2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
It was part of a cruise and excursion to Alaska and Yukon territory. The land part of the vacation was very well done and the land coordinator was exceptional. The ship must have a naval architects nightmare. It was very poorly designed ... Read More
It was part of a cruise and excursion to Alaska and Yukon territory. The land part of the vacation was very well done and the land coordinator was exceptional. The ship must have a naval architects nightmare. It was very poorly designed for efficient flow of passenger from one part of the ship to another. We usually choose not to go to the main dining room because of the time it takes to eat a meal. The Lido was extremely understaffed on this cruise. Only a couple of times on the seven day cruise were we even offered beverages except for alcoholic ones dining at the Lido. I usually had to go find pitchers of beverages, fill my own glasses, and return to our table. The quality of food on this particular cruise was by far the worst we have ever experience on a Holland cruise, and we took a 34 day cruise with them last year and the worst meal for 34 days was better than the best meal on this cruise. They routinely ran out of the featured meats for the meal. This will be out last cruise on a Carnival owned line since quality and service are no longer a priority. I recommend that you very carefully consider that your service on a Holland ship may be dismal. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
We have a big family reunion come all of the world. before this cruise the biggest worry for me was the condition of the ship, I saw many reviews that people talking about how bad the ship was. First the embarkation went smoothly, even ... Read More
We have a big family reunion come all of the world. before this cruise the biggest worry for me was the condition of the ship, I saw many reviews that people talking about how bad the ship was. First the embarkation went smoothly, even was raining that day at Seward, there were umbrellas available for walking up the ship, no long line at all, took us about 15-20 mins to get on ship. The ship was clean and well maintained, even it was an old ship from the décor I could tell, but it was tasteful and nice. we had various rooms from balcony to inside cabin, I visited all and they were nice and clean. Only first day one of our cabins had issue with hot water and they were moved to an ocean view from an inside room, One room had plumbing issues and was handled right away. The staff were very polite and helpful, the cabin-keeper introduced themselves to us and most impressed was Vista Dining room server, they are not only professional and also very friendly. As we expected the onboard activities was not much but the main stage show were fine, Lincoln Center performance were delightful, we did not attend any other shows. The food at Vista Dining Room were excellent, meet our expectation. Buffet had good days and some day were par. We bought some excursion on board, but we did find the price for similar tour were cheaper at the port off the ship. Unfortunately due to weather, they canceled helicopter glacier landing and dog sled. We did White Pass train ride, that was ok, I enjoy the ferry ride from Haines to Skagway better than the train ride. Over all, we really enjoy this cruise, HAL showed us great time. Disembarkation was little mess due to taxi line issue, so took us long time to get out Port Canada. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
The best thing about this ship are the four extra elevators they added either as an afterthought or in retrofit — Two on each side of the ship in the middle give us a total of seven elevators at entry point. These glass elevators on the ... Read More
The best thing about this ship are the four extra elevators they added either as an afterthought or in retrofit — Two on each side of the ship in the middle give us a total of seven elevators at entry point. These glass elevators on the side of the ship are much faster than the normal elevators and so wait time was actually quite minimal. A cruise ship leads a hard life, the cabins are constantly occupied 12 months a year the elevators are constantly moving so things do you wear out quick... noordam isn’t bad at all But too many elevator button lights are burned out, Drain on bathtub broken,the toilet stopped working for a while, There is some wear on the furniture in the cabins. The TV reception and remote isn’t very good. I certainly can’t mark it down because it caters to an older crowd, 80 percent 50 plus, but be aware of that when you are looking at cruise lines. The entertainment budget goes for a string Quartet that does Bach, not trapeze artists. Relatively limited dining options. Food is just OK. Wine is prohibitively overpriced even for a cruise line. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
My husband and I did the Double Denali with 7 day cruise down the inner passage. What a mistake that was!! I had one day on-board the Noordam before I got ill. One day to enjoy the ship - that's all. I had one day before I fell ... Read More
My husband and I did the Double Denali with 7 day cruise down the inner passage. What a mistake that was!! I had one day on-board the Noordam before I got ill. One day to enjoy the ship - that's all. I had one day before I fell dreadfully ill with a virulent flu virus which I contracted while staying in the Holland America chalet in Denali a few days before (together with up to 90% of other people on the same holiday, according to what the medical staff on board told us). I was told by their medical staff that it takes up to 4 days to show after infection so that takes it firmly into the Denali stay period. It was also a ‘seasonal identified influenza virus’..Presumably a local virus? We certainly never heard a holiday maker on our bus/train etc coughing - not until we got on the Noordam. Certainly by the end of the cruise people were coughing all over the ship. My temperature reached 104 degrees and I was 'isolated' and 'sanitized' in my room for 3 days. This was done in the most insensitive and unkind way - making me sit there in the room feeling like a leper. I sat crying while staff in gloves and masks swilled the room over with cheap smelly disinfectant (which, by the way, aggravated my throat and cough). I was too ill to do anything about it except get very upset and later to get very very angry. We were told to use the room service. Most of the food offered in the room service booklet was inedible to me as I was feeling so ill. My husband spent 3 days going up and down the ship getting me glasses of water and bits of food I could eat (cold by the time he got it to me). Ringing room service was very difficult as the phones are so weak that it was difficult to hear anyone on the other end and always so busy, and the people answering them often had poor English. Room service always said there would be at least a 45 min wait for anything. At no point were we offered or told about anything that might be available to us to help us. My husband couldn't even get a jug for water - he was only allowed to bring water by the plastic glass. There weren't even any trays to carry things on. We have never done a cruise before so all this was new to us and we didn’t know how to cope with it. We didn't get our down-turn service or any other niceties. We missed the ships activities, nice dinners, and worst of all our bucket list excursions which we had planned and paid for months in advance. We didn't even get any reassurance we would get our money back from them until much later. We felt largely abandoned and sacrificed so that their epidemic wouldn’t spread -which was ironic really since the whole ship sounded like it had the same cough by the end of the trip. When I was eventually allowed out of my cabin after 3 days I was very angry indeed and I spoke to one of the managers in customer services but he was cold, distant and indifferent. He had no empathy what so ever and said in the end that - quote 'if he compensated me he'd have to compensate all the others and he wasn't going to do that'. He even inferred that it was my own fault for not knowing how to use room service more and asking for what I wanted. He seemed to want to blame me and any other staff - he had no empathy or conception that I had been deliriously ill with fever and was still very ill and that we had never been on a cruise before and didn't know the ropes. I even ended up with a medical bill of $348! The rest of the cruise was dreary because I had such a sore throat I couldn't speak, I lost my voice, and I was weak and unable to do much. I had no appetite. I still don’t feel completely well even now. In short, the cruise experience that my husband and I had with Holland America was absolutely abysmal and it has put us off ever going on a cruise again. Not only were we treated pretty dreadfully, we never got the experience we were promised and we had a holiday from hell, with no recompense or care or compassion. I have emailed them about this many times since we got home and they have totally ignored me – except to send adverts for cruise holidays!!! How insensitive and inappropriate is that? As a good tip I would say that when you are looking for a cruise it would be wise to first find out how the company will treat you if you get ill while you are with them. I got my flu virus while in the care of HAL, - I was infected while staying in their accommodation - but this is what happened to me and my husband. I wish I had looked into it more myself. I cannot review most of what the ship had to offer because I wasn't well enough to explore it properly. My husband and I did feel that the food was of very poor quality though. Our balcony floor had a huge mound of rotting metal in it. Our cabin was very comfortable - but it didnt make up for all the awful stuff!! There were many others ill like me on this cruise, and I read in a previous review in March this year that a flu epidemic swept the ship then. Maybe the air con is suspect? I hope my experience helps people make their minds up about whether to do this cruise or not. We regret doing it very much. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
