5 Venice Holland America Noordam Cruise Reviews

We are a family with 2 teenage children and have enjoyed 4 cruises with HAL. There must be something quite satisfying about a HAL cruise which keeps us coming back. Venice is a fantastic place to visit and from which to embark, the sail ... Read More
We are a family with 2 teenage children and have enjoyed 4 cruises with HAL. There must be something quite satisfying about a HAL cruise which keeps us coming back. Venice is a fantastic place to visit and from which to embark, the sail out passed the island and St Marks etc. is something to behold. We booked cabin 4015 which has a more spacious balcony but has a metal balcony front (not glass). This wasn't a problem as we were glad to have the extra space. The cabin is ok for 4 with one pullman (pull down bed which comes down over the head end of the double bed, and a sofa bed, although it's difficult to navigate to the balcony when the sofabed is extended, not a big deal though. The friidge is very handy. I've read the ship has signs of wear, I didn't see anything particularly displeasing. The entertainment was ok but we were quite content to amble around the ship, stop and have a drink, preferably the Crows Nest which was very enjoyable. We always find the staff friendly and accommodating and have seldom had cause to make any representations. The ports of call offered a variety of attractions. We tend to make our own arrangements and either book rental cars or private excursions before setting off. What works particularly well for us is we always go ashore together but the children find new friends aboard and have great fun. They stay in touch with children from all over the world and coincidentally bumped into some old friends from previous cruises this time around. The food is everything we expect it to be and our waiters have been an excellent source of entertainment. It's well worth asking their advice on where to visit ashore or where to get a good Wifi signal etc. We have previously had some excellent meals in the Pinnacle Grill and booked a table for a family celebration. Once again, we weren't disappointed albeit the service can sometimes be a little bit hit and miss. Pools were obviously very busy but could always find a lounger if we wanted. The pool side burger bar was well worth the wait. Ports: Athens, we walked 20 minutes (out of port and left along shoreline to train station) return tickets to centre of Athens were about 24 euros for 4 of us and takes about 30 minutes, it's reasonably easy to walk around the main attractions. Santorini Walked up through the donkeys, it's a good workout but preferable to waiting for the cable car or paying to sit on a donkey.(wear proper shoes, not flip-flops) Once in the main road on the other side from the tourist shops, we turned left and walked against the traffic for 5 - 10 minutes and found a quad bike rental shop on right. 50 euros for a day, we hired 2 and had a great day zipping about the island. Napflio We pre-arranged a cab to take us to Tolo (watersports beach resort) it's 20 minutes and about 30 euros return. We rented a small motorboat from poseidon for 50 euros for the whole day including fuel. Absolutely fantastic, stopped off for lunch in a little harbour, no tourists to be seen anywhere. Kusadasi Walked up the hill to the Atta Turk statue, great view over the harbour. The locals pester tourists quite a bit but not oppressively. I took my 13 year old son to a Hamam, 5 minute walk in back streets from port shops. Cost about 35 euros for us both and took about 1 hour 15 mins. What an experience but nothing to worry about. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Just completed an 11 day cruise on Noordam from Venice to Civitavecchia. This was our fourth HAL cruise and the second time on the Noordam. Again it was a great experience but there were one or two areas where we felt HAL's usual ... Read More
Just completed an 11 day cruise on Noordam from Venice to Civitavecchia. This was our fourth HAL cruise and the second time on the Noordam. Again it was a great experience but there were one or two areas where we felt HAL's usual standard of excellence were perhaps slipping. First the suite. It was 6177 - a Deluxe Verandah right at the back of the ship on a corner with wrap around balcony for views to the starboard and aft of the ship. Great for leaving Venice for example. The stewards were their usual excellent selves, friendly and efficient. We seldom had to ask for anything - it was always there. However the room amd bathroom were showing a bit of wear and tear. Perhaps time for a refurb? Next the dining. Our suite status allowed us breakfast each morning in the premium restaurant Pinnacle Grill. However we only went there twice as the service and food there was poor. We breakfasted in the Lido self serve or in-room. The Pinnacle could not serve hot coffee which was a pretty basic morning requirement, and often we had to strive to catch the waiters eye for service despite there being few other tables occupied. We also went there one night for dinner (the first night) and again the service was deficient although the food was exceptional. The