85 New York (Manhattan) Holland America Noordam Cruise Reviews

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 clean...so 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
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 Oceanweather.com 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
Sail Date March 2008
Our last 4 cruises have been on RCCL Voyager, Caribbean Princess, Carnival Conquest, and now HAL Noordam. Before every cruise I read every review understanding that there will be some cruisers that never complain and unfortunately some ... Read More
Our last 4 cruises have been on RCCL Voyager, Caribbean Princess, Carnival Conquest, and now HAL Noordam. Before every cruise I read every review understanding that there will be some cruisers that never complain and unfortunately some that are never happy. Anyone that has ever read my posts know I have often said we have never met a cruise we did not enjoy and we never let a negative ruin our cruise vacation. With those things in mind here is my Noordam review. First-The Good: The Noordam is a beautiful ship. Fresh flowers are great and every section of the ship is pretty and clean. Crew is extremely polite and anxious to help. Our stateroom steward (Saiful) was fantastic and a pleasure to be around. Every dining room attendant (AYW Dining) was great. Food was almost always excellent as far as taste and presentation. Dining room, Lido, and the Pinnacle were great. Filet in Pinnacle outstanding (better than ribeye). Surf and Turf on last formal night was perfect. Our Veranda cabin was definitely sufficient for closet and storage space as well as bath area. Mattress was definitely most comfortable we have ever had on a cruise ship. Veranda nice size. Should you wish to just relax in your cabin the Noordam had a very good selection of movies. Bartenders were excellent especially at the Ocean and Sea View Bars. Second-The Bad: Embarkation disorganized just like RCCL and Carnival. Princess checking in by decks seems a better idea. We found more crew than normal with very limited understanding of English. Several times in the Lido our drink order was no where near accurate. Also, on several occasions you could tell they had no idea what you were saying. Breakfast in the Lido was an experience. Omelets in one line, Meats, bread, etc. in another line, and waffles in another line. Big eaters (Like me) have to wait too long and some food cold before you start eating. Some people solved this problem by eating in line. GROSS!!! Have never had that much wait time in single line. We found food selection lacking some time as we do not like lamb or salmon, just a personal thing. Another personal preference, We found the entertainment lacking in quality. Crew shows are OK but we believe professional entertainment is part of cruise price. Certainly not the case on this ship. I chose AYW Dining as 5:45 was too early and 8:00 was too late. Reservations for AYW were at 5:15, 5:30, 8:00, and 8:15. Should be called ATW (AS THEY WISH). When there is a dress code, it should be enforced. Several Jean wearers in public rooms on formal nights. Even a few shorts. Enforce it or change it. Same 4 formal night photo shots. Not enough in my opinion and who really wants small formal photos that just drive up the price. Give me 8x10 at reasonable price and I will buy several. Third-The Ugly: Disembarkation was complete disaster. Said our color would be off by 9:30. Finally called at 10:20. Some suitcases in correct area, some in another area. Not enough porters and you have to find the line to stand in to get one of them. Should be informed of these things before you get to terminal. Finally, and foremost, Room Service was non existent. Follow this time line and statements. Called at 5:50 to order suggested dinner items for my seasick wife. Was told 35 to 40 minutes. Very reasonable considering many seasick passengers. Told her at 6:25 her food would arrive soon and I was going to Lido. Returned at 7:20 and no room service. She said she called at 7:10 and they would check on order and call back. I called again at 7:30 and was told 35 to 40 minutes. I said no I expect it a lot faster than that and was told it was leaving for our cabin right now. 8:00 I go to the Lido and get saltine crackers which I had to ask for and BUY Ginger Ale at poolside bar (no 7up or sprite). Return to cabin at 8:20 and of course no room service. I arrive at front desk around 8:30. After telling young lady I understand it is not her fault I go over entire time line with her and inform her I have never had such lousy response on a cruise ship. I return to cabin and get call from Room Service manager at 8:55 (3hrs, 5mins)He says if I will give him order he will bring himself. Why would he need order if it was on the way to our cabin ay 7:30? Said it probably fell on floor and got lost. Which time did the order fall on floor? Told him wife was in bed trying to sleep and not interested now. Assured me it would not happen again and I assured him I knew it would not as I have been lied to about 3 times now and would never try again. Three days later we got bottle of Champagne and chocolates courtesy of room service. Nice gesture but does not really impress me. GOOD SERVICE IMPRESSES ME! I know this is long but there you have the good, the bad, and the ugly. Did we enjoy our Cruise? Yes we did. Would I cruise again with HAL? Well, of our last 4 cruises Princess would be #1 with RCCL a close #2. HAL would be a distant #3 with Carnival a Close #4. In order to choose HAL again I would have to consider the price a REAL BARGAIN. When traveling with Grand Children, Carnival would replace HAL at #3. I truly regret I could not write a more positive review. I sincerely hope your cruises regardless which line you choose will be great. I know ours will be starting in August on Carnival with Children and Grand Children. HAPPY CRUISING!!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
Background and Arrival: We are a family of 6, with kids 12 to 19. Last two March breaks cruised RCI. Living in Ontario and driving to Florida to make the vacation affordable the last two years, wanted to try a shorter drive but still get ... Read More
Background and Arrival: We are a family of 6, with kids 12 to 19. Last two March breaks cruised RCI. Living in Ontario and driving to Florida to make the vacation affordable the last two years, wanted to try a shorter drive but still get some warmth. So we drove into the New York area Thursday for some outlet shopping, stayed in Malwah, and then drove to NY on Friday for dinner and a Broadway show. Expensive but worth doing once. Stayed at Eastgate Towers in a one-bedroom suite for under $300 a night....cheap but adequate accommodation in a decent Manhattan location for a family of 6 in NY. Embarkation: Arrived at 11:30 to port chaos. However, once at the pier, baggage handling and parking (rooftop: $180 for the cruise) was efficient. One son had a broken leg and required wheelchair assistance for boarding.....one benefit of traveling HAL is that are well set up for mobility assistance. Helpful, friendly staff, although the check-in agent seemed overwhelmed by the numbers in our family...nevertheless any glitches were cleaned up efficiently later by the ship's front desk staff. We were on board and having lunch before 1:00. Rooms were available shortly after that. Cabins: We had two on main deck, an outside for ourselves (great view of the sea spray!) and an inside across the hall for the kids. The inside was the largest we've experienced, with for the first time enough room and storage space for 4. The sofa-bed though was not that comfortable. The outside cabin was also spacious and well laid out. Comfortable bedding. Room steward was excellent. Rock and Roll: The first night and part of the first full day at sea was ROUGH as a result of the major storm through the NE. Second full day at sea was much better. However, on the way back to NY, another major storm caused two full days at sea that were again very rough with 10 to 20 foot seas much of the time. Might be this particular year, but I'd think again about leaving on any ship out of NY. Dining: Lido buffet had lots of variety (everything from sandwiches to sushi and Asian) which was all quite good. Overall I'd rate the Lido over the Windjammer buffets on RCI. Dining room however, was largely equivalent to the RCI dining room on the Voyager class ships. Dined at the Pinnacle twice on a freebee from the travel agent....again equivalent to Portofino's or Chops on RCI. However, HAL excelled in the Pinnacle with their once-a-cruise Sommelier dinner, where they paired wines with each course. At $75 per head it was not cheap, but well worth it....I'd do it again in a heart-beat. Kid's program: The teens had a blast...they had a small group which gelled well and formed some friendships. My son with the cast has a lot of autographs on the cast as a result. The 8-12 year old group did not work out as well. Activities geared for the 8 yr. olds, and they split the 12 year-olds up into different groups so they weren't together when they had group activities. Hugh ??? My 12 year-old stopped going after a few days as a result. As for the 19-year old, we found the same problem on the RCI boat last year when he was 18...too young to drink, too old for the kids program, and no real way to meet others his age. Ports: Tortola: this is a beach destination. Cane Garden Bay has a very nice beach. Dominica: adventure tourism destination. We arranged a private tour with Levi Baron. Our driver, Garry, was excellent. Highly recommended. Took a one hour hike through the rainforest to Middleham Falls (spectacular), and later swam through Titou Gorge to a falls used in the Pirates of the Caribbean 2 movie. Bought some trinkets and t-shirts at Trafalgar Falls. Be warned, this island is not a shopping or beach destination. However, anybody who took more active tours (e.g. river tubing, eco-hikes, eco-tours) wants to come back. Barbados: took the 5-star Catamaran turtle encounter. Swam with the turtles, had a great beach/snorkel stop, and a very nice lunch on board (first taste of fried flying fish - a Barbadian delicacy -very good). Nice boat, great staff, highly recommended. St.Martin: shopping....as we were sunburnt from the previous stops. Great for knock-offs. Wonderful pier area with many shops and restaurants. Convenient water taxi from ship's pier to downtown pier area. Those who went to beaches loved them. St. Thomas and San Juan...everybody goes there...what more can one say. Overall: Had a great cruise, with a high level of service and quality. Relaxed atmosphere. Met some very nice people on board. Definitely an older crowd but this cruise had more 30-40-50 some-things and more kids due to March break. Next cruise will likely be out of Florida again, though. If price, ports and timing align, would not hesitate to book HAL again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
We love cruising...it is great for sightseeing a wide variety of ports around the world (and you only have to unpack once). It is especially delightful for us northerners who relish having a break from the cold during the winter months. ... Read More
We love cruising...it is great for sightseeing a wide variety of ports around the world (and you only have to unpack once). It is especially delightful for us northerners who relish having a break from the cold during the winter months. This year we decided to take one of the cruises that leaves from the Northeast and spends a few days going down to the Caribbean and back. We have cruised eight times on Royal Caribbean and Princess and decided to try the Noordam because we had heard that HAL (Holland America Line) has a reputation of being a "step up" from the other lines. First, let me say that we had a wonderful time. The weather in the ports was perfect and just what we needed. The choice of ports brought us to some places we have never experienced before. The people we met on board were delightful and enhanced our trip tremendously. Contrary to what we had heard about HAL and longer cruises, we found a mix of age groups on this cruise. A controversy even arose on deck when several families took their diapered babies into the pool. Our concerns about leaving from a northern port were not unfounded. We hit some high seas for about 24 hours going south and for several hours on the return. Many people were not well but the worst part for us was having to hold on to do anything. There are a couple of other things regarding the trip that is worth highlighting and a couple of glitches that deserve mention. EMBARKATION: We paid the cruise line for a bus from NJ to the port in New York City. This was a disaster as the bus broke down right before the Lincoln Tunnel and it took over an hour for a substitute bus to arrive. There was poor communication to the passengers during this time. Eventually we arrived near the pier but for some reason the bus drove past the terminal and it took another hour for it to get around the block. At the terminal, we were given a number and then herded into numerous lines. We began to feel like we were being processed through Ellis Island. Again, there was very little communication explaining this disorganization and confusion. Later we learned that the terminal lost power for a while, but we don't know if this was to blame for the delay. It took us almost as long to get from NJ to NY as it would for us to fly to Florida to catch a ship. When our baggage was transferred from the bus to our cabin, our new luggage arrived filthy as if it