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8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
I have read some of the reviews about this cruise and couldn't disagree more with some. We are 3 star mariners with Holland America - not that this means anything - other than we wouldn't cruise Holland America if we didn't ... Read More
I have read some of the reviews about this cruise and couldn't disagree more with some. We are 3 star mariners with Holland America - not that this means anything - other than we wouldn't cruise Holland America if we didn't appreciate what they do; but we have also taken other cruises. I would agree that the ship could use some updating - but our suite was very acceptable. The food was very very good - yes, the meal choices were harder on this cruise but the staff was obviously trying to meet the dietary needs of all diners - which means you must provide vegetarian, gluten-free, restrictions based on religious beliefs, diabetic restrictions, and on and on. And they also tried to feature the many places we visited. The servers, wine stewards, dining room supervisors, etc. were all very focused on making sure the experience was exceptional ... on a number of occasions I asked for a modification to the standard dinner and always received what I requested. There wasn't a meal that we had where we weren't asked if our meal was satisfactory. And our order was taken and our first course delivered within 10 minutes of sitting down at the table. Our glasses were kept full as well. The shows were very good for what you'd expect for ship entertainment; throughout the entire cruise (we got off in Aukland) people seemed to really enjoy them - the showroom was packed every night and the applause was loud. We ended our evening with coffee and reading in a number of the lounge areas and the music was great in every one we sat in. Keeping in mind that we had a number of "sea" days, they tried to provide a variety of things to do - cooking classes, digital classes, a movie every afternoon in the showroom, health related classes, massages, talks on the cultures we encountered by people of the region and the history of those areas, talks on the various animals of the region, a library full of books to read, updates on the coming excursions, puzzles to work on, card games to participate in, board games to play, etc. BUT, we took this cruise knowing that we'd have to be able to entertain ourselves as well and we came prepared. We also told our children not to expect a lot of communication from us because we anticipated that wifi and internet could be sketchy. We went on a shore excursion at every stop but one (this is not typical for us) because we wanted to meet the people and experience the culture of the area and we were not disappointed - what an education. I really couldn't pick my favorite - they were all wonderful. Every member of the staff that we encountered was absolutely phenomenal - from the dining room to the ship maintenance people to the room stewards. Wonderful wonderful people - always smiling and always making you feel important. These people work hard and sometimes at very unappreciated positions. It was amazing being with them for 32 days and really getting to know them - all of them with a story to tell about their life journey. This was one of those trips where you get home and wonder how you're going to explain the trip to someone so that they can get a feel for what you experienced. Would we go on a Holland America cruise again - absolutely. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Of our many cruises, the one we took years ago on the Noordam is the only one we cannot remember. Having sailed her again, we think we understand why. It was a plain vanilla cruise, good vanilla ice cream, just not exciting or ... Read More
Of our many cruises, the one we took years ago on the Noordam is the only one we cannot remember. Having sailed her again, we think we understand why. It was a plain vanilla cruise, good vanilla ice cream, just not exciting or tremendously memorable. Embarkation was reasonably fast and our room was ready, which was appreciated. The first glitch happened when we decided to leave the ship briefly to look around the area. No one mentioned that the US government now requires picture ID to reboard ships in US territory. The port agent, not a HAL staffer, asked our cabin number, checked it against a manifest dating to five hours before we had boarded, and refused us boarding, despite the valid cruise cards around our necks. We instructed her to call the ship, and she reluctantly took their word for it that we were paying cruisers. So, if you are in the US, bring picture ID anytime you leave the ship. Boat drill was mildly bizarre with our officer sounding like someone from Costa Concordia as he said that if we should hear the abandon ship whistle, to stay in our cabin “and not get in the way.” We hope that was a lack of English skills, but that would be eerily “Costa” too. Oh dear. The main dining room gave us a good table, a good meal and reservations for the rest of the cruise. Oddly, they put