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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this cruise because we wanted to have Christmas and New Year on a cruise and the HAL had been recommended by some American friends. We had a wonderful surprise when we were upgraded from a SS midship to a Neptune suite at the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to have Christmas and New Year on a cruise and the HAL had been recommended by some American friends. We had a wonderful surprise when we were upgraded from a SS midship to a Neptune suite at the back of the ship.A really big cabin with an L shaped veranda at the back. Having access to the Neptune lounge was a plus, the 2 concierges could not have been more friendly and helpful and the free capuchino was another plus! As a handicapped person I did find the long distances to other places on the ship was a problem,which was why we booked midship, but we worked around that problem by choosing room service a lot of the time.We had some problems the first few days, with cold food and missing items, but after a visit to the desk and a talk with Gilroy, the maitre d, it was soon fixed. Our main problem, which caused us to leave the cruise after the 1st section, was the ship's doctor.We had problems understanding him, and the other medical staff, and he did not seem to understand us.He seemed to be very unsure about what procedure to take, even after speaking to my own home doctor on the phone. He did not seem to have had any experience with my problem, a U.T.I. and said that he was not happy about me staying onboard for the last 2 weeks of the cruise in case the infection got worse and he would have no facilities to help if we were at sea or in the small islands that were next on the itinerary. So we had to leave the cruise after the 1st 2 weeks of what should have been 4 wonderful weeks. So much for our much anticipated month in the Pacific!! Now I have to deal with our travel insurance office and try to get reimbursed for the 2 weeks we missed. NOT how I expected to be spending my time at New Year!! This was our 1st and last cruise with H.A.L. after 27 cruises with Princess I think we will be staying with them. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
We had sailed with HAL on 3 previous cruises. We chose this cruise for the itinerary and had just been on Celebrity Solstice six weeks prior to this one and so comparisons between them were fresh in our minds. Where Solstice is clean ... Read More
We had sailed with HAL on 3 previous cruises. We chose this cruise for the itinerary and had just been on Celebrity Solstice six weeks prior to this one and so comparisons between them were fresh in our minds. Where Solstice is clean crisp lines with what we thought were much higher ceilings, Noordam is lower ceiling, less open spaces, fine arts but darkened lounge areas. Noordam did not come close to Solstice from the quality of their food, attention to detail and service of the crew. Embarkation for Noordam was slow. Our cabin was spotless our only complaint were the lumpy pillows. Our attendants always had a smile and were happy to assist to meet our needs. Dining - this is one of the features of cruising that we enjoy and were let down terribly. The menu selection and quality of food was poor, even in the Pinnacle Grill. We thought the standard in the Main Dining Room had dropped from our previous cruise with HAL but had improved measurably in the Buffet Dining (Lido). At all three dining venues we found the selection of deserts (and slices) disappointing. The attention to hygiene on board the ship was lacking. Rarely did we see a crew member ensuring that passengers used the sanitizers before entering the dining areas. The Air conditioning was poorly balanced and some areas of the ship were warm and others were very cold. Hence there were a lot of sick people on board. In the theatre during lecture and showtime there was constant coughing by passengers. Activities - not a great deal of variety or imagination used in planning the activity programme. The Test Kitchen was American food which was not to the Australian culinary style. exc Talks - Two great speakers were the Barrier Reef Pilot and Brian Stoddart who did a series on the Pacific the influences through history, art, internationalisation etc. The other speaker did a series on World War II in the Pacific is content was very disappointing. Entertainment - The highlight was the Planet Earth documentary accompanied by the String Quartet and Band. Fantastic! Mix of entertainers and three dance/shows. The BB King had us all tapping along with the music - they were great. Our first port of call was Gladstone....A wasted day. Not much to do or see the city tour included pointing out Bunnings and the local Library as sites of the town! Alotaou was not so much scenic as historically interesting port. If you are interested in the Second World War and the fighting in Milne Bay you will find doing a tour/excursion worthwhile. You will find locals portside who will take you on a tour of Alotaou. The next 2 ports were Kiriwina and Kitava Islands. Both beautiful islands where you can meet friendly tribal people These islands surpass