Westerdam January 31, 2010 7 day Western Caribbean.
This is our second trip on the Westerdam and our sixth cruise. We booked direct and picked a VE category and had to take a GTY even though we booked in October. It took till about 10 days before the trip before we got our assignment. VE looked great because they are mostly amidships around deck 5. We wound up with a VA cat on deck 8 just under the Lido dining room, near the aft elevators. Cabin 8096. It turned out great because we were just steps from the pool area or to grab a cup of coffee while waiting for the DW to get ready.
Trip down: We flew down Saturday PM on SW from Chicago. Watched for one of their Tuesday sales and got a set of seats for $79 each way. Stayed at the comfort suites which has a shuttle from FLL and to the ship. Hotel is not the greatest but was clean and about $200 because it was football week with the Pro bowl 1/31 and Super bowl 2/7 in Miami. Everybody was charging a little more for things. Had dinner at Outback Steakhouse. They lock the door at 9:30.
Boarding: Booked the shuttle for 1:00 PM but got on the 12:30 because somebody else didn't show. Got on the boat in 15 mins. And up to the Lido bar. They had extra tables set up on the pool deck and plenty of food out so everybody was having lunch. It was a lousy day and they closed the pool dome. Cabins; At the standard 1:30 time they announced cabins were ready.
We've been on a few Princess Mini suites since our last Westerdam trip so the room looked smaller than I remembered it. Had to go out on the verandah to turn around and a lot of contact moving around the cabin. The couch you see in pictures is a love seat size. There was 18 inches between bed and wall and 24 inches between foot and wall. 7 1/2 feet from bed to verandah door. Tub is a 4 ½ footer with shower and clothes line. No coin laundry on ship. Cabin stewards are a little harder to find with cutbacks and such but keep up on things.
Life boat drill was at 4:15 without life jackets. At your life boat site. Our CC first meeting was at 5 PM at the sea view bar with Mardi Gras beads. We had friends from Chicago to meet also at the same time and place. It started to drizzle when we were departing. Got a little chilly. It was cool and wet most of the night.
Food and Formal: Formal nights were Monday and Thursday. Thursday was also surf and turf night which was really good. We went to the Pinnacle twice ($20 each) after reviewing the dinner menu. Friday was one of them. Saturday was the "Master Chef's Dinner" good -bye dinner and the staff did a little show in the dining room. Dinner was also a little earlier to allow for the show. We had a table for 10 and were joined by 6 people traveling together plus our friends. Each night we rotated seats. Saturday was a fun night.
Liquor- Drinks- Coffee: We bought a three bottle wine package ($135) for dinner and brought aboard two bottles of wine for the room. It worked out because when we went to Pinnacle we had different wine. It seems to me that the prices on wine have crept up in the Pinnacle although they have not raised the $20 surcharge. We had a $69 bottle one night. I also purchased a bucket of beer on day one and kept the extras in the cabin. 5 for 4 special. We had to call to have the stock items removed from the fridge. I brought in small vodka for the room also. Nothing was mentioned. We have brought aboard wine and paid the corkage fee at dinner before which is now $20 I hear. The way I look at it is if you're allowed to bring two bottles of wine for drinking in your room and you buy two bottles at the table you're kinda splitting the overall cost and averaging things out.
We drink coffee and found that the coffee has improved in recent years. So the coffee card we bought didn't get used much and we have left over credits that we may or may not use. It was 10 cups for $26.10.
Beer was MGD for $4.89 each with tip, or the bucket for $19 for 5 or about $4 each.
Joey was our bartender at the Pinnacle bar. This was our meet before dinner local. He makes a great Cosmo and our group had a few of them over the week. Cosmo's were $6.50 which isn't bad, I've paid as much as $9 in some places. The first night I sat down at the bar and told him I would be joined by friends. My wife then took off to make sure everything was working in the casino and our other friends forgot to change their clocks. So there I sat by myself with my invisible friends. The next night I introduced Joey to my "invisible friends".
Monday Half Moon Cay: Tendered. Cloudy early but it cleared up. Went ashore had lunch , had a beer or two. Walked around a little, didn't do much. We're not big on sitting in the sun anymore.
Monday, Formal Night.
