8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We had read the reviews on Noordam prior to travel and a lot were not very complimentary so we went with low expectations. All I can say is that the type of complaint I read previously makes me think those people would not be happy with ... Read More
We had read the reviews on Noordam prior to travel and a lot were not very complimentary so we went with low expectations. All I can say is that the type of complaint I read previously makes me think those people would not be happy with anything. Noordam far exceeded our expectations. We were delighted with practically everything on board. Our stateroom on verandah deck mid ship was roomy, clean, comfortable and well maintained...plenty of storage. Probably the best bed I have ever slept in....so comfortable with fantastic pillows. Loved it. The food in all restaurants, and we tried them all was exceptional. I think for the entire cruise, 13 nights, there was one meal I found not to my taste but that was my choice and I didn’t choose well. But the meal choices were terrific. The ship gives a feel of old world elegance. Some say dated and not modern. I say elegant. The staff on board were amazing. I think if I had to score out of 10 I would give them a 15. The Captains announcements every day became a highlight as we got used to his dry humour and his emphasis on washing hands. The fact his record for the healthiest ship cruising was a testament to his perseverance in keeping us on our toes. It was his final cruise before retirement and the crew gave him a terrific send off......he was obviously well liked and respected. There was plenty to do on board....it was non stop and could keep you occupied 24/7. The entertainment of board was good, in the main especially the Noordam singers and dancers. The ports were OK on this Pacific cruise but wouldn’t rave about them. Arriving into Noumea on a Sunday wasn’t great as nothing open in the town. The three is,ands we visited and accessed by Tender were very scenic. We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise on Noordam and would recommend this ship. Also the embarkation and disembarkation. Is so efficient and quick. Very impressed. Great holiday. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Noordam. Cruise to Pacific Islands On the 15/03/2018. Thirteen days The cruise was from Sydney at the overseas passenger terminal circular quarry Embarkation very very efficient. We receive a very good deal for a ... Read More
Noordam. Cruise to Pacific Islands On the 15/03/2018. Thirteen days The cruise was from Sydney at the overseas passenger terminal circular quarry Embarkation very very efficient. We receive a very good deal for a balcony guarantee cabin. We were assigned a BB cabin on 10004 deck ten. The Position near the Crows Nest lounge and the lido swimming pool was great. The cabin was in very good condition The balcony was small but accommodated two chairs. I had read in Cruise Critic reviews that the ship was rundown and needed a refit. However I have found the ship to be in good condition. I understand the dry docking and refitting has been postponed. The most used and best place on the boat was the Exploration Lounge with Internet ports and a very good library and a coffee shop. I believe that on the other ships of this class the Exploration lounge has been removed and this is intended for the Noordam refit. This would be ridiculous. The food in the lido and the main dining room was very good as was the Italian restaurant at night where service and food was excellent. Any time dining worked well for us. The main disappointment was the entertainment although it did improve a little towards the end of the cruise. The entertainment director seem to be out of his depth It appears there was a lack of staff with only a deputy director. This is poor cost cutting, The Lincoln group and the blues band were very good. They did not compensate for general lack of entertainment. It was never possible to get into the piano bar. It was too crowded. The was a total lack of live bands in various lounges the Crows Nest lounge only seem to be used for the two for one drinks. It was totally dead at night in fact most of the ship seemed to be totally dead and lacking in entrainment. The port lecturer was good and informative. The cast in the shows were very good however the production was poor. The speciality acts were also poor. The movies were out of date and shown in an venue which was totally inadequate for watching a movie. There were only two cooking demonstrations in the same venue in the 13 day cruise. There were only a few trivia sessions and no game shows. No line bands at sail away. No real sail away parties. The entrainment staff seemed to be asleep at the wheel. In reading the blog on the world cruise Amsterdam and other blogs, Holland America seems to completely lost the plot in providing entrainment on the Noordam in Australia It was a very enjoyable cruise despite the lack of entertainment. The the staff and service was excellent. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
Loved this ship. Beautiful suite on the Rotterdam deck, which was huge and luxurious. Scrupulously keen, and the American know hoe to do wonderful service. Plenty of staff for every want and we had two stewards and two concierges. The ... Read More
Loved this ship. Beautiful suite on the Rotterdam deck, which was huge and luxurious. Scrupulously keen, and the American know hoe to do wonderful service. Plenty of staff for every want and we had two stewards and two concierges. The Neptune Lounge for people in Suites was excellent, and just added to the excellent services. Entertainment a bit patchy, and the resident dancers and singers were simply appalling. Guest entertainers were pretty good mostly. Great food very day and the night time dining was exceptional . wasn't that impressed with the Pinnacle Grill even though we could have had breakfast there every day....preferred room service, Trip was a week in various parts of Australia, and then 12 days in New Zealand. Disappointed that our time in Fiordland was reduced and spent longer in Hobart (lovely place, not a lot to do). The only disappointment was the rude, foul mouthed, deeply offensive and downright belligerent Maori Troupe on board. I was amazed that they as staff could use the guest facilities making making it impossible for paying guests to use the facilities... e.g. the spa pools on the aft deck. They lay in there for hours (one was very obese and took most of the space so his fellow troupe members were a bit squeezed in.) They made it quite clear in a foul mouthed tirade that they weren't getting out for anyone......almost if you were white you should humble yourselves before them in view of what they allege their people suffered ( all grossly untrue as I was born and raised in New Zealand, and still consider myself a New Zealander). This was a great disappointment as by and large in NZ the Maori are mostly a lovely people. Other interactions with them were just as unsettling and upsetting. I found myself wondering why there wasn't an Australian Aboriginal Troupe on board. So whilst I enjoy, indeed love, the Holland America ships I think I will avoid the cruise to New Zealand again, because of this Maori "cultural" group. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We choose HAL because we liked the Itinerary, as it was our first cruise to New Zealand and Australia. It was also our first time on HAL. The food on the Noordam was excellent, with a lot of variety, great presentation. We enjoyed all ... Read More
We choose HAL because we liked the Itinerary, as it was our first cruise to New Zealand and Australia. It was also our first time on HAL. The food on the Noordam was excellent, with a lot of variety, great presentation. We enjoyed all food areas the buffet was great, The Pinnacale was fantastic. The ship is an older ship as other reviewers indicated the staff does a great job keeping it clean and looking good...however, it needs to be refurbished. We enjoyed the captain and felt he Had a great sense of humor, was always reminding cruisers to wash there hands and kept safety at the for front! One of our favorite bartendars was Jude and he works up at The Sea Pool Bar, he always has a smile on his face, remembers everyones name and what they like to drink. We found all the staff on the ship to be happy and ready ro assist. Most of the staff has been with HAL for years, which says a lot about the cruise line. We found the entertainment lacking on the ships in compairson to other cruise lines, the casino was very dissapointing with regards to the variety of slot machines. On other cruise lines, we have found a lot to do and activites that go all day and evening...on HAL we were sometimes bored, maybe it is the average age group on the ship? However, we just didnt find alot of activities that appealed to us...the most excitement was either in The Paino Bar or in the BB King Lounge...however, you odnt want to go there for 15 nights straight. We will try HAL again, but would like to be on a newer ship and with more activities. Shore Excurisons are very expensive on HAL so we used outside companies while in port and can highly recomend Viator and Zealanider Tours. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
