7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
My wife and I long ago started working on our travel list and have been around the world by air and land. We have had some great adventures and consider ourselves blessed. The idea of a cruise never appealed to my wife....(rumors of ... Read More
My wife and I long ago started working on our travel list and have been around the world by air and land. We have had some great adventures and consider ourselves blessed. The idea of a cruise never appealed to my wife....(rumors of crowds, lines, disorganization, media reports of fights, hurricane cruises etc) When Alaska came up we knew we had to do something different as it is best accessed by sea. After some convincing she agreed to give it a try. I researched the cruise lines and quickly discovered my alignment with HAL. In short Luxury at an amazing price point with the right size ships with our likes ( strings, art, lingering four course gourmet cuisine, wine, specialty dining, clean an comfortable accomodations, awesome service, great communication, scenic itinerary, a focus on safety, and always a smile) Shortly after boarding I asked the cabin steward what it was like to work for HAL. To paraphrase he indicated that he had worked for them since 1996 and felt loyal to the brand as they have treated me well. He went on to say we take pride in our ship, we are family, and this is our home. Really enough said. The leadership of this organization shines through from the Captain to the Cabin Steward. Bravo HAL, my wife said she felt like a queen. See you next year on the Mediterranean. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
This was a last minute cruise for us - we wanted to get away for a few days so we were looking for something with a short flight to get there and then be able to relax. There were great prices on this 7 day Alaska cruise on the Noordam so ... Read More
This was a last minute cruise for us - we wanted to get away for a few days so we were looking for something with a short flight to get there and then be able to relax. There were great prices on this 7 day Alaska cruise on the Noordam so we grabbed it. We usually cruise on HAL, so we knew pretty much what to expect - and we enjoy what Holland has. We did fly in to Vancouver the day before just to be safe. I had been reading about difficult embarkation in Vancouver (long lines, luggage problems, etc), so we went down to the terminal about 10:30 AM. Our taxi dropped us off at the luggage drop off, and we went right thru that, then up to the HAL check in, thru US Customs (yes, US because we were cruising to the US), and then we were done - took maybe 10 minutes! We were on the ship by 11:30, so I've got to say the embarkation was about perfect! We enjoyed lunch in the MDR then took time to wander and explore the ship. The Noordam is a sister ship to the Zuiderdam, which we've cruised on several times, so no surprises there. Our cabin stewards were excellent and took care of our every need. The concierges in the Neptune Lounge were very helpful to answer questions and help solve anything that came up. We usually had lunch on the Lido (I love the DIVE-IN) and dinner in the MDR. The food was great, the service was excellent - and if you have the chance to have the Gianduiotto for dessert, ask for 2 right off - if you like chocolate, you'll think you died and went straight to Chocolate heaven! - THE BEST We used the ship's excursions twice - the whale watch in Juneau and the White Pass & Yukon raiload in Skagway - it was actually less expensive than the one we tried to book on our own. We loved the railroad experience - it was a motor coach up to Caribou Crossing/Yukon then back to Fraser, BC to get on the train. We saw great scenery both ways but wish we could have had the train from Carcross, insread of Fraser. We didn't go to many of the shows at night - not because they weren't very good, but we were pretty tired from such a full day and wanted to be ready for the next day. We did enjoy the Lincoln Center Stage each night - just wish the room was larger. It was very popular and lots of SRO. We did enjoy America's Test Kitchen but wish they would be able to share what they cooked. On past HAL cruises I enjoyed the Digital Workshops, but the ones offered here were ones I had done already - maybe they could get some new options for repeat cruisers. Disembarkation in Seward was good - a nice bus ride up the Anchorage (driver was very knowledgeable about the area and what we were seeing). We got to the airport in plenty of time to catch our 1 PM flight. We cruise on Holland America because we don't go on a cruise for the flowriders, rock walls, water slides, etc - we like to relax and enjoy the view. We love Holland America and will continue to enjoy their service and their "Classic" cruising. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We had sailed on the Westerdam 10 years ago on a Glacier Bay tour and wanted to repeat it but with a balcony room which, I highly recommend a balcony whose windows the steward cleans daily as opposed to common areas, and a voyage that ... Read More
We had sailed on the Westerdam 10 years ago on a Glacier Bay tour and wanted to repeat it but with a balcony room which, I highly recommend a balcony whose windows the steward cleans daily as opposed to common areas, and a voyage that goes to Skagway versus Sitka. Additionally we wanted to see more of Alaska so added HAL’s train journey to Denali for two nights via Anchorage and out Fairbanks. There was continuous rain in Ketchikan, but other than that, rain did not spoil excursions and it was clear and sunny for the land tour. We also were one step ahead of the mosquitoes. The cruise was smoothly run. We ended up having to tender in Skagway as there was a small landslide where we were suppose to dock and 3 ships were port. There were a few issues with the land accommodations, extremely early start times, and not being given information that would have helped us in packing before we left home. I will elaborate to help others. We were in an accessible cabin BUT only were given an accessible hotel room @ Denali. It was a real hardship and meant going to use a lobby restroom in Fairbanks. HAL and perhaps Princess make those going on the train out of Seward put out all luggage the night before with one bag to join you each night and the other you don’t see until Fairbanks. Therefore you each need a tote or small backpack to go behind your knees on the first train to hold all your night clothes and anything needed at night time or am ( think sample size toothpaste and a toothbrush even if you use electric and packed it). Early disembarkment : Lido opens at 5 AM to grab a quick breakfast before you get assigned seats on this train. Two face forward and two rear with a table in between. Tight if train car full, ours wasn’t. We were glad we didn’t buy the meal package for the land portion. We were given a 5:30 AM start time for the Denali Park tour. If your lovely dome train gets into McKinley Chalet before the park ranger office closing HAL guest services might be able to get you on a later tour. This train has no assigned seats but nice forward facing seats and a wonderful bar tender who delivers drinks and some good snack food. Both trains have beautiful scenic routes and either side is good. The dining car is below here. If you buy a meal plan sit in the back as they take people down starting in the back. We ate breakfast/ lunch for us as it was a little before noon when it was finally our turn as we sat in the front of the car . The food was just okay so we stuck with smoothies and snacks thereafter. Daily starting times were early coupled with it being light until almost 11 PM kind of gets you sleep depriv d and thrown off. That same d we were glad we did the land portion and really enjoyed the included lunch and riverboat cruise with stops in Fairbanks. I would investigate other cruise line land tours as may be better. The HAL and Princess Lodges in Denali are good. On the cruise our cabin steward Ricky and our dining waiter Samyvasa were wonderful. We ate most all meals in the MDR The did all fish, beef, and lamb well. We loved breakfast there: fresh fruit plate, Swedish pancakes ( really filled crepes with berry compote), salsa skillet, really all egg dishes done well, and they will customize. I am lactose intolerant and almond and soy milk was available here and in the Cafe for coffee drinks . They gave me lunch and dinner menus ahead and if I wanted something else they have it for you the next day. We ate At Pinnacle Grill and the fillets and sides wer good but we had a very sullen distracted waiter. We had good service at Caneletto and okay food. Our burgers and items from Dive’s tostada bar were tasty the one time we went there. The musicians we went to see often were great: the young classically trained Lincoln Center Group and the always good B.B. King Group. We went two the first two shows and decided we liked them better and “Alaska” the musicians playing to a special BBC production. On this cruise spent all day looking at and photographing Glacier Bay and the little islands and port cities and did less of the many activities offered than usual. Many people had trouble making phone calls when ashore to home but could receive them. The nice Juneau Public Library is very close to the dock. It sits atop a tall parking structure overlooking the water with outdoor decks , good WI FI and computers. