Sail Date: August 2011
The cruise, in my mind, was an A. The ports were splendid; the crew members were top notch; entertainment was pretty good; and the food was excellent. The only downside is that this boat is beginning to show it's age. The maiden ... Read More
The cruise, in my mind, was an A. The ports were splendid; the crew members were top notch; entertainment was pretty good; and the food was excellent. The only downside is that this boat is beginning to show it's age. The maiden voyage was in early 20006 and I understand that these lovely ladies of the sea take a beating but there were some items that were less than appealing. Broken A/C that took forever to fix... in 95 degree heat that stinks. And it never really performed well the entire time. Shower stall wasn't really clean. Had to point out to get cleaned. Many wear and tear marks throughout the ship. I was a bit startled when the cruise director told us they just did a major upgrade on her recently... thank goodness cuz I wonder what it looked like before. So I may be a bit picky but for what we paid I was a little let down. Would I recommend this ship to others? YES... but it would be qualified. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
Holland America's 10-day western Mediterranean is a port intensive cruise that takes you to eight ports and six countries (Italy, Vatican, Monaco, France, Spain, Tunisia). The ship is a wonderful way to travel the Med. HAL tries to ... Read More
Holland America's 10-day western Mediterranean is a port intensive cruise that takes you to eight ports and six countries (Italy, Vatican, Monaco, France, Spain, Tunisia). The ship is a wonderful way to travel the Med. HAL tries to bring you to as many ports as possible, for as long as possible each day. It succeeds! Perhaps it was too successful. We found ourselves wishing for an extra day at sea to relax, recharge and enjoy the ship. This cruise only has one sea day. We splurged on one of those large aft balconies that wrap around the room on deck 7. We opted for a Deluxe Verandah Suite (SB) that entitled us to many extra benefits, which may have been a mistake for such a port intensive cruise. We didn't take advantage of many of the benefits (special suite guest luncheons, parties), because we were so busy in port. However, if you like to spend time on the balcony, this was an incredible luxury. We fit 15 people on the verandah for a Cruise Critic sail away party the first night. We would enjoy a nightcap in our bathrobes and watch the sun rise some mornings. A note of warning, these balconies do not offer complete privacy. They have slanted roofs, so people on decks above can see part of your deck. We had a small problem with trash blowing down from the pool deck, but nothing major. The two sided balcony meant we always had a spot in the shade on the warm afternoons. The cabin was large, although smaller, inside, than other SB cabins. They give you the extra balcony space, but take it away from the inside. We still had plenty of room. The bed was quite comfortable, as was the pull-out couch. There was plenty of storage space for three. We packed four large suitcases, and could not use all of the cabinets. Suitcases fit easily beneath the bed. This room comes with a nice bar, which we took advantage of. We pre-ordered several bottles of liquor and wine. The stewards made sure we had plenty of ice and clean glasses. The bathroom had double sinks, a shower and a whirlpool tub. I used it several mornings. The Neptune Lounge, which is reserved for suite guests, has a constant variety of snacks and beverages available in a quiet club-like setting from 7:30a-8:30p. The two concierges knew our names within the first day and always greeted us with a friendly smile. We used their services to book spa treatments and dinner reservations, exchange dollars to euros, and order hoers d'oeuvres for parties on that gigantic balcony of ours. I can't say enough about how nice Reyan and Doris were. One benefit of the suite life we took advantage of often was breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill. This is the ship's upscale steakhouse. It serves breakfast to suite guests in a relaxed setting. The menu is the same as in the Vista Dining Room (MDR). The service was far superior. We ate dinner at the Pinnacle twice. The food and service are comparable to any fine steakhouse in the USA. Just as in the MDR, you can order as many appetizers, soups, salads, as you wish. BUT I suggest you save room for those steaks! Well worth the $20pp surcharge. We found service in the MDR a bit lacking this cruise. The food was great and the variety wonderful. However, service was slow. We missed shows the first three nights because we did not leave the MDR until close to 10:30. Show time is 10:00 for late seating. When I brought it to our waiter's attention, he apologized. He said he had a high maintenance table of nine that included one woman who loved to complain to ships officer, who was dining with them on formal nights. Service improved dramatically, once we explained we wanted time to see the shows. There are three formal nights on this cruise, so if you want to dress up, you'll have plenty of nights to shine. For planning purposes, our formal nights were after Monaco, the sea day, and after Sicily. Lunch in the Lido was great. We'd head there around 2:30 on port days for a