t had been nine years since we sailed HAL,and twenty since sailing the Inside Passge on HAL. There add-on land tour of Denali National Park, and sailing from Anchorage sealed the deal. In the dining room, we noticed a drop in the ... Read More
t had been nine years since we sailed HAL,and twenty since sailing the Inside Passge on HAL. There add-on land tour of Denali National Park, and sailing from Anchorage sealed the deal. In the dining room, we noticed a drop in the choice of meal selections. More average than top end, but the food was very good and the table service was excellent, after a blip on day 1. Having taken the four-day land tour beforehand, embarkation was a doddle, as we were the last coach in. All pre-checked luggage was already in our stateroom to meet us. Others who took the land tour had a ten hour coach journey from Fairbanks to the ship. Somehow, we had an internal flight from Fairbanks to Anchorage then a 3.5 hour coach trip. Much better. Not sure why Fairbanks included, as there is very little there to see in late September, if ever! Disembarkation was also very good. Noordam was in superb condition throughout and probably the best cruise -ship we have been on,in over 20 cruises. Happy smiling crew faces throughout the ship Alaska from North to South is the way to see the State. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
First large ship cruise. It was better than expected. Very organized as to getting on and off ship. Went into Fairbanks a day early so we could see sights on own. Enjoyed the Fountainhead Car Museum, caught MAC local bus, and the ... Read More
First large ship cruise. It was better than expected. Very organized as to getting on and off ship. Went into Fairbanks a day early so we could see sights on own. Enjoyed the Fountainhead Car Museum, caught MAC local bus, and the University of Alaska free shuttle from car museum, along with walking along the Chena River in morning. Westmar k Hotel was nice. Bus to Denali, stayed McKinley Lodge, nice. Ate at local Pizza/beer joint for lunch and Moose-Aka's Serbian restaurant for dinner, both great. Took free shuttle to Park and hiked, then took free shuttle to Savage River. Actually saw Denali! Next day long drive to Seward on motorcoach. Great driver, made good time and stopped for photos of Denali and nice lunch in Wasilla. Embarktion at Seward went smoothly, took shuttle to view small town. We liked going to the local saloons before getting back on board to be with locals. Cruise was great, no rough seas, sunny everyday, no high pressure to purchase anything. Food was good, met many nice people at meals, we had open seating. Waiters were fantastic!! Enough time in ports to hike and take excursions of our own. Free shuttles in each town and libraries in port were great to catch up on wifi. Happy hours were great buy, although didn t mind paying $10 with tax for Lemon Drop. Got many great photos of Glaciers, not too crowded on deck. Great art throughout ship. Lincoln center Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We did a fifteen day land and sea journey that started in Fairbanks and loved every minute of it. The Westmark hotel in Fairbanks was terrific, we stayed in South Tower, how anyone could complain about these rooms is beyond me. We went ... Read More
We did a fifteen day land and sea journey that started in Fairbanks and loved every minute of it. The Westmark hotel in Fairbanks was terrific, we stayed in South Tower, how anyone could complain about these rooms is beyond me. We went on the River boat cruise and did the Gold Dredge eight which was a lot of fun, a great way to get started. Denali was awesome, we spent two days there before moving on. Rode ATV and did the Denali Tundra wilderness tour, which was eight hours but had the most amazing sights and we saw a decent amount of wildlife along the way. The weather was perfect for most of trip, rained first day and last day, other than that we had tons of sunshine and warm temperatures. The two lodges were very nice with a rustic feel, we really enjoyed them. Then we took the train to Talkeetna and the train was fun with great views, and good hosts pointing out highlights as we passed them. Saw two moose along the way as well. Bartender on board to make sure everyone had a good time, we certainly did. After spending the afternoon in Talkeetna a great little quaint town with fun people, from there we went to Mt. Mckinley Princess Wilderness lodge which gave us some amazing views of Denali as well. Off to Anchorage on a tour bus to the Westmark Anchorage, an older hotel but kept up nicely. Spent the evening, morning exploring Anchorage which is a very nice city on the inlet. In the afternoon we went to the wildlife preserve where we say many of the native animals up close. Then we went to Mt. Aleyska Resort to spend the evening in the town of Girdwood. The resort was fantastic, very beautiful, high end with endless scenery. Many chose to go into town, we to the tram to the top of mountain and spent the evening eating dinner up there and enjoying the view. Then we went down and spent time exploring the hotel and it's many bars. After an enjoyable evening at Mt. Aleyska we boarded a bus for ride to Seward to board the ship. We got to explore Seward for a few hours before we boarded the ship which was easy and painless. We had a Verandah room with balcony on port side. Nice room, loved view from balcony, had lots of storage for luggage and clothes. Suitcases fit under bed and closets held a lot of cloths. Our room stewards Anom and Novi met us upon arrival and were great guys who did and outstanding job. Wonderful guy and people. The entire staff on the ship were top notch not a complaint on anyone, polite, friendly, helpful and boy do they keep this ship clean. We had great weather and smooth seas as we left port heading for a day at sea before Glacier bay. Glacier bay was phenominal being on port side we saw everything, Captain did a full two rotations at Margie glacier so everyone could see the glacier, I know we saw some calving it think everyone did, what a great day. Most of the cruise we had breakfast in suite with room service, it was hot an delivered on time. We enjoyed sitting on balcony having breakfast while we docked or pulled into port. Our first port of call was Haines, we had an exscursion planned, Portage glacier so we only had a few hours to tour area around ship. The excusion had a wonderful boat ride to the area of the glacier a bus ride to a camp where we suited up with life vests, boots and an oar (boy was my wife suprised) and hiked a half mile to ten man canoes. We only had to paddle about fifty yards before they could use trolling motor on back of boat. then we went ashore about a hundreds yards from portage glacier for pictures etc. Decent tour not sure wife would do it again, it was rustic, the outhouses were terrible. Juneau was our next port we had time to explore before and after our Whale watching excursion, with Mendehal glacier tour. I wish we had more than an hour at the glacier, theres a water fall Nugget falls thats walkable but its a two mile walk, I got pictures but I would've like a closer view. We saw five whales on our cruise to Orca Lodge for a great lunch and shopping (yes more shopping & the only place they don't have gift stores is the bathrooms in Alaska). It was a nice excusion, very well executed and narrated. We went to red dog saloon, I had five Duck fart shots which were very good, wife didn't care for them. Walked around Juneau for the rest of the day before heading back to the ship for dinner. We only ate in the main dining room once and it was very nice and good. Most of the time we were busy and just hit the Lido buffet which had similar items as main dining room, but finding a seat was a chore sometimes. Food was getting cold by the time we sat down. From Juneau we headed to Ketchickan where we saw first day of rain in some time. We had two hours to look around before we went to Neets bay for bear watching via floatplane. I was worried they may cancel flight but it went off without a hitch. The plane ride was great on the way to Neets bay. At neets bay we saw three bear up close and personal at the hatchery, evidently we were at the end of one salmon run and very beginning of another. The bears were within 20 yards but we were on observation deck. On the flight back to Ketchikan our pilot took us over some of the Misty Fjords and then thru some spectacular scenery, saw seals on rock, Dall sheep on hillside it was a wonderful flight back. Once back on ship we watched two adult eagles with a juvenile down on the shore line. Upon leaving Ketchikan we headed towards the inside passage in the rain and some rough seas. Once we got to the inside passage the seas smoothed out. Woke up saturday morning watched us pull into Vancouver which is a beautiful city for disembarkment. We had breakfast in room as we waited for our group to be called, we had a 9-9:30 time and we were at the airport by 10:15ish very easy. Overall it was a marvelous trip, I'd do it again in a minute. Holland America was very organized and terrific. The Noordam was well maintained, clean and the right size. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We have previously cruised with Holland America, and like them overall. Their mid-size ships are better (in my opinion) than the larger ships with sooo many people. The clientele is generally adults and families. We had previously traveled ... Read More
