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Sail Date: March 2008
We are a family of 4 from Ontario, with 2 boys ages 4 and 10. In tow we picked up my Inlaws from Quebec in our minivan and drove down I-87 the day before. Stayed in Nanuet-Hampton Inn-about 40 minutes from NY pier. Hotel is brand new, but ... Read More
We are a family of 4 from Ontario, with 2 boys ages 4 and 10. In tow we picked up my Inlaws from Quebec in our minivan and drove down I-87 the day before. Stayed in Nanuet-Hampton Inn-about 40 minutes from NY pier. Hotel is brand new, but a little tricky to get in from the busy road. Had 2 snorkel vest delivered there and was waiting for me on arrival. Left for the pier at 10am- crossed the GW bridge and was waiting to board by 11am. Painless embarkation, eating lunch in the lido by 12:30pm. Cabins ready by 1:30ish. We had a connecting OV on the main deck, which afforded lots of interaction between our boys with their grandparents. Chorie our room steward worked very hard to keep our beach gear/shoes all in order thru out our cruise. Very creative towel animals every night. Unlimited laundry $70/ 2 pick ups a day/last day San Juan. Dining: We had one breakfast and lunch in the dining room and found it too lengthy. Most of our other meals ended up in the LIDO. All the stations in the LIDO are very spread out, so if you wanted a little bit from each station expect to spend a long time in lines! Best Lido foods- eggs benedict, waffles with strawberry and blueberry sauce, fresh squeezed OJ, asian stir fry(need more noodle variety), fresh mango wedges, bread pudding, hot fudge sundae, grape juice. Not so good LIDO food- sushi(all vegetables and rice mashed up) Hard to find berries, tomatoes, limited salad dressings. All dinners were in the Vista Dining Room with AYWD. On our first night we were seated at table 189 for 6 at the bottom of the staircase with bench seating on one side. The boys were more patient sitting on the benches and we had a perfect view of the flower ceiling. Waiter: Saiful, Assistant:Dany, Wine Steward:Danny, was excellent. We always went for dinner around 6:15 and had the same table or next table over. The only reservation we made was for 2 formal nights to ensure we had the same great staff at 5:45pm. After the third night our waiter Saiful was always waiting for us with a smile at the entrance to welcome us to his table. Dany always brought our boys their favorite juice on arrival. I did notice about 1/3 of the down stairs seating had the same people dining at the same tables every night. Lineup for dining did not start until after 7:30pm. Food was very good 4 star quality. Best dishes: escargot, vegetable stacks, shrimp cocktail, prime rib, filet, pot roast(with pineapple yams!) veal. Crab legs and lobster tails just so so. Tofu yuck! Duck dried.Not enough cheese on the French onion soup. Boys always shared a cold fruit soup and fruit cocktail in a martini glass. Desserts were all yummy! Had cappuccino most nights but very strong. Dessert buffet a big waste of time and money. Most chocolate waxy and way too crowded and late at night for our kid's. Taco bar was great for cheese sauce, guacamole and chips; but hours were only limited to 3-6pm. Activities: We like to race around the ship participating in Dam Dollar events. The same group of 15 showed up and we got to know each other well. The two activity organizers knew us by first names and we never had to fight for a spot to participate. Kid's only got to mini putt and all other events were for 18 years plus. Children sat around cheering on their parents. It would have been better if they could had done more family activities. We ended up redeeming our dam dollars for 2 mugs, cap, T-shirt and towel. We had rough sea days going and returning so we only managed to swim 3 times in the LIDO pool due to busy port days. Not much benefit for a covered pool in the winter when seas are bad! Entertainment: We saw all the shows at 9pm and loved them all. Highlight: Emma Sinclair doing Mary Poppin songs. CC members meeting was a hoot! Got to meet about a handful of members and won 2 door prizes. Ports: Tortola-Brewers Bay- could not swim far out enough to see any fish. Almost deserted beach with about 4 other groups from our ship. Pelicans dive bombing down in the water for fish and chickens/chicks roaming around. Dominica-private tour with Reyno; driver-Ashford, guide-Suriyanna, Nice Farm, Emerald Pool, Champagne Reef, Scott's head lookout. Moss in the rain forest was soft like feathers, bubbles at the reef resembled diamonds in the sunlight. Barbados Glory tours: half day tour to Wildlife Center and Harrison Caves. Monkeys were friendly until someone starting feeding them bread at which they became very aggressive and chased me off the trail! Jamal our driver was entertaining and drop us off at the most beautiful beach Accra. St. Martin- we took a cab to Mullet Beach, had the best and inexpensive bbq ribs at Rosie's. Walked to Maho for the planes and bought inexpensive liquor at the local grocery store. Took the local bus back for $2 each and sat with locals all the way back. Grandpa and 8 year old son got to sit next to a couple of hotties in the back-grin. St Thomas-Godfrey tour, Tom(gentle) his brother picked us up for shopping(pirate shop-expensive/small), toured and went to Sapphire Beach. Best beach for snorkeling. The water was shallow, calm and we saw the most variety of fishes. 4 year old son kept chasing 2 small ducks back and forth across the beach the whole time. San Juan- Walked to San Cristolbal Fort, went to a bakery and son had a powdered sugar bun that was so fresh; regret not buying more for the ship. Club Hal: 4 year old loved it and skipped dessert every night to go. 10 year old really liked the video games(ps2 only) and music touch screen LCD. Boys did go to half the shows(dancing) and enjoyed the magician-Mysteriac the most. No children cooking classes, free arcade time only one afternoon, and free color you own T-shirt on the last night. Counselors were young and full of energy; one from Canada. Activities around the ship we enjoyed: Exploration Cafe, Chess Set, String Quartet, Crow's Nest loungers, trivia contest, group Pictionary, Galley Tour(crowded) Activities we missed: Cooking show and IPod Art tour not offered on last sea day! Disembarkation: ZOO! At 11:30am, an officer saw us still waiting in our room and asked for our color tag; within 2 minutes we were called and off hunting for our bags. Huge lines waiting for porters and elevators. Noordam staff forced everyone in one line while port staff were directing others to go to the front and drive car around. Everyone was trying to cram in the the 2 elevators to go down to the bus and up to parking lot. Between me and my husband we lugged 6 people's luggage on our own with no porters in sight. Luggage for boarding guests were piled mountains high clogging the entry way. We spent two nights after at the Sheraton Manhattan. Natural History museum was a highlight as well as FAO Swartz,ToysRUS and M&M store in Timesquare. Conclusion: Will only consider HAL for future cruises when travelling with seniors. Service was the best we ever had; but would be willing to give up some for more active activities on board. Things I will miss most: The wonderful smiling staff always willing to please. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
This was our first Holland America cruise. We have sailed Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Carnival. It was our tenth cruise. I am 54 and my husband is 56. We arrived at the pier at 10:25. The Noordam had just arrived in New York ... Read More
