We are a late 40s-early 50s couple who have cruised on HAL, NCL, and Carnival on 12 cruises. This cruise was a celebration of our 5th wedding anniversary. We were married on the NCL Sun and continue to cruise for our anniversary every year. Overall, we were very impressed with the Westerdam's understated decor, variety of musical entertainment, excellent service and crew attitude ("can-do" from everyone encountered) and the food served.
The weather unfortunately was pretty bad for this cruise, in fact the worst I have seen in 25 years of cruising. Last year we went right through Tropical Storm Olga on the Miracle and thought that was bad but it only lasted a day. This week had several days of clouds, high winds (Gale Force 7), choppy seas and extreme side to side rolling of the ship. A cold front had dropped down so quite chilly as well. We have strong constitutions so we did not get ill, but one day our room steward told us that half of his cabins had "do not disturb" and were suffering from seasickness.
CABIN: Our cabin (5190) was fabulous. Lots of cabin storage, comfortable bed and furnishings, huge bathroom. There were some issues with maintenance at first (light burned out over dressing table, shower cord twisted and no water coming out) but these were quickly taken care of when reported to our very efficient Room Steward, Indra . Interior furnishings were in good shape, however the lounge chairs on the balcony and ottomans had areas of torn rattan. We were surprised that a suite would have such ratty looking balcony furniture.
The wrap balcony was huge. When the weather cooperated, we enjoyed breakfast out there and even hosted a small cocktail party (free hors d'oeuvres included with suite) one evening before dinner.
DINING AND ENTERTAINMENT: Service onboard was the best we have encountered in a long time. Everyone greeted us with big smiles throughout the ship. Our dining room team of Richard and Jerry were fantastic and we felt the food was very good with only a couple of "misses". We like well-spiced food and only 1 or 2 entrees were bland (Parmesan Breaded Chicken was awful). We most enjoyed the lamb dishes.
We had purchased the Vow Renewal Package which included a beautiful ceremony officiated by Captain Peter Harris in the Piano Lounge on 7:30PM after leaving Grand Cayman. There were only 2 other couples and each couple said their vows with the Captain privately. A string quartet played before and after the ceremony, we had champagne, hors d'oeuvres, cake, and received a photo album with three photos. Our only complaint was that this took place after a busy day of snorkeling and stingrays with Capt. Marvin's and we wished it had taken place on a day at sea instead. We booked the Pinnacle Grill for 8:30PM after the ceremony and despite being tired, had a wonderful dinner.
The Pinnacle Grill Manager, Elvira, and her staff make the Pinnacle experience a not to be missed event. I had the Surf and Turf (huge prawn and filet I requested made Diane style) and my husband had the veal chop. Everything was exceptional. The service was friendly and professional. Our waiters, Chris and Deny, were attentive and greatly added to the dining experience.
We thoroughly enjoyed the classical music played in the Explorer Lounge, the Queen's Lounge music mix from the Hal Cats and spent a couple of hours reliving the Disco era in Northern Lights. I have the sore feet to prove the latter :)
We did not go to any shows but heard many good comments about them.
Half Moon Cay was lovely as always. The best private island as far as we are concerned. For our Anniversary celebration, we purchased the cabana with butler. Our butler, Deny, saw to our every request. There were a few "hiccups" with the food delivery and Deny quickly went to check on the delay. We had Grilled Shrimp and Tenderloin from the Pinnacle and the best Dark Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce ever! The water was quite cold that day but we enjoyed some swimming and saw a few fish close to shore. We enjoyed the last cabana on the beach for it's quiet until a loud group of ship entertainers from the Noordam pulled chairs directly at the entrance to our cabana and proceeded to yell, hit a volleyball around and one made obscene gestures to the amusement of the others. Fortunately this was during the last hour on the island. We made a complaint to our butler and one of the officers nearby and they recommended we contact HAL which we plan to do. Apparently staff are told to enjoy beach free time away from the passenger area.
Grand Turk was pretty much a ship day for us. The past hurricane devastation was visible. We walked around the port area and decided it was cool and windy for the beach area so returned to enjoy the ship. When we visited the Lido we found 1/2 of the passengers had the same idea. It was absolutely packed. Then rain started and more came back.
Grand Cayman equals Capt. Marvin for us. We have used their Snorkel/Stingray City tours three times. They are efficient, friendly and safety conscious. We were on the tour with about 20 people. The snorkeling was choppy but very good. We saw a wide variety of fish. At Stingray City I fed the stingrays which I love to do. The weather this day was extremely chilly, windy and we had rain several times. Despite this, we thoroughly enjoyed the day with them.
Costa Maya..no tour but we enjoyed the port area with Margarita's, Tequila and my husband tried the local beer. Bought some beautiful silver including a cross and earring and on the way out found some Mexican Espresso Cups. The shops were friendly and not aggressive.
SUMMARY: Fabulous staff, good to great food, incredible service and smiles....weather bad! Unfortunately the cruise lines have not found a way to have daily sunshine and smooth seas, but the experience on the Westerdam more than made up for Mother Nature.