Sail Date: July 2017
What a wonderful cruise. We went to Corfu, Santorini, Sicily, Croatia, Turkey, Athens, Rome. So many wonderful places. Used Viator.com for shore excursions and was terrific. They guarantee to get back to the ship on time. Private ... Read More
What a wonderful cruise. We went to Corfu, Santorini, Sicily, Croatia, Turkey, Athens, Rome. So many wonderful places. Used Viator.com for shore excursions and was terrific. They guarantee to get back to the ship on time. Private tours with experts in history made for an awesome tour. Holland America was outstanding. Service was great and food, entertainment was wonderful as well. The flight to Europe was good and Holland America provided transportation to the hotel and then onto the ship, no problems with all the connections. We were able to board the ship early and get settled in the cabin and have lunch before the ship even sailed. Highly recommend getting to Rome, our departure city a couple days before so you can explore it. Did use the ships shores excursions for some trips and they were very good. I would highly recommend this cruise and would definitely do this same cruise again. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We chose this cruise as it fitted in with our annual company closedown in January each year, when we must take most of our annual holiday leave. The price was great for this peak holiday time in Australia. Both the embarkation and ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it fitted in with our annual company closedown in January each year, when we must take most of our annual holiday leave. The price was great for this peak holiday time in Australia. Both the embarkation and disembarkation processes ran extremely well, no queues All food was fresh and good quality, with the dining room providing gourmet meals each night. We initially asked for extra vegetables with our meal, thereafter a separate plate of steamed vegetables was automatically provided for our table to share each night. Dining room service was excellent. The free food on the swimming pool deck was welcome, we have cruised with other lines three times & always needed to pay for food outside the dining room & cafeteria. In addition, each day a self-serve Mexican food bar was set up on that deck, enabling us to enjoy tacos & nachos - the pulled beef was yummy! WE dined in the Pinnacle Grill for lunch on two occasions. For an extra US$10 per head for three courses plus tea or expresso coffee, this was most worthwhile. The prawn bruschetta (entree) & seafood in tomato broth (main) were highlights. We were each able to take a 750ml bottle of wine aboard on embarkation, which we could drink in our cabin. To take a bottle to the main dining room incurred a corkage fee of US$18. When we visited a wine region in New Zealand, we were each permitted to take a further bottle aboard for use in the dining room, without incurring the corkage fee. A good move by Holland America. The first sitting for dining was at 5.30pm, which meant we sometimes missed dining there due to still being ashore on port days, or missed viewing the ship's departure from ports as we were in the dining room. In hindsight we would choose the later dining option. Our major gripe was with the cost on internet on board the ship, very expensive. Also quite slow according to those who did use it. Accordingly, we waited for port days to use free wifi at local libraries or cafes. However, in NZ this was not always satisfactory as it appears they are still using 3G, at times we were unable to read incoming emails & text messages, & most times could not send emails, although text messages were fine. The entertainment on board was first class, ranging from an in-house band, in-house singers & dancers, to guest comedians, musicians, & singers. There were a variety of classes especially on sea days, including a unique series of computer classes dealing with all aspects of Windows 10, & also several computer Q & A sessions .Everyone found these classes very helpful. Other activities included cooking demonstration, DIY cocktails, galley tour, fitness classes, health & beauty talks, excursion previews, just to name a few. We didn't take any ship organised excursions, mainly due to cost. As we travelled with another couple, we hired cars at two ports to travel further afield, & noticed other groups especially families, did this as well. One excursion I saw advertised privately online prior to the cruise for NZ$50 (Napier town tour 1 hr), yet the ship charged US$69 for exactly the same tour, with the same company, which was double the price (taking into account the exchange rate). This is something cruise ships need to look at closely, to encourage more use of their own shore excursions. For the cost of our cruise, we would definitely sail with Holland America again! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
My husband and I chose this cruise because it fit into our timetable and allowed a visit to Vancouver. I sailed with HAL several years ago on an older ship and did not have a good experience but since it fit we decided to give it another ... Read More
My husband and I chose this cruise because it fit into our timetable and allowed a visit to Vancouver. I sailed with HAL several years ago on an older ship and did not have a good experience but since it fit we decided to give it another try. The Noordam is a newer ship and exceeded our expectations. We upgraded to a signature suite and found it to be quite spacious with 2 sinks in the bathroom, balcony roomy too. Finishes are nicer in Celebrity solstice ships but overall it was very good. Service was excellent in all areas. The several talks about Alaska and what we were seeing were great. Food demonstration and galley visit also very good. Food in the main dining room and Pinnacle very good. Room service excellent for breakfast...real oj and good coffee. Lido terrible for breakfast. Watery coffee, fake oj , noisy and it smelled like McDonalds. It was fine for lunch especially Asian dishes. Piano bar and Blues were excellent, comedian very good but the singers and dancers were terrible! Nice gym and Indonesian tea. We did not book shore excursions but did go with Juneau tours in Skagway and they were great. Overall a very good experience. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2012
We are a married couple and have cruised several times before on various cruise lines. We own CCL shares and once the cruise was paid in full, we faxed the required information to HAL and the $250 OBC for a plus 14 day cruise was posted to ... Read More
