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frbob

Recent Noordam experience

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My Mate and I just returned from a cruise-tour booked through a travel group that will remain nameless. This included 20 days back to back on the Noordam in the Med.

 

I've never booked a cruise-tour before and may not ever again. Many problems. The tour company never notified HAL of our Copper Medallion Mariner status, they totally messed up our dining room preferences and didn't deliver our documents until 2 days before departure (HAL's fault I'm told). We booked the lowest priced cruise-tour available at the time which included an inside stateroom on Noordam. Big mistake. I am very familiar with HAL's staterooms and, while I have never cruised in one of their insides, I've seen plenty and found them to be nice sized. Not necessarily so on Noordam.

 

Their "standard" size inside is tiny, maybe 140 sq ft. HAL's site on the Noordam says the standards and large insides are from 183 to 207 sq ft. Not so. No couch, only one chair (no room for anything else) and very narrow closet area. No place to enjoy room service for any meals or snacks. More of a "cell" than a cabin.

 

Worst accommodation I've ever had on any cruise ship. Yes, it was my fault. I made the booking and had to live with the consequences. Funny thing is, a good number of folks in our tour group were upgraded, most of whom had never cruised with HAL before. So much for Mariner status. Kinda frustrating.

 

And so much for my rantings. The agenda was terrific and the weather (MAY) was perfect throughout the cruise-tour. Plus, my Mate was her usual wonderful self and we had a great time soaking up the local atmosphere in every port-of-call.

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Dear frbob,

I'm curious to learn what kind of communication and cruise info the company (not HAL) provided for you in order for you to make an informed choice on your accomodations.

Just being on this board and planning my first cruise on a Vista-class ship (many times with HAL on S and R ships), I have realized that the cabins on Vista ships are considerably smaller than on S and R. I just learned jesterday about the lack of a sitting area in many of the inside cabins.

The late arrival of documents is a frequent concern on HAL, it has always been this way as long as we've been with them, but not on European cruises. Those docs always arrived 4 to 6 weeks before cruise date.

Do you feel that you were able to make an informed choice? If not, did you go on past experiences? I'm leery of making assumptions in any instance because I'm usually disappointed so I really investigate the options before booking. I have made mistakes even if I've been on the same ship before so I'm gun-shy.

I'm glad you enjoyed the Noordam b2b in Europe. HAL usually does a very good job in this market. I think the problem you encountered is based on lack of information. Some tour companies do not volunteer much and some reps are not as knowledgeable as they are paid to be.

Don't trust anyone to give you everything you should know. Ask until you're satisfied with the answers you get.

GN

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FRBOB - I'm sorry you were misled on cabin sizes. Before the launch of the Noordam I had some questions about cabin sizes and got different, conflicting answers on many occasions. I suppose this can be attributed to the fact that it's a new ship and was not "exactly" like the other Vistas. Anyway...that being said...could you expand a little on the places you went? There's another thread somewhere asking for info on the Eastern Med ports. To my knowledge, no one posted an answer. I'm going in September and would love to know a little more. Thanks!

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Bob,

 

Sorry to hear about your accomodations :( .

 

I asked a while ago for information on the eastern med. cruise - we will be leaving in 2 weeks.

 

I would love to read a review before we leave in just 3 weeks.

 

Some of my questions are:

Which ports are tendered port?

 

Where does the ship dock on some of the Greek Islands: Corfu, Olympia, and Santorini?

 

Were there really 3 formal nights or did they cancel 1?

 

Must sees while in port and which things you might want to skip?

 

Any recommendations for private tours?

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I'm a veteran of many an inside cabin, and have sailed the Noordam. Here's the scoop---

 

The cabins on the Vista class ships are generally smaller than a comparable category on an S- or R-class ship.

At least on the S- and R-class ships there are two types of inside cabin: the "large" inside and the "standard" inside. The large is quite adequate in size, and in some cases is even larger than some outside cabins. The standard can nicely be described as a "cabinette".

