28 Holland America Noordam Cruise Reviews

I booked a 10 night Holland America Western Mediterranean cruise on the Noordam for five people after having enjoyed a 10 night Eastern Mediterranean cruise in August 2007 on Celebrity. What a mistake to change from a quality service ... Read More
I booked a 10 night Holland America Western Mediterranean cruise on the Noordam for five people after having enjoyed a 10 night Eastern Mediterranean cruise in August 2007 on Celebrity. What a mistake to change from a quality service -oriented cruise line like Celebrity to the hostile, servile experience on HAL! The booking was made through the same internet agency I have used successfully for the past six cruises I have taken on Disney and Celebrity. I also booked hotel stays in Rome prior to and after the cruise on my own. The hotel Ponte Sisto in rome is a delightful boutique hotel across from the Trasteverre section of Rome. The service there is excellent and the rooms are very pampering. Last year our experience with Celebrity was wonderful. Unfortunately, this summer I chose a cruise which embarked from and returned to Rome with the intention of visiting Mallorca, a stop only HAL offered among cruiselines I considered. As luck would have it, the Mallorca stop was cancelled prior to the start of the cruise, but after airfares had been purchased for five, as well as hotel reservations, and vacation schedules had been set. Malta was substituted as the stop instead.( Malta was actually one of the nicest ports we visited on the cruise.) The problem was the service offered by HAL , not the itinerary. It began aboard ship with the lifeboat drill. Understanding that the drill is a necessary evil of all cruises, we were ready for the hopefully brief interlude prior to dinner and relaxing. Instead we were herded onto the deck in oppressive heat and told to huddle together with women and children in front, men in back, while the unintelligible crew attempted to pronounce surnames with very limited success. The Captain of the ship announced that the passengers were too noisy and that he had never been forced to make three requests for quiet in the past. Further, he announced, we passengers would stand on the deck until we became quiet enough for his satisfaction. A mutiny nearly ensued at this time. Never before had I witnessed such complete lack of crew training or control by the ship's officers. The inability to smoothly deliver service to the passengers was demonstrated again and again on the cruise. The luggage belonging to one of my sons was not delivered to his room prior to dinner. He was "invited " by the crew to search the storage room himself for the missing piece. At dinner, due to the lack of long trousers ( in the missing luggage) my son ( and therefore my entire party) were denied entry into the dining room, causing a retreat to the casual dining alternative. That option proved hopeless due to the requirement that we chose a dinner entree prior to being seated and the complete lack of service by the waiters who were clearly in training while working in the cafeteria style setting. Drinks were served only after long waits, entrees arrived before any other course, and mixed drinks contained an imperceptible level of alcohol. The night was not yet over because the bed in the children's cabin failed to open, requiring my husband to supervise the crew's attempts at 10:30 pm to open the bed. An officer was called to the cabin and she refused to answer a request as to how long it would take to arrange a place for my daughter to sleep until 30 more minutes had passed. She, as well as every crew member and officer on the ship, was required to ascertain from a superior what to do , often requiring a "report" to be made at a designated time through multiple layers of bureaucracy. HAL did attempt to apologize for the bedding gaffe by sending a plate of chocolate covered fruit to our cabin, but the pate was infested with insects. Our cabin, a guaranteed inside (we had been upgraded on previous Celebrity and Disney ships) was the smallest cabin I have ever occupied. It was comfortable enough , and the bed was excellent. I also found the ability to use the fore deck on the ship quite convenient, and I was often alone on the deck in the early morning for viewing of the entry into ports. It is a nice feature of the ship. The ocean view cabin used by my children was awkwardly arranged, not allowing for entry to the bathroom from the bed on the far side of the cabin due to the lack of space around the second bed (which was finally opened by the crew) for my daughter by the second day of the cruise. The public rooms were fine, but the central atrium staircase was virtually always roped off from use by passengers. The crow's nest on the top deck did offer a nice room in which to view the water and the gym's position on the front of the ship was pleasant, though not as large as the fitness centers on Celebrity's Mercury or Galaxy, nor the Disney Wonder or Magic. The dining room was crowded but we were able to obtain a reserved table overlooking the ship's wake and the dining service there was very good. I do not recommend the as you wish dining choice, however, because lines were often formed at the dining room entry at popular dining times. The entertainment was typical for cruise ships in general ( although much lower quality than the Disney shows), a magician stands out as one of the better night's entertainment. The dancers were subpar for the most part, with only one Broadway caliber dancer, and the singers were average. However, a session with the performers and backstage crew was a nice option in which to ask questions about the experience of appearing as a performer on the ship, which my daughter enjoyed. In addition a lecture by an expert on Carthage was extremely informative. The excursions were ho-hum, compared with those offered last year by Celebrity. We booked