wine waiter knew little about his wines and gave us a bottle which despite our wanting a dry wine, was so much on the sweet side we couldn't finish it. Another table that night also sent a bottle back for that same reason. We love our wines and are familiar with our own (Australian) ones, but needed help with the European and US wines featured so much on board. By contrast the wine waiter in the main dining room where we ate for the remainder of the cruise was pleasant, friendly and attentive and she knew her wines. Also the service in the main dining room was excellent and the menus there had lots of interesting choices. We only took three HAL excursions, and these were marred by the usual compulsory visits to cameo shops and carpet shops. By all means include them as an option at the end of an excursion, but making them unavoidable put us off booking further tours. Also we thought it was a bit steep to take us to wineries, which we enjoyed, but charge us $18 to bring a bottle on board to consume. As the local wines were around $7 or $8 we did not buy any which was a shame for the local producers. This "corkage" charge is simply a money grab by HAL and prevented us enjoying local wines from the ports we visited. A corkage charge of, say, $5, would have been reasonable. All in all we enjoyed our fourth cruise with HAL and would consider them again although we might try another cruise line next time as these little irritations have eroded our loyalty somewhat. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
My wife & I returned a few weeks ago from an excellent 11 night cruise on the Noordam. Normally I wouldn't submit reviews, but after reading a few of the other Noordam reviews on Cruise Critic I feel I have to add my opinion as I ... Read More
My wife & I returned a few weeks ago from an excellent 11 night cruise on the Noordam. Normally I wouldn't submit reviews, but after reading a few of the other Noordam reviews on Cruise Critic I feel I have to add my opinion as I cannot believe that some of the recent reviews are genuine. We have no other ship to compare the Noordam against being first-timers, but we were blown away by practically everything we experienced on the cruise. The crew - everybody we dealt with were very pleasant and couldn't do enough to make our trip enjoyable. This includes the cabin attendants(?), our waiter(s) for our fixed seating in the MDR, and also the various bar staff many who became good friends by the end of the second day. A recent reviewer complained about the 'compulsory' tip that is added to your bill saying that they weren't aware that this would be charged, I find this hard to believe as it is made very clear on the Holland America website and also on my documentation. Also made clear is the option to remove/reduce this element from your invoice right up until the last night - so what's the problem. The food - we found the food to be prompt (mostly), hot and varied. All the menus had many options and most had something to tempt us. There were always fantastic steaks to fall back on if nothing took our fancy and the cold soups were also gorgeous - I would happily accept any of the meals offered in a formal restaurant. On one occasion we had to wait a long time for our main meal - apparently our order had been mislaid, after a little gentle arm twisting we were given a nice bottle of wine to compensate. Breakfasts were also excellent whether taken in the room, the MDR or the Lido. Tea was free in the Lido and both PG Tips & Typhoo were freely available, the free fruit juice was very refreshing and I must have drunk gallons. The Hotdogs and Burgers on the Lido deck were the best I have tasted with an excellent ordering system. We also tried other options for our meals including the less formal Lido and again found everyone to be both friendly and helpful. The only queue I can remember was for the freshly made omelettes in the Lido at breakfast time. The ship - we didn't think that the ship was in any way 'tired' and were impressed with the obsessive cleaning and polishing that we witnessed every day. We understand that there may be newer and more glitzy ships available from other cruise lines but we felt that the blend of traditional and modern that the Noordam offers to be perfect. We also found the size of the ship offered plenty of variety without becoming too impersonal. The various pools, bars and decks were all in fantastic condition, clean and always very comfortable. A special mention for the theater which was incredible. The entertainment - from reading other cruise line reviews I can see that some cruise lines place a greater emphasis (budget) on the on-board entertainment than HAL. However, we went to most of the shows and found them all to be very professional and entertaining - particularly 'Droom' which was well up to the standard of a London Musical. The live entertainment in the various bars were all very enjoyable and relaxing - Michael the piano player played to a packed bar every night and was great fun. A special mention must go to the band that played in BB Kings - they were incredible. I sat in on some of the instructional lectures (Windows