us at different tables every night for a few nights and then assigned us back to the window table with waiter Rana for the duration. Since that was the best of our various tables, we were pleased. Noordam has a marvellous “walk right around it” walking deck. Only the Westerdam’s, which has drinking fountains, is better. There is no more smoking on the walking deck, which is lovely. It’s too bad that they take away all of the chairs and cushions so early. It wouldn’t cost a cent to let passengers enjoy that deck for another hour every night. Our cabin was the old style with lots of storage, though drawers were mostly at floor level. It wasn’t HAL’s fault that our balcony neighbours talked loudly, non stop, which made conversation or reading, or even listening to headphones, impossible. HAL’s Achilles heel, though, is plumbing. Whether it’s a single bucket catching a leak from the ceiling on Westerdam or what seemed to be sewage being vacuumed up in a corridor on Maasdam years ago, a HAL cruise will always have some plumbing issues. Usually the cruise is good enough that it doesn’t really matter. Our cabin had issues with lukewarm bathwater, a dripping shower head, a tub stopper that neither kept the water completely in nor let it drain completely out, and a troublesome toilet. We finally got one acceptable bath on the last night by turning the water to the hottest possible setting and running the water at half volume. Theoretically, by the way, the tub drain works by turning the coverplate on the overflow, and the shower diverter must be pulled up and also turned. There is no nightlight in the bathroom, but they are often too bright anyway and a phone works well. We did appreciate that the room was set up so that nobody had to have the bright light from the hall that shines in from under the door in their eyes as they lay in bed. When you have experienced this, it is delightful not to experience it. Breakfast in the Lido was always a disappointment. Things were never quite ready, never quite up to scratch. There was no evidence of any management presence. Goodness knows what they were calling whipped cream, but it was a lot like the whipped butter, which was not much like whipped butter. A breakfast in the restaurant was the only way to get a decent waffle, warm and crisp and with something like real whipped cream. Lunch in the Lido was another story. At lunch, management was visibly in action and they ran a tight ship, so to speak. Food was ready, hot, and reasonably tasty. Selection was fine. The Asian and the salad bar were always good. Sugar free ice cream, which is often freezer burnt on cruises, perhaps due to low demand, was so good that we wondered if the amaretto really was sugar free. Those strange little mousse things that always show up in sugar free were actually tasty a couple of times. This is not something that many cruise ships can do. The Dive In and Pinnacle were both as good as they claim. Except for the back deck, the Lido staff are very good about offering drinks but didn’t aggressively push the booze, which was appreciated. There is no hard selling anywhere on this cruise, which is another very large plus. On the negative side, you couldn’t get a good scone at tea, and one day we couldn’t get a table for two. They were “out” of them. We never saw the lava cake, (one of the best desserts at sea) and not once, but twice we had bar staffers banging on our door wanting to exchange items they didn’t want in the bar for items from our mini fridge. We wouldn’t have minded except that they acted more like SWAT teams taking down terrorists than people wanting favours. It was not smooth. On the upside, the macaroons in the Explorer’s Lounge, a.k.a. Library, were wonderful. There were more books than we have seen in a cruise library in many years. We got an okay scone there one day, too. The two rooms are large comfortable, quiet, and much used. Because it is still on the third floor, they haven’t messed with the Crow’s Nest. The ship, itself, is hard to beat. So, with this excellent old ship, why was it just a good cruise? One thing that seriously impaired our comfort was the nearly toxic cleaning product that was lavished on our cabin twice in an eight day cruise, so clearly it wasn’t carpet cleaner. We have no allergies, but it made our cabin very unpleasant for hours even with the balcony door open for ventilation. Anyone with allergies or even sensitivities would be sick. This is another thing that wouldn’t cost a cent to fix and could well keep us from sailing an otherwise great cruise line again. The Noordam is a great ship, but with a few problems and no pizzazz, though the chocolate surprise night was a nice try. It was a good cruise, but not much more memorable than our first cruise on the Noordam. Like the bathwater, it was better than lukewarm but just didn’t quite hit the mark. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Embarkation: Since we live in Hawaii, it was just a short drive to Aloha Tower. First of all, as far as Holland was concern, it was great and fast. Very friendly and they were so helpful. Now regarding security at Aloha Tower, that ... Read More
