16 Seward Holland America Noordam Cruise Reviews

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
Sail Date July 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
Sail Date June 2019
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
Sail Date September 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
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
Sail Date June 2018
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
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
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
Sail Date September 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
Sail Date July 2017
We don’t generally plan our vacations way in advance, and this was no exception. We started looking at our options around February. We were looking at Mediterranean &/or Greek Island Cruises, Canary Island cruises or a return trip ... Read More
We don’t generally plan our vacations way in advance, and this was no exception. We started looking at our options around February. We were looking at Mediterranean &/or Greek Island Cruises, Canary Island cruises or a return trip to Hawaii. Not sure why we threw Alaska into the mix, but everything we’d ever heard from people who’d been there was how great a trip it was. We finally settled on this cruise, which we booked about six weeks before the sailing date. Our first cruise on HAL was last September aboard the Rotterdam from Boston to Montreal, which we enjoyed immensely, so we did not hesitate to book another cruise on this line. Maybe it’s because the Rotterdam is a smaller ship, or maybe it’s because it was a less busy cruise, but we weren’t as pleased with the Noordam as we were with the Rotterdam. That is not to say, we didn’t enjoy the trip. It was fabulous! It’s just that the ship didn’t quite meet our expectations. The ship itself is lovely, in good condition, and the crew and staff were very friendly. The Captain was great – we enjoyed listening to his instructions and commentary over the loud speakers. Our biggest complaint is with the dining experience. Food in the main dining room was just okay. Pretty much the only meat choice at dinner was beef, which we don’t eat, so we ate a lot of fish. Mostly it was tasty, but it tended to be dry – probably overcooked. Except for the freshly made omelets for breakfast, food in the Lido was no better than a cafeteria. We ordered room service for breakfast twice – this wasn’t bad – it was delivered timely and was hot and fresh. Since we were celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary on this trip we splurged on dinner at the Pinnacle Grill one evening. It was much better than the dining room, but we wouldn’t give it a five star rating as we would some other specialty restaurants on, say, Celebrity. Our biggest issue with dining was the service in the main dining room and especially in the Lido. The waiters and staff were friendly enough, but service was poor, as both venues were definitely understaffed. We blame this on HAL management. Perhaps after 14 cruises we’ve just become a little fussier and more critical. The cruise itself was wonderful. Alaska is truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, and we enjoyed all the sights in the ports we visited, as well as the sights from the ship itself in Glacier Bay and through the inside passage. We visited the ports of Haines, Juneau and Ketichikan, and thoroughly enjoyed each one. The pictures you see of Alaska are beautiful and unbelievable, but to see it in person just takes your breath away. It’s an experience we’ll never forget. Now, the land tour: we chose a three day pre-cruise tour to Denali and Fairbanks. This is where better planning was needed. We knew Alaska is big, but coming from New Jersey where you can drive from north to south in about three hours, we just didn’t have a concept of how long it would take to get from one place to another, and the travel times were not included in the initial descriptions. Most of the three days, unfortunately, was spent on the road. We arrived in Anchorage late in the evening after a day long journey from New Jersey. After spending the night in the Captain Cook Hotel, which was lovely, we got up early, had breakfast and took a short walk to see a little bit of the town before getting on a coach to the train depot where we boarded the McKinley Express Dome Train for the eight hour journey to Danali. The train cars were very comfortable and the lunch in the dining car was very good – too bad it wasn’t as good on the ship. The scenery was beautiful, though we saw no wildlife – I’d run and hide, too, if I heard that train coming! Since we only had one night in Denali we were unable to go into the park itself. Instead we took two short excursions – an ATV adventure and barbecue in the evening, then a visit to Iditerod champion Jeff King’s Husky Homestead the next morning. By two that afternoon we were on another coach to Fairbanks, arriving early in the evening with only enough time to go to a salmon bake dinner and see a cute and rowdy show about the history of that gold rush town. Though we had been told by the tour booking agent before booking that we would have the next morning to explore Fairbanks before catching a flight to Anchorage followed by a coach to Seward, this was not the case. In fact, we had to get a 5:40 am shuttle to the airport for a 9:00 am flight. (The early shuttle really was not necessary. We were the only ones on the line to go through TSA and were told at the airline boarding desk we’d have had plenty of time if we didn’t get the airport until 8:00. We still would not have been able to do anything in Fairbanks, but we could have had a decent breakfast at the hotel instead of the absolutely awful one at the airport’s only eatery.) This is not to say we didn’t enjoy the excursions we took. We