First off, let me apologize to my regular readers for the injuries their jaws sustained after hitting the floor upon hearing that I sailed in a suite. Let me also take a moment to remind you that this blog is, “read at your own risk.” So, while sympathetic to your pain and acknowledging my role in it, I won’t be reimbursing for any chin stitches.
For my new readers who are confused and alarmed, let me explain. I’m cheap. Like, shop at Goodwill and cut my own hair and take extra rolls of toilet paper and bath products from hotel rooms and book inside guarantee cruise cabins cheap. Shrug.
So how did I end up in a Signature Suite on ms Noordam for a 16-day cruise to New Zealand? Easy. Mr. Cruise booked and paid for it! Don’t worry, I properly thanked him by repeatedly singing an off-key rendition of “Big Spender” while hogging the in-suite jetted bathtub, giant television, and huge, comfy sofa. I also held daily dance parties for one on our spacious balcony which I can only assume he found equally entertaining and endearing as he hastily closed the curtains to give me some privacy to fully express myself.
Now, for those I haven’t scared off, let’s start with the basics of my Signature Suite on ms Noordam and then we’ll get in to all the specific things I loved and didn’t love about it (mostly loved).
My Signature Suite on ms Noordam: The Basics
Mine was cabin 8075, located mid-ship on deck 8, close to the mid-ship elevators and just below the Lido Marketplace buffet on deck 9. It was a connecting cabin (meaning there was an inside door to the cabin next door, which we didn’t use). It was 289 sqft, with a 100 sqft balcony, larger than most apartments in my home port of Seattle. This cabin sleeps 3, with the sofa transforming to the 3rd bed (our wonderful cabin steward prepared it as a bed each night and set it back up as a sofa each morning). The Signature Suites, while much larger than a regular balcony cabin, do not include any special amenities like Neptune Suites (butler service, priority seating in the dining rooms, etc).
Here’s a tour (be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel after watching so you don’t miss any of my additional Noordam content coming soon – it’s free!)…
ms Noordam Signature Suite Cabin Tour
Things I Loved about my Signature Suite on ms Noordam
When writing reviews, I always like to start with the things I loved. And there was a LOT to love about my Signature Suite on the Noordam. Here’s the (long) list:
This cabin was large enough to host a king-sized bed, two desks, a sofa, a coffee table, three end tables, two closets, a palatial bathroom, three exceedingly messy humans (it only looked like the above photo for about two minutes), three holidays (Christmas, New Year’s, and my son’s 10th birthday), and hypothetical daily Jane Fonda aerobics routines (I never actually did one, but it was comforting to know the available floor space would accommodate). The takeaway from that long run on sentence is this: our Signature Suite was HUGE!
What’s better than one desk to shun in favor of all things non-work? Two desks to avoid like the buffet salad bar! Our signature suite came equipped with two desks – one with a window, an extra comfortable chair, and in close proximity to the mini-bar just in case a rogue work e-mail made its way through. While we never actually used the desks for their intended purpose, we enjoyed the extra surfaces and drawers as clutter receptacles. HAL should just re-name them that on cabin floor plans as I imagine that’s what roughly 100% of passengers use them for.
Large, Comfortable Sofa
The stylish, comfortable sofa in our suite was so large, I found my 6″4′ husband sprawled out on it in his underwear one day. For a second I thought it was trying to seduce me, but then I realized he was just resting there between the difficult vacation tasks of showering and getting dressed.
Both the big bed and the sofa bed were cozy and comfortable. I can speak firsthand about the sofa bed because a non-miserable cruise with my child involves a series of negotiations: “I’ll let you sleep in the big bed with dad if you promise to spend ALL DAY, EVERY DAY at kid’s club.” And – while I confess to dreaming a few times of my next solo cruise where I can fall spread eagle into the middle of the big bed and do dramatic angel motions with my arms and legs while not missing my family at all – based on the wild boar-like snoring sounds coming from the “boys bed,” it seems they found the big bed cozy and comfortable as well.
Large Balcony with Padded Loungers and a Large Table
There’s an R-rated question I’ve seen posted to cruise forums a few times over the years related to whether balconies are large enough to accommodate certain “adult activities.” And while we never actually used our balcony for anything other than eating vast quantities of room service, reading, napping, and gazing out at the ocean, I’m here to say yes. Not only was our balcony large enough for…that, but we could have hosted a key themed party that would have left our neighbors with eyes wide shut and traumatized, but also rich off the proceeds of their viral TikTok video which they captioned, “Think Holland America is only for boring old people?”
