Background: We are a couple in the 30's from Finland who enjoy exploring the world and cruising as well in a relaxed way. Cruised with Carnival, MSC, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and HAL. Chose the Westerdam because of the ports of call and to check a HAL ship. We took this cruise on March 18th 2012, in combination with a cruise on the Allure the week before.
Embarkation: We came off the Allure and took a taxi from Allure to Westerdam, very straighforward. Embarkation is efficient and from taxi to entering Westerdam only took half an hour. We were on the ship around 11.30. We did have to wait for our luggage until 3.45 though, even we could see it laying on the dock for +2 hours.
Ship overall: As we just came from the Allure, this ship was almost the opposite . Therefore no comparison to be made between the Allure and Westerdam. The Westerdam is a small ship, it has a cosy and quiet feeling. It is easy to navigate, also because it is not a large ship. All activities are concentrated on certain decks, so by the end of the day you know your way around. We found the interior a bit old and outdated. In the evenings, besides the shows (or if you enjoy spending you time in a smokey casino) there is not much to do on the Westerdam. The pools are quite (actually very) small and not much possibilities to take nice evening walks on the deck. The ship was well maintained.
Room: We have an Aft Ocean-view Balcony. The room not too clean upon entering, but the stewards Anton and Dean did a great job to keep it and make it clean during our stay. The size of the room is just amazing. We felt it looked more like a hotel room than a stateroom. This is by far the largest stateroom we ever had. A really nice thing and would recommended anyone to go for the aft staterooms.
Balcony: The balcony size was in accordance with our expectations. It was huge, 2 deckchairs, 1 normal chair, 1 table. The balcony was not kept that clean though. Also we were located on deck 4 and there is no balcony roof. We chose this deck, in order to enjoy the sun, but I would recommend to go to deck 6 or 7 and get an aft balcony from there so you are partly protected against the sun.
Food: When on holidays and considering wearing suits during work, we do not want to dress up during our holidays and therefore do not attend the MDR. For lunch and dinner, we went to the Lido. During lunch, it was sometimes busy, in the evening it was always very quiet. The selection of food during lunch is good. During dinner, it is actually quite limited. The quality of the food on the Westerdam was above average compared to any other cruise line. They had some really nice dishes and on the first days even fresh strawberries.
The lay out of the lido was somewhat confusing, also the line forming. After 7 days on the cruise, we still had to wander around trying to figure out what food was served where.
We used room service during breakfast time, which was always delivered correctly and right on time. That was great.
1 major comment we would like to make in respect of food issues: Even though it is clearly stated that one should not refill its own cups at water/coffee stations, people continue doing this. I find this extremely unhygienic and do not understand the some people do not have any sense of understanding that filling up own water/coffee cups can spread a possibly virus. Unfortunately staff does not seem to bother and in 2 occasions they even assisted people filling up their bottles. And this whilst it appears HAL has a strict policy in respect of health/food safety, e.g. first 48 hours no self service.
Entertainment: Hilby was just great. We have watch various shows on various cruises, but Hilby was (together with the Aqua show on the Allure) the best ever. So funny and hilarious. Other shows were average.
Ports of call:
Half Moon Cay: We booked this cruise in order to see Curacao and Bonaire. Half Moon Cay was "just" a "bonus". But we have to say, Half Moon Cay was the best port of this trip, one of the best ports ever visited and the beach is in our top 3 (next to Megan's Bay on St. Thomas and Shole Bay East on Anguilla) of best beaches. Wow. What an amazing place Half Moon Cay is! Just picture perfect scenery, it is nice to take a walk (e.g. to the Stingrays), enjoy the views, do a bit of shopping, have lunch (no lines) at the island and most of all, enjoy the views of the beach.
Curacao: We had higher expectations of this port. Whilst the Dutch houses in Caribbean colors looked really nice, there was not much else to do in Willemstad.
Bonaire: Rented a car, recommended. We toured the north and south part of the island. It was a rainy morning, but dry in the afternoon.
Debarkation: Very smoothly, we waited not even 1 minute at customs and the considering we had a late departure number.
The cruise was really nice, and I wouldn't say I would not cruise Westerdam again. However, for our next cruise, we would probably look for a newer ship.
Westerdam is in our opinion a great ship for relaxing, enjoying your book on your balcony and cruising the ports you are interested in. The people on the cruise are indeed older than on e.g. Celebrity or RCI, but this didn't bother us.