31 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
My wife and I, ages 38/40 are first time cruisers. When looking for cruises we didn't want a "party cruise" nor one that had a bunch of kids running around. We booked through Costco travel (which as a member you get great ... Read More
My wife and I, ages 38/40 are first time cruisers. When looking for cruises we didn't want a "party cruise" nor one that had a bunch of kids running around. We booked through Costco travel (which as a member you get great deals and on ship credits to spend on gifts, clothes, alcohol and food at the two places where you have to actually pay extra to eat). Found the ms Noordam, about 1900 passengers. Let's begin the review: The Ship: overall very clean. The workers were always visible, asking if we wanted any drinks, etc out on the decks. They're very observant of the passengers and every single person always said good morning, afternoon, etc with a smile. The boat isn't huge like others that I've heard about. Maps were laid out of the boat in front of each elevator so you always knew to go either left or right to get to wherever you were heading. Stateroom: We stayed in the ocean view stateroom on the port (left) side of the ship. Be sure to look in advanced as to where you're cruising to know which side would have the best views. Luckily for us we travelled through the inner passage so had beautiful sites on either side, but there were a couple days that all we saw was wide open ocean and the other side saw pretty mountains. We weren't in the rooms much so I guess it didn't bother us much, but I will be sure to check the actual voyage next cruise to determine port side or starboard side. The room attendants were awesome. greeted us every day (by name). Dining: There are quite a few places to eat on the ship. Two of which are open at specific times and you have to pay extra to eat there. It's easy to make reservations if you want, but my wife and I ate at the Lido every meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner). The variety was phenomenal and food was really good. Every night for dinner they had some special (surf and turf, filet and lobster tail, king salmon, prime rib, leg of lamb). There are other lines that are open all the time (pasta line, salad and a regular hot line). For breakfast I recommend the crepes! Those were fantastic. My wife says the omelets were the best she's had too. NOTE, if you want any beer or wine during your meal, that is extra. They just swipe your room card and charge it to your room, easy enough. We ordered in-room dining one day for lunch. Fast service and free of charge. Entertainment/Activities: There's plenty to do and see on the boat. I think many of the activities were geared more towards the "older" crowd but we enjoyed them just as much for us. They offered Bingo, some trivia nights, definitely casino stuff, art, and some digital windows workshop that we did not attend. The shows were ok. The cruise singers/dancers were fair. If you're expecting some broadway talent or Vegas show you will be sorely let down, but for the most part, the shows were good. Had a comedian and magician perform twice each as well. Nothing bad to say about them. The comedian was "clean" with his jokes even though there were very few kids on board. Service: Top notch 5-star service all around from housekeeping to food service to front office staff. Ports and excursions: These ports are small! We booked our excursions through Costco when we booked our cruise so we didn't look at the excursions that the actual cruise offered. Ketchikan - do the rainforest and raptor center tour. pretty cheap and really informative if you like nature. Saw tons of bald eagles and salmon swimming up stream. Also, saw some sea otters out in the waters across the way. Juneau - tons to do here. We went on a whale watching cruise on a 12 passenger boat. Definitely the highlight of the cruise. Up close and personal with a humpback whale. Literally came up and dove 20 feet from our boat. Got great pics as well as saw two pods of Orcas swimming and a group of porpoises that kept swimming around our boat jumping out of the water putting on a show for us. It was almost like we were on a ride at Sea World with all this happening around us. Skagway - Very, very small town. 1 main road. My wife and I walked the entire town in 30 minutes. Took a tour bus tour (I recommend this rather than taking the white pass train). Saw so much more on the bus and able to make stops to get out and take pics. Had about 14 hours here. Wish we would've done another excursion. Overall Cruise experience: We loved the cruise. Everything about it was great. If I had to pick something that was not expected would be that the cruise was definitely more of an older cruise clientele. There were plenty of cruisers our age and some families with children in their teens, but I would guess 70% of guests were in the over 60 range. So if you're looking for a cruise that is more lively and a big night life, this is not the cruise for you. If you're looking at being able to enjoy a different part of the world in a more quiet sense and being pampered the entire time, then I highly suggest looking more closely into this cruise. I think this would be a fantastic family cruise for married couples and their parents. Another note, no extra tipping is required. All tips are added into every purchase and tipping housekeeping was added already into our cruise costs. However, if you do any excursions, those tips are not included in the costs. We tipped about $20 per guide we had on the tour. Our whale watching tour had the boat captain and a naturalist on board to share all information about where we were and what we would see, so we had tipped both the captain and naturalist $25 each. They both were really good though. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We don’t generally plan our vacations way in advance, and this was no exception. We started looking at our options around February. We were looking at Mediterranean &/or Greek Island Cruises, Canary Island cruises or a return trip ... Read More
We don’t generally plan our vacations way in advance, and this was no exception. We started looking at our options around February. We were looking at Mediterranean &/or Greek Island Cruises, Canary Island cruises or a return trip to Hawaii. Not sure why we threw Alaska into the mix, but everything we’d ever heard from people who’d been there was how great a trip it was. We finally settled on this cruise, which we booked about six weeks before the sailing date. Our first cruise on HAL was last September aboard the Rotterdam from Boston to Montreal, which we enjoyed immensely, so we did not hesitate to book another cruise on this line. Maybe it’s because the Rotterdam is a smaller ship, or maybe it’s because it was a less busy cruise, but we weren’t as pleased with the Noordam as we were with the Rotterdam. That is not to say, we didn’t enjoy the trip. It was fabulous! It’s just that the ship didn’t quite meet our expectations. The ship itself is lovely, in good condition, and the crew and staff were very friendly. The Captain was great – we enjoyed listening to his instructions and commentary over the loud speakers. Our biggest complaint is with the dining experience. Food in the main dining room was just okay. Pretty much the only meat choice at dinner was beef, which we don’t eat, so we ate a lot of fish. Mostly it was tasty, but it tended to be dry – probably overcooked. Except for the freshly made omelets for breakfast, food in the Lido was no better than a cafeteria. We ordered room service for breakfast twice – this wasn’t bad – it was delivered timely and was hot and fresh. Since we were celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary on this trip we splurged on dinner at the Pinnacle Grill one evening. It was much better than the dining room, but we wouldn’t give it a five star rating as we would some other specialty restaurants on, say, Celebrity. Our biggest issue with dining was the service in the main dining room and especially in the Lido. The waiters and staff were friendly enough, but service was poor, as both venues were definitely understaffed. We blame this on HAL management. Perhaps after 14 cruises we’ve just become a little fussier and more critical. The cruise itself was wonderful. Alaska is truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, and we enjoyed all the sights in the ports we visited, as well as the sights from the ship itself in Glacier Bay and through the inside passage. We visited the ports of Haines, Juneau and Ketichikan, and thoroughly enjoyed each one. The pictures you see of Alaska are beautiful and unbelievable, but to see it in person just takes your breath away. It’s an experience we’ll never forget. Now, the land tour: we chose a three day pre-cruise tour to Denali and Fairbanks. This is where better planning was needed. We knew Alaska is big, but coming from New Jersey where you can drive from north to south in about three hours, we just didn’t have a concept of how long it would take to get from one place to another, and the travel times were not included in the initial descriptions. Most of the three days, unfortunately, was spent on the road. We arrived in Anchorage late in the evening after a day long journey from New Jersey. After spending the night in the Captain Cook Hotel, which was lovely, we got up early, had breakfast and took a short walk to see a little bit of the town before getting on a coach to the train depot where we boarded the McKinley Express Dome Train for the eight hour journey to Danali. The train cars were very comfortable and the lunch in the dining car was very good – too bad it wasn’t as good on the ship. The scenery was beautiful, though we saw no wildlife – I’d run and hide, too, if I heard that train coming! Since we only had one night in Denali we were unable to go into the park itself. Instead we took two short excursions – an ATV adventure and barbecue in the evening, then a visit to Iditerod champion Jeff King’s Husky Homestead the next morning. By two that afternoon we were on another coach to Fairbanks, arriving early in the evening with only enough time to go to a salmon bake dinner and see a cute and rowdy show about the history of that gold rush town. Though we had been told by the tour booking agent before booking that we would have the next morning to explore Fairbanks before catching a flight to Anchorage followed by a coach to Seward, this was not the case. In fact, we had to get a 5:40 am shuttle to the airport for a 9:00 am flight. (The early shuttle really was not necessary. We were the only ones on the line to go through TSA and were told at the airline boarding desk we’d have had plenty of time if we didn’t get the airport until 8:00. We still would not have been able to do anything in Fairbanks, but we could have had a decent breakfast at the hotel instead of the absolutely awful one at the airport’s only eatery.) This is not to say we didn’t enjoy the excursions we took. We had a lot of fun on the ATV despite ending up soaked during a sudden and unexpected downpour – and we were wearing rain jackets! The husky kennel was amazing, especially getting to hold an adorable month old puppy and getting to hear Jeff talk about life on the trail. He is an amazing speaker! The salmon bake in Fairbanks was very good and the show was very well done and a lot of laughs. If you really want to see Denali or Fairbanks, though, you need at least two nights in each. If we knew then what we know now, we probably would have skipped Fairbanks and done the double Denali instead. Live and learn. Overall, we enjoyed the trip and highly recommend Alaska to those who love the beauty of the natural world and experiencing a simpler way of life. Our recommendation would be to do your research before booking. A cruise is probably the best way to see southern Alaska, as there are no roads between the port towns – you need to fly or sail in to each of them, so why not do it on a floating hotel. If you want to see wildlife you need to go later in the summer when the salmon are running. And if you want to see Denali, you need at least two days there, if not three. Because of the huge distance between the park and Anchorage and the cruise port, you are going to spend a lot of time traveling, but it is well worth it. Given the opportunity I would visit Alaska again – after spending a little more time planning before making the final booking. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