This was our first Holland America cruise. We have sailed Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Carnival. It was our tenth cruise. I am 54 and my husband is 56. We arrived at the pier at 10:25. The Noordam had just arrived in New York at 10 AM because of slowing down due to a storm on Tuesday night. We were told we would not be able to board until 3:00. My husband and I and I both received a $15 OBC. There were shuttle buses to take us into the city if we wanted. It was raining so we decided not to go. The last of the passengers were off about 1:45 and then they started embarkation around 1:55. The process was so smooth once it started. We were on the ship and in our cabin at 2:15. We had a VA aft balcony cabin 8136. Our muster drill and sail away were rainy. We had AYW dining and ate at 7:00 the first night and went to the 9:00 show. After dinner we noticed that the ship was very rocky. This lasted almost all day Thursday. You could not walk up the halls without bumping back and forth into the walls. The waves were only 12.5 feet. It was the wind that made for rough sailing. Friday was much better. Saturday/Grand Turk. This was our third time there and I have to say the, nicest. The Noordam was the only ship in port which is usual for that stop. Our last visit was in August on the Crown Princess and Carnival Triumph was also there. Each ship holds approximately 3,000 passengers, I'm sure you can imagine what it was like. This time it was not as crowded as even our first visit. I guess alot of people may not get off the ship. The stores were not crowded so it was good! We even got a lounger this time. We took a walk on the beach while the crew did their water safety by the ship. Sunday/Tortola. We did not do anything there but get off the ship and walk. It was amazing to see roosters just walking in the street there. We're used to seeing cats, not roosters. It was cute. Here we saw one of the famous Caribbean donkeys with the flowers and sunglasses. We saw one of his relatives in St. Thomas. The temperature was a beautiful 84 degrees, and not humid. Monday/St. Maarten. We did the Explorer Sea and See which is a double decker catamaran ride and an island tour. We got the bus at the pier and a lovely woman from Holland was our tour guide. We drove to the boat and sailed around the island. We docked on the French side for 1hr 15min. of shopping. It was Easter Monday so many stores were closed. We enjoy just walking around anyway looking at the sites. We went back to the Explorer and gathered and then on to a bus for a one hour tour and back to the ship. The excursion was almost 4 hours. We were back around 12. I would recommend that if anyone is interested. I hear the America's Cup is a good excursion also. Tuesday/St. Thomas - we visited with friends that live on the island and visited the St. Thomas Synagogue. This day was cloudy and overcast. We had a little rain but it did not hinder any plans. Wednesday/San Juan from 7-1. We got off the ship and walked. There was one other ship in port that day Silver Wind I think the name was. There were not many crowds there either. It was a nice time. The crew and staff were the friendliest we have encountered on our cruises. They really make you feel special and you can see that they like what they are doing. The Noordam singers and dancers were great. The stage was fantastic with steps moving, people coming up from the floor, etc. The last day when we went to the disembarkation talk in the Vista, the crew all came out, including the singers and dancers. The room stewards carried towel animals, the laundry staff coat hangers, the kitchen staff carried spoons, etc. At the end they sang a song about love in different languages led by the Noordam singers. This is not to be missed. At the end of the song they "shot" streamers into the crowd. As the staff left the stage the cleaning crew immediately went to work picking up the streamers with brooms and dustpans. They are very serious about their jobs. There were 294 kids under 18 on the ship. For the most part what I saw they were well behaved. One morning I was at the front desk and there was a gentleman asking to see the Hotel Manager. He was told he would be there at 9AM and he would call him in his cabin. When asked what the issue was he said "kids running wild." I went up the elevator with him and he told me the past three nights he encountered kids running all over the ship. At the movie the night before they were throwing popcorn and running in front of the screen. Coming home Thursday the seas were moderate with some rolling. The captain said it should get better in the late afternoon and we should have smooth sailing all the way to NY. We did. Friday it was sunny and about 67 degrees. We were able to sit by the aft pool. The only thing we didn't like was the AYW Dining. We were on the waitlist we found out when I thought we were confirmed late seating. We're used to Princess with the Anytime Dining concept. If you like the waiter and table you can make a standing reservation for the table and time for the rest of the cruise. HAL has you call after 8 AM every morning for a reservation for that evening. We did end up with the same section and waiter three nights. The food was good so it wasn't the end of the world. At first we were going to dinner at 7PM. One day we couldn't make a reservation for that time so we did 8PM. That worked out better because we noticed the dining room was in sync with the Traditional Dining Room and everything flowed better. It probably had to do with the kitchen. It seemed at 7 we waited long for everything and at 8 there was more of a flow. We were able to see the Baked Alaska parade and the last night when the waiters sang. At 7 we would have missed that or would have been eating an appetizer when the parade came through for the early seating. If we knew that early on we would have made our reservations at the times of Traditional Dining. Maybe in the future they will begin to allow guests to make the reservation for the entire cruise if they so choose, instead of calling daily. . We had AYW dining. When we ate at 7:00, we went to the 9:00 show and when we ate at 8:00, we went to the 7:00 show. We always went to the Lido at 11:15 to "see" what they had. The ice cream station was good too. I liked the waffle cones. We usually stopped there about 4 each day. We attended all the shows in the Vista Lounge. I like that the show times are around the dining times so if you have early seating, you go to the late show and if you late seating, the early show. The shows were great. The Noordam singers and dancers had one particular show which was about the best I have seen on a cruise, it was called "That's Vegas." The stage was fantastic with stairs moving, etc. We had a variety of entertainment. A comedian/ventriloquist, a writer comedian, an English singer who sang a wide range of music from opera to show tunes, a husband and wife team that performed illusions and acrobatic lifts and dance, and a pianist. Adam Dyer was the Cruise Director. He was a nice gentleman. He has a great voice, like he should be on the radio. The Captain was very visible and friendly. The aft balcony was lovely and the room was great with lots of storage. I liked that there were closets with doors. Princess' closets were open. They are not very visually appealing. The couch had drawers in the front of it and the bed had 2 drawers under it/them. I can go on and on..... A few other thoughts: • Announcements were minimal. • The pool and balcony chairs and loungers were resin wicker. They were very nice. • The retractable roof on the pool is great for cool days. Robert the steel pan/drum player was at this pool. • The aft pool where "adults only" was enforced was very nice. The HAL Cats were at this pool among other venues during the evening. • I asked my room steward to empty out the refrigerator and he placed everything in the vanity seat. It had a removable top so you can store things in it. • Plenty of storage, more than our Princess balcony cabins. • Bathtub which makes for larger shower area if you need a larger area • Medicine cabinet. I like things out of view. This was the most functional cabin of all our cruises. • The crew kept the ship very clean. They were always cleaning, vacuuming, etc. • Again, I could not walk past a crew member without getting and giving a friendly greeting. That was the best! We did the walk off disembarkation and were off the ship at 7:40. When you do this you have to carry your own luggage. We would travel HAL again in a heartbeat. The Noordam is a beautiful ship with a first class crew. It is unfortunate that HAL is leaving NY. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