We enjoyed the whole cruise experience on Noordam -HAL, cruise for 15 days over the Christmas New Year period. It was good value for money compared to other cruise line offerings for the same period. We have cruised with HAL many times and ... Read More
We enjoyed the whole cruise experience on Noordam -HAL, cruise for 15 days over the Christmas New Year period. It was good value for money compared to other cruise line offerings for the same period. We have cruised with HAL many times and are now nearing the achievement of 4 star Mariner status. The ports on this cruise were in some cases a repeat of the 2016-2017 Christmas-new Year cruise. We booked a guarantee balcony cabin and were very happy to be allocated a VA category cabin on deck 5 . The cabin showed damage on the wall presumably from luggage. There is a life boat underneath the balcony which did not obstruct the ocean view from the balcony apart from looking down to the promenade deck. There was noise associated with the lowering of the boat for tender ports.,usually about 7a.m. We ate mostly in the main dining room. The food was good to very good judged from the standard of what we paid.. The Lido is very busy most of the time with a variety of food from international to Asian. The ice cream counter is open all day and serves delicious ice cream and other desserts and cookies.. The standard of service and friendliness of the staff on HAL ships is without equal and this cruise was no exception. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
I am not a complainer and prefer positive feedback. This is a little of both. I can only compare to P. & O. Stateroom, food, staff exceptional. I did not find as much fun as P. & O. lines. The Gala nights were almost not, ... Read More
I am not a complainer and prefer positive feedback. This is a little of both. I can only compare to P. & O. Stateroom, food, staff exceptional. I did not find as much fun as P. & O. lines. The Gala nights were almost not, sure we dressed up but nothing special went on. I missed the buzz of theme nights. Activities were mostly, to me and my two daughters, boring. I mean who goes on a holiday to have lessons in cooking, computer and digital camera. The art was exceptional, the Spa was great albiet very overpriced. Shops were better than P. & O. and the bars were great altho the cocktails I love just did not taste the same as P. & O. We loved our rooms next door to each other and balconies which were opened so we enjoyed going in and out of each others rooms without having to knock. When I was sick it was great my daughters could check on me without me getting out of bed. The Restaurants were wonderful and staff everywhere as I said were exceptional,. Entertainment was mediocre but enjoyable. Summery: Theme nights more fun, activities which are fun rather than chores. Would I go on a Dam again. Not sure, but as an avid cruiser it is possible. I did win a "cruise" but was told that it is not actually a cruise you get whereas when I won one on Aria, myself and friend have a balcony suite for two and ten day cruise, so with P. & O. I did win a full cruise, have not rung yet but will be interested to see exactly what I won with Noordam. Excursions - unfortunately I am physically unable to get into a tender so could only do two shore excursions which I enjoyed immensely. I took a photography package and photographer was wonderful, we have everlasting memories. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
We stayed 3 days in Auckland before embarking after our flight from Manila. The embarkation was easy and smooth. the ship docks in the middle of Auckland, so its easy and very cheap to reach by public transportation. Being members of ... Read More
We stayed 3 days in Auckland before embarking after our flight from Manila. The embarkation was easy and smooth. the ship docks in the middle of Auckland, so its easy and very cheap to reach by public transportation. Being members of the European Union we didn't need any Visa or ETA. in New Zealand. The friendliness of the people of New Zealand and Australia has to be mentioned specially. No arrogance or security phobia by the embarkation in Auckland OR disembarkation in Sydney as experienced in an other big English speaking country! The cleanliness on board and on land is remarkable. On board were many citizen of not English countries.We would like to have a little less US american shows and more other main languages oriented activities, even subtitled! The songs of the entertainment group of the ship were purely sung in us american..even if they are of Italian, German or French origin. . The service in the lido by the Filipino cooks and Indonesian waitresses and waiters is remarkable. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We have cruised HAL before. previously Trans Atlantic and Med with Noordam and Baltics , Scandnavia on Konningsdam, WE loved all before and were prepared to travel long distance from Oz but now figured a cruise close to home would ease ... Read More
We have cruised HAL before. previously Trans Atlantic and Med with Noordam and Baltics , Scandnavia on Konningsdam, WE loved all before and were prepared to travel long distance from Oz but now figured a cruise close to home would ease the travel strain. We took the cruise for the ship/cruise not the destination. Another reason for the cruise was to compare HAL and Princess who we sailed the new Majestic in June. Maybe this review may seem like a comparison of the two....if you want a comparison read on. Firstly the ships are diferent sizes Majestic being almost twice that of Noordam. So embarkation was slower with Majestic but that may have been the fault of immigration/customs as we boarded in Singapore with Noordam boarding in Sydney. Of the 1900 guests on Noordam we were told there were over 1000 from USA , couple of hundred from Canada and only 200-300 from Australia and New Zealand. that really surprised us. With the Noordam being mid to small and Majestic being large there is no real comparisons to be made. you either like big or you like small. Personally we prefer small. Statistics show that both ships are rated 5 stars. Majestic is brand new whereas Noordam is kept in emaculate condition...everything works , everything looks brand new even though she is 11 years old. Maybe some of the chairs show some wear but with people in them all day everyday id be surprised if a chair lasted 12 months. The biggest difference I noted was the attention to detail displayed by the staff. Noordam staff took ownership of any problem whereas Majestic seemed to pass the problem back to the customer. The customer service desk on Noordam was frequently absent of customers whereas on Majestic there were constant lineups of customers wanting something attended to. I would say that on Noordam if there was a problem it was fixed whereas on Majestic it kept re-occurring...that would explain the disparity between the 2 ships. Cleanliness seemed better on Noordam, staff always polishing cleaning etc. I found that for writing this review Majestic has 2.6customer per one staff while Noordam has 2.39. Noordam is better staffed by number and probably better staffed by attitude and training. On the plus side for Noordam Ill also list the food court or buffet...lots better but we used it rarely and then generally breakfast...Noordam has the greatest selection of poached eggs anywhere in the world even on land. Princess has the best bread rolls at sea bar none. Dining room was on a par but Princess deserts win hands down. We did anytime dining both cruises and on both we were able to secure the same table (for two) after the second day and talking with the maitre di. Same good service. bar staff were comparable both great but Noordam drink stewards seem to have more incentive to chase you down....you rarely have to look for someone to get you a drink. Drink packages- I don't get them...cant drink like I did 30 years ago. But I do get the wine packages. Noordam was good value with wine averageing about $27 USD per bottle. If one purchased the bottle separately they were about $35 each. May seem expensive but at $9 per glass and 5 glasses per bottle this saves $10 on a bottle. On our 15 day cruise we purchased about 20 bottles all up so packages can be worthwhile. I remember princess was similar. Entertainment or lack is what let Noordam down. We ate at 7.45pm and there was generally no Band playing for the hour or so before we ate. From 6.30 pm the ship was dead until things started up about 8.00. We attended the late shows (both ships) and entertainment was similar...both good with the same mix of magicions comedians etc etc. Tours excursions were abundant on each ship...my suggestion to others is to