Really enjoyed my first cruise onHAL Was on a cruise land tour through Discover Alaska and they are affiliated with HAL. The ship was very nice and I thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and the ports of call. alaska was on my bucket list soI ... Read More
Really enjoyed my first cruise onHAL Was on a cruise land tour through Discover Alaska and they are affiliated with HAL. The ship was very nice and I thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and the ports of call. alaska was on my bucket list soI really looked forward to the ports of call as well as the land tour. I had a balcony cabin which was very spacious, and the cabin itself was also spacious.. The food was really good and great selections.. The entertainmment was just okay, really nothing spectacular with their big productions shows. The service on the ship was excellent from the cabin steward to the diningroom staff all first rate.Since it was mostly if not all adult passengers it was a rather subdued cruise but I most say I did enjoy the peace and quiet. I recommend HAL for an Alaskan cruise, they really do a nice cruise land package Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We wanted to go to Alaska at some point, and saw a pretty good deal so we decided to go with it, despite some reservations about going in May. We were satisfied overall with our cruise, understanding that Holland America is considerably ... Read More
We wanted to go to Alaska at some point, and saw a pretty good deal so we decided to go with it, despite some reservations about going in May. We were satisfied overall with our cruise, understanding that Holland America is considerably less expensive than the cruises we have taken in the past, and as such had to make some concessions to that fact. Ship: Noordam was fine. The ship was larger than we were used to at 1900 or so passengers, but not mega large. The public rooms were very good, there were lots of places to sit and read, the bars were good, the pool area was outstanding, and I loved the sliding cover that enabled the pool space to be used even when it was cold or rainy. The condition of the ship was fine, and it was very clean....no real issues with the ship. Cabin: Our veranda cabin was adequate, and while not quite as fancy as we have seen, it was perfectly serviceable for us. Being in the stern of the ship, or balcony was larger than those on the side. The bed was good, the decor was ok, the bath was fine, and there was adequate storage. No real issues with the cabin. Dining: First a matter of ambiance.....the HA website says that the dress is normally "smart casual" and that there are two formal nights. Smart Casual seemed to include jeans, sweat pants, football jerseys, basketball shoes, hats worn in the dining room, bib overalls, etc. etc. On formal nights there were a smattering of tuxes, some suits some sportcoats with or without tie....perhaps half the men in these categories, and half that ignored the dress code all together. The main dining room was fine. Staff was mainly from Indonesia....a few language problems. Service was good, wine service just ok. Food was not gourmet, but it was generally adequate. Breakfast was excellent, lunch was good, dinner was ok....I expected more at dinner. There were two seating, or you could have open seating...which we did....and we mainly ate by ourselves rather than join others at a group table. We didn't think the buffet was very good....... Breakfast was adequate other than a bit disorganized.....stand in line for an omelet, then stand in another line to get breakfast meat, rolls, etc. Biggest issue with breakfast was absence of decent fruit....no nice bowls of berries........just a half strawberry on a little fruit place. Also mostly the melons were not ripe. So you would get a little plate with a little piece of unripe cantaloupe, a piece of hard watermelon and a half a unripe strawberry At lunch and dinner we thought the Asian buffet area was ok, but the rest we didn't care for. The pasta station was undermanned. It took five minutes for the cook to soak the pasta to get it warm, make a sauce, and meat, bring in the pasta, stir, etc. If there were 5 people in line that would over be 20 minutes in line. Roast beef was good, steaks were precooked and stuck in a steam table, so they were all well done and tough. Not quite enough choices, and what was there was just ok. Specialty restaurants were Pinnacle Grill which was I guess a steakhouse, and Italian, which took over a part of the buffet area. The Pinnacle Grill experience was poor. A couple of pretentious Dutch waiters replaced the Indonesians found in the other restaurants. We were on a drink package with a cap of $9 per drink. Of course there was only one crummy red and one crummy white available at that price. If you order a more expensive wine do they credit the first $9? Of course not. Crab cake appetizer was two crab cakes at 1 bite each. Bone in ribeye was no better then a steak from Kroger's....not trimmed at all, not grilled on a really hot grill, and my wife's steak was fatty and gristly. Dessert was ok. Overall not worth the upcharge. We didn't have room service, nor did we eat at the pool, but the offerings there looked good... Entertainment: This is a strong point. There were several very nice, very comfortable bars for a quiet drink. There was an excellent violin/piano classical music group in one of the bars. The piano bar was excellent....but the artist was so good, and drew such big crowds that it needed to be bigger.....he was really good. There was also a very good Blues Club...the group playing was more soul than blues, but they were very good. The exercise area was excellent, there was a very nice cooking demonstration area, a nice library, two pools, a handful of hottubs, and other stuff. The theater was very nice, and quite large. We never went in the evening, preferring one of the entertainment options noted above. There were a couple of comedians, a music show with pictures of Alaska on the screen, etc. Service overall was good...no particular accolades or criticisms noted. The ports were cute little towns.....rustic western or Victorian architecture, mostly shopping and restaurants, dozens of jewelry stores....who would have though that people go to Alaska to buy diamonds? There were a variety of tours. The best were whale watching in Juneau, and the White Pass and Yukon railroad excursion in Skagway. If you don't take a tour I would expect you will get bored with walking around town in about 2 hours. Let's talk about the Denali extension: The ship docks in Seward, where you board a domed railcar for a 4 hours ride to Anchorage. The cars are great, with a good view and a dining car, and the view is very good....mountains, eagles, lots of moose, no bears. After 4 hours you arrive in Anchorage for a ride to the convention center downtown. There you either go to your plane, or if you are going to Denali, you have an afternoon to kill in downtown Anchorage, with several hours before your room is ready. On our cruise this was Sunday.....a total waste of an afternoon. Next morning you board the McKinley Explorer for an 8 hour ride to Denali. Another domed train, dining cars for breakfast and lunch are available, comfortable seats, good views, scenery just ok for first half of ride, then better as you moved north. Arrived in Denali, bus to Lodge. The Villages at Denali is sub-standard in almost every way. Mediocre lodge, mediocre dining room, mediocre rooms, and no where to go for 5 hours remaining daylight. The next day is Denali, and you have one day for a 4.5 million acre park. By the way you are 85 miles from Mt. Denali. Most people chose an 8 hour bus tour. We didn't because we had already ridden 12 hours in the train over the prior two day, and were tired of riding. We chose an ATV Adventure with breakfast, which wasn't even actually in the Park....but it was fun. After the tour back to the lodge for another dead 4 hours waiting for the bus for another 4 hour bus ride to Anchorage. An evening on your own, then the travel home begins the next morning. Unless you really like to look at scenery, or really like to ride the train, there is an AWFUL lot of riding or sitting around for a brief amount of time at Denali. Oh, it was raining and foggy all day, so even those who took the 8 hour bus tour didn't see anything. Conclusion to Denali extension......way to much riding, way way to many idle hours waiting for hotels, in hotels, riding to hotels, etc. I would either skip it altogether or else place to spend at least 3 days there....other than that the tedious travel is not worth it. Overall cruise: Good to very good, and a good value. Much nicer than a Carnival or Norwegian type cruise, not as nice as Oceania or Regent. Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
Who we are: A middle aged married couple who has traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, and Central and South America-- but never on a cruise! Travel details: Vancouver to Seward, May 21- May 28 Cabin: We stayed on the Upper ... Read More
