First of all, my New Year's cruise on the Westerdam was one of the best cruises I've ever sailed on. Upon our arrival at the embarkation, my mother had a medical emergency and needed a wheelchair plus speedy transport up to our cabin, which was immediately acted upon by the staff. We were greeted with a clean cabin, fresh flowers, a bottle of champagne, and great weather.
During the muster drill, I ran into our former dining steward, Dody, who had been assigned to our table on the old Noordam back in 2001. It was a wonderful surprise to see him again and I requested that we dine in his section. He is the maitre' d now and was able to change our table and dining time. Dody assisted us throughout the cruise and couldn't do enough for my mother and family. We will always be grateful to Dody, and the many other fine employees of HAL.
We were also upgraded to the Navigation deck (which happened before we went on the cruise) and were able to take advantage of the many great amenities. (free laundry, champagne, Neptune lounge..more on that later!) Our cabin steward was most accommodating and answered several requests. I've always enjoyed meeting and talking with the staff of HAL. They are polite and always smiling. The captain was very experienced as well and seemed friendly.
The verandah is where I spent most of my time. Relaxing, reading, and we also had room service bring us our breakfast and at least one dinner on the verandah. The in house movies were also quite good and were enjoyed by all of us.
The entertainment was good, but not as professional as the entertainment I remembered seeing on RC's "Explorer of the Seas".
The food was average, but you can't beat Holland America's high tea for the pastries. What a delight! And if you are lucky enough to be on the Navigation deck you can have tea time everyday.
I enjoyed the shore excursion to the mountaintop at St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. I would recommend it to anyone. Try the banana daquiris at the top and enjoy the gorgeous view. I also saw a mongoose and some iguanas in St. Thomas. Plus, the shopping district is a great treat!
Puerto Rico's port is so convenient. You can walk to the Old District or take a cab. It was busy while we there since the Zuiderdam, Noordam, and Westerdam were all there. I did go shopping and gambling and had a great time.
We also stopped at Nassau, but I stayed on the verandah and finished reading my book. It was sunny and it was just fun to watch all of the action that goes on around that port.
The New Year's celebrations were fun! There was karaoke in the Mariner's Lounge and a party down in the ship's theater...packed with partiers. Dancing and drinking champagne...a good time was had by all.
I can't say enough about HAL..I don't have any negative comments to say and will cruise with them again next Christmas on the Zuiderdam to the Panama Canal. Can't wait! Hope to see you there!