had a lot of fun on the ATV despite ending up soaked during a sudden and unexpected downpour – and we were wearing rain jackets! The husky kennel was amazing, especially getting to hold an adorable month old puppy and getting to hear Jeff talk about life on the trail. He is an amazing speaker! The salmon bake in Fairbanks was very good and the show was very well done and a lot of laughs. If you really want to see Denali or Fairbanks, though, you need at least two nights in each. If we knew then what we know now, we probably would have skipped Fairbanks and done the double Denali instead. Live and learn. Overall, we enjoyed the trip and highly recommend Alaska to those who love the beauty of the natural world and experiencing a simpler way of life. Our recommendation would be to do your research before booking. A cruise is probably the best way to see southern Alaska, as there are no roads between the port towns – you need to fly or sail in to each of them, so why not do it on a floating hotel. If you want to see wildlife you need to go later in the summer when the salmon are running. And if you want to see Denali, you need at least two days there, if not three. Because of the huge distance between the park and Anchorage and the cruise port, you are going to spend a lot of time traveling, but it is well worth it. Given the opportunity I would visit Alaska again – after spending a little more time planning before making the final booking. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
My wife and I took "Double Denali" package in July on HA. We spent the night in Anchorage then took the breathtaking and comfortable McKinley Explorer train to Denali National Park. Each glass-domed car has a narrator/guide, a ... Read More
My wife and I took "Double Denali" package in July on HA. We spent the night in Anchorage then took the breathtaking and comfortable McKinley Explorer train to Denali National Park. Each glass-domed car has a narrator/guide, a bartender (of course) and a waitress. Our guide was excellent. The scenery was magnificent. The sky was clear making Denali and the other mountains clearly visible.The lower level of each car contained a dining car and outdoor viewing platforms. We stayed at the McKinley Chalet Resort owned by HA. It's a vast property with great public spaces and decent food. There are a variety of good restaurants across the road from the main entrance to the hotel, as well as extensive and well maintained trails. Unfortunately it's not air conditioned and our room was stifling, even with two fans going. The next day we got up very early (again-it's a good thing Alaska's three hours behind CDST) to board the seven hour Tundra Wilderness Tour. To be honest I had some trepidation about spending seven hours in a bus in the middle of nowhere but it turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. The scenery was amazingly pristine and the wildlife viewing was beyond our expectations. The bus makes regular bathroom/stretch your legs stops and we were able to get good, reasonably priced box lunches at the hotel. Again we were lucky to have an entertaining, knowledgeable driver/guide. Another overnight in Denali then up early (again) for a "10 hour" bus ride to Seward where we would embark. Again I was pleasantly surprised that it actually didn't take quite that long and again the driver/guide did a great job. Embarkation took much longer than we expected but once we got on board it was fantastic. The stateroom, food and service were top notch. We had Signature Suite which gave us a roomy balcony and an upgraded bathroom (though many people on the ship wouldn't have fit in the shower stall). One obvious sign of the ship's age is that the stateroom's audiovisual amenities are really dated. The TV's are small and poor quality (and poorly positioned). The selection of channels is pathetic. If you want to watch a movie in your stateroom you have to call the "Front Office" and ask someone if the DVD is available to rent. If it is you have to get it (or I think you can ask them to have someone deliver it). An on-demand system would offer a better selection without having to deal with discs. Generally speaking the service was excellent. Our room was made up twice daily and was supplied with fresh fruit. Bottled water, which my wife consumes in great quantities is not free and the one problem we had with service was trying to get someone to understand when we wanted more water and when we didn't. The Alaska scenery was fantastic. In Glacier Bay you sail so close to a glacier that you can hear it groaning and cracking, The entire voyage was quite smooth, suitable to motion-intolerant people. Port of call were Haines, Juneau and Ketchikan with disembarkation in Vancouver. The food was generally excellent but I would advise you to skip the Pinnacle Grill. The service was very slow and people all around us were complaining of that and the fact that when the food finally came a lot of it was sent back because it wasn't cooked as ordered (like mine). The manager actually came around to see how everything was and we told her. There was no offer of compensation. All in all it was a fantastic experience. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We went on a land/sea cruise with Holland America to Alaska, starting first with the land portion. The package deal provides one night in Anchorage before you set off for Denali National Park. We choose to extend our hotel stay to two ... Read More