do plenty of research before the cruise ....you can sometimes get the same thing for less off the ship. Finally the clientel age was similar with age mainly 55 and above. there seemed less walkers/wheelchairs/walking sticks on Noordam and people seemed to dress up a bit more. I noticed that on most evenings many many ladies wore outfits that would generally be acceptable on a formal night. I like this although I only wear a jacket and bow tie at Gala night. Most men were dressed smart casual. Here is an interesting observation though. On the second night I approached the Maitri di at the door to the dining room at 5.30 pm asking for table reservation. He obliged informing me not to come back with my shorts on...which I would not even consider knowing dining room rules. Maybe he was lifting the dress standard from the gutter where it is on some cruises. Finally...which ship? Noordam wins I think because it appears the cleanest healthiest ship. People appeared to be in better health with no coughing spluttering etc. But Majestic was more fun around dinner times. Its the smaller ship for me especially with what I think was better staff training and attentiveness. I believe Noordam does care . majestic gave me the impression of Oh Well. Next cruise....neither. We have 2 sets of cruises booked. the first back to back for 14 days. The second BTB 21 days.....both different from the Majestic and the Noordam...both sets of cruises are on 3.5 to 4 stars. It will be interesting to see the difference. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Friend had recommended. A last minute decision to take a holiday following long wet winter. Purchased just a month ahead of sailing, online, and overall very pleased with cruise. Very good value. Prices were discounted at this time. Calm ... Read More
Friend had recommended. A last minute decision to take a holiday following long wet winter. Purchased just a month ahead of sailing, online, and overall very pleased with cruise. Very good value. Prices were discounted at this time. Calm seas all the way from Sydney, Tasmania, NZ ports, disembarking Auckland. No rain, all sunshine. Met some lovely interesting passengers, mainly from Canada and USA. Met quite a few repeat HAm repeat cruisers. A few did say they had noticed cutbacks in some areas, particularly theatre entertainment. Excursions are expensive compared to same land prices as is wifi. But, if your tour is late back the ship will wait which did happen once I believe. Do take some of your own coathangers! Major shortage for some reason. Good cabin steward, a very happy crew, good atmosphere. We had a lovely time and would be a repeat passenger but not on main deck because of night noise from carpenters shop? so beware. Saw only less than 10 children during voyage. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We scored a great price on a 15-day HAL cruise from Sydney, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand. Perhaps the price was so affordable because a) November is a less popular travel window (our itinerary included Thanksgiving); and b) the ... Read More
We scored a great price on a 15-day HAL cruise from Sydney, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand. Perhaps the price was so affordable because a) November is a less popular travel window (our itinerary included Thanksgiving); and b) the Noordam is due for a significant refurb very soon, which is much needed because her passenger spaces are outdated and worn. The AC failed in our cabin the last four days of the cruise; they never could fix it though they brought us a fan which make the ventilation almost bearable. Itinerary: The Australia/New Zealand itinerary did not disappoint. Between Sydney and Auckland, we stopped at eight lovely ports, each with its unique charm and scenic/cultural offerings: Melbourne, Hobart, Dunedin, Akaroa, Picton, Wellington, Napier and Tauranga. We would definitely recommend a vacation Down Under. On-Board: As with all cruises, there is no shortage of on-board activities. The Maori cultural ambassadors were great, as were several of the other evening entertainers. Kelly, our on-board EXC tour consultant, was a real asset. She prepped us for upcoming ports of call, giving historical context and tour options to match diverse interests. Her commentary as we sailed into Milford Sound and thru Fiordland Nat'l Park made that part of the cruise all the more interesting. Dining: We dined mostly on the Lido Deck for its convenience and wide variety of choices. We did notice there seemed to be more servers peddling alcohol than clearing tables and bringing water/lemonade. Burgers and Mexican choices at Dive-In by the pool were always good. We ate at only one of the specialty (extra charge) restaurants -- the Italian Canaletto. It was our least favorite meal of the cruise, the food too unusual/bizarre for our taste. I order lasagna (what can go wrong?) and didn't care for it at all. The food and choices in the main dining room were good (we ate there about 5 times), but it takes TWO HOURS to be served dinner. That's just too long for our American lifestyle. Cabin attendants: Our room stewards were okay. We never saw them, and on the rare occasion we made a request, "Green apples in the fruit bowl, please" we got bananas, red apples and unripe pears instead. "Please don't close the curtains unless we are in port", but they always did anyway. I understand they have a heavy workload, which probably grows heavier every year as HAL tries to reduce the number of staff. What is missing: Having cruised with Holland American for a decade, we've seen a number of old "traditions" disappear. The beautiful ice sculptures, chocolate night extravaganzas, and any-time ice cream/dessert bars are gone. I'm sympathetic to the competitive nature of the cruise/hospitality industry and the need to cut corners wherever possible. I enjoy a good cruise experience for a bargain price, so some of these niceties are inevitably trimmed in the process. We will sail with Holland America again! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Heard good things about Holland America and we agree. Food and service was exceptional. Our room with a balcony was very comfortable. Only negatives were that the excursions were pricey, charging for water when going on excursions, and ... Read More
Heard good things about Holland America and we agree. Food and service was exceptional. Our room with a balcony was very comfortable. Only negatives were that the excursions were pricey, charging for water when going on excursions, and charging for very poor internet. The excursions were expensive and thought they could have had a better selection. However, most the stops were very accessible on your own. The major cities were very crowded and involved a lot of waiting. Also, thought their ship announcements were very hard to hear. The ship offered a Windows 10 class which was excellent and was filled most of the time. The instructor was very good and they just needed more space. The ship was exceptionally clean and there was certainly no lack of food at any time. The exceptional service on the ship really made a difference as everyone smiled and made you feel special. Would definitely recommend Holland America. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Noordam 82318 tons 918 cabins Last Drydock 2018 9/28/2017 Room 6090 The Good Our room was in a great location! Only a few rooms aft of the midship elevator. We had two panoramic midship elevators on either side, ... Read More
Noordam 82318 tons 918 cabins Last Drydock 2018 9/28/2017 Room 6090 The Good Our room was in a great location! Only a few rooms aft of the midship elevator. We had two panoramic midship elevators on either side, and also some central midship elevators. We had the pilot boat arrive right under us. We also got to see the Sydney Opera House from our balcony as we arrived into Sydney. On the other hand, we had a crane sitting right outside our window in one of the Fiji stops. Signature Suites come with some nice square footage (280 square feet of room and 100 square feet of balcony). If we’re going to be on a long cruise, we want some elbow room! They’re wide enough that one of us didn’t have to back up if we met at the foot of the bed on the way to the bathroom. For those with mobility problems, this is key. We had a tub/shower with a separate shower and two sinks. The bathroom was also wide enough that one could move past someone standing at the close sink to the other sink. We had a European and American outlet at the desk, and also the vanity. Since we have an international adapter sets for Kindle and iPad, we were able to utilize all the plugs. Great cabin steward! On embarkation day, we give them a written list of preferences to break the ice with them. We about two weeks in, we put him in our top five of a lot of cruises, and later in the cruise we moved him to the top three. We never returned to a dirty room in 38-days. We did leave the “Make Up Room” lock holder when we left for