Westerdam Cruise Review 10 Day MEDITERRANEAN ENCHANTMENT
We sailed on June 9th, 2007 Group of 5 - Ages 29 - 44 J Class Cabin - Main Deck Booked Online and Phone
We traveled with 5 members of our group all long times friends with a wide ranges of ages. We are adventuresome and are city dwellers.
We flew from Chicago to JFK then on to Rome on American Airlines. Arrived in Rome in the early morning the day before the cruise. Took a train from the Airport to the main Termmi station (10 Euro's) Walked about 4 blocks to our hotel. We stayed at a small hotel and rooming house called Ares Rooms near the Termmi station. Small but, worked for one night. And about 40 euro each. Just remember that 5 of us in one room, one bathroom one shower. Thank goodness we are all friends.
Next morning after some breakfast and quick sightseeing were off on the Termmi station to get onboard our train to the port of Civitavecchia. This was a wonderful train ride, you got to see lots of the city and countryside along the way, and it was only 7 euros each. (Note - its very crowed and used by locals, if you have a lot of luggage and not used to riding on crowed commuter trains don't' try this. Take a rented Car.)
Upon arriving in Civitavecchia main station, cabs and taxis were everywhere. About 15 euros for a van load to get to the ship. Takes about 10 min to get to the Holland America embarking area. Once arrived the checking process was 10 min. the best I have ever seen any cruise line. It pays to do all your online Pre-Check in stuff in advance. All we had to do was show ID's and the credit card and away we went.
After we drooped off our stuff in our stateroom we heading for a quick bite and a refreshing cocktail out on deck. After this is back to our rooms for a quick nap before the Mandatory life boat drill at 430pm before departure at 6pm. It's not the best part of the trip people but, it might save your live.
The Cabins- The cabins are nice on the Westerdam. We had 3 people in our room so we booked a larger inside stateroom. J1019. Wow about 200 sq ft of comfort. The room was nice a calm with blue, tan, and brown accents. Our room had the standard amenities two twin beds that convert to a queen-size bed, bathroom with shower, minibar, TV, in room movies, telephone, and data port. Even with the pull out bed for the 3rd person there were still lots of room to move about the cabin. This was a J class cabin on the main deck. We really enjoyed his location, a few steps from the elevators for easy access to the Vista Show Lounge and access to the upper decks of the pool and explorations lounge which we spent about of our times. This location also came in handy for excursion tour days, when you had to meet in the Vista Lounge, less then 50 steps and you are there.
Vista Dining Room is one beautiful room, worthy of the excellent meals served there. A grand stairway cuts through the center of the room, linking upper and lower levels. The upper level has an intimate feeling. The ceiling is glass, muted-multi colored morning glory style ceiling fixtures, which cast a serene rainbow glow. Fine Rosenthal China and sparkling stemware on crisp white table linens lay in wait for you. All the meals here were fantastic. From the rack of lamb to the lobster, this place was completely satisfying to the pallet.
The Lido Restaurant - with its pool and terrace on one side and the ocean all around this is a wonderful place, there is no match for the extensive menu, such as carved meats, fresh seafood, fruits and vegetables, pastas, pizza station and salads. And as always, impeccable service provided by the attentive, yet unobtrusive staff which is never far away. And who doesn't like ice cream and pizza 18 hours everyday.
The Crows Nest- The forward upper lounge area... A nice bar area with wonderful seating in a relaxed atmosphere, entertainment varied between a piano player and a house band, nice area for dancing. Nice for an after dinner drink and to mix and mingle.
Explorations Cafe - A grand coffee house environment where you can browse through one of the best selections of books, check out DVDs for cabin viewing, play board games or simply read the morning paper. The coffee drinks were extra, but, if you are a city dweller, $2 bucks for a cappuccino is no big deal. (Note cappuccino's and espressos are free in the dinning room with dinner). Our group spent a number of evening relaxing in this lounge. I think we are bringing the games Yatzzee and Sorry back. We seemed to attract a crowd nightly when we played.
Entertainment and Fun
The Pools - Westerdam has two pools: The Lido Pool and a smaller adult aft pool, both popular for sunning, swimming, and napping. The aft pool is surrounded by a teak deck and has two adjoining whirlpools, while the Lido area has three whirlpools and a composite deck that's soft and cool to bare feet. The alt pool at one time was for adults only, but on this past trip, I did not see any signage declaring this to be true. But after 7pm most evening this area of the ship was quiet and a wonderful place to have a late night dip under the stars.
Northern Lights Nightclub- Well, a lot can said for what people call a nightclub- It reminded me a Holiday Inn lounge of the 70's with a disco ball. I think if the cruise lines would let the DJ's be DJ's and let them do their thing, the music programming would be better. YMCA twice in a 2 hour period, kids lets get real. (And no it wasn't 70's Night) I realize they are aiming at a general 25- 55 year old Market, but there are other venues for that. Let the 30- something's dance.
Vista Show Lounge - There was a different show every night. And ranges from Magicians, to vocal artists to Las Vegas style productions. All were nicely done and enjoyable. One Note - Ms. Alfreda Gerald was one of the best Vocal Performers I have seen in a long time. Great soulful voice, she made for a wonderful evening. Well done floor shows by the house dancers.
Casino - Nice casino, if you are used to Vegas, Look away, Look far away. But, if ya just want to feel like Vegas for a few hours, then jump right on in. Lots of slots, a few table games and a few tournaments during the cruise. Older crowd in the early evening, a bit younger in the late night hours. Nice room.
Shore excursions - We took several of the tour excursions that Holland America offered. They had it was a nice choice of tours include something for everyone's ability or age. As I can not walk for long periods of time, the staff helped pick up tours that would best work with my abilities and take in account for everyone in our party. (Note- on the tour information that is listed from Holland America most are marked difficult. Check with the Tour Desk, most of them are listed that way because most of Europe is not wheelchair friendly). If you can walk most tours are okay for you. The Highlights Tour of Tunis and the Tour of Pompeii were standouts offered by Holland America.
The Ports of Call-
Rome - So much can be said about Rome. Is the capital city of Italy and of the Lazio region, as well as the country's largest and most populous areas, with more than 2 million residents? We arrived in Rome a day before the cruise to experience all that is Rome. We took a tour of the Coliseum which was wonderful; it's truly amazing once you see it in person. Just break taking. If you have time, just spend an afternoon wondering around. It is amazing what you will find off the beaten path. If you are urban and city savvy, take a local train to the end of the line and back for a real view of the city. Costs about 8 euros each way. Beware of Pickpockets near the train stations and big attractions. Always use a traveler's wallet.
Florence- Livorno is the port city to Florence and Pisa, the gateway to Tuscany. We took the shuttle bus into Florence for a look around this famous city. Wonderful, the best-known site and crowning architectural jewel of Florence is the domed cathedral of the city, Santa Maria del Fiore, known as The Duomo. The magnificent dome was built by Filippo Brunelleschi. This was jaw dropping and a must see when in Florence. We had a wonderful Coffee Break here. (Note- the tour buses can only come within a few miles of city limits - so there is a 10 min walk from the bus to your tour meeting area.) COMFORTABLE SHOES A MUST
Tunisia, officially the Tunisian Republic on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa. It is the northernmost African country and the smallest of the nations situated along the Atlas mountain range. This was very cool. This was the most exciting experience for me. We docked in La Goulette just outside Tunis the Capital city in Tunisia. The city center is a cultural mix of English, French and Arabic speaking people. Beware of many of the customs in this part of the world. For most women, no shoulders and knees can be shown. Its best to take a cruise ship excursion here, unless you are familiar with Middle Eastern culture. The Holland America tour" highlights" tour is wonderful about 4 hours and gives you just enough time to spark your interests from the comfort of a tour bus, with a few stops for pictures. Malta is wonderful and I would love to visit again. This trip was unplanned, since the Westerdam was due to call at Palma de Majorca, and Malta was substituted port at the last minute. We got up early to see us sail into the long inlet to the inner harbor, passing ancient buildings built into limestone cliffs, a city and a sight unlike no other. Valletta is an awesome sight by sea. The people are wonderful and really love there country. It is something I will always remember.
Naples is one heck of place, more Italian than Rome, really. Dogs barked and played, running in and out of the shops dockside. Ferries constantly arriving and leaving the port. The place was intoxicating. The tour with Holland America was great. The Tour of Pompeii. This was truly wonderful, I suggested it to anyone, but, remember do as they say bring lots of water and wear a hat, it can get hot and little or no shade once you enter the grounds of Pompeii.
The Staff The Staff- Every one was great, and always a smile from everyone. One note- the assistant cruise director - Jeffery went above the call of duty to help us plan out actives for our group. Also Jeffery always stopped us in the hall to say hello and ask if we needed anything. This makes the Holland America Line top notch and we will travel her again.
Check Out was flawless and easy.
Our flight home was tiresome, but, slept most of the way. The layover in London was 3 hours locked in a room with 200 other travelers. Not Fun.
In conclusion, We had a good time this trip. Holland American and the staff of the Westerdam are awesome. The ship and staff are some of the best in the industry.