Who we are: A middle aged married couple who has traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, and Central and South America-- but never on a cruise! Travel details: Vancouver to Seward, May 21- May 28 Cabin: We stayed on the Upper Promenade, cabin number 4021, with a balcony. The cabin was great overall. So smartly designed to maximize space! One minor complaint is that at this deck level, the lower half of the balcony is made of steel, not glass, so there is a slightly obstructed view on the lower half. The upside is that the balcony itself was slightly larger than the balconies above us. Dining: Lido (buffet)- not great, food pretty ho-hum. Reminded me of a school cafeteria. Upside: Open all the time (but limited offerings at off-hours), Scooped ice-cream served every day (including one sugar-free option). Delicious cookies. Overall: C- Vista dining room- fancier than Lido but not stuffy. Servings were pretty small so we were not shy about asking for an appetizer AND a salad AND a main AND a couple of side veggies. They are open for breakfast and dinner mostly. They were occasionally open for lunch but very limited hours- only 12- 1. Overall: B Caneletto- $15 upcharge pp- only open for dinner, but this was our favorite of the dining options for sure. It is actually a partitioned-off section of the Lido restaurant. That sounds bad but it actually worked beautifully. We got a window seat both nights we ate there. Food tasted fresher and was more creative than any of the other restaurants. My husband and I enjoyed the following: Italian-themed cocktail menu, eggplant roulade w ricotta, gnocchi w short ribs, fish dish I cant remember the details of, housemade gelato, and a lemon/almond flour cake that was not too sweet. Overall: A Pinnacle- $35 upcharge pp- Eh. I'm glad we tried it but it is not amazing. Menu is old school "continental". My husband and I had steak and crab legs, salad, and Baked Alaska for dessert. We also ordered the molten chocolate cake dessert but it was inedible-- overcooked in a microwave, maybe? Service-wise, the maitre d obviously had formal dining experience and was delightful, but none of the other servers appeared to have had this. Whatever. Manage your expectations is all I'm saying. Also- be sure to ask to be seated in the main dining room, not in the outside area overlooking the stairs. Overall: B- Entertainment/Activities on board: We did not partake of much of the entertainment. although we enjoyed the Explorer Cafe/Lounge on the Promenade deck. We spent a fair amount of time there b/c they serve lattes and have the New York Times loaded on their computer terminals. We also sat in the hot tubs - the one on the back of the boat is particularly nice as it is open air and has a view of the water from the back of the boat. We also enjoyed sitting on the deck chairs of the Promenade deck and reading our books, although many times it was a bit too cold to stay out for long. If you are on a July or August cruise this should be less of an issue I'd imagine. Which reminds me: If your main goal in Alaska is to see wild life, you should make a point of coming to Alaska when the salmon are running. We were a bit early in the season for this. We still managed to see some bald eagles (they are actually plentiful), a few other birds, a number of whales, and one moose running along the side of the road. But that was it. The scenery was crazy beautiful, and we were OK with not seeing as much wildlife. But if this is your thing, you should wait for the salmon to start running (and all the wildlife that come out to eat them!) Trip highlights: Flight from Seattle to Vancouver- cheap flight ($100) and outstanding views of the San Juan Islands. The left side of the plane afforded the best views. Vancouver: The Pinnacle hotel was perfectly located at the waterfront. We stayed overnight because we read reviews complaining about delayed flights/ bad traffic etc, causing undo stress on the travel departure date. We were glad we did. Got to go to our favorite upscale Thai place called Maeman, followed by a visit to the weird but cool nut and dried fruit store on the same street called Ayubs. We stocked up lots of goodies for our cruise. Both places are in the Kitsilano (aka Kits) neighborhood. At sea: Spa was nice - had a pedi and mani and bamboo roller massage. Know that they do a pretty hard product sales push after the massage (or a facial I'm told). I just kept smiling and saying no, but it was helpful to me that I was prepared for it. Also did a yoga class (Hatha) that was pretty easy and relaxing. Ketchikan: word of caution: DO NOT BOOK A FLIGHTSEEING TOUR - Ketchikan gets rain 300 days out of the year and there is a great chance your flight will be canceled, as ours was. Save flightseeing for one of the other ports. We did take a boat out to the Misty fjords- quite beautiful. Juneau: Our favorite of the ports. We did this day trip through HAL, but here is the tour company's website: http://www.stepintoalaska.com/excursions/alaskas-whales-glaciers-rainforest-trails We loved the tour, and our guide, and everything about it. However, I would add a visit to the Mendenhall Visitor Center if at all possible, because you can see the glacier from a closer vantage point, and also a pretty spectacular waterfall. On our tour we viewed both of these things, but from a distance. W\In Juneau, we also found great coffee (Stumptown!) at The Rookery and FANTASTIC fresh King Crab legs and bisque at Tracey's Crab Shack. The crab cakes were not great- skip them and double down on the other two if you can swing it. Skagway: The town itself feels kind of like a movie set. Everything in this town looks like it was put there to cater to tourists. I did enjoy the Spruce Tip beer at the Skagway Brewery. Good food there too. We were one of the few that did NOT go on White Pass train excursion. Instead, we went to Haines and floated down a river looking for bald eagles. Our guide did all the paddling so it was not strenuous at all. It was fun for us to see Alaska from this lower vantage point. Highlight of this trip was seeing the Arctic terns protecting their nests. If the salmon had been running I'm sure the wildlife would have been spectacular. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We booked this cruise for May 21 - 28 in order to take advantage of the drier weather (May is the least rainy month in these ports) and to avoid large numbers of children since school is still in session during the last week of May. We ... Read More
We booked this cruise for May 21 - 28 in order to take advantage of the drier weather (May is the least rainy month in these ports) and to avoid large numbers of children since school is still in session during the last week of May. We were successful on both accounts--we only had a bit of light rain in Ketchikan and I saw no more than 10 children on the ship. This was our 3rd HAL cruise and our 13th cruise overall. Cabin--We had a balcony cabin on the port side. The only time we were able to comfortably sit on the balcony was on the day we departed Vancouver. Even with the warm blankets supplied in our cabins, it was just too cold and windy on the balcony. That was a real shame and I would probably think twice about paying for a balcony on an Alaska cruise. There are just so many other places on board you can watch the scenery. The room was spacious; the bed was comfortable; the steward was efficient. Dining--On our last HAL cruise (the Baltics), we were disappointed in the food in the MDR. There weren't a lot of choices and the food was lackluster. I thought the food in the MDR was very good on the Noordam. I could always find something that appealed to me and it well prepared. My spouse raved about the prime rib, which was served twice on our 7-day cruise. We ate our breakfasts in the MDR as well and that was the only place where I had a poor meal. The Belgian waffle was hard and cold. The waiter seemed genuinely grieved when I said the food was cold and offered to bring me another, but I was done. I did fine with fruit and cereal instead of the cooked breakfasts. I absolutely loved the real ice cream bar in the Lido. It was a treat for me to have a scoop of ice cream slathered in syrup and Butterfinger bits for dessert each afternoon. And the Dive In burgers, hot dogs and fries were out-of-this-world. We had Open Dining and it worked like a charm (unlike my experience with Anytime Dining on Carnival). We only waited for a table on the first night and that wait was only a few minutes. Our waiters varied from attentive, friendly and chatty to those that just did their job (but they did do their job well). Embarkation--We embarked in Vancouver and waited until about 2pm to board. That was a PERFECT time since there was nobody else boarding. All of the HAL staff in the boarding area told us that we had chosen the best time to come as it was busy until 1pm and it would be busy again at 3pm as the late-comers arrived. We were through all of the lines and on the ship in about 30 minutes. Enrichment Activities--I walked by the computer lab one day and it was full of people wanting to learn how to make movies. But what I was looking for were naturalists, historians, etc. who would give talks about Alaska and there were none. (We'd had a great expert on our HAL cruise of the Baltics.) HAL could really improve on this. Entertainment--The performer in the Piano Bar, Jeremy Oren, was THE BEST PERFORMER I have ever seen on a cruise ship. We went to the Piano Bar for at least an hour every evening (and generally longer). His "Beatles and Brits" night was the greatest! We also made it to the B.B. King Blues Club a couple of nights and the performances there, as always, were excellent. Although HAL tends not to have a great variety of entertainment, what they do is very, very good. Fitness and Recreation--I went to the fitness center everyday and there was always plenty of equipment available to use. (The first day at sea was busy in the gym, but never again after that.) I also appreciated the free stretching classes offered in the morning and early evening and went to those several times. There were a few machines which were out-of-order for the entire cruise, but since the gym was never full, it wasn't a problem. But HAL should take care of that. A GOOD HINT: The morning that we were in Glacier Bay, we got up at 7:30 am for breakfast. We decided to eat from the Lido that day and managed to find a table next to a window portside in the area around the Lido pool (which is covered). We discovered that we could see everything so well from the large, clear picture window that there was no need to get bundled up to go outside. We sat comfortable in those chairs all morning and heard the commentary by the National Park Service ranger very well. My spouse got up and one point and went to the aft area on Deck 9 (Sea View Pool) and said that people were standing there 6-deep. So, if you want a warm, comfortable place to sit during the entire cruise through Glacier Bay--get a table next to the port windows. (You are closer to land on the port side.) Overall, I thought this was an excellent cruise and we received value for money. I would sail HAL again. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
