33 Holland America Noordam First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

At our friends' urging for us to try cruising, and not wanting a daily docking, we went all out with this 25 day, 10 port cruise. It took two days to get the gist of the routine, but by day three, we were hooked. HAL definitely met ... Read More
At our friends' urging for us to try cruising, and not wanting a daily docking, we went all out with this 25 day, 10 port cruise. It took two days to get the gist of the routine, but by day three, we were hooked. HAL definitely met our expectations and pleasantly so. We knew the average age would be senior and often less mobile, but that was ok. This was our first retirement getaway and we were under no time pressure. The cabin was prefect #6047. Midway between the main decks of #3 (dining and entertainment) and #9 (cafe, spa/gym, sun decks and pools). Not only did we get into the routine of using the gym and spa everyday, but we rarely used the elevators (only 6x's I remember). Cabin was as per our expectations. Lots of storage, a nice balcony, and a very comfortable bed as were the pillows. The cabin stewards, Rudi & Lee, were excellent and accommodating. The TV screen was small (14"+/-) and could have been larger as the 4 movies shown each day were well selected. Not that you couldn't choose from a large selections from the CD catalogue (free!). This is not to say we watched a lot of TV, but for what we did watch, the TV could have been larger. Food offerings were very good. The Lido cafeteria has nearly everything you would want for breakfast lunch and dinner. The more formal (mostly Smart Casual and once weekly Formal) Vista dining room was very good for dinner. Portions were smartly presented and were small in size, but a simple request for a larger portion when ordering was always pleasantly accepted. And second helpings are not an issue. Basically I saw this as a way to keep food waste to a minimum. We didn't try either of the "specialty" restaurants. We couldn't justify the added surcharge. But I did hear from many others that they very much like those offerings. We did take advantage of room service breakfast nearly everyday. Very effective way of starting each day. Overall we were very happy with this first cruise. Entertainment was very entertaining, and different every night over 25 nights. A very professionally run theatre program. We took full advance of the health club facilities and paid the surcharge for use of the hydro-thermal pool, steam rooms and thermal-beds (Love these!!!). For the 25 day cruise, these were well worth the surcharge. The administration and execution of activities, events and embarkation/disembarkation at the start, end and each port was well organized. If we have any criticism of the cruise, it was the background music and the age of the musical entertainment offerings. Yes, the average age of the guests were closer to 70+/-, but even a 70yr old was listening and concerting to Rock and Roll in the 60's and 70's. I am sure some entertainment playing music from the early Rolling Stone's, the Beatle's, CSNY I am confident would have been appreciated. I am only 55, but if I am on a ship when I'm 70, they better be playing music from "the Lost 80's". Hope this helps the next passenger. Ahoy!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Just returned from a 7 day Alaskan inside passage cruise with Holland America on the m/s Noordam, sailing dates July 11th thru 18th. Our first cruise, 3 of us in one stateroom; my wife and I along with our 14 year old granddaughter. We ... Read More
Just returned from a 7 day Alaskan inside passage cruise with Holland America on the m/s Noordam, sailing dates July 11th thru 18th. Our first cruise, 3 of us in one stateroom; my wife and I along with our 14 year old granddaughter. We choose a center ship inside main deck room as to keep the cost lower and to reduce possible motion sickness. We believe this was a good choice as we spent little time in the room. After reading some reviews on Cruise Critic my expectations were somewhat toned-down. When you put nearly 2000 people together in a confined space for 7 days it is a social experiment with most wanting a different outcome than the other person. Most of our pre conceived expectations were met and we are pleased about that. Boarding aka embarkation went well it somewhat like a mouse running thru a maze as you must go complete customs and various check points before you are allowed to board the ship. If you have some type of handicap it seems you will be well taken care of. The process is not bad as everyone involved on shore wants to be helpful and have good attitude. As soon as you get on the ship everyone is there to help answer questions and get you settled. Our luggage was delivered to our room in a timely manner and food was being served at the Lido restaurant. I think if you deal with boarding with a positive attitude it should be a breeze. Weather will vary as it is rainy in the summer months on the Alaskan coast. We experienced some clouds and rain during out trip, bring at least a good poncho if you plan to go ashore, as luck would have we never had to unpack ours. The staff is amazing, always friendly and helpful. However they are not mind readers and if you want something you have to ask. For instance in the food serving line at the Lido you need to tell the server what you want and how much you want of a particular item. Yes there is some self-service but due to health concerns most hot food is served by the staff. I found most prepared beef, pork, chicken and fish over cooked and again I believe that is a hearth and safety issue. Two specialty restaurants on board that require payment for lunch or dinner we did not dine in either. The Dive In at the main pool has burgers, fries and dogs, plus a taco bar not bad for a snack. Oh, if you like ice cream, I think you are for a treat. Entertainment I guess depends on what you like but we found it pretty good. Holland America hires in acts such a comedians, bands, etc. to supplement their own regular entertainers which gives a mix of evening entertainment. Stuff to do during the cruise is abundant, each evening a program is delivered to your room that lists all the activities for the next day, extra copies can be obtained from your cabin steward or at the main deck front desk. Do not forget to bring binoculars; we forgot; a much to see from the ship and land tours. The ship provides Alaska history and wildlife programs which we found interesting. We did an excursion at each of the 3 ports we stopped at and were pleased with all 3. We pre-booked all 3 and used trip advisor to do our research on the excursion providers. One of my annoyances is extra money must be paid for soda pop and beer; I guess I am spoiled by all-inclusive resorts. A shout to Chris show host and Gusty cabin steward. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
This Holland America line Alaska cruise on the Noordham was sold to us as an add-on to the Rocky Mountaineer experience. Our cabin was an upgrade from the standard cabin Rocky Mountaineer usually books as an add-on. It was spacious with a ... Read More
This Holland America line Alaska cruise on the Noordham was sold to us as an add-on to the Rocky Mountaineer experience. Our cabin was an upgrade from the standard cabin Rocky Mountaineer usually books as an add-on. It was spacious with a large bed, the washroom had a separate bath and shower and the outside verandah had a table and chairs. Now for the bad news. During our conversations with Rocky Mountaineer and Holland America, no one ever mentioned that smoking was allowed on board the ship. After we booked our trip and paid, an information package was made available after we checked in online. This information package directs the reader to find another document which describes the Holland America smoking policy. My wife and I are non smokers. The smoking areas on the ship are restricted to the casino area, the rear top deck outside lounge and the outside verandahs of the cabins. We expected to be able to sit on our verandah and enjoy the scenery and fresh sea air. Instead smoke from the neighbouring verandah constantly drifted over and made our verandah unusable. We asked the ship's front office for a change of cabin and we were offered another one, but the staff would not ask the occupants of the neighbouring cabins if they were smokers. There was no guarantee that the new cabin would not have smoking neighbours so we declined to change cabins as our existing one was quiet and comfortable. Another item not mentioned by anyone is the US $12.00 per person daily hotel service charge automatically added on to your bill so the price quoted for your cruise is not what it will actually cost you. We have no problem tipping for extraordinary service but a gratuity added automatically for just doing your job is not acceptable. Meal service was sometimes a hit, at other times it was a miss. For meals we had open seating in the restaurant. The food quality was excellent though at times some dishes were too salty. The menu descriptions of the meals were often lacking in detail and surprise items and sauces would be present when the food appeared. Deserts though were excellent. On some occasions the wait staff had been shuffled around and the service left much to be desired. Food would take forever to appear. It took about up to two hours to have breakfast, lunch or dinner served!! We ordered in cabin breakfast a number of times. The food was delivered at the time requested. Quality was reasonable except for the last day when it was obvious that the watermelon pieces in the cut fruit bowl had been sitting around for quite some time. A daily list of activities is distributed each day. On the surface it appears that there is much to do on board, but upon closer look many of these activities and presentations are nothing more than attempts to sell something. Similarly, a number channels on the shipboard TV broadcast system are just Holland America "shopping channels". The cruise called at three ports. In each of those ports the weather was not the best and in advance we had decided not to take any organized sight seeing tours or flights. The highlight of the cruise was the slow sail past of the glacier. We could not, however, enjoy it from the comfort of our verandah because of the smoke from the neighbouring verandah. On the last day of the cruise the weather was warm and sunny. After lunch we decided to get some exercise and walk around the ship. While walking along the top deck cabins hallway we noticed the smell of fresh paint. When we got outside we saw numerous wet paint signs. Someone had decided to start repainting the ship during the cruise - not a good move, especially for those who had top deck cabins and are sensitive to paint solvents. To summarize, there were a number of tolerable annoyances during the cruise but thanks to the lack of disclosure of on board smoking and the daily service charge, this was our first and last Holland America cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
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
First time cruisers, will definitely cruise again, though probably not with Holland America. We chose Alaska because if we did not like cruising the scenery and shore excursions would more than compensate. We arrived at Vancouver ... Read More