the South Pacific Islands for swimming and snorkling in their lovely clear coral waters. You could buy wooden bowls carved by the village men or woven bags from the ladies. They do appreciate KENNA currency. Buy your currency before you leave home. Dont buy it off HAL they would not take back any unused currency (and they could sell you notes in poor condition that a bank will not accept - this happened to one passenger on our cruise). Next stop was Conflict Islands - this is a group of Islands owned by an Australian. It is very picturesque but very commercialized. (Buy any carvings or bags on this Island and expect to pay at least four times the price as on the other two islands... and you are not buying from the tribes person direct.) Our other ports were Cairns (Yorkies Knob) and Airlie Beach and then Brisbane. This cruise is not a cruise for those with disability issues. Only 3 ports were to a dock, five ports were by tender. The tenders were efficiently run and we did have to wait more than a couple of minutes at each port. It was extremely hot and it was lovely to have ice water and iced handtowels to greet us on and off the islands. One thing we did appreciate was the limited "on-sell" of spa, dining & drinks packages. It only occurred the first day or two. There are two issues that really were unsatisfactory.... 1. US$25 per person to get a shuttle bus from the wharf to Brisbane CBD. At Airlie Beach we paid A$5 in Australian dollars. Didn't add up paying Australian dollars on one occasion and USA dollars (at an exorbitant price) on the other. 2. No Christmas Carols on board the ships PA system. The ship was decorated with Christmas Decorations but no music. At requesting at the Guest Relations for some Carols to be played on the PA we were advised that the company had made a directive that no HOLIDAY MUSIC be played until the 22nd December. Yet they were quite happy for us to pay the ship's photographer to take "our CHRISTMAS PHOTO taken by the CHRISTMAS TREE". This is not the cruise line for children.. and especially around Christmas time. We were so disappointed at not being put into the Christmas spirit, that I doubt we will ever go on a cruise at Christmastime again with HAL. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
Holland America Line only does this cruise once yearly, and I've looked a it for 5 years, ALWAYS over American Thanksgiving or Christmas. This year they snuck it in between the two, so I jumped on it! It is definitely a tropical vacation, ... Read More
Holland America Line only does this cruise once yearly, and I've looked a it for 5 years, ALWAYS over American Thanksgiving or Christmas. This year they snuck it in between the two, so I jumped on it! It is definitely a tropical vacation, much like a South Sea Isles, without the foreign languages. Paupua New Guinea kept going from good to better to amazing, then Conflict Islands, WOAH! Each and every port had some amazing choices for shore excursions for those of us who had never been to this part of the world before. Since I still work and can only get a few weeks off at a time, I flew to Sidney 2 days early to get my bearings. The Four Seasons where HAL put us up was lovely and withing footsteps of The Rocks, lots of eating and drinking, and not far walking from the Opera House and Inner Harbor. The HOHO bus left from across the street, so a fine place for sightseeing the whole city. Our ship left from "the other harbor" (Port Jackson) which I'm happy it did. The sailaway was incredible under the Harbor bridge and past the Opera House. I had a starboard side balcony, and it was glorious that morning. It is one of the most beautiful of my lifetime. I was in a SY cabin, 8083, rattled around in there by myself, but if I upgraded to it, they threw in 2 nights Sydney, a Meet & Greet dinner and tour of the opera house (which was excellent) and all transfers for free. It paid for itself, and having a jetted tub and shower was great for those days I hiked up hills in PNG to get the very best views of the islands. The ship was impecabbly clean, crew was constantly working to keep it so. She is due for a refurbishment in 2019, and parts are showing wear, so a pass. I did notice the upgraded Lincoln Center Stage is now enclosed since last time I sailed her, and the music acoustics was excellent! The 5 musicians, all Scandinavian put their hearts & soul into each piece, everything from Edvard Grieg to Dave Matthews Band! The place to be each evening was the BB Kings Club, dancing and singing. Did not hit the single piano bar on this sailing, though I usually do, so many other choices in entertainment on board. Both of the BBC Earth presentations in the showrooom were standing room only. I didn't attend the other presentations there, but heard from others they were enjoyable. Only ate in the MDR once, my schedule was so busy with wonderful EXC shore excursions, Martini Tastings (with David and Yoko) at 6:00pm nightly, and many nights in specialty restaurants with new friends. Other nights the Lido just seemed to have the same offerings in half the time. All of the food was tasty, hot, beautifully presented in MDR and Sel de Mer, Canaletto & Pinnacle. By the time I returned home that