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We had a nice cruise. We had a neptune suite which was spacious but it was old and not very luxurious. We did three excusions. The tram in juneau, and a combo hatchery, mendenhal glacier and salmon bake. Then in ketchican we did the ... Read More
We had a nice cruise. We had a neptune suite which was spacious but it was old and not very luxurious. We did three excusions. The tram in juneau, and a combo hatchery, mendenhal glacier and salmon bake. Then in ketchican we did the logger show. The glacier was cool. I would recommend just doing that. The hatchery was a waste of time and the salmon bake was just ok. The tram and the logger show you can do on your own and it was not busy enough to warrant the hassle of buying tickets and waiting for a group. Don't waste valuable shore time on it. To wrap up the excursions I would recommend going on shore and look around for a bit and then get a taxi, hire a car or just book directly the things that look good. The pinnacle grill food was much better than the dining room. Overall the service was good on the ship and we really enjoy the suite perks of laundry, pinnacle breakfasts priority embarkation and such. 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
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
This was our third HAL cruise and the first on the Noordam. It was an relocation cruise of 24 days from Sydney to Vancouver with stops in New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuata, Pago Pago and Hawaii. There were numerous seas days but given the ... Read More
This was our third HAL cruise and the first on the Noordam. It was an relocation cruise of 24 days from Sydney to Vancouver with stops in New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuata, Pago Pago and Hawaii. There were numerous seas days but given the on board activities these days went quicker then expected. The cruise was blessed with good seas throughout and perfect weather except for a steady fog for the days between Hawaii and Vancouver. When we boarded the Noordam was at the end of its Australian based cruises but despite this the crew were friendly and attentive as if it was the first cruise. The ports of call, about half of which were tender ports gave us plenty of time to explore and were well organised. Pluses on the cruise were the Ex tour director Heather who gave talks with an irrelevant sense of humour, the two cruise directors Jan and Isolda whoi made the numerous trivia games heaps of fun. One big plus that given the number of Australia and New Zealand guests on board the captain arranged for a dawn service on April 25th to commemorate ANZAC Day. This was presided over by Bill Crewes who also gave various interesting talks on the geopolitical aspects of the regions we were visiting. Talks on the geophysical and fossil history of the region were done by Phil Cressey, again very interesting. The nightly entertainment was varied throughout the cruise with different sets of performers doing different stages of the cruise. Of these Sarah Moir was the most surprising and entertaining. The food was up to normal HAL standard with lots of variety and it was good to see that a proper salad bar is now an option. During the cruise we crossed the international date line on my birthday so that I was able to have two birthdays in the same year. My wife shouted me dinner in the Canaletto restaurant were I was presented with a cake and a round of happy birthday by the waiters ,most unexpected as was the card from the Captain and Cruise Director. All in all it was a very pleasant and relaxing way to cross the Pacific and I would recommend this cruise to anyone with the time to do it. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
I can say without reservation that this was the best service on a cruise ship we have experienced. The staff was very friendly and helpful. The food in the main dining room was just okay. Gone are the days of elegant dining with ... Read More
I can say without reservation that this was the best service on a cruise ship we have experienced. The staff was very friendly and helpful. The food in the main dining room was just okay. Gone are the days of elegant dining with delicious food and large portions. This was our 24th cruise and this was the poorest main dining room food we've experienced. But on the plus side the casual dining on the Lido deck was some of the best we have had experienced. We like the fact that the food is served to you. The choices on the Lido deck were varied. The condition of the ship was and likely is not up to standards we have experienced and observed on other vessels. The carpets are worn in many areas. Many of the doors on the ship are banged up. The paint on the ceiling in the main atrium is deteriorating. The metal around elevator doors is banged up on many floors. When we arrived at our cabin there were several things we noticed right away. The shaver outlet in the bathroom was loose from the wall. A cabinet handle broke upon our first opening. One the handles on the bathroom sink was missing parts. And the coach in our cabin was absolute filthy. On the good side the coach was cleaned and the items were fixed within 24 hours. Last the activities on the ship were pretty limited and the entertainment not very good. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We decided to take a slow and indulgent route back to Canada from Australia and this cruise seemed perfect...and in general it was. Embarkation was quick and easy and the crew very welcoming. The ports were excellent with a great mix of ... Read More
We decided to take a slow and indulgent route back to Canada from Australia and this cruise seemed perfect...and in general it was. Embarkation was quick and easy and the crew very welcoming. The ports were excellent with a great mix of culture thrown in for good measure. The dining experience was very good, thanks mainly to 2 very attentive waiters and a section manager who really seemed committed to ensuring the best service for his passengers. The ship was good too with a fair mix of things to do in the evening...not always to our taste, but you can't please everybody. Without doubt the staff, as is usual for many cruise lines, are the stars of the show, making our time on board a very relaxing experience...until we went back to our cabin each night. As we readied ourselves for bed we would wonder what time the noise would begin in the morning For some reason HAL decided to upgrade us from the large inside we'd chosen at booking to an obstructed outside, despite us requesting 'no upgrades'. Most mornings we were woken by either Deck Hands noisily rearranging furniture, engineers carrying out maintenance on the lifeboat or gear outside our window, or others readying the lifeboat for tender duty. Yes, I appreciate that all these things have to happen, but at 6am in the morning it's not funny...and precisely why we chose an inside cabin and requested 'no upgrade'. We complained at reception, but I try to be polite and respectful and probably didn't make enough fuss. We were told there was no alternative cabin available...but strangely the following day another couple who were being quite loud and angry were attended by a manager and got moved. Oh well, maybe I need to attend 'assertiveness training'. I'm glad we did the trip and we did have a great time, but the cabin situation did spoil it somewhat. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Firstly, disregard all the negative reviews of this ship. It is a meticulously maintained, modern ship with top quality food and staff. Many people reviewing relatively luxury cruise ships, like the ms Noordam, have silver spoons broken ... Read More