Embarkation: The Noordam arrived late due to a storm at sea the day before. Therefore, we did not get to board as early as we would have liked. We were sent to Pier 88 and given a number and told to wait for our # to be called before we ... Read More
Embarkation: The Noordam arrived late due to a storm at sea the day before. Therefore, we did not get to board as early as we would have liked. We were sent to Pier 88 and given a number and told to wait for our # to be called before we could go to Pier 92 to board. Here is my gripe - when we were finally called, after about an 1:20 of waiting, we found out that people that had been arriving hours after us were getting to board right away. They were not sent to Pier 88 like the rest of us. We did receive a $15/person cabin credit, but so did the people who didn't get stuck having to wait. This is my only complaint though... Children's services and CLUB HAL: Our 10 year old loved club HAL and made lots of friends. She enjoyed the activities. Bare in mind, this was a holiday week, so there were lots of kids to make friends with. The staff at club HAL were young and energetic and got to know the kids well. The tweens did crafts, tie-dyed T-shirts, played games on deck, did scavenger hunts, played cards and Playstation. We also utilized in-cabin baby sitting on 7 nights for the baby. This cost $8.00 per hour and was WONDERFUL!! My husband and I got to a show, or the casino, or for a promenade each night for a couple of hours. The women from the front office who baby sat were fabulous. They missed their own children, so it felt good to give another mom some time with our precious children. I would sail HAL again with children in a heartbeat. The Ship: Beautiful ship....absolutely spotless. Our last cruise was on carnival, which was not the cleanest. The Noordam was absolutely spotless at all times. The public restrooms were shining I stopped going back to the cabin when I needed "to go." Since we were traveling with a baby, I felt very good about how clean the ship was. Our Stateroom: Our stateroom was a large window stateroom - a quad. We arranged to have a crib, and that was provided. I wouldn't say there was a great deal of storage space, but we got creative and were able to put everything away. We kept the stroller in the bathtub when nobody was bathing. The in-cabin refrigerator was great. We removed the honor bar items and placed our Sangria and baby items in it. We enjoyed the fresh fruit in our cabin - a really nice touch... The food/dining: The food was very good. We especially enjoyed the Belgian waffles with strawberries and the omelet station. There was a nice selection of yogurt, juice, and cereals for the children. We also enjoyed the lunch offerings on the Lido. The Mai Fun at the Asian station was particularly good. We never found that we were waiting on long lines at the lido, no matter what time we went. The food in the dining room was excellent as was the food at the Pinnacle Grill (worth the extra $30 per person). Our 10 year old enjoyed the children's menu in the dining room and on some nights ate at the Kid's Corner on the Lido. We had AYWD and had no problem reserving the table we wanted to eat at each night. Only complaint with AYWD for us is that the highchair wasn't waiting at the table when we arrived. We did eat breakfast in the dining room once and found the service to be a bit slow. We did dine in our cabin for breakfast. This service was terrific -the coffee arrived hot and our food was just as we ordered. It was great to use this service on the early port days so we didn't have to waste time going up to the Lido for Breakfast. The Entertainment: The shows were ok-very good. There was good variety of entertainment. We just didn't think the HAL singers and dancers were as good as the ones on Carnival. The other Acts - Count Dimas (who played the piano) and the couple who did the magic and dancing were very good. The HAL CATS band weren't the greatest, pretty much like a wedding band, but we did dance. The quartet was wonderful. I LOVED the culinary demonstrations - this was like going to a Cooking show. Loved getting to sample what they cooked. Robert - the steel drum player was really good too. BTW, HAL has Daily Mass and offered 3 Easter Sunday services too. The Ports: GRAND TURK - awesome and convenient beach. This was our favorite port...we enjoyed Margaritaville and snorkeling. It was amazing to swim next to the ship and they had great lounge chairs for free on the beach. TORTOLA - went to another beautiful beach (Cane Garden Bay). ST. MAARTEN - took the ship excursion to Orient Bay beach. This was a gorgeous beach and the lunch was very good. ST.THOMAS - we went to Coral World and Coki beach. Swam with the sea lions at Coral World (we booked this directly, not through the ship). SAN JUAN - we only had a few hours in San Juan, so we walked around up towards the forts. This was our 3rd time to San Juan, and we still enjoyed it - especially sailing out with the view of El Morro. The Service: One word to describe - WOW! I have never experienced service with a smile as I did on this ship. The crew went far beyond expectation - carrying my tray for me in the self-service area - grabbing something for us for the baby - you name it, they did it with a heart warming smile. I cannot say enough great things about John our cabin Steward. Beautiful towel animals. Fresh fruit every day. He even let me use his scrub brush to clean the stroller after the baby got sea sick. I loved these people. The were genuine, warm and wonderfully professional. Kudos to the crew! Disembarkation: We had mid-disembarkation, which gave an estimated time of 9:45 AM. We actually got off the ship at about 10:25 AM, which wasn't too bad. We live in NY and had family pick us up. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
EMBARKATION: Reading the recent reviews of the Noordam left me skeptical prior to boarding this ship. We have sailed on both the Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines. Let me tell you, the Noordam will not disappoint you. The ... Read More
EMBARKATION: Reading the recent reviews of the Noordam left me skeptical prior to boarding this ship. We have sailed on both the Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines. Let me tell you, the Noordam will not disappoint you. The embarkation was the most organized and efficient that we have ever seen. Having experienced this, it raises questions as to what takes the other lines so long to do the task. OUR ROOM: Clean and ready to explore before 1:30. Storage was plentiful with three large bureau-like cabinets immediately upon entering the room. Two large drawers at the end of the beds. Overhead storage above the pullout sofa and two drawers in each night table to store reading material and other items. The space under the bed easily stored our 3 empty large suitcases with room for more. The bathroom was well laid out and bright with storage beside the mirror and a shelf beneath the sink. The bed and pillows are probably better than most people sleep on at home. You select the fresh fruit that you would like in your fruit basket by completing a simple card in your room. Plenty of lighting in all areas of the room. Chocolates and creative towel animals delighted us every night when we entered the room. THE FOOD: The Lido cafe boast the best assortments of foods from Pastas, Asian, Omelets, Sandwiches to desserts all at their own stations. Crew greeted you ar the beginning of the buffet and kept lines (if any) organized. They were also at the end of the buffet to assist you in carrying your tray or helping you find a suitable table. Beverage carts also explored the dining area for your refreshments or you serve yourself at the Beverage station. Tables were always clean and prepared with cutlery. We