evening, the recipe for what I had eaten at Sel de Mer was on my pillow with some chocolates. That was a special meal for SURE!What I enjoy about the LIDO is being able to say "a really small slice of lamb, I'm a light eater," because by dinner I'm not really hungry. There were excellent enrichment programs on board this sailing, in additional to the usual, Aboriginal Marlon gave his informative talks in the Queens Lounge about his culture, WWII history about Milne Bay's importance, History of the Conflict Islands and what to do there. First day at PNG in the Explorer's Lounge there was exchange for PNG Kina (the only currency they use on these tiny islands) and postcards and stamps to mail things home. HAL thought of it all. I am NOT a Day at Sea person. There were TWO in a row on this cruise and I was a afraid I'd be climbing the walls.I finished two books, it was HOT, too hot to be out on my balcony too much. I almost did climb the walls, except that I discovered Martini Tastings, 3 small glasses, about 12 people around a convivial bar in the Atrium, and fun bar games. We learned to make a few new drinks, never really got too tipsy, but met new friends, and seriously AUSTRALIANS are FUN!!!! David was one of the most fun bartenders HAL has out there. The ports were in a excellent order, in my humble opinion. GLADSTONE: This was first time the Noordam had ever called there. Granted it was a Sunday and NOTHING was open, they rolled out the food trucks and made it a fun day for us. There was a huge street fair waiting for those who just walked off the ship. I caught the ceremony the city gave for the Captain and Officers. There was a kilted bagpipe band, dancers, Aboriginal thanking the ancestors, short talks by both parties. The HOHO vans had really nowhere to go, because everywhere was shuttered for the day, except hotel restaurants & shops. ALOTUA, PNG: The largest of the Islands and most citified. People were everywhere, very busy town. The ship parked quite far from the town center & market, but taxis were plentiful and not expensive I was told. 2 dance groups were on the pier with in traditional costume, many people were filming, paying a bit and talking to leaders in English. I took a shore excursion for a Clay Pot Cooking Class at the Masurina Lodge. It was FANTASTIC! Tables were arranged for us outside, we learned the types of yams, bananas, and other vegetables & spices they use in cooking, prepared the pots with, then toured a small WWII museum of artifacts. When it was ready we sat together and enjoyed the fruits of our labor. It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in Alotua. KIRIWANA: This lovely island we tendered in to a nicely laid out beach full of stands where the natives sold their goods. There is a food stall in the middle to buy drinks and a few food items, but I didn't try it. Lots of people want to show you the island, but plenty of signs to show you the way. Not much in the way of beach chairs or mats, but lots of shade to the both sides off the tender pier. Bring what you need from the ship. Be willing to barter a bit. Save some Kina for tomorrow! Take a boat ride if you dare, the boats are sturdier on Kitava. KITAVA: Island Paradise! Clear water, bring a snorkle. Beach chairs to rent far to the left off the pier. You can walk in and see the coral and fish here, it is the best of the 3 islands of this PNG group. You can hike up to Captain Cameron's grave (5 Kina to go inside), worth the hike, the view is spectacular. There is another small island off the island, and for 10 Kina you have get a boat to take out out and drop you off, hopefully bring you back. Talk about deserted island! I'll try to post the pic! CONFLICT ISLANDS: Exceptional stop. The main island is a wanderers paradise. Yes, there are rooms, where I assume there were guests staying. There was a huge converted tuna processor, now a glass bottom boat. I took the Beach Picnic Shorex. Walked across the island boarded a Zodiac like skiff that took us to a larger, maybe 40 ft pleasure craft, drove us to a small, deserted island, where the skiff again met us, took our gear to shore, in twos. Beach chairs in the shade, pre-ordered picnic coolers with drinks, water, blankets, utinsils, everything needed for hours of absolute peace and quiet. At the prescribed time, our skiff returned us to the bigger boat for the return trip. I then went to the TURTLE RESCUE, which wasn't much to see, but very informative. The release of our own little guy/gal Crush was so envigorating, I wept a little, hoping he would survive and prosper in the wild. YORKEYS KNOB/CAIRNS: Unintended port for me, I changed my Great Barrier Reef excursion to go to the rainforest on the Kuranda Rail, and it was great! Exciting piece of history, with a tour guide in each rail car. Ours was really funny, and the narrative was historic and interesting. We stopped a few places for photos of the waterfalls befor arrival at the town. A few hours there, then return on the Skytrain, a cableway over the amazing rainforest to the forest floor, and a short bus back to the ship. ARLIE BEACH: Here the Whitsunday Island Tours boat picked us up right off the ship and took us out to the Great Barrier Reef dive