Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly (we walked off with our luggage at 7:30AM and were at FLL by 8:15AM). One surprise on embarkation was that cabins were not available until between 3-4PM. Many passengers were very unhappy about having to drag their carry-on luggage around as they toured the ship and went to the buffet (some for 4-5 hours).
We had a VD veranda cabin and immediately noticed that our veranda furniture was in terrible disrepair. Although functional the "rattan" furniture was unraveling so that your arms and head were leaning against frayed "rattan". We told our cabin steward who smiled and offered the opinion that they "might be replaced in a week or two". We additionally informed the front desk a couple of days into the cruise and nothing was done. The draw curtain to the veranda was additionally missing at least two hooks and was hanging loose from the track. Our steward drew these curtains twice daily and no one ever thought to fix More
them. On the plus side we did enjoy the shower/tub much more than some of the coffin sized shower stalls on some other ships. Our steward was always pleasant, courteous and smiling.
We found the food to be average to slightly above average and enjoyed very much the culinary arts series on board. The food would improve with a "full flavored" or "spicy" option which some other lines have adopted. We hated anytime dining. We did not enjoy having to be seated by the staff each night we participated in this. They seemed inconvenienced to have to find a proper table for us and it clearly burdened wait staff who had already begun service at some of their other tables. We witnessed more than one party leave the dining room because of service issues during "anytime" dinners. By the end of the cruise we had negotiated our way into early seating which was much much more pleasant. We were only slightly happier with the Lido. They have removed trays and seem to have set up the "stations" at random. If you want a salad, hot entree, bread and dessert you must go to four different stations. The entree example were displayed at the hot food station but it was quite difficult to see the food and direct your portion size. At lunch the service staff was clearly overwhelmed often since instead of getting you own silverware you had to find a chair with silverware in front of it. The staff often could not clear tables and place new silver down fast enough to keep up with the demand. We took one dinner at the Pinnacle restaurant and did not return. Although our beef was far superior to anything else served on board, the salads and the sides were very reminiscent of the regular dining room fare. The wine list (for those interested) was inferior at the Pinnacle to the regular dining room. Most of the reds were from Washington state on the Pinnacle menu. For those who do partake in alcohol, we found the wine pricing to be outrageous and far higher than we had ever paid on Princess or Cunard. Our previous experiences showed prices to be between 100-200% markup over retail. On this cruise it was 300-500% markup. We experienced and watched others experience receiving lower grade distilled beverages than ordered, e.g. getting well gin when Tanqueray Ten was ordered; getting a lower end tequila when Patron was ordered. These substitutions occurred at multiple locations throughout the ship when drinks were ordered from a server rather than at the bar. The servers have also gotten into a new habit of having you sign a handwritten order without pricing. I do not feel that pricing errors were made but this conveys a little more trust than I am willing to give.
Entertainment was typical cruise ship fare. We did enjoy the Elton John impersonator the most. He was funny and talented. My DW enjoys Bingo on cruise ships. She did not enjoy Bingo on the Westerdam as it clearly was treated as an after thought both by the staff running it and the powers that be who stuck it in a corner of the Crows Nest to the dismay of the bingo players, cocktail drinkers and internet users alike. One of our suggestions for all cruise ships is to have movies, events, music in lounges throughout the day. It always seemed that everything began between 8-9PM in conflict with each other so that some things were missed at the expense of others. I don't believe we ever got to sit down and listen to music in a lounge due to entertainment conflicts. We also did not stay up late to do so.
All in all we had a very pleasant time getting away and cruising. Cruising beats working anytime, but I doubt that we will elect HAL for our future cruising plans. Less