My husband and I wanted a nice relaxing cruise. We drove from our home in Northern BC to Vancouver so we could combine road trip sightseeing on the way o the cruise and back home. We booked midship as I am very prone to motion sickness. ... Read More
My husband and I wanted a nice relaxing cruise. We drove from our home in Northern BC to Vancouver so we could combine road trip sightseeing on the way o the cruise and back home. We booked midship as I am very prone to motion sickness. VA 5088 was right above lifeboats but did not obstruct view other than directly below. Nothing there to see anyway and it added privacy. I would have said five stars but the bed was awful due to worn out mattress. Felt like I was as going to slip out of bed due to the sagging mattress. The only other issue was failure to pick up dirty dishes after room service even when we called. The room attendant always took the next day when he cleaned the room. The view even from the room was great. We didn't go on the balcony much because we could easily see from our room. The room steward was very good. Room service delivered fast. We ate at the Lido or room service all but once. That time we ate in the dining room. My husband said it was the best steak he ever had. I had lobster from the Lido once and it was great. We are age 49 and 59 and I think most people were around 50 or 55 with a few looked to be 65. A few children racing down the hall every morning. But saw children only in the Lido other than that. And very few. We walked around the ports and did not do exursions as we wanted no time constraints, just relaxation and my husband grew up seeing whales and we have bears and moose where we live. We stayed at PanPacific and parked there. Loved it. We loved the cruise and want to go on another longer cruise with more ports. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
Cruised with HAL to Alaska on a 7 Day trip from Vancouver and we thoroughly enjoyed our trip seeing Alaska again. This time we visited Sitka,a picturesque town with a small harbour and lots of shops selling souvenirs and local crafts. ... Read More
Cruised with HAL to Alaska on a 7 Day trip from Vancouver and we thoroughly enjoyed our trip seeing Alaska again. This time we visited Sitka,a picturesque town with a small harbour and lots of shops selling souvenirs and local crafts. Another place worth mentioning was the Hubbard glacier. The ship stopped very nearby, where all can take photos and marvel at the truly amazing glacier formation.The weather was superb, glorious sunshine on the pristine and white landscape and we heard the caving of the glacier from our verandah stateroom. Food was satisfactory in all the food stations. The best food done by the chef was the roast carvery pork with the skins roasted to crispy perfection. We thoroughly enjoyed this food very much and compliments to the chef in delivering a superb roast pork. Our Verandah stateroom was very comfortable, rather narrow at the entrance to the room,but comfortable bed with a sofa and verandah. Bathroom adequate with lovely fluffy ,white towels and Elemis bath products provided and topped up daily. Very efficient embarkation and disembarkation procedures. Entertainment was also good, but needs more variety in the daily programme of activities. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
The Alaska coastline and landscape is truly spectacular. Alaska is a vast state and a lot of it is uninhabited wilderness. For this reason, you cannot drive to most of it. Small planes are the best way to see a lot of it from the air. Of ... Read More
The Alaska coastline and landscape is truly spectacular. Alaska is a vast state and a lot of it is uninhabited wilderness. For this reason, you cannot drive to most of it. Small planes are the best way to see a lot of it from the air. Of course, cruise ships are the most popular way to see the coast. I definitely rank an Alaskan cruise as one of the top things everyone should enjoy at least once in their life. There are various routes to choose from. There are one way cruises from Anchorage, out of the port of Whittier, to Vancouver or vice versa. There are also round trip cruises, primarily out of Vancouver and Seattle, which make a loop within the Inside Passage. The Passage is the ocean and islands that are on the southeastern Alaska and British Colombia border. Of course, the one way cruises passes by more of the Alaska Coastline. The Southeastern part of Alaska is the small strip that is an afterthought when everyone thinks of the distinct shape of the state but a lot of its bigger cities, including its capital Juneau, are located there. I sailed on Holland America Line (HAL) Noordam. It was a 7 day roundtrip cruise out of Vancouver. Originally, the stops were Juneau, Glacier Bay, Skagway, and Ketchikan. Due to the amount of ship traffic, Glacier Bay and Skagway were swapped with Hubbard Glacier and Sitka. I did not look at Glacier Bay or Skagway before my trip. I figured that any destination in Alaska would be fantastic if I did not know any better. In retrospect, Hubbard Glacier was an amazing day. Looking at the pictures of Glacier Bay, both glaciers look stunning and comparable. As such, I do not feel shortchanged by Hubbard Glacier. In terms of Sitka, it is a cute town nestled in the middle of mountains. I liked it but there are definitely more activities to do in Skagway when I looked at the shore excursions there out of curiosity. I feel like I missed out a little bit but not too much. My family and I booked our trip in the fall when we saw a deal. The price actually dropped afterwards. For this reason, it is probably better to book your trip closer to the sail date (2-3 months out) when the route is definite. In regards to the HAL Noordam, it is an older ship. Nevertheless, it has all the amenities you would expect from a cruise ship. Like other cruise ships I have been on, everything [food, entertainment, etc.] is at a very good level of quality. They are trying to take care of a ship full of people so you really cannot expect more than consistently very good in all aspects. It has a casino, gym, basketball court, ping pong tables, hot tubs, pools, etc. Holland America is also for an older clientele. For context, the cruise director made a joke that they are committed to keeping the Northern Lights nightclub open until the last guest is ready to go to bed and that he was sure they could beat 11:02 PM from the night before. I spent most of my days eating and enjoying the views we were sailing past. There is decent entertainment provided by the ship but it is definitely not a party ship if you are looking for one. I was with my family and on the Noordam to enjoy Alaska so I had a great time. For anyone who has never been on a cruise, the ships are very big but the rooms are very small. The Noordam is similar but I had enough room to sleep comfortably with two other adults and a four year old in my room. There is a king sized bed, a bunk bed that pulls out from the wall over it if you need it, and a sofa bed. The one aspect that has impressed me the most on any cruise I have been on are the crews. The Noordam is no exception. The crews on ships are hardworking, decent people who go out of their way to make sure you have a great vacation. Of course, the star of the voyage was the views along the Inside Passage. While the Noordam met my expectations for a cruise ship, Alaska blew away my wildest expectations. As such, I will speak about the views and the ports we stopped at first. There are plenty of options for shore excursions to pick. Activities can be expensive. They are probably fun but I had a great time doing stuff that was a lot more economical. Consequently, I will share my tips and recommendations on what I did at Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan but definitely consider the seaplanes, whale watching, and dogsledding. For example, I took a helicopter ride in Kauai and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I am sure a plane ride over Alaska is just as if not more spectacular. Afterwards, I will touch upon my thoughts on various aspects of the Noordam, primarily food. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
This review will not be lengthy but more to the point.Having completed our Sydney to Vancouver crossing from 8th April to 30th April ;I feel appropriate to comment on this ship Firstly the Noordam is a beautiful ship and we ... Read More
This review will not be lengthy but more to the point.Having completed our Sydney to Vancouver crossing from 8th April to 30th April ;I feel appropriate to comment on this ship Firstly the Noordam is a beautiful ship and we could not see any signs of wear and tear and the ship was meticulously maintained in all aspects.Perhaps a couple of carpet sections worn that's about all; but who cares really Food and entertainment all good.One area that did annoy me was the Lido area at night.Only open till 8pm is a joke if you are a late eater like ourselves.They usually only had 2 food stations open so queuing was the norm.That was okay in itself.The problem was you had to wait for food as they often did run out.The next problem was if you wanted more ;2nd's that is ; it was often too late as they would religiously shut down at 8pm Not a huge issue ; but i do like my food and it was good on the Noordam;probably our preference for that extra touch was for the dining room The Noordam had plenty of public areas and never an issue getting seating in whatever area.We loved the decor of this ship Our cabin was at the stern on deck 5.A great experience with the ever present wake and our balcony was big ;cabin 5187 small problem with soot from the funnels stained some of our clothes but we did not put any t shirts or the like out on deck after this People on board were great and we sat at different table each night usually 6-8 wouldn't do it any other way.Met Americans/Canadians/British people Ports of call were good even though we had been to many before.We like the long sea days so this was not a problem for us Embarkation was a breeze and as we boarded around 3pm in Sydney we walked straight on no one in front of us.Getting off at Vancouver was the same streamlined and efficient as well. And now for the worst part ; something that has probably turned us off sea travel for a fair time I would say; maybe forever FLU VIRUS ON BOARD! The 1st day out from Sydney we noticed a steward coming out of the cabin diagonally opposite ours.The only point of difference was that he was wearing a face mask.This caused alarm bells to go off.Obviously quarantined After a few days about it it was pretty obvious that MANY people on this ship were coughing and spluttering and being very casual about it.One woman coughing continuously on the open deck remarked to someone she was talking too "Yes I have a cough but so does half the ship ;so what she said" Great attitude to your fellow man So in due course after everyone being so considerate and health conscious my wife and self finally came down with this Flu virus "A or B" as confirmed by the ships doctor ($1000 medical bill).Our only saviour was that we both got sick in the last week after leaving Honolulu.We were both confined to our cabin for 4 days and during that time i did not eat at all ;I was so ill.I can honestly say I had not been as sick since I had the Mumps when I was 20 years old.Both my wife and self are very fit people slim and exercise daily as well. When we disembarked from the ship in Vancouver ;we were both very weak and my wife had developed Bronchitis which was bordering on Pneumonia after the Flu virus.We had to see a Doctor 2 days after we arrived as I thought we may have to cancel our Rockies tour.We saw the Rockies which was our highlight for 6 days I guess my gripe with HAL is that this Flu virus had been on the ship for some time ;from NEw Zealand or before in it's Australian cruise season.How do I know this because 2 of the stewards told us so I condemn HAL for not making passengers more aware of this spread and doing something about it.It was something that almost ruined our holiday and made us both very wary of venturing on a ship in the future.We are 67/68 by the way so not veterans yet! I must be truthful and say I would have given the ship a "Very Good" review in Value for money except for our horrific experience with illness and yes we did have Flu shots before we left Australia;doesn't cover all strains Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2017