We went on a land/sea cruise with Holland America to Alaska, starting first with the land portion. The package deal provides one night in Anchorage before you set off for Denali National Park. We choose to extend our hotel stay to two nights in order to give ourselves a little longer to adjust to 10 hours of flying and 4 time zone changes. Holland America puts you in the Anchorage Westmark Hotel because it owns the hotel. The Westmark will not be the highlight of your trip. It is showing lots of wear and tear. The staff was friendly, but always seemed overwhelmed with the number of people. The Glacier Brewhouse is very close by and we had a good dinner there, but get reservations or you have an hour long wait. The departure to the train station for the trip to Denali is very early in the morning. There is a Starbucks in the restaurant, but with limited staff, it is very slow. There is coffee available on the train, as well as other soft and hard beverages and food items/service. If you have opted for a double night in Denali, the schedule calls for an 7-8 hour train ride to Denali, a 7 hour bus tour of the park the next day, and then a 10 hour bus ride (with a lunch stop) down to Seward to join the ship the day after that. It can be three long days of riding. If you have been to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Anchorage before starting the trip to Denali, you may find the day-long tour of the park repetitive and without any up-close animal sighting. The bus around the park stops frequently when someone thinks they see sheep, bears, or other animals, but the animals are a long way away. You do learn about the ecology of the park on the tour. You will be advised to get a box lunch for the bus tour around the park. It can be purchased in the lobby of the McKinley Chalet where you will stay, but you need to order it the night before and the line to pick it up in the morning can be long. The Park Service bus you take on the park tour provides snacks and water. If you stick to the schedule that Holland America has for those days, the only time for excursions is at night and you have no control over when your bus leaves the next day -- and they can leave as early as 6 am up to 9 am. Our night of river rafting left us with a very short night before the bus tour of the park. The Chalet at Denali is actually a collection of buildings. Our room was in a building a good walk away from the main lodge where you were picked up for various trips and the walk includes a substantial hill. There were three shuttle buses that provided service around the property, but they did not work well when you are on a schedule. The two small ones filled up quickly and the bigger bus was a slow trip to the lodge. The rooms were alright, but rather dark. The bus to Seward was comfortable and our driver played a DVD on the Iditarod to help the time go a little faster. Lunch was pleasant and well organized. We had traveled on a sister ship of the Noordam two years ago so found the ship and our verandah room very familiar and comfortable. We really enjoyed Glacier Bay and Haines. Glacier Bay gave us great views of the glaciers and Haines seemed such a genuine Alaska town. The Mayor of Haines even greeted us as we got off the ship!! The town is small and is not inundated with shops for tourists as you will find in Ketchikan, but that made it all the more pleasant to see. There is a shuttle around the small town. Our bus driver talked with great pride about the extent of medical care available in the town, despite its size (2,500), and their award-winning library. When we got back to the ship (around 5:30), there was a group of native dancers performing at the dock. They were very friendly and answered all our questions. It was just nice to see a real Alaska Town! We have made several trips to Alaska, but always enjoy the beauty of the landscape and the chance to see so many things we never see in urban America. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We joined the Noordam in Seward for one way to Vancouver after doing the land portion to Denali. We had a signature suite on deck 6 which was quite spacious with plenty of closet and storage space. The bathroom had double sinks and a ... Read More
We joined the Noordam in Seward for one way to Vancouver after doing the land portion to Denali. We had a signature suite on deck 6 which was quite spacious with plenty of closet and storage space. The bathroom had double sinks and a separate tub and shower. All in all the suite was extremely nice. Our room stewards Dada and Zulu were exceptional and responded to every request promptly. They were always pleasant and wanted to make certain we had what we needed or wanted. The captain of the Noordam is the most communicative of any captain we have ever had prior, either on HAL or the other cruise lines we have sailed. He pointed out special points of interest, informed us of where we were, where we were going and where to look for wild life. He always ended his dialogue with "Wash your hands", which became humorous but was much appreciated as there did not appear to be any illness on the ship. The food in the dining room was very good and they even made certain that my peanut allergy was noted and that I did not get any items which might contain any peanuts. (THANKS for that). The ports we visited, Haines, Juneau and Ketchikan, were interesting with new things to see and do even though we had been there before. The excursions were very interesting, some of my favorites this time were the animal rescue and rehab, the Cristal gardens (a do not miss excursion) and the Totem Village. Disembarkation in Vancouver was the quickest and easiest I have ever experienced. We did the land portion of this cruise and land package first and I would highly recommend this as getting onto the cruise ship after the land portion allows some time to rest from all the land portion activities. We were booked into the Hilton in Anchorage (an absolutely gorgeous city) and actually arrived a day early as it is a long flight from Nashville to Anchorage. This gave us a free day in Anchorage and we took in the sights there. We did the trolley trip (1 hr) in the morning and