We have just returned from a great cruise on the Noordam. Contrary to what I have read over the past twelve months the Noordam is in great shape with no smells!! etc. Sure there is a slight vibration at the back of the Lido but really we are on a ship, not a shore based hotel. We were one of the first to board the ship on embarkation day so we were able to have a good look around. The ship has is in spotless condition with new carpets etc.
We were in a mini-suite which was very comfortable with a king size bed. I felt the bed on the first day and noticed it was extremely hard so our steward put an egg crate mattress on top and it was fine. Among the perks of a mini-suite were champagne on arrival, flowers in the room, free laundry and pressing and an invitation to the Captains Suite luncheon which was held in the Crows Nest and was delightful.
We had perfect weather except for two hours of drizzle in Antwerp. The ports of call were all good and we saw some lovely villages including Brugge, Honfleur and Canterbury.
We were on second sitting which for this itinerary was a must and our table mates were delightful.
The crew were outstanding and Captain Peter Visser is a very capable Captain of many years experience and was most cautious with his ship. We used to watch him dock and depart from shore most days from the Crows nest and it was most interesting to watch.
Holland America has to be congratulated on the organization of disembarkation. They have it down pat. We had arranged our own transport so we were able to leave any time after 8am and we did just that. Our cases were sitting waiting for us and everything ran so smoothly. It is actually an anticlimax when you walk down the gangplank for the last time.
I would definitely sail on the lovely old Noordam if the itinerary was what we wanted and at the time we wanted. She is a grand ship.
We felt Peter Visser did a great job with the ship. He has had years of experience with the Merchant Navy in the Baltic. We heard from a another officer that the storm in Sweden in August, which has been written about endlessly on the boards blew up very suddenly. It was forecast for later that evening, certainly not in the morning or early afternoon. It was probably the same storm that the Rotterdam encountered.
We have booked the Prinsendam for next year and are looking forward to seeing the ports of the Black Sea and the Adriatic Coast.
I'm glad you like the Noordam. We were on the ship in Feb and loved it too. I also heard all the bad thinks about the ship on the boards. We never had any problems eather. We did have a hard bed but never thought to ask the steward about it. The ship had flowers thru out the ship. We also had a mini-suite with all the perks that you said.
We sailed the Noordam in Jan of this year. We were able to stretch the 14 day Southern Carrib. to 16 days as the ship was in dry docks here in Mobile Al. and we were able to board here and had 2 sea days to Tampa. We were tempted to take the same cruise again this next year,but settled for the Rotterdam and the Panama Canal. If it is as enjoyable as the Noordam great.
I would love to sail on the Noordam. Sad to say, it sure looks like she will be replaced by a bigger ship with countless verandas and so on. In 2002 it was the 85,700 ton Zuiderdam, in 03 the 85,700 ton Oosterdam, in 04 the "new" Westerdam at 85,700. In both 05 and 06 there will be a new Vista ship coming out each year. My guess is that 2005 or 6 will be the christening of the "new" Noordam.
West = West
Do I see a pattern here?
I totally agree with your opinion of the Noordam. We have been on her twice and LOVED the food and service both times. We did Eastern and Western Med on her.
Just one word of advice (which we found out the hard way). Any room below Category C has TWIN BEDS which are not moveable to be a Queen/King. So if sleeping together with your mate is important, get a Category A, B, or C. These are the "suites" levels, but have no balcony.
Yes we booked the Prinsendam whilst we were on the Noordam. We also have been to Athens, Istanbul, Kusadasi and Santorin but we wanted to see the Black Sea ports and also Dubrovnik and Split. We have always wanted to sail into Venice instead of arrivng by train and this was the ideal cruise for us and October suited us as well.
Because we were Mariners we did get a shipboard credit each and of course our TA is watching the price in case it goes down. But as you say, the Prinsendam is a very special ship and the prices are higher than some of the other HAL ships.
I have to disagree about Categories B and C being suite level. The only suite level on the Noordam is A which are the mini-suites and they are the only ones with the perks, such as free drycleaning, laundry and ironing, bottle of champers on arrival, refrigerator in room, minibar and a king size bed (the others have queen) and the invitation to the Captain's lunch.
Our tablemates were in a B and they did not get any of our priveleges and their cabin was smaller with the bed under the window whereas ours came out from the wall and we had a very nice sitting area at the window.
We are looking forward to our trip next year as we will be going to two of our favourite cities, Venice and post cruise, a wonderful week in Paris.