platform to snorkle the Reef. It was a long, wavy trip and they were quite prepared with seasick bags, patches, pills and help for anyone experiencing symptoms. They served a delightful tea service, hearty lunch, and snack on the way back. We were outfitted with EVERYTHING, from stinger suits, snorkle gear, fins, everything except sunscreen and swimsuits. It as a great day, although I could have done without the sea swells, but that wasn't their fault, and they did everything RIGHT to handle that. BRISBANE: Beautiful Brisbane. Wish I had more time here. Took the excursion to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, it was much more. We toured the city both ways, seeing the highlights, spending about two hours at the sanctuary. It took about an hour in line to actually HOLD a koala, and $35 AUD for photos. Then paid $2 aud to buy kangaroo food and went into the enclosure where there were SO many roos, and you could be there as long as you wanted. I spent the rest of the time there! This was a wonderful itinerary for any Australia virgins. I will go back when I have more time after retirement. I thought the flights would be more grueling, but Delta flies the Boeing 777, which makes a huge difference in jet lag, that circulation system is amazing! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Of fourteen cruises this was my third with HAL. It was nice to renew our acquaintance after a five year hiatus. I'm happy to say that HAL have maintained their high standard, mostly. More on that later. We came down to Sydney by train ... Read More
Of fourteen cruises this was my third with HAL. It was nice to renew our acquaintance after a five year hiatus. I'm happy to say that HAL have maintained their high standard, mostly. More on that later. We came down to Sydney by train and four of us took a taxi from Central to White Bay. I was amazed at how much luggage space was available in the hybrid Toyota, it all went in the back, no bags on laps. Fare was $30 which I thought was reasonable but not so much when then return fare, White Bay to Central, was only $25! Hmmm. The return was a quicker trip as it was early morning. On arrival at the terminal we checked our bags and joined the queue which looked long but didn't take to long to get through, about 30 minutes and we were aboard. Room was ready. We, my friend Tony and I, had requested twin beds but found a double made up. We pointed this out to our room attendant and it was quickly fixed. Unusually, I had trouble orienting myself when moving about the ship. I think the lack of an atrium such as on X Solstice and Ovation OTS may have something to do with it. The decor, altough tasteful and in good condition, was not to my liking- too much brown, bronze and gold made for a drab interior. Others may like it but it seems dated. Meals. First thing I noticed in MDR was that there were fewer choices compered to my previous HAL experience. HAL is not alone in this regard. What was pleasing was the food standard was still as high as I remembered. Almost but not quite up to that of Celebrity, I recall only one dud meal in MDR, a chicken linguini with basil and tomato sauce and some crispy thing that wasn't crispy. The pasta sauce was totally lacking in flavour, basil or tomato, but the chicken was ok. We ate all dinners in MDR except for three nights when we ate in the specialty restaurants. The first was a birthday dinner in Pinnacle grill. There were four of us. I ordered a honey glazed pork chop as a main, the others had steaks, I wish I had too. The pork chop was overcooked, tasteless and chewy. Everything else was good, appetisers and desserts. The next was Rudi's Sal de Mare. This was excellent. Wonderful seafood courses and all cooked to perfection. Only problem was we had trouble finishing it all. By the time dessert came we were all pretty full then had to front up to a pile of profiteroles covered with chocolate sauce and ice cream, There was also crepe suzettes which were yummy. The final night was in Cannaletto's for my 70th. Excellent Italian food and presentation with portions just right. With the exception of the first sea day, when we had breakfast in the MDR, we ate breakfast and lunch in the Lido buffet. No self serve but food was freshly cooked and served by staff. Very little wastage and a lot less temptation to overload your plate. Less chance of spreading bugs too. Lots of variety to suit all tastes. Our group of four generally ate breakfast late (too late for MDR)cdue to Tony, a late riser, and the other two who liked pre breakfast walks and gym sessions. I just went with the flow. Entertainment, This is the first cruise where I have not tried to attend every show. Our usual ritual was 7pm trivia after which we would then have dinner. The late shows were at 10 and sometimes clashed with other performances such as piano and strings in the Lincoln Centre or BB Kings or the piano bar. I did catch the comedian one night and country singer Patrick McMahon was great, both nights. Have seen him on a previous cruise. Although the HAL band was good I it lacked a brass section. This would have given it a lot more presence. Guest speekers were interesting and topical. We booked a couple of ship