Embarkation Day - all went smoothly with arrival around 11:00 ad not much in the way of lines. We were soon in the Dining room for an excellent lunch- good sign - had been told that we were in luck because our chef is excellent! Our room was deck 4 near the back and not far from the elevators - great for getting around the ship and not much movement.
This was out third sailing on the Westerdam and she is still in very good shape. She is due for dry dock this spring before she heads to Europe but I could find very little as far as problems with her - very well maintained. Peter Harris was a captain - very nice and very capable. Shane was the cruise director and was when we sailed her two years ago.
Dining room and food details - VISTA DINING ROOM - we had early fixed dining - found the wait staff in that dining room to be excellent -used the other dining room sometimes and found a couple of them rather curt attitude but I admit I was spoiled. I had Dewar who just came back on the ship and will be there for the next 10 months. These guys really work hard and we always tip the good ones extra. He was special - we had some high maintenance folks are our table and nearby and he never blinked when they kept asking for special items after the meal had been prepared- ie.... i don't really like this I would rather have fresh steamed veggies and now i need hot salsa and now will you change the salad ingredients and I only want my salmon grilled and nothing on the side and could I change everything. Through all of this he never blinked and eye and was glad to see everyone come to the table. LIDO - food consistently good and nice offerings -chef definitely stays on top of his staff in the venue. There was always plenty of food and lots of help getting it to a table. LIDO BARBECUE which IMO was only so-so both weeks. Too crowded and not enough food PINNACLE - did lunch this time and in the future will not - time is too limited for lunch and I admit I like the dinner menu much better - I also think the wait staff tries a bit harder in the evenings but it could have just been the guy we had. SPECIAL MEALS- since we were on two weeks they had a special meal in the dining room for the 500 who did that and next time I will go to the LIDO with the crowds- embarkation lunch week one in the dining room had a menu and was very pleasant Mariners meals - did not go either week so cannot comment MASTER DINNER_ think this is their answer to sparklers on the cakes and it was fine - food was good as usual but not sure they need to do this TEA- have sister in law who loves their afternoon tea so went one day with her for that and it was very nice - will try to do that more often SPECIAL DIETS - IMO this is a biggie these days Sugar free- well prepared- could not tell the difference- heads up if you cannot have sugar and would like a fruity mixed drink - consider the mojito but make sure it is powered - much lower sugar GLUTEN- one of our group the second week has gluten issues and they met each day with menu to make decisions and they were very happy about the attention to this. Included chocolate cake and pancakes which were great Allergies- very attentive to food allergies and will prepare as specified to your needs. DIETS- what were they thinking? They fixed a special meal each night of steamed veggies and grilled meat no salt for one of the passengers and a fresh bowl of fruit for dessert BARS Ocean and Crow's nest had specials every night ( 2 for 1 ) at different times. Piano Bar - Had Tim Kelly who did an excellent job entertaining Northern Lights - for the first time had lots of activity - Karaoke, dancing games etc Other Bars - Pinnacle fine, Explorers - string quartet was very good the first week and so-so the second week
ENTERTAINMENT - Lounge shows - well presented and well prepared - nice variations - really enjoyed Broadway show in Queen's Lounge the second week by the Halcats and the four lead singers Rebecca, John, Sarah and Eric who work well together Missed ventriloquist but saw him in a review later in the week and he was good, Julie Barr was the comedian and she was funny but should really do not think he has a serious bone in his body - they were quite a group of entertainers
CASINO - very kind to DH - not so kind to me - not too impressive - not very many .01 or .02 cent machines and way too many of the old standards. CC Board friends played tables and had some issues there with several things - expect nothing and I guess it is better than nothing.
POOLS - did not use aft pool which BTW is adults only but spent most of it in Lido pool which was fine and great for people watching. SPA - did not use this time nor the exercise equipment but all seemed to be in good shape and there were lots of different opts to do things.
EXCURSIONS - okay - not much different and exciting once you have been to the Caribbean - SEA DAYS - priceless SEAS - even on the rocky days the ship handled them well - we always take meds for those day since you never know!!!
PEOPLE on the CRUISE - People were very friendly and we have made some great friends - our board choose to do a wine crawl and we survived - everyone brought a bottle of wine to share - it was great. We started out in an unused area near the aft pool but were told we could only do it once. Then we told that there would be a cork fee for 34 of the bottles of wine to which we indicated that there were no corks ( screw tops ) and the rest of the bottles were open. Long short - one of our members offered their cabin and off we went. It was such a great time that we did it again the last night with any wine that was left over. What a great bunch of people!!!!!! Second week there were several of us who stayed for the this and it too was a great week - had a meet and great of about 50 people who had been posting on the board and saw them throughout the week on the ship. Much warmer the second week! My compliments to the Westerdam and her staff- this is our third sailing and I am just as impressed with her as the first. She is a very pretty vessel with enough room to get lost in but not enough to not be able to find your way aroun. I heard good things from the parents about the HAL program for kids.
Would I do it again? I would do less excursions and do some more independent touring now that I have a better feel for these places. For the right price I would go again because I like the cruising and I do not like the cold Chicago Winters! This one was a real treat because of all the new friends we made here on this board!