a private guide in Florence and Pisa who was spectacular (Guido Sarzani) but the HAL -provided guides were not very exciting. The HAL staff uniformly irritated passenger, including a very abrupt excursion office person who snapped" your bus number is on your sticker" to a passenger who asked for her assistance in line on the way to the buses at one port and declined to answer a question from another passenger at the excursion desk without the provision of the passengers keycard. ( This after the passenger had waited in the invariably long line to get the "service" of the desk.) The internet cafe promised a nice feature, NYTimes crossword puzzles on tables under glass upon which passengers could write with grease pencils. Unfortunately, and it seems predictably, the cafe had no such pencils with which to do the puzzles. Also, the internet was agonizingly slow to non- existent even after the exorbitant prices were paid for access. This was the source of many complaints overheard at the main desk . I was so disillusioned by the experience on HAL I am not sure I will ever choose to take another cruise. Members considering HAL as an alternative to Celebrity should think very carefully before taking the chance I did on a cruiseline which, on the surface seemed comparable. Only the price was comparable, if not slightly more expensive, for a decidedly worse experience. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
First I would like to say my husband and I love to cruise. We've been on 8 other cruises. We've been on Carnival, Princess and RCCL. We tried HAL because it's one of the few that leaves from NY in the winter months. I'm ... Read More
First I would like to say my husband and I love to cruise. We've been on 8 other cruises. We've been on Carnival, Princess and RCCL. We tried HAL because it's one of the few that leaves from NY in the winter months. I'm sorry to say we should have stayed home! HAL was so bad all around that I wanted to be a stow away on another cruise ship in one of the ports! EMBARKATION; This went smoothly after the cruise before came in late because of a storm. This was not HAL's fault. Once we started boarding it went quickly. When we had to do our safety drill that was the first encounter with VERY SARCASTIC crew members. Quite a few of them had given nasty answers to simple questions. Activities; They had your usual pool games and I was told that were lucky because this ship had quite a few younger people to play these games! I'd say maybe 20% of the people were under 60 yrs. old. They had Bingo and really not much else. The shops were small, the casino was small, The pool area was also small. There was only 2 pools. SHORE EXCURSIONS; They had a selection of things to do but we found everything a little pricey. We just went our own way. Before I write any more I would like to say after 2 days we started noticing things were being put away. No salt & pepper shakers on the tables, the shops were roped off except for 1 way in and 1 way out. Purell being put in more places. After another day or so the Captain finally came on to tell us that about 21 people have a GI virus and they are trying to contain it so it doesn't spread any further. Next we were not allowed to touch anything in the Lido. We were handed our silverware, our trays, our food. We could not even make our own coffee.Everything was saranwraped off so we could not get to anything. WE totally understand and did not want to get sick but after a while it was frustrating. All the crew was helping out all over the ship so the dishes piled up on the Lido deck and also after Dinner in the restaurant. After another 2 days the Captain let us know that about 40 people and a few crew members were sick. Never once did he say it was the NORO Virus. We were not kept well informed. WE were actually told not to use the public restrooms and to go back to our cabins! Not always convenient. SERVICE:  Giving that most of the staff was helping to serve food and follow people with purell, the service was not so great. You really couldn't even find a bartender at the pool! The dishes piled up on tables and it just wasn't cleaned as other cruises we've been on. I do have to say our cabin steward was great. Our cabin was very clean everyday he even kept the balcony clean. DINING:  This was the worst food I've ever eaten on a cruise. They tried to be too fancy and ended up with food that had no taste except salt. I do not eat meat and there wasn't a big choice for me. At least they had salmon on the menu everyday. My husband does eat meat and sometimes had no choice but to eat a steak because there was nothing that even sounded good. I was very happy on lobster night finally, so I ordered 2 tails because it's really surf & turf and I could not believe 1 tail was black. I called the waiter over and was told that's no good don't eat it and it took him about 16 minutes to bring me another one. We tried the Pinnacle Grill one night at $30. pp you would think It would be great, another disappointment. My scallops were not fully cooked and neither was my husbands steak. He sent it back to cook and by the time it came back everything else was cold. The waitress also insulted my sister in law who ordered a porterhouse. The waitress said low that no women ever order that large of a steak. But we heard her!! We complained again and them we were called to the Restaurant Mgr. office. His name was Darrin Lewis. The rudest man I've ever met. After an interrogation we were finally refunded our money. Also My husband drinks Coors Lite and every can was out of date. The Lido, on quite a few occasions ran out of cheese for the pizza, they ran out of coffee cups & teaspoons for breakfast! ENTERTAINMENT; This was poor. It would have been better to watch a kindergarten class. The usual newlywed game was funny and one comedian, Don Ware, was very funny. The only reason he even was on this ship was because of the writers strike. He should have been on every night. All and all you had to entertain your self! DISEMBARKMENT; This was nice because we were allowed to stay in our cabins and wait. This was a great idea and ran very smooth. SUMMARY; We finally found out that well over 100 people and crew members were sick and the CDC finally called it the NORO Virus. I called HAL when we got home to complain and was told if I had a lot of complaints I should E-Mail. I did. 2 times. No response. I tried to call ,was told to leave a message someone would get back to me. No one did. Finally I got someone on the phone and was told they are 3 to 4 weeks behind. That tells me I'm not the only one out there that will not sail HAL ever again!!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