We are a married couple and have cruised several times before on various cruise lines. We own CCL shares and once the cruise was paid in full, we faxed the required information to HAL and the $250 OBC for a plus 14 day cruise was posted to our OB account. The first leg of our 21 day B2B cruise was the Eastern Caribbean, followed by the Southern Caribbean. We arrived a few days early in Ft Lauderdale before the start of our cruise. We stayed at the Embassy Suites which includes a manager's reception, breakfast and a great pool area. It is centrally located and relatively close to all amenities for some last minute shopping and sightseeing. The evening before our cruise, several cruise ships were scheduled to depart Port Everglades. To get our cruise ship vacation started we walked down to the north jetty of the Port Everglades Inlet to watch all ships pass by. The embarkation process was very easy as the terminal in Ft Lauderdale was well organized. Our room SS Superior Veranda Suite # 8082 was wonderful. A larger balcony, always fresh fruit daily, soft robes, slippers, a LCD monitor with DVD. It was clean, very adequate and quiet. The room stewards always greeted us with a smile and our rooms were always meticulously maintained. We found the service and dining on-board to be 5 stars. Our main dining room stewards were always thorough and attentive. The menu was always tempting. We usually don't enjoy buffets, with the line ups and crowds, so we try to stay away from them as much as possible. With that being said, the food choices were excellent and the overall lay out of the buffet was good. We regularly ordered breakfast in our room which always was on time, hot and to our order, even with the special requests. On two occasions we dined in the Pinnacle. The first with our new CC friends was wonderful, with great service and menu. The second experience was a table for two at the Chefs Dinner with wine pairing which always makes for a wonderful evening. We booked the Thermal Suites and daily enjoyed the use of the steam sauna, dry sauna, ceramic hot beds and hydro pool. We were always in the gym daily and enjoyed some fitness classes. But found the facility small. We also enjoyed the full promenade deck to walk or jog. The few evening shows we attended were at par with what we had experienced in the past on other cruises. The evenings were mostly spent dancing at the various venues or socializing with our new cruise critic friends. We attended two wine tasting events, that seemed hurried and more of a money making event for HAL. The pub crawl event and pool activities we found to be quite entertaining. We enjoyed the couple of open deck BBQ's and the observation deck at the bow being opened for the scenic cruising. Port Excursions St Maartin -- A private excursion with "Capt Alan" to snorkel, which we had the pleasure to swim with many turtles, a stop at Orient beach with a mud bath, and another beach stop at Pinel Island. A wonderful excursion and a Trip Advisor top rated. St Lucia -- We were the only ones from the ship to book a speed boat ride from "Spensor Ambrose" to Jalousie Beach. It was wonderful to have the boat ride, a full cooler and beach mostly to ourselves for a few hours of beach time and snorkeling. Barbados - We walked to the Boatyard Beach Club then enjoyed swimming with some turtles and snorkeling over the ship wrecks. It is a great beach with many amenities. The cruise ship crew love hanging out here. Martinique - Stopping in on a Sunday with most things closed we opted to book a ship's excursion. We headed out with the "Snorkel Martinique tour". It was fun and as expected for a ship's tour. Dominica -- We booked a private tour with Levi from "Bumbling Tours" again. The two of us and Levi's brother hiked up the Pedu Temps Trail. We had a great time hiking in the rain forest and helping ourselves to all the delicious fruit. With just the three of us we made good time on the hike and had time to snorkel at Champagne reef before making it back to the ship. St Thomas -- With several ships in port, and having been to St.Thomas several times we were not really looking forward to this stop. We again booked a ship's excursion "Champagne Sail and Snorkel". It was fun, a nice way to escape the crowds and as expected for a ship's excursion. We then had a quick stop in Charlotte Amalie for some "World Famous Shopping ". Half Moon Cay -- This is a great private island. We swam from one end of the beach to the other with our snorkel gear. It is not great for snorkelling but the water and sand was fantastic. We had a great time on the Aqua Trax Adventure and enjoyed a wonderful BBQ lunch. Grand Turk -- The private snorkel excursion with Blue Water Divers was fun with two snorkel stops. The snorkel stop at "The Wall" would have been wonderful to dive at, but too deep to really enjoy from the surface. The walk to "Jacks Shack" afterwards was a nice escape from the touristy pier area, but not the touristy prices. Dominican Republic -- This was the highlight excursion, "Tour with Terry", Zip Line, Beach and Waterfall. Along with our CC friends, we were very fortunate to make it ashore this day and have such a great tour. Bonaire -- A private excursion with "Woodwind" snorkeling at Klein Bonaire was fantastic. We have snorkeled many places and with many outfits. This is a first class operation. Curacao -- We ventured off the ship with our CC friends without a plan and ended up having a great day. The Dune Buggy Adventure that we booked was a great way to see much of the island. The cafe's, shops, swing bridge, sun set and people watching nicely filled in the day. Aruba -- " Rancho Notorious" ATV Tour with our CC friends got us out on the far side of the island to see many of the natural attractions. It was a fantastic tour with time left over for a little shopping and some free Wi-Fi time on land. Disembarkation -- This was well organized. We walked right off the ship when our luggage color and number was announced, and then walked right into a taxi for a short ride to the airport. Summary - We loved this cruise. We found most of staff very professional and accommodating. HAL's policy of bringing wine on-board is a nice benefit that we certainly took advantage of. HAL good for you. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2012
But we persisted and gave it another try. This time we did our longest cruise yet---11 nights and had almost perfect weather the whole time! Cruise day finally came ( Monday, Nov. 5th, 2012). I chose this cruise mainly because it ... Read More
But we persisted and gave it another try. This time we did our longest cruise yet---11 nights and had almost perfect weather the whole time! Cruise day finally came ( Monday, Nov. 5th, 2012). I chose this cruise mainly because it went to St. Lucia. Not many cruises seem to go there and I've always been intrigued with the pictures I've seen of the Pitons. The cruise also included stops in St. Maarten, Barbados, Dominica, Martinique, St. Thomas, and Half Moon Cay. It was very port intensive, which I loved---6 port days in a row, another port later. Hubby is more of a sea day fan, but he held up pretty well. The first 3 days (Nov. 5-7) were sea days. We settled into our SS 8060 superior suite. It was on the port side and enjoyed the sunrises and port views the first 6 days, then sunsets the last 5. Not quite as big and didn't have the added benefits of the deluxe suite we had last year, but still pretty nice. Loved that the verandah even had a table and 2 chairs as well as 2 other chairs with ottomans. We were mid ship and on the 8th floor. Made it easy to just take the steps up to the Lido buffet for the many meals we ate there. We took advantage of these sea days to check out the ship and some of the programs offered ---such as the digital workshop; the culinary demonstration; even a flower arranging presentation. Enjoyed a sunset from the 10th level observation deck. Also enjoyed views of the ocean from our verandah. Had dinner one night at the now $10 upcharge italian Canelletto restaurant. Last year it was free. Service was great, although Ken wasn't as impressed with the food this time. On our 3rd full day, we were in St. Maarten. I had been here once before and had done the island tour then. Although it was an interesting tour, I was ready to hit the water. We're not ones to book many excursions through the ship, so I researched and came upon Dawn beach as the best place to snorkel here. I'd read snorkeling isn't the greatest on St. Maarten, so wasn't expecting much more then a beatiful beach and warm water. I wasn't disappointed! We walked off the ship and to the well organized taxi area of the port to the sign that said Dawn beach. There we paid $7@, but I don't remember if that was rt or each way. Regardless, it was much better then the ship excursion prices. To get back, all we had to do was tell him when to come back. There