This is our 4th cruise with Holland America, and the second on the Westerdam. My sister and I travel together, she had a ocean view room and I had a verandah room.
We flew into Seattle 2 days before and stayed at the Fairmont Olympic hotel. Wonderful "old world" hotel with excellent service, comfortable beds and great atmosphere. Seattle is a wonderful city. Thank you "Tours Northwest" for a wonderful 3 hour tour of Seattle (best I've ever taken). We took in the "King Tut" exhibit which was OK, but the highlight was the Dale Chihuly glass exhibit which was fantastic. Had lunch at the Space Needle which was great, reservation includes free entrance to the viewing deck. Really loved Seattle and in hindsight, wished I had stayed longer in Seattle.
We had prepaid transfer with HAL for airport to hotel, and at the end of the cruise transfer from the ship to the airport. I would not suggest this transfer. HAL representative met us at the luggage carousel and escorted us to the waiting area for transfer. It was chaotic with mass confusion reigning, the young attendants did not seem to know what they were doing. Shuttles came and went loaded with people from other cruise lines. We waited over an hour & half for a shuttle, only after complaining very loudly did we finally get a shuttle to the hotel. Wish I had just taken a taxi to the hotel. At the end of the cruise, did not want to miss our airline flight because of the confusion with HAL transfer, so we went with "Sabra Limo Service" to transport us to the airport. We carried off our luggage and called them when exiting the terminal. They were there within a few minutes - great service, arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare for our 11:30 flight.
Speaking of flights; don't travel with United Airlines - they change your flight schedule at the last minute, without notifying you (which caused a lot of stress) and it's $100.00 if your checked bag goes over 50 lbs. Even though you paid $25.00 for your checked bag, mine was 5 lbs over (because of winter clothes) and I had to pay the $100.00!
3 hours out of Seattle, the weather changed dramatically, cold and windy. The Westerdam was like an old friend, comfortable and cozy. I must say that the cruise on the Westerdam was great. We had fixed seating at 5:30 pm with a reserved table for 2. Our waiter "Sandy" was outstanding, always courteous and remembering our drinks and hot tea after our meals. The food was very good and cannot complain about the service and food which has always been good on a Holland America cruise. In room breakfast was always served at the exact time, properly served with a smiling attendant.
Sorry Alaska but I was not impressed. Perhaps it was the weather which was cold, damp and windy (never saw the sun since leaving Seattle). We saw mountains covered in snow, water and more cold water. No whales, seals or bears. Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan were small towns with the obligatory Diamond International and souvenir shops. Glacier bay was interesting.
We did gold panning in Juneau which was fun but cold an damp. Did the Raptor Center and tour of Sitka which was great with an excellent guide and took the float plane at Ketchikan which was an awesome experience.
All in All it was a great cruise on the Westerdam, I guess being from Florida I was not expecting the wilderness or the cold of Alaska, perhaps in the summer would have been better.