Background: My husband and I are early 40s from California. This was our 2nd cruise. Our first cruise was to the Mexican Riviera on Carnival in an ocean-view cabin. This was our 1st time on HAL and we booked a Deluxe Verandah Suite SB8147 on the Navigation deck, which is on the back corner of the ship with the wrap around balcony. This was also my first time to Alaska. My husband has sailed Alaska many times, as he served on a USCG cutter that patrolled Alaskan waters and the Bering Sea.
We stayed in a suite at the Holiday Inn on Dexter Ave in Seattle for one night pre-cruise. It was very clean and the bed was very comfortable. We had a nice view of the city skyscrapers at night. We ate next door at the Emerald Cafe, which had excellent food at reasonable prices.
After the cruise, we stayed 1 night at the Crowne Plaza on 6th Ave. They upgraded us to a suite on the 34th floor, which is key card access only. The view of the city skyscrapers, the Space Needle, and Puget Sound was fantastic! We watched the most spectacular sunset we've ever seen right from our hotel window! The room itself was not what I would call a suite by Crowne Plaza/ Holiday Inn standards (and we're premier members so stay frequently). It was one room with a bathrrom, not a suite. The bathroom was particularly small compared to most of the chains bathrooms. But the room was very clean and comfortable. However, we were literally right next to a conference room and we were awoken by applause several times after midnight. That was kind of annoying, but I would stay in that room again for the view! We also ordered dinner from room service. The food was very good but very high priced.
Embarkation at Pier 91 was a breeze. We arrived around 11:45am and there was 1 person in front of us to check bags, maybe 5 people ahead of us going through security. There were maybe 20 people in line for check in and sign and sail cards. We went to the suite line and there was no one in line so we walked right through. Our cabin was ready so we went straight there to drop our carry on bags. It took maybe 20 minutes from the time we got off the shuttle at the pier to when we opened our cabin door.
Our Stateroom: SB8147 was a fantastic cabin! There was plenty of room to move around. From photos, I had been a little concerned about space between the foot of the bed and the coffee table. I'm quite night blind and I was afraid if there wasn't enough space, I might trip over the coffee table. There was plenty of room though. We had more then enough closet space and drawer space, with more hangars then we needed...and I hung everything. The vanity area is very nice. Between the counter space in the vanity and the double sink bathroom, I had more space then I needed for all my girly make-up, lotions n potions, and hair appliances etc. There is a blow-dryer provided, but it doesn't have much power. If you have hard to dry hair, it will take awhile. There were also a couple of cabinets in the bathroom. This bathroom has a whirlpool tub/shower combo and a separate shower stall. The shower stall was very small and tight so we just used the shower over the tub. We didn't use the tub for a bath, but the shower worked great. There were binoculars and an umbrella in the room for our use. We had pre-ordered a bottle of vodka and Kahlua for "at sea" delivery and it was in our cabin waiting when we arrived, as well as a small bouquet of fresh flowers and a bottle of Complimentary Pol Clement and some water. The mini fridg was fully stocked with a nice selection of sodas, alcohol, and water. The fruit bowl was empty, but had a little card you checked off what kind of fruit you wanted. We filled it out and left it for our room steward and when we returned, our fruit bowl was full, and was refilled every day.
The balcony was absolutely amazing! I would say at least 5x bigger, probably more, than the standard size balcony. There was a round table with 4 chairs, 2 armed chairs with coffee table and foot stools, and 2 chaise lounges. All looked in excellent repair, with the very minor exception of a couple of cushion that were a little faded. Inconsequential!
The ship: We found the Westerdam do be a beautiful ship in excellent shape. She was very tastefully decorated. I had kind of expected some of the decor to be tacky looking from the photos I had seen. The color combinations in photos (like bright smiley face yellow and deep purple) appeared a little too bold for my taste. However, when you're on the ship, with the proper lighting, it looks very nice. She was also very clean. We didn't use the pools or hot tubs as we were in Alaska, but they appeared clean and in good repair. I really loved the size of this ship. It felt big enough that there was lots to explore, but it never felt crowded and the only lines we saw were when we were waiting to go in to port, and those moved quickly once we were allowed off. The Lido had a few lines, but there were usually only a few people ahead of us and they moved quickly. We did often have to search around for a table in the Lido to eat. There were a lot of people that were just sitting there for hours watching the Alaskan scenery, but not eating. Then in the lounges, there were usually plenty of empty seating right by the windows. It would have been nice if people were a little more conscious about the dining tables being used for dining. We found if we grabbed some flatware from the Lido buffet, we could always find a table by the Lido pool. It was Alaska, so the pool area was mostly empty.
Dining: We found the food good for the most part, but not spectacular.
BREAKFAST - we mostly had room service. The food was good, and timing was great. The night before, we filled out the card with the time frame we wanted - our choices were in 30 minute frames like "7 to 7:30" or 7:30 to 8". It was usually delivered on the earlier side of our selection. We went to the Pinnacle one morning (open to suite guests only), and we just missed it. They stop seating people at 8:45 am, which seemed ridiculously early on a sea day for people on vacation. But Oh well. I think we just grabbed something in the Lido.
