3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Having cruised with a number of different lines over the years we chose our first Holland America cruise recently because of the destinations it was going to in the South Pacific. After having been on the ‘geriatric express’ that is ... Read More
Having cruised with a number of different lines over the years we chose our first Holland America cruise recently because of the destinations it was going to in the South Pacific. After having been on the ‘geriatric express’ that is Princess Cruises (because it was going o PNG) we were a little apprehensive but told that HAL appealed to the more discerning traveller wishing to ‘experience’ fine cuisine and luxury. Interesting. We quickly noted that quite a number of the patrons did seem to be from that precious, tedious class of human beings. A mix of many races and languages with a fair few Americans. Everything on board was very much geared to American tastes and interests. (We ran a little private contest to spot somebody smiling - it took 3 days.) Example: in the middle of the hot Pacific Islands there was an inordinate number trooping off to the Dining Room all decked out in suits or tuxedos and finery. As a person who has spent his whole life wearing suits I sure don’t want to put one on while on holidays in the steamy Pacific. Despite it being school holidays there was only a sprinkling of children on board and they seemed all quiet and well behaved. Cuisine - dull to bad, repetitive with some really awful/silly concoctions. Every night meat and vegetables. Tricked up cafe level food. Very limited selection and in the buffet no self-serve. Instead a ridiculous system whereby you have to lineup (something akin to Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi), state (very quickly) what you want, (having just seen it), be served and step away. The queues grew long and people became very testy. A stupid, demeaning and inefficient system. HAL seem to be trying too hard. They produced numerous attempts at various cuisines but the result was amateurish and generally overcooked. Interestingly we noticed that only about 50% of diners washed their hands when entering. We had booked a transfer to the ship via HAL. When we arrived at the pickup point for the coach, as per instructions, there was nobody there and no coach. We searched everywhere in case we had missed something. Sometime later, back at the original pickup point, a confused mini van driver arrived and asked who we were. Apparently the coach had been cancelled and we’d somehow fallen through the cracks. No apology. Eventually, days later somebody noted the ‘inconvenience’. Incidentally we could have taken a local transfer coach for a third of HAL’s charge. Which brings us to the prices on HAL. All cruise ships tend to rip you off. You’re a captive audience. HAL have the highest prices we have yet seen. Virtually everything from yoga to meditation classes involved a fee. To add insult they place a 15% service charge on their prices at purchase. We also had a few cases of wrong items appearing on our account. Then of course there’s the gratuities where the ships adds $16 per person per day to your account. HAL operates in US dollars so for Australians by the time you add on their service charge and convert to $A and include the card fee we’re paying 50%-60% more for everything. NB Most of the ship’s photos went unsold because of the high prices. In search of a positive about the ship I can quote one that happened by default. The lifts were great and there was no waiting time. This is because there was often nobody about. At times during the evening you could walk through the ship and not see anybody. We are not party animals but what the thousands of passengers were doing I don’t know. Seeking any sort of fun or enjoyment was not for them. The ship had the atmosphere of a well furnished, funeral parlour. There was a venue called BB Kings Blues Club. Probably connected to the BBK franchise in the US. Great I thought. I really like blues. The band looked the part. Their music was tight and slick but in a Michael Jackson sort of way. The music certainly was not blues. No hint of a BBK tribute, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters et al They played everything but - middle of the road elevator music, motown, rock and roll, some great jazzy r & b instrumentals but over two weeks never any blues. Seemed kind of pointless. The onboard cafe with complimentary coffee, tea and snacks which is such a nice feature of Royal Caribbean ships and somewhere pleasant to sit was in this case a multi-purpose games room, library, internet venue with coffee priced higher than downtown Sydney. The shows in the main theatre were mostly lifeless. With a very basic ship’s orchestra struggling along. The daily fair consisted of things like flower arranging or scrabble tournaments. There was string quartet playing Vivaldi, Brahms, Schumann etc. Being familiar with most of their repertoire I can only say that their standard of playing was not particularly good. I stayed away. We met people who were HAL groupies. They all seemed to be nouveau riche types who felt life should be quiet, erudite and dignified. A lot of it appeared a charade on their part. All cruise lines have there good and bad points. It’s just that with HAL it was 60% negative. At least the ship’s decor was in general pleasing to the eye (with some weird exceptions). Not the God-awful hideous stuff you find on say Carnival ships. The staff were all obsequiously pleasant. The crew not so much. HAL with its dubious quest for genteel travel may suit some people but we will continue to seek a happy medium between loud and vulgar and the HAL ‘experience’. Final Note: HAL sent out a questionnaire after the cruise to ascertain passengers degree of satisfaction or otherwise with the HAL ‘experience’. (Why do we have ‘experience’ everything now. You eat meals you don’t experience them, you sleep on a bed you don’t experience it ….. ) Anyway, I thought okay, I’ll give them a fair hearing, as they were keen to get feedback. The online questionnaire crashed twice. That’s when I gave up. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We have been on many cruises before this one and by far this was our worst cruise every by a country mile. Embarkation was quick and efficient and on the ship in no time ( which turned out to be the best part of the cruise) The ship ... Read More