was also a dispatcher there that called him when we were ready to come back a little earlier then we originally planned. There were people there offering to rent chairs and umbrellas for a few dollars, but we knew we'd be in the water most of the time and declined. One vender came by when we were getting ready to leave, but he was pleasant even though we didn't buy anything. The water was a bit cloudy near the shore, but cleared up out past the water break. Snorkeling wasn't great but still entertaining. We went to the darker area to the right of the above picture and saw a few interesting critters. Back at the port, there's a pretty nice little area of shops and restaurants. Next day we woke up in the port of Castries, St. Lucia. The view from our verandah of the port was beautiful. We headed off the ship to the taxi area again and were directed to one going to Pigeon Island (no longer an island, it was artificially joined to the mainland in 1972). Again we made arrangements for the driver to come back and get us. Our $20@ fare included the $6@ entrance fee into Pigeon Island National Landmark. The island is a historic site with numerous forts such as an 18th century British fort and Fort Rodney both used by the British to spy on French Ships from neighboring Martinique.It had a nice secluded beach here. We had it basically to ourselves for a couple hours before the tours started to arrive (except for the nice lady offering beach chairs for a small fee). Snorkeling here was pretty good. I even swam out to the far point where the Atlantic ocean meets the Caribbean. It was rougher by the ocean, but the Caribbean bay was really smooth. We spent a couple hours snorkeling here. I also spent some time wandering around the ruins of the old fort here. All too soon it was time to go back to the ship. I would have liked to have taken a land tour, but being in port only 6 or 7 hours just doesn't leave enough time to do more then one thing. Our cruise ship did do a scenic narrated tour of the coastline to Soufriere where the Pitons are. The ship stopped here to pick up passengers who did a couple of the excursions that ended here. I enjoyed watching the sunset and seeing the clouds changing colors over the Pitons. The next day we were in Barbados. I had thought we would take the mass transit bus to Folkstone to a marine preserve there, but was told the reserve was pretty far off shore. So I actually did a ship excursion here. As a photographer, the "in-focus" tour sounded good. I figured a photographer would know where the best views of the island were. I was right---this tour was fantastic and possibly worth the $80 I had to pay for it. Ken elected to stay at the port and wander around there. I really fell for this lush little island! Sugar cane was a big producer for them. In recent years, though, sale of sugar has fallen off, but there are still many beautiful plantation houses around the island. We also saw the historic Chattel houses. These houses were built without nails and could be quickly and easily disassembled and moved. Now they own their land and many additions can be seen on the remaining Chattel houses. We spent most of the tour in the Scotland District--a half bowl containing the hilly highlands of Barbados, with a dense, in parts jungle-like vegetation, quite unlike the rest of the island, which is rather flat, deforested, and commonly used for agriculture. Another area we spent a bit of time in was Bethesda. The picturesque coastline reminds me somewhat of the Oregon coastline with palm trees. The next day we were at the port of Martinique. It was much more commecialized then the other islands we went to. They aren't dependant on tourism and it shows. This port was more difficult to do a self excursion on. We had hoped to take a taxi to a beach about 30 minutes away and do some snorkeling. Unfortunately, the taxi drivers here wanted 60 euro/hour and wouldn't just leave and come back. They wanted to be paid for the whole time we snorkeled. We had talked about doing just an hour long taxi ride, then be dropped off at a ferry port to ride over the bay and walk to a beach on the other side since. But the driver then said we had to book him for at least 2 hours. At that point, we took off on foot to the ferry. Along the way, we passed this fort that we saw from our verandah-Fort St. Louis. It is a fortress on a peninsula at Fort-de-France. Today the fort is both an active naval base and a listed historic site of France. We came upon a ferry port and waited in line only to find out that port was for ferries to other islands. The ferry we wanted was another 1/2 mile or so down the road. Another person walking near us had a pedometer on and said the walk was 1.4 miles. We waited about 30 minutes of the ferry which was suppose to run every hour. While waiting, I thought it would be nice to grab a drink from McDonald's across the street. I was surprised to find it closed, along with everything else in the area because it was Sunday. After our 15 minute of so ferry ride which we paid $10/person rt for, we had another walk to the beach. I figure that walk was about another mile. Finally reach the beach. It was pretty. No venders, but lots of little restaurants along the beach. I knew the snorkeling wouldn't be any good, but I was surprised to see there were some critters there. The water was probably about 82 degrees and very calm. We spent a couple hours here. On the way back to the ferry dock, we tried to shop a couple of the shops there that happened to be open. Found out a lot of people there don't speak English or take the US dollar. We did find an ice cream shop that did and I got a Light (not diet) Coke and a soft serve pistachio and mango cone for $7. Don't know what happened with the return ferry, but we waited over an hour for it. Back on the other side, we were walking back when a taxi drove up and said he take us back to the cruise ship for $2. Once we got in, along with a few other people, he made that 2 Euro@. Next day we were in the port of Dominica. We had absolutely no idea what we were doing that day. I had heard of Champagne Reef, but thought it was mainly an area where bubbles were in the water and wasn't sure it would live up to all the hype. The port wasn't much to look at. The info I had said it was the nature island so I figured we'd head off the ship and see if we could find a tour. We headed to the info booth and asked about tours. As an afterthought, I asked about Champagne Reef. She said it was a quick taxi ride and accessible from the beach and was an excellent place to snorkel. So back to the ship we went to change into swimsuits and grab our snorkel gear and head to the taxis. Fortunately there was another couple there waiting, too, so we got to share the taxi cost---which was then $30@ rt. At the destination, we paid a $2@ admittance fee and were led down a boardwalk to the "beach"--made up of rounded rocks. At first I was little concerned, all I saw was a rocky shoreline. Then a tiny sandy opening appeared. Just to the left of the entrance starts the large area where lots of bubbles come up from the bottom of the ocean giving the area it's name. We noticed a tour group was there pretty far out. So we ventured out there, too. That's where we found a fabulous reef! We snorkeled for well over 2 hours. I could have stayed there much longer, but the other 3 were getting anxious to leave. After tipping the taxi driver another $10 and tipping the young man at the entrance to the reef who actually swam out there with us, we ended up spending about $45@, much better then the $80@ fee the ship excursion was and we got to spend more time there. For a day that started out shakey (couldn't find my ship card and went to get another one; I also