17 Holland America Noordam Holiday Cruise Reviews

The reason we choose this cruise, well just to be away from the family for a change over the Christmas & New Year and we were not disappointed The ship & crew were fantastic, the food again was really, really great with plenty ... Read More
The reason we choose this cruise, well just to be away from the family for a change over the Christmas & New Year and we were not disappointed The ship & crew were fantastic, the food again was really, really great with plenty to choose from The ship was decked out in Christmas decorations & New years eve was a blast, with great entertainment on the Lido pool deck Fiji was not to our liking due to the locals being a little over the top. Mystery Island was a blessing however. Maybe we should have done some shore excursions as some of the other passengers did and were very pleased with their decision. Also met up with some great passengers and had a very good time. We had a great choice of food with goose for Christmas eve & the Pinnacle grill was fantastic with great food & service. To sum it up, we loved the cruise, the staff, the service and the people. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
My wife and I decided on a last minute cruise at Christmas time, and had a great deal on the December 23rd sailing of the msNoordam out of Ft. Lauderdale. We flew to FLL and spent the night at the Crowne Plaza, only one mile from both the ... Read More
My wife and I decided on a last minute cruise at Christmas time, and had a great deal on the December 23rd sailing of the msNoordam out of Ft. Lauderdale. We flew to FLL and spent the night at the Crowne Plaza, only one mile from both the airoprt and the port. We booked a guarantted cat VH stateroom and were upgraded to a cat VD stateroom (4053) and loved it. I had read some discouraging reviews about how the HAL had slipped in terms of service, but thankfully we did not find that the case at all. We had sailed on the msVeendam in 2003 and 2004 and this trip was every bit as good as our last expereiences, which we both rated 9 out of 10. The service, the food and the people we met during the cruise all made for wonderful memories that we will cherish for years to come. We visited the Bahamas (Half Moon Cay) and it was the most beautiful beach we have ever been to. We walked the beach, took a swim and enjoyed the fabulous barbeque; all of it at no cost. The next day we were at sea (Christmas day) and theere was plenty of holiday spirit throughout the ship. The next day we were in port at Falmouth, Jamaica and the market square was nice but we felt very uncomfortable outsidet the gated village area (the locals are way too aggressive and most everyone we spoke to found that to be the case). The rest of the cruise was spent visiting the Cayman Islands (Georgetown, Grand Cayman) and Key West, FL and we enjoyed our coach tours around the various points of interest. The entertainment on board was first class except for the lead singer of one of the bands, but the highlight was the BB King tribute band whom were terrific and that we saw their show on three different nights. I love sailing on HAL and believe they offer the best in class of any mid-sized cruise liner. 1915 passengers and a crew of 800 suits me and my wife just fine, and despite what you hear, there are folks of every age on board although it is an older versius younger crowd that you will likely find on board. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Embarking was a breeze - good start. Cabin 4010 - very nice, balcony cabin- clean and spacious. Room attendants greeted us and provided a card with their names and contact details. I was very disappointed that the ship had no ... Read More
Embarking was a breeze - good start. Cabin 4010 - very nice, balcony cabin- clean and spacious. Room attendants greeted us and provided a card with their names and contact details. I was very disappointed that the ship had no "wow" factor, compared to 2 Royal Carribbean Ships I have sailed on - it was very boring,no fabulous staircase or art work to look at. The meals in the a la carte restaurant were excellent along with the service. No problems getting served at the bars. The croupiers in the casino were pretty dull and one of them kept making mistakes. The entertainment was dire - especially for Xmas - very much same old same old as the singers stayed with the ship, unlike RC where they fly in and out. One of the singers should really not have been there. I have to say, in the end, we stopped going to the shows but went on the last night and it was just as bad. Photographers were terrible - we had some formal shots done, only one was full length and showed off my lovely new long gown but sadly the faces were out of focus. In one really nice photo I had my eyes closed and the photographer told me that they were not closed - in the print, my eyes were closed! Didn't buy any photos as they were poor. Shore excursions were very "tourist trap based". Diving excursion got cancelled as their boat had broken down, so we found a dive centre ourselves and dived - for half the cost the ship was charging. Internet is ridiculously priced - don't understand why they charge so much. No good for teenagers trying to study. Very helpful and friendly staff all round the ship without exception. I would not recommend this cruise line for families with older teenagers - the no alcohol rule was not such an issue - although it was a shame they were not allowed to join us with some champagne on Xmas day - but there was nothing for them to do in the evening - this ship better suits the older generation. Disembarkation again was a breeze - very good and efficient. We won't use this cruise line again as it does not have the glamour appeal that you would expect on a cruise ship - no champagne on Xmas Day and poor entertainment….. RC here we come…..   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Noordam 21 day Christmas, New Years Caribbean cruise Getting to the ship We flew from San Francisco to Ft Lauderdale on JetBlue nonstop overnight getting into Ft Lauderdale at around 7:30am the day before the cruise. We like the ... Read More
Noordam 21 day Christmas, New Years Caribbean cruise Getting to the ship We flew from San Francisco to Ft Lauderdale on JetBlue nonstop overnight getting into Ft Lauderdale at around 7:30am the day before the cruise. We like the overnight flight because it allows for a full day of hanging out on the beach and getting a good night's sleep the day before the cruise. We usually stay at the Extended Stay hotel on the 17th st. Causeway because they have four things we like, 1. they have free airport pickup, 2. they have a free shuttle to the ships the hotel is 1 block for the port, 3. they have a kitchen in the room, and 4. it's close enough to the beach that we can easily walk there. There are also plenty of stores and restaurants nearby. The Noordam The ship is in great shape! Most everything was clean and shiny. I had an obstructed ocean view cabin on deck 4. The great thing about these cabins on deck 4 is the window is floor to ceiling so you get lots of light and this particular cabin has the backend of a smaller lifeboat in front of the window of which I could see over the top and the back so my view was good, I could see lots of the water as well as any land we were going by. On deck 1 the ocean view cabin are not obstructed and the window is the usual square window which was about a quarter the size of ours. I usually always get an obstructed ocean view cabin in between lifeboats and the view is always good and the price was right, in fact the price was great since this was both a Christmas day and new year's day cruise and it was the regular price. I compared it to the Emerald Princess 20 day cruise that had similar ports and dates and it was $1,000.00 more per person! All the cruise lines usually jack up the price during the holidays so I was surprised to see this one at the regular price! My cabin was always clean and well maintained, one thing that seemed a bit strange was that the room steward wasn't filling up the soap dispenser in the shower. I ended up calling the front desk twice to get some more soap. When I saw him he said he was having a hard time getting soap as they were low on it. If that's the real reason then management isn't doing their job! The other thing that was a bit out of the ordinary was that we had come back from an excursion at 2:30pm and our room hadn't been made up. One thing different about HA and Princess is that HA doesn't have any big carts in the hallways, the room attendants work in pairs and carry around small handheld containers with supplies rather than a whole