never saw a empty table with a dirty dish on it for more than 30 seconds. As soon as the people left the table, crew were there to tidy it up for the next people. Plenty of table sizes from two to ten people. The Grill offered burgers, hot dogs, tacos, fries, etc. from 11:30am till 6pm. poolside. The two tiered formal Vista Dining room offered a fantastic assortment of entrees. The food was flavorful, appealing and always served hot. The service was impeccable and consistent with 5 star dining. We tipped well beyond the 15% gratuity because these people truly deserved extra recognition. The Pinnacle, again great flavorful food. Easy to get a reservation and nice place for a intimate dinner for two or to share with another couple. Relaxed, elegant and again impeccable service. ENTERTAINMENT/ACTIVITIES: Shows, games, movies with popcorn, culinary arts, karaoke competitions, many many more activities. You can get exhausted on this ship but you definitely won't be bored. Dancers and comedy acts were very entertaining. SHORE EXCURSIONS: We only took the one excursion through the ship and this went as planned leaving and returning as scheduled. The tour was well planned with no time lost due to poor organization. DISEMBARKATION: You may choose to expedite for DISEMBARKATION by taking your luggage off with you. We did this and were off the ship in 15 minutes after the ship received clearance from officials. SUMMARY: Good - Beautiful clean and well designed ship. A tentative crew that truly enjoy their jobs and it shows. Prepare for the extra pounds because the food is delicious. No reason to ever be bored. This ship has it all. Bad - No presence of ships officials at the Cruise Critic Meeting Ugly - Cost of formal portraits. They would have made a lot more money from me (and definitely others)if they lowered the cost of the formal pictures. Maybe from $39.95 to $19.95. Would of bought many more. At that price we only purchased 1 photo. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2008
Background- My husband and I are in our late 50's -early 60's, both professionals from South NJ. Most recently we have been on 8 Princess cruises. Since we have cruised with Princess the most and most recently, they will be my ... Read More
Background- My husband and I are in our late 50's -early 60's, both professionals from South NJ. Most recently we have been on 8 Princess cruises. Since we have cruised with Princess the most and most recently, they will be my basis for comparison. Recently, we also traveled on 2 river cruises in Germany and France, which were a wonderful but very different cruise experience. Several years ago, we were on 3 Celebrity, 2 Royal Caribbean, 2 Renaissance and 1 Carnival. Of all these, our favorite was Renaissance- small size, no smoking and different itineraries. This was our first HAL cruise. We were aboard the March 19, 2008 sailing of the Noordam to the Eastern Caribbean. Embarkation was delayed over 3 hours because the Noordam had hit bad weather returning to NYC. Of course, it was no one's fault that the pier situation was a mess with passengers disembarking and new passengers arriving. My husband dropped me off at Pier 92 and parked our car and found me with the "carry-on" and we made the trip to Pier 88! We had to walk four blocks in the rain, lugging our carry-on bags with way too much packed in them including several bottles of wine. Since we were just driving from our home in NJ, we brought our laptop too, so we really had a lot to carry. It wasn't the greatest way to start a vacation. Parking for the 10 day cruise was $180 and they did accept credit cards. We were given a $15 per person credit, I guess because many people missed lunch, which was a nice thing for HAL to do. I think we were finally on the ship around 4:30 PM. We had arrived at 12:30 PM. Another difference is the lifeboat drill on HAL. It is outside on a deck right below your assigned lifeboat. It was cold and rainy and took a long time while they called everyone's cabin number. On Princess it is a very serious matter also, but it is conducted inside in a comfortable theatre and there is no roll call. Our Cabin was a VD category with a doublewide verandah. We were in cabin 4166. There were no lounge chairs there as expected and I asked our cabin steward if we could please have two loungers. He told us we would have to ask at the front desk, which I did. I got a call that afternoon telling me it was not possible to get the lounge chairs. The next day I saw a different person at the front desk and asked him for the lounge chairs but...this time I mentioned cruise critic. I said I had seen pictures on CC of this verandah with lounge chairs and was very disappointed! That afternoon the lounge chairs arrived. Cause and effect? I tend to think that "Cruise Critic" was the magic word. In my opinion our cabin did not have enough storage space and it was an awkward layout with doors blocking the bathroom. There were no drawers by the desk either to keep my make-up etc. Also, we could not use the refrigerator, as it was jammed with things to buy. This was another difference from Princess, which offers an empty refrigerator with a pitcher of cold water in it. I understand now that I should have asked our cabin steward to remove those refrigerator items and store them in my vanity chair but I did not know this at the time. Service was great especially the bar service. I think it was the best bar service on any ship we have been on. We really liked the hot and cold appetizers served in the Ocean Bar each night by Roel. Our bar waiter, Sid, was a great asset and knew our names and drinks almost immediately. He provided friendly conversation and added to our time there each evening. Our cabin steward was excellent. He was very unobtrusive. We rarely saw him but everything was done and the room was always made up quickly and efficiently. We liked our cute towel animals each night also. Almost the entire dining room staff were very friendly and provided excellent service also. One night we had very mediocre service but from then on requested a specific waiter, Saiful and his assistant, and were more than satisfied. The wine steward also did a good job although he seemed to have too many tables at times. We got extra special attention from Alan, an assistant dining room manager, who really tried hard to keep us happy. This seems to be HAL's trademark and they do live up to their reputation. Food, of course, is a very subjective matter. We do eat out very often and usually enjoy our meals. I don't think we are very hard to please. We were not very impressed with the food a few nights. One night the salmon was very dry and cold and the King Crab was terrible, very small pieces, and not hot enough. We think that Princess has much better salads and salad dressings. HAL had great soups, not salty and always hot but we always enjoyed Princess' soups too. Desserts on both lines were good, maybe with the better ice cream selection going to HAL, although their banana foster was inedible. Other nights the food was very good especially the osso bucco and traditional Dutch food night with a delicious dish Nasi Goreng (?). The lobster and filet mignon were good as was the prime rib. Everything was cooked as requested. Cappuccino is still included without added cost on HAL, which is not the case on Princess, which I find annoying! We did not really like AYWD, but this is all we could get as we only booked this cruise in December. There still seem to be many "kinks" to be worked out. When traveling with just my husband, we much prefer traditional second seating dining at a Table for Two. We enjoy meeting other people at lunch or breakfast but find we enjoy our private conversation at dinnertime. I made reservations every morning when I awoke. Most days we got our requested waiter, Saiful, and a Table for Two. If I called later, we had to sit with a larger group and this worked out just fine those few nights. The Lido buffet had a nice selection and many more daily choices than Princess but was set up poorly and