Embarkation- The embarkation in New York was very smooth. The previous cruise got in late to New York due to bad weather and we still were able to board before 1:00. Overall Experience- I am writing the review as a warning to others with ... Read More
Embarkation- The embarkation in New York was very smooth. The previous cruise got in late to New York due to bad weather and we still were able to board before 1:00. Overall Experience- I am writing the review as a warning to others with children thinking of booking a Holland America Cruise - I would seriously reconsider. We were booked on a Easter Holiday cruise, where 450 kids were expected on board. The kids club was less then adequate for this number. They have a policy that children over 8 must be allowed to sign themselves out or they must be with the 5 -7 year olds. This allows for children to roam all over the ship while their parents think they are at the kids club. The ship was completely out of control, especially for the several at sea days. Our cruise experienced vandalism, fire alarms being pulled and general misbehavior of kids everywhere. My son is 11 and has been on 8 cruises and would not go to the kids club, due to the age inappropriate activities. They group ages 8-12 together and the activities are geared for 8 year olds. Families were thrown off the ship at ports after kids were caught misbehaving. The balance of the guests were seniors who have no patience for kids and were annoyed that they were on the ship. This causes additional issues. They sit and complain about the children everywhere and you feel very unwelcome. Our cruise also experienced 1 senior who needed to be helicoptered off the ship. This delayed up by 8 hours and caused us to miss the first port. They of course needed to do this, but they did not compensate in any way for this to the other passengers. We were given 1 hour extra in St Thomas, but all this did was delay us the next day and cause further problems. Dining- The food was good, but the service was horrible. We were shocked since we expected service similar to Celebrity, but it would barely match a Carnival experience. Waiters were not friendly, helpful or attentive. This could be the result of the overbooking, but certainly not an excuse. They did not make us feel welcome or go out of the way ever. Pinnacle Grill was ok, we went twice. Menu is a bit odd. Filet is good, Rib Steak is terrible and had to be sent back. Service was very good. Dress code was not enforced this week for some reason and shorts were allowed at dinner and lunch. You could tell the staff just did not care anymore since this trip was a disaster. Lido Buffet was good, however breakfast lines can be very long due to egg stations in the middle of the buffet lines. Drinks - Holland America does not offer an unlimited soda card as other cruise lines do. The card is 20.00 for 20 sodas. It is annoying and if you lose them as kids do, they do not replace. The drinks are filled with ice and each refill is another punch on the card. They do not offer punch or other drinks that kids would like with dinner or other meals. We brought our own soda on from some of the islands and this helped Front Desk Staff- They were less then knowledgeable about Islands or any issues that you went to them with. Excursion Desk - The excursion desk is run by a group of idiots. They do not know the excursions. They are completely un helpful and give out mis information. We arrived in Dominica late and had to chase our excursions. They did not wait as other cruise lines do for the group. My husbands Scuba diving boat left without him and another guest. They did not call ahead to tell Dive company that we were running 1 hour or so late. Sheldon excursion manager was nasty, and completely unhelpful. He said that he did not speak english when he clearly did to others. I would seriously recommend skipping most excursions and sticking with cabs, cheaper and better in all cases. Pool - Getting a lounge chair by the family pool was impossible. People got up at 6:30 a.m. and put hats on all chairs and then did not show up until later in the day. They do not enforce the policy of not saving chairs. It was incredibly frustrating since we had 4 days at sea going down, due to a passenger getting ill and needing to be helicoptered off. The chair situation was just as awful going back to NY. The pool had no activities for families and the band rarely played. It was more like a nursing home experience then a cruise. Entertainment - The entertainment was very good. They had magic, comedians and a juggler. All were very good . I would not recommend this cruise to anyone under the age of 60. This is an old folks cruiseline and they want to keep it that way. They do not respect families and their are much better options out there. Save your money and your sanity and book Disney, Royal Caribbean or Princess. Your kids will have fun, and you will relax and not need to worry about them as much. Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
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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