lunch. Salads, burgers, pasta, and remarkably fresh fish. They do shut down late afternoon. One day we got back on board and settled for pizza and pasta. The demographics on this cruise skew to the older side. By that, I mean over 70. Much of the entertainment was geared to those folks. The comedian was funny, but G-Rated. The piano player in the piano bar loved tunes from the 50s & 60s. The feature singer knew all the OLD songs. There was a cute act, featuring dueling violinists. I'm not complaining about the entertainment. Just letting you know what to expect. I thought the shore excursions were also skewed to older folks. There were not enough active excursions for our family. We booked a lot of private tours. On board asctivities were also a little geriatric for my taste. I don't want this to sound like I'm bashing the cruise line. I'm not. I'm just telling you wnat to expect so you can plan. That much said, there were 90 teenagers (13-17 year-olds) on board and the teen director Jeremy rocked! I suspect many of those teens managed to sneak into the Northern Lights Disco when it opened at 10:00pm. I saw a lot of young faces the night I visited. Overall, my daughter (17-years-old) had a blast. The casino was decent, and never crowded. We actually won a couple hundred bucks. Nice array of slots, craps, roulette, video Texas hold 'em, and blackjack. Be careful, they have several blackjack tables that feature funky variations. My daughter had a massage, hair-do, facial and pedicure in the Greenhouse Salon. She liked the massage so much, she opted for a second one! It's the first time, ever on a cruise, I spent more on spa services than anything else! I settled for using the gym five mornings. There were plenty of aerobic machines available with TV screens to watch the tube. I preferred to look out the windows at the horizon. Decent variety of weight machines too. They offer chilled had towels after your workout, which was a great way to end a workout. The ships photographers were not intrusive, as on other ships. We usually buy several photos. They were expensive. The $39.99 sheet included a couple of wallet size, 5x7 and 8x11. We found so many photos we liked, we sprung for a $299 package that gives you every photo of you taken on board. My daughter took advantage and will have plenty of Holiday photos to give out. We literally walked off the ship with 100+ photos. We used the aft pool, which is supposed to be for adults only. The ship does not enforce this policy. However, the few children who used the pool were supervised by their parents and well behaved. Summing up, the Noordam is a clean comfortable ship. The staff is friendly and efficient. You will see a lot of Europe in 10 days. You will probably not see as much of the ship as you may want to. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
My wife and I sailed HAL Noordam through the eastern Mediterranean May 21-31, 2011. Ports of call included Dubrovnik, Corfu, Olympia, Santorin, Kusadasi/Ephesus, Athens and Messina. It was our first cruise on HAL, 4th cruise overall. ... Read More
My wife and I sailed HAL Noordam through the eastern Mediterranean May 21-31, 2011. Ports of call included Dubrovnik, Corfu, Olympia, Santorin, Kusadasi/Ephesus, Athens and Messina. It was our first cruise on HAL, 4th cruise overall. All in all, we give highest marks to the room, the crew who invariably were friendly and considerate and the ports of call. We opted for the superior veranda stateroom which offered room to move around, a king sized bed, reasonable sized bathroom including small Jacuzzi and, of course, the outside veranda. Less good was the food which was not overly special, even in the dining room. The Lido eating area on the top deck, which was open throughout the day, was cafeteria-like, and an absolute mess in the morning for breakfast, particularly if there were early morning tour departures. Biggest gripe was a sense of HAL 'nickling and diming' throughout the cruise. I don't think that it is unreasonable to offer soft drinks at meals. But on Noordam, everything other than water, coffee and lemonade costs extra. Wine at meals was priced upwards of 3x retail. I guess you don't mind if you're a teetotaller. If you're not, be sure to read about Dubrovnik option below. Also, internet access on board is satellite-driven so slow, and very expensive. Don't plan to do much internet browsing on board unless you've got a bottomless checking account. Tours were very expensive and a mixed bag. We opted to go our own in Dubrovnik, Croatia which was a fun walkabout in the walled city. Also, there is a major food store just outside the controlled area at dockside where you can stock up on snacks, soft drinks, wine, liquor and mixers to avoid the ridiculous prices on board ship (see above). Corfu: We opted for the ship's tour to Paleokastritsa & Corfu Town which turned out to be a bust. Instead, take the shuttle to Corfu and spend the day walking the city. That is what we ended up doing and that made the stop worthwhile. And if you are a senior you can access one of the town's two fortresses for only 2 Euro which includes access to a lovely WC and cafe and 360 degree views over the harbor and city. Olympia: Olympia turned out to be a sleeper high point of the trip. Be sure to visit the museum on site when you are there. Santorini: Crowds, crowds and more crowds. You can take the tram