We have cruised HAL before. previously Trans Atlantic and Med with Noordam and Baltics , Scandnavia on Konningsdam, WE loved all before and were prepared to travel long distance from Oz but now figured a cruise close to home would ease the travel strain. We took the cruise for the ship/cruise not the destination.
Another reason for the cruise was to compare HAL and Princess who we sailed the new Majestic in June.
Maybe this review may seem like a comparison of the two....if you want a comparison read on.
Firstly the ships are diferent sizes Majestic being almost twice that of Noordam. So embarkation was slower with Majestic but that may have been the fault of immigration/customs as we boarded in Singapore with Noordam boarding in Sydney. Of the 1900 guests on Noordam we were told there were over 1000 from USA , couple of hundred from Canada and only 200-300 from Australia and New Zealand. that really surprised us.
With the Noordam being mid to small and Majestic being large there is no real comparisons to be made. you either like big or you like small. Personally we prefer small.
Statistics show that both ships are rated 5 stars. Majestic is brand new whereas Noordam is kept in emaculate condition...everything works , everything looks brand new even though she is 11 years old. Maybe some of the chairs show some wear but with people in them all day everyday id be surprised if a chair lasted 12 months.
The biggest difference I noted was the attention to detail displayed by the staff. Noordam staff took ownership of any problem whereas Majestic seemed to pass the problem back to the customer. The customer service desk on Noordam was frequently absent of customers whereas on Majestic there were constant lineups of customers wanting something attended to. I would say that on Noordam if there was a problem it was fixed whereas on Majestic it kept re-occurring...that would explain the disparity between the 2 ships.
Cleanliness seemed better on Noordam, staff always polishing cleaning etc. I found that for writing this review Majestic has 2.6customer per one staff while Noordam has 2.39. Noordam is better staffed by number and probably better staffed by attitude and training.
On the plus side for Noordam Ill also list the food court or buffet...lots better but we used it rarely and then generally breakfast...Noordam has the greatest selection of poached eggs anywhere in the world even on land. Princess has the best bread rolls at sea bar none.
Dining room was on a par but Princess deserts win hands down. We did anytime dining both cruises and on both we were able to secure the same table (for two) after the second day and talking with the maitre di. Same good service.
bar staff were comparable both great but Noordam drink stewards seem to have more incentive to chase you down....you rarely have to look for someone to get you a drink.
Drink packages- I don't get them...cant drink like I did 30 years ago. But I do get the wine packages. Noordam was good value with wine averageing about $27 USD per bottle. If one purchased the bottle separately they were about $35 each. May seem expensive but at $9 per glass and 5 glasses per bottle this saves $10 on a bottle. On our 15 day cruise we purchased about 20 bottles all up so packages can be worthwhile. I remember princess was similar.
Entertainment or lack is what let Noordam down. We ate at 7.45pm and there was generally no Band playing for the hour or so before we ate. From 6.30 pm the ship was dead until things started up about 8.00. We attended the late shows (both ships) and entertainment was similar...both good with the same mix of magicions comedians etc etc.
Tours excursions were abundant on each ship...my suggestion to others is to do plenty of research before the cruise ....you can sometimes get the same thing for less off the ship.
Finally the clientel age was similar with age mainly 55 and above. there seemed less walkers/wheelchairs/walking sticks on Noordam and people seemed to dress up a bit more. I noticed that on most evenings many many ladies wore outfits that would generally be acceptable on a formal night. I like this although I only wear a jacket and bow tie at Gala night. Most men were dressed smart casual.
Here is an interesting observation though. On the second night I approached the Maitri di at the door to the dining room at 5.30 pm asking for table reservation. He obliged informing me not to come back with my shorts on...which I would not even consider knowing dining room rules. Maybe he was lifting the dress standard from the gutter where it is on some cruises.
Noordam wins I think because it appears the cleanest healthiest ship. People appeared to be in better health with no coughing spluttering etc. But Majestic was more fun around dinner times. Its the smaller ship for me especially with what I think was better staff training and attentiveness. I believe Noordam does care . majestic gave me the impression of Oh Well.
Next cruise....neither. We have 2 sets of cruises booked. the first back to back for 14 days. The second BTB 21 days.....both different from the Majestic and the Noordam...both sets of cruises are on 3.5 to 4 stars. It will be interesting to see the difference.
great cabin as you expect. plenty of room provided you put things away. the cabin is not (and none on any ship we have sailed --30 odd) designed for clutter, you need to be a tidy person otherwise you will be tripping over all your belongings. that said there were heaps of storage space ...we took too much luggage with 50 kilo total between the 2 of us and everything was hung up...we did get more hangers.
Cabin is per photo and generally the same as other balcony staterooms...this is called a veranda stateroom...same thing. . bedding was super good with plenty of pillows and top sheet so we could kick off the Duna. Air con was first class and consistent temp. sometimes I think ships are hotter at night and cool in the day.