We wanted to go to the Antipodes, and this schedule fit ours. We'd cruised on the Zuiderdam in 2016 and enjoyed it. Noordam is Zuiderdam's sister ship, with the identical layout, except for non-structural spaces like the library. We like that it carries 1928 passengers - bigger than that would be too big for us, and we can't afford smaller. We splurged on a Signature suite, which was twice the size of our earlier Verandah suite. Full-sized sofa, double sinks in the bathroom, etc. Very roomy for us and comfortable. And the verandah was twice the size because we were on Deck 6 instead of 5, without the lifeboats in front of us. Twice in the week before we left, we got a phone call from HAL offering us progressively cheaper upgrades to a Neptune suite, but it was still too expensive. We loved our Signature cabin and didn't need more room. We also got a pretty good deal on it - a splurge for us, but worth it. As before, we found the staff to be exemplary. Friendly, efficient, eager to please. We expressed an interest in them, which may be why they were so good to us. Our cabin stewards were outstanding, and the bar and restaurant staff matched them. As before, we tipped them when we left, in the form of all our currency that we could no longer use. (Yes, we know that tips are built into our fare, but a little extra never hurts, and these guys were ALWAYS working.) The food was good. We had some breakfasts and lunches in the Lido buffet and enjoyed the large selection. The lack of trays was inconvenient at worst, but we learned that the line is saving about $3 million a year because of less wasted food, so we're all for it - there's no excuse for wasting food, in my book. Having to carry a plate or two at a time forces you to think about whether you REALLY want that dessert. We enjoyed two celebratory meals in the Pinnacle and enjoyed them a lot. Excellent food and service. The rest of our meals were in the Main Dining Room. We opted, as before, not to commit to a specific dining time, but we never had to wait more than five minutes to be seated, and we enjoyed being seated with different people every time. The servers knew us after a few meals which is quite a feat of memory. We had coffee delivered to our room at 6:30 every morning, a real luxury. Entertainment isn't an issue for us. We LOVE the BB King band and went to hear them every night - superlative entertainers. The "seminars" are all thinly disguised attempts to sell something, so we don't bother. We rarely enjoy the main lounge evening shows, so stayed away. The library is fairly well stocked with a variety of books, although on the Noordam it's in two rooms on Deck 3 or 4, while on the Zuiderdam it's in one space next to the Crow's Nest - more convenient by far. We read, walked the deck, enjoyed chatting with people, and generally enjoyed our time on board. Didn't use the pool. I enjoyed the spa services, especially when they ran a special, but don't like the constant attempt to sell product at the end of each service. Unfortunately, the staff gets paid by how much stuff they sell rather than salary, which is unpleasant and unfair. Ship tours tend to be more expensive than those offered by independent tour operators, so we mostly set up our own. But the few that we did were quite good. The bars are all pleasant but Happy Hour happens in just a small handful of them, not all. And you can get a twofer, but they are both the same drink and have to be ordered at the same time, so the second one is sometimes warmish by the time you get to it. You can't share. We are in our 70s but noticed how old most of the passengers were! We're really just 35 inside, but have never seen so many walkers and canes in one place before. Wifi can be an issue, but we decided against buying the package and enjoying a vacation from connectedness. You can use the computers in the Crow's Nest, either with the prepaid package or by minute-by-minute charge. But it's terribly slow, so you sit there watching it try to connect while your paid-for minutes drain into the ocean. Fancier cabins get complementary Wifi, but I found that I did't miss it that much. What used to be called "Formal nights" are now "Gala nights." You're expected to dress up for the MDR and Pinnacle, but if you don't want to, you can always dine at the Lido buffet. We dressed nicely but not formally - shirt and tie, long "harem" pants and sparkly top. Part of our definition of "vacation" is not having to worry about dressing up, so we're not interested in tuxedos and evening gowns. Everyone looked appropriately festive. Overall, we've enjoyed our cruises with HAL. We may try another cruise line just to compare, but as sedate as they tend to be, HAL suite us fine.

