94 Holland America Noordam Senior Cruise Reviews

We were guided to this cruise to Alaska through the Inside Passage on the Noordam by Peter at Discount Cruises. The occasion was our 44th wedding anniversary combined with my husbands 50th class reunion. Four classmates and their wives ... Read More
We were guided to this cruise to Alaska through the Inside Passage on the Noordam by Peter at Discount Cruises. The occasion was our 44th wedding anniversary combined with my husbands 50th class reunion. Four classmates and their wives from India joined us. Peter arranged everything so that we were living next door to each other in beautiful balcony rooms, sitting together for our evening meals for 7 days and during the land portion of our trip to Denali and on to Anchorage, staying together on the train, bus, and in the hotel before our departure. Holland-America was over-the-top accommodating, kind, and efficient. We never wanted for anything. When our toilet stopped working, the steward fixed it immediately and we received a follow-up apology. We were amazed. The food was delicious whether we were eating at the Lido or in the dining room. The entertainment in the evening in various places brought us together in a different way. We danced and sang and enjoyed each night's events. In Denalli, we saw wildlife up close, including a mother moose with her young just outside the window of the Visitor's Center, a grizzly that stood up and began walking toward our bus. Leaving Denali for Anchorage by the Holland-America dome train was such a fabulous ending to our journey with great food, excellent commentary on the history of what we were seeing. All in all, our 11 days on this cruise/land journey was so memorable. We want to take another Holland-America cruise, perhaps to New Zealand. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Classy experience. Ship: Noordam. Well appointed, clean, well maintained. Hand sanitizers available everywhere, with overhead and live reminders to use or to wash hands. Great implementation! Excellent emergency training ... Read More
Classy experience. Ship: Noordam. Well appointed, clean, well maintained. Hand sanitizers available everywhere, with overhead and live reminders to use or to wash hands. Great implementation! Excellent emergency training pre-embarking. Captain Bos kept us informed on wildlife sightings and beautiful vistas as we approached. Ports: Departed Seward, AK, and charming town. The Sea Life Aquarium was wonderful, showing sea life from both above and below the water. Ports: Haines - tiny town, not much to do; schedule excursion this stop. Juneau - take the Tram to the top of the mountain for exquisite views & eagle sightings. Open-air Crab Shack serve King Crab legs for lunch, which was ourstanding! Ketchikan - was last port. Juneau & Ketchikan as very commercialized and similar, as one might expect. Shops open when the cruise ships dock! Lots of junky souvenir shops and Tanzanite/Diamond stores. We found most eateries and gift/jewelry shops overpriced. We'd recommend knowing which ports' attractions appeal to you most & select your cruise factoring in that. It seemed to us that many of the vendors onboard making presentations promoting certain jewelry or other stores were likely being compensated by stores at the various ports. Glacier Bay Cabana Rental: Reserve this as soon as you board, if your ship spends the day at Glacier Bay. $50 pp for private outdoor cabana with 2 chaises with wool blankets and 2 chairs with table. Irish coffee, Spanish coffee, and mulled wine served all day, and lunch was served.. While others were freezing on a lower deck, the cabanas broke the wind and protected us from the frigid air around the glaciers! Well worth it! Cabin: Stateroom 7142. We reserved a Neptune Suite on Rotterdam Deck (7th floor), with perks that enhanced our vacation experience...bottle of champagne; bottle of sparkling water; 2 large bottles of spring water; silver basket of fruit replenished daily; Elemis toiletries; separate tub & shower; access to the Neptune Lounge (with elegantly prepared hors d'oeuvres, chocolates, fruits, cookies, latte/cappuccino/coffee maker, tea, juices. Sodas & cocktails were extra); personal Concierge in lounge, and complimentary daily breakfast in their high end Pinnacle Grill. Additionally, our boarding, disembarkation and luggage handling were treated with priority as a suite guest. We were told to enter the Priority Entrance lane and passed about 500 other people waiting to board -- took us 15 minutes to check-in and be on the ship! If able, we would recommend traveling at this level. Regardless of room level, the staff were all friendly and eager to accommodate any request. Our room steward, Danang, besides being friendly and always with a smile, was a perfectionist and had our room looking crisp & fresh twice a day! A very polished, professional group of employees on ALL levels. TV was 18-24" size with very few channels & poor reception in port especially. ***There are no outlets next to the bed, so if you must plug in a medical device, or entertainment device, you will need an extension cord; OR, check with HAL before departure to see if one is available onboard. Dining: We ate breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill, except for an excursion day when we ordered room service. Pinnacle Grill is exquisite - both food & service. Lunch was good at the Lido. It had very crowded feel, but many varieties of food; this is a help yourself-type restaurant. We never tried the Pool/Lido Deck fast food bar. Dinner was mostly done in the Vista Restaurant, and the food was delicious and beautifully prepared. Service was impeccable, and the servers knew our names in public after Day 2! Regarding dinner attire - Gala Night allowed dressy casual; we did not wear nor see formal wear. Entertainment: We did not attend any of the shows or visit any of the bars/lounges, though some of them had beautiful decor. Overall a great experience. We left with a very positive feeling about the Holland America Line. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We are in our mid 60's and are not interested in noisy entertainment ship life. Travelled around Yukon and Alaska with HAL then returned to Vancouver on Noordam. Boarding at Seward very quick, with just the security check. Ship is ... Read More
We are in our mid 60's and are not interested in noisy entertainment ship life. Travelled around Yukon and Alaska with HAL then returned to Vancouver on Noordam. Boarding at Seward very quick, with just the security check. Ship is beginning to show its 10 years old but not a real negative yet. We had used HAL about 10 years ago (Volendam - about 900 passengers) and found Noordam too large. All dining was had in Lido Bistro as we are not the dinner dress up types, but you had to be early to get table with view. Service was good, however food was generally too sweat for our Australian tastes. Wife spent most nights in piano bar as it catered for music from 50's through to current. We found the service by cabin staff very good as they kept our cabin (6039) very clean and remembered how the wife liked her bed made each day (not tucked in, and like a tidy disaster area) and bistro staff possibly over attentive at times. Over all we had a good stay on the Noordam and I only have one minor whine, that was the A$1 per minute for casual WiFi usage (plans were available from US$50 for 100 minutes) so I used free WiFi available in at coffee lounges at each port of call. Disembarkation at Vancouver was well planned and coordinated with priority going to those who needed to meet other transport. We waited about 2 hours mainly in cabin and bistro. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Before my father passed away last year he told my sister and I to take a cruise after he was gone. My brother in law has been to every state in the USA except Alaska. We chose the land and sea Alaskan package through Holland America. ... Read More
Before my father passed away last year he told my sister and I to take a cruise after he was gone. My brother in law has been to every state in the USA except Alaska. We chose the land and sea Alaskan package through Holland America. Everything was very good through Holland America. They provided details about cruise excursions, as an example how long the excursion would be and what level of activity. The only thing we didn't know is on the land portion, there was a lot of walking, bus rides, going up and down steps. We didn't have problems with this, but someone older with limitations, it would be nice to know ahead of time. We arrived at Seward, AK by train. Holland America gave us our sea pass on the train, all we had to do was wait in line to go through security. They only had 1 lane opened, which took about 45 minutes to get through. Expect to wait in line for a while. We had a suite and it was a great size. We have traveled on Royal Caribbean and their junior suite was smaller than Holland America. We had a double sink, separate shower and bathtub/shower in the bathroom. We found accommodations on Holland America very nice. We had open seating for dining and we never had to wait to be seated. We did notice however, it was difficult to get cocktails in a timely manner, so we learned to bring one in with us to the dining room. As activities go, they were okay. With the open seating we were able to be at the earlier shows. Every excursion we went on was great, we did whale watching and saw several whales with their babies, we were able to go places on our own to find the history of Alaska and we went on the Crab fishing boat, which was the best. If you do any excursions this is the one that was worth the money. I don't want to spoil anything for anyone, but the crew had a personal touch and showed us more than how they crab fished. Just a side note, Holland America had a generator go down in their sports bar, so the ship had to get into Vancouver early to repair for their next cruise. We also felt that once you are going through the disembarkation process the crew were not very friendly, they left you an impression of "get your stuff and get off". We traveled with 4 adults and no children. We are scheduled to take another cruise in February on Holland America, because I won a free cruise playing Bingo onboard, so yes, because of the free cruise we are traveling on Holland America. Would I choose Holland America again if I didn't win the cruise, the answer is yes. Room was bigger, food was very good. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