We have been on many cruises before this one and by far this was our worst cruise every by a country mile. Embarkation was quick and efficient and on the ship in no time ( which turned out to be the best part of the cruise) The ship is in need of some desperate overhaul as it is looking very old and run down. Their was no sail away party on any deck, only soft music which no one could hear on the back Lido deck. The bar staff on the Lido deck were outstanding and made the cruise a little more enjoyable with their outstanding service. ( maybe other staff members could look at them and learn something) Many thanks to Edwin,Leonard and Ed for their outstanding service. Lido restaurant was very blend with their food night after night. Same food just with different names often Luke warm served on very hot plates. My wife had a good talk with the Lido management one night about having different theme night for dinner EG Asian,Indian,Australian international type dinners. To the managers credit they did do Asian theme for one night only then went back to the old ways. The only entertainment on the back Lido deck was a music trivia every afternoon. A band playing music would have been a lot better. We had nothing but trouble with our cruise accounts being blocked by the front desk day after day, and we weren’t they only ones with this issue Maybe when HAL travel in Australian waters in the future the should accommodate fit the Australian market a bit more as 80% of guests are either AUS or NZ. best advertising in by mouth for any business and myself and my wife and other guests will not be doing any advertising. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
Unfortunately, HAL has gone downhill in our opinion. We haven't cruised with them for a few years due to dates and prices, so were expecting similar experiences that we had before. The ship itself is kept extremely clean and ... Read More
Unfortunately, HAL has gone downhill in our opinion. We haven't cruised with them for a few years due to dates and prices, so were expecting similar experiences that we had before. The ship itself is kept extremely clean and the staff are wonderful. The main issues were the food, entertainment and the Loft (lack of). Firstly, the food in the main dining room for the first few days of the cruises was very uninspiring. It was hard to find something to eat. The food did improve. Cannot fault the wait, wine and front of restaurant staff, they were very friendly and always smiling. The entertainment was very poor, the entertainment that did come on to the ship were very good (in particular Patrick McMahon) but there wasn't enough. In one week they had two guest artists that played individually and then together one night. Also, on two nights they should movies. We don't get the chance to see live entertainment much because of children so in the past the cruise night time entertainment was something to look forward to. There is BB Kings that play 3 times a night. They are good but unfortunately both singers got sick at the end of the cruise so they weren't able to sing and the head office wouldn't let anyone else stand in for them. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
I have just returned from a Vanuatu, New Caledonia 14 day cruise from Sydney returning back to Sydney cruise, and it was fabulous. What fantastic service, what wonderful delicious food served every day! I could not find a thing to complain ... Read More
I have just returned from a Vanuatu, New Caledonia 14 day cruise from Sydney returning back to Sydney cruise, and it was fabulous. What fantastic service, what wonderful delicious food served every day! I could not find a thing to complain about, sure the ship is a little worse for wear, and it can definitely do with a renovation, which I believe is going to happen at the end of 2019, or so I was told, but it is kept spotlessly clean at all times. And nothing is too much trouble for any crew.I loved the Dine-In free of charge cabin service to all cabins, 24 hours a day. I had the best mushroom vegetable omelette with goats cheese on top every morning, it came out hot and delicious. The toast often wasn't but that didn't worry me! Every meal I had, except for one, where the turkey schnitzel was a little dry, but it was replaced immediately. The ship does seem to cater for a more mature clientele, but once again that didn't bother me. I could choose from at least a thousand movies for my cabin DVD player free of charge, you order, a steward delivers and picks it up again, fantastic! Fresh fruit for my basket supplied daily without being asked. Beautiful great quality toiletries suppled as well. As I am not as mobile as I used to be, I cannot say what the actual Islands were like, as I did not get off, but fellow passengers were all impressed on their return. The only complaint I have are the 'compulsory gratuities' that are charged at US$14.50 every day, but in the long run they did deserve this tip and I am accepting of it! It used to be that you could remove it on going to the Service Desk, but I was told that now you must fill in a form to give the reason why you don't wish to pay it! But that is not the ship's fault but HAL! All in all I just loved the ship and can't wait to rebook another one with them Thank you Noordam! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