took very long to get anything. I believe the Caribbean Princess has more passengers than the Noordam and yet the buffet never seemed as crowded. We like Princess' set- up and the fact that they are open 24 hours much better. The Lido was often closed when we wanted to get some snacks after a day at the beach. We usually ate lunch in the dining room because of this but some days this was not possible when we were in port. Room service for breakfast was wonderful. Eggs were hot, they even had egg beaters. We got everything we requested and even ordered things not on the breakfast menu- the Sunshine Parfait and salmon, bagel and cream cheese. We had breakfast in the dining room once or twice and it was very good with many more selections on a daily basis than Princess. Room service was slow in the afternoon but the cheese platters were nice with a glass of wine after being on the go all day. Room service breakfast, with all the selections, was even available the last day, which is not the case on Princess. Also, I find the breakfast selection from room service on Princess to be a real disappointment. It is a very limited continental type breakfast. Eating a full breakfast on my verandah is a real treat to me and HAL did an excellent job with this. Public areas were spacious and clean. The aft pool was very nice and never crowded. We had no trouble getting chairs unlike on Princess. They even passed out free lemonade! Aft had a sign that stated NO Children and it was either enforced or no one tried to bring children into this pool. This was Easter week so I know there were many more children aboard than a usual HAL sailing but we did not encounter any problems. One day I was asked by a few polite pre teens, where I was from, as they were doing a scavenger hunt. The Explorations Cafe was a fabulous location. There was music, newspapers, crossword puzzles, daily sudoku and a great selection of books and DVD's. On our last Princess cruise, the library was a joke. It is a very nice relaxing venue with comfortable leather chairs. This is an appreciated HAL feature. Entertainment was OK. We laughed at the comedian (Marty Brill) and liked the singer (Emma Sinclair). We went to the piano bar a few nights. Ian was at his best playing show tunes, in my opinion. Some nights while playing, he would not know the words to songs and faked them. We loved the piano bar on Princess, especially Bert Stratton on the Caribbean Princess, so were a bit disappointed in this venue. We also didn't like that we had to go to a show at 7 PM if we were eating dinner at 8:15. On Princess, we always had the late seating and then went to a show afterwards- 10:30 or so. We really prefer this especially on a relaxing cruise such as this, when we are not in a hurry to get to bed early. The best entertainment was the crew shows. Both the Filipino and Indonesian crew really seemed to enjoy their performance and sharing their culture with the passengers. Ports of Call were all enjoyed. We had been to all except Tortola before and enjoyed our trip to The Baths in Virgin Gorda. We went on a ship-sponsored tour here, as we were concerned that it was Easter Sunday. We usually do all our excursions on our own. . We enjoyed the pool at Grand Turk and went to Little Divi Beach in St. Maarten by taxi. In St. Thomas, we had planned on going to Emerald Beach but we just shopped a bit, as the day was overcast and rainy on and off. Another nice HAL touch was wet, cold towels, water and Purell hand sanitizer, before you got back on the ship after a day in port. I went to the Meet and Greet arranged by Bob (speakertosuits) and it was nice to meet many people but I suspect that the bad weather and rocking ship kept many away. The Crow's Nest was definitely not the place to be in weather such as we had. They had coffee and pastries out for us but no ship's officers attended. Disembarkation was a plus in that you could wait in your cabin until your color was called. This was so much better than waiting in a public crowded area as has happened to us before or even in assigned Elite Princess lounge. We opted to get off late in order to sleep in and have a leisurely breakfast in our cabin. This was probably a mistake because we had to wait much too long as the various colors backed up. By the time we disembarked passengers were arriving to embark. This was our decision and as I said, we wouldn't do it again. Also, there were no porters to be found which made the whole trip to our car quite difficult. Carrying two extra boxes of liquor from the Virgin Islands didn't help either! Miscellaneous- Here are just some random thoughts of comparisons between the two lines. Princess gives you a schedule of all weekly events so you can decide ahead of time just what show you want to see. There is also a list of what movies are showing for the week and what is on each channel each day. It helps to plan your day and week. If this was available on HAL, we didn't have a schedule or see any such thing. I thought the Daily programs were much more user friendly on HAL and easy to carry around as there was a perforation to separate the program. Princess' Daily Patters are much more difficult to read. There were many more convenient rest rooms to be found on HAL and they were never crowded. On many Princess ships it was a long way to a rest room from the dining room and they were always very crowded. Amazingly, we never had to wait for an elevator on the Noordam either. I think there must be more elevators on the Noordam, as it seemed we often waited much longer on Princess ships. Finally, we appreciated the fact that HAL also had a Catholic Mass available daily. This was not offered on Princess except on Easter Sunday. In conclusion, there was no feeling of "hawking" on HAL, which has become very annoying on Princess. No one asked us to buy a soda card, wine card, drink card, souvenir glass or to attend a wine tasting!! Even the photographers were not "pushy". Yet, Princess' soda card is a much better deal, the Internet is much cheaper (we get 250 minutes free as repeat cruisers) and we love having irons and washing machines available on each deck. Both lines have very few announcements and there are very few interruptions. I think repeat cruise benefits may be better on Princess. It is hard to say which line is better but we would definitely cruise both HAL and Princess again, there were enough positive things on each. I am looking forward to a cruise this summer on Celebrity's Constellation to be able to compare the three lines. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
EMBARKATION: Smooth, my son was on deck to see me off. He later left when it was time to leave. PUBLIC ROOMS: Rooms were clean albeit small, but preferred it this way to have wider hallways. CABIN: Our cabin was clean when I arrived ... Read More
EMBARKATION: Smooth, my son was on deck to see me off. He later left when it was time to leave. PUBLIC ROOMS: Rooms were clean albeit small, but preferred it this way to have wider hallways. CABIN: Our cabin was clean when I arrived and was freshened up to 4 times a day as we left to see the ship. I loved the pillows. RATES: I paid higher than other competitive cruises, and expected more product. I was pleased at what this cruise package gave me. Highly recommend it to readers. DINING: Lots of choices from seafood to steaks, the wine list was a bit pricey, but there were price alternatives available for the novice. ENTERTAINMENT: I did not take part in the entertainment much as i was too tired after the days excursions. SERVICE: The service was impeccable, courteous, and available 24 hours a day. SHORE EXCURSIONS: Not enough hours is all i can say. The next trip will have to make a longer cruise. VALUE FOR MONEY: You get what you pay for, my cruise was higher than the competition and i received same. Took a cheap cruise when i first sailed many years ago, and received same on that cruise. Will never take another cheap cruise again. This cruise was a bit pricier than the last but definitely worth the dineros. OVERALL CRUISE: I had a pleasant and relaxing holiday. The only suggestion, is that they have an adults only cruise. I had an obnoxious brat sitting next to me one evening, and it was quite the BITE to say the least. Each time i sipped on my soup, that brat gave out a yell as if to aggravate my slurp. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