First time cruisers, will definitely cruise again, though probably not with Holland America. We chose Alaska because if we did not like cruising the scenery and shore excursions would more than compensate. We arrived at Vancouver International Airport, where we were to be met and transported to our Vancouver Hotel (Pan Pacific Canada Place, Excellent hotel, brilliant location) by HAL's local agent. Sadly no one to meet us however, HAL had provided us with a telephone number for their agent. Called the number and were informed someone would be sent straight away to meet us, after 45 minutes recalled agent only to be connected to an answer phone, called again 30 minutes later again only an answerphone. Decided to get a taxi $37.00 very quick and good value. Embarkation at Vancouver onto the Noordam was both quick and efficient. We had an outside cabin which was roomy, clean, lots of storage with a well equipped bathroom. The balcony was a good size and provided excellent views. The two stewards appointed to our cabin provided us with superb service as did in all the rest of the crew with whom we came into contact. The Noordam appeared to us to be well equipped and maintained. We ate in all four of the restaurants: the Lido(self service) large variety of cuisines through breakfast, lunch & dinner. The Vista (split level formal dining room) a more limited menu though the food was well presented and excellently cooked. The Pinnacle Grill, Noordam's signature restaurant was top class and well worth the additional charge. The Canaletto the Italian themed restaurant was like a fish out of water and just did not work. The menu was limited and the cooking was the poorest we encountered on the ship. I understand on HAL's newest ships the Caneletto has been dropped for an Asian themed restaurant. The two pools one covered one outdoor were well equipped with supporting hot tubs, the weather, more Californian than Alaskan, probably accounted for more use than normal. The Gym was well equipped offering superb views ahead. There were a good number of bars, some quiet, others offering entertainment from classical to soul. The acts in the Vista lounge theatre were excellent in particular the two comedians. However, the stand out class act on our cruise was provided by the scenery. From our departure from Vancouver to the inside passage, through to Glacier bay and back to Vancouver, it was breath-taking. We undertook two shore excursions, the first in Juneau was a whale watching boat trip followed by a rainforest trail which ended at the Mendenhall Glacier, the guides on this trip were of the highest standard. We saw Whales, Otters Sea Lions and Eagles galore on this trip. Our second excursion was on the Whitehorse Pass, again simply stunning, though again, the weather was gorgeous, allowing clear views all-round. My only fault echoed by other passengers on board was that we steamed past Tracy Arm whilst watching a Princess boat leaving and a Celebrity boat entering this world renowned Fjord. When I enquired at the front office I was informed HAL only stopped at Tracy Arm if passengers had booked a shore excursion. On all my correspondence with HAL and on my itineraries it was made clear we would be visiting Tracy Arm and was one of my reasons for booking with HAL, very unsatisfactory. As a first time cruiser do cruise lines frequently deviate from their itineraries or do they miss out Venice, Barbados etc??? Regrettably, HAL have missed their opportunity to make me a repeat cruiser with them, though I will look at both Princess and Celebrity. A pity but missing Tracy Arm was a gain changer for me. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
My husband and I did this first cruise together and on HA. We stayed at the Best Western/Cruise Location in Fort Lauderdale the night before, it was super. They had a shuttle to the ship and got us there by 10:30 AM, great staff at ... Read More
My husband and I did this first cruise together and on HA. We stayed at the Best Western/Cruise Location in Fort Lauderdale the night before, it was super. They had a shuttle to the ship and got us there by 10:30 AM, great staff at the hotel, good location for a pub nearby for dinner and a supermarket to get our 2 bottles of wine for our cabin. You are entitled to take 2 onboard for no charge. Our room itself was fine, everything worked well. The TV was fine, we aren't on a cruise to watch TV. Temperature was good. The staff were beyond excellent. Room was kept in great condition, was so sad to get home and have to make my own bed!! Bed was comfy, no problem in getting extra blankets, loved the bathrobes. Lots of storage, and luggage fit under the bed no problem. No complaints at all. Loved the size of the ship, can't imagine going on one of those monster ships. 1900 folks is just right. Interesting decor.....very 1980s brass and light wood????? But fine. Loved the NY times being free, checked it fairly often in the cafe. Too many pieces of paper in your mailbox....the art gallery was handing out papers every day it seemed. Mark the cruise director was very good, personable and got the job done. Temperature in the common areas was fine, not cold at all. Appreciated in the Captain keeping us informed of delays and changes, he was super. We enjoyed the evening entertainment, went to most of it. Very good singers and dancers. Good variety of shows, sometimes a hit, sometimes a miss. But lots to do in the evening. We had a 6PM sitting for dining in the Vista room. Our staff there was super. Meals were all very good. Ate there most nights. Liked the formal nights, and we made the effort to 'look good' on the other nights. The Lido was good, breakfast was yummy. Always a variety of food, didn't see anyone going hungry! A few negatives......our cabin was directly below the aft pool/smoking area. Could hear chairs being dragged across the deck. There should be a warning when you book that you are directly below the bar. One night they moved what we think were stacks of chairs at 3 in the morning, we asked at the front desk for them to check on that. It never happened again. They were very nice and even offered to move us. Smoking.....time to make the WHOLE ship non-smoking, it's 2015 folks, stop!! Spent a good deal of time in the aft pool area, and the 'saving' of lounge chairs should be stopped. You aren't there for 30 minutes, and you lose it. People dump their stuff in the AM and don't show up for hours. Port Everglades was super, getting on board no problem. All ports were fine in arriving. In San Diego we were in the customs line for about 15 minutes, went very quick. US customs were great. Used the fitness club for yoga, which I enjoyed. In Cartagena we did our own tour, loved it. Claudia's tours it was. In the HA shore excursions we were often rushed. Antiqua was way too short, In Costa Rica, San Jose we were taken to a souvenir shop right off the ship, and stayed there for a whole hour of our 4 hour tour, BAD move on their part. In Nicaragua going to Leon, again, not enough time. Don't understand, you are in a port for so many hours, but the HA shore excursions are brief, when they could be extended/give you more time. And please stop ALL mandatory visits to stores for shopping. I am not in Leon, once in my life to go shopping!!! Since this was our first cruise we weren't sure how it all worked. Now we would never book a HA shore excursion again, each port had numerous people waiting to take you out. Others did this and we heard of no problems. San Diego, Huatulco, Cabo we did our own thing and had a great time. Really enjoyed the Panama day, with all to see and the information presented. Getting off in Vancouver was super easy as we filled out the customs forms early and Border Services checked them early. A great time, we were with 2 other couples and we all had a good time. Our cabins were side by side and we were able to have the barriers removed to have one big balcony. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
My wife & I returned a few weeks ago from an excellent 11 night cruise on the Noordam. Normally I wouldn't submit reviews, but after reading a few of the other Noordam reviews on Cruise Critic I feel I have to add my opinion as I ... Read More
My wife & I returned a few weeks ago from an excellent 11 night cruise on the Noordam. Normally I wouldn't submit reviews, but after reading a few of the other Noordam reviews on Cruise Critic I feel I have to add my opinion as I cannot believe that some of the recent reviews are genuine. We have no other ship to compare the Noordam against being first-timers, but we were blown away by practically everything we experienced on the cruise. The crew - everybody we dealt with were very pleasant and couldn't do enough to make our trip enjoyable. This includes the cabin attendants(?), our waiter(s) for our fixed seating in the MDR, and also the various bar staff many who became good friends by the end of the second day. A recent reviewer complained about the 'compulsory' tip that is added to your bill saying that they weren't aware that this would be charged, I find this hard to believe as it is made very clear on the Holland America website and also on my documentation. Also made clear is the option to remove/reduce this element from your invoice right up until the last night - so what's the problem. The food - we found the food to be prompt (mostly), hot and varied. All the menus had many options and most had something to tempt us. There were always fantastic steaks to fall back on if nothing took our fancy and the cold soups were also gorgeous - I would happily accept any of the meals offered in a formal restaurant. On one occasion we had to wait a long time for our main meal - apparently our order had been mislaid, after a little gentle arm twisting we were given a nice bottle of wine to compensate. Breakfasts were also excellent whether taken in the room, the MDR or the Lido. Tea was free in the Lido and both PG Tips & Typhoo were freely available, the free fruit juice was very refreshing and I must have drunk gallons. The Hotdogs and Burgers on the Lido deck were the best I have tasted with an excellent ordering system. We also tried other options for our meals including the less formal Lido and again found everyone to be both friendly and helpful. The only queue I can remember was for the freshly made omelettes in the Lido at breakfast time. The ship - we didn't think that the ship was in any way 'tired' and were impressed with the obsessive cleaning and polishing that we witnessed every day. We understand that there may be newer and more glitzy ships available from other cruise lines but we felt that the blend of traditional and modern that the Noordam offers to be perfect. We also found the size of the ship offered plenty of variety without becoming too impersonal. The various pools, bars and decks were all in fantastic condition, clean and always very comfortable. A special mention for the theater which was incredible. The entertainment - from reading other cruise line reviews I can see that some cruise lines place a greater emphasis (budget) on the on-board entertainment than HAL. However, we went to most of the shows and found them all to be very professional and entertaining - particularly 'Droom' which was well up to the standard of a London Musical. The live entertainment in the various bars were all very enjoyable and relaxing - Michael the piano player played to a packed bar every night and was great fun. A special mention must go to the band that played in BB Kings - they were incredible. I sat in on some of the instructional lectures (Windows and Digital Photography) which were very good and informative. I also loved public rooms like the extensive Library and Explorations (Internet) Cafe. The artwork scattered around the ship added to the overall classiness of the ship. The itinerary - this was the main reason we picked this cruise. Everywhere we went was brilliant and we had no problems, delays or changes. We started in Venice (spent 2 days there before the