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Dear frbob,

I'm curious to learn what kind of communication and cruise info the company (not HAL) provided for you in order for you to make an informed choice on your accomodations.

Just being on this board and planning my first cruise on a Vista-class ship (many times with HAL on S and R ships), I have realized that the cabins on Vista ships are considerably smaller than on S and R. I just learned jesterday about the lack of a sitting area in many of the inside cabins.

The late arrival of documents is a frequent concern on HAL, it has always been this way as long as we've been with them, but not on European cruises. Those docs always arrived 4 to 6 weeks before cruise date.

Do you feel that you were able to make an informed choice? If not, did you go on past experiences? I'm leery of making assumptions in any instance because I'm usually disappointed so I really investigate the options before booking. I have made mistakes even if I've been on the same ship before so I'm gun-shy.

I'm glad you enjoyed the Noordam b2b in Europe. HAL usually does a very good job in this market. I think the problem you encountered is based on lack of information. Some tour companies do not volunteer much and some reps are not as knowledgeable as they are paid to be.

Don't trust anyone to give you everything you should know. Ask until you're satisfied with the answers you get.

GN

Grannynurse, thanks for your insights. I am aware of the general differences between Vista and other classes of vessels in the HAL fleet. HAL provided no information about staterooms on the Noordam prior to the time I booked this cruise-tour. HAL posted Noordam stateroom info on their web site a few weeks before my cruise began. It is there that they say the size of the standard insides is 183 -207 sq ft. This late info made me feel good about my booking. I had cruised on Westerdam before and thought I had enough info and experience to make a decent choice, but apparently I goofed. Nevertheless, info provided by HAL was very poor, incorrect or non-existent and the tour operator added no info at all. Bottom line is I GOOFED! After all is said and done, it's my fault. I'm hoping my bad experience will alert others to the potential for disappointment. MY ADVISE...DON'T BOOK A STANDARD INSIDE CABIN ON NOORDAM. IT IS REALLY, REALLY SMALL!!! It may be OK for a "single", but not recommended for double occupancy.

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FRBOB - I'm sorry you were misled on cabin sizes. Before the launch of the Noordam I had some questions about cabin sizes and got different, conflicting answers on many occasions. I suppose this can be attributed to the fact that it's a new ship and was not "exactly" like the other Vistas. Anyway...that being said...could you expand a little on the places you went? There's another thread somewhere asking for info on the Eastern Med ports. To my knowledge, no one posted an answer. I'm going in September and would love to know a little more. Thanks!

 

The Noordam agendas were terrific. The Western Med cruise stopped in Monte Carlo, Livorno (Florence and Pisa), Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, La Goulette (Tunisia), Palermo and Naples. The ship also did some scenic cruising off the coast of Corsica. Eastern Med stops were Dubrovnik, Corfu, Kataklon (Olympia), Santorini, Kusadasi (Ephesus), Valletta (Malta) and Messina. Scenic cruising included Stromboli (volcano) and the Straights of Messina.

 

Noordam was docked in all ports except Dubrovnik and Santorini. In Monte Carlo, we tendered into the port upon arrival but the ship later tied up to the new cruise ship dock, so we didn't have to tender back to the ship. Be aware, in all tender operation, priority is given to those who are on ship's excursions. If you're independantly touring or visiting a tendered port, you may be in for long line and significant delays.

 

In ports where we docked, many were located long distances from city centers. Most ports had excellent public transportation available close by, but the ship was not readily giving out this info. In Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona, Valletta, and Corfu, they offered a RT shuttle at $12 pp for a scheduled transfer into town, which limited your stay to a max of 4 hours.

 

Hope this has been helpful. Let me know if you have any other questions.

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Bob,

 

Sorry to hear about your accommodations :( .

 

I asked a while ago for information on the eastern med. cruise - we will be leaving in 2 weeks.