Breakfast and Dinner. Dining - MDR. Another excellent experience. We give the waiter, assistant waiter and boss with a list of preferences to make it easier for them. We had the same team for the entire 38-day voyage. We ate in the MDR. I don’t think we missed an evening. Our assistant waiter served us coffee with HEATED cups! Our waiter managed my allergy seamlessly. He would bring the next day’s menu with the dessert and say “take your time.” Lectures - The lectures San Francisco to Sydney were fabulous. The container lecture was the most interesting lecture of the batch for me. Especially when we got to the Pacific Islands, and saw all container ports. We wished they’d been able to continue the lectures after Sydney. Pinnacle Grill - Lunch - Really great service! We had the same waiter the five or six times we visited. I loved the chocolate dessert with caramel popcorn! Ocean Bar - Great Waitress! Again, one of the top waitresses we’ve had! We met each sea day at the Crow’s Nest for Knitting, Crochet, and Stitching. Our group numbered over 20, and we had a great time sharing stories, suggestions for upcoming ports. (One member planned to do all the Lord of the Rings Shore Excursions.) After Sydney, one of the bartenders visited daily for drink orders. All cargo ports in the Pacific Islands and New Zealand, so no Wifi. All Kiwi (New Zealand citizens) needed a permit to enter their ports. Security entered the bus and checked all ship cards and identification cards. Before we could leave the ship, they played a recording of forbidden items in New Zealand: no food, honey, wood, of any kind, etc. Only commercial bottled water. Once or twice the cruise director told us only unopened bottled water. In Napier they had a band playing in port when we returned from our EXC tour. Bus drivers must take a driving test every year, and we were happy to learn that they must exit the bus and stand next to the door to help tourists if needed. EXC Tours - Each Guide was very knowledgeable and made our tours memorable. . Clean Windows on the Buses. Nice grab bars to help climb those really tall steps to onto the bus. Good lectures by the guides. Great buses with nice long seatbelts in Sydney and Melbourne. Mentioned the super high bus steps (Tasmania’s bus step came up to a couple inches below my knee), to the EXC staff must have mentioned this to the tour groups, because the bus drivers started providing step stools. Also, noticed the bus drivers started driving the buses right up to the gangplank in New Zealand. Fabulous guide in Hobart Wildlife and Waterways. This lady is finishing her PhD in Tanmania History. Best tour guide of the trip! Napier - Sheep Sheering & Scones Mountain Ride! Great guide and great bus. This bus had comfortable seats, a screen at the front showing a live view of the road ahead. With strict food rules in New Zealand, it’s a good idea to book an excursion with a snack or meal included. This guide trained the others to drive up the mountain road. “Ice Cream Sample” was much larger than expected, I think those 4 ounce single servings at our grocery store were smaller! It would have been much better to stagger the two busloads. At the sheep sheering and afternoon tea, since both were at the same location, have one bus doing the tea while the other did the inside part of the sheep sheering, then switch. Very crowded store at the sheep shearing stop. Wellington - Guide’s coffee recommendation was SO true. Very strong coffee but not bitter. We’re so glad he suggested it, but it’s taking a long time to get used to American Coffee. Wellington has some very interesting rules for bus drivers. He pulled down a narrow street, and the cars had to make room for him by either backing up or going over curbs. The Needs Improvement One of the elevators was down for four straight days. Cruise Director did not schedule our Knitting, Crochet and Stitching group in the daily program, but it may not have been his fault. We heard this decision came from corporate. He seemed glad we found each other. At the collector’s cruise lecture, he read word for word from the handout. At the end of the presentation, he declined to answer a question about a possible conflict with a EXC tour and muster drill, and walked back stage. EXC Tours I had sent an email to headquarters about my disappointment with the way they organize the shore excursions, but so far no answer. The tours need to be staggered so only one bus load at a time at each stop. Some of the tours were to crowded, I didn’t want to shop the local stores. With a few exceptions, too rushed, not enough time at each stop, too crowded. Each bus seemed to have something wrong: A/C blowing very warm air, middle bus door didn’t open, etc. When we have a 15-minute stop, and it takes five minutes to load and unload the bus, there’s not much time left for viewing the sights. Cancellation policy now 48 hours. EXC employee worked at the desk and in the Vista Lounge with some type of upper respiratory infection. She tried to announce shore excursions on port days while she had no voice. A few days later, we both came down with upper respiratory infections too. Some EXC tours had meeting times at 11 am, but the Lido opened at 11:30 am. Also, no food stalls just off the ship in port. With strict food rules in New Zealand, I wish they’d have at least a snack on all tours offered. Tauranga - Yes, it goes in the “bad” section. We’re not planning on booking any more EXC tours in Tauranga. Our bus had very uncomfortable seats, no head rests, no seatbelts. Front seats foot area was so narrow, a man next to us couldn’t put his foot all the way down. It had a ramp down the center aisle to a step, and I saw several people fall. Also, the bus had backward facing seats. The tour guide sat in an open seat for a few minutes, then stood back up and spent the rest of the four hour tour standing at the front of the bus. We almost quit the tour at the first stop and took a taxi back to the ship. Did you make the sale? Yes, we got a couple more Future Cruise Deposits Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Firstly, we had an amazing 34 night voyage. The crew and friends we made were the best part of the trip. The dining room, restaurants, shops, bars, casino and all of the staff working in these areas were wonderful and we wouldn't ... Read More
Firstly, we had an amazing 34 night voyage. The crew and friends we made were the best part of the trip. The dining room, restaurants, shops, bars, casino and all of the staff working in these areas were wonderful and we wouldn't change very much at all. Our cabin was excellent, although the Neptune Suite on the Noordam is no better or worse than the Owners Suite on Royal Caribbean ships we have cruised on. The food on HAL was generally better than on RCI The wine list on RCI is better The entertainment was on a par, as was the casino, although the Texas Hold-em was an electronic game not a real dealer. There were a couple of things that we found disappointing. The on-board singers and dancers could have been a lot better. The disembarkation process for suite guests could have been much better. Despite having priority we were still faced with long queues. The ship board activities were almost non-existent. This wasn't such a big issue for a long cruise as we made lots of new friends and found ways to amuse ourselves. I'd be unlikely to take a shorter cruise (2 weeks or less) with HAL. Other than the sail-away party, there were no on-deck activities either during the day or in the evening. America's Test Kitchen was very disappointing. It seemed to be focussed on people who had never cooked before. The nightclub was deserted on every night. I was told they plan to move this when the ship gets refurbished. This will be a good thing. Only BB Kings and the Piano bar had any signs of life after 9pm in the evenings. The Cruise Director and staff only seemed to appear once each day - during the morning Coffee Chat. Not sure what they did for the rest of the day, but we didn't see them. On the whole, we had a great time, and next time we consider a longer cruise we'll definitely look at HAL, though probably not the Noordam. For any cruise up to 3 weeks in length, we won't be looking at Holland America. My wife and I are in our early 50's, so maybe this isn't the cruise line for us yet. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2017
My wife and I spent 42 days aboard the Noordam, a medium size cruiseship of Holland America Line for about 2000 passengers from Sept. 24 to Nov. 6, 2017. This was just trhe right time for us with pleasant temperatures throughout our ... Read More
