Westerdam Cruise Review by Sharon: Westerdam - Northern Europe
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Westerdam - Northern Europe
We had a great time on the Westerdam on our Baltic cruise. The Westerdam is a beautiful ship, it was our first time with Holland America and were very pleased with the ship and services.
Our balcony cabin was very nice, very comfortable bed and plenty of storage space. The bed was much higher than all the others we have been on, so our large luggage fit easily underneath. The balcony has nice comfortable chairs and a small table. I really did enjoy having a bathtub in the bathroom, after some longs days, it felt good to soak.
The food was wonderful, after reading a lot of information on Cruise Critic, I wasn't sure what to expect. We had dinner twice in the Pinnacle Grille and they were fabulous meals.
We enjoyed the beautiful fresh flowers and tasteful decor of the ship.
After many cruises, all of the shows begin to seem the same, I only went to 4 shows, none of which, knocked my socks off.
This cruise is port More intensive so we were going strong all day and frankly, after late seating dining, I was ready for bed. Only strolled through the casino en route to somewhere else, seemed smaller than other ships.
One interesting tidbit, we had a celebrity on vacation on the ship. Joy Behar from "The View" was traveling along with a rather large group. Almost a week had passed before it was announced at the end of one of the evening shows, the cruise director announced that she was on the ship and had agreed the following day to do " a Talk with Joy Behar". I had never seen her around, of course I wasn't looking either, but I am a fan of hers and I enjoyed her talk more than I did any of the other entertainment on the ship. After that we had "Joy" sightings, celebrities vacation like regular people, imagine that.
The shops were nice, they had a good selection of items from the Baltics in case you missed something, there was a "sale or special" every day.
Ports: Embarkation was in Copenhagen, we arrived a day early and spent the night at the Sofitel Plaza, nice room, good breakfast. We got a chance to walk around and enjoyed the city, shopping on the Stroget, eating in Nyhven, canal cruise and of course the Little Mermaid. Embarkation was a snap, 15 minute cab ride from hotel.
Tallinn, Estonia: Took the ship's shuttle ($4 pp) to the downtown, walked around and enjoyed shopping, having lunch, looking at antiques, it is a lovely little city.
St. Petersburg: We had pre-arranged a 2 day tour with Red October. I had looked at a lot of info on Cruise Critic and if I can put other's at ease, I hope this will do it. We booked RO online with the US website, no problems, they required a 10% deposit. We had a private tour for 4 people for 2 days. I had read so much stuff concerning visa's, the threat of the ship not letting us off early, lunch ,etc., I sort of had myself worked up about it. Let me put very simply, it is no problem, they took care of everything. We had agreed the first morning to get to the gangway at 7am to be the first off and push through crowds if needed. Well, after oversleeping by accident, we headed for the gangway at 8:15, to discover no one else there and our lonely looking guide (Catherine) waiting patiently for us. She whisked us away in a very new looking Mercedes Van, microphone in hand and we had a terrific tour. She is highly educated, efficient, and we couldn't have asked for a better guide. She knew how to work the crowds, we never waited in line and were able to see a lot in 2 days. First thing she asked was what we wanted to do for lunch, we had already decided that we wanted to go a restaurant, which was in a five-star hotel and was lovely. I am not sure why anyone would want to take baggies and fill them from the breakfast buffet, after an exhausting morning, it was a welcome break.
We did the same, different restaurant on the second day. We didn't go out for any evening activities, the ship was quiet so we enjoyed that. She had stops planned for the bathroom and conveniently at shops so we could get our souvenirs. She steered us away from markets and vendors, saying the pick-pockets were bad, however I'm sure it is planned that way. I would not hesitate to recommend Red October.
Helsinki: Took the shuttle to the city, walked around enjoyed the sights, did some great shopping in the market by the harbor. Stockholm:Walked from the port (rather long one) to the ferry to the Vasa Museum, took a cab to the downtown, enjoyed the city, lunch, it is a beautiful city. Thoroughly enjoyed cruising through the Archipelago. Visby, Sweden: Lovely walled city, enjoyed the narrow streets, flowers, it was a short day there, small seaside resort.
Warnemunde, Germany: We did not want to take the long trip to Berlin. We slept in a little and took our time to enjoy Warnemunde, very under rated. It is a lovely seaside resort, it was a beautiful day, we walked the beach looking for amber, did some shopping and just relaxed. If you are familiar with small US east coast beach resorts, this is what it reminded me of, very German and quaint.
Arhus, Denmark:This port took the place of one of our sea days, leaving us only one sea day on the 10 day cruise. Walked around the city, not a lot of interest to us, we were back on the ship early.
Debarkation: Copenhagen: It went very smoothly, we were staying the night so we were probably some of the last to get off. Had to stand in a long line for a taxi, it did move quickly considering how many people were waiting as there was another ship disembarking as well.
Stayed at the Sofitel Plaza again, not as nice of room as the first one but OK for one night. Walked the city again, went to Tivioli and did our last amber shopping (best selection). It was a great trip on a lovely ship, would do it all again! Less
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