We chose Holland America as they are our favourite cruise line. Having an aft suite our embarkation was smooth without any wait although this actual cruise had commenced in NZ and there were already guests on board. The cabin was great ... Read More
We chose Holland America as they are our favourite cruise line. Having an aft suite our embarkation was smooth without any wait although this actual cruise had commenced in NZ and there were already guests on board. The cabin was great with no complaints. Dining always good on HAL with good choices in all areas. Service good and all our excursions were booked through cruise line. A few of our choices of excursions were not as expected though did not stop us from enjoying them. Entertainment and activities were sparse. It was our only down point of this cruise. Movies were shown in queens lounge which did not hold many people so missed out on what we wanted to see. There could have been more activities on board during the sea days and it became a little boring. Speakers did not give talks about much of interest to most and bingo was a waste of money with only four games per session. Sales days were not what we have experienced in the past - three or four tables of items only with total lack of interest by staff and cruisers. Word was the captain didn't want big sales on deck. Easter was just about non-existent. A couple of dyed eggs at breakfast. We are a married couple and we would sail HAL again for the exceptional service however HAL need to pick up on the entertainment side. Noordam is a good ship but we feel Oosterdam had more options as far as entertainment goes. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2017
We had already been on the Volendam with HAL and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and this cruise was visiting the South Pacific and Hawaii. We were on board 16 nights Sydney to Honolulu we felt this was long enough for us and it was. ... Read More
We had already been on the Volendam with HAL and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and this cruise was visiting the South Pacific and Hawaii. We were on board 16 nights Sydney to Honolulu we felt this was long enough for us and it was. The entertainment was far better than on the Volendam we enjoy the evening entertainment in the Vista Lounge and the guest speakers in the day were all very interesting. We enjoyed our evening meals in the main dining room and the Staff did everything possible to serve us well. We chose a table for 6/8 which meant we sat with different couples each night. Therefore we met some lovely people from Canada America and Australia. We also enjoyed our breakfast and lunch in the Lido where the Staff were very helpful and we met lots of lovely people there also. In fact we met a lovely couple from Australia we had met on Volendam two years previous what a coincidence. The places we visited were very beautiful the small island of Davuni in Fiji. Our cabin had a balcony on level 5, it was great and we were looked after very well by our cabin boy. We only have a couple of things which we were not happy with. One was the cost of the Wifi and the fact that it was of very poor quality. The other thing was at the end of our cruise we needed the reception to call the company we had booked our transfer to the hotel in Honolulu with to confirm the time we would be disembarking the ship but they said they could not do it as we had not booked it through them, we had no phone so unfortunately we waited for an hour in the hot sun outside the cruise terminal and our transport did not turn up so we had to pay for another taxi and lost the Money we had already paid but I suppose this was a minor problem. We also contacted the chesty thing in the last couple of days on the ship which in fact turned out to be Whooping Cough which was confirmed by blood test by our local GP and we are still coughing now after 7 weeks. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
The Noordam is, on the whole, a beautiful, well-run ship and we were very comfortable on a 36 night cruise from Auckland, New Zealand to Vancouver, Canada. This was our retirement cruise, the longest vacation of our lives, and, of course, ... Read More
The Noordam is, on the whole, a beautiful, well-run ship and we were very comfortable on a 36 night cruise from Auckland, New Zealand to Vancouver, Canada. This was our retirement cruise, the longest vacation of our lives, and, of course, the most expensive. All in all, this cruise was a great way to “retire to luxury,” if only for a set period of time! We absolutely loved every port in New Zealand (Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Akaroa, Dunedin and Wellington even though the weather in Wellington was horrible), as well as in Australia (Hobart, Melbourne, and Sydney) and Hawaii (Hilo, Honolulu). We were far less impressed with the South Pacific ports, though American Samoa was interesting. There were a lot of sea days on this cruise, but we found ways to fill our time. The Ship The public areas on the Noordam are attractive and well-maintained, and generally serve to accommodate guests who wish to attend events in those venues. We especially liked the Pinnacle Bar, Explorations (2 areas; one is primarily a library, though there is no librarian), and the Vista Lounge, which is huge. The only areas where we noticed real issues were these: 1. The Culinary Arts Center/Queens Lounge: This is a terrible venue for just about anything, especially viewing movies. It is small and, unless you are on the front row, you cannot see anything! We tried to attend movies and cooking shows, but it was very frustrating and we gave up. It semi-works for the BB Kings and is a happening place on the ship during those performances. 2. The Northern Lights: This is supposedly the night club off the casino, though we never really saw anyone dancing in it. It is either dark or bright enough to land a helicopter. The seats are hard and uncomfortable. The ship kept trying to do trivia games and other activities here and all the passengers, including us, hated it. This space should be completely reallocated to something else! 3. In the Lido, several of the “rattan” type chairs are really, really old and worn and need to be replaced. 4. The Explorer’s Lounge was severely under-utilized, which is too bad as it was a nice venue. Our Cabin Because of the length of the cruise, we treated ourselves to a Signature Suite and were generally pleased. There were two desks, two sinks in the bathroom both a stall shower and a tub with a whirlpool and shower in the bathroom and ample space on the balcony. We were on Deck 6 mid-ship and found we liked that location; it was close to the elevators and the stairs, quiet, and the motion of the ship (we had rough seas on more than one occasion) was reduced. Our steward produced additional hangers when we asked and maintained our room well. If cost were not an issue, we would always travel in this type of cabin. Food The food on the ship was generally good, though after 36 days it was getting a bit old. The Lido: The Lido was where we generally had breakfast and about half our lunches. We really liked the fact that there were two omelet stations with two cooks each, so four people were preparing omelets to order right in front of you. At lunch, the omelet station became the salad station with the same type of service. There were two main service lines for general breakfast items and the main menu items for lunch. Juices (a wide variety) and cold cereals were also available at two stations; this becomes the dessert/ice cream station at lunch. The waffle station was to port while the eggs benedict station was to starboard; at lunch these became the Asian Grill and the Pasta/Pizza Grill. My only minor complaints are that fresh fruit for breakfast is served “mixed” (if you want sliced cantaloupe you will get a slice on a plate with a slice of pineapple, watermelon, and maybe kiwi and a grape) and the poached eggs just were never properly drained of water (get them on a separate plate and assemble the benedict yourself). Dive-In: This is the burger bar and we loved it! The burgers, grilled chicken, hot dogs and french fries were consistently fresh and good. Taco Bar: This is an interesting pool-side concept for a quick lunch, and it is popular, but we found that it missed the mark. Admittedly, we are from the southwestern part of the US and our “Tex-Mex” standards are exceedingly high. Main Dining Room: We had excellent service throughout the cruise in the Main Dining room, both from our waiters and our wine stewards. The food was generally good. Oddly, the only times we had trouble finding something that appealed were on the special occasions where the “chefs” were featured. We ate lunch several times in the main dining room and actually found those entrees a cut above dinner. The only time the main dining room failed us was at the one breakfast we ate there; the service was slow and our food was cold and mediocre. The Pinnacle Grill: We ate there three times; once for lunch and twice for dinner. The food was excellent and the service impeccable. Well worth the upcharge! The Canaletto: We had dinner there once and had excellent service. However, we simply were simply not impressed with the food and do not care for the “sharing” concept. Room Service: We used room service for several breakfasts and a few lunches. Breakfast service, when ordered from the “door hanger,” was prompt and accurate. When we called for food, the wait was never less than 45 minutes to an hour. Bars We generally had good service in the bars, particularly the Crow’s Nest and the Pinnacle Bar. Service by the pool can be slow, as can service in the Lido since the waiters have to go to one of the pool bars. On the rare occasions that we ate dinner in the Lido and wanted a glass of wine with it, we got it at one of the bars before getting our food. Staff We found the staff, overall, to be accommodating and eager to please. Activities The first part of the cruise, from Auckland to Sydney, was very “port intensive” and we did long, full day excursions in almost all of them, so we concentrated on resting up for our next excursion and did not participate in many of the ship’s activities until we left Sydney (day 13), when we finally joined in. Here is what we enjoyed: 1. Wine tastings: We did three, plus a port wine/chocolate tasting. All of them were well run by the cellar master and the wines were almost always good. We also liked the “Sip and Savor” evenings conducted by the cellar master and the culinary director on sea days. 2. Trivia: We love it and had a good time playing. 