This was a 13-night cruise from Aukland, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia.
The Noordam is a Vista class ship which entered service in 2006. It is 936 feet long and has a beam of 105.8 feet. The ship carries 1,924 passengers, has a speed of 24 knots and a gross tonnage of 86,318. The Noordam has two cylindrical funnels adorned with the old Holland America Line logo of the sailing ship Halve Maen (Half Moon) superimposed upon the stylized bow of the Nieuw Amsterdam of 1938. The Noordam has four sister ships: Holland America's Oosterdam, Westerdam and Zuiderdam and. P&O Cruises' Arcadia. Two Cunard line ships, Queen Victoria of 2007 and Queen Elizabeth of 2010, are also versions of the Vista design, but they differ in several respects from the Holland America Line ships. For instance, the Cunard ships are 27 feet longer, have only one funnel and do not have a magrodome roof over the mid-ship pool.
Our cabin was on Deck 7, Rotterdam Deck, one deck below and four cabins aft of the port bridge wing. Also on Deck 7 was the Neptune Lounge, reserved for those in the Neptune and Pinnacle Suites.
Above the bridge, on Deck 9, is the Greenhouse Spa and Salon and the Fitness Club. Walking aft on Deck 9, you arrive mid-ship at the Lido Pool and Lido Bar, which are covered by a magrodome roof, followed by the Lido Market, a portion of which on the starboard side becomes the Canaletto Restaurant at night. The Sea View Pool and Sea View Bar are at the stern.
The Crow’s Nest Lounge on Deck 10 overlooks the bow.
A Sports Court is on Deck 11, aft of the second funnel.
The main public rooms are located on Decks 2 and 3. On Deck 3 forward is the Vista Lounge, the principal theater on board for production shows, comedians and performing artists. This theater extends from Deck 3 down to Deck 1. Walking aft on Deck 3, you will find the Explorations Café, which also serves as a library and internet center, the shops, the Ocean Bar on the port side, the photo gallery and the upper level of the Vista Dining Room.
On Deck 2, aft of the Vista Lounge, are the Casino on the port side with the Piano Bar and Sports Bar on the starboard side, the Northern Lights Nightclub on the port side, America’s Test Kitchen, which converts to B.B. King’s Blues Club at night, the Pinnacle Grill on the port side of the Atrium and the Pinnacle Bar on the starboard side, and the Art Gallery, Lincoln Center Stage, Explorer’s Lounge and the Digital Workshop on the starboard side. At the stern is the lower level of the Vista Dining Room. On several days during our cruise, there were concerts in Lincoln Center Stage featuring a pianist and string quartet playing classical music and show tunes. These proved to be so popular that some passengers sat in the Explorer’s Lounge to hear the concert.
On Deck 1, surrounding the base of the three-deck high atrium, are the Future Cruise Office, the EXC Tours desk, the Atrium Bar and Guest Services.
We took a taxi to the port to board Noordam. The terminal on the east side of Queens Wharf from which we boarded was an older structure, which had only been partially modernized. A newer, more modern, serpentine-shaped terminal served the west side of Queens Wharf. Although Holland America Line had requested passengers to delay their arrival at the pier, we found the terminal very crowded, with people coming directly from the airports or required to vacate their hotel rooms. As a result, there were several long lines and some confusion until sufficient shoreside personnel were added to deal with the crowd.
On our cruise, the Captain of the Noordam was Eric M. J. van der Wal, a Dutchman now living in Seattle Washington and the Staff Captain was Kyriakos Karras from Greece. The Cruise Director was Benjamin L. Yates and the Hotel Director was Mark L. Pells. There were 1,830 passengers, with approximately 1,000 from America, 400 from Canada, 100 from Great Britain and the rest from a variety of countries
A daily program, When and Where, is provided every night in the cabins. This program details the events of the following day. (See our daily programs page). Daily news summaries and crossword puzzles are available at Guest Services.
There are two fixed seatings in the main dining room, the Vista Dining Room, one at 5:30 PM and one at 7:45 PM. We opted for anytime dining, allowing us to dine when we chose. In practice, this worked very well, as we rarely had to wait more than two minutes for a table for two. The downside to anytime dining is that the servers do not get to know your preferences. Also, we occasionally had rather slow service. The food was generally very good, although more than once a meat entree ordered welldone was served rare.
The décor in the Vista Dining Room is predominantly dark red and maroon, making the room appear closed-in, especially around its central staircase.
One night during our cruise we chose to dine in the Canaletto Restaurant. This restaurant serves Italian cuisine for the modest supplement of $15 per person. We found the food and wine to be very good and the service was excellent.
