We have just returned from a 7 day Caribbean cruise on the Westerdam. We have traveled on Holland America multiple times and always loved the boats and the service. To treat ourselves, we upgraded our cabin to a larger suite with a big balcony. We have not been on a Holland America cruise in almost 6 years. Embarkation was not a problem. We were shocked by the downward decline of the ship and our accommodations. The boat appeared old and in serious need of renovation. The carpeting throughout the ship looked old and dirty and the furniture looked original to the boats 2004 christening. We were afraid to walk on the floor of our cabin. The sheets on the bed were not big enough and I spent the night trying to remake the bed. We have never checked to see when a boat has been refurbished, but we will from now on.
The staff was, however, great and everyone was helpful and pleasant.
The seas appeared relatively calm, but the boat felt rocky and was not a pleasant cruising experience.
Our first port was Turks and Caicos which was cancelled due to a norovirus outbreak. We also heard that the boat did not go to Turks and Caicos the week before. This all sounds a little fishy and one of the explantations was that Holland America did not want to pay the high port fees. This is all a rumor, but one that gained currency with the passengers. I find it hard to believe that an entire island is closed due to norovirus. We also heard that other ships visited that port, and that port was one of the main reasons that we picked this boat. 2+sea days at the start of the cruise were a definite letdown. I tried to spend the first sea day in the spa, which also needs major renovation. The hydrotherapy pool also had some sort of a breakdown. The only part of the boat that appeared to be new was the gym which was clean and beautiful with new machines.
The food has also taken a nosedive. The shrimp that I was served in the Pinnacle on our first night was one shade from spoiled and the crab cakes had no crab. The lobster tails appeared to have been frozen many years ago. Cost cutting seemed everywhere. The Pinnacle grill needed dusting and a renovation. A good cleaning would have helped tremendously. In the MDR, clam chowder had no clams. Hot and sour shrimp soup had no shrimp. If you can't provide what you are selling, serve something else. The food did improve as the week went on, but I think that is designed to leave the guests with a good feeling.
The best food of the whole week was on the Bar B Q at Half Moon Cay. Simple food, hamburgers, hot dogs and fish.
On the plus side, Half Moon Cay is spectacular, a beautiful beach on what appears to be a deserted island with all of the amentities. When we lost the port day at Turks and Caicos, we would have been delighted with another stop there.
Entertainment with a ventriloquist who was great. Another great show was the steel drum and the karaoke night. The staff is really trying to give you a good time.
In general, you can see the deterioration of a great cruise line. These boats cannot compete with the newer, more elaborate ships that are out there. They try to make it up with great service and staff but that is not enough. I would avoid this class of ships unless they undergo a complete renovation and improved food. For our next cruise, we are looking at other cruise ship companies.