last year, but this year we found it cold and impersonal. They have changed the check-in procedure so that more people get tips. Now after you tip your driver, you tip someone to take your bags to another porter who gets a tip to take them to your room. We had a mini-suite with a view of the Marina and pool from the balcony. The access door lock was broken, and after several attempts to fix it, the Manager offered us drink coupons to enjoy while Maintenance did some noisy work. We don't drink, so we had some fruit juice and gave the other coupons away to someone who could actually enjoy them. We asked for a different room, but apparently the hotel was full, and this was the best they could do. I booked a smoking room, but at check-in they said it was a smoke-free hotel, but would send an ashtray to our room. Actually, we asked FOUR different people for an ashtray and got four promises, but no ashtray. We had to appropriate one from the pool area. Although the suite had a lovely spa shower, what we needed was a soak, and we're not hot-tub people, so this was a drawback. In the morning we splurged for the Sunday Buffet, which was the highlight of our stay. After two more unnecessary tips, we were outta there, never to return. Embarkation was a breeze! We arrived at Pier 19 at about 12:30, seeing maybe 300 cruisers in the serpentine line to check in. We proceeded to the Suite Line for our Stateroom Keycard and Deck Plans, and 15 minutes later we were aboard the Noordam. We went straight to the Neptune Lounge and had some snacks before making our way to our cabin. Located just forward of the aft elevators, Suite 7085 on the Rotterdam Deck was a huge (510 total square feet); a generous room, spacious veranda with two chairs and ottomans and a little dining table and 4 small chairs... plenty for two. The bathroom had a Jacuzzi tub, separate shower and double sink with two corner medicine cabinets and storage shelf below. A variety of Elemis products was provided, and refilled daily as we used or stashed them. There was also an umbrella, laundry basket (service is free in full suites) and 2 fluffy cotton robes and slippers. The dressing room had a built-in dressing table with 3 drawers, hair dryer and lighted magnifying makeup mirror (1X/5X), 3 closets with mirrored doors and a safe (3 more closets are in the hall by the door). In the sitting area were a large couch, two occasional chairs and coffee table, desk with flat screen TV, cooler with loaded minibar and CD/DVD player, binoculars, 2 telephones with voice mail and wake-up service, and a wall of mirrors behind the bed, making the room look much larger. True to HAL's Signature of Excellence program, the bedding and linens are undeniably top of the line! This explained why we slept so much! Among the usual Daily Program (tear-offs are back!), gift cards, invitations and brochures we found a bottle of Fre Champagne and a beautiful arrangement of roses from the Hotel Manager, Mark Pells. Later in the cruise, as the roses began to nod a little (you can't water them with the desalinated water), they were replaced with an even more beautiful arrangement of roses and lilies. Our luggage began to arrive shortly after we did, and we were nearly unpacked by the time the safety drill began. HAL has thankfully switched over to a non-lifejacket drill, eliminating the safety hazard from people dragging the jacket straps up and down the stairs. During the drill there is a detailed demonstration of how to wear the jacket, and a similar demo is run on TV throughout the cruise. After the drill I donned my ZuiderPrincess crown and made the rounds of the various bars in search of my CruiseCritic group. That evening we attended a cocktail party in the Neptune Lounge where we met Captain John Scott, Hotel Manager Mark Pells, and other officers and staff. We enjoyed lovely hors d'oeuvres and juice (champagne for others) and wandered down to the Vista Dining Room for our first of many dinners. We were confirmed for As You Wish dining, but were assigned a late seating, upper level table for six by an aft window. The first night we were the only diners, so we invited a couple who were also sitting alone at a big table to join us. Frank and Marilyn from Texas were a delightful couple who shared our love of cruising and general laid-back cruising style. As no one else ever showed up at our table, and except for occasional trips to the Pinnacle, Frank and Marilyn became our permanent table mates. We found the service to be excellent and the food very good. I wonder, though, with so many cruisers complaining they could not get traditional seating, why were there so many empty - completely empty - tables? For the entire cruise? The Lido Bistro is the place we eat breakfast and lunch, and I must rave about the food selections! For breakfast try the made-to-order omelets or various types of Eggs Benedict, waffles, hot meats, Lox 'n' Bagels and so much more. For lunch there are many choices between salads, sandwiches, hot dishes, Asian and pizza & pasta. We also tried the burgers, hot dogs and tacos at the Terrace Grill, which were just OK. We did try the Lido Bistro for dinner one night. We arrived 15 minutes before closing, and had to get all of our courses at one time. By the time we got to the main course, it was cold. If we eat there again, it will be early enough to be served properly. Canaletto is a new dining venue for HAL... a small area of the Lido accommodates 40-50 diners and offers Italian cuisine. There is no surcharge for this dinner, but reservations are strongly suggested. We purchased a 10-day pass to the Thermal Suite and HydroPool, $199 for both of us. We should have just bought daily passes, because we only used it twice. Jim bought a 10-20-30 