LUNCH: were mostly in port or inthe Lido
DINNER: we tried the different venues. We ate once in the Pinnacle Grill on our 1st formal night. The food was good, but neither of us were wowed. The service was definitely upscale, but I don't think the food was any better then the other venues. We ate 2x in the MDR, on our 1st night and on our 2nd formal night. Service was great, even on the 1st night. Again, the food was good but not great. Some items were bland and I used a lot of salt trying to draw some flavor out. Otherwise, steaks were cooked to order and food was well-prepared. Most of the desserts were rather bland and disappointing. The cakes all seemed to have a weird wet consistency that we didn't like at all. The chocolate volcano cake with ice cream in the Pinnacle was very good though, and they served a chocolate mousse ganache in the MDR on the 2nd formal night that was to die for. It was very small though lol I should have ordered more lol The ice cream bar in the Lido was always excellent!
The DESSERT EXTRAVAGANZA was on our 5th night. It was a beautiful display, but disappointing to the palate and not worth standing in lines. We each tried 4 or 5 different desserts and only took a small bite of each, leaving the rest. The taste just wasn't worth the extra calories. However, the Neptune Lounge always had snacks and treats that were pretty good. We enjoyed the coffee, both from room service and in the Neptune Lounge. I don't think we got any in the Lido, so can't comment there.
We didn't do a whole lot of activities on board so can't really comment on that. We had such an amazing balcony with fabulous weather for the scenic Alaskan cruising that we spent most of our time relaxing there.
Service: was fantastic everywhere on the ship.
Our room stewards were fantastic. Our room was always kept neat and clean. The laundry service was fantastic. Our first night, we had some pre-cruise laundry, but there were no laundry bags in our room. We left them in a pile on the floor and stopped by the Neptune Lounge on our way to dinner and asked for some to be sent to our room. When we returned to our room, no laundry bags...and no laundry. We never saw laundry bags all week, but each day we left our dirty clothes in a little pile and the laundry fairy visited while we were out and the pile disappeared. They were always returned early the next day cleaned, pressed, and folded neatly. Loved it! We often passed our room stewards in the hallways and they were always smiling and friendly! The whole crew was always smiling and friendly.
We used the Neptune Lounge a few times. They greeted us by name the first time we entered and were always happy to see us. The service was great and they always had tasty snacks and cookies and chocolates available.
Service in the bars and lounges was great. They were friendly and service was prompt. We're not big drinkers, so we really appreciated that once we said no thanks, they didn't keep bothering us. But if we changed our minds, they were right there. **if you're a chocolate lover, try a Frosty Minty Chocolate Buzz. Tastes like a Starbucks minty mocha frappuccino, but definitely packs a punch. I was buzzing off of one, and I'm not usually such a light weight lol I could have drank those all day lol
Entertainment: was kind of hit or miss for us. We really enjoyed the magician and the juggler. Both were very impressive and funny! We enjoyed the cruise director Jason and the DJ Mario. They work very well together and were very entertaining. We enjoyed watching the karaoke contest - there were some great singers in the competition! and we really enjoyed the Battle of the Sexes, the Love and Marriage Game, and Trivia. We did not care for the singing/dancing shows. The music is pre-recorded and we believe lip-synced. They really need to update their music selection. To us, it felt on the level with a high school production and was rather corny. We suffered through the first show, but the 2nd, we deliberately sat towards the back of the balcony so we could make a quick escape if it was bad. We left early. We were also disappointed by the lack of live entertainment. It seemed like the ship shut down between 9 and 10pm. Several times we walked around looking for entertainment and the lounges that were scheduled to have live music were empty. We kept wondering where everyone was. Maybe they were all down in the Casino, Nightclub, Sports Bar, or Piano Bar. The cigarette smoke was pretty thick in those areas and I have asthma so we stayed away from that area. I was disappointed that HAL didn't have more going on in non-smoking areas. If you're looking for a hopping nightlife, it was not on our cruise lol
Our ports and excursions were fantastic!
Glacier Bay was a day of scenic cruising and was absolutely spectacular! It was the BEST day of our cruise and I highly recommend it. It was a beautiful sunny day and we saw both Margerie Glacier and Johns Hopkins. We saw several great calvings at Margerie, but Johns Hopkins was truly spectacular! It calved so much, with 2 separate areas bigger then the ship giving away, sending out waves that were big enough to rock our whole ship. It was incredible!
Disembarkation was a breeze. HAL allows you to stay in your cabin until you disembark. We had room service for breakfast and had a nice leisurely morning one last time on our balcony. It was another beautiful sunny day, but we were so sad to be leaving.
All in all, we had an amazing time! We loved the Westerdam and her crew. Food and entertainment could improve some, esp evening entertainment, but we still had an amazing trip. I would sail the Westerdam again in a heartbeat and I highly recommend her!