We did our second consecutive Thanksgiving cruise with HAL on the Westerdaam and we have come away from both extremely pleased with the ship, its service personnel, its itinerary and especially the food. In over 15 years of cruising...mostly aboard Princess, we switched to HAL two years ago after dealing with an extremely unpleasant maitr 'd aboard the Grand Princess. While Westerdaam is not nearly as glitzy as any of the Princess ships, she comes across as a regal and dignified aging dowager, wise and self-assured and gracious to all. The food, though not nearly as varied as the food on the Princess ships, was appreciably better in quality and preparation. The dining room filets were really filets rather than overcooked hockey pucks we found standard on Princess. We also found the dining room steaks to be equal quality to those we had at Le Cirque, one of Westerdaam's specialty restaurants. The dining room wine list was not as extensive nor as pricey is the wine list at Le Cirque but the reasonably priced dining room wines were descent and enjoyable.
On our most recent trip we encountered extreme cautions to prevent an epidemic of Noro virus which has plagued, not only HAL, but most of the cruise lines sailing out of Fort Lauderdale. The cautions must have been effective because I was aware of no widespread outbreak of illness of any kind. Two years ago when we returned to Fort Lauderdale we also avoided a Noro outbreak but we saw numerous other ships flying quarantine flags. I did not notice any quarantine flags flying when we returned this year.
Our cabin stewards on both voyages were very attentive, generally available and quick to respond to our requests.
On this cruise Westrerdaam had a very good selection of reasonably-priced excursions. As an experienced Scuba diver in my earlier years, I decided to try the SNUBA excursions which is billed as a cross between snorkeling and scuba diving. It really is more like scuba diving because you breath through a regulator but you're attached to an air hose connected to a tank which floats on the surface. The hose is about 15 feet long so it limits your depth to less than that. It's a great way to try out scuba but as a former diver out found it quite limiting and much prefer regular scuba diving. As I recall, the cost was about $100 which included 45 minutes of snorkeling and 45 minutes of snuba...very reasonable for the time and quality instruction.
Overall, our experience with HAL and the Westerdaam has been very positive and I would have no hesitation in recommending HAL to a friend.