cart that blocks half of the isle on Princess ships. Throughout the entire ship in all of the passenger hallways there are black and white photos of various HA ships from past to present, along with pictures of the insides of ships, some ports and shipyards, along with lots of paintings of Venice. It was always a pleasure to walk down any of the corridors and view the pictures, I frequently went of different decks to get to my cabin so I could look at all of the photos. You get a great feeling for what HA is all about. The public rooms are great; We saw all of the shows in the main theater and never had a problem finding a great seat. The ship is set up to feel more like a small ship. Compared to either the Coral or the Island Princess which are similar in size the Noordams public rooms are smaller as is the atrium. The promenade deck is nice and wide similar to that of the Queen Mary 2. The Food Since I have food allergies I ate both breakfast and lunch at the Lido buffet every day. For breakfast I usually have fruit and hot cereal of which there is always an abundant supply of. The fruit was always fresh, ripe and delicious. For lunch I made a huge salad of which there was a great salad bar always full of a variety of veggies to choose from. The hot food was plentiful and good. The food in the buffet is as good as Princess. The Lido buffet area gets very crowded at breakfast and lunch time and a line forms that moves quite slowly. Part of the slow line problem is they need to put another staff member on the line to help everyone get their food faster and they need to expand the hot food area, there is a lot of wasted space on the counter. (Princess has remodeled their buffet and they have taken the toast, bread and dessert area and put it in the eating area making it much easier and quicker getting your food). The isle space is too small to handle all the people so there is a lot of bumping going on. I'd like to talk to the designer and find out how they came up with this floor plan. The other problem was the service in the buffet indoor and outdoor seating. The main thing I noticed is the lack of staff. Princess has quite a bit more staff keeping the tables clean at all times and they always make sure I have some lemonade. I usually ate both breakfast and lunch out on the back deck and had to find my own silverware numerous times while staff members were standing around talking to themselves or trying to sell me a "bar" drink. I took a cruise on the Eurodam 3 years ago and found the same problem on that ship as well. I had read about this on cruise critic for the Eurodam 3 years ago and it's still happening on the Noordam as well. I asked one of the "bar" waiters for some lemonade and they said I had to get it myself, on Princess they always got me some lemonade no matter who I asked. It also took a while to clear the tables They are very good about asking you if you want some drinks from the bar, that was never a problem. I think with a bit more training the staff would be able to provide the "Signature of Excellence" service HA boasts about. I would think the management would want the whole ship to shine brightly. For dinner we always ate in the main dining room at the earlier seating. The Rembrandt dining room is nicely done although the isles are a bit cramped. All the dinners were great every night. I order a special salad, sauteed vegetables and a yam for each night, while choosing between the various fish, lamb steak and chicken items. For dessert I either had a bowl of berries, or they made me an Apple Tart Tatin. One of the great things about cruising is that you can get almost anything you want when it comes to food, if you ask they will make it for you. The service in the dining room varied, we started downstairs and found the service was hit or miss. Downstairs is the "as you wish dinning" area. On the third day we went upstairs to the traditional seating and had great service from day one, a much better experience. Downstairs the first waiter we had was very slow in getting the food to the table. The second waiter was better although the times varied as to how long it took to get our food. The waiter said the kitchen was slow at times and that was the reason for the delay. Upstairs was always a pleasure, our head waiter was exceptional at getting us everything we wanted and on time. The terrace grill is great with a nice selection of hamburgers, turkey burgers, lamb burgers, and salmon burgers along with hot dogs and fries. The problem with the Terrace Grill is that the opening to it is too small and they put a huge display of the food in the middle of it so it's hard to see and talk to the servers and cooks making the food. I especially enjoy the lamb burgers and had one every day without the bun. What I noticed was the staff needs some more English lessons and the display needs to removed. Almost no one ever looked at the displays to make their choices, they looked at the sign board or knew what they wanted before making their order. The staff behind the counter would consistently get the order wrong or have to ask again and again what everyone wanted, some passengers were very frustrated with this back and forth confusion. The solution is to get rid of the displays and have the staff take some more English lessons, all very doable at little or no cost to HAL and with a big benefit. I was there every day at lunchtime for 21 days and I saw the same thing going on every day. Entertainment The HAL dancers did a good job with their shows and the, singers, pianists, comedians and magicians were all fabulous! We saw all of the shows. The theater is great from just about any seat. The other entertainment throughout the ship was great as well. Spa and Gym We used the gym about 15 times - We lift weights and there were no real problems waiting for the machines or the dumbells. The equipment was enough for us to do maintenance workouts. We was there at 3-5pm and there was never any waiting for equipment. Everything was clean and worked! The spa area is mostly a "pay for it" item. If you want to use a locker they are in the pay zone and the "complimentary" sauna is tiny! In the mornings we walked the Promenade deck for an hour everyday and never use the elevators. We only gained 1 pounds on this entire trip. Excursions I booked all my tours through HA before getting on the ship for peace of mind regarding schedules and getting back to the ship on time. If it's a HA tour, they'll wait for you if it's late getting back to the ship. We were usually always right on schedule, arriving spot on time at every port. We took snorkel trips at most of the islands and they were always fun. All in all the process was organized and smooth. All the tours were right on time and everyone was very helpful in making sure we all had a great time. The Captain was great at giving a 12:55pm update on our progress. He also informed us as to our course when heading out of each port. The weather was good for most of the trip, calm and warm, mostly sunny, with some rain in Bonaire.. On deck 9 you can get out on the front of the ship and see everything up close and personal, it's a great place for viewing coming into ports as well as leaving. Disembarkation On the mornings of disembarkation I usually get up eat breakfast and find a nice lounge chair either on top deck if it's nice or down on the promenade deck and wait there for my color code to be called thus avoiding the congestion at get off time. HA has a color system of which you get a tag for you bag and when your color and number is called you are able to disembark, ours was brown number 1. The disembarkation was smooth and peaceful with little crowding, we found our bags in the terminal and off we went!. I would hope the management at HA does some more training with their staff to bring the level of service up to "Signature Class". The ship is great and with a little shining up it will be a winner. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Just back from a 10 day voyage aboard the ms Noordam. The ship went from Ft. Lauderdale and back. We had stops in Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, Dominican Republic, and the ABC Islands with 3 sea days. Over all my husband and I were pleased ... Read More
