THE GOOD. We chose to use HAL's Flightease and will use it again. Flightease books your flight(s), transfers, and hotel stays. There are HAL personnel at every turn to make sure you are taken good care of. I highly recommend Flightease. As we made our way from South Texas towards Seattle, our connection at DFW made us check our carry-ons right at the gate. No time to pull jewelry, cameras, shaving kits, cosmetic bags or anything else. "You can pick them up at baggage claim in Seattle." RIGHT! You guessed it. Our luggage made it fine but no carry-ons. The HAL folks on station in SEA-TAC went right to work to get Alaska Airlines and American Airlines busy finding our bags. The HAL folks at our hotel keep up the pressure and the concierge in the Neptune Lounge on board the Westerdam picked up the baton and continued to work for us - and 30 minutes before the ship sailed, our carry-ons arrived. Yes, I will continue to use Flightease!
THE GOOD. Embarkation went really fast because we booked a Neptune Suite #7085 and a perk is that we were put in a line to check in that was empty while the standard line was quite long. It moved quickly however. As we boarded the ship, we were taken to our already prepared room on a service elevator thereby missing the lines waiting for the regular elevators. This is the first time we have ever had a suite and immensely enjoyed the perks! Particularly the Neptune Lounge and the breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill [reserved for suite guest only]. No brag, just fact.
THE GOOD. The ship had just come from a refit a month before. It was clean and sharp. She looked good. Yes, you can tell that she isn't a new ship, but she is in fine shape. I have nothing negative to say about the Westerdam. All the crew smiled, were friendly, and as helpful as they could be considering that many of them had just started after the refit. The passengers that were on board were mostly older and a mix of nationalities. There were some children but not many and the ones I did notice were well behaved.
THE GOOD AND THE BAD. The food was a mix. Almost everything I ordered came well prepared and tasty, but I'm easy to please. Room service came when we asked for it to be delivered such as when we had an early excursion. Lido was always crowded and we only found someone serving ice cream one time. For a buffet, the Lido is good, but finding a place to sit was a challenge. The MDR was above par. We like "anytime dinning" and especially like to share a table and meet new people. Not every dish was great, not every menu had lots of items I was interest in, but on the whole - very satisfactory. HOWEVER, the Pinnacle Grill at one breakfast didn't bring my DW her meal until the rest of our party had nearly finished our plates! Totally unacceptable. I get better service than that at Dairy Queen. We also chose to dine at "An Evening at Le Cirque" [booked before we sailed]. The meal was quite good until the Chateaubriand, which was overdone. It was still good but the meal wasn't worth the extra fare. The steak in the MDR was ever bit as tasty. As a side note, on the Zuiderdam we went to Le Cirque and had probably the finest meal I have ever had at sea!!!
THE BLAND. There were several evenings where the HAL's entertainers put on a show. They worked hard and showed lots of talent, but the performance wasn't finely tuned. However, give them kudos for on the night with the storm and the bow bouncing in the seas, they trooped on. May have been their best performance. There was a percussion group called Recycled Percussion that played one night. They worked hard but didn't wow me.
THE UGLY. The weather on the way from Ketchikan to Victoria had apparent winds of 75 knots. Now HAL can't control the weather, but the upside was that the ship handled it very well.
CONCLUSION. I do wish that we had more time in each port, but we didn't go to Alaska to visit ports. We went for the scenery which was terrific.
GOOD. Disembarkation seemed to me to be a bit disorganized, but that was my fault. It did start a few minutes late, but when it started - it went really well. Again, Flightease was on the job! There is a program on HAL ships at Seattle where for a minimum fee they take your bags from your room, check them all the way to you destination for you, and even check you in with your airline thereby providing you a boarding pass before you even leave the ship. One nice thing is that you don't have to worry about a bag being overweight. No extra charge for an overweight bag! One of our bags weighed 71 lbs. and we were not charged an overage fee. Do not disembark without taking advantage of this program. I hope your next voyage on Holland America Lines is as wonderful as the ones we have had.