We haven't been on Holland America for 8 years and took this opportunity to re-visit HAL. The boarding process was quick and efficient. Ft. Lauderdale has the process perfected in our opinion. We boarded ship and immediately went to the dining room for lunch. Since we are Mariners we enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere of the dining room rather than the frenetic Lido. The Indonesian lunch was excellent. My husband is not an adventurous eater, but thoroughly enjoyed his lunch which was a sampling of many Indonesian flavors. It was a little spicy, but not too much for most.
We got to our VA cabin on Navigation deck and were pleased with the room. We were upgraded from VF category. Our stateroom is directly below the Lido, but being towards the aft, we were not bothered by moving chairs at night. Yes, we heard the chairs being moved early in the morning, and while we were dressing for dinner, but definitely not during sleep times (we had late seating for dinner). The room is comfortable, but we would have liked more drawer space...there is an abundance of closet space though!
Our cabin attendants were efficient, very willing to accommodate our few requests, and did a good job keeping my ice bucket full all the time. We brought our own drinks so we requested our mini fridge be emptied of all the pre-stocked drinks. The stateroom service was very good. We had room service coffee each morning and they were always on time if not a bit early.
The dining room service also was very good. Our waiters knew our likes from the second dinner forward. We love lots of lemon in our water and it was always on the table for us when we sat down. We requested that we like our food hot and we always received it that way. The dining selections were very good and the presentation was excellent. We loved having ice cream available every afternoon at no charge (so many other lines charge for premium ice cream). Breakfast selections were varied and quite nice. The eggs Benedict selections were fresh and done beautifully. Lunches had nice salads and a good assortment of hot foods. They have a sandwich station that makes great paninis! We checked out the menus in the Lido for dinner and they always had most of the same offerings as the main dining room.
The pools were being used a lot (we didn't use them because we live year round in south Florida and we like warmer water) by all ages. As always, the pool chair hogs would lay their towels and a book and abandon their chairs for hours. It is a common problem on most cruise ships, but we always found a nice quiet spot aft on the observation deck...the lounges are padded and nicer than the plastic ones by the pools anyway.
We had rough seas, but the ship handled it very well. The rocking was relaxing not upsetting. The ship is beautifully maintained. The bright-work is sparkling and the carpeting is always being vacuumed.
There are activities going on but they are not loudly announced. It is a more sedate atmosphere, a nod to more traditional cruising. Internet access is decent if you are in the public areas. We found the Internet person very helpful when we were having a slow connection (we brought our own netbook). They have an adequate number of computers to use and the pricing is comparable to other cruise lines.
The only negative for us is their future booking policy. We always do a future booking deposit, but HAL does not offer to return your deposit if you decide not to use it within the 4 year period. While it is not a large sum of money, it shouldn't be lost if there is a problem. What if there is an incapacitating illness that would prevent someone from using the deposit, and the worst case would be if there were a death. Perhaps HAL will read our suggestion to bring their policy up to Princess's.
Disembarkation was a breeze. It is a silent disembark which works great. We were off the ship by 9:00am; through customs by 9:15am and were walking into our house at 10:15am (remember, we live in south Florida)!
We thoroughly enjoyed our week on the Westerdam.