Firstly, disregard all the negative reviews of this ship. It is a meticulously maintained, modern ship with top quality food and staff. Many people reviewing relatively luxury cruise ships, like the ms Noordam, have silver spoons broken off inside them and tend to complain about ridiculous things, like slices of lemon. Holland America Line is by no means a party ship, or even a 'family-fun' cruise line. It is a cruise line designed for unwinding and relaxing with just enough entertainment to make you want to never go home. I am 30 and found this cruise to be fantastic, although I know a few party-animal friends that would be bored to tears on this ship. If you want to party, go on a carnival line. Also, I counted 9 children out of about 1500 people, and these children must have had their voice-boxes removed as they were quiet, obedient and barely noticeable. Ship The ms Noodrem is a modern, luxury ship designed to provide panoramic views without the weather disruptions (these ships were designed with cold-weather cruises in-mind). Expect lots of glass on the lido deck, overlooking the ocean. Expect heated pools and a sauna. The ship is exceptionally well appointed with modern amenities and brand-new trimmings. The ship has no worn carpet or torn furniture - that is a total lie. Cabin We had a balcony cabin just under the lido deck. The balcony was huge with good privacy and amazing views. I should mention we originally booked a balcony room on the 5th floor - I would not recommend this level due to potential obstructions from the tender/lifeboats found midship. The balcony room was large, comfortable, and well maintained. There were a few squeaks from the roof during rough seas but nothing to worry me. In the mornings and evenings, noise from above was heard but did not bother us in the slightest - would definitely book another room under the Lido deck. Dining Food was of very high quality except the odd dish, which didn't have much flavour. The formal dining room produced amazingly high quality food, with exceptional service. Worth noting, it takes about 2 hours from the time you order until the time you finish dessert in this formal setting. The lido market, the buffet, was fantastic. You could find a seat easily, unless you were fussy and wanted to sit near the huge panoramic windows (which we wanted to). Food was great although more variety day-to-day would have been nice. Entertainment This was probably the only issue I had. Entertainment varied from exceptional and hilarious to boring and embarrassing. The comedian was absolutely hilarious and the Noordam dancers were quite good however the guest singer, who did 2 shows, was embarrassing and ridiculous - she tried to be funny and was not. At all. I have seen some pretty amazing shows while at sea so I may not be the best person to judge the entertainment on the Noordam. Things like the BBC presentations were great but bingo was less energetic than what you would find at a retirement home. Again, I have played bingo on P&O, which, hands-down, is the most fun you will ever have blotting numbers. Service Service was the best I have ever experienced. Land or sea. The staff are courteous, friendly and attentive. They will bring you dessert without asking as they have noticed your favourite ones the night before. They were that dedicated and hard working, I often felt guilty. You could not fault any of them. Ports and Shore excursions. Although a little bit more expensive than other cruise lines I have been on, they were not over-the-top. Expect to pay 10-20% more for a similar shore excursion when compared to Royal Caribbean or P&O and about the same as what you would expect from Princess or Celebrity. Very good range and all the benefits of booking through the cruise line - cancellation refunds are instant should the excursion be cancelled, they'll wait for you if delayed and you're covered, somewhat, with their insurance. All in all, an exceptional cruise filled with friendly, traveled people who are happy to have a chat with you. Disregard the other reviews, you will love it, unless you're a teenager looking to party. If you are not sure if you will like it, you will, I promise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Chosen for the itinerary and Holland America excellent service. Embarkation was very well organized and done in a timely manner. Cabin was very clean and comfortable. Lots of storage. Cabin stewards did an excellent job. Always knew they ... Read More
Chosen for the itinerary and Holland America excellent service. Embarkation was very well organized and done in a timely manner. Cabin was very clean and comfortable. Lots of storage. Cabin stewards did an excellent job. Always knew they were close to help , very friendly and very efficient. Lido for breakfast was always crowded and busy. Staff did a good job in helping you find a table. Lido and Dive in for lunch we’re both great food and service. Main dining room open seating worked great always good service and great table mates. Specialty restaurants. Pinnacle wonderful. Amazing service. Canneletto good food but it is really just an extension at night of the lido. Entertainment is mediocre for stage shows. Music venues enjoyable but B.B. Kings volume is loud and louder. Great choices for shore excursions and shore staff very helpful and knowledgeable in getting information about ports. Disembarkation very smooth Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We had read the reviews on Noordam prior to travel and a lot were not very complimentary so we went with low expectations. All I can say is that the type of complaint I read previously makes me think those people would not be happy with ... Read More
We had read the reviews on Noordam prior to travel and a lot were not very complimentary so we went with low expectations. All I can say is that the type of complaint I read previously makes me think those people would not be happy with anything. Noordam far exceeded our expectations. We were delighted with practically everything on board. Our stateroom on verandah deck mid ship was roomy, clean, comfortable and well maintained...plenty of storage. Probably the best bed I have ever slept in....so comfortable with fantastic pillows. Loved it. The food in all restaurants, and we tried them all was exceptional. I think for the entire cruise, 13 nights, there was one meal I found not to my taste but that was my choice and I didn’t choose well. But the meal choices were terrific. The ship gives a feel of old world elegance. Some say dated and not modern. I say elegant. The staff on board were amazing. I think if I had to score out of 10 I would give them a 15. The Captains announcements every day became a highlight as we got used to his dry humour and his emphasis on washing hands. The fact his record for the healthiest ship cruising was a testament to his perseverance in keeping us on our toes. It was his final cruise before retirement and the crew gave him a terrific send off......he was obviously well liked and respected. There was plenty to do on board....it was non stop and could keep you occupied 24/7. The entertainment of board was good, in the main especially the Noordam singers and dancers. The ports were OK on this Pacific cruise but wouldn’t rave about them. Arriving into Noumea on a Sunday wasn’t great as nothing open in the town. The three is,ands we visited and accessed by Tender were very scenic. We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise on Noordam and would recommend this ship. Also the embarkation and disembarkation. Is so efficient and quick. Very impressed. Great holiday. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Noordam. Cruise to Pacific Islands On the 15/03/2018. Thirteen days The cruise was from Sydney at the overseas passenger terminal circular quarry Embarkation very very efficient. We receive a very good deal for a ... Read More