directly form the port up to Thira and avoid paying the price of the tour. But, the distance from Thira to Oia, the other urban highpoint on the island, probably means signing up for the tour. We were in port until 9PM so in principle there was time to walk to Oia from Thira and back but it would have been a stretch. Kusadasi: Ephesus was one of two primary targets of the cruise. We contracted with Osman Tourism (www.aboutephesus.com) for a private tour. It actually was cheaper than a ship's tour and provided quicker access to and a much more detailed tour of the site and the home of the Virgin Mary - important because of crowds. Be prepared to be sold Turkish carpets at the end of every tour. Leave your credit cards on board unless you are prepared to purchase a carpet. They are very persuasive. Athens: Athens was the other primary target so we also contracted with a local driver through Nikos Loukas (nikosloukas1@gmail.com). This option also proved to be very worthwhile, though expensive. In our case, we encountered a previously unannounced strike downtown so having a guide who knew city streets was really helpful. Drivers cannot guide in the various sites so read up ahead of time unless you want to pay extra for a guide. Be sure to see the new Acropolis Museum. Messina: Didn't know what to expect in Messina so took the tour to the Tindari Ruins and the Santuario della Madonna Nera Church. The tour was quite educational and fun. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
My wife and I have sailed with HAL several times and have enjoyed them. We were on the Noordam when she first came out and had a great time. This cruise was not good from day one. Embarkation: Was a disaster. According to HAL officials, ... Read More
My wife and I have sailed with HAL several times and have enjoyed them. We were on the Noordam when she first came out and had a great time. This cruise was not good from day one. Embarkation: Was a disaster. According to HAL officials, we were embarking at a pier that HAL does not usually use. The Gang Plank was not steady, so only a few people at a time could embark. Also the computer that reads room keys was not fully functioning so again this limited how many people could embark at one time. We waited over two hours to embark. Lido Buffet: Once on board everyone went to get lunch. The buffet was utter chaos. Due to preventative measures we were not allowed to get our own drinks or food. This went on for three days. Patience and nerves were strained already. This was supposed to be a vacation. Food Quality and Service: It seems that HAL is cutting back a lot. There were not enough waiters and busboys in the Vista Dining room. They are also having a hard time adjusting to Dine anytime. The food was cold and the servings very small. We waiting for entrees for an hour on several occasion's. Even during a mariners luncheon which we are part of was terrible. We waited an hour for our meal, which was a set menu ! This is not the HAL that we had sailed on previously. Entertainment and activities: The production shows were good and they had some good comedians and singers. The Noordam singers and dancers were good they work very hard. But the shows were the same ones as three years ago. Could they get some new shows ? Cabins: We were in a SS cabin. The size was good. But the ship is starting to show its age. Stains on the carpet grout in bathroom was moldy. Drain in tub and sinks did not work. It doesn't seem to be much maintenance being done. I don't think our sheets were cleaned every day. For the money paid we would like to have clean sheets every day. Port of Calls: Saint Maarten, Barbadoes, St. Thomas were good. The others Martinique and St. Lucia terrible. Shore excursion prices expensive. Disembarkation: Another snafu. Delay with luggage at pier so we had to go to color coding which takes longer. Was much better though than embarkation. Summary: It will awhile before we try HAL again. They did not live up to expectations and for the money paid, the value was not there. We were very disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
My wife and I renewed acquaintences with Noordam this April, taking the repo cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Barcelona with a couple of ports along the way. We remembered the Noordam as being a very good ship and quite comfortable. However, ... Read More
My wife and I renewed acquaintences with Noordam this April, taking the repo cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Barcelona with a couple of ports along the way. We remembered the Noordam as being a very good ship and quite comfortable. However, along the way, there has been some serious upgrading. The ship is now exceptional! The Good: Staff of all levels were unfailingly helpful and uniformly friendly - not the "I have to say good morning to you" friendliness that we've seen on some other lines, but a genuine smile that brightens your whole day. This was true even for the young officers manning the Front Office desk, whose job seems to be principally hearing complaints. Boarding was absolutely painless and the new (at least to us) HAL policy of not requiring life jackets to be worn at boat drill made that part of the program a lot easier. Food in the main dining room was terrific. The first formal night (of 3) featured a surf and turf that would rival many 4 star restaurants. And