3. Astronomy Lectures: The ship collected three guest lecturers in Sydney; we heard all of them at least once and really, really liked the astronomer who was an excellent, entertaining speaker. General Comments for Holland America: The Holland America Line, as a whole, seems to be going through a period where it is seeking new direction, but not quite sure how to proceed. The reputation of the line is that it is for older people who don’t want as much “action” as younger travelers. (That is fine by us, we are in our mid-60s and these are our people). In an effort to become more “hip,” the cruise line is doing away with librarians, cutting back Explorations, re-evaluating the guest speakers, and has eliminated formal attire for the cruise staff on Gala nights. (The new uniforms are gray and white with orange accents and are truly heinous; bring back the tuxedos and the long dresses, please). Our ship held one of the last Le Cirque dinners; the new order will be a seafood night in the Pinnacle Grill which holds no allure for us at all. In our opinion, Holland should stick to what it does best – offer a classy cruise to mature individuals who want a quality vacation. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
I never sailed the islands of the Pacific, and this was a perfect opportunity to do so. A few days in Sydney prior to sailing allowed two visits to Hunter Valley (two different companies) and a lunch at the top of the Sydney Tower. ... Read More
I never sailed the islands of the Pacific, and this was a perfect opportunity to do so. A few days in Sydney prior to sailing allowed two visits to Hunter Valley (two different companies) and a lunch at the top of the Sydney Tower. Staying at the Sydney Harbor Marriott allowed wheeling your luggage right up to the ship with no problem....very handy! Boarding was quick and easy. Tropical Cyclone Cook interrupted our visit to two ports in New Caledonia, but one stop in Vanauatu was substituted. Days were hot and sunny as we visited Fiji and Samoa - great for those who are wild about beaches, but not much in the way of historic signts. Lots of sea days - some five in a row - gave plenty of time to kick back and read if you weren't attending a cooking demo, lecture, movie or bingo. The daily "Sip & Savor" with two wines ($4 per glass) and a good snack were led by the somalier with explanation of the wines. Something new each day, and always interesting and tasty. The wine package offerered two levels of wines - Navigator and Admiral - a variety of choices in either. I chose the lower priced Navigator and was never disappointed. My major concern was the fact that my 3-star Mariner rate allowed a 25% discount on the wine package (but a 15% service charge was added) - making it 10% lower than the price listed in the brochure. The 3-star rating didn't do a thing toward discount pricing of a glass of wine at any lounge or even the purchase of a full bottle of wine in the dining room. All coffee at the Explorations Cafe was also discounted, but specialty coffee elsewhere was full price. Dinners at LeCirque were enjoyable but not that exceptional considering the charge. At my second one, the Sea Bass offered was replaced with baramundi which is just not the same thing at all. On the other hand, the Cellar Master's Dinner was excellent. Aside from food and wine - my favorite thing on board was the Piano Bar lounge that was packed every night. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary which suited our plans to see a little of New Zealand within a limited time frame. Embarkation went without a hitch and we were pleasantly surprised by our stateroom on deck 8 complete with ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary which suited our plans to see a little of New Zealand within a limited time frame. Embarkation went without a hitch and we were pleasantly surprised by our stateroom on deck 8 complete with balcony. The Noordam is a beautiful ship in all respects with comfortable lounges beautifully furnished and kept spotlessly clean by the crew who were forever tidying and cleaning throughout our 12 night cruise. Special mention to our cabin stewards who looked after us so well during the voyage. The speciality restaurant was outstanding with first class food and service and the main restaurant offered a varied menu which was sufficient to suit all tastes.I would say however that the service was in my opinion a little rushed with plates being removed from the table before all had finished their meal. The entertainment was for the most part disappointing. The resident band in BBKings were good although their time on stage was limited to 2 x 45 minute sets.It would have much better to have had one performance nightly starting after the second stage show. There was also a disco which carried on at the same time close to BBKings lounge which for the most part was deserted.!! The Crows Nest lounge was the obvious place to have this disco and would have attracted a bigger audience. The Crows Nest was undoubtedly the best lounge on the ship but was for some reason greatly underused closing at 9.30pm each evening. In fact all the entertainment and bars including the casino were closed up by midnight. The evening entertainment was in the main disappointing and would influence wether or not we would sail on this ship or indeed cruise line again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
We wanted to go to the Antipodes, and this schedule fit ours. We'd cruised on the Zuiderdam in 2016 and enjoyed it. Noordam is Zuiderdam's sister ship, with the identical layout, except for non-structural spaces like the ... Read More
We wanted to go to the Antipodes, and this schedule fit ours. We'd cruised on the Zuiderdam in 2016 and enjoyed it. Noordam is Zuiderdam's sister ship, with the identical layout, except for non-structural spaces like the library. We like that it carries 1928 passengers - bigger than that would be too big for us, and we can't afford smaller. We splurged on a Signature suite, which was twice the size of our earlier Verandah suite. Full-sized sofa, double sinks in the bathroom, etc. Very roomy for us and comfortable. And the verandah was twice the size because we were on Deck 6 instead of 5, without the lifeboats in front of us. Twice in the week before we left, we got a phone call from HAL offering us progressively cheaper upgrades to a Neptune suite, but it was still too expensive. We loved our Signature cabin and didn't need more room. We also got a pretty good deal on it - a splurge for us, but worth it. As before, we found the staff to be exemplary. Friendly, efficient, eager to please. We expressed an interest in them, which may be why they were so good to us. Our cabin stewards were outstanding, and the bar and restaurant staff matched them. As before, we tipped them when we left, in the form of all our currency that we could no longer use. (Yes, we know that tips are built into our fare, but a little extra never hurts, and these guys were ALWAYS working.) The food was good. We had some breakfasts and lunches in the Lido buffet and enjoyed the large selection. The lack of trays was inconvenient at worst, but we learned that the line is saving about $3 million a year because of less wasted food, so we're all for it - there's no excuse for wasting food, in my book. Having to carry a plate or two at a time forces you to think about whether you REALLY want that dessert. We enjoyed two celebratory meals in the Pinnacle and enjoyed them a lot. Excellent food and service. The rest of our meals were in the Main Dining Room. We opted, as before, not to commit to a specific dining time, but we never had to wait more than five minutes to be seated, and we enjoyed being seated with different people every time. The servers knew us after a few meals which is quite a feat of memory. We had coffee delivered to our room at 6:30 every morning, a real luxury. Entertainment isn't an issue for us. We LOVE the BB King band and went to hear them every night - superlative entertainers. The "seminars" are all thinly disguised attempts to sell something, so we don't bother. We rarely enjoy the main lounge evening shows, so stayed away. The library is fairly well stocked with a variety of books, although on the Noordam it's in two rooms on Deck 3 or 4, while on the Zuiderdam it's in one space next to the Crow's Nest - more convenient by far. We read, walked the deck, enjoyed chatting with people, and generally enjoyed our time on board. Didn't use the pool. I enjoyed the spa services, especially when they ran a special, but don't like the constant attempt to sell product at the end of each service. Unfortunately, the staff gets paid by how much stuff they sell rather than salary, which is unpleasant and unfair. Ship tours tend to be more expensive than those offered by independent tour operators, so we mostly set up our own. But the few that we did were quite good. The bars are all pleasant but Happy Hour happens in just a small handful of them, not all. And you can get a twofer, but they are both the same drink and have to be ordered at the same time, so the second one is sometimes warmish by the time you get to it. You can't share. We are in our 70s but noticed how old most of the passengers were! We're really just 35 inside, but have never seen so many walkers and canes in one place before. Wifi can be an issue, but we decided against buying the package and enjoying a vacation from connectedness. You can use the computers in the Crow's Nest, either with the prepaid package or by minute-by-minute charge. But it's terribly slow, so you sit there watching it try to connect while your paid-for minutes drain into the ocean. Fancier cabins get complementary Wifi, but I found that I did't miss it that much. What used to be called "Formal nights" are now "Gala nights." You're expected to dress up for the MDR and Pinnacle, but if you don't want to, you can always dine at the Lido buffet. We dressed nicely but not formally - shirt and tie, long "harem" pants and sparkly top. Part of our definition of "vacation" is not having to worry about dressing up, so we're not interested in tuxedos and evening gowns. Everyone looked appropriately festive. Overall, we've enjoyed our cruises with HAL. We may try another cruise line just to compare, but as sedate as they tend to be, HAL suite us fine. Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
