Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 385 out of 500
Accommodation: 150 out of 200
Food: 270 out of 400
Service: 274 out of 400
Entertainment: 70 out of 100
Cruise: 285 out of 400
Overall Score: 1434 out of 2000
Size: Mid-size Ship
Cruise Line: Holland America Line
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 9230115
Builder: Fincantieri (Italy)
Original Cost: $400 million
Entered Service: Feb 2006
Registry: The Netherlands
Length (ft/m): 935.0/285.0
Beam (ft/m): 105.6/32.2
Draft (ft/m): 25.5/7.8
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (34,000kW)/2 azimuthing pods
Passenger Decks: 11
Total Crew: 820
Passengers (lower beds): 1,924
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 42.7
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.3
Cabins (total): 959
Size Range (sq ft/m): 170.0-1,318.6/15.7-122.5
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 641
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 28
Wheelchair accessibility: Good
Cabin Current: 110 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 2 ( 1 w/sliding glass dome)
Hot Tubs (on deck): 5
Self-Service Launderette: No
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: Yes/170
Onboard currency: US$
A family-friendly ship with traditional Dutch décor
Overview. Noordam features a wide range of public rooms with a reasonably intimate atmosphere and the overall feel of the ship is quite homely and comforting, with fresh flowers everywhere, as well as some nicely showcased Dutch artifacts from the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Ship. Noordam, with 35 cabins more than its close sisters Oosterdam, Westerdam, and Zuiderdam, is one of the Vista-class ships in the Holland America Line (HAL) fleet, designed to appeal to multi-generational holidaymakers. The twin working funnels are the result of the slightly unusual machinery configuration; the ship has, in effect, two engine rooms. A pod propulsion system is provided, so there’s no vibration.
There is a complete walk-around exterior teak promenade deck, with teak steamer-style sunloungers. A jogging track outdoors is located around the mast and the forward third of the ship. Exterior glass elevators provide fine ocean views from any one of 10 decks. One of two swimming pools outdoors has a retractable sliding glass roof. Two hot tubs, adjacent to the swimming pools, are abridged by a bar. There’s also a small swimming pool for children.
The intimate lobby - the ship’s central spot - spans three decks, and is topped by a rotating, Waterford Crystal globe of the world. Adjacent are interior and glass-walled elevators with exterior views. The information desk (on the lobby’s lowest level) is small and somewhat removed from the main passenger flow on the two decks above it.
The interior decor is bright in many areas, and the ceilings are particularly noticeable. A large collection of artwork is a standard feature, and pieces reflect the history of the former Dutch East Indies.
There are two whole entertainment/public room decks, the most dramatic space being a showlounge spanning four decks in the forward section. Other facilities include a winding shopping street with several boutique stores and logo shops, card room, an art gallery, photo gallery, and several small meeting rooms. The large casino is equipped with an array of gaming paraphernalia and slot machines, and you have to walk through it to get from the restaurant to the showlounge.
Explorations is a combination coffee bar (where coffees and other drinks cost extra), lounge, extensive library, and Internet center - it’s a popular area for relaxation and reading, although noise from the coffee machine can interrupt concentration.
On other decks (lower down), you’ll find the Queens Lounge and bar, which acts as a lecture room a Culinary Arts Center, where cooking demonstrations and cooking classes are held.
Gratuities are automatically added to your onboard account. Passenger niggles? These include noisy cabin air conditioning - the flow can’t be regulated or turned off, the only regulation being for temperature control. Also, several pillars obstruct the passenger flow and lines of sight throughout the ship. There are no self-service launderettes, although special laundry packages are available.
Families. Club HAL’s KidZone provides a whole area dedicated to children’s facilities and extensive programming for different age groups (five to 17), with one counselor for every 30 children. Free ice cream is provided at certain hours, plus hot hors d’oeuvres in all bars. Some cabins have interconnecting doors.