When we booked the cruise we were unaware that our departure was from the White Bay Cruise Terminal. Only good point was you sail right under the Harbour Bridge. On the back deck when leaving Sydney, the atmosphere was very lack luster, no ... Read More
When we booked the cruise we were unaware that our departure was from the White Bay Cruise Terminal. Only good point was you sail right under the Harbour Bridge. On the back deck when leaving Sydney, the atmosphere was very lack luster, no music to signal the start of the journey, although there were drinks available, you had to guess if they were alcoholic or not. There was no photographer taking photos for international tourists to capture the harbour sights either. The ship is in urgent need of upgrade and looks tired and dated. It is due for a refit towards the end of the year - this is only internal. There were issues with the airconditioner being cold, so they ran the ship on four generators to warm it up and when the swell got bigger, turned the fifth generator back on. When running on the lesser generators they also experienced electrical and power issues. Food in the Lido Market was below par and what was there for lunch appeared at dinner with a different name. We asked what the temperature of the food bays were set at and the reply " I don't know it isn't my area". I had yoghurt for breakfast and could almost pour it into a cup to drink. The desserts were in this same fridge and were never at the correct temperature. The meals from the hot bays were luke warm, the plates on the other hand were extremely hot and at times unsafe to carry back to the table unless you brought your napkin. The serving staff were hit and miss with personality.Our cabin was a verandah and adequate for the two of us and our stewards who cleaned it daily were accommodating and . The entertainment we found to be enjoyable and the people we met also had mixed views about the staff and overall appearance of the ship. We had 4 shore excursions - Port Arthur, Hobart, Adelaide and Kangaroo Island. As these are all in US dollars research if there are companies that provide similar tours that can be booked from Australia to avoid the exchange rates. We enjoyed all our tours and only had one bad experience when in Kangaroo Island. Our 9 hour tour was uncomfortable as the airconditioning on the bus packed in 45 minutes into the tour and there were no other coaches available. The temperature inside the bus got to around 38 degress. The driver attempted to do all he could to make the best out of the situation, but by the end all us passengers couldn't wait to get of the coach and board the ship and get cold drinks. When we complained we were advised we would received a 15%refund that only equated to $60 dollars from a tour that was more than $300 USD. Should have pushed for a full refund. The only port where we felt welcomed was in South Australia were there was a bush band singing at arrivals and volunteers waiting to direct us to the buses, taxis or train to the city. The disembarkation at the ports was well managed and even the days we needed to use the tender boats. As I have used HAL prior, I was looking forward to sharing the experience with my son for his first cruise. Overall, regardless of the flaws mentioned, we had a relaxing time, but next time we cruise, will look at another company to compare the service and atmosphere. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
All ports were good. Cruise Tours were very expensive so we organised our own. Left from White Bay and getting aboard was smooth and easy. Once we departed things were a bit disorganised. On stern pool deck there was a table of drinks but ... Read More
All ports were good. Cruise Tours were very expensive so we organised our own. Left from White Bay and getting aboard was smooth and easy. Once we departed things were a bit disorganised. On stern pool deck there was a table of drinks but no assistance from wait staff as to price/type of cocktail. There was none of the usual atmosphere of departure (same at every port). Only advantage was going under Harbour Bridge. Cabin was fine albeit a pretty small balcony. Whole ship needs a real freshen up/full refurb. Lido lounge food was average. Some hot foods not hot but if asked for fresh cooked steak/fish then this was done (that's the clue!). Breakfast omelette was the best choice. Entertainment was very ordinary. Magician/Comedian was good. movies were on a very small screen and sound ordinary. Cabin staff were excellent. Stern Pool Bar staff were great, especially Troy! This ship seems to cater to older travellers. I'm 58 and there weren't many younger than me. Most people we spoke to were not happy with entertainment, bar times, Lido Market food. The day time food demos were good. Trivia bar quizzes were ok as were bar happy hours (if you could work out where/times). in summary, cabin was very good, quiet. Whole ship was immaculately clean. All Bar staff and some Lido Market staff were excellent. Dining Room was top shelf, staff, ambience and food. Would I travel Noordam again? No.Have travelled Celebrity before and they are chalk and cheese apart. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this as Holland America once had a good reputation for cruises. The dining was very poor quality food with very little choices offered ( no turkey for Christmas day dinner). The ship is very outdated and in dire need of major ... Read More