Noordam. Cruise to Pacific Islands On the 15/03/2018. Thirteen days The cruise was from Sydney at the overseas passenger terminal circular quarry Embarkation very very efficient. We receive a very good deal for a balcony guarantee cabin. We were assigned a BB cabin on 10004 deck ten. The Position near the Crows Nest lounge and the lido swimming pool was great. The cabin was in very good condition The balcony was small but accommodated two chairs. I had read in Cruise Critic reviews that the ship was rundown and needed a refit. However I have found the ship to be in good condition. I understand the dry docking and refitting has been postponed. The most used and best place on the boat was the Exploration Lounge with Internet ports and a very good library and a coffee shop. I believe that on the other ships of this class the Exploration lounge has been removed and this is intended for the Noordam refit. This would be ridiculous. The food in the lido and the main dining room was very good as was the Italian restaurant at night where service and food was excellent. Any time dining worked well for us. The main disappointment was the entertainment although it did improve a little towards the end of the cruise. The entertainment director seem to be out of his depth It appears there was a lack of staff with only a deputy director. This is poor cost cutting, The Lincoln group and the blues band were very good. They did not compensate for general lack of entertainment. It was never possible to get into the piano bar. It was too crowded. The was a total lack of live bands in various lounges the Crows Nest lounge only seem to be used for the two for one drinks. It was totally dead at night in fact most of the ship seemed to be totally dead and lacking in entrainment. The port lecturer was good and informative. The cast in the shows were very good however the production was poor. The speciality acts were also poor. The movies were out of date and shown in an venue which was totally inadequate for watching a movie. There were only two cooking demonstrations in the same venue in the 13 day cruise. There were only a few trivia sessions and no game shows. No line bands at sail away. No real sail away parties. The entrainment staff seemed to be asleep at the wheel. In reading the blog on the world cruise Amsterdam and other blogs, Holland America seems to completely lost the plot in providing entrainment on the Noordam in Australia It was a very enjoyable cruise despite the lack of entertainment. The the staff and service was excellent. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
The cruise was the type of itinerary that I was Looking for, within in the time period available to me. This was our first time cruising and My Wife and I were really looking forward to our first cruise. I will preface my remarks by ... Read More
The cruise was the type of itinerary that I was Looking for, within in the time period available to me. This was our first time cruising and My Wife and I were really looking forward to our first cruise. I will preface my remarks by saying that I am easy going by nature and not overly fussy. Embarkation was from White Bay Terminal Sydney. This was handled very well and I have no complaints at all. The cabin was of adequate size in need of refurbishment, The cabin was clean and tidy. The TV was a complete joke. Dining was adequate, the better dining areas attracting a fee(surcharge). With the entertainment being very ordinary we read for most of the time. Entertainment was esoteric with charges applicable to many of the activities. Most of the activities were of no interest to myself and after talking to others on board they were of the same opinion Service was good overall except for the ubiquitous tipping. Applying a 15 per cent fee added to the final account at the end of the cruise while applying 15per cent tip on purchases made during the cruise. I would rather they pay the staff a proper wage, include the extra cost in the advertised price of the cruise. Ports of call:- due to inclement weather a number of ports had to be missed. This is out of the control of Holland America however days at sea were boring and tedious. Holland America line excursions were way too expensive, I was able to book my excursions on line before we left home and they were great at fraction of the price wanted for the ship excursions. Disembarkation was handled very well, and we were glad to get off. There were a number people who were of the same opinion as myself. Holland America should take note that most people do not complain they remember. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Only our second cruise, had previously sailed from Hawaii to Sydney in 2016. We were so impressed with that cruise, the brand and the ship. So we choose to revisit with HAL and the Noordam again, this time the New Zealand leg of the ... Read More
Only our second cruise, had previously sailed from Hawaii to Sydney in 2016. We were so impressed with that cruise, the brand and the ship. So we choose to revisit with HAL and the Noordam again, this time the New Zealand leg of the Pacific Cruise. We love the size and style of the Noordam, and having sailed before felt really comfortable with layout and facilities. Our cabin was on the main deck 1050, we were 3 males travelling together so the cabin had twin beds and the cabin attendants converted the sofa to a third bed every evening. Bedding,size of cabin were all really comfortable. Both trips I loved the dining facilities on-board, preferring the main dining area for most meals, breakfast and dinner. The quality, portions, presentation & service were outstanding. Don't like the Lido deck much at all, but that's just my preference. The Dive In by the pool makes the best burger, hot-dog and fries ever for a lunch time snack! The entertainment was quite boring this trip, liked the Noordam singers & dances but only performed irregularly. Piano bar was excellent, BB King's is good, the disco was appalling and the rest of the entertainment revolved trivia and an odd dance class. The cooking classes were good on the last trip but this time around a "new" commercial partnering left us bored. I felt this trip there had been a significant cultural shift in service, staff and management, and this was collective impression by us. Our "impression" was there seemed to be less people doing more work, staff seemed to be pushed harder, slightly stressed and less friendly. Found the entertainment director and his associates somewhat condescending and patronising at time and management generally the same. The service standouts were without doubt the dining & drink servers in the main dining room plus the bar staff in the Crows Nest. Ports visited were all interesting with Milford Sound first day outstanding! Due to the size and nature of the ports it was difficult to dock and weather reliant. We booked 2 excursions with the ship both outrageously expensive. The first was Wellington and the tour was very good, the second was Auckland and was cancelled due to weather conditions. The cruise was plagued by difficult weather conditions and can understand it comes with the territory. On the way up the coast we missed Napier due to bad weather, we missed Auckland and Bay of Islands due to weather, the captain retraced our steps and came back to Napier which was nice. Overall made us question if we would travel HAL again, and would certainly look at a fly drive option as a better way of seeing NZ Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
I was on a 12 night cruise from New Zealand via Tasmania finishing up at Sydney Australia. The cruise was to include New Zealand North Island, New Zealand South Island, Tasmania, Melbourne and Sydney Australia. Embarkation in ... Read More
