How can one go wrong with Holland America: Noordam Cruise Review by EnglishEcho

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Member Since 2008
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How can one go wrong with Holland America

Sail Date: February 2009
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
We booked this cruise for over Valentine's Day so the ship was full months in advance of the departure date. We cruised with some dear friends of ours from the UK and they hadn't been in the Caribbean before so that is how we picked this particular cruise. We stayed at the Sleep Inn and Suites in Dania, Fl the day before the cruise. The staff were pleasant and did a good job. The room was worn but clean. The breakfast buffet was quite good. The Sleep Inn is one of a few hotels who have a free shuttle to and from the airport and the cruise terminals, which is why we picked it. We left the hotel at noon for the cruise terminal.

The embarkation was fine with no problems encountered. We were on the ship by 1240, which is fast considering the drive time is included. One disadvantage of arriving on ship later is that all of the seats at the Lido buffet were taken and no one was budging from them. The rooms were ready about one pm room. We were lucky to meet our room steward right More away and asked him to empty the refrigerator so we could fit our wine into it. This way there is no problem with being charged for anything in the frig and you still get to cool your wine with room to spare. The veranda was spacious and we had the room steward open the divider on the veranda between our two rooms so we could talk to our friends while enjoying the view. Our rooms were always clean ready for us no matter what time we left and returned to them.

The ship was spotless and well maintained. The entertainment was quite good and we were lucky enough to have a concert pianist give an extra performance in place of napkin folding. The string quartet in the Explorers lounge playing for those waiting for their dining tables in the evening was very enjoyable and a nice touch to relax before the meal. We had open seating and there were some problems with that. We made reservations the first day on the ship for that evening and when we arrived at the dining room that night our table had been given to someone else. Not too much of a problem if we were late but we were there at the first seating at 515 pm. The next morning at 0800 we called and made our dinner reservations for that night and once again when we arrived, on time, our table had been giving to someone else. In total this happened three times during the ten day cruise and one night we ate at up at the Lido. Not very good odds in having your reservation and actually getting it right. We just showed up for two nights and happened to be seated with Yoga and Wardi as our waiters. They were the best waiters that we had for the entire cruise. They made up for the reservation problems. The food on Holland is second to none. The food on the Lido deck, the buffet, is better than what one is served in the main dining room on Carnival. Holland set up a welcome party for the 88 cruise critic members that were on the cruise. They were gracious enough to also serve free drinks during the party. Many thanks to Ron for arranging with Holland for this service.

It was nice to meet with other cruise critic members and talk to them in person. Due to a strike on the French island of Guadeloupe we were not able to dock there but Holland managed to secure docking and services on short notice for Dominica instead. My compliments to Holland for being able to make lemonade out of lemons. There were plenty of daily activities to participate in during the cruise and the library was the very best that we have ever encountered on a cruise ship. The library also has a wide variety of DVD's to use in your room if you so desire. We were staying in Ft Lauderdale for three days after the cruise so we elected for the expedited disembarkation, so we could pick up our rental car and go check into the Kira-Mar suites in Hollywood. Disembarkation was one of the easiest that we have encountered with no problems at all. Overall, except for the dinner reservations for open seating being a mess and some of the waiters not very experienced, it was a great cruise. Less

Published 03/12/09

Cabin review: VC5175 Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom

Like so many cabins on cruise ships there were not enough hangers in the closet. The temperature control was either cool or warm, no matter how you adjusted the control. Other than that it was fine.

Read All Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom (VC) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

We had been to Barbados a couple of times before so we just walked around the area.

Read 1226 Barbados Reviews

We booked a kayak and snorkel tour through the ship for this island, as I had stated about going to Dominica instead of Martinique, due to the strike on Martinique. The tour was very good and we had a great time. The tour guides were very friendly. We walked around the port after the tour and it was the only island where we had beggars coming up to us.

Read 669 Dominica Reviews

There is so much that is offered in the Ft Lauderdale area that it would impossible to cover even half of them. We rented a car from Enterprise and had no problems with it. One thing to consider is that many of the car rentals have a free shuttle from the cruise terminal to the airport except Enterprise, which cost us $12.50 via taxi. We made a trip down to the Keys and had a good time there. We did the shopping thing at the Sawgrass Mills Mall and a three hour water taxi tour of the waterways also. The Kira-Mar suites, where we rented for the three days, was very close to the water taxi and beach. I was not that impressed with the Kira-Mar for the price but we wanted a place where we could make some of our own meals and it did come with a full kitchen along with one very small bathroom and a sofa sleeper in the main room, besides the one bedroom. The windows were the old glass awning style and were very, very noisy. The pluses were the location, full kitchen, management and wireless connection.

We had read in the cruise critic about a tour in St. Lucia that was rated very good so we had booked that before the cruise. The tour was for all day and covered just about anything that one could imagine to do for a day on the island. Check out for more info on all of the services that are included with the tour. We were very pleased with the tour and when we figured out about what it would have cost if we had done the same amount of things through the cruise line it would have been much more expensive. It is $65 per person for the all day tour including drinks, lunch of local favorite foods and a snack. They do not take credit cards so be sure to have cash on hand for this tour. I would recommend Cosol to anyone. Be sure to bring a swim suit and snorkel gear with you on the tour.
Read 1136 St. Lucia Reviews

We arrived in St. Maarten on a Sunday, which means that the Dutch side of the island was open and the French side was completely closed. We elected to just go ashore and walk through the port town. The water taxi was working and made the trip ashore much more pleasant. The island was very clean and friendly with plenty of wares to choose from.

We once again found a private tour through cruise critic for visiting St Thomas. VI tours is who we toured with. The cost per person was $25 for a day long tour. Once again much less money than through the cruise line. They do not take credit cards so be sure to have the cash on hand for this tour. To find out more concerning the tour their email address is Burlie is the tour operator and she was very entertaining and informative during the tour. Burlie changed the schedule the day of the tour due to rain part of the day. By doing so we only had one time of some light rain showers during the tour. We talked to someone who had used the tour through the ship and they didn't change their schedule and it rained on them all day, especially while at the beach, which made it very miserable for them. It paid to have someone giving the tour who was smart enough and cared enough to do this so that the our was much more enjoyable. The banana margarita at the mountain top was quite strong and we figured that one split between two of us would be plenty.

Read 4002 St. Thomas Reviews

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Member Since 2008
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