mistook contac cleaning solution for soaking solution and my eyes didn't like that much) , this turned out to be a fantastic day! The next day we were in port at St. Thomas. Having been here before, we knew the snorkeling was good and had an idea where we wanted to go. We also had rented a car here before and did so again. Pick up was easy----just made our way to the windmill on the port and called Budget for our courtesy pick up. Rental for the day was $45, plus we paid $10 for a supplemental insurance. They do drive on the wrong side of the street there, but my driver didn't do too badly! We had planned to go to Coki beach first, but with the poor road signage, we ended up at Saphire first. I had read Saphire was the place to go for snorkeling, but because of weather had never made it anywhere but to a beach in Cowpet Bay before. Although Saphire was beautiful, we found the snorkeling to be only so-so. After less than an hour at Saphire, we headed to the place our daughter told us about last year at Cowpet Bay. Snorkeling here was excellent again. Even saw some creatures I hadn't seen before. The last beach we had time to go to was Coki Beach. It was gorgeous, but got quite crowded with the cruise ship excursions going here. Also had lots of "waitresses" and venders trying to drum up business. We brought a sandwich and drink from Subway there for a pic nic before we snorkeled and didn't have an problem. We enjoyed snorkeling there for about another hour. The snorkel area really isn't very big, but it was much better then Saphire. By then it was time to head back to the port. Traffic through town took about 30-40 minutes to get through. After 6 port days in a row, the next day was a welcomed sea day! Even though I'm not a big fan of sea days, the day of rest was nice. Althought my plans for sleeping in didn't go so well. Somewhere in the Caribbean waters I encountered what I assume was sea lice---invisible to the eye, larvae or jellyfish or other stinging swimmers---and ended up with an extremely itchy rash. I had this happen before on a couple of our trips to Hawaii (out of about 20 trips to Hawaii), so I wasn't surprised. Apparently they don't bother everyone---like Ken---but they sure like me. Took about 5 days for the itching to subside. At least it happened near the end of our cruise. After our sea day, we had one last port---the HAL private island, Halfmoon cay. We have been here twice before, too, so were looking forward to a restful day at the beach there. We were not disappointed. This was the only port we had to tender to, but that didn't take too much time. We threw our towels and bag on a couple chairs and donned our snorkel gear and headed into the water. There's a little snorkel area by the kids area which we'ld snorkeled before and knew it didn't have much, but we didn't care. We knew the water would feel great. Much to my surprise, the snorkeling this time was considerably better then the last 2 times we were there. We were even able to get all the way to the rock wall to the far left of the bay. Saw a couple cute Caribbean groupers, a rather large gray triggerfish, large octopus, and a school of baracuda! It was another beautiful day on Halfmoon Cay! Even the free bar b q lunch on the beach was good. There were a bunch of birds cleaning up after us, including cute little yellow bellied ones. When we weren't eating or swimming in the water, we wandered around the beach a bit. This was Ken's 4th cruise, my 10th. Other than my first cruise, I haven't had a bad one yet (other than weather). I really enjoyed seeing the new places and revisiting the ones we've been too. we enjoyed it so much, we even did the onboard booking for the ship board credit for the next one. The $200 ship board credit for booking onboard last year and the $100 OBC for having CCL stock came in really handy this year. After gratuities of $12/day@ , the Canelleto dinner, and a couple other items we bought onboard, we only owed $56 when we debarked. Now to start dreaming about where to go next! For basically the same review, but with lots and lots of pictures, check out my blog at: http://travelingwithsue.blogspot.com/2012/11/2012-hal-11-night-caribbean-cruise.html Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2012
I have written several reviews for CC and I always begin by saying: "There is no such thing as a BAD CRUISE" ..... unless of course you were on the Titanic (or other recent fiascos at sea) The more we cruise, the more we ... Read More
I have written several reviews for CC and I always begin by saying: "There is no such thing as a BAD CRUISE" ..... unless of course you were on the Titanic (or other recent fiascos at sea) The more we cruise, the more we learn about ships, crews, cruise lines, itineraries, entertainment, cabins, etc.... so naturally we are more opinionated. If this were my first cruise... I would say WOW. This being my 12th cruise ... I will start by saying... ....I love HAL. Prior to the end of this cruise, we happily put down a deposit for a future cruise. Why? Mainly because HALs overall service meets or exceeds our expectations. If there is a problem, they bend over backwards to try and resolve it for you. The food is very good. There is no nonsense in the way of dining room antics, PA system announcements (that are unnecessary) the cruise director does his job ... and doesn't overstay his welcome. There are lots of interesting people on board and enrichment offerings that other cruise lines don't offer. I guess it's like trying to find the perfect person... you will never be 100% satisfied. Personally we would like it if there was just a little more liveliness on board in the later evening, but it's the passengers of each sailing that determine this. The longer the cruise, the older the passengers. Embarkation: HAL in Ft Lauderdale was swift and easy. We had all our check in documents complete ahead of time and the line moved quickly. (15 minutes at the most around 1:00 pm) The gentlemen who checked us in was friendly and charming and seemed to be working side by side with his other half. When he finished checking us in, he leaned over to share a kiss with the agent next to him who had also just finished checking her passengers in. It was adorable. We boarded before 2:00 pm and were able to go straight to our cabin (unlike many other cruise lines that require you to roam around the Lido deck with your carry on baggage until the cabins are ready). Cabin: This was our 2nd aft veranda cabin. Previously we were on deck 4. We love the aft cabin experience. Watching the seas off the back of the ship is wonderful. Going northbound you get a lot of sun out there (and a little bit of ash from the ships stacks!) What we did not factor in when we booked this cabin was that on the Navigation deck (8) under the Lido deck, there is a lot of noise in the mornings and the afternoons when the deck chairs are being brought out and rearranged. There was also a noise that we never identified. My husband is a very light sleeper and if he wakes up he is up for hours. There was some kind of noise that was an intermittent loud bang. We ruled out doors slamming, chairs being dropped, toilets flushing. It would happen all through the day and night but not at regular intervals. We reported it to the front desk and they bent over backwards trying to figure it out. Short of having a crew member camp out in our room, there was no way to tell what it was. For 4 days we kept trying to explain it and finally gave up. The front desk was very apologetic and sent us a bottle of wine as a gesture of goodwill. In the end we think it may have had something to do with the HVAC system relieving itself of some pressure or the Lido pool/spa filtration system. That was our only cabin