Our family of seven headed to Port Everglades through a massive traffic jam in our rented minivan. Port security asked two of us for identification which we provided and we slowly made our way to Pier 19.
Boarding at Fort Lauderdale Pier 19, you must have passports and boarding pass and health survey to board. Unfortunately, husband had my passport and he was returning the rental car at FLL. I was able to be seated in the terminal to wait for his return. In about one hour, he returned by taxi through the traffic jam at the port. We got into the line and moved quickly to the registration desks. Because we had sailed before, they had our photos from the previous trip in 2008. Our son had his photo quickly taken and our sea passes were issued. We were now on board and after dropping our hand luggage off in our room, we headed for the Lido deck for lunch. It was about 2:30pm and the Lido was crowded but we found lunch and a place to sit. Our ship was scheduled to depart at 4pm. We returned to our cabin located mid ship. It was more spacious than a standard balcony and the sofa converted to a single bed for our son. Our bed was a queen size bed. The bathroom had double sinks, a small shower with detachable shower head and a jetted bath with another detachable shower head. The shower was so tiny that the pan filled up with water so we found it better to shower in the tub. There were three small closets, one with shelves and safe, one where you can hang long items, and one that you can hang shorter items. There was a vanity with the hair dryer in the top left hand drawer. The remaining drawers you can use for small items. There is a media wall with TV and DVD player. There was a second desk area that my son used for his suitcase. He chose to live out of his suitcase instead of unpacking.
We went down the hall to my daughter's cabin, category SB. Her cabin is larger than ours. They had a king size bed and a large sofa that converted into a bed for two persons. She had a dressing area before you entered the bathroom. The bathroom seemed to be the same size and configuration as our bathroom. The amenities include Neptune Lounge and laundry. They enjoyed the Neptune Lounge located on 7. They really liked the Concierge. The laundry was very handy for her family of 4, including two young children, ages 1 and 3. They generate a great deal of laundry. They really appreciated the extra room and bathtub for the children.
Dining: We used the Lido Restaurant almost exclusively because of the young children. The menu for the Lido is different from the Vista Dining Room. There may be a couple items from the Vista that are served at the Lido. We ordered room service for a couple breakfasts and one dinner when surf and turf was on the Vista Room menu. My daughter and her family never entered the Vista Restaurant but my husband and I enjoyed the Mariner's Brunch and the final night in the Vista Room before we returned to Fort Lauderdale. The Lido Dining Room was adequate for our needs. The pasta station was excellent serving a terrific meat sauce. We found the Lido was crowded mostly at breakfast and lunch and less used at dinner. In fact they close down half the stations at dinner. We also found it inconvenient that the main buffet lines close at 8pm and because we are from the West Coast, head down to dinner late and almost missed dinner completely. After 8pm, there are limited offerings of pizza, pasta and drinks from 10:30pm until 11:30pm. After that you have to order room service with another limited menu if you are hungry. Room service for breakfast isn't that tasty. The best meal we had for room service was from the Vista Dining Menu; Filet Mignon and Lobster Tail with Escargot for appetizers. It was delicious! The service was great and they called to make sure we received our order. Room service tray had a small vase of flowers with the meal. I found that to be a nice touch.
Appearance of Cabins and Rooms: The cabins were kept clean by Joko and Dewa. The cabins were well maintained and the balconies had sufficient room and furniture. We have absolutely no complaints about our cabins except we couldn't use the balconies when our neighbors smoked. Because I am allergic to smoke, I had to retreat to my cabin. I am grateful I didn't get second hand smoke inside the cabin. I wish Holland America would have a no smoking policy on balconies like other cruise lines.
Appearance of the Ship: Outside of the ship, there were rusty areas but inside the ship, it was clean and well maintained. The rugs were clean and the areas kept very tidy by the staff. I did not use the exercise room but my son did and he said it was good. The public restrooms were very clean and consistently so. I appreciate the terry hand towels to wipe your hands. I have been on ships where the public restrooms were dirty and not kept up. There were potted orchids at every table at the Lido Restaurant. The staff was constantly cleaning tables so tables can be made available for other guests.
Pool Area: The hot tubs were usually filled and the swimming pool outside the Lido Restaurant had children swimming. Small children aren't allowed in the pool but there is a perimeter around the pool with overflow and the grandkids waded and splashed happily.
Amenities: The library is one of the better ship's libraries with some good selections to check out. There are magazines and newspapers also. The ship's computers for guests are located in the library. Outside the library is the Explorations Cafe for specialty coffees and desserts. We did not check out the DVD's or used the DVD player in our cabin.
Shows: We did not attend any shows since we were sleepy after dinner. I had heard from other guests that the pianist and comedienne were very good.
We do not agree with Cruise Critic posts that criticize Holland for bad food and a dirty ship. The food was on par with other lines and the facilities were far cleaner than other ships. This is our 14th sailing. In 2008, we sailed on Holland as part of a cruise tour and the food was superior. However, the overall experience on the Westerdam was more than adequate. It is a smaller and older ship and seem to vibrate or creak sometimes. However, we had no need for sea sickness patches that we brought because it was not that rocky where we were midship on 6.