the variety of offerings was such that we never got bored. The restaurant staff were friendly, professional and very good at what they do. The Lido cafe seemed to be a little off this time around - the selections were not very inspiring and they all seemed to be a little tired. However, for grabbing lunch when you're not in the mood for the full Dining Room deal it's fine - you certainly will never starve to death on HAL! The bars continue the wonderful HAL tradition of trotting our hot appetizers around 6:30 at no change, and it's hard to beat a pre-dinner cocktail (or two) in the Crow's Nest. The not so good: On the negative side, I have the distinct impression that they're cutting corners with the size of the shot. I tried several mixed drinks and in none of the could you taste the liquor at all. I think the might be able to do a little better for $6.00 plus/drink. Movies - HAL (at least on the Noordam) has the strangest schedule for showing movies - it changes from day to day, and never seems to make much sense. One day the feature will be at 1:00, 5:00, 7:00, etc., while the next the only showing may be at 10:00PM. Perhaps the most irritating was the showing of Shutter Island (which I really wanted to see) which was only offered for one showing starting at 5:30PM. Not available for those at first sitting for dinner at all, and since this was on a formal night, didn't leave enough time to get ready for the second sitting either. This is just a strange use of resources which seems to follow no rhyme or reason. Also - personal complaint - the free popcorn is horrible. It tastes like is was made in 1952 (although it is obviously freshly made). Either there's a problem with the corn itself or it's the fact that they use no butter, oil, salt, or anything else. Finally, another personal complaint. I know the days of the wonderful HAL packet containing tickets, luggage tags, etc. are long gone, but the idea of the paper luggage tags you get to print out on your own computer and then attach by whatever means you can think up is a bad one. We did it and of course the tags got lost in the transfer from shore to ship, necessitating the running around looking at 'unidentified luggage' that evening. Fortunately the bags made it aboard OK but this is a cost-savings that really works to the detriment of the passenger. Hopefully HAL will re-think this policy. Shore excursions in Spain - While the ship's tours mechanically are fine, the quality of the guides was abysmal. Out of four tours, only one spoke decent English - the other three had such a poor command of English as to be almost entirely unintelligible to all the passengers on the tour. I don't know what the problem is with getting decent bilingual guides in Spain, but HAL obviously has one. Be prepared for this if you sign up for one of the ship's tours. Bottom line - the Noordam is a remarkable ship, and HAL has it running at a standard of excellence which is pretty unusual in this day and age. We have been fans of HAL for a number of years, and this latest cruise only reaffirms that. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
My last cruise before this was a Princess ship to Alaska. As I said, a lot has changed since 1998. The Noordam was bigger and fancier than what I remember of our Princess ship, it was also a lot fuller with guests and staff. Embarkation ... Read More
My last cruise before this was a Princess ship to Alaska. As I said, a lot has changed since 1998. The Noordam was bigger and fancier than what I remember of our Princess ship, it was also a lot fuller with guests and staff. Embarkation was very smooth, we did not have a long wait to get our ID cards nor a long wait to get on the ship. Our first objective once aboard was to get lunch, which seemed to be the idea everyone else had too. Not being familiar with the ship, we went to the Lido Restaurant. It was very crowded with the only available tables next to the isle where people were constantly moving. Our first lunch was less than appealing. It also turns out that the only tour of the ship was offered on our departure day. I was somewhat rudely told that I missed the tour after we were at sea. I should have paid more attention! Our room was an upgrade to a Superior Verandah Suite which had plenty of space. The one thing I noticed right away were all the chairs in our room. There were three chairs, one stool, and one couch for 4 in the room, a table, two chairs and two sit-tees with foot rests on the balcony. Did I mention the coffee table in the room too? We didn't bring enough family to make use of all this furniture. A TV and DVD player were located in the room on a counter that sat at 90 deg to the bed, you could sit on the side of the bed to watch TV or on the couch at a sharp angle but there was no comfortable place to put one of the many chairs to watch tv. I was not comfortable to watch TV while in bed. The cabin staff were friendly and made up the room twice a day. Room service was prompt and friendly, however my breakfast was a little cold. There was always plenty to do on the ship. The entertainment was enjoyable, we had good singers and dancers, a good magician and a great comedian. The entertainment supervisor was good at this job and kept thing moving during the entire cruise. The trivia contest was a lot of fun and held at the same time as 2 for 1 drinks. The best part of the cruise! I found and read a great book in the ships library and read it during the voyage. My wife and I also took an offer to use the spa for 10 days for a price of $199, I thought that was a worthwhile deal. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