This is our third cruise with Holland Cruise line. We have enjoyed all of them but a little disappointed this time because we had to miss two ports that we were looking forward to visiting. The ship had "Mechanical issues" and ... Read More
This is our third cruise with Holland Cruise line. We have enjoyed all of them but a little disappointed this time because we had to miss two ports that we were looking forward to visiting. The ship had "Mechanical issues" and we had to remain in Napier overnight. It was very stressful because it was first announced that the ship had problems but that we would be underway soon and that we would reach Auckland on schedule. Then no more announcements and we were still docked in port. We went to bed that night only to wake up still docked in Napier. There was such a long period of time before the Captain informed us that we would be remaining in Napier and that buses would we available to take people into town and that we would be leaving at 1030pm AND would miss Auckland (no berth available) AND Bay of Islands ( not enough time to cover distance) (????). Mechanical problems happen. The lack of timely communication was my issue. We received credit for the port charges, excursions and $100 OBC as well as 20% off our NEXT cruise. To Holland's credit, they did allow us to use that 20% credit on a cruise that we had previously booked. The food was good in the Lido but they stop serving dinner at 8pm. The MDR food was excellent on the two occasions that we dined there. The Pinnacle Dining was fantastic. The food was above average with great service. The Shows were very good (some better than other's) the Holland Staff Accordion Player, she was a Great show all by herself and the BB King Band and Singers were Great. We went to the BB King lounge several nights and we didn't hear the same songs over and over. They changed it up with a variety of numbers. Very entertaining. We were every lucky to get an up sale to the Neptune Suite 5190 which was the aft wrap. The suite is well appointed with so much space and storage. A dressing room with 3 closets, as well as 4 closets in the main cabin. On a couple of nights during heavy rain and winds, my husband said the vibration of the ship woke him up. I did feel the vibration one night, but it in no way took away from the enjoyment of the cabin. I would take that up sale again in a heartbeat. The Neptune Lounge with Michelle and Anne was great and they both helped with everything. They happily made my call to Sydney so I could confirm a post cruise reservation for us. The Casino staff, Roxanne, Julia and Ernest were the greatest. We always book Holland excursions and the excursions that we did take were well organized. One suggestion that I made, was that there be a more visible Holland port guide on the pier, because in Akaroa (Christchurch) we had trouble finding our pickup point. Embarkation was smooth, (Neptune status helped I'm sure) because otherwise there were lines everywhere. Disembarkation was so fast, We were off the ship and in a cab before we knew it. The service on the ship everywhere was great. The Lido Pool Terrace Grill food is great with fast service even when they are busy. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This cruise was on our "bucket list!" The ports in New Zealand and Australia that we did visit were good. We did run into a mechanical problem and were not able to sail to Auckland or Bay of Islands. This was unfortunate, but ... Read More
This cruise was on our "bucket list!" The ports in New Zealand and Australia that we did visit were good. We did run into a mechanical problem and were not able to sail to Auckland or Bay of Islands. This was unfortunate, but these things happen and I feel we were fairly compensated for the delay. We did spend an extra day in Napier and everything that could be done was done to make our extra day enjoyable. The trans-Pacific repositioning portion of the cruise was hampered by some bad weather and outrunning a couple of storms. We had three or four ports where there were only beaches to enjoy and I am not a beach person. I am a "seasoned" cruiser and found the food had deteriorated in both selection and quality since our last cruise a year ago. The cutbacks being made are beginning to really show! Have you ever heard of macaroni being served as an entree? The servers were run off their feet and the food was "warm" and not "hot" when it arrived at our table. The Indonesian and Phillipine staff continue to amaze me with their smiles and desire to help you. Entertainment was - for the most part - very good. The cruise director, Carlos, was exceptional. Unfortunately, the Captain was visible to passengers only when it was essential. Unfortunately, this was far from the best cruise we have taken with Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We arrived in Auckland 4 days early to enjoy the sights and sounds. Nice small city- easy to walk around. Jump on-off bus service available daily to see the sights and boat trips available round the bay. Lovely clean and fresh feel to ... Read More
We arrived in Auckland 4 days early to enjoy the sights and sounds. Nice small city- easy to walk around. Jump on-off bus service available daily to see the sights and boat trips available round the bay. Lovely clean and fresh feel to the air and warm enough in March! Because I owned up to having a sore throat had to wait 20 minutes for the nurse to reappear. Thought we were not going to be allowed on the cruise liner. People were being processed rapidly but not us. Nurse was miffed when a staff member pointed out that we had been waiting for her to reappear after her departure. Surprise, surprise once on board my sore throat did not seem to be a problem to anyone. (It developed into a full blown cold but I bought medication and treated myself for the next two weeks. We also made sure that we kept to ourselves to contain the germs.) Thought we could enjoy a leisurely cruise round New Zealand and part of Australia seeing plenty of scenery. This was our first cruise and it was a special anniversary! Most of sailing done at night so little to see and too far off shore anyway. What we did see we generally enjoyed. Napier gave the cruise ship arrival a very good welcome followed by a great jazz band send off. For us the boat was too crowded. Breakfast and lunch you had to search to find clear/clean tables. It looked as though the dining facilities had been increased at some time with extra chairs and tables put along the walkways into the dining facilities. Staff tried to cope but everyone trying to eat at once made it a trial. The odd member of staff looked out of place walking round displaying cans of coke etc could have been better utilised. Will say that dining staff morning, noon and night were good and did their best for passengers! Disappointed in the Gala Night. In 4/5 star hotels it is a completely different experience! Evening meal generally were good and fair selection of courses. Felt charging guests 15% extra on top of cost of wine bit excessive. Attended a wine tasting session (paid extra) it was said to be a fun session but it ended rather quickly (one hour) and felt that it was a good way to get rid of wines that were not selling very well. (oh synical me!) Cabin was roomy enough and staff attentative. There was one evening we attended a show and there was a very good ventriloquist - had everyone in tucks laughing. Saw him again a few nights later - different program - very good. Plenty of excursions and it depended on how much you wanted to do. We generally chose to do our own thing visiting museums, botanical gardens. Being elderly did not want to over tax ourselves. One point - we had requested a cabin in a quiet location. It was great until the last few days when it sounded as though there was a child running and jumping overhead. We ignored it initially but the next evening (usually between 5.00 pm and 8.00 pm the noise started again. I phoned the 'Front Desk' to ask could someone have a word. Nothing appeared to happen. Next night - again the noise started up only more so. Rang 'Front Desk' again. A representative came to the cabin to talk to us - by this time it had gone a bit quiet. Whilst we were talking there was some noise but not as much. The representative said that they had tried calling the cabin but had not received an answer so they had not been able to do anything. (Don't think it occurred to the lady that perhaps the child had been left in the cabin whilst the grown ups were elsewhere.) She did suggest that perhaps we should use earplugs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Overall we would not have missed visiting New Zealand and Australia but would never ever go on a cruise that had so many passengers (1500). That is if we ever go again. On disembarking at Sydney, stayed four days seeing the sights. Went then mainly via Greyhound up to Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour (staying one night each). Then to Lennox Head via Ballina for four days. The Northern Rivers area is lovely. Great long beaches and very good weather. Finally we traveled to Brisbane for a couple of nights - again a great compact city with good public transport facilities. See the botanical gardens and the beach on the river where there are numerous eateries. Love to visit again. Greyhound service great! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We sailed on the Noordam in Cabin SS6109 ( a Signature Suite) as a novel way to spend Christmas and New Year and avoid all the hype that can be attached to buying and preparing expensive food and indulging in the giving of unwanted ... Read More
We sailed on the Noordam in Cabin SS6109 ( a Signature Suite) as a novel way to spend Christmas and New Year and avoid all the hype that can be attached to buying and preparing expensive food and indulging in the giving of unwanted presents. It could not have been much better. The small suite is quite spacious with a remarkable amount of storage and a very comfortable cabin and spacious bathroom. The shower could have been bigger but I have yet to find one a cruise ship that is big enough to suit me. I also think it is about time that shower curtains were replaced with b-fold doors. The balcony was large with enough space for four people in comfort. Cabin staff were very attentive and met all our wishes with a smile and professional service. The food was five-star. We opted for a late-sitting in the main dining room with a dedicated booking for two. The food and wine waiters were first class. The range of food was remarkable and we never found selecting a fine dining experience difficult. We opted to pay extra for one night $29 more), a lunch in the Pinnacle Grill and another in the same venue for The Cirque ($49). None was really necessary as the food in the restaurant for evenings and in the Lido (mainly buffet) were excellent. The only surprise in this department was in the Caneletto ($10 surcharge) for Italian fare which was very special. We tried to book another night but it was booked out. The ship was full but there was plenty of space most of the time. Entertainment was a bit ho-hum although a couple of specialty acts turned out to be better than expected. Drinks can be expensive although we shared a bottle of wine over two nights. Ou before dinner drinks comprised a litre bottle of gin and three splits for around $40. Excellent value. Of course, this is a ship which uses $US and insists on standard gratuities in US Dollars. When translated into Australian currency it can be pricey. We did not undertake any of the Holland America tours. We mostly had visited the ports of call previously and were happy to our own thing. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
This was my second HAL cruise, my first being in October on the Maasdam out of Montreal. this time the ship was better (the Maasdam old at 22 years for a cruise ship) but still tired and in need of a refit although a beautiful ship. My ... Read More
This was my second HAL cruise, my first being in October on the Maasdam out of Montreal. this time the ship was better (the Maasdam old at 22 years for a cruise ship) but still tired and in need of a refit although a beautiful ship. My bathroom smelt of mildew and mould and despite the very best efforts of my delightful cabin crew who kept it spotlessly clean they couldn't solve the problem. My toilet was scratched and scarred and should have been replaced before I saw it. My cabin wallpaper was split at the seams - and although a lovely cabin the condition of both not good enough for the line. The crew were excellent, absolutely no complaints there but the food mediocre at best and cost cutting was evident in the vegetables in the dining room and fruit in the Lido. Having to pay $US1.50/75 for coffee after dinner was an insult - surely the line could absorb that, it would have cost that to process to the account!! As for $US150 to do the tour of the ship - this totally blew me away. This was outrageous!!!!! $US20 for the shuttle off Dunedin wharf (no other way of getting off there unless you were on a tour) was excessive - think of a family of two adults and three children who would be down $US100 before they got into town - totally unacceptable. The Wellington shuttle at $NZ10 return very fair and the others were free. On the upside the cruise director was excellent and I enjoyed most of the entertainment. A broken handbag strap was dealt with at the front office very quickly and efficiently and with no charge - I would have been most happy to pay for this as I deemed it an extra service. A piece of property lost from my cabin was quickly found in the laundry by my cabin steward and returned to me. The Captain's daily communication was excellent and we particularly applauded his dealing with a passenger who had been using unacceptable language to a staff member after the ship was unavoidably delayed out of Auckland - very well done there. A first class Maitre' D in the dining room sat me at thoroughly enjoyable tables (I was travelling alone) where I met delightful friendly people and after the first time, he knew me and knew I didn't want to eat alone. Well done. To summarise, I think the Line has much to improve on it's cost cutting penny pinching problems and dining room food.. I have cruised many times and have to say I would use HAL again but they would be my lower choice rather than preferred. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Ok - new Zealand was great - except for Akaroa where we were not able to tender because of high winds (do not book a tour called the Mail Run - they do not refund). All other ports were great and interesting. Fiji portion - well if you ... Read More
Ok - new Zealand was great - except for Akaroa where we were not able to tender because of high winds (do not book a tour called the Mail Run - they do not refund). All other ports were great and interesting. Fiji portion - well if you have nothing else to do book it - I would not do it again (remember I am from Canada) the best port on that trip had to be Drauni Island, a small island of about 200, if you look back at the old movies with Fiji in them then this is what you will see. The people made you feel at home and welcomed. Now more on the ship, on the second part the Christmas decorations came up making it more festive nice treat as were heading into Christmas. The Pinical - needs to change their menu basically three items steak and steak and steak (all portions way to big) with a chicken dish and a seafood also think it is getting over prised at $60.00USD. The Vista dinning room all meals good but after a while the deserts were all the same cream in various shapes and forms they need to add texture to the deserts, best I had, had to be the snickers cake, main course all good but to me they need something to kick them up just not sure what presentation of all meals is still very good. Lastly the STAFF - how they can say EXCELLEANT day after day with their friendly smiles I do not know, wish they would share their secret!!! Get to know them you will be surprised! They start to open up a bit, has to be hard away from family for 10 months. Suggest we serve them (obviously can't do all) on some special occasion say a BBQ on the bow. Not sure if that will ever fly but I think it would be great for us and make them feel appreciated too This tour had a fast tour of the kitchen which was a great treat - you can spend a few hundred and get a tour of the workings of the ship, to me this was cheap and tacky (nickel and diming). The second week they also raised the daily tip amount from $11.50 to $12.50 pp yet when we booked it was no mention of an increase (did not argue this point as we felt the staff could use it and it was Christmas too) Also had issue with credits to the Pinical, went to front desk and asked for number of credits and clarification - the number was agreed to - but when the bill came that was not the case, my position in the end was it no longer is what the policy is - you stated this and I booked in good faith on that - in the end they removed the charges. So stick to your guns. Read Less
Sail Date December 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
Sail Date September 2015
We are not habitual cruisers and use mainly repositioning voyages to avoid air travel. We had previously made a transatlantic trip on this ship three years ago and our comments are in comparison to that experience. This trip included a ... Read More
