How is the Noordam?

K

KimberleyFLA

Guest
#1
DH and I are looking at itineraries (all cruiselines) for a spring cruise and the Noordam has a very impressive 14 day itinerary RT from Tampa.

Has anyone sailed on her? How is the food and service? It is an old ship, how is she holding up these days? Does she have a fairly large casino? Since this is a 14 day cruise, I also would like to know if she has laundry facilities or services.

Any information you have on the Noordam will be helpful. Thanks
 
C

cruzman

Guest
#2
Check with Sail7Seas, she has sailed on the ship. I recall her saying that it was not her favorite ship because it has no balconies. This ship is doing a 16 dayer from Mobile in January also; wonderful itinerary.
 
J

Jacque

Guest
#3
We just returned from the Baltic on the Noordam.

I'll start by saying we had a wonderful trip. This was our 6th cruise and our 1st on HAL. We have previously cruised on Princess, Cunard and American Hawaii.

Check-in was a breeze. They were very organized.

The Noordam is old and past its prime. It does have a bad vibration problem and we were without hot water one day. We knew all this before we booked and the above did not bother us (the cold shower was a shocker). The Noordam offered the itinerary we wanted and the price was reasonable. I would not recommend the Noordam for anyone wanting an opulent cruise expierence.

Our standard cabin and closet space was adequate. Our cabin steward was one of the best we have ever had. The walls are so thin. We could hear the people on either side.

All the crew members were very courteous and friendly except the activities/tour staff (I will address that later).

We did enjoy the flower arrangements in the public areas.

We were traveling with another couple and had requested that we sit together. This had not been arranged. We were asked by the matre'd to wait until the second night to have the problem resolved. After insisting, he did accomodate us on the first night.

The quality of the food in the dining vaired. Appetizers and entrees were very good. Soups and salads were mostly awful. We had one decent salad during the 10 day cruise. The lobster bisque soup tasted spoiled. Many of the hot soups were luke warm at best. The cold soups were somewhat better. Desserts were very good (except the baked Alaska).

The service in the dining room was the worst we have ever had. We were at a table of 8 for 2nd seating. Normally our appetizers were delivered at the same time. After that, we waited an excessively long time for everyone to have their subsequent courses. Some members would get the next course some wouldn't. This meant that some sat there looking at their food waiting for everyone to get their food. Desserts was normally served at the same time. I have no problem waiting for courses to be served, but I do feel everyone at the table should receive their next course at the same time.

Water glasses were frequently unfilled. Our waiter and bus boy were working as fast as they could but they didn't have enough wait staff! The bus boy was helping three waiters.

We did purchse a wine package and our wine steward was excellent! The selection was nice.

We ate in the dining room for breakfast only twice.
(well only 1 1/2 times). After 30 minutes of waiting for our eggs and staring at empty coffee cups, we decided to go to the Lido for breakfast the second time.

The Lido for breakfast was good. You can order fried eggs and omelets but we did miss having the special omelets cooked with flare on deck as we have had on other cruises. The Noordam Lido was more like a "Luby's Cafeteria".

We were off the ship for lunch every day but one. That day we ate on the Lido and the bread pudding was excellent!

We went to afternoon tea twice. It was a tea bag short of a formal tea and not worth the effort. The Lido was a better choice for an afternoon snack. The 4:00pm chocolate chip cookie was delicious and we did frequent the ice cream bar. The other desserts on the Lido were mostly tasteless. They always looked a mess.

They did have one midnight chocolate extravaganza and there was food available late at light, but they did not actually have midnight buffets. At least not like the midnight buffets we have had on other curise lines.

Entertainment was ????? The dancers/singers were very good and their costumes were outstanding, but their material was sooooooooo outdated. Two nights the band played "big band" music. We skipped those nights as did most of the other pax.
The magician and pianist were quite good. The comedian was awful. I couldn't suffer thru it.
As others have mentioned, unless you get a front row table you can't see well.

There really weren't a lot of activites to choose from unless you like bingo. I really got sick of seeing the "art" auction pieces cluttering every empty space.

The Crow's nest was the best place to have a drink and watch the sun set! The waiters were the best.

Frequently we walked on deck in the evenings after dinner or after the show. It was practically deserted.