Just back from a 10 day voyage aboard the ms Noordam. The ship went from Ft. Lauderdale and back. We had stops in Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, Dominican Republic, and the ABC Islands with 3 sea days. Over all my husband and I were pleased with the ship. We think the Holland ships are classy. Not to start off with a negative....BUT, the one negative we found (and we knew this going in) was people smoking. Our next door neighbors were 4 ladies that at all hours of the night and day had someone smoking and coughing on their balcony. We went with a SA just so that we could have a large balcony. Well, in that regard, our money was waisted because all we could do was look out the window. Now, back to the ship. It was kept very clean, a little worn in spots, but clean. It is not a brand new ship, so we were not expecting everything to LOOK brand new. Our Captain was Robert Jan Kan, very nice guy, not a big talker but loves to be ahead of schedule and that's OK with us! We were only late leaving one port and that's because they had a tender problem, otherwise we left port early and arrived early. Food was good and plenty of it. We ate in the Vista dining room on Thanksgiving and was very surprised with our dinner (I heard talk of processed turkey) our turkey tasted like it was cooked at home and we had all the trimming to boot. We ate in the Pinnacle Grill for breakfast for 8 mornings and twice for dinner and once for lunch. Every meal was great, food and service!!! The staff could not have been nicer. Never did we pass someone in the hall without a friendly hello. Can't say much about the entertainment, did not go to any shows but did enjoy the music aboard. The Adagio Strings, Liz and the HAL cats, Bill Forrest at the piano and Guitarist Johnny Champagne. Overall, we enjoyed the cruise but will never go on HAL again as long as they allow balcony smoking. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
What an experience. We flew from New Zealand to Rome with a one day stop over in Hong Kong to break the flight. Because we had been to Rome before we just explored on foot (very tourist unfriendly place). We decided to rough it and get ... Read More
What an experience. We flew from New Zealand to Rome with a one day stop over in Hong Kong to break the flight. Because we had been to Rome before we just explored on foot (very tourist unfriendly place). We decided to rough it and get the metro out to Civitavecchia which was a big mistake, but after 4 train changes (dragging luggage behind us) and one instance of being stuck in a small lift, we finally made it four hours later. The moment we stepped onto the Noordam, all the stress was gone, she was BEAUTIFUL! The itinerary was fabulous, we visited some amazing ports and did 5 ship excursions, otherwise we wandered around near the port or went swimming at a beach(it was extremely hot). The food was simply magnificent. We dined in both the formal restaurant and the lido (buffet), and twice went to the Pinnacle grill which just blew our socks off!! Lunch at lido was very good especially the tasty little deserts and king prawn and crab leg days. Entertainment was average, but on a port intensive cruise like this, it didn't really matter, because we had fairly early nights for early starts the next day. However, Diane in the Piano bar was fabulous. Best bar on the ship! We subscribed for the thermal room and hydro pool extra, which was well and truly worth it, and great to relax after a hot, busy day sightseeing. We had a free upgrade from outside cabin to veranda state room, which was ideal and spent many hours drinking bourbon in the evening on our own veranda and reflecting on the day we had just had. All the staff were lovely, friendly and very attentive. The only thing I could criticise is that on a 20 night cruise they had 6 formal nights which we thought was absolute overkill. We would have made the effort twice, but really couldn't be bothered getting glammed up 6 times and we noticed many others didn't bother either. It was a pity because formal night could have been very special, but it was watered down with too many. HAL is certainly my cruise line of choice now, and I will be seeking out HAL cruises in the future. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Itinerary was Half Moon Cay, Turks, Samana, Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba. Wind too strong at Half Moon so we moved on to Turks. Docking was on the starboard side but those with cabins on the port side got the best view of the beach and the ... Read More
Itinerary was Half Moon Cay, Turks, Samana, Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba. Wind too strong at Half Moon so we moved on to Turks. Docking was on the starboard side but those with cabins on the port side got the best view of the beach and the island itself. The port duty free stores were right at the end of the dock and included a Margaritaville restaurant/pool/bar area serving way way overpriced drinks. free wifi here though. Beautiful free beach and loungers within 100 yds. of the ship HA allows passengers to bring aboard bottles of wine for their own consumption. Buy some as the bottles offered on board are triple the price offered than those at the end of the dock. Moved through the night to Samana Tenders moved passengers to shore during intermittent showers and high humidity. we choose to relax on board as the reviews on shore excursions were depressing. Another night sail followed. A slow southward sail to Bonaire amid rising temperatures ( 24-28C)melted away any stress we both had. Docked on port side Bonaire the first of the ABC islands or the Dutch Antilles had no stores at the end of the dock but both indoor and flea market stalls were within walking distance. Free wifi downtown at Lily's ice cream shop. Wine cheap downtown. Took HA sponsored 4x4 tour here. Not worth the time or money unless you want to see, garbage, litter, beer bottles and beaches plastered with plastic flotsam of every shape and size Short night sail to Curacao with docking on port side. Beautiful port with shops within walking distance. Free wifi at Edy's ice cream shop in the nearby fort. Follow your crew members with their laptops, they know where the wifi hotspots are. Aruba next, another beautiful port with docking on the port side. starboard cabins look off shore. Dock shops 30 ft from gangway with more expensive shops downtown. (approx 500 yd. walk) Free wifi in the Renaissance Mall Two day sail back to Fort Lauderdale with a short interruption to rescue 2 small fishing boats off the coast of Cuba. They were separated from their mother ship at dusk and were pointed in the right direction by our helpful Captain and crew. My wife and I took the 4 hour tour of the Noordam hosted by the Marketing Manager along with 9 other intrepid souls. Well worth doing once in your cruising life. Visited the engine control room of the ship, the back stage in the Vista Lounge and the bridge too.Food lockers waste collection area and the laundry were also included. Entertainment each night was packed. Some shows were the same as last year prompting us to look at another HA ship for next year's trip. Want to relax and enjoy quality time with your significant other try a 10 day trip on this ship. You will smile too Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
After spending 2 nights at the luxurious The Pillars Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, we set sail on 12/23/12. We arrived at the port around 1pm and were on board and in our stateroom in a quick and efficient manner. The stateroom was ready and ... Read More
After spending 2 nights at the luxurious The Pillars Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, we set sail on 12/23/12. We arrived at the port around 1pm and were on board and in our stateroom in a quick and efficient manner. The stateroom was ready and very clean. We had fixed seating at 8pm with a table of 6. Several times during the cruise there were events that we wanted to attend, for example, 'The Marriage Game" or Karioke, which started at 8 or 9 pm. On those nights we opted to eat at the Lido, as we knew we wouldn't be done with dinner in time to attend. The next cruise we will ask for earlier seating. The people we spoke with who had 'as you like it' seating complained of inconsistent service and wait times. The cruise director, Drew, was very witty and entertaining. We enjoyed the 4pm trivia in the Crow's Nest each day. At 6:30 there was pub trivia in the Northern LIghts lounge with DJ Reggie, who was also fun. The first stop was the private island of Half Moon Cay, which we had been two twice. The tender to the island was uneventful. The downside is that they like to have a full tender, which means sitting on the tender and waiting until it fills up. Not so much fun if there are some waves. We rented a Hobbie Cat and did some fine sailing. Lunch on the island was OK, consisting of burgers, salads, etc. We ended up eating very little and going to the Lido when we returned to the ship. The Captain opted out of stopping at Grand Turk due to the high seas, so the next stop was Samana, Domincan