had been dragged through mud. PUBLIC AREAS: The Noordam is 2 years old and is a very pretty ship. It is well maintained so far, and there are some nice touches, like orchids on the tables in the Lido buffet. It is a little smaller than most of the other ships we have cruised on, and we found crowds at some of the venues. The Northern Lights room was too small for the events such as karaoke and Name that Tune. The Ocean Bar was sometimes too small to accommodate people for evening dancing. Some of the machines at the gym did not operate and there was no visible personnel on duty. As on other ships, the covered pool area gets very crowded, especially since the other pool is at the very back of the ship where it is extremely windy and smoking is allowed. The casino was small and we think the payouts were very poor, but it was still a very popular place. Both dining rooms were very noisy and the tables were so crowded that the waiters had a hard time getting through. CABIN: We had a balcony cabin on the Noordam, #8009. This is the first time we had a tub in the bathroom. It was a major plus, as it provided a much more comfortable shower area. The bed was configured near the front of the cabin; we prefer it near the window as this allows more open space to dress near the bath and closet area. Also, the door to the balcony was a single one; we prefer a sliding door. Other than those minor issues, the cabin was spacious, clean and had a lot of closet space but very little accessible drawers. We found storage bins under the bed and under the sofa halfway through the cruise. The bed itself is one of the most comfortable we have ever had on a ship. FOOD & SERVICE: Here's where we seemed to experience the most problematic issues. Because our expectation was that HAL was a superior cruise line, we were disappointed in many ways. Our cabin steward was pleasant enough, but there were little things that indicated lack of service. For example, there was one small bar of soap in our cabin. For the first few days, we transferred the soap back and forth from the sink to the shower. Eventually we asked the steward for more soap and he left us one additional bar. Towards the end of the cruise both bars were slivers and they were never replaced. The ship advertises that you can get fruit in your room every day. On the first day we filled out the request form for fruit, but never received it. Two days later we asked our cabin steward and he brought some fruit. It should have been replenished every day, but we never got fruit again. We chose the early fixed seating for dinner. On several occasions, we opted for breakfast in the dining room. The sit-down breakfast was only served up until 9:00 am (9:30 on sea days) which we thought was extremely limited. Service was very slow taking about an hour to get the breakfast entree after placing the order. The waiters were constantly apologizing. Multiple stewards waited on each table and it appeared disorganized, especially when one poured the coffee and by the time someone else came with the cream/sugar, the coffee was cold. The dining room was open for lunch for only one hour; we never ate lunch there. Even the hours of the Lido buffet were limited. It totally closed at 2:00 in the afternoon until dinnertime except for a pizza and ice cream station. We are not gourmet diners and are not particularly fussy about service. The dining room staff that we encountered on the Noordam appeared poorly trained, afraid for their jobs and some were not fluent in English. The quality of the food was not up to the level we found on other ships. The surf and turf night was a joke as both items were cafeteria quality food. And the small details we have come to expect were missing. Our steward did not remember our preferences from day to day. He did not seem to be knowledgeable about the food choices in general and there also seemed to be a language barrier. He seemed overworked as the assistant waiter often appeared to be someplace else. Because the staff seemed so overly conscious of our ratings, we were afraid to put down any negative comments. We heard many complaints from passengers regarding the food and service. Some previous HAL cruisers said that the quality had definitely gone down. Our other experiences with the crew at the excursion and purser desks were not positive. We received misinformation regarding a tour and had to contact the purser's office several times before we got one problem resolved. Our tablemates had issues with being overcharged and billed for things charged by other passengers with similar names. The lines to correct your invoice was huge. PORTS: The first stop was Grand Turk which is a lovely clean port with extensive shopping at the dock. We took a catamaran excursion which was wonderful. The water was clear and beautiful and the boat stopped at a site where there was well-supervised snorkeling from the boat. Then it stopped at a small clean lovely beach (you had to swim ashore). The crew was friendly and professional. After the excursion we spent time at the nice beach right next to the dock which had some shade and lounge chairs. The next stop was Tortola and we took an excursion to The Baths. We had to take a bus to a ferry which took 45 minutes to Virgin Gorda. This was an excellent tour and a very different experience. A guide takes you down a scenic path squeezing through some cave-like boulders to a lovely beach surrounded by very large rock formations. The path to return to the van was uphill. The next two ports were St. Martin and St. Thomas. We were disappointed that the ship did not dock in the actual ports, but rather in new areas where there is nothing but high-end shopping. You had to take water taxis and open air trams (at your own expense) to access these islands. The last stop was San Juan Puerto Rico where the ship only docked for a few hours which did not give you time to see much. ENTERTAINMENT: We enjoyed all the revue shows and all of the acts (except the comedienne who kept forgetting her jokes). Overall, this cruise had the most consistently good shows as we have seen on board (of course, this varies from cruise to cruise). The marriage game was a hoot as one couple married 58 years gave us an hour of laughter. The cruise director, Drew Murdoch, handled this event perfectly. He had a nice personality and a good sense of humor. Unfortunately, he left the ship in the middle of the cruise and turned over the master of ceremonies responsibilities to Glenn, the DJ, who was not up to the job. The Filipino and Indonesian crew put on two shows highlighting their folk dances, songs and culture. The Filipino show was excellent and very professional and the Indonesian show was also enjoyable. The dance band quartet, City Lights, played a wide variety of music and we enjoyed dancing and listening every evening. There were no midnight buffets, but an elaborate dessert display and tasting was a nice touch one night. DISEMBARKATION: This was ideal. We stayed in our cabin until our color/number was called. Our luggage was sorted correctly in the terminal and an agent helped us get a porter. It was the most quick and efficient aspect of the cruise. We should mention that this ship was under "Code Red" (norovirus) by the third day. About 40 people, passengers and crew combined, ended up sick and confined to their rooms. We were relieved not to have gotten the virus. We were constantly reminded to wash our hands and were required to use Purell when entering the food venues and returning to ship from port. Once Code Red was announced, hot tubs and the hydrotherapy area were closed. It became more complicated to serve food. Passengers could not touch or self-serve anything in the buffet. Areas were wrapped in plastic and much of the ship's staff was called into action to provide passengers with everything including water, coffee, salt/pepper and silverware. Even some of the musicians were seen serving in the buffet area. Many of the servers did not seem to know what they were serving and a few appeared unhappy doing so. There were very long lines to get even a single food item. We understand the dilemma, but the lack of training and attitude we experienced added to our dissatisfaction with service in general. Overall, this trip reaffirmed our enjoyment of Caribbean cruises, but led us to believe that Holland America may no longer be a superior cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
This was my 11th cruise and my first on HAL. I started cruising 20 years ago and have seen a world of change. Some good, some not so good. Back in the days of small ships and small passenger lists we were amazed at the smallest amenities. ... Read More
This was my 11th cruise and my first on HAL. I started cruising 20 years ago and have seen a world of change. Some good, some not so good. Back in the days of small ships and small passenger lists we were amazed at the smallest amenities. These days it's a different story. Most of my experience is on Celebrity dating back to when it was Chandris/Fantasy Lines. "We've come a long way baby" as the expression goes. Embarkation in New York was one of the best I've seen. Being a "first timer" with HAL there were no "short cuts". Everything was well organized and the whole process took 30-40 minutes. We arrived at the pier at 12:50 and were in our cabins by 1:30. The cabin was what one would expect for a basic veranda type cabin. We found ample space for our belongings. No one mentioned the storage space under the couch or the two big drawers under the foot of the bed. We found those on the last days of the cruise. The veranda was ample, although I preferred the sliding glass doors on other ships to the heavy glass unit on Noordam. Throughout the cruise our cabin steward was unseen but seemed to know every time we went out. We never came back to an unmade cabin. Our bags showed up by 2:30 after we had run to the Lido for a snack. Prior to sailing we had the mandatory lifeboat drill. I'm always amazed at how inattentive some people are about something meant to save their lives. Some folks have questioned the decor onboard. Being a first on HAL, I can't compare to other HAL ships, but it looked pretty nice to me. The public rooms were small in number but seemed cozy. We found the Ocean Bar and its three piece band a great spot for a "Mexican Coffee" and a dance. Departing from New York is always a moving experience, watching the city slip away as evening descends. The weather was cooperative but the Noordam seems to be a bit of a roller. I think they were saving fuel by not using the stabilizers. The first day had a few folks under the weather. I stopped down at the Main Desk and they were handing out sea sickness med's on a regular basis. I had ordered flowers for my fiance but no one on board could find any record of my order. I did this online. I also made reservations for the Pinnacle Grill online but wound up calling and doing it on the phone to be sure of the details. That part worked. This brings us to the food. I do a little cooking on my own and can get pretty picky about food. That's why I won't sail on Norwegian again. I don't believe the idea of a buffet is to try to find something you would be willing to eat. The food on Noordam was, in my humble opinion, great. The old saying goes "You can't please all the people all the time." That understood; let me say, the food in the Pinnacle Grill was a 5+. We chose the fixed dining option because we enjoy the formality of the old time cruises. The food in the dining room was generally excellent. With the exception of the "Surf and Turf" there was little room for complaint. The service was always very good. We tried the casual dining in the Lido one evening and that also was very nice. Lunch at the Lido, however, has room for improvement. The food itself was not bad for that type of dining. I tried the pasta and got rubber linguine and being from NY was not overly impressed by the pizza. My major complaint was not the food but the management. I'm 62 years old and have been drinking coffee for most of those years. I don't need someone to fill a cup from the machine and stand in the way of the milk. I also do not need someone to stand in the food line and hand me a tray and then put a plate on it. Thanks be to God both my arms still work. What I could have used was someone to bus tables and put out silverware. I also saw older folks struggling with trays. A better use for the coffee guy, I think. We chose not to take any excursions from the ship having been in most of the ports before. Turks and Caicos was new and between the beach and "Margaritaville" we thought that was enough. Not much else to see on the island. Cockburntown made one want to lock the doors on the car. Unfortunately we made Tortola, one of my favorites, on Sunday. Still a fun spot. St. Martin was nice. We got a beach chair and umbrella and had a swim. Always a nice thing to do in March. St. Thomas, it seems, is starting to get like Jamaica with too many people trying to sell you something as you walk by. It becomes difficult not to be rude after the fortieth "no thank you". San Juan just makes you wonder why they bother. We did get a few last minute gifts there so maybe that's why. With the great size of today's ships the walk down the pier can take a while. As HAL seems to have a "more mature" clientele, and they strive to be "a first class operation" I thought a few golf cart like units on the piers might have been a big help to some of the guests. All in all it was a wonderful trip. A great if sometimes misdirected staff, a beautiful ship, and a lot of "bang for the buck" in my opinion. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