This cruise was for the New Zealand Destinations... with a lot of great port stops along the way. Noordam is our fifth HA ship, and much the same facilities as the others. It seemed that the temperature control was much better than some ... Read More
This cruise was for the New Zealand Destinations... with a lot of great port stops along the way. Noordam is our fifth HA ship, and much the same facilities as the others. It seemed that the temperature control was much better than some of the other HA ships we have been on, so we were not freezing in some venues this trip. We opted for a cabin with the steel balcony near the bow, and it proved to be great... only minor problems with some exterior panels rattling in the wind, which were quickly attended to by the staff. We enjoyed the trivia, Windows 10 courses, daily devotions, Piano bar, and all of the special sessions keyed to the locations on route, like learning the "Haaka" before arriving in New Zealand. The evening entertainment was mostly good, with a couple of weaker evenings with entertainers that were not of our tastes. The HAL players were good, but of course started to repeat as we did a double length cruise. The service was good on open dining, except some tables near the back farthest from the kitchen seemed to take much longer between courses. The choices in the Lido buffet were good and never more than a few in the lineups in front of us. Had to ask for lactose free sorbet, but it was available on request, just not on the signs. We did all independent touring supported by the cruise critic forum, and made many friends through the meet and greets and activities organized on the forum. We really enjoyed the Noordam, and are planning to book another HA cruise in the future. .. and 43 days was about the right length, and 5 sea days at a time is not too many!. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. We wanted to visit Tasmania and Melbourne, and this cruise went to both. In retrospect, an overnight in melbourne would have been good, Pros- The food in the Main Dining Room was wonderful. The ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. We wanted to visit Tasmania and Melbourne, and this cruise went to both. In retrospect, an overnight in melbourne would have been good, Pros- The food in the Main Dining Room was wonderful. The $99 package for unlimited laundry was great - we could have traveled with one small suitcase. The staff was friendly and accommodating. Our cabin was super confortable. Cons - Embarkation was a mess. Standing in the rain, waiting to get our luggage accepted, and then an hour long wait inside the terminal to be checked in was really unacceptable. No organization at all. Disembarcation was better,but just barely. They forgot to send down one of the bins with some of our luggage, Internet was non-existent for most purposes. There is little to do aboard the ship on At Sea days. I like Trivia, but not 3 tines a day Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
We booked this cruise to celebate my retirement and to visit ports we had missed on a previous driving holiday of NZ. We booked an inside cabin on an upper deck as we have found it difficult to sleep in lower deck, outside and veranda ... Read More
We booked this cruise to celebate my retirement and to visit ports we had missed on a previous driving holiday of NZ. We booked an inside cabin on an upper deck as we have found it difficult to sleep in lower deck, outside and veranda cabins on past HAL cruises. As trivia tragics we had connected with like-minded cruisers on the Cruise Critic Roll Call to form a team and they were a perfect match, contributing to our many victories and making the cruise fun. We collected many prizes including 4 bottles of champagne which we shared at dinner. We also connected with members of the Cruise Critic Roll Call to organise private tours as we found the HAL tours rather expensive. Unfortunately I became ill with the flu (contracted before we embarked) which developed into bronchitis. I made an appointment with the ship's doctor, who prescribed fluvax, antibiotics and decongestants. The bill was US$400! We found the Lido restaurant crowded and noisy and the food was not generally to our liking with a couple of exceptions. We have no idea why it is called the Lido Market as it was no different to the Lido restaurant on the Volendam. The chairs were in need of refurbishment. We had breakfast in the Vista Restaurant a few times, the food was excellent but it usually took too long to arrive. This meant that a couple of times we had to leave before we were finished to get to a tour or activity. We had dinner in the Vista Restaurant most of the time and the food and service was generally good although some servings were rather small and the soups were very salty. We enjoyed the menus for the Gala Nights. We had dinner in The Pinnacle Grill a couple of times, once for Le Cirque. While the food and service was excellent, we found Le Cirque rather underwhelming as there was no special ambience, the only difference to the normal Pinnacle experience was different china and a different menu. We missed the chocaholics spread that we had enjoyed on Volendam. The activities were many and varied. Our favourites were the daily trivia quizzes run by the excellent Cruise Director and his assistant, and the BB King Blues Club. The band was excellent and added new numbers each day to keep their shows varied. Although we are in our late 60's we enjoy dancing to the hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s and were disappointed that there wasn't a DJ to get things moving in the Northern Lights Lounge which is set up as a disco. The Assistant Cruise Director played records for a short time, but there was no commentary and no atmosphere. We enjoyed the coffees in the Explorations Cafe. We missed the presence of a librarian and of the library trivia quizzes and NY Times crosswords that we had enjoyed on the Volendam. It seems that the cruise line's owners are cutting down on staff and services to the detriment of passengers. Although the weather was not good in NZ we were happy that no ports were missed and enjoyed our time ashore. We were particularly pleased that the ship sailed into Milford Sound despite rough seas and heavy rain. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We chose this cruise for the itinerary which was very satisfactory. Noordam looks as though she needs a sprucing up, carpeting in hallways has been replaced in some ares but not in others. Our cabin was comfortable, but there were marks ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary which was very satisfactory. Noordam looks as though she needs a sprucing up, carpeting in hallways has been replaced in some ares but not in others. Our cabin was comfortable, but there were marks on the wall paper and the carpet. The verandah door whistled, and the outside lock plate was corroded enough so that it wasn't in place. We were disappointed in the Main dining room, the food was much less satisfactory than on our previous Noodam trip which of course had a different chef. Portion sizes were inconsistent, on roast beef nights (and why have these two days in a row?) portions were enormous, but other entries were tiny, such as the scallops. It was summer on our trip, why serve parsnips, cauliflower, which are winter vegetables? A lot of the sauces were far too salty. This was advertised as a 27 day cruise, and there was not enough variety in the food for that long a period. This trip none of the entertainment appealed to us except for Adagio. Offerings of on board activities were much less interesting than we had previously had on other cruises. The worst was "How to tie a sarong" given by someone who had to borrow sarongs from the audience in order to give a presentation, it was very poor. Service from crew was excellent, but occasionally slow from the wine stewards in dining room. Ports were very interesting, we would have liked longer in Tauronga. Ship shore excursions were very expensive, the same thing could be arranged on shore for much less. We liked the Ports that had shuttle services available, especially Napier. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
This was our first cruise so was not sure what to expect. Had a great time. My favorite on board activity was the computer classes given by Toni. He did windows 10, Cortana, edge, photo gallery, cameras, internet security and was very ... Read More
This was our first cruise so was not sure what to expect. Had a great time. My favorite on board activity was the computer classes given by Toni. He did windows 10, Cortana, edge, photo gallery, cameras, internet security and was very informative. The food was delicious. We found ourselves eating in the lido as it was faster and had the same food but more variety. The dining room took 2 hours for a meal. Felt like the service in the vista dining room was not good. Did not clear dishes in a timely manner nor did they keep water glasses full. We did our own shore excursions as the the ship ones seemed expensive. The shore excursion desk of course=rse was promoting the ship's excursion but I felt like they tended to make you think you could not find anything just winging it off the ship. Ex: on one of the small islands was told their was not much in the way of tours or independent drives. When got there, there were plenty. This happened more than once. Boarding and leaving was very efficient. Did have a problem with the port in Sydney that was not the main port. We docked and to get anywhere to start sightseeing, it cost $16 ferry ride or taxi ride. Think the ship should have provided some sort of transport to a central area. I could have done with less nice clothes as we ate mostly in the Lido. Did some shore excursions via Viator. Most were very good. Seemed like the smaller ports had more set ups to help us find tours and were more organized. Could have just waited to get a tour in those smaller ports. This itinerary is really two cruises put together and thus some of the entertainment was repeats. Even in the summer, New Zealand can be chilly. I threw in my long johns just in case and ended up wearing them a lot as we cruised the fiords and on the deck of the ship. The gym on the ship was great. Was crowded the first couple days and then thinned out. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
I'm 66 and retired and I don't usually cruise during school holidays for obvious reasons but this year choose the Noordam in early January around New Zealand and with the hope that not many kids would be on board. There ... Read More