Republic, where we once again tendered to the island. Christmas Eve dinner was formal and festive. The crew gave an international caroling event in the Vista Lounge which was very nice and certainly put us in the Christmas spirit. The Night Before Christmas (Noordam version) was read by the cruise director, egg nog was in ample supply, and Christmas Eve was a very nice event. Christmas Day was equally nice, with Santa's arrival, more egg nog, good food. The decorations throughout the ship were gorgeous. We did a dive through the cruise ship excursion in Samana (Dom. Repub). Though the visibility wasn't very good and the venue was diving out of a 15 foot rowboat (with an outboard motor), our dive master David did a good job of adapting the dive to us novice divers. Bonaire was warm and lovely, and we did shore dives that we had arranged via the internet with VIP Diving. I highly recommend this outfit, as they do one dive master with 4 divers, and went out of their way to be accommodating & instructive. The dive sites were great with good visibility. Our dive master, Liz, was terrific! In Curacao we did a dive we arranged ourselves with Ocean Encounters. Not a good experience for beginner divers, as the ratio of divers to dive master was high, and the dive was geared toward the experienced diver. It was more like a 'cattle boat' experience, and we were basically on our own. Aruba dive was through Red Sail Sports. Good dive boat, good ratio of dive master to divers. They really wanted everyone to have a good experience, and took the time to help talk me 'down' on the first dive. New Year's was very festive in the dining room and throughout the ship. Good food, champaign at midnight, HAL cats in the Vista Lounge with balloons, countdown, streamers... Older more sedate persons had the option of sitting in the Ocean Lounge with the piano guy (who was very personable and good). The Northern Lights and Crow's Nest was lively. We met some really nice people and had a very enjoyable time throughout. A few younger (20-40's age) expressed feelings that the cruise was somewhat boring and sedate. We're in our late 50's and felt that it was somewhat laid back, but we felt we could be either partiers or sedate. HAL did a fine job of attempting to meet our needs, seeing that we were comfortable and pampered. Speaking of pampered, one thing I noted was the LACK of pushing product sales in the Spa. What a welcome experience! I hate listening to the 'sales pitch' when I'm getting a spa treatment. Thank you, HAL! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We boarded the Noordam around noon on 23 Dec 11 and had a small wait until our room was ready. We had a superior veranda suite and was very pleased with the size of the room. We had so much room we didn't know what to do with it. ... Read More
We boarded the Noordam around noon on 23 Dec 11 and had a small wait until our room was ready. We had a superior veranda suite and was very pleased with the size of the room. We had so much room we didn't know what to do with it. In the bathroom we loved the double sinks, the separate shower as well as the jetted tub/shower combo. My boyfriend and I were able to get ready at the same time without getting in each other way. The closets were big enough to hid all our suite cases and clothes. The balcony was so big it accommodated four chairs, a table to eat on and a side table. Our room stewards Aep and Hans were the bomb. They were available for anything we needed (I don't know when they slept). I always looked forward to coming back to the room to see what towel animal was waiting for me. The staff were very friendly and personable. You could engage in conversations with anyone in the staff and you feel like you have known them for years. We had open seating and had great servers except when we ate at table 4. The server never introduced himself to us and he appeared as if he really didn't want to serve us. I try not to complain when servers act ignorant but show them how displeased I am by either not eating there again or showing it in their tip. All I ask from my server is to be polite. The food was excellent from the omelets in the morning, the burgers at at lunch, the variety of dishes at dinner to the cookies and ice cream at night. Our first stop was half moon cay and it was wonderful. You had so much to choose from to do. (Pay the extra for the shell). We had to tender to get there and it was not so bad a ride (I am terrified of the small boats considering I can't swim). That night was formal night and it was nice to see others dressed up. The crew did an international Christmas program and it was nice to see all the different nationalities singing songs from their native countries. It was wonderful. Our second stop was Turks and Caicos but did not stop because the weather did not cooperate and the captain came on and explained. The entertainment staff were nice and I enjoyed them. The Hal Cats were excellent. Drew, our entertainment coordinator, was entertaining. Keep up the good work Drew. Reggie, our DJ, had the music bumping. Great job. We also stopped at Samana Dominican Republic(Tender), Bonaire and Aruba. I loved Curaco. We were there from 0700-2300hrs. The floating bridge was the gateway to the other side and there was shopping galore and when nightfall came, the entertainment started. I wished we could have stayed over night. We spent four days at sea (25, 27, 31 Dec 11 and 01 Jan 12) and there was so much to do from just laying around catching some sun to different activities to choose from. We had two more formal nights (27 Dec and 31 Dec). In the evenings, you could listen to the violinist, go to the piano bar, go to the disco, the sports bar, the casino, the explorers cafe for espresso, a good book, magazine or games. On New Years Eve, you had different choices on where to go for the count down. I was a little disappointed that the only place to get your hat or tierra were in the main dining room and everyone did not get one. They should have had didn't sections where you could get it especially if you at in your room or the lido. It was nice to see the staff who were not working dressed up in their uniforms bringing in the new year. We did the luggage direct program and it was worth it. It only took us 20 minutes to get off the boat and we didn't see our luggage again until we landed. Sweet!!! I truly felt spoiled on this boat. I I think I have become an Holland American girl. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
As an older couple we gave the "kids" 12 months notice that we would be away for Christmas. As Australia is so far away we stopped off at Hawaii, Las Vegas and Jacksonville on the way to Fort Lauderdale. I love Christmas and ... Read More
As an older couple we gave the "kids" 12 months notice that we would be away for Christmas. As Australia is so far away we stopped off at Hawaii, Las Vegas and Jacksonville on the way to Fort Lauderdale. I love Christmas and enjoyed the different way Christmas decorations were presented. The ship was festively decorated including 30 different trees, snow villages, huge nutcrackers as well as a menorah. Christmas Eve introduced me to eggnog (why didn't I ask for their recipe?) and the wonderful choirs of the Filipino, Malaysian and English speaking crew. Christmas day saw carol singing around the huge Christmas tree that went over 3 decks and the ending with realistic looking snow.The only disappointment was no Christmas cake as we know it in Australia but I settled for plum pudding with brandy sauce for dessert. New Year's Eve was very festive with the ladies given a coronet in silver and blue with Happy New Year and the gents having a matching top hat. After dinner we had a quiet time in the crows nest with a guitarist before joining in the New Years Eve ball in the theatre with champagne at midnight. We were pleasantly surprised by the private island at Half Moon Cay. We were provided with lilos (plastic deck chairs) and beach towels as well as a barbeque meal and you only needed to spend money if you wanted special drinks. Swimming in the crystal clear waters was pure bliss although initially chilly. You could easily walk to the area to see the stingrays. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Just back from our Noordam cruise, and we enjoyed nearly every bit of it. We have travelled on the Zuiderdam in Alaska, so we felt right at home on the Noordam. The cabin, crew and decor were all first class. Some of the ports and shore ... Read More