and Digital Photography) which were very good and informative. I also loved public rooms like the extensive Library and Explorations (Internet) Cafe. The artwork scattered around the ship added to the overall classiness of the ship. The itinerary - this was the main reason we picked this cruise. Everywhere we went was brilliant and we had no problems, delays or changes. We started in Venice (spent 2 days there before the cruise), and went on to Katakolon (Olympia), Nafplion (Mycenae), Piraeus (Athens), Mykonos, Kusadasi (Ephasus), Rhodes, Santorini, Naples (Pompeii) and ended in Civitavecchia (Rome - where we stayed 2 days after the cruise). All the ancient locations were incredibly interesting and Mykonos & Santorini were especially beautiful. We also had 2 welcome sea days where we could relax and look around the ship. We booked a few formal excursions off the net before we left home and these were all fine - on the other shore days we made our own way around and never felt lost, threatened or that we would miss the sail-away. As may have guessed we absolutely loved our 12 days on the Noordam and would recommend HAL & Noordam to everyone. However, I would recommend that cruisers check out sites like Cruise Critic for reviews - but remember that there will always be some people who didn't have a good experience and they are more likely to write a (negative) review. I also realise that some cruisers may prefer a livelier atmosphere and opt for a different cruise line. We did a lot of research (the cruise line, the ships & itinerary) before choosing our cruise and felt that HAL would be a good match. The only surprise was that the whole experience was even better than expected.We also felt that the average cruiser 'age' was lower than expected. The only (expected) disappointments were the cost of the HAL organised excursions and the hopeless/expensive on-board Internet service. We didn't use HAL for excursions due to the cost - but we were told that they were great. However, nobody had a good word to say about the poor WiFi so I chose to relay upon using free Internet Cafes when we docked to keep in touch. The ship, the crew, the itinerary, the food and also the good friends we made, all helped make this our best holiday ever. We will cruise again with HAL. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We are regular cruisers and have been on the Nieuw Amsterdam and the Westerdam, as well as several ships from other companies. This was a 22 night cruise from Venice to Barcelona, and was very port intensive. First the good things: ... Read More
We are regular cruisers and have been on the Nieuw Amsterdam and the Westerdam, as well as several ships from other companies. This was a 22 night cruise from Venice to Barcelona, and was very port intensive. First the good things: Smooth embarkation, arrived 1130 just as they started boarding, and were able to drop our hand baggage in the cabin by 1215. Holland America always have 48 hours of not being able to serve yourself anything at the start of a cruise. This is to help stop the spread of norovirus. Our cases had been delivered to our stateroom by the time we had finished lunch. We were in Veranda cabin 4179, which was right at the back of the ship, a good size, clean and comfortable. Despite the position it was relatively quiet, although we did get a lot of noise and vibration from the engines when the ship was close to maximum speed. Thankfully this was very rare. When needed the tendering operations were very well organised and went smoothly with very little queuing. The ship was kept very clean by the hard working staff, and although it was launched in 2006, it appeared in a good state of repair. I understand the ship is going into dry dock early next year to be refurbished. Now the not so good: Air conditioning failed one night early in cruise which coincided with a lot of noise outside our cabin. Found out next day a belt associated with the aircon had failed and there had been smoke in the corridor. We did get a letter of apology the next day together with a free cook book, but this was very heavy and we wouldn't have used it. A bottle of wine or some onboard credit would have been much more useful. The plug for the bathroom sink did not seal properly so we couldn't fill sink with water. This had to be fixed twice during cruise. At least twice dirty towels that had been put on bathroom floor to be replaced were taken, but no clean ones left. Holland America leave 2 beach towels in your cabin which you can take off the ship. The procedure for getting clean ones is the same as for the normal cabin towels. So after a day on the beach we put ours on the bathroom floor and they were collected. However, it took 4 days and some enquiries to guest services before we had 2 clean ones delivered. The service in the anytime dining room was very inconsistent and often poor, with meals taking anything from 1 hour to 2 and half hours. We were not the only ones that thought this, and I believe several people including myself complained. One evening we waited 40 minutes after our first course, and then the waiter bought our main meal before our second starter. Okay he