We returned to the Holland America Westerdam after 7 years because we thought
that a smaller ship with great style, tradition, and service, would be wonderful
for our anniversary. We booked a deluxe verandah, and hoped for an upgrade, and indeed were told that cabin 4183,on the stern, next to a suite, was quite a nice location. Boy were we mistaken!! Embarcation wasn't too bad, even though the port was packed, and the luggage was delivered promptly to our cabin. The cabin seemed nice enough, till the boat started moving. Maybe part of the problem was that our last cruise on the Emerald Princess,we had such a wonderful time on that ship, that we expected a repeat with Holland America. Talk about Disappointment! Firstly, we didn't remember the boat rocking, rolling, creaking,and vibrating so much on our first trip in 2006. Our first sea day out started oddly when we had a medical emergency aboard and had to divert to nassau to drop off a passenger in distress. This wasn't a big deal, but turned out to be a bad omen for us; we docked across from the Costa "Mediterrania", the WORST cruise we have ever taken, but that is ANOTHER cruise from Hell with a story all it's own.
The Captain was now behind schedule for Grand Turk, so he proceded at full speed
through the florida straits, with moderate "following seas" and everyone got
pretty unsettled.(read sea sick). The next day an announcement was made to the effect that we would be skipping Grand Turk due to "noro-virus" reports. Again,
probably a good decision on the Captains part, but remember, this wasn't a stellar itinerary to begin with; Grand Turk, San Juan, and St Maartin isn't the best of the Eastern Caribbean in the first place, but hey, we went for the food,
rest, and excellent service that we had come to expect from Holland America.
First, DO NOT book a Stearn Cabin unless you want a fresh dusting of black soot
on your verandah every day with your morning coffee. Second, the crew is now mostly indonesian, and though they are trying hard, they totally lack the enthusiasm of other crews we have experienced. Third, the food has totally
taken a turn for the worse since we were last aboard, not even CLOSE to the offerings on Celebrity or Princess for the same price. An example was the Master
Chefs Dinner, "a Rudy Soloman" Signature Experience". It was advertised at $59.95
extra per person, and was pretty good compared to the standard Lido fare offered
upstairs. BUT, 2 days later we were informed that they failed to charge us an EXTRA $30 EACH for the wines which were not included ! DECEPTIVE to say the least!
Was the Dinner Worth $60 extra? Maybe. but $90? Absolutely not, especially when
you didn't meet the Chef. For that kind of money, I EXPECT to meet the Chef, a
Clone, or Rudi's Cousin. (I realize he can't be on board all the time).
Entertainment was just O.K. The Ship is now Dated and out of step with the new
Superliners Ala, Solstice, Ruby, and Oasis of the Seas. A couple of high end jewelry shops and an Aspirin Stand, Cheap and Used Robes in the Cabin, Luke Warm
Steam Rooms and Aroma therapy suites with little or no AROMA, makes the Spa Package a RIPOFF, along with the $20 a sheet charge for photographs. They have
these things called "digital camera's" and I-pads now, that take BETTER pictures
and Videos FOR FREE ! HELLO ! The same goes for their "Windows Workshops"
They were SUPPOSED to be teaching an introduction to "Windows 8". Yet the 20
laptops in the lab had no Windows 8 on them. The instructor said there were 20 brand new laptops in the hold with windows 8, but she hadn't had time to set them up yet! Is it just ME? Or was I beginning to see a trend here. We RE-CHRISTENED the Ship "PROUD-MARY" cuz she just kept Rollin,Rollin, Rollin on the River! By the time we reached San Juan, (a poverty stricken, crime ridden port), I was looking up return airfare to florida, ready to jump ship. The "POLICE PROTEST" in the streets THAT DAY, because the government owes 8 million in back pay to their "cities finest" was a lovely touch; and when we arrived the next day in St.Maartins, Guess who was at the next dock to greet us? Yep, the Famous "Carnival Dream" BROKEN DOWN in all her Glory! But Hey, who am I to complain? We only spent 2 days in our cabin feeling Queezy, the BEST was yet to come! Dis-Embarkation, my FAVORITE part of the cruise! What a COMPLETELY disorganized and TOTALLY MISHANDLED operation that was! Leaving from Pier 19, (with our car in the pier 19 parking garage), ARRIVING at Pier 4 with Expedited Departure and a PROMISE of a complimentary shuttle! Only guess what? You're getting the hang of this by now aren't you you brilliant little cruisers. NO Shuttle, BAZINGA, a $10 taxi and 45 minutes to get to my $105 dollar a week car parking garage!
The Dutch have learned how to Lie with a smile, and their new motto has become
"A Tradition of Mediocrity". Steer Well Clear Cruisers ! You probably won't get
sick aboard, but if the bland about "average" food and Boring itinerery,
don't kill ya, trying to get off the ship just might do the trick!!