My wife and I sailed HAL Noordam through the eastern Mediterranean May 21-31, 2011. Ports of call included Dubrovnik, Corfu, Olympia, Santorin, Kusadasi/Ephesus, Athens and Messina. It was our first cruise on HAL, 4th cruise overall. All in all, we give highest marks to the room, the crew who invariably were friendly and considerate and the ports of call. We opted for the superior veranda stateroom which offered room to move around, a king sized bed, reasonable sized bathroom including small Jacuzzi and, of course, the outside veranda. Less good was the food which was not overly special, even in the dining room. The Lido eating area on the top deck, which was open throughout the day, was cafeteria-like, and an absolute mess in the morning for breakfast, particularly if there were early morning tour departures. Biggest gripe was a sense of HAL 'nickling and diming' throughout the cruise. I don't think that it is unreasonable to offer soft drinks at meals. But on Noordam, everything other than water, coffee and lemonade costs extra. Wine at meals was priced upwards of 3x retail. I guess you don't mind if you're a teetotaller. If you're not, be sure to read about Dubrovnik option below. Also, internet access on board is satellite-driven so slow, and very expensive. Don't plan to do much internet browsing on board unless you've got a bottomless checking account. Tours were very expensive and a mixed bag. We opted to go our own in Dubrovnik, Croatia which was a fun walkabout in the walled city. Also, there is a major food store just outside the controlled area at dockside where you can stock up on snacks, soft drinks, wine, liquor and mixers to avoid the ridiculous prices on board ship (see above). Corfu: We opted for the ship's tour to Paleokastritsa & Corfu Town which turned out to be a bust. Instead, take the shuttle to Corfu and spend the day walking the city. That is what we ended up doing and that made the stop worthwhile. And if you are a senior you can access one of the town's two fortresses for only 2 Euro which includes access to a lovely WC and cafe and 360 degree views over the harbor and city. Olympia: Olympia turned out to be a sleeper high point of the trip. Be sure to visit the museum on site when you are there. Santorini: Crowds, crowds and more crowds. You can take the tram directly form the port up to Thira and avoid paying the price of the tour. But, the distance from Thira to Oia, the other urban highpoint on the island, probably means signing up for the tour. We were in port until 9PM so in principle there was time to walk to Oia from Thira and back but it would have been a stretch. Kusadasi: Ephesus was one of two primary targets of the cruise. We contracted with Osman Tourism (www.aboutephesus.com) for a private tour. It actually was cheaper than a ship's tour and provided quicker access to and a much more detailed tour of the site and the home of the Virgin Mary - important because of crowds. Be prepared to be sold Turkish carpets at the end of every tour. Leave your credit cards on board unless you are prepared to purchase a carpet. They are very persuasive. Athens: Athens was the other primary target so we also contracted with a local driver through Nikos Loukas (nikosloukas1@gmail.com). This option also proved to be very worthwhile, though expensive. In our case, we encountered a previously unannounced strike downtown so having a guide who knew city streets was really helpful. Drivers cannot guide in the various sites so read up ahead of time unless you want to pay extra for a guide. Be sure to see the new Acropolis Museum. Messina: Didn't know what to expect in Messina so took the tour to the Tindari Ruins and the Santuario della Madonna Nera Church. The tour was quite educational and fun.

Noordam - 10 Day Ropman Empire

Noordam Cruise Review by ctinsman

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Trip Details
My wife and I sailed HAL Noordam through the eastern Mediterranean May 21-31, 2011. Ports of call included Dubrovnik, Corfu, Olympia, Santorin, Kusadasi/Ephesus, Athens and Messina. It was our first cruise on HAL, 4th cruise overall.



All in all, we give highest marks to the room, the crew who invariably were friendly and considerate and the ports of call. We opted for the superior veranda stateroom which offered room to move around, a king sized bed, reasonable sized bathroom including small Jacuzzi and, of course, the outside veranda.



Less good was the food which was not overly special, even in the dining room. The Lido eating area on the top deck, which was open throughout the day, was cafeteria-like, and an absolute mess in the morning for breakfast, particularly if there were early morning tour departures.



Biggest gripe was a sense of HAL 'nickling and diming' throughout the cruise. I don't think that it is unreasonable to offer soft drinks at meals. But on Noordam, everything other than water, coffee and lemonade costs extra. Wine at meals was priced upwards of 3x retail. I guess you don't mind if you're a teetotaller. If you're not, be sure to read about Dubrovnik option below. Also, internet access on board is satellite-driven so slow, and very expensive. Don't plan to do much internet browsing on board unless you've got a bottomless checking account.



Tours were very expensive and a mixed bag. We opted to go our own in Dubrovnik, Croatia which was a fun walkabout in the walled city. Also, there is a major food store just outside the controlled area at dockside where you can stock up on snacks, soft drinks, wine, liquor and mixers to avoid the ridiculous prices on board ship (see above).



Corfu: We opted for the ship's tour to Paleokastritsa & Corfu Town which turned out to be a bust. Instead, take the shuttle to Corfu and spend the day walking the city. That is what we ended up doing and that made the stop worthwhile. And if you are a senior you can access one of the town's two fortresses for only 2 Euro which includes access to a lovely WC and cafe and 360 degree views over the harbor and city.



Olympia: Olympia turned out to be a sleeper high point of the trip. Be sure to visit the museum on site when you are there.



Santorini: Crowds, crowds and more crowds. You can take the tram directly form the port up to Thira and avoid paying the price of the tour. But, the distance from Thira to Oia, the other urban highpoint on the island, probably means signing up for the tour. We were in port until 9PM so in principle there was time to walk to Oia from Thira and back but it would have been a stretch.



Kusadasi: Ephesus was one of two primary targets of the cruise. We contracted with Osman Tourism (www.aboutephesus.com) for a private tour. It actually was cheaper than a ship's tour and provided quicker access to and a much more detailed tour of the site and the home of the Virgin Mary - important because of crowds. Be prepared to be sold Turkish carpets at the end of every tour. Leave your credit cards on board unless you are prepared to purchase a carpet. They are very persuasive.



Athens: Athens was the other primary target so we also contracted with a local driver through Nikos Loukas (nikosloukas1@gmail.com). This option also proved to be very worthwhile, though expensive. In our case, we encountered a previously unannounced strike downtown so having a guide who knew city streets was really helpful. Drivers cannot guide in the various sites so read up ahead of time unless you want to pay extra for a guide. Be sure to see the new Acropolis Museum.



Messina: Didn't know what to expect in Messina so took the tour to the Tindari Ruins and the Santuario della Madonna Nera Church. The tour was quite educational and fun.
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Cabin Review

Signature Superior Verandah Suite
Cabin SS 6108
Superior veranda was a pleasant accommodation.
Upper Verandah Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins