We heard that Holland America has a more mature passenger crowd and fewer kids. The activities are geared towards a more mature clientele, but there is still a kids club and swimming pool for the few kids who were on the cruise, but no water slides, etc.
Holland America really went the extra mile to keep the guests happy. One of the sightseeing destinations On the itinerary was a morning of scenic cruising in Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park (New Zealand). Unfortunately, the area was hit by major storms a few days prior to our visit. This was widely reported in the News. As a result, the fiords were inundated by large amounts of floating debris, large trees, etc and it was deemed by the authorities as unsafe for cruise ships to enter. Captain Scott and Cruise Director, Chris, went out of their way to arrange an alternative itinerary involving a visit to Stewart Island, the southern-most island of New Zealand. At short notice, they arranged for a pilot to meet the ship and guide us in to the port of Oban on Stewart Island. The organising to do this was no mean feet and, despite the disappointment of missing out on Milford Sound, we were lucky enough to be one of the few cruise ships to visit Stewart Island each year.
Food on Noordam was very good. We ate our evening meal in the main dining room on about half the days and the other half we ate in the Lido buffet on deck 9. We had most breakfasts in the Lido. The variety was excellent. Coffee in the Lido seems to cater for American pallets, as it is quite week and not really that good. Espresso machine coffee is available at extra cost at several cafes and bars on the ship. We tried this once and found it to be excellent, and we were given a complimentary selection of very nice cakes and macaroons to go with it. Use of porcelain cups or glasses instead of paper take-away cups would improve the experience.
This cabin (7119) was on level 7, Rotterdam deck of Noordam. While not huge, it was of adequate size and Very clean. The room stewards kept the room and bathroom immaculate. In the evenings, they straightened out the beds and turned down the bed covers, placing a small chocolate on the bed for each person, as well as any important notices. There was no detectable noise or vibration from the ships engines in the cabin and very little from passing passengers in the corridor outside. I would gladly stay in this cabin again. Seas were not excessively rough during our cruise, so we didn’t experience any problems with sea sickness.
My home town. I love it dearly!
We bought tickets in the 24Hour Hop On Hop Off red decker bus line. The fee of $30 per person (total $60) was not good value for us, the buses only operated between the hours of 9:00am and 4:30 pm. We visited the Cascade Brewery and could have done it in 10 minutes and $15 each way ($30 total) in a taxi cab. By the time we had lunch and visited the museum, there was no time to use the red decker bus to go anywhere because the service stopped at 4:30 pm. The name “24 hour Hop On Hop Off” is misleading in this regard and they should change it.
Port of Akaroa. It takes about 1.5 hours by road to get to Christchurch from Akaroa.
Beware shops selling “NZ Jade”. Some of them (including the one where I was trapped) don’t tell you that they are selling Canadian Jade. This is disgraceful, unconscionable behaviour.
Lovely town. A free shuttle takes you for a short drive into town. There is a market, selling handicrafts, souvenirs and gemstones, on Sundays. Not sure if it is open on other days.
We took the free shuttle into town. The down was rebuilt, largely in Art Deco style, following an earthquake in the early 20th century.
Great town. Very Scenic. Nice beach. You can hike to the top of a sizeable hill used by hang gliders if you are adventurous.
The biggest city in New Zealand and a sizeable metropolis. We disd a city tour here last year.