We are not habitual cruisers and use mainly repositioning voyages to avoid air travel. We had previously made a transatlantic trip on this ship three years ago and our comments are in comparison to that experience. This trip included a pre cruise stay at the Pan Pacific hotel located right on the cruise ship pier and which was also good and made the embarkation very easy, espially the luggage which was dealt seamlessly by the hotel staff. - both embarkation and disembarkation were very efficient, particularly compared to our prior experiences in the USA. The ship has had some minor refurbishment but the overall cruise clearly showed cost cutting by HA compared to our previous trip. - service whilst pleasant was not very efficient and from recollection crew numbers had been reduced on the hospitality side. - food, attractively presented, probably due to the use of celebrity chefs , but not as good as remembered and "portion controlled", except in Canaletto where far too much was served. Pinnacle was OK but not worth the surcharge for basically the Vista menu. The Pinnacle specific wine list is not exciting although recourse could be had to the general list if required. - beverage, spirits and beer still reasonably priced, wine packages were not worth buying as the general list was far wider and little more expensive. The soda card is an absolute waste of money as it apparently covers only fizzy drinks, not water or coffee or indeed bitter lemon. -entertainment, not a priority for us but uninteresting, other guests were scathing. - itinerary, well worth it as a bucket list trip for the scenery which is spectacular, the ships routing also made the best of the narrow channels, glaciers, mountains and fiords. The scheduled towns, Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan largely subsist on fishing and tourist shopping and can be seen in a couple of hours at most. Tours were incredibly expensive and other than the narrow gauge railway in Skagway not worth the expense. Do not expect to see wildlife; it sees you first and departs. Cabin, we had a Neptune suite which was worth the additional cost over a signature suite (really only a balcony cabin). It gave access to Pinnacle for breakfast, the Neptune lounge, which we used a lot, and a concierge which gave preferential booking at restaurants etc. Our suite, #7088 was particularly good as it had an angled balcony giving side and forward views, a huge panoramic window and an unusual square layout without a "corridor" section which gave a large sitting area in addition to the king size bed, separate vanity area and massive wardrobe capacity. The TV was a small flatscreen and should be replaced with a much larger unit. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We just returned from a wonderful cruise to Southeast Alaska (the Tongass Rain Forest). I was concerned after reading some of the negative reviews but I didn't experience any of the problems others apparently did. The ship was ... Read More
We just returned from a wonderful cruise to Southeast Alaska (the Tongass Rain Forest). I was concerned after reading some of the negative reviews but I didn't experience any of the problems others apparently did. The ship was beautiful, both outside and in, and perfectly maintained. Not a "tired ship" by any means. The staff was wonderful - friendly and responsive. The food was great, in my opinion, especially the Canaletto, which was some of the best Italian food I've ever eaten. The entertainment was good in most cases. I enjoyed the juggler and the production numbers (excellent). They had a comedian, Kevin Jordan, who was very good. But I'm not a fan of Dancing with the Stars. And one of the acts was "Recycled Percussion" which didn't appeal to me at all. Though I really liked the BB King band, it was too loud for the venue (the modest-sized Queens Lounge). The daily events were very interesting, especially the cooking demonstrations, a show on art history and a beer tasting. The ports were small towns devoted to cruise passengers (Ketchikan was the most commercial) but I enjoyed every excursion - whale watching and a glacier visit (in Juneau), a thrilling ride on the White Pass railway (in Skagway) and a visit to an Tlingit native tribe and lumberjack show (in Ketchikan). Also our day in Glacier Bay was an awesome experience. The glaciers are receding so if you're ever going to see them, get there as soon as possible. All in all, a great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We were lucky enough to get an upgrade to a Neptune suite. This was wonderful! The girls in the lounge were the best as well as our cabin stewards. We loved the option of breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill. Laundry services were much ... Read More
We were lucky enough to get an upgrade to a Neptune suite. This was wonderful! The girls in the lounge were the best as well as our cabin stewards. We loved the option of breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill. Laundry services were much appreciated . I am prone to seasickness and must say no problem at all. We were midship which I think definitely helped. Took meclizine anyway, just wanted to be safe! Pinnacle Grill was excellent and we even enjoyed Canneletto, which doesn't get the best reviews! Main dining room waiters were excellent but didn't enjoy all food choices. Entertainment was excellent as well! Embarkation in Vancouver went well but disembarkation was a bit of a mess! Long line but finally added agents which sped things up! Arrived at Canada Place around 10:30 which seemed to be perfect! Took train from YVR with no problems at all, plenty of room for our luggage which had been a concern! Excursions were all great! The train in Skagway was our fave! Sad day in Ketchikan, with the Westerdam tragedy! All in all a great trip and loved the a Noordam! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We enjoyed everything but there could be a few improvements. Embarking took two hours of herding like cattle. Too long! Have never had to wait so long before! Disembarkation was much more organised. We booked the wine tasting ... Read More
We enjoyed everything but there could be a few improvements. Embarking took two hours of herding like cattle. Too long! Have never had to wait so long before! Disembarkation was much more organised. We booked the wine tasting which we loved on our last cruise on the Oosterdam in the South Pacific. We were sat at a table with nice people and then the wine expert began his lecture. He did not take breath for 50 minutes of information that was over the top. We did not get a chance to interact with our fellow cruisers and it was obvious that most of the audience found his speech to be egoistic. He is knowledgeable but has no customer rapport. It was a terribly boring one hour. The other problem was the unsuitable entertainment. The HAL singers nod dancers were excellent but the comedian was dreadful and resorted to silly potty humour. The drummers, although talented, were too loud and did not suit the older age group on board. The BB BLUES band were fabulous. The shopping on board was very reasonable. The Pan Pacific Hotel was an excellent hotel for embarkation. I will try one of the other cruise lines next time I think, just to compare. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This was our fifth HAL cruise and again a very good experience (we've taken over 20 cruises ranging from Epirotiki to Cunard and Renaissance), The ship was exceedingly clean and well maintained. The cabin service was tops, and the ... Read More
This was our fifth HAL cruise and again a very good experience (we've taken over 20 cruises ranging from Epirotiki to Cunard and Renaissance), The ship was exceedingly clean and well maintained. The cabin service was tops, and the stewards were most accommodating. Entertainment was above average for cruise ships. Michael in the Piano Bar was outstanding - he should be a headliner himself. The spa services were fine in their usual overpriced cruise ship way. Dining room service was good but the least personal we have experienced with the line. We were traveling with two grandchildren and the programs for them were excellent. The only disappointment was that the fish courses were cooked way to dry, even in the Pinnacle Grill. It was usually impossible to get a table for 8 (our group) in the buffet as there was no one preventing one or two passengers from taking over one of the large booths which was annoying by the end of the trip. Overall HAL presents a very good product at the higher end of the 7 day market. Embarkation was easy; we were on board in less than an hour with minimal waiting time in the chair hall. The crowd control was very good. On departing we were off the pier within 20 minutes of when our group was called. Can't do much better than that! Our train trip at Skagway was disrupted because the train in front of us broke down, so we never made it to the top of the pass. HAL immediately refunded 60% of the cost to everyone, a very nice gesture. Whale watching in Juneau definitely was the highlight of the shore excursions, though Glaciar Bay is outstanding every time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Sailed on 20 March. First time with Holland America. Had high expectations, was let down. Ship felt dated. The ship did not appear to be maintained as a once beautiful ship built in Italy in 2006. Sound system around the pool cracked ... Read More