Embarkation: Since we live in Hawaii, it was just a short drive to Aloha Tower. First of all, as far as Holland was concern, it was great and fast. Very friendly and they were so helpful. Now regarding security at Aloha Tower, that was a different story. They told us were to go and when we got there, they told us to go back to another place. Without getting into details, I thought TSA was bad, These guys take the cake. Ship: Been watching YouTube a lot regarding the ship so I was a bit familar with the lay out. I feel that helped with what to expect. Personally, I like the midsize ship. That being said, the disclaimer is that I never been on a mega-ship yet. But it was nicely laid out. The only thing I wished was that the atrium area was bigger and had more activities. They have a bar but it was only open whenever they had a tasting. Ship was very clean. Had a few nice quiet places if you just wanted to read a book. The canopy over the pool was good when it rained a little and when the weather got a little colder. Dining: Since we upgraded to the Neptune Suite, we where able to eat breakfast in the Pinnacle Grille. It was nice and quiet, unlike the MDR and buffet. After all, we just got up! Breakfast had the same menu as the MDR. Did a couple of nights there for dinner. I rarely ever get full of crab legs but the King Crab legs they served......I almost couldn’t eat dessert. And It tasted good. Food in the MDR was excellent too. Buffet was good. I would say it was one of the better buffets we had. Activities: To be honest, there really wasn’t much. However, one of the reasons I wanted to try this cruise was to unwind. With 5 days at sea, I was wondering if I would be bored to death. On the contrary, during those days, I joined my wife at the America Test Kitchen, went to the Windows classes twice a day, did on trivia contest, a meet and greet, and hung out by the pool a little. They had some shows but we only went to 2 out of the 3. It was okay. Honestly, I was okay with all of that since I really just wanted to unwind. Perhaps a few more things would be nice. Shore Actitivies: Since we live in Hawaii, we didn’t sign up for anything. Just took a walk down Front Street in Lahaina and a very small shopping center in Kauai. Service: Excellent. In our case, the Neptune Lounge relationship personal, Stewards, waiters and bartenders knew us and addressed us by name. Felt they went out of their way to make us welcome. Disembarkation: Fast and easy leaving the ship. Terminal was a little confusing in find out transport to the airport but since our flight was in the afternoon, no big deal. One bonus was that Holland lets you stay in your cabin until your group was called. Overall Impression: After talking it over with my wife, YES, I would sail with them again. Concerning what I wanted for this cruise, I got it. Granted, If I was going with a bunch of my friends, I would go on another cruise line with more activities like NCL. But for what I wanted, this was great. Thanks again Holland America!!! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We chose this cruise because of itinerary (ports of call). There were a lot of sea days, but past experiences told us that we would have decent entertainment and events to fill the time. Wrong! Holland America, has cut back so ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of itinerary (ports of call). There were a lot of sea days, but past experiences told us that we would have decent entertainment and events to fill the time. Wrong! Holland America, has cut back so drastically on the quality of the cruise experience, that we would avoid travelling with them again. We paid substantial money, and did not get decent value for it. The nighttime entertainment on our 31 day cruise, included 4 evenings with juggling acts (that were appropriate for a child's birthday party), a movie that was featured twice, the ships own singers and dancers that did their 3 shows, twice, as well as some Australian singers that were promoted as professionals of high calibre, but may have been appropriate as lounge singers. Gone are the days of afternoon entertainment and live music on the Lido deck. I was told that this has been taken away frome all Holland America's fleet. The Sailway parties are now unhosted, so they never get started as a party, and the only music for them is not age appropriate to the crowd, and is only over the PA system. There are no more on deck parties, as they have had in the past, and forget about any organized events like they have done in the past with horse races and decorating the horse or karaoke. Sincerely, you can stay home and read or play bridge at no cost, whereas they charge a bundle to supply a chair for you to do this. The portion sizes of meals have shrunk, although you can always order more, but you pay an additional cost to eat in their other restaurants, and the food in no better. Their beef meals are outstanding, but be prepared to be disappointed with overcooked and mushy fish. Five out of six fish meals I ate, including in the premium restaurant were