I'm 66 and retired and I don't usually cruise during school holidays for obvious reasons but this year choose the Noordam in early January around New Zealand and with the hope that not many kids would be on board. There weren't many and they were mostly well behaved. Not like some cruises lines that encourage a few too many of them. I traveled alone and thoroughly enjoyed myself on this cruise. Its my 5th cruise with HAL and it won't be my last. Cabin was quiet and restful. I had nice quiet neighbours besides, above and below me.. Dining was well up to expectation. Lido for Breakfast and Lunch, Vista Dining Room for early anytime dining. Service staff in all areas of the ship were just wonderful.10/10 I did not feel the need for Specialty Dining but I heard it was great value and memorable. The entertainment was a bit sad. From a lack lustre Cruise Director down to the hoofers in the theatre. Seen it all, heard it all over and over and over again during my many cruises. Sorry to say, time for a re-invention. Did not use HAL's shore excursions. On shore the same thing is much cheaper. Quite good shopping on board and great duty free liquor prices - even if they were in US dollars. I guess Australians are gonna have to get used to the USD being much higher than the AUD again ? Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We chose this cruise as it fitted in with our annual company closedown in January each year, when we must take most of our annual holiday leave. The price was great for this peak holiday time in Australia. Both the embarkation and ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it fitted in with our annual company closedown in January each year, when we must take most of our annual holiday leave. The price was great for this peak holiday time in Australia. Both the embarkation and disembarkation processes ran extremely well, no queues All food was fresh and good quality, with the dining room providing gourmet meals each night. We initially asked for extra vegetables with our meal, thereafter a separate plate of steamed vegetables was automatically provided for our table to share each night. Dining room service was excellent. The free food on the swimming pool deck was welcome, we have cruised with other lines three times & always needed to pay for food outside the dining room & cafeteria. In addition, each day a self-serve Mexican food bar was set up on that deck, enabling us to enjoy tacos & nachos - the pulled beef was yummy! WE dined in the Pinnacle Grill for lunch on two occasions. For an extra US$10 per head for three courses plus tea or expresso coffee, this was most worthwhile. The prawn bruschetta (entree) & seafood in tomato broth (main) were highlights. We were each able to take a 750ml bottle of wine aboard on embarkation, which we could drink in our cabin. To take a bottle to the main dining room incurred a corkage fee of US$18. When we visited a wine region in New Zealand, we were each permitted to take a further bottle aboard for use in the dining room, without incurring the corkage fee. A good move by Holland America. The first sitting for dining was at 5.30pm, which meant we sometimes missed dining there due to still being ashore on port days, or missed viewing the ship's departure from ports as we were in the dining room. In hindsight we would choose the later dining option. Our major gripe was with the cost on internet on board the ship, very expensive. Also quite slow according to those who did use it. Accordingly, we waited for port days to use free wifi at local libraries or cafes. However, in NZ this was not always satisfactory as it appears they are still using 3G, at times we were unable to read incoming emails & text messages, & most times could not send emails, although text messages were fine. The entertainment on board was first class, ranging from an in-house band, in-house singers & dancers, to guest comedians, musicians, & singers. There were a variety of classes especially on sea days, including a unique series of computer classes dealing with all aspects of Windows 10, & also several computer Q & A sessions .Everyone found these classes very helpful. Other activities included cooking demonstration, DIY cocktails, galley tour, fitness classes, health & beauty talks, excursion previews, just to name a few. We didn't take any ship organised excursions, mainly due to cost. As we travelled with another couple, we hired cars at two ports to travel further afield, & noticed other groups especially families, did this as well. One excursion I saw advertised privately online prior to the cruise for NZ$50 (Napier town tour 1 hr), yet the ship charged US$69 for exactly the same tour, with the same company, which was double the price (taking into account the exchange rate). This is something cruise ships need to look at closely, to encourage more use of their own shore excursions. For the cost of our cruise, we would definitely sail with Holland America again! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We sailed on the Noordam with our two teenagers leaving Sydney on the 4th January. It was spectacular leaving from White Bay as the ship had to wait for the tide to drop; so we could sail under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was amazing to ... Read More
We sailed on the Noordam with our two teenagers leaving Sydney on the 4th January. It was spectacular leaving from White Bay as the ship had to wait for the tide to drop; so we could sail under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was amazing to sail past the iconic Opera house and coastline. The boarding process was very quick, no wait time and staff were friendly and welcoming. We had a balcony cabin 6012 for ourselves and the teenagers had an interior cabin adjacent. The cabins were tiny by comparison to other ships we have been on, however they were extremely clean and our cabin stewards Judtih and Zon were amongst the best we have experienced. Nothing was too much trouble and their service was discreet and helpful. Yes, the decor and the furniture in the cabins is worn never the less, it was still pleasant. We chose this cruise for the itinerary and it did not disappoint. The opportunity to circumnavigate the South and North Islands of New Zealand was one not to be missed. There are only two tender ports Akaroa and Waitangi so exploring on your own without the need of ship shore excursions is possible. Shore excursions were expensive and to be honest if travelling in a family or group car hire is a more affordable option with destinations easy to get to. E.g. Rotarua is an easy 1 hour drive as is Hobbiton nearby. Food on board was quite good. Plenty of variety between the buffet and the dining room. The Pinnacle Grill is worth every cent. We cruise quite often on NCL so I do have to make a comment about the price point of this cruise. In terms of value for money NCL offers a far superior product. Gratuities were extra once on board the Noordam adding a hefty $750 US to the on board bill. By comparison the NCL suite product we access often offers free speciality dining, drinks, reduced guest rates, pre paid gratuities, free shore excursions, free wifi all inclusive. So when we added up our cruise fares, gratuities, drinks, specialty dining etc a penthouse on the NCL would have been cheaper. But they don't offer this itinerary, yet! Overall, we enjoyed the ship. Public areas are clean, staff are friendly (Toni Barillo - pool bar and Casino Bar) was exceptional. Entertainment was disappointing compared to NCL. If booking for the itinerary only you will enjoy it! If you want a 'bang for buck' value cruise this isn't it. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We like the size of the ship as well as the ports. We were pleased with our choice. We had a balcony room that gave us some added space. The rooms are not overly fancy, but comfortable. The ship is beginning to show some wear and tear ... Read More
We like the size of the ship as well as the ports. We were pleased with our choice. We had a balcony room that gave us some added space. The rooms are not overly fancy, but comfortable. The ship is beginning to show some wear and tear but overall, in good shape. Food was plentiful and we really enjoyed the salad bar where you could have your salad made to order. Room service for breakfast was prompt and hot. Dining room service was awesome! We purchased the beverage package and found the biggest draw back was that you couldn't use it in your room and you could only order one drink at a time. We would have enjoyed being able to enjoy our balcony with more than one drink at a time. Cost wise, well, we didn't come out ahead, but it was convenient. There is a $12.50 charge, per person a day, automatically added to your bill as a gratuity. Also all drinks have a 15% charge added automatically to your tab. This adds up real quick, especially if you have tipped staff previously. We didn't book tours with the ship because we found the cost was very high. We booked all our New Zealand tours through Zealander Tours and saved a bundle. Not only was it less expensive, the tours were much smaller and allowed for more interaction with the wonderful guides. We also found that getting help from the staff as to what to do or what to see as an independent traveller was impossible. We cruised for close to 30 days and did use their laundry service. $20 a bag was totally worth it! Quick and folded and hung! Entertainment was pretty good. The group that does their productions did very well. There was and awful ventriloquist from Japan! The Australian "Michael Buble" was awesome as were the other special entertainers. As for other night life, it is pretty quiet. The outside pool area is nice as is the interior pool. The spa is overly expensive and I didn't find it worth going to. The gym is small and there is a surcharge for many activities. The front desk was a bit rude and really didn't help, although they do have "smile training". We had some issues with our bill and it took a number of visits to the front desk to fix. For "our convenience" they made us come down as we were departing the ship, even though we had been ensured that it would be fixed on our final bill. If you have cruised before, you know it isn't "convenient" at all to wait in line on the last day of a cruise. The room stewards work so hard to make sure that your room is looked after. They even supplied us with beach towels for our beach stops! The internet is awful! Very slow and very expensive. It takes so long to even get a connection that you are out $5.00 without even doing anything. We found free wi-fi sights at most ports in New Zealand and did without on the tiny islands. We would travel with Holland America again, we just wish that the nickle and diming in charges would stop. 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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