In addition to the size, I also loved the cushioned reclining lounge chairs with padded foot stools and the large table, perfect for room service meals:
Our suite featured three-prong American style outlets and USB ports next to each side of the bed, next to the couch, and above each of the two desks. All these outlets may seem like overkill, but they came in handy for charging our remote control boat and walkie talkies and firing up our juicer (all things my kid asked for for Christmas that I had to haul all the way from Seattle to Sydney).
Large, Premium Television
I really could have placed this huge, flatscreen television on my “love” list or my “didn’t love” list depending on what was showing on it. The size and booming speakers of our television were great for vacation appropriate romantic comedies and mindless home renovation shows. However, it wasn’t great for avoiding all news and when my son started Space Jam for the 40th consecutive time.
I don’t know why I choose to post a photo of a cloth bag that says “hair dryer” instead of the actual hair dryer, which would have been much more helpful. Shrug. But you should know that the hair dryer was better than the average cruise ship hair dryer that either threatens to strangle you with a short coiled cord permanently attached to the wall or lacks the power to dry the head of a balding ant.
Early in our relationship, I had to request that Mr. Cruise stop buying me flowers. Not because I didn’t like the flowers themselves, but because he would just plop them on the counter wrapped in cellophane where I would have to arrange them in a vase, water them, and deal with cleaning them up when they turned from red roses to something akin to 25 cent vending machine slime. It just wasn’t worth it. But when you have a room steward who vases them and replaces them before a single petal droops, they’re great!
Holland America is known for having beautiful fresh flowers onboard and having this little vase of flowers in our suite, changed several times throughout our sailing, was a nice touch.
Blankets, Robes, and Beach Towels Provided
Our suite came stocked with two cozy blankets to use on the balcony, two large beach towels (towels were also available on the Lido deck on loungers and near the pools), and two robes. And I’ll admit, there were a few mornings when I headed up to the buffet wearing all three: the towel wrapped around my bed head, the robe as a makeshift wrap dress, and the blanket draped over my arm as backup in order to prevent traumatizing any young children, or grown adults for that matter, should the cloth belt come loose from my “dress” to reveal my birthday suit, sagging and worn after roughly four decades of wearing it to every occasion.
Huge, Elegant Bathroom
The tiny, colorless, institutional looking bathroom on the left is from the last cabin I sailed in a few months prior to embarking on the Noordam. It made me want to throw up. Not because it was that bad, but just to add a bit of color. And the one on the right, from my Signature Suite on the Noordam, has ruined all future cruise ship bathrooms for me in perpetuity.
I have a reputation for forgetting to pack daily essentials like underwear. So having two sinks was handy, one for washing hands and one for washing fruit (of the loom).
I’m a bath person. In fact, I’ve been known to announce to my family that I’m “taking a hot bath,” only to emerge six days later with elephant skin and out of a job. If you’re thinking, “doesn’t she get bored and hungry in there?,” I have a bath tray for snacks and to prop up my iPad for binging Netflix (true story). So I loved having a jetted bathtub in our Signature Suite.
But while I love a bath tub, trying to fit Mr. Cruise into one is like trying to stuff a sturgeon into a sardine can. So he appreciated having a separate large-ish (for a cruise cabin) shower. I guess we also could have bathed and showered at the same time, but after non-stop cruise binging, neither one of us wanted to see that (the wall separating the bath and shower is glass, so no privacy is offered).
Elemis Bath Products
During the first few days of my cruise on the Noordam, I was browsing a Carnival Facebook group (allow me to confess my cruise line infidelity) where I saw a post by John Heald, Carnival’s Brand Ambassador, discouraging Carnival cruisers from bringing onboard empty shampoo bottles to fill up with ship-supplied shampoo to take home with them. My initial thought was, “OMG, even I’m not that cheap!” But, after a few more days of pampering with the Elemis bath products provided in all Holland America cabins, I regretted not packing the nearly empty Head and Shoulders bottle taunting my memory from Mr. Cruise’s shower back home.
While “clean up and rebuild in the aftermath of a tornado” would have been a more accurate description of the daily task that faced our room stewards (they were wonderful and we left an extra cash tip to thank them for all their efforts), I appreciated having a door hanging to indicate when we wanted “privacy please” or a little white-gloved “tidy up” performed with a jaunty skip and British accent.