I was on a 12 night cruise from New Zealand via Tasmania finishing up at Sydney Australia. The cruise was to include New Zealand North Island, New Zealand South Island, Tasmania, Melbourne and Sydney Australia. Embarkation in Auckland was bad. Their boarding ramp broke and this added a few hours to the ordeal. Not a great start. The room (see below for cabin description) was very poor, dated and with quite a few issues. The ship itself was quite dated and in need of a lot of attention. Hit and miss on reception staff. I took pictures and videos which I presented to the reception staff who did a lot of nodding, agreed to do things and then didn't do anything. Needed constant chasing. That said, eventually one reception person did sort me out and was very good. (they are on shifts so quite hit and miss). I had also had a problem where my door didn't close at all. This was quickly sorted out. The other staff on the boat were very good (restaurant etc) and very friendly. I approached Holland America head office with these issues, offered to show them the evidence in the form of pictures and videos I took of the knocking noises, and of the poor customer service on the ship regarding this. They were not interested and all I got from them was a dismissive "Sorry you feel that way" type response, to quote them "extend our apologies if you feel their response was unacceptable". Very poor response. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
This review is for an Atlantis Events cruise from Auckland to Sydney with six stops on a Holland America ship, Noordam (built circa 2006). This was my first cruise. We chose this cruise because many of our friends have done them and speak ... Read More
This review is for an Atlantis Events cruise from Auckland to Sydney with six stops on a Holland America ship, Noordam (built circa 2006). This was my first cruise. We chose this cruise because many of our friends have done them and speak highly of their experiences. We spent two days in Auckland before departing to Gisborne, Wellington, Akaroa (Christchurch), Hobart (Tasmania), Melbourne and Sydney. Boarding problems delayed our departure, but before long we were on our way. Being my first cruise, I wasn't really aware of and didn't pay attention to the fact that we were circling an island for several hours after we left Auckland and I am still unsure why we changed course. Atlantis Events and/or Holland America diverted the ship from making the planned stop in Akaroa (Christchurch) due to weather. Hard for me to believe that since Akaroa is a protected harbor. If you look on a map, the cruise was to go from Wellington to Akaroa and then south around the south island of New Zealand. Instead, we were stuck for three days at sea while we lumbered along at a leisurely pace to keep on schedule (i.e., not get to Hobart before we were scheduled). This significant change in schedule was, in my estimation, unnecessary, and definitely infuriating. The change in course lead to Holland America and/or Atlantis Events saving tens of thousands of dollars in fuel. We didn't get so much as a credit toward a future cruise. Keep in mind that many of the staff on the ship were lovely. Very attentive, happy to help and genuinely appeared to enjoy their jobs. Most were from Indonesia and the Philippines, and they were outstanding. Unfortunately, there were 20-25% of the employees that absolutely hated their job (or hated us). You could tell because they didn't smile, make eye contact or go beyond the minimum of what they were required. I have heard for years about how great the food is on cruises. Not being someone who enjoys eating large amounts of food (read, all-you-can-eat buffets), I wanted quality over quantity. I also don't eat a lot of meat, but there were plenty of hunks of unknown meats under heat lamps that didn't look particularly appetizing. The salad bar (not self-serve) on our cruise was ALWAYS busy and very understaffed. It was frustrating. You could go to a sit-down restaurant with table service (rather than the buffet-style food served on the lido deck), but this food was only marginally better. There was, of course, the extra-special option of going to a restaurant and actually paying for a high-end meal. Since I wasn't impressed with the food on the lido deck or the sit-down restaurant, I didn't bother. The number of deafeningly loud announcements through over-driven speakers by the crew at all hours was very disrupting and usually sounded like the adults on Peanuts. I felt like an announcement that loud should have been left for "abandon ship!" instead of "we're having a sale on (overpriced) watches on the lido deck" or whatever equally silly announcement they were making. It was ridiculous. The 'drinking' water on this ship tasted like it had been stored in a plastic container in the sun for a day or two, making it taste horrible. The upside was that we could drink the four $5 bottles of water (12 oz) left in our room every day when attendants came in to make our bed. If you're a coffee drinker, you'll need to lower your expectations considerably since the swill they served for coffee made instant coffee taste like Italian espresso, but you can go to their 'espresso bar' and pay $4.50 for a latte, so you aren't totally screwed. If you ask me, it takes a lot of chutzpah to provide undrinkable water and coffee, and then essentially force you to pay their outrageously over-priced bottled water and coffee. In the end, we paid an outrageous $1,354--almost all in drinks and one $100 bottle of wine for my birthday dinner. Holland America also enjoys using only US Dollars as its onboard currency and does not recognize the currency of those countries whose ports they frequent, so you won't enjoy any 'deals' on exchange rates. Buyer/cruiser beware! Take note of the year your ship was built. Read recent reviews of it so you know what you're getting yourself into. Ultimately, I don't think I would ever do another Atlantis Events cruise, and I would NEVER do another Holland America given this experience. Good luck! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2018
Ship was chose for us as a charter cause i would not have picked it myself. While the crew were overall very nice and glad to see us, the ship itself was extremely dated and not worth the money. The furniture was worn and torn, half the ... Read More
Ship was chose for us as a charter cause i would not have picked it myself. While the crew were overall very nice and glad to see us, the ship itself was extremely dated and not worth the money. The furniture was worn and torn, half the rooms had blasting a/c and the other half were saunas. Constant plumbing issues, power issues, and the fact that the maintenance staff were either so overworked or just past the point of caring that nothing seemed to get fixed. When i realized that part of why my room was so warm was that a prior passenger had squeezed a cruise daily into the a/c vent, i called and knowing that i wouldnt get much help i begged the person to bring a phillips head screwdriver so we could get it done rather than have them look, evaluate, and schedule. The promised they would...they brought a corkscrew. They called another staffer who brought a broken leatherman with a phillips bit so worn it was an icepick. They were discussing what to do and i grabbed the leatherman and used the flat head to get it open. That and the televisions on the ship are widescreen tubes that can only be watched in a totally dark room with tylenol for the static. Rooms were caked in salt and dust and mold. There are much nicer and newer vessels out there. Do NOT pick this one. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
Summary: We chose this cruise for the itinerary after first looking at a similar Oceania cruise; we saved substantially on HAL, and for this itinerary that was more important to us than the expected diminution of values relating to the ... Read More
