Noordam 11/10 - 11/21/07 Southern Caribbean Background: We've taken 11 cruises in the last 6 years, 3 Celebrity, 3 Princess, 3 RCI, and 2 HAL (both Noordam). Above mentioned were all wonderful voyages. This 11 day Noordam cruise was wonderful as well. EMBARKATION: Sat.,11/10, 6:30am. Daughter drove us from N.H. to South Station in Boston where we hopped on the Academy Line bus that HAL arranged for transportation to the NY terminal. This is a great way to get to NY! You bring you luggage to the bus terminal gate and the driver puts it on the bus and that's the last time you touch your luggage until you get to your room! Sweet! The bus arrived in N.Y. a bit too early so our nice bus driver gave us a tour of downtown Manhattan. Nice tour too! We then went to the pier and took an elevator to the embarkation area, we were given a number and sat down until we heard our number called. (about ¾ of an hour) We then proceeded to the check in area and were on board 10 minutes later. LIDO LUNCH: We were told that lunch was being served in the Lido area, and it was very crowded at 12:30pm...every seat was taken. So, we just took a tour of the ship and at 1pm were able to go to our room. Once we dropped off a few things in our room we went back up to the Lido where seats were now available. This area does have a problem with the flow of people traffic. The buffet has something for everyone, and if you can't find something to satisfy your pallet, you probably didn't go through every station.
CABIN: This was the 2nd time aboard the Noordam, last March we had a balcony (prices were very good then) We booked in May, and the prices were just too high for our wallets, so we booked a guarantee ocean view in hopes prices for balconies came down. (they never did) We booked at Cat H and were pleasantly surprised to get a Cat C room 1072 on the main deck. Nice room and in a great location, just a few steps to the Atrium. The first night we heard awakening sounds from above our room. (no cabins above us, just storage to the nightclub. It sounded like a cart kept rolling back and forth, then it would stop and roll back again. I told someone at the front desk and they came to our cabin and listened for the noise too. They made a few calls and the problem was fixed. ?
ENTERTAINMENT: Very good! We were pleasantly surprised that 90% of the shows were very entertaining. We loved the talent show too. (done American Idol style, and the judges were hysterical!) The Vista showroom was packed on the last night of the talent show. Well done!
CASINO: Kind of small compared to the other ships we've been on, and did pretty well the 2nd night on the machines. They had 2 blackjack and 2 slot machine tournaments during our 11 day cruise, both with a $500 prize. (it was fun, but I think it would be more exciting if they had 1st and 2nd prizes) BINGO: we only played the last day and this too was a one time prize...the winner took home $4,600!!!!! That's a lot of dough!!!! (too bad they didn't have a few games of bingo with $1,000 prizes, although if it were me who won that big prize I'm sure I'd feel differently ?)
FOOD: Very good. The Lido has a great variety of breakfast and lunch meals. (breakfast: Belgium waffles, omelets, eggs any way you want them, pancakes, French toast, home fries, oatmeal, cream of wheat, assorted cereals....Lunch, several stations with delicious sandwiches (grilled to perfection if you like), salads, hot meals, Asian food, sushi, taco bar, hamburger/hot dogs... We always ate lunch at the Lido and had dinner (2nd seating, table #34, upper level) at the Vista dining room. Our wonderful waiters Wayan and Komang were the BEST! Our wine steward Theresa was also very good and so sweet! The Noordam has a wonderful staff, and we truly appreciated all that they did for us.
Favorite places on the ship: Crows Nest Lounge. No better place to be, sitting up front in one of those heavenly recliners as you sail away from any port, or just sitting up there while it's docked and reading your favorite book, or listening to your favorite music. I can fall asleep in those chairs within minutes (and I usually can't fall asleep anywhere during the day) Such beautiful views from all angles! Also sitting in those comfy lounge chairs outside of the Crows Nest on the observation deck. It never seems to be crowded there.
PORTS: Tortola - 3pm to 9pm. With that time frame we decided to take a ships tour (Tortola's Secrets $49 pp) Beautiful sights, but our bus driver didn't like stopping and I was very disappointed at some photo shots I could have taken. He was suppose to stop several times, but kept saying "we'll stop soon" He did stop 3 times, but it really wasn't enough. (one of the passengers said the tour should have been called Tortola's Toilets because he stopped twice for passengers to use rest rooms) I wrote a review and dropped it off at the Tour desk and they called me right away and offered 25% refund, I was happy with Noordams response. Roseau, Dominica - 8am - 6pm. We took a ships tour to the rain forest. This was a nice tour and a pretty ride. (just a 3 hr drive) Barbados: 8am - 5pm We took a taxi down town and did some shopping. There's a nice place to walk before the ship terminal. Pretty flowers and gardens along the Oceanside. St. Maarten - 11:am to 7:pm We went to Orient Beach. (If you walk up to the taxi terminal, you can get a taxi to Orient Beach for $6.00pp if you wait for a few other couples to go with you.) This beach is beautiful. (right side of the beach is Clothing Optional) You can rent a padded lounge chair for $7.00pp. Well worth it. San Juan - 7:am to 1:pm Sunday (most shops didn't open till 10 and 11am) We just took a nice walk up and down the center streets and did a bit of shopping. SUMMARY: This was a very relaxing voyage for us. I love being able to unwind those 2 ½ days at sea before you get to the ports. Then, after doing 6 days of touring, I love having another 2 ½ days at sea to unwind before coming home! We enjoy cruising, being out on the ocean, watching the sun rise and the sun set. Hubby and I were very happy with this trip and we can be pretty picky people. The Noordam was a 10 for us, she's a very clean ship with a wonderful crew. Yes it's an older crowd (we're in our late 50's early 60's) there is very little activity after midnight, but the activity before midnight is just fine with us, and I'm happy to be in bed by 1pm. Thank you HAL, and Happy Sailing!