We chose this as Holland America once had a good reputation for cruises. The dining was very poor quality food with very little choices offered ( no turkey for Christmas day dinner). The ship is very outdated and in dire need of major refurbishment and we found that the balcony in our cabin to be extremely small given the extra cost paid to have one. Only just about enough room for two deck chairs. We found that it compares very badly with its competition eg Celebrity Cruises. Entertainment on board only moderate to fair and very limited. Port and shore excursions were quite good and well organised with an interesting variety. Neither I or my partner would recommend Holland America line for any cruises on the the Noordam unless as stated previously that it improved the quality and choices in its dining room and a full refurbishment of this ship. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Overall Rating - Pacific Isles, Tasman & Bass Srts 1/5 We have completed over 50 cruises including World cruises on Cunard, Celebrity, Princess et al, with another booked in April on Celebrity Solstice. This cruise on the ... Read More
Overall Rating - Pacific Isles, Tasman & Bass Srts 1/5 We have completed over 50 cruises including World cruises on Cunard, Celebrity, Princess et al, with another booked in April on Celebrity Solstice. This cruise on the Noordam has been our worst ever, never to be repeated. I do not enjoy writing a bad review, but this needed to be said, honestly and fairly as it happened. Here is a sampling: ship and verandah room in disrepair (visible rust everywhere, wallpaper peeling, bedding old and uncomfortable), food lackluster (served luke warm, absent seasoning in Lido and Main), evident influenza epidemic, but only a warning issued of “Seasonal Flu” at the end of 1st segment). We cannot help but believe that this cruise cut corners at every level. It was short on entertainment (except for Noordam singers & dancers), food quality (except for Canaletto), things to do, dilapidation of the ship (rusting in every corner). Frankly, there is too much competition and too may choices of better cruise lines, and we have sailed with many. Further, the Australia routes are gouged price wise compared to USA and European routes, but then again, Australia is gouged at every level anyway as an easy unsuspecting target. Stateroom Location #8134 AFT: 1/5 What a terrible mistake we made through our Agent. The Navigation deck AFT is right below the pool deck area. Constant moving of chairs beginning at 5.30am every day and picking up around mid morning and mid afternoon. Also the room is too small, making it difficult to navigate. Barely room to walk past the bed! The deck is so small it does not serve any useful purpose., so it went unused. Our previous cruise on the Noordam we had a Neptune Suite. Finally, refuse from the above pool deck collects on the small balcony! The TV is located to the right of the balcony sliding doors, where you need to be a contortionist to see it! Conclusion: Be prepared to pay the significantly extra cost for a Neptune or Mini Suite, otherwise pass on the Noordam. We will pass anyway. Too many other choices of great cruise lines. Ship Quality: 1/5 Sorry, this ship is very much in need of a complete renovation. The ship was already tired during our last voyage, 2 years ago. and it is worse on this cruise. The only reason for taking this cruise again was a decision to take a cruise over the Xmas/NY Season. Rust and corrosion everywhere, dingy carpeting, peeling wallpaper. Conclusion: This ship has not been maintained. We did not see one person painting rust during the 2 segments. During our quarantine for illness for 5 days, the balcony wash washed down very briefly and poorly once, insufficient to remove the debris collected from the above pool deck! We suggest waiting until the renovation takes place if you are considering the Noordam! Health & Influenza: 1/5 We encountered several passengers who were down with either the gastro infections, the flu or the Influenza virus. We took every precaution to avoid it, unsuccessfully. There had been no alert issued by the Noordam. Notwithstanding taking every precaution to avoid infection, I first contracted gastro infection, then my wife came down with the flu, then I came down with influenza, which was horrible, quarantined to the cabin for 5 days. There was neither any mention nor WARNING of these pervasive infections from Noordam until the last day of the 1st segment to be aware of “Seasonal Flu”. Evidently Noordam management opted to put their head in the sand, and let the passengers fend for themselves! It seems the preference is to raise no alert! Restaurants: 2/5 Canaletto (Service and Food) – Syarif & attendants great servce 5/5 Pinnacle Grill (Service Excellent, food very good) – Stephen and Wohan great service 5/5 Main (Gilroy tries hard but all other Service fair, food poor) 1/5 Lido (no trays available, table service very good, ) Food station service poor, food poor) 1/5 Kyrisha @ Pasta Station has consistently poor attitude, having observed her rudeness with passengers over the course of the Cruise. If you prefer hot food, you will need to pay extra at the Canaletto or the Pinnacle. We had food delivered to the room several times from the Canaletto and the Pinnacle, but it would arrive warm or cold. Entertainment: average at best 2/5 Noordam singers and Dancers 5/5 Other entertainment (Comedians, Magicians etc) 1/5 Cruise Director 1/5 Constant barrage of announcements made by Jae, Cruise Director,who likes to hear himself over the speaker morning noon and night, with little tangible effort beyond that. Spoke directly with the Jae on New Years Eve, questioning why there were no chairs