We parked at Park and Fly -- great operation. They got us right over to the ship, and we walked right in, put the luggage through the scanner, walked through the body scanner -- and the fire alarm went off in the building. All the employees started yelling -- get out! get out! So we grabbed our stuff and exited the building. After standing around for about 45 minutes they let us back in. We found out later it was some electrical problem in the building's elevator shaft. Nothing to do with the ship -- people onboard didn't even know about it.
We went right to our Mariner's lunch and found out from the people seated next to us that the cabins were ready. Immediately after lunch we went to our cabin. No sooner had we closed the door when there was a knock -- our luggage arrived! We unpacked and were on our way to the upper deck when there was another knock -- our cabin steward, Faisol. He was checking to see how many pieces of our luggage he needed to find -- we said, none, it's here. He and his assistant, Chamid, were wonderful all week. We got the ice we requested every day, and we always found our cabin was cleaned when we went out for breakfast. Unlike the last ship we were on (Epic), there were never rows of carts in all the hallways at all times of the day. A pleasure not to have to try and walk by 10 carts to get to the elevators.
And the Room Service people pick up the trays in a timely fashion. I like the card on the tray asking you not to put the dirty dishes in the hall. That's another thing we had to walk around on the Epic.
The Verandah was large, but the glass is never cleaned. So if you're sitting in the chairs you can barely see the ocean! The spray was very strong on this trip, so I used wet wipes on the chairs and the rails to get the crusted salt off everything. Faisol was very good -- he took in the chair pads so they didn't get damp or salty.
We love this ship -- the decor, the cabin configurations and size, the fresh flowers, the service, the crew. The Culinary Arts Center is always fun -- and yummy. We enjoyed the shows, the singers/dancers do a great job. I liked the the Show Tunes night wasn't just Phantom of the Opera (again!) -- they threw in some movie themes (007 and Pink Panther). And the Rockin' Roadhouse was a fun presentation -- a little story to go along with the country songs. Magician was good, we went to see his up-close show in the Culinary Arts Center also.
Westerdam is definitely for an older, quieter group. No waterparks, rock climbing walls, or loud music at the pool. Also -- not a lot of evening activity outside of some music and dancing. Suits me just fine. We love being able to sit inside in the Crow's Nest when it's too hot or too breezy to be outside. The shops are the same as all the other ships, on the other cruise lines as well. Same $10 bazaar items, same bead bracelets, same watch sets, etc. etc. Although -- Epic had a bargain sale on the last day. We picked up nice embroidered NCL T-shirts for $6 and clearance beads (just beads) for $4.50.
We ate in Pinnacle Grill the first night -- a gift from our travel agent. Not something we normally do. We were seated with another couple and had a great time. The food was outstanding and our waiter brought us almost everything on the menu! We had multiple appetizers and multiple desserts. He was so funny. If someone was still eating he would bring another appetizer to the couple who were not -- just something to eat while you wait! Portions were large, and everything was wonderful.
The Mariner Brunch was sort of underwhelming. The menu was only ok and we did not get our tiles at the tables. I asked on the way out and was told the door man had to go get more. So we waited, but I saw many people leaving that were unaware they were missing out on their gift. When we got in the elevator and were looking at the tiles someone asked me where I got it. When I explained that we get a tile at every Mariner's Brunch they said this was their first time as a Mariner and didn't get one. I told them to go back down and get it from the door man. Poor planning on HAL's part.
We had a table for 2 in the Vista Dining Room. Our waiter, Wawan was very efficient. We got everything we ordered in a timely manner. We felt the food was good, and we always had enough to eat. It's a subjective category, everyone's tastes differ. Since we do not dress up for formal night we opted to go to the Lido Restaurant on the first formal night. (I hope the gentleman who sat across from us in Vista every night, who came dressed in short shorts and flip flops, at least put on a pair of pants that evening!) In the past, HAL has had a better dinner experience in the Lido. They used to have just about the same meal as the dining room, in a more casual atmosphere. They used to let you grab your appetizer, then they would bring you your entree. It's a shame that has gone away. That wasn't full service, but it was some service for dinner.
On the 2nd formal night we tried Canaletto -- a "small plate" Italian restaurant inside the Lido Restaurant. We couldn't get 6pm reservations, so we opted for 5:30. It was good. Individual appetizers, shared pasta and main dish. Strange having to mutually decide on a pasta dish and a main entree to share. Not always an easy thing to do. For $10pp this was a bargain as far as specialty restaurants go. I'm not a big fan of them -- it feels like they hold back the good food from Vista to serve in Pinnacle and Canaletto. That may be exactly the case, but I wish it were less obvious.
We attended the 5pm Bruchetta and $5 wine function once. The bruchetta was good (1 small one seemed not enough) and they passed out the recipe cards from the Culinary Arts Center, but the cocktails/wine weren't so great. We tried the $3 Martini sampling once -- Dirty Martinis are definitely not my thing.
The ports were fine. We've been there before so we didn't do any excursions. Sat at Margaritaville's pool in Grand Turk, walked around San Juan, sat at the beach in St. Maarten, We were disappointed that we were unable to get off at Half Moon Cay -- it's our favorite private island. Next time, we hope. We spent the day at the pool on Lido.
We would most assuredly go with HAL again. And I'd go back on the Westerdam for sure. I would recommend this to my friends without hesitation, but I would not recommend it to young couples or people looking to party. This is not a party ship by any stretch of the imagination.