Summary: We chose this cruise for the itinerary after first looking at a similar Oceania cruise; we saved substantially on HAL, and for this itinerary that was more important to us than the expected diminution of values relating to the cabin, passengers and food. We were very pleasantly surprised at the high quality of service we received from the Maitre D, Waiter and Assistant Waiter; cabin service was excellent and we found the crew as a whole very pleasant. Food and Entertainment greatly exceeded our expectations. Embarkation: We did not board until 2:30 as were were enjoying Sydney (we spent 4 days pre-cruise there and wish we had spent 6); when we did board the process was efficient and fast. We brought on board 6 bottles of wine purchased in Australia; we were charged for 2 immediately (and the others as we used them in the Dining Room). No issues there. Cabin: When we reached our cabin we received our luggage in short order; our cabin steward came by and we requested that the fridge be emptied as we were only going to use it to cool wine bottles and water; this was seen to very quickly and for the rest of the cruise the fridge, not being overfilled, worked quite well. Twice a day service kept the cabin in good shape. See below for more detail. Dining: We had an early assignment in the Dining Room as requested, and were seated at the higher level at a table for 4, but occupied only by us - this was better than the two top we requested. During the cruise the 3 course dinners were served very quickly (45-50 minutes) which was fine with us; we had time to go to the Lincoln Center and other entertainment thereafter if we chose. Service including water refills was excellent. If we wanted an additional appetizer this was never an issue. Given the temperature limitations of cooking meats on a cruise ship we thought the chefs did quite well; medium rare was usually medium rate though not as juicy as at a land based restaurant. Some of the dinner apps and mains were really excellent, including Veal Roast in a mushroom sauce, and perfectly prepared Tuna. Pretty much everything was good or better. We tried Canaletto one night; it was decent but not outstanding. Pinnacle was great for lunch, and good at dinner but the wonderful Bouilliabaisse served at lunch was unavailable at dinner. Sel De Mer (X2) was very very good, with the sweetest lobster with brown butter sauce, Torchon of foie gras, a heaping plate of very fresh seafood for from clams to crab legs for a measly $25, great truffled potatoes and a very good classic souffle for dessert. Cellar Master's Dinner was very very well done and a real bargain compared to more expensive dinners we experienced on Oceania's Riviera. Beef tenderloin had very good flavor. Desserts in all venues were usually quite good. We asked our Maitre D if we could experience an Indonesian dinner and he provided us with an off menu dinner one night and an Indian dinner another, both very enjoyable. Only had dinner once in Lido; had pasta and enjoyed it.We had all but one of our breakfasts in the Lido, which was very crowded; omelets were very well made in accordance with instructions; good smoked salmon every day; tried to get creamed herring every day but failed (despite promises); the only downsides at breakfast were absence of fresh berries and overworked wait staff making it hard to get beverage refills. The other down side, in virtually every setting, was the fact that we could overhear our neighbors, which was usually annoying and at times painful; I would vote for higher noise level so that we wouldn't have that repeated experience. The Ship: Noordam is not new, but we don't have a fetish about that and we found it and its condition more than good enough. There were a few leaks (one big one just outside the Lido) on rainy days but otherwise no issues. Covered pool area was nice on cool days; hot tubs being available early and last was nice. Music played in various public areas and the Lido was just a weird mix, though sometimes the crew liked to sing along. I was told that the same music is played in all ships which suggests that little though is put into it. Pinnacle thankfully had some quieter classical music. Compared to Riviera, the ship has fewer quiet public spaces but we found a few; there is at times a near claustrophobic feel especially when large numbers of people are rambling towards Vista Lounge for a show. The small cabins can get that way as well. Photography and Cruise Art areas which must be passed several times a day were tiresome as well (haven' been on a cruise with those in about 15 years), but this was a minor annoyance. Noordam still has a nice library (as of now). We had very good weather for the whole cruise and almost no rocking or vibration. Crew (Service) :Great, the Captain made timely and good announcements, Cruise Director was fine. Entertainment: Lincoln Center featured 5 very talented musicians playing different concerts 5 nights a week in a very nice dedicated space with good sound - a mix of classical concerts, and other types of music all played very well. This truly made a huge difference for us. BB Kings was enjoyable. The Comedian and Violinist who played at Vista were fun; I did not like the pianist "Hyperbole" Knight, who performed a Readers Digest version of Rachmaninoff, but I was definitely in the minority. Port information shows were very good. That's about it for entertainment for us: we didn't do trivia etc. We also didn't do bars. My wife enjoyed her one beauty treatment (expensive as expected). Ships' stores had a few pleasant items (magnets and earrings) but nothing serious. Ports and Shore Excursions: We did our own excursions except one ship excursion which was rather disappointing. Captain did a great job showing everyone Milford Sound. Very nicely arranged shuttle buses where needed. Passengers: the vast majority ranged in age from 50 to 75, with the largest number from the US, followed by Australia. The Americans were from all over the US, but the majority (from conversations we couldn't avoid hearing) were conservative and if they weren't comparing notes on their cruise experiences they would share their social observations; the group was much more conservative in their expression than any cruise I've been on; since we traveled in part to escape that it was disappointing. Aside from that e were very happy with this cruise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
Loved this ship. Beautiful suite on the Rotterdam deck, which was huge and luxurious. Scrupulously keen, and the American know hoe to do wonderful service. Plenty of staff for every want and we had two stewards and two concierges. The ... Read More
Loved this ship. Beautiful suite on the Rotterdam deck, which was huge and luxurious. Scrupulously keen, and the American know hoe to do wonderful service. Plenty of staff for every want and we had two stewards and two concierges. The Neptune Lounge for people in Suites was excellent, and just added to the excellent services. Entertainment a bit patchy, and the resident dancers and singers were simply appalling. Guest entertainers were pretty good mostly. Great food very day and the night time dining was exceptional . wasn't that impressed with the Pinnacle Grill even though we could have had breakfast there every day....preferred room service, Trip was a week in various parts of Australia, and then 12 days in New Zealand. Disappointed that our time in Fiordland was reduced and spent longer in Hobart (lovely place, not a lot to do). The only disappointment was the rude, foul mouthed, deeply offensive and downright belligerent Maori Troupe on board. I was amazed that they as staff could use the guest facilities making making it impossible for paying guests to use the facilities... e.g. the spa pools on the aft deck. They lay in there for hours (one was very obese and took most of the space so his fellow troupe members were a bit squeezed in.) They made it quite clear in a foul mouthed tirade that they weren't getting out for anyone......almost if you were white you should humble yourselves before them in view of what they allege their people suffered ( all grossly untrue as I was born and raised in New Zealand, and still consider myself a New Zealander). This was a great disappointment as by and large in NZ the Maori are mostly a lovely people. Other interactions with them were just as unsettling and upsetting. I found myself wondering why there wasn't an Australian Aboriginal Troupe on board. So whilst I enjoy, indeed love, the Holland America ships I think I will avoid the cruise to New Zealand again, because of this Maori "cultural" group. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
