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pattie623

Just Home From The Noordam

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Here is an update from our cruise on the Noordam from Nov. 15-25th:

 

Arrival in NYC: Always double check your paperwork at the counter before you leave. If you do express check in, the line is much longer than the non-express. We waited for about 30 minutes in the express line while people in the non-express went right on through. Once I got the cards for my children so they could actually get on the ship with us (because they never issued them and we found out after we waited in line to get on the ship and had to return to the desk to have it fixed) we were on the ship and ready to lunch.

 

The ship left port on time but it was so dark because the sun was down, we really couldn't see the Statue of Liberty and it was so foggy we could see the tops of the tall buildings.

 

1) The children's programs sent a schedule for the day but when my 9 year old son showed up for the scheduled activity that he wanted to do, they were doing something else. They were not very well organized nor did they watch the children much. Everytime I went to check on my son, he had signed himself out and I was left searching for him. Sometimes when I would check in, one counselor looked like she was falling asleep in a bean bag while the other was playing or coloring by herself.

 

2) The food was good. My family found the Lido to be the best for families that like to sit and have a family meal. The main dinning room is too much for some children to handle. I liked the fact that you can get more food in the Lido if you want more. They served the same foods as the main dinning room so it was nice, plus the kids could get apple juice with their dinner in the Lido and you had a bigger variety of desserts!

 

3) Shows: I saw a couple of the shows. The magician was good. I also really enjoyed the singing and dancing of the HAL cast. I did not see the comedian or the piano players, but heard they were good.

 

4) Grand Turk: LOVED the beach! I loved the fact that the beach was RIGHT there! And Margaritaville was also RIGHT there and they had a pool for those who didn't want to swim in the ocean. The DJ that was working there was great. You could hear him on the beach as well. The sodas were $2 and they had FREE refills there! It was worth it for me with the kids and cheaper than on the ship. The shops were small and nice. The Del Sol Shop is on every island except Tortola, but they do not all carry the same thing so if you see something and want it, get it! I learned from my mistake (this is the store that carries everything that changes color in the sun).

 

5) Tortola: The only thing I can comment about on this island was the Dolphin Encounter. It was good but I thought we didn't have enough time with them. By the time you got ready and in the water, you only had about 20 minutes with them. Everyone in the group had to take turns. So by the time everyone had a turn, you really only had 5 individual minutes. We got to pet them, then there was the kiss, then we swam out and grabbed onto their fins for a drag, then danced with them for a second, then it was one last swim past us to pet them goodbye and it was over. I did the swim not the encounter, which cost more money and then the video was $50.

 

6) St. Maarten: We shopped. If you have long hair, you will hear alot of "would you like your hair braided?" The more we said no,the more they would insist that you want it, but it was ok. The shopping was nice. The stores were clean and the staff was friendly. We took a taxi to the main shopping area and then walked our walk through the main shopping and back to the ship.

 

7) St. Thomas: We wanted to go to the beach on our own but found out that it was $8 per person to take a taxi to the best beach. With a family of six, we would have had to sell a kidney to be able to go. Plus it was $3 per person to get onto the beach. So, we shopped again instead. The shops that are right there by the peir were nice. We got a few things and then went back to the ship and enjoyed the lido pool for a couple of hours instead.

 

8) San Juan: Better than I expected! Walking to the stores was easy but uphill all the way! The roads are all one way and the stores that were there were all very nice. There was even a McDonalds and Pizza Hut.

 

We had an ok sail home. The last night was very bumpy and rocky. They had to close the pools because the water was splashing out over the sides.

 

There was an emergency on our ship the night before we got to Grand Turk. A man needed blood so the captain came over the speaker to inform us that he had to stop the ship because the coast guard was dropping off blood and medical supplies for him. We saw the plane make the drop and the boat pick it up and then we were sailing again. Then at midnight, a helicopter came and we found out that the man was bleeding internally and had to be airlifted from the ship. It was the talk of the ship for days.

 

Well,that is about it....sorry it was long. If you have any questions, please ask and I will read daily and answer.

 

Pattie, NJ

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Hi, thanks for writing the review. I'm a bit concerned about your experience with Club Hal. I just booked the Noordam for February vacation and we have 2 daughters who are 4 and 6 yo. They've been on several cruises before and have always loved going to the kids programs. Did you have children in the younger group? I know the schedule sometimes gets changed--has happened to us on every cruise we've had kids in the program--but counselors sleeping on the job has me very concerned. Would appreciate any additional information you can share.

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Pattie--

 

Thanks for checking in - your review wasn't too long at all - sometimes more is better.

;)

 

I'm surprised at the ClubHAL - I certainly hope you had a discussion with the front desk or at least made a note of it on your comment cards.

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The younger kids group was very organized and very well run. I watched them do activities during the day in other areas of the ship. One night they all made their own pirate costumes and had their pictures taken where we had our formal pictures taken. They were so cute! And while they were waiting, the counselor read them a story so they were not bored. That group was BIG too. They all seemed to have a really good time though. I really don't think you will have ANYTHING to worry about in that age group at all.

 

I did write something on my comment card about the Club Hal experience. I was not happy with the way things were run for the older kids. Even the teens in the Loft got out of hand one day and there was no counselor to be found and when they did show up, they caught a couple of boys having a food fight and kicked all of them out for the day.

 

Pattie

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We are arriving in NYC three days before cruise in February. How was he crossing going from NYC to Grand Turk. Am worrying a little already.

Kimmy UK.

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Pattie, thanks so much for the quick reply. Yes, you have put my mind at ease. We haven't been on HAL before so any information is very much appreciated. :)

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After reading your review I realized that you have basically described every cruise I've been on! Two ways to look at things, I guess... Seriously, I don't know how I manage to have these wonderful and wild times- even traveling with a bunch of kids- when I am doing EXACTLY what you did: giving up on the main dining room after a while, "shopping" because I don't have the energy (or money) to do more after three ports (ok, more of an issue when I have five kids with me), avoiding hair braiders....

 

You have just put the fear of boredom in me and I am determined to get a plan for every port now (NOT dolphin swims, though). Last cruise DH and I just kind of drifted around. When I am with kids I'm zip lining, cave tubing, etc.

 

Any suggestions? St. Thomas will definitely be the beach, and San Juan is a short trip- and I have friends there- so I don't need any plans for there. I just need to make Grand Turk, Tortola and St. Maarten something better than

 

just

 

another

 

straw

 

market.

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