Westerdam Cruise Review by Ponygal2: fantastic winter escape
Overall Member Rating
fantastic winter escape
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Embarking at the cruise port was quick and easy - off to lunch right away until our rooms were ready.
Veranda suite was wonderful. Adequate balcony with comfy chairs and table. Lots of cupboard space and nice bathroom. The bed was the best and the comfy robes were a nice touch. The room attendants (Deden and Adanan) doted on us and left us fresh fruit and towel animals daily along with chocolates.
Dining was very good. Excellent variety of offerings for breakfast and lunch. Loved the icecream bar. Never tried the pool grill but heard the french fries were excellent. I was a tiny bit disappointed in the dining room meals - I kind of expected them to be "to die for" and they were good, but not memorable. I have read other reviews praising the Pinnacle Grill, but we never ate there. The wait staff (Sony and Joko) were excellent and knew us by name the second day.
Half moon key, our first stop, was beautiful. The water was a bit chilly so we More didn't venture in long. The barbecue lunch was mediocre but the warm air and the entertaining chickens and their babies scurrying along through the shrubbery made up for the so so food. My husband isn't much of a beach bum so we headed back to the ship after a few hours. Our second stop at Grand Turk was on a very windy day. Our catamaran excursion was cancelled, but we were offered a snorkel and stingray adventure instead. We had a great time and the rough water on the departure and return made for bonding with the other participants. Grand Turk has work to be done after the devastating hurricane. We didn't venture any further than the cruise port area.
Grand Cayman was the third stop - the port is pure tourist bliss or hell depending on how much you like to shop. We took Cpt. Nemo's snorkel adventure and at first thought we were on the wrong excursion when we were ushered below deck of a boat to sit on benches and look out large windows. They toured us over 2 wrecks then stopped in the harbor and we did snorkel over the reef. It was a bit crowded with a kayak tour at the same time, but they moved off and we saw Parrot fish, jackfish, Sgt. Majors, and we even saw a sea turtle. It was an excellent excursion.
Our fourth stop was at Cozumel. The tours to the ruins were full day trips and the dolphin encounters were out of our price range so we opted for a zipline and adventure park/snorkel outing. We were taxied out to a resort about 20 minutes away from the port and got to ascend "rock" towers, navigate rope bridges, slide along a zip line and try rappelling. Afterwards we got a chance to snorkel off the beach before ending the adventure with a free drink. Be warned about the vendors at the Cozumel Port: I found them to be somewhat aggressive, so if you're not interested in shopping, don't make eye contact!
The evening shows were excellent - loved Joel Mason and Jim Labriola, the comedian. Watched the finale of Westerdam Idol - the judges (DJ Jazzy, Joel and Jim were judges - it was a scream! We took a mixology course while on board and could have gone to afternoon teas, played trivia games and bingo if we weren't on excursions.
Enjoyed the different lounges and bars; Explorations cafe/internet area was popular. We are used to high speed internet so be warned the speed on ship is snail-pace and very very expensive: $.75 per minute unless you buy bulk minutes starting at $55.00 for 100 minutes. In the cafe you could read a book or work on a jigsaw puzzle (note to HAL - you need better lighting for those who wish to work on puzzles in the evening) Avoided the casino because of the smoking. The public areas were always being polished or vacuumed and the ship was very clean. Hand sanitizing stations were everywhere so you didn't worry about norovirus. The shops on board were a bit pricey and we could do without the art auctions or photo gallery. If you like drinking liquor and pop, be aware it doesn't come cheap especially the tempting mini bar in your room. A mini bottle of wine from there was $8.00 and a can of pop was $2.00 and don't forget the 15% gratuity on top of that.
We liked the mail boxes at our door which always had little notices about what was happening on the ship or at our next stop.
We were sad to leave the last day, and disembarking and customs was fast and painless.
Overall we had a terrific vacation, the weather was great - we didn't feel sick even though we had one day with rough seas. I would highly recommend HAL's Westerdam to anyone looking for a relaxing and pampered holiday. Less
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