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Holland America Line: Noordam

  • Holland America Line
  • Holland America Line
  • Holland America Line

Noordam Review

The fourth and final Vista-class ship, Noordam launched in 2006. Named for the Northern compass point, the ship carries such museum-quality paintings as an oil portrait of the city of Utrecht from 1842, as well as contemporary art pieces like the series of photographs

of music greats Dizzy Gillespie and BB King.

Ships for the 21st century, Vista-class vessels integrate new, youthful, and family-friendly elements into Holland America Line's classic fleet. Exquisite Waterford-crystal sculptures adorn triple-deck atriums and reflect vivid, almost daring color schemes throughout. Although all the public rooms carry the traditional Holland America names (Ocean Bar, Explorer's Lounge, Crow's Nest) and aren't much different in atmosphere, their louder decor (toned down a bit since the introduction of the Zuiderdam) may make them unfamiliar to returning passengers.

Veterans of cruises on older Holland America ships will find the layout of public spaces somewhat different; still, everyone's favorite Crow's Nest lounges continue to offer those commanding views.

Holland America Line has enjoyed a distinguished record of traditional cruises, world exploration, and transatlantic crossings since 1873—all facets of its history that are reflected in the fleet's multimillion-dollar shipboard art and antiques collections. Even the ships' names follow a pattern set long ago: all end in the suffix dam and are either derived from the names of various dams that cross Holland's rivers, important Dutch landmarks, or points of the compass. The names are even recycled when vessels are retired, and some are in their fifth and sixth generation of use.

Noted for focusing on passenger comfort, Holland America Line cruises are classic in design and style, and with an infusion of younger adults and families on board, they remain refined without being stuffy or stodgy. Following a basic design theme, returning passengers feel as at home on the newest Holland America vessels as they do on older ones.

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What You Should Know

Pros

  • Next to the Crow's Nest, an outdoor seating area is a quiet hideaway
  • Exterior panoramic elevators offer an elevated view of the seascape
  • You can borrow iPod shipboard art tours

Cons

  • Vista-class ships do not have self-service laundry rooms
  • Murals in Pinnacle Grill restaurants look out of place alongside priceless art found throughout the rest of the ships
  • Some chairs in Pinnacle Grill are so heavy that they barely budge without effort
Ship Stats
  • Entered Service 2006
  • Passenger Capacity 1,924
  • Crew Members 820
  • Number of Cabins 959
  • Gross Tons 82,305
  • Length 936 feet
  • Width 106 feet
  • New

Jan 17, 2017

SYDNEY TO VANCOUVER

MS NOORDAM 8 APRIL 2016 TRANSPACIFIC VOYAGE FROM SYDNEY TO VANCOUVER via Noumea, Tade (Loyalty Islands), Mystery Island (Vanuatu), Lautoka (Fiji), Dravuni Island (Fiji), Pago Pago (American Samoa), Honolulu (Hawaii), Victoria (British Columbia) and finally Vancouver some 24 days later. The ship was built in 2006 and is in reasonably good shape with evidence of some refurbishment having the impact of showing up those areas not being