Just back from our Noordam cruise, and we enjoyed nearly every bit of it. We have travelled on the Zuiderdam in Alaska, so we felt right at home on the Noordam. The cabin, crew and decor were all first class. Some of the ports and shore excursions were a little bit disappointing, but some of the problems were due to strikes in Greece and that was out of HAL's control. Our cabin was near the stern on the port side and was above a galley area. Although I was concerned we may have noise or odour issues ( such as a lingering fried food smell) I was happy to find no such issues. Even being worried about the previous occupants being smokers was not an issue. Our cabin was fresh and pleasant smelling when we took it over. Smoking on the Noordam did not seem to be much of a problem and I am a fervent anti smoker, terribly upset by smoke which gives me headaches and breathing problems. The worst place inside was having to pass by the casino en route to the Vista lounge, and I would have liked a flutter on the poker machines, but couldn't find one away from the smokers, so I left the casino after less than 2 minutes. Also we had a veranda cabin and regretfully I never seemed to catch more than 10 or 15 minutes out there before a nearby veranda was used for smoking. It was disappointing because they actually seemed to be the only veranda smokers in our vicinity, as far as I could tell. As a member of cruise critic we were invited to several special functions by HAL and the Captain, they really went out of their way to make us feel especially welcome. We also enjoyed the special Aussie & NZ night get together the Captain hosted. All these events were well run and highly enjoyable, they certainly added a special shine to our Noordam experience.The food was great in both the MDR and in the Lido buffet. We nearly always found a window table in the Lido, and we did eat quite a few evenings in the Lido instead of the MDR because it was a very port intensive cruise and many days we only wanted to tidy up to go to dinner,not shower and change for the MDR. Overall, this cruise met and surpassed all our expectations and I can't wait to organise another one with Holland America, maybe Canada and New England next time. Read Less
Sail Date October 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
We hope you will find some helpful hints here on how to do this cruise yourself - no ship's tours or transfers. We arrived at the Rome airport two days prior to the cruise, and followed the signs to the train. Buy the train tickets to ... Read More
We hope you will find some helpful hints here on how to do this cruise yourself - no ship's tours or transfers. We arrived at the Rome airport two days prior to the cruise, and followed the signs to the train. Buy the train tickets to Termini station at a kiosk in the train station (14euros ). Be sure you board the train marked Leonardo express - not the one marked Ostia. From termini (Rome's central train station) we walked to our hotel (Hotel Diocleziano.) After two scorching hot but splendid days in Rome, we walked back to Termini and took the train to Civitavecchia (4.5 euros, buy at ticket machine.) Upon arrival at Civitavecchia, turn right out of the station (there are a lot of stairs to climb up and down at this station). After 10-15 minutes, you will see the gate to the port on your left. Just inside the gate to the left is the bus stop for the free port shuttle. Board the bus marked with your ship's name. Boarding was fast (at 1400.) Room was ready, lunch being served (more about the "buffet" later.) We had an inside category N cabin, which was the smallest cabin we have ever had. However, it was just fine, spotless, and had a flat screen TV and dvd player (free dvd's to borrow), as well as a mini-bar. It's ok to bring on your own wine. The ship charges 69.00 per person for transfers from the port to the airport or the city, and if you have luggage this actually might be a good option for you. Believe it or not, we travel with carryon only, so we just took the train back to Rome (if you want to go the airport from the port, you need to take the train to Termini, and then another train to the airport.) Ship information: Cabin - as mentioned, an inside cabin. Very small, no room for in-room dining, not enough drawer space, but lots of closet space, and room under the beds for luggage storage. All in all, great value. There were spa toiletries in the shower (in dispensers) - Elemis shampoo, conditioner and body wash, all excellent. Bathrobes are provided, as is a Holland America tote bag. Library /Internet cafe - very well stocked library. Lots of computers to use, but absolutely no need to do that on this itinerary. We will mention the free wifi spots on shore later - do bring a smart phone and / or netbook. Drinks - average price 6.75, two happy hours a day when you can buy the second identical drink for 1.00. Drink of the day 5.75. Pop in cans 1.95. 15%added to all prices. Coffee bar in library/computer area for espresso/latte drinks, around 3.00. Some wines for 4.50 per glass. Casino - very smoky, the usual slot machines and table games. Entertainment - minimal entertainment, average to fair quality. Don't count on this ship to entertain you. Dining - main dining room - there is a choice of early or late sitting, and also "as you wish dining." You just show up whenever you like, and request a table for however many you prefer. Unlike previous posters,however, we did not have to wait long for the main dining room "any time" dining - just put your name in, and sit in the nearby lounge with a glass of wine, listening to the string trio - even my 22 year old daughter enjoyed that. The service is unobtrusive (slow), the portions are miniscule, but the food tastes great. Dining - "buffet" - okay here it is. I wish I could give a more positive review than previous posters, but in a word, the "buffet" set up is horrific. It is cafeteria style, where you have to wait in line for absolutely everything, and you can't help yourself either - portions are sparingly doled out by staff. You will lose weight on this cruise, I promise you. The line-ups were so long, I ended up having just rolls and butter for breakfast several times. However, if you do make it through the line-ups, the food (sparing as it is) is fantastic. You also have to dodge staff members who barricade the coffee station for some unknown reason. For the first two days of the cruise, passengers were not even allowed to help themselves to coffee or water, for "hygienic reasons." Even the poolside bbq was appalling, the food seemed to go on the bbq as passengers queued for it, so everyone had to wait for the kebabs to be grilled. Horrific! After waiting, we were given a single kebab with two tiny pieces of lamb. Bars - again, unlike previous posters, we were never harassed to buy drinks. In fact, I went to the Ocean bar one time and could not find a bartender or server to even get a drink at all. Tips - 11.00 per day per passenger is automatically added to your ship account. Tipping is not mentioned during the cruise, unlike other cruise lines that constantly allude to the "questions" you might have about tipping. It was refreshing not to hear the word mentioned. We didn't order room service but I would certainly give a couple of dollars for that. I did ask for a corkscrew, and they sent someone to open my bottle for me(no charge, so I certainly tipped). Gym - the usual, lots of treadmills and elliptical machines. No sauna/steam room except for guests who purchase a 10 day pass. Spa - we didn't use the spa services, but noticed that they have good specials on port days, but full prices are charged on sea days. Pools - they always seemed crowded and cramped. I have not noticed this on other cruise lines, but the layout here leaves something to be desired. However, it was very pleasant to sit at the tables poolside in the early morning with coffee. We actually preferred the Lido family pool over the Seaview adult pool because of the smoking at the adult pool. Muster drill - why cant cruise lines get their act together on this? We were made to stand for over half an hour in the broiling sun. unacceptable. Design - overall design of the ship is small, cramped and dark. This is unlike other cruise ships we have been on. Ports (and wifi options) Rome - we just walked and walked in this port. Take the metro to the piazza del popolo, and walk down via del Corso. Detour to the Spanish steps, and later the Trevi fountain or Piazza Navona. Plenty of cheap internet spots on the streets outside Termini. Dubrovnik - walk out of the port area, and the bus station is to the right. Exchange money into Croatian currency at the wicket here, then buy a ticket for the city bus at the next wicket. The bus stops on the road outside the station. You can exchange any unused currency again when you return to the station. Take the city