Noordam Cruise Review by LocoLoco1
- Sail Date: February 2012
- Destination: Southern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Neptune Deluxe Verandah Suite
Being 50ish, we 2 couples were out to enjoy the sunshine and a few 'Island Experiences' of Snorkeling, SCUBA, and of course...laying around, shopping and having a coupla dozen cocktails. Curiously, we NEVER, ever once waited for a cold beer or cocktail aboard ship. Maybe $tipping$ a few bucks on Day#1 worked. We woulda liked live Beach-boy music Pool-side as on previous cruises, but no such thing; so we settled for 60's Muzak. But Caesar at the aft LidoBar and the server gals...you were great!! This was a timely 'Sunshine Cruise' for us. But I digress...
Arriving 1 day ahead of time was a very good idea. We stayed at Hilton GardenInn, which provided FREE AirportPickup and then $8bucks/pp for a van to NOORDAM the next day.
We were boarded NOORDAM later than planned due to a 'Super-Scrub Sanitizing' of the ship, so we left the Hilton at 2/pm instead of 11/am. I heard nary a complaint while we waited to board. Clean is GOOD!! Thanks, HAL. The NOORDAM appeared ship-shape. The new MANDATORY Life-boat drill is a good thing in my opinion, as I am a boat-owner myself. NOORDAM's fixtures and rigging and over-all condition was good, in my opinion. It's only 6 years old. Did the starboard shaft/screw have a little 'harmonic rumble'?? Yes,I guess it did.
One of us 4 was banged up years ago and he thus used a wheelchair. HAL was most accomodating while boarding etc. and thru-out the entire cruise.
The HAL passenger mix was..uh, 'reserved'; we were on the younger end of the demographics...and found that to be GREAT!! No damn belly-flop contests on THIS cruise or loud 2/am partyer's. We've been there..dun that ourselves..30yrs ago. Only a handful of kids and adults under 30 aboard ship. That's HAL.
We used LIDO for breakfast frequently...and had lunch poolside often. Yes, we attended 2 formal nights. We always do Open-seating in the MainDining Rm. That worked just A-OK. Menu was good..desserts got an A+ by the gals. We didn't do the PinnacleGrill this time, but heard it was great, as we had found on previous cruises. Our eating tastes at home made HAL food and occasional Room-service seem wonderful. If certain clientelle find it lacking in recent years...so be it. We found it to be most adequate in all respects food-wise.
Our 2 Suite/cabins were across the hall from each other. Suite#6175 overlooked the stern. Beautiful, sumptuous and Handicap-Accessible. Our 1 teeny complaint about the Cruise? The Suite's huge Veranda overlooking the stern was Hotter-n-The Hinges on the Gates of Hades. But, duh...we were near the Equator. We threw a bucket of water on the furniture and teak to 'Chill it a bit' on sea days. We aren't solitary types...so we laid around the aft pool on Deck#9 with a nice sea-breeze every day. No rain. Sweet.
We did NOT take in many shows. Rather, we took in the PianoLounge with Michael; doing a good job of playing/singing everything from Sinatra to DrJohn. We fellas spent our non-shore days drinking beer 'round the Aft Pool. The gals yakked in the library and did Pool aerobics and got a few massages in the Spa when not ashore. Numerous gals crochetted afghans most days we noticed. The casino was busy til about 11:30/pm. Then turn out the lights.
The artwork aboard the NOORDAM reflected an Art-Deco motif, with PeterMax,Andy Warhol and some funky sculptures making the ship feel fresh..not old.
We liked the SIZE of the NOORDAM. The Prinsendam is smaller and just fine, but the Mega-cruisers are NOT our style; so NOORDAM's 2 swimming pools and 5 bars suited us to a tee.
Before going on to the Island Shore days, I will add one final comment/suggestion: Get'Expedited Baggage' for the $18/bucks p/p so you can get the heck off first, but it's available only IF you fly home on 1 and only 1 Air Carrier. If money is no object, go Door-to-Door Luggage I suppose..for about $800 bucks. We did 'Expedited'...and never dealt with baggage til Minneapolis, MN. A clever HAL lure to get people off the ship at 7:30/am. I'm all for it.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
ArubaWe loved Aruba...for different reasons. We guys headed off to 'Zee Rover' beach-side cantina/restaurant with our awesome Taxi-driver, Urbano Alders, who knew EVERYBODY and EVERYTHING about Aruba. He made our day extra-special. We hit the Valero Refinery's Baby Beach; a Very, very cool scene. Next?? Aruba's Super-Max Prison. Then the world's largest Salt-water de-salinization Plant. Then off for another beer in a local hang-out. Then to Aruba's Harley-Davidson dealer for the mandatory H-D T-shirt.View All 1,367 Aruba Cruise Port Reviews
Oh,...did I fail to mention the Gals were 'shopping' during this 'Guy Thing' day?
Again, we went our separate ways, and found Aruba is spiffy/Neat as a pin and we guys had a good time doing our own thing. The gals enjoyed the shopping within blocks of the Pier. Duh...
I wished that maybe we could have spent an 'Overnight' on either Curacao or Aruba....but that's not the way Cruise ships do it.
View Cruise Critic's Aruba Cruise Port Review
BonaireBONAIRE was where we took Woodwinds Catamaran Snorkel Excursion. It was wonderful. Ulf's capable crew were the best!! The turtles, coral and thousands of colorful fishies were THE highlight of my fellow cruisers 10-day cruise....and for good reason.View All 484 Bonaire Cruise Port Reviews
One enters the water with a flotation belt and Snorkel gear in about 12'feet of water...always accompanied by experienced crew. Some had NEVER, ever snorkeled before. Not to worry!! THIS is why people come to the Islands. This experience left us all giddy. To be fair.. a few people got cold feet at the very end and couldn't bear to enter the water for whatever reason. Boy, did they miss out. But for non-swimmers I can understand a last-minute hestitation. If only they had first snorkeled in the ship's Pool they'd been fine. Oh, well....
View Cruise Critic's Bonaire Cruise Port Review
Scuba - BeginnerInsofar that I had a gimped ankle, I chose not to do a 2-tank dive. My SCUBA experience at THE WALL on GrandTurk was stupendous beyond words. Scuba-time is always fabulous. I brought my own mask/snorkel/rash-guard booties. GrandTurk is a world-famous underwater'Wow'. The gals hit JimmyBuffett's Margaritaville. GrandTurk is a diver/snorkelers paradise...little else from most accounts.View All 3 Scuba - Beginner Reviews
Half Moon CayWe didn't do HalfMoonCay, and here's why. It's like a 'fake' island. Nice sand, nice warm water, nice t-shirts, nice Para-sailing. Nice everything. It's a Carnival Corporate Sun/beach experience. Not our style. I suppose it would be great for kids insofar as it is a tightly orchestrated scene. It would probably be perfect as well for someone who was stir-crazy to get off the boat.View All 959 Half Moon Cay Cruise Port Reviews
Ourselves?? We lazed around 1000 feet from shore 'round the NOORDAM's pool and never walked one step.
View Cruise Critic's Half Moon Cay Cruise Port Review