I have a pictoral review posted on the forums page: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1885530
Holland America's process was quick and painless for getting on board. We went through security, registered and got our boarding cards very quickly. They gave us a group number for boarding. We were group 5. I liked that process because we got to take a seat and wait for our group number to be called. The folks on Princess across the room were all standing in line waiting for boarding to begin.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that our rooms were ready immediately upon boarding. I don't know if this is Holland America's norm, but it wasn't the case on Norwegian when I cruised before. We were in a class D large ocean view room. The room was adequately sized, but a little cramped for 3. Mom and I took up all of the closet space (excpet for my husband's suit). Granted there were 4 life jackets, the bedding for the sofabed, and a safe in the closets. DH used the drawers at the foot of the bed and at the nightstand. Be warned: there are only 2 outlets in the room, and they are both at the desk. Bring your power strips and maybe an extension cord if you want enough plugs for all of your electronics. Mom slept on the sofa bed. I had been warned they were uncomfortable, so I brought an air matress for her. I'm glad I did or she would have been miserable during the trip.
One of the cabinets contained a minifridge stocked with minibar items. We asked our steward to have all of those things removed so we could chill the sodas and wine we brought on board. (Yes, Holland America allows you to do that.)
The food was generally good but not great. My mom, who had sailed on some higher end cruise lines and Holland America, was disappointed with the food. I think that in general the quality of food on the cruise lines has declined. If you want the amazing food that people experienced years ago, you must expect to pay for the upgraded restaurants or sail on one of the higher end lines (like Crystal or Seabourn).
The Westerdam is a very nice ship. It was built in 2004 and refurbished in 2010. The interior is well maintained. My only criticism on the cleanliness was the windows. I know it's difficult to keep windows clean at sea, but even when we were in Seattle, I did not see any window cleaning going on. Our cabin had a window, but it was filthy. Even the public rooms where we spent a great deal of time looking out at the beautiful vistas had dirty windows. This really detracted from the scenic views.
We spent a lot of time on the Lido Deck-Deck 9. It has 2 pools. The aft pool is open to the air and has a great view of the ocean. In the middle is the Lido Deck Restaurant. There are 2 sides, and with a couple of exceptions, the same menu is served on both sides. At less busy times, one side will close. The restaurant is divided into several serving stations, and I rarely found that the line was terribly long. For the first 48 hrs there is no self-service on the Lido. This is to prevent the spread of germs, but that did make the lines move a little slower. Past the Lido Restaurant was the Lido Pool. This pool is enclosed with a retractable roof. That's a great concept for an Alaska voyage.
Forward from the Lido pool was the spa. It contained the Hydrotheray pool and thermal suites. The salon and the fitness center are there too. One odd thing about the spa was that the forward elevators were in inside the entrance to the spa. As a result, when I walked out of the hydrotheray pool or the thermal suites to go to the locker room, I would pass people waiting for the elevator. It was a little weird. Mom and I signed up for the hydrotherapy and thermal suite pass for the whole cruise. It was being discounted for $299 for two. I enjoyed it, but I'm not sure now it was totally worth it. There was so much to do during the cruise, we didn't use this perk every day. In the future, I think I would look into how much a day pass is and compare the cost of using it for 1 or 2 days vs. buying the pass for the whole week.
One of my favorite places to hang out was The Crow's Nest on Deck 10. You can get there using the forward elevators or by climbing the circular stairs at the Lido Pool. One part of the area is bar, another coffee shop, another internet and another library. There are floor to ceiling windows overlooking the ocean and some comfy recliner chairs. The happy hour specials were always offered here. The first and last days of the cruise they were buy one drink get the second for $1. All of the other days it was buy one, get the second 50% off. The guitarist played here also. Good times.
We ate breakfast in the Lido every day. The omelet station was wonderful with every ingredient you could think of including shrimp. I think I only waited in line for more than 5 minutes once. There were many wonderful pastries available and fresh fruit. There was another line with eggs to order or prescrambled eggs, breakfast meats, cereals both hot and cold. I never went through that line. If I didn't have an omelet, I went to the eggs Benedict station. This was more than just eggs Benedict, though. There was crab, smoked salmon, spinach, and much more! Very yummy! There were tons of fruit juice choices. I know for sure that the OJ was fresh squeezed. I cannot be certain of the others, but they were good.
We had a wonderful time at all of our ports of call. We did not book any excursions through Holland America. Instead I did my research on the internet ahead of time. We either used local transportation/shuttles and explored things on our own or booked through outside companies.
Our 15th wedding anniversary was during the cruise. I thought it was a nice touch that the ship sent us a card on that day and delivered a cake to us at dinner. I still don't know how they knew.
One of our favorite organized activities was Martini Madness at the Atrium Bar. Henry was the main bartender for this event. He was engaging, entertaining, and just plain fun. The plan was for 3 martini samples for $3 each. Henry was generous with his pours and frequently refilled folks' glasses with his "left-overs." He also mixed a "bonus" martini with all of the left-overs that was pretty good. $9 wasn't a bad price for quite a bit of drink and even more fun and laughter. I just wish we had discovered this event earlier in the cruise. It was offered each evening, and Henry developed quite a following.
I enjoyed all of our ports of call. My only complaint is that our time in each was too short. We arrived late in the day in Juneau and Victoria, and many things of interest were closed.
Disembarkation was easy and painless. We put our luggage out the night before. We had plenty of time to eat breakfast and then walk out at our assigned time. It was a much better experience than I remember on Norwegian where we did the early disembarkation carrying all of our luggage.