As this was a special occasion, we spared no expense and booked a Neptune Suite with large aft wrap around balcony. Expectations were high, more so as we have cruised extensively before and enjoyed our Cunard and Celebrity cruises ... Read More
As this was a special occasion, we spared no expense and booked a Neptune Suite with large aft wrap around balcony. Expectations were high, more so as we have cruised extensively before and enjoyed our Cunard and Celebrity cruises immensely. The trip started positively, embarkation was quick and friendly. Things went downhill from there. Cabin (and ship) decor is very dated and years overdue for a refit. Furniture and fittings are of low quality, and this was especially evident in the bathroom. Main dinning room was mediocre, decor again dated, dark and stuffy. Worst part was the food, despite an effusive menu littered with culinary terms, the food was basic, low quality, dumped on the plate and served lukewarm. We ate there twice and then never returned. Lido dinning was even worse. Very limited choice, mostly pizza and pasta, and poor process for dishing out food, leaving people waiting ages for their order to be filled. Worst was the service times, if you wanted food outside their designated times, only dried up pizza was available. Not a vegetable in sight. At 8.30pm most stations were closed, and I have a picture of staff coming through vacuuming while diners still eating ! By day three, we reverted to eating all meals onshore when in port. On sea days we ate at the Pinnacle Grill, which was excellent, but at an xtra cost of $35 per head each time. Enrichment program was limited and focused on selling stuff. Entertainment stage shows were okay, but cruise director was clearly just coasting and did not bring any energy or interest to the cruise. Officers were rude and uninterested on the rare occasion we saw them or spoke to them. The only redeeming factor was the general staff, who were worked so hard to make up for the inadequacies of the ship, the processs and the lack of leadership. They were without exception, cheerful, helpful and engaging. To all of them, our sincere thanks. Other passengers we spoke to had mixed views, many shared our views, but others were very happy, so maybe it’s a matter of expectations. For us, this was our first experience with HAL and based on this we would not book them again. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
BACKGROUND: Took my mom on this cruise. It was #1 on her bucket list to travel to Australia. I’m 50 , she’s 71. We chose this 12 day cruise based on itinerary, not cruise line. It covered South Australia including Tasmania and was ... Read More
BACKGROUND: Took my mom on this cruise. It was #1 on her bucket list to travel to Australia. I’m 50 , she’s 71. We chose this 12 day cruise based on itinerary, not cruise line. It covered South Australia including Tasmania and was round trip from Sydney. I normally cruise on Silversea but have also cruised one time each on RCCL, Paul Gauguin, Celebrity and Azamara. HOTEL: We stayed for 3 days pre cruise at Hotel Intercontinental which is a fantastic location and beautiful hotel. I have been to Sydney 4 times and this was by the best location. Circular Quay really is the heart of Sydney and is the easiest location to venture to other parts of the city. Definitely will stay here again or Marriott which is also right there as well. EMBARKATION: very easy. Porters met us as soon as we exited limo. We went inside, filled out health questionnaire and proceeded to desk to check in., No lines, very nice staff. In a matter of minutes we were on board. FIRST IMPRESSION: I had low expectations honestly . Having read cruise critic before trip and I had googled photos. But much to my dismay, the pictures I had seen actually made it look nicer than it really was. I knew it wouldn’t be modern and shiny like Silversea and Celebrity but was shocked the second I walked on. It was terrible. Ugly dark blue carpeting, with bright red accents and the lighting was literally yellow with ugly brass sculptures and trim. I know this ship was built in 2006 but cant imagine it was even stylish back then. We made our way to deck 6 and as we walked aft to our room , I couldn’t believe how ugly even the hallway was. Ugly wall covering, peeling in most places, cabin doors that looked like cork and ugly blue funky carpeting. My heart sank..The ship is so dated and worn. I know it’s going in to dry dock for a refurbishment in May....but I’m not sure HAL will do enough to make this ship really competitive in the industry. There are so many new ships out there and ships being remodeled, I would think HAL must be losing ground. I noticed when I got home they are advertising a lot and wonder if they are beginning to have trouble filling up ships with all the stiff competition out there. CABIN: See below on cabin review...but we had a Neptune Suite 6177. LOVED LOVED the huge wraparound veranda. DINING: i prepaid 6 specialty restaurants ,,,3 for Pinnacle and 3 for Canaletto. I was happy to find out that we had the same 2 top reserved for the whole cruise in the Main Dining Room . I dont know if that is normal, a suite perk or our travel agent set it up for us, but it was a lovely surprise. I loved the food on this cruise. I thought it was better than Celebrity and not too far off from Silversea. There were lots of choices every night. After eating one night each in Canaletto and Pinnacle, we decided that although very good, I dont think they are worth the upcharge as the MDR was so good and I dont think they were better than the MDR in my opinion, so we canceled the remaining reservations at specialties. We also had very good service in the MDR>. Loved our waiter and asst waiter and we felt the service was quicker in the MDR and a bit slow in Pinnacle and Canaletto. I dont like to linger at the table for hours on end during dinner, so I appreciated the quicker service in the MDR. Every meal I had was good (except room service). The only thing we didnt like at the restaurants was a ginger chocolate cake one night for dessert. Had no flavor, seemed a bit “wet”...just blah. It wa like a major ingredient was left out . We only ate at LIdo Buffet twice as I hate buffets. We did salads for 2 lunches and they were good. LIdo Buffet dining room was always packed and hard to find a place to sit. Decor looked straight out of Golden Girls episode. ROOM SERVICE: Definitelly needs improvement. Without going into detail on each item we ordered....just seemed like it lacked someone doing quality control. Missing or short ingredients in salad, food not to temperature, omelette bathed in butter/oil, only hot milk brought for cereal, Every time we got it, we were disappointed. Fortunately, we had access to Neptune’s Lounge and there are always snacks and sweets there all day long. ENTERTAINMENT: I dont normally like cruise ship entertainment, so i didnt go to any shows , so I cant really comment . I can only say that friends I made on the ship didnt have anything good to say about the shows. SERVICE: Noordam really shined here. Everyone from our cabin stewards, to our waiters, to bartenders etc, were all excellent. Everyone was so nice and friendly and even though it’s a larger ship than what I m used to, i was surprised at how many workers knew my name and used it frequently. The only place where employees werent friendly was Explorations Cafe....I felt like I was in the “soup nazi: episode of Seinfeld. Order quickly then move down counter to collect your coffee and pastry. They didnt smile, didnt seem like they enjoyed their job, seemed annoyed if you didnt know what you wanted right away. OVERALL: It was such a mixed bag of experiences. While I loved the service and the food and the passengers were pretty social (unlike Silversea sometimes). The dreariness of the ship tarnished the experience. I loved the pool aft, big open space and never crowded. I never did the midship pool because it seemed like every time I walked through it, the roof was closed and they were doing some type of sidewalk sale from the shops and there were tons of people clogging up the space and being noisy. I loved that HAL has happy hour from 4-5 and 9-10. The bars were packed and a lot of fun and dare i say a great value for dinks on a ship! I got 2 gin and tonics or old fashioned s for $11 total including gratuity. Celebirty