Westerdam Cruise Review by TexasDavid7: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
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The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
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 More 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. Less
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Cabin review: 7085
Our room was called a Neptune Suite. There is a long list of perks that come with the room and we made use of most of them. Breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill, using the private Neptune Suite with concierge service [not to mention snacks], and complimentary laundry service [which we put to use a lot]. The veranda was approximately 8' x 22'. Very large and had a dining table w/4 chairs, 2 comfortable lounge chairs w/ a small table. There was good visibility and the deck was clean.The bath was exceptional in that there were two sinks and two showers of which one was also a spa tub. Very spacious. To enter the bath, you first came through a small area with extra closet space that had a make-up chair with a counter and lighted mirror.The bed was a king size and comfortable. The couch made into a bed although we only sat on it. It was lumpy. The desk was handy for it was used many times each day. There was a small table and two chairs in the room. I do not know how many square feet the room was but it was not less than 500 [including the veranda]. It was larger than my motorhome! A real treat to have been able to book this room.
Port and Shore Excursions
This city tour was a part of the trip out to the Mendenhall Glacier and back. The operator took a different route through town each way explaining where we were and what we were seeing. It was not an extensive tour of the city but sufficient as a portion of another excursion.
Juneau was cold [high 40's] and raining. We stood around waiting for our tour a long time out in this mess. When we finally boarded a bus and got warmed up, we enjoyed the trip up to the glacier. If you have any idea that you might like to see the Mendenhall Glacier, better not wait as it is receding rapidly. Especially enjoyed the falls at the base of the glacier, but be warned that it is a long walk. Don't be on that walk when the bus comes for you.
The Duck is a bus that takes you on a city tour and then turns into a boat when it gets to the harbor. There you get out on the water and see the city from another prospective. The operators are fun and seemed to be having as much fun as we were. This was the second time we have been on this excursion. Enjoyed it both times.
Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest
One of our best tours ever. This tour company [Allen Marine] has tours in several cities that we have been on and they never disappoint. On this adventure we saw lots of wildlife including Sea Otters, Bald Eagles, and Humpback Whales. There was plenty of fine scenery and very cool but sunshiny weather. NO rain! The boat we went on met us at the ship, not on the dock. It was large, dry, and warm if you stayed on the lower deck. For the adventurous type, there was an upper deck that got you closer to nature as well as giving you a red nose! On board was a marine biologist/historian. There were also binoculars to use. Also there is a snack bar and two restrooms.
We arrived over an hour late in Victoria [after 7PM] and our excursion was cancelled. We took a two seat with driver bicycle ride into town. The driver peddled us into the city explaining the sights as we went. The bike had a roof and we were provided with a blanket to hold across our laps as the weather was cold and quite windy. By the time we got to the town center, it was nearly time to get back to the ship so we walked leisurely along the harbor back to the ship. This is a beautiful city and I especially liked it for there was no time or place for my wife to stop and shop! We will have to visit here again when there is more time to enjoy it.