overcooked, and these are professional chefs! Be prepared to pay $13.50 per person per day, for gratuities, plus an automatic 15% gratuity added to all drinks, which are already overpriced. Don't expect to find anything more than a mediocre bottle of wine for only pennies under $30. Keeping in mind that they purchase all their alcohol, Tax and duty free, they still charge prices equivalent to mid to high-end market prices. We asked for the daily paper to be delivered to our cabin. Never saw it. We booked and had written confirmation for dinner nervous reservations at a premium restaurant, they screwed up the date. We had our Australia visas all lined up and printed. They told us that one of ours wasn't registered, but for $35, they could do that for us. When I proved it was all in order, they discovered it was another passenger that wasn't registered for the visa. This after I waited in a long line up to prove my point, and I am not sure that I got a sincere apology. The best ports of call seem to have very limited stop overs, and some secondary ports have long ones. Ship excursions are priced significantly higher than the equivalent tours purchased directly from local vendors. It seems that this cruise line constantly has their hand in your pocket, once you have paid for the trip and boarded the ship. The well to do, like to be ripped off. Those of us of average means seem to get ripped off as a result. Many of the free seminars, are just sales pitches to promote the over priced spa treatments, or to sell you their "snake oil" health and beauty products. All in all, for value for money, there are better options available than Holland America. Shame on their management for down grading what was a great Company! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We selected the transpacific repositioning cruise aboard the Noordam out of Honolulu which included not just south Pacific island stops, but Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart Tasmania but an additional 14 days around New Zealand. The showtime ... Read More
We selected the transpacific repositioning cruise aboard the Noordam out of Honolulu which included not just south Pacific island stops, but Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart Tasmania but an additional 14 days around New Zealand. The showtime entertainment couldn't have been better in the Vista Lounge. We enjoyed so many very accomplished artists. The ship's regular entertainment was excellent, but the same shows were offered several times during the different segments of the reposition cruise. The different musical venues provided great listening and dancing aboard the Noordam. The service of the crew was outstanding. The Lido deck staff was always prompt and helpful with a smile whether it was in serving up our meal or assisting us to a table. Dinner in the dining room was always lovely and it was fun conversing and getting to know other travelers like ourselves. Our stateroom was comfortable and afforded enough storage for our items. I loved having the tub/shower combo. Our stateroom attendants were always prompt and thorough. Our only comment would be that they schedule more and a variety of activities during the day on the many sea days. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
My wife and I were looking for a quick get-away. We booked our cruise five weeks before departure as a package. The booking process went smoothly and all arrangements turned out as described. The boarding at the Pier in Honolulu was ... Read More
My wife and I were looking for a quick get-away. We booked our cruise five weeks before departure as a package. The booking process went smoothly and all arrangements turned out as described. The boarding at the Pier in Honolulu was efficient as there were only about 300 people joining the ship at that time and our photos were on file from a previous cruise with HAL. Our veranda stateroom was on the 7th deck had ample storage space and the main room was spotless. There were, however signs of wear and tear on the furniture and the wallpaper. There was a musty odour in the bathroom that we expected would dissipate as the day progressed. When it did not go away, I mentioned it to the room attendant who promptly attacked it with a spray and poured something in the drains. The odour returned and we reported it to the front desk. Again, it was attended to, but to no effect. I suspected that there was a water leak behind the bathtub or in the floor area that required a more intensive approach. I need to note that when we mentioned it again to an attendant at customer service when we settled accounts, she did not seem to note our concern or to really care. We did this so that the problem could be seen to before the next occupant of the room was subject to the same odour problem. A second problem emerged as the cruise progressed from the heat of Hawaii to the cooler waters of the North Pacific. The air vent in the room continued to blow cold air in our faces as we lay in bed and the temperature in the room became quite uncomfortable. Adjusting the thermostat had no effect. Calling customer