I don't know what ship the other TA reviewers traveled on, but the Westerdam didn't match those reviews. We found the staff to be exemplary, the ports were very good (Casablanca being the exception, but it's a third-world country, so what did we expect?), the food was good without being overly filling, and the ship was immaculate.
This was our first HAL cruise. We've done RCCL a few times before (including an abbreviated cruise on the Monarch in Dec. 1998), and the Big Red Boat a loooong time ago. Of the 1800 passengers, we were probably among the youngest, being in our mid 40's. This made for a nice, quiet cruise. Exactly what we were looking for.
This was a Big Band cruise where we were serenaded by the Nick Ross Orchestra throughout. We had five days at sea between Funchal (absolutely beautiful port) and St. Maarten (our favorite Caribbean island). Only one night at sea did the ship see movement, but there were 18-27 foot seas that night. The rest of the time, it was smooth as glass.
Embarkation was a breeze -- the easiest we've ever experienced.
Debarkation in Ft. Lauderdale was a zoo, but only AFTER we got off the ship. We liked that we could wait in our cabin for our number to be called, rather than milling about in a common area.
The staff was extremely accommodating, on board activities (cooking school, dance instruction, even computer classes) were better than expected. Entertainment was good. We were privileged to see the last performance of a show cast that had been together for nearly a year.
Yes. We'd sail her again.