EMBARKMENT: This was my husbands 6th cruise and my 8th, but 1st with HAL. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed with the service. We arrived the day before and stayed overnight. We were told to go back to the airport and pick-up our ... Read More
EMBARKMENT: This was my husbands 6th cruise and my 8th, but 1st with HAL. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed with the service. We arrived the day before and stayed overnight. We were told to go back to the airport and pick-up our transportation to the ship. We waited quite awhile and I had to call my travel agent to see what happened. She assured me someone would be along shortly. The women who showed up didn't have a Hal uniform on and her sign was in her pocketbook which was in the basket of a luggage cart. If my husband hadn't heard our name we would have never known. We arrived at the terminal around noon and was greeted by a very rude young lady who said we really didn't have a suite and then to sit down and wait for our number to be called. I asked what number and she grabbed a card from another person and handed it us. The rest of the process was fairly organized and we were in our room within 45 mins. SUITE: Our suite was roomy, not quite a big as other suites we have had, but the veranda was wonderful. Bed was comfortable and there was lots of storage space. SERVICE: This was lacking to say the least. Our room was never cleaned before noon and never turned back down before 9-9:30. This was rather inconvenient for us a few nights as we wants to go to bed early and couldn't. We had to also ask a few times to get our water replenished. FOOD: The food was very good. We had a nice variety and it was usually warm and as ordered. Again the problem was the service. We had an early seating and most nights didn't finish till 7:30. ENTERTAINMENT: We enjoyed most nights and it seemed to get better toward the latter days of the cruise. SHORE EXCURSIONS: My husband went diving and was alittle disappointed but we were partially reimbursed for them. I swam with the stingrays and dolphins and loved every minute of it. Would definitely do them again. DISEMBARKMENT: Went very smoothly. Loved being able to stay in our room till our floor was called Would we cruise with HAL again, maybe. Always willing to give a second chance. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
This was our 6th cruise and first experience with Holland America. The Noordam is a lovely ship that caters to a somewhat older clientele. Efficient boarding though the terminal is typical New York. The room (a suite) was above average. ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise and first experience with Holland America. The Noordam is a lovely ship that caters to a somewhat older clientele. Efficient boarding though the terminal is typical New York. The room (a suite) was above average. Library and Computer center were also above the norm which we enjoyed. Open dining the first night a fiasco...we requested late seating and spoke to a horde of people who were given open dining instead. Beepers on a cruise ship! No Way! We didn't try for seconds and bought ourselves into the upscale Pinnacle Grill for the remaining 9 nights of the cruise. Lovely and alot more personal contact. Expect to give an extra tip at the end of the cruise...it's worth it! Food and Wine seminars fun. We took them all (3) with Robert the chef. A certificate of attendance would have been a nice touch. Computer seminar guy had no personality at all and it affected our interest in signing up again. Shore excursions are about average although the ferry trip to the Baths in Virgin Gorda was definitely worth it. And make sure to take the hike through the boulders to the other beach...gorgeous. Swimming at the smaller Baths can be quite dangerous...stay close to shore. lots of rocks with barnacles. We saw some serious cuts! Overall we had a great time and would recommend the ship highly. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
Hi all well I'm back 5 days since my 11 day S Caribbean cruise on the Noordam out of NYC ! First time ever cruising from NYC in the winter time .2/16 to 2/27 .First off this was my 7 time on HAL and 70 over all cruise .We have been ... Read More
Hi all well I'm back 5 days since my 11 day S Caribbean cruise on the Noordam out of NYC ! First time ever cruising from NYC in the winter time .2/16 to 2/27 .First off this was my 7 time on HAL and 70 over all cruise .We have been cruising since 1980 . I was booked on the Explorer of the seas doing a 12 day S Caribbean cruise out of Cap Liberty NJ on 2/24/008 .But i had a ship visit and lunch on the Noordam Nov. 06 .And having cruise with Royal Caribbean 3 times in 07 .I changed from the Explorer to the Noordam . With this cruse i was looking for a more laid back cruise ..And got it .The food and service on HAL is better then RCCI .But RCCI is a better overall cruise . There is no night life to speck of on the Noordam after 11:30 pm .The ship closes down ! Also this was my 2nd solo cruise .And best one . I go with my wife and 2 teen boy"s most times . But like last year nobody could get off this time of year !! Getting to the ship we live on the other side of the Hudson river in NJ over looking the cruise ship piers in NYC .So for the first time i took the ferry to the pier back & fourth .It worked out just great . I got to the ship in an half hour same coming home !! And besides all that no flying in the wintertime from the NY NJ area !!There was 2 ships in port that day the Noordam on pier 88 and the NCL Gem on the new pier 92 . Being mid winter here in NY the weather was great the day we left .Very sunny with the bluest sky's and no wind to speck of in the low 30"s not bad for a wintertime cruise from NYC .The seas down and back from the Caribbean was very calm .On the fist seas day it was a little windy ! It was a great send off for a great 11 day cruise !! The ship The Noodam is the last ship it the Vista class of HAL ships .We did the Zuiderdam when she was brand new and like the Noordam better .It always seem the last ship in any class is the best one . I Booked an Guar. inside cabin .And didn"t know where my cabin was until 2 days before the cruise .I got bumped up to an outside cabin on deck four .A very big cabin with floor to ceiling windows .And a bigger bathroom with a tub ! cabin # 4058 it was in a great spot on the ship one deck down from the main decks . The ships lounges are really nice .I use most of them .But like i said around midnight it was dead !! Really nice art work all over the ship .I love the pool areas on this ship .The Lido is a cover area pool witch opens up in good weather.And the pool on the stern of the ship is all opened up ..The great thing is that you can see the ocean and really feel like your on a cruise !! The food I love anytime dinning .Wasn"t sure if i would like it before the cruise. I hated it on Princess !! Well it was great .I went to the dinning room most nights at between 8 & 8:30 pm and i could pick my table i wanted !! The food was the best i ever had on a HAL cruise .In the past i always thought the food was good but on the bland side ! The service was just as good as fix dinning !! The crew on HAL has to be the friendliest at sea ! I didn"t use the Pay dinning this time . HAL's Lido Cafe is still the best at seas in my opinion The shows .They were good to very good .I have seen some of them before on other HAL cruises we have done . The ports The ports for the cruise were Tortola Dominica Barbados St Maarten St Thomas San Juan and 2 days at sea going down and 2 days at sea coming home .All sea days were very calm !! The best port for me having been to everyone of them many times over was in St Thomas i spent the day at St John"s at Trunk bay .Being a sat. and only 2 ships in .I kind of had the hold beach to myself , unlike other times there where you couldn"t even find a spot on the beach !! With so many ships in port at one time !!I also think St Maarten is the new St Thomas by far .It"s great they are building a new pier for the larger ships .But if you just want to spend a day doing some shopping and sitting on a really great beach this port has it all .The water taxi is great !! In closing Well i had another great cruise this time like 7 other time on HAL it was great i got just what i was looking for a more laid back cruise.This ship and cruise line is not for everybody .I did see alot of people who really belonged on RCCI Or Carnival !! Those ship have great night life after the shows are done .When we do RCCI & Carnival we never get back to our cabin until after 2:30 am !! Club HAL is great for young kids. Don"t even think of bringing Teens agers on !! My to boys love club HAL when they were young .But when they were 13 & 15 on the Zuiderdam they got very bored very fast !!! There is just so much more for them on RCCI is really the best and Carnival !! Those larger ships has everything for them We never seen them when we go on those line !! I like HAL because it"s a more dressy cruise line .And very laid back kind of cruise .Big ships that feel small .Great service the friendliest crew afloat .And very clean ships.If you are on a HAL cruise they just started a future booking program .Where you put down $100 deposit for your next cruise witch you can book any time up to 4 years .with a ship board credit!! Our next cruise is the Explorer of the seas to Bermuda 5 day then the Adventure of the seas a 7 day cruise out of San Juan 3/8/09 then the New RCCI 225.000 ton class . And back on HAL in 2010 for a Panama Canal cruise. Mr Veendam Hope you enjoy my review .And hope all your cruises are what you want them to be ! IT WAS GOOD TO BE ON A WELL RUN SHIP Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
Started out looking for an Alaskan trip & saw this 10-dayer out of NYC & booked an outside guarantee as I traveled alone. Signed up for rollcall & volunteered to orchestrate our Meet & Greet of 60 pax. A fellow cruiser ... Read More
Started out looking for an Alaskan trip & saw this 10-dayer out of NYC & booked an outside guarantee as I traveled alone. Signed up for rollcall & volunteered to orchestrate our Meet & Greet of 60 pax. A fellow cruiser developed a tremendous website just for our cruise. Embarkation: Train to NYC, cab to port, w/on-line pre-registration, lines went smoothly and up to Lido by 12'ish for lunch. Well appointed cabin w/ capable steward on Main deck not far from the very friendly staff at front desk. The Lido & the food: Grossly mismanaged as others have stated. Staff hands you utensils, hands you drinks but no one is bussing tables. At dinner, the linens are a nice touch but giving your order & cabin number to the maitre d' & waiting for dinner just didn't cut it...preferred it be a true buffet. Good selection of varied items w/some not as palatable. The Dining Room & Cuisine: Lower level as I had Anytime Dining which I embraced asking for 6 or 8 top to dine w/different folks each nite...Nary a wait doing this. The soups have vastly improved, the entrees were all palatable save for the Surf & Turf which was horrible. Surf was tough, stringy and cold to boot. Another negative is families w/small children at night w/some shrieking from very young ones...not the place when one wishes a relaxed atmosphere. Dined there many days at lunch which was always good. However, no changes can be made to a dish even if one the maitre d' intercedes w/kitchen on your behalf. Entertainment & Cruise Staff: Drew Murdock and his 4 gals Colby, Heather, Kyle and Aga were the best I've seen of all my HAL cruises. Murdock has a Johnny Carson style w/great timing & wit and the 4 gals work very well together so tremendous kudos go to them. The evening shows save for the first night's comedian (who will not be making any repeat performances) were good with an outstanding French Magic Act and a classical pianist. The funniest entertainment were those that included audience participation as in the Karaoke singoff, the newly-wed game and the take off on Jeopardy. There was a large contingent from Montreal who interacted well w/the Noordam's panel of judges headed by CD Murdock who let the bon mots fly. Meet & Greet in Crow's Nest first morning was poorly attended due to landlubbers' mal de mer & since no one from the staff could attend, we had a 2nd Open Bar & Hors d'oeuvres later on in the cruise attended by Drew who spoke to each grouping. Did not take any excursions as I've been to all save for Grand Turk which I thought was a bust (save for Margaritaville?) & Tortola. Pinnacle Grill - for lunch - lived up to its reputation & the $29 Culinary course (12 pax Maximum) was taught by Pinnacle Chef and nicely done. Mariners Lunch was well done w/a minimum of speeches & liberal pouring of red & white wines. I sat w/the Chief Officer which enhanced my day & maybe his, since Sulzer diesels is one of our accounts which added to the commonality. Would do this trip again in a heartbeat - but, like others, wish I didn't have to go out of state. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
Let me start by saying this was my first cruise. My girlfriend came with me and she has cruised on every line out here and cruised about 15 times. My expectations are what she had described to me from the performance of Royal Caribbean and ... Read More