updated. It seems to be quite a hotchpotch of design and doesn't seem to blend together all that well. It is not unpleasant but one wonders if it could have been a lot better. Its sister ship the Oosterdam by comparison seems to be a far more elegant ship. We chose verandah stateroom 7138 at the rear of the ship which has a double depth balcony. A good size with full bath (but not overly generous vanity space) and all in pretty good order. The lack of any real desk space was a bit of a drawback if you wished to use your laptop etc., although there were plenty of spots elsewhere throughout the ship. There are any number of pleasant bars throughout the ship with cocktails/ drinks around $US7 (plus 15% surcharge). Entertainment is provided in a number of these venues as well. There is also free coffees/teas available in the Lido area. If you are after a better quality coffee then the Explorations Cafe is the place for around $US3 (plus 15%) which includes a small cake or biscuit. This cafe area is another example on this ship of very poorly designed floorspace with it becoming a monumental challenge to take your full cup of coffee through the most tightly arranged seats. The idea of locating it within the library is hard to fathom. The library shelves are spread across two rooms with large comfortable chairs located up against the shelves making it difficult to actually view or access the books. Partly the reason for this no doubt is to accommodate as many computer screens in between as possible (and generate maximum revenue) but it does little if anything to provide a pleasant library or cafe experience. Food services aboard Noordam are provided at a number of locations. The Lido Buffet is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner until 8pm and serves a reasonably good range of product. The Main Dining Room permits "As You Wish" dining where you can vary the time you eat or you can go the "Fixed Seating" arrangement which is either 6pm or 8pm. The meals in the Dining Room were good and on occasion very good but never excellent. The continuing cost cutting within this industry is being reflected in any number of areas of the ship's operation and you have to think that it will eventually have a negative impact on future sales. We had previously sailed on the Oosterdam and dined in the Pinnacle Grill which was an experience to remember. For that reason we booked a night at the Pinnacle Grill on Noordam for US$58 (plus 15%). Any hope of having a similar experience on Noordam was quickly abandoned on entering the restaurant itself which was a first class disappointment decorwise which seemed to fit in with the rest of the ship sadly. Oosterdam's Pinnacle Grill was quite stunning and made you feel as though you were in a high class restaurant and its food and service was just as impressive. For some unfathomable reason there seemed to be no real effort on Noordam to make this a special experience in respect of the decor or the food. Certainly not worth the surcharge !!! Entertainment was provided in a number of bars and lounges and was generally of a good standard. The feature acts in the main Vista Lounge were certainly of the better category. A jazz band proved popular in the BB King Lounge. The Vista Lounge was rather poorly decorated for a main public room with rather dated fabric on the back of the chairs and the sound system seemed somewhat out of kilter in terms of balance and volume. It nevertheless provided a number of good nights entertainment. The ship has two swimming pools one of which has a retractable roof - both are heated to 30 degrees Centigrade and are well maintained with plenty of deck chairs, towels etc., as well as co-located bars. If you really want to get away from it all you can always go the Observation Deck where there are also deckchairs. For those who prefer the shade there are the old style sleeper lounges on the Promenade Deck - good spot to take in the fresh air and read a good book before dozing off !!! At a number of ports we had to utilise the ship's tender boats which were very stable compared to some we have travelled in the past and were most efficiently and courteously managed. Had occasion to use the ship's medical unit due to us both picking up a rather severe chest infection on board after leaving Pago Pago. They provided excellent, caring service and after the initial consultation rang a number of times to check up on us - most impressed !!! The one thing that stands out on this ship is the CREW AND THE LEVEL OF SERVICE . They are quietly efficient and keen to assist and go out of their way - the best feature of the cruise. Our stateroom stewards Dadang and Kurnia were just so professional, friendly and obliging with nothing being too much despite the huge workload. The same applies to our two dining room stewards Sep and Mohammed to whom nothing was a problem and always service with a smile. Not to be outdone was Widi on the toaster machine who has the most engaging personality and is always so courteous and helpful. Whilst these are the individuals we have had the most contact with all the staff seem to be of similar mould and provide a very pleasant ambience in which to travel. OVERALL : The ship seems to lend itself to some major makeover in terms of some cohesion and functionality in design. A few attractive touches are more than overawed by the remainder. The food appears to have declined in range and quality which was for so long the hallmark on Holland America. The Pinnacle Grill needs a complete rethink to offer anywhere near the experience available on the Oosterdam. Entertainment was good to great only hampered by the Vista sound system. Its greatest strength is its crew who are some of the best at sea and that can count for a considerable amount on a long voyage. IMPROVE THE MENU, THE DECOR AND THE LAYOUT and it could be as good as Oosterdam. In its present state it would rate 4 stars.

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  • New

Jul 1, 2014

Departing Barcelona

After arriving in Barcelona and getting ready for an 11 night cruise, we are off to a very rough start. Food was fair. Seems to be bland and unseasoned so as to not affect the stomachs of the primarily more senior clientele. The stateroom, a small but otherwise clean Deluxe Verandah would have been fine if the air conditioning had been working. The cabin stewards assigned to our stateroom aren't quite at the level of their contemporaries