cruise), and went on to Katakolon (Olympia), Nafplion (Mycenae), Piraeus (Athens), Mykonos, Kusadasi (Ephasus), Rhodes, Santorini, Naples (Pompeii) and ended in Civitavecchia (Rome - where we stayed 2 days after the cruise). All the ancient locations were incredibly interesting and Mykonos & Santorini were especially beautiful. We also had 2 welcome sea days where we could relax and look around the ship. We booked a few formal excursions off the net before we left home and these were all fine - on the other shore days we made our own way around and never felt lost, threatened or that we would miss the sail-away. As may have guessed we absolutely loved our 12 days on the Noordam and would recommend HAL & Noordam to everyone. However, I would recommend that cruisers check out sites like Cruise Critic for reviews - but remember that there will always be some people who didn't have a good experience and they are more likely to write a (negative) review. I also realise that some cruisers may prefer a livelier atmosphere and opt for a different cruise line. We did a lot of research (the cruise line, the ships & itinerary) before choosing our cruise and felt that HAL would be a good match. The only surprise was that the whole experience was even better than expected.We also felt that the average cruiser 'age' was lower than expected. The only (expected) disappointments were the cost of the HAL organised excursions and the hopeless/expensive on-board Internet service. We didn't use HAL for excursions due to the cost - but we were told that they were great. However, nobody had a good word to say about the poor WiFi so I chose to relay upon using free Internet Cafes when we docked to keep in touch. The ship, the crew, the itinerary, the food and also the good friends we made, all helped make this our best holiday ever. We will cruise again with HAL. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We picked this cruise especially for the ports of call. First time on Holland America. We were delighted to find the passengers mainly mature adults and that the staff welcomed family groups, many celebrating special reunions or other ... Read More
We picked this cruise especially for the ports of call. First time on Holland America. We were delighted to find the passengers mainly mature adults and that the staff welcomed family groups, many celebrating special reunions or other occasions. The staff was very kind and helpful to elderly passengers, many in wheelchairs or using walkers. However we found our cabin suite older and not as well appointed as the lower cabins, with no windows. The bathroom shower needed regrouting and did not look like it had been cleaned very well. Our cabin had a/c issues for most of the cruise and we were visited several times by crew taking measurements or doing repairs on the system. We slept with the balcony door open 2 nights as a result (blocked open with sturdy waste basket). When a taxi strike occurred at the disembarkment port, the staff had no information or any interest in assistance unless you booked airport transfer with them. Front desk personal very uninterested in providing any assistance. Warning for those expecting internet/wifi - not consistent and slow enough to be useless. Also want to warn passengers to check your bill as there were many issues with ours. Fortunately, they got settled by cruise end. The excursions are very expensive but many were well done; informative and hitting all the high spots of each port city. However, we had to walk quite a way to get to excursion buses either at port or for the return. Food onboard was adequate. The specialty restaurants were worth extra cost. I could not believe the size of glassware in the buffet section or at the bars and that you had to pay for soda, but iced tea and juices were included. I would recommend this cruise for my 55+ friends warning them to have low expectations about cabin and food. Would advise to book suite for upgrades and to research and plan your own excursions. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
My wife and I decided to celebrate our 25th anniversary on the Noordam last month. We had looked at the Holland America website and joined up with the HAL community forum, but were still not prepared for the high standard of service and ... Read More
My wife and I decided to celebrate our 25th anniversary on the Noordam last month. We had looked at the Holland America website and joined up with the HAL community forum, but were still not prepared for the high standard of service and luxury we were exposed to on the ship. Our stateroom was large enough despite being a standard one and the portholw was larger than we expected providing a good view whenever we needed one - not often as we hardly spent any time in our stateroom. The organisation of the excursions, onboard activities and shows was outstanding and we were made to feel like royalty. We did not use the gym or the spa and we didn't spend much time watching the many shows that were available - we were exhausted from the excursions, but those we did see were very well done and the variety was good. The few negatives: Lack of friendliness of a few of the older dining staff (in the minority) & the prices of the sodas and alcoholic drinks and of most of the goods for sale in the Signature shops which were over the top. Also, because the beverage staff earn 15% on each drink they sell, they only showed interest if you ordered sodas or alcohol regularly and ignored you if they got to know that you only ordered water on the pool decks.Nafplion and Antalya were added due to our not being able to get to Israel due to the Syrian crisis. Nafplion was really a stunning town and the Palamidi castle above it was well worth the 971 steps! We also visited ancient Corinth and the Corinth canal from there as part of an official excursion arranged by Holland America at the last minute. It was extremely enjoyable. Antalya is intersting, but we did not have enough time to explore what it offers. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
From the steward who offered us a blanket while we were lounging in a deck chair to the Lido deck outside rear deck staff who treated us like royalty despite no gratuity earned on tea, coffee and water, we were spoiled from start to ... Read More
From the steward who offered us a blanket while we were lounging in a deck chair to the Lido deck outside rear deck staff who treated us like royalty despite no gratuity earned on tea, coffee and water, we were spoiled from start to finish. Efficient boarding and disembarking, perfect service in our room with fruit and ice fresh every day.The cleaning was excellent and the kitchens and service areas were spotless which gave us great comfort and we had a very healthy ship. Can't say enough about the Lido and dining room crew. Amazing folks. Special shout out to Ryan, JJ, Oscar and Ramil. We fell in love with the staff and the activities were varied and interesting. My only criticism of the activities is the extreme simplicity of the cooking demos. I would have paid a fee for some advanced hands on classes but ok anyways because even the simpler things were good and we can all use a few of those.Throughout the cruise we met great folks who, despite the billing of Holland America age ranges as older, cross cut all ages even though overall there was a tendency to an older crowd. Great sea days to totally relax and kick off all of the stress. Sorry we missed the Azores but really glad the Captain was more attuned to our safety that passenger complaints. Love this ship, I want to adopt a few of the staff. Kudos to the staff as they are the Holland America reputation. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Our first cruise took some careful planning using the internet ( no thanks to Imagine Cruising who were hopeless ) we siled from Port Everglade in Fort Lauderdale on the Noordam. Boarding was easy and luggage arrived at our cabin very ... Read More
Our first cruise took some careful planning using the internet ( no thanks to Imagine Cruising who were hopeless ) we siled from Port Everglade in Fort Lauderdale on the Noordam. Boarding was easy and luggage arrived at our cabin very quickly. Our cabin stewards Heru 1 and Heru 2 were truely excellent . Cabin 6171 had reasonable amount of space but shower only no bath . It was comfortable with a nice balcony to sit out on and enjoy a glass of vino. Food & sevice in the pinacle grill is splendid, staff including the guys from Turkey are first class. We ate here 4 nights and enjoyed the menu selections. Vista Dining room any time dining saw us eat at table for two, or with a group on some evenings , again good service and very polite staff .Lido we ate in this resturant mainly light breakfast and light lunch, excellent selection of food, clean , good service. Pools of the two we preffered the aft pool, also the jacussi . Live music at times and bar service was really on the ball especially Boosy and Len . These guys also worked in the Ocean bar in the venings and are a credit to HAL as they were great. Lots of shore trips, by golf cart, taxis and bus also a submarine trip which was a blast , you really should try this. Weather perfect and you get to meet a lot of very nice people . We can recomend the Noordam, as its first priority is to look after the passengers, from Captain Scott and throughout the crew who make this ship function brilliantly. We now plan a longer cruise next year perhaps Far East/Australia with HAL. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
First i must say we have never cruised before and didn't really know what to expect. We choose the cruise primarily for the itinerary and style/size of ship. The pick-up at the airport was a little disorganised in that the ... Read More
First i must say we have never cruised before and didn't really know what to expect. We choose the cruise primarily for the itinerary and style/size of ship. The pick-up at the airport was a little disorganised in that the representatives walked very fast losing people along the way with no instructions given for where to pick-up the coach. The luggage was gathered together and left unattended in the terminal - worrying. However when we boarded the ship there were no delays and we were made to feel welcome - although a welcome drink would have been nice. The overall impression of the ship (approx. 2000 passengers)was stylishly classic and our cabin was fine with a good sized balcony. The food and drink - another priority for us - was generally very good with far too much available and there was lots of choice. The main Vista restaurant served very good four course meals in a semi-formal setting; we had opted for anytime dining which meant pot-luck with size of table and we met lots of nice new people. The Lido - the only other restaurant with no cover charge - was an informal buffet, again with lots of choice. The crew were generally friendly and helpful and cabin stewards were very good. Some of the waiters/servers were obviously lacking training and were not up to hospitality standards and a few in the Lido were very off-hand. We did not bother with any excursions- we prefer to do our own thing and the excursion prices were extortionate.The ship provided extremely good info/maps about each port.The drinks were not too expensive and we were allowed to bring wine on-board to consume in the cabin. The Pool areas were good with plenty of loungers available and all the bars were very attractive and relaxing. We only managed to get to one show as the times always seemed to clash with evening meal times for us - the 'Los Vegas' show was good if a little dated. So overall we enjoyed our cruise very much with a few minor irritations. If and when we cruise again we will definitely try a different cruise line - probably an all inclusive as the tips, drinks and service charges soon add up. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