Let me start by saying this was my first cruise. My girlfriend came with me and she has cruised on every line out here and cruised about 15 times. My expectations are what she had described to me from the performance of Royal Caribbean and Carnival. AT THE PORT IN NEW YORK Everything went smoothly until we got to the check in desk. I had pre printed my boarding pass about 1 week ahead of time to avoid headaches. This apparently didn't mean I wouldn't have one. They booked my cabin to a different person but not only that my credit card was linked to someone elses sail and sign. I had access to someone elses credit card with my card. After HAL pondered this simple fix for 2 hours they put us in a different room and they had to jump through hoops to re route our luggage to get it to the new room. Then I had to spend another 45 minutes explaining the predicament to the inept front desk of foreigners who neither understand nor speak English. Once they understood I wanted to make sure my credit card issue was settled could the cruise begin. This was before the surprise gift (cigars) ordered to the room by my girlfriend had to be re routed to the new room. The front desk lady ended up telling me what it was. Thanks for the surprise. ROOMS The rooms are nice and the hospitality staff was outstanding. COREY, our steward was the nicest guy ever and showed us how he made towel animals for 10 minutes. He called me sir at all times and was just the consummate professional. FOOD The food was not good at all. Only Unsweetened iced tea and water are offered. How exciting. The coffee is gross and the limited soda card is a complete ripoff. The room service had a choice of a salad, omelet, burger or a club sandwich late night. Not a great selection. The Lido dining was poor and closed very early. This cruise line tries to be a 5 star dining facility and should just stick to making edible food. Mango and cream cheese stuffed chicken or sour cherry soup or watermelon gaspatcho is just nasty. Chicken parm and penne a la vodka are a bit more normal and are much harder to screw up. The Vista dining room was the same story. The service was great but the same wanna be 5 star mentality shined through. Ginger flavored Tofu and cheap fatty skirt steaks are not high end. This boat made it hard to get food as 90 percent of the ship was sleeping by 12am. Late night food is non existent unless you want the 4 item menu. PUBLIC ROOMS Overall the ship is decorated is a gaudy gold and mirrored motif. It looks like my grandmas house which has not changed since the 1960's. The quality of the decorations is great but it caters to 1960's and 1970's glitzy gaudy over decorated style. ENTERTAINMENT Entertainment was so so. DREW MURDOCK was outstanding and just worked with his 100 year old demographic. I thought he was a stand up comic and director in one. Hats off to Drew. Unfortunately pictionary, bridge, and shuffleboard aren't mind blowing activities. The comics were not funny at all and forgot half their jokes during their bits. Drew was funnier than both of them and 2 hours of stand up from him would have been great. EXCURSIONS Excursions I cannot comment about because I went out on my own for those. RETURN TO NEW YORK On the way home on the first of two days at sea we are notified that we have to turn around and go back to San Juan to Helilift and sick guest. This is after 6 hours of going north from San Juan. We were under the impression we were going to be very very late on wednesdays proposed 8 am arrival. We were told from the front desk by a "new employee" that a complementary phone call would be given to us to rearrange our travel plans. The next day we are told we have to buy a 25.00 phone card for a measly 12 minutes. The next day after the phone cad does not work they tell me they will give me a complementary call but I have to keep the phone card and it is not refundable. ISSUE one--nobody speaks the english language. ISSUE two--everyone tells a different story and there are too many supposed supervisors. Overall my first cruise was a nightmare. The best time were spent off the ship. They offer only Unsweetened ice tea and water forcing you to buy a limited soda card. Many of the activities are less entertaining than what a nursing home offers and this makes GAMBLING the only alternative. The slots don't pay out so I made a sizeable donation to HAL. Overall HAL needs to work on things. Not everyone cruising your ships is 100 and on crutches. They cater to the grumpy rich retired senior citizen and neglect all else. When you current cruisers are gone and the younger ones get older you line wont be top choice. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
Noordam ( Holland America ) 1-16-2008 through 1-26-2008 NY - sea - sea - Grand Turk - Tortola - St. Maarten - St. Thomas - San Juan - sea - sea - NY We are in our 50's, definite cruiseaholics having sailed over 50 cruises since ... Read More
Noordam ( Holland America ) 1-16-2008 through 1-26-2008 NY - sea - sea - Grand Turk - Tortola - St. Maarten - St. Thomas - San Juan - sea - sea - NY We are in our 50's, definite cruiseaholics having sailed over 50 cruises since 1984. We sail most of the cruiselines but this was our first Holland America cruise. The Noordam was on Code Red status, indicating a norovirus outbreak on previous cruise. This entails various procedures during sailing such as no self service at buffets ( staff serve you everything including coffee at beverage area ). Staff holding Purell type anti-germ lotions at every dining entrance. No common items like salt shakers, sugar packets and such on tables. A minor annoyance for passengers but a lot of additional work time for staff. Because of instance of norovirus we had learned, via cruise critic, that our embarkation would be delayed until 4 p.m. as the vessel would undergo a total scrub down after previous disembarkation. Again a minor annoyance for passengers, major work load for staff. For my wife this meant we would not enjoy the welcome buffet, a serious matter for her as she really enjoys it and views it as the official start of her cruise vacation. ( note HA never notified us officially of late disembark nor did they respond to my email requesting information on that. As is almost always the case, information from cruiselines regarding such things is often confusing, wrong, or simply not available. Information is much more readily available on various cruise boards and pages ). Being armed with disembark delay information we decided to arrive at what would be our normal time, 12:30 pm and take our chances. We took along some buttered rolls to sustain us until we could attack a buffet line somewhere. We were driving to pier and using Pier long term parking which we have done in years past. Cost for parking was $180, reservations cannot be made but that has never been a problem. You can now use credit cards to pay ( you pay in advance at entry booth ) whereas in years gone by cash was only acceptable method of payment. For those that have never used Manhattan pier parking, lots are 3rd level and immediately adjacent to ships at dock. You drive up ramp at pier, drop luggage off at your respective dock area. Then proceed up to parking area and self park. A short walk to pier that ship is berthed at and down escalator into boarding area. That is what we did with no problem encountered. Upon entering we were given a color coded number tag to be called to proceed through metal detectors into check in area. We had #21 Green or some such but were called almost immediately to join security line. Once passed through security we entered check in. Those that have already completed the online check in ( I highly recommend it ) were passed into a separate line and we were in front of a desk almost immediately. Check in was completed in about a minute, so much for good news. We then proceeded to take a seat in one of the several hundred chairs set up in the boarding area with several hundred people already seated. It was about 1:15 or so and boarding was indeed scheduled to commence at 4 pm we were told. Boarding would be done again using those color coded numbers to maintain an organized system. Having brought books to read and a laptop computer we were happy to settle in considering the circumstances. HA was offering free shuttles to Times Square area and back for those that choose to go see some of the city while waiting. I do not believe there was any provision to check hand luggage in for those taking the ride but I could be wrong. We were all advised that we would receive an onboard credit of $15 per person in lieu of missing afternoon buffet. There was a pier snack bar at entrance of pier but that would necessitate re-doing security lines so we stayed put. Boarding commenced early a little after 3 pm and was orderly. We were onboard before 4 pm. Although cabins were not yet ready we were allowed to proceed to ours and deposited our carry on bags. We then headed up to the FOOD! Although a busy area and slow since we were all being served it wasn't too much of a problem. There is plenty of seating normally but with everyone arriving at the same time it took some hunting to find a place to park. The Noordam has lots of table seating in pool areas as well and being that the main pool has a retractable roof which was closed it was also comfortable and available making that much more room to be found. All of this was followed later by mandatory muster station drill ( they take attendance ) which was indeed held outside in the NY cold. Not enjoyable but went fairly quickly considering, and then off we sailed a couple hours late. We were advised that the late sailing time would not interfere with our itinerary stops. ( They have the strangest life jackets I have ever seen with some sort or wrap around belt system which takes some head scratching to figure out. Eventually managed to get it on correctly but it would pay to watch the in room channel on how to put it on if you have time. If not instructions were given once up at the muster station, of course we all had them on whatever way by then. ) Off to the Crows nest lounge forward and some cocktails to watch us sail off. CABIN: We booked Suite 6102 SY category. This proved to be perfect for us both in accommodation and location. Located on deck 6 mid-ship towards aft it was a good location for heading either up or down, up for buffets and pools deck 9, or down for dining, shops, casino, lounges or lobby areas, decks 2 and 3. Suite had a good sized bathroom with Jacuzzi bathtub and shower in addition to a separate 2nd shower stall. Double sinks and cabinets with various Elemis shampoo, body soaps and such provided in nice small containers in a rack between sinks. Plenty of drawer space, two closets with hangars and small safe. Safe is electronic, punch in 4 numbers you select and hit lock. Punch in your four numbers and unlocks. Balcony was very generous space with two cushioned chairs and hassocks, to more chairs and table. Balcony can easily accommodate 4 people comfortably. Solid dividers between balconies and overhead roof make for a fairly private balcony area. There is also a dvd player and nice lcd Tv on a good sized table area. A couch, two chairs, and a table also a mirror make up table type area. All still allowing adequate room to move about. The bed was a good sized Queen with six pillows of varying degrees hardness and a very comfortable mattress. We were very happy with the suite. The SY suite is one of the three category suite before upgrading to AB's or deluxe suites. We peeked into one of those and it appeared to be somewhat larger but not dramatically so and also had maybe a King bed. The main difference to our thinking was slightly better mid ship location and also and also access to a private key carded Neptune lounge for cocktails and snacks before meals. Although we have had access to similar lounges and love them it was not worth the added cost to us since SY afforded great cabin space and decent location anyway. FOOD and DINING: We had decided to book the Noordam after being docked beside her during October cruise onboard Crown Princess. Because we booked late we were assigned anytime dining, the newest fad at sea and one we do not prefer. The advantage is heading out to dine whenever you want instead of having a fixed seating. The disadvantage to us is not having sane staff and dinner mates each evening. We definitely prefer traditional dining. Anytime dining is new on HA but it was fairly well organized and for most part you were seated near arrival at door. There were two evenings, however, when we found a 30 minute wait and given a beeper to be called for seating. I hate getting Outback type beeper on a claimed luxury cruise but again my opinion. The two gentlemen that handle seating were, I must say, gracious, courteous, and very good at getting people seated. Like all the staff we met on HA they were exceptional. At times, however, you could tell that dining staff are stressed beyond normal capacity trying to keep up. They too tried very hard to accommodate though so no complaints from us. Food is another matter. I will try not to over comment since food assortment and quality is very specific to individual tastes. I must say that I was not impressed with the Chefs skills or the menu items and neither was my wife. We found food to be over cooked and dried out. Soups and many items very over salted. Desserts to be tasteless and merely resemble similar items served us on other ships. There are several items that can be ordered any night such as a steak, that is always a nice feature in case nothing on the menu strikes your fancy. One evening I ordered chicken cordon bleu in example and found it to be a very dry, baked and breaded, piece