on the Amsterdam. The Barcelona highlights tour that we took today allowed us to see a beautiful city. Unfortunately, the tour guide kept very frenetic pace in very hard to understand English. If we had to do it all over again, we would have done the hop on, hop off city sightseeing tour bus. Ship: Holland America's ms Noordam Sailing from Barcelona, Spain on July 1, 2014 - 11 Nights. How to open the show on a very, very poor performance. Yesterday we boarded the ms Noordam in Barcelona, and are scheduled to spend the first full day after boarding still in port in Barcelona. As past mariners as part of the Holland America program, we have come to expect a consistent quality of service no matter what ship we choose to cruise on, but perhaps we have been spoiled since first sailing on the ms Amsterdam last year. Unfortunately, apparently all crews are clearly not trained to or operate at the same standards. When we first arrived into our Deluxe Verandah stateroom (4123), we thought that the room seemed hot. After adjusting the air conditioning as low as it could go and attempting to call the guest services lines and experiencing 20+ minute hold times, we decided to go to the front desk to ask them to assist. We were told that they would open a service ticket and that no one would even need to come to our room. A long time later, Mary Grace from the front desk came to our stateroom with a digital thermometer and decided that the minimal output from our air conditioning unit was putting out air at 74 degrees Fahrenheit (23.5 C), stated that it wasn't working correctly, and that it would be fixed. She suggested that we open the door to the Verandah. For air conditioning to work, it should clearly be coming out cooler than the intended room temperature. After over 24 hours in port, they still have not repaired the air conditioning. When we spoke with Alex at the front desk after this 24 hour delay, we were told that he saw that a service ticket had been opened, but that he also saw that nothing had been done. Not only had nothing been done, but Alex at the Front Desk really seemed totally apathetic and non-caring as he told us to go back to our room and wait for them to call. Alex told us that it would be another hour waiting in the room for something to happen as he would have to speak to his supervisor, who would then have to speak to their supervisor, who would then speak to the assistant facility manager. Apparently the desk staff is not empowered to meet guest's needs, which is another cause for concern when booking a cruise with this vessel. As we get back to the room to wait for the service that may or may not come, we find out that our scheduled stop in Marseilles has been cancelled due to a labor issue and we are going to be redirected to an alternate/back up port. Ironically there was a taxi strike in Barcelona yesterday that affected arrivals to the ship, but strangely enough we heard nothing from Holland America to tell us to expect these taxi issues affecting arrivals. Would it have been that hard to contact the passengers via their preferred communications channels with a simple message? Is this the Noordam's idea of customer service? I'm sure others have had perfectly enjoyable cruises on the Noordam, however, so far, we are not impressed in the least. I understand that issues happen with labor disputes and with the ship's infrastructure, but a caring crew would attempt to accommodate and address these issues. Oh well I guess we are in the market for another Holland America ship that does seem to care, and barring that, we will then find another cruise line that understands that good enough“ isn't.

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By Sue_CR

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May 31, 2014

Western Mediterranean

I took an 11-day (5/18-5/29) cruise on Noordam of Holland America that was scheduled to stop at Tunis, Tunisia, the only port I hadn't been. It was at sea on 5/20. I left my iPhone on the hand dryer in the handicapped bathroom outside the ship gym. 40 minutes later, it was gone. Yes, my own FAULT for being forgetful!!! My daughter (a first-year college student) was going to travel alone in China, learning the language.

I have all the apps and info on the phone to stay in touch with her (I speak Chinese), and to make sure she is safe in the country. The ship staff, other than searching my stateroom, told me to wait until it was turned in. At my repeated requests, the cruise director mentioned once on his daily TV chat "if you lose something, go to the front desk. If you find something, return to the front desk." Most people, including myself, didn't hear this. With extreme worry and stress, I developed an acute infection, and begged for some sort of public message-a desperate plea (a half-page flyer) at my own expense and work for the return of the phone. Whoever got it may not know how much the phone meant to me; and the phone maybe totally useless for him/her. I felt the need to let the person know. It might just be a kid who picked the phone up. But the hotel director criticized me for being accusatory when I said the ship could do more to help. And the security head told me that 'your daughter will be ok'. I requested to see the captain but was told he couldn't see me. I understand that a cruise ship could not make an announcement for everyone who loses something. But should an exception be made when a smart phone, with so much info on it, was missing at a public area? No security camera was available. My daughter is still struggling in China. The phone is on airplane mode. Captain announced the cancellation to Tunis only the night before the ship was supposed to visit there.

