4 Holland America Noordam Cruise Reviews for Cruises for the Disabled Cruises to Alaska

CABIN 10019 -- Small balcony (room for two angled chairs and a miniature cocktail table). Room itself was very small, but there was plenty of storage space for two people, including two spacious drawers under the bed we didn't even ... Read More
CABIN 10019 -- Small balcony (room for two angled chairs and a miniature cocktail table). Room itself was very small, but there was plenty of storage space for two people, including two spacious drawers under the bed we didn't even need to use. Likewise, all of our luggage fit neatly under the bed after we unpacked. In spite of the cozy room, I didn't feel closed in. I have serious claustrophobia and had no problem with the room or the bathroom facility at all. Noordam is a beautiful ship that is showing some signs of wear (it was commissioned in 2006), but is well maintained by an attentive and friendly staff. At meals and in passageways, crew members smiled and greeted passengers without fail. Only complaint about staff is that many do not speak English well and there was some culture/language communication problems at times. Food was above average in the dining room and beyond description in the Pinnacle Grill (more on that later). Only one dining room evening meal was below expectations of your neighborhood Denney's. Most were far better with a variety of gourmet offerings for each course. Salmon was on menu every night but final night, which was trout. Second gala night we had "surf and turf" which was a very generous sized fillet Mignon and a lobster tail, perfectly prepared and well presented. Although drink orders were offered, we stuck with the complimentary water and iced tea at meals and had our own beverages in the room or during "happy hours" where beverages were $2.00 for second drink. We discovered that you have to buy the same drink as your second one AT THE SAME TIME, meaning be sure to ask for no ice (or a canned beverage) if you don't want Coke flavored water for your $2.00 drink. Bar service was excellent in the Crow's Nest, not so much in the Northern Lights lounge where we went for a music trivia contest. The Explorer's Cafe service is very slow during some parts of the day, prompt during others. It's worth a try. While not as good as Starbucks, Pete's or SBC, the drinks are yummy and hot. Very hot. We considered a beverage package, but opted to visit the Safeway Store in Seward to bring our own soda, cream and a small bottle of wine on-board. No problems getting through security with that. Hard liquor is not allowed, but reasonable amounts of soda, juices and wine (750 ml) are permitted. For our next cruise, we may do some math on the beverage plan. It may be worth the extra money to save a trip to the supermarket to bring our own beverages onto the ship. Pinnacle Grill is $35 per person extra and well worth the cost. I made a reservation before the cruise to be at Pinnacle when we were cruising through Glacier Bay on our anniversary. From the opening "shot" of mushroom latte to the amazing surf and turf dinner (four serving size choices included and a jaw dropping 32 oz fillet available for an extra fee), every food item was prepared to standards way above anything we have experienced before. The area is very quiet, in spite of a very large family with several kids at a table nearby. Waiters were not bothersome, but were on hand right away to refill drinks or bring the next course. If you've been thinking about cruising, choose HAL if only for the opportunity to dine at this amazing restaurant. Choose your cabin wisely. We were on the Starboard side of a south bound cruise. In other words, when the Captain came on to announce some cool feature or landmark, we had to find an open space on the other side of the ship or in the Crow's Nest. While we're on the subject of choosing a cabin, we found our 10th deck forward cabin to be one of the best kept secrets. Tucked out of the way, just steps away from the Crows nest and a short elevator ride to the Greenhouse Spa on the Lido deck, this quiet area truly was a retreat from the hustle and bustle of port day passageway traffic. Although as far forward as one can be berthed on a ship, there was relatively little motion until the last night. That made up for the week of restfulness. Sleep is hard to find on a ship, but the bed and bedding are among the best we've slept on. Two full beds joined together to make a queen bed on a stable foundation meant motion from the other person almost un-noticeable. Unfortunately, the pillows were either to "foam rubbery" or too "squishy". If you have room to pack your favorite pillow, it might make this the best night sleep you've had in a long time. ----------- Enrichment activities included among other things, the Windows Workshop. Of little interest to us since we have Macs. But descriptions seemed interesting, particularly those that are platform independent like using OneDrive. Also available were several presentations from America's Test Kitchens, one of my favorite foodie magazines/programs. The demonstrations were great and came with recipe cards and handouts featuring various techniques. They are not interactive as you might expect in a live performance. That may be the way they're done, or it might be because there was an outbreak of Norovirus during this cruise. ----------- Entertainment is HAL's Achilles Heel. What little entertainment they have is poorly done in venues that were not designed for unobstructed viewing or for musical performance. The GOOD: An excellent mashup between the ship's band performing and BBC Earth's wildlife shows was the entertainment highlight for us. Alexander Great's magic show was a close second. I also enjoyed Adagio's performances in the Exploration's Cafe, though I only heard them as I was passing through. Noordam's musicians are top notch. Take the time to enjoy their performances while you're aboard. The BAD: The signature auditorium on