complaint. On the good side .. Our bathroom was spacious enough for a bathtub which I used on several occasions . We did notice there was a little less counter space than we would have liked and we wished we had booked a cabin with a full sized eating table on the deck. Next time. Cabin Stewards: Weebee and Hadi from the Philippines were about as good as they come. They were always there when we needed them. They kept our rooms in tip top shape, kept our ice bucket full and their ability to communicate with us was a welcome treat. By day 2 they remembered our names, even if we saw them way down the hall or around the corner away from the cabin they associated us with. Amazing. It took us 4 days to remember their 2 names. Kudos. I will say that I think it's time for the Noordam to change out the carpeting. Cocktails: We preplanned this trip to enjoy cocktails in our cabin and ordered through HAL the gin and tonic package and a bottle of vodka. One bottle showed up, the other we had to call the front desk to remind them of our order, but it arrived shortly thereafter. Of course we did not finish either bottle, but it was nice to mix a cocktail each evening before going to the dining room and enjoy them on our balcony. We also pre ordered the Navigator wine package. 10 nights - 5 bottles of wine worked perfectly for us. We still took advantage of the lounges about the ship. On sail away day we had champagne at the Atrium Bar "hip hip hooray" before our life boat drill, we had a bucket of cold beer (5 for the price of 4) on the night of Lido Deck Party, Pina Coladas at the Crows Nest one afternoon, Kir Royal and Cognac another evening before my husband enjoyed a cigar in the Oak Room. I thought the drink prices on this cruise were fair. My only pet peeve about cocktails on ships these days (not exclusive to HAL) is that I detest drinking out of plastic glasses and stemware. I know it's a safety issue, but I heard quite a few coffee cups in the Lido dining room hit the floor and break .. so why use plastic for cocktails? For me, it deters me from wanting to buy one outside. I like to be treated like an adult. (note to self: next cruise I plan on asking my cabin steward to empty out the servi-bar completely so we can use it for keeping our own things chilled. (including suntan lotion!) Sail Away: We dropped our bags and went to the Lido for a late lunch. There were plenty of options for my husband. I was dieting and also found a wonderful salad bar. I only wish there were more fat free salad dressing options. As I mentioned above, we had champagne in the Atrium Bar "hip hip hooray" before the life boat drill. The drill was conducted on promenade deck and quite efficiently (especially following recent events on the seas) It would have gone very quickly if it hadn't been for 3 cabins who had to be paged repeatedly to show up. 48 hour rule: HAL now does a hands-off policy for the first 48 hours of a cruise. The buffet in the Lido is not self serve until after 48 hours have passed. Salt and pepper shakers are off the tables and you must use paper packets and they have staff to serve you from the buffet, coffee, water, iced tea machines. Frankly I would be thrilled if they kept this policy the entire cruise. (The things you see at a buffet line!!) I asked a crew member and he told me it takes 6 extra crew to serve the buffet rather than have it self serve. Small price to pay for keeping an outbreak of Norovirus. Pools: Much to my surprise the aft pool was fresh water. I never stepped into the main pool, but I am guessing it was also fresh water. By the end of 10 days it did look like it needed to be drained as it got a little murky. The aft hot tubs were about 100-101 degrees. One worked, the one on port side had no bubbles. These aft tubs and pool are supposed to be Adults Only. There were a few kids in the tub on the first couple of days. I hate to be the cranky lady who complains, but I really don't understand why parents can't respect this signage. We also mentioned this to the front desk and it seemed to stop occurring after a few days. There weren't that many children on this cruise, but I just don't like getting into a hot tub when kids are splashing around. It's a place for adults to congregate and enjoy adult conversation and adult beverages. My suggestion to HAL is to post better signage by the entrance to the hot tubs and enforce the rules. Towels: On the plus side ...... Ship towels were available at the pool, both main and aft, on the Promenade deck and on disembarking to shore. They were freely available. Not distributed with a sign out sheet. (again, I like being treated like an adult). On the minus side, when we anchored at Half Moon Cay and tendered in, they were completely out of towels. We assumed there would be towels on the beach and there were not. So we spent the day on the beach with no towels. Greenhouse Spa: We signed up for the week of Thermal Suites. I love this and it offers you a chance to use the Hydro Therapy Pool (aka the hot tub with no kids). I think it is over priced, but I am willing to spend the money. (perfect marketing strategy!!) We also had a couples massage on the second sea day. It was really nice, but when it was over they push you to buy another service and we were caught up in the moment and did. Later that week our sunburns prevented us from desiring another massage, so we cancelled and they were kind enough to do that without charge. We gave them 24 hrs... or close to it. I also had a Fire and Ice Pedicure. It was very nice and after a 10 day cruise and a week home, my nail polish still has not chipped! Dining: We had main seating 8:00 p.m. in the Vista Dining Room on the upper floor, table #56. For some reason I never learned the name of our head waiter. I recognized him, but his name did not stick. He was very nice and remembered after the first night that we enjoy an espresso and a cappuccino after dinner and we never had to ask again. The menu each night was different and varied and I liked that they had items each night that were available if you did not want to venture off the beaten path. I always enjoy trying all the exotic soups (hot and chilled) they are wonderful and the escargot and caviar and seared delicacies they offer. Sometimes we order two of something or have special requests and they are always pleased to indulge our gluttony. We dined in the Vista Dining Room 6 nights. The food ranged from very good to not so good. First night's prime rib was undercooked to order and very thin. Some of the seared items were room temperature and some chilled appetizers had been sitting out too long.Also the service was slow between the last appetizer and the entree and so slow a few nights that we missed the show if we stayed for dessert. Again, I would love it if HAL would offer some healthier choices. Wine Steward: Also I did not remember his name. He was efficient and never lost our wines even as we moved to different dining rooms throughout the cruise. We don't like our wines poured in the glass in large quantities. We like "an inch" of wine so that we can swirl and open up the flavors. It always takes 3-4 days for us to convince our wine stewards of this. I think they just want you to finish the bottle so you can feel like you need another. Pinnacle: $25 extra per person. We have done this before and enjoyed it. The decor and service exceeds that of the dining room, but the choices and quality of the food were not overly superior this time. I had Steak Diane and mushrooms, but when I asked for a lobster for us to split, the answer was no .. unless we wanted to pay extra for the entree. It wasn't much $10, but it seemed petty. We have eaten in other "specialty" restaurants and never heard of this. We rarely ask for 2 of