The thing that distressed us most about HAL is the way they treat people who don't book HAL tours.
Our first expierience was on docking in St. Petersburg. We had arranged for a private tour with Red October tour company. Luckly, Red October had warned us about this and told us what to do if it happened. The ship was to dock at 7:00am. Our group of 10 lined up at 6:40am in order to clear customs and get an early start on our tour. There were some problems docking and we were not cleared to leave the ship until 7:20am. Debbie(tour staff) came to the disembarcation area and asked us if we were on a tour. We told her we had a private tour arranged. She then told us we would have to wait until all the HAL tour groups were off the ship. We told her were in line to get off and we weren't waiting. She insited the HAL groups go first. When we said we we had been waiting since 6:40 the Security Captain said "well mam, I've been up since 5:00am". I felt like saying.....well sir, I'm not try to keep you on this ship! We didn't wait for the HAL groups we just left the ship.

The second time this happened we were in line to get off and the tour director told the HAL group to break in line to get off. We had to refuse to get out of the way in order to get off.

Again in Kalmar when we had to tender in, we waited for our tender tickets and had to hassel the HAL staff to get our tender ticket (there was no one else asking for tickets so finally they gave us the tickets). We were in tender #1. I was meeting a friend from Kalmar and it was important to spend as much time as possible with her. While we waiting to board our tender, we were hassled again by another HAL staffer about getting our tender....."since we weren't on a HAL tour".

Our port days were terriffic in spite of HAL.

I would not sail again on the Noordam. It would be worth it to spend a little more and enjoy some of the extras that she did not offer!
 
J

Jacque

Guest
#4
Kimberly,
Reread your post and realized I gave you my review & didn't address 2 of your questions.

The casino is small. The laundry facility is excellent. They have free washers and dryers. They also offer bulk pressing and/or cleaning @ a very reasonable price.
 
S

sail7seas

Guest
#5
Our very first HAL cruise, many years ago, was on Noordam. We knew immediately upon boarding that we loved HAL as a cruiseline....also knew very soon after boarding, that we did NOT love Noordam.

I know that she has a number of HAL repeaters who are loyal to this ship but IMO....the reason HAL offers such great itineraries on her for such low prices is that is the only way they can get people to book it. There's a reason they are selling great itineraries at so low a price.

If you are well aware of what to expect; are cognizant that she is an old ship and can roll with air conditioning problems, sporadic plumbing problems; vibration on ship; reportedly less than HAL's normally fabulous service etc etc....then you may wish to consider booking her. I would not.

(Are they using Noordam to train new dining staff??)
 
R

rocster

Guest
#6
That is a shame she is having so many problems. My first cruise was on the Noordam, back in 1996, she and her sister ship Nieuw Amsterdam have the same vibration problem and have had it since they were new. (according to several crew members) But the food on that cruise was the best of any cruise I have been on since. THe service unmatched and the comedian, the best I have seen on a ship. I must have just been lucky. I do recall on my final morning the shower drain backed up.
But I do have to agree, I tend to shy away from the older ships these days. I'll be on the Veendam this November for the second time, and she and the (former)Westerdam are the oldest I've been on since.
I hope the Veendam keeps me as a HAL fan.
 
M

MortgageChick

Guest
#7
If I was treated the way the above writer indicates while trying to disembark for a private tour, not only would I refuse to move, I would lodge a formal complaint, demand an apology and some sort of compensation.

We are booked on the Rotterdam for June 28th and I sincerely hope I do not encounter this behavior from the crew, for HAL's sake they had better hope so too. Cruislines who look down on you for not booking their extemely overpriced tours , enrage me. I am smarter than that! If they want the tours off first they should tell those on the tours to be in line at 6am!!!!
 
B

Brewster

Guest
#8
HI,
We took the same cruise last year and enjoy the trip, however I do agree with everyone else when they say that this ship is past it's prime. I know it was a beautiful ship when it was deliever in 1984 but now it's considered pretty dated. The itenary is very much port oriented and I personally felt we could have spent a few more days at sea, after 9 port in 9 days you have a tendenancy to feel like all of the islands are the same. We did have one horrible experience with a disembarkation procedure in Tampa that took about 3 hours, it was well after 9:15 before anyone was able to leave the ship.
Good Luck