Sailed on 20 March. First time with Holland America. Had high expectations, was let down. Ship felt dated. The ship did not appear to be maintained as a once beautiful ship built in Italy in 2006. Sound system around the pool cracked and spit many times making it hard to enjoy music. The overhead retractable ceiling on the Lido deck leaks all over the lounge chairs when it rains. Pool just plain ugly. Painting around the outline of the pool white with black smears, not attractive.! Great crew, worked really hard to help everywhere. Loved the fruit options in the cabins, the orchids in the Lido buffet. The fresh flower arrangements were beautiful. Cabin staff kept rooms perfect. Problem with balcony door when wind picked up, whistled like three tea kettles going off at the same time different pitches. This sound was heard repeatedly on many decks as other rooms seemed to have the same problem with door seals. Reported to front desk multiple times and the solution was ear plugs. Don't think so. Need Plexiglas around outside railings of ship to keep small one from falling to their death. " Front office" name needs to be changed to Guest Services, reminded me of school days. Some staff in" front office" need retraining on problem resolution techniques. Loved the fresh squeezed orange juice included. First dinning felt rushed and hectic, kitchen could not keep up, making the dinning servers look bad. Too much paper used for adds daily, switch to digital and put it on the TV. Great safety presentation, well done. Deck chairs on Deck three need some attention and a little varnish. Cushions on Deck 3 no longer cushion. Food was good, but did not impress, except on last night. It was totally a 10. Serve food like that nightly and you will always have a full ship. Entertainment very good. Beautiful theater. Do not take the Curacao Trolley Train Tour over priced for what you get and not worth it. The other excursions from the cruise line in Bonaire was one of the best ever. The ship excursion in Aruba good too. The comment heard most often on the ship was "Well it's going into dry dock when it gets back" Most people were commenting on the great need for a facelift. The food served on the Lido deck at the food buffet outside by the pool was at deck temperature. Cold should be cold, and hot, hot. This was not.!! Chicken and beef at deck temp. for extended periods is not a good thing. Crew amazing. Always so helpful thank you. Would like to see the dinning room open daily for sit down service even if it is only one hour. It was not. The afternoon tea was delightful, great idea. The coupon for 1 hr free hydrotherapy pool was most appreciated while in Port. Thank you. If you paid the last minute price you would not be disappointed in this cruise, however, if you paid the price from two months earlier, think again. Curacao and Bonaire and Aruba great destinations. They were so different from the typical Easter/Western run. Must see. The library area is a nice change from the rest of the ship with books to read, magazines and games, comfortable seating. The coffee shop in the library area serves good coffee, maybe offer a reward card. Child care was wonderful, they took great care of the kids and offered a myriad of options. Confused when in port till 11pm, however child care area closed at 4pm.(unless on a ship excursion) I was told. No other cruise line shortens the child care available while in port whether you are on a ship excursion or not. Thank you to Katie and Katy for a great job. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was our first cruise on Holland America and our expectations were admittedly high. The Noordam was great, we loved it. Our cabin was nice and decently appointed, except that they don't have CNN. (Why not?)The public areas are ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Holland America and our expectations were admittedly high. The Noordam was great, we loved it. Our cabin was nice and decently appointed, except that they don't have CNN. (Why not?)The public areas are comfortable, nicely and tastfully done and offer a cozy atmosphere. The buffets are well laid out in a manner that makes them accessible, yet uncrowded. The main dining room is elegant and the two premium dining options, Pinnacle Grill and Canalettos, are well worth the few extra bucks. However, we were dissapointed in the lack of good quality cuts of meat and total lack of fresh seafood. There is no carvery where fresh cuts of beef, ham or lamb are served, and I was told by the Culinary Director himself that Holland America does NOT server fresh seafood. How unfortunate. During the course of the cruise we spoke with numerous other passengers, many who had sailed many cruises on Holland America ships, and almost all deemed this ship's food less than expected as compared to other Holland America Ships. Again, not my words, theirs. All the above having been said, the cruise and ports of call were fun and the good memories made are many. We highly recommend the cruise and the ship, but set your expectations low in the quality and variety of food department. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
With a few exceptions (all too insignificant to even mention), this was another fantastic HAL cruise for us - we had some mechanical problems that Captain Jan handled flawlessly and some rough seas that he also handled without a hitch. We ... Read More
With a few exceptions (all too insignificant to even mention), this was another fantastic HAL cruise for us - we had some mechanical problems that Captain Jan handled flawlessly and some rough seas that he also handled without a hitch. We were privileged to experience the new "Evening at Le Cirque" menu and found it to be mostly an improvement over the previous one. We found the DiveIn to be a good idea well executed. Our stateroom attendants, Hetut and Dani, were as good as any we have ever had previously. MDR food selections were generally good and quality of food delivered was above average. The Lido offerings were par for the course, but the personal service provided to us by Nia was absolutely the best. Our most memorable part of the cruise was our dinner in Canaletto - it was far and away the best we have ever had at Canaletto and one of the very best Italian meals I have ever had. In case you haven't figured it out - we thoroughly enjoyed our latest Noordam cruise and, God willin', hope to make several more before we're finished. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
we have cruised with P&O and Princess in excess of 25 occasions and have often seen Holland America ships alongside. We have admired the appearance of efficiency and cleanliness and decided on that basis to give them a try. We took ... Read More
we have cruised with P&O and Princess in excess of 25 occasions and have often seen Holland America ships alongside. We have admired the appearance of efficiency and cleanliness and decided on that basis to give them a try. We took our 8year old granddaughter and 11 year old grandson with us as a special treat and initially were offered cabin 1036. This is under the nightclub and, as experienced cruisers, we know not to take such cabins because of noise. We were then offered cabin 1061 which was under the Culinary Arts Centre and Queens Lounge. We challenged Holland America UK office regarding any possible noise intrusion in this cabin from the Lounge above and were assured that the Culinary Arts Centre and Queens Lounge were not in use at night and there would be no noise. We booked on that understanding. Our first night proved that the Queens Lounge is used every evening by the BB King Blues Band and the noise intrusion in our cabin was horrendous. After two days of complaining (we were initially offered ear plugs like a previous cruise critic commentator who occupied cabin 1060 on an earlier trip) we were moved to a much better cabin thanks to Andreia Santos, the Passenger Services Supervisor. Cabin apart, we found the service in the Lido Buffet to be very poor; waiting staff had to be asked repeatedly to remove used crockery and even following complaints to Restaurant supervisors and front Desk staff there was no improvement; service of food was also poor and occasions we had to wait for 20 minutes to get food served even when then were only a few customers present; the biggest failing was the inability to have replenishments ready to replace the empty trays as food was served. It felt as if no one was really in control and the standards simply didnt match those on other ships. The quality, selection and standard of food, in particular desserts, felt well short of our expectations. Waiting service in the bars was, in our experience, poor and we had to seek out the waiters rather than the other way round - we frequently gave up! Perhaps we were just unlucky on this particular cruise but we also found a significant number of older passengers who were simply child intolerant and they had to be reminded that if they wanted absolute peace and quiet they should choose a ship with NO children. On one such occasion a man asked the children in the swimming pool to be quiet because he was reading his book! It should be notd that the swimming pool at the rear of the ship is adult only but it was evident that the better quality sun beds are surrounding the Lido Pool where children are very much allowed.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We picked this cruise especially for the ports of call. First time on Holland America. We were delighted to find the passengers mainly mature adults and that the staff welcomed family groups, many celebrating special reunions or other ... Read More