My wife and I were looking for a wonderful honeymoon experience and we definitely found that on the MS Noordam Roman Empire Cruise. This was the first time cruising for both of us and after only being home a few days we are looking to ... Read More
My wife and I were looking for a wonderful honeymoon experience and we definitely found that on the MS Noordam Roman Empire Cruise. This was the first time cruising for both of us and after only being home a few days we are looking to book our next cruise already. Our trip began with a little hiccup. Our flight into Rome was cancelled due to mechanical failures. This caused us to miss the embarkation of the ship from Civitavecchia. (In case this should happen to anyone reading this, be aware that there is a number posted on Holland America's website but not on the ticket that is available 24/7 for anyone who realizes that they will miss the boat.) After speaking with the people at Holland America they told us to ask the airline to route us to the first stop in Dubrovnik and they would make sure to get us on the boat. Dubrovnik: We arrived in Dubrovnik a day before for the boat and spent the day sightseeing. The main draw in Dubrovnik is the old town. This area is a charming little city build of stone and surrounded by hills on one side and water on the other. We wandered through the town and found our way to a beautiful little cafe overlooking the water where we stopped for drinks. If you see the sign that says "Cold Drinks with the Most Beautiful View", you know you've found the right place, and they are just as advertised. We then took a walk along the wall of the city. There is an entry price of 70 kuna pp, which is about $12 each. The views from the wall were spectacular but be advised that there are a lot of stairs and on a hot day it can be a little taxing. Once you reach the top its a one way route and the next set of stairs back down are a 20-30 minute walk. There are a few stops along the way to get a drink if you need it. After touring the wall, we decided it was time for dinner. There are many restaurants in the alleys off of the main road through town and we stopped at one of them to eat. After dinner we went back to our hotel in eager anticipation of getting on the ship the next day. MS Noordam: The next morning we woke up and took a taxi to the port. The taxi drove us right up the to boat and we told the Holland America personnel who we were and they were expecting us. Fighting out way up the gangway against the rest of our fellow cruisers who were disembarking to spend a day in Croatia, we finally arrived on the ship. One of the front desk staff quickly arranged for our bags to be sent to our room and brought us to the front desk for check in. After only a few minutes we were all set to go and on our way up to our room. Our room was an SS category cabin which is considered a suite. It was very spacious and welcoming and we loved our wonderful balcony. The balcony had enough space for a table with two chairs and an additional two sitting chairs with ottomans. Inside there is a full couch, a table for getting ready, a writing table looking out the window and a very comfortable bed. The bathroom had two sinks with a whirlpool tub and a separate shower. As a wedding present we also received the suite amenities package which afforded us three pillows each, two bottles of wine, two bottles of liquor, unlimited laundry, two bathrobes to keep, two $50 drink cards and a few other perks. On top of all of this, the captain was kind enough to send us two bottles of champagne, one for our honeymoon and one for our troubles catching the boat. We also had an invitation to a private cocktail hour for special guests because we had missed the event with the captain the night before. After 30 minutes on the boat we both became big fans of cruising. We decided to spend the day wandering the boat because we had already seen Dubrovnik. Spa: We first went to the Spa to book a couples massage and get a pass to the Hydropool and Thermal Suite. Let me say that the Hydropool/Thermal Suite package was one of the best parts of our cruise. My wife and I went everyday if not multiple times per day. Especially on hot days in port, there is nothing better than coming back on the boat and going to the spa for instant relaxation. Be advised that the price was $350 for the two of us for a 10 day cruise when booking ahead of time, but only $199 once we were on the boat. The couples massage was my first massage experience ever and I really enjoyed it. Just be aware that at the end of your treatment in the Spa they try to sell you the oils/creams that they use. I would have preferred if they hadn't done that but it didn't ruin the experience. Lido Restaurant: The restaurant is very big and there are a lot of options so I usually took about 3-4 minutes when I arrived window shopping for lunch. There is a menu to look at when you first come in but I preferred to see what everything looked like. The food is the Lido is not nearly as good as the food at dinner but it is still good. I have seen a lot of complaints on Cruise Critic about waiting in line at the Lido but I did not find the lines to be long at all. The only thing I did not like about the Lido is that at really busy times it was hard to find a table by the window. There were a few times that my wife and I took food from the Lido back to our cabin so we could have a better view. (Vista) Main Dining Room: We chose to have an early fixed seating assignment. It seemed that most of the other passengers wanted to eat at 8pm but we very much enjoyed eating early. Before dinner every night we would halfway around the promenade deck on the way to the dining room and on they way back to our cabin we would complete the circuit. It was a nice routine and the light at that time of day was spectacular. Our waitstaff in the main dining room was wonderful. We had two servers as well as a wine steward who were the same every night and they tended to our every need. On top of that our wine steward Antonio would come by and perform a magic trick every night at our table. On the last night all of the waitstaff congregated around our table to wish us a happy honeymoon complete with a special dessert and song. As far as drinks in the main dining room, if you order a bottle of wine and don't finish it they will keep if for you and serve it the next night. Also any wine that you have purchased from Holland America can be brought to the dining room for dinner and consumed at no additional fee. Pinnacle Grill: We ate at the Pinnacle Grill two nights on our cruise. The fee for the Pinnacle Grill is $25pp but well worth it even if you can only go once. The waitstaff in the Pinnacle Grill are very polished and attentive. They make sure every moment of your dinner is an excellent experience and believe me it was. My wife enjoyed the tomato with balsamic vinaigrette appetizer so much she was almost brought to tears. She also was planning on ordering the lobster mac and cheese for dinner but the waiter Arya suggested she order something less heavy and to order the lobster mac and cheese as a side and it was perfect. She ended up with lobster mac and cheese and filet mignon. The main dining room is wonderful but if you have the chance I would check out the Pinnacle Grill at least one night if possible. Entertainment: I agree with many others that the only thing about cruising on Holland America that didn't wow me was the entertainment. I thought it was just okay. My wife had a more favorable opinion of it, but I think it pales in comparison to the quality of everything else on the ship. We went to abour 3 or 4 shows. My favorite show was actually the Filipino Crew Show. There are about 8-10 members of the crew who perform traditional Filipino songs and dances and it was very good. There was one night with a man who performed impersonations of famous singers and told jokes. He was pretty good. The last night the singers and dancers performed but the real show was about the pyrotechnics and the spinning hydraulic stage. Explorers Lounge: Although I didn't spend too much time in the lounge I loved the atmosphere. There are computers for browsing the web, a huge library collection, daily sudoku and trivia, a puzzle that is left out to be worked on by anyone who is interested, a cafe and lots of comfy chairs. It was a really cool space and if there had been more sea days I definitely would have spent more time there. Queens Lounge/Culinary Center: This was a fun multipurpose space and we attended many activites here. On the night in Santorini we watched Mama Mia when they had it set up as a theater. We attended two cooking demonstrations when they had it set up as a kitchen. The captain gave a talk one morning about being in charge of such a huge vessel which i found fascinating. However, my favorite event that took place here was the Marriage Game. It is basically the Newlywed Game using passengers as contestants. I would not have enjoyed it as much if I were participating (which almost happened) but it was a riot to watch. Bars/Lounges: We did not visit all of the bars and lounges, but for a pre dinner drink I would suggest the Crow's Nest. There is a beautiful view and there is a happy hour from 5-6 so if you have early seating you can grab a drink and watch the boat pull away from port and then head down to dinner. The other place we went was the Piano Bar for a game of name that tune. I wish we had had time to make it to the piano bar at night and get a better feel for the atmosphere. One night we walked through the Northern Lights and there were about a dozen teenagers and no one else so we left and didn't go back. Other observations about the ship: The crew on the Noordam was unbelievable. I can not express how attentive they are and how quickly they attempt to resolve any issues. There is a standard tipping fee that each person pays over the course of the cruise, but my wife and I were sure to add to that because of the amazing service. I could go on and on but there is a lot more to get to. Back to ports of call. Corfu: In Corfu you can buy a ticket for a Holland America shuttle that will take you to the front of the Old Fort. It was inexpensive so we used the shuttle to get into town. We arrived at the old fort and first went to the cafe. If you need to find a wifi access point this is a great place to get a drink and check your e-mail. We then made our way up the hill to the lighthouse. It is a hike but if you take your time its not too bad. Watch your step on the way back down. The steps are very smooth and slippery. After taking in the breathtaking view we went back down to the bottom and strolled around the small park in front of the fort. There is a palace at one end that has art exhibits. There was a Japanese Art exhibit when we were there and we decided not to go. We made our way into town and strolled the streets. My wife did some shopping and we tasted the kumquat liquor which is a Corfu specialty. It was very, very good. At about 1pm we made our way back to the shuttle bus and onto the ship. Katakolon: Katakolon is billed as the gateway to Olympia. Olympia however is a 40 minute ride in and a 40 minute ride out and we did not have much interest in seeing it so we decided to stay close to the port. We disembarked around 11am and walked down the main street. My wife did some shopping and then we looked at a few of the fishing boats. There was a museum at the end of the street we didn't make it to, and a number