tours, In Alotau we did a Milne Bay cruise with a historical commentary which was interesting and informative. I was able to relate what I have read, about the Japanese attack, to the geography/topography of the area, It was here that the Japanese suffered their first WW2 defeat on land. After that we went on a cultural tour and learnt about the way of life and customs of the PNG people in this area. For the island visits we went ashore and snorkelled and generally relaxed. Exception was the Conflict Islands. What a beautiful place this is. A Coral Sea atoll of twenty one islands with a marine research facility. The owner, Ian Gowrie-Smith, has set up a turtle conservation facility. He has an agreement with Carnival that allows their ships to visit and this helps fund the facility. It was here that I found the best snorkelling I've ever seen, absolutely beautiful and unspoiled in comparison to other islands where the coral is suffering degradation from the reef shoes and too many people We had booked an outrigger sailing cruise but this was cancelled due to lack of wind. For the Australian ports of Gladstone, Cairns, Airlie Beach and Brisbane I did my own thing. I did a little geocaching which gives me exercise and takes me to out-of-the-way places tourists mostly miss. Tendering at Yorkey's Knob, Cairns is the pits. Takes up so much time although I never had any problems getting on the tenders due to crowds. I can recommend the Cairns Aquarium, well worth a couple of hours there. Airlie Beach is much different to when I was last here, about thirty five years ago. They tell me the place is usually full of backpackers but maybe the season was over as there weren't too many about. Or perhaps they only come out at night. Lots of cafes and restaurants. In Brisbane I spent a relaxing day at my sisters' and spent some time with her five grandchildren, four girls and one boy aged between five and eleven. That was fun. All good things come to an end and we were back in Sydney having missed the cyclones but got the tail end of the Sydney storms. Disembarkation was on a Saturday. Saturday is when I windsurf and my club was having a post race Xmas BBQ so I decided I would try and make it back to Newcastle in time. I self disembarked by not putting my bag out the night before and just walking off when I was ready, Shared a taxi to central and was on the train heading north at 8.18. Would I cruise with HAL again, sure, if the itinerary looks good and the ports are interesting. I forgot to mention the one change I noticed in HAL's standards. Dressing for dinner. It's now a lot less formal than it was. On my first HAL cruise I didn't have a jacket for gala night so the Maitre d provided me with one. I didn't have to wear it, just hung it on the back of my chair. Some consider the casualisation of dinner attire a backward step but for me, I'm fine with it. I wear neat jeans or slacks with a collared shirt, or sometimes a bright Hawaiin shirt. No problem. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
As we wanted to see Australia & try a cruise that was more than 2 - 3 weeks, this cruise fit the bill. We flew in a day before our cruise from Vancouver, mainly to re-coup from the long flight & see a bit of Sydney before ... Read More
As we wanted to see Australia & try a cruise that was more than 2 - 3 weeks, this cruise fit the bill. We flew in a day before our cruise from Vancouver, mainly to re-coup from the long flight & see a bit of Sydney before embarking on our journey. As it turned out, we did mostly re-couping than sight seeing. We stayed at a hotel in the Mascot area, near the international airport, which was also a block away from the train station. Understandably the hotels by the airports are more reasonably price than the ones in the city, especially around the Rocks & Circular Quay. The next day, after a leisurely breakfast, we took the train to Circular Quay & strolled to the Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT) to embark the Noordam. The train ride was around 20 minutes & cost about $4.50 AUD/person. The distance from the train station to the OPT was an easy 2 flat block walk along a beautiful waterfront. Enroute, we walked into the many stores along the waterfront & took a whole bunch of pictures. Remember you can't check in until about noon, so you have a lot of time. There were around 10 - 15 stations (maybe more) for check in & a point person to tell you which station to go to. However, when the 4 or 5 star folks arrive & sometime in large bunches, they understandably get priority check in. That could be a little frustrating especially if you've waited for a long period of time. Notwithstanding, the check in went as smooth as possible. We had a post night stay following our cruise & elected for a late disembarkation, as such, it went smoothly. As titled, the Noordam is an old reliable friend. She is dated, but she is still capable & reliable especially when we encountered the rough seas. I found her clean, comfortable and with friendly helpful staff. I found the service to be very good. My cabin review is shown hereunder. We found the dining to be average to good. There was certainly no "wow" factor. In fact, I found the food a