* David G. Hume is past chairman of the World Ship Society PONY Branch, Mr. Hume has been on more than 80 cruises and crossings as well as numerous ship visits."
The first week of our cruise was port intensive, with consecutive daily stops at Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Akaroa and Port Chalmers. We were able to dock in all ports except for Akaroa, where the ship’s tenders were used to convey passengers to shore. Akaroa was the port from which buses were available to Christchurch, which had been severely damaged by an earthquake on February 22, 2011. The traditional port for visiting Christchuch is Littleton, but the facilities there have not yet been repaired from the damage done by the earthquake. Port Chalmers was the port for a visit to Dunedin. During our port visits we were fortunate to have sunny, warm weather.
Our first port of call, Tauranga, was the starting point for tours to Rotorua and to the Hobbiton movie set, for fans of the Lord of the Rings movies. We elected to take a shuttle into Tauranga to walk around the town. The Europa sailed in after we had docked and moored directly ahead of the Noordam.
On Wednesday, we docked in Napier, where the Regatta of Oceania Cruises had arrived earlier. The city of Napier was largely destroyed by an earthquake in 1931. When it was reconstructed, many of the new buildings were built in the then fashionable art deco style. We took a shuttle into town and enjoyed looking at the well-maintained historic buildings.
The next port was Wellington, where we were the only visiting ship. Here again we took a shuttle into town. We went into St. Paul’s Cathedral and the National Library of New Zealand, where we saw a Maori welcome celebration in honor of a visiting English politician. We then toured the Botanic Gardens.
The next day, we anchored in the harbor of Akaroa, where again we were the only ship. Here we elected to take a bus to Christchurch to see first hand how the city had rebounded from the earthquake of 2011. We saw many new buildings, but also many parking lots and other open spaces where buildings had once been. We also saw the severe damage done to ChristChurch Cathedral, the Anglican cathedral, in the center of the city, and to Christchurch Basilica, the Catholic church. Neither had been repaired. A decision has been made not to restore the Basilica. We visited the Canterbury Museum and walked through the adjacent Botanic Gardens. Before leaving, we toured the Christchurch Art Gallery.
On Saturday, we docked in Port Chalmers alongside the Golden Princess. We took a tour to Dunedin for an overview of the town, a visit to Olveston House, an Edwardian mansion, and a stroll through the Botanical Gardens. Upon our return to Port Chalmers, we visited its Maritime Museum.
Following five straight days of touring, we had three days at sea. The first was spent cruising through Fjordland National Park. We transited Dusky Sound and Doubtful Sound and then entered Milford Sound, where we saw the Stirling and Bowen waterfalls. The day was mostly overcast and misty, but it did not rain and the fjords were tranquil. Of the three sounds, only Milford Sound has permanent residents.
The next two days were spent crossing the Tasman Sea to Hobart, Tasmania, a separate island which is part of Australia. The crossing was done at an average speed of 14-15 knots. The weather was overcast and the sea was moderately rough, with swells of three to six meters. The ship pitched through the sea and sometimes shuddered as it hit the waves, but there was very little rolling – the stabilizers doing their job well.
The sky in Hobart was slightly overcast when we docked, but the sun came out for the rest of the day. We toured the port area and stopped for a quick look at the Maritime Museum, which featured sailing ships, navy ships and cargo ships, but not cruise ships or ocean liners. We also took a ferry to MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art. This museum has an eclectic mix of avant-garde artistic works, but very few traditional works of art. The emphasis was on set pieces and artful arrangements rather than paintings or sculptures.
We had another day at sea before arriving in Melbourne, on the southern coast of Australia. The morning was overcast and cool with dark clouds covering the sky. By the time we went ashore, the sun was shining brightly and it was warm. We took a tram directly from the port into the city and visited the Flinders Street Railway Station, the Shrine of Remembrance, a war memorial, and the Royal Botanic Gardens. We took another tram to see the Royal Exhibition Building and the Melbourne Museum and then walked through the Victoria Market.
After leaving Melbourne, we headed north along the east coast of Australia to Sydney at an average speed of about 16 knots. We awoke the next morning to find the ship just pulling into the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay. Since our balcony cabin was on the port side, we had a great view of the iconic Sydney Opera House across Sydney Cove.
In total, our cruise encompassed 3,396 nautical miles at an average speed of 16.1 knots. The itinerary on our cruise provided a very comprehensive tour of New Zealand and Australia.
Above: The sculpture in the ship's atrium.
Below: The Ocean Bar.
Above: The ship's library.
Below: A balcony stateroom.
Cruise ship review - - Holland America Line - - Noordam - - 2019