of chicken with a dime sized dab of cheese and ham in the very middle. The filet mignon and lobster tail, well okay having both surf and turf as one item an applauded plus. But actually the filet mignon was but a tiny squared slice of thin meat. Again not impressed! Ordered bananas foster and received some bananas totally surrounded by some type of pureed thick goop that remotely reminded one of the taste this should have. One evening we decided to dine at the added cost premium restaurant which I admittedly am not too fond of the concept on ships. To my way of thinking the regular included dining should be able to be surpassed by having to pay additional. However we were afforded a $15 per person coupon for lunch by out travel agent which we decided to apply towards the $30 per person fee for dinner. My wife ordered fish and King crab legs served on a plank. This was the first time I ever saw my wife not eat the dinner. The fish looked like it had been boiled and she was not happy. On the plus side her side of asparagus was the best she had ever tasted. I had the rib eye steak which was excellent. The two sides I ordered, creamed spinach and scalloped potatoes were however uneatable. Looked like they took a large spoon of scalloped potatoes, fashioned it into a cylinder shape then baked it into cardboard. The spinach, well I have no idea what they added to that but tasted like creamed spinach with cinnamon or something. Again on the plus side after the entree we were presented with petit fours which were fantastic. The crème Brule dessert was also exceptional. Service was good, ambiance nice enough but another party did come in their best jeans to impress. Acceptable I guess in specialty high end dining if you are paying I guess. For us definitely not worth even the discounted added fee. Lest you think all was lost for us. We found the afternoon buffet to be very good. Maybe they want everyone to eat there in future? Pizza and pasta station, Asian station with daily sushi, sandwich station that has already made and made to order options. Nice salad bar, daily carving items and such all were very good. Hamburger and hotdog station near door to pool area, hamburgers a bit thin but acceptable. Make your own taco and nacho station poolside was great as well. Still this goes down as the first cruise ever that I returned a pound lighter than when I sailed off. Enough said! LOUNGES / ENTERTAINMENT / CASINO: We found the entertainment somewhat subdued but satisfactory. There are many small intimate lounges onboard which most provided some type of musical entertainment. There is a Sports bar off the casino which is small but enjoyable if you are a smoker anyway, which I am. It is one of the three designated smoking areas I found. The others being the cigar room off the Crows nest lounge and the pool bar and starboard side table at the aft pool area. Most other areas are non-smoking which is fine as long as smokers like myself have someplace to duck into for a fix. The casino is smoking but few do as it is small and having the Sports bar to go to nearby is enough for most. You have to pass through Sports bar area and casino to get to the main show lounge which might annoy some for a moment bothered by smoke. But should be the only place it will intrude on non-smokers for but a minute. The main shows were again satisfactory but nothing to rave about. One comedian was exceptional. Lee Bayless is a funny and talented guy and does clean humor and some other things I won't mention as to not spoil it. Another juggler/comedian was a good half hour act stretched out far too long to an hour act. Musical productions of singers and dancers good but standard fair. INTERNET: Both wireless and internet library terminals available. Standard rate is .75 a minute but $50 and $100 minute packages are available at lowers rates. I choose the 250 minutes for $100. There is also a activation fee of 3.95 . I did that because this is the first ship I have sailed that I could use my wireless IN CABIN. None of the going to a lounge or library. It was a MISTAKE. Easy enough to set up, get instruction sheet from internet cafe, good wireless connection. Trouble is, like on many ships, the transfer rate is S L O W ! You will need all those 250 minutes to get what you would probably get at home in 50 minutes. And even at .40 a minute, just not worth it. Better to use a download mail program such as Outlook, download and upload at .75 a minute and forget the plan and surfing the net. One good note the NY Times apparently sponsors their internet to some degree so NY Times online time is free if you click through to times on enter screen. ITINERARY: We go more for ships so I never cover ports to any large degree, it would be unfair since I do not take advantage of all that I am sure is available. We like sea days and sailing from NY provides several of those. In January having a covered pool area a definite plus for Noordam allowing for poolside activity before getting to warmer climate. Grand Turk, beach or Jimmy Buffet's, most anything else not really worth trying to get too most tell me. Good part is beach, shopping, and Jimmy's immediately adjacent to dock. We elected to go to beach area. Many chairs, no charge, you can rent a two person cover tent thingee for $20. Snorkel equipment and such also readily available but I doubt snorkeling there provided many fish, I would ask. Best price for cigarettes in shop for trip, 5 cartons for $80. Tortola, little by the pier except straw market, which is a good place for those t-shirts. A couple of new jewelry shops, high end, and way at end the older art and spice shop is nice for spices and such. Having been there before we elected to take a tour around the island which we enjoyed instead of just hanging in shops. We found a gentleman, Ebert Hughes, with a new white air conditioned enclosed van. As we were getting sporadic showers that was the way to go instead of open air. He gave us a nice 3 hour tour and beach stop for $20 a person. Naturally had to wait to get two other couple before we moved off to tour. The way of the islands everywhere. St. Maarten, again elected to take a tour, this time a ships tour of both Dutch and French sides. Enjoyed that as well. It included a small zoo which though small was a nice little stop. I think it was $49 a person, nice large air-conditioned bus and informative tour guide Kathy. A woman who after stopping on islands decided to move to one from Dallas Texas with her husband after her only child grew up. Wish I had moxy to really do something like that. St. Thomas, been there, done that. We docked at newer ship berths so cab needed if you want to go to Havensight Mall that most know or to Paradise Point tram ride. Town is $4 person, Mall and tram $5 person. They will definitely squeeze you into those vans and open sided jitneys before they are moving. ( Note )St. Thomas is the first US port after visiting a foreign port, St Maarten, and requires reporting to immigration. EVERYONE, must PHYSICALLY report to the US officials with passport etc in hand at the Queens lounge. Matters not of you are planning to get off ship you must report and here's the real rub, starts at 7 am! It was handled very orderly but none the less you will get up when called and report to the nice men in uniform and show them your papers! San Juan, we docked at old San Juan but note you are there but for a few short hours. Walking and shopping old San Juan always nice but we like to go across street to the Sheraton Hotel which also houses a nice casino. We did a quick hour and a half in there and I was lucky enough to come away with three hundred more than I went in with. DISEMBARKATION: In NY was easy and orderly enough. Immigration having been performed on your St. Thomas port call it is not required upon return to NY. Disembark is done by calling color coded luggage tags. Your tag color IS checked at disembark and you are turned away if wrong! For those that always feel that they must sneak out early. Not this time. A terminal improvement in NY is that they now have elevator that also goes to parking level. This means you can bring your bags up to parking level ( not necessarily all the way to your car, you might have to bring the car to the bags). The elevators are huge but service large crowds and three levels so pandemonium exists. Also note that upon getting your luggage a porter can be obtained only by having someone go up front and getting into the line for porters. One very big positive concerning disembarking procedure for us. HA allows you to remain in your cabin until called and they also have in cabin room service in the morning so you can have your coffee and such just like any other day. George in NY Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
First I would like to say my husband and I love to cruise. We've been on 8 other cruises. We've been on Carnival, Princess and RCCL. We tried HAL because it's one of the few that leaves from NY in the winter months. I'm ... Read More
First I would like to say my husband and I love to cruise. We've been on 8 other cruises. We've been on Carnival, Princess and RCCL. We tried HAL because it's one of the few that leaves from NY in the winter months. I'm sorry to say we should have stayed home! HAL was so bad all around that I wanted to be a stow away on another cruise ship in one of the ports! EMBARKATION; This went smoothly after the cruise before came in late because of a storm. This was not HAL's fault. Once we started boarding it went quickly. When we had to do our safety drill that was the first encounter with VERY SARCASTIC crew members. Quite a few of them had given nasty answers to simple questions. Activities; They had your usual pool games and I was told that were lucky because this ship had quite a few younger people to play these games! I'd say maybe 20% of the people were under 60 yrs. old. They had Bingo and really not much else. The shops were small, the casino was small, The pool area was also small. There was only 2 pools. SHORE EXCURSIONS; They had a selection of things to do but we found everything a little pricey. We just went our own way. Before I write any more I would like to say after 2 days we started noticing things were being put away. No salt & pepper shakers on the tables, the shops were roped off except for 1 way in and 1 way out. Purell being put in more places. After another day or so the Captain finally came on to tell us that about 21 people have a GI virus and they are trying to contain it so it doesn't spread any further. Next we were not allowed to touch anything in the Lido. We were handed our silverware, our trays, our food. We could not even make our own coffee.Everything was saranwraped off so we could not get to anything. WE totally understand and did not want to get sick but after a while it was frustrating. All the crew was helping out all over the ship so the dishes piled up on the Lido deck and also after Dinner in the restaurant. After another 2 days the Captain let us know that about 40 people and a few crew members were sick. Never once did he say it was the NORO Virus. We were not kept well informed. WE were actually told not to use the public restrooms and to go back to our cabins! Not always convenient. SERVICE:  Giving that most of the staff was helping to serve food and follow people with purell, the service was not so great. You really couldn't even find a bartender at the pool! The dishes piled up on tables and it just wasn't cleaned as other cruises we've been on. I do have to say our cabin steward was great. Our cabin was very clean everyday he even kept the balcony clean. DINING:  This was the worst food I've ever eaten on a cruise. They tried to be too fancy and ended up with food that had no taste except salt. I do not eat meat and there wasn't a big choice for me. At least they had salmon on the menu everyday. My husband does eat meat and sometimes had no choice but to eat a steak because there was nothing that even sounded good. I was very happy on lobster night finally, so I ordered 2 tails because it's really surf & turf and I could not believe 1 tail was black. I called the waiter over and was told that's no good don't eat it and it took him about 16 minutes to bring me another one. We tried the Pinnacle Grill one night at $30. pp you would think It would be great, another disappointment. My scallops were not fully cooked and neither was my husbands steak. He sent it back to cook and by the time it came back everything else was cold. The waitress also insulted my sister in law who ordered a porterhouse. The waitress said low that no women ever order that large of a steak. But we heard her!! We complained again and them we were called to the Restaurant Mgr. office. His name was Darrin Lewis. The rudest man I've ever met. After an interrogation we were finally refunded our money. Also My husband drinks Coors Lite and every can was out of date. The Lido, on quite a few occasions ran out of cheese for the pizza, they ran out of coffee cups & teaspoons for breakfast! ENTERTAINMENT; This was poor. It would have been better to watch a kindergarten class. The usual newlywed game was funny and one comedian, Don Ware, was very funny. The only reason he even was on this ship was because of the writers strike. He should have been on every night. All and all you had to entertain your self! DISEMBARKMENT; This was nice because we were allowed to stay in our cabins and wait. This was a great idea and ran very smooth. SUMMARY; We finally found out that well over 100 people and crew members were sick and the CDC finally called it the NORO Virus. I called HAL when we got home to complain and was told if I had a lot of complaints I should E-Mail. I did. 2 times. No response. I tried to call ,was told to leave a message someone would get back to me. No one did. Finally I got someone on the phone and was told they are 3 to 4 weeks behind. That tells me I'm not the only one out there that will not sail HAL ever again!!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
