Just returned from the Westerdam's Western Caribbean sailing (11/13/05 -11/20/05). Overall it was a good cruise, but had some unexpected changes and even a rescue!!
EMBARKATION--Arrived at the prier around 11:50 a.m. Unlike last year on the Oosterdam, the line was very short!! I was on board in less than a hour. Met Valerie from Indy while in line. It was her first cruise. When I told her that this was my second on a HAL ship and since the Westerdam was the same style as the Oosterdam, I could give her some advice. We had our pictures taken and were in the Lido by 12:30 p.m.
DINING -- When we arrived on board, went to the Lido. There was a slight changed. There was no self service at the drink and salad station. Found out that a outbreak of Norwalk occurred during the last trip and extra steps were being taken. This was a hassle at times, especially when you wanted salt and pepper. But I took it with understanding that the crew was preventing another outbreak. The food in the Lido was good as I recalled. One of the servers would tease me about wanting fries every time he saw me. I thought that on sea days, the Lido would be pack, but I was able to find a table anytime I went to grab a bite to eat. I was on the second seating, 8:00 p.m. upper level at table 26. My table was all women, two solo travelers, and two sets of friends traveling together. Two of the people, were in the mid 20s. They only ate in the dining room the first night. The remaining four ranged in age from mid 30s (me) to mid 60s. These ladies were season travelers. They all were on the Westerdam b2b. Two of the ladies were from Wales, the other lady was from outside St Louis. I looked forward to dining every night because we had a blast!! Our waiter and assistant waiter were excellent. We were greeted with a welcoming smile every day. The same could be stated about our wine steward. Every night, he had my coke (I had a sticker) waiting. He also check to see if I wanted a lemon drop. The food was great also. Enjoyed everything and we were encourage to order seconds if we wanted to. Due to the Norwalk, the first few days, the bread, dressing for salads, and seasoning were handled by the crew. Everyone at our table were understanding. One of the ladies could only eat white bread and every night, they made sure that she had white rolls. I also ordered room service. The breakfast orders always arrived when you requested them. Ordered a cheese platter everyday. Some days it took awhile (mainly if it was after the Lido closed for lunch and everyone was returning from shore).
SPA-This was the first time I treated myself to the Spa. Had the seaweed treatment. I enjoyed it. Pricey, but fun.
CABIN--I had an outside, with blocked view cabin. But on tendering days, I had a full view. The layout was the same that I had last year on the Oosterdam so I knew what to expect. As a solo traveler, there was plenty of room for my items. My only complaint about the room was the position of the tv. It's takes took much space on the desk. The bedding was wonderful!! My room steward Angel, treated me like a queen!! Kept the room spotless. The one thing that he did that stands out is when I returned from Costa Maya, my water shoes had a lot of sand. I was going to clean them later that night and placed them in the bathroom. When I stopped by my room later that evening, Angel was returning my shoes clean on sand. I was totally surprise!! This was beyond what he had to do!! Angel also enjoyed my door decoration.
PUBLIC ROOMS--The ship was in top shape. HAL crew were always somewhere cleaning. CRUISERS--This cruise passengers was a mix of the senior Hal cruisers,middle of the road, few families, single and solo travelers. I guess there were about 40 kids on board, but very well mannered!!
PORTS--Due to tropical storm Gamma, the ports of call were changed. Jamaica was pulled, Grand Cayman and Costa Maya were changed to a day earlier and we picked up Freeport (we had already visited Half Moon Cay).
This is going to be my last cruise with a stop in the Caymans (or I will just stay on the ship). The only low point of the cruise was the tendering at Grand Cayman. Took too long due to the number of ships that day. Due to the change of date and time, the tour that I booked was shorted (I booked with Nativeways). The tour company was understanding. The last tender was scheduled at 3:30 p.m., but the process was so slow that the last group of people were back on board at 4:40 p.m. (at 3:30 p.m., you still had HAL tours just returning to the docks.). I think that the Caymans need to limit the number of ships in port. Enjoyed Costa Maya, took a taxi to the village and had a wonderful day. Half Moon Cay was great as always. Freeport was o.k. went into town for lunch and returned to the boat.
RESCUE--On Friday morning, the bridge made an announcement that we were going to assist a yacht had requested assistance. We arrived at the location. The deck was full of passengers and crew to witness the rescue. If I'm ever in need of assistance, let a HAL ship be near by. The HAL crew was quick in getting to the people on the yacht and returning them to the ship. Everyone cheered and clapped when they returned to the ship. The mainer's meeting occurred about a hour after the rescue and everyone was informing the captain what a great job his crew did. Updates on the two yacht passengers were given several times.
ENTERTAINMENT--I went to several of the shows this time. Really enjoyed Alfreda. Great singer!! Went to Bingo, came very close one time.
OVERALL--It was a great trip, despite the changes in port and Norwalk. Great rescue. Met some great people on the ship. Can't wait for the next trip!!!