We have previously cruised with Holland America, and like them overall. Their mid-size ships are better (in my opinion) than the larger ships with sooo many people. The clientele is generally adults and families. We had previously traveled to Alaska with HAL; we went back because the scenery is awesome and we wanted to do Denali this time. The Noordam has mostly balconies, and does not have the Lanai suites that are on some HAL ships. Though you don't spend lots of time in your room, it is nice to be able to step out on the balcony and enjoy the scenery from there. Hotel service is outstanding as is so typical on cruises: rooms made up twice daily including evening turndown, plus fun towel animals. Our stewards were awesome. We had a suite and it included a whirlpool tub and two sinks. I was blown away (in a good way) to find this on a ship. There are multiple food choices. I am partial to eating in the main dining room. On vacation, I don't want to have to collect my food in a cafeteria line; I would rather be served. Service at dinner was super. We had a fixed seating with the same two servers, and they got to know our tastes and preferences. Breakfast was still nice, but we didn't feel the service was as good. They came by immediately after you were seated and brought juice, coffee, water, and pastries, but sometimes it slowed down after that. Still, in a dining room, you're not looking for "fast food." We did breakfast in our room once, because we had an early tour. They were right on time and the order was accurate. Food tasted good though the toast was not hot. I don't know if this is something that just the Noordam did or if they have changed it across the line, but I loved how they handled tour meetings. In the past, we have had to go to a lounge, get stickers, and wait. On this trip, the meeting point was on shore, and it was up to us to get ourselves off the ship and find the person with the sign for our tour. This was definitely preferable to the other way. It gave us flexibility to get off earlier if we wanted to walk around before a tour, and/or buy a coffee, or whatever. The cruise line offered ample tour options in each port. We like the assurance that the ship will wait if we're late, so we generally book with the ship unless we want to sightsee on our own. Probably our highlight excursion on this trip was the whale-watching in Juneau. The company with whom they have contracted (Gasteau Guiding) uses boats that are specially designed for whale watching, and there are only about 20 people on board. They guarantee you will see a whale. We saw multiple whales; it was truly amazing. We had little interaction with the EXC tours staff because we booked our tours online in advance. All of our tickets were delivered to our stateroom, so there was no standing in line, which was great. On excursions, I would also highly recommend the hop on/hop off bus with luggage transfer for Vancouver if your flight arrangements permit. We had wanted to see Vancouver, and were afraid we would have to spend a night. But the flight that HAL arranged was a "red eye" that didn't leave until 11:00 p.m., so we had all day in Vancouver. They provided us special luggage tags on board for checking our bags with the hop on/hop off people, and those people were in the cruise terminal as we exited. It was a fairly smooth process to leave our bags with them and get started on the bus. Then we had all day to see Vancouver, hopping off and back on whenever we wanted. The ticket includes both the park route and the city route. When we were finished, we hopped on the "Sky Train" (ticket included in the excursion) and headed for the airport. At the airport, we picked up our luggage from the hop on/hop off people (pick up point a little tricky to find but worked out ok) and then checked in for our flight. The hotel where they put us in Anchorage prior to Denali had great staff but needs an update. The hotel staff were awesome but the contracted tour people in Anchorage (who handle transfer to the train and optional excursions) were not real helpful. We paid for a transfer from the airport to the hotel and they ended up putting us in a cab with a voucher. In hindsight, we would have paid far less to just get a cab ourselves. We also did a pre-trip to Denali, which I definitely recommend if you have the time and $. The train trip up is amazing - on a special Holland America train car with upper deck seating for all and restaurant on lower deck. There is a guide and a bartender who serves, in addition to adult beverages, coffees and other items. They run a tab, and during the last hour of the trip, bring you your bill and you settle with your credit card. Very convenient and efficient! The ship had a variety of activities. The asst. cruise director, Johann, was particularly visible as he ran trivia games and deejay-ed in the evening. The string group, now called "Lincoln Center," was very good and very popular - you had to arrive early to get a seat for their performances. The main stage shows were varied, with two Broadway-type shows on our 7-day cruise, plus a comedian, a magician, and a BBC Earth film of Alaska with musical accompaniment (this was GREAT!). We felt that music was too loud for the mainstage shows & probably damaged our hearing but the performers were good. The cruise director himself did not seem to be very present on the ship, at least to us. (Maybe we just didn't go to the right places to see him?) He did work to minimize announcements, which I appreciate. Embarkation at Seward was amazing. Maybe there were more crowded times, but we basically walked right up to an agent, who had everything ready, and we were on the ship within about 5 minutes. Disembarkation at Vancouver was also efficient. I love that they let you stay in your cabin now until you disembark, which made it more comfortable. Re-embarkation at that various ports was also pretty efficient and smooth, unlike another cruise line we have traveled on that has larger ships but just one magnetometer, so it takes forever to get back on the ship! It appears the Noordam was last re-fitted/upgraded in 2006, and there were some signs of wear, but the crew was also continually painting, repair, etc. to keep it in ship shape. Overall, we are satisfied and happy with this Holland America Cruise.Every ship can have little problems, but overall, things went well and we definitely plan to sail with them again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We are first timers, so we were a bit apprehensive. However we thought ship was excellent esp. staff, service, food, and most of all the classical quintet in the Lincoln Center. Other plus points were the gym, quiet areas around ... Read More
We are first timers, so we were a bit apprehensive. However we thought ship was excellent esp. staff, service, food, and most of all the classical quintet in the Lincoln Center. Other plus points were the gym, quiet areas around ship, state of decor. The food and service in the MDR were top notch , including afternoon tea every day. The cabin service was very good, prompt and polite. A few negatives such as the show on the main stage which wasn't great, the rangers talks, the kitchen tour ( which was a very short walk through and a few words from the head chef). Overall the experience exceeded our expectations and we would recommend this ship. Although having said that we are first timers so we have no other cruise ships to compare this one with. We had room no. 5189 verandah deck at rear of ship and we were very happy with it . Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Second time cruising on HAL in Alaska (previously the Zaandam same itinerary). Booked a week out with "they pick your inside cabin" rate. Got 6022 which is forward inside and aligned parallel to the hallway. Solo traveler just ... Read More