This was the ninth cruise my wife and I have taken but our first on Holland America. We left from New Haven, CT on the bus transfer that the cruise line provided to the Manhattan Cruise Terminal. We found this to be convenient and and more ... Read More
This was the ninth cruise my wife and I have taken but our first on Holland America. We left from New Haven, CT on the bus transfer that the cruise line provided to the Manhattan Cruise Terminal. We found this to be convenient and and more enjoyable than driving the 1-1/2 hours into New York. The bus brought us directly to the cruise terminal where we encountered what had to be the most orderly embarkation process we have taken part in. We were given a number and provided with seating until the number was called. We then proceeded through the usual security checkpoints and and check-in process before boarding the ship. Once on board we were directed to the Lido deck where we had a short stay until the announcement came that the staterooms were ready. We made our way to our balcony stateroom #4123 on the Upper Promenade deck. We found the room to be of ample size and tastefully decorated. The view from our balcony was a little disappointing however. We had lifeboats to our left and the view down was of some of the ships auxiliary lifeboat equipment. I must confess however that the bed is by far the most comfortable bed we have ever slept on during a cruise. Our stateroom attendant was Widodo who provided us with the best service we have had on any cruise prior to this. He was friendly, helpful, and respectful and did a masterful job working around our schedule. We found the entertainment lacking for the most part. The best shows were the Justin Martin Guitar performances, the Katzenjammer piano shows, and the Ethnic Filipino and Indonesian shows that the crew put on. The decor of the ship and it's public rooms had a touch of elegance, with dark woods, subdued colors, and interesting artwork. The Explorations Cafe is where you will find a nice selection of books, newspapers, and DVD's to borrow and play in your room. The Internet cafe is also located here as well as a coffee bar. The Vista Lounge provided adequate seating capacity but has a number of poles that block your view from certain seats. The Ocean Bar is centrally located on the Promenade Deck, and spans the area surrounding the atrium. This is a nice stop for a before or after dinner cocktail, with a quartet and small dance floor. The shops are all located forward of the Explorations Cafe, and in order to get from the back of the ship to the front on this level, you have to go through them. The corridors are narrow and crowded and unlike other ships that have more of a mall-like design, these were based on an open floor plan. Despite the confusion the design may present the shops are stocked with plenty of logo merchandise, jewelry and duty-free products. We chose the "As You Wish Dining" that allowed us to eat when and where we wanted. We found this to be an excellent choice, especially on excursion days. We ate most of our meals on the Lido deck, as all the restaurants, other than the Pinnacle Grill, serve the same meals on a daily basis. We found it very relaxing to not have to rush back to our room to change out of our shorts to have a nice meal. The selection of food on the Lido deck for all meals was good and it provided some of the best coffee we have had on a cruise to date. However we did find that most of the soups and some of the entrees were salted a little too much for our taste. Our service staff on the Lido deck consisted of Djasrul, Reza, and Edwin who all provided superior service and good conversation. We did not use the Vista Dining Room but heard that the staff had too many tables to wait on and did not provide the kind of service that was expected of that venue. We did eat at the Pinnacle Grill on two occasions and I would highly recommend it. Despite the $30 "cover charge" the meals and service were impeccable. Our ports included Tortola, St Thomas, Dominica, Barbados, St. Maarten, and San Juan PR. In Tortola we took an excursion to Virgin Gorda to see The Baths. The trip involves a 1/2 hour ferry ride and some downhill trekking to reach The Baths but I highly recommend this one. In St Thomas we did the 2 person Mini Boat Snorkel and Beach Adventure which was fun. However our favorite excursion was the River Tubing in the Layou River Gorge. This was an amazing 2-3 mile adventure floating on the Layou River in large tubes through calm water, small rapids, and with guides assisting you the entire way. Simply amazing. In Barbados we went off on our own to the Malibu Beach Club for an enjoyable day at the beach. In St Maarten our excursion to the French Riviera Beach was canceled due to high winds whipping up the surf and causing some riptides so we tool a water ferry to a nearby beach in Philipsburg and spent the day relaxing there and eating at Taloula Mango's where we had some of the most amazing tropical drinks and great quesadillas. Our time in San Juan was seriously limited. We arrived at 7:00 AM and had to back on board by 12:30 PM. Since it was Sunday most stores opened late. We were able to take a tour of both the San Cristobal and El Morro fortifications. We the searched out two restaurants that were recommended on the cruise ship, El Bombanero for breakfast and Mofungo for lunch. The food in both was fantastic and I highly recommend them. Our disembarkation in New York was as comfortable and trouble free as our embarkation. We were allowed to wait in the stateroom until our color/number combination was called, claimed our luggage in the terminal,and boarded our bus for the trip home. I was very impressed with Holland America. They provided us with the most relaxing, stress free vacation we have taken to date and we would definitely cruise on the Noordam again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
Just finished our first cruise on HAL - the Noordam Xmas and New Year cruise out of New York. Overall we had a brilliant cruise, but this was mainly due to the friends we cruised with, the brilliant tours we did, and the itinerary. We have ... Read More
Just finished our first cruise on HAL - the Noordam Xmas and New Year cruise out of New York. Overall we had a brilliant cruise, but this was mainly due to the friends we cruised with, the brilliant tours we did, and the itinerary. We have only cruised Celebrity before this one so thought it was interesting to note the differences with HAL, some we liked but many we did not. So overall, we have decided that HAL is not for us and we are back to Celebrity for our next two cruises at least. Anyway, for anyone that might be interested, these observations are our personal opinion, of course others may have a completely different view. BTW, we had a balcony cabin on deck 5. In no particular order........... Fruit in cabin - on HAL you are asked to select two choices and the fruit bowl is replenished daily. I believe you only get this benefit in Concierge class on Celebrity. Hairdryers are better on HAL. The beds are comfortable on HAL however sleep is almost impossible due to the constant droning of the air con which cannot be turned off. Hydropool and Thermal Suite - HAL - we got a couples pass for the whole cruise and it was the best thing about the ship. Heavenly. As well as the safe, there are lockable drawers on HAL. Bathroom toiletries - HAL wins with Elemis products. Bag full of laundry - HAL wins - $12 for as much as you can get in the bag. It's surprising how many items you can get washed and ironed - I think we got about 20 items in one bag (without cramming). A total bargain. Entertainment -we only saw two shows on HAL, Don Ware (comedian), and the Las Vegas production show. They were both very good. We could not see any more than this as the dining room service was so slow (see below). Embarkation - HAL was a total shambles and took around one and a half hours to board. With our Celebrity experience we were on board within a few minutes. Dining room - service was much better on Celebrity - the first thing our HAL waiter did was to apologize that he couldn't give us the service we were expecting??? What???? For the whole cruise???? Yes - as he was so busy. Tables were hardly ever laid correctly, drinks were ordered and didn't arrive without reminders after half an hour, bottled water went walkabout to other tables. Service was very slow, and most nights we missed the shows. We had 8pm fixed seating - one night we had not received our entree by 9.45pm. Our friends had to collect their daughter from Club HAL at 10pm so quite frequently one of them would have to go to Club HAL then return for the rest of their meal. We were led to believe that cappuccinos etc were available after dinner in the dining room on HAL. We were never offered them, but did have them on a couple of nights when we requested them. Overall we thought the food quality, presentation and general atmosphere on Celebrity was much higher than HAL. Cabin Steward - Celebrity wins. Almost without fail our cabin was not attended to until at least midday on HAL. I understand someone has to be last in line for getting their cabin cleaned, but it should be rotated so you get done early at least a couple of times. Also the cabin steward kept moving things around the bathroom so that our shampoo/shower gel would be by the sink and you would have to step out of the shower to retrieve it. Quite annoying. Room Service - Celebrity wins again. We ordered coffee on HAL, was asked if we wanted cream and sugar - we told them we did - coffee arrived without cream and sugar. Had a meal in our cabin then called for the tray to be collected (there really isn't room for a tray that large in the cabin) - after 2 hours we gave up waiting for it to be collected and went to sleep. Celebrity are so much more efficient in room service. Buffet - Celebrity staff are always available and offering to carry trays for you. No offers to help from HAL staff until about the 12th day of a 14 day cruise. Waffles - No contest - Celebrity wins hands down! Cabin - Celebrity supply a pitcher of iced water in your cabin, replenished twice daily. HAL supply a bottle of water which you may PURCHASE. We found the French Doors on HAL annoying as you had to move the furniture around on the balcony to open and close the door - Celebrity have sliding patio doors which are much more user friendly in such a small space. Layout of ship - personally we did not care for the layout of Noordam and after 2 weeks were not that familiar with the ship. Celebrity have bars close to the Dining Room, with dancing and music, great for meeting up with friends just prior to dinner. No bars close to the Dining Room on Noordam. Services - Celebrity have on screen accounting and on screen room service ordering. To get account details on HAL you have to go to the front desk and request a print out. Pillow Chocolates - Celebrity win again. Xmas present - We received a very nice photo box/album last year on Christmas Day from Celebrity. This year from HAL we got a Candy Cane each!!!!! I kid you not. It was about 2 inches long and at first we thought it was a joke and something else must be missing. Nope. Everyone got the same. We found it very insulting - would have been less insulting if they had given us nothing - the fact that someone dreamed this up as a Xmas present when you are paying the highest prices of the year was absolutely gobsmacking. Speciality Restaurant - Celebrity really are special in this area. The Pinnacle Grill was not a great success - this meal was a gift from friends we were travelling with so I will not go into great detail as she may wish to elaborate herself. Cabin Storage - HAL wins - plenty of storage in the cabin and suitcases fit easily under the bed. Theatre - Celebrity's theatre has tables at every section of seating. The only tables we could see in Noordam's theatre were right at the front in the sofa style seating. So if you wanted a drink you had to hold it for the whole show. Umbrellas - Celebrity supply umbrellas in the cabin - HAL do not. Balcony furniture - HAL furniture is superior to Celebrity's. Outside decks for night time drinks - How we missed Celebrity's Deck 10 aft, with a late closing bar and music, sitting under the stars relaxing with a drink and chatting with friends. HAL's outside bars seem to close at around 9pm. Pools - the aft pool on Noordam is a brilliant idea for adults only, however the water was so cold, hardly anyone was ever in it. Maintenance - twice we received notification that our balcony was going to be cleaned and railings varnished. Not a huge deal but we made the effort of being out of our cabin early on both days so as not to be disturbed by the activity. It never was done on either day and we received no explanation. Announcements - Both lines are very good at keeping announcements to a minimum, however a little more information from the Noordam captain regarding the high seas, rocking, rolling and crashing on the final two days back to New York would have been very reassuring. Sorry the above does seem to jump around a bit. I realize that not everyone will agree with me about all of the above - please remember this is our opinion only. Especially the poor service around the Noordam - yes the staff were very busy, however this is HALs problem - with a full to capacity ship and prime holiday time, they should supply extra staff, and not expect staff to stretch themselves so that guests suffer. This is not what we paid premium prices for. Someone else said on a review for the same sailing " You really have to take what you are giving and make the best of it." Sorry, actually I don't. So back to Celebrity for us. Doubtful we would ever sail HAL again - it's just not the line for us. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