anything, but from time to time you can't decide what to order or want to try something. It's standard operating procedure to order this way in the Vista dining room. The amount of waste that goes on in the Lido could save a small country. Le Cirque: $39 extra per person. We had pre reserved this before the cruise. It was paid for or else we would have cancelled it after the Pinnacle experience. Supposedly the dining room was to be "transformed into the legendary Le Cirque of New York" ... all we noticed was the change of the china and linens. The menu was about the same as the Pinnacle in choice and quality. Don't get me wrong.. it tasted pretty darn good, but in our opinion it definitely did not warrant $78 + gratuity. We can get that at home. We did meet a really nice couple both nights while dining and the service is much more attentive, but I think next time we might only try the Pinnacle. Canaletto: No extra charge, reservations only. On the Lido at the end of the Lido buffet. Linen covered tables and personal service. The food is prepared and set up behind one of the Lido buffet areas, but not available for self service. The food was fabulous, piping hot and the service was wonderful. I think the waiters there are hoping to work their way out of the Lido and into the main dining room, so they work extra hard to be friendly. We found this to be the same in the Lido all hours of the day. Very friendly wait and service staff. Breakfast: Room Service: We ordered room service 3 times and it always came right on time and exactly what we ordered. You can actually order a full breakfast. The coffee was not very good in our opinion, but we classify ourselves as coffee snobs. Lido: Lido had lots of choices, poached eggs for eggs Benedict, waffles, omelet chef, and standard scrambled eggs and meats, oatmeal, and even some ethnic choices from Asia. Vista Dining Room: Plenty of choices, but each day we were told the wait for an omelet would be 30-45 minutes. We could never figure that out. We usually had eggs Benedict or oatmeal, fresh fruit, etc. Coffee was slow and rarely refilled without seeking out a waiter and asking for it. Other foods: There was a pretty good sushi bar in the afternoon offering maki and noodles. The Lido BBQ Party was fun and we ate like we were planning for a famine that night. It was perfect weather and the smells got the best of me.... I blew my diet that night! Entertainment: We enjoyed the HAL singers and dancers on 2 nights, a magician/comedian another night, a fabulous violinist another night. We always found a seat in the show. We went to the late show and it was never full. We skipped a few nights and went to try other venues of entertainment. The Adagio Strings were a nice touch, but we did not enjoy the dance music of the HAL Cats or the folk music in the Crows Nest Lounge. The Northern Lights played the usual popular fare, but the crowds were nonexistent after 11:00 pm. The whole ship basically shuts down at 11:00 except for the Northern Lights Club and the casino. The Piano Bar was full each night. The piano man was quite talented as a pianist and a singer, but a little too full of himself and over-the-top for my taste. I don't recall hearing much of the pool band, we must have been on the other side of the ship while they were playing. Normally the main pool would have the noise and the music and the aft pool (adults only) would be more mellow and quiet. This cruise the music was in the aft pool. Activities: We watched a movie one night in the Culinary Arts Center with popcorn and we attended part of a demonstration on how to make creme br'lee ... very interesting. Public Rooms: The Explorers Lounge is wonderful. Huge library you can check books out, magazines, puzzles. Someday I will take a long enough cruise that I won't feel guilty for spending time down here out of the sun. Restrooms throughout the ship: Nicely appointed and always clean Casino: What can you say about a casino? You win some. You lose some. We did both and enjoyed our time spent there. Special shout out to Rey who was training to be a dealer but spent most of his time in the cashiers cage. Very personable and entertaining. We enjoyed having fun with you each night! Cruise Director: Shane. Great job. I love a cruise director who actually does their job without being annoying over the PA system. He had funny jokes to start his introductions out to other entertainers and had the perfect blend of information and not being overbearing. Kudos. Mariners Society: Very nice upgrade from the usual champagne toast and canape ... to a full on luncheon in the Vista Dining room. Excellent. Cocktails with the Captain: We aren't sure why we were invited, but we attended a really nice cocktail party toward the end of the cruise in the Crows Nest Lounge. We had actual one-on-one conversations with the Captain John Scott as well as his lovely wife and the 2nd in command, hotel manager and other officers. Shore Calls: Getting off and off the ship was very organized and easy in port. Even on the tender days the wait was short. Half Moon Cay: Wonderful day. Only wish they had not run out of towels before we left the ship. Medical Center: We did stop by here once because of a sting my husband got while snorkeling in Bonaire. It was irritating him and the nurse looked at it and advised us to return when the ships doctor was back at 5:00 pm, but we didn't return as the sting began to dissipate. Friendly, good service. Disembarkation: Easy. We had a shore excursion booked on the ship and then to the airport Thank you HAL for another memorable cruise. Time to start planning our next sailing Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
This cruise on the Noordam was my 22nd cruise and 1st with Holland America. I chose this cruise specifically for the itinerary and for the ship, which was very-well reviewed in two cruise guides. My husband and I are scuba divers and we ... Read More
This cruise on the Noordam was my 22nd cruise and 1st with Holland America. I chose this cruise specifically for the itinerary and for the ship, which was very-well reviewed in two cruise guides. My husband and I are scuba divers and we loved that this cruise would take us to many great diving destinations. I was somewhat concerned that we would be the youngest people on the ship (I am 47 and my husband is 41) and that would be awkward for us. However, my fears were totally unfounded. We had a great time and want to share our experience for others who may be considering this line, this ship or itinerary. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale the same day that our cruise departed and arrived at the ship around 3:15 pm for a 5:00 pm departure. We flew Jet Blue from Richmond, VA and were very pleased with the airline, the service and the flight itself. When we got to the terminal, it was empty and we sailed through our check-in. We boarded, went to our cabin, freshened up and took a quick stroll before the muster drill. The muster drill went as they all do, no one listening and people refusing to move an inch for passengers trying to fit into their assigned section. After the drill, we went to the Lido Grill to get a snack. We then went to our cabin verandah to watch the ship depart from port and to unpack. We purchased the unlimited laundry package and immediately sent much of our clothing to be pressed. We then went to explore the ship and get our bearings as to where the casino, shopping, dining rooms, etc. were. I liked the understated elegance of the ship. Although some areas did get a little too close to the New Orleans bordello style of decorating that many lines seem to emulate, the Noordam's interior spaces were usually pleasing to the eye and not garish or overdone. The first