There are so many reasons to love Holland America. I mean, where else can one see every model of walker ever made in one place? I kid, I kid. But one of the many, many things I do love about HAL, that I think separates it from other lines, is free, extensive room service. And while room service isn’t any different in a Signature Suite, I wanted to mention it as something I particularly enjoyed. Not only can you hang the breakfast card the night before or call and order off the menu, you can also order any item from the dining room menus as long as the dining room is currently open. Which is why Mr. Cruise was still able to order delicious dining room fare after being turned away for wearing track pants and a sweatshirt on formal night (sadly, a true story – but please forgive him, we’re from Seattle where that’s considered appropriate boardroom attire)!
Things I Didn’t Love about my Signature Suite on ms Noordam
In my mind there is no good reason to book a connecting cruise cabin. Especially if you have in-laws or children staying in the one next door. But I was particularly resentful of the connecting door in our suite taking the place of an extra closet. Thankfully we didn’t hear any noise from our neighbors coming through the door. Now the true test would be to ask them if they heard any noise from us! Not only was I too afraid to ask, I avoided eye contact entirely, judging it likely.
Bathroom Door Didn’t Lock
The lock on our bathroom door didn’t work because the bolt wasn’t properly aligned with the strike plate (it wasn’t even close). I found myself saying on several occasions, “I did NOT pay 19 grand for this suite to walk in on my husband discharging a day’s worth of buffet meals while playing “Call of Duty” on his phone!” To which he reminded me that I didn’t pay a penny for this suite and could I please give him some privacy to finish up his mission.” To which I replied, “which one?!?”
The only scenario in which I’d ever partake of a cruise cabin mini-bar would be in the event that I was too drunk to worry about the cost. But if I was already drunk, why would I need the mini bar? Shrug. I don’t get it.
While I love having a small fridge, I always hate when it’s stocked with items getting in the way of my late-night snacks hoarded from the buffet. We generally either ask our steward to clear it out or just shove everything under the bed until debarkation day.
The small drawers in the desks were so hard to pry open, I thought the prior occupant glued them shut as a prank (sorry if yours are actually glued shut because I gave someone the idea).
Lack of Closet Space
Thankfully I’m a light packer and the majority of my suitcase was filled with the giant juicer my son asked for from Santa. (Yes, he’s 10 and still believes in Santa. And yes, he asked for a juicer.) But had Mr. Cruise and I bothered to pack anything appropriate for “casual dress” let alone formal nights in the dining room, we may not have had room to hang all our items in the small closets.
Motion Sensor Light
While I like to blame childbirth, which my son takes kind of personally (I’m proud to be keeping our local child psychologist in business), for needing to pee 3-4 times a night, it probably has more to do with the number of cocktails I consume when I have the drink package. In any case, there was a motion sensor light located under the desk that lit up the room brighter than the flashlight of a cop administering a late-night sobriety test (which is why I only drink when the Captain is driving). It took a few nights of hearing “moooooooooom, why can’t you hold it for 45 hours like I can!?!” before I engineered an ingenious solution (I threw a pillow in front of it).
Water Temperature Control in the Bathtub and Shower
While I like to spend hours in the bath, I don’t like to spend the first 30 minutes trying to figure out which way to turn the knob for “hot.” The temperature control for both the bathtub and shower was tricky to figure out. Thankfully, once I found the hot water, there was plenty of it.
While the extended overhang above our balcony was great for sheltering us from sun and rain, it also photo bombed all our pictures and videos.
Would I Sail in a Signature Suite on ms Noordam again?
Well that’s a question better suited for Mr. Cruise. But to sort of answer your question, I’ll happily provide his address, phone number, e-mail, and social media handles if you’d like to forcefully lobby on my behalf. Perhaps together we can insure that I will, indeed, sail in a Signature Suite again!
Would I pay for one myself? Not a chance. Unless you send this review link to about 10 million of your closest friends. Then maybe I could afford it through ad revenue (although even then, I’d probably just book consecutive world cruises in an inside cabin instead).
What Advice Would I give Others Considering Booking a Signature Suite on ms Noordam?
Do it! Especially if you can get someone else to foot the bill! But avoid adjoining cabins (unless you like your neighbors and are doing it intentionally). I’d also recommend mid-ship on deck 8, unless you’re worried about weight gain (in that case, may as well retire from cruising entirely) being located so close to the Lido Marketplace Buffet and Dive-In (HAL’s excellent burger joint).
And with that…
Homework (10 points): Have you sailed in a suite on a cruise before? Share your experience to the comments.
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