This was a very enjoyable cruise and much to our surprise and delight we came back with a definite feeling that HAL would be a contender for our future cruise dollars. That is until on our return we saw a magazine article about HAL and how they treated a customer when something went terribly wrong. We only encountered minor problems mostly through poor communication. We had problems with the HAL website when checking in and their response was totally lacking and unhelpful. Also when making a reservation (prior to sailing) at the Pinnacle Grill they charged us upfront and the reservation wasn't even guaranteed! At embarkation too, it would have been nice to know that we could have boarded earlier on in the day. On the cruise it was in the way that they dealt with customer communication for room service and the open dining room reservation system that caused us concern. It has always been our experience that how a company deals with things that go wrong is the best measure of that company and HAL falls short in that regard. With the problems that we had with customer communication we would not want to go with HAL in the future.
The ship had no wow factor it just had the feeling of a comfortable old ship! The captain and officers should get a lot of kudos because the customer contact staff on the Noordam were without exception the happiest/most helpful/hard working crew we have encountered to date.
EMBARKATION: We walked into the embarkation hall at around 2PM to find a vast array of agents waiting to help us with not another passenger in sight!! (It turned out that embarkation actually started at 11AM not the 1PM as we had been told). We were on the ship in minutes and our cabin was ready and the stewards (two of them) waiting to greet us.
The cabin was well designed with plenty of storage space and the cabin was very quiet during the cruise. The cabin did however have one major design flaw and that is that the air conditioning vent outlet is right above the heads of the passengers when in bed - not a good idea! The balcony was very nice with chairs and a table provided.