provided on the Lido deck. He responded in an insolent, rude and undignified manner, and laid the blame squarely on a decision and directive made by Home Office that no chairs should be provided. If this is true, and if this is the level of Head Office involvement on the Noordam, what is the need for Jae? Both my wife and I agreed that this must have been a decision taken on the Noordam, with Jae shifting blame for a stupid decision, and an unwillingness to take any responsibility for a stupid decision. Then, for the final stage performance by the Noordam Singers and Dancers, with all passengers having been kept waiting15 minutes past start time, Jae, Cruise Director, arrived on stage as though all is great, asking how everyone is enjoying the cruise, only to announce that due to audio problems, the show has been cancelled. This is clearly Jae’s responsibility to ensure all systems are a go, where audio etc should be validated well prior to the performance. This is yet another example of the ineptness, with no admission of responsibility nor apology. We have been on many cruises where the Cruise Director steps up when needed. Not in this case. Guest Services: Request to move to a Suite 2/5 We spoke with Guest Services at the start of our cruise on the 1st segment, requesting to move from #8134. A Neptune Suite was available. We were quoted an extra US$4,000 for the upgrade on the 1st segment only, with no guarantee on the 2nd segment, or where we would be located! We offered US$2,500 given the move and the uncertainty for the 2nd segment. Guest Services countered with their final offer of US$3,500. We passed. We requested an upgrade to a mini suite on the 2nd segment. After two calls to follow up with guest services, being informed they were checking with Corporate, and in the middle of the 2nd segment without a response, we contacted guest services a 3rd time asking why they had not extended the courtesy of a response. They were failed to provide any reasonable response, simply apologizing profusely. Festivities: 2/5 Christmas Eve & Day Celebrations – very basic 2/5 New Year Eve Celebration 2/5 Both celebrations missed the mark by a long shot. Nothing special or memorable offered. NYE celebrations were held on the Lido decks, with windy conditions outside, and NO CHAIRS provided inside. Room Service 2/5 Since we were ill and isolated in our cabin, we were required to order room service. The order taking over the telephone resulted in incorrect deliveries, cold food, one very late delivery on the Canaletto, with totally COLD food (where it had been sitting for some time), or missing items. On one occasion room service called us to see if we enjoyed our meal. We responded we were still waiting for it to be delivered. Embarkation Sydney: 5/5 Fast check in, went smoothly. Bags arrived at Stateroom before us! Suggestion: arrive at port around 2pm after the crowd for easy no hassle check in. Disembarkation Ports & Tenders: 5/5 Few wait lines, efficiently handled Ports of Call: 3/5 1st Segment: Mostly Island beaches and sparsely populated. You need to like beaches and seclusion with few things to do. The French in New Caledonia were neither warm nor friendly, living up to the French reputation. Non French Islanders were warm and receptive, appreciative of the Tourist Dollars. The Noordam failed to deliver nightly information in advance of ports of call, which is a first! The weather was mixed and unpredictable. 2nd segment: limited with Port Arthur (a must see for Australia history), Auckland, Adelaide, and Kangaroo Island, collectively difficult to justify. Spa Thermal Pool 3/5 Upon boarding the Noordam we visited the Spa to sign up for the Hydra pool package, only to be told they were sold out! We enjoyed this on our prior cruise on the Noordam. We were able to sign up on port days in the afternoons. We were able to sign up for the package on the 2nd segment, but since we came down with influenza, we had to cancel. The package is definitely worth it, as it is one of the few things worthy on the Noordam. Spa Hairdresser 5/5 Sally gave cuts and styling to both my wife and self. Sally was very professional and gave great cuts and styles. Stores on board: 2/5 General items are sparse. Purchased needed items at port visits. Internet 1/5 Signed up for the package with full access excluding video. The Internet Is VERY SLOW, and often kicked me off the Internet entirely, or unable to connect. It was Impossible to search on the Web. Its only use was emails & basics, if you can connect! This Internet Service is in serious need of an upgrade, comparable with the Internet connections available on more advanced liners Reception: 5/5 Responsive.. Standout is “Roma”. Be prepared for long lines. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was my fifth cruise. First time with HAL. Booked at last minute due to price and itinerary. Booked a guarantee VH verandah cabin and received a VC cabin on deck 5. Very happy with cabin. Loved that the cabin came with full ... Read More