bus to the gate to the old city. We didnt walk the wall as the line up was too long, but the old city is beautiful,just walk around it, and go down to the port. Wifi and computers available for a fee at the tourist office just inside the gate. Free wifi at Glam cafe (another espresso macchiato.) Corfu - head out of the port to the left, and walk around to the old city (it is well marked.) Free wifi at the port. We just walked around the old part of the town, all tourist shops and cafes, many with free wifi. Katakolon - the main part of town is basically right at the port. We did not go to Olympia, but there are cheap options to get there right from the port, no need to go on an expensive ship tour. Many cafes and shops, almost all cafes have free wifi. Athens - we walked to the metro (1.3euro). Free wifi at the port. Exit the port area to the left, about a 20minute walk. We changed metro lines to arrive at Acropoli station, very convenient. We did pay the entrance fee to access the Acropolis, a steep climb, and so crowded you wouldn't believe it. Lot's of great shopping in the Plaka area. Kusadasi - hmmm. We booked a tour from a company in the port shopping area, 20euros for Ephesus and Virgin Mary's house. After seeing Ephesus, you will wonder why you bothered to go to the Acropolis. We used the free wifi at the Starbucks in the port mall (ask for the access code.) We did not enter any shops at the port - we did not enjoy being accosted by every single shopkeeper in the place. Santorini - is as wonderful as you have heard. We felt sorry for the donkeys, so we took the cable car to the top (4euros). We rented ATVs (20euros for the whole day) and drove ourselves to Oia, the town with the iconic blue roofs. Back in Fira, the main port town, we had a relaxing late lunch (free wifi at many cafes). Messina - was almost completely closed, as it was Sunday. We ended up at the astronomical clock plaza, which did open for the tourists. At 12noon, the clock puts on a show that you should not miss. Free wifi on the street leading down from the clock (you will see the crew members sitting on the sidewalk.) I tried a cannoli (for the first time), it is their specialty - yum. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This was our first ever cruise with any line - thought it would be a perfect option for a Christmas get away. We were lucky to have a free upgrade from a SZ class (Superior Verandah) to a Deluxe - nice perc (in principal). Loved ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise with any line - thought it would be a perfect option for a Christmas get away. We were lucky to have a free upgrade from a SZ class (Superior Verandah) to a Deluxe - nice perc (in principal). Loved having access to Neptune and Pinnacle for Breakfast. Let me start our by saying we did have a decent time - note that this isn't really a complaint, its meant to better educate other cruisers in making decisions. There was a big gap between our expectations and the reality of what you get on this ship. We expected luxury and high end - quite honestly didn't get that. The staff and crew were exceptional - I would never imply they did a poor job (in fact we felt horrible when one of the staff admitted to hating having missed the last 10 xmas's at home to work). My wife and I are both 33 - the majority of the cruisers were 50+ but there was a good mix of families and children. One of the staff mentioned they usually have 40 kids - this cruise had 400. The surprise in all of this was that they really didn't seem to change their planned activities around that. Dining in the Vista and Lido was basically like eating at a 2 star restaurant - if you were paying to eat there, it would be one of those places I wouldn't go back to. The meals seems to get better as the cruise continued but the majority was bland and uninspiring. The Pinnacle Grill was spectacular - this is probably what ruined it for us as we expected that level of food elsewhere which obviously isn't possible. Our Deluxe room was very unimpressive - the bathroom was literally what I would see in an old Holiday Inn (cracked and missing grout/plastic counter tops and fittings). I am critical of this since I travel for work 4-5 times a month, I know in 2 seconds the quality of accommodations - this wasn't up to what I expected. The wrap around deck was wonderful to have. The TV was snowy - even when playing their own promo videos which are on constant loop. If we had paid the premium for that room - my opinion would be much harsher. The entertainment wasn't for us - specifically the Vista nightly 8/10pm items. There were 3 nights where people were walking out in large numbers. Enjoyed the piano room - the classical quartet in the Hudson room and some of the events. Tried some of the paid daily items like the mixology class - it was an awkward demo between the bartender and the director - not worth $12.50 per. Our most entertainment came from daily Bingo (kinda sad when its one of the only items on the itinerary that you look forward to). We missed 1 port due to weather - I understand it happens. The response seemed poor though - refund of port credits (14.78 /p) and a free glass of champagne at dinner (5.95) - its SOP apparently but still seems light to me. Had a good time at the other stops though - loved Half Moon Cay. All in all it comes down to our expectations being too high for what was offered. The Hilton Marina where we stayed the night before embarkation was light years beyond the fit/finish of this 4 year old ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Traveling as a young couple in our late 20's with no children the Nooradam had an interesting mix of people onboard. In general we love the cruise, and enjoyed the attentive & friendly staff. Since it was a Holiday Christmas ... Read More
Traveling as a young couple in our late 20's with no children the Nooradam had an interesting mix of people onboard. In general we love the cruise, and enjoyed the attentive & friendly staff. Since it was a Holiday Christmas cruise every public space had a Christmas tree decorated, holiday cookies in the dinning rooms, carolers and even Santa came to visit for the kids! :) Population Mix for our trip: I have to say approximately 70% of the people were singles/couples between the ages of 55-85, Couples/Familys age 30-45 & children ages 7-16 were approx 20% and finally young couples like us were very rare. The only ones we saw/met were honeymooners. OnBoard & First Day: We flew the day of (it was smooth traveling but stressful & probably wont fly day of again) and arrived in FLL airport at about 12noon, we took a cab to the port (about 2 miles) which cost $18 total for both of us. We had no wait, and literally walked through each check-in area, which took about 10-15 min maybe at most? had our picture taken, ID card given, and headed straight to Lido Deck for some lunch. Ship was due to sail at 5pm (all aboard 4pm). We originally booked an inside room (I think N or M?) as "GUAR" (meaning no assigned room #) since it was cheaper. On our first day upon checkin, we got bumped-up to an obstructed view outside cabin GG... much larger & nicer than our original room. I was so Exciting! Located in the middle of the ship on deck 4 which worked out wonderfully. Even though it was obstructed by the lifeboats, it had floor to ceiling windows looking out over the lifeboat/water, the good part was it was the kind of lifeboat they used to transport passengers to and from Halfmoon Cay... so it had windows on it which you could then look through & see the water. Also on Grand Turk & HalfMoon Cay they were lowered and removed either for drills or transportation... so we had a full floor to ceiling view of the islands! I will always book middle of the ship from now on it was Great!! The only downside was, since we were upgraded, we didnt receive our luggage until about 3-4pm, also we got the other couples luggage but they came by to get it...since they figured it must have been sent to their old room # (now ours) oh and they got bumped-up to a balcony! Cabin: Larger than I expected, with 3 floor to ceiling closets, vanity/makeup area, hairdryer, fridge, robes, flat screen tv, dvd player, free roomservice, small table & couch. Everything an upscale hotel would have. Located deck 4 midship, it was just steps to the elevator. The room was quiet, but you could hear the faint sound of music... but i had no trouble & I'm a light sleeper. Daily Activities: They had 3-4 categories, Culinary arts focused (wine tasting, mixology, cooking sessions), Daily Events (Exercise, yoga, ping pong challenge, belly flop, and Trivia with prizes), Technology information sessions (how to send pictures, setup