March 2015 - Noordam to Caribbean - Southern
This was our first cruise on Holland America Line (HAL.) We are a middle-aged (55 & 60) long-term (20+) gay male couple. We had heard that HAL was for "older" people, and had a reputation for being "stodgy", but what we found was a more mature behavior, a bit more formality, and we liked it. A better class of people than we have seen on other lines. Even though we usually keep mostly to ourselves (we're not outgoing,) when we were out and about, we were treated with complete dignity and respect.
The decor on the Noordam was understated elegance. The food was the best we've had on a cruise. We especially appreciated the made-for-you items in the "buffet" restaurant. And the itinerary was fantastic. I really love warm, sunny, clean, safe tropical beaches and I was not disappointed. Half Moon Cay is a treasure! And Cayo Levantado in Dominican Republic was a nice surprise.
The only minor complaints...
Why *DO* they close the pools and hot tubs so early? Why do they close them at all? Other lines don't.
There were not enough shore excursions on Curacao and Aruba, and they filled up very early. Even just the "Beach Escape". Book the first instant you can!
While the Noordam is beautiful, it's showing it's age. I'm sure that will be remedied during its April 2016 dry dock.
Alternative dining was not available as often or as long as we would have liked. Too often, we would return from a shore excursion very hungry, only to find most things closed. And full dinner only from 6-8 PM???