I would highly recommend it as an oversight of Anchorage. The Hilton is basically one block from the trolley stop and an easy walk. We had a very knowledgeable tour guide and learned a lot about Anchorage. We saw Earthquake park and even saw some moose along the highway. Very interesting. That afternoon we did the Seward Highway Turnagin tour with Salmon Berry tours. This tour is OUTSTANDING and John H. was an exceptional guide. We traveled one of the most scenic highways in America, saw Dall sheep and the high tides, we rode a tram to the top of Aleska (?) mountain, which afforded gorgeous views. Lunch was provided and consisted of delicious tomato basil soup, homemade sourdough bread and the yummiest cinnamon rolls ever. John even served our lunch and cleared our tables. Next we went to an animal rescue area and saw moose, bears, caribou, wolves, foxes and even Peggy the porcupine. It was very informative and entertaining. All in all a wonderful tour. Thanks John, you made our day in Anchorage. The next morning we were taken to the train for our trip to Denali. I so enjoyed the train trip with the domed cars which afforded great views and the seats were very comfortable for the long train trip. HAL owns the cars and they are first class. Lunch in the dining car was very good also. Upon arrival in Denali we were checked into the McKinley Resort which is absolutely beautiful. Comfort is first rate and the suites are spacious and inviting. The entire resort is outstanding. The only bad experience in our entire 11 day trip was that night when we went to the Theater and Dinner Show at the resort. Ok I realize the actors are amateurs and it shows painfully. That I could have tolerated but the food was terrible. The salmon was served basically as a whole fish with the skin on it (yuck) and the bar b que was some dried out baked chicken with some bar b que sauce thrown on it. I would skip this one by all means. It quite definitely is NOT worth the price and you will get a better meal in the dining room of the resort. The next day we did the Tundra trip to Denali, which is amazing. We saw so much wildlife, including grizzly bears, caribou, moose, ground squirrels, foxes and even a red eagle. Our tour guide was great and she definitely knew her stuff. It was a beautiful day and we could see Denali which we were told only happens about 30% of the time. One thing to note, it is a full day excursion and they only provide snacks so order a box lunch at the resort the night before and take with you. You will be glad you did. At one point on the excursion, we could not get off the bus due to the fact that a grizzly was very near. Very exciting to see one so close. This is a must do (don't take the short trip as it does not go very far into the park) . That evening we did the Husky Homestead tour and it by far was one of my favorites. YOU GET TO HOLD A HUSKY PUPPY. Just a little ball of fur and so adorable. Jeff King is very knowledgeable and entertaining and gives insight of the huskies, how they are trained and the Iditarod race experience. Very enjoyable. The following morning we boarded a motor coach for the long trip to Seward to join the ship. If you have a good coach driver who knows when to talk and when to be quiet this could be fairly pleasant. We did not.....I can tell you this guy's whole life story, his wife's life story and he even got into politics. Not what I wanted to listen to for about 8 hours. We did have a nice lunch provide along the way and finally made it to Seward. Our driver kept telling us how he is always the first one there (there were several coaches) however we were the LAST coach to arrive at the ship. Glad that part was over and ready to board the ship. All in all this was a once in a life time experience and I am so glad I did it and would recommend going through HAL for the Land and Sea Alaska adventure to all my friends. Read Less
Sail Date July 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
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
We did this cruise a part of a Land and sea journey. While there were some bumps on the land part (if I see never see a bus again I will be thrilled), the cruise was wonderful. Embarkation was the absolute easiest one we have ever had. No ... Read More
We did this cruise a part of a Land and sea journey. While there were some bumps on the land part (if I see never see a bus again I will be thrilled), the cruise was wonderful. Embarkation was the absolute easiest one we have ever had. No lines at all and we walked directly onto the ship into our cabin. It was our second Alaska cruise and it didn't disappoint. The food was great, service fantastic and we had a great time in the piano bar nightly. You really need a balcony for Alaska - the views are just incredible and the show never stops. We lost count of how many whales, orcas, sea otters, mountain goats, etc. we spotted while cruising. We never turned the tv on once the entire cruise. We typically pass on ship excursions but did enjoy the Kenai Fjords boat trip prior to embarkation and the Glacier Point Wilderness Safari - highly recommend both. We had the unlimited beverage package as part of our booking and while it was nice to have the fancy coffee drinks included (which other lines do not), we found the wine selections by the glass to be lacking. The theater shows were average however the piano bar was a lot of fun. Even better the casino was nonsmoking so we actually went in! Usually we avoid it due to the smoke. Room service breakfast was wonderful (and at no charge unlike some other lines) and a real treat - especially on disembarkation morning. We look forward to another trip with HAL! Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
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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