We chose this cruise because there was a great deal (including gratuities) just a few weeks before sailing.
We live in Vancouver, so the transportation to and from the ship was easy, as was the embarkation and disembarkation (just about the smoothest we have experienced).
We would consider the Noordam to be a mid-sized ship and although we generally prefer smaller vessels, the Noordam has retained some of the charm of the past (which we enjoy). Our sail-away inside cabin assignment was roomier than many and convenient (10th floor outside the Crow's Nest) although I think that we got an extra dose of the fog horn when it needed to be sounded (just a couple of nights). We also suffered from poor sound insulation and neighbours who kept their TV on loud all day and all night. A sound machine function on my phone managed to drown/muffle the sound enough for us to sleep. The cabin steward team was very capable and provided good service without being intrusive.
The food in the main dining-room was generally very good as was the service. We ate breakfast and lunch at the Lido Market and generally enjoyed the food there as well, although sticky buns (dry), French toast (little egg content) and pancakes (under-cooked) were disappointments.
Fortunately, they have kept the tea and that wonderful opportunity to relax and meet some interesting new people (a highlight of cruising for us).
The vast majority of the crew were friendly and helpful. The Cruise Director (Stone) was very polished in her delivery and we valued her engaged but not hyped approach to her announcements and presentations. Entertainment was a bit hit and miss. The EXC and BBC enrichment presentations were very good, but not up to the standard we are used to with live presentations by people with real knowledge and experience. The production singers and dancers were about average. The comedians were mostly good, but one experiment with a comedy club style comedian died an ugly death. He just didn't research the demographics well and wasn't able to figure it out to adjust his material on the fly. I doubt that HAL or the comedian will try that again. The Lincoln Center musicians were very skilled, but a bit too stuffy for my tastes. I prefer the older Adagio duo approach with a mix of classical and popular music. Speaking of stuffy, the room they played in was way too small and way too hot for comfort. They did schedule some ballroom dancing on a few days at 5 pm, but really didn't make much of an effort. The first day they just plain forgot about it until someone called the front desk. Thereafter, music just started playing in BB Kings at 5 pm from an invisible DJ. Most of the time we were the only couple there. Bad venue, Bad timing and Bad music... A real disappointment after our last Amsterdam cruise with a trio playing dance music in Oceans Bar most evenings.
It sad that there is so little live music and it all starts in the evening (even on sea days). It is too bad that they don't spread their entertainment investment a bit further and more frequently.
We didn't do any excursions as we have been to the ports multiple times, but were able to find great hiking trails within walking distance at each port.
All in all, it was a great experience, but sadly, some of the charm of HAL is slipping away and they seem to be following the bad example of bigger ships and less class.
Our sail-away inside cabin assignment was roomier than many and convenient (10th floor outside the Crow's Nest) although I think that we got an extra dose of the fog horn when it needed to be sounded (just a couple of nights). We also suffered from poor sound insulation and neighbours who kept their TV on loud all day and all night. A sound machine function on my phone managed to drown/muffle the sound enough for us to sleep. The cabin steward team was very capable and provided good service without being intrusive.
Make sure that you save enough time for this port before and/or after your cruise.
Well developed port. The Rainbird Trail was a bit of a disappointment.
Some great hikes from the top of the tram. We did Gold Ridge with great views.
Try the Yakutainia Point and Smuggler's Cove Hike
But not as good as it used to be just a few years ago.
Not too much to do as it is mostly an embarkation/disembarkation point, but we did a couple of short hikes around the town. Unfortunately, Marathon mountain trail as only good to the top of Jeep Trail. Bench Trail just petered out into some high grass above the tree line.