As we wanted to see Australia & try a cruise that was more than 2 - 3 weeks, this cruise fit the bill.
We flew in a day before our cruise from Vancouver, mainly to re-coup from the long flight & see a bit of Sydney before embarking on our journey. As it turned out, we did mostly re-couping than sight seeing.
We stayed at a hotel in the Mascot area, near the international airport, which was also a block away from the train station. Understandably the hotels by the airports are more reasonably price than the ones in the city, especially around the Rocks & Circular Quay.
The next day, after a leisurely breakfast, we took the train to Circular Quay & strolled to the Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT) to embark the Noordam. The train ride was around 20 minutes & cost about $4.50 AUD/person. The distance from the train station to the OPT was an easy 2 flat block walk along a beautiful waterfront. Enroute, we walked into the many stores along the waterfront & took a whole bunch of pictures. Remember you can't check in until about noon, so you have a lot of time.
There were around 10 - 15 stations (maybe more) for check in & a point person to tell you which station to go to. However, when the 4 or 5 star folks arrive & sometime in large bunches, they understandably get priority check in. That could be a little frustrating especially if you've waited for a long period of time. Notwithstanding, the check in went as smooth as possible. We had a post night stay following our cruise & elected for a late disembarkation, as such, it went smoothly.
As titled, the Noordam is an old reliable friend. She is dated, but she is still capable & reliable especially when we encountered the rough seas. I found her clean, comfortable and with friendly helpful staff. I found the service to be very good. My cabin review is shown hereunder.
We found the dining to be average to good. There was certainly no "wow" factor. In fact, I found the food a little on the salty side & repetitive, especially at the "Lido". Again, I found the service at the Lido & in the dining room to be very good.
I don't really enjoy "Broadway" type productions, but I did like the "sandman" from New Zealand & Patrick McMahon the Australian musician.
A comment about the gym. For those who like to use the free weights (dumb bells), there are cabins situated under this station, as such you have to place your weights down VERY quietly, or else. This station should be moved.
A couple of comments respecting the ports in Papua New Guinea (PNG). We were led to believe that PNG prerfers passengers spending in PNG kinas, as the Australian, let alone US dollar was hard for the locals to exchange back to kinas. As such, Holland America brought in someone to convert your money to PNG kina (1 USD = 3.36 kina, 1 AUD = 2.39 kina, Jan./19 rate). Understandably, for this service, you will not be getting a good, let alone, a best rate. I was a little disappointed that when we attended a ship's shore excursion, most if not all the arts & crafts were in Australian dollars. A little more lost money in conversion, albeit small, but still another lost. Just saying.
The locals on the islands that we visited in PNG were friendly, even if no purchases were made.
The port of Gladstone, Queensland was a new stop for Holland America. During cruise ship season, a local market is set up about a 5 minute walk from where the ships are docked. The locals makes this as a day out there and were friendly & happy to see us. We docked on a Sunday, a day where most things were closed in town. Not knowing this, we purchased shuttle tickets for $30 pp, from the ship to go into town. You would have thought Holland America ought to have known that most, if not all things were closed in Gladstone on a Sunday. Just saying, again.
Our cabin was on the 6th floor & around the corner from the stairs & elevator. There was hardly any passenger foot traffic in the area & as such fairly quiet. Our cabin, although dated & unremarkable, was quiet, comfortable, clean & more than adequate for two on this 30 day cruise. We had sufficient storage for our clothes, without having to use the sets of drawers under the bed & sofa couch. We had a comfortable king size bed, but the sofa has reached at least a 4 - 5 star Mariner status plus. We had a nice size balcony with 2 deck chairs with ottomans & small round table. Our 2 suitcases fitted under the bed. We had a bathtub shower combination in our washroom.
There are a lot of things to see & do in Sydney on your own. Locals are friendly & helpful and Sydney has a good transportation system to get around in.
We not only saw live our 1st time, but interacted with the kangaroos. We were also up close & personal with a koala.View All 31 Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary Reviews
Due to weather conditions, we missed this port.
There are lots of things you can do in Adelaide on your own. Again, the locals were friendly & helpful and Adelaide has great transportation to get around in.
We went to Flinders Chase National Park and saw the Admirals Arch & the Remarkable Rocks. At the Raptor Domain, we saw a trained wedge tailed eagle, a friendly barn owl & other birds. At the Hanson Bay Sanctuary, we saw koalas in their natural habitat.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Another big city where there's lots of things to see & do on your own. Again, friendly, helpful locals with good transportation to get around in.
Burnie had a complimentary shuttle to take the passengers into the small town. Friendly locals & very walkable. Got to try the "scallop" pie at Banjo's Bakery Cafe. Free wifi at the city hall.
We were tendered into the port of Eden. There was a small local market set up for the cruise ship passengers near by. Eden also had a shuttle bus to take the passengers into town. Eden is small & walkable. We visited the Killer Whale Museum which was ok. Free wifi at the city library.
Whenever a cruise ship is in town, a local market is set up about a 5 minute or so walk away, from where the ships are docked. It's like a park like setting for people to enjoy. The locals makes this as an excuse to enjoy their day here. Very friendly people here.
This is where the "terrible" rating arises. It should be noted that most if not all stores in Gladstone, for all intent & purposes are closed on Sunday, the day which we happened to dock. To sell us a $30 pp shuttle bus ticket to a closed town is unbelieveable. Holland America ought to have known that Gladstone for all intent & purposes is closed on Sunday and should have advised their passengers accordingly.View All undefined undefined Reviews
It was ok for a taste of their local cultural event.View All 26 Alotau Cultural Festival Reviews
It was ok to meet & visit with the locals. It was interesting, but I did not enjoy that they'd expect you to buy things from them or pay them when you take photos of them or their things. An uneasy feeling...just saying.
This involved a city highlight bus tour, along with a 2 hour luncheon cruise on the Brisbane River. OK lunch & a nice peaceful cruise on the river. Good view of the city skyline & riverfront from the water.View All undefined undefined Reviews
We experienced the rainforest by gliding over its canopy by gondola; had a guided rainforest tour on an army duck vehicle, interacted with more kangaroos, seen more koalas, a crocodile & other native animals; watched aboriginal performances & tried throwing a boomerang.
Overall, this was a better than average excursion, Good.View All undefined undefined Reviews