This was my fifth cruise. First time with HAL. Booked at last minute due to price and itinerary. Booked a guarantee VH verandah cabin and received a VC cabin on deck 5. Very happy with cabin. Loved that the cabin came with full length bathrobes and Ellis products and bar fridge that actually worked. Bed very comfy and stewards worked hard to keep cabin spotless. Aircon worked well. Had early dinner most nights in MDR. Food was tasty and hot and service was exemplary from all staff. Had breakfast in the MDR twice. Food was great but service was not on first visit. 2nd time it was much better. Lido deck buffet had lots of healthy options which was great. Often took my food out to the tables next to the lido deck pool as I found the aircon in the buffet area too cool. Service in lido buffet was always friendly and efficient. I didn't go to many of the shows but I went to all the informative talks in the vista lounge on subjects related to the areas we were cruising. War History in PNG, Sociology in the Pacific, talk from a reef pilot. All very interesting. Some parts of the ship were cold from the aircon especially midship and the vista lounge. Make sure you pack a light throw or some similar. Average age was 60 upwards. I am a decade younger and had a lovely time. Everyone was friendly. There was only about a dozen kids on board. They seemed to be having fun in the pool. I did a spin class in the gym and was impressed. Great instructor and equipment. I didn't use the pool much as it was too warm. 30c most days. Felt more like a warm bath. $20 bag of laundry was excellent value. Came back next day. I liked the feel of this ship. With 1900 passengers it never felt crowded. Tenders ran smoothly and there was never much of a wait. We visited PNG and FNQ. All ports were interesting. Pre-booked quite a few ship tours. Also did a private tour and explored on my own or with friends met on board. All went smoothly. Apart from the pool, I have no complaints and would book the Noordam again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Background and embarkation We chose this cruise as we had been to New Guinea only once and the ports appeared interesting. and it has been on our list for some time. The other reason for choosing this cruise being to experience the ... Read More
Background and embarkation We chose this cruise as we had been to New Guinea only once and the ports appeared interesting. and it has been on our list for some time. The other reason for choosing this cruise being to experience the Noordam, we had previously cruised on her sister ship “Oosterdam”, a ship we were quite fond of, so we were eager to revisit this class of HAL ship again. We stayed overnight in Sydney at Novotel Darling Harbour Square, we are Accor members and we received a great online deal from them, so we duly chose to stay there at an excellent tariff. We managed to score a newly renovated room with a view of the Chinese Gardens, quite a large room, with a comfortable bed and firm pillow, all the mod cons, friendly staff, we would stay again. Next morning, we were able to walk up to the Captain Cook wharf in Darling Harbour, buy tickets and we were ferried over to White Bay. HAL had hired a bus to drop people off and pick people up at the ferry wharf, very thoughtful indeed HAL. There were two ships at White Bay that day, HAL Noordam at the terminal, and P&O Explorer (previously Dawn Princess) tied up nearer the ferry wharf with a large marquee set up to disembark and embark passengers. We are 3-star mariners with HAL, after the suite, 4- and 5-star mariners registered for embarkation we were next to provide all our details to terminal staff to embark. 15 minutes later we were on the ship and in our room. We had ordered some drinks for our consumption in the room, not all had arrived as ordered, after a call to room service, not even 10 minutes late the drinks arrived. My wife’s bag arrived in the interim, however, not mine. My wife unpacked and after an hour and a half later I heard someone drop something near our door, I quickly opened the door to see someone scurrying down the corridor after they had dropped my bag off with the top handle hanging off one end, and one wheel broken. I took some pictures for evidence, that were date stamped, and a few days later took the bag down to Guest Services. Young Jay took down all the details in an incident reports after I showed him the pictures and brought the bag down. He said they would fix it if possible, and bring the bag back to us in a few days. He did just that, the bag appeared to be fixed, however, I did warn him that if a wheels and handles are broken, 99% of the time they will break again. After we disembarked, we claimed our bags, and my bag had a wheel broken, it was reported to the terminal staff and a report was alleged to be sent to HAL for compensation, to date (7-1-2019) we have had no communication from HAL at all in relation to the broken bag!! Ship information The ship is not new obviously, however, the ship has been kept in very good condition overall, the artefacts are excellent, the public areas are spacious overall, with many separate areas to be seated. It felt like an ocean liner, not a cruise ship, don’t alter it too much HAL, many people still like this type of ship as it stands/sails. Well done HAL, the public areas are clean and well maintained, the restaurants were in good condition, and the external condition of the ship and teak decks were good. Teak chairs on the promenade deck are still intact, another big tick for HAL. The library is huge, excellent choice of books, coffee shop seating is very limited, perhaps they can enlarge the seating area, and shrink the library by 10 square metres. Crows Nest at front of the ship on deck 10 is magic, don’t change it HAL, it is a fantastic area, with a breathtaking view. Activities The activities were various as they are on other lines, we attended several lectures about what had occurred in WW2 in New Guinea, they were very informative and interesting. We didn’t attend trivia this time, so not sure how good it was on this ship. However, there seemed to be a large varied of activities each day outlined on the daily program. Service Main negative was the relatively ordinary service of our two cabin stewards. There were no cards with their names in the room, until the last 4 days, after we gave them 3 chances to redeem themselves. One of them introduced himself the next day, and said he had a partner