My wife and I spent 42 days aboard the Noordam, a medium size cruiseship of Holland America Line for about 2000 passengers from Sept. 24 to Nov. 6, 2017. This was just trhe right time for us with pleasant temperatures throughout our cruise. Moderate autumn weather along the Canadian und US West Coast and the first sea days on our way to the Hawaiian islands, getting warmer and more sunny by the day, hot and more trpical from Hawaii to Fidji and New Caledonia and moderate again along the Australian East Coast, Tasmania and New Zealand. The Noordam is an older (built in 2006) but reasonably comfortable cruiseship with average size staterooms, many with balcony. The ship requires major renovation and refurbishing both at the ship level primarily with respect to the air condition and the sewage system as well as the cabins with often old furniture and worn out carpeting. What we particularly liked during our cruise was the first class service of all of the ship`s staff. Everybody who we met exceeded our high expectations. This relates particularly to the very friendly and helpful room stewards as well as the waiters and their assistants in the various restaurants and bars. The quality and selections of the food were generally good at the buffets on deck nine and excellent during dinner in the main dining rooms on decks two and three including lobster and filet mignon at no extra cost on special occasions i. their gala nights of which they had seven during our cruise. Another great service was their laundry service. We were charged US $ 248 for this service for the entire cruise and had all our laundry done within one day. This service was absolutely super and reliable. But there were also issues which we didn`t like i.e the extremely high charge for WiFi (US $ 0,75 per minute!!), no free drinking water in the cabin (roughly US $ 4.50 for 1.5 litres), very steep prices for shore excursions as well as limited time in most ports. While the Noordam offers excellent shore excursions at higher prices there are however plenty of opportunities to book personal and private tours at bargain prices in most ports in particular in New Zealand where we had longer times ashore. All in all we had a fun cruise and enjoyed our time on the Noordam. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose this because it ended in Honolulu, our home. We sailed from Vancouver and stayed at the Pan Pacific which was right on the pier! I highly suggest that hotel if you are sailing from Vancouver. Bags went from hotel room to ... Read More
We chose this because it ended in Honolulu, our home. We sailed from Vancouver and stayed at the Pan Pacific which was right on the pier! I highly suggest that hotel if you are sailing from Vancouver. Bags went from hotel room to stateroom!!! We were on the Oosterdam last October and November in the Mediterranean and many of the employees were on this cruise so it was like home! They remembered us and what we liked! They will also be on in March and April when we do the other part of this itinerary beginning in Sydney and ending in Honolulu. The ship is definitely worn..."tired" is a better word. We were told it was to be dry docked soon but apparently not for another year plus. We were on the Noordam in 2014 and it was old then and has not been upgraded that we could see. We enjoyed the famous daily Happy Hours, buy one get one for $2...it used to be one dollar...but the servings were small! We normally get a bottle of champagne from the company, nothing this trip! We really felt unappreciated this time from the company. My main complaint was the On Deck For A Cause. I did it last October and it was wonderful. This year we all met before the walk and were offered "refreshments and fellowship" after the walk. After two rounds on the deck (less than a mile) most people had dropped out. I ran and walked and when I finished 3+ miles (it was a 5K) I went in and found everything cleaned up and the place empty! I had to go to a bar downstairs to get a drink of water. Others who finished after me were also surprised. We had been abandoned and only an hour out! What a slap in the face for those of us who did the entre walk! Again, it seemed as tho we were very unappreciated by the higher ups! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I traveled with my husband and 3 year old daughter on this 4 day re-positioning cruise. We wanted to try a short cruise with my daughter to see how she liked it before booking something longer. Embarkation went well. When I booked over ... Read More
I traveled with my husband and 3 year old daughter on this 4 day re-positioning cruise. We wanted to try a short cruise with my daughter to see how she liked it before booking something longer. Embarkation went well. When I booked over the phone I asked the CSR what time we should be there and he said between noon and 2:30 as the cruise departed at 4pm. We arrived at 1:30pm and there was a giant line up to get on. If I had it to do again, I would have arrived earlier. The ship itself is well maintained. In the rooms and pool areas I would say it's due for a face-lift. We only ate in the Lido buffet, burger & taco bar and room service, no formal sit down dining. The food was great, it would recommend it to everyone. The servers were awesome. We purchased the Signature drink package and that saved us a lot of money. I would recommend that to anyone who wants to have some casual drinks throughout the day. My daughter loved the entire experience. She mostly wanted to hang out in the pool. We tried to take her to the kids club but she wasn't interested. The staff at the kids club was disorganized when we were there and I wasn't impressed. We would do this cruise again because it's close to home for us, cheap and easy to fly back from. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I chose this cruise because after visiting the interior of Alaska and going to Skagway, I wanted to experience the Southeast and the Inside Passage. My primary criterion for the cruise was to visit to Glacier Bay on a one-way cruise. HAL ... Read More
I chose this cruise because after visiting the interior of Alaska and going to Skagway, I wanted to experience the Southeast and the Inside Passage. My primary criterion for the cruise was to visit to Glacier Bay on a one-way cruise. HAL met those requirements. That said, I was a little disappointed in parts of the cruise, especially the Lido buffet. The food was ok, but the started closing half of the lines with only half of the open time gone. Combining that with the fact that you could not serve yourself but had to be served by the staff, it created some longer-than-expected waits. I had read that the size of the servings was poor, but I did not find that to be the case. If I ever wanted more, all I had to do was ask. I actually had to stop them more from giving too much more often than asking for more. Now to the low-light of the cruise: The Pinnacle Grill. We had to take an 8:00 reservation on the last night of the cruise which might have influenced the service, but it was awful. It wasn't the wait staff; it was the kitchen. They couldn't get the food out in a reasonable time. It took about 20 minutes to get our entree after finishing the appetizer and then 15 minutes after that to get the dessert course. We ordered steak for one and halibut for the other and shared the two. The steak was ordered medium. It came out medium rare in places and very rare (almost raw) in others. We didn't dare send it back; we would have been there another two hours. The halibut I had was not even hot, just room temperature, and was no better than what I've had at other restaurants. All in all, I would recommend that you not waste your money on The Pinnacle. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
To seem Denali after missing it 19 years ago. It was well worth the wait. Train trip from Anchorage was stunning. Experience, overall, was enjoyable. Noordam shows its age but service was excellent along with destinations. Ship's ... Read More
To seem Denali after missing it 19 years ago. It was well worth the wait. Train trip from Anchorage was stunning. Experience, overall, was enjoyable. Noordam shows its age but service was excellent along with destinations. Ship's officers were first class. Shows were disappointing. Comedian was best by far. Tours tended to be very pricey. Lido Deck food could have been better. Not too many choices, way too crowded. But not having gym open after 9 p.m. was something I still can't get over. Nobody's going to walk off with a treadmill. Individual efforts by staff were appreciated, but having to have a cabin drain unclogged on first night (11:30 p.m.) after a 10-hour bus ride and a 45-minute check-in process were upsetting, but drain issue was resolved that night. Onboard shops could offer more selection. Getting off in Vancouver was the best organized of any cruise line we've traveled. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose this cruise because of the overall itinerary (triple Denali followed by 7 day Southbound cruise). Overall we had a wonderful vacation but there were reservations. 1. Denali was a bit of a let down - our booking was supposed to ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the overall itinerary (triple Denali followed by 7 day Southbound cruise). Overall we had a wonderful vacation but there were reservations. 