We can only compare our experience to our two previous cruises with Princess. Two yr. ago, we went to the E. Caribbean on the Emerald Princess. Last yr. we went to W. Caribbean on Crown Princess, and this year--to try something different--we went on the Westerdam--S. Caribbean.
We loved the Emerald Princess. The range of activities and age range of passengers was perfect for us.
We are semi-retired and hoped to find fellow passengers around our age, and we did. It was wonderful that there was a mix of ages but was geared to couples, probably most between 45 and late sixties. On the Crown Princess, the following yr., there was a much younger group, with many families. We think that the itinerary (Honduras, Cozumel) was highly attractive for multiple generation groups.This year, my husband wanted to try another cruiseline, as he said he was bored with the Princess cruises, as the Emerald and Crown were the same. Restaurants the same, same lay-out, etc.
So we booked the Westerdam and have mixed feelings. First of all, the ship itself is remarkable. We felt it was in excellent condition. The food was terrific--at least as good as Princess, maybe better. Staff were similarly attentive. The ship was 2/3 the size of the Emerald and Crown, which had it advantages and disadvantages. There was less variety of entertainment and activities, but there was also the fact that the passengers tended to be older. I would say 2/3 were over age 70. Maybe even more. It was terrific to see how cruisers in their 70s, 80s, and YES, even early 90s could have such a great time.
Ship was generally quiet--which we like. Great spaces for relaxing and reading. Ship was run remarkably well, and there was no delay in embarkation and disembarkation. All staff were helpful and polite. They were dedicated to safety and keeping passengers healthy.
We only had three ports. One was Half Moon Cay, which is a wonderful island. It seems larger and has more to offer than Princess Cay. We rented a clamshell, which was a good choice. But I wish I'd signed up for horseback riding in the sea or even parasailing! Plenty to do there for all ages.Our other stops were Curacao and Bonaire.
Curacao has colorful buildings and historic sites. At night, lit up, it is magical. We unfortunately had long period of torrential rain and it limited our enjoyment. Our ship stayed in port until around 11pm, but I was amazed that few passengers went out in the evening. It seemed that most went out in the afternoon and then came aboard for dinner and stayed. We did come back to the ship for dinner but went out and stayed in the port/fort area, where there was music. Had we been more adventurous, we would have gone back over the pedestrian bridge into town for more nightlife.
On Bonaire, we took a taxi around the island and then went snorkeling with Woodwind. That experience was simply the best ever. It would not be possible to find a better crew, with more professional skill. They were skilled teachers/guides for snorkelers of all levels. Bonaire is a wonderful island, with small population and known for snorkeling and scuba diving. It was interesting that most of our fellow passengers did not care about the ports themselves. 1/4 stayed on the ship for another wk. That meant they had to return to Ft. Lauderdale and have another day at Half Moon Cay. But they said they just loved the cruise experience.
Summary: The Westerdam is a great ship. Well maintained, well run. Really beautiful and a good size. We, however, would wait until we are older before cruising with Holland America again unless it was a trip with minimal sea days.