helping him with cleaning and maintaining the room. This man appeared to be invisible until he introduced himself 3 days later. They made the bed every morning, and cleaned the bathroom, turned the bed down in the evening, and provide towel animals and 2 chocolates every night. We left notes on at least 4 occasions to vacuum the floor, provide soap, as we had 2 sinks, a bath and a shower, and replace moisturiser, baths salts, shower cap, and clean the bench tops in main cabin area. With 4 days to go to the end of the cruise we were over it, we complained to guest services, this was cruise number 44, and these men were seriously the worst ever, and we were in a suite, they are supposed to be the best staff who would have been promoted, well not these guys. There were several rooms vacant on this cruise that they did not have to service, we think they were very lazy indeed. Most people that were in their service area were interviewed it would appear by the assistant Head Housekeeper and his offsider. They spoke to us about the problems around midday. We informed them that our room would normally not have been serviced by then, although in the defence of the room stewards; they serviced our room the second and third days when we left the service our room card in the door key slot outside. We did that every day, in the morning and in the evening when we went to dinner. On more than one occasion we told them that we were leaving the room and could they service it while we were away, that didn’t occur on the majority of occasions, sometimes it wasn’t serviced until after 1 pm, and after 9 pm several times when we returned from dinner. Service improved last 3 days after we had complained, one of them apologised, however, only on one occasion did he call me by name, he did not call my wife by name at any stage, nor did the other steward call me by name of my wife, this was the first time in 44 cruises that this had occurred. It would appear from the slack and poor service most of the cruise that they did not respect us, as we always used their name each time, we spoke to them, however, that was not reciprocal from them, and it would appear they thought they would “get away with it’ not cleaning the room properly each time, or at all on some occasions. Lastly, our balcony was filthy dirty for the first 4 days, when we left notes on day 4 to vacuum, we also asked them to clean the balcony, they did on that occasion. However, they slacked off again one day later, so we left notes every day for jobs to be done, to leave a shower cap, moisturiser, whatever, actually they received 6,7, 8 chances, strike 9 you are out!! Well on the band wagon and back to other staff, client services staff overall were good on this cruise, on Zaandam in late January, February 2018 in South America and Antarctica they were extremely rude and not accommodating with just about everything. That was sorted, when we received an apologetic email from the CEO’s executive assistant some weeks after we came home, we were impressed with that. It was refreshing to see both female and male staff on the counter at guest services, Zaandam were all female and they weren’t being managed well, so rude to many of the passengers they thought they would not be challenged, well they were wrong. Jay was a standout, he was extremely polite and very helpful and knowledgeable on every occasion, as was two other males who we spoke to, and two females. Only one downside, one female who we submitted a form with, it would appear did not submit the form for entry in the computer. We checked on the last night with a male staff member and he stated they had no record if it, then he entered the information manually. On the whole they actually solved problems, were not over assertive, or aggressive, as some others were on Zaandam, they do not try to dismiss your problem, and hope you go away! Restaurant staff were really quite good, standout was Dani, one of the men at the door who allocated tables, every night he tried his best to meet our needs, well done Dani. We ate lunch in the restaurant on several occasions and had breakfast twice in the restaurant, it was easier to eat in the Lido, as we walk every morning, and restaurant opening times did not suit. We were very impressed with Luis, the Bar and Restaurant Manager, he spoke with us on two occasions, he is very professional and “hands on”, a breath of fresh air to HAL, we know he had extensive experience with several cruise lines in a similar role, this man innovative, opened the restaurant for lunch on a port day, loved it, he is visible in the restaurant on almost every night, be speaks to staff on the run discreetly, he is the best we have seen in the last 10 years on any cruise line, keep this man and ask him to train many like him, he is the best! Farid, and many other waiters were good, and others were improving throughout the cruise thanks to Luis coaching and mentoring them. Staff in Lido, both cooks, chefs, food servers and wait staff were nearly always very helpful, courteous, and went out of their way to assist people, serve drinks, coffee, and tea, well done people! Nica, was a standout for me, she went down to the galley to find breakfast cereal for us, as they had run out of the cereal we like with fibre, she was fantastic. Food in the Lido, was very good, huge improvement from MSC Divina, food was bland, cold, and very little variety. Not on HAL so much variety, so many stations where food is cooked fresh, Asian/Indian food in Lido is outstanding at lunch on most days. Officers seemed friendly, and noticeable around the ship. Engineering and maintenance staff appeared to be were always working hard to maintain the ship, well done! Bar stewards in restaurant and Lido were overall