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  • New

Mar 6, 2013

SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN

Dinning room seating: Negative When we booked initially, we were unable to get first seating (5:45) and were wait listed. Our travel agent suggested we try back on the day the final portion of the fare was due, which we did. We were able to obtain first seating (and it was reflected on the web site.) When we did the original submission of our documents to check in, 1st seating was displayed. About five days before sailing we went to print

more luggage tags and noticed we had been re-assigned to open seating for dinner. We called Holland America Line and were told there was nothing they could do and we would have to call our travel agent, which we did. After spending close to an hour on the phone with our travel agent, we were able to again have 1st seating in the dinning room. (And again, we checked the next day to be sure it was on our reservation on the web site and it was.) When we came to board and were issued our ID cards, printed on the face of the card was open seating for dining. We immediately brought this to the attention of the agent that was checking us in. She, rather curtly said there was nothing she could do and we would have to handle it ‘ship board’ by talking with the dinning room manager. (In the past we have had to do this to get early seating and it always involves a “gratuity” of around $50.00 and since we worked at getting first seating before the cruise we had no intention giving anyone a gratuity for this again.) At my insistence, the manager on duty came over and I explained the problem. He also said there was nothing he could do and the only way to fix it was to do it on board. I was surprised that a member of management was not empowered to resolve issues of this nature in a better way. He said my only alternative would be to call the 800 customer service number, which he provided. I did so ASAP right there and then (I think to the manager’s surprise) I talked with a gentleman who claimed he was in the President’s office. He also said that we should just go and talk with the dinning room manager. I again explained that fixing it with the dinning room manager would involve cash payments and about 1-2 hours of time. I pressed him with “if you are in the president’s office, you mean you can’t solve a simple customer’s issue like dinning room seating?” he then put me on hold to “check something” and after a few minutes he came back and said that we should check with “Annie”, the guest relation’s manager on the ship and she would resolve our issue. I thanked him, boarded the ship, and went straight to the front desk/purser’s office and asked for Annie. After a 10-15 minute wait, Annie came out and introduced herself. We explained our issue and she called the Dinning room, and after some discussion, we were granted 1st seating and had our ID cards re-issued, but not before Annie informed us that it was not the ship’s fault that we did not have 1st seating. In all of this, we managed to miss the Mariner’s Lunch in the dining room. We were the 7th, 8th and 9th people at a table for eight, so it was crowded, but our dinner companions were great and we all enjoyed each other’s company each night at dinner (there were always empty tables in the dinning room and we heard from many others that they also wanted early seating and could not get it, but this has been an ongoing issue, since anytime dining was introduced and a different matter all together.) In all of this, the overall attitude that we encountered, both on the phone before the cruise, at check in and on board was: It’s not my fault There is nothing I can do about it It’s not my issue Where I was expecting the attitude of “How can I fix/resolve your problem.” Which to me would be a signature of excellence. Good, not great Good The Spa/Gym staff were excellent, especially Saundra the leader of the morning Stretch and exercise class!! (and having these two sessions each morning from 7:00-7:30 and 7:30-8:00 as free classes was GREAT) The dinning room food was excellent as was the dinning room staff. The Lido food was also good. The dancers were wonderful, both on stage and in the dance classes (In the past we know the dance classes can be hit or miss, but Jason, and all the others did a wonderful job of teaching jibe, Tango, Waltz and Foxtrot!!!) Below is a copy of the email sent to Holland America Line after our latest cruise. Below you will also find the response we received two weeks after sending this note to them. Hello: We were very disappointed with our most recent voyage on the Noordam. There were some very good points about the ship as well, but the overall impression I/we had with the Noordam and Holland America was negative. I would like to start with the GOOD – Ray and Vincent at the front desk/Purser’s desk were excellent, providing as much assistance as possible with a smile. The Ship it self was clean and in good repair and well handled, both in our cabin and the public areas. The Spa/Gym staff were excellent, especially Saundra the leader of the morning Stretch and exercise class!! (and having these two sessions each