This was my 10th cruise but first on HAL. I have traveled with Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Princess previously. We decided to drive to Fort Lauderdale in order to make our trip be more than a cruise as well as being able to bring as much ... Read More
This was my 10th cruise but first on HAL. I have traveled with Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Princess previously. We decided to drive to Fort Lauderdale in order to make our trip be more than a cruise as well as being able to bring as much luggage as we wanted and not be constrained by the airlines. For us the main question was how much was parking going to cost us as well as a hotel. After much searching we spent the night before the cruise at the Hyatt Place North and although our room was $200, it did offer free parking for two weeks as well as a shuttle bus to and from the port. When we arrived, we found that we could have parked at the Park n Go for $12 a night or $10.50 if we were AAA members. They are right by the airport/port and will shuttle you over and back. After looking around for another hotel and finding that they were all sold out, we stayed with our original plan. There was no problem getting the shuttle the next morning, in fact, we met our new friends on the shuttle. We did not print off luggage tags and they were quite easy to get on the curb where we checked our luggage. We proceeded into the building with our travel documents, had our picture taken, given a number and waited for our group to be called. All this by 11:30 AM. All went very smoothly and no effort on our part. We were served juice while we had a short wait for our number. We proceeded onto the boat and immediately went to Lido deck for lunch. We are glad that we did because about 60 minutes later, it was packed and there were no tables to be had inside. We met another couple and decided to make reservations for Pinnacle as well as Canaletto's - the Italian restaurant that is no charge but does require reservations. By 1:30 we were allowed into our rooms. After having read some other reviews, I thought that storage was going to be a problem and it wasn't. All of our closets had shelves in them that could be folded up or down; two large drawers at the foot of our bed, nightstands with two drawers, stool whose lid came off that we used for dirty laundry, two cabinets over the loveseat and a shelf under the sink in the bathroom. I did bring along an alarm clock since I knew from other cruises that there were no clocks in the rooms. We were on the 5th deck, the floor above the lifeboats. We had a lovely view of the sea, sunsets and the ocean in general. Even though we couldn't look directly down into the water I felt safer since I knew that if I fell, I would land on the roof of the lifeboat. The balcony had two chairs and a little table. The room had a hair dryer so I didn't need to bring mine. I did bring a travel size steamer in case my clothes got wrinkle. I also brought extra coat hangers with me - never can have too many. We never saw our room steward and most days our rooms were not made up till after lunch even though we had the tag in our door that our room needed to be serviced. On the days that we were in port, it was not a problem but the at sea days, I would have preferred the room to be made up earlier. I took a tour of the ship and found out about the 3 cooking lessons ($29 each) in the Culinary Arts Center. Since each class was advertised as having only 12, I immediately went to the Front Desk to sign up. The spa services appeared to be very expensive and although I was tempted, I did not get any services. The other family that came with us, she had 3 acupuncture sessions which she said did not help her. I was impressed at how easy it was to navigate the ship. The explorations area where there is Internet, a fantastic library, card rooms was great! So much better than any ship I have been on. Although I never went on the Internet, I was in this area often - a comfortable place to be. We had the early dinner at 5:45 and had asked for a table of 8 (it was on our paperwork) but we found that we were at a table for 4. We were disappointed and thought about changing but once we saw how many older people were on the cruise, we decided to stay where we were. The food was absolutely delicious except for the Pot Roast - don't order it. They always seemed to get the beef just the right degree of being cooked the way that I like it. When we were at sea, we ate breakfast and lunch in the dining room on Deck 2; in port, we ate breakfast in Lido. My husband's favorite breakfast was Eggs Benedict - Scottish style (salmon). Plenty of herring, salmon, etc. At dinner, there was always a vegetarian meal. On Lido , there was an Asian bar with stirfry and sushi, and Italian Pasta section with four different sauces and pasta types, steamship round or whole chicken or ham, etc with potatoes, veggies. At lunch I tried on the their paninis and it was delicious. I loved all the fresh fruit. The fresh machine squeezed orange juice was the best. The only pain was that you had to wait in line for the one