BACKGROUND Our first cruise with Holland America Lines. We've cruised with Princess and Royal Caribbean in the past but we found The MS Westerdam to be a very impressive ship with an outstanding crew. From the outside it looks huge, but in fact it holds fewer passengers than either of the ships we've been on before.
EMABARKATION Smooth, friendly and efficient. HAL and Port Everglades has this down to a science - Not like Port of Los Angeles (Yech!) The lifeboat drill was fast, easy to understand and organized. (painless)
OUTSTANDING SERVICE I can find nothing to complain about with any of the staff. I mean seriously - from the guys scraping and painting on deck to the Captain. Everyone is helpful and pleasant - always with a cheerful attitude. What a refreshing change from other lines. Our Stateroom steward was friendly, efficient and thorough. Our room wasn't just made up, but cleaned, replenished and organized several times a day in addition to the turn-down service.
SHORE EXCURSIONS The Western Caribbean cruise is good for those who just want to "hang out" at the beach or enjoy swimming, snorkeling, scuba or other outside activities. We took the horseback ride/swim on Grand Turk. I wouldn't call this a shopper's cruise.
STATEROOM We purchased a middle range veranda stateroom located in the forward third of the ship just above the promenade deck. Our particular room happened to be handicapped accessible, although neither of us are. This provided us with much more room than the non-accessible rooms. Our door was probably 30% wider, bathroom/shower was huge for a ship and the room was a little wider and longer (all to accommodate wheelchairs)
ENTERTAINMENT The shows on board were entertaining after the first night. there was the resident troupe of singer/dancers who also worked in various areas of the ship (shops/library/etc.)Plus a "Las Vegas style" magician, a rather funny standup comedian, a ventriloquist (we missed him), and A Female vocalist.
The cooking demonstration was top notch, though the Executive chef's Dutch accent was difficult for some Americans and Canadians to understand
DINING We opted to dine in the Vista Dining Room most nights where the food, choices and service were outstanding. We did not dine in the Pinnacle Grille (premier dining) As a former professional cook, I felt the quality, preparation and presentation was top notch. This does not even take into consideration the number of people served at each seating. The Lido Restaurant (buffet) provided different stations at breakfast Lunch and Dinner for a great variety! If one didn't like that, they could go to the pool where a hamburger/hotdog grill and a make-your-own taco bar would satisfy those afraid to try something new.
DISEMBARKATION Once again, organized, efficient and friendly. Breakfast buffet was opened early and the process began at 8 am. We were low priority because we had no flight or connection to make that day but we were still off the ship before 10 am. Once outside, we called our hotel and they sent a shuttle to pick us up.
SUMMARY After one cruise with Holland America, we're fans and will be taking another cruise with them soon.