morning from 7:00-7:30 and 7:30-8:00 as free classes was GREAT) The dinning room food was excellent as was the dinning room staff. The Lido food was also good. The dancers were wonderful, both on stage and in the dance classes (In the past we know the dance classes can be hit or miss, but Jason, and all the others did a wonderful job of teaching jibe, Tango, Waltz and Foxtrot!!!) The Assistant Dinning room manager was pleasant and for the 1st time I can remember in a long time, turned away inappropriately dressed would be dinners (shorts and t-shirts on “smart casual” nights and gentlemen without jackets on “formal night”) in accordance with published standards and policy – Bravo! However, our vacation was overshadowed by several events starting even before we boarded: The first being our dinning room seating. When we booked initially, we were unable to get first seating (5:45) and were wait listed. Our travel agent suggested we try back on the day the final portion of the fare was due, which we did. We were able to obtain first seating (and it was reflected on the web site.) When we did the original submission of our documents to check in, 1st seating was displayed. About five days before sailing we went to print more luggage tags and noticed we had been re-assigned to open seating for dinner. We called Holland America Line and were told there was nothing they could do and we would have to call our travel agent, which we did. After spending close to an hour on the phone with our travel agent, we were able to again have 1st seating in the dinning room. (And again, we checked the next day to be sure it was on our reservation on the web site and it was.) When we came to board and were issued our ID cards, printed on the face of the card was open seating for dining. We immediately brought this to the attention of the agent that was checking us in. She, rather curtly said there was nothing she could do and we would have to handle it ‘ship board’ by talking with the dinning room manager. (In the past we have had to do this to get early seating and it always involves a “gratuity” of around $50.00 and since we worked at getting first seating before the cruise we had no intention giving anyone a gratuity for this again.) At my insistence, the manager on duty came over and I explained the problem. He also said there was nothing he could do and the only way to fix it was to do it on board. I was surprised that a member of management was not empowered to resolve issues of this nature in a better way. He said my only alternative would be to call the 800 customer service number, which he provided. I did so ASAP right there and then (I think to the manager’s surprise) I talked with a gentleman who claimed he was in the President’s office. He also said that we should just go and talk with the dinning room manager. I again explained that fixing it with the dinning room manager would involve cash payments and about 1-2 hours of time. I pressed him with “if you are in the president’s office, you mean you can’t solve a simple customer’s issue like dinning room seating?” he then put me on hold to “check something” and after a few minutes he came back and said that we should check with “Annie”, the guest relation’s manager on the ship and she would resolve our issue. I thanked him, boarded the ship, and went straight to the front desk/purser’s office and asked for Annie. After a 10-15 minute wait, Annie came out and introduced herself. We explained our issue and she called the Dinning room, and after some discussion, we were granted 1st seating and had our ID cards re-issued, but not before Annie informed us that it was not the ship’s fault that we did not have 1st seating. In all of this, we managed to miss the Mariner’s Lunch in the dining room. We were the 7th, 8th and 9th people at a table for eight, so it was crowded, but our dinner companions were great and we all enjoyed each other’s company each night at dinner (there were always empty tables in the dinning room and we heard from many others that they also wanted early seating and could not get it, but this has been an ongoing issue, since anytime dining was introduced and a different matter all together.) In all of this, the overall attitude that we encountered, both on the phone before the cruise, at check in and on board was: It’s not my fault There is nothing I can do about it It’s not my issue Where I was expecting the attitude of “How can I fix/resolve your problem.” Which to me would be a signature of excellence. The 1st night of the cruise, we received to notes about the deep sea fishing excursion we booked for a member of our group. One of the notes said the boat was out of commission and the other said here is your ticket for the excursion. Neither were date/time stamped so we did not know which to believe. We called and were not able to reach the excursion’s desk (they were closed) We went down to the front desk to ask. They did not have a clue on which was correct, had no information other than the schedule for the next day with a mark next to the deep sea fishing and said there was no way to contact the excursion people to ask. (Where they were very nice and trying to be helpful, apparently