 

I would love to read a review before we leave in just 3 weeks.

 

Some of my questions are:

Which ports are tendered port?

 

Where does the ship dock on some of the Greek Islands: Corfu, Olympia, and Santorini?

 

Were there really 3 formal nights or did they cancel 1?

 

Must sees while in port and which things you might want to skip?

 

Any recommendations for private tours?

Joni, please see my post in response to questions by Mushroom, above. Some of your questions (docking, tendering) are answered there.

 

Formal nights: Yes, there are 3 formal nights, but one of them is listed as "informal optional", so in essence, there are really just 2 formal nights per 10 day agenda.

 

Must sees: Subjective though it may be, here goes:

For the Eastern Med cruise, Ephesus (Kusadasi) is a must...spectacular. We used a private tour company to see Ephesus...Sammy's Travel (http://www.*****). They did an outstanding job at considerably less cost then the ship's tour, and we were only four people. Our guide spoke great English and was a couple of months short of her PHD in Art and Cultural History...very knowledgeable. We were met at the dock at our reserved time and off we went.

Dubrovnik is fascinating. You must walk the wall around the town. Great views and picture taking.

I didn't go to Olympia (Katakolon). I heard mixed reviews from some who took the ship's tours. Compared to Ephesus, it's not much to see. But I have no first hand knowledge about that. The town of Katakolon is small but cute. Excellent food and beverages are served in about a half dozen or so nice waterfront restaurants. Shopping is "tourist" class.

Messina is a nice (but short) stop. The town is not very large and can be easily seen. Excursions to Taormina and Mt. Etna are offered and may be worth your time and money. Taormina is a neat place. Weather (low clouds) is a consideration for a trip to Mt. Etna, especially if you want to see anything.

Santorini...everything is a must see. Beautiful island. We rented a car at Athenos Port and drove all around the island, tip to tip, for 30 Euro, gas included. I'm told there are better deals then that. Cars can easily be rented in the central town of Fira. The town of Oia at the far end of the island is a must see...more spectacular than Fira and less touristy. More art shops, less junk shops.

Valletta, Malta is also a jewel and easily seen independently on foot. Excursions are offered to other medieval towns on Malta, but Valletta has all the history I needed for this interesting island.

 

I hope this has been helpful.

 

Bob

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Wonderful, helpful posts. Thank you so much. So much helpful information. Sounds like a really outstanding itinerary and cruise.

 

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I hope this has been helpful.

 

Bob

 

Bob,

 

Thanks so very much your posts have been most helpful - we leave 2 weeks from today. I tried to book w/ Sammy but until July he is only doing tours everyother day and we will be in Turkey on the off day. Have booked another private tour though.

 

Where exactly was the car rental company you used in Santorini - right where the tender dropped you off or did you have to take the donkey/cable car up the mountain? I am hoping to pre-book something not sure exactly where to get the car.

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Bob,

 

Thanks so very much your posts have been most helpful - we leave 2 weeks from today. I tried to book w/ Sammy but until July he is only doing tours everyother day and we will be in Turkey on the off day. Have booked another private tour though.

 

Where exactly was the car rental company you used in Santorini - right where the tender dropped you off or did you have to take the donkey/cable car up the mountain? I am hoping to pre-book something not sure exactly where to get the car.

Joni, we booked our car at Athenos Port. I believe it was Thrifty Car Rental. We hitched a ride (stowed away) on a tender filled with excursion people. Athenos is the only place with road access to the seaport. There are several car rental agencies at Athenos Port, just steps away from the tender landing. Tenders for independent guests go to Fira and drop off passengers right by the cable car and donkey transport location. To rent a car in Fira you have to go to the top of the hill (by cable car, donkey or long walk) and then out to the "main" street where cars and buses run. Then, of course, you have to find a car rental office. Ask around...you shouldn't have any difficulty finding a car. By the way, have a great trip.