the Noordam is the Vista Lounge. At least a third of the auditorium (and almost all of the upper deck 'balcony" area) is obstructed by columns or the ceiling of the upper deck. Two nights, we could see the bottom two thirds of the backdrop. The third night, we sat in the floor area in chairs that must have been reupholstered leftovers from GITMO. Uncomfortable, these chairs had cushions that did not stay put. The UGLY: The cast's performance of "Ever After" is anything but what the title implies... A collection of popular music from the 80s and 90s played as the singers and dancers re-enacted several fairy tales... most at one time. Imagine Snow White and Alice in Wonderland on stage at the same time in full volume. Choreography was large stage performed on a small stage. "Ever After" is only a little worse than a high school musical. I'll give them an A+ for the multimedia backdrop. As far as performance that was poor goes (as described above), the problem was not so much a lack of skill and talent of the cast. Done in a theater designed for such a performance, and with only one -- at the most two closely related concepts, it might be an award winning show. For the seemingly thrown together quality, it gets the "UGLY" award for this cruise. -------------- The Greenhouse Spa is very expensive. However, we splurged and spent money that might have gone to an excursion or two to get their hydrotherapy and thermal lounge package. It is $249 for two people for the full cruise. Normally, it's a great place to "spa away" the muscle tension and stress in a relaxing and quiet space. Quiet, relaxing Earth music plays sometimes (volume and presence is controlled from the women's changing room for some reason). Only one day did we have disruptive people -- a pair of young ladies who were asked to be quiet by an elderly lady who stepped up to enforce the rules that the staff didn't seem interested in monitoring. The thermal loungers are very hot (hotter than water in your friendly neighborhood hot tub). They're not for everyone, but I found them helpful after putting the "luxurious bathrobe" and a large towel down. Signage asks people to limit their use to 20 minutes (in both pool and thermoloungers) and that should be more than enough. Don't be surprised if you find people sleeping on the loungers. They're not breaking the rules on purpose... these things are just that relaxing. The Greenhouse also offers a wide range of spa treatments for both men and women, from cleansing facials to mani-pedi's. TIP: Get your mani-pedi and facial before the cruise. You'll still have money left over for your kid's college education. But if you can afford it, these folks seem to know how to pamper with style. ---------- Public rooms, except for Northern Lights and the Vista Lounge are very nice. Some include prints of famous Dutch Masters' work, statuary and my favorite, wooden carvings at the main dining room. Not only are public rooms well appointed, the staff works tirelessly to keep them clean. This is especially true should your cruise face an outbreak of Norovirus as occurred this time. Crew members -- even the Cruise Director himself -- took on the task of "super-sanitizing" the ship's public spaces and passageways in addition to their normal duties. Other than the Lido, where a careless plate grab from an infected passenger could spread the virus, I felt very safe on board. I've seen little mention on Cruise Critic of the "secret" places one can go for peace and quiet. There are many of those on the Noordam. My favorites were the Explorations Cafe, library and the Crow's Nest. Yes, they can get busy at certain times of the day, but for the most part it's relaxing and quiet... and a nice seat with a great view can almost always be found. ---------- Embarkation and disembarkation were both well organized on the ship end. However, disembarkation took a long time and once through the HAL portion, customs became very crowded, confusing and disorganized. They do not sanitize those spaces like they do the ship itself, and one of us got sick as a result. It's a good idea to wait in your stateroom until your disembarkation group is called. While they let people gather in public rooms to wait for their call, you're bound to find a lot of people anxious to get on to their next destination and with that comes impatience. I was concerned about a tight connection to the airport, but following HAL's process, we got there in plenty of time. TIPS: 1. If you are a U.S. citizen, you'll actually clear customs twice. Once for Canada and again at the airport before boarding. 2. Try to have as little carry on luggage as possible as you'll be asked for your passport, boarding pass and a customs receipt several times throughout. 3. If you have a medical device (such as a CPAP, H-Wave or similar "large electronic device"), remove it from your carryon and run it through the scanner separately. Canada's TSA will make you do that anyway :-) 4. When clearing U.S. customs in Vancouver, have a traveling companion who can watch your luggage while you go through the process. A "convenient" kiosk setup is not convenient when you're trying to manage so much luggage and "ability" gear that you don't have a free hand to tinker with the machines, which can be stubborn if the pages on your passport are a little curled. Which reminds me... The "Handicapped" signs show a wheelchair, which is a universal symbol for mobility impaired. People with a cane, braces or a walker can also use the "Handicapped" line. Which may have made item #4 above a moot point for me. --------- Value for money? Tough call. We booked through a popular online booking engine that offered discounts only to MasterCard holders and was not cooperative in resolving problems. They would refer us to HAL to deal with an issue and HAL would insist that they could not help because we booked with a Travel Agent. The months leading up to the cruise were a hassle, mostly because of this "go ask your mom -- go ask your dad" challenge. It was worth the hassle in the end. But is it worth it economically? Here's a way to compare if you've never taken a cruise: A decent hotel was about $285 per night while we were in transit. Most included Tom Bodett's clean comfortable room with NO amenities. One included the free breakfast that's worth every penny. Add to that meals at around $50 per day while we were in transit -- just average chain restaurant meals not including breakfast. That puts us up to $2,345 if we did that for seven days. That's half what you'd typically pay for the Alaska cruise for two people plus the Pinnacle Grill and views of the Alaska wilderness you can't get any other way. I'd be reluctant to spend that much for the room we had. But if a human travel agent can monitor my booking and get us a good deal on a suite, it would be tempting. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Before my father passed away last year he told my sister and I to take a cruise after he was gone. My brother in law has been to every state in the USA except Alaska. We chose the land and sea Alaskan package through Holland America. ... Read More
Before my father passed away last year he told my sister and I to take a cruise after he was gone. My brother in law has been to every state in the USA except Alaska. We chose the land and sea Alaskan package through Holland America. Everything was very good through Holland America. They provided details about cruise excursions, as an example how long the excursion would be and what level of activity. The only thing we didn't know is on the land portion, there was a lot of walking, bus rides, going up and down steps. We didn't have problems with this, but someone older with limitations, it would be nice to know ahead of time. We arrived at Seward, AK by train. Holland America gave us our sea pass on the train, all we had to do was wait in line to go through security. They only had 1 lane opened, which took about 45 minutes to get through. Expect to wait in line for a while. We had a suite and it was a great size. We have traveled on Royal Caribbean and their junior suite was smaller than Holland America. We had a double sink, separate shower and bathtub/shower in the bathroom. We found accommodations on Holland America very nice. We had open seating for dining and we never had to wait to be seated. We did notice however, it was difficult to get cocktails in a timely manner, so we learned to bring one in with us to the dining room. As activities go, they were okay. With the open seating we were able to be at the earlier shows. Every excursion we went on was great, we did whale watching and saw several whales with their babies, we were able to go places on our own to find the history of Alaska and we went on the Crab fishing boat, which was the best. If you do any excursions this is the one that was worth the money. I don't want to spoil anything for anyone, but the crew had a personal touch and showed us more than how they crab fished. Just a side note, Holland America had a generator go down in their sports bar, so the ship had to get into Vancouver early to repair for their next cruise. We also felt that once you are going through the disembarkation process the crew were not very friendly, they left you an impression of "get your stuff and get off". We traveled with 4 adults and no children. We are scheduled to take another cruise in February on Holland America, because I won a free cruise playing Bingo onboard, so yes, because of the free cruise we are traveling on Holland America. Would I choose Holland America again if I didn't win the cruise, the answer is yes. Room was bigger, food was very good. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Firstly, my wife and i were first time cruisers. We wished to see Alaska as part of our vacation and had been recommended Holland America cruiseline. I contacted HAL prior to the start of the cruise and expected 5* experience. We were ... Read More
Firstly, my wife and i were first time cruisers. We wished to see Alaska as part of our vacation and had been recommended Holland America cruiseline. I contacted HAL prior to the start of the cruise and expected 5* experience. We were sorely let down. I'll break my review down into sections: Embarkation: - A shambles. We were shown to a large hall where we dropped our luggage. We were then given a ticket with a number and had to wait in a large seated area for over an hour before we were called. There was no refreshment or food facilities in the hall. Various excuses were given for the delay which didn't help while we sat around waiting. Rooms: We had a state room with a balcony which we were charged US 11.50 per person per day for services. The bathroom smelled of urine and when the cabin assistant came to greet us I advised him the bathroom was not clean. He cleaned the toilet area but the sink was unclean and I had to ask for that to be cleaned later. Not 5* as expected. After day 2 the room was kept clean, although this was not difficult as we are not untidy people. One big disappointment was no coffee / tea making facility in the room. All hotels I have previously stayed in had this facility as a basic service. I did, however, love the balcony as it was the one place away from the madding crowd that we could sit watching the world go by. The scenery was stunning. Meals: We ate mainly in the Lido restaurant, as the meals in the a la carte were really strange. I think the chefs were trying to think of concoctions that no one else had used and for us they just didn't work. The food in the Lido was ok but nothing more. I have stayed at 5* hotels in Mexico and the food on board ship was no where near Mexico standard. The service in the Lido was poor. Trying to spot a drinks waiter was as easy as spotting a whale (we didn't see any whales). We ate one night at the formal evening in the a la carte, as we had both brought clothes to dress formally. I could only eat two of the four courses. My main