At the risk of sounding like a HAL Cheerleader - The Westerdam favorably lived up to our expectations for our latest cruise. The ship is lovely in the HAL tradition. The public areas were clean and in good repair as was our cabin. There may have been some textiles that were beginning to show their wear – but nothing distracting. The ship never felt overcrowded and lines were almost nonexistent except for the grilled sandwich line in the Lido :-) On day 2 or 3 we got a call from hotel staff asking if everything was acceptable and there was a printed card in the materials on the desk when we first arrived requesting we contact the front desk if there were any problems on the cruise so had there been problems we’d have felt encouraged to report it.
The boarding was painless – we arrived at the port (due to our shuttle from the Holiday Inn Express) about 10:45 and were in our room by 11:45. It rained for some of the later arrivals but it didn’t affect us. We’d had our TA request wheelchair assistance for DH for boarding. He was on the list when we arrived and that went well. We had a leisurely Mariner’s Lunch in the MDR sharing a table with other Mariners. In fact, one of the highlights of the cruise for us was choosing to sit with other folks at all of our breakfasts and lunches. Lots of interesting conversation! We met dozens of other passengers and the overall reaction of virtually all of them was positive.
Our VC stateroom 5162 was quiet and in good condition – our toilet and AC worked perfectly the entire trip. Our Cabin Steward was good and fulfilled our sailing day request for ice each time he made up the room for the entire cruise.
We had late seating in the MDR at a table for 6. Our tablemates were great fun and very interesting to chat with. The menu was well varied and the food well prepared – cold came cold and hot came hot. The prime rib and tenderloins in particular were surprisingly tender and could be ordered medium rare! The service staff worked hard and were attentive as was the wine steward. By the 3rd night they all called us by name and remembered things like who drank what with desert. At each meal, the Dining Room Manager came by every table to see if everything was as it should be. She was constantly active in the dining room. On “formal night” in the MDR only a few men wore tuxes but virtually all wore a jacket and tie. The very few exceptions wore either a jacket or a dress shirt and tie.
The evening shows in the Vista Lounge were pretty much as expected – not Broadway but entertaining. The piano bar was fun. The BB King entertainers were great and were in the Queen’s Lounge most nights as well as the Vista for a big show one night. We didn’t spend time in the Casino so I can’t speak to that although there did seem to be a lot of folks in there most sea time. The computer classes with Emily were excellent for anyone who has Windows 8 or was planning on getting a devise with it in the near future (like we’re doing for Christmas). She was also available every day for at least an hour for us to practice, to give personal help or answer questions specific for passengers.
Captain John Scott turned out to be a good “tooter” and when he came on the PA each day he gave us the navigational information plain and simple. Eric the CD was one of our favorites – he didn’t act all “full of himself” and when he announced the daily activities we felt he was being informative rather than feeling we were being “nickled and dimed”.
Grand Turk – an air conditioned bus tour of the island then some T-shirt shopping and back to the ship for lunch.
San Juan – it rained shortly after our arrival but cleared up by 1:30 or so. We went on a 55 minute small boat tour of the harbor and city walls with “San Juan Water Tours” down by Pier 6. We’d made a reservation ahead of time (they accept walk-ups) and ended up being the only 2 on our tour. Luis, the owner/captain was a nice person and very knowledgeable. Afterwards, we rode the free open trolley all around the old town. (including all the way up to the entrance to the Fort.)
Phillipsburg – we went on a tour with “Bernards Tours” to Moho Beach to see the low flying airplane landings and have lunch at the beachfront Sunset Bar and Grill. With 4 or 5 ships in port that day and Westerdam leaving at 3pm we were leery about counting on a cab although there were folks who did that. We picked up a couple of t-shirts and it was time to reboard. Everyone we talked to agreed we all would have liked a couple more hours on St Maarten.
Half Moon Cay – Tenders are Tenders are Tenders …. But once on the Cay it was lovely and the beachgoers had a good time. The Rum Punch at a Cay bar was outstanding. ïŠ
All in all … we had a great time and definitely felt we got our money’s worth. ….. I’m sad today thinking about somebody else in MY cabin enjoying all MY FUN!!! ïŠ