Second time cruising on HAL in Alaska (previously the Zaandam same itinerary). Booked a week out with "they pick your inside cabin" rate. Got 6022 which is forward inside and aligned parallel to the hallway. Solo traveler just over 65, and fairly active. I chose HAL because they stop in Glacier Bay and Haines on this itinerary. I remember they had an excellent Room Service policy, should I need to take advantage (you can still order anything from the MDR dinner menu during the first hour of service). I also like the Explorations Cafe venue for the free snacks (and btw if you have a beverage card, the coffee drinks there are included, which is not the rule on the other lines which have Starbucks etc for the premium coffees). The cabin I found small but serviceable, except that for some reason I did not have a chair, just a stool that tucked under the desk. I believe if I had realized that I should also have a chair, I could have asked for one to be delivered. The storage was plentiful, and there were sufficient outlets. storage and desk space. Bedding was comfortable, all plumbing worked well and drained properly. No musty odors or issues with cleanliness. Room stewards were excellent as was room service. My first day I made a dinner reservation in the MDR for a table for 2 , which was available at 8pm. That was fine with me, with the long port days. If I was peckish, I would go grab a pre-dinner snack from Explorations or Lido. Service in the MDR (2nd level) also flawless, although the last night it was a little slow but the assistant steward apologized. I was remembered every night and given the same table by the host. I had fish every night except one. All fish was cooked "a point" as they say and the steak as requested medium rare. The waiters checked back on my satisfaction.As far as Lido, it was a bit of a cluster... the circulation is difficult and crowded and the double-sided layout broken up by the Italian restaurant is confusing. My approach was either to go very early, or to grab a few appetizer dishes and then go out to the back deck, if I couldn't get a table out of the circulation pattern... Note that it is permissible for a single person or two people to sit at a big table in the Lido.. you aren't mandated to sit near the coffee service. fortunately the weather was good during most of our cruise. I also kept a stash of plain yogurt, fruit and smoked salmon (in ziplock) in my room fridge. Made use of room service for coffee a few times in the early morning. They came promptly within 15 minutes. (Tip..buy or bring a large insulated travel mug). As an inside cabin passenger, public spaces are important. Noordam has some good ones, in addition to Explorations, the Crow's Nest has a good forward view and there are lots of interior cubbies with windows on Deck 2. I also like the full circuit covered Promenade on Deck 3 and that aft deck section. The aft deck on 9 was crowded with smokers and loungers and noisy with the pool users. It's a shame they kept closing down the small open platform in front of the gym on 9 as there isn't an equivalent space with clear visibility facing foreward that doesn't have smoked glass with the exception of the bow. I loved the BB King players, and the Lincoln Stage is good if that's your cup of tea. I thought one of the comedians was awful and walked out after 15 minutes, same with the staff production show (although I am not a fan of that type of entertainment). The Trivia contests run by the South African guy were fun . The "naturalist" also was hit or miss, enjoyed part of his presentation on using binoculars. Watched some of the BBC documentaries on the television during the at sea days. Fortunately there was a NPS naturalist doing a whale survey on the bow and he was a big help to those of us interested in bird spotting in Glacier Bay. Wish the captain had kept the bow open longer, there was really no reason to close it in the good weather and calm seas we had all the way out until the NPS staff were dropped off. I enjoyed the pea soup service and the Chocolate Surprise "swarm" was delightful. Wish I hadn't had dessert that night.. we should have been warned. Did not like the Tea service with the giant tables and limited choices. Was slightly disappointed in the kitchen tour..too fast vs the much better one of Royal Caribbean. The gym has a great view but is crowded. I didn't care for the one stretch class I took, or the constant pressure to buy something if you took a class. As a 5-time cruiser I know better than to go all of the art auction and gym sessions which are designed to sell, sell, sell. I also didn't buy any ship's tours. Pre-cruise I went on the $98 Resurrection Bay boat ride with Major Marine, where we saw bubble-netting humpbacks and a pod of Orca. Also did the train from Anchorage on my own ($108) and used the white shuttle to Mendenhall so I wasn't limited on time. Had time to visit the "SLAM" which is in the center of town and excellent. Haines I just walked over to Mud Bay and used the free town bus to the Brewery. Ketchikan I used the public bus to Totem Bight and Potlach Park. Embarkation in Seward took an hour. In Vancouver I walked off with my own luggage in about 10 minutes. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
This was our first trip to Alaska and first Cruise! HAL was recommended by our TA and we really enjoyed ourselves. Brought meds for motion sickness but only took it the first night when we were at sea. A little rocky but we did fine! ... Read More
This was our first trip to Alaska and first Cruise! HAL was recommended by our TA and we really enjoyed ourselves. Brought meds for motion sickness but only took it the first night when we were at sea. A little rocky but we did fine! Our room was very spacious, the attendants were very nice and quite efficient, room service was prompt, laundry service was good also. The 2 specialty restaurants were the best with the MDR coming in next. We were not impressed with the Buffett. Lots of time the food was cold and the variety got old after a couple days. Plus after 2pm half of the stations were closed so if you wanted a late lunch, you had to have what was available. This was our only complaint other than the lack of supervision of some of the kids onboard. We never spent time at the pool because it was so noisy. It wasn't that big of a problem because we found some quiet spots! We loved the Crows Nest, Americas Test Kitchen and our balcony! Trivia was fun! Glacier Bay was spectacular! We went to Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau and took the tram. Cloudy so we didn't see much. We toured around Haines and saw the Lumberjack show in Ketchikan. We also took a floatplane ride in Ketchican. Best part of the whole trip! Sunny so we could see everything! Gorgeous! I was a little nervous about going but I loved it We have no other ship to compare the Noordam to so it was quite fine for us. Liked the fact that it was smaller with less people. Everyone was very nice and HAL was well organized! We had perfect weather for our whole trip! A little rain in the afternoon at Mendenhal and that was about it. Drizzle when we came back from the Tram. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
The food in both the dining room and on the lido deck was excellent and always presented beautifully. Service was excellent. The ship was sparkling clean everywhere we went. I would highly recommend this ship. We liked our room with a ... Read More
The food in both the dining room and on the lido deck was excellent and always presented beautifully. Service was excellent. The ship was sparkling clean everywhere we went. I would highly recommend this ship. We liked our room with a veranda. It was not near the elevator, which is good. You don't want a room in the open hall by the elevators because when people get off the elevator they talk loudly and wake you up. We played a lot of trivia, which was fun, but the competition was stiff. We also liked America's Test Kitchen. This cruise was on the inside passage in Alaska, from Seward to Vancouver. The scenery was beautiful and we loved the stops in Haines, Juneau and Ketchikan. We went for a whale-watching day trip in Seward before the cruise and were not disappointed. We saw orcas, humpbacks, sea otters, seals, sea lions, and bald eagles. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Overall a great cruise experience , the ship well maintained throughout , the cabin was very nicely appointed and there was plenty of storage . In addition , the cabin steward service was excellent . The main dinning room food was average ... Read More
Overall a great cruise experience , the ship well maintained throughout , the cabin was very nicely appointed and there was plenty of storage . In addition , the cabin steward service was excellent . The main dinning room food was average , however the upscale additional fee restaurants were very nice and the food was excellent . As a blues fans we really enjoyed the excellent entertainment in the BB King lounge , it was really top notch . The main shows in the large auditorium each night were also very entertaining , a combination of dance and music. . The crew was attentive and eager to please . Very few children on this voyage , so it was relaxing and quite. Additional on-board activities included art appreciation seminars and an on-board art auction . There was also several classical music recitals that were well preformed and you had an opportunity to get to know the artists. The ports were all enjoyable and the scenery to and from them was amazing. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