1. Denali was a bit of a let down - our booking was supposed to include a 7 hour Wilderness Tundra tour with a snack included but just days before we flew out we received an email saying this had been changed to a 4 hour Natural History tour with no snack. The revised tour covered a much smaller part of the park & didn't go to the parts where most of the wildlife was likely to be. We had to start at 6AM and it didn't get light until after 7 so the first hour was in darkness. We did see 3 bull mooses but the first was while it was still dark, the second would have been good except the driver kept moving the bus so we were unable to get any good photos and the third we didn't stop for because of the amount of cars around it (apparently our trip was during the lottery period when cars are admitted to drive throughout the park. We were given strict instructions not to even put an elbow out of the window so as not to disrupt the wildlife but apparently this didn't apply to the car occupants who were out of their cars walking around in the open) 2. Our cabin was right next to an elevator which would not have been a problem if it wasn't for the 'bing bong' every time it stopped on our deck - even this would have been OK if they had only turned it down overnight! 3. Sleep was further disturbed by the air conditioning unit immediately above our bed! We tried to get this turned off (you really don't need it in Alaska especially overnight) but this was also found to be impossible 4. After a couple of days we checked our statement to find $13.50 per person was being added as a 'management charge'. We were under the impression that service etc was included but apparently not so this was a large & unexpected payment. 5. On around the 5th day we had a 'mini bar' item added to our account which we hadn't used. Strangely so did other cabins and we never did manage to get it explained or removed! 6. We celebrated our Silver wedding anniversary on board & I bought the 'Happy Anniversary' package as a surprise for my wife. Generally this went well but part of this was supposed to be a photo. I asked the front desk about this & was told I could go to the studio & get a photo taken so went to them after a few days to make arrangements. There I was told I had to use one of the 'candid' ones taken during the week & it was suggested we had one done during the Gala evening. We duly had this done then went to collect the next day only to be told the one we had posed for wasn't one of the 'candid' ones so we couldn't use that (apparently the 'candid' ones are taken at the table although this was never offered). We ended up having to pay an extra $20 to get one we were happy with. Overall the staff were superb & we were very happy but it is often the little quibbles & unexpected extra charges which are remembered. Holland America could do well to copy some of their rivals who include service charges & honour their commitments. We were particularly pleased with the dining staff in the Vista & Pinnacle restaurants who looked after us magnificently - especially on our anniversary. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We chose this cruise because the starting price for a two week cruise was less than a one week cruise. By the time it all added up, it was $1700 Canadian dollars for the two weeks....about $14,000 US for two weeks Vancouver to Alaska ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the starting price for a two week cruise was less than a one week cruise. By the time it all added up, it was $1700 Canadian dollars for the two weeks....about $14,000 US for two weeks Vancouver to Alaska round trip. I really liked that they have a lot of choice in Vegetarian food. Even the Kosher menu had 6 vegetarian main courses. The Lido had a lot of vegetarian choices also. My favourite was the portobello mushroom burger with edam and cheddar cheese and avocado. It took a couple of days for them to get up to speed, we thought. The naturalist who was advertised to be on deck at a certain time, apparently never got on board the ship and it was never announced. As well, the games were not out where they were supposed to be and although guest services said they would send someone to bring them out, that person never arrived. But after these glitches, things were pretty great. The thing that was missing was the entertainment that is so much fun on a Princess Cruise. Although we loved the violin/piano duo (Adagio), we didn't enjoy the B.B. King Blues Band, or the jazz quartet - neither of them seeming that authentic. We would have liked more game show nights. Also there was too much piped in music in the halls, library and crow's nest. The comedian was excellent, and it is not easy to do such a clean show. We loved getting on and off in Vancouver - very convenient. So...all-in-all...great food, wish there was more entertainment. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
NOORDAM REVIEW We recently returned from a 14 day cruise to Alaska on the Noordam, return to Vancouver. Unfortunately the weather was poor throughout most of the cruise, however we have done this cruise several times before so our ... Read More
NOORDAM REVIEW We recently returned from a 14 day cruise to Alaska on the Noordam, return to Vancouver. Unfortunately the weather was poor throughout most of the cruise, however we have done this cruise several times before so our focus was more the ship than the destination. We sailed on the Noordam two years ago for a 39 day trip so it was interesting to see what, if anything was different. EMBARKATION We were asked to board around 2 p.m. to allow the crew to do extra cleaning due to several cases of Noro on the previous cruise. Embarkation was much slower than we have previously experienced, due I am sure to this later time frame. We did use the Nexus/Global entry line which was well marked but did not get through any faster than the regular line (only one customs officer in theNexus lane). CLEANLINESS AND SHIP CONDITION Obviously the ship was spotless due to Noro concerns, however we sailed this ship two years ago and it was spotless then too. The ship seems to be undergoing constant upkeep, everything is shiny and with the exception of some furniture the ship is in good condition. FOOD AND SERVICE The food in the dining room was excellent, particularly the pasta dishes. I don't eat much meat, but DH was quite satisfied. One exception was the wild salmon which was poor...my suggestion is that if you can't find or properly cook good salmon in Alaska you shouldn't put it on the menu. The Lido buffet however was big disappointment...limited selection, poorly prepared and poorly served. I did like the set up of the salad bar, however. After a day or so, we limited meals to the dining room (very good food but service at times was a bit slow). Pinnacle grill was also disappointing, however we were there for lunch, not dinner so can't give a full review. The chicken dish was horrible and we were served on chipped dinnerware. Wait staff were not very friendly and the coffee was cold. Speaking of coffee .... In general it was weak, often cold and of poor quality. If you love your coffee, this might be a real negative. We were glad we had brought some Starbucks instant along. Canaletto was very good and well worth the extra fee. STATEROOM No complaints here, especially since we were upgraded from an inside to outside cabin at no extra cost. The stewards did a fabulous job of maintenance and the location midship on deck four was so convenient. The cabin includes a DVD player and you can borrow films from the front desk. Toiletries such as Elemis shampoo, conditioner, soap and body wash were provided. AC worked perfectly and there is plenty of storage room. ENTERTAINMENT Production shows were fairly good, but the singers and dancers were a bit spotty in their performances. There were a few "enrichment" seminars but this trip paled in comparison to what was offered on our previous trip to Australia/New Zealand on the Noordam two years ago. Hopefully this is not a new policy on board to limit these programs. I hesitate to review the other entertainment...I.e. The magician and the comedian, because I really dislike magician/mime/acrobatic acts which seem to be a mainstay of cruise ships. A personal opinion, maybe not shared by others. SPA We didn't use the spa so can't comment. We did use the gym once, but preferred to walk the deck for our exercise. The gym is large and well equipped but wasn't used much. In general we enjoyed this cruise, we were looking for a relaxing, no agenda trip which focused on the ship and our disappointments were minor and we worked around them. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
Wechose this cruise for the ports and the schedule. turned out to be a lovely week with perfect weather. Captain was excellent at engaging the passengers and helping spot wildlife on shore, etc., to maximize the experience. With an ... Read More