Noordam Review December 12-22, 2007 This was our (Curt 52 and Linda 51) 22nd cruise and our first on HAL. We sure have found a new home. As I packed the night before our departure Northwest called and told me that there was good news! ... Read More
Noordam Review December 12-22, 2007 This was our (Curt 52 and Linda 51) 22nd cruise and our first on HAL. We sure have found a new home. As I packed the night before our departure Northwest called and told me that there was good news! Our flight was re-instated and would leave as originally scheduled. I know, just like me you were wondering when did they cancel the flight? I was told that there was some difficulty with GRR and that they had worked out the bugs and everything was kosher. I went to bed only to be jarred awake at 11:30...another call from NW -- the flight was cancelled, but they had good news...they could book us on another flight that would get us to NY at 6:45 pm!!! I told them that there was no way we could take that flight because the ship left at 4 pm! The man said that there was really no other flight and that he would book us on the later flight. I told him "No, Thanks" Again, I thought, YIKES!!!! I need my Master Cruise Counselor!!! He then suggested that we arrive at GRR around 4 am and that maybe the booking agents there could come up with something. I hung up and at that point really thought that there was something God was trying to hit me over the head with when the phone rang again. It was NW...the same really nice man who began the conversation with "Is this my Meess Lenda"? He looked around and found us a flight that took us to MSP then to NY for a 12:45 pm arrival. Thank God for that nice little man who went out of his way to find a way to save our vacation. There was a little confusion with the small number of HAL passengers trying to catch the transfer to the port as surprisingly at 12:45 we were the last flight to get into the airport. Most of the passengers had come via bus and were being processed onto the ship at 10am! The trip from LGA to the port was great!!! What fun. It was a tour of NYC all of its own. We got to the ship verified our luggage, signed the "sick form" (and since we had printed out boarding pass at home), went to the desk, told them our name, they handed us our keys, took our picture for the boarding key and we were on the ship. 10 minutes tops!!!! We loved the ship. We had a nice room - a general inside. Not overly large and it could have used a few more places to put your clothing, but it worked well for us. Champagne from our Master Cruise Counselor was waiting on ice. Our cabin steward Ade introduced himself along with bringing us a gift card for the Pinnacle again from our great Master Cruise Counselor. We checked out the buffet and since it was a tad cold outside went back and unpacked...we got done just in time for dinner!! The hi-light of my trip was right before dinner as just at sunset we passed the Statue of Liberty. She was so beautiful. I was so excited. I have always wanted to meet her and just as I thought, she was just as beautiful as I imagined. I can just picture my grandparents seeing her for the first time as they arrived at Ellis Island. It was so exhilarating to later in the week walk around the same area they must have walked in 1899 when they got off the ship. The weather was rough the first night. I think I made it until 7:30 before drifting off!! By the next morning the ship was still rocking and it was quite windy, by noon the weather warmed up and we got out in the sun for a while. We had a wonderful table for 2 in the upper dining room. Our Waiters Mu and Rudy were the most exceptional waiters we have ever had in all of our 20+ cruises. We enjoyed them so very much. Eugene our wine (or in our case ice tea) steward and his wife Anya were so much fun. I can't tell you how much we looked forward to seeing them each day. The food was extraordinary. There was only one dish that we decided we would not order again on our next cruise but, even that was good. We thoroughly enjoyed each and every bite and sadly still had room for a trip to the ice cream bar about an hour later!!! We enjoyed the Lido buffet for most lunches. I think we ate at every station at least once. Curt really enjoyed the daily taco buffet. We did breakfast ½ and ½ Lido and dining room. And even after all of our cruises we still have not thought to order room service!!! The second day at sea was very nice. We hit the warm weather and the pool area was busy. There was never a rush for chairs though many were reserved. Early on the second day Curt went through a doorway that had a drop on the other side that we did not notice until he stepped down and twisted his ankle. Hence started another adventure in cruising. On the second night we decided to take advantage of our gift card and go to the Pinnacle Grill. We both splurged on the 22 ounce Porterhouse. Fantastic!!! I think that during the whole week we took more pictures of the food and the towel animals than anything else. It was a very tasty dinner and beautifully presented. The service was impeccable. Both Curt and I said at the conclusion of the dinner that it was the most visually beautiful meal we had ever had. I can't believe that we ate that whole thing. Before we got out of the Pinnacle we noticed Curt's ankle was swelled twice its size. By the time we arrived in Grand Turks Saturday morning he was miserable. We had put him up on ice and pain killers all night, but it only got worse. We had booked a snorkeling adventure and after much thought decided to chance it. He hobbled off the pier and on to the charter. He got some great snorkeling in. The weather was still rough and many members of our tour came back aboard with cuts after snorkeling over the coral. Then we were taken to a little island where he swam around with the stingray. I don't snorkel, so I got some fabulous pictures from the boat. We had a great time and the cool water kept the ankle at bay...until we had to walk back to the ship. The beach area off the ship looked quite nice with covered 2 chair cabanas. There was a tad of seaweed washed up, but it looked like a nice place to spend the day. You took a towel as you were getting off the ship if needed and returned it when you got back on. There were several shops to poke around in and a nice clean restroom. The next morning things only looked worse for the ankle. I knew we had to go to the doctor and finally I talked Curt into a check-up. This was our first time to have to ask for assistance on a cruise and I was so pleased with how we were treated. The nurse put Curt in a treatment room right away and after finding out that he had an accident on the ship -- she called the security department to take a statement. The doctor came right in and checked him and decided that it was a bad sprain. With the only treatment being 2 days in bed with a raised iced ankle, it was a slight downer as we had booked some pretty ambitious shore excursions. The doctor gave us great advice, wrapped the ankle and gave us lots of ice packs...and....a wheelchair that Curt was in for the rest of the cruise!!!!! The best part was that we could finally get around the ship ...and there was no bill ...and that after eating everything I could get my hands on I lost a pound pushing the chair around! (That evening there was a knock at the door and our steward had a footed silver platter filled with chocolate covered strawberries and filled chocolates with compliments of the captain along with wishes for a quick recovery.) A very nice touch. The nurse called during the week to check on Curt. The security department called and checked on him. The Purser's office called and checked. It was like being at home. Our phone was ringing all the time. I went down to the shore excursion desk and explained what had happened and they immediately canceled our tours...no problem. They also suggested a few that we could take with the wheelchair and booked one in Tortola for us as we were just about to arrive. They people at the excursion desk were so kind and helpful. I was a bit worried that we would have to pay for the tours that we had booked, but they were so nice to take care of everything. We took a great open air tour of Tortola with David, a most knowledgeable young man who was about to leave for college in Missouri. It was one of the best tours we have taken in our travels. We tooled around with the chair in both St. Maarten and at Crown Bay in St. Thomas. I did not care that much for Crown Bay as we have been spoiled with going to Havensite so often. I think that Crown Bay will be a nice place in a few years, but for now there is not much right at the port. We got into San Juan so early (7am) that there was nothing open until 11:00 and the ship left at 12:30. We took a walk around, but it was a total waste of a port. I am glad that we had been there and explored before because for those who could choose between the 3 shore excursions that were offered or go off on their own it must have been a dismal port. The two days home were uneventful...(Thank Goodness) the weather got rougher and rougher as we neared NY. They were good days to rest, but, sadly if you wanted to rest in the sun, it was over in San Juan. We were not impressed with the evening shows on the ship. I surprised when so many people walked out of the shows right in the middle. There was canned music as opposed to an orchestra playing. The entertainers truly made a mistake thinking that loud singing was the same as good singing and dancing. I wonder now if they cranked up the music to accommodate the older generation. All it really did was drive people out of the venue. We enjoyed the afternoon lectures. I am usually a Broadway babe as far as entertainment but I have to say that the speakers were quite interesting and well informed. There was lecturer, Chris something or other who really thought he was hot stuff. He was quite insulting to people who left his lectures early. He also made several off the cuff, unflattering comments in regard to how the passengers must treat their grandchildren. I observed that as the week went on, his attendance got smaller and smaller. I attempted to talk to him one day in the Asian buffet line and he was just as snotty in person as he was on stage. He had no people skills at all and I think that he was the most obnoxious cruise line employee I have ever met. The ship was easy to get around and very clean. The stewards and employees without exception ( I don't count Chris the lecturer) were smiling, helpful and most enjoyable. They made us feel so much a part of their family. Of all our cruises this one was the hardest to go home from. I think I started referring to the Noordam as the "Ship of the Damned" about the second night. There were numerous injuries on the ship. More wheel chairs than I could count. There were several people who had broken bones on the first two days and a lady who severed part of her thumb in her door on the first day. Several twisted ankles and shoulder injuries. It seems as thought those first two days of rough weather took their toll on many. We could always out run the wheelchairs but, those in the motorized carts were wicked! I did find out that you have to take the waterproof door-jams straight on with a running start to get through them and over the metal sealer on the ground. Otherwise you catapult the wheelchair passenger right out of the chair. On the second formal night a lady at a table near us choked. A voice on the overhead made an obvious distress call and very calmly a huge amount of uniformed crew members brought in equipment and went shoulder to shoulder around the table so that they could help her. They moved the passengers closest to the event to other tables and the weird part was that dinner just went on normally with the exception of the 20 or so crew who were making a wall around the medical staff. They took her out on a stretcher. Evidently she was feeling better near the end of the dinner because the son/husband wheeled her back into the dining room as we were leaving! After 9 days in a chair Curt was almost back to normal and could walk off the ship on his own. We did not gamble or take advantage of bingo or crafts. Every day there were numerous craft sessions you could pay to go to. We did enjoy the cooking shows. It was like being in an audience of one of the shows on the Food Channel. They also offered cooking classes that you could book as you would a shore excursion. If I had known at the beginning that we would be spending so much time on the ship, I sure would have signed up for them. I like going to the afternoon movies though I am not sure who was in charge of picking them out. They were not appropriate to the age group of people on the ship. This was another event where passengers just got up and left in the middle...or in the case of the movies, right at