The good: * Neptune Suite was spacious with sufficient storage area and was well maintained and clean. *. The staff were professional and friendly The Bad: * Entertainment options were significantly lacking. When there are ... Read More
The good: * Neptune Suite was spacious with sufficient storage area and was well maintained and clean. *. The staff were professional and friendly The Bad: * Entertainment options were significantly lacking. When there are was a show, the venue could not accommodate the guests. Really disappointed with lack of entertainment options. With 2 or 3 days out to sea, you’d really think they would have a few shows to attend. Other than the scenic views we were bored. *. The food was terrible. We believe the chef staff was on vacation. The menu also lacked options. Something simple like pizza was flavorless and like cardboard. The other problem was that because the food was so bad all of the paid restaurants were fully booked after day one for the remainder of the cruise. So we could t even pay the $50 per person dinner rate to get a decent meal. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
I chose this cruise because it was the only cruise to go to glacier bay. I felt the ship was classic. Perfect size to not get lost and interact with others. Our cabin and bathroom was larger than other ships. The specialty dining in ... Read More
I chose this cruise because it was the only cruise to go to glacier bay. I felt the ship was classic. Perfect size to not get lost and interact with others. Our cabin and bathroom was larger than other ships. The specialty dining in pinnacle and the Italian were extraordinary. The dining room and vista lounge food was very good and service excellent. We had a beverage package which was good but wine choices were limited. The entertainment in the B.B. king lounge was the best talent ever. We went to every show every night. The other shows were mediocre. The comedian was funny but the ship performance was boring. A bit of variety in the dance would have made it a bit better. The excursions were ok and ports terrific. I traveled with r couples of family and friends. There were a few children on the ship but cloud was older which was what I liked. The test kitchen was a great contribution to the cruise. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
The stateroom had a small we could not get rid off...finally found mold on shower curtain. Mirrors in staterooms were old and needed replacing. Dirt in corners remained throughout cruise. They were no activities for young ... Read More
The stateroom had a small we could not get rid off...finally found mold on shower curtain. Mirrors in staterooms were old and needed replacing. Dirt in corners remained throughout cruise. They were no activities for young adults..everything geared toward old retired crowd. All talks and presentaions geared to selling instead of onformation. Tv in state rooms did not work well....they were ancient. Service last night in main dining room was terrible..rest of time was good. Service in upscale restaurants and the value of food was worse than on lido deck and main dining room. All activities geared toward geriatric population. My young adult son's were bored to tears. Although the naturalist on board was great. We enjoyed his presentations. The shore excursions were either terrific...or horrid. Avoid the Duck tours. The glacier tour was great and going through Glacier park made it all worth. We had 3 in cabin...and all promotions wr re only for two leaving one of us out. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We did the cruise tour. This was the first time I did the cruise tour. The tour was before the cruise. The boarding pass has good information as to how the luggage is going to be handled. Hotel check in at Anchorage was smooth and the ... Read More
We did the cruise tour. This was the first time I did the cruise tour. The tour was before the cruise. The boarding pass has good information as to how the luggage is going to be handled. Hotel check in at Anchorage was smooth and the agents there was helpful. Check in at Denali was easy. But I found the agents there were very unorganized and most of the time we didn't even know what was going on. We booked excursions both days and there were no agent there to tell us which one is our excursion. We had to look for the buses and at times asked almost every bus driver. On our way to Seward at a buffet lunch, the bus driver never explained what we were supposed to do and we had to just follow other people. Or maybe he did say something but most of the people couldn't even hear him! We were sitting in the middle of the bus! But the scenery was amazing! I am glad we did the tour part! The cruise was very good. The Glacier National Park was just beautiful. Love the photographer took my photo at the deck by the glacier! What a memorable photo! The captain was nice to stay at the Margerie Glacier for a long time so we can see calvings! It was amazing! Our cabin was at the back of deck 4 with amazing balcony with great views! The cabin is a lot more spacious than other balconies. My complain is the server at the buffet. There were couple people looked like they were mad at everyone! When we ordered something, no eye contact, no thank you, not even a word came out of his mouth! His attitude was a little better after a few days! Then the food, both the dinning room and the buffet were just ok. The buffet menu repeated, it was just a 7 day cruise! Excursions were over priced but good. We didn't go to any of the entertainment. We were group of 4 high school friends, reunion! I don't think I want to go to the Noordam again! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I chose this cruise because after visiting the interior of Alaska and going to Skagway, I wanted to experience the Southeast and the Inside Passage. My primary criterion for the cruise was to visit to Glacier Bay on a one-way cruise. HAL ... Read More
I chose this cruise because after visiting the interior of Alaska and going to Skagway, I wanted to experience the Southeast and the Inside Passage. My primary criterion for the cruise was to visit to Glacier Bay on a one-way cruise. HAL met those requirements. That said, I was a little disappointed in parts of the cruise, especially the Lido buffet. The food was ok, but the started closing half of the lines with only half of the open time gone. Combining that with the fact that you could not serve yourself but had to be served by the staff, it created some longer-than-expected waits. I had read that the size of the servings was poor, but I did not find that to be the case. If I ever wanted more, all I had to do was ask. I actually had to stop them more from giving too much more often than asking for more. Now to the low-light of the cruise: The Pinnacle Grill. We had to take an 8:00 reservation on the last night of the cruise which might have influenced the service, but it was awful. It wasn't the wait staff; it was the kitchen. They couldn't get the food out in a reasonable time. It took about 20 minutes to get our entree after finishing the appetizer and then 15 minutes after that to get the dessert course. We ordered steak for one and halibut for the other and shared the two. The steak was ordered medium. It came out medium rare in places and very rare (almost raw) in others. We didn't dare send it back; we would have been there another two hours. The halibut I had was not even hot, just room temperature, and was no better than what I've had at other restaurants. All in all, I would recommend that you not waste your money on The Pinnacle. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
To seem Denali after missing it 19 years ago. It was well worth the wait. Train trip from Anchorage was stunning. Experience, overall, was enjoyable. Noordam shows its age but service was excellent along with destinations. Ship's ... Read More
