After flying from Vancouver, B.C. on April 1, we boarded HAL Noordam on April 3 in Fort Lauderdale.  We know that this would be a great cruise when the taxi dropped us and we saw the smiling faces of the crew who were waiting to assist disabled passengers and we were right!  Embarkation took only minutes and then we started what would be 26 incredible days of pampering, wonderful food, interesting ports, and restful sea days.  We ate lunch in the Dining Room, entering with a bit of trepidation after reading complaints on the Boards about the food.  When the food arrived, my husband and I looked at each other and said "Yes!" because any previous problems had obviously been solved and this was true to our last breakfast in the D.R. 26 days later.5180 - I knew that this balcony stateroom was very far aft, but I accepted it as an upgrade.  I have been forward on a previous Transatlantic and loved it and was quite far aft for an Alaska cruise which was good.  We did notice the motion more and made good use of the meclazine from the Front Office.  We were never stopped from doing anything due to the slight seasickness but I would choose my cabin further forward in the future.There is only a shower here, but we preferred this as we never bath anyway and a shower is easier to negotiate.  The room was very quiet - at the end of a corridor, with only a stairway across the way (never used by anyone.). Food:Chef Rob and his staff served very good to excellent food throughout this cruise.  With the exception of 4 lunches in the Lido, and one breakfast there, we ate all meals in the Dining Room.  We did not have room service.  The steaks were tender, perfectly cooked and if a sauce was served with a steak, it was appropriate and tasty.  We ate a lot of seafood, with full-size Atlantic lobster tails served several times - what a difference in taste and texture compared to the smaller Cuban? ones usually served.  One lunch in the D.R., there was a seafood buffet and it was spectacular - and the staff handled it so well.  You entered the room, with the food set out near the entrance.  When you had chosen, you were shown to a table - all very civilized and the food was remarkable - as good as at any seafood brunch at a very good hotel.  Salmon in various guises - smoked in different ways, as tartare, and so on - was served often and always excellent.The best dishes, in my opinion, were the braised ones, such as the short ribs.  They were so flavourful and it was obvious that they were slow-cooked and wonderfully seasoned.  The soups were also excellent.  My husband loved the salads.  The prime rib was also above average and was served several times, much to my husband's delight.Desserts were good, but occasionally, were not exactly as described in the menu.  The ice cream was good, cakes were very good, and crumbles were excellent.My favourite food, however, was the raisin buns at breakfast.  All the breads are so tasty and fresh but nothing can equal those raisin buns.Room Service:What is there to say, but wonderful, impeccable, smiling, appropriate, in true HAL style.  When we arrived in our stateroom, Yuli introduced himself - I asked if it would be possible to have our room serviced if we left for breakfast by 8:30 each morning.  He did not miss coming then; in fact, he usually was nearby so we could chat for a bit.  Our room was so clean, and we never had to ask for fruit, shampoo, ice or towels - everything was taken care of.  And Yuli was the master of animal towels - we had some fun with the monkey when Yuli fashioned a necktie, cocktail glass and so on from the discarded art auction papers!Dining Room Service:We had requested a table for two as we were celebrating our 40th Wedding Anniversary.  We had late seating.  Our steward Endang and his assistant Bambang were excellent - both were real talkers, jokers, and both were willing to tell us about "home", their families, and loved hearing about Canada.  Service was well-paced and correctly done, from the napkins at the beginning to my husband's espresso at the end.  I was very sad to say good-bye after 26 dinners with them.  Assistant Dining Room Manager Bagus was also very much in evidence, checking every evening that all was well and that his staff were on top of the game.  Wine Steward Virgel was cute, funny, and always gave me dessert recommendations, which were fun to follow and discuss with him later. Sea Days We had 8 sea days after leaving Fort Lauderdale, and these really are my favourite part of the cruise - a time to relax on the balcony, sit around the pool and have a coffee and watch the children playing in the pool (there were 22 children on the TA), read a lot of books, watch movies, walk on the promenade deck, etc.  ProblemsThe only problem we had was when we wanted to book a meal at the Pinnacle.  We had scouted out a couple of tables we wanted, and we were booking well in advance.  The Maitre'D would not assign us a definite table and said we would have to take whatever was available! We couldn't believe his poor attitude, but then we shrugged it off, knowing we would have a great dinner at our special table with our special staff in the Dining room.The other comment I have is that when we changed Captains part way across the Atlantic, that the second Captain did not make very many announcements.  In our previous HAL cruises, and during the first part of this cruise, the Captain made announcements, usually around 1 p.m.  I looked forward to hearing them.SummationOverall, this, our fourth cruise, was the best one.  We met several fellow passengers, who seemed to agree with our assessment of the staff, the food, the cleanliness, the overall feel of the ship.  We will definitely be sailing HAL again, and soon!