little on the salty side & repetitive, especially at the "Lido". Again, I found the service at the Lido & in the dining room to be very good. I don't really enjoy "Broadway" type productions, but I did like the "sandman" from New Zealand & Patrick McMahon the Australian musician. A comment about the gym. For those who like to use the free weights (dumb bells), there are cabins situated under this station, as such you have to place your weights down VERY quietly, or else. This station should be moved. A couple of comments respecting the ports in Papua New Guinea (PNG). We were led to believe that PNG prerfers passengers spending in PNG kinas, as the Australian, let alone US dollar was hard for the locals to exchange back to kinas. As such, Holland America brought in someone to convert your money to PNG kina (1 USD = 3.36 kina, 1 AUD = 2.39 kina, Jan./19 rate). Understandably, for this service, you will not be getting a good, let alone, a best rate. I was a little disappointed that when we attended a ship's shore excursion, most if not all the arts & crafts were in Australian dollars. A little more lost money in conversion, albeit small, but still another lost. Just saying. The locals on the islands that we visited in PNG were friendly, even if no purchases were made. The port of Gladstone, Queensland was a new stop for Holland America. During cruise ship season, a local market is set up about a 5 minute walk from where the ships are docked. The locals makes this as a day out there and were friendly & happy to see us. We docked on a Sunday, a day where most things were closed in town. Not knowing this, we purchased shuttle tickets for $30 pp, from the ship to go into town. You would have thought Holland America ought to have known that most, if not all things were closed in Gladstone on a Sunday. Just saying, again. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
This was a 30 day that was a rd trip from Sydney. Tasmania, Kangaroo Island, Melbourne, up the Queensland coast with several stops then Papua New Guinea (3), Conflict Islands, Cairns, Great Barrier Reef and Brisbane. The crew was second to ... Read More
This was a 30 day that was a rd trip from Sydney. Tasmania, Kangaroo Island, Melbourne, up the Queensland coast with several stops then Papua New Guinea (3), Conflict Islands, Cairns, Great Barrier Reef and Brisbane. The crew was second to none! Fantastic food and service. Really good entertainment of all types brought on at many ports. Really enjoyed America's Test Kitchen and band in BB King. 4 Happy Hours every day. 2 each in 2 lounges. Jai, the CD was really professional but fun and very approachable. He is Dutch as most officers are. The mainly Filipino and Indonesian crew go out of their way to make you happy. We are Elite on Princess and Platinum on Carnival. Had only sailed HAL 25 years ago and were bored. This was far from It! We had a wonderful time and have already booked a 28 day to China and Japan. No, it's not all old people (I thought it would be). Granted very few children but guests of all ages. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
I have read some of the reviews about this cruise and couldn't disagree more with some. We are 3 star mariners with Holland America - not that this means anything - other than we wouldn't cruise Holland America if we didn't appreciate ... Read More
I have read some of the reviews about this cruise and couldn't disagree more with some. We are 3 star mariners with Holland America - not that this means anything - other than we wouldn't cruise Holland America if we didn't appreciate what they do; but we have also taken other cruises. I would agree that the ship could use some updating - but our suite was very acceptable. The food was very very good - yes, the meal choices were harder on this cruise but the staff was obviously trying to meet the dietary needs of all diners - which means you must provide vegetarian, gluten-free, restrictions based on religious beliefs, diabetic restrictions, and on and on. And they also tried to feature the many places we visited. The servers, wine stewards, dining room supervisors, etc. were all very focused on making sure the experience was exceptional ... on a number of occasions I asked for a modification to the standard dinner and always received what I requested. There wasn't a meal that we had where we weren't asked if our meal was satisfactory. And our order was taken and our first course delivered within 10 minutes of sitting down at the table. Our glasses were kept full as well. The shows were very good for what you'd expect for ship entertainment; throughout the entire cruise (we got off in Aukland) people seemed to really enjoy them - the showroom was packed every night and the applause was loud. We ended our evening with coffee and reading in a number of the lounge areas and the music was great in every one we sat in. Keeping in mind that we had a number of "sea" days, they tried to provide a variety of things to do - cooking classes, digital classes, a movie every afternoon in the showroom, health related classes, massages, talks on the cultures we encountered by people of the region and the history of those areas, talks on the various animals