they were not empowered to call/page/locate the excursion people to get an answer to our question) They suggested that we plan on the excursion, just in case it was “on”, which we did and the it was (thank god we did plan) We also noticed that there were several people signed up for Deep Sea Fishing that did not show up at the boat, and we wondered if they had the same issues we did. Again we had the attitude of “there is nothing I can do/that I am allowed to do, to resolve the issue.” One night we ordered an in-room movie to be delivered. After the phone hold wait of 3-4 minutes they came on the line, took our order and said the movie would be there in 10-15 minutes, even though we offered to pick it up. After waiting over an hour for the movie, we called again (same 3-4 minute hold) they were surprised that we did not have the movie, then put us on hold trying to find out what happened, then we were told they thought the movie had been delivered asking us to be sure (we checked the outside bin, even though we were in the room the whole time, it was not there) then waited while they tried to figure out what happened. We never got the movie. The times and locations of the ship board activities were poorly thought out – nothing scheduled then several things scheduled at the same time. Locations and times of things like team trivia, and shipboard movies were greatly varied, even thought it was always well attended (when we could locate it) The quantity of the activities was very low. The late night Dessert event was held in the atrium, which was way too small. It was cramped, on three levels, and the A/C could not keep up – we left quickly, without sampling much (We almost felt like the venue was chosen so people would leave quickly without partaking in the dessert buffet. The movies around the pool on the Lido deck could not be heard/understood, ruining the movie. This is a BAD place to present movies and we declined to view any other movies on the pool deck. When we mentioned it to the Cruise Director, he said he knew and there was nothing that could be done. (Notice the theme of “not my fault, nothing I can do...”) The following items are just notes/comments about other things we think you should be aware of that normally we would not bother to write about, but since I am already writing, I am including them as well: The Cruise Director, (Sean Michaels?) was the poorest dressed Cruise Director I can remember, who told very old, poor jokes to an audience that clearly, after the first couple of times he spoke, didn’t what to hear them. I may be an old fogey, but on formal night, I would expect the Cruise Director to be turned out in a well fitting Tuxedo, complete with bow tie, cummerbund/vest studs and cuff links. This was not the case and it was noticed by many of the guests. In the past, participation in trivia, game shows... yielded some nice mementos of the trip. This time, either they were not given or they were so poor as to be not wanted – who really wants another pin... We can remember the days of the Dam Dollars and ending up with a “dam ships” sweat shirt, hat or t-shirt and we miss them. Room service was prompt in the morning, delivering our wake up coffee. However, it took them forever to retrieve the tray (sometimes as late as 4:00 pm, even though we called early to to have them picked up) We honored the request not to put them in the hallways, but we were tempted to several times because of the delay in getting them. Calling anyone on the ship’s telephone resulted in always being put on hold for 1-5 minutes, regardless of who we were trying to reach. The tenders on half moon cay were some of the worst boat handlers I have ever encountered. They struck both the dock and the ship very hard, jarring the passengers and alarming some of them. The weather was not particularly rough or windy, just poor drivers (When the Ship’s tenders were used at Samana, they were smooth and gentle, in worse conditions...) Where this did not affect our enjoyment much, I thought I would note this for you, since they are outside contractors and you need to know the quality (or lack there of) of the contractors. This was my 3rd cruise on a Holland America ship in the past five years and each one has been a step down in customer service from the one before. This is an alarming trend and feel that as a loyal customer, I need to make you aware of them. If this trend continues, Holland America will no longer be my cruise line of choice. Response from Holland two weeks later: Thank you for your email to Holland America Line’s Guest Relations Department. We are committed to providing our guests with the highest level of service, and appreciate the effort it takes to write to us. Please be assured that we respond to all correspondence in the date order it is received. At times it can take several weeks to properly investigate and research some issues to provide a proper response. We appreciate this opportunity to review your correspondence and thank you for your patience. You will be hearing from us soon. If you find it necessary to contact us in the meantime, please refer to your booking number. Kind regards, Office of the President Holland America Line