really good, Liany, Jeycel, Kurt, who served us mainly, were really knowledgeable, friendly, and on the ball, well done people! Overall, apart from a few the majority of HAL staff on Noordam are quite good. Just a suggestion to HAL, we have found room stewards from the Philippines to be the best, very friendly, courteous, respectful, very efficient and effective in their roles. Port & shore excursions We enjoyed the excursion in Airlie Beach to the Crocodile Safari, Proserpine River. Very informative, educational, adventurous, great BBQ lunch, we would recommend it. Cabin We booked a balcony cabin originally, however the cruise was heavily discounted by HAL a few months prior to leaving, out travel agent asked HAL for an upgrade and we received an upgrade to a signature suite. Cabin was very large as was the balcony, overall it was in good condition. Large lounge, two large comfortable chairs, very small older TV, bed was very comfortable, pillows could have been firmer, however ok. Bathroom is little dated, however, was in good condition. Cabin had a bath and a shower, horrible shower curtain, please HAL invest in a safety glass shower door, similar to HAL Koningsdam, best shower and bathroom on the seas, to date! Balcony was very dirty, was cleaned after we complained on day 4 why had they not cleaned it, they put cushions out each day, surely, they noticed. Balcony when finally, cleaned and habitable, was really large, included a table and two chairs and two large cane chairs, large cane foot stools, and a small table for drinks. Dining Due largely to the new Bar and Restaurant Manager, Luis, the staff in the restaurant, in Lido, and bar staff were very good. Breakfast menu in the restaurant is comprehensive, very good, food quality is good, and meals are warm to hot. Lunch variety in the menus are limited, however, on the several occasions we went to lunch in the restaurant we found the food to be of good quality, and worth the decision to attend. Lunch on a port day was a great innovation, need to advertise it more, moist people didn’t notice it was open. HAL please open the restaurant at lunch longer than one-hour midday to 1 pm, most people eat between 12.30 pm and 2 pm, be a bit more flexible! We attended the main restaurant for dinner every night. The variety and quality of the food was very good, I was very pleased to see surf and turf on the last formal night menu, thanks HAL don’t take it off the menu, it was a very tasty meal indeed! Best barramundi I have eaten on any ship, coated in crushed macadamia nuts, with excellent accompaniments, wow! Lido food for breakfast is very good, smoked salmon is presented beautifully, and is delicious with freshly cooked eggs, or omelettes, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, English bacon etc, well done HAL Noordam. Good variety of breakfast cereal, Aussie milk and yoghurts, fresh fruit, pancakes, it is fantastic, more seating on some days as peak time is sometimes a problem, anyway, not insurmountable. Lunch in Lido had freshly made Asian and Indian food, different menu each day, in our opinion, it is the best fresh served food on any ship anywhere in the world, it is delicious, hot and the food service is fast and vey efficient. Pasta station is also very good, mainly fresh food and tasty, pizza is tasty, however, could HAL have a special pizza every day, for variety and the taste buds please. Turkey, sandwiches, potato chips, salads, desserts, and beautiful ice cream every day is a delight, we loved Lido food. Dinner was not as good, variety not quite up to normal standards, we didn’t eat dinner thee, however we looked each night to see what was available. However, improve dinner variety and Lido will be best buffet at sea! We like the Dive In burgers and chips, and the Mexican food, if kept away from the heat, and insects. The burgers were better on Zaandam, perhaps the cooks were better, our burgers were overcooked, otherwise tasted ok. Entertainment Most guest entertainers that we managed to see were good. The ship entertainment group had some very good singers amongst them, we watched one show, it was very entertaining. The BBC wildlife video accompanied by the orchestra and violins was magnificent. Lincoln stage was reported to be magic, we weren’t able to reach the performance on time as we had dinner, shame, we hear it was well worth it. Disembarkation No problem, we waited for our allotted number and colour and disembarked, found our bags. My bag had a wheel broken, again, as I indicated earlier in this report, we reported it to terminal staff, incident report sent to HAL, HAL yet to respond. Summary Apart cabin staff issues that didn’t end well for them, we had a very enjoyable time. The ship was in reasonable condition, great artefacts and venues, many of the dining staff and the food quality in restaurant and Lido venues and the menus won the day overall for us. We will return to HAL again we booked a cruise in January on Noordam, so here we go again! One major issue for HAL, Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity have service/gratuities included in their cruise costs, don’t add them on every day, they are in $US dollars and it takes the shine off everyone’s’ holiday experience. Alcoholic beverages are outrageously priced, all cruise lines buy these beverages at less than duty free prices. Sure, you need to make a profit, not a killing on beverages, provide reasonable prices onboard, and reduce the prices of all drinks please. Read Less
Noordam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.1
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 4.4
Value For Money 3.0 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.3

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