server to pour you a glass of water. Some days there were 20 people waiting for water, ice tea or lemonade. There has to be a better way. In the casino, you use your shipboard card. You can either put money into the machine or charge it to your cabin account. Once you were through, you withdrew your winnings through your shipboard card and your money stayed on it till you withdrew it either at the cashier's cage or when you went to another machine. Was confusing at first but I grew to like it quite a bit. Next to the casino was the Piano Bar - you need to go early and get seats. Lee was fantastic, often had request line open and always seemed to engage the crowd. That was one of the highlights for us. Alen, the waitress, was great as well. She was singing along and play acting. She made it fun as well. We also went to the Crow's Nest for Kat and the HAL cats. Great music from the 40's. 50's, 60's and 70's. We were all dancing and kicking up our heels. I hardly ever danced on other ships because it was much more disco and youth oriented and although I am not old (mid 50's) the music was more of what I was used to and loved to dance to. We had many fun nights in the Crow's Nest. Now, back to the cooking lesson that I mentioned earlier. I was very disappointed to find that we had 14 people in our class. Apparently they changed the times of the classes and on the first day, they were not able to reach everyone. The class I took was the second one so we got the overflow of those who didn't get notification early enough. The Party Planner left and we were with the Executive Chef and given recipes. There were no demonstrations and we were left on our own. As you can imagine some women were very bossy and others got left out. I would have liked more structure. The burners on the stove were not working to their full potential and the chicken that was stuffed with banana and prosciutto took forever, particularly since we had to cook 14. Lunch was suppose to be in the Pinnacle Grill and that didn't happen either - we ate in the Culinary Arts Center where we were cooking. Tables were brought in as well as wine for us. Unfortunately since everything took so much longer to cook, we ate later. As we were eating, people came in for the next program. This program had potential but was not executed as well as it could have been. In addition to the paid classes, they also had demonstration classes which were very good. Of particular note, go to the demonstration on the Cinnamon Buns - I am not saying anything else :D Mega trivial pursuit in the afternoons in Crows Nest was always packed and you needed to get there about 20 minutes early in order to get your table and chairs for your team. Cruise Director Mike was great in this game and everything that he did on the cruise. He made it fun. Most days had Bingo for $10,000 up to $100,000 (on the last day) and to win you had to bingo in 46 numbers which is almost impossible. I went the day where you could win a free cruise if you won bingo and guess what - I won it! Actually I tied for it and another gentleman and I had to go into Sudden Death. It was so nerve wracking but I did want you to know that people do win cruises on the cruise. Entertainment, in my mind, is never very good on a cruise boat but this was better than I expected particularly the concert pianist who gave two concerts to standing room only. For shows in the Vista Lounge at 8:00 be warned, you do need to get there early - seats are difficult to come by if you arrive a few minutes before the show. We were not bothered all the time to purchase drinks like we were on other ships. Half Moon Cay - we never made it due to moderate gale winds and choppy waters. Crew came up with things to do during day which were fun. I loved my trip on HAL and can't wait to take my next cruise with them (on them :D. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
This was our second time with HAL, we took our first cruise with them, and this set us up to enjoy cruise holidays.We orginally booked a best ocean view cabin, but we were given a balcony, very nice.  We always have had a balcony cabin, ... Read More
This was our second time with HAL, we took our first cruise with them, and this set us up to enjoy cruise holidays.We orginally booked a best ocean view cabin, but we were given a balcony, very nice.  We always have had a balcony cabin, but we were economising this cruise.  Bathroom was a bit small, and shower felt dark.  There was a small bath.  Plenty of drawer space.  Dressing table was a little small.  Noticed there wasn't as much info on tv as in previous cruises, couldn't book trips or view menu, or access your bill.  So much paper sent to rooms, advertising etc.  Was a daily 'paper' either UK and US.  Balconies ok, but perhaps chairs could be more comfortable.  Had breakfast in room a few times, always arrived on time, and what we asked for.  Was not cleaned one day, but when we told cabin steward was most apologetic. The check in was painless, and our rooms were ready more or less as soon as we boarded, and our cases followed quite soon.  A perfect start to our holiday.We asked for a table for two, second seating which we got.  The  food was excellent.  I  started off missing a course, but I couldn't resist the food.  The waiters were excellent always remembering our names, and any requests we made.  