discount package and had two massages (Nora), but when it came time for his facial he wasn't feeling well, so they let me take his facial (Monique) at the 30% discount. After I told her what Elemis products I already use, and the facial was finished, my Esthetist kindly calculated how much I needed to spend to treat my face properly for the next six months. I thought $1,834 would almost pay for a 7-night cruise, so I declined, buying only one cream which I was running out of anyway. A few days later, as I desperately needed a haircut, Salon Manager Milica (from Serbia) created a masterpiece. Much like her sister Zuidy, the Noordam is really quite comfortable and well maintained. While the deck plans are essentially the same, there are a few exceptions. The Explorations Cafe is still located on deck 3, and the Oak Room is still intact near the Crow's Nest. As mentioned earlier, our daily activities focused on rest and relaxation, but there was plenty to do! Night Life - Music, whether the dancing or listening sort, was offered in the Explorer's Lounge (Adagio Strings), Crow's Nest (Gary T'To, Kat & the HALCats), Northern Lights Nightclub (DJ Troy), Ocean Bar (The Neptunes), and the Piano Bar (Lee Strubeck). Main Showroom - CD Mike Connachan hosted a number of stage productions nicely performed by the Noordam Singers & Dancers; "Opening Night", "If Walls Could Rock", "Ballroom Blitz", "Simply Broadway", and "That's Vegas". Sax Sensation Craig Richard, comedians Mark Eddie and Kevin Jordan, and vocalist Tony Cherry not only performed individually, but reprized their acts on the final evening. Movies - The Queen's Lounge offered (complete with complimentary popcorn) "Up in the Air", "The Blind Side", "All About Steve", "The Young Victoria", "Old Dogs", "The Spy Next Door", Sherlock Holmes", "Nine", Pirate Radio" and in the Vista Lounge, "Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus". Casino - I love the energy of the casino... the smoke, noise, shuffling of cards, cheering when the dealer says, "Winner, winner - chicken dinner!" One thing I miss is the sound of coins being released into a paper tub. Now that HAL is making the transition to electronic everything, some of the room's cachet is gone. Even the poker table is electronic, and has been banished to a dark corner of the Sports Bar... so sad. The Casino seemed to be underutilized until the evening show let out. Daytime found few players and many tables closed. They did, however, offer the usual tournament fare; Texas Hold'Em, Blackjack, Slots, and had a festive Caribbean Night where they provided prizes. Shopping - The Signature Shops offered a reasonable variety of gift items, cruise wear and logo items, cigarettes, alcohol and cosmetics. They offered the usual Liquor Tasting, Watch Extravaganza, $10 Deck Sale, Swarovski Crystal, Taste of the Caribbean (rum and rum cakes), Venetian and Roman glass in sterling silver jewelry, Rock Candy (custom designed glass and leather jewelry), World Amber Event (including a 'spot the fake' contest), Caribbean Topaz Raffle, Watch Sets, Sea Glass ornaments, and the famous Deck Sale. Art Auction - This has thankfully been taken over by British American Auctions, who quietly hold their auctions without inundating passengers with fliers and announcements. I haven't talked to anyone who may have attended, so we'll have to see what other reviewers say about that. Greenhouse Spa - A great variety of indulgences and therapies are offered by Steiner, and the Salon offers services for hair (Salon Manager Milica is a true artiste!), nails and waxing. For $199 we bought a couple's pass to the HydroPool and Thermal Suite, but didn't use it enough. The HydroPool has the typical Jacuzzi jets, only much more powerful, and a metal kind of rack that you can lie on and the whole thing vibrates... so relaxing! In the Thermal Suite, I head for the Eucalyptus Steam, which really clears your head while it forces all those nasty 'toxins' out of your body. Follow that with a nap on the heated tile chaises and you're in heaven. Culinary Arts Center - This is the primary function of the Queen's Lounge, and I must say it's about time they found something outstanding for this formerly nearly vacant venue. You'll find lots of demonstrations (some of them hands-on) of food preparation and serving (including some items from the Pinnacle Grill), wine tasting, mixology, napkin folding, flower arranging, and fun stuff like cooking trivia and a Celebrity Cook-Off... there's something new every day. Digital Workshop - New to HAL, this program will take you through your digital photography adventure from taking the actual photo to editing, enhancing, emailing, posting it on the web or burning a disk. Considering Jim and I didn't DO anything, this ten days on the Noordam was a wonderful experience. We found the officers (particularly Hotel Manager Mark Pells and Captain John Scott), staff (especially Cruise Director Mike Connachan and his lovely wife, Future Cruise Consultant Leah) and Beverage Manager Hans Becker, who meticulously coordinated our CruiseCritic Meet 'n' Greet. The public areas were gleaming, and the floral arrangements we found throughout the ship were gorgeous. We found the food and service in the Vista Dining Room to be excellent and enjoyed the comfortable seating and prompt attention to our requests. I'd absolutely recommend the Noordam for anyone desiring a laid-back, relaxing cruise with plenty of adventures as options. Because of their consistency of service and understated luxury, Holland America Line is our cruise line of choice. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
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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