of restaurants right on the water if you were to opt to have lunch off the boat. We decided to save some money and eat at the Lido. Santorini: Santorini is the reason we chose this itinerary in the first place. My wife asked if we could go there on our honeymoon. It did not disappoint. Santorini is the one port we had to tender into the port. Holland America set up a process for dealing with all the people lining up to tender but we had breakfast on our balcony and by the time we were done there was no line so they said we could just head right down. We were fortunate to be the only ship in town that day so there were no lines for the funicular. The other option is to take the donkey's up the hill but I am afraid of heights so I wanted the journey to be as quick as possible. Once in town we made our way to the bus station. There is a map of the town of Fira in the Explorer guide Holland America leaves on your bed every night. The map will show the way to the bus station. We spent 1.60euro each for a 20 minute bus ride to Oia the town that is in all the pictures. I would suggest taking the bus to anyone visiting Santorini. It is quick, cheap and seems to go most places on the island that anyone would want to go to. Upon arriving in Oia we walked through the quaint streets and took in the views. I took many pictures of the blue roofed churches. After exploring for a while we decided to have lunch. If you get the chance, check out Pelekanos. It is a restaurant at the highest point in Oia and has an almost 360 degree view. The food and the music were also amazing. We stayed up there for almost 2 hours having lunch and we didn't want to leave. Finally we made our way back down to the bus stop and took the bus back to Fira. We thought of going to the beaches but neither of us had our bathing suit so we took the funicular back down and tendered back to the ship. Although we didn't do much it was an amazing day, and the first day I preferred the port to relaxing on the ship. Kusadasi (Ephesus): We booked a tour of Ephesus through Ephesus Deluxe. It was a half day tour that included The Virgin Mary House, Ephesus and the Terrace Houses. We had a driver who drove us from stop to stop, and a tour guide who would accompany us into the sites. Our first stop was the Virgin Mary House. We paid a little extra for this but were disappointed so I would have left this off the itinerary in hindsight. The next stop was Ephesus which was unbelievable. The ruins were so extensive that you could really get the feel for what the city would have been like 2000 years ago. The terrance houses were the homes of the rich citizens of Ephesus and I thought this was a must see. The tile work and frescos were still in impeccable shape. At the end of the tour of Ephesus we went to the Greek Theater which was big enough to hold 24,000 people. We then went to lunch which was included with the price of the tour. We enjoyed it immensely. After this I was a little disappointed in the tour. After lunch we were taken to a carpet dealer, a ceramics dealer, and nearly went to a leather dealer but we refused. At each stop we were shown how the product was made and it was really fascinating, but then there was a push to buy products from each dealer. We did go home with a carpet and a few ceramics that we were happy to buy, but I don't like when I feel pressured to buy a product. My wife did point out that it was good to see things that were part of Turkish culture. Ephesus is not Turkish but Roman, whereas the carpets and ceramics are authentically Turkish. Athens: Athens may not have been my favorite stop, but it was certainly my favorite tour. We booked a tour through privategreecetours.com. It was the half day Athens tour. If you are going to book an independent tour at any port, make this the one. We were greeted at the port by Sakus, who was is native to Greece. He clearly had a love and passion for the country and was a wealth of knowledge. He is considered a driver guide which means he cannot get out of the car and bring you into each site, but before you arrive he preps you with all the information you will need to enjoy your experience and understand the history of what you are observing. The tour begins at the Acropolis. It is important to get there early to avoid the lines and the heat. We then continued to the Temple of Zeus, another hill that is higher than the Acropolis with a breathtaking view of the city, the Roman market, the Greek market, and then more modern sites such as the Palace and the tomb of the unknown soldier. Not only was it great to learn about ancient greece but because it was a private tour we were able to talk to Sakus about his views on modern Greece which were plentiful and interesting. I must say again that if you are going to book a tour in Athens make it this one. It was the best tour of our trip and also the least expensive. Messina: Our stop in Messina was brief. We disembarked at 10:30 and made our way to the church in the main square. It was beautiful but we only stayed a few minutes because there was a service about to begin. We then made our way to one of the few internet cafes that were open. It was a holiday in Italy so practically everything was closed. We checked e-mail for a bit and then walked to the city center for the clock show. This is the main draw in Messina. At noon the clock has larger than life figures that move while Ave Maria plays. The minute the show is over everyone from the ship runs back to the dock. That was about it for Messina. The highlight of the day was actually later when we cruised past the active volcano named Stromboli. This was an impressive sight to see. We watched from our balcony but if you don't have a balcony or are on the wrong side of the ship, I would suggest watching from the Crows Nest. Disembarkation: I wish we didn't have to get off the boat but I guess all good things must come to an end. Disembarkation was quick and efficient and we were off the boat and had bags in hand in no time. I must admit that the train station in Civitavecchia was a little confusing. I bought a ticket near the port but it didn't look like the tickets everyone else had and it only cost 5euro. I am not sure if that was a valid ticket or not but I couldn't get any information in the station and no one checked my ticket on the train so we make it to Rome okay. The train is hot and crowded and there is nowhere to put baggage. In Rome we took two tours with Context Travel that were very good and had a maximum of 6 people per tour so it was semi-private. One was of the Colosseum and Roman Forum and the other was of the Vatican. They were both great tours and I would book with context again. After saying all that can be said and more I would like to finish by saying this was a wonderful experience and I cannot wait to cruise again. I hope that in the future we will have the pleasure of being served by such a hard working and diligent crew as those on the Noordam. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
This was our first cruise. We went with our two young children (boys: 7 and 4) and their grandparents, who are seasoned cruisers. I have never considered myself a cruiser; in fact, I was probably somewhat opposed to it prior to this ... Read More
This was our first cruise. We went with our two young children (boys: 7 and 4) and their grandparents, who are seasoned cruisers. I have never considered myself a cruiser; in fact, I was probably somewhat opposed to it prior to this cruise. We are experienced travelers and understand the challenges that come with traveling with kids, especially on a multiple-leg journey. Going on this Noordam cruise was great, first and foremost, because of the ports and sites we visited, allowing us to sample a bunch of locations in a two week period. Some ports we loved and will plan on going back to (Dubrovnik, for example) and others we consider one and done. I was also pleasantly surprised at the ease with which we were able to see so many places without the hassle of checking in and out of hotels and the associated transit and packing/unpacking. It is now safe to say that we are cruise converts. The HAL ship was in great shape, the staff was superb, and the food was good. The demographics leaned older, as is expected, but there were enough kids to make it fun--especially at one of the pools. All in all a big thumbs up (flying from SFO to Rome and back with a 4 year old is a whole other story. Ouch!:-) Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
My wife and I had not cruised before and booked this cruise more or less on a whim via vacationstogo.com, a US-based internet booking agency. As an independent cruise booking, we made our own arrangements to get to and from ... Read More
My wife and I had not cruised before and booked this cruise more or less on a whim via vacationstogo.com, a US-based internet booking agency. As an independent cruise booking, we made our own arrangements to get to and from Civitavecchia. We flew business class with British Airways from Heathrow to Rome (FCO) and back into London Gatwich from Rome (FCO). Business class allows a much more generous checked baggage allowance which we (correctly) thought would be useful for a cruise, given the formal dining requirements. Our transfers from Rome (FCO) to and from Civitavecchia were booked directly by us on-line with RomeCabs. The transfer cost was 130 euros each way, not cheap, but a very efficient service which ensured a totally seamless and stress free travel experience. I would thoroughly recommend RomeCabs to anyone willing to pay that little bit extra for a first class service. Embarkation was efficient and took around 15-20 minutes for us to arrive on board. Our luggage was taken to our appointed stateroom and was with us within an hour or so of getting on board. We had booked a superior verandah suite (category SS as defined by HAL) and were very impressed with the standard of accommodation both in terms of comfort and space, which compared very favourably to a typical good quality four star hotel in the UK. The balcony was a decent size and saw a lot of use during our ten days on board. The bathroom had two hand basins, a bath and a separate full-sized shower - very adequate. The Noordam takes around 2000 passengers with a crew of approximately 800. The staterooms are found across eight main decks. The MDR, the Vista restaurant is spread over decks 2 and 3. Deck 2 has an offshoot restaurant called the Pinnacle Grill, for which there is an up charge. Deck 9 has a buffet restaurant called the Lido. There is also a burger bar located by the mid-ship swimming pool on the same deck, more or less right next to the buffet dining area. The ship also features a casino, a main stage for the on board shows and a cinema. The service was excellent,provided by the mainly Indonesian staff and we certainly had no complaints in that department. Dining was variable, but given the number of covers that had to be accommodated by the kitchen and waiting staff, one could not really complain. Catering for that number of people will inevitably involve some compromises in quality. We weren't expecting fine dining and we didn't get it. The Pinnacle grill is definitely a step up from the MDR and worth the up charge for a couple of evenings, which is what we did. The Lido buffet restaurant offers a typical buffet dining experience with fairly indifferent food. The pizzas in particular were spectacularly bad and appeared worse still considering we were sailing from an Italian port ! A nice touch was the ability to order breakfast in the stateroom, we used this pretty much daily, breakfasting on the balcony - nice. Port excursions were arranged and implemented independently of