the first bloody murder/rape/disfigurement. The passengers were so pleasant to be with and talk with. Curt and I generally are more comfortable with older people so we were in hog heaven! I enjoyed conversation with so many of them - especially a large group of Russian ladies who had come to live in NY and seemed to take up residence in the hot tubs daily. They were so interesting and funny. They gave me some great tips and in-site about visiting Europe next summer. There were numerous people on the ship who were on the second of a three leg holiday cruise. They had gotten on the ship on December 1 and were not getting off until Jan 5th. We booked a ship tour of NY upon arrival. We were off the ship by 8:30. We had gone through immigration in St. Thomas, so it was just a matter of handing over the duty forms and walking off the ship gathering our luggage and getting on the bus. Our tour guide was very talkative and knowledgeable about the city. Since we were off the ship quite early and there were only 26 in our group, our normally scheduled 2 1/2 hour tour was extended to a 4 1/2 hour tour. Although we were on a large bus, the overall tour was great and gave us a taste of the big city. We were taken to Wall Street, Broadway, Soho, Greenwich, Village and past the big name shopping stores (Tiffany's was so beautiful) decorated for the holidays as well as homes (and death sites) of celebrities. People having their smiling family pictures taken on the site of John Lennon's murder and in front of Ground Zero really creeped me out. We went through the good, bad and interesting parts of NYC. We went past all the wonderful bridges that connect the boroughs. We went past Battery Park and saw the crowds of people waiting to visit the Statue of Liberty. Leo our tour guide kept up a constant chatter of information for the entire time. The most moving part of our tour was to the Winter Gardens over looking Ground Zero. There are not words for the feelings and experiences we had at this site. It was a site that I thought was terrible, beautiful and awe inspiring all at one time. When next I see you I am going to tell you an experience I had while overlooking the site that will most likely confirm your previous thoughts of the balance of my mental being! Don't forget to ask me about it. We also had lunch at Pier 17 and did some last minute shopping. It was a really interesting wharf, filled with all sorts of sidewalk vendors and tall ships. We were dropped right off at NW and had an uneventful trip home. Loved HAL. Can't wait to travel with them again! Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
This was our 17th cruise and our second on HAL. We did the 10-night on Noordam last December. Most of our previous cruises were on RCCL and Celebrity. Embarkation: Once we made it through the impossible traffic approaching the Lincoln ... Read More
This was our 17th cruise and our second on HAL. We did the 10-night on Noordam last December. Most of our previous cruises were on RCCL and Celebrity. Embarkation: Once we made it through the impossible traffic approaching the Lincoln Tunnel and driving cross town to 12 Ave., getting to the pier was easy. We dropped off the luggage and my wife went to park the car. Last year the parking was on the same pier as embarkation. Unfortunately this year it was on the next pier, which meant a very long cold walk for my wife. As suite guests, check-in was a breeze. We were escorted through the security checkpoint and we were a bit uncomfortable as we were "jumped ahead" of people waiting in line. No one in line seemed too upset so we didn't feel all that bad! Despite what I read on the message boards, if you register your credit card on-line, they do not have to swipe it and you don't even have to sign anything. You just present your boarding pass and your passports, they take your picture, hand you your sea pass and you are on your way. Once on board, we went straight to our cabin, which was ready and our steward was there in a flash to introduce himself. Crew: Captain Hans Mateboer seems nice enough, but he is certainly not the people person that John Scott is. Last year we saw Captain Scott around the ship mingling with the passengers almost every day. I don't think we saw Captain Mateboer more than twice other than the organized events. This was the last Noordam cruise for Hotel Manager Stan Cuppens who is going to be the first Hotel Manager for the Eurodam. I had a nice conversation with him at our M&G and another at the Q&A session on the last day. He is very professional and interesting to talk to. I really don't have an opinion about Cruise Director Trevor Millar. He was just a typical CD....overly enthusiastic and mechanical which made him seem insincere. But I could say the same about most CD's I have encountered. Chief Officer Chris Norman sat at our table at the Mariners Luncheon along with two other couples. We had a very informative conversation and he discussed the fuel situation which is the driving force behind HAL's decision pull Noordam from NYC. He also shared some very interesting cruise stories. Beverage Manager Marc Spijkerboer arranged a second CC get together at the end of the cruise. I gave him the list of cabin numbers I had (about 40 out of our 67) and he sent invitations. What really impressed me was that he seemed enthusiastic about doing it. The concierges in the Neptune Lounge, Mila & Vanessa were wonderful as always. Both knew our names after our first visit. Mila was the only member of the entire crew who we recognized from our cruise last year. Our cabin steward Adit, our Vista steward Dadan, his assistant Disan, and the wine steward Anya were all terrific, as was every crew member we encountered. Food: The food was excellent in the Vista. I particularly enjoyed the sirloin steaks which were tender and cooked perfectly, the lobster tails which were a good size and delicious (I ordered surf, surf, & turf....could have done without the tiny filet), and the escargot which was exceptional. The food was always served hot and exactly as ordered. The food quality and selection was very good in the Lido (breakfasts and lunches) though it was very crowded at times. We found we were able to avoid this problem by eating a bit earlier or later. At the last minute we decided to try the Pinnacle again even though I was unimpressed last year. This time the food was great and the service was far better than last year. We really enjoyed it. We also had breakfast a few times in the PG and it was very nice and relaxing with great service. This turned out to be a great suite perk which we did not take advantage of last year. While we were eating dinner one night in the Vista Dining Room, the fire alarm sounded. No one really reacted. All the servers just went about their business. Within a minute the chimes sounded indicating an announcement. Never in my life have I seen a room full of passengers become instantaneously silent. The captain announced that there was a report of a fire in the Lido and fire crews were on their way. A short time later he came on again and announced that the fire was minor and had been extinguished. We found out later that the fire was in some cardboard boxes and had been extinguished by the Lido staff before the fire crew arrived. It was very comforting to know that this emergency was handled so quickly and efficiently. Suite: As much as everyone raves about the aft corner suites (we were in SC 5191), I think I prefer the SB/SA's midship. Yes, the huge verandah was wonderful, but the cabin itself was significantly smaller than the SB we were in last year and the location made for some long walks. I guess it's just a matter of personal taste, but I will take the extra space and central location over the huge corner verandah. Ports: Because of our late (3 PM) arrival on Tortola we did not book an excursion. We just walked through town and IMHO the town stinks, both figuratively and literally. The stench of sewage was everywhere. On St. Thomas we were docked at Crown Bay. More shops are gradually opening, but it will never be like Havensight. We took a cab into town and had lunch at our favorite restaurant Mason Amalia. On Dominica we did the Rain Forest and Emerald Pool tour. The Emerald Pool was beautiful, but the rain forest lived up to its name. As soon as we hit the trail, the sky opened up and we were drenched. Our next stop was for a drink and "entertainment". Some local singers/dancers performed and some from the tour were called to the stage to participate. I could have done without this stop, especially since our next stop was supposed to be the Botanical Garden, but because we were running late, we just drove through it. We were so late they had to hold the ship for us. On Barbados we did the Concorde Experience. The newly opened exhibit was great. We were able to walk through this amazing plane and then view a multimedia show projected on the side of the plane. The next stop was the historic St. John's Church. It was very interesting and there were some fantastic views. We only spent 15 minutes there though because we had to get to the Rum Shop. What a dive! They give you one drink and try to get you to buy lunch. We spent 40 boring minutes there. 15 minutes at a beautiful historic church and 40 minutes at a seedy rum shop! What's wrong with this picture? On St. Maarten we were signed up for the Beach Rendezvous. When we met up with the tour guide she told us that conditions at Orient Beach were extremely windy and we were given the option of canceling for a full refund. Well our experience is that it is always windy at Orient Beach, so if they are saying it is very windy, then it must be too windy! So we passed on this excursion and spent the day shopping with a stop for lunch. San Juan was the usual useless stop, arriving at 7AM and having to be back on board at 12:30. We had to compete at the gate to the pier with throngs of Carnival passengers with their carry-ons boarding a ship for a cruise originating in San Juan. Entertainment & Events: We managed to miss almost all of the entertainment on board. Unfortunately we were unable to avoid the string quartet because they were playing in the Explorer Lounge and we often had to pass by. To be blunt, they were just awful. In addition to be very mechanical and uninspired, there were times when they were totally out of tune. The HALCats were about the same as last year. Not bad but not great. I much prefer the calypso bands on RCCL & Celebrity. The Mariner luncheon (our first) was very nice. Because of the large number of Mariners, we were split into two seatings in the upper level of the Vista Dining Room. We were assigned to the first seating (11 AM), which was somewhat early. Having officers sit at some of the large tables was a nice touch. The suite luncheon was very nice also. This year it was in the Crows Nest. This was much better than last year when it was in the Pinnacle, which seemed very crowded. The only down side was that the "entertainment" was provided by the aforementioned string quartet. It was painful. A lot of people from our CC roll call have been thanking me for doing a good job in organizing our meet & greet. In reality, all I did was send a few e-mails and print some name tags. The real credit goes to the 65 others on the roll call who kept the thread going with their contributions and for showing up in such numbers at the meet & greet and CTBob who set up a web site where he posted pictures we sent him of ourselves and the ports we were going to visit. I think we really felt like we knew each other before we ever boarded the ship. If you missed my previous post, we had 67 on the roll call and more than 60 showed up for the M&G. In addition, two from the roll call were traveling with 66 others from their community and more than 60 of them showed up too so we had a total of more than 120 people. We also had a second get together on the last sea day thanks to one of our CC members who requested it and to Marc the Beverage Manager who graciously arranged it. We had hot hors d'oeuvres and an open bar at both gatherings. That appears to be the new standard fare for CC meet & greets, at least on Noordam. No more coffee and cookies! Disembarkation: Disembarkation was also very easy. The luggage is in small enough groups that it was not difficult to find ours. I had to walk to the street end of the pier to grab a porter. The customs agents just collected our declaration forms....they didn't even look at them. Last year the porter took us all the way to the car and helped us load. This year, because the parking was on a different pier, he only took us as far as the roadway which connects the piers. I waited with the luggage while my wife took the long walk to get the car. Leaving NYC was much easier than coming in and we were home in PA before noon. Conclusions: To be honest, I had prepared myself for a letdown. Our cruise on Noordam last year was so good, there was no way this one could match it. Well I was wrong. I am amazed at how HAL manages to maintain such a high level of service, which does not seem to depend on who the officers or crew members are. It was another wonderful cruise on a wonderful ship with a wonderful crew and a whole bunch of new friends. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
Noordam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.8
Family 2.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.6
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 3.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.3

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