website, make videos), Spa related, or the Evening Show. Food: Lots of options, but we liked Lido deck with its typical buffet style dinning, although it was difficult to find seating, the waitstaff was lighting fast in turning the tables for the next person. The food was very good. Vista Dining room was more upscale typical fine dinning restaurant. We went to lunch at Lido and dinner at Vista every day and loved it. We opted out of the Pinnacle Grill due to the cost,and we wanted something more relaxed. Vista Dinning room also had afternoon tea around 3-4, which had the best desserts on the ship! Ports: Grand Turk, San Juan, St.Thomas, Half Moon Cay Grand Turk, was still destroyed from the Hurricane, so the only really nice area was the small shopping area & Margarita-ville directly off the ship. Also we choose Governors beach to swim & snorkle, the water is crystal clear even though It rained the day we were there. The people are very nice & I felt safe. I would not visit again only due to destruction & lack of things to do. San Juan, 4 cruise ships were in dock the same day. It was a beautiful sunny day, we took the free trolley around old San Juan and visited the old forts. Great Day! Although vendors product pushers were directly off the ship the Police were everywhere to keep things in order. I would visit again & maybe go further inland to rain forest or beaches (with a group of people) St.Thomas, Beautiful! we went shopping, and took a local tour around the island. The landscape is just breathtaking! Would come here every trip :) HalfMoon Cay, cute small island, their developing it nicely. Its strictly a beach day, so not much else to do besides swimming and watersports. They have a great Free BBQ. The water is a beautiful teal color but not clear enough to snorkel. Overall I loved the trip, will definitely cruise again... but I might choose another ship with a slightly younger crowed :) Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
With great anticipation, my partner and I were waiting for this cruise. This was my 25 cruise, 8th with Holland America and my partner's 12th cruise overall, so we knew what to expect. Once the plane had touched down in Miami and ... Read More
With great anticipation, my partner and I were waiting for this cruise. This was my 25 cruise, 8th with Holland America and my partner's 12th cruise overall, so we knew what to expect. Once the plane had touched down in Miami and we had collected our luggage and been met by the Holland America meet and greet staff we knew we were in good hands. They were very organized, rounded everyone up and took us to our bus for the trip to Port Everglades. We didn't have a chatty driver this trip but he got us to our destination in good time. Embarkation was a breeze and we were in our cabin within half an hour of arriving. The main disappointment here was there was no boarding photo. Obviously they had packed up early. With this being a Christmas cruise it would have been nice to have a memento of the occasion. Rather than bring the subject up again, I will mention here that the ship's photographers on this cruise were the rudest and laziest that I had ever encountered. In particular the 2 male photographers. After exploring the ship and making it just in time to the embarkation buffet we had the usual lifeboat drill. No longer the exciting event that it used to be. I guess now will be a good time to break the cruise down into categories. Since I have reached dinner on the first night I'll start with dining. Dining for the most part on the Noordam was great. The food and service in the main dining room was good to very good. We had open seating and managed to get a table for 2 every night but one. The trick is to make your reservation promptly at 8am each morning. The service does seem better if you eat earlier than at 8pm for example. Then the dining stewards seem very rushed as their tables all seem to be at different points of a meal. The one exception to good service was the night we decided to eat in the Lido for dinner. It was very disorganized and slapdash. The system of half self serve and half table service just doesn't work. The best meal of the cruise was christmas eve and the most disappointing was christmas day. The christmas day menu was very ordinary and the dessert selection poor although the plum pudding was decent. Whereas the "international" christmas eve menu that included roast goose was excellent. Meals at the Lido for breakfast and lunch had a good variety and with little in the way of lineups or problems in finding seats. The dining room for lunch on the one occasion that we tried it was excellent, as was the dining room afternoon tea. The Cabin. Our cabin was located right at the front of the ship and was a verandah cabin. It was spacious enough for the two of us and had ample storage. The verandah had only a slight overhang so a good deal of sunlight was on the seating area and brightened the cabin. The DVD player that was a part of the cabin fixtures proved an excellent addition as it made up for the entertainment on board that was once again sadly lacking. A good selection of dvds were available in the library for $3. Shore Excursions. For this cruise the standard selection of Caribbean excursions were available. As we had been to many of these stops already we satisfied ourselves with sitting by the pool on a half deserted ship. It made for more space in the pool. We did however tale the Malibu Beach Break in Barbados which was very pleasant and a trip to Trunk Bay in St Johns. We also enjoyed our time in Half Moon Cay. Although the ship is here all day, get off early for the choice seating even if you have booked a clamshell to sit under. Overall this was an enjoyable cruise with only little things to bother us. Cabin service not as good as it used to be. Unenforced rules yet mentioned: children in adults pool, saving of deck chairs etc. Rude photoshop staff and still no real mint sauce carried in the dining room. Disembarkation was easy and quick with the only problems being at the FT Lauderdale airport. It seems this is the only airport that has problems when cruiseship passengers want to go home. We have departed from many others and this is definitely the worst. If you have a choice, fly home from Miami. We enjoyed our time on the Noordam and will travel with Holland America in the future. However our next cruise will be completely different as we will try an Atlantis charter cruise on the Mariner of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
My wife and I were on our 16th cruise sailing from Ft. Lauderdale on Thanksgiving Day for 10 days visiting St. Lucia, Tortola, Barbados, St Kitts, Martinique and Half Moon Cay. This was our second trip on Holland America and we are both 45 ... Read More
My wife and I were on our 16th cruise sailing from Ft. Lauderdale on Thanksgiving Day for 10 days visiting St. Lucia, Tortola, Barbados, St Kitts, Martinique and Half Moon Cay. This was our second trip on Holland America and we are both 45 years old. This review will be detailed for those that want specific information. We stayed at the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Spa prior to the cruise. They have a restaurant called 3030 which is one of the top places to eat in Ft. Lauderdale. We had a fantastic meal at 3030 which was one of the highlights of the trip. My wife also used the Marriott spa for her seaweed wrap. The cost is cheaper than you will pay on the Noordam and includes a message jet bath which the ship doesn't. I set this up in advance and my wife loved it. The Marriott has a private beach and a tropical pool which were both excellent. A great start to a vacation. Ports: We really enjoyed all the ports and particularly enjoyed the "Boat Yard" beach in Barbados and Cane Garden in Tortola. The Boat Yard is $4 per person by cab and provides a free ride back to the ship. Entrance cost is $15 per person, includes chairs, umbrella, choice of free drink and unlimited use of non motorized beach items. In Tortola we got off the boat and found a 30 person taxi waiting. He was charging $6 per person for Cane Garden Bay Beach. We spent 5 ½ hours at Cane Garden and found plenty of taxis for the return trip ($6) back to the ship. Chairs are $5 per person and several friendly vendors will set you up right on the beach (umbrellas were $10). The beach has plenty of shade if you don't want to pay for an umbrella. We had lunch at Sharkys on the beach which had a great lobster salad and cold beer. Embarkation: We arrived at the pier about 1:30 pm at the same time as a few buses from the airport. We found a line out the front door and thought we were in for a long wait. This was because the