is outrageous...so I was very pleased. SPA: so while i dont do spa treatments on cruise ships as I think they are way too expensive, my mom loves pampering herself and so I encouraged her to enjoy. What I will say is that on day one, we did a tour of the spa and fitness area and was totally turned off/irritated. There was such a hard sell on this ship like I have seen on no other. I dont like when they wont take no for an answer. I had to get pretty curt in order to overcome their hard core selling pressure. My mom did 5 spa services and after the first one , she came back to the cabin with hundreds of dollars of unneeded and overpriced products. She’s very soft and easily influenced and the spa crew definitely knew her number. I was furious...feeling like they take advantage of an older person. GYM: old equipment and too small of a free weight area. PORTS: SYDNEY...MY FAVORITE CITY IN AUSTRALIA...BEEN 4 TIMES, LOVE IT! MELBOURNE: feel like it is overrated. Surprisingly, I didnt care much for it. We did our own thing...lots of locals at port to help with tourism advice. We uber’d Everywhere and it was easy. We did the Royal Botanic Gardens...Amazing!! It’s huge and gorgeous. Probably the best I have done anywhere. Then we went to St Kilda Beach. A great beach town south of town. Beach not as nice as many in Sydney, but clean. The village there has lots of local boutiques, restaurants etc...kind of a funky, hip town. Had a good lunch there in one of the many sidewalk cafes. Then we went to city center for some shopping. Ugh, what a mistake. Felt like just another huge city, with too many cars , people etc....it was claustrophobic....didnt feel like it was unique or interesting. General consensus of my happy hour friends that night was the same....Melbourne was a bit of a disappointment. ADELAIDE: we overnighted here. However, it’s a 45 min train ride into the city, so not as convenient. Train was free that weekend....it isn’t usually, but for whatever reason, that line was free. We loved all the beautiful architecture in Adelaide. It’s a smaller city which I liked and easy to walk. We also did the botanical gardens there which were very nice as well. Shopping is good ...they have a huge pedestrian mall/street there with anything and everything you would want...and lots of restaurants. Seemed to be the hub of the city. . Would definitely go back. PORT LINCOLN: small town of about 15k. Did a ship excursion that gave us a bus tour of the highlights of this fishing village. Then we walked around the town, poked in some shops. Some might not like it since its small and not a lot to do, but i love small towns and enjoyed the slower pace very much! KANGAROO ISLAND: wow....this was probably everyone’s favorite destination. Anyone we talked to , raved about this island. You go here for wildlife. We did a ship excursion..but you could easily do it with a rental car as my friends did. It’s a sparsely populated island and easy to drive around and see the same sights we did on ship tour. Its gorgeous, the seals are amazing, seal lions, koalas, birds , kangaroos etc...it was a very long day, but absolutely stunning and magnicient. PORT ARTHUR TASMANIA: We did a ship tour. It was an eco cruise along the coastline for about 3 hours. It was a wild crazy fun ride. Swells were huge.....but it was such a gorgeous ride. A couple people got seasick...but the rest thought it was exhiliarating! HOBART TASMANIA. We did ship tour here to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. They only gave us 1 hour here which was disappointing. Lots of kangaroos to feed and pet. But lots of other Australian wildlife. This place isi great and no one wanted to leave. Then we went to historic town of Richmond....no tour...just dropped us off the bus and gave us an hour to walk around. Town was boring...even the shopping wasn’t very good. My big purchase there was a Red Bull to keep me awake. Once back to Hobart, we walked over the city. REally cute quaint city...in particular the trendy area of Salamanca....beautiful old buildings turned in to cool restaurants and shops...loved it. DISEMBARKATION ...super easy and quick....took the ship arranged bus to Sydney airport for flight home. We had an amazing vacation and loved our trip, our time together, the food , the amazing new friends I met on the ship...just wish it had been on a beautiful ship where I felt more upscale and special. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
For the itinerary of southern Australia, which was great. However, we felt Holland is not as good as in past cruises. The main complaint is Dining Room (We used anytime) menu which is so limited and quit frankly other then the beef not ... Read More
For the itinerary of southern Australia, which was great. However, we felt Holland is not as good as in past cruises. The main complaint is Dining Room (We used anytime) menu which is so limited and quit frankly other then the beef not really good. Vegetables all cooked to death and hardly any green ones, like broccoli, green beans, etc. and you didn't even get more then 5 string beans or 3 halves of brusell sprouts. I know it is not quantity, but vegetables are good for you and go with a meal of meat. Pastas at lunch quite good but not offered each night in dining room. The daily offerings need to have shrimp cocktail back on it , many nights I went without appetizer, as nothing was to my liking. The service has not been as good as in past, like a shortage of help. Wine stewards slow in getting to tables. Room and Cabin Stewards no complaints in fact some of the best we have had. Casino was good and so was most of the entertainment. Holland needs also to get with the Wifi service and offer it at better pricing or as a perk for booking. And work on those menus. Acutally Lido meals were better then dining room offerings. I am a 4 star but will look to become that on another line that offers better food and perks for bookings. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We choose HAL because we liked the Itinerary, as it was our first cruise to New Zealand and Australia. It was also our first time on HAL. The food on the Noordam was excellent, with a lot of variety, great presentation. We enjoyed all ... Read More
We choose HAL because we liked the Itinerary, as it was our first cruise to New Zealand and Australia. It was also our first time on HAL. The food on the Noordam was excellent, with a lot of variety, great presentation. We enjoyed all food areas the buffet was great, The Pinnacale was fantastic. The ship is an older ship as other reviewers indicated the staff does a great job keeping it clean and looking good...however, it needs to be refurbished. We enjoyed the captain and felt he Had a great sense of humor, was always reminding cruisers to wash there hands and kept safety at the for front! One of our favorite bartendars was Jude and he works up at The Sea Pool Bar, he always has a smile on his face, remembers everyones name and what they like to drink. We found all the staff on the ship to be happy and ready ro assist. Most of the staff has been with HAL for years, which says a lot about the cruise line. We found the entertainment lacking on the ships in compairson to other cruise lines, the casino was very dissapointing with regards to the variety of slot machines. On other cruise lines, we have found a lot to do and activites that go all day and evening...on HAL we were sometimes bored, maybe it is the average age group on the ship? However, we just didnt find alot of activities that appealed to us...the most excitement was either in The Paino Bar or in the BB King Lounge...however, you odnt want to go there for 15 nights straight. We will try HAL again, but would like to be on a newer ship and with more activities. Shore Excurisons are very expensive on HAL so we used outside companies while in port and can highly recomend Viator and Zealanider Tours. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze. Read Less
Noordam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.8
Family 2.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.6
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 3.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.3

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