I had high hopes for the Westerdam and HAL. I have previously sailed with Celebrity and Disney and I was hoping that HAL wouldn't disappoint. Sadly, I was mistaken. The only thing that I could confidently say was awesome, was this ship's itinerary. The ports of call were fantastic, breath taking, and beautiful. Take advantage of the port of calls. We booked all of our excursions with local groups not through HAL. HAL offered the same excursion to Majorie Glacier in Juneau and it double what we paid for using the local merchants. In Sitka, book Gallant Adventures with Paul, and you will not be disappointed. No need to get off the boat in Victoria to visit the gardens. It is dark by the time you dock.
My group of 5 booked the largest inside staterooms. They were comfortable, clean, and quiet. Danny, our room steward, was awesome and very quick with any requests.
Westerdam, and I am assuming HAL in general, seems to cater to the older generations. The entire ship was "dead" quiet by 11 pm and any activities after then was hard to find. We ended up having cocktails and sharing stories on Phillipino Independence day with the crew outside on the Lido deck for several nights.
The food was o.k. to survive on but not enjoyable. Maybe since the majority of the passengers were 75+ and have desensitized taste buds HAL believed to make the food tasteless. Good idea to save money on spices? The dining experience at Pinnacle Grill was horrible. Plain and simple. The wait staff forgot most of the order, and were to preoccupied with getting the officers table cleaned, set, and wine glasses polished. Then they came to our table. After waiting 25 minutes for two crab cakes the size of a half dollar to come out of the kitchen, the staff placed the cakes 10 feet from the table on a buffet cart. Forgotten, alone, and getting colder, the crew neglected the food and hurried over to the officers to make sure their wine was filled. My party walked out and the Pinnacle Grill was clearly HAL's method of giving a donation to the company. What a waste.
On a good note, bring as much wine as possible on board. It was a great way to enjoy the days, scenery, and save some money.
The entertainment was hit or miss. The illusionist and comedian were awesome!!! Great job! The casino was quiet and Alaina was a great dealer.
Someone please let the HAL Cats and the singer off the boat and drive away as fast as possible. Yet again, maybe this is HAL's way of saving money. Hire crappy singers to a boat full of hearing aid users. They can't hear it! Man, what a clever business plan.
Overall, Alaska made this trip. I will never go on HAL again. Maybe I will change my mind when I am much older and instead of putting a family member's name down on my emergency contact forms, I'll put the local undertaker. Seems to fit the average age of the passengers. We even had a "Rescue 911" emergency code called on our floor. Not everyday you see an AED machine, stretchers, and every piece of medical equipment run down the hallway. Poor guy had to get taken off the boat and flown to Anchorage. I wonder if this is what happens to repeat customers of HAL... good thing I won't find out...