Noordam Cruise Review by Lost in Paradise
- Sail Date: December 2010
- Destination: Southern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Signature Superior Verandah Suite
Married couple in our late 50's. This was our 7th cruise. We have cruised on Celebrity (3), Holland America (2), Princess (1) & Carnival (1). Our preference is Celebrity. We picked HAL this time because it had the itinerary we liked.
Holland America is geared toward an older crowd. You will see a lot more canes/walkers & wheelchairs than on Celebrity, Princess or Carnival. They tend to start the day a little later so if you like to have a early breakfast or get a good spot at the pool you will have really good luck. The older crowd also means fewer kids on board. One drawback is they move a lot slower around the ship.
We made our own flight and hotel arrangements and flew into Fort Lauderdale a day before our cruise. We always like to do this because if you fly in the same day as you sail it makes for a really long day and you just seem to tire out pretty early that evening. Coming in the day before lets you get a good nights sleep and you feel pretty good on sail day. We stayed at the Hampton Inn Cruiseport. They have a courtesy shuttle that will pick you up at the airport and take you to the ship the next day. Be sure to sign up for the cruise ship shuttle when you check in. They also will take to a few nearby restaurants to eat.
We arrived at the cruise terminal around 11:30am. It was crowded and took a good hour from the time we got off the shuttle to the time we stepped on board.
The rooms were available about 1:00pm.
We booked a Superior Veranda Suite on Navigation Deck 8. Good closet space with plenty of hangers. Lots of shelf space. A couch and 2 chairs, a desk to do makeup/hair and another desk where you could read/write/etc. The bathroom had a double sink, a whirlpool tub with shower along with a separate shower. The veranda had a table with 2 chairs along with 2 other chairs with ottomans. We were very pleased with the size and layout of the room.
We did open dining and usually went down when the doors first open. The first couple of nights we shared a table with other couples. The rest of the nights we ended up dining at a table for 2. The food was good but not awesome. The selection and presentation was also good.
We dined 3 nights in the Pinnacle Grill. There is a $20pp up charge to dine here. We had made reservations for 2 nights prior to the ship sailing and ended up dining once again on the last night of the voyage. The food and service at the Pinnacle Grill in my opinion are worth the up charge. It is some really fine dining. However, one of the nights we had a reservation on was also a night they were doing something special. It was called "A Night at Le Cirque". It was already being done on some of the other ships and this was the very first night to be done on the Noordam. It was a $39pp up charge instead of the normal $20 for the Pinnacle. The premise was that the restaurant would be turned into the famous "Le Cirque" in New York. It was not. The only thing different that night was the menu. And the selection was not as good as what the regular Pinnacle Grill menu served. We paid the additional $19pp up charge because we thought it would be a fun experience. I really feel like we got ripped off. Shame on you Holland America for not delivering.
The shows were okay. If you've been on a cruise before you know what the shows are like. They did have a couple of real good feature performers but also some we had seen on previous cruises. If this is your first time cruising you should enjoy the shows.
The Noordam has been in service since 2006. Although clean and well kept it did look worn in a number of areas. The biggest thing I noticed is the carpets could use replacing. The public areas not so much but the carpet in our stateroom looked really worn. The only other real bothersome item is that one of the halves of the pool roof enclosure was not working. That side of the pool area got really hot and stuffy during the day. Hopefully they were able to repair it before the next sailing. The roof enclosure is one of the nice things about the HAL ships. If the weather turns inclement they just close the roof and the pool stays enjoyable.
Everyone seems to be doing the scheduled disembarkation times which really makes things work smooth. You just show up at the appointed time and you get off the ship and through customs in no time. We used the airline baggage service for the first time on this trip. For $19pp they get your boarding passes for you, take your luggage from the ship to the airport and get it checked through to your final destination. After you set your luggage outside your stateroom the last night of the cruise you don't see it again (unless you get pulled by Customs) until you claim it at your final destination.
HALF MOON CAY
This is Hal's private island in the Bahamas. It is really beautiful with a fantastic beach. We rented a clamshell cover which I highly recommend. They have a number of other activities you can do while there. If more than one ship is there be sure to eat lunch early as it will get real crowded.
HAL is a good cruise line. If you are okay with the older slower crowd you will have an enjoyable time. We would cruise HAL again. GRAND TURK: Our first visit to this port. We both like Grand Turk. A very small island (approx 3-1/2 wide x7 miles long). The cruise dock area has a lot of shops, a Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville and the whole area is really clean. There is a nice beach right next to the dock. The island is still recovering from previous hurricane damage but they are making progress. Took the Conch World tour which was interesting, enjoyed the drive around the island.
SAMANA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Our first visit to this port. This is old time Caribbean. Very poor but a beautiful island. Lots of locals hounding you to buy their wares. A lot of people will not like this port but if you are a traveler in the true sense it a place you'll want to see. We did not take an excursion on this island.
BONAIRE: Our second visit to this port. Beautiful clear water. You can see fish swimming all along the waterfront. Did not take any excursions but will likely do the next time we're here. Some good shopping.
CURACAO: Our second visit to this port. One of our favorite ports. Part of the reason for this cruise selection was that we were in port at Curacao from morning until 11:00pm that night. The harbor front area is really beautiful at night. Great shopping. We took an excursion the first time we came here but decided to just walk around this time. We ashore early in the morning for several hours and then came back to the ship to eat lunch and rest. We went back out later in the day, ate dinner in town and sat around the harbor until about 9:30pm. It was wonderful.
ARUBA: This was our 3rd visit to this port. Another one our our favorites. No excursions this time. Good shopping and just walking around. One of those places I wouldn't mine just flying to and spending a week.
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