Accommodation. There are numerous price categories: 16 outside-view and eight interior. The views from some cabins on the lowest accommodation deck (Main Deck) are obstructed by lifeboats. Some cabins that can accommodate a third and fourth person have very little closet space, and only one personal safe. Occupants of suites get exclusive use of the Neptune Lounge and concierge service, priority embarkation and disembarkation, and other benefits. In many of the suites/cabins with private balconies, the balconies are not so private and can be overlooked from various public locations.
Penthouse Verandah Suites (2). These offer the largest accommodation (1,318 sq ft/123 sq m, including balcony). These have a separate bedroom with a king-size bed, walk-in closet, dressing room, living room, dining room, butler’s pantry, minibar and refrigerator, and private balcony. The main bathroom has a large whirlpool tub, two washbasins, toilet, and plenty of storage space for toiletries. Personalized stationery and free dry cleaning are included, as are hot hors d’oeuvres and other goodies daily.
Deluxe Verandah Suites (60). These suites measure 563 sq ft (53 sq m). They have twin beds that convert to a king-size bed, vanity desk, lounge area, walk-in closet, minibar and refrigerator, and bathroom with full-size tub, washbasin, and toilet.
Verandah Suites (100). Actually they are cabins, not suites, and measure 284 sq ft (26 sq m). Twin beds can convert to a queen-size bed. There is also a lounge area, minibar, and refrigerator, while the bathroom has a tub, washbasin, and toilet. Floor-to-ceiling windows open onto a private balcony.
Outside-view cabins. Standard outside cabins (197 sq ft/18 sq m) have twin beds that can convert to a queen-size bed. There’s a small sitting area, while the bathroom has a tub/shower combination. The interior cabins are slightly smaller (183 sq ft/17 sq m).
Niggles include noisy cabin air conditioning - the flow can’t be regulated or turned off; the only regulation is for temperature control.
Dining. The 1,045-seat Vista Dining Room is two decks high, with seating at tables for two, four, six, or eight on both main and balcony levels, and is at the stern. It provides a traditional HAL dining experience, with friendly service from smiling Indonesian and Filipino stewards. Both open seating and assigned seating are available for dinner, while breakfast and lunch are open seating - you’ll be seated by restaurant staff when you enter.
Kosher meals are available (if requested when you book), although these are prepared ashore, then frozen, and brought to your table sealed in their original containers.
Other dining options. The 148-seat Pinnacle Grill is an upscale dining venue, with better quality ingredients and presentation than in the main dining room. It fronts onto the second level of the atrium lobby on Lower Promenade Deck; tables along its outer section are open to it and can suffer from noise from the Atrium Bar one deck below, though these tables are good for those who like to see and be seen. Pacific Northwest cuisine is featured, with items such as sesame-crusted halibut with ginger-miso, and an array of premium-quality steaks. The wine list includes some fine wines from around the world, including many gorgeous Bordeaux reds. Reservations are required, and there is a cover charge.
For casual eating, go to the Lido Café, an eatery that wraps around the funnel, with indoor-outdoor seating and ocean views. It includes several sections including a salad bar, stir-fry and sushi section, deli sandwiches, and a dessert buffet, although lines can form for made-to-order items.
Also, a poolside ‘Dive-In at the Terrace Grill’ features multi-choice signature burgers (with special Dive-In sauce), hot dogs, and fries.
Entertainment. The 867-seat Vista Lounge is the venue for Las Vegas-style revues and major cabaret shows. The main floor level has a bar in its starboard aft section. Spiral stairways at the back of the lounge connect all levels. Stage shows are best seen from the upper levels, from where the sight lines are decent.
Spa/Fitness. The Greenhouse Spa, a large, two-decks-high health spa, is located directly above the navigation bridge. Facilities include a solarium, hydrotherapy pool, unisex thermal suite - a unisex area incorporating a Laconium (gentle sauna), Hammam (mild steam), and Chamomile Grotto (small aromatic steam room), a beauty salon, 11 private massage/therapy rooms (including one for couples) for body pampering treatments, and a large gymnasium with floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides and forward-facing ocean views, and the latest high-tech muscle-toning equipment. Sports enthusiasts can enjoy a basketball court, volleyball court, and a golf simulator.