Noordam's Spectacular Departure from Sydney
Renewing our love affair with Luxury Cruising
By Peter Chapman
AFTER a brief separation Australians have renewed their love affair with cruising the Pacific.
Cruise lines have recognised the opportunity and some of the best are now vying to entice you to take a tour up the Queensland coast, over to places like Vanuatu and New Caledonia or across the short divide to Tasmania and New Zealand.
It’s little wonder they are getting swamped when you see a good size cabin with a balcony for a few weeks of cruising selling for under $2000 per passenger.
A click of the button locks in your accommodation, three great meals per day, anytime snacks and stops at possibly six or more ports.
Try booking a hotel on the Sunshine or Gold Coast for that period and go out every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner and see how it compares.
You will be spending lots more and you will be constantly on the move.
But there is a slight catch you should allow for before booking your cruise if you plan to add in all the extras.
Some do go onboard and do minimal excursions and avoid the bars and their final costs remain close to their original booking fee.
Others will go for all the bells and whistles with full drinks packages and tours at every port.
For them a 14-day cruise with drinks and cocktails and excursions is worth paying extra for and they are right when they say it still represents great value for money.
Many on the recent Holland America cruise I enjoyed with 1700 other passengers did go for the extras and I’m confident will give the cruise a big tick of approval.
For myself paying in American dollars kept me wary and I found the excursions a little limited, but the positives were strong with the food in the two specialty restaurants excellent, the staff professional and always courteous and the ship immaculately presented.
The two main shows each night on their world stage auditorium were professional and entertaining and if you were into such things as live classical music, origami, adult colouring-in, big dollar bingo and trivia you were kept on the hop every day.
You did feel special, and it was totally up to you to participate or just sit back and read a book or three.
The cruise I went on had 727 American guests, outweighing the other big contingents of 492 Aussies and 221 English tourists.
For the visitors getting up face to face with the local wildlife was an adventure, although for some of the Aussies seeing another platypus or albino wallaby wasn’t that exciting.
A quick Q&A with some of those onboard revealed many had sailed before with Holland America and their previous experiences gave them the confidence to book again.
This cruise was popular with the seniors with most guests sitting in the 65 and up category and few children to be seen.
The entertainment was crafted to fit that demographic, but for those who wanted to party harder there were opportunities.
Comparing cruise lines is like comparing the latest SUV’s, they are all good, some just have better accessories.
It’s an individual choice and after experiencing three different cruise lines over the past 12 months the gap is getting closer.
Cruising has become a competitive market in this country and they all want your dollar.
Holland America is upholding its hard-earned reputation for quality of service, a reputation that now spans 150 years.
This year they showed how serious they were about the Aussie market by staging two ships in Australia for the 2022-23 season.
I was aboard the Noordam which has a capacity of just over 1900 passengers.
We cruised out of Sydney and even as a regular of that city it was spectacular to sail out of the harbour under the magnificent coat-hangar and past the Opera House.
It was the perfect way to start a memorable cruise.
NOTE: The writer was a guest of HAL.
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