It seems to be the consensus of most fellow cruisers I talked with that Holland America didn't measure up to expectations this time. EMBARKATION. Our embarkation was virtually painless as we parked our car at the terminal and started ... Read More
It seems to be the consensus of most fellow cruisers I talked with that Holland America didn't measure up to expectations this time. EMBARKATION. Our embarkation was virtually painless as we parked our car at the terminal and started the registration process. We moved quickly and had just had my husband's picture taken when the power went out. (We joked that he had broken the camera.) The crisis was handled quickly and we felt good about the professional and calm way the situation was handled. Our luggage arrived quickly. STATEROOM. Our room was beautiful. We had a verandah suite with a large balcony. The bed and pillows were extremely comfortable. The showerhead in the bathroom was broken and the sink stopper was broken. Both were fixed quickly. Our phone was broken and we asked to have that fixed. We were on the ship ten days and it never got fixed.The last night before we disembarked our steward cleaned the bathroom of all shampoo and shower gel so you had nothing to wash with in the morning. The soap was never replaced. They seemed stingy in that department.We were supposed to get a basket of fruit and we had to ask for it. It was never refilled and had been advertised. SHOWS. We thoroughly enjoyed the shows. FOOD SERVICE. Where the Noordam fell short was in the food and food service department. Usually we would order coffee and danish in our room because breakfast was served so early. Most days we would get a pot of coffee covered with a piece of aluminum foil. I was told that was because they had run out of the good pots. Consequently, our coffee was usually lukewarm. The food in the dining room was mediocre at best. The tables were very close together and the waiters were having trouble properly serving because of the crowded conditions. We were happy to have such pleasant tablemates, but we did spend a lot of time commiserating about the poor food service. We all looked forward to surf and turf on Valentine's Day. It was a huge disappointment. The surf was a very sickly looking lobster tail and the steak was nothing to write home about. I got a filet mignon since I am not a lobster eater. When it arrived, I was shocked. It was the thinnest filet mignon I've ever seen. It actually looked and tasted like liver. One noontime we decided to take a more leisurely lunch in the dining room instead of braving the very long lines on the Lido deck. We waited an hour and fifteen minutes for a very overcooked hamburger. The waiter's excuse was that everyone was ordering hamburgers that day. We didn't wait for dessert. The Lido buffet was very disorganized and they would close down all food lines in order to shift to the next meal. It meant that if you wanted breakfast you had to be up on deck before 9:55. Lunch was only served for a very short time and dinner was closed by 8PM. We couldn't be leisurely about our mealtimes if we expected to eat. The only thing open later was pizza and pasta - not really what we were looking for. CODE RED.The second day out we were informed that the ship was going into a code red mode because of an outbreak of gastrointestinal flu. That meant that the hot tubs and spa were closed and the Lido buffet was no longer self-serve. Everything needed to be served to us, including coffee and iced tea. This put an incredible strain on the crew and although they put their best face on it, we all felt the fallout. Everywhere you went you had to re-apply hand sanitizer until we were all sure it could no longer be effective. When you asked for an extra cookie the server looked at you like you were the pig of the century. It was a very discomfiting feeling and the language barrier that pervaded the crew made it very difficult to convey your needs and desires. SHOPS. As compared to other cruise lines we've been on, the Noordam shops were extremely limited in their selection and presentation. A big disappointment. DISEMBARKATION. Our departure from the ship was painless. We virtually ran off the ship, feeling less rested than usual. PORTS. The port choices were great. We enjoyed Grand Turk and the little village that awaited us just off the dock. We didn't like having to rise early to go through customs in St Thomas and it seemed as though the stop in San Juan was a waste of time because we were there for such a short length of time. When all is said and done, we met some very nice people and enjoyed their company and the ambiance of the ship and ports, but I know we will not choose Holland America again unless we begin to see some really superior reviews in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
Sailed on the noordam from new york in march, had a great time, age 40-70, very few children, friendly people. Must say nightlife on board stops at midnight, everybody goes to sleep. Very friendly personnel, mostly Philippine, spoke of ... Read More
Sailed on the noordam from new york in march, had a great time, age 40-70, very few children, friendly people. Must say nightlife on board stops at midnight, everybody goes to sleep. Very friendly personnel, mostly Philippine, spoke of the nora virus outbreak a few weeks earlier but problem was solved on this cruise. Found the ship very sensitive to movement on the ocean even with windforce 3-4. Did not experience so much movement with previous cruises with Norwegian cruiseline and royal caribbean. I even asked if the stabilizers were out of order. Food was very good, must say that in the Pinnacle Grill ($ 30 / person extra fee) food was no better, only quieter surroundings but not worth the extra money: buy some nice cocktails for that. Never sailed with Hal before, atmosphere was not too formal as I expected, did hear from more experienced HAL clients they didn't like the new carnival approach with open seating dining as this means waiting and thus less service, but one can switch to fixed seating if so desired. I think a lot will leave HAL and go for Cunard for more formal service and atmosphere. Overall had a good time, some nice ports, some old places with crappy villages I didn't like (tortola, dominica) greetings Johan0070 Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
Noordam - March 8 - 19 review Embarkation: Everything went very smooth. We arrived at the pier earlier than we expected (about 10 a.m.) and dropped the luggage at the front of the terminal. The others went to get our "spot" ... Read More
