Cruise was good. Quality of HAL not quite what I expected

Noordam Cruise Review to Alaska - Gulf of Alaska

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Reviews: 2
Helpful Votes: 79

Overall rating:

4 out of 5
Verified Review
Noordam

7 Night Glacier Discovery Southbound (Seward To Vancouver)

Sail date: July 28, 2019

Ship: Noordam

Cabin type: Balcony

Cabin number: 5110

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 2 years ago

Review summary

We have cruised extensively. This was our 5th HAL cruise. Compared with previous cruises, I think that the overall quality of HAL was lower. Food at the main restaurant was disappointing, both in quality and selection, especially lack of vegetarian options. The restaurant was 1/2 empty for the late seating. Perhaps other guests also found the food not very attractive. Staff were helpful and attentive, but there's little they can do to improve the food. Haines is a poor choice for a visit. Skagway is where the action is. There are many tour choices at each city along the cruise. We found the selection great, prices more reasonable than through reservations, and the quality good with only one exception (the hike and float in Skagway).

Embarkation

3 out of 5
Embarkation was more than a little confusing. It seems few people knew the place and procedure to drop off my luggage at Seward. Most had no idea and referred me to "the boss". The boss was more interested in asking me why I did not have my luggage tags than in helping me drop off my luggage. Really persistent in not answering my simple question. The check in clerk could not find my reservation in his system but luckily he found my wife's. Another series of questions with few answers. Nobody from HAL was supervising check in?

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

2 out of 5
Main dining room food was mediocre. Some tasteless, few choices, under or over cooked. Service was good. The Canaletto restaurant was excellent, good food and service. The Lido buffet was about as good as I expected from a buffet. Not attractive. I must stay, we had much better food in other HAL cruises. Did quality go down or was it just this cruise?

Onboard Activities

4 out of 5
Fitness center is good, sauna and whirlpool good. Other activities are mainly selling opportunities, as usual.

Entertainment

5 out of 5
The ship's performers are outstanding. Dancers are really good, and the choreography was excellent. Much better than average. Other shows on the ship (Piano Bar, Lincoln Center, BB King club) always outstanding. Few off-ship entertainers, but both were good, funny and engaging.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5

Ship Quality

4 out of 5
The ship was cleaned and mostly well maintained. The Noordam sort of shows its age when compared with the newest ships. For instance in the Spa area. The showers' temperature was difficult or impossible to control, other ships have dry saunas and ice rooms, etc. But overall Noordam is well maintained.

Cabin / Stateroom

4 out of 5
Standard balcony cabin, both in size and comfort. Having a bathtub is a plus. Location almost at midship was good. A little obstruction from the rescue boats on Deck 4, but not a bother.

Ship tip

Compared with other cruises on HAL and other lines the officers were not very visible. The Captain and other staff only visited with passengers on limited occasions, which is unusual. Managing by walking around is a well established tradition in HAL and other cruise lines. I recommend cabins on floors 6-8, midship or sunset as most attractive. Deck 10 would be OK but access is a bit funny, as not all elevators or stairs reach that deck.

Ports of call

Seward (Anchorage), Alaska

4 out of 5
Glaciers and whale watching tours. Also the dog sled visit is good as it matches the train arrival. Small town, interesting sights.

Cruise Glacier Bay

5 out of 5

Haines, Alaska

2 out of 5
The main tour attraction depart from Skagway. Other cruise lines and even HAL on the Northward cruise anchor at Skagway. Haines to Skagway is a fast ferry ride, 45 minutes, $75 extra. The state cruise was not running.

Juneau, Alaska

4 out of 5
Good choice of excursions. Whale watching was excellent. The combined Mendenhal glacier was overpriced, since the city bus drops you off and picks you up at the same place for $3.

Ketchikan, Alaska

5 out of 5
Best by far. Pretty town, lots of tour options. Many tours were available and cheaper on the pier. No need to reserve in advance, at least when we were there. I recommend the Zodiac boat tour and the seaplane tours, both arranged on the spot. Since each tour takes 2-3 hours, you can fit both in a day. Amazing to water land on Misty Fjord.

Cruise Inside Passage, Alaska

5 out of 5

Disembarkation

5 out of 5
Smooth, fast, efficient. Canadian customs was a breeze.
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