News: The ship puts out a daily "Times Digest" which is an 8 page newspaper with a crossword puzzle. Keeps you up on markets and news from New York. There is also a Daily Program with ships events. Make sure you check out the Digital Workshop which is FREE and has classes each day. I was interested in photo editing and found the classes helpful. The classes repeat and are held in a room next to the store on deck three forward with about 16 computers.
Tuesday 2/2 Grand Turk at noon: Docked. Only one ship in port so there was no problem getting a table next to the pool. Walked around the shops then went to Margaritaville, took a swim had a few drinks plus some nachos. Left about 4:30. bill was $82 for four of us.
Wednesday Sea Day: Bingo tickets $25 for the package
Thursday 2/4 Grand Cayman. Tendered.
Had been here before and had booked stingray city with Captain Marvins tours. Had a 11:15 booking and were at the office by 10:45, paid up and were on our way by 11:15. Took 30 mins. to get to the dock. Then off to the snorkel area. They dove there for a while but I can't swim so we just watched. Then all aboard and off to the sandbar for the stingrays. Water is only chest deep at most here and the rays come right up to touch you when you get in. Water temp was beautiful and it was very entertaining and we all got to hold the rays and feel the skin and pet them and feed them. Our boat was smaller then the ships excursion boat which I find a little nicer. We paid $40 each, don't know what the boat charges. Back to the dock to see Capt. Marvin sitting on the shore. He really is over 90. Shook hands on the way off the boat. I will do the same trip each and every time I come here, promise.
Back to town and then there is a second story t-shirt shop on the corner that has FREE internet. Ran up there for a few minutes and checked my emails. With the daily paper onboard I found less need to go on line so I never used the ships system. Our hotel pre -cruise also had free service so I was never far from checking in.
Thursday formal night. Surf and Turf. Dessert extravaganza night.
Friday 2/5 Cozumel, Docked at the downtown pier.
There were 5 ships in so the place was busy. Mexico shopping rule number 1 is that the closer you are to the entrance the higher the price. That didn't stop one of ours from paying $9 for a name bracelet which was $7 at another shop 30 feet away until you walked away then is got down to $5. We took the glass bottom boat / scuba trip for $25 each which was marked at $40. Nice diversion. Then back to Carlos and Charlies for more nacho's and margaritas. Lido pool party night. Friday.
Saturday sea day. Bingo- farewell variety show-
We requested departure at 9-930 and were given 9-915. You stay in your room and go down to the exit at your time. Very civilized. Had time for breakfast.
General items: lido food was good, they make over easy a little too easy. Order over medium. Can't really get crisp bacon, there isn't any. There is an eggs benedict station on starboard side. Ice cream is free all day. There is tons of food all over. They have a nacho's and taco salad bar on Lido every afternoon plus the burgers and hot dog station. At the bar we got the appetizer of the day. Pizza in the Lido also.
We had our meet and mingle on first sea day in explorers lounge/ crows nest. They supplied food and coffee, we brought our own wine. Good people to meet. Members had brought on board cases of wine. I only had two bottles. Others found a liquor store to deliver to their hotel.
Our friends flew in Sunday afternoon and cabbed it to the pier for $20 with tip. Short ride 20 mins. We stayed in FLA after cruise and rented a car from Budget at Quay shopping center which is on the road to the pier. They shuttle to and from pier only. The shuttle gets crowded when all the ships return so this time we grabbed a cab for $10 which got us in line ahead of everybody else and on our way a little faster. We also returned car to Quay and took a cab to FLL for $15. We stayed until the 10th which was good because that monster snow storm closed down the East coast and SW cancelled all Midway flights from 10AM Tuesday to 10AM Wednesday. We flew out at 3PM.
Had a good time and would consider doing it again. I'm also a firm believer in the future cruise deposit program and bought two of those. I currently have two for Princess also. I am also a stock holder for Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) which owns HAL and I got the shareholders on board credit of $100. Look up shareholder benefit. I decided to try my luck one night at the slot machine and I put $20 into the double diamond $1 machine and played $2. I hit two jackpots and had $360 after 8 pulls. I decided to play out $40 more and hit another one. When I quit I had $500 in hand and walked away.