was very sorry and kept apologising, but this should not have happened. On another occasion we were brought and charged for the wrong wine, and it wasn’t easy to get a refund. The water in the aft pool on the Lido deck was cloudy for the first few days, and then soot particles and some dead insects appeared as well. Several people were moaning, but I was the only one that complained, and surprise, surprise, it was cleaned 24 hours later! Some of the staff seemed miserable and surly, an example being on two occasions when we had our breakfast in our cabin, and the steward who delivered it just dumped it without a word and left. This was actually two 11 night cruises back to back, but was booked as one with just one booking reference. However, Holland America treated it as one cruise for some things, but two for others. For example; you can take on a bottle of wine per person at the start of a cruise, but they would not let us take on another bottle at the beginning of the second 11 days. When we did a similar 2 leg cruise with Princess (which is also part of the Carnival group) we were allowed to take on another bottle of wine per person at the start of the second leg. Food: The food was generally good, but was sometimes not very warm by the time it reached the table. The choice and quality both in the Lido buffet and the MDR was better on the second 11 night leg. Entertainment: Acceptable is the best way to describe this, because although there was quite a good choice, it was almost the same most evenings, so it tended to get boring. The entertainers that we considered very good were Adagio (classical duo), and Michael in the piano bar. The BB King Blues Band were also good, but they were an acquired taste, and they were usually too loud. Most of the cast production shows were quite good, with 'Droom' being excellent. General: On the change over day between the two 11 night cruises, Holland America put a card in our cabin asking for our opinion. I filled this out with many of the things listed above which was the first time in our 26 cruises that I have ever complained in writing. However, it worked with many of these points sorted out. Holland America are advertised as 5 star ships, but we consider Princess and Royal Caribbean to be better, and they are 4 star.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Holland American was truly more than a disappointment. DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY. Service, activities, food, cabin, dining were below average standards. FYI-arrived to our "suite" with balcony and had little to no air conditioning ... Read More
Holland American was truly more than a disappointment. DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY. Service, activities, food, cabin, dining were below average standards. FYI-arrived to our "suite" with balcony and had little to no air conditioning for over 5 days-complained to our cabin person and was put off daily. Finally went to head of services on Main Deck and spoke to supervisor they will look into it. After many so called adjustments it did not get better. I was constantly told they checked the air flow and it seems OK-solution to them was to keep our drapes closed- after much time and aggravation they finally admitted there was a problem with the air conditioning belt-they send a bottle of wine for our inconvenience and we took it down to dinner and was told that there would be an $18.00 corking fee. Took wine back to Main Deck the super was not happy and assured us that he would have wine served that evening-dinner came and in the middle of dinner the staff could not find our bottle of wine, until the end of dinner-spoke to supervisor again and told the poor communications this ship the attitude of the staff was less than poor. The cabins were in disrepair, the cruise ran out of many of the food items after 5 days, the fruit was over rip and poor quality as was the vegetables and most of the meals were below any standard I ever had on any cruises. It seems this line was bought recently and Princess, and Carnival along with Holland American are all sister ships. The drinks, cokes, teas,, anything are NOT FREE anymore, in fact when purchased you are charged a 15% gratuity fee along with tax, that 15% gratuity is on all charges. On your bill you are charged a daily rate of $12.00 per day to go toward gratuity for help on the ship. This charge is not told to you ahead of time, but simply put on your bill. The atmosphere from other cruisers were much dissatisfaction -I found out about this $12.00 per day charge from past Holland American persons who have cruised this ship and would never return. I was told to go to the Main office and request removal of this charge, I did and they did it, regretfully. The staff, crew were generally unaware of where things were etc. Not a happy lot. The disrepairs in the cabins, and ship itself were unfortunate and not pretty. This is a tired cruise line that does not care about its clients. Would NEVER advise this line to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
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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