This was our first experience cruising on Holland America. This was a roundtrip cruise to Alaska out of Seattle. We took this cruise because we wanted to go to the port of Sitka. We had cruised 11 times in the past on a different cruise line. I had also worked for one of the cruise lines in Alaska one year.
We traveled to Seattle by Amtrak and arrived only a couple hours before we needed to board the ship. Holland America did a great job of getting us through the boarding process. My wife is handicapped and they did everything they could to expedite our boarding so my wife would not have to stand around for a long time. We did get a photo background dropped on us during the boarding process but that was no big deal.
We got to our room 8010 a veranda and were very pleased with the room. Our luggage showed up within 5 minutes of our getting to our room and we got to meet our room steward at that time. At this point things were very positive for our first experience on Holland America.
We headed to the Lido to get something to eat and here is where things started to go down hill. The Lido has a very confusing layout. It is broken down into different sections but no clear designation of how you should get into line to get anything. They do make many hot items behind the counters and put them on an extremely hot plate that they hand to you. They will give you paper towel to try to hold onto the plates. They employees dishing food spend a lot of time talking with each other instead of paying attention to the passengers.
We then took a walk around the ship to find things we may like. The whole layout of the ship is confusing. You can figure things out but not easily. One floor to go from one end of the ship to the other you will walk through the majority of gift shops. On the Westerdam the sales people will hound you to come in and buy something or participate in all types of give aways. I felt like I was in a carnival midway being hounded by the carnies.
I found the crew, other then sales people, to be polite if you could get their attention, however they did not seem interested in doing their job. They seemed happier to just talk with each other instead of taking care of the passenger.
For me the décor was to dark and depressing. There were a few spots with lighter colors but not many. The furniture was very pretty to look at but very uncomfortable to sit in. I found very few comfortable places to sit in comfort.
There are very few activities onboard this ship and most the places you could get something to drink open late in the day. I do not drink but I had problems finding someplace just to get a soda.
We had traditional main dining. We were seated at a table for 6. Every night our wait staff would forget to bring someone their food or would bring someone the wrong food. They were very apologetic but you would figure after messing up one night you would check your orders the rest of the week but no every night a mistake was made.
Our room steward also had to be told of things that were not done or right. In fact when we got in the room there was a few things left behind from the past passengers. Again they were very apologetic.
One thing I did not like was the fact that exterior windows were very dirty and it was not just from sea water. I have been on many cruises and even worked on cruise ships and these were the dirtiest I had ever seen.
The photo shop was another big disappointment. We only buy the boarding picture because we like the picture with the name of the ship and sailing date. We were told by a couple of the sales people that we could not buy the single picture. We were told we had to buy a large package of $100 or more. On the last night I approached the manager and he told us we could have bought the single picture anytime we wanted. He did not seem happy that his staff was misleading passengers so they could sell a big picture package.
Now I know some of this seems petty but believe me there were many more small problems that all added up. We never felt comfortable or good on the ship. It was the first time we could not wait to get off a ship.
We did meet some nice people on the ship and we were in Alaska so the trip was not a total disaster, however I would never want to cruise on the Westerdam again. I know others like it and I am glad they do it is just not a good fit for us and it was very disappointing.