the ship which had the effect of being much more flexible as well as less expensive. We had hooked up with a couple from California on the internet prior to the cruise who had pre-booked an independent tour of Tuscany which we joined, together with two other couples. This was a great experience and we all stayed in touch with each other for the rest of our time on the ship and regularly meeting up for a 6 o'clock drinks session on each other's balconies. We did, exceptionally, take a ship's tour at La Goulette, Tunisia. Our guide was friendly, urbane and almost completely incomprehensible. The tour was a four hour one encompassing Carthage and a museum. For the last hour or so of the tour, we were essentially souvenir fodder, fending off the stalwart advances of the locals, determined to extract as many euros as they could from us. Our tour guide clearly favoured certain 'shops' which brought the pungent tang of corruption to the nostrils.I should mention our stop over at Barcelona. The HAL cruise director (Shane) told us via the public address system that the local port shuttle bus service was less reliable than the one offered by HAL (at around four times the price). Those that did get a HAL ticket received a piece of paper with "non refundable" printed clearly on the reverse - go figure. Basically a complete misrepresentation of the facts designed to frighten people into using the outrageously over-priced HAL port shuttle. We used the local bus which was both reliable and cheap. I can't comment on the on board entertainment because it was of no interest to us, preferring our own company and a glass of wine or two after our (late session) evening meal. HAL allows its cruise guests to take wine on board. This was a life saver for us as ship board prices are basically a rip off, on top of which a 15% service charge is levied. The cheapest bottle of drinkable wine approaches $50 plus 15%, so $57.50 for something that would cost little more than $10.00 (if that) on shore. All good things eventually come to an end. Disembarkation was a smooth and efficient operation with no hitches at all. As a first time cruiser I have nothing to compare this experience with. However, we both enjoyed it very much and any shortcomings mentioned above were only of a minor nature. The watchword is basically to use your head to avoid being unnecessarily fleeced, there is always an alternative. We would choose HAl again not only because of the wine issue bu the price and accomodation combination was every satisfactory. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Honestly couldn't have asked for much better! Although there were slight glitches at certain times it was overall quite good! FOOD was great I ordered room service a few nights very late yet they still managed to show up on time at ... Read More
Honestly couldn't have asked for much better! Although there were slight glitches at certain times it was overall quite good! FOOD was great I ordered room service a few nights very late yet they still managed to show up on time at my room 90% of the time and always got my order right! Breakfasts and lunches were well organized and suppers were quite outstanding, they had so many options and all very tasty in fact.The slight glitch was that half way through the cruise the (very popular) hot chocolate machine had ran out of powder which disappointed a lot of the kids and adults. But overall excellent! ENTERTAINMENT was outstanding they had many shows such as "divas night", "Latin night", HASBRO'S family game night which was very exciting for the children, 2 or 3 different comedians, a piano bar, karaoke almost every day i believe. There was 2 water slides and a water park at the top of the ship, a ropes coarse, mini golf,liquid night club(over 18), clubs for kids!, ETC.also there was a 5D theater which was great for the 2 or 3 days that it worked but it kinda bummed not having it for a solid 9 days on board! But in general Ive never heard of a cruise with this kind of entertainment it was amazing! BOARDING/DEPARTURE PROCESS boarding was very decent certain days it took only 10 minutes to board while other times it took nearly an hour. Not trying to complain but an hour can feel like forever when you're tired and waiting in the drenching heat of the sun. But you could tell they were doing they're best because once you were at security they kind of rushed you! So just make sure to have all stuff going on board ready! On the other hand departure was always very quick and efficient taking max 10 minutes and minimum was 1 min!! PORT-OF-CALLS the only time we bought a deal package from the boat was when we went to Dubrovnik,Croatia it was good! But i found that the price was a little excessive for what it gave. In my opinion I had a better time just touring around the city and stopping in little shops and going to the places I had really wanted to visit! We went to all the ports as planned and I found we had a good amount of time given at each port! P.S I just wanted to share a little idea with you all! For my cruise I decided to take a journal with myself and at the end of each day I would wright in it what I had done! I thought this was a cool idea! I read it back a few days ago and it left me smiling:)) Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
It was my first cruise and I really enjoyed it. getting on and off the boat was smooth and efficient. Food was excellent at the sit down restaurants. Lido was ok but queues were a problem on occassion. The queue for the fast food at the ... Read More
It was my first cruise and I really enjoyed it. getting on and off the boat was smooth and efficient. Food was excellent at the sit down restaurants. Lido was ok but queues were a problem on occassion. The queue for the fast food at the pool every day was off putting. Entertainment was fine, enjoyed the piano bar guy entertainment, great repetoire. There was almost every night a different entertainer, we did not go every night. Our cabin was an HH on the fourth deck and had an obstructed view, it was fine, lots of room under the bed for luggage, room service for breakfast excellent for those early starts, bed very comfortable, bath and shower fine, lots of room in closets for clothes. TV channels a bit limited but you are on a cruise. Attendants kept the cabin spotless. So glad we paid for 10 days of entrance to the spa with use of hydropool, sauna and hot rock recliner (great for the back). It cost on special $199 for a couple. The spa staff said that it was limited to 40 couples. With 1900 people on the ship I was glad on impluse we did it. It is an oasis of calm and under 18s not permitted. The pool was packed with teenagers and the other 1900 passengers it seemed some days. There is also no apparent supervision of the jacuzzi beside the pool. Did all the shore excursions ourselves except one which was in Tunisia. Glad we did them ourselves. 13 full buses of people and guides were in my view mediocre. For those of you doing the cruise, easy to get to Pisa from Livorno but it is hot. Bus to train station, train to Pisa, walk to tower a half hour, need to book online in advance to go up tower which we did, great views of Pisa. Monte Carlo we just got off the ship and wandered around easy to do. Barcelona we did the taxi to las Rambles for 10 euros for four people, then the hop on hop off bus for 24 euros each. Mallorca was taxi 12 euros to downtown and then a wander around, tapas and taxi back. Palermo we walked and took buses to see the catacombs, easy to do. Naples we went to Pompeii, No 1 tram to train station 5 euros for three people and then I think it was 18 euros return for three to Pompeii, which costs 11 euro entry and is opposite the station. If you have a lot of luggage arrange a transfer in Rome to the airport. Staff and service on ship were excellent. Would definitely do a cruise again, apologies for doing a review here but not willing to risk cruise critic again! One last thing although we did all the ports and excursions independently, it was very hot and tiring so be warned take lots of water, hat and put on sun tan lotion.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We thoroughly enjoyed our 21 day cruise last year and could not fault the service on the ship. A little on the downside was the cabin on deck 4 with a lifeboat obstructed view, which we knew we would be getting, was still very comfortable, ... Read More
We thoroughly enjoyed our 21 day cruise last year and could not fault the service on the ship. A little on the downside was the cabin on deck 4 with a lifeboat obstructed view, which we knew we would be getting, was still very comfortable, although next time we would be booking a cabin with a balcony as friends had one on a deck higher up which was just magic! The 2 stewards were amazing and looked after us really well. We did ask after 7 days for an upgrade but there were none available. Our meals were first class and the staff aimed to please. We always had our table booked in the Vista Room for the same time each night and the same excellent waiter remembered each night what drinks we would be ordering. We only did one organised tour which was well organised and worth paying the money for and we were advised to do because of the safety aspect. An excellent memorable cruise which we thoroughly enjoyed and will book again for another one in 2013. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Boarding the ship went very smoothly and we were glad we were the only cruise ship leaving that day. We cant imagine what it would be like at Port Everglades with 6-8 cruise ships at one time. We were able to go directly to our cabin and ... Read More
Boarding the ship went very smoothly and we were glad we were the only cruise ship leaving that day. We cant imagine what it would be like at Port Everglades with 6-8 cruise ships at one time. We were able to go directly to our cabin and our luggage arrived shortly after we did. Muster drill was interesting and we are glad that HA is taking it very seriously. Food - Always cooked the way we ordered it in the MDR - Service in the MDR was good as was our Wine Stewardess - Terrace Grill burgers were always yummy as were the Sweet Potato Fries - Canaletto food seemed to be in larger portions - Lido always had something for everyone, Chocolate chip cookies AWESOME!!!!! - Ate at the Pinnacle once but unless you have a special occasion to celebrate or you are into 5 star dining it isn't worth the extra cost. Food pretty much the same as in the MDR - Room service was always within the time requested for breakfast but had to wait during the day since everyone else was ordering at the same time when you would get back onto the ship - Overall food was excellent Entertainment/On board Activities - We didn't go to many of the late night shows but the ones that we did where good - The team trivia was fun and hard all at the same time - Adult pool games kept everyone laughing and entertained - Casino is a Casino, Bingo is Bingo - Shane the Cruise Director was always busy and has a great sense of humour - We heard that we had over 200 kids on board but you wouldn't have know it unless you where at the Lido pool - There was always something to see or go and do whether we were at sea or in port Service/Crew - They are like Ninjas, you see them in the hallways but never in your cabin - Cabin was always clean and taken care of - Crew is always smiling and asking you if you need anything - Photography crew took some of the best pictures we got on the cruise Overall being our 1st ever cruise we can't wait until we book another one. Yes it took us a day to get our sea legs but it didn't stop us from enjoying this cruise. We will definitely book another cruise with HA in the future and it will be on one of the Vista Class ships. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
