Noordam Cruise Review by Photoslave
- Sail Date: September 2007
- Destination: Alaska
- Cabin Type: Standard Interior Stateroom
Cabin- We booked this is as 3 day sale deal from an online agency so we knew that we were not headed for the finest room on board but we were eventually happy enough with it. Once the beds were separated it made for more space. This room didn't have a window and our only view of the outside came from the TV channel that had bridge and stern cam. We did a Mexico cruise with a veranda and really enjoyed that but rarely left it so I think this room did prompt me personally, to be out and enjoying some of the other parts of the ship. The bathroom was ample, the beds were great and the service was superb as always. Next time I would invest a bit more money for at least a window. I would bet however that our cruise fair combined was probably the price of one in a veranda room so I'm happy enough with how we ended up. I would also like to see them specify which rooms won't even have a sofa or a chair. It was a bit of a surprise not to find either. No big deal, we adjusted but a sofa or a chair is a nice thing.
Food- This is my second Holland America cruise and I think the food is top notch. I don't often get the white glove service at home so I take advantage of the Vista Dining room for many more meals than simply dinner. We had originally hoped for a fixed early dining time and were given a flexible dining plan instead. My first reaction was disappointment but we turned out to enjoy sitting with different people every night. There were 3 bus loads of people from England, Scotland and Wales on board and my Mom (Scottish) enjoyed chatting with many of them. We were able to get a reservation very easily every day and never were turned down for the time we wanted. However I do think the time it takes to eat those meals is longer with this new system because the wait staff is no longer able to use their system for delivery as many parties come in at different times. They used to be able to bring courses for many tables all at once. Now it seems they have to bring different courses at different times. Kudos for them for adapting but I'm sure those kinks will get worked out down the road. The menu was very similar to what we had seen on the Oosterdam in March and it was just as well prepared. One tip I can offer is on the second formal night, when you order the surf and turf, ask for extra surf. They will bring you a plate with two lobster tails. I can't give them a perfect grade completely. We did have one negative experience at breakfast and I hesitate to mention it but to give a fair review I must include it. One morning in the Vista, we were seated at a four top table with a retired couple from California. I and the other gentleman ordered eggs Benedict and it came out cold. We mentioned this to the waiter and he took it away and he placed an order for a second try. However, a few moments later the same waiter came back to the table and said that he tested the temperature himself and disagreed with our assessment. He was very forceful and stern about it and I felt he was a bit out of line. On a ship with 800 crew that all smile and give top notch service 99% of the time I'm willing to look past it but I feel strongly he was out of line disagreeing with us on that. The second order of eggs came and it was still cold so I just gave up and ate in the Lido that morning. In 14 total days (two cruises) of cruising this was the only experience of sub-par service but I feel compelled to report it. Many dishes can stand being cold but Eggs Benedict is not one of them. One other tip- order cappuccino when in the Vista, it's free and they charge for it everywhere else on board.
Entertainment- Made it to two shows and one of the game show nights. All were great but the Elton John guy was the best. I think every review agrees with that rating. I don't know if that guy is going to be so good that he will soon be off the cruise ship circuit. My Mom usually hates the show and she even enjoyed that one. Casino was great as well. I enjoy Texas hold'em and it was a real struggle to get a game going each night but we did a couple of times. Last day, we had a tournament and I was happy to take 1st place. I ended up 560.00 on the trip so that was a great casino experience.
Ports- I have never seen anything as beautiful as Glacier Bay. Although there is no opportunity to get off there the captain does an amazing job of getting the ship so close to the glaciers, you feel as though you can touch them. I almost wish the boat could park there overnight to allow for some dawn and dusk photographs. If I do Alaska again I will look for ones that go there for a couple of days or do more of the scenic cruising. When we arrived at first the fog was very thick and my heart sank that I would have come all this way to photograph fog but it soon cleared and we had the best weather of several sailings, according to a couple of crew members I spoke with.
Juneau- If you like shopping, this is the place. Alaska T-shirt Company was doing the best of all the shops. I'm not big on shopping so we took a public bus to the Glacier and got to see a bit of the not tourist run part of town. Tip- stick to the tourist part of town! Unless you are keen on Wal-Mart and broken down cars. I did buy a pass in the afternoon to go up the tram and felt it was worth it. I did find out that the one pass is good for up and down all day so I probably would have done that earlier, had I known. Amazing views and there were 5 ships in port that day. I also think next time I will save up some money and go for a glacier chopper ride. Everyone I spoke to said it was amazing.
Sitka- One stop light, one 1000 sq ft church and a couple of tourist shops, not my favorite port but my Mother loved it. I didn't do any shore excursions as I found them much more affordable in Mexico but bumming around were worth while as well. I did find an interesting surf shop (surprising in Alaska) and took some good pictures of the ship from the tender ride in and out. The Noordam is a beautiful ship.
Ketchikan- I enjoyed Ketchikan. My father had worked there for a couple of years in the 90s but I had never seen it. It had great many tourist shops and things to see. One local had a beautiful Alaskan Husky Dog with a color lined with 1 dollar bills. It reminded me of all the tip jars in Mexico. Everyone in Mexico had a tip jar. Creek street was pretty cool but the dead fish on the side of the river did put off a bit of a smell.
Victoria- I used to live in Victoria for 5 years so we didn't get off there. I've seen it all there.
Disembarkation - we had no flight so we got to enjoy one last meal in Lido, I don't get fresh waffles very often so I had one last go at the waffle bar. We were the last number called and it was sad to leave the great ship from a great week.
Overall- Fantastic trip, I will try again for next year.
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