service had no effect. I finally went down in person to voice my concern and a maintenance attendant soon appeared to adjust the fan and the thermostat. We did get some warm air for a few hours and then the unit returned to blowing cold air over us. Again, when we mentioned the problem at the desk on check out, we were met with an apathetic response from the customer service representative. The public areas of the ship were generally clean and in good shape. We had the early seating in the main dining room. When we arrived at our assigned table on the first evening aboard we met four other passengers who had just embarked and were assigned to our table. Unfortunately we also encountered another couple who had been assigned to that particular table since New Zealand. It was embarrassingly obvious that they had expected to retain that seating for the whole voyage. They were accommodated elsewhere, but did not seem too pleased, and with good reason. Our servers at dinner were very attentive and pleasant. However this was not always the case for breakfast and lunch in the dining room, when we had different attendants. Some days it was great, other times we had long waits for food and really had to search for a second cup of coffee. My wife and I were not overly impressed with the food on board. Portion control was inconsistent and generally the meals were not up to the quality that we expect from this line. On the evening that we had surf and turf, the meat was barely recognizable as filet mignon and came very rare instead of the medium rare that we had ordered. The lobster tasted and appeared to be undercooked. We were not expecting the same quality of dining that could be found in the specialty restaurants, but do expect well-prepared food served at an appropriate temperature. The entertainment on the Noordam was at best, spotty. The B.B. King Band was the best show on board. They are very talented musicians who put tremendous energy in to each performance. Of the main stage acts, only one stood out: a pianist, who was skilled and who also put a lot of himself into his act. The others could be described as “lame”. (I thought that we were beyond “fat” and “drunk” jokes.) The one production show that was scheduled had to be cancelled because of a problem with a computer. It was rescheduled but at a very inconvenient time. Perhaps it was just us, but the other activities did not have much of an appeal – attending a lecture about the “Indians” of the northwest, playing very expensive Bingo, or learning to make poutine was not what we were looking for. Other cruises that we have been on seemed to have a better selection of shipboard activities that suited the ages and stages of their guests. My overall impression was that the ship and crew were tired. The cruise began in New Zealand, proceeded to Australia and then through the South Pacific to Hawaii where we embarked. At each major port, some passengers left and others came onboard. On cruises where the whole contingent of guests turns over at the start of the voyage there seems to be an energy and an striving to impress that permeates all departments. This is what I missed on this cruise. Given the right itinerary and value, we might choose to cruise with HAL again, but I would need to be convinced that the myriad of difficulties that we encountered would not be repeated. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
Three first time cruisers, 19 days from Honolulu to Sydney. Loved the ship, great size 1900 guests., not too big not too small. Found the ship to be elegant and stylish for my tastes. Our travel agent choose cabin F1001 on the main ... Read More
Three first time cruisers, 19 days from Honolulu to Sydney. Loved the ship, great size 1900 guests., not too big not too small. Found the ship to be elegant and stylish for my tastes. Our travel agent choose cabin F1001 on the main deck with window on the outside due to three sharing (two singles + sofa bed. Great size and very quite. Loved the MDR for breakfast and dinner, menu selections and quality of food was excellent. All servers were outstanding. Did not enjoy the Lido that much for both quality or choice (just me) the other two I travelled with did enjoy the Lido. Tried Cannoleto and enjoyed it, lunch at the Pinnacle Grill and found to be not as good as the MDR in both quality or service. We found the entertainment a bit lacking. The HAL singers & dancers (think Glee) we enjoyed and a couple of the featured singers. But overall a bit drab. BB Kings was a stand out and the cooking shows I enjoyed. The service generally was outstanding all over the ship, especially our cabin stewards, servers in the MDR. Just loved late night drinks in the Crowsnest (amazing team) Visited lots of South Pacific ports which were generally fun and interesting. Organised 4 ship excursions and 4 non-ship excursions. Ship excursions expensive in comparison but enjoyed them. The only place really didn't care for was Suva (on all sorts of levels) but didn't do a tour just walked the town and local museum Read Less
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