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  • New

Dec 18, 2012

Mediterranean Adventure

Having had just over a year contemplating what my wife and I experienced last year on our first (and possibly last) cruise, I would have to say that I would have never have booked a 20 day cruise, without first having experienced a much shorter cruise first, if I could do it over. The food experience varied quite a bit. The Lido deck dining was below par, with basically the same menu, day in, day out. It was bland fare, and they attempted

to make the foods seem more exotic than they were in actuality. Sweet sauces abounded. Breakfast buffet was the same every day, and the buffet opened too late if you were planning a shore excursion, so we ended up scrounging what we could, so that we would not be totally hungry during the day trips. Lunches on the Lido deck were also the same. On arrival back from one morning trip, we arrived back at the ship to find the buffets closing down ( this was at about 13:00 hours, ship's time ). Many other morning tours arrived back at the same time. You can imagine that there was a small mutiny brewing, if they had not reopened the buffets. Believe it or not, you could not get a pain old hamburger, or fish and chips during this cruise, except through room service. If you do use room service, please be prepared for disappointment. Limited food selection; you wait a long time to get it; and when you do, at least for the hamburgers, anyway, they are cold on arrival, and not completely cooked through properly. I will address it more fully later, but my wife and I, with at least a quarter of the crew and passengers, got sick midway through the voyage. I noticed that sick food preparers and handlers were still on duty, while hacking and sneezing into the food. We did, however, enjoy the Vista dining experience in the evening. Staff were attentive, fun to talk to, and the food was good. The only negative thing I can say about this was that it was a 10-day meal rotation, with the second half of our twenty-day cruise being repeated. The best of all the dining was the Pinnacle Grill, to which we signed up for, although it is $20/person extra. We went twice during our 20-day cruise, and really enjoyed the experience.< br /> We were not impressed with our stateroom at all. Initially, prior to boarding the vessel, we were assigned a room on a lower deck. On boarding, we were told we were getting a better stateroom on the Navigator deck (specifically room 8088 ). The room was large enough for us, but the carpets, furniture, complimentary robes, deck chairs had obviously seen better days. As my wife had worked in the service industry previously, she pointed out many deficiencies in the cleanliness of the room, many of which I recognized immediately as well. Dried/sticky food on the coffee table, spilled milk on the desk, heavy fingerprints from the previous occupants on the sliding verandah doors. No fruit in the basket, no flowers welcoming us to our room, just a bland motel room on the high seas. I didn't really care about the flowers/fruit, but that was how it was portrayed in the brochures and videos, so if I am paying for it, I expect to get it. Don't BS me. Since our room was on the Navigator deck, we were just below the Lido deck, until about 03:00 hours in the morning, there was the "thump, thump, bang" of feet and carts. Needless to say, we were kept awake during this time. Next morning, I went to the front desk and complained about this. They assured me that this could not have been the case, but would instruct staff to be quieter from now on. This of course did not happen, and we were subject to this the entire trip. My guess is that the previous occupants could not stand the room and had made more of a fuss than we did, so got a quieter room ( our initial room?) and we traded "up" to the noisy room. Pure speculation, of course. Amazingly enough, we got a $600 refund from Holland America, as they considered "us to have been very patient with them" ( their words, not mine ), about this matter. So maybe we were in the right? In regard to the room cleanliness, I sent off an email to my travel agent, in Calgary, Canada. The results were almost immediate. We had the room stewards, and even guest appearances from ship's officers, in the room inspecting ( officers ) and or cleaning (stewards) that evening. It appears that the squeaky does get the grease, sometimes, anyway. As we had booked many of the shore excursions, necessitating getting up early, we did not stay up to watch the evening shows. We spent most of our evening hours on the verandah. The weather was beautiful and warm. As other reviewers have mentioned, shore excursions from Holland America have a built in insurance that the ship will not sail until everyone is on board. If you go on your own, and you are late getting back to the ship, it will have sailed without you. Be prepared for not just crowding, but "OVERCROWDING". While several tours are booked at each port, invariably one or two tours are the most popular, so EVERYONE books those ones. Once at the location, the "OVERCROWDING" sets in, as the other 2-5 cruise ships will also be in port, disgorging their complement of sightseers, to the exact same sites. This does not even include the locals or travellers arriving by other transportation. Additionally, be prepared to share illnesses. When on the air-conditioned buses, you will be exposed to everyone else's little bugs. Bring your own cold/flu medications (Nyquil, ibuprofen, cough lozenges, Imodium etc..........) because these will be hard to come by in Europe, unless of course you speak the language. Also be prepared to expend anywhere from 2-6 Euros per 500ml bottle of water. The cruise line and tourist trade have really found a lucrative way of parting you from your cash for this indispensable item, especially in warm weather. Upon reflection, it might have been better to select shore excursions that were not so popular. At least there would have been a little more breathing room. Even though I probably would not take another cruise ( at least in Europe ), based on my previous comments, and other reasons, I have gained some valuable insight as to where I would like to focus my attention. We thoroughly enjoyed Santorini and Korfu, and would like to visit them again, as a "destination" trip, rather than a cruise, and spend more time exploring in depth. Also, our shore excursion to the Temple of Neptune outside of Athens was fantastic. Ours was the only bus there for around 2 hours.

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