HAL Noordam Delivers in Spades - 26 Incredible Days

Noordam Cruise Review by 7pme

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: April 2009
  • Destination: Transatlantic
  • Cabin Type: Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
After flying from Vancouver, B.C. on April 1, we boarded HAL Noordam on April 3 in Fort Lauderdale.  We know that this would be a great cruise when the taxi dropped us and we saw the smiling faces of the crew who were waiting to assist disabled passengers and we were right!  Embarkation took only minutes and then we started what would be 26 incredible days of pampering, wonderful food, interesting ports, and restful sea days.  We ate lunch in the Dining Room, entering with a bit of trepidation after reading complaints on the Boards about the food.  When the food arrived, my husband and I looked at each other and said "Yes!" because any previous problems had obviously been solved and this was true to our last breakfast in the D.R. 26 days later.5180 - I knew that this balcony stateroom was very far aft, but I accepted it as an upgrade.  I have been forward on a previous Transatlantic and loved it and was quite far aft for an Alaska cruise which was good.  We did notice the motion more and made good use of the meclazine from the Front Office.  We were never stopped from doing anything due to the slight seasickness but I would choose my cabin further forward in the future.There is only a shower here, but we preferred this as we never bath anyway and a shower is easier to negotiate.  The room was very quiet - at the end of a corridor, with only a stairway across the way (never used by anyone.). Food:Chef Rob and his staff served very good to excellent food throughout this cruise.  With the exception of 4 lunches in the Lido, and one breakfast there, we ate all meals in the Dining Room.  We did not have room service.  The steaks were tender, perfectly cooked and if a sauce was served with a steak, it was appropriate and tasty.  We ate a lot of seafood, with full-size Atlantic lobster tails served several times - what a difference in taste and texture compared to the smaller Cuban? ones usually served.  One lunch in the D.R., there was a seafood buffet and it was spectacular - and the staff handled it so well.  You entered the room, with the food set out near the entrance.  When you had chosen, you were shown to a table - all very civilized and the food was remarkable - as good as at any seafood brunch at a very good hotel.  Salmon in various guises - smoked in different ways, as tartare, and so on - was served often and always excellent.The best dishes, in my opinion, were the braised ones, such as the short ribs.  They were so flavourful and it was obvious that they were slow-cooked and wonderfully seasoned.  The soups were also excellent.  My husband loved the salads.  The prime rib was also above average and was served several times, much to my husband's delight.Desserts were good, but occasionally, were not exactly as described in the menu.  The ice cream was good, cakes were very good, and crumbles were excellent.My favourite food, however, was the raisin buns at breakfast.  All the breads are so tasty and fresh but nothing can equal those raisin buns.Room Service:What is there to say, but wonderful, impeccable, smiling, appropriate, in true HAL style.  When we arrived in our stateroom, Yuli introduced himself - I asked if it would be possible to have our room serviced if we left for breakfast by 8:30 each morning.  He did not miss coming then; in fact, he usually was nearby so we could chat for a bit.  Our room was so clean, and we never had to ask for fruit, shampoo, ice or towels - everything was taken care of.  And Yuli was the master of animal towels - we had some fun with the monkey when Yuli fashioned a necktie, cocktail glass and so on from the discarded art auction papers!Dining Room Service:We had requested a table for two as we were celebrating our 40th Wedding Anniversary.  We had late seating.  Our steward Endang and his assistant Bambang were excellent - both were real talkers, jokers, and both were willing to tell us about "home", their families, and loved hearing about Canada.  Service was well-paced and correctly done, from the napkins at the beginning to my husband's espresso at the end.  I was very sad to say good-bye after 26 dinners with them.  Assistant Dining Room Manager Bagus was also very much in evidence, checking every evening that all was well and that his staff were on top of the game.  Wine Steward Virgel was cute, funny, and always gave me dessert recommendations, which were fun to follow and discuss with him later. Sea Days We had 8 sea days after leaving Fort Lauderdale, and these really are my favourite part of the cruise - a time to relax on the balcony, sit around the pool and have a coffee and watch the children playing in the pool (there were 22 children on the TA), read a lot of books, watch movies, walk on the promenade deck, etc.  ProblemsThe only problem we had was when we wanted to book a meal at the Pinnacle.  We had scouted out a couple of tables we wanted, and we were booking well in advance.  The Maitre'D would not assign us a definite table and said we would have to take whatever was available! We couldn't believe his poor attitude, but then we shrugged it off, knowing we would have a great dinner at our special table with our special staff in the Dining room.The other comment I have is that when we changed Captains part way across the Atlantic, that the second Captain did not make very many announcements.  In our previous HAL cruises, and during the first part of this cruise, the Captain made announcements, usually around 1 p.m.  I looked forward to hearing them.SummationOverall, this, our fourth cruise, was the best one.  We met several fellow passengers, who seemed to agree with our assessment of the staff, the food, the cleanliness, the overall feel of the ship.  We will definitely be sailing HAL again, and soon!
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
Cabin VC 5180
5180 - I knew that this balcony stateroom was very far aft, but I accepted it as an upgrade.  I have been forward on a previous Transatlantic and loved it and was quite far aft for an Alaska cruise which was good.  We did notice the motion more and made good use of the meclazine from the Front Office.  We were never stopped from doing anything due to the slight seasickness but I would choose my cabin further forward in the future.There is only a shower here, but we preferred this as we never bath anyway and a shower is easier to negotiate.  The room was very quiet - at the end of a corridor, with only a stairway across the way (never used by anyone.).
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Dubrovnik
    Two years ago, visiting the Old Town in Dubrovnik was the highlight of our cruise. The people were friendly, the locals were walking with their children and having coffee, shopping at the little market, etc. This time, prices had increased a lot, locals were not in evidence, friendliness was limited, the market had a few touristy items, and the feel, or soul, seemed to have gone.
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  • Kusadasi
    We had arranged a private guide for the two of us through kusadasi.bis. We were very lucky to have Gonca Kizilhan, a lovely young Turkish woman who had grown up in Kusadasi, knowing that she would be a tour guide for Ephesus. We were met by Gonca (Rose) at 7:30 a.m. as arranged and walked a few blocks to meet her driver. We were in a newish van. We arrived at Ephesus before most of the tourists and walked around with little problem. The highlight is definitely the Terrace Houses, and as we were the only ones there when we entered and when we left (a lot of the tours do not take you there), it was even more incredible. The restoration is incredible and very enlightening. I would highly recommend Gonca and her company (gk_kusadasi@hotmail.com).
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