The stewards and waiters were unfailingly, and I mean unfailingly and without exception, cheerful, polite and helpful. They were the highlight of the cruise.
I am unlikely to recommend a Holland American cruise, certainly to no one in my peer group. It is not my scene, but that says more about me than Holland American! My disappointment is probably the result of nostalgia for the 5 or 6 voyages my wife and I did in the 1950s and '60s when sea travel was the usual way of travel between continents. There is a world of difference between a voyage and a cruise. A voyage then was a gracious and civilised way to travel. We travelled with a purpose, not to kill time and be entertained. Those voyages were much more enjoyable than our recent cruise, with its very contrived "entertainment". On the voyages of the '50s and '60s I found friendly people of bridge with and we had some excellent games, without the ship advertising bridge. On this cruise there were few games in spite of bridge being advertised, I had difficulty in finding a partner and in the few games I had, people were aggressive and unfriendly - not the fault of Holland America perhaps, though maybe reflection of the on-board culture.
The food was good, but the coffee appalling, except the coffee purchased in the cafe, which was exorbitantly expensive. Exorbitant expense characterised everything for sold on the ship - the wine and the tours. All about 2 or 3 times the cost at the ports we visited. These costs give the impression of the cruise as a money gouging exercise by Holland American, which I am sure was not the intention.
The “Noordam” purported to be a Dutch boat. Certainly, the officers were Dutch and the interior decor was Dutch, but the social culture was overwhelmingly and suffocatingly American. And the passengers were overwhelmingly American. A broader multinational mix would be preferable.
When I arrived home 10 days after the cruise ended, two emails awaited my from Holland America inviting me to complete a survey and assuring we my opinion was important. Yet when I tried to complete the surveys, I found they were closed. So I don't think my opinion could be that important to Holland America! I am not one of these millennials addicted to staying in constant electronic contact reading emails every day! As a result my negative opinion is now public, instead of "for Holland America eyes only", had I been able to complete the survey.
Needs refurbishing. Toilet wouldn't flush several times. Position of shower head difficult to adjust. Solid steel side of the verandah meant we couldnlt see the ocean when we sat out on the verandah.
disappointing fake "French" town - changing street names does not make it French! ... but coffee was good, and cheap!
Took shuttle to 2nd drop/pick up poit and went to the Museum... very comprehensvie, but map/plan atrocious, couldn't find my way around. I particularly wanted to learn about the aarival of the Maori people. I learnt something but it did not answer all my quesions. Enjoyed the walk back along the waterfront to the first shuttle pick up point, again savouring a reasonably priced cuo of coffee enroute!
Loved this art decor town, again savouring a reasonably priced cup of coffee enroute!... and appreciated the antique shop, the best we've been to. Every item dusted dailly, I'm sure.
Again enjoyed just walking round the streets, and again savouring a reasonably priced cup of coffee enroute! Had I been fitter would have done a longer walk up some of the prominent hills.
enjoyed Port Chalmers, savouring a reasonably priced cup of coffee!
I recommend the walk to the Lady Troy Dell (right name?) up the road from the prominent and fine Presbyterian Church building, delightful gardens, would have been splendid in spring.