of the region, a library full of books to read, updates on the coming excursions, puzzles to work on, card games to participate in, board games to play, etc. BUT, we took this cruise knowing that we'd have to be able to entertain ourselves as well and we came prepared. We also told our children not to expect a lot of communication from us because we anticipated that wifi and internet could be sketchy. We went on a shore excursion at every stop but one (this is not typical for us) because we wanted to meet the people and experience the culture of the area and we were not disappointed - what an education. I really couldn't pick my favorite - they were all wonderful. Every member of the staff that we encountered was absolutely phenomenal - from the dining room to the ship maintenance people to the room stewards. Wonderful wonderful people - always smiling and always making you feel important. These people work hard and sometimes at very unappreciated positions. It was amazing being with them for 32 days and really getting to know them - all of them with a story to tell about their life journey. This was one of those trips where you get home and wonder how you're going to explain the trip to someone so that they can get a feel for what you experienced. Would we go on a Holland America cruise again - absolutely. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We booked this cruise to get home to Australia from North America. We were assured when booking that the ship was to be refurnished in early 2018. On embarking we found a stateroom with tatty furniture - holes in the upholstery, peeling ... Read More
We booked this cruise to get home to Australia from North America. We were assured when booking that the ship was to be refurnished in early 2018. On embarking we found a stateroom with tatty furniture - holes in the upholstery, peeling wallpaper, chips in bath and sink and bathroom mirrors degrading. The public areas were no better. Meals in the dining room and lido were at best lukewarm no matter where or when we ate. The only way to get fresh hot food was to dine in the pinnacle grill or canalettos both of which were excellent. Having paid for one's food one shoukd not have to pay twice. A lot of the fruit on board was old from the start of the cruise and off by the time we reached Fiji. The ship ran out of english breakfast and tetley tea bags and corn flakes. Only one flavour of yoghurt available at a time. But notbto worry there were at any one time inumerable boxes of a full range of caffeine free teas! The numbers of servers has been reduced so much that the tables could not be cleared between diners and on some evenings it took over 25 minutes to place one's order for dinner. When it arrived the food was usually tepid at best and when returned to the kitchen to be reheated it came back no better. It was ridiculous that as we crossed the Pacific passengerd had to wear sweaters inside the ship because the airconditioning was so cold. The standard of evening entertainment was poor with large gaps when nothing was happening at all. The internet access was described by a member of Holland America staff as abysmal most passengers were much ruder about it. The 'range' of dvds available was a joke the staff asked psssengers for a list of requested titles then couldn't deliver any of them I am not sure what Holland Americ's agenda is; whether they are trying to move down market within the CCL group. If so they may well succeed but they alienated a whole lot of experienced mariners on this cruise. Many times I heard fellow passengers express the determinstion never to cruise HL again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
The ship is not new, but in good condition. Very beautiful design. Light colors in the interior visually increase the room. Paintings, fresh flowers, ship models adorn public spaces. Good service, friendly staff. Great breakfast. I love ... Read More
The ship is not new, but in good condition. Very beautiful design. Light colors in the interior visually increase the room. Paintings, fresh flowers, ship models adorn public spaces. Good service, friendly staff. Great breakfast. I love fresh berries, cottage cheese, pate, salted salmon. I have had many cruises, but HAL breakfasts are the best in my experience. In general, I liked the food on the ship. In the buffet and in the restaurant. I would like to mention the excellent cheese plate and carpaccio from what I still love. There is a pool with a retractable roof. It is very convenient for routes that have many days at sea and climate change. There is a circular walking platform. Very nice to admire the sea. You can walk, and you can sit. From the attractions I liked learning how to weave lei from orchids. Sports activities include table tennis and a basketball court. In the new ships of other companies, the choice is better. There is a free sauna, but it is very small. I enjoyed the journey on this ship as a whole. It is a pity that it was so short. 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 3.9
Family 2.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.7
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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