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Juanita McLoughlin

Age: 63


Number of Cruises: First Cruise

Cruise Line: Holland America

Ship: Noordam

Sailing Date: May 26th, 2002

Itinerary: Nothbound European Capitals

Here is my review of my 14 day "dream vacation" on HAL MS. Noordam, May 26 - June 9, 2002 ... from Civitavecchia, Rome to Copenhagen, Denmark, with 10 shore stops in-between...did I tell you that this was my first cruise.

I am well into my sixties, and I have traveled a great deal but this was to be an experience of my lifetime...and it came highly recommended. We had chosen HAL because we were told that HAL catered to an older set of passengers and gratuities are not required. Now, that put my mind at ease immediately, not only would I not have teeny-weenies whooping it up all night...but I would not have to shell out another fortune in tips...both assumptions proved to be true. (let me say, tips are not required...but looked forward to and well deserved).

My sister and I began our travels in early May, in Germany, with another couple and we worked our way down to Rome...where we were to board the MS. Noordam, on the 26th of May. We had seen enough of lugging luggage from train stations to hotels and were looking forward to 2 weeks of relaxation.

We were not disappointed...did I tell you this was my first cruise? To my way of thinking, having had no prior thoughts, everything was so well planned, I was happy to just let HAL direct me to my next activity...Each day, we met the spectacular crew, always busy at attending to our needs or those of the ship...they seemed to work 25 hours a day and never lost their cheery disposition...there were daily shore excursion briefings for those of us who had no idea where we were...and they were very good...I enjoyed my quiet time in the library (which was way too small) while my sister entertained herself with a game of Rummy Cube with friends in the card room...and “friends”" you pick up all during the cruise...had HAL recruited Central Casting?

There was plenty to eat, plenty on the menu to choose from, and nothing to complain about even when it did not meet my taste...I still had more than enough to eat and I certainly ate more than I should have eaten. But what the heck...I was on vacation...I went to the movies (something I rarely do at home) loved “Casablanca” (again) and a different “"Count of Monte Christo”...ate lots of freshly popped popcorn (another thing I haven't done in ages.)..Enjoyed my 5 laps around the deck (I needed that)...didn't go into the pool, didn't play pool or tennis or shuffle board...but could have...I saw most of the shows...some of them were good...relaxed in the Crow's Nest some nights and went dancing with my sister on other nights...and even got asked to dance by one of the HAL dancers employed for just that sort of thing...did I tell you I was having fun?

Around the 4th day onboard, my sister, (with whom I shared cabin 506) told me that she had been bitten by bedbugs the night stupid as I am...I was having too much fun to let one bedbug ruin my “dream Vacation”, I wrote a note to the cabin steward asking him to check the bed for bedbugs. And when we returned to our cabin that evening there were noxious fumigating fumes in the room. This necessitated that we leave our inside cabin door open to try to “air out” our cabin. We did not speak to the steward and other than the fumes, we had no message from him. That night my sister was not bitten again. And I wanted to forget the whole thing on my “dream Vacation”. But, on another occasion, about a week into the cruise, I overheard another passenger complaining at the front desk about bedbugs in her cabin. And on hearing her complain, I chimed in that we too had had a similar problem. I then made the front desk aware that this was not a singular incident and I told front desk that I thought that the problem had been taken care of. But it wasn't. Again my sister awoke with blisters on her arms and a bed bug sitting on her pillow. She called for a steward to come into the room but the little bug took off before it was spotted again. This time we went right to the front desk. We were told that they would fumigate our room and we would be welcome to sleep in another cabin if one was available. One was, at the other end of our deck, cabin 426, I believe. But we still spent the day (and as little time as possible) in our cabin 506. Too bad we were not offered to move ourselves into an upgrade...and not breathe in the fumigation for the rest of the cruise. We weren't. We were offered the card of HAL business office in the event we wanted to make a stink.

Before the week was out, the couple traveling with us and sleeping in cabin 510, discovered bed bugs in their sleeping quarters...and not long after, another couple in the cabin next to theirs were savagely was a week of the mighty bedbugs and the deck reeked with smell of the fumigating agent. It still stank on the day we arrived in Copenhagen. And we were told that they were preparing for another cruise that afternoon!

Since I had nothing to compare it with, I was enjoying all that HAL had to offer on the Noordam aside from this unpleasant episode. I don't know what obligation HAL feels towards passengers but I feel very leery now of taking another cruise...believing that very little is done in the way of preventive measures in housekeeping...well, at least not on Holland American Lines.

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