To seem Denali after missing it 19 years ago. It was well worth the wait. Train trip from Anchorage was stunning. Experience, overall, was enjoyable. Noordam shows its age but service was excellent along with destinations. Ship's officers were first class. Shows were disappointing. Comedian was best by far. Tours tended to be very pricey. Lido Deck food could have been better. Not too many choices, way too crowded. But not having gym open after 9 p.m. was something I still can't get over. Nobody's going to walk off with a treadmill. Individual efforts by staff were appreciated, but having to have a cabin drain unclogged on first night (11:30 p.m.) after a 10-hour bus ride and a 45-minute check-in process were upsetting, but drain issue was resolved that night. Onboard shops could offer more selection. Getting off in Vancouver was the best organized of any cruise line we've traveled. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose this cruise because of the overall itinerary (triple Denali followed by 7 day Southbound cruise). Overall we had a wonderful vacation but there were reservations. 1. Denali was a bit of a let down - our booking was supposed to ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the overall itinerary (triple Denali followed by 7 day Southbound cruise). Overall we had a wonderful vacation but there were reservations. 1. Denali was a bit of a let down - our booking was supposed to include a 7 hour Wilderness Tundra tour with a snack included but just days before we flew out we received an email saying this had been changed to a 4 hour Natural History tour with no snack. The revised tour covered a much smaller part of the park & didn't go to the parts where most of the wildlife was likely to be. We had to start at 6AM and it didn't get light until after 7 so the first hour was in darkness. We did see 3 bull mooses but the first was while it was still dark, the second would have been good except the driver kept moving the bus so we were unable to get any good photos and the third we didn't stop for because of the amount of cars around it (apparently our trip was during the lottery period when cars are admitted to drive throughout the park. We were given strict instructions not to even put an elbow out of the window so as not to disrupt the wildlife but apparently this didn't apply to the car occupants who were out of their cars walking around in the open) 2. Our cabin was right next to an elevator which would not have been a problem if it wasn't for the 'bing bong' every time it stopped on our deck - even this would have been OK if they had only turned it down overnight! 3. Sleep was further disturbed by the air conditioning unit immediately above our bed! We tried to get this turned off (you really don't need it in Alaska especially overnight) but this was also found to be impossible 4. After a couple of days we checked our statement to find $13.50 per person was being added as a 'management charge'. We were under the impression that service etc was included but apparently not so this was a large & unexpected payment. 5. On around the 5th day we had a 'mini bar' item added to our account which we hadn't used. Strangely so did other cabins and we never did manage to get it explained or removed! 6. We celebrated our Silver wedding anniversary on board & I bought the 'Happy Anniversary' package as a surprise for my wife. Generally this went well but part of this was supposed to be a photo. I asked the front desk about this & was told I could go to the studio & get a photo taken so went to them after a few days to make arrangements. There I was told I had to use one of the 'candid' ones taken during the week & it was suggested we had one done during the Gala evening. We duly had this done then went to collect the next day only to be told the one we had posed for wasn't one of the 'candid' ones so we couldn't use that (apparently the 'candid' ones are taken at the table although this was never offered). We ended up having to pay an extra $20 to get one we were happy with. Overall the staff were superb & we were very happy but it is often the little quibbles & unexpected extra charges which are remembered. Holland America could do well to copy some of their rivals who include service charges & honour their commitments. We were particularly pleased with the dining staff in the Vista & Pinnacle restaurants who looked after us magnificently - especially on our anniversary. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Free drinks with the HAL means a poor choice of low quality wines with excellent food. This is not a good combination. Even with a group of 7 guests ( 7 x $ 9 = $63) they do not offer you to order a bottle or 2 with a better quality. ... Read More
Free drinks with the HAL means a poor choice of low quality wines with excellent food. This is not a good combination. Even with a group of 7 guests ( 7 x $ 9 = $63) they do not offer you to order a bottle or 2 with a better quality. The free drinks package means 15 drinks. Max per drink is $ 9. They don’t offer you the premium package if you booked explore 4 in advance !. For a suite if you don’t take explore 4 they offer you a $ 500 discount, which in our case is a better deal. The problem with the shops on boards is that the assortment is similar on all Carnival ships ; little choich for men. The hotel in Anchorage was far below the standard of the HAL, especially when you booked a pinnacle suite. In our suite we were surpised with polished shoes from another suite and the same with laundry, but then 2 times. The pinnacle suites on the HAL re just twice the size than a balcony stateroom and that's it. Not really a suite like with other cruise companies like Celebrity and Oceania. Regards, Peter Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
It's Alaska. Everyone should make this trip to see Alaska - especially since so much of this cruise is to areas that are difficult or impossible to access any other way. A previously positive experience with Holland America saw us ... Read More
It's Alaska. Everyone should make this trip to see Alaska - especially since so much of this cruise is to areas that are difficult or impossible to access any other way. A previously positive experience with Holland America saw us booking this cruise to Alaska many months ago with them. Our previously experience was in Europe. Sadly we discovered the "passenger profile" of the American cruise is quite different than our experience in Europe. We were notified two days before the start of the cruise (in Vancouver) that this ship had experienced a Norwalk Virus outbreak on the previous segment. This was going to required "super cleaning" at Vancouver, hence a later boarding time. Unfortunately the "super cleaning" did not seem to do the trick. Our cruise too had a big Norovirus outbreak with many passengers renaming the ship the "ms Norodam". On check-in, unfortunately agents had been coached to mislead the passengers - our agent said there were "a couple cases" of Norwalk Virus on the previous cruise. I had already looked at the CDC website and could see that it was in fact 142 cases (and this was subsequently updated to 167). We saw very abhorrent behavior on our cruise - by passengers, and by staff who apparently no longer enforce any standards of dress or behavior. Stay away from the Lido Deck on these kinds of cruises - the low-end passenger and their flocks of undisciplined children were likely a key element in the virus outbreak. This was also alluded to by the ship's captain in one of his daily talks. "Formal Night" in the dining room - we saw shorts, baseball caps, and other downmarket wardrobe and the Maitré d refused to intercept any of them. Is there a better option to Alaska on another cruise line? We'd like to go again sometime, but not in this kind of chaos. Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
CABIN 10019 -- Small balcony (room for two angled chairs and a miniature cocktail table). Room itself was very small, but there was plenty of storage space for two people, including two spacious drawers under the bed we didn't even ... Read More
CABIN 10019 -- Small balcony (room for two angled chairs and a miniature cocktail table). Room itself was very small, but there was plenty of storage space for two people, including two spacious drawers under the bed we didn't even need to use. Likewise, all of our luggage fit neatly under the bed after we unpacked. In spite of the cozy room, I didn't feel closed in. I have serious claustrophobia and had no problem with the room or the bathroom facility at all. Noordam is a beautiful ship that is showing some signs of wear (it was commissioned in 2006), but is well maintained by an attentive and friendly staff. At meals and in passageways, crew members smiled and greeted passengers without fail. Only complaint about staff is that many do not speak English well and there was some culture/language communication problems at times. Food was above average in the dining room and beyond description in the Pinnacle Grill (more on that later). Only one dining room evening meal was below expectations of your neighborhood Denney's. Most were far better with a variety of gourmet offerings for each course. Salmon was on menu every night but final night, which was trout. Second gala night we had "surf and turf" which was a very generous sized fillet Mignon and a lobster tail, perfectly prepared and well presented. Although drink orders were offered, we stuck with the complimentary water and iced tea at meals and had our own beverages in the room or during "happy hours" where beverages were $2.00 for second drink. We discovered that you have to buy the same drink as your second one AT THE SAME TIME, meaning be sure to ask for no ice (or a canned beverage) if you don't want Coke flavored water for your $2.00 drink. Bar service was excellent in the Crow's Nest, not so much in the Northern Lights lounge where we went for a music trivia contest. The Explorer's Cafe service is very slow during some parts of the day, prompt during others. It's worth a try. While not as good as Starbucks, Pete's or SBC, the drinks are yummy and hot. Very hot. We considered a beverage package, but opted to visit the Safeway Store in Seward to bring our own soda, cream and a small bottle of wine on-board. No problems getting through security with that. Hard liquor is not allowed, but reasonable amounts of soda, juices and wine (750 ml) are permitted. For our next cruise, we may do some math on the beverage plan. It may be