We picked this cruise especially for the ports of call. First time on Holland America. We were delighted to find the passengers mainly mature adults and that the staff welcomed family groups, many celebrating special reunions or other occasions. The staff was very kind and helpful to elderly passengers, many in wheelchairs or using walkers. However we found our cabin suite older and not as well appointed as the lower cabins, with no windows. The bathroom shower needed regrouting and did not look like it had been cleaned very well. Our cabin had a/c issues for most of the cruise and we were visited several times by crew taking measurements or doing repairs on the system. We slept with the balcony door open 2 nights as a result (blocked open with sturdy waste basket). When a taxi strike occurred at the disembarkment port, the staff had no information or any interest in assistance unless you booked airport transfer with them. Front desk personal very uninterested in providing any assistance. Warning for those expecting internet/wifi - not consistent and slow enough to be useless. Also want to warn passengers to check your bill as there were many issues with ours. Fortunately, they got settled by cruise end. The excursions are very expensive but many were well done; informative and hitting all the high spots of each port city. However, we had to walk quite a way to get to excursion buses either at port or for the return. Food onboard was adequate. The specialty restaurants were worth extra cost. I could not believe the size of glassware in the buffet section or at the bars and that you had to pay for soda, but iced tea and juices were included. I would recommend this cruise for my 55+ friends warning them to have low expectations about cabin and food. Would advise to book suite for upgrades and to research and plan your own excursions. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Everything was adequate, but certainly no "wow" factor. Steward tried to overcharge us multiple times for water from the minibar. Even though we sat at the same table every night, the waiters never learned our names or beverage ... Read More
Everything was adequate, but certainly no "wow" factor. Steward tried to overcharge us multiple times for water from the minibar. Even though we sat at the same table every night, the waiters never learned our names or beverage preferences. They were polite, but very rushed, and service was impersonal. Many repeat HAL cruisers expressed disappointment at the cutbacks. They all said it was the "little things" that were gone, all done to trim the budget. The welcome glass of champagne, the flowers in the cabin, the "higher end food", etc. The food and service at the Pinnacle Grill was at the level you originally would have had in the main dining room - for no extra charge. At the same time, the aggressive approach to get you to spend money was very noticeable - ridiculously high internet fees, charging you for a soft drink with your lunch, or loud promotionals to get you to shop,shop, and shop some more. Age is a state of mind. Some have commented on the age of the passengers. It's not so much the chronological age of the passengers, but their physical and mental shape. It was a traffic jam of walkers, Hoverounds, and wheelchairs. Others were walking around disoriented or confused, or fell sound asleep at the dining tables. Suffice it to say, the fitness center was never crowded. Entertainment was mostly music from the 1940's and 1950's. (Doris Day not Little Richard). Although I qualify as a "senior citizen", I felt like I was a bit young for HAL's "target audience". In all fairness, many seemed to be enjoying the cruise, but I'll look for different cruise line for future cruises. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We got our 100-day medallions on that cruise. We were celebrating my wife's 75th birthday. The food was inferior to all of our other cruises. The meals in the Lido buffet were inferior (mostly funky foreign dishes). Nobody knows how ... Read More
We got our 100-day medallions on that cruise. We were celebrating my wife's 75th birthday. The food was inferior to all of our other cruises. The meals in the Lido buffet were inferior (mostly funky foreign dishes). Nobody knows how to cook short ribs even though they were served three different times and never were they short ribs. The turkey was liked pressed meat. Never got escargot; a favorite for years. Steaks were hard as nails and filets were below par. I could go on and on! The only good meals were in the Pinnacle Grill where we ate twice. Breakfast was the only reliable good meal as well as the hot dogs and hamburgers at the outside grill for lunch. VERY DISSAPOINTING. But the final straw was when the cruise excursion group cheated us out of more than $100 buy not giving us the same opportunity as others to cancel an excursion when we arrived late in port. When we disembarked, we were told to wait off on the side until 3:00 pm. Apparently shortly thereafter, they were informing people that they had an option to cancel. At 3:00 pm, the 12-14 of us who were not informed showed up for an excursion that missed a few places because it had to be cut short because of darkness. We got back in total darkness at the time the ship was scheduled to depart. We were running for the gang plank and my wife who has COPD was almost falling down and crying. She was so upset that we skipped dinner. I confronted the excursion manager the next day he provide a small rebate after a heated discussion. I then attempted to contact the hotel manager at the front desk and the feedback the next day was that he would not see me and that the excursion manager had already handled it! That's not the way to treat Mariners. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We are a couple of seasoned seniors who have cruised on several different lines. We drive from our home and use the ParkNGo service for getting to the ship. This is our 4th on HAL and we like the "older" crowd. Service on the ... Read More
We are a couple of seasoned seniors who have cruised on several different lines. We drive from our home and use the ParkNGo service for getting to the ship. This is our 4th on HAL and we like the "older" crowd. Service on the Noordam is excellent. We had a rocky start due to the high wind and seas but it settled down the second day. Our cabin was 6074 with fantastic A/C and a wonderful veranda. We have traveled in this type of cabin before and like the space and large bathroom. After 2 days our cabin steward finally got the message, we want ice at 4PM for cocktails, from them on things were fantastic. The first night dining was horrible, the table mates were loud, opinionated, and I really had trouble believing their "stories". We were at the back of the ship by a window and the vibrations was too much. This is Main Seating at 8pm. The next day I called and asked to be moved closer to the front which was quickly done. From that point on we had great table mates and excellent service. I am sorry to say no escargot, don't know why. The only bad note was the wine steward, never came around, was rude to another couple at our table and just seemed not to care about selling wine. Of the 4 couples, 3 brought their own wine glasses into the dining room each night. The ports we visited were great except in Barbados it was a holiday so all shopping was closed as well as Martinique (we would not get off there anyway). Our Concorde tour in Barbados was fantastic for retired airlines folks. If you are ever there don't miss this tour even the ride to the airport was nice with the guide telling us about the history of the island and things we passed along the way. We did stop at a local bar for free rum punch, beer, sodas or water. It was open air and had a lovely view. The Trolly Train in Dominica was just what we wanted, to see the town not the country side. We did not see any of the shows, I enjoy the casino of which I "bought" another slot machine. The payoffs are very few but we are on a cruise and this is just for fun. The casino staff is great and make friends quickly, those tips help. I enjoyed the blackjack and roulette, 3 card poker did not pay off at all. Embarkation was a breeze, disembarkation was crowded. I can not stand in line and our porter talked to a HAL lady who let us go to the head of the line, sorry we butted ahead. If I had know this was the way it was going I would have gotten a wheel chair. We then sailed through custom, immigration, etc. out for a very long walk to get our van back to ParkNGo. It was a fantastic cruise with us enjoying the veranda more than usual and booking another cruise on board to take advantage of those perks.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Noordam – October 20/13 Mediterranean and Tran-Atlantic cruise We love cruising and we particularly love cruising on Holland America ships. We'd had a lovely long cruise in the spring and did not plan on this holiday but the magic ... Read More
Noordam – October 20/13 Mediterranean and Tran-Atlantic cruise We love cruising and we particularly love cruising on Holland America ships. We'd had a lovely long cruise in the spring and did not plan on this holiday but the magic word 'Sale' appeared and we could not resist. We have taken more than a dozen trans-Atlantic cruises in the past so there had to be new (to us) ports of call to tempt us. This cruise fitted that requirement. One of the biggest expenses for us in the airfare. I spend many hours researching flights on line and finally determined the most economical way for us to get from eastern Canada to Greece was to fly from Halifax on Icelandair to London, spend a night in London and then fly to Athens on BA the following day. Instead of paying out $3500 per person to Air Canada - it cost us $800 per person and we flew in a lot more comfort! We spent our London night in the Premier Inn on the Bath Road at Heathrow. We have stayed there many times and it is always a favourite of ours. Our second night was at the Savoy Hotel in Piraeus. The hotel itself was reasonably comfortable - nothing special. The food in the dining room was very good - huge (far more than one could eat) servings and very reasonable prices. On October 20th we boarded the Noordam. We have previously cruised on the Noordam and find it a nice mid-sized ship. We prefer the smaller ships however this size is still very nice - not one of those behemoths where you get lost, still a size to get to know and recognize staff during your vacation. Embarkation was smooth and we thoroughly enjoyed our Mariner luncheon before re-acquainting ourselves with the ship. HAL ships have wonderful libraries and our first stop was to pick out some books to enjoy. I mentioned 'sale' earlier. Usually we cruise in an inside stateroom as it is more economical and we are really only in our cabin to sleep and change clothing. This time, however, the price of a balcony was so good that we booked it. And then received an upgrade to an even nicer balcony. We were thoroughly spoiled!! Our cabin was large, very comfortable with a nice sitting area inside and another couple of chairs and tables on the balcony. Dave spent many happy hours reading on the balcony. And I thoroughly enjoy being able to step outside and get a breath of fresh sea air whenever I like. The cabin bathroom was a revelation - there was even a bathtub. After cruises where you felt like you should just soap the walls and then turn around in the shower - it was a treat to have so much room. We definitely loved our accommodations - lots of storage room for all our things and lots of comfort for us. This cruise was very port-intensive at the start so other than playing a lot of trivia, we did not get very involved in other ship activities until the sea-days part of the cruise. We opted for traditional dining and had a nice table for two and were thoroughly spoiled by our waiters and wine stewards (two lovely ladies). Meals are always excellent on HAL ships. We feel they have the best meals of any line. We adore spices and look forward to Asian lunches in the Lido, There is always so much variety that no matter how long the cruise - one always has lots of choices. Quite frankly - my idea of heaven would be about 6 months on a HAL ship - however I would doubtless need a whole new wardrobe as it is very difficult to exercise will power all the time. We especially appreciate the fact there there are a variety of safe sugar free desserts for my diabetic husband to enjoy. The Rijsttafel luncheon on longer cruises is a real treat for the both of us. I appreciate the fact that rather than hiding their recipes - HAL has available for sale several wonderful cookbooks with recipes that have become favourites. It is nice to make a particular dish when back home and bring back memories of enjoying it on a cruise. We had the ship as our "hotel' for the night before sailing away from Piraeus. I really enjoy this - usually we have sail away a few hours after boarding. Somehow this seemed so much more relaxed and it was a treat to watch the sail away from our balcony. The weather was perfect - sunny and comfortably warm. Ports of Call Our first port of call was Kusadasi. We had not been here before and most of the folks going on tours headed off to visit Ephesus. We have been to Ephesus twice and chose instead to wander about and explore the city on our own. We had a wonderful time exploring the market, bargaining for our purchases and enjoying the sights and sounds. We walked up to the Caravanserai. It is a beautiful stone building and is now a hotel with some shops around the interior square. One can just picture many years ago and travellers on camels arriving there – the camels sitting down in the square and their owners in the many rooms resting after their travels. So many wonderful streets to stroll and shops to explore and then a stop at a sidewalk cafe for Raki for two and turkish coffee for Dave. Our next port of call was Rhodes. It was lovely getting off the ship and walking around the harbour to enter one of the gates to this ancient walled city. We love history and have read a great deal about the history of the Crusades and Rhodes figured heavily in any mention of that era. We visited the Archaeological museum - as much for the wonderful art treasures on display there as for the building itself. This building was originally the hospital run by the Knights Hospitalers who cared for ill pilgrims and injured and ill knights. It is a marvelous place - bigger than modern day hospitals in small towns - spread out over a large area with a variety of levels. There are wonderful courtyards with flowers and herbs and fishponds to sooth the spirit as well as the physical ills. Next we headed up the Street of the Knights towards the palace - stopping on the way to visit an interesting (and free) costume museum. It was a little gem - do not miss it. The Palace was the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights Hospitalers. After the Turkish empire attacked and battles the Knights - they earned such respect that they were allowed to leave Rhodes with all their weapons and they left and settled in Malta. There they became the Knights Templar and their focus was on amassing wealth instead of ministering to the ill. We found it very easy to explore Rhodes on foot and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. Our next stop was Haifa. We decided to take advantage of a ship tour and it was excellent. Our guide Sharon was wonderful. She had a degree in History and in English Literature and her knowledge of history really added to the enjoyment of the tour. First we were driven up Mount Carmel to the church of Stella Maris – the church of the Carmelite nuns. Next we visited the Bahai Gardens. They stretch down the mountainside with a beautiful golden shrine half way down and the gardens were absolutely beautiful. Then we were off to Akko which is the modern name of Acre – of fame in the Crusades. The Turks who over-ran the country and drove the Crusaders out of it – wanted no reminders and buried the fortress at Acre under tons of rubble. We visited the excavated buildings and went through one of the Knights escape tunnels from the fortress to the harbour. It was all fascinating. We visited a shop that made beautiful items in copper and silver. This was the 5th generation creating such beautiful items – the family originally from Iran. We brought some wonderful souvenirs back from that shop. We had a walk through a suq and then a lovely drive back to Haifa and the ship. It was an excellent tour and our guide Sharon was a fount of knowledge. We highly recommend that tour. Limasol in Cyprus was our next port of call. We did not book any tours and actually had a rest day as had done so much walking the day before in Haifa. This is not a port that offers a lot to do – it was a port that the ship visited after the Egypt ports were cancelled due to the political situation in Egypt. Our next port of call was Katakolon – which is actually called Katakolo by the local people. We had a most interesting visit there. There are three main streets and walking along the middle one we came to a lovely little Greek Orthodox church that had been destroyed in WWII and had been totally rebuilt by one man (who was there in the church at that time). It was a labour of love that has taken many years – and well worth a visit. We walked along towards a little park and there purchased tickets for €6 each for a ride on the train up in the hills. This was a 30 minute ride that took up up through a little village , to visit a winery, and then to stop at a big hotel that had access to a beach for swimming. If we ever go back there I will get that train first thing in the morning and enjoy some beach time as the train goes back and forth while ships are in port. One can get off at the winery (which we did – to sample and purchase some wine) and at the beach and get later trains back. This is a small town but we noticed lots of signs advertising Guest Houses and Hotels. A lot of tourists visit here because of the lovely climate and peace and quiet. Many visitors head off to Olympus and there are cars and scooters and mopeds and scooters to rent and a bus that goes there regularly. Messina was our next port of call and we were