night, all of my husband's trousers, dress shirts and jackets were being pressed, so we went to the Lido for dinner. This buffet style restaurant had good food and an amazing variety of offerings. It was not gourmet dining, but was completely acceptable. We purchased soda and beverage cards ahead of time, so we found it easy to get bar service. Later that evening, we went to the casino to play the tables. We started with 3 Card Poker and I proceeded to do nicely, getting my first Straight Flush of the cruise that night. We loved the casino staff and dealers and the fun we had with them the first night continued through out the cruise. We also met some great people with whom we would end up spending a lot of our cruise. The next day, we went to the private island of Holland America (which I understand they share with other lines under the CCL umbrella)! But on that day, we were the only ship there. The day started out cloudy with drizzle, as often happens in the Caribbean, but the sun soon came out. The island was surrounded by absolutely gorgeous turquoise water and white Sand beaches. There was a little shopping village which was not very impressive, but the beaches were great. We took our snorkeling gear and jumped in the water. The sea life was very minimal, but we enjoyed being in the water. We found quite a few sand dollars which we gave to some of the children on the beach. I found two beer cans underwater and proceeded to carry them to the trashcan. To my surprise, something moved against my hand, and looking down at the can, I found a tiny octopus glaring at me, annoyed that I was trying to throw away his place of residence! I quickly escorted my new buddy back to the water, with his beer can home, but he climbed out and swam away as I gently placed him back in the water. That was really cool! The island BBQ was okay, but nothing to write home about. We enjoyed our day relaxing at the beach, saw some friends from the casino and hung out with them. We headed back to the ship by tender and got ready for our first formal night. That evening, we got all dressed up and went to the dining room. I had brought 6 bottles of wine aboard with us, so we took one of those with us for dinner. The wine steward promptly corked and recanted the wine for us with no fuss. Dinner was nice, again not exceptional but good, with formal service, varied selections and an attentive waitstaff. We requested open dining, so we sat at a table with 4 lovely seniors from Florida. That evening, we returned to the casino and I was dealt yet another Straight Flush AND 3 Of a kind! We had a great time! The next day we went to the Turks and Caicos and my husband and I went diving. I found the dive shop on the Internet, and while they had good reviews, we found them to be disorganized and not safety conscious. We enjoyed the dive and saw some great sea-life, including spear fishing of several lion fish. We would not dive with Grand Turk Diving again. After our dive, the dive shop dropped us off on the beach right near where our cruise ship was docked. After stowing our gear and a quick shower, we went to Margaritaville for drink and a snack. The food was only mediocre, but we picked up the requisite t-shirts for friends and family members. We liked the island and would like to return for more diving and exploring. We returned to the ship, rested awhile, went to dinner and this time, we had a table to ourselves. The food was again good, and we took one of our wines to drink. We went to the casino, and I got not one, but two Straight Flushes at the three card poker table! The next day, we went to La Samana, Dominican Republic. We did not dive, but chose to hang out with some friends from the ship. We disembarked the tender and booked an island tour. The tour was disappointing. I have been to the DR many times, but the people have become bitter and entitled, nagging the crap out of you for money, completely ruining any chance of fun for you. I will not soon waste my time going to the DR again. We boarded the ship early in the afternoon, glad to be back on board. We booked an evening at The Pinnacle Grill, so after a late lunch, we rested, watched a movie and got ready for dinner. We met our friends at Happy Hour and enjoyed cocktails and appetizers with them before dinner. Our dinner at the Pinnacle Grill Was wonderful. I brought a wonderful bottle of wine to drink and we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner. My husband had Onion soup gratinee', I an amazing goat cheese salad, he a huge steak and I had lobster, with asparagus and fabulous potatoes, chocolate souffle and creme brulée, wonderful bread, Amuse Bouche, delicious petit-fours, aromatic and rich coffee. We could barely move when finished. If you are considering this as an add-on to your cruise, do it! On our next Holland Cruise, we may choose to dine there every evening! After dinner, off to the casino, as usual, but Lady Luck was nowhere to be found. My husband switched to blackjack and I continued with poker. We still had a great evening! The next day we spent at sea, relaxing, playing team trivia, sitting by the pool and just enjoying the unbelievably blue water as it went by, watching the flying fish skim the water, escaping the bow by sailing off of the ship's pressure waves. Dinner in the formal dining room again, this time, sitting next to all of our friends and at a table with a lovely Dutch couple from Canada onboard to celebrate their 63rd anniversary. Back to the casino, no big wins, but another night of fun! Our next port of call was Curacao, where we left the ship early for a dive trip. Our dive operator sent a truck for us and we went straightaway to the dive shop, located near the Marriott and Hilton hotels. We boarded our dive boat and headed around the island for about one hour to our dive location. We had a great first dive and after our surface interval, the boat dropped us off near the dive shop for an unguided second dive. We surfaced and walked up on the beach at the dive shop. A nice fellow diver offered to give us a ride into town, which we gratefully accepted. He was staying at the nearby Marriott, an upscale and beautiful resort that we definitely will visit on our return to Curacao. We enjoyed our ride back to the cruise terminal, over the very high bridge that dominates the skyline of Willemstad. We promised to buy our friend a drink after we cleaned up, so we agreed upon a meeting place and time and headed back to the ship for a shower and quick snack. Getting back off the ship, we instantly fell in love with the beautiful and colorful Willemstad. We walked through the shops and boutiques near the Renaissance Hotel and into the lovely old fort, also filled with shops, bars and cafes. We met our friend and a few others at the bar called The Sopranos and enjoyed hearing about everyone's day. After awhile, we bade our friends farewell and briefly explored the area. As we were staying late, we decided to eat at a local restaurant for a change of pace. A lovely couple from Pittsburgh that we met while diving were staying at the Renaissance and said that the restaurant was very good. So, we ate dinner there. After our Latino/Caribbean feast, we waddled back on board shortly before it was time to depart Curacao. We will definitely return to this paradise! Casino and then to bed! Bonaire, a diver's dream, was the next island we visited. We departed the ship early in the morning, took a taxi and headed out the the dive shop, run by a laid back guy from the Netherlands named Bart. What a great guy! His shop is right on the edge of the water, where you suit up, walk off the beach and dive into an underwater zoo unlike anything I have ever seen. Fabulous corals (so much purple!) and such an abundance and