worth the extra money to save a trip to the supermarket to bring our own beverages onto the ship. Pinnacle Grill is $35 per person extra and well worth the cost. I made a reservation before the cruise to be at Pinnacle when we were cruising through Glacier Bay on our anniversary. From the opening "shot" of mushroom latte to the amazing surf and turf dinner (four serving size choices included and a jaw dropping 32 oz fillet available for an extra fee), every food item was prepared to standards way above anything we have experienced before. The area is very quiet, in spite of a very large family with several kids at a table nearby. Waiters were not bothersome, but were on hand right away to refill drinks or bring the next course. If you've been thinking about cruising, choose HAL if only for the opportunity to dine at this amazing restaurant. Choose your cabin wisely. We were on the Starboard side of a south bound cruise. In other words, when the Captain came on to announce some cool feature or landmark, we had to find an open space on the other side of the ship or in the Crow's Nest. While we're on the subject of choosing a cabin, we found our 10th deck forward cabin to be one of the best kept secrets. Tucked out of the way, just steps away from the Crows nest and a short elevator ride to the Greenhouse Spa on the Lido deck, this quiet area truly was a retreat from the hustle and bustle of port day passageway traffic. Although as far forward as one can be berthed on a ship, there was relatively little motion until the last night. That made up for the week of restfulness. Sleep is hard to find on a ship, but the bed and bedding are among the best we've slept on. Two full beds joined together to make a queen bed on a stable foundation meant motion from the other person almost un-noticeable. Unfortunately, the pillows were either to "foam rubbery" or too "squishy". If you have room to pack your favorite pillow, it might make this the best night sleep you've had in a long time. ----------- Enrichment activities included among other things, the Windows Workshop. Of little interest to us since we have Macs. But descriptions seemed interesting, particularly those that are platform independent like using OneDrive. Also available were several presentations from America's Test Kitchens, one of my favorite foodie magazines/programs. The demonstrations were great and came with recipe cards and handouts featuring various techniques. They are not interactive as you might expect in a live performance. That may be the way they're done, or it might be because there was an outbreak of Norovirus during this cruise. ----------- Entertainment is HAL's Achilles Heel. What little entertainment they have is poorly done in venues that were not designed for unobstructed viewing or for musical performance. The GOOD: An excellent mashup between the ship's band performing and BBC Earth's wildlife shows was the entertainment highlight for us. Alexander Great's magic show was a close second. I also enjoyed Adagio's performances in the Exploration's Cafe, though I only heard them as I was passing through. Noordam's musicians are top notch. Take the time to enjoy their performances while you're aboard. The BAD: The signature auditorium on the Noordam is the Vista Lounge. At least a third of the auditorium (and almost all of the upper deck 'balcony" area) is obstructed by columns or the ceiling of the upper deck. Two nights, we could see the bottom two thirds of the backdrop. The third night, we sat in the floor area in chairs that must have been reupholstered leftovers from GITMO. Uncomfortable, these chairs had cushions that did not stay put. The UGLY: The cast's performance of "Ever After" is anything but what the title implies... A collection of popular music from the 80s and 90s played as the singers and dancers re-enacted several fairy tales... most at one time. Imagine Snow White and Alice in Wonderland on stage at the same time in full volume. Choreography was large stage performed on a small stage. "Ever After" is only a little worse than a high school musical. I'll give them an A+ for the multimedia backdrop. As far as performance that was poor goes (as described above), the problem was not so much a lack of skill and talent of the cast. Done in a theater designed for such a performance, and with only one -- at the most two closely related concepts, it might be an award winning show. For the seemingly thrown together quality, it gets the "UGLY" award for this cruise. -------------- The Greenhouse Spa is very expensive. However, we splurged and spent money that might have gone to an excursion or two to get their hydrotherapy and thermal lounge package. It is $249 for two people for the full cruise. Normally, it's a great place to "spa away" the muscle tension and stress in a relaxing and quiet space. Quiet, relaxing Earth music plays sometimes (volume and presence is controlled from the women's changing room for some reason). Only one day did we have disruptive people -- a pair of young ladies who were asked to be quiet by an elderly lady who stepped up to enforce the rules that the staff didn't seem interested in monitoring. The thermal loungers are very hot (hotter than water in your friendly neighborhood hot tub). They're not for everyone, but I found them helpful after putting the "luxurious bathrobe" and a large towel down. Signage asks people to limit their use to 20 minutes (in both pool and thermoloungers) and that should be more than enough. Don't be surprised if you find people sleeping on the loungers. They're not breaking the rules on purpose... these things are just that relaxing. The Greenhouse also offers a wide range of spa treatments for both men and women, from cleansing facials to mani-pedi's. TIP: Get your mani-pedi and facial before the cruise. You'll still have money left over for your kid's college education. But if you can afford it, these folks seem to know how to pamper with style. ---------- Public rooms, except for Northern Lights and the Vista Lounge are very nice. Some include prints of famous Dutch Masters' work, statuary and my favorite, wooden carvings at the main dining room. Not only are public rooms well appointed, the staff works tirelessly to keep them clean. This is especially true should your cruise face an outbreak of Norovirus as occurred this time. Crew members -- even the Cruise Director himself -- took on the task of "super-sanitizing" the ship's public spaces and passageways in addition to their normal duties. Other than the Lido, where a careless plate grab from an infected passenger could spread the virus, I felt very safe on board. I've seen little mention on Cruise Critic of the "secret" places one can go for peace and quiet. There are many of those on the Noordam. My favorites were the Explorations Cafe, library and the Crow's Nest. Yes, they can get busy at certain times of the day, but for the most part it's relaxing and quiet... and a nice seat with a great view can almost always be found. ---------- Embarkation and disembarkation were both well organized on the ship end. However, disembarkation took a long time and once through the HAL portion, customs became very crowded, confusing and disorganized. They do not sanitize those spaces like they do the ship itself, and one of us got sick as a result. It's a good idea to wait in your stateroom until your disembarkation group is called. While they let people gather in public rooms to wait for their call, you're bound to find a lot of people anxious to get on to their next destination and with that comes impatience. I was concerned about a tight connection to the airport, but following HAL's process, we got there in plenty of time. TIPS: 1. If you are a U.S. citizen, you'll actually clear customs twice. Once for Canada and again at the airport before boarding. 2. Try to have as little carry on luggage as possible as you'll be asked for your passport, boarding pass and a customs receipt several times throughout. 3. If you have a medical device (such as a CPAP, H-Wave or similar "large electronic device"), remove it from your carryon and run it through the scanner separately. Canada's TSA will make you do that anyway :-) 4. When clearing U.S. customs in Vancouver, have a traveling companion who can watch your luggage while you go through the process. A "convenient" kiosk setup is not convenient when you're trying to manage so much luggage and "ability" gear that you don't have a free hand to tinker with the machines, which can be stubborn if the pages on your passport are a little curled. Which reminds me... The "Handicapped" signs show a wheelchair, which is a universal symbol for mobility impaired. People with a cane, braces or a walker can also use the "Handicapped" line. Which may have made item #4 above a moot point for me. --------- Value for money? Tough call. We booked through a popular online booking engine that offered discounts only to MasterCard holders and was not cooperative in resolving problems. They would refer us to HAL to deal with an issue and HAL would insist that they could not help because we booked with a Travel Agent. The months leading up to the cruise were a hassle, mostly because of this "go ask your mom -- go ask your dad" challenge. It was worth the hassle in the end. But is it worth it economically? Here's a way to compare if you've never taken a cruise: A decent hotel was about $285 per night while we were in transit. Most included Tom Bodett's clean comfortable room with NO amenities. One included the free breakfast that's worth every penny. Add to that meals at around $50 per day while we were in transit -- just average chain restaurant meals not including breakfast. That puts us up to $2,345 if we did that for seven days. That's half what you'd typically pay for the Alaska cruise for two people plus the Pinnacle Grill and views of the Alaska wilderness you can't get any other way. I'd be reluctant to spend that much for the room we had. But if a human travel agent can monitor my booking and get us a good deal on a suite, it would be tempting. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