Noordam - March 8 - 19 review Embarkation: Everything went very smooth. We arrived at the pier earlier than we expected (about 10 a.m.) and dropped the luggage at the front of the terminal. The others went to get our "spot" while I parked the van. After the canine inspection I was into the lot. I took the escalator down to the terminal level and the others were waiting with a "Number 3" in hand. While we were waiting, Carol (cruzerwannabe) and Paul and Debbie (dhoney) and Larry showed up from their incoming flights. We boarded at about 11:30 and waited in the explorers lounge until we could get into our rooms. HAL had juice and cookies set up for us (a nice touch). We got into the rooms at about 2 p.m. The ship: Our cabin VA 4174 was a nice size with a great aft balcony. Terry (iceguy) and Laurie and DEbbie (dhoney) and Larry were next to us on either side so we could open the partitions for a triple wide balcony. The only complaint that we had about the cabin was the closets. They were cramped and hard to get into. We realized later that this is a unique problem with the larger aft cabins. Carol (Cruzwerwannabe) and Paul had a cabin around the corner (4172) and it had plenty of closet room. Because of all the pre-hype about the magnificent beds I was expecting something fantastic, but found the best just to be the same as we had on Princess, no better no worse. The ship is beautiful, but NOT my favorite ship. The bars are all located in hallways and are not nice little hideaway spots. The Queens lounge is too small for a "secondary showroom". Most of the other ships we have been on have a larger version of a second venue. The indoor pool always had a bit of a "stuffy" feeling to me so we spent a lot of time at the aft pool. However it was nice to be able to enjoy the indoor pool area on the rough ride home. Explorations was the best room on the ship. Even though I don't go on the internet on vacation (never will!) and I don't usually read books on the ship, it was still that comfy cozy spot that I look for on a ship. The staff 10 out of 10 for everyone! The entire staff is amazing. They work so hard and have a smile on their faces (even in the face of extreme rudeness). You will not find a better group of people to serve you anywhere. The Ports Tortola: Basically a waste of time because of the late arrival. We walked to Pusser's and had a "Pain Killer" (Thanks to JoiseyGoils!). I found the port kind of skuzzy! If we had time to take a tour I am sure there are beautiful places on the island. Dominica: A great port! We took a tour with Reyno that we had done before. It was well worth the encore! We went to Mr. Nice, The Emerald Pool and Trafalgar Falls. Very Nice Barbados: Never rent a car in Barbados! We did. WE spent the day (a fun one!) mostly lost. We went to Harrison Caves which was too busy when we got there. We would have had to wait about 2 hours to get in. Then we tried to go to the Atlantic coast but never quite made it. The roads have no markings and the towns have no markings! Argggggh! We finally arrived at a beach that was in site of the ship and had a nice swim. Like I said we had fun, but did not see much of significance! St. Maarten: We took a ships tour. The explorer catamaran and Island drive. It was well conducted and lots of fun. The Catamaran had free drinks (not just rum punch) and our tour guide was very good. WE visited Simpson Lagoon, Margot, Orient Beach, and the sites along the way to each. St. Thomas: WE went on our own to Sapphire Beach and then did some shopping on the return trip. A nice beach day, good snorkeling, and nice beach lunch. San Juan: I took a self guided walking tour of San Juan, mostly to the El Morrow area. It was very nice and very hot! My wife did some shopping. Since we had to be on board at 12:30 there was not much time. I would like to see more of San Juan. The Food: The dining room food was great. No complaints at all. Well presented, well prepared. I only had one meal I didn't like (The Maple encrusted Salmon - too salty!) All of the soups are fantastic. cold and hot! I Liked the lido for lunch and breakfast except for the rude people who continually butt in. It was nice to get thing made to order for you for breakfast and I really enjoyed the Asian station at lunch. Dinner in the Lido is another story however. We only tried it one day but it was horrible. You have to go down the buffet line and pick out your starters then go to a waiter and order your entree, give him your room number and go sit down and wait for it to be brought to you! My advice" on HAL go to the dining room for dinner! My advice to HAL- make dinner in the lido the same as lunch A BUFFET! Entertainment: This is where HAL really failed us. We had Traditional dinner at 8 p.m. The Main shows are scheduled at 7 and 9. Our only choice would have been to get ready for dinner in time for the 7 p.m. show, This defeats the idea of late dinner. We wanted to be able to return from day trips and have some relaxation time before dinner. So we missed almost all of the main shows. We did see the shows scheduled late (The Philippine show at 10:15 and the Indonesian at 11:15) They were good! I found the rest of the scheduled events pretty sparse. THis is a very quiet ship with not much to do. I guess that is what HAL wants. Just my opinion, but the Hal Cats are pretty bad! I also thought the cruise director Adam, was pretty bland. You could have recorded his talk once and just listened to it back over and over. HOWEVER! we did make our own fun and we were cruising with great friends, so we made our own party! (,mostly on the aft balconies! CC meet and Greet Thanks to Carol and Pat for doing a great job in putting this together. WE had a great time in the explorers lounge on Sunday. It was great to meet some of you again and again on the ship and in port! Summary We did have a great time. Any cruise is a good cruise! We learned that we will not cruise from New York again because of the risk of high seas and the wasted days in colder weather. We also, sadly, will not cruise on HAL again, at least until I am 70 maybe. It was just too laid back and we much prefer Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
MS Noordam 10 Day Caribbean March 19-29, 2008 Summary: We had a great time on this cruise and being part of a Cruise Critics group made it even better. We last cruised on the Noordam in October 2006 and the service was even better this ... Read More
MS Noordam 10 Day Caribbean March 19-29, 2008 Summary: We had a great time on this cruise and being part of a Cruise Critics group made it even better. We last cruised on the Noordam in October 2006 and the service was even better this time around. Background: Mary and I (Bob) are a late 50s couple; white collar professional types with no kids. This is our 26th cruise; mostly Holland America, Celebrity and Norwegian Cruise Line. We have cruised in the Caribbean, Alaska, a Panama Canal transit, transatlantic crossings and Hawaii. Itinerary: The Noordam sailed alternating 11 and 10 day cruises to the Caribbean from NYC leaving Saturday for 11 day and Wednesday for 10 day cruises. Our cruise has 2 days at sea with a morning stop at Grand Turk on Saturday the 22nd, a noon to 9 PM stop at Tortola, BVI (Easter Sunday); St. Maarten; St. Thomas and a morning at San Juan on Wednesday the 26th then 2.5 days back to NYC. Unfortunately, the HAL front office in Seattle will discontinue Noordam sailings to the Caribbean from NYC, moving the ship to Fort Lauderdale after her European sojourn this summer. Pre-cruise: We live in Brooklyn so it is normally a 30 minute ride by car service to the New York Passenger Ship Terminal; on 12th Avenue between 48th and 52nd streets. Since it was a Wednesday, the trip took about 70 minutes due to traffic. The Noordam arrived at pier 92 about 3 hours late and boarding was similarly delayed. We dropped off our luggage and were directed to pier 88 which had more room. WE were offered a $15 OBC because of the delayed boarding which was a nice peace offering considering that they could do little about the storm that slowed them down. Weather: There was a major storm in the western Atlantic that slowed the progress of the Noordam back to NYC for the prior cruise. This storm was spread out from Maine to almost Puerto Rico just east of 60 W. The smeared out core of the storm on had waves up to 30 feet. The ship left NYC about 90 minutes late in a heavy rain / fog mixture. We had very rough seas the first evening out with rough seas on Thursday as well. Waves were as high at 20 feet early Thursday. Temperatures in the islands were in the high 70s with moderate humidity. Definitely take water bottles with you when you leave the ship even for a short walk. If you use wide mouth bottles, you can load crushed ice directly from the ice machines at the Lido. The Ship: The Noordam (noor is north in Dutch) is the last of HAL's vista class new builds but the first of that series to have the signature of excellence program implemented. One area where this program is most evident is Explorations which is an internet cafe and library. The reading tables have New York Times crossword puzzles under clear covers you can