 

Bob

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Thanx for all the info...

 

I am nervous aboutsmall rooms, but hope all goes well.

 

We have booked tours in

Dubrovnik

Katakolon

Santroini

Kusadasi

 

 

Can someone clarify if we can easily visit Corfu alone and on foot?

 

Looks like we can plan Valetta on foot.

 

Messina's tours are not limited, so we can book those last minute.

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I'm a veteran of many an inside cabin, and have sailed the Noordam. Here's the scoop---

 

The cabins on the Vista class ships are generally smaller than a comparable category on an S- or R-class ship.

At least on the S- and R-class ships there are two types of inside cabin: the "large" inside and the "standard" inside. The large is quite adequate in size, and in some cases is even larger than some outside cabins. The standard can nicely be described as a "cabinette".

Thanks for the good info RuthC. You're right about all cabins on Vista class ships being smaller. Your description of "standard" inside cabins on R and S Class ships as "cabinette" sized brought a smile to my face. You are easily more diplomatic than I. Now, take that "cabinette" and chop a few more sq ft out and you have a standard inside "cabinet" on Noordam...and perhaps all the Vista Class ships.

 

In my case, it certainly would have been helpful to know this in advance. MY BAD!

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So sorry about your cabin.

 

But certainly glad to hear that you enjoyed the 20 days in the Med. It's been awhile since we have been there.

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Thanx for all the info...

 

I am nervous aboutsmall rooms, but hope all goes well.

 

We have booked tours in

Dubrovnik

Katakolon

Santroini

Kusadasi

 

 

Can someone clarify if we can easily visit Corfu alone and on foot?

 

Looks like we can plan Valetta on foot.

 

Messina's tours are not limited, so we can book those last minute.

Corfu is definitely doable on foot. My Mate and I walked from the ship to the old town in about 20 - 25 minutes. Once in the old town, walking is the only way to get around. Think of all those calories you'll be burning!

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Your description reminds me of my one and only inside cabin.....many years ago on the Cunard Countess. It was my second or third cruise, and my friend and I decided to try an inside and save an extra $100. What a mistake! When we opened the door and I walked into that cabin, I thought I was going to have a panic attack. I felt like I had walked into someone's closet.....in fact, I think the walk-in closet I have today is more spacious.

 

That was a good lesson for me....and to this day I scrutinize deck plans to try to find the most space available for the money. I was a little disappointed that HAL decided to scale down their rooms on the Vista class ships. The S & R classes are so comfortable in comparison....but I guess that's business today.

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Yes, we to had an inside cabin on a last-minute RCCL ship - and stuffed our two teenage daughters in there with us! What mistake! Won't do that again!

 

Bob, thanks for all the info. It is really helpful! We'll be on the Noordam in just a few days .. and can't wait! (This time we have a balcony!)

 

Happy sailing ...............

 

Gail

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Hi

 

I am travelling on the Noordam over the Christmas period and have upgraded from a MM cabin to a HH cabin, so to an outside with obstructed view, does anybody know the sqft for this catogory of cabin?

 

As I am starting to panic, as the HAL website says different from choosingcruising and my travel agent.

 

I am worried because I am travelling with my parents and have booked this cabin for them aswell.

 

Kind Regards

Cruisebrit

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Hi Bob,

 

And thanks for a great review. I find it very refreshing that you admit that your choice of cabin was a mistake and that it was your own fault. So many would have blamed everyone but themselves.;)

 

I honestly had not been thinking about a Med cruise since I live on the west coast and loathe flying and Heaven knows that's a looooong flight but your descriptions of your adventures have me thinking that maybe a Med cruise will be in my future plans.

 

Thanks again, I really enjoyed all of your posts.

 

Valerie:)

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hey, I went to the HAL site and it says for large and standard inside on the Noordam and on the Volendam 182 sq ft; they do have *note:eek: . Duhhh, that is a problem.

 

thanks for the heads up.

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