We chose this cruise as a way to get back from Alaska to Vancouver. We were hoping for a smaller, less crowded, low-key cruise. What we got was a filthy ship, illness everywhere, change in itinerary, the worst customer service I've ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a way to get back from Alaska to Vancouver. We were hoping for a smaller, less crowded, low-key cruise. What we got was a filthy ship, illness everywhere, change in itinerary, the worst customer service I've every experienced, really lame entertainment - I mean the worst!, and did I mention how dirty everything was? The good - our room was great. We had a verandah suite with a balcony. The Piano Bar and the BB King Blues Club was a blast. Our room stewards were amazing and we left them a very large tip. And now for the bad. I feel terrible writing all of this and hate to be a person who complains, but I'm hoping to warn people before they choose this cruise line or maybe catch the attention of HAL to make some changes (I did fill out their customer service survey, but didn't get a response). Be warned - this is not a young persons cruise. We are late 30's early 40's and I would not recommend this cruise to anyone under 70 - or hip and fun 80/90 year olds. You will be bored, hungry, and disappointed. The food selection. We've cruised before and were treated to wonderful food, awesome buffets, beautiful dining room experiences. This was the lowest quality food I've experienced, very little selection, terrible dining service, and very limited meal times. You know when they say that you can eat any time you want on a cruise? This is not the case on Holland. The food times are hit and miss and even then, there's very little selection. One evening I was really hungry so I went down to the Lido. I was told by one staff when the Lido was going to be open. I went down there and there was nothing available except the pasta bar. When I asked a group of employees about when it was going to open, they first half ignored me as if they couldn't be bothered (they were standing in a group just hanging out). Finally, one just told me the pasta bar was the only option. We gave up numerous times and tried to get room service. Well, half of the time no one answered and once you could get through, it would take over an hour to get the food. Half of the orders weren't even correct. I'm literally not exaggerating. We tried the dining room. We had one good night of dining on our 7 day cruise. One night, we were completely forgotten about. With HAL, you have to give them your entire order at the beginning of dinner. On other cruises, you could try anything you wanted and even order more of something if you really liked it. This is not the case on HAL. We ordered espresso to go with dessert. Well, they brought the dessert, and then about 30 minutes later brought over the coffee. Oh well. The food selection seemed to be kind of the same every night. Heavy meat, mashed potatoes and limp veges. There was a salad bar and that helped a little. There were very few dessert options and the pizza was sub par as well as their hamburgers on deck. I still don't understand how they can mess up a hamburger bun. For lunch there were pre-made sandwiches. That's right - nothing to order, you were at the mercy of what they decided to prepare that day (I'm lactose intolerant and literally went hungry and lost weight on this cruise). We tried to eat at the dining room for lunch one day and we missed it because they closed at noon. I felt the meal times and food selection catered to...hmmm...an older crowd. Mushy traditional food options felt retirement-homish. In one of the bars, the tables were filthy, there were empty glasses everywhere and we couldn't get any service, not even at the bar. We were told that we had to wait for the waitress to come around. After quite a wait, she finally came over (it was not busy at all), took our drink order and while she was leaving, we asked if she could take the empty glasses from our table. She acted completely put out, picked up the glasses and literally left the used napkins. There was no attempt to clean or wipe the sticky dirty table. We had to hold our drinks because it was unsanitary to put them down. One morning we bought coffee in the coffee shop before we got off the ship at a port. While we were getting off we were told that we couldn't take it with us. They never mentioned this at the coffee shop where we had just gotten the coffee (backpacks and gear clearly indicating that we were headed on shore). There was no apology, we were rudely told to dump it. We were given some lame excuse about the noro outbreak. Ok, no problem, but put up a sign at the coffee shop if that was the case. Interestingly, we were able to buy a bottle of water to take on shore right at the same place. $10 wasted! I went to the spa - which was ok. Not great, but ok. The waiting room didn't have any water or anything to drink. They claimed it was because of how many sick people were on board. Great! I was really thirsty after being in the sauna before my massage and mentioned this to my massuse who just said - sorry. I'm so glad I paid over $200 for this "luxury" spa experience. They could have put out some bottled water. The icing on the cake - they gave us the wrong disembark tag - 3 times! We had even booked our ship to airport transfer with them and filled out all of the paperwork and they still gave us a time that would make us miss our flight. After 3 visits to the front desk, I finally lost it. I demanded the earliest time, demanded that they refund our transfer fee, and we kept our suitcases and left as early as we possibly could. Thank goodness we did because this was the only way we were able to make our flight on time. They could care less. I've never felt more relief than getting off this ship in Vancouver. I could feel my whole body relax. We are both professional kind patient people (I'm a counselor with an advanced degree who works with children and families). I felt like we were on the cruise from hell. My biggest regret was not getting off in Juneau and flying home early. What a waste of money. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
This is our 5th Alaska cruise. We love going to cool and beautiful places in the hot summers back home. We usually go up and back from Vancouver, which is wonderful. This time we flew to Anchorage, spend a week there and in Seward and took ... Read More
This is our 5th Alaska cruise. We love going to cool and beautiful places in the hot summers back home. We usually go up and back from Vancouver, which is wonderful. This time we flew to Anchorage, spend a week there and in Seward and took the Noordam south to Vancouver. it was a wonderful experience, the best we have had. The ship was comfortable and very enjoyable. We upgraded to a Signature Suite for the first time and that gave us a larger cabin (we previously only stayed in a Veranda cabin) that we really enjoyed: 2 sinks in the bath, more cabin room, larger veranda, etc. We found that eating breakfast and dinner in the dining room was great, more personal, better food, and kept us out of the highly competitive Lido dining. We asked for and got the same table each evening so that meant our serving staff got to know us and we got to know them too. We loved the fact that HAL gave us a full wrap-around walking deck that we could enjoy each day. Three times around the deck was one mile, and the beauty of the surroundings made walking a few miles really easy. We love going to Glacier Bay with the National Park rangers on board and that is something everyone who cruises this way should enjoy. This was the first time we had stopped in Haines, instead of Skagway, and that too was a surprising joy. We rented a car from Captains Choice rental cars and struck out on our own day of discovery. We saw lots of whales and wildlife on our shore excursion out of Juneau, and suffered through another required day in Ketchikan. Every cruise stops there and it is crazy busy. The Noordam needs a bit of refitting and I understand that is planned. But overall, this was a great ship and a great cruise. Read Less
Noordam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.8
Family 2.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.6
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 3.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.3

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