My hubby and I have traveled to a few destinations and for the most part have always enjoyed where we have been. When I knew that we would be leaving on a 7 night cruise to the Eastern Caribbean I can honestly say I was one nervous girl. ... Read More
My hubby and I have traveled to a few destinations and for the most part have always enjoyed where we have been. When I knew that we would be leaving on a 7 night cruise to the Eastern Caribbean I can honestly say I was one nervous girl. For anyone who knows me they will know that nothing makes me more nerved up than boarding an airplane. However, this cruise had that beat. So I began talking to everyone that I knew that had ever been on a cruise and I made sure I listened to everyone's advice. So I started preparing. I had packed all the sunscreen (Mainly for my hubby),cloths for every occasion,and all the meds for any possible sickness ( well at least the ones that will help with motion sickness anyway). And did a lot of praying for nice weather. We arrived in FT. Lauderdale and spent the night before at the Hilton and enjoyed just relaxing before our big day. When the time came to board our ship I was amazed at the smooth process. My idea of boarding a ship was walking through a gate and onto the ship we would go. But that is not exactly how it is done. We were apart of one of the first groups to board MS Noordam. And it was about noon when we were on the ship and ready for an adventure. We got to go right to our cabin. Our cabin had a balcony and that made us feel like we were in a suite. Shortly after we were in our room our luggage was delivered. We had no problems with finding room for everything that we had brought. I had read on cruise critic to make sure you bring extra hangers and so that is what I did and I used them all. Then all the luggage was kept under the bed along with anything else that we didn't seem to need. My husband and I then went to the Lido Pool area where we met up with our friends and had lunch and enjoyed watching everyone else board the ship. We did do a little exploring around the ship while waited to leave Ft.Lauderdale. The Spa was giving free 5 min massages and tours of their area. We did partake in that and even won a free Bamboo massage for myself. I was thrilled. 6 PM arrived and we were off..... Out to sea we went and good bye US... See you in a week. Our first night on the ship we ate at the Pinnacle Grill and absolutely loved it. I could of eaten there every night. The only part we didn't like was the wine waiter talked our friends into a bottle of wine and neglected to tell them how much it was.... That was an OUCH and we learned to not order wine with out knowing what the cost is. However, we had a fabulous evening. Our First Day at Sea was spent relaxing by the Lido Pool. This pool is for families and the kids were having a blast. They also have a grill there along with live entertainment. So never a dull moment. It didn't take long for us to decide that we should be at the sea pool and let the families have the room at the Lido Pool. The Sea Pool too has live entertainment, but they also have water games and plenty of fun things for the adults to do while they are soaking up the sun. The one thing that I loved about the crew/ship is every day we had a list of everything that was going on all over the ship and if we were at a port they had everything that you can do at the port also. They were offering a class on the shopping at each of the ports so I attended that and was thrilled at the discounts we would receive and the information about each port. That was so helpful. Before our trip I had booked a couples massage and that was the one thing that I will tell anyone to do. It was worth every dime we spent. Our first day at sea was fabulous and it went by so fast. Day 2.... We awoke to porting at Grand Turks. We were only there for about 4 hours but did sign up for the Coast to Coast tour. It was good to get to see the whole island and some of the history. The Light House was my favorite part. Once we were back at the port my hubby and I boarded the ship early and we got to watch a Carnival ship come in. That was so interesting. Every time we left a port they had a sail away party and we enjoyed them all. Day 3....Welcome to St.Thomas. This island is breath taking. We signed up for the Island tour and shopping. They took us to all the most important sights, then to Black Beard's Castle and that is where we could hang there and enjoy their pools or work our way to the shopping district. Loved it all. Each of the jewelry stores give away freebies and I made sure I picked them up. But we enjoyed all the shopping and even took in a wonderful little restaurant. Very Friendly community and would love to go back. Day 4.... So pleased to be in St. Martin. Unfortunately we encountered rough seas the night before. I was thankful I was wearing a patch and didn't get sick at all. But the rocking of the ship was somewhat unsettling for many people. For me..... I was nervous more than anything.... for my hubby....a little sick...But there is where planning comes in. I was thankful that I had brought the necessities so we could still enjoy our vacation. So it was so nice to be able to be in St Martin. We did our shopping and then rented a cab to the beach/airport to watch those amazing planes come in. Our cab driver was awesome as he gave us a lot of history of the island and would stop for us take photos. He even waited for us while we were at the beach. Then back to the port we went to finish with some dinner and a little more shopping. Day 5 we were at sea all day. Day 6 we were at Half Moon Cay and enjoyed the beach and all the activities that they offer. Day 7.... Welcome back to the US. The food: All the food was awesome. We ate at the Pinnacle Grill twice. Very hard to get into as everyone loved it so much. Very popular. Every morning we ate at the Lido and they offer everything you can imagine. You will gain at least 10 lbs on this cruise so make sure you diet before you leave. The crew/Stewards: Our Stewards were wonderful. If you needed something they immediately would get it for you. No waiting around. Their number 1 priority is making sure you are happy and well taken care of. All the crew on this ship is right there when needed. When we were having rough seas I had called down to the front desk and the next day they called our room checking to see if I was better and if we needed anything. They also were informing us that the seas would continue to be rough for about 24 more hours. What a wonderful gesture that was. Entertainment was fabulous. There is something for everybody and all day long too. The kids always had movies to go to and activities to keep them busy too. All the children on this cruise were well behaved and absolutely fun to be around. Cabins: They are bright and homey. We enjoyed our balcony everyday. I would pay the extra cost to have a balcony. Waking every morning and spending sometime on the balcony was my favorite part of the day. Nothing more peaceful than sitting and watching the ocean seas. Loved it. After a week on a ship I can honestly say that I enjoyed our first cruise and would recommend anyone to try one out. No more nervousness for me. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
In a word--fabulous. This was a family cruise, with 16 of us (parents, siblings, spouses, and children) gathered to enjoy the Noordam's hospitality and to escape the winter cold in Canada. My indomitable and very organized ... Read More
In a word--fabulous. This was a family cruise, with 16 of us (parents, siblings, spouses, and children) gathered to enjoy the Noordam's hospitality and to escape the winter cold in Canada. My indomitable and very organized step-mother (with the help of her favorite travel agent) coordinated the entire thing, from airline tickets to hotel rooms, cruise-port transfers to soda cards, right down to matching red t-shirts so that we would not lose track of one another on embarkation! We sailed from Fort Lauderdale on 03 February, under heavy cloud but in warm airs. The boys in the group stood at the balcony railing in our parents' suite, very interested in the Coast Guard boat (with what appeared to be a submachine gun mounted on the bow) that zoomed up and down beside the Noordam as she lay waiting her turn to leave the harbour. Those of us less interested in the Coast Guard used the binoculars provided in the suite to watch herons, egrets, and pelicans at the water's edge. Only three of us had not cruised before, but the first-time sailors adapted quickly. I had brought Gravol in case of heavy seas or motion sickness, and a lot of it was used over the course of the 10 days as many of the children found themselves feeling a bit queasy at bedtime. There were many nights when the rolling motion was quite profound during the wee hours. It didn't seem to bother any of the adults, even those who had not cruised before. The itinerary was new(ish) to me: Half Moon Cay was the first stop, and was marvelous as always. The seas were rough, however, and the tendering to and from the ship was delayed several times, leaving groups of passengers cooped up inside tenders for some time at the dock. The grumbling diminished once the HAL employee opened the tender's forward windows, so that air could circulate (it had been getting pretty hot in there and lots of people were starting to look a bit faint). We had several vegetarians with us this time, and we were heartened to discover that there were veggie burgers and other non-meaty choices at the Half Moon Cay barbeque (we were also glad to see our old friends the chickens wandering about the picnic area!) The food was wonderful, as usual. The second stop, Grand Turk, was also very nice. We stayed pretty much in the cruise port and on the beach. The beach was in nice shape, and there were some curious schools of fish that delighted the kids by swimming fearlessly round them in the shallows of the roped-off area. The third port was Samana, in the Dominican Republic. We were all very taken with the craggy beauty of the island of Hispaniola as we sailed nearer, and several people spotted humpback whales spouting nearby (the Captain said on the intercom that he had been forced to alter course eight times that morning in order to avoid pods of whales!) We did not take any excursions in Samana, but rather decided to walk around and see what it was like. We had been told in the port information that the Dominican Republic was a 'third-world country', and this was evident the moment one stepped ashore: the pathways were lined with small children selling conch shells, with beggars, and with taxi operators and motorcycle drivers trying to persuade one to take an impromptu tour. I found myself feeling absurdly and guiltily rich, and finally broke down and gave two children each a dollar for a shell, which I later discreetly dropped back into the water (not being sure whether these were even allowed back into the US). Several other passengers with whom we later chatted did take HAL-sponsored excursions, and their experience of Samana was much more positive (they loved it). Our final three stops were Curacao, Bonaire, and Aruba. We liked all three of these, although my personal favorite was Bonaire--the most laid-back, relaxed, and friendly island I've ever visited. We did the Two-Site snorkel excursion with Seacow of Bonaire (wonderful!) which I would highly recommend. The Noordam staff were uniformly friendly, professional, and courteous. They seemed to be a very happy group, which I found a relief since the staff on Eurodam three years ago was most emphatically grumpy, and I was worried that this indicated a general malaise across HAL's fleet (doesn't seem that way now). The food was very good, with lots of vegetarian and milk-free options, and the dining room and kitchen staff bent over backwards to be helpful. And finally, of course, it had to end. We were in the 8:45 to 9:15 disembarkation group, and we were off the ship--and found our bags--in record time. It was a terrific holiday, and we will certainly return to Holland America soon (if only it could be sooner!) Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
