We flew from ORD to FLL on American and had a good flight. We stayed two nights at the Hyatt Pier 66 and found the hotel very nice. Service was good except for one night at the marina casual restaurant (Pelican Landing). We (and many others) left without getting our food because they were overwhelmed and very very slow. It was truly the worst service we have ever seen. The hotel has a very nice pool area. There aren't many restaurants within close walking distance but you can take a short taxi, trolley or bus to many choices. The view from the top floor room is amazing.
We took the city bus (40) up the beach and to Bonnet House and the Galleria Mall. It was neat to see the beach on spring break. It was REALLY busy. We walked over the 17Th St. bridge several times. There is a great view of the ships in port. We went to a little diner caller "Harbor Cafe" and liked the "local" feel. HAL allows you to take on wine so we bought some wine near the cafe for the cruise. It is good of HAL to have this policy.
We grabbed a taxi for the short trip to the ship around 11:30. Embarkation was very fast. We found no lines. It was very well organized. We went to the Mariner (previous passenger) lunch in the dining room. It was a set menu Indonesian lunch and VERY good. It was really relaxing versus the typical Lido embarkation lunch experience. This a very good thing for HAL to do.
The cabins became available at 1:30. This was our first veranda cabin in the Caribbean and it was very nice sized. The room steward for very good although we only saw him a few times. He, and his asst., kept our ice bucket filled and the room in good shape. One tip is that the privacy sign has a "service room" request on the other side. Putting this out when you leave the room helped the steward know the room was available during the normal service cycle.
HAL hosted a Cruise Critic "Meet and Greet." The Beverage Manager and Cruise Director attended and answered questions. Arranging the meeting was handled very well prior to the cruise. It is nice of HAL to support CC members in this way.
We had fixed seating at 8:00 each night. The food (except for the pizza in the Lido) was very good across the board. The service was also great. Our family thought that this was overall the best food we have had on a cruise.
The entertainment was great. The Joel Mason shows were REALLY good, the piano bar singer was fun, the classic strings were nice, the HAL Cats and singer were really talented (much better than we had on the Zuiderdam last June). The nights the played Motown was great for dancing.
We missed Half Moon Cay because of high winds but got to spend a full day in Aruba instead. Although we really missed HMC getting more time on Aruba was a good trade. On Aruba, we got a 1 1/2 hour tour from a vendor on the pier. We saw some rock formations and the lighthouse and then got dropped (and picked up) at Palm Beach. We went to "Moomba Beach Club" on Palm Beach. Palm Beach is very nice. We had lunch there and then went on the "pirate" ship snorkel that leaves from there. That was really fun. The teens really loved the rope swing.
We had a bit of concern because this was the last cruise prior to a dry dock. Except for a bit of carpet wear and a bit of rust in a few places the ship was in excellent shape and very clean. The Westerdam has a very elegant feel. We liked the gold tones much better than the red/purples of the Zuiderdam. We didn't find smoke a problem on the ship except in the casino. We had to leave one night because of it. Our daughter took a class in the spa and liked it. The gym was in good condition.
On Curacao we walked around Wilhemstadt. It is very European and very much in contrast with the high rises of Aruba. Very neat. We again took a 1 1/2 tour that went to a Curacao distillery store, the Spanish Waters area, and a quick stop at the beach. It was nice seeing a bit of the island. We then walked around the alleys in the hotel Kura Hulanda which is a very nice hotel.
Disembarkation was also very smooth. Thirty-five minutes after leaving our cabin we were at the gate at FLL. Overall, the Westerdam made for a great Spring Break.