Wechose this cruise for the ports and the schedule. turned out to be a lovely week with perfect weather. Captain was excellent at engaging the passengers and helping spot wildlife on shore, etc., to maximize the experience. With an outbreak of norovirus, every crew member had to help with hand sanitizing at meals, and all activities. The food was plentiful if not inspired, at least in the Lido.....always found something, but it definitely had the look and taste of mass-produced meals. Food and service in the specialty restaurants and main dining room was excellent. Stateroom always clean and service with a smile. Primary complaint was the constant up-selling of everything - from beverages to spa services. Atone point, we tried to purchase a cup of coffee in the Crow's Nest, where they offered a coffee with alcohol in it, but refused to simply sell us a cup of coffee (even though we offered to pay the full price!--we were told we had to go down 7 decks to get it).....a few requests such as that received 'no' and an answer....something that another cruise line we enjoyed did not say. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
Cruise back to Alaska with friends. This trip was a much better experience than our 2006 August trip mainly due to the beautiful weather this time. Activities on board the ship are limited so we had a much better experience traveling with ... Read More
Cruise back to Alaska with friends. This trip was a much better experience than our 2006 August trip mainly due to the beautiful weather this time. Activities on board the ship are limited so we had a much better experience traveling with friends. Getting on an off this ship was a breeze. The only reason I didn't show 5 stars was the dining and the fact that the ship is showing too much wear. We were in cabin 4066 exterior fully obstructed view, but knew that going in. We wanted the larger cabin. The cabin offered more room at a better price. Staff was great. We did only one tour with the ship and purchased others on land once we arrived in port. This was our 2nd trip to Alaska and we were very excited as we saw so many things that were not even visible on our previous trip do to clouds covering the tops of the mountains. We also had lower expectations of this trip based on out prior experience, so very pleased with the 2nd try. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
We were looking for a last minute deal either to or from our home port of Vancouver and this came up. We had never cruised Holland America before and thought that this would be a good chance to try it out. Unfortunately, the week before we ... Read More
We were looking for a last minute deal either to or from our home port of Vancouver and this came up. We had never cruised Holland America before and thought that this would be a good chance to try it out. Unfortunately, the week before we got notice that our embarkation would be delayed as there had been a Norwalk outbreak. That sort of set the tone as we had 72 hours of heightened precautions followed by 24 hours of normal circumstances and the remainder of the trip on precautions again. Of course the precautions affected the cruise experience, but the worst thing was the lack of staff, preparation and organization of the ship's crew in responding to the unfortunate circumstances. We had done an Alaskan cruise before, so we skipped the excursions this time and tried to focus on the scenery and relaxation. We were rewarded with extraordinarily good weather and what seemed to be unexpectedly good food. Overall, a very good cruise, but HA could have done much better in dealing with the Norwalk. They said that is started and spread from the children and we wondered if Norwalk is more common on ships with lots of children or maybe that outbreaks spread faster... Ship was well appointed and being well taken care of. Carpets on stairs were being replaced during the cruise. No obvious signs of neglect. Some of the exercise equipment wasn't working perfectly, but that is pretty normal for any fitness facility. The cabin was one of the nicest we have been in. Larger that expected for the class and in good condition. Lots of storage although strangely, some of the spaces were locked and therefore not usable by passengers. Dining was very good, at least the food was. Desserts a bit less than the rest. Service was variable with two occasions when the food took much longer than usual. Entertainment was worse than average, but passable. One exception was a violin/piano duet that always had an audience for their excellent offerings. Although a partnership with BBC Earth was heavily advertised, there were a few days when there really were no enrichment activities from this reputable source. More promise than delivery. There were less than the usual number of games and trivia (one was advertised, but no staff showed up). Not a big problem for us, but some must have been disappointed. We did appreciate the general lack of hard sell for excursions, drink packages and internet. It was noticeably less than average and appreciated. The room was always tidy and towels replaced regularly, although the towel "art" was almost comical in its patheticness. A waste of time as far as we are concerned anyway, but just don't bother if you can't do it properly. Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
CABIN 10019 -- Small balcony (room for two angled chairs and a miniature cocktail table). Room itself was very small, but there was plenty of storage space for two people, including two spacious drawers under the bed we didn't even ... Read More
CABIN 10019 -- Small balcony (room for two angled chairs and a miniature cocktail table). Room itself was very small, but there was plenty of storage space for two people, including two spacious drawers under the bed we didn't even need to use. Likewise, all of our luggage fit neatly under the bed after we unpacked. In spite of the cozy room, I didn't feel closed in. I have serious claustrophobia and had no problem with the room or the bathroom facility at all. Noordam is a beautiful ship that is showing some signs of wear (it was commissioned in 2006), but is well maintained by an attentive and friendly staff. At meals and in passageways, crew members smiled and greeted passengers without fail. Only complaint about staff is that many do not speak English well and there was some culture/language communication problems at times. Food was above average in the dining room and beyond description in the Pinnacle Grill (more on that later). Only one dining room evening meal was below expectations of your neighborhood Denney's. Most were far better with a variety of gourmet offerings for each course. Salmon was on menu every night but final night, which was trout. Second gala night we had "surf and turf" which was a very generous sized fillet Mignon and a lobster tail, perfectly prepared and well presented. Although drink orders were offered, we stuck with the complimentary water and iced tea at meals and had our own beverages in the room or during "happy hours" where beverages were $2.00 for second drink. We discovered that you have to buy the same drink as your second one AT THE SAME TIME, meaning be sure to ask for no ice (or a canned beverage) if you don't want Coke flavored water for your $2.00 drink. Bar service was excellent in the Crow's Nest, not so much in the Northern Lights lounge where we went for a music trivia contest. The Explorer's Cafe service is very slow during some parts of the day, prompt during others. It's worth a try. While not as good as Starbucks, Pete's or SBC, the drinks are yummy and hot. Very hot. We considered a beverage package, but opted to visit the Safeway Store in Seward to bring our own soda, cream and a small bottle of wine on-board. No problems getting through security with that. Hard liquor is not allowed, but reasonable amounts of soda, juices and wine (750 ml) are permitted. For our next cruise, we may do some math on the beverage plan. It may be worth the extra money to save a trip to the supermarket to bring our own beverages onto the ship. Pinnacle Grill is $35 per person extra and well worth the cost. I made a reservation before the cruise to be at Pinnacle when we were cruising through Glacier Bay on our anniversary. From the opening "shot" of mushroom latte to the amazing surf and turf dinner (four serving size choices included and a jaw dropping 32 oz fillet available for an extra fee), every food item was prepared to standards way above anything we have experienced before. The area is very quiet, in spite of a very large family with several kids at a table nearby. Waiters were not bothersome, but were on hand right away to refill drinks or bring the next course. If you've been thinking about cruising, choose HAL if only for the opportunity to dine at this amazing restaurant. Choose your cabin wisely. We were on the Starboard side of a south bound cruise. In other words, when the Captain came on to announce some cool feature or landmark, we had to find an open space on the other side of the ship or in the Crow's Nest. While we're on the subject of choosing a cabin, we found our 