Westerdam Cruise Review by troy15: From snow to sunshine
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From snow to sunshine
On January 23 we flew nonstop from Cleveland to Fort Lauderdale on Continental airlines, as we were to sail on the Westerdam on Sunday the 24th. This would be our tenth cruise and we did not want to miss the boat due to flight delays or cancellations in the midst of winter. We took a taxi to our Fort Lauderdale Beach Marriott Courtyard hotel, which was very close to the famed beach. Unfortunately, it was very cool, windy and overcast in Florida then, with no swimmers in the ocean and few people on the beach. We, however, finding no snow, enjoyed a take-out picnic on the beach after we strolled along the shore. Later we ate a nice supper at an Italian restaurant nearby.
The next day we took a taxi to the cruiseport Port Everglades and began a swift embarkation process. In less than an hour we had gotten to our balcony cabin which had not been totally cleaned yet, but we were able to leave our carryon bags within it. We ate an elegant lunch at the Vista dining room, as we More were Mariners, repeat customers for HAL. Non-mariners who went to the Lido for the sumptuous buffet might have searched for a while for a table at which to eat, so we avoided that. The food on the Westerdam was magnificent; everything I chose was delicious and beautifully presented. The service by the Indonesian staff was attentive, but unobtrusive. We always ate breakfast and lunch from then on in the Lido buffet and had "As you wish" supper in the Vista. The supper menus in the Vista were fabulous , as our various dinner companions agreed.
We enjoyed our balcony cabin very much, as we have sometimes on other cruises had an oceanview or an obtructed view. How pleasant to sit in the sunshine with a view of the turquoise water! Due to high seas and inclement, cool weather, we were not able to go to Half Moon Cay. Our captain apologized perfusely, refunded the port fees, and passed out free champagne to all the Westerdam guests.
In the evening we usually went to the Vista Lounge for the entertainment. The 2 Broadway-like shows had marvelous dancers, perhaps the best male dancers I have seen on 10 cruises. The female dancers were very talented and appreciated by the men in the audience. The singers were performing unmelodic banal contemporary songs which might have appealed to a younger crowd. Most of the guests, however, were older (66+) than we were and this music was not from their youth. Some guests got up and left mid-performance. Wouldn't it be nice if HAL focused on the best music from 1940 and earlier to appeal to their clientele? Wouldn't it be delightful if the Halcats would play graceful waltzes and romantic slow dance music on formal nights? The very best entertainment on the Westerdam every evening was the string quartet from the Ukraine, called the Adagio String Quartet. These incredibly gifted young ladies played exquisite selections from the Classical repetoire. They deserved larger audiences than the Explorer's Lounge could hold. What a treat to hear the most beautiful music every night in such a refined atmosphere! It was also very nice to have the opportunity to attend Mass on board each day because HAL provides for a priest to be on the cruise. Less
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Cabin review: VF4040
Our stateroom 4040 was a pleasant veranda cabin with a comfortable bed, bathtub, and abundant storage space. It was very quiet, convenient to the elevators, and very clean. The balcony had a metal side, not Plexiglas, but the view was lovely over the top.
Port and Shore Excursions
In Aruba in the morning we went on the Atlantis Submarine Underwater Adventure and Shipwreck Exploration which enabled those of us who do not snorkle to actually see some coral, fish, and shipwrecks 120 feet below the surface of the Caribbean. It was a unique experience for us, as well as safe and comfortable. The boat ride to the site of the submarine was scenic, too. This excursion was expensive >$100 each, so we would not do this again, but we recommend it to other non-snorklers. In the afternoon we hired a local taxi to take us to Palm Beach, Aruba, where the soft sand and sparkling turquoise water gleamed in the brilliant sun. High-rise hotels with Spanish -speaking guests lay nearby, but the lovely beach was not crowded. Beach umbrellas and chairs were abundant on this perfect Caribbean shore. The salty water kept us afloat with no effort. This idyllic afternoon cost around $40 including taxis, which were easily available near the beach.
The next day we docked in the charming port of Willemstad, Curacao. We were very near the Queen Emma pontoon bridge, so we could quickly walk to town. The architecture is Dutch, with the buildings festively painted in bright pink, yellow, orange, and blue. We wandered around the Punda, where I especially liked a fabric shop. The store window dislayed Mardi Gras costumes made with gorgeous fabric from within. We also toured the Floating Market and the local jewelry stores. In the afternoon we went on the Curacao Beach Express, an HAL excursion to the Cas Abou beach. This beach was rather isolated, had dramatic rock formations, and crystalline water. Under brilliant blue skies we floated in the very buoyant, salty sea. There were some rocks in the shoreline and the shallow section, but otherwise the beach was wonderful. Sipping a Heinekens under a palm tree after a delightful swim seemed the quintessential Caribbean experience. After a few hours the HAL excursion tour bus shoed us a bit of the plantation scenery, then brought us back to the Westerdam.