write on. The book selections were wider ranging and interesting compared to the Statendam/Amsterdam series. Did not use the internet service but you can buy time at $55 for 100 minutes or $100 for 250 minutes. Our favorite watering hole is the Ocean Bar where Venus, Edsel and Emilio hold court with friendly efficient service. We did attend some functions at the Crow's Nest but it was not as busy as the Ocean Bar. The Piano Bar is located is a separate area next to the sports bar/casino. The set up works but we found it less attractive than the Statendam series Piano Bars. The Cabin: We had booked a SY superior suite (6057 on the starboard side forward) which has 390 sq ft including a 14 by 7 foot veranda. HAL has deeper verandas than Princess, Celebrity and NCL which is one of the touches we appreciate. During the run down and back to NYC, the veranda was rather windy and on occasion subject to salt spray. Once the weather warmed up, it was very pleasant to sit out there even when the ship was moving fast. The cabin had a king bed which was very comfortable but was tight to walk by with the coffee table and couch on the opposite wall. Instead of a CRT TV, we had a 27 inch LCD widescreen TV with a DVD player. The veranda had a round table for two and two lounge chaises. 110 AC sockets are plentiful compared to other foreign built ships but still bring a power strip for you electronics. Our cabin steward Andy was very efficient and made himself available for additional services as necessary. Definitely a keeper for HAL and a good candidate for promotion. The Ports: Our first port was Grand Turk where Carnival set up a deep water pier capable of handling two panamax ship (or larger). There is a beach area adjacent to the pier with free loungers and adequate shade trees. Behind the beach is a freshwater pool and Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville bar and restaurant. We did not try the food there since we were in early in the morning, though the bar area seemed well populated. There is a faux town square with shops of various kinds as well as the obligatory duty-free shop. Note that HAL is diligent about snagging liquor purchases made ashore once they are spotted by x-ray. Tortola on an Easter Sunday had only a few shops open and we decided against going to Cane Garden Bay on the north side of the island (the port in on the south side in an inlet). The two painkillers we had made that decision easy plus we got two nifty porcelain mugs as souvenirs. The pier at St. Maarten is about a mile from the center of town and we walked into town. The first part of the walk is shaded by small palm trees and is well away from the road. That portion will take you halfway to the boardwalk and the remainder is a narrow but passable walkway next to but separated from the road by a guardrail. Once at the boardwalk, you can walk along the beach or cut back to Front Street where all the shops are. We just walked around a bit and picked up some excellent chocolate from the Belgium Chocolate Shop on Old Street. After lunch at the Greenhouse Cafe near the road to the pier, we headed back to the ship. I have been told that the Harbor View Cafe is also good and it is located on the other side of the main square. Since Easter Monday seems to be a holiday in Euroland (of which St. Maarten is definitely a part), not many shops were open. We were told by one shopkeeper that working on Easter Monday would command triple time pay. We docked at Crown Bay in St Thomas on the other side of the harbor from the main shopping venue at Havensight. Though still under-populated shopping-wise, there was enough for us. We had planned on going to honeymoon beach on Water Island which is reachable by a 5 minute ferry ride from the Crown Bay marina next door. However, the weather was cool and windy with some rain. We just had lunch at Pickles pub at the Crown Bay marina. At San Juan, we walked around the old town, but be advised, old San Juan is hilly. Other than the bit of rain at St Thomas, the weather was sunny or at least partly cloudy and in the 70s. Dining: The main dining venue on the Noordam is the Vista Dining Room on decks 2 and 3. There two traditional seating times, early seating upper (deck 3) is at 5:45 PM and Main upper is at 8 PM. As you wish dining is available on the lower dining area (deck 2) from 5:30 to 9 PM. We had main seating and that was fine with us. Dinners consist of 3-4 appetizers, three soups, two salads and 6-7 entrees including vegetarian. There is a good selection of desserts including low fat frozen yogurt. Breakfast and lunch are served in the Vista. The food was good and in large portions but some of the meats were a bit too well done for my tastes. Food preferences are notoriously judgmental so YMMV. Our waiter Didiet and his assistant Johnneri were efficient and polite, but I think HAL like other lines overloads their waitstaff with too many tables. We did have some issues with our initial table mates who were either ill or did not speak much English so we did have several nights sitting alone at a table for six. Our assistant maitre d was very understanding of our situation and was able to arrange for us to have some convivial tablemates for the reminder of the cruise. Breakfast and lunch (and casual dinner) are available in the Lido Restaurant. From the aft pool area going forward there are three buffet areas on port and starboard. The aft starboard and port areas serve design your own omelets at breakfast and hot and cold sandwiches at lunch. Just forward of the aft buffet areas is a connecting corridor between port and starboard that has the salad bar and coffee, ice tea and ice/ice water dispensers. The middle starboard and port areas serve standard breakfast and lunch items. Between the mid and forward buffet areas are the ice cream bar and the juice and yogurt area. The forward starboard buffet area serves egg benedict for breakfast and Asian style lunch and the forward port buffet serves waffles at breakfast and Italian pastas and pizzas at lunch. An additional drink dispensing area connects the forward port and starboard buffet areas. There is a poolside buffet setup with tacos and fajitas at lunch and also the grill for hot dogs and hamburgers. We did not try the Lido for casual dinner. Some of the lunch items, particularly diced meats, can be overcooked and dry even though they were prepared in small batches. We did we try the Pinnacle Grill which is HAL's extra tariff restaurant and it was a very pleasant experience that is well worth considering. The Pax: Being a NYC based cruise, most of the pax are from about a 2-3 hours drive of NYC. .As with other NYC based cruises, the pax are ethnically mixed with many people of Asian and Eastern European backgrounds. The Cruise Critic party on the morning of the first sea day was well attended with about 40 people. Due to rough weather, we did not have any of the cruise staff available, but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. In addition, we had a "house tour" of the various cabins from standard veranda to the penthouse suite (thanks Chuck and Kerry). The nice thing about joining a Cruise Critics group even informally is having a ready-made group of acquaintances you can meet with and talk to or not as you wish. Post cruise: Not much to say since we live in NYC. If possible do take advantage of express checkout where you can disembark early if you can carry off your luggage. We arrived at the Verazzano about 6 AM and docked shortly before 7 AM. Once off the ship, if you are going to take a taxi, they are plentiful, but you must get a numbered ticket from the taxi dispatcher since taxis are dispatched based on those numbered tickets. We got off the ship by about 7:50 AM. Traffic was very light on a Saturday at about 8 AM so we got home 8:30 AM. Read Less
Noordam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 0.0
Family 2.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 3.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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