was steak with a couple of shrimp, a sliver of cooked spinach and four small roasted pineapple chunks. It tasted ok but whatever happened to steak with a nice sauce with potatoes and vegetables? This was the one night I felt the service was good as the waiters were literally falling over themselves to serve tables. Perhaps that's why there were no drinks waiters in the Lido. Drinks: There was a reasonable selection, but quite expensive. All drinks came with a 15% service charge. The service in the bars was good until the place got busy. During busy periods we experienced getting the wrong drinks and getting other peoples cards. Entertainment: This was pretty good. I enjoyed the Blues Band and the Casino (although again, you've guessed it, you suffered a service charge for buying chips to play the tables). Activities: I was disappointed with the activities. I expected something like volleyball, archery, soccer etc. but there were no activities like that. Most activities, other than the gym, seemed to be indoor and seated activities (cards etc). Also, the swimming pools are not accessible to customers with a disability. There were ladders in the 6ft end to climb out. My wife has a walking disability and could not use the ladders and therefore could not use the pool. HAL do not advertise that their swimming pools are not accessible. We spoke with the front desk about this and they were going to get back to us. We're still waiting. Front Desk: A major disappointment. We complained about no tea / coffee maker in the room. Front desk said we could order room service. This would not work, as my wife is an early riser and I like to lie in a bit longer. I did not wish wakened by room service. We therefore had to wait till the Lido restaurant opened at 7am. My wife complained about the non accessible swimming pools and we are still waiting on a response. We also visited front desk for information about the formal evening. We were advised that we could attend the event at the a la carte restaurants on floor 2 and 3. I asked if we needed to book and was advised we could just turn up at either restaurant when we wished or could book whatever suited. We decided not to reserve seating and turned up at the restaurant at level 3, which was a fair walk from the elevators only to be advised that level 3 dining was for reserved customers only. We were not too pleased as that contradicted front desk advice. Finally on the last night we received luggage tags which were not suitable for our situation. The tags were for luggage going to the airport and not independent travel on. I explained this to front desk and they asked if I had contacted my travel agent as if I didn't know what I was doing. Eventually I managed to convince front desk that I was not going to the airport and the assistant had to agree my change of disembarkation with her manager. The girl then suggested I still use the same tags and couldn't grasp the fact that if I did my cases would end up at the airport. After about 15 minutes and nearly at my wits end I managed to obtain luggage tags that suited our situation. Disembarkation: After our issues of the previous night it was a pleasant surprise that disembarkation went smoothly. Excursions: We did not book any through HAL. We had already booked Whale watching tour through out travel agent, which saved money. We also booked the Helicopter and Dog Sled Tour independently and saved around US 100. The independent trip was exactly the same as the ship excursion offered. In summary we were very disappointed with our cruise given the high expectations we had after contacting the HAL representatives. The cruise was not value for money the service charge extortionate for the level of service provided. We have certainly been put off cruising for the time being but may give another cruiseline a chance if it suited in future. I would not recommend HAL. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Went on the Noordam out of Vancouver. Chose Vancouver for a couple of reasons. Lots of flights from our hometown ( Edmonton) and I read that seeing Alaska was better than taking a ship from Seattle. Not sure if that is true, but that is ... Read More
Went on the Noordam out of Vancouver. Chose Vancouver for a couple of reasons. Lots of flights from our hometown ( Edmonton) and I read that seeing Alaska was better than taking a ship from Seattle. Not sure if that is true, but that is what happened. Dad has health issues so it was really great to take advantage of HALS cancel for any reason insurance. Good piece of mind. Embarkation was really good. We prearranged that my Dad would need wheelchair service. As a result, we motored through U.S. Customs and was on the ship within 20 minutes of getting to the dock. Food was very good. I enjoyed it. We ate dinner in the dining room except on formal nights, we ate dinner in the buffet restaurant. Only issue with the buffet was a lot of times, it was not serve yourself so line ups to have the wait staff serve up things. If you had to wait, that is fine but it caused crowds to form and difficult to get around. Booked Alaska excursions through the ship. Prices were very close to if we booked ourselves independently. Happy hour, 2 similar drinks for about $8 U.S. $6.95 for the first and then $1 for the second. Very good deal. Became very crowded in the crows nest once everybody knew. Entertainment was good. It was an older crowd but the entertainment was for a younger audience which is fine as I'm younger. BB King band were excellent. Not a lot to do during sea days though. I went to the fitness room every day. Functional but equipment has seen better days. Debarkation was a breeze. Pre-arranged wheelchair and was off quickly as a result. Hal is for a older clientele. I would not recommend for Familes especially those with teenagers. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
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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