10th deck forward cabin to be one of the best kept secrets. Tucked out of the way, just steps away from the Crows nest and a short elevator ride to the Greenhouse Spa on the Lido deck, this quiet area truly was a retreat from the hustle and bustle of port day passageway traffic. Although as far forward as one can be berthed on a ship, there was relatively little motion until the last night. That made up for the week of restfulness. Sleep is hard to find on a ship, but the bed and bedding are among the best we've slept on. Two full beds joined together to make a queen bed on a stable foundation meant motion from the other person almost un-noticeable. Unfortunately, the pillows were either to "foam rubbery" or too "squishy". If you have room to pack your favorite pillow, it might make this the best night sleep you've had in a long time. ----------- Enrichment activities included among other things, the Windows Workshop. Of little interest to us since we have Macs. But descriptions seemed interesting, particularly those that are platform independent like using OneDrive. Also available were several presentations from America's Test Kitchens, one of my favorite foodie magazines/programs. The demonstrations were great and came with recipe cards and handouts featuring various techniques. They are not interactive as you might expect in a live performance. That may be the way they're done, or it might be because there was an outbreak of Norovirus during this cruise. ----------- Entertainment is HAL's Achilles Heel. What little entertainment they have is poorly done in venues that were not designed for unobstructed viewing or for musical performance. The GOOD: An excellent mashup between the ship's band performing and BBC Earth's wildlife shows was the entertainment highlight for us. Alexander Great's magic show was a close second. I also enjoyed Adagio's performances in the Exploration's Cafe, though I only heard them as I was passing through. Noordam's musicians are top notch. Take the time to enjoy their performances while you're aboard. The BAD: The signature auditorium on the Noordam is the Vista Lounge. At least a third of the auditorium (and almost all of the upper deck 'balcony" area) is obstructed by columns or the ceiling of the upper deck. Two nights, we could see the bottom two thirds of the backdrop. The third night, we sat in the floor area in chairs that must have been reupholstered leftovers from GITMO. Uncomfortable, these chairs had cushions that did not stay put. The UGLY: The cast's performance of "Ever After" is anything but what the title implies... A collection of popular music from the 80s and 90s played as the singers and dancers re-enacted several fairy tales... most at one time. Imagine Snow White and Alice in Wonderland on stage at the same time in full volume. Choreography was large stage performed on a small stage. "Ever After" is only a little worse than a high school musical. I'll give them an A+ for the multimedia backdrop. As far as performance that was poor goes (as described above), the problem was not so much a lack of skill and talent of the cast. Done in a theater designed for such a performance, and with only one -- at the most two closely related concepts, it might be an award winning show. For the seemingly thrown together quality, it gets the "UGLY" award for this cruise. -------------- The Greenhouse Spa is very expensive. However, we splurged and spent money that might have gone to an excursion or two to get their hydrotherapy and thermal lounge package. It is $249 for two people for the full cruise. Normally, it's a great place to "spa away" the muscle tension and stress in a relaxing and quiet space. Quiet, relaxing Earth music plays sometimes (volume and presence is controlled from the women's changing room for some reason). Only one day did we have disruptive people -- a pair of young ladies who were asked to be quiet by an elderly lady who stepped up to enforce the rules that the staff didn't seem interested in monitoring. The thermal loungers are very hot (hotter than water in your friendly neighborhood hot tub). They're not for everyone, but I found them helpful after putting the "luxurious bathrobe" and a large towel down. Signage asks people to limit their use to 20 minutes (in both pool and thermoloungers) and that should be more than enough. Don't be surprised if you find people sleeping on the loungers. They're not breaking the rules on purpose... these things are just that relaxing. The Greenhouse also offers a wide range of spa treatments for both men and women, from cleansing facials to mani-pedi's. TIP: Get your mani-pedi and facial before the cruise. You'll still have money left over for your kid's college education. But if you can afford it, these folks seem to know how to pamper with style. ---------- Public rooms, except for Northern Lights and the Vista Lounge are very nice. Some include prints of famous Dutch Masters' work, statuary and my favorite, wooden carvings at the main dining room. Not only are public rooms well appointed, the staff works tirelessly to keep them clean. This is especially true should your cruise face an outbreak of Norovirus as occurred this time. Crew members -- even the Cruise Director himself -- took on the task of "super-sanitizing" the ship's public spaces and passageways in addition to their normal duties. Other than the Lido, where a careless plate grab from an infected passenger could spread the virus, I felt very safe on board. I've seen little mention on Cruise Critic of the "secret" places one can go for peace and quiet. There are many of those on the Noordam. My favorites were the Explorations Cafe, library and the Crow's Nest. Yes, they can get busy at certain times of the day, but for the most part it's relaxing and quiet... and a nice seat with a great view can almost always be found. ---------- Embarkation and disembarkation were both well organized on the ship end. However, disembarkation took a long time and once through the HAL portion, customs became very crowded, confusing and disorganized. They do not sanitize those spaces like they do the ship itself, and one of us got sick as a result. It's a good idea to wait in your stateroom until your disembarkation group is called. While they let people gather in public rooms to wait for their call, you're bound to find a lot of people anxious to get on to their next destination and with that comes impatience. I was concerned about a tight connection to the airport, but following HAL's process, we got there in plenty of time. TIPS: 1. If you are a U.S. citizen, you'll actually clear customs twice. Once for Canada and again at the airport before boarding. 2. Try to have as little carry on luggage as possible as you'll be asked for your passport, boarding pass and a customs receipt several times throughout. 3. If you have a medical device (such as a CPAP, H-Wave or similar "large electronic device"), remove it from your carryon and run it through the scanner separately. Canada's TSA will make you do that anyway :-) 4. When clearing U.S. customs in Vancouver, have a traveling companion who can watch your luggage while you go through the process. A "convenient" kiosk setup is not convenient when you're trying to manage so much luggage and "ability" gear that you don't have a free hand to tinker with the machines, which can be stubborn if the pages on your passport are a little curled. Which reminds me... The "Handicapped" signs show a wheelchair, which is a universal symbol for mobility impaired. People with a cane, braces or a walker can also use the "Handicapped" line. Which may have made item #4 above a moot point for me. --------- Value for money? Tough call. We booked through a popular online booking engine that offered discounts only to MasterCard holders and was not cooperative in resolving problems. They would refer us to HAL to deal with an issue and HAL would insist that they could not help because we booked with a Travel Agent. The months leading up to the cruise were a hassle, mostly because of this "go ask your mom -- go ask your dad" challenge. It was worth the hassle in the end. But is it worth it economically? Here's a way to compare if you've never taken a cruise: A decent hotel was about $285 per night while we were in transit. Most included Tom Bodett's clean comfortable room with NO amenities. One included the free breakfast that's worth every penny. Add to that meals at around $50 per day while we were in transit -- just average chain restaurant meals not including breakfast. That puts us up to $2,345 if we did that for seven days. That's half what you'd typically pay for the Alaska cruise for two people plus the Pinnacle Grill and views of the Alaska wilderness you can't get any other way. I'd be reluctant to spend that much for the room we had. But if a human travel agent can monitor my booking and get us a good deal on a suite, it would be tempting. Read Less
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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