metal detector and x-ray machine are at the entrance which actually worked better. The line moved fairly quickly and the only snag was with the medical questionnaire. The lady whom handled it was rude, didn't give instructions until you were at the point where you needed to have it filled out and just a pain in general. Not a big deal and we quickly filled it out while in line before getting to the check-in counter. Note: even when filling out everything on line "before" hand, you still have to have the immigration form in your cruise documents signed. They then write completed on line across the top. The whole check in took about 30 minutes and because it was after 1pm we were able to go directly to our cabin and drop off carry on bags. Crew: I will say that we have seen several different types of crew members over the years. We have had crew members who do what is required only and those who go above and beyond especially with automatic tipping. The Noordam Cabin Stewards, Waiters, Assistant Waiters, pool and cleaning staff are all from Indonesia. Your bar staff is from the Philippines and your officers are mostly Dutch. All crew members are highly trained and it shows. We never heard the word 'NO" and herd "Yes" to all request. I had very high praises on the comment card and to some supervision about this very hard working crew. They smile all the time and will accommodate special request with a smile. Just ask if you want something and give them a little notice in the dining room and it's done. Service really makes HAL and out of 1900 passengers on board, 1300 were repeat customers. Many people have had comments about extra tipping, the extra cash given to an employee stays with that employee. The automatic tipping is pooled and distributed based on a formula. I was told that as long as you left the "service charge" as they call it alone, the crew kept the extra cash given. Cabin: We booked a "guarantee" inside and were upgraded to a large inside. The cabin had 3 separate closets, tie holder mounted to the door, shoes shine basket (for free shoe shine) a safe plus plenty of space, once you placed the life jackets under the bed. Note there are two drawers under the end of the bed that pull out. You can easily place suitcases and life jackets under the bed to allow for more cabin space. The cabin has a hidden dirty laundry hamper located in the chair under the vanity/desk. You pull the seat top off the chair and place dirty laundry in it. It seals up and the chair slides right back under the vanity/desk. You also have a full mini bar located to the right of the vanity with the same pricing as the other ship bars. On the left of the vanity/desk a hidden compartment has a hair dryer and extra glass for wine or champagne (a bottle opener and cork screw are provided with your ice bucket). The hair dry only plugs into the vanity and can't be used in the bathroom. Two Hal robes are provided and are a nice touch and so are the full size bath towels. HAL uses Elemis spa shampoo, body wash, conditioner, lotion and soap (replaced daily). They don't use those stupid wall mounted soap and shampoo dispensers. Beds were fantastic and the room was keep spotless. Pool and Deck Space: Plenty of deck chairs padded and non-padded. Chairs were always available at both pools and plenty of chairs were available in the shade. No signing out towels with a limit (like RCI...so stupid) you just help yourself. This includes towels when going ashore which are not signed out with a threat of being charged if you don't return them. Other lines need to take note here, we are adults and don't need to sign out a towel. HAL gets points for having towel stations all over the ship. You don't have to go down to the pool to get towels from the upper decks (like RCI). They also have towels at the hot tubs and on the Promenade deck #5. The pool and decks are clean and trash is removed quickly to avoid stuff blowing all over (NCL is famous for this one). I was very pleased with the efficient deck staff and their wiliness to get water or tea for seniors. General Areas: Spotless and public bathrooms have cloth hand towels which keep the restrooms clean. No paper towels anywhere and plenty of hand sanitizers. Bars and common areas have comfortable seating, the recliners are located in the observation lounge, great leather seating in Library/Coffee bar. In the stairwells between decks is some very nice art work of the different HAL ships though the years. Outside the shops on deck #3 is a touch screen interactive map showing ship location and other information about the ship. Food: This one is subjective but this is my opinion. The Noordam Lido has the same concept as you see on Costa and Carnival with the newer ships. The use of food stations which include a sandwich bar, pasta and pizza, salad, dessert and ice cream, Asian and sushi station and a hot food station. They have the stations located on both sides of the ship when in full service. They also have a taco, fajita, hamburger and hot dog station by the pool. What is different here is the execution. You are served most of your food and several things are cooked at the food station limiting people handling items and keeping food fresh. All plates are served covered to keep food hot until you return to your table. In the mornings most stations cook eggs, make toast and have basics along with the specialty items. This keeps lines down because you have multiple egg stations going at the same time. They have three special breakfast items daily plus all the basics. They have a great waffle station and an eggs benedict station which had some nice combinations. During the day, tea and water are served table side so you don't have to get up for a refill. Juices are available from 6am to 6pm at the ice cream station (just ask the attendant). Free fresh squeezed orange juice is available in the morning which is not the case on most lines. I found limited lines and the Lido staff assists with carrying trays and keep lines moving. This concept is less of a buffet and I found the food quality to be very good. Plus not as much food sits out and people handling items is kept to a minimum. The dining room food was on a 20 day menu cycle which gives better variety on longer trips. The lobster was excellent because we asked in advance for it to be steamed not broiled. The prime rib and all steaks were very good. The Coho salmon was good and the Noordam uses large shrimp not the mini shrimp used by other lines. All the deserts were lighter (less sugar) than I have seen on other ships. The sugar free items were pretty good and the ice cream selection was nice. Fresh fruits were top notch! We did assigned second seating and had a table for two (plenty of them) and had fantastic service. I didn't notice any major waits for the "as you wish dining" but didn't use it. We also skipped the specialty restaurant Pinnacle Grill which I never saw even close to full. Over all food was very good. Spa/Gym/Pools: The gym was very nice, good sized with most of the standard equipment, classes and a great view. A nice touch is the cold towels available in the refrigerator after your work out. The Spa is very nice and the girls are very friendly. We only used the hydro pool and the relaxation room (a hidden gem with a great view and chairs that will make you fall a sleep). The sauna and locker rooms are complementary and so is the gym. The hydro pool can be purchased with packages or just used at a rate of $20 a day. That includes use of the robes, slippers, showers and changing area. We choose the day pass and it was nice, but, I would not get the whole week. Pools are not sea water and the main pool (top) was closed and opened according to weather conditions. The whirlpool closest to the spa has foot jets and seats that fit the body. Entertainment: The Vegas acts were very good and vary from cruise to cruise. We had a comedian, classical pianist who did magic and a juggler. The dancers had nice sets and a great theater and several production shows. Two male dancers destroyed some classic songs and several of the female dancers where a bit chunky (which was something I had seen in other reviews and made me laugh). Over all it was fine and we went to most shows. The crew also has a show which is popular. Overall this is a great ship and I found numerous people under 40 whom where trying cruising for the first time. It is true that most of the ship is over the age of 55, I found the older group to be fun, interesting and respectful. So this ship is a winner for all ages Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
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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