We won't sail on the Noordam again!
Noordam Cruise Review to Caribbean
Cabin Type: Inside
Traveled As: Couple
Reviewed: 8 years ago
We booked a 10 day cruise on Holland America's ship the Noordam out of Ft. Lauderdale. The clientele on Holland America are all older which means things are quiet with no kids running around screaming. But passenger motion tends to be on the slow side.
We got spoiled on the Volendam which we were on in 2006. A smaller ship with better amenities. On our 2006 cruise we actually had free soft drinks on board, a self service laundry and it was relatively uncrowded. On this latest cruise they simply had too many people on board. There was a line for everything. For laundry you were given a one square foot bag that you were supposed to cram your dirty clothes into and pay $20 to have them launder it. No self service laundry. What a rip-off. We took our laundry to the beach and got $40 worth of laundry done for $8 at a laundry in St. Maarten where we rented a car. Soft drinks on board are $1.85 so we bought some cokes on the beach and brought them back. Can you imagine drinking only ice water, ice tea, hot tea or hot chocolate for 10 days? Those were the free drinks. Even the bottled water in the rooms was $3 for a one quart bottle!
They are doing their absolute best to suck money out of your wallet. The shore excursions were as usual incredibly expensive. How about $80 per person (PP) to go snorkeling? Much cheaper to rent a car and drive yourself or take a taxi or shuttle. Trouble is you have no idea what is available on shore when you get off. Are there beaches you can get to, snorkel somewhere, rent a car, take a bus, or only shopping? So you encounter these fly by night guys at the pier who you have no idea will rob you or show you a nice time for a fraction of the charge the cruise line would charge. On Barbados for instance the ship charged $30 PP to get to the beach. But the shuttle on the dock would take you for only $8 round trip.
The good news is that the food on Holland America is excellent. Lobster tails for dinner or king crab legs. Lamb, duck, great steaks. etc with no limit on how much you can eat. The dining room meals every day were like dining in a fine restaurant with excellent service which could easily set you back $100 for dinner for two with tip. The staff is mostly from Indonesia and they are very pleasant and friendly and they work very hard. One guy said he had to work until 11 PM every day and get up at 0600. It's a good job for people from Indonesia. We figured they made more than $100 per day which is a fabulous sum for them. You are charged $11 per day PP for tips for the staff although you can opt out if you like but they deserve the money which Holland America says is "a significant portion of their income." I recommend "open seating" for dinner since that gives you a option of a table for two or you can join others. We did meet a lot of nice folks at dinner and around the ship.
Food and Dining
Service and Staff
Cabin / Stateroom
Pros: Holland America food is wonderful
Cons: Free drink selection is the worst!