just there for a few hours in the afternoon. We wandered around the streets a bit but because we just arrived there at noon – it was much like a ghost town as everything was closed between noon and four. Sensible in the heat of summer but I would have thought having stores open for a ship load of tourists in the autumn might have benefited the economy a bit. We heard there was a tour bus – not a HOHO but it would have given a bit more insight into the town but could not find a location for it. Tourism does not appear to be a priority there. Naples was next and we had wonderful weather there for our tour of the city. Last time we were here Dave visited Pompeii and Herculaneum while our travelling companions had a tour of the Amalfi coast. This time we wanted to see more of the city so chose a HOHO bus and were delighted with our choice. There is so much to see in the city but be prepared to do is slowly as traffic in Naples is unbelievable. There are two HOHO routes – the red and the blue. We took the red line tour which is advertised as a one hour tour if you are staying on the bus rather than getting off at each stop. It took well over two hours because of the traffic. The tour was enlivened by good commentary, wonderful Neapolitan music and the frequent wailing of ambulances trying to get through traffic. I do not think anyone would ever die of old age in Naples – they would die of traffic – trying to get through the cars and buses to hospital. There are so many lovely churches and interesting museums in Naples – one really needs a week there and all we could spare on this visit was one day. Any before leaving the HOHO we asked about the wonderful music and the guide had CDs available for sale – a lovely souvenir of our day there. Citavecchia was our next port of call. We were in port from 7 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. This was the end of the first cruise for many, with more people joining the ship for the Trans-Atlantic crossing. Had we been in port longer – we might have taken the train up to Rome for the day. Having been to Rome several times before (even spending a week before embarking on one cruise) we decided that there really would not be enough time to enjoy the city as the train there and back takes a good hour or more each way. We opted for a ship day. Alicante was our next port of call. The last time we visited Alicante there was a huge rainstorm and we did not get to see a lot. We skipped the busy shuttle and walked through the port to the stop for the HOHO bus. This time it was sunny with a marvellous 27 degrees and fortunately a nice breeze while the bus is moving. We were just in port until 2:30 in the afternoon so had to be very selective about what to do. We decided to enjoy the sights of the city but stay on the bus until we reached the castle of Santa Barbara. This was a fortress built by the Moors on the top of a hill. It was renamed after the Spanish drove the Moors out of Spain. It is a wonderful place to visit and the views from the castle over the city and the water are simply magnificent. Thank goodness for digital photography as I would have run out of old fashioned film if I had been using that kind of camera. We only got to scratch the surface – would need a lot more time than we had available to explore all of the castle. There are other lovely spots in the city to explore but time was so limited. We came back to the port stop and then decided to walk about for a half hour – enjoying the lovely streets with the patterned tiles that look like waves, and the many stalls and vendors of local products before we headed back. There is a beautiful old sailing ship in the harbour that has been turned into a restaurant , local markets to explore and a casino for the gamblers. This is a city I want to visit again as so much more to see and not enough time to see it all. Malaga was our next port of call. More sunshine and hot temperatures greeted us and we headed for the HOHO bus here. Because we had been on the HOHO in Naples – our tickets were discounted here! The trip here is an 80 minute route with about 15 different stops – a wonderful way to really get to see Malaga. So many people go from this port to visit Granada. Having visited Granada twice on previous cruises we wanted to see more of Malaga and this bus tour was definitely the way to explore it. There is everything from a Moorish castle to cathedrals, museums, lovely gardens, a roman amphitheatre – so much to see and enjoy. Malaga was the home town of Picasso – so the Picasso Museum is a must for fans of the artist. Cadiz was the last mainland port of call on this cruise. Some folks opted to visit Seville but we love Cadiz. It is one of the easiest cities to walk around as different walking routes are painted on the pavement. . We love strolling the streets – finding new and interesting spots on each visit. This trip we discovered the Church of San Francisco which looks tiny on the outside but is big and amazing inside. There was a lovely little restaurant on that same square where we had lunch. Shrimp tortillas are a speciality of Cadiz and they are delicious! Those along with potatas bravas and some local wine – heaven... We always head over to Cathedral Square and explore the little side streets and visit the market. After all our walking we decided to head up to the Cathedral stop and catch the HoHo back to the ship. The hop-on hop-off bus here is wonderful and despite having taken it on other visits here, we could not resist taking it again here. Two sea days after leaving Cadiz we stopped at our last port of call Ponta Delgada on the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores (or Acores as the locals call it). Ponta is a lovely place to visit and most people opted to go ashore – either to explore the city or take a tour. Because we had been there at least 10 times in the past we decided to take advantage of a quiet day on ship. Having covered the ports of call - which are secondary in my opinion - here is my view of the ship. The ship itself was immaculately clean and that was evidenced by the fact that there were no signs of illness on board other than colds. No gastric problems. That takes a lot of work to avoid on a ship as passengers are not always honest about health issues when boarding - bring Norvo type diseases on and spread them. Not this time though. No matter where one was on the ship - there was staff industriously cleaning and polishing. The entertainment on board ship was very good. The production shows were thoroughly enjoyable and we went to them despite having seen these new shows on the Ryndam in the spring. This ship is larger and has a larger cast so it gave these productions a different look. The guest entertainers were good - something for everyone there. Our favourite performers were Graffiti Classic – billed as 16 strings, 8 dancing feet and 4 voices. And they were a riot – great music and wonderful musical comedy. We actually enjoyed it so much we went to both the early and the late show and purchased their CDs. We enjoyed guest lecturers, and thoroughly enjoyed all our trivia matches hosted by Jeremy Hales of the cruise director staff. The music on ship was excellent, the HAL Cats, and the group in the Ocean Bar played wonderful music for ballroom dancing. There was a wide variety of music from guitar to piano bar to classical to dance groups. I enjoyed a few trips to the spa for the wonderful massages. It is the Holland America crew that make the cruise for us. The service is outstanding – far superior to any on shore. Our waiters and wine stewards quickly learn our likes and dislikes, our cabin stewards manage to restore order to chaos several times a day and everyone we meet on ship is pleasant and helpful. We thoroughly enjoyed the Rijsttafel luncheons, the afternoon teas and all of the lovely meals. We had fun at the Black and White Officers Ball, and all the crew was always adept at making us feel welcome and wanted in their home (as we are guests in the crew's home). Because we have sailed with HAL ships several times (we were awarded our bronze Mariner medals on this cruise) we often run into crew members that we have met on other sailings. Once again we renewed acquaintances as well as making new friends. The only downside of our whole cruise was the arrival in Fort Lauderdale. This was in no way the fault of the ship. We were delayed in leaving by almost an hour and as we moved off the ship found we were in long hot and uncomfortable lines because the authorities at Fort Lauderdale had insufficient staff to promptly process the passengers leaving the ship. They certainly would have been aware of the size of the ship and the number of passengers likely to be disembarking as well as any crew heading home on holiday. We were totally disgusted by the lack of preparation and organization by the emigration staff. We finally arrived at the airport an hour and a half later than the proper check-in time and were just lucky not to miss our flight. We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise, enjoyed the ports of call, loved the crew and the ship and just wish we could be back on the Noordam when it heads back to Europe in March. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
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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