We drove to Ft. Lauderdale from Virginia and parked our car with "Air and Sea Parking" as we have done on several other cruises. They have given us excellent service with their van taking us to the ship and then picking us up too. Their location on S. Federal Hwy. is just outside the Port's gate.
We arrived at the ship around 12:30 and Holland was its usual efficient self in getting us checked in, and up into our large "SY" category cabin. We had been upgraded to this from a standard veranda cabin, and are now spoiled by the extra room. We then went up to Lido Deck to have lunch. The food was excellent, and we found this to be the case through most of the cruise. Needless to say, there were a few poor dishes served, but not many. When we returned to our cabin we found that two of our bags were there already, and the third one arrived soon after. We met "John" and he, of course, was very nice and explained that he would do anything for us that would make the cruise a pleasure. He, and his working partner did exactly that for the two weeks we were on board. We found that to be the case with almost all of the crew we came in contact with. Our service overall was excellent. We think that the cabin stewards are amazing!
At four o'clock we had our emergency drill, and that was well organized. The only problem, in spite of the Captain making it very clear that attendance was mandatory, were several people that didn't show up, and had to be hunted down. We all had to wait until they consented to honor us with their presence, and that added at least another 20 or so minutes to the drill. How stupid can some folks be!
We had chosen "open choice" dinning because most nights we like to just eat together, whenever we are ready, at a table for two, and not be involved in trying to make a lot of conversation. That did result in some waiting usually before we could be seated, but never took very long, and we could just go to the Explorer's Lounge and have a drink while listening to the classics done by the "Adagio Strings". It was all very pleasant, and then when we were seated in the dinning room the service was wonderful. We found, on most nights, that the menu was varied enough that we could find dishes that sounded good to us that particular evening. I would say that 90% of the time the food was well prepared and served. We thought that it was good enough that we never did see a need or reason to pay extra to go to one of the specialty dinning rooms. We only ate dinner up in the Lido a few times. I went up every morning to eat, but my wife had room service every morning. There was always a nice choice of foods both ways. The ice cream bar in the Lido dinning area was a very popular place almost any time of the day.
We both believe that the entertainment was perhaps the best overall that we had experienced in all of our cruises. The 14 Westerdam dancers and singers put on several great shows, and received standing ovations each night that we saw them. The individual acts on other nights were excellent too. We enjoyed Caren & The HALCats in the Queen's Lounge, The Neptunes in the Ocean Bar, and Tim Kelly in the Piano Bar. Always plenty to do before retiring to the comfortable Euro-top mattress's that Holland has throughout their fleet.
One thing that was different for a Holland Ship, it was spring break time, and there were a fairly large number of young couples with young children, and they seemed to be having a grand old time in the child care center. There were some teen agers too, and they seemed to be all over having fun too. It was nice to see these young, fresh faces, and defiantly added to the pleasure of the cruise.
Holland's policy of allowing you to stay in your cabin the morning of disembarkation until your "color" is called is very nice. That makes the morning go better with less stress. We thought that this was about as close to a perfect cruise as we are ever likely to have, and we will sail with HAL again!