We are veteran cruisers and have cruised on Holland America in the past several times. This was actually our first (and last) time to be on the Westerdam. The crew's attitudes ranged from barely pleasant to surly to downright rude at times. We were told we had to take open seating if we wanted to eat in the formal dining room which meant that every day, we had to call and make reservations and they told us when we could come to eat. We never had the same waiter or assistant waiter so every night we had to go through trying to get our iced tea, cheese plate, etc. Seven nights out of seven, our orders for dinner came wrong. We were told "No, you can't have shrimp cocktail as an appetizer, it is not on tonight's menu. What! It is on the room service menu every night. What's up with that?
One night we went down to the ice cream and cookie bar to get a snack and again, they were out of cookies (about 50% of the time, the cookie trays was empty). This time, we asked the crew member if he could refill the tray and he said no, they were "out of cookies". He said if we wanted cookies, we would have to order them from room service. We asked if he got cookies from the same place room service did and he said yes, the kitchen. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. We got higher up management involved and within 5 minutes, the cookie tray was refilled and the manager on duty was apologizing profusely. The crew member just didn't want to walk down to the kitchen and refill the tray. This was just one example of the lack of service that we experienced on this trip.
Something is definitely wrong with the attitudes of the crew on this ship. Our stateroom was never cleaned until well into the afternoon. One day, it was so late in the afternoon, the attendant just came in, straightened out the bed and turned it down for the night. That meant we had to go with a dirty bathroom and no fresh towels or washcloths all day. They have also discontinued having a carafe of water in your room. Now, if you want water, you have to get it out of the bathroom faucet or buy the bottled water in the mini-bar. And, about the mini-bar... They have removed one whole cabinet from the dressing area and replaced it with a mini-bar. I was going to get a diet coke out of the bar one afternoon, but noticed that the expiration date was 2 months prior, so I passed on that. I called it to the room steward's attention. He said he would bring fresh cokes, but he never got around to it for the whole week we were there. We would much rather have had the storage space and got our drinks/snacks from room service where we know that they would be fresh.
We have always purchased photos of the formal night dinner (from the photo shop) when we get all dressed up, but on this cruise, no one ever came around to the tables taking pictures. We finally found the place they were taking pictures and had shots taken which we did purchase, but the price for the one sheet was $39.00! This has gone up dramatically since last year.
I look forward to shopping on board ship and usually buy quite a bit of jewelry, etc., but was disappointed in the small shopping area and lack of variety. Even their selection of on-board alcohol was very limited. We were told that they had not had time to stock it when they were in port!
About the "Dutch High Tea" that they emphasize...it too has really changed. Formerly, it was served with waiters serving from trays and pouring the tea and was quite formal. Now, one just goes through a buffet line and picks up snack food. People were not dressed for high tea, shorts and sandals were the norm. It could just as well been done down in the Lido restaurant. It is not that I minded that it was informal, it just bothered me that it was supposed to be a Dutch High Tea and it was just another snack time. I have been on Holland America ships in the past where High Tea was served and I was expecting it to be what it was promoted as.
Our only positives about this cruise was the entertainment on most of the nights. The singers and dancers were wonderful and the Elton John Impersonator show was absolutely outstanding. We didn't care for the female comedienne that performed a couple of nights, but everyone has different tastes when it comes to entertainment. She was a bit coarse for our tastes, but some people like that sort. I don't know what is going on with Westerdam. We were traveling with another couple and their experiences were just as disappointing as ours. When we were leaving the ship, we heard time and time again how this cruise just did not live up to expectations. We will not be traveling with Holland America again in the near future. We will stick to Celebrity - our favorite cruise line. We have never had a bad experience with that line (or Royal Caribbean either for that matter.)