Pleasant, as usual

Noordam Cruise Review by AdelieGentoo

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We wanted to go to the Antipodes, and this schedule fit ours. We'd cruised on the Zuiderdam in 2016 and enjoyed it. Noordam is Zuiderdam's sister ship, with the identical layout, except for non-structural spaces like the library. We like that it carries 1928 passengers - bigger than that would be too big for us, and we can't afford smaller.

We splurged on a Signature suite, which was twice the size of our earlier Verandah suite. Full-sized sofa, double sinks in the bathroom, etc. Very roomy for us and comfortable. And the verandah was twice the size because we were on Deck 6 instead of 5, without the lifeboats in front of us. Twice in the week before we left, we got a phone call from HAL offering us progressively cheaper upgrades to a Neptune suite, but it was still too expensive. We loved our Signature cabin and didn't need more room. We also got a pretty good deal on it - a splurge for us, but worth it.

As before, we found the staff to be exemplary. Friendly, efficient, eager to please. We expressed an interest in them, which may be why they were so good to us. Our cabin stewards were outstanding, and the bar and restaurant staff matched them. As before, we tipped them when we left, in the form of all our currency that we could no longer use. (Yes, we know that tips are built into our fare, but a little extra never hurts, and these guys were ALWAYS working.)

The food was good. We had some breakfasts and lunches in the Lido buffet and enjoyed the large selection. The lack of trays was inconvenient at worst, but we learned that the line is saving about $3 million a year because of less wasted food, so we're all for it - there's no excuse for wasting food, in my book. Having to carry a plate or two at a time forces you to think about whether you REALLY want that dessert. We enjoyed two celebratory meals in the Pinnacle and enjoyed them a lot. Excellent food and service. The rest of our meals were in the Main Dining Room. We opted, as before, not to commit to a specific dining time, but we never had to wait more than five minutes to be seated, and we enjoyed being seated with different people every time. The servers knew us after a few meals which is quite a feat of memory. We had coffee delivered to our room at 6:30 every morning, a real luxury.

Entertainment isn't an issue for us. We LOVE the BB King band and went to hear them every night - superlative entertainers. The "seminars" are all thinly disguised attempts to sell something, so we don't bother. We rarely enjoy the main lounge evening shows, so stayed away. The library is fairly well stocked with a variety of books, although on the Noordam it's in two rooms on Deck 3 or 4, while on the Zuiderdam it's in one space next to the Crow's Nest - more convenient by far. We read, walked the deck, enjoyed chatting with people, and generally enjoyed our time on board. Didn't use the pool. I enjoyed the spa services, especially when they ran a special, but don't like the constant attempt to sell product at the end of each service. Unfortunately, the staff gets paid by how much stuff they sell rather than salary, which is unpleasant and unfair.

Ship tours tend to be more expensive than those offered by independent tour operators, so we mostly set up our own. But the few that we did were quite good.

The bars are all pleasant but Happy Hour happens in just a small handful of them, not all. And you can get a twofer, but they are both the same drink and have to be ordered at the same time, so the second one is sometimes warmish by the time you get to it. You can't share.

We are in our 70s but noticed how old most of the passengers were! We're really just 35 inside, but have never seen so many walkers and canes in one place before.

Wifi can be an issue, but we decided against buying the package and enjoying a vacation from connectedness. You can use the computers in the Crow's Nest, either with the prepaid package or by minute-by-minute charge. But it's terribly slow, so you sit there watching it try to connect while your paid-for minutes drain into the ocean. Fancier cabins get complementary Wifi, but I found that I did't miss it that much.

What used to be called "Formal nights" are now "Gala nights." You're expected to dress up for the MDR and Pinnacle, but if you don't want to, you can always dine at the Lido buffet. We dressed nicely but not formally - shirt and tie, long "harem" pants and sparkly top. Part of our definition of "vacation" is not having to worry about dressing up, so we're not interested in tuxedos and evening gowns. Everyone looked appropriately festive.

Overall, we've enjoyed our cruises with HAL. We may try another cruise line just to compare, but as sedate as they tend to be, HAL suite us fine.
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