variety of sea life! After our first dive with Bart, we lunched at the beach bar next store, where we tried biterballen which was a local Dutch appetizer and a sausage like thing, both of which were awful, but hey, we tried it! After lunch, we suited up for an unguided dive with just the two of us and had a wonderful time. We hated to leave this underwater dreamland, but we had to get back to the ship, before it took off without us. That night, we dined on board ship, with our friends at the Italian restaurant, Canaletto. The service was horrible and I developed a head cold, which precluded my tasting anything. After dinner, I went to bed early, desperately hoping to feel better, so as not to miss the dive in Aruba. Unfortunately, the next morning, my head and ears were a mess, so we had to cancel our dive. I slept in and after a late breakfast, we went ashore to sample Aruba. We wandered around, shopped and ate sushi for lunch. We talked to some deep sea fishing boat captains about trips for wahoo and marlin on our next visit. This port is very much tourist oriented, but it was still quite charming nonetheless, with an endless variety of things to do and see. Interestingly, by the end of the day, I was able to breathe much easier and began to feel better. We went onboard late afternoon and I took a nap and my husband went to have a cigar. That evening, we had dinner reservations at the Evening at Le Cirque in the Pinnacle Grille. I forgot to bring wine, so based on a suggestion by the sommelier, we tried Chateau St. Michele Cold Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. It was amazing and one of my new Favs. We both enjoyed our meal so much...I had one of the best soups I have ever eaten, a butternut squash pureed soup with sun-dried tomato concasse, with creme Fraiche. My lamb chops were the BEST I have ever eaten, perfectly cooked, moist, tender and flavorful. My husband had an incredible blueberry soup, and a pork chop cooked to utter perfection. Absolutely scrumptious! Again, we would highly recommend this to anyone! I skipped the casino and went to bed again early, hoping my cold would completely go away. Hubby went to the casino and played with our friends. The next day, we were at sea all day, headed north toward the USA. We slept in, had a leisurely breakfast and went to the pool. We lazed around, talked to our friends, ate lunch and then we went for a couple's massage. The Noordam has a lovely spa and gym for anyone who wants those services. We checked in to the spa, wearing our stateroom robes, as everyone on the ship does. And were ushered into the relaxation room. This room has lounges upon which you recline, listen to spa music(this one played a lot of Japanese meditation rhythms) and sipped cranberry juice while we awaited our massage therapists. They came to escort us into our couples massage room and when we got settled, we had a wonderful massage. The only part I hated was after the massage, the high pressure sales pitch started, trying to get you to purchase all of their products. I immediately told them to stop and they obliged, thankfully! We then booked another couples massage for the next day. Another formal night and cocktails and dinner with friends. We bought our tablemates a cake for their anniversary and they seemed genuinely touched. Off to the casino and then to bed. The next day was somewhat a repeat of the prior day, but at 10:30 am, we were invited to a bloody Mary party in a beautiful suite, by some of our new Friends, a lovely older couple from Connecticut who were veteran cruisers. They were gracious hosts and it was a lovely time together, as we all exchanged e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Later, we for our massages, I booked a hot stone massage and my husband a deep tissue massage. Utterly relaxed, we went to dinner, drank our last bottle of wine and kissed our table mates goodbye. We went to the casino, and I got my last Straight Flush of the cruise. What a way to end the evening and the cruise! We kissed everyone goodbye and went to bed for one final night. The next morning, we got room service and disembarkation went very smoothly, with not much of a wait at all. We had a great time! Why? Because we love meeting new people and are genuinely interested in them. We researched everything about our trip...there were no big surprises and many times we were touched by the kindness of a fellow traveler or the thoughtfulness of a crew member. We don't expect everything to be like it is in the USA...that is WHY we travel. We also understand that every moment we are blessed to be on a cruise is a moment to be cherished. Special things...a cool towel and drink always awaits you at the end of the gangway before getting on board, fresh flowers everywhere, clean, clean, clean ship, hardly any bratty kids and no out of sight parents, no hairy legs contests, no limbo dancing, a great mix of Europeans (guten schlafen), Brits, Canadians and Americans, wonderful staff (a shout out to the beautiful cocktail waitresses Jackie and Danielle, Bartender Ronald, cabin steward Widi and casino team, Evgeny, Sleeve-ester, the polish assassin, the Ninja, Dracula, and so many more, whose names I can't recall now), a cigar bar where my husband could relax, a stateroom that was always spotless, fantastic coffee, speedy room service, great laundry and pressing service, flaky pan au chocolates every morning...... Things that I did not like...sometimes bar service in the Lido was slow. It was sometimes difficult finding a lounge by the pool. They did not have Ginger Beer in the bar for our favorite drink, Dark and Stormys. The spa relaxation room was under a deck where chairs were constantly being scraped across the floor...not very relaxing. The high pressure sales pitch in the spa. Just book it. Do it now. You won't regret it.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2011
We were not disappointed.We were on board the Noordam by 1145 in the morning and we were able to enter our clean and and comfortable room as soon as we boarded. The first people we met were Anwar and Budi, our room stewards--- with out a ... Read More
We were not disappointed.We were on board the Noordam by 1145 in the morning and we were able to enter our clean and and comfortable room as soon as we boarded. The first people we met were Anwar and Budi, our room stewards--- with out a doubt they set the mood for our entire cruise. These gentlemen always smiled, had a happy greeting and had our room straightened lickity split. My husband and I chose to have all our meals on the Lido dining room or pool side. We found that dinner time was quieter, the service was just as professional and we had the choice of how much or how little we wanted to eat. Meals were delicious! We loved Eli. She served our meals with such verve and energy, that gal was always happy. We located the bars that had 2 for 1 each evening, our favorite was the Pinnacle and our favorite mixologist was Alphonso. He makes the best Gimlet! My husband took advantage of the computer classes daily. I attended one or two classes with him and found that Jason has a great ability to teach even the most computer illiterate (me). Good job!! There was plenty to do on board, I took advantage of the cooking and craft classes when I wasn't reading. Our room had a veranda, it was a lovely place to just chill out and read. I simply just can't say enough about the staff aboard the Noordam-- all were so nice and helpful. Captain Hans had to cancel one of our ports because of the wind, he let his guests know why and that he had the safety of all aboard in mind. Read Less
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

Find a Noordam Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise