This cruise was our honeymoon and we were joined by my brother and his wife and 2other friends. The cruise left Fort lauderdale on Sunday Dec 9th and returned on Sunday the 16th. This was our second HAL Cruise, my brothers 5th HAL Cruise and Elaine and Lorraine's first ever cruise.
Embarkation- This procedure is smooth as silk on HAL. We stayed at the Red Carpet Inn on Tate Road 84 near the cruise port. They had a shuttle service to the port but the line up was long and my brother was in a wheel chair so we phoned Ruben @ Alianza Tours and they picked us up within 10 minutes. They dropped us off at the door to the terminal and twenty minutes later we were on the Lido Deck eating lunch.
The Ship- The Westerdam is a beautiful ship and has a similar layout to the Veendam that we cruised before and we were quite pleased with the every facet of the ship.My brother used the Greenhouse Spa and he liked it and we ate every evening in the Vista Ding Lounge where Putu and Toro our waiters were exceptional as was Walter our wine steward. The food selection,preparation andtaste was great. I am a huge eater and they had no problem getting me what I wanted. My wife on the other hand likes a plain salad and plain food and they catered to her each and every night. We never went to the Pinnacle Grill because we had everything we could ask for in the Vista Dining Room and I never found the Pinnacle $ 60.00 better on the Veendam then the main dining room.
The Islands- We had to miss Grand Turk because of rough seas and tropical storm Olga. This was my brothers second attempt at going to Grand Turk and he has yet to get off the ship. They refunded our taxes on our ship board account. We went to San Juan next and 3 of us took a taxi tour for $ 60.00 that went to the Capital building which is beautifully crafted out of marble. We stopped to take pictures at the forts and went into Old San Juan and an visited this beautiful old church and then Hector dropped us off 2 blocks from the ship in Old San Juan to browse the shops on our way back. Next stop was St. Thomas and we met a cab driver named Howard who gave us a 2 hour island tour with a stop at the Mountain top. He was very knowledgeable of all the different trees and fruits on the island. He stopped at different times and we took lots of pictures. He dropped Deb and I off in town and took the others back to the ship. After a Sea day we stopped at Half Moon Cay. They let my brother take his wheel chair on the tender and we went to the beach and had a super time before heading back to the ship. We didn't have the BBQ there because of the lineup. ( See passengers section below) and we went back to the ship and relaxed. I didn't realize that you could get burnt standing in water up to your neck and I got quite pink.
Entertainment- The Casino was good but I only donated I didn't make a withdrawal. Debbie enjoyed the Bingo and we enjoyed most of the shows and the crew show. They did this take off of the Newlywed game with a cross section of 3 couples. Newlyweds, Married Thirty Years and Sixty Years. It was hilarious and I met each of the couples later throughout the cruise and shared laughs with them. The couple that was married 60 years won and they were a very neat special couple. The pianist Howard Hill, Philadelphia the comedian and Leo Ward the Illusionist were great. Howard Hill was a bit into himself for his accomplishments ( might be a little jealousy here on my part) but he was really talented. Philly was funny and did an Adult show that was good. Leo Ward was astonishing with his illusions. The Westerdam Cast were average to good but were quite acceptable as I don't go on a cruise to Broadway caliber musicals.
The Crew- I know I touched on this when I did the ship but I really was impressed with the crew. It wasn't just our group of waiters but everyone from the Captain to the guy that worked on closing up the pool. They were all special and we are much better off in life for being able to share this week with them. I hope we have made some life long friends.
Disembarkation- We had set a tour of the Everglades with Ruben and Alianza and they picked us up promptly and took us to the Everglades and stored our luggage before they picked us up and took us to the airport.