We travelled on the Noordam to the Caribbean back to back cruise in November 2011 The ship was very clean and the staff were excellent. We found the excursions to be expensive we did three and did not find them value for money so we ... Read More
We travelled on the Noordam to the Caribbean back to back cruise in November 2011 The ship was very clean and the staff were excellent. We found the excursions to be expensive we did three and did not find them value for money so we organised our own from the pier and they proved to be very good and much cheaper. We ate in the Vista most nights and had the same table 136 as the waiter was excellent could not have had a better standard of service in any London hotel. We had 2 meals in the Cannelto which were very good and the staff excellent. We did eat in the Lido the food was not as nice as in the Vista but if you were in a hurry it was okay but big queues. The shows were a real dissappointment so amateurish The only good act was Kenny James and he was only on 1 night. We found there was not enough to do in the evenings the cookery shows were in the daytime and the computer courses were right on meal times. We are too old for disco so it would have been nice to have something besides the show to do at night The pool area was very good plenty of beds and very clean. we did wonder why we stopped in Martinque on a Sunday when everything was closed We had excellent bedroom stewards Angung and Aknes nothing too much trouble and the cabin was kept spotless. All in all I would say our only problem was boredom Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
I was a bit apprehensive about embarking on my first cruise as I always suffer from seasickness. I really didn't have to worry as the ship was huge and very stable. My travel agent suggest picking a cabin mid-ship and we chose one ... Read More
I was a bit apprehensive about embarking on my first cruise as I always suffer from seasickness. I really didn't have to worry as the ship was huge and very stable. My travel agent suggest picking a cabin mid-ship and we chose one on the Upper Promenade deck. Its was semi obscured but it suited us fine, with plenty of room and light. My husband who thought he would be bored was amazed at how busy we were. The days were filled with shore excursions, eating, swimming, eating, going to the many classes, lectures and exhibitions on board, eating, using the library and Internet, eating again, shopping on-board, you guessed it, eating. We saw a different show every night and if we had been so inclined gambled in the casino. As you have already gathered the food was amazing from the poolside grill to the five star night at Le Cirque. Silver service breakfasts and high teas...yum. We spent 20 amazing nights touring both the Eastern & Western Mediterranean, made lots of new friends and saw some wonderful sights. If you have never cruised before, do it! I can certainly recommend the Holland America cruise line. The staff are wonderful and nothing is too much trouble. If it can be done for you it will be. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This was my first time cruising and I took my two daughters aged 15 and 11. We were not sure what to expect, but were hoping for a holiday to meet everyones requirements. The girls wanted action and an opportunity to meet new friends and I ... Read More
This was my first time cruising and I took my two daughters aged 15 and 11. We were not sure what to expect, but were hoping for a holiday to meet everyones requirements. The girls wanted action and an opportunity to meet new friends and I wanted a relaxing break from work! We departed from London Heathrow on a 6am flight with Alitalia and arrived shortly after 9 in Rome. HAL reps were at the airport to greet us and got us onto transfer buses. All fine so far. The transfer took a little over an hour and we were dock side just before noon. There is a large 'hanger' which serves as the embarkation port - you check in and have your photo taken and ID card is issued. We were on board in less than 20 minutes - a breeze given that we had entered all the pre embarkation info online. I was slightly disappointed that there was no welcome drink as we went aboard, but we went straight to our cabin which was ready. Our room steward came and introduced himself and suggested we went to the Lido for lunch. So a quick elevator ride to deck 9 for a 'light' lunch. We decided to have some lunch at this point. The lido was very busy, but it was kept clean and we found a table easily. the food was great and a very wide variety. We went out onto the Aft deck for a look around and then decided to sign the girls up for the 'kids' clubs. After all this and going down to decks 2 and 3 to look about it was time for the sail away party. I thought this would be a bit of a bigger event than it was and it ended up being a bit of a damp squib. Overall, there are many positives about this boat. It never seemed crowded (except on sea days when it was a bit crowded around the family pool), the food was great and there is an abundance of it. The service was on the whole very good. the ship is immaculately clean with staff cleaning all the time in the public areas and toilets especially were immaculate. Some passengers have commented that areas were messy and in my opinion that is only because some passengers treat the facilities and staff with contempt. Our dining steward was brilliant remembering our names and preferences from day one (well done Putu - we will miss you) Other plus points must go to the lovely staff who run and organise the kids activities. there could be a bit more variety, but on the whole its excellent. Both daughters loved attending so much that on more than one occasion they opted to stay on the ship rather than come ashore to sightsee - who said culture in the young was dead! As mentioned previously, the food was good and the service in the Vista Dining room was excellent. We went to the Pinnacle grill one night but it turned out to be a disaster. the food was awful (cold verging on inedible) but what made it even worse was the dreadful service. the Manageress ticked her staff off in front of us and shouted at the kitchen staff - not really a relaxing fine dining experience. Ok, so onto areas for improvement: - The evening entertainment is fine if all you require is a relaxing quiet time after dinner before you retire to your cabin. Don't expect bars full of life or broadway style shows. There is an exccellent string quartet who I listened to every night and a house band who are not bad, but the ship does get quiet at night. This would be the only reason that I would consider another cruise line in the future. - Some areas of the ship are starting to look a bit tired - some carpets are threadbare and need replacing. - HAL put up notices around the pool stating that you cannot hog sunloungers, but sadly this is done by loads of people who come and put towels and a book on a lounger and then disappear ashore or off elsewhere for hours at a time. HAL state they will remove items if you do this, but no one was policing the pool area. Its a shame as on many occasions I could not sit near the pool when my own daughter was using it although many of the loungers were 'empty' - excursions - are really overpriced. they did not seem well attended at all. Had they been slightly more reasonable then I am sure more would have purchased the trips. An example is the trip to Olympia. We caught a public bus from the harbour (10 euros for an adult and 5 for a child) and went independently. Entrance to the site and museum was 9 euros for me and the children were free. A comprehensive guidebook was 8 euros. So 37 euros compared to $80 each with HAL. - my only other small grip was the constant photo taking by HAL staff. Walk down the gangplank - photo; be ashore (donkey rise at Santorini) - photo. Endless at night and during dinner. Please HAL, people will ask if they want a formal photo, you don't need to keep stopping us. But all in all a lovely time and I am now officially a cruise convert and would definitely go again. As we speak I have the brochure in front of me for next year, but for a different line - name remains a secret but they are blue and yellow! Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This was our first cruising experience. We added the 10 day Roman Empire cruise to our 5 week European Adventure. It was my mother-in-law's life long dream to go to Europe. Unfortunately, she did not make the trip, however our family ... Read More
This was our first cruising experience. We added the 10 day Roman Empire cruise to our 5 week European Adventure. It was my mother-in-law's life long dream to go to Europe. Unfortunately, she did not make the trip, however our family of 4 continued on with the plans we had made in April. Let me say - I was reluctant to go on a cruise, but my mother-in-law had raved about her Mexico cruise and we thought this might be a nice way to see parts of Europe without the hassle of too much travel and most importantly, the packing, unpacking and shelping our luggage every couple of days. We also selected this cruise because it made a stop in Messina, Sicily where our older daughter had spent a year as an exchange student a couple of years ago. We arrived in Civitavecchia, and experienced a very smooth check-in at the port. Our luggage was handled efficiently and courteously. We were on board the ship and in our room in less than a half hour. We met our friends in the check-in line and were in the LIDO restaurant within 1 hour of arriving at the Port. Overall our experiences on the Noordam was very positive. From the Captain, the crew, the front desk staff, Drew the Cruise Director, Christina the Travel Guide, Elizabeth the Party Planner, the Noordam Singers and Dancers were all very professional and outstanding at their jobs. The cabin stewards that were assigned to us were most attentive and all the restaurant staff in the Vista, LIDO, Pinnacle Grill, Terrace Grill, the Bar were so friendly, and provided excellent customer service. The Chefs were also very friendly and willing to answer questions. The Spa staff was always friendly as well as the personal trainers in the workout room. The folks in the gift shops were nice and one man in particular was very friendly. There are so many places in the ship that you could "hang out" that it didn't feel too crowded, except for the pool deck. People hoarding their lounge chairs is a problem. Especially when you are looking for a spot to sit after a long hot day on shore. I thought the maintenance of the ship was in tip top shape and we didn't see any area of the ship that might have been less than stellar. It really seemed that the 800 employees on the ship really took pride in their positions. The customer service training that HAL provides for their staff is really noticeable and we (our family) thoroughly enjoyed our cruise experience and will cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
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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