We purchased a five bottle wine package $149 dollars, which we thought a bit steep, but we realised you could purchase house wine for $19 dollars, which I wished we has seen before, as it was ok, unless you are a wine buff.The entertainment was a bit bland, a girl singer with a band, who were quite boring.  They tended to do the sail away parties, but made you feel like jumping over board.  Then there was a male singer with a guitar, who was ok, but always played slow songs, and I think one night I fell asleep listening to him, or was it the cocktails I had just drunk?.  There was a comedian one night who was funny.  We aren't much into the shows, ie, the singers and dancers so I can't comment.  It did tend to be quiet after 10.00pm, but we put it down to people doing the tours during the day.  There seemed to be a lot of card playing groups, and people reading.  We tried to do the 3 laps (1 Mile) around the deck to keep fit most days.  We did put our head in the gym, but never returned.  The spa looked lovely, but I think they are too expensive.The was usually a barbi on deck in the afternoon, you can't resist the smell can you.  The Lido restaurant was good for lunch.  We loved the stir frys.  You were always served your food, so no one came away overloaded, of course you can always go up for seconds!We booked a trip when we docked in Sciliy, which was good, Taomina, with a good view of Mt Etna, and a walk through the town.  The other ports we just got off the ship and walked around.  Pireaus was a pain as the taxi drivers wouldn't  let you alone as you exited the port, if you want a taxi you ask, you don't want to be hounded.  We were warned by friends about Kusadasi, another place they won't leave you alone, so we keep away from the shops, and just wandered along the sea front.  We like being on the ship, when it's docked, as its nice and peaceful.  The trips are quite expensive now, so it adds quite a lot to your billl at the end of your holiday.  We did book a trip on the day we docked back in Rome to kill time, as our flight was  not till 5pm, we were off the ship at 7.15am, and we did see Rome from tnhe coach, which was a marvellous sight, but we were dropped at the airport at 11.30am, so we had a long day.All in all we enjoyed our cruise, I prefer the caribbean ports, as the med one's aren't as pretty.  I can certainly recommed Holland America, but not if you want a rave up at night, try another cruise line, or take up cards. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2008
To start with first impressions:-slow embarking-sterile atmosphere and mainly old passengers-entertainment not suitable for younger age ( disco nearly empty ) .... and all from above was not written by a teenager but a middle age ... Read More
To start with first impressions:-slow embarking-sterile atmosphere and mainly old passengers-entertainment not suitable for younger age ( disco nearly empty ) .... and all from above was not written by a teenager but a middle age personBefore real crising has sterted our 20 years old son reported alergic rush to the medical staff on Noordam ( the first day of the cruise ) skin change looked like rush or insect bites and we were given a cream to treat them and some pills.We enjoyed couple of days cruising, sightseeng, swimming in the top deck pool... After the  follow up visit to the doctor ( when the changes were majorly less visible ) the decision was made to lock the whole family in the cabines so we spent  2 days in carantine with no room service. After arrival to the next port we were submitted to the hospital ( on fake signatures ) as noone felt sick. There we were reffered to the wrong specialist (  cannot believe that doctor on the ship expected dermatologist to establish if we were contageous). we spent  12 hours in the hospital not accompanied by anyone from the ship, with no water of food offered for that time. Lots of visual and blood tests were undertaken although no high temperature was recorded or anyone felt ill. With no tests confirming any medical problem was evident the capetan of Noordam decided to not allow us to continue the cruise and we had to be disembarked in Barcelona and fly back home from there. Even after nearly a year from the event we still cannot beleive the lack of common sence ,profesionalism, etics and lawfullness around the whole event and it is only Noordam top management to be  blamed.. The staff was completely unresponsible not reacting on our first visit in case that something was really not right. No action was taken on the ship for 3 full days!!!! The whole event looks rather like a criminal story but we live too far from Sietle to address it with the authorities.Needless to say that Holland America never got back to us to check up on our helth after we were left in the port of Barcelona in the midle of the night with very little orientation where to be accomodated while waiting for our air tickets to be booked and medical file completealy cleared by hospital that was supprised to see us there at the first place The same hospital issued a bill to one of the USA insurance companies for more than $30000 as a result of the Capetan's expencive exercise. Read Less
Noordam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 0.0
Family 2.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 3.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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